Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

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histan
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by histan » 12 Oct 2018 23:54

Guys

The JIC, when asked to examine the German offensive in North West Europe, were not quite as dismissive of Jesks' arguments about putting more divisions into the offensive - although not as many as 100!

Their view was that an important factor in the stalling of the offensive was a lack of infantry and that they considered this was a more important factor than a lack of supplies. They estimated that a further 15 nominal divisions might be made available. It should be noted that JIC assessments tend to be very much worst case from an allied point of view.

Here is the initial paper they produced.
JIC Paper 1 P1.jpg
JIC Paper 1 P2.jpg
JIC Paper 1 P3.jpg
I have posted the whole paper because it gives an idea of the allied view of German strategy and intentions at the time.

Interested in how these have stood up to historical analysis.

Regards

John
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histan
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by histan » 13 Oct 2018 00:01

Here is the second paper they produced. I have omitted the section on the German Air Force. Once again interested to see how this has stood up to historical analysis.
JIC Paper 2 P1.jpg
JIC Paper 2 P2.jpg
JIC Paper 2 P3.jpg
JIC Paper 2 P4.jpg
Finally from the discussion around this JIC Paper
JIC Paper 2 discussion.jpg
Note the comment that there was no strategic reason why the Germans could not make forces available from this region.

Regards

John
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Stugbit
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Stugbit » 13 Oct 2018 04:13

But when you make such inferences you must consider not only the forces on the ground, but also the aircraft.

In the years of 1944 - 1945, the air combat changed completely from what it was back in 1940, specially the ground attack aircrafts. Blitzkrieg in 1940 is one thing, but blitzkrieg in 45 is completely different in terms of tactics. You can`t judge those with the earlier war mentality. It just wouldn`t work in 45. Aircraft had much more importance in the late war.

The Stukas, despite being at their time a good aircraft for disrupting the enemy traffic, the command posts and such, and made difference in the 1940 campaign, weren`t by any means close to what the Allied had in terms of ground attack equipment in late war.

The Germans not only had not the air supremacy to make any kind of offensive succeed, like they did before, but they also barely had some aircraft to keep their lines safe in the defense.

The only thing that would prevent the Germans from being massacred by the Allied air power on the ground was the bad weather.

There were cases in the late war that the Allied Air Force almost wiped out entire divisions with one attack. I think that happened to Panzer Lehr Div.

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Andy H
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Andy H » 13 Oct 2018 11:23

Hi All

Everyone has the right to an opinion, but please don't confuse that with knowledge, gravitas and being factually correct.

If your asked a reasonable question(s) then please have the civility to respond, and not in a tit-4-tat manner.
There are more readers of a thread than participants on the whole, and the readership can easily see whose avoiding
the difficult questions and whose arguments hold more weight/worth

Regards

Andy H

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Stugbit
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Stugbit » 13 Oct 2018 11:40

I did something wrong, moderator?

Gilles de Rais
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Gilles de Rais » 13 Oct 2018 14:44

To return to the original subject of this topic. I don't think the German offensive in Ardennes had a great chance of success considering the sheer superiority Allies had in numbers. Even moving some divisions there wouldn't change the balance of the forces. Allies had a huge land and air supremacy. The best the Germans could do was to launch a limited offensive aimed at Aachen and restore their former defenses along the Siegfried line. Also, moving divisions from Norway and Italy would strengthen the defence of the Ruhr in the coming Allied offensives in 1945. But I think all this talk about "100 divisions" is pretty much unrealistic and off topic.

By late 1944 Germany needed to reinforce its positions on the Vistula front as that was the most critical part for the defence of Germany. I was just rereading what Speer wrote and he said that after the news reached him that Silesia was lost he reported to Hitler that the region produced 60% of German coal output and that without it the war was now lost. Which makes sense. Without coal all German industries and transport were useless and that explains the collapse German economy suffered after the Soviet offensive in January of 1945. Simply, the core territories of the Reich have been overrun and the entire system started to collapse.

