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  • Case Light Blue

    Reading through Generalfeldmarschall Keitel's interrogation record by Soviet officers at Nuremburg, Keitel mentioned that when the Soviet Southern and South-Western Fronts collapsed during the initial stages of Case Blue - the German summer campaign of 1942, General Maximilian von Weichs, commander of Army Group B, proposed shelving the original objective of Army Group - the advance down along the Don river to Stalingrad - and proposed instead that the entire Army Group wheel around at Voronezh at strike due north, rolling up the Soviet forces deployed south-west of Moscow. Presumably, this would have meant stopping the advance of Army Group A at Rostov and along the Donets river, since the flank protection to be provided by Army Group B along the Don river would not have occurred. If so:
    A. Would I Panzer and XVII Armies (with the support of III Rumanian Army) have been sufficient to hold the German line in the south along the lower Don and Donets rivers?
    B. Would Army Group B (IV Panzer and II, VI Armies with Italian and Hungarian forces) have been sufficient to turn the Soviet flank south of Moscow?
    C. Would a realistic attempt at Moscow been in the cards if the Soviet forces immediately south of Moscow had been rolled up?
    Last edited by Skoblin; 19 Aug 11, 01:44.


  • #2
    Since Stalin and STAVKA were worried about that same scenario the Germans would be doing what the enemy anticipated and had prepared for. At the beginning of July STAVKA had deployed 10 Reserve armies and 2 Tank armies in depth with most of them protecting Moscow from the west and south. As it was it took Stalin some time to agree to release some of these reserves which formed the 62nd, 63rd and 64th Armies* for fighting on the Voronezh-Stalingrad axis (they were in deploying south by mid-July).

    *1st Res A, 5th Res A and 7th Res A respectively, iirc,...I'm on vacation and Glantz's text on this matter is packed away somewhere in the car.
    The Purist

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Purist View Post
      Since Stalin and STAVKA were worried about that same scenario the Germans would be doing what the enemy anticipated and had prepared for. At the beginning of July STAVKA had deployed 10 Reserve armies and 2 Tank armies in depth with most of them protecting Moscow from the west and south. As it was it took Stalin some time to agree to release some of these reserves which formed the 62nd, 63rd and 64th Armies* for fighting on the Voronezh-Stalingrad axis (they were in deploying south by mid-July).

      *1st Res A, 5th Res A and 7th Res A respectively, iirc,...I'm on vacation and Glantz's text on this matter is packed away somewhere in the car.
      I seem to recall you proposing the exact same strategy in my Fall Blau thread. You were in favor of turning north and attacking at Voronezh rather than holding the Don Salient. And I pointed out the exact same thing to you, the presence of 7 armies (2 tank, 1 regular, 4 reserve), behind the front line between Moscow and Voronezh.
      A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Destroyer25 View Post
        I seem to recall you proposing the exact same strategy in my Fall Blau thread. You were in favor of turning north and attacking at Voronezh rather than holding the Don Salient. And I pointed out the exact same thing to you, the presence of 7 armies (2 tank, 1 regular, 4 reserve), behind the front line between Moscow and Voronezh.

        Oops

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Destroyer25 View Post
          I seem to recall you proposing the exact same strategy in my Fall Blau thread. You were in favor of turning north and attacking at Voronezh rather than holding the Don Salient. And I pointed out the exact same thing to you, the presence of 7 armies (2 tank, 1 regular, 4 reserve), behind the front line between Moscow and Voronezh.
          I'm not surprised Gerry would have proposed that: I think it would have been the most rational thing for the Germans to do after the Soviet southern flank had collapsed, rather than spreading themselves thin in an unrealistic attempt to simultaneously seize the entire Caucasus as well as Stalingrad and the Don valley.

