How are books by David Glantz

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Aurora
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Aurora » 13 Apr 2012 23:00

First and foremost German casualty figures are in Soviet reports grossly exaggerated on a routine basis; this is true also of advance rates and depth of defence. This is equally true of contemporary archival material as it is for published historiography. The Soviet general staff study* earlier mentioned in this thread is a good example of this. Secondly the lion share of the German material was captured during the war, you know as well as me that Soviet historiography suffered from several inhibitions and that much of the material is still not made available publicly. There are also several issues with the material that has been published, see Journal of Slavic Military Studies Volume 11, issue 1, 1998 for a bit more on this.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1 ... 9808430334

But let's not get too far from the topic here, it is Glantz that on a consistent basis uses Soviet records (in some cases from the 50's) for German losses. It is he who asserts, based on soviet sources, that some 500 german tanks were engaged at Prokhorovka (with some 320 losses no less) and likewise it is he who quotes a German unit as suffering over 70 000 casualities (again based on Soviet sources) when the unit in actuality numbered under 60 000 men. Glantz sweeping statements that Soviet records on this somehow should be regarded as much more accurate are mind boggling.

But if we leave what you seem to think of as petty and snide objections aside, this has far more important implications. Based on a number of school-boy errors Glantz proceeds to draw the wrong conclusions of the conduct of the war and the results of it; such as Soviet flexibility and maneuver, rates of advances, inflicted losses and force concentration. These conclusions in turn are reproduced in work after work on the war leading to a wholly inaccurate view of the conflict.

All this should be balancing out the picture of Glantz as a first-rate researcher and absolute authority on the war.

* According to Glantz, notable for its accuracy and candor!

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Apr 2012 10:49

Hi Aurora,

You haven't actually addressed my question.

You wrote the generalization: "Despite all of that there is more often than not an inherent quality in the German source material that isn't present in much of the Soviet material....."

I replied "This is certainly a widespread working assumption (to which I have subscribed in the past), but what is the actual evidence for it?"

Of course the Germans knew their own internal statistics better than the Red Army did. But the same presumably holds true in reverse.

We in the West have certainly tended to assume that German staff work was relatively impeccable and that, by comparison, Soviet staff work was crude. But I wonder what the evidence is for this last? The Red Army had a general staff and it was certainly competent enough.

On what do you base your proposition?

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. To what, specifically, are you referring in writing, "sweeping statements that Soviet records on this somehow should be regarded as much more accurate are mind boggling."

paspartoo
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by paspartoo » 14 Apr 2012 11:31

I have read 'When Titans clashed' and found it lacking. The use of Soviet data for German strength and losses was not right. I also remember that it was claimed in the book that Soviet data for German losses etc is more accurate than German data. That really made an impression.
A simple economist with an unhealthy interest in military and intelligence history.....
http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/

ljadw
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by ljadw » 14 Apr 2012 11:55

I have to agree with Aurora:Glantz is -mainly- using Soviet sources,who were absent in the history of the war in the east :that's his merit.But,as always,there has been an overcorrection,giving to much importance on these sources ,which,IMHO,should never be used for informations on the German side .
There are other objections :
Glantz' use of numbers of Soviet divisions and comparing them to the number of German ones,while the strength of the Soviet ones was much lower .
His use of "irrevocable" losses and comparison with German losses
His use of the Soviet terminology of artillery (=guns AND mortars)and using this also for the Germans,with the very questionable result of his statement that the Typhoon forces started with 14000 artillery pieces,while Barbarossa started with 7146 artillery pieces .
Maybe to much (or only ?) translation of Soviet sources and no checking of the result ?

Aurora
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Aurora » 14 Apr 2012 19:21

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Aurora,

You haven't actually addressed my question.

You wrote the generalization: "Despite all of that there is more often than not an inherent quality in the German source material that isn't present in much of the Soviet material....."

I replied "This is certainly a widespread working assumption (to which I have subscribed in the past), but what is the actual evidence for it?"

Of course the Germans knew their own internal statistics better than the Red Army did. But the same presumably holds true in reverse.

We in the West have certainly tended to assume that German staff work was relatively impeccable and that, by comparison, Soviet staff work was crude. But I wonder what the evidence is for this last? The Red Army had a general staff and it was certainly competent enough.

