The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

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HistoryGeek2019
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 27 Jan 2020 18:56

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Jan 2020 20:50
Sid Guttridge wrote:When Germany invaded the USSR, General Fromm of the Ersatzheer thought he had five months of replacements available for the Feldheer. This would have been OK if (1) the Red Army had not fought as hard as it did and (2) the war had been won by the end of the year.

However, casualties were much higher than anticipated and the five months of reserves were expended to replace casualties in just July and August 1941. And, of course, the men lost were of higher standard and longer experience than the replacements, so quality, as well as quantity, declined from the start.
Casualties did not exceed planning margins during 1941. The Heer had 561,600 replacements available on June 22, 1941, the LW another 90,000. These were sufficient to cover permanent losses (KIA, wounded and not returned, MIA/PoW) through Novmember: Ostheer's KIA was ~170,000 by the end of November, permanently wounded were about the same, MIA was ~35K. See Askey, Operation Barbarossa v.IIB page 177.

If you just look at replacements versus ALL casualties (i.e. including temporarily sick/unfit and lightly wounded) then you can get the impression that the Heer ran out of replacements in August or so. That gives a wrong impression, however, as the Heer received 509,000 "recuperated replacements" - i.e. returning wounded/sick/unfit - during 1941.

Now it's true that not all available replacements reached the front during the relevant times, especially during Taifun. That was due to failure to plan railroad upgrades adequately, not due to lack of replacements.

Casualties significantly exceeded the replacement pool only during winter.
Does Askey explicitly reach the same conclusion as you - that Germany had adequate reserves, and the problem was simply that Germany lacked the rail capacity to send them to the front? If the Replacement Army alone was sufficient, then why did Germany need to send garrison divisions from Western Europe to the Russian Front by the end of 1941?

An earlier post in this thread clearly showed that Germany had a replacement deficit of over 800,000 soldiers as of March 1942: viewtopic.php?p=2241691#p2241691

Was this due to a lack of rail? Are there any cables or memos from the OKH during this time to the following effect: "We have adequate reserves ... If only we had more trains to get them to the front!"

And for all your ad hominems against Ziemke, his numbers as of May 1, 1942 still stand: Army Group North and Army Group Center had only 35% of their original infantry strength, and Army Group South had only 50%. You claim this improved during the course of the year as reinforcements arrived, but Ziemke clearly states, as quoted in the first post of this thread, that this brought AGN and AGC up to only 55% of their original strength.

The facts are clear: Germany was losing more men in the east than it could replace. The lack of trains didn't help, but it wasn't the source of the problem. The Red Army killing all its men was the source of Germany's problem.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 27 Jan 2020 19:59

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
27 Jan 2020 18:56
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Jan 2020 20:50
Casualties did not exceed planning margins during 1941. The Heer had 561,600 replacements available on June 22, 1941, the LW another 90,000. These were sufficient to cover permanent losses (KIA, wounded and not returned, MIA/PoW) through Novmember: Ostheer's KIA was ~170,000 by the end of November, permanently wounded were about the same, MIA was ~35K. See Askey, Operation Barbarossa v.IIB page 177.
Does Askey explicitly reach the same conclusion as you - that Germany had adequate reserves, and the problem was simply that Germany lacked the rail capacity to send them to the front? If the Replacement Army alone was sufficient, then why did Germany need to send garrison divisions from Western Europe to the Russian Front by the end of 1941?

An earlier post in this thread clearly showed that Germany had a replacement deficit of over 800,000 soldiers as of March 1942: viewtopic.php?p=2241691#p2241691
Well, there's your problem...the Heer did not have "561,600 replacements available on June 22, 1941". It had 80,000 men with the Ostheer's Ersatzbatallionen, so about 500 men per division. The Ersatzheer held a further 320,000 trained replacements. Battle casualties in the first two weeks were 63,675, while non-combat losses in June were 54,000. Essentially, all the immediately available replacements were used up in the first two to three weeks of the campaign. During July, 65,000 replacements were forwarded to the Ostheer by the Ersatzheer...and battle casualties for the month totaled 158,619 and non-combat losses totaled 17,000.

Do you notice a trend?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 27 Jan 2020 21:32

Yes, I see a clear trend, one that was posted on the first page of this thread:

Image

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 27 Jan 2020 22:56

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
27 Jan 2020 21:32
Yes, I see a clear trend, one that was posted on the first page of this thread:
You have to understand the siren-song confirmation bias has for inveterate what-iffers.

So what was the state of HG-Mitte at the beginning of TAIFUN? Since the Ersatzheer had so many replacements "sufficient to cover permanent losses (KIA, wounded and not returned, MIA/PoW) through Novmember" it must have been great, right?

