Marschall instead of Lutjens

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by lwd » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:44 pm

VeenenbergR wrote:...Hitler ... Knew everything of his own army ...
If that's the case he demonstrated a significant lack of understanding with regards to the implications of it all...
but almost nothing of the enemy and his huge economic potential. ...
Wages of Destruction makes a case that is almost dimametrically opposed to this. In said book it is stated with some evidence that the developing economic power of the US was one of the major drivers for him wanting Lebensraum. He saw Germany being left behind in the long run if it didn't have a larger base.
What if: What if Bismarck had joined the Italian Battlefleet (after the fall of Gibraltar at the end of 1940) and had sortied for Crete to cut off the British on the Island?
Well since Gibralter didn't fall historically it's not at all clear what your point of departure is. This is probably also best discussed in the hypothetical section but my guess is that in most possible cases the British would have been overjoyed to see Bismark in the Med.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Vic Dale » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:32 pm

Hitler may well have seen the industrial might of the USA quite early on, but that would mean him seeing Germany left behind as regards markets in relation to world trade. It does not automatically translate to a military assessment, especially especially having regard for US isolationist policy, plus Roosevelt's inability to aid Britain, except through lend-lease and extended credt, or through covert means. He could not openly declare war because his people would not allow it - he was already facing the possibility of impeachment for what he had done so far. Hitler seems to have seen Roosevelt's position as one of weakness, but typically missed the change after Pearl Harbour.

Not a single person on the planet living circa 1941 could foresee the USA marshalling so much military harware as was concentrated for Overlord 1944.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by lwd » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:52 pm

Vic Dale wrote:Hitler may well have seen the industrial might of the USA quite early on, but that would mean him seeing Germany left behind as regards markets in relation to world trade. It does not automatically translate to a military assessment, especially especially having regard for US isolationist policy,
Up to here we're pretty much in agreement although some of the factors wouldn't be all that hard to evaluate. Also the naval construction for instance was pretty much a matter of public record. Aircraft, tank, and automotive production should also have been pretty transparent up to that point.
plus Roosevelt's inability to aid Britain, except through lend-lease and extended credt, or through covert means.
It was a lot more than covert. The US essentially took over ASW in the Western Atlantic as well as the defence of Iceland.
He could not openly declare war because his people would not allow it
Depends on when you are talking about. By October of 41 there is a decent chance he could have gotten a declaration of war past that would have enjoyed popular support. He wisely wanted more than a simple majority supporting the decision however. Then there was the fact that his military advisors were telling him that the US wasn't ready for war yet.
- he was already facing the possibility of impeachment for what he had done so far.
Do you have any documentation that suports any sort of realistic probability that impeachement proceedings even had a decent chance of being initiated?
Not a single person on the planet living circa 1941 could foresee the USA marshalling so much military harware as was concentrated for Overlord 1944.
Given that the US planned on haveing 200 divisions as well as pretty much the navy as it existed by then in that time frame the accuarcy of the above is suspect to say the least.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by VeenenbergR » Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:19 pm

to RF: Tests he took showed that he had an IQ of 141.
So don't pretend to be shocked that I simply state these facts.
Furthermore Hitler was quite an energetic, driven and possessed personality. He was very visual: liked looking at movies, liked architecture, liked painting and drawing (no humans!). Next: he had great personal power. Few dared to oppose him (even the hot tempered Guderian). Hitler had a very good memory!!! Knew everything what was ever told to him and that was a lot!!!

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Bgile » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:22 pm

I wouldn't have thought the US had enough people in uniform for 200 divisions prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Their equipment wouldn't have been in production either, would it?

