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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. arca

    arca Member

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    One of the reasons why Glantz is my favorite eastern front researcher is because he has previleged acces to russian/soviet archives like barely anyone outside Russia. But I also appriciate Overy, and he states that all in all purge griped 45%!!! of the highest officers. This included 71 out of 85 officers in Revolutionary army soviet (these are, top man like Tukhachevsky,Yegerov and like, people responsible for creating strategic direction in which army is to evolve and to see it through); 720 out of 837 senior active military commanders, Shaposhnikov beeing a notable exception. Than he states the lower figures you mantioned (34 500 purged,of whom 11 500 returned etc...) and says that most of the officers weren't purged, but concludes : 'This new true picture about military purge doesn't change it's impact'. Of course it doesn't change, because if almost all of top man are removed(as he claims), it doesn't help much if several thousands low ranking and at the time insignificant officers are left unharmed.(of course, this insignificanse was exactly the thing that saved them, if they were brilliant, ambitious, strong willed, self reliant and initiative, Stalin would have percieved tham as threat.)

    Chris Belamy in Blitzkrieg campaigns also argues that main reason for Soviet desaster in '41 was reversal of Tukhachevskys reforms and incapability of purged officer corp to meet intellectual chalanges of modern war.
    If we take examples from real events ( Meinstein's plan for 'Fall gelb' being adopted by chance, because allready adopted plans, that predicted no forcing of Ardens with mechanised forces, fall into hands of the enemy; Paulus, taking sixth army after Richenau, maybe/probably causing Germans to loose key battle in the war; Zhukov taking command of Leningrad from Voroshilov and saving the city; Stalin listening to Zhukov and Vasillevsky and leting the Nazis smash thamselfs into prepared defences at Kursk, instead of attacking them first), we can see what impact one or few commanders can have on the course of the war. Now imagine the effect of thousands of top man dissapearing from whatever army. Imagine Guderian, Halder,Kleist, Kluge, Bock, Hoth, Richenau,Meinstein, Rommel, Hoepner, Ude, Denitz and thousands more most competent officers down to regimental level being shot, tens of thousands purged, and crucially their development processes reversed. What effect would this have on the Wermacht? Would people still argue, nah, Wermacht would be the same anyway.

    No corection. But this is just the consequence of neglect of command and control development, part of deevolution proces during and after the purges. I don't know to what extant would radio and other modern means of communication be developed, hadn't it been for the this negative process, but I do know that this development was predicted in formal form since the early 30s. Hadn't this development and all men doing it been stopped, the situation wit communication IMO in '41 would be considerably better.

    Agreed. But manual is not just theory, bunch of wild ideas. The theorethical roots were in mid 20s, in the days of Frunze. In mid 30s those theories were allready practice to a great degree. Those quotations from the manual I posted, are just general directions, there is also elaboration to a great detail. If something is in the official manual of the army, that means that it is it's official policy and rules and that all efforts will be invested to see it throuhg. This means steering industrial capacities toward the needs of this regulations/doctrine,and testing and perfecting in practice the rules laid down in this document. Again it's hard to say to what degree would it evolve in reality, but for sure much more, then it was the case with morons of Stalins clique taking over.


    No they were not paralised, actualy that's the reason why Stalin distrusted tham and purged them.
    ..War games were held in Kremlin in 1936 on the theme of German invasion. Tukhachevsky was late to arive to Kremlin, and saw that Stalins minions allready dutifully prepared a simulation in which soviet forces repelled Germans, bursted into Poland, connected with anti fascist forces and score a great victory on the table. Tukhachevsky said they made a mistake, and argued that Germany will attack without warning, with overwhelming forces and force long and bitter defensive struggle upon them. Stalin yelled: 'What are you trying to pull here? Scare the soviet regime?!' Few weeks later preparations for the arrest of Tukhachevsky and reckoning with prodigeous part of the army begun. This shows that those man were not afraid of Stalin as later everyone would be, it also shows how far sighted and proficient in modern war science Tukhachevsky was.It also shows that he wasn't so exclusive and dogmatic to belive that just offensive war is possible. IMO also, defence plan for '41 would have been infinetly better and would have predicted the need for defence and not just hopless suicidal attacks, that patheticly tried to emulate what once was envisaged as Deep battle. I am convinced if this man prepared USSR for war, the results would be distinctively different.



