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What if Germans concentrated efforts against Leningrad instead of Moscow in winter 1941

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by leopold, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. leopold

    leopold Member

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    What are your thoughts on this alternative: instead of pushing towards Moscow after Kiev's fall the germans create a defensive line through Smolensk and consentrate their efforts in capturing Leningrad.
    When they do capture it they consolidate with the Fins and await the next spring to strike to Moscow?
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Militarily it would not make sense to aim for Leningrad. The Finns were not going past the isthmus. The German Right flank would be overexposed. Personally, I never saw the importance of capturing Leningrad in as much as capturing Stalingrad. Once Hitler reached the volga, the river traffic was cutoff which was the goal. The Germans should have stuck with the goal of the destruction of the Red Army even though the capture of Moscow would contribute militarily since it was the main railway hub. (all railways lead to Moscow) My 2 cents
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler should have at least one definite goal for 1941 as he kept changing the main object from Leningrad to Caucasus and Moscow all through the autumn. How much unnecessary troop and tank movement and useless oil consumption for weeks during which they are not involved in action and also many vehicles broke down never to be used in a battle.
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    True. Rerouting some of Guderian's tanks south to help with Kiev hindered that operation rather then help and delayed the advance to Moscow.
     
  5. Miller

    Miller Member

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    I can't say it would do much good.

    1. As PzJgr said the German right flank would be hugely exposed risking encirclement by Soviet forces or a cut in the German supply lines.

    2. This would have given the Red Army a lot more time to reinforce Moscow and get more replacements in from the East.

    3. Moscow was just the place to take. It was the Soviet Capital and all the German forces should have been directed towards it instead of three seperate objectives.
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    In a wargame that simply wouldn't work as the Reds would defend on the lousy terrain on the Northern front and gang up on the rest. By bye Romania, bye bye oil.
     
  7. Ironcross

    Ironcross Dishonorably Discharged

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    True
    But what if AGS stops on the doorstep of Kiev, be ready to defend its position if attacked, and Guderian's tanks don't come south. The red army most likely would hold on to the city instead of try to attack, or even retreat after the encirclement of Moscow. AGN should not lay siege but hold on to its pre-assault position. If this was the plan, AGC would be even stronger, since the solo reason for this operation was Moscow, leaving Ukraine and Leningrad for another operation in the coming year.
    The fall of Moscow would have massive impact. Line cut in 2 halfs, no "not one step back" order, AGC could just go down south in 42 and cut every russian in Ukraine(even by pass Stalingrad).
     
  8. leopold

    leopold Member

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    Thanks for your responses, guys.
    The reason I asked, is that I read somewhere that if Leningrad was captured, the city ports could have been used to facilitate logistic and also the severing of the Murmansk rail supply line could have been possible.
     
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Yes, it could have been possible but I don't think Lend Lease at that time was so vital. Later on, tonnage coming in from other routes (Persia and Vladivostok) was much bigger.

    IC, that kind of speculation on operational might-have-beens are much more fun if you have an opponent on the other side of the table separated by a map and card counters, and a number of empty beer bottles. That's what wargames are good at, otherwise it's all empty speculation with no solution.

    http://grognard.com/
     
  10. Ironcross

    Ironcross Dishonorably Discharged

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    Agreed Za. Thanks for the link.
     
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    T.A.Gardner will probably murder me for this, but you may still find this in ebay: http://www.wargameacademy.org/FITE/ . There may be something more modern in concept, but to be honest I'm completely outdated.

    I'm not familiar with current strategic/operational level computer wargames, but The Operational Art of War III (http://www.matrixgames.com/games/game.asp?gid=317) is rather decent.

    Most of the what-ifs here could be replaced by wargaming the situations instead of the usual "it is, t'is not" verbal matches here! Much more satisfying as well, damn it! ;)
     
  12. Ironcross

    Ironcross Dishonorably Discharged

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    Thank you very much, I must say. It is very well appreciated that you risk your life for your comrade in this forum. Why should anyone get offended by me playing a game??
     
