Operation Barbarossa & Loot Force One


The Wehrmacht is often portrayed as a professional and well-equipped force. Although in summer 1941 during operation Barbarossa It was professional yet the equipment situation was far more complicated This is something rarely covered and many documentaries even instill the myth of a highly modernized mechanized force by unreflectingly using wartime Propaganda footage Although in terms of weapons the German army was mostly well equipped this was quite different when it came to motor vehicles. Although Nowadays Germany is well known for its automobile industry, back in the late 1930s and early 1940s it was rather underdeveloped in terms of Motor vehicles per Capita Germany in 1939 was behind the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Norway, Belgium and a few others with just 25 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants In Contrast the United States at first plated 227 France 54 and the United Kingdom 51 in Order to Cope with this problem the German leadership made extensive use of captured vehicles for operation Barbarossa Thus the title Loot Force one To give you some numbers: Of around 161 infantry divisions 84 used captured Motor vehicles Yet the usage of captured equipment was not limited to infantry divisions but also to a few of German high quality units namely the 12th Panzer division and Four motorized infantry divisions, which were uniformly equipped with French vehicles. But well Maybe the French did have some really great trucks All forms of wheeled transport suffered greatly on the deplorable Soviet roads but the less robust French trucks proved even more Suspectible on summer roads choked with dust and potholes and soon converted to an impassable morass with every downpour Well so much for that idea. Of course the Germans also used high-quality captured equipment Namely the Panzerkampfwagen 38 (t) out of Czech production. For operation Barbarossa still 5 panzer divisions We equipped mainly with this tank Another major problem was the huge amount of different types Which meant not only that depots with proper spare parts were needed while also industry kept producing those parts Unless the vehicles were used in a throw-away fashion. The historian David Stahel notes a particularly interesting example The 18th Panzer division for example fielded no fewer than ninety six types of personnel carriers 111 types of trucks and 37 types of motorcycles. Now why is this so important for operation Barbarossa? Because in the Eastern front the distances were large the railways few and of different gauges Thus captured trains needed to be used or the Railways changed to a different gauge Now the number of roads was also quite limited and the quality well let’s say it wasn’t particularly high Thus transport vehicles were in higher demand due to the lack of railway capacity and the wear and tear was significantly increased due to the bad Road situation This was bad enough But the large amount of different types increased the problem even more in a short campaign which was actually the name of Barbarossa The lack in standardization and shortage of vehicles can usually be circumvented in one or another way yet Barbarossa turned into a long campaign the attrition Extended supply lines large amount of types and other factors created a death spiral At first there were not enough trucks to begin with thus the trucks were used more often which increases wear and tear Second the roads of bad quality which increases also wear and tear. Third, due to the high attrition operational vehicles are needed more often, thus maintenance might be skipped done superficially or Cargo is not delivered at all. Thus either vehicles are strained further or the supply lines fourth since there’s a lack of Standardization logistics get more complicated More Depot’s more destinations more spare parts Thus ultimately also a lower rate of return to service Now there’s another part we need to think of. Basically the Wehrmacht was advancing from Summer to Winter deep into soviet territory thus constantly extending the supply lines and also taking combat losses. As a result the German logistical system couldn’t just perform correctly the military historian James Corum put it very well One question is whether The Germans could have taken Moscow if More forces had been allocated to the Center army group A more pertinent question is how did the Germans manage to get so far with their shoddy logistics planning and infrastructure As always sources are in the description if you want to learn more about barbarossa check out this video about the German blunders of operation Barbarossa Or maybe you are interested in a correct assessment of us and Chinese navies Special thanks to my patrons who financed many of my sources for this video. Thank you for watching and See you next time

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