Wehrmacht "Tooth to Tail" Ratio?

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Geheime Feldpolizei
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Wehrmacht "Tooth to Tail" Ratio?

Post by Geheime Feldpolizei » 23 Aug 2003 19:05

I was recently watching a documentary in which it was asserted that in 1943, LW General Milch stated that: "Of 8 million soldiers [in the Wehrmacht] barely 260,000 men are in the frontline in Russia."

These numbers seem a bit suspect to me. Also odd is that a LW General would be quoted for such figures. Anyone have information on the so-called "tooth to tail" ratio of the Wehrmacht during the war and, in particular, the number of men in combat formations on the eastern front ca. 1943?

I searched for previous discussions on this subject, but to no avail. As always, thanks for your input.

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 24 Aug 2003 14:07

According to Robert Kershaw-War Without Garlands,of German infantry Division 16860 men,64% were regarded as "Tooth".10840 men.

Panzer Division had ratio of 50% men regarded as "Tooth".

I belive figures are from 41.

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Post by nickterry » 27 Jan 2006 22:59

As to why Milch was quoted, because he sad the following in captivity, faithfully recorded by CSDIC microphones:

he “told the Führer, shortly after Stalingrad even, that the war would be lost if quite different measures were not taken… I said to the Führer: ‘Mein Führer, you can have me shot on the spot if there are more than one million troops at the front from divisional level downwards’.” He went on to claim that “it was afterwards ascertained in the East, admittedly nine months later by the Führer, that there were 265,000 men on the whole eastern front of 2400 or 2500km, whereas 12 million had been mobilised.”

further: Milch was present at a meeting chaired by Goering in October 1943, just before a major personnel comb-out action was ordered by Hitler, which was more or less open season on the Army. Which was quite hypocritical of the Luftwaffe, don't you think?

Because of such rantings from non-Army figures, Hitler ordered Zeitzler and the General Staff to establish things like the teeth-tail ratio, or Kaempfer-Helfer ratio as they called it. Eventually it was established that there were 47% teeth and 53% tail, including unit trains, divisional supply troops and nondivisional supply troops.

In fact, these numbers are a gross underestimate, since you can add 10-20% to the total manpower by factoring in Hiwis, POW labourers and civilian employees, all of whom were replacing former German uniformed soldiers who had been pruned off establishments in 1942-3. Not to mention the use of Organisation Todt, civilian railwaymen, the NSKK, and other similar auxiliary forces.

Nor should we forget that Soviet strength figures included flak, aviation and other forces not included in the usually cited Wehrmacht strength figures.

Here is a somewhat incomplete sample of the ration strengths of different forces on the eastern front, including allies, as of summer 1944. I think we can safely say that 4 million Axis forces, excluding Finland and 20th Mtn Army, versus over 6 million Soviets, is the accurate balance of forces ratio.

1.7.44:
Navy 19,120
POW labour 160,296
non-German 125,953 auxiliaries, does not include many 100s of 1000s of civilian workers
Auxiliaries 81,691 German auxiliaries like OT, Reichsbahn etc, who supervised foreign
Osttruppen 370,825 evidently thus including Hiwis
Luftwaffe 212,488 remember, all Lw Feld Divs part of army from 11.43
SS 117,282 including police, excluding police in RK Ostland etc
Heer 2,637,826
Total 3,948,823

the discrepancy comes from Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks - didn't type up those figures, though I still have the document.


A more concrete example: Army Group Centre had only 40 frontline divisions in June 1944, plus a few security type formations and Hungarian rear area garrison divs, but here is its return:

Total Army SS Luftwaffe Osttruppen Foreign Troops Allies Auxiliaries (Gefolge) Non-German Auxiliaries POWs/
Internees Navy


1.6.44 1 233 052 862 407 21 147 74 245 181 538 40 192 39 510 13 906 62 723 107


I am not quite sure what 107 Kriegsmarine men were doing in this land-locked area, perhaps boating round the Pripyat marshes.

anyway, these figures suggest a 'division slice' of nearing 30,000 men, when divisions would be lucky to field 5-6,000 'teeth arms'. There were usually more civilians digging trenches assigned to each frontline division than there were riflemen in the 'trench strength'.

Some articles on the subjects of German strenghts have appeared by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Franksson in Journal of Slavic Military Studies - generally quite good, but they screw up badly about 'teeth' and 'tail'.

Ration strength reflected the sheer number of people needed to keep an army running by 1944. Hitler and co never quite understood the world had changed since 1914. Indeed OKH was forced to draw, Reagan-style, a cartoon of the number of men required to keep a unit supplied by horses and cart, which was very large, versus the more efficient and less labour intensive work of driving a truck. The penny never dropped. Hitler, Milch et al wanted 'fighters', so fighters they got - average age 35 and rising by 1944, mostly flabby former stores clerks drafted in alongside the latest crop of 18 year olds.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 03 Feb 2006 12:29

1. Nick: Interesting figures. But I'm not neccessarily sure that the division used here is the best relative to the issue of the tooth-to-tail ratio of the army.

Firstly, several elements are included in the ration strengths that do not belong to the army at all - Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, civilian labour and so on. These may or may not be relevant to regard as part of strength, but they are in any event not part of the army and do not pertain to the army's tooth-to-tail ratio. Secondly, some of the non-army personnell (ie, Osttruppen) contain both tooth and tail elements. An important point here is that Ration strength isn't a measure of strength, it is a logistical concept detailing the number of people the formation is responsible for providing with sustenance on that day, which may include even personnel in transit through the HG area. This is quite explicitly defined in OKH/Org.Abt.I/2000/44 geh. v.25.:

„Sie ist ein Begriff der Versorgung und wird entsprechend den bisherigen bestimmungen nach Grundsätzlich anderen Gesichtspunkten aufgestellt als die unter Ziff.III erläuterten Stärkebegriffe. Sie enthält die Anzahl der Verpflegungsteilnehmer einer Einheit getrennt nach den entsprechenden Gruppen (deutsche Soldaten, Wehrmachtsgefolge, Hilfswillige) und weicht auch von der Tagesstärke aus verwaltungstechnischen Gründen (z.B. Ausgabe von Marschportionen, Nachempfänge usw.) zum Teil erheblich ab. Die Verpflegungsstärke kann daher mit der Ist- oder Tagesstärke nicht verglichen werden und ist in allen Meldungen über die unter Ziff.III aufgeführten Stärken nicht mitzumelden (auch nicht als Vergleichszahl)

Hence, Ration strength is a poor starting point for determining the tooth to tail ratios of an army command, and useless for comparison with other strength definitions such as "trench strength".

