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Soviet/Russian Myths of the Great Patriotic War 1-The Second Front

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  • Soviet/Russian Myths of the Great Patriotic War 1-The Second Front

    Well I thought to start a provocative and hopefully interesting thread series on myths of the Great Patriotic War.

    The first subject is the Second Front, something Stalin had been begging for since the June 1941. Something that finally happened in June 1944 three years later. Now we know, or should, that the greatest proportion of German casualties occurred on this front. Certainly the back of the Heer was broken here, and a significant proportion of the Luftwaffe was degraded as well. Why did the Allies not come earlier, and when could they have? It seems talking to Russians and Ex-Soviets and reading through what I could in translation there is a feeling the Allies dragged their heels for political reasons rather than military. In particular a hope to see the Soviets weakened a bit before finishing the Nazis off. It seems this is the only reason advanced in the popular imagination of many. Military reasons do not seem to be considered usually.

    So what is the truth or fact behind this assertion? We know each of the "Big Three" had their own goals and interests for after the war but how much of this affected or was affected by military considerations and constraints?

    How much did political considerations, any of them, play a role in determining the timing of the return to Europe by the Western Allies and was weakening the Red Army? Look at the crazy proposals of Churchill for military ops in the Balkans, designed to block the Soviets?

    Conversely, how much did Stalin know about the real difficulties and constraints of the UK and USA? For example he must have realised how few troops Britain had and how many the US still had to train and the fact they had to be transported across the Atlantic? Heck Admiral Kuznetsov was full of admiration for the Allied war against the u-boats and for what carrier task forces could do in the Pacific.

    Most Western historians that I have read about talk about military facts, some do talk about the political rivalry with the Soviets and between the US and UK. How have Russian historians viewed the matter and how has that changed from Soviet times?

    Where can we get some real stats of what everyone had available in troop, naval and air strength and where? Could the Allies have sent some troops to help in the most critical moments such as before Moscow or Stalingrad or done something to draw German strength elsewhere? I recall Anders and his Polish troops leaving at the start of the Stalingrad battle that must have not sat well.

    Could the combined effort be considered a “Second Front” taken all together and how was this seen at the time and today by both sides?
    Another point we ought to remember is whatever the Western Allies did, the Soviets were always going to suffer more casualties, civilian as well as military. Primarily because the Nazis made the fight against Communism and search for lebensraum at the expense of inferior races their priority. This meant most of the army would always be found at the East, the Luftwaffe would only be pulled away to defend the homeland, and the navy would be last in line for resources.

    I look forward to your responses.

  • #2
    bump

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    • #3
      Joea,


      It is my understanding that the 'Invasion Season' in the English Channel is about from early May to late June. That is because of both tides and weather.

      Thus "coming earlier" means mid 1943 or mid 1942.

      From what I have read, neither year was 'doable', so that left an air campaign and 'Operation Torch' in 1942. The UK and USA really had little alternative.

      John.
      The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
        Joea,


        It is my understanding that the 'Invasion Season' in the English Channel is about from early May to late June. That is because of both tides and weather.

        Thus "coming earlier" means mid 1943 or mid 1942.

        From what I have read, neither year was 'doable', so that left an air campaign and 'Operation Torch' in 1942. The UK and USA really had little alternative.

        John.
        If you read '1943: The Victory That Never Was' by John Grigg you might think differently. I didn't find his arguments particularly compelling, or even well structured at times, but he makes an interesting case nonetheless.
        Signing out.

        Comment


        • #5
          "I didn't find his arguments particularly compelling, or even well structured at times,"

          Then why should I think differently?

          It would take a compelling argument to convince me that in mid 1943 the Allies could have done a 'Normandy'.

          It took a year or more of preparation to get it done in 1944 as it was, and most of 1942 was simply getting up to speed for the trials ahead.

          The UK/USA did what was possible, and the air war and Lend Lease was just about it.


