Debunking the Glantz myth (Full Version)

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Michael T -> Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 4:39:01 AM)

Anyone with access to Antony Beevor's 'The Second World War' should check out page 370, 1st paragraph, it shows clearly how poor Glantz's research is on the War in the East. I read one of his books. Won't be wasting my time reading anymore.

76mm -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 7:53:10 AM)

Least useful post ever... If you are going to complain about someone's research it would make sense to tell people what the hell you're talking about, because I suspect I am not the only person on this forum that does have either book, much less both...

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 7:56:10 AM)

The best one volume history of WWII was and remains

Beevor has never impressed me. There's been a rash of general WW2 histories of late (I just finished reading Andrew Roberts' take, and it was meh.) None of them hold a candle to Weinberg.

Michael T -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 8:07:06 AM)

I don't give a rats about other writers. There is a weird Glantz worshiping thing at this site. Here is some proof Glantz is sloppy.

LiquidSky -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 8:09:19 AM)



I don't give a rats about other writers. There is a weird Glantz worshiping thing at this site. Here is some proof Glantz is sloppy.

So we should worship your god instead?

Michael T -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 8:27:42 AM)

I am not saying worship anyone. Many dudes around here think the sun shines out of Glantz's arse. Check the book I cite. Glantz is wrong.

76mm -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 9:09:47 AM)


Check the book I cite. Glantz is wrong.

Yup, OK, I'll buy and read both books to try to figure out what on earth you're talking about (er, something about War in the East, not clear what) rather than you spending 2 minutes to tell us what is troubling you so much. Or not...

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 9:23:47 AM)

Near as I can tell, Michael has no gods, only a devil.

Michael T -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 9:31:02 AM)

I said quite clearly that 'anyone with access to' the book should check it out. If you don't have access don't worry. I am not about to post a copy of the page and risk copyright crap. Go check out a copy in your local bookshop, they won't begrudge you looking at one page. I wasn't expecting what I read on that page. But it just cemented what I already thought about Glantz's work.

janh -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:26:27 AM)

Not sure what you are referring to, but as a hard scientist I am used to take everything with a grain of salt or turn the coin thrice.

Glantz has written some nice books and essays, and certainly is an expert in the field. But even the best experts makes mistakes, or are restricted by the resources or original information available to him. Glantz, for my taste, is too little self-critical, and often put things in a light that make them seem an absolute truth.

I first realized it when talking about the casualties on the Eastern Front he presented. I went so far as too look up some recent research and alternative source on that, and the spread is enormous. The Wiki article is a good start on some references you can follow in deeper if you have scifinder oder isiweb. Surely many of their authors have done their best to accumulate "factual information", but you can clearly see who the decades and especially the opening of the UdSSR archives changed the results of the studies. Most surprisingly, even the usually so annoying German bureaucracy back then is incomplete, maybe due to loss of documents, reports, lack of returns, or disagreement of how to split the different wounded categories. Whatever.

Anyway, one has to make do with the best data on can lay hands on, or the "best" books one has at home to make up his mind. Yet also be sure to question the own conclusions regularly, just as Michael does. Nothing bad about his post except this teasing...

amatteucci -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:43:43 AM)

Using Google Books (so, no risk of copyright infringements) I stumbled upon this quote from Beevor's book:
"In the view of Russian military historians, the factor which demonstrated conclusively that Mars was a diversion and not, as David Glantz, has argued, a coequal operation, was the allocation of artillery ammunition. According to General of the Army M. A. Gareev of the Russian association of the Second World War historians, the Uranus offensive received '2.5 to 4.5 ammunition loads [per gun] at Stalingrad compared with less than one in Operation Mars."
Unfortunately, the rest of the page is not accessible, so I'm not sure if this is what Michael is referring to.

