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  • Victory in the East... possible?

    Hi all,

    I've been discussing this for a long time with a group of friends, never reaching any solid answer (if this is ever possible). So, for fun, I decided to throw the question onto this forum as well to see what comes up.

    What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East, or did Germany sign their death warrant when they declared war on the US?

    I believe that Germany could've been victorious if they'd driven for Moscow instead of closing the kessel at Kiew.
    The theory behind this being the fact that the constant chaos on the Russian side would've bought the Germans time to drive to Moscow and encircle it in time before the 'Government' could evacuate. The upcoming green troops would've been tainted by the dwindling morale of the retreating forces making them less effective in combat.
    Russia had a hyper-centralized command-structure which, I believe, would collapse if the arteries had been severed.

    This view takes a way the Russian defense at Smolensk and the build-up of the Moscow defence, but leaves a substantial amount of enemy forces on the southern flank of an advancing army unchecked.
    If the 'arteries don't get severed', this could also spell disaster.

    This is part of my view, deliberatly kept small in order to read some untainted views of others.

    Regards, Len
    Last edited by JJMcBlaze; 19 Dec 13, 07:03.

  • #2
    Victory was impossible to begin with as the German resupply plans were founded upon fantasy.

    EDIT: Adam Tooze devotes a bit to the resupply problem in Wages of Destruction and David Stahel in Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East retraces how the resupply problem was first noted and then ignored.
    Last edited by Gorque; 19 Dec 13, 07:26. Reason: Additional information:

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
      What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East, or did Germany sign their death warrant when they declared war on the US?

      I believe that Germany could've been victorious if they'd driven for Moscow instead of closing the kessel at Kiew.
      Hello,

      I do believe Germany could have defeated the USSR, but I also reject the notion according to which the "Kiev diversion" was a mistake. It's not obvious that the Germans could lunge at Moscow in August, and in any event taking Moscow wouldn't have led to a collapse of the USSR.

      Regards,

      KDF

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      • #4
        Now you've aroused my curiosity...

        Russia would never have it's army trapped west of the Dniepr... I mean, the weren't the best strategists but they wouldn't have stepped, or have itself drawn into that nightmare.

        (If this next bit sounds 'harsh', my apologies. It's just a question, not an 'attack' on your knowledge)

        You also write that my 'decapitation of command' is fiction.

        So I really like to see your vision on a possible victory. Do you see it as a Clausewitzian victory were the Germans would aim for victory by other means than total destruction?

        Please, elaborate!

        Regards.


        Verzonden vanaf mijn iPhone met behulp van Tapatalk

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
          What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East
          It would have to start with better Intelligence gathering and contingency planning for the elements. You could say this is hindsight, but the weather and climate data for European Russia was very much available prior to Barbarossa. The German plan was excellent as far as Smolensk, beyond that it was just a bunch of expediants on a shoestring budget. That is the specific are where German planning and pre-campaign preparation would have to account for. That would have to start with greater emphasis on the rail conversion and upgrading of the Russian rail system.

          As KDF said, the diversion to Kiev was not a bad decision and I also question whether or not Moscow was a realistic goal in 1941. I believe that the correct goal was to destroy as much of the Red Army as possibile, but unlike the OKH/OKW I would add that an additional goal was to stop the offensive at a reasonable point in order to protect the Wehrmacht's fighting power for 1942. My guess is early November, create in depth defense close to the forward railheads and withdraw the mobile units.

          None of that is a guarantee of victory by any means, but it does give a better fighting chance. The Germans in 1941-43 never seemed to grasp their logistical limits, Soviet force generation or understand when their operations had reached their culmination point and needed to cease (always continued to exhaustion and over extension, leaving them weak and exposed).
          "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
          -Omar Bradley
          "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
          -Anonymous US Army logistician

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          • #6
            The theory that Germany could have taken Moscow in August-September relies on the assumption that the situation in August was no different from the end of September. This is incorrect. Most importantly, in late September the Stavka did not believe that the Germans would attack Moscow, and only went over to the defensive days before Typhoon began. This lack of preparedness combined with understrength Soviet forces following the September offensives led to a swift German breakthrough; even then German losses were disturbingly high. In August the situation was very different. Though lacking equipment, the Red Army had multiple lines of armies extending back to Moscow and Stavka expected a renewed offensive. It also has the option of forming more divisions if the need arose.

