tv Operation Bagration - 1944 Soviet Summer Offensive CSPAN January 11, 2020 10:44am-12:01pm EST
cooperation. the musical universalists saw classical music as a universal language, which could speak to all of humanity's hopes and dreams. for many years, the debate between the musical nationalists and universalists roiled in newspapers, magazines, and competing public pronouncements. the passion heightened classical music's political significance across the country. >> learn more about the intersection between politics and music in the first half of the 20 century sunday at 4:30 p.m. eastern on american history tv, only on c-span3. in june of 1944, the soviet army launched a massive offensive against the germy army -- the german army on the eastern front. nazi defeat.
next on american history tv, historians present talks on two aspects of what the soviets aspects of the operation. ready toow getting hand the stage over to an associate professor in the department of history at the university of windsor in canada. we met rob last year when he came down for our 2018 conference as an attendee. we are delighted to have him back with us to moderate our first session of the day. without delay, dr. nelson. [applause] >> good morning. bout.e to the heavyweight
these three major fronts -- for those of us, he saved the biggest one for last. operation, one of the greatest, the most significant with a name that none of us can pronounce. i don't speak russian. i can say it in french way. then there is the funny, easy pneumonic device. operation bag of rations. can kind of spell it out along the way. words spelling out the with the emphasis on the final
syllable. about the eastern front and how significant it is, difficult to bring the numbers and figures and the size of the armies and landscape, really make it graspable to my students . speaking in hundreds of thousands of troop members. one set of figures that i find most powerful for my students to use. i will only use one set of figures. very difficult to calculate exactly these figures, but in general, they hold true. the combined western allied british,he americans, d-dayans, french from until the end of the war, the combined western allied armies
faced 25% of the german army. quarter of the a german army. the soviets faced 75% of the german army. how big and powerful was that soviet army? they still got to berlin before we did. , theis the kind of scale significance of how big these battles are. how significant these battles are, you think i am using hyperbole. quote is along the lines of, it is perhaps the destruction of the german army group center is the greatest defeat in all of world history. all of world military history. that is the level of significance.
we are going to change the order, we decided it made more sense to change the order of the talks this morning. we are going to begin with david , he received his phd in berlin and focuses on the history of the german army. he teaches at the university of new south wales. he has written or edited eight books and with the level of , davidin his books appears to be writing what will be the seminal multibillion history of the eastern front in the second world war. reyna pennington teaches military and russian history at the nations oldest private military college. a former intelligence officer, she served as a soviet analyst. sovietlications include
air women in world war ii combat. she is working on a book about broad patterns and russian military history, what russia can teaches about war. seriesappearing in the greatest events of world war ii along with several of our speakers. [applause] >> good morning. can i just say to begin with what a pleasure it is to be at your national world war ii museum? this institution is remarkable. programbe part of a with so many esteemed historians. it is a career highlight. thank you to everyone who has
had a role in organizing my participation. i want to single out rob because he is far too modest to say it, i have benefited over the years from you and many of my younger colleagues would say the same. it is a pleasure to be here. it is my task today to talk about the collapse of army group center and that is the title and all of your programs. say, and oneould of the points another speaker made yesterday, we should never forget our historical actors, they do not know what is coming. they only know what they have been through. it is good to have context when we are trying to understand these events as they take place. the service of doing that, i where aregin with --
we at and where have we come from? know, germansall have been fighting on the eastern front for three years. this has been a meatgrinder of a war. army group center has been in the middle of that. is the most1, it important of these army groups. three quarters -- they are driving into the soviet union. kia., the northern arm of iev.e december 1940 one, from that point on, with very few exceptions, through june of 1944, army group center is on the defensive.
