Hitler is loud and rambunctious, Mussolini is a cartoon character, but Stalin is so dull.

This is just merely pointing out how radically different these dictators are. I am not endorsing these dictators in anyway. (And if I was than I would be ideological confused and a triple standard hypocrite.)

When you see Hitler in Speeches, he's loud, rambunctious, way too emotional and way too dramatic, there is a reason why memes of him in that movie exists because he's did threw these temper tantrums.

Mussolini is straight up a cartoon character with how he acts in his speeches and mannerisms, heck this image of him amuses me in the sense that I cannot take him seriously, espceially since this guy is a failure of a dictator and a failure of a war leader:

image

But Stalin, that guy is so dull and cold, and if anything that made him all the more horrifying at how cold this man is for all the horrible things he and his government has done. I mean look how Mussolini presents his Speech in decleration of war, he puts his hands on his hips, acting all tough and strong-like:

Now look at Stalin's speech in decleration of war:

Comepletely plain and dull, moments where he should speak more louder and passionant to rouse the soliders to war, he continues with his dull speech.

That's the thing, I never seen Stalin speak loud and with any emotion in any recorded footage. Unless of course someone posts a video of such.

Think of their origins, and the images they wished to project.

Mussolini very intentionally invoked traditional, chauvinist notions of overt masculinity, and he emphasised strength above all. This helped to justify an ideology in which "survival of the fittest" was taken to its brutal extreme. This is why he sought photo opportunities of himself without a shirt, and even had other members of the National Fascist Party taking part in outdoors sports for photo ops. It was to project masculinity, and strength-- in a lot of ways similar to the manner in which Putin puts himself across today.

Stalin, on the other hand, was a bureaucrat, and for years held bureaucratic positions, including controlling party membership for a while. The way in which he attained greater power in the earlier years was not overt; it was quiet. The cult of personality came later, and was largely a creation of the propagandists surrounding him. They did not have much to work with.

Silvanus:

in a lot of ways similar to the manner in which Putin puts himself across today.

That one is interesting because I remember the mainstream media and such (Looking at Bill Maher, Jon Stewert, etc.) saw those pictures of Putin hunting outdoors without a shirt saw that in a homoerotic lens, apperently any showcasing of masculinity is synonymous with male homosexuality. I remember Bill asking a Russian guest that is Putin secretly gay or has homoerotic tendencies.

Samtemdo8:

Silvanus:

in a lot of ways similar to the manner in which Putin puts himself across today.

That one is interesting because I remember the mainstream media and such (Looking at Bill Maher, Jon Stewert, etc.) saw those pictures of Putin hunting outdoors without a shirt saw that in a homoerotic lens, apperently any showcasing of masculinity is synonymous with male homosexuality. I remember Bill asking a Russian guest that is Putin secretly gay or has homoerotic tendencies.

It's the whole hollow vessels make the most noise. Those who feel the need to express their masculinity are likely the most insecure in theirs.

That said, Putin is terrifying.

Samtemdo8:
Mussolini is straight up a cartoon character with how he acts in his speeches and mannerisms, heck this image of him amuses me in the sense that I cannot take him seriously, espceially since this guy is a failure of a dictator and a failure of a war leader:

Not really though..

The idea of Mussolini as an incompetent buffoon was a huge component of allied war propaganda against him and mostly based on generic Italian stereotypes.

As a leader, Mussolini was probably the most competent of the three you've mentioned, because he delegated, he could take (private) criticism and he was a pragmatist.

Italy at the time of world war 2 was not a very developed country, it had only a small fraction of the industrial capacity of Germany and lacked the vast empire of the other European powers. Furthermore, the general staff in Germany was very forward thinking, while the Italian military was very reactionary. For this reason, the Italian military never performed well and was under-equipped and tactically backwards compared to other combatants. This doesn't make Mussolini a bad war leader though, unlike Hitler he didn't make disastrous strategic interference based on his thoroughly inadequate grasp of military strategy, and unlike Stalin he didn't make bizarre and downright cruel decisions like refusing to evacuate cities in the belief that it would make soldiers fight harder. His personal contribution was far, far less destructive.

But as regards the oratical style, this is a thing. Fascism is theatrical, it's very much about emotion, spectacle and melodrama. The point is to fire the audience up and to cut through the thinking, reasonable part of their brains and to make them feel emotional.

The Soviets preferred their leaders to be more statesman-like. That's how most of the world was though.. I mean, compare to Neville Chamberlain's announcement of the declaration of war.

I think we're also talking about very different cultural attitudes to war and military conflict in this case. Remember, the USSR was the defender in that war, and it was not going well. Stalin needed to prepare people for what he knew would be a hard struggle without making them lose hope, Chamberlain knew the population of his country didn't want to fight another war and still had strong memories of the hardships incurred during the previous war. They needed to come across as reassuring and stable, not bloodthirsty or over-excitable.

The USSR would end up losing between 8 and 12 million soldiers, and 20-30 million people in total during the war. More than one Soviet citizen in every ten died. These kinds of casualties were expected, as Soviet military doctrine was built around countering a industrially and technologically superior enemy by means of sheer attrition. Stalin knew going in what he had to brace people for, theatrics weren't going to cut it.

evilthecat:
This doesn't make Mussolini a bad war leader though...

No, he was a bad war leader because he failed to prepare Italy for war, and then started wars it wasn't capable of winning.

