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(1939-1945) WWII Battles
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Brian W
Atlanta
GA USA
Posts: 784

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/5/2019 7:40:09 PM

This is a really interesting series free on Amazon Prime. They mentioned that the Germans bombed Moscow exactly one month after Barbarossa.
How could that be possible? I need to research that. That is quite some feat.

The other issue is the fixation of Moscow and the abandoning of Moscow as an objective. As if it was a major blunder. In my opinion, Moscow was a meaningless objective. Trying to capture and the eventual capture of Moscow was totally meaningless. The generals needed goals and they focused on that, but the war in the east was a different animal altogether. It was about ideology.

Thoughts?
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Brian Grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 2708

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/6/2019 12:25:25 AM

Brian W, you raise a bundle of good question. Am I to assume that you're raising these from a documentary offered on TV called "Soviet Storm"?

As to bombing Moscow on August 22, I'd have to check the location of the front lines on that date, but Germany had developed bombers who could fly from rough fields as close to the front as they dared. None of their bombers at the time, at least to my knowledge, had long legs. But four weeks into what was supposed to be a six-week war, it may have been possible for select Luftwaffe squadrons to reach Moscow. And I would assume that a single bomb dropped on Moscow would have the same impact as the first RAF raid on Berlin. If there was little damage, there was huge propaganda and psychological benefits.

Hell, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo was a colossal waste of time as a military exercise. But as a propaganda exercise, the Doolittle Raid was one of the most important acts for US forces in 1942.

You also mention: Quote:
The other issue is the fixation of Moscow and the abandoning of Moscow as an objective. As if it was a major blunder. In my opinion, Moscow was a meaningless objective. Trying to capture and the eventual capture of Moscow was totally meaningless.

This may simply be a different world view between 2019 and 1942-3-4-5.

Thinking with my fingers for a moment. Germany found that until Warsaw fell the Polish campaign was not considered over. During the invasion fo the west, Germany either hit or threatened to hit major/capital cities. During the fall of France, the German troop march through the heart of Paris was a statement of defeat.

Did the Germans equate Soviet Russia to Western European? Or did Germany really think Russia stopped at Moscow? Seems they might have, and I would suggest they lost a war not only because they didn't understand Soviet values but because they misassessed the relationship between the expanse of Soviet Russia and the Moscow elite whose commitment was to keep whatever distorted version of Lenin's values alive.

And while I agree with you that ideology was a major part of that ugliest of wars, the comment applies to both sides. And in looking for a bottom line: one had to win battles the old-fashioned way.

I don't have access to this show. Don't have the funds to "buy into such shows." But it sounds as if it would be a challenging study.

Cheers
Brian G

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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 990

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/6/2019 10:13:57 AM

Brian W,

Three raids in late July 41, nights of the 22/23, 23/24 and 24/25 made by HE111's. Sources agree on 195 bombers the first night but vary on the number the next two, 115 to 185 on the second and 100 to 158 on the third. Soviets reported civilian casualties in Moscow for July/Aug 1941 of 736 dead and 3,513 wounded. There were much smaller raids with as few as 10-12 bombers most nights until the end of the year. Now because the Soviets built up AA defenses and brought in mote fighter sqd to the area there were night few in any bombers reached the city. The book "Black Cross/Red Star" is a good source on the air was in the East.(believe its in 2 volumes but I've only read the first, really need to get to the 2nd)
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 990

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/6/2019 2:14:22 PM

Brian W,

While I agree the war in the East was a "clash of ideology" I don't agree that Moscow was a meaningless objective. Moscow was tactically important as a modern command and control center, a transportation hub and a communication hub in a technologically backward country while it was imperative as a symbol of Soviet power and control. Remember there were a hell of a lot of Soviet citizens who greeted the Germans with open arms and a hell of a lot that fought with them against the Soviet Union.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Brian W
Atlanta
GA USA
Posts: 784

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/6/2019 7:14:05 PM

John,

Yeah, I shouldn't have said "meaningless". I meant it was meaningless (in my opinion) to head hell-bent to Moscow hoping to bring the war to a speedy end. As Brian mentions, it did indeed work with the other countries. So it is understandable that the generals would think the same. I just find it's mentioned a lot by some documentaries as to the reason the Germans didn't win the war. They already had plans to move the capital anyway. But, yes, it would've been a huge blow. And also I can't imagine the casualties that Germans would've incurred since it wouldn't be a simple case of surrounding Moscow and waiting for the surrender (case in point Stalingrad).
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John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 990

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/7/2019 10:39:38 AM

Brian W,

I agree with you the fall of Moscow doesn't win the war but it would have brought about the fall of Stalin IMHO and I'm not sure that would have been such a bad thing. There is a German report from early 42 that there were well over 400,000 Soviet citizens serving in active combat or direct support roles with the German Army in the Soviet Union and that number grows through the war. The Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians and Cossaks had multiple combat Divisions and lesser sized units and there wasn't a company sized unit that didn't have its fair share of Hiwi's. They weren't fighting against Mother Russia or for the Nazi ideology but against Stalin and his form of communism. Without them can the German Army function as well as it did with them?

