WWII Victory Claim

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Karl Heidenreich
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WWII Victory Claim

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:03 am

Marshall of the Soviet Union A.M. Vasilevsky, commander of the Voronezh Front @ July 1943:

"In reading works by several bourgeois writers on World War II, I have frequently noticed their inclination to play down the Red Army victory in the summer of 1943. They try to instill in their readers the idea that the Kursk Battle was just an ordinary, insignificant episode in the war; to these ends they barely mention it or just skip it. Very rarely have I come across in such books any real asessment to the Nazi plan of revenge for the summer of 1943 as an adventurous or a bankrupt end to the strategy of the fascist generals. But, as the saying has it, deeds speak louder than words. I would mention just one elementary fact: at the height of the Kursk Battle our allies landed in Sicily and, on 17 August, crossed over into Italy. Could they have possibly done so with even half the forces against them that we had to contend with in the summer of 1943? I think not"
-Vasilevsky, Delo vsei zhizni, 340-341

From the book: The Battle of Kursk by David M. Glantz & Jonathan M. House, University of Kansas, Modern War Studies, page 281:

"The battles of July and August 1943 associated with the German Operation Citadel and the Soviet Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation not only ended the myth of German invincibility but clearly demonstrated that the Red Army was rapidly developing the skills to match its enormous numbers. The resulting combination proved fatal to blitzkrieg and, ultimately, lethal to Germany."
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Re: WWII Victory Claim

Postby lwd » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:46 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:...
From the book: The Battle of Kursk by David M. Glantz & Jonathan M. House, University of Kansas, Modern War Studies, page 281:

"The battles of July and August 1943 associated with the German Operation Citadel and the Soviet Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation not only ended the myth of German invincibility but clearly demonstrated that the Red Army was rapidly developing the skills to match its enormous numbers. The resulting combination proved fatal to blitzkrieg and, ultimately, lethal to Germany."


Could not the above quote apply to the Battle of Moscow as well?

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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:20 pm

lwd:

Could not the above quote apply to the Battle of Moscow as well?


Not exactly because at Moscow the blitzkrieg offensive had (to that moment) some five months since it´s begining and eight hundred miles old. At Kursk the commie vermin stopped the offensive at the very begining at the North Pinzer (Model) and a couple weeks old at the South Pinzer (Hauser). It was the first time a blitzkrieg offensive was stopped cold.
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Postby RF » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:47 pm

Marshall Vasilevsky conveniently ignores the fact that the British and Americans who invaded Sicily were also heavily engaged against Japan, whilst the USSR was neutral with regards to the Japanese.

Could the USSR have won at Kursk if Soviet forces had a major commiment to fighting Japan in Manchuria and Mongolia?

Remember that the Japanese, unlike Hitler, stuck absolutely to their non-aggression pact with the USSR, from which Stalin took the fullest advantage, not declaring war on Japan until a day after the Nagasaki atomic bomb.
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Postby paulcadogan » Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:09 pm

There is also the issue of Allied support for the Soviets with the stream of convoys that were fought through, often at great cost, to Murmansk and Archangel. I have a Russian friend who downplays their significance and claims that the Red Army was the major architect of Hitler's defeat, saying that D-Day was too little too late!

So I ask all of you, how critical to the Russian war effort were these convoys? Would Stalin's forces have been able to turn things around and push back the Germans without them?

Paul
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Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:35 am

Well, we are reaching to something here, isn´t it?

First of all Vasilevsky´s comentary didn´t took into it´s scope the Pacific Theater or the War at Sea were, is obvious, the USSR depended on the allied effort. The fact that the Soviet Union didn´t fought against Japan while the US and GB+colonies did fought there in various complex scenarios like China, Burma, New Guinea, etc. etc. etc. did outweights these affirmations.
But, on the other hand, these actions (or omisions) were part of multiple negotiations and accords that the Western Allies did accept. Stalin always pushed FDR and Churchill to open a front in France; why didn´t the western allies pushed Stalin in the East? There are reasons, yes, that maybe the diversion of resources would have affected the soviet offensives... but, wasn´t that something that would have favoured the overall western allied strategy to gain time against the Red Onslaught that was flooding Europe? And at the same time releasing pressure from the allies in the Asian continent? Anyway on 1945 the russians ran and claimed their own zone of occupation and incluence like North Korea.
About the money and supplies that the West gave to Stalin is an undeniable contribution. And a vital contribution. I do believe that the USSR would have been able to survive Barbarossa until the stand still in January 1942 but, after that, when the Germans attacked the Caucasus the soviets were in REAL NEED of the allied help, and more so in the mobile combats at the summer 1943. Many soviet units were equipped with American made units as the Red Air Force consisted in many American made aircraft. And about the money I´m quite sure the damm commie vermin didn´t pay their part back after the end of the War.
Put that aside I believe there is, also, some thruth in Vasilevsky´s words too.
Let´s face it. The greatest combats in scope, volume of fronts, number of contendants, EXTREME VIOLENCE, and that were bloodier were in the Eastern Front. Whatever the reasons the Eastern Front was the greatest one in the whole war, it was the one with the greatest number of sheer number of troops, tanks, artillery, aircraft and casualities that outweights all other fronts put together. And about the decisive turning points we have an incredible number of occasions: Moscow, Stalingrad, Kharkov, Kursk, Ukraine, Prussia, etc. etc.

