Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9554
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Jul 2021 20:32

On one Youtube site the presenter mentioned that there were as few as 40,000 German troops in France in the Spring of 1942.

This seems inherently unlikely as it would amount to just 1,000 men to hold down each million of the French population and simultaneously guard against invasion. It is also less than half the strength of Vichy's Armee Nouvelle.

How many men and field divisions did the German Army have in France in Spring 1942?

Cheers,

Sid.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4367
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Jul 2021 21:36

There were roughly 25 divisions in Ob.West as of late June 1942.
"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

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 1023
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by Loïc » 29 Jul 2021 21:42

That is a very well known and heavily dubious "Paxtonian" figure and slogan who had provoked many critics about the credibility and bad faith of this francophobic Historian usually complacent with nazi occupation in France with ulterior motives,
he counts only the soldiers, "with an average age of 48 years", from the Landesschützen Bataillons - 40 340 men in march 1942 in northern occupied zone [without Alsace-Moselle and Nord Pas-de-Calais] because he considers that only these units had really occupation and security tasks and not at all the rest of the Wehrmacht...according to him...the French people knew an other reality and have an other vision

actually there were 520 000 men in France Belgium Netherlands the 1st july 1942
in a thread CNE503 identifying the units, indicated us that there were not under around 400 000 men for France, ten times more than Paxton's 48-years old occupiers

the proportion can't be calculated either as 40 000 old poors valetunidarian guards for 40 millions of course as served by Paxton even with such figure because there was still a free unoccupied zone while a part of the population was in Germany (Alsace-Moselle and POW's) and as said not even Nord-Pas-de-Calais

aquarya
Member
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Jan 2012 07:08
Location: Hamburg

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by aquarya » 30 Jul 2021 07:29

If you're counting men, why not count soldiers + administrators, as the latter also enforced the occupation? How many Gestapo? How many governmental bureaucrats? How many female auxiliaries?

Is there is a good book or other source which details: 1) units, 2) location, 3) timeframe of German units in occupied France from 1940-44?

I really would appreciate such a resource. Many thanks.

CNE503
Member
Posts: 2388
Joined: 23 Aug 2010 12:01
Location: Dijon, Bourgogne, France

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by CNE503 » 30 Jul 2021 08:00

Indeed Loïc, it was a very old topic (late 2005 IIRC). You can find it here (in French): http://siteedc.edechambost.net/Paxton/A ... ectifs.htm

Paxton did not count the combat units in the occupation forces, that's why he found such a low figure for these ones. But it is untrue, if not dishonest, to count them this way.

I found the following approximations only for the combat divisions:
- May 1941: 450.000 men (30 divisions, included 5 for the OKH general reserves for USSR);
- November 1941: 395.000 men (28 divisions, without counting 22. Panzer-Division, 5., 8. and 28. Leichte-Divisionen);
- May 1942: 249.000 men (23 divisions, including two armored and two infantry depleted divisions just coming from USSR).

It was approximations because I used average figures depending of the divisions Wellen:
- May 1941, 3., 6., 13. and 14. Wellen: 15.500 men per division;
- November 1941, same figure for the 3., 6., 13. and 14. Wellen, 11.000 men for those of the 15. Welle.
If these divisions were not as strong as I described them (for instance: 12.000 men instead of 15.500, 9.000 men instead of 11.000), the figures are lower but still far above Paxton's ones:
- May 1941: 360.000 men;
- November 1941: 318.000 men.

And I did not take into account staffs (Oberbefehlshaber West/Heeresgruppe D, AOK 1, 7 and 15, corps HQs, Militärbezirke, etc.), units under division level (Panzer-Brigaden 100 and 101), etc.

Between July 1940 and July 1944, there were always between 60 and 75 Landesschützen-Bataillone (I found 69 battalions as of February 1943), which represented at least 55.000 men only for these ones.

Obviously, there were never less than at least 300 or 350.000 - probably a lot more - German soldiers in France after summer 1940.

Regards,
CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

Jan-Hendrik
Member
Posts: 8407
Joined: 11 Nov 2004 12:53
Location: Hohnhorst / Deutschland

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 30 Jul 2021 09:03

Not to forget police units, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe personal...

