Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

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gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 13:22

Your point would seem to be that the physical conditioning and discipline provided by pre-military HJ and RAD service and a longer military training period are not advantageous (presumably in the latter case after a certain point you are not able to specify).
I have not made that argument in any way so have no intention of defending it. I do however question your assumption that the above was a critical factor in German military performance as a whole, which is the point I have been making from the start and continue to do - one that you consistently fail to address.

The fact is that the string of German victories in the early part of the war was the product of a huge number of factors and since we have no way of separating them out to test their individual contribution, we cannot know what their relative contribution was, if any, and this applies to the longer conscription service introduced in 1937 as much as anything else. In the absence of any valid evidence, we can only have opinions and you are entitled to yours, just as I am entitled to disagree with it. And unless you can bring some such evidence this isa where the conversation will remain going round in circles. However, i would point out that the assumption that more training or even any training at all must be advantageous is a fallacy and this has been shown many times.

Beyond that, I don't see the point of pursuing a further course down this particular rabbit hole.
This seems to me inherently implausible, based on objective considerations. It certainly was to the French, who instead followed the Germans in introducing similar measures. (It should also be pointed out that under the Communist youth movement, so did Poland ultimately adopt a similar pre-military model.)
Objective considerations of what? It is probably equally worth pointing out that Poland had similar measures long before the communist youth movement (and the Nazis) in its Scouting movement and others while, the same measures (heavy premilitary conditioning in youth movements and society in general and a 2-year conscription service) in the Soviet Union, which the Germans copied not the other way around, notoriously failed to produce efficient, well trained and effective soldiers let alone an effective army, in many instances. This may be implausible to you, but nevertheless did happen.
"man on foot with several years training beats other men on foot who haven't had the same preparation, thereby proving that training is important."
This would be the case if both men in our analogy were on foot but they were not. The reality is that compared to the Polish infantryman the German one may as well have been on a motorcycle. So are you saying that if the man in a tank or truck with around 4 months more training beats the man on foot proves 4 months extra training is important? If so, please forgive me if I find that implausible as an argument.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2021 14:39

Hi gebhk,

I am sorry if I misunderstand you, but I am trying to feel my way towards what your actual position.

I did not assume that, ".....that the above was a critical factor in German military performance as a whole". For that to be so it would have to be decisive and, given the other things the Germans also had going for them, which you have ably pointed out above, it probably wasn't. I will stick with, "However, I would contend that they (HJ, RAD, extended conscription) were an advantage."

"The fact is that the string of German victories in the early part of the war was the product of a huge number of factors and since we have no way of separating them out to test their individual contribution, we cannot know what their relative contribution was, if any,....." There is some truth in that, but does that mean we shouldn't try in order to try to tease out what the more important factors were? The French certainly decided that 2-year conscription, labour units and youth movements on the German model were one way to go.

The fact is that for a number of reasons the Germans overwhelmed all their foes over 1939 to 1941 at relatively little cost to themselves and one of the factors in the mix was the relative quality of their Welle I divisions. It had to be, as they initially had little other trained manpower under the age of 40. If their Welle I divisions didn't perform, they were pretty much stuffed!

The Germans seem to have peaked relative to their foes early in the war. One can see their decline in the fall in their casualty ratios versus the Red Army over 1941-45. Before that nobody managed to stay in the field against them for more than six or seven weeks. Poland in September 1939, however heroically the Poles may have fought, was not Serbia in 1914-15.

You post, "However, i would point out that the assumption that more training or even any training at all must be advantageous is a fallacy and this has been shown many times." Really? Where?

I think the Nazis were following the Fascist Italian model, rather than the Soviet one, as far as militarised youth movements were concerned. However, they all have much in common. I don't know what the Polish scout movement was like, but the British one had no institutional connections with the state or its armed forces. The HJ and RAD very much did.

