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Why did Operation Barbarossa fail ?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe October 1939 to February 1943' started by KiwiTT, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    I am not surprised given how much his assessment contradicted the "conventional wisdom". Nine out of ten times the convention wisdom became conventional because it was correct. Other historians (Keegan, Megaree, Glantz) are of one opinion; the Germans had slender hopes for conquering Russia at 1941. The Wehrmacht did not anticipate the level of resistance offered by the Russians. What other army in the world could suffer encirclements of Minsk, Smolensk, Umma and Kiev and still go on to win the war?

    The most interesting hypothesis I have read was posed by an old NATO warhorse: what if, the Germans captured Moscow and Stalin still not yield? Possibly Russia could invade Manchuria to acquire new sources of manpower and raw materials. Vital Russian industries had been successfully evacuated into Siberia; Russian internal lines of communication would be shortened, the German logistics extenuated. And to top it off, the Russians counterattack in Siberian winter.
     
  2. merlin

    merlin Member

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    There is always going to be debate on whether the Germans could have beaten the Russians, and what would need to happen to enable this:
    - peace with Britain,
    - no DoW with the US,
    - no time wasted in the Balkans, etc.

    The first two at the very least gave the Russians supplies of aircraft, tanks and raw materials at critical times; and the latter meant time delay, and after Crete the abandonment of the use of Paratroops in the Campaign.

    But we must also be aware of the geographical nature of Russia - any Western invader finds the further in they go - the longer the front becomes!

    IMHO 1941 was the decision time, if they had taken, Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev by the end of '41 they had a chance, if not their only option was to make the Russians seek a compromise - trouble was they didn't realise that. And the big problem - Hitler wouldn't back his Panzer Generals, too often they were told to wait for the infantry.
    There was a possibility that Leningrad could have been taken early, before its defences had been made - this would have aided resupply via the port.
    I don't think that it can be assume that Germans in the streets of Moscow would have meant an earlier type of Stalingrad. 'Stalingrad' happened as it did because Moscow had already been defended. With the Government fleeing the Capital the populace - may just view it as exchanging one 'ruler' for another.
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Simplifying :Stolpi says :Typhoon was possible on 1 september,the Germans would capture Moscow and the SU would collapse,but that stupid Hitler :rolleyes:
    But he refuse to admit that a)the Germans were already that weakened at the end of august b)the Red Army was becoming stronger every week c)a victory in 1941 was virtually impossible .
    The demotarisation of the Wehrmacht had already begun:eek:n 31 august 1941 the Ostheer had lost 22000 LKW and PKW ,and the German truck production for the whole of 1941 was 62000 .
    Thus I have my doubts (and this is an euphemism :D )about the capability of the Panzer and motorised divisions to reach Moscow .
    Source for the losses of LKW and PKW :Va Banque
    Source for the truck production :German War Economy :The Motorisation Myth (Victor Madej P 125 )
     
  4. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    You mentioned your 'game'. Exactly what type of game are you designing?

    Games from the past that have caused a splash about the Russian campaign are manifold. John Edwards "The Russian Campaign", A.H. s "Stalingrad" and "Russian Front"....the topic of the strategic Russian front game was ubiquitous, and EVERY manufacturer and board game designer had his own strategic Russian game. It was the most highly visable and vocal topic in "the hobby" for the entire period. When you design your own game on this subject, you may be well advised to have a look at the work of these designers, as most of them had a go at one stage of another at designing a strategic Russian front game.

    Other posters have said it all about the reasons for failure, so I won't add to it. But if you are designing a strategic game on this topic, you will be following a very well trodden path.

    Good luck, and I hope you make it as historically accurate as possible!

    Regards

    VB
     
  5. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Apart from economic and logistical problems, equipment was a bit of a nightmare for the Wehrmacht at times........

    Perversely, the German army's close involvement in the procurement process contributed to the shortages. Whereas the Allies involved civilians at the earliest stages of the war, the development of radar and signals intelligence being good examples of civilian contribution, in Germany the army was able to dictate to the factories. Some very high quality equipment emerged, the Tiger, the Panther, the MG42 machine gun, but there was a terrible downside: many items were over-engineered, produced in small production runs and subject to endless minor modifications which meant they were no longer interchangeable. For great successes like the MG42 there were expensive failures like the Me-210 twin-engine fighter or the He-177 bomber.

    Take one minor, but important item: the humble track fitted to the American M3 and German Sdkfz 251 'Hanomag' half-track vehicles. The American track consists of two steel cables with reinforcing crossbars molded into a single unit by vulcanised rubber. It wears out after 1,500 miles but is quickly and easily replaced. Its German equivalent is far better engineered, like comparing a BMW part to something off a tractor. It comprises individual steel crossbars rendered into a continuous link by a series of pins. Each pin is held in position by needle bearings. The German track is stronger and longer lasting, but requires considerably more man-hours to build. And if you drive over a mine, neither type will survive.

