By Walter DuBlanica
The biggest ground war in human history took place in Europe from September 1939 to May 1945. It has been more than 75 years since this war ended. But WWII has not been quantified to date in any single source. Many books have been written about WWII in Europe.
There are two factors that need to be quantified :
Russia produced 97% of it’s own weapons. This is based on a declassified U.S. Army document that I read in a library at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in 1956.
The breakdown of weapons produced by the Russians is as follows :
100% of their own artillery ( second to none)
100 % of their own small arms (the AK-47 came in 1947)
99% of their own tanks ( their T-34 was the best tank in WWII)
93 % of their own aircraft
80 % of their own trucks
95 % of the European axis forces that got killed in WWII , got killed on the Eastern (Russian) Front.
Killing 100,000 first rate troops at the beginning or middle of the war is more of a military accomplishment than capturing 1,000,000 beaten, second rate troops in the closing months of the war. This percentage (95%) can be confirmed by doing a time line analysis of WWII from September 1939 to May 1945. In the book “ A Stranger to Myself” by German soldier Willy Reese , the British historian Sir Max Hastings in the introduction states that 95% of the Axis forces got killed on the Russian front. First time I have seen this figure in writing.
These numbers are presented with REMORSE for the 2 civil wars the Europeans got into in the 20th century that consumed 10’s of millions of lives. How much better and more secure would the world be if these conflicts could/should have been avoided.
Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939. A few days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Western historians describe the 1939-1940 years as the “PHONEY WAR” ,since almost no fighting took place.
On the eve of WWII ,France had the largest and most powerful army in Europe- on paper. When the Germans took Paris in the spring of 1940, they lost fewer troops in taking Paris than they did in attempting but never succeeded in taking a building in Stalingrad defended by Sgt. Pavlov and his squad of a dozen heroic Soviet soldiers. Pavlov’s house still stands in Stalingrad.
The French finally admitted 25 years after the war that more
French collaborated and assisted the Nazi’s than fought them. The last German Iron Cross ( the equivalent of the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor) was awarded to a Frenchman in the battle of Berlin. He was in the French S.S. Charlemagne division. This division was wiped out by the Russians.
The first British soldier was killed in France in December ,1939. In December of 1939 they lost a total of 4 soldiers. In the spring of 1940 the Germans attacked after a winter lull . The 300,000 British troops abandoned their weapons in France and returned to Britain. The “PHONEY War “covers the 1939-1940 period. The British returned to Europe in force in June ,1944 during the invasion of France. The fighting in France was much bigger militarily than the fighting on the Italian peninsula in 1943 or North Africa in 1942/1943.
LIBERATION of WESTERN UKRAINE & BYELORUSSIA
On September 17, 1939 the Russians entered Polish occupied western Ukraine and Byelorussia and liberated from the Polish dictatorship approximately 5,000,000 Ukrainians, Russians, and Byelorussians . They greeted their liberation by the Russians with joy.
The Curzon Line was established at the end of WWI and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It accurately defined the proper boundaries between Poland and the Ukraine and Byelorussia
During the Russian revolution of 1917/1921 the Poles attacked and moved east of the Curzon Line by approximately 125 miles and for a period of approximately 20 years ruled over a population of 5,000,000 non-Polish people. The Polish regime was
repressive and can best be described as a fascist military dictatorship which was resented by the Russians , Ukrainians, and Byelorussians. Those responsible for the repression paid the final price at Katyn. The present day boundary approximates the Curzon line established after WWI.
GERMANY invades the SOVIET UNION
On June 22, 1941 Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union. German allies included Austria, Italy, Hungary, Finland and Romania with total combined population of 170,000,000. In addition Germany had collaborators from all the countries of central and western Europe except Poland ( the Poles were scheduled for annihilation) and Britain. The battle order of the German S.S. divisions in the last year and a half of the war had more non Germans than Germans. The population of the Soviet Union was 190,000,000. Germany was supposed to win the war in 4 to 6 weeks according to impressions expressed in Germany and the West. The (PHONEY War ) went so quick and easy, so why not the same in the Soviet Union?
BATTLE of MOSCOW
Germany suffered its first military defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The battle took place in November, 1941 to January 1942. The Germans suffered 500,000 casualties in this battle. By March,1942 the Germans casualties on the Eastern Front totaled 1,100,000 .After 16 months in Russia, by November 1942, Germany sustained 2,000,000 casualties.
