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German losses vs. West and East

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Been doing a bit of research on accounts of western and eastern front combat. In actual battle situations, both defense and offense, it appears the Germans on average gave a better account of themselves (assuming they weren't pinned down by stand and hold type orders etc.). For example you hear of German counterattacks smashing various Soviet divisions, or surprising various soviet columns but on the West you hear of the allies hitting german columns hard, attacking and taking positions with less losses, and defending successfully (I wonder what the combat loss ratios were for German vs. West and Germans vs. East). Thus I wonder if you took the Germans out and made it West vs. Russians it might appear that the West might wipe the Russians out at the time.

Even take Bagration for example, it seems the Russians lost more ratio wise on the attack there than the Allies did in Normandy.

Well I welcome comments, and perphaps my perceptions are not correct (but I'm going what I've seen so far - take for example the Lorraine campaign where the Germans couldn't do much at all).

Conan

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Well, the soviet tactic assumed a lot of losses with each operation. Soviet Army was a big Army in number of units. However, its theorical and practical formation was poor.

The main resource in URSS was the human.

The Allies or Axis armies, with less human resources and better military academies and schools, were more interested in tactical and strategical knowledges.

For example. In 1942, the most of soviet tanks crews, hadnt driven any other vehicle before their T34. They were farmers without mechanical knowledges. In USA or West Europe cars or bikes were usuals in 1920,s or 1930,s.

Thats the reason beacause the soviet tanks didnt look for better aproximation ways or flank movements.

Further, the tactical control in battle for soviets officers was precary, because only one of each 3 or 5 tanks had radio. And its wellknown than the russian tanks turret until 1943 were only for 2 crewmembers, gunner and commander. The commander had to assign targets and get ammo constantly and this circumstance avoid a useful tactical control for platoons or companies chiefs. German tanks turrets were designed for 3 crewmembers, allowing the commander to control his plt. or co. (Coordinating the action of all the vehicles simultaneously).

In mid 1942 the biggest armor soviet unit was the brigade. Commonly, officers werent able to manage bigger units because their poor strategical ability.

At the end of WWII, the German desesperated situation and the soviet experience balanced the tactical formation for both sides. But then, German Army was defending the motherland, and soviets had to accept strong losses because Stalin wanted to reach Berlin before Allies did it.

The Stavka wasnt worried about human losses. Germany, Italy, USA, UK, France... tried to minimize these losses because their less human resources and political consequences in Home. Mainly in democratic political systems.

Or maybe not, its only my opinion. Willy.

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I do recall hearing from another board member (probably Kip Anderson) that the German:Russian loss ratio towards the end of the war was comparable to that which would be expected from two evenly matched armies, one on primarily on offensive maneuvers and the other mostly defensive.

Something like 1.6 to the German's favour.

[edit: KNACKERS! Should have read that link first. My version is more concise]

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The Russians are kind of nuts. One of my CMBB opponents has a funny joke when he plays Allies "When Russians take casualties their morale goes UP."

Incidentally, I don't believe the Soviet Army was any less skilled than the Germans, particularily mid to late war. Seems to me that the stereotype of the 1941 - 1942 period, which did have mass Soviet casualties, has stuck with them for sixty years.

[ February 15, 2005, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: Falcon988 ]

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Originally posted by coe:

Been doing a bit of research on accounts of western and eastern front combat. In actual battle situations, both defense and offense, it appears the Germans on average gave a better account of themselves (assuming they weren't pinned down by stand and hold type orders etc.). For example you hear of German counterattacks smashing various Soviet divisions, or surprising various soviet columns but on the West you hear of the allies hitting german columns hard, attacking and taking positions with less losses, and defending successfully (I wonder what the combat loss ratios were for German vs. West and Germans vs. East). Thus I wonder if you took the Germans out and made it West vs. Russians it might appear that the West might wipe the Russians out at the time.

Conan

Maybe the accounts are biased?

a) Divisions in the west were often second rate. You often had Osttruppen who were more or less pressed into service. Note the remarks about the 352nd at Omaha - "veterans from the East front". If the divisions in both theaters were equal, why especially note this in accounts of Omaha?

B) Motivation to fight in 1944. Most knew that the war was lost. In the east surrendering meant Siberia. Holding out (and the German troops had learned that one of the most effective form of defense is to counterattack) would allow civilians and other parts of the Heer to escape the Soviets.

c) Bias. The west wanted to make believe that the Soviets stood no chance - both to its people and to the Soviets. Make your people feel secure and deter the Soviets. And of course it makes you feel good when the Germans are "better" than the Soviets and you are "better" than the Germans.

