How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
Dragoon47
Member
Posts: 6
Joined: 10 Dec 2007 08:16
Location: USA

How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Dragoon47 » 28 May 2008 07:49

This, to me, is a very serious topic about strategy and logistics that could have led to a German victory in Stalingrad. This includes strategies that could have been implemented as part of Operation Blue, and during the assault on the city. I just want pure discussion based on German mobility, NKVD defense tactics, coounter-moves, and anything that the Russians could have done with the resources they had available to block or delay the strategies we will discuss, so that means including some counter-arguements in your arguements so we can get an idea of the options available. I will not accept any opinions such as, "A German victory in Stalingrad would not have been possible." Anything is possible, considering how Germany did many things deemed impossible by others to achieve it's early goals before it started falling apart. As a title for your posts, I would reccomend using these titles for a timeline.
Fall Blau-June 29, 1942
First Contact-July 25, 1942
Operation Ring-Nov 14, 1942
Der Kessel-Closure to Feb, 2, 1943
I reccomend these titles only because I believe that they reccommend the four stages of the operation and the major events that happened, but that is debatable and is not the meaning of this topic, and neither is proving a point. You may give evidence that can prove contrary to someone else's work but it cannot be to prove them wrong, but as a support in your own strategies and tactics.
Last, but not least. If you describe a broad offensive, try to name some(if not all) of the provinces or sectors involved in the operation, as statements such as,"They could have swept south into the Caucasus for oil," are not very convincing considering the broadness of it, and it leaves much room for error. Make sure your strategies are air tight before posting, and remember your counter-arguements against your plan if the worst should happen, and where in the operation that may be. This is one of my first posts on this forum and I hope that I have created a useful discussion here and I will participate in it to the best of my ability. Make sure your plans are original and realistic.

Cheers :wink:

User avatar
Lkefct
Member
Posts: 1293
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 22:15
Location: Frederick MD

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Lkefct » 31 May 2008 02:00

The problem with the operation as a whole is that Blau was not that realistic. There are simply not enough men and supplies moving to where they are needed. Even if you took Stalingrad, the Soviets can pull operation Uranus and surround the 6th Army, or whoever is in place. The weakness of the plan is that Hitler wanted a prolonged occupation to gather up all the oil and the flan would be stuck out for a long period of time, without adequate forces to defend the flank.

For Germany to carry out this offensive effectively, they could pull out of the Rhzev and Damaensk salients to free up enough troops to release 1 of the satellite armies from the front. So 1 of the Hungarian, 2 Romanian. or the Italian field armies could be withdrawn, but the Soviets would counter attack to hit the others and collapse the front, so it wouldn't help, plus those troops used where vital in the post Uranus operations to close the gaps in the line.

The only thing that would have helped relieve that vulnerability of being over extended was to provide those armies wiht the equipment necessary to make them effective combat forces. Romanian and Hungarians where often regarded as being good troops, but their equipment was hopelessly outclassed. Italien troops where pretty uneven, but there where good units in the army. They would likely have been more effective. The limiting factor is they would need vast amounts of artillery, AT guns and above all communications equipment. They need to be able to call in massed artillery fire of medium or large caliber any point the Soviets threaten. The satellite units in teh east where never able to do that and most of their guns are ww1 effectiveness. Mass AT guns or a thin screen of AT guns with some AFV with 75 or 76 mm guns would be necessary to stop the tank attacks and allow for local counter attacks. While the guns could be captured from the Soviets, where the communications equipment and the towing vehicles where to come from, plus any AFV's is beyond me.

