Waffen-SS losses lower than Heer losses in combat units?

German SS and Waffen-SS 1923-1945.
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sid guttridge
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Waffen-SS losses lower than Heer losses in combat units?

Post by sid guttridge » Wed Nov 27, 2002 4:26 am

While looking out some stats for another thread I came across the following:

The German Army suffered 26.238% losses during the war. (3,463,469 out of 13,200,000.)

The Waffen-SS suffered 31.58% losses during the war. (252,680 out of over 800,000).

At first sight this seems obvious - the political supporters of the Nazi regime may reasonably be presumed more willing to fight and die for it.

However, on closer inspection, it is not comparing like with like. The Waffen-SS relied on the army for its equipment, supplies, strategic transport, etc.. It therefore had little of the enormous non-combatant tail that the army necessarily had.

The implication of this is that, amongst combat units, the Waffen-SS may well have suffered LOWER percentage losses than the army.

Can anyone clarify or explain this?

Cheers,

Sid

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Post by charlie don't surf » Wed Nov 27, 2002 6:23 am

I'm not too sure about that, it is often noted that the waffen- ss had more combat casualties due to their aggressive tactics.

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Post by Mark C Yerger » Wed Nov 27, 2002 6:39 am

If you take units used as spearheads or placed in "fire brigade" type roles I think the losses work out close to the same. Likewise ad hoc or late and mostly untrained units probably had equally high losses. I always hesitate to draw conclusions based on just general statiscs.

Mark

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Post by Wolfkin » Wed Nov 27, 2002 6:33 pm

Hmmmm...interesting.

But, is it correct to assume that the majority of losses would be in the combatant areas and that the loss differences when including the non-combatants would be negligible? Looking at it this way, maybe the loss percentages were about equal.

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Wolfkin
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Losses

Post by Tom Houlihan » Wed Nov 27, 2002 10:02 pm

Though I hated my statistics class, I'd like to follow Mark's thought through. Are there numbers for individual divisions? It might be interesting to look at the percentages for different units, even during different time periods and campaigns. When did they suffer the most? Which units suffered the most? Fire up the calculator!!!
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sid guttridge
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Post by sid guttridge » Thu Nov 28, 2002 4:30 am

Hi Charlie,

The overall statistics of losses by arm of service appear to support your widely assumed proposition and I quote them. However, my point is that on closer analysis these statistics do not compare like with like for the reasons stated and I am questioning this normally accepted view, at least in the generality.


Hi Wolfkin,

It is correct to assume that most losses would be borne by combatant units. The best known case is that of German infantry divisions on the Eastern Front, where their infantry were often reduced to a third or less of their establishment but their artillery and support services were almost intact. If this was the case within a divisional area, how much more so would it be when comparing a front line infantry unit with, say, a railway engineer unit in Germany? Of the latter, the army had many but the Waffen-SS had none that I am aware of. The Waffen-SS had a higher proportion of combat units because it relied mostly on the army for it non-divisional support services.

I am not sure how large the tail of the German Army was, but I would not be suprised if it was actually larger than the front element. Does anyone know? The Ersatzheer alone ranged between a third of the strength of the Feldheer in 1939 and over half of the strength of the Feldheer in 1944. However, in addition, within the Feldheer there were numerous rear echelons without a Waffen-SS equivalent.


Hi Mark and Tom,

My statistics class was the only part of Mathematics that I enjoyed, because it was the only one that seemed to have an immediate practical application. This is a case in point. The usual assumption is that the Waffen-SS as an organisation suffered heavier proportionate losses than the army and generalised statistics SEEM to back that up. However, a closer inspection leaves that open to question.

I am only in a position to put forward generalised statistics relating to entire arms. I would be most interested to see more detailed breakdowns at divisional level. However, to be significant they would have to compare like with like. For example, there is little to be gained by comparing a Waffen-SS panzer division with a Heer security division, or vice versa.

Cheers,

Sid.


P.S. I have not included SS police in the above discussions. This would have added another 900,000 to total SS strength and completely skewed the statistics in the other direction.

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Post by charlie don't surf » Thu Nov 28, 2002 10:51 am

Ok Sid, this is indeed an interesting question. However, until some other explenation is provided, I go for my and Marks explanation.

best regards

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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Nov 29, 2002 4:19 am

There is one obvious alternative explanation: That the Waffen-SS's reputation has been over hyped both by the German regime during the war and by post-war publications by under critical researchers.

Unless there was some sort of military dividend in putting volunteer manpower into Waffen-SS divisions rather than using them in army divisions, then the existence of the Waffen-SS was pointless from a military, although not political, point of view.

One proposition that is advanced for the military efficacy of the Waffen-SS is that they were more fanatical in defence of the regime. This might reasonably be reflected in the institution's higher casualty figures. However, those figures I have given, which nobody has yet disputed, imply that the Waffen-SS might well have suffered a lower proportion of losses amongst its combat formation generally than the army did. This again raises the question: What was the military point of the Waffen-SS?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Calculator

Post by Kamen Nevenkin » Fri Nov 29, 2002 9:59 am

Monthly reports on loses:

/killed,wounded,missing,ill,other reasons/

*other reasons - in most cases = transfered to other units

1.8.43 = 1.7 - 31.7.43(KURSK and more...)