An example for bias is the Arnhem bridge. The British 1st para fought against an SS Panzerdivision. Hey, they had no chance against tanks, had they? But if you look at it you'll find that said division was severely mauled and had just given away all of its armor and arty to another division. The paras where held in check mostly by rear echelon troops.

d) Statistics. Does the "ratio" include the wholesale surrender in early 1945? Most troops tried to cross the Elbe to surrender in the West...

I once read some statistics that stated the ratio in battles was in favor of the Germans. But if you take the big picture the ratio is clearly in favor of the Western allies.

e) Whose numbers do you use? German accounts for the fight in the East, US and Brits in the West? Enemy losses are always overestimated.

Gruß

Joachim

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Originally posted by Joachim:

Note the remarks about the 352nd at Omaha - "veterans from the East front". If the divisions in both theaters were equal, why especially note this in accounts of Omaha?

That fact is stressed simply because of the superiority of the 352nd - which was also present at Gold Beach - to the Static Div's that also defended the coast.

There were both weak and outstanding German divisions on the Western and the Eastern Fronts. The 1st and 2nd SS, 12th SS and Panzer Lehr immediately spring to mind in Normandy.

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The Germans had no armour at Arnhem?

What are you talking about???

There were loads of medals given out for Paras taking on German tanks - sometimes these were Tigers.

They took on tanks with light infantry weapons such as PIAT's. mortars etc. They didn't knock out the tanks, just rattled the crew enough to make them withdraw. Which is about all you could expect in the cicumstances.

Don't know what history you have been reading...

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On the subject of Soviet combat effectiveness, I cannot strongly recommend strongly enough Glantz's "When Titans Clashed."

It makes a very good case that the Red Army advantages of numbers against the Wehrmacht were, on the operational and tactical level (you should pardon the pun) a red herring in the post-Kursk period. In fact, the arguement goes, the Red Army defeated the Wehrmacht by becoming the most skilled military in the world in operational warfare.

And if that sounds outrageous, the Soviet sources are even more extreme.

Glantz argues that western histories of the Eastern Front are highly biased in favour of the Germans because the German record has been available to western historians for the last 60 years, while for practical purposes the Soviet record remains untapped.

He points out that the most commonly-used personal memoirs on the East Front, things like Gudarian's, v. Manstein's memoirs, describe in detail German operations up to about mid 1943, and gloss over what came after that.

Glantz quite effectively (I think) argues that drawing conclusions on Red Army combat capacity from such accounts, would be like deciding how effective the U.S. military was in the entire Pacific War, while using only the first six months of the war as your source.

It is natural that the German record emphasises "German-style" combat virtues like quick counterattacks, small units with lots of intiative, combined arms, superior technologies, and so on.

But that record pays little attention to the down sides of the German style of the Eastern Front, such as combat and combat support equipment shortages, tigers and panthers breaking down when you need them on the battlefield, thousands of t-34s running like the Everyready bunny, weak allies on the German flanks, or a hostile civilian populace and so on.

In fact, if you look at the force ratios of an operation like Bagratian, Lvov-Sandomirz, Kutuzov, Jassy-Kishenev, etc, the Soviets overall outnumbered the opposing German formation by about 2-1, and sometimes less, but at the points of attack they created local numerical advantages of 6 and sometimes 10 to 1.

For instance, if I remember right, during Bagratian the Soviets counted about 1.4 million Red Army troops against about 850 thousand Germans and allies. Yet Bagratian has gone down in (western) history as a case of a triumph of overwhelming Soviet numbers - which is wrong; 2-1 against a prepared defense is far from overwhelming.

I don't know off hand what the casualty exchange rates during Bagratian were, it's easy enough to look up, but in any case by late summer 1944 the Red Army repeatedly surrounded and destroyed German formations numbering in the tens of thousands. And, as Glantz notes, the Soviets were much better than the Germans at destroying whatever they trapped in a pocket/kessel.

Glantz also points out that by mid-war the Soviets had an infantry deficit, and had no choice but to work out more sophisticated tactics than mass formations and strait-ahead attacks of the early war.

