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Generaloberst Guderian

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  1. Perhaps I failed to make my intentions and argument clear. First of all, my intent was not to be underhandedly denounced. Second, it was not to subscribe to the mythical and unrealisic philosophy of the Third Reich, and finally, it was not to pollute any sort of discussion with talk of Vietnam. The point I was trying to make was that sometimes, especially in recent history, the application of military theory, numerical superiority, firepower and qualitatively superior forces CANNOT surmount the political and cultural realities of war. Was the VC an elite guerilla force? No. Was it thouroughly decimated during the Tet Offensive, so much so that in military circles the Offensive was heralded as a great victory? Yes. But what remains in the public consciousness from all that? An American soldier with a revolver shooting a Vietnamese prisoner in the temple. Simply put, the casualties caused by both the VC and the ARVN soured the American publics' support of the war, so much so that it came to represent the injustices which an entire generation fought against. The US withdrew, and South Vietnam fell. Even before that however, we needed to have a draft to establish the force levels neccessary to wage war on that scale, bringing individual sacrifice and hardship to the doorstep of countless American families, something that no doctrine has yet accounted for. I'll even go out of a limb and say that the same thing is occuring on a smaller scale with the current war in Iraq. Our invasion was brilliant, the destruction of the regime complete. Yet the 1,655 casualites, trivial by the standards of the Second World War, have caused a significant and very worrying drop in miltary recruitment during the past year. In turn more and more soldiers are serving multiple tours of duty and are getting burned out, both physically and emotionally, which only exacerbates the burdern placed on the all volunteer force. In short, Vietnam reduced America's ability to sustain casualties forever. Whether that is the fault of the media or certain poltical groups is irrelevant, as even the most well executed campaigns take casualties, and even the smallest numbers of casualties make the headlines on CNN, generally with the words "Yet another American soldier killed in Iraq" So, I remain skeptical. I don't believe in neat military and economic models that track mobilization and reduce things to a science, because in the end, I beleive that people all over the world are the same, and if America in the 1960s and 70s had a casualty threshold which it could not sustain poltically, then so did the Soviet Union in 1941-1945. That is why we speculate, that is why we have recreational and anonymous conversations on the internet, to satisfy our own curiosity. Not to push an agenda, not to revise history, not to glorify the German Army, and not to deal in "signal to error" ratios. That being said, the scope of this forum obviously then does not include the type of discussion that I'm interested in having, and I respect that. I'm sure I won't be missed. Best Wishes and Have a Wonderful Holiday Weekend.
  2. Hmm...I didn't know that ammunition governed when you will get an auto-ceasefire, although I'd assume that you'd fair better than the Russians in such a scenario, as morale is probably more important than not having ammunition.
  3. Hmm...I don't see any mines in either of the pictures (aren't those crosses in the cemetary)? You are right though, I was playing with allow computer to place units, which is what it is normally set as. I don't recall a section of the briefing specifically recommending default settings, but after reading your post I examined the default setup. Indeed, it is substantially more formidable than what I encountered and should take the challenge of the scenario to a whole new level.
