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Assesment of negative effect of Stalin on Red army development

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by arca, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Well,Glantz is giving a total of 35000 officers who were fired (including those were were arrested/killed),and, IMHO,one can trust Glantz,on this point, because he has the tendency of parotting the Soviet generals who were blaming Stalin for the defeats,and were claiming the victories ;

    I also want to see if those who were fired were more educated,experienced and enticed to use initiative .
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    R.Rees gives even more different figures in " The Soviet Military experience" P 86/87:

    On a total of 206000 officers,23705 were purged:9506 were arrested,of whom an unknown number were shot,or died in prison. And,13000 were fired for non-political offenses .
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I guess the problem for both sides started to be the same. No matter how good officers you had, there were politruks for the Red Army who surveyd the decisions, and Stalin´s orders that did not give them room to maneuvere. " Not a step back". Stalin started to realize in summer 1942 that it was better to let the soldiers do their work mostly and then the battles changed in their favour. Hitler, then again, started to go for " Not a step back" from winter 1941-42 and murdered the Wehrmacht single-handedly in 2-3 years. What can a good commander do if you are bound to an order to stay in one place and win the battle or die in your bunker?
     
  4. arca

    arca Member

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    Glantz actually says 35 000 killed or put to GULAG + 10 000 discharged. Of course this was the cream of the officer corps and not just any officers.
    3 of 5 marshals,(two left were criminaly incompetent), all 11 deputy defense commissars (all of them specialist for various fields of military art- air force ,artillery,mechanized forces,logistics etc.), all commanders of military districts, commanders and chiefs of staff of Navy and Air force, 14 of 16 army commanders, 60 of 67 corp commanders, 136 of 199 division commanders, 221 of 397 brigade commanders, and 50 percent of regiment commanders.
    But my main point in this discussion is that it wasn't just about lack of officers, but reversal of almost all proceses in the army that were advanced and in accordance with modern, mobile mechanised war doctrine. Those advancements were reversed because Stalin had different wiews and mainly because those processes derived from people who Stalin decided were the enemy.
     
  5. arca

    arca Member

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    There are no real proofs but these are my assesments of the Stalins negative impact on various aspects of military planing and development, based on facts:
    -Without neglecting new designs development and purging of engineers, factory managers and constructors, there would be much more modern weapons which would present considerable threat to Germans. Especially armor, and also air force, capable of better defense of itself and also delivering punishment .
    -No existence of combined arms units capable of independent operations on operational scale (use of adequately armored, massed tanks ,development of logistics, communications, infantry support for such units; equivalent to german panzer corps or groups.)
    -No independent air force organization, not hindered by constant demands by the army, but also allowed to act independently to achieve its full potential.
    -Very few educated, experienced and competent leadership, who would practice initiative
    .- No existence of more realistic defense plan. Actual defense plan of ‘41 anticipated several weeks of time for the Red army to mobilize after the hostilities broke out, before Germans could mobilize and concentrate themselves. It also predicted Red army to be evenly deployed across entire border( at least the first echelon, the largest), ripe for destruction. IMO man as Tukhachevsky who had such understanding of modern mechanized war wouldn’t deploy army in a fashion he would wish enemy army was deployed if he was attacking it. Also totally unrealistic predicaments about time needed by the Germans to hit with full strength after initial attack was criminal self delusion, probably attempt to connive Stalin. Because after becoming partly conscious of the state of the army after 1941 war games, Stalin was gripped by panic and didn’t allow for any degree of army mobilization and readiness so not to provoke Hitler into attacking. This resulted in peace time deployment of the army, which meant unmasked aircrafts packed in tight lines, begging to be wiped out; ammunition, fuel, even artillery aiming equipment, everything was in distant warehouses, which could have been on Mars as well when Luftwaffe came in. Furthermore there was clear numerical superiority of the Wermacht in the western districts, which enabled Wermacht to engage Red army peace meal . All of these deficiencies were supposed to be dealt with in those few weeks defense plan envisaged. If army was stronger and led by competent man IMO it is reasonable to assume that army would be mobilized and at least more ready for war, because there would be no need to please Hitler by pulling panties down.
    -Communications were one of important reason for catastrophe of 41. If things were different IMO this problem could also have been smaller because Tukhachevsky predicted the use of radios for control of units in mobile warfare, while after his fall nothing was done in this field, while field phones and civil phone lines??, were supposed to be used for communicating.
     
