Wehrmacht "Tooth to Tail" Ratio?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 18 Feb 2006 15:25

The sticking point in this discussion, which I just now came upon, appears to be Luftwaffe strength returns for the Eastern Front. Here are some figures that may be of interest and use.

Luftwaffe Ration Strength Figures - 1943

Mitte: Oct 42 (892,792); Jan 43 (784,982); Apr 43 (949,943); Jul 43 (1,045,172); Oct 43 (1,084,382); Dec 43 (1,138,875).
Luftflotte 1: Oct 42 (143,947); Jan 43 (109,521); Apr 43 (134,761); Jul 43 (130,299); Oct 43 (64,722); Dec 43 (71,956).
Luftflotte 2: Oct 42 (77,089); Jan 43 (135,993); Apr 43 (122,301); Jul 43 (31,701); Oct 43 (45,187); Dec 43 (70,328).
Luftflotte 3: Oct 42 (353,552); Jan 43 (344,886); Apr 43 (353,038) Jul 43 (403,934); Oct 43 (388,823); Dec 43 (390,046).
Luftflotte 4: Oct 42 (193,541); Jan 43 (88,456); Apr 43 (162,122); Jul 43 (165,336); Oct 43 (127,636); Dec 43 (133,681).
Luftflotte 5: Oct 42 (90,015); Jan 43 (85,692); Apr 43 (88,351); Jul 43 (100,318); Oct 43 (87,962); Dec 43 (85,226).
Luftflotte 6: Oct 42 (141,440); Jan 43 (182,089); Apr 43 (148,043); Jul 43 (137,599); Oct 43 (129,430); Dec 43 (107,221).
Lw.-Kdo. Südost: Oct 43 (86,125); Dec 43 (78,368).

* To arrive at a total for the Russian Front, add the sums for Luftflotte 1, Luftflotte 4 and Luftflotte 6. The only thing missing will then be northern Finland. That area came under Luftflotte 5 and here are some Luftwaffe ration strength figures for just northern Finland: 30 Jun 42 (40,061); 1 Jun 44 (25,943). The dates do not match up with the above compilation, but they are nevertheless insightful. The decrease over two years in northern Finland reflects the reassignment of Feld- units to the Heer and the departure of Luftwaffe construction units.

These figures comprise all Luftwaffe personnel, including the Luftwaffen-Felddivisionen, Fallschirmjäger, and all attached personnel serving the Luftwaffe for whom the Luftwaffe was responsible in terms of rations and supply, i.e., RAD, NSKK, Transport-Rgt.Speer, etc.

If anyone needs additional information concerning the territorial boundries of the Luftflotten, just ask.

[Source: NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-971 roll 47 frames 0006-12). This source is a monthly report prepared by Genst.Gen.Qu.6.Abt.(V)/O.K.L.].

--Larry

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 18 Feb 2006 15:41

Larry, thank you very much!

cheers

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 18 Feb 2006 17:20

There was also some discussion concerning the strength of Luftwaffe forces in the West (Luftflotte 3) in 1944 and here are some precise figures:

Total Iststärke of Luftwaffe Forces in France, Belgium and Holland on 6 June 1944

Offz., Beamte, Mannschaften: 323,139
Lw.-Helferinnen: 16,109
RAD beim Luftwaffe: 24,018
Dt. und Ausl. Zivil Arbeiter beim Luftwaffe: 45,331

Alles gesamt: 408,597

[Source: Luftflotte 3 KTB entry of 26.9.1944 in: NARA WashDC Record Group 242 (Microcopy T-971 roll 2/frame 266)].

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 21 Feb 2006 10:50

Larry, if I may be so free to ask a couple of questions concerning this highly interesting figures.

Code: Select all

These figures comprise all Luftwaffe personnel, including the Luftwaffen-Felddivisionen, Fallschirmjäger, and all attached personnel serving the Luftwaffe for whom the Luftwaffe was responsible in terms of rations and supply, i.e., RAD, NSKK, Transport-Rgt.Speer, etc. 
Are you positive about the LW-FDs being included in these figures prior to October 43? They were not under the command of the Luftflotten, who can hardly have been responsible for supplying them?