that is 2.5 years long in the center of the eastern front. the first part of that defensive period is probably well known to you. that is the winter of 1941, 1942 when the soviets launched their winter offensive. if you are curious about that, i have a book on that. someone said, don't shamelessly plug, david. this is america, land of the free. you have to sell yourself. [applause] those three months where we see army group center defending itself. after that, even speaking to an audience i suspect is completely well read -- one of the things i , neverup by being here underestimate the reader. and yet, i think it is fair to say that army group center was
dark after that. 1941, 1942,nter of what are they doing for the next 2.5 years? where areo everyone, the germans fighting? stalingrad. what is army group center doing? ofm january 1942 until march 1943, they fight a battle. it is a 15 month long battle. if you take the aggregate number of soviet casualties in that at the end of the 15 months, 1.3 million soviet sustained.have been 1943 evacuate that salient. what that tells us is how hard the defensive fighting is on the
eastern front, even in areas where it seems not much is happening. how many books have been written on that? few in german, if you and russian -- a few in russian. we canemarkable that stand here 75 years after the war. i know how many forgotten battles on the eastern front there are. you have 1.3 million casualties hardly traced in the literature. at many casualties stalingrad? 1.2 million. they arep center -- fighting for their lives and they are doing it successfully. what happens? the risk offensive, we know
about that. back on the defensive fighting. ofober 1940 three to march 1944, heavy fighting. to illustrate how much fighting, david just produced a book. how many pages? 950. 1944, -- it to june of when we get to june of 1944, what did the germans understand? notink it is fair to say, reading history backward but understanding in the context of its own time, a lot of german officers might have felt soviets havesay, material superiority. they have been fighting for their lives for 2.5 years.
maybe that breed the degree of arrogance. it is important context. here we are. of 1944, what did the germans understand to be the soviets strategic conception? i put the question mark up there because they do not know. do, whathat commanders could they be thinking? the german plan reflects german military thinking. on the first day, the germans built a point of concentration and they try to plan war winning solutions. other commanders can be more plotting. when they tried to imagine what the soviets will do, army group center is per judy into the soviet -- is protruding into the soviet center. soviet options?
to attack south of army group center. anticipation -- you can see the soviets, germans, their anticipation is twofold. it could be a normal strike which would punch through army group north ukraine. it would cut off army group center. army group north and open a road to moscow. alternatively, they may try for a left-wing down toward the adriatic that would cut off army group south ukraine and would cut off german forces occupying yugoslavia. it seems like a credible option. this is what they think. this is not what the soviets do. it is the real problem of a mistaken strategic perception. the germans have a big problem.
forces on the eastern front, while numerous, they are not mobile and they recognize the advantage of the soviets mean you cannot innovate after the fact. you have to guess which way they are going to go and have to be ready to receive them. when the soviets don't oblige and they don't go through these two options, that begins to explain it reason i like this map -- is a busy map, it does not matter if you can see the detail. i like it because it is the kind of map that people like hitler are looking at. it shows you where the divisions are. the boxes on the soviet side are instantly problematic because
there are multiple divisions to record. the problem for hitler is each one of those designations denotes a division but it does not tell you how strong they are. therefore it is extremely deceptive. a division is not just the marker. hitler loves the idea of a panzer corps or panzer armies. it has almost no tanks. that sounds great. these maps are problematic. it kind of explains the problems. the first thing is strategic misconception. the second thing we have to understand -- what i like about this map is a gives you a much better representation than the previous map of the actual situation. we have to remember german commanders in june of 1944 don't
always have this context. they could intelligence reports and have a sense the soviets are building up. some of the local intelligence for army group centre gives them the impression something is in the wind. there could be an offensive. they don't have an idea of how significant the offensive could be. the numbers tell us a story. 118 german tanks. sometimes in military history, if you are well read in these things, you have to be a little bit skeptical of the numbers because they don't tell the whole story. if you have a good tactical strategicr a good response, sometimes numbers can be turned on their head. that is not going to be the case with army group centre, far from it. factrd reason beyond the that incorrectly assess where
the soviets will attack is they are dealing with adolf hitler. idea ofup with the fortified places about identifying towns and villages he thinks, if they are strongly defended and absolutely under no circumstances abandoned, we might just be able to hold the front. time, one has to understand how the east works. the east has far less infrastructure. large at that time, , a germaneep swamps advantage when you're are on the defensive, it appears to be part of their solution for survival. these are the fortified places. is with limited
infrastructure, if we can defend cities,rge towns, small this could be the key to holding the eastern front. it is a fools errand. those cities were largely damaged when the germans went through them in 1941. there was heavy urban warfare. germans are now in for positions and they could well be and they would prove to be death traps for the soldiers assigned to try to defend them. bush, the field marshal in command of army group centre, is a true national socialist. he is to some extent a realist. a month before the soviet offense of to begin he goes to hitler and tries to convince them to build defensive positions in the rear.
