I doubt if very many German soldiers who served in Normandy would agree with that. The Germans lost almost 40 divisions in less than 3 months. Now that is some truly frightening high speed mass destruction within a very small geographic area. You could use a lot of different words to describe the battle of Normandy, but 'safer' definitely isn't one of them.
The fact that the Northwest Europe Campaign was more brief than the Eastern War did not make the ETO a safer place to be once the invasion was underway. In the air or on the ground.
At Dieppe, the first Canadian combat units suffered 25% casualty rates within minutes. So I don't understand what the point is.
How many German soldiers died fighting the Russians versus Britain and Canada and the US? I have read that 'at least' 5 000 000 Germans died in WW2. Russia 'at least' 20 000 000. Britain ( not sure if this includes Commonwealth ) 400 000. USA 300 000. Is there any source that has a list of how many Allied soldiers were killed on D-Day?
Hardly. The Normandy Campaign ended in July with the breakout of the US Army and the destruction of the German forces in the Mortain Pocket. The majority of casualties until the armies reached the Siegfried Line occurred breaking out of the bocage area in Normandy in those first few weeks of combat after June 6, 1944.
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I don't know, but - although it was pretty tough on certain beaches - AFAIC remember in the first days only german troops of minor quality (units with a high degree of sick and reconvalescent soldiers) with a very limited effectiveness were involved in the combats. I am not sure, if (imaginary) the invasion would be successful with - incidentially - the german elite divisions of the right wing of 'Zitadelle' (1. SS-Pz. Armee with LSSAH, DR, DF, Totenkopf) as opponents of the numerical superior allied forces.
Greetings from Vienna, Austria
I disagree. The Germans lost about 2,200 (and possibly more) tanks and SP guns in Normandy. Ten Panzer Divisions and about forty divisions overall were almost completely wiped out in eleven weeks. The Germans did not lose that much in the East during Bagration unless you believe outdated research and diehard Russian propaganda. German divisions had more AFV's and were better equipped in Normandy than they ever were at Kursk, and most definitely better equipped than Army Group Centre was during June 1944.
I didn't imply that, and I wasn't the one who suggested that one combat zone was safer than the other. So there's no need to ask more rhetorical questions.
You only need to look at exaggerated victories like Kursk and Bagration. You'll find that recent historical research of German records suggests that the Germans actually had a lot less, and lost a lot less than originally thought. But I'm sure that there will always be a few pro-Soviet types who will remain forever in a state of denial about it.
There was a couple long-winded threads about Oper. Bagration a while back, but I'll rehash some of it.
Army Group Centre was in truly sad shape before 'Bagration'. Decimated in personnel and stripped of mobile defense. At one point I read that Group Centre had but 73 tanks, and less than 500 StuGs left to cover about 300 miles of front. However, after looking at German inventories I think that Group Centre probably had even fewer armoured vehicles during June 1944. It's no surprise they collapsed from being stretched so thin, not because of any tactical expertise by the Big Red Machine. Group Centre received help later from other units of course, but too late to make any difference in the outcome.
Meanwhile the front in Normandy never got much beyond 100 miles wide (until it was over) and German unit densities there were much higher. The Germans had better quality troops in general, and fielded more elite Panzer Divisions in the West because that's where they were needed the most.
BTW according to their actual TOE, Army Group North and South were not exactly in good shape either when Bagration opened. And all three Army groups were trying to cover close to 1,000 miles of frontage. They did not have the manpower to maintain tighter unit density like they did in Normandy.
No they didn't.
I'm not taking anything away from the Russians since the war could not be won by the Allies without the Red Army.
Without limiting this to 1944, the point is that the Soviets didn't have to worry about the Middle East, Italy, China-Burma-India, the South Pacific, or keeping most of the sea lanes open to supply all the Allied armies. The Western Allies handled that business with very little help from the Soviets. It was a global war, and it did not revolve around localized action in the USSR.
Let's not forget the Strategic Bombing Campaign against Germany, which tied up some 61,000 German aircraft and 2,200,000 men used as aircrew, air defence gunners and security troops. Most of those German assets could have been put to better use elsewhere, like the Russian Front for example. Still the Western Allies had to put up with Stalin's incessant whining to open up 'another front'.
In light of the Soviet training programs of aircrews and ground troops in WW2, that's probably true.
Essentially true. Most of those German divisions guarding the beaches were ragtag formations and not very effective. The beach defense units did not cause serious delays, except for the 352nd German Division on Omaha Beach of course. But even they were overrun and in retreat by the end of the first day. The 21st Pz. Div. was available but they were too slow in reaction time to stop the landings. 12th SS Pz Div. was engaged with the Canadians by the next day and Panzer Lehr, probably the most powerful Pz. Div. in in the German Army at the time, was engaging British troops by June 8.
Both SS divisions were deployed within a month but I agree that if they were guarding the beaches during the invasion, it seems likely that they would have prevented Allied troops from landing in the first place. As you probably know, that's what Rommel wanted but his superiors would not cooperate.
That's a little misleading. Allied combat troops were not numerically superior for a very long time after the landings. The Germans had over one million men in France on D-Day, and it took the Allies about a month to land one million men. And what is often forgotten is that a very large portion of those Allied soldiers were not combat troops.
The British Army, and especially the Yanks, had a massive administrative & logistical staff, support troops and other non-combatant personnel. The Germans did not have the luxury of large support staff due to shortages in manpower. They needed every man they could get to fight. So if you compare numbers of actual combat troops on both sides the Allied 'numerical advantage' has been exaggerated (a lot) by some individuals since they include non-combat troops into their comparative analysis.
