OMER BARTOV. THE HISTORIAN AS POLITICIAN
Omer Bartov and the Nazification of German Society
Just as there are watershed events in history, so too are there such events in the writing of it. One of the latter was the publication in 1985 of The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, German Troops and the Barbarization of Warfare, by Omer Bartov. Bartov originally submitted The Eastern Front as his DPhil thesis at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, in 1983. Academicians quickly lionized both Bartov and his work for having shed new light on the crimes of the Wehrmacht. For Bartov, the adherence of the German Army to the racist Weltanschauung of Nazism explains both the eagerness of common German soldiers to participate in the mass slaughter of Soviet prisoners of war, and Russian, Ukrainian and other Soviet civilians, and Jews, as well as their resolve to continue to fight even after the war had turned against Germany and its defeat was inevitable.
On this page we have previously addressed the validity (or lack thereof) of Bartov’s underlying assumption in The Eastern Front, namely that the conduct of the war, and particularly the conduct of the war against the Soviet Union, by the German Army was uniquely barbarian in nature. Our present effort is to consider whether The Eastern Front adequately supports his general thesis on the Nazification of the German Army and German society. In doing so, we must discuss the three German units that Bartov purports to analyze in both works, 12.Infanterie-Division, 18.Panzer-Division, and Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland. Before looking at these units, however, it will be useful to have some background on the German Army.
Over the course of the war, Wehrmacht infantry formations, or rather the individual soldiers that composed them, were called up in thirty-five “waves” (Wellen). In general, it can be said that the higher the wave number, the more reduced in size was the division, and the lower the quality of the equipment, troops and weapons. Over time, the number of men in a division steadily dwindled from nearly 18,000 at the beginning of the war to about 11,000 at its end. Local responsibility for administering these call-ups resided in each of the seventeen Wehrkreise into which the Reich was divided. There were four basic incarnations of the German infantry division; only the first three incarnations are of relevance, since the fourth version of the German infantry division (Wellen 33-35) came about in December 1944 and very few such formations took the field before the end of hostilities.
The first iteration of the German infantry division (Wellen 1-20) comprised “M1939” divisions; these were built along the model of the 1918 German infantry division, with three infantry regiments totaling nine battalions, and an artillery regiment, with support troops. The main differences between the 1918 version of the German infantry division and its 1939 counterpart were brought about by technological advances. Although there were nominal standards for the configuration and armament of German infantry divisions, in fact because of chronic shortages in men and equipment, conformity to any standard was a rarity. For example, the organization of 258.Infanterie-Division, which took part in the invasion of Poland in September 1939, generally followed the “standard”. This division totaled just over 15,000 men with 10,000 rifles, 450 machine-guns, 75 anti-tank guns, 20 infantry guns and 48 artillery pieces. It had over 4,000 horses, 900 motor vehicles and 529 motorcycles. However, 19.Infanterie-Division also took part in the campaign in Poland, but in this division there were some organizational anomalies. In 19.Infanterie-Division each regiment’s anti-tank company had 12 anti-tank rifles (Panzerbuschen) in place of the customary 4 anti-tank cannon. The division’s anti-tank battalion also varied from the norm in that it had a motorized anti-aircraft company with 12 20mm anti-tank cannon and three anti-tank companies, each with 12 37mm anti-tank cannon and 6 machine guns. There were over 16,700 men in this division, 1000 motor vehicles and 4782 horses.
Beginning in the autumn of 1943, German infantry divisions began to be formed as “Type 44” or “neuer Art” divisions. This was the second iteration of the German infantry division. Wellen 21 through 28 were formed along this pattern, which was constructed around three infantry regiments totaling six battalions and an artillery regiment of four battalions. The 1944 Type infantry division was substantially reduced in size, with a total of 12,500 men, or a reduction in manpower of almost 27% from the 1939 infantry division. It continued to have three rifle or Grenadier regiments, but these now comprised two battalions each instead of three. The artillery regiment was also reduced in size. An example of the 1944 Type division is 77.Infanterie-Division, which moved to the Normandy invasion front beginning on June 8, 1944, possessed on that date of 9,095 officers and men and 1,410 Russian Hiwis or “volunteers”. It had two infantry regiments of three battalions each.
