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Old 10th April 2018, 06:00 AM   #41
HansMustermann
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And I have no problem with that. Napoleon was very competent as a general, but I have no problem with saying that his decisions as an Emperor were quite often not the best. E.g., his invasion of Russia was against repeated advice against it.

That said, compared to the idiocies I've charged the nazis with, well, actually very few historical people end up NEARLY as incompetent.
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Old 10th April 2018, 06:15 AM   #42
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Dan Carlin talked about this in one of his podcasts. His contention was that at least in terms of the Wehrmacht of WWI was superior to that of the NAZI's Wehrmacht. Basically the NAZI's valued political skill and connections more than competence. One of his examples was Albert Speer, the architect who Hitler put in charge of war production because Hitler liked him. Speer himself, said he was totally unqualified for the job but he wasn't going to say no to the Fuhrer.
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Old 10th April 2018, 10:35 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
And I will submit the idea that Germany had FAR cheaper ways to get whatever resources it was needing. In fact, the shortages in the late '30s were self-inflicted. Germany was starving its industry and infrastructure, to create the army for that war. And the price paid was with a hefty interest: the lost industrial growth.
There was very nearly literal starvation courtesy of their dismal handling of agriculture. Much of the land was, as you mention held, by small peasant farmers. Hideously inefficient, labour intensive, and poorly rewarded. When the armed forces started recruiting guess where much of the manpower came from? On top of that fertilizers were either imported or synthesized via the Haber process. So of course the foreign exchange needed to buy imported fertilizers went on 'essential' war ,materials and the Ammonia produced by the Haber process went to make explosives and not fertilizer. The larger landholders involved in dairy and meat production were dependent on imported animal feed, so again the diversion of foreign exchange hit them badly.

As you suggest the answer would have been to rationalize the farming system in the same way as Britain and others had done but the Nazi's idealized the peasant farmers and actively rejected such ideas.
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Old 10th April 2018, 10:54 AM   #44
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TBH, what I would suggest is more like that even leaving it alone would have been better than what they did. It wasn't just not the ideal approach to it, it was worse than not doing anything at all. So, yeah, you know how competent I think they were.
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Old 10th April 2018, 02:10 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, first of all, let's clearly define the following: "competent at WHAT?" Otherwise we'll be talking about very different things. As is happening already, in fact.

My first premise, and feel free to disagree, is that the implicit part of asking "how comptent is X?" is "at his job". E.g., a doctor could be very competent at leading a World Of Warcraft guild, or a lawyer could be even a world-class expert at translating ancient Egyptian, but that's not what we mean when we ask "how competent is X he", is it? What we mplicitly mean is as a doctor or respectively lawyer.

Or specifically in Hitler's case, I don't think anyone means "how competent a PAINTER was he?" Right?

My second premise is: well, what was the NSDAP's primary job after they won the elections? Was it to be brilliant at military strategy? No, that was the Wehrmacht's job. We're not asking whether Hitler would have been a brilliant general, are we?

And I submit to you the idea that their actual job was to lead their country and get the best possible outcome FOR THE COUNTRY in the specific set of circumstances.

Did they get that? Ehh... No. Not really. In fact, not even near.

But let's try to evaluate not just the end result, but the original plan. If it even went according to plan, was it the best way to go about it?

Well, no it wasn't. Rule of Acquisition #3: "Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to." Star Trek joke aside, there's an actual bit of wisdom in there.

And I will submit the idea that Germany had FAR cheaper ways to get whatever resources it was needing. In fact, the shortages in the late '30s were self-inflicted. Germany was starving its industry and infrastructure, to create the army for that war. And the price paid was with a hefty interest: the lost industrial growth.

And that's the problem: their goal was to have a war, not to judge whether that war is the best way to serve Germany's interests. And, sure, Rule of Acquisition #34: "War is good for business." But also #35: "Peace is good for business." You have a choice. Use what is best, not which one gives you a power rush.

But I mean, hell, not just the interests of Germany could have been acquired with a MUCH lower cost, but even murderous side-goals could be done much cheaper. E.g., Generalplan Ost and starving a couple million Ukrainians to get their food? Well, Stalin wa happy to do that for you. You could get that literally for zero cost. Just buy soviet grain, and daddy Stalin will throw in the genocide as a freebie.

So is it competent to pay a hideously higher cost for what you could get much cheaper? Would you call me competent if I were your stock broker and bought the same shares for 10 times the price?

And speaking of genocide, I submit this bit of insanity. Picture, if you will, being Germany in 1942. You've been stalled before Moskow, and the tide is turning. You're being outproduced by the Soviets, your manpower is not just limiting your front line troops but is starting to stall the industry again, and you have a MASSIVE logistics problem. Soldiers are coming back without fingers, toes, EYELIDS or in some cases GENITALS, which froze off. Literally. Why? Because you have the logistics to either ammo or clothes, but not both.

And it's not just on the frontline. Trucks and railway rolling stock have been nearly depleted for the industry and civilian use, to get even that much equipment hauled to the front line.

So what do the Nazis decide in this situation? What could possibly help their MANPOWER and LOGISTICS problems?

Well, I told you it's 42, so you know what they decide. They decide to kill a couple million Jews. Hitting Germany in the nuts on both counts. Not only now they drain some more able bodies that could serve the army or the industry, but they actually dedicate more trains, trucks, etc, to that task, at the detriment of the actual war effort?