We have to question exactly what he was doing to argue that war was vital to maintain the vigor of a nation, and yet after nearly 15 years of governance have failed to establish a competent military. Italy didn't have anything close to the sort of industrial output necessary to take on another major European nation in a major war (in the same approximate timeframe, the USSR converted to a major industrial power). Nor did he carry out sufficient reforms to ensure the Italian army and air force was effectively organised and run - although the Italian fleet, at least, was adequate. As history tells us, Italy was not even capable of taking on Greece, never mind the likes of France.

Stalin, Hitler and even Churchill may have interfered with generalship to negative outcomes, but at least they made sure their nations had the infrastructure to fight, kept morale up and their nations going when things went wrong. That, surely, is what really makes a good war leader.

Agema:

evilthecat:
This doesn't make Mussolini a bad war leader though...

No, he was a bad war leader because he failed to prepare Italy for war, and then started wars it wasn't capable of winning.

We have to question exactly what he was doing to argue that war was vital to maintain the vigor of a nation, and yet after nearly 15 years of governance have failed to establish a competent military. Italy didn't have anything close to the sort of industrial output necessary to take on another major European nation in a major war (in the same approximate timeframe, the USSR converted to a major industrial power). Nor did he carry out sufficient reforms to ensure the Italian army and air force was effectively organised and run - although the Italian fleet, at least, was adequate. As history tells us, Italy was not even capable of taking on Greece, never mind the likes of France.

Stalin, Hitler and even Churchill may have interfered with generalship to negative outcomes, but at least they made sure their nations had the infrastructure to fight, kept morale up and their nations going when things went wrong. That, surely, is what really makes a good war leader.

While I know more of the other two European dictators in this discussion, I have to agree with this one. I remember watching a documentary on one of the battles (forget which on both battle and the show name's) in WW2 and they mentioned that the nickname for Italian tanks were "coffins" because of how crappy they were. Maybe Hitalia wasn't too far off on their Depiction of Italy?

Russia wasn't much better. A large chunk could be described as "Their Expendable." Heck, if you look at the Imperial Guard Army in Warhammer 40k, they take great inspiration from the Russian tactics of that time.

In the end, they were their own worst enemies. Stalin could have been ahead of the game, but he had a penchant for killing people when he felt they were more popular then him or rising in the ranks as that might be a danger to him (he had all of his previous military officers killed prior to getting dragged into the fight).

Hitler, was equally self absorbed and had to have his hand in everything (this got to the point where the Brittish ended all attempts to assassinate him as he was doing a better job of hampering the Reich then they were).

Mussolini certaily was the only facistic dictator that was humbled in the end though:

"Yes, madam (Madeleine Mollier), I am finished. My star has fallen. I have no fight left in me. I work and I try, yet know that all is but a farce... I await the end of the tragedy and ? strangely detached from everything ? I do not feel any more an actor. I feel I am the last of spectators. Seven years ago, I was an interesting person. Now, I am little more than a corpse."

Well, hey. Stalin was the one that lasted the longest. Bet on the workhorse, not the showhorse.

saint of m:
Russia wasn't much better. A large chunk could be described as "Their Expendable." Heck, if you look at the Imperial Guard Army in Warhammer 40k, they take great inspiration from the Russian tactics of that time.

While that's true, it's not the whole story. The Germans were very successful against the Soviets (at least at first), but then the Germans were very successful against most of Europe at that time, they'd taken France, chased the British back across the channel, weren't doing too shabby in Africa. Had the Germans managed to successfully invade Britain, the plans for the Home Guard were rather reminiscent of what we saw in the eastern theatre, lots of people that normally would be non-combatants thrown at the Germans to slow, not stop, them.

If the Nazis had wanted to treat France like they treated the USSR, the French couldn't stop them.

bastardofmelbourne:
Well, hey. Stalin was the one that lasted the longest. Bet on the workhorse, not the showhorse.

Franco lasted 20 years longer, though. Pretend not the join the war, and you'll be left alone. Afterwards, sure, the Allies won't want to deal with you, except the US of course, they didn't mind.

Agema:
We have to question exactly what he was doing to argue that war was vital to maintain the vigor of a nation, and yet after nearly 15 years of governance have failed to establish a competent military.

Well, you know, not everyone can kill most of the competent military officers a couple of years before the outbreak of war, or decide to open a second front against one of the strongest military powers on the planet because they effectively got bored. Put it into perspective with the others..

But really, the Italian army wasn't that bad. It was, like almost all military forces of the time, simply equipped to fight world war 1 instead of world war 2. It also had industry and supply problems which stem from the aforementioned weakness in Italian industrial output during the war, but so did most armies. Even the German army, often portrayed in post war media as a well oiled machine, was a logistical mess marked by last-minute improvisation which lead to enormous inconsistency in the fighting ability of any given formation at any given time.

Agema:
Italy didn't have anything close to the sort of industrial output necessary to take on another major European nation in a major war (in the same approximate timeframe, the USSR converted to a major industrial power).

True, but Mussolini (like Hitler) expected Britain to sue for peace after the fall of France, leading to a quick and decisive war. The Axis war plans were always made on the assumption that the war would be over quickly with limited concessions at the end, which is really the central reason why they all failed.

Also, it's easy to point to the failure of the Italian invasion of Greece, but remember that the USSR struggled to invade Finland.

saint of m:
I remember watching a documentary on one of the battles (forget which on both battle and the show name's) in WW2 and they mentioned that the nickname for Italian tanks were "coffins" because of how crappy they were.

Most tanks at the outbreak of war were crappy. They were still typically based on the way tanks had been used in world war 1, and hadn't really accounted for the availability of things like anti-tank guns. That said, Italian tanks were exceptionally bad and the most common model used (the CV-33) can barely be called a tank at all.

