Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

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Urmel
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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2008 11:58

FMModel wrote:So how did the division status sink (as of yet I do not have a rating for the division post-Stalingrad) to the level of one of the lowest rated divisions on the Italian front? Why did the number of veterans NOT promote a better "inner quality"? Could quality of training during reconstitution and prior to deployment have had a bigger influence? Shortfalls in equipment? Status of the division from motorized to panzergrenadier - differences in tactics/deployment?
There is an organisation studies PhD in the answer to that question. Here are some points that maybe of relevance:

- the specialists who were withdrawn may not have been from combat elements of the division, but from staff/2nd echelon parts (so-called 'non-essential' personnel; many of the combat echelon leaders may well have been dead by the time the withdrawal started, or not been allowed to go in order not to weaken the front further).
- merging with 345. ID is essentially a reverse take-over of the remains of 29. PzGrD with 345. ID. It is probably instructive to look at the rating of 345. ID before the merger. I have myself seen a small and quite good government department being merged with a large and rubbish one. The result was that the good people in the smaller department (who were expected to impose their style on the larger department to increase its performance) all left in frustration very quickly and the combined department went to the lowest common denominator.
- Lack of esprit de corps even amongst the 29. veterans, because the returning wounded/holiday men of 29. presumably came from random parts of the division, and did not constitute a unit before being wounded or going on leave.

Just some ideas.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Qvist
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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Qvist » 30 Nov 2008 13:05

- the specialists who were withdrawn may not have been from combat elements of the division, but from staff/2nd echelon parts (so-called 'non-essential' personnel; many of the combat echelon leaders may well have been dead by the time the withdrawal started, or not been allowed to go in order not to weaken the front further).
I think that can probably be ruled out. It was not specialists who were withdrawn, it was EVERYONE who belonged to the division. There were very strict and clear orders to transfer "ehemalige 6.Armee-Soldaten" back for the re-establishments, and a long round of reports from the affected divisions to determine the exact number of these troops. I doubt any significant numbers were retained. Also, since they largely consisted of Urlauber and Genesene, many, perhaps most, of them will have belonged to combat elements of the division.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2008 13:27

That's clearer now. I thought we were talking about withdrawal out of the encirclement.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2008 13:28

Qvist wrote:
and as is shown in Newton's "Retreat of Army Group North" (books in storage, so I can't look it up now), received relatively speaking far more replacements than other Army Groups.
That's an interesting and surprising claim by Newton, which I do not think is correct. But it depends on relative to what. Do you remember any more detail about this?
Relative to number of losses. I am going to make up numbers now to show the gist of the argument:

AG North loses 100,000 men and receives 90,000 in replacement (90%).
AG Centre loses 400,000 men and receives 320,000 in replacement (80%).
Ergo AG North is doing relatively better in replacing its losses - you may have better data and be able to correct this view. In Newton, this was put down to proximity of the AG to its base Wehrkreis I for replacements (on 22 June 1941 most of the divisions in the AG came from WKs I and II: 1., 11., 21., 61., 121., 217., 291. all from WK I; 12., 32. ID, 12. PD were from a close-by WK, WKII Pommern).

I read this years ago, and while I know it is in Newton's book, I can not remember if it is a claim by Newton in his editor's intro, or in one of the German generals' papers which make up the book.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by trollelite » 30 Nov 2008 14:31

Just one thing for 29 Division.

Remember, unlike other "stalingrad division", this one was hold as Armee reserve until soviets launched their offensive. This means it was encircled almost in full strength, so very high percent of combat element later became irrecoverable losses.

Many other divisions, after weeks of intensive battles, were already bloodied white. Unnecessary peresonal, such as tank crews without tank, or technicians, remained in rear area. The battle in the city degraded to a mouse war of infantry and combat engineer, so there is no reason to keep useless mouths in the end of an already badly extended supply line to feed.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by trollelite » 30 Nov 2008 14:45

And I think the analoge of Romanian Army is very inappropriate. Several reasons:

First, it is to do with Romanians serving in Romanian Army, not German Army. They suffered defeat mostly because of failure of leadership and organisation, which has relatively little to do with ordinary soldiers.

Second, the education level. In such nation as Germany, even people from rural area generally received 10 years or more education, which cannot be said in such as Romania.

Third, while recruits have regional character, the army is not. The army is organized in a whole, nationwide basis. While recruits from rural area do lack some virtue that claimed by people from cities, for example skill with vehicles, organisation and cooperation ability, the army already provide them. The virtue of rural people, such as better ability of endure hardship of long time campagin is, however, cannot easily developed by merely several months (or,later, weeks) of training. Especially in Ostfront. There the war is basically long-time boring but hard campaign life combined with short-time intensive and brutal combat. And Russia is basically a rural country. Why should be surprising that rural people are more adaptive to such environment?

I am not launching this post as another "who is the best" game? It is a serious discussion over regional character and the effect of campaign environment to soldiers.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Qvist » 30 Nov 2008 14:48

Remember, unlike other "stalingrad division", this one was hold as Armee reserve until soviets launched their offensive. This means it was encircled almost in full strength, so very high percent of combat element later became irrecoverable losses.