You post, "This would be the case if both men in our analogy were on foot but they were not. The reality is that compared to the Polish infantryman the German one may as well have been on a motorcycle. So are you saying that if the man in a tank or truck with around 4 months more training beats the man on foot proves 4 months extra training is important?" Nope. To repeat what I actually posted, "Man on foot with several years training beats other men on foot who haven't had the same preparation, thereby proving that training is important." Only some German reconnaissance units had motorcycles. The bulk of their infantry regiments were largely on foot like the Poles.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by ljadw » 19 Mar 2021 16:17

Half of all German soldiers had gone through only a few weeks of training and a quarter were over the age of forty .
Source : The Blitzkrieg Legend P 32 .
voll einsatzfähig am 10.May 1940 : 10 PzD, 6 mot.D und 61 ID
bedingt einsatfähig :29 ID
nur zur Verteidigung :28 ID
nur bedingt zur Verteidigung :9 ID
nur für Sicherungsaufgaben : 9 Landesschützen-Divisionen
nicht ausgebildet : 5 ID
Source "The Blitzkrieg Legend P 33
Conclusion : the main reason for German victory in 1940 was not the quality of their divisions, but the big deficiencies on Allied side .
Most French, Belgian and Dutch soldiers ( including officers and NCOs ) were reservists who had had only a summary training and their active peace divisions did no longer exist : they were diluted by the transfer of reservists : most officers and NCOs were reservists on allied side .And a lot of them were no good .
It is wrong to talk of German good and bad points only .
The WM had not to be good, but only to be better than the opponent .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2021 16:27

Hi ljadw,

Thank you. You reinforce my point above that in 1939-40 the German army depended very heavily on the quality of its Welle I divisions of young, recently trained 2-year conscripts and had very limited trained reserves behind them under the age of 40. The intervening untrained year groups were those that had missed out on military service because the Versailles Treaty forbade conscription and drastically reduced the regular army to 100,000 12-year regulars, making it impossible to build up large reserves of trained military manpower.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2021 16:39

Hi Guys,

Just for general interest:

The later Year Groups were first called up on the following dates:

1916 - 1/10/37
1917 - 1/10/38
1918 - 26/8/39
1919 - 26/8/39
1920 - 1/10/40
1921 - 1/2/41
1922 - 5/9/41
1923 - 15/4/42
1924 - 15/10/42
1925 - ?/5/43
1926 - ?/12/43
1927 - ?/7/44
1928 - End 1944
1929 - End March 1945.

Thus the Class of 1916 seems to have been 21 when called up, but the class of 1929 was called up at the age of 16.

Sid.

Richard Anderson
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Richard Anderson » 19 Mar 2021 16:40

Sid Guttridge wrote:
19 Mar 2021 08:11
Hi Richard Anderson,

I did not say that a total of 156,556 casualties was insignificant. I posted, ".....relatively light loss to themselves".
I know you did not, but it is what your statement,
Well, they [1. Welle Infanterie] were the remarkably fast moving boots on the ground of a force that over ran most of western and central Europe with relatively light loss to themselves.
implied. By my rough count 33 of the divisions of HG-A and B were 1. Welle, most in the front line. Add ten Panzer divisions. Out of 72 divisions engaged - more or less. The likelihood is that average division suffered around 2,000 casualties in what was effectively a month+ of operations. Yet you implications is that the 1. Welle divisions suffered relatively light casualties...does that mean the other 39-odd Panzer and 2.-4. Welle divisions suffered relatively heavy casualties?

Anyway, what is your evidence for any of this?
Casualties are the currency that armies use to gain advantage. The advantages gained to Germany by its casualties in Poland, France and elsewhere in Western Europe were out of all proportion to the price paid. I say "relatively" light because they certainly were compared with their opponents, Germany's own in its last war and in the second half of the current one.
Well, of course. So then you agree an average of 2,000 per month was not actually "light", just "light" compared to the annihilation of most of their enemies armies? A large portion of which surrendered?
This was all achieved with just three or four years worth of 2-year conscripts forming the cutting edge and essential boots on the ground of the Army. Poland and France, with their inter-war conscription, might be described as "nations in arms". Because of the lingering impact of the Versailles restrictions, Germany in 1939-40 could probably not yet be, whatever Hitler's aspirations.
Actually, the 1. Welle divisions were created from the Reichsheer, so had seven years of expansion through drafts before the war. By 1 September, about 78% of its personnel were active regulars. Yes, the last 12 divisions raised were in 1936, but the formations "created" in 1938 were actually Austrian regular troops.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 18:03

You post, "However, i would point out that the assumption that more training or even any training at all must be advantageous is a fallacy and this has been shown many times." Really? Where?

