An aside on Casualties

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Guaporense
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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 19:03

antwony wrote:
Guaporense wrote:Read Genius for War. The German army was consistently more effective than any other in both world wars.

And yes, even in 1918 they were the best in the world. For example. In the spring offensive, despite massive economic and manpower superiority the Allies lost 860,000 men to the Germans losses of 688,000 men, and the Germans were on the offensive, which means the Allies should have inflicted way more casualties given that they had massive superiority in every respect: manpower, economic, natural resources and defensive posture, yet they suffered 30% more losses.

Therefore, we can conclude that the German army was indeed superior. Niall Ferguson even estimated that in WW1 it cost 14,500 dollars for the Entente army to kill a German soldier but it cost 5,600 dollars for the German army to kill an Entente soldier.
How many of those 860,000 were Portuguese or guys that surrended?
5,000 Portuguese. Why you feel like you need to diminish the portuguese?
Almost all of those German casualties would have been from the designated "Assault" divisions, and many would have been stormtroopers, which/ who had been removed from the rest of the army and trained and equipped to a higher standard than the divisions that took over the line and "reaped the whirlwind" when the final German assault failed.

Germany had decided to go with a two-tier army (or not even two when consider they eventually deployed Landswehr divisions to the Western Front) and, in retrospect, we can say it didn't work out the best for them.
They were certainly superior to the entente in a military sense.
Your point about offensive's is wrong vis-a-vis WW1.
No it's not.
Despite the enormous British losses on day one, casualties during the Battle of Somme were (probably) similiar on both sides.
Not remotely:

British+France losses - 620,000
German losses ---------460,000

And total losses in the Western Front 1918 were:

German ------------------------- 1,498,138
French+British+American ----- 1,908,996

Even counting the hundreds of thousands of German soldiers who surrendered at the end.

And they outnumbered the Germans by a large margin.

Dupuy estimated German army to be on average 50% more effective than the British and the French on a per capita basis.
Artillery, nor machine guns, was the biggest killer of that war and the Entente hadn't destroyed their national economies to enable them to equip their armies i.e. they could make lots and lots and lots of shells and still feed their citizens
No, the difference is that they could import food while Germany couldn't.

Also shell production per GDP was similar among the coalitions.
While best is a rather abstract term
No, it's objective, based on performance.
surely they were, at best, the fourth best? France, British Commonwealth, USA, in which ever order you prefer. Athough, on November 11, 1918, the Italian Army was still in the field and was going forward. They'd, actually, proved to be the fourth best. So, yeah, if we are making a league table, and Guaporense likes his tables, Germany would be the fifth best. Have chosen to disregard White Finland and the Soviet Union, both of which were in existance on the Nov 12 1918. The Belgium's deserve fourth place actually
This is moronic.
2-0
Very mature indeed.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Sep 2016 23:01

Have chosen to disregard White Finland and the Soviet Union, both of which were in existance on the Nov 12 1918
The SU was founded in December 1922.

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MG1918
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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by MG1918 » 24 Sep 2016 05:14

It is very interesting and there is no doubt at times, in certain areas, environments, tactics etc the Imperial German forces were excellent. We can all agree on that. Furthermore statistics and many many other factors have a bearing. We could all select individual battles or operations that would support or defeat any offering or point of view - such is the benefit of hindsight. All I am offering is that to say the best is too strong and generic, and yes in certain specific times it would seem they were the best...but not THE best. Great thread though and thanks eversyone for contributing - healthy discussion and differing opinions are to be encouraged.
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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Guaporense » 29 Sep 2016 05:21

MG1918 wrote:It is very interesting and there is no doubt at times, in certain areas, environments, tactics etc the Imperial German forces were excellent. We can all agree on that. Furthermore statistics and many many other factors have a bearing. We could all select individual battles or operations that would support or defeat any offering or point of view - such is the benefit of hindsight. All I am offering is that to say the best is too strong and generic, and yes in certain specific times it would seem they were the best...but not THE best. Great thread though and thanks eversyone for contributing - healthy discussion and differing opinions are to be encouraged.
Thing is that there are statistical constants in WW1 and WW2: in both wars, for instance, from 1914 up to the end of 1944, Germans inflicted casualties with 150% of the effectiveness French-British-American troops. That held true for the early battles in 1914 and 1915 up all the way to the end of 1944, when the Germans won, when the Germans lost, when they were attacking, when they were defending, they were always superior for all these decades.

The discrepancy with the Russians was also there and was similar in both world wars: German effectiveness was ca. 600% to 1,000% of Russian effectiveness in both wars.