hitler in front of bush to his staff makes derisive comments like, another general looking over his shoulder. bush goes back to army group centre and then says categorically we need to fulfill the wishes of the fuhrer. this is interesting, though, because it means it is not just -- generals after the war thought to shift the blame to hitler. they are complicit in their own destruction. he likes to on some level try to believe if we just follow him we can hold it down. he does not have a choice. something about irony, the stubborn inflexibility was precisely what the germans
scorned in 1941 as they were attacking soviet armies part the soviet armies seek to hold the front. you could drive behind them and encircle them. three years later, this is precisely what the germans are doing. something of an irony. disintegration is what is to follow. appreciation for the time before this, it is shocking to look at how quickly army group centre will fall apart. -- not a lota lie of time to go through it blow-by-blow. army,e the third panzer the soviet offensive coming from the north and one from the east. it cuts off one of the cities. it had been at the center of ferocious fighting through the winter and spring of 1944. the commander of the third panzer army -- it all falls
apart. they are already getting behind the city. five divisions are trapped in there. can they pull out? absolutely not. reinhart is desperate to get them out. will agree to four divisions pulling out. the problem is soviets and their exploiting -- they try to move to the rear. that means forces don't get out. no other army has greater casualties. no other army suffers more losses. some of the forces in the third panzer army do get out. and gettingn behind. and then we have the ninth army in the south. same scenario.
soviets driving around it. it is supposed to be the case. the only way through the east is along the infrastructure that is built. look at where the arrows are. the soviets are not conforming. it speaks to the degree that soviet operational art has changed. if you facilitate the movement, transport logistics command control, the soviet war machine is to by no means be underestimated. as the arrows continue to roll down, you continue to see they are not just cutting off german armies at the front, they are exploiting at rapid speed. how fast do they exploit? we are zoomed out. the dates, fourth of july, you can see the line at which they have reached. june,ave taken 22nd of fourth of july, roughly two weeks. germans50% of what the
took in 1941. it took them 2.5 years to take back have and two weeks to take back the other half. russia is one of the hardest areas to operate for any army. it is not like ukraine, where you can operate your tank armies with some degree of freedom. it continues much further. 31st of july, where are the soviets? germans have not only been pushed back -- sorry, i have gone too far. the germans have not only been pushed back, but they have had something like 400,000 casualties and the eastern front has been blown wide open. for all his reputation, ultimately what stops the soviets after a 700 kilometer advance and delete 500 kilometers to berlin is sheer
exhaustion. the lack of logistics and the fact they are trying to bring up an enormous amount of reserves to hold the line. that is what buys germany time. the soviets don't have the forces to just keep going. ladies and gentlemen, that concludes my presentation. i will sit thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. [applause] 4 all of these tall people here. be here and talk about the operation. youn't have to explain to why you need to be looking at the easter front in 1944. our other speakers have
established that for you. encapsulate some of the most important points about this. i know people are skeptical about russian sources. he describes this as catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, one whose drama and huge losses far overshadows the battles in the west. author on 1944 on the western front and eastern front rights that the germans are increasingly being out-general. flexibilityed by and such developments made the germans greater tactical competence word existed largely irrelevant.
the mostlled strategically important, but operation of world war ii. i am going to quote rob citino but it was already done for me. he makes a comment that this --ertaking was of such vast it challenges the limits of human understanding. it is quite difficult to summarize this in 20 minutes but let's do our best to set the stage for this. you see various maps of this and we will come back. the main thing to take away is the reversal of fortune on the eastern front had occurred in 1943. 1944 was a series of continuous operations all the way to the end of the war. we will be coming back to that. pulling back even farther to look at western and eastern fronts. you can see what is going on and 1944. at the tehran conference at the end of 1943, churchill and
roosevelt promised stalin there would be an invasion into german occupied territory in 1944. stalin promised to conduct an operation to support that on the eastern front. they were doing a series of operations as we will see in a minute. on this map, the yellow and purple areas show you what is going on in the summer of 1944. orange is what happens during the rest of 1944. it is described as 10 blows. it is a nice sound bite. he talks about the 10 blows that drive axis forces out of soviet territory. annihilates a german grouping. worth study in its own right. we will not go through these.
if you look at the winter and spring operations, those are shown here on this map in orange. leningrad is liberated, there are significant advances in ukraine and the front lines are pushed far forward. armies have been deployed to ukraine for these operations. that is part of the deception far operation bagration later on. the summer operations of these -- and bagration if the centerpiece of what happens in the summer of 1944. those are shown on the map in purple and in blue, the summer operations. there is another series of operations that occur in the fall of 1944, those are shown in green, and that is when the army ends up deep in the balkan states and prussia.