Also, do you know how the Luftflotten strength relates to that of the Army? My assumption here would be that the Luftwaffe personnell reported as part of the ration strength of the Heeresgruppen (see f.e. Nick's figures in previous post) would be additional to that of the Luftflotten - or are the Luftflotten totals included in the various Heeresgruppe ration strenghts?

cheers

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 21 Feb 2006 14:44

Are you positive about the LW-FDs being included in these figures prior to October 43? They were not under the command of the Luftflotten, who can hardly have been responsible for supplying them?
These figures are territorial. So what you see under Luftflotte 6, for example, represents all Luftwaffe personnel within its assigned territory on that date. The figures have nothing to do with the various types of subordination used by the Wehrmacht (i.e., administrative, tactical, disciplinary, supply, etc.). It's simply a territorial head count figure.
Also, do you know how the Luftflotten strength relates to that of the Army? My assumption here would be that the Luftwaffe personnell reported as part of the ration strength of the Heeresgruppen (see f.e. Nick's figures in previous post) would be additional to that of the Luftflotten - or are the Luftflotten totals included in the various Heeresgruppe ration strenghts?
This question relates to the first one and is also answered by it. This is a good example of how different documents and researchers provide different figures for a given date and none of them match up! Using the four types of subordination I noted above for the same date would yield four different strength figures. A strength figure based on territorial delineation gives yet a fifth result.

--Larry

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 21 Feb 2006 14:53

Larry,

Thank you very much for clearing that up (and again, for posting these figures). Would this be what is sometimes referred to in the documentation as Kopfstärke? I've been wondering about the precise meaning of that.

I must say, incidentally, that these seem like surprisingly low figures for overall Luftwaffe strength (with auxiliaries) in the East, if indeed they can be taken as such.

cheers

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 21 Feb 2006 15:19

Qvist wrote:Larry,

Thank you very much for clearing that up (and again, for posting these figures). Would this be what is sometimes referred to in the documentation as Kopfstärke? I've been wondering about the precise meaning of that.

I must say, incidentally, that these seem like surprisingly low figures for overall Luftwaffe strength (with auxiliaries) in the East, if indeed they can be taken as such.

cheers
Yes, Kopfstärke is a unit's head count strength, meaning the number of all personnel assigned to it at a given moment in time, even if a few of those individuals were TDY elsewhere, or convalescing is a hospital back in Germany, etc. As long as they were formally assigned to a unit located within that territorial jurisdiction, then they were included in the Kopfstärke figure. Not to be confused with Iststärke, which is the actual present for duty unit strength at a given moment in time, or Sollstärke, which is the TO&E or Table of Allowance strength of a unit, which sometimes is referred to as the "planned" or "paper" strength of a unit.

The figures are for 1943, a time when the Luftwaffe withdrew units from the East to beef up its strength in the Mediterranean. At the beginning of June, forces were pulled from the Med, Reich and West for "Zitadelle", but as soon as the operation was decidedly over those forces returned to their previous locations. Also, the large numbers of Luftwaffen-Bau brigades, regiments and battalions that were sent East in June 1941 to build airfields behind the advance and remained there through most of 1942 were withdrawn after Stalingrad. The advance was over, sufficient airfields had already been built in the rear areas and no more were needed. Luftwaffe construction tasks after Stalingrad were mostly carried out by indigenous civilians under Luftwaffe or OT supervision.

Gruß

--Larry

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 22 Feb 2006 12:25

Hello Larry, thanks again, but -
Yes, Kopfstärke is a unit's head count strength, meaning the number of all personnel assigned to it at a given moment in time, even if a few of those individuals were TDY elsewhere, or convalescing is a hospital back in Germany, etc. As long as they were formally assigned to a unit located within that territorial jurisdiction, then they were included in the Kopfstärke figure. Not to be confused with Iststärke, which is the actual present for duty unit strength at a given moment in time, or Sollstärke, which is the TO&E or Table of Allowance strength of a unit, which sometimes is referred to as the "planned" or "paper" strength of a unit.
As far as I know, Iststärke does not give the actual present for duty strength at a given point intime. Rather, Iststärke fits more or less exactly the description you give of Kopfstärke. Tagesstärke would be the definition that provides strength on a present for duty basis.

OKH/Org.Abt.I/2000/44 geh. v.25. gives the folllowing definitions:
Der Iststärke dient Organisatorischen Berechnungen und Planungen, nicht dagegen der Beurteilung der Kampfkraft eines Truppenteils...entgält alle auf dem Etat einer Einheit, eines Truppenteiles oder Verbandes stehenden Soldaten. Hierzu hören auch: Urlauber, Abkommandierte, Kranke und Verwundete innerhalb 8 wochen, etwa vorhandene überzahlige Soldaten.