So, in all fronts in both wars, against all other nations, the German military was always and everywhere, superior.

This was because of the Prussian military tradition that made the German army into the most effective military in the world since the mid 19th century up to the end of WW2: for this century, they were, indisputably, the best army in the world.

In the end this military tradition, however, lead to it's own destruction since it overemphasized military effectiveness while underestimating the impact of unfavorable economic and demographic odds and which eventually lead to the destruction of Germany as she tried, twice, to defeat the whole world by herself in total war.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Michael Kenny » 29 Sep 2016 05:45

Germany as she tried, twice, to defeat the whole world by herself in total war
Facts? To hell with facts! We have no facts. In fact, we don't need facts. I don't have to show you any stinking facts.....................

German Allies WW1

Austria-Hungary
Ottoman Empire
Bulgaria

German Allies WW2
Italy
Finland
Hungary
Bulgaria
Romania

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by MG1918 » 08 Oct 2016 02:27

just goes to show the wide range of views :D some based on facts and other...not. Have to say though that it is human nature to pin one's arguement on one or two or several facts, that support that particular line of arguement. But I am still struggling with the blanket statement that the German Army was the best. This is not true, it cannot be!!! It is impossible to say this when so many factors must be considered. I hugely admire the Imperial German Army and its professionalism etc etc but I would never ever say it was THE best. If you are defeated, or lose decisive key engagements, or squander opportunities, it does not matter what the reason is (all things considered) you cannot be the best. Again I quote machine guns and usage, by 1917 Allies were far in advance in the use of this weapon. Tanks, communications, equipment etc we can go on and on. The Imperial Army was superb ... but the best? No - but the best in areas X Y and Z etc without question Yes.
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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by ArchibaldTuttle » 16 Oct 2016 22:46

I wrote paper on this theme, using this documents, when I was student. When I find them I'll give it to this forum.

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by ArchibaldTuttle » 17 Oct 2016 23:50

Sorry but I really can't find it :-( it was so far...

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Guaporense » 18 Oct 2016 02:15

MG1918 wrote:just goes to show the wide range of views :D some based on facts and other...not. Have to say though that it is human nature to pin one's arguement on one or two or several facts, that support that particular line of arguement. But I am still struggling with the blanket statement that the German Army was the best. This is not true, it cannot be!!! It is impossible to say this when so many factors must be considered. I hugely admire the Imperial German Army and its professionalism etc etc but I would never ever say it was THE best. If you are defeated, or lose decisive key engagements, or squander opportunities, it does not matter what the reason is (all things considered) you cannot be the best. Again I quote machine guns and usage, by 1917 Allies were far in advance in the use of this weapon. Tanks, communications, equipment etc we can go on and on. The Imperial Army was superb ... but the best? No - but the best in areas X Y and Z etc without question Yes.
So you claim they were not the best because they lost the war, that's pretty absurd way of thinking because it ignores quantitative factors. If you claim they were not the best because some of their leaders made imperfect decisions, well, I argue they made imperfect decisions because they were human.

In WW1 it was a conflict of Germany+Austria against Italy+Russia+France+UK+Canada+USA, or about 120 million people versus 380 million. The Entente also enjoyed enormous advantages in natural resources and raw materials. The reality is that the Central Powers lost the war more through starvation due to trade blockade rather than due to military action. It's actually pretty incredible how long Germany lasted in WW1, suppose the British were facing the same odds: suppose instead of WW1 that France, Germany, Russia, Italy and the USA declared war on the UK in 1914, while the UK had as an ally, Austria. How long do you think they would have lasted before surrender? I guess 18 months at most.

Now, let's get to the figures:

Average score effectiveness vs Germans:

vs French in WW1 1914-1918: 154%
vs British in WW1 1915-1918: 145% (source: Dupuy, Genius for War)
vs British & Americans in WW2 1943-1944: 152% (source: van Creveld, Fighting Power)

As you can see, it's pretty consistent and holds for a wide range of observations and time periods.

Also it's interesting to analyse the fact that in 1918 and in 1944-1945 the number of casualties inflicted by German divisions against Allied troops was the same:

1918 - between 205 and 186 German divisions were inflicting 210,000 casualties per month on the Entente in the Western front. Or about 1,080 casualties inflicted per division per month.

1944-45 - between 60 to 71 German divisions were inflicting 73,000 casualties per month on the Allies in the Western front or about 1,120 casualties inflicted per division per month.

