Hitler's influence on German military defeat on the eastern front


Richard Santos

Junior Member
Registered Member
Hitler made many spectacularly bad calls as commander in chief of the German army. He probably cost Germany's ability to take Moscow before the winter by diverting army group center's panzer south and holding army group center static from mid July to October, while wearing out the panzer through back and forth road marchs. He probably created the situation in Stalingrad by splitting army group south and making the two parts go for two widely divergent objectives. He probably cost Germany the battle of Kursk by repeatedly postponing it and then calling the operation off while the bulk of soviet stavka mobile armored reserve remains unengaged. He dissipated Germany's inadequate forces by creating festungs which made it much easier for the resurgent red army to isolate and encircle large bodies of German forces in 1944-1945.

But my question is what did hitler do right, against the wishes of his officers, that have been overlooked in postwar accounts where surviving German officers tried to pin the blame of German defeat all on Hitler so as to divert attention from the errors and inadaquacies of the German army?

Some examples I can think of are:

1. The order to hold fast during the days after failing to take Moscow, when prevailing opinion of German officer corp was to conduct a fighting retreat. In the prevailing situation, where German units were worn out, the men in terrible physical condition, separated from each other, and have no real cohesive front, fighting retreat was likely to fail and turn into a rout. But given the technical inferiority of soviet army and its grave deficits in coordination, holding fast was the right thing to do and probably saved the German army from suffering its 1944 experience in early 1942.

2. Holding onto Stalingrad and not breaking out. Many books have been written about how hitlr doomed the 6th army by preventing it from breaking out when menstein came within a few dozen kilometers of relieving it. This overlooks the fact that another entire German army, the first panzer army, was at the same time busy retreating from the Caucasus. If the 6th army succeeeded in breaking out of soviet encirclement, it was still no fit fighting force, while a million well equipped and mobile soviet troops tasked with keeping the ring around Stalingrad would suddenly be freed up to move to block the retreat of the 1st panzer army, and probably destroyed that formation as well.

Any others?
 
I'm of course answering on the presumption it's just armchair generalling and we aren't praising Wars, Ideologies or nothing
...

Any others?
adding the third (northern, "Archangelsk") direction to the original (1940; Halder, von Brauchitsch) plans of the Operation Barbarossa
 

taxiya

Major
Registered Member
Hitler made many spectacularly bad calls as commander in chief of the German army. He probably cost Germany's ability to take Moscow before the winter by diverting army group center's panzer south and holding army group center static from mid July to October, while wearing out the panzer through back and forth road marchs. He probably created the situation in Stalingrad by splitting army group south and making the two parts go for two widely divergent objectives. He probably cost Germany the battle of Kursk by repeatedly postponing it and then calling the operation off while the bulk of soviet stavka mobile armored reserve remains unengaged. He dissipated Germany's inadequate forces by creating festungs which made it much easier for the resurgent red army to isolate and encircle large bodies of German forces in 1944-1945.

But my question is what did hitler do right, against the wishes of his officers, that have been overlooked in postwar accounts where surviving German officers tried to pin the blame of German defeat all on Hitler so as to divert attention from the errors and inadaquacies of the German army?

Some examples I can think of are:

1. The order to hold fast during the days after failing to take Moscow, when prevailing opinion of German officer corp was to conduct a fighting retreat. In the prevailing situation, where German units were worn out, the men in terrible physical condition, separated from each other, and have no real cohesive front, fighting retreat was likely to fail and turn into a rout. But given the technical inferiority of soviet army and its grave deficits in coordination, holding fast was the right thing to do and probably saved the German army from suffering its 1944 experience in early 1942.

2. Holding onto Stalingrad and not breaking out. Many books have been written about how hitlr doomed the 6th army by preventing it from breaking out when menstein came within a few dozen kilometers of relieving it. This overlooks the fact that another entire German army, the first panzer army, was at the same time busy retreating from the Caucasus. If the 6th army succeeeded in breaking out of soviet encirclement, it was still no fit fighting force, while a million well equipped and mobile soviet troops tasked with keeping the ring around Stalingrad would suddenly be freed up to move to block the retreat of the 1st panzer army, and probably destroyed that formation as well.

Any others?
Strategically, the invasion of Soviet Union beyond Poland was a mistake, an unachievable objective as much a mistake as Napoleon made in 1812. Right or wrong tactical choices won't make any difference, wouldn't it?

The only chance, that actually happened in the history, that a smaller country (in size of land and population) can overrun a much bigger opponent is when the bigger one is already in internal chaos, disintegrating and factions within is assisting the invading power. That was not Soviet Union in the 1940s.
 
I'm of course answering on the presumption it's just armchair generalling and we aren't praising Wars, Ideologies or nothing
...

Any others?
more tactical thing now: sending Luftwaffe (I'm not that good to know Luftflotte numbers :) to neutralize the Soviet push for Kharkov in Spring of 1942 ... keywords would be 'air superiority', 'close air support'

LOL now I'll wait if you react to any of the above
 

solarz

Brigadier
The thing with these kinds of analyses is that hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to say looking back, they should have done X, Y, and Z.

I agree with Taxiya that the invasion of the Soviet Union was the biggest mistake for Nazi Germany.
 

Richard Santos

Junior Member
Registered Member
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Alexander conquered the vastly larger Persian empire at a time when the Persian empire did not suffer from internal breakdown. Pizarro also conquered the Inca empire while the later was cohesive. German invasion of the Soviet Union came far closer to succeeding than most post war accounts might suggest. In fact, had Germany not rebuffed stalin's offer to effectively capitulate in sept-oct 1941, Germany would have not only won, but would had done so by its own time table.
 

B.I.B.

Senior Member
Strategically, the invasion of Soviet Union beyond Poland was a mistake, an unachievable objective as much a mistake as Napoleon made in 1812. Right or wrong tactical choices won't make any difference, wouldn't it?

The only chance, that actually happened in the history, that a smaller country (in size of land and population) can overrun a much bigger opponent is when the bigger one is already in internal chaos, disintegrating and factions within is assisting the invading power. That was not Soviet Union in the 1940s.
Stalin had purged the army of its experienced officer corps, and the early war years reflected that.
 

B.I.B.

Senior Member
That is true, but the purge only weakened USSR not creating factions that assisted Germany.
Ok, Well there was the Ukrainian desire for independence, and the widespread anger with Stalins genocide by famine a few years earlier which could have made them willing collaborators of the invading Germans.In fact the 14th SS Wafen Grenadier Division contained a high percentage of Ukrainians. It was the harsh treatment of the Ukrainians by the Germans ( a lot were deported for slave labor) that lost them the initial support.
Although their population was too small be of any significance, the same could be said of the Crimean Tartars.
 
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