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When would average German soldier have known war was lost?

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#1 SPGunner

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 01:36 AM

When would a typical German soldier been aware that the war was lost? The Germans must have received some news of the setbacks on the Eastern Front, North Africa, Italy, Sicily, and finally Normandy from the news. Also, soldiers would receive some news from other soldiers in different units.

#2 Wolfy

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 04:47 AM

From what I've read it seems to have varied a great deal due to the effectiveness of German propaganda. Stalingrad was the first real blow to German morale, but it was rather marginal compared to later ones. I get the impression that it was mainly Staff officers and high ranked German officers (and other individuals involved and educated in military strategy) that believed the war to be lost.

Even in 1944, many of the German troops (and even many experienced East Front commanders) that were occupying France believed that they could take out the Normandy landings with ease.

German soldiers that served in North Africa generally believed differently..Ie. Rommel was impressed by Allied firepower and he knew that the Allies had high capability.

The biggest blow to German morale was when Normandy and Bagration succeeded and German forces were pushed back from all fronts. The final blow to German morale (when all front line soldiers knew that the war was lost) was when the German Ardennes offensive failed.

In the last five months of the War, it was mainly only Nazi maniacs and fools that believed that Germany could win WW2.

#3 C.Evans

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 04:54 AM

Put it this way, both some Germans and many Japanese-knew their war would not end favoribly for their side-and thought so in at least as early as sometime in 1941. I've talked with several German vets who admitted to me that they felt they were going to lose the war when they invaded Russia. I've never talked with any WWII Japanese Vets but it's well known that Admiral Yamamoto said something after the sneak attack on Pearl-something like: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping Giant." I know these words are not exact but Yamamoto said something to that effect.

I've always had respect for Japanese Commanders who were well in touch with reality-such as Admiral Yamamoto, General Sendai, General Kawaguchi, (SP?) Suburo Sakai (SP?) (famed Ace) and a couple of others.

Edited by C.Evans, 11 July 2009 - 05:30 AM.

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#4 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 05:18 AM

Many North African / Afrika Korps Soldiers realized it when they were shipped to POW camps in the Western US. I remember reading one soldier's experiance with this trip and his being absolutely stunned crossing the US. He was riding in a regular passenger car like the rest of the POW's and watched factories, farms, towns, motor cars on roads, everywhere pass by for days as the train crossed the US.
It was beyond his experiance that a nation could be so large and so rich. He realized then and there Germany was defeated.
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#5 C.Evans

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 05:34 AM

Many North African / Afrika Korps Soldiers realized it when they were shipped to POW camps in the Western US. I remember reading one soldier's experiance with this trip and his being absolutely stunned crossing the US. He was riding in a regular passenger car like the rest of the POW's and watched factories, farms, towns, motor cars on roads, everywhere pass by for days as the train crossed the US.
It was beyond his experiance that a nation could be so large and so rich. He realized then and there Germany was defeated.


Have you ever read: The Faustball (Volleyball) Tunnel? It's an excellent account of Germans in PW camps in Arizona. I don't remember the camps name but I think Uboat ace Friedrich Guggenberger???????? was there as well as another Uboat ace/RKT. Can't think of his name at the mo. Anyway, a group of KM PW escaped throuth the "Faustball Tunnel." All were quickly or fairly quickly recaptured. Anyway, the remarks that some of them made correcpond with what you say above.
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#6 Skipper

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 07:55 AM

I agree the 1942/43 Battles were the turn for many of them. Some as early as 1941 when Russia was attacked. Others realized the war was lost on D-Day. By 1944 very few were still believing they would win, even if it was out of the question to speak about publicly if you did not knwow what your neigbour's opinion was. Some die hard Nazis were still hoping to win the war in 1945......
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#7 Wolfy

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 08:01 AM

I remember reading that Nazi SS General Kurt Meyer (12.SS Panzer division) claimed that the Allies were "little fish" once they had landed. He even claimed that he'll throw them into the sea in a few days with a counterattack by his Panzer regiment.

