- Posts: 1432
- Joined: 02 Feb 2004 10:50
- Location: Germany
in 1943 the FHO strength comparisons give only German army personnel strength (Istsaerke), but not that of the Allied. From spring 1944 however they do (which is explicitly mentioned) with two separate figures, one for Germans, and one for Allies.
Not too big a problem IMHO, because for the mentioned one, because in autumn 1943 the number of Allies was rather small compared with earlier or later periods.
One word to the linked article, which I enjoyed as much as possible when having to rely on online translation services (translate.ru). From what I was able to figure out it seems very good.
However after some repeated thinking about the problem I am convinced that the first table in the text is based on a document providing the detailed strength of Germans and their Allies in all categories dates from the end of 1944 rather than from the end of 1943, and that the editors of the OKW war diary (KTB OK), Volume for 1943, from which the author of this article probably has taken the document (at least it is included there), made a mistake to label it as of giving strength for 1943. Please note no date or Pruefnummer is provided in the OKW war diary. The strengths are to much different from other strengths given for 1943, but very close to these for 1944, and the sequence of listing the army groups is also that of how they were labelled in 1944 but not 1943. The article itself seems unsure how to make it fit with the other data.
I have however to admit several noted authors (e.g. K.-H. Frieser) used it to establish strength in 1943 and that others on this forum, whith whom I discussed this idea remained sceptical to it.
- Posts: 168
- Joined: 16 Feb 2004 06:17
- Location: Washington, DC, USA
BY NUMBERS OR BY SKILL
By Igor Kurtukov
October 20th, 2007
To defeat an enemy with skill and not numbers has always been considered an honorable thing. On the other hand, there is less shame in being beaten by a numerically superior enemy. So it is entirely natural that generals and historians try to count more of the enemy and less of their own forces. Nevertheless, generals must deal with reality. The chart below one can see the results of German staff work comparing the opposing ground forces on the Eastern Front in October 1943. Strangely enough, there is no real exaggeration of the Soviet forces in the document. In fact, there were around 440 rifle divisions at the front (the Germans counted 450), and around 130 tank, mechanized, and motorized rifle brigades (the Germans counted 145). More or less correct is the size of the active army – all totaled it was around 6.5 million, but if you subtract the Karelian Front, the Navy, the Air Force (VVS), and rear service units, you get close to the German estimate. The number of tanks is also close.
[Picture of German chart]
Historians do not have to deal with reality; no matter how the figures are manipulated they will have no effect on the results of battles long-ago. Historians can cheat a little. For example, they can compare the number of divisions, not counting their size, and say that the Red Army fielded 500 divisions versus 150 German ones, an approach which is often used in Western historiography. But it can also be done differently. How this is done we’ll see in an example which compares the strength of the opposing sides on the Eastern Front at the beginning of 1944 in Soviet books. The following data is good in that it shows the German strength reports broken down by army group.
H.Gr./Front/Feld Ers. Btle./SS/LW/Feld Ausb. Div./Ins gesamt/Verbündete/fremdländ. Verbände/Gesamt
The total amount is broken down by categories: line units (including Luftwaffe field divisions), reserve battalions (Feld Ersatz Btle.), SS troops (not counting volunteer units), the Luftwaffe (except for field divisions), training divisions (Feld Ausb. Div.), the total for German units, allied units (Verbundete - Romanians, Bulgarians, Slovakians), and foreign units of the Wehrmacht (fremdlandische Verbande, including volunteer units of the SS). The table does not give the overall size of the German Army on the Eastern Front. It does not include German units in the Arctic and Finland or units subordinated to OKH. The total number of troops in the East on 1 January 1944 can be determined from another source (a report of the German General Staff dated 15 April 1944 on changes in the size of the ground forces) as 2,538,000 men, including SS troops and Luftwaffe field divisions but not including allies. Besides this, in the table there is a small mix-up in the entries of Army Groups A and South (in particular the SS troops), but the totals for South and A are correct, something which will interest us later.
THE RED ARMY
What balance of force ratios are given in Soviet histories of the Great Patriotic War? In the six-volume History of the Second World War the following chart gives the size of the Red Army and the Navy as of 1 January 1944 (vol. 4, page 20):
Active Fronts and Fleets/Stavka Reserves/Total
VVS and Bomber Aviation/331,000/77,000/408,000
The “Order of Battle and Numerical Composition of the Soviet Army” (OOB - Boevoy i chislennyi sostav sovetskoi armii) has different numbers which put the overall size of the active army at 6,390,046, STAVKA Reserves at 533,000, and the total, including inactive units, at 11,010,237. In the 12-volume History of the Second World War (vol. 8, p. 45) the size of the active army is given as 6,354,000. The latest data from the work "The Great Patriotic War: the Active Army" (GPWAA), part of the 30-volume series "Military History of the Russian State" give two numbers – on page 568 it quotes OOB, and on page 564 is quotes data from the "Strategic Study of the Great Patriotic War" (Strategic Study) which uses data from the 6-volume history.