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Originally posted by Joachim:

An example for bias is the Arnhem bridge. The British 1st para fought against an SS Panzerdivision. Hey, they had no chance against tanks, had they? But if you look at it you'll find that said division was severely mauled and had just given away all of its armor and arty to another division. The paras where held in check mostly by rear echelon troops.Gruß

Joachim

the 2nd ss panzer korp (9th and 10th panzer division) where in the area, along with several more armoured units (battalions etc)

a total it has been stated at 100 tanks and 50+ armoured cars.

link

At the bridge itself, frosts troops where up agaisnt

a panzer company (with tiger tanks), a panzergrenader regiment, SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 9 (recon something, i dont know what it translates as) as well as several battle groups one of them - Kampfgruppe 'Knaust'was made up of a panzer greandier training battalion and the 6th Panzer Replacement Regiment (8 tanks) Knaust later had tigers attached to it.

in the Oosterbeek Sector,

sure there was alot of traning units but there was also armour and arty.

didnt Fallschirmjäger troops also take part?

[ February 22, 2005, 05:42 AM: Message edited by: the_enigma ]

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Your arguments about equipment and how it affected the war are a little overstated. As soon as the Russians received large quantities of American trucks in 1943 they started building the ability to deeply penetrate the German rear - and allow the infantry and infantry to keep up with the tanks and the whole package supplied. Combine this with the German Army in the East being seriously thinned out by Hitler to deal with the threats in Italy and France, and you had a recipe for disaster.

Remember, the German Army was still largely using horses and carts to move about at the time of Bagration. So all the Russians had to was trick the Germans to sending there mobile reserves to the Ukraine while they struck in the North. When this worked, the German infantry divisions in the North were doomed. The Russians simply bypassed them on their new General Motors trucks. This was easy - the German troops were spread so thinly there would be 20-30 miles between units.

Once bypassed, the German troops had no hope of relief. Goodbye Army Group Centre.

Nothing at all to do with troop quality. The Germans had simply lost the battle before it had even started.

This is why the non-Nazi German Generals pleaded with Hitler to end the war in ealry 1944.

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Blue Division,

I fear you are a victim of American propaganda, a bit. It is true the Studebaker truck helped make Soviet mechanised maneuver somewhat more mobile. But it was, at least according to the Soviets themselves, far from decisive.

The key to the success of the Red Army offensives from fall '43 onwards was the Soviet ability to concentrate force at the point of the attack, and by implication the Soviet ability to fight combined arms operations. On an operational and tactical level, supply and studebakers had not so much effect.

Remember, the Red Army had a "throwaway unit" mentality very different from the German or western Allied approach. The idea was that before the fight you top off your combat units with as much ammo, food, and fuel they can carry, and then tell them "go git 'em" until they run out of steam.

Yes this sets you up as a target for counterattack, but on the other hand there's a significantly reduced need to keep the beans and bullets moving forward.

This is very different from the German approach to supply: roughly, sustain a unit in the line for as long as combat demands, and if you have problems consolidate into a Kamfgruppe.

It is even less taxing than the American/British approach to supply, which was, essentially, if the troops are short something there is something very wrong and so you need a big supply infrastructure to keep it from happening.

Consider the widely-reported November '44 delivery of turkey and stuffing to U.S. troops in the front lines. The German suppport ethic roughly at the same time, displayed by for instance by the Hermann Goering division in Italy or Grossdeutschland wherever you want, was rotate fighting battalions through combat, but pull them into reserve if you possibly can, and resupply them there.

At that same time on the East Front, a Russian infantryman was expected to survive a week on what he carried on his back, or what he could forage. The only thing he could reasonably expect from his supply channel was ammunition and a tiny bit of medical, and then only if higher had decided he needed it.

Further, the repeated encirclements the Soviet army carried out against the Wehrmacht in the latter half of the war were not that deep in an operational sense - between 50 and 150 km. at the deepest, and 250 km. at about the furthest.

The reliability and ruggedness of Soviet combat vehicles had a huge impact. Pretty much everything the Red Army fielded could operate off road for those entire distances, and fight along the way.

The idea that U.S. Studebaker trucks sustained Red Army combat advances with sort of an East Front version of the Redball express has no basis in fact. (At least as far as I have been able to see.)

The primary contribution of Allied trucks to the Soviet assaults appears, to me anyway, to have been on the strategic level. This would be things like stockpiling ammo for assault bombardments, topping off units preparing to assault, and of course the odd rush of supplies to a unit way out ahead, and so important higher actually decided to actively try and support it.

