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Was the German Army (Heer) really so superior?

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  • The Wehrmacht was very good at what it was designed to do, which was Blitzkrieg: a limited, mobile war using armour and mechanized infantry to penetrate and encircle an enemy, facilitated by close coordination with tactical airpower.

    The Wehrmacht performed brilliantly in campaigns where they could fight on their own terms. The wheels fell off in North Africa and the USSR because of geography and their failure to achieve a quick victory. They were exposed to a long-term war of attrition, something they were not equipped or intended for and inevitably lost. Fundamentally, this was not just the Wehrmacht's Achilles Heel. German thinking overall was tactical, not strategic. Hitler was a looter, up for a smash-and-grab and not any long-term scheme.

    Regards
    Scott Fraser
    Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

    A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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    • Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
      200,000 casualties including thousands of Allied tanks and planes in just 11 weeks shows that there was a lot of fighting.
      .
      Yes there was. 400,000 German casualties says the Allies got the better of it.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        As for the effects of airpower, I've been heavily promoting this book here, which has the original study of the impact of airpower. It concludes it was vastly over rated, with losses stated by pilots wildly exaggerated. It was often the excuse German commanders give for any tactical failures.
        Hmmm. I remain skeptical but as I haven't read it I'll reserve judgement until I do.

        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        Never said, nor implied such a thing. D-Day was a done deal, and the campaign was always going to be an Allied victory imo.
        I took the implication from the post I quoted of yours. Never mind. In any event I agree that the Germans never stood a chance. Where we disagree is that I think they still punched well above their weight. It took two Superpowers (which they both were by 1944), a waning but still powerful Empire, and a bunch of smaller countries to bring them down, and they didn't go down easily. Considering the numbers, the industrial might, the multi fronts and the internal unrest they had to deal with on one hand, and the often counter productive policies of the Nazi's, a war machine that wasn't suited for a long war, the complete failure of the intelligence services and the need to protect huge amounts of coastline on the other, it's a bloody marvel that they didn't completely collapse in 1943. I can only conclude that it was the German fighting man that allowed it to hold together for so long.

        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        Try to read about the N African campaign post 2nd Battle of El Alamein, much more interesting than the earlier period imo.
        I'll try, but no promises, eh?

        Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
        Hitler was a looter, up for a smash-and-grab and not any long-term scheme.
        That's a great line.
        Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

        That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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        • Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
          The Wehrmacht was very good at what it was designed to do, which was Blitzkrieg: a limited, mobile war using armour and mechanized infantry to penetrate and encircle an enemy, facilitated by close coordination with tactical airpower.

          The Wehrmacht performed brilliantly in campaigns where they could fight on their own terms. The wheels fell off in North Africa and the USSR because of geography and their failure to achieve a quick victory. They were exposed to a long-term war of attrition, something they were not equipped or intended for and inevitably lost. Fundamentally, this was not just the Wehrmacht's Achilles Heel. German thinking overall was tactical, not strategic. Hitler was a looter, up for a smash-and-grab and not any long-term scheme.

          Regards
          Scott Fraser
          That about sums it all up. Tea anyone?

          Ed
          The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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          • Originally posted by Gooner View Post
            Yes there was. 400,000 German casualties says the Allies got the better of it.
            By ignoring the reasons of which i explained why it was a success in the first place.

            Trying to defend an area from France to Norway against thousands of enemy troops which could invade anywhere at anytime would not of been an easy task. The Allies were getting information all the time of German troop movements from the French resistance and other such sources. Germany on the other hand didn't have no such luck as all of their agents in Britain had double crossed the Nazi regime by giving them false information.

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            • Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
              Let's not forget that German defences were concentrated in the wrong locations to begin with. The Allies spend months in launching deceptive operations that were aimed at confusing the Nazi regime on where the Allies were going to invade. The most prominent of German defences was at Pas-de-Calais. Many German troops were also still based all over the West and not just Normandy. Nearly all of the French road and railroad bridges were also destroyed before the arrival of Allied ground forces.
              And?

              So the Allies used deception to launch an attack at a point the Germans were not expecting, supported by intelligent use of airpower.....

              Sounds like superior military skills to me.

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              • Originally posted by dutched View Post
                That about sums it all up. Tea anyone?

                Ed
                Irish Coffee for me, thanks.
                Better make that a double...

