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TFatseas

The German Wehrmacht

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TFatseas

I've noticed something over the years as a military buff and a war gamer. It is how many people view the German Armed Forces during WWII as somehow superior than all their opponents. The history behind that though does not add up.

 

Why is it that now today many people this far down the road continue to only praise the excellence of German arms, but seem to ignore or marginalize the German failures.

 

Personally, far too many people see those flashy German uniforms and supposedly superior equipment, but tend to forget about how terrible they were at running a war economy or actually fighting a war.

 

What sets them at this high pedestal? What is the attraction? Is it propaganda? Or is it simply human nature?

 

What do you think?

 

I realize I set this up more as a question, but I would like to start a discussion on the subject.

Edited by TFatseas

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BreadBasket

Just a thought, but maybe it helps us justify war, by saying that we were fighting an army with much superior equipment and forces to ours, we were in some way saying that we were the underdogs, and that we were never expected to win, but did so anyway, making our various victories seem all the more heroic.

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Mike Tequeli

One on one the Germans probably could have won against almost any nation. Despite all their missteps they were quite a capable fighting force, The Battle of France effectively destroyed the armies of several nations in a clear decisive victory. In the end they were fighting against so many countries there was no way they could have won.

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El Zilcho

They weren't superior in every respect; if they were they would have won. But they're technology and armament were some of the best; there tanks and planes a prime example.

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TFatseas

 

One on one the Germans probably could have won against almost any nation. Despite all their missteps they were quite a capable fighting force, The Battle of France effectively destroyed the armies of several nations in a clear decisive victory. In the end they were fighting against so many countries there was no way they could have won.

Ok, the successes of 1939-1942, is that because how great the German Army was, or the weaknesses of their opponents?

 

In that time frame Poland, France, the UK and the Baltic nations they conquered were deeply rooted in WWI doctrines, and extremely demobilized, they were not prepared to fight the coming war.

 

When you look at the evidence critically, its hard to make a case that the German army in 1944 was "better" than the U.S., U.K. or Canadian Army.

 

Heck the Commonwealth doctrine in Normandy were based of the nearly always predictable tactics of the Germans.

 

Never mind Hitler and his grasp (or lack of) strategic warfare.

 

 

Just a thought, but maybe it helps us justify war, by saying that we were fighting an army with much superior equipment and forces to ours, we were in some way saying that we were the underdogs, and that we were never expected to win, but did so anyway, making our various victories seem all the more heroic.

 

Possibly, the propaganda side.

 

This also brings the question of why people root for the empire in Star War, you know they are gonna lose, but people still like them.

 

ETA:

They weren't superior in every respect; if they were they would have won. But they're technology and armament were some of the best; there tanks and planes a prime example.

 

I disagree.

 

The famed German tanks like the Mark V Panther and Mark VI Tiger were logistical nightmares.

 

They broke down often on long road marches, and when they did they they had to be towed to the rear to a depot. The Tiger I would be lucky to pull 100km before a major breakdown. Otherwise it would be moved by train, where special tracks were placed on it just to fit on the car.

 

The Panther had to be lifted on a crane to get to some of its major components, of which many were hand made, so parts were hard to get and were rarely interchangeable, whereas a Sherman or a T-34 a couple guys, a toolbox and a few hours could fix most breakdowns.

Edited by TFatseas

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Mike Tequeli

Shermans sent a lot of people to their deaths, I don't even think their guns could penetrate German Tank armor. Obviously German tanks were clumsy and slow, but the Sherman was no better, it was flammable thin skinned cannon fodder. The Russians were better at balancing production and effectiveness in tanks.

 

As for weakness of the other armies, I wouldn't think that was it. The Germans had revolutionized combat in the form of Blitzkrieg, which gave them a huge advantage. If all the other armies were ill-equipped to fight against one army (featuring Italians) then at the time they must have been a great army. I don't think on an individual basis their troops were any better though.

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TFatseas

 

Shermans sent a lot of people to their deaths, I don't even think their guns could penetrate German Tank armor. Obviously German tanks were clumsy and slow, but the Sherman was no better, it was flammable thin skinned cannon fodder. The Russians were better at balancing production and effectiveness in tanks.

 

The Sherman had obvious design flaws, namely the early models. Namely the poor ammo storage, But when they arrived on the scene in North Africa in 1942 to the Commonwealth, they outclassed all current German tanks, the Germans were genuinely afraid of them.

