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What if Hitler bypasses Stalingrad...

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by von_noobie, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    As we all know, Most better then me so i hope to have your input, Germany tied down a lot of men, resources and time at Stalingrad with no results to make up for it. What if, Rather then putting all of that into the capture of what would in the end be a useless city they made further pushes into the caucuses? Simply put we are debating what might be the outcome if Hitler hadn't put his 2 cents in when OKH was putting together the plan for the conquest of the Caucasus.

    Just a small side note, I have come across information that stated 80% of the Soviet oil supply came from this region.
    Is it true?
    and if so..
    How might have the war on the Eastern front played out?

    I know that Russia had in the area or was in process of putting into the area these forces:

    Transcaucasian Front;

    44th Army (Major General A.A. Khaldejev)


    • 20th Mountain Rifle Division
    • 77th Mountain Rifle Division
    • 17th Cavalry Division
    • 24th Tank Regiment
    47th Army (Major General V.V. Novikov)


    • 63rd Mountain Rifle Division
    • 76th Mountain Rifle Division
    • 236th Rifle Division
    • 6th Tank Division
    • 54th Tank Division
    • 13th Motorcycle Regiment
    53rd Army (invaded Iran from Turkmenistan on the 27th of August)


    • 58th Rifle Corps
    • 83rd Mountain Rifle Division
    • 4th Cavalry Corps
    Southern Front;
    -64th Army
    -63rd Army
    -62nd Army
    -57th Army?
    -51st Army?

    Voronezh Front;
    -3rd Army
    -13th Army
    -40th Army
    -48th Army
    -5th Tank Army
    -2nd Air Army

    Don Front;
    -1st Guards Army
    -21st Army
    -24th Army
    -63rd Army
    -66th Army
    -4th Tank Army
    -16th Air Army
    -57th Army
    -62nd Army
    -64th Army
    I know that several armies are actually shown to be in multiple front's, Have found it difficult with how often Fronts and armies could be created and disbanded, especially in the early years on the Eastern front. But i will keep looking for more detailed info, preferably something with divisions involved and unit strengths. Though have come across numbers in the region being 1 million front line troop's and another 1.7 million reserve.

    Now while this is still very possibly a formidable opponent it is something the Germans would be able to handle far better then street fighting inside Stalingrad. Of all the armies in WWII that where superb at movement warfare on open ground Germany was the best, When her forces where properly trained and decently supplied at the start at least.

    The way i see it going down, Firstly, No splitting of the Army group, When Hitler split army group south into army group A and B, he created a logistical nightmare, Stretched as far as they where it would have been safer and more productive staying under the one command. Carry out the offensive the way OKH planned it for the most part before Hitler decided to get involved. The one thing they should not have done though is Bomb cities, One thing WWI should have taught any one is that bombed structures make great hiding spots and sometimes even better defensive positions. Bombed out Stalingrad = Death trap. Once they reach Stalingrad, Start advancing towards Astrakhan, Cut off what forces are in the Caucasus. Use Luftwaffe bomber's against soviet forces and there supplies in the Caucasus, Might not be very effective but would be far more useful then dropping bomb's on cities. By this time they should have aerial superiority over the Caucasus allowing the Blitzkrieg to once again rule the day, Slicing there way through and separating the Russian armies there.

    With the loss of so much of there fuel production capability, I don't see Russian armies being as active as History tells us. With the increase in fuel i see the various Axis armed forces becoming more active. And assuming the Anglo-Soviet attack on Iran still occurred, With German forces now being on there doorstep, And possibly even inside of Iran would they side with the Axis after being attacked by the British and Soviets?. While i dont see massed german armies invading the Middle East through this corridor, i do see small mobile forces being able to join up with Iranian forces and take Iraq, Syria, Palestine etc, Far too much territory for the British to defend when the Aussies have pulled out, and there facing Rommel in NA. Might be getting ahead of my self here so ill leave it at that and let you Gentleman school me some more =).