Hmmm, well according to the Ersatzlage of AOK 4. on 30 September, it had not been possible to bring officer strength up to requirements prior to TAIFUN, despite accelerated officer replacements in the last week of September. There was a particular shortage of battalion commanders and many older officers were tasked beyond their capacity, so became non-battle casualties. The lack was especially heavy for infantry and pioniere officers. The report further notes that numerous replacements were received during September in the form of M.Btl., of which about half arrived at Smolensk, where they were either picked up by motor transport of their division or collected in units and brought forward by rail after transshipment into trains running on Russian gauge. The rest of the M.Btl. were brought forward by foot to Feldersatzdivision C in Vilnius. They all arrived by 29 September, except for the M.Btl. for 34.ID and 10.PzD. The GRT assisted in bringing forward many of these replacements, as did the receiving units using their own motor transport. Through these means it was possible for the most part to carry out the planned Auffüllung.

Despite this intensive replacement effort in September, the average infantry division Fehlstellen was 1,600 men, while In some divisions, such as 98. and 267. ID, it exceeded 3,000. The report also noted it was understood no further Ersatz was expected for the immediate future, except for some Genesene-M.Btl. in mid-October, which were expected to provide about 250 men per division.

The end result was that on 3 October, HG Mitte passed on the following OKH order to its subordinate formations. Da in Absehbarer Zeit mit nennenswerter Personalzuführung nicht zu rechnen ist, wird der Augenblick eintreten, wo innerhalb der Verbände und Truppenteile infolge erheblicher Fehlstellen Umfang des Führungs- und Versorgungsapparats in keinem Verhältnis zur Gefechjtsstärke der Einheiten steht. As a result, the divisions were ordered to disband battalions and companies, using the freed-up personnel to fill Fehlstellen in the remaining units and transferring any excess officers to the Führerreserve of the Division. They were to report to OKH if such measures did not suffice to maintain a reasonable balance within the units.

Note however these measures did not really help much. An interesting Zustandsbericht from XXXIV. AK of AOK 2., discusses the state of 45. and 134.ID in considerable detail. In fact, it details the Fehlstellen of each division both with regards to its original voller.Div. Gliederung as well as its umgegl.Div. Gliederung. For 45. ID it was short 80 officers and 3,000 men of the former...and still was short 50 officers and 1,500 men under the reduced establishment. 134. ID was short 22 officers and 2,500 men from its former full strength and still 6 officers and 1,000 men short from its reduced strength.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Jan 2020 03:40

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Does Askey explicitly reach the same conclusion as you - that Germany had adequate reserves, and the problem was simply that Germany lacked the rail capacity to send them to the front?
Are there any cables or memos from the OKH during this time to the following effect: "We have adequate reserves ... If only we had more trains to get them to the front!"
Askey doesn't discuss the specific issue. As with all historians, his value is as a conduit for primary source material. I disagree with much of his analysis.
And no, I haven't seen a particular cable from OKH to that effect.

Have you seen a cable from OKH saying, "If only we hadn't built so many bombers instead of army weapons the 2nd PzGr would have encircled Tula by now!"?
Of course not but it's probably true. I'm not sure that any field commanders cared about the explanations for lack of replacements; they just wanted the darn replacements. Heer generals had very little insight into rail operations, even those directly tasked with railroad responsibilities flubbed pretty badly. If anything, the less the generals got involved with the railways, the better for the Ostheer.

Askey's trip through the archives shows that 561,000 replacements were "sent east" by the end '41.
Liedtke's analysis demonstrates that the overall shortfall for AGC, pre-Taifun was 7-8%.
Richard and others can provide anecdotes about specific units being more seriously short of men.

Each of the following is probably true:
  • The Heer dispatched replacements sufficient to bring AGC up to 92-93% of its authorized strength before Taifun
  • Many units were nowhere near 92-93% of their TOE strength
  • There was some lag/discrepancy between centrally-dispatched replacements and the actual strength of AGC's units
The only way I see to reconcile the foregoing is to conclude that not all centrally-dispatched replacements reached AGC in a timely manner.
The obvious explanation for that failure is poor Ostheer logistics, as by October '41 the slipshod planning was having marked effect and rail supply/reinforcements were tightly constrained. Many trains were simply snarled in eastern Poland, as OKW/H/Hitler had made no plans to upgrade the "Polish Gap" (a rational conservation of resources if you only need to supply the whole Ostheer for six weeks).
The facts are clear: Germany was losing more men in the east than it could replace.
Yet the Ostheer's strength in July '43 was back up to its Barbarossa strength, despite all the casualties between Taifun and Kursk.