Anyway, there's no need to read the latest work of Beevor to realize that even Glantz makes mistakes.
Just for example, in "When titans clashed" Glantz wrote that the Panther was equipped with an 88mm gun.
Now, this is sloppy! I would not have made such a mistake even when I was ten years old. [8D]

Having said so, it's ironic that this mistake is due to the fact that this time Glantz failed to do what many of his critics mantain he does routinely: uncritically parrotting Soviet General Staff's reports and Russian historians' works! [:D]

P.S. Jokes aside, I agree with jahn when he says that "one has to make do with the best data on can lay hands on". This means that Glantz is an unavoidable reference when dealing with Eastern Front secondary sources in English, and the fact that he's quoted often has more to do with the quantity (and quality, also) of his production than with the fact that some people takes his writ as gospel.

danlongman -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:55:16 AM)

Well that sure "debunks" that "myth". And so does the belligerent counter-response.
I have books by both authors but not that particular Beevor volume, rendering the statements absolutely meaningless.
I know a little of Glantz' credentials and am aware that Beevor has written popular histories on a number historical themes
since I own some. Knowing nothing else.... how a reference to a page number in one book "debunks" a "myth" escapes me.
I know that people tend to believe what they wish to believe over facts any time. Hence something Beevor wrote somewhere
"debunks" a "myth" that Glantz wrote somewhere. Maybe his myth was too big or too small or the wrong color?
I will make note of that. Some guy in Queensland thinks Glantz is wrong about some thing based on Beevor's superior thing.

76mm -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 11:15:10 AM)

This thread has gotten truly surreal, arguing about who is right and wrong without even knowing what issue is being discussed.

I will say that to discount all of a serious historian's (as Glantz is) work because you found another historian with another, perhaps better, source/argument/citation is rather ridiculous. Maybe Michael is right that Glantz has been sloppy, but at least I'll never know because I have no idea what he's talking about, and oddly the local bookstores in Moscow don't carry large selections of Beevor's or Glantz' books. Not that I would bother to look anyway.

And last time I checked, it doesn't violate copyright to tell people what you've read in a book, I don't know why you think that the only way to convey information is to scan pages?

Anyway, all historians make mistakes, read Historians' Fallacies by Fischer for a better understanding; I won't tell you what he says, I'm sure you can find it in a local bookstore.

Michael T -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 11:47:45 AM)

You need to read the whole page. But to summarise. Glantz concludes that Mars was a coequal offensive conducted simultaneously with Uranus.

The evidence that Beevor presents makes it very clear that Mars was a diversion to aid in the success of Uranus.

Its not just a simple mistake of fact on Glantz's behalf. Its a totaly wrong conclusion drawn from inadequate research of the material available. This kind of failing, IMO brings in to question his work overall.

But I bring it up at this site because, unless you have been living under a rock, or are new around here, Glantz has been placed upon a mighty pedastal. And his work apparently so great it overides all other works by previous writers/historians on the subject.

76mm -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 12:02:25 PM)


Glantz has been placed upon a mighty pedastal. And his work apparently so great it overides all other works by previous writers/historians on the subject.

I read this forum as much as anybody and don't recall anyone putting Glantz on a pedastal; the most common sentiment that I've seen expressed is that he is a serious historian who has uncovered a lot of materials in the Sov archives, which is a good thing. Sure people quote his facts a lot, I guess because his books are very detailed and contain lots and lots of facts.

I've only read a few of his books and don't plan to read any more except in the unlikely event that I ever design a computer wargame or create a scenario for one, in which case he would certainly be ONE of my sources. Regardless of whether he is a "good" or "bad" historian, his style of basically regurgitating or even cutting/pasting pages of Stavka reports, etc. is extremely tedious and not particularly insightful. I guess he might be able to draw new insights based on his research, but I would probably miss them as I skimmed the pages skipping the boring parts.

Rodimstev -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 1:06:03 PM)

hi all,

historic studies are not "a exact science".
a historian has always a point of view about a event and in function of his source he try to devellop arguments in favour about his hypothesis.

David Glantz is the first to have access to soviet archives (but this archives are ot comparable with west or german military archives).
he has the first to write a new point of view about "the great patriotic war". the first point of view wher soviets are not just "barbarians"....

with time, it is now easier for another people to access new documents, and of course new point of view.
but don't forget his enormous work about this particular war.

for operation Mars, just look the D. Glantz's book : "operation Mars, the great Zhukov Failure"
and after just reading,
ask good questions...

if Mars was a diversion, why the number of soviets soldiers, tanks, artillery are more that force for uranus operation?
in all soviet operation after may 42, the high commissar of strategic operation advince to create a real concentration of force for a offensive....

for my point of view, we have now a great luck to have in our hands this documents and for this thanks M. D. Glantz.


Pelton -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 2:08:29 PM)

Poeple have trouble dealing with change. When the change is counter to most of the stuff they have been reading for yrs.

