Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

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Aida1
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Re: RE: Manstein Becomes O.K.H. Chief Of Staff Instead Of Hslder.

Post by Aida1 » 12 Oct 2019 18:33

Robert Rojas wrote:
12 Oct 2019 18:06
Greetings to both History Geek 2019 and the community as a whole. Howdy H.G. 2019! Well sir OR madam, in reference to your posting of Saturday - October 12, 2019 -8:45am, the powers of clairvoyance notwithstanding, you clearly read my mind concerning the incredulous nonsense espoused by citizen Aida1 within his or her posting of Saturday - October 12, 2019 - 6:40am. Rhetorically speaking, I often wonder where citizen Aida1 conjures up these peculiar notions since his or her understanding of Military Science is obviously lacking. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth on this ongoing sojourn down the road to perdition - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day from sea to shining sea.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
I think you should read up on the essence of mobile warfare.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 12 Oct 2019 18:35

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 17:34
maltesefalcon wrote:
12 Oct 2019 15:27
One should also consider that Halder was replaced in any case with Zeitzler. Halder's downfall was largely due to the fact that he openly expressed his opinions, which in many cases directly opposed those of Hitler.

Hitler really did not grasp the concept of logistics and wanted a toady that would agree that any preposterous suggestion from himself could be successfully undertaken.

Hitler also fought with Guderian, Rundstedt, Manteuffel, Jodl to name but a few. Doesn't really matter who the figure head of the armed forces is, if Hitler won't listen to him.
The figurehead of the Heer was Brauchitsch, who caved to Hitler early and often. The Chief of Staff was still responsible for coming up with plans to carry out Hitler's objectives and for implementing them. Halder seems to have been consistently bad at that, in that he had the wrong priorities (taking the enemy capital instead of destroying the enemy's army). Manstein would have been a good deal better.
Halder went for Moscow as a means of provoking a. decisive battle with the red army. Manstein would do the same.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Oct 2019 18:58

Aida1 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 18:29
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 17:45
Aida1 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 15:40
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:29
Aida1 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 09:35
If you want to achieve the best result, going deep is the only option . Mobile units must keep going so be replaced with infantrydivisions in the encirclement as fast as possible.
Then I guess the Germans should have just driven in a straight line to Vladivostok!
No. Advance as far as possible until you inevitably come to a standstill.
That's great. Outrun your logistics and your infantry and air support. Lose vehicles, men and equipment to wear and tear along the way. And then come to a standstill in the midst of the enemy's gargantuan reserve armies. That's bound to work! Remind me again when such a strategy has ever worked at any point in history?
That is what you always do in deep mobile advances. "Gargantuan reserve armies" is seriously over the top.
David Glantz puts the Soviet reserves encountered at Smolensk at 1.2 million. Sending the panzer divisions headlong into these reserves (which is exactly what Germany did in the OTL), resulted in massive casualties that permanently weakened the panzer arm of the Heer, and ground Barbarossa to a halt until September, when they were forced to turn south in order to bail out AGS. But let me guess, you think they should have plunged straight ahead for Moscow ...

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 12 Oct 2019 20:27

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 18:58
Aida1 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 18:29
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 17:45
Aida1 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 15:40
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Oct 2019 14:29


Then I guess the Germans should have just driven in a straight line to Vladivostok!
No. Advance as far as possible until you inevitably come to a standstill.
That's great. Outrun your logistics and your infantry and air support. Lose vehicles, men and equipment to wear and tear along the way. And then come to a standstill in the midst of the enemy's gargantuan reserve armies. That's bound to work! Remind me again when such a strategy has ever worked at any point in history?
That is what you always do in deep mobile advances. "Gargantuan reserve armies" is seriously over the top.
David Glantz puts the Soviet reserves encountered at Smolensk at 1.2 million. Sending the panzer divisions headlong into these reserves (which is exactly what Germany did in the OTL), resulted in massive casualties that permanently weakened the panzer arm of the Heer, and ground Barbarossa to a halt until September, when they were forced to turn south in order to bail out AGS. But let me guess, you think they should have plunged straight ahead for Moscow ...
You are overstating the casualties and in august they could have gone for Moscow. They were not forced to bail out AGS. That was a controversial decision by Hitler.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Oct 2019 02:47

I don't think this changes things fundamentally unless Manstein convinces Hitler from early in the planning process to take the SU more seriously than OTL. Would Manstein have done so? Probably not. During OTL Barbarossa, Manstein behaved in line with Halder/OKH's conception of the operation, driving his forces as far and fast as possible with little concern for lengthening logistical lines and lurking Soviet reserves. As a result, Manstein drove his 8th Panzer division into being surrounded and seriously endangered at Solsty, where it lost ~50% of its tanks, 1,500 men, and had to be withdrawn from the line. See Glantz, Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War, 1941-45 Vol. One, p. 28.

