The German Perspective

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Carl Schwamberger
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The German Perspective

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Feb 2020 03:11

Acquired a copy pf Countdown to D Day, by P Margaritis. Skimmed some 75% of the text & it looks on the surface a useful reference for the German side of six months preparations. Has a few references to Allied preparations. Appreciate opinions on the accuracy of the 'facts' and soundness of Margaritis remarks,

One thing I started seeing while bouncing through the passages is how the individual leaders were inconsistent on where they thought the invasion would come. Rommel is quoted and his decisions cited showing for most of the time he was convinced it would be pas de Calais. Sometime in April or May he changed and for most of May he saw the evidence as the Calvados coast.

The content is a wide cast net across the senior commanders views and decisions, but often refers to Rommels inspection tours. Every other page has a description of the damage Rommel sees after a Allied air raid, or the intrusion of some other Allied action. Numerous other pages refer to incidents in the endless arguments about the distribution and control of the armored corps. The debate was ongoing in December 43 and still underway 6th June.

Among other items.
Commander of the 7th Army wanted to transfer the 74th Corps from Brittany to Normandy in April, but was overruled. The 84th Corps received other reinforcements from Germany & the eastern front.

Goering is described as black balling a initiative to concentrate four FLAK regiments scattered across northern France in Normandy in April or May. Protection of the transportations system was the reasoning.

Late winter Rommel witnessed a test/demonstration of the beach obstacles. A '120 ton British landing craft' was run into a obstacle cluster. The tide was high enough the craft scraped over the structures instead of hanging up.

On a surprise stop/inspection Rommel found the local commander, a Oberst, badly hungover and asleep at 10:00 hours. Between looking pathetic and his Knights cross for heroism on the Eastern Front the man was not relieved & shot.

Jodl considering the implications of a March report how the average of 100+ daily French railway trains of late 1943 had fallen to a avg of 48 per day. The trend pointed to half that in May & even less in June.

When the LW Para units arrive in Normandy in April & May they surprise the local and senior commanders by saying the Bocage is no obstacle to parachute or glider landings. They could plan successful large scale air landings there. Hearing this division, corps, army commanders and Rommel are considering the implications of a corps of airborne landing in Normandy.

It the least is a interesting read for anyone with a depth or breadth of knowledge on the defense of France in 1944. Contrast to the large body of literature detailing the Allied preparations.

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jpz4
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Re: The German Perspective

Post by jpz4 » 03 Feb 2020 15:41

Sounds interesting, although without reading it I'd mainly be interested in seeing which sources/records were used for the book.
Commander of the 7th Army wanted to transfer the 74th Corps from Brittany to Normandy in April, but was overruled.
I've only seen mention of Gen.Kdo.LXXIV.A.K. being involved in such a plan, meaning the staff, not the entire corps. What's the source given for this? (And the date in the AOK 7 records seems to be from May, not April)
The 84th Corps received other reinforcements from Germany & the eastern front.
What eastern front reinforcements?

EDIT:
There's a fairly lengthy preview on a Dutch book selling website: https://www.bol.com/nl/p/countdown-to-d ... 109494519/
I've taken a look and I don't particularly like the way it has been written. Although the anecdotal/narrative approach is explained in the Foreword, which I do appreciate, I do think it's a bit old-school (but I'm not his target audience). He in fact refers to Carell's and Ryan's writing style and we also know that previous books with this kind of personal approach (including those of Ryan and Carell) are not necessarily accurate, objective and are frequently dramatized. There are significant risks in using that kind of books to write a new one. To quote an Amazon review: "a lot of time the author guesses what the person was thinking. Now these are probably well-informed guesses, but it's still subjective to read what Rommel was thinking lying in bed at night"
So, again, I wonder about the sources used. Unfortunately the bibliography is not available in the preview.

Am I wrong in thinking that Ruge has been used extensively?