A secondary contribution is along the lines you say: pre-loaded trucks with fuel and ammo so that once a mech/tank unit runs out, it has a single reload/refuel. This however from what I can tell from reading memoirs (Katukov, Batov, Rokossovsky etc.) was more the exception than the rule.

I'm not saying the studebakers had zero effect, but what I am saying is that improving supply capacity of the Red Army did a lot less for increasing the Red Army's combat capacity, than improving supply capacity for the Western Allied or German armies.

Allied histories generally ignore Soviet histories, and so overemphasize the the Studebaker effect.

In my opinon, obviously.

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'Studebaker ...helped make Soviet mechanised maneuver somewhat more mobile'

. Compared to walking or using horses, yes, you could say that! Especially on a fron that streched for thousands of miles!

'But it was, at least according to the Soviets themselves, far from decisive.'

Oh dear - you talk about American propaganda... and you have just come out with one straight from Stalins mouth... The reason the Russians say this is because to have acknowledged the American trucks as a factor would be to highlight the failure of the Soviet system to provide motor transport for the Red Army. This would be a direct criticism of Stalin himself. Enough to get yourself shot or sent to the Gulag. Remember, the bolshevik party had spent years telling the Russian people that the Communist system was the best. To acknowledge that it was unable to provide modern transport for it's own Army in a life or death conflict was totally unacceptable to the leadership. That is why they say 'American trucks - not that important - didn't really need them'. It's because they don't want to go there and talk about WHY they needed American trucks in the first place. To do so would that the West had Detroit, and the Soviet Union had - well, not much apart from crude tractor factories that were able to tanks as well. They were basically still bakward compared to the West.

'The key to success of the Red Army offensives was the Soviet ability to concentrate force at the point of the attack'

Yes, and how do you concentrate forces ... only with thousands of trucks! You try moving 250,000 troops over hundreds of miles and keeping them supplied. It can ONLY be done with trucks. (Railroads have all been torn up by the Germans, remember, and will take years to rebuild).

'there's a significantly reduced need to keep the beans and bullets moving forward.'

An infantry division of 17,000 men takes up 10 miles of road, back to back. It uses far more transport than the equivalent SUPPLY column for another unit. You have got it the wrong way around - to switch entire units around takes up more road - you have to pass unit through the other - creating traffic jams. It is easier to use one unit and keep it supplied. So the Russians were actually IN MORE need of good transport using this method than a western way of fighting.

'Russian infantryman was expected to survive a week on what he carried on his back'.

The Russian tactics at the end of the war were to advance and keep advancing until you were told to stop. To maintain the advance the Red Army lived off the land. Why not? There were very few German units in Poland and Western Russia to stop them in 1944, and they had no ability to counterattack as they were so thinned out. Why not just keep marching? This isn't really related to the use of trucks. They were doing there own thing elsewhere in the rear areas, bringing more units up to the battle area.

One last point - you try walking or using a horse and cart and adancing from say Minsk in Byelorussia to the Vistula in Poland. You have about six months to do it. Then do it across a wasteland where there is nothing to eat as all the crops have been burnt and all the livestock sluaghtered or transported westward. There is no shelter as all the houses are destroyed and no railroad as it has been torn up by the retreating Germans. There are hardly any real roads and where there are they have been sabotaged or mined. All the bridges are blown up too. And all the time you are having to fight retreating German units. Think you don't need trucks?

I rest my case.

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just a quick question here, the americans supplied the russians with something like 100 000 trucks? ( i tihnk it was that, i remember reading that figure somewhere)

Is that enough to actully motorise (sp?) the majoirty of there army?

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100,000 wasn't enough (I don't know the total figure but that sounds close - it was a huge number). But it is still an awful lot.

It definetly wasn't all just trucks that moved the Red Army. But 100,000 trucks moves an awful lot of food and ammo (not to mention troops) a day.

From what I have heard, their Recon units often rode any old horse they could get there hands on, unlike what is modeled in Combat Mission.

Many accounts of the first siting of a Russian soldier away from the action it would be to see him on some old nag stolen from a peasant.

German officers often looked down on this and called the Russian columns 'mongol hordes'.

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BD,

With due respect for other points of view and all that...

What about Stalingrad? Lend Lease was was really iffy to the Soviet Union in winter 1942, all those ships sunk on the Murmansk run and the road from Iran not open, yet the Soves managed a pretty good annihilation operation, you have to admit. Kutuzov and the liberation of the Kuban also came off pretty well, although at that point U.S. trucks were still pretty few and far between.

