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  • German intel pre-Barbarossa

    Prior to Barbarossa, were the Germans aware of Stalin's purges of his officer corps?

    From my understanding, German army intelligence was way off on their estimation of Soviet strength so I would think not but I'd really like to hear your opinions. Also, I'm sure if Hitler was aware he would have added it to his list of self-assuring "facts" of why they would be going through Russia like a hot knife through butter.

    Now that I think of it, where/how would the Germans be getting their info prior to attacking?

    many thanks in advance.

    btw--I was going to tack this question onto another thread but find some threads go off into so many tangents that lots of info gets lost and makes it difficult for newbies like myself to locate.

  • #2
    Prior to Barbarossa, were the Germans aware of Stalin's purges of his officer corps?

    I think they did. Prior to the start of Barbarrossa, the Germans and Russians were allies, and I believe the Germans had started many rumors about certain officers not being loyal, because they knew that rumors and Stalin's paranoia would work to their advantage. It would be pretty easy for them to spread these rumors since they were allies.

    Looks like their pre-intelligence about weather patterns didn't work too well though. I think they were banking on a favorable winter based on past
    weather patterns.

    btw--I was going to tack this question onto another thread but find some threads go off into so many tangents that lots of info gets lost and makes it difficult for newbies like myself to locate.

    Yeah, I got lost a lot when I first started too. From the homepage, just click on Armchair Forums in the upper left hand corner, and then look at all the names for the Forums, and it makes it easier to find your way around. Play around with this a couple of times, and then you'll be a pro. It just takes some practice.

    "Get three coffins ready" The Man With No Name

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    • #3
      The Germans knew about the purges; their best sources for that information were their military attaches.

      Your broader question on Barbarossa is too complex for a sound-byte answer. You may want to read David Kahn's Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II.

      rna
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • #4
        Read Barbarossa by alan clark or Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. Its got some good background into that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sgt. Rock View Post
          Prior to Barbarossa, were the Germans aware of Stalin's purges of his officer corps?

          I think they did. Prior to the start of Barbarrossa, the Germans and Russians were allies, and I believe the Germans had started many rumors about certain officers not being loyal, because they knew that rumors and Stalin's paranoia would work to their advantage. It would be pretty easy for them to spread these rumors since they were allies.
          Stalin was crazy, he started thinking that some of his officers were going to overthrow him, so he started the purges, thereby wiping out some of the best generals he had, and only his cronies survived.

          RIGHT??

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          • #6
            Yes, Stalin was paranoid. The man's character was also such that he would rather have lackeys around him.

            Barbarossa changed that, as Stalin realized that all the lackeys he assembled around him could not fight. He needed people like Zhukov and Koniev.

            (It is interesting to note - and very rarely remembered - that Stalin launched a second purge of his best generals after WW2, albeit without the kangaroo courts and the executioners.)

            In other aspects, German intelligence on the Soviet Union was poor. They did not know the actual strength of the Soviet Union (underestimated the number of divisions), underestimated the stability of the regime, and did not even have proper maps over the grounds that they would be fighting over.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
              Prior to Barbarossa, were the Germans aware of Stalin's purges of his officer corps?

              From my understanding, German army intelligence was way off on their estimation of Soviet strength so I would think not but I'd really like to hear your opinions. Also, I'm sure if Hitler was aware he would have added it to his list of self-assuring "facts" of why they would be going through Russia like a hot knife through butter.

              Now that I think of it, where/how would the Germans be getting their info prior to attacking?

              many thanks in advance.

              btw--I was going to tack this question onto another thread but find some threads go off into so many tangents that lots of info gets lost and makes it difficult for newbies like myself to locate.
              The Germans only had to look at how poorly the Russian Army performed against the Finns during the Winter War of 1939 to see how rotten the Russian Army had become because of the purges.
              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                The Germans only had to look at how poorly the Russian Army performed against the Finns during the Winter War of 1939 to see how rotten the Russian Army had become because of the purges.
                But also should have looked at how the Soviets performed in the 1939 battles againt the Japanese to see how they could perform under good generals.

                The Japanese crushed the Tsarist Russians. The Soviets crushed the Japanese just before Germany invaded Poland.