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:35 pm

Bgile:
I wouldn't have thought the US had enough people in uniform for 200 divisions prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Their equipment wouldn't have been in production either, would it?
The Germans clearly underestimated the American capability to overcome the odds becasue they didn´t realize what Pearl meant for the US nation. Before Pearl I doubt that the US goverment could have gotten a couple of thousand guys to join voluntarily into the armed forces. After Pearl the men travel from their hometowns to sign in. It´s clear that Hitler only saw the first picture, and when he realized the second it was too late for him.

to RF: Tests he took showed that he had an IQ of 141.
So don't pretend to be shocked that I simply state these facts.
Furthermore Hitler was quite an energetic, driven and possessed personality. He was very visual: liked looking at movies, liked architecture, liked painting and drawing (no humans!). Next: he had great personal power. Few dared to oppose him (even the hot tempered Guderian). Hitler had a very good memory!!! Knew everything what was ever told to him and that was a lot!!!
Let´s remember something: Hitler was a scapegoat for everything that went ill or wrong in Germany between 1939 and 1945. Why? Because when the war ended he was discredited and dead. If some offensive went wrong then whom to blame? Guderian? Nope. Manstein? Nope. Rommel? For God´s sake: he was more than a genius, he was a saint! Then it´s Hitler to carry the blame.
Don´t misunderstood me: I don´t say Hitler didn´t pissed a lot of operations or the war in itself. But many ill things atributed to him are merely work from other guys and, eventually, blamed on this guy.
For instance: in this very forum a lot has been said that Hitler didn´t understood naval strategy and policy. Of course he didn´t! That´s why Raeder is to blame. He was the one that dilapidated resources and men in building expensive surface units to satisfy is thirst of revenge against the Brits whilts Germany needed Doenitz and his U Boats so badly.

Well, that´s it...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by VeenenbergR » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:52 pm

to Bgile.

(this is really off-topic)
The US army prior to Pearl Harbour was a dwarf: 1 armored division and 9 infantry divisions. This compared to the 250 odd German divisions of which were 21 armored, 14 (15) motorized infantry, 1 cavalry, 1 fallschirmjäger, 6 gebirgsjäger, 8 jäger and about 125 first rate infantry divisions. The US expansion after the declaration of war was slow but the army medio 1944 was very powerful because of:
- all infantry was motorised; infantry divisions standard had a full fledged batalion of tanks, where Germans mostly only could field 6 to 12 Stug, Marder or Hetzers.
- artillery was sophisticated and had no lack of ammunition. They were able to shell shock virtually all German defenses or counter attacks.
- tank destroyers (M10, M24, M36) were very well used to knock out counter attacking German armour and they were succesfull in their tasks.
- tanks were mainly used against German infantry, Flak and AT-units.
- air cover was always there as was the abundance of ground attack forces notably the P47 Thunderbolt
- If Germans resisted even after ground attack and artillery the US could always call for a carpet bombing of 600-800 A26's
- if taking losses allmost all men and material could be replenished without any problem
Because of these tactics and factors the avarage US division had far more fire power than its German counterpart.
In 1944 the US could field about 50 ground divisions in the West but they had a tremendous power.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:24 pm

The US army prior to Pearl Harbour was a dwarf: 1 armored division and 9 infantry divisions.
I believe nowaday (post Clinton) US Army is just more or less the size of 10 combat divisions.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Bgile » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:29 pm

VB:

Nice summary. I don't question it, which is why I questioned the pre-war figure of 200 divisions.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by lwd » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:12 am

That was the prewar plan. The US maxed out at around 120 divisions If I recall correctly. The point was the prewar plans called for that many.

Did a quick search: See http://books.google.com/books?id=NWfaq- ... &ct=result
The US planned for 200 divisions but actually maxed out at 91 Army divisions although it should be pointed out that this was equivalant to ~180 German divisions at least in paper strength.

AS for building up strength the US actually did it pretty quickly. Ceratinly they expanded quicker than any of the other major combatants.

