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Why the Germans?


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#41 superfractal

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 0921 AM

Mebbe, but more than near enough for government work, IMHO. :D

BillB


sounds about right, a friend of mine works at abbey wood and has done soo for 4 years. He still hasnt managed to find out what his job actualy is.

and im not kidding he actualy doesnt know what he is supposed to do!
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#42 JOE BRENNAN

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 0924 AM

Yup, if you add that to the fight at Brecourt Manor and Carentan that's three examples from just one unit. Now of course you could play devil's advocate and point out that the 101st Airborne were not you run of the mill Allied unit, but that was not in the original discussion parameter. Plus there are plenty of examples from the "run of the mill" too. :)

But I don't think that really was the original discussion parameter. Along the way somebody posted that superior numbers of Germans had *never* been defeated in WWII; any such absolute statement is ridiculous for a conflict the size of WWII.

I however think it remains fairly obvious that *in general* the Germans were better man for man in land warfare effectiveness at the sub-strategic level, especially taking WWII as a whole not just the end. Only looking through a nationalist, pro US/Brit and especially Soviet, lens, can avoid that conclusion IMHO. As Tony Evans noted, and the absolute statement above demonstrated, that superiority can certainly be exaggerated, though.

The admittedly limited and controversial quantification by Dupuy, 25% superiority to the western Allies even in '43-'44, clearly implies and in fact explicitly includes, examples that were the other way around. Regardless of whether one accepts his number it should be uncontroversial to state that *if* his number is correct, individual divisions in a given large army varied in effectivness by considerably more than 12.5% from the mean so a 25% average advantage would not rule out cases where Allied divisions were better than German ones; also pretty clearly true in cases.

On some references quoted, I can't believe anybody is seriously proposing "Band of Brothers" as objective measure of the effectiveness of the 101st Airborne. That's a valuable subjective work about what it was like from the 101st's side. But, for example the German units left behind investing Bastogne had arguably inferior combat power to the 101st and strong supporting units in Bastogne. The American hold out was a psyshological achievement, other forces in similar situations have surrendered assuming their situation was hopeless (as popular accounts depict Bastogne, because it's probably what the defenders would have concluded if morally weaker). But, Bastogne was not in objective reality a miracle of tactical achievement by inferior arms. Once you get to the level of this platoon or company defeated superior forces...of course, but doesn't refute the thesis as reasonably stated.

Also "Infantry Attacks" was at least in part Rommel's interwar advertisement for himself; it had a quite positive effect on his career. Also great book, but AFAIK nobody has correlated in detail to accounts from the other side; one partial exception is "Rommel at Caporetto" (IA depicts basically only success, first against the French, then extensively against the Romanians, then the Italians at Caporetto, and at least the last was pretty real in general). I don't think claims of general tactical level superiority of the Germans in WWII would use "Infanrty Attacks" as proof per se.

Joe

Edited by JOE BRENNAN, 06 January 2007 - 0941 AM.

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#43 medicjim86

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 0937 AM

Taking Ardennes as an example of allied performance is equally dumb IMO , the germans stopped because they remained without fuel.The americans were to busy saving their south pole to even fire back.


History begins at home. I live about an hour east of Indiantown Gap, PA, USA. You might want to investigate the origin of the term "the bloody bucket"...there are still a few of them around and I've had the distinct pleasure of gathering some first person accounts...they tend to blur Hurtgen with Ardennes... one has to wonder why.

You needn't apologize to me, but the south pole comment probably deserves a correction in light of the facts.
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#44 FlyingCanOpener

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1008 AM

Back to the thread:
Tradition counts. It dates from Prussian victories under Frederick II [the Great], reinforced by Bluecher & Company and the 1813-15 campaigns in Germany, France and Belgium, then the striking series of victories in the three wars of German Unification, 1864-71 [well, not so striking 1864!].


You're dead on there. Look at it this way: Prussia was a central European nation with a puny army and no defencible borders, yet survived. Poland was a central European nation with a relatively large army and no defencible borders. Why was Poland partitioned into nonexistence and not Prussia? It surely wasn't the food...

<TN PSA>Robert Citino's The German Way of War (Amazon Link) was writted with this thread in mind. Very readable book.</TN PSA>

Edited by FlyingCanOpener, 06 January 2007 - 1016 AM.

