If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

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Steve
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 21 Jun 2021 14:04

“That the 12 beers Bob drank would endanger his drive home was not anticipated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing." Unless Bob could not count and did not know the beer was alcoholic he would surely have known the effect all that beer would have. He must have been a moron not to know that twelve beers would endanger his drive home.

“if the Soviets had unknown reserves that could replace their losses, Barbarossa would fail and Germany would lose the war .” Let us suppose that when the allies invaded Normandy they found out that the German forces in Normandy were twice as large as anticipated and the invasion failed. Would people now be saying that to have invaded was stupid and they should have known that a sea borne invasion could never have succeeded? People usually base their actions on the information available to them.

“The Nazis could not quickly overrun the Soviet Union like they could with France;” They did not need to overrun the Soviet Union to let us say the A-A line they needed to destroy the Soviet Union’s armed forces. With their armed forces smashed the fruit from the Soviet tree would fall into Hitler’s hands.

Percy Ernst Shramm kept the official diary of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. He wrote that preparations for an attack on Greece were made in case the English landed in Greece and they became necessary. Because of the Yugoslavia coup and the decision to invade Greece the attack on Russia was delayed by four to five weeks. I believe the weather was also a factor in the delay but Shramm makes no mention of weather.

With no coup Yugoslavia would perhaps have been in a similar position to Bulgaria. With no British intervention in Greece it may have been spared a German occupation or maybe only the northern part would have occupied as with France. If Barbarossa had started a few weeks earlier the Germans would probably have entered Moscow but could they have held it? Barbarossa had to succeed in 1941 in order to avoid the two front war that Hitler was worried about. The huge Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed in five months and apparently Barbarossa was a success.That it did not succeed was because the Germans did not know that which was unknown to them not because they knew it and did not plan for it.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 21 Jun 2021 18:24

Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
“That the 12 beers Bob drank would endanger his drive home was not anticipated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing." Unless Bob could not count and did not know the beer was alcoholic he would surely have known the effect all that beer would have. He must have been a moron not to know that twelve beers would endanger his drive home.

“if the Soviets had unknown reserves that could replace their losses, Barbarossa would fail and Germany would lose the war .” Let us suppose that when the allies invaded Normandy they found out that the German forces in Normandy were twice as large as anticipated and the invasion failed. Would people now be saying that to have invaded was stupid and they should have known that a sea borne invasion could never have succeeded? People usually base their actions on the information available to them.

“The Nazis could not quickly overrun the Soviet Union like they could with France;” They did not need to overrun the Soviet Union to let us say the A-A line they needed to destroy the Soviet Union’s armed forces. With their armed forces smashed the fruit from the Soviet tree would fall into Hitler’s hands.

Percy Ernst Shramm kept the official diary of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. He wrote that preparations for an attack on Greece were made in case the English landed in Greece and they became necessary. Because of the Yugoslavia coup and the decision to invade Greece the attack on Russia was delayed by four to five weeks. I believe the weather was also a factor in the delay but Shramm makes no mention of weather.

With no coup Yugoslavia would perhaps have been in a similar position to Bulgaria. With no British intervention in Greece it may have been spared a German occupation or maybe only the northern part would have occupied as with France. If Barbarossa had started a few weeks earlier the Germans would probably have entered Moscow but could they have held it? Barbarossa had to succeed in 1941 in order to avoid the two front war that Hitler was worried about. The huge Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed in five months and apparently Barbarossa was a success.That it did not succeed was because the Germans did not know that which was unknown to them not because they knew it and did not plan for it.
The difference between Overlord and Barbarossa was that the Germans needed to win ( in a short campaign at the border ) and that they thus said : we will win ,because we must win .
The Allies OTOH could afford a failure of Overlord and they did not have to win in a short campaign in Normandy .
And, Barbarossa would still fail if it had started a few weeks earlier ,because Barbarossa had failed before the Autumn .
Last point : Germany could only have captured Moscow if the USSR had collapsed before the fall of Moscow . Moscow was not decisive .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by historygeek2021 » 21 Jun 2021 19:15

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Jun 2021 00:11
historygeek2021 wrote:The German forces directly opposing the Mataxas Line made little progress during this time. The main problem for Germany is that a slow advance through the Metaxas Line gives the Greeks and British time to realign their other forces
Per the official US Army campaign history, ~8 German divs participated in the initial into Greece (inc. through Yugoslavia), of which only 3 directly assaulted the Metaxas line.

