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WWII Games and the Perpetuation of Nazi Myths Part II: Superiority Complex

Medal od Honor: Frontline (image courtesy of Medal of Honor Wiki)

Another extremely common belief perpetuated by WWII video games is the idea that the Nazis were an immensely competent and tech savvy force unlike any the world had ever seen and, some argue, won’t ever see again.

It’s often believed that Nazi science and technology were so grand and amazing that the Allied powers were like cavemen compared to them, struggling to even keep up, or that the allies could only win through acts of skulking subterfuge and sabotage.

The reality is quite different.

Ubermensch!

We’ve all seen this in WWII video games: this consistent portrayal of Nazis as some sort of utterly unassailable force of ultimate power that was just barely vanquished.

While sabotage was a very important part of WWII, the way video games portray this gives the impression that the Allies COULDN’T win WWII by conventional means because the Germans were just too advanced. Medal of Honor was a series of games that thrived on this premise during its WWII phase. Medal of Honor: Frontline has you running around Europe in search of a top-secret Nazi jet fighter…. Medal of Honor: European Assault has you running around Europe, destroying V2 rockets, Tiger tank prototypes, and ultimately a ‘dirty bomb’… and so on. More often than not, it would put you in the shoes of a lone covert agent, sabotaging Nazi ‘wonder weapons’ that the Allies weren’t capable of making on their own. It portrayed the Allies as only being able to defeat Nazi Germany on unequal ground, through subterfuge and sabotage rather than simply outmatching the Nazis at their own game.

The Horten 229 from Medal of Honor: Frontline (Image courtesy of Medal of Honor Wiki)

The sentiment that Nazis were almost unbeatable and miles above the Allies when it came to technology can be found repeated in current popular WWII games, such as Red Orchestra and World of Tanks. Often you see players drone on and on about how overpowered German teams are merely reflecting a historical reality.

Buying into this myth to any degree is literally taking the idea of the Aryan Ubermensch at face value and accepting that the Nazis HAD a legitimate reason to believe they were the Aryan Ubermensch. Why, just look at all the conquering they did! Look at their tanks! Their rockets!

…. Or not.

Nazis were never as advanced as many people seem to think they were.

Most of the enemies they went up against in the first few years of the war were disorganized, poorly equipped and far from being industrial or economic giants. The Nazis couldn’t support long term warfare in any capacity, industrially or economically. This became most evident when Operation Barbarossa stalled and failed after five months of grueling warfare in the Soviet Union.

Their victories in the years of ’39-’41 were all quick and decisive affairs against far weaker opponents like Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands. They carefully picked enemies they knew they could defeat. It’s a smart strategy but, think of it this way: it’s more akin to a school yard bully picking on a visibly weakest child in the class, and then later getting their ass handed to them by that kid’s much larger, older, brothers.

Industrially, the Germans were nowhere near on the level of either the US, the USSR or the UK. As an example, let’s look at tank production: the most produced German armored fighting vehicle of the war, the StugIII, clocked in at around 10,090 units. Their most produced medium tank, the Panzer IV, came in at 8,500.

The most produced Soviet tank, the T-34 (both models), came in at a staggering 80,000+, and this is from the people the Nazis considered to be literally subhuman.

So advanced.

The Nazis constantly struggled with mechanization. For much of the war, most of their transport was horse drawn, and as the industry completely died, horses outnumbered vehicular transport by a wide margin. There were 625,000 horses saddled up and ready for operation Barbarossa alone (pg. 131-132) Far from the image of hundreds of tanks and APCs riding gloriously across the Russian and Ukranian steppes. By the end of the war, the Germans were struggling to equip their army with trucks… and then decided to waste valuable materials on expensive and resource intensive weapons projects that yielded poor results.

It doesn’t just stop at logistical issues, either. In nearly every WWII game, Nazi tanks are portrayed as the most feared and unassailable presence on the battlefield. The Tiger I tank is typically portrayed as a technological wonder tank. It’s portrayed as an unbeatable, hulking, monstrosity, and the go-to example of Nazi technological brilliance.

In video games like Medal of Honor: Airborne, it’s first shown to us from low angle shots meant to make us feel tiny and intimidated in front of it’s massive, all-consuming presence, as the very ground quakes beneath it.

BEHOLD THE MIGHTY TI-Actually never mind.

In reality, it was unreliable, extremely expensive, difficult to maintain, repair, and manufacture, and it’s operational record is less than stellar. Even it’s apparent advantages were temporary and not a guarantee of any resounding success. The Sherman and the T-34 were adequate enough in many cases to defeat it. The Tiger I reached a measly production number of 1,350, and most of them were completely destroyed during the war. Most Allied tank crews never came face to face with it in actual combat situations.

And despite having us believe that it was undefeatable it was uh… defeated. Often by it’s own logistics train. Many broke down en-route to combat. It needed to be transported by railways even on short distances that the Sherman or the T-34 could simply drive over. And even then, it needed to be placed onto the train by a crane. They couldn’t even go over bridges. The quality of tank armor was so poor that enemy tanks didn’t even need to go through the armor to kill the crew. Spalling from high explosive shells detonating close to it did the job enough.

Much the same can be said for the Panther tank, another go-to example. Although the Panther had the added disadvantage of constantly catching on fire.

The allegedly superior German heavy tanks were, at Lisow and beyond, utterly annihilated by Soviet tanks. They were also annihilated by Shermans at Arracourt. This contrasts greatly with how the Tiger is portrayed in, for example, Call of Duty, where US tanks are literally powerless against it, even at point blank range.

Undefeatable.

But war doesn’t work like a video game.