After the failed attempt on Hitler’s life in July 1944, a third iteration of the German infantry division came into being, in the form of the Volks-Grenadier-Division. These formations (Wellen 29-32) had a nominal strength of 10,072 men in three regiments of two battalions each, and an artillery regiment of four battalions. An effort was made to compensate for the shortfall in manpower by a greater use of automatic weapons and personal anti-tank weapons, namely the Panzerschreck and the Panzerfaust. The artillery battalions, however, were of greatly reduced strength, with three of the twelve batteries consisting of outmoded 75mm light field guns in place of three batteries equipped with 105mm howitzers.
Like the infantry divisions, German armored (panzer) divisions underwent several structural changes during the Second World War. And like the infantry divisions, the organization of the panzer divisions was marked more by disparity than by consistency. It may generally be said that the most consistent element in the panzer divisions was the makeup of its armored element, particularly its tank companies. In September 1939 the panzer division included a tank brigade of two regiments. It was intended that the panzer division also have an infantry (Schutzen) brigade of two motorized infantry regiments. The distinctions between the theoretical TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment) for the German panzer division in 1939 and the reality can be seen in the makeup of the six panzer divisions that took part in the Polish campaign. The first of these was 1.Panzer-Division, which had only two battalions of infantry, instead of two infantry regiments, but was unusually strong in tanks, with a total of 309. 2.Panzer-Division and 3.Panzer-Division were virtually identical to 1.Panzer-Division in structure and strength, although both of the former had 328 tanks.
4.Panzer-Division was also involved in the Polish campaign, and also had but one infantry regiment. Its artillery regiment, however, had only 2 light battalions. 5.Panzer-Division, the strongest armored division in Poland, had 12,779 men and 328 tanks. Its additional strength is accounted for by the fact that it had two infantry regiments in its infantry brigade, making it the only panzer formation in Poland to conform to the theoretical TO&E for an armored division. The smallest armored division in Poland was 10.Panzer-Division, at 7217 men and 164 tanks. It was in fact an amalgam of various GHQ troops (including Panzer-Regiment 8), as well as units detached from other divisions.
A restructuring of the armored element in panzer divisions took place before the French campaign. The same panzer brigade structure remained, the brigade being composed of two regiments of two battalions. Each battalion, however, now had a different force structure, including a mixed tank company. Several of the panzer divisions that had campaigned in Poland now had fewer tanks; this was a result of the continued expansion of the Panzerwaffe. The six Panzer divisions that had fought in Poland (1., 2., 3., 4., 5. and 10.Panzer-Dvision) now had added to their number four new formations, 6., 7., 8. and 9.Panzer-Division.
The distinctive quality of individual Panzer divisions continued in the battle of France. 1.Panzer-Division took part in Fall Gelb; it still had only one infantry regiment. It did, however, now have a heavy anti-tank battalion in addition to its normal anti-tank battalion, and a Flak battalion. The division had 256 tanks and just over 13,000 men. 3.Panzer-Division had only one infantry regiment (of three battalions) as well and lacked a heavy anti-tank battalion. The division’s total number of tanks was 280. 4.Panzer-Division now had an infantry brigade of two regiments. It began the battle with 354 tanks and had a total manpower of 14,000. 7.Panzer-Division, on the other hand, had only one tank regiment of three battalions with a total of 225 tanks, and two infantry regiments. It also had two Flak battalions.
Reconfiguration of panzer divisions continued as the war progressed. 6.Panzer-Division, which operated with Army Group North during Operation Barbarossa, possessed a structure very close to that called for by the official TO&E. It had a panzer regiment of three battalions, an infantry brigade with two regiments, an artillery regiment of three battalions, and reconnaissance, engineer and signals battalions. 6.Panzer-Division, however, also had an anti-aircraft battalion and an anti-tank battalion. The division had 239 tanks (including command tanks); at least 132 of these were Czech 38(t)s, thoroughly obsolete armored vehicles obtained by the German Army following the takeover of Czechoslovakia. 3.Panzer-Division had a nearly identical structure, although it lacked the organic anti-aircraft battalion. It had 215 tanks, over half of which were the very lightly armed and armored PzKw IIIs.  4.Panzer-Division, structured like 3.Panzer-Division but lacking a third panzer battalion, had only 177 tanks, 105 of which were PzKw IIIs. Indeed, there was no uniformity in German panzer divisions for the invasion of the Soviet Union. 7.Panzer-Division was another formation with three panzer battalions; it had 265 tanks, including 170 Czech 38(t)s and 53 PzKw IIs. Unlike its sister formations, however, it also included a motorized Flak battalion. Of the remaining fifteen panzer divisions involved in Operation Barbarossa, seven (8., 19., 12., 20., 17., 18. and 9.Panzer-Division) had panzer regiments of three battalions, and eight (1., 10., 14., 11., 16., 13., 2. and 5.Panzer-Division) had only two battalions of panzers. Of the latter eight divisions, six had fewer than 150 tanks (including 5.Panzer-Division, which had only 103 tanks).
