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Operation Bagration Discussion

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe February 1943 to End of War' started by O.M.A., Jul 17, 2013.

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  1. O.M.A.

    O.M.A. Active Member

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    I've been doing some reading recently, and have gotten into the russian front. A lot of focus is put on the two so called turning point battles, like Stalingrad and Kursk, but not as much emphasis is placed upon Bagration, and how ridiculously catastrophic this action was to the Third Reich.

    It was a massive operationional success, taking back huge swaths of territory, encircling & shaterring huge bumbers of German formations (most estimate german losses at half a million men killed or captured!), and killing or capturing a large number of German Divisional and Corps commanders involved. Ths significance of this curbstomping cannot be understated. Stalingrad and Kursk were obviouisly massive setbacks, but Bagration was such a huge catastrophy the Russian advance was only stopped by their own supply issues, rather than German resistance.

    In just 2 months starting in late June, '44, the Soviets pushed back almost the entire front about 200 miles. What magnified the German losses what the large proportion of entire formations encircled and simply swallowed up by the onslaught. Guaranteeing that the most experienced and capable soldiers and officers were lost. The very best squad, platoon, & company commanders were just gone, with no ability to refit a weakened, but experienced unit with replacements.

    The scale of Bagration put the Normandy landings just 15 days prior to it's launch to shame. I can't imagine what the despair of the OKH must have been like: The Normady landing on June 6th, the July 20 attempt on Hitler's life, and then Bagration debacle staring on June 22, (notably the anniversay or the German invasion in 1941.)

    My line of inquiry has two areas.

    1) Am I overasting Bargration? I'm sure the Germans didn't feel positive about the outcome of the war prior to Bagration, but Germany's loss would have been undeniable to anyone afterward.

    2) What are the best books you've read on the topic? The sheer scale of Bagration seems to be a very difficult topic to tackle for any author. Who has done it best?

    [​IMG]
    Abandoned vehicles of the german 9th army at a road near Titowka/Bobruisk (Belarus)

    [​IMG]
    German POWs in Moscow, - Mid July, 1944. The russians symbolically washed down the streets after the 50,000+ prisoners marched by.
     
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  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I recall reading Ziemke, Glanz,Zaloga, Bergström ( air battles ),Zhukov memoirs, I guess those are the best. Also Stalin´s revenge by Tucker-Jones which was not that bad, easy to read.
    Destruction of Army Group Center?! Zhukov´s dream come alive. If you consider the German losses altogether since early 1943 to the end of summer 1944 ( Stalingrad,Africa,Normandy,Kursk,Crimea,Leningrad etc etc) it is amazing they could still gather troops to hold onto the fronts...
     
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  3. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    A lot of late war campaign fades away in popular, national memory. The Soviet Bagration and Vistula-Oder, and US-UK-Canadian-French Rhineland Campaigns are kind of obscure in spite of their importance and scale. Perhaps the gigantic margin of superiority the Allies enjoyed and the perception that the victory was inevitable at this point had something to do with it.
     
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  4. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Bagration stands out from several distinct factors

    First amount of maskirovka - strategic deception - by Red Army fooled Germans about location of attack and contributed its later sucess greatly due to surprise effect.

    Soviet strike and deep penetration behind enemy lines once front was torn apart showed clearly that boot was now at other foot and Russians are as good if not better than Germans of 1941 in combined arms tactics and deep mechanized warfare with fast manuevers.

    Hitler's standart "No Retreat ! Hold Your Ground" dogma also helped Red Army a lot and contributed its sucess. Hitler's "fortress" mentality holding fortress town orders doomed huge numbers of Germans. Once Red Army broke through Army Group Center front these so called "fortresses like Bialystok , Minsk , Lvov were bypassed by Soviet Shock Armies and isolated. Huge number of German troops forced to garrison these towns were forced to surrender and multiplied number of German prisoners captured.

    Red Army success in speed and deep maneuvering behind enemy rear was also due to huge numbers of US prodeced Ford trucks and Stud transport vehicles given to Russians with Lend Lease.

    Russian partizans created a great amount of chaos behind Army Group Center especially by sabotaging railroads and attacking transport routes and logistical/communication hubs just before offensive started. Red Air Force Aviation also contributed German transport troubles by attacking roads and transport routes with huge numbers of tactical ground support aircraft. IL-2 showed its value in supporting ground troops and striking behind enemy lines.
     
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  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Interesting for the Finnish point of view is that Hitler let the Kuhlmey´s led Stukas with FW 190´s help the Finnish battle against the Red Army starting June 9th 1944, and definitely Hitler would have needed those planes himself but decided that keeping Finland fighting was more important at the time.

    http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=11508
     
  6. O.M.A.

    O.M.A. Active Member

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    Helpful response sir! It was clear to me the maskirovska was done to better effect than ever before, as were the deep Blitzkrieg style strikes, and heavy partizan activity. I read that even some german pockets were reduced by mainly partizan forces.

    Was the Hitler fortress mentality anything new though? It seemed that mentality was prevalent throughout the war, creating many encirclement situations for German troops. Not the least of which was Stalingrad.
     
  7. Hawkerace

    Hawkerace Member

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    I would imagine there is more emphasis on Stalingrad or Kursk due to romanticized plausibilities for these campaigns, depending on perspective, said battles could go either way in terms of a victor. That's how I would rationalize and view popularity of specific battles.

    Also keep in mind, these two battles, Stalingrad and Kursk were pretty debut in terms of strategy and technology, on scales larger, more brutal than the years prior. Symbolism is heavy in battles that are remembered more than the others.


    Though, none of this makes any battle more or less important to read and learn about, I guess most people don't appreciate the finer "arts" like we do.
     
