by Sid Guttridge » 06 Mar 2021 14:54
On the assumption you have now finished your replies:
You post, “ Hitler did effectively not rush mobile divisions from the west to the east when the encirclement at Stalingrad happened as they would arrive too late for the relief operation. The only solution was divisions already in the east.” Exactly my point. Where were the three senior Waffen-SS divisions at the time? A month away from any active battlefront in France! By contrast, all ten Army motorized divisions were on the Eastern Front all year!
You post, “You effectively allege that you do not reproach the ss divisions that they were not on the eastern front…” Of course I don't. As I have said multiple times, they went where they were sent.
You go on, “…..but you use their abscence against them which is not much different.” Nope. I note their absence from any active battlefront and their inactivity at arguably the decisive point in Germany’s war and I question why this was necessary. Clearly some mobile divisions had to remain in France. However, the Army only had 12% of its panzer divisions in France and none of its motorized divisions, whereas all three senior Waffen-SS divisions were there. Why was the Waffen-SS so heavily over-represented in a passive theatre while the war was arguably being decided elsewhere?
You post, “The historical context is what it is and Hitlers worries about an allied landing in the west are a given.” Yup, even though no Allied invasion was planned, the resources to mount one were lacking and the weather precluded it from the autumn. Just because Hitler displayed bad judgement doesn't mean he had to display bad judgement.
You post, “It is not possible that he would not react to it by reinforcing OB West so the sending of DR and LAH in that context was evident.” Why send the two senior Waffen-SS divisions and later the third at such a decisive moment on the Eastern Front? Germany then had ten other Army motorized divisions, all of which stayed on the Eastern Front throughout 1942. Why was it only the senior motorized Waffen-SS divisions who were sent to the passive backwater of France for up to half the year?
You post, “No context can be imagined where Hitler would have sent the divisions back to the east earlier than he did.” “There was no compelling reason to do it a few weeks earlier than when he did end december.” Well, actually, both 6th and 10th Panzer Divisions were sent back to the front from France in November. The former took part in the relief attempt at Stalingrad from 12 December and the latter was already taking part in counter-attacks by late November and early December in Tunisia, both while the three senior Waffen-SS divisions were still in France for several more weeks. Again, why were Army formations sent back to battle, while Waffen-SS divisions weren’t?
You post, “Hitler would need to have been aware of the disastrous developments that would happen in january 1943(the collapse of Army group B) to act otherwise.” So, the surrounding of 6th Army and much of 4th Panzer Army, the destruction of two Romanian armies and part of an Italian army, the start of the precipitate retreat from the Caucasus and the Allied landings in North Africa were not enough to get the senior Waffen-SS divisions back into battle? These major setbacks happened in the two months before the three senior Waffen-SS divisions were even ordered to move from France, let alone arrived on the Eastern Front. How bad does it have to get to shift them?
You post, “The arrival of the full strength ss panzer corps when it did was certainly very useful in Mansteins counterattack.” Yup, but nearly three months after the crisis set in! Some "fire brigade"!
You post, “The campaign in the south was certainly not decisive as Germany could hardly win it and one more division more would hardly make a difference.” The problem is that the three senior Waffen-SS divisions weren’t just not participants in “the campaign in the south”. The problem was that they weren’t on any active battlefront anywhere – two of them for half a year at arguably the decisive juncture in Germany’s war! The combat contribution of the LAH and DR for nearly six months in the second half of 1942 was virtually nothing! This deserves explanation, especially by comparison with the year-round combat operations of their Army equivalents!
You post, “No Hindsight is not what we do.” Yes, it is. This is the Axis History Forum. No Hindsight = No History!
You post, “…..second guessing decisions with knowledge not available at the time leads to distorted judgements on these decisions and what alternatives there could have been.” Nope. It should lead to a more accurate appreciation of what actually happened and why.
You post, “Historians will mostly not do hindsight. I never do.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You post, “You are too obsessed with waffen ss divisions as Hitler did a lot more than reinforce France with 2 Waffen ss divisions. There was a serious reinforcement of France and Norway, particularly the latter.” Yup, largely by Ersatzheer Reserve Divisions, not withdrawn from any active battlefront, unlike all three senior Waffen-SS divisions which were withdrawn from any active battlefront anywhere at arguably the decisive moment in Germany’s war, two of them arriving fully formed, according to you.