                The Japanese took the hint and turned their attentions towards the SE Asia. Hitler should probably also have taken note.

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                • #9
                  In late 1940 the Germans assumed the Russians could deploy:

                  96 infantry div
                  23 cav divs
                  28 mech bdes

                  ...versus a total of 146 German divisions (110 inf, 24 Pz and 12 Motor). In Oct (?) Hitler agreed to strengthen AGC and noted that its additional strength could be used to assist the flanking groups in destroying Red Army concentrations. The general Staff registered no protest with the apparant divergence from the planned drive on Moscow. It was assumed by the German command that the Red Army would not withstand the German attack despite its superiority in number due to the purges and poor performance against the Finns

                  On Feb 3rd 1941 the Germans amended their estimate to (note the nice rounded numbers,...suggesting more guess than estimate):

                  100 inf divs
                  25 Cav divs
                  30 mech bdes

                  total reserves were thought to equal 300 divisions (again the round number).

                  ...versus a total of 134 German divs (101 inf, 20 Pz and 13 motor). Hitler again notes the potential need to strengthen the flank groups in order to outflank the Moscow should the Red Army not be destroyed west of the Dnepr. Again the general staff registers no protest nor would they do so until the great debate in AUgust when it became apparant that not all objectives could be reached.

                  Now,... the reality is that Red Army mobilised 5.3 milliopn men in June 1941 on top of those already in service. The NKO mobilised 8 new armies in June, 13 in July, 14 in August, 3 in September, 5 in October, 9 in November and 2 in December. Soviet mobilisation and redeployment generated 285 rifle divs, 12 new tank divs, 88 Cav divs, 174 rifle bdes, 93 tank bdes by Dec 1941.

                  These additions raised the Red Army strength to 401 div by Aug 1st, 450 div equivalents by Set 1st, and 592 div equivalents by Dec 31st (incl 97 div transfers and 25 militia div). By December the Soviets had fielded more than 600 divisions which answered the question how the Red Army could lose 200 divisions (nearly the entire peace-time army) and still continue the fight.

                  Sources:
                  "The Defence of Moscow", Geoffrey Jukes
                  "Thunder on the Dnepr", Lev Devoretsky and Brian Fugate
                  "Stumbling Colossus", Davis Glantz
                  "Before Stalingrad", David Glantz (formerly titled "Barbarossa - Hitler's Invasion of Russia")
                  Last edited by The Purist; 29 Aug 07, 07:56.
                  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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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mechashef
                    But also should have looked at how the Soviets performed in the 1939 battles againt the Japanese to see how they could perform under good generals...
                    Nomanhan and Kalkin Gol were unknown outside the Red Army and Japanese circles at the time. I don't believe anyone in the west would heard about these battle until after the war.
                    Last edited by The Purist; 29 Aug 07, 07:54.
                    The Purist

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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                      Nomanhan and Kalkin Gol were unknown outside the Red Army and Japanese circles at the time. I don't believe anyone in the west would heard about these battle until after the war.
                      Hi Purist, it seems strange that the Japnese wouldn't have shared with the Germans any info or at least even to have made reference to these battles. They and Italy had signed Tripartite Pact in 1940. Besides supporting each other militarily, one of the articles of the pact states "With a view to implementing the present pact, joint technical commissions, to be appointed by the respective Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy, will meet without delay". Not sure of exact meaning of technical commission.

                      The numbers of troops that USSR could deploy in your previous post is simply staggering. The scale of fighting on the Eastern Front is almost beyond comphrehension.

                      Just noticed that German deployment plans in 1940 were for 146 divs in 1940 and then 134 in late Feb 1941. Curious as to why they dropped the number of divisions to be deployed?
                      Last edited by Canuckster; 29 Aug 07, 00:05.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
                        Hi Purist, it seems strange that the Japnese wouldn't have shared with the Germans any info or at least even to have made reference to these battles. They and Italy had signed Tripartite Pact in 1940. Besides supporting each other militarily, one of the articles of the pact states "With a view to implementing the present pact, joint technical commissions, to be appointed by the respective Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy, will meet without delay". Not sure of exact meaning of technical commission.
                        Why would the Japanese report a resounding defeat to their new allies rather than report a "border incident" that proved inconclusive. I wouldn't look at the Tri-partite Pact as a tight alliance,...it was more of an "understanding" between Germany and Japan but showed little, if any, sign of coordinated effort. Only geographical location allowed Germany and Italy to cooperate and Hitler would have preferred not to get involved in Italian affairs at all. One need only note the 'side show' nature of the war in the Mediterranean shown by the German high command, which was quite correct considering the main goal of dominating Europe.
                        The Purist

