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For the motherland? Stalingrad.

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by tommy tater, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    We are not talking about tactical blunders....we are talking about tactical POLICY.

    It high time I gave you some research that wargame designers came up with in the seventies and eighties. Their audience wanted "realism", and they got it right on the chin. I see Prados quoted occassionally here, and he was a game designer before he rose to prominence as an author of military history.

    The article I propose to show you is by a designer called JOHN HILL...are you interested enough for me to sit here for the next four hours and laboriously type it all out for your benefit. It will give the principle reasons why the Soviets are considered to be so wasteful of human life for many of their engagements.

    Only if you are interested.....the research work done by John Hill was top notch, and many of the conclusions he came to were built into a game he designed called SQUAD LEADER. It became the largest selling tactical wargame of all time, and even though Avalon Hill are defunct, SL lives on as a premiuim example of history built into a game system that had more than enough research work to prove it's basic design philosophy.
     
  2. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Colonel David Glantz is the head of Slavic military studies in the American war college.
     
  3. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Time for you all to see exactly where I'm coming from. In the past, I've made many comments regarding Russian profligacy with human lives. This post will tell you why this is so, and why the experience at Stalingrad was, for Russian soldiers, both the same as other small unit actions they had fought, and DIFFERENT at the same time.

    These extracts are from the John Hill article "The Evolution of Small Unit Tactics", (The A.H. General, Vol 14 No.5, 1977). (Text shown exactly as it appeared in the magazine, blue words are those that have been italicized. Underlining is mine)

    PAGE 4, PARAGRAPH 9.

    "Over in Russia, things were somewhat simplified. Tactics were basically of two types; you either attacked or you defended. If you were defending, you simply stayed where your officer put you until the enemy was defeated, your officer ordered you elsewhere, or you were dead. On the attack, you charged, closed with the enemy, and killed him. Or you died trying. There was only one accepted excuse for failure, your death. Needless to say, this system does indeed explain to a large extent why the Russians had the highest casualty rate of any of the European participants.
    So, in summation, we might say that in regards to initiative, the Germans encouraged it, the West forgot it and the Russians condemned it."

    PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 17.

    " At this point in our discussion of infantry tactics, let's turn our attention to how Russia evolved her infantry in the same time span. It has already been noted that the Russian system was short on initiative and high on obedience. Nevertheless, there were other salient points that made them different.
    First of all, while German infantry leaders were constantly reminding their people to concentrate their fire on a narrow front, the Russian instructors were doing just the opposite. Their 1941-42 tactical doctrine was to attack on as broad a front as possible with the hope that somewhere, due to mass and the "odds", somebody would break through and cause discomfiture to the enemy, and since the infantry's objective is to close with and kill the enemy, it really does not matter "where" the breakthrough actually occurs, as long as it does occur. This was a complete contradiction to the Germanic thinking, which was very specific as to where they wanted things to happen.

    As an example of a Russian situation, consider:

    The commander of a three battalion rifle regiment normally would prepare for the attack by deploying in two waves, accompanying the second wave himself. Close artillery support would most likely be given in the form of SP guns that would accompany the 2nd echelon rather than using indirect called artillery. In a word, it was simple. After everything was "staged" the attack would begin. This was often started by the first wave crawling up as close as possible during the night before the attack. This "creeping" phase would continue until a pre-set time, or the German's discovery of them, or when some superior got impatient. At this point, the "assault" phase would begin. The regimental commander, with the second wave, often "ordered" the final charge by having his echelon "fire into the air" which would alert the first "creeping wave" that the assault was now to begin.
    At that signal, there would be rampant cheering and shouting to make sure everybody knew "this was it" and then the first wave would jump to their feet and make a mad charge for the German machine guns, firing and yelling as they went. Simultaneously, the second wave, with the regimental commander, would join in with their mad rush, hoping to reinforce any "success" of the first wave. Since the SP guns would be with this second wave, they would be available to "blast" any resistance the first wave uncovered. If tanks were available, infantry would often ride on them to increase the velocity of the assault and enable their soldiers to "close with the enemy." The Russians, once an attack did begin, were violent in it's execution and cherished the time factor as much as the Germans. Their opponents often commented that the Russian infantry was "slow to think of the attack, quick to do it, and slow to stop it."

    While the above method was very expensive in terms of lives, the Russians defended it's results, claiming that it was "most demoralizing" to their enemy. It was indeed very disheartening to the Germans to see the complete willingness of their enemy to attack in an endless array of people despite casualties. And since one of the best ways to defeat an enemy is to demoralize him, the attack method is thereby, a success, according to the Russian viewpoint. In all fairness, it should be noted that the "Russian" system was ideally suited both to the nature of their culture, and the numbers needed.