When the Germans began their second summer offensive in Russia, on June 28, 1942, there were twenty-five Heer panzer divisions, plus the Grossdeutschland-Division, nominally a motorized infantry division, but in structure a panzer division. The armored formations in these divisions varied greatly. Eight divisions (1., 2., 4., 17., 18., 19., 20., and 25.Panzer-Division) had only one panzer battalion or its equivalent. Eight more (5., 6., 7., 8., 10., 12., 15. and 21.Panzer-Division) had two panzer battalions, and the remaining nine (3., 9., 11., 13., 14., 16., 22., 23. and 24.Panzer-Division) each had three battalions. The number of authorized tanks in a division varied as well. Most two-battalion divisions were authorized 195 tanks; but the 8. and 12.Panzer-Division were authorized only 151 tanks each, while the 15. and 21.Panzer-Division were authorized 207. Four divisions (8., 19, 20. and 22.Panzer-Division) still were equipped with the Czech 38(t) in large numbers, in spite of the proven inadequacy of these vehicles to combat conditions in Russia.
An entirely new panzer division organization came into being in late September 1943, referred to as the Panzer Division 43. This division had a panzer regiment of two battalions, two panzergrenadier regiments of three battalions each, a signals battalion, a Pionier battalion, a Flak battalion, a reconnaissance battalion and a panzerjaeger battalion. The division also had a motorized artillery regiment of two medium and one heavy battalion. In the panzer regiment, the first battalion’s four companies were each to have 22 PzKw V Panther tanks; in the second battalion, each company was to have 22 PzKw IV.
The last iteration of the German panzer division came in the form of the so-called “Panzer-Division 1944”, instituted in August 1944. The panzer regiment’s two battalions were again divided between PzKw IVs and PzKw V Panthers; however, at least provisionally, each company of tanks was to include only 17 vehicles. In the Type 1944 panzer division each panzergrenadier regiment was to include a self-propelled gun company, and the panzerjaeger battalion was also to be self-propelled. In the divisional artillery regiment as well, one battalion was to be self-propelled.
The first division considered by Bartov is 12.Infanterie-Division. 12.Infanterie-Division formed at Schwerin in October 1934, camouflaged for reasons of security as Infanteriefuehrer II. It adopted its authentic designation as 12.Infanterie-Division a year later, and mobilized in July 1939 with Infanterie-Regiment 27, 48, and 89 (each of three battalions) and Artillerie- Regiment 12 (also of three battalions) along with one additional battalion from Artillerie-Regiment 48. After taking part in the invasion of Poland, the division was posted to Siegberg during December. In January 1940 the division released for expansion purposes a battalion from its Infanterie-Regiment 48, its Field Replacement Battalion, one battery from Artillery-Regiment 48, and additional troops. The replacement battalion was used to create the third battalion, Infanterie- Regiment 303, 162.Infanterie-Division, a unit raised in the 7th Wave. The following month, the division gave up the second battalion, Infanterie-Regiment 48, to create the first battalion, Infanterie-Regiment 508, of 292.Infanterie-Division, an 8th Wave formation. In November, one battalion from Infanterie-Regiment 27, a battalion from Artillerie-Regiment 12, and three additional batteries from the same regiment all left the division. In December 1940 a third of the division (including the staff of Infanterie-Regiment 27, as well as the third battalion of Infanterie-Regiment 27, 48 and 89 respectively) was given to the 110. Infanterie-Division. While 12.Infanterie-Division was able to replace all of these units, it was forced to assimilate and train sufficient men to reconstitute an artillery battalion, four battalions of infantry, and four additional batteries of artillery. It remained without a Field Replacement Battalion for fifteen months, until March 1941. When 12.Infanterie-Division began the campaign in Russia, therefore, it did so with a substantial number of soldiers (nearly half of its infantry and a third of its artillerymen) who were relatively new to the division.
