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German losses vs. West and East

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Originally posted by Leopard_2:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />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. </font>

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

Why is it so hard for some people to admit this?

Because you're taking a very one-sided point of view, which is hard to agree on?

You're basically claiming that the Soviets had learned so much so fast that they were vastly superior to the Germans even if they hadn't had superior numbers.

That's just as biased as claiming that only superior numbers defeated Germany.

The Cold War's dead and gone, the Second World War even more. What's the problem with looking at Russian combat performance objectively...

Objectively is the keyword.

Take the blinders off, gentlemen.
...

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Bigduke6:

I think you are overlooking the fact that all western observers who over the years have seen the Russian infantry closely at war have said:

Their ability to endure tremendous hardship and to keep fighting. This has been the case since at least the Crimea in the 1850's, through the first world war and into the second.

This is how they held onto Stalingrad and sucked in all of the German reserves, and eventually encircled all of the German troops there. They didn't give up and run away.

Germans always commented on this from the first day of the war - Russian soldiers would often fight to the end when they were in static defences such as forts, cities etc.

I would say that the Germans defeated themselves at Stalingrad. Anyone with any sense would have stayed well clear of any large city and simply bypassed it. At the end of the day, it just contains infantry with very limited supplies, and you just bypass and cut it off. They have nowhere to go.

This is not to say that the Russians were bad soldiers, that can't be true otherwise how could they have done what they did?

But the point is they were limited severely by a lack of leadership at the squad level, a limitation that continues right through to the end of the war and beyond. The Germans commented on the exceptional willingness of the young Russian platoon leaders to put themselves in danger - they had terrible casualty rates. They also commented however that they weren't very flexible in fast moving situations. German training always stressed the importance of flexibilty when in fast moving battles. IT was only when Hitler got involved and told everyone to stand and fight. And that suited the Red Army much better.

What gets them through is high morale and sheer numbers. They were after all fighting for the existence of their own country on home turf.

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Blue Division,

I can't respond to what you say without repeating what I have said. I strongly urge you to read Glantz's "Clash of Titans" if you want to get a better picture of the Red Army, and how it stacked up against the Wehrmacht.

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Quote:

'Oh look, a real historian telling us that the Red Army only won the war because of trucks. '

Well YES, actually. How do you move two hundred miles in your country?

I do it by car or train actually. Same as the Russian infantry in 1944/5.

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Leopard2,

I believe I am being objective, or at least trying to. I believe the "western/german" point of view is heavily overrepresented in western study of the Eastern Front, and I believe Soviet history is badly underrepresented.

I really do believe Soviet combat ability has been underrated by most western historians. I am not saying the Soviets were the most efficient soldiers during the war, but what I am saying is that putting down the unquestioned Soviet successes during the war to "overwhelming numerical superiority" or "lots of Studebaker trucks" is sloppy, lazy, history.

That's why I make such a big deal about the Studebaker trucks. It's a traditional western explaination for Soviet success in mobile, mechanised warefare, implying they never could have managed it without the West's assistance.

I am not trying to be a jerk, I hate people pointing fingers and so forth over the Internet, and I respect your right to your point of view BUT (obviously there was a "but" coming) have you read any Soviet primary sources? Which?

If not, then my friendly advice which you can blow off at your choice is: Read Glantz's Clash of the Titans. It's in English, and available in softback through Amazon.

Objectivity is about two points of view. Not just the western.

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Quote Again:

'Rubbish - the railroads were rebuilt at a rate of 0-30km per track a day during advances.'

And what happens when you disembark from the train? you still have to move from there to the front with all of your equipment. And stay supplied.

Same as real life - trains don't go everywhere.

Just admit it -

It was trucks that helped the Russians advance as they did in 1944/5.

They suddenly didn't become a world beating force mid-war.

They just got better leadership at the high command level, better equipment and lots more of it than the Germans.

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Certainly trucks helped. They made a tremendous difference in Bagration, both in keeping the frontline troops supplied during the build-up, and during the initial break-in.

They were not the only reason, or even the main reason why the Soviets won though. That is the same as arguing that only air superiority was the reason why the Allies won in France, or the Americans in Iraq. To focus on one narrow aspect of the rather complex modern warfare is almost always going to be wrong.

The Red Army did not by-pass German defences in Byelorussia. They focussed on the weak spots (there is an indication for superior skill right there), but they still had to fight, and fight they did. In the battle with Northern Ukraine, as has been pointed out, they did break straight through the German main line. In the breakouts from the Vistula and Oder bridgeheads, they did it again.

