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Mythification of WW2 german military

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
    Simple, with the numbers. The allies had more of everything and the victory still wasn't an easy one.
    exactly and to justify the massive numbers of men and material deployed to defeat them, this myth of super human nazi robotic soldiers and their uber sophisticated weapons is a commonly held belief by the public.

    I'm sure post war memoirs of german generals perpetuated that but Hollywood has not helped either.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Herman Hum View Post
      Massive industrial capability and access to resources, at least in America.
      Lets not forget our canadian friends either

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      • #18
        I think the mythification of the German military was a generational phenomenon more than anything. I think the generations born in the UK and the USA too late to serve in the war, and who came of age in the late 1950's and 1960's, felt an inferiority complex towards the generation that "won the war". Thus, in Britain at least, you have the "revisionist" historians such as Corelli Barnett, John Ellis, Max Hastings who were keen to push a narrative of innate German superiority in order to cut their elders down to size. A lot of this was probably subconscious, but I think it was a motivating factor.

        There was an interview with Who guitarist Pete Townshend recently when he described how much he used to envy the wartime generation because they had been given a sense of purpose, and succeeded in it. Inter-generational envy is a very powerful force.
        "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
        - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
          Simple, with the numbers. The allies had more of everything and the victory still wasn't an easy one.
          yes, this is a critical point here
          plus air and naval supremacy later on
          --plus hitler interfering was a negative

          but Icm1 has it right when he says it was the men/culture/discipline/etc behind the weapons
          ..you can have non-motivated, so-so trained troops with great weapons that still will be defeated by motivated, well trained troops with mediocre weapons/tactics/etc

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Moulin View Post
            troops with great weapons that still will be defeated by motivated, well trained troops with mediocre weapons
            IIRC lcm1 loved his Sten

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Moulin View Post
              ..you can have non-motivated, so-so trained troops with great weapons that still will be defeated by motivated, well trained troops with mediocre weapons/tactics/etc
              Sure it's a sad fact that you can have motivated and well trained troops supporting an evil, corrupt and depraved regime - which does not make it one whit less evil, corrupt and depraved.
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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              • #22
                Originally posted by nastle View Post
                I'm sure post war memoirs of german generals perpetuated that but Hollywood has not helped either.
                I think there was also some cold war self delusion going on. The US Army paid the defeated German generals to tell them that the Red Army wasn't very good and only won because of numbers. They certainly didn't want to hear that the Red Army was a sophisitcated and top notch fighting machine that had kicked the Germans' ass because the consequences of that were frightening. The defeated German Generals didn't want to admit they were beat fair and square and didn't want to interrupt their post war earnings so they told the US Army what it wanted to hear.

                These writings became the slew of post war books that coloured the narrative. During the cold war when the Soviet Union was the enemy, everyone on our side of the line bought into this mythology because it was comforting.

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                • #23
                  Years ago I had a conversation with a contemporary of my father, both of whom were commissioned at the start of WW2, in which I aroused immense indignation when I innocently cited Len Deighton's 'Blitzkrieg' and my surprise at his analysis of the Wehrmacht's comparitively modest technical resources against the French and British in 1940. "No, no, they had infinite superiority in tanks and planes! Quite wrong!"

                  Given that we had been discussing my grandfather's experiences at St Valery, I felt reasonably justified in voicing an opinion, but I buttoned up quickly. I believe the gentleman's battalion took quite a pasting in Belgium.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                    The Germans were superior because they were the smartest country in Europe during the interwar years especially 1930 and upwards. They developed a doctrine based on WWI experiences of all the combatants and then built war machines to suit their doctrine.
                    The allies had better gear in generall - and more of it - whereas the Germans had the better soldiers. No surprise. Prussian military tradition dated all the way back to the German knights Order and had created a culture which lead to very capable, disciplined and tough soldiers, it also lead to an excellent officer core.

                    All of which the National Socialists got to play with after they had hijacked the German nation.

