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  • Top Myths of the Eastern Front

    MYTH I: Heroic Americans with their British sidekicks won World War Two, while the Russian campaign was a sideshow.

    REALITY: Although Western Lend-Lease and strategic bombing was highly useful, the reality is that the vast majority of German soldiers and airmen fought and died on the Eastern Front throughout the war.

    Rüdiger Overmans in Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg estimates that from the Polish campaign to the end of 1944, 75-80% of all German armed forces personnel died or went missing in action on the Eastern Front up to the end of 1944. According to Krivosheev's research, throughout the war, the vast majority of German divisions were concentrated against the Soviet Union - in 1942, for instance, there were 240 fighting in the East and 15 in North Africa, in 1943 there were 257 in the East and up to 26 in Italy and even in 1944 there were more than 200 in the East compared to just 50 understrength and sub-par divisions in the West. From June 1941 to June 1944, 507 German (and 607 German and Allied) divisions and 77,000 fighters were destroyed in the East, compared to 176 divisions and 23,000 fighters in the West. The two pivotal battles, Stalingrad and El Alamein, differed in scale by a factor of about ten, or an order of magnitude.

    Lend Lease: A Lifeline to the Soviet Union in 1942-43

    This is not to disparage the Western Allied soldiers who fought and died to free the world from Nazism. In particular, the seamen who enabled Lend-Lease, at high risk of lethal submarine attack, to transport indispensables like canned food, trucks and aviation fuel to Russia, possibly played a crucial role in preventing its collapse in 1941-42. The Western Allied contribution to Soviet victory, after the Cold War ended, has been more readily acknowledged, both by current Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin and in popular historiography. The large Memorial musuem of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow has a section dedicated to Lend Lease taking up several hundred square feet, and the movie Peregon (Transport) about the female WAC pilots who delivered American-made fighters from Alaska to Chuhotka during the war has also been a minor hit in Russia. Lest we forget, American and British bomber crews also massively disrupted Germany's warmaking potential at the cost of horrid fatality ratios, significantly shortening the war (albeit it is currently fashionable in Germany to castigate them for killing 600,000 people who by and large had no problem with waging a war of extermination responsible for tens of millions of deaths on the Eastern Front).

    MYTH II: The Russians just threw billions of soldiers without rifles in front of German machine guns.

    REALITY: The vast majority of German soldiers were killed, taken POW or otherwise incapacitated on the Eastern front. The Soviet to Axis loss ratio was 1.3:1 and the USSR outproduced Germany in every weapons system throughout the war.

    According to meticulous post-Soviet archival work (G. I. Krivosheev in Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses), the total number of men (and in the Soviet case, about 1mn women) who passed through the armed forces of the USSR was 34,476,700 and through Germany's was 21,107,000. Of these, the "irrevocable losses" (the number of soldiers who were killed in military action, went MIA, became POWs and died of non-combat causes) was 11,285,057 for the USSR, 6,231,700 for Germany, 6,923,700 for Germany and its occupied territories, and 8,649,500 for all the Axis forces on the Eastern Front. Thus, the total ratio of Soviet to Nazi military losses was 1.3:1. Hardly the stuff of "Asiatic hordes" of Nazi and Russophobic imagination (that said, also contrary to popular opinion, Mongol armies were almost always a lot smaller than those of their enemies and they achieved victory through superior mobility and coordination, not numbers).

    The problem is that during the Cold War, the historiography in the West was dominated by the memoirs of Tippelskirch, who wrote in the 1950's citing constant Soviet/German forces ratios of 7:1 and losses ratio of 10:1. This has been carried over into the 1990's (as with popular "historians" like Anthony Beevor), although it should be noted that more professional folks like Richard Overy are aware of the new research. Note also that cumulatively 28% and 57% of all Soviet losses were incurred in 1941 and 1942 (Krivosheev) respectively - the period when the Soviet army was still relatively disorganized and immobile, whereas for the Germans the balance was roughly the opposite with losses concentrated in 1944-45.

    The idea that there were two soldiers for every rifle in the Red Army, as portrayed in the ahistorical propaganda film Enemy at the Gates, is a complete figment of the Russophobic Western imagination. From 1939 to 1945, the USSR outproduced Germany in aircraft (by a factor of 1.3), tanks (1.7), machine guns (2.2), artillery (3.2) and mortars (5.5), so in fact if anything the Red Army was better equipped than the Wehrmacht (sources - Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won; Chris Chant, Small Arms).