It takes about 20 years before poeple can reflect back on something like a war, presidents, econemys ect ect.

To say WW2 has not been loaded with a ton of politics from 45 to 91 is just plain lieing to themselfs. Poeple had reputations to defend, those poeple are now all dead.

So in general now we can take a look at the data without all the East vs West drama

We can finally compare German and Russian records and get a picture of how things were between 41-45 on the eastern front.

Less drama and more data finally after 60 years.

Glantz is not perfect by any means, but its more then easy to ripe holes in any book now writen before 1991, most if not all are based on 50% politics.

I read as much as I can on books writen after 91 as they tend to be based on records from both side. Any Russian data before 1991 is loaded with politics to support the east or west point of view.

Not sure why your so down on Glantz, change is good.

Good thing some dude thought out side the box based on data and figured out the world was round and not flat. He did not fit the political mold at the time but was right.

I think he was tring to teach the Pope from the Book of Isaish were it says the Earth is a circle ( circle are round ), the oldest writings from that book have been dated at about 400 BCE and that book is part of the scrolls found.

Change is good even if it is recycled old news without the politics.

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 3:52:15 PM)

In truth this business about Mars is open to interpretation; the Soviets (now Russians) have always claimed it was diversionary in intent and achieved its goal. Glantz, after some fairly exhaustive OOB analysis concludes otherwise. I myself am not really sure what the operational intent was. Both interpretations are plausible and have precedents to back them up.

We'll never be completely sure until we get more archive access. (Putin's Russia is going backwards in this regard as in many others.)

But the title of this thread is pure 100% trolling. (How does this debunk an entire body of work consisting of dozens of books covering the whole war by a controversy that covers only a single battle?) Micheal has allowed his bizarre dislike of Glantz -- a historian he has hardly even read much less understood -- to overcome sober analysis.

kg_1007 -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 4:03:19 PM)

I think as noted above, Glantz is simply one of the people who have had access to records. I do not think it is correct to , also, put 100% stock in Soviet records,which were just as political/propagandized as the German side was. But the lesson I would take, is that you cannot look at EITHER one, as "the facts"..BOTH sides told the story as they wanted it told. So, I also have seen some "Glantz worship" here, I guess..but I never would entirely take either side, over the is always best to read the entire thing, from both sides, realizing what each's perspective was, and then find the likely truth, usually somewhere in between, as neither side could see the other's that well, while writing their own.

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 4:24:36 PM)

A good example of a major diversionary effort that was an operational fiasco yet achieved a major strategic goal would be Tolbukhin's attempt to crack the Mius line in July of 1943. This was a major effort (although not on the scale of Mars) that failed dismally to achieve its immediate object. Tolbukhin himself was disappointed in the results and felt he mismanaged the battle and could have forced a bridgehead.

Yet STAVKA pronounce itself more than satisfied with the results, and Vasilevsky commended Tolbukhin for his efforts; the offensive attracted considerable German attention and diverted an entire panzer corps to the south away from the Kursk area. This in turn made it possible for Voronezh and Steppe Fronts to crack the Belgorod line and take Karkhov in August. By the time this panzer corps got back to its original location the damage was done and it was too late to restore the situation.

Mars may have been something similar. Or not. The sheer scale of it implies more than a diversionary effort. But nobody can be really sure about it. If the scale was huge, so was the payoff, Uranus was a game changer. However large Mars was and however much of an operational fiasco it turned out to be, it is difficult to argue against it on strategic grounds. Even if this was an ex post facto justification (which nobody can really be certain of) it's a pretty good one.

swkuh -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 4:45:16 PM)

Well, glad I am that this discussion has become more reasonable. [:)]
[:-] Still, I'm surprised that there's so much angst over different historical views.

[&o] As I read the forums for game playing insights, not philosophy of history, I wonder if any who follow alternative historical representations would offer some remarks about how this game should be changed because of their different analysis.

[X(] In fact, be nice to know how one understands the historical POV of the WitE game. Let's see, Germans went East and the Soviets went West. Think I'm safe about that and agree with WitE. Hmmm... at what point does WitE offer questionable details?

marcpennington -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 5:54:45 PM)

I would probably take with a grain of salt anything Beevor says about Glantz and particularly Operation Mars. The New York Review of Books savaged Beevor's Stalingrad for among several factors not taking into account Glantz's work on Operation Mars as well as such omissions as minimizing Vasilievsky's role. In a series or letters afterwards, Beevor defended himself and came off as rather a twat... I'm sure he has been waiting for the first opportunity to take a pot shot at Glantz in further retaliation. Any one who has ever been around academia knows the drill.