    Cheers, von_noobie (Matthew)
     
  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I went ahead and approved this post since it does open some interesting possibilities, but that said there are a number of things involved here which were unknown to Hitler at the time, and impact this scene.

    First, while the greater bulk of the domestic oil production came from the Baku field on the western Caspian Sea coast it had been closed and sealed long before Hitler could have even reached it. That is why the Baku I field didn't get 'back on line" supplying oil to the USSR until well post-war. It took them many months, if not years to get it all working again.

    Hitler didn't know he was aiming at an empty target, and that production had been transferred to the Baku II field on the east coast of the Caspian. The Soviets had long know of the other field, but hadn't really developed it at the time. Hitler also couldn't afford to leave an arms producing city un-molested on his left flank as he drove toward the "oil". The first of the Lend Lease" material was POL more than weapons, and while it continued to import high quality av-gas from the US, Baku II was up and running fueling the Soviet war effort in a very short time in reality. Baku I was "out of the picture" for the entire war. That was Hitler's target, it would have been an empty victory.

    Taking that empty oil target, which didn't contribute to the Soviet fuel supply for the entire war would alter nothing in reality.
     
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Just for fun here is a part of an old post of mine. Taking into consideration the growing demand for oil, the Baku workers reached the record level of oil extraction in 1941, i.e. 23.482 million tons. Just in case Hitler’s troops were not stopped before they reached Baku I, Stalin entrusted one man with making sure that the Nazis could not avail themselves of the city’s legendary oil. This man was Nikolai Baibakov.

    By the autumn of 1942, before the battle in Stalingrad even began, the existing 764 wells were stopped up with cement and prepared for destruction and 81 sets of drilling equipment and pumping stations, together with the personnel were sent to East Baku (Baku II), on the opposite shore of the Caspian Sea.

    There is a rather amusing anecdote concerning Stalin and Baibakov, it may be apocryphal but sound a bit like Stalin actually. It is reported that upon issuing his order to Baibakov to keep the Baku oil out of Nazi hands he reportedly said; “If one drop of our oil falls into Hitler’s hands, I will have you shot. If we cannot reopen and start producing in that field when the war is over, I will have you dug up and shot again.”
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The key point for the Germans in the 1942 campaign was to establish a secure flank along the Volga and Don rivers. If they could hold the Volga-Don line, the advance into the Caucasus could proceed; if not the armies advancing in the Caucasus would merely be thrusting themselves deeper into a trap. Anyone with a map could anticipate the obvious Russian countermove, an offensive towards Rostov.

    Taking or holding the city of Stalingrad was not necessary. The line could have been anchored on the been anchored on the bend of the Volga just south of the city, about where the Volga-Don canal is today (construction had just begun when WWII broke out). Other objectives like cutting off Soviet shipping on the Volga would be achieved by a German presence anywhere on the riverbank, it did not require controlling the city.

    Rather than putting additional forces into the Caucasus, the troops committed to Stalingrad, both infantry and armor, ought to have been used to establish a mobile defense against the essentially inevitable Russian attack. The battles outside Stalingrad such as the Chir River and Manstein's counterstroke demonstrate that at this point the Germans could still beat the Red Army in mobile warfare. A house-to-house slugging match was exactly what they didn't need, the worst way to fight the Soviets.
     
  5. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Carronade, I agree completely. Stalingrad could have been ignored and perhaps a secure flank on the left established without taking the city. But protecting an Army which is invading an empty target will still be a failure in the end.
     
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Good point, Clint - when did Stalin order the demolition? He doesn't seem to have had a lot of confidence in his armies.....

    What about Maikop? I've heard that the wells etc. were wrecked and would have taken a year or more to get back into production, also that a Brandenburg special operation secured them before they could be demolished. I'm always a bit skeptical when something sounds like too good a story.....
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    The demolition of the Baku I field was ordered in late '41, and completed by August of '42. Before Stalingrad was attacked. And the records from both sides seem to indicate that the Maikop/Grozny fields were effectively "out of production" until it was recaptured, since the pipeline material the Nazis had imported to the field and pumping stations was used to reconnect to the Soviet lines. I'm sure Stalin appreciated the high quality steel of the German pipe, doubt he sent a "thank you note" though.
     
