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Were the Objectives of the Case Blue Flawed?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by Tamino, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Fundamentally, the Case Blue was focused to the oil. Preliminary offensives in the Crimea were aimed to protect Rumanian oil facilities from Soviet air attacks and even more important, the objective of the main thrust over the river Don was to put oil-rich region of Caucasus into the German hands. The first goal was easily attained but the second was flawed because the Germans haven't really understood the difference between holding oilfields and the efficient utilization of that important resource.

    It is quite interesting that OKH never discussed in detail the question how the Caucasus oil would be transported to the Reich. Clearly, the assumption was that the oil would be transported over the Black Sea to Rumanian ports or further through the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean Sea. The problem with the Rumanian route was that the Danube fleet was large just enough for the existing Ploesti facilities. At that time Germans lacked sea routes and protection of tankers to use the Russian oil. Transportation of the oil by land was entirely out of question because the German transportation relied almost entirely on draft animals.

    Obviously, the problem with the objectives of the Case Blue was that whether the Germans seized the Caucasus oilfields intact or not, they have lacked a viable plan to bring the oil to the Reich.

    Any ideas how the Germans could have materialized their intentions to extract benefits from the Russian oil and use it for the continuation of their war efforts?
     
  2. DaveBj

    DaveBj Member

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    This is just a WAG -- might they perhaps have been thinking about the use of the Caucasus oil by the German forces closest to the Caucasus?

    DaveBj
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    So many of Germany's objective's hinged upon the whim's of Hitler rather than any rational planning. Undoubtedly he thought that Russia would cave in a matter of weeks, with much of the infrastructure undamaged and with the more than willing local hands ready to make any repairs needed in short order.

    Of course with a short war in Russia, There would be plenty of time and resources laying about to solve the transportation problem.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler wanted the Southern "Bread basket" and the "oil". Perhaps his goal was two-sided. To take it away from the Soviets, and also in time get the oil for own troops.However, once the operation Blue went well ahead, he changed the goal to send troops south and towards Stalingrad. Thus he created two attacking groups which were quite more weak than if they had stayed together. Hitler´s famous " Der Russe ist tot!" as the autumn time spearheads did not anymore catch Soviet troops inside their pincers. and Hitler´s "Yes men" telling how well the war went...
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Indeed, but he lost a complete year for nothing, whether he won the Case Blue or not, because the objectives were false. He could have even had his troops spending winter in Stalingrad and other part having winter vacations at Caucasus. The oil would have remained where it was, deep under the concrete plugs and there wouldn't be peasants to work on his newly conquered "farms". There were no real benefits from thaese gigantic but fruitless efforts, except for Russians who have got time to prepare for the winter 1942 and summer 1943.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Stalin had his reserves protecting Moscow, and in that sense Hitler picked up the best possible direction to attack. Going for Moscow, which everybody else in the German High Command expected to happen, was not Hitler´s plan for summer 1942.
     
  7. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I agree that Fall Blau was flawed. First, I would have to disagree that the capture of the Crimea was "easy enought". It was one of the costliest battles for Germany up to that date.

    The basic flaw in the plan was the splitting of forces so that neither force had the power to do the job. Thus, both failed.

    As far as the transportation of the oil goes, it could probably could have been removed by rail. However, just denying it to the Soviets would be a strategic victory, so Kai-Petri has a point there. On the other hand, I suspect such a question of how to transport the oil never really entered Hitler's head. His grasp on industry and technology was spotty at best.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Another great quote by Hitler about operation Blau:

    “Either I get the oil of Maikop and Grozny, or I must put an end to this war.”

    Well, did ya? ;)
     
  9. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    If memory serves me correctly where there not members in OKW that argued/stated that an attack in Stalingrad would not be beneficial as it could not be easily encircled (one side ran along the Volga, Cant go and cross that easily without amphibious vehicles) and would be just as easy to bypass it leaving behind a blocking force.

