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Thread: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

  1. #1
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    Default What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    Is it me or was German intelligence the worst part of the Wehrmacht? Within all three branches, the Wehrmacht excelled in combat but had terrible intelligence.

    1) German intelligence failed to estimate Soviet manpower reserves in Operation Barbarossa. Throughout June-Sept they thought they were moments away from victory after capturing and killing literally millions of soviet soldiers, yet by the end of the year, the Soviets already had over a million, many being Siberian divisions, to defend Moscow. In 1942, the Soviets had millions of soldiers both in central Russia against AGC and millions to face AGS in Operation Blue, the Battle of Stalingrad, and ultimately during their counteroffensives, Operation Uranus and Little Saturn.

    2) I'm not as familiar with the Battle of the Atlantic as I am with the Eastern Front but didn't the British succeed at deciphering the German Enigma? I understand that British Intelligence was great during the war, easily one of their greatest advantages over Germany. What annoys me is that the Germans repeatedly failed to realize it.
    ULTRA was quite a decisive tool in N. Africa. Plus, the Germans were completely deceived in Operation Bagration and Operation Overlord.

    What are your thoughts?

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    Default Re: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    Quote Originally Posted by thefw190fan View Post
    Is it me or was German intelligence the worst part of the Wehrmacht? Within all three branches, the Wehrmacht excelled in combat but had terrible intelligence.
    That's a bit of an overly broad statement and preceding question...

    1) German intelligence failed to estimate Soviet manpower reserves in Operation Barbarossa. Throughout June-Sept they thought they were moments away from victory after capturing and killing literally millions of soviet soldiers, yet by the end of the year, the Soviets already had over a million, many being Siberian divisions, to defend Moscow. In 1942, the Soviets had millions of soldiers both in central Russia against AGC and millions to face AGS in Operation Blue, the Battle of Stalingrad, and ultimately during their counteroffensives, Operation Uranus and Little Saturn.
    The planning for Barbaossa was fraught with assumptions that the Soviet state would collapse after any initial, sustained defeats making the question of manpower reserves moot. Having the best intelligence service in the world was useless if Hitler didn't want to hear what his intelligence officers had to say. There were various criticisms internally of the planning from the officer corp, especially in the Heer, regarding the assumptions being made resonating from the Nazi regime that Germany could quickly conquer and secure the best, most productive parts of Russia and certain other republics, then quickly harness its industry under German control to match that of the Commonwealth and the United States in the long term. The problem with planning for Operation Barbarossa essentially didn't lie in an intelligence failure, the central problem was that Hitler now could simply roll over the Heer officers that previously clashed with him over the planning of Fall Gelb and Fall Rot. But the successes of the Wehrmacht in crushing the French, British, and the Low Countries essentially knackered any voices of dissent and marginalized the generals to do little more than Hitler's bidding.

    As for the Soviets, they also had their own intelligence meltdown as numerous successes such as those by the 'Lucy Spy Ring were completely negated by Stalin's cowardice in the eve of Barbarossa and his refusal to see the blinking red lights alarming the imminent and obvious German invasion. Also, Soviet military intelligence was also hindered by many of the same ideological constraints that the Abwehr was. In fact, one could argue that being a Soviet military intelligence officer could be tantamount to certain death if they painted a true picture of the German advances as they could be labelled "defeatists" early in the war. Also, one should mention that (depending on whom you believe) the SS under Heydrich may have pulled off an intelligence coup by affecting Stalin's paranoia resulting in the arrest, torture, and/or execution of top Red Army officers, specifically the downfall of Gen. Mikhail Tukhachevsky, greatly hindering the effectiveness of the Soviet Armed Forces well into 1942. I also think, though am no expert, that tactically Abwehr was quite good for the most part. Especially given he fact they were successfully able to pull off numerous successful ruses using the "Brandenburgers"...

    2) I'm not as familiar with the Battle of the Atlantic as I am with the Eastern Front but didn't the British succeed at deciphering the German Enigma? I understand that British Intelligence was great during the war, easily one of their greatest advantages over Germany. What annoys me is that the Germans repeatedly failed to realize it.
    ULTRA was quite a decisive tool in N. Africa. Plus, the Germans were completely deceived in Operation Bagration and Operation Overlord.

    What are your thoughts?
    Yes. But it took a while before the British and the Americans to read German message traffic in something approaching real time. British intelligence services had many victories in the war. But the Germans have had theirs' as well. The Dutch Underground was completely compromised and the Belgian resistance network was under constant pressure from competent and efficient Abwehr counterintelligence operations. Both of which may have impacted later battles after Normandy and quite possibly Operation Market Garden and the Bulge...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 02-15-2013 at 02:30 PM.

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    Default Re: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    ...The Germans were completely deceived in Operation Bagration and Operation Overlord.
    But they completely deceived the Soviets before Operation Barbarossa (or at least they did Generalissimo Stalin, the greatest military mind). And the Germans were duped in Overlord, but they did the exact same thing to the French High Command in 1940. And no doubt each of those failures can be laid at Hitler's door, and the fact that by 1944 the Allies enjoyed virtual air supremacy in their areas of control...

    BTW, why would the failures of Abwehr "annoy" you?

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    Default Re: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    But they completely deceived the Soviets before Operation Barbarossa (or at least they did Generalissimo Stalin, the greatest military mind). And the Germans were duped in Overlord, but they did the exact same thing to the French High Command in 1940. And no doubt each of those failures can be laid at Hitler's door, and the fact that by 1944 the Allies enjoyed virtual air supremacy in their areas of control...

    BTW, why would the failures of Abwehr "annoy" you?
    I could have sworn I read somewhere that Admiral Canaris of the Abwehr was an anti-Nazi who surrounded himself with like-minded officers. Incidentally, iirc that that the Germans had broken some British naval codes. I'm dredging this from memory so anyone who knows more, please elucidate.

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    Default Re: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    The Axis (mainly Germans) in North Africa had a very efficient espionage (spy/informer) network going in Egypt.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

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    Default Re: What if Germany had better Intelligence during WWII?

    As I posted in another thread, the Dutch Resistance was thoroughly penetrated by the Abwehr counterintelligence. I think this may have had an impact on Market Garden, which in itself was an Allied intelligence failure as they failed to account for the German SS units being refitted with heavy armor...

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