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

Nov 2010
1,251
Bordeaux
#31
What occasions specifically?

I don't think this is true. Probably 90% of the examples given are incorrect.
On many occasions, from Stalingrad onwards, and more and more often as the end of the war drew nearer.
Although desperate from the start, the defense of the eastern provinces of the reich in 1945 was made even more chaotic by Hitler's constant interterfering in tactical decisions. Private corresondance of German commanders is particularly telling in this respect.
 
Aug 2014
103
New York, USA
#32
On many occasions, from Stalingrad onwards, and more and more often as the end of the war drew nearer.
Although desperate from the start, the defense of the eastern provinces of the reich in 1945 was made even more chaotic by Hitler's constant interterfering in tactical decisions. Private corresondance of German commanders is particularly telling in this respect.
While Hitler is partially responsible for the fate of the 6th army, given the advice he was given by his generals, I don't think he was fully to blame for it at all.
Remember:
1. When asking whether Luftwaffe can supply the 6th, he was reassured by Luftwaffe generals that they can do it (not just Goring).
2. A lot of early WW2 history about these events was coming from Manstein and Halder. We now know Manstein simply lied in his book "Lost Victories", and blamed the decision on "timid" Paulus and Hitler, fully knowing both men couldn't defend themselves (Hitler was dead and Paulus was in Soviet prison). In fact, Manstein advised Hitler to not order the early breakout of the 6th army. We also know that "the military uber-genius panzer maneuverer" Manstein never even gave an order for Paulus to breakout, despite claiming so in his book...We also know that Paulus was repeatedly begging Manstein to authorize and support his breakout, instead he was told that if he disobeyed orders and broke out he would be relieved of command. He was repeatedly reassured by Manstein that "the help was coming".
 
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Nov 2010
1,251
Bordeaux
#33
While Hitler is partially responsible for the fate of the 6th army, given the advice he was given by his generals, I don't think he was fully to blame for it at all.
Remember:
1. When asking whether Luftwaffe can supply the 6th, he was reassured by Luftwaffe generals that they can do it (not just Goring).

indeed, but commanders in Stalingrad were far from convinced but he wouldn't listen.


2. A lot of early WW2 history about these events was coming from Manstein and Halder. We now know Manstein simply lied in his book "Lost Victories", and blamed the decision on "timid" Paulus and Hitler, fully knowing both men couldn't defend themselves (Hitler was dead and Paulus was in Soviet prison). In fact, Manstein advised Hitler to not order the early breakout of the 6th army. We also know that "the military uber-genius panzer maneuverer" Manstein never even gave an order for Paulus to breakout, despite claiming so in his book...We also know that Paulus was repeatedly begging Manstein to authorize and support his breakout, instead he was told that if he disobeyed orders and broke out he would be relieved of command. He was repeatedly reassured by Manstein that "the help was coming".
Indeed, and I do not contend this is true. But I wasn't referring to Stalingrad specifically, more to the part of the war after the Russians set foot on German soil.
 
Jan 2015
5,176
Ontario, Canada
#34
On many occasions, from Stalingrad onwards, and more and more often as the end of the war drew nearer.
Although desperate from the start, the defense of the eastern provinces of the reich in 1945 was made even more chaotic by Hitler's constant interterfering in tactical decisions. Private corresondance of German commanders is particularly telling in this respect.
That is why I was asking for specific incidents. A lot of the examples given do not support the claims.

I was thinking of 1 or 2 specific incidents that could be cited. Those being Hitler ordering von Rundstedt to take and hold Rostov in 1941. When von Rundstedt attacked Rostov with Kleist's Panzer Group the city withstood attack. Hitler desperately wanted to take Rostov in order to prepare for Case Blue the next year, but he also needed to reduce Odessa and Sevastopol and so wanted Rundstedt to encircle the Soviet armies there between the Romanians and the Don River. Franz Halder wanted to shorten the front from Kharkov to Mariupol, but Hitler wanted to push the front directly to the Don River, as that would be more defensible anyway. Rundstedt took Rostov at the end of November but upon a Soviet counter-attack advocated for a withdrawal back to the Mariupol-Kharkov front as Kleist's panzers were exposed. Rundstedt also mentioned logistical reasons and wanted to concentrate more troops to push into the Don, in his view it was too risky while simultaneously having the highest concentration of troops in Operation Typhoon. However Hitler reprimanded Rundstedt for having advocated for Operation Typhoon in the first place and dismissed him for being too cautious, replacing him with Reichenau. It was Reichenau who affirmed Rundstedt's orders for Kleist to retreat. Ultimately Hitler admitted that all things considered Rundstedt was technically correct since Kleist would have a difficult time holding his position. But it is worth pointing out that having been unable to push to the Don and take Rostov, Stalin won a major strategic victory. Defending the Don River had always been Stalin's strategic objective. Hitler also followed this up with reducing Odessa and sending an army to take the Crimea, so holding Rostov might have failed but he certainly didn't waste any time. In addition to this, had Operation Typhoon not been carried out by Walther von Brauchitsch and Franz Halder etc, Hitler would have had sufficient troops to simultaneously take Odessa, Sevastopol, Rostov and successfully push to the Don.

