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german army diverts south to ukraine

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by therubbs, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. therubbs

    therubbs recruit

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    hello to all, first post in the forums. a question/observation.

    after the first stage of operation barbarossa, the german army group center had advanced all the way to the dnepr and dvine river(near Smolenks), when hitler ordered army group center to divert south towards the ukraine.
    I understand the strategic importance of the Ukraine for the germans.
    but the war against the ussr, as planned by the german high command, had to be as quick as possible.
    so, why was the army diverted south, instead of continuing all the way to moscow???

    anybody know something on the subject? am i missing something?

    thanks in advance

    modds feel free to move/delete thread at your discretion:)
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I think you are alluding to the famous-infamous 'Kiew decision',the reason of it beying that the Soviet troops south of AGC had to be defeated before Typhoon could begin .
    AGC was not diverted to the south,'only' the armoured and motorized units .
    "after the first stage of operation Barbarossa",better:after the failure of operation Barbarossa :the war in the East had to be won at the end of august:it was NOT,the Russian army was becoming stronger everyday,and the Germand were weakened (they had lost more than 400000 men ):AGC was in NO position to advance to Moscow.
     
  3. therubbs

    therubbs recruit

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    thanks for answering. I thought the whole AGC was diverted south.
    so, to be clear, even if the armored units had not been separated, acg wouldn't have been able to push all the way to moscow?

    the germans captured smolenks in mid july, and from there, diverted south.
    typhoon began in september. i dont think its too crazy to think that If acg had concentrated all its power driving to moscow in mid july/agoust barbarossa might have been successful. ?
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    If my memory does not let me down,Typhoon started in october,after the armoured units of AGC and AGS destroed the Soviet units at Kiew (btw:there was already heavy fighting in this region before september,and AGS was in difficulties ).
    The same heavy fighting happened also at Smolensk before september,with big problems for AGC.
    The best you can do is to go to Axis History Forum :WW II in Eastern Europe:The Case against Moscow(it will you occupy for some time),but already some (very succinct )points why it was impossible for AGC to advance at Moscow (and capture the city) before october:
    not only had the Germans very heavy losses(400OOO men),but their material losses were enormous :1179 tanks(with 96 (!) replacements,37 Sturmgeschutze(4 replacements ),the same for trucks,artilery,horses ...
    But the main point are logistics :the Russian railroads (in sofar they were repaired and brougth on German gauge ) were not capable to transport the necessary supplies .
    The production also was insufficient:ex:German tank production in the 3th quarter of 1941 was some 1000,the losses at the East,for the same period,were some 1500 !And,of the remaining tanks on the East,how many were operational ?
    If the Germans started in september,they had
    1)to deploy their troops(logistic problem
    2)advance (idem)
    3)defeat the enemy
    4)encircle Moscow (idem)
    5)conquer Moscow (probably it would be Stalingrad ,unless the Soviet morale collapsed):the logistic problems would be insoluble :you can't conquer a city with tanks,you need artillery and an enormous supply of shells ,and,again,logistic problems .
    Last point:if the artillery and infantry was used for the capture of Moscow,what would do the tanks ? My opinion :nothing,because,without the support and protection of the infantry,tanks are very vulnerable ;thus,even if Moscow was captured,the Germans could not advance further.
    Cheers.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    As LJAd noted, it was not AG Center in its entirety, just Guderian's PzG 2 and a few other units. As they had no direct connection to AG South, they continued to be supplied and supported through AG Center. PzG 2/2 PzA remained under AG Center throughout the 1941 campaign. After the linkup with PzG1 to complete the Kiev encirclement, Guderain resumed the offensive against Moscow.

    Concurrent with the Kiev operation was an army group level offensive, by AG North, including PzG 3 and other untis from AG Center.

