German casualties in the Warsaw Uprising exaggerated?

German campaigns and battles 1919-1945.

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sid guttridge
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German casualties in the Warsaw Uprising exaggerated?

Post by sid guttridge » Thu Nov 07, 2002 9:09 am

According to sources I have seen referred to (i.e. H. von Krannhals, "Der Warschauer Aufstand, 1944", pp.214-215. J. Matecki in "Zeszyty Historyczne", No.15, p.28) German casualties during the Warsaw Uprising were 10,000 dead, 7,000 missing and 9,000 wounded.

I have three reasons to question this.

The first is that it appears that a total of only 40,000 German troops were used. If the above casualty figures are accurate, this woud mean that the German troops fielded, which were not of good quality, suffered 65% casualties. As far as I am aware, no German formation of comparable size, even those of good quality, were prepared to endure 65% casualties in any other offensive action of the war.

Secondly, the accepted German casualty figures for the Warsaw Uprising show a ratio of nearly two dead and missing to one wounded (17,000 : 9,000). This is almost the reverse of the ratios in other comparable operations. For example, during their original conquest of Poland, the Germans suffered a ratio of one killed or missing to every two wounded (13,000 : 27,000) and during the guerrilla phase in the Balkans it was one killed or missing to over one and a half wounded (18,000 : 29,000).

Thirdly, the official losses of Wehrmacht units stationed in the General Gouvernment (of which Warsaw was the capital) between August 1942 and December 1944 are given as 6,722 soldiers, 2,805 SS and police, and 1,984 Reichsdeutsch and "VC men" - 11,511 in total. Even assuming that that this figure only represents the dead, it would mean that, having subtracted the 10,000 claimed as killed in the Warsaw Uprising, only about 1,500 Germans died at the hands of the Polish resistance in the General Gouvernment outside Warsaw in the 1,900+ days of the German occupation - less than one a day. This seems on the low side, unless the Polish resistance, with the exception of Warsaw in August-Sptember 1944, was not very effective.

I have no answer to the question I raise here. Can anyone else make better sense of German casualty figures or offer altrnative ones?

P.S. Can anyone suggest what "VC men" may mean in the paragraph before last? As it is bracketed with "Reichsdeutsch", I thought it might refer to Volksdeutsch, some of whom were settled in the General Gouvernment.

Thanks.

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Post by Morden » Thu Nov 14, 2002 1:51 pm

The first is that it appears that a total of only 40,000 German troops were used. If the above casualty figures are accurate, this woud mean that the German troops fielded, which were not of good quality, suffered 65% casualties. As far as I am aware, no German formation of comparable size, even those of good quality, were prepared to endure 65% casualties in any other offensive action of the war.



You missed one thing - replacements. What's more in the ending part of uprasing two panzer div. were transfered for Warsaw (i.e. 19, 25).
I think that more than 40.000 German troops were used to fight in the uprising. Don't forget units that were already there incl. SA, SD, SS, Gestapo, Gendarmerie, Schutz polizei, Flak and Luftwaffe units etc.


Secondly, the accepted German casualty figures for the Warsaw Uprising show a ratio of nearly two dead and missing to one wounded (17,000 : 9,000). This is almost the reverse of the ratios in other comparable operations. For example, during their original conquest of Poland, the Germans suffered a ratio of one killed or missing to every two wounded (13,000 : 27,000) and during the guerrilla phase in the Balkans it was one killed or missing to over one and a half wounded (18,000 : 29,000).



There were several reasons for it:
1. A lot of german units were encirceled and destroyed by polish soldiers. If they were buried by Poles Germans sometimes couldn't find them.
2. Nature of city fighting is such that not all bodies are recovered (buildings falling apart, fire, mass graves to diminish chance of plague etc)
3. German POWs had the same shelters as Poles that means that they could suffer the same fate of being bombed and entombed in city debris.
4. SS (not Waffen SS which was considered combat formation by polish underground movement), SD, polizei, gendarmerie, gestapo were shot at hand as they were considered criminal organisations (which they were) and guilty of war crimes.