Jan-Hendrik

CNE503
Member
Posts: 2388
Joined: 23 Aug 2010 12:01
Location: Dijon, Bourgogne, France

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by CNE503 » 30 Jul 2021 09:12

Yes, of course. That's why Paxton largely underestimated German military presence in France between 1940 and 1944, only taking into account Landesschützen units dedicated to occupation duty while combat units obviously contributed to fight the Resistance around their area of deployment.

Moreover, as of September 1942, the Germans established the system "training while occupying" and numerous Ersatzheer units (8 divisions: 148., 156., 157., 158., 159., 165., 182. and 189. Reserve-Divisionen) were also deployed in France and served as occupation units.

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3188
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Jul 2021 17:49

CNE503 wrote:
30 Jul 2021 09:12
Yes, of course. That's why Paxton largely underestimated German military presence in France between 1940 and 1944, only taking into account Landesschützen units dedicated to occupation duty while combat units obviously contributed to fight the Resistance around their area of deployment.

Moreover, as of September 1942, the Germans established the system "training while occupying" and numerous Ersatzheer units (8 divisions: 148., 156., 157., 158., 159., 165., 182. and 189. Reserve-Divisionen) were also deployed in France and served as occupation units.

CNE503
Hitler's Atlantic Wall was garrisoned. Several static divisions were raised for this purpose in the 7xx series.

Furthermore, in the context of any second front Hitler's directive in July correctly identified the area between Cherbourg and Dieppe as potential targets for a sea bourne landing and ordered the transfer of the SS Corps and a Fallschirmjaeger Division to France. The 10th Panzer Division was already there.

CNE503
Member
Posts: 2388
Joined: 23 Aug 2010 12:01
Location: Dijon, Bourgogne, France

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by CNE503 » 31 Jul 2021 10:12

Yes, 10. Panzer-Division was included in my "May 1942: 249.000 men (23 divisions, including two armored and two infantry depleted divisions just coming from USSR)", with 6. Panzer-Division, 15. and 106. Infanterie-Divisionen.
II. SS-Panzerkorps was sent in France later (Leibstandarte SS "Adolf Hitler" and SS-Division "Das Reich" in July, SS-Division "Totenkopf" in October), 7. Flieger-Division was repatriated to Germany in July 1942.

May 1942:
- occupational duty: 302., 319., 320., 321., 327., 332., 333., 335., 337., 708., 709., 711., 712. and 715. Infanterie Divisionen, plus 716. which was sent to Belgium between February and May 1942 but came back to France this month;
- just arrived from USSR: 6. and 10. Panzer-Divisionen, 15. and 106. Infanterie-Divisionen;
- still in France but in the process of joining USSR: 24. Panzer-Division, 305., 323., 336. and 340. Infanterie-Divisionen;
- total: 15 static or occupational divisions, four depleted divisions just coming from USSR, five divisions on the verge of departure.

In the following weeks, particularly as of July, the German strength in France was strongly reinforced. But in May 1942, when this strength was at its lowest level since summer 1940, the divisions manning the "Atlantikwall" from Biarritz to Dunkerque was at least 200.000 men strong (if the divisions manpower strength was only 10.000 men), more probably 250.000 men strong.
You have to add the manpower strength of the HQs (corps, armies, Oberbefehlshaber "West"), their organic assets, the specific units that manned the defenses of the Wall (Marine-Artillerie-Abteilungen, Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie-Abteilungen), the Luftwaffe units, etc.

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

aquarya
Member
Posts: 45
Joined: 17 Jan 2012 07:08
Location: Hamburg

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by aquarya » 31 Jul 2021 11:03

any reference books on these units while they were posted in France, i.e. their location and dates while in France (not unit histories)?

CNE503
Member
Posts: 2388
Joined: 23 Aug 2010 12:01
Location: Dijon, Bourgogne, France

Re: Were there really only 40,000 German troops in France in Spring 1942?

Post by CNE503 » 01 Aug 2021 09:06

You can find anything related to these matters on www.lexikonderwehrmacht.de. Most of the informations on this website comes from Tessin.
CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”