Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson...

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson...

Postby Oleg Grigoryev » 03 Feb 2004 20:44

by Stven H Newton.

Unprecedented access to Soviet archival material has allowed David Glantz and Jonathan House to challenge many of the firmly established myths surrounding Operation Citadel, but they do not in the end disagree with the longstanding consensus that Kursk marked a turning point in the war strategically, operationally, and tactically. An important dissent to this conclusion, however, has recently been raised by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson in their landmark study Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis. Zetterling and Frankson have published the first comprehensive examination of the strength and losses of the contending armies based completely on archival sources, both German and Russian. Eschewing drama for meticulous detail, the authors have created an important (one is tempted to say definitive) reference work that deserves to have a serious impact on all subsequent writing about Kursk. In their final chapter, "Consequences of the Battle," Zetterling and Frankson examine the strategic, operational, and tactical significance of the battle and-in light of the information they have unearthed-declare that it is not "possible to claim that [Citadel] produced an outcome which was decisive to the war in the east."'
Zetterling and Frankson base their contention on analysis of five major factors: German personnel losses, German tank losses, Soviet tank losses, changing force ratios, and long-term patterns of German attrition. In order to assess the validity of their argument, each category must be reviewed in turn. Before undertaking that task, it should also be noted that Zetterling and Frankson, when speaking of the battle of Kursk, refer only to operations between 5 and 17 July, which covers the period of the German offensive. Soviet writers, however, have long contended that both the Orel and Kharkov counteroffensives should be considered, along with the earlier defensive phase, as one long battle, running from 5 July to 23 August (the date of the Russian capture of Kharkov). Glantz and House, along with most modern military historians, have come to accept the broader view. As will become apparent below, the distinction involves more than the name of a battle.
German casualties at Kursk, according to the authors, "were quite small" and "cannot be seen as decisive, at least not in the context of the struggle on the eastern front." Total German losses sustained by Army Groups Center and South in the attack were 56,827 men, which amounted to roughly 3 percent of the total 1,601,454 men the Germans lost in Russia during 1943. Moreover, Zetterling and Frankson point out that the 89,480 replacements sent into the Soviet Union during July 1943 "were more than sufficient to cover the losses suffered during [Citadel]."This argument is somewhat misleading, for it assumes that all troops lost in combat and all replacements sent forward are equal, and such was not the case. To make matters worse, the authors often engage in somewhat circular logic in their analysis of the numbers.
Consider the case of Model's Ninth Army. Zetterling and Frankson have this to say:

The German 9th Army suffered 22,273 casualties from 5 July to 11 July.... 9th Army's losses were most severe on the first day of the offensive and subsequently loss rates declined. Compared to the ration strength of the army at the beginning of the offensive, losses up to 9 July (inclusive) constituted about 5 per cent, while losses for the entire month constituted about 10 per cent of the ration strength at the beginning of the
month.

What is wrong with this analysis is that although Ninth Army's ration strength on 5 July was approximately 335,000, its combat strength (including troops held in army group reserve) was only 75,713. By 9 July the army's combat strength had declined to 55,931, a reduction of 19,782. Thus all but 2,491 of the 22,273 total casualties had occurred in the army's infantry, engineer, reconnaissance, and Feldersatz units. Thus even though the overall casualty rate of the army was just 6.6 percent, the casualty rate among the combat troops was a staggering 26.1 percent! Even the most cursory glance at division-by-division combat strengths on 4 and 9 July reveals the extent to which some units had been gutted. ote that these figures are skewed by the fact that XX Corps, on Ninth Army's far left flank, had seen no fighting and that several divisions (notably 4th and 12th Panzer Divisions and 10th Panzergrenadier ivision) had been engaged after 5 July. For example, the 11 percent losses reported by the 4th Panzer Division represented only a single day of combat. Among the eleven divisions that had seen continuous fighting between 5 and 9 July, the average loss rate was a debilitating 45 percent in combat troops. Thus for Zetterling and Frankson to downplay Ninth Army's losses during 5-9 July by categorizing them as merely a fraction of the army's ration strength is to present a distorted picture of the conflagration Model's troops endured during their shortlived offensive.
The authors are equally, if unintentionally, misleading with regard to Ninth Army's losses for the remainder of July during the defensive battle for the Orel salient. They assert that Model's army, in losing another 13,362 troops between 12 and 31 July, suffered only another 5 percent loss against "the ration strength at the beginning of the month." As has already been demonstrated, measuring combat losses against ration strengths rather than combat strengths is a chancy proposition. Worse, however, is that the authors ignore the fact that at least half of the divisions assigned to Ninth Army on 1 July had, by the middle of the month, been transferred to Second Panzer Army. Thus to measure percentage losses for the end of the month against the ration strength at the outset is guaranteed to return a deflated figure.
A more accurate method of examining German losses on the northern face of the Kursk salient is to combine the casualties of Ninth and Second Panzer Armies for the entire month of July. When that is done, German losses come into better focus. For the month of July, Ninth Army lost 37,355 soldiers while Second Panzer Army took 45,928 casualties, for a grand total of 83,283. The chronological spread of these losses between the two armies, as illustrated in the table below, makes the point about the transfer of the main responsibility for the fighting between the two armies that occurred in mid-month:
The two armies on 1 July had an estimated combined ration strength of 495,000 men, which would return a figure of 16.8 percent losses. Yet,as demonstrated above, losses against combat strength were several orders of magnitude above losses against ration strength. Although precise figures for Second Panzer Army are not available, a best-guess estimate for that army's 1 July combat strength would land in the neighborhood of 36,000.7 If losses among combat troops accounted for 75 percent of the total losses suffered (during Model's attack such losses equaled nearly 90 percent, but in defensive combat greater casualties befell support and service troops), then these would have amounted to about 62,400. That figure, compared to the estimate of 111,713 combat troops in both armies on 1 July, suggests that Ninth and Second Panzer Armies lost nearly 56 percent of their combat strength in a single month. Such loss ratios, whether the period under consideration is early July (Ninth Army alone) or the entire month (both armies), can hardly be characterized as "quite small." Similar calculations could be performed regarding the losses sustained by Fourth Panzer Army and Armeeabteilung Kempf.
The argument with respect to tank losses presented by Zetterling and Frankson is equally unsound. The authors suggest that German AFV losses during Operation Citadel, which they calculate at roughly 300, "were not extraordinarily high ... nor were they impossible to replace." Citing statistics on tank production, shipments of armor to the armies, and the total number of AFVs on the Eastern Front at the end of December 1943, they conclude:

It could of course be inferred ... that a trend was reversed by [Citadel] and certainly there is some truth to this. However, what is remarkable in the figure is the long period of build-up before [Citadel]. Also it must not be forgotten that the quality of the tanks on the eastern front steadily rose, which is indicated by the growth in the number of Tigers, Panthers, and later-model Panzer IV.... Thus it can be argued that the Ostheer was better equipped with tanks at the end of the year than it had been before [Citadel].