    Taking the Caucasus was never beyond the Axis ability, and while they would be unable to take advantage of the oil in the region to it's full extent it would provide the Axis with a link to Iraq via Persia (Iran) of which both Iraq and Persia were friendly to the Germans (though I suspect this is mainly;y due to the matter of mutual enemies) as well as a far more secure flank and made the Black sea 100% safe for the limited Axis shipping.

    Politically it would also have given the Germans more power in trade with Turkey over the Allies as they would not face a threat on a single front, But 2. This could allow Germany to buy up more of Turkey's resources at lower prices then historically occurred.

    So while it would have had it's benefits that alone would have justified the operation the aim of taking the oil and using it for them selves was flawed largely by the fact as it would be nearly impossible since Hitler had barred the use of large scale airborne attacks that could have taken the Soviets by surprise and captured key facilities.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    With what rail line and what trains?
    Except the Soviets plugged the wells and moved thier production to the fields further east. Fields the Germans had even less hope of reaching.
     
  11. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    The Germans had the hope of only limiting the soviet oil supply by use of bomber's based in the Caucasus flying across the Caspian sea, and even then it would only be a limited area able to be attacked that could be countered by soviet air force units built up in the area.

    Simple matter of fact is that while capturing the oil fields intact would have been preferable (though the pipe lines and pumping stations would still have to be constructed) it would be nearly impossible to capture any of it intact without airborne units jumping in ahead of the advance. And that would require almost every one of them which Hitler would not allow after the losses at Crete.

    So with out use of airborne units the aim of capturing the oil fields 'intact' was flawed. As would have been the mines which themselves could have been sabotaged in any number of ways (blowing up the tunnels, setting fire to the coal deposits, flooding the mines etc).

    The actual objective should have been more simple, Secure the flank.. and By taking the Caucasus they not only give them selves a better defensive position (along the Volga-Don rivers) as well as securing the Black sea (Seeing as Romania and Bulgaria as I understand it had limited merchant capacity, What about the uses of Turkish merchant shipping?? Just a query as I don't know of the size, state or location of there merchant fleet) for possible but likely 'limited' use of mode of transportation of resources from the Caucasus to Axis powers.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Lwd,

    Obviously, they would have to be built, but that wasn't beyond any European power's ability.
     
  13. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Obviously Maikop was taken and possibly Grozny could have if things had gone better. But the distance between Rostov and Baku was as far as Rostov and Romania so it would have required another year just as far as travel is concerned. The real issues were no way to get the oil back to Germany with out a whole lot of building of either ships and or rail lines so it would probably be 2 to three years after the capture assumning that the Germans can restore production. The second issue is that the man power required to force the Caucausus would leave nothing for guarding the flanks along the Don.
     
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  14. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    While I don't disagree that getting the oil back would be near impossible in the short term, and only possible in the medium term 'if' the oil fields were captured relatively intact (which would only be possible by use of paratroopers) I feel I personally have to disagree on your assessment that the Caucasus would not be able to be taken. While on paper it shows the 1.3 million axis troops facing some 2.7 million Soviet troops, You need to take into account the disposition of the forces.. Most of which were far closer to Moscow due to Stalin's belief that the next axis offensive would take place once again there leaving a limited force in the Caucasus, Only 4 army's I believe of which was made up mostly from the destroyed forces that were evacuated from the Kerch peninsula losing much of there equipment..

    The only reason historically that the Germans were held up in the Caucasus was that too much was concentrated on Stalingrad.. and like with Leningrad they left open an avenue for which the minor forces to be re supplied with and even reinforced significantly.

    Advanced forces historically did get within site of Astrakhan while scouting along the Volga... They had the resources to reach the Caspian Sea.. from there it's a matter of time. Russia might be able to counter attack.. But it would likely take place near Stalingrad between the Volga and Don rivers.. A place were they would come up against a Panzer army with one in reserve.. And with the Luftwaffe giving a lot of support.

    So would the Germans march through the Caucasus as fast as they did with the rest of Russia? Unlikely.. But they could do it when you take into account the limited forces they would be up against.