          The question, I think, in regard to Fall hell Blau, is whether the Soviet forces between Moscow and Voronezh would have been sufficient to take on the bulk of Army Group B (in the form of the flanking attack from the south) as well as additional pressure from Army Group Center. Considering that the Soviet forces in the south had essentially collapsed (although bitter resistance was still offered in Rostov), Army Group A should have been in a strong enough position to hold the front south of Voronezh without much problem - at least in the short term. This would have freed up the bulk of Army Group B (3 German Armies + 2 Axis Armies) to strike against the 7 Soviet armies mentioned by Gerry, especially considering that at least one of the above-mentioned Soviet tank armies (5 Tank Army) had already been badly mauled in a futile effort to dislodge the Germans in the Voronezh area. Throw in the German II Panzer Army of Army Group Center, and I believe the Germans have a very realistic chance of at least encircling and eliminating the Soviet forces in the Sukhnichi bulge and perhaps following this up with a drive to Tula.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by skoblin View Post
            I'm not surprised Gerry would have proposed that: I think it would have been the most rational thing for the Germans to do after the Soviet southern flank had collapsed, rather than spreading themselves thin in an unrealistic attempt to simultaneously seize the entire Caucasus as well as Stalingrad and the Don valley.

            The question, I think, in regard to Fall hell Blau, is whether the Soviet forces between Moscow and Voronezh would have been sufficient to take on the bulk of Army Group B (in the form of the flanking attack from the south) as well as additional pressure from Army Group Center. Considering that the Soviet forces in the south had essentially collapsed (although bitter resistance was still offered in Rostov), Army Group A should have been in a strong enough position to hold the front south of Voronezh without much problem - at least in the short term. This would have freed up the bulk of Army Group B (3 German Armies + 2 Axis Armies) to strike against the 7 Soviet armies mentioned by Gerry, especially considering that at least one of the above-mentioned Soviet tank armies (5 Tank Army) had already been badly mauled in a futile effort to dislodge the Germans in the Voronezh area. Throw in the German II Panzer Army of Army Group Center, and I believe the Germans have a very realistic chance of at least encircling and eliminating the Soviet forces in the Sukhnichi bulge and perhaps following this up with a drive to Tula.
            Just some questions

            1, How vital was Tula, and what was its main role.
            2, Would Tula be a catastrophic loss for the Soviets.
            3, How would this overplay with other theatres, such as
            3-A/-Army Group Centre recommencing its assault on Moscow
            3-B/-More troops withdrawn from Army Group North to hit Northern Moscow.
            4, What are the prospects of the Soviets to counter a Tripple threat from North West, West and South West.
            5, Could the Axis force encirclement of Moscow.
            6. If Moscow is captured how would this affect both sides.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
              Just some questions

              1, How vital was Tula, and what was its main role.
              2, Would Tula be a catastrophic loss for the Soviets.
              3, How would this overplay with other theatres, such as
              3-A/-Army Group Centre recommencing its assault on Moscow
              3-B/-More troops withdrawn from Army Group North to hit Northern Moscow.
              4, What are the prospects of the Soviets to counter a Tripple threat from North West, West and South West.
              5, Could the Axis force encirclement of Moscow.
              6. If Moscow is captured how would this affect both sides.
              1. Tula was not "vital" - however, it was an important transportation center and had several munitions factories.
              2. The loss of Tula would not have been catastrophic for the Soviets.
              3-A. The possibility of a combined operation between Army Group B and forces from Army Group Center to surround and destroy Soviet forces in the Sukhnichi bulge as well as those elements of the Bryansk front which had not been forced back to the Don by the initial advance during Fall Blau could have weakened the Soviet position before Moscow sufficiently to allow the Germans to carry out the elimination of the Toropets-Kholm-Veliki Luki bulge. Eliminating this bulge would have freed up significant forces for the Germans (as indicated by Operation Buffalo which took place in March 1943). No renewed German offensive against Moscow would have been plausible until this major bulge in their lines was addressed.
              3-B. Army Group North was in no position to allow the transfer of forces to other sectors. In fact, the opposite was occurring, as Army Group North was engaged in a protracted battle against the Soviet 2nd Shock Army west of the Volkhov river.
              4. There would have been no "triple threat" against Moscow.
              5. No encirclement of Moscow was possible in 1942. Leningrad at the very least would had to be eliminated for this to be even a remote possibility. Even then, the Germans would have to secure the entire Valdai Hills region north-west of Moscow for this to be possible.
              6. The Germans were in no position to capture Moscow in 1942.