  8. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Hmm, So i think we can all agree that Stalingrad was not necessary to secure the flank, And that the Germans could have taken the Caucasus if they had secured a front along the Don/Volga rivers isolating those forces in the Caucasus. While seems that this oil in these area's made no use to the Russian effort, and it apparently took time to get operational would it not have put bombers in range of the Baku II oil field?

    Also, researching the oil production, I still seem to come across figures stating that in 1942, Russian oil production stood at 22 million tons, with 19.8 million tons produced with in the Caucasus region, Specifically the site of current day Azerbaijan.

    Untitled
    Untitled

    In any case, Much of the Soviet supply of oil and various other items came from the Caucasus or an area with in range of bombers operating from the Caucasus, I may be stretching this a bit, But seeing as it took so long for Soviet Russia to get the other fields operating again, Would it not take just as long to find new sources, and set up new refineries if these oil fields where captured or bombed? It seems to me that the one thing that could have crippled the Russians was knocking out the oil industry in the region, While im sure the Russians would find new sources, They would not be as plentiful as the ones in these area's, And any attempt to retake them would mean diverting precious resources from the entire front leaving them unable to maneuver to counter any axis attack.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    the Soviets had a supply of 6 months of fuel behind the Urals. If the Germans did not get the oil, the German machinery would be crippled, but the Soviets could go on for at least 6 months without problems. I read these some years ago and the source is there as well somewhere in the Forums.
     
  10. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Hmm, Well i don't see 6 months of fuel being of much use to them, Germany would realize that holding the Caucasus region would be top priority, Even if they suffered high losses the inability of Russia to last as a massive fighting force beyond 6 months would more then make up for it.
    Reading further on the oil industry in the Caucasus, From what Ive gathered, assuming i haven't misinterpreted the information, It wasn't Russia blowing up the oil fields that dropped back the production, But it was there transferring of personnel to Baku II oil field. Even Baku II didn't receive much in the way of support in part's. By 1945 Baku II was only able to produce 4 million tons a year, Compared to the Caucasus region that produced almost 5 times that in 1942. Oil production in the Caucasus actually remained higher then the rest of Russia combined through out the entire war. Even in 1945 with so few personnal and lack of any spare parts, and destroyed oil fields they produced over 11 million tons.Even if only a 5th of the Caucasus oil producing capabilities was secured relatively intact, it would double oil supply to the axis. And that doesnt take into account the access to Iran's oil fields and to denying said oil fields to the British.
     
  11. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I would like to see sources which substantiate those production claims for the Caspian are for the USSR. None I have ever seen put the Baku I field in the mix, but it did have its best year in total production 22 + million tons as I recall in '42 before it was shut down in August of that year, and production shifted to the II field on the east side of the Caspian. Just curious.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    By Feb-March 1943 Germany had already left the Caucasus area, so they were not able to hold onto the Caucasus area, and if Hitler´s order to keep the SS panzer troops in Kharkov would have been followed, there would have been no panzer forces for the Germans to use either in the whole AGS area march 1943. Red Army turning north would then trap AGC, and I´d think there would be panic in Hitler´s living quarters....
     
  13. john1761

    john1761 Member

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    By passing Stalingrad to drive into the Caucus would leave a huge flank to protect with less forces. Instead , Case Blue forces should have stormed Stalingrad from the hop instead of diverting the motorized forces south when Stalingrad was still undefended. Then they should cross the Volga and drive to Saratov( I think a recesse element actual reached the outskirts) cutting off the caucus from the rest of the USSR. Germany was never going to get use of the oil during the war. Only by denieing it to the USSR could they have won.
     
  14. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Apologies, upon further investigation does seem that '42 was there last major extraction of oil from the Caucasus region, Though several locations continued drilling for oil and even shipping it across the Caspian sea. So does not seem that Germany would be able to gain control of those wells intact and operational.