    Hitler was so busy worrying about a few cities that he lost him self the chance to secure vital ground.. Even if that ground wouldn't supply any resources... Caucasus, Murmansk, Karelia etc (taking Murmansk and Karelia would have shut off the Atlantic supply completely and freed up half a million Finnish and German troops - they had about 500,000 Finnish and 220,000 German troops there.)
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That of course depends on the time frame and what else is happening. Given that Germany is severly resource constrained at that point and her rail maintinance and construction crews are busy trying to get the current log system functioning well I suggest that it was rather beyond Germany's power to do it any time soon.
     
  16. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Germany able to do it by her self? Unlikely.... Combined with the other Axis power's all working towards the same goal.. Theres a possibility... Not actual angering the population in occupied Soviet territories and rather being nice to them to get them on your side.. Then it would get done.
     
  17. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Even if the Germans reached Baku whats going to guard their flanks, it was a near call that AGB was able to escape and if the troops are that much farther south they wont get out. The Caucausus are almost as big as the Ukraine and with the mountains the tanks will be useless.
     
  18. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    The Don and Volga rivers and I think it was either the First or Fourth Panzer Army along with associated army's. You need to remember, When the Germans first launched Case blue (with Hitler mucking it up before hand and during) the Soviet forces within the Caucasus region were actually quite weak and ill equipped. The bulk of the force is what was stationed on the borders of Turkey and Iran or that which escaped from the Crimea, They lacked most heavy weapons. Yes it was a large area but there was little opposition at the time.. Hitler took his own chance away which eventually led to the complete loss of the 6th Army in Stalingrad.

    As for if the Tanks are suitable or not, Well most of the region is fairly flat and well suited to tank's as was the Ukraine, Its only once you get much further in that you come up against the are which tanks are not as well suited though that does not mean they cant play a part just not in the standard fast movie large tank formations they are used to.

    As for the possibility of forces being cut off, Well you must take into account the starting positions, AGB was only ever in such a bad position because the Soviets were allowed to have a fairly untouched bridge head.. It was those starting off points that allowed them to advance so rapidly with such a large force.. With out them they would have been greatly slowed down. Not to mention without the battle going on in Stalingrad, The forces would be fresher and more alert to whats going on all around.

    As for the area sizes, Well the Ukraine is just over 600,000 square km's, and the Caucasus region is a tad under 442,000 square km's.
     
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  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Not something the Nazi's are going to acomplish then? Who else whould get themselves in such a mess? There's also the question of time frame still.
     
  20. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Even if the Germans reached Baku whats going to guard their flanks.....
    The Don and Volga rivers and I think it was either the First or Fourth Panzer Army along with associated army's
    .

    Very true. The advance into the Caucasus and the ability of the Axis to hold the area depended on a firm flank being established along the rivers and held against the inevitable Soviet counteroffensives. This was the task of Army Group B. Simply put, 4th Panzer Army was to lead the advance down the right banks of both rivers, and other armies would fill in behind and form the line. For these reasons, the diversion of 4PzA to assist 1PzA and AG A was a crucial misunderstanding of priorities.

    It was predictable, even inevitable, that the Don-Volga line would come under heavy Soviet attack at some point, so it boggles the mind that the Germans chose to man that line mainly with their less capable allies. And of course AG B's principal German armies, 6th and 4th Panzer, were allowed to get bogged down in street fighting in Stalingrad.

    When the Germans decided on an offensive into the Caucasus, they should have cancelled the assault on Sebastopol. Sebastopol had minimal capability to do them harm as it was and would have been completely isolated had the main operation achieved its objectives. Hitler was concerned about the "Crimean aircraft carrier" threatening Ploesti and other vital points, but once the siege lines were drawn around the city, that threat was neutralized. Although the numbers of troops involved were relatively small on the scale of the Russian front, reducing the fortress meant shipping in massive amounts of ammunition and supplies, super-heavy artillery including 600mm mortars and 800mm guns, and considerable use of air power. They would have done better to simply man the perimeter with Romanians and use Manstein's 11th Army on the Don front.
     

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