1944 is a significant year. is one of many significant operations that year. to set the stage further for the numbers -- there are a lot of stereotypes about numbers and ratios on the eastern front. we should point out that in 1944, it is not just the germans who are suffering manpower shortages. everyone is trying to cope with that and to understand that you need to look briefly at what is the population of countries in the size of their army forces. do not have a bottomless pool of recruits to draw on. populationwar, their was significantly larger than that of germany. the germans occupied territory in 1941 were 45% of the population live. for the first two years of war,
they are fighting with a lower population base than what america has of the time. that is the pool they are able to draw on. from that pool, they create an army that is not much larger than the american army at the end of the war. they are just about the same size. is its different mobilizes more people. they mobilized twice is many people than the u.s., about the same number as germany and the u.s. combined. they do that not because they have endless resources, but because they strip agriculture. by about 40% to 60% during the war, which is a different situation than we have in the united states. those numbers are important. how does that translate armies in the field? one thing people forget is early in the war, germany had numerical superiority on the eastern front up until the bottle of moscow.
the soviets then began to increase their numbers, but even in 1944, they were only able to manage a two to one overall numerical advantage on the eastern front. war,e very end of the forces grew to a four to one advantage. that is the overall feel capabilities of the red army. how does that translate? this graph might help showed up. germany and its allies are shown in blue, the soviets in red. the germans have the advantage in the beginning. if you look at the middle of this graph, the red army peaks in size in 1943. it will hold at that level and then gradually reduce over the course of the war. it changes the forced ratios because german forces are getting fewer. the soviet army peaks, holds its numbers, keeps replacing
casualties and the germans cannot replace their casualties. that is what the ratios change over time. the red army keeps growing and the german force diminishes. armyhappens is the red reaches its peak in quantity, but it continues to improve in quality. that is an overlooked aspect. in german forces decline quality and quantity is the war goes on. quality will be a key factor in operation bagration. planning is one area where the quality is quite evident. we don't have time for a lot of detail. i will summarize. way -- ines it this the course of a single year, 1944, the soviet high command displayed a formidable level of flexibility, imagination and mastery of logistics and operational procedure. the red army tactics were not
sophisticated. tactics were simple. strategyerations and that were complex and sophisticated, and that accounted for the success of the red army. it is the opposite of what is going on in german forces at this time. in terms of planning, they started -- they define the main goals, they set up the plans and redeployed forces, reorganized their fronts and planning is complete by late may. the original date of the operation was june 15. they did not purposely choose june 22, that happened because of delays in transport and bottlenecks and they did not have forces quite ready to go on the 15th. when they set up the goals for overall operations, they discussed with commanders and
down to the regiment role who proposed the best way to achieve goals and the plans were finalized. in the red army has become quite improved by 1944. , there areinvolved four fronts, basically an army group. there are four groups involved in bagration. i wish we could talk about each of these. the commanders are fascinating people. the commander of the third belarusian front was the younger commander in the army, he was 37 years old. he was a brilliant war hero who was unfortunately killed in action eight months later. -- therertant figure are representatives from the
high command that they would send down to help coordinate operations between these units. it was so big they had to. -- they had two. largest of these fronts, the first belarusian front south of the appropriate marches, that is a super front. that will be the main force or the hip put most of their energy and power. what makes it a super front is leadership. probably my favorite leader of the army in world war ii. a fascinating character. he was arrested in 1937. he is reinstated to the red army, missing his fingernails and a few teeth but comes right back in and distinguishes stalingrad, kursk and
other places. you can read his memoirs in english. he fights with stalin over his plans about what to do in operation bagration. a double envelopment with tanks and other enforcement coming out of the swamps. stalin does not like the idea. it is too complicated. butould pull off something not this sophisticated of a development. in andcalled back eventually he persuades stalin to accept his plan. it is an interesting event and he does achieve his goal. some of these commanders --
map of how the forces are deployed and we will see where the end up in a minute. let's look at the numbers and operation bagration. you will see slightly different numbers based on how people count. the plus numbers in the soviet column are because there was one major wing of the first belarusian front that is held in reserve that is not part of the main operation in bagration. technically they were still part of the front. another interesting thing is this is about one third of all of the soviet forces that are in the field of the time and about one third of all of the german forces on the eastern front, as well. overall ratioe here in this region is 3.7 to one and troops.