Another video game favorite is the Nazi rocket planes. The V1 and V2 rocket projects are also often portrayed as wonders of invention. A level in Medal of Honor: European Assault has you lead an entire military operation to destroy a prototype V2. The reality is far less impressive.

As with other Nazi projects it was born out of desperation, and it shows in the results. Their targeting systems were so bad they missed entire cities. The entire V1/V2 project cost three times more than the entire Manhattan project, with two to three times less effective results. The project killed more slaves working on it than it did while in use against cities in the UK.

Super heavy guns such as the Dora and the Schwerer Gustav look really impressive in video games, but are significantly less impressive in real life. They were gigantic, hulking, guns that required a crew of 2750 engineers and workmen to operate; it took half an hour just to reload, let alone fire. They were massive wastes of resources and their effect was minimal. The Allies accomplished much more with the artillery they already had than with these supposed ‘superweapons.’

The Nazis weren’t even pioneers in many of the things commonly attributed to them. Rocketry was a field that was quite extensively researched before the war, and they weren’t even the only ones to test jet aircraft. The difference was that the Allies understood it was a senseless waste to focus on high-tech weaponry that they (at the time, obviously we found use for these things later) couldn’t afford or support. Their decisions were calculated and economical.

The Allies focused on things they can reliably manufacture, repair and maintain in large numbers. The Soviets especially were masterful at this. They carefully considered their capabilities, their situation and came away with a logical plan that eventually led them to victory, while the Germans lagged behind significantly. And Soviet victory came quick, less than a year after launching their counter-offensive Bagration!

A summary.

By looking at tank production in particular we get to see how each power approached their own industries. The Nazis focused extensively on practices that reduced their  overall industrial output at greater resource, manpower, man-hour, and monetary cost, which they could not support in the long run.

By contrast, the T-34 was intentionally made not to last, but that meant they could compensate for it’s short lifespan with extreme ease of production and repair. The Allies focused on sustainable, quick, and significant output they could afford, easily maintain, repair and would last them into the long term.

One of these clearly worked far better since the Allies won.

The Germans DID have a nuclear program developing but it was a far cry from US efforts. Most of the scientists fled to the US and the Germans were never as enthusiastic towards the development of a nuke as the Americans or Soviets were. Education of scientists and engineers also suffered due to the absence of Jewish scientists, destruction of their work, and the influence of the nationalistic movement of ‘Deustchephysik’, which branded all work by Jewish scientists as inherently inferior and untrustworthy.  The project was set back when 11 Norwegian commandos destroyed the German supply of heavy water, used in the production of nuclear weapons, without firing a single shot.

Then, for good measure, the British destroyed a ferry carrying the heavy water that the Germans did manage to save.

And so…

In conclusion, the idea that the Nazis were superior on such a technological that the Allies just barely won WWII, as portrayed in video games, is not based in historical reality. They lost because they simply couldn’t compete against the overwhelming amount of resistance thrown their way, or the combined industrial strengths of the most industrious countries on Earth. The Wehrmacht was certainly competent, able and accomplished at times, but they weren’t somehow spectacular, undefeatable or any more ‘advanced’ than their enemies, no matter how much World of Tanks forums may tell you otherwise.

(There’s even a term for these kinds of folk: Wehraboos. With a name that combines ‘Wehrmacht’ with ‘weeaboo’, these fans of run the gamut between being innocently misinformed and simply being open Nazis. Many examples of these (on various forums, including gaming) are chronicled in the subreddit, ShitWehraboosSay.)

Their own inability to adapt, their dwindling resources, crumpling industry, manpower shortages as soldiers were thrown into costly offensives and the pure irrationality of their entire system spelled their doom.

The Nazis were many things, ‘advanced’ they were not.

For anyone interested, there are a number of good panels by esteemed historians debunking these myths, such as this one by Gerhard Weinberg.

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  • Fyodor

    You’re absolutely correct that Nazi Germany’s Wunderwaffen are grossly over-rated, to the point of mythologising, in popular media. However, this does not negate the fact that Germany was technologically advanced and extraordinarily successful on the battlefield. These two things are often incorrectly conflated, as you point out, but there is no denying that Nazi Germany was, for its time, a heavily industrialised and technologically advanced economy – the largest economy in Western Europe in 1939. It did produce advanced weapons. That these were nevertheless defeated by the overmatching production capacity of the industrial powerhouses of the USA and USSR doesn’t change that fact.

    However, the Nazis’ Wunderwaffen are a strawman in your argument, as they weren’t the basis for Germany’s tactical and operational successes in multiple theatres. Obviously, Germany WAS beatable, as it was defeated, but WWII was hard-fought against Germany on all fronts. The Wehrmacht WAS “immensely competent”. A tremendous amount of post-WWII history is focused precisely this question – i.e. why did Nazi Germany achieve so much early success on the attack and prove so resilient in defense? I found this paragraph of yours remarkable for its cherry-picking and obfuscation:

    >“Most of the enemies they went up against in the first few years of the war were disorganized, poorly equipped and far from being industrial or economic giants. The Nazis couldn’t support long term warfare in any capacity, industrially or economically. This became most evident when Operation Barbarossa stalled and failed after five months of grueling warfare in the Soviet Union.

    >Their victories in the years of ’39-’41 were all quick and decisive affairs against far weaker opponents like Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands. They carefully picked enemies they knew they could defeat. It’s a smart strategy but, think of it this way: it’s more akin to a school yard bully picking on a visibly weakest child in the class, and then later getting their ass handed to them by that kid’s much larger, older, brothers.”

    This is a grossly inaccurate understatement of Nazi Germany’s military successes.

