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Was the German Army (Heer) really so superior?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
    I voted 3 and 4 because I think the first part of 3 and the second part of 4 most closely presents my opinion. lcm1
    I completely agree.
    A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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    • #17
      Went with 4.

      Early in the war the German army possessed a core of extremely professional officers and NCOs who made expansion after 1935 much less painful. The German reliance on lower level initiative gave them an advantage over their early opponents and their use of manoeuvre was superior as well. The Germans placed the majority of their fighting 'load' on a relatively small portion of the army, the motor/mech elements.

      This is qualified by the fact that Poles, Belgians French and British, armed at various levels with modern kit but universally ill-prepared for manoeuvre warfare, consisted of largely ill-trained reservists expected to fight the best Germans formations from static linear positions of insufficient depth. The outcome should come as a surprise to no one.

      Post 1942 the Germans succeeded in handing the opposition some tactical reverses on every front thanks again to the personal initiative allowed the lower grade officers and NCOs. However, defensive depth had again increased to permit the absorption of the attack and the Germans were able to take advantage of the inherent strength of the defence over attack not available to their earlier opponents. Unfortunately, just like the armies they atacked early in the war, the German army never had an answer, except locally, to the superior mobility of the Allied and Red Army ripostes 1943 and later. As the quality of the replacements declined so too did the Germans ability to win even tactically (very similar to the British, French Soviets and Poles early in the war.
      The Purist

      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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      • #18
        I have not studied the topic of the Heer's proficiency in any depth so I am reserving my vote until I can clear up a few things.

        Can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)

        Certainly tactically they seemed to have an edge early on. However, I have read accounts that later in the war Commonwealth troops were able to anticipate German moves due to a certain amount of doctrinal inflexibility. There is an allied advance, they set up for the "inevitable" German counterattack, repulse it and advance against a now disorganized German resistance. Simplified but certainly presented in my reading. Is it true?

        Operationally the Heer seemed quite strong throughout the war. Able to put troops and resources where they felt they needed them to achieve goals at about the divisional/army level?

        Strategically I think they were hopeless. Some of that can be laid at the political leadership, but the General Staff must take the blame for faulty logistics planning, flawed intelligence analysis (or did they simply not seek it?), and the assumption that tactical and operational success would translate into strategic victory (although that seemed to work early on: Battle of France for example?).
        Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
          I know that my direct contact with the Heer was in the latter half of the war and many say that they were not at their best by then but in my opinion the infantry were extremely stubborn and hard to move if they did not want to give ground and in many cases of them actually moving out it was often out of sheer neccessity (lack of supplies etc As I have demonstrated before I always had a very high opinion of their artillary and I was not a voice in the wilderness by any means. The gun crews were fast and their accuracy was quite high without very much 'groping around' when first opening up. lcm1
          Well said LCM1, as a direct veteran who was at the business end of things, you should get 2 votes


          I voted only for option 4. I bounced between 3 and 4; it would have been 3 but the Germans had too many crippling losses..ie..Stalingrad, Bagration, Africa, Falaise Gap.... to really merit option 3. That said, while the failures of the big campaigns like Stalingrad, Bagration, Africa, and the Falaise Gap could realistically be placed, not on the doorstep of the Heer High Command, but instead on Hitler himself; it did cost them over a million experienced troops in all. And that goes to my arguement below.

          At the risk of being labeled nazi fanboi by some...

          Pound for pound on average, I believe that the Heer was better; for pretty much all of the war, than were their opponents. Sure the Heer was a mixed bag of good and bad, just like any other Army, but I think you were less inclined to run into the lower end of the mixed bag with the Heer.

          Direct combat experience tells with a fighting force; and in my opinion the Heer was the most experienced, followed by the UK, USSR, and the USA. Every Army understood that you needed to provide an experienced cadre to give backbone to a newly raised and inexperienced unit. I think though, that the Germans did this best.

          My reasoning behind this is that:

          1. The entire German Army was engaged in fighting everywhere all of the time. In the early campagns and battles the German troops were highly trained, and losses were not that heavy. They had a larger number of experienced troops to form the cadre of new units than did the Allies. Even at the end when the Germans were raising Volksturm/Volksgrenadier units of very poorly trained troops (kids and old men) they still gave them a large cadre of experienced NCO's and Officers.

          2. The UK, like Germany was fighting the whole time also, and who had a highly trained Military too; had to raise an Army almost from scratch as theirs was so small at the beginning of the war. The majority of their combat veterans were needed desperatly for the fighting in Africa, and therefore they had fewer experienced troops available to build new units around.

