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I'd like to understand the popular historical view of the Eastern Front


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#1 Jenisch

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:55 PM

Most historians say the Eastern Front was the decisive theater of WWII. According to them, without Soviet resistance, it would be difficult for the Western Allies to defeat Hitler's new empire.

Fair enough to say the Soviet Union played a decisive role in WWII. However, THE decisive role as well? Frankly, using their logic, I cannot see the Soviet Union necessarily in a much better situation in case Britain didn't resisted in 1940, for example. Germany and it's allies, would be free to muster much more force against the Soviets if they didn't had other enemies. Just putting in a narrow scope, we already can see some very relevant pro-Axis points in this scenario; like no naval blockade of Europe, no bombing and no Lend-Lease for the Soviets.

I would like that someone explain me why the Eastern Front is so much called "decisive". The German Army, the main figthing force of Germany, was certainly defeated in it's majority there. However, this don't change the fact the Soviets didn't achived and not necessarily would achive victory without their allies.

Edited by Jenisch, 19 March 2012 - 09:01 PM.


#2 OpanaPointer

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

The "Western Allies" would probably have had an extremely difficult time retaking western Europe if the Eastern Front had not existed.

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#3 Jenisch

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:17 PM

The "Western Allies" would probably have had an extremely difficult time retaking western Europe if the Eastern Front had not existed.


Certainly. And the Soviets equally could have had an extremely difficult time retaking their territories had the wars Germany and it's allies had with the West didn't existed. We can see this kind of thing from both sides, hence it was a world war. That's why I scartch my head when heard someone saying that "this" front was decisive.

Edited by Jenisch, 19 March 2012 - 09:27 PM.


#4 belasar

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:34 PM

Historians are people too, with all the same hang-ups we all do. Which include agendas. If you write a book on the eastern front and hope to market it then naturally it becomes 'the most important front'. No dispute that the German Army bled white in Russia, but so too Russia. Without western aid and lesser attrition affected by the western Allies, it is not inconceivable that Hitler and Stalin might not reach some agreement short of total victory.

For me each of the Great Powers played an equal and vital role in Hitler's eventual complete defeat.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

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#5 Jenisch

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:39 PM

That's what I also think, belasar.

Also, while it's much said the Soviets did most of the job against the German Army, we must not forget it was the US and Britain that managed to hold the contingents of Italy and Japan. Such foes were eager to participate in the war against Stalin once they completed their objectives - which of course they never managed thanks to the Western Allies.

#6 OpanaPointer

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:54 PM

Certainly. And the Soviets equally could have had an extremely difficult time retaking their territories had the wars Germany and it's allies had with the West didn't existed. We can see this kind of thing from both sides, hence it was a world war. That's why I scartch my head when heard someone saying that "this" front was decisive.

The Heer had 95 divisions strung from Norway to Greece. They had quite a bit more on the Ostfront.

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#7 TD-Tommy776

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:35 PM

Perhaps the historians are referring to Hitler falling for the classic blunder of getting involved in a land war in Asia. :cool:

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#8 LJAd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:40 AM

Would the Red Army parade at Unter den Linden without LL? Probably yes
Would the Red Army parade at Unter den Linden if the war in the west was finished in june 1940 ? Probably no
Would the Wallies parade at Unter den Linden if the SU remained neutral,or was defeated in the summer of 1941? Probably no
But,it is always probably.
Was the eastern front more important/decisive,because there were more German divisions on the Eastern Front/or that 80 % of the German losses happened at the Eastern Front ? No
Was Overlord more important than Bagration (or vice-versa) ? No
This only is the usual chauvenistic boasting.

#9 LJAd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:50 AM

The Heer had 95 divisions strung from Norway to Greece. They had quite a bit more on the Ostfront.

In june 1941,the Gemans had 208 divisions,of which 152 were committed for Barbarossa,and 56 strung from Norway to Greece.
Of course,counting divisions is dubious :the WM strength in june 1941 was 7.2 million,of which 3.3 million were committed for Barbarossa .Later,the WM strength was increasing,and the strength in the east was decreasing
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#10 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:51 AM

The popular historic view is correct. The decisisive periode was mid-41 to early 42. At that time the British war effort had little effect on Germany. Bomber Command was tiny and could barely hit a town size target, the continental industry was not even in a total war mode, the British ground forces posed no threat at all. Thus Germany was free to hit the USSR with ~150 divisions. Had the Russians collapsed, Germany would have suffered a mere fraction of the OTL casualties and gained access to vast resources. Thus the western Allies would have faced numerically stronger and much, much better German troops. Considering the PITA a single reserve division was on D-Day...Not a nice prospect.