    No it wouldn't be the same. Because these were ad hoc formations, created hastly in desperate attempt to reverse 4 years of criminal neglect and sabotage done to the army. These units didn't have elaborated command and control, logistics, transport, rear services etc. All this was predicted to be developed and to certain degree for sure would have been developed if Tukhachevsky and thousands of others continued their work unhindered.In '36 Germans also didn't have all worked out, not by a longshot. Spain was critical period for their(German) improvements, and there is no reason IMO that Soviets would do any less, or at least much better than they actually did. One of so many examples of indeliberate sabotage that befell the Red army are inspired reforms of Marsall Kulik who orderd complete suspension of production and development of all anti tank and anti aircraft guns and withrowal of all automatic weapons from the Red army. :)))
    Why wouldn't we belive that Tukhachevsky and entire generation of talented designers, engineers, commanders and theoreticians wouldn't make Red army better in the period from 1936-1941, if with much less educated and experienced man they evolved into modern army witnin 1.5-2 years after the war started.
     
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  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm not so sure of this. For instance I'm pretty sure Marcus Anthony had one of the armies he commanded decimated. Might depend on whether or not you are talking about an entire national force or not though.
     
  3. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    At the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in December 1927, Joseph Stalin insisted that survival and development could only occur by pursuing the rapid development of heavy industry. From 1928 to 1932, iron production in the USSR increased from 3.3 million to 6.2 million tons per year. Coal, production rose from 35.4 million to 64 million tons, while output of iron ore rose from 5.7 million to 19 million tons. More importantly new industrial sites such as Magnitogorsk, Kuznetsk, Gorky, Kramatorsk, Kharkov, Stalingrad and Cheliabinsk were built. Industralization has helped to sustain the first strike and to fight back until the victory in Berlin 1945.

    It is true that Stalins purges have significantly weakened the Soviet position but Stalins industrialization has provided industrial foundation which served to defeat the Nazis.

    Here is a visionary snippet from his speech to industrial managers of February 1931:


     
  4. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Stalin's industrialization could have happened without the brutal methods employed. The results were not as good in reality as they were on paper. Stalins hatred of Tuk started during the civil war and continued into the Polish war. Stalin hated professional officers who came over to the Soviet side because they were bourgeoisie and he didn't trust them. Stalin had disputes with them during the civil war. Just when it seemed that the Soviets were about to occupy Poland a dispute arose between Stalin and Tuk and the result was the Poles launched a successful counter attack against the Soviets that saved Poland. From then on Stalin had Tuk on his enemy list, but he had to bide his time since the army was the one force that could stop Stalin.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Who knew Stalin so intimately that he confessed him his purely personal state of his minds? And why so of-topic?
     
  6. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Because it was how he operated with all people, Stalins daughter, Svetlana, commented that once some one was on his list of enemies there was nothing that could be done to redeem the person. Its not off topic, its the basis for why Stalin purged the army after purging everything else.
     
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  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Stalin also made a great turn after WInter War to change the Red Army into a more flexible power. The April 1940 meeting with Generals. Great book,too.

    "..the secret conference of the High Command of RKKA taking place 14-17th April 1940 Stalin gave an assessment of the Winter war."

    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=82700
     
  8. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Great link! It was not a coincidence that the RKKA proved itself much more adept at arctic warfare than the Wehrmacht in 1941 (Attachment a photoshopped SA-Kuva photo). Then there was the famous Stalin toast to the Finnish Army in 1948; Nobody respects a country with a poor army, but everybody respects a country with a good army. I raise my toast to the Finnish Army."

    J. Stalin
    1948
     

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  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Blimey....Can't ever think of Hitler saying that about any army or country his menace fought against...Uncle Joe did have some noggin then...
     
  10. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I found this article:

    Soviet Tank Operations
    in the Spanish Civil War
    by Steven J. Zaloga


    Must say this part impressed me:

    To further extend the life of the tanks, the Soviet tank units began to use trains or heavy trucks to transport the tanks whenever units had to move more than a few kilometers. This was a technique picked up from the Spanish Army, which operated French Renault FT tanks and had copied the French practice and was not a Soviet practice.

