Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 46

Thread: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

  1. #21

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Well put. You seem to be well versed in context however, since you blessed us with a random video.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  2. #22
    Praefectus
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    6,106

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    ...The Germans were doomed either way, they fared much better in their offensive than is often believed, they were much worse at defense than people often believe, and the attack was their way of trying to defend....
    You've changed my thinking on the subject by bringing sources that are new to me to the table, thank you.

    I had always thought the position was futile. However I felt that the initial planned spoiling attacks that coalesced into Zitadelle were the better option. I see that was probably wrong.

    I guess the large Soviet concentrations of armour and materiel (IIRC they already had a higher proportion of armour and mechanised forces than the Wehrmacht) meant they had the defensive flexibility to smash probes and disrupting raids. The big nut needed the big hammer (or wrench, stop criticising my metaphors OK?). In the event the Soviet build up was probably disorganised for a while but managed to roll forward nevertheless.

    I think Zitadelle and its aftermath demonstrate increased Soviet operational sophistication: the sword and shield defense wasn't particularly brilliant, but he mass of Ukrainian fronts maintained operational cohesion for the sweep into the Balkans. We see this again in 1944 with Bagration developing over a massive front and spilling into Poland with only one significant pause (arguably politically motivated) in front of Warsaw. In early 1945 the Soviets took the Konrad attacks toward Budapest in their stride without interrupting the preparations for the final drive into Silesia or the siege of Budapest, pretty robust organisational skills on display.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  3. #23

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.


  4. #24

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    I think the proverbial nail has been struck firmly on the head.

    The German army was inferior in defence, from the start the Wehrmacht was built as an aggressive, short term offensive force and always fared badly in defensive actions. They where the opposite of the British in this regard which made the North African theatre so interesting.

    Counter-attacks to regain the initiative that could be followed up and converted to general offensives where always the best ideas for the Germans.

  5. #25

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Except of course every math model we have ( Dupuy/RAND, QJM and crevalds own version of fighting power etc) shows the Germans superiority/efficiency on defense is greater than any allied nations.

  6. #26
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Azuchi-jō Tenshu
    Posts
    22,095

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    I agree with Hanny on that point. If you look at German Stellungskrieg, they actually did better than when they used maneuver war (in both WW1 and WW2). 1940 was an exception and that was because France had great roads. The German army was at the end of its tether by the time they reached Warsaw in 1939 and simply could not go further East. Thankfully for these generals, Stalin ended up keeping his end of the bargain, more or less. The German defensive operations in 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 all demonstrated German defensive capabilities. They would have held out longer in 1944 had the Soviets not carried out an excellent spoiling attack and the Germans were not completely disoriented.
    Last edited by Lord Oda Nobunaga; August 01, 2019 at 09:14 AM.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

  7. #27

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    I agree with Hanny on that point. If you look at German Stellungskrieg, they actually did better than when they used maneuver war (in both WW1 and WW2). 1940 was an exception and that was because France had great roads. The German army was at the end of its tether by the team they reached Warsaw in 1939 and simply could not go further East. Thankfully for these generals, Stalin ended up keeping his end of the bargain, more or less. The German defensive operations in 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 all demonstrated German defensive capabilities. They would have held out longer in 1944 had the Soviets not carried out an excellent spoiling attack and the Germans were completely disoriented.
    Hanny is either unwilling or unable to engage in a discussion and I honestly have grown tired of him.

    The Germans were very capable at defensive operations - WHEN THEY HAD RESERVES THERE!
    I'm not arguing that the Germans were completely hopeless when it came to defense. Nor am I arguing that the German offensive at Kursk (or elsewhere, for that matter) happened without mistakes.

    But to claim they were better at defense than offense is more than a stretch. E.g. compare Rommel's Africa offensives with his abysmal performance during operation Crusader, which he could have won, if it hadn't been for him doing even more mistakes than the very numerous ones done by his enemies. But even on the eastern front you'll have to think long and hard about German offensive operations that didn't at the very least cause significant losses on their opponents. But they did suffer heavy and often somewhat embarrassing defeats when defending. E.g. defending Crimea, or the Dnieper, or later on Bagration - which most people don't even call a battle, but rather the collapse of Heeresgruppe Mitte.

    Simply put: Even when they defended, they still had to do so in depth, using armoured reserves to counterattack wherever the enemy achieved breakthroughs. They often did well doing so. But they were never able to do this everywhere.

    Which is where I get tired of Hanny. Because this ties directly into what for example Model thought about Unternehmen Zitadelle. I quoted him verbatim on his thoughts about the offensive, not long before it happened. And he laid out very clearly why he was in favour of it. But Hanny isn't going to adress that. Instead he's linking a book where Guderian's memoirs are quoted, stating Model to have been against it. Even though I also addressed why the memoirs of the Generals are not to be trusted just like that, but to be taken with a few grains of salt. Even though I had already provided Model's own assessment of the situation - which also fits exactly what happened after.

