Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Oct 2019 16:45

CultIcon wrote:The main failure of Manstein Sept 43- firing was not generate sufficient operational reserve
I have to say that I don't have great resolution on the operational choices during RKKA's Summer-Fall Ukraine offensive - as you say, we need a deeper study on this (any recs for these battles among the existing literature?).

That said, my impression is that (1) Manstein/AGS didn't have the luxury to husband a dozen or so mobile divisions for a decisive strategic-level counterstroke, as they were constantly averting disasters via local counterattacks and (2) Hitler would not have tolerated the husbanding of such reserves as an alternative to local counterattacks, especially given that this was the Werewolf period when he was intensely involved in supervising the Ostheer.

I'd like you to address my top-level argument that AGS inflicted disproportionate casualties while vastly outnumbered and out-supplied during this period. Doesn't that create a presumption that some exemplary skill inhered in German operations/tactics during this period? Is there a single non-Ostfront, modern warfare example of such a quantitatively inferior force nearly bleeding white its opponent?

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 21 Oct 2019 11:45

Cult Icon wrote:
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.
Within Hitler's brief Manstein did as well as he could. It was Hitler's brief that was wrong because it gave the initiative totally to the red army and forced Manstein into a situation where he could only react. To deploy his operational genius Manstein would have needed freedom of movement which he rarely got. In Verlorene Siege one cannot get the impression Manstein did not know how to deal with the red army, rather the contrary.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 21 Oct 2019 11:53

Cult Icon wrote:
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.
This is pure fiction. Manstein was never allowed to do what he would have wanted to do which was certainly not holding onto a long line at all cost and limiting oneself to local counterattacks. Hitler did not want Manstein to operate. He had to hold the line. All Mansteins proposals to be able to operate were refused. Operationally German commanders still had a certain superiority but were forbidden to use it by Hitler(see for example Dass Deutsche Reich und der zweite Weltkrieg Band 8 pp 361-363 and pp 373-374).

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 21 Oct 2019 13:01

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Oct 2019 16:45
I have to say that I don't have great resolution on the operational choices during RKKA's Summer-Fall Ukraine offensive - as you say, we need a deeper study on this (any recs for these battles among the existing literature?).

That said, my impression is that (1) Manstein/AGS didn't have the luxury to husband a dozen or so mobile divisions for a decisive strategic-level counterstroke, as they were constantly averting disasters via local counterattacks and (2) Hitler would not have tolerated the husbanding of such reserves as an alternative to local counterattacks, especially given that this was the Werewolf period when he was intensely involved in supervising the Ostheer.

I'd like you to address my top-level argument that AGS inflicted disproportionate casualties while vastly outnumbered and out-supplied during this period. Doesn't that create a presumption that some exemplary skill inhered in German operations/tactics during this period? Is there a single non-Ostfront, modern warfare example of such a quantitatively inferior force nearly bleeding white its opponent?
1. There are sufficient operational and tactical level accounts of the german retreat in the East, however I never found a detailed beat by beat analysis of Manstein's leadership himself. Even the recent biography on him is very weak in this area. Basically they are repeating the superficial excuse of his command restrictions by Hitler- as if he didn't overcome impediments with office politics before or succeed to get the majority of german armored units under his command. Basically his leadership prior to May 1943 is better covered. From the Soviet history, they have an picture of continuing tactical and operational improvement (improved logistics, outfitting, and sustainability of units) and improved defensive tactics- the most considerable was the extreme proliferation of the Anti-tank artillery arm and use of mines to seal off the Eastern front from armored counterattacks.

2. The achievements of german armored units in certain defensive tactical actions were significant but more attributed to the tactical qualities of veteran units, not operational "excellence". However, offensively their performance was way below what was typically achieved in the prior year due the how tough the soviets became in the defense. In the defense and in certain counterattack actions they retained the ability to destroy vast numbers of soviet AFVs but lost the ability to capture vast or even moderate numbers of soviet troops. Strong armored Counterattacks in 42/41 were opportunities to reap big gains (destruction of units wholesale) but <in general> in 43-44 german armored units got heavily written down, often in days- with small results or none.