Yes, it's clear that Germany failed to replace its losses during Barbarossa.
No, it's not clear in some absolute sense that Germany was incapable of replacing those losses.
Strategic decisions matter; here Germany decided to base all planning on a quick campaign.
Earlier employment of JG22 alone would have been sufficient to keep the Ostheer at full strength for at least the initial winter battles (getting those additional replacements to the Ostheer would, of course, have required the further step of planning deep railway logistics better - or at all).
With the Ostheer at full strength in December, the casualty exchange rate would have been much worse for RKKA: the AGC is probably able to encircle/destroy a lot of attacking units. Lower Ostheer casualties in December/January - and higher RKKA - mean better attrition ratios over the rest of the winter, meaning better attrition ratios in Blau, etc.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Jan 2020 05:23

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Jan 2020 03:40

Liedtke's analysis demonstrates that the overall shortfall for AGC, pre-Taifun was 7-8%.
Which analysis is this?
Yet the Ostheer's strength in July '43 was back up to its Barbarossa strength, despite all the casualties between Taifun and Kursk.
Source for this?

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Jan 2020 06:09

In When Titans Clashed, Glantz' Table N shows a brief increase in German strength in the east during July 1943. Table N shows the following German troop strengths:

June 1941: 3,050,000
Sept 1941: 3,315,000
April 1943: 2,732,000
9 July 1943: 3,403,000
27 July 1943: 3,064,000
14 Oct 1943: 2,498,000

The notes do not give any more information, so it's hard to tell if this represents a good indication of actual German infantry combat strength on the Easter Front. The supposed increase from June-Sept 1941 is inexplicable given DRZW's data above showing that replacements never matched losses during 1941.

Glantz' table thus shows an anomalous surge in German troop strength in the east from April to July 1943, followed by a precipitous decline of 400,000 in July alone and another 500,000 by October 1943. This supposed surge was not significant enough to warrant any mention from Glantz in the narrative portion of the book.

Perhaps these were "planning" figures from OKH that changed on paper (and as a result, in historians' tables) before troops actually arrived on the frontline.

In any event, a brief surge in German troop strength in one month of the war does not demonstrate that Germany had sufficient manpower reserves to replace its losses in the east. All the evidence presented in this thread shows that the opposite was the case.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Jan 2020 06:11

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
28 Jan 2020 05:23
I
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Jan 2020 03:40

Liedtke's analysis demonstrates that the overall shortfall for AGC, pre-Taifun was 7-8%.
Which analysis is this?
Gregory Liedtke, Enduring the Whirlwind. I haven't read it, but since it conflicts so strongly with the data I have, I may have to read it to see how he manages to go so far wrong.
Yet the Ostheer's strength in July '43 was back up to its Barbarossa strength, despite all the casualties between Taifun and Kursk.
Source for this?
That is correct, but deceptive. The Ist of the 145 divisions of the Ostheer on 1 July 1942 was 2,650,626, 18,280 per division. The Ist of the 188 divisions of the Ostheer on 1 July 1943 was 2,939,000, 15,633 per division. Interestingly, on 26 July an OKH Führer-Notiz tracked personnel development in the Heer from 1 July 1942 and 1 July 1943. It found Abgänge (losses) exceeded Zugänge (replacements) by roughly 300,000 over the period – without taking into account the Stalingrad and Tunisian losses. Except for the period March through June 1943 was always a negative balance and as of 1 July, the units of the Feldheer had a Fehl of 220,000, which corresponded to some 5% of its Ist.

It only took two years of combing out personnel, cutting organizations to the bone, replacing fit personnel in rear area jobs with unfit and/or older personnel, and reducing organizations, to reach a point where the Heer was at 95% strength...after reducing its organizations to 85.5% of their original strength. In other words, as of 1 July 1943, the Feldheer Fehl was effectively 19.5% of its Ist as of 1 July 1941.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Jan 2020 06:17

Richard Anderson wrote:
28 Jan 2020 06:11
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
28 Jan 2020 05:23
I
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Jan 2020 03:40

Liedtke's analysis demonstrates that the overall shortfall for AGC, pre-Taifun was 7-8%.
Which analysis is this?
Gregory Liedtke, Enduring the Whirlwind. I haven't read it, but since it conflicts so strongly with the data I have, I may have to read it to see how he manages to go so far wrong.
Yet the Ostheer's strength in July '43 was back up to its Barbarossa strength, despite all the casualties between Taifun and Kursk.
Source for this?
That is correct, but deceptive. The Ist of the 145 divisions of the Ostheer on 1 July 1942 was 2,650,626, 18,280 per division. The Ist of the 188 divisions of the Ostheer on 1 July 1943 was 2,939,000, 15,633 per division. Interestingly, on 26 July an OKH Führer-Notiz tracked personnel development in the Heer from 1 July 1942 and 1 July 1943. It found Abgänge (losses) exceeded Zugänge (replacements) by roughly 300,000 over the period – without taking into account the Stalingrad and Tunisian losses. Except for the period March through June 1943 was always a negative balance and as of 1 July, the units of the Feldheer had a Fehl of 220,000, which corresponded to some 5% of its Ist.