2. The following is a Gliederung of the Feldheer by "Verwendungsart" as of 15.12. 1943

Fechtende Truppen in Verbänden (Combat troops in divisions and brigades): 2,082,325 (49%)
Fechtende Heerestruppen (Combat troops in minor combat units): 424,750 (10%)
Sicherungstruppen (Security troops): 224,971 (5.3%)
Versorgungstruppen in Verbänden (Supply troops in divisions and Brigades): 380,381 (8.9%)
Versorgungstruppen u. Sonstige Truppen (supply troops and various): 896,282 (21,1%)
In Bodenständige Einrichtungen und Dienststellen (Static installations, staffs): 164,858 (3,8%)
All others: 68,076 (1,6%)
TOTAL: 4,241,553

Percentages calculated by me. Source: BA-MA RH-2 1349-3.

This seems to indicate that roughly 60% of the Feldheer belonged to Fechtende Truppen, while roughly 40% did not. However, it is an important question exactly how these categories are defined (which unfortunately I do not know). According to the above figures, the relation of fechtende to versorgungstruppen within Divisions and Brigades were roughly 5:1. Clearly, this reflects a very wide definition of combat elements (wider than the corresponding reporting categories in use), and may not be unproblematical to use at face value in an assessment of tooth to tail ratios. To complicate matters further, it is not self-evident where the line between combat and support elements should be drawn. Even if we stick to the definitions used by the Germans themselves, there are two to choose from - Gefechtsstärke and Kampfstärke. Also of course, there are relevant elements who are not part of the Feldheer and which may affect the figures somewhat. Some of these (f.e. the Waffen-SS) would presumably have more a "tooth" character than the FH at large, since they had proportionately fewer support elements. With others, notably HiWis, it would be the other way around, as these were mainly deployed in non-combat tasks.

These are the strengths according to the reporting definitions used by the Germans, and pertain to the Eastern Front on 1 June 1944:

Iststärke (all included): 2,620,000
Iststärke (just units): 2,089,559
Tagesstärke: 1,633,657
Gefechtsstärke: 1,023,336
Kampfstärke: 748,551

Iststärke can roughly be translated "Listed strength". This is not strictly speaking a trength measure either, but rather a personnell planning category, as it counts all men the unit, in a rough sense of the word, "have", but who is not neccessarily present - it encompasses short-term sick or wounded with the unit, men on leave, elements temporarily detached to other formations and so on. The actual strength is given by the Tagesstärke, which counts all men present and fit for duty - including HiWis. As you see, the difference with Iststärke is notable - though if I remember correctly, it pertains just to Verbände )(and must hence be read against 2,089,559). What these figure appear to indicate is that by the wider definition of combat troops (Gefechtsstärke), roughly 60% of the forces in Divisions, Brigades and minor units on the Eastern Front were combat elements. Compared to the overall Iststärke on the EF, combat elements would constitute just below 40%.


3. Finally, tooth to tail ratios can of course be defined in many ways depending on context. For example, what Milch is talking about here (and incidentally, his figure cannot be anywhere near accurate even by the narrowest definition of combat strength) seems to be the number of troops in the frontline relative to all the manpower somehow engaged in the East. This is something different from a tooth-to-tail ratio, because that scope includes elements for whom frontline deployment is no measure of whether they are tooth or tail. For example, "tooth" in a Luftwaffe context would be a pilot or tailgunner, neither of whom were manning trenches.

4.
Because of such rantings from non-Army figures, Hitler ordered Zeitzler and the General Staff to establish things like the teeth-tail ratio, or Kaempfer-Helfer ratio as they called it. Eventually it was established that there were 47% teeth and 53% tail, including unit trains, divisional supply troops and nondivisional supply troops.
In other words, right in-between what the two overviews I quote above suggest. :) Do you happen to know more details about the Kaempfer-Helfer ratio?

5.
In fact, these numbers are a gross underestimate, since you can add 10-20% to the total manpower by factoring in Hiwis, POW labourers and civilian employees, all of whom were replacing former German uniformed soldiers who had been pruned off establishments in 1942-3. Not to mention the use of Organisation Todt, civilian railwaymen, the NSKK, and other similar auxiliary forces.
Why however should elements like POW labourers, civilian railwaymen, OT and suchlike matter with regard to the German Army's tooth-to-tail ratio? Elements like these are AFAIK not considered in such assessments generally, or with regard to other armies.

6.
Nor should we forget that Soviet strength figures included flak, aviation and other forces not included in the usually cited Wehrmacht strength figures.

Here is a somewhat incomplete sample of the ration strengths of different forces on the eastern front, including allies, as of summer 1944. I think we can safely say that 4 million Axis forces, excluding Finland and 20th Mtn Army, versus over 6 million Soviets, is the accurate balance of forces ratio.

1.7.44:
Navy 19,120
POW labour 160,296
non-German 125,953 auxiliaries, does not include many 100s of 1000s of civilian workers
Auxiliaries 81,691 German auxiliaries like OT, Reichsbahn etc, who supervised foreign
Osttruppen 370,825 evidently thus including Hiwis
Luftwaffe 212,488 remember, all Lw Feld Divs part of army from 11.43
SS 117,282 including police, excluding police in RK Ostland etc
Heer 2,637,826
Total 3,948,823

Very interesting overview - would love to get an archival ID on that. However, force comparison is something else than tooth-to-tail ratios. But, there are inclusion issues on both sides of the comparison mark, and this comparison has several grave problems attached to it:

1. Ration Strength quite simply is not a measure of strength, and fundamentally should not be used for any sort of force comparison, and certainly not as a lump sum with all mouths included. However, the figures for the individual elements do not seem to be very far off from corresponding Iststärke figures.

2. If you want to include the German allies, they won't be found more than partially as part of the German ration strength. Also, it is by no means certain that the KM and LW personnell whom the Army was responsible for feeding reflects the full presence of those services on the EF, so there is a clear risk that these figures are simply quite arbitrary in this regard - again a general weakness of Ration Strength figures.

3. Any figure somewhat over 6 million on the Soviet side at this point would an active Fronts strength figure. Even if the above accurately accounted for the number of personnell present and fit for duty, which it cannot be expected to do, this would be a force definition that is much wider than the figures encountered for the Soviet side:
- Soviet Fronts strength figures do not include navy personnell, except insofar as these are directly under cintrol of one of the Fronts
- Air defense and air force elements included are also limited to Front and Army aviation. A significant portion of Soviet AD and air assets fall outside the scope of this.
- They also do not include any sort of auxiliary personnel - NKVD and other armed state organisations, civilian labor, railway personnel and so on. Needless to say, these were scarcely less numerous than the various kinds of personnel who somehow supported the German war effort in the East - the Red Army was after all operating in its own country, and drawing on its own civilian infrastructure.
- They do not include irregular forces against which considerable German force elements were engaged, ie, Partisans
- They do not include Polish, Czech and other allied formations, which from this time on reach significant levels
- Perhaps most important of all, they do not include forces in the Stavka Reserve, which were very numerous - frequently more than half a million.

