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  • Stalingrad

    Full disclosure obligates me to note I am an old public high school 9th grade American history teacher but wait, it gets worse. I also went through the Baltimore and Philadelphia inner city school systems which means I am probably the most ignorant on this forum. But I have learned a great deal here (hence few posts because I am all ears) and I am infusing much more about Russia's crucial role in W.W. II. I do have a question though. Suppose Hitler had never gone to Africa and had those forces, including air support, available in 1943. Could they have been employed to at least extricate the German army from Stalingrad or was this a doomed proposition regardless? Thanks in advance. I have a lot of reading to do to get up to speed.

  • #2
    The short answer is 'no'.

    The major problem with Barbarossa wasn't primarily the lack of assets at the 'pointy' end. Adding a couple of divisions and aircraft from Africa wouldn't make a significant overall addition to combat capability and might in fact exacerbate the real problem.

    Which was that the German Heer did not have the logistical capability to properly support its' forces on the front lines. There are a host of reasons for this, the speed of the advance, difficulties with the rail system, fantasy logistics planning on behalf of the Germans, etc.

    No doubt more knowledgable members can give detail because this topic gets discussed a lot around here.
    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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    • #3
      Good timing for asking this question, by the way
      www.histours.ru

      Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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      • #4
        The only way the situation could've been salvaged was by a withdrawal. Once the sixth army was isolated like that, it was only a matter of time, and no amount of reinforcements would've saved the situation.

        Defeat was inevitable the moment German soldiers began to march East - Stalingrad just speeded things up a little.
        Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Inspector71 View Post
          ...Suppose Hitler had never gone to Africa and had those forces, including air support, available in 1943. Could they have been employed to at least extricate the German army from Stalingrad or was this a doomed proposition regardless? Thanks in advance. I have a lot of reading to do to get up to speed.
          Regarding the relief of Stalingrad.

          Had 15th and 21st Pz divisions been in Russia the question needs to be 'where would they be deployed'. An examination of the various OoB would likely place them with 1st Pz Group after mid-August in order to bring that army up in strength (educated guess). First Pz Army was weakened significantle after mid-august to provide more armoured support to 4th Pz Army which was also understrength.

          So at the time of Stalingrad neither division is well placed to help Stalingrad. Even if they are moved they likely would have changed little as Paulus could not withdraw after being encirlced more than a few days. he simply lacked the supplies and would, at best, be able to have the bodies run west but all the guns, trucks and tanks abandoned.

          Then there is the Red Army. These are the troopers that stopped Manstein and stopped him rather abruptly. Once the German relief columns hit the main body of the outer ring of the Russian cordon they didn't go much further. Considering the strength of the Soviet Guards formations, the tank and mech units, a pair of (likely) depleted pz divisions would not have added much to the scales in favour of the Germans.

          Logistics is another story again. Add to this the launching of the Soviet offensives in Dec, Jan and Feb,... all on the left and far to the west of Stalingrad.
          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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          • #6
            The Question is not about Barbarossa, it's about Stalingrad and the relief operation 18 months later.

            6th Panzer made the trip from Western Europe in 2 weeks and lead the relief operation with 160 tanks. The other two Panzer Divs on hand had about 1/4 that many, combined. The counter-attacks fell apart when 6th Panzer was recalled after the Italians gave way.

            Add two Panzer Divs to that and 90th Light, plus a Parachute Brigade and those German relief efforts look much more likely to succeed.

            And they had about 3500 trucks full of supplies lined up for the first rush into Stalingrad, over and above what they needed for the relief attack itself.
            "Why is the Rum gone?"

            -Captain Jack

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            • #7
              Who knows for sure? There is a strong argument that had Manstein's attempt to relieve Paulus succeeded it would have led to a greater disaster in Southern Russia that Winter. Three extra divisions plus a few extra brigade battlegroups will not be enough to reverse the force disparity.
              Signing out.

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              • #8
                They were better employed in the desert, where they tied down considerable British and Commonwealth resources.
                A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Destroyer25 View Post
                  They were better employed in the desert, where they tied down considerable British and Commonwealth resources.
                  Although one would have to question where they might have been employed had the Western Desert not become so important to the British. Arguably the Axis could have achieved about as much sticking rigidly to the remit given Rommel in February 1941 and requiring much less effort in the process. Makes for a much less interesting war to discuss though.
                  Signing out.