Thirdly, the official losses of Wehrmacht units stationed in the General Gouvernment (of which Warsaw was the capital) between August 1942 and December 1944 are given as 6,722 soldiers, 2,805 SS and police, and 1,984 Reichsdeutsch and "VC men" - 11,511 in total. Even assuming that that this figure only represents the dead, it would mean that, having subtracted the 10,000 claimed as killed in the Warsaw Uprising, only about 1,500 Germans died at the hands of the Polish resistance in the General Gouvernment outside Warsaw in the 1,900+ days of the German occupation - less than one a day. This seems on the low side, unless the Polish resistance, with the exception of Warsaw in August-Sptember 1944, was not very effective.



I don't think that those figures do include german losses in Warsaw uprasing because of two reasons:
1. Warsaw Uprising was not underground movement or partisan action. It was seen by the german army as the main operation to keep eastern bank of Vistula free of soviets. It was army group operation that is probably why uprasing casualty figures are not included.
2. The figure presented by you is way to small to include uprising casualty figures.

One more thing polish partisan/underground movement did not finish on GG borders. Especially strong partisan forces were deployed on eastern borders of Poland (in today's Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarussia).

But to some extent you may be right about inactivity of polish resistance. But that was done for reason. Home Army simply did not want polish civilians to suffer german repressions. While quite inactive, Home Army was about 350.000 strong and was preparing for major uprising on the whole country area. Some similarites to 1918 were expected i.e. collapse of Austrian/German armies in which case country uprasing would start.

P.S. Can anyone suggest what "VC men" may mean in the paragraph before last? As it is bracketed with "Reichsdeutsch", I thought it might refer to Volksdeutsch, some of whom were settled in the General Gouvernment.



You are probably right as VC should be surely VD - Volksdeutsche. Don't forget that there was quite strong german minority before WWII.

Hope that helped!

Cheers
Morden

ps. Do you need exact figures, OoB, etc, from recent polish publications?

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Mitch Williamson
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Exact casualties

Post by Mitch Williamson » Fri Nov 15, 2002 3:41 am

Dear Morden

I would like to see the exact casualties, if that was not too much bother for you.

Thanks in Advance
:D
Mitch

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Post by Morden » Fri Nov 15, 2002 7:05 am

I'll post them but you will have to be a little patient as I have access to the net only from my work, so I can do it on Monday.

Morden

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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Nov 15, 2002 6:00 pm

Hi Morden,

Thanks. You offer some interesting possibilities and I have some questions and observations arising from them.

I do not know exactly what units are included in the figure of 40,000 men used against the Uprising or whether this includes replacements or not.

I would question whether the 19th and 25th Panzer Divisions were actually deployed against the Uprising or merely in or around the city once the Russians arrived just across the river?

Were a very large number of Germans really encircled and wiped out inside Warsaw. At least one of the major surrounded German positions was certainly relieved.

The nature of all fighting is such that there are almost always numbers of bodies not recovered. That is why I combined the losses of dead and wounded in my original statistics. Is there statistical evidence from other urban fighting indicating a ratio of two dead or missing to one wounded on the part of the attackers?

I can believe that hundreds of Germans may have been captured early on inside Warsaw, but not multiple thousands. Besides, the vast majority of the prisoners would presumably have been from the criminal organisations you suggest would have been executed, leaving relatively few POWs to die from friendly fire. Have you statistics on the numbers of prisoners claimed by the Poles?

What exactly was the German command structure during the Warsaw Uprising? Was the German force trying to supress the Uprising subordinate to the Army Group behind whose front it lay or was it responsible to some other rear area authority like Wehrkreis General Gouvernment?

I appreciate that there were significant Polish partisan forces outside the General Gouvernment, but Warsaw lay inside the General Gouvernment and the German casualty figures I have relate specifically to the General Gouvernment.

I look forward to learning more.

Thanks.

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Post by Morden » Mon Nov 18, 2002 9:02 am

First some numbers:

1. Von dem Bach reported on 15 Oct 1944 that he lost during the uprising the following number of soldiers:
- 1453 killed (incl. 44 non-germans)
- 8183 wounded.