Look at www.o5m6.de/numbers.html to see the lend lease numbers both total and by year. I think it's pretty clear the Red Army wasn't really awash in U.S. vehicles until late 1944/early '45, and by then the German army pretty much already was down for the count.

Besides, Commonwealth and American units had even more trucks in their TO&E, they had less distance to cover, the roads those Allied forces were using were far better than on the Eastern Front, and some would say the Germans sent their second team to the Western Front.

Yet the back of the Wehrmacht was broken by the Soves, not by the Brits and the Yanks, who until Spring '45 had real problems figuring out how to attack and destroy large numbers of Germans. Max Hastings' book Overlord is pretty good on the subject.

Anyway, Allied performance on the West Front is not exactly a great arguement for the importance of trucks for overall military success.

My point is, trucks are spiffy for piling up supply prior to an offensive, but once it kicks off they're a good deal less important to a Soviet army than an western one.

Since it was precisely on the operational level, by which I mean maneuver of division- to army-size formations, that the Soviets destroyed the Wehrmacht, I am arguing the Studebaker trucks were nice, but not decisive. It wasn't like the Soviets didn't make trucks or didn't have an automotive industry.

The Soviet histories support that point of view, and of course it is all well and good to brand Soviet memoirs as historically unreliable, but, if we do that, don't you think we should doubt Nazi German accounts about all those brilliant actions by all those intrepid Kamfgruppen as well?

I'm being facetious, I'm not saying Gudarian et al were fibbing. But fair is fair. It's not very reasonable to assume the Russians were out-and-out liars, and accept German accounts as gospel.

If you don't read Russian I think Konev's, Rokossovsky's, and of course Zhukov's memoirs are available in English. I recommend them.

The Soviet approach to war differed from the western approach (among other things, besides supply, it placed a good deal less value on human life), but you have to admit it got the job done. And the Red Army soldiers are pretty unanimous on this point: they think the Red Army defeated the Germans by hard fighting and (eventually) superior skill, not by overwhelming numbers or teeming squadrons of Studebaker trucks.

Glantz in one of his writings, I forget which, theorizes that if the Allies hadn't sent the Soviet Union on bit of assistance it probably would have delayed Soviet victory in the East for about a year, but on the other hand the Red Army would have occupied all of Europe up to the Rhine.

Not trying to be a rabid Sove, just trying to get at the historical truth. And just my opinion, of course.

[ February 23, 2005, 09:02 AM: Message edited by: Bigduke6 ]

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I don't trust accounts from either Germans or Russians. I just know you can't sustain an offensive for six months that covers thousands of miles that doesn't use motorized transport i.e. trucks.

It is well known that German accounts are flawed as the Generals who wrote them wanted to gain favour with their captors. As for Russians, well we know that anyone who didn't toe the line ended up in the Gulag. Accounts such as these cannot be trusted.

You give Stalingrad as an example, but where do trucks fit into that? The battle was fought in a relatively small area compared to Bagration. The Russian drive on each side of the encirclement was surely no more than about 100 miles say. The troops in Stalingrad itself got there by boat via railway. The Russians were fighting in their interior across good lines of communication, and the opposite was true of the Germans. To compare Stalingrad with Bagration is a bit odd. You seem to be moving a bit off subject there.

I think you will find by the end of the battle of Stalingrad both sides were exhausted. The Russian infantry was worn out, and their tanks needed refitting. You can't drive a tank across country in freezing conditions without it sooner or later breaking down. Tanks are simply not very good at covering large distances, not matter how 'reliable' they are considered. That is when you need trucks, to bring up your engineers with their bridging equipment, the tank workshops to replace the worn out engines on your T34's and your mobile soup kitchens to feed your soldiers. Not to mention the thousands of tons of ammuntion that must be brought forward in such a large offensive.

So if Stalingrad is comparable, why didn't the Russians simply march all the way to Berlin in 1943? Two reasons:

(1) the German Army hadn't been defeated in the field as an organisation. It had lost an Army, but it was still standing. It could still manoeuver and it still had reserves.

(2) The Russians didn't have the ability to encircle and thereby destroy the Germans on their own terms. As long as the Germans fought intelligently, using their superior movement, they could always sidestep the Russians. Stalingrad happened because Hitler stupidly gave up the advantage of better mobility that the Germans had. Fighting the Russians in a static way gave away their advantage.

