Its May 1942, your in C-in-C of the German Army

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Galahad
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Post by Galahad » 07 Feb 2003 23:22

I definitely agree that the failure of Barbarossa cost the Germans their only chance for an out and out military victory.....given that the Soviet Union could survive 1941, it could only grow stronger, while the Germans grew weaker, especially since they could only deploy a part of their total strength on the Eastern Front, and, further, had to face the ever-growing potential of the Western Allies.

I also agree that they blew it when they didn't go for Moscow as soon as they could. Moscow was the ONLY grand strategic target of any consequence in the Western Soviet Union. It was the center of government, one of the largest industrial centers in the Soviet Union, and, most importantly, the hub of the Soviet lateral rail and road communications network.

It's capture would have simplified the German strategic situation greatly. The next lateral rail line of any consequence east of Moscow was more than a hundred miles away, and had a considerably lower capacity than those leading out of Moscow. To capture the city would curtail the Soviet ability to rapidly transport and supply its forces along the north-south axis.

Further, its capture would have totally isolated Leningrad and the ports of the north, which same could then have been captured. These two results, in turn, would have effectively shortened the German front and simplified their overall military situation.

Lastly, it was the only target where the Germans could approach along a paved highway, which would ease the wear and tear on their motorized units, while speeding up their use for supply purposes.

The Russians on this board keep saying the Germans couldn't have captured it because their forces, especially their mobile forces, weren't in any condition to have done so after the Battle of Smolensk.

I disagree with that, first, because of the condition and numbers of the Soviet forces on that front--the majority being newly raised and generally untrained, as well as being in a state of great disorganization--and second, because if the flipping panzers were capable of the move south to the Kiev area, and combat there, without a rest period, then they were equally capable of an attack to the east. And they were certainly in better mechanical shape BEFORE moving to Kiev than they were after the move.

Whether or not they could have taken it remains to be seen. But taking it was their best chance for a genuine strategic victory, and the situation after the Battle of Smolensk was the only time when the forces involved, and the weather, favored the Germans more than they did the Soviets.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 08 Feb 2003 03:29

Hi my initial reasoning for the thread was that the spring/summer 1942 on the Eastern Front was for me the defining moment in Germanys future fortunes or disasters within that country. It is hard to give a viewpoint on what was the right thing to do without hindsight, for no matter how objective we try to be somewhere at the back of our minds we know what happened. So with that my reasoning is based on hindsight and a bit of what if.

The Murmansk/Archangel Op (M/A Op) would be a short term victory and one won on the periphery. The infrastructures within that region made any larger operations problematical at best and not without committing large amounts of engineer, logistic & construction assets could it hope to succeed. The amount of aid reaching Russia via this route was at this stage only minimal compared to future years and eventually other supply arteries would eclipse this. The main objectives were the ports, firstly to stop aid to Russia and also to serve as a supply route for the Germans. The supplies to be of any use would have to be shipped in, which given the state of the German merchant fleet & Kreiegsmarine would make this a hazardous undertaking.

The Oranienbaum/Leningrad Op (O/M Op) is my choice. Firstly the destruction of the Oranienbaum B/H clears up an annoying cyst in the German rear, which initially only required second-rate divisions to keep in check. But later in the war this would prove boil like, and more men & materials were wasted guarding it. The drive to capture Leningrad would not turn out to be another Stalingrad because the Russians wouldn’t be able to re-supply or reinforce at a fast enough rate to stop the fall of the city. Also the Germans wouldn’t have to use massive armoured forces (they could still in the main be left down on the Steppes). The fall of the city would also be a political victory. The capture again of the port would help supply strains to AG North and further afield. Also the forces released from the Shlisselburg nose would enable the Germans to have a ready reserve for op’s in the north, something it struggled to keep throughout the war. A drive to the Volkhov River would be feasible thus cementing the Germans northern flank. What about Finland, we all know the Finland’s aims were limited in WW2 but the release of Finnish forces from the Leningrad arena would enable them to have a ready reserve and also commit more troops to the Svir front and maybe up north to Murmansk?

The Moscow Op (M/Op) is the least attractive in my eyes. Yes you capture the capital but some countries are more than there capital and Russia is. Yes it is the main logistical node for lateral traffic in particular but the amount of resources needed to capture it and the potential losses would be more than the German Army could bear. The fact that it was also an obvious choice goes against it because the Russians would have prepared the ground ala Kursk style.

The Blau Op (B/Op) had lofty goals and I think with the 11th Armies involvement as per the original plan it may have achieved them, at least in the short term. The retreating Russians destroyed the oilfields and it would take many months for them to come back on stream. The closing of the Volga River traffic would have caused some problems to the Russians but the massive salient would have been a major headache for the Germans to man & defend. The effect on Turkey is unproven.