Later Italian tanks were fine, and like later Japanese tanks benefited from the experience with German armoured warfare, but like those Japanese tanks they were never produced in big enough numbers to make a difference and the Italian army never really figured out a proper doctrine for using tanks effectively.

saint of m:
Russia wasn't much better. A large chunk could be described as "Their Expendable." Heck, if you look at the Imperial Guard Army in Warhammer 40k, they take great inspiration from the Russian tactics of that time.

I think it takes inspiration from the population conception of Soviet tactics.

Actually, Soviet military theory was very, very innovative and hugely ahead of its time, even more so than German military theory, and by the end of the war at least this theory was being put into practice with huge success. In the early war, though, the Soviets had a few problems.

1) Stalin had killed most of the competent officers, leading to a general lack of talented leadership in the Red army.
2) The Soviet union had less industrial output than Germany.
3) The invasion happened while the Red army was still mobilising.

The result was massive, massive losses (both in terms of territory and soldiers) in the early war, which left the red army in a very desperate state. Things like the infamous Order No. 227 were the result of a breakdown in the strategic effectiveness of the red army, and were never really deliberate or intentional (although Soviet military theorists had also anticipated the need for attrition warfare). As things began to stabilize, the Soviet doctrine moved towards the use of mobile warfare and the theory of deep operations which placed a high emphasis on mobility and deception as well as brute force.

evilthecat:

The USSR would end up losing between 8 and 12 million soldiers, and 20-30 million people in total during the war. More than one Soviet citizen in every ten died. These kinds of casualties were expected, as Soviet military doctrine was built around countering a industrially and technologically superior enemy by means of sheer attrition. Stalin knew going in what he had to brace people for, theatrics weren't going to cut it.

Soviet doctrine was nothing of the kind, even though it is a common myth created by old Wehrmacht officers in the 50's and 60's when they wrote their memoirs and NATO cozied up to them to provide guidance in preparation for World War 3. What these German officers saw as 'human waves' was actually the Red Army's focus on force concentration at work, where the Red Army made sure to have crushing numerical superiority at any point of attack, as to ensure breakthrough and maximal exploitation of said breakthrough. There's an irony to the fact that Germany lacked a cohesive war strategy, yet get credited for revolutionizing mechanized warfare, while the Red Army gets lambasted for using human waves. In truth, their strategic and operational doctrine was a revolutionary integration of mechanized warfare on both the operational and strategic levels, which was all about decisive use of armored formations to eliminate the enemy's ability to respond to the Soviet attacks in the short term and destroy the enemy's ability to conduct war in the long term. In essence, Deep Operations was a codified and refined version of the improvised German solution of using armored formations to perform rapid encirclement maneuvers to quickly destroy the enemy's ability to conduct war.

That being said, the USSR was caught off guard for Barbarossa and of their 10-12 million total military losses, 4 million were sustained in the first six months of the war. During that period of frantic delaying action the Red Army very much employed something akin to meat grinder tactics, sending waves of poorly armed reservists to counter-attack and delay the Germans. It is also telling that of those 4 million casualties, 2 millions were prisoners of war, none of which survived the war due to deliberate starvation of Soviet PoWs by the Germans. As the war wore on, the Red Army got progressively better (and the Wehrmacht progressively worse) at inflicting casualties and reached loss parity around late-1942 or so. The losses of the Red Army are truly staggering, but one should not forget that the Red Army eventually won not because it could sacrifice more people, but because it was able to quickly adapt to the realities of the Great Patriotic War and eventually beat Germany at its' own game of mobile, mechanized warfare.

With all that said, the leadership of the USSR understood how harsh the war would be, because it was the war they had prepared for since the 20's. Stalin's somber tone was meant to invoke that of the family patriarch that brings bad news but also steels his family for the hardship to come. In the USSR it was the rest of the propaganda machine, Pravda, state radio etc., that was meant to invoke patriotic fervor and motivate people to fight. That stands in stark contrast to Germany or Italy, where the cult of the leader was much more pronounced and it was the leader that was supposed to inspire. In the official words of the USSR Stalin was just the first among equals, not the pseudo-deity he would prop himself up as after the war.

Gethsemani:
snip

I don't necessarily disagree with anything written here (I actually find it a very well-written and persuasive series of points) but I feel as though there's more to this question in terms of the sheer numbers of vehicles that the Soviets achieved around 1942 and the quality of said vehicles. The numbers of artillery that could be fired, the superior number of logistics vehicles and the changing tide of the air war were, in my opinion, what allowed the Soviets to employ the tactics and strategy that you mention. Conversely, those advantages were also what the Nazis enjoyed at the start of Barbarossa.

That said, even with so many advantages I do agree that the USSR had good strategic direction, the Nazis would have won otherwise. I think these advantages provide generals with the ability to conduct strategy. It is the strategy that wins the day, but strategy can only be persued where circumstances allow.

EDIT: just for clarity, the point of this post was to suggest that strategy is only part of the changing tides of WW2, though indeed a big part.

ineptelephant:

I don't necessarily disagree with anything written here (I actually find it a very well-written and persuasive series of points) but I feel as though there's more to this question in terms of the sheer numbers of vehicles that the Soviets achieved around 1942 and the quality of said vehicles. The numbers of artillery that could be fired, the superior number of logistics vehicles and the changing tide of the air war were, in my opinion, what allowed the Soviets to employ the tactics and strategy that you mention. Conversely, those advantages were also what the Nazis enjoyed at the start of Barbarossa.