So, in essence one would be comparing every soul who was important enough to draw rations from a German kitchen on the Eastern Front with what is in fact a fairly limited section of the Soviet Armed Forces in a technical sense. It is not a viable comparison for a force ratio.

A much better basis for comparison for Fronts figures is Iststärke figures, especially if figures can be found for HiWis. True, these do not include Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine personnell. But these are a) not really that numerous and b) this is an unsolveable problem no matter what you do, as the soviet Fronts figures includes some naval and air elements, but not all. Also, there are some elments of a clearly relevant character (NKVD, which is a numerically strong element of a nature that is at the very least comparable to German security formations) and with a considerable impact on strength figures that aren't included on the Soviet side either. Also, it seems that the Soviet strength definitions may be on a more "Present and fit for duty" basis than the Iststärke is. Ideally, Tagesstärke should be the basis for comparison, but it is unfortunately fairly rarely used.

This is an Ist- and Tagesstärke report that includes both HiWis and other categories as of 1 June 1944:

Command.....Feldheer.....HiWi..........SS.........Fremdvölkische Truppenteile
HG SU............550,000.....76,000.....19,000........6,500
HG NU............597,000.....51,000.....35,000........7,100
HG M..............849,000....103,000.... -.............13,200
HG N..............561,000.....55,000.....24,000........6,700
Geb 20...........143,000......2,400.....20,000..........-
TOTAL...........2,700,000...287,400...98,000.........33,500

I also happen to have a report giving Kopfstärken (which as I understand is more or less synonymous with Ration Strength) for all sorts of Osttruppen, but unfortunately somewhat later (1 november). Unsurprisingly, it gives lower figures for that point. What is interesting is that the breakdown illustrates how inclusive that concept was:

(Total for EF including Geb. 20)
Turk. und Kaukvölk. Verbände: 47,843
Kosakenverbände: 4,985
Russ. u. Ukr.verbände: 14,044
Schutzmannschaft, O.D. usw.: 46
Freiwillige in dtsch. verb.: 158,201
TOTAL....................225,119

A few thousand in various training units, schools and so on come in addition to this. Figures pertain to all branches, not just the Field Army. The sum total for all fronts and branches is 350,314, of whom 201,399 were with the Feldheer.
Total Army SS Luftwaffe Osttruppen Foreign Troops Allies Auxiliaries (Gefolge) Non-German Auxiliaries POWs/
Internees Navy


1.6.44 1 233 052 862 407 21 147 74 245 181 538 40 192 39 510 13 906 62 723 107
Compare this to the Iststärke return for 1 June. I would be really grateful if you could post this in a more readable format - as it is, it is liable to imperfect understanding. The formatting always screws up when pasting, I find the best trick is to use a line of dots to separate them.
I am not quite sure what 107 Kriegsmarine men were doing in this land-locked area, perhaps boating round the Pripyat marshes.
A good illustration of the dangers of Ration Strength actually - for all we know, they may have been drawing march rations on their way to Odessa.
anyway, these figures suggest a 'division slice' of nearing 30,000 men, when divisions would be lucky to field 5-6,000 'teeth arms'. There were usually more civilians digging trenches assigned to each frontline division than there were riflemen in the 'trench strength'.
Well, again I would point to the inadvisability of using Ration Strength as something it explicitly was not, namely a measure of strength.
Some articles on the subjects of German strenghts have appeared by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Franksson in Journal of Slavic Military Studies - generally quite good, but they screw up badly about 'teeth' and 'tail'.
How?
Ration strength reflected the sheer number of people needed to keep an army running by 1944.
No - to be slightly facetious, it literally reflects the number of people kept running by the Army. :) If one wants a figure that reflects the total manpower that went into supporting the continued existence of the armed forces in the East, you would need to reach considerably wider than the number of people fed by the main army commands on the EF. But such a figure would not be a strength measure in any meaningful sense. And it would not be even vaguely comparable to Red Army Fronts strength, which is a relevant force measure.

Sorry, this has become awfully long, but hopefully not too jumbled.


cheers

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Post by nickterry » 03 Feb 2006 14:19

My emphasis on ration strength is because the many non-Heer categories were ones which in other armies were put into e.g. GI uniforms.

- flak units - all other WWI main armies had them under the army not the airforce
- aviation units - were part of Red Army, thus especially relevant for eastern front
- railwaymen - essential to logistical support
- OT - the US equivalent would be the Seabees and Construction Regiments
- POW labour - used to lower TOE strengths by substitution
- Hiwis - put into German uniform and replacing German soldiers.

The surveys of November and December 1943 which we both refer to give a good indication of the internal tooth/tail ratios within the Heer. The rest of what you discuss revolves around these essentially internal figures.

My point is this: since the Heer did not include a wide variety of organisations and forces which in other armies were put into Army uniform, we have to be somewhat careful in comparing only the Heer's stated strengths (Ist-, Tages- etc) with either the Soviet or Allied forces.

Contrary to your view, as well as those of Zetterling and Franksson, I take the position that ration strength is a good indicator of the genuine, real tooth to tail ratio of the Wehrmacht, when contrasted with all the other sources from the Organisationsabteilung files. The Germans were very good at extracting considerable effort from their auxiliaries and indeed their quasi-slave labourers (POWs, civilians).

It is to take over Nazi ideals of what constituted a 'fighter' to assume that this vast tail was 'sitting on its arse'. The OKH, prodded by Hitler, went into hissy fits about generals citing ration strength, but this was because they believed they could convert 'Etappenbullen' into frontline replacements. Unfortunaely that wasn't always possible. On the contrary, modern warfare was increasingly technically demanding and required ever larger amounts of manpower to sustain and support the front. Hitler and co never quite understood this, preferring to believe that things were much as they were in WWI. This drove Generalquartiermeister Wagner mad, and IMO probably contributed to his support for the putsch of 20 July.

In terms of efficiency the auxiliary, especially non-German tail, ranked less than a comparable force of 20 year olds from Iowa assigned to a US construction regiment, but my point is first and foremost, what was the composition of the tail? It was not simply what was in Army uniform. My main point was to answer what is teeth/tail ratio, and the answer cannot be derived from Heer strengths alone.

Now, I concede your point that the Soviet front strengths don't include many of the comparable auxiliary organisations. But they DO include frontal avation and flak. Forces in PVO districts were comparable to home-front flak for the Germans.
Stavka reserve strength is often stated so can be factored in at the appropriate moments for comparisons, so far as available.
Axis strength absolutely must be factored in, no matter how bad they were those Romanian and Hungarian armies held frontline sectors.

You point to a research deficit on the Soviet side which can, however, be rectified by dragging in all the case studies on the Tyl (rear) and totting up railwaymen, NKVD etc, so far as these are stated.

