The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

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Imad
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The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Imad » 09 Sep 2019 01:22

Hello

Here’s an interesting take on a controversial topic on the Eastern Front. Think guy is using statistics to show how bloated German battlefield prowess against the Red Army is.

https://youtu.be/_7BE8CsM9ds

Do watch the clip and give your input. I’d be interested in hearing it. Thanks.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by I have questions » 09 Sep 2019 05:33

I feel it would be wrong to say the Germans didn't have an edge early on. From 1941-early 1943 The German officer corps was still relatively superior to the Soviets, however, by late 1942 the Soviet officer corps improved greatly. For most of 1943 the two sides were on-par with one another, both troop wise and officer wise. It is really in late 43' early 44' that the Soviets became better than the Germans, a number of factors contributed to this:

1). German manpower shortages resulted in rushed training and caused the new recruits to be of lesser quality than the days of 1933-42.
2). High casualties among officers resulted in less capable people (logistical officers, etc) taking field commands.
3). The Soviets were learning from their blunders while the Germans tended to make the same mistakes.

naturally this is only the manpower aspect, leaving out the industrial component, which I don't think it is in doubt what-so-ever that the Soviets had a clear edge.

the tricky thing is that it is hard to say these things and not generalize. A few German units remained highly capable combat formations (albeit seriously diminished) right up until the last day of the war, examples include the 4th and 5th Panzer Divisions as well as the GD, more exist but you get the idea. The same can be said for a few Soviet units in 1941.

The bottom line is, both sides had their advantages and disadvantages. The Germans had far better leaders, troops, and tech in the beginning all round, but that soon changed. Regardless of who said what, the Germans were able to hold on for 3 years to territory the Soviets lost in 3 months while being under supplied and undermanned (no doubt the genocidal policies of the Nazis hindered their ability to resupply men and equipment). The German defense was impressive, but so was the Soviet steamroller. In the end, both sides evolved and changed, there are far too many variables to give a direct answer, what period are you asking about, different units had different values, how much experience does the commander have, etc.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Stiltzkin » 09 Sep 2019 09:11

This has been addressed before:
http://www.operationbarbarossa.net/an-e ... ast-front/
http://www.operationbarbarossa.net/wp-c ... tation.pdf
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... 9608430270

It would be rather hard to swallow the point that the Red Army was able to surpass their opponents levels, based on existing evidence. On the contrary it deteriorated, in 1941 the RKKA performed better (compared to 44) on the tactical level (German monthly losses were the same and higher in regards to numerical strength of their opponent and circumstantial factors), but their efforts did not translate into operational success.
Index (tactical performance in comparison to 1941, factoring in quarterly, avg. front strength):
1941.....100
1942.....74
1943.....59
1944.....57
Even in the 4th quarter of 1944 the efficiency differential was about 12.15-20.09, resulting in a CEV range of ~2.5-3.45 (adjusted for posture) in favour of the Axis (1.94-2.4 in the major Summer offensives), i.e. on average, under the conditions of the environment and during that period, translating this equilibrium, 1 German Division was the equivalent of 3.5 Soviet ones (1.94, 2.4 respectively).
The disparity was heavily influenced by the involved factions developement levels and institutions, so unless the Soviets did not suddenly became more developed and that under the impact of a war.... :o
German manpower shortages resulted in rushed training and caused the new recruits to be of lesser quality than the days of 1933-42.
German manpower shortages emerged from the fact that Germany possessed an overall smaller and older population (leaving aside the fact that they had to split their forces), wasted in a conflict with an environment that favoured, amplified and consumed vast amounts of manpower. Additionally, the population under Nazi control could not been effectively utilized and integrated, a byproduct of the regimes obnoxious ideology.
Depending on the definition of quality and how to measure it (on the tactical, operational to strategic level), it still remains a relative term and should always be compared to the adversary.
In a prolonged war of attrition, nations will undergo a natural arms race, with a net increase in lethality in the protracted war, comes the loss of quality personnel, so it is relevant to observe how many more men can be fed into the campaign. While institutions will adapt to the ongoing war, manpower quality will suffer on all sides. Personnel will be shuffled and shifted, more unskilled (or illiterate) labour will be drawn to the front, this was not just confined to the German Army. A bureaucratic apparatus however, may not necessarily alter. Also, do note that the Soviets created a variety of "ad-hoc" formations from 41-42 onwards, as well.
2). High casualties among officers resulted in less capable people (logistical officers, etc) taking field commands.
Leadership is of course, of paramount importance and a chief point. The ratio of irrecoverables is definitely a key factor in understanding the later phases (for %loss/per day), but generally speaking, armies seek to minimize their casualties and maximize the opponents losses.
3). The Soviets were learning from their blunders while the Germans tended to make the same mistakes.
Learning effects apply to all belligerents, granted that the General Staff did indeed commit strategic mistakes with severe consequences, but this is rather generally formulated.
Here’s an interesting take on a controversial topic on the Eastern Front. Think guy is using statistics to show how bloated German battlefield prowess against the Red Army is.