So that said, I would look directly to what these "Russian historians" have said about Operation Mars and what their sources were, rather then Beevor's interpretation of them. Beevor strikes me as a fine writer but one whose historical interpretations are hardly of the most analytical variety. I haven't looked at his survey of WW2, but from the reviews of it I've read it sounds like more along the line of his previous books. As Flavius mentioned above, an excellent analytical overall history is Weinberg's A World at Arms, particularly for the diplomatic and intelligence side of the war, even if it can be a bit maddening in its repetitiveness.

Schmart -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 7:50:23 PM)


But to summarise. Glantz concludes that Mars was a coequal offensive conducted simultaneously with Uranus.

The evidence that Beevor presents makes it very clear that Mars was a diversion to aid in the success of Uranus.

Its not just a simple mistake of fact on Glantz's behalf. Its a totaly wrong conclusion drawn from inadequate research of the material available. This kind of failing, IMO brings in to question his work overall.

A totally wrong conclusion? The difference between a "coequal offensive" and a "diversion" is largely ambiguous, and very much open to interpretation. A simultaneous offensive on another part of the front is by its very nature diversionary, whether or not it's actual intent is to divert. That's part of the whole point of launching multiple attacks/offensives...

Debate on this kind of strategic level is always open to interpretation as the players involved (commanders, politicians) often want to make sure that history views them in a certain light, so actual actions can vary from documented or intended/planned actions, or vice versa.

To condemn (or praise) an author for a position that typically requires a certain degree of interpretation and hold that condemned or praised 'interpretation' as unequivocal fact, is IMHO reactionary and narrow minded. Relying on a single author/source (whoever or whatever that may be) is not good history/research anyways...

Beevor's new interpretation may be good for debate and get the creative juices flowing, and that's what some of us history buffs like to look for. But to sh*t on a guy for one issue like this, is a bit much Michael.

PS: I'm neutral on Glantz. I only got 'Clash of Titans' a few months ago (my first Glantz Book), so I don't know much about the guy.

danlongman -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 8:17:28 PM)

"I don't give a rats about other writers. There is a weird Glantz worshiping thing at this site. Here is some proof Glantz is sloppyI read one of his books. Won't be wasting my time reading anymore.
Its a totaly wrong conclusion drawn from inadequate research of the material available. This kind of failing, IMO brings in to question his work overall.
But it just cemented what I already thought about Glantz's work. "

Just a summary of a few quotes found above. I have to read MORE of Glantz' writings now....after I stop scratching my head

Aurelian -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:12:00 PM)

Troll thread.

Some people, (and they know who they are.), would rather games like this only use what was available in self serving German memoirs or from other German only sources.

I'm rereading "Absolute War" and have found some errors. Like the IL-16 fighter in 1941? (Wut?? It didn't come out til 1945, and was a scaled down IL-10). Should I suspect the entire book? There's even some pages where proof reading was needed. So should I?

Operation Mars is open to interpretation. But to claim that Glantz and all his works are open to question because another author has a different conclusion indicates an agenda.

IIRC, it isn't even in Liddel Hart's "History of the Second World War." So I guess the entire book is suspect.

Is this suspect?

"Named after the Roman God of War, Operation Mars formed the centrepiece of Russian strategic designs in the autumn of 1942. Its scale and ambitious strategic intent made Operation Mars at least as important as Operation Uranus and likely more important."

Would you really use your best general on a diversion?

elmo3 -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:29:43 PM)


ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

In truth this business about Mars is open to interpretation; the Soviets (now Russians) have always claimed it was diversionary in intent and achieved its goal....

Maybe because the operation really was a failure and tarnished the otherwise brilliant career of Zhukov?


ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

Glantz, after some fairly exhaustive OOB analysis concludes otherwise....

Yup. I have his Mars book and pages 373-377 summarize the OOB's for both operations as well as a few others in that time period. The numbers for Mars and Uranus look pretty even to me. I don't have the Beevor book but artillery ammo alone, even if the numbers he cites are correct, certainly wouldn't tell the whole story. More likely it's just a further attempt by Russian "historians" to cover for Zhukov.

