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-   -   Was the German Army (Heer) really so superior? (http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=119449)

panther3485 04 Feb 12 05:20

Was the German Army (Heer) really so superior?
 
Hi all,

Following a suggestion that came out of the 'How innocent was the Wehrmacht?' thread, I thought something like this might be a good idea for those who wish to discuss the relative merits of the German Heer, in terms of their military skills and prowess on the battlefield.

The addition of poll options might give us some idea where the spread of opinion is strongest. I did take a little time over the wording of the options but I didn't have all day, so please forgive me if I haven't got them quite right, or if I have missed an important option. To allow for this, option 11 is 'Other', with a request to explain.

Hope this goes some way towards meeting what is an obvious appetite to debate the strengths and weaknesses of the Heer in battle, based on their actual performance, relative to the armies that opposed them during the war.

Please note that this thread is not intended to deal with the subject of war crimes, which is already catered for in the above-mentioned 'Wehrmacht innocence' thread.

I have enabled 'multiple choice' so members can select more than one option if they think that's appropriate.

Have at it, guys, and please enjoy. :)

lcm1 04 Feb 12 05:57

I voted 3 and 4 because I think the first part of 3 and the second part of 4 most closely presents my opinion. lcm1

Acheron 04 Feb 12 06:02

Voted for the third option, superior early on and, sadly, still acquitting themselves well later in the war. That said, superiority is a relative term, I am a couch potato, but I am a superior runner compared to most quadriplegics. I tend to believe that the German army was merely good and competent, and that their opponents early on were, well, the French were obsessed with re-fighting the last world war, the British apparently thought initiative was not "good form" and in the USSR Stalin had rid the Red Army of nearly everyone who was smart enough to be threat to him.

lcm1 04 Feb 12 06:13

Quote:

Originally Posted by panther3485 (Post 2165018)
Hi all,

Following a suggestion that came out of the 'How innocent was the Wehrmacht?' thread, I thought something like this might be a good idea for those who wish to discuss the relative merits of the German Heer, in terms of their military skills and prowess on the battlefield.

The addition of poll options might give us some idea where the spread of opinion is strongest. I did take a little time over the wording of the options but I didn't have all day, so please forgive me if I haven't got them quite right, or if I have missed an important option. To allow for this, option 11 is 'Other', with a request to explain.

Hope this goes some way towards meeting what is an obvious appetite to debate the strengths and weaknesses of the Heer in battle, based on their actual performance, relative to the armies that opposed them during the war.

Please note that this thread is not intended to deal with the subject of war crimes, which is already catered for in the above-mentioned 'Wehrmacht innocence' thread.

I have enabled 'multiple choice' so members can select more than one option if they think that's appropriate.

Have at it, guys, and please enjoy. :)

I know that my direct contact with the Heer was in the latter half of the war and many say that they were not at their best by then but in my opinion the infantry were extremely stubborn and hard to move if they did not want to give ground and in many cases of them actually moving out it was often out of sheer neccessity (lack of supplies etc:) As I have demonstrated before I always had a very high opinion of their artillary and I was not a voice in the wilderness by any means. The gun crews were fast and their accuracy was quite high without very much 'groping around' when first opening up. lcm1

Nick the Noodle 04 Feb 12 06:32

Awesome thread :cool:.

I was going to post something similar, but limited to NWE, having just dug out Normandy 1944 by Zetterling. However, this is far more appropriate at this time :thumup:.

I voted 3, 4 and 5 to reflect my overall view. I believe the Heer was undoubtably the best ground force up to 41 in almost all key areas, although a tad naive concerning logistics at times. The Heer could be very competitive at times thereafter, and certainly had equality with both the Soviets and W Allies for 42/3 as well. However, in several key areas, such as artillery, they were soon outclassed, and given that artillery was the battlefield killer in WW2, the Heer became less and less effective, relative to their foes as the war progressed.

Bravo Zero 04 Feb 12 06:47

I voted 2 and 3. I believe it was the fanatical leadership, rigorous training, and German engineering in the production of weapons and equipment that lead them to to be a powerful fighting force.