Specifically, the authors base their final statement on a comparison of the 30 June and 31 December AFV holdings on the Eastern Front. Recapitulated in the table below, "Specialty" tanks refers to all command and flamethrowing tanks; "Obsolete" tanks includes all Pzkw IIs, Ills, and IVs that were equipped with the L24 gun; "Modern" tanks consist of all late-model Pzkw IVs, Panthers, and Tigers; and "Assault Guns" incorporates all StG Ills, StuHs, and StuPz IVs.the outset of Operation Citadel. It strains credulity to the breaking point to assert that a 41 percent drop in operational armor strength left Hitler's army "better equipped with tanks at the end of the year than it had been before [Citadel]."
Zetterling and Frankson appear to have a much stronger argument with regard to Soviet armored losses. The authors note that:

On 1 July, the Red Army had a tank strength of 9,888 in the front armies and 2,688 in STAVKA reserves. Six months later the Red Army had less than half that number in [its] field units and STAVKA reserves. During those six months 11,890 tanks and assault guns had been produced. It must be emphasized that when a force suffers such extensive losses as the Red Army armoured forces did during the second half of 1943, production of tanks will not suffice to replace losses. There will also be delays before the new tanks are issued to combat units owing to the need for training new crews.

As has become evident when discussing German armor, operational readiness is critical to examining relative battlefield strength; unfortunately, the best authorities on Soviet tanks are vague concerning percentages of available versus operational AFVs. A poor best-guess estimate of Soviet operational readiness prior to the Battle of Kursk is that it approached 80 percent; German documents from the end of the year portray the Red Army in western Ukraine and Galicia as struggling to maintain a readiness rate of 40 percent. If, for the sake of argument, these figures are provisionally extended to encompass Russian armored strength across the front on both dates, then the following picture emerges:
Soviet tank losses during the period easily exceeded 15,000, and possibly approached 19,000, against German losses of only 3,841, a kill ratio in favor of the defenders of four- or five-to-one. From this purely numerical standpoint Zetterling and Frankson would appear to have made an unassailable case that the Soviets were losing the battle of armored attrition.
Zetterling and Frankson's figures for field forces and STAVKA reserves, however, do not take into account total Soviet AFV holdings. At the beginning of 1943, according to G. F. Krivosheev, the Red Army possessed 12,500 vehicles not in the hands of organizing units; by year's end his total had risen to 18,600 despite prodigious losses.',, The fact that the size of the Red Army's tank park could have increased by one-third during the same period that the number of AFVs available to the field forces declined by 55 percent suggests that-as Zetterling and Frankson argue-the true bottleneck lay in training new tank crews, not the supply of machines. This problem was obviously ironed out during the winter of 1943-1944, as Soviet tank availability, despite continued heavy losses, resumed a steady march upward early the next year.
What Zetterling and Frankson have actually documented is the extreme low point hit by the tank strength of the Soviet field forces at the end of successive offensives between July and December 1943, just prior to large waves of replacements arriving at the front. Moreover, Soviet armored losses must be weighed against what the Red Army had gained, especially in the south. German troops had been pushed almost completely out of Ukraine, the Wehrmacht had sustained irreplaceable casualties in trained manpower, and the Third Reich had been forced to concentrate heavily on producing AFVs (Tigers and assault guns) suited to the tactical defensive rather than the sweeping mobile operations of 1941-1942. This continuous if costly sweep to the west had begun at Kursk.
The final argument made by the two authors is that "using documents on monthly casualties on the eastern front it is possible to draw up a graph on the accumulated personnel losses ... [that] shows a steady increase in accumulated German casualties without any distinctive or sudden rises in losses. In fact, this graph displays a rather even attrition which may gradually have worn the German forces down." In other words, Zetterling and Frankson contend that, for Kursk to be considered decisive, some sort of spike should appear in the data during the six months following the battle, indicating a dramatic diminution of German strength; otherwise, Operation Citadel becomes merely one more nudge in the downward spiral of German strength.
Again the authors have focused exclusively on numbers at the expense of other considerations, in this case the length of the front. Prior to Operation Citadel the Russo-German front (excluding Finland and the Crimea) had temporarily solidified into one of the shorter lines held by the Wehrmacht during the course of the war: roughly 2,350 kilometers. By year's end that front had stretched to more than 2,640 kilometers, with minor shortenings of the northern and central sectors more than offset by the expansion of Army Group South's front line from 700 to 1,450 kilometers. Simultaneously, German Army strength declined from 3,138,000 to 2,528,000, a diminution of 610,000 men. When Operation Citadel opened, the Germans could deploy roughly 1,335 troops per kilometer of front; a week after Christmas that average had dropped by 28percent to only 957 soldiers per kilometer. In terms of combat strength this situation was far worse. Citadel had represented Hitler's final chance to stabilize-more or less permanently-the most economical front line he could achieve; the attack's failure led inevitably to progressively longer fronts that had to be defended with weaker and weaker forces. Yet to associate the beginning of the long, seemingly inexorable Soviet tide to Berlin with the battle of Kursk is not the same as proving that the battle itself was decisive. This appears, on balance, to be one of the points Zetterling and Frankson are attempting to make, and they are completely correct.
Any serious attempt to label Kursk-either in the limited 5-14 July sense that Zetterling and Frankson use or the larger 5 July-23 August context-as a decisive operation has to examine several key criteria:

1. The physical and moral effects of a failed German summer offensive;
2. The extent to which the short-term losses in Operation Citadel (whether or not they could be replaced in the long run) critically weakened the German capacity for resisting the Soviet counteroffensives directed at Orel and Kharkov;
3. The impact of losses in manpower, equipment, and territory to those Soviet counteroffensives and the retreat west of the Dnepr River;
4. The extent to which their losses reduced the qualitative edge of the German forces and decreased their capacity for operational concentrations; and
5. The consequences of maintaining an increased operational tempo across a lengthening front for six months.

When each of these considerations have been weighed and evaluated in their turn, then and only then will historians be able to supply a final answer to the question of whether or not Kursk represented a decisive battle. In the meantime there are literally tens of thousands of pages of German records from the period that deserve examination and analysis before a definitive portrait of the Wehrmacht's perspective on the battle can be presented. This book represents only a few tentative steps along that road.





