One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 549
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 14 May 2022 15:42

Huszar666 wrote:
14 May 2022 11:24

While there were only around 90.000 vehicles, including small cars, light truck, medium truck, heavy trucks and all the unarmoured halftracks produced in all of 1940? The figure for 1941 is 93.600...
Source for German vehicle production?

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12746
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by ljadw » 14 May 2022 16:05

historygeek2021 wrote:
11 May 2022 15:40
There are a few issues with the article.

First, it spreads out imports of natural rubber from the Soviet Union perfectly evenly over 1940 and 1941, but also cites a source claiming that virtually the entire import of rubber came on a single train just a few hours before Barbarossa commenced. Rubber that arrived shortly before the invasion won't be able to be used to produce vehicles in time for the invasion.

Second, the article appears to be double counting production of rubber in occupied western European countries. There is no indication in the article that western European countries were producing synthetic rubber, so the production in these countries was not an input (synthetic rubber) but an output (vulcanized rubber).

Third, the article fails to provide numbers on the amount of rubber suitable for tire production in 1940, although it does note that a considerably higher proportion of natural rubber was needed for this purpose at this point in the war, and natural rubber was a critical shortage in 1940.

Fourth, per footnote 27 in the article, the amount of rubber required per tire in a truck was 67 kg = 147.7 pounds, not 50 as you claimed.

According to Figure 2 on page 53, the German coverage ratio for rubber was only 56.6% in 1940 - they were using more rubber than they were producing. Given the uncertainty of future natural rubber supplies, which would depend on ocean blockade runners after the invasion of the Soviet Union, and the need to produce large amounts of rubber for non-military purposes (e.g., spare tires for civilian trucks, wiring, etc.), it's still not at all clear that Germany had an abundance of rubber with which it could have churned out an extra 23,000 motor vehicles.
German import of rubber from Japan, China and Manchuko through the USSR was :
1940 : 3200 ton
1941 (June not included ) : 12200 ton .

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4791
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2022 18:05

historygeek2021 wrote:
14 May 2022 15:42
Source for German vehicle production?
I suspect he, like most, would be going from the USSBS Motor Vehicle Industry Report, Second Edition, January 1947. For 1940 it gives total German motor vehicle production as:

63,296 LKW ("trucks")
67,561 PKW ("cars")
116,081 Kräder ("motorcycles")
6,435 ZgKw ("half-tracks")
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Avalancheon
Member
Posts: 313
Joined: 23 Apr 2017 06:01
Location: Canada

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Avalancheon » 14 May 2022 21:42

Huszar666 wrote:
14 May 2022 13:53
Morning,

If you start planning 1939 or even earlier, sure, x Pz and y mot Divisions would be possible. However, Hitler assured everyone, that no war would come till 1942 (or 1943). A war 1939 was NOT planned as it were. If you plan on having a war not earlier than 1942 (or 1943), there is no issue for 1942 (or 1943), you can have a shitload of Pz and mot Divisions at that date.
Very true. Hitler believed that he could delay the war until 1944 or thereabouts, giving Germany more than enough time to rearm in depth. That was why he ordered Raeder to embark on the Plan Z expansion for the Kriegsmarine in January 1939, with the construction of battleships and aircraft carriers that would not be ready until years later. This wishful thinking explains alot of the faulty decisions that Germany made in the leadup to the war.
Huszar666 wrote:
14 May 2022 13:53
However.

As I understand this thread, the idea was that another PzArmy should be build up after MAI 1940.
THAT is not possible, on multiple grounds.
Not even mentioning the little bit of problem, that the SU haven't entered the picture till November-December 1940. The planning till then was against the UK, and for that you don't need another PzArmy. The ones you already got are more than enough.
So, if you want another PzArmy against the SU, you have to build it between December 1940 and June 1941 - i.e. in SIX MONTH.
Thats not really the case. After the French campaign was finished, Hitler was already eyeing the Soviet Union. On July 31, 1940, he instructed his Generals to begin planning for an invasion of Russia. Among other things, he ordered the Heer to be expanded to 180 divisions, and the number of panzer divisions to be doubled.

Avalancheon
Member
Posts: 313
Joined: 23 Apr 2017 06:01
Location: Canada

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Avalancheon » 14 May 2022 22:48

TheMarcksPlan: One question that raises its head in these Barbarossa ATLs is about the balance of forces destroyed vs forces created. If the Germans inflict significantly greater damage in July and August than they did in OTL, would the Soviets be able to offset this by raising more reserve Armys in September and October?