                WHEW!
                "Why is the Rum gone?"

                -Captain Jack

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                • Originally posted by Aber View Post
                  And?

                  So the Allies used deception to launch an attack at a point the Germans were not expecting, supported by intelligent use of airpower.....

                  Sounds like superior military skills to me.
                  And it put the Heer at a disadvantage in terms of combat because it's troops were not placed in the most ideal defensive positions they could of been at, but they still managed to inflict over 200,000 casualties in just 11 weeks of fighting!

                  The topic is 'Was the German Army realy so superior'?

                  I would say they were not superior, but Germany had some of the toughest soldiers and Operation Overlord is proof of that because despite being caught by suprise and by overwhelming numbers, they still managed to put up fierce resistance!

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                    Speaking for myself, the N. Africa campaign has seemed relatively much less attractive to study. However, in more recent times I have started to develop a greater interest in the entire campaign. Like a number of subjects that initially appear rather 'dry', I think it can all be very interesting once you get into it.
                    I found it interesting what I have read so far in Siege of Tobruk Revisited the author seems to take a hard point of view on Rommel in his actions in the first skirmish during the surrounding of Tobruk where one of his Divisional Commanders was killed and the 1st major battle and the first defeat of German arms in the war also known as the Easter Battle the author believed that Rommel was in such a rush to take Tobruk and he didn't do any proper reconsence poor tactics and pretty much his field commanders did not have any up to date maps going into the battle so the author has basicaly painted Rommel as impatient and a below average General I found that very interesting.


                    Also in World At War by Mark Arnold Forster the author is scaving about the allies not pushing on earlier in the North African campaign and he believed this would of stopped the Germans getting involved but as events followed we have one of the greatest events in the war so thats history for you.
                    http://g.bf3stats.com/pc/1LP76r6C/melba_101.png

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                    • Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                      The Wehrmacht was very good at what it was designed to do, which was Blitzkrieg: a limited, mobile war using armour and mechanized infantry to penetrate and encircle an enemy, facilitated by close coordination with tactical airpower.

                      The Wehrmacht performed brilliantly in campaigns where they could fight on their own terms. The wheels fell off in North Africa and the USSR because of geography and their failure to achieve a quick victory. They were exposed to a long-term war of attrition, something they were not equipped or intended for and inevitably lost. Fundamentally, this was not just the Wehrmacht's Achilles Heel. German thinking overall was tactical, not strategic. Hitler was a looter, up for a smash-and-grab and not any long-term scheme.

                      Regards
                      Scott Fraser
                      no, no, NO!!!!

                      Scott, you are clearly showing some of that anti-German bias. The Heer was quite simply the bestest army of all, no qualifications. The Allies only won by cheating - the refused to lose when they should have. Had they understood just how good the Heer was then perhaps they would have surrendered as they should have. By insisting on fighting a long, modern war rather than a war of dashing campaigns they clearly cheated the Heer out of the victory it so obviously deserved. You historians, what do you know!!

                      (I would have repped you, but apparently it is too soon since last time )
                      Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
                        By ignoring the reasons of which i explained why it was a success in the first place.

                        Trying to defend an area from France to Norway against thousands of enemy troops which could invade anywhere at anytime would not of been an easy task. The Allies were getting information all the time of German troop movements from the French resistance and other such sources. Germany on the other hand didn't have no such luck as all of their agents in Britain had double crossed the Nazi regime by giving them false information.
                        You have to give it to the British they knew how to feed false information to the enemy take the landing in Sicily where the Royal Navy had lead the Germans to Believe the Ally's would Invade Greece. At 4:30 AM 30th April HM Submarine Seraph Surfaced briefly in the middle of a fleet of Spanish Fishing boats off Huelva and launched into the water the body of a man wearing a life jacket and carrying papers. The papers said he was Major Martin of the Royal Marines. He also carried letters, There was one from his bank manager another from his tailor and a rather moving letter from his Fiance'e. He also carried letters from the Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff General Nye to General Alexander which implemented a plan to invade Greece this forced the Germans to send a full Panzer Division to Greece now thats good counter intellegence
                        http://g.bf3stats.com/pc/1LP76r6C/melba_101.png

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                        • I guess the technical aspects are lost on a lot of people.