 

And by mid-late 1944 when the Sherman started getting wider tracks, wet ammo storage and the longer 76mm gun they were on par with the Mark V.

 

Armor penetration table for a Sherman's 75mm, for comparison a Tiger I had roughly 120mm front and 80mm armor protection sides and rear, and APCR-T Ammo was quite rare.

WEAPON TYPE MUNITION 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m

75MM GUN AP-T 87mm 73mm 65mm 54mm 45mm

75MM GUN APCR-T 135mm 115mm 95mm 76mm 60mm

 

The Shermans armor was comparable with the Mark IV and T-34.

 

Besides US doctrine was not to fight tank against tank. That was the job of the tank destroyer unit. Off the top of my head I believe the M10 had a 6:1 ratio against German tanks.

 

The Russians generally liked the Sherman, but we gave them the M4A2 models with the diesel engines so burning was less of a problem.

 

And I disagree about the Russians being better in effectiveness in design, at least as far as early war, radios were not standard in the T-34 until the 1943 model and they did not have three man turrets until the T-34/85 arrived on the scene. Which arguably is the best design of the war.

 

Some of their late war heavy tanks were good designs, but went the way of the dodo bird post war due to aforementioned reasons, primarily lack of mobility.

 

 

As for weakness of the other armies, I wouldn't think that was it. The Germans had revolutionized combat in the form of Blitzkrieg, which gave them a huge advantage. If all the other armies were ill-equipped to fight against one army (featuring Italians) then at the time they must have been a great army. I don't think on an individual basis their troops were any better though.

 

I agree that that 'Blitzkrieg' revolutionized modern warfare, though what Blitzkrieg is is rather convoluted.

 

But once the Allies and the Soviet Union caught up in combined arms tactics the myth of the unbeatable German Army quickly evaporated, look at the Red Army immediately post Kursk and beyond. Or Patton's Third Army in the Breakout from France.

 

Blitzkrieg gave an immense advantage in the early years, but as the years went on they shows signs of failure to adapt.

Edited by TFatseas

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Jesus'En'Hitler420

I blame Hitler for almost every fault the German army made. So many instances it was often his orders and stubborness that led to failure.

 

That awesome first of it's kind assault rifle, the Sturmgewher, Hitler turned that down! Commanders had to have it made behind his back, and when he tried it for himself, then he was all for it. Hitler himself, to spite all his early success, was the Third Reich's weaklink aswell.

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vinnygorgeous

If it is a myth as you argue then the source is the soldiers who actually fought the Germans, as they all invariably say that they were accomplished and difficult to beat opponents and they should rightly be considered authorities on the matter. Granted historians have a more complete view and the benefit of retrospect but don't forget that they too spread the view that the Germans were a formidable fighting force, regardless of the leadership failures that hindered them.

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TFatseas
If it is a myth as you argue then the source is the soldiers who actually fought the Germans, as they all invariably say that they were accomplished and difficult to beat opponents and they should rightly be considered authorities on the matter. Granted historians have a more complete view and the benefit of retrospect but don't forget that they too spread the view that the Germans were a formidable fighting force, regardless of the leadership failures that hindered them.

I'm not saying that the German Army was easy to beat, or a bunch of unprofessional riff raff. What I'm getting at is why do people hold them in such high regard, beyond that of historical records.

 

The German super soldiers, the invincible Tiger tanks, that kind of stuff.

 

 

I blame Hitler for almost every fault the German army made. So many instances it was often his orders and stubborness that led to failure.

 

Hitlers micro-management of the war, particularity Barbarosssa onward doomed Germany.

 

He had some of the greatest strategists in the German High Command but they tended to be sidelined or die suddenly.

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FullMetal

In general the Germans had superior technology... well trained troops... in most cases tighter bond of brothers (since most squads/soldiers came out of the same area/village instead of randomly arrange squads/units).

 

Yes they lost... yes 'Nazi's' are bad. But I'm convinced that the German Fighting Forces during the Second World War are one of the, if not fiercest, fighting forces the world has ever seen.

 

Just look at how quick they conquered certain nations. Just look at how many soldiers they used against such a huge Red army... just look at their advancements. I mean, you can't just call it luck.

 

 

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