I am specifically looking for statistics that estimate man for man what Wehrmacht infantry units were worth compared to allied infantry (principally British and American) after the opening of the western front with Operation Overlord.

I have received the statistic that Wehrmacht infantry was 20-30% more effective against the western Allies and up to 2x more effective than Soviet infantry overall. The source of these statistics is unreliable though. I'm providing them here as a suggestion.

I am specifically interested in a statistical analysis of the hard numbers, not a soft analysis of why some units might or might not have been as combat effective.

  • You seem to be presuming that are such "hard numbers"... Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 2:01
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    There are. I know that they exist because I've seen the literature on this subject before. The US Army has some good statistical analysis that is old enough now that its hard to come by. There was a ton of research done after the war on combat effectiveness, see for example the US Strategic Bombing Survey. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 2:21
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    The numbers would shift not just over space but time as well. German troops in Poland in 1939 during the invasion were a lot more effective than their compatriots in 1944 during the retreat for example. And a German soldier on the line at Stalingrad during the initial stages of that campaign was more effective than that exact same soldier a year later, frostbitten, hungry, shell shocked, and fighting a battle he knows is hopeless.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 9:00
  • Hence my typing of the war into theaters. These stats are out there, I just don't have the book or the expertise. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 12:58
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is a resource request for statistical analyses; not a request for an answer to the question. Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 21:53

4 Answers 4


Col. Peter R. Mansoor, author of the well-regarded book "The GI Offensive in Europe", offers this extensively researched and well reasoned conclusion in a lecture on the topic -

A more balanced comparison of German and American forces would compare each organization at its zenith, say, the German army in June 1941 and the American army in April 1945. I submit that one would be hard pressed to choose between the two forces on the basis of technical or tactical proficiency at the division level.

He also discusses the difficulty in comparing infantry to infantry, as the AUS and Wehrmacht had very different tactical doctrines that do not match up neatly, and cannot be separated from their role in combined arms warfare.

  • I would offer that in April 1945 the U.S. was still 'thin in leadership", particularly above the brigade level, compared to the Wehrmacht in June 1941. West Point Class of 1915 - The Class the Stars Fell on* - simply wasn't big enough to supply, at quality, the quantity of senior officers asked of it. This class likely also dominated high command into the mid 1960's, and thus probably also affected the early days of Vietnam adversely. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 20:42

I think you are talking about Trevor Dupuy's modeling as talked about in his book Numbers, Predictions, and War.

While I am skeptical of this kind of thing, I don't think it is controversial that a typical German unit fought better than the typical Allied unit. That's why we brought along more units.

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    That, and it's harder to capture a prepared defensive position than it is to defend it (you have to move less, you have better "terrain" to hide in/behind, you know the terrain, etc.).
    – user31865
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 18:19
  • Fought better - I'd agree earlier in the war, even earlier in western Europe in 44, before the Allies advanced to Germany and their material advantages became obvious to anyone. IMO "fought more effectively" is a definite "yes", what with their automatic weapons, tactical training, and habit of immediate counterattacks. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 17:07

You might want to consider not only the combat effectiveness of the German infantry, but also how it interacts with its support: aviation and artillery fires, and with the tansk that were often helping its counterattacks.

The combat effectiveness of the German infantry depended of the units, but notably you can say that the mountain, Austrian or German borne, infantry had great results against the Allied corpses in Italy.

  • Interesting claim. My father was part of the US 10th Mountain Division; based on both stories he told & the various published histories, they performed at least as well as their German counterparts in the mountains of Italy. Not only did they win their battles & advance steadily northwards, they were trained to patrol & return fire on skis, as well as other mountaineering skills.
    – llywrch
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 15:26
  • Yes but according to the wikipedia page, the 10th Mountain division fought in 1945. This meant two things (supported again in the wikipedia article): First, the division got many lessons from the Italian campaign in its training and equipment, notably vehicles. Second, it fought against different troops, at different location and time that other units in the Italian campaign; and notably the Axis mountain troops at Monte Cassino. Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 9:50

So what is your point? You said the Axis had Mountain/Alpine troops, I named the ones the US had, which obviously performed at least as well as the Axis. Yes, they landed in Italy in January 1945; but they were part of the 1943 campaign against the Japanese in the Aleutian islands; and were scheduled to be part of the invasion of the Japanese home islands (Operation Olympic). Obviously they benefited from other US troops' experiences; so had the units of all armies in that war.

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