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Amusing German war time contradictions


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Reading about the battle of Aachen and how its commander protested at the US use of 155mms in direct fire roles. Claimed it was barbaric. Lol coming frm the army that made the sturmtiger.

Any other good ones? Not ironic in a rlly sad way more  like amusing. They dont hafta be German :)

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Youtube has tons of old veterans talking about the war they fought in. I believe it would be of great interest to you. just doing a simple search found this guy who fought in aachen telling you his experience. Stuff like this makes youtube GOLD. you can also search 'central illinois ww2 stories' I think a college did many interviews.

 

Edited by user1000
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Oh i know all about youtube and stuff. Its there you find gold like one of the only real ww2 tank engagements on tape the panther destroying the sherman and in turn being destroyed in Cologne March 45 for example. 

No not an urban legend. The German general commanding Aachens defense was very bitter about the "unfair" American use of direct fire 155mm guns calling it a war crime and inhumane.

Its been well documented.. to the point ive read it in more than one history.

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In his unit's eponymous history, Hubert Meyer (who was the Ia of the 12.SS during the Summer fighting) whines that the Canadians 'liked knives' and that it was barbaric in the extreme.

Given that the author was a member of the SS and a life-long member of HIAG, the irony, I trust, is lost on no one.

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I always liked the super-dismissive German accounts of Allied troops as they were so tactically blah blah blah, too loud blah blah, didn't blah and yet they kept defeating the Germans, and often on the offense, the Germans suffered as bad if not worse than their "weaker" Allied opponents.  

I wish more of the ubersoldat crap had been addressed earlier.  There's a lot of mythology on the performance of German troops and equipment that really only stands up if you read post war German accounts, not primary German sources or more scientific/reality based after action assessments.  

The 155 MM direct fire protests were a real thing, there's a few sources on it I've seen.  Interestingly enough the Germans also whined about the use of shotguns in anti-personnel roles in World War One while dumping poison gas and using flamethrowers on people.  

Using buckshot.  Really barbaric or something.  

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Lol yeah i think shotties violatex the 1899 hague convention. Or summat.

Of course the same convention iirc had rules about chemical agents. And really once you hit 1918 in a WW1 scenario who really cares about using shotguns anymore? We.d all have been tossing nukes if we could have (see WW2 and the only reason other countries didnt use them is we got there first at the end)

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They don't actually.  The thing that gets all sideways when you talk about "expanding" bullets like hollow points and stuff.  The Germans complained about them, and by some accounts filed legal complaints but those were rejected.  

The real "problem" with shotguns is they're really quite good in a narrow window against unarmored targets, but they're not good at most ranges, while still weighing as much, if not more than a more conventional infantry arm.  

As a result they were terrifyingly effective in World War One trenches, especially given their superiority to the defender's bolt action weapons in close quarters (the shotgun only needs to be really broadly oriented to achieve hits, it's shorter and more manageable than WW1 rifles by a long shot, pump action is superior to bolt in hasty firing stances), and saw a lot of use in the Pacific and Vietnam (where the enemy was likely 5-50 meters away, well concealed, but not always in cover, and frequently only "seen" by muzzle flash or movement).

The advent of "light" assault rifles (like in the AR-15/AK-74 mold) makes the advantages less pronounced.  We carried mossberg 590's and Remington 870's in Iraq, about one available to a section, but they were there chiefly to breach doors, or employ less than lethal rounds when available.  

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On 1/10/2016 at 2:13 AM, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

 

I always liked the super-dismissive German accounts of Allied troops as they were so tactically blah blah blah, too loud blah blah, didn't blah and yet they kept defeating the Germans, and often on the offense, the Germans suffered as bad if not worse than their "weaker" Allied opponents.  

 

I don't think you can compare it like that.

Isn't it generally accepted that the average German soldiers were more experienced than the majority of the Americans? Not because of any "übersoldat" thing, but because the German army had already been fighting for years.

And isn't it also true that German airpower and logistics had nearly broken down at that point?

Even if the average German soldier had been twice as good as their enemies (and I don't think they were), they would still have lost.

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On 22.9.2016 at 9:28 PM, Sublime said:

No not an urban legend. The German general commanding Aachens defense was very bitter about the "unfair" American use of direct fire 155mm guns calling it a war crime and inhumane.