    So Hanny is making an argument that has already been disproven. Which is where I reached the conclusion that talking to him is less productive than talking to a brick - and I'm not going to waste my time clicking on some links of his any more, if he can't argue what for. The ones provided so far did not once counter my argument, and the only one contributing to the debate (the one with the listed loss numbers) was misused by him in a false context and even prove my point.

    It wasn't Unternehmen Zitadelle that cost the Germans dearly (again: K/D according to Glantz 1:8) but the Soviet counteroffensives. When those are included, the K/D ratio drops to 1:3.5.

    Because no matter how brilliant the leadership is, if they are caught surprised, don't have a full picture of the situation immediately, and often don't know what the enemy's intentions are, you are going to be at a disadvantage. That is why Model especially was obsessed with the initiative.

    Plus, again: The German armoured forces that were massed there, also inevitably meant they were lacking elsewhere. Hence why the Germans weren't able to contain e.g. the Donez-Mius-offensive until they redeployed their troops there. And lost both Rumyanzev and the second Soviet Donbass offensive whenever they had to redeploy again.

    Forcing the battle on their terms was the rational thing to do.

    Thing is: I too, like Stahel in that 2014 (?) video used to believe that the Soviets became better because Stalin interfered less (probably still true) and the Germans worse the more Hitler interfered. But even though this is so endearingly simple and good to believe in, it simply doesn't match the facts we have today, and I don't even know if he still holds that belief, given that most discoveries in those cases were only published later on - especially by Töppel and Glantz.

    It wasn't Hitler who pushed for Zitadelle, he was talked into it. And Hitler going against his generals is also almost always a myth. What he usually did, was taking the advice of one general/admiral over that of the other. There wasn't a particularly strong faction arguing counter Unternehmen Zitadelle, however.
    Almost everyone was in favour. No one was able to present a real alternative.

    Practically everyone responsible for Unternehmen Zitadelle surviving the war would later claim to have been against it (Manstein, Guderian, Zeitzler). Most of them can be proven to be liars.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  8. #28
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Azuchi-jō Tenshu
    Posts
    22,095

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    The Germans were very capable at defensive operations - WHEN THEY HAD RESERVES THERE!
    I'm not arguing that the Germans were completely hopeless when it came to defense. Nor am I arguing that the German offensive at Kursk (or elsewhere, for that matter) happened without mistakes.

    But to claim they were better at defense than offense is more than a stretch. E.g. compare Rommel's Africa offensives with his abysmal performance during operation Crusader, which he could have won, if it hadn't been for him doing even more mistakes than the very numerous ones done by his enemies. But even on the eastern front you'll have to think long and hard about German offensive operations that didn't at the very least cause significant losses on their opponents. But they did suffer heavy and often somewhat embarrassing defeats when defending. E.g. defending Crimea, or the Dnieper, or later on Bagration - which most people don't even call a battle, but rather the collapse of Heeresgruppe Mitte.
    Well I mean, having reserves and prepared defenses is crucial for Stellungskrieg. But the Germans certainly showed they were more capable at Stellungskrieg in both world wars. The German Wehrmacht was built for one specific kind of attack, and were basically a glass cannon. The Soviets constantly outperformed the Germans in the offensive. The reason the Soviets took so many casualties and failed so many attacks early on was because their organization at the time was quite bad, and inexperienced commanders made poor decisions (like spreading out the divisions to cover more ground, dummpkopf!). Operation Bagration was under very specific circumstances, the Germans were having trouble in every way imaginable. I wonder if even Model could have prevented that disaster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Simply put: Even when they defended, they still had to do so in depth, using armoured reserves to counterattack wherever the enemy achieved breakthroughs. They often did well doing so. But they were never able to do this everywhere.
    I agree with this. But in optimal circumstances the Germans could have beaten back the strongest Soviet attack. So yes there was a lack of preparedness, lack of resources, but also most German generals proved unwilling to dig in and fight it out since it went against their training of maneuver warfare. This basically led to the Germans being completely outmaneuver and taking high casualties in 1943 and 1944. Because as the Germans tried to maneuver their way out of a tricky situation, this exposed them to brutal Soviet attacks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Which is where I get tired of Hanny. Because this ties directly into what for example Model thought about Unternehmen Zitadelle. I quoted him verbatim on his thoughts about the offensive, not long before it happened. And he laid out very clearly why he was in favour of it. But Hanny isn't going to adress that. Instead he's linking a book where Guderian's memoirs are quoted, stating Model to have been against it. Even though I also addressed why the memoirs of the Generals are not to be trusted just like that, but to be taken with a few grains of salt. Even though I had already provided Model's own assessment of the situation - which also fits exactly what happened after.

    So Hanny is making an argument that has already been disproven. Which is where I reached the conclusion that talking to him is less productive than talking to a brick - and I'm not going to waste my time clicking on some links of his any more, if he can't argue what for. The ones provided so far did not once counter my argument, and the only one contributing to the debate (the one with the listed loss numbers) was misused by him in a false context and even prove my point.

    It wasn't Unternehmen Zitadelle that cost the Germans dearly (again: K/D according to Glantz 1:8) but the Soviet counteroffensives. When those are included, the K/D ratio drops to 1:3.5.

