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The German's greatest mistake in WWII

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  • Originally posted by Charles C View Post
    He would've had to postpone the invasion of Russia for another year at least, but then I think it definitely would've been possible.

    England quite simply didn't interest Hitler enough though, who saw the Soviet Union as the real enemy.
    It wouldn't have been possible for the Germans to successfully invade Britain. The Precondition for that would have been *complete* air and naval superiority over the channel. The German navy was too weak, and the Luftwaffe wasn't strong enough to knock the RAF out of the war.
    Will no one tell me what she sings?--
    Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
    For old, unhappy, far-off things,
    And battles long ago:
    -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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    • Originally posted by Charles C View Post
      Oh I agree on that, infact the Germans would've been better off just leaving Britain alone until the USSR had been crushed. The Battle of Britain was pointless and a half hearted affair by the Germans, a waste of time and material that could've been utilized better in the coming war against the USSR.
      I agree that the Germans should have left England alone and focused on Russia first, but I still maintain that they should have taken out the English at Dunkirk. Failing to do so was a huge military blunder, It would have set the English back.

      Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
      The Luftwaffe wasn't strong enough to knock the RAF out of the war.
      That's not really true, the mistake they did was to stop bombing the English radar installations and airfields. That said, even if they had done so they would have had to follow through with an invation, else it wouldn't have been worth the effort and loss of aircraft.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that the German pilots had roughly 10-15 minutes over English airspace before they had to return, not much really.

      And failing to take out the radar stations meant that the English could see the German planes as early as in German airspace, or close to. Giving them plenty of time to respond.
      Last edited by walle; 09 Apr 13, 13:40.

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      • Originally posted by KDF33 View Post
        I'd say the biggest German mistake of the war was Fall Blau in 1942, which failed to break the Red Army and ideally set up the Germans for a decisive Soviet counter-attack.

        I believe the Germans should have struck north, toward Moscow and Vologda, to maximize casualty infliction as well as shorten the length of the front.
        Not in the least. By 1942 the war was lost.

        The Germans biggest handicap in 1942 was the lack of infantry. Even by striking in the south, where the Red Army was already terribly weakended by the winter and spring fighting, the Germans infantry was being attritioned a a rate that could not be replaced. Not only that but the terrain was quite open and better suited to German doctrine. Even so, they quickly ran into trouble once Soviet reserves befgan to be deployed. Sixth Army, as an example, was brought up short in late Jul and early Aug in the Don bend for lack of strength (mainly infantry) and supply issues.

        Had the Germans launched their offensive into the teeth of the main Soviet defences, where their best and strongest units were deployed (including the reserve armies) that attrition would have been greatly accelerated. Instead of bleeding out in Sep and Oct the Germans could have run out of infantry just battering their way through layers of Soviet defences. The terrain on the Moscow axis was also much more heavily wooded and possessed plentiful swamps, lakes, rivers and streams. When they came east from Smolensk in 1941 most of the fighting was done when the ground was frozen and more passable. As the Russians were to find in the summer of 1942 and 1943, attacking in the Moscow region in warm weather had to follow easily identified routes that possessed communcication lines (road and rail) and which could be blocked in depth.
        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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        • Even by striking in the south, where the Red Army was already terribly weakended by the winter and spring fighting, the Germans infantry was being attritioned a a rate that could not be replaced.
          This is wrong on two counts. First, the Red Army was not terribly weak in the South, and certainly not in comparison to the forces protecting Moscow. On July 1, for instance, there were 1,831,000 men and 105 tank battalions on the Moscow approaches (Kalinin and Western Fronts) and 1,715,000 men and 131 tank battalions on the southern sector (Bryansk, South, South-Western Fronts).

          Regarding the attrition of the German infantry formations, I don't have data pertaining only to them, but I do have data showing overall strength fluctuation of the Armies. In the case of the Sixth and 4th Panzer Armies, their strength declined from 403,539 men in July to 377,673 men in October, i.e. by 5.4%. At the same time, German ground strength in the East increased from 2,997,000 men on July 1 to 3,100,000 on November 1, inclusive of the rear areas (archival source: KTB OKW, Bd.III, HB 2, S. 1481-).

