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How was it that russia defeated the worlds strongest military at the time ( germany )

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe February 1943 to End of War' started by Sloniksp, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    I'm not sure about not being afraid to die, but as Stalin once said, 'it takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army.'

    Which was at least true up until Stalingrad.
     
  2. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Stefan, the correct quote is slightly worse than that. 'It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army.'
     
  3. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    That's the one Rodinu, thanks for correcting me. Interesting sentiment though, not sure how true it was late in the war (as the role of Kommissars and Zagradotyradi (that the right conjugation?) declined.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    In the book Ivan´s war there is a mention of some kind of war fatigue once the soldiers left the "old border" behind in 1944 but still the revenge seeking helped them keep on fighting.

    Anyway, must admit that one of the things that really makes me "shiver" is the "Soviet reconnaissance parties" that created havoc behind Germans lines all through the war. And the soldiers in these groups knew they were volunteers to die. There were tanks of 2-3 + some infantry maybe that got through the lines and kept on destroying anything valuable to Germans until they were destroyed themselves. Even if the troop and tank numbers were small they sure caused alot of pain and panic to the Germans.

    [ 27. November 2006, 06:34 AM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
     
  5. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    The Kesselslacht is hugely based on the mental aspect of it. You surround the opponent, hammer him with what you've got and await the opponents march in with white flags. In Western Europe this roping off technique worked well, but Ivan didn't want or could surrender. I guess it was a question of a Soviet bullet in the back or a German in the front.

    The Germans was thus faced with the prospect of destroying the Kessel. This was both time consuming, and made the mobile units fight rather than keep on pushing.

    Many times I have argued that the Blitzkrieg doctrine was the shortest lived ever. 1939-1940 thats it.
     
  6. Marienburg

    Marienburg Member

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    Greetings all,

    interesting replies to the question. Can't say I agree with the majority of them. Germany came mightily close to defeating the Soviet Union - I definitely don't agree with the idea that Germany was doomed from the time it crossed the River Bug. Until December Germany held the intitiative and defeated the Russians in practically every engagement. Despite the Russian superiority in numbers. Russian soldiers definitely fought more strongly than many of the Germans had predicted but they weren't superhuman fighters. They too suffered from the cold later on and neither were they all the indomitable scrappers who insisted on "take a German with you". Over three million surrendered during the 1941 Barbarossa campaign. To put this into perspective, on June 22, 1941 Russian forces numbered less than three million; their casualty rate (killed/wounded/captured/missing) was well over 100%! The Russians lost, lost and kept losing - and losing BIG TIME, until December.

    So what changed in December to allow the Russians to counterattack right on the doorstep of Moscow? A number of things had changed since the launch of Barbarossa back in June. Certainly the Russians were fighting better than they had at the beginning. They were now defending their capital, which usually stirs patriotism, something that was far less in evidence at the beginning of the campaign. Stalin is the greatest mass-murderer in all of history and most Russians, while they would never state this publicly back then, knew it and cared nothing for the tyrant. Many saw the Germans as saviors. By December they knew better; the atrocities that followed in the wake of the German conquest were now well known and so there less illusions about who the common Russian should support. Better the devil you know ...

    By the end of 1941 Russian forces had been badly hammered but not entirely defeated. The fall mud certainly held up the German advance and gave the Russians a respite. Mud and winter weather on the East Front was a natural bonus to the defender; in 1945 Germans thought the winter weather would help them more than the Russians in their own defence of their homeland. Also, by this time the Germans were having a very tough time with supply. The Russian front line was now very close to the factories and population centers around their capital and they didn't have to work at restructuring the rail lines to fit their transport.

    Now, this bad weather would not have been as big a factor if Germany had been able to launch Barbaross as originally planned, in May. The campaign against Yugoslavia and Greece, however, ate up precious time and kept German forces from starting the campaign at the beginning of summer. This point is debateable, I admit, as there was still mud in May and to launch the attack in such conditions could well have been disastrous, giving the Russians a chance to meet the attack much closer to the frontiers.

    We should also not forget that what gave the Russians the opportunity to launch a counter-attack in December was their knowledge that Japan was about to advance against the Western Allies in the Pacific. This knowledge allowed the Russians to significantly reduce their forces in the Far East and Siberia and to form these troops, well used to the frightful weather of Siberia, into the reserve that could launch a counter-attack against the depleted German forces when they wasted their effort against the Moscow defences.

    And the Germans were in dire straits by the beginning of December. They had suffered very heavy casualties to date (but far less severe than the Russians) and their supply was becoming increasingly difficult. The cold also hit them far worse than the Russians. No, the Russians didn't have a superhuman tolerance for cold but they were better supplied to deal with the cold. The Germans were still fighting in their summer gear and their vehicles were not designed to handle the plummeting temperatures whereas the Russian had their vehicles designed or modified to function in conditions the Germans hadn't ever thought they would have to be fighting in.

    I don't buy that the Germans were somehow more afraid of the enemy than the Russians were of them. However, they were more afraid of "General Winter" and the psychological effect here must be considered. Everyone at this point was remembering 1812. These memories gave hope (justifiably) to the Russian and worry (to even despair) to the Germans. The Germans were more than a match for the Russians in the summer of 1941. However, in December the Germans were frozen stiff and their weapons and transportation worked erratically at best.