Manstein was a better general than Halder, probably the greatest military genius of the war. But Manstein's operational genius wouldn't necessarily have translated into strategic competence any more than the rest of the Heer, which as a rule was operationally/tactically brilliant and strategically obtuse.

There are many dimensions of human excellence, IMO. A great operational commander has the boldness and confidence to grok information flows obscured by the "fog of war," distill their essential import, and act decisively on a timeline of hours. A great strategist, by contrast, has to reflect deeply on fundamentals, formulate long-term plans and principles, and have the patience to adhere to plans and principles amidst the random upheavals of operational/tactical outcomes. The German Generals were the best at the former and totally incompetent at the latter. Germany needed a strategist tethering these aggressive, maniacal generals to a coherent strategic plan. Hitler was, for all his manifold faults, a decent strategist. But he lacked the will early in the war to bring his army to heel strategically and made a fundamental strategic error re the staying power of the SU.

As a further note, I'll just say that while I recognize Manstein's operational brilliance, I doubt that he was a generally brilliant person by, say, IQ measures. His memoirs - Verlorene Siege ("Lost Victories") - have the writing style of a dullard. He was a committed anti-Semite in a brutal, stupid way that makes me think he was a brutal, stupid person. Confidence and aggression can mean a lot more for a field commander than innate intelligence (Marshall Blucher, for example, was barely literate).

IMO a more feasible "different OKH CoS" ATL would elevate Wagner or Paulus, introverted and deep-thinking types who might have been able to apprehend the depth of the strategic quandaries around Barbarossa and convince Hitler to act accordingly.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Oct 2019 03:01

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
10 Oct 2019 07:26
Even in 1942, Halder seems to have been on a different page from Hitler, preferring to reinforce Army Group Center as opposed to the forces in the south.
AGC was fighting for its survival in 1942, particularly in the multiple RKKA offensives to take the Rzhev Salient. The defensive actions required a lot of good infantry and armored divisions, particularly in Model's 9th Army. Even the elite G.D. was sent there after Blau I/II. At the end of the year, the Operation "Mars" (against AGC) was similar in resource scale to Operation "Uranus"...

I don't find Halder's performance in 1941 particularly bad in contrast to his critics. The German army did what it could do with its limitations. It could have done a lot worse. I have never seen evidence that Manstein's strategic understanding and understanding of the RKKA was anything special. "Lost Victories" has a disappointing lack of insight about the situation in 1943. Manstein's skill in 42-43 was playing the office politics game with a lot of success (getting so many resources assigned to him) and being an ok but not outstanding AG commander. AGS had way too many defeats in 1943 to be considered an army group commanded by a "military genius". Hitler had relied on him to win the situation and AGS was allocated the majority of the armored forces in the Eastern Front.
Last edited by Cult Icon on 19 Oct 2019 03:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Oct 2019 03:13

CultIcon wrote:I don't find Halder's performance in 1941 particularly bad in contrast to his critics.
Halder was fine during Barbarossa; his errors occurred before June 22. He buried Wagner's logistics analysis and Paulus's wargames. He uncritically accepted Hitler's prediction that the SU would collapse politically, substituting political punditry for the professional military analysis that his role required.
CultIcon wrote:I have never seen evidence that Manstein's strategic understanding and understanding of the RKKA was anything special. "Lost Victories" has a disappointing lack of insight about the situation in 1943.
Almost as if he saw nothing outside of his operational purview, at which he was superb.
CultIcon wrote: Manstein's skill in 42-43 was playing the office politics game with a lot of success (getting so many resources assigned to him) and being an ok but not outstanding AG commander. AGS had way too many defeats in 1943 to be considered an army group commanded by a "military genius".
Given the odds that AGS was facing, Manstein's record can't be judged by outcome alone. His Kharkov counterstroke was Germany's last great victory; his France plan changed WW2 from a regional conflict to the worst war in history; his victories in Kerch and Sevastopol are all-time greats. If Manstein doesn't qualify as a military genius I don't know who would.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Oct 2019 03:34

Manstein's track record was good until April 1943. It is his performance afterwards where he was very troubled. Basically I don't think he grasped the sharply improved Soviet capabilities at either tactical or operational levels anymore and overcoming them in the defense. The clearest expression of this are in his resource allocation and the tepid results of counterstrikes/counterattacks taken by units in his jurisdiction. Unlike most EF posters on these discussions I was more interested in 42-spring 44 than 1941 and in particular in researching the dynamic change. The tactical/operational performance of the German army in 43 is much worse than 41-42 and resembles that of even a different army.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 19 Oct 2019 03:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
19 Oct 2019 02:47
Manstein was a better general than Halder, probably the greatest military genius of the war. But Manstein's operational genius wouldn't necessarily have translated into strategic competence any more than the rest of the Heer, which as a rule was operationally/tactically brilliant and strategically obtuse.

