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History: Horses in the Wehrmacht

 
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History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/10/2011 7:27:31 PM   
Q-Ball


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Interesting Tidbit I found on another forum, as I was interested in Horse replacements, etc, even though it's not modelled in the game:

From an article by R. L. DiNardo and Austin Bay, entitle Horse-Drawn Transport in the German Army , from the Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 23, No. 1.

...by 1939, the German army possessed some 590,000 horses...[the German army] was still primarily dependent on horses, of which Poland was to supply the majority, to the tune of 4000 per week in April of 1940 [...]The campaign [in the west] was also a major boon for the German army's horse situation, as access was now gained to the valuable horse-breeding areas of Holland, Belgium and Normandy [...]By June 1941, the army in the east had assembled some 625,000 horses. Of these, the single largest concentration was in the Fourth Army (twelve infantry and one security divisions), which by 13 June 1941 possessed some 130,000 horses, over 20 per cent of the total number.

Although the campaign [in the east] opened for the Germans with a series of brilliant successes, a number of problems were encountered. During advances in the hot Russian summer, German forces had to make frequent stops - some at great length - in order to water their horses. Worse problems were encountered with providing food, particularly in Army Groups North and Centre. Hard fodder had to be shipped to units through the supply system, creating an additional burden on an already overstrained network.The horses most affected by the food shortage were the heavier western breeds, which were also unaccustomed to the Russian climate. The Russians had large numbers of horses, but these could not be used immediately. The 'panje'* horses were hardy animals, but too light to pull the standard 105 mm artillery gun**. Also, the standard German horse-drawn vehicle was made of steel*** and was too heavy for the Russian horses. It was only after the Germans produced a lighter vehicle - or took Russian wagons - that Russian horses could be used cost-effectively [...]

The winter of 1941 produced the greatest crisis. Horse losses in Army Group Centre had reached about 1000 per day [...]

The standard German infantry division (1939 pattern) required anything from 4077 to 6033 horses to move. However, German divisions rarely had more than 150 horses in reserve. Moreover, German veterinary hospitals, which could handle from 500 (divisional veterinary company) to 550 (army hospital) horses, were swamped, often having to treat 2-3000 horses at one time.

Yet the Wehrmacht survived. Replacements and captured horses were sent to veterinary collecting stations for medical examination. Horses no longer fit for military service but able to work were evacuated and later sold to farmers. Those too weak to be evacuated were slaughtered for meat. Measures like these enabled the army to endure, even though the Germans lost a total of 180,000 horses during the winter of 1941.

For the fateful campaign of 1942, the German horse situation looked better. Over 200,000 horses were brought in from Germany and the occupied countries, although only about half of them had arrived at the front by May. Since the major offensive operations were to be conducted in the south, the divisions in Army Group South obtained the full complement of horses [...] by 1942 the Germans were using much lighter vehicles, or wooden carts, which allowed them to make use of the large number of Russian horses in occupied areas [...]

By 1 February 1945 the Wehrmacht was able to deploy some 1,198,724 horses [...] From 1940 to 1943, the German army requisitioned a total of 1,200,000 horses from Germany and the occupied territories (see the table I've posted below) [...]The total number of horses lost by Germany during the war was estimated at some 1,500,000.[...]

The Wehrmacht's reliance on horses was also deeply felt in European agriculture. The most immediate effect, of course, was on horse population. Equally obvious was the fact that those areas where campaigns were hardest-fought lost the most horses. The Soviet Union's horse population was decimated. From a total of 21,000,000 in 1940, by 1943 the number had fallen to a low of 7,800,000, a drop of almost two thirds. Of the 11,600,000 horses in occupied territory, some 7,000,000 were 'killed or taken away'.

In the west, the horse population in Belgium and the Netherlands fell as Germany's needs increased. In Belgium, the number of horses in agriculture fell from a pre-war 1929 high of 266,433 to a low in 1944 of 222,781**** In the Netherlands, the total number of horses during the war actually increased, although the number of horses in agriculture declined considerably, from 326,000 in 1940 to 302,000 in 1944.