Then by the end of 42, the situation gets worse. In fact, REAL bad. Do the Nazis stop the madness and dedicate that manpower and rolling stock to actually winning the war? NO. They accelerate the slaughter, diverting even more manpower and logistics from the war effort.

Was that a competent decision, I ask you? No, not really.

But let's look even deeper. What was the actual Lebensraum and Drang Nach Osten idea? What did so many Poles and Ukrainians and so on have to be murdered FOR? As in, what is the actual END for those MEANS? Well, the idea was to free land to use for German colonists. As in, more German peasants.

But let's stop and think about it for a moment. In the middle of the 20'th century, when everyone is industrializing and urbanizing, when Stalin is starving his own citizens for means to conduct his forced industrialization and urbanization... the Nazis think that what Germany REALLY needs is that more of its people be peasants? I.e., that the way to go is to become LESS urban and LESS industrialized? REALLY?

Is that the kind of plan you'd call competent, I ask you? Because I sure as hell wouldn't. In fact, I'd call it underpants-on-head pencils-up-the-nose idiotic. It's worse than the kind of plans Baldrick from Blackadder would come up with.
Well, ... it's complex. There were a lot of very competent work done. And yet ....

Let me take an example I'm currently involved with: The Atlantic Wall.

Late 1942, Nazi Germany was in a pinch. The blitz-krieg against Russia had stalled and the United States had entered the War. Fully occupied in the East, they needed to cover their backs. So they built, during 1943 and -44, a great wall in the West, to protect themselves against the Allied invasion they knew had to come. In fact, they correctly guessed the year and month for it, but they had 2,500 km of coastline and no good idea where it would come.

So they built a complex fully comparable with the Great Chinese Wall. From the Pyrenees to North Cape. Thousands of heavy bunkers each consisting of a couple of thousand tons of reinforced concrete. Cannon emplacements, near defense installations, mine fields, etc. All in the span of two years, while waging a war on the Eastern front, at sea, and in the air. The bunkers are still there, I make guided tours in some of them for tourists during the summer season.

Competent? Very much so.

But ... a fortified line? In 1943? Long obsolete. A totally desparate decision. Competent? No. ... And of course, like any other walls, it didn't hold the enemy out.

I could go on:

- Fantastic aircraft designs ... in production too late and in too smal numbers, often assigned in the wrong roles.

- Excellent U-boats, but the enemy had cracked their cyphered signals.

---

Hans
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Old 10th April 2018, 03:04 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Well, ... it's complex. There were a lot of very competent work done. And yet ....

Let me take an example I'm currently involved with: The Atlantic Wall.

Late 1942, Nazi Germany was in a pinch. The blitz-krieg against Russia had stalled and the United States had entered the War. Fully occupied in the East, they needed to cover their backs. So they built, during 1943 and -44, a great wall in the West, to protect themselves against the Allied invasion they knew had to come. In fact, they correctly guessed the year and month for it, but they had 2,500 km of coastline and no good idea where it would come.

So they built a complex fully comparable with the Great Chinese Wall. From the Pyrenees to North Cape. Thousands of heavy bunkers each consisting of a couple of thousand tons of reinforced concrete. Cannon emplacements, near defense installations, mine fields, etc. All in the span of two years, while waging a war on the Eastern front, at sea, and in the air. The bunkers are still there, I make guided tours in some of them for tourists during the summer season.

Competent? Very much so.

But ... a fortified line? In 1943? Long obsolete. A totally desparate decision. Competent? No. ... And of course, like any other walls, it didn't hold the enemy out.

I could go on:

- Fantastic aircraft designs ... in production too late and in too smal numbers, often assigned in the wrong roles.

- Excellent U-boats, but the enemy had cracked their cyphered signals.

---

Hans
They even had another series of fortifications: The Siegried Line. That actually did basically work. Its hard to say how long it would've taken the allies to breach it, if not for the Germans overstretching themselves for the Ardennes offensive.
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Old 11th April 2018, 12:20 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
I could go on:

- Fantastic aircraft designs ... in production too late and in too smal numbers, often assigned in the wrong roles.

- Excellent U-boats, but the enemy had cracked their cyphered signals.
Well, that kinda makes my point, though. The aircraft and the u-boats were not designed by the NSDAP, they were designed by private companies. Procurement of those was the government's job and, at least for the aircraft (I didn't study the u-boot part) it was a right mess, due to the Game Of Thrones like issue of people working against each other instead of with each other. Not to mention it being hard to untangle which doctrines were actually what any competent officer in the Luftwaffe would have wanted, from what was useful for Goering's self promotion or Nazi political ideals.

I'm seriously hard pressed to figure many things that the NSDAP showed any competence in. Once you look deep enough into the things that did work, you find that they were either not the merit of the Nazi leaders, or sometimes done AGAINST the wishes of the Nazi leaders. (See, the first assault rifle.)
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Old 11th April 2018, 12:37 AM   #48
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To put it otherwise, would you say that the Sherman being a good tank is the merit of the Democratic Party and/or Roosevelt? Probably not.

Well, that's exactly my problem when I hear people crediting the Nazis with stuff like having good aircraft or whatnot. Or the proverbial crediting Mussolini with getting the trains to run on time. Whatever collective guilt one wants to attribute to Germany for that sordid affair, Germany still isn't a synonym for Nazis, just like Italy isn't a synonym for fascists.