I think that the numbers given in that report are too low. Especially only 44 non-germans killed. How was it possible if there were several collaborator forces in Warsaw incl. among others:
- Dirlewanger Brigade (45% of Volksdeutche and other nationalities)
- RONA brigade
- two battalions called "Azerbejjan" (?spelling) - muslims from Caucasus.
- two battalions of russian cavalary (cossacs).

2. The numbers of german casualties presented in the first pos here i.e. 17.000 dead&missing and 9.000 wounded were given by the same von dem Bach in 1947 while he was in polish prison.

I don't know why those numbers differes so much. Maybe report from 15 Oct 44 was too optimistic (not all losses were known, wounded were dying in hospitals etc.). On the other hand why would von dem Bach lie in 1947?

3. Replacements. I found numbers concerning Dirlewanger brigade (two battalions plus three support companies):
- at the start of uprising 860 soldiers
- replacements - 2500
- at the end of uprising 648 soldiers
- losses - 2712 (315%).

4. The Warsaw garrison. The rough number of german garrison in 1 Aug 1944 - 16.000 soldiers.

Morden

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Post by Morden » Mon Nov 18, 2002 9:24 am

I do not know exactly what units are included in the figure of 40,000 men used against the Uprising or whether this includes replacements or not.

I would question whether the 19th and 25th Panzer Divisions were actually deployed against the Uprising or merely in or around the city once the Russians arrived just across the river?


Well. I'll serch for number of germans fighting against uprising.
25th and 19th Panzer were used against uprising. They destroyed polish forces at Mokotow and Zoliborz districts. 2nd pzgren reg HG was helping them. One of PzDiv hold the bank of Vistula in Warsaw until it was releived by Fortress Division "Warschau".

Were a very large number of Germans really encircled and wiped out inside Warsaw. At least one of the major surrounded German positions was certainly relieved.

There were about 200 german posts in Warsaw. Some of them very big some small. There are several acounts mentioning Germans holding posts with platoon sized forces.

The nature of all fighting is such that there are almost always numbers of bodies not recovered. That is why I combined the losses of dead and wounded in my original statistics. Is there statistical evidence from other urban fighting indicating a ratio of two dead or missing to one wounded on the part of the attackers?

You can go to Dupuy Institute and copy their document on city fighting in WWII. It does not back the idea of city fighting being something else than normal combat. But fighting in Warsaw was much more different than fighting in Brest for example.

I can believe that hundreds of Germans may have been captured early on inside Warsaw, but not multiple thousands. Besides, the vast majority of the prisoners would presumably have been from the criminal organisations you suggest would have been executed, leaving relatively few POWs to die from friendly fire. Have you statistics on the numbers of prisoners claimed by the Poles?

You are probably right about no of POW there were for sure hundreds not thousends. I'll try to find some statistics.

What exactly was the German command structure during the Warsaw Uprising? Was the German force trying to supress the Uprising subordinate to the Army Group behind whose front it lay or was it responsible to some other rear area authority like Wehrkreis General Gouvernment?

It was very complicated. There were:
- 9th Army and garrison of Warsaw (gen. leut. Stahel)
- SS and polizei forces sent by RF SS under the command of gen. Reinefarth and then von dem Bach.
The situation of two organisations fighting uprising and co-ordination was remedied on 14.08.1944 when Corps under the command of von dem Bach was created and subordinated to 9th Army.

Morden

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Post by sid guttridge » Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:30 pm

Hi Morden,

This is getting really interesting. Many thanks.

The figure of 1,453 German dead does sound low unless, as you suggest, it largely excludes non-German losses. On the other hand, the figure of 8,183 wounded sounds more reasonable and is quite close to the 9,000 given in the 1947 figures. The discrepancy seems to lie in the number of dead and missing. Perhaps an extra "0" got added in the 1947 figures.

I don't know why von dem Bach should lie in 1947, or even if he did. However, given the rounded nature of his 1947 figures, they are clearly only an estimate. By contrast, his 15 October 1944 figures are likely to be more statistically justifiable because the German staff system was very demanding of accuracy. However, what we don't know is exactly what von dem Bach's terms of reference were in drawing up the 15 October report. i.e. was he told to draw up figures for all German losses, or German + collaborator losses, or just losses in units when subordinated to him? Perhaps it does not include German losses before his appointment on 14 August?