Dragoon47
Member
Posts: 6
Joined: 10 Dec 2007 08:16
Location: USA

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Dragoon47 » 31 May 2008 10:46

On a much larger scale, Germany should have scrapped their navy. They didn't stand a chance against the British Royal Navy in the first place anyway, and the metal and oil could be used for building aircraft and trucks for the infantry so they wouldn't have to use horses to drag their heavy equipment around. The disbanding or halting of production of the German Kriegsmarine would also allow for at least some troops to be retrained as infantry, or more valuably as pilots for their small numbers. Another industrial decision that could have helped with the Blau operation was to limit the production of the Tiger tanks, as the production of them not only cost a lot in metal and production time, but it also led to the cancellation of up to 4,000 Panzer III's and IV's a month for the cost of 25 new Tigers in the same alloted time, which would have been a lifesaver as far as mobile reserves go. The use of the Tiger was also a mistake. They used it in offensive operations, which was already a bad idea, and they used it as a mobile spearhead. The Tiger was meant as an open-country tank to be used as a mobile reserve to immediately halt an enemy offensive and push them back slowly as more mobile units hit their flanks. The German industry was also asked to do the impossible, with many overlapping projects and orders, the industry was disorganized and turned into a mess, which, in turn, gave some units way too many different vehicles opposed to the Russians using a tank for every category. The production should have been limited to assault guns, one to three medium tank models, one to two heavy tank models, one light tank model, Stukas for CAS missions, Interceptors for DCA missions, and one model of heavy bombers for SEAD Strikes, along with the trucks for heavy equipment, and giving the Axis minors WWII-class weapons with ammunition for them, which, coupled with the reputation for being good troops despite the resources available to them historically, would make them a more than competent foreign legion in the German army.
As far as tactical decisions go, pre-Blau was the start of the problem, specifically in Smolensk, where Hitler chose to stop using encirclement as a means to defeat large portions of the Soviet army just because 2/5 of the Russians he tried to capture escaped the pocket due to rain and bad terrain as it took 8 days to close a 10 mile gap to encircle the Soviets. He instead sent his tanks to Army groups north, and south, but why did he send them north? The marshes and forests in the North would not help Germany in a mobile war, as it had terrain much like Smolensk that would delay important attacks and counter-offensives. But the worst decision he made IMO was when he changed the objectives of the Blau operation.
Instead of just going after the oil in Baku, Grozny, and Maikop, he decided to cut the artery of the Volga, then advance onto the oil fields. A better plan would have been to attack south of the city. This is where the Sixth Army would get divided. The mobile force of the Sixth Army under Paulus would defend the areas south of the city, and would try to ensure that no Soviet forces could cross over the open plains. While this is being put into effect, the infantry would head south and clear out the Caucasus where mobile forces are practically immobilized. Then the oil fields would be within the German Army's grasp. Once Baku is taken, the Sixth Army can become a single force again minus the few divisions for garrisons on the fields. With the new amounts of oil coming in, the Sixth Army would no longer have to worry about fuel and running out of it again, and the German mobility, and effectiveness of encirclements could be possible.
It is only after those objectives are achieved that The Sixth Army could move on the city. Infantry advancing in first, without major bombings. The bombings would be made by Tactical bombers and Stukas to get more accurate results on industry-related targets, as leveling the city's infrastructure only made a war of attrition worse, and also hampered the mobility the Germans were used to. Once the Russians are trapped against the Volga, by this time it should be winter, an encirclement could take place, except in the German's favor. The Russians would no longer have the petrol for large scale encirclements like Operation Ring, in fact, the Germans would be using the petrol they used. Once the City is captured, the Red Army should take a morale hit. Not because the city held any strategic importance, but because of the large propaganda campaign Stalin put into the defense of the city, as he undoubtedly would do again, oil or not.
Once the major objectives are achieved and German industry starts running smoothly again due to the new oil, and building plan, the Blitzkrieg style of war could continue, with good air support, and mobile reserves, the Russians would bleed to death due to local superiority and encirclements. A collapse might also happen, similar to the one that faced Russia in WWI, where the Russians lost faith in the fighting. Leningrad would probably fall, a huge emblem of the original Leninist government, and Moscow would be under siege.
This is where another arguement comes in. A counter-arguement to a Soviet collapse would be the massive amounts of terrain they can use to their advantage. BUT, what if the area of Sverdlosk is taken? That would cripple the Russian railway network which was their main form of transportation for their large masses of infantry, and would prevent a hasty Soviet retreat, and would practically cut Russian supply lines and would cause an economic disaster similar to the German industrial collapse. Stalin would stay in the encircled city to the end as he said he would, and would most likely sue for peace in the event that no hope was possible to counter the German army, as he is ideological, and not stupid. Some of the partisans might even throw down their weapons at the sight of their country giving up the Great Patriotic War and leaving it's citizens behind. Stalin might even sue for an unholy alliance instead of peace, as he would need the recently captured oil through trade, as it would take a long while to start entire drilling operations in Siberia with a smaller economy despite moving most of the factories into Siberia.
Overall, the Battle of Stalingrad was the most decisive battle in WWII, but Hitler messed up the battle long before it even began with his hasty thinking and rash decisions, coupled with his lack of disrespect for the Red Army. Anyway, I'm going to find out where I got most of the statistical information from, as it was mostly from memory, and I will post a counter-arguement to this plan tomorrow, that's my 2.........make that 5 cents haha, look forward to replies.