It wasn't until 1944 that the Germans were finally defeated. 1945 was merely a pushing back the remnants of their last reserves. Also, the Red Army simply didn't have the capacity to cover the distances covered in Bagration. At Stalingrad, they ground to halt after whatever it was, say a 200 mile drive.

Once the war entered 1944, it was all about who had the most of anything. It didn't matter who had the best troops. For example, I can have the bext German infantry but it is then squashed by Russian heavy artillery firing an enormous barrage at it. Or say an Allied heavy bomber dropping 1000 pound bombs on its position.

In Bagration, the Russians bypassed the Germans without having to fight them. And that is the smart way to fight wars.

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Originally posted by blue division:

I don't trust accounts from either Germans or Russians.

rommels papers seem rather trustworth, esp with Liddell-Hart also proveding info which rommel may have not or skipped over etc.

ive also read von lucks memoirs, they feel also legit.

so it seems there all not untrustowrthy.

btw if you dont trust russian or german accounts how do you know the war in the east happened lol!

[ February 23, 2005, 10:12 AM: Message edited by: the_enigma ]

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Originally posted by blue division:

'The key to success of the Red Army offensives was the Soviet ability to concentrate force at the point of the attack'

Yes, and how do you concentrate forces ... only with thousands of trucks! You try moving 250,000 troops over hundreds of miles and keeping them supplied. It can ONLY be done with trucks. (Railroads have all been torn up by the Germans, remember, and will take years to rebuild).

Rubbish - the railroads were rebuilt at a rate of 0-30km per track a day during advances. Since there were pauses during advances lasting months, there was enough time to rebuilt all of them up to the supply points. Of course concentration was done primarily by railroad. How else do you move tank armies about? By taking the T34s apart and putting them on trucks? :rolleyes:

Originally posted by blue division:

Once bypassed, the German troops had no hope of relief. Goodbye Army Group Centre.

Nothing at all to do with troop quality. The Germans had simply lost the battle before it had even started.

Oh look, a real historian telling us that the Red Army only won the war because of trucks. I recommend reading some books other than the tripe you have read so far. Start with Dunn "Soviet Blitzkrieg". You may learn something. :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by the_enigma:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by blue division:

I don't trust accounts from either Germans or Russians.

rommels papers seem rather trustworth, esp with Liddell-Hart also proveding info which rommel may have not or skipped over etc.

ive also read von lucks memoirs, they feel also legit.

so it seems there all not untrustowrthy.

btw if you dont trust russian or german accounts how do you know the war in the east happened lol! </font>

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I wouldn't trust Liddel-Hart to tell me the time, unless I could get a second opinion. He was rather keen to have German Generals re-write history to cast LH in a starring light. I doubt he missed a chance to guild the lily when massaging Rommels papers either.
the germans did lie, kursk was supposed to have cost the germans 800 tanks but according to documents released by the russians in the early 90's they lost more like 300.of course it could be the russians who were lying about that but why would they?(the documents released were captured from berlin, by the russians, the claims of 800)

Plus i saw on a documentry on the bbc how in 1940 in france rommel claimed to hitler on one occasion he was ambushed by over three british armoured divisions in reality he was attacked by less than half of one. Patton for some reason thought the 75mm sherman was superior to the tiger and panther tanks even up until during normandy.so all sides lied to certain degres and some more than others.

Rubbish - the railroads were rebuilt at a rate of 0-30km per track a day during advances.
true but they couldnt build railroads everywhere they needed trucks to. railroads on there own werent much good.

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Blue Division,

I have to disagree with several of your assertions. To take them point by point:

1. "I just know you can't sustain an offensive for six months that covers thousands of miles that doesn't use motorized transport i.e. trucks."

Red army offensives typically ran 150 to 250 kilometers and then they ran out of steam of their own accord. Hundreds of miles were the exception. I don't think you can find an example of a Soviet offensive covering a thousand miles, except maybe in Manchuria '45.

Further, Red Army offensives - and by this I mean the active maneuver phase - lasted around two months, and sometimes less. The intensive battle phase - break-in, encirclement, and destruction of German fire brigade reserves - sometimes was only a matter of weeks.

2. "As for Russians, well we know that anyone who didn't toe the line ended up in the Gulag. Accounts such as these cannot be trusted."

