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What If? - Stalin Lets Tukhachevsky Head Development of the Red Army

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by arca, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. arca

    arca Member

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    Five days ago on 11 th June it was 76 years to the day from execution of Marshal of the Soviet Union Mikhail Tukhachevsky and beginning of greatest blood letting in any army in history without resistance.
    Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky was a nobleman by birth and served in WW I as a lutenant but was captured in 1915. He escaped five times, last time from Ingolstadt fortress as incorrigible escapee.In late 1917 he joined the Red army as a lutenant and by 1919 by merit alone, despite his noble heritage he was commanding an army. After the civil war where he participated in all decisive battles showing his grand talent he became one of world leaders in the field of modern military theory.He advocated,already in 1920s modern, industrial backed war of manoeuvre, where leading role would have tanks, aircrafts and firepower(guns and automatic weapons).Among many of his postulates about future warfare were need for cooperation between different branches of the armed forces and need to avoid stalemate and attrition of great proportions that modern age defensive forces were able to deliver to attacking forces. For this purpose Tukhachevsky and other like Triandafillov developed new concept during the 1920, - the 'Deep battle'. This concept focused on the use of concentrated, combined arms forces utilizing planes, tanks, artillery and infantry ‘to penetrate the elaborate defense systems developed during the First World War’ (Glantz & House 1995), then to use mobile mechanized forces to encircle enemy formations attacking them from the rear and flanks preventing the enemy from forming a solid frontline and successive exploitations of enemy rear. Contrary to their contemporaries they gave leading role in these penetrations to tanks, while others were still giving tanks role of supporting other arms. In 1930 first mechanized brigade was created composed of amour, motorized infantry, artillery and reconnaissance units. And in 1932 first two mechanized corps were created (three years before first panzer divisions, which were also much smaller formations). Air force and airborne forces also played pivotal role in these new concepts, with first ever airborne assault was performed near Mogilev in 1930! New level of warfare was introduced, between tactics and strategic goals, the operational level. As Svechin summarized it: ‘Tactics make the steps from which operational leaps are assembled , strategy points the way’. These new theories were stipulated in Red army field regulations of 1929! ,already a Blitzkrieg like doctrine was a formal, written maxime of the RED army.
    Stalin hated Tukhachevsky from early on, because of his origin, his brilliance, their confrontations in civil war and Stalin’s paranoid fear of any one talented and prominent. Yet even the tyrant saw brilliance in avant-garde young commanders and allowed Tukhachevsky to head rebuilding of the army. In 1932 alone 4000! tanks were produced and each year about 3000 more rolled from giant tank factories built during first and especially second five year plan. Similar expansion was matched in aircraft, artillery and other armament. Simultaneously prodigal generation of theoreticians/ commanders introduced comprehensive rules and guidance for implementation of this new forces in the spirit of the Deep battle. In 1935 'Instructions on Deep battle' were made and in 1936 its final codified form, 'Provisional Field Regulations of 1936’. In 1935 Tukhachevsky became Marshal of Soviet union , and his army was leading the world in theory of modern war and also fielded more armoured units than the rest of the world combined, a true pride of soviet state.Meanwhile Wermacht had no armoured forces in 1932 when two mechanised corpses were already in existance and fielded 3 panzer divisions in 1935 with few hundred tanks (PZ I and II models).
    These extracts are some general principles, from original Field regulations of 1936 (in further text FR1936) :
    -‘Mechanized combat teams consisting of tanks, self-propelled artillery, and infantry on personnel carriers are capable of accomplishing independent missions either separated from the other branches or in cooperation with them. They have great mobility and massive fire and penetration power. The basic
    combat procedure for a mechanized combat team is a tank attack which must be supported by planned artillery fire. Movements and assault by the mechanized combat team must have air support.’
    -‘In the attack, tanks must be used in massed formations.’
    -‘-‘Modern neutralization weapons, primarily tanks, artillery, aviation, and mechanized units in large scale use provide the option of simultaneously attacking the entire depth of the enemy battle formation with the objective isolating,
    encircling, and destroying the enemy.
    Encircling the enemy is accomplished as follows:
    a. by envelopment of one or both flanks, for a decisive attack against the flank or rear of his main force;
    b. by a breakthrough by tanks and infantry on personnel carriers into the enemy rear with the objective of cutting off the retreat route of his main force;
    c. by attacks by air, mechanized units and cavalry against retreating enemy columns with the objective of hindering their retreat.’

