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

Operation Mars controversy - Zhukov´s greaterst defeat ??

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by Bundesluftwaffe, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Bundesluftwaffe

    Bundesluftwaffe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    507
    Likes Received:
    22
    Whow I just found this you tube video anout Op. Mars in the end of 42. Probably most of you will be familiar with it.

    There were 2 opinions about the OP:

    a) It was only a diversionary op. to distract Germans from Op. Uranus (Stalingrad) also to prevent moving of reserves south.
    B) Mainly D. Glantz claims that it wasn´t diversionary in the first place but only as a side effect, as Zhukov was obsessed with destroying AG Center (esp. Models 9th army). You can read his book about it. it is very good. However it isn´t believed by everyone.

    But now we get a 3rd opinion or better a kind of conspiracy theory:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNjQw3a7O5Q


    So in your opinion which of the 3 schools of thought are right. I am tending to B) Glantz thesis. For a diversionary it seemed way to big and too much losses, also Zhukov seemed to be the supervisor of the OP, and it is questionable that he would only lead a diversion.

    Point c) I heard of first time today, so I hope others have more knowledge about Beevors Thesis in the youtube vid ????

    Thanks.



    EDIT: WHOW ! Found this cool article, too:

    http://www.vonclausewitzwit.com/2013/03/critical-performances-5-most-disastrous.html
    (must read imho)
     
    Otto likes this.
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,577
    Likes Received:
    1,480
    Location:
    London, England.
    Yes, this sounds rather like one of those internecine 'historian's battles'. Beevor goes into some detail about the Glantz/Uranus/Mars 'controversy' in the new preface to his most recent edition of 'Stalingrad' ( Penguin Books, 2011 ). Apparently, the Russian Association of Second World War Historians believe that Glantz has done some remarkable research work, but that feel that he is overstating his case.

    I have to confess, it's all rather above my head................
     
  3. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    The problem is in the question itself. If one asks whether the Operation Mars was a major or diversionary operation, other possible but rational answers are omitted. There is just either-or. What if it was both major and diversionary operation? Nevertheless, the question is rather cosmetic -- the Germans prevailed in the center and have lost at the south. In the end the Germans were still deep in the USSR and have maintained the initiative.
    However, it would be fair to consult also the Soviet sources -- they knew better what were their real intentions. What if they changed the objective to allow for changes at the battlefield. Operation Saturn was reduced to Little Saturn for good reasons, regardless what was the initial plan.
     
    ptimms likes this.
  4. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    Tamino said: "What if it was both major and diversionary operation?"
    That would make sense. Although Mars ended up being a major defeat for them which the Russians never acknowledged for quite some time, it did have a diversionary effect which prevented Manstein from creating a successful breakthrough corridor for the 6th Army at Stalingrad. But i wouldnt think that over 700,000 men as well as over 1000 tanks was being used just for a diversionary force. Still an interesting point to bring up though.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    But of course. Nobody claims that the Red Army engaged such a vast force just to ensure success at Stalingrad. Timing, however, indicates that one of the objectives was to to divert German mobile reserves from being send to help the army group south.
     
  6. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    Operation Mars seems like one of those battles that is not very well understood because not a lot of people know about it. Also I believe that Mars was also to cut off the railroad's/main roads to the town of Rzhev because those roads/railroads kept the Germans supplied at Rzhev as well as encircle all the Germans in that vicinity. So like you implied Tamino it probably had offensive purposes as well as diversionary purposes.
     
  7. Bundesluftwaffe

    Bundesluftwaffe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    507
    Likes Received:
    22
    Yes, if we follow newer research (Glantz etc.) it was designed as encirlcement of 9th army. And if this would succeed there was a fair chance to hurt AG center very bad. And Glantz states Shukov had an obsession with AG center cause he planned to destroy it already in the Moscow counteroffensive of late 41/early 42. Which didn´t work. A second attack in the area also failed. This time it should work and also there was a reserve tank army which would be send to send to the south if Mars did not succeed. So it needed to strike hard, to obtain the tank army from Stalin as reeinforcement for his central offensive. Guess the army was send south finally as Mars was stopped (of course with severe improvisation and juggling of forces on the German side, had Hitler send the Pz.Divs south Mars would have succeeded but Model/Kluge prevented this somehow). However the Pz. Divs would come probably to late in the south to prevent the encirclement. But could be used to open line to the cauldron - but then Mars would have torn 9th army in the center apart without those Panzer reserves...).

