A reason for the Wehrmacht’s defeat at Stalingrad: German orderliness

By 1942, the German Wehrmacht had suffered its first and stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Here the tide of the Second World War turned. Stalin reflects at some length on the reasons, one of which he puts down to the German propensity for orderliness.

In this respect, things are far from well with the Germans. Their strategy is defective because, as a general rule, it under-estimates the strength and possibilities of the enemy and over-estimates its own forces. Their tactics are hackneyed, for they try to make events at the front fit in with this or that article of the regulations. The Germans are accurate and precise in their operations when the situation permits them to act as required by the regulations. That is where their strength lies. They become helpless when the situation becomes complicated and ceases to “correspond” to this or that article of the regulations, but calls for the adoption of an independent decision not provided for in the regulations. It is here that their main weakness lies (Works, vol. 15, p. 38).

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4 thoughts on “A reason for the Wehrmacht’s defeat at Stalingrad: German orderliness

  1. They certainly underestimated the Soviets. The battle turned the tide of the war in favour of the allies, and it is interesting that Stalin is thinking about German orderliness, rather than the bravery and sacrifice of his own troops.
    Best wishes, Pete

  2. Yes, the USSR eventually won. Stalin’s specific comment, though, is totally wrong; while at Stalingrad the Soviet forces weren’t as rigid and lacking in initiative as they had been at the start of the war, the Germans were able, to the end of the war, to react faster – at every level from the army to the individual soldier – and more flexibly than an equivalent Soviet force. He’s simply taking the more desirable German characteristics as spoils of war.
    And where do those 330,000 captures come from? A quick check with wikipedia confirms my memory that the true figure was around 110,000.

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