The USSR's ability to produce its' weapons more cheaply (Germany, ironically, had a much larger industrial base but was not able to capitalize on scale of production in the same way that the USSR and USA did) was certainly an important factor, as was the fact that the US sent ludicrous levels of lend-lease after 1943, which contributed massively to helping motorize the Red Army and allowing for Soviet industry to focus on weapons production.

However, the Wehrmacht enjoyed weight of fire advantages up until 1944, firing far more artillery shells of all calibers then the Red Army did. In 1943 the Wehrmacht alone (not counting other axis nations) fired 1,9 million tonnes of artillery shells, everything from mortars to railway guns, on the Eastern Front compared to 1,3 million for the Red Army. This in the year when the Red Army seized the initiative and started pushing the Axis back. Notable is that the Red Army fired far more mortar shells and low caliber artillery (76mm field guns), coming in at 330,000 tonnes compared to 150,000 tonnes of mortar and field gun shells by the Germans. What this means is that when it came to what we traditionally perceive as artillery, the Germans fired 1,75 million tonnes, compared to 'just' a million tonnes of shells for the Red Army. Germany very much enjoyed a weight of fire advantage, but they failed to utilize it to win battles post-1943 and the Red Army was increasingly able to concentrate their lesser weight of fire where it mattered to maximize operational impact.

ineptelephant:
The T34/85 simply blew the Panzer IV out of the water and proceeded to grind the remains into the dirt. Better engine (most important), better turret armour, better rounded chassis to absorb impacts; by itself the T34 was a huge advatange. The Panther and the Tiger series tanks were improvements in many areas but suffered numurous techincal failures with unsustainably expensive parts, especially given the frequency that they were required to be replaced. Combine this with the increasingly devastating bombing campaign on the German industrial heartland (and conversely the significant weakening of the Luftwaffe) and you can see why operation Citidal was doomed to fail but not necessarily because of the superiority of Soviet strategy or tactics.

Operation Citadel was conducted in 1943, when German war production was still increasing and the strategic bombings were not yet reaching full potential. That's not to say that the strategic bombings would not have a massive impact on the German ability to continue war production, but Citadel, unlike the battle of the Bulge or Spring Awakening was not impacted all that much by the strategic bombings.

More pertinently, what made Citadel a failure was that the Red Army had correctly identified the one exposed weak spot in their lines and had taken meticulous preparations to ensure that it was nowhere near weak or exposed. Citadel failed because the Wehrmacht had to attack into massive prepared defensive works, with no ability to bypass the strong defenses and circle around them. That's partially a fault with the German planning, but also a testament to lessons learned by the Red Army, especially their use of minefields and pre-ranged artillery to prevent the breakthrough and breakout of German armored formations.

So far, that's just the failure of Citadel, which in hindsight seems pretty given. What wasn't given was that the Red Army would follow up with a counter-attack of their own that would actually succeed in dislodging the German formations in front of the Kursk Salient to such a degree that a front wide offensive in the fall of 1943 was made possible. They made plenty of mistakes in this first summer offensive, they counter-attacked too early, threw reinforcements into the exploitation too soon and failed to anticipate the speed and ferocity of German counter-strikes, but the writing was on the wall: The Red Army had gone from a leaderless army of poorly trained conscripts with ill-maintained equipment (the Red Army had some 45,000 tanks on paper in 1941, of which only some 15,000 were actually operational and most were obsolete light tanks from the 20's) and rife with corruption to a professional fighting force capable of conducting not only skillful defense in depth but to quickly turn that defense into an all out offensive.

ineptelephant:
That said, even with so many advantages I do agree that the USSR had good strategic direction, the Nazis would have won otherwise. I think these advantages provide generals with the ability to conduct strategy. It is the strategy that wins the day, but strategy can only be persued where circumstances allow.

EDIT: just for clarity, the point of this post was to suggest that strategy is only part of the changing tides of WW2, though indeed a big part.

Absolutely, the USSR didn't get by with just a bunch of mastermind Generals and it can't be repeated enough that in the first 1,5 years of the war the Red Army was not competently led, was not capable of conducting offensive actions (and only occasionally capable of mounting proper defensive actions such as Minsk, Moscow, Leningrad, Sevastopol and Stalingrad). If not for Stalin's breakneck industrialization, forced collectivization and general preparation for the Soviet Union to become a nation ready for war (and this is not an endorsement of Stalin or his methods, mind you), it is unlikely that the USSR would have been able to withstand that terrible first blow in 1941. Had the Western Allies not kept up their tenacious resistance and costly strategic bombing campaign the USSR might not have survived.

But to point to Lend-Lease, Bomber Command or 'General Winter' is also to miss out on the hugely important fact that the Red Army proved itself up to the task of not only fending of the Wehrmacht, but ultimately beat it at its' own game and grind it down to an ineffective fighting force. Much of that is owed to the fact that the Red Army had a strategic doctrine to turn to once the initial chaos was over and its' generals started looking for a way to conduct war. Because ultimately, no matter what old Wehrmacht officers wanted you to believe, the reason Germany lost the war was not because Hitler was crazy or the Soviet Union was full of Asiatic hordes. It was because the Soviet Union mounted a military resistance no one thought possible and the Red Army officer corps, as bled dry as it was, proved itself eminently capable of learning on the job and drawing on the theoretical groundwork of their predecessors.

Thaluikhain:

saint of m:
Russia wasn't much better. A large chunk could be described as "Their Expendable." Heck, if you look at the Imperial Guard Army in Warhammer 40k, they take great inspiration from the Russian tactics of that time.