    Had they opted for a more sophisticated training system, they probably never would have had the time to totally re-build their army from the severe beating it took in 1941.

    But rebuild they did, and like any soldiers that survived, they learned. One weakness of the Germans in the earlier stages of the war was their failure to perfect principles of urban warfare. The reason was fairly obvious. Up to the war and throughout it's early stages, there was very little city fighting. The German victories were made by quick and decisive actions generated by "going around" cities and bypassing them. Hence, little effort was made to study this particular problem. Not that the Russians, or British, or Americans did, but once it became obvious that there would be heavy urban fighting, no one side really "had the jump" on the other. In late 1942, everybody started from scratch on this problem.
    And in the streets, the Russians were the equal of anybody.

    In urban fighting, the actual "combat range" is much less than in open country. Out on the steppes, it was quite common for the infantry, particularly the machine gun sections, to open the engagement at about 1,000 yards depending on visability: and as the combatants closed, the fighting usually settled in at about 200 to 400 yards for a firefight. At this range, the Germans, with their better weapons, were at a definate advantage. But in a city where the combat range was very often "across the street", the Russian weapons were equal. In the streets, the main weapons became the submachine gun and the grenade. In contrast to the echelon waves used by the Russians in the country, their urban attacks were based more on an "attack group" of up to 60 men that would literally blitz one single building from all directions, and the Russians became adept at turning any defensive building into a fortress. And when they weren't fortifying, or "blitzing" they would be constantly moving about: filtering through back alleys, crawling through sewers and darting along rooftops. It was a new "citified" concept of Fire & Manuever. In the early stages of the heavy fighting around Stalingrad, the Germans used to "blundering Russians" were very much punished by the cunning that these same Russians displayed in the city. At the outset, it was the Germans who found their infantry tactics, for the first time in the war, inferior to the enemy. The initial German reaction was to quickly bring in more and more of their best equipped and trained small units. These were the Pioneers (Assault Engineers) who treated each building as a bunker and went about reducing it with heavy infantry weapons and sophisticated equipment such as demolition charges and flamethrowers. It did work, but in the attrition process, the Germans were forced to "trade-off" their best specialists against the regular Russian peasant soldiers...

    And that was an expensive trade.

    But the commitment of these elite formations bought the time needed for the regular line units to learn the "urban trade". And by late 1943, the Germans were as adept at urban fighting as their Russian opponent. The Germans began fighting like the Russians with fire groups against individual buildings, but they also attempted to set up "killing zones" along the streets that paralleled the "target building". Here, their superb medium and heavy machine guns were ideal. The theory was that the battle-point would be isolated by preventing reinforcements from reaching the position. By setting up their machine gun fire lanes, they hoped to put a break on the constant Russian "flittering about". It was a good tactic, and many a Russian squad was cut down by accurate fire from a hidden position far down the street. The Russians countered by using sewer movement to an even greater degree, and setting up many and devious ways of getting from one building to another. And so the Russians and Germans taught eachother, and in the West, the Germans imparted their hard-earned urban techniques to the Western Allies with a vengeance." (End of extract)

    So, hopefully you can see why German infantry were so put out by the fighting at Stalingrad, referring to it as RATTENKREIG, and why diarists like Wilhelm Hoffman describe the Russians as "using gangster methods". The 62nd army still had the two echelon doctrine, but as the resources slowed to a trickle while the build-up for "Operation Uranus" was under way, they were forced into a quandary. Told by Stalin "not one step back", they responded with methods not seen on the steppe country, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Stalingrad was a profound shock to the German Army, and a magnificient example of peasant cunning from ordinary Russian soldiers.

    But, for all this, the "Human Wave" was still the standard method for assault, as it would be throughout the Great Patriotic War
     
  4. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Boatman,

    The question is not whether Soviets were profligte with human lives but whether human wave attack remains a standard part of their doctrine. No serious military historian with an academic or military training now agree with that assessment. In fact, few German generals agree with the characterization of the Red Army infantry as robotic automatons at the time. Ref. Max Simon's article about Russian infantrymen in the war--the Soviets were signifcanlty less apt in offensive operations than defensive ones but human-wave attack was after 1941 considered the sign of failed generalship in the Red Army.

    in regard to the callous attitude towards casaulties in the Red Army, the Soviets expended the most expendible resrouces they had as any military should and ought to in times of war. That there were structural deficiencies in their war-making system does not change the fact that generals inherit a situation from their predecessors and in war they must do what they could with what they had.
     