Historically, they mobilised 8 Armys in late June, 13 Armys in July, and 14 Armys in August. But then they only mobilised 3 Armys in September, and 5 Armys in October. It is evident that after the initial panic of the invasion had worn off, the Soviets slowed down the rate of their force generation.

If they had felt that Germans still posed an immediate existential threat to them, would they have been able to continue the breakneck pace of mobilisation? These reserve Armys were increasingly poorly armed as the war went on and armorys were emptied out. The shortages of trained officers and personnel were also becoming apparent.

Also, if the situation facing them was truly desperate, would the Soviets have resorted to the expedient of transferring the 4 Armys stationed in the Caucasus to a more immediately threatened sector (such as Moscow)?

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 549
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 15 May 2022 00:11

ljadw wrote:
14 May 2022 16:05

German import of rubber from Japan, China and Manchuko through the USSR was :
1940 : 3200 ton
1941 (June not included ) : 12200 ton .
Source?

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12746
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by ljadw » 15 May 2022 08:46

Avalancheon wrote:
14 May 2022 21:42
Huszar666 wrote:
14 May 2022 13:53
Morning,

If you start planning 1939 or even earlier, sure, x Pz and y mot Divisions would be possible. However, Hitler assured everyone, that no war would come till 1942 (or 1943). A war 1939 was NOT planned as it were. If you plan on having a war not earlier than 1942 (or 1943), there is no issue for 1942 (or 1943), you can have a shitload of Pz and mot Divisions at that date.
Very true. Hitler believed that he could delay the war until 1944 or thereabouts, giving Germany more than enough time to rearm in depth. That was why he ordered Raeder to embark on the Plan Z expansion for the Kriegsmarine in January 1939, with the construction of battleships and aircraft carriers that would not be ready until years later. This wishful thinking explains alot of the faulty decisions that Germany made in the leadup to the war.
Huszar666 wrote:
14 May 2022 13:53
However.

As I understand this thread, the idea was that another PzArmy should be build up after MAI 1940.
THAT is not possible, on multiple grounds.
Not even mentioning the little bit of problem, that the SU haven't entered the picture till November-December 1940. The planning till then was against the UK, and for that you don't need another PzArmy. The ones you already got are more than enough.
So, if you want another PzArmy against the SU, you have to build it between December 1940 and June 1941 - i.e. in SIX MONTH.
Thats not really the case. After the French campaign was finished, Hitler was already eyeing the Soviet Union. On July 31, 1940, he instructed his Generals to begin planning for an invasion of Russia. Among other things, he ordered the Heer to be expanded to 180 divisions, and the number of panzer divisions to be doubled.
Planning is not proof of intention .
And 180 divisions was to low for a possible successful Barbarossa .

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12746
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by ljadw » 15 May 2022 08:51

historygeek2021 wrote:
15 May 2022 00:11
ljadw wrote:
14 May 2022 16:05

German import of rubber from Japan, China and Manchuko through the USSR was :
1940 : 3200 ton
1941 (June not included ) : 12200 ton .
Source?
Heinrich Schwendemann
Die wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit zwischen dem Deutschen Reich und der Sowjetunion von 1939 bis 1941
Tabel 18 c P 382

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12746
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by ljadw » 15 May 2022 09:08

Other figures
Official/Domestic and Unofficial ( from France, Italy , etc )German rubber supplies
1940
Official 38500 ton
Unofficial 50051 ton
1941
Official 70500 ton
Unofficial 83702
1942
Official 100500
Unofficial 106024
1943
Official 118600
Unofficial 69848
1944
Official 93400
Unofficial 28512
Source
Did material shortages decide world war two?New data for the exemple of Nazi (SIC )rubber supplies
by Paul Ferdinand Schmelzing
P 52 figure 1
And from the same source ( P44 )In January 1942 5 Italian blockade breakers with rubber reached Bordeaux from Brazil .
From July 1941 to December 1943 16 blocade breakers transported 60000 ton of rubber

Huszar666
Member
Posts: 82
Joined: 18 Dec 2021 14:02
Location: Budakeszi

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Huszar666 » 15 May 2022 09:31