In addition PzGr1 stepped off into Yugoslavia on these forces' right flank; ATL they'd go into Greece if needed. Kleist had 5 divs (inc. 2pz, 1mot).

So ATL the Metaxas line has to check up to 13 divisions instead of three, ~600 tanks instead of none. LW also focuses here instead of Yugoslavia.

US Army summary:
The frontal attack on the Metaxas Line, undertaken by one German infantry and two reinforced mountain divisions of the XVIII Mountain Corps, met with extremely tough resistance from the Greek defenders. After a three-day struggle, during which the Germans massed artillery and dive bombers, the Metaxas Line was finally penetrated.
Might you be reading continued resistance along the Metaxas Line, after its penetration, as the line having held for longer? Per US Army:
Some of the fortresses of the line held out for days after the German attack divisions had bypassed them and could not be reduced until heavy guns were brought up.
...this is analogous to the fortress at Brest-Litovsk holding out for days in Barbarossa but having no impact on AGC's ability to overrun Belarus and destroy Western Front.

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

The Greeks fought valiantly - even Hitler said so publicly - but a poorly-equipped and outnumbered force had no chance against the world's strongest army; three days is three days.
According to your link, the penetrations of the Metaxas Line were of a local nature and not as deep as the 2nd Panzer division's drive through Yugoslavia to Thessalonika. The Greek forces on the Metaxas Line surrendered shortly after Thessalonika was taken by 2nd Panzer in the OTL. Although the 2nd Panzer had to cross mountainous terrain, the terrain was worse to the west along the Metaxas Line:
Invasion of Greece 1940.png
Without being completely cut off by 2nd Panzer as they were in the OTL, it's likely the Greek forces in the eastern portion of the country would have fought longer and had the opportunity to fall back toward the center of the country, delaying the Germans and giving more time for Greek forces in Albania to fall back and form a new defensive line. Maybe it would only amount to a few days. Since 2nd Panzer and 5th Panzer and the 12th Army did not participate in the opening phase of Barbarossa in the OTL, even a delay of several weeks caused by this ATL probably wouldn't push back the start date for Barbarossa beyond June 22.

So, the ATL is probably inconsequential other than leaving a pro-Allied/pro-Soviet country in Germany's rear and forcing Germany to export additional machine tools to Yugoslavia in return for raw materials instead of simply plundering them.
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jun 2021 04:26

historygeek2021 wrote:So, the ATL is probably inconsequential
agreed
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jun 2021 10:07

IMO a more consequential and perhaps feasible ATL would be:

Stalin reacts to Yugoslavia's nascent Tripartite Pact accession by using his intel services to tamp down, rather than implicitly encourage, anti-Pact factions within Yugoslavia. There's no coup in Spring '41 but on June 22 the Serbian nationalists are still around, have been working with Soviet intel for the contingency of German attack. Shortly after Barbarossa steps off, Stalin sets off the coup bomb in Ostheer's rear.

