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Posted: 2/4/2006 8:41:46 PM EDT
I'm curious as to what made the German Army of WWII so unstoppable? Did they have amazing leadership in their commanders (not so much in Hitler, who was practically batshit looney)? Were their Blitzkrieg tactics previously unheard of?

I'm no fan of Nazis, but I respect the power of their military at the time. However...it cost so, so many lives to stop their aggression.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:42:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 8:42:43 PM EDT by TheRedHorseman]
they used world war two tactics on armies that were using world war one tactics in defense.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:43:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:
they used world war two tactics on armies that were using world war one tactics in defense.



Which was to sit in a trench and wait it out, while the Germans rolled over them with combined air, artillary, and ground assaults, right?
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:44:27 PM EDT
Yeah, pretty much.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:44:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 8:46:33 PM EDT by Lightning_P38]
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:45:27 PM EDT
Was their any one person who devised this new strategy? Or did a group of generals pretty much have a round-table talk and realize there was a better way than sitting in trenches?
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:46:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



Obviously they were stopped, but not after swallowing up almost all of Europe and taking a multitude of nations to bring them down....
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:46:06 PM EDT
Our supply line was about 4000 miles long. The logistics of that war, using that equipment was astounding.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:46:47 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:46:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:47:05 PM EDT
Improved tanks and infantry vehicles made a combined arms strategy possible.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:47:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 8:48:06 PM EDT by TravisM1]
Obviously not, but the fact still remains that until the US got involved, the Russians were the only real "obstacle" in the German's way. ETA- The russians had manpower on their side, not the technology or tactics.
Had the US not entered the European Theatre, thus forcing the Germans into a two-front war, its hard to tell what would have happened.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:47:54 PM EDT
Two words...
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The French
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:48:38 PM EDT

I suppose innovative technology and small-unit tactics, combined with generals who knew what they were doing. But keep in mind that a lot of german units in 1939 and early 40s still used horses. The Panzers were cool, but there were a lot of geman units that didn't have any fancy armor, and still used WW1 rifles. Of course with an MG-42 in a squad, the liability of a bolt-action rifleman weapon was less, but still.


So it worked - right up to the point where the ran into someone who was more ruthless and numerous than them (Russians) or who could out-manufacture them (Americans), and then the (nazi) party was over.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:49:55 PM EDT
The German tactics and equiptment were amazing for the time. Germany invented modern warfare. Speed and violence of action.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:50:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Progunvoter:
Two words...
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The French



dammit, beat to it.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:52:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable



And let's not forget that it took the combined strength of the United States, England, French Free Forces, Canada, Australia, Russia and several smaller allies to defeat the Germans.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:54:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable



And let's not forget that it took the combined strength of the United States, England, French Free Forces, Canada, Australia, Russia and several smaller allies to defeat the Germans.



Do you think if Hitler hadn't broken his pact and focused entirely on the Western front, all of Europe would be speaking German?
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:55:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable



And let's not forget that it took the combined strength of the United States, England, French Free Forces, Canada, Australia, Russia and several smaller allies to defeat the Germans.




I could definitely be wrong, but I believe that the Soviets could have done it on their own. Once they got their production going behind the urals, and the winter decimated the Germans, the Russians just started rolling them up - and I don't think there was anything the germans could do to stop them

Obviously the Russians got a lot of aid from the U.S., and obviously the pressure on the Western Front took a lot of pressur off. It would have taken a lot longer, and the Soviets would have paid a hell of a price, but I think it is possible they could have done it one their own on the ground.

But they could NOT have done it without allied daylight bombing.


So I guess I just convinced myself that you are right after all.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:56:57 PM EDT
totenkopf
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:57:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:58:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 9:00:02 PM EDT by Spade]
On the ground, the Germans basically invented

a)tanks supported by infantry (most everybody did it the other way around). In open field combat the most tanks wins. This is also why vastly inferior German tanks (and they were at the start) could defeat much better English and French tanks.

b)the idea of each small unit having it's own mobile MG (compare their MG's to, say, our 1919) supported by rifles and using fire and manuever tactics. Which is what every decent army still uses today.