While some good aguments have been made that stripping Ersatzheer of its personnel and recruits would undermine the entire German training system, I think the desperate situation the Germans were in justified such actions. When Soviet Union was in critical condition during 1941 it was throwing whatever manpower it could find in front of the German divisions to stop them. And it paid off. By 1945 Soviet Union was drained of its manpower so much that it would have to reconsider its strategy if it suffered a string of defeats in its attack on Germany. And without Soviet willingness to sacrifice lives, the Allies would hardly be willing to continue the war alone. The only chance for Germany by late period of war was to try and maintain its defences on the East for as long as possible and hope that would drive a wedge between Soviets and Allies. Considering that only within a few years from the defeat of Germany, they were already in Cold War, that's not such an unrealistic thinking.

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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Oct 2018 20:03

I'm not sure why it is that the fact that the Germans transferred 1.2 million men from the Ersatzheer to the Feldheer in three months continues to escape you?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Gilles de Rais
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Gilles de Rais » 13 Oct 2018 20:55

It does not. It was simply not enough.

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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Oct 2018 21:20

Well, yes, as I said, a fart in a windstorm.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Andy H
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Andy H » 14 Oct 2018 00:05

Stugbit wrote:
13 Oct 2018 11:40
I did something wrong, moderator?
Hi Stugbait

Though my post was directly after your post, my post was not specifically aimed at you as such.

It was gentle reminder based upon Complaints recieved, to abide what I wrote in my post to all participants.

Regards

Andy H

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Stugbit
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Stugbit » 14 Oct 2018 03:30

Andy H wrote:
14 Oct 2018 00:05
Stugbit wrote:
13 Oct 2018 11:40
I did something wrong, moderator?
Hi Stugbait

Though my post was directly after your post, my post was not specifically aimed at you as such.

It was gentle reminder based upon Complaints recieved, to abide what I wrote in my post to all participants.

Regards

Andy H
Hello, Andy

Thanks for the reply.

I can say that sometimes debates in forums can be somehow dull and cold, so to ease things a bit, I at least, tend to use a more informal rhetoric and jokes which for it`s part could very often be mispresented as offensive or a tit-for-tat. It`s not my intention. For my part, I apologize to anyone who possibly took my comments as offensive. I`ll avoid such rhetoric for now on.

Kindest regards,

Stugbit.

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Stugbit
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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Stugbit » 14 Oct 2018 03:31

Gilles de Rais wrote:
13 Oct 2018 14:44
To return to the original subject of this topic. I don't think the German offensive in Ardennes had a great chance of success considering the sheer superiority Allies had in numbers. Even moving some divisions there wouldn't change the balance of the forces. Allies had a huge land and air supremacy. The best the Germans could do was to launch a limited offensive aimed at Aachen and restore their former defenses along the Siegfried line. Also, moving divisions from Norway and Italy would strengthen the defence of the Ruhr in the coming Allied offensives in 1945. But I think all this talk about "100 divisions" is pretty much unrealistic and off topic.

By late 1944 Germany needed to reinforce its positions on the Vistula front as that was the most critical part for the defence of Germany. I was just rereading what Speer wrote and he said that after the news reached him that Silesia was lost he reported to Hitler that the region produced 60% of German coal output and that without it the war was now lost. Which makes sense. Without coal all German industries and transport were useless and that explains the collapse German economy suffered after the Soviet offensive in January of 1945. Simply, the core territories of the Reich have been overrun and the entire system started to collapse.

While some good aguments have been made that stripping Ersatzheer of its personnel and recruits would undermine the entire German training system, I think the desperate situation the Germans were in justified such actions. When Soviet Union was in critical condition during 1941 it was throwing whatever manpower it could find in front of the German divisions to stop them. And it paid off. By 1945 Soviet Union was drained of its manpower so much that it would have to reconsider its strategy if it suffered a string of defeats in its attack on Germany. And without Soviet willingness to sacrifice lives, the Allies would hardly be willing to continue the war alone. The only chance for Germany by late period of war was to try and maintain its defences on the East for as long as possible and hope that would drive a wedge between Soviets and Allies. Considering that only within a few years from the defeat of Germany, they were already in Cold War, that's not such an unrealistic thinking.
Gilles de Rais,

While I agree with you that, from the perspective of Germany, anything that could be used to hold the Soviet, like the Ersatzheer, should have been used, I think it`s success wouldn`t be a much sure thing.

