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Old December 28th, 2017, 08:26 AM   #11
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To refocus the discussion

Population numbers 1939 (in million)

USSR : 170

Germany: 87
Italy: 56
Romania: 16
Hungary: 9.1
Croatia: 4.3
Finland: 3.7
Slovakia: 3.5
Total Axis: 179.6

(Bulgaria 6.5 but did not really participate against the USSR)

At first glance, population numbers are roughly equal

However the war effort of the axis involved other fronts as well.... While the USSR had to to keep garrisons against Japan and some forces in Central Asia and Iran.

Thus we probably need to apply a correction factor to reflect their respective involvement. I suggest as follows (of course these can be discussed)

USSR: 95%
Germany: 80% (for 41 and 42, it goes down with time)
Italy: 10% (and 0% starting end 43)
Rumania : 100%
Hungary: 100%
Finland: 100%
Croatia: 50%
Slovakia: 50%

That would give 108 for the axis and 161 for the USSR

Not a huge advantage for the USSR , considering that a significant portion of its territory was occupied.. .In addition up to a million soviet citizens served on the axis side... Plus the axis benefited from various volunteers (including the spanish blue divisions) but then so did the soviets (for example there were polish divisions later on)
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Old December 28th, 2017, 09:21 AM   #12
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A quick survey of the draft laws in effect in various countries reveals that all, or at least most, countries authorized the drafting of men up to about age 50 or so, but I suspect that in the US and probably most other countries it was easier for a man in his 30s or 40s to get a deferment. The Soviet Union probably gave few deferments. The Soviets also used women in combat more frequently than other countries.
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Old December 28th, 2017, 01:19 PM   #13
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800,000 women were enlisted in the Red Army during the war.
In the 1930s, the USSR was preparing for a war perceived as inevitable and young women were called upon as men to master aviation, parachuting and shooting.
Sometimes women's access to weapons is an exception; they are second-class combatants, soldiers by default often assigned to the rear of the front or in anti-aircraft batteries.
It is, of course, about mobilizing women to replace men.
In the USSR, four days after the German invasion, the Pravda of 26 June 1941 titled:"Women, sisters and daughters replace their husbands, brothers and fathers in factories and kolkhozes".
The State Committee for the Defence of the USSR (GKO) adopts a series of measures aimed at replacing men with women in non-combatant functions, in order to be able to send men to the front.
Assigned primarily to women in the army: In addition to stewardship (kitchen, laundry room), secretarial services and communications (radio, telephone operators), two functions appear to be specifically reserved for women in the USSR: health and anti-aircraft defence.
An armed force of 162,000 women is expected to be deployed in 1943, but the project will be abandoned due to lack of manpower in industry and farming.
Security support units exist but are rare.


Click the image to open in full size.

With regard to Men
According to some estimates 29,500,000 men were mobilized in the Red Army during the war.
That is to say an average of more than 500,000 men a month !!! .
This estimate is difficult to check.
To this figure must be added the approximately 5,500,000 men who were already active in 1941.
All these men were not part of the active units, several hundred thousand of them were assigned to the service units (rail transport, internal security, civilian personnel of the army, medical unit...) or others were in training (up to 1 million in 1943).
Here are a few figures of the numbers, some of which have been found on a forum, and others are from Glantz's estimates, for each year of war.

What was the peak strength of the Soviet forces at WW2 ? - Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History
"For example here is distribution of the Army forces as of 1 January 1942:
On the front - 4 354 523
Far East - 1 133 034
Reserve armies an units in transfer - 223 490
Territorial Air Defense (outside the front area) - 162 232
Airborne units - 119 168
Air forces (outside the front) - 148 563
Rocket units - 1 930
Internal military districts, Central Asia and Caucasus - 2 414 161
including military schools, courses, replacement and training units - 1 256 997
Total 8 557 101 men (Army only)
As of 1 January 1943:
On the Front - 6 191 350
Far East - 1 131 696
Reserve armies and units in transfer - 343 071
Territorial Air Defense (outside the front area) - 92 344
Airborne units - 91 698
Air forces (outside the front) - 211 388
Rocket units - 6 400
Internal military districts, Central Asia and Caucasus - 1 932 995
including military schools, courses, replacement and training units - 1 422 659
Total 10 000 942 men (Army only)
In the same way the Navy maintained some 150-200,000 men in the Pacific against Japan plus dozens of thousands men in schools, training units, depots, workshops, headquarters etc."


Comparative strengths of combat forces, Eastern Front, 1941-1945

June 1941
Axis Forces: 3,050,000 Germans, 67,000 (northern Norway), 500,000 Finns, 150,000 Romanians, 62,000 Italians
Total: 3,829,000 (80% of the German Army in the east)

Soviet forces: 2,680,000 (Western border of USSR), 5,500,000 (overall), 12,000,000 (mobilizable).