                    Edit.
                    As for early sucess their gear was on equal footing with that of the allies, with the clear exception of their tanks that were inferior to the French ones. However, the Germans knew how to use their tanks effectivly, the French did not.

                    Speaking of tanks, it's kind of ironic that all these years later the Germans and the French are now having talks about developing a new MBT together to meet the "threat" of the Russians latest MBT, after all: the Russians might be fixing to launch a Zerg rush on the Eastern Front!
                    Last edited by walle; 11 Aug 17, 16:43.

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                    • #25
                      Actually the Prussian Divisions in WWI did not do so well compared to other German "states". The Regular divisions in the rest of the Wehrkreis were all rated 1's by the British. Many of the Reserve Divisions were rated as 1's or 2's. The best performers were the Bavarians. The only poor Bavarian divisions were the Ersatz divisions. Even the Prussian Guard Ersatz performed poorly.

                      The numeric system was a 1 to 5 rating. Ones were Assault Divisions. Twos were above average and capable of being Assault. Threes were average. Fours were below average and should only be used as trench garrisons. Fives were not capable and unreliable. The divisions left on the Eastern Front after Russia gave up were Fives, plus a couple of Fours.

                      At the beginning of WWII the Regular Divisions also superb. The Landwehr were the worst. Many Landwher were demobilized after 1940.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                      • #26
                        The mythos of German military power in WW 2 can be easily summed up as...

                        Usually it's the victors that write the histories after a war. But, after WW 2, the Germans were largely the ones that the histories discussed, often from the point of view of their generals. There were also numerous books written on German equipment and technology while few equivalent ones were published on Western Allied or Soviet equipment. The US published a few general histories and left it at that. The Soviets were now the "enemy" and most of their stuff was inaccessible. The published accounts were largely patriotic propaganda pieces. Japan's records were either destroyed or difficult to access due to the language barrier, while the Pacific often became a near forgotten theater of war. The British published a general history too that wasn't widely distributed and almost nothing came out about other aspects of their participation.

                        It all led to the losers narrating the outcome. "We lost due to superior numbers..." "It was Hitler's fault..." "Our equipment was the best..."
                        All of that an more was the narrative you saw coming out of post WW 2 histories for the most part. Little of it got challenged in the West where academics saw military history as the pariah stepson of history and wanted little to do with it. Military history wasn't even taught at most universities.
                        So, with the German narrative, no academic interest, and little refutation of what was being published you got the "The German army was super excellent and only lost because of huge numbers arrayed against them." Add to that the "German military equipment was far and away the best of everything" narrative and the mythos that grew in the 50's to 80's was inevitable.

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                        • #27
                          Then you got people like Beltran Cooper, whose POV is understandable, but misguided, writing books like 'Death Traps' which disparaged the very good Sherman tank while commenting on how superior the enemy equipment was. Quick question: If the official German TOE for the Panzer-Waffe was 50% Pzkpfw Mark IV and 50% Pzkpfw V Panther; what percentage did that leave for the Tiger tanks?
                          Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                          "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

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                          • #28
                            There's an element to I'm sure of, well using an analogy:

                            It's better to have beaten the New England Patriots than say the Cleveland Browns.

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                            • #29
                              Well......

                              It did take 6 years to beat them.
                              Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by RichardS View Post
                                Then you got people like Beltran Cooper, whose POV is understandable, but misguided, writing books like 'Death Traps' which disparaged the very good Sherman tank while commenting on how superior the enemy equipment was. Quick question: If the official German TOE for the Panzer-Waffe was 50% Pzkpfw Mark IV and 50% Pzkpfw V Panther; what percentage did that leave for the Tiger tanks?
                                Unless you were the SS divisions at Kursk, Tiger tanks were not given to Panzer Regiments. They were usually in Company or Battalion units. The Panzer Regiments did get STUG's and Panzerjaeger if there was a lack of P-IV's or Panthers.

                                Pruitt
                                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                                Comment

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