    First off, the countries you do mention weren’t “picked” because the Nazi bully “knew they could defeat” them. They were chosen deliberately, strategically, to:

    a) secure the supply of iron ore from Sweden and to deny the Franco-British alliance access to Scandinavia (i.e. via Denmark & Norway – Sweden remained neutral);
    b) facilitate the defeat of France, Germany’s principal adversary on land in 1939-1940 (i.e. via the Netherlands & Belgium); and
    c) shore up the Balkan front after (post-coup) Yugoslavia refused (unlike its neighbours Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) to join the Axis powers in the Tripartite Pact and to assist Italy’s own fascist imperialism in the Balkans (Italy had previously invaded Albania and Greece).

    Second, what’s particularly striking in the paragraph is the countries you omit: France and Britain. Both were decisively defeated on land in 1940, knocking France out of the war and dealing a major strategic setback to Britain and its allies. This was not a “school yard bully” picking on the “weakest child in the class”. Britain and France together overmatched Germany quantitatively, in most dimensions. Germany’s decisive victory in the Battle of France was justifiably stunning, and popularised the term Blitzkrieg in the West – a war decided with the speed and intensity of lightning.

    Third, Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve its key objective, i.e. crippling the Soviet Union by securing the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, but was extraordinarily successful in the losses inflicted upon the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany inflicted massive, disproportionate, losses upon the USSR in the five months that you dismiss so easily. In the long-run, Hitler’s decision to invade the USSR was a catastrophic strategic mistake, but tactically and operationally the German army performed exceptionally well in the invasion and later, post-Stalingrad, on the defensive against the Soviet counter-attack.

    That brings me to my fourth point, which is that you ignore altogether the real source of the post-war mythologising of Nazi military success: generally superior battlefield performance, particularly in the early years of the war until its opponents learned from their many failures and brought greater economic and military resources to bear. Your fixation upon weaponry and technology in this post is understandable given the tendency of (mostly Western) computer games to explain German military superiority away as the result of superior gear, but you need to explain WHY German military performance WAS respected, if not feared, by allied forces.

    The US army, despite its massive advantage in materiel, learned to their cost time and again – as the British and Soviets had – in North Africa, Italy and the Western Front that the German army performed exceptionally well on the attack and defense, often against superior odds as allied forces regularly had massive advantages in air cover and artillery fire later in the war. German military success in the offense and defense was attributable to superior training and doctrine, an early mastery of combined arms tactics and manoeuvre warfare, as well as generally superior small-unit and general leadership. There’s nothing mythical about those attributes.

    • Barbara Kateřina

      Your argument with USSR honestly is problematic, since, as Anna says, Stalin’s catastrophic reaction at the beginning of Barbarossa (not just refusing to believe the war was happening, but even more importantly, the famous “not a step back” order and similar failures) influences the losses at the beginign of the campaign a lot, so it’s hard to say how much was actually due to German army’s superior battlefield competence.

      However, yes, particularly the omission of France from that list of “small, weaker countries” is glaring. Mind you, it’s complicated too – there, again, the choice to go around Maginot line played a huge part, more than battlefield superiority of the army – but still, as it’s written, it reads as cherry-picking and therefore manipulative…

      • Fyodor

        It’s difficult to quantify the impact of Stalin’s poor leadership on the Soviets’ weak performance during Operation Barbarossa, but I agree it was a material negative. That said, in the initial stages of the invasion German forces dominated nearly every aspect of military operations from the small unit tactical level to grand operational, theatre, level, as well as achieving air superiority within a week. That kind of broad spectrum dominance was not Stalin’s fault – the Soviets were outclassed from the beginning by the Wehrmacht’s superior training, cohesion and experience. The vast bulk of Soviet forces in the USSR’s Western military districts were simply annihilated by the German army.

        I think Stalin’s negative influence was felt most keenly in the poor preparedness of Soviet forces, notably the culling of able generals in the years preceding the German invasion. The Soviets had been early pioneers in combined arms/manoeuvre warfare, with a very large tank arm, so had the capacity to perform much better than they did. Zhukov’s victories over the Japanese at Khalkhin Gol in 1939 demonstrated that the Soviets could fight well in manoeuvre warfare when well-led and co-ordinated, but little of that brilliance was evident in the Soviet defense during Operation Barbarossa.

        As regards France, the decision to “go around Maginot line” was not the decisive factor. The British Expeditionary Force was planted along the Franco-Belgian border and then advanced into Belgium specifically because the Allies expected a recurrence of the Schlieffen plan from WWI, i.e. a German swing through the low countries into Northern France, North of the Maginot Line (situated along the Franco-German border). What proved decisive to German victory was the von Manstein/Guderian alternative plan (Fall Gelb), to punch an armoured spearhead through the Ardennes forest, to Sedan and then to the Channel Coast, thereby dividing allied forces. It was the combination of brilliant strategy, leadership (particularly from Guderian and Rommel) and German mastery of manoeuvre warfare that made the campaign so stunningly successful. There have been very few campaigns in military history that demonstrated such “immense competence.”

        • Barbara Kateřina

          Yeah, the executed generals were quite a big factor, too, absolutely.
          I do agree that Germany showed greater battlefield capabilities at the beginning of Barbarossa, certainly. I merely meant that using the disparity in loss of life from the beginning of the operation to show it is misleading, in my opinion, because there were many other factors at play, so it makes the battlefield capability seem more disparate than it actually was.

