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LostCosmonaut

German Defensive Doctrine on the Eastern Front

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So I found this paper on DTIC; http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a187901.pdf

 

Judging by the abstract and that it was written in 1986, it's probably ridiculously pro-German, but I don't know enough to refute it in detail. Also, I'm curious to know more about German defensive efforts against the Soviet Union in general. I'm guessing they weren't that effective by the end of the war, but they did have earlier successes like 2nd Kharkov. But a lot of that was probably due to Soviet failures as much as the Germans being aryan ubermensch.

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Yeah there were bad mistakes made at 2nd Kharkov. Primarily they didn't protect the flanks of their salient sufficiently and when counterattacked, kept most of their force on the attack rather than preventing encirclement. Relying on that happening seems foolish.

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I'd just like to post this excerpt from the Q&A I posted on my site earlier this year with retired US armor officer Robert Forczyk.

 

Me - You mentioned that too much of the Eastern Front literature is overly pro-German. How much did this bias affect attitudes and doctrine within the US army and the Armor branch during the cold war?

 

Robert Forczyk - The US Army that I served in during the 1980s was in awe of the German Panzer Divisions of 1940-42, in part due to books such as Guderian’s Panzer Leader and von Mellenthin’s Panzer Battles. I read – and still have – US Army studies conducted with the Bundeswehr that tried to develop doctrine to fight the Soviets based upon German WW2 tactics. A lot of US army officers, particularly armor officers, began using German military terminology, such as AuftragstaktikWe had 200,000 troops in Germany then and they were our Cold War buddies. Former German tankers were asked to speak to US officers. Of course, all the German wartime atrocities were ignored. The Red Army (our former allies) was painted as the bad guys and German veterans always blamed their defeat on two things – Soviet numbers and Russian mud. All German mistakes were blamed on Hitler and the SS, while ignoring mistakes made by the German Army and its leaders.

 

Since the Soviets were our opponents in the Cold War, we regarded them with suspicion and their wartime memoirs (like Rotmistrov’s) were seen as dishonest. We figured – based upon what the German vets told us – that their tactics were based on numbers. It was only in the late 1980s that we started to get a glimpse that there was more to it than that, as some of the pre-war Soviet doctrine (e.g. Isserson) made its way to the West. In fact, Soviet combined arms doctrine (Deep Battle) in 1936-7 was pretty sophisticated, but the Purge essentially removed its practitioners and left the Red Army with too many amateurs in charge.

 

I’m not biased in favor of the Germans or Soviets. For what it’s worth, I think they were both fighting for despicable causes. I’m biased in favor of the truth, no matter how much that might disturb some folks.

 

 

Edit: Ok, I kinda suck.  After I posted Forcyck's comment I actually started reading the document that LostCosmonaut posted.  In the first page the author says:

 

Second, the shallow knowledge of Western analysts is often based as much on myth as on fact. A major reason for this is that Western knowledge of the Russo-German War has been unduly influenced by the popular memoirs of several prominent German military leaders. While interesting and even instructive to a point, these memoirs suffer from the prejudices, lapses, and wishful remembering common to all memoirs and, therefore, form a precarious foundation on which to build a useful analysis. For example, even though Heinz Guderian's Panzer Leader and F. W. von Mellenthin's Panzer Battles regularly appear on U.S. Army professional reading lists and contain interesting insights into German military operations, each book paints a somewhat distorted picture of the German war against Russia. These distortions are the result of outright exaggeration and misrepresentation (as is common in Guderian's work) or the omission of important qualifying data and contextual background (as is more often the case in Mellenthin's hook).

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