HOW MANY ENEMIES?
How many enemies faced the Red Army in the beginning of 1944? According to the 6-volume and the 12-volume official histories, 4,906,000 men. The GPWAA, relying on the Strategic Study, is a bit more humble – 4,834,000. How accurate is this? Practically not at all. As we saw above, the overall size of the German ground forces on the Eastern Front was a bit more than 2.5 million. Besides this were 137 thousand troops from the “southern” allies, and the Finns had around 300 thousand. All totaled, less than 3 million. This does not include the Luftwaffe and fleet, or course, but according to their size on 1 December 1943, the total size of the Luftwaffe was 1,501,399 in uniform, and the Kriegsmarine 558,924. But were they all on the Eastern Front? Of course not. A large part of Goering’s 'fledglings' were assigned to the air defense of the Reich as anti-aircraft crew. Where the majority of Donetz’s 'wolves' fought is also clear. If you consider that on 22 June 1941, with a large number of aircraft the eastern Air Fleets, the Luftwaffe had around 650,000 men and the Kriegsmarine around 100,000, then we will not be greatly mistaken if we assume that on 1 January 1944 the total number of men from these services on the Eastern Front was around 600,000, and the total size of the enemy’s forces was around 3.6 million.
COMPARISON BY SPECIFIC STRATEGIC AXES
The force balance on specific strategic sectors is also interesting. Here it is as presented in the 12-volume history (vol. 8, pp. 66, 120, 134):
Sector of the Front/Soviet forces/Enemy/Enemy (German data)
AGs A and South (except Crimea)/2,230,000/1,760,000/792,389*
* Including 165,000 in the Crimea
** Includes only ground forces
The last column gives only ground force personnel. To get an accurate picture one should add German Luftwaffe personnel (approximately 500,000), but in only two sectors because the Soviet side presents only ground forces in the AG Center sector. One more interesting note: from the 5.8-6.0 million strength of the active army (not counting the fleet), on the front from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea we count only 5 million. Did the Crimea and Finland, where there was only defensive activity, really have almost one million soldiers? One can suppose that AGs North, Center, South, and A also counted only ground forces, although this is not stated directly.
AN EXAMPLE OF EVOLUTION
It is possible to follow how the balance of strength is presented in Russian history by taking the southern sector as an example. In 1958 the Military-Scientific Directorate of the General Staff published the volume 3 of "Operations of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Great Patriotic War" (OSAF). It shows the strength of the Red Army before the beginning of the Dnepr-Carpathian strategic offensive operation (pp. 100-101). The four Ukrainian Fronts (excluding the 51st Army and 19th Tank Corps which were blockading the Crimea) numbered 2,171,149 men, of which 1,412,517 were in combat units. This does not count the VVS and national air defense (PVO) units. PVO units in the 3rd and 4th Ukrainian Fronts numbered 36,045 men; only God knows how many were in the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts. On page102 the balance of forces is given as 2,171,149 Red Army soldiers versus 1,250,000 soldiers of the Wehrmacht and its allies.
In the 12-volume history Soviet strength is 60,000 men higher and probably includes PVO forces but obviously not the VVS since those should be around 150,000. The number of enemy has magically increased by 500,000 to 1,760,000.
The next interesting step is taken by the authors of GPWAA. On pages 605-609 the strength of just the fronts comes from another source, OOB #8, and one of the fronts comes out ‘fatter’ than in OSAF, while others are ‘thinner.’ Altogether the four fronts have 1,466,458 men, 54,000 more than in OSAF, and non-combat units are not counted at all. The resulting balance of forces is given on page 610 as 1,466,548 Soviet soldiers and 1,800,000 enemy soldiers (obviously a rounding of 1,760,000 enemy soldiers). So the strength of only Red Army ground combat units is compared with a number for the Wehrmacht and its allies, from God knows where, and on page 102 of OSAF a completely different figure is provided. As a result the actual Red Army’s 2:1 superiority is presented as German superiority of 1.2:1. Bravo, Russian historians! The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the numbers for the strength of the enemy in Soviet and Russian official histories should be divided by 1.3 to 1.4.