    Even the magnificent Tiger had feet of clay. Gas-thirsty, its massive Maybach powerplant was superbly made but the strain of driving such an enormous vehicle, especially if one Tiger had to tow another, could damage them beyond local repair. But few spare engines were made, just one per ten complete new tanks. Many of Germany's best tanks spent a large part of their service life in transit from the front-line to workshops in Germany. The situation worsened as logistic services broke down in the face of Allied air superiority. A US tank commander recalled, 'Almost half the Tiger tanks we ran into during our division's advance across Europe were abandoned either due to mechanical problems or lack of fuel'.

    German ingenuity produced an endless succession of field expedients to compensate for the lack of armor. Most types of captured French tank were used as the basis for self-propelled anti-tank guns or artillery pieces; obsolete German tank chassis served in the same roles. Of these, one proved to be perhaps the most effective tank destroyer of the war: based on the Pz. 38(t), the Hetzer was small, easily concealed and mounted a 75mm gun. Better yet, it was mass produced with some 2,500 leaving the Skoda works by 1945. However, many others were clumsy, unreliable and only a few hundred of each were built. Spare parts were a nightmare.
     
  6. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Assuming the loss of Mosow alone would have caused the USSR to collapse, that is. :rolleyes: I like von Mellenthin's epigram "we seized a wolf by its ears and dared not let go".
     
  7. sPzAbt 503

    sPzAbt 503 Member

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    Two other items which I think contributed to the failure of Barbarossa were hubris and abysmal intelligence. After defeating every major power on the continent, in record time, with the only impediment to your victory being the English Channel, I think psychology plays an important role. While Hitler has been rightly vilified, who among us if given an all-conquering army and absolute power would not fall to the allure of using it? We tend to think in terms of late 20th and early 21st century thought, but the reality of 1941 was that the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe had indeed beaten everyone. Decisively. Most histories I have read indicate the Soviets were very, very afraid of Germany – and rightly so. Why else was Stalin so concerned about keeping the peace with Germany until the wee hours of June 22nd? Much like gambling at the casino, Hitler continued to “let it ride”.
    This fundamental hubris also led to a more serious flaw in my opinion – very poor intelligence. I do not have the source handy, but I recall one historian relating that in order to mount a successful attack against another nation, it took on average 10 years of intelligence gathering – for roads, bridges, enemy strengths, photo-reconnaissance, etc. Germany mounted theirs in less than one. They had little or no knowledge of the terrain, road system, Soviet reserves, factory production, etc. While they were very good at estimating the relative army strength directly in front of them, they had no idea about the reserve capability or factory production of the Soviet Union. So I think the psychology of believing oneself invincible led to a very poor decision, taking on a serious competitor without scouting him out in advance!
     
  8. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I believe the question you should be asking is not "Why did Barbarossa fail?", but rather,

    "How did it ever get so close to success?"

    As for the fall of Moscow, it certainly would have made a huge difference to Soviet deployment options. Moscow was the undisputed rail-transport "hub" of the entire Soviet Union. With Red Army strategic deployment movements almost entirely dependant on railways, loss of this would have placed the Russians in a unenviable position regarding their movement of troops from one front to another. Not to mention the stunning blow to morale. Comparison between 1812 and 1941 don't wash either, because Moscow was far more important in 1941 than it was in 1812. The capital of old Russia was ST.PETERSBURG...capturing Moscow in 1812 did very little toward destruction of the political center of the Russian Empire, so sitting in Moscow waiting for surrender, for Napolean, was a terrible decision.
     
  9. ksugeeth

    ksugeeth Member

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    Hi All,
    I've just read the posts on this thread and would like to share a few of my view -points.

    To me, the most and the only important reason for the failure of Barbarossa
    as a whole is that mentioned by marc. There are definitely a lot of valid points
    mentioned in this thread - partisan activities at the rear, insufficient
    resources by Germany to salvage a long war, the role of America, mussolini,
    but even if we considered that if Germany had got over all these issues,
    she may have been able to get over Stalingrad or Moscow, but definitely
    not entire Russia. And yes, as mentioned the Siberian winter was awaiting her.



    Japan's recent wounds inflicted on them by russia did not allow them to side
    with the Germans during Barbarossa.And without Japan attacking Russia from her eastern front , there was no way that Germany could have conquered the whole of Russia. [ Japan's loss to Russia in 1930 has great significance. This was the time when Stalin was purging all his major generals to consolidate his power. Zhukov managed
    to lead Russia to a win over Japan and Stalin realized his blunder and stopped the purges. Had Russia lost to Japan, Zhukov may have also been executed. And we all know that Zhukov was eventually going to be a great pain in the neck for Germany, during Operation Barbarossa :)]

    Winston Churchill: "Germany has just invaded Russia and has lost the war".



    [ P.S:

    1. There is a world map hanging on my wall. I have connected a line
    along St.Petersburg[Leningrad] , Moscow and VolgoGrad[Stalingrad]. The region
    left to this zone was all that Germany could occupy at the peak strength
    of the Wehrmacht. It isnt even 10% of Russia's land area, and it took
    the Germans three years to reach there. (though a major chunk of land
    on Russia's east was just waste land at that time). Germany planned to
    conquer a country more than 20 times her size.