In the health service and health and safety sectors for one. You may recall the various pushes for Bike Ed courses, particularly pushed in the 90s precisely on the basis that it is logical that training must be advantageous. However the findings of a number of studies of the target outcome (ie whether there is a reduction in accidents) found either no effect or worse still, increases in injuries and fatalities in the trained groups, particularly among boys. This was ascribed to, among others, parents thinking that the Bike Ed course 'immunised' their children against road risks.

In my own field of pressure injury prevention, we found that training relevant staff did not reduce the incidence of pressure injury among our patients. At least one of my colleagues found that worse still, the greater the education in pressure injury prevention among ward managers, the greater the incidence of pressure injuries in their patients. He followed up these findings with interviews with the managers in question and concluded that the reason might be that training gave these managers the illusion that they could control a situation which in reality was uncontrollable - much the same as the Bike Ed example.

Finally regardless of who copied who, as you point out, the Italians also had the benefit of pre-service military training and a 2-year (I think, please correct me if I am wrong) conscript training yet did not produce particularly effective soldiers or armies in 1939-41 and the same can be said of the Soviets.

gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 18:21

No it wasn't it was a full sized huge aeroplane.
Which one? The 1857 was an unmanned machine. The 1874 one (which you have illustrated) was a full-sized machine but evidently not 'huge'.
I wonder are you really sane ?
Claiming that Wrights developed an aeroplane...2 bicycle repairman from Ohio ?
The old "its the rest of the world that is mad argument". Good luck with that one. As I pointed out, the Wright brothers had done a heck of a lot more than repair bikes and most aeronautical historians agree that their background in practical bicycle engineering was of great asset to them in aircraft design and building.
You can clearly see it was operating from wheels like real aeroplanes do.
So does my work trolley but no one except perhaps yourself would claim that it is an airplane. And vice-versa, everyone (except perhaps yourself) would agree that a Vought Kingfisher is an aeroplane even though it does not have wheels. The landing gear is irrelevant to a definition of a functional aeroplane. The ability to take off unassisted, fly a certain distance in the air under its own power and land, all whilst carrying a pilot, are. The Monoplane failed the first part of the definition, something which virtually everyone accepts.

David Thompson
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by David Thompson » 19 Mar 2021 18:29

A post from Topspeed, containing an offensive personal remark about another forum member, was removed. Mind your manners, Topspeed.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2021 18:36

Hi Richard.

I cannot be held responsible if you misinterpret, ".....relatively light loss to themselves" as "a total of 156,556 casualties was insignificant".

You also post accurately, "Yet you implications is that the 1. Welle divisions suffered relatively light casualties." Not implication. I am saying that directly. What the Germans had failed to do over four years in WWI at the cost of about 1,493,000 dead and missing, they had achieved in six weeks in 1940 for about 46,000 dead and missing. This was about the same as the average monthly deaths suffered by the German Army on the Western Front for four years in WWI.

You ask, "So then you agree an average of 2,000 per month was not actually "light", just "light" compared to the annihilation of most of their enemies armies? A large portion of which surrendered?" Again, I posted "relatively light", not "light".

Secondly, I have the Germans deploying at least 93 divisions in the West. This would give average divisional losses of more like 1,600, including those inflicted by the British, Belgians and Dutch and those suffered by corps and army troops.

A disproportional share of German casualties in 1940 was probably borne by the Welle I divisions, as they were leading the charge, so 1,600 or even 2,000 casualties is probably a significant underestimate for them and an overestimate for Welle III-VIII divisions.