I strongly disagree. For example, I have read Batov's, Katukov's, Rokossovsky's, Konev's, and Zhukov's memoirs. There are others. As a rule, from what I could see, the closer one gets to Stalin, the less reliable the memoir becomes. However, the closer to the battle one gets, the more the memoir reads like the experiences of a professional fighting man. This is not to say we should take them as gospel - in war the impressions of one man are never a perfect record. But to dismiss literally hundreds, if not thousands, of first-hand accounts of the East Front war experience on grounds "they would get sent to the gulag" is silly.

3. "You give Stalingrad as an example, but where do trucks fit into that? The battle was fought in a relatively small area compared to Bagration. The Russian drive on each side of the encirclement was surely no more than about 100 miles say. The troops in Stalingrad itself got there by boat via railway. The Russians were fighting in their interior across good lines of communication, and the opposite was true of the Germans. To compare Stalingrad with Bagration is a bit odd. You seem to be moving a bit off subject there."

I would not call the Soviet supply situation at Stalingrad outstanding. I will spare you the essay on the state of Soviet rail, roads, and military resouces in winter 1941-42. Gordon Craig's "Enemy at the Gates" gives a pretty good

description. I would say that situtation proves my point: if the Soviets could annihilate a German army when the Red Army supply situation was far from outstanding, that argues against the importance of supply to later Soviet triumphs.

4. "I think you will find by the end of the battle of Stalingrad both sides were exhausted. The Russian infantry was worn out, and their tanks needed refitting. You can't drive a tank across country in freezing conditions without it sooner or later breaking down. Tanks are simply not very good at covering large distances, not matter how 'reliable' they are considered. That is when you need trucks, to bring up your engineers with their bridging equipment, the tank workshops to replace the worn out engines on your T34's and your mobile soup kitchens to feed your soldiers. Not to mention the thousands of tons of ammuntion that must be brought forward in such a large offensive."

Blue Division, you need to be more Soviet in your thinking. What you are defining as "necessary supply" often wasn't the case for the Red Army.

I believe I have already responded to most of the points (food, fuel, ammo) you raise here in earlier posts, so I will concentrate on the fave subject of this forum: armor.

Soviet tanks were rugged, reliable, and expected to run cross-country for hundreds of kilometers on their own tracks. Not on rail flat beds, and not on metalled roads. Of course they broke and the Soviets were a good deal less effective than the Germans, never mind the Americans, at getting non-runners on the road. Yes that's wasteful by Western standards, but if you are churning out 5,000 tanks a month, so what?

Ok a crew drives its tank into the ground and they leave it, when it could be got running again for a spare part. Big deal, the Soviets say. Tanks are like ammunition: you expend them. The point is to have an overwhelming majority of tanks on the battlefield when the offensive starts. When the offensive runs out of steam you will have plenty of time to issue new tanks.

That's how Soviet offensives worked. And to repeat my point: just because the Red Army didn't supply itself like a western army did not make them ineffective.

As proof, remember the Kutuzov offensive, the Kharkov battles, and eventual liberation of most of Ukraine took place in 1943, precisely when you say the Soviets were incapable of significant mobile operations. From the Volga to the Dniepr with a lot of back and forth inbetween is pretty mobile from my point of view.

5. "So if Stalingrad is comparable, why didn't the Russians simply march all the way to Berlin in 1943? Two reasons:

(1) the German Army hadn't been defeated in the field as an organisation. It had lost an Army, but it was still standing. It could still manoeuver and it still had reserves.

Here I agree with you. Those reserves, and v. Manstein's skills, won the Kharkov battles and halted the Soviets.

(2) The Russians didn't have the ability to encircle and thereby destroy the Germans on their own terms.

Here I disagree with you. I would say the destruction of 6th Army proves the Soviets in fact were quite capable of destroying significant German forces, at a time when the "Studebaker effect" was non-existent.

5. As long as the Germans fought intelligently, using their superior movement, they could always sidestep the Russians.

Wrong. As long as the Russians lacked combat experience at the tactical and operationional level to meet the Germans on their own terms, the Germans possessed a powerful advantages in combined arms fighting and tactical flexibility.

However, round 'about late 1942-43 the Red Army was approaching a rough parity with the German army on the operational level. One year later the Soviets were dictacting the terms of combat on the operational and strategic level, and by mid 1944 the Soviets were superior on a tactical level.

And there wasn't much the Germans could do about it. It wasn't like they weren't trying. It was improving Soviet combat capacity that denied the Wehrmacht the ability of fighting true mobile operations in the latter half of the war. Not Hitler.