where the real superiority comes is in weapons. look at the ratios in the weapons columns. that is the overall ratio, they achieved greater force density on the factors where they concentrate those verses forces even farther. overall tutor one superiority and troops to the red army at this time on the eastern front in the area of operation bagration, that is approaching four to one. in key breakthrough sectors, that is where you see some of the 10 to one numbers the germans like to write about because they choose certain areas, 10% to 20% where the area covered, concentrate up to 90% of their armor and artillery on that one small sector where they want to achieve a breakthrough. that is how they get local superiority, even though the overall numbers are not that great.
we also see a great increase in quality and training because the red army is proactive, they are able to plan ahead because of operations but they pull whole armies off the front line to reset and retrain them, specifically for operations, and in this case bagration. havebring armies out that six weeks of training, they have 20,000 replacement troops, new weapons and spend their time focusing on working with engineering troops so they can place -- andput in build roads for equipment to go through the swamp and marshy areas. what he has in mind is to deploy his armor through the marshes. this is an immense wetland. europe,est wetlands in 100,000 square kilometers of
marsh, rivers and swamps. it is regarded as impossible to cross. on top of this, there is a second mud season in the spring and late june that further swells the rivers and makes the terrain even more difficult. the red army will move against the green. there are almost no roads. they will build their own roads by cutting down trees and putting together the roads. 1944, theye, in began to receive a significant amount of vehicles. jeeps and studebaker trucks equipped with winches will be key items. thingsthe most difficult in river crossings. there are many of these. i wanted to describe this for you.
paratrooper, he escapes upm a pow camp and he ends with a russian tank battalion. he has a fascinating memoir. was with them in 19 45, a few months after this event. these tankers he was fighting with told him rivers or trenches for russian blood that must be filled before crossing. vodka, theyks of spoke. no soldier had survived them all. the rivers were legacies, the normandys.of four another improvement was the
ability to achieve speed and operations. that was in the new soviet operating manual, speed was critical. tempo had to be maintained so the enemy would be kept off balance, could not bring in reinforcements or consolidate their position. for that, the soviet commanders were willing to pay a price and casualties. primarily for the first echelon. it was expected to achieve the breakthrough at any price. this was not a human wave attack. probes, but the main forces would be looking at these weak spots, the breakthrough areas and that is where the breakthrough had to be accomplished, even if it cost lives and tanks. this had to be done within hours, or at most a day. if it was not achieved within a day things would break down to
attritional warfare. most of the time, and these operations they did achieve breakthrough. a breakthrough is achieved primarily with infantry with guns and certain types of armor. the main armored forces would come be behind with exploitation. it was a bill that had to be paid to win the battle of time and then clear the way for the exportation forces to move fast without engaging, without getting bogged down in significant combat. detail, deception operations. the plan that was in place for operation bagration was just as sophisticated and effective for that of normandy. you can see many of the same aspects are used, including drawing attention to ukraine where the tank armies are still sitting. under the command of a famous
general, you can compare him to patton's role in normandy. the generals bought it because it looked like a logical place, all of the forces were there, he key general, a key army was there. it was so effective that it took german intelligence three days after the beginning of operation bagration to acknowledge this was the main event of the summer. they still thought it was a decoy for something to come down in ukraine. i am not going to go through a lot of events because david has already done that for you. i want to mention a couple of key aspects. thebattle activity includes largest operation of world war ii. attacked more than 1000 transportation nodes, enough to put them out of operation for the next 24 hours.