          So the "shortage" of infantry in the Stalingrad area must be relativised first by noting that, even though they likely suffered most of the losses, an overall decline of 5.4% in strength is not that dramatic and, second, that overall strength in the East increased by roughly 100,000 men, so the slightly lower strength in the Stalingrad area had more to do with resource allocation than with a lack of said resources. What ultimately brought the advance to a halt had more to do with the poor logistical infrastructure in the south and the need to drop off offensive strength to cover the ever-extending flanks than with insufficient forces per se.

          Had the Germans launched their offensive into the teeth of the main Soviet defences, where their best and strongest units were deployed (including the reserve armies) that attrition would have been greatly accelerated. Instead of bleeding out in Sep and Oct the Germans could have run out of infantry just battering their way through layers of Soviet defences.
          As indicated above, the idea that Stalin concentrated most of his strength around Moscow is a myth. Admittedly the Stavka reserves add some strength to those 1,831,000 men, but then the roughly 350,000 soldiers of the North Caucasus Front also added a substantial "reserve" to the forces fighting in the south.

          The terrain on the Moscow axis was also much more heavily wooded and possessed plentiful swamps, lakes, rivers and streams. When they came east from Smolensk in 1941 most of the fighting was done when the ground was frozen and more passable.
          The Viazma pocket occured in early October, right before the muddy season, in comparable terrain. The Soviets were annihilated. The Germans also succesfully launched a limited offensive in July 1942 that pocketed the Soviet 39th Army below Rzhev.

          As the Russians were to find in the summer of 1942 and 1943, attacking in the Moscow region in warm weather had to follow easily identified routes that possessed communcication lines (road and rail) and which could be blocked in depth.
          I would argue that this had more to do with the overall poor capabilites of the 1942 Red Army than with any impassable obstacle posed by the terrain.
          Last edited by KDF33; 09 Apr 13, 14:34.

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          • 1) The biggest and worst mistake was thinking they were winning World War 1 and only was stabbed in the back.

            2) Voting Hitler 'JA' in the referendum.

            3) Openly abandoning the Versailles Treaty.

            4) Underestimating the resistance of the British and French to any more territorial demands after Munich.

            5) Invading Poland.


            All other mistakes are based on one or more of the above.
            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

            What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

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            • Originally posted by walle View Post
              I agree that the Germans should have left England alone and focused on Russia first, but I still maintain that they should have taken out the English at Dunkirk. Failing to do so was a huge military blunder, It would have set the English back.

              That's not really true, the mistake they did was to stop bombing the English radar installations and airfields. That said, even if they had done so they would have had to follow through with an invation, else it wouldn't have been worth the effort and loss of aircraft.

              Another thing to keep in mind is that the German pilots had roughly 10-15 minutes over English airspace before they had to return, not much really.

              And failing to take out the radar stations meant that the English could see the German planes as early as in German airspace, or close to. Giving them plenty of time to respond.
              The radar stations were very hard to hit except with Stukas which were not able to survive in the same sky with Spitfires. And the system was very redundant. Tooze says that any damage was put right in a couple of days. None of the airfields that they bombed was put out of action for more than a couple of days. The reason the Germans switched to terror bombing of the cities is that their strategy for bombing the airfields failed.
              Will no one tell me what she sings?--
              Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
              For old, unhappy, far-off things,
              And battles long ago:
              -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

              Comment


              • Originally posted by KDF33 View Post
                This is wrong on two counts.... <snip>...
                I'll just direct you David Glantz's two current volumes on Case Blue. His resources include archives from both Germany and the Soviet Union.
                The Purist

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

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
                  The reason the Germans switched to terror bombing of the cities is that their strategy for bombing the airfields failed.
                  That is false. The reason was that the UK bombed Berlin, to which Hitler responded by focusing almost all his bombing on London; a big mistake. The RAF were at its knees at one point.

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                  • Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
                    The reason the Germans switched to terror bombing of the cities is that their strategy for bombing the airfields failed.
                    Terror bombing is a strong word, it was retaliation. If you want talk about terror bombing look no further than to Dresden and Hamburg. Now that, was terror bombing.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Charles C View Post
                      That is false. The reason was that the UK bombed Berlin, to which Hitler responded by focusing almost all his bombing on London; a big mistake. The RAF were at its knees at one point.
                      http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...=134209&page=4

                      A discussion on this point came up in the thread posted above. Start at post #56 and read on. Modern research has shown that the BOB was not as near run as once thought and the concept the RAF was on its knees doesn't hold as much water as once thought.