    To read more about myths of the Eastern Front, Visit this Page:
    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/07/po...he_eastern.php

    Your opinion
    Last edited by SegaSaturnGamer; 22 Oct 10, 11:14.

  • #2
    That is a HUGE number of topics you've brought up here

    Before some usual suspects rush to criticise the very idea of the post, I have to say that in my experience, acquired both through personal communication, media and Internet, these myths do exist in reality and they are upheld by the number of people that is significant enough to make this post worth discussion. This post is about a social phenomenon and not about that adequate scholarly views don't exist in the West at all.
    www.histours.ru

    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ShAA View Post
      That is a HUGE number of topics you've brought up here

      Before some usual suspects rush to criticise the very idea of the post, I have to say that in my experience, acquired both through personal communication, media and Internet, these myths do exist in reality and they are upheld by the number of people that is significant enough to make this post worth discussion. This post is about a social phenomenon and not about that adequate scholarly views don't exist in the West at all.
      Of all the myths I find ludricous about the Russian army in WW2, its the "2 Rifles For Every Man" myth and the myth that the Russians "sent Billions and Billions of Men to execute Human Wave attacks.".

      If the Russians were that poorly equipped, there was no way they had any hope of defeating the Germans!

      Comment


      • #4
        I posted that one before some time ago, the Author is a acquaintance of mine.
        “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

        Max Sterner

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Erkki View Post
          I posted that one before some time ago, the Author is a acquaintance of mine.
          What do you think "2 Rifles For Every Man" myth and the myth that the Russians "sent Billions and Billions of Men to execute Human Wave attacks"?

          Seriously if Russian soldiers were that poorly equipped, how the hell did they take Berlin!

          Comment


          • #6
            Both are true a to a very limited extent, it could happen that such methods was required, but then it was nothing like the idiocy showed in Enemy at the gates for example.
            “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

            Max Sterner

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
              That is a HUGE number of topics you've brought up here

              Before some usual suspects rush to criticise the very idea of the post, I have to say that in my experience, acquired both through personal communication, media and Internet, these myths do exist in reality and they are upheld by the number of people that is significant enough to make this post worth discussion. This post is about a social phenomenon and not about that adequate scholarly views don't exist in the West at all.
              Can't forget the Ice Age that broke out in 1941 just as the Germans were about to win. Amazingly, the coldest winter on record since at least 1939 or 1940 didn't bother the Soviets and especially the millions and millions of Siberian reinforcements.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                Can't forget the Ice Age that broke out in 1941 just as the Germans were about to win. Amazingly, the coldest winter on record since at least 1939 or 1940 didn't bother the Soviets and especially the millions and millions of Siberian reinforcements.
                The Commie elves and Red traitor Rudolf started a union strike so that Santa had to leave his igloo on the North Pole much earlier than expected.
                www.histours.ru

                Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                  Can't forget the Ice Age that broke out in 1941 just as the Germans were about to win. Amazingly, the coldest winter on record since at least 1939 or 1940 didn't bother the Soviets and especially the millions and millions of Siberian reinforcements.
                  Boy, winter of '41 was colder than '39 or '40?

                  "2 Rifles For Every Man" myth
                  As opposed to 2 men for every rifle?

                  ...Billions and Billions of Men to execute Human Wave attacks"?
                  Hmmm; how many billions of men did RKKA have handy?
                  Skip

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                  • #10
                    Pretty obvious myths to anyone decently well read. Just read Ziemke, Carrell, Werth, Chuikov, Konev and you would know all of this already.

                    Just read books by Westerners and you will have some false ideas about the Great Patriotic War.

                    I can't believe I just found this forum. Awesome.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Food for Thought

                      Your stats that you list pretty much jive with everything that I have read about the Eastern Front.

                      To a degree I have to ask, what is the point? i.e. you list, what is an obviously slanted blog site as your source. Lets face it, it would be rather like getting info on the Eastern Front from neonazi.com. they may list stats that are at least generally correct, but we all know that stats can and are manipulated.

