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Old 05-29-2011, 08:39 PM
 
Location: Carmel, CA USA
40 posts, read 23,731 times
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Even American officers and enlisted soldiers in the fields of Normandy agreed that there was something different about the fighting spirit and abilities of the German soldier. They had a tenacity and a fighting zeal that neither the Americans nor the British even came close to. Many of the posts in this thread reveal a true lack of depth in historical reading of WWII. And some posts are right on the money. It really wasn't about the equipment; despite the fact that much German armament was brilliantly innovative. It was about the abilities of the German soldier, both officers and enlisted to take charge and take independent initiative.

The scenario question really is: If Germany were given the same manpower reserves and held anywhere near the availability of resources to carry on the war on an equal basis to the combined powers of the western allies, they would have easily won the war hands down.

Because, when it comes down to it, no one on the planet at that time could match the fighting abilities of the German soldier on the field of battle. For a very long time, no could fend off a German onslaught and no one could hold and defend ground like the German soldier.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:36 AM
 
828 posts, read 698,855 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmilingWolf View Post
Even American officers and enlisted soldiers in the fields of Normandy agreed that there was something different about the fighting spirit and abilities of the German soldier. They had a tenacity and a fighting zeal that neither the Americans nor the British even came close to. Many of the posts in this thread reveal a true lack of depth in historical reading of WWII. And some posts are right on the money. It really wasn't about the equipment; despite the fact that much German armament was brilliantly innovative. It was about the abilities of the German soldier, both officers and enlisted to take charge and take independent initiative.

The scenario question really is: If Germany were given the same manpower reserves and held anywhere near the availability of resources to carry on the war on an equal basis to the combined powers of the western allies, they would have easily won the war hands down.

Because, when it comes down to it, no one on the planet at that time could match the fighting abilities of the German soldier on the field of battle. For a very long time, no could fend off a German onslaught and no one could hold and defend ground like the German soldier.
Then WHY were they defeated if they were so great Their weapons might have been better [some not all may have been] MGs and Tanks yes, infantry rifles NO. They used bolt action while our troops used semiauto or submachine guns YES they were getting low on certain supplies BUT that was not till latter 1945 and they were fighting the Russians in their own backyard [MOST would have prefered to surrender to the US/British then the Russians]
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:33 AM
 
Location: New York City
2,792 posts, read 2,580,258 times
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Originally Posted by BoxCar Willie View Post
Then WHY were they defeated if they were so great Their weapons might have been better [some not all may have been] MGs and Tanks yes, infantry rifles NO. They used bolt action while our troops used semiauto or submachine guns YES they were getting low on certain supplies BUT that was not till latter 1945 and they were fighting the Russians in their own backyard [MOST would have prefered to surrender to the US/British then the Russians]
It has already been pointed out many times. They were outnumbered. Both on the Eastern Front and in the West. Like Stalin said, quantity has a quality of its own.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Miami, FL
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Something is wrong with the entire man to man premise as German field forces were routed on a number of occasions: Northern France 1944, Southern France 1944, Crimea 1944, Army Group Center battles 1944, recapture of Belograd/Orel 1943, Escape from the Don basin 1943, Retreat from the Dnieper 1944, Withdrawl through Poland 1944, Rumania penetration 1944,etc.

Germans fought well defensively when the terrain conferred an advantage to multiply their numbers Normandy 1944, Low Countries 1944, Huertgen Forest 1944, Italy,etc..

Or, were able to execute a fighting retreat due to advantages of terrain as in Sicily, Southern Italy and to a extent in Northern Africa.

Or, were able to hold against superior numbers due to lack of interest on the part of the enemy-Narva/Courland region 1944/45, Leningrad encirclement to 1944,

The Germans were already on the strategic defensive when the U.S. fielded an army and a modern British Commonwealth Army took the offensive.(Bernard Montgomery did reorganize how the British Army attacked offensively to his credit) Being in prepared defences makes it appear as if it would indeed require several western Alied soldiers to covercome one German. But requiring a superiority in numbers at the point of the attack to overcome the defender is a basic military axiom predating WWII.