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  6. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Arca if you are arguing that without the purge of the officer class and elimination of Tuk and his ideas that the Red Army would have initially performed better then I think few would disagree with you.


    However, would it have been significantly better and held the Germans in 1941 - personally I don't think so.

    By advancing into Poland (Stalin's mistake I suppose), the Soviets left behind their well prepared defence (a repeat of the Anglo-Frnech advance to the Dyle and Breda variant). Would any Chief of Staff been able to stop this - clearly not.

    Tuk may have been an early advocate of the BlitzKreig (Deep Battle) but from what I understand the Soviets (even under his leadership) had aimed to forestall the Germans and carry out their own deep battles in Poland.

    This was unlikely to be the case - so the question is did Tuk have any riposte to a German Blitz ie could he and the purged Officers have made the difference and held at least the key area of the USSR.
     
  7. arca

    arca Member

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    Well it's really hard to prove anything but I am a beliver :)
    Yes, nice comparison. This is also one of the reasons for '41 defeats(also army expansion, narrow dogmatic wiews etc.), but I'm focusing on the leadership and reforming processes suppresion cause IMO those were dominant reasons. Even if Red army advanced into more unfavorable positions in Poland, IMO if those other presumptions I talked about were met, result would have been very different.
    True. This was one of the weaknesses of Soviet military doctrine - too dominantly oriented toward attack and neglecting the deffence. This had more to dowith dogma and unflexible ideological wiews, than with military science. Maybe if Red army had evolved to suficient degree by '41, preemptive attack wouldn't have been such a bad idea.
    Anyway I submited a scenario in 'What if' section, describing Red army(unhindered by Stalin in any period) defending against Germans in '41..
     
  8. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The difference is that Stalin was replacing good officers with bad ones. Marshall was retiring officers who were not able to do the job and giving ones who had earned his trust a chance. Marshall also did not turn back the clock on doctrine and prepare to fight the last war again.
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  10. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Correct, 34,000 sacked - of which 9,500 were arrested by the NKVD. But 11,596 were subsequently reinstated by May 1940. Obviously some of those sacked could have been sacked even if there was no purge.

    Overend puts the net effect at 10,000 loss.

    But by 1941 80% of those purged had been re-instated. 161 new Divisions were created in 1938 to 1941 period and hence 75% of Officers had served in that capacity for less than one year.

    In terms of raw numbers the purge was insignificant compared with the expansion of the Army as LJAd points out.

    And LJAd questions whether those Officers lost would have performed better - I would add the rider "how much better in 6 months to end Dec 1941 is the real question?".

    So just how good was Soviet Army in 1937 and its commanders?

    The Soviet Marshals and top brass all won there laurels in the Civil War or Polish\Russian War, a poor breading ground for Officers facing the Wehrmacht in 1941.

    I question whether Tuk's ideas could have been effected in the short time available between 1937 and 1941 bearing in mind his position (effectively second in command).

    And Could the Soviet forces have developed a sufficiently effective command and control system - personally I don't think so. Their population was still not fully literate and their technology in radio communication was poor (to say nothing of Radar - was non-existant). No way you could conduct a "Deep battle" with out decent command and control system (and air supremacy).

    Could they overcome the "fear of responsibility" which Germans and others detected and which was as present in 1937 as 1941? Don't think so.
     
  11. efestos

    efestos Member

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    Must say that (by rote) such a good part of the officers Stalin sent to Spain were purged (shot) later. So if they have learn any thing it was lost. I read the same about the men that saw the Secret Wermacht maneuvers in the SU...