Maybe Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy can cope - plus a few German divisions occupying Yugoslavia OTL?
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by xristar » 22 Jun 2021 10:54

The battle for the Metaxas line was ongoing when the 2nd PzD flanked it and forced the total surrender of Greek forces north and east of Salonika. At the time the 6th and 5th GJ divisions had penetrated the Greek line west of Strymon river and were pushing south into Krousia mountains against rather weak Greek forces. East of Strymon the 125th regiment and the 72nd ID had been repulsed*. Further east the 50th and 162nd ID had captured Thrace and the 50th ID had made a first failed attempt to cross Nestos against the defending Nestos brigade.
Without the 2nd PzD advancing through Yugoslavia the weight of the effort would have to fall on the two Gebirgsjaeger divisions and the 50th infantry division. The two GJD were definitely capable of pushing the Greek forces in front of them further south but they had no good communications line behind them and is possible that marching into a wooded hilly area they couldn't achieve an operationally decisive result. The two infantry divisions in Thrace on the other hand, if they managed to cross Nestos against Greek resistance had the ability to roll up the Greek forces from behind, although they still would have to face a mountainous area and the fortified area of Kavala.
The problem for the Greek forces manning the Metaxas line as they were deployed historically is that they lack any meaningful reserves and their ammunition stock was limited. Thus regardless of any tactical successes they would eventually crumble after a few more days of fighting.
Having said that the nature of the German campaign would also change compared to the historical events. In the real event the the Germans attacked the Greco-British forces with two main prongs, one following the fall of Salonika towards Olympus based on the 2nd Pz Div and the 6th Gebirgsjaeger Div and the other coming down from Yugoslavia along the Monastir (Bitola)-Florina-Kozani-Servia axis, based on LSSAH, the 9th PzD and the 5th PzD. With Yugoslavia strictly neutral this second axis is removed from the campaign and the weight of the German attack is based solely on the coastal axis. Although historically the Germans were able to defeat the British there, in this alternative scenario the lack of the second prong allows the British to concentrate most of their forces around Olympus thus substantially increasing their ability to resist.

*the map above and the account found in the American history are inaccurate as the regiment pushed somewhat deeply in Greek lines by the 72nd division got cut off, exhausted its ammunition, and had to withdraw losing in the process a few hundred men as prisoners. These were held only for some hours before being released due to the Greek surrender.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jun 2021 11:20

xristar wrote:Without the 2nd PzD advancing through Yugoslavia the weight of the effort would have to fall on the two Gebirgsjaeger divisions and the 50th infantry division.
...assuming 2PD, XL PzKorps, and PzGr1 sit around in Bulgaria or Bavaria.

IMO too much is inferred from the flanking movement - that it was necessary to victory rather than expedient. German Army would always take a flank if you gave it one (really any army besides maybe RKKA would).
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 22 Jun 2021 14:25

The British intervention in Greece pushed Hitler into attacking but luckily for the Greeks Athens was not bombed as Warsaw London and Belgrade were. The Germans had expected the Balkan campaign to take longer than it did and Hitler was apparently surprised it was so short. In early 1941 the British thought Hitler would move through Turkey into the Middle East. Did they ferment the coup in Yugoslavia and intervene in Greece so as to delay a German move into the Middle East?

Moscow was not initially a main objective for Barbarossa it was to be taken after Leningrad was taken. At a meeting on March 17 Hitler said he was completely indifferent about Moscow or depending on the translation it was completely immaterial. To cut a long story short Hitler on September 6 issued Directive 35 for the capture of Moscow. By early October the Red Army in European Russia had been pulverised Leningrad was besieged, Kiev taken and Moscow was threatened. More than three million were prisoners and somewhere around two million (figures differ) were dead or wounded. If that does not count as success what does?

Admittedly things started to go wrong shortly afterwards. As Barbarossa progressed it became evident that huge Soviet reserves which no one knew about had not been taken into account. The old crystal ball method was clearly overlooked. John Ellis in his book Brute Force says that between June and December 1941 3,241,000 were inducted into the Soviet forces. Numbers on this scale was the reason Barbarossa failed not the Balkan campaign.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 22 Jun 2021 20:50

It was 5,3 million between 22 June and 30 June and 3,2 million between July and December .
Weisung 35 was not about the capture of Moscow but about an advance in the direction of Moscow .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Steve » 23 Jun 2021 02:25

