stg44 wrote:Halder was also infected with victory disease from the quick defeat of France and the performance of the USSR in the Winter War and East Poland, which confirmed a number of thoughts about the impact of the Great Purge. Let's not forget too that Germany was also pretty aware that the Soviets were expanding, modernizing, and reorganizing the Red Army at this time and knew they were not ready to fight.
This is another area where Halder's blithe confidence in a quick victory was contradicted by General Staff analysis that, of course, he ignored.
A 1939 evaluation of the Red Army, for example, finds that its equipment was modern, its soldiers tough, and that it would be capable of strong defense. https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/ru/ ... ect/zoom/5
Summations of General Staff views from GSWW v.4:
Reports on the Red Army’s performance in Poland, Finland, and Bessarabia
suggested a gigantic war-machine which was about to remedy any shortcomings
revealed during those operations.25 Its greatest weakness was thought to
be the lack of a trained middle-ranking and senior leader class, which had been
lost as a result of the purges of 1937-8 and had not yet been replaced. Its
armament, on the other hand, was judged to be modem, even though outdated weapons had not yet been replaced in every unit.
The Red Army, it was pointed out, should
not be underestimated; emphasis on and exaggeration of its mistakes were
hostile propaganda by the Western powers. Neither should the lessons learnt
from its advances in Poland and Romania be overestimated; after all, the Red
Army had not been seriously challenged there. The Red Army’s poor outward
appearance was weighed up against its marching performance and the functioning of its deployment. Köstring emphasized that the ‘generally tough,
undemanding, willing, and brave soldier’ was no longer the ‘good moujik’
familiar from the First World War; there had been a cultural improvement and
a rise in intelligence.
The introduction of generals’ ranks was regarded as a sign of the tightening
of command and as an unambiguous shift of responsibility to the superior in
the chain of command. The exercises held under the supervision of People’s
Commissar Marshal Timoshenko in August 1940 on the basis of experience of
the Winter War and the regulations subsequently issued were given a good
deal o f attention, more especially the marshal’s call for greater discipline and
intensified manoeuvres under warlike conditions. The repeal, by a decree of 5
August 1940, of the decree of August 1937 on the reintroduction of military
commissars in the Red Army and Navy and the adoption of new disciplinary
penal regulations for the Red Army on 12 October 1940 were interpreted as
evidence of a profound reshaping of the forces. In the opinion of the German
officers, the Red Army seemed to be making a huge effort to transform itself
into a first-rate modem force, equipped with up-to-date military technology.
These assumptions and a brief account of Soviet combat instructions for
attack, defence, and ambush warfare were laid down in a ‘Leaflet on the
peculiarity of Russian warfare’, completed on 25 January 1941.31 This also
made the point that the Soviet soldier, in contrast to his operations in the
Finnish Winter War, when he had fought with a lack of enthusiasm, would be
inspired by the idea of defending his proletarian fatherland. In conclusion it
stated: ‘All in all the Russian is better in defence than in attack. In defence he
is tough and gallant, and usually allows himself to be killed at the spot where
his leader has placed him.’
The experience o f the Finnish Winter War seemed to be of more topical
importance: there the Red Army—in contrast to its advance into eastern
Poland, the Romanian territories, and the Baltic countries—had demonstrated
its battle-worthiness. Intelligence on this was being evaluated by the Department for Foreign Armies East of the Army General Staff.16 This then was the
• Lack o f initiative and stereotyped operation resulted in losses at the
beginning of the war.
• Accumulation o f large numbers of troops on the Karelian isthmus led to
• In an attempt to achieve success primarily by mass employment, the Red
Army failed to assess correctly the effect and applicability of the different
branches; in particular it attached excessive expectations to the performance of armour.
• There was a lack of co-operation between the various branches, especially
in artillery support for advancing infantry and in artillery barrages.
• Attacks in deep waves resulted in heavy losses which only failed to result
in reverses owing to the numerical inferiority of the Finns and the ample
supply of new attacking divisions.
Compare those high-quality, objective analyses with what Halder was saying:
In early May 1941, according to Colonel (General Staff) Krebs, Köstring’s
deputy in Moscow, Halder still considered the external appearance of the
Soviet officer corps to be 'decidedly bad’, and as making a ‘depressing impression’—a second-hand assessment of little evidential value with regard to
GSWW v.4 p. 322
Hopefully the foregoing makes clear that intelligent Germans did not view the RKKA with the simple disdain expressed by Hitler/Halder and that they viewed the Winter War as showing signs of RKKA strength.
The problem was that the intelligent men of the General Staff all reported to the worst general of WW2 and perhaps of German military history.