#11 urqh

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:12 AM

Blood...Which after all...most wars are won on spilling until no more can be spilt or wants to be spilt.

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#12 scipio

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:46 AM

The decisisive periode was mid-41 to early 42.


You could quite as easily argue that the August\September period 1940 was the most decisive. If the Raf had buckled and Sealion succeeded, no Britain, no Balkans, no Greece, no North Africa and a lot more pressure on the USSR.

In my view what tends to be ignored is that WW2 was for the first time a three dimension war - and the Allies in the West won the battle of the Atlantic which was just as important to the ultimate victory as the Russian Campaign.

The problem is that it is just not as sexy talking about Uboats and Merchant ships as 100s of Divisions slogging it out in the heat and cold of the Steppes.

#13 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

You could quite as easily argue that the August\September period 1940 was the most decisive. If the Raf had buckled and Sealion succeeded, no Britain, no Balkans, no Greece, no North Africa and a lot more pressure on the USSR.

All right. Peace in the west would have helped the German war effort in the east a lot. I just remembered a very important western contribution to the war in the east. The very early Lend-Lease. The UK send Hurricanes, P-40s and ... tanks. Before one thinks that sending tanks to the USSR is like sending beer to Bavaria, the USSR was short of tanks at the time due to the relocation of the industry. The numbers might have been not as impressive as later but one tank in 1941/42 was worth more than several in 1943/44 because at that time defeat was no longer a posssibility.

#14 LJAd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:54 AM

About the sending of beer to Bavaria,or to Milwaukee(I have heard that they are producing in Milwaukee a brew that they are calling beer):
The first British tanks arrived in the SU on 28 october 1941 (on 25 november,the Germans had given up) and till 31 december 1941,461 LL tanks were sent ;how many would be at the front on 1 december ?From 28 october to 31 december =64 days =an average of 8 a day,that would be for 1 december 260 tanks arriving at Murmansk/Archangelsk,a lot of them were sent to the tank schools to train the crews,others still were in transit,of those that arrived,some had been lost in combat .I would be surprised if more than 130 were present at the front on 1 december .And,were there enough crews available for these tanks ?

Now,on the Soviet side on 22 june,they had 20000 tanks,and produced some 4600 between july 1941 and january 1942 (more than in the first half of 1941).They lost probably some 20000(although the German figures curiously are giving only 13000),whatever on 1 december 1941 (after Typhoon had failed),the Soviets had 1900 tanks on the front,and 4000 behind the front .
Thus,the number of LL tanks would be some 6% of the front total .


















And,after november 1941,defeat was very remote,even at light years .

Edited by LJAd, 20 March 2012 - 12:01 PM.


#15 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 12:22 PM

The Soviets were suffering shortages of tanks throughout 1942. To mitigate this, light tanks were put into production in car factories but the mediums could not be made there. Thus any Valentine or Matilda was very appreciated, especially the Valentine. It was liked for its great reliability. This was NOT a feature of the first many T-34. Most lost in 41 were lost to defects, not enemy fire. And you could put a 76mm gun into the Valentine.

#16 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:26 PM

Many people simply don't know the importance of the British naval blockade.

While not the best source, this article is a book about it: http://en.wikipedia....many_(1939–1945)

Hitler's Festunga Europe would be far more stronger had he was able to acquire the necessary raw materials to put it into full steam. Also, Hitler would be able to import the oil he so much lacked for his Luftwaffe and Panzer Divisions.

Frankly, if one analyze the war from the perspectives of both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, both needed each other. Hence they formed the Grand Alliance.

RE the Lend Lease: people need to considerate the importance of the Lend-Lease in not only what it was received and when, but also with projection. For example, the Soviets could have very well shut down the truck production in various plants to produce tanks knowing the Lend-Lease in a X time would fill the gap. This is a factor I hardly see people mention and deserves study.

Edited by Jenisch, 20 March 2012 - 01:32 PM.


#17 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 01:45 PM

Later,the WM strength was increasing,and the strength in the east was decreasing


And this includes the LW as well. Many people don't understand the relatively numerical small but critical importance of air power in modern wars. For instance, if the Luftwaffe was more stronger in Stalingrad, perhaps defeat would not occur.