When you look at what the Nazis actually did, and specifically Hitler, actually most of it was either just propaganda hot air (e.g., "solving" unemployment by excluding women from unemployment statistics) or boiled down to creating extra counter-productive chaos. Especially Hitler, that was really his special skill: creating chaos. From the brown shirts episode to pitting every party official against every other party official, creating parallel lines of command in the army, and actually decorating people for insubordination. That's how he kept himself in power.

So, sure, he was competent at keeping himself in power, even if he had to ruin Germany for it. But he wasn't very competent at running Germany. Because the chaos he created was actually counter-productive for the country. It only benefitted himself.
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Old 11th April 2018, 12:40 AM   #49
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Well, they didn't manage to make use of the Ark of the Covenant...
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Old 11th April 2018, 02:18 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Well, ... it's complex. There were a lot of very competent work done. And yet ....

Let me take an example I'm currently involved with: The Atlantic Wall.

Late 1942, Nazi Germany was in a pinch. The blitz-krieg against Russia had stalled and the United States had entered the War. Fully occupied in the East, they needed to cover their backs. So they built, during 1943 and -44, a great wall in the West, to protect themselves against the Allied invasion they knew had to come. In fact, they correctly guessed the year and month for it, but they had 2,500 km of coastline and no good idea where it would come.

So they built a complex fully comparable with the Great Chinese Wall. From the Pyrenees to North Cape. Thousands of heavy bunkers each consisting of a couple of thousand tons of reinforced concrete. Cannon emplacements, near defense installations, mine fields, etc. All in the span of two years, while waging a war on the Eastern front, at sea, and in the air. The bunkers are still there, I make guided tours in some of them for tourists during the summer season.

Competent? Very much so.

But ... a fortified line? In 1943? Long obsolete. A totally desparate decision. Competent? No. ... And of course, like any other walls, it didn't hold the enemy out.

I could go on:

- Fantastic aircraft designs ... in production too late and in too smal numbers, often assigned in the wrong roles.

- Excellent U-boats, but the enemy had cracked their cyphered signals.

---

Hans
For the Allies to land in France you need two things
1. Long beaches
2. Short distance for the shipping.
If you look at a map you will find that there are two suitable places for an invasion of France from the UK.
1. The shortest route - Calais
2. Normandy. This is where they did land.
The trouble was that Hitler and his generals did not agree which site the Allies would land at. Hitler said Calais. His generals said Normandy. Result: too many troops were at and around Calais or in reserve for far too long. Even when they were moved they could only move at night time as the British had air superiority.

The U boats were not much better than WW1 boats. What they had were excellent crews. The trouble is that they were slowly killed off. Sure they were replaced, but not with people who had received so much training. Later in the war they needed bigger boats, but they never came.

R&D is critical. At the start of the war the Germans often had better hardware. Trouble is not much was improved during the war. They did build the V1, V2 and V3 but they were all too little and too late.
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Old 11th April 2018, 03:40 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
For the Allies to land in France you need two things
1. Long beaches
2. Short distance for the shipping.
If you look at a map you will find that there are two suitable places for an invasion of France from the UK.
1. The shortest route - Calais
2. Normandy. This is where they did land.
The trouble was that Hitler and his generals did not agree which site the Allies would land at. Hitler said Calais. His generals said Normandy. Result: too many troops were at and around Calais or in reserve for far too long. Even when they were moved they could only move at night time as the British had air superiority.
The latter was because the Allies had an extensive deception operation going which even after D-Day suggested that the main force was still to come, and land around Calais.

Why, BTW, do you restrict yourself in the above to France? Belgium has 70 km of beautiful beachy coast line, Holland even more, and it's not further away from England than Normandy.
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Old 11th April 2018, 05:02 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
The latter was because the Allies had an extensive deception operation going which even after D-Day suggested that the main force was still to come, and land around Calais.

Why, BTW, do you restrict yourself in the above to France? Belgium has 70 km of beautiful beachy coast line, Holland even more, and it's not further away from England than Normandy.
It is from secure harbours where you want to start your armada from.
That's why I don't really understand the German fixation on Calais. Yes it is a very short distance, but starting an Armada from Dover is a non starter. You could shell the Armada from the French coast if you so desire.

If you want to assamble an Armada somewhere on the UK coast with a not too large trip to do for the invasion, then the harbours used and Normandy as a landing place are about the only options left.

On the other hand. If you only fortify Normandy and neglect the rest then the other beaches do start to look more promising. So there's that.
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Old 11th April 2018, 05:05 AM   #53
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By the queen's beard, old chap... Belgium? Have you no sense?

In France you only had to deal with German troops and landmines and hedgerows... well, and the occasional French mime. But in Belgium *shudder* they had Brussels sprouts!
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Old 11th April 2018, 05:45 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
By the queen's beard, old chap... Belgium? Have you no sense?

In France you only had to deal with German troops and landmines and hedgerows... well, and the occasional French mime. But in Belgium *shudder* they had Brussels sprouts!
You would think that would be enough of a defence mechanism against invasion, wouldn't you?

Somehow the Germans just can't stop themselves from invading Belgium.
It's like catnip, but then for Germans.
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Old 11th April 2018, 06:05 AM   #55
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Well, I never said that that lot had much sense either
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Old 11th April 2018, 06:13 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Hitler said Calais. His generals said Normandy.
I'd like to know your source for that as everything I've read says that the German high command was completely deceived, both because of Operation Fortitude and because an attack on the Pas De Calais fitted their own preconceived notions.

the only things I've come across that suggest otherwise are things like 'The Longest Day' and other fictionalized accounts that try to buff the reputations of some of the German Generals. A number of surviving members of the German High Command did make a lot of claims about Dunkirk, Sealion, etc. designed to shift blame for failures, but none of it stands up to scrutiny.

