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If the Germans had held on to Stalingrad, how could that effect the war?

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by C.Evans, Feb 2, 2001.

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  1. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Thanks for the reminder and the laugh! I forgot about the G.W's and K's. My mind has been centered on whats happening locally and historically. I havent paid attention to anything political since they finally decided the election. It sure was a headache.
     
  2. Killjoy

    Killjoy Member

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    Here's another thing to consider:
    Wasn't the Ursus factory, or some such gigantic plant used to produce T34s located in Stalingrad?
    Unless I'm mistaken this facility was responsible for a considerable part of T34 production. There are those - perhaps embellished - tales of just-completed tanks rolling off the assembly line and right into the battle....
    One presumes that the loss of this facility would adversely affect the Soviet war effort, especially the ability to amass those Shock Armies worth of tanks...
    Would the Germans have used it to produce T34s for the Wermacht?
    Or would the vainglorious nationalism of Der Fuhrer blind him to the potential use of such a resource, and cause its utter waste as time was lost re-tooling to produce "proper German" models...

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  3. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Wow, what a great thought. I don't know if the Fuhrer would like it, but I'm sure hordes of the T-34, each with an upgraded 88mm main gun would be a great sight for the equipment-strapped troops on the Eastern Front. I guess they would call it the Panzer T-34/88 .
     
  4. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    For Killjoy. It is true that the Russiane were still producing vehicles and weapons in the factories at Stalingrad during the battle. There are many stories in print and in documentaries that talk about such happening.

    I think the name of one factory was Red October? or Red something or other. The Stalingrad tractor works was where they produced the tanks and sent them right into action as they came off the assembly lines. Many times the tanke has no paint coating or i.d. nunbers and only the tanks destined for C.O.'s had radios in them.

    I met a fellow several years ago a guy named Georgi Kessler (who lives in my town but is now deceased) he told me some stories about it. Georgi was a Russian that fought in Stalingrad. He was with a unit of replacements for the armored service.

    They would literally come-off-the-rack, and the waiting crews would immediately go join battle. Also he mentioned that many T-34 crews were made up of civilian volunteers and some of the folks who built them. There was also many schoolaged kids that manned T-34's. If I remember correctly, Georgi said he was one who was taken from the classroom and pressed into service. He was I think only 15 or 16 at the time.

    Georgi said that they had no time for proper training and many learned how to operate the T-34's on the way to do battle. This is a possible explanation of why they lost so many.

    He remembered that they conscripted all the males in his class, and that he was only 1 of I think 3, that lived through the battle and the only male of his class to survive the war.

    If interested, I might be able to find out more on Georgi, from his son if he still lives here.
     
  5. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I just remembered, the T-34's were built in the Red Oktober Tractor Works. Some other itmes produced in Stalingrad were the PPSH's which were handed out as they were built.
     
  6. J.Mahoney

    J.Mahoney Member

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    With many men like Remy Schrijnen and Paul-Albert Kausch as leaders and not Oafs like Hitler and Kaitel, you bet your arse they would have captured the city and beaten the Russkis.
     
  7. Killjoy

    Killjoy Member

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    I think its safe to say that almost anyone but Paulus would've been a better bet...
    Staff officer with no field command experience whose alleged mentor dies in a plane crash before teaching this guy more than the most fundamental concepts...
    Suddenly he's put in charge of 6th army.
    "Recipe for disaster" is the term which comes to my mind.
    Too bad he probably never read Guderian...
    (speaking of better command options)

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  8. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Had Paulus read either Guderians or Rommels books, the situation at Stalingrad might have been altered a bit. Paulus's problem was like Hitlers, not knowledgable enough to do the job and out of touch with the reality of the situation, maybe he should have visited with the Sergeants and Privates more and had his dinner parties a little less.

    As for a better candidate for command of the 6th army, I would choose Gotthard Heinrici because he was always in touch with the real situation and actually cared for the common soldier. Heinrici was on the eastern front at that time so I dont see that this opinion would be way out of line. He was the one who was known for holding crumbeling fronts together not unlike the "Fire Brigade" Waffen SS General/Fieldmarshal Walther Model.
     
  9. Killjoy

    Killjoy Member

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    Wasn't Heinrici considered the Germans' best defensive tactician (and as a result, something of a "second class" commander in Hitlers attack-obsessed mentality)?
    If I recall correctly, he was in command of the defense of either Berlin itself in the last days of the war, or the defense of some portion of Eastern Germany...

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  10. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Im not up-to-date with what I know about Heinrich. He served for a long period on the eastern front but I dont know how long. You are correct, he was the Germans best defensive General but he also had plenty of brains and guts and his men liked him very much.

    Heinrici was moved to the west in the closing weeks of the war. He was placed in command of the Seelowe Heights and later was put in charge of Berlins defense. He was they type of General that would stand up to Der Fuhrer, and to idiots like Kaitel and Hans Krebs.

