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  #101  
Old 01-01-2019, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Railer13 View Post
I find no evidence to corroborate this statement, and I actually find it hard to believe. I've found documentation that states that up to 3 million Soviet POW soldiers died at the hands of the Germans, through starvation or execution, but nothing that backs up your statement.

Can you provide a cite, please?
You find no evidence because the Soviets never published the exact amount (and you probably aren't willing to connect the dots and dig into the question very hard). I can show you a cite showing that the NKVD arrested over 600k troops in 1941 alone (some of which were shot out of hand, some of which were 'sent back to the front' (usually as shock troops) and some of which simply disappeared), the use throughout the war of 'blocking troops' and, of course, general order number 227 which didn't allow Soviet troops to retreat 'not a step back!'. These actions killed millions of Soviet soldiers and significantly increased the overall Soviet death toll (as well as their heavy handed use of troops and general disregard for individual Soviet soldiers lives). That's why just saying the Soviets lost X million speaks as much to their own callous disregard for their soldiers and their initial incompetence (gods know how many died because of Stalin's idiot purges in the 30's and his general incompetence early on in the war). To put it in some perspective, the Soviets lost something like 20+ million soldiers. The Germans, fighting multiple foes on multiple fronts in a war that ultimately destroyed the regime and country lost between 4-6 million. Hell, the Soviets lost something like 200,000 troops in their invasion of Finland (which was part of why Hitler thought he could
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  #102  
Old 01-01-2019, 01:19 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
1. As I said, 1.6:1 was the greatest disparity along the front, with most of the time being somewhat less.

2. But the Russians used their numbers well to concentrate forces at key points and basically keep the Germans reeling from late 1942 onwards. Kursk was certainly not a triumph of German operational planning, but I guess you can make the case that the full on Russian asskicking didn't occur until after that.
1. Yes you did say that but that's a questionable number AFAIK, definitely so in terms of total combat power advantage of the Soviets including huge superiority in numbers of tanks, artillery and a/c in mid/later war.

2. But that is still true, the Soviets did amplify their numerical/material superiority (though 1.6 max is a significant underestimate of it) in key locations. And it wasn't only because of Allied Ultra but overall Soviet intelligence, deception, etc capabilities.
  #103  
Old 01-02-2019, 08:03 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Because the Soviets had access to Ultra intelligence.
Can you cite that? As a Cryptologic Technician in the mid-seventies I've had a keen interest in Ultra and Magic both and have not heard this. A quick Google search came up dry.
  #104  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
As I said, 1.6:1 was the greatest disparity along the front, with most of the time being somewhat less. But the Russians used their numbers well to concentrate forces at key points and basically keep the Germans reeling from late 1942 onwards. Kursk was certainly not a triumph of German operational planning, but I guess you can make the case that the full on Russian asskicking didn't occur until after that.
Where do you get that 1.6:1 ratio?

From what I could find, after about Nov 1942, it was roughly 2:1, and only got higher after July 1944 (right before Operation Bagration), and was 4:1 by the war's end.

The Red Army was at its largest in mid-1943, but the German inability to keep up with losses, meant that the ratio got much larger as time went on.

And a 2:1 ratio is pretty significant. That means you can muster your usual 3:1 ratio for attacks without necessarily giving your opponent a similar ratio elsewhere.

https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/wa...r-ii-to-today/

Last edited by bump; 01-02-2019 at 11:25 AM.
  #105  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:42 AM
Railer13 Railer13 is offline
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Mikhaelov lists 994,300 dead killed because of conviction of military offenses.
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You find no evidence because the Soviets never published the exact amount (and you probably aren't willing to connect the dots and dig into the question very hard). I can show you a cite showing that the NKVD arrested over 600k troops in 1941 alone (some of which were shot out of hand, some of which were 'sent back to the front' (usually as shock troops) and some of which simply disappeared), the use throughout the war of 'blocking troops' and, of course, general order number 227 which didn't allow Soviet troops to retreat 'not a step back!'. These actions killed millions of Soviet soldiers and significantly increased the overall Soviet death toll (as well as their heavy handed use of troops and general disregard for individual Soviet soldiers lives). That's why just saying the Soviets lost X million speaks as much to their own callous disregard for their soldiers and their initial incompetence (gods know how many died because of Stalin's idiot purges in the 30's and his general incompetence early on in the war). To put it in some perspective, the Soviets lost something like 20+ million soldiers. The Germans, fighting multiple foes on multiple fronts in a war that ultimately destroyed the regime and country lost between 4-6 million. Hell, the Soviets lost something like 200,000 troops in their invasion of Finland (which was part of why Hitler thought he could
I found a snippet in the book Smersh: Stalin's Secret Weapon by Dr. Vadim Birstein, which states that 994,300 soldiers were convicted by military tribunals during the war. And that 217,080 Soviet soldiers were executed during the war.

But I'm sure you're correct when you state that we'll never know the exact numbers. And it's very obvious that Stalin had absolutely no regard for the lives of his fellow citizens.
  #106  
Old 01-02-2019, 01:59 PM
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War propaganda bears the blame for much of this. Americans would rather forget about the USSR episode altogether because it doesn’t mesh well with the narrative of the US conquering the evil nazis that was and still is pushed onto schoolchildren. Also suppressed is the fact that the vast majority of the German military was conscripted.