Germany entered the war in 1939 with no plan for how to defeat Britain, a plan for France that was basically a rerun of the Schlieffen Plan and Hitler assuming the USA would become involved on the British side. the successful plan of attack through the Ardennes was adopted less because of any strategic insight and more because it was the only one that offered a chance of defeating the French before the Wehrmacht ran out of supplies. It required some phenomenal luck, and terrible allied leadership to succeed.

Let's not forget the multiple time members of the German high command plotted to overthrow Hitler and either chickened out or made a mess of it.

I think the abilities of the likes of Guderian and Rommel have been overstated because for losing Allied leaders it sounded better if they were defeated by a military genius and could avoid scrutiny of their own poor performance.
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Old 11th April 2018, 08:33 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
For the Allies to land in France you need two things
1. Long beaches
2. Short distance for the shipping.
If you look at a map you will find that there are two suitable places for an invasion of France from the UK.
1. The shortest route - Calais
2. Normandy. This is where they did land.
The trouble was that Hitler and his generals did not agree which site the Allies would land at. Hitler said Calais. His generals said Normandy. Result: too many troops were at and around Calais or in reserve for far too long. Even when they were moved they could only move at night time as the British had air superiority.
The original plan was to have a near simultaneous landing in southern France near Marseilles. I guess they didn't necessarily have to have the shortest distance for shipping. A deep water port captured intact was more important. Of course that operation was delayed until August due to the 5th Army being bogged down in Italy I believe.
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Old 11th April 2018, 08:48 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
I think the abilities of the likes of Guderian and Rommel have been overstated because for losing Allied leaders it sounded better if they were defeated by a military genius and could avoid scrutiny of their own poor performance.
There may be a little of this going on, but many of the well regarded German Generals - Manstein, Guderian, Rommel, Kesselring, von Rundsedt - were reasonably competent at their jobs of tactical military leadership and direction. For example, Rommel was definitely an aggressive tactical leader with an eye for being able to exploit opportunities. His reputation as a "good German" doesn't bear up (his wife was an early supporter of Hitler and he owed his early position as a divisional commander to being a favourite of the Austrian Corporal), but his abilities on a tactical level were not insignificant.

Short answer is that there is an element of truth, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
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Old 11th April 2018, 08:53 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
There may be a little of this going on, but many of the well regarded German Generals - Manstein, Guderian, Rommel, Kesselring, von Rundsedt - were reasonably competent at their jobs of tactical military leadership and direction. For example, Rommel was definitely an aggressive tactical leader with an eye for being able to exploit opportunities. His reputation as a "good German" doesn't bear up (his wife was an early supporter of Hitler and he owed his early position as a divisional commander to being a favourite of the Austrian Corporal), but his abilities on a tactical level were not insignificant.

Short answer is that there is an element of truth, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
I think that stuff mainly came into being in the 50's and 60's. West Germany were our allies in the Cold War. Many of the senior officers of the Bundeswhehr were Wermacht officers in WW2. So a myth was created that the Wermacht officers weren't Nazis, they were just apolitical soldiers. Otherwise we were working with former Nazi's which is a bit distasteful.
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Old 11th April 2018, 09:31 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by lobosrul5 View Post
I think that stuff mainly came into being in the 50's and 60's. West Germany were our allies in the Cold War. Many of the senior officers of the Bundeswhehr were Wermacht officers in WW2. So a myth was created that the Wermacht officers weren't Nazis, they were just apolitical soldiers. Otherwise we were working with former Nazi's which is a bit distasteful.
Agreed. It's also the reason that the competence of many of the Soviet commanders (Zhukov for example) were downplayed or just ignored in popular histories.
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Old 11th April 2018, 10:50 AM   #61
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On the other hand, the Nazis were quite competent at propaganda.

And the whole "foment ethnic unrest across the border, drum it up into nationalistic outrage, and use it as an excuse to occupy and annex territory - - with the de facto approval of the international community" thing seems to have been a core competency for them.
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Old 11th April 2018, 10:51 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, that kinda makes my point, though.
Oh, didn't disagree with much of what you said. Just pointing out the complexity.

Quote:
The aircraft and the u-boats were not designed by the NSDAP, they were designed by private companies. Procurement of those was the government's job and, at least for the aircraft (I didn't study the u-boot part) it was a right mess, due to the Game Of Thrones like issue of people working against each other instead of with each other. Not to mention it being hard to untangle which doctrines were actually what any competent officer in the Luftwaffe would have wanted, from what was useful for Goering's self promotion or Nazi political ideals.

I'm seriously hard pressed to figure many things that the NSDAP showed any competence in. Once you look deep enough into the things that did work, you find that they were either not the merit of the Nazi leaders, or sometimes done AGAINST the wishes of the Nazi leaders. (See, the first assault rifle.)
Now you make a distinction between Nazi party top leadership and lower echelons. This seems (I don't know if this is your intention) to support the idea that all the generals etc. were just innocent patriots and only the very top were bad guys. Sort of the Nuremberg stance. However, most of the middle leaders were also devout Nazis. But let's look at some of the top persons:

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Devout Nazi. Certainly as competent as any Allied military leader. If I were to choose between him and Montgomery (from a pure leadership POV) I would surely choose Rommel. He ended up conspiring against Hitler (presumably), but that was not due to ideology, but because he was fed up with Hitler's increasingly idiotic decisions.

