German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

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Peter89
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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 20 May 2021 18:50

historygeek2021 wrote:
20 May 2021 18:41
Peter89 wrote:
20 May 2021 18:14

Just as I thought, we are talking about the same document. Did you actually read it?

"Die wehrwirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen einer Operation im Osten,", February 13, 1941, 517:
If you have an e-format, I'd really appreciate it.
Sorry, I don't :(

But this is quite a famous quote, I think you can find it via google, and its English translation as well.

Edit: https://books.google.es/books?id=2rJqy2SkJqsC&pg=PA119
Last edited by Peter89 on 20 May 2021 19:05, edited 1 time in total.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 20 May 2021 18:55

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 May 2021 18:38
Peter89 wrote:
20 May 2021 16:16
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 May 2021 15:29
This is not going to lead anywhere nice or fruitful... if you have personal problems with me, please do send personal messages. There's no need to go down this road.
My response was entirely substantive, stating that you are repeating interpretations injected into the historiography by Thomas's self-serving biography (and that you appear not to realize that Southwest Russia was a massive food surplus zone).
Please TMP, just drop it. If something doesn't work, it doesn't work. And by "it" I mean our communication here.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 May 2021 19:26

Peter89 wrote:Thomas said that IF the military would be able to achieve these aims, THEN Hitler could get from the SU what he wanted.

It also means: if they can't, they won't.

And they couldn't.
Thomas was wrong as regards 1942, when Germany got 20% of its calories from the occupied SU. He may have been wrong as regards 1941 as well. From Harvest of Despair by Karel C. Berkhoff:
Altogether, from the perspective of Nazi agricultural planning, the first
year looked good. Both the army and the Reich apparently received from
Ukraine the crop amounts that specialists had calculated before the invasion.
Regarding the peasants themselves, Berkhoff concludes:
Nevertheless, the evidence still does allow for the conclusion that many
and probably most-peasants of the Reichskonunissariat Ukraine had more
food at their disposal than before the German occupation.
Lest anyone worry, Harvest of Despair is not a work of Nazi apologia - quite the opposite. It discusses famine in the cities and the escalating brutality of occupation, appropriately centering the evil inherent in Hitler's eastern campaign. But on the narrow economic-agricultural issues it's clear that rural food supply did not collapse; indeed it was probably better under Hitler than under Stalin.

And from this sustained agricultural production (contra Thomas), Germany was able to obtain 20% of its calories and feed massive field armies. In '42-'43 Germany imported more food from the SU than SU did from US in any year.

Thomas's fundamental problem was he knew nothing about economics as social science - as opposed to economics as a catalogue of inputs/outputs for an economy. Thus we see him stating that profit was irrelevant to German war production and, in the case of the East, not understanding the incentive structure of agricultural production in the SU. Because Soviet incentive structures were so bad, there was little the Germans could have done to be worse (economically speaking). Thus the disparity between German/Soviet agricultural surplus creamed off the Ukraine was nowhere near as large as Thomas feared.
Peter89 wrote:If something doesn't work, it doesn't work.
Feel free to ignore me. I will continue rebutting your substantive points as I see warranted. Nothing personal, just disagree with your points here.
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"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 20 May 2021 19:38

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 May 2021 19:26
Feel free to ignore me.
I sent you a PM instead, and let's continue there, please.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by historygeek2021 » 20 May 2021 20:47

What Müller makes clear in DRZW is that Thomas didn't say, "Here are the issues with an attack on the Soviet Union, therefore don't do it." He said, "Here are the issues with an attack on the Soviet Union, therefore give me more power over Germany's economy." When this didn't work, he set his sites on becoming economic dictator of the occupied Soviet Union, so he wrote his Feb. 1941 memorandum about the spoils of war that he could bring home.

Adam Tooze's goal seems to be to tear down the myth of Albert Speer. Rolf-Dieter Müller's goal seems to be to tear down whatever respect Georg Thomas still has.