It seems likely that, whatever information they had available, Polish post-war publications latched onto the highest German casualty figures available as they showed the Uprising in the best light.

I would question your maths on the Dirlwanger Brigade. I make its losses 87% on your figures. This is itself suspiciously high, especially given that within a couple of weeks it was again in action against the Slovak National Uprising.

With regard to 25th and 19th Panzer Divisions - Were they committed to Warsaw before or after the Red Army and Polish 1st Army units reached the opposite bank of the Vistula? After the problems they had in attacking Warsaw with armour in September 1939 it seems unlikely to me that the Germans would have sent armoured formations into the city in 1944 unless there was some other issue at stake.

I'll be be back when I have had a little longer to contemplate what you have written.

Thanks again.

Sid.

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Post by Morden » Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:54 pm

It seems likely that, whatever information they had available, Polish post-war publications latched onto the highest German casualty figures available as they showed the Uprising in the best light.

You're probably right, I'll try to find something else on german casualties.

I would question your maths on the Dirlwanger Brigade. I make its losses 87% on your figures. This is itself suspiciously high, especially given that within a couple of weeks it was again in action against the Slovak National Uprising.

If you divide losses of Dirlewanger Brig. (2712) with its original strenght(860) you will have 315%. The numbers are taken from von dem Bach relation in 1947 while he was kept in polish prison.

With regard to 25th and 19th Panzer Divisions - Were they committed to Warsaw before or after the Red Army and Polish 1st Army units reached the opposite bank of the Vistula? After the problems they had in attacking Warsaw with armour in September 1939 it seems unlikely to me that the Germans would have sent armoured formations into the city in 1944 unless there was some other issue at stake.

Don't forget that Germans used tanks and StuGs extensively in the Uprising. It is estimated that 100-150 panzer vehicles were destroyed by polish soldiers. But the same vehicle could be destroyed more than once (they could be repaired and put back into the line).

19th and 25th PzDiv were transfered for Warsaw in the ending phase of the Uprising after soviet/polish bridgeheads were destroyed (22-30 Sep 44).

Morden

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Post by krzysiek » Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:19 pm

I'm reading this topic with a lot of interest, and i would post just few sentences.

Germans used 19 Panzer Division against Warsaw uprising, because it had to cross the city, to go to the Warka region. 19 was used first in battle at Wolomin-Radzymin (destruction of sowiet 3.Panzer Guardian Korps) north of Warsaw. The only way to the south was throu the city. As all the streets north-south were taken by partisans they had to make the way. The 74 GrenRgt assaulted from POniatowski Bridge to the south, but were stoped not far from the Central Warsaw Railroad Station.
They had some loses (I don't know exactly how much) including some tanks from 27 PzRgt (the partisans captured two Panther tanks from this division). I guess, that losses of this division were not counted by von dem Bach, because, this unit were never subordinated to him.

Best Regards
Krzysztof Kulesza

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Post by sid guttridge » Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:56 pm

Hi Morden and krzysiek,

To my way of thinking the 315% figure has no practical value.

For example, it implies that each member of the Dirlewanger Brigade passed through the same original unit and was, on average, killed or wounded 3.15 times in two months, which is patently not true.

To extend the logic, rather than using the first battalion deployed as the base figure, we could use the first platoon deployed. Then we would get something like 9,000% casualties.

Surely, the only practical way to approach this is to work out the percentage of total manpower employed during the battle who became casualties? By my (admittedly less than impressive) maths this gives the 87% figure, which is remarkable enough in itself.

Thanks also to krzysiek. For me it is relatively easy to sit here asking questions and playing the devil's advocate. The important answers come from contributions like Morden's and yours. Thanks again.

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Post by krzysiek » Mon Nov 18, 2002 3:01 pm

I haven't stated that - the usage of 19 PD described in my previous post was beetwen 2 and 5 august 1944. I didn't know that it was used also in Sept.