On what do you base your proposition?

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. To what, specifically, are you referring in writing, "sweeping statements that Soviet records on this somehow should be regarded as much more accurate are mind boggling."
Perhaps I'm being too ambigious about this, the issues do not only apply to the German side of things. If we take your question in the context of the Soviet General Staff study which was published in 1944 and based on contemporary Soviet reports, you will find that the Soviet material A) Overstates their own rate of advance, at one point fixing it to 18-20 km during 5-6 hours of combat - in actuality the advance can not have been much in excess of 6-8km.

B) The study grossly overstates German reinforcements arriving, which supposedly were made out of large numbers of Panther, Tiger and Ferdinand tanks to the point Germany has a numerical superiority during the Korsun operations.

A brief cross-check of Soviet sources (and German) would show this to be patently false. Glantz does not bother.

To your last question: Glantz dismisses the German reports of 30 000 troops escaped during Korsun with the words that the Soviet version of events is "far more credible." Why I suspect we might never know.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Apr 2012 13:07

Hi ljadw,

You are also agreeing with me: "The acknowledged weakness of Glantz has always been that his knowledge of German forces is poorer than his knowledge of German forces, but one wonders if his critics may not suffer from the reverse handicap."

Virtually every book uses the "division" as a unit of measurement for convenience, not just Glantz. Glantz would only be at fault if he equated German and Red Army divisions. Does he?

What is wrong with the term "irrecoverable losses"? That is a common Soviet phrase with a clear definition (see Krivosheev). Why should Glantz not use it?

Again, why should Glantz not use Soviet terminology for artillery? They included everything down to mortars, whereas the Germans did not. Who is to say who is right?

Most of the primary material we Westerners received on the Eastern Front until about 20 years ago was German, or filtered through German sources. (This is covered in the book The Myth of the Eastern Front, discussion of which is banned on AHF). We are thus preconditioned to see things through a German lens.

However, about 20 years ago, masses of Soviet primary material became available for the first time and there is no reason why we should continue to accept the German perspective by default.

Certainly Glantz has had his limitations regarding German sources, but the reverse is far more widely true. Most of the far more numerous Germano-centric books have been severely limited as to Soviet sources.

The importance of Glantz is that he provides us with enormous numbers of hard facts on the Red Army not otherwise
available. By comparison, the number of his demonstrable errors is few.

Be thankful for Glantz, because his contribution should make all subsequent English language books on the Eastern Front not written by Russian-speakers using primary Russian archives, better rounded and more comprehensive as a result.

One more thing. Glantz is often a very heavy read. But that is the price we necessarily pay for access to his mass of new information. If we want popular, light-weight, derivative, human interest, easy reading we can always try Anthony Beevor instead, but we will learn precious little new.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by ljadw » 16 Apr 2012 18:05

1) Glantz is using Soviet sources when talking about the Germans .
In "Before Stalingrad",he first writes:on 6 december,there were before Moscow 1.708.000 Germans with 13500 guns,1170 tanks and 615 aircraft(using Soviet sources),adding :these figures are wrong (if they are wrong,why is he giving them?),other Soviet sources are giving :240.000 Germans,5350 guns (IMHO wrong again) and 600 tanks .
Result :the reader is confused.
I also object to the use of Soviet sources for the Germans,if German sources are available:5350 guns is wrong:it should be 5350 guns and mortars.
2)There are some dubious claims ,as that the German XXXIV Army Corps was disbanded .I know that divisions were disbanded,but not of disbanded AK's.An other one is that Heinrici surrendered to the British on 28 may 1945 :roll:
3) IMHO,Glantz is wrong about the importance of the Battle of Moscow and the following Soviet winteroffensive :he writes :
"with it (the winteroffensive)the Red Army seized and maintained the strategic initiative for more than 5 months (IMHO exagerated) and........created the first great turning point in the war ..........Operation Barbarossa failed at Moscow.....
I object to this obsolete point of view:operation Barbarossa did not fail at Moscow,it failed at the end of the summer .
There also is the classical and wrong use of the turning points .THere can be only one turning point :if the first turning point (in the winter) means :a German defeat,the second turning point means ...a Soviet defeat:if Moscow was a turning point (which it wasn't),then Stalingrad and Kursk could be no turning points .
4) About the irrevocable losses :if the reader is curious about a comparison between the German losses (830.000) till 31 december and the Soviet ones,Glantz gives for the Soviet losses 4.8 million,these are irrevocable losses and sanitary losses:a mixture of combat and non combat (sick) losses,while the 830.000 for the Germans is without sick cases .Again,the reader is confused and is getting a wrong picture .Some time ago,Thom has given on this forum the sick and frostbite numbers for the Germans (till 31 december) ,which is :390.000
Thus,a right comparison would be :Germans :1.22 million/Soviets :4.8 million,and not (as Glantz is writing) :0.83 mill.8 million

