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

Who was right, Rundstedt or Rommel?

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by PzJgr, May 6, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Wiking

    Wiking recruit

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Neither was right or wrong. Realistically, there was NOTHING the Germans could have done to stop the eventual success of a determined invasion. Seriously, neither men or panzers could ever battle the huge size and number of naval guns of Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers and rocket-firing ships. Think back to the invasion of Sicily and Anzio, when determined German counter-attacks were just about to throw large American forces back into the sea when the Americans were finally saved by heavy naval support fire, throwing panzers into the air as if they were pillows. Once the Allied troops were beyond the safety of concentrated naval power, who could possibly win against an enemy that can concentrate 1,000 heavy bombers to carve a path through your defenses? Think about several British/Canadian break-out attempts (operations Goodwind and Epsom) and the American operation Cobra, all in Normandy). What good does it do to stop the enemy face to face when they can just obliterate your forces over many square miles while you sit in your foxhole and watch helplessly? The only difference between the '44 Normandy invasion and the last Persian Gulf War is that the German soldier and units could actually recover from the immense hell of being bombarded by nearly a thousand heavy bombers and still put up a determined (and sometimes successful) defense. In reality, given that three-quarters of the German armed forces were fighting against the Soviets and significant forces were engaged in Italy, there is nothing the German soldier or commanders could have done to save France. With no appreciable air support, lack of reserves, armor and fuel; what could anyone really have done? One thing is clear, without the overwhelming air power the Allied forces enjoyed, they would not have gotten beyond the saftey that the naval armada afforded them. Had the Germans been lead by rational leaders and not fanatics, 1943 would have been a good time to broker a deal with the Western Allies. Unfortunately for the outnumbered German soldier in the field and the stoic German civilians being incinerated in their homes, their leadership would not consider such an option.
     
  2. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Who would you pick?:

    [​IMG]

    -Strong mobile defences in the inland
    -Weak defences on the beaches
    -Encirclement and destruction of the invading forces in a German Kesselschlacht.

    [​IMG]

    -Strong defence on the beaches
    -Not so strong mobile units as close as possible to the beaches
    -Immediate counterattack, to repell the invasion

    Hitler obviosuly took the worst of both plans:

    -Weak defences on the beaches
    -Not so strong mobile forces, not close of the beach

    I have always had the opinion that Von Runstedt's plan was far better than Rommel's. He was a better general, but a very conservative one. With an annihilation battle inland, fortification of beaches all over the place at a tremendous expense is not necessary, it doesn't matter where the invasion is going to be, you are going to destroy it inland i a battlefield chosen by yourself. Throwing them back at sea would be far cheaper for the ones who attack. Imagine five Omahas and a Panzer immediate counter attack. 10.000 Allied casualties and they could possibly try it again. But if you do what Von Runstedt said you give the Western Allies a Kiev. The master of annihilation battles could surround and destroy some 100.000 Allied troops or so. A price so bloody high that the Allies are not willing to afford.

    But in the circumstances of summer 1944 Rommel's strategy was the one to use. All mobile forces available were needed desperately in the East, you can't afford the luxury of playing an enormous Blitzkrieg and a Kesselschlacht in the West when the menace is at the other front. It would be a waste of resources, needed elsewhere. Beside, you cannot surround the Allied Army because of two things: 1, total enemy-air-supperiority, you can't move and 2, your mobile forces are not that mobile. First, they are not enough forces, second, they are not mostly regular units, but 2nd class... The only thing to do is to repell the invasion at the very beaches with an immediate counterattack. If the conditions would have been more favourable for the Germans, then of course Von Runstedt could give Ike and Monty what the 70-year-old field marshall knew how to do as well as any other... Just remember those 750.000 men in Kiev and 350.000 in Dunkirk... :rolleyes:
     
  3. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    *bump*
     
  4. dasreich

    dasreich Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2002
    Messages:
    580
    Likes Received:
    1
    Agreed, Friedrich.

