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World War II Discuss WW2. .

View Poll Results: Was the German Army (Heer) really so superior in WW2?
Absolutely no question. They were easily the best for pretty much the entire war 1 1.01%
The Heer possessed an innate superiority but was overwhelmed by sheer numbers and degraded by attrition 16 16.16%
Clearly more than a match for any opponent in the first half of the war at least; and even after that still often gave better than they got 35 35.35%
Easily the best during the early 'Blitzkrieg' campaigns and remained at least competitive thereafter 30 30.30%
The Heer enjoyed something of an edge in the early campaigns but their opponents caught up quickly 17 17.17%
As per option 5 but some of their opponents actually bettered them on at least one level 13 13.13%
German strategic skills were never anything special; and their tactical & operation skills were only slightly better in the early campaigns 11 11.11%
As per option 7 but Allied armies had clearly at least equally them tactically and bested them on other levels from 42/43 onwards 7 7.07%
They only won the early campaigns through a combination of luck, and the incompetence & lack of preparedness of their opponents. They were never anything special 7 7.07%
The Germans were never much good. It's all propaganda 2 2.02%
Other (please state and explain) 5 5.05%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 99. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 04 Feb 12, 06:20
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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.
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Last edited by panther3485; 04 Feb 12 at 06:39..
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  #2  
Old 04 Feb 12, 06:57
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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
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Old 04 Feb 12, 07:02
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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.
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Old 04 Feb 12, 13:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcm1 View Post
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
I completely agree.
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Old 04 Feb 12, 13:56
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I have not studied the topic of the Heer's proficiency in any depth so I am reserving my vote until I can clear up a few things.

Can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)

Certainly tactically they seemed to have an edge early on. However, I have read accounts that later in the war Commonwealth troops were able to anticipate German moves due to a certain amount of doctrinal inflexibility. There is an allied advance, they set up for the "inevitable" German counterattack, repulse it and advance against a now disorganized German resistance. Simplified but certainly presented in my reading. Is it true?

Operationally the Heer seemed quite strong throughout the war. Able to put troops and resources where they felt they needed them to achieve goals at about the divisional/army level?

Strategically I think they were hopeless. Some of that can be laid at the political leadership, but the General Staff must take the blame for faulty logistics planning, flawed intelligence analysis (or did they simply not seek it?), and the assumption that tactical and operational success would translate into strategic victory (although that seemed to work early on: Battle of France for example?).
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Old 04 Feb 12, 17:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller
...can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)...
Kiev Sept 1941.
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Old 04 Feb 12, 17:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller View Post
Can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Kiev Sept 1941.
I would say the second battle of Kahrkov, May 1942, after which the Wehrmacht eized the initiative again for the rest of the year until Stalingrad.
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Old 04 Feb 12, 23:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Kiev Sept 1941.
Would the 3rd Battle of Kharkov (Feb-March '43) not qualify?

If not, what about the 2nd Battle of Kharkov (May '42)?

Edit: OK Gerry, saw your answer on a following page.
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Old 06 Feb 12, 08:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Kiev Sept 1941.
Hello everyone,
I would have choosed, Manstein counter offensive to retake Karkhov. As the Heer was very present and did his task. I precise it for the ones who believe that this battle was an nearly exclusive SS victory.
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Old 20 Mar 12, 14:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Kiev Sept 1941.
I can think of several battles after Kiev 1941 that the Germans won - Tobruk (June 1942) and Krim (Sebastopol among it) are two. The push to Caucasus, Kharkov March '43.

While Tobruk might not be very major it was so in a relative sense.

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Old 04 Feb 12, 18:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadkiller View Post
I have not studied the topic of the Heer's proficiency in any depth so I am reserving my vote until I can clear up a few things.

Can someone name the last "major" battle won by the Heer? (I know the definition of "major" will be a problem)

Certainly tactically they seemed to have an edge early on. However, I have read accounts that later in the war Commonwealth troops were able to anticipate German moves due to a certain amount of doctrinal inflexibility. There is an allied advance, they set up for the "inevitable" German counterattack, repulse it and advance against a now disorganized German resistance. Simplified but certainly presented in my reading. Is it true?