Manstein failed at Stalingrad. If you read first-person accounts from the German side such as 'Bis Stalingrad 48km', you will notice that the attack had run out of steam by the time it was cancelled. It was then in danger to be encircled in a wider envelopment, and had to be broken off.

The railway rebuild numbers are from the Soviet general staff studies on Bagration and L'vov-Sandomierz. They are criticised there as insufficient. They refer to main lines.

BigDuke6 has it exactly right. Objectivity is about looking at what both sides say. If you believe that you can understand what the Red Army was like by viewing it through the looking-glass of the German experience 'German officers said...' 'German platoon commanders commented...', then your views on the Red Army and your analysis of its battles is worth exactly the amount of time you have invested in also reading Soviet sources. I guess in your case that is either '0', or very close to it. You do not get correct views on the US Army from only talking to the insurgents in Iraq today. WW2 is no different in that respect.

When you quote the German officers calling the Soviets 'mongol hordes', I can quote back Soviet officers calling the Germans 'adventurous (that is a slur) fascist nazi invaders'. Both quotes tell you more about the person they come from, then about the persons they refer to.

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i actully forgot what i wanted to type if the answer was yes, i think it was something like this thou?

If the germans managed it in 41 without a hell load of trucks, isnt it then possible to say the russian advance in 44 wasnt entirly down to trucks.

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No. The situation was quite different, as was the outcome. The Wehrmacht of 1944 was still vastly more capable than the Red Army of 1941, making life for the (itself vastly more capable) Red Army of 1944 more difficult than it was for the Wehrmacht in 1941.

In terms of outcome, the Wehrmacht lost its 1941 campaign in the end - one of the reasons for this was a total ignorance of the logistical requirements for conquering the Soviet Union. So the Germans did not "manage". They never got into Moscow, but the Soviets got to Berlin - they did a lot better in terms of outcomes.

I hope this makes sense.

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Quote :

'That is the same as arguing that only air superiority was the reason why the Allies won in France'

What??

Whby is it the same? I didn't say that. What has airpower got to do with it?

You have just re-confirmed my point - the bulk of the Allied fighting force was moved to the front by trucks and supplied by trucks. There was not railroad in France - it had been obliterated by airstrikes and sabotage.

THE ALLIES USED TRUCKS !!!

THEY WERE SUPPLIED BY TRUCKS !!!!

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Quote :

'the Wehrmacht lost its 1941 campaign in the end - one of the reasons for this was a total ignorance of the logistical requirements for conquering the Soviet Union.'

Good point. Why did they bog down?

Because the dirt roads in Russia turned to mud.

And when they turned to mud, the German supply columns ground to a halt. The German Army then had to dig in and wait for the ground to harden.

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Also, apparently the Germans had no idea on what conditions were really like in the Soviet Union.

That is probably the most incredible aspect of the entire invasion. The German high command had no accurate intelligence on what the Soviet Union was really like. They had maps that were years out of date. No accurate idea of the composition of the Red Army and it's equipment. They tended to go on their prejudices on the inferiority of the Russians, particularly after the Russo-Finish war of 1940. And that's why the Germans kept on thinking with one last push the Russians would collapse. They had *no* clear idea of the resources of the Soviet Union. How stupid is that?

So the moral of the story is - if you decide to invade a country, try and spend at least some time getting an accurate picture of conditions inside the country. That was you won't have any nasty surprises later on. You could equally apply this principle to the current invasion of Iraq.

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Quote :

'Objectivity is about looking at what both sides say. '

You have got to take war time accounts with a BIG pinch of salt.

You have got to remember - German Army officers were subject to the de-nazification process in Germany after the war. This applies even more to the senior staff officers who were closely involved in the running of the war. They were all subject to investigation by the post-war German authorities, and could wind up serving a long prison sentence or being removed from holding any public office. Therefore - they had to be very careful about what they put into print.

It is well known that the captives in this situation were only to glad to say what their captors wanted to hear them say. Hence the German staff officers who had been captured by the Allies were only too glad to rubbish the Russian enemy as being 'savage' or 'asiatic'. Remember, the Iron Curtain had come down and the Allies were starting to become very paranoid and afraid of the 'Red Menace'.

Another point is these captured Germans were more than willing to put on the uniform of any new German Army that was to be formed in the post-war period. A lot of them were career soldiers after all. So a healthy dose of anti-communism would help you get back your previous post, as this would be music to British and American ears.

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Quote :

'If the germans managed it in 41 without a hell load of trucks, isnt it then possible to say the russian advance in 44 wasnt entirly down to trucks. '

There is a big difference between 1941 and 1944.