  5. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Not referring to Russian soldiers, individualy, as robotic automatons. What I am referring to is the very fact that initiative was discouraged, (condemned is the word in use).

    Further, explaining away the casualty rate as "most expendable resources" sort of proves my assumption, does it not?

    We know that, as individuals, Soviet soldiers were some of the most hardy, intelligent and tough men ever to put a uniform on. Able to go for long periods without the usual comforts provided to Western soldier. But, the nature of their regime simply threw these men into the fire, one after the other. They were given very few 'officially sanctioned" opportunities to demonstrate their individualism. Stalingrad was the first case that we know of the regime finally coming to the conclusion that the individual intelligence of their human resources was a thing to be "encouraged", not condemned. This attitude took a long time to die away, and was still around after the finish of the GPW.

    Trouble is, that it had cost so many people. This makes their "method" somewhat suspect, as not really being a method at all, but simply a device for CONTROL.

    The one aspect of this story that we have to THANK Stalin for is that any other regime/military force WOULD HAVE FLOWN APART AT THE SEAMS when confronted by something like Operation Barbarossa. It is a telling demonstration of the GRIP that Stalin had on the country that the people could continue to put up with this kind of 'method'. Modern Russians are still coming to terms with the fact, and so are we.

    Nobody, least of all myself, accuses individual Russians of 'robotism'. But I do accuse their officers and leaders of showing extreme indifference to their own casualty lists. No other regime would have gotten away with it. If the United States military fought a battle like KIEV 1941 and lost 500,000 (600,000?) prisoners, the public outrage would be sufficient that the government would FALL. It certainly happened that way to Chamberlain after the Norwegian fiasco.

    ONLY the Stalin regime could have gotten away with it, and covered it up after the war as so much "military necessity"

    Please don't confuse my admiration for the Red Army as individuals
     
  6. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Anyhow, give us a quote or two from your sources....this is a facinating discussion of itself, so a few sources would be appropriate. I don't have access to the same literature as you do, so it would be nice to hear from something else!

    No-one is suggesting that i won't take the time to read whatever you post. This is why I'm on the forum....to LEARN, and hopefully have some of my cherished illusions about WW2 scattered to the winds....


    Oh yeah....you can meet some interesting people along the way, as well!
     
  7. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Not on my work computer but I do have a copy of Max Simon's commentry on Red Army infantrymen at home. I strongly recommend you to buy a copy of David Glantz. He is an incredibly dense but highly analytical writer.

    The problem with initiative in the Red Army is that they had very few officers qualified to exercise initiative. They did not have the level of education comparable to Germany, Great Britain and the United States so decision making took place at a much higher level than junior officers. A seminal work On Infantry argued that in practice the basic tactical unit capable of independent action in the US Army during WWII was the battalion. The Wehrmacht was able to do this at the squad level in the best units. The Red Army had tremendously resilient and cunning soldiers and superb generals, but in my opinion it was encumbered by an emanciated middle management. They had primitive logistics, few radios, no engineering and inadequate pool of specialists and staff officers to pull off well-organized and flexible operations.

    The alternative to well-organized and flexible operations is to use extensive planning and apply ruthless discipline. For an example try Max Hasting's Armagaddon highlighted vividly the strengths and crippling weaknesses of the Red Army. The Vistula-Oder was a classic in mobile warfare but the Red Army assault waves crossed the Oder river practically without engineering equipment or rubber boats. What I am saying though is that the Red Army did what it does because they needed to compensate for structural weaknesses that they cannot cure.
     
  8. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Ta old fruit...but I do live in Darwin. Not exactly the be all to end all of selections for military books here. No credit card either (I hate the bloody things) so a purchase on E-bay is out.

    You guys have all the access to this good stuff in the U.S., England, Germany etc. Out here in the arse end of the world, the internet is ALL I've got.

    Anyhow, the sources are listed....i was hoping for a quote or two (sniff sniff)

    BTW...the last line of your last post struck me..."structural weaknesses they cannot cure". Another control measure? Did they WANT to reform? I think the hierarchy were quite happy with the staus quo as it existed.