          John.
          The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

          Comment


          • #6
            Well in 1943, the Allies still hadn't fully defeated the U-Boat threat yet, so exactly how could the Allies build up for an invasion of France?
            "To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat."
            --Marshal Józef Piłsudski

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            • #7
              The idea of Stalin's speeches is that we had a common war. So any operation would be analized on the matter how it could influence on the common war results.

              It was wrong to think only about its influence only on the national armed forces combat situation.

              Mainly it was about diversionary tasks.

              It was about readiness to sacrifice own soldiers for common victory. OK, it is possible to use the term of "to send in combat in unfavorable conditions" instead of "to sacrifice".

              When the fate of war was being decided in Soviet Union and Hitler spoke that "one more battalion can be decisive" any diversionary landing could be very important for the fate of the whole war. Sometimes such landing should be done without any thinking about casualties.

              here what stalin wanted. he wanted western allies to show that they were ready to sacrifice their soldiers for the common deed.

              ANY type of second front with ANY result meant that Germans would be forced to send significant forces against it instead od sending them against Red Army.

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              • #8
                Andrey,

                The air war in 1943/4 WAS a 'Second Front'. It was tying up huge numbers of German men and women, and factory production effort and resources.

                A failed 'D-day' would have been useless.

                John.
                The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
                  Andrey,

                  The air war in 1943/4 WAS a 'Second Front'. It was tying up huge numbers of German men and women, and factory production effort and resources.

                  A failed 'D-day' would have been useless.

                  John.
                  The USSR practically ALONE boar the brunt of struggle against Nazi Germany in 1941-43. In that time the most of killed German soldiers, the most of destroyed German panzers and guns, the significant part of destroyed German planes were lost in the Soviet-German Front.

                  The USSR lost in the war against Germany 27 million people including 8.5 million militaries. For the USSR the war last for 1419 days. It means 19,027 people IN A DAY. It means 5.990 militaries IN A DAY. IN A DAY!!!!! Think about these numbers.

                  The USSR did hold out. But did the Western Allies did all what was possible for this? NO.

                  Stalin asked the Allies to help to decrease the pressure of Viermacht.

                  ANY serious landing in the coast of France and even ANY threat of such landing could force the Germans to concentrate in France some of their forces including mobile panzer units. It could be very important for Red Army straining every nerve on the Soviet-German Front.

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                  • #10
                    Ok thanks for your input Andrey, so what do Russian historians today and earlier Soviet historians say was the reason for this?

                    Only to weaken the communists? Other reasons like the UK not wanting to draft many soldiers to die as they did in 1914-18 on foreign soil?

                    How many troops would have been sufficient to pull away significant numbers of German troops? Certainly the overall number in North Africa were small, we all know that. Even the late 43 landings in Sicily and Italy saw some key troops (Herman Goering division) sent west...I wonder if it would have been the same say to land in Sicily in late 42 instead of 43 and maybe do an operation in France at the same time, at elast to take pressure off Stalingrad.

                    Was the only alternative a huge invasion which was going to come at some point or doing nothing or was an emergency diversion like Andrey proposes possible?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by joea View Post
                      Ok thanks for your input Andrey, so what do Russian historians today and earlier Soviet historians say was the reason for this?

                      Only to weaken the communists? Other reasons like the UK not wanting to draft many soldiers to die as they did in 1914-18 on foreign soil?

                      How many troops would have been sufficient to pull away significant numbers of German troops? Certainly the overall number in North Africa were small, we all know that. Even the late 43 landings in Sicily and Italy saw some key troops (Herman Goering division) sent west...I wonder if it would have been the same say to land in Sicily in late 42 instead of 43 and maybe do an operation in France at the same time, at elast to take pressure off Stalingrad.

                      Was the only alternative a huge invasion which was going to come at some point or doing nothing or was an emergency diversion like Andrey proposes possible?
                      I want to return to Stalingrad battle.