  4. Had Manstein been in overall command rather than Hitler, I think that the Russians would have had a much more difficult time implementing a successful doctrine. Hitler's corporal mentality, obsessed with holding ground rather than consolidating a line, kept the army from operating an effective elastic defence. Furthermore, the rapid introduction of wonder weapons such as the Tiger and Panther squandered their surprise value and made them less effective than they would have been had they been used en masse in a decisive operation. In the summer of 1942 the Tiger was a very difficult AFV to kill, and I've yet to see one be killed without using air support (at that time period), but at the same time, the Red Airforce of 1942 was not the Red Air Force of 1943-44. Stalingrad was a major German defeat, yet the recapture of Kharkov and the utter derailment of Operation Mars in the Center both left significant opportunities for limited counter attacks. Had the Tigers been saved until late 42/43 and been used unannounced and in sizeable numbers in an immediate counteroffensive following the recapture of Kharkov then perhaps the front could have been fought to a stalemate, especially if the Panthers were not prematurely committed at Kursk, but saved until the operational flaws had been worked out (as Guderian suggested). Had Germany established a strong operational reserve of armor, rather than launching Zitadelle, and stayed on the defensive, they would have had real tools to counterattack and encircle oncoming Soviet armies. Instead they fought it out in a slugfest, and although many of Germany's new weapons performed quite admirably, and while their tactical successes inevitably lenghtened the war, their full potential was never realized. Basically, I don't believe that firepower and numbers always win the day--if they did, America would've fared better in Vietnam. Perhaps German defeat was a forgone conclusion, but I really do think that with different leadership, the greatest Soviet victories, and especially Bagration, could have been avoided. Also: What I mean is that more fuel efficient tanks allow either for existing tanks to operate more freely, or for the construction of more tanks using the same fuel supplies, OR and perhaps this is the most important point, for the continued use of existing tanks at a petroleum production capacity lower than normal. Furthermore, in a rapid advance, outrunning one's fuel supply was a major problem for many of the combatants involved in the war. The less fuel you use, the less needs to be transported, which in itself mittigates supply problems by putting less wear on rural roads. One potential reason that the Germans didn't go with the Aluminum block diesel is simply a scarcity of aluminum in relationship to cast iron (a safe assumption). It is also my understanding that aluminum merely saves weigh, and when all things are equal, cast iron cylinder heads etc make more power than their aluminum counterparts. [ May 29, 2005, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Generaloberst Guderian ]
  5. As far as the engines go, like I said, it really is quite interesting that the Germans didn't develop diesel engines for their AFVs. As you point out, the fuel efficiency, operational range, reliability and torque of a diesel engine are all very well suited for tanks, and the liberties you can take with the fuel ease the burdens on refineries. All I'm saying is that as far as gas engines go, 300+ bhp wasn't bad at all in 1939, especially considering what they had to work with. Perhaps, however, they were moving in that direction, as I believe the Puma recon vehicle had a 200hp diesel, and that was a fairly late war development. The fact does remain however that they didn't go with diesels in their tanks, and I'd be interested to hear any theories as to why you think that is. As far as blitzkrieg terminology goes, yes, the word kind of surfaced by chance, and no, it wasn't an entirely new concept. I do think however, that in the context of this discussion it means "the method in which the German army conducted its operations from 1939 to mid-1942". Furthermore, I think its fine using a word that has grown to mean something else than it did originally -- provided that we all acknowledge its origins and how it came to mean what it does today.
  6. The red-lit interior struck me as a bit of a surprise as well, but if you've ever seen "Das Boot", I believe they make use of red lights on several occasions when they are attacking at night. The source I got that from mentioned it in passing. The following is a quote from "Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions", pg. 40 "Panzer interiors contained four main colours: red, green-gray, white and black. An anti-oxide red lead primer, brick red in colour, was painted on all surfaces and the interior floor was then painted a grey-green. On the uppoer parts of the hull and turret an ivory-coloured paint called 'elfenbein' was applied - this bright colour had the advantage of increasing visibility in the dark , red-lit interior" The question of fighting for survival is an interesting one, and I agree that a country facing destruction will fight harder than one that doesn't have so much at stake. I thought about this a good bit yesterday, and lets entertain the following stipulation: Let's assume that you were in total control of the Third Reich during the planning stage of Operation Barbarossa, and that your will was well-respected enough