    The Red Army of the late sixties to early seventies bore a lot of similarities to the Red Army that won the GPW. Victor Suvorov gave lectures to American officer candidates, postulating that in a three pronged assault, with one prong stalled and pinned down, one prong retreating with heavy casualties and one prong making ground, a Soviet commander in the seventies would STILL allocate ALL his reserves to the arm of the attack that was MOVING FORWARD, ( and bugger the fellows who were copping it!). His American students used to consistently allocate their reserves in dribs and drabs to help either arm of the attack that was in the poo. Suvorov was stressing "What would a SOVIET commander do? A SOVIET commander".

    Anyway, greetings from Darwin, and I have enjoyed talking on this thread greatly! Come on, the rest of you, this is a great topic all round!
     
  9. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Just a query here, on "human waves" and the timing in which they ceased.

    JULY 2009A television documentary about the Red Army's enormous death toll during World War II has drawn a fierce backlash in Russia, where the 'Great Patriotic War" has been viewed in recent decades as a time of noble sacrifice. The film, Rzhev: Marshal Zhukov's Unknown Battle, aired on Russian television in February. It tells the story of the little-known battles of Rzhev—a town on the upper Volga River—in 1942 and 1943, in which more than a million Soviet soldiers were killed. Along with battlefield reenactments, the film includes interviews with veterans on both sides, notably several German survivors who said the Red Army's human-wave attacks used Soviet troops as little more than 'cannon fodder."

    This depiction of Soviet tactics has infuriated many Russians, some of whom demanded the arrest of the film's narrator, Russian news anchor Alexei Pivovarov, calling him a traitor. Several high-ranking members of the Russian government have even called for a new law, based on Holocaust denial legislation in Germany, that would criminalize any reference to the Soviet Union not winning the war. Several legislators, with the support of the Russian prosecutor general, have agreed to present the idea to the Russian parliament this year.

    'It has become the fashion to smear the heroic deeds of the Soviet people and to defame the Soviet way of life," said Ivan Korbutov, a retired general who heads the Russian council of war veterans. 'Such actions, orchestrated at the behest of the West to discredit our glorious past, must be brought to court and the journalists responsible punished."

    Tensions have been flaring throughout Eastern Europe in recent years over some of the lingering grievances of the Second World War, but many outsiders are baffled by the furious response to the new documentary, which most observers consider to be fair and balanced.

    'The name Rzhev should resound in the consciousness of Russians in the same way that the Somme does for Britons," Adrian Blomfield, the Moscow correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, wrote in a recent issue of the Moscow News Weekly. 'This cataclysmic death toll was largely the result of Josef Stalin's disdain for the lives of his own men and of the atrocious bungling of Soviet commanders. Yet most Russians know little of the Rzhev battles because they have largely been airbrushed from official history."

    That airbrushing, it seems, is likely to continue.


    See:


    Film Spurs Russia to Squelch Criticism of Soviet War Tactics » HistoryNet
     
  10. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I might point out to all our Russian friends.....

    We are not "smearing" Russian involvement by wanting THE TRUTH.

    we acknowledge, as westerners, that ONLY the Soviet Union had the inner strength to ride with Barbarossa, like a reed with the tide, and then HIT BACK after casualties that would have SUNK a democracy.

    ONLY the Soviet Union could have achieved this.

    But, the truth of the matter is just as important. When your governemnt 'airbrushes' out the details, it cheapens the sacrifice of these masses of people. THEY WERE HEROS TOO, and deserve to be part of the story, not just people like Zaitsev that appeared in 'Pravda'.

    Those 'faceless' masses of people DESERVE A VOICE, rather than a consignment to the cutting floor of history.

    GIVE THESE HEROS A VOICE....

    They are as much a part of your history as the 'officially sanctioned' people.
     
  11. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    With the Nazi Germans versus the Soviet Russians, it's life or death and I think if it had been possible to fight in a different manner they would. I honestly think that what the Red Army did was the most effective way possible to exploit their own strengths.

    Huge quote from Max Simon coming up... do you want to see the part about Russian defense strengths first or their offensive weaknesses? Gen. Simon did believe that the Russian scheme of attack was ponderous and lacked subtlety, but IMHO the way he described it wasn't particularly different than how the Germans characterized American attacks on their line. Except Americans relied even more on heavy weapons to achieve the "desired effect". ;)
     