Despite the massive changes in technology and doctrine over these decades and the vast changes in organization of personnel as well, the rate in which German troops inflicted casualties on the Allies remained constant. It shows that some things were pretty constant over time, one thing was the fact that the German armed forces were the best in the world in both wars. The fact that Germany managed to actually fight the whole world in two wars shows how incredibly efficient their armed forces were.

Although they were not as relatively superior as Alexander's Macedonian armies which not only managed to fight the whole ancient world but actually managed to conquer it. Although that was also due to Alexander's strategic genius rather than his armed forces' effectiveness.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by antwony » 18 Oct 2016 06:36

Guaporense wrote:So you claim they were not the best
What is it with you and The Best? Are you 12? There is no "best". If we say the the Germans are the bestest ever and your dad could beat up ours will you stop?

Thanks for league table. War is a bit like football, isn't it. One side can be 30% "better" than the other.

Think it was one of your uebermensch (von Clausewitz???) who said something like war is the conclusion of diplomacy.

That Germany was awful at diplomacy was only there own fault.

On they battlefield, despite starting with a massive advantage in both wars, they proved themselves pretty far from "The Best".

Bad at actual war and bad at it from their own Clausewitzian perspective... sure the Germans were "the best".

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by marksy64 » 28 Oct 2016 18:08

I find some of these remarks very funny. The Germans had great soldiers, yes they did, but they lost, Twice, so please stop a bout how great the Germans were, As an American I can say with out any hesitation that the Canadians were the best fighting men in ww1, any one who argues that fact has not done their home work, RESEARCH PEOPLE, YOU HAVE A COMPUTER, USE IT, The Canadians distinguished them selves in their first battle of yprea, the first gas attack, the French Algerians ran away which is very understandable but left a 4 mile gap in the line, The Canadians pissed in cloth for breathing purposes and filled the gap while still holding their own line, I believe French general Foch said it was the greatest act of the war, Now the Canucks are just getting started,After the Somme no army can claim the victories that the Canadians did, no army that's a fact, with only 4 divisions, a hundred thousand men, The British Generals where old and out of the time, Haig was an idiot, I could fill pages out for you people but I will just put this in, Vimy was a master piece, Julian byng was one of the only British generals who would listen, Canadian Aurthur Currie was a great tactistion and was not afraid to think out of the box, this man changed war tactics forever,inovation was his trade mark, creeping barrage, he may have not invented it but he perfected it, The set piece battle, planning and preparation, the first to give his men maps, so they knew were they were going, studied the terrain, recognition of artillerys importance to trench warfair, Artillery was used for attacking armies, Currie used artillery on other artillery,83% of the German artillery was knocked out before the Vimy battle even started, Andy Mcnoughton a Canadian who used science to the dismay of the Brits, called counter battery operations, by the use of flash spotting and sound rangeing, Currie also made the each platoon independent all with speacilist tasks, each platoon had a machine gunner, hand grenade thrower and engineer and could perform with out a ranking officer,indirect fire, using a machine gun to keep the Germans away from certain areas. Haig called on the Canadian Corp to take Passchendaele because after quarter of a million men were sent to there doom he needed some one to come to his rescue, and sure enough the Canucks took it, with 15,756 casualties, Currie predicted 16,000, so this guy knows what things cost, The Anzacs lost 30 thousand because of Haig and his inability to command anything, The Canadians spear headed every battle of the 100 days with Australian troops on some of these attacks also, The Aussies were also good fighting men and John Manosh a great general also, Hill 70 ( Lens )Amiens, Cambrai ,Valciennes, Mons, These are just some of the battles the Canucks took and should get some credit, but they do not. Now on a lighter note all the soldiers were good soldiers during that war, some stood out more then others, but just by saying who is the best is really sad, we even compete on the death of others, but I am going by , Battles won, how many men and the leadership, It also blew me away to find out that the best sniper was a Canadian native with 370 confirmed kills, forget the name but you can research that, Billy Bishop fighter pilot, 70 kills, not far off the Baron, I also go by population, Canada had less then 8 million people but produced one of the finest armies for a Nation that was only 50 years old and the fact that the Canadians were mostly volenteers although conscription did start later in the war, but like I said The British soldiers were good but they just had bad leaders and unfortunately killed a lot of Commonwealth soldiers, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders,Indians ect and I will also say in ww2 the Canadians again proved their worth. In Italy, They spearheaded most of the offensives, Gothic line, Leary valley, The Germans always kept an eye on Canadian troops, they knew were the Canucks were that's where the attack would come from and they were usually right, They opened the door to Rome but Mark Clarke pulled his famous "" I want the glory and will shoot at any army that tries to take Rome "" The Canadians were ordered to stop , 1 hour away from Rome, embarrassing as a yank, They took on German paras in the Battle of Ortona, Back to Europe, The only army to make the first D.Day objectives,Had a hard time at Caen but look who was incharge, Fought up the whole left flank, took out all the shore batteries which had divisions of good German troops, No glory for them, that was for us and the British, but they went on liberating towns and cities in France, Belgium and most of Holland and went into Germany, opened the Rhine river crossing, another thing they do not get credit for, So I think you know who I think are not the best, but they always get the job done and they do not look for glory the way we do or the British, but I do think they are very underestimated and are one of the best fighting Countries in the world, do not let that polite thing mislead you, They will kill you and then apologize lol P.S sorry a bout the spelling and punctuation, its a post not a novel.