You post, “2 or 3 divisions more or less in the east wherever would not affect anything decisively.” That may well be true, but that is not the point I am making, is it? My point is why did all three senior Waffen-SS divisions end up idle in France for up to half a year while all ten army motorised divisions remained actively engaged on the Eastern Front throughout 1942? Furthermore, only 12% of the Army’s panzer divisions were in France at the same time.
Whatever the reason, the result was that the three senior Waffen-SS divisions missed arguably the decisive turning point in Germany’s war and had absolutely no influence on key events anywhere at a crucial period.
You post, “With the (flawed)intelligence information Hitler had, he could honestly believe the west needed extra mobile divisions.” Exactly, “flawed”.
You post, “And choosing DR and LAH was obvious as DR was refitting in Germany so near enough and LAH was OKH reserve.” So why, given that, according to you, the Waffen-SS divisions were no more badly hit than equivalent army divisions, did they happen to be already idle in Germany or OKH reserve when all ten Army motorised divisions and all bar 12% of Army panzer divisions were struggling on active battlefronts elsewhere? Why the special treatment for the senior Waffen-SS divisions?
You post, “Anyway, only you would object to it being waffen ss divisions.” I am not objecting. I am point out a clear anomaly and questioning why it occurred? You are not answering. Indeed, you are not even recognizing that there is something anomalous in the situation in the first place when all three senior Waffen-SS divisions are a month away from any active battle front anywhere for up to six months in 1942, while all their more numerous Army equivalents are fighting the actual war on the Eastern Front for the entire year.
You post, “You seem to think Hitler needed to apply a quota system.” Nope. I am merely observing what actually happened. The absence of the three senior Waffen-SS divisions from any active battlefront anywhere while all their direct Army equivalents were struggling at the front is a fact and requires an explanation. Hitler’s supposed “firebrigade” was absent from any fire anywhere for a prolonged period at a key stage in Germany’s war. Why the special treatment?
You post, “Here you you are being devious or plain stupid as you are ignoring that 9 ; 10 and 12 ss were specifically meant as reserve for OB West. The day they entered in combat was not the day they had reached full combat readiness.” Again, I put it to you that you are effectively saying that these divisions were fully battle ready for months and yet were not used on any active battlefront anywhere. If true, this would make these Waffen-SS divisions less flexibly deployable than Army divisions, which could serve on any front anywhere as needed. It would place yet another question mark against the Waffen-SS as an independent institution.
You post, “You will have to leave Hitler the privilege to determine whether a new division is waffen ss or Heer.” Hitler was left the privilege and I would suggest that he got it wrong for some of the reasons we have discussed. It doesn’t require my input to establish that! Even you agree that the intelligence he was operating on was "flawed", but, as the computing community used to say, "GIGO". (Garbage In, Garbage Out).
As I have told you before, it was clearly necessary to have some mobile divisions deployed to oppose an Allied invasion, because their absence was more likely to provoke one. My question for you is why were such a high proportion of those engaged in this largely sterile activity over mid-1942 to mid-1944 were Reich-raised Waffen-SS divisions?
You post, “It does not inherently take longer to set up a waffen ss division.” It certainly shouldn’t, but we know for a fact that it did in the cases of 9th and 10th Waffen-SS Divisions. They began forming properly in February 1943, but didn’t reach a battlefront until April 1944. The 12th Waffen-SS Division took a year before it entered action, and then only because action came to it in the form of an Allied landing.
By contrast, the Army’s 14th, 16th and 24th Panzer Divisions were destroyed at Stalingrad at the beginning of February 1943 and began rebuilding in April, March and March 1943. They were back in active theatres by October, July and August 1943 respectively and in action shortly afterwards.
This creates a very strong impression that in 1943-44 the three new Reich-raised Waffen-SS divisions were being created at a relatively leisurely pace compared with their Army equivalents and behind a shield of hard pressed German Army divisions fighting on the Eastern and Italian Fronts. The prolonged inactivity of 1st and 2nd Waffen-SS Divisions in the second half of 1942 conveys a similar impression.
This leads me to further question the usefulness of the Waffen-SS as an independent military institution in the first place, especially when every man and weapon had to be subtracted from what was available to the German Army, which was arguably then the best in the world.