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Postby Qvist » 05 Feb 2004 11:51

Well, in turn, I have some hopefully constructive comments to offer to the criticism :D

Before undertaking that task, it should also be noted that Zetterling and Frankson, when speaking of the battle of Kursk, refer only to operations between 5 and 17 July, which covers the period of the German offensive. Soviet writers, however, have long contended that both the Orel and Kharkov counteroffensives should be considered, along with the earlier defensive phase, as one long battle, running from 5 July to 23 August (the date of the Russian capture of Kharkov). Glantz and House, along with most modern military historians, have come to accept the broader view. As will become apparent below, the distinction involves more than the name of a battle.


Of course it does! - it is in fact the difference between two situations with fundamental differences in scope and nature. "The broader view" encompasses at least two major Soviet offensives in addition to the German offensive operations against the Kursk bulge, while Zetterling and Franksson investigates just the latter. I am a little surprised

It is correct that "the battle of Kursk" has been defined in many different ways, as is indeed discussed at some length by Z/F. Like every other work, they choose one specific definition - basically just the German offensive operations against the bulge. I do not see that there is anything invalid about that, just as there is nothing invalid about making an analysis on the basis of the broader definition. It just means that you are analysing different things. Nor do I see any contradiction between the two - indeed, the logical implication of Z/F's judgment on the impact of Kursk (as defined by them) is exactly to take a close look at the summer battles as a whole.


German casualties at Kursk, according to the authors, "were quite small" and "cannot be seen as decisive, at least not in the context of the struggle on the eastern front."


Obviously, this is by definition a less valid judgement if you are looking at Orel-Kursk-Kharkov 5 July - 25 August than it is if you are looking at Kursk 5-17 July. But the former is not what Z/F is doing.

Moreover, Zetterling and Frankson point out that the 89,480 replacements sent into the Soviet Union during July 1943 "were more than sufficient to cover the losses suffered during [Citadel]."This argument is somewhat misleading, for it assumes that all troops lost in combat and all replacements sent forward are equal, and such was not the case.


Well, strictly speaking, yes. But in the main it would be correct, as the losses during Zitadelle did not AFAIK deviate in structure from the normal pattern - overwhelmingly riflemen, and also because the figure of replacements is actually a good deal higher than losses. Also, Z/F does note specifically that replacements did NOT suffice to cover losses suffered elsewhere on the Eastern Front (including in the sectors Newton prefers to include in his analysis of the battle). In any case, the main point of the figure (which is not used in Z/F to draw any particularly wide-ranging conclusions) is that it puts the relatively limited scale of the losses suffered in Zitadelle in perspective.

To make matters worse, the authors often engage in somewhat circular logic in their analysis of the numbers.


Frankly I have some trouble seeing what is circular in the logic of the arguments Newton delas with in the following.

Consider the case of Model's Ninth Army. Zetterling and Frankson have this to say:

The German 9th Army suffered 22,273 casualties from 5 July to 11 July.... 9th Army's losses were most severe on the first day of the offensive and subsequently loss rates declined. Compared to the ration strength of the army at the beginning of the offensive, losses up to 9 July (inclusive) constituted about 5 per cent, while losses for the entire month constituted about 10 per cent of the ration strength at the beginning of the
month.

What is wrong with this analysis is that although Ninth Army's ration strength on 5 July was approximately 335,000, its combat strength (including troops held in army group reserve) was only 75,713. By 9 July the army's combat strength had declined to 55,931, a reduction of 19,782. Thus all but 2,491 of the 22,273 total casualties had occurred in the army's infantry, engineer, reconnaissance, and Feldersatz units. Thus even though the overall casualty rate of the army was just 6.6 percent, the casualty rate among the combat troops was a staggering 26.1 percent!


Well, here I think Newton's analysis gives considerable added value to that of Z/F. I am less sure if I would really call comparing casualties to ration strength "misleading", personally at least I have always taken it as understood that the overwhelming bulk of casualties occurred among combat troops. But this of course begs the question why Z/F then makes such a comparison rather than the one Newton is making (or alternatively, both). Nevertheless, Z/F's comparison is not "wrong", and nor do I see how it is circular.

For example, the 11 percent losses reported by the 4th Panzer Division represented only a single day of combat. Among the eleven divisions that had seen continuous fighting between 5 and 9 July, the average loss rate was a debilitating 45 percent in combat troops. Thus for Zetterling and Frankson to downplay Ninth Army's losses during 5-9 July by categorizing them as merely a fraction of the army's ration strength is to present a distorted picture of the conflagration Model's troops endured during their shortlived offensive.


There would appear to be some validity in this accusation.

The authors are equally, if unintentionally, misleading with regard to Ninth Army's losses for the remainder of July during the defensive battle for the Orel salient. They assert that Model's army, in losing another 13,362 troops between 12 and 31 July, suffered only another 5 percent loss against "the ration strength at the beginning of the month." As has already been demonstrated, measuring combat losses against ration strengths rather than combat strengths is a chancy proposition. Worse, however, is that the authors ignore the fact that at least half of the divisions assigned to Ninth Army on 1 July had, by the middle of the month, been transferred to Second Panzer Army. Thus to measure percentage losses for the end of the month against the ration strength at the outset is guaranteed to return a deflated figure.


Well, this is I think at most at matter of detail - Z/F is not concerned with the Orel battle as such, they are concerned with 9th Army, and the figure they provide here is little more than context for the Zitadelle losses. Also, it is in fact accurate. If the reader wants an accurate picture of the losses at Orel, he can in fact this in the book, which provides figures for 9th Army AND 2nd Panzer Army during the period. Also, mention is made of the transfer of forces to 2nd Panzer Army elsewhere.

A more accurate method of examining German losses on the northern face of the Kursk salient is to combine the casualties of Ninth and Second Panzer Armies for the entire month of July. When that is done, German losses come into better focus. For the month of July, Ninth Army lost 37,355 soldiers while Second Panzer Army took 45,928 casualties, for a grand total of 83,283. The chronological spread of these losses between the two armies, as illustrated in the table below, makes the point about the transfer of the main responsibility for the fighting between the two armies that occurred in mid-month:


The point is, accurate for what? If you are investigating Kursk and Orel as a single whole, this is of course feasible. If you are not, then obviously this is not an option. And even if you are, it might still be useful to differentiate between what losses 9th Army incurred in its offensive against Central Front and German losses in the defensive fighting against the Orel offensive. AFAICS, Newton's mode of comparison is neither more or less accurate than Z/F's, it simply deals with something different from them.

Although precise figures for Second Panzer Army are not available, a best-guess estimate for that army's 1 July combat strength would land in the neighborhood of 36,000.7 If losses among combat troops accounted for 75 percent of the total losses suffered (during Model's attack such losses equaled nearly 90 percent, but in defensive combat greater casualties befell support and service troops), then these would have amounted to about 62,400. That figure, compared to the estimate of 111,713 combat troops in both armies on 1 July, suggests that Ninth and Second Panzer Armies lost nearly 56 percent of their combat strength in a single month. Such loss ratios, whether the period under consideration is early July (Ninth Army alone) or the entire month (both armies), can hardly be characterized as "quite small." Similar calculations could be performed regarding the losses sustained by Fourth Panzer Army and Armeeabteilung Kempf.