            That alone makes German success in August even less likely, even without taking into account severe supply problems, losses, and fewer armies availiable than in September (9th, 4th Panzer, and 2nd were all in combat elsewhere).

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Javaman View Post
              As KDF said, the diversion to Kiev was not a bad decision and I also question whether or not Moscow was a realistic goal in 1941. I believe that the correct goal was to destroy as much of the Red Army as possibile, but unlike the OKH/OKW I would add that an additional goal was to stop the offensive at a reasonable point in order to protect the Wehrmacht's fighting power for 1942. My guess is early November, create in depth defense close to the forward railheads and withdraw the mobile units.

              None of that is a guarantee of victory by any means, but it does give a better fighting chance. The Germans in 1941-43 never seemed to grasp their logistical limits, Soviet force generation or understand when their operations had reached their culmination point and needed to cease (always continued to exhaustion and over extension, leaving them weak and exposed).
              I strongly second this. IMO, the Germans should have stopped in late October / early November 1941, after the liquidation of the Vyazma-Bryansk pockets, and consolidated. They could have rehabilitated the mobile formations and, behind a strong defensive line, shifted forces to Leningrad to eliminate it during the winter.

              Regards,

              KDF

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
                You also write that my 'decapitation of command' is fiction.

                So I really like to see your vision on a possible victory. Do you see it as a Clausewitzian victory were the Germans would aim for victory by other means than total destruction?

                Please, elaborate!
                IMO, what the Germans needed to do was to "keep the ball rolling". If they could consistently maintain Soviet casualties near their June - October 1941 level, the Soviets would crumble under sheer attrition. Their ability to recover from catastrophic losses, as they did in 1941, had worn off by mid-1942, after the initial wave of trained reservists had been conscripted.

                Attacking the Soviet manpower base, via large-scale "annihilation battles" and the capture of important population centers, was the way to go. That it failed to defeat the USSR in 1941 doesn't mean that it wouldn't, in the medium term, deliver the Germans their victory. It just indicated that, in 1941, the Soviets still had "slack", which shouldn't come as a surprise given that they were just beginning to mobilize.

                As for victory conditions, I don't see any other option for the Germans apart from the more-or-less total destruction of the USSR's ability to wage a modern war. Given that the Germans were the aggressors and, moreover, that they were intent on genocide, the Soviet people and their leaders would simply never entertain surrender.

                Regards,

                KDF
                Last edited by KDF33; 19 Dec 13, 10:09.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
                  Hi all,

                  .

                  What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East,


                  Regards, Len



                  The answer is :NOTHING

                  Defeat or victory in the East depended on the Sviets,on the Soviets only .

                  If the Soviet state collapsed in july 1941,the Germans could arrive at the Wolga .

                  If the Soviet state did not collaps in july 1941,the Soviets would arrive at Berlin .

                  Only a miracle could cause the collaps of the Soviet state;the Germans knew this and were wishfully thinking/hoping that the miracle would happen .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
                    What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East
                    Nazi Germany could never have been victorious in the East.


                    I think a non Nazi Germany would have had to have built an anti-communist coalition of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to have a chance. They would have also had to have had support from French, British and US interests. That's not necessarily official government support but from commercial interests like Standard Oil. They'd further need to come as liberators not conquerors.

                    There are so many required diversions from the original timeline for Germany to pull this off that it is truly unrealistic.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JJMcBlaze View Post
                      What could Germany have done to be victorious in the East,
                      Nothing. The Nazis grossly underestimated the USSR in every respect, from the sheer size of the country, the lack of infrastructure, the climate, the economy and as important, their racial prejudice blinded them to the fact that the people were ingenious, determined and utterly opposed to any occupation. The Nazis compounded this folly by fatally overestimating their own abilities, believing they could achieve victory in a short campaign without considering the alternative.

                      or did Germany sign their death warrant when they declared war on the US?
                      The declaration of war on the USA was a non sequitur. Germany had already lost any chance for victory when Barbarossa failed to bring about either the destruction of the Red Army or the collapse of the Soviet regime. Both were necessary conditions for victory. The USA was already moving towards war. Hitler's declaration merely ensured they would enter the European war sooner than would otherwise have been the case.

                      I believe that Germany could've been victorious if they'd driven for Moscow instead of closing the kessel at Kiew.
                      That was an impossibility. They were forced to halt at Smolensk to refit and bring supplies forward, since AGC was out of food, fuel and ammunition. By the time limited resupply was accomplished, it was already too late to reach Moscow.