    And then the Russians attacked. I would not have wanted to be a German soldier at this point, freezing from the cold and in poor supply and fearing attack from now well angry patriots defending their homes and ready to avenge the brutal treatment that Germans had meted out in the previous months when they thought they were lords of the world.

    Anyway, that is my rather long discussion of why I think that Russia defeated Germany, or at least how the Russians managed to turn the tide at Moscow in 1941.
     
  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    I agree that without "General Winter" things could have different. Hitler should have read more about Napoleon's Great Army in 1812. Napoleon actually went all the way to Moscow, but he too was defeated by "General Winter". Hitler counted on a Blitzkrieg and expected to reach Moscow before winter. Yet, Russia is much bigger than Poland and France and the low countries. Besides huge territorities were never entirely controlled allowing partisans to take their toll. Another mistake: the Germans were somtimes welcomed as liberators by people who hated the communist, but the Germans despised these new friends and with the exeption of Vlassov volunteers they missed a major chance to win this war which was also psychological. By turning the civilians against Germany, Hitler lost the war in the east as early as 1941.
     
  8. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    It is all in the numbers. Also consider that the frontline expanded as the Germans advanced. So a division's front went from 5km to 40km. No wonder Soviet units could infiltrate the German lines. It was not so much how Russia could defeat but she had help from the Germans themselves
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    True, like I said earlier there were entire territories that were only controlled on paper , but were in fact constantly infiltrated. Morale, political motivations, winter, poor equipment are to be added to this coctail which progressively turned in favor of the Russians.
     
  10. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Interesting, I dont see the " IVAN " anywhere...

    Also everything mentioned aboved, played into the favor of the Germans in the first 18 months on the easter front. The one true thing that the Russians did have in the first 2 years which is mentioned above is Poor Equipment... The morale was low due to huge casualties and constant defeat, same could be said about political motivation which provented the IVAN to retreat.. and believe it or not, the Russians suffered during the winter too, in some cases even worse then the Germans due to the lack of food they had. ;)
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Russians were defending their homes, they knew the territory and their physological warfare was effecient. Last week I received a testimony from a Kurland pocket surviving Fallschimjager. He said that from time to time a Siberian would creep into their trenches and stabbed a sentry during his sleep. He could have killed more, but he just kille done , returned to his trench and let the survivors with a destroyed morale which effect was worse than killing them and that would contaminate the others and give the survivors nightmares even up to today.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Interesting detail from Erhard Raus´" Panzer operations"

    "The speed with which the Russians were able to force their own crossing of the Dnepr was a source of amazement to us. While Army Group South held a Dnepr crossing every 55 kilometers, the Red Army on average possessed one every six kilometers." ( this is ca. Sept 1943 )

    Anyway, no need to ask anymore why the Red Army got over the rivers faster than the Germans, is there...
     
  13. kipoyph

    kipoyph Member

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    You can't be considered the "world's strongest military machine" if you have an idiot-pretending-to-be-soldier as the commander-in-chief.

    At least that's how I see it.
     
  14. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I think I can answer this one simply, directly and to the point...

    The Red Army, Air Force and Navy WERE the "strongest military power at the time".

    Simple as that.

    "God is on the side with the biggest battalions"...(Napolean Bonaparte)
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I would take exception to claiming any nation's armed forces were "the greatest." What is the criteria? Size? Then you a problem when one nation's navy was larger than all the other combatants combined by about a factor or at least 2.

    That is just one example of a largely ambiguous claim that at best cannot be proven, as two of the larger combatants never squared off against each other.
     
  16. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Slipdig...

    I would put it to you that the title of "stongest military force", between Sept 1st 1939 and August 6th 1945 was the Armed forces of the Soviet Union. Criteria is simple...

    Performance.

    No other military/political system on earth could have survived the shock to the system of "Operation Barbarossa". The winner of that particular contest would be the strongest military power in the world.

    This bought time for the U.S. to accelerate it's nuclear programme, the need for which was not envisaged anyway until the situation in Europe clarified itself with the policies of the German Government, 1933 -1945. The "Manhattan Project" ushered in a new political title to the mix....global superpower. The political effects of the brief reign of the Red Army lingered, but it was historically short, from the beginning of Barbarossa til August 6th, 1945....the Cold war beckoned, a new type of war altogether, but just for a brief moment, The Soviet military most certainly claimed the crown.
     
  17. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    IMHO a small country just doesn't go to war with a large country unless you want a long war.
     
  18. Long Bars

    Long Bars Member

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    I think it was a combination of Hitler's poor military decisions, German over extension, the Russian mud and winter, and mainly the tenacity and bravery of the Soviet defenders. The last chance Germany had to win the war was the Battle of Moscow. After that, it was only a matter of time before the final Soviet victory.
     
    Fury 1991 likes this.
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I am new here, but I have found this thread very entertaining.

    If it was lunacy for Germany to invade Russia despite Gremany's best effort, then it was Hitler's fault.

    If Germany lost because of Hitler kept changing his mind, then it was Hitler's fault.

    If Germany lost because the OKW/OKH failed to properly prepare, then it is still Hitler's fault as he was head of state and the invasion of Russia for "living space" was his central political goal.
     
  20. Zeitman

    Zeitman recruit

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    Are you sure about the SS getting the best supplies, equipment, etc? I read somewhere that the Army got the best stuff and the Waffen SS got the leftovers. I don't remember where I read that - could you set me straight on this issue? Thanks
     

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