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Eastern Front victory conditions

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by Ron, Oct 27, 2002.

  1. Ron

    Ron Member

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    Ah it feels nice to take a step from free fire and jump into ww2 again!

    OK this is for you Russian fronts guys...i know there are lots!
    I have long felt that the capture of Moscow would not have ended the war...and the germans would have lost anyway.
    What are other's opinions on Moscow falling...and what would have to happen to make Russia surrender?

    [ 27. October 2002, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  2. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    Without a doubt-The fall of Moscow would have been a serious dent in the Russian morale, but they had far too much room to move for Moscow to end them. The Germans would of had a great communications platform, and would have given them an able position to continue their offensive-but Stalin's adaption of 'War Communism', and the success of recalibration of ordinary machines to turn out weapons of war would have put Russia a great step ahead.
    The overwhelming ability of the Ivans was demonstrated during Stalingrad, and the Siege of Leningrad, so the loss of Moscow, as a communications centre-wouldv'e served only to dent morale, but strengthen resolve of the Russians.

    Hitler should never have launched the land war against Russia-especially not at such a time in the war, when with a few simple correct moves, he couldv'e brought Britain to her knees.
     
  3. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    Not only would the capture of moscow been a serious dent in morale, but it was a major rail junction, and taking it would have split soviet forces in two. Add to that, it was the seat of Soviet government, and Stalin wasnt willing to leave.

    Moscow was critical for German success in Russia.

    Also, I belive Hitler made the right choice in attacking the Soviet Union; it was the method he used that was a bad idea. The major problems are two-fold: (1) swinging south in autumn instead of heading straight to Moscow, and (2) not using the local population to boost his efforts. War with the Soviets was inevitable, and the Russians were getting stronger every day. Hitler had to attack as soon as possible to achieve victory.

    [ 28. October 2002, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: dasreich ]
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    The Russians learned from their mistakes and changed their tactics but if Hitler had focused on a war of attrition instead of a war of econcomics, he would have spurred an anti-Bolshevik revolution by the people due to heavy losses and the perception that Stalin was driving them to defeat. This I believe would have been the only way the Russians would have surrendered. Like Hitler, Stalin would have taken everybody with him to the end.
     
  5. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I think the only real value Moscow had was that being it was the nations capitol, and as someone else said--it would seriously hurt Russian morale. I also agree that I think there would be a new revolution against the Bolsheviks.
     
  6. volkbert

    volkbert Member

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    I think that if the Germans took Moscow without Stalin the Russians at the would have won. Stalin would'nt give up the war and with the enormous country and huge number of people they would have won. To capture Stalin may have caused the Russians to give up.

    When Hitler treated the locals better and made them soldiers in his army the storie may be completely different.
     
  7. Ron

    Ron Member

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    Well i think that the Russians would never have surrendered until they had no more equipment, men and or the government was unable to function.

    People mentioned that if a Revolution started that would have caused a surrender. I agree with that...but if you look at the way history was happening it was obvious that there was not going to be a revolution. Hitler strengthened support for Stalin. And if Moscow fell there surely was not going to be any better treatment of Russian then or ever. So thus support for Stalin after the fall of Moscow would have remained constant or grew with Russian resolve to defeat Hitler.

    If the Russians were able to move their industrial might...then they would have been able to move the government to the next significant city/railroad junction as well.

    In the end...i feel all that the capture of Moscow would have done was hurt morale but strengthen Russian resolve to defeat Hitler and support Stalin. Since that would have happened it would be only a matter of time until Russian might overwhellmed the German's like they did historically, and took back Moscow as well as the rest of Russia.

    Remember...Moscow fell to Napolian...and nothing significant happened!

    [ 28. October 2002, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: Ron ]
     
  8. Heartland

    Heartland Member

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    Whoa! Not quite true, if you take a look at how Soviet railway lines were drawn in 1941, and indeed to a certain degree today.

    The railway net consisted of a large number of lines, the vast majority of which radiated out from the hub commonly known as, you guessed it - Moscow. Want to travel from a point south-west of Moscow to a point relatively close but south-east of the city? You would have needed to take a long roundabout detour through the capital.

    Thus, the capture of Moscow would have made lateral north-south troop movements, and perhaps most critically transport of supplies to vast areas of the front, a lot harder and more inefficient!