IMO a more feasible "different OKH CoS" ATL would elevate Wagner or Paulus, introverted and deep-thinking types who might have been able to apprehend the depth of the strategic quandaries around Barbarossa and convince Hitler to act accordingly.
I think you're right. Paulus seems like the best bet. I'm not sure about Wagner, he seems to have just done one logistical study before moving on to genocide, whereas Paulus really thought through the planned invasion during the war games.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Oct 2019 05:04

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Paulus really thought through the planned invasion during the war games.
The one caveat is that I think what we know of Paulus's pre-war games comes from his post-war memoirs. Does any archival material independently corroborate the content of those games? Regardless I'm inclined to credit Paulus's account based on the profile of him gleaned from other sources.
CultIcon wrote:Manstein's track record was good until April 1943. It is his performance afterwards where he was very troubled. Basically I don't think he grasped the sharply improved Soviet capabilities at either tactical or operational levels anymore and overcoming them in the defense.
This runs counter to most historical analyses I've seen, the most serious of which IMO is Dupuy and QJM's judgment that Soviet tactical effectiveness decline from 41 on. I don't have any problem with seeing Soviet operational effectiveness improving, however, especially as Stalin gave greater deference to his generals after 42.

What, realistically, could we have expected a general of AGS to do in 1943? Even granting your assertion that Manstein commanded a disproportionate share of German resources, AGS was vastly outnumbered in the Don-Dniepr fight and all other relevant Soviet offensives. There aren't many historical examples of armies fighting these odds without being destroyed, whereas Manstein was able to inflict greater casualties on RKKA than AGS sustained and, in general, was able to retreat in good order against a tidal wave. Contrast that to the German performance after the Normandy breakout or German performance in Bagration and Manstein seems warranted for some accolades in these battles. That said, his "Lost Victories" narrative about flexible defense ignores strategic imperatives that any post-war reader would recognize and ignores whether Germany had the fuel to conduct back-and-forth runs across Ukraine as a general strategy. But I've already baked those portions of Manstein's blindness into my evaluation; all that said he fought with great aplomb against insuperable odds and achieved feats that are singluar or at least rare in military history.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by MarkN » 19 Oct 2019 19:05

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
19 Oct 2019 03:47
Paulus seems like the best bet. ... whereas Paulus really thought through the planned invasion during the war games.
Where have you derived this conclusion from?

Between September and December he added a bit more substance to Marcks' Study. Nothing spectacular. No genius needed there. Indeed, the greatest change between Marcks' Study and Weisung 21 is a huge negative.

Then came the infamous Paulus wargames. But it wasn't his thinking that came up with questions, problems, answers, solutions and concerns. The war games have been given his name because he instigated them and gave them contextual direction. The actual gaming was done by Heeresgruppe and Army operations staff. His greatest input seems to have been to filter out the negatives results so as not to rock the boat amongst his bosses.

It was during his time as head of OKH Ops that the most deluded, incoherent and unsuccessful operarional plans were produced.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 19 Oct 2019 19:18

You may be right. Stahel credits Paulus with identifying glaring deficiencies in the plan for Barbarossa, but failing to act on them because he lacked the spine to stand up to Hitler.

But the issue wasn't really Hitler as much as Halder. Hitler had the right idea for the invasion - focus on destroying the Red Army as far west as possible. Halder insisted on driving as far east as fast as possible in order to supposedly force the Red Army into a decisive battle outside Moscow. But the Red Army didn't need to be forced into any battles. It wasn't retreating into the interior, it was counter-attacking again and again with everything it could.

A chief of staff who was more pliant to Hitler's orders might have made for a more successful Barbarossa.

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RE: Manstein Becomes O.K.H. CHief Of Staff Instead Of Halder.