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 20 May 2021 21:28

historygeek2021 wrote:
20 May 2021 20:47
What Müller makes clear in DRZW is that Thomas didn't say, "Here are the issues with an attack on the Soviet Union, therefore don't do it." He said, "Here are the issues with an attack on the Soviet Union, therefore give me more power over Germany's economy." When this didn't work, he set his sites on becoming economic dictator of the occupied Soviet Union, so he wrote his Feb. 1941 memorandum about the spoils of war that he could bring home.

Adam Tooze's goal seems to be to tear down the myth of Albert Speer. Rolf-Dieter Müller's goal seems to be to tear down whatever respect Georg Thomas still has.
To be fair, he never commanded much respect as he was quite far from a humanitarian angel.

You are allowed to read whatever you want into Müller's or Thomas' words. I also recommend you to take a look into other documents of his, which of course never explicitly said "Mein Führer! Don't do it!", because a man of Thomas' standing could not afford it. What he could do was to underline the problems. Raeder, as you mentioned above, was more explicit; because he could afford it. He and the SKL prepared quite detailed plans for an alternative German strategy.

You are also right when you say that Raeder and Thomas had their own political motives, too; they wanted more power for themselves. But all the same, it did not require the greatest naval military mind of the century to realize that the invasion of the SU would mean the end of the strategic Schwerpunkt against Britain. Also Thomas did not need to be the smartest economist around to take a look at a darn map and realize that the Germans need to get quite fast and quite unharmed and quite everything, in order to make Barbarossa profitable.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 May 2021 22:53

Re the broader OP topic, has anyone read Rolf-Dieter Mueller's Der Feind Steht im Osten?

Aside from the thesis that Hitler/Germany was planning to invade SU from 1939 (hardly provocative, IMO), it apparently indicts the broad German elite for failing "morally and professionally" re SU. By "professionally," I assume that Mueller means the incompetence with which German generals and others planned the invasion, which would largely coincide with my thesis that basically all the German generals were baldly incompetent re Barbarossa.

AJP Taylor's thesis is that Hitler's foreign policy was basically that which any German nationalist would have pursued. As the generals were all nationalists, we'd expect them to have shared Hitler's program.

Combining Taylor's thesis from The Origins of the Second World War with Mueller's in Der Feind, plus the broad Germanic anti-Slav racism, it shouldn't surprise anyone that few German military/political elites raised serious objections to Barbarossa.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 May 2021 23:26

Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 10:41


Hardly reports of glowing optimism:
Image
To discuss with the temperature down a bit...

I tracked this excerpt to Oil & War, which in turn cites [FN #1] a 1961 biography of Keitel (who was executed in 1946). This is exactly the period of WW2 historiography in which the German generals' version of events were given the most credence, which makes me very suspicious that the quoted exchange ever took place.

As Mueller notes in DRZW, Thomas went so far as to excise unfavorable passages of the OKW KTB to preserve his historical record; fabricating an exchange doesn't seem beyond him. Both witnesses were dead by the time of Thomas's writing...
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by historygeek2021 » 20 May 2021 23:54

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 May 2021 23:26
Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 10:41


Hardly reports of glowing optimism:
Image
To discuss with the temperature down a bit...

I tracked this excerpt to Oil & War, which in turn cites [FN #1] a 1961 biography of Keitel (who was executed in 1946). This is exactly the period of WW2 historiography in which the German generals' version of events were given the most credence, which makes me very suspicious that the quoted exchange ever took place.

As Mueller notes in DRZW, Thomas went so far as to excise unfavorable passages of the OKW KTB to preserve his historical record; fabricating an exchange doesn't seem beyond him. Both witnesses were dead by the time of Thomas's writing...