Its been well documented.. to the point ive read it in more than one history.

read that in Ambrose´s Grunts Citizen Soldiers (Mcmanus, Grunts is another good read though), but he failed to mention his sources. Eisenhower´s Crusade in Europe has another mention, but in a personal account of Col. Wilck telling about the actions on october 20/21, 1944 he says Eisenhower´s statements is plain BS. There´s nothing comparable to be found in more serious sources like MacDonalds Siegfried line campaign, Baumer´s Aaachen and not even in 1st US ID battle reports, down to 26th IR. Nothing to be found at Fort Benning and Carl files as well, but a fairly good read is "Selected intelligence reports, vol 1, June 1944 - November 1944_Part1" from 1st US ID including a very informative chapter about Col. Wilck and his interrogation. So until anything more credible pops up here, I as well treat it as "urban legend".

Edited by RockinHarry
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3 hours ago, RockinHarry said:

read that in Ambrose´s Grunts Citizen Soldiers (Mcmanus, Grunts is another good read though), but he failed to mention his sources. Eisenhower´s Crusade in Europe has another mention, but in a personal account of Col. Wilck telling about the actions on october 20/21, 1944 he says Eisenhower´s statements is plain BS. There´s nothing comparable to be found in more serious sources like MacDonalds Siegfried line campaign, Baumer´s Aaachen and not even in 1st US ID battle reports, down to 26th IR. Nothing to be found at Fort Benning and Carl files as well, but a fairly good read is "Selected intelligence reports, vol 1, June 1944 - November 1944_Part1" from 1st US ID including a very informative chapter about Col. Wilck and his interrogation. So until anything more credible pops up here, I as well treat it as "urban legend".

Myth_busted_6719.jpg

 

Mythenkaputtgemacht!

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7 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I don't think you can compare it like that.

Isn't it generally accepted that the average German soldiers were more experienced than the majority of the Americans? Not because of any "übersoldat" thing, but because the German army had already been fighting for years.

And isn't it also true that German airpower and logistics had nearly broken down at that point?

Even if the average German soldier had been twice as good as their enemies (and I don't think they were), they would still have lost.


Here's an interesting question to ponder:

What happened to the German Army in Falaise?

The answer is the majority of German combat soldiers in the west did not make it out of France.  The preponderance of units that escaped the closing pincers of the Allied Armies were rear and support type units that were not engaged, had a head start, or otherwise were not burdened by combat equipment.  Some combat troops made it out, for sure, but the single digit survivor count for many panzer division AFVs (or, of 2300 tanks committed, only somewhere between 100-200 left France), and the number of line battalions the surviving units could muster should indicate that again (of 55 Divisions committed, only 16 were considered combat capable at the end, with seven from the original 55 so destroyed to be outright disbanded), much of this experience died on the road out or was taking a boat ride to Canada/the US.  What was rebuilt afterwards was small cadres of surviving combat veterans, with the majority of ranks filled out with troops as inexperienced, often worse trained, in worse condition than their Allied opponents.  

Then look forward to Arracourt and the Bulge.  At Arracourt several splendidly outfitted German Panzer Brigades were effectively eaten alive by a depleted US Armor Combat Command (with most of the fighting and killing being done by older 75 MM armed Shermans and M18s vs Panthers),  In the Bulge the Germans consistently struggled to overcome adhoc resistance by frequently rear area troops or retreating line troops. Even when commanding a major advantage in artillery, arms, men, and without significant allied air cover, with temporarily a surplus of supplies, against absolutely green, or severely depleted US units....they failed, and failed decisively*.  The more you step back, outside of elite units (and even looking closer at them) the more complete picture of the German ground forces of late 44' to the end of the war is kids, clerks/mechanics/able bodied seamen, people medically unfit to serve 6 months prior, wrapped around a core of the ten percent that made it out of whatever pocket the rest of the battalion died in.   

Then look to the other hand, several US and British Divisions had been fighting since Africa.  Or had been blooded in Italy, and unlike their German counterparts, generally left the battlefield "intact" (or, in need of refit but not exactly burning their vehicles and leaving the wounded).  Then even of the ones that had "only" arrived in time for Normandy, they were still increasingly experienced, and again left their battles in good order (if you're bored, the 4th Armored Division is a good example of one of these units).

By the Bulge increasingly the shoe was on the other foot.  There were still green allied units, but the battle hardened experienced, well trained German army we imagine they faced was not battle hardened, experienced, or well trained, while many of the key units of the US/British Army had seen more than their fair share of action, without being effectively destroyed first.  