Some explanation: the strength of the Wehrmacht in the table is the so-called Iststarke (actual strength), i.e. personnel in units including those who are on short-term leave and those sick and wounded who will return to the units within eight weeks. Besides Iststarke one can find reports of Tagesstarke, roughly speaking those who are present at the morning inspection or Iststarke minus people on leave and the sick and wounded. Besides those two terms, unit strength was also reported as ration strength (Verpflegungsstarke), which is the entire number of persons to be fed. Besides servicemen in the units, the ration strength includes any auxiliary personnel, specifically Hiwis. And finally there were two types of “combat” reports, somewhat comparable to the Russian term “active bayonets.” The first type (Gefechtstarke) counted servicemen in combat units (infantry, cavalry, tanks, artillery, anti-tank artillery, combat engineers, and field replacement units), excluding their rear service personnel; the second type (Kampfstarke) included only riflemen.
If Iststarke is used, not Verpflegungsstarke, one can be sure that Hiwis are not being counted. But how many such voluntary assistants were there? Drobyazko (Under the Enemy’s Flag, 2005) gives the total number of Hiwis as of 1 December 1943 as 244,700 persons in the ground forces (including 170,000 former POWs) and 17,600 in the Luftwaffe (including 7,600 former POWs).
Foreign units in the Wehrmacht (fremdlandische Verbande) are not related at all to Hiwis. They included, for example, the Spanish “Blue” Division, Croatian, French, and other units consisting of foreigners but formally included in the Wehrmacht and in particular having divisional or regimental numbers as part of the German ground forces. This includes the SS divisions and brigades Wallonia, Nederland, etc.
The reporting practice in the Soviet Army includes the total number of servicemen present. The personnel of other agencies being provided for by the Ministry of Defense are absent from these figures. Besides this, in the Red Army the majority of wounded were evacuated to the rear and removed from a unit’s roster, while in the Wehrmacht some of the wounded were counted in Iststarke. On the other hand, a number of jobs done by Hiwis were done by soldiers in the Soviet Army.
Therefore, the differences in the systems of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht are not 100 percent comparable, but nevertheless they can be considered sufficiently comparable.
- Posts: 7836
- Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
- Location: Europe
- Posts: 168
- Joined: 16 Feb 2004 06:17
- Location: Washington, DC, USA
I wonder, is the author's description of Kampfstarke correct? He uses the term 'strelok' which literally means one who shoots or rifleman, but it might in this case be used in the broader meaning of simply 'combat soldier.' Perhaps Art can clarify.
And I think his point about Hiwis is interesting: while some people would ignore counting Hiwis since they did not usually have a combat role, in the Red Army such jobs were filled by regular soldiers who WERE included in the Soviet numbers.And finally there were two types of combat reports, somewhat comparable to the Russian term “active bayonets.” The first type (Gefechtstarke) counted servicemen in combat units (infantry, cavalry, tanks, artillery, anti-tank artillery, combat engineers, and field replacement units), excluding their rear service personnel; the second type (Kampfstarke) included only riflemen.
- Posts: 7836
- Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
- Location: Europe
No, on that point he is wrong. Kampfstärke includes all combat soldiers actually deployed in the front line, or manning weapons directly supporting them.I wonder, is the author's description of Kampfstarke correct? He uses the term 'strelok' which literally means one who shoots or rifleman, but it might in this case be used in the broader meaning of simply 'combat soldier.
I certainly would always include Hiwis, if I had data for them. That they didn't have a combat role is neither here nor there with regard to a general strength comparison; nor did many of the German or Soviet soldiers included. Then again, I would not overdramatise the problem if I didn't have data for them. The Iststärke includes a number of sick, wounded and otherwise absent soldiers who generally were probably no fewer in number than the Hiwis present. And the Soviet figures don't include men who did not technically belong to the armed forces, and so on and so on. Point is, Hiwis are just one among many groups of personnell on both sides that are problematical in this regard and as the author rightly points out, the figures are close enough for meaningful comparison.And I think his point about Hiwis is interesting: while some people would ignore counting Hiwis since they did not usually have a combat role, in the Red Army such jobs were filled by regular soldiers who WERE included in the Soviet numbers.
- Posts: 7836
- Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
- Location: Europe
I would agree that one should be careful to just compare divisions, but the fact is that the data he quotes himself shows that what would be most wrong in this case would be to compare divisions on teh basis of their nominal size. While Red Army divisions were considerably smaller than their German counterpart, this was not the case with their combat strength, and especially not their infantry strength. The difference was rather in various support and non-combat elements and in integral artillery. That however does not appear to have been caused by Red Army formations being supported by fewer such assets, but essentially by a different organisational philsophy in which these assets were to a much larger extent concentrated outside the divisional framework, at the Corps and Army levels. The point is that If you calculate the divisional slices for the two sides from the data he quotes, they are very similar - in both cases around 15,000 men. The overall Soviet manpower advantage is essentially similar to to its advantage in the number of divisions. This shows that on the whole, it would in fact be a perfectly justifiable assumption that a similar number of divisions on each side represented a roughly similar number of men.Historians can cheat a little. For example, they can compare the number of divisions, not counting their size, and say that the Red Army fielded 500 divisions versus 150 German ones, an approach which is often used in Western historiography.