While that's true, it's not the whole story. The Germans were very successful against the Soviets (at least at first), but then the Germans were very successful against most of Europe at that time, they'd taken France, chased the British back across the channel, weren't doing too shabby in Africa. Had the Germans managed to successfully invade Britain, the plans for the Home Guard were rather reminiscent of what we saw in the eastern theatre, lots of people that normally would be non-combatants thrown at the Germans to slow, not stop, them.

If the Nazis had wanted to treat France like they treated the USSR, the French couldn't stop them.

There is a show I watched n Netflix called World War II In Colour. A couple things they mentioned as to why this might have been the case and beginning of the end in Russia.

The Blitz Krige or Lightning War needed to be fast. You are to get in as quickly as possible, and take care of what you need done before the soon to be conquered have a chance to react.

The problems with this is 3 fold.

1. Germany spread themselves too thin. The Nazies only had so many soldier, and even with forced conscripts they could only have so many people in the same area. This meant getting much needed suplies like weapons, cloths for the proper weather, medicine and food were going to be tough.

2. I was surprised to here this, but much of the developed world's armies, including the USA, still had horse riders. The fact Germany had developed tanks as much as they did would be as if the US army had to go up against some of the vehicles COBRA from GIJOE had come up with. And while the Nazis enjoyed their tanks, their supply line was still largely performed by horses pulling wagons. The measure of horse power is how far a horse can go in one hour. 1 horse power vs what ever the tanks, half tracks, troop trucks, and any anything else they had at the time go?

3. The Blitz needed to be done fast. If it is slowed down for any reason the attackers are now in the defenders hands. They may have the better tanks and the more advanced guns, this means jack if they can't use them as they were intended. Combine this with Russia's ultimate defensive weapon: Its Winter. It stopped Napolian. It Stopped Germany, Twice. I suspect it will stop the alian invaders in the next World War.

4. Could be my interpretation but Germany's offence was a one trick pony. Get in fast, blow stuff up, rule. Take out the Get in stuff fast part, and you have them. They will give you hell but stall them and they can't work properly. This was Russia's stratagy. It worked so well, the enemy troops had summer wear in Russian Fall and Winter weather (isn't that one and the same in Russia?). Add Hitler was nuttier than a Fruit Cake (may have already been this way and or whatever his baseline was made worse by Syphilis). and larger egotist then Mr. Winestene, they didn't get the help they needed to win.

5. Hitler. He wanted them to take on the "Symbolic" city of Stalingrad, instead of the more tactically expedient OIL FIELDS (because Germany is not the first county I think of when I think of PETROL resources).

evilthecat:
But really, the Italian army wasn't that bad. It was, like almost all military forces of the time, simply equipped to fight world war 1 instead of world war 2...

It also had industry and supply problems which stem from the aforementioned weakness in Italian industrial output during the war, but so did most armies.

Yes, it was that bad. Germany was ahead of the game, sure. But, let's bear in mind in 1940 the Italian army was crushed by the British/Commonwealth army despite nearly a 5:1 numerical advantage. They were severely deficient in tactics, leadership and equipment. And two years later, whilst everyone else had made great strides catching up (with Germany), and even despite German training, they were still abject.

The point is that it was Mussolini's responsibility as leader to prepare his country for war. Basically, he didn't. Problems during the war... pfft. The whole point is to not go into war that underprepared. He spent well over a decade acting the popinjay with lots of military pomp, showy but low-worth actions, but underneath he did not build the industry or competence. The UK, France and USSR all had the industrial basis, and were at minimum in the middle of widespread military modernisation reforms.

Even the German army, often portrayed in post war media as a well oiled machine, was a logistical mess marked by last-minute improvisation which lead to enormous inconsistency in the fighting ability of any given formation at any given time.

Sure. Too many wanky, expensive over-engineered designs, too much showing off technology without pragmatism, they never sorted out motorising their military properly, and were complacent getting a full war economy going. But hey, no-one's perfect - but they were still fit and ready to fight.

I have more come to the opinion that the Germans crafted very good tanks, but made terrible war machines. The Sherman in 1944 may not have been a very good tank, by contrast, but it was a good war machine. Another factor that greatly aided the Russians was German attitudes to the Russians. One reason Operation Bagration was such an astounding success was the strategic deception that convinced the Germans that the main strike was coming through Ukraine. Part of why this was so successful is because the Germans thought the Russians incapable of conducting a large scale deception campaign

I have to fall on the side considering Mussolini to be a pretty poor war leader. Granted Italy hasn't been my particular focus of study. The Italian army in North Africa was woefully ill-prepared for fighting in the desert, despite having been there for years. Their vehicles were not tropicalised (at all) which led to a host of reliability problems. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940, and on 11 June elements of the British 7th Armoured Division swung into action and started harassing the forward elements of Italian 10th Army. The Italians were most upset at this because they hadn't even been informed that they were at war yet.

Now why they were not even told, I don't know, my perspective of the Italian Army in North Africa was from a study on how the shithouse quality of British tanks affected operations. It may be very well that they expected Britain to fold after France and didn't think it was necessary to tell their African forces to keep an eye on the Poms. But even then....I dunno, I think I need to do some study on Italy's war goals, but you'd think they'd at least want to wire across a message saying that they are at war.

Gethsemani:
Soviet doctrine was nothing of the kind, even though it is a common myth created by old Wehrmacht officers in the 50's and 60's when they wrote their memoirs and NATO cozied up to them to provide guidance in preparation for World War 3. What these German officers saw as 'human waves' was actually the Red Army's focus on force concentration at work, where the Red Army made sure to have crushing numerical superiority at any point of attack, as to ensure breakthrough and maximal exploitation of said breakthrough.