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#45 Jim Martin

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1016 AM

On some references quoted, I can't believe anybody is seriously proposing "Band of Brothers" as objective measure of the effectiveness of the 101st Airborne.


Yawn. Believe what you want. Someone suggested that superior numbers of Germans had never been defeated by the Allies. There are 3 instances of real-life engagements portrayed in BoB which demonstrate that statement to be a fallacy. Sorry that reference doesn't meet your high standards. :rolleyes:
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#46 irregularmedic

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1033 AM

"NUTS!"

:lol:

;)
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#47 KingSargent

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1033 AM

Well i havnt actualy read infantry attacks, but i was collectivly qouting Paddy Griffith's British art of attack 1916-18 and British army's experience (which has several authors, its more a collection of essays).

During WW1, Rommel got the Pour le Merite (AKA Blue Max) in Italy, when he led mountain infantry on a daring offensive that penetrated Italian defenses. He took many more prisoners than he had troops, IIRC. His experiences there formed the basis of his tactics ever after.
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#48 KingSargent

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1056 AM

Taking Ardennes as an example of allied performance is equally dumb IMO , the germans stopped because they remained without fuel.The americans were to busy saving their south pole to even fire back.

BS. The Germans remained without fuel because the line north of St. Vith held (until Monty pulled them back). The 422nd and 423rd Infantry of 106ID were captured because they held their positions until surrounded. Most of the GIs couldn't understand why the surrender order was given.

The only combat units forced back were the 28th ID, who were overextended and heavily outnumbered and still managed to throw the German schedule off. The people running were mostly rear echelon troops that never even saw a German, and they came back when they found out what was going on.

Same as Kasserine. US troops were removed from their units and spread out in impossible positions by a micro-managing British general. They got overrun as anybody would do. The rear area troops hi-tailed it, the combat troops fought until overwhelmed. And the US troops came back and kicked the Axis back as much as the British commanders (Anderson, Monty, and Alexander were running things) would let them.

No US troops in WW2 ever ran as far as fast as the Gazala Gallop. Or many other examples.

Please note, Fredendahl was thoroughly disgusting, but II Corps positions were dictated by Anderson.
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#49 sunday

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1118 AM

You're dead on there. Look at it this way: Prussia was a central European nation with a puny army and no defencible borders, yet survived. Poland was a central European nation with a relatively large army and no defencible borders. Why was Poland partitioned into nonexistence and not Prussia? It surely wasn't the food...

<TN PSA>Robert Citino's The German Way of War (Amazon Link) was writted with this thread in mind. Very readable book.</TN PSA>


Maybe the Polish fate was due to a wretched Government system in which every Sejm seat has veto power, and could be easily tempted to vote against the interests of Poland?
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#50 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1119 AM

While everyone can point out anecdotes attempting to make their case, the average German units was superior to the average allied unit.

Reasons include:

1. Superior staff officer training.

2. Willingness to allow subordinate commanders "on the spot" to exercise full initiative (Hitler being the exception).

3. Standardization of doctrine so that ad hoc units could easily work together.

4. Exceptional NCO training. Remember that most German companies had two officers, the Hauptman and one Leutnant who was deputy, XO, AND 1st platoon leader. All other platoon leaders were NCO.

5. Replacement system which included pulling units out of line to integrate replacements.



It kept them going through six years of being outnumbered and "outmaterieled".
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#51 Guest_aevans_*

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1135 AM

Thats not true, in ww1(i assume you are talking about the 1918 offensive) never actualy broke the British line and it's debatable what it would have acheived as at that time there trianing and equipment were not up to the standard of the British army. Who managed to break through the German line as a matter of course (arguably from the somme).
Although the German army did develop the Storm trooper tactics (originaly from pioneer battalions i belive), but they only did this for a vey small proportion of the army, most infantry divisions had changed little tacticly from 1914 (except for the tight columns, and in one case i have read, attempting to fire bolt actions from the hip!) the German army remained very rigid and unflexible throughout much of ww1.


