Talk:Operation Barbarossa

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Germany plans the invasion[edit]

This section is getting pretty cluttered with material about the "strategic" case for war with the USSR, not a discussion of "operational plans". Don't people think that the strategic level material about overall German objectives, such as material gain of resources and manpower, would be better placed in the Eastern Front article? The operation Barbarossa article should be more about the conduct of operations, and this segment about the planning for the operation. These things are linked, but the focus should be there, no?

Also this is interesting but is fairly awkward and can be condensed:

In a 1978 essay "Das Russlandbild der führenden deutschen Militärs" ("The Picture of Russia held by the Leadership of the German Military"), the German historian Andreas Hillgruber examined the views about the Soviet Union held by the German military elite in the period June 1940 to June 1941. According to Hillgruber, the following were the case:[1]

  • The Wehrmacht was ill-informed about the Soviet Union, especially the military and the economy.
  • Because of the paucity of information, Wehrmacht thinking about the Soviet Union was based upon traditional German stereotypes of Russia as a primitive, backward "Asiatic" country, a "colossus with feet of clay" that lacked the strength to stand up to a superior opponent.
  • The leadership of the Wehrmacht viewed war with the Soviet Union from an extremely narrow military viewpoint with little consideration given to politics, the economy, or culture. The industrial capacity of the Soviet Union was not considered at all as a factor that might influence the outcome of a German-Soviet war.
  • The average soldier in the Red Army was considered brave and tough, but the Red Army officer corps were held in contempt.
  • The Wehrmacht leadership after the victory over France was in a state of hubris with the Wehrmacht being seen as more or less invincible.
  • As such, it was assumed that the Soviet Union was destined to be defeated, and that it would take Germany between six to eight weeks to destroy the Soviet Union.

Hillgruber argued that these assumptions about the Soviet Union shared by the entire military elite allowed Hitler to push through a "war of annihilation" against the Soviet Union with the assistance of "several military leaders", even though it was quite clear to the military that such a war would violate all accepted norms of warfare and would be waged in the most inhumane fashion possible.

I am going to replace that with this:

In 1978 Andreas Hillgruber made the case that the invasion plans drawn up by the German military elite were coloured by hubris stemming from the rapid defeat of France at the hands of the "invincible" Wehrmacht and by ignorance tempered by traditional German stereotypes of Russia as a primitive, backward "Asiatic" country -- a colossus with feet of clay. Red Army soldiers were considered brave and tough, but the officer corps was held in contempt. The leadership of the Wehrmacht paid little attention to politics, the economy or culture and the considerable industrial capacity of the Soviet Union was ignored as a factor, in favour of a very narrow military view. As a result the Wehrmacht was ill-informed about the Soviet military and economic capacity. It was assumed that the Soviet Union was destined to be defeated, and that it would take Germany between six to eight weeks to destroy the Soviet Union.

Hillgruber argued that because these assumptions were shared by the entire military elite, Hitler was able to push through a "war of annihilation" that would be waged in the most inhumane fashion possible with the complicity of "several military leaders", even though it was quite clear that this would be a violation of all accepted norms of warfare.[1]

Livedawg (talk) 15:07, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Three Soviet Directives from 22 June 1941:[edit]

I tried to put this into the article, however my edition was deleted:

Clausewitzian theory?[edit]

Back in April, this edit added info about Hitler and his "more modern" thinking vs. his generals thinking like Clausewitz. It all looks fine, but I've never heard of this before, and it's unsourced. Can we please find some sources for this? Otherwise, I'm afraid we have to remove it. --A D Monroe III (talk) 21:57, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, the difference in thought between Hitler and the OKH is well-attested and easily sourced. However, the usual conclusion is that the OKH had it right and that Hitler squandered the best chance of a German victory, attacking Moscow in August, by redirecting the attack to the Ukraine. So that alone would justify a removal of the text, apart form the rather flippant style :o).--MWAK (talk) 08:02, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I've read other opinions on that too. Either way, we need a citation. I'll see if I can find anything in the books I have, I seem to remember reading something like that. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:04, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
The conflict between Hitler and his generals is accepted. The two added points here are (A) Hitler was right, and (B) the conflict was Clausewitzian vs. "modern" thinking. I'd say both of those points need refs, or face deletion as WP:OR. Even if we find refs, we'd still have to reword this to balance with conflicting opinions that are accepted and sourced. --A D Monroe III (talk) 15:16, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Opinion is divided over whether he was right, so we certainly shouldn't be saying he was. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:58, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Elsewhere in the article Glantz is said to support Hitler's view being more modern and correct. I have his book on Barbarossa, and will try to find a citation. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:11, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I've checked the e-books by Glantz that I own, but couldn't find a reference. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:13, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

"According to Clausewitz, wars were won by concentrating your armies at the enemy's focal point, their tactical Schwerpunkt. At the tactical level, this meant that your armies would win a battle by concentrating effort at unexpected locations, then having them converge upon the enemies focal point, leading to a Kesselschlacht, a cauldron battle."