                      The theory behind this being the fact that the constant chaos on the Russian side would've bought the Germans time to drive to Moscow and encircle it in time before the 'Government' could evacuate.
                      Highly unlikely. Stalin would never have allowed himself or his cabinet to be captured, even if the Germans had been able to proceed to Moscow before autumn.

                      As for morale, I read this book recently, Moscow 1941: A City and its People at War by Roderic Braithwaite, a British diplomat who was there in the post-Gorbachev era. It ain't much of a history book, but he does present a very clear picture of the chaos of late 1941 and the willing sacrifices made by many individuals of all ages to defend their city and country. They lacked training, weapons, and coherent orders, but there was no shortage of morale, despite the fact that their world was crashing down around them.

                      Russia had a hyper-centralized command-structure which, I believe, would collapse if the arteries had been severed.
                      Moscow was a hub of the transportation network (rail, river and road) and of the electric and communications grid, so the loss of the city would have been severe, but not insurmountable. If the city could be taken, and that is a very big if. The German threat was opposed by everything that was available. Had they entered the city, I have no doubt that there would have been a Stalingrad-style urban battle that would drag on for months, through the winter of 1941-42, and likely result in massive civilian losses and the eventual loss of any German troops in the city. Stalin would not have given a second thought to burning the city down around the Nazis, leaving them in a very similar predicament to that which Napoleon faced no food, no fuel, no shelter, confronted by a population that would show them no mercy.

                      This view takes away the Russian defense at Smolensk and the build-up of the Moscow defense, but leaves a substantial amount of enemy forces on the southern flank of an advancing army unchecked.
                      It also denies the very real logistics constraints the Wehrmacht faced. Those were insurmountable in the short term, which is why the Germans were forced to halt after Smolensk. As it was, when they renewed their advance, it was on a shoestring, with understrength and inadequately equipped units short of tanks, trucks, horses, and men.

                      If the 'arteries don't get severed', this could also spell disaster.
                      Oh no! Again, the lack of a Plan B! That was the undoing of the Nazis, too.

                      Regards
                      Scott Fraser
                      Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                      A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                      • #12
                        I'm sure they considered it but were overruled by you know who. I don't think it victory was as far fetched as we might think until after the push on Moscow was realized to be unobtainable.
                        The only hope of victory however in my opinion was to be on the eastern side of Moscow by Nov/Dec 41 once that was realized unobtainable I believe they should have pulled back and consolidated.
                        The only thing the Germans really underestimated entirely was the average Soviet citizens resolve to hold out and not give in. There supply system got them to the gates so it wasn't that bad and if they win fiscal restraints change severely IMO.

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                        • #13
                          Victory in the East... possible?


                          IF Germany was fighting only the Soviet Union(I couldn't even begin to think of how that would come about) and all events went in her favour, the best she could hope for would be a stalemate.

                          Germany couldn't win, but could possibly avoid defeat..
                          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brumbear View Post
                            I'm sure they considered it but were overruled by you know who. I don't think it victory was as far fetched as we might think until after the push on Moscow was realized to be unobtainable.
                            The only hope of victory however in my opinion was to be on the eastern side of Moscow by Nov/Dec 41 once that was realized unobtainable I believe they should have pulled back and consolidated.
                            The only thing the Germans really underestimated entirely was the average Soviet citizens resolve to hold out and not give in. There supply system got them to the gates so it wasn't that bad and if they win fiscal restraints change severely IMO.

                            Halder would disagree : in january 1941,he wrote in his diary :Nur ein Blitzkrieg gegen Russland kan ein Sieg sein .

                            Translation : We can only win by a blitzkrieg.

                            Which means : a short,quick campaign of a few weeks .
                            As it is obvious that the Germans could not be in Moscow in a few weeks,the war would be decided on the border .




                            Source: David Stahel:Operation Barbarossa and the German defeat in the East .


                            BTW:the same Halder also wrote on 28 january 1941 (KTB II P 288):We must DESTROY the Russian army without pause over the Dnepr-Duna line.
                            Which is confirming the first quote .

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                            • #15
                              Nothing is impossible!

                              But it's highly unlikely. The Red Army was not very good in the Summer of 1941 and came close to handing victory to the Germans on a plate. But it still wasn't nearly enough. Imho a daredevil launch at Moscow to the exclusion of all else might have done it BUT this is improbable. The risk of such a venture would have rendered it out of the question to any rational military mind.
                              Signing out.

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