    [ 29. October 2002, 02:58 AM: Message edited by: Heartland ]
     
  9. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Hi Heartland, thanks for the additional info on Moscow. I stand corrected. I had never known that it was a major rail center, and this is an area of the Eastern Front I havent had time to study ---yet ;) i'm much more knowledgable on stuff like Kursk, Kharkov, Stalingrad--and others--ESPECIALLY Stalingrad. :D I want to do research on Leningrad as a very good friend of mine fought there.
     
  10. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    Ron; I agree that the Russian people might never had surrendered, but the Soviets would have, or fallen apart at least in terms of organized resistance. I have no doubt a large partisan movement would have formed, but the Soviet government would have likely fallen had Moscow been taken, and with the Soviets the Red Army would have been swept away as well.
     
  11. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    I'd have to question the idea of the government "falling apart" had the germans taken Moscow. For one thing, Stalin's government was already in really bad shape in nearly every aspect. Even besides the war- the economy was in shambles. To assume that the government would have fallen apart means that it must have been functioning in the first place, I guess.
    Also, there's Stalin himself. Since he was such an absolute dictator, there really wasn't much to the government besides himself! I think the only way the germans could have caused the russian government to collapse would have been to capture or kill Stalin himself. And even if the germans had taken Moscow, Stalin could easily have flown out or escaped in some other manner.

    (don't mean to pick on you, dasreich!)
    This one seems like a pretty major assumption to me. If the russian government did fall, then of course there would have been a surrender or armistice. But this would be the only circumstance that would make the red army a non-issue. Even in this case, an army the size of Russia's simply could not be "swept away". Swept away where??? The army would have simply stopped fighting with the armistice. but as long as there was the will to fight for the russians, the sheer size of the army would have kept it a major factor. Adn as far as organizing goes, this would have been a problem for the russians. but look at the territory involved. The russians had plenty of territory into which they could retreat and organize. And the german forces- even if they could have taken Moscow, they also would have had to spend much time regrouping and re-organizing, giving the russians also more time.
    This theory just seems to me to assume that the russian army was on the verge of collapse- but the numbers seem to suggest otherwise. Keep in mind the russian counter-attacks beginning in december. The forces for these attacks had already been mustered and organized, complete with commanders and equipment.

    In my opinion, this one really goes back not to the problems the russians were having, but the shortcomings of the german army. "What would it have taken to make the russians surrender?"- I don't think such a situation would have been possible. The major reasons for the failure to capture Moscow was not strategy or tactics, but logistics. Even by August 41, the germans had already lost more than 25% of their trucks and support vehicles (Murray and Millet)- and this was after less than two months campaigning in russia. Winter clothing and provisions had not even been considered. Replacements for the german units were also in short supply. Thus the germans were in no position to annihilate the red army regardless.

    To force a russian surrender? Just looking at the size of russia, I would have to think that the only thing that could have made the russians surrender would have been massive german occupation. And even to occupy half of russia, the germans would have had to penetrate almost ten times further than they did actually manage.

    [ 29. October 2002, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: CrazyD ]
     
  12. Ron

    Ron Member

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    I have to pretty much agree with Crazy.
    I believe Stalin's total control of the government would have prevented a considerable revolution from taking root.
    The military and leaders in the Government were pro-Stalin and permeated all through the country.
    It is my understanding that as the situation grew more and more grave the country united more and more behind Stalin ignoring the past and concentrating on defending their country from the present invasion.
     
  13. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    Perhaps swept away wasnt quite the right phrase. The army itself, without political leadership, and suffering severe blows to morale and men, could not fight cohesively very long. And an army without a sifficient command is just a mob of men with guns. And Stalin himself wanted to stay in Moscow until the absolute last second. Had the Germans surrounded Moscow before he could leave, then there is a very good chance he would have been nullified.

    Regarding the German supply situation in August of 1941, they did indeed have some problems. But of a couple weeks of refit would have been all they needed to continue the assault in Russia. They could have taken Moscow in September, well before winter. Instead, they swung south, in fierce opposition from Bock and Guderian. When Germany attacked in winter of 1941, they did indeed have a logistics nightmare on their hands. They had given the Soviets the time they needed to reinforce the defense around Moscow. If they were not going to hit Moscow in autumn 1941, then they should have waited until they took Stalingrad. They couldnt make up which direction they wanted to go in, and that killed them. In the Beginning of Barbarossa, the plan was to hit Moscow by September. They changed plans midway then tried to change back...this caused many problems for the German Army, and quite possibly cost them the critical victory: defeating Russia.
     