It only took two years of combing out personnel, cutting organizations to the bone, replacing fit personnel in rear area jobs with unfit and/or older personnel, and reducing organizations, to reach a point where the Heer was at 95% strength...after reducing its organizations to 85.5% of their original strength. In other words, as of 1 July 1943, the Feldheer Fehl was effectively 19.5% of its Ist as of 1 July 1941.
Thanks. For us ignoramuses, can you explain the meaning of the terms Feldheer, Fehl and Feldheer Fehl?
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jan 2020 06:22

The RKKA during this timeframe had taken severe losses and were at a downtick, however, it was better led at the division level and higher due to massive leadership turnover weeding out the failed leaders. However, its troops were worse trained than before. Its tanks were also better, with a greater portion of medium/heavy (T-34) types to light types compared to the year before. The new wave of forces that were much better trained (in-cooperated all the learning) and developed but would only appear in Nov 1942.

May 1942 was the last time the Wehrmacht had a sharp edge over its opponent, with tactical superiority.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Jan 2020 06:22

@HistoryGeek2019

I was going off memory but here is one source for July 1943:

Image

Niklas Zetterling, "Loss Rates on the Eastern Front during World War II," Journal of Slavic Military Studies 1996 [I can dm you a copy if you'd like].

Note that Ostheer strength didn't reach the May 1942 nadir that Ziemke highlights until December 1943 or January 1944 - despite another two summers and unit transfers to the West. Clearly the '41-'42 Ostheer had many more reserves of manpower than it deployed in the first year. Shouldn't be surprising given perhaps the greatest military blunder of all time in assuming a quick conquest of the world's biggest country and army.

Liedtke's analysis:

Image

...from Enduring the Whirlwhind, Kindle edition. I don't know the page cite (can anyone tell this tech-challenged person how to convert Kindle locations to print pages?)
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Jan 2020 06:27

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:In any event, a brief surge in German troop strength in one month of the war does not demonstrate that Germany had sufficient manpower reserves to replace its losses in the east. All the evidence presented in this thread shows that the opposite was the case.
What do you mean? I don't know what to make of that statement. The troops either existed or not - what difference does it make that they surged in July (for the Kursk offensive, presumably), then strength decreased with casualties (the arguably biggest-ever battle of Don-Dniepr) and diversions to Italy/West.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 28 Jan 2020 06:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Jan 2020 06:30

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
28 Jan 2020 06:17
Thanks. For us ignoramases, can you explain the meaning of the terms Feldheer, Fehl and Feldheer Fehl?
Sorry.

Feldheer - the Field Army. It incorporated all units operationally ready for field service (at least in theory).
Ostheer - a subset of the Feldheer fighting on the East (Ost) Front.
Ersatzheer - the Replacement Army. It trained and equipped units and replacement personnel for the Feldheer.
Fehl - shortfall, in this case the personnel shortfall from what the unit was supposed to have.
Ist - strength term often translated as present-for-duty strength.
Soll - strength term often translated as table-of-organization strength.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Jan 2020 06:38

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:The supposed increase from June-Sept 1941 is inexplicable given DRZW's data above showing that replacements never matched losses during 1941.
One explanation for the anomaly is failure to include OKH reserve forces in the June 22 strength. Most were directly behind, or in transit to, Ostheer on June 22 and largely joined battle within in a few weeks.

In addition, Ostheer received 24 divisions (including battle-worthless security divisions) between July 4 and the end of '41.
It also received non-div reinforcements during that period.

Askey, Barbarossa v.IIB p.65-66.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 28 Jan 2020 06:43

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Jan 2020 06:27
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:In any event, a brief surge in German troop strength in one month of the war does not demonstrate that Germany had sufficient manpower reserves to replace its losses in the east. All the evidence presented in this thread shows that the opposite was the case.
What do you mean? I don't know what to make of that statement. The troops either existed or not - what difference does it make that they surged in July (for the Kursk offensive, presumably), then strength decreased with casualties (the arguably biggest-ever battle of Don-Dniepr) and diversions to Italy/West.
They existed, they were just 16 years old in 1941.

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