    Also concurrent is another thread you migh want to check out; here are my comments:

    [​IMG] Re: What would have happened if Hitler would have decided not to postpone operation Barbarossa
    by-passing the Kiev salient and relying on the Pripet marshes and mobile forces to protect the flanks while Guderian drove on Moscow

    This is the essential flaw in the whole discussion, that it all revolves around Guderian and his dozen or so divisions. This stems from the prominence of Guderian's memoir in histories of the campaign and the dramatic scene with Hitler debating "Moscow or Kiev?" as if the entirety of German power in the east could only be directed one or the other. In fact, the Germans conducted two simultaneous army group level offensives. While Guderian and von Kleist were destroying the Russian concentration around Kiev, an army group spearheaded by Panzer Groups 3 and 4 advanced a distance comparable to encircling Moscow from a start line around Smolensk. Unfortunately it was directed on Leningrad and Tikhvin, but it covered the distance, over tougher terrain with poorer transportation - roads and railroads on the way to Moscow were as good as they got in Russia.

    protect the flanks reflects another misconception, which appeared in the pre-Barbarossa war games (conducted, ironically, by von Paulus). These predicted a pause around Smolensk, mainly for logistic reasons, and a demand by both Army Groups North and South for a "loan" of panzers from AG Center. The implication was that the situations on both flanks were analogous and that the same response should be made to both. In fact they were vastly different. The axis of advance was not directly east but ENE, Warsaw-Moscow. Viewed this was there essentially was no left flank; the front extended continuously to the Baltic coast. There were fewer Russian forces in the north to threaten an advance on Moscow, and that advance itself would largely cut them off since most transportation arteries flowed through Moscow - a curious situation in which the advance actually secures it own flank.

    The south was vastly different. AG Center was already some 200 miles beyond the Russian concentration around Kiev, and this flank would get longer as the advance continued. Beyond the Russian armies on the right was most of the rest of Russia's insustry and population, with rail, road, and river transportation to feed in troops and supplies. The greatest danger to the Germans was a strike from the south as they pressed their advance in the center.

    The alternate strategy would have been to conduct the Kiev operation as they did, but instead of shifting PzG 3 north, bring PzG 4 south, and make the companion offensive in AG Center. The Kiev operation would support the main offensive, allow PzG 1 to play a useful role, and allow Guderian to make his next move just as he did historically, further supporting the central drive by encircling the Russian armies around Bryansk.

    Historically the Germans executed two phases of successful attack, one before and one after the fall rainy season. Each comprised two simultaneous operations: Kiev and Leningrad, Bryansk and Vyazma (the Vyazma "cauldron battle" covered 3/4 of the distance from Smolensk to Moscow). This could just as easily have been Kiev and Vyazma, Bryansk and Moscow.
     
  6. therubbs

    therubbs recruit

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    awesome thank for the answers and the link.
     
  7. Tom1979

    Tom1979 recruit

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    Almost the entire month of August was wasted while various Panzer formations were shifted North and South, not forgetting waiting for the following infantry to catch up.

    Also, throughout August, OKW was gripped by bickering as they vehemently fought against Hitler diverting forces to Kiev.

    The result? A tactical victory for the Germans, near 600,000 Russian prisoners taken, Kiev falls, BUT, a wasted month, precious time the German Army could ill afford to waste.

    However, I come from the camp who question that the Germans capturing Moscow would really have ended the war in the East.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    However, I come from the camp who question that the Germans capturing Moscow would really have ended the war in the East.

    I agree; no one was going to ring a bell and declare the Germans the winner if they reached the Kremlin, but I do think taking Moscow was the most useful thing they could have to conclude the 1941 campaign and prepare for the next phase. It would largely remove the prospect of any major danger developing in the north. I would still expect the 1942 effort to be in the south, basically as it was, since most of the resources and objectives they went to war for were there; farmland, oil, etc.

    1941 was also probably the only real chance they had of taking Moscow.
     
  9. Tom1979

    Tom1979 recruit

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    I completely agree with you.

    However, Moscow was the centre of Russia, it was the major communications hub of the country, as well as a production centre. It would have been a major victory for the German Army giving them a much better chance at absorbing the Russian counter-offensive.

    I see operations halting until mid-1942, morale would be considerably higher, a more successful invasion on the Southern front would limit oil getting to the Russians and by 1943 it's very possible that apart from minor pushes and shoves along the line that the German Army could have held on. Maybe an armistice gets signed and Germany gets lebensraum.

    Of course, this banks on continued German air superiority, the crumbling of Russia's resolve to fight, the second year of operations going much better for Germany, capture of the oil fields, etc...

    For a pretty accurate strategic boardgame to play the Eastern Front in is Hitler's War. 1941 is the year to launch an offensive and then pray you can hold on to win, or launch it earlier and throw loads of little armies all over the place in Russia straight after the invasion of Poland.