    From early on there were two confronting camps in soviet military leadership. One group were talented military innovators around Tukhachecsky and the other were Stalin’s cronies who served with him in 1st cavalry army during civil war. Those were old guard officers who still drew on their civil war experience to create paradigm for modern warfare. During the 20s and until mid 30s the mechanized war protagonists had prominent role in shaping of the armed forces because of their obvious talent. But in mid 30s it became dangerous to be talented and prodigious especially if one overshadowed and/or contradicted comrade Stalin. By that time Stalin had eliminated all of his potential rivals, enemies, imaginary enemies and also man who simply had reputation or influence and obtained absolute power. Last bastion of people who he distrusted and who even dared openly contradicting him (about military science alone) was officer corps. In Stalin’s mind wasn’t just logic that one could perhaps comprehend, that the army was the only potential enemy with real power to endanger his absolute rule. He also decided to abolish entire paradigm of warfare, and to abolish the paradigm also meant to physically abolish all the men who shared it, no matter how harmless and insignificant they were for him, not because he perceived the teachings as harmful but just because it derived from his potential rival. This led to ravage of the intellectual cream of the army and eventualy led to utter devastation of army and military inteligentia leadership in whole. Starting with arrest, torture and execution of Tukhachevsky (also his wife and sisters were executed,and under age daughter was sent to GULAG as soon she turned 18..), it continued to to the unimaginable scale that left armed forces almost without talented, educated or even average theoreticians, commanders, teachers(in military schools), weapons designers and engeneers. At least 30 000 officers were executed or enslaved in concentration camps, many of those died later.

    This included 3 of 5 marshals,(of course two left were totally incompetent and responsible for at least few million unnecessary losses when war came), all 11 deputy defense commissars (all of them specialist for various fields of military art- air force ,artillery,mechanized forces,logistics etc.), all commanders of military districts, commanders and chiefs of staff of Navy and Air force, 14 of 16 army commanders, 60 of 67 corp commanders, 136 of 199 division commanders, 221 of 397 brigade commanders, and 50 percent of regiment commanders.(!!!!!!!) Another 10 000 officers were discharged in disgrace. Now old guard cavalry lobby took over. This meant return in terms of military science to civil war positions, dispersal of tanks evenly for infantry support,abolishing of mechanized corpses , comprehensive suppression of mechanized forces that included serious reduction of production, delay in development of new models and even decommission of many tanks already in use. Tukhachevsky and other specialists already in early 30s recognized draw backs of to lightly armored tanks, clumsy contemporary heavy tanks and inefficient aircraft of that time. Their efforts in early 30s led to start of development of new main, medium tank with adequate protection (later known asT-34), better heavy tanks (KV-1), more efficient ground attack aircraft (IL-2), and new generation of soviet fighters. In the late 30s, during the purges these developments were not abolished, but were considerably slowed, due to doctrinal shift to civil war experience and new priorities. For example Stalin and his clique hoped to reenact victorious performance of cavalry in the civil war, although this time the role of cavalry (which was retained in huge numbers) would also be assumed by light tanks, which were to be predominant armored tool .Also designers and factories leadership were heavily purged and suppressed . Air force role was acknowledged, and production continued less affected, but top aviation theoreticians and designers were purged or at least intimidated resulting in dramatic fall air force quality, both in doctrinal and design field. For example independent role of air force, crucial in modern war was recalled in favor of more primitive and ineffective role of exclusive ground army support.
    FR1936:
    -‘Air force units, apart from independent missions, act in close operational tactical coordination with the mixed combat teams. They are used against columns, troop and materiel assembly areas, and against transport facilities
    of all kinds (fighters and light bombers), against bridges (bombers), against enemy aircraft, on their air bases (interceptors, fighters, and light bombers). To achieve optimum combat effectiveness, aviation must attack in great numbers of aircraft.’
    Training and readiness of the army dropped dramatically (army internal survey conducted by general inspector of the infantry in autumn 1940 after debacle with Finland, showed that among 225 surveyed regimental commanders none had attended Frunze academy, 25 of them attended other lesser schools and the rest only attended regimental courses!), Others were paralyzed by fear and no innovation, initiative or flexibility was exercised. Officers acted only in a dogmatic, schematic like manner, with no initiative and no reaction to change of situation in the field without orders from superiors. All this led to catastrophic losses, belated actions, and one sided match when Germans came.
    FR1936:
    -‘ Very important is the personal initiative of lower-level leaders who are the first to experience a sudden change in the combat situation.’
    While Tukhachevsky and others developed theoretical part superbly, there wasn’t enough time before the purges for fine tuning, practical rehearsals and complete adaptation of theory to practice. This encompasses aspects like logistics, supply and maintenance of advancing mechanized forces, efficient communications, ratio of various army branches in combined arms units and new tactics for such novel units. All this was abruptly stopped when purges began.
    FR1936:
    -‘Only if the special service troops perform independently and proficiently, especially the engineer, communications
    and transport troops (rail and motor vehicle) is it possible to derive maximum benefit from the mobility of modern armed forces.....make the troop combat support service especially important and require absolute continuity in performing this service in all cases of troop combat activities and life....Organizing the materiel support of combat actions is therefore a most
    important duty of commanders and their staffs.’
    -‘...maintaining communications after relocation of the command post and ensuring cooperation between
    different branches during the individual phases of the action; use of radio facilities, type of transmitting orders while the battle is in progress;
    use of order receivers, signaling system, means for uninterrupted contact with mobile units operating in the enemy's rear; and uninterrupted communications
    with friendly rear area services’
    In 1936 no army in the world had all this elaborated to effective level because theory was relatively new and there was no war so far for testing and to put theory in practice.But in that time ‘Soviets were well ahead of Germans in theoretical concept and practical experience of mechanized warfare’ (Glantz).
    Spanish civil war provided necessary proving ground for new weapons and theories. During the war all sides encountered similar problems concerning mechanized units; inadequate armor of tanks, vulnerability to artillery fire, tendency to out run it’s supporting infantry and difficulties to penetrate prepared defenses on it’s own. These difficulties helped Germans to adjust and refine their performance ( acceleration of development of more heavily armored tanks, advancements in combined arms employment, etc.) On the other hand in 1939 Soviets created a commission headed by army commissar Kulik, dreaded inquisitor and main enforcer of Stalin’s terror in Red army( also idiot in all military matters), most others were anacronic soldiers (like marshal Budenny) and those few who still remembered enlightened teachings of Tukhachevsky didn’t dare speak up, cause losing career would be the best possible outcome of such action. In fact the difficulties of Spanish war only contributed to suspicion toward new theories and weapons. The results of this mind trust included removal of motorized infantry elements from mechanizes corps and brigades and assigning them infantry support role, further shift of focus from developing new hardware and supporting organizations needed for independent mechanized, mobile units, and finally year later abolishment of mechanized corpses. Purges and degradation of Red army continued until at least 1941, all the while Wermacht was perfecting the art of war.
    IMO there is no exacerbation possible in assessing the damage done to the Red army by Stalin’s purges.
    The State the Red army in 1941 was a direct consequence of combination of stupidity, paranoia, ambition and madness of one J.V.Stalin.