My guesstimate would be, 4 million Axis forces versus 7-8 million Soviet would be a better comparison than 2.6 million German versus 6.something million Soviet front strength.

You cite the 6.44 Org Abt overview, and that gives Osttruppen = Hiwis and Lw/SS ground troops, and thus indicates a total considerably above the often cited figure of 'only' 2.6 million German troops on the main sector of the eastern front. The real total is clearly above 3 million. This indicates the internal hollowing-out of the Heer from 1942-44, and the Russification of the Wehrmacht. The Germans could have dragged more workers out of industry on the home front, and sent those POWs/civilians to Germany in their stead - it was more efficient not to do so.

Alas, the Luftwaffe figures available are to date only ration strength - but I think them valid to incorporate into a rough-and-ready iststaerke comparison. Thus, we're looking at 3.3 million or so inside German formations (excluding Axis) versus 6+ million Soviet front forces plus whatever they had in Stavka reserve. It's ultimately a very different figure to the 2.6 million that is, as I have said, often mis-cited, but doesn't even up the balance so much that one scratches one's head and wonders, 'why did they lose?'.

I've yet to see any comparable figures for the Western Front, but again, the increases wouldn't make such a huge difference as to make the defeat in Normandy/over the winter of 1944-45 hard to understand.

More in a PM.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 03 Feb 2006 14:24

And also some more general comments.

First of all - Milch's figures. The frontline strength quoted is nonsensical. I can only make an educated guess, but the Gefechtsstärke in the East in early 1943 must certainly have exceeded 1 million, and by the summer of 1943 (which we shall compare with) well higher still. He is probably more or less roughly correct with his Wehrmacht strength, which was 8.2 million in July 1942 and 9.1 million in April 1943. But the remaining 7-7.5 million men weren't sitting around samovars in the rear areas in the East. In July 1943, when there were just over 9 million men in the wehrmacht, 1.7 million belonged to the Luftwaffe. A further 780,000 were with the Navy. This left 6,550,000 for the army. However, about 1.7 million of these were recruits, instructors, guards, administrative personnell or hospital patients in the Ersatzheer. Of the 4.8 million men in the Field Army, some 1.5 million were in Norway, the West, Italy or the Balkans. That left somewhat more than 3 million men in the Ostheer, which is what whatever the Gefechtsstärke at the time (~1.5 million wouldn't be a bad guess I think) was needs to be seen against.

More generally, from the impression one gets in Müller-Hillebrand and elsewhere, it seems clear that the Milch episode is fairly typical in the sense that there was a constant focus, especially in the higher echelons, on shifting manpower from support services to combat units and on "combing out" perceived deadwood in rear services, starting already in the fall of 1941.

I am more than a little sceptical to reading things too directly into this preoccupation, and concluding from it that there was a general overemphasis on rear services in the German Army. I think it is important to bear in mind the general background that discussion took place against. Essentially, the German Army in the East was facing a manpower crisis from mid/late 1941 on, when it was no longer possible to replace losses on anything like a running basis. The Ersatzheer was quite simply not able in the short term of producing enough replacements to keep pace. This was ultimately a part of the price to be paid when the Barbarossa gamble failed - as far as 1941 was concerned, there were prepared replacements for an estimated three months of heavy fighting. Consequently, to cover its late fall, winter and spring losses, the Germans were forced to resort to all sorts of emergency measures to make good the worst of the losses, until the Ersatzheer could gear its output of replacements up to higher levels. One of these emergency measures were the transfer of soldiers from support to combat functions within the front units.

At this point, there are two things that should be brought up. Firstly, losses fall almost exclusively on the combat elements of a division. Hence, when losses accumulate faster than replacements arrive, this causes an increasing imbalance between combat and support elements because the combat elements are declining while the support elements remain largely intact. Secondly, there were two ways in which the new troops constantly produced by the Ersatzheer could be employed - either to keep existing units up to strength, or to form new units. The choices made in that regard obviously have a large impact on the first issue.

The logical solution to avoid more or less permanently unbalanced units with support establishments calibrated to support far larger combat elements than are actually present is of course to keep units up to strength by adjusting the number of units to your ability to maintain them. This was from an early point OKHs clear preference, and in practical terms in early 1942, this entailed disbanding a number of divisions and gearing the efforts of the Ersatzheer maximally to maintain existing units rather than to raising new ones. There is no doubt that the manpower and training capability to achieve this existed - in terms of manpower strength in the East, the German Army peaked in July 1943. However, Hitler (if Müller-Hillebrand is to be believed) was not willing to accept disbanding understrength units, apparently for public morale reasons. Also, a significant part of the Ersatzheer's output was, contrary to the OKH position, used to form new divisions. This inevitably created a manpower management death spiral, whereby it became increasingly impossible to keep the main mass of divisions fairly well up to strength. This again had the consequence of many divisions being fit only for limited tasks - and of an increasingly unsuitable average tooth-to-tail relation in the divisions.

Hence, when Milch or anyone else surveys the state of things in the Ostheer in early 1943 or mid-1942 or almost any other point, what he sees is not a tooth-to-tail ratio dictated by design, but one dictated by circumstances which arguably should not have been allowed to persist. Divisions didn't so much have too many drivers as too few riflemen, to put it in simple terms. For the remainder of the war, the Germans were continuously tugging the sleeve of this problem by such measures as replacing Germans in rear services with HiWis, reducing support establishments and reorganising divisions to reduced structures.

Now, what I would suggest as a plausible interpretation is that the constant and occasionally hysterical invective among the higher echelons of the German command against the perceived bloatedness of the Army's support services is indicative mainly of their own inability to deal rationally with the situation. The situation they saw (to the extent that their dissatisfaction was based on realities at all) was fundamentally created by their own decisions, not a reflection of any inherent structural flaws. The vehemence with which they pursued the subject of alleged army administrative and support deadwood reflect mainly the desperateness of a situation they themselves had created, or failed to solve, and which in turn required desperate measures which nevertheless failed to solve the problem. Milch for instance might well have paused to consider the fact that his own service was constantly growing while the Army was struggling to maintain itself, and not least the LWs idiot insisistence on raising Luftwaffe Field divisions rather than hand manpower over to the Army. But perhaps that's what he wanted to pre-empt others from drawing attention to by making these bombastic claims. And it was a poor remedy for this situation to stick rifles in the hands of trained drivers and other specialist staff that were far more difficult and resource-demanding to replace than riflemen.