The Germans also (despite some writings to the contrary) were big on JO's and NCO's having a lot of decision making power. Guys "on the ground" could slightly alter the plan to fit what was in front of them. Few armies did that back then.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:59:09 PM EDT
Did Italy ever play a huge factor in the war? Or were they more of a "me too" component that didn't add much to the German mix of war?
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:59:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 9:00:42 PM EDT by eye_spy]

Originally Posted By motown_steve:
The German tactics and equiptment were amazing for the time. Germany invented modern warfare. Speed and violence of action.



BLITZKRIEG!


Something like your shock and awe nowadays ....
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 8:59:47 PM EDT
three words:


Spear

Of

Destiny
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:00:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:
they used world war two tactics on armies that were using world war one tactics in defense.



+1

the germans, who "lost" WWI LEARNED--they took what worked and through developments in new tactics, newer technologies, and speed, they owned everyone.....for a while

till hitler, overconfident in his non-existant tactical planning screwed himself over by attacking GB w/ out finishing her and then attacking russia w/ psycho stalin to piss off

the shiefiled (?) plan utilized by the germans in WWI (was never taken to its potential--the plan was for the germans to rush through Fr and hold the line then take out russia,b but it turned into trench warfare) was implemented in "blizkriege" and worked in WWII

Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:01:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Beltfedleadhead:
three words:


Spear

Of

Destiny




Hahaha .... so the stories say ....
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:07:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Did Italy ever play a huge factor in the war? Or were they more of a "me too" component that didn't add much to the German mix of war?



The Italians did a lot of hard fighting in Africa.

Couple things

1)The Italians were not at all respected by the Germans. The Germans were better equipped and better trained, and looked down on the Italians.

2)A lot of Italians felt that they were on the wrong side of the war, especially once the US joined. This is why Italy folded so quickly once we invaded Sicily. Most fighting was done against Germans. The Italians themselves welcomed the Americans by and large, especially since WW2 happened after a large Italian immigration to the US [when my Sicilian ancestors came over]. A lot of Italians knew Americans.

Since a lot of the Italian fighting was done in North Africa, and North Africa is largely forgotten (I'm a military historian, and I'm ashamed of the gaps in my knowledge of those operations), nobody remembers.


For two interesting histories that are little known in WW2, read up on the Italians involvement and the Polish.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:09:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 9:13:44 PM EDT by Jerret]

Originally Posted By roboman:
Did Italy ever play a huge factor in the war? Or were they more of a "me too" component that didn't add much to the German mix of war?



Italy actaully hurt the Germans. They were to take over the Balkans by themselves, but Greece kicked their ass. Hitler then invaded the balkans to help in his invasion of the Soviet Union, it took 6 extra weeks. 6 weeks earlier that may have been crucial to defeat the Soviet Union before Winter.

and I forgto Africa, Italy was supposed to take over northern Africa. hitler sent Germans down to help, but they were soon fighting on another front, because of the italians inability to defeat a much smaller British force.

Italy has also invaded Southern France right before they surrendered, and even the French held them back.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:10:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
Improved tanks and infantry vehicles made a combined arms strategy possible.



Add in a high level of training for the individual German soldier. IIRC the German Army had a high level of professionalism in their officers.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:14:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 9:14:39 PM EDT by roboman]

Originally Posted By Jerret:

Originally Posted By roboman:
Did Italy ever play a huge factor in the war? Or were they more of a "me too" component that didn't add much to the German mix of war?



Italy actaully hurt the Germans. They were to take over the Balkans by themselves, but Greece kicked their ass. Hitler then invaded the balkans to help in his invasion of the Soviet Union, it took 6 extra weeks. 6 weeks earlier that may have been crucial to defeat the Soviet Union before Winter.

and I forgto Africa, Italy was supposed to take over northern Africa. hitler sent Germans down to help, but they were soon fighting on another front, because of the italians inability to defeat a much smaller British force.

Italy has also invaded Southern France right before they surrendered, and even the French held them back.



Rommel was the general that made it hell for British and American forces in northern Africa, right? The "Desert Fox".
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:17:33 PM EDT
I'm suprised no one said radio's. The German's had better information on the battlefield. That will always give the advantage, you can mass your energy where you need it.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:19:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By eye_spy:

Originally Posted By Beltfedleadhead:
three words:


Spear

Of

Destiny




Hahaha .... so the stories say ....



Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:21:11 PM EDT
Yup.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:27:08 PM EDT
Roboman, try reading a couple of books for crying out loud.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:27:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 9:30:33 PM EDT by motown_steve]

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable



And let's not forget that it took the combined strength of the United States, England, French Free Forces, Canada, Australia, Russia and several smaller allies to defeat the Germans.



Do you think if Hitler hadn't broken his pact and focused entirely on the Western front, all of Europe would be speaking German?



There's a damn good chance of it. If Hitler had invaded and secured England before invading Russia then I believe that history would be very different today. Now, invading and securing England would not have been a small task, but if the German Army and the Luftwaffe had not been divided on two fronts then it would have been within their means. It would also have made US involvement in the war in Europe almost impossible. The Krauts would have been able to partol the entire Atlantic, and possibly forced us to withdrawl from Iceland and North Africa.

I don't believe that a German invasion of North America across the Atlantic would have been possible at the time (and vice versa), so if England had fallen then the US and Germany would have had to come to some sort of settlement. The Nazis could have then redeployed their forces to the east, invaded Russia and been in Moscow well before they knew how cold the Russian winters get.

The war in the Pacific would have been over much more quickly though, since the US would have been able to re-deploy most of it's Atlantic fleet to the Pacific and all of it's Army. I think that the US would have still been forced to develop the bomb prior to the invasion of Japan and Germany would have completed their own nuclear bomb as well (as I understand it they were pretty close before the end of the war). The cold war would have been between Nazi Germany and the United States, and if Hitler had been the one with the nukes instead of Kruschev then it is almost certain that there would have been a nuclear war between the US and Germany. Since the Germans were much farther along than the US was with jets and rockets I think we would have been at a severe disadvantage.

Those are my late night, off the cuff theories anyways.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:27:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HennyBogan:
Roboman, try reading a couple of books for crying out loud.



Just asking a few questions.....
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:32:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Was their any one person who devised this new strategy? Or did a group of generals pretty much have a round-table talk and realize there was a better way than sitting in trenches?



Well, sitting in trenches was pretty much made redundant by the British at Cambrai in 1917. "We have these things called "Tanks". They can get to enemy trenches, and then cross them"

If there's any one person who invented the Blitzkrieg, it was a British general by the name of Liddel-Hart. His ideas didn't find much favour in the UK, partly because of his politics, which were rather extreme. They did, however, find favour with the Germans and Russians, which held joint wargames in the 1930s to develop the technique. (It particularly provided the opportunity for the Germans since theoretically they had no tanks at the time). The first users of the modern war doctrine of speed, massed armour, and combined arms were... The Russians: They absolutely whipped Japanese ass in the mid 1930s, and gave the Japanese such a drumming that the latter decided that opening a second front against the Russians was probably not a good idea, no matter how much Hitler wanted it. If there's any one German that could have been said to have taken Liddel-Hart's ideas and run with them, it would likely be Guderian.

Combined with the excellent strategic point of view, at the lower level, the Germans had great faith in the concepts of shared information and low-level decisionmaking. The radios have already been mentioned. The decision-making, "Auftragstaktik" has probably never been equalled before or since. Some, such as the Americans, had a 'lite' variant of it already. Most Western armies after the war took on the concept, although of late American military journals are lamenting the fact that Auftragstaktik is now falling out of favour in the US Army.

The equipment such as laymen would look at them wasn't particularly fantastic. The German tanks weren't as good as their opponents on an individual level, for example. What made the difference was they way they were used: En-masse, with supporting assets always close by.

NTM
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:35:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By TheRedHorseman:

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Appearantly they weren't that unstoppable.



it was only when we started using their tactics and our massive production capacity against them that they stopped being unstoppable



And let's not forget that it took the combined strength of the United States, England, French Free Forces, Canada, Australia, Russia and several smaller allies to defeat the Germans.



Do you think if Hitler hadn't broken his pact and focused entirely on the Western front, all of Europe would be speaking German?



