Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What If: Leningrad had been overrun?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by ThatOneGuy, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. ThatOneGuy

    ThatOneGuy New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Iowa
    What if Hitler did not have his men rest on the outskirts of Leningrad and instead forced a charge into the city? Would the Soviets be able to hold it? If not, how would that affect the Eastern Front? I think the Germans would have been able to take the city. Then Hitler, as he would have taken his Northern objective, would have been able to divert men and panzers to more needed areas like Moscow and Ukraine, maybe even send a few more units West.
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    235
    1) He would not have been able to divert more men and panzer to Moscow than he did in the OTL (the PzG of Hoeppner participated in Typhoon in the OTL) because of logistics,Ukraine was out of the question,and Ukraine did not need reinforcements .

    2) If he still did it, he would be faced with a Soviet counter-offensive in the North which would result in a very dangerous situation .
     
  3. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Messages:
    6,321
    Likes Received:
    459
    The German advance into Leningrad began to falter after Pushkin. Zhukov who relieved Veroshilov of his command played a very big part. The German advance decreased to less than a km a day. Von Leeb was in need of reinforcements. Everything was done to take the city including bombing it into submission. Hitler had enough. No more German lives were to be lost taking Leningrad. It was to be starved out then wiped off the earth.
     
  4. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    6
    Even if the German took the city regardless of cost, the Red Army would attempt to take it back, except lands south of the city onto the coast of Black Sea would already be under German control, which would be very very very unlikely. Furthermore, how the birthplace city of the Bolshevik Revolution impact the mind of Russians and other peoples shall also be assessed if the fall of the city meant something, not to mention Finland would not take the city. Making Finland participate in attack the city would yet be another alternative history. The chance of all three occasion happened will be very slim.
     
  5. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    6
    But another what-if would be trading Sevastopol for Leningrad,

    1) Van Manstein was not assigned to Crimea but continued on with Army Group North. AGN in general possessed less weaponry and machines but made up with better minds. In other words, AGN and Manstein stormed Leningrad and spent the winter in the city while clearing out partisans in it and receiving new batches of weaponry.
    2) The 3 divisions of Italian troops are assigned to AGN not AGS as their weaponry were light: motorcycles, bicycles, horses, tankettes, some aircraft. During their stay in Leningrad, they participated in counter-insurgency, on-field training and refitting captured Soviet tanks for their own use making use of the city's industrial facilities.

    Come late spring 1942, German troops would be ready in general to advance south while Italian armed with refitted tanks (like Finland) and their own machines and light weaponry would continued to hold the city. Hopefully, their experiences in counter-insurgence and combat in the city improved their performance later on. Starting at more or less the same time, the port of Leningrad would be open to small shipment of reinforcement given main facilities would likely be destroyed and thus take time to refit. By then, would Finland push on to the White Sea coast facing Red Army fortification or take advantage of Red Army defeat at Leningrad to negotiate at least a ceasefire to secure their gain?

    Comparing Romanian and Italian troops, would you the readers count on Italian troops more ? If so, then located Italians nearby Finnish troops: would Finnish intelligence, such as their interception of Soviet message in the Battle of Tali-Ihantala, pass on intelligence to the Italians? Finnish intelligence would prove their value in that latter battle in 1944 but their quality shall be highlighted. If Italians would be in AGS, they would have relied somehow on German intelligence and thus increased the latter's workload.

    Share among co-belligerent resources on secondary target while premium resources on primary target.
     
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    There is a lot here to unpack.

    I am with you on the value of Leningrad over Sevastopol. The latter was more likely to succumb to a siege than the former and from a political standpoint it would have greater propaganda value. It would also have value strategically in a number of small, but important areas. There were however reasons why Germany passed on this option.

    Finland was unwilling to commit to the operation, content with the gains they had. The ground was terrible and it would be a bloody job indeed. Something likely would have to give to get it done, either the Kiev encirclement or Operation Typhoon. The former could be dangerous, while the latter might actually have been a positive long term. Of course they might still try both and do neither very well.

    It is well and good to say AGN gets restocked with equipment for the spring of 1942, but as I recall most units moved out under strength in manpower and equipment in 1942 historically and if they tried for the trifecta (Leningrad/Kiev/Moscow) , they might actually be in worse shape in the spring of 1942.

    Italy is a Latin nation, and while snow and ice are not unknown to them, there is no easy way to describe the feel of lake effect snow. It is bone chilling in a way that has to be felt to be appreciated (trust me, I spent a month on Lake Erie during the winter holiday's and two winters in NE Illinois just NW of Chicago). Half the time they spent in the Leningrad area would be spent just trying to stay alive from the cold, let alone from any Soviets.