there are also teams out there doing reconnaissance, attacking key targets. air attacks on german airfields, often at night. there is interesting stuff going on. get massive artillery preparation and some areas. other areas, they decide to go with surprise rather than artillery. as the breakthroughs occur, sequentially, these are staggered because they share resources like aviation from one breakthrough to the next. a breakthrough occurs and then exportation forces will follow. that is where army will come in. they are also using calvary because they're operating and swamps and places calvary can be an effective tool. the map here gives you some idea of what is going on. defendmans are trying to
and keep points. they are protecting roads and defensive areas they have tried to set up. the soviets will bypass most of that. they will encircle these areas and take them out at their leisure. flexibility, the adaptability to switch targets based on the changing situation. that happens in an interesting way. the germans are simply unable to establish defensive positions. the russians concentrate forces and can get around them faster than the germans can react. he said while the soviets were hard at work closing a ring, the german command was talking itself to death. reacting inare not a timely way for all kinds of
reasons. the encirclement are effective because the soviets show a disconcerting ability to move infantry into position very rapidly. they get ahead of the decision curve. things slow down ahead of the first two weeks. the red army forces have been depleted. there is breakdown of equipment. they are so far ahead of their main supplies that they can't get supplies supported. they have to stop. they have gone much further than they originally anticipated. they have to pull up and refit. it takes another eight weeks to get to eastern poland. it is an extraordinary success and we have already seen that. the general movement of these forces. lasthree main operations five to nine weeks each and last
between 215 to 600 miles. furtherarmy advances then the distance covered in 1940 from the belgian coast to the channel. the russians have almost no roads and those they do have are turned into mud by the rain. -- bagration exceeds all expectations. later, it shows where the forces end up. they have to wait a few weeks before the continue on. there are other operations in other areas that continue on, such as ukraine. another interesting thing going on in the exportation phase is using groups. they are the basis of the infamous operational maneuver groups of the cold war.
the big concern -- this is where they based at 30. the astonishing success of those forces in the exportation phases of bagration. up, i think rob citino said it as well, operation bagration was more than a victory, it was the victory. perhaps the greatest single win in all of military history. thank you for your time. [applause] >> if you would like to start with the first question, that is fine. >> because of the makeup of this panel, i do have a question.
we have an american, australian and a canadian talking about the eastern front. history is from a national perspective -- national history museums are from a national perspective and all of us are operating in countries that give very little bandwidth to the largest battles of the second world war. my question is just along the lines of to each of you have a certain approach, strategy or way of thinking about how to bring the eastern front more onto the radar of our national audiences? >> i think that is an excellent question. especially when you look at contemporary russia, contemporary germany. you start to see how important the questions are.
i remember being a young undergraduate interested in this area but always feeling like your multiple steps behind because there are languages involved and you realize how much you have not accessed at that time. later on i started to realize, in some ways coming at this war from a non-national perspective, i was not from one of the countries in this war, and don't underestimate how many countries that was. i wanted to explore all of the countries that served as axis allies on the eastern front. we had 17 different countries being listed. you have so many axis allies or countries that are occupied but contribute volunteers to the german army. you start to realize the history of the eastern front is a global history, not just because all of german occupied or german allied --ntries, but nations of
when you say global significance, it is clear. coming at this without a russian perspective, we know what problems there are for 50 years ideologically, maybe there was a grace. -- you1990's, but with can go to prison for five years for writing the ron kind of history. what is that do for free engagement? you can imagine. in germany it is a different problem. they do engage with her history except for the fact the engagement is often what people don't think. sweeping their terrible history under the rug. they deal with the holocaust. what they don't deal with well is the operational history. they don't do much about her history. i discovered when i got to germany to do my phd i would have to read all the german operational text but there is
not that many of them. how much work there is to be done was my point from the lecture. would you take an outsider perspective you realize not being a part of those national discussions and all the rest of it gives you a bit of a clean slate. that is a bit of context. >> i think there is more information coming out lately. ofprisingly, there is a lot russian tv series about world war ii. there are movies on tv that you can watch that are very well done. problems with patriotic orientations, but it is an interesting way for people. there are a lot of good memoirs and there have been a couple of publishing firms in england in particular that have been doing translations. ande has been a huge effort websites that have lots of that.
i think that is a good step for many people is to read personal stories about will -- what life was like in these time frames. we talked about doing a 1944ography for you about because there are some recent things and a lot more coming out in english. i don't think it has made it into popular awareness yet. >> the first question will beat your left. >> this is for dr. pennington. can you tell us about the contribution of the soviet night which is? just one regiment. there were many in the soviet air force. one was staffed primarily by women. they were not involved in any significant way. there were plenty of women who
were in the red army fighting in other capacities. more than 800,000 women total in the red army. half of them were on the front lines. >> next question is to your far right. much for twovery great talks. could you talk for a moment impact on theisan german retreat? i know they have struggled through the advance not only with geography but activity. how did that affect the german collapse? >> absolutely. to why is it goes important to read your notes during a speech and not just go freelancing because i had a good quotation in here. i don't even know why we are up here.