Good catch. The wider excerpt makes it clear this is exactly the sort of hagiography of Saint Thomas that Müller is trying so hard to debunk:
Saint Thomas.png
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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 May 2021 00:40

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Good catch. The wider excerpt makes it clear this is exactly the sort of hagiography of Saint Thomas that Müller is trying so hard to debunk:
Yeesh. Didn't even read beyond the passage; that's dire. Thomas was at best coup-curious; the serious plotters didn't survive to write biographies.

Tooze debunks Thomas as well; I didn't go back to WoD but per Wikipedia's quotes of Tooze:
Thomas has been described as someone who at times "toyed with opposition to Hitler's war" but who fundamentally was a "ruthless pragmatist" whose only concern was "Germany's future as a great power."
...again the German generals were at least as avaricious and were stupider re Soviet Union than Hitler, who at least expressed misgivings about Soviet power and who expected that Army production would be maintained until SU's defeat, rather than slashed in Summer '41. Hans von Seekt, one of Halder's predecessors, was writing about Germany ethnically cleansing western Russia/Belarus/Ukraine for German settlement during WW1 (not the same as gas chambers but still...).

Barbarossa is called Hitler's greatest blunder but his culpability lies more with believing his generals than anything else.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 21 May 2021 10:48

historygeek2021 wrote:
20 May 2021 23:54
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 May 2021 23:26
Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 10:41


Hardly reports of glowing optimism:
Image
To discuss with the temperature down a bit...

I tracked this excerpt to Oil & War, which in turn cites [FN #1] a 1961 biography of Keitel (who was executed in 1946). This is exactly the period of WW2 historiography in which the German generals' version of events were given the most credence, which makes me very suspicious that the quoted exchange ever took place.

As Mueller notes in DRZW, Thomas went so far as to excise unfavorable passages of the OKW KTB to preserve his historical record; fabricating an exchange doesn't seem beyond him. Both witnesses were dead by the time of Thomas's writing...

Good catch. The wider excerpt makes it clear this is exactly the sort of hagiography of Saint Thomas that Müller is trying so hard to debunk:

Saint Thomas.png
It doesn't matter what Müller tries to do. What matters is the report that Thomas prepared, and our interpretation about it.

The sources I am aware of - including the one Müller uses - are not containing the unconditional reassurement of Hitler. The framework he gives to the successful exploitation of the East is absolutely ridiculous - it would require a France-like victory or even better.

To whitewash Thomas, one could use his part in the resistance for which he went to the concentration camp. However, I do not try to do that, I simply point out that he was aware of the limits of the eastern campaign. He wrote about topics that are still relevant today; trade, food, raw materials, industry, Soviets behind the Urals.

His claims in summary (IIRC):
- the Soviet agriculture and its machinery as well as its stocks have to be captured largely intact
- the Soviet machinery and working animals are irreplaceable with German ones, and they consume about 60% of the refined crude oil of the Soviet Union
- the meat situation in Germany cannot be expected to improve
- the crucial metals that Germany lacked did not have meaningful quantities west of the Urals except mangan and nickel
- trade: there will be problems with cutting off the link to the Far East; wolfram, silk, rubber and the SU: chrome, foodstuffs, oil
- the Soviet industry, even though weakened, will be able to survive east of the Urals

Of course, the study also points out that the supply of POL in general, manganese, certain foodstuffs, etc. might improve by a great margin, IF the attack is successful. Also it is completely ignorant to the scope of the LL and the Soviets' ability to move the industry eastwards.

One can say it is an optimistic report. One can claim that it assured Hitler, and I'll accept that - but it was still what it was. No sane military decision maker would make an attack based on this report. Except in one case: if the enemy is expected to collapse with remarkable ease and in a very short period of time.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by historygeek2021 » 21 May 2021 16:23

Peter89 wrote:
20 May 2021 18:14

Long story short: even it is uncertain, IF the Germans are able to protect the Soviet foodstuff and agricultural machinery from destruction, and able to reap a 70% harvest, and the foodstuff quotas of 160 million of Soviet people are lowered, THEN can be a significant quantity of food obtained from the Soviet Union. Under these prerequisites is it possible, to cover the German needs for 1941-1942.