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Nobody is going to be offended, what I think is "someone" will jump on me criticizing me for my bad taste in games :D

    See this thread, started by yourself ;) http://ww2f.com/showthread.php?t=12114
     
  14. Ironcross

    Ironcross Dishonorably Discharged

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    I found one on ebay, really don't know who i can really play it with after i buy it. It is sad that most people in my generation value partying more than anything else.
     
  15. chocapic

    chocapic Member

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    Well, IIRC this is the first module of the "Europa" serie, quite an "hardcore" wargame, but it was a reference in its days.

    I'm sorry being OT here, but I wonder if paper wargames still sell well, or have the PC games overtaken the market ?

    Back to the subject : I also think there was no decisive strategical advantage in capturing Leningrad in itself, which on the contrary was more a weight than an asset at this time for Soviet defenses.

    And after the fall of Smolensk, AGC was not in shape to attack a major objective like Moscow after exhausting battles to seal Russina pockets and protracted battles around Yelnia.

    Even if Guderian's Second Panzer Group had not been diverted to assist AGS against Kiev, I doubt AGC would be able to resume a large scale advance before well into august if not begining of september 41.

    At least Guderian's panzer had an effective role in the capture of Kiev, not like Hoth's panzer, who were ordered north to help take over Leningrad, before realizing it was hopeless and then ordered back south in premise of operationTyphoon.
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Taking Leningrad might have liberated the forces to the AGC/AGS areas and that would have mean one Army group! Even if we suppose there would be no propaganda value but then again Leningrad was the birth place of the USSR so it could have hurt a bit if it was lost. So at least on two different levels some advantage would be won by taking Leningrad. Also the Finnish troops would be liberated to work on the Murmansk area alone, and also by having taken Leningrad Mannerheim would have been convinced that the USSR might be losing the war.(?)
     
  17. Ironcross

    Ironcross Dishonorably Discharged

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    If Mannerheim wasn't convinced by the initial success of the operation, I am not sure if he would be convinced by the fall of Leningrad. The fall of Moscow would likely cause a general retreat of the entire line. If not, the broken line would be penetrated from the rear and surrounded. The only thing that kept the red army in the war was reinforcement. Broken line means no major counter offensive, broken transportation means the great patriotic war have turned into the great partisan war.
     
  18. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The taking of cities would not ensure victory. The destruction of the Red Army was the only way to win the Russo-German war. So, the taking of Leningrad though a political victory would by no means contribute to the destruction of the Red Army. It would have been a waste of time. My zwei pfennig
     
  19. chocapic

    chocapic Member

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    @ Kai : capturing Leningrad would have been better than, for example, failing in the capture of Moscow, I agree, ;)

    I meant that capturing Leningrad was not worth the price, I believe concentrating on Moscow was a better decision for Germans.

    I agree with PzJgr, whatever could tie the Red Army into a very large fight defending an objective, and therefore expose it to such widespread destruction that she would barely recover, was the most efficient aim for the Germans, and the reason behind the tunnel vision on Stalingrad in 42.

    As soon as end july begining of august 42, the German HQ had realised they were loosing the game of numbers (casualties/replacement availability) if operations had to be carried on at the same pace.

    I'm pretty sure that, after the frustrating advances towards Stalingrad and in Caucasus in sumer 42, where the Wermacht was not able to encircle and capture/destroy large Red Army parts, like it did in summer 41, one of the primary reason for the focus on Stalingrad after late summer begining of fall 42, when it became obvious for German HQ that Russian would defend Stalingrad at all cost, was the opportunity to destroy large Red Army forces.

    By chance Germans lost their gamble.

    I think it's the same in fall 41 : concentrating on Moscow gave the German army the (failed) opportunity not only to capture a strategical objective, but also to cause tremendous losses.

    IMHO Leningrad would not have been as much interesting, both in the strategical domain and for potential losses caused.

    And one must remember that, if it's impossible to tell with certainty whether USSR could have recovered from the loss of Moscow or Stalingrad, there was no doubt at the time, on the Russian side, that these cities had to be defended at all cost.
     
  20. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    I don't see Leningrad as a make or break for either side. Even if it was taken[terrible casualities too], they wasted their time. No oil or wheat to be gained.
    You hold Leningrad, so what. Russia was'nt going to give up. They still have 3/4 of their country with the oil/food/ factories/etc.
     

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