Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
boredatwork
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Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by boredatwork » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:22 am

My random and not extensively researched opinion as to additional reasons why Germany didn't win the war, beyond simple numerical inferiority and the poor leadership of one individual:

1. Failure to effectively use the resources she had - a) Failure to fully mobilize the country for total war until the war was half over - less than 4,000 AFVs were produced in each of 1939, 40, 41, 42 conversely ~13,000 were produced in 1943, and, at the height of the bombing offensive, ~19,000 in 1944 ( if Germany had produced at least 10,000 in 1940, 41 and 42 would her position have been better off - keeping in mind at this time Britain was still producing post dunkirk emergency crap, the USSR was relocating her industries, and the Americans were still slowly gearing up for War? b) Division and duplication of effort amongst various "private empires" c) Wasting too many resources on overly complex, overly heavy, numerically inferior weapons.

2. Failure to understand their early success and therefore failure to understand the limitations of what their forces could achieve: i.e. the difference of attacking with surprise in a weak area of the front against poorly equiped and led infantry who flee before panzer and stuka attacks vs that same force attacking prepared, well led, high moral forces head on as at Tobruk, Kursk, Alam Halfa, Anzio, etc.

3. Poor logistics planning - planning to use captured allied fuel in the Ardennes was only one of the last of a series of dismal planning failures - Barbarossa for instance was a logistics disaster - or Rommel in the Desert - as spectacular as his victories over the British were they were ultimately futile because he launched his attacks without first ensuring resources would be made available to him to exploit it, or that his supply lines accross the med could be kept secure or the advance into the Caucusus with even longer supply lines, etc.

4. Conversely a failure to disrupt allied logistics and production - Neither the UK, nor Malta, nor Russia, nor Tobruk, nor Crete, nor Dunkirk, nor Stalingrad, nor Leningrad was effectively sealed off from outside assistance. Nor were Russian industries prevented from moving beyond the Urals or substantially bombed once they got there, nor after winter 1940/41 were the UK's.

5. Aggravating #3 was the lack of rational standardization of equipement. The variety of captured equipment pressed into service was stagering and very little of it used interchangeable parts, creating it's own logistics trail. This was compounded by the afforemention duplication of effort, and the tendency to create many understrength units which absorbed a disproportionate amount of resources relative to their combat power instead of keeping existing units at ideal strength levels.

6. Related to #5 - the deterioration of the quality of the armed forces as a whole by the concentration of the best recruits and equipment in a handfull of elite units, depriving the standard units of leadership and materials needed to fight effectively, resulting in heavier casualties, further aggravating the man power shortage.

7.The failure/arrogance to not realize that if they've broken the allied codes that the allies (ULTRA) might be doing the same thing. Consequently many of their operations were compromised before they began.

8. The opposite of #7. - poor operational and strategic intelligence as the war went on - keeping large forces in Calais and Norway for example in response to invasions that never came - basing pre-Bagration strategic planning on the assumption the russians would do what would be best for the Germans and attack in the Ukraine - failure to react to the russians massing on the flanks of Stalingrad, etc.

9. The dilution of too much R&D effort into *vast* numbers of weapons projects at the expense of focussing on projects that had a chance of being completed in time to make usefull contribution to the war effort. Conversely early in the war too many projects were starved of resources delaying their introduction into service.

10. The failure to plan for an extended war led to the luftwaffe being progressively bled dry by being stretched too thin.

11. The over confident mis-judgement of her opponent's resolve and resilience and consequently over optimistic planning that a single campaign (Barbarossa, BoB) would suffice for victory and the failure to develope "Plan B" in the event that it didn't.

12. Related to 11 and 10 - the failure to identify the importance of objectives and consequently the confusion, waffling, and dilution of effort between them (the targets in the BoB, the range of targets for Merkur, the dispersion of forces in Russia, etc)

13. The failure to prepare for the type of terrain and conditions that she found herself operating in - lack of winter clothes or equipment designed for cold weather in Russia for example or the use of tanks in Stalingrad and Warsaw.