Cheers,
To my first real post on the forum!

wod
Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 05 Jun 2008 09:59

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby wod » 05 Jun 2008 10:23

Dragoon47 wrote:On a much larger scale, Germany should have scrapped their navy. They didn't stand a chance against the British Royal Navy in the first place anyway, and the metal and oil could be used for building aircraft and trucks for the infantry so they wouldn't have to use horses to drag their heavy equipment around. The disbanding or halting of production of the German Kriegsmarine would also allow for at least some troops to be retrained as infantry, or more valuably as pilots for their small numbers.(SNAP)


Those measures of diverting resources and trying to improve efficency would had only marginal impact and would not had altered the overall situation. To understand the overall strategic situation and hopelessness of Axis overall war effort once US entered the war (and even before it) I can recommend the book "Wages of Destruction".

What comes to local situation at Stalingrad certainly a temporary victory would had been achievable with some daring and innovation. It can be argued that if 6th Army would had more dynamic commander instead of somewhat rigid appearing Paulus perhaps results would had been better. The Soviet defences were in disarray when 6th Army closed on the city and Soviets had to utilize even factory militia etc. irregular troops. More determined efforts to flank the city and cut the Volga supplyline would had at least allowed the city itself to be taken. If I remember correctly Paulus requested permission to cross the Volga to do just that but was denied.

But the point is somewhat moot as the 6th Army was already overextended without critical mobile reserves and giving any important role to Romanians and Italians was already a strategic mistake giving Soviet formations increasing combat power and effectiviness. Also providing weapons to Romanians and Italians would had not been an answer as the issue was probably much more complex than that (cultural and leadership differences, distribution of weapons, training, etc.). You can't massively improve those units combat effectiviness in a overnight. Anthony Beevor speculates specifically in his book "Stalingrad" that Paulus had committed a mistake in not creating a mobile reserve which could had been used to throw back one of the Soviet pincers thus preventing encirclement. Beevor's opinion was that those reserves could had been created from already available forces by rearranging their positions.

Had Stalingrad been taken and/or 6th Army saved from its fate the situation would had reversed anyway in the near future as Soviets would had simply kept hammering away until some other part of the front would had collapsed for the lack of men and material.

wisbechlad
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 30 May 2008 07:09

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby wisbechlad » 11 Jun 2008 06:52

On a much larger scale, Germany should have scrapped their navy. They didn't stand a chance against the British Royal Navy in the first place anyway, and the metal and oil could be used for building aircraft and trucks for the infantry so they wouldn't have to use horses to drag their heavy equipment around. The disbanding or halting of production of the German Kriegsmarine would also allow for at least some troops to be retrained as infantry, or more valuably as pilots for their small numbers. Another industrial decision that could have helped with the Blau operation was to limit the production of the Tiger tanks, as the production of them not only cost a lot in metal and production time, but it also led to the cancellation of up to 4,000 Panzer III's and IV's a month for the cost of 25 new Tigers in the same alloted time, which would have been a lifesaver as far as mobile reserves go


Hmm. Problem with such a re-organisation (starting around 1934 or so?) away from the Navy is that one can then assume an alternative history that never gets the 6th Army to Stalingrad in the first place...

