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Lenningrad falls into German hands!?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by mp38, Dec 7, 2002.

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  1. mp38

    mp38 Member

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    One of the longest and largest turning points of the war that is often overlooked is the battle for Lenningrad. Hitler wanted this city leveled to the ground, and therefore ordered it surrounded and bombed into oblivian!

    What if, instead of a siege, the Germans had invaded the city, and captured it? This would have totally collapsed the Russians northern flank! It also would have freed up several German divisions, Finnish divisions, and much needed Luftwaffe aircraft!

    With Lenningrad captured in 1941-1942. Then in the summer of 1942, instead of a single advance into the Caucauses, the Germans could have mounted a double offensive. One into the Caucauses (code name "blue"), and one south of Lenningrad towards Moscow.

    The Russians would have been forced to defend Moscow first, which would have ment an easier offensive in the south, and possibly the capture of Stalingrad as well as the oil fields in the Caucauses.

    Then by summer of 1943, the Germans now refreshed, and full of supplies, could prepare for one final attack against Moscow, and the remaining Red army.

    Matt :cool:
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I myself have always thought this would have been one of the turning points in the operation Barbarossa. Freeing the Leningrad troops for AGM and AGS action, as well the Finnish troops for northern Karelia attacks and Murmansk rail road.

    Instead Hitler wanted to let the people of Leningrad die by hunger and the Finnish troops were oredered by Mannerheim not to attack further towards Leningrad than some 60 kms ( 40 miles )of it.Quite strange warfare to me....
     
  3. Sniper

    Sniper Member

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    Indeed, Hitler's thinking was definitely not in keeping with Blitzkrieg tactics.

    Instead of laying seige to Leningrad, efforts should have been made to capture the city outright, freeing up those divisions for further action either towards Moscow, or North Easterley, cutting off the Russian forces near Finland and the Murmansk supply routes.

    With the defeat of the northern flank of the Russian forces, and the cutting off of supplies from Murmansk etc. the situation in the centre and south for the Russians would have been of great concern. Especially if Stalingrad also had been captured outright.

    With the forces freed from both the Leningrad and Stalingrad seiges, an renewed assault on Moscow and it's subsequent capture, would have been a very real possibility.

    And the capture of Moscow, may well have forced Stalin to sue for peace.

    ___________

    "Chamberlain seemed such a nice old gentleman that I thought I would give him my autograph."
    Adolf Hitler.
     
  4. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Considering the trouble the germans had taking Stalingrad, there's NO evidence to suggest that they could have "invaded and captured" Leningrad!
    Stalingrad was initially defended mainly by conscripted civilians- and the germans could not take that city. Leningrad actually had a significant garrison- "nearly 40 divisions of regulars in and around the city" (Veranov, 217). So how would th germans have just rolled in and captured the city??? Even if the russians only had half that number, 20 divisions, this was still FAR more than they had defending Stalingrad. I guess those russian divisions just give up without a fight? :rolleyes:

    On the Finnish issue- the Finns would not have advanced on Leningrad. "To Hitler's consternation, however, the Finns halted and switched to the defensive as soon as they regained the territory lost to the Soviet Union during the Winter War of 1939-1940. Although the Finnish troops on the Karelian Isthmus had dug in less than 30 miles from the northern fringes of Leningrad, they would go no further than their old frontier despite German pressure and entreaties."(Veranov, 217)
     
  5. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    I agree with CrazyD.

    1.) Lewingrad woudn't had fallen without bloody street fighting.
    2.) The Finns woudn't advance any further anyway.
    3.) At late 1941, the German Divisions surrounding Leninggrad were de-motorized.
    4.) The Germans would have had the responsibility to feed some addititonal 2,000,000 citizens during the winter - or let them starve ending with the consequent partisan movement.
    5.) At late 1941, the Germans had not the logistical means to shift several divisions from one Ármy Group to another; there were no vertical rw-connections in place and this would caused an earlier collapse of the German rail logistics, stopping advances on the other AG's.

    Cheers,
     
  6. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Yet another good point. I thought this was the case, but didn't have time to find sources. Someone with sources confirm or clarify this- I was under the impressio that throughout summer-fall 1941, as AG North was moving towards Lenenigrad, many of AG North's tanks and motorized units were removed and transferred to the other army groups.