Morning,
Huszar666 wrote: ↑Yesterday, 12:24

While there were only around 90.000 vehicles, including small cars, light truck, medium truck, heavy trucks and all the unarmoured halftracks produced in all of 1940? The figure for 1941 is 93.600...
Source for German vehicle production?
Oswald: Kraftfahrzeug der Reichwehr, Wehrmacht, Bundeswehr.
TheMarcksPlan: One question that raises its head in these Barbarossa ATLs is about the balance of forces destroyed vs forces created. If the Germans inflict significantly greater damage in July and August than they did in OTL, would the Soviets be able to offset this by raising more reserve Armys in September and October?
They were at the end of the rope in regards to equipment. They had soldiers but not enough material to equip them properly. If you look at the Divisions raised after October, you will note that heavy weapons (that is everything above a rifle) was very scarce and about half of them couldn't be deployed till end of January (and even then, there were huge gaps in the organisation), or even till Summer 1942 (yeah, a big part of the Reserve Armies in the summer of 1942 consisted of the October 1940-risings).
Thats not really the case. After the French campaign was finished, Hitler was already eyeing the Soviet Union. On July 31, 1940, he instructed his Generals to begin planning for an invasion of Russia. Among other things, he ordered the Heer to be expanded to 180 divisions, and the number of panzer divisions to be doubled.
Starting planning for a campaign doesn't mean an immediate intention to start said campaign. And says nothing about the date of the campaign and the neccesary troops. The SU really entered the picture as an "immediate" threat - on should tackle within a year - after Molotov's visit in November. The preliminary planning wasn't done till December.
The short-term need for 5th Panzer Army can only be realised AFTER the threat is realised and AFTER the preliminary planning is finished. Simply put: you won't realise you need something if there is no need to have it, and only after you know what, where and how far do you want to do.

So, assuming, the need is realised in December 1940 you can't start implementing the solution for a few month at least (since the procution pipeline has to be strengthened, material prepared, and stuff produced). I don't think ramping up the production earlier than March 1941 would be possible, way to late for the 5th Panzer Army to be ready in Late June 1941.
At best, you would be able to have one or two new mot Divisions, but not much more.

ATLs and What-Ifs are a nice thing, but you have to anchor it in reality - i.e. possibilities, intentions and informations.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 3216
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 May 2022 20:29

Avalancheon wrote:
14 May 2022 22:48
TheMarcksPlan: One question that raises its head in these Barbarossa ATLs is about the balance of forces destroyed vs forces created. If the Germans inflict significantly greater damage in July and August than they did in OTL, would the Soviets be able to offset this by raising more reserve Armys in September and October?

Historically, they mobilised 8 Armys in late June, 13 Armys in July, and 14 Armys in August. But then they only mobilised 3 Armys in September, and 5 Armys in October. It is evident that after the initial panic of the invasion had worn off, the Soviets slowed down the rate of their force generation.

If they had felt that Germans still posed an immediate existential threat to them, would they have been able to continue the breakneck pace of mobilisation? These reserve Armys were increasingly poorly armed as the war went on and armorys were emptied out. The shortages of trained officers and personnel were also becoming apparent.
Historygeek has raised this point too. I get the basic intuition and it's something I should have to address (and have addressed, but long thread I know).

I assess that it's just impossible for the RKKA to have generated significantly more forces during Barbarossa (unless the PoD is Stalin waking up earlier pre-Barbarossa, as KDF33 has pointed out). The OTL mobilization was a maximal effort that encompassed every aspect of Soviet society. Too general a point for specific evidence but we can discuss if folks disagree. Fortress Dark and Stern is a great discussion, as is Harrison's The Soviet Homefront during WW2. The SU immediately slashed its industrial and agricultural workforces, cutting civilian consumption to the bone and beginning the starvation path that killed millions of infants during 1942 and millions of adults in 1943-44 (see Hunger and War).

Because there was no slack in the civilian economy, a further draw of ~2mil men into RKKA to replace ATL losses would have come from the war economy. I've discussed here that SU was already doing this to replace OTL losses, to the detriment of production (recall that Soviet GDP shrank by ~40% by 1942). As discussed in linked post, half of Soviet soldiers mobilized in September 1941 came directly from the metals-industry-transport sector, which was on the brink of collapse already and was unable adequately to feed to armaments industries in 1942 (as Harrison says, the economy was unbalanced).

It'd be bad enough to draw 2mil men out of the OTL Soviet economy; in ATL it's so much worse because SU loses Ukraine months earlier and also loses the Moscow-Gorkiy, Leningrad regions and everything west of the Don by late Fall. The workforce and its productive output is already ~30% smaller by those losses alone. Furthermore, earlier losses of (or evacuations of) critical plants in Central Ukraine and Leningrad mean that production is already below OTL in July and continues declining (both absolutely and relative to OTL).