14. Failure (in many quarters) to fully appreciate that the advantages Germany enjoyed in 1940 (mobility, communications, training, air support) were all, in 1944, on the other side. For example the difficulty of launching a counter offensive in the face of allied CAS and artillery coordination that surpased what the germans had achieved in 1940 was not evident to those (Guderian, Von Rundstedt) who thought a Panzer reserve could be swiftly concentrated against a beachhead once identified.

15. Poor co-ordination with / and use of allies in missions suitable for their capabilities - you put the Rumanians and Italians on the flanks at Stalingrad, stretch them thin, ignore the warning signs of impending soviet attack - then curse them when they can't hold it back?

16. The alienation of conquered peoples and subsequant waste of resources in anti-partisan opperations.

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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by RF » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:56 am

boredatwork wrote:My random and not extensively researched opinion as to additional reasons why Germany didn't win the war, beyond simple numerical inferiority and the poor leadership of one individual:
But all the sixteen points here are down to a failure of leadership by one individual.

I would add a point seventeen. Failure to properly plan and co-ordinate with the Japanese.
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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:37 am

I would add that with the extremist racist policies the nazis had, a huge lot of German and Central European jewish scientists flocked to England and then to USA. Unwise! Those guys could have given to Hitler THE weapon he was seeking and never got.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:22 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:I would add that with the extremist racist policies the nazis had, a huge lot of German and Central European jewish scientists flocked to England and then to USA. Unwise! Those guys could have given to Hitler THE weapon he was seeking and never got.
..... This discussion brings to mind a book I came across during a visit in the early 80's to "The Military Bookman", a dealer in high quality military history books once located in New York City. The book was "auf deutsch", printed in the late 20's or early 30's. The title of the book in English was (to paraphrase) "Jewish Winners of the Iron Cross in the First World War". It went on for page after page, listing name upon name like a telephone book. I did not buy the book, but have always remembered it as a powerful counter-argument to Nazi allegations of Jewish faithlessness toward Germany.

Byron

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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by VeenenbergR » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:57 am

The list of 16 added by some valuable notes is a brilliant list and pint all at: arrogance, deadly ignorance nad an immense waiste of opportunities (also all coming back to single leadership and a flock of followers). No single man, how intelligent, can forsee all aspects in a mayor war and can work out a perfect plan. Germany was not led intelligent by a group of very brilliant (military) leaders. They all thought rather straightforward and looked mostly at numbers of Panzers, troops and aircraft they could assemble (it is a way of tactical thinking where the Germans excelled) and the resources (mainly oil) they had to reach for. But strategically they did a bad job. They simply failed to understand all the immense opportinities they could have mobilized but instead neglected or spoiled them.

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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by alecsandros » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:38 am

VeenenbergR wrote:
Germany was not led intelligent by a group of very brilliant (military) leaders. They all thought rather straightforward and looked mostly at numbers of Panzers, troops and aircraft they could assemble (it is a way of tactical thinking where the Germans excelled) and the resources (mainly oil) they had to reach for. But strategically they did a bad job. They simply failed to understand all the immense opportinities they could have mobilized but instead neglected or spoiled them.
... It's a rather harsh judgment for a group of people that occupied Europe in 2 years and held most of it for 2 more.

Adolf and the others near him can be accused of many, many things (for good reason), but for not having a strategic perspective, not thinking through the possibilities, and not being (very) bright, is against historical evidence.

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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by VeenenbergR » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:53 pm

Alecsandros. I can understand your argument if looking at what the Germans achieved.

But you also must admit that if the Germans would have sticked to the gains of Middle Europe or followed a more straight path to the oil in the middle East, without occupying a dozen nations OR behaved less arrogant towards the Slavic peoples OR used the Jewish potential within Middle Europe, they would have many more followers to overthrow Stalin or come to terms with Britain.

All those other strategic conditions (the 16 reasons why) have much to do with the war as it evolved: over the whole of Europe, invasion in the SU.
Germany was only ONE strong mayor power that waged war against 4 other mayor powers (USA, BRitain, France and the SU with all their colonies, where Germany had some minor allies). It was perhaps the strongest of those 5 mayor powers but not strong enough to win war against all of them. After conquering France the war could only be succesful if fighting against preferably ONE (and at most TWO) of the remaining powers. Fighting against all THREE of them was simply too much. I will call this main cause A.