I think the Soviet forces that hold the critical moments and places of 41 were not exactly “whatever manpower they could find”. The forces that have hold Moscow were more trained ones, coming from the Far East. The untrained barely worked for anything during the Germany`s offensives. They were just cannon fodder to be captured.

At Stalingrad things were different since cannon fodder troops had much more importance in an attrition war strategy. But one thing has to be considered together with this: The Volga River. Volga is a very large river, the larger in Europe. The Germans simply couldn`t get through it, so it worked as a natural barrier and avoided a complete siege situation. And from what I have read here, the Germans also didn`t focused their Air Force into striking the artillery positions and support units behind the river. Such a scenario wouldn`t be present at a 1945 defense of Germany.

While it`s true that the Soviet Union lost around 40% of its men`s population during the war, I think we should consider that the units involved in the later war battles were not the same as the ones who fought the earlier war. Many of those men were battle proved, hard-bitten veterans and other more trained troops that would be much more harder to fight against, I guess.

The Soviet Union was the country that most accumulated experience during the war. They fought many German tough defenses before 45 and learned how to get through them. By the end pf the war, they were in the zenith of their wisdom to crack hard stubborn defenses.

And, in my opinion, as I said before, we have to give much attention to the air force power during the late war. There was a technologic balance that took place when the aircraft became much more developed, not only their engines and design, but rockets, better cannons in the wings and even mass carpet bombing of regular forces, that all appeared in the late war, and they became a game changer just like we can see today.

Just look how it was the Syrian Civil War before and after the Russian intervention or the Kaddafi War against the rebels before and after the Western intervention.

The only place you can be secure against those modern air combat weapons that started to appear in WWII is within mountains. That`s one of the reasons that the Americans lost in the Vietnam and the same as they can`t terminate the Taliban entirely.

My best regards.

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RE: Ersatzheer And German PIECEMEAL Strategy - (Well Sort Of But Not Really).

Post by Robert Rojas » 14 Oct 2018 04:56

Greetings to both citizen Gilles de Rais and the community as a whole. Howdy G.d.R.! Well your lordship, in respect to your introductory posting of Monday - September 24, 2018 - 7:12am, old yours truly has refrained from interjecting himself into the "meat" of this discussion in the forlorn hope that another august member of our illustrious forum might have the temerity to broach the weighty matter of logistics and transportation into your creation. Given the stark infrastructural realities that the Fatherland was confronting during the last twelve months of the European conflict, have you at all considered the availability of fuel for motorized transport and fodder for horse drawn transport as you shift personnel to hither, tither and yon? In addition, have you at all taken into consideration about the relative availability of rail transport for strategic redeployment during this historical period? Apart from the relentless interdiction of the rail net from the Anglo-American air campaign, you also have vital rail transport being siphoned off for the FINAL SOLUTION. How many forced marches do you think old men and boys can endure AND then be expected to engage a better equipped and numerically superior enemy with any "hope" of tactical success? It is one thing to issue orders and it is quite another thing to have a reasonable expectation that those orders will be executed in a sound and timely manor. At this stage of the war, National Socialist Germany has little choice but to grasp at straws. I hope this little blurb was not too off topic for your sensibilities. Well, that's my latest two cents, pfennigs or kopecks worth on this academic exercise into the Gotterdammerung - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of ever bucolic Brittany. Au Revoir!

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by jesk » 14 Oct 2018 10:04

histan wrote:
12 Oct 2018 23:54
Guys

The JIC, when asked to examine the German offensive in North West Europe, were not quite as dismissive of Jesks' arguments about putting more divisions into the offensive - although not as many as 100!

