The biggest ground war in human history took place in Europe from September, 1939 to May, 1945. It has been over 60 years since the war ended. This paper quantifies the Weapons and Casualties during World War II in Europe. Books listed in the Appendix are by American military historians, British, German, America and Russian authors. A declassified U.S. Army document is the source of information about weapons that the Russians themselves produced. Authors Col.David Glantz and Walter Dunn provide data regarding Soviet military production.
There are TWO factors that need to be quantified:
Russia produced 97% of its own weapons. This is based on a declassified U.S. Army documents that I read 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 and massive)
By mid 1943 the Red Army had a 5 to 1 advantage in artillery over the German Army, 10 to 1 by mid 1944 and 30 to 1 in 1945.
- 100% of their own small arms. The now famous AK-47 came out in 1947.
- 99% of their own tanks (their T-34 was the best tank in WW II)
Soviet tank production had risen to 29,000 tanks in 1944. The U.S.
produced 17,500 tanks in 1944. German war production in 1944 was at its peak despite heavy American and British bombing.
- 93% of their own aircraft
- 82% of their own trucks
95% of the European axis forces that got killed in WW II got killed on the
Russia 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 a war. This percentage (95%) can be confirmed by doing a Time Line Analysis of WW II 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. German military losses were more than 4,000,000 killed. In the book written by Sir Max Hastings titled INFERNO The World at War 1939 -1945- Europe on page 316 are listed the casualties from the war. In addition the other Axis forces sustained heavy losses on the Russian Front. These numbers are presented with REMORSE for the 10’s of millions of Europeans that were killed in World War I and World War II. How much better and more secure the world be if these conflicts could/should have been avoided.
TIME LINE ANALYSIS
September 1939 to June 1941 -- Germany invades Poland starting WW II.
The British leave Europe in the spring of 1940. They return four years later
in June of 1944 during the invasion of France as part of Second Front.
Germany invades the Soviet Union. In the first six months Germany lost 25% of its original strength. During the Battle of Moscow, November 1941 to January 1942, Germany suffers its first defeat. By March 1942 Germany sustains 1,100,000 casualties.
Nov. 1942 to Jan.1943 – The Battle of Stalingrad changed the world.
The Battle of Al Alamayn was the biggest battle in North Africa
July 1943 -- Battle of Kursk took place.
June/July 1943 -- Sicily was invaded.
June 1944 -- Operation Bagration - Germany suffers a greater defeat than
June/July 1944 – The Second Front starts with the invasion of France.
April, 1945 – The Russians take Berlin and the war is over.
SEPTEMBER ,1939 to MAY,1940
Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939. A few days later Britain
and France declare war on Germany. Western historians describe the
September 1939 to May,1940 period as the "Phoney War” since very
little fighting took place.
When the Germans took Paris in the spring of 1940, they lost fewer troops
then they did in attempting to take a building in Stalingrad defended by
Sgt. Pavlov and his squad of a dozen Soviet soldiers. More French
collaborated with the Germans then fought against them. The last German
Iron Cross (equivalent of U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor) was awarded
to a Frenchman in the Battle of Berlin . He was a member of the S.S.
Charlemagne division which was annihilated by the Russians.
The British losses were light. In the spring of 1940, the Germans attacked and 300,000 British troops abandoned their weapons and returned to Britain. They returned to Europe in force in June, 1944 during the invasion of France and the start of the Second Front. The fighting in France was on a much bigger scale then 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 freed 6,000,000 Ukrainians, Russians, and Byelorussians from Polish rule. They greeted their Russian liberators with joy. The Curzon Line was established after WWI and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It accurately defined the boundaries between Poland and the Ukraine and Byelorussia. During the Russian Revolution and Civil War of 1917/1921 the Poles attacked and moved east of the Curzon Line by approximately 125 miles. For a period of 20 years they ruled over a population of 6,000,000 non Polish people. The present border approximates the Curzon Line established after WWI.
GERMANY INVADES the SOVIET UNION
On June 22, 1941 Germany and its allies invade the Soviet Union. German allies include Austria, Italy, Hungry, Finland and Romania with a combined population of 170,000,000. In addition Germany had collaborators from all the countries of Europe except Britain. The battle order of the German S.S. divisions in the last year and a half of the war had more non Germans then Germans. The population of the Soviet Union was 190,000,000. Popular impression was that Germany would win the war in 6 weeks against the Soviet Union, given that their victory was so easy in Western Europe.
BATTLE of MOSCOW
Germany suffered its first military defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The battle took place from November, 1941 to January, 1942 and insured that Germany could no longer win the war as initially anticipated. The Germans suffered 500,000 casualties in the battle. By March, 1942 the German 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 this number only 30,000 ever got back home.
On November 19, 1942 the Russians encircled 330,000 German troops inside Stalingrad. Of this number, 94,000 survived and surrendered on January 31, 1943. Only 5,000 ever got home. During the battle the Russians set up a ticking clock reminding the Germans that every 7 seconds one of them is being killed. In the spring thaw of 1943 there were rivulets of blood flowing into the Volga River. This battle made it very clear that Germany would lose the war. The Battle of Stalingrad is referred to as the battle that changed the world. What if the Nazis had won?
BATTLE of AL ALAMAYN
The biggest battle in North Africa was fought by the British in November, 1942 at about the same that the German army was being encircled in Stalingrad. The German losses at Al Alamayn were 1,000 killed and 9,000 captured or wounded. During this time period, the Germans had 3 divisions in North Africa and 160 divisions 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 and 350,000 captured or wounded. The Kursk Front alone involved 2.500,000 Red Army and 1,000,000 German troops. By this time Russian intelligence penetrated the German high command and knew exactly their plan of attack weeks ahead of the battle. Marshall Zhukov ordered the Red Army a week ahead of time as to the day and hour and places they were to open fire on. Kursk was Germany’s last attempt at an offensive on the Eastern Front. It failed. At this point in the war, Russia had 5 times as much artillery as did the Germans.