It is in my opinion difficult to see any real basis for a claim that the Feldheer were overly prone to devote resources to support services. Generally speaking, the more advanced the army, the larger its tail proportion. To take full advantage of the potential of modern technologies required a vast array of specialised capabilities. While it is difficult to pin down a precise proportion of tail elements in the German army with finality, it is very clear that it was considerably larger than in the Red Army, but considerably smaller than in the US and British Armies. Obviously, there is a point at which support services can be said to have become excessive relative to combat elements. Some have argued that the Western armies by 1944 was beyond this point, but this appears to me debatable and it is at least clear that this also conferred significant benefits. For example, it brought with it complete rather than partial motorisation, higher ammunition expenditures and superb repair and maintenance rates, all of which contribued directly to enhanced combat power. It is also clear that the soviets were moving towards a higher tail proportion - this is a consistent feature if one follows the development of the organisation of both Tank and all-arms armies. And it is IMO more than reasonable to claim that this was a major factor in their improving performance. That the Germans should have reached this point of wastage in 1941 seems to me very implausible. On the contrary, if anything they rather seem to have been hampered by insufficient supporting services during Barbarossa.

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Post by Qvist » 03 Feb 2006 15:18

My emphasis on ration strength is because the many non-Heer categories were ones which in other armies were put into e.g. GI uniforms.
Well, this is something I would question as a general judgment.
- flak units - all other WWI main armies had them under the army not the airforce
In the Red Army, a very major part of AA units did not belong to the army, but to the Air Defense Forces, who are usually not included in Fronts strength if I have understood correctly.
- aviation units - were part of Red Army, thus especially relevant for eastern front
Some of them were - others belonged essentially autonomous services such as the long-range bomber service and the Air Defense forces, and these do not show up in Fronts strength. And also not included in US orBritish strengths, since you bring that up.
- railwaymen - essential to logistical support
And also not part of the armed forces, in any of the major combatants.
- OT - the US equivalent would be the Seabees and Construction Regiments
Well, I know neither organisation well enough to assess that comparison. The OT is a little bit of a doubtful case I will agree, as it at least partly engaged in tasks that were analogous to army supply services. And the soviet equivalent would be?
- POW labour - used to lower TOE strengths by substitution
Nevertheless, POWs are not a part of an army's strength by any reasonable definition AFAICS, and surely they would something of a stretch to include in a T&T assessment as well?
- Hiwis - put into German uniform and replacing German soldiers.
And ought to be included both in German strength and T&T, I agree, if one can find the figures.
Contrary to your view, as well as those of Zetterling and Franksson, I take the position that ration strength is a good indicator of the genuine, real tooth to tail ratio of the Wehrmacht, when contrasted with all the other sources from the Organisationsabteilung files. The Germans were very good at extracting considerable effort from their auxiliaries and indeed their quasi-slave labourers (POWs, civilians).
Well, I'll agree it is more relevant to that issue than it is a measure of strength. However:

1. I don't see how it is possible to calcaulate any tooth to tail ratio for the Wehrmacht, unless we want to consider all Naval and air forces as part of the Army's tail.
2. Even if you do, the army's ration strength figures, as pointed out, does not neccessarily provide a reliable figure of LW or KM personnel
It is to take over Nazi ideals of what constituted a 'fighter' to assume that this vast tail was 'sitting on its arse'.
I agree, and I don't - see above post.
The OKH, prodded by Hitler, went into hissy fits about generals citing ration strength, but this was because they believed they could convert 'Etappenbullen' into frontline replacements.
Well, the above quoted document (which provides the precise definitions accompanied by explanations at some length about the different strength categories) AFAICS give quite cogent reasons why Ration strength ought not to be used for such purposes - compared to all of the other strength definitions, it is worked out from fundamentally different parameters, and it quite simply is not constructed or intended to provide a measure of strength. Also, the pressure to convert "Etappenbullen" into frontline replacements were if my impression is correct something that came from OKW and Rastenburg, not from OKH, who wanted to solve the problem differently and who appears to have realised the essential wastefulness of employing specialists as cannon-fodder. But if you can underpin a different interpretation, I am listening eagerly.
Unfortunaely that wasn't always possible. On the contrary, modern warfare was increasingly technically demanding and required ever larger amounts of manpower to sustain and support the front. Hitler and co never quite understood this, preferring to believe that things were much as they were in WWI. This drove Generalquartiermeister Wagner mad, and IMO probably contributed to his support for the putsch of 20 July.


I agree completely with this.
In terms of efficiency the auxiliary, especially non-German tail, ranked less than a comparable force of 20 year olds from Iowa assigned to a US construction regiment, but my point is first and foremost, what was the composition of the tail? It was not simply what was in Army uniform. My main point was to answer what is teeth/tail ratio, and the answer cannot be derived from Heer strengths alone.
No, I am not neccessarily saying that it must be. But I also think there are serious problems with deriving it from "raw" Ration strength.
Now, I concede your point that the Soviet front strengths don't include many of the comparable auxiliary organisations. But they DO include frontal avation and flak. Forces in PVO districts were comparable to home-front flak for the Germans.
Stavka reserve strength is often stated so can be factored in at the appropriate moments for comparisons, so far as available.
Axis strength absolutely must be factored in, no matter how bad they were those Romanian and Hungarian armies held frontline sectors.


They don't include ANY of the auxiliary organisations. They do include Frontal aviation and Flak, and it is true that PVO districts are comparable to German home FLAK. But since most of the war took place inside the Soviet Union, that does not boil down to the same thing. Also, far from all aviation was frontal.

But anyway, the main point is that if you use German ration strength against Soviet Fronts strengths, you are IMO not close to a force comparison that is either relevant or accurate. It raises far more serious problems than a straight Iststärke/Fronts comparison, as far as I can see (where the problems are relatively minor, especially if there are HiWi figures available). The auxiliary element alone (which you find for the Germans in ration strength, but never as far as I have seen for the Soviets) weighs far more heavily than such comparatively minor issues as inclusion or non-inclusion of some air force and AD formations.
You point to a research deficit on the Soviet side which can, however, be rectified by dragging in all the case studies on the Tyl (rear) and totting up railwaymen, NKVD etc, so far as these are stated.
Well, if you ever hear about someone who does that, would you let me know please? :) For now, and far as I am concerned, I don't even have a vague idea of what sort of figure that might amount to (except for the NKVD element).
My guesstimate would be, 4 million Axis forces versus 7-8 million Soviet would be a better comparison than 2.6 million German versus 6.something million Soviet front strength
That all depends on the parameters for the comparison of course. In my opinion, there's much to be said comparing the strength of the main German and allied commands to that of the Soviet Fronts at a given point in time. That works with rather than against the grain of the definitions employed by the combatants themselves, and so enables fairly simple sourcing and has no really serious problems attached to it. T&T is a different cup of tea.
You cite the 6.44 Org Abt overview, and that gives Osttruppen = Hiwis and Lw/SS ground troops, and thus indicates a total considerably above the often cited figure of 'only' 2.6 million German troops on the main sector of the eastern front. The real total is clearly above 3 million.


