German Losses (KIA)

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
Sid Guttridge
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Jun 2008 11:20

I don't think you'll ever get an exact total figure.

I would suggest that there are only two groups of losses you can reasonably rely on:

1) Losses during the conquest of the Balkans - April-May 1941.

2) The losses I gave above for June 1941-April 1945.

Losses amongst those taken prisoner after April 1945 are difficult to quantify and would probably better be treated as a separate issue. Any attempt to add indeterminate post-April 1945 losses to the relatively accurate German staff returns of 1) and 2) for earlier years will only serve to produce another indeterminate and not very useful total.

Cheers,

Sid.

Bergveen
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 24 Jun 2008 12:54

Sid,

Yes, trying to solve the puzzle is intriguing but hopeless.

I find confidence in the battle casualty lists. If studying battle casulaties there are a lot of rules of thumb that gives an idea of how great losses could have been. For example 14 days of fighting in the battle of Kursk with 20 (German) divisions of which losses where between 1.500 (min) and 3500 (max) produces an average loss of 20 x 2500 = 50.000 men (in attacks there are laws of which % is killed, heavy wounded and light wounded). So killed may be as high as between 7.500 and 10.000 but not much more. In pocket battles or defensive battle many personel is lost by capture and statistics are computed differently.

What also is puzzling is that so many Germans which were captured were shot at the spot. Of all Germans captured perhaps a million was simply "shot at the spot". Of the lucky survivors many were sent on "death marches" to the camps and there conditions were sometimes so appalling that they died as flies (the "50.000" in the Rhine-camps in april/mai/june '45; the "167.000" in the terrible French working camps from 1945-1948; the "80.000" in the mines in Yugoslavia and the harsh conditions in Russia.

If still a great number of Germans are missing (1,1 million), part of them was KIA at sea, drowned in rivers, blewn to smithereens in the endless allied barrages, killed at "a spot" and burried there, mudered and burried; died at death marches and burried; died in labour camps.

Rüdiger Overmans simply divides the 2 million MIA in 1 million KIA (shot on the spot) and 1 million died as Allied POW's. The 50.000 in US Rhein-camps, 167.000 in French starvation camps, the 80.000 in Yugoslav terror camps and the X times 100.000 in Soviet camps are all part of a great "Revenge" act.
Both US, French and Yugoslavs tried to hide the number of killed German POW's. Russia nowadays is in contrary very open about the German POW's. According to their own sources 489.000 died in their custody, but the destiny of 440.000 MIA in Russia remains still unclear. Probably all shot on the spot, so they are no POWS.

The French would revenge the defeat of 1940 and the division the Germans created between the French (Vichy France); The French were obsessed by the idea that more Germans meant defeat, so they tried everything to diminish the German male population!!! The Yugoslavs (Serbs) their hatred of the defeat of Serbia during WWI: same ideas as the French.
The USA, remains simply a question of neglectance, propaganda, simplified ideas and a broken down logistics, which could not deal with millions of German POWS. Many US-military were trigger happy and shot a lot of SS-soldiers in WWII.
The Webling & Dachau camp murders are clear examples. Revenge played a great role.
The Soviets are more complicated: in East Prussia, Hungary, Tjechoslovakia aso they sometimes behaved very cruel to civilians (raping, torture and then killing the victims was a quite common act!) or POWS. Bad food situation, propaganda (Ilya Ehrenburg), bad logistics, alcohol, revenge all played a role. Luftwaffe pilots and SS were standard shot at the spot when captured. This was simply the rule of war!!
If think most killed Germans were never killed in a battle!!!!

Sid Guttridge
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Jun 2008 15:06

Hi Bergveen,

Where do you get the figure for perhaps 1,000,000 Germans shot on the spot?

The figures of 50,000 for the US Rhine camps and 167,000 in French hands are highy questionable. The former may have run into ten thousand or more and the proportion of German POWs who died in French hands was measurably higher than those who died in British or US hands, so there is certainly a case to answer. However, I don't think it helps to exaggerate or make unsupported suggestions that they were part of a systematic effort to reduce the male German population.

I don't recall Overmans producing the round figures you suggest. Where in his book are they? I have access to a copy in London and can check. Overmans, if I remember correctly, did a statistical survey of German military personnel files to arrive at his conclusions. This seems unlikely to turn up the round figures you quote.

Cheers,

Sid.

Bergveen
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 24 Jun 2008 19:35

Sid,

You asked for proof of my thesis that so many German soldiers were shot when taken prisoner of war.
Perhaps one reason for the disappeared million.