The Schwerpunkt ("focal point" or "weight of effort") to Clausewitz is the strategic object that can be won in order to assure victory in war, and this could be military, political or geographic. This is very different from the concept of Schwerpunkt as it is used in German "Blitzkrieg" doctrine, which is more directly descended from Alfred von Schlieffen, not Clausewitz These are not the same just because they use the same very common German expression to describe them.

Von Schlieffen: Operations and tactics. Clauswitz: Politics and strategy.

Just because Guderian might talk about the "focal point" of an attack or where to place the "weight of effort", does not mean that it is the same as Clausewitz talking about the "focal point" of an enemies base of political and military power.[2]

Quote from Joint Operational Warfare: Theory and Practice: "... his focus was obviously on the strategic, not operational or tactical, level of war,"[3]

  1. ^ a b Wette, Wolfram, The Wehrmacht, Harvard University Press, 2006, p. 21–22.
  2. ^ http://books.google.ca/books?id=zUP23aBHLOwC&pg=PA37&dq=the+German+concept+of+schwerpunkt&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IuwbVNj7GMmbyASutILQDA&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=the%20German%20concept%20of%20schwerpunkt&f=false
  3. ^ http://books.google.ca/books?id=zUP23aBHLOwC&pg=PA29&dq=Clausewitz+Schwerpunkt&hl=en&sa=X&ei=D9MbVI-8D4-2yASIvoLICg&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Clausewitz%20Schwerpunkt&f=false {{subst:Unsigned|1=Livedawg|2=08:47, 19 September 2014 (UTC)}}
    Good point. Beyond that by the XX century it was totally inconceivable winning a war by a stroke at the schwerpunkt in a classic way. ~~~~ {{subst:Unsigned|1=Cryfe|2=18:09, 19 September 2014 (UTC)}}
    I think what I am maybe saying is that the reference to Clausewitz ought to be taken out entirely, since it in the context of an article that is basically meant to be an operational level account of the first 5 months of the German invasion of the USSR, and this entry is talking about operations and tactics.
    A wider discussion about the "strategic" objectives of the campaign, as conceived by Hitler and his generals, in order to achieve victory (Destruction of the Red Army, or crippling the economy, or capture the seat of power, Moscow) might be a point where one could bring in Clausewitz, not tactics. Clausewitz would probably simply say that given that "war is politics by other means", and Hitler's objective was total defeat of the enemy, because he believed, as did his mentor Luddendorf, that history was an eternal struggle between nations for dominance that Hitler's "object", total defeat of the enemy, was defined by his political view. And is this not true? Did not the Russians several times indicate a desire for an early peace, and an end to the war in exchange for territory?
    I am not sure that "Total War" was an absolute necessity, except in that this was Hitler's view. ~~~~ {{subst:UnsignedIP|1=69.196.147.222|2=02:46, 21 September 2014 (UTC)}}

    Operational victory?[edit]

    I just took a look at the p.24 of the Glantz paper and it says absolutely nothing about the tactical, operational or strategic outcome of the Barbarossa. Nether the rest of the article says anything about this being an operational victory for the Germans. So I suggest changing it into an operational indecisive or other similar term. ~~~~ {{subst:Unsigned|1=Cryfe|2=20:09, 3 October 2014 (UTC)}}

    makes sense to me. Hitler himself said not winning the war by winter was going to be a problem. A victory is determined by the standard you set. The standard for this operation was the defeat of the Soviet Union by winter. The Russians won by not losing. That doesn't detract from the fact that it as a) a total military disaster for the Red Army, and b) an incredible military feat for the Wehrmacht ~~~~
    As for Glanz, my reading of his material on Smolensk basically seemed to indicate that he supported the Soviet view, which is that this is where they lost the war, or as one German general put it: "Winning ourselves to death", or something along those lines. ~~~~

    What Clausewitz really said about Russia[edit]

    "it was a country which could be subdued only by its own weakness and by the effects of internal dissension. In order to strike these vulnerable spots of its body politic, Kussia would have to be agitated at the very center."

    That might be a good place to start for any discussion of grand strategy, Russia and Clausewitz. In a study released in 1955 by the US Army on German planning and operations for Barbarossa the authors said in their forward that "in reading this study, the military student will realize how dearly the Germans had to pay for ignoring Clausewitz's advice." ~~~~