    View attachment 18954

    IF Stalin didn’t kill his best soldier and allowed him to lead development of the army unhindered IMO in 1941 there would be a different player in the east. These are my assessments:
    -Without neglecting new designs development and purging of engineers, factory managers and constructors, there would be much more modern weapons which would present considerable threat to Germans. Especially armor, and also air force, capable of better defense of itself and also delivering punishment .
    -Existence of combined arms units capable of independent operations on operational scale (use of adequately armored, massed tanks ,development of logistics, communications, infantry support for such units; equivalent to german panzer corps or groups.)
    - Independent air force organization, not hindered by constant demands by the army, but also allowed to act independently to achieve its full potential.
    -Educated, experienced and competent leadership, who would practice initiative – probably one of biggest disadvantages in 1941.
    - Existence of more realistic defense plan. Actual defense plan of ‘41 anticipated several weeks of time for the Red army to mobilize after the hostilities broke out, before Germans could mobilize and concentrate themselves. It also predicted Red army to be evenly deployed across entire border( at least the first echelon, the largest), ripe for destruction. IMO man as Tukhachevsky who had such understanding of modern mechanized war wouldn’t deploy army in a fashion he would wish enemy army was deployed if he was attacking it. Also totally unrealistic predicaments about time needed by the Germans to hit with full strength after initial attack was criminal self delusion, probably attempt to connive Stalin. Because after becoming partly conscious of the state of the army after 1941 war games, Stalin was gripped by panic and didn’t allow for any degree of army mobilization and readiness so not to provoke Hitler into attacking. This resulted in peace time deployment of the army, which meant unmasked aircrafts packed in tight lines, begging to be wiped out; ammunition, fuel, even artillery aiming equipment, everything was in distant warehouses, which could have been on Mars as well when Luftwaffe came in. Furthermore there was clear numerical superiority of the Wermacht in the western districts, which enabled Wermacht to engage Red army peace meal . All of these deficiencies were supposed to be dealt with in those few weeks defense plan envisaged. If army was stronger and led by competent man IMO it is reasonable to assume that army would be mobilized and at least more ready for war, because there would be no need to please Hitler by pulling panties down.
    -Communications were one of important reason for catastrophe of 41. If things were different IMO this problem could also have been smaller because Tukhachevsky predicted the use of radios for control of units in mobile warfare, while after his fall nothing was done in this field, while field phones and civil phone lines??, were supposed to be used for communicating.