Their view was that an important factor in the stalling of the offensive was a lack of infantry and that they considered this was a more important factor than a lack of supplies. They estimated that a further 15 nominal divisions might be made available. It should be noted that JIC assessments tend to be very much worst case from an allied point of view.

Here is the initial paper they produced.
I wrote in many posts about the lack of infantry in the Ardennes. That you have already scornfully summarized my opinion. Jesk wants 100 divisions in the Ardennes WOW

The document was compiled by an analyst from the American headquarters, maybe with the rank of major or colonel. All the arguments are obvious there, but Hitler was a problem. He rejected requests to evacuate troops to Germany and refused alternative plans of operations.

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Re: Ersatzheer and German peacemeal strategy

Post by Gilles de Rais » 14 Oct 2018 10:30

I think the Soviet forces that hold the critical moments and places of 41 were not exactly “whatever manpower they could find”. The forces that have hold Moscow were more trained ones, coming from the Far East. The untrained barely worked for anything during the Germany`s offensives. They were just cannon fodder to be captured.
What I meant is that the Soviets used whatever manpower (or even womanpower!) that was available, without too much concern for formalities. I didn't say they were totally untrained. While Far East troops were good, qualitatively they were certainly not superior to German troops in Norway and still one million of them had a huge impact. In a similar manner, half a million German troops from Ersatzheer or Norway might make a difference on the Vistula front, despite the dissmissive comments of some forum members.
While it`s true that the Soviet Union lost around 40% of its men`s population during the war, I think we should consider that the units involved in the later war battles were not the same as the ones who fought the earlier war. Many of those men were battle proved, hard-bitten veterans and other more trained troops that would be much more harder to fight against, I guess.
While it's true that Soviets had a lot of veterans and good soldiers, Soviet losses even in 1945 have been huge. Even in short Vistula-Oder operation some Soviet units lost as much as half of their initial strength, despite the fact operation lasted only a few weeks. The same happened even during the Berlin operation.
The Soviet Union was the country that most accumulated experience during the war. They fought many German tough defenses before 45 and learned how to get through them. By the end pf the war, they were in the zenith of their wisdom to crack hard stubborn defenses.
I agree. However, the Germans also learned a lot about defensive warfare during the last two years of the war. Take the examples of Posen (held out for a month), Breslau (held out until the very end of the war), Konigsberg, Kustrin... Even with minor troop presence these cities held out often for months against vastly superior Soviet armies. Not saying that the Festung concept was a great strategy, but it showed the resilience of German troops.
And, in my opinion, as I said before, we have to give much attention to the air force power during the late war. There was a technologic balance that took place when the aircraft became much more developed, not only their engines and design, but rockets, better cannons in the wings and even mass carpet bombing of regular forces, that all appeared in the late war, and they became a game changer just like we can see today.

Just look how it was the Syrian Civil War before and after the Russian intervention or the Kaddafi War against the rebels before and after the Western intervention.

The only place you can be secure against those modern air combat weapons that started to appear in WWII is within mountains. That`s one of the reasons that the Americans lost in the Vietnam and the same as they can`t terminate the Taliban entirely.
I think we are going off topic, but Vietnam is actually mainly a country of plains and not mountains. And the mountain part of Vietnam is actually populated by Hmong (US allies). Also, Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul (main Taliban stronghold) are very much flat (otherwise they couldn't grow all that poppy there) and Taliban are present everywhere, even in the flat north of the country. I think the situation in these wars is very complex and you can't reduce everything to airpower. For instance, while it's true that NATO airforce stopped Gaddafi's advance in March of 2011, it didn't have any effect on the defence of his part of Libya. All until August the rebels were unable to make any progress, despite all NATO airpower. Tripoli fell only due to the fact that Gaddafi's officers surrendered their troops and let the rebels enter the city.

Tanks, artillery and airforce are all auxiliary arms. Common infantryman is still the one who wins and losses all the wars. In defensive battles on the Western Front the Allies had thrown everything they could on the Germans from September of 1944 till February of 1945 and they still didn't make any advance. The main reason the Germany started to collapse after that period was the lack of sufficient infantry.

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