he does talk about the fact -- there it is. this is a german soldier after the initial soviet attacks have encircled a large part of the forces. soviets areine, exploiting. if you look at the scale on which this campaign is happening, it does not mean the soviets, even with their advantage, have the ability to collapse every german pocket. in and germanng soldiers who have not been destroyed in initial breakthroughs are moving as these mobile pockets, hoping to get toward german lines again. fighters range from a few men to entire divisions trying to survive. they are contending with two things.
the red army, but at least the red army is moving on roads, you can hear the tanks and the armor, the worries are what you can hear in the forests. hundred 43,000. these guys are organized, active and have endured a horrendous occupation. now the germans are on the back foot. one of these guys rights, he is describing his attempt to get back. no longer a retirement, orderly --hdrawal, men historically hysterically fighting their way back through swamps, moving through rivers and streams. over mostly poor roads, and fermented seat without adequate provisions while being threatened from all sides. thousand only a few that make it back. keep in mind how large army
group centre was. it was 700,000 men at the beginning. a lot of those men are combat troops. it is about 300,000. 336,000 combat troops, but only a few thousand make it back. >> next question is to your right again, please. >> i think you answered this a little bit already. know the soviets started releasing -- you could get access to their ports. theircurate do you feel pontificate ony the patriotism thing?
are they just relatively straightforward reports? >> relatively straightforward. the documents in the archives are pretty accurate. people like john erickson who wrote before there were access to the archives, he knew how to work with sources. there was a brief period in the 1990's where we were able to get a lot of documents. they are a lot of documents published from the soviet archive. there are scholars working in russia on this who are doing very detailed considerations of casualty rates. it is a very active field. the big ranch in the works has closed thebecause he world war ii archives to noncitizens. because he is controlling the way history is written. he wants to focus on the heroic aspect and not focus on the
embarrassing aspects of battles. russian scholars looking into it at some risk to themselves. we talked about maybe needing to put together a bibliography to point people in the right direction. >> to your far left, please. >> i was wondering if you could share some more information about the calgary mechanized group. ideat's get rid of the that you have charging tanks. they are not used in that fashion. fors not suitable terrain armor, belorussia in particular, marshes, the use combined forces that have infantry and armor. they also brought in cavalry units that were very effective, but not for combat as much as
scouting and giving information that would bring the other troops along. they did have significant cavalry forces in the army at this point. >> the next question is to your right. >> of the 17 countries to contribute it forces to the german army, how many were true believers versus the ones who contributed forces with a gun to their head? how did the german army and up with muslim troops? >> i divided them into three parts. there are national armies, romania, finland, hungary, italy, even croatia, they have been national forces. it is a mixed bag. i would not want to categorically answer because i have not been in those archives. what was the commitment of those soldiers? they don't have much choice. when you say true believers, that is a different category than the next group, volunteers
from axis occupied countries, which seems like a crazy idea. norwegians were allies, they were occupied. who are these guys volunteering? it is small numbers. in the initial wave, something like 1000 or 1300. they very much believe in this state. crate therefore, they are prepared to volunteer and go in fight the bolshevik enemy. this is also spread through those occupied areas. that group is another one. i would also say by a large there are true believers, including spain. they are on the eastern front. one presenter yesterday said he was not a fan of switzerland. switzerland sent a mission to the eastern front.
when they set want to the soviets -- you are supposed to be neutral. the swiss are actually on the eastern front with a medical mission. the third group is eastern peoples, they were also occupied, they were ukrainians and baltic states. >> to your left, in the front row, please. russiansntioned the were more mobile than the germans were at this point. can you talk about how much of that mobility was as a result of american supplies? we gave them some of everything but we gave them a lot of trucks and jeeps. >> i don't have numbers off the top of my head. there were soviet produced trucks as well but they were not as good as the ones we sent.
it was a very important factor. radios were an important factor. the soviets produced most of their own weapons. food, spam,adios, dried eggs, protein they could get on the eastern front were critical to help fuel the operation in literal ways. >> in the back, to the right. much for yourery presentations. i want to go back to the original question that was raised about the importance of the eastern front in this war. twoicularly since we have thirds here today, if we had a new zealander, i would transfer the same comment. how do we gain a better understanding of how the first war set the foundation for what we experienced in 1939?
