Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
User avatar
Oleg Grigoryev
Member
Posts: 3953
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:06
Location: Russia

Postby Oleg Grigoryev » 06 Mar 2004 00:47

Andreas wrote:
oleg wrote:
Qvist wrote:If I may try to redraw your attention to one specific aspect - what exactly is wrong with Glantz's figures?

cheers
According To Glantz there 7 mobile corps actually there were 5 – 1st and 3rd mechanized 5th and 6th tank and 2nd Cavalry Guards. Actual number of troops that took part in the offensive was 362000. All numbers are from Orlov critique of Glantz book. His numbers are from the archive of ministry of defense. I can give you shelf and file number if you would like :)
http://gpw.tellur.ru/page.html?r=discuss&s=mars_orlov


Very interesting - is there an English translation of the critique?
first two pages on this thread http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/s ... readid=473

User avatar
Oleg Grigoryev
Member
Posts: 3953
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:06
Location: Russia

Postby Oleg Grigoryev » 06 Mar 2004 00:51


Andreas
Member
Posts: 6937
Joined: 10 Nov 2002 14:12
Location: Europe

Postby Andreas » 06 Mar 2004 01:02

Thanks a lot Oleg, I'll give that a good read.

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Postby Qvist » 08 Mar 2004 09:31

I will have to come at this a bit gradually, but first some comments to the second link (Oleg - thanks a lot!), which appears to contain some pretty grave mistakes. Now, I have not actually read this Glantz' book, so I am not in a position to offer more than very general comments.

Army Group "Center" had 1,680,000 men (including the reserves) and ~3,500 tanks (2/3's of the total on Soviet-German front).


Well - I do not have a strength figure for HG Mitte at this time, but if this figure is correct, it had more than half the total strength of the Ostheer (some 2.9 million). At the same time it is stated that it had 72 out of the 266 axis divisions allegedly present on the EF. Quite obviously, this does not work out, even considering that the latter includes allied formations. Even worse - it had 3,500 tanks and assault guns - more than the German army had on all of the Eastern Front (which was slightly less than 3,000 on 1 July). :) Not that this comes as a surprise, given that his source appears to be the good old official Soviet history, which is notoriously unreliable on anything connected with German strength or losses.

But Soviet tank or mechanised corps of that time were approximately equal to a German panzer division*4. Also it should be mentioned that even fresh Soviet rifle divisions (having a staff of 12,000 men ) in reality had ~10,000 men. Usually frontline divisions had ~4,000-7,000 men. On the contrary, the German command preferred to keep its divisions' staff near full strength. As a result, a soviet division was approximately equal to a German rifle regiment. Separate Tank Brigade had less strength than a German Tank Battalion. To take this into account, the innumerable hordes of Red's, so favourable in Western and particularly in German memoirs, are disappearing like a smoke.


Heh heh. "Germans preferred to keep their divisions at full strength"? Soviet divisions with 10,000 men equal to a German regiment? :D Same source as above, I presume.

At December 07 the fresh 30th German Panzer Corps (19th, 20th Panzer Divisions) and the other formations of the 41st Panzer Corps (the 1st Panzer Division and other Corps units) started the counter-offensive. At that time the Germans had sesquialteral advantage either in the infantry and tanks*8

with footnote:
8 - One rifle division, four rifle, four tank and three motorised rifle brigades (~45,000 manpower and 302 tanks) vis. 4.5 panzer division and one rifle division. By staff ~90,000 manpower and 600-700 tanks.


Firstly, his German divisional count in the footnote don't match his enumeration in the text (unless 1 1/2 Pz divisions and an infantry division is what is meant by "other corps units". Secondly, 6-700 tanks assumes 4 1/2 Panzer Divisions at full strength, which would be a bit of a bombshell at this time. If they had half that number, they would be considered in pretty good shape. Basically the same point applies to the manpower. This is a guesstimate, and an extremely high one. Again, I presume the source is "Hist. of GPW".

This is especially so in the case of the tank formations. It's true that the total amount of tanks utilised by both sides was approximately equal, but taking into account the total tank ratio (5080 German tanks vis. 7350 Soviet ones) such situation acted in the Soviet commands favour.


The Soviet figure seems credible, but the German one is roughly 2,000 too high.