Edited by Wolfy, 11 July 2009 - 10:18 AM.


#8 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 03:02 PM

Have you ever read: The Faustball (Volleyball) Tunnel? It's an excellent account of Germans in PW camps in Arizona. I don't remember the camps name but I think Uboat ace Friedrich Guggenberger???????? was there as well as another Uboat ace/RKT. Can't think of his name at the mo. Anyway, a group of KM PW escaped throuth the "Faustball Tunnel." All were quickly or fairly quickly recaptured. Anyway, the remarks that some of them made correcpond with what you say above.


That was the camp at what is today Papago Park in Phoenix. There were like 7 that escaped and were out for about a week or so. Most recognized that there was zero chance of their getting to anywhere held by Germany so they surrendered. A couple were captured. One of the original POW barracks was up for sale a couple of years ago. Today, Papago Park is home to the Arizona National Guard.

#9 Franek

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 03:51 PM

I think that it was right after the Battle Of The Bulge.Hitler gambled and lost. He filled his ranks with old men and young boys,along with foreign conscripts. There were still a lot of veterans in there that continued to fight though. They lost their best Armor and supplies. A lot of Germans surrendered. But there were still loyal hold outs.

I remember a incident on the road back in January 1945. As they retreated there was some resistance, and some heavy. It was no rout. On this day we Americans were in pursuit, when we ran into heavy enemy fire.. They stopped us cold.. We could make no headway, until one of our tanks came up and blew them away. Upon moving forward we found one machine gun nest along with about a dozen other men dead.

We had over 200 men, and this small group held us up for hours. The German was a good soldier.
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#10 C.Evans

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 04:03 PM

That was the camp at what is today Papago Park in Phoenix. There were like 7 that escaped and were out for about a week or so. Most recognized that there was zero chance of their getting to anywhere held by Germany so they surrendered. A couple were captured. One of the original POW barracks was up for sale a couple of years ago. Today, Papago Park is home to the Arizona National Guard.


Hi TA, that's the one. Thanks for mentioning it's name ;-)) I am glad to hear that the place is somewhat preserved. I had always wondered what became of it after the war.
Lost are only those, who abandon themselves) Hans-Ulrich Rudel.
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#11 C.Evans

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 04:09 PM

I think that it was right after the Battle Of The Bulge.Hitler gambled and lost. He filled his ranks with old men and young boys,along with foreign conscripts. There were still a lot of veterans in there that continued to fight though. They lost their best Armor and supplies. A lot of Germans surrendered. But there were still loyal hold outs.

I remember a incident on the road back in January 1945. As they retreated there was some resistance, and some heavy. It was no rout. On this day we Americans were in pursuit, when we ran into heavy enemy fire.. They stopped us cold.. We could make no headway, until one of our tanks came up and blew them away. Upon moving forward we found one machine gun nest along with about a dozen other men dead.

We had over 200 men, and this small group held us up for hours. The German was a good soldier.



Greetings Franek, this reminds me of a story my ex-roommate Bill-who was in the Army for about 14 years most as a Sergeant-told me the story behnd the one item his Father (A WWII Army Vet) had told him which was the story behind the one item he took as a momento of the war-which was a single photograph he took off a young German sodier he had killed.

This photo showed the same pillbox that his Tank Destroyer had just destroyed taking 13 prisoners-not one of them were over the age of 17, and apparently all had just previously been in the Hitler Youth. On the back of this photo, Bills Father wrote a simple note which stated something like: "On this date (whatever it was and was in early 45) we lost three men killed and several wounded-taking a pillbox away from 13 boys."

I don't have easy access to this photo but, if I can get Bill to make a copy of it sometime? he will let me post it here.
Lost are only those, who abandon themselves) Hans-Ulrich Rudel.
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#12 Kruska

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 04:12 PM

As C. Evans already correctly formulated:

The average German citizen and common soldier had a bad feeling when Hitler attacked Russia - simply due to the vastness of Russia.