    ¿What the Soviets did before?

    Other interesting parts of the article:

    There were few tactical lessons from the early fighting. Co-operation between the tanks and the infantry they were supporting was almost uniformly abysmal. There was no training by the tanks and infantry in cooperative tactics before missions, and the tank companies seldom worked with the same infantry unit for more than a few days, so no experience was accumulated. ... and Krivoshein's units were reluctant to expend precious engine hours drilling with the Spanish infantry. Krivoshein and Arman were ordered back to Moscow to recuperate and to brief senior Red Army leaders in January 1937.

    An American tanker in the regiment wrote shortly after the attack: "Courage and heroism are plentiful in Spain and the Spanish people have no lack of it. What they need is tactics. And as for tactics, on 13 October, Regiment BT was bankrupt."

    In June 1937, shortly before the Brunete operation in Spain, Stalin began his purge of the military leadership with the arrest of Mikhail Tukhachevskiy and a number of other senior military leaders.

    In addition, many of the veterans of the Spanish Civil War came under suspicion for possible Trotskiyite contagion and were executed, including the military attaché Gorev who had been so instrumental in the defense of Madrid. In an atmosphere of paranoid suspicion, an honest opinion publicly expressed about the potential for tank warfare or tank technology could prove fatal.

    The Red Army's lessons of the war in Spain were summarized in a 1939 study...
    .... After the commitment of substantial Red army tank units to combat in Poland in September 1939, in the Far East at Khalkin Gol, and against Finland in December 1939, the focus shifted to lessons from these campaigns and the Spanish experience was pushed into the background.

    Spain highlighted the lack of durability of tank designs of the 1930s and the need for expanded technical support within the armored units. This was not acted upon, due to inertia in the industrial ministries from the paralyzing effect of the purges as well as Army inaction and complacency. The level of spare parts availability remained chronically low, and the level of technical competence of the burgeoning officer cadres was inadequate. As a result, the technical status of the Soviet tank park reached appalling levels by the time of the war's outbreak in June 1941.

    " A total of 9,532 T-26 were manufactured from 1931 to 1939. "

    In early 1938, the design team from the Kharkov Locomotive Plant attended a meeting of the Military Council in Moscow in which the assistant commander for technical affairs of the International Tank Regiment, Aleksandr Vetrov, answered questions about his experiences in Spain, including both the Fuentes de Ebro battle and the fighting in Teruel. The design team came away from the meeting further reinforced in their view that the ABTU requirement was misbegotten and that the new fast tank should have thicker armor to protect it against anti-tank guns better than the German 37mm gun encountered in Spain, and should have a better gun than the old 45mm "sparrow-shooter" of the T-26 and BT.

    IMHO: The purges killed any chance to fix many of the issues of the SU army. Could say that the T-34 came not for the wisdom of the bureaucracy but in spite of it?
     
  11. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The Soviets could come up with good things and it was dangerous to come up with bad ideas.
     
  12. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Taking into account the "quality" of Renault engines, they should have used train transport all the time, even during the battle. ;)

    EDIT: I am sorry for an off-topic comment, but I couldn't resist as once a "proud" owner of a Renault car.
     
  13. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I must say the only issue of my Renault was I had to change the battery. I guess I got good maintenance here, no snow, no mud ...

    If I understand what you have post here: as the soviets assumed they had so may problems with manteinance, training, comunications and logistics, and purged such a good part of his commanders the "solution" of the survivors was not to solve it, but to leave behind the "the deep battle" concept and simplify the deployment and maneuvers of his oversized army . At least until reality showed that it was a bad idea.
     