Your translation of the quote is far more pessimistic than that given by the source you cited:
Even if it appears uncertain as to whether the M.T.S. [Machine and Tractor Stations] and supplies can be protected from destruction in large amounts, if, moreover, as a result of the effects of war, a harvest of 70% at the most can be expected, it must be considered that the Russian is accustomed to adapting his needs to poor harvests and that with a population of 160 million, even a small reduction of the consumption per head would free up considerable quantities of grain.

Under these circumstances, it could be possible to meet the German shortfall for 1941 and 1942.
https://books.google.es/books?id=2rJqy2 ... &q&f=false

It doesn't seem like there are any actual warnings in the memo, at least none that you've quoted. The above quote is saying that even if things go bad (e.g., even if Germany is unable to capture Russian farming equipment and even if the Russian harvest is at most 70%), then Germany's food situation will still be fine. That isn't a warning. That is an encouragement for Hitler to invade the Soviet Union so that Thomas can be made economic dictator in the east.

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 May 2021 20:02

Peter89 wrote:No sane military decision maker would make an attack based on this report. Except in one case: if the enemy is expected to collapse with remarkable ease and in a very short period of time.
Well that's exactly the problem here: German leadership (especially the generals) were all insane, believing they could conquer the world's largest army and country in weeks - and Thomas certainly knew of the insane operational plan. At the time of Thomas's writing, making an intelligent forecast about economics required making an intelligent forecast about military operations - something of which Thomas was incapable despite the clear insanity of Barbarossa planning.

I have never seen any suggestion that Thomas doubted the operational/strategic plan for a quick Barbarossa. You're imputing to Thomas something that is clear to us but was hidden to all German generals.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by Peter89 » 21 May 2021 20:05

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 May 2021 20:02
Peter89 wrote:No sane military decision maker would make an attack based on this report. Except in one case: if the enemy is expected to collapse with remarkable ease and in a very short period of time.
Well that's exactly the problem here: German leadership (especially the generals) were all insane, believing they could conquer the world's largest army and country in weeks - and Thomas knew of the insane operational plan. At the time of Thomas's writing, making an intelligent forecast about economics required making an intelligent forecast about military operations - something of which Thomas was incapable despite the clear insanity of Barbarossa planning.

I have never seen any suggestion that Thomas doubted the operational/strategic plan for a quick Barbarossa. You're imputing to Thomas something that is clear to us but was hidden to all German generals.
Yes, but it wasn't his job to make the military plans. We can't expect him to be a saint and a seer. He did give his warnings, which were not, of course, a comprehensive critic of Barbarossa.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German generals' warnings to Hitler about overconfidence in German victory over UK and USSR

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 May 2021 20:10

Sid Guttridge wrote:As early as 22 March 1942 Fromm informed Keitel that he was worried that large scale offensive operations were not feasible in 1942 because of manpower and munitions shortages and when the offensive into the Caucasus began that summer Fromm told Speer that it was a luxury Germany could ill-afford in the “poor man’s” situation in which it found itself.
This is not unqualifiedly good strategic analysis. As Blau showed, Germany retained the ability to smash Soviet armies via large-scale offensive. While Blau was a deeper offensive than German logistical resources could justify, to the extent that Fromm implied a 1942 defensive on the Eastern Front he's just wrong. Nothing would have been more disastrous for Germany. They would not have inflicted Blau's massive economic/demographic damage and would have forfeited >1mil PoW's. By the end of 1942, RKKA would have been massively stronger and Ostheer would have been back at least to the Dniepr.

Blau was a bad plan but Fromm's strategy was worse.

What was Fromm's pre-Barbarossa position, btw? I don't recall him opposing it vociferously.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 21 May 2021 20:13, edited 1 time in total.
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"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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