In 1941, the Red Army was given one set of orders that were to be opened if (and only if) hostilities broke out. That was to advance. Whole units were encircled immediately, and the Germans were able to advance very quickly. The Russians were not instructed to destroy bridges, railroads etc. as they had not been instructed to do so by Stalin. It was only until autumn, after the Germans had advanced far into the interior, that Stalin ordered 'scorched earth'. You can see that unsurprisingly, this is when the German advance became a lot more difficult. The mud made advance impossible after this.

Contrast this with 1944. The Germans are EXPERTS at the tactical withdrawal. They had all the orders and means to destroy the infrastructure of the terrain they were giving up at hand. That is, demolition charges on bridges, mined roads.

Also special rail road flat bed trucks that had a claw that stuck into the wooden sleepers of the track and tore them up and snapped them in two as the car passed over them. In this way they destroyed the railroad of western Russia instantly. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of new railroad sleepers would have to be brought forward and laid down by workers before these railroads could be used again.

Also, thousands of tons of bridging equipment would have to be brought forward and laid down, again by thousands of engineers.

Many hundreds of miles of roads and tracks would be unsafe to travel on due to mines being laid.

As I have said before, every house has also been demolished and there is nothing to eat either.

Contrast this with 1941, where the Germans in the summer drove for hundreds of miles without meeting serious resistance, with all the bridges and roads open. And the case of the Ukraine and the Baltic states, large portions of the population welcoming you and actively encouraging your advance eastwards against the Soviets.

What could be more different?

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Blue Division,

"The Germans are EXPERTS at the tactical withdrawal."

Practice makes perfect, eh?

Seriously, I dunno about that partner. I always thought deep spaces, long retreats, the other guy's lengthening supply line, and General Winter fought on the Russian side, Napoleon and Gustavus Adolphus, and Charles of Sweden and all that. But mebbe you know better than me.

"Also special rail road flat bed trucks that had a claw that stuck into the wooden sleepers of the track and tore them up and snapped them in two as the car passed over them."

Seems to me like an awfully complicated and expensive machine to do a silly and pretty pointless job. This is Russia, you know, land of the taiga forest and labour camps. If there's one thing the Russians had an endless supply of, it's more wood for railroad sleepers and laborers to cut it and then lay the rails. What do you think German prisoners of war were for?

"Also, thousands of tons of bridging equipment would have to be brought forward and laid down, again by thousands of engineers."

In Katukov's memoirs about 1st Guard Tank Army's assault crossing of the Wisla, it took about about 48 hours. Against very serious German opposition, air, tigers, you name it. Patton would have been impressed, by comparison Oppenheim was a cake walk. Seriously. The 1st Guard Tank's operation lost almost no pace at all.

If you are talking unopposed, see above. Construction labor and wood construction materials are effectively limitless, in Russia. Metal and concrete even during the war were available as well. For instance, when the Germans evacuated Kiev they knocked down all five bridges crossing the Dniepr, which is a very serious river like the Rhine. The military bridges were up in days, and a rail bridge was functioning in less than two weeks.

"Many hundreds of miles of roads and tracks would be unsafe to travel on due to mines being laid.

As I have said before, every house has also been demolished and there is nothing to eat either."

Blue Division, Russia is not the Ardenne. Russian roads pretty much sucked everywhere, and if the Germans wanted to waste mines on a road, it was no big deal for the Soviets to drive along side the road. It wasn't like the dirt was a whole lot worse, or you can only travel where the original roads are.

Large-scale military land movement in general, and in Russia especially, depends on the railroad. And the Russians did pretty well at not getting ahead of their railheads, and at the same time keeping on the offensive pressure.

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Quote:

'Also special rail road flat bed trucks that had a claw that stuck into the wooden sleepers of the track'...' do a silly and pretty pointless job.'

It was the crudest machine you can imagine. About as sophisticated as a wrecking ball used for demolition. A flat bed railway carriage with a claw hanging off the back angled into the ground.

Quote :

'mines ... it was no big deal for the Soviets to drive along side the road'

That's right. But if you know what you are doing, you mine the road where there is no easy way around or where people are least expecting or are likely to pass.

And when you do go off road, you do it with your 6x6 GMC truck from Detroit.

Quote :

'If there's one thing the Russians had an endless supply of, it's more wood for railroad sleepers and laborers to cut it and then lay the rails'

You miss the point - how do you get that quantity of material forward? It takes time. And by that time the Germans will have prepared there next position.

Quote :

'In Katukov's memoirs about 1st Guard Tank Army's assault crossing of the Wisla, it took about about 48 hours.'