Strategically and operationally, AGS was basically reactive and in a disastrous sense. Vatutin and other soviet generals had the initiative and had the flexibility of repeatedly tricking the Germans to exhaust or even maldeploy their reserves. The sequence of Oct 1943 - April 1944 vs AGS show this quite clearly- Panzer reserves arrive in batches, are thrown into the fire and exhausted. Then there are periodic counterstrikes (with massed armor in the hundreds) to temporarily stabilize the situation like Operation Waltraut, Winterreise, Watutin, etc. However these deployments also allowed the soviet armies to react to temporary stripping away of german panzer and infantry units from the frontline by counter-attacking or launching offensives at the best moment.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 21 Oct 2019 14:57

also on tactics:

-the high soviet AFV loss rate was statistically most heavily connected with the heavy upgrading of german anti-tank weapons (pak40, long-barrelled Stug/PIV, Panther, Tiger, Nashorn, etc.) among german forces rather than operational art.

-There was a severe infantry shortage in AGS which was made even more epidemic by Hitler's orders to build up forces for the invasion front. HOWEVER, AGS was assigned the majority of rebuilt/new armored units. The Panzer divisions that arrived, such as 1.Pz, 1.SSLAH, 16.Pz, 24.Pz, 8.Pz etc. came with full strength infantry regiments. There were also periodic march battalions being allocated in a trickle. Some of these infantry units would be subsequently written down in a short amount of time (-eg in several days of heavy counter-attacking) and without much results.

-Let's say that German intelligence was much more effective in forecasting soviet moves, soviet tactics, and soviet forces than it was- then the AG commander could give a general order to preserve Panzer-grenadier regiments for the future medium-scale offensive operation and use Panzerkampfgruppe only (eg. PR plus recon and SPW battalions) and march battalions to rebuild PzDs only. This could be coincided with improved tactical procedures and organization to increase efficiency in the attack and defense among the depleted forces of the army group so the reserves would not have been used up.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 21 Oct 2019 16:01

Cult Icon wrote:
21 Oct 2019 13:01
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Oct 2019 16:45
I have to say that I don't have great resolution on the operational choices during RKKA's Summer-Fall Ukraine offensive - as you say, we need a deeper study on this (any recs for these battles among the existing literature?).

That said, my impression is that (1) Manstein/AGS didn't have the luxury to husband a dozen or so mobile divisions for a decisive strategic-level counterstroke, as they were constantly averting disasters via local counterattacks and (2) Hitler would not have tolerated the husbanding of such reserves as an alternative to local counterattacks, especially given that this was the Werewolf period when he was intensely involved in supervising the Ostheer.

I'd like you to address my top-level argument that AGS inflicted disproportionate casualties while vastly outnumbered and out-supplied during this period. Doesn't that create a presumption that some exemplary skill inhered in German operations/tactics during this period? Is there a single non-Ostfront, modern warfare example of such a quantitatively inferior force nearly bleeding white its opponent?
1. There are sufficient operational and tactical level accounts of the german retreat in the East, however I never found a detailed beat by beat analysis of Manstein's leadership himself. Even the recent biography on him is very weak in this area. Basically they are repeating the superficial excuse of his command restrictions by Hitler- as if he didn't overcome impediments with office politics before or succeed to get the majority of german armored units under his command. Basically his leadership prior to May 1943 is better covered. From the Soviet history, they have an picture of continuing tactical and operational improvement (improved logistics, outfitting, and sustainability of units) and improved defensive tactics- the most considerable was the extreme proliferation of the Anti-tank artillery arm and use of mines to seal off the Eastern front from armored counterattacks.
Here you are evading as Mansteins proposals for far reaching retreats were almost always refused and if granted too late. Manstein wanted to focus on his important left wing and not being pinned down on his right. Manstein wanted to operate.Hitler only knew the word 'hold' ( see Karl Heinz Frieser in Dass Deutsche Reich und der zweite Weltkrieg Band 8 pp 361-363 , pp 373-374 and 390 ;See also Carl Wagener in Heeresgruppe Süd ,Podzun Pallas p 233-234).