  12. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    ]IV. Russian Infantry In Offensive Action
    In the beginning of the Eastern campaign the Russian attacks were not to impressive, and showed little initiative on the part of the Russian Command. They were carried out methodically but cooperation with the heavy arms was inadequate and the lack of a flexible command was noticeable.
    Whenever such attacks struck our still intact good infantry regiments, which stubbornly contested every inch of ground in well prepared positions, and while our artillery was served by efficient forward observers, the Red Army gained practically no offensive successes.
    It was only after our infantry had been bled white in months of bitter fighting did the Soviet Army, employing numerically vastly superior forces in massed onslaughts, was able to gain victory over our forces, who, lacking even the most essential of winter clothing in the icy Russian winter and unable to dig themselves into the frozen ground, had to face ceaseless attacks by day and by night without support by our panzers, which had been rendered immobile and incapable of combat action owing to the masses of snow and to damage caused by frost.
    -17-
    A major Russian attack was usually preceded by artillery preparation lasting several hours and comparable to the concentrated artillery fire of World War I in France. Only well-entrenched troops could endure such
    a concentration of fire. The Russians generally used shells with percussion fuses; on frozen ground the spray effect of these shells was particularly dangerous. The artillery fire became especially effective if was directed by enemy agents behind our front.
    As soon as the artillery fire had been lifted, the infantry attack began; it was supported by tanks and snipers and, to an ever-increasing extent by close support combat planes. If our own infantry was still in fighting condition i.e., if it had survived the artillery fire concentration, it was still possible to repel the first attack wave, particularly if heavy infantry weapons were employed against the enemy flanks. In any case, it was important to separate the Russian infantry from the accompanying tanks, to which the Red infantrymen clung like bunches of grapes. Veteran German infantrymen paid little attention to the enemy tanks; they left it, to the antitank weapons and tank destroyer units to combat them and by their efficient fire (if possible flanking fire), they forced the Russian infantry to dig in. Usually the Russians tanks halted at this juncture and by their fire covered their own infantry, which dug in with lightning speed; occasionally however, the Russian tank advanced on the German positions in order to flatten them out.
    In the first case, the Russian tanks and constituted excellent targets for German tank destroyer units; in the second case, they were doomed if German panzers or antitank artillery fire were hand. In many instances,
    -18-
    the attack was stopped in this way.
    The less our artillery had suffered as a result of the enemy artillery preparation, the greater was our chance to repel the enemy attack, particularly if our infantry still had forward observers.
    If the Russians succeeded in penetrating our position, it was of the utmost importance to launch an immediate counterthrust. A small force of determined infantrymen , accompanied by panzers and supported by heavy arms, was usually sufficient to annihilate the forces who had effected the penetration before they had time to enlarge it, a task which the Russians were usually slow to undertake.
    If the Soviets failed in their first attack, a second, third, fourth, fifth and sometimes even further attacks were certain to follow at short notice, but during all my years of experience the repeat attacks did not depart a single time from the pattern of the first attack. The Russian officers’ lack of flexibility, which has been mentioned previously, was aggravated by the fact that they were always held personally responsible for failures, so that they were anxious to report the accomplishment of the assigned mission under which any circumstances. In this connection, I must point out that the Russians were not able to assigned enough trained radio operators to the combat units and probably will remain unable to do so for some time to come. As a result, the radio operators at the front line used only simple codes and we nearly always were able to intercept and decoder radio messages without any difficulty. Thus we obtained information quick information on the front situation, and frequently also on Russian intentions;
    -19-
    Sometimes I received such reports from our monitoring stations earlier than the situation of our own combat troops and was able to make my decisions accordingly. This is one of the weak spots in the Russian army, the importance of which must not be underestimated!
     
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  13. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    If the Soviet command fines that the intended offensive operations cannot be carried out in the above described manner, it employs the method of infiltration, i.e. it tries to get troops on notice behind the enemy line, a method which is in line with the general Bolshevist policy, which favors the use of underground channels. Political agents really at the same time military spies; like partisans and parachutists, they're equipped with radio sets. Once the Russian sector commander has discovered the week and thinly manned parts of the enemy front, these “infiltration parties”, which are led by trained agents, find their way behind the front. No water and no swamp is too deep for these infiltration parties and no forest too dense; for them to word “impossible” is nonexistent. It is widely known that during the last years of the war Soviets in German officer uniforms appear at the command posts in the east and passed on fictitious orders, thus creating considerable confusion.
    The only defense against “infiltration” is continuous and strict vigilance by all officers, and NCOs and enlisted men, at and behind the front. The front troops must be on guard against the enemy reconnaissance and shock troops, as often the sole mission of such troops is to prepare or to camouflage and infiltration.
    -20-
    The Russian command used to organize reconnaissance parties of considerable strength, varying from 30 to 50 men, which was necessary because of the characteristics of the Russian soldier. Although each reconnaissance party is led by efficient officers and accompanied by a sufficient number of public works, it is never less easily spotted and repulsed if the men at the front are watchful. In combating a reconnaissance party, care must be taken to prevent individual from separating from it in order to gradually penetrate one's own lines. These men hide in front of, within or behind the lines for several days and are reinforced gradually by men coming in a similar manner. Then suddenly they emerged at a given time in accordance with their orders and do considerable damage.