    Heinrici also never had dissappointed Der Fuhrer, as he never lost a battle he ever fought in. Heinrici was given an impossible assignment from the start. When he arrived in the west he observed nothing but chaos, lack of discipline and lousy communications. The general he took over command from, had so much messed up hie command, and Heinrici, with his limited time and resources, had to correct it all.

    Heinrici was also told to do the impossible with hitler youth, a job that even battlr-hardened vets with years experiance, could not do. All I say is what a shame and what a waste.
     
  11. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Smiling Albert Kesselring was known for his defensive skill as well despite being a Luftwaffe officer.
     
  12. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    What surprises me about Kesselring being in command of a theatre of operations was that he was a Luftwaffe GFM. You are right, he was an excellent defensive General, I just wonder how his appointment came to be? This is somthing I will have to look up the answer to as my curiosity is getting me.
     
  13. Miro

    Miro Member

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    Hi,

    I just wanted to clarify a few points here about the battle of Stalingrad and the possibilities of a German victory there.

    Anthony Beevor in his "Stalingrad" book convincingly argues, that Paulus' only chance of avoiding encirclement in the first palce, would have been to pull his armoured formations out of Stalingrad and form a mobile reserve to react to the Soviet offensive. But since he was hard pressed by hitler to capture the city asap, pulling out the tank formations would have been a deliberate ignorance of The "Fuehrer's" order. Paulus' biggest impediment was his slavish belief in the chain of command, and his reluctancy to react before orders from above are given are the main blame for his failure to stop the Soviet advance.

    Yet in my opinion, a lot of blame should also be given to German military intelligence. As Beevor writes on pg.226, "German intelligence had failed during the summer of 1942 to identify the creation of five new tank armies (each roughly the equivalent of a panzer corps) and fiftenn tank corps (each the equivalent of a strong panzer division)...", which is barely excusable, considering the amount of Soviet POW's and the German air and air reconnaissance supremacy.
    Once Zhukov had laid his trap, and the Soviet tanks broke through the ill-equipped and demoralised Romanians on both sides of the 6th Army, there was little the Germans could do to stop it. Their main formations in this area, the 4th Pz and 6th Armies were seperated, the forces in the Caucasus were threatened and the whole Southern Front was wide open.
    After this disaster Hitler appointed Manstein as new commander of the Southern part of Russia and it his main orders were to start a relief atempt at once. It took Manstein almost 4 weeks to accomplish this and on dec 12th, the Panzers of Hoth's LVII Pz Corps and the newly refitted 6th and 17th Pz Divisions attacked the Russians and almost managed to break through to the encircled troops around Stalingrad.
    This is where it gets a bit confusing since the Soviets had been preparing another attack north of Stalingrad, that would eventually had enveloped the whole of Army Group South in the Caucasus and around Stalingrad, but Mansteins attack was so fierce that the Russians had to divert the 2nd Guards Army (the biggest and most powerful formation in the Red Army) to check Mansteins attack. So the Russians could carry on with that opreation (named Saturn) and therefore changed it into a smaller scale attack (Little Saturn-how ingenious [​IMG]).
    That however made Manstein stop and turn back, since all his supply lines, depots and airfields were threatened and many go taken out before he managed to reestablish a firm defensive just east of Rostov. The Luftwaffe also lost its main air supply base at Tatsinskaya (sp?), when a whole Soviet tank corps appeared on the fields just outside the runway. In this single attack, the Luftwaffe lost 10% of its whole transport fleet, but they managed to save 108 JU-52 transports , as wella s much of the ground crews and pilots, who managed to escape in what Beevor calls "The flight from Tatsinskaya".

    I don't think much could have been dne, after the Soviet operations were underway, the biggest mistake made by the Germans was to have underestimated Russian capabilities and their new desire to learn from previous mistakes. I don't think the it would have made a difference, if the Germans had switched the Romanian, Hungarian and Italian armies from the south to the static front around Leningrad. The Soviets would have just struck in the north then, while effctively just holding the Wolga line in the South. Their main reason for defending Stalingrad was to tie down German units around this "bait" and to keep them busy, so that the real offensive can take place unimpeded and against the weaker German allies.

    Regards

    mIRo
     
  14. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    You have some good points there. If someone like Seydlitz of Gen Schmidt? had been in overall command os the Stalingrad Kessel, I think the outcome would have been very different because neither of these two mentioned Generals really cared about what Hitler wanted and would have pulled a "Manstein" and would have withdrawn to better positions.

    Had Seydtlitz or Schmidt been in command, its most assured that 6th Army could have been saved and mostly intact. Hitler could never be able to "punish" all the men in the 6th Army by maybe tossing some of their relatives into Concentration Camps os Gestapo prisons.

    This Army most likely have withdrawn about 100 miles thus shortening and strenghtening the battle front.

    Had this happened, both Saturn and Little Saturn would have been a Soviet disaster or a stalemate in the least because of the thickening of resources that would have been available because of a shortened Main Line of Resistance.