    A real glimpse into what might happened scenario can be found find in the Far East. There the purges and restrains on commanders were much lighter because of real threat from Japan and distance from the capital and center of power. (therefore Stalin perceived it as less of a threat for himself). In 1939 Japanese invaded a remote area in Outer Mongolia and hoped to provoke the Soviets into smashing themselves into their prepared defenses. They got more then they bargained for . One of Tukhachevsky’s most brilliant disciples, then corps commander, general Zhukov, attacked the Japanese, with forces in front pinning them down, while concentrated tank forces supported by motorized infantry and aircraft broke through on the narrow sectors on the flanks, exploited in operational depth and encircled entire Japanese force. Japanese lost more than 60 000 man, which caused them to look elsewhere to create their empire. Battle at Halkin Gol demonstrated soundness of theory and force structure of the Deep battle, before world was shocked by Nazi Blitzkrieg demonstration in Poland.

    Therefore with unhindered development of Soviet army from 1936-41 my assessment is that
    -Luftwaffe would perhaps have air superiority but no air supremacy. This would mean that on chosen axis of advance Germans could rule the skies, but elsewhere their troops while moving in the open or resuppliing would also be attacked by soviet Air force. Furthermore Nazi dive bombers couldn’t roam about freely in hunt and destroy missions( as they were very vulnerable), but only with protection, which would diminish efficiency of their use. Also better air reconnaissance for Soviet part would be possible (this problem prevented Soviets to detect direction of German forces and defend critical areas or counter attack in right places).
    -As we saw from real historical examples, when German infantry attacked sectors where Soviets were even a bit prepared (for example they had ammunition, or at least part of forces occupied defensive positions), like in front of Kuznetsov’s 3rd army, or Brest fortress, they would bog down and defeat those units by flanking them through neighboring sectors where no positions were manned, and no ammo , supplies or equipment yet distributed, or by costly frontal attacks. Therefore IMO there would have been some heavy fighting along entire border with appreciable bloodletting already starting for the Germans. Even though forward echelons would be defeated relatively fast with the help of armored groups flanking actions, this would slow things down and give more time to Soviets to better prepare to fight in second and third echelon of first strategic belt(before Dnieper- Dvina line) blooding Germans even more.
    -German armored spearheads would be prime targets for soviet numerous and powerful combined arms mechanized forces( and also the air force). After breach of each prepared echelon, panzer groups would be counter attacked and severely mauled by such formations. This would be felt especially in the north and south where Germans had only one mobile group per army group. Therefore IMO after rupturing second echelon and being counter attacked for probably second time, power of the 1st and 4th panzer groups would diminish and wouldn’t even take them to second strategic belt before Dvina and Dnieper. In the center two panzer groups would probably pull out Byalistock and probably Minsk encirclements, but after breaking through 3rd echelon on Berezina and renewed armored counter attack, these groups would also came to a halt in front of 2nd strategic belt, and with both flanks in the air because of less effective advance of army groups north and south.
    This would mean that first stalemate would happen in best case for the Germans before soviet second strategic defence belt at Dvina – Smolensk – Dnieper line(in the south primarily, probably even earlier), and that in some 2 months it would take them to reach this line, war would have been lost for them. It’s very hard to say how would Soviets fare in ensuing counter offensive, but IMO war would be at least 2 years shorter and some 8-10 instead of 28 millions soviet soldiers and civilians would have died.
    In reality, later in the war Soviets simply returned to Deep battle paradigm, also picked something up from the Germans and started to turn the tables, which is also indicative of what might happen much earlier.

    View attachment 18953

    In 1957 Tukhachevsky and his co-defendants were rehabilitated.

    View attachment 18951
     

    Attached Files:

  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I question the wisdom of the claim that te initial Soviet defeats were caused by the stupidity,paranoia,ambition,madness of JV Stalin .

    IMHO,it was caused by a combination of logistic problems ,an overexpansion of the Red Army,and a faultly concept (for which one of the responsibles was Tuk)

    Very simply,the Soviet strategy in case of invasion was :

    1)The Soviet standing forces would go to the border and stop the attacker

    2) Meanwhile,the reserves(call it the C divisions,the invisible divisions) would be mobilized.

    3) In cooperation with the standing forces,they would repel the invader and march to his capital .

    What was happening ?

    Due to the above mentioned shortcomings,a lot of the units which were going west fell apart during their advance and collapsed BEFORE they ever saw a German .

    The reserve forces now had the mission to stop the invader,something they were succesful in,but with big losses .
    The rest is history .

    As we have no reliable information about the quality of the Soviet forces before the purges,it is,IMHO,an unproved claim that these would have gone to Berlin in 1941,but were prevented to do this by the purges .

    BTW :it is IMHO also questionable to say that before the purges,Tuk was the leader of the Red Army .
     