12.Infanterie-Division did not live a posh existence. In the Polish campaign it attacked from East Prussia, advancing to the river Narew, then crossing the river Bug at Brock and finishing the campaign at Ostrow-Kolbiel. In the western campaign 12.Infanterie-Division went through Belgium and Luxemburg, advancing to Lille, crossing the Somme, Seine and Loire and finishing the campaign at Vendee. The division’s prowess in combat was well respected. In July 1940 it was designated to be among initial assault wave in the abortive invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion.* 12.Infanterie-Division transferred to East Prussia shortly before the launch of Operation Barbarossa, in which it operated as part of Heeresgruppe Nord. There it formed part of II.Armeekorps under 16.Armee. In Operation Barbarossa, the division crossed through Lithuania to fight at Kholm, south of Demyansk, and the Valdai Hills. In 1942, it fought near Lake Ilmen at Starya Russa, and was then entrapped in the Demyansk Pocket from March until December. In February 1943 12.Infanterie-Division escaped the Demyansk Pocket, but remained in the line without respite fighting on the defensive. In October 1943 12.Infanterie-Division was reconstituted as a Type 44 or “neuer Art” formation. In June 1944 the division was destroyed in Russia along with most of the rest of Army Group Center. In August/September 1944 it was converted to a Volksgrenadier division, and denominated as 12.Volks-Grenadier-Division. It was destroyed in April 1945 in the Ruhr kessel.
The war in the east steadily wore away the substance of 12.Infanterie-Division, as it did with every other German unit that fought there. After four months participation in Operation Barbarossa, Infanterie-Regiment 89 disbanded three of its companies (nos. 3, 5 and 11) owing to losses of manpower. In September 1942 Infanterie-Regiment 27 disbanded its 5th and 6th Companies, and created a bicycle company (no. 15) with their remnants. In the same month, Infanterie-Regiment 48 disbanded its 12th company and created its own bicycle company (also No. 15) with what was left of it. Again in September 1942, Infanterie-Regiment 89 disbanded its entire first battalion. In October 1942, the division’s infantry regiments were renamed Grenadier Regiments, and two months later, new Grenadier-Regiment 27 was retitled again, this time as Fusilier- Regiment 27. Its new identity did not particularly favor Fusilier- Regiment 27; in April 1943 it was forced to disband two of its companies (nos. 7 and 8), and in September its entire second battalion.
Bartov’s second division of interest is what he calls “the Grossdeutschland Division”. As Bartov’s treatment of “the Grossdeutschland Division” is somewhat narrowly defined, a bit more detail on the unit is warranted. As Bartov correctly points out, the division in question stemmed from Infanterie-Regiment Grossdeutschland, an elite formation created in June 1939 from Wach-Regiment Berlin, which was itself created in June 1937. Both of these antecedent units were initially ceremonial in nature, and were composed of those soldiers in the German Army who were determined to be most adept at drill. On October 1, 1939, Infanterie-Regiment Grossdeutschland became motorized, and thus redenominated as Infanterie-Regiment (mot.) Grossdeutschland. This unit took part in the invasions of France, Yugoslavia, and Russia. In April 1942 the regiment was determined to be of such little value as a fighting force that it was sent home to Germany to be rebuilt.
As it happened, however, the return of Infanterie-Regiment (mot.) Grossdeutschland to the Reich coincided with the implementation of an earlier decision to create an entirely new unit, Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland. This unit was an infantry division in name only; indeed, it was constituted as an armored division, and a very powerful armored division at that. In addition to its two regiments of infantry and single regiment of artillery, the division disposed of both a tank battalion and a battalion of assault guns (sturmgeschuetzen), as well as a motorcycle battalion, an anti-tank battalion, and a battalion of anti-aircraft guns. Twelve months later, the division took on its final identification as Panzergrenadier-Division- Grossdeutschland.
The Grossdeutschland began the French campaign with about 3900 men of all ranks. It suffered 1108 casualties (twenty-five percent of its actual strength), including 221 men killed in action, 830 wounded, and 57 missing. In early spring 1941 the regiment fought in the Balkans and Yugoslavia before joining in the invasion of the Soviet Union, where it took another 4000 casualties between Jun 22, 1941 and the end of the year. Because of these losses, the regiment’s 2nd Battalion was disbanded at the beginning of February 1942, and the survivors split up among the other battalions, a process that was repeated two weeks later. In early April what remained of the Grossdeutschland was removed from the front lines and eventually sent to Germany for rest and refitting. There it formed the core around which the other elements of the new Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland coalesced. 