Main cause B is then following a flawed strategy: not going for taking KEY objectives like Gibraltar, Malta, Leningrad and later the lack of focus in the drive for Stalingrad and the Caucasus (going for only ONE objective was realistic and could have prevented the disaster that occurred around Stalingrad and Tunesia, which turned out too weaken decisively Germanies military strength (not to speak of the terrible losses of the transport air arm).

The lack of brilliance I accuse them lies more in the lack of will to use all available human and material resources in an intelligent way and not waiste the available resources in arming the less motivated satellite armies, nor developing so many types of armoured vehicles, planes aso. I will call this main cause C.

But most authors also point out that after Britain, the USA and the USSR absorbed the initial assault and the shock their efficient and production, focussed on a limited number of weapon types, started to turn out the huge numbers that overwhelmed the Axis (= German) superior tactical doctrine.
German forces and weapons were constructed to support a Tactical warfare not a strategical one.

The example of the Bismarck perfectly illustrates the German strengths (precision instruments, focus on tactical doctrine) and weakness (not robust enough instruments and bad strategical employment). One fine ship sent out against a "goal" but also against many unpredictable combinations of chances to loose the ship and to bad luck........ resulting in the loss of the ship.

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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by alecsandros » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:32 pm

Hello,
Several months ago I read Hitler's political testament. If we are to accept he realy believed the double-standards written there, it would seem that:

1) he had a firm belief that the British would ultimately join the Reich in his "crusade against the soviets" (that went on until 1942) Again and again he adresses this point, and states that he hoped an alliance with England, an alliance that never came. That could be the reason why:
> British troops managed to escape at Dunkerque
> the battle for Britain came to a halt in order to permit the battle for Russia
> the invasion of the UK (operation Lion) was never put into practice
> In 1944-45, he decided to "punish" the British using the V1/V2s, for not taking sides with him

2) he was afraid that pushing Spain into the war would mean just another bad ally, that would bring more problems than solutions (such as Italy)

3) he regreted that he supported Mussolini and hadn't overthrown him in 1941, in order to put into effect a German occupation of Italy

4) he deeply regreted the Balkans campaign, that delayed Barbarossa by at least 6 weeks.

As for the other points in your reply, of course you are right - that's why of the reasons we learn history, to learn from past mistakes and experiences; that is, we have the privilege of hindsight, an advantage the Germans didn't have, of course.
And, even so, msot of points you and boredatwork adress have been taken into consideration by the Germans:

- they did try to capture Malta
- they did try to seize the oil in the middle east
- they did attack Leningrad, etc

The lack of concentration you refer was of course un-avoidable from a single power trying to overpower the entire world. I think they hoped they wouldn't remain alone, but finaly that's what happened...

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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by lwd » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:30 pm

alecsandros wrote:.... That could be the reason why:
> British troops managed to escape at Dunkerque
Not likely but I guess faintly possible.
> the battle for Britain came to a halt in order to permit the battle for Russia
The BOB came to a halt because it became obvious they weren't winning, weather conditions were going to create increasing difficulties, and it became clear that Sea Lion was a pipe dream.
> the invasion of the UK (operation Lion) was never put into practice
It was "never put into practice" because it was clear that it would have been an absolute failure.
...they did try to capture Malta
They did? When?
- they did try to seize the oil in the middle east
They did? When?

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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by VeenenbergR » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:33 pm

Alecsandros. If that is the content of Hitlers testament he is remarkbly bright to see what were the reasons he and Germany lost the war.

Yes, I agree with the remarks Iwd made here.

Hitler thougth that Churchill and Britain saw what HE thought of Stalin and Russia (of course Churchill and Britain did not share his visions of a future division of power in the World or his opinions about the sub-human Russians NOR saw the danger that lured in the totalitarian giant which was just expanding on a phenomenal scale its military potential (Hitler WAS aware of that and looked through the eyes of a dictator). So the mistake he made was that Britain did NOT share his ideas about a future division of power (a strong and geographically enlarged Germany which had friendly feelings toward Britain versus an military colussus, the SU, which had NO friendly feelings towards Britain. Of course the anti Jewish ideas of Hitler (which were common over the whole of Europe in those days) prevented that Britain could share his ideas. It is interesting to analyze why Britain was so anti-German (because of WWI?) and did not see the dangers of that other emerging totalitarian Power: the SU.