The spring offensives were only mounted as an attempt to win the war before American numbers could influence the outcome. Absent American intervention, the Germans would probably not have gone on the offensive. They had a large new resource area in the Ukraine to draw from, and direct communications with Turkey from the Crimea, thanks to Brest-Litovsk. They were thus in a lot better shape than they'd been in a while. Also, without the loss of hope that the failed offensives and gathering Allied strength engendered in the German armies, it's likely that no merely British and French offensive could have succeeded in 1918. IOW, it's arguable that it was a synergy of the exhaustion caused by offensives mounted in fear of the Americans, combined with the actual arrival of significant American help, that did the Germans in, not any exceptional performance by the traditional Allies.

BTW, you can bite your tongues on accusations of American triumphalism. It could just as easily have been men from Mars -- the point is that significant extra help to the Allies, both in anticipation and actuality, is what caused the Germans to prematurely exhaust themselves and lose the will to continue.

As for the alledged rigidity and inflexibility of the German army in the later war, I suggest you read The Dynamics of Doctrine. While the stormtroop offensive tactics were relatively limited in penetration, flexible defensive and counterattack tactics were a staple of German doctrine by 1918.

Thats not to say that the German army did not have it good side's in ww1, but alot of the German army's early succsess can be attributed to there mobilisation time rather than ability.


German operational doctrine explicitly relied on efficient mobilization to overcome what was expected to be a tactical stalemate between similarly trained and equipped troops. Saying that this was the genesis of their success is saying that they succeeded in plans they had consciously made and relied upon.

Edited by aevans, 06 January 2007 - 1141 AM.

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#52 FlyingCanOpener

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1154 AM

Maybe the Polish fate was due to a wretched Government system in which every Sejm seat has veto power, and could be easily tempted to vote against the interests of Poland?


Of course. I was being extremely simplistic, but still, regardless of governmental gridlock, in the feeding frenzy that was early modern Europe, a small state like Prussia should have been swallowed up, yet Poland ended up being the one swallowed up (ironically, parts of it by Prussia). Why that was what happened is I think the answer to this thread's question.

Edited by FlyingCanOpener, 06 January 2007 - 1156 AM.

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#53 savantu

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1211 PM

Unlimited fuel and ammo did you say! i suppose you have a source for that? You see because around septembe the Allied army's only had enough supplies for one big push. doesnt tend to happen with unlimited supllies?


Compared with the germans those supplies were unlimited.Easy as that.

And how did the allies suck badly in italy or normandy where they managed to inflict casulties at a rate of what 2-1 over all? And im pretty sure the Germans were not equiped that badly i mean they managed counter attacks on the 6th june and were attempting more later. Im not sure how many armoured counter attacks iraq managed on the first day!


Hello ?

Were they equally sized or had similar firepower ?
I don't remember the germans having any air support.And if ww2 taught us a lesson is that air power is the reason why one side wins and one loses.Those counterattacks you mention were simple acts of desperation , irresponsible generals sending their forces to destruction.How else can you describre what happened in Normandy ?
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#54 savantu

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1218 PM

Thanks for that, Savantu. If that's the best you can do, how about just leaving the adults to talk. :rolleyes:

BillB


Coming from a brit I take that as a compliment. :rolleyes:

American:

89,987 casualties
(19,276 dead,
23,554 captured or missing,
47,493 wounded)

British: 200 dead, 1400 wounded and missing

German
84,834 casualties
(15,652 dead,
27,582 captured or missing,
41,600 wounded)

Imagine the 6th Panzer army with enough fuel for 2 more days.

Edited by savantu, 06 January 2007 - 1235 PM.

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#55 savantu

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1220 PM

Try reading some non-fiction some day. My copy of Mansoor's "GI Offensive in Europe" is boxed up somewhere, but he has ammunition expenditure figures for the 28th Inf. Division in the Bulge on Dec. 16--the amount of ammunition they used was absolutely astronomical, and shows a very determined defense being waged. Perhaps someone else with a copy of Mansoor's book can post the figures and educate poor savantu.


What has ammunition expenditure to do with efficiency in combat ?

In ww1 artillery pounded the enemy sector with 20-40k t of ammo in a day.That's nuclear language.How effective was it ? You can burn a lot of ammo and the end result can be null/nada/zero/rien.
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#56 hojutsuka

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1222 PM

I don't have the unit strength reports available, but if somebody told me the Germans had no more than 5,000 tanks (not just Panthers) at any one time, I'd be willing to believe it.