I would certainly include the prisoners amongst the dividends bought by the losses of the campaign, along with the indefinite occupation of territory and the creation of strategic depth, and access to industries and resources for the duration.

You post, ".....the 1. Welle divisions were created from the Reichsheer". They were created by expanding the Reichsheer's seven infantry divisions to 24 and then 36. This was done by expanding its 100,000 man regular cadre and introducing 2-year conscription for up to 500,000 men annually. The Austrian divisions were based on a 30,000-man regular army and were expanded by similar measures after the Anschluss. The same with 46th Infantry division in Sudetenland and in late 1939 60th Infantry Division from Danzig. (I think 50th Infantry Division fits in there somewhere, as well.)

If I remember correctly, by September 1939 two year-groups of conscripts had been stood down after completing their service, a third was within a month of completing its service and a fourth was just under halfway through its service. The fifth intake was due on 1 October.

I think, ”By 1 September, about 78% of its personnel were active regulars” should probably read “active conscripts” or something similar.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 19 Mar 2021 18:50, edited 1 time in total.

gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 18:44

There is some truth in that, but does that mean we shouldn't try in order to try to tease out what the more important factors were?
No, if you can tease it out but you haven't done so and I have scant optimism that it is possible.
The French certainly decided that 2-year conscription, labour units and youth movements on the German model were one way to go.
While the British, with the additional benefit for their decision-making process of going through the actual war, concluded otherwise when they introduced conscription after WW2, settling for 18 months.
Poland in September 1939, however heroically the Poles may have fought, was not Serbia in 1914-15.
No, because unlike in Serbia, where the technological potential of both sides was to all intents and purposes equal, in Poland the technological as well as numerical superiority of the attacker was crushing and that's before we even get into comparing the geo-strategic situations or adding the Soviet invasion into the mix.

gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 19:22

The bulk of their infantry regiments were largely on foot like the Poles.
On foot yes, like the Poles no. There is a world of difference between marching laden down with gear on your back, all night, every night for days on end and fighting during each following day and marching with all your heavy gear on the company truck with plentiful rests and for relatively short periods only.

Be that as it may, you are the first in my experience to assert that the speedy collapse of Poland was the result of the alleged fleetness of foot of German stubble hoppers. Every opinion I have ever read previously saw it in German deployment of motorised and armoured forces supported by crushingly superior artillery and air power aided by the failure of Polish higher command structures.

ljadw
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by ljadw » 19 Mar 2021 19:34

Sid Guttridge wrote:
19 Mar 2021 16:27
Hi ljadw,

Thank you. You reinforce my point above that in 1939-40 the German army depended very heavily on the quality of its Welle I divisions of young, recently trained 2-year conscripts and had very limited trained reserves behind them under the age of 40. The intervening untrained year groups were those that had missed out on military service because the Versailles Treaty forbade conscription and drastically reduced the regular army to 100,000 12-year regulars, making it impossible to build up large reserves of trained military manpower.

Cheers,

Sid.
But the situation on the allied side was worse : Belgium called up more than 500000 men, most ''untrained /no longer trained '' when they were called up and still untrained on May 10 1940 .
Both sides had no large reserves of trained military .
And the main reason for the German victory was not the quality of the Welle I divisions, but the fact that the allied reserve units were worse than the German reserve units .And it was the same for a lot of allied ''active '' divisions .
In January 1940 an uncle of my mother was mobilized ( he was 38 and father of two children ),the reason for his mobilization was not his military training ( which happened almost 20 years before ) but the fact that he could drive a truck and that the army needed chauffeurs.His military value was nonexistent .
And the situation in the Netherlands and France was not better .
WM strength in September 1939 (source :Blitzkrieg Legend P 23 )
Total : 4,5 million
Active : 1,3 million
Reserve I : 650000
WWI veterans : 1,2 million
Untrained : 810000
Construction Units : 430000

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2021 19:40

Hi gebhk,

In writing, "Really? Where" I was rather assuming, given the nature of AHF, that you had some military examples in mind when you wrote,".....I would point out that the assumption that more training or even any training at all must be advantageous is a fallacy and this has been shown many times." Do you have any?