    After reading the very interesting post of this thread I ask my self if the situation of the soviet army, without amunition, oil and spare parts and the storage of them far awy from the combat units was not caused by incompetence but by a deliberate political decision, to prevent revolts. Stalin's paranoia ... too much people would have been needed to move a division... so it became absolutely impossible to hide a conspiracy.

    I would like some one with a better knowledge of the east front than me answered the "What if? " detailing the mistakes of the Soviet high command during the summer '41 and the (easy) alternatives of the red army in this frame time.
     
  12. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    First there was the Finnish debacle of 1939-1940 that suggested that all was not well with the post Tuhkachevsky/"no lessons learned in Spain" Red Army. Then came Barbarossa.
    The Merridale account portrays the Red Army of 1941 as still more of an instrument of political indoctrination than anything resembling a military force; https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/catherine-merridale/ivans-war/ There were improvements in the pipeline, but they came too late for the 4 million RKKA soldiers on the USSR's Western borders. Hitler picked a time to attack when the RKKA was still quite weak; http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/articles/invadingrussia.aspx If he would have waited until 1942 it would have been an entirely different story.
    JeffinMNUSA
    MOre conversations on the subject; http://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/336-2.aspx#startofcomments
     

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  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    To those who have time (a lot of time) I should recommend the thread "RKKA capabilities in 1941" on Armchair General .

    On post 370 :

    "The Russian historian Jurij Muchin wrote the following in the Moscow journal Duel of july 1997 about Tuk:


    Tuk had built a tank weapon that was inferior to the German Panzer divisions with an obsolete strategical and tactical conception on tanks with several turrets,light cavalry tanks without radio,artillery,AG,repair units .

    Tuk was a disciple of Guderian,but a bad one,and did never understand the principles of modern tank warfare ,with desastrous results in the first phase of the war .
     
  14. arca

    arca Member

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    John Simkin writes about 30 000 officers executed, Ekatarina Gracheva writes abut 50 % of total number of officer executed, globalsecurity.org portal states that 35 000 oficers were purged of those 15- 30 000 executed, Glantz and House state 35 000 purged + 10 000 dismissed. If we know that only during the period from '37 to '38 3 million people died in purges, these figures for the army (which was in that time Stalin's worst imaginary enemy, and only potential real enemy) are very resonable.

    All military thinkers in the world during the 20s and 30s had their background in ww1 (in USSR also in civil war). And all theories including Blizkrieg and Deep battle had developed on lessons from those conflicts, the question was how not to repeat same problems (stalemate with huge attrition).
    In 1936 Soviets had conceptual and theoretical advantage over the Germans (Glantz).Read the Field regulations of 1936 and see what he ment.(Field regulations of any army are not some wild theory, but final codified product and detailed instructions, result of some ten years of development.) Development of mass radio use and more efficient command and controled system was predicted, but of course we can say now they wouldn't suceed. I don't see why not. Anyway to a much greater degree then they actually did under Voroshilov and Kulik. Therefore in the period from '37 to '41 Red army didn't need to catch up, the Germans did. In appllying theory to practice no side was yet fully proficient, but then the Soviets began to roll back in stead of forward, actually they were rolling back all the way to civil war, that's much faster then the Germans were moving forward ;)
     
  15. arca

    arca Member

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    This is rubbish :) He is comparing soviet machanized corpses from early and mid 30s with final product of panzer division. In that time panzer divisions had very simillar problems wit comunications, light tanks (lighter than soviet and no heavy or medium thanks at all!) It is Tukhachevsky's (and some others) credit ,because they realised flaws in the design of the multituret heavy tanks and to light tanks, that allready in early 30s development on future T34 and KV tanks begun.Same thing goes for air force hardware that later became modern soviet fighters and ground attack aircraft. If development of this hardware and know how for using them, developed unhindered, I',m sure (as sure as I can be), that in '41 situation would be different. Maybe Wermacht would still be stronger, but not by so much, not by a longshot.