Think about it. If the Red Army can fight mobile battles itself, then German-style mobile operations - concentrate your panzers, try and move faster than the other guy - becomes a recipe for disaster. Your Blitzkrieg may succeed in on place, but all it will do is get cut off of the other guy can respond to your Blitzkrieg with proper armored blows of his own.

In the early part of the war the Soviet military was incompetent at mobile operations. But they learned, and when they did, the supposedly superior Germans found they suddenly couldn't fight outnumbered and win, like they had before.

6. Stalingrad happened because Hitler stupidly gave up the advantage of better mobility that the Germans had. Fighting the Russians in a static way gave away their advantage.

I fail to see how you can argue "superior German mobility always won when it was allowed to" when v. Manstein, the greatest ace of mobile warefare of them all, failed to break through to the Stalingrad encirclement.

As to Hitler's influence on operations, beyond what I just wrote, blaming Hitler for the Wehrmacht's failures is a tradition already 70 years old. I see it as sour grapes and willful ignorance of the historical record. It was the Red Army that killed off the Wehrmacht, not Hitler, who was if I remember alright also in charge during the Wehrmacht's greatest successes.

6. "In Bagration, the Russians bypassed the Germans without having to fight them."

That's not my understanding of what happened. I always thought, and the historical record I think supports me on this, that during Bagratian the Red Army massed overwhelming force at the point of attack, annihilated sectors of the German defence, and then broke into the German rear with armor to surround tens of thousands of German troops, and their equipment. The break-in fighting during the 1944 offensive was, in places, some of the most vicious in history.

For instance, take the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division defending the town Brody during the July 1944 Lvov-Sandomirsz operation. The 11th SS was made up of ethnic Ukrainians defending their homeland against the Russians.

There is no word to describe the the fight between 11th SS' and the lead elements of Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front. "Fanatic" is far too mild. There was no bypassing, Brody is in the Carpathian foothills and the Ukrainians had no where to retreat to. For you to call something like this "bypass without fighting" would be similar to my calling the entire Overlord operation a simple attack.

FYI the Red Army won, the 11th SS for practical purposes was wiped out. Lots of casualties on both sides, but after the fight was over the Soviets went on to surround and annihilate something like 70,000 other Wehrmacht soldiers.

Lvov-Sandomirsz was just another bloody East Front fight, which like so many others in the latter half of the war. The Germans never talked about it much, after all they lost. Only grogs (this also was one of the first places Tiger II was in combat) or Soviet studies types in the west have really ever heard of it.

But if you look at it with an open mind the battle was a classic example of a successful, medium-depth, breakthrough/envelopement operation, absolutely comparable to the best of the German Blitzkrieg. The Soviets managed it because of tactical parity and operationally superiority to the Wehrmacht, not because they had a bunch of Studebaker trucks. (Althought the trucks helped.)

Just my opinion.

[ February 24, 2005, 02:08 AM: Message edited by: Bigduke6 ]

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Blue Division:

5. As long as the Germans fought intelligently, using their superior movement, they could always sidestep the Russians.

Wrong. As long as the Russians lacked combat experience at the tactical and operationional level to meet the Germans on their own terms, the Germans possessed a powerful advantages in combined arms fighting and tactical flexibility.

However, round 'about late 1942-43 the Red Army was approaching a rough parity with the German army on the operational level. One year later the Soviets were dictacting the terms of combat on the operational and strategic level, and by mid 1944 the Soviets were superior on a tactical level.

And there wasn't much the Germans could do about it. It wasn't like they weren't trying. It was improving Soviet combat capacity that denied the Wehrmacht the ability of fighting true mobile operations in the latter half of the war. Not Hitler.

</font>

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Sigh...

To say the obvious, Bagration was obviously achieved by infantry and tanks moving forward and shooting at the enemy. That is obvious. It is war.

The point I was making was that to move 2,000,000 soldiers and 6000 tanks westwards by 200 miles requires trucks. Lots of them.

And if you multiply 200 miles depth by 500 miles long, you get many thousands of miles. That is the amount of territory that had to be consolidated by the Red Army.

And T34's are not the all conquering SUV's you portray them as. They were crudely made and the mechanicals on them such as the engines had to be thrown away after a very short space of time.

You don't seem to appreciate the importance of logisitics in modern warfare.

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Originally posted by blue division:

You don't seem to appreciate the importance of logisitics in modern warfare.

I second that. Look at the US, they basically won because of logistics. Not superior tactical / strategical skill of generals, not superior training of the troops, not even superior material. But lots of everything, whereever needed.

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