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Apr 2012 12:28

Hi ljadw,

Glantz apparently can't win, even when he states that Soviet sources are wrong.

You ask why give wrong figures? The obvious answer is that if the Soviets believed them to be correct at the time and based their decisions upon them, then they were influencing their decision making.

On the specific corps you mention, the AHF factbook says "Höheres Kommando XXXIV was disbanded Jan 1942." In fact, as they did not have a fixed organic composition or establishment, I would suggest that corps were rather easier to disband than divisions, which had depots and fixed establishments.

In the Heinrici case, again it may be you who is wrong. I have had a quick Google and the first two sources I found both stated that Heinrici entered British captivity on 28 May 1945. What is your contrary information on the subject?

"IMHO" is just that - your opinion - and doesn't reflect on Glantz at all.

Why should there be only one "turning point"? A turn doesn't have to be of 180 degrees. Before Moscow the Germans were almost always advancing. After Stalingrad they were alomost always in strategic retreat. They both look like turning points to me. Kursk just confirmed the Stalingrad outcome. (There is a whole thread on this elsewhere).

Why are frostbite cases necessarily "irrecoverable"? "Irrecoverable" means men who could never return to the front through death, capture, or incapacitating wounds or illness. Thus some wounded are irrecoverable while others are not. The same presumably applies to frostbite.

You have a good general point that ideally one should compare like with exact like. However, definitions and establishments vary everywhere and in these less than ideal circumstances it is sometimes difficult to do so.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by ljadw » 17 Apr 2012 16:39

About the 34 AK(NOT Höheres Kommando:these were not at the frontline) ,I have conflicting sources :
Kursietis (the Wehrmacht at War) is saying that the 34 AK was disbanded on 23 december 1941 and reformed in february 1944
Micham (Hitler's Legions)is saying that the 34 was originally a Höheres Kommando and was upgraded in 1941 to an Army Corps(when it was committed in Barbarossa) He does not mention that it was disbanded .

The German Order of Battle is saying also that the 34 was upgraded in 1941 to become an Army Corps,and mentions that (in 1944) its existence was uncertain.
An Army Corps was only a HQ,with or without subordinate division(s),thus,a few hundred men.Saying it was disbanded is stating that the divisions belonging to the 34 AK were disbanded,and,that's giving a wrong picture .
A Höheres Kommando only was a HQ training recruits,sometimes such Höheres Kommando was upgraded to an (active) AK:in 1942,the XXXII Höheres Kommando became the 81 Infantry Corps:this only resulted in the staff of the 34 leaving Germany for France to command there some divisions .
Glantz writes (in "Before Stalingrad):...prompting the OKH to disband the unfortunate force (=the 34 AK):is this meaning the staff of the 34 AK,or the divisions belonging to the 34 AK?The 34 AK had 4 divisions :45,95,134 and 262;as these divisions (Afaics) were not disbanded,what happened to the HQ of the 34 is meaningless:the situation would not change if they were subordinated to another AK.
Glantz also is writing (using Soviet :roll: sources)"the 134 ID was no longer combat capable ",but,the 134 ID was not disbanded and remained at the front line till june 1944,when it was destroyed during Bagration .

ljadw
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by ljadw » 17 Apr 2012 17:09

About Heinrici :maybe,it is splitting of hairs,but,how could some,who had become a POW on 8 may 1945,on 28 may surrender to the British ?This is implying that he was continuing the war till 28 may (with what ?),to surrender only that day .The post on Wiki also is dubious :it claims that Heinrici was fired by Göring :roll: ,and that the wife of Heinrici was partially Jewish,and that Hitler knew this .
And,maybe more splitting of hairs,but,following the Lexicon der Wehrmacht,the commander of the 134 ID(von Cochenhausen) was not killed(as was writing Glantz),but was committing suicide .