that you could shape policy in whatever direction you liked, even if it meant going back on previous ideas. I acknowledge that given the nature and personality of Hitler, the following plan would not have been possible, but nor would it have been impossible given different leadership with all other things being the same. As we are planning the invasion, let us take stock of the popular support of the Soviet Union, and formulate a plan that will get the Russian people on our side. -- The Soviet Union fought a brutal civil war after the Revolution that cost the lives of many Russians that still had an affinity to the old religious order -- The atheist regime largely curtailed the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest Eastern Orthodox denomination and a culturally significant movement responsible for both impressive and ornate architectural masterpieces and powerful religious iconography, two things which for centuries defined Russian society abroad. -- The Czarist regime was more inept that it was brutal, and the amount of freedom that it did allow was enough to garauntee its destruction. The first stage of the Revolution was not to establish a Communist government, but rather to overthrow the Czar and create a provisional body. The main driving force behind this movement was tremendous unrest caused by the massive casualties and defeats suffered by the Russians during the First World War. After the Revolution, however, the Western Allies forced Kerensky and the Provisional Government to stay in the war, setting the stage for the latter "Bolshevik" revolution. And indeed, after that Revolution succeeded, Lenin ended the war by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Therefore, I would argue that there was a strong precedent in Russia for being against massive casualties and hardships, and in the First World War, the Russian people chose to lose territory in prestige rather than face continual and heartbreaking defeat. -- Finally, the Soviet regime was a morally bankrupt and tyrannical dictatorship that reduced every aspect of the labor force to the "lowest common denominator". During the old regime, a group of enterprising Ukranian peasants, known as the Kulaks, attempted to better themselves under the vestiges of the Feudal system, by combining the best aspects of enterprise and farming. They were, in turn, enable to elevate themselves to a sort of middle class status, and increasingly had a voice amoung the people. My grandfather and his family were Ukrainian immigrants to the United States in 1911, and throughout the Cold War resented the hardships placed on that particular ethnic and social group by the regime. -- The Great Officer Purges, motivated by Stalin's distrust of the military and his own paranoia, deprived the Red Army of some of its best officers, and instilled a "culture of brutality" that continually justified the inhumane and at times foolishly bloody way the Red Army conducted itself in combat. Even in victory the Red Army had staggering casualties, mainly out of a lack of caring. I just finished reading Glantz's excellent 'Zhukov's Greatest Defeat" which was about "Operation Mars", a stunning example of the Soviets reinforcing failed Operations for political reasons. Thus in 1941 there was alot of material which could be exploited by an invasion force. My plan as leader of the German nation and armed forces would be as follows: -Present the German army as a liberating force, and make all atrocities and crimes punishable with the same measures as would crimes against Germans. -Begin a massive propoganda campaign exposing the injustices of the Soviet regime. Make an appeal to religion, and show admiration for Russian cultural and architectural advances -Expose the injustices of the regime, especially its ethnic cleansing and purges. Publish pictures of the atrocities if possible, and expose Soviet attempts of repression aimed at keeping the populace in line. -Offer lucrative rewards for collaborators and volunteers: -Accept Russian volunteers into combat units, given the same pay and benefits as German soldiers. - Offer competitive pay and benefits to Russians who provide logistical and labor support to the invasion force, both in terms of food, clothing service on railroads, construction of defenses, and providing horses for transportation of supplies. - Offer the same lucrative deals to Russian soldier who desert, plus a bonus to compensate for the danger of deserting. -Finally, promise the establishment of a German protectorate that would largely leave Russia's local affairs to be decided by Russians, with the stipulation that key resources needed for war would go back to the Reich. You might ask how this would all be paid for, but I would argue that Russia had and still possesses great economic potential that has yet to be exploited. I would also argue that while benevolence is more costly than brutality in the short term, it is not nearly as detrimental as say, losing the war and having your country partitioned by conquering enemies. Furthermore the occupation would have paid for itself by allowing some German troops to be moved elsewhere and by providing Germany with a massive new industrial base and source of labor. Now as I said, such measures would not have been considered, but I do believe that in light of the vices of the Stalinist regime, such progressive actions would have kept enough people at least on the fence to win the war for Germany. Lemme know what you think.
