Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Most under appreciated battle of the Ostfront?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Gibson, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,370
    Likes Received:
    30
    That's a good idea, Erich. I have picked up little bits here and there, but not enough to really understand anything. Forcing myself would be a good idea!
    Studying the german military terms would be easier if they didn't have so darn many of them!!

    Good line, C. I understand that one! My line- "Mein Deutch really stinks!" :D

    But of course we can rely on Friedrich for some good german one-liners! :D :D :D

    [ 02 August 2002, 12:34 PM: Message edited by: CrazyD88 ]
     
  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Crazy :

    do you know of anyone who speaks Deutsch fluently and would take time to teach you some basic sentance's ? Reason being this is probably the best way to teach yourself, by using the terms and words straight from their mouths. You will hear many different influences on words and how the sentance is put together. Like having this person(s) write a letter for you of one paragraph; say you are writing a vet, and how to best apply your questions to make them German and not English. Listen and watch how words are pronounced and you will be surprised how fast you can pick it up if even it is only elementary. Also if you get a couple of Germans together from different parts of Germany who can become aware of their accents ! Yes as Friedrich can attest, Germans also have accents as we Americans....

    ;) E
     
  3. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Thanks Crazy--unfortunately--thats the best line in German that I know--I used it plenty of times when I was there. I hated sounding so stupid at not pronouncing words correctly and figgured that I must have sounded like some uneducated baackwoods person. I did try to use my limited German when possible--unless the person requested we speak in English, so they can practice as well.

    PS, Friedrich beat me to the punch for RKT. In English its called a Knights Cross, and RKT in English is short for, Knights Cross Recipient.
     
  4. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    Hahaha! I beat you, Herr GFM!!! :D

    Learning German is very simple. I already spoke German when I was two years old... :D
     
  5. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Rub it in youngster--rub it in. ;) :D
     
  6. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,370
    Likes Received:
    30
    Thansk for the advice, gents!
    Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who speaks german. But I have the directors cut of Das Boot on Dvd. That's a start- watch it in german with English subtitles.
    And hey, Carl, at least you've travelled to germany! I have yet to manage anywhere near the amount of travelling I'm planning on (I work in publishing... not the richest profession :rolleyes: ). But I'm still young!
    Hey- maybe I could visit Friedrich... but those Elephants in his garage probably smell really bad [​IMG] :D [​IMG] :D

    Back to the thread topic- I have been reading more recently on the Seelow Heights battle... I started re-reading "The Last Battle", Ryan's work. This was an impressive battle from what I've read and remember. But does anyone have any better sources for this, more analytical (you know I like numbers!)?
    From what I've read so far, and some brief mentions in other sources, General Gotthard Heinrici may be one of the most under-appreciated generals on the eastern front. Defensive experts often get overshadowed by the Rommels and Guderians; and yet defensive engagements can be crucial. Kursk also comes to mind- most sources look at Kursk as a "german failure"; in reality, the germans fought as hard and as well as they could, it was just that the russians also fought a superb DEFENSIVE battle- the battle was a russian victory, not a german failure.

    [ 03 August 2002, 02:14 AM: Message edited by: CrazyD88 ]
     
  7. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Crazy :

    Try the Boston German society. Surely the city has one ? Or the Library for references. Even if you checked a German restauarant there maybe business cards posted on a corkboard advertizement sign somewhere, especially in a German deli. That is what is going on in the Portland area of Oregon.......gag the smoke is heavy and my eyes are burning this morn at 7 a.m.

    E
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,198
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Location:
    Finland
    Hello!

    Ok, I´ll keep the Finnish side up by telling of the first big battle of the winter war, which showed that we CAN fight the odds and keep the russians away from our country.

    To begin with: by the beginning of winter war we had 295 000 men in arms, 250 000 of which could be armed...We had 13 (!) tanks, 114 planes, and a few cannons from 1870´s. You really start to think now that winter war could not have happened! For the artillery it says we had as many rounds as the russians usually shot in one day against us.

    Russians: 450 000-500 000 men, 2000 tanks (modern ) and 1000 planes.

    Ok.Which side would you choose? Really?

    The battle I´m referring to is the victory at Raattee, where two russian divisions were circled and destroyed fully. Here´s what I found:

    One of the most famous early battles of the Winter War occurred at Suomussalmi during December, 1939. The Russian 44th Division advanced along the Raate Road from the south and the 163rd Russian Division advanced from Juntusranta from the North. They were supposed to link up at Suomussalmi and then head West across Finland to Oulu and cut the country in half. Russian troop strength totaled 48,000 men, 335 cannon, 100 tanks and 50 armored cars. The Finnish defenders reinforced from a few thousand now numbered 17,000 with 11 cannons under the command of Colonel Hjalmar Siilasvuo; his only hope was to defeat the Russians in detail. And he did.