          Yes, Ardennes forest, that’s more specifically what I meant. I was too lazy to google the proper English name. And once again, I absolutely don’t mean to say they didn’t display battlefield capability there, and besides, obviously this decision to go through the forest requires strategic brilliance it itself. I was just trying to say it was more complicated than simply “two equal forces clash, and because the Germans are so much more skilled on the battlefield, they win quickly.”

          • Anna

            > there were many other factors at play, so it makes the battlefield capability seem more disparate than it actually was.

            This is usually what people hope to accomplish when pointing out the heavy Soviet casualties.

            ‘They lost so many soldiers, they MUST’VE been completely and utterly incompetent!’

            Which like, yeah, maybe at the start, definatley. The Soviets struggled from a variety of reasons, but to then apply this to the whole of the Eastern Front intentionally robs the Soviets of any agency and whisks aways their tactical and strategic brilliances later on, after Barbarossa.

    • Anna

      Fyodor and Mims (whom i have blocked) maintain my arguments about wunderwaffens were ‘strawmen’… ignoring that the entirety of my article is specifically devoted to the topic of ‘wunderwaffens’. That is quite literally the ENTIRE point of the entire article.

      And as an aside, this here

      > Third, Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve its key objective, i.e. crippling the Soviet Union by securing the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, but was extraordinarily successful in the losses inflicted upon the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany inflicted massive, disproportionate, losses upon the USSR in the five months that you dismiss so easily.

      Stalin flat out refused to believe that war was happening as it was occuring in front of his eyes, and Soviet intel failed to in time predict when the offensive was going to occur. Moreover, the Soviets, after the front stabilised after five months of warfare. did not ever lose nearly as much and post-Barbarossa casualties were more or less on the level with German casualties.

      What the comment ALSO neglects to mention was that German casualties in Barbarossa were also proportionally staggering to the Germans, from which they never fully recovered.

      The following is a breakdown on the widely accepted casualty numbers (Overmans) during the whole of the Eastern Front in WWII:

      ” Axis: 9,118,000
      Soviet: 12,200,000

      So a 1 : 1.38 loss rate. In the Germans’ favor, but HARDLY 10-1 losses or anything close to them.

      The Soviets had over 3,600,000 men killed or captured during the first six months (Operation Barbarossa), while the Germans had a mere 235,000 irrecoverable losses (186,452 killed, 40,157 missing, 11,000 captured) in the same period albeit with a proportionally high “wounded/crippled” figure. Which means, from 1942 to 1945, irrecoverable losses were:

      Axis: 8,830,000
      Soviet: 8,600,000
      Not so one-sided anymore, huh?”

      And for all the points about how Germany had superior battlefield performance, i reffer you to the Soviet flag flying over the ruins of Berlin. This is not to say, as i mentioned in the article, that the Germans were something to scoff at.

      They had grand moments of triumph and indeed gave the Allies in some regards, a good fight. But they still lost. And they lost so baddly they were forced into unconditional surrender, something that is in actuality rare in warfare.

      There’s a further tendency to downplay Allied achievements, but what you’re essentially saying here is that despite the Germans apparent ‘general superior battlefield performance’, they still LOST. So what does that say about the Germans and what does it say about the Allies?

      It doesn’t mean the Germans were incompetent, they weren’t, but like any army in the field they had issues that in this case, contributed to their ultimate loss. War works in strange ways and a small mistake in any regard can leave you open to being soundly beaten, as the Germans were on nearly every front.

      This whole argument relies on the assertion that the Nazis are simultaneously competent enough to get to their position and be considered superior but not enough to actually defeat the Allies. How does that work?

      The basis of German superiority was their operational capability in isolation
      that is to say, the German war machine’s largest asset was the ability for rapid and effective communication.

      Logistically they failed, but in terms of unit cohesion and cross-unit cooperation the Wehrmacht were ridiculously good, especially in comparison to France.

      That said, the Germans also relied on early capitulation in order to win over an enemy. The problem mind you was that the KDR argument isn’t that useful in defending the Wehrmacht.

      Incidentally the reality was, by 1942 at the peak of the Wehrmacht the macht itself faced some rather interesting issues.
      For one, supply lines were horrifically over extended.

      But another, there was the beginnings of a shortage of effective service members. Though there were volunteers, the training in 1939 and the army of 1939-1940 were far different in quality than 1942-1944.

    • Fyodor

      Anna, for some reason your reply to me has disappeared. I have a copy, however, so I’ll reply to your comments here.

      > “Fyodor and Mims (whom I have blocked) maintain my arguments about wunderwaffens were ‘strawmen’…ignoring that the entirety of my article is specifically devoted to the topic of ‘wunderwaffens’. That is quite literally the ENTIRE point of the entire article.”

      Nope. As has been repeated to you several times now, the point of the “entire article” is not Nazi Germany’s Wunderwaffen [N.B. “Wunderwaffen” is already plural; your “s” is redundant], but the myth of Nazi superiority, i.e. “the idea that the Nazis were an immensely competent and tech savvy force”, as you put it. If you frame the article as a rebuttal of the myth of Nazi military superiority you need to address THAT POINT, not just the straw man of your choice.

      > “Stalin flat out refused to believe that war was happening as it was occurring in front of his eyes, and Soviet intel failed to in time predict when the offensive was going to occur. Moreover, the Soviets, after the front stabilised after five months of warfare did not ever lose nearly as much as post-Barbarossa casualties were more or less on the level with German casualties. What the comment ALSO neglects to mention was that German casualties were also proportionally staggering to the Germans, from which they never fully recovered. The following is a breakdown on the widely accepted casualty numbers (Overmans) during the whole of the Eastern Front in WWII:

      Axis: 9,118,000
      Soviet: 12,200,000

      So a 1 : 1.38 loss rate. In the Germans’ favor, but HARDLY 10-1 losses or anything close to them. The Soviets had over 3,600,000 men killed or captured during the first six months (Operation Barbarossa), while the Germans had a mere 235,000 irrecoverable losses (186,452 killed, 40,157 missing, 11,000 captured) in the same period albeit with a proportionally high “wounded/crippled” figure. Which means, from 1942-1945, irrecoverable losses were:

      Axis: 8,830,000
      Soviet: 8,600,000

      Not so one-sided anymore, huh?”

