german general mistake?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
aurelien wolff
Member
Posts: 347
Joined: 12 Aug 2018 00:31
Location: france,alsace

german general mistake?

Post by aurelien wolff » 03 Aug 2020 07:16

I often see the classic "hitler should have listen to his general" as if the general were some kind of genius who never did any mistake during the war ,so my question is :what mistake did the german general do? I remember that franz halder view were quite flawed per example (particulary the "drive to moscow" thing during barbarossa if I remember correctly)

Senex
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 26 Jul 2020 19:14
Location: Washington, DC

Re: german general mistake?

Post by Senex » 06 Aug 2020 22:49

I would say a couple of instances.
The decision to invade the USSR for one. I would have to go back to David Stahel's excellent Operation Barbarossa and German's Defeat in the East, but I believe a number of German generals had serious reservations as to the force the objectives Hitler set out would require.

Another example was a "backhand" in the summer fo 1943, versus the Zitadel "forehand." A straightforward offensive exactly at the time and place the Soviets were expecting was a bad idea. Guderian objected and Manstein (I believe) had recommended letting the Red Army attack, and then pinching off Soviet penetrations and destroying the Red Army's mech/tank forces in a kesselschlacht. Hitler opted for forehand.

The Mortain counteroffensive in July 1944. Kluge said the attack had zero percent chance of success (it was, in effect, sticking more and more German forces further and further into the noose). Hitler ordered the attack anyway.

steevh
Member
Posts: 45
Joined: 08 Aug 2016 13:33
Location: UK

Re: german general mistake?

Post by steevh » 11 Aug 2020 08:54

Hitler was always the great risk-taker, whereas the generals took a rather more cautious (realistic) approach -- so it looked like genius when Hitler's plans panned out, such as in Poland and France.

However, Hitler never really had a Plan B for anything, so when it didn't pan out, in Russia, he began to flounder. His approach was just to try the same again (Case Blue, Citadel), as a shift to the defensive did not suit his temperament and basically trades a slow death (by resource starvation) for a quick one.

As for the generals. they could make mistakes, but only on a much smaller scale, so they didn't have much impact on the overall outcome of the war.

Mori
Member
Posts: 1156
Joined: 25 Oct 2014 11:04
Location: Europe

Re: german general mistake?

Post by Mori » 11 Aug 2020 13:55

There are quite some errors by the German generals, and I mean errors which can almost only be attributed to them.

A big one is the Orsha-conference decision to have another go at Moscow in autumn 1941. This is really Halder and Bock taking the decision, not Hitler. Consequence is the 1941-42 winter crisis.

Another is the Kursk decision. Let's remember it's generals who first came with the idea of the operation (it's Schmidt at AOK2, immediately backed by Kluge). However, the same generals lobbied for a postponement of the operations until mid-May. Then Hitler decided to delay the operation even later. But late June, generals didn't show any doubt about the success of the operations, as their estimates showed. (Roman Töppel has the best discussion on the pre-Kursk sequence, going further than the classic work by Klink. Other works are thus outdated).

Again another one what generals expected early 1945 on the Western Front. They considered all Allied options and assessed that the wasn't any probability the main attack would come from the North (but that's just what the Allies did, operation Veritable). Less significant, because it wouldn't have changed much anyway, were very wrong locations of reserves prior to Plunder-Varsity and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

AriX
Member
Posts: 76
Joined: 29 Jun 2015 08:07
Location: Ukraine

Re: german general mistake?

Post by AriX » 03 Sep 2020 14:44

Underestimation of SU in 1941( and later too). Maybe, if Hitler impementer TOtalKrieg in early autumn of 1941 the course of war in the East would be different.

aurelien wolff
Member
Posts: 347
Joined: 12 Aug 2018 00:31
Location: france,alsace

Re: german general mistake?