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  8. Otto

    Otto Gearing up. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Interesting discussion. Bagration has always been a keen interest of mine, mostly I guess because of the payback factor. Brutal Blitzkrieg coming back against the ones that invented it.
     
  9. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    IMHO,the importance of the Maskirovka is much exaggerated (people always are falling for spy stories),the same for Adolf's refusal to retreat;the simple fact is that the bzgration desaster was caused by the overwhelming Siviet superiority .

    Some figures (source : The Dupuy Institute and Germany and WWIII)

    Strength on the EasternFront in june 1944:

    Manpower : Germany : 2.62 million SU:7.38 million

    Tanks : Germany :1192 operational SU: 6496

    StuG : Germany :1369 SU:2569


    Artillery : Germany : ? SU:50000


    Strength on the sector of Bagration:

    manpower :Germany : 0.486 million SU :1.254 million


    tanks : Germany :85 SU : 2715

    StuG:Germany : 452 SU :1355

    Artillery : Germany :3216 SU:24.383



    Force ratio:

    Manpower : Eastern Front : 35/100 Bagration : 38/100

    Tanks: Eastern Front : 18/ 100 Bagration : 3 /100

    StuG: Eastern Front : 53/100 Bagration :30/100

    Artillery : Eastern Front :? Bagration :12 /100
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Losses :
    Germany :399.102

    KIA: 26.397
    WIA:109.776
    MIA:262.929 (of which 150.000 POW,the othes probably being dead)

    SU : 770.888

    Dead and missing :180.040

    Wounded:590.848
     
  11. O.M.A.

    O.M.A. Active Member

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    Clear the Russians took their share of the beating, as was usual in their battles, and the losses to germany were of a much higher importance. 400,000 gone out of 2.6 million total is a huge amount! What was very different here I think is that the Stalin achieved large offensive goals, not just defensive stands like Stalingrad and Kurks.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Still the Maskirovka made Hitler transfer the panzers to the south leaving the AGC protection to the infantry mainly..As I recall it...

    "The Soviets also carried out a masterful deception campaign to convince the Germans that the main Soviet summer offensive would be launched further south, against Army Group North Ukraine. The German High Command was fooled and armored units were moved south out of Army Group Centre. The massive Soviet buildup opposite Army Group Centre was not detected."

    Some say that Field Marshal Ernst Busch was too weak to hold onto his armor and this led to the disaster, then again it is not known for sure if the armor in the south would have been destroyed as well in the battle and was saved as it was in the south...
     
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  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Found more details on this:

    "Hitler and OKH were convinced that the next attack would be launched in the northern Ukraine, and reinforcements to the east — including the potent 56th Panzer Corps — were diverted to Field Marshal Walter Model’s Army Group North Ukraine, leaving Busch’s Army Group Center with only about 11 percent of the tanks and assault guns allocated to the Eastern Front."

    http://www.historynet.com/operation-bagration-soviet-offensive-of-1944.htm
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The following is from "Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg" Volume VIII P 601

    About the reasons of the collaps of AGC:

    Die falsche Feindlagebeurteilung


    Diese Ursache,auf die im Rahmen der deutschen Feindaufklärung bereits eingegangen wurde,ist in den meisten bisherigen Darstellungen UBERSCHATZT worden .Selbst wenn der sowjetische Operationsplan der deutsche Führung vorher in die Hände geraten wäre,so hätte dies nichts an der unvermeidlichen Niederlage geändert .Die sowjetische Überlegenheit war einfach zu gross.........


    Translation:
    The wrong estimation of the enemy intentions


    This reason............has been overestimated in most past works.Even if the Germans had obtained,before the attack,the soviet plans,this would have changed nothing on the unevitable defeat .The soviet superiority was simply to big .


    1) The Germans had no mobile reserve on the east front.

    2)The mobile divisions of the Ostheer were blocked elsewhere

    3)If these divisions had been withdrawned,the result would be that elsewhere the front would collaps:if the mobile divisions of AG North Ukraine had been deplaced,AGNU would have collapsed.

    As such,the importance of the Maskirova is less than marginal,as was Hitlers refusal for a general retreat of AGC.
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    From "German OOB in june 1944 in the east" at The Dupuy Institute Forum :


    On 15 june 1944,Germany had 18 PzD in the East,10 stationed at AGNU,most of them to save Hube's army .

    Only 2 of these 18 PzD were fully replenished (4 Pz and 5 Pz),4 were in Germany for rebuilding and were not capable for any type of combat .,2 others had each less than 5 tanks .

    2 divisions (5 and 20 ) were ordered to go to AGC on 15 june (probably because there were informations about a Soviet attack)but had not arrived on 22 june .
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Seems like according to figures old Adolf should have surrendered a long time ago... ;) ;)
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I recall something like to make a successful penetration through the enemy lines you need at least locally some 3-5:1 superiority in men etc. So you have to have anyway remarkable amount of troops in at least one culmination point, even if the enemy is unaware where you make your strike.

    I also recall reading that the Germans in Finland taught the Finns when helping with the new panzerschrecks etc in 1944 that stopping a Russian offensive you need to destroy ca 1,000 tanks. Does not seem like that here with Bagration if you have 6,000+ tanks.
     
  18. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    A reminder: Bagration was the single largest German defeat of WW2. The complete destruction of army group centre and the decimation of the 3rd, 4th and 9th armies can't be overlooked.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I guess I'm something of a traditionalist but I susepct the aforementioned armies were more than decimated as that originally meant reduced by 10%.
     
  20. yswo

    yswo Member

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    I just posted sim question and then saw this post http://www.ww2f.com/topic/56645-english-books-on-bagration/#entry628862 - btw this is a pretty good documentary on Bagration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6UkVl3ZFuI have watched it many times - its made for broader audience who probably know much less about WWII then people reading this but still pretty good
     

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