With the disbanding of the KM, Germany is not able to take Norway successfully. RAF and RN units based in Norway interdict severely Swedish iron ore shipments to Germany, possibly even pursuading Sweden to halt shipments completely (just by the simple capitalist method of the Allies offering to pay more than the Germans can offer if the Swedes ship the ore to UK via Norwegian ports... 8-) ) and disrupt shipping in the Baltic. Finland therefore decides to stay neutral. German rail transport is even further stretched (ISTR that much of the grain transport from East Prussia to the German industrial heartland was by sea)

Even shorter of steel, without the Finns helping out Army Group North, with Lend Lease convoys unthreatened by German units in Norway, Blau never gets near Stalingrad.

Dragoon47
Member
Posts: 6
Joined: 10 Dec 2007 08:16
Location: USA

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Dragoon47 » 11 Jun 2008 08:24

Nice replies, time to get more specific I guess. For the taking of Norway, it could be done possibly without the navy, it would take a small bit more time however. You could expand the Wesenburg operation to include Sweden along with Norway and Denmark, but allow them to keep a form of their government, much like a puppet government in most ways. Finland would not have stayed neutral because Viipuri itself was a province worth fighting for in terms of strategic and moral value as it is sovereign Finnish territory and it was a very bitter peace to end on. The taking of Sweden and Norway would give the Germans even more resources as puppeted allies, and Germany would send some of those supplies to Finland.
As for the disbanding of the KM. One of the resons for the loss in the east was lack of air cover for important operations and encirclements. The metal that would normally be used for massive wolfpacks and useless surface navies could be used for building planes, specifically naval bombers. The naval men could be retrained to be naval bombers. With their hopefully extended knowledge of how a ship works and where certain key areas are such as engine rooms, torpedo bays, cargo holds, etc...they could be more efficient at pinpointing these targets and taking them out. Other men that do not have this extensive knowledge could be fighter and interceptor pilots for defensive duty in France to relieve the better pilots for the campaign in the East.
As for during the battle itself, the Volga should have been cut further upriver and downriver, there would have been less resistance and the opposing bank would be flanked from two sides. Chuikov would be forced to break out into German territory but that would have been nearly impossible with only 20,000 men. Air support would be prioritized on the opposing bank of the Volga as that would be the only imminent danger. Chuikov would have to break through~180,000 men as 70,000 would hold the opposite bank. Even with small NKVD units, it would be an incredible feat in itself.
Once the city itself is captured, the Volga could be used as a barrier to enemy attack. This would be possible due to the option to have more recon missions deeper into enemy lines due to the taking of the three airports in the city, so massive operations can be foreseen and countered with enough close-air-support. The line could be held long enough for the oil fields to be taken, and the original main objectives of the Blau operation to be fulfilled. Then the 4th Panzerarmee could rejoin with the rest of Army Group South for another offensive, unhampered by oil supply problems.
The Russians would have to almost ration petrol if they wanted their force to stay mobile, or they would have to downsize their formations and revert to horses in some cases. Stalin would have still put a lot of propaganda into Stalingrad, as to him, it really was the most important city. I know how I would feel after hearing all the Great Patriotic War propaganda about some city miles away for weeks and then hearing that it was taken, I wouldn't want to fight anymore, not as hard anyway, and not for Stalin. A political victory would be complete.
And all those Lend-Lease shipments would actually be further threatened with naval bombers off the coast of Finland, as the convoy escorts are supposed to be used as anti-ship screening vessels for the convoy, they can't protect a convoy ship from a well-placed bomb in the cargo hold holding ammunition or oil, which both can account for some over-the-top explosions if they are hit, so the Brits would have to protect the navy themselves with a surface fleet if they wanted any of it to get there intact, and they would be bombed themselves, and the Russians would not have an airfield close enough to provide support so that would be out of the question.
Anyway, tell me what's wrong with this arguement now, I just want to string together a plan that actually would have worked rather than some Hitler-esque failure, constructive criticism is all I need, and some pitching in of strategies along with what's wrong with mine can always help too! C'mon, let's get this show on the road. :)