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                  • #10
                    Hello everyone,
                    Paulus would have been granted the permission to retreat and stabilize his front line, but what would have happened if the russian pincers would have found germans PzD instead of poorly equiped romanian troops ? The encirclement could have failed.
                    IMHO, for a relief operation, it should'nt have changed nothing since the determination of russian troops were so strong. Stalingrad was a prestigious target for both.
                    The german logistics were so poorly managed, add to this the partisans, the mud and as said above the railway network. No, I used to think that once Stalingrad was encircled, in a matter of a few days any relief effort was doomed. No mention of the german air transport, too neglected since the birthday of the Luftwaffe.
                    Corsair
                    The day not half over and ten thousand slain
                    and now there's nobody remembers our names
                    and that's how it is for a soldier
                    Lemmy Kilmister in 1916

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                      Good timing for asking this question, by the way
                      Hello ShAA,
                      Sure, but I'm eager to read your thinking about it
                      Corsair
                      The day not half over and ten thousand slain
                      and now there's nobody remembers our names
                      and that's how it is for a soldier
                      Lemmy Kilmister in 1916

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The Question is not about Barbarossa, it's about Stalingrad and the relief operation 18 months later.
                        ...when the logistical situation was arguably worse and the teeth-tail balance even less able to sustain provision-hungry formations such as armoured divisions.

                        There is also the question, mentioned above, of whether it would have improved or worsened Army Group South's position if the kessel had been reached.
                        History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

                        Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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                        • #13
                          Perhaps if they used them in the attack they could have taken the City what then though IMO same outcome. Taking the city only puts the volga between the Germans and the Red Army, the Red Army is pressing everywhere else so the chances the extra troops would even go to the sword point in Stalingrad are slim to none anyway. I think, people tend to think and I was included in that, when an area is taken there is an ebb in battle and you get a breather doesn't happen that way though. The Germans would have taken Stalingrad and most probably 2 months later given it back. Look at Kharkov, the Soviets were not gonna roll over at Stalingrad.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by corsair View Post
                            Hello ShAA,
                            Sure, but I'm eager to read your thinking about it
                            Corsair
                            The very premise is faulty - two tank divisions wouldn't have tipped the scales just by the adding them to the abstract total number of German troops. If used at some decisive battles in the war, they could've changed the situations of "a day too late and a dollar short" kind. However, this is like theoretising about surviving a bullet hit by placing a 2 x 2 centimeter armoured plate at the spot where it is supposed to hit you (see The Purist's response). With hindsight, this is okay, but unless you get a proper armoured vest, you can't be sure to survive at all. The Germans could never get this vest for a plethora of material (production capacity, numbers of vehicles and armaments, logistics) and immaterial (poor planning, lack of intelligence on the Red Army, Soviet leadership, industry, etc) reasons.
                            www.histours.ru

                            Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Inspector71 View Post
                              . Could they have been employed to at least extricate the German army from Stalingrad or was this a doomed proposition regardless? Thanks in advance. I have a lot of reading to do to get up to speed.
                              Find yourself the David Glantz books on Stalingrad.

                              One of the things that Glantz makes clear in the first book of his Stalingrad trilogy is that Army Group South consistantly faced the problem of not having enough force to accomplish its mission during the summer of 1942. It also routinely ran out of gas at the most inopportune times allowing significant Russian forces to escape. Adding more mobile forces to AGS solves the first problem but makes the second much worse.


                              In the second book "Armagedon in Stalingrad" Glantz again shows how 6th army is short of forces and just not strong enough to take the city. Its particularly short of infantry battalions. Most of the time 24th Panzer and 14th Panzer have less than 50 operational panzers between them. Having the full DAK attached to 6th army in Fall 1942 would probably let it clear the city in September and then clean up those bridgeheads over the river in October. It was these bridgeheads that the Russians attacked out of in November.

                              The thousands of trucks that DAK had would certainly ease the logistic situation in Russia. Whether its enough is an interesting question.

                              However if DAK is in Russia, the Italian 8th army won't be. Who is going to cover their sector?

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