In August 2017 the TIK Channel on YouTube posted a video presentation with the title ‘The Numbers Say it All: The Myth of German Superiority on the WW2 Eastern Front’. A few people have asked me what I thought of the video because I have done some work on calculating the Soviet and Axis ROCPs (Relative Overall Combat Proficiency) on the Eastern Front during WWII. The research and work for this is continuing, and it is intended that the results of this will eventually be published in Volume V of ‘Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis’.
The premise of the video is essentially that the common perception of the German/Soviet loss ratios has been exaggerated, as well as the overall Soviet numerical superiority during the war. In essence, this means the Wehrmacht was not actually that superior in terms of overall combat performance, and the numerical odds against them were ‘never really that bad’. The evidence presented in the video relies on two tables from two books, namely ‘The Price of Victory’ and ‘When Titans Clashed’, and to a lesser degree, on selected data from a third book, namely ‘Enduring The Whirlwind’.
Overall, the video made some good points. However, on its own it definitely gives the average person (who may have a cursory, or no significant, knowledge of the War on the Eastern Front) the completely wrong impression. This conclusion was only reinforced after studying the three books in their entirety (as I have copies of all the references used in this video). The following essay encompasses my thoughts on why I don’t agree with the video’s statistics, or the premise they are meant to support. I believe the main premise of the video is wrong at the most fundamental levels, and that the common (historical) perception of the Eastern Front during WWII is probably, after all, closer to being ‘right’ than ‘wrong’.
The essay first examines the sources, and then the actual statistics shown are reviewed. The last section, and perhaps the most interesting, is why the presenter shows a complete lack of understanding of what it actually means to be outnumbered (by even 2 to 1) in a modern war and where both sides have very similar levels of technology.