    It's historically accurate, although Blitzkreig fans always insist you play without supply rules so they can win with their 'awesome' strategies. Lame! :rolleyes:
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics." ;)

    People often say that Russia would never give up, but I find it hard to believe that there is literally no amount of defeat that would make consider a peace settlement. I envision the same sort of thing you do, the Germans securing the areas they want, essentially what they were trying to do in 1942, and the Russians unable to dislodge them no matter how many times they try. We'd also have to hypothesize that the industries and economy of all the German-occupied territories continue to be able to support their fighting forces. Would the Soviets go on fighting forever?
     
  11. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    The objective from the beginning was destroying the Soviet forces. Taking territory in the soviet union was worth very little because the Russians could simply withdraw to the east. The Soviet union was, and is, the largest country with the greatest land mass in the whole world. Even the invincible Wehrmacht had its limits when faced with the enormity of conquering such vast territories.

    At first not even the Red army could stand up to the German blitzkrieg and the Wehrmact took literally millions of prisoners. It seemed impossible to Hitler that the Russians could sustain such enormous losses for long and he often deflected criticism of his eastern front strategy using this argument. And in fact many times it did appear that the Red Army was at the end of its resources, as German troops often captured young boys and even occasionaly women in Red army uniform. But the Soviets could, and did, hold out long enough to reorganize Soviet industry, secure lend lease help from the British and the Americans, and also long enough for the (mostly mediocre) Russian General staff to eventually learn how to fight the Germans on their own terms.

    German intelligence was largely at fault for much of this, their work was flawed and much of their information was inadequate or wrong. They gave Hitler erroneous and perhaps overly optimistic ideas about Russian tank and ordnance production and capabilities and many other wrong impressions. This failure of intelligence was a crucial matter because in the end, the attack on Russia was entirely Hitler's doing.

    Most of Hitler's General staff (many of whom had fought the Russians in World war 1) and even Herman Goerring attempted to talk him out of Barbarossa, and even Hitler himself had grave misgivings. But ultimately Hitler simply insisted "We need only kick in the door, and the whole rotten structure (communism) will come crashing down."
     
  12. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    One must also not forget that the Soviets had "planned ahead", and the factories which were built away from the Volga line were "dual purpose" built so that they could be switched from civil to military production with little alteration. The Soviets had also "capped and plugged" the Baku I field on the west shore of the Caspian just in case it fell into German hands, it produced no oil until post war. Production had shifted to the new Baku II field (which was known but undeveloped) on the eastern shore of the Caspian.

    They did such a good job of sabotage on the origianl Baku fields, it took them much time post-war to even get them back for their own use. The Germans wouldn't have gained a thing by taking them. The two fields they did capture (Miklop and Grozny?) never sent a barrel of oil back to Germany they had been so well sealed. After they were recaptured, the Soviets used the pipeline material the Germans had left behind to tie them into their own system.

    I can see an "armistice" of sorts, but the Nazis will be hard pressed to ever take advantage of the lebensraum they have gained. Crops cannot be grown/harvested in a short time period, and they don't need the coal that is there.
     
  13. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Moscow was never Germany's primary objective. The first thing Germany wanted and needed to accomplish was the destruction of all Red Army forces in the field. In the beginning the Germans did this very well and from their initial plan, Kiev was of more importance as it contained 4 Soviet Armies.

    Not all however, went as smoothly as the German high command had anticipated. On June 28, following Zhukov's orders, Rokossovsky attacked the Germans again. Suffering a defeat the previous day, Rokossovsky instead decided to take up a defensive position and ambush the leading task force of 13th Panzer division as it approached Rovno. For the first time in the war, the Germans ran into massed Soviet artillery fire, and suffered severe losses. This unsuccesful Soviet counteroffensive delayed the Army Group for at least a week, helping to create the situation that later tempted Hitler to redirect part of Army Group Centre away from Moscow in order to secure Ukraine (Before Stalingrad, p44).

    Lets also not forget that had Ukraine not been secured, the Germans who would be preparing for the Battle of Moscow would now also have 4 Soviet Armies on their flank to think about. ;)
     
    brndirt1 likes this.

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