    In 1944, letting the Allies inland is tantamount to suicide. Rommel was right; only an immediate and violent counter-attack combined with strong coastal defences could have any hope of sweeping the Allies back into the sea.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,950
    Likes Received:
    1,124
    Both tactics have their advantages and disadvantages. The reason why I would go for Rommel´s tactics would be the allied air power. You simply could not move troops in a manner you wished except for night time ( maybe ) and bigger operations would be impossible.They would be crushed in their tracks as soon as they were noticed.( Remember operation Luttich )

    In several books I had read that several infantry divisions were held in the area of Calais for quite a long time, probably up to two weeks, so I checked this part in the net.Anyway, in Normandy neither of these tactics were used as the main body of troops were held elsewhere. Maybe we should check it by its own how many men and when they were moved to Normandy or is it discussed earlier?

    --------
    Here´s some data that was "new" to me. I hope you find it interesting:

    "It was 4 pm on D-Day before Hitler at last approved the deployment of the two panzer divisions. Allied deception had been remarkably effective and because Hitler had been sleeping and was then slow to carry out any action, German power which could have spelled defeat for the invasion had been withheld. The rest of the armored reserve in France-five divisions-and the 19 divisions of the massive Fifteenth Army in the Pas de Calais, stood idle feeling that the main invasion was still to come. The next day, after word reached Hitler that German troops had found copies of U.S. operation orders indicating that the landing in Normandy constituted the main invasion, he ordered the panzer reserve into action, but Allied intelligence was ready for such an emergency. Through Ultra the Allied command learned of Hitler's orders, and through a compromised German agent known as Brutus, it sent a word that the American corps orders were a plant. The main invasion, Brutus reported, was still to come in the Pas de Calais. Hitler canceled his orders. "

    -------

    Brutus? The name is totally suited to the situation, I think!

    http://www.collegetermpapers.com/TermPapers/American_History/DDay_June_6_1944.shtml

    ---------

    The air campaign was designed not only to disrupt German anti-invasion preparations but also to serve as a deception operation. Two-thirds of the bombs were dropped outside the invasion area, in an attempt to persuade the enemy that the landings would be made northeast of the Seine--in particular, the Pas-de-Calais area, directly opposite Dover, England--rather than in Normandy.

    By spurious radio transmissions, the Allies created an entire phantom army, "based" in southeast England (opposite Pas-de-Calais) and alleged to be commanded by the American general George S. Patton. (Patton would later materialize on the Normandy battlefield to lead the armoured breakout into Brittany.) In addition, on the night of the invasion itself, airborne radar deception presented to German radar stations a "phantom" picture of an invasion fleet crossing the Channel narrows, while a radar blackout disguised the real transit to Normandy.

    Hitler, adjudicating in the dispute, worsened the situation by allotting some divisions to Rommel and some to Rundstedt, keeping others under his own command. The rest of Rommel's Army Group B was made up of the infantry divisions of the 7th Army (under Friedrich Dollmann) in Normandy and Brittany and by the 15th Army (under Hans von Salmuth) in Pas-de-Calais and eastward. The reserve tank forces, given the name Panzer Group West and commanded by Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg, came nominally under Rundstedt's direct command.

    From

    http://search.eb.com/normandy/week1/buildup.html

    ---------

    More examples of deception:

    In Operation North Pole, Dutch parachutist were let out over the north of France and then caught again by Giskes. Transmitters sending messages to London were also used so that the Germans would pick up false information on the forces' plans. ( Perrault 170)

    The purpose of Operation Titanic was to distract the Germans while airborne troops were coming down in France. Dummy uniformed paratroopers were dropped along with fireworks. Large quantities of 'window' were also dropped to confuse the German radar. It helped the Germans to think the Dummies were 20 times as large as they really were. (Ellis 152)

    Operation Taxable employed ships that were moving towards the Cap d'Antifar above le Havre. The Germans were confused as to the motivation for these ship movements and mistakenly thought that the Allies were waging a war in that part of France. (Ellis 153)

    In Operation ABC Control, 29 British Lancaster bombers lured German night hunters away from the gliders and troop transports that were over the real invasion area. The real invasion armada was concealed behind the most "intensive radar jamming operations yet attempted" in the war. (Ellis 155) The Allied troops used special radio jammers named 'mandrels.'