    2. I have read some where that Hitler and the Japanese Army were planning
    to meet up in India. :(. Any one knows more regarding this? ]


    @ANZAC:

    1. Over half of its economic base was in German hands. - The Russians
    used scorched earth policies as they initially retreated after shifting their industrial bases. The Germans dint benefit much initially from the land acquired in Russia, not even food.

    2. having committed the Luftwaffe to supplying 6th Army by air in November 1942 he vanished to Paris - Goring couldnt have done much, as Germany dint have any air bases in the region of the 6th Army, and air travel in the freezing weather was leading to frequent plane breakdowns and servicing became very tough.
    The best thing Fredrich Paulus(6th Army)[Army Group South - B] could have done was retreating towards
    Army Group Don[ Von Menstein]. 3000 tons of food supplies had been arranged (Hitler's alternative plan to Goring's supplies) and they also had the 4th Panzer Army behind, just ahead of Army Group Don. Alas, Paulus never retreated and his 250,000 men were captured.

    3. Over Engineering: Thats an important point. From what i know, i believe that the Tiger tank is the most bulkiest and best engineered tank in ww2. The Germans managed to make all of 1500 tigers through out the campaign. [ later tiger-2 version came out, but it was very tough to manufacture, so they decided to go with the panther tanks]. Russia managed 1350 t-34's a month. (not to forget the huge number of American Sherman's also].

    Failure of the German Intelligence: This topic has been raised by a few people. I do admit that the intelligence may have been a bit lax after the Wehrmacht conquered
    poland in 28 days and france in 38 days. But, i dont think it would have influenced
    Hitler to stop Barbarossa, even if they had seen Red.

    Hitler wrote in his book - "Mein Kamph" in around 1920's itself, that the Aryan Germans need "lebensraum - living space" and he had already set his eyes on Russia. Russia was an obsession for him and the fact that Russia was supportive of both Jews and Communism made him want to win over Russia, a lot more.
    Hitler for most part was not supportive of the German Intelligence. After the German Retreat towards Berlin in early 1945, German intelligence said that Russia would outnumber Germany - Infantry 11:1, Tanks 7:1, Guns 20:1. Hitler dismissed such estimates as bluff. [ Youtube- The Road to Berlin, Part 10/11, 4:15].
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it ever get closed to success(it depends off course what you mean with close:D )
    If you are looking at Hitler's directive on Barbarossa ,it says that the SU must be defeated in a quick(=short) campaign ,well,after 10 weeks the Red Army was numerically stronger than in june,and in october it was stronger than in september,and so on,to finish in december with 4 million men .
    I should say:it was very far from success ;)
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Well, didn´t Hitler himself later on autumn 1941 put it this simply: " If I had known the Russians had 20,000 tanks I would never have attacked that country..."
     
  12. ksugeeth

    ksugeeth Member

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    I dont think this information is authetic enough - it could have been made famous only through extensive Soviet propoganda.

    This kind of a statement reflects that Hitler tends to repent about attacking Soviet Russia. This simply cant be true because even if he had such notions, he was never going to openly admit that in public. I think the first documented evidence of Hitler admittingly accepting defeat was in the famous session in the bunker when he was told by Kietel, Krebs and Jodl that Steiner was not going to attack as he dint have enough force.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think this quote by Hitler can be found in two places.

    1. Guderian´s memoirs book when in September 1941 he visited Hitler´s HQ to get more tanks as he was running out of them and Hitler could only offer 200 new engines for them. That´s when Hitler also said this.

    2. Hitler visit to Mannerheim´s 75th Birthday summer 1942. This has been put on tape and can be found in the Forums by search engine.
     
  14. ww2fan

    ww2fan Member

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    Hitler was the one who decided to invade over the advice of his own generals to not attack becasue of logistical overstretchement of supply routes and the drain on German resources. I think the battle of britain was major drain because it was just another hole for war materials that would have been used against Russia. I think Germany would have had a much better chance at survivng the war if the German high command was in charge of the military. They should have dealt with British more decesively and stop the whole idea of an alliance with a former enemy that starved millions of your countrymen from naval blockade. Hitler was too over-fantized and far from reality.
     
  15. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Hitler himself later in the war blamed Mussolini's botched invasion of Greece and the resulting delay in Barbarossa for the failure in the East.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    And your point is? I'm not aware that Hitler had much of a reputation for critical and objective analysis of his failures ....
     
  17. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Hit failure in this case was not tell Mussolini not to invade Greece when he was advised to do so.
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    And,of course,Mussolini wouyld obey :D
     
  19. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Of course,Hitler was looking for a scape-goat,but he was totally wrong :Barbarossa was not delayed because of Marita (invasion of Greece):the plans for Marita were made in december 1940 and the plans for Barbaerossa made allowance for it .
     
  20. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Keitel made it quite clear to Hitler in late March 1941 that an invasion of the Balkans would delay the begining of Operation Barbarossa.
    Hitler himself anounced the revised date of the attack to the senior commanders of Operation Barbarossa at 11am March 30th 1941.
     

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