The shot on the spot theory is that in all eye-witness reports about WWII of Soviet, US or French soldiers, the books of Stephen Ambrose (Bands of Brothers) and many other allied material: the shooting of German prisoners was almost a common practice.

In Normandy after hearing so called stories of attrocities by members of the 12th SS Division Hitlerjugend, the Canadians started their "revenge" act by shooting captured members of this 12th SS Division, but also of other SS Panzer Divisions (1st SS, 9th SS and 10th SS). German which defended Holland feared the Canadians!!

Americans of the 45th Texas Division, when entering Gela at Sicilia started to shoot prisoners, to the disgust of British eye-wittness. They did the same thing is Bavaria 1945 and it is officially documented that this involved 500-600 members of just arriving SS-rearguards. Also members of the SS Westfalia Brigade were all machine gunned down by US forces (3rd Armored). In the Rhineland near Wesel, US soldiers took lots of fotos (even movies) which showed the shooting of rows of prisoners. These movies are removed from US-documentation centres now. One such case was the cold-blooded slaying of an estimated 700 troops of the 8th SS Mountain Division. These troops who had fought with distinction, had earlier captured a US field hospital. Although the German troops had conducted themselves properly they were, when subsequently captured by the US Army, routinely separated and gunned down in groups by squads of American troops.
In Normandy Ambrose showed that captured German POW's were frequently shot down by US 82 and US 101 Para division troops. At Chenogne in the Ardennes on 17 december AND on 1 januari 1945 US troops (11th Armored) shot down respectively 20 and 60 captured soldiers. Revenge for the 80 US troops shoy down at Baugnez? If Baugnez was according to the Americans so bad, why not Chenogne??? In fact Baugnez was used by the US for propaganda, after that US forces in the Ardennes never surrendered and fought with great determination and stopped the German offensive. The same is true for Germans fighting at the East Front.

The French behaved savage, shooting hundreds of members of the SS Divison Charlemagne on order of General Leclerc.

In Russia more than 20.000 German luftwaffe pilots & crewmembers were executed when falling in Soviet hands. The same happened to members of the Waffen-SS. At Bobruisk, Cherkassy, Belgrade and Budapest all wounded German soldiers, which fell in the hands of the Soviets/ Partizans were all beaten to death.
Soviet soldiers behaved likewise when occupying Berlin, Königsberg and Breslau. All members of the SS were shot dead.
Some Soviet soldiers were clearly proud about these behavings. Surrendering German troops in Samland were mowed down with sabres, machine guns up to thousands after surrender.

In Yugoslavia all members of the surrendered 1st Gebirgsjäger Division (over 6000) were executed and bodies thrown in a ravine.

So from many (all well known) incident, there is already an "impressive record" of intentionally murdered German POW's. The total number of all cases above easily reach 100.000. If this is the top of the iceberg, the actual number is fairly large.

But to be fair: the same impressive record can be built for the Wehrmacht. Also here is a long list of incidents. The shooting of the former allies (Italians) at Keffalonia is f.e. horrible, but also on the other Greek Islands the Italian Army suffered badly under the Germans. Members of that same 1st Gebirgsjäger behaved cruel and ruthless. This same division carried out other attrocities. In Russia also many Soviet Soldiers were shot on the spot. Against the Western Allies the Germans behaved quite different. I don't know of incidents, because the Germans seldom made prisoners after 1943. Le Paradis is one incident.

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LWD
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by LWD » 24 Jun 2008 20:14

This is defintily straying into areas more appropriate for discussing in the warcrimes forum. It isn't at all clear how you get from the cases mentioned to your final sum by the way.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Nicole S. » 25 Jun 2008 08:28

My experience here from Czech Republic is that the Communists tried to eleminate all evidences for the post-war murder that had happend here when the Germans were declared as "Freiwild". So we can take this what we know todady at least only as one half on the truth what had really happened. Take official numbers, multiplicate them with four and you may come close to realistic figures.

Nicole (South of Budweis)

Sid Guttridge
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Jun 2008 11:55

Hi Bergveen,

All those are unsupported allegations and very few seem to relate to being "shot on the spot".

Undoubtedly Germans were on occasion "shot on the spot", particularly on the Eastern Front. But even there it was far from the norm, as Overmans study shows.

I would suggest that the effect of your exaggerations is to obscure the incidents that really did occur.