Frankly if you hold up German post war accounts up to either the Allied or Soviet accounts, or even just more impartial post war accounting, there's a whole lot of holes, half truths, or bald faced lies that have never gotten the scrutiny they've deserved.


Re: 155MM

It looks less likely then, or at least inflated.  Regardless it would be in keeping with the behavior of German officers elsewhere, which is in keeping with how urban legends persist so long, the kernel of plausibility.  


*Of course, the Ardennes offensive was a fool's errand in more ways than one, but looking at the tactical level the Germans performed no better, and often worse than their "less experienced" Allied counter parts.

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Going off what Panzer said, the duration of time in a war does not automatically mean greater experience. For example, the veteran 7th Armoured Division (UK) who fought in nearly every major British campaign of WWII began to perform quite badly once they got to Normandy. Because of their extensive fighting over the years, they had essentially been worn out. So even though they were veterans, they did not perform exceptionally well. This large scale battle fatigue can be seen in other divisions in WWII and in other wars. Another example, the US Army that left Vietnam was a different one that first went there, and the change was not for the better. If you want a generalized/dramatized example of this to see for yourself, check out the post-Battle of the Bulge Band of Brothers episodes (specifically Episode 8: The Last Patrol) The whole point of the episode is that Easy company is so worn out after the hell endured around Bastogne and the counter attacks, they fabricate going on the second patrol. 

For the Germans post-Falaise, the problems were compounded for the reasons Panzer already pointed out. They had been fighting the war for a long time at this point, on two fronts, and losing consistently on both fronts since 1942-43.

 

As far as amusing wartime contradictions, I find that a lot of what prominent German generals (See: Guderian and Manstein among others) wrote about post-war is largely dribble. "Just following orders" and "Hitler was a moron, I knew better but did what he wanted anyways" are hardly excuses. Politics of the time were at play with some of this (both the FRG and Allied powers trying to warm up to one another in the face of the Cold War) but do not excuse or justify many of the falsehoods that arose from these accounts. 

The Germans do not have a monopoly on wartime contradictions. After the war many of the historians were British and some of them applied a hefty bias towards US forces, specifically in Normandy. For example, I believe (but could be mistaken) that it was Max Hastings who said of US troops landing in Normandy on D-Day that they were "largely untrained and undisciplined" and other such nonsense. Never mind many of the US divisions who were to go into action on D-Day were battle tested (though not yet fatigued) after fighting in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, but all divisions involved in D-Day spent many months training for the operation. The notion that they were untrained or undisciplined is absurd.   

Edited by IICptMillerII
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Re: Experience

Basically there's a bell curve of unit efficiency.  A unit is less effective when it enters combat for lack of experience, it gains experience and becomes effective, but then it wears out and becomes less effective.  The way you try to deal with this is to pull units off the line after they begin to show fatigue, refit them, accept some loss of efficiency due to replacements, but likely return to combat a lot better than a new unit would have.

In world war two, none of the combatants accomplished this, the need for units was so pressing that generally units fought until they could not, or were very near being unable to continue.  However looking at the Allies, they were better able to pull these fatigued units and put them into quieter sectors (which is how 2 ID for instance, wound up in the Ardennes after the Hurtgen fighting), or even off the line when really needed (see 101st and 82nd on the eve of the Bulge).  The Germans had no such luxury, and generally could only afford to pull individual soldiers from formations for furloughs.  When a unit was pulled off the line, it was usually because it had been militarily destroyed, and rarely would there be much time before the unit would receive an influx of new blood, effectively making a unit comprised of the two lowest parts of the efficiency curve, or be dissolved to make replacements for other units.  

Re: Anglo-histories

Heh, yeah.  I remember a book from a British, or at least Commonwealth author that was supposed to be a broader history of armor from inception to the 80's, and it lavished extensive attention on the Africa theater, but you would think the Western Front was pretty much Monty until the British Army won the war somehow between August 1944-April 29145, and then the Americans getting utterly crushed by Tigers and yet somehow winding up at the Elbe through a clerical error.

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2 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

For the most part I agree with the good Cap'n above. Although, in the case of 7th Armoured it does have to be remembered that they had left their Shermans behind in the Med. And had to get used to using the somewhat mediocre Cromwell in a fairly short space of time.