- Posts: 304
- Joined: 17 Apr 2008 21:49
- Location: Darwin, Australia.
The Red Army suffered in 1941. It took a severe beating from which it's training standards did not quite recover. The reason for this severe beating was a lack of competent STAFF WORK by the more senoir officers of the Red Army. The Purges are as responsible for this state of affairs as are the Germans, but it remained that small groups of well directed Axis forces achieved results all out of proportion to their size. With Radios frequently issued at squad level, and the Red Army relying on telephone lines for communication, it's not to be wondered at that large encirclements were the result. The lack of Staff Work I mentioned before made extraction from these encirclements all the more difficult; it is acknowledged that a fighting retreat is the most difficult divisional level type of operation to pull off correctly. The appearence of better Staff generals meant that operational planning by the Red Army got better and better. No longer were generals like Budenny allowed to "lead from the front" in the grand old style. In fact, in Zhukhov's account of the battle for Moscow, this is exactly the situation he finds when he visits Budenny, who is out of contact with his own command headquarters.
Zhukhov further makes the claim that for the Battle for Moscow, not one soviet division was surrounded, and RedArmy divisions went from prepared position to prepared position, and further claims that the German Army did not get within artillery range of Moscow. Zhukhov is "caustic" in his condemnation of German claims that mud and poor weather condidtions brought operation "Typhoon" to a halt....So, it really does depend on who you believe for that one. I will say one thing, though, muddy conditions of the "rasputista" would certainly have affected Soviet movements as much as German movements.
The tactical training of Soviet troops is hard to fault, simple as it was. With the scale of their losses, it is difficult to see just how else they could have rebuilt their infantry, saving much time by keeping training as simple and direct as possible to keep the number of troops flowing to the front. They did learn, however, and by operation "Blue" the German commanders were noting that Soviet forces would simply fall back, rather than stand in position and be encircled.
As far as "Lend Lease: is concerned, I prefer to look at the number of TRANSPORT vehicles supplied to the Soviets, that allowed production of AFVs on a larger scale than if the Soviets had to produce it all themselves.Soviet AFV production also benefitted by concentration on a few basic types, with development restricted to these production types, rather than trying to "re-invent the wheel". German tank production has often been criticised for too many differing production types, rather than this concentration the Soviets had set their furture on. Too, tank tactics were more the result in the early war period of a severe lack of radio equipment, which meant one in every six tanks was their platoon leader with the communications equipment, while the rest simply followed the leader. It would be interesting to see just how many radio sets were actually supplied by the Allies to alleviate this shortage, before Russian production moved to fill their own gaps.
The Soviets sacrificed production of many consumer civilian items in the name of their war effort, something the Reich was just not politically able to do in their opinion until later in the conflict. Yet another factor to be condsidered is the sheer scale of fighting on the Eastern front, which dwarfed the earlier campaign in France. German veterans were demoralised by the size of the country they were attempting to swallow. When the countryside is so flat and vast that it seems to go on forever, it must have been disheartening to say the least, especially when you are fighting an enemy that will happily play at attrition warfare, with a seemingly inexhaustable manpower reserve.
In short, the Whermacht gambled on the Short War, knockout blow, and bit off far more than they could chew. Not helped at all by splitting their initial invasion force into three groups, and having them move forward on axes of advance that moved away from each-other, rather than mutually supported one another. I believe they did have a plan to start with that concentrated the majority of their resources centrally (the MARCKS PLAN)....one wonders what they might have achieved had it been adopted.
They came close enough as it was....close, but no cigar.
("It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!")
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 6996
- Joined: 04 Jun 2004 19:49
- Location: Moscow, Russia
I think in that context it means soldiers of rifle companies. See :GaryD wrote: He uses the term 'strelok' which literally means one who shoots or rifleman, but it might in this case be used in the broader meaning of simply 'combat soldier.'
"active bayonets" seems to be a very unclear term, I don't really understand whether there was any diffrence between it and simply "bayonets".