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I’m getting a little fed up with Kamaski’s insistence on characterizing things as “lies,” as though there is a willful conspiracy to attack and demonize the Soviets. There’s a saying that goes: “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
There was a willful conspiracy to attack and demonize the Soviets by US intelligence agencies and secret police. Is that in dispute?

Last edited by WillFarnaby; 01-02-2019 at 02:00 PM.
  #107  
Old 01-02-2019, 11:43 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Originally Posted by WillFarnaby View Post
War propaganda bears the blame for much of this. Americans would rather forget about the USSR episode altogether because it doesn’t mesh well with the narrative of the US conquering the evil nazis that was and still is pushed onto schoolchildren. Also suppressed is the fact that the vast majority of the German military was conscripted.
Er... that's "suppressed," is it? Common conspiracy to hide that? Widespread misconception the German armed forces was made up of volunteers? That's a falsehood commonly held, is it?
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  #108  
Old 01-03-2019, 12:22 AM
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There is a lot of misinformation and distortion about WWII. Go ask a thousand random Americans why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, you might get three or four who can give you a good answer.
  #109  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Railer13 View Post
I found a snippet in the book Smersh: Stalin's Secret Weapon by Dr. Vadim Birstein, which states that 994,300 soldiers were convicted by military tribunals during the war. And that 217,080 Soviet soldiers were executed during the war.

But I'm sure you're correct when you state that we'll never know the exact numbers. And it's very obvious that Stalin had absolutely no regard for the lives of his fellow citizens.
Penal battalions / Shtrafbat / Order 227 are what you want to look up with regard to this kind of thing.


Personally, I think that the reason that the Eastern Front isn't covered more is pretty simple:

1. It's natural for countries to play up the contributions of their own forces, especially if the contributions were not trivial. And the US contributions were not trivial, even if they weren't on the scale of the Soviet ones.

2. It fits the popular narrative, even if it's distorted w.r.t. actual history in a lot of places. The idea that the US was a peaceful country that had this war thrust upon it by the Japanese and Germans, and then subsequently armed up and staffed up to become the Arsenal of Democracy and beat the Japanese and Germans simultaneously is a powerful one.

3. Probably most important of all, the Cold War started almost immediately following the end of WWII. There was no motivation for the US government to do anything other than downplay the scale of the Soviet contribution, and where they couldn't do that, there was marginalization in terms of Soviet warfighting skill and technology. The first two points are severely affected by this point- why would the US care to set the record straight during the Cold War and upset the popular narrative? Both of those things worked in the favor of the government during the Cold War.

Interestingly, the Russian losses have turned out to be even higher than the released estimates, based on post-Cold War scholarship. The assumption is that the Soviets downplayed their losses for much the same reasons that the US played up its role- to make themselves look tougher to their Cold War opponents.
  #110  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:39 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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3. Probably most important of all, the Cold War started almost immediately following the end of WWII. There was no motivation for the US government to do anything other than downplay the scale of the Soviet contribution, and where they couldn't do that, there was marginalization in terms of Soviet warfighting skill and technology. The first two points are severely affected by this point- why would the US care to set the record straight during the Cold War and upset the popular narrative? Both of those things worked in the favor of the government during the Cold War.
That however runs somewhat counter to the common similar attitude of 'cold eyed realpolitik' which says the US 'military-industrial complex' exaggerated the Soviet threat. Here they'd be playing it down.

I'd offer some alternatives:
1. the Cold War did start pretty soon after WWII, meaning the West just didn't have accurate information about various aspects of the Soviet effort. Much of what Soviet historians said was inaccurate.

2. the US quickly formed an alliance with the country with the most experience fighting the Soviets, (West) Germany. The Germans, based on the reality of their own experience plus their own biases and tendency to self-justification, didn't think very highly of Soviet tactical capabilities, ever. And, they also tended to overemphasize that aspect, at which their army was probably the best major army in WWII, over higher level aspects of warfare, again as above how the Soviets became skilled at the operational level, and at the strategic level the material mismatch was made a worse by late full war mobilization of the German economy (plus Lend Lease to the Soviets, a non-negligible though not huge element of Soviet material superiority).

The enormous literature of German-written histories and first hand accounts of the EF is pretty consistently not complimentary to Soviet capability per man or unit of combat power. Again in part because this was simply true, in part as a 'lost cause' lament, in part because it missed some of the point of how the Red Army became nonetheless effective against a German Army it could seldom compete with in tactical effectiveness per unit of combat power: by making the terms even less equal in particular battles than the overall order of battle would suggest. Plus Hitler's increasingly counterproductive interference is another 'true in a sense but also an excuse' theme of much Soviet-era German writing about the war.

3. To restate something obvious, there's room for considerable informed disagreement how large and/or 'understated' the Soviet contribution to WWII actually was. Losing people is not itself a contribution. The Soviets made a large contribution, but that's not the correct measure of it. Again especially including considering Japan (and China) not only Germany v the Allies and Soviets. The Soviet contribution was large, and it was probably underemphasized in the minds of people in the West who actually experienced WWII, back when that was a significant % of people. And perhaps now still in the minds of people who have any real idea what WWII was but haven't studied it carefully (but a lot of people, most I'd say in the US, do not have any real idea what WWII was, so how meaningful is it to say they under/overemphasize anything about it?). But the degree is not some fixed value that all reasonable and informed people agree on.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-03-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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