    In their bombing campaign against the Atlantic Wall, Allied bombers had seriously cripples German coastal radar systems, on which the Nazis relied. The Allies then blinded or bluffed the systems. Where the real invasion was taking place, the radar was prevented; in areas where no invasion was taking place, suggestions of an invasion were falsely broadcast. (Michie 152)

    For every installation attacked in the assault area, two were simultaneously attacked outside of it. This greatly increased the labors and the losses of Allied air forces during these days, but it will be clear that they achieved their purpose. (Perrault 103) For every bomb on Normandy, two were dropped on Pas-de-Calais. Rommel and Hitler thought that Normandy would be attacked, but that it would just be a diversion for the greater attack on Pas-de-Calais.

    http://cghs.dade.k12.fl.us/normandy/deception/normandy_deceptions.htm

    ---------

    Adolf Hitler clung to the mistaken belief that the Normandy landings were merely a diversion from the main Allied attack, which he thought was still to come at the Pas-de-Calais. Accordingly, Hitler refused until late July to allow Salmuth's infantry and armoured divisions to move west to help the beleaguered 7th Army defend Normandy against the Allied advance.

    http://search.eb.com/normandy/articles/Salmuth_Hans_von.html

    ;)
     
  6. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Indeed, my friends. As I said. Rommel was right. BUT, what if there would have been more Luftwaffe aeroplanes, men and fuel available? What if all Runstedt's forces would have been more quality? What if his forces would have been larger? Don't you think that it is better to destroy some eight or ten Allied divisions instead of 10.000 men?
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,950
    Likes Received:
    1,124
    Naturally, Friedrich, it would be better to give a big blow than a small blow to the enemy. And I still wonder what would have happened if ALL the forces were let to attack the Normany Beach heads...

    But at the time the Rommel plans seems like the best to me.

    From the old good book by Galland it is weird to read some figures that caused more trouble than the Allied bombing...It seems:

    " Die ersten und die letzten":

    " In the first eight months Milch could produce
    7 600 fighters, which was a quite outstanding achievement.HOWEVER the fighter production did not get the first place in production even under the constant threat of allied bombings. The bombers were No 1 in Hitler´s mind.

    Even with huge amounts of planes being produced we did not get as many to the front. This was because of the catastrophes in the fronts.The withdrawal tactics took a lot of material with it. The saying " emptying by plan " was only existing in the HQ meetings. In reality the areas were left in the last possible moment and by then saving the equipmetn was not anymore possible. The AGS in the eastern front alone had its fighter regiments´planes´renewed twice because of this tactics, and thus the reserves were lost for nothing.

    As well there came new sources to claim the new planes.The assault fighters had noticed that Fw 190 was suitable for them, and Goering wanted them to have the planes! We had enough!! Also the reconnaissance pilots oold that Me 109´s were best for them.So they got it.In France two sections of far reachhing bombers were created
    ( Reichweiten-Jabos ). Somebody had made good results by Fw 190 against boat targets in the English coast, and now the planes were equipped for targets in the Biskaya bay!
    All this was beautiful, but we would have needed those planes to protect the Germany.

    Later on during 1944 alone some 1300 Me 109´s and
    4 500 Fw 190´s were sent to be used as reconnaissance or assault planes."
    ------

    With all those planes directed towards defending the Reich or fighter activities...Totally stupid to think that the best way to answer ro the allied bombings was to attack English cities, or attacking the convoys as Germany itself was "European fortress without a roof " like Galland likes to think about it.
     