Post by aurelien wolff » 15 Sep 2020 21:08

AriX wrote:
03 Sep 2020 14:44
Underestimation of SU in 1941( and later too). Maybe, if Hitler impementer TOtalKrieg in early autumn of 1941 the course of war in the East would be different.
not sure considering they'd still have logistical problem and you need to take ina ccount the allie industrial capacity/ressource they had at their disposal (+if the war lasted longer ,maybe an atomic bomb would be thrown on nazi germany,I remember reading the ally had plan to do that[although it would need to transfer B29 to europe wich could take quite sometimes])

DOGTAG44
Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 26 Oct 2020 18:53
Location: Scotland

Re: german general mistake?

Post by DOGTAG44 » 20 Nov 2020 22:03

Model at Kursk attacking with the weight in his infantry rather than with a heavily armoured assault from the get go.
Any General who supported the attack at Kursk
Manstein for persisting to try to engage and destroy the Soviet armoured reserves at Kursk once the decision to withdraw had been made.
Rommel for overstretching himself in attempting to jump the 8th army off the march and attempting to advance as far as he did.
Guderian for persisting around Tula when he should of withdrawn
Guderian for telling von bock he would have to take his whole pzr gruppe through gomel instead of the one corp that was originally needed .

User avatar
AnchorSteam
Member
Posts: 27
Joined: 31 Oct 2020 05:43
Location: WAY out there

Re: german general mistake?

Post by AnchorSteam » 29 Nov 2020 03:44

The German Army was certainly spread too thinly, the job was too large considering the size of the country and the ruthless, mechanical way the Regime was able to to feed it's citizens into a meat-grinder that had gone against them for half a year. The morale of the USSR's subject people did not matter; the regime had conquered it's people to the extent that their morale did not matter, only that of leaders of the regime mattered.

When the Soviets did not collapse the way the monocle-wearing aristocrats had calculated they must, those so-called geniuses found they had no back-up plan. Or rather, they had ignored the one that mattered.

A campaign of subversion was what Stalin truly feared, and it would have sealed his fate if Germany had pursued it. They would not have the option of de-humanizing the Slavs, or enslaving or exterminating them, but simply treating them the same as occupied people in the west would have been a huge improvement over life under Stalin.
This is where the reversal of the material shortcomings of the German Army starts.
Enough Soviet material was captured (during 1941 alone) to equip a Corps of 3 Infantry Divisions, a mechanized Brigade, a Flak Corps, an Anti-Tank Divisions, and 12 rear-area Security Battalions (2 of them motorized) .... not for the Front, but for each Army Group.
All of the above, repeated three times over.
Could have made a big difference, yes?

Max Payload
Member
Posts: 550
Joined: 21 Jun 2008 14:37

Re: german general mistake?

Post by Max Payload » 29 Nov 2020 12:43

DOGTAG44 wrote:
20 Nov 2020 22:03
Manstein for persisting to try to engage and destroy the Soviet armoured reserves at Kursk once the decision to withdraw had been made.
I doubt that it would have made much difference to the subsequent Soviet Rumaintsev offence and the advance into Ukraine. An earlier disengagement would have left both sides stronger.

DOGTAG44 wrote:
20 Nov 2020 22:03
Guderian for persisting around Tula when he should of withdrawn
Tula was the key to the southern wing of the planned German encirclement operation. If Guderian had withdrawn earlier than he did, he would have been sacked sooner than he was. Besides, the timing of the withdrawal from Tula is unlikely to have significantly influenced the course of events on the Moscow axis. Guderian might have been in a stronger position south of Kaluga with more secure flanks, but Boldin and Golikov would have had an easier time in their initial advances towards Kaluga and Belev

DOGTAG44 wrote:
20 Nov 2020 22:03

Guderian for telling von bock he would have to take his whole pzr gruppe through gomel instead of the one corp that was originally needed .
Guderian’s panzer group did not go through Gomel.

Return to “German Strategy & General German Military Discussion”