    If this is the case, this would leave the germans in even worse shape for mounting any sort of offensive into Leningrad. Even less support...
    And to say the urban fighting as the germans entered leningrad would have been "bloody" is probably the understatement of the week! I think Stalingrad serves as a decent comparison here as to what kind of fighting the germans could have expected. And as I mentioned, Stalingrad was very poorly defended when the Germans attacked it; Leningrad was fortified and garrisoned with troops. "Invade and Capture"? Chances were slim to none of this happening, and absolutley none for an easy victory...

    If one wants a "What If?" based on Leningrad, go for the russian supply issue...

    What If the winter had been unseasonably warm? ;)
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Barbarossa troops:

    Army Group North was commanded by Field Marshal von Leeb and consisted of the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Armies of 18 infantry divisions and the First Panzer Group under General Hoepner. Army Group Centre was commanded by Field Marshal von Bock and consisted of the Fourth and Ninth Armies with the Second and Third Panzer Groups under Generals Guderian and Hoth. Army Group South was commanded by General von Rundstedt and consisted of the Sixth and Seventeenth Armies, the Third and Fourth Rumanian Armies, and General von Kliest's Fourth Panzer Group.

    For operation Typhoon the beginning of October the Hoepner´s First panzer group was sent to help the AGM as Guderian´s panzer group was more southern in position after giving the finishig blow at Kiev earlier.So AGN did not have actually a Panzer Group anymore!Unfortunately I cannot tell how many panzers AGN had at that moment but Hitler did not want to conquer Leningrad anymore...He wanted Moscow!Guderian started operation Typhoon on 30 September and the other AGN troops followed on 2nd Ocotber, I think.

    Check the map!

    http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/eastfront1/1typhoon.htm
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    From Uritsk city enemy armies were on closest distance from Leningrad. 58th German Division have grasped suburbs, where trams usually went. Only 15 kms separated Germans from city centre. The fascists by unaided eye saw Leningrad, factory pipes, portal cranes of shipyards. The city Kolpino was line of front, and cities Peterhof and Pushkino were grasp.

    To September 12, Hitler has ordered Leeb didn't take city with fight but only take in blockade and force capituladed it. In the middle of September the group of armies "North" was compelled to give back a part of it forces for realization offensive on Moscow.Even September 18, German command group of armies "North" considered, that armies be wedged in defense of the Leningrad front, but in week of extremely fierce fights was compelled to inform that with the stayed forces can not continue offensive to city.

    http://lenbat.narod.ru/eclose.htm
    -----------

    [​IMG]

    The Cruiser Aurora
    The blank shot that signalled the start of the Revolution was fired from the main gun of this 19th century battleship. The next day, Lenin announced the beginning of the communist era from its radio-cabin. Recent reconstruction has made the ship look like an oversized toy.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://www.funet.fi/pub/culture/russian/images/Leningrad/Leningrad.html
     
  9. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    for mp38, a somewhat realistic twist on this what if...

    While it was besieged by the germans, Leningrad recieved nearly al of it's supplies via an "ice road" across Lake Ladoga. Soooo... lets say the winter of 41-42 was unseasonably warm. At least 10 degrees above normal. Now, this is pretty far out there for a what if scenario, but at least it is plausible! IF the temperatures had been consistently warmer, would Lake Ladoga have frozen as solidly? And if it did not, would the russian supplies travelling across the lake have been cut off?
    I would actually go out on a limb with this one and suggest that there would have been a relatively good chance of Leningrad falling to the germans. As it was, with supplies passing over the frozen lake on a regular basis, Leningrad nearly starved. If we throw in a serious disruption of this supply lifeline, I think it would have been enough to force the russians into a really bad state. Capitualtion may be far-fetched, with Zhukov in command of the city's defences. But the russian defenders would have been in such a bad state after a while that resistance may well have diminished to a point where the germans could have taken the city, wether through increased bombing or a concentrated ground attack.

    Any thoughts?
     
  10. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Question is: Is the Lake Lagoda freeziong every winter or is there really a chance that it didn't freeze over?

    Somehow I'm missing a Russian poster on this board who might dig out that info in a few minutes on some kyrillic "weather history" sites...but maybe our Soumi friends can help?