June 1942
Axis Forces: 2,600,000 Germans, 90,000 (northern Norway), 430,000 Finns, 600,000 Romanians, Hungarians, and Italians
Total: 3,720,000 (80% of the German Army in the east)

Soviet Forces: 5,313,000 (front), 383,000 (hospital)
Total: 9,350,000

July 1943
Axis Forces: 3,403,000 Germans, 80,000 (northern Norway); 400,000 Finns, 150,000 Romanians and Hungarians
Total: 3,933,000 (63% of the German Army in the east)

Soviet Forces: 6,724,000 (front), 446,445 (hospital),
Total: 10,300,000

June 1944
Axis Forces: 2,460,000 Germans, 60,000 (northern Norway); 300,000 Finns, 550,000 Romanians and Hungarians
Total: 3,370,000 (62% of the German Army in the east)

Soviet Forces (front): 6,425,000

Jan. 1945
Axis Forces: 2,230,000 Germans, 100,000 Hungarians
Total: 2,330,000 (60% of the German Army in the east)

Soviet Forces (front): 6,532,000 (360,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)

Apr 1945
Axis Forces: 1,960,000

Soviet Forces (front): 6,410,000 (450,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)

kind regards,

Last edited by phil1904; December 28th, 2017 at 01:36 PM.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 12:10 AM   #14

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The Red Army was the biggest pre-war army. And expanded from there, there's a lot of peasants to enlist

I would suggest a major factor is that the Russians were forbidden from retreating in due course. Its a big advantage all in all.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 01:20 AM   #15

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As a matter of fact the Wehrmacht had numerical superiority until 1942
the Soviet formation were consumed at a great rate never giving them the chance to build up a strategic reserve until late 1942
most soviet divisions were barely 10.000 men often half that
conscription was ferociously enforced
women fought , and well , they were present in all the branches either as auxiliaries or as front line
hundred of thousands of gulag Zek were offered to volunteer , which they did
there is some uncertainty about the composition of Murmansk "Polar division" , reputedly composed largely of camp personnel and inmates
Rokosovsky 16th Army defending Moscow was largely made up of convicts

( After the war this led to a murderous conflict between those who did and those who steadfastly upheld the Zek ethos of refusing to collaborate with the authorities , it was called the "bitches war" )

when liberating any new area , all able men were drafted , during the battle of Berlin with the troop number severely depleted , some concentration camp inmates were drafted too and fought in their striped clothes

the Soviet Stavka was careful to thin out the inactive part of fronts to create a local massive superiority , of all the German generals only Henrici did the same
Hitler commented that if he had a full strength panzer Army ,Model was the best attacking commander
but if he had only a few cooks and music band men to hold a front Henrici was the best
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:40 PM   #16
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Indeed @sparky

The year 1941 was a particularly difficult one. Iin addition to 3,000,000 prisoners, the Red Army lost 2,663,000 soldiers in combat (kia, mia, wia).
In April 1942, Stalin and the State Defense Committee approved the recruitment of women for male combat fighting in April 1942.

Since 1925, young Soviet women have been receiving training in order to establish a possible requisition in case of conflict. All women between the ages of 18 and 40 are affected and therefore constitute a reserve.

In the early weeks of the conflict, female volunteers in the Red Army remained few in number, as they were often discouraged from joining the army, but the catastrophic situation in the USSR changed the situation.

it can be said that the cause of the recruitment of women into the Red Army is due to:
1/ Compensating catastrophic losses

2/Soviet ideology: being in principle the equal of men, the mobilization of women on the front lines at combat posts is not a problem, unlike Nazi Germany and Western democracies.

3/ Shame soldiers to encourage them to redouble their efforts.
They were highlighted by Soviet propaganda, even though the numbers of women combatants represented only a small proportion of the women enlisted in the Red Army.

Some female soldiers are assigned to positions which, according to their duties, do not make them fighters (radios or nurses). Women make up 40% of the medical staff at the front line.
But sometimes it was necessary for them to defend themselves.

One can take the example of nurse Goulia Koroleva, 20, who served in the 214th rifle division of the 24th army in 1942. It was posthumously decorated with the Order of the Red Flag, and was cited for having "brought back from the line of fire more than a hundred wounded soldiers and killed fifteen fascists with his hand" (possibly exaggerated by the propaganda but which undoubtedly contains a part of truth!).
Another nurse, Natalia Kashnevskaya, a member of a rifle regiment of the guard, brought 20 wounded in one day and "threw grenades at the Germans".

The casualties among medical personnel at the front were heavy, especially in the battle of Stalingrad.
The 308th rifle division, had brought in a number of his female doctors. When war correspondent questioned one of them named Liolia Novikova, she replied:"Out of eighteen female nurses, there are only three of us".

Also during the Battle of Stalingrad, most anti-aircraft batteries were served by young women, often from communist youth (Komsomol). They stopped firing at the bombers to fire at the German tanks when they appeared at the start of the battle.
One of them, named Macha, was credited with nine strokes to the goal. The bravery of the women of the anti-aircraft batteries supported by mortar batteries.

The bravery of the women of the batteries is confirmed by the reports of the 16th German Armoured Division:"Until the end of the afternoon, declared one of them, we had to suddenly make thirty-seven positions of anti-aircraft guns served by women of remarkable tenacity. The fight did not stop until they were all destroyed".
The survivors were evacuated on 25 September beyond the Volga River and assigned to other batteries on the eastern bank of the river.