              IMHO the benefit of what I term Fall hell Blau is that it might have allowed the Germans to rationalize their front line in the central sector to the point that sufficient manpower might be released to deal with Leningrad - not Moscow. Moscow was an impossible goal for the Germans in 1942 IMHO.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by skoblin View Post
                1. Tula was not "vital" - however, it was an important transportation center and had several munitions factories.
                2. The loss of Tula would not have been catastrophic for the Soviets.
                3-A. The possibility of a combined operation between Army Group B and forces from Army Group Center to surround and destroy Soviet forces in the Sukhnichi bulge as well as those elements of the Bryansk front which had not been forced back to the Don by the initial advance during Fall Blau could have weakened the Soviet position before Moscow sufficiently to allow the Germans to carry out the elimination of the Toropets-Kholm-Veliki Luki bulge. Eliminating this bulge would have freed up significant forces for the Germans (as indicated by Operation Buffalo which took place in March 1943). No renewed German offensive against Moscow would have been plausible until this major bulge in their lines was addressed.
                3-B. Army Group North was in no position to allow the transfer of forces to other sectors. In fact, the opposite was occurring, as Army Group North was engaged in a protracted battle against the Soviet 2nd Shock Army west of the Volkhov river.
                4. There would have been no "triple threat" against Moscow.
                5. No encirclement of Moscow was possible in 1942. Leningrad at the very least would had to be eliminated for this to be even a remote possibility. Even then, the Germans would have to secure the entire Valdai Hills region north-west of Moscow for this to be possible.
                6. The Germans were in no position to capture Moscow in 1942.

                IMHO the benefit of what I term Fall hell Blau is that it might have allowed the Germans to rationalize their front line in the central sector to the point that sufficient manpower might be released to deal with Leningrad - not Moscow. Moscow was an impossible goal for the Germans in 1942 IMHO.
                Correct me if i am wrong, but what you are suggesting is that the Germans and their Axis partners basically shorten up their lines in the 1942 summer offensives and then basically hunker down to wait out the 1942/43 winter and then relaunch their offensives in the summer 1943.

                Some observations on your answers.

                You point out that Leningrad must be eliminated, this i agree, the capture of Leningrad and the destruction of the Leningrad Military District would allow Army Group North to be freed up and ordered towards Moscow's North West, not only that but the Germans-Finns can bypass and isolate the Archangel Military District, this only leaves isolated Soviets to hold onto Murmansk as best as they could against German-Finnish and Norwegian forces.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  Correct me if i am wrong, but what you are suggesting is that the Germans and their Axis partners basically shorten up their lines in the 1942 summer offensives and then basically hunker down to wait out the 1942/43 winter and then relaunch their offensives in the summer 1943.
                  I am stating that the German objectives for 1942 should have been:
                  Army Group South:
                  1. Capture the remainder of the Donbass, with a defensive line anchored on Voronezh and Rostov.
                  2. Eliminate Sevastopol and Soviet forces on the Kerch peninsula.
                  Army Group Center:
                  1. Eliminate the Sukhnichi and Toropets-Kholm bulges
                  Army Group North:
                  1. Eliminate the Soviet 2nd Shock Army west of the Volkhov
                  2. Capture Leningrad; however, Leningrad would only have been captured if sufficient forces could be found from other sectors, as AGN lacked sufficient forces to tackle Leningrad on its own. Hence, the need to rationalize the line of AGC.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  You point out that Leningrad must be eliminated, this i agree, the capture of Leningrad and the destruction of the Leningrad Military District would allow Army Group North to be freed up and ordered towards Moscow's North West, not only that but the Germans-Finns can bypass and isolate the Archangel Military District, this only leaves isolated Soviets to hold onto Murmansk as best as they could against German-Finnish and Norwegian forces.
                  I do not think you understand or appreciate either the distances or the terrain involved in the area north-west of Moscow/south-east of Leningrad. Nor do you appreciate fully how long the investiture of Leningrad would take even if AGN were to receive additional forces from AGC (on the basis of the completion of the tasks outlined for AGC above). If AGN could in fact capture Leningrad in 1942, it would consider itself lucky. Any further advance across the Volkhov towards either the Finns or towards AGC would require the transfer of forces, as well as significant resupply, refitting and replenishment after a fight for Leningrad. As Paulie Walnuts would say...fugetaboutit!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by skoblin View Post
                    I am stating that the German objectives for 1942 should have been:
                    Army Group South:
                    1. Capture the remainder of the Donbass, with a defensive line anchored on Voronezh and Rostov.
                    Ok that can be achieved
                    2. Eliminate Sevastopol and Soviet forces on the Kerch peninsula.
                    Well within the scope of Army Group South