In late June 1942, the Wehrmacht undertook new offensive operations in the Soviet Union. The fighting power of the Heer had been much reduced by the previous summer’s offensive action and the winter battles that followed. As a result, the strategic aims of the new offensive were more restricted in scope, seeking not the direct overthrow of the Soviet regime and the destruction of its army, but instead the securing of the vast mineral and agricultural wealth of the Ukraine, as well as the oil reserves of the Caucasus, so that these considerable assets might be harnessed to the Nazi war machine. The early success of the new offensive seems to have convinced Adolf Hitler that his armies had regained their invincibility, so much so that in a fit of optimism he decided that both the Donbas and the Caucasus could be taken simultaneously. In order to do so, the Fuehrer split his forces, tasking one group with seizing Stalingrad and the surrounding territory, and ordering the other southward toward the oil fields. Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland belonged to the latter force, eventually fighting itself out near the confluence of the rivers Don, Sal, Donets and Manych, east of Rostov and south of Stalingrad. In August the division was relieved and sent northward to Smolensk, where it soon became enmeshed in bitter defensive fighting near Rzhev. There it remained, fighting from September until the end of the year against repeated Soviet attacks. In 1942 Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland suffered the loss of an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 men, or between fifty-five percent and seventy-five percent of its nominal strength. 
The Grossdeutschland spent nearly the rest of the war in continuous defensive fighting, beginning with the collapse of the German offensive at Kursk in the summer of 1943, and ending in Berlin in May 1945 with the unconditional surrender of Germany. Because of its recognized fighting prowess, Panzergrenadier-Division- Grossdeutschland (as it now was identified) and its “sister” formations formed a sort of “fire brigade” to be used as needed to staunch the grinding advance of the Red Army. The cost to Grossdeutschland throughout this period was enormous; in the period from mid January to mid April 1945 alone, the division reckoned its losses at almost 17,000 men.
18.Panzer-Division is the third and final unit considered by Bartov. 18.Panzer-Division was created in October 1940 from parts of 4 and 14.Infanterie-Division. It spent its entire service life with Army Group Center in Russia, and was disbanded there in October 1943, owing to the substantial losses in men and equipment it had suffered during Operation Citadel and its aftermath. As mentioned above, 18.Panzer-Division began Operation Barbarossa with three battalions of tanks. A year later, following its refitting for the second summer campaign in the Soviet Union, the division’s Panzer-Regiment 18 had sufficient men and materiel for but one battalion. When 18.Panzer-Division crossed the Russian border it possessed 218 tanks; six months later it had 87 tanks. The winter of 1941-1942 did not really enable 18.Panzer-Division to recoup its losses. As the German Army began its summer offensive on June 29, 1942, 18.Panzer-Division’s lone tank battalion fielded only 47 tanks. Even when it had been brought up to the highest possible standard in preparation for its role in Operation Citadel, 18.Panzer-Division could only manage to put 72 tanks in action.
After briefly introducing the reader to each of these divisions, Bartov goes on to describe in what appears to be a fair amount of detail the experiences they shared in the east, with particular reference to the amount and significance of casualties, the effect on the troops of harsh living conditions, and what he calls “discipline and morale”. The casualties, and consequent manpower shortages, suffered by the three divisions in question during their respective times in the east are perhaps the most significant data. Concerning 12.Infanterie-Division, Bartov estimates that between the end of June 1941 and the end of August 1944 the division suffered about 31,000 dead and wounded, or approximately one hundred seventy-seven percent of its authorized establishment; his estimates for Panzergrenadier-Division Grossdeutschland and 18.Panzer-Division are two hundred to three hundred percent and more than one hundred percent respectively. Bartov illustrates the effects of these losses on each division with graphic examples derived from their respective war diaries.