The fatal flaw with this argument is that Z/F ARE NOT CHARACTERISING THEM AS QUITE SMALL! What they are characterising as quite small is the losses suffered during the German offensive against the Kursk bulge. It is one thing to prefer a different scope of investigation from Z/F, another to evaluate their conclusions as if they had employed the same one he is using. Since the data Z/F provide in fact shows that 9th Army and 2nd Panzer Army casualties combined constitutes by far the majority of losses on the EF in July, and are also the two largest monthly casualty figures for a single army on the EF in the period July-September, it does not appear likely that they would have drawn such a conclusion, if they had attempted to answer that question, which they do not, because it is outside the scope of their investigation.

Secondly, the evaluation of whether casualties are "small" or "large" in this context is not just a question of the drop in combat strength in the formations concerned. It is also a question of how large losses were here compared to losses elsewhere.


Specifically, the authors base their final statement on a comparison of the 30 June and 31 December AFV holdings on the Eastern Front. Recapitulated in the table below, "Specialty" tanks refers to all command and flamethrowing tanks; "Obsolete" tanks includes all Pzkw IIs, Ills, and IVs that were equipped with the L24 gun; "Modern" tanks consist of all late-model Pzkw IVs, Panthers, and Tigers; and "Assault Guns" incorporates all StG Ills, StuHs, and StuPz IVs.the outset of Operation Citadel. It strains credulity to the breaking point to assert that a 41 percent drop in operational armor strength left Hitler's army "better equipped with tanks at the end of the year than it had been before [Citadel]."


Well - it is of course a self-evident fact that the percentage of operational vehicles were much lower on 31 December 1943 than it was on 1 July 1943, since the former date followed 6 months of intensive operations and the latter followed three months of lull, and this is of course something to bear in mind - for my part, I have taken this as understood. The crux is of course how you count tank strength - vehicles at hand, or operational vehicles. Z/F prefers the first, Newton the second. There are arguments for both, but it is I think to overreach seriously to conclude as Newton does, as if the latter obviously were the only valid measure. Personally, I would on balance generally tend to prefer the former.

Zetterling and Frankson appear to have a much stronger argument with regard to Soviet armored losses. The authors note that:

On 1 July, the Red Army had a tank strength of 9,888 in the front armies and 2,688 in STAVKA reserves. Six months later the Red Army had less than half that number in [its] field units and STAVKA reserves. During those six months 11,890 tanks and assault guns had been produced. It must be emphasized that when a force suffers such extensive losses as the Red Army armoured forces did during the second half of 1943, production of tanks will not suffice to replace losses. There will also be delays before the new tanks are issued to combat units owing to the need for training new crews.

As has become evident when discussing German armor, operational readiness is critical to examining relative battlefield strength; unfortunately, the best authorities on Soviet tanks are vague concerning percentages of available versus operational AFVs. A poor best-guess estimate of Soviet operational readiness prior to the Battle of Kursk is that it approached 80 percent; German documents from the end of the year portray the Red Army in western Ukraine and Galicia as struggling to maintain a readiness rate of 40 percent. If, for the sake of argument, these figures are provisionally extended to encompass Russian armored strength across the front on both dates, then the following picture emerges:
Soviet tank losses during the period easily exceeded 15,000, and possibly approached 19,000, against German losses of only 3,841, a kill ratio in favor of the defenders of four- or five-to-one. From this purely numerical standpoint Zetterling and Frankson would appear to have made an unassailable case that the Soviets were losing the battle of armored attrition.
Zetterling and Frankson's figures for field forces and STAVKA reserves, however, do not take into account total Soviet AFV holdings. At the beginning of 1943, according to G. F. Krivosheev, the Red Army possessed 12,500 vehicles not in the hands of organizing units; by year's end his total had risen to 18,600 despite prodigious losses.',, The fact that the size of the Red Army's tank park could have increased by one-third during the same period that the number of AFVs available to the field forces declined by 55 percent suggests that-as Zetterling and Frankson argue-the true bottleneck lay in training new tank crews, not the supply of machines. This problem was obviously ironed out during the winter of 1943-1944, as Soviet tank availability, despite continued heavy losses, resumed a steady march upward early the next year.


The thing is, I can't recall Z/F actually arguing that the Soviets were losing the attrition battle. They note that production during the second half of 1943 was smaller than losses, which is true. Nowhere do they claim that Soviet tank strength at the front dropped, as far as I can recall. This being said, here too Newton's analysis offers added value to what is found in Z/F.

Any serious attempt to label Kursk-either in the limited 5-14 July sense that Zetterling and Frankson use or the larger 5 July-23 August context-as a decisive operation has to examine several key criteria:

1. The physical and moral effects of a failed German summer offensive;
2. The extent to which the short-term losses in Operation Citadel (whether or not they could be replaced in the long run) critically weakened the German capacity for resisting the Soviet counteroffensives directed at Orel and Kharkov;
3. The impact of losses in manpower, equipment, and territory to those Soviet counteroffensives and the retreat west of the Dnepr River;
4. The extent to which their losses reduced the qualitative edge of the German forces and decreased their capacity for operational concentrations; and
5. The consequences of maintaining an increased operational tempo across a lengthening front for six months.

When each of these considerations have been weighed and evaluated in their turn, then and only then will historians be able to supply a final answer to the question of whether or not Kursk represented a decisive battle. In the meantime there are literally tens of thousands of pages of German records from the period that deserve examination and analysis before a definitive portrait of the Wehrmacht's perspective on the battle can be presented. This book represents only a few tentative steps along that road.


Good points I think. However, points 1-4 are questions which again simply underscore the need to investigate the totality of the summer battles in order to provide a correct perspective for the whole 1943 campaign - including the battle of Kursk. This is also a conclusion suggested by Z/Fs findings, but it is not the purpose of Z/Fs book. Z/Fs conclusion is really quite limited in scope - basically that it is not possible to conclude that Zitadelle was decisive in itself. This is AFAICS a conclusion implicitly accepted by Newton in his basic approach itself - since he considers it neccessary to consider rather Zitadelle, Orel and Rumantsyev as a single whole.

On the whole:

- I think his critique of Z/F somewhat overreaches
- This analysis however offers significant added value to that of Z/F

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Postby Darrin » 05 Feb 2004 17:15

Oleg since it is obvious these are not your coments and tables where did you get them. I´m interested in knowing the reference he uses specifically for the tables.