wisbechlad
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 30 May 2008 07:09

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby wisbechlad » 11 Jun 2008 09:26

So the Russian counterattack destroys Army Group Centre instead. STAVKA had rather large strategic reserves to use where they like in the winter of 42/43. Just a matter of where the hammer falls. Because the Germans were most extended at Stalingrad, that was the obvious place - so Uranus/Saturn. But if Army Group South is reinforced enough to take Stalingrad as you say, that leaves tissue paper in Army Groups Centre and North... and Mars is much bigger in scope, with a follow up operation that sees the Red Army close to the Polish border in 1943

By the way, what use are naval bombers to the Luftwaffe? An arial blockade of Britain isn't going to work, most imports can come via the ports in the west (Liverpool/ Bristol etc) and the LW can't get air superiority even over the Channel, so those bombers are going to be sitting ducks for the RAF.

wisbechlad
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 30 May 2008 07:09

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby wisbechlad » 12 Jun 2008 03:41

Oh, and a couple of technical points:

- WW2 aircraft are built of aluminium/ wood/ canvas. Not steel. So cancelling KM is not much help

- WW2 aircraft run on avgas (= petrol). Ships run on bunker fuel (= heavy fuel oil/ heating oil) so again, curtailing KM is not much help

And if we are playing fantasy puppet governments, then how about this one? After Tunisia, Allies start secret talks with Italian generals. Sicily doesn't happen, but a military coup overthrows the Mussolini government. Italian army manages to close the Alpine passes for long enough for Allied reinforcements to join them. Allied bombers, based in North Italy, shut down the Ploesti oilfields

User avatar
Lkefct
Member
Posts: 1293
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 22:15
Location: Frederick MD

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Lkefct » 13 Jun 2008 02:49

wisbechlad wrote:So the Russian counterattack destroys Army Group Centre instead. STAVKA had rather large strategic reserves to use where they like in the winter of 42/43. Just a matter of where the hammer falls. Because the Germans were most extended at Stalingrad, that was the obvious place - so Uranus/Saturn. But if Army Group South is reinforced enough to take Stalingrad as you say, that leaves tissue paper in Army Groups Centre and North... and Mars is much bigger in scope, with a follow up operation that sees the Red Army close to the Polish border in 1943

By the way, what use are naval bombers to the Luftwaffe? An arial blockade of Britain isn't going to work, most imports can come via the ports in the west (Liverpool/ Bristol etc) and the LW can't get air superiority even over the Channel, so those bombers are going to be sitting ducks for the RAF.


The Soviets took extremely heavy losses in 1942 and 1943 when they where attacking German units in fixed defenses, rather then their allies who did not have modern AT guns, artillery or communications equipment to direct the fire. Furthermore, the Germans had no substantial reserves to react to the crisis in AGS when the Soviet offensive was launched. The Soviets are going to attack, the big difference will be in the German response and how long does it take to put together an effective counterattack. If the armies in the south are strung out by the advance on Stalingrad the German armies can be isolated and defeated in detail. If the Germans are concentrated and have mobile reserves, they can bloody the soviets, counter attack with armor and not have to spend the whole winter shuffling reserves around from crisis to crisis. In the winter of 1942, the soviets are still learning how to control and maneuver armor. Isolated AT and AA guns often shoot up large numbers of soviet tanks with little danger to themselves. By spring of 1943, the soviets have gained enough experience and gotten enough casualties back from the hospitals that the days of cheap victories for the Germans are over.