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:42:05 PM)

Well the question of intent is a squishy one, Lee, and we don't have any smoking gun here. Glantz has strong circumstantial evidence. But it is circumstantial. It looks a lot like a main effort, but once again I point to Tolbukhin's Mius offensive in 1943. That was pretty real looking, too...and yet turned out to be a fairly elaborate piece of maskirovka. (So elaborate that Tolbukhin himself didn't realize he was being used as a diversion. Now that's deep. Crazy Ivan is crazy.)

On balance I think Glantz is probably right, because it's hard to believe the Soviets would go so far for mere maskirovka and could probably have achieved similar results with less cost in blood and treasure. But you can never really be sure.

And it almost doesn't matter. The ex post facto justification (if that's what it was) does work here -- Mars did lock down AGC and to that extent did aid Uranus, and Uranus was so decisive -- the decisive operation of the entire war, full stop -- that it excuses a lot. Some kind of demonstration by AGC probably was a good idea, even if that wasn't the actual intent.

Klydon -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:43:00 PM)

Michael is right about Glantz and this site. Read enough of the threads around here and Glantz is held up above all others by some posters as the be all to end all authority of the eastern front.

I don't necessarily agree as far as going for a "troll" thread or that Glantz is worthless (I would disagree with that), rather Glantz should be like other sources/authors and that is confirmation from other sources is a good thing, especially if something seems to be way out there. (Panthers with 88's.. heh).

Flaviusx -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:47:42 PM)

Klydon, it's a troll thread. When somebody pulls a single passage from a single book and claims that this invalidates a full body of work consisting of literally dozens of books, all but one of which have nothing to do with the cite, that's a crashing non sequitur in the service of a troll.

Michael hates Glantz. To an irrational extent.

A useful and interesting conversation can be had about Mars, there's genuine controversy about it, but that's not the conversation that Michael started here.

turtlefang -> RE: Debunking the Glantz myth (7/27/2012 10:56:41 PM)

Many of you have raised some interesting and very valid points. As a WW2 historian for over 35 years - and one who reads and speaks Russian (poorly but with great determination) - the opening up the Russian achieves in 1991 caused major re-writes in how we understood the Eastern front.

1) Glanzt, despite anyone's opinion, is recoginized as the one of the foremost living authories on the WW2 Eastern front in North America. He's challenged and caused many theories to be re-written in the last 20 years and open new insight in that area.
2) As with any historian, Glanzt has developed his POV and sometimes it blinds him to other views on a subject. This is the single most common failing of any historian, and, IMO, most human being. A gentleman earlier in this discussion pointed this out and he's right on target.
3) Beevor doesn't have the same body of work or primary research that Glanzt has yet. And he hasn't added the same new insights that Glanzt has added to the Eastern Front debate. He's a creditable source, but simply doesn't have the same stature that Glanzt has yet.

4) On Mars, we will never "know" the answer. Too many records either aren't avaliable, or have been altered. But based on the operational planning records that have been released, we know the following about the operation:

a) It was originally planned to jump off 30 days before the Uranus operation. Due to logistics delays, it actually jumped off two days AFTER the Uranus operation.
b) It was to consist of approximately 1.5 to 1.8 million troops - counting reserves - in the offense. The defensive battles at Stalingrad, combat losses, and logistic strains kept reducing this number. The final offense resulted in approximately 500,000 to 600,000 troops - and very few if any reserves were committed.
c) The 30 day delay in the start date resulted in the offense taking place in terrible weather conditions, creating an inability of to supply the troops, and no break out occured.
d) The entire Soviet front suffered from a sever heavy artillery ammo shortage during this period - and ammo was diverted constantly from one part of the front to Stalingrad and, later Uranus as it become successful, from other parts of the front.

So, based on this information, you can literally make a case that both Glanzt and Beevor are both right. Glanzt because the operation was originally plan as a major offensive; Beevor because operationally, the Soviets simply couldn't execute two major offensives of this scale at the same time. Or, that both are wrong depending on how you want to picture it.

And, as another gentleman pointed out, you need to read multiple POVs to get a good grasp of what happening - and different, creditable POVs are best. Most of want to believe that history not subject to differences of opinion and its black and white - unfortantely, most history is more in the shades of gray. So I would recommend taking as many views as possible and measuring them against each other - it's usually interesting at the same time.

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