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Thread: The 5 Greatest Generals of World War 2

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    Major Australiana's Avatar
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    The 5 Greatest Generals of World War 2

    While I'm not terribly sure that this belongs here, I feel like mixing it up a bit. So, who do you regard as the 5 greatest generals of World War 2? Please put them in order, 1 through 5, and include at the end an 'honourable mention' to a general who didn't quite make your top 5.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    1. Rommel
    2. MacArthur
    3. von Manstein
    4. Zhukov
    5. Patton

    Honorable mention: Airo

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    This will inevitably be moved to History forums but:
    (in no specific order)
    - Zhukov
    - Guderian
    - Arthur Harris
    - Rommel

    Rommel was as an individual IMO the best but he held pretty insignificant posts regarding the overall progress of the war. Rommel at the Eastern Front would've been epic.

    BTW we need "worst generals" list too. Keitel, Kulik, Voroshilov..
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    First Lieutenant panzerslet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Australiana View Post
    While I'm not terribly sure that this belongs here, I feel like mixing it up a bit. So, who do you regard as the 5 greatest generals of World War 2? Please put them in order, 1 through 5, and include at the end an 'honourable mention' to a general who didn't quite make your top 5.

    Thanks
    1. Heinz Guderian
    2. Erich von Manstein
    3. Walter Model
    4. Erwin Rommel
    5. Albert Kesselring

    I do not see a allied or sovjet commander in the top 10 but as honourable mention it would be William Slim

    edit:> Zhukov was a political commissar a butcher not a strategist




  5. #5
    Major Australiana's Avatar
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    1. Erich von Manstein
    2. Heinz Guderian
    3. Erwin Rommel
    4. Albert Kesselring
    5. Gunther von Kluge

    (Honourable mention to Felix Steiner: Unheralded, but very capable, and very influential)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by panzerslet View Post
    edit:> Zhukov was a political commissar a butcher not a strategist
    Zhukov invented blitzkrieg

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    1. Von Manstein
    2. Guderian
    3. Slim
    4. Model
    5. Rommel

    Monty doesn't get on, and Patton most certainly doesn't. Zhukov took a few too many casualties for my liking, but as he's a Soviet general he can afford them, so I wouldn't really say he was awful.
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    1. Erwin Rommel
    2. Heinz Guderian
    3. Erich von Manstein
    4. Georgy Zhukov
    5. MacArthur

    imo Most Western generals are slighty overrated, especially the Americans as they there tactics were not overly original, relying on superior tech as well as the average force that they were facing.

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    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Rommel had a great ambition, but it clouded his view of reality IMO, as he repeatedly ignored logistical constraints in North Africa (he realised his mistake later, but it was too late). He was a notable tactician, but a general who ignores logistics shouldn't be included in the top 5.

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    Major Australiana's Avatar
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    I don't rate MacArthur at all. Hype over substance.

  11. #11
    I look at two things here: military tactics and strategic value. They can be totally separate.
    Some generals such as MacArthur have had huge influence in the world, especially the influence spheres of the Pacific region, while some have mainly done well in tactics without influencing the big picture at all (such as Rommel).

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    Major Australiana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiiloN View Post
    I look at two things here: military tactics and strategic value. They can be totally separate.
    Some generals such as MacArthur have had huge influence in the world, especially the influence spheres of the Pacific region, while some have mainly done well in tactics without influencing the big picture at all (such as Rommel).
    "Doug's Communique's".
    MacArthur was a self-serving and vainglorious individual who was more finely attuned to how he was being represented in the press than he was any military situation. If Rommel had had the resources that MacArthur had at his disposal, well...

  13. #13
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    Not in order:
    -Rokossovsky
    -Konev
    -Kutakov (1st Guards Tank Army)
    -Von Manstein
    -Guderian
    -Von Rundstedt

    Honourable mention:
    -Kirponos. If Stalin listen to him and his reports of the German invasion, they would not have even reached Kiev.
    -Finnish Winter War generals I'm unaware of
    -British Battle of Britain generals that I'm unaware of

    Lets not forget Zhukov butchered Rzhev-Vyazma (and all chance of a Soviet offensive in 1942). He held the same posts as Timoshenko and had the same victories (minus Khlahin gol and 1945). He just had propaganda value in the USSR for being Russian and the main marshal. And why the obsession with Rommel? He failed in Africa, failed in Normandy and was insignificant in the overall war. If anything he was just popularised by the British to make North Africa seem important.