  7. When I say that I think that the early war German soldier was superior, I'm not trying to imply that it was some innate advantage, but rather that the circumstances surrounding the German army at the time yielded highly compotent soldiers. There can be little doubt that morale in the German army was higher than in France, and the French military attitude in face of stunning defeat is well recorded. The dramatic early war success, the reversal of the Treaty of Versailles, along with the militaristic culture of the 3rd Reich I believe indoctrinated many to the military mindset very early on and I believe facilitated to a degree the immense sacrifices made to conduct the war. When you say that the Blitzkrieg didn't work and that the Germans evenutally lost, consider who they were up against. Soviet Russia was a unique enemy that played by entirely different rules than the rest of the war. If you look at how many Russians were killed in combat, the immense civilian casualties that followed the campaigns, the tremendous destruction of private and public property, the endless repression of the regime, combined with the relentless purges and political killings, its a wonder how the Russian people simply didn't give up. I can assure you, that had such catastrophic losses been encountered in a country with a free press and real political discourse, the Germans would have forced the Russians to surrender in 1941. I'm an American, and I agree that we do have a rather strange form of isolationism that recurs from time to time. Now consider that the US and the Soviet Union were traditionally on pretty even footing in terms of resources, industrial capacity, manpower etc. Now consider this: -The sacrifices made by American soldiers in WWII will never be forgotten, and are at the forefront of public consciousness, and our casaulties pale in comparison to many other particpants. -Korea was an unpopular war that remains somewhat responsible for anti-UN sentiment in the United States -In Vietnam we lost some 53,000 men and that was enough to topple much more than the Johnson administration, and remains one of the most culturally significant forces of the 20th century. -The current war in Iraq has cost 1,600 dead and many more wounded, and is languishing in various states of popularity. I don't want to get into a political debate about current issues, but it should suffice to say that many Americans are STRONGLY agains the war, despite the relatively light casualties in comparison to previous engagements. I can garauntee you, that if America had suffered 20 million + dead (combat & civilian) in the Second World War, even the "greatest generation" would have taken a hard second look at Americas involvment. My fundamental argument therefore is that the repressive nature of the Soviet Union, the lack of free press, the brutality of the regime, combined with the lack of a better alternative to fighting (Who wants to be an 'Untermensch'?), was just as important to sustaining Russia's ability to stay in the war as was its industrial capacity and vast manpower, especially considering the distaste for the Stalinist regime in areas like the Ukraine that had suffered heavily during the Kulak purges and farm collectivizations. Furthermore, and on a different note, I believe that German tanks were better designed, although not superior, than those of their opponents. Tanks like the Pzkpfw III and IV had excellent spotting capabilities with good optics, very well thought out command cupolas, and low-light red-lit interiors that aided in gunnery. In addition, they had excellent communication capability, with good radios. Their crews, unlike Russian and French tanks, were well suited to the task at hand, and the addition of a seperate loader greatly improved gunnery speed and accuracy. To add to these advantages, they had well tempered and generally high quality armor mounted over (in the case of the Pz. III)an advanced torsion-bar suspension that made for a stable gunnery platform. Its true that the 37mm gun wasn't good enough to take on the T-34 and KV, but the 50mm L/42 was a welcome upgrade that at least mittigated the worst defficiencies of German armor. That being said, their tanks were not invincible, nor did they have the horsepower that they really needed. Then again, none of the engines made in the 40's were really that good, and it wasn't until the introduction of high-octane leaded gasoline in the late 50's that you really see rises in compression ratios and higher power engines. Why they didn't go with diesels is beyond me, but for gas engines, I think theirs were at least on par with what other people were doing at the beginning of the war.