Let's look again at GKO 675's description of the state-sector economy (basically everything but the collective farms). 20.9mil workers total there. In ATL Sept. '41, we're already down to ~16mil workers (minus Moscow, L'grad, Ukraine, nearly everything west of the Don). Draft 2mil more men and you're down to ~14mil workers. You now have ~2/3's of the national (non-ag) workforce. I don't think it's possible to find more able-bodied men on the collective farms (these were the first to go) and stripping that sector more is not really possible unless we want to SU to collapse from acute famine in 1942.

How does SU produce more equipment from 33% fewer workers?

So if RKKA wants more armies in ATL latter '41, those armies are going to have to spread less-than-OTL armaments over more-than-OTL men. Is that a viable strategy? Seems highly dubious. As you note, the late '41 RKKA armory was poor. The forces that won Moscow were very short of heavy and automatic weapons, basically a mass of riflemen. To replace 2mil men and their equipment (also lost in ATL encirclements), RKKA would probably have been lucky to have enough rifles while artillery, tanks, etc. would be negligible. They'd be fielding something akin to Chinese Nationalist armies, which usually couldn't defeat even the weakly-armed IJA in pitched battles.

In fact what we'd have seen is the RKKA's force generation ability being significantly lower than OTL. They lose millions more workers/soldiers to occupation because more-rapid advances prevent full evacuations (as discussed in Fortress Dark and Stern and a few other works, many Soviets evacuated involuntarily so would not have "self-evacuated" had faster German advances prevented many OTL evacuations).

This is significant a "reserve" argument for my ATL. So far my spreadsheet model assumes OTL force generation in 1941, albeit with a penalty for weaker armament in latter '41.

Avalancheon wrote:Also, if the situation facing them was truly desperate, would the Soviets have resorted to the expedient of transferring the 4 Armys stationed in the Caucasus to a more immediately threatened sector (such as Moscow)?
Yes, I think this is likely to some extent. Do they completely abandon defense of the Turkish border? Probably not because that risks catastrophe. But I could see 2 more armies being thrown against Ostheer. I've actually incorporated that into my spreadsheet model (200k more men redeployed from inactive fronts - I called it "Siberian delta" but applies to Turkey-facing fronts as well). If we want to say 400k shifted against Ostheer in latter '41, rather than 200k, it doesn't change the picture of decisive German superiority along the Eastern Front.

TMP bookmark: constraints on Soviet force generation during Barbarossa
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 16 May 2022 03:23, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 3216
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 May 2022 23:12

German Truck Production in 1940 and 1941


This field is perhaps the easiest in which to demonstrate that German failures were voluntary. USSBS is absolutely unambiguous about this. For example:
The problem of the industry during the period 1940 through 1942 was to find adequate utilization of its productive facilities. Motorcycle and automobile production tapered off considerable as civilian production was stopped, while truck production did not exceed 80 percent of the 1939 volume.
Maximum production of the German truck factories had been calculated at slightly over 167,000 [vs. 62,400 produced in 1941], but no attempt had as yet been made to produce at such a rate .
The industry's underutilization is also obvious in the value of production:

Image

It is frankly comical that some AHF'ers still convince themselves that Germany could not have produced many more trucks. They had the industrial plant capacity to produce 100,000 more trucks if they had wanted (though surely not the rubber and maybe not the fuel for quite that many).

Note also that, as with nearly every area of Heer equipment, truck production was allowed to decline as Germany prepared to fight the world's largest army and country:

Image


...and the military as a whole (surely the Army in particular) got an even smaller slice of this declining production:

Image

--------------------------------------------------------

Because so many cannot believe that German defeat was voluntary, they glom on to bad arguments such that German truck production didn't increase much during the war. That's a terrible argument given that German truck output increased by >70% between 1940 and 1943. It only seems small in comparison to other fields like tanks and aircraft.

What this bad historical analysis misses is the relative priority for truck production in later war years. Germany devoted its national resources to things other than trucks and probably for good reason (i.e. fuel limitations had they built 5x the trucks). The MV industry's labor force shrank from 165k in 1940 to 95k in 1944:

Image

There is surely no other major production category that didn't see an increase in workers, let alone a 43% decline.
------------------------------------------------------------

Note that this ATL probably doesn't even need greater German truck production. The foundational aspect of driving Occupied Europe harder (as from 1942) would probably have yielded sufficient trucks from there, as it did during 1942:

Image

As these looted trucks have tires, this solves the rubber issue (either use the looted trucks and don't increase production, or reuse the tires on new German trucks, or some combination thereof).