Yes. I have always taken it as understood that the 2.6 million figure would not include HiWis, the strength figures rarely seem to do.
This indicates the internal hollowing-out of the Heer from 1942-44, and the Russification of the Wehrmacht. The Germans could have dragged more workers out of industry on the home front, and sent those POWs/civilians to Germany in their stead - it was more efficient not to do so.
Possibly - not really familiar enough with the reasoning behind that not being done.
Alas, the Luftwaffe figures available are to date only ration strength - but I think them valid to incorporate into a rough-and-ready iststaerke comparison. Thus, we're looking at 3.3 million or so inside German formations (excluding Axis) versus 6+ million Soviet front forces plus whatever they had in Stavka reserve. It's ultimately a very different figure to the 2.6 million that is, as I have said, often mis-cited, but doesn't even up the balance so much that one scratches one's head and wonders, 'why did they lose?'.


Yes, unfortunately I too have not seen many Luftwaffe strengths that are broken down by front (losses are much easier).
I've yet to see any comparable figures for the Western Front, but again, the increases wouldn't make such a huge difference as to make the defeat in Normandy/over the winter of 1944-45 hard to understand.
Ration strength broken down by category you mean? I'll have a look.

cheers

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Post by Michate » 03 Feb 2006 16:37

A most useful and interesting discussion.
Finally, tooth to tail ratios can of course be defined in many ways depending on context. For example, what Milch is talking about here (and incidentally, his figure cannot be anywhere near accurate even by the narrowest definition of combat strength) seems to be the number of troops in the frontline relative to all the manpower somehow engaged in the East.
IIRC from Irving's book on Milch (it is long since I read it) the figure of 260,000 estimated by Milch referred to infantry, not all fighting elements (including artillery, tankers etc.). Additionally in the usual "Just give me command and I will solve the problem" Milch is also said to have promised to free 1 million more infantrymen if he be made responsible for manpower generation.

nickterry, very interesting ration strength figures, that I have never seen before. I would be interested in from what kind of strength reports the figures you have quoted have been taken, I would assume army group level quartremaster or general quartermaster reports, is that assumption correct?

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Post by Michate » 03 Feb 2006 17:13

H ere are some data points I have for ration strength figures of the German forces in 1943/44:

1. and 2. are strength figures taken from the materials prepared for two presentations on the strategic situation that Chief of the WFSt, Jodl gave. The first presentation was on 7. November 1943 (figures describe state of 15. October 1943); the second presentation was on 5. May 1944 (figures probably describe state of April 1944).

----------------------------------------------------------------

Info taken the from two publications of the German Military Research Institute (MGFA):

1. Date: 7.11.1943 (situation of 15.10.1943)
East: 3,900,000
Finland: 180,000
Norway: 315,000
Denmark: 110,000
West: 1,370,000 (figure can be found at another place in KTB OKW, too, with an additional ~420,000 "Gefolge" of all kinds not included in this figure)
Italy: 330,000
Balkans: 610,000
Sum: 6,815,000
Source: Materialien zum Vortrag des Chefs des Wehrmachtführungsstabes vom 7.11.1943 "Die strategische Lage am Anfang des fünften Kriegsjahres", (report can be found at KTB OKW, IV, pp. 1534 ff.)


2. Date: 5.5.1944 (situation likely of April 1944)
East: 3,878,000
Finland: no figure given
Norway: 311,000
Denmark: no figure given
West: 1,873,000
Italy: 961,000
Balkans: 826,000
Sum: 7,849,000
Source: "Strategische Lage im Frühjahr 1944", presentation held by Jodl, 5.5.1944. (referenced to BA-MA, N69/18.)

------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Müller-Hillebrand, Heer 3, p. 173:

“Ration strength in the West”, 1. March 1944 (referenced OKW War diary)

Army (obviously both field and replacement army, M.): 806,927
SS and Police: 85,230
Foreign volunteers, mainly Eastern troops: 61,439
Allies: 13,631
Luftwaffe (air force): 337,140
Kriegsmarine (navy): 96,084
Wehrmachtgefolge (auxiliary civil personnel): 145,611
Sum: 1,546,062

Mentioned at OKW war diary additionally ~48,000 PoWs not included by M.H.

----------------------------------------

From the MGFA’s “official” campaign history (within the WW2 series, Vol. 7, p. 476/477, referenced to a ration strength report from Hgr. B/OQu., 1. March 1944 at BA-MA)

Army (obviously both field and replacement army): 865,180
Luftwaffe (air force): 326,350
Marine (navy): 102,180
SS and Police: 102,610
Sonstige: 91,110
Wehrmachtgefolge: 157,210
sum: 1,644,640

Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Michate

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Post by nickterry » 03 Feb 2006 17:51

Qvist and Michate - thanks for making this an interesting discussion.

To answer the source question: the figures are from Wirtschaftsstab Ost files. They come via the Heeresverwaltungsamt evidently from the Generalquartiermeister. Most GenQu files were destroyed in 1945. I'll trade precise file references for other data.

Qvist - you clearly know the literature and the files, so I won't bother dwelling on a lot of the issues you raise.

However, in your reply to my reply, you missed that I was simply aiming for a rough-and-ready calculation of overall strength. In my view, we have the 'hard data' of the Heer's ca. 2.6 million of Iststaerke (fluctuating since October 1943 - see the 11.43 mega reports which give breakdowns by category). Add in Luftwaffe and SS strength if present. But these figures don't include Hiwis. Add them in. So we're up around 3 million. The 6.44 report enables us to insert this calculation, described as Iststaerke. It's one of the very few pieces of hard data about Hiwi strengths.

Now, Luftwaffe strength on the eastern front is a dark area. My ration strength figures indicate a consistent strength above 210,000 for the spring/summer of 1944, peak strength 290,000 in March 1944. These exclude Luftwaffe Field Divs since they've gone over to the army in the autumn of 1943 and after ca. April 1944 exclude any paratroops.

What is left? The flak divisions assigned to the Luftflotten, under the Army Groups. The Luftflotten's aviation units (Geschwader) and support troops. Absent better data, I think that 200,000 teeth and tail members of the Luftwaffe serving in units comparable to Soviet frontline aviation as well as front-level antiaircraft units is a perfectly reasonable estimate. My impression from Boevoi sostav is there was a hell of a lot of Soviet flak artillery in the fronts, probably significantly more than with the Germans. No doubt it was more efficiently manned, etc, but that's a judgement which one can apply to all arms of service.

Indeed, now we have some figures we could, theoretically, calculate men per gun and plane etc for e.g. the Luftwaffe's flak force, in the same way one could calculate men per tank and artillery piece for the Heer (calculation to include Hiwis!)

