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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • Interesting thing- the armored, motorized infantry, and mountain divisions were more professionalized than the rest.

    From Germany and WW2: IV

    The position with regard to officers in the field army at the beginning of the
    offensive on 22 June 1941 was that the numerical establishment was above
    emergency level, with a reserve of 300 officers available for the army groups.
    An interesting feature was the increased assignment of active officers to the
    units to be employed at the point of main effort: in the armoured, motorized,
    and mountain divisions there was a 50: 50 ratio between active and reserve
    officers; among the divisions of the 1st, 4th, and the newly created 11th and 12th waves the ratio was 35: 65; for the rest of the divisions it was 10: 90.
    mumbers of young replacements were considered adequate--only just so
    among battalion commanders, whereas the proportion, among regimental
    commanders was good.


    • Best troops in lead units sounds like a good idea.


      • Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
        Interesting thing- the armored, motorized infantry, and mountain divisions were more professionalized than the rest.
        I can completely understand that. Historically, Germany has been a land locked country surrounded by dangerous enemy states. To win, it needed to defeat its opponent quickly, as another may take advantage of an imperial army engaged elsewhere.

        Germany's Blitzkrieg approach is an evolutionary development to win at wars. It's an approach determined by geography. The same is true of Britain. For a country that has a superior defensive position (read E. Channel), it can afford to use a small elite army when necessary.

        Neither approach always works.
        How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic:
        Global Warming & Climate Change Myths:


        • Well Nick, the Barbarossa expansion essentially de-mobilized the Heer to equip the new divisions (it was heavier equipped per division in France even with the new production and trained personnel)- in order to participate in the Soviet land war, which required lots and lots of infantry. The professionals and experienced were split to form the new divisions. So it was a balancing act.

          Although with the most tanks, the Soviets were considerably less motorized and horse-drawn per capita than the Heer by intention.


          • Originally posted by dgfred View Post
            Best troops in lead units sounds like a good idea.
            It ain't rocket science, is it?


            • Hoth on the PzD: He gets one veteran (7.Pz) and 3 green, organized from the better infantry units (12, 19, 20).

              His command PzGruppe 3's core tank is the panzer 38t while Guderian's more veteran force uses the Panzer III.

              The allotted motor vehicles seemed completely inadequate for warfare in the east. It
              has already been mentioned that the number of armoured and motorised infantry divisions
              was doubled after the French campaign. Panzer Group 3, whose operations are covered
              here, possessed four panzer divisions for every panzer corps. Of these, the 7th Panzer
              Division had already proven its great worth in the western campaign, the 12th Panzer
              Division was converted from a motorised infantry division, and the 19th and 20th Panzer
              Divisions were transformed from infantry divisions. All panzer divisions had, instead of
              the previous single tank brigade, only one tank regiment of three tank battalions. However,
              they were now equipped with the Panzer III and IV. So the tank regiment of, for example,
              the 19th Panzer Division had at its disposal 42 of the Panzer IV, 102 of the Panzer III, 9 of
              the upgraded Panzer III, and 20 of the Panzer II. The armoured personnel carriers of the
              new panzer divisions, especially those of the 20th Panzer Division, were of French civilian
              origin and unsuitable for the routes in the east. Specifically, there was a lack of crosscountry
              motor vehicles. Company commanders had to lead their troops from small sedans.
              It appeared no better for the motorised infantry divisions. All three motorised infantry
              divisions (the 14th, 18th, and 20th) had been reorganised from infantry divisions in the
              winter of 1940-41. They received their vehicles only during the last months preceding the
              outbreak of war in the east (for the 18th Division it was only a few days).
              This provision of vehicles unsuited to the conditions of the eastern terrain must be
              taken into account in the assessment of the operations.
              Last edited by Cult Icon; 26 Apr 15, 14:05.


              • Pz General Balck was briefly in-charge for the training of 'GD' before the Battle of Kursk. His thoughts from his memoir:

                His preference for "lean and mean", smaller divisions is noted in his post-war US Army interviews. The big divisions with elaborate equipment allocation went against his POV.


                • Yes, Balck favored the smaller sized Panzer divisions. I already ordered his memoirs, I can't wait until it's released.


                  • Yes, Balck preferred small, high quality Pz divisions, tightly led by Divisional commanders & staffed by good men rather than the big ones. He considered the deployment of excess armor and personnel in an operation as wasteful. He mentions the GD as effectively being two divisions in his view.

                    some things (I skimmed the whole preview 1941-1945 this weekend) It was interesting.

                    Balck gives his opinions as commander (or just trying to present a good face):

                    - He continuously calls 1.SS and 7.Pz "marvelous" divisions and writes about about his experience commanding them in glowing terms. Notes numerous tactical wins, calls them an elite. He calls Peiper a courageous commander. He considered 25.Pz to be useless. He had great admiration for the ability of Mantueffuel. He attributes his defeats in fall/winter 43' to lack of extra divisions needed to consolidate territory taken.