Die Tagesstärke umfasst sämtliche am Stichtag bei den Einheiten anwesenden und zum Dienst zur Verfügung stehenden Soldaten.....

Nach abzug der Hinzukommandierten und Hinzuzählen der Urlauber, Abkommandierten , Kranken und Verwundeten innerhalb von 8 wochen muss sich aus der Tagesstärke der Iststärke ergeben.
So I take it from your description that Kopfstärke would be fairly similar to Iststärke, and that contrary to my suspicion, it is not a territorially based headcount such as the figures above, or? Or are there distinctions between how the Luftwaffe andt he Feldheer understood the terms?
The figures are for 1943, a time when the Luftwaffe withdrew units from the East to beef up its strength in the Mediterranean. At the beginning of June, forces were pulled from the Med, Reich and West for "Zitadelle", but as soon as the operation was decidedly over those forces returned to their previous locations. Also, the large numbers of Luftwaffen-Bau brigades, regiments and battalions that were sent East in June 1941 to build airfields behind the advance and remained there through most of 1942 were withdrawn after Stalingrad. The advance was over, sufficient airfields had already been built in the rear areas and no more were needed. Luftwaffe construction tasks after Stalingrad were mostly carried out by indigenous civilians under Luftwaffe or OT supervision.
I can only again say thank you very much for that, and sorry for not having much more than questions - my engagement with Luftwaffe personnel development is still in its infancy, so to speak.

cheers

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 22 Feb 2006 13:53

So I take it from your description that Kopfstärke would be fairly similar to Iststärke, and that contrary to my suspicion, it is not a territorially based headcount such as the figures above, or? Or are there distinctions between how the Luftwaffe andt he Feldheer understood the terms?
It is confusing, and to make matters worse, some (but not all) of the various strength definitions underwent slight (but meaningful) changes during the course of the war. I supposed for one to be absolutely precise and correct, one would need a full set of the Vorschriften and correspondence covering all of the definitions so it would then be possible to make a determination for a given date. I encountered a complete file of these that had been maintained by Heeresgruppe E and its predecessor AOK 12 when I was working with the microfilms back 18 or 20 years ago, but I didn't make printouts of take notes since it didn't seem of much interest or importance at the time. Now I wish I had!

Regarding Kopfstärke and Iststärke, I took the definition of the former from TM 30-506, German Military Dictionary, published by the War Department in Washington in May 1944. Therefore, I would not consider it a highly reliable source, and the nuances between the two terms are not fully explained. On page 40, the definition of Iststärke is given as: "actual strength, morning-report strength." On page 44, the definition of Kopfstärke is given as: "strength (of a unit)." Another dictionary, Manual of German Air Force Terminology, German - English, published by A.I.12/British Air Ministry in 1945 or 1946, says on p.41 that Iststärke means, "actual strength (personnel)." On p.45 it gives an indirect reference to Kopfstärke as, "number of bodies." So, from these it can be seen that this is a matter of judgement without the Wehrmacht Vorschriften and Dienstbriefe.

This is getting interesting, so let me know if you find out anything else!