Several other generals were excellent military leaders.

Albert Speer. I'm not sure of his ideological standpoint, but he certainly did a very competent job of securing supplies for the Wehrmacht, given the circumstances. Fully on level with Lord Mountbatten.

Joseph Goebbels. Totally devout Nazi. VERY competent propagandist, probably one of the best the word has seen (a certain current orange president is a hopeless amateur in comparison).

Heinrich Himmler. Chief engineer of the Holocaust. Unfortunately quite competent.

Hans
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Old 11th April 2018, 01:57 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
There may be a little of this going on, but many of the well regarded German Generals - Manstein, Guderian, Rommel, Kesselring, von Rundsedt - were reasonably competent at their jobs of tactical military leadership and direction. For example, Rommel was definitely an aggressive tactical leader with an eye for being able to exploit opportunities.

His reputation as a "good German" doesn't bear up (his wife was an early supporter of Hitler and he owed his early position as a divisional commander to being a favourite of the Austrian Corporal), but his abilities on a tactical level were not insignificant.

Short answer is that there is an element of truth, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
I agree with you. The likes of Rommel were certainly competent on a tactical level, where aggression and adaptability were paramount. Strategically however the German leadership was fairly appalling. Post war strategic failures were blamed on Hitler's interference, whether or not that was the cause of the failures.
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Old 11th April 2018, 10:12 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Now you make a distinction between Nazi party top leadership and lower echelons. This seems (I don't know if this is your intention) to support the idea that all the generals etc. were just innocent patriots and only the very top were bad guys. Sort of the Nuremberg stance. However, most of the middle leaders were also devout Nazis. But let's look at some of the top persons:
I'm doing nothing of the kind.

I'm just pointing out that the guys who designed a good airplane were not part of the NSDAP leadership, and could have designed a good plane under any other party. So I don't see why the NSDAP should get the credit for the competence of completely different people, and for a completely different thing than was the Party's main job.

Just like the guys who designed the Sherman weren't a part of the Democratic Party structure. You know, the party that was in power in the USA IIRC.

Now some of the former may have had Nazi convictions or been members of the NSDAP, just like some of the latter may have voted for the Democrats or even been members of the Democratic Party. But that's not what made them good engineers. And designing an airplane or a tank wasn't a part of either party's job description.

Basically if you can't say that tank design is a merit of specifically the Democratic Party, you also can't say that airplane design is a merit of the NSDAP. If you can't say "vote Democrat, we design good tanks" then it seems to me that the NSDAP also doesn't get to use airplanes as an example of its competence.

Is all I'm saying.
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Old 12th April 2018, 02:06 AM   #65
Hubert Cumberdale
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Devout Nazi. Certainly as competent as any Allied military leader. If I were to choose between him and Montgomery (from a pure leadership POV) I would surely choose Rommel. He ended up conspiring against Hitler (presumably), but that was not due to ideology, but because he was fed up with Hitler's increasingly idiotic decisions.
Oh yes.

Erwin "Who needs Staff College when I get promoted by Nazi party connections, micro manage everything, disregard my supply lines, and then blame the Italians for everything that goes wrong" Rommel?

Really. No.

Rommel was a reckless opportunist who enjoyed some successes against poorly lead and/or equipped enemies in both wars but was totally unqualified for any job above Divisional command.

In the Vosges he did nothing remarkable.

In the Isonzo front he had success against Italian and Romanian troops which came to a screeching halt when they were bolstered by competent British and French troops.

He nearly got his poop pushed in by an ad hoc collection of obsolete tanks (and I use that word loosely) at Arras.

In the desert his one party trick was to exploit the British 2-pdr equipped tanks with an anti-tank screen, something which came to a screeching halt again when 75mm equipped M3's showed up.

His major success in the western desert at Gazala is only explicable by Ritchies crass incompetence in not annihilating the DAK when they trapped themselves in the cauldron. The corollary to that was to advance to a position at the extremity of his logistics and from which he could not hope to advance further. GG.

After that Monty kicked his bum all the way from Alamein to Normandy.

If you're choosing Rommel over Monty, perhaps you could point out one instance where the former triumphed over the latter?
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Old 12th April 2018, 02:43 AM   #66
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To clarify my position a bit, what I was arguing all along is the lack of competence of the NSDAP as a whole. As a ruling party. At the job of a ruling party. You know, the job of ruling a country, for the good of that country.

I'm not denying that individual people, some who may even have been card-carrying NSDAP members, may have been competent at their own jobs, which had nothing to do with ruling the country. Sure, a lot of generals were good at leading troops, a bunch of engineers were good at engineering, and some were even good at genocide. I'm not saying that joining the Nazis made them suddenly stupid.

The context in which I'm framing it is basically just this: if you could say which PARTY was the most competent at the very specific job of leading Germany in the '30s... well, MY take is that actually the NSDAP were the most incompetent choice.

Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Heinrich Himmler. Chief engineer of the Holocaust. Unfortunately quite competent.
I just wanted to address this, because it brings me back to my previous point: competent at WHAT job?