  14. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Agreed on the red army- their fighting ability would have been vastly limited if Stalin was put out of action or the government otherwise incapacitated.
    According to my sources this is not true at all. The transport situation for the germans was essentially broken down completely.
    Then consider the situation with the roads and railways- the roads in russia were often dirt roads. With the autumn rains, these were nearly impassible in some areas. German supplies, even if they did have trucks, often simply could not get through.
    The panzer divisions were in the same boat- By mid October, the 10th panzer division was down to 60 tanks out of 200, the 4th panzer was down to 38 tanks. And considering other supplies-
    This clearly paints a picture of a drasticaly under-supplied german army. These problems certainly could not have been addressed in a couple months even, let alone a couple weeks. The transport system in russia was never addressed- there was essentially nothing the germans could do about it. And the german war economy had not even kicked in yet- thus there were nowhere near enough vehicles, tanks, or supplies to provide the german army even if the transport problem had been addressed.

    ALso, dasreich, I question the idea that Moscow was one of the major goals of Barbarossa. I don't offhand remember where, but AndyW posted Hitler's directiove for Barbarossa here once, and it made very clear that Hitler did not put any serious priority on Moscow. Hitler was far more concerned with the economic aspects of the war than with taking Moscow.
    (all quotes from Murray and Millet, "A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War")

    found it... from the "Moscow be all end all" thread...
    Clearly, Moscow was a secondary objective for Hitler. While some of his generals pushed Moscow as the main goal, this was not the intent of the army all along, and no preparations or even plans had been made.

    [ 29. October 2002, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: CrazyD ]
     
  15. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    I had a really good reply, but my unreliable internet decided to cut out on me and i lost everything. So i retyped it as best i could...

    You are right about Hitler not considering Moscow a critical target. But this directive was issued prior to Barbarossa's launch, and plans have a way of changing in battle. Just take a look at charts of teh German advance...AGC was making a strong push for Moscow, moving as well as AGN toward Leningrad. Soon into the offensive, Bock and Army Group Center were pushing their way to Moscow at a blitz pace. They seized Smolensk by July 16, a key jumping point to Moscow. They were ready to take the nerve center of the Soviet Union by mid-autumn, but were diverted to the Ukraine. Hitler delayed AGC at the area of Smolensk for quite a while rying to choose between Moscow and Ukraine before sending them south. Bock tried in vain to persuade Hitler to change his mind-but to no avail.

    On the topic of supply; One of my sources; Hitlers Panzers East by RHS Stolfi; makes a convincing case for the halt at Smolensk being due to HItler not supply. Indeed they were in for a refit, and had lost many trucks, not to mention the road system was primitive, but they had stockpiled supplies for a quick decisive conflict, and thats what Bock was attempting to accomplish. Consider too that the Soviet position was much worse than the Germans, and even understrength German troops were stil better off than their Russian counterparts. They could have attacked while there was still time, before the Soviets mobilised a massive army that stopped the Germans "cold"(excuse the pun) in their tracks. The Germans needed the mother of all blitzes, and by procrastinating at Smolesnk and eventually diving down south, they through their opportunity away.
     
  16. Heartland

    Heartland Member

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    Additionally, as the great debate on how to best proceed went on, the generals did not simply intend to conquer Moscow for the sake of conquering it. They figured this was the best place to force the Red Army to stand and fight, which was needed in order to destroy it in accordance with the directive.

    Ironically, Hitler as we all know figured the flanks needed clearing, which may have been right or wrong, we'll never know for sure.
     