    How long would it take to get those wells, or at least some of them operational again?
    or
    How long did it take the Germans on average to build a well (drilling rig)?

    But you must look at the turn of events, Hitler had split his forces creating what became pretty much gaps, or weak points, Which the Russians exploited in the launch of Operation Uranus followed by Operation Little Saturn. Operation Uranus was launched as a 2 front attack, pincer in from both sides trapping the forces inside Stalingrad. However had the Germans secured a line along Volga river then the attacks which had been launched by the Stalingrad's front's 51st and 57th armies would have first had to cross the Volga, Which was not frozen until early or mid December '42. Not to mention that the line of defense would be shorter, If you look at the area the German's had spread them self out across before the pulled back before operation Little Saturn, The German line would have been less then half had they secured the Caucasus and set them selves up along the Volga. They also would have had an entire Panzer army at there disposal.

    Saying they should have taken Stalingrad and actually being able to take it are 2 different things. At times even when they controlled 90% of Stalingrad and had far superior forces the simple situation with street fighting prevented the Germans from taking the City, The only way to take it would have been to isolate it, And to do that they would have had to bring up further materials and equipment to construct bridges or barges across the Volga, On a logistics line that was already strained that is just simply out of the question. The flank that would have needed protecting was not massive, Between the Don and the Volga was only a relatively small area and simple fact is, Russia would not be able to bring sufficient forces, equipment and supplies to there in time before Germany had taken care of the forces in the Caucasus, Once the Russian armies had been captured or isolated the First the Panzer army could remain to aid the infantry in mopping up, While the Fourth panzer army turns back towards Stalingrad.

    Would Axis casualties have been high? Yes But no where near as bad as what they suffered from the results of Russia's operation Uranus. Even equipment losses could have been far less.

    Considering the German's niche was blitzkrieg, Fast moving warfare.. Attacking into a city that can still receive supplies and reinforcements is out of the question, it is simple suicide. Only way to isolate Stalingrad would be to get across the Volga, to do that would take time, and time was a luxury they didn't have on the Russian front, Objectives had to be taken and then defenses had to be prepared to fend off Russian winter offensives. So they had to make most of there time, Secure there biggest man, material and resource drain that didn't have to be on the Eastern front in '42, The Caucasus. Do that, and they buy them selves more men, resources and material to counter a Russian offensive with.

    On top of what they could gain, They may also gain new allies, Iran.. Though friendly with Germany, They never sided with them.. Personally i believe i part due to the distance and fact that at that time everyone on there door step was part of the allies. If Germany took the Caucasus it cuts of an avenue of lend lease, Gains Germany an avenue in the Mid East to bring that front to a swift close, Maybe, and i stress maybe gains them new fuel source, Iran producing i believe 9 million tons of so a year in the area which Britain and Russia took over when they invaded. And maybe gains a new member into the Axis.
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    About the importance of Baku,I have some,incomplete,figures
    Soviet oil production:
    1940:32 million tons,of which for Baku :22 million (70 %)
    1941:? ,of which for Baku :25 million
    1943:? ,of which for Baku :18 million
    1945:19.5 million tons,of which for Baku :11.5 million(60¨%)
    Although Baku never was occupied,its production was down to 50 % (maintenance problems ?)
    While in 1940,oil accounted for 18.7 % of the Soviet energy mix,at the end of the war,it only was 15 %.
    In 1941,the SU exported 1 million tons of oil ,of which 25¨% to Germany.
    During the war,the SU imported 2.7 million of tons(L-L)
    I also read that the Soviet oil production during the war was 110 million of tons (IMHO:questionable)
    The Grozny production was down(between 1940/1945) to 36 % :from 2.4 million to 0.89 million
    For Maikop,it was from 2.2 to 0.7
    The fact is that the SU was able to win the war with 60 % of its préwar oil production .The reason could be that it was not that depending on oil.I have read (but,IMHO,its questionable)that the Soviet Army (navy not included) only consumed 13.5 million ton of oil during the war.
    Main source :
    Sturmvogel.orbat.com/SovOil.
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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  17. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Correct LJad, while many wells were capped with concrete, A major hinderance in the drilling of oil was that they got no spare parts and all of there oil drilling crews where shipped away. In the end cut off factories in the Caucasus where converted by the people with out instructions from Moscow, They actually set them selves 12-18 hour days, gave them selves no holidays or week ends, and most of those crewing the drills in the Caucasus where really young or really old, woman included. With out any support they still managed to contribute a fair amount of oil, shipping it across the Caspian sea, Some 10 million barrels of it in '42 or 43 alone.