    Edit: honourable mention
    Last edited by Bogdan.ua; 24-06-2012 at 14:16.

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    I also wouldn't put any Western or Soviet general in the top 5, and I'd say the top 5 are:
    1. Guderian
    2. Manstein
    3. Model
    4. Rommel
    5. Kesselring/Schweppenburg

    actually, Rokossovskiy would be one Soviet general I'd put in there...unfortunately he always gets killed in the purges....

  15. #15
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    And why the obsession with Rommel? He failed in Africa, failed in Normandy and was insignificant in the overall war. If anything he was just popularised by the British to make North Africa seem important.
    To be fair, Rommel cannot be blamed for the defeat in Normandy. In fact, his analysis of the situation was correct - he knew that the Allies had to be opposed at the beaches and that when they managed to secure a beachhead, containing them would be almost impossible. The Axis situation in 1944 was hopeless, anyway. The African Campaign is a different story. I wouldn't call the theatre unimportant - obviously it was much smaller in scope than the Eastern Front for logistical reasons, but that's obvious. If the Axis was more successful, they could at the very least delay the invasion of Italy. The problem was that Rommel repeatedly ignored the real capabilities of the Axis in Africa. What you WANT to have or achieve is one thing, but what you have and what you get is sth completely different.

    Germany didn't lack tactical and operational victories in 1941-1943. It lacked STRATEGIC victories.

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    Moved to the history-forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogdan.ua View Post
    And why the obsession with Rommel? He failed in Africa, failed in Normandy and was insignificant in the overall war. If anything he was just popularised by the British to make North Africa seem important.
    This and

    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    The problem was that Rommel repeatedly ignored the real capabilities of the Axis in Africa. What you WANT to have or achieve is one thing, but what you have and what you get is sth completely different.
    This.

    Rommel should not be anywhere near the top 5. Even his tactical skills are somewhat questionable. He repeated the same (suicidal) recipe in North Africa until the British and later the Americans knew his tricks inside out. Resulting a military defeat far more devastating than the destruction of the 6. Armee in Stalingrad.

    And anyone who outright dismisses all of the Soviet generals is a fool. In the end they were the ones who defeated the Wehrmacht and their poster boy panzer generals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogdan.ua View Post
    -Finnish Winter War generals I'm unaware of
    Mannerheim is always a safe bet. His overall record between 1903-1946 is more than just impressive.
    Though I would give more credit to the Finnish army and generals for what they achieved in 1941 and 1944 than for the Winter War.
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    So in light of all that, Cyber, you would put him in your top 5 greatest commanders of WWII? We have to at least to some extent judge generals based on results. And he had practically none (I know, 1940 France, blitz, blah blah). And I say North Africa was not significant because even if axis won there, even if they took Egypt, even if they took the battle to the middle east, nothing in the course of the war would have changed.

    More on Rokossovskiy, who was inches away from getting executed basically for being Polish, but for some divine reason Stalin spared him. And unlike Zhukov who was always given priority and the best Shock/Tank armies, he had nothing. In 1941 he basically commanded hastily formed, demoralised penal units. But wherever he went, the USSR had its best victories. Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, Bagration, Berlin.

    edit: Finnish, why do you hate Kulik so much I don't really know what he did in WWII. He was famed for his commanding Red Army militias and artillery in the civil war. He was also Stalin's buddy from that time when Stalin was in charge of supply/agriculture in Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad/Volgograd)
    Last edited by Bogdan.ua; 24-06-2012 at 15:02.

  19. #19
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    So in light of all that, Cyber, you would put him in your top 5 greatest commanders of WWII?
    I said that he shouldn't be included in the top 5. Maybe in the top 10 or top 20, but not top 5.

    Every military needs good tacticians, but the thread is called "The 5 Greatest Generals of World War 2", not "The 5 Greatest Tacticians of World War 2". Only those who were (relatively) all-around good should be included in the equation.

    And I say North Africa was not significant because even if axis won there, even if they took Egypt, even if they took the battle to the middle east, nothing in the course of the war would have changed.
    I disagree, but it's not the thread for that kind of discussion.

  20. #20
    Demoralised penal units are the best because they either win or perish. So if you happen to win with them, well.. you had no retreat..

    Harder to go from victory to another with elite troops, because you cannot waste them. It's wise to sometimes take a small tactical defeat. Only a fool would send the most expensive tanks everywhere. A good player knows when to fold.

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