There's a damn good chance of it. If Hitler had invaded and secured England before invading Russia then I believe that history would be very different today. Now, invading and securing England would not have been a small task, but if the German Army and the Luftwaffe had not been divided on two fronts then it would have been within their means. It would also have made US involvement in the war in Europe almost impossible. The Krauts would have been able to partol the entire Atlantic, and possibly forced us to withdrawl from Iceland and North Africa.

I don't believe that a German invasion of North America across the Atlantic would have been possible at the time (and vice versa), so if England had fallen then the US and Germany would have had to come to some sort of settlement. The Nazis could have then redeployed their forces to the east, invaded Russia and been in Moscow well before they knew how cold the Russian winters get.

The war in the Pacific would have been over much more quickly though, since the US would have been able to re-deploy most of it's Atlantic fleet to the Pacific and all of it's Army. I think that the US would have still been forced to develop the bomb prior to the invasion of Japan and Germany would have completed their own nuclear bomb as well (as I understand it they were pretty close before the end of the war). The cold war would have been between Nazi Germany and the United States, and if Hitler had been the one with the nukes instead of Kruschev then it is almost certain that there would have been a nuclear war between the US and Germany. Since the Germans were much farther along than the US was with jets and rockets I think we would have been at a severe disadvantage.

Those are my late night, off the cuff theories anyways. hr


I don't think so. Had Hitler left the Eastern front alone and not invaded Russia, Stalin still would have moved in taken his army west. Besides the fact that he never trusted the Nazis to keep their word (extremely paranoid), he wanted all of Europe. Look what he did after WWII.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:52:29 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/4/2006 10:17:29 PM EDT by byron2112]

Originally Posted By Lightning_P38:
Many of the German victories were against nations who were either completely unprepared to fight or were unwilling to fight (France).

The German tactics were completely new, and very good, plus they had well trained disciplined troops. As good as the German leadership was, they made some pretty stupid descisions as well. The Germans had a tendency to underestimate thier enemies and overestimate thier allies.



I pretty much agree with this.

The Germans were so restricted by the treaty that ended WW1 in force size and open development of almost all the weapons that their future adversaries possessed,that they had to concentrate on innovation,quality of leadership and operational execution if they hoped to best the superior forces they would likely face in future...when they were finally able to match their opponents in numbers and weaponry they were that much better.

That said IMO the biggest thing was the unwillingness of the west to fight and seriously prepare for,and take notice of,the reality of what was comming.They were so concerned with sticking their heads up their asses and avoiding conflict,by the time war was upon them it was too late,Germany was already on top of them.Britain and France were never really in sinc,Britain didn't fully trust France because their high command was in dissaray and had no direction,and that meant the "allies" really failed to develop a cohesive plan to defend against the Germans,much less stop them.

If they had taken the threat of Hitler seriously,faced reality and gotten their leadership on the same page I really think they could have halted the Germans by living up to their word they gave Poland and putting real pressure on the Germans when they invaded that country...even with outdated tactics.

Instead they declared war and did basically nothing but sit back in a "phoney" war and give Hitler several months to refit and improve his positioning around the continent to utilize the full power of the German military machine in the invasion of France.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 9:58:17 PM EDT
As mentioned, blitzkrieg had its roots at the tactical level in small unit stormtroop tactics developed in WWII, plus the mixture of tanks, trucks, airplanes, and radio. Liddle-Hart and Guderian (who was a radio officer in WWI) and others developed the theory in the interwar years. The Soviets were actually quite advanced from a theory standpoint, but the purges before WWII pretty much wiped out the officer corps, so it's unknown if they could have executed on the theory.

Trucks are underrated as a factor. Trucks created the ability to do deep exploitation of up to a couple hundred miles without rail support.

The Germans had exceptional small unit training and excellent doctrine at the operational level. The Germans were the largest non-Soviet country, so the combination of size and proficency was tough to beat.

Minus Barbarosa, the German invasion of the Soviets, and minus Pearl Harbor, the Germans would probably have taken Egypt and perhaps the mideast in 1942-43. The UK in Egypt was supplied by convoys going around Africa, a very long supply line. Likely Stalin would have tried to invade Germany eventually, but the timeline on that is uncertain.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:17:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The Soviets were actually quite advanced from a theory standpoint, but the purges before WWII pretty much wiped out the officer corps, so it's unknown if they could have executed on the theory.