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Postby Oleg Grigoryev » 05 Feb 2004 20:00

Darrin wrote:Oleg since it is obvious these are not your coments and tables where did you get them. I´m interested in knowing the reference he uses specifically for the tables.
what does it say before the big quote starts?

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Re: Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson..

Postby Darrin » 05 Feb 2004 20:59

oleg wrote:by Stven H Newton.

Unprecedented access to Soviet archival material has allowed David Glantz and Jonathan House to ---
his book represents only a few tentative steps along that road.





Once again oleg you seem to have bust a fuze ALL it says is the authers name. No sources were given anywhere for where you got this article or where the author got his info.... If you and he using ouje boadrs let the rest of us know.

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Postby Qvist » 05 Feb 2004 21:24

This is Steven H. Newton's recent publication "Kursk: The German view" (if I remember the title correctly). As for where Newton got his figures, I think we can all imagine, and it's not as if any of us are into the habits of including footnotes when we quote from books :D .

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Postby Darrin » 05 Feb 2004 23:43

Qvist wrote:This is Steven H. Newton's recent publication "Kursk: The German view" (if I remember the title correctly). As for where Newton got his figures, I think we can all imagine, and it's not as if any of us are into the habits of including footnotes when we quote from books :D .

cheers



No but the book itself would be nice instead of just the 'author´. I say author becasue at least according to the amazon info he just translated the book. If you are going to go around reprducing large parts of the book like this without givning it proper reference it could also be a copyright issue as well.

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Postby Darrin » 06 Feb 2004 19:22

Okay I´ll take my first crack. His critism is that glantz book which came out in 1999 was correct. That he thinks glantz is ccorrect over zetterling book which came out in 2000. Obviously glantz did not get to look at zetterlings book which came out 1 year after his. Zettrlings book from 2000 is actually edited by glantz himself he got to see the data after he had already published his book and he has high praise for zetterlings book in his fwd as series editor.

'...Z and F offer an imposing stats any of the battle of kursk. By exploiting all ger archival ref they offer a definative view of the ...'

It seems even glantz values thier anylysis greatly and may even have chanded his mind after seeing thier ger data esp...

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Postby Oleg Grigoryev » 06 Feb 2004 19:55

Darrin wrote:Okay I´ll take my first crack. His critism is that glantz book which came out in 1999 was correct. That he thinks glantz is ccorrect over zetterling book which came out in 2000. Obviously glantz did not get to look at zetterlings book which came out 1 year after his. Zettrlings book from 2000 is actually edited by glantz himself he got to see the data after he had already published his book and he has high praise for zetterlings book in his fwd as series editor.

'...Z and F offer an imposing stats any of the battle of kursk. By exploiting all ger archival ref they offer a definative view of the ...'

It seems even glantz values thier anylysis greatly and may even have chanded his mind after seeing thier ger data esp...
I am sorry where does he say that Glantz is correct over Z/F ? Especially considering the fact two books are delaing with subject from two differnt prespectives?

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Re: Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson..

Postby Darrin » 06 Feb 2004 21:03

I am not going to cover his req to use his defintion of the battle and various problems with his argument based on this. I am also not going to discuss te rep issue it seems Qvist has already dealt with both these already. And other argument I might be repating. ITs also important to rember the book is already 270 very dense pages long and the inclusion of every facet of even the much smaller battle is not always possible.

I suspect part of the big problem why they are using ration str which even they themselves say is not an indicator of combat str has more to do with a lack of rus data and even def. They say the exact def of the commonly used rus str is not known it proably is less than the ger def of ration str. To properly compare the two sides which they wish to do they can´t actually deviate too much or the anylss is comparing apples and oranges and means notheing. The ger def of combat str is quite often 3 times less then the ration str numbers meaning it would be too different to use.

Also the 6% 9th army ratio str losses compared to 26% combat str lossses is not exact a new idea. The ger and most other historian including Z noted almost 90% of losses occured in the infantry men. The ger army in the east in 43 was about 3 mil and suffered from about 1.6 mil tot cas wia, mia, kia. The avg ger soilder would last almost 2 years at this cas rate not too bad for combat. The problem is 90% of those losses happen in the inf and the size of the inf force on the front is really limíted to the number and size of inf bats. It might be there were 600,000 infantry men on the front which would give an avg turnover time of every 5 months.

The horror of the avg inf soilder in 43 was preety bad but it was not that diefferent for the 9th army at kursk from the avg cond for the army as a whole. Even going all the way back to 41 to a certain degree. The avg conditon of an army does not mean specifc divs were not more and less severly affected. But that was also a normal event in war that zetterling seems to understand.

It also seems specific armies although they might suffer high losses for short periods thier were always other armies that suffered less it is called the law of avg. For example during the first 10 day report in july the ger 9th army recieved the most cas but it could also recieve the bulk of the ger rep during this period to offset this. During the second ten days the second panzer army suffered from much higher number then the first 10 days but it still wasn´t much higher than the rest. During the last ten days the 2nd panzer arry was much higher then all the rest but even this decreased to more normal levels in aug.

The ger kia, wia and mia during july 43 amounted to almost 200,000 cas on the EF. Well it seems obvious the ger rep even if sent to the correct points could not replace every single cas since only 90,000 were sent. This would replace almost half of all losses overall or 100% at specifc points. Each ger div also had its own rep bat that did not count to its combat str but to ration str there were other sources of rep as well. These rep bat if 500 peole strong and in each of 150 div could ammout to 75,000 additional rep.

If you look at the loses of each ger army by 10 day increments from the first of jul to the end of sep. The second panzer army at the end of july was at the very extrem for cas and was not avg for even just the armies around kursk or the EF in general. Almost 35,000 cas happened in this period the next two closest were at just over 20,000. And one of these was the 9th army during july as well. There seems to be nothing or normal or avg about the example he has chosen.

----Added the following three sections to the origanal.

Its also apparent that althoguh he says the str he is discussing in the blurb is combat str its appaernt by looking AT the table below for the 4th army that his number are too low to be the ger defination of combat str. In fact the ger report of Gefechtstarke is usually defined in english as combat str and for examples of how this dif from ration str you can see p 38 in zetterlings book. Thier is a def even below that called kampfstake that zettterling describes in one of his books and I suspect his numbers may be even below that. He seeems to get his combat str definiton by adding up all the inf bat, rec bat, eng bat etc.... which zetterling does for 3 div on p39 to show how most cas were in these inf units. He uses zetterlings numbers for these three divs exactly but I don´t know where he got the rest immedialy. But this is not a def of combat str used by the ger army.

The number of personnal used in his 2nd panzer army is just an est maybe he could go look it up if he wants to be taken seriously and make sure it really is the ger def of combat str or some artifical constrct that he created.