Many other divisions, after weeks of intensive battles, were already bloodied white.
That is not entirely correct. 29. ID (mot.) lost roughly 1,000 men in the last two Dekaden of September alone, and will no doubt also have suffered considerable losses in October and November.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Qvist » 30 Nov 2008 14:50

Relative to number of losses. I am going to make up numbers now to show the gist of the argument:

AG North loses 100,000 men and receives 90,000 in replacement (90%).
AG Centre loses 400,000 men and receives 320,000 in replacement (80%).
Ergo AG North is doing relatively better in replacing its losses - you may have better data and be able to correct this view. In Newton, this was put down to proximity of the AG to its base Wehrkreis I for replacements (on 22 June 1941 most of the divisions in the AG came from WKs I and II: 1., 11., 21., 61., 121., 217., 291. all from WK I; 12., 32. ID, 12. PD were from a close-by WK, WKII Pommern).

I read this years ago, and while I know it is in Newton's book, I can not remember if it is a claim by Newton in his editor's intro, or in one of the German generals' papers which make up the book.
Thanks Urmel. On those terms he may be right. I'll try to have a look at that when I have the opportunity.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by trollelite » 30 Nov 2008 14:55

Qvist wrote: That is not entirely correct. 29.mot.ID lost roughly 1,000 men in the last two Dekaden of September alone, and will no doubt also have suffered considerable losses in October and November.

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You read Kehrig's "stalingrad" then you could see others suffered far worse.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2008 15:33

trollelite wrote:Second, the education level. In such nation as Germany, even people from rural area generally received 10 years or more education, which cannot be said in such as Romania.
While I cannot comment on differences in the Romanian and German pre-war education systems, I can assure you that you are wrong. Even in the 1960s the vast part of pupils did not receive 10 years, let alone more than that of education. The relevant law (Reichsvolksschulpflichtgesetz) of 1938 introduced 8 years of schooling as mandatory. That's what everybody got, and in rural areas for the vast majority of pupils that would have been it.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Urmel » 30 Nov 2008 15:35

trollelite wrote:
Qvist wrote: That is not entirely correct. 29.mot.ID lost roughly 1,000 men in the last two Dekaden of September alone, and will no doubt also have suffered considerable losses in October and November.

cheers
You read Kehrig's "stalingrad" then you could see others suffered far worse.
You're missing the point. You said it was encircled in 'almost full strength' (an absolute statement). This can hardly have been the case considering the losses it suffered in September already. How this compares to other divisions (a relative comparison) is a completely different question.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by krichter33 » 15 Jan 2013 07:16

This was a fascinating discussion. Finally an intelligent thread about the quality of certain divisions based on statistical data directly from Korps. I was wondering if anyone had any more information about the ratings system that the Korps developed.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by RJ55 » 16 Jan 2013 05:26

It is my understanding that the German command tried to make all their divisions as well-trained as possible. Of course some units were regarded as elite [even if the truth was a little different] and so recieved priority in equipment, personnel and training resources.
I think a lot of luck was also involved. i give two examples of what I mean: the 25th panzer division and the 302 infantry div.

The 25th was a green division [untried in combat, although some of it's officers etc might have had some experience in other units prior to joing the 25th]. The 25th was also very understrength when deployed to Russia. It had only one parly equipped panzer battation of about 45 Pz IV's, but was given a company of 15 Tigers by Guderian. The two Pz gren regiments really only mustered a battalion each as regards number of rifles, and there were other shortages in arty etc as well. It was sent into very difficult and dangerous battle in two parts 125 kilometers apart, and the promised reinforcement of a kampfgruppe of SS Pz grens arrived late.

Most of the division panicked and some units retreated. As time wore on the division, or at least most of its major comabt units settled down and its performance became more adequate. It think given the circumstances of its combat debut, it can't really be blamed for its performance.

Now the 302, which as an ordinary second-line unit on sentry duty in France. And yes, it became known as the famous "Dieppe division". Though repulsing the british-canadian raid was no easy task, at least they were quite prepared and seetled in their positions.
Thus experienced in combat, they deployed later to Russia and served with distinction, particularly on the Chir river, and served out the rest of the war as a competent division.
Even though i am comparing an infantry unit with a Panzer unit, I think the comparision is still valid. The Pz unit was well-armed but understrenght, and the Infantry unit was up to strength, but only had the infantry equipments of an Inf Div.

The main difference was in their respective deployments and handling. Had the 25th been nearer full TOE and been given a less difficult initial task, its operational history may have been very different.

My conclusion is that the German army's training program was of quite high and uniform standard in general and compared to some of its enemies. This is why it won so many encounters early in the war, and why I the whole german army was something of an elite force in these terms. Probably a little too much is made of the Panzer forces, although they were vital in attack and very important in defence.

Even very late in the war, the allies kept on making mistakes such as the battle of the bulge and mainly won by overwhelming force. Of course, there was Patton, and some other good generals on the allied side, including Russia, so i think [in general] the germans [man for man] outperformed the allied soldiers far more often than not. in this sense, i regard the Heer as a whole as an elite force in military terms.

Edited. of course I meant 45 Pz Iv's, not 445! :-)
Last edited by RJ55 on 16 Jan 2013 18:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by krichter33 » 16 Jan 2013 07:00

Excellent post. I wish there was more information available about the different infanterie divisions, whether infanterie, jager, ext... Does anyone by any chance have any more information about Trevor Dupuy's Quantified Judgment Method? Thanks.

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Re: Elite infantry division of Wehrmacht

Post by Kilgore Trout » 16 Jan 2013 08:56

Agree 100% with Dietrich. Note also how the German grading system varies from the U.S. system, which assigns a latter (A, B, or C) for unit size (A being the largest) and a number based on "morale" (1, 2, or 3 , 3 being highest).

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