    Because no matter how brilliant the leadership is, if they are caught surprised, don't have a full picture of the situation immediately, and often don't know what the enemy's intentions are, you are going to be at a disadvantage. That is why Model especially was obsessed with the initiative.

    Plus, again: The German armoured forces that were massed there, also inevitably meant they were lacking elsewhere. Hence why the Germans weren't able to contain e.g. the Donez-Mius-offensive until they redeployed their troops there. And lost both Rumyanzev and the second Soviet Donbass offensive whenever they had to redeploy again.
    I can't say for sure how reliable Guderian's memoire is here. Guderian is a known liar, however I seem to recall that Manstein said the same about how Model was against the attack. Manstein used this as a framing device to show how he was willing to go all in at Prokhorovka, where as Model slowed him down. It is a bit too consistent here, Model may well have been against fighting the battle, as he also requested to Hitler that the operation be called off when the two Army Groups bogged down. So the quote you provided might be true but in a specific context. Where as overall Model may not have been for Zitadelle, due to certain circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Thing is: I too, like Stahel in that 2014 (?) video used to believe that the Soviets became better because Stalin interfered less (probably still true) and the Germans worse the more Hitler interfered. But even though this is so endearingly simple and good to believe in, it simply doesn't match the facts we have today, and I don't even know if he still holds that belief, given that most discoveries in those cases were only published later on - especially by Töppel and Glantz.
    I'm not sure if Stahel meant this contextually. If he connected the dots of what he says he would see that this can't be the case. Maybe he changed his mind in a later book. But I am basically a radical in that I think Hitler and Stalin were proven correct on more than one occasion. The misconception is actually that the OKH was responsible for a lot of the victories but if one actually looks at the details the strategies originated with Hitler, the OKH just did the staff work. Look at Operation Typhoon, that was all OKH and it failed spectacularly. Where as the Balkan campaign was all Hitler, it overran entire countries in a matter of weeks. By extension I think that OKW staff like Jodl and Keitel are maligned for basically no reason. They were more competent than Halder and Brauchitsch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    It wasn't Hitler who pushed for Zitadelle, he was talked into it. And Hitler going against his generals is also almost always a myth. What he usually did, was taking the advice of one general/admiral over that of the other. There wasn't a particularly strong faction arguing counter Unternehmen Zitadelle, however.
    Almost everyone was in favour. No one was able to present a real alternative.

    Practically everyone responsible for Unternehmen Zitadelle surviving the war would later claim to have been against it (Manstein, Guderian, Zeitzler). Most of them can be proven to be liars.
    Yeah I completely agree with that. They also misrepresent the operation as a huge battle, when the whole point was to cut off the Soviet armies and establish a fortified zone to hold off Soviet attacks.

    On the whole I am pretty annoyed by the whole "dictators are stupid", "Hitler was stupid", "Stalin was stupid" etc. It is a dumb take, and not at all factual. Looking at the actual record both Hitler and Stalin made better calls than their generals. In fact the Soviets would have gotten wiped out without Stalin because it was Stalin who built up the Soviet military and wanted doctrines that ran contrary to many of his generals (many of which were purged). The Trotskyite regime would have weakened the Soviet Union as well. Same with Hitler actually, he built up the Wehrmacht and prevented quasi-Bolshevists from carrying out mass purges. Albeit he might have been better off if he had purged many of these generals, in particular the OKH, and replaced them with the OKW. Hard to say with Mussolini, he made a lot of bad calls, but some decent ones as well.
    Won't even comment on Japan.

    Manstein's "alternative" was also dumb. But I don't believe that he seriously considered it, probably just made that up when he wrote his memoires in 1956.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

  9. #29

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    But the Germans certainly showed they were more capable at Stellungskrieg in both world wars. The German Wehrmacht was built for one specific kind of attack, and were basically a glass cannon.
    Well, that's clearly not true at Kursk, when you compare the loss-ratio for Unternehmen Zitadelle with that of the counter-offensives. It's also not really true when you compare German performances e.g. at capturing Crimea vs. defending it. Or the Africa Corps when attacking vs their abilities when defending during the clusterf... that was Operation Crusader. The staggering amount of incompetence and mistakes on both sides, and the Brits still winning clearly doesn't shine a good light on the German performance when on the defensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    The Soviets constantly outperformed the Germans in the offensive.
    Can you elaborate how you get to that conclusion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    The reason the Soviets took so many casualties and failed so many attacks early on was because their organization at the time was quite bad, and inexperienced commanders made poor decisions (like spreading out the divisions to cover more ground, dummpkopf!). Operation Bagration was under very specific circumstances, the Germans were having trouble in every way imaginable. I wonder if even Model could have prevented that disaster.
    You can't blame the early Soviet losses on the inexperienced commanders, but clearly on Stalin and his STAVKA not allowing them any tactical freedom, micromanaging them without any actual knowledge of the situation at hand and paralysing them when no orders where given. The incompetence at the higher levels clearly trumped that of the lower levels. Plus the fact that contrary to popular belief, the Germans weren't outnumbered for most of 1941, but outnumbered the Soviets personelwise, sometimes by as much as 30%, while much of the Soviet tank and plane numbers weren't actually operational and didn't really exist much beyond on papers and some vehicle parks - which, again, isn't the fault of the low level commanders, but the STAVKA.