    Right, thats why in 1929 we have first functional written regulations for the army how to conduct deep battle, and one year later experimental combined arms,mobile,mechanised brigade and world first air assault. In that time there was even no armoured arm of German army and panzer divisions were only a theory with 6 years! more needed to create first one.
     
  16. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Well I know that some of the earlier estimates proved to be high once the Soviet archives were opened up - I can only guess that this is the reason for the discrepancy. I hate say it but many historians are pretty lazy. Once a figure is published everyone copies it and because its the "Written Word" somehow it takes on its own veracity. Thus the I set no store by the number of times its is repeated - I took my figures from Overy published 2000 (and he makes this very point about early guesses concerning Soviet Statistics).

    Well agreed but by the end of WW1 on the Western Front gave the commanders first hand experience of co-coordinating all arms tanks, artillery, infantry and airplanes (with rudimentary command and control systems) - something not seen on the Eastern Front or the Russian Civil War\Polish(the latter seemed closer in character to Napoleonic than WW2!)

    With regard to use of the radio for communication and really no command and control could be effective without it, I am pretty sure it was very poor\limited in use until later 1943 - even the early T34s and many aircraft had no radio (I stand to be corrected)

    I agree with you that the Soviets went backwards in their military thinking after 1937 - the purge had its effect, no doubt, but it is one thing writing the manual and other carrying it out. I would suggest that the basic fear of decision making paralysed the Soviet Army of 1937 as badly as that of 1941.
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    In june 1941,the Western Military District had 10 tank and 5 motorized divisions with a hotchpotch of 2900 tanks(from T 34 to T 26) of which 470 with a readiness category 1 . This explains a lot : a lot of tank(only a few operational),shortages of trucks,fuel,...The tank divisions were only infantry divisions with a lot (to much) tanks .

    The whole thing was a Potemkin village,and,every one (from the military to Stalin) knew it :the only thing they could do was hoping on time,a lot of time,to make of this hotchpotch something that could fight .

    And,without the purges,the situation would be the same .

    The 17 th MC of the WMD had only 36 training tanks and was worthless .

    A Soviet tank division was aithorized 4.2 trucks and light transports per tank,a German PzD was authorized 12.7 trucks and light transports per tank,and,the PzD had 2.5 ton trucks,the Soviet tank divisions 1.5 ton trucks .

    Withoutthe purges,all this would be the same .
     
  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    The essence of the problem we address here is an eternal dilemma: Practice vs. Theory. However powerful concepts of the Deep Battle were, there still remains the problem if it's implementation at the battlefield. What I can see, Zhukov and Comrades have adopted practice based on a modified theory of the Deep Battle. At least during the Axis strategic initiative (1941-1943) they employed strategy based on: (1) creating of significant reserve, dragging an enemy into a battle of attrition to stall the enemy and then employing the reserve with the use the Deep Battle concepts . Just observe three major battles: Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk. The pattern is obvious.
     
  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Tuk was no disciple of Guderian, his ideas were independently thought of and developed. The reason the tank divisions and corps were so bad in 1941 is they were disbanded in 1938 and were hastily reformed after the German success in Poland. They were also in the middle of transition from the BT series to the T34/KV. If you want to compare tank units compare the tank armies of 1944 to its German counterpart. Its hard to know how good the Soviet army would have been because of the expansion, but it is certain that no arms suffered more then the tank corps and the chaos and bad leadership had a tremendous effect on the Soviet failure in the start of Barbarossa.
    Did not Hitlers purge of the German army have an effect of the performance of the army as he took over control of the Wehrmacht, so why wouldn't Stalins purge also have an effect on the performance on the army.
     
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  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Hitler did not purge the German army in 1938 (sadly enough a lot of stupid ones continued to sit on their bottom).
     

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