As I've said before, the holocaust was actually a very counter-productive thing, for a Germany which was increasingly having manpower and logistics problems. The fact that they even had to put a guy in charge of making a bigger hole in the national manpower, and using up some more logistic capacity for it doesn't exactly strike me as a competent decision.

So, I dunno, it's a bit like being very competent at shooting oneself in the foot. Top marksman even. Can nail any toe in one shot, even with the boots on. You know, without seeing the toes. Still not exactly something to be proud of

THAT said, I still say even he wasn't all that competent at the rest of his job. E.g., first and foremost he was in charge of the SS. And frankly he did a piss-poor job of it. Some people have this myth of the elite SS soldiers, but actually they were routinely promoting incompetent officers, as a result their tactics were poor (if overly aggressive). And they made a point of not coordinating at all with the rest of the army, or even going against what a coordinated effort would look like. Which is Epic Fail 101, as military command goes.

So as the leader of an army, I wouldn't rate him as the most competent army leader either.
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Old 12th April 2018, 04:07 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
If you're choosing Rommel over Monty, perhaps you could point out one instance where the former triumphed over the latter?
Between Rommel and Monty - Monty every time.

Between Monty and Patton - there we can have a decent debate (in another thread).

Between Monty and Zhukov - I'm likely to select Zhukov, but again, that's a discussion for another thread.

The German military leaders of WWI and WWII seem to have had a less than competent grasp of strategy, gambling on the idea of being able to win a short, sharp conflict then rebuilding before starting off on the next conflict. Tactically, many of them were very good, some even brilliant (and yes, some of them should not have progressed beyond shining Landser Schmidt's boots), but overall they didn't seem to grasp the concept that in a war of attrition, the country with least amount of resources and an inability to gain access to more is going to lose or that you're not always going to roll the hard six.
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Old 12th April 2018, 04:23 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
So, I dunno, it's a bit like being very competent at shooting oneself in the foot. Top marksman even. Can nail any toe in one shot, even with the boots on. You know, without seeing the toes. Still not exactly something to be proud of
Speaking of shooting oneself in the foot, the seemingly unending willingness to dig Italy out of hole. however well handled the North African campaign was tactically it made no sense strategically. Hitler was willing it seemed to renege on every agreement he made, except his alliance with the Italians. Twice Germany committed diverted some of its already limited resources to digging the Italians out of a hole. The only thing the fighting in Greece and Crete achieved was the decimation of the Fallschirmjager. The North African campaign was an endless drain on supplies and equipment that were badly needed elsewhere, a problem compounded by the Ultra intercepts allowing the British to pick out the fuel tankers for special attention. Even after Operation Torch should have made it clear that North Africa was a lost cause German troops kept being poured in, some arriving just in time to join the surrender of the Africa Corps in Tunisia.

Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
...overall they didn't seem to grasp the concept that in a war of attrition, the country with least amount of resources and an inability to gain access to more is going to lose or that you're not always going to roll the hard six.
They put their faith in 'Blitzkrieg' as a panacea for the inadequacies of their logistics tail. When they launched Barbarossa the Germans knew that they could only sustain their supply lines up to 500km from the start line, if they couldn't destroy the Soviet army before it withdrew beyond that range their chances of winning were slender at least. Certainly it can be argued there were strategic choices that might have gotten the Wehrmacht to Moscow, but would taking Moscow have worked any better in 1941 than it did in 1812?
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Old 12th April 2018, 04:51 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
Between Rommel and Monty - Monty every time.

Between Monty and Patton - there we can have a decent debate (in another thread).

Between Monty and Zhukov - I'm likely to select Zhukov, but again, that's a discussion for another thread.

The German military leaders of WWI and WWII seem to have had a less than competent grasp of strategy, gambling on the idea of being able to win a short, sharp conflict then rebuilding before starting off on the next conflict. Tactically, many of them were very good, some even brilliant (and yes, some of them should not have progressed beyond shining Landser Schmidt's boots), but overall they didn't seem to grasp the concept that in a war of attrition, the country with least amount of resources and an inability to gain access to more is going to lose or that you're not always going to roll the hard six.
Zhokov had a big advantage over Monty in that he did not have to be liked by his coalition partners. Monty was by all accounts thoroughly unlikeable even by the standard of Generals who are of necessity a pretty unlikeable bunch of men. I have a pet theory that many Generals suffer from personality disorders being mild/high functioning autists (Monty/Haig) or narcissists (Patton/Rommel)

With regards to the highlighted, it may be said that the Germans were very good at fighting but not very good at war. I think at least in part this is down to the old Prussian General Staff model who prioritised operational matters over things like logistics, intelligence, and strategy.
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Old 12th April 2018, 05:07 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Speaking of shooting oneself in the foot, the seemingly unending willingness to dig Italy out of hole. however well handled the North African campaign was tactically it made no sense strategically. Hitler was willing it seemed to renege on every agreement he made, except his alliance with the Italians. Twice Germany committed diverted some of its already limited resources to digging the Italians out of a hole. The only thing the fighting in Greece and Crete achieved was the decimation of the Fallschirmjager. The North African campaign was an endless drain on supplies and equipment that were badly needed elsewhere, a problem compounded by the Ultra intercepts allowing the British to pick out the fuel tankers for special attention. Even after Operation Torch should have made it clear that North Africa was a lost cause German troops kept being poured in, some arriving just in time to join the surrender of the Africa Corps in Tunisia.