                          It's also strange how Germany being better prepared for war is seen as some sort of sin.

                          Superiority.... from a warrior's standpoint, is simply being better at winning Battles. So, why did they have such a formidable reputation for doing that as late as Market-Garden and Hungary?

                          1- Germany had a unique approach of their Officer Corps. In their General Staff, what a man knew was more important than who he knew.
                          A unique organization in human history, on that basis alone.

                          2- while other nations were toying with the idea of mechanized war, the Germans were serious about applying it. They didn't just build tanks, they also had Self-Propelled Artillery, SP AA guns, assault guns, armored recovery vehicles, Command tanks, APCs and semi-tracked vehicles to tow the artillery.
                          Nobody was so well equipped to exploit the mobility of massed tank formations, and the Allies spent the war playing catch-up with all the innovations found in the Panzer Divisions.

                          3- The ranks trusted each other, no small thing in a life & death situation.

                          Let the Barracks lawyers have fun with that.
                          "Why is the Rum gone?"

                          -Captain Jack

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            I guess the technical aspects are lost on a lot of people.

                            It's also strange how Germany being better prepared for war is seen as some sort of sin.
                            They were better prepared in 39, but not really due to kit. Marching your armies through other peoples countries, and without actually having to fight them, allows them to hone all those skills that make an army more effective.

                            The Heer never really had a decisive edge in any area of combat concerning kit at any time of the war. And yes I do include the MG42 and MP44 in that catorgary, as well as Tigers and Panthers and 88mm's and Nebelwerfers and......et al.......

                            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            Superiority.... from a warrior's standpoint, is simply being better at winning Battles. So, why did they have such a formidable reputation for doing that as late as Market-Garden and Hungary?
                            I'm not sure they did from 42/3. If the Germans were considered so formidable the Paras would never have been dropped at Arnhem. In addition, the main reason for the Paras failure at MG was supply. A rifleman is no good without any bullets. As for Hungary, I've never heard of the Red Army units thinking the enemy was any better than their own troops.

                            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            1- Germany had a unique approach of their Officer Corps. In their General Staff, what a man knew was more important than who he knew.
                            A unique organization in human history, on that basis alone.
                            I'm not sure how true that really is. Certainly Red Army officer promotions was very results, especially after the early defeats. In addition, contrary to what many believe, Red Army officers, regardless of rank, could be tried for losing too many men in an encounter.

                            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            2- while other nations were toying with the idea of mechanized war, the Germans were serious about applying it. They didn't just build tanks, they also had Self-Propelled Artillery, SP AA guns, assault guns, armored recovery vehicles, Command tanks, APCs and semi-tracked vehicles to tow the artillery.
                            Nobody was so well equipped to exploit the mobility of massed tank formations, and the Allies spent the war playing catch-up with all the innovations found in the Panzer Divisions.
                            This I'm in agreement with you. They came up with new ideas when they were limited to kit, and further new ideas when they weren't. I reckon the British were up to 10 years or so behind the Germans at times, and didn't begin to catch up until 42 onwards in most respects. However, by 44 they had overtaken them in several key areas, as had other nations.

                            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            3- The ranks trusted each other, no small thing in a life & death situation.
                            I don't believe that was any more true of the Heer than any other army.

                            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                            Let the Barracks lawyers have fun with that.
                            I'm sure they will .

                            All imo, and willing to stand corrected as usual.
                            How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                            Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                            • Short answer. Yes :P

                              I could probably come up with some highly elaborate explanation of why.. But i'm too tired.

                              Suffice to say that when the wehrmacht was finally cracked, the opposing armies had been bled white themselves and wern't in much condition to fight any greater fights. (at least that is what i know) So it can't exactly have been amateur fight night.
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                              • Originally posted by Aber View Post
                                And?

                                So the Allies used deception to launch an attack at a point the Germans were not expecting, supported by intelligent use of airpower.....

                                Sounds like superior military skills to me.
                                What has always amazed me is the fact that there were hundreds of ships and landing craft in the channel on the night of June 5th, OBVIOUSLY not heading for the Calais area as the Germans apparently expected and yet apart from a scuffle with an E boat on one occasion they were blissfully unaware of what was heading towards Normandy until it was to bl***y late!! lcm1
                                'By Horse by Tram'.


                                I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                                " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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