    How dangerous infiltration can become is demonstrated by a my own experience:

    In Feb 42, the German sixteenth Army was completely surrounded in the so-called Demjansk pocket, so that for several months its six divisions had to receive all supplies by air while two Russian attack Army's with a total of 30 to 40 divisions among them the “Guards’ Corps” which were employed here for the first time tried to smash the pocket; however, the German divisions held their ground. The vast swampy forest extends along the eastern bank of the Pola between the town of Demjansk and lake Ilmen; this area is impassable except during the severest part of winter, when the swamps are frozen. The swampy jungle was behind our front line. Toward the end of Feb 42, we observed planes cruising above the forest and giving flash signals. First, we thought of Russian Partisans, although we had not yet encountered any partisans in this area ( even subsequently we did not encounter partisans.)
    The unit adjacent to mine sent out a reconnaissance party that failed to return. On the following night I sent out a stronger party. This party returned intact but it had seen nobody, although a great number of recently extinguished campfires were found. During one of the following nights the leader of this reconnaissance party finally succeeded in spotting the hitherto invisible enemy and in drawing him from hiding. A village at the edge of the forest, which was occupied only by elements of a supply train unit, was attacked by enemy forces coming from the direction of the forest for three days and it was only after the employment of heavy weapons that the enemy was driven back into the woods. Fortunately, several PWs were taken and through the interrogation of these PWs, the situation was clarified. We discovered that for three weeks Russian parachutists on snowshoes had been infiltrating slowly at various points of the German front and had assembled in the vast forced . Our men had frequently seen snowshoe tracks in the morning, but had paid no attention to them, assuming that they had been left by our own troops. The red parachutists belonged to the Russian I and II Parachute Brigade; their strength was 5000 men and in addition to hand arms and machine guns they were equipped with mortars. Their commander was a lieutenant colonel. As the former adjutant of Marshal Trchaschewsky, who had been sentenced to death, he had been held in prison for several years, but now, as a parachute specialist, he had been given the following assignment: first to take the Demjansk airdrome, the heart of the German pocket, and
    -22-
    thereupon to smash the pocket in collaboration with forces attacking from the outside the parachutists remained quiet in the woods by lay-time, and received orders, food supplies and additional ants by night-time from the planes we had observed. The airdrome actually was attacked a few daps later. It had not been possible to attack the Russian brigade in the forest itself because we lacked the necessary strength for such an action, but the defense of the vital airdrome had been well prepared and the Russian attack was repulsed. Later on, the Russians inside the pocket, supported by forces attacking from the outside tried
    to break through toward the South, but we succeeded in annihilating them and captured the put the above-mentioned commander.
    Although this incident ended favorably for our side, it demonstrates how dangerous the situation can become if seemingly insignificant indications of Russian infiltration are not given due attention. In this case, it was the snowshoe tracks. In other cases it might be refugees, deserters, or something else. Vigilance is of vital importance!
     
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  14. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    The problem with using sources from the cold war is that they are entirely one sided.
     
  15. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    F
    Yes, I am familiar with this. Some claim this is just one man's opinion. I'm not debating whether or not they took place, they did. But they ocurred less and less with time and had cover from artillery or from the air. The Germans might very well consider this to be human waves as well...

    Yes, the Red Army used this more than other armies but in most cases occurred in the opening months. Red Army military doctrine was changing throughout the war. For this reason the "Ivan" of 43 looked very different from the one in 41'.
     
  16. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Actually, TriplC posted quite well....

    He is correct in assuming, as Sloniki does, that not all Red Army offensives after 1943 were conducted in the "steamroller fashion". I don't disput this for one second...

    What i do dispute is the very fact that this style of attack TOTALLY dissappeared after 1942. This attitude is NOT a product of "cold war sourcing".

    And, what was wrong with sourcing in the Cold War anyway? Historians, (the good ones), have no political agenda, so the Cold War and it's dissappearence means NIX.

    We don't need Soviet/Russian whitewashing. What we need is an honest evaluation of the truth.
    I for one, realise that Russian people are just like any other, and I also realise thast they were fighting a regime that more than resembled their own. This clash of the Titans could only have one winner, the side with the biggest battalions, as Napolean would have said.