                      How it was.

                      The classic view is that in Stalingrad the Germans attacked, Soviet soldiers defended. The Soviets hold out.

                      Modern historians speak another things.

                      From the first German breakthrough to the Volga in August to the north from Stalingrad Soviets put pressure on the northern flank of the German troops that had brokethrough. Again and again fresh troops attacked German positions. The attacks were done without necessary preparations, troops often attacked right after uploading from carridges. The casualties of the Soviets were very high. There was no success if to speak about capturing of the territory.

                      BUT.... But those attacks prevented the Germans from transferring of troops from that direction to Stalingrad. Moreover, some reserves were sent on that direction instead of Stalingrad. Replacements, tanks and guns were sent there. Fuel, ammo, food was sent there. Many things were sent there instead of Stalingrad. Germans had troubles with reserves and supply in that time on Stalingrad direction so it was very important to force them to spend it out of Stalingrad.

                      So those attacks from north helped the Soviet soldiers in Stalingrad to hold out. Without those attacks whose result was catastrophic for the Soviet attacking forces the Germans could make more poweful blows in Stalingrad itself and nobody knows what could happen.

                      It was Zhukov who ordered to continue put pressure on the Germans to north from Stalingrad AT ANY PRICE.

                      Diying in attacks to north in Stalingrad Soviet soldiers were helping their comrades in Stalingrad.

                      Here what the Soviets wanted in 1941-43 - to make at least diversionary operations. Only landing in France or Belgium could force the Germans to send there significant forces.

                      If to remember about huge distances between Stalingrad, Caucasus, Moscow, Kursk to French coast to transfer a few divisions there and back could last a few months. It meas that those divisions couldn't fight all that time and the Germans would waste their limited railroad capacity on such trasferrings.

                      In 1942-43 Britain had enough fighters and bombers in Britain itself to provide enough air cover of landing forces. Any landing coulkd result to huge air battke over French coast so the Germans would be forced to send there some of their planes operated in the Soviet-German Front.

                      So the question was what to mean a taask of the Second Front.

                      The Westerb Allies thought about "to land and to enter Berlin".

                      The Soviets thought "to land and to reduce the pressure of Viermacht on Red Army"
                      Last edited by Andrey; 02 Apr 10, 00:16.

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                      • #12
                        Andrey,

                        I get the strong impression that nothing we say is going to change your view.

                        I simply will NOT accept that there was any sort of 'plot' in this regard, and that the decision was made simply that it could not be done before 1944.

                        John.
                        The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          PS,


                          NOBODY on these Forums disputes the ENORMOUS part that the USSR played in the defeat of the nazis.

                          But it WAS a 'team effort'.

                          John.
                          The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
                            PS,


                            NOBODY on these Forums disputes the ENORMOUS part that the USSR played in the defeat of the nazis.

                            But it WAS a 'team effort'.

                            John.
                            In 1941-43 the other players of THE TEAM often operated as spectators.

                            I only explained Soviet/Russian position.

                            There was the only way to force the Germans to transfer large ground forces out of the USSR territory - landing in France. The main threat for the USSR (and to the other World) were German ground forces.
                            Last edited by Andrey; 02 Apr 10, 01:05.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
                              Andrey,

                              I get the strong impression that nothing we say is going to change your view.
                              It is very difficult to force anyone to change his/her opinion.

                              I simply will NOT accept that there was any sort of 'plot' in this regard, and that the decision was made simply that it could not be done before 1944.

                              John.
                              ????

                              Churchill thought about the after-war situation many months before the end of the war. He didn't want to land in France. He offered to land in the Balcans to cut off Europe from liberation by Soviet troops. It is a well-known fact.

                              Trueman's words (Vice-President of the USA!!!!) of 1941 are well-known also: "We should see who [Germans or the USSR] will be winning and we should support the country who will be losing. Their struggle is favorable to us." Something like this.

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