Were the Germans bad with military strategy in the world wars?

Jan 2015
5,437
Ontario, Canada
Gifts would be an obvious overstatement, but Stalin and the Soviet Union REALLY banked on Hitler and Nazi-Germany continuing to be in good faith about the new relationship. Even as evidence was mounting Nazi-Germany was preparing to abandon it, and jump the USSR.
Yes at the time of WW2 anyway. However Stalin certainly gained the most out of Molotov-Ribbentrop. It allowed Stalin to carve up much of Eastern Europe. By contrast Hitler only got a free hand in the west and part of Poland. In terms of trade this was part of an existing deal which also benefited Stalin, as he both wanted investments (in any form) and military technology as well as a permanent solution to British Imperialism, which the Germans provided.

This to the point that when the attack came in 1941 the USSR, and Stalin personally, had been willfully blind and ignoring what was about to happen for some time. And it's not as if the Soviet espionage wasn't good enough to find the information. It did. But it didn't fit the politically preferred scenario of Nazi-Germany remaining on friendly terms with the USSR, at least for the time being, and so was ignored. Until the Germans actually attacked.
I don't really agree with this narrative. The reason Stalin seemed to be caught unawares was specifically due to the fact that the Soviets had such a deep and invasive intelligence network. Knowing this the Germans purposely spread all manner of misinformation and for this reason the Soviets did not know what was happening. At the same time that the Soviets were receiving hints of Operation Barbarossa, they also received hints that this was part of a scheme by the Germans to test Soviet defenses as well as hints that Hitler was planning to go through with Operation Sealion. In actuality the Soviets had no idea what was happening because they had too much information, much of which contradicted.

Although Stalin was planning on keeping the Germans in his pocket for many years to come. I'm not even convinced that he wanted to get rid of Hitler. I think he was fine with Hitler so long as it fit the agenda, Stalin was more pragmatic than one tends to think. Stalin needed time to revamp his army and state, at least 3 years if not 5.

At which point the USSR forces in the newly acquired parts of eastern Europe, Poland most of all, were in no position to offer effective resistance, because the USSR had planned and prepared for Nazi-Germany to remain friendly for several years more. It's a big part of why the central front of the USSR caved so spectacularly early in Barbarossa. On the southern front, where the Soviet forces defended properly designed positions they had planned to if necessary fight from for years, the offensive was a lot slower.
True I suppose. Although in the Ukraine the Soviets held out because Stalin was adamant about defending the south. He went so far as to have significant amounts of troops to defend the Don at all costs while Operation Typhoon was happening. The construction of these defenses in the south, as is his obsession with holding Kiev, is consistent with Stalin's mindset of defending the Don and Volga. Which by the way many of Stalin's generals disagreed with (as early as the 1930's), but which STAVKA was in favour of, and evidently Stalin was correct.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,251
I don't really agree with this narrative. The reason Stalin seemed to be caught unawares was specifically due to the fact that the Soviets had such a deep and invasive intelligence network. Knowing this the Germans purposely spread all manner of misinformation and for this reason the Soviets did not know what was happening. At the same time that the Soviets were receiving hints of Operation Barbarossa, they also received hints that this was part of a scheme by the Germans to test Soviet defenses as well as hints that Hitler was planning to go through with Operation Sealion. In actuality the Soviets had no idea what was happening because they had too much information, much of which contradicted.
But that's not some kind of new problem in intelligence work, not even in 1941. That's perennial. Not claiming it's somehow easy, but it is the task after all.

And it doesn't contradict the problem that the Soviets did have the necessary intel, they just got the analysis wrong. The choice of what to believe was political, and conformed with what the Soviet political leadership at the time wished and hoped for.

Stalin and the Soviet political leadership screwed up.
 

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