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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/10/2011 7:33:08 PM   
Tarhunnas


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Yep, many people don't realize how horse-dependent Europe was in the 1940:s. (was that spelled correct wonders clueless non-native english speaker?) Another tidbit: In 1924 40% of americans had access to a car. That figure was not exceeded in Western Europe until the 1970:s!

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/10/2011 8:07:58 PM   
cookie monster


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In game message

Howitzer support unit not commited all horses at the hospital!

LOL

Nice post

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/10/2011 8:15:18 PM   
heliodorus04


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Cool info.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/10/2011 11:29:39 PM   
WilliePete

 

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many will probably view the fact that Germany was not a fully mechanized army as a negative, but I can't help to think of all the benefits the horses provided. Since Germany was always in a dire need of petrol, if it weren't for the horses Germany wouldn't be mobile at all. They provided mobility in all types of weather and conditions when their vehicle counterparts was not up the task.

If used strategically horses could not only be a beast of burden, but also a mobile & fresh food source. I'm sure the acquisition of horses was at the top of the list of things to do when a certain sector of Russia fell into German hands...


< Message edited by WilliePete -- 2/10/2011 11:58:08 PM >


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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 12:24:09 AM   
Smirfy

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: WilliePete

many will probably view the fact that Germany was not a fully mechanized army as a negative, but I can't help to think of all the benefits the horses provided. Since Germany was always in a dire need of petrol, if it weren't for the horses Germany wouldn't be mobile at all. They provided mobility in all types of weather and conditions when their vehicle counterparts was not up the task.

If used strategically horses could not only be a beast of burden, but also a mobile & fresh food source. I'm sure the acquisition of horses was at the top of the list of things to do when a certain sector of Russia fell into German hands...




Germany also had a shortage of manpower and a horse was too labour intensive and inefficent in capacity. The only advantages the horse had over a truck was in that first winter was the German soldiers could eat the horses.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 2:21:13 AM   
Shellshock


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Q-Ball

The 'panje'* horses were hardy animals, but too light to pull the standard 105 mm artillery gun**. Also, the standard German horse-drawn vehicle was made of steel*** and was too heavy for the Russian horses. It was only after the Germans produced a lighter vehicle - or took Russian wagons - that Russian horses could be used cost-effectively [...]


The Germans were pretty impressed by the hardiness of the Russian breeds. The larger German, Hungarian, and Flemish horses were felled by fatigue and hunger, but the scrubby diminutive native ponies survived in subzero temperatures, eating anything, even birch twigs.

During the first months of 1942 some panzer divisions had as many as 2,000 Panje horses but hardly a single serviceable motor vehicle. For that reason they received the nickname "Panje divisions." This unexpected turn of events made the veterinarian the busiest man in any panzer division.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 3:54:16 AM   
Klydon


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Smirfy

Germany also had a shortage of manpower and a horse was too labour intensive and inefficent in capacity. The only advantages the horse had over a truck was in that first winter was the German soldiers could eat the horses.


The Germans may have been short on manpower, but they were also short on supply vehicles, prime movers for artillery and gas to move those vehicles. The horse helped a lot in all these areas and I don't really remember reading much on the Germans scaling back on using horses because of manpower issues.

I also have a reference along the lines of what Shellshock mentioned with Panje divisions and the vet being very busy. Basically the only thing moving in mud with any reliability would be the panje horse and wagon.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 9:05:16 AM   
janh

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Shellshock
During the first months of 1942 some panzer divisions had as many as 2,000 Panje horses but hardly a single serviceable motor vehicle. For that reason they received the nickname "Panje divisions." This unexpected turn of events made the veterinarian the busiest man in any panzer division.