                    - He considered GD oversized.

                    -He considered the volkgrenadier divisions to be very poor, of marginal value.

                    - A lot of roasting of the SS. Low opinion of Himmler's empire building and the Waffen SS; He considered the SS filled with "delinquents". He also considered Himmler a disaster in leadership selection for the SS and volksgrenadier formations, and considered many of the leaders to be criminals.

                    -He seems to have an intense quarrel with 6 SS Pz Army in 1945, basically calling their commanders mostly incompetents. He had a low opinion of 9.SS 'H''s leadership. He writes of the breakdown of 5.SS and 9.SS combat morale in 1945 and poor performance. He considered SS replacements to be poorly trained. He mentions the post-war quarrel he continued to have with veteran community of the W-SS.

                    -On discussing his experience in Lorraine/Metz he talked of it being the most stressful of his time in WW2, as he had only 8 poor quality divisions against enormous US force correlation. He mentions the panzer brigades as self-cannibalizing due to the lack of service and support structures. He mentions 1,250 Allied air sorties a day against his forces (which is similar to the LW air support at stalingrad..) and zero LW air support for his command. The usual distortion of troop movements due to airpower is mentioned.

                    -He mentions that the US opponents violated truces and used the opportunity to infiltrate his positions, which he complained as being against international law.

                    -He considered the forces in the West 44' to be commanded by men who couldn't hack it in the east and had accumulated there over time. He talked of the "Normandy syndrome"- of commanders broken by the retreat which he considered similar to the "Tunis" syndrome. These men were in need of being replaced.

                    -He repeatedly implies that he considered US command to be sluggish in exploiting their vast force superiority and considers his survival until the Ardennes offensive to be a near-miracle.

                    -He considered the use of Hitler youth boys in the rear as a way "they can play traunt", and thus useless.
                    Last edited by Cult Icon; 04 May 15, 00:44.


                    • This makes me more excited than ever to get his memoirs!!! I love the fact that Balck doesn't mince words, and is very open with his opinions, even if I don't agree with all of them.
                      The quarrel between 6th SS Pz Armee and Balck in Hungary in 1945 is legendary! He already had problems with the 9th SS and Bittrich since Tarnopol in 1944, and of course in 1945. You should absolutely read the book by the former Ia of 6th SS Pz Armee, Georg Maier, "Drama Between Budapest and Vienna." Not only is it an astounding book, it is very critical of Balck and his post war memoirs. It's a good counter to Balck, who apparently liked to blame subordinates for his possible mistakes. I say possible, because I haven't read an unbiased account of Hungary yet, only Balck's opinions, and the SS's (Maier's) opinions. Either way it's excellent...


                      • Balck, from the preview comes across as the typical high ego General, and his opinions tend to be of a polarized good/bad sort.

                        Of interest is that he mentions post-war issues with the W-SS veterans and the 9.SS and basically attacks them as being delusional about certain issues.


                        • Near the end of the video (14:50), the PR CO, Colonel Schultz of 7.Pz receives the Diamonds from Hitler. He would take over command of 7.Pz and be KIA a month later.

                          Only 11 members of the Heer received the Diamonds in WW2, and 4 of them were in the 7.Pz. These men were Rommel, Mantueffuel, Schultz, Mauss. 7.Pz, besides being a top unit... must be, to some degree, well connected.

                          Last edited by Cult Icon; 13 May 15, 12:44.


                          • In Nov 1942, the Germans got more than their money's worth on:

                            22.Pz, 16.ID (Mot.), 29.ID (Mot.)


                            • 6.Pz (Dec. 1942-March 1943), after being rebuilt for months this was the most powerful formation in the south of the eastern front circa Dec 1942. It comes across as being efficient in the preservation of its combat manpower. With up to 1,000 LW sorties a day (usually below 500), it largely does most of the mauling of 51.A during the first stage of winter-storm before its panzer regiment shrivels up & the overwhelmingly large 2.GA/5.Shock-Army move into position.

                              11.Pz also made an epic war path May 1942- March 1943. It also comes across as efficient in the preservation of its fighting men and thus frequently available for future assignments. It is particularly effective in armor engagements with numerous heavy successes in tank battles, which generally involved mauling armored corps.
                              Last edited by Cult Icon; 10 Jun 15, 15:45.


                              • In Feb-March 1943 besides the more famous struggle in the south there was also Soviet offensives to take objectives in the center and north of the eastern front like Orel.

                                Like in the south, the Germans make a counteroffensive and restore the situation.

                                In the northern neck of the orel salient, of the PzD there were 5.Pz, 9.Pz

                                In the southern neck of the orel salient, of the PzD there were 12.Pz, 18.Pz, 20.Pz. 4.Pz arrives in early March as reinforcement.

                                2. Tank Army is also deployed here in the Orel offensive.


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