      Your numbers prove my point, i.e. that, “Germany inflicted massive, disproportionate losses upon the USSR in the five months that you dismiss so easily.” We were discussing Operation Barbarossa, not the outcome of the entire war. You evidently agree with me given the numbers you provide: Germany inflicted greater than a 10-1 loss rate upon the Soviets during Operation Barbarossa. I find that metric meaningless without context, but as it’s the one you’ve chosen to prove your case we can conclude on your own evidence that I’m right and you’re wrong.

      >”And for all the points about how Germany had superior battlefield performance, i reffer you to the Soviet flag flying over the ruins of Berlin. This is not to say, as I mentioned in the article, that the Germans were something to scoff at. They had grand moments of triumph and indeed gave the Allies in some regards, a good fight. But they still lost. And they lost so baddly they were forced into unconditional surrender, something that is in actuality rare in warfare. There’s a further tendency to downplay Allied achievements, but what you’re essentially saying here is that despite the Germans apparent ‘general superior battlefield performance’, they still LOST. So what does that say about the Germans and what does it say about the Allies? It doesn’t mean the Germans were incompetent, they weren’t, but like any other army in the field they had issues that in this case, contributed, to their ultimate loss. War works in strange ways and a small mistake in any regard can leave you open to being soundly beaten, as the Germans were on nearly every front. This whole argument relies on the assertion that the Nazis are simultaneously competent enough to get to their position and be considered superior but not enough to actually defeat the Allies. How does that work?”

      Hang on. Hold the fucking phone. Are you telling me that Nazi Germany lost WWII?

      You are confusing the tactical and operational with the strategic. It’s often the case that one side wins many battles and campaigns while still losing the war. Consider Hannibal and Napoleon, both losers by your flawed reckoning of “competence”.

      As I’ve already pointed out, Nazi Germany was totally overmatched in its war-making capacity. It wasn’t so obvious at the time, but Germany’s invasion of the USSR locked Hitler into a disastrous strategic position, sealed by the entry of the world’s soon-to-be-hyperpower, the USA, into the war. None of this negates the evidence that Nazi Germany was outstandingly successful in the early stages of the war, demonstrating the “immense competence” at warfare that you consider mythical. That it was eventually overcome – at massive cost, let’s remind ourselves, as the Wehrmacht was exceptionally resilient in defence, against superior odds – doesn’t change the facts of Nazi Germany’s military successes.

      As for being “forced into unconditional surrender”, no other terms were offered to Hitler, justifiably, by the Allies. There were several attempts within the Wehrmacht to assassinate Hitler and thereby stage a coup, which might have enabled a negotiated peace, but all of these were quashed.

      >” The basis of German superiority was their operational capability in isolation that is to say, the German war machine’s largest asset was the ability for rapid and effective communication.”

      Gibberish.

      >” Logistically they failed, but in terms of unit cohesion and cross-unit cooperation the Wehrmacht were ridiculously good, especially in comparison to France.”

      Warmer. German unit cohesion and cross-unit cooperation within the Heer (i.e. the army) was exceptional, in comparison with every army they fought. Cooperation with the Luftwaffe was also excellent. Logistical failures were largely dictated by Germany’s limited resource base and compromised strategic position, as well as the inefficient war footing of the economy and military production that you mentioned in the post.

      >” That said, the Germans also relied upon early capitulation in order to win over an enemy.”

      Yes, the enemy surrendering is often a good way to achieve victory. WTF?

      >” The problem mind you was that the KDR argument isn’t that useful in defending the Wehrmacht.”

      KDR argument? Seriously? I’m not trying to be offensive here, but I had my doubts about your grasp of the history when you cited reddit as a reference in your post. Let me reinforce the point that Mims Dahn made about your painfully evident “gamer” approach to history: it does you no favours.

      >” Incidentally the reality was, by 1942 at the peak of the Wehrmacht the macht itself faced some rather interesting issues. For one, supply lines were horrifically over-extended. But another, there was the beginnings of a shortage of effective service members. Though there were volunteers, the training in 1939 and the army of 1939-1940 were far different in quality than 1942-1944.”

      The “macht”? Please stop butchering German. Feel free to bash Nazi Germany as much as you like, but the language really doesn’t deserve this abuse.

      On the points you’re making there, as noted above, the relative logistical failures of the Wehrmacht were always going to be progressively more evident as the disparity in industrial capacity between the Allies and Axis powers grew more pronounced.

      • Anna

        > Nope. As has been repeated to you several times now, the point of the “entire article” is not Nazi Germany’s Wunderwaffen [N.B. “Wunderwaffen” is already plural; your “s” is redundant], but the myth of Nazi superiority, i.e. “the idea that the Nazis were an immensely competent and tech savvy force”, as you put it.

        How about you fucking stop telling me what the point of my own article is to me?

        All of my comments are being removed as spam for some reason, hence them vanishing.

        > Yes, the enemy surrendering is often a good way to achieve victory. WTF?

        EARLY capitulation. The Germans could not stand to win on the long term, which is why the Invasion of the USSR failed so massivley.

        > Gibberish.

        Excellent rebuttal.