Besides more trucks from occupied Europe, a Germany taking the SU seriously would have imposed on the domestic economy those truck restrictions it imposed later:

Image

...the later restrictions obviously had sufficient substitution routes, as the German economy was by no means collapsed by greater withdrawals of trucks.

In sum there are MULTIPLE SUFFICIENT routes to the ATL Ostheer truck park, for none of which have I seen a convincing counterargument.

-----------------------------------------------------

What makes understanding these obvious facts so difficult? Those committed to believing that Germany could not have defeated SU think in a circular manner: That the fact of excess German productive capacity is so obvious makes them assume, in tortuously circular reasoning, that some other explanation must explain German's truck production status. It can't be that German defeat was voluntary, so the blindingly obvious must be denied.

------------------------------------------

TMP bookmark: German truck production 1940-41
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 16 May 2022 02:12, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 3216
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 May 2022 23:28

historygeek2021 wrote:
11 May 2022 15:40
There are a few issues with the article.

First, it spreads out imports of natural rubber from the Soviet Union perfectly evenly over 1940 and 1941, but also cites a source claiming that virtually the entire import of rubber came on a single train just a few hours before Barbarossa commenced. Rubber that arrived shortly before the invasion won't be able to be used to produce vehicles in time for the invasion.
The idea that one train brought 21,000 tons of rubber in June 1941 is obviously wrong and for a reason I should have realized immediately. The maximum cargo load of Soviet trains was 650 tons:
Soviet trains were 120 axles long, which gave a gross weight of 1,200 tonnes for the rolling stock and cargo or a net weight of 650 tonnes of cargo.
https://www.hgwdavie.com/blog/2018/3/9/ ... r-19411945

It is literally impossible that the "suggestion" of this train by another source (which Schmelzig obviously and rightly doubts) was correct.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 3216
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 May 2022 00:14

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 May 2022 23:12

Note also that, as with nearly every area of Heer equipment, truck production was allowed to decline as Germany prepared to fight the world's largest army and country:

Image
Does anyone have monthly truck production figures, btw? I would guess that the difference between June 1940 and June 1941 is much greater than the difference between 1940 and 1941, overall. This was true of all Heer equipment besides tanks...
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 3216
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 May 2022 04:53

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 May 2022 20:29
They lose millions more workers/soldiers to occupation because more-rapid advances prevent full evacuations (as discussed in Fortress Dark and Stern and a few other works, many Soviets evacuated involuntarily so would not have "self-evacuated" had faster German advances prevented many OTL evacuations).
To give some specifics, here's Fortress Dark and Stern on late evacuations in eastern Ukraine and southern Russia:
After Mariupol’ fell, the Wehrmacht advanced eastward along the
northern shore of the Sea of Azov into Rostov province, which contained
the major industrial centers of Taganrog and Rostov-on-Don, and the
coalfields of the Russian Donbass. It was the gateway to Krasnodar
Territory and, from there, the oilfields of the Caucasus. The Germans
occupied Taganrog on October 17, but the hard-fought battle for Rostov
raged from late September through mid-November. The Commissariat of
Coal planned to evacuate Rostov province on October 11 but active mines,
machine-building and enrichment factories, two power stations, and other
enterprises, employing 40,000 people, still remained.135
So even by late Fall, which implies the maximal amount of time for evacuations, SU was not able to get all workers and plant from Taganrog-Rostov sectors (and was unable to get anything out of Mariupol because the city fell so rapidly). This pattern would play out repeatedly regarding other areas. The Central Ukraine, which contained enormously valuable munitions and metallurgical plants, is particularly important. In OTL, Ostheer did not conquer these areas until late August due to SWF's stubborn resistance. ATL they fall no later than mid-July after SWF is destroyed in the Border Battles. Here's Fortress on evacuations from some of these towns, Kirovograd first:
By December, the evacuation of industry began to wind down. Pogrebnoi
later noted,
In these difficult circumstances, there were mistakes and blunders. They occurred primarily
because we did not have experience of this type of work under wartime conditions. For
example, in the beginning, we evacuated industry from one part of Ukraine to another . . . .
We were so late in evacuating the machine-building factory Krasnaia Zvezda from
Kirovograd, and a series of metal factories from Donetsk [Stalino] province that there were
large losses.138
Zaporizhe was especially critical and its evacuation especially difficult:
As the battle for Kiev raged into September, the Red Army fiercely
defended the left bank of Zaporozh’e, as workers continued to load the
metal factories. Workers streamed into Zaporozh’e from all over the
Donbass, mobilized by the Party, to help.119 A. G. Sheremet’ev, Deputy
Commissar of the Iron and Steel Industry, recalled:
The enemy saw that the equipment from Zaporozh’e’s factories was being shipped out, and
they bombed and shelled the territory of the factories daily with artillery and mortar fire.
Every day, people were wounded and killed. But people worked and they pushed on.120
Workers on the left bank exited the factories when they came under fire and
then returned to continue the work.121 By October 3, the Red Army was
unable to hold the eastern part of the city any longer. Yet the loading was
done. The workers joked that the only thing left for them to do was to
sweep the empty machine shops.122 They decided, however, to leave the
janitorial work to the Germans. By the time the Wehrmacht took the left
bank, the metallurgical plants had been saved.
An AGS that rapidly destroys SWF and conquers Central Ukraine would have prevented/reduced these critical evacuations, with very serious results for Soviet industry. SU could devote more resources to earlier evacuations here, but each assigned train car means one fewer assigned elsewhere.