    I am not disputing that Red Army tactical doctrine did not stay exactly the same, what i am disputing is the "airbrushing", that their doctrine became somehow different in the ENTIRE Soviet service virtually overnight. Just look at Prokhorovka and you will see the same old tactics....another poster quoted the Rzehv battle....the list goes on. The casualty figures prove it.

    It's up to Russians themselves to realise that they cannot keep 'tweaking' the historical record in the best Orwellian style forever.
     
  17. Iceberger

    Iceberger recruit

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    There's nothing wrong with human wave tactic given the circumstances under which the battle is fought. If the human wave is the most effective way to achieve objectives at a particular battle, why not? especially given the fact that not all sides are equal in terms of quality of troops, firepower and so on. I mean, back then, at times, in order for Red army to win, they had to work with what they had. They had men!

    To a certain degree, I'm sure all armies in wwII at one point or another used human wave. And there's no shame in Red army using it more than any other armies. They had advantage in the supplies of men, and they used to their advantage. The end result is it worked well for them.

    I have utmost respect for all men who fought in WWII. I don't care they are German, Russian, American. They, as soldiers, did they were asked to do.
     
  18. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I would beg to differ. "Human Waves" are the most wasteful form of attack known to man, and as previous posters have pointed out, are a product of BAD generalship.

    If all you can do in an attack is to set your people in ranks/files and send them forward with a great shout, then you haven't got the brains/organisation/training. Anybody can achieve this style of warfare without much training of any kind. It's symptomatic of an ABSENSE of tactical doctrine, and a profound lack of "care factor" for the lives of your own people..

    If you don't believe that these doctrinal attitudes lasted for the rest of the Great Patriotic War AND BEYOND, here is an extract from Viktor Suvorov's book "The Liberators", written in 1981. Viktor, an office cadet, is recieving an on the spot lecture on tactics in the 1980's, Soviet style....page 57-60

