I am intrigued by the state of the German




 
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July 9th, 2013  
MontyB
 
 

Topic: I am intrigued by the state of the German


army at the end of the war, we are led to believe that by 1945 the German army is made up mainly of old men and boys, starved of fuel and supplies yet looking at the videos of German troops surrendering at the end of the war I do not see huge quantities of old men or boys and I see long lines of vehicles loaded with troops and civilians heading off into captivity or at least trying to get back to Germany which doesn't really tie in with the lack of fuel.

I have often wondered what the real state of the Wehrmacht was in May 1945 ever since listening to my father and uncles stories of them being told the war was over by Germans just outside Trieste rather than Allied headquarters, obviously it could not fight on and was beaten but was it in the mess history paints it?

A few videos for reference...

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq32AjE9oMU"]Jagdtigers Surrender at Iserlohn in 1945 - YouTube[/ame]

http://resources.ushmm.org/film/disp...?file_num=3304

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kowbXGifALU"]1945 UNEDITED RAW FOOTAGE! The Wehrmacht Leaves Italy Escorted by the US Army - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc90LIXp6UI"]German soldiers surrender in West Bohemia 1945 part 5 - YouTube[/ame]
October 4th, 2013  
Hutchie
 
When your supply lines are cut off, you're command is surrendering, Russians are rushing towards Berlin and the Luftwaffe has almost been erased , surrender looks pretty good. If I'd been a German soldier, I'd be looking for a white flag to wave and an American or a Brit, to surrender to. By that time, the luster had worn off Hitler long ago.
October 5th, 2013  
MontyB
 
 
I have little doubt that was the case however I have long been interested in how much we really know of WW2 and how much is for want of a better term is "victors propaganda".

We have been told that the German army by 1945 was made up of old men and boys and yet in all of the news reels you see of the period this comment may not hold up to scrutiny certainly there are "old men and boys" in the ranks but they are not the predominant group.
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October 5th, 2013  
senojekips
 
 
My guess is, that although the amount of German troops and armaments seen at the time of surrender may appear great to us, especially once all rounded up and bought together in common mustering points, in view of the amount of Allied equipment and it's associated support arrayed against it, what we see is really insignificant, definitely too little to make a worthwhile stand.

The truth being that the field commanders knew they were beaten and had been for some considerable time, and with Hitler no longer micro managing and threatening them all realised that it was time to do the most sensible thing and save the lives of those remaining.

That's my impression.
October 14th, 2013  
Doppleganger
 
 
Most of the German field commanders probably realised they were beaten after Kursk, the more far-sighted ones well before that. There was still a solid core of experienced, veteran troops but it was, in the end, a numbers game and the allies had far more of everything. The Germans were basically done by 1943 and thereafter could only have expected at best an armistice and somewhat of a return to pre-war borders.

One of the main things that undone the Germans in the end was fuel, or lack thereof. It's one thing to fuel lorries but quite another thing to fuel panzer divisions for offensive operations, or fuel fighter or tactical bomber sorties needed to provide air support to those same formations. However, there were still a good many experienced fighting troops in the Heer. Indeed, Churchill proposed under 'Operation Unthinkable' that 100,000 of these soldiers be drafted into an Anglo-American army to attack the Soviet Union. There's more than a few stories of German formations surrendering to British or American forces and then expecting those same forces to join with them against the Red Army. It might have happened for real had events gone down another path.
October 15th, 2013  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
Most of the German field commanders probably realised they were beaten after Kursk, the more far-sighted ones well before that. There was still a solid core of experienced, veteran troops but it was, in the end, a numbers game and the allies had far more of everything. The Germans were basically done by 1943 and thereafter could only have expected at best an armistice and somewhat of a return to pre-war borders.