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: The German Perspective

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Feb 2020 17:37

jpz4 wrote:
03 Feb 2020 15:41
Sounds interesting, although without reading it I'd mainly be interested in seeing which sources/records were used for the book.
The copy I'm looking at has six pages in the Bibliography section. About 20 books per page. Lots published by the Naval Institute Press. Theres a page of institutional sources, Naval Institute Archives, US Army-Carlisle, Canadian National Def HQ, some German military docs, among other things.
Commander of the 7th Army wanted to transfer the 74th Corps from Brittany to Normandy in April, but was overruled.
i've only seen mention of Gen.Kdo.LXXIV.A.K. being involved in such a plan, meaning the staff, not the entire corps. What's the source given for this? (And the date in the AOK 7 records seems to be from May, not April)
The 84th Corps received other reinforcements from Germany & the eastern front.
What eastern front reinforcements?
April is contained in 88 pages. I'll look for a list of units. Do recall the 7th Army commander had been asking for reinforcements most months.
EDIT:
There's a fairly lengthy preview on a Dutch book selling website: https://www.bol.com/nl/p/countdown-to-d ... 109494519/
I've taken a look and I don't particularly like the way it has been written. Although the anecdotal/narrative approach is explained in the Foreword, which I do appreciate, I do think it's a bit old-school (but I'm not his target audience). He in fact refers to Carell's and Ryan's writing style and we also know that previous books with this kind of personal approach (including those of Ryan and Carell) are not necessarily accurate, objective and are frequently dramatized. There are significant risks in using that kind of books to write a new one. To quote an Amazon review: "a lot of time the author guesses what the person was thinking. Now these are probably well-informed guesses, but it's still subjective to read what Rommel was thinking lying in bed at night"
So, again, I wonder about the sources used. Unfortunately the bibliography is not available in the preview.

Am I wrong in thinking that Ruge has been used extensively?
Cant tell. Given the detail & the 100+ other sources in the Bio section I suspect Ruge as a source would have given out quickly.

I didnt care for the chatty style of the writing, but the daily chronology has a utility I like. Lots of names present on inspections & @ meetings often have no direct context, but would be useful for searching for material on tangental research or crosschecking the event. Margaritas expends a lot of the text describing Rommels actions, inspections, conferences, garden tending. I'll wait till I've throughly read the book before judging that.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: The German Perspective

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Feb 2020 18:55

Another random extract or two...

17 Feb there is a war-game in Paris, run by Panzer Group Wests commander & staff. Primary object is to test the chosen strategy of defeating the enemy invasion with a large coordinated attack by PG West. Geyrs staff factor in political and economic considerations they feel affect both sides. In the post exercise discussion General Marcks, commander of the 84th Corps objects to the assumption the enemy will land other than in Normandy. Rommel objects citing naval officers judgement, there are too many reefs along the Cotientin coast. Theres remark there are fewer reefs on the Calvados coast. This is a opportunity for Rommel to object to the assumption the mechanized corps will be able to move normally, in daylight. Experience in Africa & Italy of his & the other Mediterranean veterans runs counter to that of the East Front veterans. I don't know if this is the first time this subject has come up in Rundsteads command, but the exercise is described as a smooth by the numbers movement, massing, and attack by the panzer corps. The description has it the enemy force commander is not allowed to disrupt or attrit the mechanized forces.

18 February Runsteadt returns to Paris. Also message/s from OKW indicate Hitler is concerned with information from 'Enemy Forces West' that makes him think the invasion will be in Brittany. What additional work that make for Rundsteads staff is not mentioned. Perhaps they are dismissing messages like that?

Rundsteadt & others start yet another inspection tour of the coast defenses. The commander of the 275th Inf Div reports he has a one regiment HQ, two untrained inf battalions & a small artillery group. A regiment HQ & three battalions are ordered transferred from other units to give the division some utility. 19 Feb. Guderian observed the crew drills of the Panzer Leher division & was very unimpressed with the new members efforts at the basics. At the start of the day Bayerliens unit commanders had told him the division was combat ready.

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