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 21 Oct 2019 16:12

Cult Icon wrote:
21 Oct 2019 13:01
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Oct 2019 16:45



2. The achievements of german armored units in certain defensive tactical actions were significant but more attributed to the tactical qualities of veteran units, not operational "excellence". However, offensively their performance was way below what was typically achieved in the prior year due the how tough the soviets became in the defense. In the defense and in certain counterattack actions they retained the ability to destroy vast numbers of soviet AFVs but lost the ability to capture vast or even moderate numbers of soviet troops. Strong armored Counterattacks in 42/41 were opportunities to reap big gains (destruction of units wholesale) but <in general> in 43-44 german armored units got heavily written down, often in days- with small results or none.

Strategically and operationally, AGS was basically reactive and in a disastrous sense. Vatutin and other soviet generals had the initiative and had the flexibility of repeatedly tricking the Germans to exhaust or even maldeploy their reserves. The sequence of Oct 1943 - April 1944 vs AGS show this quite clearly- Panzer reserves arrive in batches, are thrown into the fire and exhausted. Then there are periodic counterstrikes (with massed armor in the hundreds) to temporarily stabilize the situation like Operation Waltraut, Winterreise, Watutin, etc. However these deployments also allowed the soviet armies to react to temporary stripping away of german panzer and infantry units from the frontline by counter-attacking or launching offensives at the best moment.
Which was due to Hitlers hold order which led to the German army not really operating anymore .German commanders were still perfectly able to do operate in the real sense of the word if they had been allowed to..

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by HP » 22 Oct 2019 07:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Oct 2019 16:45
I'd like you to address my top-level argument that AGS inflicted disproportionate casualties while vastly outnumbered and out-supplied during this period. Doesn't that create a presumption that some exemplary skill inhered in German operations/tactics during this period? Is there a single non-Ostfront, modern warfare example of such a quantitatively inferior force nearly bleeding white its opponent?
Well there is at least Operation Compass, but then again the British in that operation were quantitatively much more inferior to the Italians than the Germans were to Russians in the Ostfront operations.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 22 Oct 2019 08:58

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Oct 2019 16:45
CultIcon wrote:The main failure of Manstein Sept 43- firing was not generate sufficient operational reserve
I have to say that I don't have great resolution on the operational choices during RKKA's Summer-Fall Ukraine offensive - as you say, we need a deeper study on this (any recs for these battles among the existing literature?).

That said, my impression is that (1) Manstein/AGS didn't have the luxury to husband a dozen or so mobile divisions for a decisive strategic-level counterstroke, as they were constantly averting disasters via local counterattacks and (2) Hitler would not have tolerated the husbanding of such reserves as an alternative to local counterattacks, especially given that this was the Werewolf period when he was intensely involved in supervising the Ostheer.

I'd like you to address my top-level argument that AGS inflicted disproportionate casualties while vastly outnumbered and out-supplied during this period. Doesn't that create a presumption that some exemplary skill inhered in German operations/tactics during this period? Is there a single non-Ostfront, modern warfare example of such a quantitatively inferior force nearly bleeding white its opponent?
Very true. Actually,the red army commanders were not allowed to operate either by Stalin which led to losses being too high. Hitlers hold order could have led to disaster if red army commanders had been allowed to be bolder.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 22 Oct 2019 16:13

HP wrote:
22 Oct 2019 07:33

Well there is at least Operation Compass, but then again the British in that operation were quantitatively much more inferior to the Italians than the Germans were to Russians in the Ostfront operations.
Apples vs. oranges comparison..