https://youtu.be/_7BE8CsM9ds
Which one specifically? It reveals a severe lack of understanding of the issue at hand, especially manpower generation, force ratios and attack ranges, such as, e.g. (from the capture rate study phase I + II , TDI)
Attack range to loss ratio (July 1943):
All Soviet Attacks (18) 1.43 to 1 6.04 to 1
Soviet Low-odds Attacks (12) 1.02 to 1 3.92 to 1
0.51 - 1 0.34 to 1

All German Attacks (31) 1.34 to 1 0.30 to 1
German Low-odds Attacks (21) 0.99 to 1 0.27 to 1
0.63 - 1 0.42 to 1
It seems that the RKKA frequently suffered from inflexibility and showed difficulty in concentrating their forces.
Also, comparing the number of troops which were committed to major operations over the years may be illuminating:
http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00028.html
1941 (committed to operations):
Defensive operation Lithuania/Latvia 22 June-9 July 1941: 498,000
Defensive operation in Belorussia 22 June-9 July 1941: 627,000
Defensive operation in Western Ukraine 22 June-6July 1941: 864,000
Kiev strategic defeniosve operation 7 July – 26 September 1941: 627,000
Leningrad strategic defensive operation 10 July-30 September 1941: 517,000
Battle of Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941: 581,600
Donbass-Rostov strategic defensive operation 29 September-16 November 1941: 541,600
Moscow strategic defensive operation 30 September-5 December 1941: 1,250,000
Tikhvin strategic offensive operation 10 November-30 December 1941: 192,950
Rostov Strategic offensive operation 17 November- 2 December 1941: 349,000
Moscow strategic offensive operation 5 December 41-7 January 1942: 1,021,700

1942:
Rzhev-Vyazma strategic offensive operation 8 January-20 April 1942: 1,059,000
Voronesh-Voroshilovgrad strategic defensive operation 28 June-24 July 1942: 1,310,800
Stalingrad strategic defensive operation, 17 July-19 November 1942: 547,000
North Caucasus Strategic defensive operation 25 July-31 December 1942: 603,200
Stalingrad strategic offensive operation, 19 November-2 February 42/43: 1,143,500

1943:
Voronesh-Kharkov strategic offensive operation, 13 Jan-3 March 1943: 502,400
Kharkov defensive operation, 4-25 March 1943: 345,900
Kursk strategic Defensive operation, 5-23 July 1943: 1,507,166
Orel strategic offensive operation: 1,287,600
Belgorod-Kharkov strategic offensive operation, 3-23 August 1943: 1,144,000
Smolensk Kharkov strategic offensive operation, 7 August-2 October 1943: 1,252,600
Donbass strategic offensive operation, 13 August-22 September 1943: 1,011,900
Chernigov-Poltava strategic offensive operation, 26 August-30 Sept 1943: 1,581,300
Lower Dniepr strategic offensive operation, 26 September-20 December 1943: 1,506,000

