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So how good was the Werhmacht in 1943/44

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Stonewall phpbb3, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Stonewall phpbb3

    Stonewall phpbb3 New Member

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    Theory 1)

    Uber soldat.. a natural ability to march in order... superior weapons, 10 years to prepare..experienced


    Theroy 2) Badly out numbered, in the 32nd call up, mixed weapons, old men with no training, no gas, no supply


    http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/ww ... er11b.aspx
     
  2. Quillin

    Quillin New Member

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    I go for theory 3 that lies between 1 and 2
    Uber soldat with superior weapons, somewhere between highly experienced (elite formations like Waffen SS) and the call ups that starting to get less training to speed up their deployement at the front.
    Highly outnumbered, especially at the eastern Front with more and more troops deployed in the rear to put a halt to the increasing amount of activity by resistance groups.
    It has very good weapons but production is slow and the bombing of the Reich ain't helping to rapidly increase those numbers.
    It supply system is still very good since allied planes aren't busy with shooting up trains, however that will change very rapidly once we get closer to 1944 (the railway bombing plan, prior to Overlord)
    Gas, still no problem, the tanks can still keep on rolling.

    conclusion => the german army is still a collossal fighting machine and a though nut to crack that might have a change of still winning but that change deminish after the succesfull invasion of Normandy.
     
  3. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    There's two developments working simultaneously in this period. On the one hand, the grind of war is really starting to tell on the German resources and manpower reserves; they are forced to recruit "children and old men", forced to commit large amounts of effort to anti-partisan warfare and the replacement of ever more staggering losses especially in the East. On the other hand, the Germans are finally getting their war industry into gear and manage to shift their nation and economy to total mobilization; production of new, more modern weapons soars, synthetic fuel is used to make up for the lack of oil, and the downfall of the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe make large numbers of ground personnel available for other duties.

    The combination of these developments, I think, leads to the mythical image of the German √úbersoldat. When the German armed forces should have been rapidly crumbling, they were in fact replacing their losses with a sustained flow of troops and equipment, and while the quality of the troops was definitely deteriorating, the equipment was getting better rapidly, and both troops and materiel were used to replenish units with a highly experienced and battle-tested core of veterans.
     
  4. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    And the Luftwaffe troops in particular proved very able.
     
  5. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

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    The Fallschirmjager were to be respected as tenacious, elite troops.

    After watching the conclusion of Ken Burns' THE WAR last night, I have to say the Nisei (Japanese-Americans) of the 100/442nd were likely a match for any force that saw battle during the war.

    These courageous troops' actions resulted in 21 Medal of Honor recipients, and their casualties were stated as 314%. Clearly they knew no fear. It was stated in the documentary last night that when the 442nd learned of the death of FDR, they rose out of their foxholes and began attacking the enemy spontaneously.
    Their commanding-officer recieved a call from Battalion Cmdr shouting "What the hell is going on up there? We gave no orders to attack!" The officer replied there wasn't anything he could do to stop them as their blood was-up. This story was shared by Senator Daniel Inouye... a MOH recipient himself.
    I'm sure glad these guys were on our side.

    Tim
     
  6. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    This is true, and a very interesting fact, since there doesn't seem to be an objective reason why Luftwaffe ground personnel would serve well as infantry. When they started to fill up the gaps in FJ units, these divisions generally stayed true to their reputation of being tough and reliable, even though at the end of the war not a single man left in the FJ divisions had ever made a combat jump.

    In these cases, once again, an important reason for unexpected German resilience is the fact that the practically untrained and inexperienced Luftwaffe ground crew were sent to the front as part of units forged around a core of veteran officers and NCOs. Even though neither of the two Fallschirmjäger divisions in the Ardennes were anywhere near the standard of early-war German FJ troops, they proved themselves to be some of the toughest infantry formations still at the disposal of German commanders.
     