Don't get me wrong, the Germans still need to attack in 1942, but they need to be smarter about it. More limited attacks instead of a general offensive. They need to try to capture pockets of troops. If you look at the casualty lists for the Soviets, a large percentage of them come from operations when the Germans encircle soviets with their armor. You destroy entire units that way and force the soviets to rebuild them from scratch. If you beat them up in head to head fighting, not only do you leave a cadre that can be quickly rebuilt with replacements, but the Germans suffer higher losses too and don't capture any equipment. So the Germans need to put the Pz divisions or Corps (even multiple Corp) into the line to launch tank raids that encircle or flank soviet units, destroy them with overwhelming strength and then return to being the mobile reserve after the infantry has taken over the front. To minimize the infantry losses, the Germans need to retreat in the face of prepared soviet offensives, giving just enough ground to force the soviets to bring their artillery and ammunition forward. Soviet attacks can be delayed and tanks raids used to encircle the soviet preparations in some cases. The point for the Germans is to destroy some soviet formations while not allowing themselves to be caught up in battles where attrition will wear the infantry and armor down.

The downfall in Blau is not that they didn't take Stalingrad. Had they taken the city, the 6th army would still have been destroyed because they left their flanks in the hands of allies who did not have the combat power to hold those positions vs a determined attack without totally collapsing. Blau was too aggressive an offensive for the Germans to launch in 1942. If they had captured the Soviet oil, it likely would have won the Germans the war, but if they don't do it before the soviets respond, the Germans have left themselves overexposed and vulnerable.

Naval bomber would need to be long range 4 engine aircraft. They could easily fly out over the Atlantic and away from shore, with no radar to guide the fighters, they would not lose many to fighters. The FW 200 Conders where possible the worst military aircraft in ww2, yet because most ships are totally unarmed, they could afford to fly low and slow over them and drop a few small bombs which sank a rather large amount of shipping. Had Germany had a force of a hundred or more long range aircraft to spot for the U boats and attack stragglers, Germany would be able to increase the sinking totals quite a bit and destroy with it much more allied material. In addition the limiting factor in the early allied offensives is not equipment and men as much as it is lack of shipping to move them around.

Dragoon47
Member
Posts: 6
Joined: 10 Dec 2007 08:16
Location: USA

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Dragoon47 » 15 Jun 2008 00:13

Ok, nice replies yet again, it seems that I have stirred up a discussion. So creating the aircraft wouldn't help much by disbanding the KM because they are made of aluminum, I definetly forgot that much, but the metal could still be used for buidling tanks correct?(Really, tell me.), If so, then the mobile reserves that were needed can be created, along with the metal from Sweden, this could be an advantage for motorizing at least the all-important army group south.
As I said before, the attack in the Blau operation needed to be reworked. Hitler had stopped trying to encircle Russian troops after the Smolensk campaign in which, if I recall correctly, caused 60% of three Russian armies to be encircled. For some reason Hitler saw that as not enough and he ditched the idea of encirclements from then on out, despite the only reason for the 200,000 Russians to escape was the muddy ground in the north. The superior Russian tank divisions in 1943, in my honest opinion, wouldn't be able to pull off huge encirclements with the lack of oil from the Caucasus, which is why Stalingrad should be the second objective of the operation. The advance on Stalingrad also went bad from the start because of lack of oil, with Paulus' Sixth Army running out of fuel less than 30 miles from the city.
A line should have been formed by the Germans from Rostov to Grozny while the 4th panzerarmee cleans up the southern oil fields. Then once army group south is whole again, they could advance on the city without worrying about speedy encirclements and Stalingrad could be sorrounded with a crossing of the Volga river. This is perfectly possible with using the same units but a diversion of oil and mechanized parts, the offensive would not need huge amounts of reinforcements if encirclements and taking the oil is a priority. The line from Rostov to Grozny could also be considered a massive encirclement because the Russians would be trapped in the Caucasus with no way to get supplies to them.
What I am trying to suggest is to eliminate the Soviet use of massive armored tactics before they become skilled in the area. In my opinion, the Russians would have hard times trying to avoid encirclement if they can't move and the Germans can almost waste fuel after capturing 3/4 of Russia's oil.
The ability to encircle is what made the German army great, their Blitzkrieg tactics rely heavily on oil, and if they get those supplies then the Germans are at the top of their game and are able to fight the way they were meant to. Encircling cities instead of fighting in them, forcing units to surrender rather than taking them head on, all of these tactics was what made Germany different from the mass attack doctrines of the Russians at the time, and contributed to their early success, if they were able to repeat that success over and over again the Russians would lose many men and a lot of material to these encirclements. If the Germans try to encircle a tank army, there would be a chance that they run out of oil before they could escape, giving the Germans a large number of captured tanks to give to the low quality minor troops if the Russians didn't destroy them.
Last thing, the Germans could not gain air superiority over the channel because of the amount of AA from the ships and the RAF presence in the area, so the Channel was a horrible spot for aircraft, so the bombings would have to be long-range against Lend-Lease shipments before they get within range of the RN, and any British ships out of range from allied aircraft would definetly not stand a chance against naval bombers, the Bismarck is one testament to that, even if it was a lucky rudder shot.
Look forward to more replies, a lot of constructive criticism in here, thanks for it, I feel a little more competent already thanks to you guys, that's why I love these forums.