  8. I don't really think its a myth so much as it is a combination of sound military principles with new equipment and excellent command and control structure. Most of the doubts about various Blitzkrieg operations have stemmed from the fact that much of the German army was not motorized, and still relied heavily on horses for transportation. Keep in mind though: The armored spearheads used by the German army were not dedicated to the destruction of the enemy army in the field. The idea was to concentrate an overwhelming amount of armor along and axis of little resistance, and to exploit that breakthrough as quickly as possible, trapping large pockets of enemy forces which would later be reduced by infantry and more conventional arms. The Germans had fewer tanks than the French, and faced an enormous disparity against the Russians, yet managed to extricate a series of crushing victories against both opponents. Part of this has to do with armored concentration, but alot of their success came from the inherent confusion caused by armor spearheads. By quickly penetrating and advancing, the Blitzkrieg deprived opponents of the initiative by presenting them with operational and strategic difficulties that could not be dealt with without a flexible command structure and the availability of quality mobile operational reserves. The command and control difficulties were alos made much more accute when combined with the logistical problems of deep enemy penetrations and partial/total encirclement. Furthermore, German forces were, in my opinion, qualitatively superior to any early war opponent that they faced, especially in terms of training, experience and tactical flexibility. I know that some of these issues came up in the "What really happened in 1941" thread, and I fully expect to be categorically opposed by some of the people here on the board. The fact remains however, that the objective of a defense operation is not to hold terrain but to defeat the enemy. When Poland chose to defend their Western borders for both political and patriotic reasons, they subjected their army to a rapid enveloping operation from three sides before battle even begun. When France and England attempted to use the "swinging gate" to halt the German advance into Belgium and the Low Countries (which was unbeknowst to them, a diversion), they exposed themselves to the main thrust through the Ardennes which cleaved the defending armies in half and brought about the six week fall of France. Finally, the invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, although lacking in clearly defined objectives and side-tracked by numerous branch attacks and the ever present intervention of Hitler, succeeded in destroying the cream of the Soviet peace-time army. There are numerous what-ifs surrounding the whole war, but I really do not think that Soviet victory is the forgone conclusion that some make it out to be. All in all, it was an oppressive and brutal regime thats support was bolstered consderably by German atrocities. Had Barbarossa been more focused on capturing Moscow, or had Army Group Centre not stopped in August to lauch a massive pincer attack (which was a tactical/operational victory), and had the Germans tried to take on the role of liberators rather than conquerers, they may have been able to topple the regime. In the end, none of Germany's early war opponents had a command and control structure able to deal with a mobile and fluid war. They lacked the mobile operational reserves necessary to conduct an elastic defense, and in the case of the French, were still focused mainly on positional and static warfare. The Blitzkrieg was not an invincible steamroller, nor was it a piece of propoganda and a clever myth. It was simply a combined arms approach and an expansion upon the already established tactic of encirclement and destruction, and it worked. Provided that it could continue to move, and assuming a continuous flow of supplies and reinforcements, large quantities of enemy soldiers and equipment could be destroyed relatively easy, keeping the entire front off-balance and negating disparities in fighting strength and industrial capacity. Of course, it couldn't sustain itself indefinately, and the real reversals came when it lost momentum and the supply lines bogged, down, restoring the manpower advantages of the enemy and making further offensive operations considerably more difficult
  9. Not only do I concur, but I like your approach better than the one I took. I'm not necessarily a fan of a direct assault over open ground, and it only worked out because I was lucky and no Russians were in a position (or condition for that matter) to fire back at me. Normally the attack chooses the path of least resistance, and in my case, the direct assault was that path, but I think that your firebase plan is much less dependent on the situation, and should yield good results every time.