        > Cooperation with the Luftwaffe was also excellent.

        Depends. ‘Operation Sea Lion’ (had they had actually gone through with it) portrayed that the varying branches of the Heer were not co-ordinating as well as they could’ve and bickered amongst themselves about what the best course of action would be.

        > KDR argument? Seriously?

        Did you even read what i said? I’m advocating AGAINST using it as a measure of competence. It’s gamification of warfare and it doesn’t work. It’s something people constantly do to show ‘German superiority’ without even any proper context beyond ‘Germans were just better’.

        > I had my doubts about your grasp of the history when you cited reddit as a reference in your post.

        Reddits /r/AskHistorian boards are considered to be fairly good when it comes to good sources to be found on history, on the Internet. In any case better than some other ones. The reddit comments merely repeat statements from books on the subject.

        I haven’t seen you counter with any sources of your own, so.

        I’m done arguing with you. Sorry but this is going in circles and we’re essentially talking past each other, neither are the two of us budging.

  • Mims Dahn

    There is just so much wrong here I don’t even know where to start (and to be honest a lot of it isn’t even worth engaging with). But @FyodorBazarov:disqus is pretty much on point when they identify the source of post-war mythologizing of Nazi military success: general superior battlefield performance. Fixating on weaponry is the most fundamental flaw in your reasoning. I also would nominate using board game and computer game mechanics to explain WWII as another fundamental flaws (very evident in your line about them “picking” “weaker opponents”.

    And I don’t really see how you can defend the gross simplifications and omissions in it. How you can group Yugoslavia, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands and then omit the UK and France. They were different invasion with different strategies. Operation Weserübung was not motivated because Nazi Germany was the school yard bully and Norway and Denmark were easy targets. (And did you know that part of the reason Denmark was attacked in it was because it was on the way to Norway?)

    It was they were strategically important targets, as well as the lines of supply and commerce running out of Narvik.. Because technological advanced had opened up new possibilities for theaters of war which both sides found crucial. But please tell me how is it was because they were “just easy targets” that Churchill and the UK also had the same idea as Nazi Germany: to invade and occupy Norway. They did not go through with it, or they just went through with the first steps: laying mines in Norwegian territories (in Operation Wilfred). Because luckily Churchill didn’t get his way. Nazi Germany did not go to Norway looking for an easy target. They knew the likelihood of British/Allied intervention was high and considering Norway’s coastline and the British Navy it was not such an easy target as you try to present.

    The fact that you are not even talking about the Wehrmacht’s branches like the Kriegsmarine (considering their varied importances for the invasions and occupations) is also very telling. And invasions/occupations cannot be conflated down to battlefields. This is also fundamentally ahistorical: treating the Allies as a set size and group. (like you would perhaps do for a board and video game, wouldn’t you)Tell me what were the Allies when operation Weserübung was undertaking? Where was the US or the USSR?

    • Anna

      > general superior battlefield performance

      Funny how they lost the war then… on every single front they fought on.

      > very evident in your line about them “picking” “weaker opponents”.

      … Which they did do, because the majority of nations they fought against were significantly weaker.

      > omit the UK and France

      1. They lost against the UK so baddly that the Luftwaffe never recovered. They also lost against them monumentally in Africa and 2. France blundered into defeat due to organisational issues and Germans got lucky, they in reality expected a long, drawn out affair.

      > Operation Weserübung was not motivated because Nazi Germany was the school yard bully and Norway and Denmark were easy targets

      No comment, this is priceless.

      > Tell me what were the Allies when operation Weserübung was undertaking? Where was the US or the USSR?

      Not yet in the war.

      I’m just going to block and remove your comment ’cause this shit is astinishingly stupid.

      • Mims Dahn

        You probably should try to engange with the actual propositions and not Straw Men. The contention was that the myth of their “superiority” came from their performance on the battlefield, not that their performance was the sole cause of their defeat in WWII.

        Yes they fought against weaker opponents, I have not contended that. You are wrong and are continuing to be so because of your position is that the strategy was based on “enemies they knew they could defeat” and compared it to school yard bullying. I said it was wrong, (it is a gross reductionist oversimplification) and gave an example with operation Weserbüng which was shaped by the geopolitical importance of the war where both the winter war and Britain played a part as well.

        To your 1.: You are engaging in the straw man again. Since you have chosen the UK, the reason the ommission of them is gross is because the Battle of Britain and Operation Sea Lion is relevant both if you want to examine German invasion strategy at a general level (which you only in cherry picks seem to want) and if you want to talk about the invasions you have foccused on. They were in parts the reasons why the British and French forces withdrew from Norway. I do hope you see how the absence of Allied forces, the Norwegian goverment, the King and Nortraship played a role there.

        To your “no comment”. I take this is an admission to how ridiculous your own comparison for explanation for the operations were. Own up to it, won’t you?

        The reason why you should examine the different branches of the Wehrmact is because they played different roles in the different invasions and occupations and because of the differences in warfare. The Kriegsmarine with Erich Raeder played an instrumental role in and for Operation Weserbüng and should be examined accordingly. Also in contrast with the other branches. An example, the Kriegsmarine and Blücher’s failure to capture Oslo was what made Norwegian resistace possible because it bought the goverment and King time to send our orders to mobilize and to flee the city. That should be contrasted with the other branches performances during the operation.

        I do hope you don’t succeed in it. It would look bad on Fandomentals to not allow disagreement and threats on their boards. And I see that you have taken one down.

        • Anna

          Is yelling strawman the only thing you know how to do? My article specifically and mostly deals with Wunderwaffens. It’s not a ‘strawman’ because you want it to be, it was a thing the Nazis poured much of their resources into.