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  14. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    The Purges extended to Spain where the NKVD was running the show; http://www.massviolence.org/The-NKVD-Mass-Secret-National-Operations-August-1937? cs=print As a result much of what was learned on the SCW battlefields was lost. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPrussia.htm
    In the positive column the USSR seems to have developed their covert warfare knowledge appreciably during the SCW and put this to good use during the GPW. This despite the purge of the Comintern and the defection of Orlov; http://worldwardiary.com/history/Alexander_Orlov If you read accounts of the Partisan Wars SCW veterans appear in the NAZI rear with a telling frequency. http://www.ww2f.com/topic/22140-books-on-the-jewish-partisans/?hl=%2Bbooks+%2Bjewish+%2Bpartisans
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. Photoshoppings are of George Orwell during his time in the POUM militia in the early days of the SCW. The POUM was wiped out by the NKVD as "Trotskyite"-which destroyed morale in the remaining Anarchist forces of the Republic and contributed mightily to the final victory of the Francoists in 1938. Orwell and his wife barely escaped with their lives. Did Stalin betray his Spanish Allies? http://www.lausti.com/articles/Spain/civilwar.html http://www.amazon.com/Spain-Betrayed-Annals-Communism-Series/dp/0300176953 YES! So it would seem Republican Spain also fell victim to the Purges! The Western Arms Embargo-which was caused by some clucking hens in the West who disapproved of Spanish anarchists, and which drove the Republic to the USSR in the first place-turned out to have been a disasterous mistake; http://politicalquotes.org/node/45498
     

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  15. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Indeed. If you observe opening stages of the operation »Bagration«, instead of "deep battle", Rokossovsky gave the Germans a German medicine mixed with the Russian maskirovka. Allegedly, Stalin initially opposed and then approved his plan.

    Regarding the »Renault« issue: I am driving 60.000 km per year and that is simply too much for a Renault machine. At some point it started stalling randomly, at the most inappropriate points: at motorway junction, in the middle of heavy traffic, in the middle of nowhere, everywhere. It was so disappointing that I said: never again a French car!
    [​IMG]
     
  16. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    viva columbo
     
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  17. arca

    arca Member

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    Yes, Stalin was far sighted about this. Still it was Tukhackevsky and others who persuaded him to devote a big part of first and second five year plan to industry needed for mechanised warfare and also to industry for civil use which could be easily conveted to military use.(example is giant tractor factories that were used to revolutionise agriculture, and could be easily converted to build tanks.) As early as 1930 Tukhachevsky proposed (based on analyses in his book Future war) land army of 260 divisions with 50 000 tanks and 40 000 aircrafts! At first Stalin rejected this as 'red militarism' (and was also concerned this would interfere with development of industrial base) but a year later he tasked Tukhachevsky to head rearmament program. 'Critical turning point occured in1932-1933 when Stalin turnd away from previously accepted moderate rearmament program, that was sustainable by the economy and shifted the accent on comprehensive militarization and for that needed economic restructuring'.(Overy) (evidence is the fact that 15 000 tanks were built from 1932-35!!)
    Soviet Union was industrialy very undeveloped,practicaly a feudal economy, therefore they had to import everything from machine tools to engineers while building it's industrial base from scrap. This was paid with human lives, millions of them who starved to death while the only mass product of USSR, the grain was exported en mass as only mean to obtain foreign currency, needed for industrialization.(only in Ukraine in period from 1932-1933 3-3.5 millions starved to death and millions more had birth deforms.) It is the greatest ironie that perhaps this turned out to be decisive in future victory over the Nazis, and Nazi victory would make these millions of victimes look rediculous as they would exterminate 75% of USSR's population and use the rest as slaves (as predicted by Hitler)

    Very nice article Kai. Stalin was finaly coming to his senses after disaster in Finland. Although reforms gathered pace only after catastrophic war games results of early 1941. Here are some extracts from the article:
    'We have to create new soldiers and not those fools who went to the Civil War.' - I was laughing loud when I read this :D . But it's good that he realised this even than.
    'It is not sufficient if politruk will repeatedly say “Lenin-Stalin Party” like Aliluya-Aliluya.' - :))
     
  18. arca

    arca Member

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    Yes, Soviets simplified it's force structure and elaborate theories temporarily in 1941 because of lack of weaponry , initiative and officers to put those theories into practice.For example, the STAVKA decided within weeks, after realising that they lacked many things, most notably expirienced command and staff officers, to dismiss it's rifle and mechanized corps formations and instead rely on much more simple and more easily controlable rifle divisions subordinated directly to the army HQ and tank brigades with several dozen tanks instead of mechanised corpses with 1024 tanks.