And actually, this is not even in the air war only. In many ocasions, just a few thousand soldiers can be the difference between victory and a domino effect. That's why I don't underestimate the German strenght employed in the West.

Another thing hardly mentioned are the German Allies. It was thanks to the Western Allies the Italians were putting about a million men in the desert. The Italians, even without blockade, probably would not be able to put a million men deep into Russia due to logistical problems. However, if the war with the West didn't existed, things went wrong and Italy remained in the war, without doubt they would make Stalin's life a hell lot more difficult. Specially because they were starting to receive modern equipment as the war progressed, like the Fiat G-55 fighter.

About the casualities the German troops the Soviets removed from action, until January 1945 it was apparently 70%, as this article shows: So did the Red Army really singlehandedly defeat the Third Reich? « Stuff I Done Wrote – The Michael A. Charles Online Presence

Also, like the article states, it's hard to compare casualities in the East and West. While in no way I want to minimize the vast Soviet contribution, one cannot desconsiderate the fact that the German soldier, pilot or saliour had much more "love" to his life in Russia than in the West. So, the casualities figures are not always the best way to judge how efficient the Western Allies or the Soviets were.

Edited by Jenisch, 20 March 2012 - 02:05 PM.


#18 LJAd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:00 PM

Normally,I dislike LL discussions,because I suspect( no,I am sure) that sowhere there is a server who is informing the fanboys when there is a LL discussion,and,then ,they arrive,goose-steppingly,and befote I can type Llanwrtyd(which is a Welsh town) we will be discussing the 15 million boots and the Spam.
But,whatever:the following tank production figures are from the RKKA/Armchair site(link:production of AFV's) and my conclusion is that the Soviet tank production dwarfled the LL sendings:
second half of 1941 :4867 tanks,of which 1886 T34
first half of 1942:11177 tanks,of which 4414 T34
second half of 1942:13412 tanks (8247 T34)
first half of 1943:9834(7248 T34)
second half of 1943:10073(8462 T34)
first half of 1944:8058 (7273 T 34)
second half of 1944:8865(72165 T34)
first half of 1945:7835 (6080 T34)
the SP Guns:
second half of 1941 :101
1942:60
1943:4227
1944:12060
1945:8396
I also like to add that it is questionable to concentrate on aircraft and tanks,and to forget the most important weapon on the east front (and for the whole war):the artillery,and here,the importance of LL was even lower than for aircraft /tanks .
Last point :about the LW and Stalingrad :it is very clear that it was impossible for the LW to supply the encircled 6th Army .And,from what I have read,even without the encirclment,the position of the 6th Army was untenable :it could no more be supplied ,not even by the railways

#19 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:56 PM

Quoting Zhukov:

"Speaking about our readiness for war from the point of view of the economy and
economics, one cannot be silent about such a factor as the subsequent help from
the Allies. First of all, certainly, from the American side, because in that
respect the English helped us minimally. In an analysis of all facets of the
war, one must not leave this out of one's reckoning. We would have been in a
serious condition without American gunpowder, and could not have turned out the
quantity of ammunition which we needed. Without American `Studebekkers' [sic],
we could have dragged our artillery nowhere. Yes, in general, to a considerable
degree they provided ourfront transport. The output of special steel, necessary
for the most diverse necessities of war, were also connected to a series of
American deliveries."

Moreover, Zhukov underscored that `we entered war while still continuing to be a
backward country in an industrial sense in comparison with Germany. Simonov's
truthful recounting of these meetings with Zhukov, which took place in 1965 and
1966, are corraborated by the utterances of G. Zhukov, recorded as a result of
eavesdropping by security organs in 1963:
"It is now said that the Allies never helped us . . . However, one cannot deny
that the Americans gave us so much material, without which we could not have
formed our reserves and ***could not have continued the war*** . . . we had no
explosives and powder. There was none to equip rifle bullets. The Americans
actually came to our assistance with powder and explosives. And how much sheet
steel did they give us. We really could not have quickly put right our
production of tanks if the Americans had not helped with steel. And today it
seems as though we had all this ourselves in abundance."

There's not a concensus of how important the Lend-Lease was, since there are archives still closed. If, like those who point it wasn't decisive say, it would be simply a historical fact, not an opinion. What can happen is that, under the present information, people do their own interpretations, for being decisive or not.

