Who were the incompetent generals of World War II

Forum for history

You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
There is a book of the same name. Some of the examples there are bizarre, but others are also unfair to those who have been reviled. In contrast to doctors, captains and other professions to which human lives are entrusted, the damage caused by incompetent generals is much greater and often even had world-historical significance.
Now it was (at least in the past) that high-ranking military officials were often no lights of the mind. Often ranked only because of the family. But even when I graduated from high school (1980 in the GDR) the officer applicants were the stupidest of the year, only admitted because of their career aspirations.

We want to collect examples from history here, there are certainly more than in the book mentioned above.
(09/21/2014 19:54) Arkona wrote: [->]There is a book of the same name. Some of the examples there are bizarre, but others are also unfair to those who have been reviled. In contrast to doctors, captains and other professions to which human lives are entrusted, the damage caused by incompetent generals is much greater and often even had world-historical significance.
Now it was (at least in the past) that high-ranking military officials were often no lights of the mind. Often only achieved the rank because of the family. But even when I graduated from high school (1980 in the GDR) the officer applicants were the stupidest of the year, only admitted because of their career aspirations.

We want to collect examples from history here, there are certainly more than in the book mentioned above.

Hentsch -
the battle of the Marne was called off on his "expert opinion"

Moltke
on his orders the battle of the Marne was broken off
@Suebe, could you explain that a little for us ignorant?
I would include General Custer (Battle of Little Bighorn, 1876) among them.

It is difficult to evaluate a general's decisions. Is he now a "dud" if he does not recognize favorable opportunities and thus fails to win or shorten the war or at least win the battle? Or is he a "dud" if he is responsible for a high blood toll among his soldiers? In the American Civil War, the Northern General McClellan was often criticized for his hesitant warfare, General Meadow was reprimanded for allowing the defeated southern troops to escape and not pursuing them after the victory at Gettysburg. Both generals preferred, rather than forcing a final decision, to spare their weakened troops. Critics say that both generals' hesitation extended the war. Are they therefore worse generals than Grant or Sherman, who spared neither their own troops nor the enemy and left behind totally destroyed cities?

I'll write provocatively: Friedrich II of Prussia in the Seven Years' War
(09/21/2014 11:08 PM) Arkona wrote: [->]@Suebe, could you explain that a little for us ignorant?


Monday morning ... oh dear

Very short:
Moltke had lost track of the Battle of the Marne.
He sent Lieutenant Colonel Hentsch to get an impression on the spot.
Hentsch said the battle had to be broken off.
Very often it was arrogance that led to defeat. The famous http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlacht_von_Cr%C3%A9cy, which founded the legendary reputation of the longbow and supposedly ushered in the end of chivalry, would certainly have turned out differently if the French knights had not attacked in spotty ways.
Again to Hentsch and Moltke.
You had to "die" the Belgian, self-guaranteed! Violate neutrality, one had to attack "to perish" in the West.
The deployment in the east, as SM even suggested, would be "impossible".

When the general staff member responsible for the deployment found out about it after the war, he easily proved that even at the time the deployment to the east would not have been a problem.

Ok, you "had" to attack in the West, and when the first somewhat obscure situation arises -
- the whole stop!
Was one now in a forced situation or not after all ??????

Nope, such a bundle of nerves didn't deserve his monthly salary.
(09/22/2014 09:30) Arkona wrote: [->]Very often it was arrogance that led to defeat. The famous http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlacht_von_Cr%C3%A9cy, which founded the legendary reputation of the longbow and supposedly ushered in the end of chivalry, would certainly have turned out differently if the French knights had not attacked in spotty ways.

That's true. And after Crecy, Maupertuis followed in 1356 and Azincourt in 1415, practically following the same pattern.
Napoleon also had his weak hours. At Borodino in Russia in 1812, he couldn't think of anything else than to go head-on at the entrenched opponents. After he had almost broken through with terrible losses, he ignored all requests for help from his generals for the use of the Old Guard to close the sack. He did not want to demolish his handpicked elite of long-serving veterans and on that day left them standing around useless, rifle by foot. How it ended is known: the Russians, badly battered, withdrew in a semi-ordered manner and surrendered Moscow. His guards then succumbed to the Russian winter on the retreat and the meager remainder was completely unnecessarily burned at Waterloo in 1815.
Count Spee.

Steams to Port Stanley, recognizes the anchored British battle cruisers, which were currently quite defenseless, they took over coal,
and tries to escape .....

The British battlecruisers were considerably faster than his, and the British artillery had a much greater range.
So the result was inevitable.

In such a situation there is only one thing to do, get into the bay with everything you have and "win or die".

Spee just lost his nerve.
In my opinion, Spee was lost and would never have come home.
(09/24/2014 10:33 PM) Arkona wrote: [->]In my opinion, Spee was lost and would never have come home.

Breakthrough through the Greenland Strait? Why not?
A quarter of a century later it succeeded more often.

Be that as it may, the attack on Port Stanley, which was very controversial among its officers, was of course the trigger for the downfall. The British could work out the location of this attack on one hand, what other British position was within Spee's reach?