  3. arca

    arca Member

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    Concept was partly faulty, but Blitzkrig also neglected defence and orientated to offencive, and no one is questioning the soundness of that, just because they were sucesfull, but I argue that Soviets would have been more succesfull if they hadn't revolved back to civil doctrine and thinking.
    Yes defeats were caused by a combination of logistic problems and overexpansion(among other things), but who did nothing to refine the existing solid situation of '36, but abolished all the advanment made so far? Stalin.Also Kulik,Voroshilov and other top man of that time. Who overexpanded the army while simultaneously purging the best officers and greatly neglecting education of entire officer corps, that were not purged.Stalin. Who developed moronic state defence plan of 1941 Voroshilov, Stalin, Kulik, Budenny, Shaposhnikov (mostly only materialising the wishes of his superiors). I' m arguing that those problems you talk about derived from elimination of army inteligentsia, which is the fundamental problem, and of course because of diverting from their allready achived accomplishments.

    I didn't claim they would go to Berlin in '41, but in '43. And that they would stop them at Dniepr Dvina instead at Moscow in '41. This is of course just my humble opinion..
    Tukhachevky was given a mandate by Stalin to lead the development of the Red army in 1930, but of course he wasn't comander in chief.
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    This is only the Soviet version of the version of Manstein and the other goose-steppers . The Soviets in Berlin in 1943 is out of the question : there was also a German army .After the war Manstein,etc was blaming Adolf for the defeat,and Zhukov,etc,was blaming Stalin for the initial defeats of 1941.

    Both were assuming that ,because Adolf and Stalin were dead and were evil people,every one would believe their propaganda and fall in the trap .And,reading some posts,it is obvious that a lot of people still are arguing as following :

    1) Adolf and Stalin were evil people (right)

    2) They lost to good peope( Adolf in 1945 ,the successors of Stalin in 1989 (right)

    3)They lost because they were stupid (wrong : they were intelligent)

    4)Evil stupid people always will lose to competent good people (wrong) .

    I fear that these people will come away with a flea in their ear.

    But, we know that there is no limit to the willingness of some people to believe what they want to believe :Uncle Joe is a good democrat, every one loves the US,Moslims are people like us : they only want a better live,...

    I could continue the list of one-clinchers,,but it would be futile .
     
  5. arca

    arca Member

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    Soviet victory in '43 is just my prediction in a what if scenario, nothing else. I don't think Stalin or Hitler were stupid, but they were military amateurs, profoundly influenced in their wiews by ideology, and espetialy Stalin by patological paranoia.
     
  6. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    I agree that executing Tukhachevski (& many other brilliant marshals, generals, colonels, plane designers, scientists, etc,) & leaving only the extremely dumb Shaposhnikov, Budyoni, Voroshilov, etc, & especially, Stalin acting as a strategist & siding with Hitler was disastrous for the USSR.
    It left the tens of thousands of cannon, tanks, planes & trucks in extremely incompetent hands, which deployed & maneuvered them in the worst possible way.
    Moreover, not only did Stalin ruin the armed forces by beheading them, he made the same mistake as France, he wasted huge resources trying to develop a powerful navy & extremely expensive fortifications (Kiev, Sevastopol, etc,). Stalin also wasted huge resources on the luxurious subway the canal, which was nearly useless & designing the monstrous building in Moscow, whose soil could not support it, so that years of labor by talented engineers were wasted. He also ignored his generals' advice to relocate the huge amounts of munitions, fuel, troops, cannon, tanks & planes, etc, from the W Ukraine & Belorussia to more tenable positions behind the Dnieper, less exposed to the Luftwaffe & to rapid armor thrusts.

    Had Tuchachevski been in charge of the armed forces in 1939, when Germany was quite weak & its armament & munitions production ridiculous, STalin could have easily affforded to send Ribbentrop back to Berlin on August 23, 1939 with a warning that if Germany attacked Poland, the USSR would declare war n Germany, supply Poland, attack E Prussia after rapidly invading Lithuania & Latvia, instead of returning with the R-M pact, which enabled Germany to start the war. Moreover, Tuchachevski would have known that providing munitions, fuel & obsolete armament to Poland to oppose & bleed Germany made a lot more sense than to help Hitler to wipe out the Polish army & then murder the captured Polish officers. Hitler would never have invaded a better armed Poland, knowing that he would immediately face war against the USSR.
    Tuchachevski would have probably immidately invaded Latvia & Lithuania upon Ribbentrops's proposal & placed a large force facing E Prussia even before Germany invaded Poland.
    Tuchachevski would have certainly opposed the partial invasions of Finlandia i& Romania (the former in the worst possible weather & in the worst possible way), sustaining heavy casualties & major loss of prestige in order to create gratuitously 2 enemies when war is imminent with Germany. He would have favor either complete invasion (depriving Hitler of Romanian oil & troops) or no invasion at all & perhaps an alliance with Romania (a French ally, before Hitler defeated France & Stalin invaded Bessaravia).
     
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  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    You seam to be ascribing powers to Tukachevski that especially in a state like the USSR reside at the top of the political leadership.
     