So, while it achieved the tactical success (rather small), the German Command lost strategicly. Having the mean ratio between the Soviet and German troops as great as 1.3 : 1, the Soviet Command drew the opponent into the insignificant battle of the equal forces, i.g. it got the better ratio in the main direction - Stalingrad. Besides, the Soviet Command created the better conditions for themselves for reserve manoeuvring and won a tempo, taking the lead over the Germans by a 1-1.5 months. And on the other hand it forced the German Command to use its tank formations in a defence that also can be considered to be a significant success.


Considering that he displays no grip at all on the strength of German forces wherever he details them throughout the text, his ratios would need to be taken with more than a grain of salt :)

It's very hard to estimate losses of the both sides. To be exact in the Western sources there are no data both for the German troops' strength and for their losses. Almost the same situation is with the Soviet losses. In [2] collection, the offensive of the Western and Kalinin Fronts (November-December 1942) is even not named. But using the indirect figures from this book we can calculate the total Soviet losses on all fronts which didn't took part in the Stalingrad and the Caucasus battles for the last three months of 1942 to be ~500,000 men (including ~150,000 killed and missed) (excluding Velikiye Luki operation)*14. Taking into account that not in all named front zones (Karelian, Leningrad, Volkhov, North-Western, Kalinin, Western, Bryans, Voronezh) there was a lull in the last three months of 1942 (that time the Sinyavino operation was finishing and a bloody fights for Voronezh took place), one can suppose that the total losses of the Western and Kalinin Fronts in the Rzhev battle happened to be ~250,000 men (including ~120,000 killed and missed) for the three weeks of the offensive.


Well. Throughout he refers to "Western sources" without further specification (except Glantz), as if this was some sort of monolithic entity. It certainly should not be too difficult to establish German losses from the archival material, though I do not know if Glantz has done that. But there is little doubt that it would seem hard to concile Krivosheev's figure for the 4th quarter of 1942 with Glantz's estimate.

cheers

GaryD
Member
Posts: 168
Joined: 16 Feb 2004 06:17
Location: Washington, DC, USA

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby GaryD » 01 May 2008 18:43

Good topics never die....

This site http://ilpilot.narod.ru/vvs_tsifra/gl_2/2.7.html lists the strength of the Soviet air armies on the German-Soviet front as of 19 November 1942. You'll find that the total strength of the air armies supporting the fronts involved in Mars are stronger than the air armies supporting the fronts involved in the Stalingrad offensive operation.

Name, # of aviation regiments, # of aircraft
Mars
3rd Air Army, Kalinin Front, 47, 1,030
1st Air Army, Western Front, 41, 624
Total 88 aviation regiments and 1,654 aircraft

Stalingrad
17th Air Army, SW Front, 19, 423
16th Air Army, Don Front, 23, 329
8th Air Army, Stalingrad Front, 38, 499
Total 80 aviation regiments and 1.251 aircraft

User avatar
Acolyte
Member
Posts: 1370
Joined: 07 Jul 2004 13:55
Location: Festung Europa

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Acolyte » 16 Aug 2010 21:05

Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?

User avatar
Kunikov
Member
Posts: 4210
Joined: 20 Jan 2004 19:23

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Kunikov » 16 Aug 2010 21:09

Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.
"Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest violence." Jewish proverb
"This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad

Panzermahn
Member
Posts: 3491
Joined: 13 Jul 2002 03:51
Location: Malaysia

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Panzermahn » 17 Aug 2010 02:37

Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


The Rzhev "meatgrinder" was a strategic deception to misled the Wehrmacht into thinking that the Red Army 1942 summer offensive would be aimed at Army Group Centre whereas the real Soviet intention to encircled the 6th Army of the Army Group South (and possibly the whole of Army Group South).

Bear in mind that Army Group South had 1/3 of its forces supplemented by Axis allies (Italians, Hungarians, Romanians) and was considered the weakest among the three Army Groups in Wehrmacht at that time since it also has the largest area to cover

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Qvist » 17 Aug 2010 07:37

Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


And possibly also because the whole notion of "right wing Western historians" itching to get at every opportunity to show the Red Army in a bad light is in fact largely a myth.

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Qvist » 17 Aug 2010 07:39

Panzermahn wrote:
Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


The Rzhev "meatgrinder" was a strategic deception to misled the Wehrmacht into thinking that the Red Army 1942 summer offensive would be aimed at Army Group Centre whereas the real Soviet intention to encircled the 6th Army of the Army Group South (and possibly the whole of Army Group South).