    To slow down the 163rd in the north, Finnish ski troops made wide circling flanking movements of 20 to 30 miles under cover of the long night and caught the rear and middle parts of the column by surprise. They found Soviet soldiers huddled around fires in -40° weather easy prey to sub-machine gun fire and grenades. Almost any wound was fatal. As the 44th approached Suomussalmi down the Raate Road, they had to pass between Kuomasjärvi and Kuivasjärvi on a narrow isthmus. 350 Finns in hand-to-hand combat closed the isthmus. Trees were now felled across the road in front and behind with the 44th Division strung out along the road. The 163rd only six miles north engaged in desperate struggles to push the Finns west, but were stopped. Much of this fighting was hand to hand. After four days, both the 163rd and 44th were stopped dead in their tracks. Now Russians of the 163rd Division, after throwing their weapons away made an attempt to escape back to Russia. Two Finnish machine gun platoons and a guerrill a company helped them back to Russia.

    The 44th fared even worse. Trees blocked the roads which prevented movement. The frozen lakes around them were death traps. Any attack across the lakes were met with machine gun fire. The Russian dead were permitted lie frozen in the snow over the lakes until the thaw when their bodies sank to the bottom. Several attacks by the Finns further demoralized the Russians. Orders from the commanding general did not permit a fighting retreat. The 44th was out of food, freezing and had nowhere to go except to sit and be slaughtered at will. Of the 44,000 only 5000 made it back. The Finns captured intact 85 tanks, 437 trucks, 20 tractors, 10 motorcycles, 1620 horses, 92 artillery pieces, 78 anti-tank guns, and 13 anti-aircraft guns plus thousands of rifles, machine guns and a horde of ammunition. This was later used against the Russians in Karelia.

    In the Karelian isthmus, Russian units were isolated from each other into motti, "log piles." There, surrounded, they froze and starved to death by the thousands or died by rifle fire and wounds. However, the Russians continued to reinforce in the South and keep the pressure on the Finnish line.

    After winter war, after several fights like this, I read that there was a saying " Our lakes are full of dead russians ". Must admit it isn´t just a joke!

    In the end after 105 days of glory, as the winter war otherwise is known, 22 800 finish soldiers were dead, 43 600 wounded. According to various sources, there were 90 000-126 875 dead russians, over 200 000 wounded. The russians really didn´t want anybody to know the truth, and probably the real figures are still missing.

    If interested, check the site.It includes pictures of the pincer tactics we used and loads of stuff why the russians were not doing so well.

    www.winterwar.com/mainpage.htm
     
  9. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Thanks Kai, the site you provided was one of two great ones on Finland--the second one was more of an "after the battle" kind of thing. But this one was mose excellent.
     
  10. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    Seelow Heights is certainly a very important battle, in which the remains of the Wehrmacht, just a shadow of itself, stopped the Russians for a while. Even if they had a tremendous superiority. GO Gotthard Heinrici is also one of the three best deffensive genious of the Wehrmacht: GFM Walter Model, GFM Wilhelm von Leeb and GO Gotthard Heinrici. The quality of defence that Heinrici made was superb. He made his troops retreat and cheated the Russians making them think that his troops where still in place, and fortunately the 30.000 guns that Rokossovsky and Zhúkov could place, shot empty positions. Heinrici saved a lot of German lives.

    And about the Finns, they fought awesomelly in a tactic level. But as we all know, the USSR had the strategic advantage and therefore won. Althought the good finns showed that a purgued Red Army was a veru weak one. It was not until an experienced commander took command and used the tremendous power of the USSR that the war was decided; Simeon Timoschenko.
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,198
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Location:
    Finland
    Indeed as to destroyed tanks and killed men I must say that I´m overwhelmed by what germans did everywhere basically to the enemy. In Normandy the allied lost in one short period over 300 shermans which must be considered a major loss, and HJ kept the allied away from Caen for a month until its destruction.In the eastern front huge numbers of russian tanks were destroyed every day basically, and several King tiger commanders I think made a long list of kills until the end of the war. It must have been a crazy feeling if you destroyed 40 T 34´s and some 20 JS2`s and the russians would keep on coming. I think I read in one book that the ratio of everything killed or destroeyd between german and russian was 1:5, yet the russians won in every sector finally.Just shows you how endless the country is.