    Cheers,
     
  11. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Andy, that part I'm not sure about. I would tend to guess, considering location and weather in general, that Lake Ladoga probably DOES freeze almost every winter. Northern Russia? Would seem pretty cold to me!
    But I share your sentiments on the need for russian weather data from the time. IF we find that in fact the weather could have been warmer, then this scenario has some potential. Even if the temperatures had just been warm enough to make the ice over Lake Ladoga significantly thinner, this could have had a major effect. I've seen videos before and read about the "ice road"- and it does seem very clear that the germans were able to put pressure on this "ice road". They were able to bomb it and it appears that parts of the road were in range of some of the german artillery. The ice was simply so thick that even arty rounds or bombs were not enough to really put the road out of commission.

    My more realistic theory would be along those lines. Assuming the weather was slkightly warmer, the ice over Lake Ladoga could have been thin enough to be destroyed by the germans.

    Cut off this supply line, and I wonder- would Leningrad still have been able to hold out?
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I had a feeling but I had to check and I think that lake Ladoga freezes quite well every year.

    "Lake Ladoga freezes at the edges from November-December, and in the centre between January and March"

    [​IMG]

    The single dotted line on Lake Ladoga marks Leningrad's sea defense line, held throughout the siege. The pointed border on land marks the siege line from September 1941 through January 1943. The double dotted line over Lake Ladoga marks the Russian motor routes over the frozen lake.

    ;)
     
  13. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Hmmm... interesting. This actually SOUNDS like it could support the "warmer winter" idea. Although I'm somewhat confused- does this mean that the center of the lake stays frozen between January and March, or that it reaches it's "most frozen" sometime between January and March?
    But either way- if the lake does not fully freeze over until at least January, this would at least suggest to me that a significant temperature rise could have actually created problems for the russians. We could be looking at two factors...
    1. If the lake did not freeze until a later date, this would have left the russians without desperatley needed supplies for even longer. The germans surrounded Leningrad in early September; if the russian defenders had been forced to wait an additional few weeks fof their supplies to start coming in, that alone could have made a major difference.
    2. If the "ice road" had been on thinner ice, I would think that the germans would have had a rather good chance of causing major disruptions in this supply line simply by breaking the ice! Again, I have seen footage of what certainly looks like bombs or arty shells impacting on the ice around the "ice road" (Although I cannot for certain place the footage at Ladoga; but the theory still holds). If the ice had been thinner, I would think that the germans would have had a fairly good chance of putting some holes in the ice and potentially cutting off the ice road completely.

    I guess all we would need now would be some information on russian winters. Do russian winters ever have significant "indian summers", or warm spells in the midst of winter? Is there an significant variation in the temperatures/weather encountered during a russian winter?

    and in the centre between January and March"
     
  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Consider the fact that 1942-43 winter in Russia was one of the coldest on record this from several Wehrmacht vets serving on the Ost front.
    I can tell you that the lake edges will thaw first before the center will in March/April. Depending on how cold it is with freeze/thaw temps in the early morn hours 3-4 a.m. and the wind chill factor. The Soviets could easily use the lake edges unless pouned by German mg's and artillery, then the scary move to more un-reachable areas and that being dead center of the lakes. January through March seems reasonable unless there was a quick thaw pattern. This is typical of our high Oregon lakes in the winter. We cannot ski over the center of the lakes until late January, but we have a thawing period by mid-February. Alos consider once the lake freezes in the center it will be over 6 feet thick which could take much weight, consider lastly the size of the lake as well...if huge of course it will take much longer for complete freeze action to take place.....get on those waiters !

    E
     
  15. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Good stuff, Erich...

    I guess this one is just a bit too speculative. Even if succh a warm spell had occurred, we don't know what effect it would have had on the lake. ALso, such a warm spell could have effected the plans and behaviour of either side.
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    On those convoys:

    Supplies came in sporadically by barge across Lake Ladoga during the summer of 1942 and during the winters trucks would drive over the frozen ice. Truck convoys would sink in bomb craters left by Stuka attacks and would disappear in the rapidly melting ice as the temperature increased in the spring. Some 500,000 residents were taken out, but most stayed and many died. The summer thaws would reveal more corpses in the streets, forgotten and buried by snow.