Das Reich - 627, 2491, 35, 605, -
Totenkopf - 684, 3751, 42, 564, 148
GD - 565, 2644, 94, -, 212
3.PzD - 363, 2129, 119, 268, 101
4.PzD - 424, 1826, 95, 162, 14

/authorized strenght,shortfall,killed,wounded,missing,ill,other reasons/

*other reasons - in most cases = transfered to other units


1.9.43 = 1.8 - 31.8.43(KHARKOV)

Das Reich - 22061, 4839, 611, 2596, 60, 434, 44
Totenkopf - 22045, 8755, 653, 2915, 58, 716, 1511
GD - 23324, 4002, 498, 1978, 140, -, 180
3.PzD - 15490, 2834, 402, 1772, 199, 403, 115
7.PzD - 14295, 1949, 334, 2028, 383, 267, 23


1.9.44 = 1.8 - 31.8.44(WARSAW)

Totenkopf - 17089, 3941, 549, 3396, 420, 78, 32
Wiking - 17809, 3281, 316, 1096, 180, 215, 69
HG - 25885, 6605, 481, 1851, 382, 625, 103
19.PzD - 14976, 946, 481, 2012, 164, 332, 142


1.1.45 = 1.12 - 31.12.44(ARDENNES)

Das Reich - 17425, N/A, 315, 1004, 141, 475, -
PzLehr - 13843, 1380, 263, 1026, 553, 75, 52
2.PzD - 14314, 2027, 325, 733, 1642, 222, 46

sid guttridge
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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Nov 30, 2002 4:06 am

Thanks Kamen.

I will do some number crunching over the weekend.

Sid.

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Post by sid guttridge » Wed Dec 04, 2002 5:48 am

Hi Kamen,

I have done some number crunching.

For Kursk I have worked out the killed and wounded as a percentage of the authorised strengths given for Kharkov.

For Kharkov and Warsaw I have worked out the killed and wounded as a percentage of the actual divisional strengths at that time.

For the Ardennes I have worked out the killed and wounded as a percentage of authorised strength.

These are only tackled in different ways because the original statistics supplied are presented in different ways.

For simplicity I have designated a Waffen-SS division with the letter "S" and an army division with the letter A. The Herman Goering division gets an "L" for Luftwaffe. The division suffering the highest percentage casualties is on the left, The division suffering lowest percentage casualties is on the right.

Kursk: SAASA

Kharkov: SASAA

Warsaw: SALS

Ardennes: ASA

On the basis of this limited information it seems that the senior Waffen-SS divisions were more likely to suffer the higher casualties than army panzer divisions, although not significantly so. For example, it would only require a 0.2% fall in the Das Reich Division's losses in the Ardennes for it to look like the most battle-shy of the three divisions listed.

However, this begs a number of questions. For example, Waffen-SS divisions in all cases were larger than the army divisions (and probably better equipped). Were they therefore always given the leading role, which would tend to attract higher casualties?

On Kamen's evidence the Waffen-SS have a slight, but hardly significant, advantage. Has anyone got more stats?

Cheers,

Sid.

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SS Casulties Numbers

Post by Black Knight » Mon Dec 09, 2002 11:28 pm

Hello,


This is my first post here at these forums and I thought I'd give my two cents on the issue. Though I may just be making broad generalizations on the subject matter, I think that lower casulty rates in Waffen SS combat divisions might be explained in two ways. First, as it is well know, the frontline W-SS soldiers were equiped with the best personal weapons. protective clothing, and AFVs that the German war machine could provide. In my opinion, soldiers with superior equipment have a higher chance of surviving combat conditions than normal; one only has to look at the U.S. military to see this theory in play. Secondly, though it is often a sterotype cited time and time again, German soldiers are traditionaly know for their abiltiy to stay organized and disciplined under fire; and the W-SS soldiers of the "classic" divisions were particularly fine examples of this being the combat tested, ideologically motivated individuals that they were. These two factors taken together might possibly explain why W-SS soldiers survived better in the intense combat conditions they were thrown into than many of their Heer counterparts. Of course I'm basing all of this on very broad general cliches, but I can't help but feel that their is not some kernal of truth to all of it.

sid guttridge
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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Mar 18, 2003 7:37 am

Hi Guys,

I have brought this thread to the top of the heap for the interest of those using the "Was the Waffen-SS a more elite formation?" thread.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Calculator

Post by Alex'44 » Mon May 29, 2017 6:44 am

Hello everybody! I'm new (and late) to the feldgrau community but I need your help! Can somebody please either send me or point me towards the monthly casualty report than Kamen Nevenkin provided for Das Reich in the Ardennes? I desperately need this for referencing and I have no idea how I can find it. I do also realize that this thread is reaaaaaally old - maybe a little revival is in order :D Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from somebody soon!

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