Plus he is giving a one sided approach to the battle by just emp the ger loses which were entirly normal dring wartime and not discussing the rus side of the losses. The rus suffered from much higher losses in 43 before,at and after kursk then did the ger despite outnumbering the enemy in many cat. Yet he doesn´t take a single space here to desribe it. Over 4.5 times as many tot personal cas. If the 9th army at kursk was going through some sort of hell on earth what would these rus units have been doing having a picnic. From 1 jul to the end of sep the rus suffered from the HIGHEST tot cas recorded in a single qurter 3 month period. During the last 6 months as well the rus suffered from the highest tot loses compared to any other 6 month period of the war.



oleg wrote:by Stven H Newton.


The German 9th Army suffered 22,273 casualties from 5 July to 11 July.... 9th Army's losses were most severe on the first day of the offensive and subsequently loss rates declined. Compared to the ration strength of the army at the beginning of the offensive, losses up to 9 July (inclusive) constituted about 5 per cent, while losses for the entire month constituted about 10 per cent of the ration strength at the beginning of the
month.

What is wrong with this analysis is that although Ninth Army's ration strength on 5 July was approximately 335,000, its combat strength (including troops held in army group reserve) was only 75,713. By 9 July the army's combat strength had declined to 55,931, a reduction of 19,782. Thus all but 2,491 of the 22,273 total casualties had occurred in the army's infantry, engineer, reconnaissance, and Feldersatz units. Thus even though the overall casualty rate of the army was just 6.6 percent, the casualty rate among the combat troops was a staggering 26.1 percent! Even the most cursory glance at division-by-division combat strengths on 4 and 9 July reveals the extent to which some units had been gutted. ote that these figures are skewed by the fact that XX Corps, on Ninth Army's far left flank, had seen no fighting and that several divisions (notably 4th and 12th Panzer Divisions and 10th Panzergrenadier ivision) had been engaged after 5 July. For example, the 11 percent losses reported by the 4th Panzer Division represented only a single day of combat. Among the eleven divisions that had seen continuous fighting between 5 and 9 July, the average loss rate was a debilitating 45 percent in combat troops. Thus for Zetterling and Frankson to downplay Ninth Army's losses during 5-9 July by categorizing them as merely a fraction of the army's ration strength is to present a distorted picture of the conflagration Model's troops endured during their shortlived offensive.
The authors are equally, if unintentionally, misleading with regard to Ninth Army's losses for the remainder of July during the defensive battle for the Orel salient. They assert that Model's army, in losing another 13,362 troops between 12 and 31 July, suffered only another 5 percent loss against "the ration strength at the beginning of the month." As has already been demonstrated, measuring combat losses against ration strengths rather than combat strengths is a chancy proposition. Worse, however, is that the authors ignore the fact that at least half of the divisions assigned to Ninth Army on 1 July had, by the middle of the month, been transferred to Second Panzer Army. Thus to measure percentage losses for the end of the month against the ration strength at the outset is guaranteed to return a deflated figure.
A more accurate method of examining German losses on the northern face of the Kursk salient is to combine the casualties of Ninth and Second Panzer Armies for the entire month of July. When that is done, German losses come into better focus. For the month of July, Ninth Army lost 37,355 soldiers while Second Panzer Army took 45,928 casualties, for a grand total of 83,283. The chronological spread of these losses between the two armies, as illustrated in the table below, makes the point about the transfer of the main responsibility for the fighting between the two armies that occurred in mid-month:
The two armies on 1 July had an estimated combined ration strength of 495,000 men, which would return a figure of 16.8 percent losses. Yet,as demonstrated above, losses against combat strength were several orders of magnitude above losses against ration strength. Although precise figures for Second Panzer Army are not available, a best-guess estimate for that army's 1 July combat strength would land in the neighborhood of 36,000.7 If losses among combat troops accounted for 75 percent of the total losses suffered (during Model's attack such losses equaled nearly 90 percent, but in defensive combat greater casualties befell support and service troops), then these would have amounted to about 62,400. That figure, compared to the estimate of 111,713 combat troops in both armies on 1 July, suggests that Ninth and Second Panzer Armies lost nearly 56 percent of their combat strength in a single month. Such loss ratios, whether the period under consideration is early July (Ninth Army alone) or the entire month (both armies), can hardly be characterized as "quite small." Similar calculations could be performed regarding the losses sustained by Fourth Panzer Army and Armeeabteilung Kempf.
Last edited by Darrin on 07 Feb 2004 13:46, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Darrin » 06 Feb 2004 21:41

oleg wrote:
Darrin wrote:Okay I´ll take my first crack. His critism is that glantz book which came out in 1999 was correct. That he thinks glantz is ccorrect over zetterling book which came out in 2000. Obviously glantz did not get to look at zetterlings book which came out 1 year after his. Zettrlings book from 2000 is actually edited by glantz himself he got to see the data after he had already published his book and he has high praise for zetterlings book in his fwd as series editor.

'...Z and F offer an imposing stats any of the battle of kursk. By exploiting all ger archival ref they offer a definative view of the ...'

It seems even glantz values thier anylysis greatly and may even have chanded his mind after seeing thier ger data esp...
I am sorry where does he say that Glantz is correct over Z/F ? Especially considering the fact two books are delaing with subject from two differnt prespectives?



Well oleg maybe you can actually confirm which book this came from. Before I bother responding to your quetion....

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Postby Darrin » 07 Feb 2004 11:59

Qvist wrote:
The thing is, I can't recall Z/F actually arguing that the Soviets were losing the attrition battle. They note that production during the second half of 1943 was smaller than losses, which is true. Nowhere do they claim that Soviet tank strength at the front dropped, as far as I can recall. This being said, here too Newton's analysis offers added value to what is found in Z/F.



Well even kirosheev notes in his tables and books that the red army had 5,800 tanks of all types and states of reprair in the first of jan of 44. This was a drop from his beging of the year figures in his own book at a drop from the even higher mid 43 numbers in zetterlings book. While there is no claim that there was real attrition since the numbers made during the whole year equalled loses during the whole year. The idea that the rus couldn't sustain these lose rates for too much longer. By 44 of course things do change drastically.

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Re: Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson..

Postby Darrin » 07 Feb 2004 13:31

Well maybe before you start throwing mud he should make sure the numbers he uses are believable. Zetterling numbers of tanks etc... on the EF was 3524 which is realtivly close to the second table at the bottom. But the number of tanks in his first table is 2122 a diff of over 1000 tanks or 50%. Its not just that his numbers do not correspond with Z but that his own two numbers for the exact same thing are so far apart. Its really difficult to assume the rest of his numbers are accurate as well but I will assume they are.