For our purposes, the most important thing about the evidence that Bartov submits of casualties, horrid living conditions at the front, and the combined effect of both of these on the morale of these troops is the conclusions he draws from them, especially with regard to the “remarkable resilience and stubborn determination manifested by most of the units we have surveyed”. Bartov is first at some pains to discredit the explanation offered by Edward A. Shils and Morris Janowitz, namely that the German Army was resilient and determined not because of the “National Socialist convictions of its members”, but because of the loyalty of the individual soldier to his “primary social group”, the men of his unit with whom he was in constant physical touch. According to Bartov, there were “inherent weaknesses” in the evidence relied upon by Shils and Janowitz. First, Cohesion and Disintegration relied too much on the testimony of German prisoners of war. These witnesses, according to Bartov, were “biased” and did not represent the point of view of “soldiers still fighting at the front.” This statement makes no sense whatever. Were Bartov’s “logic” to be accepted, testimony from the lips of a German soldier about combat motivation would never be credible since (a) if the soldier were a POW, his opinion would be “biased” and unrepresentative of the soldier at the front, and (b) if the soldier were fighting at the front, the likelihood that an academic would be permitted to interview him about his combat motivation would be infinitesimal. And, in what way would the testimony of a German POW on the subject of combat motivation be “biased”? Put another way, if Shils and/or Janowitz asked a given POW “why did you fight until the bitter end”, the POW might have responded with any one or more of many alternative explanations, e.g., “I loved the Fuehrer and everything he stood for, and was ready to die for him”; or, “I wanted to prevent my mother, wife and sisters from being raped”; or, “I believed that unless we all fought together, we would all die together”; or, “American terror fliers burned up my family, and I wanted revenge”; or, “both my brothers were killed in action, and I would have been ashamed not to do my duty”; or……………. What “bias” would have influenced the POW’s choice of answers?
According to Bartov, Shils and Janowitz also failed to take into account the fact that casualties in the east were much greater than those in the west, with the result that German units in the east suffered greater physical and psychological effects from such casualties than did units in the west. Once again, Bartov’s “logic” is shaky indeed. It does not follow that German units in the west in 1944-1945 suffered less from the effect of casualties than did German units in the east in 1941-1945 because their foes in the west were Anglo-Saxon capitalists in contrast to the Slavic-Asian socialists they fought in the east. For example, in the fighting on the Normandy invasion front, 3.Fallschirm-Jaeger-Division suffered 4,064 casualties between June 6 and July 12, 1944. On July 10, 77.Infanterie-Division was reported to have lost 1,840 men in action. Between June 6 and June 24, 1944, 91.Luftlande-Division lost eighty-five percent of its infantry, twenty-one percent of its artillery manpower, seventy-six percent of its combat engineers and forty-eight percent of its anti-tank personnel. 243.Infanterie-Division lost 8,189 officers and men between June 6 and July 11, 1944. It had 700 men in action on July 10; on July 23, 1944 it was rated at kampfwert V, the lowest possible combat rating. Between June 6 and July 11, 1944, 352.Infanterie-Division suffered almost 8,000 casualties; by the end of July it was regarded as no longer capable of combat. Clearly, the survivors in these divisions in the west would have been just as shell-shocked as their comrades in the east. And if, as Bartov correctly points out, it is difficult to speak of a stable “primary social group” with regard to divisions which lost between one hundred and three hundred percent casualties over three years fighting, it is equally difficult to conceive of such a stable group in units which incurred fifty to eighty percent casualties within a period of three to six weeks time. Bartov’s conclusion that group loyalty “does not seem to constitute a sufficient explanation” for the resilience and fighting determination of German troops in the field is therefore open to very serious question.
It is equally futile to contend, argues Bartov, that the resilience and determination of German soldiers resulted from the fact that “war is hell”, a “struggle for survival”, wherein any man may “become an animal”. Here, Bartov concedes that German soldiers in the east fought for their and their comrades’ lives, may not have surrendered out of fear of Soviet retribution, probably did not desert out of fear of punishment by their own officers if they failed, and considered that fighting offered them the best chance of survival. For Bartov, however, none of these things represents sufficient explanation for the resilience and determination of German troops
…to fight for years on end in a foreign and hostile land, with the imminent danger of death lurking behind every tree and hill and to endure the most terrible physical and mental hardship, without believing that all this was necessary for the achievement of some ‘higher cause’, however confused and nonsensical, let alone inhuman, it may seem to us today. (emphasis added)
In this instance, of course, the “higher cause” to which Bartov alludes is embodied in Adolf Hitler and the fascist, genocidal and murderous image of the world that he represented.