    Starvation was eased in 1943 by vegetable gardens that were planted on any open ground. Incredibly, war production continued in factories frozen by winter air coming through shell holes and bomb craters in the ceiling.

    In January 1943, the siege was broken by a Soviet offensive, but not completely lifted. The rail line with Moscow was reestablished. The Soviet offensive of January 1944 lifted the siege, and for the first time in almost 900 days the populace could walk openly in the streets without fear of air attack
    -------------

    Several hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city across Lake Ladoga via the famous "Road of Life" ("Doroga Zhizni") - the only route that connected the besieged city with the mainland. During the warm season people were ferried to the mainland, and in winter - carried by trucks that drove across the frozen lake under constant enemy bombardment
    -----------
    Link with Major Land (as the City defenders called a non-occupied territory of the Soviet Union) was a problem of life and death for besieged Leningrad. The resources of transport aircrafts were used to the maximum, but this kind of transport was not advanced enough those years. The basic military and civil communication line became Ladoga Lake, which south-west and south-east coast remained in Soviet hands. The activities of harbours' arrangement, fairways' deepening, narrow-gauge railways', warehouses' and earth-houses' construction were conducted in September and October in accelerated rate. The navigation began on September 12, 1941 between Osinovets beacon at the west and Gostinopolye Quay on Volkhov River, at the east. Ladoga Naval Flotilla being the part of Baltic Fleet is intended for the support of shipping line. The seamen did the utmost of their power, and sometimes impossible too, to supply Leningrad defenders of all necessary for life and struggle, to evacuate the peace inhabitants. The navigation lasted for 79 days. During this time about 760 t freights per day were transferred on average, including 570 t of food. About 33'500 Leningraders were evacuated altogether. Telephone and telegraph communication was established by using underwater cables. All these transportations passed in conditions of continuous air raids of German «Heinkels» and «Junkerses» from 20-35 km close shore.

    By the beginning of winter and freezing-over of Ladoga Lake the water communication was stopped. There was only one way for support of City by food and ammunition -- on ice of Lake. The duty of car&tractor road construction through the Ladoga Lake was assigned to Rear Service of the Leningrad Front under the order № 00172 from 19.11.1941. This Road had to support turnover of 4000 t goods per day in both directions. The chief of the Road was assigned the military engineer 1 rank V. G. Monahov. First sleigh animal-drawn carts went on November 20, and first motor-car came on ice the next day. So the Military Motor Road № 101 (VAD-101) appeared. But the citizens of town upon Neva gave it other name, which will be saved in Leningrad for many centuries -- «The Road of Life». It passed on a route: Osinovets cape -- Zelentsy Islands -- Kobona village and was 29 km long in all. But each metre of Road was paid by blood of Leningrad defenders, drivers, traffic-controllers, repairmen, AA gunners, signallers, hospital attendants. The winter road placed at 20-25 kilometres close by enemy shore. Enemy bombers and fighters made raids on the line day and night . Russian automobiles fell in ice shell-holes of air bombs. In November the German troops seized Tikhvin town, aiming to come to Svir' River and eastern coast of the Ladoga Lake and to intersect the last thread linked the City with Major Land.

    But Leningraders were courageous. The City lived, battled, laboured; the Philharmonic Society and theatres worked, in spite of that since November 20, workers began to receive 250 grammes of bread per day by food cards, and office workers, dependants and children -- 125 grammes. Other kind of food almost did not give. Physical strengths of City heroic defenders became weak, but their moral forces were not broken. Drivers organized the competition for fulfillment of doubled diurnal norm of transportation. ZIS-5, GAZ-AA, YAAZ cars went on ice day and night. Mobile repair shops and «ice hospitals» for wounded, freezed men and those, who became weaken of stravation, were equipped throughout the Road . Two defence zones were built on ice at 8-12 kms from shores held by enemies. The defence of the Road was performed by 4-th Marine Brigade, 284-th Rifle Regiment, 1-st Division of People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, by 23-rd Army elements. The anti-aircraft defence was provided by 10 separate AA-gun battalions, 39-th Fighter Division, 123-rd Fighter Regiment, 5-th and 13-th Fighter Regiments of the Baltic Fleet Air Forces. I-16 and I-153 outmoded light fighters stood against menacing German Messerschmitt Bf.109. Luftwaffe losses became appreciable only due to desperate heroism of the Soviet pilots, who were not afraid of ram attacks.