1944:
Dniepr-Carpathian strategic offensive operation, 24 December 1943-17 April 1944: 2,406,000
Leningrad-Novgorod strategic offensive operation, 14 January-1 March 1944: 822,100
Byelorussian strategic offensive operation, 23 June-29 August 1944: 2,400,000
Lvov-Sandomierz strategic offensive operation, 13 July-29 August 1944: 1,002,200
Iassi-Kishinev strategic offensive operation, 20-29 August 1944: 1,314,200
Baltic strategic offensive operation, 14 September-24 November 1944: 1,546,400


The featured strengths in the video (I believe they are from Glantz) are also problematic, not to mention that they refer to a different category.
Furthermore, the devil is in the detail. If we rely on the official records, the irrecoverables suffered by the Wehrmacht in 44 (Verlustwesen), were beyond 922,929 (of which 238,998 KIA) vis 1,412,335 (of which 1,212,062 KIA) Soviet ones. For 1945: 389,578 (of which 122,968 KIA) vis 631,633 (of which 557,643 KIA), but these are incomplete. What is of interest here however, are the Soviet KIA.
I feel it would be wrong to say the Germans didn't have an edge early on.
That would be quite the understatement, maneuvering and the firepower differentials were truly pronounced but hardly different from WW1.
The bottom line is, both sides had their advantages and disadvantages.
Definitely. The Wehrmacht was not able to give as much ground as the RKKA did in 1941 and could not afford the same ratio of irrecoverables.
The Germans had far better leaders
Tacticians perhaps (median difference in service of approx. 9 years), strategists, not necessarily. The General Staff was playing checkers, the Stavka chess.
but that soon changed
No, not really, the arms race did not go in Soviet favour, but they were winning the war and plenty of know-how was awaiting them in Central Europe.
naturally this is only the manpower aspect, leaving out the industrial component, which I don't think it is in doubt what-so-ever that the Soviets had a clear edge.
No, the Soviets were economically weaker, one of the variables in the casualty infliction potential.

Anyway those are general statements, such an analysis would require a more thorough approach and also a suitable model, but even if we accept the authors raw figures, this does not result in the same potential (ratio presented in the video was 1.0 for irrecoverable losses), but a differential of 3.15 (1.77 adjusted for posture), since the strength of Bluefor (over time) declines with the "killrate" of the forces of Redfor over time, i.e. Bluefor(t)= Bluefor0-β*Redfor(t) and Redfor(t)= Redfor-α*Bluefor(t). The quotient of [α/β] describes their differential in casualty infliction potential. Bluefor is n times more capable than Redfor, so Bluefor= n*Redfor. Redfor enjoys a numerical superiority S over Bluefor, so Redfor=Bluefor*S.
Redfor(t)=Bluefor(t)*S
<=> Redfor(t)*Bluefor=Bluefor(t)*Redfor
<=> Bluefor(Redfor-α*Bluefor) = Redfor(Bluefor-β*Redfor)
<=> Bluefor*Redfor-α*Bluefor² = Redfor*Bluefor-β*Redfor²
<=> α*Bluefor² = β*Redfor²
<=> [α/β] = Redfor²/Bluefor²
<=> n = S²
<=> S= SQRT[n]
qed.
If they shared the same effectiveness, then [α/β] would have to equal 1. This can be expanded, for instance: Reinforcements, defensive posture or battle termination, ΔRedfor/Δt= -[(α/δ)*Bluefor + r(t)]-[β*Redfor(t)+r(t)]
Last edited by Stiltzkin on 09 Sep 2019 12:23, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Imad » 09 Sep 2019 12:08

It is really in late 43' early 44' that the Soviets became better than the Germans
[/quote]

How then does one explain Bagration? It was a crushing Soviet victory but the Germans still managed to inflict far higher casualties than they got.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Sep 2019 13:48

German battlefield superiority (offense and defense) was a major feature of the Eastern Front until Nov 1942. Afterwards there were only rare and ephemeral instances of offensive superiority while the defensive capability and ability to inflict high casualties in the defense remained. The Stats only show part of the overall picture.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Art » 09 Sep 2019 17:13

