Why did Germany perform better in the Eastern Front in WW1 than WW2?

Nov 2014
464
ph
Was it because of Lend Lease? And the USSR had a better industrial infrastructure and logistics in WW2 than WW1? Or was it because of mobile warfare in WW2 that was able to substantially speed up the movement of armies in WW2 compared to WW1?
 

starman

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
4,169
Connecticut
Germany performed better on the eastern front in WWI (or Russia performed worse) because Russia was yet industrialized, meaning its forces were poorly equipped. Also, the communist regime was more broadly based, so unlike Tsarist Russia, the USSR didn't suffer a fatal loss of support and go under because of its setbacks.
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,308
Was it because of Lend Lease? And the USSR had a better industrial infrastructure and logistics in WW2 than WW1? Or was it because of mobile warfare in WW2 that was able to substantially speed up the movement of armies in WW2 compared to WW1?
How do you judge this "performance", according to which criteria ?
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
I've always found it funny that the Germans defeated either West Europe or East Europe but never both at the same time.
 
Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
Lots of logical reasons

1)It's far easier to motivate your people against homicidal maniacs like the Nazi's than their Second Reich counterparts.WWI was pretty unpopular and sparked two revolutions(the second of which caused Russia's exit), whereas I don't think many Soviets were trying to stop the conflict with the Nazi's(seeing the Nazi's goals I think everyone was aware this wasn't a viable option)

2)Russia was less industrialized.

3)Russia was fighting the Ottomans in the Caucuses region and the Germans had the Austro-Hungarian Empire's backing(and they lost far more troops fighting the Russians than Germany did)

4)When the Soviets took power, largely due to their Communist ideology(where borders were immaterial and soon to be irrelevant) they were willing to give up almost anything to the Germans to leave the war. German troops in WWI did not advance nearly as far nor kill nearly as many Russians as their WWII counterparts did.

Points 1 and 4 raise the question, did the WWI Germans really perform better or were the Russians just less willing to fight?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,984
Republika Srpska
Was it because of Lend Lease? And the USSR had a better industrial infrastructure and logistics in WW2 than WW1? Or was it because of mobile warfare in WW2 that was able to substantially speed up the movement of armies in WW2 compared to WW1?
One thing we mustn't forget is the goal that Germany had in WW2. They invaded Russia intending to conquer it for Lebensraum and Germanize the land, so obviously they had to push deeper and faster into the enemy territory extending their supply lines and also allowing the enemy to fight on its own turf. In WW1, although Germany had similar plans to annex territory in the East, they were perfectly willing to go slowly, first securing their own borders and of course the Austro-Hungarians, then push into Poland and they only started to move deeper into Russia after the Revolution which toppled the Tsar and caused chaos in Russia. The fact that the Austro-Hungarian army often needed assistance certainly played a part in Germany's WW1 Eastern strategy though. And, of course, in 1941 Germany had no Western Front to worry about which basically allowed to pursue the ambitious strategy in the East.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
Lots of logical reasons

1)It's far easier to motivate your people against homicidal maniacs like the Nazi's than their Second Reich counterparts.WWI was pretty unpopular and sparked two revolutions(the second of which caused Russia's exit), whereas I don't think many Soviets were trying to stop the conflict with the Nazi's(seeing the Nazi's goals I think everyone was aware this wasn't a viable option)
Did most people know that Hitler was a homicidal maniac during WW2? A warmonger and generally bad person sure, but I thought most people only found out about the holocaust afterwards. Assuming the holocaust is why you called him a homicidal maniac.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,625
Italy, Lago Maggiore
During WWI the Communist Revolution happened in Russia. One of the reasons of that revolution was just the Russian disaster in WWI.

And the Russian disaster was a consequence of how the absolute power managed the war [in this Imperial Russia was similar to Italy, to make an easy parallel].
 
Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
Did most people know that Hitler was a homicidal maniac during WW2? A warmonger and generally bad person sure, but I thought most people only found out about the holocaust afterwards. Assuming the holocaust is why you called him a homicidal maniac.
While the Holocaust is one example and the best known example of the Nazi's being homicidal it wasn't what I was referring to. I really do hope you are not unaware of the civilian casualties of the USSR and if this is indeed the case I recommend you proceed carefully before reading the number comparisons I've put below as if I didn't know about this I'd be quite disturbed.


I was referring to the German military's actions on the eastern front which killed almost 15 percent(dead not wounded) of the enormous USSR population(more people than the entire country of Spain to put this in context) according to Wikipedia including 17 million civilian deaths(over 3 Holocausts though there's probably a good deal of overlap there), 10 of which were directly caused by the Germans. I don't think the civilians really needed any propaganda to resist the invaders of their own free will. Germany in WWI was trying to knock the Russians out of the war militarily and the civilian death count caused by military action or war crimes while horrible at 410,000 was less than 5% of the total in WWII. Germany in WWII on the other hand was trying to both conquer and quite literally empty the USSR. My point is you're not going to get those people to give up, because whereas in WWI,the war was putting a strain on Russia's resources like food and was something that was in the Russian people's best interest to end regardless of territorial losses or gains, in WWII regardless of the strain of the war, surrender meant very likely death.


What makes this scary is seeing the circumstances it's quite possible that the sources are conservative estimates.

It's also important to note that while the Germans conquered much of the frontier of the Russian Empire they did not reach the major cities of St Petersburg, Moscow or Kiev(they got Riga and were pretty close to St Petersburg when the war ended). This meant to the Russian civilian hunger was a much more serious threat than the actual enemy. In WWII the Germans reached all four of these cities and despite conquering only 1, caused immense carnage at all four sites.

St Petersburg/Leningrad-Over 2 million deaths(split half and half between the military and civilians), 2.5 million more sick or injured.

Moscow-600,000-1 million men(keep in mind this relatively low figure is at least 50% larger than the entire WWII casualty count of the US and was probably larger than the US and UK's casualty count's put together.

Kiev-600,000+ military losses in the first battle .

Stalingrad-1.6 million dead, another 650,000 who were hurt.

There was no separation between the war and the struggles home front as the Germans reached the populated part of the USSR and at these four cities alone killed more people than the populations of quite a few European countries.

By contrast in WWI, Riga which I think is the biggest Russian city the Germans captured, only saw 30,000 total casualties. It was just a war and the Russian people were more harmed by it's economic effects than anything else. In WWII, you really had an active extermination war unlike anything we've seen in human history and once the Germans decided to engage in that sort of war based on their homicidal ideology, the only way they were going to get the Soviets to give up was to kill them all(and there were ALOT of Soviets to kill). While it's not undisputed, it's a pretty strong argument to say IMO that without the German ideology that the German military performed plenty well enough to bring the USSR to their knees.
 
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