  17. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Good points, dasreich (that internet thing has happened to me as well- seems like only after we type out a great post!). The advance on Moscow was definetely one of the priorities for the generals. And there is also the simpole factor of moving into russia- the germans were heading in the direction of Moscow no matter what their specific plans were. So this did make it easy to adapt plans.
    My main issue is with the logistics. For one thing, I think we differ on just how bad the german supply situation was. You are right that some supplies had been stockpiled- but I think the germans greatly under-estimated how much they needed in their stockpiles. As another statistic from Murray etc.- "As early as 29 June, the Luftwaffe had to fly fuel to the Fourth Panzer Group.". In addition to the trucks, tanks, clothes, etc., fuel was also in very short supply. Combine this with the pace the german advance had slowed to- often only 10km a day- and the result is an advance that get way too bogged down.
    We need to remember- it is not only a matter of having the stockpiled supplies, but a matter also of getting them to the front-line troops. This was the hardest difficulty the germans had. The german advances early in Barbarossa were incredible- 100s of KM. But the speed and success of these advances caused the logistics problems. There was really no way the germans could successfully supply an advance on Moscow in my opinion.
    Another thing to consider here is the german estimations of russian troop strength. The russians may not have been too well equipped, but there were a hell of a lot more of them! The germans, even by August, had the idea that they had already destroyed most of the russian army. Most of the german plans and estimations took this into account, the assumption that the red army was nearly defeated. This likely caused the germans to worry even less about their logistic situation, since they assumed still that the war would be over before Christmas.
     
  18. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Good to see the ol' "We could have reached Moscov"-discussion well alive! :D

    I don't want to be boring, but "Logistics "and"Soviet resistance" are the key words here. In a nutshell: The Kiev-Operation caused a delay of maybe 2-3 weeks, even without it the AGC couldn't be ready to go for Moscow prior to Sept. 9, 1941.

    First, the halt at Smolensk wasn't orderered by Hitler, it was a necessity of re-supply and totally in sync with the original pre-Barbarossa war games and operational and transportation plans. In fact , teh advance to Smolensk was already more than the supply lines were good for. The Germans just _had_ to stop and re-supply at Smolensk because they reached the limits of road-driven supply.

    Now,in ideal conditions, such a period of re-supplying an Army Group doesn't take too long, maybe 1 to 2 weeks. But at Smolensk, the conditions wern't "ideal" at all:

    a) The rw-line to Smolensk was operational by mid-August, but instead of the needed 21 trains per day only 8 to 15 trains at average arrived.

    b) the operational range of trucks etc. was already extended to 1.5 to 2 times of the normal maximum operational range (ending at the Duna-Dnjepr-rivers); this caused strage situations: f.ex. the fuel consumption of the trucks exceeded the transported fuel by far; only in August 7,655 trucks broke down (24 %) fastly "eating" up the much needed German truck capacities etc. Fact is that AGC' normal consumption couldn't be supplied by trucks at Smolensk in August , not even mentioning a stockpiling for an attack.

    c) AGC faced stiff Soviet resistance in the Smolensk-pocket and Soviet counteroffensives at Jeln'ja, even causing a German retreat. AGC's troops were facing a very serious ammonition crisis at these days. Consequentely, ammonition was top prio in supply, not fuel or other stuff.

    To sum it up: AGC wasn't ready to start "Typhoon" earlier than Sept. 9, 1941 (according to German Quartermaster's reports), even if the entire Kiev-Operation wouldn't have took place. In reality, "Typhoon" was launced Sept. 30, so we're talking about 3 weeks delay.

    It must be noticed that from mid-July to early September all of AGC's supply was used to
    1.) solve the ammonition crisis espec. at the 2nd Army. Tresckow was talking of a complete "supply failure" and even Hitler ordered an investigation.
    2.) resupplying Guderians 2nd Panzer Group to make him ready for the Kiev Operation
    3.) resupplying the rest of AGC (2nd, 4th and 9th Army, Panzer Group 4 and 3) to make her at least somehow operational for an attack towards Moscow.
    4.) resupplying Guderians 2nd Panzer Group to make him ready for "Typhoon"

    This took until early to mid-September (without the Kiev-Operation, the Kiev-Operations and the re-supply of Panzer Group 2 and parts of the 2nd Army took also 2-3 additional weeks). I wonder how the Germans could have reached Moscov at September, as you say :confused:

    If you read Halder's and Bocks diary entries, Wagner's and Gercke's reports, Guderians and Heusinger's memoirs, you'll see that AGC was facing a serious supply crisis beginning mid-July, not solved until early September.

    BTW, Stolfi has been convicely debunked. Let's just read a diary entry of v.Bock of August 7, 1941: "In this situation and with decreasing combat readiness of the permanentely attacked troops, I have no idea on how to organize a new operation!". Unfortunately there are not many english studies on the "logistics"-part of "Barbarossa", (I only know Van Creveldt) but I recommend:

    B. Fugate: _Operation Barbarossa. Strategy and Tactics on the Eastern Front 1941_, 1984

    H. Boog et al (Eds.): _Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 4: Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion_ (Germany and World War II, Vol.4: The Attack on the Soviet Union), 1983, 1376 pages

    and of course: K. Schueler: _Logistik im Russlandfeldzug_ (Logistics in the Russian Campaign), 1987 who deals with that situation we discuss in very detail on 62 pages.