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Stiltzkin » 29 Oct 2016 19:01

Nice wall.

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by Ken S. » 21 Feb 2018 04:06

About 70% of the 1st Canadian Division was British-born, many of these being recent immigrants with previous military service in the U.K. and not Canada.
marksy64 wrote:The Canadians distinguished them selves in their first battle of yprea, the first gas attack,

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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by MG1918 » 25 Feb 2018 16:31

For marksy64, I would like to offer some thoughts on your unfair statement that the British Generals were idiots. A common mistake when looking back at history and offering a view, is that that view is 'tarnished' with hindsight and applies factors/principles that are second nature now, but simply did not exist then!
I think all can agree mistakes were made, by everybody including the excellent Canadians. But I wonder how many times (statisticall) valuable lessons were ignored against learning from and then adapting. Fortunately from my limited studies, lessons were learned and absorbed and adjusted for the next battle, and indeed when communications actually worked (admittedly and sadly by the end of the war) adjustments could even be made in contact with the enemy. Plus who in the main did the attacking..... this takes on a whole new dimension in warfare and adds considerable new challenges...which still applies today. The blanket statement that British Generals were idiots is simply not true. There are many examples of excellent planning, and preparation, and rehearsal, and so on and so on, even in the early years, and regrettably the engagement still ended badly....because the Commander was an idiot? If there was ever a witch hunt to be had and questioning the quality of senior leadership, I would recommend looking at the US military leadership in the latter part of the war, and look at the enormous US casualties that were genuinely unnecessary. Even considering hindsight and trying to avoid the application of modern thinking/education - there is a real story there about idiocy. Now before a US historian starts rattling off the many positives for US reluctance/prep/US Command etc etc and yes there was some logic in 'not rushing in - I hope they can also explain that despite the 'delay' why significant US casualties still occurred?
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Re: An aside on Casualties

Post by jluetjen » 27 May 2020 13:11

I finally wondered into this thread after ignoring it for years. Considering what's been said so far, I've only got a couple of observations...

1) If you asked any of the Entente military leaders if they would have liked to have fought with the German army (i.e. the General Staff on down) on their side, as opposed to against them -- I think that the response would have been "hell yes!". For example -- politics aside -- would the British military have preferred to have joined with the Germans in a fight against he French, or the French against the Germans -- I think that they would have preferred 1815 all over again. I think that the same might have applied to Pershing. From a French perspective, I don't have a strong sense. Given the number of German speakers in the Russian high command, I suspect that the same affirmative answer would have applied to the Russians. As far as the Austro-Hungarians -- we know what their preference was. I think that it's also telling that in the years leading up to WWI, and afterwards other countries (notably the US) had copied the German army's General Staff organization.

2) But wars are not fought just by Armies. They are fought by nations -- which includes the navies, Diplomats and overall economies, and are fought from geographic positions. In this case while Germany's army and economy may have both been a +1, and their navy an =, their diplomats were a -1, and their geographic position ultimately a big -1. This ultimately meant that their available manpower eroded from a +1 to a -1, especially when compared to the US.

So was the organization known as the Deutsches Heer effective at the tasks given to them them? Yes, although notably not perfect. The British? Yes, but undersized, and then undersized and inexperienced. But by the end of the war they seemed to be largely on par with the Germans. The French? Not initially, but they managed to hang on and not let down their part of the front in spite of other political difficulties. Note that both the French and Germans suffered mutinies, but for the Germans it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The French got through it. I think that this says something about the French Army's organization and the fortitude of their individual soldiers.

Just my $0.02 for a different way of looking at the question.

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