BATTLE of STALINGRAD
In August 1942, the Germans amassed their best troops and approached Stalingrad with 1,250,000 men. Of these men, only 30,000 ever got back home.
On November 19,1942 the Russians encircled 330,000 German troops inside of Stalingrad. Of this number, 94,000 surrendered in January 31,1943. Only 5,000 of this number ever got home. During the battle the Russians set up a ticking clock reminding the Germans that every 7 seconds one of them is getting killed. In the spring thaw there were rivulets of blood flowing into the Volga river. The Battle of Stalingrad is referred to as the battle that changed the world. What if the Nazi’s had won?
The biggest battle in North Africa was fought by the British at the battle of el Alamein in November, 1942. The same time that the German army was encircled at Stalingrad. The German losses at el Alamein were 1,000 killed and 9,000 captured or wounded.
During this period of time the Germans had 3 divisions in North Africa and 160 divisions on the Eastern front against the Russians. The United States lost 7,000 men killed in North Africa.
THE BATTLE of KURSK
The battle of Kursk which is located 350 miles south of Moscow took place in July,1943. In this 2 week battle the Germans lost 125,000 killed. Another 375,000 were captured or wounded. The Russian losses were 70,000 killed. By this time the Russian intelligence had penetrated the German high command and knew exactly their plan of attack weeks ahead of the start of the battle. Marshall Zhukov ordered the Russian army a week ahead of time as to the day and exact hour and places that they were to open fire on . Kursk was Germanys last attempt at an offensive on the Eastern front. It failed.
OPERATION BAGRATION JULY, 1944
On June 22,1944 (3 years to the day after Germany invaded Russia) the Russians ( Marshall Zhukov’s 1st Byelorussian Front) launched a massive attack in Byelorussia code named ‘Operation Bagration” against German Army Group Centre. During a single week against Army Group Centre German battle casualties were 480,000 men . On the Second Front in France during 6 weeks after D-Day ( June /July, 1944) total German casualties were 140,000 men. On a weekly basis, this is a ratio of about 20 to 1. In just 12 days, Army Group Centre lost 25 of its 43 divisions. In 5 weeks the Russian army moved 200 miles west and were at the gates of Warsaw. For the Germans the destruction of Army Group Centre was Stalingrad all over again. In the same period the U.S. and British moved 20 miles east.
In addition to Army Group Centre, there were three other German armies, namely : German Army Group North, German Army Group North Ukraine and German Army Group South Ukraine . They were all defeated in short order.
Marshall Rokossovsky’s 2nd Byelorussian Front takes East Prussia and the Baltic countries, Marshall Konev’s 1st Ukrainian Front takes Prague, Marshall Malinovsky’s 2nd Ukrainian Front takes Budapest and Vienna and Marshall Tolboukin’s 3rd Ukrainian Front takes Romania. The Hungarian and Romanian armies are also routed in a similar fashion.
Interesting, Hungary with a population of 10,000,000 lost more soldiers killed on the Eastern Front (150,000 ) than the British losses in Europe and North Africa.
BATTLE of BERLIN
January -May 1945
In January- February ,1945 the Russians advanced from the river Vistula in Poland to the Oder river in Germany.The offensive was launched January12,1945.The offensive was started early at the plea from Churchill to counter the successful Nazi offensive in the Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge in which the U.S. had 18,000 troops killed and 60,000 wounded.) The 3 Russian Marshalls , Zhukov, Rokossovsky and Konev had an army of 2,500,000 men against a German army of 1,000,000 men. On April 16th The Russian Army led by Marshall Chuikov opened fire with 40,000 guns This broke the last German resistance at the Seelow heights before Berlin. The German losses were 50,000 men killed. In just 16 days the troops of the First Byelorussian, First Ukraine and Second Byelorussian Fronts took Berlin. The victory made possible by the fact the Soviet army materially and spiritually surpassed the enemy .
In the Pacific, the Japanese got the message after a series of terrific naval defeats by the U.S. and their attention assured by the atomic bomb. For good measure the Russians sent 1,600,000 troops into Manchuria. It terrified the Japanese officers to the point that they were killing their own wives and children for fear of capture. Half the Japanese soldiers that went into captivity never got home. Retribution for Pearl Harbor and the rape of Nanking.
THE CHARACTER OF THE RUSSIAN SOLDIER
The best descriptions of the Russian soldier comes from the Germans and a Russian Jew who was a war correspondent through out the war.