  8. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    From the openning statement:

    "IF Stalin didn’t kill his best soldier and allowed him to lead development of the army unhindered IMO in 1941"

    The incredible fact is that Stalin, knowing that Tukhachevsky and many others were much smarter than himself, had them executed and decided to make personally all developmental, deployment and strategic decisions. All this despite Stalin having caused the debacle in 1921 against Poland, by disobeying Tukhachevski and attacking in Lvov with Budyoni. Then Stalin repeatedly ignored the few half decent generals he had left (Kirponos, Pavlov, whom he executed, etc,) and maintained his stooges in high positions (Voroshilov, Budyoni, Shaposhnikov & Timoshenko), allowing them to make many major mistakes in Finland & Barbarossa, which exacerbated his lousy decisions and orders.

    Fortunately for the USSR, a few decent generals were tortured but were still alive when Germany attacked and could return to combat (Rokossovsky, etc,)
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Leading development of the army does not mean that they get to decide when and who to attack. Some of your other speculation is rather questionable as well IMO.
     
  10. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    It means that the red army is competently led at all levels, has a strategy & good tactics. Instead of being an amorphous mass, w/o a plan, with incongruent tactics, with political comissars interfering with already confused, inexperienced young officers & with Stalin deploying the bulk of Soviet forces & large stores of fuel, munitions, etc, in 3 weak tiers within range of the LW & then with Stalin ordering suicidal, hastily prepared counter attacks.

    Stalin desperately needed a strategist to tell him what to do (just like Hitler, Mussolini and Churchill, all of whom were lousy strategists and also often overrode or dismissed their best strategists).
    It is often stated that Stalin was buying time when he signed the R-M pact on Aug. 23, 1939. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hitler instigated the pact, because he was terrified of having to fight Poland, France, Britain & the USSR simultaneously. The pact enabled him to safely start the war within a week. Anybody with the least strategic ability could have informed Stalin that in order to buy time, the worst actions he could take were to allow Hitler to attack Poland, to help him to defeat Poland & then to supply him so he could defeat France and feed his large army before he attacked the USSR.
     
  11. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Nonsense. No one predicted the fall of France. France held off the might of the German army for four years in 1914-1918. On paper, the French army alone was still better than the German army, and the English were there as well. Not even the Germans predicted that France would fall. Hitler drew down the production of tanks, and vastly expanded the production of artillery ammunition in '39-'40, precisely because he was also expecting a stalemate to develop along a similar line. Plans called for Luftwaffe bases to be placed in the Low countries to harry England, not in France. Statistically, time was on the side of the USSR, as all indicators pointed to continued expansion of industry and of the economy. The pace of industrialization was beyond spectacular. They were well on their way to becoming, if not already, the world's leading producer of Coal, Oil, Iron Ore, Manganese, Cement, Gold, and Natural gas. Ideologically, it was perfect to encourage the conflict between the Capitalist and Fascist powers.

    Stalin needed the machinery and factory equipment they were getting from Germany with the pact, to continue their industrial growth. Should he have forgone that growth?

    Had France withstood Germany for four years, what kind of shape would Nazi Germany be in, and what shape would the Soviet Bear be in?

    Your simplistic analysis turns a blind eye away from inconvenient Soviet successes (Industrial, Economical, as well as Military such as vs Japan in Mongolia. Eastern Poland, the Baltics; You don't organise the occupation of entire countries with an amorphous mass), and ignores the very real gains the Soviets made. The timing of the pact was very fortuitous for the Soviets as well, and only made after the British managed to basically give the Soviets a not-so-diplomatic extended mid-finger.

    It's strange really; The Poles have their excuses for why they got steam-rolled by the Germans (Stabbed in the back by Russia!). The French have theirs (The woods!), and the Russians theirs (the purges). Or, perhaps, the Germans knew what they were doing, in those first weeks, and Tukachevsky wouldn't have made any difference at all in those first desperate 6 months.
     
  12. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    If blame is to be placed on one man truly responsible for Tukochevskys fait, it was Veroshilov. The two men hated each other.

    I would certainly not place Shaposhnikov and Timoshenko in the same bracket as Veroshilov. Both were very capable men. Was it not Timoshenko who relieved Veroshilov in Finland and broke through the Mannerheim line with weeks of arriving?
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Tuchachewsky or not : the result would be the same : the situation of the Red Army on 21 june 1941 was catastrophic,and an other minister of war could change nothing .

    Besides the influence of the purge of the Red Army is much exaggerated : only a few number was purged and a lot returned .

    Chapochnokof was a very capable general, better as chief of steff than Zhukov .And very estimee ded by Stalin .
     
  14. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Shaposhnikov informed Kirponos that the imminent encirclement of Kiev by Guderian and Kleist was simply a fiction, so withdrawing was nor granted. This cost the USSR over 600,000 men (captured, killed or missing), including Kirponos (one of the few capable, young, Soviet generals). Kiev also cost the USSR an enormous amount of cannon, machine guns, munitions, trucks, horses, etc, which were sorely needed to continue fighting the Germans. It was the greatest debacle in WW II to date. Shaposhnikov and the other Stalin stooges had also presided in Tukhachevski's trial & condemned him.
    Stalin eliminated the brilliant leaders he had, leaving only those dumber than himself.