We can say, on a first light analysis:
1. Great Britain did won on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.
2. Great Britain did won North Africa while the US played a vital support in 1943.
3. The Italian Front was a Anglo American quagimare which was won by their combined efforts.
4. The Pacific Theatre was not only a US victory but a US Navy victory.
5. The Philipines was not only a US victory but MacArthur´s one.
6. Indochina was a British victory, no doubt.
7. European theatre was a Soviet-Western victory with a clear attrition and superior sacrificy from the russians. Just look at the casualties on each side with the number of years each side fought.
8. Japan was the victory of nuclear age in the shape of a Boeing B-29.

But the clear winner of the war was the Soviet Union. Before the Hitlerite invasion it was an underdeveloped, encircled farmer´s land. At the end of the war they expanded their influence to half of Europe, most of Asia, build satelite and client states as huge as Red China or as important as East Germany and North Korea, has complete armies on foreign soil with no intentions of leaving, were threating traditional zones of western influece as Indochina, Middle East and the heart of Europe. And they grew powerfull enough to make Truman sweat over Korea some years later while developing nuclear technology, jet propulsion fighters, sophisticated subs, etc. etc. etc. and became a contendant for over forty five years.
No other country left the war in so clear advantage, not even the US. The fact that between 1945 until 1990 the world lived a Cold War and the threat of global extermination was a daily dark companion to us is a proof of this undeniable fact: many fought Hitler and Tojo, many were defeated by them, only three empires did defeat the axis, but only the Soviet Union did really won and emerge victorious with all their expectations accomplished.
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Postby RF » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:54 pm

There are a number of points worth raising in the above two posts.

One point that I remember from Purnell's History of the Second World War, published in the 1970's, was a German eye-witness account of the Soviet counterattack in front of Moscow in December 1941. This German account states that they were attacked by Soviet forces equipped with British Churchill tanks!
And remember it was the reports from the Sorge spy ring in Tokyo that made this Soviet counterattack possible, in that the Siberian divisions were Stalin's only remaining substantial reserve left in November 1941.
Notice that Stalin did not pass on these reports to the British and Americans - they would have provided additional warning of the Japanese intentions. Stalin was content to keep the reports to himself - and to ensure his own survival.

Another point - suppose the German forces on the Russian front had a different Supreme Commander than Hitler. If Hitler had the gumption to give command to someone like Manstein, and no orders forbidding any retreat etc. how would 1942 have panned out? It is likely that Paulus would not have become trapped in Stalingrad, or if he did, the Germans would have immediately been able to break out.
1943, following on, could also have been very different, with no static battle at Kursk.
And what if Hitler had really had his head screwed on, and promised Ukraine and the Baltic states complete independence, adding dozens of potential divisions to the Axis forces?

Another aspect arises from Karl's description of Soviet Russia as an underdeveloped, largely agricultural economy. This was not so. The Soviet five year plans were sufficiently well known in the 1930's for Hitler and Goering to try and copy them in Germany. It has been argued by A J P Taylor that the first Soviet five year plan, started in 1929, was what made the defeat of the Germans possible. Certainly the Soviets did make a huge leap forward in the 1930's, particulary as the condition of the workers and the environment were absolutely disregarded in a way not possible in the West. The Soviets impressively increased their outputs from heavy industry, using long run economies of scale and imported (largely US) technology (financed through agencies such as the Moscow Narodny Bank). These developments made it possible for the Russians to migrate almost their entire war effort into Siberia in the Autumn of 1941, without which the Soviets could not have continued the war. Indeed it was not until 1943 that this Siberian war effort came on to full stream, and during 1942 the Allied convoys were of supreme importance to the Russians. From 1943 onwards they became less important in the supply of weapons/equipment per se, but still important as a means of technology import.
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Postby paulcadogan » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:14 pm

Thanks for the interesting responses Karl & RF. Seems like there is so much more to all this than meets the eye.

But what is clear is what I said to my friend: The defeat of Germany was a cooperative (as far as that went!) effort with each ally playing their part. No one country can claim sole or predominant responsibilty for victory in the European theatre.