I pointed out that PVO forces were home-front forces comparable to the German home-front flak forces. Soviet planes could well be shot at by the flak division around Koenigsberg just the same as German planes raiding Moscow could be shot at by the Moscow PVO district. In practice neither side did much of that, so the Soviets had a lot of flak personnel (no doubt women and teenagers, just like on the German home front) sitting around doing nothing. I would exclude them from any comparison on the basis of like vs like.

Soviet long-range aviation is obviously not included in front strengths, so if figures could be found for those forces I would include them in the 'directly confronting the Ostheer' balance. On the other hand, PVO aviation forces I would not, on the same basis that one would not include Luftwaffe home front squadrons.

David Glantz's latest book Colossus Reborn has some excellent data on NKVD strengths. Kumanev is the guy for the Soviet 'rear services' of the tyl = Etappe, which incidentally means to Soviet historians, things like the railways.

I know where you're coming from with the somewhat metaphysical distrust of ration strengths since they include people passing through etc. But so too do many figures from the US Army NW Europe theatre. In my view the differences are not so hugely vast that they are not useful for Groessenordnung calculations and estimates.

Your analysis of the misdirected political hysteria about teeth/tail ratios based on the snapshot of late 1943 after heavy casualties is spot on. More work needs to be done on this issue. Divisions obviously did thrust their company clerks into the frontline without being told to do so, and that is one area which needs significantly more research across at least an army sector, rather than just focusing on this or that division, to see what the ebb and flow of trench strengths, combat strengths, iststaerken etc was.

Equally it is quite obvious that the German Army fell in between the US/British and the Soviet armies in terms of logistic support.

But, my point would simply be this: there was a paramilitarisation of logistics services within the German war effort; even in the cases of the OT's structure with contract firms, almost an effort to integrate part of the business sector into the frontline war (meaning within the Operationsgebiet). This to my knowledge was really not repeated by Western armies. The Soviets naturally benefited from support of the Party organisations and state agencies, but what is to my mind most interesting is the way the Germans allowed such a hybrid logistic base to develop. This was why there were so many agencies such as the OT, Reichsbahn, NSKK etc operating alongside 'normal' grey-uniformed Heer troops.

e.g. Jacob Werlin's tank repair plants established in big eastern cities like Minsk - a fourth-line base workshop maintenance organisation of the kind that would have been fully part of the British REME.

Incidentally, REME was formed as a separate regiment in 1942 in response to German tank maintenance efforts on display with the Afrika-Korps. The regimental history for the war says 'subsequently it was found that maintenance was not on the same high level as was shown in Africa'.

But it illustrates that all armies had their rear services in flux durign 1939-45.

The second feature of the German support effort that is more distinctive is the widespread and systematic exploitation of prisoner of war and civilian labour. Of course other armies did this as well - there are figures at the back of Max Hastings' Overlord for 21 Army Group - but in my view the Heer did so more extensively (quantitatively) and did so in a qualitatively different way. It was soon enough integral. This also blurred into the manpower policy because of the conversion of POW labourers into Hiwis, and the basic orders abjuring the commanders to use more and more women etc to help keep Germans focused on the front. In my dissertation, I discuss this in a section I called 'German Teeth, Russian Tail'.

Thirdly, the diffusion of logistic support across either paramilitary organisation or foreigners had several interesting political implications. On the one hand, every Party or State agency had some sort of chance to contribute to 'the front'. This comes through from Der Vierjahresplan journal, which has a picture of some auxiliary organisation's men serving in the east for almost every issue during 1941-43. Paramilitary service means 'frontline' service. OT propaganda is full of this rhetoric. So it exalts non-military groups, who are deemed by Speer and Goering to be doing their proper duty, at the same time as the military's own supply services, are being denigrated and called shirkers. THis is an interesting piece of double-think, Speer's OT men are Frontarbeiter, Heeresversorgungstruppen are Etappenschweine and Drueckeberger.
On the other hand, the use of foreigners to fulfill 'unheroic' rear area duties reinforces the political implications. In practice, whether in grey or another uniform, rear area personnel have become foremen of semi-voluntary labourers. So there is not much difference with the home front war economy.

Fourth, all of this ensues within the construction arm as well, which is regarded as a 'combat arm'. Thus pioneer- and Baubataillonen are filled out with prisoners of war etc. They too are more like foremen over the toiling foreign masses. I may have mentioned in my original post that there were probably more civilians wielding spades per division than there were riflemen in the 'trench strength' by 1944.


What the Germans lacked was an overarching concept of logistics - they did not use the term until after 1945. But in my view, through piecemeal emphases, they paid considerably more attention to supply and support matters than is usually assumed. There are other aspects of this which I won't address here - can't give everything away!

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Post by Michate » 03 Feb 2006 18:41

To answer the source question: the figures are from Wirtschaftsstab Ost files. They come via the Heeresverwaltungsamt evidently from the Generalquartiermeister. Most GenQu files were destroyed in 1945. I'll trade precise file references for other data.
Ah, very interesting.
Now, Luftwaffe strength on the eastern front is a dark area. My ration strength figures indicate a consistent strength above 210,000 for the spring/summer of 1944, peak strength 290,000 in March 1944. These exclude Luftwaffe Field Divs since they've gone over to the army in the autumn of 1943 and after ca. April 1944 exclude any paratroops.
What is left? The flak divisions assigned to the Luftflotten, under the Army Groups.
The whole Flak branch numbered roughly 655,000 soldiers and roughly 400,000 - 450,000 civilian auxiliary personnel during summer 1944, roughly 10-15% of all Luftwaffe flak batteries were subordinated to the air fleets in the East.

A few hints can be found in Haupt's book on army group North (a few figures for Luftflotte 1) and one rough breakdown for spring 1945 in the OKW war diary.
There are other aspects of this which I won't address here - can't give everything away!
If you ever will publish something on this topic, please let us know!

Best regards,
Michate

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Post by nickterry » 03 Feb 2006 18:54

Hi Michate,

thanks for the data from DRZW 7 on the western front. I think Niklas Zetterling may have included it buried in a footnote in his Normandy 1944 book - he should have been more up-front with it. The contrasting sets of figures is typical - one can find several different snapshots and ways of slicing often the same cake. But the ballpark (1.5 million troops and auxiliaries) is clear. It just goes to show how numbers don't always mean much... sod all combat strength compared to the Allied invasion force, really.

Thanks also for the flak branch numbers - that would seem to indicate up to 100,000 flak troops in the east, which makes sense given the number of batteries/abteilungen/regiments and their support paraphernalia inside the divisions.