The breakdown of moral and critically doubting the proclaimed Endsieg was around the Arnhem date.

As for the Normandy landing, I for my part believe that the allies were incredibly lucky - that the OKW would ignore (unaware of the massive preperations weeks or at least day's before the landings), that Hitler would obstruct all possibilities for immediate countermeasures was not to be forseen - neither by the allies nor on the Wehrmachtpart.

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#13 PzJgr

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 12:16 AM

I recall reading in my grandfather's journal where he asked himself the question, (paraphrasing) How can we fight if we spend all our time hiding in the shrubs ducking the allied fighter bombers?

It seems that the comparison between the eastern front and western front was night and day. In his case, it would be the landing of the allies in Normandy.
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#14 Kato1945

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 04:55 AM

Even in 1944, many of the German troops (and even many experienced East Front commanders) that were occupying France believed that they could take out the Normandy landings with ease.


Didn't Hitler himself believe the Normandy landings were just a diversion for a larger scale invasion later on?
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#15 Cowboybob

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 02:29 AM

Didn't Hitler himself believe the Normandy landings were just a diversion for a larger scale invasion later on?



Yes this is correct,It was codenamed Operation Bodyguard

to sum operation bodyguard up,it was the allied deception plan made to think German High Command that the invation would take place in the Balkans or the South of France.

The Allies used other such operations such as Operation Fortitude North Which had the goal of leading the GErmans in thinking they would land in Norway.Followed shortly by Operation Fortitude South with the objective of landing in Pas de Calais.

In other words Allied CNC made the Normandy Landing look like a Faint,to mislead the German Command to keep it's key Panzer units in the rear for so long as to give the landing troops in Normandy time to set it's beachhead up.
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#16 JagdtigerI

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 02:33 AM

Yes this is correct,It was codenamed Operation Bodyguard

to sum operation bodyguard up,it was the allied deception plan made to think German High Command that the invation would take place in the Balkans or the South of France.

The Allies used other such operations such as Operation Fortitude North Which had the goal of leading the GErmans in thinking they would land in Norway.Followed shortly by Operation Fortitude South with the objective of landing in Pas de Calais.

In other words Allied CNC made the Normandy Landing look like a Faint,to mislead the German Command to keep it's key Panzer units in the rear for so long as to give the landing troops in Normandy time to set it's beachhead up.


Welcome to the forum Cowboybob, good post.
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#17 marc780

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 04:23 PM

When would a typical German soldier been aware that the war was lost? The Germans must have received some news of the setbacks on the Eastern Front, North Africa, Italy, Sicily, and finally Normandy from the news. Also, soldiers would receive some news from other soldiers in different units.


For some of them, the answer might have been never! Any talk about defeat was strongly discouraged as it was considered "defeatist", so if a man had such thoughts of defeat or surrender he usually kept them to himself! Rumor mongering and defeatist talk were frequently punished by sending the offender to a disciplinary battalion (they did all the most dangerous jobs such as mine clearing and were also punished heavily in other ways) or sometimes even a firing squad, or a noose.

Towards the end of the war Hitler used to SS to try to maintain iron discipline in the German ranks, anyone found stealing or looting German supplies, or acting like they were going to surrender or leave their post without permission, could be shot on the spot by an SS officer. So not only did defeatist talk tend not to spread there was plenty to fear from your own side not to mention from the enemy!

In The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer, which takes place on the eastern front in the army group Center and south area of operations around Kharkov area, there seems not to have been much talk about defeat or surrender even when the situation was desperate. Sajer's friend Hals at one point made some bitter comment about their constant retreating, at which time the unit commander, a Hauptman Wesreidau, replied with a warning that "if i did not know you better, Gefreiter Hals, i would be forced to assign you to a disciplinary battalion."

