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November-December 1942: What were the options?

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  • November-December 1942: What were the options?

    An interesting 'what if' question is, 'what if the order to retreat from the Caucasus had been given right away, instead of waiting for more than a month?' It was clear that once the Axis line on the Don had been broken and almost all available German forces in the area had been holed up at Stalingrad, that it had become impossible to hang on to the Caucasus due to the threat poised at Rostov.Would a decisive order to pull out the 1st Panzer Army and the bulk of the 17th army north to the lower Don have saved the garrison at Stalingrad? In the event, it took about a month for Army Group A to retreat to Rostov, achieving it by the end of January. If this force had been on the lower Don by the end of December instead, with faster units arriving in the area much sooner, could the Soviet breakthrough have been dealt with? Remember, the Soviets themselves did not expect the size of the success they had achieved. It took time for them to switch more units into the area in order to exploit the breakthrough and the forces following behind Army Group A were devoid of significant armour and were filled with half-trained recruits from the Caucasus. Could local superiority within the Don Bend have been achieved and a successful relief assault to Stalingrad be conducted under these conditions?


  • #2
    It wouldn't have changed anything significantly. For the Germans pulling their forces out of the Caucasus has to be done by road march. There are no operating railroads in that area of the front.
    This means a good portion of the divisions are going to have to disengage and then move hundreds of miles by road. The result will be panzer divisions requiring several weeks of maintenance time and rest just to reorgainze and be ready to reengage in operations. The alternative would be these units could be thrown back into combat peicemeal and destroyed in detail.

    AGS was simply too stretched logistically, too immobile tactically and, in general just too worn out from continued operations to have the force necessary to overcome the Soviet offensive.
    6th Army was relying on airlifted supplies even before the Soviets attacked. There was a single rail line forward and most divisions had given up some or all of their motor transport to haul supplies forward.

    Saving 6th Army given the condition overall of AGS wasn't in the cards.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
      It wouldn't have changed anything significantly. For the Germans pulling their forces out of the Caucasus has to be done by road march. There are no operating railroads in that area of the front.
      This means a good portion of the divisions are going to have to disengage and then move hundreds of miles by road. The result will be panzer divisions requiring several weeks of maintenance time and rest just to reorgainze and be ready to reengage in operations. The alternative would be these units could be thrown back into combat peicemeal and destroyed in detail.

      AGS was simply too stretched logistically, too immobile tactically and, in general just too worn out from continued operations to have the force necessary to overcome the Soviet offensive.
      6th Army was relying on airlifted supplies even before the Soviets attacked. There was a single rail line forward and most divisions had given up some or all of their motor transport to haul supplies forward.

      Saving 6th Army given the condition overall of AGS wasn't in the cards.
      You're right in my ballpark...see my post in the "Victory on the Volga" thread...Logistics, logistics et. al..

      Skoblin: Options?

      How about not going into the rump of Czechoslovakia; don't invade Poland in 1939... by Jan. 1943 Germany had no options...they had reality...abject defeat...

      It was a one shot deal in the summer of 1941...Hitler blew his wad...and it failed...

      ...abysmally.

      Cheers, Ron
      48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
      __________________________________________________ __________________

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      • #4
        WHat about an attack, towards Ashtrakhan?

        The Russinas managed to cause a great deal of havoc, and the abandonment of ant relief operations towards Stalingrad, by attacking the Italians and moving towards teh Dnieper, so why not beat them too the punch?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
          WHat about an attack, towards Ashtrakhan?

          The Russinas managed to cause a great deal of havoc, and the abandonment of ant relief operations towards Stalingrad, by attacking the Italians and moving towards teh Dnieper, so why not beat them too the punch?
          Logistics, logistics, logistics.... Russian had the ability to launch such major attacks, the Germans did not.

          The Germans could barely maintain themselves in there forward position near Grozny much less manage to organise an attack toward Astrakhan.
          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
            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            Logistics, logistics, logistics.... Russian had the ability to launch such major attacks, the Germans did not.

            The Germans could barely maintain themselves in there forward position near Grozny much less manage to organise an attack toward Astrakhan.
            Absolutely. German strategy in 1942 was correct - take important resources for themselves and deny them to the enemy. The problem was that they had neither the materiel nor the logistical support to actually make it work. Capturing the above mentioned resources would have alleviated some of their problems but obviously that's a 'Catch 22' situation. As Ron pointed out, the Germans had to win in 1941 if they were going to win at all (although I dislike such definites - Bellona can be such a fickle mistress at times) and ideology prevented them from negotiating with the Soviets. Thus, come November 1942 there were no options apart from trying to extricate what they could from South-West Russia and despite the fact that Stalingrad was an unmitigated disaster they did very well to salvage what they did.
            Signing out.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
              Absolutely. German strategy in 1942 was correct - take important resources for themselves and deny them to the enemy. The problem was that they had neither the materiel nor the logistical support to actually make it work. Capturing the above mentioned resources would have alleviated some of their problems but obviously that's a 'Catch 22' situation.
              Definetly the Germans lacked the ability to exploit the resources they might have gained from capturing the Caucasus, but it would have gone badly for the Soviets to loose access to those resources too.

              As Ron pointed out, the Germans had to win in 1941 if they were going to win at all (although I dislike such definites - Bellona can be such a fickle mistress at times) and ideology prevented them from negotiating with the Soviets.
              Stalin would have loved to negotiate with Hitler in the opening months of the war I bet. Some thought that the entire buildup prior to war was going to proceede demands for concessions, so it is very plausible for there to have been a negotiated settlement if the Germans had asked for it.

              But Hitler would have none of it, and as the war ground on Stalin would be less likely to concede anything.

