I have been wondering about this a long time and because i know there are some history wonders among you guys. So ill post it here
When looking true history and specific battles against the allies (and in lesser extent the soviets) the germans always had way more casualties and sometimes it seems that victory was easy (now when saying this i do not want to give the impression that the war was a cake walk)
Or let me put it like this, I have read some reports of battles (small scale) of germans defending a village or position and it seems that many times the allies conquered it from the first try. Is it because of superior firepower?
I can understand why the germans lost the war strategically, but tactically?
has anyone a good site about this maybe?
Long story short, I recall a fellow calculating that the average German was worth 2 or 2.5 of their allied counterparts.
Ah, another SPR generation.
To put it lightly, 10 Russians, 4 Americans, and 3 Brits were killed for every 1 German on average. They won almost all battles actually, losing only when high firepower in the form of air power and arty was brought to bear on them. Many battle reports don't tell the whole story, only what they officers want their superiors to hear. Which is better looking:
"We took the village after weak resistance from a lesser number of german troops. Enemy incured heavy losses, and retreated from the village."
"Our brigade took the village after a 4 day battle against an understrength company of mixed German infantry and engineers, only after repeated tank and infantry assaults with artillery and JABO attack. Enemy weapons consisted of rifles, smgs, mgs, and one Pak40. Enemy troops fell back after bitter fighting and took position on a ridge overlooking the town, and are digging in. 50 dead, over 200 wounded. Enemy losses are thought to number 5 dead, 20 wounded, and 10 captured."
Which would you send to your commander?
mmm ok, do you have any good sites you can recommend about combat reports and the like, i find them really hard to find.
Another thing if you look at casualties over the entire war (kinda difficult to find good numbers. Over the internet are different versions) or for the Normandy campain its always higher for the german side then for the allies.
For the record i loved SPR as a movie but at some moments i also was thinking "come on".
aka Killed in First Minute
21st October 2005
Those statistic are HIGHLY misleading. The value of infantry depends on those particular troops training, leadership (of the actual troops, not staff leadership) and moral. German infantry were generally good on all three points. The Russians often had poor training, their leaderships was varied greatly, but their moral was often high. Americans started with poor training, but improved with the war, leadership was good, moral was also good. The British infantry had pretty good training, but poor leadership which resulted in poor moral. The poorer British infantry was a direct result of WWI. The infantry was seen as cannon fodder in England. Its not that the British were afraid to die for their country, but infantry was equated with senseless slaughter. The British had severe pressure on their manpower as it was, and the best and brightest tended to avoid infantry for the RAF, RN, armoured corps, and the most wicked offender of them all, the paratroopers. As a result, infantry had disproportiante amount of the 'unmotivated elements' (for lack of better word) and was starved of it's natural leaders. Getting back to my point: the German infantry tended to be engaged when it had all those good points going for it. Hence its better performance. The fighting in Italy is a good example of this. They actually performed no more than adequately in 1939 and 1940 when their training was at its lowest. When they started to get overrun at the end of the war, this was largely due to the allies greater mobility. They would simply bypass pockets of resistance, and let them sit until, cut off, the were ready to surrender.
Never mess with a drunken Kiwi
3rd January 2007
Although, when it came down to it, the German's true strength was one word... Machinegewher... yes, the MG 42, and the MG 34 where the essence of German small arms tactics offensivley and defensivly, each squad had 2 sections, the MG and the rifle section, if a platoon of Germans set up their Mg's effectivley, they could cover a vast amount of distance. Furthermore,the majority of Germanies late war campaigns (with a few exceptions) where mainly defensive manuvers in terrain which favored defensive action. Ahhh..... but what about the Blitzkreig you ask? well to put it frankly, the german armada of tanks and planes (only on 1 front now) came down out of belgium (around the Maginot Line) like a cannonball and caught the BEF and Circa 1918 French troops completley by surprise, the French came apart at the seams in a month.
Read the Blitzkrieg Myth for an in depth analysis of German tactics in WW2, you won't regret it.
Also, the MGs were the center of the squad fire power. Using tactics birthed in WW1, the Germans realized that it wasn't numbers, but firepower that was important. The GPMG became the standard, being able to do both the job of a LMG and the job of a HMG. Also, the squad rotated around the MG, with the riflemen covering the MG instead of the other way around. These tactics are the same as the ones now taught today in most major western armies.