Not to mention that both sides were taking casualties at about the same rate, and all of the armies on both sides had serious shortages of infantry replacements. The Allied armies did not have as many trained combat troops as some people assume they did. In some cases the Germans AND the Allies were throwing non-combatants into battle, due to a lack of suitable trained replacements. In other cases they were not getting replacements at all.
The only meaningful difference here is that the Allies had a large pool of non-combatants, and the Germans did not.
The first obvious answer is that these divisions couldn't be everywhere, and for them to be in Normandy in full strength it would mean that the Soviets would be really making large breakthroughs in the East.
The second obvious answer is that at Omaha, despite all the German apologists' complaints, the situation was more or less optimal from the German point of view: an experienced division, manning prepared positions, had a clear field of fire over an opponent whose tank support had been lost and that had to stumble among obstructions. This is more or less what the Germans could hope to achieve at best, and yet the 352nd division was in full retreat by the end of the day even though the German staff thought that particular landing had been repulsed. Therefore it follows that the Allies had made rather sure that they would land, and had brought along what it took to make that almost 100% certain. Had an SS division been stationed on the beach, it would have been crucified by Allied support fire, just as 352nd was, and it would also have run out of ammunition. By the way, the Allies would not have landed in the strongest spot of the Atlantic Wall. Now let's suppose that your SS panzer army had been deployed in Normandy, then what ? The Allied advance would have been slower, but it wouldn't have made that much of the difference: the Germans did deploy some pretty good troops, there. I'm assuming that the SS units would take the place of the units that were there historically, since the alternative would be that the Soviets would make very fast progress (in particular, they would probably have taken Warsaw and pushed on).
It was 'only' a few thousand, I'd have to look at some books to see.
Hmm, the 716th Infantry Div was a Static Div of relatively low quality, however on the western flank, the 352nd Infantry Div was a regular unit, albeit decimated during the invasion (down the regimental strength by the evening of June 6th). The 91st Luftlande Div in the Cotentin was also a decent, regular Div, but got bogged down fighting US paratroops and was unable to intervene on the beaches. 21st Pz Div in the immediate area basically messed up its counterattack, spending too long engaging 6th Para Div on the Orne, although some lements did make it to the sea on the evening of 6th June, they had to pull back. I think there was another static Div east of the Orne as well.
Well 1st SS Pz Div did put in an appearance later on, as did its sister 12th SS Pz Div (1st SS Pz Corps). 2nd SS Pz Div arrived on the US front later on, and IInd SS Panzer Corps (9th & 10th SS Pz Divs) turned up on the British front as well. There was certainly no shortage of SS troops in Normandy.
To assert that had these troops been manning the beach defences the invasion would have failed is missing the point - the Germans did not have enough troops to pack them all onto the beaches, they barely had enough to put up the defences they had and maintain any sort of reserve. It could also be argued that if the Germans _had_ put more troops up front, they would simply have been obliterated by the preliminary bombardment as well. 60 Divs into 2,000 miles of coastline is one every 30-40 miles....
What would have happened to the Allied invasion if all the beaches had been defended by German divisions as good as the 352 nd That is Gold Sword Juno Omaha and Utah. Did the 352 nd withdraw because its front was pierced or because it was outflanked from landing beach Utah?
Ms. Diann Poe
I would guess that we would have had the same general results, just a lot more blood.
The 352nd 'withdrew' because it was no longer operational having been bludgeoned pretty much to death. It was outflanked and pierced, but that was well after it ceased to be an actual force. While they exacted a heavy toll at Omaha, they were basically destroyed in the process from massed firepower. I think at the end of the day they were down to regimental strength, which essentially means they have ceased to exist as a fighting force.
If all the beasches would have had a unit like the 352nd (and of course it wasn't just the 352nd, but the terrain that was such a problem at Omaha) I would guess all the beaches would have seen the same result: the German defenders crushed after exacting a very heavy toll in dead and wounded invaders. No unit could have stood up for long to the firepower amassed against the invasion beaches. THe difference was that the 352nd largely kept fighting in place while the weaker Ostfront units eventually surrendered.
Now, it is possible that the delay invoked by this result could have resulted in a general operational stalemate on the entire front as the Germans could have *possibly* bottled up the invasion beaches presuming reinforcements arrive sooner. But I doubt it. My guess would be that the Allies just would have poured more troops in as needed. Sword could have been ugly however with the Panzers counter-attacking against forces that were possibly largely still stuck on the beach or close to it with little operational depth.
My father was a 'mercy' transfer from the Russian front to Normandy. Several of his units were decimated in severe combat conditions over several years, inflicting outrageous casualties. He was the last remaining officer (after the war a second one turned up) of his 1930's ocs class. His nick-name was the 'stehaufmann'. It was a Landser's dream to get transferred to Normandy and fight Americans. For a Landser in Russia it was not a question if he survived, but how cruelly he died. Among the 'good' units (the Russians marked them) there was no surrender . The Russians expected the same. On the American front they could surrender, get a smoke, a meal, and peace. When my father formed the new unit in France, he looked at the 17 year olds and vowed to himself that he will not lead them into the meat grinder, like so many before. He surrendered his unit at the earliest opportunity. The most dangerous task he had was pulling it off without the HJ kids blowing the whistle. He thought fighting Americans was like shooting fish in a barrell. I guess the troops he faced where very green and inexperienced in tactics, also careless and too good natured. No fun at all. Any German vet will tell you there's no comparison whatsoever between the Eastern front and Normandy. Normandy was considered a piece of cake. Half the Wehrmacht's problem was getting the experienced men to fight. They'd rather surrender.