    There was the main rail - and road which supplied the Rezehv area, which was the main target to cut off, you right here. And indeed lokking at the map and the terrain it would be very difficult to supply the area without that road (it was swampy, wooded terrain not much other roads).
     
  8. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    71
    Maybe both, it started as a planned operation and turned into a diversion
     
  9. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    I was watching the documentary series "Soviet Storm," and they had an episode on Operation Mars. It was a fascinating episode, and I found out that it was because of this battle, that Zhukov was moved to the defense of Stalingrad. I think Stavka was just not impressed with how he did things with the "Rzhev meat grinder," and the amount of human lives that were wasted.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    As far as I know the red army doctrine involved attacks in multiple places probing for a weak spot and then reinforce success at the tactical level, so it' quite possible something similar was tried strategically. Concentrating in a Schwerpunkt was German doctrine, There was a major (by western standards) offensive furher North to open communications to Leningrad as well though that turned into more of an attrition battle without clear winners.
    A threat to Moscow still existed as long as the Germans held Rzhev, and despite all arguments about the "non decisive" effects Moscow's fall would have it would still have been a major setback. A "diversion" with such massive forces as were committed to Mars was probably beyond what even the 1942 red army could afford, misdirection (Maskirovka (sp?)) was part red army doctrine but didn't involve such massive commitments, the deception that preceded Bagration didn't involve massive forces. So I would tend to side with Glantz here, the red army committed to multiple attacks in late 1942, one was a great success and the others basically failed.
     
  11. Bundesluftwaffe

    Bundesluftwaffe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    507
    Likes Received:
    22
    Well I just thought about what would have happened if the Mars forces (or only half of them - esp. all the logistics stuff,transport etc) were committed to the south. Certainly the red army would have reached Rostov on Don and cut off the complete German troops in the Caucasus ! If they they had only sticked to "holding" attacks in the center to prevent moving of too much reserves of AGC southwards....however that is in the realm of "what if".
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,554
    Likes Received:
    1,651
    Location:
    Finland
    I think the attack in the south was not the main objective because Zhukov was in main charge of the attack towards the AGC which is considered his obsession all through the war. Also the Soviets were surprised about the amount of troops in Stalingrad which means they did not mean to cause the amount of damage they did in the end, and never probably believed Paulus could not escape.For Germans wiping out the Red Army positions north of Stalingrad over the river Volga would have made it impossible to make a pincer attack from North by Zhukov, but Hitler had sent the troops so widely he did not enough German troops to do this, instead he had weak axis troops which were mixed with German troops to make these units stronger so every other sector was weak and every other a bit stronger.

    Originally the main reserves for the Red Army were concentrated to protect Moscow, because Stalin made the mistake that he believed that Hitler would try to take Moscow in summer 1942. It took a while to send troops south, but I recall reading that already in Sept 1942 Zhukov planned also to cut the German troops in Stalingrad. But if Hitler had not sent suddenly a big pincer south, the major offensive towards Volga would have been a very different game. Also the fuel situation stopped the Germans for a longer period which enabled the Red Army wtih Chuikov to take positions in Stalingrad, before that there was practically no troops as I recall it.

    The third interesting thing is that once Manstein had beaten the Soviets in March 1943 with fresh troops and the weather being suitable, what could have stopped him driving into Stalingrad itself all the way? First it was the Germans on the brink of destruction, then Manstein turned the tables, and the weather stopped him as well as the Panzer Korps being tired of fighting for three months.
     
  13. Bundesluftwaffe

    Bundesluftwaffe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    507
    Likes Received:
    22
    Stalingrad is worthless compared to the price to pay for it. When I play eastern front strategy I never go for Stalingrad - the way is just too long, as well the supply is weak and only depends on 1 or 2 main railroads. However "I" took Stalingrad once, but had to retreat back in good order to Rostov/Woroshilovgrad area. In this game (TOAWIII "directive 21" scen) Stalingrad is worth 5% of soviet production - if you reach it and hold it for a while the production is assumed to be destroyed even if reds take it back (a bit unrealistic tho). Otherwise the only reason for it is maybe to interupt river & rail transport. Bit OT, sorry.