    The purge is not over estimated, it killed all the smart & experienced field marshals, generals and colonels and many majors. It left not a single experienced, smart general over 50 years old (like Kleist, Guderian, Hoth, Höpner, Rundstedt, List, Model, Heinrici, Strachwitz, Rommel, etc,). The red army had plenty of men and materiel but no smart, experienced leaders.

    There are many examples of other lousy decisions, which had enormous consequences and which Tukhachevski would not have tolerated:
    1) The Soviets had more and better 45 mm AT & light tank guns than the 37 mm guns of the Germans. However, the AT shells fragmented, instead of penetrating, so that literally tens of thousands of guns were useless against the few, weak German light tanks that made the bulk of German armor in Barbarossa. Had Tukhachevski been alive and in charge, this never would have happened and the Germans would have lost many more tanks and the Soviets many fewer tanks on the first weeks of the invasion.

    2) Even the Poles had thinly spread out and camouflaged their planes far from the border, so that they were destroyed slowly when the LW attacked. In contrast, the Soviet planes were concentrated and neatly line up in airfields close to the border, so that 2,000 were wiped out (mostly on the ground) on the first day with minor LW losses. Even if some of the fighters were inferior to the Bf 109, used intelligently, their huge numbers could have destroyed at least a thousand axis bombers & a few hundred fighters in the first week of the war.

    3) The Soviets had 3 weak tiers, the first one along the border. They were not close enough, nor meant to support each other, nor strong enough to stop him alone, so that they were easily defeated piecemeal. Any of the experienced, smart generals would have known that placing the bulk of the artillery, infantry, planes and armor behind the Dnieper and other wide rivers would have stopped the Germans cold & inflicted them much heavier casualties trying to break through & caused them much more difficutly supplying an offensive than close to their ammo, fuel, spare part and food dumps.

    4) In 1939, when the USSR feared a German attack, Stalin tried to bully Finland into yielding 10% of its territory & allowing Soviet bases in Finland. When the Finns refused, Stalin ordered the invasion of Finland in the worst possible weather, under lousy leadership and in most defensible territory. He wasted over 100,000 men, lots of equipment and ammunitions and the prestige of the Soviet armed forces and most importantly he turned a neutral country into a deadly enemy, which would allow German troops in its territory and fight to liberatedthe territory it just lost. After defeating the Finns in 1940, Stalin did not even take over the whole country, so he would not leave an enemy nextdoor and so he could eventually threaten Sweden into stopping sales of iron ore, AAA, ball bearings, etc, to Germany and so he could eventually help Norwegian army or resistance in case of German invasion. Any strategist would have laughed at such absurd decisions.
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Not likely.

    1) Entirely speculative.

    2) Not likely,as the attack was a surprise. In the 1930's you don't disperse your air force, without good reason. Dispersing would've been problematic, as there were issues with communication and both pilot and ground crew training. The LaGG-3 and I-16 were massively inferior aircraft. The Luftwaffe only had ca 2600 combat aircraft in the theatre on 22nd June, and less than 1000 medium bombers. Yet whenever the Soviets did get into the air, they were massacred.

    3) Yet, there is an importance to having a visible military might in territories you have recently conquered, and are still in the process of subjugating the populace to some extent. You are only operating on the assumption that the Soviets only had one concern, the Germans. While the Germans were of course a long term concern, the belief was, with the UK still in the War, the Germans were not a concern in the short or medium term. In the short term, they had to dominate the locals, yet keep civil society functioning, while developing new defences, after moving their borders forward many 100s of kilometers.

    4) There was a wide expectation that the Finns would not resist, not only in the Soviet Union, but even wider afield; Furthermore, this was done after signing the pact, so German aggression was not an immediate concern. Another issue was, because of the sturdy defense offered by the Finns, it was apparent that it would be difficult to justify the incorporation of Finland into the Soviet Union on the pretense of it being the will of the common man. As they gained more concessions at the war's conclusion than what they originally demanded, including a border with Norway, and the mines of Petsamo. Ending the war, also freed the Soviet army to get involved in more rewarding adventurism. Such as the Baltic States, and Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The repeated use of lousy as an argument in post 14 remembers me the same use on ACG by a poster from Morelia .

    Whatever, the impact of the purge of the Red Army was very limited:a small number of officers were fired,only a part of them for political motives and only a part of those went to the Gulag or the Lubianka .
     
  17. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    sloniksp,
    Voroshilov was just a stooge of Stalin, just like Saposhnikov, Budyoni and Timoshenko.
    Stalin and Budyoni hated Tukhachevsky also, since 1921 in Poland, when the former ruined the campaign at great cost for the USSR, by disobbeying the latter.