cueball
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 05 Jun 2008 07:54

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby cueball » 15 Jun 2008 03:25

The Germans never gave up trying to encircle Russian armies. After Smolensk they successfully turned south and encircled armies in the Kiev Military District (aka Southwestern Front under Kirponos) and they tried to encircle Moscow in 1941 during operation Typhoon, and again during the Battle of Kursk. There are several major operations that called for encirclement after the Smolensk battle.

The problem was that unlike summer/fall 1941, the Russians were not waiting around to be encircled, or being totally overwhelmed, as they had drawn together enough forces to patch their line, and counteract German assaults with counter assaults of their own. For example the pincer arm that extended beyond Volokolamsk in front of Moscow during Operation Typhoon (the North thrust -- 9th Army and 4th Panzer group under Strauss and Hoepner, respectively, that was complimented by another pincer intended to reach beyond Tula to the South of Moscow -- 2nd Panzer Army under Guderian) nearly became a cauldron itself, when the southern thrust at Tula was repulsed and the Russians counter-attacked from the Bryansk Front and the left flank of the West Front (Zhukov), and the Kalinin Front (Konev) in the North.

In fact these armies were temporarily cut out after the Soviets landed a paratrooper division behind their line. This unit later itself became encirled along with some elements of regular Soviet Infantry, due to an agressive German counter attack of their own.

You see any arm of a pincer is really only a salient that can become a cauldron, if the enemy has sufficient forces to counter-attack its flank, and try and encircle the offensive thrust.

Encriclement was simply standard operating procedure for the Wermacht in WW2, the problem was that after the initial shock of Barbarossa, the Russians provided few opportunities for mass encirclements of the kind seen early in the Russo-German war, the Russians either counter-attacking or withdrawing from exposed positions. In fact Kruscheov recounts how Germans tried to lure Soviet armies into offensive operations, and exposed positions, specifically in order to turn the salient into a trap, in 1942, near Rostov. He asserts that it was his direct intervention with Stalin that got Stalin to call the offensive off.

User avatar
Lkefct
Member
Posts: 1293
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 22:15
Location: Frederick MD

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby Lkefct » 16 Jun 2008 02:39

The Germans launch large encirclement battles through the whole war. It is the central idea behind all German operations dating back to the elder Moltke. What the Germans lacked later in the war was the strength to launch the attacks to make the big encirclements that cut off large units. The Germans cut of huge number in their initial attacks on Russia. In 1942, they only have modest success in encirclements (various causes) in AG A & B fronts, but can't even launch attacks to encircle over the rest of the front due to the weakness of their armies in the east. IN 1943, there are a few corp sized encirclements, but nothing like before. After that, small encirclements.