Let us start with a relatively self-contained and manageable allegation of yours:

"The French behaved savage, shooting hundreds of members of the SS Divison Charlemagne on order of General Leclerc."

I have recently read a rather bad history of this division, and no such figure is given. The allegation, which seems quite well founded, is that Leclerc ordered the shooting of around a dozen ex-Charlemagne men. If it occurred, it was undoubtedly illegal.

However, it should be remembered that several thousand members of the division were at risk of execution as traitors and only a handful actually suffered this fate. So the proposition that the French behaved savagely to the division as a whole is not well founded.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by David Thompson » 25 Jun 2008 13:04

"The French behaved savage, shooting hundreds of members of the SS Divison Charlemagne on order of General Leclerc."
I have recently read a rather bad history of this division, and no such figure is given. The allegation, which seems quite well founded, is that Leclerc ordered the shooting of around a dozen ex-Charlemagne men. If it occurred, it was undoubtedly illegal.

However, it should be remembered that several thousand members of the division were at risk of execution as traitors and only a handful actually suffered this fate. So the proposition that the French behaved savagely to the division as a whole is not well founded.
For interested readers -- The number of executed soldiers is usually given as twelve. See:

Charlemagne soldiers executed at Bad Reichenhall
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=32087
General LeClerc and French Volunteers
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=17745
SS french troops killed by "free french" forces
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2282
SS-Charlemagne Denkemal
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=61337

Bergveen
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Re: German Losses (KIA): SS-Div. Charlemagne

Post by Bergveen » 25 Jun 2008 17:38

Sid & David,

There are 2 sides of a coin: first are well known facts exagerated by other authors (for obscure reasons).
The other side is that countless incidents remain well hidden. I think that you all agree with these two sides.

I read a phantastic book about the fighting for Berlin: "Berlin im Todeskampf 1945" of Jean Mabire. The French SS Division suffered badly in Pommern (near Belzig) at hands of Soviet mobile forces which cut them to pieces. Then the remains were transfered to Berlin and defended a part of the South-Eastern sector: from Neuköln (the arc between the Neuköln Rathaus and the Sonnen Allee) to the area north of Belle Alliance Platz/ Hallisches Tor, in the end position near the huge Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium. Mabire really portrays faithfully the way the battle raged on (for day and night) and also is fair in assessing the heavy Frensch losses. On the last page of his book, after the remnants of the French moved out to Bavaria (page 400) he describes the "Karlstein" incident. On 8th mai 1945 Leclerc ordered the shooting of a dozen French SS soldiers, few hours before the final armistice.
So you are right that is is certainly not a big number of shot down soldiers.

This, I find, is not shooting on the spot. With that I mean that just captured German soldiers are shot down as happened frequently in Normandy by US para troopers, by Canadians against the 12th SS HJ, of Americans in the Ardennes against Germans near Chenogne, in Germany against the surrendering Germans near Wesel, the 8th SS Mountain, the Westpahlia Brigade, the new arriving SS-guards near Dachau and Webling, but undoubtly at many other spots. Sometimes that had to do with the impossiblity or unwillingness to guard POW's (para's in Normandy), the will to revenge (Chenogne); after bitter fighting with own heavy losses: the Hürthenwald, Aachen, Wesel/ Xanten and finally after discovering death camps (Dachau) to do something against the (SS) bastards (Dachau & Webling).
Russians having their own desire to revenge the terrible destruction in Russia, the (Tito) Yugoslavs to do something against their most deadly and finally beaten foe.

Then finally the 167.000 German POW's which died in French custody mainly of malnutrition. The French admitted that some 20.000 were killed because of clearing the minefields of the Atlantic Wall. Starvation is the way most of them died actually. In Russia, Siberia, Yugoslavia, the Rhine valley prison encampments near Remagen and France. How many is still a matter of harsh discussions and controversy.

In France 239.000 German soldiers of WWII are burried. About 43.000 of the battle for France in France 1940, 80.000 of the battle of Normandy 1944 (inclusive battles for Cézambre, St Malo) and about 31.000 others of the 1942 battle for Dieppe and the 1944 battles for Frejus, Marseille, Toulon, Montelimar, Brest, Calais/Boulogne, Mons, Metz/Nancy and the Elsace (Mulhouse, Colmar, Strassbourg) and returning death from air engagements over Britain in 1940 and 1941.
This can mean that about 85.000 soldiers are burried for other reasons. This number lies exactly in the middle of the minimal "official" number of 28.000 and highest claim of 167.000. This may solve this puzzle, because most of the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sid and David. How do you look at this explanation?
Last edited by Bergveen on 27 Jun 2008 18:34, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: German Losses (KIA): SS-Div. Charlemagne