    This is all grossly simplified, it doesn't make things easier to mention that certain German Armies were in a considerable better shape tha others, That the German General Quartermaster was an hopless optimist in his assumptions and calculations, that the breakdown of logistics and the soviet resistance was a bad surprise for the Germans, that post-war apologizes tended to find "easy" and convincing answers on complex questions, that it's very easy to blame Hitler for all mistakes and claiming with all the hindsight to having it known better, etc. pp.

    You really have to dig through a couple hundred pages of studies to get an idea on how much logistics influenced German warfare in Russia.

    Cheers,
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, Gentlemen, very important information, but if we come to the conclusion that neither going south nor getting Moscow is winning the war, then donĀ“t we come to the conclusion that starting Barbarossa was totally stupid?? :confused: Or is there a third way??

    Anyway, the idea of quick victory is made by getting big stretegic victories in short succession to bring the enemy down. Maybe Germans thought it would come by big blows to the Russian army ( pincers ) but as they noticed the Russians had more divisions that they could have dreamed of ( and tanks ) they should have thought of this twice. Getting large areas of field or Ukraine are not victories to win fast, I think.Then again Moscow might have been, propaganda wise and as a center of railroads, and cutting the front in two separate lobes.But first I think, was getting Leningrad, the birth place of communism.

    ------

    On the situation after Smolensk I found a map earlier to explain the situation but maybe this will tell it better:

    http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/dhistorymaps/WWIIPages/WWIIEurope/ww2es19.htm

    http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/dhistorymaps/WWIIPages/WWIIEurope/ww2es20.htm

    From:

    http://barbarossa.netfirms.com/

    -------

    Hitler had to decide, to cover the flank or go for Moscow. He decided to cover the flank.

    On the German army as whole:

    By July 22, one unit was left with only nine battle-ready tanks. Hoth fared no better: only 60 to 70% of his armored vehicles remained. Halder calculated that by the end of July, only 431 German tanks would be available as replacements for the whole front.By mid-July, the combat capability of the German infantry was 80% of its June 22 strength.As Soviet strongpoints fell along the Dnieper, ammunition shortages of up to 65% stalled the German infantry's advance.
    At the end of July, all movement east toward Moscow had stopped. The German divisions in all Army Group areas, especially in Army Group Centre, were totally consumed with cleanup operations along a 1500 mile protruding front from the Luga River, just southwest of Leningrad, to Odessa on the Black Sea.
    In early August only 263 of the original 953 tanks in the Second Panzer Group remained in battle worthy condition. All Hitler could promise was 400 tank engines for both panzer groups.

    A great site on this affair:

    http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/military-barbarossa-against-moscow.htm
     
  20. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    2-3 weeks can be critical time, and the diversion down south consumed men and machine as well. Even if the supply situation was drastic, AGC could still have gone ahead against the defenders of Moscow before they were reinforced by Soviet logistical power. Lets say Germany couldnt hit Moscow by September. Fine, but October is still better than December! If they needed to delay, then they delayed too long. Keep in mind too that Hitler was hesitant the entire barbarossa operation, and had he not been Moscow mioght have been reached even quicker. The Russian winter is considered to be the downfall of the German offensive; but the German plan for Barbarossa(not Hitlers directive mind you) was concerned with a super blitz, not a war of attrition. They knew the Russians had plenty more men and machine than they did; they were counting on surprising and overrunning Soviet troops, and generally keeping them off balance. Indeed those were the tactics necesarry to defeat Russia. The constant delays of AGC and eventually the wrong turn at Smolensk failed to keep Russia off balance, and consequently when Germany tried to take key locations like Moscow or Stalingrad, they were unable too.

    I would also like to know, regardless of AGC's supply situation, how the Russians were faring in Moscow in summer/autumn 1941. Were they even capable of hurling back an understrength AGC? I know at full strength, AGC could have overwhelmed Moscow, but even in a bad supply situation, would AGC be able to overrun the Russian defenders?

    [ 30. October 2002, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: dasreich ]
     

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