Operationally the Heer seemed quite strong throughout the war. Able to put troops and resources where they felt they needed them to achieve goals at about the divisional/army level?

Strategically I think they were hopeless. Some of that can be laid at the political leadership, but the General Staff must take the blame for faulty logistics planning, flawed intelligence analysis (or did they simply not seek it?), and the assumption that tactical and operational success would translate into strategic victory (although that seemed to work early on: Battle of France for example?).
The battles won thing is a tough one offensive or defensive? Technically the Heer won a few defensive battles after Stalingrad but weren't able to capitalize on them.
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Old 04 Feb 12, 07:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
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
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Old 04 Feb 12, 14:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcm1 View Post
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
Well said LCM1, as a direct veteran who was at the business end of things, you should get 2 votes


I voted only for option 4. I bounced between 3 and 4; it would have been 3 but the Germans had too many crippling losses..ie..Stalingrad, Bagration, Africa, Falaise Gap.... to really merit option 3. That said, while the failures of the big campaigns like Stalingrad, Bagration, Africa, and the Falaise Gap could realistically be placed, not on the doorstep of the Heer High Command, but instead on Hitler himself; it did cost them over a million experienced troops in all. And that goes to my arguement below.

At the risk of being labeled nazi fanboi by some...

Pound for pound on average, I believe that the Heer was better; for pretty much all of the war, than were their opponents. Sure the Heer was a mixed bag of good and bad, just like any other Army, but I think you were less inclined to run into the lower end of the mixed bag with the Heer.

Direct combat experience tells with a fighting force; and in my opinion the Heer was the most experienced, followed by the UK, USSR, and the USA. Every Army understood that you needed to provide an experienced cadre to give backbone to a newly raised and inexperienced unit. I think though, that the Germans did this best.

My reasoning behind this is that:

1. The entire German Army was engaged in fighting everywhere all of the time. In the early campagns and battles the German troops were highly trained, and losses were not that heavy. They had a larger number of experienced troops to form the cadre of new units than did the Allies. Even at the end when the Germans were raising Volksturm/Volksgrenadier units of very poorly trained troops (kids and old men) they still gave them a large cadre of experienced NCO's and Officers.

2. The UK, like Germany was fighting the whole time also, and who had a highly trained Military too; had to raise an Army almost from scratch as theirs was so small at the beginning of the war. The majority of their combat veterans were needed desperatly for the fighting in Africa, and therefore they had fewer experienced troops available to build new units around.

3. The USSR had almost their entire experienced troop force wiped out, and had to rebuild their entire Army 2 to 3 times over in the bloodbath that best describes the fighting of 41 and 42. (A feat that I am not so sure the Western Allies could have managed, but that is for a different thread) So their Army was almost predominantly inexperienced troops fresh out of training for the first 3 years.

4. And the USA, the least experienced. As they did not even get into the war until basically 42, and then had only a small percentage of troops engaged before late 43 to mid 44. Had almost no experienced troops to form new units around.

Just looking at the sheer numbers of casualties on each front, the Germans did lose fewer men, tanks, and air craft than the Allies did.
Therefore, I see no other way to explain how a country of 80 million with a 6 million man Army could hold off a combined force of over 500 million with over 20 million under arms for so long? With the UK, USA, and USSR all fighting the Germans on what amounts to a 3 or even 4 front war. The German Army was out manned, out gunned, and their industry was out produced....They were beaten yes, by sheer numbers, yes... but, out fought, no I do not believe so.

Cheers,
Deter
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Old 04 Feb 12, 16:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deterrumeversor View Post
Therefore, I see no other way to explain how a country of 80 million with a 6 million man Army could hold off a combined force of over 500 million with over 20 million under arms for so long? With the UK, USA, and USSR all fighting the Germans on what amounts to a 3 or even 4 front war.
Italy.........
Finland.......
Rumania.....
Hungary....
Bulgaria.....


Japan and the Allied 2nd front in the far east/pacific............
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Old 04 Feb 12, 16:54
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IMHO,saying that the entire experienced Soviet forces were wiped out in 1941,is not demonstrating a good knowledge of the subject :why would the 1941 Soviet forces be experienced? Most of them had been called up in 1940/1941,even in the spring of 1941,there was a big shortage of manpower and officers:half a million of reservists had been called up .
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