    A Division should not at full strength hold a line of more than 6-8 miles of front, but at below half strength, the Germans held areas of 12 or so miles of front. :eek:

    Had Hitler given Paulus freedom of command, the 6th Army would not have been destroyed-battered yes, but not wasted in the Stalingrad Kessel just to "wither on the vine and eventually; die". :mad:

    What a waste! :mad: :mad:
     
  15. Miro

    Miro Member

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    At what point do you think the 6th army should have been withdrawn into a defensive "winter position", thus giving up the main territorial gains made during that summer? The only plausible position would have been the line of the Don river, which would have also meant, that the 17th army would have had to withdraw from the Caucasus. Even the most pessimistic/realistic German general would not have seen any reason to do this, based on their intelligence reports. They all had an idea of what was brewing up, but nobody knew for sure, and thus all their plans and predictions were nullified, once Zhukov and Vasilevsky struck.
     
  16. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Two points to make here. First, WWII was not a war where you gained territory. It was a war where you annihilated the other army. Saying this, making a withdrawal and leaving territory gained in the summer offensive is not a high price to pay if it saves your army and you shorten your front to fend of an army whose ally is the winter weather. Second, you are correct, the German intelligence was pathetic at best. During Barbarossa, their road maps were useless. Two yrs later, intelligence gathering has not improved. There were those Generals who did want to withdraw regardless of what the intelligence reports presented.
     
  17. Miro

    Miro Member

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    Panzerjaeger,

    I would have to disagree with you on one thing. For Hitler, the war in the East was a for for territory (Lebensraum). He had elaborated on this in "Mein Kampf" and I am certain, that ALL of his Generals knew about this. The total destruction of the Rde Army was not a principal objective of Barbarossa, it was merely to be pushed back behind Hitler's AA-line (Astrakhan-Archangelsk). Once that was achieved, the Germans were to go on the defensive.
    You are right however saying, there were certain German generals advocating a withdrawal from the Stalingrad fighting. However, most generals, even if they felt this was the right choice, had no strategic reason to do so, simply because they lacked crucial intelligence on the Red Army. Many believed the Red Army was at the brink of collapse, and if that had come true, there would have been no reason whatsoever to withdraw. Luckily, the course of events proved them wrong, otherwise WW2 may have well lasted another year or so, and the A-Bomb would have been dropped on Frankfurt or Munich and not on Hiroshima.

    Regards
    Miro

    "He who defends everything, defends nothing!" Frederick the Great
     
  18. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Dear Miro, I agree with what you and PzJgr both said but, I think the answer lies with Generals Seydlitz-Kurzbach and Schmidt.

    But first I'll answer your question about pulling back and losing alot of territory that had been gained during their summer offensives.

    OK, the date I would have chosen (rather they) would have been to start withdrawing by or before the end of the first week of November and no later because of the Russians preparing for their attacks to cut off and surround 6th Army.

    True the Germans intelligence was poor and true they still thought of nothing but being victorious at Stalingrad but, several of Paulus's field commanders knew better. Generals like Seydlitz-Kurzbach and Schmidt had actually mentioned a withdrawal even before October.

    Seydlitz may be look at as a traitor but, I think he and commanders who were in the field would certainly know better than a desk General as to the truth to to situation.

    If they had pulled back even a distance of 50 miles, 6th army would have been saved and the situation on the Eastern Front would have had somekind of different outcome other than total annhilation of 6th Army and many other units.

    Had there been a so-called "winter line" the Germans might have snatched victory out of the jaws or either total defeat or at least had a stalemate.
     
  19. Miro

    Miro Member

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    You are right C.Evans, I was mainly trying to point out why such a retreat seemed inplausible for many German Generals. However, if Hitler had listened to Schmidt (a dedicated Nazi) and Seydlitz (less of a Nazi and a member of the July-plot) the withdrawal behind the safety of a defensive position would have prevented the large-scale Soviet breakthroughs of that winter. The 17th army would have been pulled back to the Kerch peninsula, while the Romanian, Hungarian and Italian armies on the Don could have been stiffened with the 6th army and the 4th Pz army.
    Obviously the Soviet propaganda would have made a great victory out of this, but essentially it would have been a stalemate throughout the winter. The 6th army would have essentially needed to be refitted with both manpower and material the next year, and who knows, maybe they would have been in place for the Normandy landings a year and a half later. Since the Soviets had no chance of breaking the stalemate before summer 1944, One of those german formations would certainly been rushed to the western front either to contain the Allied landings in Italy, or to be in place for the much anticipated Overlord landings.
    Many things would have changed, but I doubt that Germany could have pulled a victory out of this, it may have prolonged the war for a month or so, and it may have increased allied losses, but it would not have been a decisive factor in the total outcome of the war.

    Regards
    mIRo
     
  20. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    You are correct Miro in your observation from Hitler's point of view. I should have stated the I was going from the General's point of view which I deem correct. I am sure we all agree that a withdrawal would have been the way to go and the 6th Armee would not have perished. Afterall, look at Kharkov in 43.
     
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