    Operation Bagration's circumstances are awfully similar to other Soviet successes through the "Maskirovka" tactics. The Soviets were very good at hiding their next offensives, and the Germans were very bad at guessing them. The Soviets had at that time also already learned to simply attack elsewhere than where the German forces were massed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    I agree with this. But in optimal circumstances the Germans could have beaten back the strongest Soviet attack. So yes there was a lack of preparedness, lack of resources, but also most German generals proved unwilling to dig in and fight it out since it went against their training of maneuver warfare. This basically led to the Germans being completely outmaneuver and taking high casualties in 1943 and 1944. Because as the Germans tried to maneuver their way out of a tricky situation, this exposed them to brutal Soviet attacks.
    I don't know of any battle on the eastern front, where the Germans showed that unwillingness to dig in when necessary. First example where Hitler ordered them to stand fast and dig in was near Moscow. It might well, according to Jonathan House, have saved the Heeresgruppe Mitte in the winter of 1941. But the German troops always dug in when they expected to stay at that position, just like the Soviets did.

    I have btw. seen some of the trenches near Moscow myself. Some friends of mine have a Dacha almost on top of them.

    But trench warfare, the way it had been done in WW1, wasn't really an option or even that much of an advantage in WW2, and wasn't done outside specific theatres of war, such as Karelia, Kurland, Rzhev and yes, Kursk.

    You can blame the Germans for a lack of preparations on the Crimea, but other than that, their defensive efforts were appropriate for the situation they were confronted with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    I can't say for sure how reliable Guderian's memoire is here. Guderian is a known liar, however I seem to recall that Manstein said the same about how Model was against the attack. Manstein used this as a framing device to show how he was willing to go all in at Prokhorovka, where as Model slowed him down. It is a bit too consistent here, Model may well have been against fighting the battle, as he also requested to Hitler that the operation be called off when the two Army Groups bogged down. So the quote you provided might be true but in a specific context. Where as overall Model may not have been for Zitadelle, due to certain circumstances.
    Thing is: I have quoted Models own words on what he saw as the most desirable course of events at Kursk. His own words clearly trump what Guderian and Manstein later claimed. There isn't much of a discussion to be had about this: Model wanted the attack.

    Models 9th army didn't bog down because of any unwillingness on his part, but due to the strong resistance he was facing. He even continued his attacks even after the failure became apparent, in order to support the southern attack. Then operation Kutuzov happened, and anything other than a retreat would have caused a German encirclement. The Germans were even so overextended at this point, that another cauldron would have been feasible. That's the opinion of several red army generals who, despite achieving their goals, saw it as a lost opportunity. A two pronged Soviet attack towards Bryansk could have turned the situation into a desaster for the Germans.

    Manstein's Heeresgruppe Süd had much more resources and favourable conditions in the south, but he also demonstrated a significantly greater willingness to weaken other areas in favour of Kursk. Hence why the Heeresgruppe Süd suffered so much more territorial losses as a result of Kursk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    But I am basically a radical in that I think Hitler and Stalin were proven correct on more than one occasion. The misconception is actually that the OKH was responsible for a lot of the victories but if one actually looks at the details the strategies originated with Hitler, the OKH just did the staff work. Look at Operation Typhoon, that was all OKH and it failed spectacularly. Where as the Balkan campaign was all Hitler, it overran entire countries in a matter of weeks. By extension I think that OKW staff like Jodl and Keitel are maligned for basically no reason. They were more competent than Halder and Brauchitsch.

    They also misrepresent the operation as a huge battle, when the whole point was to cut off the Soviet armies and establish a fortified zone to hold off Soviet attacks.

    On the whole I am pretty annoyed by the whole "dictators are stupid", "Hitler was stupid", "Stalin was stupid" etc. It is a dumb take, and not at all factual. Looking at the actual record both Hitler and Stalin made better calls than their generals. In fact the Soviets would have gotten wiped out without Stalin because it was Stalin who built up the Soviet military and wanted doctrines that ran contrary to many of his generals (many of which were purged). The Trotskyite regime would have weakened the Soviet Union as well. Same with Hitler actually, he built up the Wehrmacht and prevented quasi-Bolshevists from carrying out mass purges. Albeit he might have been better off if he had purged many of these generals, in particular the OKH, and replaced them with the OKW. Hard to say with Mussolini, he made a lot of bad calls, but some decent ones as well.
    I can't say that Stalin didn't ever get anything right. I don't know of many things that he did get right. And we know for a fact that he carries direct responsibility for many mistakes that happened. It was Stalin personally who, very emotionally and with use of expletives ignored all the warnings (and yes, there were many) about the upcoming German surprise attack. I remember seeing a photo of one of the reports sent to him by Molotov before the invasion, where Molotov warned him about the information received from a spy (that spy was later hanged by the Germans). Stalin handwrote his reply with a green pen on it, cursing, among other things, said spy's mother.