(I'll speak as to the West, because the war in the East was just an entirely separate experience.) Max Hastings in Overlord says that in combat in Normandy, German landsers always inflicted twice as many casualties as they took; whether attacking or defending, whether outnumbering the enemy or being outnumbered. Now, IMO Hastings has many biases, and one is his breathless admiration for the Wehrmacht's fighting ability. I have no idea what data he used or how he came to his conclusion, but I can accept it, because his opinion is consistent with what I have seen in my reading about the war in Europe.
The elite US infantry units (IMO not so much the British, although perhaps paras and commandos, because the majority of British Army units were shot by the time of Normandy, and just could not sustain many casualties without collapsing) were every bit as good or better than the best the Germans could throw at them.
And IMO if five divisions of US Marines had been made into an autonomous large corps or a small army, and given sufficient motorized capability, and then set free in Europe, they would have shown Patton a few tricks. Not about speed of movement but about speed in and relentlessness of the attack, which would have resulted in speed of movement. The Marines were such fierce and tireless fighters that the SS would have been afraid of the Marines instead of the other way around. I am confident that if word of a massacre of Marines by SS troopers had gotten out, there would have never have been a single SS man taken prisoner afterwards.
But IMO the average German soldier was more than likely a superior fighter to the average Yank or Brit footslogger in Europe. I'm not talking about soldiers in the 700-number designations of German divisions, which were only for garrison or static, fortified defense; or even the 300-designation divisions, which IIRC were also limited in combat effectiveness. I mean the first-line Wehrmacht divisions. Part of this had to do with the high degree of fanaticism in the Wehrmacht, even up to the end. Part had to do with the excellent, long and very tough training the Wehrmacht gave its troops. And part had to do with the tradition of the Wehrmacht and what was expected of its soldiers. Soldats more often had a higher sense of duty than Allied troops, and expected to keep on fighting until they were killed or so badly wounded as to be useless as soldiers. It was usual in the Allied forces for men who were wounded, or units which had come upon some difficult situation, to slack off, because the feeling was they had "done their bit". Germans expected their units to stay in the fight regardless of whether they were surrounded or if they had had staggeringly high casualties.
It was quite common for lower non-coms to take over the command of entire companies, and it was very common for Hauptmanns to command battalions, and even leutnants. German soldiers instinctively came together in kampfgruppe usually made up of remnants of badly mauled regiments or divisions. That would be unusual for the Allies, for Americans at least. Also, the authority of any German officer was recognized by the troops, so that if commanding officers were killed, wounded or missing, it was not unusual for the German soldiers to come under the command of officers from other units. I can just imagine Yanks saying "you're not my officer; I don't take orders from you."
In short, the average German soldier was a soldier and acted like one: the Yanks and Brits were bankers and mechanics and farmers who had been drafted, and no one would mistake them for anything else. But they still won, and they had to do it with their rifles and their boots.
To tack on to Jum's point about their training, it is also notable that the Germans trained as tight knit units, unlike the US Army which shuffled soliders all about the place. On the 'USMC rules' section of the thread, I recall reading in WW2 Magazine that a German surviver attributated the average Germans increased effectiveness to the rigourus training, which IIRC he described as "Comparable to elite Allied units, like the Marine Corp." And as much as I love the idea of the Corp tearing ass around Europe, I doubt it would of been possible with out a good deal of extra training. They were used to brutal hand to hand jungle fighting of a few battalions at a time, not the massive scale of the war in Europe. Also, an extra 5 divisons would be pretty damn hard to come by.
Another common tactic for the Germans was to fight and then withdraw. Standard German tactic was to lay down large volume of fire, withdraw, and counterattack.
Veteran Allied troops who took a objective knew the Germans always counterattacked to hope to drive out the Allies before they could consolidate their new gains and get organized.
The quality of German troops also depends largely with what time period. As the war progressed unit training and the quality of recruits decreased. Even SS units were not as effective by 1945 as they were in 1942.
And it didnt help the Allies that the majority of German infantry equipment was better than what the Allies had. You be suprised at how much late WW2 and post war US and Brit equipment was influenced by the Germans.
IIRC the German infantry squads were based around the big MG. That is why German and US infantry level MG's were designed for high volume of fire with short bursts.
The USMC did not start WW2 as trained jungle fighters, tehy learned the old fashioned way. Through trail and experience, blood and sweat.
Also moving five divisions of US Marines to Europe would have moved pretty much all the USMC to Europe.