Vassili Grossman wrote:
” “I am deeply affected by the genuine spirit of sacrifice among the Russian soldiers. At war a Russian soldier puts on a white shirt and dies like a saint. At the front there is patience and resignation to unthinkable hardships. This is the patience of a strong people. This the patience of a great army. The greatness of the Russian soul is incredible. “
A German soldier at Stalingrad wrote— “the Russians are not men but some kind of cast- iron creatures.”
In his book ,Willy Reese writes about the Germans attitude after being on the Eastern front. He noted that German veterans profess an admiration for the Russian soldier which was seldom conceded to his Western counterparts.
A distinguished German staff officer wrote after the war in which he describes his virtues: “The greatest asset the Russian Army possessed was the Russian soldier. He is patient and enduring beyond imagination, incredibly brave and courageous. A feature of the Russian is his utter contempt for life or death– so incomprehensible to a Westerner. The British General Giffard Martel had this to say about the Russian soldier “ their bravery on the battlefield is beyond dispute but their most outstanding feature is their astonishing strength and toughness”.
The last Hero of the Soviet Union medal was given to a Russian soldier in the final day of the battle of Berlin. He heroically rescued a German woman and her 4 year old daughter to safety. During the rescue he was mortally wounded and died a few days later. When asked to whom they could report this act of heroism , he replied -no one. My entire family were killed in the war. This is heroism at its greatest.
THE FIGHTING THE RUSSIANS DID SAVED MILLIONS OF AMERICAN LIVES.
HOW DID THE RUSSIANS WIN?
They had better soldiers
They had better weapons.
They had better generals.
The German generals came from aristocracy.
The British generals came from gentry.
The Russian generals came from peasantry.
In the 1930’s the Red Army demonstrated tactics and operational originality that showed up as great battles in WWII that consisted of vast tank armies, artillery, infantry and aircraft.
The Soviet concept of DEEP OPERATION represented the most advanced ideas ever attained in the history of military concepts. This concept was a major factor in the defeat of the German army.
The main elements being:
Main maneuvering force
Element of reserve
The main maneuvering element consisting of the chief means of creating the shock effect.
Breaking or assaulting effect- aimed at bisecting the defensive front.
Echelon for developing the breakthrough- designed to break-up the defenders lay-out and to building up a maneuvering mass beyond the defenders center of gravity.
After advancing in the defenders depth, neutralizing his remaining forces
DEEP OPERATION theory specifies the offensive and defensive as the basic forms of maneuver at the operational level and the operational shock as its end. The pattern of turning- maneuver was defined as the most advanced state of operational shock that can be obtained by an operational strike .
The operational synergy between the “holding force” the “maneuvering force” and the “element of reserve” were defined as an essential condition for the completion of a successful operational maneuver.
The Russians and Americans need to review their common history. Americans have fought about 10 different countries but never against the Russians. Their contribution to winning WWII needs to be honored and remembered.
Marshall Zhukov’s Greatest Battles, The Noontide Press, Costa Mesa, Ca. 92627 ISBN o-939482-34-7
Citadel, the Battle of Kursk, Barnes & Noble Books, ISBN 1-56619-581-0
Russia’s War, TV Books ,Inc. ISBN 1-57500-051-2
The Claws of the Bear, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-51076-7
The Battle for Stalingrad, Marshall Vasili Chuikov, Translated from the Russian, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Library of Congress No: 64-110
The Road to Berlin By John Erickson ISBN 0 297 772384
Marshall Zhukov’s Greatest Battles By Marshall Zhukov, Translated from the Russian, Harper & Roe, Publishers
Russia at War, E.P. Dutton & Co. By Alexander Werth
Soviet Casualties & Combat Losses , Greenhill Books, London ISBN 1-85367-280-7
Stalingrad to BerlinBy Earl Ziemke Dorset Press Library of Congress No: 67-60001 Bagration 1944 Steven J. Zaloga ISBN 1-85532 478 4
The Fall of Berlin By Marshall Chuikov Library of Congress No: 68-10059 Holt, Rinehart, Winston
Armagedon By Max Hastings D 743 H 36 2004
A Writer at War Vassili Grossman 940.54217 Gro Pantheon Book, New York
Stalin’s Generals 1993 ISBN -0-8021-1487-3 Grove Press
Hitler’s Greatest Defeat BY Paul Adair 940.54 ADA ISBN 1-85409-232-4
A Stranger to Myself BY Willy Peter Reese Farrar, Strans & Giroux New York
Stalin’s Wars By Geoffrey Roberts Yale University Press (2006)
Deep Battle Brassey’s Defense Publishers