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by wadinga » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:04 am

All,
Not to be churlish, but this thread is supposed to be about Marschall and Lutjens. There is a lively great debate underway elsewhere about whether Adolf Hitler had any redeeming features at all, (good at remembering things, liked dogs, good with children- except of course Jewish or gypsy ones who he had gassed and burned, etc, etc)

UFO, I tried Cajus Bekker Hitler's Naval War and Edward Van Der Porten The German Navy in WWII. This what I posted another time but it still holds up. I can find no reference to a bigger raiding mission anywhere. Marschall was ordered to go to North Norway and save Dietl. Taking risks if necessary.
I have been studying Richard Garett's Elusive Sisters, Jacques Mordal's Battleship Scharnhorst and the excellent Hitler's Naval War by Cajus Bekker.

The latter uses conversations with veterans, official documents and other sources in a very detailed analysis of the planning and execution of Operation Juno, and Marschall's dismissal which he describes as "disgraceful". He mentions the original desire to save General Dietl's troops in Narvik, which originally led Hitler to draft orders for him to surrender in neutral Sweden. The next army plan was for giant liners Europa and Bremen to sail to Tromso (despite the RN) and land a 6,000 man rescue force who would fight their way up the coast. Luckily for them this suicide plan was scrapped.

Raeder ordered Marschall "To relieve Force Dietl by effective engagement of British naval and transport in the Narvik-Harstad area." He implied in conversation this allowed the Fleet Commander some freedom of action but Saalwachter of Group West said "the first and main objective....is a surprise penetration of the And and Vaags fjords and the destruction of enemy warships and transports there encountered, as well as of his beach-head installations...". Still further instructions came from the Fuerher HQ who instructed that he was supposed to support Force Feurstein marching across hundreds of miles from Trondheim and still further from Harstad. Raeder confirmed equal priority between the original order and being hundreds of miles away supporting Force Feustein.

Fuelling from Dithmarschen on the 7th a long way offshore from Harstad Marschall had waited for details from air reconnaissance but none came before nightfall. He held a council of war with his Senior officers, and there was agreement that charging into the potential defences of Harstad without recon would be madness. Further submarine reports detailled several groups of Allied ships all moving away from the coast. The following day, the 8th he reported his success against Oil Pioneer etc whilst Saalwachter kept on reminding him about attacking Harstad. Since nobody had cancelled the instruction to support Force Feurstein as well he sent Hipper and the destroyers off towards Trondheim.

What Marschall didn't know was that at 13:00 Dietl was on the phone to General Von Falkenhorst in Trondheim telling him that the Allies had withdrawn, news which reached Kapitan Theodore Krancke (local naval liaison) soon after, but got no further. By 17:10 Marschall knew he was in visual range of a carrier. Relying on sneaking away at that point was not an option since a patrolling aircraft could still bring down doom on him even if he ran off a hundred further 50 or 80 miles. At that point there was only one choice- attack. This decision cost him his post- his next role was Head of the Navy's Educational Department, and forced him to suffer the ignominy of having a circulated Admiralty document list his perceived shortcomings. When he submitted a defence of actions, which had cost the RN a valuable carrier, two fine destroyers and over a thousand men, Raeder's written comment was Marschall "lacked the strength of purpose of a great leader....Consequently as an operational commander he was, generally speaking, a failure."
According to Bekker it was Lutjens who took Gneisenau out on the 20th of June and got torpedoed, not Marschall.

In summer 1942 Raeder appointed the man he had described as a failure to C in C Navy Group West. Obviously he had changed his mind.

All the Best
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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by José M. Rico » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:18 am

wadinga wrote:All,
Not to be churlish, but this thread is supposed to be about Marschall and Lutjens.
That's correct. Keep on topic guys.
For any other WWII discussions go here:
viewforum.php?f=26

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Hillcrest » Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:10 am

Ah Ha! Bekkers' writing in Wadingas' post makes the point I have been wondering about throughout this thread, "What would be the proper action?" Marschall spots the RN Force, has to assume they've seen him...Okay, it's a Carrier and escort, he had to have thought there were planes (CAP) in the air at least, and would be certain that a full deckload must be launched at him at any minute. To my thinking, there is only one proper response, try to get them before they get you.

