Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

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Amarino122
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Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by Amarino122 » 10 Sep 2021 00:47

What's your theory on this. I believe Army Group North performed more effectively and efficiently than all of the other German army groups on the Eastern Front. Although they didn't capture Leningrad due to them pulling their only panzer army they managed to hold the front there for 3 years shattering several major offensives like the Demyansk Pocket and we're able to hold their ground, they destroyed the 2nd shock army at the Battle of Lyuban and captured their general, they also shattered another counter attack in The Sinyavino Offesive that summer. Although they broke through at Schlesselburg and broke a small hole in the siege during Operation Irksa they limited their advance and kept Leningrad under siege and stoped Operation Polar Star. One of their bigger defeats was the Leningrad Novgorad Offensife which drove them completely away from Leningrad and forced them back into the Baltic countries. Nevertheless they didn't get destroyed and held firm and have the Russians a bloody nose at the Battle of Narva where they repelled several Russian offensive with far less casualties than the Russians. It wasn't until Army Group Center was completely destroyed and their flanks were exposed that they were driven out of the Baltic countries. Nevertheless they retreated to the Courtland Pennisula where they held their ground and didn't surrender until near the end of the war. Throughout the war they were not supported by any panzer armies and had less men to work with but were the only army groups to not get destroyed or encircled unlike Army Group Center and South which contained way more units and a substantial panzer force. I would say they played the best performance of all of the army groups. What are your opinions on the matter?

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stg 44
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Re: Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by stg 44 » 11 Sep 2021 02:35

Eh, different situation there versus elsewhere. They had a shorter distance to the front from supply centers and the help of sea borne supply, extensive help from the Baltic peoples, terrain that favored the defense (especially as it wasn't good terrain for armor and rapid advances after 1941), less Soviet focus on them compared to other army groups, and arguably less effective Soviet commanders assigned against them as it was considered a relative backwater.

Plus IIRC that army group also had disproportionate artillery formations assigned to it given the nature of the situation. So their relatively good performance was a function of the Soviets considering it a 'lesser' area than the other sections of the front. The retreat from Leningrad didn't result in an encirclement due to the terrain hindering armor and errors by the Soviet commanders and the front then compressed, which made retreating even easier relative to an advancing opponent.

Then they fought in a very restricted area with flanks covered by the Baltic Sea and AG-Center, while later they were considered a backwater after being cutoff and again had good defensive terrain to cover, naval support, and priority for supplies and replacements. Not only that, but they weren't burdened nearly as much by Hitler's interference in strategic matters, such as him forcing AG-Center to stay in the 'Belarussian shelf' despite requests to pull back which resulted in the Bagration offensive.

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AETIUS 1980
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Re: Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by AETIUS 1980 » 11 Sep 2021 06:09

Hello,
another point and not the least with regard to the performance of the Heeresgruppe Nord; the effectiveness of its divisions. Indeed, this is linked to many factors, the most important being the ability to maintain sufficient human capital of experienced individuals after each intensive engagement. From 1941 to 1944, there was an effective desire to put the various subordinate infantry divisions to rest (reconstitution, training and assimilation of new recruits, etc., as will be seen from the histories of 96, 126, 132. Inf.Diven) . The important contribution of the late 11 Army in the fall of 1941 will be a plus in the reduction of the allocated sectors and de facto of the multiple rotations carried out. This game of multiple transfers is certainly made viable by the topography offered which favors defensive operations.
The result is a reduced wear and tear for the units during these 4 years and where the effectiveness of the Wehrkreis will rise to its full force. The contribution of compact foreign training (250.Inf.Div, 15-19 and 20.SS.Fr.Gr.Diven, 300.zbVDiv, ...) cannot be excluded in the capacities offered to 16 and 18.Armee to preserve the capital of the purely German divisions. This is another observation that will arise with the Heersgruppe Kurland where multiple punctures operated for the benefit of other sectors (without obscuring other factors ..) will wear down the divisions to a threshold so important that they will only show 'a potential to be considered ridiculous and an effective value of the most reduced.
Regard

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stg 44
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Re: Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by stg 44 » 11 Sep 2021 15:35

AETIUS 1980 wrote:
11 Sep 2021 06:09
This is another observation that will arise with the Heersgruppe Kurland where multiple punctures operated for the benefit of other sectors (without obscuring other factors ..) will wear down the divisions to a threshold so important that they will only show 'a potential to be considered ridiculous and an effective value of the most reduced.
I'm not exactly clear on the meaning here, could you clarify a bit?

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AETIUS 1980
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Re: Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by AETIUS 1980 » 11 Sep 2021 19:05

OUI, no problem.
We can say shamelessly that for the year 1944 the Heeresgruppe Nord monopolized part of the attention of the German command, the means implemented between September and October, a period of tension with the Soviet breakthrough north of Memel and the approach of the borders of East Prussia. We observe a mass of armored units operated to contain these points, alongside a sustained action of the Luftwaffe, not to mention the engagement of the floating units of the Kriegsmarine. However, once the stagnation of the front becomes effective from November (I am concealing the various Russian offensives on Courland in order to come back to them later), we can observe among some German strategists a certain desire to evacuate this salient formed in northern Latvia. Repeated requests including that of GUDERIAN to evacuate this mass to the ports of Prussia and Pomerania were systematically refused by Adolf HITLER, supported under certain conditions by DÖNITZ.
So I come to my reflection;
a) If I do not question the investment made in the field of logistics for the benefit of the forces engaged in Courland until the beginning of January 1945, a staggered departure of the units engaged for the benefit of the 16 and 18.Armee operated significantly from November 1944. The departure of smaller divisions or entities were never replaced.
b) The creation of the Heeresgruppe Kurland on January 25 is accompanied by new transfers in view of the crisis along the Vistula, but also almost entirely interrupts the arrival of replacements communicated by the original Wehrkreis of the divisions deployed. The creation of emergency units behind the Heeresgruppe Nord did not help. There will be no reflection, moreover, on the impact of such reasoning, understandable from the outset.
c) This point on the renewal of personnel, in addition to the attrition imposed on the units, will change the structure of the infantry divisions from the Ternary base (3 infantry regiments) to binary (2 regiments, sometimes with the disappearance pure and simple of the Füsilier. Battalion, i.e. only 4 infantry battalions for a division). Artillery faced with a chronic lack of ammunition not to mention the replacement of equipment will be reduced to little, explaining the dissolution and transfers in the front line. These capacity reductions will have a perverse effect on tactical possibilities.The problem was the same with the Panzerjäger.Kpen / Abten which will not be renewed.

The final point of this long monologue, and it is my opinion it seems to me, which will regularly save the annihilation of the Heeresgruppe Kurland, is the lack of tactical thinking in the six Russian offensives. These are not synchronized, regularly diluted over space and resources too low to achieve a real breakthrough. Conversely, the fixing of German troops (will of the Russian hierarchy ?) will have a perverse effect and a lack that the German chain of command will regret between January and April 1945.


Still sorry to be so long.
And still a lot of things to say, compare, discuss, .....
Merci
AETIUS

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donwhite
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Re: Did Army Group North outperform the other army groups?

Post by donwhite » 16 Sep 2021 00:37

Steven H. Newton's "Retreat from Leningrad: Army Group North 1944/45" has a chapter devoted to this specific question covering many of the points already raised. Also David Grier's "Hitler, Donitz, and the Baltic Sea: The Third Reich's Last Hope, 1944-1945" also discusses aspects of this question, particularly more favourable divisional frontages and the superior ratio of Army level artillery assets supporting the army group's divisions when compared/contrasted to its southern neighbours.

Cheers

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