I have questions wrote:
09 Sep 2019 05:33
by late 1942 the Soviet officer corps improved greatly.
I doubt that. For many reasons the quality of Soviet officers training in 1942 was in its worst. The training course was shortened from pre-war 2 years to several months. Educational and physical requirements for candidates were lowered. Many, if not most, military schools were evacuated and had to accommodate in improvised establishments. Experienced instructors were taken to combat units. Those who stayed in many cases didn't have real war experience. Weapons and other equipment were also largely given as replacements to the front, and few were received instead. Etc etc.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Imad » 09 Sep 2019 18:20

Art wrote:
09 Sep 2019 17:13
I have questions wrote:
09 Sep 2019 05:33
by late 1942 the Soviet officer corps improved greatly.
I doubt that. For many reasons the quality of Soviet officers training in 1942 was in its worst. The training course was shortened from pre-war 2 years to several months. Educational and physical requirements for candidates were lowered. Many, if not most, military schools were evacuated and had to accommodate in improvised establishments. Experienced instructors were taken to combat units. Those who stayed in many cases didn't have real war experience. Weapons and other equipment were also largely given as replacements to the front, and few were received instead. Etc etc.
Art let me hazard a guess and say that had something to do with attrition? :)

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Art » 09 Sep 2019 20:18

No, commissions exceeded causalities by a very large value and led to overproduction of officers:
viewtopic.php?p=2215526#p2215526
This policy was changed practically overnight in mid-1943. The number and especially capacity of military schools was reduced, the training course - lengthened, threshold for candidates - increased, the number of officer positions - cut back, excessive officers were organized as a reserve pool, a mass of political officers were retrained and employed on command positions.
In general the story of Red Army's policy regarding the officer corps in the first two years of the war is a story of gross miscalculations and a lack of rational strategy and long-term planning.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by jesk » 09 Sep 2019 20:57

You are not there looking the reasons. From another topic quotes. The war went on areas where the Soviets had superiority in manpower by 3-4 times, artillery and tanks by 5-7 times. But what if the Wehrmacht goes on the counteroffensive, concentrating on the direction of the main blow, at least parity in forces. Soviet defense easily broke through, the Germans went into the operational space. Positional defense with a strong extension of the front allowed the Russians to bring the maximum number of forces into the battle. With German attacks, all this was easily surrounded.

Bagration

1 Baltic Front

After changing the borders on the night of June 6, the defense line north of Porechye moved to the 2nd Baltic Front. The front width for the 1st Baltic Front was reduced from 214 to 160 km.
With an average of almost double overall superiority in manpower and three to four times superiority in artillery and tanks over the enemy, the front command in the direction of the main attack in a strip 25 km wide (in the Volotovka, Toshnik section) concentrated more than 90% of the tanks, up to 80% of living force and mortars and more than 70% of artillery.

1 Belorussian front

out of 240 km of the total length of the front, a breakthrough of the enemy’s defense was planned on a 28 km stretch. The following was concentrated in the direction of the main attack: infantry divisions - 24 (or 62%), tanks and self-propelled guns - 806 (or 90%), field guns (division artillery, corps and RGK) - 2469 (or 93%), mortars - 1910 (or 63%).

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by I have questions » 10 Sep 2019 04:37

Art wrote:
09 Sep 2019 17:13
I have questions wrote:
09 Sep 2019 05:33
by late 1942 the Soviet officer corps improved greatly.
I doubt that. For many reasons the quality of Soviet officers training in 1942 was in its worst. The training course was shortened from pre-war 2 years to several months. Educational and physical requirements for candidates were lowered. Many, if not most, military schools were evacuated and had to accommodate in improvised establishments. Experienced instructors were taken to combat units. Those who stayed in many cases didn't have real war experience. Weapons and other equipment were also largely given as replacements to the front, and few were received instead. Etc etc.
thank you for the correction, as someone who primarily studies the Germans my knowledge of the Soviet military is not as great as of the Wehrmacht, the reason for my error is simply because 1942 was when things started going bad for the Germans in all their engagements from North Africa to the Eastern Front. :)

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Sep 2019 19:06

Stiltzkin wrote:On the contrary it deteriorated, in 1941 the RKKA performed better (compared to 44) on the tactical level (German monthly losses were the same and higher in regards to numerical strength of their opponent and circumstantial factors), but their efforts did not translate into operational success.
Does the concept of diminishing marginal returns enter into these calculations? The 7,000th tank should be less important than the 1,000th tank...