There are a number of compelling responses to Bartov’s argument on this point. One of them is to point out that the exemplar of German speechifying on the subject of the “higher cause” for which Wehrmacht soldiers fought is Guy Sajer’s The Forgotten Soldier. Suffice it to say that the provenance of The Forgotten Soldier has been since its publication, and continues to be, a question of considerable debate. This is not to say that the sort of “pep talk” given by Hauptmann Wesreidau to Sajer and his comrades never occurred in reality, only that in this particular instance Sajer’s description of it may or may not be historically accurate. More significantly, however, there is simply no correlation between the ideological commitment of particular soldiers to a “higher cause” and their willingness and capacity to fight for years in foreign and hostile lands, under conditions of terrible hardship, and with the constant hazard of death or serious wounding. There are innumerable instances in military history which demonstrate this proposition. The armies of Alexander the Great were in the field for a decade, conquering much of the then-known world. Many Roman legions spent year upon year at the edges of the Empire----in Syria, Gaul and Germany, for example----defending as well as enlarging it. More recently, German troops spent over four years on French and Russian soil respectively, in the most ghastly conditions imaginable, exposed minute by minute to the threat of death and horrible wounding. In none of these cases, as in many others, did the soldiers involved endure their suffering because of their adherence to what Omer Bartov would consider to be an ideological “higher cause".
 Omer Bartov, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare, 2nd Ed. (Palgrave, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK, 2001).
 Awender, Christoph. World War II Day by Day. April 29, 2005. http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/. 258.Infanterie-Division, Polen 1939. 258.Infanterie-Division was a formation of the 4th Welle, and came into being in August 1939. It originated in Mecklenberg/Pomerania, and thus fell within the authority of Wehrkreis II, with its headquarters in Stettin.
 Ibid. 19.Infanterie-Division, Polen 1939. 19.Infanterie-Division was a 1st Welle formation raised in Wehrkreis XI, with its headquarters in Hannover. The division was transformed into 19.Panzer-Division in November 1940.
 U.S. War Department. Handbook on German Military Forces, 94. George F. Nafziger. The German Order of Battle Infantry in World War II, (Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 2000), 32-33. Werner Haupt. Das Buch der Infanterie. (Friedberg, Germany, Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, 1982), 121-122.
 Niklas Zetterling. Normandy 1944. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc., 2000), 229-231. 77.Infanterie-Division was a 25th Welle unit assigned to Wehrkreis V with its headquarters in Stuttgart.
 Niehorster, Dr Leo. World War II Armed Forces Orders of Battle and Organizations. April 29, 2004, http://ordersofbattle.darkscape.net/site/ww2/drleo/index.htm. German Army. Organization Infantry Division (1st Wave) In Accordance with the 1939/1940 Mobilization Plan.
 Awender, Christoph. World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/. 1.Panzer-Division Polen 1939. Dr Leo Niehorster, German World War II Organizational Series volume 1/I Mechanized Army and Waffen-SS Units (1st September 1939), (Dr Leo W.G. Niehorster, Hannover, Germany, 1990), 12.
 Niehorster, Mechanized Army and Waffen-SS Units (1st September 1939), 26, 42. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 38-51. See, Awender, Christoph. World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2004, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/. Gliederung 2.Panzer-Division Polen 1939.
 On 4.Panzer-Division, see Awender, Christoph. World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/. Gliederung 4.Panzer-Division Polen 1939. Niehorster, Mechanized Army and Waffen-SS Units (1st September 1939), 58-69; Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 51-52.
 Niehorster, Mechanized Army and Waffen-SS Units (1st September 1939), 70-82. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 55-56. 5.Panzer-Division was raised in Wehrkreis VIII headquartered in Breslau. On 10.Panzer-Division, see Niehorster, Mechanized Army and Waffen-SS Units (1st September 1939), 136-144. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 78-80.
 Jentz, Panzertruppen. The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany’s Tank Force 1933-1942, 107-108.