While some Red Army women served as radios, nurses or in anti-aircraft batteries, others served as airwomen or snipers.


Following the immense losses of the Soviet Air Force, three all-female aviation regiments were formed.
One of them was the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, which distinguished itself during the Battle of Stalingrad. As its name indicates, this regiment was specialized in night bombing. The female pilots were flying obsolete Po-2 (or U-2 according to references) biplanes and had become accustomed to flying them at low altitude over German lines during the night, and to shutting down their engines when they dropped their 400-kilogram bomb loads. The Germans nicknamed the female pilots "witches of the night", a nickname later taken up by the other side.

Otherwise, two fighter regiments, the 586th and 587th, were created during the war.
At the 586th, Lydia Litvyak, who shot down 12 planes, was a prime example. The two fighter regiments integrated men into their ranks after the death of Marina Raskova, founder of the 586th and 588th regiments, in an accident.

Lydya Litvyak, ace of the Soviet Air Force
Click the image to open in full size.

Regarding women snipers, a number of snipers were already known for their sniper skills.
This was the case of Liudmila Pavlichenko, who abducted 309 enemy soldiers from June 1941 to June 1942.
Roza Shanina, for example, killed 54 enemy soldiers in 1944 and 1945. Women were considered more resistant to the cold than men.

Roza Shanina, she died at 20
Click the image to open in full size.

Many other examples can be quoted.
Kind regards,

Last edited by phil1904; December 29th, 2017 at 11:43 PM.
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Old December 30th, 2017, 02:14 AM   #17
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To simplfy the question, although axis had greater manpower (including benelux, France)...
The SU had cheaper and more effective labour force.
French germán people needed sugar/butter ect..
German soldiers needed fronturlaub
Ect ect
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Old December 30th, 2017, 03:34 AM   #18

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The sheer intensity of the struggle was awesome
during the first assault on Stalingrad , the railway station changed hand 15 times in a day
both side were throwing men to take the summit of Mamaiev Kurgan while it was being continuously shelled by both sides ,
during the Kursk battle on the northern side of the pincer , the town of Ponyri was assaulted by three divisions and defended with what a survivor of Stalingrad called the worst fighting he ever saw .

compared to the gentleman like fighting on the western and African front this was a completely different type of fighting , it was Total War at a Wagnerian level
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Old December 31st, 2017, 01:47 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Karl XII View Post
1. During operation barbarossa they lost millions of troops

How was the soviet union able to overcome this?
Originally Posted by sparky View Post
The sheer intensity of the struggle was awesome
... this was a completely different type of fighting , it was Total War at a Wagnerian level

Here is a terrifying testimony of a soldier from the Infantry-Groß-Deutschland Regiment who is part of the 46th PanzerKorps (general Von Vietinghoff) which itself depends on the 2nd Panzergruppe (general Guderian).
It dates from the beginning of the conflict on the Ostfront and shows one of the reasons why the Soviets had time to mobilize their troops.
The fighting spirit and the bravery of Soviet soldiers were truly impressive. Their sacrifices, if they had the inconvenience of terrible losses, also had the advantage of delaying, worn out the Wehrmacht and disrupting its plans.

"I will never forget the first massive Soviet infantry attack we had to deal with as soon as we arrived on the front in August 1941....The first signs of an imminent attack began with a short artillery preparation that fell far behind our lines... At a great distance from our positions came lines of men dressed in brown uniforms.
The first one crosses a small stream followed at 200 meters by a second.
A third, fourth and finally a fifth wave came out literaly from the earth.....
At a distance of 600 meters we opened fire and all the groups of the first wave were cut down, except for a few survivors who continued to move forward... The second wave managed to get closer to our center not without suffering heavy casualties; the men advanced painfully crossing the bodies of those who had fallen before. On an order, they jumped up and ran away pushing a dark, cavernous Hurrah, which seemed endless..... "

"The first three waves were finally destroyed by our fire.
But the survivors continued to progress as they crawled to hit officers or machine guns.
The fourth wave progressed even slower, hampered by the bodies covering the land.
Unconscious of the dangers, some of our men would shoot the assailants standing on their feet.
The machine guns were overheating and the tubes had to be changed... An hour later, we experienced another assault of five successive waves. The number of our adversaries seemed inexhaustible. "

Click the image to open in full size.

"The Russians renewed these assaults for three days and even during the night, eventually retreating and allowing us to advance for two days without opposition.
This series of attacks exhausted us. To tell you the truth, it even frightened us.
During these days, many of us began to understand that the war against the Soviet Union would be much bigger than expected, and a feeling of discouragement linked to the fear of the unknown invades us."

Source: Philippe Masson "History of the German Army"/ Chapter: Moral and Political.

Click the image to open in full size.

On August 4,1941, in the presence of Von Bock and Hoth, Hitler told Guderian:"If I had known that the figures... that you quoted in your book (Achtung Panzer) corresponded to reality, I would not, I believe, have started this war."

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