As qvist said the ger had 3 month lull to prepare all thir forces which was very unusall since 41. The op red was únusally high because of this before this in might have avg somewhere over 60% for all AFVs. Also the op red after this extermly unusual period did go back up to more normal levels.

If you want to whine about the ger op rediness then go find some documents that contain accurte str counts and compare it aginst accurte rus numbers as well. I´m sure it was better than the ger but tanks lost to repair come back to keep the numbers up but tanks des do not. Since the ger des maybe 4.5 rus tanks for every one of thiers that was des. This continued even when the ger op rediness numbers suposedly dropped below 50%.

Acoording to some data I say about 80% of ger tanks lost were repaired. Were as proably less than half the rus tanks lost were repaired.

des rep total lose

rus 18000 18000 36000

ger 4000 16000 20000


The ger only lost maybe 4000 des which has a much better number than the rus but even at this time the rus repair numbers were just closer even if the op % was higher. This still left a big difference in total loses esp because real perm losses ie des was so much higher. Of course I suspect the ger repair might be slower than the rus one but don´t really have any data to confirm this.

They said the ger at the end of the year had higher numbers. That the op numbers droped is self evident and it dídn´t have a major efffect on the actual ger to rus des ratio. Which maybe because the ger had better tanks at the end of the year but fewer of the op. But also because even the rus op numbers dropped according to this author to perhaps 40% by the end of the year.

He seems to state that this was a low point for the rus army after a 6 month long campaign. That they started to recive more replacment tanks in early 44. The same thing was true of the ger they had already improved thier tanks in by late 43 but had to to improve thier bad op rediness as well. Well most authors totally missed this low point of the rus arm including glantz and its very important. If you fell the entire kursk battle should be discussed then zetterling should be free to point out what happened afterwards as well.

Also his idea that the ger had been forced to produce exclusivly tigers and assult guns is preposturous. Over half of all tanks made from 43-45 were panzer IVs and panther which were still capable of offensive if ger ever got the chance. In fact thier was a marked increase in the tot numbers of these types of tanks produced during the war.


oleg wrote:by Stven H Newton.

The argument with respect to tank losses presented by Zetterling and Frankson is equally unsound. The authors suggest that German AFV losses during Operation Citadel, which they calculate at roughly 300, "were not extraordinarily high ... nor were they impossible to replace." Citing statistics on tank production, shipments of armor to the armies, and the total number of AFVs on the Eastern Front at the end of December 1943, they conclude:

It could of course be inferred ... that a trend was reversed by [Citadel] and certainly there is some truth to this. However, what is remarkable in the figure is the long period of build-up before [Citadel]. Also it must not be forgotten that the quality of the tanks on the eastern front steadily rose, which is indicated by the growth in the number of Tigers, Panthers, and later-model Panzer IV.... Thus it can be argued that the Ostheer was better equipped with tanks at the end of the year than it had been before [Citadel].

Specifically, the authors base their final statement on a comparison of the 30 June and 31 December AFV holdings on the Eastern Front. Recapitulated in the table below, "Specialty" tanks refers to all command and flamethrowing tanks; "Obsolete" tanks includes all Pzkw IIs, Ills, and IVs that were equipped with the L24 gun; "Modern" tanks consist of all late-model Pzkw IVs, Panthers, and Tigers; and "Assault Guns" incorporates all StG Ills, StuHs, and StuPz IVs.the outset of Operation Citadel. It strains credulity to the breaking point to assert that a 41 percent drop in operational armor strength left Hitler's army "better equipped with tanks at the end of the year than it had been before [Citadel]."

Zetterling and Frankson appear to have a much stronger argument with regard to Soviet armored losses. The authors note that:

On 1 July, the Red Army had a tank strength of 9,888 in the front armies and 2,688 in STAVKA reserves. Six months later the Red Army had less than half that number in [its] field units and STAVKA reserves. During those six months 11,890 tanks and assault guns had been produced. It must be emphasized that when a force suffers such extensive losses as the Red Army armoured forces did during the second half of 1943, production of tanks will not suffice to replace losses. There will also be delays before the new tanks are issued to combat units owing to the need for training new crews.

As has become evident when discussing German armor, operational readiness is critical to examining relative battlefield strength; unfortunately, the best authorities on Soviet tanks are vague concerning percentages of available versus operational AFVs. A poor best-guess estimate of Soviet operational readiness prior to the Battle of Kursk is that it approached 80 percent; German documents from the end of the year portray the Red Army in western Ukraine and Galicia as struggling to maintain a readiness rate of 40 percent. If, for the sake of argument, these figures are provisionally extended to encompass Russian armored strength across the front on both dates, then the following picture emerges:

Soviet tank losses during the period easily exceeded 15,000, and possibly approached 19,000, against German losses of only 3,841, a kill ratio in favor of the defenders of four- or five-to-one. From this purely numerical standpoint Zetterling and Frankson would appear to have made an unassailable case that the Soviets were losing the battle of armored attrition.

Zetterling and Frankson's figures for field forces and STAVKA reserves, however, do not take into account total Soviet AFV holdings. At the beginning of 1943, according to G. F. Krivosheev, the Red Army possessed 12,500 vehicles not in the hands of organizing units; by year's end his total had risen to 18,600 despite prodigious losses.',, The fact that the size of the Red Army's tank park could have increased by one-third during the same period that the number of AFVs available to the field forces declined by 55 percent suggests that-as Zetterling and Frankson argue-the true bottleneck lay in training new tank crews, not the supply of machines. This problem was obviously ironed out during the winter of 1943-1944, as Soviet tank availability, despite continued heavy losses, resumed a steady march upward early the next year.

What Zetterling and Frankson have actually documented is the extreme low point hit by the tank strength of the Soviet field forces at the end of successive offensives between July and December 1943, just prior to large waves of replacements arriving at the front. Moreover, Soviet armored losses must be weighed against what the Red Army had gained, especially in the south. German troops had been pushed almost completely out of Ukraine, the Wehrmacht had sustained irreplaceable casualties in trained manpower, and the Third Reich had been forced to concentrate heavily on producing AFVs (Tigers and assault guns) suited to the tactical defensive rather than the sweeping mobile operations of 1941-1942. This continuous if costly sweep to the west had begun at Kursk.
The final argument made by the two authors is that "using documents on monthly casualties on the eastern front it is possible to draw up a graph on the accumulated personnel losses ... [that] shows a steady increase in accumulated German casualties without any distinctive or sudden rises in losses. In fact, this graph displays a rather even attrition which may gradually have worn the German forces down." In other words, Zetterling and Frankson contend that, for Kursk to be considered decisive, some sort of spike should appear in the data during the six months following the battle, indicating a dramatic diminution of German strength; otherwise, Operation Citadel becomes merely one more nudge in the downward spiral of German strength.