I find it remarkable that Hitler thought the 6 weeks postponement would have made the difference in the War in the East: did he really thought that when he had taken Moscow early november 1941 he would have won on the Eastern FRont? As David Glantz pointed out: the Russians were able to raise or transfer 10-12 new armies to the Central Sector in november (after the harvest /loss of 1.000.000 men of operation Typhoon/ Taifun) in October 1941. The Germans would very probably have succeeded in taking Moscow and a perimeter around it before these 15 armies would have counterattacked anyway.
I assume that no difference around Leningrad would have occurred with the exception that Tichvin would have fallen 6 weeks earlier. The Germans had to few forces to made any further progress here and the Finns refused to attack out of just retaken Karelian ground. On the Crimea I assume also nu substantial change if the Germans would have arrived 6 weeks earlier at the Perekop isthmus.

His (Hilters) regrets about Italy: not wise to occupy the country because the occupation of the Balkans also was a mistake, so why taking Italy? In my opinion a waiste of time and resources.


Looking back:
- Occupation op Poland for enlarging the Reich with many resource areas and agricultural benefits for 16.000 KIA and loss of Enigma (the real price), 500 planes was a wise move.
- Occupation of Denmark, Norway and securing the iron ore, gaining access to the Northern Atlantic and gaining territory for attacking Russia's northern harbours for 5.500 men, 175 valuable transport planes and a same number of other types of planes, 1 new large heavy cruiser, 2 light cruisers and 10 destroyers was a high price and only necessary if planning to attack Britain or Russia. Stricly also NOT necessary since Murmansk could have been attacked from Finnish territory too.
- Occupation of The Netherlands, Belgium, France eliminating a nearby anti German MAYOR POWER and gaining the terrain for a possible protuding but not wished war against Britain for 45.000 KIA/MIA and loss of over 250 transport planes, 750 tanks and 1000 other military aircraft: a wise move for a fair price. Germany should have NOT attacked Britain further and being friendly towards a beaten France, trying to make a new coalition partner of France. Perhaps even retreating out of France (except Elsass, Lotharingen).
- Occuping the Balcans for 7.000 KIA/MIA (includingh 4000 KIA/MIA for Crete alone): totally unnecessary if war was possibly to be expanded towards the middle East. Germany COULD have made a deal with Iraq (oil) using pro German French Syria and Lebanon.
- War in Lybia and Egypt (except Tunesia): costs after all: 6000 KIA and about 10.000 MIA about 1000 tanks, 1000 planes, Totally unnecessary, except when the target would have been the Suez Canal!!!
(Napoleon's moves....)
If looking to this scenario Germany wins and victory would have been total. Britain her only enemy but unable to bring war towards Germany. Attacking by air would have been fighting the whole Luftwaffe at unfavourable terrain and unfavourable conditions.

If then Germany's (and Hitlers) destiny would have been beating the SU: then Germany needed oil from Iraq, as much allies as possible, as less occupied nations as possible with 90% of her forces in the East (and 75% of the Luftwaffe in the East). So the occupation of Poland and France were the only smart moves and an early as possible move against the SU (if this was the only option in the East) the other. The Germans repeat their moves in the East arriving 6 weeks earlier at certain objectives (Soviets reinforcements are late for 6 weeks). What if then...........

