By August of 1942 reinforcements sent to assist Army Group B's drive on Stalingrad had transformed the German Sixth Army from a potent assembly of men and machines to the most powerful army in the world, with 22 divisions and supporting units under the command of General Friedrich Paulus. Facing the Sixth Army, and Fourth Panzer Army's seven German and four Romanian divisions, was a Soviet Stalingrad Front that had been decimated in July.
Early in December 1941 German led Axis forces had driven to the gates of Moscow. However, the Red Army counter-attacked their overextended enemy. Soviet armies drove the Wehrmacht and its Axis allies back across the entirety of the front, and put the nail in Operation Barbarossa's coffin. Nevertheless, by early in January 1942 most of the initial Soviet counterstrokes had fizzled to a halt, and for good reason.
In just over six months of warfare the Soviet Union had lost control over 40 percent of its population, a third of its heavy industry, and staggering military losses reaching nearly 5
For those of you who don't know Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe is about to be published in the United Kingdom by Casemate. As such, Casemate recently interviewed author Steven D Mercatante regarding such topics as how he became interested in World War Two, whether he was nervous about challenging the conventional wisdom on the reasons for the outcome of the War in Europe, and more.
For instance, the interviewer asks "In contesting a widely accepted theory based upon the inevitability of Germany’s defeat, were you nervous of what the response would be
One of the favorite topics of alternative history (and one of the scenarios endlessly replayed in war games such as Axis & Allies and 3rd Reich) is what if Germany had attempted Operation Sea Lion. Assuming a Luftwaffe victory over the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain was Sea Lion feasible in other respects? Could Hitler have knocked the United Kingdom out of the war in the summer of 1940 or would the attempt have led to his first major defeat?
As we celebrate yet another anniversary of the tremendous Allied victory of June 6, 1944, or D-Day, let us take a closer look at the role played by German command decisions as one element in enabling the Allied establishment of a lodgment in France. From the beginning, Germany's approach to defending against an Allied liberation of Western Europe was overshadowed by the war waged in Eastern Europe. In particular an early focus of the Wehrmacht's defensive efforts revolved around preventing special operations conducted primarily by the British.
This is the second in a series of posts detailing the human cost of the Second World War in Europe. Today we take a closer look at the toll in Eastern Europe.
In spite of the staggering human loss and destruction across all of Western and Southern Europe it could barely compare to the horror of Eastern Europe’s devastation. For example, Romania lost 500,000 people, 200,000 of which were civilians, or more people than the United States lost during the entire war but with a population a fraction of the American's size.
During the spring of 1944 the Red Army finally began wrapping up its enormously expensive eight month campaign to evict German forces from the Ukraine. The linchpin of this effort came against Army Group South's left wing - defended by its First and Fourth Panzer Armies. On March 4th Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front, spearheaded by the 3rd Guards Tank Army and 4th Tank Army, attacked German Army Group South's left wing. Zhukov's men forged numerous penetrations in German defensive lines already heavily weakened following the battle for the Korsun pocket.
Early in 1943 the Red Army had launched a series of massive offensives across the breadth of the German Eastern Front. In particular, and as the German Sixth Army fought to its destruction at Stalingrad, multiple Soviet fronts, spearheaded by General N.F. Vatutin's Southwestern Front, surged across southern Russia. Meanwhile, Erich von Manstein, commanding the whole of the reconstituted German Army Group South, the former Army Groups A, B and Don, fell back before the Soviet advance and regrouped his armies.
Soviet General Cherniakhovsky’s 60th Army, part of Golikov’s Voronezh Front, took
The Battle for Kasserine Pass began on February 14, 1943 and to this day ranks as one of the worst American military performances in the twentieth century. That said, as bad as the Battle for Kasserine Pass went it could have been a lot worse. Instead, and saving the Allies from a more significant defeat, the Germans undermined their own chances to create a significant operational and even strategic level success because, in part, and as was all too common during the Second World War, they failed to create a unified command with clearly defined and agreed upon objectives.