Post by LWD » 25 Jun 2008 18:07

Bergveen wrote:.... With that I mean that just captured German soldiers are shot down as happened frequently in Normandy by US para troopers,
Referances please. What do you mean by frequently?
by Canadians against the 12th SS HJ, of Americans in the Ardennes against Germans near Chenogne, in Germany against the surrendering Germans near Wesel, the 8th SS Mountain, the Westpahlia Brigade, the new arriving SS-guards near Dachau and Webling, but undoubtly at many other spots.
Referances please. "undoubtly" is speculation on your part.
.... This number lies exactly in the middle of the minimal "official" number of 28.000 and highest claim of 167.000. This may solve this puzzle, because most of the truth lies somewhere in the middle...
I'm not completly sure what you said in this regard. However it would be very surprising to me if a real number were half way between a "highest claim" and an "officail" number. Note also you have left out those killed by the resistance, those killed in air raids, those who died of disease, natural causes, murder, etc.

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Re: German Losses (KIA): SS-Div. Charlemagne

Post by LWD » 25 Jun 2008 18:23

Another question.
Bergveen wrote:.... Starvation is the way most of them died actually....
Why do you think so? From discussions of these things over on the warcrimes board and other places my impression is that starvation was seldom the direct cause of death but often a strong contributing factor.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by David Thompson » 25 Jun 2008 19:19

Bergveen -- You wrote:
Then finally the 167.000 German POW's which died in French custody mainly of malnutrition. The French admitted that some 20.000 were killed because of clearing the minefields of the Atlantic Wall.
Would you please give sources for these statements. They're at odds with these figures:

The Maschke Commission gives 25,000 deaths of German POWs held by France, while Overmans gives 34,000 deaths of German POWs held by France. According to your post at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 6#p1222106 , the official figure for German POW deaths in French custody is 28,000. France held 940,000 German POWs total.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 337#p74337

According to your post at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 6#p1222106 , the 167,000 deaths figure for French captivity is one of a number of various estimates listed by Overmans, but Overmans didn't accept that figure. Why should we? 167,000 POW deaths in French custody is more than twice as much as the Maschke Commission and Overmans' death totals combined, and nearly five times as much as Overmans'' estimate given for German POW mortality in French hands.

Your other figures seem high as well. Here's Roberto Muehlenkamp's translation from Rüdiger Overmans, Deutsche Militarische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg (1999), compared to the West German government's Maschke Commission findings (1982):
Table 65: Deaths in captivity (by custodian state)

Total number of prisoners of war

France 940,000
Great Britain 3,640,000
USA 3,100,000
Yugoslavia 190,000
Other States 170,000
USSR 3,060,000
Sum 11,100,000

Deaths in captivity according to present study

France 34,000
Great Britain 21,000
USA 22,000
Yugoslavia 11,000
Other States 8.000
USSR 363,000
Sum 459,000

Deaths in captivity according to Maschke Commission

France 25,000
Great Britain 1,300
USA 5,000
Yugoslavia 80,000
Other States 13.000
USSR 1,090,000
Sum 1,214,300
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 327#112327
For those interested in percentages, I calculated these:
Death rates for German POWs

France 3.6% (Overmans) or 2.6% (Maschke Commission)
Great Britain 0.5% (Overmans) or 0.03% (Maschke Commission)
USA 0.7% (Overmans) or 0.16% (Maschke Commission)
Yugoslavia 5% (Overmans) or 42% (Maschke Commission)
Other States 4.7% (Overmans) or 7.6% (Maschke Commission)
USSR 11.8% (Overmans) or 35.6% (Maschke Commission)
Total: 4% (Overmans) or 10.9% (Maschke Commission)
Note that this claim:
Rüdiger Overmans simply divides the 2 million MIA in 1 million KIA (shot on the spot) and 1 million died as Allied POW's. The 50.000 in US Rhein-camps, 167.000 in French starvation camps, the 80.000 in Yugoslav terror camps and the X times 100.000 in Soviet camps are all part of a great "Revenge" act.
doesn't comport with Overmans' figures for German POW fatalities in either French or US custody -- the 50,000 deaths you're talking about in US Rhein-camps is more than twice as great as the figure Overmans gives for all German POW deaths in US custody (22,000).