Regarding the Eastern Front, the Soviets managed to burst through at will after Stalingrad because German defenses were sparse and weakly held. German defense measures were based on the concept of using the tactical counterattack not a rigid frontline. Hence, the Soviets disguising their planned offensives and striking massive blows at the point of attack. German mechanized reserves were stretched and not able to respond when needed.(Similar to what happened at El Alamein but on a larger scale) Or unable to effectively defeat the Soviet thrust because of the inequalities of strength. The benefit of the Italian, threatened and later actual French landings was to siphon away German armor units.

Western Allied soldiers were still in the learning phase as new units were fed into battle. I recall reading how in mid-1944 a German platoon sized roadblock would hold up an U.S. Armored battalion for an entire day whereas in early 1945 tactics were in place for swift neutralization of this threat.

Man to Man makes no sense in modern warfare as it is a combined arms battle. I think man to man factors tend to end once warfare becomes positional instead of fluid.

I think people are mesmerized because defeating German field forces required the combined efforts of U.S, Soviet, British Commonwealth, and other Allied elements.(French, Polish, Brazil) I see it as being whether the inclusion of German mechanized units utilized in the West would have been sufficient to stop the Soviets in their offensives.

Last edited by Felix C; 05-31-2011 at 09:06 AM..
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:39 PM
 
Location: New York City
2,792 posts, read 2,580,258 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Felix C View Post
Something is wrong with the entire man to man premise as German field forces were routed on a number of occasions:
For my part, I stated a long time ago that the strength of the German military did not lie in the individual qualities of German soldiers but rather in its efficiency as an organization. This in turn, stemmed from the greater training and experience on the part of German officers and NCOs. Of course, when countries go to war, they don't fight literally "man to man". The military of any country is very complex, with different types of troops and units, from front line to command and control to supply. Being able to coordinate actions of millions of men, from battalion level all the way to army groups, to achieve a common goal better than you opponent is far more important than toughness of any individual soldier.

That said, there are a couple of things I'd like to quibble with you:
Quote:
Being in prepared defences makes it appear as if it would indeed require several western Alied soldiers to covercome one German. But requiring a superiority in numbers at the point of the attack to overcome the defender is a basic military axiom predating WWII.
Superiority in numbers is necessary only at the tactical level at the point of a breakthrough. And prepared defenses did not mean all that much unless they were backed up by considerable manpower. The Battle of France is a perfect example. The Germans had hardly any superiority (except in the air) but they did concentrate their forces in key areas (river Meuse) to achieve a decisive victory. And the allied prepared positions were either taken or bypassed.

Quote:
Regarding the Eastern Front, the Soviets managed to burst through at will after Stalingrad because German defenses were sparse and weakly held. German defense measures were based on the concept of using the tactical counterattack not a rigid frontline. Hence, the Soviets disguising their planned offensives and striking massive blows at the point of attack. German mechanized reserves were stretched and not able to respond when needed.(Similar to what happened at El Alamein but on a larger scale) Or unable to effectively defeat the Soviet thrust because of the inequalities of strength. The benefit of the Italian, threatened and later actual French landings was to siphon away German armor units.
Agree completely on the Germans being spread too thin. However, regarding the siphoning away of German units to the west - I think the scale of the fighting in the east was simply too great for this to be decisive. For example, how many armored units the Germans have in Italy and France relative to the Kursk salient in 1943? Kursk is another example, by the way, of the limited effectiveness of prepared positions in WWII.

Quote:
Man to Man makes no sense in modern warfare as it is a combined arms battle.
Spot on.

Quote:
I think people are mesmerized because defeating German field forces required the combined efforts of U.S, Soviet, British Commonwealth, and other Allied elements.(French, Polish, Brazil) I see it as being whether the inclusion of German mechanized units utilized in the West would have been sufficient to stop the Soviets in their offensives.
I doubt it. There weren't THAT many mechanized units in the west. But you can make a similar case with airpower. The Mediterranean and later the skies over Germany itself were huge sinks for the Luftwaffe.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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If the Hitler had not turned on the Soviet Union, they would have won the war in Europe, and certainly before the Normandy invasion. I really don't think that there's much doubt about this. THe only question would have been : how long could the Germans maintain their hold over much of Europe? Eventually, they would have lost their grip, but it might have taken years..