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Postby Michael Kenny » 07 Feb 2004 21:56

Quote:

"Well maybe before you start throwing mud he should make sure the numbers he uses are believable"

physician heal thyself..........

Quote:
"Also his idea that the ger had been forced to produce exclusivly tigers and assult guns is preposturous. Over half of all tanks made from 43-45 were panzer IVs and panther"

Now lets see over half the German tanks made 1943-45 were PzIV's and Pz V's..............hmm, what types of tank were the other 'half'?
As 12000+ IV's/V's were made 43-45 there seems to be a previously unknown(except to Darrin) type of German tank in service-12000 of them no less!

Note as well the original quote of:

"Third Reich had been forced to CONCENTRATE heavily on producing AFVs (Tigers and assault guns) suited to the tactical defensive"

has been mangled and distorted to:

"Also his idea that the ger had been forced to produce EXCLUSIVLY (sic) tigers and assult guns is preposturous"

so that Darrin can rubbish it, now that is preposterous!


I would also be interested in the source of:

"Acoording to some data I say about 80% of ger tanks lost were repaired"

and:

"des rep total lose

rus 18000 18000 36000

ger 4000 16000 20000"

Give me 'some of them funny little numbers' you seem to hold in such esteem and back your claim.

Also post figures for assault gun production to show that the Germans did not 'concentrate heavily' on these types post 1943. Show how tank/sp production tables refutes this claim.........you do know the figures don't you? Of course you do, you have said the original claim was wrong you MUST have evidence or you wouldn't have stuck your neck out!

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Re: Some constructive criticism of Zetterling and Frankson..

Postby Darrin » 08 Feb 2004 12:57

oleg wrote:by Stven H Newton.

Again the authors have focused exclusively on numbers at the expense of other considerations, in this case the length of the front. Prior to Operation Citadel the Russo-German front (excluding Finland and the Crimea) had temporarily solidified into one of the shorter lines held by the Wehrmacht during the course of the war: roughly 2,350 kilometers. By year's end that front had stretched to more than 2,640 kilometers, with minor shortenings of the northern and central sectors more than offset by the expansion of Army Group South's front line from 700 to 1,450 kilometers. Simultaneously, German Army strength declined from 3,138,000 to 2,528,000, a diminution of 610,000 men. When Operation Citadel opened, the Germans could deploy roughly 1,335 troops per kilometer of front; a week after Christmas that average had dropped by 28percent to only 957 soldiers per kilometer.

In terms of combat strength this situation was far worse. Citadel had represented Hitler's final chance to stabilize-more or less permanently-the most economical front line he could achieve; the attack's failure led inevitably to progressively longer fronts that had to be defended with weaker and weaker forces. Yet to associate the beginning of the long, seemingly inexorable Soviet tide to Berlin with the battle of Kursk is not the same as proving that the battle itself was decisive. This appears, on balance, to be one of the points Zetterling and Frankson are attempting to make, and they are completely correct.

Any serious attempt to label Kursk-either in the limited 5-14 July sense that Zetterling and Frankson use or the larger 5 July-23 August context-as a decisive operation has to examine several key criteria:

1. The physical and moral effects of a failed German summer offensive;
2. The extent to which the short-term losses in Operation Citadel (whether or not they could be replaced in the long run) critically weakened the German capacity for resisting the Soviet counteroffensives directed at Orel and Kharkov;




The decline in the ger str from the middle of 43 to almost 2.5 mil by year end was nothing new for the ger army. The ger army in 41 had been as big as 43 but in 42 and late 43/44 the size was about the same. In 41 and 43 the ger army had few other troops on the front line to help it in 42 and again in 44 the ger army had larger numbers of minors in the south. Despite having an army of 2.6 mil in 43 the ger had been able to att sucesfully even though they had a long front as well. In 42 the str of the rus army in the middle of the year was also not much different than it was latter in the war as well. Obvious there were other changes than just numbers and front str at work but just because the ger numbers droped by 15% and the front lengthend by 15% overall is not that sig or new in itself.

If the ger wanted to reduce the front str back to the normal levels they could have pulled back in the north as well. In fact if they abandoned most of the AGN area and fwd parts of AGC by late 43 or early 44. The ger then could sig reduce not just thier front length but also thier supply lines and get most of these out of part terr. With a reduction in front length the smaller ger force might actually have ended up with the same or higher density of troops. It certainly was NOT the last time for the ger to have the most economical line in the east. In fact in 45 the ger were defending a much smaller line just covering ger itself supposedly with as many men at the start of 45 as they had in 42. Of course again things besides front length and density of troops were more important here as well.

One of the key diff from mid 43 to the end of the year and going into 44 was that hitler had changed his emphasis from the east to the west. In NOV 43 he issued one of his famous decrees that with the allies inv becomeing ever more likly there would be no str of the east at the expense of the west. And that terr in the east could and should be given up from this period on. Most of the rus terr ger held in mid 43 was not that important to them.

Also I don´t think the ger could PERMENTLY hold a line with so few troops even before citdal. Since so many more rus troops were arrayed agaisnt them and they were so far to home. Not to mention the western allied forces invading Italy france and bombing germany. Anybody who thinks this certainly must be quetioned and if they did then the ger could still get the same force density by pulling back in the north and shortening the front. So this wasn´t the LAST chance as he says.

1. Z did dicsuss much of the ger and rus pysical loses. The ger moral could not be so badly affected since after kursk for 6 months they contined to inflict unusually large cas on the rus.

2 The short term losses may of prevented a god def of the orel salient. But The oreal sal was long and thin without eliminating the kursk bulge it was undef and had to be abn. Even during this rus att the cas they sufferedd in total tank des in july were already 3000. The one minor victory was the he extrmly high and VERY unusual cas inflicted on 2nd panzer army during the last 10 days of juy.

The second panzer army during this period suffered from 35,000 cas during this ten day period when the entire EF during the month of july suffered from 200,000. On avg this would be 65,000 every ten days of which half happened in this one army. Considering this was THE one area they conc on at this time this is not that bad . No army can take this many loses in such a short time and still function normally afterword. The ration str of this army according to the art is 160,000 meaning even 35,000 is just 20%. However many div were transfered here after the rus att started meaning the actual effect would be less than 20. After this attention shifted to the south for the rest of the year. The losses of the 2nd pz army during this horific 10 day period was just 2% of the loses for the year. A ten day period is around 3 % of a year.

The karkov off happened latter giving time for reinforcments to come in. This was also were most of the panzer divs were after the ger attempt to take kursk. The ger losses were lighter and the area more def even without the kursk bulge eliminated.
Last edited by Darrin on 08 Feb 2004 13:50, edited 2 times in total.


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