                    Army Group Center:
                    1. Eliminate the Sukhnichi and Toropets-Kholm bulges
                    Can't argue with this

                    Army Group North:
                    1. Eliminate the Soviet 2nd Shock Army west of the Volkhov
                    Plausible, but by whom
                    2. Capture Leningrad; however, Leningrad would only have been captured if sufficient forces could be found from other sectors, as AGN lacked sufficient forces to tackle Leningrad on its own. Hence, the need to rationalize the line of AGC.
                    This would mean either redirecting reserves from the other two Army Groups or wait to build up an all new army or two, not only that but actually get the Finns committed in attacking Leningrad from the North and offer Leningrad to the Finns as a war prize to do as she pleases. If i am correct they stopped propped and said no further



                    I do not think you understand or appreciate either the distances or the terrain involved in the area north-west of Moscow/south-east of Leningrad. Nor do you appreciate fully how long the investiture of Leningrad would take even if AGN were to receive additional forces from AGC (on the basis of the completion of the tasks outlined for AGC above). If AGN could in fact capture Leningrad in 1942, it would consider itself lucky. Any further advance across the Volkhov towards either the Finns or towards AGC would require the transfer of forces, as well as significant resupply, refitting and replenishment after a fight for Leningrad. As Paulie Walnuts would say...fugetaboutit!
                    I actually do appreciate the distance and the topography, movement within that general area is confined to a few roads/rail that dry out in summer or freeze hard in winter (hopefully with no deep snow drifts) it is marshy, boggy and downright unsuited to massed panzer/mechanized movements, not only that but in some parts it is heavily wooded. To move a fighting unit as large as Army Group North towards Moscow is a logistical nighmare, the roads can't handle it, it would take 6 months or more to filter everything through if the weather is fantastic, one solid down pour rain and General Mud wins, would i be correct in this.

                    Just a pointer to this, Army Group North had indeed encircled Leningrad by the 15th September 1941 and instead of attacking it laid siege to the city, if i am correct the Germans and Finns made no direct attack on Leningrad during the siege
                    Last edited by Roddoss72; 19 Aug 11, 09:41.

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                    • #11
                      skoblin, you make some good points about what alternatives the Germans had regarding their 1942 strategy. I was pretty skeptical at 1st when Jerry suggested that AGB attack northeastwards, in attempt of smashing the Bryansk Front, because he didn't exactly explain the strategic benefit of such an operation. However you've illustrated that such a move might actually prove much more strategically beneficial than trying to attract Soviet counter attacks into the Don Salient.

                      Some observations though.

                      While encircling the majority of the forces in the Bryansk Front and straightening out the very twisty turning front line that AGC has will be undeniably beneficial, is this really achievable?

                      Even though the Bryansk front is in somewhat of a rough shape, the combined strength on AGB and AGC may not be enough to deal with the reserves behind the front line. I pointed out that were 7 armies in reserve between Voronzezh and Moscow, in addition to other 7? Armies in the Bryansk front.

                      Also, even if this move is successful, I'm not sure whether Leningrad will be able to be taken this year. I think the only opportunity was in 1941, but maybe I am wrong.

                      Come 1943, the USSR will have recovered from these set backs, and it is critical that the Germans get the 1st blow in. The reason why the 1942 offensive was so successful was because they captured 500k troops right of the bat at Kharkov. If the Soviets launch an offensive in the south at AGA before the Germans make a move for Moscow, then they will have to transfer a lot of forces south to meet this threat, which may upset their plans to launch their own 1943 offensives.

                      So, I'm not quite convinced that this is the best option for the Germans, but I'm going to keep an open mind. So, by all means try and show me otherwise.
                      A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                      • #12
                        A modification needed.

                        Instead of Army Group South splitting up, it is kept intact with the express purpose of hitting Stalingrad and Astrakhan this will give southern flank protection of Army Group South.

                        The way i see it. we have this available for the assaults

                        1st Panzer Army
                        4th Panzer Army
                        2nd Army
                        6th Army
                        11th Army
                        17th Army
                        2nd Hungarian Army
                        3rd Roumanian Army
                        4th Roumanian Army
                        8th Italian Army.

