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Old 14th February 2009, 02:25
Sylvester Stadler's Avatar
Sylvester Stadler Sylvester Stadler is offline
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The Liberal View of the German Soldier

On 4 June 1940 Winston Churchill presented one of his famous speeches
to his Parliament and to the western world wherein he praises his
armed forces and basically states that the success of the Wehrmacht in
the battle for France (and Holland and Belgium) was based on superior
numbers. This argument still is alive and well in the U.S. and the
United Kingdom, and other countries.
In this speech, which is published in the excellent book The Battle of
France: Then and Now by Peter Cornwell, which anyone with an interest
in the aspect of the air campaign should read, Churchill credits the
success up to that point to the "Eight or nine armoured divisions,
each of about 400 armoured vehicles of different kinds" and "the
mechanised onslaught" of "a number of German divisions in lorries"
and "behind them again there plodded the dull brute mass of the
ordinary German Army and German people..." Churchill also credits
the defense by the British Army of Boulogne and Calais of preventing
the German Army from reaching Dunkirk before the British Expeditionary
Force could be rescued and evacuated. Churchill claims that Calais was
defended by 4000 British and 1000 French and that it took "four days of
intense street fighting" for the German Army to take Calais. Churchill
also claims that "At least two armoured divisions had to be sent to
overcome them."
The facts are much different than Churchill likes to portray them.
The only division contronting the Allied forces in Calais was the 10th
Panzer Division which was reinforced by the XIX corps artillery and
the Stukas. The Panzer Brigade was prevented from taking part since
the German higher commanders did not wish to sustain losses to their
tank units which would be required to be used to advance on open
terrain. The 10th PD had a Infantry Brigade of two rifle regiments
(Schützen Regiment) and four rifle battalions were used in the assault
with the assistance of the 90th recon battalion. The assault begain
at day break on the 25th of May and was over at 1645 on 26 May. The
10th PD took a total of 13,000 prisoners. Also the halt order from
Hitler is well known and this alone prevented Guderian from reaching
Dunkirk and prevent the evacuation of over 330,000 troops. The German
version of events if taken from the book Die Zehnte P.D.: Die
Geschichte der 10. Panzer-Division by Albert Schick (1993).
During the time I was in U.S. Army intelligence, I heard a NCO state
his opinion that the ordinary German soldier lacked the necessary
skills of initiative, knowledge, and drive that if the German officer
commanding the unit were killed or otherwise incapacitated, the
soldiers would not be capable of further action. This is the type of
German soldier often portrayed by Hollywood and what unfortunately
Hollywood portrays is often taken as fact and truth by even
intelligent people.
Many university professors also express such thoughts. When I
attended the university, a professor of American Foreign Policy,
stated that when German invaded the Soviet Union, the Germany Army was
equipped with 35,000 tanks (!) (actually around 3500) and that this
alone explained the rapid advance in 1941. The professor also claimed
that Stalin tried to decline Lend-Lease aid except for aluminum.
The University of Utah professors Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies
II have written the book The Myth of the Eastern Front wherein they
paint the picture that many Americans have been brainwashed by the
Cold War when the only available view of the fighting on the Russian
front came from apologists such as Heinz Guderian and Erich von
Manstein and authors who wrote about such German servicemen and heroes
such as Erich Hartmann and personal participants such as Otto Carius
who they all tie to war crimes. The authors criticize those who
admire and show a primary interest in the German armed forces
(Wehrmacht) and call them gurus and romancers.
These two authors seem to admire the Soviet armed forces (what do they
label themselves?) and tend to denigrate the German soldiers. On page
24 of the book they describe "the picture of the Russian soldier that
emerged was that of a patient, long-suffering, but also frequently a
handsome, literate, innovative soldier who capable of great individual
initiative." Then on page 14 the authors state that "Russian infantry
also performed effectively whether working in formations or isolated
and on their own." Then they make a comparison with the German
soldiers who "floundered when cut off from their units just as they
often struggled inadequatly when confronted with winter weather or
difficult terrain."
One popular author who also appeared as a guest on many documentaries
was Stephen Ambrose, now deceased, who wrote several book and also
made many fantastic claims which many have accepted as the gospel
truth. On one occasion I heard him state that the Western Allies in
Normandy were of equal numbers to the German forces and that in order
to win the battle and campaign, the Allies had to "fight smarter."
Ambrose liked to count all the soldiers in the German Army including
support troops and only count Allied soldiers in actual combat units.
Also he never mentioned the support of Allied airpower and the
firepower provided by the various navies. Ambrose also liked to count
the number of divisions in the German Wehrmacht and assumed all of
then were at full strength. Again Niklas Zetterling provides
some interesting statistics on the German military in his book
Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and
Organizational Effectiveness.
Zetterling states that on 25 July 1944 the Allied armies in Normandy
had a total of 1,452,00 soldiers facing about 380,000 German
soldiers, a superiority of 3.8:1. The firepower was even greater.
The Allies had 46 tanks for every 10 German tanks, a ration of 4.6:1.
The history of the 12th SS Panzer Division consistently faced three
British divisions until attrition forced them from the front line.
Probably not even Rommel could have prevented a collapse.
Ambrose once claimed that democracies produce better soldiers than do
totalitarian governments. To him this alone explains the Allied
victory. He makes this argument by producing false statistics. For
example, he claims that the Americans in Bastogne during the Battle of
the Bulge were outnumbered by a ratio of 10:1 but that the
paratroopers prevailed against ten times their number. The actual
ratio was 30,000 Germans against 20,000 Americans.
The liberal establishment today continually tries to connect everyone
in German military with war crimes as they try to do to the American
serviceman in Iraq and Afghanistan. Years ago when several German
soldiers were still living, including my uncle, I asked all of them if
they were aware of war crimes being committed by their units in
Russia. All of them stated they did not participate in war crimes or
that they were even aware of war crimes committed by their fellow
soldiers. This certainly is not evidence that their units did not
commit violations of the laws of war, but the accusers certainly have
not made their case that the German military was guilty as a whole of
committing such crimes.
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