  7. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    I have just finished reading 'Defeat in the West' by Milton Shulman - he suggests that the good performance of the Luftwaffe troops was because they had not yet suffered the same 'several months of continual defeat & retreat' that the Wehrmacht soldiers had, plus they were all young, fit and still quite fanatical, particularly compared to the men who were filling in the gaps in army formations.
     
  8. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    I read once that the Kriegsmarine troops had some difficulty adjusting to infantry warfare, largely due to their lack of training.
     
  9. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    The 62nd Volksgrenadier Division, composed of former Kriegsmarine personnel, performed admirably during the Ardennes offensive. Together with the 18th Volksgrenadier Division (made up of Luftwaffe ground personnel) they encircled and destroyed two regiments of the American 106th Infantry Division.
     
  10. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Unfortunately these awards are tainted by politics since they were all (except one) awarded by one president (Clinton) more than 50 years after the events. It is nearly impossible to determine now, so long afterwards and with so many of the participants dead, whether these awards were truly justified or a token political act by former president Clinton.
     
  11. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Those two regiments were destroyed because their division commander did not withdraw them, due largely to a failure in communications. According to Charles B. MacDonald's excellent book, "A Time For Trumpets", the CO of the 106th was talking on the phone to his corps commander, asking him if he could withdraw the two regiments. An Army telephone operator needed the circuit to patch through another call, so he disconnected the two, put the call through, and then reconnected them; it only took a moment. During the brief interruption, which neither man was aware of at the time, the corps commander said the regiments could be withdrawn at the division commander's discretion, if he thought it was necessary. But the latter didn't hear that part; he heard his corps commander say that he preferred that the regiments remain where they were and took that as his final orders. Disaster, of course, ensued.
     
  12. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    That is the reason why they were encircled, not why they were destroyed. An American infantry regiment is hardly helpless when entrenched in a defensible position, even if their supply has been cut off.
     
  13. Revere

    Revere New Member

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    I think it was the largest American surrender in the western front.
     
  14. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Even if they run out of ammunition?
     
  15. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Naturally not. However, many divisions all along the front opened by the Germans on December 16th 1944 made head-on assaults in order to dislodge American units or to attrition them into retreat. By encircling the two regiments of the 106th Infantry Division, the 18th and 62nd Volksgrenadier minimized their own casualties while giving the Americans no choice but to surrender. They did this in the face of American counterattacks organized to relieve the 106th, too. I would say this is a pretty decent combat operation for a division that is supposed to have recieved almost no training for ground warfare. Hence my comment.

    By the way, according to Hugh M. Cole's work on the Ardennes Offensive, the order to withdraw was never issued (communication error or not); Middleton left the decision to the commander of the 106th.
     
  16. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    That was where the misunderstanding occured; Alan Jones, CO of the 106th, thought Middleton had told him to leave the two regiments up there, thanks to the telephone interruption.
     
  17. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    As I understood it, no telephone interruption was involved and Middleton deliberately did not issue any order, so as to leave it to the divisional commander to make the decision he judged best.
     
  18. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Well, Mr. MacDonald said that there was. Such is life.
     
  19. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Nay, it's never so easy! :grin:

    It should be possible to find some other sources that report on this particular matter, so that we can crossreference, but I have none at hand right now. I'll concede the point, since it's just a sidetrack of our main disagreement anyway...

    My point was quite simply that Kriegsmarine troops were not by definition helpless when required to fight as infantry. I reckon there must be other examples as well (89th Volksgrenadier was Kriegsmarine as well if I remember correctly).
     
  20. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Have you read "A Time For Trumpets", Roel? MacDonald listed the divisions on both sides that were involved in the battle and rated them. And it is, IMHO, an excellent work. He himself participated in the battle, BTW. :wink:

    I was under the impression that the Kriegsmarine troops had not been given as much infantry training as they should have been, due to the time constraints caused by the date of the German offensive's launching. Of course, it has been awhile since I read anything about the Ardennes battle, so I might be mistaken.
     

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