- New member
- Posts: 1
- Joined: 04 Jun 2008 20:02
- Posts: 3935
- Joined: 23 Jul 2004 01:39
- Location: New Zealand
Saving for posterity one of the most odious and uninformed posts I've ever seen on AHF.LSAH420SH wrote:BSN2KATE is one of the more accurate and knowledgable people on this site. I will add this and welcome any and all who can refute what I believe with something other than predjudice. The reasons 'Barbarossa' commenced on 22.6.41 are well documented as opposed to 'Otto' on 15.5.41. Allowing for the date change and Hitler's re-directing objectives; it is my unshakable opinion that Barbarossa would have succeeded if anywhere from one to three changes were implimented. 1) Recind the 'Commisar Order', and treat the Russians as potential Komrads and welcomed them into the Reich, with a slogan like: a Good Communist will make a Better National Socialist. This would have brought Millions to their side, especially the Ukranians & Cossacks, as opposed to creating vehement anti-Nazi Partisans. 2) Stopped every train, Troop and logistical distraction to and from the death camps; which is the ONLY reason I am glad the Allies prevailed. A Germanization of Europe & Western Russia would have been a good thing if not for this odious Genocide of the Jews, who have so much to offer the world, as opposed to say people of African Heritage, who without anglo mixing, are the worst type of Homo-Sapien. 3) If numbers 1 & 2 were followed then # 3 would most likely not apply, for Barbarossa would have ended in Sept or Oct of '41 at the latest, that aside # 3 would be for Hitler to have cut ALL ties with the worthless alliance with the Japenese after they attacked the USA 0n 7.12.41. Roosevelt and Congress did not know what to do as far as Germany was concerned on 8.12.41, Hitler decided the issue for them when he declared War on the US two days later. 1 & 2 would have won the War in the East for Hitler. # 3 would have secured world Empire for England would have made peace.
- Posts: 615
- Joined: 11 Jan 2006 19:27
- Location: Toronto, Canada
Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?LSAH420SH wrote:BSN2KATE is one of the more accurate and knowledgable people on this site. I will add this and welcome any and all who can refute what I believe with something other than predjudice. The reasons 'Barbarossa' commenced on 22.6.41 are well documented as opposed to 'Otto' on 15.5.41. Allowing for the date change and Hitler's re-directing objectives; it is my unshakable opinion that Barbarossa would have succeeded if anywhere from one to three changes were implimented. 1) Recind the 'Commisar Order', and treat the Russians as potential Komrads and welcomed them into the Reich, with a slogan like: a Good Communist will make a Better National Socialist. This would have brought Millions to their side, especially the Ukranians & Cossacks, as opposed to creating vehement anti-Nazi Partisans. 2) Stopped every train, Troop and logistical distraction to and from the death camps; which is the ONLY reason I am glad the Allies prevailed. A Germanization of Europe & Western Russia would have been a good thing if not for this odious Genocide of the Jews, who have so much to offer the world, as opposed to say people of African Heritage, who without anglo mixing, are the worst type of Homo-Sapien. 3) If numbers 1 & 2 were followed then # 3 would most likely not apply, for Barbarossa would have ended in Sept or Oct of '41 at the latest, that aside # 3 would be for Hitler to have cut ALL ties with the worthless alliance with the Japenese after they attacked the USA 0n 7.12.41. Roosevelt and Congress did not know what to do as far as Germany was concerned on 8.12.41, Hitler decided the issue for them when he declared War on the US two days later. 1 & 2 would have won the War in the East for Hitler. # 3 would have secured world Empire for England would have made peace.
- Forum Staff
- Posts: 23720
- Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
- Location: USA
We don't permit racist posts here.A Germanization of Europe & Western Russia would have been a good thing if not for this odious Genocide of the Jews, who have so much to offer the world, as opposed to say people of African Heritage, who without anglo mixing, are the worst type of Homo-Sapien.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?p=5#5No racism is tolerated
Consider this an official warning. If you do it again, the AHF management will be delighted to show you the door.
- Posts: 175
- Joined: 29 Jun 2015 08:07
- Location: Ukraine
1,934 tanks/assault guns
1,593 combat planes
versus the Soviets:
1,715 million soldiers
2,959 tanks and spg
and by knowing it result for the Soviet side on mid-August'42 , we can configure it out that the numerical advantage was crucial for Soviet defensive and offensive operations.
- Posts: 3255
- Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
- Location: USA
I know the mods already addressed this post in the past but doesn't deleting this seem wise? As I've expanded my WW2 talk beyond AHF, I've encountered a few who've never heard of it and are immediately suspicious - assuming us to be lockstep believers in German superiority due to the forum title (lol). Allowing this crap to remain online is a stain.
The member made a single post years ago...