    Then there's Stalin's complete inaction during the first few weeks of the war, and the STAVKA's (hard to say how much of it is Stalin's fault and how much that of the rest of it) many, many, many, many disastrous interferences in the battles. E.g. Lev Mekhlis' actions as the STAVKA representative during the battle of Crimea. He arguably contributed much more to the catastrophical Soviet defeat on the Crimea than Manstein.

    Georgi Shukov claims (ok, his words should be taken with just as much salt as those of his colleagues) to have had to fight Stalin before he was allowed to conduct the Yelnya offensive, which was the first successful Soviet offensive.

    Operation Uranus (which probably wasn't Shukov's idea, but Eremenko's) isn't just remarkable because of its catastrophic defeat of the 6th army, it was also in fact the first Soviet offensive where the STAVKA didn't ruin everything for the front commanders, but listened to them for once and even gave them more time to prepare.

    I also wouldn't say that Hitler had that many ideas himself. I don't know of any, to be frank. But he was good at listening to his staff and choosing which idea he'd endorse.

    Halder was probably responsible for the German defeats like no other. It's funny how he got to rewrite history afterwards. He was, for example, the one who suppressed the logistician's warnings about Unternehmen Barbarossa and made sure they weren't heard by e.g. Hitler. They basically predicted what happened for real. Germany being able to conduct offensives for a couple hundred km's before having to stop, because their supply lines can't keep up. That happened to the Germans more than once.

    But the main factor why the Germans were far more effective than the allies (not only the Soviets) in the war, was due to the higher ups listening to the field commanders and giving them a lot of flexibility (Auftragstaktik).

    I can't say that I know much about the Italians. It always seemed to me that their command was a mess from the very top to bottom.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    Won't even comment on Japan.
    Yeah, we shouldn't. But Japan is also interesting because of the very strong conflict between the army and the navy with completely opposite goals and agendas. So basically you have two high commands where the others had more or less one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    Manstein's "alternative" was also dumb. But I don't believe that he seriously considered it, probably just made that up when he wrote his memoires in 1956.
    Yep. We two are in total agreement on that one. Though he did hold some dumb opinions even while on command, and his complete disregard of strategic circumstances predates his post war memoirs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  10. #30
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Azuchi-jō Tenshu
    Posts
    22,095

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Well, that's clearly not true at Kursk, when you compare the loss-ratio for Unternehmen Zitadelle with that of the counter-offensives. It's also not really true when you compare German performances e.g. at capturing Crimea vs. defending it. Or the Africa Corps when attacking vs their abilities when defending during the clusterf... that was Operation Crusader. The staggering amount of incompetence and mistakes on both sides, and the Brits still winning clearly doesn't shine a good light on the German performance when on the defensive.
    That is cause at Kursk the Germans hadn't prepared for a defensive operation, their actions here were intended to be on the offense. Same in all of these other scenarios. If you look at defensive campaigns conducted by Model, Kesselring, Kluge etc. Rommel was not a defensive commander at all. What you are pointing to is just the Prussian Officer Corps' inability or unwillingness to fight defensively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Can you elaborate how you get to that conclusion?
    Well I mean... just look at the last bit of 1942, all of 1943 and 1944. There is a great example with Manstein's campaigns in the Ukraine, where he is trying to outmaneuver and attack against Vatutin, and Vatutin stomps on him in every battle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    You can't blame the early Soviet losses on the inexperienced commanders, but clearly on Stalin and his STAVKA not allowing them any tactical freedom, micromanaging them without any actual knowledge of the situation at hand and paralysing them when no orders where given. The incompetence at the higher levels clearly trumped that of the lower levels. Plus the fact that contrary to popular belief, the Germans weren't outnumbered for most of 1941, but outnumbered the Soviets personelwise, sometimes by as much as 30%, while much of the Soviet tank and plane numbers weren't actually operational and didn't really exist much beyond on papers and some vehicle parks - which, again, isn't the fault of the low level commanders, but the STAVKA.
    I think it can be debated to what extent STAVKA control is to blame. While certainly a factor in scenarios like Kiev I can't really see how STAVKA is to blame for the inept counter attacks. On the ground level it was largely the fault of generals who had no experience and didn't know what they were doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Operation Bagration's circumstances are awfully similar to other Soviet successes through the "Maskirovka" tactics. The Soviets were very good at hiding their next offensives, and the Germans were very bad at guessing them. The Soviets had at that time also already learned to simply attack elsewhere than where the German forces were massed.
    Yeah that was definitely the prelude. It is a lot more than that I just don't know how to explain it. Bagration was an extremely huge campaign which is why it is so hard to wrap ones head around it. A lot of it was just German weaknesses in key areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I don't know of any battle on the eastern front, where the Germans showed that unwillingness to dig in when necessary. First example where Hitler ordered them to stand fast and dig in was near Moscow. It might well, according to Jonathan House, have saved the Heeresgruppe Mitte in the winter of 1941. But the German troops always dug in when they expected to stay at that position, just like the Soviets did.
    Yes but how often did they expect to dig in? That was really the general's call. If you look the Germans would rather fight a maneuver campaign, even when on the defensive and getting badly mauled. We saw this in Winter 1941, the 1941 Don campaign, Stalingrad, Kursk, the 1943 Ukraine campaign. It was only when Hitler removed the likes of Manstein, Bock, Rundstedt, Guderian etc and replaced them with Kluge and Model that the Germans start fighting fierce defensive battles. Most German officers simply did not want to fight defensibly and were trained to opt for maneuver instead.

