Thursday 1 August 2013

Cheating at Statistics 4

I have gone over intentionally misleading reports before, but sometimes, the forgery isn't fudging numbers to make yourself look good, but merely a matter of believing your own propaganda.

One such event occurred during the Demyansk operation. A Soviet force attacked the village of Lesser Opuyevo, knocked the Germans back to Greater Opyuevo, and left a small garrison of paratroopers in the village. During a German counterattack, the battalion commander was captured. In his interrogation, Tarasov was questioned on the losses to his unit. His statement was as follows:

"At Lesser Opuyevo, the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Brigade was completely destroyed. Losses at Lesser Opuyevo were at least 300."

Without bothering to establish the losses that were actually sustained, the Germans wrote that same amount for the losses of their enemy by April 1st, 1942: 300 killed at Lesser Opuyevo. The Germans themselves claim a loss of only 3 soldiers.

Everything seems to check out, until you start combing through Soviet losses. Turns out, the losses of the entire battalion were less than 200 men in both March and April, a fraction of those at Lesser Opuyevo. The German records themselves betray their poor estimates: the "fierce battle" yielded only 3 submachineguns as trophies. A Soviet award order reveals a more realistic layout of the battle:

"Fomichev Sergei Yakovlevich ... showed cleverness, inventiveness, and skill. After taking the village of Lesser Opuyevo, he remained in the village with 8 other soldiers and 40 wounded men. Over 9 days, the garrison held the village, and repelled the German attacks. Fomichev assumed the role of a commandant, organized a defense and patrols, every day leading the soldiers into an attack to destroy the fascists. Over 9 days under the command of comrade Fomichev, 150 fascists from the "Death's Head" division were destroyed, as well as 4 vehicles with ammunition, 13 motorcycles, 3 bicycles, and one radio station."

Fomichev is listed as leaving the village with his 8 healthy men and 31 wounded. A loss of 9 is a far cry from the 300 the Germans claimed to have killed.


  1. Hi, were you able to find evidence for those "150 fascists" in German documentation?

    1. David M. Glantz "The Ghosts of Demiansk": "After heavy combat, in which about 200 men were killed, the remainder of the German garrison withdrew to Greater Opyuevo".

  2. I think you trust too much the soviet sources..both sides lied for obvious reasons...

  3. How about these facts:

    “We established the number of irreplaceable losses of our Armed Forces at the time of the Great Patriotic War of about 13,850,000.[40] A more recent compilation made in March 2008 of the individuals listed in the card files puts total dead and missing at 14,241,000 (13,271,269 enlisted men and 970,000 officers)[41] This database is incomplete and does not include all men killed in the war; currently graves registration teams in Russia are identifying war dead that are not currently included in the database”
    Sergey Aleksandrovich Il’enkov – Graduated from the Kalinnin Suvorov Military Academy, the Higher Military Academy, the Moscow State Historical-Archival Institute. Assistant chief for scientific work of the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Co author of many scientific works on the history of the Great Patriotic War.
    Voennno-Istoricheskiy Arkhiv
    No. 7(22), 2001, pp. 73-80″

    1. Peter never has denied that. How does this relate to this specific story?

  4. Or how about fact studied by Hannu Valtonen in his book "Luftwaffe's northern flank":

    Luftwaffe pilots were overclaiming 1:7 to 1:10 in nothern Finnish Lapland and Ruija (Norway) in 1944 against Soviet VVS pilots while VVS-pilots had overclaim of 1:15 or 1:16 during the same period. Both air forces of dictatorship had the highest overclaims during the whole WW2. In generally all WW2 air forces had at least 1:2 or 1:3 overclaim rate.

    Hannu Valtonen managed to check one of the few quite reliable loss figures of VVS at that northern battlefield.

    I won't take any stories of any flying aces of any air force at face value.