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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Brian W
Atlanta
GA USA
Posts: 784

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/7/2019 7:06:24 PM

I think the better target would've been Leningrad. It's considered the cultural heart of Russia. It was already encircled and divisions were diverted to the attack on Moscow which allowed for the relief of Leningrad in the end. It's just a hopeless scenario all around.
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Brian Grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 2708

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/7/2019 10:00:23 PM

John R., thanks for the reference to Black Cross/Red Star. Thanks too for the details on those Heinkell III raids. On consulting a map, I was reminded exactly how far the German advance penetrated in the first month!

You say/ask: Quote:
The Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians and Cossaks had multiple combat Divisions and lesser sized units and there wasn't a company sized unit that didn't have its fair share of Hiwi's. They weren't fighting against Mother Russia or for the Nazi ideology but against Stalin and his form of communism. Without them can the German Army function as well as it did with them?

Many years ago I taught with a man who had emigrated from one of the Baltic republics with his parents after the wars after WWII. I believe he was Lithuanian.

His father fought against the Russians when they arrived in 1939, against the Germans when they invaded in 1941 and then for the Germans once Germany had taken over his country. Come 1944 and he fought as a partisan against both entrenched Germans and Russian "liberators". That went on for some time after the official VE day. Oscar's argument was that in a war you fight for who controls the food. Oscar taught history. Oscar was a cynic.

I'm not sure Oscar's father was typical, but his story talks to the complexity of the make-up of troops on both sides this part of the war. There were SS troops from Holland, Norway and Sweden willing to fight with Germany; there were elite Spanish troops who fought on the East Front. The Continuation War saw Finns allied with Germany for three years in an assault on Russia. And that’s without talking about the Hungarian, Bulgarian, Romanian troops who were on the line.

I agree that those who connected with German forces were not fighting against the Rodina, but IMHO only the folks of the Pale might make the distinction you suggest between Mother Russia and Stalin’s horrendous depredations.

I know we’re not supposed to buy into this idea, but doesn’t it seem possible that those who fought with Germany by choice might be doing so because they were comfortable with Nazi values?

I must admit I have trouble finding universal values in Mein Kampf, and I find it hard to agree with racial degradation in any form. But IMHO much of Europe and North America didn’t find the concept difficult at all. Quotas on Jewish immigrants; rejection of South Asians; denial of rights of citizenship for Orientals; incarceration of Japanese who were American citizens: these were part of North America’s actions prior to and during the war.

I could argue that Nazi values were in sync with many European values. I’ve read those delightful Dorothy Sayers “Wimsey” novels, where she describes the Jew as a lisping, grasping moneybags keeping his female children in a kind of purdah. Sayers, by the was was also a lauded translator of Dante. Those two distinctions strike me as anomalous, to be honest.

Jews were not popular anywhere in Europe. Ugly to say, but true. Romas were also vilified, and are still seldom welcome. Germany simply codified loathing, and placed restrictions on basic living functions, so to ignore the German excesses meant a support of German values was, in its way, merely a support for European cultural predominance.

But to the question tagged at the end of your quote, before I go onto autopilot on your initial statements. I don’t know how much was gained by using certain non-German troops.

I would think that for Nazi-indoctrinated troops, there was an automatic mistrust concerning non-German or non-Aryan troops, and a lot of troops from Italy and Spain (and, be it noted, India and Pakistan, who are linked linguistically to the Aryan language groups) would be seen more as a liability than an asset. It’s not that the troops weren’t sound, but that they weren’t truly Aryan.

Sorry, lotta verbiage here. But I’m arguing that it is too simple to explain change of sides – even in the quickly captured western regions of the USSR – simply to see it as an anti-Stalin action. I’m not ignoring what was by now Stalin’s years long viciousness against many of the the western parts of Russia, including Ukraine and Georgia. I am suggesting that between October 1939 and July 1941 there would be some rumours at least about the treatment of Slavs and Jews and Romas in what had been Poland.

Sorry, going off on a tangent. It just crosses my mind that we tend to make very complex issues understandable in too easy form.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 990

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/10/2019 9:19:59 AM

Brian G,

There was also a anti-communist bias in play in all of Western Europe and lets not forget that the Soviet Union joined in the attack on Poland while attacking the Baltic states and Finland in 1939 that put the fear into Eastern Europe. These reasons had very little to do with Nazi values other than the fact that they were anti-communist.

If I'm not mistaken if a non German or Austrian wanted to fight for Germany in the early years of the war they had to do so in the Waffen SS, by law.