Exactly! And that's with your bridging equipment (made in the US) brought forward on US made trucks. And still 48 hours with the full exertions of your army.

The Soviet Army had the largest bridge-laying capability in the world - right up into NATO vs. Warsaw Pact times. Massive importance was given to this by the commanders. It is difficult to see how they could have done this without Lend Lease help. Of course, they could try and build it from scratch, but this would take time. Again, Lend Lease aided the speed of the Russian advance.

Quote :

'I always thought deep spaces, long retreats, the other guy's lengthening supply line, and General Winter fought on the Russian side, '

Well you have just said it - my point that is. The same should work equally in favour for the Germans for the long retreat.

But when you have an enemy that can attack faster than you can fall back, then you get surrounded. As should be obvious.

Quote : 'Large-scale military land movement in general, and in Russia especially, depends on the railroad. And the Russians did pretty well at not getting ahead of their railheads, '

Western Russia and ByeloRussia were in ruins after the war. The population were living in holes in the ground. The Germans had totally demolished all of the railway stations and signalling equipment. I don't know where you get your ideas from.

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Originally posted by blue division:

Quote :

'That is the same as arguing that only air superiority was the reason why the Allies won in France'

What??

Whby is it the same? I didn't say that. What has airpower got to do with it?

You have just re-confirmed my point - the bulk of the Allied fighting force was moved to the front by trucks and supplied by trucks. There was not railroad in France - it had been obliterated by airstrikes and sabotage.

THE ALLIES USED TRUCKS !!!

THEY WERE SUPPLIED BY TRUCKS !!!!

I have no idea what you are trying to say. What I was saying was that you are overly focussed on one narrow aspect of logistics.

The allies did beat the Germans in Normandy, and they would have done so without trucks too. They beat them so comprehensively west of the Seine that they would probably have been in Belgium and Lorraine at pretty much the same time anyway.

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Originally posted by blue division:

Quote :

'the Wehrmacht lost its 1941 campaign in the end - one of the reasons for this was a total ignorance of the logistical requirements for conquering the Soviet Union.'

Good point. Why did they bog down?

Because the dirt roads in Russia turned to mud.

And when they turned to mud, the German supply columns ground to a halt. The German Army then had to dig in and wait for the ground to harden.

Nope, totally wrong. They bogged down before the rasputitza because they had outrun their logistics, and they were all suffering from pretty severe exhaustion and materiel wastage. They were beaten fair and square at Yelnia a long time before autumn, during the height of summer.

They needed an operational pause to sort things out. Then they made the mistake of wanting to end the war before Christmas with operaiton Taifun.

The weather did not beat the Germans. Stupid decisions on their part and the Red Army did.

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Originally posted by blue division:

Quote :

'If there's one thing the Russians had an endless supply of, it's more wood for railroad sleepers and laborers to cut it and then lay the rails'

You miss the point - how do you get that quantity of material forward? It takes time. And by that time the Germans will have prepared there next position.

My guess is that he does not miss your point. He does not accept it. Neither do I, since it has nothing to do with what really happened.

So, instead of wild handwaving, some facts:

1) The Germans did not manage to destroy everything. They managed some destruction close to the front where they started the retreat, but the further they got, the less they managed.

2) The Soviets rebuilt railroads at a speed of 4.1 - 19km/day in the 3rd Belorussian Front sector. 3.7 - 15.5km in the sectors of 2nd and 1st belorussian fronts. Whether they needed heaps of materiel to do it is irrelevant. They managed. If there is one thing communism is good for, it is organising big projects, and running a war properly.

3) All three of the main fronts were based on rail axis, and followed these. The supply to them was undertaken by rail, truck and horse cart prior to the beginning of the offensive, by truck and horse cart while the railways were rebuilt after the start, and then again by rail, truck and horse cart.

4) Each front had a railroad directorate with 1-4 brigades working on rebuilding the railways.

5) The main destruction of Bagration was wrought during the first few days. After that German losses probably fell off sharply, while those of the Soviets increased, and the speed of their advance reduced.

The overall depth of the advance was still governed by logistical constraints, and here the presence of trucks made a critical difference. The overall success of the offensive is however not just the depth, but also the destruction of enemy formations. This is an aspect where trucks helped, but by themselves would not have changed much. Badly led and trained troops in trucks tend to not do much better than badly led and trained troops on foot.

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'The Germans did not manage to destroy everything. They managed some destruction close to the front where they started the retreat, but the further they got, the less they managed.'

Oh dear.

Do you know anything about the Great Patriotic War fom Soviet histories?

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