They had easily overwhelmed countries in the early stages of the war and even once they had been outmanned and outgunned they still put up fierce resistance that inflicted massive casualties on their enemies!

lcm1 04 Feb 12 06:57

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle (Post 2165054)
Awesome thread :cool:.

I was going to post something similar, but limited to NWE, having just dug out Normandy 1944 by Zetterling. However, this is far more appropriate at this time :thumup:.

I voted 3, 4 and 5 to reflect my overall view. I believe the Heer was undoubtably the best ground force up to 41 in almost all key areas, although a tad naive concerning logistics at times. The Heer could be very competitive at times thereafter, and certainly had equality with both the Soviets and W Allies for 42/3 as well. However, in several key areas, such as artillery, they were soon outclassed, and given that artillery was the battlefield killer in WW2, the Heer became less and less effective, relative to their foes as the war progressed.

Yes,you are of course comparing their artillery (I spelled that wrong didn't i!) :) with earlier in the war. Something I was not able to do at the time. Still we thought that they were pretty good!! lcm1

Nick the Noodle 04 Feb 12 07:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bravo Zero (Post 2165061)
I voted 2 and 3. I believe it was the fanatical leadership, rigorous training, and German engineering in the production of weapons and equipment that lead them to to be a powerful fighting force.

They had easily overwhelmed countries in the early stages of the war and even once they had been outmanned and outgunned they still put up fierce resistance that inflicted massive casualties on their enemies!

http://s3.amazonaws.com/satisfaction...alm_inline.jpg

Tuck's Luck 04 Feb 12 07:09

I voted 6.

The Heer enjoyed something of an edge in the early campaigns but their opponents caught up quickly and actually bettered them on at least one level.

I would say they were 'bettered' on several levels as the war progressed, but it took the allies time. The Heer certainly had the edge early on, but they were eventually out-thought, out-manoevred and out-fought. I have never been an advocate of this 'innate superiority' of the Germans business. They were as fallible as anyone else and were proved to be.

ShAA 04 Feb 12 07:32

My opinion was somewhere between 3 and 4, and I voted 4. Didn't see any need to vote for several points as the poll is just too detailed and the difference between the points is barely a notch or two :)

Rojik 04 Feb 12 08:07

The meat? The machine? Or the meat and machine together?

The meat was very, very good. Give them the backing of the SU or US industry and I can't see what would have stopped them. Well, a couple of stupid orders from Hitler, maybe. Them, the Red Army soldiers and then daylight.

The machine was very good at what it was designed for which for short, sharp campaigns. In the longer campaigns it performed admirably but was always going to be outclassed and ground down.

Together I'd say a 3-4. Considering how much is written about how little chance the Germans had from the git-go, and the numbers and industrial might it fought against, it is remarkable that the war lasted so long. Even in the 5th year the army was still capable of delivering some painful blows to the allies while fighting on multiple fronts and while suffering severe shortages in manpower and materiel.

Brumbear 04 Feb 12 08:39

I voted #3. The Germans did face trained armies in Poland. Holland, France and England and did very well in those confrontations. The tactical methods of blitzkrieg were superior to the practices being used by the opponents of the period imo. However by midwar the British especially seemed to not only adjust but match the German machine. While I have thrown him under the bus a bit Monty deserves a lot of that credit he enforced big training increases. I am not including the east in this as I don't know all that much of the Red Army. But it seems that the same holds true there.

RichardS 04 Feb 12 09:24

I chose the last option. The Heer was a mixed bag early war through the end. While we are talking about the Heer I'll give you an easy to digest examples from the other two services. The Luftwaffe was considered invincible but the serious flaws showed up in the ME110, JU87 and lack strategic bombing capability when it ran into a first rate opponent in the RAF. (I give the Armee d'la Air and the VVS a pass due to being caught in the middle of modernizing and doing everything to not provoke Hitler.)

The Kriegsmarine had good submarines and battleships and panzerschiffs, but all the destroyers seem to be capable of doing was dying bravely.