THe Germans had much the same problem in WW1. The only allies they had were the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was weakening, and Bulgaria; they faced an Allied opposition of England, France, Italy, Russia ( until1917) and the US ( 1917-18); it became a numbers game the Germans couldn't win..
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:21 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
8,587 posts, read 5,958,697 times
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Default Another professional opinion

After I started this thread I started British historian Max Hastings' book Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. I was not specifically looking for confirmation of my thesis about the general superiority of the German ground army, but I did find it. On pages 147 and 148, Hastings quotes with approval Sir Michael Howard, "who possesses the unusual distinction of being both a military historian and a veteran of combat against the Wehrmacht". Here is what Professor Howard had to say:

"Until a very late stage of the war the commanders of British and American ground forces knew all too well that, in a confrontation with the German troops on anything approaching equal terms, their own men were likely to be soundly defeated. They were better than we were: that cannot be stressed too often. Every Allied soldier involved in fighting the Germans knew that this was so, and did not regard it as in any way humiliating. We were amateurs...drawn from peaceful industrial societies with a deep cultural bias against all things military...fighting the best professionals in the business...We blasted our way into Europe with a minimum of finesse and a maximum of high explosive."
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:24 PM
 
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
638 posts, read 447,133 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassVt View Post
If the Hitler had not turned on the Soviet Union, they would have won the war in Europe, and certainly before the Normandy invasion.
That's the point. Both Hitler and Stalin set that agreement not thinking of being Allies but only as a diversion to each one. None of them were really planning to fight along. What happened was just that Hitler broke up with that deal first. But as we say here, both of them were flour of the same package.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Miami, FL
3,129 posts, read 1,652,650 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
After I started this thread I started British historian Max Hastings' book Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. I was not specifically looking for confirmation of my thesis about the general superiority of the German ground army, but I did find it. On pages 147 and 148, Hastings quotes with approval Sir Michael Howard, "who possesses the unusual distinction of being both a military historian and a veteran of combat against the Wehrmacht". Here is what Professor Howard had to say:

"Until a very late stage of the war the commanders of British and American ground forces knew all too well that, in a confrontation with the German troops on anything approaching equal terms, their own men were likely to be soundly defeated. They were better than we were: that cannot be stressed too often. Every Allied soldier involved in fighting the Germans knew that this was so, and did not regard it as in any way humiliating. We were amateurs...drawn from peaceful industrial societies with a deep cultural bias against all things military...fighting the best professionals in the business...We blasted our way into Europe with a minimum of finesse and a maximum of high explosive."
Sir Michael Howard was 22 years of age in 1944/5. Thought would be a Lieutenant or Capt. Hardly a substantial rank to speak for the Allied armies of the West. You need to find a more senior officer to make that point.

But true, the Commonwealth armies were quite mixed regarding performance until Montgomery took command. Montgomery made it quite clear to his man when he took command that they were not inferior to the Germans. etc. etc. Even late in the war, British NCOs did not have the level of training to assume a mission in an absence of a comm. officer that was standard in the German Army.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:46 PM
 
40,871 posts, read 42,017,499 times
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Originally Posted by Off Topic View Post
I think what you say is fairly accurate to a point. I'm not saying the German regular army had clean hands -- I'm saying that their hands weren't that much dirtier than the Russians, British or Americans. (And much cleaner than the Japanese.)

I honestly see the distinction between killing civilians with bombs and killing civilians personally. But I'm not sure it's much of a distinction for the dead civilians. Anyway, not to the point where we can get on a high horse over it.

Again, all the participants were willing to kill civilians, either personally or impersonally. The German regular army hardly stood alone in this, and that was the point of my post.



I'm not 100% sure the SS fall within the category we were talking about, but if they do, no question they were the scum of the earth. However, we are talking about fighting ability. The fact they are scrum doesn't mean they weren't good fighters. (Nor does it mean they were bad fighters -- it's simply irrelevant to the question posed in this thread.)
Anyone looking at the germans including civilians did before and during the war to the jews but also to civilians in poland etc. can't deny the difference. I rememeber the soldiers who lived in my neighborhood rememebering that you could smell the death camps from towns nearby. Every german including civilians knew they didn't want to surrender to the russian's because the secret of what they had done in the eastern front wasn't a secret.They in a way could accept that Japanese acted in such ways but not a western supposedly civil country.As pure fighters no one were the frantics and btter more brutal fighters than the aJapanese which isn't saying much for them really.
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