INVASION of SICILY
In July/August of 1943 160,000 U.S. and British troops invaded Sicily and defeated 60,000 German troops.
OPERATION BAGRATION & SECOND FRONT in FRANCE
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 the 6 weeks after D-Day (June/July 1944) total German losses 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 to the gates of Warsaw . For the Germans the destruction of Army Group Centre was a defeat greater than Stalingrad. In addition to Army Group Centre there were German Army Group North, German Army Group North Ukraine and German Army Group South Ukraine. They were defeated in short order. The Hungarian and Romanian armies were routed in similar fashion. Interesting, Hungry with a population of 10,000,000 lost as many soldiers on the Eastern Front (150,000) as did the U.S. and British in Europe and North Africa. Marshall Rokossovsky’s 2nd Byelorussian 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. Russia now had 10 times more artillery than the Germans.
BATTLE of BERLIN
In January/February, 1945 the Russians advanced from the Vistula river in Poland to the Oder river in Germany. The offensive was started earlier at a plea from Winston Churchill to counter the successful German offensive in the Ardennes ( the Battle of the Bulge in which 18,000 U.S. troops were killed and 60,000 wounded). The Ardennes battle took place in Belgium. The 3 Russian Marshalls, Zhukov, Rokossovsky and Konev had an army of 2,500,000 men versus a German army of 1,000,000. On April 16th, the Russian army under field commander Marshall Chuikov opened fire with 40,000 guns. This broke the last German resistance before Berlin with German losses of 50,000 men killed. During the course of the Berlin operation, the Germans lost 460,000 killed and 480,000 captured. In just 16 days the Russians took Berlin and the war was over. The victory made possible by the fact that the Soviet army materially and spiritually surpassed the enemy. In 1945 the Russians had 30 times more artillery as did the Germans. During this final assault on Berlin, the Russians had amassed over a dozen times as many men as the Western allies had in the D-Day invasion in June of 1944.
In the Pacific the Japanese got the message after a series of terrific naval defeats by the U.S. and their defeat assured by the atomic bomb. For good measure the Russians sent 1,600,000 troops into Manchuria. This terrified the Japanese officers to the point that they were killing their own children and wives for fear of capture. They remember the defeats the Russians inflected on them in 1938 & 1939 in Manchuria and Mongolia.
The best descriptions of the Russian soldier come from German soldiers, German generals, British generals and a Russian Jew who was a 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 a resignation to unthinkable hardships. This is the patience of a strong people .This is the patience of a great army. The greatness of the Russian soul is incredible.
A German soldier at Stalingrad wrote-the Russians are not human but some kind of cast iron creatures.
In his book, Willy Reese writes about 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 counterpart.
A German veteran aptly described the war in the West as "proper sport” while the war in the East was unmitigated disaster.
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 awarded to a Russian soldier in the final days of the Battle of Berlin. He heroically rescued a German woman and her 4 year old daughter and brought them to safety. During the rescue he was mortally wounded and died a few days later. When asked to whom they may report this heroic action, he replied—no one, my entire family was killed during 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 and more of them
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 in WWII that consisted of vast tank armies, artillery, infantry and aircraft. The Soviet concept of DEEP OPERATION represented the most advanced ideas attained in the history of military concepts. Refer to Deep Battle published by Brassey’s Defense Publishers. The 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 consisted of the 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.
The Americans and Russians need to review their common history.
Americans have been at war with about 10 different countries. NEVER against the Russians. Their contribution to winning WWII needs to be remembered and honored.
Marshall Zhukov’s Greatest Battles
The Noontide Press
Costa Mesa, Ca. 92627
By Col. David Glantz
Refer to pages 611 &612
University of Kansas Press
Citadel, the Battle of Kursk
Barnes & Noble Books
Hitler’s Nemesis –The Red Army 1930-1945
By Walter Dunn
Russia at War
By Alexander Werth
E.P. Dutton & Co.
The Road to Berlin
By John Erickson
ISBN 0-297 772384
The Battle for Stalingrad
Marshall Vasili Chuikov
Translated from Russian
Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Library of Congress No. 64-110
Stalin’s Keys to Victory
By Walter Dunn
D764 D7995 2006
Brassey’s Defense Publishers
By Geoffrey Roberts
Yale University Press (2006)
A Stranger to Myself
Willy Peter Reese (German Soldier)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Hitler’s Greatest Defeat
By Paul Adair
ISBN 0-8021-1487 3 Grove Press
A Writer at War
By Vassili Grossman
Pantheon Books, New York
By Max Hastings
D 743 H 36 2004
Stalingrad to Berlin
By Earl Ziemke
Library of Congress No 67-60001
When Titans Clashed
David Glantz & Jonathan House
University Press of Kansas
Marshall Zhukov’s Greatest Battles
By Marshall Zhukov
Translated from Russian
Harper & Roe Publishers
Soviet Casualties & Combat Losses
Greenhill Books, London
TV Books, Inc.
Stalin’s Generals (1993)
No Simple Victory: World War II , 1939-1945 –Europe
The Claws of the Bear
By Brian Moynahan
INFERNO The World at War 1939-1945 ( page 316 , German deaths)
By Max Hastings
Published by Alfred A. Knopf