The Infantryman

Discussions on all aspects of the USSR, from the Russian Civil War till the end of the Great Patriotic War and the war against Japan. Hosted by Art.
Sokol
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Post by Sokol » 21 Nov 2002 06:23

Actually, the Murmansk marines weren't based on ships. They didn't HAVE to use massed infantry assaults. And I didn't say 35,000 killed. I said 35,000 annihilated. As in the officer corps was annihilated. Not killed off. Sorry for my careless wording. But the massed infantry assault was definitely widely used, unfortunately.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 21 Nov 2002 07:19

Sokol wrote:Actually, the Murmansk marines weren't based on ships. They didn't HAVE to use massed infantry assaults. And I didn't say 35,000 killed. I said 35,000 annihilated. As in the officer corps was annihilated. Not killed off. Sorry for my careless wording. But the massed infantry assault was definitely widely used, unfortunately.
fortunately not. it seems to me that your perception is largely based on German sources. it would not kill you to consult the other side.

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Post by Sokol » 21 Nov 2002 07:57

Please, I would like to hear your own suggestions as to why the casualty lists are so lopsided in Germany's favour. Never mind, I'll give you at the very least one example on Monday. I do not have the patience to go hunting for examples at the moment. It's the weekend. The bottom line remains clear: Russian commanders threw Russian lives away.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 21 Nov 2002 08:32

Sokol wrote:Please, I would like to hear your own suggestions as to why the casualty lists are so lopsided in Germany's favour. Never mind, I'll give you at the very least one example on Monday. I do not have the patience to go hunting for examples at the moment. It's the weekend. The bottom line remains clear: Russian commanders threw Russian lives away.
how lopsided are they excatly?

Sokol
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Post by Sokol » 21 Nov 2002 09:48

Unfortunately, all too lopsided. The vast majority of historians consider 3.5 million German against 7-12 million Soviet KIA's (civillians are not included in this number, nor are partisans, nor are men who died in camps as POW's) as fact. Quite horrific, is it not? Would you then not say that maybe, just maybe, the massed infantry assault was used to say, I don't know, try to break out of a German encirclement? What I was saying was that the massed infantry assault was used, and used widely, not that it was an officially accepted tactic. I am further inclined to believe Western sources (specifically English and American) rather than Russian sources on this issue. Objectivity, I feel, would not be a given with historians of Russian descent on the issue of Soviet casualties in WW2. But neither do I look to German sources to provide numbers. Please do not assume I only look to German sources for my information.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 21 Nov 2002 10:12

Sokol wrote:Unfortunately, all too lopsided. The vast majority of historians consider 3.5 million German against 7-12 million Soviet KIA's (civillians are not included in this number, nor are partisans, nor are men who died in camps as POW's) as fact. Quite horrific, is it not? Would you then not say that maybe, just maybe, the massed infantry assault was used to say, I don't know, try to break out of a German encirclement? What I was saying was that the massed infantry assault was used, and used widely, not that it was an officially accepted tactic. I am further inclined to believe Western sources (specifically English and American) rather than Russian sources on this issue. Objectivity, I feel, would not be a given with historians of Russian descent on the issue of Soviet casualties in WW2. But neither do I look to German sources to provide numbers. Please do not assume I only look to German sources for my information.
actually 11 something millions of soviet losses do include thouse who died in camps, as MIA etc - see Krivosheev on that number of KIA who died in action just bellow 7 million and not all of them died fighting Germans.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 21 Nov 2002 10:20

6 885,1 thou KIA

5 059,0 MIA - that mostly people who were captured.

Sokol
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Post by Sokol » 21 Nov 2002 15:32

Well, until I can prove otherwise, and since Russians should know best, I concede this point. Just under 7 million KIA's it is. Thanks for the info.

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LeoAU
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Post by LeoAU » 22 Nov 2002 01:08

Sokol wrote:Please, I would like to hear your own suggestions as to why the casualty lists are so lopsided in Germany's favour. Never mind, I'll give you at the very least one example on Monday. I do not have the patience to go hunting for examples at the moment. It's the weekend. The bottom line remains clear: Russian commanders threw Russian lives away.

They threw Russian lives no more than Germans did. I don't have all the figures with me, but I know for ceratin that Soviets suffered most of the casualties in 42.
If 41 was a full year of fighting, it would be 41 perhaps, ie the times when Soviets were retreating. When they started advancing, 43-onwards, their casualties actuslly were going down all the time, in 43 - less than in 42, 44 - than in 43 etc. I mean the times where Soviet were supposedly used those inferior tactics, all those human waves etc. the casualties should be increasing. Do I make any sence here?

In the end of the war the picture with casualties reversed - it was Germans who suffered more. And it happened this way becasue Soviets used better equipment, numerical superiotiry(which German always enjoyed back in 41) and better tactics.

Sokol
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Post by Sokol » 22 Nov 2002 04:12

Of course, I never talked about human waves throughout the war. I fully agree that after late '42 and Stalingrad the tactics became un-necessary. The Soviet infantryman became better supported, better armed and better led.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 25 Nov 2002 17:00

They threw Russian lives no more than Germans did. I don't have all the figures with me, but I know for ceratin that Soviets suffered most of the casualties in 42.
If 41 was a full year of fighting, it would be 41 perhaps, ie the times when Soviets were retreating. When they started advancing, 43-onwards, their casualties actuslly were going down all the time, in 43 - less than in 42, 44 - than in 43 etc. I mean the times where Soviet were supposedly used those inferior tactics, all those human waves etc. the casualties should be increasing. Do I make any sence here?