I recall seeing some photos of horses pulling the vehicles out of the mud during Typhoon -- could have been in one of Paul Carells book. He mentioned that horses were quite crucial during that period, not only for getting supply through the mud, and later the deep snow, but even for keeping the armor going... I am surprised at the number of horses the Germans fielded late in the war, though! Fortunately the Germans didn't use them in cavalry charges against armor, as the infamous polish cavalry.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 10:10:05 AM   
Shellshock


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quote:

ORIGINAL: janh
I recall seeing some photos of horses pulling the vehicles out of the mud during Typhoon -- could have been in one of Paul Carells book. He mentioned that horses were quite crucial during that period, not only for getting supply through the mud, and later the deep snow, but even for keeping the armor going... I am surprised at the number of horses the Germans fielded late in the war, though! Fortunately the Germans didn't use them in cavalry charges against armor, as the infamous polish cavalry.


This picture always sums up what January 1942 on the Eastern Front must have been like for me.



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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 10:52:28 AM   
johntoml56

 

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would explain why German Officer training in 44/45 still included horse riding (and down hill skiing and fine table manners); no wonder they lost...

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 11:35:21 AM   
Muzrub


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Shellshock


quote:

ORIGINAL: janh
I recall seeing some photos of horses pulling the vehicles out of the mud during Typhoon -- could have been in one of Paul Carells book. He mentioned that horses were quite crucial during that period, not only for getting supply through the mud, and later the deep snow, but even for keeping the armor going... I am surprised at the number of horses the Germans fielded late in the war, though! Fortunately the Germans didn't use them in cavalry charges against armor, as the infamous polish cavalry.


This picture always sums up what January 1942 on the Eastern Front must have been like for me.






That's how Eastern Europe 2011 still is!



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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 11:55:54 AM   
Grey Hunter

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Muzrub

That's how Eastern Europe 2011 still is!



Including the German Soldiers?

"We will get to Moscow one day Hans!"

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 4:47:11 PM   
cavalry

 

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goodie , lets talk horses!!

Germany had the finest horses in the world. Gerrmany still has the finest horses in the world despite the Russians best efforts to eat the best lines...

I know because I have one, I bought near Munich in 2008 . Decended from the very best, his ancestors must have sadly seen action in Russia.






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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 6:28:09 PM   
Senno

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grey Hunter


quote:

ORIGINAL: Muzrub

That's how Eastern Europe 2011 still is!



Including the German Soldiers?

"We will get to Moscow one day Hans!"


LoL. That's quite the bad left turn in Albuquerque, eh...

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/11/2011 8:57:40 PM   
Smirfy

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Klydon


quote:

ORIGINAL: Smirfy

Germany also had a shortage of manpower and a horse was too labour intensive and inefficent in capacity. The only advantages the horse had over a truck was in that first winter was the German soldiers could eat the horses.


The Germans may have been short on manpower, but they were also short on supply vehicles, prime movers for artillery and gas to move those vehicles. The horse helped a lot in all these areas and I don't really remember reading much on the Germans scaling back on using horses because of manpower issues. I also have a reference along the lines of what Shellshock mentioned with Panje divisions and the vet being very busy. Basically the only thing moving in mud with any reliability would be the panje horse and wagon.



Panzer Leader page 267

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/12/2011 11:05:52 AM   
Muzrub


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grey Hunter


quote:

ORIGINAL: Muzrub

That's how Eastern Europe 2011 still is!



Including the German Soldiers?

"We will get to Moscow one day Hans!"


"We will get to Moscow one day Hans!" or ?

LOL- there probably is some poor Hans pushing a cart through the Carpathians, even veterans need a hobby.


_____________________________

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You better watch out,
There may be dogs about
I've looked over Iraq, and i have seen
Things are not what they seem.


Matrix Axis of Evil

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/12/2011 1:33:10 PM   
Tarhunnas


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Horses ae a lot more labor intensive than motor veichles, the require attention and shelter, they also require large amounts of fodder, much bulkier to transport than gasoline. Also they get ill and die, especially in field conditions. The German army lost roughly the same number of horses as men during the war. The German army in WW2 had about the same proportion of horses to men as Napoleons armies!

The only reason the Germans (and other european armies) used horses so extensively was that there were not enough motor veichles.

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RE: History: Horses in the Wehrmacht - 2/12/2011 1:49:36 PM   
Tarhunnas


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..and I forgot to add, the Germans didn't have the gasoline for more motorized divisions!

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