                        I would see that by the 23rd August 1942 that several spearheads by Axis forces punch through Soviet defenders in the north and south to reach the River Volga but however the terror raids by the Luftwaffe scheduled for the 23-24th August are cancelled so no direct attack on the city Hitler's direct orders insist that Stlaingrad be taken intact.

                        Panzer Armies I and IV are positioned to the North and South of Stalingrad, while the Italians launch an attack coming in from the north along the northern sector of the River Volga and that the 3rd Roumanians likewise from the south while VI Army comes in directly from the west, by the 1st September the Italians and Roumanians make contact and they have cleared the last Soviet forces fron the West Bank of the River Volga and cut re-enforcements to the city, the Soviets are eventually cut in two and over the next week the last Soviet forces capitulate.

                        Astrakhan is followed up next, and once Astrakhan is taken and secured Army Goup B can be split off and begins to roll up the Western Bank of the River Volga, with the main objective of driving deep behind Moscow.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                          A modification needed.

                          Instead of Army Group South splitting up, it is kept intact with the express purpose of hitting Stalingrad and Astrakhan this will give southern flank protection of Army Group South.

                          The way i see it. we have this available for the assaults

                          1st Panzer Army
                          4th Panzer Army
                          2nd Army
                          6th Army
                          11th Army
                          17th Army
                          2nd Hungarian Army
                          3rd Roumanian Army
                          4th Roumanian Army
                          8th Italian Army.

                          I would see that by the 23rd August 1942 that several spearheads by Axis forces punch through Soviet defenders in the north and south to reach the River Volga but however the terror raids by the Luftwaffe scheduled for the 23-24th August are cancelled so no direct attack on the city Hitler's direct orders insist that Stlaingrad be taken intact.

                          Panzer Armies I and IV are positioned to the North and South of Stalingrad, while the Italians launch an attack coming in from the north along the northern sector of the River Volga and that the 3rd Roumanians likewise from the south while VI Army comes in directly from the west, by the 1st September the Italians and Roumanians make contact and they have cleared the last Soviet forces fron the West Bank of the River Volga and cut re-enforcements to the city, the Soviets are eventually cut in two and over the next week the last Soviet forces capitulate.

                          Astrakhan is followed up next, and once Astrakhan is taken and secured Army Goup B can be split off and begins to roll up the Western Bank of the River Volga, with the main objective of driving deep behind Moscow.
                          I don't see that working, even if AGS didn't split up, they still run the risk of being encircled. I think the Soviets would have to be weakened even further before such a bold offensive move could be considered, hence my suggestion of holding the Don Salient.
                          A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Destroyer25 View Post
                            I don't see that working, even if AGS didn't split up, they still run the risk of being encircled. I think the Soviets would have to be weakened even further before such a bold offensive move could be considered, hence my suggestion of holding the Don Salient.
                            I can't see how the Soviets can affect an encirclement of the entire Army Group South, they would have to basically retake the Crimea and then come deep in behind from there and somehow smash the Axis at Voronezh and link up to utterly encircle Army Group South, thus splitting contact with Army Group Centre, that is one very large pincir movement of a Soviet Army in August 1942, utterly impossible at that time.

                            How, the way i see it that if you take Astrakhan this eliminates the southern flank threat, not only this but this cuts off those Soviet Commands in the Caucasus. This gives the Axis a vital leg up with that section of the River secured it means that they can choose the way they fight the Soviets.

                            Although i like the idea of holding the Don Salient as well.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                              I can't see how the Soviets can affect an encirclement of the entire Army Group South, they would have to basically retake the Crimea and then come deep in behind from there and somehow smash the Axis at Voronezh and link up to utterly encircle Army Group South, thus splitting contact with Army Group Centre, that is one very large pincir movement of a Soviet Army in August 1942, utterly impossible at that time.

                              How, the way i see it that if you take Astrakhan this eliminates the southern flank threat, not only this but this cuts off those Soviet Commands in the Caucasus. This gives the Axis a vital leg up with that section of the River secured it means that they can choose the way they fight the Soviets.

                              Although i like the idea of holding the Don Salient as well.
                              Well such a push towards Astrakhan would have to have significant width and flank protection, the Soviets have learned a fair bit in 1 year and they could launch pincer attacks to cut off the spearhead.
                              A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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