    "In spite of the growing flood of real offenders, drunks and hooligans, we had absolutely nothing to do and here we were sitting on a bench under the bare leafless willows. The Captain instructed us on the tactics of the German tank forces. After all, the passing out examinations were not very far off.
    'Tactics, brothers, are the most complicated subject on earth. But just tell our generals that tactics are more complicated than chess and they laugh their heads off, they simply don't believe it. But it's really no laughing matter. Chess is the crudest form, the most superficial model of a battle between two armies and the most primative armies at that. In all other respects, it's exactly like war. A King is helpless and lacks mobility but his loss signifies complete defeat. A King is the exact personification of a headquarters staff, cumbersome, and lacking in mobility-so just destroy them and it's checkmate. The Queen is the intelligence service, in the fullest sence of the word-an all powerful and invincible intelligence service, capable of acting independently and with lightning speed, and thwarting the enemy's plans. Knight, Bishop and Castle require no commentary. The likeness is very great, especially when it comes to the Cavalry. Think of the Battle of Borodino and the cavalry raid carried out by Uvarov and Platov on Napolean's rear. That was a 'knight's gambit' for you in both meaning and form. Just look at the map! The Russian cavalry niether fought nor charged, but simply appeared in the rear and that was that, but their appearence stopped Bonaparte from sending his 'Guard" into battle. And in many respects this one move decided both the battle and the whole destiny of Russia. And that was Knight's gambit for you.
    'A contemporary battle', continued the captain, 'is a thousand times more complicated than chess. If you want to model a small contemporary army on a chess board, the number of chess men with all kinds of different capabilities will have to be sharply increased. Somehow, you will need to designate tanks, anti-tank rockets, anti-tank artillery and artillery, pure and simple, an air force including fighters, low flying attack planes, strategic bombers, air transport and helicopters-you just can't list them all.....and all demand a united plan, a united strategy, and the closest possible co-ordination. Our misfortune, and the main difference between us and the Germans, consists in our habit of counting our bishops and pawns, with total disregard for their competant deployment. And you know, the Germans started the war against us with a paltry 3,000 tanks against our 18,000. Now, we propound many different versions, but we refuse to accept the main conclusion, which is that German tactics were much more flexible than ours. Mark my word-if something happens in the Near East, we will be smashed to smithereens; they won't give a damn for quantative and qualative superiority. What's the good of having three queens if you don't know how to play chess? And our advisors simply cannot play, and thats a fact. Look at the Head of Faculty, Colonel Soloukin, just back from Syria.....'
    'But how so?', I could not refrain from asking.
    The captain looked at me, and then slowly said; 'It's the system itself thats at fault.'
    The answer obviously did not fully satisfy us and so he added,
    'Firstly, our chiefs are appointed on the basis of their political qualifications, they don't know how the game is played or even wish to learn how to play itbut their idealogically well groomed. Secondly, our system demands the rendering of accounts, reports, and achievements. Upon this we stand! The reports which announced the destruction of thousands of German tanks and aircraft during the first days of the war were so phoney that the political leadership of the country changed to quoting territorial indices instead, as being more convincing. This gave birth to reports of the capture of towns and mountain tops and such like. But you just try playing chess without annihilating the enemy's army, but by capturing his territory, regardless of your own losses! What will happen? The same as happened to us during the war. We won only because we showed no pity for our millions of pawns. If our General Staff and military advisors take it into their heads to sieze Israeli territory instead of first annihilating their army, it will cost us very dear indeed. Of course, the Jews won't achieve checkmate, but the annihilation of Israel by our tactics will cost us dear. And it will be worst of all if, God forbid, we ever come up against China. In that case, our pawns won't help us at all because they have many more pawns at their disposal.'
    Here the captain spat angrily and kicked an empty tin can with the toe of his boot. The can rolled along the dark pathway under the feet of a well-oiled sapper who was making advances to a young girl. The silent struggle in the darkness apparently reminded the captain that we were still on patrol. He yawned and abruptly changed the subject.
    'Guards Officer Cadet Suvorov, your conclusions please about today's patrol duty. Quickly!'
    I was slightly taken aback.
    'A tank commander must instantly evaluate the situation. Well? Your conclusions?'
    Uh-h, we arrested many offenders....Uh-h, we have improved discipline....thanks to you...', I tried, awkwardly, to interlace the flattery.
    'You haven't a clue, Viktor, and you a future lieutenant, or don't you wan't to understand.....or else you are just plain cunning. Listen-but it's only between the two of us. In a fully planned economy, terror can also be a planned affair, i.e. absolutely idiotic and ineffective, this is the first point. Secondly, we have been working today according to the methods of the second-five year plan, that is to say, the methods of 1937 and 1938, the only difference being that we didn't actually arrest or shoot the offenders. Thirdly, if today the order were given to repeat the second five-year plan, then not only the 'organs' of State Security, but every armed man, even every ordinary Soviet citizen, would rush headlong to carry out this order: that is how we have been trained and we are ever ready. And fourthly....you and I too, Viktor, for that matter, are not insured against these bloody five-year plans.....we have absolutely no insurance.....If the order were given tomorrow, everything would start all over again-the Berias, the Yezkhov's, the NKVD etc......It's just that, for the present, we have a completely spineless General Secretary in charge....but only for a moment! But suppose he is replaced tomorrow?....What then? Okay, don't get upset, let's go....our tour of duty is over for today.'
    'Comrade captain, maybe after all we should drive off that sapper, otherwise he'll rape her, sure as eggs is eggs!'
    'Tomorrow she'll complain, that it was a soldier, and on our patrol route too', added my other comrade, hoping to give weight to my remark.
    'But this is still no concern of ours,' he smiled, and pointed to the luminous dial of his watch. We smiled too-the watch showed 0004 hours.

    Winning attitudes do not change. If it ain't broke in your own eyes, you don't fix it.
    The Soviet Military Services were still exhibiting attitudes in the 1980's that were virtual carbon copies of the inter-war and WW2 experience. Whether this has changed today or not, I don't know, but I do know that post 1942-1945, attitudes were certainly no different. There was no time to educate EVERYBODY....they had a war to fight and win....

    And thank Christ they DID win it.....
     
  19. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Not disputing that. The point is human-wave attacks was also viewed by STAVKA as bad generalship. There is a huge difference between concentrating numbers and human-wave attacks.

    Viktor Suvrov unfortunately is someone to be read with a tea spoon full of salt.
     
  20. olegbabich

    olegbabich Member

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    For a country with a Totalitarian Regime that send millions of its citizens to their death. Then hides behind their heroism, to ignore its failure to value and protect the life of people who were defending it is a shame.

    Soviet system not only falsify the human history of WW2 but rewrote it all together.

    On the other hand we can not ignore how Ivan, when lacking Anti Tank Weapons, took some Grenades, tied them together and charged German tanks- “For Mother Russia and Stalin”. If French had the same approach to fighting, history might have been very different.
     

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