One of the main things that undone the Germans in the end was fuel, or lack thereof. It's one thing to fuel lorries but quite another thing to fuel panzer divisions for offensive operations, or fuel fighter or tactical bomber sorties needed to provide air support to those same formations. However, there were still a good many experienced fighting troops in the Heer. Indeed, Churchill proposed under 'Operation Unthinkable' that 100,000 of these soldiers be drafted into an Anglo-American army to attack the Soviet Union. There's more than a few stories of German formations surrendering to British or American forces and then expecting those same forces to join with them against the Red Army. It might have happened for real had events gone down another path.
The wife's Grandfather has been out here for a while now, talking to him about things and his opinion is that it was logistics that became the biggest problem, there was never enough ammunition or replacement equipment.

I have often thought air power was the decisive factor yet he is much more ambivalent about it, he claims that defensively it had little affect, they could man positions and counterattack with few issues locally but they could not launch offensives.

The funny thing is that he says the idea of the war being lost only really became apparent to him in early 1945 which I thought was oddly late in the piece for a guy that was called up in 1942.
October 15th, 2013  
Doppleganger
 
 
A little surprising Monty I agree re your grandfather. I don't know what level he was serving at but even if he wasn't privy to any high level information it was a bit obvious that the tide was turning for Germany in 1943. With the twin offensives of D-Day in the west and Bagration (a disaster for the Germans) in the east it must have been obvious to even the most ardent Nazi in 1944. The Nazi Regime undoubtedly did a fine job of convincing their soldiers that all was well right to the end but it doesn't take a genius to work out that things aren't as rosy your superiors maintain if you're being pushed steadily backwards by your enemies.

I understand his comments re logistics, of which fuel is a part. German industry was a logistical nightmare even when they were doing very well. I also get his comments re airpower - it would really be on the offensive, particularly armoured, that it would have the greatest effect on. It would have been interesting if the forces used in the Battle of the Bulge (and others) had instead been used as a fire brigade to attack extended allied salients as they drove inland. It would have either been a successful operation for the Germans, ala what Manstein wanted to do on the Eastern Front and as demonstrated at the 3rd Battle of Kharkov, or a complete and utter disaster as allied tactical air power rips the German panzers to shreds. Maybe a combination of the two.
October 15th, 2013  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
A little surprising Monty I agree re your grandfather. I don't know what level he was serving at but even if he wasn't privy to any high level information it was a bit obvious that the tide was turning for Germany in 1943. With the twin offensives of D-Day in the west and Bagration (a disaster for the Germans) in the east it must have been obvious to even the most ardent Nazi in 1944. The Nazi Regime undoubtedly did a fine job of convincing their soldiers that all was well right to the end but it doesn't take a genius to work out that things aren't as rosy your superiors maintain if you're being pushed steadily backwards by your enemies.
From what I gather he ended the war as an NCO.
I do not believe he has ever claimed they could win the war what he described it as is the difference between believing things were not going well but there was still a chance and knowing that all was lost, they knew things were not going well all over but it wasn't until early 1945 that it became absolutely obvious all was lost.

It has been incredibly difficult getting any information out of him and I am really not trying to push him but he will talk about places he went, people he met etc. but very little about actual experiences I get the impression that it is part of his life he would sooner not be known for as he will talk your ear off about post war Germany.
October 20th, 2013  
MikeP
 
 
I think the pics from the end of the war are of troops concentrated for surrender or something similar.
Also they look mostly like REMFs, as the combat guys would still be sweating it out in some forward area. They also appear clean and well fed.
I always had a lot of disrespect for the CO who surrendered the TDs. Doctrine generally dictates destruction before giving them up.
There were Submarine Commanders who, despite orders, had big enough balls to scuttle their boats.
October 20th, 2013  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeP
I always had a lot of disrespect for the CO who surrendered the TDs. Doctrine generally dictates destruction before giving them up.
There were Submarine Commanders who, despite orders, had big enough balls to scuttle their boats.
I think there were two reasons for this:
1) As Doppleganger pointed I suspect the regiment surrendered the vehicles because they had every intention of using them again against the Russians.

2) I suspect CO was simply following orders as part of the surrender process was that material was not to be destroyed, this was after done after Germany had surrendered this isn't a capitulation while fighting was still going on.
 


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