    The last days of the ice line.
    Photo. April, 1942. During the winter 1941-1942 the ice line of «Road of Life» operated for 152 days, till April 24. About 2375 t of goods per day were transported in one direction on average. 70% of freight received in Leningrad was the food. It allowed not only to improve a supply of Leningrad Front troops and city dwellers, to make a third increase of bread, but also to create the small reserves of a flour, sleet, meat and fish. Moreover the ammunition, fuels and lubricants oils, combat vehicles, artillery guns and tanks delivered to the City. About 514 000 city inhabitants, 35 000 wounded warriors, industrial equipment are evacuated from Leningrad during the first winter of blockade


    http://www.museum.navy.ru/f4e.htm

    http://www.oblmuseums.spb.ru/eng/museums/16/guide.html
     
  17. Sami

    Sami Member

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    - What I've read, Lake Ladoga, rarely freezes totally during winters. The edges of course do, but rarely the whole body of water. During the winter 1939-1940, it of course did.

    Cheers and Merry Christmas!
    Sami
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Sami!

    And Merry Christmas to You, too!

    ;)
     
  19. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Interesting... so maybe the Russians were able to hold out at Leningrad with the help of an unseasonably cold winter?
    And if those supplies had been cut off, the ability of the russians to resist any attack would have been greatly diminished. This could have allowed for the germans to have some chance of taking the city maybe...

    And happy holidays to all!
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Well, yeah, the "road of life" cut it MIGHT have meant the fall of Leningrad, but anyway the death of all the civilians for sure!If needed Stalin would have given food only to the the soldiers, I think! But If the "road of life " was the only meaningful supply route then to stop it would have meant the end for the people in Leningrad. I did not find any clues of air supply at least in the net.

    Some info from the net:

    As German armies raced across the western Soviet Union, three-quarters of Leningrad's industrial plants and hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants were evacuated to the east. More than two million residents remained, however, and the evacuated were replaced by refugees who fled to Leningrad ahead of the German advance.

    On September 8, German forces besieged the city, but they were held at bay by Leningrad's fortifications and its 200,000 Red Army defenders. That day, a German air bombardment set fire to warehouses containing a large part of Leningrad's scant food supply.

    Residents burned books and furniture to stay warm and searched for food to supplement their scarce rations. Animals from the city zoo were consumed early in the siege, followed before long by household pets. Wallpaper paste made from potatoes was scraped off the wall, and leather was boiled to produce an edible jelly. Grass and weeds were cooked, and scientists worked to extract vitamins from pine needles and tobacco dust. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, resorted to cannibalizing the dead, and in a few cases people were murdered for their flesh. The Leningrad police struggled to keep order and formed a special division to combat cannibalism.

    In January 1943, Red Army soldiers broke through the German line, rupturing the blockade and creating a more efficient supply route along the shores of Lake Ladoga. For the rest of the winter and then during the next, the "road of life" across the frozen Lake Ladoga kept Leningrad alive. Eventually, an oil pipeline and electric cables were laid on the lake bed. In the summer of 1943, vegetables planted on any open ground in the city supplemented rations.
    --------

    Interesting, I found some ideas by Sami on a forum back in 2000. I guess he should know...

    IF Mannerheim and President R.Ryti had decided to take part in the siege of Leningrad, it would've been easy for the Finns to advance in the Isthmus a little southwards, cutting the "road of life" supply route. Also, the Finnish Army could've advanced south of Svir, and harassed, or even closed, the eastern end of the supply route.So I'm 95% sure, that with Finland's help, Leningrad wouldn't have survived


    http://pub3.ezboard.com/fskalmanforumaxiscollaborationistforces.showMessage?topicID=69.topic

    Maybe...Like I said earlier that even keeping some Russian troops occupied in the northern sector of Leningrad would have helped the Germans probably to take Leningrad, but I never did think of this. Like with Mediterrenean take Gibraltar, with Leningrad stop the supplies, and you get the whole place for "free".I agree that it would have put Stalin and the city of Leningrad in a very weak position at least!
     
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