    Not worth almost 2 complete armies. Maybe a singe corps yes. Also caucasus is not worth that much to overextend forces totally. Only if you can reach the oilfields, they are far away.

    Better options Leningrad/Moscow imo.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,554
    Likes Received:
    1,651
    Location:
    Finland
    Yes, even Stalin considered Moscow to be more important. He did not believe the German 6th Army wouldn´t turn north until it hit Volga and turned south....
     
  15. Bundesluftwaffe

    Bundesluftwaffe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    507
    Likes Received:
    22
    Of course and he was right. Stalingrad was some obsession of Hitler, wonder why not more commanders opposed this. Yes they would be relieved but at least they would make a stand against him. like Guderian. Manstein & few others did later...
     
  16. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    It probably had to do with the symbolism of the city, since it was named "Stalin"-grad. And if any commander tried to oppose him he would say something along the lines of "My generals know nothing about the economics of war :rant:." And then he would probably sack them.
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,554
    Likes Received:
    1,651
    Location:
    Finland
    If I understood correctly the targets of operation Blue had been practically achieved by July/august 1942 but as the things went well as Hitler thought, he made new plans and decided to to divide troops and conquer the oil fields and cut the Volga route. He believed the Red Army was finished. Btw the Rhzev pocket that cost many German lives was willingly-surprise- given away by Hitler in spring 1943 because he needed man power for Kursk and shortening the frontline gave him that. One of the few instances where Hitler gave conquered land away willingly.
     
  18. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    578
    The city of Stalingrad had importance in Soviet history, beyond "just" bearing Stalin's name.

    Formerly known as Tsaritsyn ( Цари́цын​ )

    According to Soviet legend, the city was saved by the actions of the local chairman of the military committee, Joseph Stalin. Stalin urged his comrades to continue fighting and disobeyed direct orders from Moscow by recalling forces from the Caucasus, nicknamed Zhloba's 'Steel Division'. These forces were able to attack the White forces in the rear and defeat them, saving Tsaritsyn for the Bolsheviks. Three major engagements then developed around the city afterwards during the entire duration of the battle but were likewise less successful than the first one. Although a temporary takeover of the city by White general Anton Denikin's troops occurred in June 1919, Red Army forces under both Stalin and Voroshilov, this time aided by supplies and weapons that had recently arrived from Moscow, staged an all-out assault towards the city and retook it by January 1920. As a result, the defeated White Army, now reduced to mere numbers and in danger of destruction, then retreated towards the Crimean peninsula.

    The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10, 1925. This was officially to recognize the city's and Stalin's role in its defense against the Whites between 1918 and 1920.
     
  19. dude_really

    dude_really Doesn't Play Well With Others

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2014
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    3
    you mean all three:
    It started as a planned operation (to hit the enemy on as many places simultaneously, and see where the front cracks), it turned into an incompetent disaster, and then it was labelled a diversion.
    btw I don't understand why labelling it as a "diversion" would make Zukov seem more of a hero ? Even in the eye of the former soviet population ?
    The number of lost men and material is exactly the same.
    The only meaning that the "diversion labelling" has , is to say that that there was no intention to progress the frontline in that sector.

    But then, we all now: in order to keep the enemy tied at that front you don't need to throw in masses of men and tanks, and certainly not do penetration with consequent isolation movements..
    So that defies that "theory/labelling" in itself.
     
  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    Essential to the succes of Operation Uranus was pinning down the Geman units and forcing the other German units to move in the desired direction. The main task of 62nd army in Stalingrad was to divert 6th army from protecting it's flanks. Therefore they couldn't simply turn arround and deploy against the Soviet thrusts towards Kalach. Operation Little Saturn aimed to the left flank of the newly established Army Group Centre. Again, this divertionary action has stopped Manstein. Is it possible that the STAVKA hasn't considered pinning down the Army group centre? I doubt.
    Furthermore, this controversy is based purely on the size of forces employed in the Operation Mars. But it would have been impossible to immobilize the entire army group with less convincing force.
     

Share This Page