 On 1.Panzer-Division, see Awender, Christoph, World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/, Gliederung 1.Panzer-Division “Fall Gelb”. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 34-35. Regarding 3.Panzer-Division see Awender, Christoph, World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/, Gliederung 3.Panzer-Division “Fall Gelb”. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 48-49. Nafziger’s figure for total tanks available to the division on May 10, 1940 is 341. Gliederung 4.Panzer-Division “Fall Gelb” is found in Awender, Christoph, World War II Day by Day, April 29, 2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/. See also Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 52-53. Nafziger gives a total of 314 for tanks available to the division on May 10, 1940. For 7.Panzer-Division, see Awender, Christoph, World War II Day by Day, April 29,2005, http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/, Gliederung 7.Panzer-Division “Fall Gelb”. Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 64-65. In command of 7.Panzer-Division in France was Generalmajor, later Generalfeldmarshall, Erwin Rommel, one of the most famous military commanders in the twentieth century. The home of 7.Panzer-Division was Wehrkreis IX, headquartered in Kassel.
 Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 62-63. Helmut Ritgen. The 6th Panzer Division 1937-45, (London, UK, Osprey Publishing Limited, 1984), 15-17. The figure given for total tanks in the division is provided by Ritgen; Nafziger provides a slightly higher figure at 245.
 Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 48-49. In command of 3.Panzer-Division at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa was Generalleutnant, later Generalfeldmarshall, Walter Model.
 Ibid, 52-53. Commanding 4.Panzer-Division on June 22, 1941 was Generalmajor, later General der Panzertruppe, Willibald Freiherrr von Langermann und Erlenkamp. Von Langermann was killed in action on October 3, 1942 near Storoshewoje, Russia, while leading XXIV.Panzer-Korps.
 Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 66-67.
 Ibid, 33-130.
 Dr Leo Niehorster, German World War II Organizational Series volume 4/I. Mechanized Army Divisions (28th June 1942), (Dr Leo G. Niehorster, Hannover, Germany, 1994), 38-39.
 Thomas L. Jentz, Ed. Panzertruppen. The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany’s Tank Force 1943-1945( Atglen, PA. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996), 53.
 Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 27-29 Jentz, Panzertruppen. The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany’s Tank Force 1943-1945, 159.
 Georg Tessin, Verbaende und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945, 16 Vols. (Osnabrueck, Germany, Biblio Verlag, 1974), v.3, 234-236.
* In September 12.Infanterie-Division was moved from the assault wave to the invasion’s second echelon.
 Tessin, Verbaende und Truppen, v.3, 234-235; Terry et al, German Army Order of Battle, 46.
 Georg Tessin, Verbaende und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945, 16 Vols. (Osnabrueck, Germany, Biblio Verlag, 1980), v.14, 98-99.
 Ibid, 94-95.
 Horst Scheibert, Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland (Warren, MI, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1977), 11-42; Helmuth Spaeter, Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland (Friedberg, Germany,
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag GmbH, 1984), 7-54; Michael Sharpe and Brian L. Davis, Grossdeutschland Guderian’s Eastern Front Elite (Hersham, Surrey, UK, Ian Allen Publishing Ltd., 2001), 16-32.
 Sharpe and Davis, Grossdeutschland, 32; Scheibert, Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland, 76.
 There were numerous “sister” formations to Panzergrenadier-Division- Grossdeutschland. Some of these units, like Panzer-Division-Kurmark, Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland, and Panzergrenadier-Division-Brandenburg, could trace their lineage directly from Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland. Other “sister” units, such as Fuehrer-Grenadier-Division and Fuehrer-Begleit-Division, derived indirectly from Infanterie-Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland through Fuehrer-Begleit-Bataillon, a formation created in October 1939 to provide an Army escort for Adolf Hitler’s field headquarters in parallel with the Waffen SS escort from the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. In accordance with the traditions of the German armed forces, such elite formations with ties to the head of state were obliged to earn their status through a trial at arms.
 Scheibert, Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland, 173.
 Georg Tessin, Verbaende und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945, 16 Vols. (Osnabrueck, Germany, Biblio Verlag, 1976), v.4, 93-94; Schmitz, et al, Die deutschen Divisionen 1939-1945, 57-63.
 Nafziger, Panzers and Artillery in World War II, 123-125.
 Bartov, The Eastern Front, 7-35.
 Ibid, 36. See, E.A. Shils and M. Janowitz, ‘Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II’, Public Opinion Quarterly, XII (1948): 280-315.
 Bartov, The Eastern Front, 36.
 Zetterling, Normandy 1944, 218, 231, 240, 243 and 278.
 Bartov, The Eastern Front, 37-39.
 Ibid, 38.
 Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier (New York, NY, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967).