Assuming that the index in your post is relative to German performance, it's hard to grok these results absent a marginal returns factor. Like sure the Red Army's quality was declining but so was the Ostheer's.

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by Stiltzkin » 15 Sep 2019 08:33

Does the concept of diminishing marginal returns enter into these calculations? The 7,000th tank should be less important than the 1,000th tank...

Assuming that the index in your post is relative to German performance, it's hard to grok these results absent a marginal returns factor. Like sure the Red Army's quality was declining but so was the Ostheer's.
Yes it does. In fact, it does not matter which model or methodology is used, the results are similar and point towards the same. Another problem emerges with the case in which a relatively inexperienced unit would face the 7,000th tank with their respective veteran crew, or one that would suffer from combat exhaustion.
Furthermore, this is not just about tanks. The War in the East was not decided by tanks and such an assessement goes beyond tangible factors. If Faction A is declining relative to Faction B, but still possesses an advantage over B, then A more effective than B, unless the Red Army of 1941 was significantly better armed relative to 1944 levels (very unlikely).

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Re: The question of German battlefield superiority ion the Ostfront

Post by I have questions » 16 Sep 2019 03:42

The Eastern Front was far too large to make such a generalized statement like "this guy was better than that guy". From North to South, at its peak, the Eastern Front was 2,000 miles long. To reiterate what I meant in my post, depending on who was facing who, like if the GD went up against a poor quality Soviet division (I am aware of the difference in size between a German and a Soviet Division), the outcome of the battle would hardly be in doubt regardless of the environment. The same scenario can be used if a highly experienced Soviet division went up against a poor quality German division. The Germans may have had better training and better procedures on the tactical level, but on a front that is 2,000 miles long, if you don't have good logistics, you are toast. The Soviets had much better logistics (at least later once they had gotten the hang of offensive combat), and, later, air superiority. It is easier to transport your ammo and fuel when you have control of the sky :) . I will single out the last two years of the war for the sake of simplicity, in 1944, German manpower issues were only getting worse, by now the Soviets had figured out their craft and were, in many cases, rolling up the front with ease. But in some instances, like the 5th Panzer Division during Operation Bagration, the Soviets had difficulties with the few first rate divisions remaining in the Wehrmacht's arsenal. As late as March 1945 the Germans were having a few local successes, like the Müncheberg Panzer Division defending Reichsstrasse 1 west of Kustrin, or during the October invasion of East Prussia with the 1st ID at Schlossberg. But then there is logistics. The Germans were the worst with logistics, no matter how motivated a unit might have been, without fuel and ammo, there was nothing they could do. Being forced to leave valuable tanks or trucks behind because they can't keep them fueled. The Soviets didn't have an issue with this. They had plenty of tanks, they were improving their tactics, they had good reserves of men and didn't have the same issues of resupply, they had fuel and ammo, etc. They had almost done a U-turn from the old days of 1941. They knew what they needed to succeed on the offensive, ironically a lot of it from the Germans themselves. This is what I meant by advantages. The Germans may have been competent in the field with good NCOs, but their lack of good logistics negated the advantage because if you have a tank and you can't move, you can't fight effectively. The Soviets became better fighters later on (not as good as a German NCO who had been there since 41), and they had logistics. Despite their lower rank-and-file quality, they were decent at what they needed to do, combine this with logistics and you have and an effective war machine. If I have made any errors please tell me and I will either clarify or correct it.

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