I think maybe you've read too much into my point, because I agree.

Like, the "human wave" was a pre-world-war-one idea and by world war 2 was only really used by the Japanese (and even then, mostly as a form of suicide attack).

But here's the thing, almost all military doctrines of the second world war fixated on creating and winning decisive battles. The "revolutionary" German mechanized warfare approach which you've (correctly) compared unfavourably to the soviets was, even when it was actually put in to practice, hamstrung by the obsession with decisive battles and campaigns. The goal was to mass everything at the schwerpunkt (decisive point) and then break through the line in a single overwhelming attack (what came to be known retrospectively as Blitzkrieg). This is why the emphasis was always on winning wars quickly, in weeks or months rather than years and with few casualties, and the assumption was always that this could be done. Barbarossa illustrates perfectly the failure of this assumption and the subsequent breakdown of the Blitzkrieg ideal.

The Soviets, I think, foresaw the future of modern war far more clearly. The fixation of decisive battles and quick victories was a Clausewitzian relic. Battles would last for weeks or months rather than days, and could involve vast areas of frontline rather than a single decisive point. There would be no single decisive battle in which one side overwhelmed the other while taking few casualties because the sheer size of modern war and the presence of mobile reserves meant that an attacker could be delayed by multiple layers of defensive lines and forced into battles of attrition.

The Eastern front overwhelmingly proved the Soviets correct in this regard. I'm not endorsing the popular myth that the Soviets were exceptionally callous or exceptionally archaic, quite the opposite. Both sides took incredible losses and both sides ended up engaging in battles of attrition. The difference is that Soviet military doctrine had anticipated this, while German high command had no real coherent plan for how to win a war which wasn't over in a few months.

saint of m:
5. Hitler. He wanted them to take on the "Symbolic" city of Stalingrad, instead of the more tactically expedient OIL FIELDS (because Germany is not the first county I think of when I think of PETROL resources).

Stalingrad was on the west side of the Volga and a major transportation hub to boot. So long as it stood, the Soviets had a beachhead from which to swoop down the hundred or so miles of the Don to Rostov and cut off any Caucasian adventurers. Not only was Baku several times further from Rostov than Stalingrad, but the Wehrmacht would have to battle through some of the most rugged mountains on Earth to reach it. They didn't want to attempt that with an unsecured flank. Had Hitler had his eyes fixed on the OIL FIELDS to the exclusion of all else, he could've lost more than the Sixth Army.

saint of m:
1. Germany spread themselves too thin. The Nazies only had so many soldier, and even with forced conscripts they could only have so many people in the same area. This meant getting much needed suplies like weapons, cloths for the proper weather, medicine and food were going to be tough.

Certainly. Add to that, the USSR gets wider (north to south) the further east you go. You have to supply your forces by rail, and you've got 3 railways going east, one in the north, one in the south, and one in the centre. The Germans formed into Army Group North, Army Group South and Army Group Centre along them. But you go east and the distance between those gets bigger and bigger, you don't have rail lines connected them to any great extent, you just get forces further from their supply lines.

And, you don't have 3 rail lines, cause the Soviets wrecked them when retreating. I believe you trail a cable from the last train with a hook on it, it rips up the sleepers and tangles the lines together like spaghetti. So the Germans have to fix them. In preparation for this, they had lots of highly trained engineers, but still, a hell of a task. Because you have to supply your forces by rail, you can't advance faster than your engineers can build them. Also, the USSR uses different gauge tracks to the rest of Europe, so you can use captured Soviet gear, or use your own, not both. You can cut corners and make a single line track, instead of a double line one, but then you can't have trains running in both directions at the same time, for obvious reasons.

Also, where exactly are the railways and where exactly do they go? To find out, you have to look at a map...made by the Soviets in the knowledge that these are the maps any potential invaders would use. Therefore, the maps are somewhat creative and have little relation to the truth. The British took down road signs to confuse German invaders, same thing, much bigger scale.

saint of m:
2. I was surprised to here this, but much of the developed world's armies, including the USA, still had horse riders. The fact Germany had developed tanks as much as they did would be as if the US army had to go up against some of the vehicles COBRA from GIJOE had come up with. And while the Nazis enjoyed their tanks, their supply line was still largely performed by horses pulling wagons. The measure of horse power is how far a horse can go in one hour. 1 horse power vs what ever the tanks, half tracks, troop trucks, and any anything else they had at the time go?

Not sure what you mean by the GI Joe reference, you saying the German tanks were better or worse than the US? Legend puts them as being much better than US tanks, data puts them roughly comparable, history has them as small parts of a greater whole.

But yeah, when you get off the trains, it's horses or trucks to transport supplies, and there aren't enough of those and you get big bottlenecks. This has been a problem since the development of the steam engine, same things happened to the US during the Civil War, after the Normandy landings the Red Ball Express had a hell of a job getting supplies to the ever further away front.

As an aside, even around WW2 cavalry had its uses. The thing about Polish Cavalry attacking German tanks with their lances isn't true, but gun teams using horses for mobility certainly existed.

saint of m:
3. The Blitz needed to be done fast. If it is slowed down for any reason the attackers are now in the defenders hands. They may have the better tanks and the more advanced guns, this means jack if they can't use them as they were intended. Combine this with Russia's ultimate defensive weapon: Its Winter. It stopped Napolian. It Stopped Germany, Twice. I suspect it will stop the alian invaders in the next World War.