The problem with the Heer is digging through all the glamour shots to find the ones without makeup to see the warts. I find that both the Waffen-SS and Heer had a mixture of really, really good soldiers and units, but also a lot that were a lot less. One thing I think is also overlooked is how the culture of a country can produce men ready to be molded into warriors. A nature with a warrior tradition will find it easier to find willing soldiers that can be molded than a nation of shopkeepers with a contemptible little army or another case to illustrate the soldiers of the Confederate Army in the US civil war aka ACW. While the culture of hunting and outdoorsmanship and riding and individualism (to a very high degree) and combined with the southern easy-going way of life gave the Confederates men capable of being good warriors and producing some very good units; it also made for an army that was hard to discipline. How many key battles was lost (especially early on) in the ACW due to this lack of discipline?

So while the average Soldat was good; so was the average Polieu, Tommy, Ivan and Joe. Also and not least; I think the Heer gets a lot of rep. for all the neat toys they had. But if you really look at the numbers only the MG34/42 hands down superiour to the competition. Ask yourself this: Would you rather have the KAR98K or the M1 Gerand? Or even the Lee Enfield SMLE vs the KAR98K? I'll think I'll stop now. Long night and early morning means I am meandering a bit. :D

Tuck's Luck 04 Feb 12 09:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by RichardS (Post 2165133)
I chose the last option. The Heer was a mixed bag early war through the end. While we are talking about the Heer I'll give you an easy to digest examples from the other two services. The Luftwaffe was considered invincible but the serious flaws showed up in the ME110, JU87 and lack strategic bombing capability when it ran into a first rate opponent in the RAF. (I give the Armee d'la Air and the VVS a pass due to being caught in the middle of modernizing and doing everything to not provoke Hitler.)

The Kriegsmarine had good submarines and battleships and panzerschiffs, but all the destroyers seem to be capable of doing was dying bravely.

The problem with the Heer is digging through all the glamour shots to find the ones without makeup to see the warts. I find that both the Waffen-SS and Heer had a mixture of really, really good soldiers and units, but also a lot that were a lot less. One thing I think is also overlooked is how the culture of a country can produce men ready to be molded into warriors. A nature with a warrior tradition will find it easier to find willing soldiers that can be molded than a nation of shopkeepers with a contemptible little army or another case to illustrate the soldiers of the Confederate Army in the US civil war aka ACW. While the culture of hunting and outdoorsmanship and riding and individualism (to a very high degree) and combined with the southern easy-going way of life gave the Confederates men capable of being good warriors and producing some very good units; it also made for an army that was hard to discipline. How many key battles was lost (especially early on) in the ACW due to this lack of discipline?

So while the average Soldat was good; so was the average Polieu, Tommy, Ivan and Joe. Also and not least; I think the Heer gets a lot of rep. for all the neat toys they had. But if you really look at the numbers only the MG34/42 hands down superiour to the competition. Ask yourself this: Would you rather have the KAR98K or the M1 Gerand? Or even the Lee Enfield SMLE vs the KAR98K? I'll think I'll stop now. Long night and early morning means I am meandering a bit. :D

No it sounds good to me Rich and to be honest, I'm quite surprised that the bulk of the votes so far have been in the upper part of the poll.

Brumbear says - The Germans did face trained armies in Poland. Holland, France and England and did very well in those confrontations. So they flaming well should!!! Not only were they the aggressor, they had been building up their military since 1933, initially in secret, latterly quite openly and were prepared in a way those 'trained' armies they faced weren't. Consequently they couldn't and didn't provide much in the way of opposition as history clearly illustrates.

The allies were playing catch up from the beginning but once they did, they proved themselves to be a match for the Germans and indeed outperformed them in several arenas - both meat and machine - as Rojik so succinctly puts it :laugh:

Will be interesting to see how this one pans out. :thumup:

ljadw 04 Feb 12 12:24

I voted 11:after june 1940,it failed everywhere (excepted:Greece)
And,it was the same for the LW and the KM.
The reason was (mainly) the treaty of Versailles,which had emasculated Germany (from a military POV),resulting in a much weaker Germany in september 1939,than in august 1914


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