The other one I was thinking of was in 1944 when Hitler ordered the garrisons in Belarus to hold out at all costs (in Minsk, Bobrusk and Vitebsk). I suppose this was a bad call but really what other choice did they have? They could have retreated but retreat to where exactly? The Germans didn't stand a chance in Operation Bagration. Even when Model was sent to form a front line somewhere he utterly failed and two whole army groups disintegrated or were pushed back into Poland. In so far as resources were concerned, the Germans didn't stand a chance either. Really all they could have done was hold the line, where exactly can be debated but that is about it.

Now for Stalingrad, Luftwaffe officers had told Hitler that they could airlift supplies to Paulus within the city. Manstein was also adamant that he could relieve the 6th Army, though in his memoirs he claims the opposite. It was not until that final hour so to speak, that he completely changed his mind and used 6th Army as a shield with which to retreat with Army Group A and what remained of Army Group B back across the Don. However I am not convinced that Case Blue and Stalingrad were doomed to failure. At the time the Germans still had the front line advantage. For a reason that I still can't work out OKH did not provide Army Groups A or B with sufficient reserves. For some odd reason they had Romanian, Italian and Hungarian divisions, partly equipped by the Germans, to cover 6th Army's flanks. Why would they do this instead of sending German divisions? It boggles the mind! I suspect the reason was because Franz Halder and the Wehrmacht officers were still obsessing over Moscow in 1942 and wanted to send reinforcements to Rzhev, but also to plan some sort of offensive towards Moscow, as they had done in 1941. Army Group B should have received significant reinforcements by September or October, after all when the battle of Stalingrad started Paulus was already hard pressed, and the Soviets had attempted to outflank his position multiple times. Even accounting for the incredible losses incurred during Operation Typhoon, the Wehrmacht could have provided Paulus with more support, as they were amassing a significant reserve since Hitler took command of the OKH after December 20, 1941. So what we know about Stalingrad doesn't make any sense. Everyone wants to fixate merely on the city fighting in Stalingrad, when the strategic context was so much bigger.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,181
Sydney
#35
For Bagration , as for the Stalingrad counter-attack , the fault rest squarely on the miserable German military intelligence
Hitler had only his instinct to go on , the generals were lying to him , the intel was rubbish and his first reaction was " hold the key transport nodes"
which was perfectly understandable ,
he approved withdrawal when it was obvious but if there was a doubt in his mind ,
that was "hold fast and wait for the cavalry"
in late 1944 he pushed for counter-attacks which were needed and successful ( sometimes )

withdrawing in the spring of 1945 didn't make any sense , withdraw where ?
there were some very good defense line on the North South rivers

For memory ,
Stalin with the Germans getting within sight of Moscow got a request by one of his front commander to relocate his headquarters further back
he asked if they had spades , "spades , why , yes we have spades"
good , if you withdraw , you can dig your own grave !
 
Jan 2015
5,176
Ontario, Canada
#36
That is a good point. He did in fact allow withdrawals from Vitebsk, Minsk and Bobrusk when it became clear that a counter attack, or any attempts to reconstitute the line, were impossible. But they were encircled and could not withdraw by then.

Where as in 1945 the Germans had nowhere else to hold the line. In was Vistula or bust, then it was Oder or bust. But by 1945 it was all over, resistance could only be temporary. In spite of this his ordering Steiner to carry out an attack during the Battle of Berlin actually resulted in a minor combat victory. So it isn't like he did nothing at all, or that his control was totally detrimental.
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,121
#37
Without the oil at the caucasus the german commanders could not wage manouver warfare. They had to hold the ground and hope for a miracle. The proud aristocratic german generals who couldnt take responsibility for anything blamed everything that went bad on the guy on top as is always done.
Hitler was actually a remarkably competent general with a innate sense of strategy and had the german generals followed his orders germany likely would have won the war. Hitler knew moscows capture wouldnt win the war and wanted to focus on the caucasus but his generals disobeyed his orders and robbed army group south of the resources to take it.

The Germans had two sources of oil. One was the Ploesti region of Romania, the other an artificial industrial process based on coal. Admittedly this placed pressure on their commanders but when talking about a war of manoever remember that they had stormed across countless hundreds of miles in 1941. Of course the oil fields of the Caucasus were a tempting prize - not only because it made more oil available despite the distance it was to transport, but also to deny the oil to the enemy. However, with a political victory in sight with the capture of Moscow one has to question the decision to turn a major portion of the central forces south toward a campaign that favoured the enemy. One of Hitler's gambles - and another hand he lost.
 
