Russian Losses in WW1

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Jul 2010 16:11

"Reasonably efficient" was a bit nebulous, as will be the rest of this reply! Clearly, the Imperial Russian general staff was not the efficient machine that German General Staff was. On the other hand it was also not non-existent.

My point is that Russia did have a general staff system by WWI and by late in WWII it seems to have been operating pretty efficiently, if David Glantz's books are anything to go by. (The alternative was not having one, which would certainly have undermined the standard of centralized returns). Sure its system was less efficient in the anarchy of defeat in 1941, but one cannot find definitive centralized German casualty returns after January 1945 for similar reasons.

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stg 44
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by stg 44 » 17 Jul 2010 18:06

WW2 was a completely different war and the Soviet system was infinitely more efficient, not as the result of the experiences of WW1, but by virtue of letting men of competence rise instead of birth. Now of course this changed as Stalin purged the ranks and loyalty became the most important attribute, but the system that rose from the Russian Civil war and the Soviet-Japanese border skirmishes evolved from the men of competence and ability that existed from the 1920's on. To compare the two or say they were related more than superficially is incorrect. So to draw any conclusions about the Tzarist STAVKA from the Soviet one is a complete waste of time and pointless.

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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Jul 2010 17:05

The key difference is whether there was a general staff system or not. In both WWI and WWII Russia/USSR had general staff systems. You may well be right about their relative efficiency and the reasons for it, but the fact remains that in both wars there was a mechanism for centralizing returns. They are the necessary base line for any quantification of total losses through lack of alternative.

Comparisons are far from pointless. How can we judge relative performance without comparing?

Art
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Art » 11 Jun 2018 12:06

For information: recently I've acquired a book by a Russian historian Sergei Nelipovich which is going to be a new standard source on the Eastern Front in WWI.

Image

Nelipovich was probably the first author who undertook in-depth analysis of Russian archival records concerning casualties in war. Based on many archival records Nelipovich arrived to the following Russian casualties in the campaign of 1914 (without Caucasus):
Killed in action - 3190 officers and 154 233 other ranks
Wounded - 12 405 officers and 633 805 other ranks
Missing in action - 4668 officers and 706 154 other ranks.
Total more than 1.5 battle causalities.
The number of POWs captured by the Central Powers by the end of 1914 were about 460 000. So the balance of missing were either stragglers/deserters or unregistered killed and wounded in battle.

For comparison the official annual report of the Russian War Ministry quoted the following casualties in 1914:
Killed/died of wounds - 46 190
Wounded - 260 178
Missing and prisoners - 192 009
It's obvious that official reporting was very deficient.

Nelipovich also arrives to the following losses of Germany and Austro-Hungary on the Eastern Front in 1914 based on primary and secondary sources:
Killed/died of wounds - 120 525
Wounded - 466 085
Missing/prisoners - 411 031
Total almost 1 million

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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Stiltzkin » 11 Jun 2018 15:04

During WW1 it seems that the Imperial Russian army was more efficient (relative to the central powers) than the Soviets vis Nazi Germany during WW2, on the tactical level, or about the same.
According to the Sanitätsbericht for 1914-1918, the German Imperial Army suffered 232.979 KIA (578.736 dead + DOW) , 1.377.002 WIA + sick, 238.359 MIA, from 1914 to 1915, with 715.260 returns and 86.683 further irrecoverables on all fronts. More than 3/4 of these would be sustained on the WF, so about 300,000-450,000 total losses on other fronts.
8th Army suffered 13.212 casualties at Tannenberg, 40.000 at the Masurian Lakes and the 9th suffered about 60.000 casualties at Lodz, for a total of 113.212, these operations alone cost the Russian Army more than 250,000-300,000 men (totals incl. POWs).
There is information on Austrian operational losses in the war archives http://www.archivinformationssystem.at/ ... ID=1252730 so someone would have to request these boxes, there is also a subsection on est. Russian POWs, it is suprising that literature seldomly picks up the question of accurate losses.

Art
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Art » 11 Jun 2018 20:45

Nelipovich has a detailed breakdown of casualties by operations and large formations. In short about a half were suffered against Germans and the other half against Austro-Hungary.

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Alejandro_
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Alejandro_ » 12 Jun 2018 09:00

Very interesting data.
According to the Sanitätsbericht for 1914-1918, the German Imperial Army suffered 232.979 KIA (578.736 dead + DOW)
Are those 2 numbers in the correct order? Maybe you meant 578,736 KIA (232,979 dead + DOW)

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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Stiltzkin » 13 Jun 2018 18:01

Are those 2 numbers in the correct order? Maybe you meant 578,736 KIA (232,979 dead + DOW)
No, those are correct. KIA are about 19% of total losses, total dead include other subsections with soldiers who died in the process of evacuation or maybe even later. Dead can also refer to other causes, including the dead from missing, which could be traced. 578,736 total with 232,797 (initially) fallen in combat (these are men who died at the front without any prospect of surviving). The plus stood for "including" I guess I should change that in the future.
Also, regarding the notion prevalent in this thread (from 2010) that WW1 and WW2 were so completely different conflicts, I would not be so sure about it, warfare is an evolution and not a revolution, there are statistical constants and they are consistent throughout both conflicts.

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Alejandro_
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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Alejandro_ » 15 Jun 2018 14:41

No, those are correct. KIA are about 19% of total losses, total dead include other subsections with soldiers who died in the process of evacuation or maybe even later. Dead can also refer to other causes, including the dead from missing, which could be traced. 578,736 total with 232,797 (initially) fallen in combat (these are men who died at the front without any prospect of surviving). The plus stood for "including" I guess I should change that in the future.
Many thanks. I think the + sign got me confused. I have to say that the Eastern Front during the First World War is one of those topics that should get more attention.

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Re: Russian Losses in WW1

Post by Stiltzkin » 22 Jun 2018 04:53

Many thanks. I think the + sign got me confused. I have to say that the Eastern Front during the First World War is one of those topics that should get more attention.
I definitely think so, Central Power losses on other fronts should not be neglected, WW1 was in many ways more of a multiple front war than WW2. If we accept the figures then this leaves us (with an average of 375,000 losses in about 4-5 months) with approx. 70,000 KIA or 8,000 per Army or 2,000 per month, which is similar to average KIA for Army Group South and Center armies of WW2. The difference in the art of war was as pronounced as in the Gulf Wars or perhaps Falkland to Gulf. The casualty infliction potential of the Russian Army was about the same as the Soviet, the difference lay in the political, ideological and economic factors as well as the number of men mobilized against Germany or Nazi Germany respectively.

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