HFK
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by HFK » 17 Apr 2012 19:56

Hello,
I own 1 book written by Col. Glantz, and that is enough. Information is there, but his style of writing is so boring, one needs to dig for the iunformation. The best comment I can make is if ever you cannot fall asleep, start to read one of his books, and boredom will cause you to fall asleep.
I just wish he wrote in a more interesting style. He never managed to engage my interest.

regards, Harry

Art
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Art » 17 Apr 2012 21:03

ljadw wrote:1) Glantz is using Soviet sources when talking about the Germans .
In "Before Stalingrad",he first writes:on 6 december,there were before Moscow 1.708.000 Germans
"Including airforces" as the source says. Before the start of "Typhoon" (i.e. by 1.10.41) the ration strength of the Army Group Center was almost 2 millions men, so the number 1,7 millions in early December doesn't look completely impossible, it could be found in some captured document indeed.
other Soviet sources are giving :240.000 Germans
These are active bayonets/infantry strength. Anyway given the fact that the source itself was published in 1943, the number is just an intelligence estimate.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Apr 2012 12:09

Hi Ljadw,

No. Saying that a corps was disbanded does not imply that its subordinate formations were also disbanded. It simply means that the Corps HQ was disbanded. Corps were not fixed established formations like divisions. Their composition was always in a state of flux and they could contain anything from two to five divisions, any or all of which could be rotated or withdrawn at any time. Thus the disbandment of a corps essentially applies to the break up of corps HQ. Subordinate units and formations could continue under different command.

You write "Glantz also is writing (using Soviet sources)"the 134 ID was no longer combat capable ",but,the 134 ID was not disbanded and remained at the front line till june 1944,when it was destroyed during Bagration ". What is your point? Just because a formation may become "no longer combat capable" doesn't mean it has to be disbanded. If it did, every division in the BEF would have been disbanded in June 1940. After Stalingrad the Germans rebuilt in their depots every division lost there around the 10% of men on leave or recuperating from light wounds. Within six months most took part in the occupation of Italy.

I wouldn't rely on Mitcham's Hitler's Legions. It was written decades ago and apparently without direct access to German archives. It seems to be largely based on secondary US intelligence sources and post war publications. And if Glantz is a boring read, how much more so is Hitler's Legions! There have been several much better researched books on the market since.

Whether the commander of 134 Infantry Division was killed at his own hand or by others, he was definitely dead due to Soviet military activity. So what is your point?

As far as I can see, all the specific errors you claim to have found in Glantz are petty, wrong, or at worst shared by other sources, including AHF.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 18 Apr 2012 12:26, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Apr 2012 12:15

Hi HFK,

Yours is a common complaint, but it is based on a misconception about the value and intent of Glantz's books.

Whether you enjoy a Glantz book or not basically depends on whether you primarily want an entertaining read, or are more interested in hard facts, particularly on the Red Army.

If what you want is the former, then I would recommend something more light weight by someone like Beevor. However, if you have a more serious military-historical interest then Glantz is far more valuable.

Cheers,

Sid.

Michate
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Michate » 18 Apr 2012 14:34

"Including airforces" as the source says. Before the start of "Typhoon" (i.e. by 1.10.41) the ration strength of the Army Group Center was almost 2 millions men, so the number 1,7 millions in early December doesn't look completely impossible, it could be found in some captured document indeed.
The ration strength figure from October (as given by Reinhardt) must include not only air force personnel, but also very considerable numbers of non-military personnel, as the strength of the armies of AG Centre during October was only a little over a million men, as shown by Qvist's figures, and the air force at the whole Eastern front cannot have had much more than half a million men. Also, it must include a very large geographic scope up to the rear, perhaps as far as the German frontier. This of course raises the question of comparability with Soviet figures.

Out of curiosity, which captured document shows 1,7 million men in December?

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