Something also to note is the timing - even if successful - of evacuations. Because of the urgent need for munitions production flow, evacuations were postponed for as long as possible to allow continued production. Again here's Fortress:
Dismantling the large power stations was a particularly delicate task.
Once the electrical equipment was dismantled and the dam blown, the
industrial base of the region went dead. Success hinged on an almost
clairvoyant ability to predict movements at the front. Too early would cost
the state much-needed defense production
; too late would risk loss of the
power stations to the enemy. The decision required nerves of steel. Most of
the power stations, including those in Kiev, Odessa, and Stalino were
dismantled in the very last days or even hours before the Red Army pulled
out.
While SU had to shut down Donbas production only in early October OTL, in ATL they have do so in early/mid-August. As we've discussed elsewhere, the loss of Donbas production - especially chemical industries - was a massive blow that cut Soviet supplies of explosives (therefore of ammo) by about half. As I also noted in that thread, losing all of Donbas (i.e. not keeping Voroshilovgrad Oblast) prevents the partial recovery of Soviet explosives production in the first half of 1942. Lend Lease explosives ended up saving RKKA in the long term but that's not anything near later levels in 1941, so the losses drop straight to the bottom line.

And it's not just Ukraine; important OTL evacuations are impossible/reduced elsewhere in ATL as well. Fortress again:
In western Belorussia, which was
occupied within less than a week of the invasion, most industry was lost.
Yet in Gomel’, Belorussia’s second-largest city, the SE had a little more
time and success. The battle for Gomel’ began in July, but the city was not
occupied until August 21. Evacuation began in early July and continued
through the beginning of August under intense bombardment. Workers
managed to ship out 42 industrial enterprises and 80,000 people, including
Gomsel’mash, an agricultural machinery factory already converted to
defense. By September, Gomel’’s enterprises had been resettled in the east
and were once again producing armaments.106
AGS's early destruction of SWF and AOK 6's consequent push to the Dniepr north of Kiev makes holding Gomel for long impossible, it's probably lost by mid-July. Even those parts of its plants that might be evacuated in ATL July are not then producing for RKKA during ATL July-August.

Then consider plants like the crucial tank factories of Leningrad and Kharkov. These were able to maintain some production into September (Leningrad) and October (Kharkov). ATL they have be on wheels by August, which means RKKA is missing two months of tank production during critical Fall 1941 months. When the factories come back online in late 1941, the metallurgical and transportation basis of the Soviet economy will have shrunk so much that it's doubtful they'd reach OTL production even if 100% evacuated.

-----------------------------------------------

The general theme here is an application during 1941 of my headline formula for beating the SU in 1942: Make the SU an economically/demographically smaller country during 1941 and it has a smaller/weaker army in 1942. That's just as much true for 1941, where earlier losses of critical plants and workforces start shrinking Soviet output vs. ATL within weeks of the invasion. So I just can't see the RKKA generating more-than-OTL forces. Rather, they'd generate significantly less-than-OTL forces and/or would have armies stripped of firepower.

Could the SU have taken a radically different approach of spending even more blood, using soldiers with even fewer weapons than OTL? Theoretically yes but practically I can't see any benefit to that approach. Masses of more riflemen would probably be annihilated as easily as fewer better-equipped soldiers, while the extra human losses make SU's 1942 defeat even easier.

TMP bookmark: more details on ATL Soviet force generation capacity
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Return to “What if”