The way I see it the British/American strategy and timing from N. Africa, to defeating Italy and taking back the Mediterranean theatre to D-Day and beyond, worked brilliantly. Any other course might have failed miserably and where would that have left Stalin? The war may still have been raging in 1947! :think:

Paul
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Postby RF » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:03 pm

The one main point arising out of WW2 is that the Allies co-operated in a way far beyond anything practised by the Axis, despite Hitler and Tojo having far greater strategic opportunities which they never exploited.
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Postby Coyote850 » Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:55 pm

Our convoys to Russia helped keep them in the war until their massive industry was able to kick into gear. Once the Red Army steamroller started rolling toward Berlin, there was little chance of the Germans stoping it.
That said, it was a combined effort. Something all the allied countrys should remember. Germany had some of the best military leaders and soldiers in the world. Had the Germans played their cards right it would have taken much longer to defeat them.

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Postby lwd » Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:09 pm

Coyote850 wrote:Our convoys to Russia helped keep them in the war until their massive industry was able to kick into gear. Once the Red Army steamroller started rolling toward Berlin, there was little chance of the Germans stoping it...

Actually it's probably more the other way around. The Soviets stopped the German advance before LL became much of a help but LL played an incredibly important part in maintaining the momentum of the Red armies. Logistics were a significant constraint on the Soviets all through the war and LL aid was most important in that area. Although the increased efficiency that it allowed due to concentration of effort was not insignificant.

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Postby RF » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:58 pm

lwd,

The Soviets stopped the Germans in front of Moscow with a great deal of assistance from the severe winter weather and the failure of the Germans to preprepare defensive positions or provide appropriate winter weather supplies.

Another way of looking at this - suppose from May 1943 onwards the Russians were facing the Germans alone, with no war in the West or the Med.
With a further assumption of a competent German command, would the Russians still have won?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Postby lwd » Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:00 pm

RF wrote:....
The Soviets stopped the Germans in front of Moscow with a great deal of assistance from the severe winter weather and the failure of the Germans to preprepare defensive positions or provide appropriate winter weather supplies.

I'm not an expert on the Eastern front but my impression is that the Germans were already stopped by the time winter weather got bad. Furthermore preparing defensive postions or not doesn't affect the offence that much. The fact that the German logistic system was oversstressed at this point helped the Soviets but that still means that they stopped the Germans pretty much on their own. The early counter offensives were again conducted pretty much without much help from the west although the fact that it was in the pipe line may have helped in making some of the decsions about them. It also allowed the Soviets to concentrate their production which may have shown dividends early on.
Another way of looking at this - suppose from May 1943 onwards the Russians were facing the Germans alone, with no war in the West or the Med. With a further assumption of a competent German command, would the Russians still have won?

The critical element here was probably the logistics impact of LL. The war in the West drew off some German production especially arty and fighter aircraft. However the trucks, trains, rails, explosives, explosive precursers, food, clothes, etc were almost asuredly critical. Even with the West proceeding as historical without LL the Soviets probably don't make it to Berlin in 45 and if they don't do that they are in deep trouble food wise. I think we may actually be in agreement at least as far as the importance of the West to the Soviets from 43 on.

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Re: WWII Victory Claim

Postby aurora » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:45 pm

The Germans’ hope for a blitzkrieg victory, which depended on the element of surprise, had already evaporated with Hitler’s dithering, and as the Russians held out and engaged the Germans into a war of attrition, greatly favouring the Soviets, any hope of a German victory soon faded. Instead of blitzkrieg, the German soldier found himself fighting hand-to-hand, trench-by-trench. It was akin to the fighting of the First World War. Initial German gains, modest as they were, were soon lost as the Soviets counterattacked. The closest the two German attacks, north and south, got to one another was 40 miles.

The climax of the Battle of Kursk took place near a village called Prokhorovka on 12 July, when one thousand tanks and a thousand aircraft on each side clashed on a two-mile front, fighting each other to a standstill. The melee was intense as tanks bumped into each other, the German tanks liable to burst into flames as their engines overheated. The Battle of Kursk dragged on for another month but with the German lines continuously disrupted by partisan activity and the Russian capacity of putting unending supplies of men and equipment into the fray, the Germans ran out of energy and resources.

Losses on both sides were huge (70,000 Germans and probably an equal if not greater number of Soviets) but with the Soviet Union’s vast resource of manpower and with huge amounts of aid coming in from the US, Stalin could sustain his losses. Hitler, however, could not. Germany never again launched an offensive in the East.


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Re: WWII Victory Claim

Postby OpanaPointer » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:25 pm

1997, Purdue University. I gave a visiting Russian history professor an atlas of WWII. He was very surprised at the level of Western Allies involvement. He had been taught, and duly taught to his students, that D-Day was merely a raid, one that didn't accomplish much until the Germans collapsed, at which point we rushed up to try and take Berlin. Evidently the Red Army treated us roughly at the Elbe or we would have succeeded.


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