    This imported oil wouldnt have come in large part from Iran would it? Seeing as the British and Russians invaded Iran just to secure the oil fields and and corridore for L-L. This corridore actually provided over 5 million tons of L-L.

    I find it very questionable, Seeing as the soviets pretty much fielded the largest land army of all the allies and had so far to travel.. Even the Germans and the other Axis countries used on average 10+ million tons of oil each year.. Though i believe some of this was for civilian use.

    While i knopw concede that capturing the oil fields intact and usable would largely be impossible (some wells would be taken intact, With so much industry there statistically some will fall into German hands, Not enought to supply all there forces on the Russian front though) the simple securing of the flank and opening up new access to new fuel sources (Iran) would be just as valuable. From what i can gather, Through the extended Flanks that didnt have to be, They had over half a million men wasted hat could have been acting as a reserve force, rotation force or a supply for the other armies.
     
  18. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    One factor that must be included in the use of petroleum in the USSR is that they had little in need for either civilian or agricultural oil use. Compared to other "new armies" of the moment they were probably the least mechanized. Their aircraft also functioned on a lot lower octane fuels, and while that limited their altitude for combat, their air park was mostly NOT that type of fleet in the time period. Their locomotives were almost exclusively coal/steam, with the exception of smaller diesel electrics used in the switching yards. I'm not sure when the Soviet rail went from coal to diesel in major amounts, but I am reasonably certain it was well post-war.

    The Soviets were great at exporting "stuff", and during the great famine Stalin was selling the grains to bolster his treasury rather than feeding his populace. They simply weren't as POL dependent as other nations at the wars start. Just a thought.
     
  19. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    ... the exact opposite is true. The Soviet industrial sector was relatively new, and rather than being coal based like the older established industrial sectors in Europe, it was oil based as built, the only such in Europe. Soviet agriculture was much the same, collectivization farming was the most mechanized in Europe, in part because it had to be; many of the peasants being "collected" had earlier slaughtered their draft animals in protest, they were replaced by half a million tractors, 165,000 combines and over 200,000 heavy trucks from that new oil based industrial sector.

    Most of the Soviet oil went to producing lower grade petrol and diesel for civilian and military use, after the Germans attacked they required huge imports of 100 octane aviation fuel. Make's sense when you think about it; Allied aircraft provided under Lend Lease needed it, and the performance of Soviet types was improved so much that it gave them a real edge over German types. The US shipped tanker loads of the stuff as a priority, then the British assumed the burden from Abadan production (and the US forces in the SW Pacific through the Indian Ocean), shipping through Persian pipelines initially adapted to supply British forces, plus another 750 miles of pipe supplied by the US, again as a priority - the Soviets preferred a large portion of the stuff coming this way for use by their southern forces, the ones talked about in this thread.

    I did up a lovely post Fri. evening on Soviet petro, which went poof! So did I, until now.
     
  20. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    "Marmat", the point I was trying to make was that the USSR was less oil dependent than similar sized western nations (population and area wise). The loss of oil for civilian vehicles, and agriculture would have less of an effect since they were so newly converted into this form of power. They had something upon which to fall back with less harm to their controlled economy or age old methods.

    Stalin's first complaint about the "stop-gap" M3 Grant and Lee tanks sent under L-L was that their radial aviation engines required high octane gas, and asked FDR to try and either adapt them to diesel or lower grade gasoline. That's all I was trying to point out.
     

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