    As for you example, you know why Hitler had to order them to stand fast in Winter 1941 right? Because the generals didn't want to (Bock and Guderian in particular).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I have btw. seen some of the trenches near Moscow myself. Some friends of mine have a Dacha almost on top of them.
    Digging few trenches isn't devoting oneself to a defensive campaign. There really was no dedicated defensive commander in 1941 other than Leeb and even he was lacking in that regard. Kluge was really the first one who could carry out a stellungskrieg campaign with the efficiency of a Falkenhayn. Kesselring and Model were the next to do so, but Model's early career was largely made fighting as a subordinate for Kluge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    But trench warfare, the way it had been done in WW1, wasn't really an option or even that much of an advantage in WW2, and wasn't done outside specific theatres of war, such as Karelia, Kurland, Rzhev and yes, Kursk.
    It was though, they could have prepared for it in 1941 instead of opting for the suicidal and ridiculous Operation Typhoon. There would have been stellungskrieg in 1943 but the Germans had not prepared for it before hand. Although it is true that they saw stellungskrieg as a non-option given that they didn't want to repeat WW1 and be starved out by blockade. But after 1941, certainly after 1942, they had no other choice to hold the huge line of the Eastern Front.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    You can blame the Germans for a lack of preparations on the Crimea, but other than that, their defensive efforts were appropriate for the situation they were confronted with.
    Maybe? I don't really know because it seems that naval power was the deciding factor in Crimea. There was also the risk of being cut off from the Ukraine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Thing is: I have quoted Models own words on what he saw as the most desirable course of events at Kursk. His own words clearly trump what Guderian and Manstein later claimed. There isn't much of a discussion to be had about this: Model wanted the attack.

    Models 9th army didn't bog down because of any unwillingness on his part, but due to the strong resistance he was facing. He even continued his attacks even after the failure became apparent, in order to support the southern attack. Then operation Kutuzov happened, and anything other than a retreat would have caused a German encirclement. The Germans were even so overextended at this point, that another cauldron would have been feasible. That's the opinion of several red army generals who, despite achieving their goals, saw it as a lost opportunity. A two pronged Soviet attack towards Bryansk could have turned the situation into a desaster for the Germans.

    Manstein's Heeresgruppe Süd had much more resources and favourable conditions in the south, but he also demonstrated a significantly greater willingness to weaken other areas in favour of Kursk. Hence why the Heeresgruppe Süd suffered so much more territorial losses as a result of Kursk.
    Yes, but my point is under what circumstances was he favorable to it? I think if Model had his way he would have wanted a stellungskrieg, it is characteristic of Model.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I can't say that Stalin didn't ever get anything right. I don't know of many things that he did get right. And we know for a fact that he carries direct responsibility for many mistakes that happened. It was Stalin personally who, very emotionally and with use of expletives ignored all the warnings (and yes, there were many) about the upcoming German surprise attack. I remember seeing a photo of one of the reports sent to him by Molotov before the invasion, where Molotov warned him about the information received from a spy (that spy was later hanged by the Germans). Stalin handwrote his reply with a green pen on it, cursing, among other things, said spy's mother.

    Then there's Stalin's complete inaction during the first few weeks of the war, and the STAVKA's (hard to say how much of it is Stalin's fault and how much that of the rest of it) many, many, many, many disastrous interferences in the battles. E.g. Lev Mekhlis' actions as the STAVKA representative during the battle of Crimea. He arguably contributed much more to the catastrophical Soviet defeat on the Crimea than Manstein.

    Georgi Shukov claims (ok, his words should be taken with just as much salt as those of his colleagues) to have had to fight Stalin before he was allowed to conduct the Yelnya offensive, which was the first successful Soviet offensive.

    Operation Uranus (which probably wasn't Shukov's idea, but Eremenko's) isn't just remarkable because of its catastrophic defeat of the 6th army, it was also in fact the first Soviet offensive where the STAVKA didn't ruin everything for the front commanders, but listened to them for once and even gave them more time to prepare.
    You can't have victory unless everyone is on the same page. Corps commanders, Army commanders, STAVKA, Stalin etc. Stalin was to blame for a lot of the 1941 problems, but ultimately he did some things right in that year as well. It isn't so true that Stalin was less controlling afterwards, the only thing he did differently was have a better working relationship with his officers and not interfere in their operations. He was still in control of strategy and STAVKA issued officers directly to these armies to oversee and coordinate operations. Stalin's authority and control were still absolute, he just gave them more free reign when he wanted to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I also wouldn't say that Hitler had that many ideas himself. I don't know of any, to be frank. But he was good at listening to his staff and choosing which idea he'd endorse.