  10. Hmm...that happens to me too. Alt-Tabbing seems to work occasionaly.
  11. I gave it a second try and was able to win decisively. I reevaluated what I tried the first time, and I found some things I liked, as well as some that I didn't. Using the Armored Cars to draw fire was a good idea, but I placed them too near the infantry, meaning that my overwatch troops could never attack, due to enemy suppression. For the second round, I decided to move them to the far right flank and attack up the road, with the MGs being in the left position that the Armored Cars had the last time. Finally I placed the Infantry Gun with the MGs, but with a change of tactics--I used Area Fire vs. the buildings and scored 26 casualties and 1 gun kill, making the 75mm the decisive support weapon. The armored cars attacked up the road supported by one recon platoon, and together they killed 2 infantry squads, 2 mortars and a platoon HQ. Meanwhile, the HE from the gun as well as the MG 34s killed both Russian MGs. It was at this juncture that I tried my new strategy. With the MGs taken out and my own overwatch of 2 HMGs, an infantry gun and 3 armored cars reigning supreme, I launched a frontal assault on the trench from the woods, and took it losing only the flamethrowers. After 3 turns of shootouts, and a little maneuvering, I decided to attack again, as the Russians seemed off balance, with nothing really pinning me down. On the 17th turn, I launched a frontal assault on the Church, took a few casualties getting inside, but once it was taken, the Russians squads faced superior firepower from an unexposed location. Here are the final results: Major Victory OK 98/62 Casualties 41/109 KIA 9/32 2 Mortars destroyed 1 Gun destroyed Flags -- 300pts Casualties 799/332 77% --23% **Edit** Forgot to mention that the point is, as you said, its a very hard thing to do without having seen the defenses before, but keep in mind that repeating an assault attempt isn't all that uncommon. As they say, try and try again. It also occurred to me that there is a conspicuous abscence of artillery in the scenario--which I guess is the real appeal, having to attack without having everything all lined up. Still 81mm support could've tipped the scales for sure, and 105mm + would probably smash the Russians outright. [ May 25, 2005, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: Generaloberst Guderian ]
  12. As far as fire support goes, TRPs are never a bad idea, as they give you something to fall back on in desperate situations. Sometime the speed of the attacker can be neutralized by flexibility on the part of the defender. That being said, you may also want to try for a bit of a pre-emptive strike. If you know where his setup zone is i.e. "the staging area" you could try and hit it with a preplanned barrage from rocket artillery, much as the Russians did at the outset of Kursk in '43. In any rocket attack, the lightest units seem to die first, and with luck, you can diminish his ability to conduct recon and probe your defense.
  13. Well said. They were very expensive though, and followed in the fine German tradition of being underpowered. If they'd had more speed then perhaps the Schwere Panzer Abteilungen would've been more than stop-gap defensive formations.
  14. The real problem for me was the time limit. After I read the thread I gave it a go for the first time...and fought it to a draw. My strategy was as follows: I deployed the 75mm M1918 Infantry gun, along with the 2 HMGs to the far forward right, near the end of the woods. Then, I setup the platoons so that the recon squads would provide overwatch, with the Pioneer squads in reserve. I then positioned the Armored cars so that they would be at the edge of the wood, drawing enemy fire. As soon as the game began, I killed a Russian gun with my 75mm and neutralized his forces in that area. The HMGs and armored cars began firing and for several turns it looked like I had the upper hand, winning the battle of attrition by far. About halway through I used the halftrack to a flamethrower team forward. Although the team was killed, they lit 2 building on fire, denying the enemy that cover. During turn twelve the 75mm killed one of the Russian MGs, and the armored cars, while doing next to nothing, were keeping all the fire on themeselves, allowing my infantry to fire upon the defenders with impunity. During turn 17, I moved the first of the recons squads across. They killed 2 mortars and an enemy infantry squad, and set up a position overlooking the remaining defenders. On the final turn I had the pioneers over unscathed with full ammunition. Had the scenario continued I would have won for sure. Here are the pictures: As you can see, their position was more or less broken, as both MGs were dead. I still had ammo for both of mine, along with 2 of the 3 armored cars and the Pioneers. Given another five turns...maybe. But I'd agree, in the time available, winning is next to impossible. Here was the final count: (German/Russian) Men OK 110/95 Casualties 29/76 KIA 7/16 2 mortars destroyed 1 gun destroyed 1 PSW 222 4-Rad lost 49%-51% Draw Enemy kept point for holding flag. Perhaps the only way to force a resolution would be to at least get a "?" over the objective by the time the round ends.
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