The lack of encirclements is not lack of desire on the Germans part, but a lack of the strength to be the attacker. German infantry division have about 1/2 the combat power they did at Barbarossa. Many Pz div never returned to offensive strength and those that did become the fire brigades and move from defensive actions one after the other.

Blau was a giant gamble because a badly weakened and depleted German army went back into a major offensive with limited offensive power (AG A & B only where brought up to strength). Once the attack progressed, there was no choice but to use the axis allied power to guard the flanks and no reserves to back them up. Once the supply situation slowed the advance the soviets where bound to attack where the Germans where weak and collapse the front, forcing the Germans over to the defensive.

cueball
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 05 Jun 2008 07:54

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby cueball » 16 Jun 2008 02:57

I have to agree. I don't think there is a solution to the Stalingrad riddle, really. I think the causes, and possible solutions to the issue of the East Front, would have to be solved earlier. As many people have suggested following a decisive plan to capture Moscow in 1941 rather than turning south after Smolensk, might have been one solution, even though it had the obvious risks. Also it seems that there was some effort by the Soviets to seek a peace treaty with the Russians, and pursuing this, as opposed to looking out for total victory might very well have saved the German cause, not that I think it was worth saving. But just as an objective study in military history, that is what I think.

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 1310
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby T. A. Gardner » 16 Jun 2008 03:59

The only way I see for the Germans to possibly succeed in their 1942 summer offensive would be to take a really risky roll of the dice, so to speak. To do this I would:

1. Disband and abandon any immediate planning to take the Caucasus area and Soviet oil fields. This frees up a substancial amount of units and equipment, particularly engineering equipment such as that held by Oil Brigade Caucasus.

2. More OT units are brought in to build and restore roads and railways as AGS advances. Sufficent units are present to prevent the need for heavy airlift of supplies throughout the campaign.

3. Rommel is told to expect nothing and receives exactly that. NOTHING. North Africa is a distraction for the Germans. He who defends everything, defends nothing.

4. Units in France are stripped as necessary to bring units in the East up to full strength. This is a gamble that the British and US will be unable to invade France in 1942.

5. The Luftwaffe is shifted East even at the expense of many other areas outside Germany itself.

6. The Italians and Romanians are given out of captured stocks more artillery (with ammunition), field telephones, and antitank mines. ex-French armor is made available to the Romanians as they already have some in use like the R 39 light tank. While this won't bring these units up to German efficency, it will help them hold on longer and cause far more Soviet casualties.

7. AGC and AGN are beefed up enough for defensive operations and for local offensives.

8. Planning is made to put the Germans in good defensive positons by mid fall giving them time to dig in for a Soviet winter counter offensive.

9. The Italians and Romanians are not put in high risk positions at the front.

In the end, the Germans are taking a real risk stripping other fronts for the sake of the East. If their offensive fails to really finish the Soviets or to grab truly defensive positions and hold them then they are doomed long term as they were historically.

JonS
Member
Posts: 3927
Joined: 23 Jul 2004 01:39
Location: New Zealand

Re: How could the Germans have won the Battle of Stalingrad?

Postby JonS » 16 Jun 2008 04:38

T. A. Gardner wrote:6. The Italians and Romanians are given out of captured stocks more artillery (with ammunition), field telephones, and antitank mines. ex-French armor is made available to the Romanians as they already have some in use like the R 39 light tank. While this won't bring these units up to German efficency, it will help them hold on longer and cause far more Soviet casualties.

...

9. The Italians and Romanians are not put in high risk positions at the front.

The problem is that when the Russians targetted the minor Axis nations, wherever they are becomes the high-risk portion of the front.


Return to “What if”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot], Exabot [Bot]