Personally, I will wait a little in order to all the archives be avaliable in order to take a position. I would definately desconsiderate statements from people like Zhukov and even Stalin about the Lend-Lease.

#20 lwd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:59 PM

... I also like to add that it is questionable to concentrate on aircraft and tanks,and to forget the most important weapon on the east front (and for the whole war):the artillery,and here,the importance of LL was even lower than for aircraft /tanks ....

Only if you just count the barrels. Take into account the care and feeding of them and LL becomes a lot more significant.

IMO if Britain settles with Germany before Dec 41 the probability of a Soviet victory becomes very low. Indeed I wouldn't expect either the Nazi or Soviet regimes to still be in power by 1950. Without the Soviets a victory by the western allies is still very much in the cards although it may be negotiated rather than unconditional surrender.

Edited by lwd, 20 March 2012 - 05:09 PM.


#21 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:20 PM

By using all it's viable resources, Russia was probably able to hold it's own if totally alone against Hitler at least until 1942. But now considerating the war with the West existed, but not the Soviet Lend-Lease, the Western Allies would be ready to "help" Stalin by their crusade against Hitler by '42. Then, Stalin would be able to take the economy and the military forward like driving a car without oil to run from a muger. All he would need would be conserve strenght in order to be saved by the democracies (of course, this would likely not meant Eastern Europe under Soviet control, and the Soviet economy well broken). So, it's impossible to desconsiderate that actions in the West not changed the things in the East and vice versa (it was a global war, damn!)

Germany actually captured many most of the rich regions of the USSR (apart from oil), and this is were the Lend-Lease comes to be significant with the time, since the Soviets had RESERVES of raw materials and food, and they would not last forever. While Germany and it's Allies, without the naval blockade, other fronts, and able to maintein it's conquests, together with the superior German technology and training of it's military, would possibly be able to defeat Stalin with the time.

Other thing is that the Germans needed oil, and Stalin probably would set fire in the oil fields before they were captured. It would took months from them to put to work again, and the Anglo-Americans would be eager to bomb them after repaired. The US was capable of muster much more strenght against Hitler if necessary, and assume a defensive line in Japan. The US would still be capable of launch a decisive air war over Germany, in which Germany in fact commited most of it's fighter force and was defeated by a wide margin. And ultimately, the Americans had a nuclear edge over Hitler.

In the end, Hitler's life would be by no means easy. However, this was only because the joint Allied effort. Put the Soviets against Hitler alone, and things could had been much different. I also would like to let clear that I'm not saying what I wrote above would certainly happen. They were just some possibilities in my opinion.

Edited by Jenisch, 20 March 2012 - 06:10 PM.


#22 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:44 PM

And other thing about the Lend-Lease, is that even if it was critical to the Soviets, in case it didn't existed, it certainly would be used the other Allies, and it was a lot of stuff. So, it would be useful anyway.

#23 Markus Becker

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 06:58 PM

There's not a concensus of how important the Lend-Lease was, since there are archives still closed. If, like those who point it wasn't decisive say, it would be simply a historical fact, not an opinion. What can happen is that, under the present information, people do their own interpretations, for being decisive or not.

Personally, I will wait a little in order to all the archives be avaliable in order to take a position. I would definately desconsiderate statements from people like Zhukov and even Stalin about the Lend-Lease.



An army is as mobile as its least mobile elements. And what was the Red Army driving in 1944/45? Trucks and Jeeps made in the USA. They and they only allowed their armour to penetrate deep behind the front because they carried the infantry and supplies.

Ok, the USSR could have made more trucks but that would have meant less of something else.

#24 Jenisch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:11 PM

=Ok, the USSR could have made more trucks but that would have meant less of something else.


That's the point. And how much the Soviet system was able to previal in such away. And it would not be only trucks, it would be more planes, gunpoweder, food, etc.
I think the Soviets would likely still survive, however probably totally broken, but primarily because the Germans were fighting against the US and Britain. Not you Markus, but many people think the Western help for the Soviet Union was only the Lend-Lease, and therefore if the Lend-Lease wasn't decisive, then the Soviet Union was capable of defeat Germany alone. Which would be not necessarily the case.

#25 LJAd

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:12 PM

And who was carrying the supplies for the tanks,the trucks and the jeeps ?




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