the first world war? >> the first world war and how that set the stage? >> that is my specialty. i would just say that the germans lose their empire instantly at the beginning of the first world war and then they gain a huge amount of territory in the east and very quickly decide this will be our colonial empire. this will be the german empire. none of these overseas business like the french or british. the thinking around the conquest of the east and that this can be a massive space for german settlement, it is a word that already exists in the german vocabulary in the first world war. this is a space for german conquest and empire and it is
absently born on the eastern front in the first world war. we always seem to forget the germans beat the russians in the first world war. it is not a myth that you can't beat the russians. the experience of the german soldier on the eastern front is massively influential on what happens later on. >> we have time for at least one more question, maybe two if they are quick. to your left in the front. >> is there a consensus among scholars as to the percentage of away by thes traded russian army as compared to the allies? >> it is a bold historian that thinks there is a consensus we all come to. losses has german been done by a man and unfortunately, the book has not been translated. , isaid one of the problems
am forgetting which month it stops, i think it is 1945. by that point, things are falling apart in germany on a lot of levels and to reconstruct anything categorically with losses, they don't have the records. one fest anything about this, and i hope this knocks you over because i remember when i first heard it, i thought, it can't be right. 50% of all german world war ii casualties take place in the last 12 months. 41, stalingrad, 42, and they still have not lost as many as they will lose in the last 12 months. these aren't very good armies and they are being thrown into this mulching machine and being mulched. there were huge numbers of losses.
losses are extraordinary. the paperwork around them is not so good. >> in the back, please. about raised a question the first world war. thinking about germany. at least the german army first asld war actually used jews intermediaries on the eastern front as opposed to slaughtering them. a man,a question about operations,k about i would like to get a clearer sense of the relationship of the first man who i think is a superb strategist and plans operations. is that directly connected to
the operations of these deep operations -- the germans would swing around and encircle you but the russians would go 90 miles further and disrupt all of your rear communications. does that come correctly from him -- does that come directly from him? operations goes back to the 1920's. it proceeds what the germans will be writing about. there are differences, though they are often compared about what will later be called blitzkrieg. begins the military purge in 1937. any idea associated with him could no longer be discussed. operation cannot be used in world war ii. they tried to fight without even doing it in the first year or
two and don't do it phrase successfully. by 1943, they are trained to implemented but what they are doing is what is described as a deep battle. it is deepn's death, battle they are doing. go back to him. >> thank you very much, panelists. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] tvsunday on american history on c-span3. the 1999 interview with robert byrd. >> we have a great body of evidence right before us. is sworn testimony already. it would be possible, in my own
mind, for us to conduct a trial without having witnesses called. >> sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterward, a new york times magazine contributor discusses her book. porn has become the de facto sex educator because we don't talk to them. about sex is natural, tion isbashan -- masturba important and natural. wantcan get anything they on the internet and a lot of things that nobody wants at their fingertips on their phone. nightch afterwards sunday
on book tv on c-span2. >> tonight on lectures in history. an emory history professor talks about efforts in the early 1960's to register african-american voters in mississippi. moses ghost dance of the courthouse. he has a couple of guys with them who are going up the steps to register. up, pulls out a knife, turns the handle around and bam, hits moses. moses staggers. he is not done. he starts wailing on them. remember nonviolence. you learn how to take the blows. remember we talked about these ethnic notions. what you know is the moment you
it becomes just a file homicide where they kill you. homicide where they kill you. wailing on him, wailing on him ,nd then moses goes into a zone a zen zone. who he was going to help register to vote, they took off running. when billy jack is done, he is a bloody mess. is really proud of what he is done. away. his boys walk moses stands gone,
up, bleeding. just bleeding. the guys who ran away are looking. moses said come are you ready to go register to vote? you see that kind of strength. that quiet power. >> you can learn more about efforts to register african-american voters in mississippi tonight at 8:00 and that eastern on lectures in history. join us on american history tv. productsan history tv are now available at the new c-span online store. store.org to see what is new for american history tv and check out all of the c-span products. national world war ii
museums annual conference in new orleans, a look at the italian campaign in 1943 and 1944. seniorino, the historian, talks about the german army in italy, and author and historian rick atkinson discusses the campaign from the allied perspective. >> now you hear me. i hear me, too. good morning. lengle, senior director for programming. welcome to our humble abode. we had to clear out some junk to make room for you, so it sits on best so sit on any -- so sit on any old upturned law you can find. you don't see this kind of passion to get in at 8:00 in the