              Thus, come November 1942 there were no options apart from trying to extricate what they could from South-West Russia and despite the fact that Stalingrad was an unmitigated disaster they did very well to salvage what they did.
              By late 1942 the Germans had blown their chances at victory. They could have achieved it in 1941, and still had a hope in 1942, but by then it was all going wrong for them.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by daemonofdecay View Post
                Definetly the Germans lacked the ability to exploit the resources they might have gained from capturing the Caucasus, but it would have gone badly for the Soviets to loose access to those resources too.
                Hmmmm, with Lend-Lease starting to kick in the Soviets could have afforded the hit, at least in the short term. The Germans would struggle to exploit the reserves given the precarious nature of the footholds they held in the Caucuses.



                Stalin would have loved to negotiate with Hitler in the opening months of the war I bet. Some thought that the entire buildup prior to war was going to proceede demands for concessions, so it is very plausible for there to have been a negotiated settlement if the Germans had asked for it.

                But Hitler would have none of it, and as the war ground on Stalin would be less likely to concede anything.
                Stalin made a couple of peace overtures in 1941 which the Germans, quite understandably, rejected. Apparently low-level diplomatic contacts were maintained at least until mid-1943 but no acceptable peace proposals were forthcoming.

                By late 1942 the Germans had blown their chances at victory. They could have achieved it in 1941, and still had a hope in 1942, but by then it was all going wrong for them.
                The weaknesses that had forced Hitler's hand in 1939-41 became increasingly acute from 1942 onwards. The shift in strategy for the 1942 offensive whereby the destruction of Soviet armed forces became secondary to the seizure of vital raw materials was a manifestation of this.
                Last edited by Full Monty; 12 Sep 08, 10:02. Reason: Clarification
                Signing out.

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                • #9
                  best option was to negotiate peace. a two (three with the med) fornt war was out of the question. I am sure that had Stalin been confronted with a peace offer, he would have taken it. but Hitler would never do peace with the east.
                  "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                    best option was to negotiate peace. a two (three with the med) fornt war was out of the question. I am sure that had Stalin been confronted with a peace offer, he would have taken it. but Hitler would never do peace with the east.
                    In 1941, Stalin would definetly have accepted a peace (and would have given into some of Hitler's demands too, although I doubt it would have been as much as Hitler's ego and obsession would have required).

                    1942, maybe. Depends on the demands. White peace still very likely.

                    But 1943 onwards, its unlikely Stalin would have settled unless something else changed, like the allies not launching Operation Overlord (or it fails), so Stalin fears that the Allies might settle seperately and so preempts that by settling with Hitler first.

                    With Hitler around, any kind of settled peace is unlikely.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by daemonofdecay View Post
                      In 1941, Stalin would definetly have accepted a peace,...
                      Unlikely. Somewhere I have a tome that discussed third party negotiations in late 41 that collapsed because Stalin would only accept the 1941 pre-Barbarossa border while the Germans were talking about the Baltics States and the line of the Dnepr.

                      Rumours of the USSR accepting any peace short of total victory are based on more wishful thinking and revisionism that any real evidence. It is not hard to wonder why Stalin would hold such a hard line. After all, by Sep-Oct 1941 it was becoming clear that the Red Army would hold the German onslaught and continue to grow in strength. With the failure of Barbarossa in Sep 41 the Germans should have begun searching for a way out of the war before they were beaten into the ground.

                      A government other than Hitler's Nazi regime may have done so but dictatorships tend to hold on to the bitter end regardless of the cost to their countrymen and others around them.
                      Last edited by The Purist; 19 Sep 08, 23:13.
                      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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                      • #12
                        That is very true
                        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                        Unlikely. Somewhere I have a tome that discussed third party negotiations in late 41 that collapsed because Stalin would only accept the 1941 pre-Barbarossa border while the Germans were talking about the Baltics States and the line of the Dnepr.

                        Rumours of the USSR accepting any peace short of total victory are based on more wishful thinking and revisionism that any real evidence. It is not hard to wonder why Stalin would hold such a hard line. After all, by Sep-Oct 1941 it was becoming clear that the Red Army would hold the German onslaught and continue to grow in strength. With the failure of Barbarossa in Sep 41 the Germans should have begun searching for a way out of the war before they were beaten into the ground.

                        A government other than Hitler's Nazi regime may have done so but dictatorships tend to hold on to the bitter end regardless of the cost to their countrymen andothers around them.
                        That is very true about Dictators and Hitler in particular, they all seem to be born with one eye and if he said we will do such and such a thing, in his mind it will be done despite defeat staring him in the face!!
                        'By Horse by Tram'.


                        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                          Unlikely. Somewhere I have a tome that discussed third party negotiations in late 41 that collapsed because Stalin would only accept the 1941 pre-Barbarossa border while the Germans were talking about the Baltics States and the line of the Dnepr.
                          I meant that in 1941 Stalin definetly would have accepted a full stop white peace with Hitler. He had no reason not to.

                          Its just that the circumstances for such an offer are almost impossible.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by daemonofdecay View Post
                            I meant that in 1941 Stalin definetly would have accepted a full stop white peace with Hitler. He had no reason not to.

                            Its just that the circumstances for such an offer are almost impossible.
                            What evidence do you have of this? Why would Hitler offer terms prior to the realisation he could not win? And why would Stalin entertain peace once it was clear that The Red Army would survive and continue to grow until it could defeat the Germans. With neither side willing to accept defeat what grounds for a negotiated settlement existed?

                            The short answer is 'None',...at least that I am aware of other than the aforementioned 3rd party discussions. Hitler would have been wise to accept a return to the 'status quo ante bellum' but,... <shrug>
                            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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