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Post by Qvist » 16 Feb 2006 23:35

Nick;

Sorry, I had quite forgotten that there were things here I had not responded to, as this came directly before the forum went down for a while and we subsequently communicated by PM.
To answer the source question: the figures are from Wirtschaftsstab Ost files. They come via the Heeresverwaltungsamt evidently from the Generalquartiermeister. Most GenQu files were destroyed in 1945. I'll trade precise file references for other data.
Very interesting. The file references would of course be very useful, and in any case I'd be perfectly happy to share any material that would be of interest to you. Just let me know what you're interested in.
Qvist - you clearly know the literature and the files, so I won't bother dwelling on a lot of the issues you raise.
Same to you!
However, in your reply to my reply, you missed that I was simply aiming for a rough-and-ready calculation of overall strength.
I realise that, it's more that I think Iststärke is a far better basis for rough-and-ready calculation than Ration Strength, if it is compared to Soviet Fronts strength, which is a much, much less inclusive category. Remember also that the Iststärke includes very significant numbers of personnell that weren't actually present, as is exemplified when comparing with Tagesstärke.
and after ca. April 1944 exclude any paratroops.
This is a very interesting piece of detail. Did the reporting practice change in the spring of 1944? In the Wfst casualty summaries, FJ losses are still being listed under Luftwaffe as late as early 1945.
Absent better data, I think that 200,000 teeth and tail members of the Luftwaffe serving in units comparable to Soviet frontline aviation as well as front-level antiaircraft units is a perfectly reasonable estimate.
Possibly. It seems however that the number of air force personnell in the Soviet Fronts are not really so very high. In his Table 79, Krivosheev provides losses by arm of service 1943-45. Since he provides both a figure and the percentage this figure constituted of the average strength of that arm of service, it is possible to extrapolate from these data what was the average size of the service (service in Krivosheev's parlance being roughly equivalent to "arm" as we would normally understand it) in question. On this basis, average Air Force strength appears to have amounted to some 395,000, not all of which was presumably frontal or army aviation. On the other hand though, see nest paragraph. Annoyingly however, air defense units are part of the large sack category "other units and departments", of whom they presumably constitute only a limited portion.
Indeed, now we have some figures we could, theoretically, calculate men per gun and plane etc for e.g. the Luftwaffe's flak force, in the same way one could calculate men per tank and artillery piece for the Heer (calculation to include Hiwis!)
Mm, but the drastic organisational differences makes this a horrible task. For example, I take it that since the VVS was a part of the Red Army rather than a separate service, their signallers would would be lumped together with those servicing the ground forces, while those servicing the Luftwaffe wouldn't.
I pointed out that PVO forces were home-front forces comparable to the German home-front flak forces. Soviet planes could well be shot at by the flak division around Koenigsberg just the same as German planes raiding Moscow could be shot at by the Moscow PVO district. In practice neither side did much of that, so the Soviets had a lot of flak personnel (no doubt women and teenagers, just like on the German home front) sitting around doing nothing. I would exclude them from any comparison on the basis of like vs like.

Soviet long-range aviation is obviously not included in front strengths, so if figures could be found for those forces I would include them in the 'directly confronting the Ostheer' balance. On the other hand, PVO aviation forces I would not, on the same basis that one would not include Luftwaffe home front squadrons
I see your point, but if I may be a little critical, I am not so sure of this. Most of the war took place in the Soviet Union, and to alarge extent with major industrial and population centers in imemdiate proximity to the operational zone, hence the two are hardly analogous - a PVO fighter squadron in Leningrad in 1942 is pertinent to the EF in a way that a fighter squadron in Düsseldorf clearly is not. I doubt such a clear dividing line between PVO Strany and Fronts is really tenable.
I know where you're coming from with the somewhat metaphysical distrust of ration strengths since they include people passing through etc.
Hehe, well, I'm not sure I'd use the word metaphysical, but touche nevertheless I guess, as far as that particular concern goes. But I attach more weight to the definition of the strength terms, which could not have been clearer concerning the basic unsuitability of ration strength as a measure of strength.

In any case - of all of the above is I think really mainly an issue with regard to force comparisons. As long as the analysis is German tooth-to-tail or in any other sense internal to German organisation, the distinctions are less important.

And, let me thank you for these extremely interesting and informative posts, I hope we shall continue to hear more of this.

cheers

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Post by Michate » 17 Feb 2006 10:46

I realise that, it's more that I think Iststärke is a far better basis for rough-and-ready calculation than Ration Strength, if it is compared to Soviet Fronts strength, which is a much, much less inclusive category. Remember also that the Iststärke includes very significant numbers of personnell that weren't actually present, as is exemplified when comparing with Tagesstärke.
For force comparisons, my rough-and-ready measure for the German ground forces would be Iststärke, as the number of Hiwis not included and the number of people included but absent would hopefully cancel each other out.

Air force strength at the Eastern front has long been a riddle for me, and here the ration strength figures might help a lot and should be added to the strength of the ground forces.
Now, Luftwaffe strength on the eastern front is a dark area. My ration strength figures indicate a consistent strength above 210,000 for the spring/summer of 1944, peak strength 290,000 in March 1944. These exclude Luftwaffe Field Divs since they've gone over to the army in the autumn of 1943 and after ca. April 1944 exclude any paratroops.
IIRC, in summer 1944 strength of the parachute units was roughly 45,000 men, but climbing rapidly in the second half of that year until reaching short of 200,000 men in Februar 1945 and then remaining basically at this level.
Anyway this problem is less serious for the Eastern front, as the majority of those units were engaged in the West. For the East I remember Hermann Göring div. 1 + 2 + corps troops and parachute regiment 16 in autumn 1944, and additionally 9th parachute division in spring 1945.

But actually their strength should be included in Iststärke figures (most documents explicitly stating that they include Luftwaffe ground fighting formations)?
On this basis, average Air Force strength appears to have amounted to some 395,000, not all of which was presumably frontal or army aviation. On the other hand though, see nest paragraph. Annoyingly however, air defense units are part of the large sack category "other units and departments", of whom they presumably constitute only a limited portion.
Interestingly, the dated Soviet "History of the Great Patriotic War" provides a few breakdowns for ground as well as air force strength for both the fronts enaged as well as the Stavka reserve, pointing roughly to the same level of air force strength, IIRC.

BTW, Dunn, "Soviet Blitzkrieg" provides an interesting descrption of the Moscow Military district serving as a pool for newly built units until their committment to the fronts and thus as an additional semi-reserve for the Soviet fronts.
And, let me thank you for these extremely interesting and informative posts, I hope we shall continue to hear more of this.
Seconded.

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Post by Qvist » 17 Feb 2006 11:29

Hi Michate

Thanks for that, and previous contributions.
But actually their strength should be included in Iststärke figures (most documents explicitly stating that they include Luftwaffe ground fighting formations)?
Ah, but the question is if that formulation includes anything else than the LW-F.D.s. I don't think that it can neccessarily be assumed that it does, since FJ and LW-FDs appear to be classified differently when it comes to losses.

cheers

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