The defensive option is one that really comes under the what if realm. In the long term Germany knew it couldn’t defeat the Russians given the resources the Russians had available given time to harness them. So by going on the defensive it is admitting defeat, not an option to Nazi Germany. The Germans would build an Eastern Atlantic wall but like any rock, the waves will eventually wear it down, and this would be no different.

Andy

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R-Bob The Great!
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Post by R-Bob The Great! » 08 Feb 2003 05:58

im not sure of the exact date of torch but if it was before you could give rommel another division instead of making him feldmarschall. he would break through at el alamein pretty easily when he had the brits on the run. I think that would have supplemented operation blue because he could attack north from Middle East.

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Robert Rojas
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RE: It's May 1942, you're the C in C of the German Army.

Post by Robert Rojas » 09 Feb 2003 09:20

Greetings to both citizen Andy H. and the community as a whole. For the purpose of this poll, yours truly selected the "OTHER" option. I cast my ballot for the "OTHER" option to address a critical event that appears to have been conspicuously overlooked by the contributors of this thread. The critical event of which I speak was the pre-emptive Soviet offensive launched in the Ukraine in the May of 1942. As the senior soldier of the German Army, I rather suspect I would have been quite busy formulating proactive countermeasures to deal with this serious threat. The literal survival of the German Sixth Army would depend on my sound and timely decisions. As history would have it, the forces allocated for the Fall Blue operation would be decisive in the subsequent envelopment and destruction of this abortive Soviet Spring offensive in the Ukraine. The name of this German counteroffensive would be called "FRIDERIKUS". The cost to the Red Army for this abortive Ukrainian offensive was in the area of 277,000 casualties in terms of dead, wounded, missing and captured. I would like to recommend the following work of literature on this all but forgotten event in the May of 1942. The work is entitled as KHARKOV 1942: Anatomy of a Military Disaster. The author is David M. Glantz and the publisher is Sarpedon Publishers of Rockville Centre, New York. The year of publication is 1998. I hope my little blurb is of relevant interest to the contributors of this particular thread. I bid all of you a wonderful day in whatever reality where you might find yourselves.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :)

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 09 Feb 2003 11:24

I voted 'other' and bear in mind the question asked what I'd do:

Fighting withdrawal to Germany's 1914 borders. Organise fixed defence along these 'new' borders.

Place regular Army formations alongside SS units and disarm them. Absorb those who wished to transfer and 'cage' those who didn't

Assassinate Hitler or hand him over to Stalin along with the rest of his brown cohorts. Sue for peace with Western Allies and Soviet Union.

Dismantle KZ system.

Hope to God the reparations demanded aren’t going to bee too costly

How many lives would that have saved? And still would have left Germany better off than it was by 1945

Regards

-Nick

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 09 Feb 2003 12:47

Hi Robert

I have the book you mention, and it is a good book. When formulating this thread I was aware of the Russian offensive in the south but considering its failure (Mainly due to the German forces in area preping for Op Blau and Russian tatical blundering) I decided that it's influence with hindsight was small in relation to what Germany's next offensive option was.

Andy

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 10 Feb 2003 16:41

Briefly - I would look primarily for attrition through operational success, and so would favour attacking somewhere where maximally large Soviet forces could be dealt with on as favourable terms as possible. The sector between Voronezh and Moscow look like a good candidate.

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ISU-152
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Re: On to Moscow.

Post by ISU-152 » 12 Feb 2003 13:38

Nick.A. wrote:Definitely On to Moscow! To take the Capital would have Increased the demoralisation effect on the enemy 100 fold. Stalin would have had to flee, and catch up with the rest of his government. Didn't the French capitulate, after the fall of Paris ???
They have a saying in Russia: "What's good for a russian, deadly for a prussian". Catch the drift?
Do not compare french and soviets just because the french were lousy soldiers in no way comparable to soviet army. If soviet union had 100+ divisions ready to fight even with capture of Moscow it would fight on. Not like it was with the french who surrendered within a month simply because they were overrun.

best regards,
Sergei

Jarkko Hietala
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Post by Jarkko Hietala » 12 Feb 2003 16:45

Maple 01 wrote:How many lives would that have saved? And still would have left Germany better off than it was by 1945
I think Russian at that point don’t agree to any peace plan (in may 1942) only unconditional surrender of German forces. After that all Europe would fall under Russian communist regime and millions more would be executed in communist persecution all over Europe. Terror regime would rule all over the Europe.

Jarkko Hietala
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Post by Jarkko Hietala » 12 Feb 2003 17:04

I vote “Stay on the defensive and await 1943” because I think that point winning against Russia is not possible anymore. I just tried to do my best to keep Russians out from Germany until 1944 after that I would have let allied conquer all Germany by making only slight resistance against their landing in Italy and Normandy. I just make everything I can by not let Germany to fall under communist.

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