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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nomanhan and Kalkin Gol were unknown outside the Red Army and Japanese circles at the time. I don't believe anyone in the west would heard about these battle until after the war.
                          Actually Koestring tried to tell the German army about those battles as an antidot to Soviet performance in the Winter War, but could not get through enough. Obviously it was considered as a mere tactical victory and the Japanese army was not rated by the German very high either.

                          BTW, the Germans estimated that the Soviets had available 12 million reservists, but planned to execute their operations so rapidly that the country would be largely occupied before these could be used to raise new formations (although they knew the Soviets were "creeping up to war"). Obviously the Soviet capability to raise quickly such enormous numbers of divisions etc. was underestimated (probably some mirror imaging of Western thinking about this aspect).
                          Last edited by Michate; 29 Aug 07, 11:53.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Canuckster
                            ...Just noticed that German deployment plans in 1940 were for 146 divs in 1940 and then 134 in late Feb 1941. Curious as to why they dropped the number of divisions to be deployed?
                            Original plans did not match the reality.
                            The Purist

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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                              In late 1940 the Germans assumed the Russians could deploy:

                              96 infantry div
                              23 cav divs
                              28 mech bdes

                              ...versus a total of 146 German divisions (110 inf, 24 Pz and 12 Motor). In Oct (?) Hitler agreed to strengthen AGC and noted that its additional strength could be used to assist the flanking groups in destroying Red Army concentrations. The general Staff registered no protest with the apparant divergence from the planned drive on Moscow. It was assumed by the German command that the Red Army would not withstand the German attack despite its superiority in number due to the purges and poor performance against the Finns

                              On Feb 3rd 1941 the Germans amended their estimate to (note the nice rounded numbers,...suggesting more guess than estimate):

                              100 inf divs
                              25 Cav divs
                              30 mech bdes

                              total reserves were thought to equal 300 divisions (again the round number).

                              ...versus a total of 134 German divs (101 inf, 20 Pz and 13 motor). Hitler again notes the potential need to strengthen the flank groups in order to outflank the Moscow should the Red Army not be destroyed west of the Dnepr. Again the general staff registers no protest nor would they do so until the great debate in AUgust when it became apparant that not all objectives could be reached.

                              Now,... the reality is that Red Army mobilised 5.3 milliopn men in June 1941 on top of those already in service. The NKO mobilised 8 new armies in June, 13 in July, 14 in August, 3 in September, 5 in October, 9 in November and 2 in December. Soviet mobilisation and redeployment generated 285 rifle divs, 12 new tank divs, 88 Cav divs, 174 rifle bdes, 93 tank bdes by Dec 1941.

                              These additions raised the Red Army strength to 401 div by Aug 1st, 450 div equivalents by Set 1st, and 592 div equivalents by Dec 31st (incl 97 div transfers and 25 militia div). By December the Soviets had fielded more than 600 divisions which answered the question how the Red Army could lose 200 divisions (nearly the entire peace-time army) and still continue the fight.

                              Sources:
                              "The Defence of Moscow", Geoffrey Jukes
                              "Thunder on the Dnepr", Lev Devoretsky and Brian Fugate
                              "Stumbling Colossus", Davis Glantz
                              "Before Stalingrad", David Glantz (formerly titled "Barbarossa - Hitler's Invasion of Russia")
                              Good numbers, Gerry.

                              However, keep in mind that Soviet divisions were much smaller than Western ones. In general, a Soviet mech or armor Corps is equivalent to a Panzer or Panzergrenadier division. It's not quite 1:2 because of additional attached support units. The Soviets have increasingly more stuff in the larger units whereas the Germans give out more support directly to smaller units. But assuming a ratio of 1.6 to 1.8 is in order for most unit size comparisons.

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