Best Regards
Krzysiek

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Post by Morden » Tue Nov 19, 2002 9:36 am

Hi guys!

Here is what I found:

1. gen. Stahel in his report on Warsaw Uprising stated that in the first 36 hr. of fighting 500+ german soldiers were lost.

2. 9th Army report to AG Centre, 9 Aug 44:
"Our losses in Warsaw are very high"

3. 9th Army report to AG Centre, 17 Aug 44:
"In Warsaw 8000 soldiers of Waffen SS, Wehrmacht and polizei are fighting. They are enforced with tanks, sturmartillery and heaviest artillery"

4. von dem Bach report to AG Centre, 28 Aug 44:
"strenght of our forces in Warsaw under my command: 329 officers, 23.974 soldiers and NCOs"

5. von dem Bach report to AG Centre, 29 Aug 44:
"Losses: 91 officers, 3770 soldiers (killed 28 officers, 629 soldiers)
Daily losses: 150-200 soldiers"

6. Strenght of von dem Bach forces as on 1 Oct 44:
- Battlegroup Rohr - 1668
- units subortinated to 19th Pz div. (XXXXVI Pz Corps) 4888
- units subortinated to 2nd pzgren reg HG - 400
- von dem Bach Corps - 6581
Total: 13.537

7. The losses of Dirlewanger Brigade (doesn't matter how you count 315% or 87%) are probably misinterpretation of von dem Bach. During Uprising several collaborators units were subordinated to Dirlewanger, such as:
- battalion "Bergamann" - ost muslims
- battalion from 111 reg - ost muslims
- 3rd cossak reg
their strenght was: 55 officers + 2772 soldiers (at the moment of subordination the numbers could be lower and could equal 2500 soldiers - as I presented earlier). The question is if those subortinated units were taken away from Dirlewanger Brigade after the battle, or maybe losses were really so high? I don't know and couldn't find an answer for that.

Morden

ps. I add some comments later, must go back to work.

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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Nov 19, 2002 11:55 am

Brilliant stuff Morden!

I will do some number crunching and try to come up with some tentative conclusions.

Sid.

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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Nov 19, 2002 4:14 pm

Hi Morden, Mitch, krzysiek, etc.,

Within the limitations of the information we have I would offer the following tentative conclusions:

1) The only hard casualty figures we have so far for the Germans during the Warsaw Uprising are those of von dem Bach for 29 August and 15 October 1944:

29/8 657d:3,204w or 1:4.9
15/10 1,453d:8,183w or 1:5.6

2) The ratio of dead to wounded in these two sets of figures is quite close (1:4.9 and 1:5.6). It is therefore reasonable to accept approximately these ratios as typical of the likely ratios of all German units engaged in Warsaw. This completely disqualifies the the widely published figures for German losses of 10,000 dead, 7,000 missing and 9,000 wounded.

3) We do not know exactly what period von dem Bach's figures of 29 August and 15 October cover. In the former case von dem Bach's declared loss rate of 150-200 men per day would give a start date of anywhere between 26 and 19 days previously - 3 August to 10 August. This is unsatisfactory as the Uprising began on 1 August and von dem Bach was apparently appointed on 14 August. This means that von dem Bach's statistics might not cover between 3% and 17% of the period of the Uprising.

4) There is also the probability that not all German troops employed against the Uprising were always under the command of von dem Bach. However, it seems likely that the vast majority of man/days spent combatting the Uprising were by von dem Bach's forces. It is is therefore likely that they suffered the bulk of German casualties.

So, what are we left with?

Von dem Bach's forces probably suffered the greater, but a not ascertained, proportion of German losses.

So therefore, hypothetically assuming that 25% of German losses occurred either before von dem Bach took over or were borne by units not under his command, we would have a total of about 2,000 German dead.

Based on von dem Bach's ratios, we would also have about five times as many wounded: +/- 10,000.

Therefore, total German losses may be in the region of 12,000.

This would mean that German losses were brobably rather lowr than those of the Polish Home Army. This is the reverse of what is stated in all the books I have read on the subject.

Has anyone any new facts or comments on the logic or methodology used here?

Cheers,

Sid.