I think their experience in Finland shows that with the purges the Soviets could not have.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:20:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By byron2112:

That said IMO the biggest thing was the unwillingness of the west to fight and seriously prepare for,and take notice of,the reality of what was comming.
If they had taken the threat of Hitler seriously,faced reality and gotten their leadership on the same page I really think they could have halted the Germans by living up to their word they gave Poland and putting real pressure on the Germans when they invaded that country...even with outdated tactics.
Instead they declared war and did basically nothing but sit back in a "phoney" war and give Hitler several months to refit and improve his positioning around the continent to utilize the full power of the German military machine in the invasion of France.




Yeah. In Rise and Fall of the Third Reich it's pointed out that when the Germans moved into the Rhineland, they had orders to fall back if they met any resistance.

Also, German officers are quoted as saying during the invasion of Poland they were seriously afraid of a French/English invasion from the West, as they had next to nothing on that border.

The French/English could've ended it right there. English politicians and a French unwillingness to fight.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:23:41 PM EDT
They also attacked countries that were VERY ill preapred for war.

The germans were making brand new - and cutting edge equipment. The rest of europe was still digging out of the depression of the 30s. They were simply out matched in all areas. The Blitzkreig was a new and very effective tactic too.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:26:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Was their any one person who devised this new strategy? Or did a group of generals pretty much have a round-table talk and realize there was a better way than sitting in trenches?



I forget his name, but the blitzkrieg was devised by one of the lower ranking members of the German general staff. Hitler was the one who liked it, and overruled the more senior members of the german staff, who wanted to fight a more traditional war. The biggest advancement of blitzkrieg was the use of combined arms in a strike aimed at the enemy's rear. France actually had more tanks, with heavier armor, than the germans, but split them up among the infantry so there was no massed tank force to meet the germans at any one point. In addition, the germans had superior radio and could coordinate at great distances among formations, meaning they could assign diverse targets and overwhelm the enemy. In the end, the German army was not so much beaten as it was overwhelmed by the combined industrial power of the USA and Russia. At the end of the war, the German army still had the best casualty ratio of the war, their armor could cut ours to pieces, and they had operational jet fighters years before we did. The Allies simply put more Mustangs, Thunderbolts, and T-34s in the theater than the Germans could deal with.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:27:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mister44:
They also attacked countries that were VERY ill preapred for war.

The germans were making brand new - and cutting edge equipment. The rest of europe was still digging out of the depression of the 30s. They were simply out matched in all areas. The Blitzkreig was a new and very effective tactic too.



Well, the tanks that Germany invaded Poland and France with were, basically, crap. They were intended as training tanks (German generals had been told the war was going to start in the mid-40's). They were just used very well. They still lost a good number in Poland and France.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 10:34:03 PM EDT
It really is pathetic.

They had innumurable chances to check this thing before it got out of their control.

The reoccupation of the Rhineland you mentioned...even the existence of the Luftwaffe.

The Czechs were prepared to stand and fight before the west sold them out.

They just refused to face reality to a rediculous extent...till it was too late.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 11:08:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Pangea:
Our supply line was about 4000 miles long. The logistics of that war, using that equipment was astounding.




Yep. Sending Boston Creme Pies halfway around the world to a private at the front.



pwnt
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 11:27:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Was their any one person who devised this new strategy? Or did a group of generals pretty much have a round-table talk and realize there was a better way than sitting in trenches?



Heinz Guderian



Link Posted: 2/4/2006 11:27:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:
The German tactics and equiptment were amazing for the time. Germany invented modern warfare. Speed and violence of action.



Yep, they understood the importance of mechanizing their forces. Without it their Blitzkreig (1940's version of "Shock and Awe") wouldn't have been possible. As was stated, their adversaries were fighting the last WW and expecting fire and movement and nasty trench warfare. The Germans didn't just invade, they rolled the countries over and flattened them. The world was totall unprepared. Motives aside, it's still an impressive feat... Sorta like if Kalifornia were 4000 miles away and able to stomp on half of the US before we could stop them.
Link Posted: 2/4/2006 11:30:12 PM EDT
All the speed helped too.

Hitler was a speed freak and had amphetamines passed out.

Explains a lot of the behavior.
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