Cheers,

--Larry

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 22 Feb 2006 14:16

Hi Larry
It is confusing, and to make matters worse, some (but not all) of the various strength definitions underwent slight (but meaningful) changes during the course of the war. I supposed for one to be absolutely precise and correct, one would need a full set of the Vorschriften and correspondence covering all of the definitions so it would then be possible to make a determination for a given date.
I agree. The document I quoted from is crystal clear on the definitions, and also includes a very detailed list of exactly what elements are to be included or not included in each reporting category (it treats Verpflegungsstärke, Kampfstärke and Gefechtsstärke also). But, it dates from April 1944, and the very fact that there was obviously a need to issue such a document at this point may be taken as indicative that there was perhaps not a universal collective understanding of them. One also gets the impression from the insistent tone of the document that Org.Abt. I are somewhat impatient with current practice, or at least with the general level of understanding of what they are each supposed to give a picture of.
Regarding Kopfstärke and Iststärke, I took the definition of the former from TM 30-506, German Military Dictionary, published by the War Department in Washington in May 1944. Therefore, I would not consider it a highly reliable source, and the nuances between the two terms are not fully explained. On page 40, the definition of Iststärke is given as: "actual strength, morning-report strength." On page 44, the definition of Kopfstärke is given as: "strength (of a unit)."
"Actual strength" is an accurate translation of "Iststärke", but I don't think there is any doubt that it is not actually actual actual strength, to put it like that. :) The definition given in the document is at least in line with the descriptions of it that I have generally encountered up until now. I am also fairly confident that reporting practice generally corresponded to this, from the fact that I have never seen Tagesstärke and Iststärke figures for the same command at the same time that did not diverge very considerably, normally something like 10-20%. That TM 30-506 gives an extremely vague definition of Kopfstärke is less surprising, because I have the impression that it was not very precisely defined on the German side either. It may, like Gräberstärke, be an anachronistic term from previous use.
Another dictionary, Manual of German Air Force Terminology, German - English, published by A.I.12/British Air Ministry in 1945 or 1946, says on p.41 that Iststärke means, "actual strength (personnel)." On p.45 it gives an indirect reference to Kopfstärke as, "number of bodies." So, from these it can be seen that this is a matter of judgement without the Wehrmacht Vorschriften and Dienstbriefe.
I think we can probably safely assume that these "definitions" in reality are nothing more than more or less literal translations of the German terms.


cheers

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 22 Feb 2006 14:39

Interesting, Qvist. I will certainly get back on this if I find anything more that will be helpful.

Best,

--Larry

Larry D.
Member
Posts: 4097
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 27 Feb 2006 17:05

Qvist -

As I noted above, I have found my notes on this subject. In reviewing them, I see no reason to consider them other than definitive. Since this is a subject that has come up numerous times in various AHF threads, you - as a Moderator - might want to put them somewhere where they are easy to get at, perhaps in a separate thread or something. Just a thought. :)

Wehrmacht Strength Return Definitions
(Through March 1944)

Sollstärke (Planned Strenrgth)
TO&E-strenrgth as determined by OKH.

Iststärke (Actual Strength)
Comprises all unit personnel, including those attached, those on leave, and wounded and convalescents who are not expected to be absent for longer than 4 weeks.

Verpflegungsstärke (Ration Strength)
Comprises all unit personnel, all supplementary personnel, including civilian volunteers (Hiwi), PoWs being fed that day and attached individuals.

Gefechtsstärke (Combat or Fighting Strength)
Comprises all unit combatant personnel and combat support personnel. This figure includes regimental staffs, but not divisional staffs. Attached personnel are reported separately.

Grabenstärke (Trench Strength)
Comprises all personnel in the line forward of battalion headquarters, including company headquarters personnel, but excluding stretcher bearers.

[Source: taken from a 16.Pz.Div. document dated 31 October 1943,
translated and published in Allied Force HO (G-2) Intelligence Notes No.36, dated 5 December 1943].



Wehrmacht Strength Return Definitions
(Effective from April 1944 to the End of War)

Verflegungsstärke (Ration Strength)
Comprises all unit personnel, all supplementary personnel, including civilian volunteers (Hiwi), PoWs being fed that day and attached units and individuals.

Sollstärke (TO&E strength according to current KStNs)
The personnel strength allowance specified in the personnel and equipment TO&Es according to the unit’s Kriegsgliederung.

Iststärke (Actual Strength)
Comprises all personnel on unit establishment, including personnel on leave, detached, short-term casualties (meaning those expected to be available for active service within 8 weeks) and personnel in excess of establishment (if any. Therefore, Iststärke only differs from Sollstärke by total personnel in excess of, or below the unit’s TO&E strength.

Tagesstärke (Day’s or Daily Strength)
The total number of personnel present and available for duty in the unit concerned including auxiliaries (Hiwi) and attached personnel. Tagesstärke, therefore, equals Iststärke less personnel on leave, detached personnel and short-term casualties plus attached personnel.

Gefechtsstärke (Battle Strength)
Comprises all personnel who go into action as fighters or as direct aids to the fighters, including all units of the fighting troops (infantry, replacement battalion, cavalry, artillery, smoke, armored, anti-tank, engineer, signal and the Führungsgruppe of divisional headquarters), but excludes all Trosse (baggage, rations and battle and artillery Nachschubstaffeln), repair services and any personnel from fighting elements temporarily with them. Therefore, Gefechtsstärke excludes Division HQ personnel (except for the Führungsgruppe), map section, Feldgendarmerie-Trupp, transports, repair services, supply troops and miscellaneous fighting personnel temporarily with them. For example: an Infantry Division 44 with three infantry regiments (but excluding Inf.Ersatzbtle.) has a Sollstärke of 11,847; its theoretical maximum Gefechtsstärke would be 8,500, or 71.5% of Sollstärke.