As I mention above, the British were worried that, after four years intensively preparing to reinvade continental Europe, their troops might have gone stale through over training, so it was a perceived issue at the time. However, four years was twice the duration of German conscription.

The lesson I draw from your Bike Ed and medical examples is that the type of training had flaws, not that there was too much of it. Bike Ed courses still certainly exist, as my friend Laura's daughter Sophia recently had a paddy when she missed this year's course at her school because her bike was broken. I presume, or at least hope, that they have modified their instruction to both children and parents in the last 20 years. Likewise, I presume that pressure injury treatment hasn't stopped, but rather that training has been modified.

I am not sure how long Italian conscription was for. However, the measure of extending conscription is whether it improves the quality of a nation's soldiery, or not. Ideally this would lead to it surpassing that of rivals, but other national and cultural factors come into play that cannot guarantee this.

Yup, the British introduced conscription at 18 months in 1948. They put it up to two years in 1950 and there it remained for about 10 years, at which point it was abolished. Conscription in peacetime is very un-British and this was a unique exception. It seems to have been because there was trouble in Palestine, Cyprus, the Suez Canal Zone, Kenya, Malaya, etc., during the winding down of the Empire and there were simultaneous Cold war issues like the Berlin airlift and Korean War.

The technological as well as numerical superiority of the attacker was crushing against the Serbs as well, but they nevertheless drove larger and better equipped Austro-Hungarian forces out of their country twice in 1914 and held on for another year. This was done on top of significant losses in the two Balkan Wars of 1912-13. Serbian resistance, without direct support from the Allies, lasted a year and eventually forced the Central Powers to form a coalition of Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian forces to overwhelm them. Even then the core of their army escaped across Albania and, like the Poles a generation later, continued to fight in exile. I don't wish to denigrate the Poles, but they are not the only people with a stirring story to tell.

Cheers,

Sid.

gebhk
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Re: Were nazi-germans really superhumans ?

Post by gebhk » 19 Mar 2021 20:11

The technological as well as numerical superiority of the attacker was crushing against the Serbs as well
Any evidence to support this? In theatre, the numbers, if one includes the Montenegrins were slightly in favour of the Serbs in 1914. While the Austro-Hungarians enjoyed a slightly better ratio of machine guns and field guns per capita, the difference was not huge while in mobile troops - ie cavalry, the Serbians had a distinct edge. In heavy artillery there was virtual parity in absolute terms as far as number of tubes goes. The principal material deficiency for the Serbs was resupply - both of manpower and munitions but then the same was true of the Poles in 1939.

Aside from that it w as a fight between two very similar armies which relied on the foot, the horse and the train for mobility. The Polish army of 1939 was little different to the Serbian and Austro-Hungarian ones of 1914 while the German attacker had made a technological quantum leap and was blessed with motorised transport, armoured divisions, a crushing superiority in artillery at every level and the ability to attack rear areas from the air, virtually at will. In addition the Serbian army was allowed to mobilise and deploy fully prior to commencement of hostilities while much of the Polish army had to mobilise and deploy under aerial bombardment disrupting organisation and transport and the ability of the front line to be resupplied. And, as I said earlier, this doesn't even begin to address the issues of differences in numerical superiority and geo strategic considerations. When the Central powers achieved the 2:1 numerical superiority that the Germans and their Slovak allies initially enjoyed in Poland and attacked from three sides, much as Poland was to be 25 years later, the effects were much the same - Serbia was crushed in under two months. Even the total wartime per capita losses of the two hapless populations (of Poland and Serbia) were not dissimilar.

It is not an issue of stirringness or denigration of anyone but of the fact that the two situations (in 1914 and 1939) are just very different and therefore useless as a comparator.
Last edited by gebhk on 19 Mar 2021 22:15, edited 2 times in total.

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