    The German's tended to keep running captured tanks for themselves, even Italian ones they took from the British in North Africa to maintain their own supply of tanks, so how generous they might be is in question. Nor could any significant 'production' be expected from Russian factories captured in Leningrad. Experience at Stalingrad indicates that allowing a factory to be captured intact was next to impossible. Even so the factory would have to be cleared, equipment repaired, laborer's secured and steel to be procured as well as repair of the electrical and communications grid. All during the middle of winter, while dealing with partisan's.

    Not a easy task to simply provide Italy a battalion or two of T-34/76's. This does not address the other glaring faults in a standard Italian Infantry Division, poor artillery, Anti-tank, anti-aircraft guns and simple motor transport.

    As for Finland, it is unlikely they would either seek a separate peace (Hitler would not allow), or move further east or south. They would do as they historically did, stand pat on the gains they made and hope for the best.

    All of Germany's minor allies mentioned provided 3rd class divisions at best, suitable for rear echelon duties only. They were too light, too under gunned, too im-mobile to effectively engage Soviet/Allied troops in anything other than a purely defensive role, and even then not if the enemy has mobility options.

    Italy had more of a integral Air/Naval/Armor capacity, but it was still inferior in nearly all aspects to their primary opponents.
     
    Sloniksp and knightdepaix like this.
  7. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    6
    So summing up in few sentences, belasar thinks capturing Leningrad held more strategic values than Sevastopol. If so, which troops shall be assigned to take it... German led for sure but shall German co-belligerent be participating? Italy would be excluded, which nations else would be participating... Hungary because Finnish and Hungarian languages are closer to each other than any other nations so low level soldiers without much higher education than secondary could still communicate, facilitating tactical cooperation. Or Foreign troops, such as Walloon Legion?
    My question is this, can taking Leningrad coerce the Soviet Union to give up the Baltic States and the whole Karelia along the White Sea Coast to Finland? I think the aim of OB would politically and economically secure more peoples and territory for Germany, the 3 Baltic States and Finland because no one nation could possibly grind in attrition in combat with the Red Army. Belasar already typed that each nation had its own non reconcilable objectives: Finnish troops would stand pat once Mannerheim and leadership decided enough.
     
  8. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Messages:
    6,321
    Likes Received:
    459
    No coercion needed. By the time the battle/siege of Leningrad had begun, the SU had lost control over the Baltic States and the Karelia region.
     
  9. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,503
    Likes Received:
    1,172
    If Germany wanted to take Leningrad, there were enough German troops and assets to take it so long as they were willing to put other operations on hold until it was completed. Their preferred allied troops would have been the Finn's as they were in the area and required no expensive or time consuming redeployment's, they were also familiar with the terrain and weather conditions as well as being excellent Infantry.

    Commonality of language, while useful, is not a deal breaker and pretty much excluded from the calculation in military planning, especially in conquests. Unfortunately Romanian and Hungarian troops offed no greater advantage than Italian (probably worse) and the same difficulties in redeployment to the far north of the battle lines. Western European 'Volunteer' formations tended to be equipped and trained to the same level of standard Heer units, often eventually being incorporated into the Waffen SS, but the Walloon Legion was at battalion strength at this time and eventually reached brigade size much later, not enough to make a meaningful difference.

    As Slava noted, by the time Leningrad was invested, Germany had these territories under their control and the nature of Barbarosa had effectively precluded a simple exchange of provinces. That is not to say such was not a good idea. Hitler idealized Fredrick the Great who expanded Prussia into a major European power, but Fredrick fought to acquire small but important additions to his empire, not entire countries. To be fair military operations at this time precluded wholesale conquests and Hitler would have been wise to follow his lead in this. Today Germany is the dominant power in Europe, and might have exited 'WWII' in the same manner if she had been content with the low hanging fruit that was there for the taking by fighting short wars for limited gains that kept the number of opponents to a minimum. What nearly destroyed Frederick's Prussia was involvement in a war with too many enemies stronger than he was.
     
  10. Brian Smith

    Brian Smith Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Messages:
    527
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    Bridlington East Riding Yorkshire England
    As can be seen from the above posts no one has a clue and really why should anyone care. History is rich with information on what did happen to the extent many people spend their lives trying to understand it without going off in to fantasy adventures.
     
  11. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    6
    For the German co-belligerents, belasar's idea shall be taken... I think Finland did and the Finnish forces attached along coasts of Lake Ladoga and into Karelia during the OB. Obviously when the Red Army had the tail up, Finnish forces receded but seizing the opportunity has merit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017

Share This Page