    Halder was probably responsible for the German defeats like no other. It's funny how he got to rewrite history afterwards. He was, for example, the one who suppressed the logistician's warnings about Unternehmen Barbarossa and made sure they weren't heard by e.g. Hitler. They basically predicted what happened for real. Germany being able to conduct offensives for a couple hundred km's before having to stop, because their supply lines can't keep up. That happened to the Germans more than once.

    But the main factor why the Germans were far more effective than the allies (not only the Soviets) in the war, was due to the higher ups listening to the field commanders and giving them a lot of flexibility (Auftragstaktik).
    Hitler was the one who first advocated for the Silesia thrust in 1939 and the Ardennes thrust in 1940. He also took over the Scandinavia campaigns in 1940 and the Balkans campaign in 1941. The fact is that OKH wasn't allowed to carry out any strategic planning after they submitted their repeat of the Schlieffen Plan. Instead Hitler used them as workers, to organize operational plans.

    The irony of it all is that Halder claimed credit for German successes, especially 1940, even though he was the one that almost screwed it up on multiple occasions. He was also directly responsible for the disaster of Operation Typhoon and largely the reason for the German defeat at Stalingrad (if not actually solely responsible).

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I can't say that I know much about the Italians. It always seemed to me that their command was a mess from the very top to bottom.
    Yeah, we shouldn't. But Japan is also interesting because of the very strong conflict between the army and the navy with completely opposite goals and agendas. So basically you have two high commands where the others had more or less one.

    Yep. We two are in total agreement on that one. Though he did hold some dumb opinions even while on command, and his complete disregard of strategic circumstances predates his post war memoirs.
    Mussolini made a lot of bad calls but he also made some decent ones. It is kind of hard to look at Mussolini objectively because of the existing narrative that all dictators are dumb and don't listen to their subordinates. That and Italy is often overlooked. Plus we have the same issue with officers making their own narratives post-war. The fact is that the Italian High Command was relatively incapable, Pietro Badoglio being one of the worst. Ugo Cavallero was better but not by a lot, and he had the habit of poisoning Mussolini's mind with Italian chauvinism. So Cavallero ended up pissing off the Germans in more than one occasion. Ironic that the Italians seem so butt hurt at the Germans, when the Germans bent in every way possible to accommodate the Italians. Even supported their idiotic schemes. Albeit both Cavallero and Mussolini were against 2nd Alamein, and it was largely Rommel who pushed for it and misrepresented the situation on the ground to have it accepted (or his intel was ridiculously bad I'm not sure). A lot of Italy's misgivings were due to inept staff officers mismanaging the war effort or screwing up years before the war even began, such as the restructuring of the army or not having capable tanks.

    Japan is another beast altogether. People who complain that German command structures made no sense would have an aneurism if they saw Japan. Who was in command of what, when? You have the Supreme War Council, Imperial Headquarters and the War Ministry. The Prime Minister is always butting heads with these. It is unclear what role the Emperor played if any. Then on the ground you have marshals who command the "Expeditionary Armies" which are divided into Area Armies, and those are divided into Armies. But the way they did it there wasn't much clarification as to what Area Army or Army had control where (especially in China). Then you have many of the Army generals taking matters into their own hands and disregarding the many layers of command (largely explains the ass whooping at Imphal). Not to mention the many organizations like the Home Defense Army, the various Expeditionary Armies, the Kwantung Army and the lack of any clear doctrine or ideology. If you look at these campaigns various generals are always being removed and sent to duties in Japan or Manchuria where they sat out much of the war. I don't really know why this was tbh. More over there is just a lack of sources available to us as to what was happening and why. What I do know is that many of the history books written in the West about WW2 Japan are utter trash. More research is definitely required.
    Last edited by Lord Oda Nobunaga; August 08, 2019 at 01:47 AM.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

  11. #31

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Can you tell me what your goal would have been with that Stellungskrieg? Bleed the enemy to death?

    I'm not sure about the STAVKA's role at Kiev, would have to read up on that. But given many, many other pointless counter attacks were their orders or those of their representatives, I don't think it'd be that much of a guess to say they ordered those as well. But I gave you a prime example with Lev Mekhlis already. The STAVKA and the polit comissariat's role in the red army were desastrous for it.

    Stalin did harm the red army a lot, and there's no doubt about that. How much of it is actually his fault and how much of it that of his subordinates, is of course debatable.

    But at the very least the decision to completely ignore and even threaten those warning of an impeding German assault was entirely his and cost the Soviet Union dearly. I'd go as far as to say that, had the Soviet Union prepared, it's very much doubtful that the Germans would have made anywhere near as much progress as they ultimately did.

    And his style of leadership also undoubtedly had its detrimental effect. It was not conducive in any way to foster creative problem solvers, but rather established a tyranny of yes-sayers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  12. #32
    Praefectus
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    6,106

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Can you tell me what your goal would have been with that Stellungskrieg? Bleed the enemy to death?

    I'm not sure about the STAVKA's role at Kiev, would have to read up on that. But given many, many other pointless counter attacks were their orders or those of their representatives, I don't think it'd be that much of a guess to say they ordered those as well. But I gave you a prime example with Lev Mekhlis already. The STAVKA and the polit comissariat's role in the red army were desastrous for it.