This is true, but it was determined that their decline in performance was largely due (though not completely) to the battle fatigue effects that our favorite cabbage launcher talks about below your post. They relieved the division commander a few times and it did little if anything to improve the units abilities. I don't mean to pick on the Desert Rats, I was just using them as an example because it came readily to mind. As I briefly mentioned, this happened to many Allied units (and all German units, which was my original point) during WWII. Company E of Band of Brothers fame even suffered from this, a little bit after fighting in and after Market Garden, and then much more so after reducing the Bulge. Nearly all of the US infantry divisions that fought in the Hurtgen forest campaign suffered the same thing. As did nearly all US divisions fighting in Europe. As Panzer already details very nicely, what gave the Allies an advantage in solving this problem over the Germans was that units could be pulled off the line for rest and refit, whereas the Germans never did more than pull individuals off the line. The Allied system was far from perfect, but it was at least a system. The Germans had nothing. 

1 hour ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

Heh, yeah.  I remember a book from a British, or at least Commonwealth author that was supposed to be a broader history of armor from inception to the 80's, and it lavished extensive attention on the Africa theater, but you would think the Western Front was pretty much Monty until the British Army won the war somehow between August 1944-April 29145, and then the Americans getting utterly crushed by Tigers and yet somehow winding up at the Elbe through a clerical error.

Clerical error :lol: well said.

To avoid picking on our British friends too much (which I assure everyone is not my intention) there have been some unsavory and downright false claims written by plenty of Americans. One of the most prevalent that is in nearly every history written about combat in Europe from the US grunts perspective is that every German tank was a Tiger and every gun was an 88. This phenomenon also appears in nearly every WWII movie/tv show made. Some histories/accounts written more recently make it clear that while most grunts said they encountered Tiger tanks or 88's, it almost never was. A real gold mine of false claims, contradictions, and downright false information is the now infamous "Death Traps" by Belton Cooper (an American armored mechanic during the war). There is much silliness to be had in his book, but one of the worst falsities is when he claims that Patton prevented the deployment and utilization of the Pershing tank in Normandy. Completely and utterly false, yet many who read the book took it at face value. The (also now infamous) History Channel even did a documentary about the book in which they supported and spread Coopers crazy claims. 

I'm sure the book has already been discussed at length on the forums though. Just wanted to keep on topic and also prove I have no anti-Anglo agenda :D

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1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

As Panzer already details very nicely, what gave the Allies an advantage in solving this problem over the Germans was that units could be pulled off the line for rest and refit, whereas the Germans never did more than pull individuals off the line.

Really? I've always heard it was the other way around. I'm willing to change my mind, but I'm gonna need some proof. It may be another of those wartime myths, but the way the story ran is that the Allies did not have enough spare divisions to pull whole formations out of the line (although you are right about them being sent to "quieter" sectors sometimes), so green replacements were being fed into units in combat where they were often killed before they could become combat hardened.

Michael

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3 minutes ago, Michael Emrys said:

Really? I've always heard it was the other way around. I'm willing to change my mind, but I'm gonna need some proof. It may be another of those wartime myths, but the way the story ran is that the Allies did not have enough spare divisions to pull whole formations out of the line (although you are right about them being sent to "quieter" sectors sometimes), so green replacements were being fed into units in combat where they were often killed before they could become combat hardened.

Michael

That's kind of what I was getting at when I said:

 

 

3 hours ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

In world war two, none of the combatants accomplished this, the need for units was so pressing that generally units fought until they could not, or were very near being unable to continue.  However looking at the Allies, they were better able to pull these fatigued units and put them into quieter sectors (which is how 2 ID for instance, wound up in the Ardennes after the Hurtgen fighting), or even off the line when really needed (see 101st and 82nd on the eve of the Bulge).  

No one had the ability to really keep anyone off the line.  And many units did indeed burn through their full allocation of replacements more than once.  

It's my contention though that the Allies were better able to deal with unit burn out because they did have quiet sectors that the Germans did not, they did have at times the ability to move units to the strategic reserve (like the Airborne after Market Garden), and there's plenty of US units that did take a knee for at least a time for pretty major overhauls (see 4th Armored after Bastogne for an example I can fire from the hip).  The Germans did not really have the advantage of quiet sectors (outside of ones that had become isolated), or realistically the ability to restore units to more than a shadow of their previous self.

Like I was trying to say, no one really accomplished the sort of rest cycle required to prevent burnout (see the actions of Allied troops trying not to be the last ones to die in a won war, or the classic German ambush and surrender).  But the Allies for a variety of reasons were better equipped to endure this burnout, and getting back to the myth, German troops took a major quality dive after the end of Normandy and the idea of superior German troops being the standard doesn't hold as much water once you look at the actual German troops on the ground, and their performance on the battlefield.  

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