Tuesday 1 November 2016

Cheating at Statistics 16: Back in the MiusSR

I explored the overclaim of German tank forces at the Mius Front previously, but Nipe's book is a gift that keeps on giving. For instance, the depiction he gets from German sources of the attack on July 22nd against Kalinovka hits every trope in the book: "swarms" and "waves" of Red Army forces, "deadly 88s" (Nipe goes on for an entire paragraph about using the Flak 36 to destroy T-34s from 3000-3500 meters, while actual anti-tank manuals instructed German artillerymen that it took 2-3 shots to hit a T-34 at 500-600 meters). The artistic description of the attack goes on for quite some time until we get to the part we care about: "The losses were ignored, until, in less than an hour, 130 burning or immobilized T-34s dotted the landscape in front of the high ground".

Well, if you dream, dream big. 130 tanks out of the 140 Nipe claims the Soviet attacked with! Seeing as how a Soviet mechanized corps consists of only 117 tanks (69 of them T-34s), that's an enormous loss delivered on just one day. Let's take it all the way to the top and see what the Southern Front has to say about such an enormous setback.

"Losses of our forces on July 22nd, 1943
  • Men:
    • Killed: 216
    • Wounded: 919
    • Missing: 8
  • Horses
    • Killed and wounded: 8
  • Materiel
    • Guns: 3
    • Tanks: 5
    • Planes: 22
Losses in tanks over 6 days of fighting from July 17th to July 22nd, 1943: 180 tanks in total. Of those 96 were lost irreparably (4 KV, 65 T-34, 25 T-70, 2 T-60)."

So much for 130 burning and immobilized T-34s. Not only is this figure leaps and bounds higher than actual Soviet losses, it's extremely unlikely that 72% of losses from almost a week of fighting would come from just an hour long engagement. When you consider 30-40 tanks from the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps that were allegedly knocked out the day before and the 78 tanks claimed on July 17th, this figure becomes less and less believable.


  1. Nipe´s number is almost certainly in error and not substantiated by german primary sources. In the whole area, the number of kill claims (not credited, note: claims)of AOK6 was 105 for the whole day -all fighting areas- and 356 for the period 17th to 22nd. This number was not corrected for multiple claimants yet.

    That being said, the number of personal missing in the soviet loss report, too, is confirmedly incorrect as AOK 6 registered and processed 215 PoW and deserters on July 22nd, alone.

    Apparently, someone on the soviet side played down losses. This begs the question how reliable the other loss figures on this paper are...

    1. You really are a one trick pony, aren't you. Like always, all historians are wrong, only you have the right information!

  2. Not always, but frequently. Historians are humans and do make mistakes. All their accounts are per defintion secondary sources of primary source material and may contain errors of interpretation or lack of command of these materials.
    When a historian claims x without discussing any ambivalence and I check the primary source relvant for this question showing something else than x, I am damn right to critisize the historian.

    1. That is certainly a valid point.

      It is, however, rather marred by your tendency to treat German primary sources as gospel without discussing any ambivalence...

  3. Not exactly. If it comes to primary sources -except claims- I used to keep my trust but verify habit -and this goes to all sides. That doesn´t mean primary sources are gospel beyond criticism on their own but You need other primary sources to directly challange them and a good explenation from the specific context, too. When it goes to secondary accounts I have become to be sceptical -and probably for good-

    1. You keep assuming that you alone have all the information and no one else has any: Western historians are mistaken, Russian historians are biased, Soviet primary documents are wrong, German primary documents are... whatever that very imaginative narrative you came up with in the T-28 post comments... basically the way you've situated yourself, you are always right, and everyone else is always wrong.

    2. Yeah, not to dig bygones too much but I'm kind of holding the manifest failure to think through and reality-check the implications of your overly literal reading of mere terminology in that whole T-28 thing as severe evidence against the soundness of your judgement.

      And the way you initially knee-jerked in that shell debate didn't exactly leave a good impression either...

      More relevantly both prior cases somewhat conflict with that claim to adhering to commendable enough principles you're making here. :/

    3. What narrative in the T28 thread? That You don´t understand the german terminlogy and readily jump to exclusive conclusions in violation to what was written?

      Are You critisizing me for Your mistakes again or, are You critisizing me for making Your mistake public? What exactly, Mr. Samsonov?

      I do never laid claim that I know everything. But that being said, I do claim to have access to relevant archival material and use this capacity to expose mistakes in this blog.

    4. As was already expounded at length in that argument, reconstructing that incident according to the literalist reading of the German terminology you kept insisting on (but did not, in fact, ever prove relevant) would require a scenario that not only makes no sense but is also *physically impossible*.
      On multiple counts.
      And physical laws being an awful lot less flexible than terminology nevermind now its use and interpretation it's rather self-evident which take loses by default.

      Anyway, the point is that against such a background of pig-headed pedantry beyond all reason don't expect people to be terribly keen on engaging with your nitpickery.

    5. That´s simply not correct and demonstrating Your lack of understanding.

  4. His name should be Critical Moron.

  5. The west likes to make up bullshit, no big news there.
    Anything to make them Socialists look bad