From what I've read, and not specific to WWII, nationality, race or color took a back seat to combat record. The two Spanish Blue Divisions were warmly received wherever they were deployed by neighboring German units because their training, equipment and most importantly leadership made them effective fighting forces the same can't be said for very few of the Italian or other allied countries units in Russia.

I don't know if you have any knowledge of the "Forrest Brothers" movement in Estonia but give it a read if you can its a lot like what you describe as your friend father's experience.

I don't really see it as "changing sides" because they were never really on the Soviet side to begin with. It wasn't the all volunteer army but universal conscription. There were no peaceful protests to Stalin's policy there was the gulags of NKVD prisons for the lucky, the executioner for the rest. Kook what happened to captured Polish officers and community leaders in 39 and to the Polish Home Army in Warsaw in 44. There was no impeachment for the leader who starved to death over 5mil Ukrainians.

With respect aren't you in a way guilty of simplification in a different direction? They fought with the Germans so that have to share their evil values.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Brian Grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 2708

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/10/2019 10:27:20 PM

John R, you may be right about me being "in a way guilty of simplification in a different direction? They fought with the Germans so that have to share their evil values."

I've already written a (too) lengthy response to your comment. It disappeared. I don't have the energy to try to recreate the thread I wrote.

Short version: I think you misremembered my post. I was arguing that many western nations shared some German attitudes, and that they could and did support some German values without supporting any German solutions.

Briefly, while there were a host of politicians (amongst them WSC) who despised bolshevism, the years in Europe between the wars saw huge support for socialist parties, whether in France, England, Spain or Germany. There were also folks who supported Communist values. There is a difference. And the Bolshevik potential resurrection in Germany of 1918 suggest bolshevik rather than socialist hopes and commitments.

You say: Quote:
There was also a anti-communist bias in play in all of Western Europe.
There was. Its one of the negatives about WSC IMHO. But there was also a strong and growing Labour Party in Britain, there was a strong socialist movement in France. Socialists were in power in Spain. And in Germany, the Nazis and the Socialists were the two major parties, with the Communist party playing a challenging role.

With respect, I think you misunderstand or misrepresent both the Winter War and the Continuation War. Finland fought against Soviet aggression because the Soviets wanted to take over Finnish territory. (And it's worth thinking about why Russia wanted to do that. IMHO, it was expected German assault.) They committed to the Continuation War because they had lost territory to the Soviet Union at the end of the Winter War and wanted their land back.

One quick further comment. To suggest that Soviet arms during the Winter War caused fear of Soviet forces seems simply incorrect. Soviet action against the Finns was pathetic. One of the reasons why Barbarossa was expected to succeed so quickly is because of the poor showing of Russian troops against the Finns.

I'm not a fan of Stalin in any way. But I think to suggest that folks from Eastern European nations engaged in war against the Soviet Union made their choice because of Stalin is to forget other values. I get that they may have had no choice but to ally themselves with either German forces or Soviet forces. But it is an insult to their national culture to suggest they acted against either Stalin or the regime he stood for.

I may be wrong, of course. But at this point in my reading of the war on the Ostfront, it was not quite so much a decision against Stalin and his version of bolshevism as a series of decisions made concerning how to protect one's own nation.

Lot's more to say. I lost a much longer post.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan
MI USA
Posts: 5554

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/11/2019 7:50:35 PM

A daily take on WWII in Europe, via a map view in 7 minutes!?

[Read More]

pretty cool, any comments?
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 990

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/12/2019 9:35:22 AM

Brian G,

I've tried to respond but I keep losing the post
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Brian Grafton
Victoria
BC Canada
Posts: 2708

Soviet Storm: World War II in the the East
Posted on: 11/12/2019 7:52:10 PM

John R, I go through that same problem as well. I have a sneaking hunch it is Brian W's way of demonstrating we're long-winded!

Whenever you can get to it, I'll look forward to your post. I may not like what you write, of course: you and I often hold different views, and you are a formidable opponent. But this thread has reminded me of how much I forgotten about both the East Front and the various forms of support and collaboration that supported the key contestants on the Eastern Front. No doubt, your post will give me plenty of food for thought.

Cheers
Brian G

PS: Just a minor anecdote on the side. While driving into Madrid in 1960 in a three-car convoy (4 Aussie girls on walkabout in a VW; 2 Canucks in a Renault Dauphine; one German from Hamburg in a VW) we were hailed with "Hummel Hummel" from the back of a motor scooter. That is (was?) a greeting to a person from Hamburg from one who has visited Hamburg; the response is "Mors Mors". Günther (lead car in the convoy that day) pulled to a halt to chat. Turns out the scooter guy was in a Blue Division and did some training in Hamburg.

As I say, just an aside. But we met with both driver and passenger of that scooter thoughout our time in Madrid; they became our unofficial tourist guides.
B
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

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