A lot of people do not really understand that the Soviets were not "tactically inferior" on the Eastern Front in 43-45. They were tactically inferior only in 41-42. If you look at the situation from the operational/tactical level 43-45 they were doing better than the German units. They were however, inefficient in their attack style- relying on massed infantry and armored attacks, ruthlessly executed. Personnel and AFVs were their "artillery/ammunition" in the soviet sense. If people looked at soviet casualty lists and think of them as ammunition expenditure (tons of bombs/shells fired) it is closer to its true meaning.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Aida1 » 22 Oct 2019 19:14

Cult Icon wrote:
22 Oct 2019 16:13
HP wrote:
22 Oct 2019 07:33

Well there is at least Operation Compass, but then again the British in that operation were quantitatively much more inferior to the Italians than the Germans were to Russians in the Ostfront operations.
Apples vs. oranges comparison..

A lot of people do not really understand that the Soviets were not "tactically inferior" on the Eastern Front in 43-45. They were tactically inferior only in 41-42. If you look at the situation from the operational/tactical level 43-45 they were doing better than the German units. They were however, inefficient in their attack style- relying on massed infantry and armored attacks, ruthlessly executed. Personnel and AFVs were their "artillery/ammunition" in the soviet sense. If people looked at soviet casualty lists and think of them as ammunition expenditure (tons of bombs/shells fired) it is closer to its true meaning.
If they were inefficient in their attack style then they were not superior tactically. Superior tactics means doing better
than just using mass. The red army never got better at operations. German commanders were not allowed the freedom anymore to operate.

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

Post by Robert Rojas » 22 Oct 2019 20:49

Greetings to both citizen Aida1 and the community as a whole. Howdy Aida1! Well sir OR madam, in reference to your installment of Tuesday - October 22, 2019 - 10:14am, old yours truly is more than a wee bit surprised that the forum's rather extensive constituency from the Russian Federation has not jumped all over your shit given some of the disparaging pabulum you've posted about the Red Army's commensurate skills with Operations. Now oh learned one, when the time avails itself, you might want to acquaint OR reacquaint yourself with OPERATION BAGRATION (June 22, 1944 - August 19, 1944) / VISTULA-ODER OFFENSIVE (January 12, 1945 - February 02, 1945) and the MANCHURIAN STRATEGIC OFFENSIVE OPERATION (August 09, 1945 - August 20, 1945). It's truly amazing just how well the Red Army conducted its OPERATIONS when Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili kept his fingers out of the pie and allowed STAVKA to conduct the serious business of liquidating the enemies of the Motherland. Well, that's my latest two Yankee cents, pfennigs or kopecks worth on this topic replete with bizarre assertions - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of the now disintegrating European Union.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
Last edited by Robert Rojas on 22 Oct 2019 23:50, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Oct 2019 23:28

CultIcon wrote:the Soviets were not "tactically inferior" on the Eastern Front in 43-45
No serious analyst holds this view. Stiltzkin provided a link to Nigel Askey's Barbarossa analysis a little bit ago; unfortunately the link has since gone dead. viewtopic.php?f=55&t=244177#p2221566

Here's the figures from that link:
Index (tactical performance in comparison to 1941, factoring in quarterly, avg. front strength):
1941.....100
1942.....74
1943.....59
1944.....57
Soviet tactical abilities - measured by casualty infliction adjusted for men and firepower deployed - declined dramatically later in the war.
This makes intuitive sense to me, as Germany lost at least as many men per month during Barbarossa and Summer 1942 as they did during 43-44 campaigns, despite facing a less numerous and less well-equipped RKKA in 41/42. Had the Red Army possessed ~2.5:1 numerical superiority in 1941 I doubt the Germans reach the Dniepr.

Soviet training of junior leaders and enlisted men couldn't keep up with the massive losses to maintain tactical efficiency at June 1941 levels.

Operationally, the Soviets clearly improved as the war went on. This makes perfect sense, as generals like Zhukov, Rokossovsky, Bagramian, et. al. were there from the start and continued learning with experience. Unlike most junior leaders and enlisted men, they weren't killed/captured/crippled in a matter of months after reaching the front.