                      However, I have a larger point to make here. As a long time student of history I have seen history change. What I mean is that there were accepted norms (assumptions?) years ago. Christopher Columbus is a good example. He was a hero when I was a kid, now he is reviled and everyone loves to find Roman, Vikings, Chinese and 5,000,000 others who got to America first. Now, everyone is trying to outdo the other in finding 'new' facts and thus altering the paradigm. It seems rather a gold rush of novelty.

                      As far as I am concerned, only facts matter when it comes to history. I am all about finding those facts but even more importantly-arriving at the correct conclusion after the facts are in. This is where Truth enters the picture and of course, nothing is more grasped after, twisted, manipulated, pushed, poked, prodded and coerced than truth. To what ends? Well history is replete with the manipulaters and propagandists who use history to advance their agenda- Messrs Hitler and Goebbels come to mind but they are hardly alone.

                      So, really what I am asking is this; WWII has been studied to death all major research was finished 40 years ago, so do we have to invent new slants in order to maintain relevancy?
                      Beware the man of one book.
                      --Thomas Aquinas

                      http://www.clementsmb.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Totenritter View Post
                        Your stats that you list pretty much jive with everything that I have read about the Eastern Front.

                        To a degree I have to ask, what is the point? i.e. you list, what is an obviously slanted blog site as your source. Lets face it, it would be rather like getting info on the Eastern Front from neonazi.com. they may list stats that are at least generally correct, but we all know that stats can and are manipulated.
                        Well, why not crush this POV easily with your own stats, which should be very easy in this case.

                        As far as I am concerned, only facts matter when it comes to history. I am all about finding those facts but even more importantly-arriving at the correct conclusion after the facts are in. This is where Truth enters the picture and of course, nothing is more grasped after, twisted, manipulated, pushed, poked, prodded and coerced than truth. To what ends? Well history is replete with the manipulaters and propagandists who use history to advance their agenda- Messrs Hitler and Goebbels come to mind but they are hardly alone.
                        This is what this post is all about - refuting the myths generated during the Cold War. As some recent books have shown, not only Soviet, but also Western historans have proven to be barely a notch behind Goebbels in the art of cheating and manipulating.

                        So, really what I am asking is this; WWII has been studied to death all major research was finished 40 years ago, so do we have to invent new slants in order to maintain relevancy?
                        This statement is extremely strange - haven't you heard of the critical reassessment of history based on newly received information from the Soviet archives and a much more critical approach to the books of German generals which were made to look the "good and honest guys" in the past years - and their books as well.

                        Of course, some people would like to maintain the status quo and trust the Cold War history version like a Bible, but these are exactly the people who have slants and political agenda.
                        www.histours.ru

                        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Totenritter View Post
                          To a degree I have to ask, what is the point?
                          ...
                          However, I have a larger point to make here. As a long time student of history I have seen history change. What I mean is that there were accepted norms (assumptions?) years ago...

                          As far as I am concerned, only facts matter when it comes to history. I am all about finding those facts but even more importantly-arriving at the correct conclusion after the facts are in.
                          ...
                          So, really what I am asking is this; WWII has been studied to death all major research was finished 40 years ago, so do we have to invent new slants in order to maintain relevancy?
                          Firstly, I will stipulate that discussing myths is rather pointless. Better to discuss the facts on record.

                          The problem comes with the abundance of facts. In the case of the USSR, it has only been (relatively) recently that the archives have been open, and there are mountains of documents to sift through. It was, after all, a modern conflict on a scale significantly greater than elsewhere, and the Soviets were meticulous with their paperwork.

                          As for myths, and 'modern history', they are synonymous, in most respects. It is impossible to begin history while any of the participants are alive, and skeletons still live in their closets. I was born in 1955. I may live long enough to learn the truth about Rudolf Hess, but not about the assassination of JFK.

                          History does not change. It is what it is. There is a truism: "We judge ourselves by our motives, and we judge others by their deeds." What changes is our judgment of history, how we make it fit into our agenda. Canadian kids are taught about Dieppe and Ortona and Caen. Russian kids are taught about Stalingrad. The good guys and the bad guys are redefined to meet the needs of today's society, to suit today's very different social consciousness and social conscience.