Post by Robert Rojas » 19 Oct 2019 23:55

Greetings to both brother "THE-MARCKS-PLAN" and the community as a whole. Howdy T.M.P. (or Erich if you so prefer)! Well Herr General Oberst, in respect to your posting of Friday - October 18, 2019 - 8:04pm, old yours truly is gratified that you colorfully acknowledged the nearly impossible victory and spectacular achievement of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein during the THIRD BATTLE OF KHARKOV (February 19, 1943 - March 15, 1943). What is even more amazing, was Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's uncanny ability to persuade the all knowing Bohemian Corporal to willingly give up ground to make his WINTER MIRACLE possible in the first place. That unto itself, is often an unspoken victory! Yes, there is nothing like having an enemy to your immediate front and an enemy to your immediate rear. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents worth from someone that according to another contributor to this thread, has a clear lack of understanding of the "essence of mobile warfare" - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day from sea to sea shining sea.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by maltesefalcon » 20 Oct 2019 00:03

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
19 Oct 2019 02:47
I don't think this changes things fundamentally unless Manstein convinces Hitler from early in the planning process to take the SU more seriously than OTL. Would Manstein have done so? Probably not. During OTL Barbarossa, Manstein behaved in line with Halder/OKH's conception of the operation, driving his forces as far and fast as possible with little concern for lengthening logistical lines and lurking Soviet reserves. As a result, Manstein drove his 8th Panzer division into being surrounded and seriously endangered at Solsty, where it lost ~50% of its tanks, 1,500 men, and had to be withdrawn from the line. See Glantz, Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War, 1941-45 Vol. One, p. 28.

Manstein was a better general than Halder, probably the greatest military genius of the war. But Manstein's operational genius wouldn't necessarily have translated into strategic competence any more than the rest of the Heer, which as a rule was operationally/tactically brilliant and strategically obtuse.

There are many dimensions of human excellence, IMO. A great operational commander has the boldness and confidence to grok information flows obscured by the "fog of war," distill their essential import, and act decisively on a timeline of hours. A great strategist, by contrast, has to reflect deeply on fundamentals, formulate long-term plans and principles, and have the patience to adhere to plans and principles amidst the random upheavals of operational/tactical outcomes. The German Generals were the best at the former and totally incompetent at the latter. Germany needed a strategist tethering these aggressive, maniacal generals to a coherent strategic plan. Hitler was, for all his manifold faults, a decent strategist. But he lacked the will early in the war to bring his army to heel strategically and made a fundamental strategic error re the staying power of the SU.

As a further note, I'll just say that while I recognize Manstein's operational brilliance, I doubt that he was a generally brilliant person by, say, IQ measures. His memoirs - Verlorene Siege ("Lost Victories") - have the writing style of a dullard. He was a committed anti-Semite in a brutal, stupid way that makes me think he was a brutal, stupid person. Confidence and aggression can mean a lot more for a field commander than innate intelligence (Marshall Blucher, for example, was barely literate).

IMO a more feasible "different OKH CoS" ATL would elevate Wagner or Paulus, introverted and deep-thinking types who might have been able to apprehend the depth of the strategic quandaries around Barbarossa and convince Hitler to act accordingly.

I like your analysis-showed some great insight. That being said overall 1939-45 I believe the German General Staff and higher echelon field commanders showed great skill and professionalism in combat management. The biggest exception would be Goering, who was a disaster.

However the vision that was required was at the top, since Hitler was the ultimate authority. He was largely to blame for involving Germany in a three-front war they could not win by 1943, then compounding his errors by meddling in the efforts to pull the fat out of the fire.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Oct 2019 01:41

Manstein did get a few weeks reprieve when in Oct 1943 when he refilled a Panzer Korps (48.PzK) with over IIRC 550 tanks and AGs . This force included some of the best units (1.Pz, 1.SSLAH, 7.Pz, 2.SSDR, etc). LAH and 1.Pz were very well equipped and manned. It was used series of counterattacks. This Korps achieved comparatively tepid results. A year ago, a force of this magnitude had higher expectations attached to it.

The main failure of Manstein Sept 43- firing was not generate sufficient operational reserve such as that and greater (despite absorbing the bulk of German armored forces and elite units) and deploy them in an counteroffensive operation or a set piece battle. The history of the German retreat in the East with AGS is entirely reactive. A "military genius" would have found a way to siphon off resources, generate a better intelligence strategy, and use some way to negate the improved defensive tactics and logistics of the Soviet forces in order to regain operational and tactical superiority. I think that the RKKA had operational superiority in 43 onward. He and other german generals however deserve credit for holding the line as long as they did with so many bled white units and inflicting enormous losses.

The decisive study on Manstein's leadership in 43-44 is yet to be written (a book/thesis on circa Dec 43- March 43 has already been published ). In Barrett's series "Zhitomir Berdichev", Manstein makes one appearance to supervise a German armored counter-operation.

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