    I agree the Seelow heights was a great battle.One must admire the morale of the soldiers as the front didn´t collapse either, for the end result of the war was by now clear to every one. Secret weapons were not coming to save the country anymore.Unfortunately the tide had turned after Kursk and even huge efforts would only mean slowing down the red army.But it must have felt somewhat good after knowing they tricked the russians. Ha-haa, it works for me anyway, but we finns do get the hate for our eastern neighbour in our mother´s milk already!
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    Because what I have mentioned before. The strategy was already ruined, and that can go back until 1941... Forget about Stalingrad, Kursk, etc. WWII was lost in Kiev and Moscow in 1941.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,198
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Location:
    Finland
    Friedrich, you can´t stop there in 1941! I mean there are lots of delicious possibilites. For instance what do you think about the possibility I think Halder brought up, like, not attacking at all in 1942 but instead arming the troops with new weapons and tanks? NO change there, eh?
     
  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Kai :

    I think I am posting on the wrong thread but here goes anyway.

    1./JG 302 with Bf 109G-6 night fighters, based at Helsinki/Malmi from February 13, 44 to May 15, 44 as einsatzkommando Helsiniki (Jafü Ostland). To repel Soviet bomber attacks on the capital.
    Can you find anything about this unit since my sources are so brief ?

    E
     
  15. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    And let the Soviets counter attack in 1942?! Yeah...

    After Moscow, there was any posibility that the Wehrmacht would have been strong enough to win. The STRATEGY was ruined already and the casualties had been just TOO much. Beside, the German industry did not have the capability of supplying all the troops adequatelly. With strategy lost and some tactics very bad... Hahaha!
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,198
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Location:
    Finland
    After the massive losses of 1941-42 winter I do think it might have been a good possibility to strengthen the positions and arm with new weapons, especially the T34 question was serious. And if the russians would like to attack, I´m sure germans would have a nice trap for them,letting the soviets exhaust themselves.And 88´s would destroy all the tanks within 1.5 kms. And with Tiger later that year the defence would be very strong!

    Anyway the attack in 1942 started well but Hitler got too greedy, weak romanian flanks to protect the advance, and separating troops to attack to Stalingrad and Kaukasus. You might have as well sent the troops straight to Siberia instead of Stalingrad...
     
  17. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    49
    I agree in something, if we had remained defensive in 1942, the Soviets would have attacked and they would have had a HUGE "Mars" or Khárkov II and III, they would have fallen into an enormous trap. Attacking the Wehrmacht of 1942 was lethal. Imagine a Wehrmacht without Stalingrad and the Caucasus. It is a VERY strong one... But it did not have enough power to attack wherever and win. The opportunity was only in 1941.

    And Kai, just a suggestion. Do not stick into many tactic details. Consider the strategic details first. ;)

    And my dear crazy: Yes, those two Elephants do stink a lot. You know, those damned 88 mm guns and 200 mm armour stink a lot sometimes... :D
     
  18. AndyW

    AndyW Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    815
    Likes Received:
    1
    I agree with Moscow. After Moscow couldn't be captured, Todt urged Hitler for negotiating peace and Hitler admitted to Jodel that the war is lost.

    WRT Kiev, I don't know, it was no "mistake" in the strategical sense. It was just not possible to have both in 1941, but this is hindsight.

    I'd drop in Smolensk 1941 as the turning point of "Barbarossa". Stopped the German and consumed their most rare weapon - time.

    Cheers,
     
  19. AndyW

    AndyW Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    815
    Likes Received:
    1
    The OKW-study "Wehrmacht Power in Spring 1942" (6/6/42) concluded that a complete refreshment of the winter 1941 losses is not possible. AGS was at 50%, AGN and AGC at 35 % of their initial force. In May 41, there was still a lack in menpower of 625,000 men.

    To bring at least AGS up to 85% motorization, AGC and AGN were "de-motorized".

    In early April 1942, out of 162 German Divisions of the Ostheer, only 8 were considered to be "fully able for attack", 47 Divs were rated with "limited ability for attack", the rest "defense only".

    German Production:
    1941:3,800 tanks, 11,776 aircraft
    1942: 6,000 tanks, 15,490 a/c

    Soviet Production:
    1941: 6,540 tanks, 11,980 a/c
    1942: 24,446 tanks, 25,436 a/c

    Time was an Ally for the Russians and the Western Powers. The Germans knew "grand strategy" nd "rushed" to Moscow in late 1941 against all risks. Stopping at Winter with Russia being unfinished would turn the tide because of the industrial capacities and menpower resources of both USA/GB and Russia.

    Cheers,
     
  20. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,370
    Likes Received:
    30
    Good points, Andy. The issues of mechanization you raise are key- throughout ww2, the german army, despite reputations, had one of the lowest levels of mechanization of all the allied armies.

    I'd still maintain though that the war was not "lost" with the failure to capture moscow. I would tend to say a "major victory" against russia was essentially impossible after not taking moscow, but I do think the germans could have potentially used later operations to force the russians into a stalemate.

    One question, Andy- which battle on the eastern front do you think was the most under-appreciated? Smolensk? ;)
     

Share This Page