What would be the opinion of Marschalls' actions had he turned and run? We can ask around as to the futility of trying to fight planes with battleships unescorted on the high seas' (See Prince of Wales/Repulse vs. Japanese aircraft) Marschall had no choice. Had he turned and run, the outcome would have almost certainly been the same. Instead, he turned and fought it out, and the end result was one of only two occasions that battleships were able to sink a carrier during the war, scored the longest range hit on a vessel underway (which really was a longer shot, this one or Warspites?) sank the escorts, and got his ships home more or less in one piece.

I've often wondered about many decisions made by the CO's during the war, and have always thought the correct one to make in the DS battle by someone who has risen through the ranks to command Bismarck...and I'm sure this won't be popular...that having engaged in a battle of that magnatude, you would see it through to the end. Yes, I'll say it, sink POW, go after the cruisers, sink them, and head for home. The effect of a victory like that on your enemys morale would be devastating, even if Bismarck stayed tied to the pier for the rest of the war.

Whoops,getting away from the topic...I think Marschall would have been the better choice.

Cheers, Dave

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by iankw » Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:45 am

I've read the twists and turns of this thread with interest, and observed the changes (or evolution?) of people's opinions along the way. A lot has been made of the threat of Glorious' aircraft to the German ships, and the obvious need to attack once they had been spotted. Obviously D'Oyly Hughes was unaware of the weapon he had under his command, but would Marschall be any more aware of the threat at this stage of the war? If not it can hardly be argued that he had no choice but to attack! I don't have a strong opinion either way, perhaps leaning towards the view that attacking the enemy wherever you meet him can't be wrong. I am interested though - this was before Taranto, which was carried out against moored ships, so what experience was there that aircraft were so dangerous to moving ships?

regards

Ian

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Re: Marschall instead of Lutjens

Post by Vic Dale » Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:04 am

Hillcrest wrote:Ah Ha! Bekkers' writing in Wadingas' post makes the point I have been wondering about throughout this thread, "What would be the proper action?" Marschall spots the RN Force, has to assume they've seen him...Okay, it's a Carrier and escort, he had to have thought there were planes (CAP) in the air at least, and would be certain that a full deckload must be launched at him at any minute. To my thinking, there is only one proper response, try to get them before they get you.
If that was the way it happened, Marschall would have been right to attack for his own safety, but that isn't how it happened. He deliberately went after Glorious and Ark Royal, having failed to get at the evacuation convoys. That is the basis of criticsim of his actions. That is what Raeder had him for, plus the fact that having received Luftwaffe reports that Narvik appeared to have been evacuated, he decided to leave it at that, leaving his Chief in the dark and having to continue to rely on Luftwaffe reports alone.

Intelligence regarding an enemy's actions can fall into two categories; one gives warning about a possible threat so that counter measures can be adopted and the other gives advanced warning about what a task force might expect to see as it approached it's objective. The Luftwaffe reports indicated that Narvik MAY have been evacuated. It was Marschall's job to see if this was the case and report back. He did not need to send the battleships into the fiords for this, he could have sent in a destroyer or conducted aerial recconnaisance of his own. His ship's dedicated pilots and more importantly, observers who would have been trained in aerial recognition to the point they could report accurately on a tactical situation, where an ordinary Luftwaffe pilot, ignorant of the navy's needs might not. In abscence of complete faith in his pilots and observers, he should have sent a vessel with tactical experts in to see for themselves.

Marschall is hailed as a hero, because he took a bold decsion to go after the carriers, if he was given a fait acompli by spotting the Glorious when well within her striking capabilities, he would have earned no greater regard than Lutjens at the Battle of Denmark Strait, though we could still expect the anti-Lutjens-brigade to praise the one and denigrate the other.

To justify what Marschall did requires a monstrous rewrite of history. He knew where Glorious and Ark Royal were and he deliberately went after them. Full marks for fighting spirit, but minus several hundred for lack of foresight. As Raeder said, he was lucky not to get sunk, and Scharnhorst very nearly was.

Vic

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