Sajer himself talks little about the possibility of defeat and seems not to have given it much thought. The interesting (but completely erroneous)
consensus among his unit was that if the situation became really desperate,"...the Wehrmacht would simply be pulled back to Germany and reorganized, so that no enemy could enter Germany itself."!.
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#18 C.Evans

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 05:12 PM

Yes this is correct,It was codenamed Operation Bodyguard

to sum operation bodyguard up,it was the allied deception plan made to think German High Command that the invation would take place in the Balkans or the South of France.

The Allies used other such operations such as Operation Fortitude North Which had the goal of leading the GErmans in thinking they would land in Norway.Followed shortly by Operation Fortitude South with the objective of landing in Pas de Calais.

In other words Allied CNC made the Normandy Landing look like a Faint,to mislead the German Command to keep it's key Panzer units in the rear for so long as to give the landing troops in Normandy time to set it's beachhead up.


Glad to see someone from my favorite region of Texas. Welcome to the site.
Lost are only those, who abandon themselves) Hans-Ulrich Rudel.
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#19 Sloniksp

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 08:04 PM

Constantly loosing ground and moving in the opposite direction for weeks at a time, could not have been motivating..... by mid 43 and especially after Kursk, I would imagine that many Wehrmacht soldiers began to suspect the worst.
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#20 urqh

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 03:12 PM

I dont know, but if I was sitting in a foxhole or on a mess deck, or even a radar station and I picked up me ersatz kafe and put me feet up to read the Daily Berliner and top bold headline read....Allies demand unconditional surrender...I think the sound of me cofffee being spurted out of my mouth would have drawn some attention and made me think hard as to why...

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#21 Erich

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 05:09 PM

you would need to interview at length the common Landser and Offizier plus the theater they served in. it will depend on this gents.

although deemed almost ridiculous on the Ost from by late 44 the Wehrmacht did not give up even in Berlin and the little know Ost Preußia
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#22 Kruska

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 06:23 PM

Who said that the war was lost - or who said Germany lost the war:eek:

Germany's Leadership decided to give in, so as to spare the lives of millions of allied soldiers and civillians, they could have burned down entire France and shot every civillian.......


This proclamation was recorded at an NAZI rightwing meeting in Leipzig/Germany a year ago. - some didn't get it until today :rolleyes:

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#23 macker33

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 06:59 PM

Dont think there would have been an instant where he would realised it,more of a gradual sea change beginning at the first russian winter and the failure to take moscow.
Probably like a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger.
Stalingrad and el alamein might well have been the point of no return for some.
Normandy and the destruction of army group center and its all hands to the pump.
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#24 brndirt1

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 07:12 PM

Dont think there would have been an instant where he would realised it,more of a gradual sea change beginning at the first russian winter and the failure to take moscow.
Probably like a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger.
Stalingrad and el alamein might well have been the point of no return for some.
Normandy and the destruction of army group center and its all hands to the pump.


And surely by the time they find themselves fighting on the east of the Rhine, and that malignant dwarf Goebbels even publically extolling the "honor" of defending the historic western border of Germanic peoples over the radio.

By then all but the most fanatic Nazis must have realized, promised wonder weapons or no, the "die was cast". Or in Goering's words; "the jig was up." Of course Goering said that when he saw Mustangs escorting bombers over Berlin, but you know what I meant (I hope).
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#25 John Dudek

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 12:53 AM

I read the story of one German officer, who knew that Germany had lost the war after a local German counterattack in Normandy was successful in his sector and his unit managed to reach the position of an abandoned Allied artillery battery, only to find artillery shells stacked in long rows four feet high, like some odd looking fence. As his orderly handed him an opened can of captured C-Rations, the officer shook his head and clucked his tongue, saying that "The entire German Army doesn't have that many artillery shells in all of Normandy and this single battery has enough shells stored here for an entire army." He knew then that the jig was up.




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