Germany and Hitler on their way from a small Mayor power (80 Mi) towards a big mayor power (160 Mi).
Last edited by VeenenbergR on Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by RF » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:40 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Adolf and the others near him can be accused of many, many things (for good reason), but for not having a strategic perspective, not thinking through the possibilities, and not being (very) bright, is against historical evidence.
I would endorse the points raised by lwd in his above post, and add that the quoted sentence here is totally untrue. If alecsandros belteves otherwise, then produce the said historical evidence please.......
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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by RF » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:45 pm

alecsandros wrote:,
Several months ago I read Hitler's political testament.
If you are referring to the testament dictated by Hitler to his secretary shortly before his suicide, I would recall the secretary's reaction to it - great excitement when she was told she was about to receive the testament, then extreme disappointment when she learned the content. I think the verdict of Frau Junge says it all.
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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by lwd » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:48 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:...Hitler thougth that Churchill and Britain saw what HE thought of Stalin and Russia (of course Churchill and Britain did not share his opinions about the Russians NOR saw the danger that lured in the totalitarian giant which was just expanding on a phenomenal scale its military potential
While Churchill was not in charge when the war started it's pretty clear he did share Hitler's opinions of the Soviets at least to some extent. He just considered Hitler to be a closer and more immediate danger.
Looking back:
- Occupation op Poland for enlarging the Reich with many resource areas and agricultural benefits for 16.000 KIA and loss of Enigma (the real price), 500 planes was a wise move.
Rather than a "wise move" it was one of Hitler's first serious mistakes. It resulted in him being at war with France and Britain.
...- Occupation of The Netherlands, Belgium, France eliminating a nearby anti German MAYOR POWER and gaining the terrain for a possible protuding but not wished war against Britain for 45.000 KIA/MIA and loss of over 250 transport planes, 750 tanks and 1000 other military aircraft: a wise move for a fair price. Germany should have NOT attacked Britain further and being friendly towards a beaten France, trying to make a new coalition partner of France. Perhaps even retreating out of France (except Elsass, Lotharingen).
Occupation of the low countries in particular insured the war against Britain wasn't going to end any time soon. Net result a war that Germany had little hope of winning.
.... Germany COULD have made a deal with Iraq (oil) using pro German French Syria and Lebanon.
How?
- War in Lybia and Egypt (except Tunesia): costs after all: 6000 KIA and about 10.000 MIA about 1000 tanks, 1000 planes, Totally unnecessary, except when the target would have been the Suez Canal!!!
(Napoleon's moves....)
The intent was to stabalize Italy's postion in Libya. It''s not even clear they culd have supported the forces neccessary to take and hold the Suez.
...If then Germany's (and Hitlers) destiny would have been beating the SU: then Germany needed oil from Iraq,
Why? What's magical about oil from Iraq? Especially as Germany doesn't have the infrastructure to take advantage of it and it would open up a front that the British could use to attack Germany.
... The Germans repeat their moves in the East arriving 6 weeks earlier at certain objectives (Soviets reinforcements are late for 6 weeks). What if then...........
Starting the war with the USSR 6 weeks earlier doesn't meen that the Soviet reinforcements are 6 weeks later in arriving or that they can even maintian the historical pace early in the campaign.

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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by alecsandros » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:52 pm

lwd wrote: The BOB came to a halt because it became obvious they weren't winning, weather conditions were going to create increasing difficulties, and it became clear that Sea Lion was a pipe dream.
The battle for Britain lasted until the summer of 1941, because the Germans transfered 3500 planes to the east.
> the invasion of the UK (operation Lion) was never put into practice
lwd wrote: It was "never put into practice" because it was clear that it would have been an absolute failure.
There are no "clear" things in war; there are only infromations and necessary objectives. Operation SeaLion wasn;t given the proper attention, and I don't think that was because the Germans were 'clumsy" or "incapable". It happened because Hitler gambled ("the UK will eventualy join me") and lost.
lwd wrote: They did? When?
1941-1942, air raids, naval blockade, plans for take over via paratroops. Plans put to a halt because the British air defense remained a threat.
lwd wrote: They did? When?
Why did you think Rommel attacked Egypt? Was it because he wanted to take a trip to the pyramids...? Or for the favorable strategic position...?

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Re: Reasons why Germany didn't win the war

Post by RF » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:53 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:
It is interesting to analyze why Britain was so anti-German (because of WWI?) and did not see the dangers of that other emerging totalitarian Power: the SU.
I don't really understand what you mean by this

In the 1930's the British government and press was very pro-German, largely because of fears of Soviet communism.
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