“It was 5,3 million between 22 June and 30 June and 3,2 million between July and December .
Weisung 35 was not about the capture of Moscow but about an advance in the direction of Moscow”

Not sure what the figure of 5.3 million refers to, clearly it was not possible to form fighting units numbering 5.3 million in eight days. Would this perhaps be the number of men who received call up papers? Ellis used the term inducted (I don’t have his book to hand) for the 3,241,000 so presumably meant actually in military units. Glantz in his 2003 book Before Stalingrad gave Red Army strength as 5,373,000 on June 22 and an estimated 8m on December 31. He estimated the Red Army had lost more than 4m by December 31 which means about 7m were inducted between June 22 and December 31. Richard Overy in his book Russia’s War says that Soviet losses were 6m taken prisoner or killed between June and December. I don’t have a clue who is right.

In a conversation with Goebbels on September 23 Hitler said the operation to surround the city (Moscow) should be completed by October 15. From this it would seem that the idea was to avoid street fighting in Moscow and instead starve it into surrender.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 23 Jun 2021 06:05

Given that even after the coup Yugoslavia did not withdraw from the Tripartite Pact, did Hitler over react?

What was Monarchist Yugoslavia's likely reaction be to a German attack on the USSR, which it was not obliged to join?

Given that the Germans already had a presence in Bulgaria, did they need to pass through Yugoslavia to overwhelm Greece, the Metaxas Line notwithstanding?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by xristar » 23 Jun 2021 07:05

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Jun 2021 06:05
Given that the Germans already had a presence in Bulgaria, did they need to pass through Yugoslavia to overwhelm Greece, the Metaxas Line notwithstanding?

Cheers,

Sid.
I am of the opinion that they would still overwhelm Greece but it would be a longer, more infantry-heavy fight. Without the option of passing through Yugoslavia they would need to open the way through the Greek-Bulgarian border at Rupel (the main road and railroad connection between Greece and Bulgaria), pass all their forces through this pass and then gather them in Central Macedonia for a new offensive against W-Force, now better dug-in than historically (-historically W-Force was forced to hastily realign to face north instead of east). The Germans have at hand plenty of infantry (eg 5 and 6th mountain divsions, 72, 73, 50, 162 infantry divisions etc) and at least two Panzer Divisions (2nd and 9th) to eventually overwhelm W-Force but instead of entering Athens on the 27th of April this would take place later, in mid May probably. This could affect the outcome of the battle for Crete but probably would have no inpact on Barbarossa.

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by ljadw » 23 Jun 2021 07:49

Steve wrote:
23 Jun 2021 02:25
“It was 5,3 million between 22 June and 30 June and 3,2 million between July and December .
Weisung 35 was not about the capture of Moscow but about an advance in the direction of Moscow”

Not sure what the figure of 5.3 million refers to, clearly it was not possible to form fighting units numbering 5.3 million in eight days. Would this perhaps be the number of men who received call up papers? Ellis used the term inducted (I don’t have his book to hand) for the 3,241,000 so presumably meant actually in military units. Glantz in his 2003 book Before Stalingrad gave Red Army strength as 5,373,000 on June 22 and an estimated 8m on December 31. He estimated the Red Army had lost more than 4m by December 31 which means about 7m were inducted between June 22 and December 31. Richard Overy in his book Russia’s War says that Soviet losses were 6m taken prisoner or killed between June and December. I don’t have a clue who is right.

In a conversation with Goebbels on September 23 Hitler said the operation to surround the city (Moscow) should be completed by October 15. From this it would seem that the idea was to avoid street fighting in Moscow and instead starve it into surrender.
If the corrected German claims about Soviet POWs in 1941 were right ( 3,367,206 ) ,than we may assume that the figures from Glantz (4 million + for total losses ) are an underestimation .

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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by Peter89 » 23 Jun 2021 10:06

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Jun 2021 06:05

Given that the Germans already had a presence in Bulgaria, did they need to pass through Yugoslavia to overwhelm Greece, the Metaxas Line notwithstanding?