Bear in mind that Army Group South had 1/3 of its forces supplemented by Axis allies (Italians, Hungarians, Romanians) and was considered the weakest among the three Army Groups in Wehrmacht at that time since it also has the largest area to cover


It was not a strategic deception - that much has surely been compellingly enough demonstrated.

cheers

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re:

Postby Qvist » 17 Aug 2010 08:08

Returning to the old above post, with better data than I had back then:

Army Group "Center" had 1,680,000 men (including the reserves) and ~3,500 tanks (2/3's of the total on Soviet-German front).


More to the point, 9th Army had an average Iststärke of 307,945 in November 1942, while 3rd Panzer Army had 157,749 - combined, 465,694 men. The Army Group in toto (ie, including AOK 4 and 2nd Panzer Army, neither of whom were affected by the offensive) had 857,175.

Tanks; As of 23 November, there were two Panzer Divisions in 9th Army, and one with elements of another in 3rd PzA. 2nd PzA had a further two, 4th Army had none. There were two, plus Grossdeutschland, in AG Center reserve. So unless we accept the notion that each of these divisions had more than 400 tanks, the above figure can safely be dismissed as the obvious nonsense it is.

But Soviet tank or mechanised corps of that time were approximately equal to a German panzer division*4. Also it should be mentioned that even fresh Soviet rifle divisions (having a staff of 12,000 men ) in reality had ~10,000 men. Usually frontline divisions had ~4,000-7,000 men. On the contrary, the German command preferred to keep its divisions' staff near full strength. As a result, a soviet division was approximately equal to a German rifle regiment. Separate Tank Brigade had less strength than a German Tank Battalion. To take this into account, the innumerable hordes of Red's, so favourable in Western and particularly in German memoirs, are disappearing like a smoke.


Except that it's completely wrong. In reality, the Soviet 10,000-man division had more infantry than a reduced-structure German ID, which is what AG Center almost entirely consisted of. What it had less of is all sorts of integral support elements, but the basic reason for this is that such resources were to a greater extent maintained at higher than divisional level in the Soviet structure, not that they didn't exist. This is of course supposing that units were at full strength, and the assumption that this generally was the case on the German side shows how far out in space the above text is. On the contrary, nearly all divisions of the Army Group were considerably and chronically understrength.

At 6-7,000 men, a Soviet RD would still be strong in its infantry elements compared to most German Infantry divisions at the time. The notion that you can compare a Soviet RD at this strength to a German Regiment (which typically would have an infantry strength of perhaps 1,000, at most) is simply nonsensical.

To be exact in the Western sources there are no data both for the German troops' strength and for their losses.


Sure there are, if "Western sources" includes documents physically located in the West. It's just that he couldn't access them, since he was living in and employed by a system that didn't neccessarily trust him to travel abroad to the relevant archives. Or willing to give him the money to purchase the records. Or who perhaps preferred him not to use them, who knows. Anyway, the combined combat losses of Army Groups Center and North in IVQ 1942 were just over 100,000.

cheers

User avatar
Acolyte
Member
Posts: 1370
Joined: 07 Jul 2004 13:55
Location: Festung Europa

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Acolyte » 17 Aug 2010 16:06

Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


I'm sure Dr. Goebbels or any Western right-wing historian/journalist 'd have head no problem framing it as the main (and failed) Soviet strategic operation of winter '42/43 with Op. Uran as only a diversional attack of secondary importance.

BTW all the information I've read about Mars and Uran seem to suggest that they were essentially twin offensives i.e. they were of equal importance for the Soviets.

User avatar
Acolyte
Member
Posts: 1370
Joined: 07 Jul 2004 13:55
Location: Festung Europa

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Acolyte » 17 Aug 2010 16:16

Panzermahn wrote:
Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


The Rzhev "meatgrinder" was a strategic deception to misled the Wehrmacht into thinking that the Red Army 1942 summer offensive would be aimed at Army Group Centre whereas the real Soviet intention to encircled the 6th Army of the Army Group South (and possibly the whole of Army Group South).


If Op. Mars was a deceptive attack, why was it launched after the 6th had already been encircled at Stalingrad? AFAIK deceptive/diversional attacks are usually launched before the operation they are supposed to divert attention from, thereby convincing the enemy to deploy some of his forces away from the thrust of the coming main attack.

And I'm not really buying the other argument that Op. Mars was meant to merely pin down units of the 9th Army to prevent them from redeployment at Stalingrad. Rzhev is hundreds of kms away from Stalingrad. Wouldn't it take weeks to redeploy any unit from such distances?

