Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Volksgrenadiers of 1944: a future thought after Bakmut


The summer of 1944 was a crucial turning point in World War II, particularly for Germany. Having suffered significant defeats on both the Eastern and Western Fronts, Germany was in a critical situation. The need for new combat divisions and units became dire, leading to the creation of the Volksgrenadiers. Drawing parallels to the current battle of Bakmut, where the Ukrainians face a similar challenge, this article explores the historical context of the Volksgrenadiers and how civilian blocking troops might be the last attempt for Ukraine to hang on after the fall of Bakmut.

The Volksgrenadiers of 1944: As Germany's military situation worsened in 1944, the German army faced severe shortages in manpower and resources. In an attempt to bolster their front lines, they created the Volksgrenadiers. These divisions comprised a mix of combat veterans, conscripts, and even older men deemed unfit for regular military service. The Volksgrenadiers held vital positions and blocked the advancing enemy forces, allowing other units to regroup and strengthen the defence.

Modification and Challenges: The Volksgrenadiers faced numerous challenges due to the strategic emergency and the need for more men and materials. These divisions often needed more training, equipment, and supplies to effectively engage the enemy. Their ranks were filled with inexperienced soldiers, and the shortages meant they needed to be equipped to withstand sustained combat. However, despite these limitations, the Volksgrenadiers demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination despite overwhelming odds.

Parallels to the Battle of Bakmut: Fast forward to the present, and Ukraine is in a similar situation in the battle of Bakmut. After the fall of Bakmut, a critical city, the Ukrainian forces are under immense pressure. They need to find ways to hang on and prevent further enemy advancements. One potential strategy could be deploying civilian-blocking troops, drawing inspiration from the Volksgrenadiers.

Civilian Blocking Troops: In desperate times, unconventional measures may become necessary. Just as Germany employed civilian-blocking troops in 1944, Ukraine could consider utilizing civilian volunteers to form blocking units. These individuals could be drawn from the local population, trained in basic combat skills, and deployed strategically to slow down enemy advances. Although lacking in formal military training, their presence could buy valuable time for the Ukrainian forces to regroup, reinforce their positions, and plan their next steps.

Challenges and Considerations: Implementing civilian blocking troops would only be with challenges. Lack of military experience and training would be a significant hurdle. However, these civilian volunteers could be mobilized effectively with proper training, guidance, and support from experienced military personnel. Their knowledge of the local terrain, language, and culture could prove advantageous, allowing them to blend in and navigate the region more adeptly.

Furthermore, the civilian blocking troops must be adequately equipped and supplied to carry out their tasks effectively. Providing primary weapons, communication tools, and logistical support would be critical in enhancing their capabilities and effectiveness on the battlefield.

The historical example of the Volksgrenadiers in 1944 provides valuable insights into the potential utilization of civilian blocking troops in Ukraine's battle of Bakmut. While it is unconventional, employing local volunteers could offer a last-ditch effort to resist enemy advances and provide vital time for the Ukrainian forces to regroup and strategize. However, careful planning, training, and resource allocation would be necessary to optimize the effectiveness of these civilian blocking units. Ultimately, the outcome of the battle of Bakmut will depend on the collective efforts and determination of the Ukrainian forces.



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