Cheers,

Sid.
Hello Sid,

they didn't need to pass through Yugoslavia. The Metaxas Line fell in days, and was broken through at many points in hours. The staging ground for the key units, the 6th GJD, 5th GJD, 72nd ID and the IR 125 was in Bulgaria. 6th GJD, standing near the Yugoslav-Bulgarian border, crossed the mountains without much of a fight. The 5th GJD, although with some losses, took a foothold on the Istibel in 6 hours and made the Greek defenders surrender by April 7. 0930. The 72nd ID also crossed the mountains and successfully formed the eastern pincer.
The frontal attack of the IR 125 went the worst initially, but it didn't really matter because they broke through on April 9. Only a few strongpoints fought on. The 2nd PzD (the only unit of the XVIII. Mountain Corps that made a detour in Yugoslavia) reached Thessaloniki on the same day, but by that time, the whole Metaxas Line was shattered.

The drive from Yugoslavia only hastened defeat and helped in the defeat of the Epirus Army. And by hastening I think we are not talking about more than days.
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Re: If there's no Yugoslav coup in early 1941, does Operation Barbarossa succeed?

Post by EKB » 23 Jun 2021 10:49

Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
Barbarossa had to succeed in 1941 in order to avoid the two front war that Hitler was worried about.

A conspiracy theorist like Hitler was committed to expanding the war to other fronts. For him, the enemy appeared to be everywhere. He dismissed all hazards of fighting another major economic power when he declared war on the United States, which in his mind, was part of Jewish-controlled cabal that included the Soviet Union.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
The huge Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed in five months and apparently Barbarossa was a success.That it did not succeed was because the Germans did not know that which was unknown to them not because they knew it and did not plan for it.

The Nazis planned to fail by placing amateurs in key positions of government.

Hermann Göring was put in charge of the economic Four Year Plan, despite being a non-expert, violent drug addict. As Minister of Aviation, he ran the Luftwaffe into the ground, both literally and figuratively. Göring was a bloated, walking billboard for hypocrisy in the Nazi party.

Albert Speer, Minister for Armaments and War Production, was an architect with no military service or knowledge of the arms industry. Lutz von Krosigk, Minister of Finance and a Rhodes Scholar, had no business background in banking but he did study law, which he violated frequently.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s widely despised Minister of Foreign Affairs, had been a traveling wine salesman. Alfred Rosenberg, Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories, was another architect who gained currency as a leading culture commando. That appears to be his only credential for the job, although to his embarrassment, the purity of his German ancestry was questioned more than once.

Hitler’s bona fides to lead a nation at war was his experience as a lowly soldier in the World War I trenches. If the Nazis had used a merit-based system to make promotions and decisions, they would not be Nazis.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
With their armed forces smashed the fruit from the Soviet tree would fall into Hitler’s hands.

During the previous war Germany negotiated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Bolsheviks, after major defeats were inflicted on Russia. That type of diplomatic compromise was unthinkable to Hitler in 1941. His plan for Eastern Europe was founded on waging a war of ideology. Practically all choices were driven by this overriding obsession with racial divides. Hitler did not seriously consider other alternatives.


Steve wrote:
21 Jun 2021 14:04
People usually base their actions on the information available to them.

Not if those people were high-ranking officials from Nazi Germany. This counterfactual is like many others on this board; with a fundamental misunderstanding of Nazism on display.

We are never told which of the Nazi leaders could somehow bloom into a sage that implemented policy based on sound advice. The Third Reich and its war economy was like a building with no framework. Like a pie with hard crust, but soft on the inside.

I don’t understand the purpose of these myopic, repetitive discussions that focus only on possible military decisions, as if that can be divorced from political culture and ideology. It might be more plausible to guess how Second Reich officials, not so hidebound by ideology, might deal with problems that were hopelessly botched by Hitler and his cabinet ministers.

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