How much of the German defeats in the Eastern Front in 1944 to 1945 were due to being outstrategized?

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
14,670
Welsh Marches
#11
I accept the general point, but there were many occasions on which the Generals wanted to make specific tactical or strategic withdrawals, and Hitler prevented to it to the disadvantage of the forces in question; it is a gross oversimplification to say that Hitler was a remarkably competent strategist and the generals merely wanted to cast blame on him for what went wrong, the generals were often right on specific occasions. I suspect that after the failure of Barbarossa, things would have gone better for the Germans if Hitler had been pushed aside and professional soldiers had assumed supreme control. As a result of initial successes achieved in very different circumstances, Hitler had far too much faith in his own genius.
 
Oct 2018
48
Sweden
#12
I accept the general point, but there were many occasions on which the Generals wanted to make specific tactical or strategic withdrawals, and Hitler prevented to it to the disadvantage of the forces in question; it is a gross oversimplification to say that Hitler was a remarkably competent strategist and the generals merely wanted to cast blame on him for what went wrong, the generals were often right on specific occasions. I suspect that after the failure of Barbarossa, things would have gone better for the Germans if Hitler had been pushed aside and professional soldiers had assumed supreme control. As a result of initial successes achieved in very different circumstances, Hitler had far too much faith in his own genius.
I dont think he was a genius, he had no military education but he certainly had a natural understanding of strategy and warfare.
If the focus of german resources were located for fall blau and hitlers generals obeyed him germany likely would have won the war and it certainly made hitler very dissapointed and disstrustful of his generals to a negative extent.
Either way germany could not have won the war after fall blau failed.

Its not unfair to call hitler a competent strategist and the notion that he was an idiot is childish especially when you have in mind that he had no formal education.
He may be the most evil person ever to exist but objectivly he was competent when it comes to warfare and he made many right decisions for every bad one.
 
Jul 2018
205
London
#13
From a strategic point of view, the mistake was to underestimate USSR resilience to an all out attack.
Since the war against the USSR didn't end by the first winter, the right thing to do would have been to minimize losses, hold the ground where possible and use it as a bargaining chip for a diplomatic solution. Unfortunately this was incompatible with Nazi ideology ...
 
Dec 2012
114
#14
The Germans lost initiative in winter (because Russians adapted better to it than Germans and german equipment) and after 1942 because they were badly outnumbered (2:1). This is not all. Thanks to the nature of URSS it was quite difficult to get informations, the Germans were no good at it, while the STAVKA took benefit of Allied code breaking and soviet spies as well. So the Soviet command could strip some front sectors and achieve massive superiority where a breaktrough was attempted. So in this way I think the Germans were "outstrategized" as well.

Hitlers was fixated on some economic goods on the land, and wanted to defend other places because of perceived strategic reasons.
He was more flexible otherwise. When on the defensive, his mindframe brought Germany to the loss of the strategic/economic place AND all the armies that were thrown in its defense (or to retake it). In the last days of the war this mindset was no more or less rational in regard to his generals wanting to spare the troops. Trying to get the Hungarian oil wells back, for example, was futile, but without the oil the tanks and trucks would stop and be doomed anyway. But keeping troops marooned in Crimea or Curland was a bad idea because those decisions made it even more difficult for the army in the main front in a period where they still could defend themsleves. The same could be said about throwing more troops in Tunisia in the spring of 1943, the Stalingrad pocket and so on. This said, there's almost one instance (first winter, in front of Moscow) where the order to keep the conquered ground was clever (in some historian's opinion, not everyone's).

So, after losing initiative Wehrmacht was really at a disadvantage (in numbers AND in strategy) and in some cases outsmarted and butchered (Bagration offensive). Tactical German prowess and Soviet horde tactics still made those victories costly for the Russians.
 
Oct 2014
144
In an ultimate "Spirt of the Game" (SOTG) state of
#15
The Germans lost initiative in winter (because Russians adapted better to it than Germans and german equipment) and after 1942 because they were badly outnumbered (2:1). This is not all. Thanks to the nature of URSS it was quite difficult to get informations, the Germans were no good at it, while the STAVKA took benefit of Allied code breaking and soviet spies as well. So the Soviet command could strip some front sectors and achieve massive superiority where a breaktrough was attempted. So in this way I think the Germans were "outstrategized" as well.

Hitlers was fixated on some economic goods on the land, and wanted to defend other places because of perceived strategic reasons.
He was more flexible otherwise. When on the defensive, his mindframe brought Germany to the loss of the strategic/economic place AND all the armies that were thrown in its defense (or to retake it). In the last days of the war this mindset was no more or less rational in regard to his generals wanting to spare the troops. Trying to get the Hungarian oil wells back, for example, was futile, but without the oil the tanks and trucks would stop and be doomed anyway. But keeping troops marooned in Crimea or Curland was a bad idea because those decisions made it even more difficult for the army in the main front in a period where they still could defend themsleves. The same could be said about throwing more troops in Tunisia in the spring of 1943, the Stalingrad pocket and so on. This said, there's almost one instance (first winter, in front of Moscow) where the order to keep the conquered ground was clever (in some historian's opinion, not everyone's).