4. Could be my interpretation but Germany's offence was a one trick pony. Get in fast, blow stuff up, rule. Take out the Get in stuff fast part, and you have them.

Yes and no. When people talk about the Blitz, they usually mean France (or the strategic bombing on the UK, which was totally different in almost every way). The Germans didn't plan that as such, it sorta just happened and they ran with it. One of the reasons people think about the Germans as being heavily mechanised, when in reality only a minority of the German forces were was that the mechanised forces got well ahead of the others during the invasion of France, they were the ones the Allies saw. Also, the reason why Dunkirk happened, Hitler was very aware that the bulk of his forces were a long way behind, and if the Allies got a proper counterattack going they'd never get there in time.

Both sides were able to outmaneuver the enemy, in a history of The Great Patriotic War you will often see examples of a sudden attack cutting off part of the enemy force, who became encircled and asked permission to attempt a break out, their high commander dithered until it was too late, the encircled part usually being further split into smaller parts before being destroyed. If you get encircled, it seems you have to break out right now. Or change sides.

But in wider sense, absolutely yes. The German economy could not survive, unless it could quickly grab someone else's resources. Hitler gambled Germany's future on short, victorious wars. They either win quickly, or they lose...even if they don't get invaded back. Like evilthecat said, they planned for decisive victories, because if they got anything else, they lost.

As well as that, Germany's intelligence kept underestimating the number of Soviet forces. After a big battle, they look at how many they killed, compare that to how many they think the Soviets have left, and think "Nearly, one more big push and they'll crumble". After the next big battle, they tally the results again, "Ok, not quite yet, but soon".

saint of m:
They will give you hell but stall them and they can't work properly. This was Russia's stratagy. It worked so well, the enemy troops had summer wear in Russian Fall and Winter weather (isn't that one and the same in Russia?).

Not quite, the Germans did have winter clothes, but on the wrong end of those long rail lines, they couldn't ship everything to the front fast enough.

My grandmother was from the USSR (Latvia, not Russia), and my dad says she used to say there were 4 seasons there, Snow, Mud, Flies and Autumn. Though I'm led to believe you get mud before everything freezes over. Anyway, the mud stops everything, the roads become impassible, you can't move supplies from the railways. Then it freezes over after a bit, and you've got a nice solid surface to drive on. During the Siege of Leningrad, the Soviets drove supplies in over the frozen Lake Lagoda...but the drivers would tend to stand on the running boards and lean in to drive, because the trucks occasionally went straight through the ice. Apparently the headlights would still work on the way down, if you jumped on in time you'd watch them slowly fade into the depths.

Oh, minor problem with it freezing, though, everyone is freezing to death. You can't get enough supplies for everyone, and apparently the German's winter training wasn't as good as the USSR, they weren't as good as making do.

saint of m:
5. Hitler. He wanted them to take on the "Symbolic" city of Stalingrad, instead of the more tactically expedient OIL FIELDS (because Germany is not the first county I think of when I think of PETROL resources).

Yes...but I'm not sure this was much of a mistake. Stalingrad was symbolic, both sides thought so. If it was a mistake, it's one Stalin also made.

In any case, he could reach Stalingrad. The oil fields of the Caucuses, probably not.

Ah, I see you do indeed know far more than me. My apologies!.

Gethsemani:
However, the Wehrmacht enjoyed weight of fire advantages up until 1944, firing far more artillery shells of all calibers then the Red Army did. In 1943 the Wehrmacht alone (not counting other axis nations) fired 1,9 million tonnes of artillery shells, everything from mortars to railway guns, on the Eastern Front compared to 1,3 million for the Red Army. This in the year when the Red Army seized the initiative and started pushing the Axis back. Notable is that the Red Army fired far more mortar shells and low caliber artillery (76mm field guns), coming in at 330,000 tonnes compared to 150,000 tonnes of mortar and field gun shells by the Germans. What this means is that when it came to what we traditionally perceive as artillery, the Germans fired 1,75 million tonnes, compared to 'just' a million tonnes of shells for the Red Army. Germany very much enjoyed a weight of fire advantage, but they failed to utilize it to win battles post-1943 and the Red Army was increasingly able to concentrate their lesser weight of fire where it mattered to maximize operational impact.

That's really interesting, I thought the pivot point was 1942 not 1943 (in terms of where the Red Army were able to fire more shells) but as you later point out, I am overestimating the effect of the west allies' industry denial bombing. If only my previous Brit compatriots had kept up only bombing industry instead of trying civilian bombing and discovering that it barely works.

Gethsemani:
More pertinently, what made Citadel a failure was that the Red Army had correctly identified the one exposed weak spot in their lines and had taken meticulous preparations to ensure that it was nowhere near weak or exposed. Citadel failed because the Wehrmacht had to attack into massive prepared defensive works, with no ability to bypass the strong defenses and circle around them. That's partially a fault with the German planning, but also a testament to lessons learned by the Red Army, especially their use of minefields and pre-ranged artillery to prevent the breakthrough and breakout of German armored formations.

So far, that's just the failure of Citadel, which in hindsight seems pretty given. What wasn't given was that the Red Army would follow up with a counter-attack of their own that would actually succeed in dislodging the German formations in front of the Kursk Salient to such a degree that a front wide offensive in the fall of 1943 was made possible. They made plenty of mistakes in this first summer offensive, they counter-attacked too early, threw reinforcements into the exploitation too soon and failed to anticipate the speed and ferocity of German counter-strikes, but the writing was on the wall: The Red Army had gone from a leaderless army of poorly trained conscripts with ill-maintained equipment (the Red Army had some 45,000 tanks on paper in 1941, of which only some 15,000 were actually operational and most were obsolete light tanks from the 20's) and rife with corruption to a professional fighting force capable of conducting not only skillful defense in depth but to quickly turn that defense into an all out offensive.