                          Look at attitudes to the USSR within the USA, how polarized they were during the Cold War, and how much misinformation was spread to further a domestic agenda, to build the military and flex US muscle. I did research into the Soviet military during those years, and it was very hard to get real information. What there was came in Russian, and was heavily filtered.

                          Nowadays my hobby is the T-34 tank. A fellow named Honeycutt wrote the definitive book on the Sherman some twenty years ago, and another fellow named Spielberger wrote a series of definitive books on German tanks about the same time. Until last year, there was never a definitive book on the T-34. That's how far behind we are with regards to knowing about the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War --- and that book is only in Russian, today, so unless you read the language, it is information still unavailable to the west.

                          So sure, there is a point to continuing. Today I have a different appreciation of the Soviet war effort from learning the story of that tank. It is quite an incredible story, and says much of the nature of the struggle. I have even translated parts of the book and shared with others as keenly interested in the tank. It does make a difference.

                          Anyway, food for thought, indeed.

                          Cheers
                          Scott Fraser
                          Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                          A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Scott Fraser History does not change. It is what it is. There is a truism: "We judge ourselves by our motives, and we judge others by their deeds." What changes is our judgment of history, how we make it fit into our agenda. Canadian kids are taught about Dieppe and Ortona and Caen. Russian kids are taught about Stalingrad. The good guys and the bad guys are redefined to meet the needs of today's society, to suit today's very different social consciousness and social conscience.
                            This is hitting the nail on the head. This is precisely what worries me. This is why all of us must be careful of where we are going. Where we are headed. What we are doing and why.

                            Let me give an example and please, please don't take this as an attack on you personally. I notice that you use a Soviet medal (Hero of the Soviet Union, I think) as your avatar. It features the hammer and sickle emblem of the former Soviet Union.

                            What would happen if a member here wanted to feature a swastika in their avatar?

                            First, the moderators would block it and even if they allowed it, the member would be hounded off of the forum. No one would have anything to do with them and they would be gone quickly. The right or wrong of that is extraneous to the discussion, but both actions would be just fine with me.

                            So, fact. Communists have a much higher body count than National Socialism. Two points about that-

                            1. That might not be the case if National Socialism had survived.
                            2. Once an organization accumulates that much blood on their hands, can you really say that one is better than the other? "Oh, we only killed 25,000,000 people-you killed a lot more than that!" Please.

                            Yet, for some reason, open sympathy for Communism gets a pass. Nazis get zero. I have no problem with the Nazis getting zero, it is the open sympathy for a hugely murderous regime that I have a problem with. After all, they are essentially the same creatures. Another simplistic exercise-

                            Union of Soviet Socialist, Republics

                            National, Socialist, German Workers Party

                            And so we get back to the new history and new slant.

                            The good guys and the bad guys are redefined to meet the needs of today's society, to suit today's very different social consciousness and social conscience.
                            This is exactly what is happening and it is wrong. Individuals and organizations alike, need to be judged on what they did and only what they did. Much like a jury is instructed to only pay attention to the facts and not take into account things such as the backround of the defendant, his looks or anything else that has no bearing on the case. yes, juries fail at that sometimes, just as people fail at that while judging history. I am full aware that this is not a perfect world.

                            So, bringing new facts to light is always welcome, but it is the conclusion that we come to that worries me. Again with Columbus. Everyone falls all over themselves trying to prove that someone else reached America before him. Maybe they did, but what they did not do was change the world.

                            So, I wonder, what are their motives for this?





                            This is probably the part where someone scrambles for their keyboard so they can type at me NAZI APOLOGIST! Save your time and your pixels and read what I am saying.
                            Last edited by Totenritter; 24 Oct 10, 15:03.
                            Beware the man of one book.
                            --Thomas Aquinas

                            http://www.clementsmb.com

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Totenritter View Post

                              Union of Socialist, Soviet Republics

                              National, Socialist, German Workers Party

                              And so we get back to the new history and new slant.
                              And? You obviously have something ageist socialists yourself

                              Socialist Democrats which ruled Sweden successfully and made it one of the greatest nations of today.

                              Besides why lumping USSR and Nazi Germany together, why not Genghis Khan and Nazi Germany? It is some new trend today trying to equalize Nazi Germany and USSR, even if they have major differences.
                              “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

                              Max Sterner

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