They put their faith in 'Blitzkrieg' as a panacea for the inadequacies of their logistics tail. When they launched Barbarossa the Germans knew that they could only sustain their supply lines up to 500km from the start line, if they couldn't destroy the Soviet army before it withdrew beyond that range their chances of winning were slender at least. Certainly it can be argued there were strategic choices that might have gotten the Wehrmacht to Moscow, but would taking Moscow have worked any better in 1941 than it did in 1812?
War, IRL, works just like a computer game where you have to cap the enemy base.

Quite what the Germans were supposed to do once in the suburbs of Moscow, fighting house to house in the middle of Russian winter, with supply considerations immeasurably worse than at Stalingrad, well I don't know.

But hey! cap base team!
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Old 12th April 2018, 05:56 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post

If you're choosing Rommel over Monty, perhaps you could point out one instance where the former triumphed over the latter?
I can't. Because he didn't. However, the recklessness and micromanaging is something he certainly shared with Monty. Except in the cases where Monty was suddenly overcautious and didn't act in time.

Anyhow, I read biographies of both men and and I can't quite recognize the picture you paint.

Hans
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Old 12th April 2018, 01:01 PM   #72
Hubert Cumberdale
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
I can't. Because he didn't. However, the recklessness and micromanaging is something he certainly shared with Monty. Except in the cases where Monty was suddenly overcautious and didn't act in time.

Anyhow, I read biographies of both men and and I can't quite recognize the picture you paint.

Hans
So wait, you acknowledge that Monty consistently beat Rommel yet you would chose the man who consistently lost over the man who consistently beat him? That's an odd way of selecting for competence....

What part of my description of Rommel is incorrect?

Its a fact that he never attended staff college.

His recklessness and disregard for authority and logistical constraints are well attested as is his penchant for behaving like a subaltern instead of a General

Please point out where he scored any notable victories over adequately equipped and reasonably well lead opposition.

As to Monty,
  • His handling of the 3rd Division in 1940 was exemplary.
  • Easily gains victory after victory in north Africa often correctly estimating the length of battle and casualties.
  • Wins even when Rommel has the numerical advantage
  • Plays a key role in the invasion of Sicily
  • Plays a key role in planning Overlord and is in charge of all allied ground forces on D-Day
  • Destroys the bulk of German heavy forces in attritional fighting in Normandy, generating a situation where a breakout and encirclement are possible
  • Had a major part in preventing a German breakthrough at the Battle of the Bulge
  • Had a hand in the encirclement of Army Group B in the Ruhr, leading to more massive amounts of German casualties.
  • Accepts the Surrender of the German forces in NW Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands
  • Had two puppies, one called "Hitler" and one called "Rommel"
  • Is badass AF



???????

  • Is a bad General
  • Not good enough for the internet
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Old 12th April 2018, 01:27 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
So wait, you acknowledge that Monty consistently beat Rommel yet you would chose the man who consistently lost over the man who consistently beat him? That's an odd way of selecting for competence....
They didn't exactly have the same conditions, right?

Quote:
What part of my description of Rommel is incorrect?
I'm not qualified to judge. I just observe that what I have read gives a different impression.

Quote:
Its a fact that he never attended staff college.
Ehr, so what?

Quote:
His recklessness and disregard for authority and logistical constraints are well attested as is his penchant for behaving like a subaltern instead of a General
He did repeatedly disregard idiotic orders from Hitler, that is true.

Quote:
Please point out where he scored any notable victories over adequately equipped and reasonably well lead opposition.
Please note where the Wehrmacht did that, in general, once the initial momentum was lost.

Quote:
As to Monty,
  • His handling of the 3rd Division in 1940 was exemplary.
  • Easily gains victory after victory in north Africa often correctly estimating the length of battle and casualties.
  • Wins even when Rommel has the numerical advantage
  • Plays a key role in the invasion of Sicily
  • Plays a key role in planning Overlord and is in charge of all allied ground forces on D-Day
  • Destroys the bulk of German heavy forces in attritional fighting in Normandy, generating a situation where a breakout and encirclement are possible
  • Had a major part in preventing a German breakthrough at the Battle of the Bulge
  • Had a hand in the encirclement of Army Group B in the Ruhr, leading to more massive amounts of German casualties.
  • Accepts the Surrender of the German forces in NW Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands
  • Had two puppies, one called "Hitler" and one called "Rommel"
  • Is badass AF
Seems you forgot Market Garden, for one.

Hans
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Old 13th April 2018, 02:48 AM   #74
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I wouldn't say that Rommel was incompetent, but his insubordination is not just to Hitler.

Starting with his Ghost Division stunt which, while successful, also meant his own superiors at the HQ had NO idea where he is or what in Satan's name he's doing. It's not some glorious nickname given by his enemy. It's the guys at the HQ who started referring to the 7th Panzer Division as the "Gespensterdivision" (literally, division of ghosts) because it pretty much just disappeared off their own maps.

Also, in Africa he did sass the HQ for not sending him more supplies and reinforcements for the offensive he unilaterally decided to do, while they were busy preparing for Barbarossa. Say what you will about Hitler's decisions, but Von Runstedt -- you know, the guy Rommel sassed there -- wasn't really doing anything idiotic there. He was just doing his job of securing the supplies for a major offensive.

So, you know, tactical skill? Sure. Knowing how to coordinate with the rest of the army? Not a iota.