User avatar
Acolyte
Member
Posts: 1370
Joined: 07 Jul 2004 13:55
Location: Festung Europa

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Acolyte » 17 Aug 2010 16:33

Qvist wrote:
Kunikov wrote:
Acolyte wrote:Let's bump this great thread.

It seems to me that Glantz is basically saying Op. Mars was a huge defeat for the Red Army that Soviet historiography remained silent about. Well, if that's the case, why didn't Nazi propagandists - or right-wing Western historians for that matter - milk this story for all its worth after 1942?



Because there was enough reason to believe this might have solely been a 'diversionary' attack.


And possibly also because the whole notion of "right wing Western historians" itching to get at every opportunity to show the Red Army in a bad light is in fact largely a myth.


The Red Army has usually been purposefully depicted in a very poor light by American historians since 1945 (there was a book released about this recently entitled 'The Myths of the Eastern Front'). AFAIK the situation was pretty much the same in other Western countries. After the beginning of Glasnost and the partial opening of Soviet archives in 1989 there has been a practical explosion of literature by Russian and other Eastern European authors seeking to debunk the myths of Soviet historiography and expose the suppressed facts of the Eastern Front and Soviet history in general. V. Suvorov is an obvious example. Others have sought to discredit the Soviet notion that the Battle of Prokhorovka was 'the death ride of the Panzerwaffe'. Some years ago a well-known Hungarian right-wing pop historian released a cheap paperback book entitled 'The real Zhukov' which seeks to portray Zhukov in the worst light possible. He states that Op. Mars was meant to be the main Soviet offensive in winter '42/43 designed to annihilate Army Group Center and then reach the Baltic Sea(!) and it failed only due to Zhukov's gross incompetence. And many similar books are released every year and I'm sure that's the case in Poland, the Baltic states etc. as well.

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Re: Rzhev: A winter of death, 1942.

Postby Qvist » 18 Aug 2010 08:48

The Red Army has usually been purposefully depicted in a very poor light by American historians since 1945 (there was a book released about this recently entitled 'The Myths of the Eastern Front').


Whisch, from what I have seen of it, was considerably more successful as a critique of popular culture than as a critique of historiography.

Others have sought to discredit the Soviet notion that the Battle of Prokhorovka was 'the death ride of the Panzerwaffe'.


Well, that notion is demonstrably a falsehood. Any historian using relevant and adequate sources could not possibly escape the conclusion.

Some years ago a well-known Hungarian right-wing pop historian released a cheap paperback book entitled 'The real Zhukov' which seeks to portray Zhukov in the worst light possible. He states that Op. Mars was meant to be the main Soviet offensive in winter '42/43 designed to annihilate Army Group Center and then reach the Baltic Sea(!) and it failed only due to Zhukov's gross incompetence. And many similar books are released every year and I'm sure that's the case in Poland, the Baltic states etc. as well.


And so are worthless books slagging Montgomery, Patton and nearly anything else you could possibly think of.

The point is that there is a discourse in Soviet era historiography which presupposes a state of adversity with a "Western historiography" which it assumes is monolithic and which it also assumes is inherently hostile to the Soviet Union and consequently that it always seeks to distort the truth. In reality, there is not and has never been such a thing as "a western historiography". Western historiography is marked by pluralism of perspectives, and contains a large number of diverging views and perpsectives, on anything. Hence, the polemic is directed against something that is entirely an abstraction. Secondly of course, the idea that historiography is neccessarily and primarily guided by ideological strife is nothing more than a mirror assumption of Soviet historiography's own inherent shortcomings.

In my opinion, the view that Western (in reality, Anglophone) historiography has tended to take the German perspective is, at best, a vast oversimplification. Firstly, as far as the Eastern Front is concerned, that historiography is marked by a relative poverty. There are only a limited number of works with any general impact. Among those, a quite large proportion in fact is predominantly oriented not just towards Soviet sources, but even Soviet secondary sources: Erickson, Werth and Glantz himself. More generalised accounts seem to me to have drawn mainly (other than on other general works) on a limited number of memoirs, both German and Soviet. The striking thing is really an under-utilisation of independent analysis and a lack of any broad use of primary sources - for both sides. I'm sure cold war ideas might have penetrated into the discourse of authors here and there, but really, the basic problem lies elsewhere.

In conclusion - the automatic rambling against "Western historiography" you find particularly in Soviet era works is not even worth taking seriously, and any simplistic assumption of "western views" or "western bias" in the German favor is just too easy and too lazy to be thrown around as a general claim with no further backing.

cheers


Return to “WW2 in Eastern Europe”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot], Pips