    There was nothing brilliant about Timoshenko's campaign in Finland, he simply threw even more ridiculous numbers of planes, medium and heavy cannon, tanks & men against a small, weak army, which was running out of munitions and experienced fighters after months of heavy fighting and broke through without any brilliant maneuvers or tactics, the dumbest leader could have done that. Even Voroshilov or Budyioni would have broken through with such massive firepower concentrated in a narrow front.and with the Finns out of munitions. Thousands of planes, guns (including some 20 cm and with unlimited shells), thousands of tanks (including a few KV) and masses of fresh men against a few tens of thousands of exhausted Finns in meager fortifications with a few cannon (including pre WW I) and short of ammo, took a surprisingly long time to break through and sustaining heavy losses.
     
  18. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Green Slime
    It is not speculation, but a fact that tens of thousands of 45 mm guns with useless AT shells can destroy many fewer German tanks and will therefore cost more Soviet tanks and AT guns, than the same guns with usefull AT shells. The incredible fact is that they wasted so many resources producing so many guns and tanks and useless shells.
    It is also a fact that a smart leader (who knows the value of armor) developing the army without restrictions (per the openning statement) would never tolerate such valuable guns and tanks becoming useless because they have faulty AT shells.

    Thousands of I-16, I-153 and better fighters were a formidable asset and should have been able to shoot down many more bombers and to survive longer than they did. Nothing is easier than destroying thousands of them on the ground for almost no losses. It is easier to keep and supply the planes east of the Dnieper, than to deploy them in newly acquired territory in Poland, Lithuania, etc, and in western Ukraine. Polish fighters, MS.406, etc, were similar or inferior to the I-16 and they managed to shoot down many German bombers, despite facing a higher density of Bf 109 than the Soviets did. When you consider the fact that the front exceeded 2,800 km and the Luftwaffe had fewer planes than they did in France along a much narrower front, it is really surprising that the LW lost so many planes in Poland and western Europe and so few in the first weaks in the east. The lack of radar during the openning attack could have been overcome by placing observation untis west of the Dnieper to warn Soviet planes in time to scramble (as done by Chenault in China).

    The strategic problem in the USSR was protecting a huge territory, the worst thing you can do in such an instance is to gain additional territory to defend, where you have to fight with longer, more vulnerable supply lines. By not invading Poland, Finland or Bessarabia & by placing the bulk of the army east of the Dnieper, etc, one shortens Soviet and extends German supply lines a lot & by having a single massive defensive line in a strong defensive position along wide rivers, instead of weak tiers west of the Dnieper one makes the invasion far more difficult for Germany.

    The people who expected an offensive to succeed rapidly at extremely low temperatures during an exceptionally cold winter (even in France that year) and with improperly clothed and fed Soviet troops funneled into a narrow front were as naive as Stalin. However, the most surprising fact is not that it took so long (until the weather improved, massive reinforcement arrived and the Finns ran out of shells) and so many Soviet casualties, cannon, tanks, planes and munitions to defeat Finland, but that the USSR did not take over the country after defeating it, but allowed it to expand and train its army and to become Hitler's ally (just like Romania), so they could fight the USSR together.
     
  19. green slime

    green slime Member

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    That is a vast oversimplification of the situation in Finland in general, and of the fighting on the Isthmus in specific. Patently incorrect description of how the tanks were handled in the later half of the war, and how the Soviet's adapted to cope with Finnish tenacity.

    The Red Army soldiers on the Isthmus numbered 250,000 facing 130,000 Finns, across a narrow straight, with prepared defences. In winter conditions, that is further significantly favourable to the defender. Snow and Ice are great protectors for troops that are prepared and on the defense.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    About the purge of the Red Army : the Red Army had 206000 officers of whom in almost 2 years 34301 were forced to "go ".Of these 11596 did return in may 1940 .22705 did not .

    1) Was the number of 34301 exceptionally high ? Nothing is certain : if we would assume that every year 10000 would leve,than is 34301 for 37/38 not exceptionally high .

    2) Were these 34301 "better" than the others ? Nothing is proved

    3) How many of them were fired for political motives ? We only know that it is lower than 22705,because those who did return were not fired for political motives .

    4) How many were arrested ? I have seen on the AHF the number of 10868,which is less than the half of those who did not return,Why were the others fired (22705-10868) ? No explanation, unless : maybe for incompetence .


    About the winter war :what was the reason for the initial Soviet reverse? 2 reasons

    1) Improvisation : after the Fins refused the Soviet demand, the order was given to attack Finland: preparation and planning were lacking


    2) The divisions who were committed were "reinforced" by ill-trained reservists


    The initial reverse did not prove that the Soviet commanders were incompetent .
     

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