Agreed. The Red Army fortified Kursk in a similar way to a lot of the battles across North Africa (i.e. very well). I have only to add that the Red Army was boosted immensely by the leaked intelligence report from Tunni intercepters/British intelligence giving the location of the Citadel attack (But not the time, I believe). The Red Army defences at the salient were in many ways a second Stalingrad, in that the design was to bog down or otherwise tie up as large a number of Nazi soldiers/equipment with as small a number of Red Army equivalent as possible; in preparation for a counter-attack that would have goals far past Kursk.

Absolutely, the USSR didn't get by with just a bunch of mastermind Generals and it can't be repeated enough that in the first 1,5 years of the war the Red Army was not competently led, was not capable of conducting offensive actions (and only occasionally capable of mounting proper defensive actions such as Minsk, Moscow, Leningrad, Sevastopol and Stalingrad). If not for Stalin's breakneck industrialization, forced collectivization and general preparation for the Soviet Union to become a nation ready for war (and this is not an endorsement of Stalin or his methods, mind you), it is unlikely that the USSR would have been able to withstand that terrible first blow in 1941. Had the Western Allies not kept up their tenacious resistance and costly strategic bombing campaign the USSR might not have survived.

But to point to Lend-Lease, Bomber Command or 'General Winter' is also to miss out on the hugely important fact that the Red Army proved itself up to the task of not only fending of the Wehrmacht, but ultimately beat it at its' own game and grind it down to an ineffective fighting force. Much of that is owed to the fact that the Red Army had a strategic doctrine to turn to once the initial chaos was over and its' generals started looking for a way to conduct war. Because ultimately, no matter what old Wehrmacht officers wanted you to believe, the reason Germany lost the war was not because Hitler was crazy or the Soviet Union was full of Asiatic hordes. It was because the Soviet Union mounted a military resistance no one thought possible and the Red Army officer corps, as bled dry as it was, proved itself eminently capable of learning on the job and drawing on the theoretical groundwork of their predecessors.

Completely agree with all your points. You have made a very good case and I have immensely enjoyed reading it. Thank you very much!

Stalin didn't really need the rousing speeches though because of the way the Soviet Union worked. Soviet propaganda was focused on glorifying the workers, farmers, soldiers, communist roots, etc, a lot more than even Nazi propaganda which put a lot more weight on Hitlers shoulders (Kinder, was wisst ihr vom F?hrer?).

Note how often he said "we" when "I" seems more appropriate in speeches. Thats not Stalin being a pompous twat, a retard or making a cheeky reference to the Big Lebowski, its because Stalin was meant to be viewed more as a small part of the glorious Soviet machine, rather than the architect, technichian and alchemist all in one like Hitler.

And Mussolinis mannerisms? Well, he's Italian. Thats probably not the whole story but theres some truth to the stereotype of the wildly gesticulating Italian.

Thaluikhain:
Certainly. Add to that, the USSR gets wider (north to south) the further east you go. You have to supply your forces by rail, and you've got 3 railways going east, one in the north, one in the south, and one in the centre. The Germans formed into Army Group North, Army Group South and Army Group Centre along them. But you go east and the distance between those gets bigger and bigger, you don't have rail lines connected them to any great extent, you just get forces further from their supply lines.

And, you don't have 3 rail lines, cause the Soviets wrecked them when retreating. I believe you trail a cable from the last train with a hook on it, it rips up the sleepers and tangles the lines together like spaghetti. So the Germans have to fix them. In preparation for this, they had lots of highly trained engineers, but still, a hell of a task. Because you have to supply your forces by rail, you can't advance faster than your engineers can build them. Also, the USSR uses different gauge tracks to the rest of Europe, so you can use captured Soviet gear, or use your own, not both. You can cut corners and make a single line track, instead of a double line one, but then you can't have trains running in both directions at the same time, for obvious reasons.

Also, where exactly are the railways and where exactly do they go? To find out, you have to look at a map...made by the Soviets in the knowledge that these are the maps any potential invaders would use. Therefore, the maps are somewhat creative and have little relation to the truth. The British took down road signs to confuse German invaders, same thing, much bigger scale.

Russians knew exactly where to hit the Germans hard. Decades later and we're still hopeless when it comes to rail transport. My train is late pretty much everyday and we're not even at war smh

War was lost the moment these "highly trained" German engineers had to get a fucking train running.

RiseOfTheWhiteWolf:
Russians knew exactly where to hit the Germans hard.

Yes, the bit of the front held by their Romanian and Italian allies.

To be fair, the Romanians mostly put up a pretty good fight: or at least as good as could be expected trying to stop tanks without the anti-tank weaponry they'd been urgently requesting for several months.

Agema:

Yes, the bit of the front held by their Romanian and Italian allies.

and Hungarians

Major Tom:
and Hungarians

Yes, you're quite right, I do apologise; I'd forgotten they were holding a big chunk of the line as well as the Italians in the second phase of the Soviet counter-offensive.

It's no problem, I do have a particular interest in Hungary. From what I have been told, I am fairly certain that the destruction of the 2nd Army at Stalingrad caused the propaganda machine to go into overdrive which then convinced my Opapa to join up to stop the Soviets.

I like it how you put 'IS' in the title as if they are still alive.

 

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