          > Operation Sea Lion

          Not only did this operation never even happen, it would’ve been a resounding failure even if it had because it rellied on the idea that the Royal Navy would’ve been put out of commision at that point. Moreover the Nazis did not have any landing craft and were actually planning on towing soldiers on rafts. A proposed plan was to make their tanks airtight, add snorkels, and drive below the channel.

          http://www.johndclare.net/wwii6_sealion.htm

          > To your “no comment”. I take this is an admission to how ridiculous your own comparison for explanation for the operations were. Own up to it, won’t you?

          No it was me not having anything to say to someone who maintains that Nazi Germany somehow WASN’T acting as a bully to other nations, when fascism is inherently a political alignment that depends upon the victory of the strong over the ‘weak’.

          As for the Kriegsmarine, Norway and Denmark was a success, yes, but in general, the Kriegsmarine was the weakest of the Axis navies. Italy had a better Navy than the Germans.

          Norway also, despite German superiority in this theatre, held on for longer than the Germans expected. Similar under or overestimates the Germans made were in France (they expected it to go on for years) and Poland wasn’t as much of a walk in the park as people imagine it was. They also suffered staggering losses in Greece, especially in Crete.

          > And I see that you have taken one down.

          I do not have the power to remove comments from threads. I can only block specific people so that i don’t see their messages.

        • Fyodor

          “An example, the Kriegsmarine and Blücher’s failure to capture Oslo was what made Norwegian resistace possible because it bought the goverment and King time to send our orders to mobilize and to flee the city.”

          I love the story of Oberst Eriksen and the Oskarsborg Fortress. Six months from retirement and Way Too Old for This Shit, but badass to the bone.

          “It would look bad on Fandomentals to not allow disagreement and threats on their boards.”

          Yep, not a good look.

          • Mims Dahn

            Yes, it is a sad way to see it go. The posting system here allows for too much manipulation and it especially sad as it is a writer engaging in it. It is super tempting but deleting and editing faux pas (which can be super tempting, *I am looking at my “and” that should be a “but” in the quote) but it does not make it unsaid or unread. It is very weird to try to put someone on blast/shamed and simultaneously silenced/erased. It is good you have copy of it because it disappeared on me to when I refreshed the page after looking foe guidelines for this sort of thing. I tried to find out if there were any guidelines for a writer blokcking it was gone. Was the idea that your replies also will be removed in the copy you have? Is the idea that our post (or just mine) will be removed and just their post straw manning us remain?

            I love Birger Eriksen. He is a very good example of the insufficiencies of these types of approaches to history. Oberst Eriksen Is the sort of human component thaf easily disappear in then. He is a bit underappreciated in Norway so I hope, despite the brief portrayal, the movie “Kongens Nei” will give him more appreciation. It is on an increase though, .

            You are doing great work in ironing out the fundamental issues with the writer’s argument. I didn’t have the energy for it if my post are to be removed. So I have much appreciation for your posts and thoroughness.

          • Anna

            Literally no one is removing your comments. MINE are being removed by Disqus’ spam filter.

    • Mims Dahn

      To Anna:

      You probably should try to engange with the actual propositions and not Straw Men. The contention was that the myth of their “superiority” came from their performance on the battlefield, not that their performance was the sole cause of their defeat in WWII.

      Yes they fought against weaker opponents, I have not contended that. You are wrong and are continuing to be so because of your position is that the strategy was based on “enemies they knew they could defeat” and compared it to school yard bullying. I said it was wrong, (it is a gross reductionist oversimplification) and gave an example with operation Weserbüng which was shaped by the geopolitical importance of the war where both the winter war and Britain played a part as well.

      To your 1.: You are engaging in the straw man again. Since you have chosen the UK, the reason the ommission of them is gross is because the Battle of Britain and Operation Sea Lion is relevant both if you want to examine German invasion strategy at a general level (which you only in cherry picks seem to want) and if you want to talk about the invasions you have foccused on. They were in parts the reasons why the British and French forces withdrew from Norway. I do hope you see how the absence of Allied forces, the Norwegian goverment, the King and Nortraship played a role there.

      To your “no comment”. I take this is an admission to how ridiculous your own comparison for explanation for the operations were. Own up to it, won’t you?

      The reason why you should examine the different branches of the Wehrmact is because they played different roles in the different invasions and occupations and because of the differences in warfare. The Kriegsmarine with Erich Raeder played an instrumental role in and for Operation Weserbüng and should be examined accordingly. Also in contrast with the other branches. An example, the Kriegsmarine and Blücher’s failure to capture Oslo was what made Norwegian resistace possible because it bought the goverment and King time to send our orders to mobilize and to flee the city. That should be contrasted with the other branches performances during the operation.

      I do hope you don’t succeed in it. It would look bad on Fandomentals to not allow disagreement and threats on their boards. And I see that you have taken one down.

  • Anna

    Fyodor and Mims (whom i have blocked) maintain my arguments about wunderwaffens were ‘strawmen’… ignoring that the entirety of my article is specifically devoted to the topic of ‘wunderwaffens’. That is quite literally the point of the entire article.

    And as an aside, this here comment by Fyodor:

    > Third, Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve its key objective, i.e. crippling the Soviet Union by securing the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, but was extraordinarily successful in the losses inflicted upon the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany inflicted massive, disproportionate, losses upon the USSR in the five months that you dismiss so easily.

    Stalin flat out refused to believe that war was happening as it was occuring in front of his eyes, and Soviet intel failed to in time predict when the offensive was going to occur. Moreover, the Soviets, after the front stabilised after five months of warfare. did not ever lose nearly as much and post-Barbarossa casualties were more or less on the level with German casualties.