  8. JOL

    JOL Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not sure gentlemen, I think it is easy to say Rommel's plan had the best chance, when history shows Rundstedt's failed. But I still believe in a strong strategic reserve, ready to roll once the point of decision is determined.

    Rommel's plan is probably too much of a gamble for me if I'm Hitler, yes with the correct (read lucky) deployment my initial chances would be better, but probably to spread out to actually repel the invasion, then faced with feeding in Panzer division's piecemeal...ouch, not to appealing to me if I'm making the final decision.

    When an invasion begins, it becomes a matter of who can build up there forces faster, chances are the invader will overwhelm in the first wave, then it becomes a matter of who can get the strategic reserves there next. The Germans still had a chance to rope off the beachhead, away from the naval guns, leaving no elbow room for more Allied units, which was a real concern for the British. Under Rommel's plan the strategic reserve would be all over the map, what was on the scene would be subject to the largest naval armada ever assembled, nope, I still think Rundstedt's plan had the better chance, let them in far enough to get out of naval gun range, meet em with a large reserve.

    I guess what I'm saying that at the end of the day, there is no way I would have Panzer divisions deployed on static defence scattered from Brittany to Belgium, I'd wanna keep that trump card in my pocket. I still think the best chance would be to concentrate my reserves, contain the beachhead and reduce it, not defeat it on the beaches.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,950
    Likes Received:
    1,124
    With time and some new books to read I have come to new ideas:

    The whole German side of blocking the invasion was a chaos. Hitler gave some of the troops to be led by Rommel, some by Rundstedt and some were led by him.And the ones by Hitler stood at Calais for about one month waiting for the "actual" invasion...
    Must say, that we should not underestimate the allied secret service who did a great job making Hitler believe this, although Hitler was more than willing to do so...

    Anyway, both strategies have their good and bad sides. The naval gunnery and planes for Rommel´s and the assault planes for von Rundstedt´s. Trying to create one big "armoured fist" would not be long lasting. The Germans actually had quite minor losses when you think about the amount of planes in the air until "Typhoon day" and later on the "Operation Lutticc", where assault planes did create some havoc among tanks and other vehicles.

    So a question for you,LOL.How did you think to escape the assault plane attacks with no Luftwaffe around? Maybe you have a plan, I am not saying it is impossible but surely worth a thought! Otherwise your attack would melt down in two hours more or less after the allied reconnaissance planes spotted your tanks!

    Like said, in the real thing neither attack plan was the primary one, which must be considered as the first mistake. Hitler could not decide what to do so he decided to not to decide...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. JOL

    JOL Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree the German command structure was a mess at the beginning of Overlord, but I'm thinking more back at OKW where they are debating the merits of both plans prior to the invasion. I just think at the end of the day I would have voted for Rundstedt's plan, keeping the strategic reserve back, ready to deploy as opposed to deployed along the beaches (or near).

    Rommel's plan avoided the typhoons while in transit, but I think I would rather risk some interdiction, than string out my reserves.

    I understand your point about getting any large counterattack off the ground, any attack would most likely not get far from the form up points (assuming clear weather) I'm voting for Rundstedt's plan only if it is to rope off the invasion, recon forward, dig in, defend with attrition and counterattck when the weather is cooperating. But at the end of the day, I'm keeping a reserve ready, not stringing it over 2000? (OK, some Geography help is needed here) miles of beach.
     
  11. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks OL for brining this back up, i seem to have missed it.

    I would have to go against the consensous of opinion, and say Rundstedt.

    Its easy to back Rommel when you have the advantage of hindsight.

    But, there is a problem with it. To mass the armour enough to have an effect, the Germans would have had to have known exactly where the Allies were to land. Just assume Rommel had been alloewd to carry out his plan, and all the armour was massed near Normandy, then the Allies land at Calais. Also assing the armour like this, would have made it easier to destroy by Allied aircraft.

    The only other alternative would have been to spread the Divs to cover all the possable beaches.