Jan 2015
5,176
Ontario, Canada
#38
The Germans had two sources of oil. One was the Ploesti region of Romania, the other an artificial industrial process based on coal. Admittedly this placed pressure on their commanders but when talking about a war of manoever remember that they had stormed across countless hundreds of miles in 1941. Of course the oil fields of the Caucasus were a tempting prize - not only because it made more oil available despite the distance it was to transport, but also to deny the oil to the enemy. However, with a political victory in sight with the capture of Moscow one has to question the decision to turn a major portion of the central forces south toward a campaign that favoured the enemy. One of Hitler's gambles - and another hand he lost.
Neither Romanian oil, Hungarian oil or synthetic oil production were sufficient to meet Germany's military and domestic needs. When the Germans mobilized for total war in 1942, quite painfully, one of the first things they had to do was ration civilian consumption of oil in order to operate the war time industry. They also had to decommission vehicles and rely on rail and horses. Many ships as well could not be employed for surface raiding due to a lack of oil. In 1944 the Allies had destroyed synthetic production with aerial bombardment, but synthetic oil had only been enough to hold the line and to fuel their planes. Not to mention that synthetic oil was of a lower octane so not at all efficient. By contrast the Soviet Union was one of the three largest oil producers in the world, the Caucasus oil production and infrastructure dwarfed that of Ploesti by several times.

The capture of Moscow was not a foregone conclusion. Usually one gets this impression from people like Guderian et all. But in actuality Moscow was not going to fall in 1941, without securing the flanks in Kalinin and Tula there was no way to actually attack Moscow or encircle Soviet forces there. So really these guys were gambling on a frontal assault. Where as all these generals were commanding Operation Typhoon, it was Hitler who then took command of his own campaign in the south in order to achieve strategic gains. Notice that in these memoirs and accounts of Operation Typhoon Hitler's direct actions are rarely mentioned. That is because Hitler left them to their own devices and personally took command of the effort in the south, overseeing the push across the Dneipr towards the Don and ordering the invasion of Crimea. Crimea was a major strategic position because it gave the Soviets a position from which to carry out aerial attacks against Ploesti as well as naval bases to raid German logistics. Not only did Hitler succeed for the most part, but these generals who were given free reign utterly failed to accomplish their aims.

Both southward campaigns in 1941 and 1942 actually made sense. The Germans had not secured their positions in the south by the time of Operation Typhoon, it made sense to secure the Dneipr and the Don Rivers. Especially if the goal was a push into the Caucasus the next year. Part of the reason Case Blue was postponed was because Sevastopol was still holding out in 1942. By contrast defending Moscow was considered secondary to defending the Caucasus. Which explains why Stalin desperately tried to defend Kiev early on, but also the Don at the same time as Operation Typhoon. As has been admitted by Soviet generals, losing Moscow would not be as serious to the Soviet Union's strategic efforts. Also taking into account that the main Soviet counter attacks in 1943 and 1944 started in the south rather than the north, in spite of operational concerns which would give precedence to the northern sector. But either way the Germans had no way to take Moscow in 1941, it just wasn't feasible and Operation Typhoon was wasted effort which resulted in crippling casualties for the Germans. Even if they did take Moscow it wouldn't have seriously hurt Soviet efforts anyway, the Germans had no way to actually capitalize on that. The focus really should have been on destroying the 58 Soviet divisions defending against Operation Typhoon, but that wasn't possible as the Soviets did not expose all of those division west of Vyazma.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,181
Sydney
#39
The oil ressources were
Ploesti ..Romania , the Estonian shales , Hungarian fields , polish soaks near Bóbrka Field , Alsace near Pechelbronn and of course the synthetic oil production
Hitler was always very protective of those resources
he insisted on holding the Narva front to protect the Estonian production , holding the Crimea to shield Ploesti
further , he ordered several attacks , Alsace (winter wind) and Hungary ( spring awakening) to recover them
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,669
Georgia, USA
#40
Without the oil at the caucasus the german commanders could not wage manouver warfare. They had to hold the ground and hope for a miracle. The proud aristocratic german generals who couldnt take responsibility for anything blamed everything that went bad on the guy on top as is always done.
Hitler was actually a remarkably competent general with a innate sense of strategy and had the german generals followed his orders germany likely would have won the war. Hitler knew moscows capture wouldnt win the war and wanted to focus on the caucasus but his generals disobeyed his orders and robbed army group south of the resources to take it.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Invading the USSR was a colossal mistake....made all the more worse because Britain was still fighting in the West.

Opening up a two front war was the last thing Germany needed...the major lesson of WWI - do not fight a war on two fronts.
That was Hitler's fault and his blind obsession with invading the USSR

Implementing the "final solution" - the Holocaust whilst in the middle of the greatest war of all time was incredibly stupid

Moscow was always the target for Barbarossa. Hitler diverted the effort to encircle Red Army formations in the Ukraine.
Taking Moscow may have won the war and it may not have.

Most East Europeans and even Russians hated Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party...yet instead of harnessing that support, he unleashed the SS on them.

Everything after December 1941 is inconsequential... that was when the war was lost. The rest of the Great Patriotic War merely decided the timing of Hitler's defeat.


Hitler was an evil man....but thankfully he was also the most stupid commander in modern times.
He is directly responsible for the rise of Nazism...and solely responsible (thankfully) for its fall.

Hitler and competent don't belong in the same dictionary, let alone the same sentence.