Not actually. :)

Firstly, the RKKA did not suffer most of it's casualties in 1942. Secondly, it is not surprising if Soviet casualties declined when they started advancing (although I'm not actually certain that they did - I'll have to check Krivosheev), as a very great part of their 41 casualties in particular were prisoners as a result of the many Soviet operational defeats and German encirclements. Besides, the RKKA were doing a lot of attacking in 1941 and 1942 too, even if they were on the defensive in strategic terms. So to the extent that Soviet tactics played a role in Soviet casualties, this factor would have been very much present in the first two years as well. Also, from the time when most of the standing army was obliterated in the summer and fall of 1941 and far into 1942, the RKKA was generally fielding formations who were much more sparingly equipped with support weapons than became the case later, and thus forced to rely more heavily on unsupported infantry, also in attacks. From the summer of 1943 onwards, it could rely on very superior support resources in terms of artillery, tanks and aircraft.

I really am in no position to comment on how widespread human wave tactics were, but the casualty figures certainly heavily suggests that the RKKA did not come close to tactical parity with their adversary. The casualty rates remain very much in the German favour - almost 4:1 in 1943 - despite the fact that the Germans suffered consistent and large scale operational defeat, including occasionally very large quantities of prisoners as a result of these. The numbers (though I say this with some caution and acknowledge it is little more than a hypothesis) seems to suggest that the great increase in RKKA combat power and the corresponding dramatic improvement in the force ratio seems to have had a much more profound effect on their ability to gain ground than on their ability to achieve a more favourable casualty exchange ratio. This again suggests, IMO, that improvements in force generation, in the overall strength relation and in the operational and strategic employment of formations was at the heart of the Soviet victory much more than tactical improvements.

cheers

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Tiwaz
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Post by Tiwaz » 25 Nov 2002 17:33

To give some extra credit to my countrymen who fought in WW2 I would like to point out that Finnish soldiers didn't fight during winter only.

Winter war was purely fought during winter but Continuation war extended for much longer period during which Finnish soldiers met, and often defeated, Soviet troops in summer conditions.

Main advantage Finns had was heavy emphasis on small units that would act independently in combat.

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LeoAU
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Post by LeoAU » 26 Nov 2002 01:04

Qvist wrote:Not actually. :)

Firstly, the RKKA did not suffer most of it's casualties in 1942.

Sorry, I didn't say it clearly enough, 1942 was the bloodiest year for the Soviets. In the losses per year, the peak was in 1942. That's what I meant.

Secondly, it is not surprising if Soviet casualties declined when they started advancing (although I'm not actually certain that they did - I'll have to check Krivosheev),
Please do check Krivosheev.
I reckon it is very surprising that in strategic retreat in 41-42 Soviet lose more people than in strategic offensive in 43-45. I believe it really should be the other way around, but it's not.

Besides, the RKKA were doing a lot of attacking in 1941 and 1942 too, even if they were on the defensive in strategic terms.

Yes, true. And that also proves my point that Soviets did improve their tactics. Soviet doctrine was - attack, in offensive or even when in defensive, right? And when they tried to do it early in the war with poorly trained soldiers and incompetent commanders that lacked initiative and experience, inadequate logistics and communication, they suffeed the losses.
When all of that improved, together with tactics and their use - the situation changed. I am sure in Krivosheev you will find the break down by year and the losses did diminish.

I really am in no position to comment on how widespread human wave tactics were,...
I am in no position too. However, logic suggests that something did improve, because the losses went down.

...but the casualty figures certainly heavily suggests that the RKKA did not come close to tactical parity with their adversary.

It not only came close, it became better. And the casualty figures suggest this. Check out German vs Soviet losses in 44-45. Sorry, I can't list Krivosheev's figures right now, may be you will be able to?

The numbers ... seems to suggest that the great increase in RKKA combat power and the corresponding dramatic improvement in the force ratio seems to have had a much more profound effect on their ability to gain ground ...
And this observation would only prove that Soviet were tactically superior in concentrating most of their forces, creating numerical superiority on critical sectors of the front - that is part of the tactics, isnt't?
I hope you are not implying that Soviet outnumbered Germans everywhere during successful offensive operation? I am sure you know how Soviets advanced later in the war - with secret concentration of armor and manpower, with fortifying flanks etc.
And when the German cried after the war how hordes of bolsheviks appeared, well, we know that was the result of using superior methods of concentrating those forces, using deception and maskirovka, ie components of the term tactics.

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Post by cybercat » 26 Nov 2002 01:46

In Stalingrad the 62000 Russians had the advantage over the 300000-350000 Germans. Why? In modern day strategic and tactical thinking a commander can expect to be victorious if he has a 3:1 superiority. Ok so the Germans had this but in FIBUA (Fighting in Built-Up Areas ie Cities) the ratio becomes 10:1. In order for the Germans to safely take the whole of Stalingrad they should have committed 620,000 troops against the initial 62,000 defenders. As the defenders held on and were reinforced the likelyhood of victory became more and more remote. Large cities are to be avoided and the Western Allies realised this later in the war when they let the Soviets have the "honour" of taking Berlin ie the Soviets were more numerous and, because of their mentality, less likely to worry about casualties than the Western Allies.

That doesn't say that the Red Army infantryman was poor. He was extremely brave to the point of insanity. However, taken one-for-one I would say that the Canadians were probably the best infantrymen on the Allied side in terms of aggression, the Scots and the Poles coming a close second and third.

The german infantryman was superb and the Waffen-SS as we know are famous for their fighting abilities and aggression.

The question is a hard one.

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 26 Nov 2002 02:13

One should also note that the waffen ss led many casualties due to their aggressive tactics.

regards

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