So, after losing initiative Wehrmacht was really at a disadvantage (in numbers AND in strategy) and in some cases outsmarted and butchered (Bagration offensive). Tactical German prowess and Soviet horde tactics still made those victories costly for the Russians.
I think that a rule of thumb for an offense to succeed is to have a 3-1 advantage. So 2-1 may not be "badly outnumbered".
 
Dec 2012
114
#16
I think that a rule of thumb for an offense to succeed is to have a 3-1 advantage. So 2-1 may not be "badly outnumbered".
On a tactical level, you may attack if you've got 3-1 or more.

But we are on a strategic level. Let's make an example. If you have 50 divisions against 25, that is "just" a 2-1 advantage, but you still can pick a narrow sector of the front where you want to break through, because we are on a strategic level, it's not all troops engaged at the same time in the same place.

Let's say that you divide the front in five sectors where the enemy, for simplicity, has 5 divisions in each one (5 x 5 = 25). Your attacking force keeps four sectors at a bay with a parity or small superiority. Let's say 6 division to 5 enemy ones in the non-active sectors, where they are on defense so you (the attacking general) are sure they can hold. That means in those four sectors you are employing 24 divisions. In the last sector, the breaktrough sector, you can concentrate (50-24) 26 divisions against 5.
Obviously the enemy will try to put some reserves, shift units from nearby sectors and so on, but still you have a strong advantage and probably will give the defender's 5 division a real trashing.

This is an abstract description but I think it showed the concept. 2-1 on a strategic scale is a MASSIVE advantage.

In the east front reality, you can say that after 1941 Germans were holding strong defensive position wherever they could, but not with a lot of troops, so the "non active" sectors (Center and North, this is obviously a simplification) were NOT places in which they could suddenly make some nasty surprises against the Soviets. No sudden conquest of Leningrad or thrust against Moscow, they couldn't. So in the "peaceful" sectors of the front the Soviets kept a relatively low amount of troops as well, concentrating over time a massive superiority on the south. Usually (1942 to mid-1944) the big clash was centered on Ucraine, Caucasus and generally speaking the South. Main offensive and counter-offensive thrusts by Germans and Russians where there. With their high quality mobile troops the Germans were able to attack even when in inferior or barely superior numbers but this didn't last, because Soviets concentrated, from november 1942 on, massive tank armies in small fronts to obtain a crushing superiority in numbers.
Over time the Germans stripped tanks and other formations from Center and North army group to keep the southern armies going until, with the Bagration offensive, the Soviets shifted their main effort against those sectors and, again, they reached massive superiority in several small breaktroughs, repeated many times all over the front, to keep the Germans from creating a new defensive line.

The result was the destruction of Army Group Center, bad losses and isolation of Army Group North.

Given the horde style of soviet attacks, URSS' success was not accomplished without a high blood price. But with inferior numbers and scarce intelligence about enemy moves the Germans couldn't avoid being played this way.
 
Sep 2012
102
#17
By the time point of the OP (1944-45) the Germans were "playing for time", going through the motions in other words.
Nothing would alter the status quo at this point.
In the Spring of 1942 (following Manstein's triumphant campaign in the Crimean peninsular and the decimation of the ill-advised Soviet offensives on the southern axis)....the possibility of a diplomatic solution was certainly there.
Hitler would not even consider this as an option, due to his twisted world view (Weltanschaung), even though he was now at war with the largest economic force on the face of the planet, the USA.
This was the absolute "breaking point" for Nazi ambitions. Many (myself included) would concur that upon the failure of the initial (shock/Barbarossa) assault, the Germans were doomed.
History proved this out.
 
Dec 2012
114
#18
In the Spring of 1942 (following Manstein's triumphant campaign in the Crimean peninsular and the decimation of the ill-advised Soviet offensives on the southern axis)....the possibility of a diplomatic solution was certainly there.
Hitler would not even consider this as an option, due to his twisted world view (Weltanschaung), even though he was now at war with the largest economic force on the face of the planet, the USA.
This was the absolute "breaking point" for Nazi ambitions. Many (myself included) would concur that upon the failure of the initial (shock/Barbarossa) assault, the Germans were doomed.
I concur, the war was probably lost in the winter of 1941.

As far as I know a diplomatic meeting was held at the beginning of 1943 ... Stalin was tired of the allies not opening a second front and wanted out, but with the old border.
Hitler suspected war could be renewed at any moment with terrible build up of forces, and refused.
But this isn't the point of this thread......