    The Soviets didn't give up on the Deep battle, but postponed it's use and added some things they learned from the Germans. In late 1942 allready first attempts were made to reintroduce Deep battle. The army than lacked many things though. Sufficient number of experienced officers for mechanised warfare, means for sustaining long range offensives and right force structure. In 1943 rapid advancements were made as rifle corpses were reintroduced, this time with enough competent officers and growing quantities of specialised equipment that make true combined arms units. (Equipment like, armor, mortars, engineers, anti tank,and anti aircraft guns.) Also artillery was begining to be used in a mass manner on decesive points, as was predicted earlier. Air forces were orginesed into independant arm of armed forces thanks to general Novikov's reforms, again as described in prewar theories. Most important factor for succesfull conduct of Deep battle was creation of tank armies in 1943 (those of 1942 were tank armies in name only),finaly an independant force, capable of operating on operational level.(like german panzer corps or army) These long range units with components of balanced speed and armor protection and equiped with variety of specialised weapons, could finaly fulfill main Deep battle concept of operational exploatation of the enemy rear. Tank/mechanised corpses or armies would be attached to most active fronts/armies where offensive was planned and were used as mobile groups.
    The entire concept of mobile mechanised warfare was similar in German and Soviet theories and developed pretty much independently(although even earlier in the 20s by soviet theoreticians). There are some differencies though..
    Soviets wouldn't unlike Germans use tank corpses to achieve breakthrough, but would use infantry from combined armies to make tactical breaches of enemy's front and only then introduce those mobile formations for introduction into enemy rear and for operational exploatation . Also Soviets unlike Germans would have a tank or mechanised units attached to combined arms unit that was doing the breakthrough and those mobile units would conduct inner encirclement of enemy's forward forces (corps size), ensuring their destruction, while front's mobile groups (tank armies) seeked for operational encirclement.(as predicted in Deep battle (Field regulations of 1936) - tank units for short range use and long range operations) Next example is that Soviets would use one main effort breakthrough point while other attack axis were simply supportive, unlike Germans who used more than one main axises. This german feathure was adopted by Rokossovsky while triing to envelop Bobriusk in the opening of Bagration..He used two breakthrough points, with equal priorities, which enabled him to exploit succes of either of those two groups if one gets bogged down. This proved a superior solution and he achived breakthrough before Zhukov did, using one main axis. (Stalin sent him out of the room for two times to 'reconsider' his plan. Each time he was categorical about his decision and Stalin said that 'commnder's confidence in his plan is guarantee for it's sucess' :) )
     
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  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The Soviets had two tank units. The tank corps, which were used for support and local break through and were under control of the local front and the tank army, of which there were up to 6. they were used for strategic breakthroughs and were under Stavka control until released.
     
  20. arca

    arca Member

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    Soviet tank/mechanized corps were either independant units or organic components of tank armies. In 1942 tank corps had 2 tank brigades and one motorised infantry brigade plus some specialist units. From 1943 third tank brigade was added to make this unit a fair match for a panzer division. It consisted of about 180 tanks and somewhat in excess of 200 AFVs in total. They were augmented to nearly 250 AFVs later in the war as more specialized units were attached (assault gun regiments,motorcycle battalion,motorized submachine gun battalion,motorised artillery battalions,submachine gun company,antitank rifle company,mortar battalion,anti aircraft machine gun company,pioneer mine company,anti-aircraft regiment, rocket launcher battalion,trains company). Those corps were about 17 000 strong - similar to panzer division. However only soviet unit capable of independant execution of operational tasks (in accordance to prewar theories) was tank army(smallest german unit predicted for such task was panzer corps).These units usualy consisted of two tank and one mechanised corps plus variety of specialised attached units. These armies were about 80 000 strong (which indicates presence of many specialised units, cause strength of three corps was just over 50 000 man) and had about 500 - 600 tanks plus few hundred other AFVs, which puts them (at least theoreticaly) somewhere between panzer corps and panzer group/army. Those were the instrument of deep advancments and their very presence was indicative of soviet offensive plans.
     

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