Kampfstärke (Fighting Strength)
Includes all soldiers in action in an infantry role in the forward areas, also personnel of other arms of the service supporting them in the same areas even if only temporarily. Thus, available tactical reserves located within the area of a particular formation are to be included in its Kampfstärke. In effect, all troops in action forward of regimental headquarters comprise the unit’s Kampfstärke. Using the same example as above for Gefechtsstärke, the theoretical maximum Kampfstärke would be 6,470, or 54.5% of Sollstärke.

Grabenstärke (Trench Strength)
Comprises all personnel in the line forward of battalion headquarters, inc1uding company headquarters personnel, but excluding stretcher bearers.

Numerical Fighting Values
I - fit for any offensive operations.
II - fit for limited offensive operations.
III - fit for defensive operations.
IV - fit for limited defensive operations.

[Source: from British War Office M.I. 14g/Apprec/2/45, all of which was taken from captured German documents].


--Larry

User avatar
SES
In memoriam
Posts: 3936
Joined: 26 Jan 2004 09:07
Location: 05 ON LT 8

Post by SES » 28 Feb 2006 08:58

Hi Larry,
Thank you for the above definitions, which are not always readily understood. It's something I am certainly going to copy and save. And what a neat way of establishing total manpower - rations indeed :)
bregds
SES

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 28 Feb 2006 10:43

Hi Larry

Thanks for this, the definitions all look OK to me, but there are some issues here.

It seems reasonable to assume that the last set are based on the same document I quote above (which is exactly from April 1944).

However, I am somewhat doubtful that the first set represent the practice up to April 44 and the last set the practice after that time. For one thing, I believe I have seen both Kampfstärke and Tagesstärke figures that predate April 1944 (though now that I think about it, I am not absolutely sure about that). For another, there is nothing in OKH/Org.Abt.I/2000/44 geh. v.25. which gives the impression that it is introducing any new strength definitions, the focus is throughout on providing a unified understanding of existing ones. Finally, I would be careful about drawing too far-reaching conclusions from a single 16.PzD document, which may f.e. primarily reflect the understanding the division had of the various terms, and may or may not deal with an exhaustive list of the definitions in use. It's hard to say without seeing the document.

OKH/Org.Abt.I/2000/44 geh. v.25. does however make it clear that the use of terms up to that time has not been consistent, and sets 15 May 1944 as the date form which the definitions it contains are to be in effect throughout the whole field army:
...sowie die bisher an vielen Stellen sehr unterschiedlich gehandhabte Auslegung der Stärkebegriffe erfordern eine einheitliche Festlegung dieser Begriffe für das gesamte Feldheer.
II. Die in den folgenden Ziffern erläuterten und in anliegendem Schaubild graphisch dargestellten Stärkebegriffe werden daher für das gesamte Feldheer eingeführt und gelten ab 15.5.44
About Gräberstärke:
Die einführung weiterer Begriffe wie Gräberstärke o.ä. durch nachgeordnete Kommandobehörden wird hiermit ausdrücklich verboten
Hence, I would draw these conclusions:

1. A unified and centrally issued understanding of the strength terms were apparently only issued in the spring of 1944. These are generally along the lines described in your post, except that they a) went into effect from mid May, not April 1944 and b) that further use of Gräberstärke was expressly forbidden.

2. One of the stated reasons for issuing these definitions was uneven practice up until that time. Unfortunately, we don't know just how uneven the practice was. This means however that it might be problematical to deduce from the understanding practised by a single unit what was the general practice. In this case, the 16.PzD document indicates a similar understanding as later clarified definitions, but there are two definitions missing - Tagesstärke and Kampfstärke. The question is if these were nevertheless in use prior to May 1944.

cheers

Michate
Member
Posts: 1432
Joined: 02 Feb 2004 10:50
Location: Germany

Post by Michate » 28 Feb 2006 12:54

Hi Qvist,

just 1 small correction on the term:
About Gräberstärke
The correct term was Grabenstärke (trench strength). Gräberstärke would translate into "grave strength". Of course on quite a few occasions the first would seemlessly effect in the second after some time :|

Regards,
Michate

Return to “German Strategy & General German Military Discussion”