          3. The USSR had almost their entire experienced troop force wiped out, and had to rebuild their entire Army 2 to 3 times over in the bloodbath that best describes the fighting of 41 and 42. (A feat that I am not so sure the Western Allies could have managed, but that is for a different thread) So their Army was almost predominantly inexperienced troops fresh out of training for the first 3 years.

          4. And the USA, the least experienced. As they did not even get into the war until basically 42, and then had only a small percentage of troops engaged before late 43 to mid 44. Had almost no experienced troops to form new units around.

          Just looking at the sheer numbers of casualties on each front, the Germans did lose fewer men, tanks, and air craft than the Allies did.
          Therefore, I see no other way to explain how a country of 80 million with a 6 million man Army could hold off a combined force of over 500 million with over 20 million under arms for so long? With the UK, USA, and USSR all fighting the Germans on what amounts to a 3 or even 4 front war. The German Army was out manned, out gunned, and their industry was out produced....They were beaten yes, by sheer numbers, yes... but, out fought, no I do not believe so.

          Cheers,
          Deter

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          • #20
            Originally posted by deterrumeversor View Post
            Therefore, I see no other way to explain how a country of 80 million with a 6 million man Army could hold off a combined force of over 500 million with over 20 million under arms for so long? With the UK, USA, and USSR all fighting the Germans on what amounts to a 3 or even 4 front war.
            Italy.........
            Finland.......
            Rumania.....
            Hungary....
            Bulgaria.....


            Japan and the Allied 2nd front in the far east/pacific............

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            • #21
              IMHO,saying that the entire experienced Soviet forces were wiped out in 1941,is not demonstrating a good knowledge of the subject :why would the 1941 Soviet forces be experienced? Most of them had been called up in 1940/1941,even in the spring of 1941,there was a big shortage of manpower and officers:half a million of reservists had been called up .

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              • #22
                Maybe,those who are claiming that the Heer was better,could also explain why it was defeated ?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by m kenny View Post
                  Italy.........
                  Finland.......
                  Rumania.....
                  Hungary....
                  Bulgaria.....


                  Japan and the Allied 2nd front in the far east/pacific............
                  Besides Finland, the other Axis European partners didn't put forth a decent Army and Japan was in the pacific so didn't help the Germans with any fighting against the Soviets. Italy was also more of a burdon in which the Wehrmacht had to bail them out a couple of time, especially in Greece.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
                    Besides Finland, the other Axis European partners didn't put forth a decent Army
                    Wow.

                    Epic fail.
                    www.histours.ru

                    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
                      Besides Finland, the other Axis European partners didn't put forth a decent Army and Japan was in the pacific so didn't help the Germans with any fighting against the Soviets. Italy was also more of a burdon in which the Wehrmacht had to bail them out a couple of time, especially in Greece.
                      Not true. Romania, Hungary and Italy all proved to be useful on the Eastern Front. They did very well considering the sad state of their equipment. Had Germany been able to provide them with more German gear things at Stalingrad could have been very different.
                      A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Bravo Zero View Post
                        Besides Finland, the other Axis European partners didn't put forth a decent Army and Japan was in the pacific so didn't help the Germans with any fighting against the Soviets. Italy was also more of a burdon in which the Wehrmacht had to bail them out a couple of time, especially in Greece.
                        Germany had TONS of help against the Soviets. Thousands of SS recruits from Ukraine, Belorussia, and other Eastern European countries took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union.

                        Perhaps what you're trying to say is that the allies of Germany were not as strong as the Allied powers?
                        "I am the Lorax, and I'll yell and I'll shout for the fine things on earth that are on their way out!"

                        ~Dr. Seuss, The Lorax


                        "The trouble with Scotland...is that it's full of Scots!"

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                        • #27
                          There is always a 'good reason' why the rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to Germany.

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                          • #28
                            To me number 5 comes closest to the body of work as a whole, and I voted that. Strategically they were inept.

                            Regards,
                            Dennis
                            If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                            Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Destroyer25 View Post
                              Not true. Romania, Hungary and Italy all proved to be useful on the Eastern Front. They did very well considering the sad state of their equipment. Had Germany been able to provide them with more German gear things at Stalingrad could have been very different.
                              I had actually meant in terms of equipment as well as troops. But it proves my point in that they were not exactly the best allies to have. Some even say that Hitlers invasion of the Soviet Union had to be postponed because of having to help the Italians in Greece.

                              But on the scale of the whole war, it was the Heer who done the majority of the fighting for the Axis side in the European theatre and without them, they would not of got very far at all.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Roadkiller
                                ...can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)...
                                Kiev Sept 1941.
                                The Purist

                                Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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