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                      • Originally posted by Charles C View Post
                        That is false. The reason was that the UK bombed Berlin, to which Hitler responded by focusing almost all his bombing on London; a big mistake. The RAF were at its knees at one point.
                        I refer you to Richard Overy's The Battle of Britain and Tooze's The Wages of Destruction to name only two.
                        Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                        Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                        For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                        And battles long ago:
                        -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by walle View Post
                          Terror bombing is a strong word, it was retaliation. If you want talk about terror bombing look no further than to Dresden and Hamburg. Now that, was terror bombing.
                          Piffle. Hitler's redirecting the Luftwaffe against cities like London and Coventry was to demoralize the British public and bring about the fall of Churchill. That was in 1940-41, and the firebombing of Dresden was in 1945. Hamburg and Dresden were legitimate military targets in a country that unleashed the most deadly war in history, murdering millions of innocent Jews and Slavs.
                          Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                          Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                          For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                          And battles long ago:
                          -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by walle View Post
                            The English were at the helm, not the British.

                            http://www.nytimes.com/learning/gene.../big/0804.html
                            It doesn't matter. The fact remains, it was not 'England' that declared war. It was the UK; or, to give it its full name, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (It is generally considered acceptable also, to say 'Britain' as a shortened form.) It is neither reasonable nor accurate to say, 'England' when we are speaking of the UK, even though England is the largest single part.
                            "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                            Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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                            • Originally posted by Charles C View Post
                              "I know what you're saying but, seriously, Scotland, Ireland & Wales wasn't in anyones mind. England possesed 90% of the forces in the UK anyway, not to mention the fact that England was where nearly all of the UK's military equipment was manufactured.
                              The nation that went to war against Germany in 1939 was the UK; or we can also say 'Britain', which is considered an acceptable shorter form.
                              The whole of the UK was what Hitler would have had to deal with; not just 'England'. The distribution of resources within the UK makes no difference. The problem here is people saying, 'England' when they mean the UK, or Britain. It is one of my pet hates!


                              Originally posted by Charles C View Post
                              "But ofcourse if an invasion of Britain was to be carried out, then it would've involved all of it, not just England. Leaving behind Ireland, Scotland & Wales would be giving away safe havens for any resistance forces.
                              Exactly. But it is not merely that this is the practicality of the situation. It is also the case that the political entity, or nation, that the Germans were dealing with was the UK. It was the UK that declared war, not 'England'. England as a stand-alone political entity, that could declare and conduct war separately, had by then not existed for over 200 years.

                              Speaking of 'England' in such a context as this discussion, when we should be speaking of the UK or Britain, is simply not correct. But it seems to have become a habit in many quarters.
                              "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                              Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by walle View Post
                                Well that's a good and valid point, perhaps you're right. The infrastructure in Russia was rather poor at the time, not much of it existed to begin with.
                                No perhaps.

                                For centuries, travel for thirty days in the spring and thirty days in the fall is constrained by rain through much of the country. The Germans were stupid not to realize that.
                                It gets cold in the winter, too, in most parts of the country. The Germans were stupid not to realize that.
                                There were no Autobahns in Russia, not then, not even today. Roads are few and far between. Freight and people move by rail, and have since the time of Peter the Great. The Germans were stupid not to realize that.

                                For a people who are ordinarily quite clever, the Germans were remarkably stupid back then. They planned a whole campaign ignoring these obvious facts, disregarding the history of Napoleon and the Grande Armee, gambling that they could sucker punch the Red Army and force Stalin's regime to collapse, a long shot at the very, very best. All they had to do was look at a map, read a few books, and talk to someone with intelligence. Both kinds of intelligence.

                                Mythbuster:

                                I was reading recently about the KV tanks. Part of the German Myth is that these monstrous tanks appeared "out of nowhere" that scared the bejeezus out of them because they were impervious to German anti-tank weapons. Oh woe! Poor Germans!

                                In fact, since December 1940 every KV tank delivered from LKZ in Leningrad had been driven around town as part of the factory trials. Then they were driven to the train station, loaded on wagons and taken by rail, undisguised, to the Red Army proving ground just outside of town for military trials. Leningrad was a major military production center, but the Germans had no one reporting on developments there. Another failure of intelligence.

                                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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