Although fate gave him a chance, if he had thundered in, shooting from all buttonholes, he could have demolished the British squadron, especially the two battlecruisers were not clear to sea.
Escape from faster ones who could keep shooting was completely pointless.
After Skagerrak at the latest, everyone knew better: the British battlecruisers would probably have blown up quickly, the German gunners had motionless targets in front of them that would have hit them already. And if the squadron had lost what would happen anyway, an acceptable exchange.

But Spee didn't know that. The German battlecruisers were very solid and he couldn't have known that their British counterparts were better tin boxes.

I don't suppose the squadron should return. Back then it was still possible to coal in neutral ports, you would have just played around until the machines were over.

During the Second World War I remember the Japanese admirals Nishimura and Kurita, who both behaved so incomprehensibly in the Gulf of Leyte that the reasons are still puzzled today. With Spee at least the motive for the flight was clear, but what was going on in Nishimura in particular, nobody understands to this day.
(25.09.2014 18:32) Triton wrote: [->]./.
During the Second World War I remember the Japanese admirals Nishimura and Kurita, who both behaved so incomprehensibly in the Gulf of Leyte that the reasons are still puzzled today. With Spee at least the motive for the flight was clear, but what was going on in Nishimura in particular, nobody understands to this day.


With Lütjens with the Bismarck, you don't really know what he wanted.
According to the reports of the few survivors (if a German admiral had acted like this, they would have hung him on a rope in Nuremberg), he was very keen that the war diary would be flown out on the last plane, which unfortunately no longer worked.
That leaves only speculation.
I don't accept Lütjens as a dud, the Bismarck went under after a lucky hit in the rudder position, you can hardly blame him. Had he got through to France, which was probably 99 percent likely, he would have been hung with everything that the Third Reich would have given.

Lütjens was primarily a victim of radar technology; it was no coincidence that no ship was sent into the Atlantic after the Bismarck.

His decisions were all logical, sometimes even brilliant.

Dud was more the now highly valued Langsdorff, captain of the "Graf Spee" in 1939, who completely unnecessarily went into combat with lighter units instead of simply going on the opposite course and disappearing at night.
(25.09.2014 20:53) Triton wrote: [->]I don't accept Lütjens as a dud, the Bismarck went under after a lucky hit in the rudder position, you can hardly blame him. Had he got through to France, which was probably 99 percent likely, he would have been hung with everything that the Third Reich would have given.

Lütjens was primarily a victim of radar technology; it was no coincidence that no ship was sent into the Atlantic after the Bismarck.

His decisions were all logical, sometimes even brilliant.

Dud was more the now highly valued Langsdorff, captain of the "Graf Spee" in 1939, who completely unnecessarily went into combat with lighter units instead of simply going on the opposite course and disappearing at night.



The maneuvers of the Bismarck are relatively inexplicable after hitting the steering gear, that's what I meant.

But you're right about Langsdorff, I would have brought him next.
A British naval officer would have left Montevideo and pounced on the Huns like a berserk.
The German Obersee officers somehow didn't have the right touch.
(09/26/2014 13:00) Suebe wrote: [->]The German Obersee officers somehow didn't have the right touch.
In World War 2? Everyone was ordered to avoid "risk". Hitler was afraid of a "loss of prestige", the Italians acted just as cautiously.

Langsdorff acted wrongly, first when he accepted the battle, then did not go to Buenos Aires (German-friendly) and finally when he did not even check what fine units were on site. Since he used up his ammunition and ran out of clean diesel oil, there was no longer any chance of returning, but offer the boat to Argentina for sale?

Otherwise I don't see much stupidity if you take the "no risk" premise into account.
Oh yes, driving the brand new Blücher first through narrow fairways off Oslo was of course stupid.

In the First World War I see a lot more stupid things on the British side, also because the Germans were very inactive.
US General Omar Bradley was considered a full military post. Eisenhower withdrew his command in the Battle of the Bulge and turned it over to Patton.
(09/27/2014 13:30) Triton wrote: [->]
(09/26/2014 13:00) Suebe wrote: [->]The German Obersee officers somehow didn't have the right touch.
In World War 2? Everyone was ordered to avoid "risk". Hitler was afraid of a "loss of prestige", the Italians acted just as cautiously.

Langsdorff acted wrongly, first when he accepted the battle, then did not go to Buenos Aires (German-friendly) and finally when he did not even look to see what fine units were on site. Since he used up his ammunition and ran out of clean diesel oil, there was no longer any chance of returning, but offer the boat to Argentina for sale?

Otherwise I don't see much stupidity if you take the "no risk" premise into account.
Oh yes, driving the brand new Blücher first through narrow fairways off Oslo was of course stupid.

In the First World War I see a lot more stupid things on the British side, also because the Germans were very inactive.

The crux of the matter was that the British fired with radar, even at night very precisely, while the Kriegsmarine fired on sight. And in bad weather? No weapon effect possible. In bad weather and storms, the effective use of weapons was under no circumstances.
(18.12.2014 17:46) liberace wrote: [->]US General Omar Bradley was considered a full military post. Eisenhower withdrew his command during the Battle of the Bulge and turned it over to Patton.
Wasn't it Bradley who commanded the US forces that landed in Normandy? Already a historic victory, even if, as always on the American side, with superior material.
Reference urls
  • History forum: http://www.forum-geschichte.at/Forum/index.php
  • :