You rightly point out that the Germans were capturing fewer Soviets in 43-45, but POW's always came when the German army was on the strategic/operational offensive, a situation that rarely held in East after Kursk.

Kursk itself proves the still astoundingly-high level of German tactical proficiency later in the war. Despite failing at the operational level, the Germans inflicted disproportionate casualties at Kursk and overran several Russian defensive lines. They did so against at least 2-1 numerical inferiority and despite probably the best-prepared field defenses of WW2. They also did so mainly with PzIV's; the big cats were a small portion of German armor at Kursk. Have you read Zetterling's Kursk?

To echo my earlier question to you, what modern army has ever fought so well against such odds?
CultIcon wrote:If you look at the situation from the operational/tactical level 43-45 they were doing better than the German units. They were however, inefficient in their attack style- relying on massed infantry and armored attacks, ruthlessly executed. Personnel and AFVs were their "artillery/ammunition" in the soviet sense. If people looked at soviet casualty lists and think of them as ammunition expenditure (tons of bombs/shells fired) it is closer to its true meaning.
Where are you getting this stuff from? Stavka/Stalin issued specific orders NOT to waste men; the SU was facing a manpower crunch throughout the war. The cycles of modifying tank/mechanized corps and other support divisions were precisely to find the right combined arms mix - they show a military seriously grappling with the efficient use of resources, not one heedless of casualties.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by Cult Icon » 22 Oct 2019 23:48

Askey is not a student of 42-45..... Stitzen-type views are too statistically and theoretically based and not based on real world combat. (operational histories, unit histories, tactics, memoirs, statistics).

Art and I have done extensive analysis (highly statistical (from russian primary sources) and encompassing over a hundred secondary sources) about the EF 42-44 a few years ago. These threads can be found on armchairgeneral forums. We did not just study one operation (Kursk is a favorite) but a huge range and duration of fighting.

In conclusion the German combat formation Sept-43 onwards were simply not competitive vehicles for tactical superiority for a very good and obvious reason- they were ill equipped and undermanned, and suitable only for the immobile defense actions. When the average german infantry in Army Group South had the equivalent of 1-2 battalions of infantry, company sized support units and a few batteries of artillery....

Also, the achievements of heavily equipped 48.PzK in Oct-Nov pale compared to the Soviet tank armies.

What was notable about german forces was the skill of the veteran and surviving german officer and nco corps, who repeatedly made their opponents pay with stubborn defensive actions, hence the numbers you are focused on. They displayed this skill even with their replacement troops were poorly trained. That's about it.

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Re: Manstein becomes OKH Chief of Staff instead of Halder

Post by HP » 23 Oct 2019 05:03

Cult Icon wrote:
22 Oct 2019 16:13
HP wrote:
22 Oct 2019 07:33

Well there is at least Operation Compass, but then again the British in that operation were quantitatively much more inferior to the Italians than the Germans were to Russians in the Ostfront operations.
Apples vs. oranges comparison..

A lot of people do not really understand that the Soviets were not "tactically inferior" on the Eastern Front in 43-45. They were tactically inferior only in 41-42. If you look at the situation from the operational/tactical level 43-45 they were doing better than the German units. They were however, inefficient in their attack style- relying on massed infantry and armored attacks, ruthlessly executed. Personnel and AFVs were their "artillery/ammunition" in the soviet sense. If people looked at soviet casualty lists and think of them as ammunition expenditure (tons of bombs/shells fired) it is closer to its true meaning.
Operation Compass is not a comparison, it is an example that was supposed to answer "TheMarcksPlan"s question. If it were a comparison, you would be right. I also personally think it is pretty meaningless to make such comparisons as all situations are different, but a question was asked (I also note my answer was not commented by "TheMarcksPlan").

I also think that Germans were not necessarily "tactically superior" to Soviets (you brought up some good points about improved equipment). Soviets just had a different way to make war and warfare in the East was different from warfare in the West.

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