Well, of course, Tony, the total produced during the war does not equate to maximum total available at one time. But I believe Brummbaer was talking about the total production when he said (post #9), "the valiant german tankers had available less than 5000 Panthers throughout the whole war vs <how many?> T-34s and Shermans". If he were talking about the maximum number of Panthers available at one time, he would probably have said something like "no more than 1300", judging by graphs in Jentz's book.

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#57 savantu

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1227 PM

Maybe they didn't advance so much because they didn't want to pave their path to Berlin with countless bodies inmassive frontal attacks?
Besides, the supply was critically restricted until the Antwerpes harbor got opened.
Really? Maybe you should find out something against defense of Bastogne or St Vith. Or about that group of stubborn engineers that delayed KG Peiper for quite some time.


Nobody is saying here the allies were useless , far from it ( that's reserved to the italians ) , but taking credentials for defeating the germans in flamboyant manner is like the US touting we're the best after destroying Iraq. ( which is true , but that's another story alltogether )

German units were seriously undereauipped especially with heavy weapons , ammo quality was poor ( too much salt added to the powder ) and fuel was nowhere to be found.Their back was completly paralyzed by refugees and allied air force was causing havoc on the frontline and behind it.

What's to brag about ? Individual acts of bravery ? Fine , each army can point that. But saying : hey , we're the best is overstretched IMO.When the German Army was reasonably in shape , the allies were always on the 2nd place.
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#58 savantu

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1230 PM

Well, of course, Tony, the total produced during the war does not equate to maximum total available at one time. But I believe Brummbaer was talking about the total production when he said (post #9), "the valiant german tankers had available less than 5000 Panthers throughout the whole war vs <how many?> T-34s and Shermans". If he were talking about the maximum number of Panthers available at one time, he would probably have said something like "no more than 1300", judging by graphs in Jentz's book.

Hojutsuka


I saw a documentary about Tiger tanks whioch stated that at any time ( 1944 onwards ) the German Army did not have more than 80 operational Tigers.
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#59 Jim Martin

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1235 PM

What has ammunition expenditure to do with efficiency in combat ?

In ww1 artillery pounded the enemy sector with 20-40k t of ammo in a day.That's nuclear language.How effective was it ? You can burn a lot of ammo and the end result can be null/nada/zero/rien.


Your statement was that the American troops were running too fast to fight the Germans. That is pure, unmitigated bullshit, as the ammunition expenditure records for 28th ID for December 16 clearly show. That is REGARDLESS of whether or not they were effective. In point of fact, they WERE effective in throwing off a very critical German timetable, against overwhelming odds due to local German numerical superiority and heavy armor concentrations.

As to other US formations running, the Americans held the Elsenborn Ridge quite handily thank you, stymying Dietrich's attempts to break out to the Meuse. The 106th had been put in untenable positions, were green, and as Sargent has pointed out, the troops were still ready to fight--their command surrendered them. Large numbers of support and rear echelon troops also set up ad hoc road blocks throughout the Ardennes, causing innumerable headaches for Germans as they were ambushed on the narrow forest roads. I've driven through the Ardennes extensively back in the late 70s and early 80's, and the road nets that were in that area--Clairveaux, Vianden, and other towns you'd read about if you ever bothered to seriously find out what happened. The terrain is a nightmare for an armored column on the offensive.
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#60 seahawk

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 1238 PM

I simply say German units were no better then their allied or russian enemies man for man and soldier for soldier.

A few things were working in their favor, though.

1. Better equipment in early parts of WW2
2. top level non commisioned officer corps
3. more tactical flexibility down to the platoon level.

If one reads the accounts from German soldiers there is one thing that strikes me personally as impressive nad that is that units functioned with all officers dead and a very junior nco in command. Yet they did not brake and still fought back. Such behavior was the norm for german units, while it did occur not with every allied army and it much more depended on the individual unit in those armies.

Although there were also bad german units - no doubt about that.

In the end the "german myth" comes from the cool uniforms and the cool toys the fielded in WW2. Well and the fact that at least the western allies had to come to terms with Germany quite quickly in the cold war. Harldy can tell your soldiers that they should fight side by side with lossers and know warcriminals to stop the red tide.

You will find extrme exampels of honor for every army in the second world war - even the French. (j/k)
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