    Stalin did harm the red army a lot, and there's no doubt about that. How much of it is actually his fault and how much of it that of his subordinates, is of course debatable.

    But at the very least the decision to completely ignore and even threaten those warning of an impeding German assault was entirely his and cost the Soviet Union dearly. I'd go as far as to say that, had the Soviet Union prepared, it's very much doubtful that the Germans would have made anywhere near as much progress as they ultimately did.

    And his style of leadership also undoubtedly had its detrimental effect. It was not conducive in any way to foster creative problem solvers, but rather established a tyranny of yes-sayers.
    In 1941 Stalin was four years into a five year plan to reform the army. The purges in 1937 cleaned house but also eradicated a lot of talent.

    The cost was paralysing political interference for commissars and inexperienced yes men as officers, but the payoff was (AFAIK) zero assassination plots. In the course of the war my impression is Stalin went from idiotic interference (In 1941 "don't shoot back its just provocation') and political control to giving his generals their head.

    I think Hitler's pact with the Army meant he couldn't clean house as thoroughly. He murdered Schliecher (who was also a politician) and pushed out Blomburg and Fritzch but the closest he came to a purge was during the actual bomb plot in 1944, very late in the day. During the war he went from taking credit for operations (as in France) to IIRC issuing company level order at Stalingrad, a very steep gradient of interference.

    The leadership styles of the two evil monsters were almost a mirror image, with trust and professionalism growing in the Red Army from 1937-1945 and declining in the Wehrmacht from 1933-1945.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  13. #33
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Colfax WA, neat I have a barn and 49 acres - I have 2 horses, 15 chickens - but no more pigs
    Posts
    12,799

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Well change of direction. I can't argue with the OP points 1 and 6 -given the narrow focus. But I think you can ague against 6 in that Hitler was the reason Germany faced a no good option situation in 1943 and seems to have collectively (excluding post war re casting by people still alive) opted for the general sense of the least worst thing to if doing nothing was not an option. But having failed to have a second France incident it is not hindsight to say as soon as Russia managed a counter attack in the winter of 41/42 that Germany should have focused every aspect of production , manpower and every other resource it had into the only decisive front it had open to it. The Sportpalast speech should have taken place in December 41, not almost 2 years later. That is on Hitler and his cronies, and that is why Germany found itself where it was in 43. I'll admit The IJN's hideously bad idea to attack midway (both as an objective and in implementation) certainly cut down on German breathing space outside of its control. But in the long view the Hitler is the ultimate architect of the situation that caused the situation in 43.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  14. #34

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    The central point of the OP's argument is a contradiction; he argues that the German military was doomed irrespective of Citadel (which is essentially true), but at the same time claims that the operation wasn't a mistake. The only way his argument makes sense is if one assumes that the pointless elongation of the war can be considered as a success from the German perspective.

  15. #35

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    The central point of the OP's argument is a contradiction; he argues that the German military was doomed irrespective of Citadel (which is essentially true), but at the same time claims that the operation wasn't a mistake. The only way his argument makes sense is if one assumes that the pointless elongation of the war can be considered as a success from the German perspective.
    I'm going to quote myself:
    Quote Originally Posted by Point 2 in the OP
    A failure/defeat doesn’t automatically mean it was a mistake. It only becomes one if you can prove there was a viable alternative to the action taken. What alternative was there to Unternehmen Zitadelle?
    Quote Originally Posted by Point 3 in the OP
    In this case, the goal of the German commanders wasn’t to just delay the Untergang of the Third Reich, it was to WIN the war. When this is considered, the cost benefit analysis changes immediately in favour of Zitadelle NOT having been a mistake. Even though a success of Unternehmen Zitadelle was unlikely, that small chance of success was still better than no chance of success.
    It's always easier to misrepresent others than to build your own case, but I want you to try regardless: Why makes Citadel a mistake in your opinion?
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  16. #36

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I'm going to quote myself:


    It's always easier to misrepresent others than to build your own case, but I want you to try regardless: Why makes Citadel a mistake in your opinion?
    You said it yourself: the German military was doomed no matter what it did. If the German High Command believed - and I'm not convinced that they really did - that they could save the Third Reich then they were clearly mistaken in thinking so.

  17. #37

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    So in your opinion no matter what they'd done would have been a mistake.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  18. #38

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    So in your opinion no matter what they'd done would have been a mistake.
    Immediately surrendering to the western allies was the only correct military move in 1943.

  19. #39

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    That's not a military move though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Gilligan
    I can't think of a movie where I like it that the bad guy gets dumb, because it's like I want the bad guy to be smart smart smart, so the good guy has to be even smarter!
    Please stop using politics as an excuse for bad writing.
    That being said: A deep philosophical take about god, Nietzsche, Marx & faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    So deep!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    A polished masterpiece!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Hey! I never said any of those things!

  20. #40

    Default Re: No, Unternehmen Zitadelle was not a German mistake, and no, it definitely wasn't Hitler's fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    That's not a military move though.
    Well the NSDAP was never going to surrender, but the military could have.

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •