Wednesday, 12 October 2016

On German Losses

"There is confusion regarding the alleged precision... I'm not going to speak for the Western Allies, that's not my topic, but I had to work with German losses. And believe me, the mess with their counting of losses is much greater than ours. We had a very specific Form #8, "Report on Losses", everyone had to fill it out, if it had to be revised then another form would be submitted. The Germans had nothing like this. As for the German data, you can take a look at just one period, with static positions, let's say Sevastopol. Here's a report by the army Senior Quartermaster. Compare it to the list of names of killed officers. They counted officers separately and NCOs and soldiers separately. The difference in numbers can be as high as 50%, one and a half times higher when you count them by name.
...
Overall, if you take 1944 and count the losses in Bagration, it's a horrible mess. Reports on losses get delayed until the fall. That same 17th Army in Crimea that was defeated on the peninsula only reports its losses several weeks later. They were only counted several weeks later. If we take the 10-day report of the medical service for the army, the number of losses in Crimea are almost an order of magnitude less than the losses that were actually taken and reported on later. This precision is greatly exaggerated. It's the opposite: the Germans were more interested in what they had now, and the losses they sustained, well, the numbers were often counted very poorly. Paulus' army doctor at Stalingrad writes reports, compare it with the 10-day reports, the difference is huge, 20%. Where it comes from, it's hard to say, but it's there a lot. The lower the level, the deeper you have to dig to discover precise numbers."

Aleksei Isayev, Battle for Moscow

23 comments:

  1. There is nothing wrong about german loss reportings. What is wrong is that the historians do not make their job properly.
    Of course, loss data have been recorded according to the knowledge at datum. What was important was the strength numbers, though little could be done about units which were encircled and behind enemy lines with severed lines of communication or HQ units destroyed. This is noted by an asteriks in source data or by the use of the term "Teilmeldung" or "ohne Meldung". Data for missing units could only be added by means of "Nachmeldung", which was done, though later if knowledge permitted.

    In comparison, soviet losses for the period were large command structures were disabled during the big encirclements during 1941 and 1942 were NOT reported AT ALL.

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    1. Yup, it's all the historians that don't do their jobs properly, there can't be anything wrong with the source material at all! Units that were encircled and fell behind enemy lines had their documents fall into Soviet hands. These documents are available to Russian historians like Isayev (and soon to all historians thanks to the excellent digitization effort). What's your excuse for those numbers being bunk?

      Plus Yuri Pasholok straight up advises people to not bother looking at German armour losses/repairs/shipments because, in his words, "the Germans love to cheat here". My blog is full of episodes where Tigers still listed with the battalion turn up in the Soviet rear with reporters crawling all over them. Wonderful, simply perfect record keeping.

      But sure, that's not any problem with the original documents, it's the fault of all the historians, honest.

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    2. To me, a key point is that given the German figures, there is a huge discrepancy between estimates of what vehicles the Germans have available at the front and what's actually working. The German figures essentially show no change in overall AFV strength throughout 1943-45, irregardless of how the war is going. Here's one estimate (from a pro-German source, too, that praises German armour and denigrates Soviet):

      http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.com/2013/01/tank-strength-and-losses-eastern-front.html

      In which he contends that German AFV strength on the Eastern Front remained fairly constant, at 4,000 vehicles give or take from 1943-45. This is roughly sync (though a bit higher) with figures I've seen published elsewhere, such as as by Steven Newton. This source places it even higher (hovering around 5,000 AFV on the Eastern front by war's end):

      http://ww2-weapons.com/russian-vs-german-tanks-in-ww-ii/

      But if you start looking at German vehicles listed as "operational" then you don't see the Germans forces holding steady throughout the war at all. Instead, you see a steady decline as the Germans really are losing the battle of attrition, despite what their keyboard warriors 75 years later say. The Germans may have had 4,000 AFV (or more) on the Eastern front in December 1943, but they had only 1,800 tanks and assault guns actually working. An old S&T article by Dunningan and Nofi I had listed of German operational strength on the Eastern front, and I can't find it, but as I recall the figures of vehicles actually in working order after 1943 typically were no higher than 2,500 and often less; by Jan 1945 it was down to about 1,500 vehicles (not over 4,000, let along 5,000). During the defensive phase of Kursk, while the number of German AFV "at hand" barely budged, the number of *working* German AFV fell by something like 1100 during Citadel; indeed it's even possible that the destroyed + damaged German total during the German offensive period might have slightly exceeded the destroyed + damaged Soviet total suffered while on the defense (oh, the horrors!!).

      The easiest explanation for the discrepancy between "on hand" and "working" is battlefield losses, of equipment that the Germans labeled merely "damaged" and kept on the books but much of it never got repaired. And, as others have noted, there is no way that the the claimed kill ratios mathematically work. You can't take Germans claims that they're killing 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, or whatever during the 43-45 period at least, when production figures are 2:1 (or less) even given the Second Front. You can't make these kill ratios mesh with the fact that the number of working German tanks declined while the Soviet tank park and tanks-at-the front numbers climb.

      True, there were some hiccups in Soviet tank strength during the war, like in late 1943, then the at-front strength declined to 5,800 operational vehicles, but Newton notes that at the same time the Soviet tank park was still climbing--it had climbed up to almost 19,000 vehicles at the same time. The problem here was that during their offensives, the Soviets were NOT "running out of tanks", but that as Soviet units advanced, they outran their ability to refit their units and recrew tanks easily. It was a simply a logistical problem.

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    3. Perhaps You need to understand what these sources mean. Strength reports are made to inform upper command echelons about what is aviable to what degree. These reports are fairly detailed, and include operational tanks, tanks in short time repair and those in long term repair, sometimes with more detail about the time required for repair. Additionally, sometimes, the number of tanks send to the unit (but not yet arrived) are given.

      Ready rates of 40% to 60% are fairly typical for the german Panzerforces, which stand in constant combat. Ready rates higher than 70% are exceptional and only occur in preperation phases with low intensity of fighting. The germans do not have the benefit of the soviets in relying on a high quantity stream of replacement vehicles to keep ready rates up. They need to repair their damaged vehicles.

      Losses at Kursks were decisively higher for the soviets. This has been evidenced by internal summeries of irrecoverable losses made by Zaev, officially classified SECRET, which testifies that >1600 AFV were lost irrecoverably. Those which were only knocked out but repairable are not even included.


      Russian claims for Citadel are just: Ridiculous. 3700 german aircraft and 3572 german AFV were claimed destroyed in the period July 5th to July 15th, including over 700 TIGER (did these soviet historians even bother about the fact that until june 43 only 400 TIGER were manufactured?), which was later reduced to 1,500 "certain destructions".
      Then, in 1998, the now russian Historians (B. Solovov´ev) still rely on this number of 1500 german AFV destroyed, while information on soviet losses were scarce. Casting the official number of soviet AFV losses in doubt, he then claimed the soviet troops have lost 6,064 tanks and AFV at Kursks based upon his own investigation. A number, which is believed to include damaged vehicles. This number reappears in Kiroseev and B. Sokolovs work. The number of soviet irrecoverable tank losses officially used is 1,749 AFV.

      The Soviets did in fact cheat knowingly their loss statistics to make it appear lower. This has been confirmed for the different compilation of lists for the battles in the northern salient where different internal soviet documents give very different loss numbers for the same units -and make counting mistakes by intentionally exclude the losses of the reinforcement units received from the Steppe front-

      Actual irrecoverable losses in Hgr. Süd and Hgr. Nord at Citadel were only 248 tanks and AFV, and only 12 of which were TIGER tanks.

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    1. Keep going, I'm almost there!

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    3. Hey critical mass, prove it or go away.

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    4. No need to prove anything. I do not judge. Check Cheating at Oboyan blog, and You will see that the soviet units which were compared with the german claims had nothing to do with the events under discussion while those units which were involved have been excluded from the article.
      Same for Koerner the Conjurer (missing the 5th Shock Army´s Heavy tank Regiments and the whole of the 2nd GTC while comparing it with a unit which wasn´t even there), Deception at Danzig (missing contact area of 2nd Shock Army), Bix´s tricks (incorrect site identification: Stargard instead of Starograd / Preußisch Stargard) and others...

      These are secondary interpretors mistakes, not problems of the primary sources.

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    5. Yes, Pasholok, Isayev, Zaloga, myself, and many others are all a part of Putin's great scheme!

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    6. Who said anything about Zaloga? I adressed Pasholok´s advice to skip over and neglect primary sources. A procedure which would disqualify any historian worth mentioning, anywhere in the world outside the communists and post communist propaganda schools.
      The inability to comprehend and deal with primary source material is the historians failure.

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    7. Zaloga also wrote that the Germans cheated on their records, that's why I brought him up. Pasholok doesn't say skip over primary sources, he says treat them with a grain of salt, just like Zaloga, just like Isayev. The conspiracy is all in your head.

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    8. Peter, then perhaps You can explain Yourselfe because that´s not what You said previously:

      "Plus Yuri Pasholok straight up advises people to not bother looking at German armour losses/repairs/shipments because, in his words, "the Germans love to cheat here"."-Peter S.

      This quote is certainly indicating, at least to me, that You seem to ascribe Y. Pasholok that one should skip over primary sources.

      I´d certainly agree that sources have not to be treated unreflected but need to be understood in a specific context, which is why Historians are advised not to ignore source data from their respective perspectives. F.e. reports to the front may serve propaganda issues but classified documents for internal circulation do serve other purposes and can be more reliable. The problem with later additions to losses is well understood within those who know how to deal with these data and have to be considered. Russian delays for reporting of lost tanks usually is limited to two days, though cases exist where this is much exceeded. Losses on personal is frequently incomplete and selective but strength figures and replacement figures are more reliable.

      However, that being said, I don´t see "cheating" in german sources, if You are able to handle them. And for what´s worth, I do work with german, british and russian primary source material in archives on a regular base.

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    9. Ok, then explain the specific context that doesn't count tanks as lost when they are posing for Soviet photographers. Your mental gymnastics in the defense of nazis are quite impressive, and your imagination is enviable. Perhaps you should start your own blog so that your endless walls of text do not get lost in my comments.

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    10. I don´t know such a case. Damaged or abandoned tanks known to be captured would be listed as irrecoverable losses.

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    11. Really? I have plenty on my site. Also, you know, Pasholok wrote about it, but he's a part of a Putinist conspiracy so it doesn't count, right?

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    12. No. You have some but these do not confirm Your claims. In once case german sources report a couple of TIGER lost and a couple of TIGER are shown in the photograph. You, however, blindly belived that these four-five TIGER are evidence for the propaganda calim that in reality ~50 (in words: fifty) TIGER were lost.

      But then again, this isn´t shown in the photo, so You don´t have a valid case.

      Plus, from my own working experience with ww2 soviet photographs, I can only stress that faking photographs was a common method for ww2 soviet propaganda, editing things in and out was a standart practice, particularely in material forwarded to press release.

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    13. Yup, everything Soviet is fake, everything German is real. Except the German things you find inconvenient, those were interpreted incorrectly by biased historians. You sure have taken up a very comfortable position.

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    14. You clearly give that image.

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  4. It's always sad and disgusting to find an idiot still defending the Nazis.

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