It appears to me like you're citing to Overmans, but you're not always using his figures. This is one of the reasons the research sections of AHF require sourced information, which both Sid Guttridge and LWD have already requested. See: H&WC section rules (incorporated into the forum rules at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?p=5#p5 )
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=53962

If you're interested in a statistical approach to the MIA problem, you might think about setting up a KIA:Wounded:Captured:MIA ratio for both sides in different campaigns to get an idea of a statistical norm, and then look for pattern anomalies. The method you're using seems more like advocacy guessing (estimates based on a pre-determined viewpoint).

Sid Guttridge
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Jun 2008 11:08

Hi Bergveen,

No, the French have not "admitted that some 20.000 were killed because of clearing the minefields of the Atlantic Wall." What is your source for this?

For the real, and much lower, statistics on POWs killed while clearing landmines in France and elsewhere after WWII, see Mike Croll's book "The History of the Landmine."

Furthermore, using POWs to clear mines was entirely legal before the 1949 Geneva Convention.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 27 Jun 2008 19:36

Sid and others,

The aim of my study was to try to give an explanation for the totals Rüdiger Overmans uses in his latest studies on KIA and MIA German soldiers, combined to the official statistics on soldiers burried in all countries in Europe by WASt AND all official statistics on those which are burried on certain places (like the 5000 on Crete) and to cross all the burried with known totals from battles (as described in the many sources, but also on the burrial sites.
The WASt total number of the burried reaches 4 million. They are the KIA and MIA. But still 1+ million have to be accounted for.

There are many sources on Internet however, which can not simply be neglected and which offer statistics which are not in line with those of the Maschke Commission or those of Rüdiger Overmans. Numbers like the 113.000 and 167.000 died German POW in French Custody and the 20.000 killed in 3 years of mine clearing f.e. are max mumbers I found in "a couple of publiced articles on Internet" when searching for German POW's in French custody. Most I found, I admit, were publiced in articles about war crimes/ democide articles. You asked me the sources, but these numbers can easily be found. The only thing which strike me is that final numbers are mostly based on casualty numbers within a short time period and then simply extrapolated. If f.e. 2000 Germans died within 3 months,it is assumed, that in 3 years 12 x 2000 may be the total number of the killed. This was the case for the mine-clearings and the Rhine camps.

The shooting of Germans POW's in a dozen of instances is also well known. I did quote already Ambrose and Band of Brothers. I think he gave a very realistic account of what happened in Normandy. The shooting of the German prisoners on movie near Wesel and Xanten I personally saw on television in a documentary on the subject and the comment was that most of those pictures of movies were delebirately removed from archives or were taken from soldiers by official instances.
The movies of the Dutch soldiers at Sebrenica also all disappeared from official laboratories. And Sebrenica was actually hell for the enemies of the Serbs. Between 7 and 8.000 male corpses (all killed) were found near Sebrenica.
So this only supports my own theories on what possibly and perhaps also actually happened in WWII.

The hatred against Germans was big. And still is. All incidents I recalled are offically documented. Yes, US liberators did shoot on some (or more) locations hundreds of Germans which surrendered. No single doubt about that. They were soldiers and soldiers of all countries did those things. The Dutch f.e. did terrible things in Indonesia after WWII. The French in Algeria. The US in Vietnam.

I would be very relieved if fewer German POW's died like Maschke and Overmans see it, but then simply the vanishing of 1 million German soldiers (and perhaps the same number of civilians) can never be explained. They were NOT killed in battles were already many were killed. A German Army of 200.000 can simply not loose more than this number.

Overmans is no Saint. He gives huge numbers for Italy (150.000) and Balcans (103.000) but former reports give much lower numbers. So what are the sources of Overmans? How can he explain f.e. 150.000 KIA in Italy? Anzio and Cassino were heavy battles, but they did not produce the casualties to explain 150.000 KIA.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by David Thompson » 27 Jun 2008 20:00

Bergveen -- You wrote:
You asked me the sources, but these numbers can easily be found.
That may or may not be true, but why should 50-500 readers each be put to the chore of looking them up, when you are the claimant and have already seen the sources? That means that, for persons interested in learning more about this topic, a job which need be done only once has to be done 50-500 times (the topic is only about 2 weeks old, and already has almost a thousand views).

That's why the forum rules put the burden of sourcing on the claimant. Please remember that the forum exists for our readers, who come here looking for sourced information. They're looking to you to provide it. If they already had it, there wouldn't be much point in visiting AHF, or reading this thread to see what you or the rest of us wrote.

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