    What the comment ALSO neglects to mention was that German casualties in Barbarossa were also proportionally staggering to the Germans, from which they never fully recovered.

    The following is a breakdown on the accepted casualty numbers during the whole of the Eastern Front in WWII:

    ” Axis: 9,118,000
    Soviet: 12,200,000

    So a 1 : 1.38 loss rate. In the Germans’ favor, but HARDLY 10-1 losses or anything close to them.

    The Soviets had over 3,600,000 men killed or captured during the first six months (Operation Barbarossa), while the Germans had a mere 235,000 irrecoverable losses (186,452 killed, 40,157 missing, 11,000 captured) in the same period albeit with a proportionally high “wounded/crippled” figure. Which means, from 1942 to 1945, irrecoverable losses were:

    Axis: 8,830,000
    Soviet: 8,600,000

    Not so one-sided anymore, huh?”

  • Anna

    Fyodor and Mims (whom i have blocked) maintain my arguments about wunderwaffens were ‘strawmen’… ignoring that the entirety of my article is specifically devoted to the topic of ‘wunderwaffens’. That is quite literally the ENTIRE point of the entire article.

    And as an aside, this here comment by Fyodor:

    > Third, Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve its key objective, i.e. crippling the Soviet Union by securing the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, but was extraordinarily successful in the losses inflicted upon the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany inflicted massive, disproportionate, losses upon the USSR in the five months that you dismiss so easily.

    Stalin flat out refused to believe that war was happening as it was occuring in front of his eyes, and Soviet intel failed to in time predict when the offensive was going to occur. Moreover, the Soviets, after the front stabilised after five months of warfare. did not ever lose nearly as much and post-Barbarossa casualties were more or less on the level with German casualties.

    What the comment ALSO neglects to mention was that German casualties in Barbarossa were also proportionally staggering to the Germans, from which they never fully recovered.

    The following is a breakdown on the widely accepted casualty numbers (Overmans) during the whole of the Eastern Front in WWII:

    ” Axis: 9,118,000
    Soviet: 12,200,000
    So a 1 : 1.38 loss rate. In the Germans’ favor, but HARDLY 10-1 losses or anything close to them.
    The Soviets had over 3,600,000 men killed or captured during the first six months (Operation Barbarossa), while the Germans had a mere 235,000 irrecoverable losses (186,452 killed, 40,157 missing, 11,000 captured) in the same period albeit with a proportionally high “wounded/crippled” figure. Which means, from 1942 to 1945, irrecoverable losses were:
    Axis: 8,830,000
    Soviet: 8,600,000
    Not so one-sided anymore, huh?”

    And for all the points about how Germany had superior battlefield performance, i reffer you to the Soviet flag flying over the ruins of Berlin. This is not to say, as i mentioned in the article, that the Germans were something to scoff at.

    They had grand moments of triumph and indeed gave the Allies in some regards, a good fight. But they still lost. And they lost so baddly they were forced into unconditional surrender, something that is in actuality rare in warfare.

    There’s a further tendency to downplay Allied achievements, but what you’re essentially saying here is that despite the Germans apparent ‘general superior battlefield performance’, they still LOST. So what does that say about the Germans and what does it say about the Allies?

    It doesn’t mean the Germans were incompetent, they weren’t, but like any army in the field they had issues that in this case, contributed to their ultimate loss. War works in strange ways and a small mistake in any regard can leave you open to being soundly beaten, as the Germans were on nearly every front.

    “This whole argument relies on the assertion that the Nazis are simultaneously competent enough to get to their position and be considered superior but not enough to actually defeat the Allies. How does that work?

    The basis of German superiority was their operational capability in isolation
    that is to say, the German war machine’s largest asset was the ability for rapid and effective communication.

    Logistically they failed, but in terms of unit cohesion and cross-unit cooperation the Wehrmacht were ridiculously good, especially in comparison to France.

    That said, the Germans also relied on early capitulation in order to win over an enemy. The problem mind you was that the KDR argument isn’t that useful in defending the Wehrmacht.

    Incidentally the reality was, by 1942 at the peak of the Wehrmacht the macht itself faced some rather interesting issues.

    For one, supply lines were horrifically over extended.

    But another, there was the beginnings of a shortage of effective service members. Though there were volunteers, the training in 1939 and the army of 1939-1940 were far different in quality than 1942-1944.” -An actual historian i consulted on this matter.

  • Barbara Kateřina

    I think the bits where you talk about the German technology not being all that awesome are great, but like Fyodor, I have some issues with the framing.

    Apart from the one mentioned bellow, with omitting the hugely important success of the attack on France, there’s one more crucial thing you omit when you talk about USSR: the willingness of the party leadership to go all in, and the willingness of its people to go all in as well. People – for a large part, basically willingly – worked themselves to death in the tank factories to make sure there were enough of them. Meanwhile, Germany didn’t feel like going all in total war, couldn’t be bothered to use its women in factories because a woman belongs in the kitchen with her children, and just all in all had its people much less interested in the war than the Soviets were. When they actually started to need this – need it desperately – they found it was rather impossible to motivate their own people to the same degree since, you know, they actually started the war, so the brave, self-sacrificial defence of their country doesn’t really catch on.
    So I think that making it sound like the reason German didn’t produce as many tanks as the Soviets is just, or mainly, because they were less efficient…I think it’s doing an injustice to those Soviets who worked themselves to death so that their country could be saved.

    • Anna

      My last article will specifically deal with the way Soviet Russia was framed in Western Media VS the reality.