Edit: which really brings me to my previous point. Encouraging that kind of chaos was Hitler's main skill, really. I don't know whether I should actually call Rommel less competent for pulling that kind of stunts, when that kind of stunts were routinely rewarded instead of punished. He himself got promoted for the Ghost Division stunt. So why should he change? Basically, was he genuinely bad at following orders, OR was he good at doing what obviously works? Is all I'm saying.

Edit: and in either case I'd give the bigger blame to Hitler for encouraging that kind of chaos.
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Old 13th April 2018, 03:12 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
Certainly it can be argued there were strategic choices that might have gotten the Wehrmacht to Moscow, but would taking Moscow have worked any better in 1941 than it did in 1812?
Sadly, there weren't. People just look superficially at it and go "they should have pressed on instead of veering south", but actually it was to actually close those encirclements and avoid a much bigger problem later. Or they go "they shouldn't have stopped there", but they had just ran to the end of that logistics leash. Etc.

Essentially, short of omniscience in one or two cases, there's no way other decisions would have made more sense or gotten them any farther east.
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Old 13th April 2018, 03:41 AM   #76
Hubert Cumberdale
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
They didn't exactly have the same conditions, right?



I'm not qualified to judge. I just observe that what I have read gives a different impression.



Ehr, so what?



He did repeatedly disregard idiotic orders from Hitler, that is true.



Please note where the Wehrmacht did that, in general, once the initial momentum was lost.



Seems you forgot Market Garden, for one.

Hans

1. No two opposing Generals have the same conditions

2. So you can't refute any of my characterisations of Rommel (because I'm making good points) but still Rommel because of reasons.

3. What do you mean so what? People need to be trained and qualified to perform at the top of their professions. Are you Michael Gove or something?

4. Please tell me more about Hitler's idiotic orders to Rommel

5. Easy, off the top of my head Kesselring fought a brilliant defensive campaign in Italy, Manstein at 3rd Kharkov, Model at Rzhev - in fact Model in an interesting comparator. He was also apt to stick his nose in right at the front and disregarded the chain of command but was able to fight successful defensive battles, unlike Rommel who was just a loser.

6. Market Garden may be regarded as a failure as it didn't achieve its overall purpose, but was largely successful on the operational level. No General is perfect but MG was hardly a catastrophe.
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Old 13th April 2018, 04:34 AM   #77
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Well, in all fairness, a lot of people excelled in professions they didn't have a formal training in. E.g., Einstein didn't have a physics degree, he was technically qualified only to be a teacher.

I will grant though that the army wants to make sure people have the formal qualification for whatever they're doing, down to being formally qualified to operate a sniper rifle or a radio. Makes sense, too, when people's lives depend on it.
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Old 13th April 2018, 12:52 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
1. No two opposing Generals have the same conditions

2. So you can't refute any of my characterisations of Rommel (because I'm making good points) but still Rommel because of reasons.

3. What do you mean so what? People need to be trained and qualified to perform at the top of their professions. Are you Michael Gove or something?

4. Please tell me more about Hitler's idiotic orders to Rommel

5. Easy, off the top of my head Kesselring fought a brilliant defensive campaign in Italy, Manstein at 3rd Kharkov, Model at Rzhev - in fact Model in an interesting comparator. He was also apt to stick his nose in right at the front and disregarded the chain of command but was able to fight successful defensive battles, unlike Rommel who was just a loser.

6. Market Garden may be regarded as a failure as it didn't achieve its overall purpose, but was largely successful on the operational level. No General is perfect but MG was hardly a catastrophe.
The point was competence. It would make no sense to say Rommel was not competent.

Market Garden failed, period. I just noted that you happened to omit it when listing Monty's exploits. I certainly also would not consider Montgomery incompetent. If you would prefer him, be my guest.

Hans
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Old 13th April 2018, 02:08 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, that kinda makes my point, though. The aircraft and the u-boats were not designed by the NSDAP, they were designed by private companies. Procurement of those was the government's job and, at least for the aircraft (I didn't study the u-boot part) it was a right mess, due to the Game Of Thrones like issue of people working against each other instead of with each other. Not to mention it being hard to untangle which doctrines were actually what any competent officer in the Luftwaffe would have wanted, from what was useful for Goering's self promotion or Nazi political ideals.

I'm seriously hard pressed to figure many things that the NSDAP showed any competence in. Once you look deep enough into the things that did work, you find that they were either not the merit of the Nazi leaders, or sometimes done AGAINST the wishes of the Nazi leaders. (See, the first assault rifle.)
And the logistical implications from manufacture to the front line were insane. Why have so many designs with mutually-incompatible parts? Or the idea of the Maus or Ratte tanks.

What could possibly go wrong with a 1000-tonne vehicle in a situation with complete Allied air supremacy? By 1942, there was plenty of evidence that even battleships with far more anti aircraft guns and manouverability were vulnerable to bombers.

Lots of projects that were obviously stupid, or too many that didn't seem to realise that ease of production and maintenance were vital to effective use.
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Old 13th April 2018, 02:11 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Market Garden failed, period.
Indeed.

Hubert's comment reminds me of Browning's words at the end of the movie: "According to himself, technically, Market Garden was 90% successful." But with Market Garden, 90% doesn't count. Without the Arnhem bridge, the object of the whole operation failed. The Rhine had not been crossed, there was no open road into Germany, and meanwhile, the approaches to Antwerp had not been cleared while all supplies still had to come from Cherbourg and the Normandy beaches.
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