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


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#1 leopold

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 03:25 PM

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?
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#2 PzJgr

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 04:51 PM

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
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#3 Kai-Petri

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 03:32 PM

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.
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#4 PzJgr

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 03:34 PM

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

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:27 PM

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.
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#6 Za Rodinu

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 06:01 PM

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.

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#7 Ironcross

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 02:05 PM

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.



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).
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#8 leopold

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 07:58 PM

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.
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#9 Za Rodinu

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:04 PM

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.

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#10 Ironcross

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:28 PM

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

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:56 PM

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.matrixgam...ame.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! ;)

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#12 Ironcross

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:34 AM

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??
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#13 Za Rodinu

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 09:55 AM

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

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#14 Ironcross

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 01:34 PM

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.
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#15 chocapic

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 02:58 PM

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

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:39 PM

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.(?)
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#17 Ironcross

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 10:54 PM

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.(?)


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.
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#18 PzJgr

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 11:37 PM

....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.



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
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#19 chocapic

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 09:06 AM

@ 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

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 02:04 PM

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.

#21 dcjeepgc

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 04:44 AM

There were alternate plans to Barborossa, one put forward by Von Runstead (who thought the whole idea of invading ther Soviet Union as "nonsensical"), that called for a German push to a line roughly extending from Odessa on the Black Sea upwards to Leningrad in the north, including the capture of the city, that he felt was an achievable goal and would leave the Wermarcht in favorable position, not only to defend due to logistics and distances for both the Russians and the Germans, but would open up several different options for the second year of the campaigne. Leningrad was felt vital to many german prewar planners as a major port to resupply the continuing offensive and for the added benefit of full control of the Baltic Sea. Without this sea passage the Russians could not receive lend lease military aide from the US or other assistance from Britian through this sea route. I personally believe this would have been an achievable and positive outcome for Germany that would have spared them the loss of some of the best troops in the German order of battle that they were to lose in the "Winter War" in front of Moscow that winter of 1942. Von Manstein's counter offensive at Karkov in the winter of 1943 demonstrates how inept the Russians were at this stage of the war conducting offensive operations far from their supply bases. The Wermarcht could have handled the inevitable counter offensives and then left with favorable options for the spring/summer of 1942.

#22 Kai-Petri

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 02:01 PM

The major problem was that the Germans were capable of "one push only". They did not have the reserves to make it Pt I this year Pt 2 next year and so on. And they did not prepare for a prolonged campaign which meant big trouble when the Battle was not finished by the end of year. If someone had suggested to Hitler that the battle would continue in 1942, Hitler would sack this man immediately. Hitler wanted a short war.
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#23 PzJgr

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 05:34 PM

The major problem was that the Germans were capable of "one push only". They did not have the reserves to make it Pt I this year Pt 2 next year and so on. And they did not prepare for a prolonged campaign which meant big trouble when the Battle was not finished by the end of year. If someone had suggested to Hitler that the battle would continue in 1942, Hitler would sack this man immediately. Hitler wanted a short war.


Correct. Hitler underestimated the Russians and worse, overestimated the capabilities of the Wehrmacht. Basing it on how it performed in the West as his downfall
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#24 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 06:04 PM

Correct. Hitler underestimated the Russians and worse, overestimated the capabilities of the Wehrmacht. Basing it on how it performed in the West as his downfall


It's funny how Germany, Japan, and Italy all based their grand strategies on "short wars" and were discomfited when the Allies insisted on dragging things out. I guess using your own propaganda as a basis for military planning is a bad idea.

#25 LJAd

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 06:44 PM

It's funny how Germany, Japan, and Italy all based their grand strategies on "short wars" and were discomfited when the Allies insisted on dragging things out. I guess using your own propaganda as a basis for military planning is a bad idea.

I think it's the opposite:the Germans planned a short campaing (Barbarossa was beginning with those words ),because they knew that the longer the war,the weaker Germany would be and the SU would be able to mobilise her overwhelming human and material resources .
Japan knew it had no chance against the US;the only thing they could do was figthing to death (they could afford 1 million deaths)and let the US bleeding :they were hoping that the cost would be to high for the US .
Concerning Italy :Mussolini was convinced that the war would be over in a few weeks and that with some thousand deaths,he would have his part .




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