    So, the Germans had to cover all the bases.

    So, the only two problems were 1), not realising the Panzers in time, and 2), an air force not able to provide the right amount of protection.
     
  12. Alejandro Espinosa

    Alejandro Espinosa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that Herr Generafeldmarschall Rommel was right. The time elapsed between the hour h of the d day and the Hitlers orders was more than crucial. If the german force had attacked the alied troops in the beaches in the first hours with al its power the Normandy invasion could be another Dieppe.
     
  13. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2002
    Messages:
    844
    Likes Received:
    2
    Like we all know Rommel said that if the Allies would get a grip on the beaches, the battle would be lost.

    He knew from his experiences in Africa that the Allied airforce was too strong to move panzerdivisions to the beaches.

    That's why I think that with good defences the allies might have been stopped. If Rommel would have had a little more time - 3 or 4 months - there would have been a lot more obstacles.

    With more bunkers, strong divisions to defend the beaches and obstacles on the beaches they could have stopped them or kill a lot of them.

    Just remember Omaha and you can think that it could happen on all the oter beaches as well.
     
  14. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2003
    Messages:
    350
    Likes Received:
    1
    Its not like the allies threw all they had into Normandy on D-Day:
    Canada put only the 3rd Division (although it was a rather large division)
    Britain I think had like 2 or 3, and same for the USA, Normandy on June 6th was repelled, those divisions could have escaped across the channel, then the RAF, USAAF, and RCAF could of seen those panzer divisions as sitting ducks, the airforce could have beaten the crap out of Normandy for a week, then the allies could just send back in troops to Normandy say the 15th?
    also
    Those elite units really were not the greatest, I mean the Canadian 3rd Division beat back the 12th SS, and they could not have sent those divisions to the Eastern Front, Who would be guarding the west if they did?
     
  15. Kampfgruppe - von Root

    Kampfgruppe - von Root Dishonorably Discharged

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    \

    Hmmmm. There is a little more to the history of the 12th SS than that. Those "kids" gave the Canadians & Brits all they could handle...while constantly being at the mercy of Allied air and naval gunfire.

    Anyways, back to the main question. As said by many, with the allies owning the air both plans were doomed. My opinion is ....If the biggest, baddest, guy on the block is coming to your house to kick your but....I'd rather fight em while he's getting out of his car...than have to fight em' after he's in my house.
    :cool: :D
     
  16. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2001
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    1
    Problem is, what if you don't know where he is going to park his car. You may be waiing to go out your front door, while he comes round the back.
     
  17. Kampfgruppe - von Root

    Kampfgruppe - von Root Dishonorably Discharged

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good Point Bish....that's the million dollar question..WHERE is he gonna show up at? I guess I hide in the bushes where I think he's gonna park.......and if I'm wrong..... I better use Plan B and make my way to where he's at.

    He who defends everything defends nothing

    Who said that? Anyone know?

    [ 30. January 2003, 05:49 PM: Message edited by: Kampfgruppe MR ]
     
  18. Peppy

    Peppy Idi Admin

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Messages:
    890
    Likes Received:
    57
    It was Frederick the Great, and Rommel was right, (as usual).
     
  19. JOL

    JOL Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was thinking of this quote when I originally posted, but couldn't quite remember it, Thanks.

    I like your analogy of the guy coming to beat you up, I'd wait in my house in territory unfamiliar to him, assess how many buddies he has brought and buy some time to make a plan.
     
  20. Kampfgruppe - von Root

    Kampfgruppe - von Root Dishonorably Discharged

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi JOL

    That's a good plan also...the bad part being your in a do or die situation....no chance of retreat. The fight is in "your" house..all the damage that is done is in "your" house....and basically you got a bunch of people in "your" house.

    Pretty good discussion on this....I like it [​IMG]

    [ 01. February 2003, 12:50 PM: Message edited by: Kampfgruppe MR ]
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page