What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Jul 2019 20:33

RichardAnderson wrote:To be fair, all "what ifs" are simple exercises in confirmation bias.
"All X's are plagued by confirmation bias."

-A person claiming to fairly analyze X while comically failing to recognize his confirmation bias towards believing that X is fatally undermined by confirmation bias.
-A person showing a failure of self-awareness and failing to engage in meta-cognition.
RichardAnderson wrote:The argument that I see is actually:

In September 1938, someone (someones?) in the German high command (political? military?) conducts a "high-level analysis" (what is that? how do they do it?) and concludes:

in June 1941 we are going to be at war with the Soviet Union and Britain
Just blatant misrepresentation. Nothing about a strategic emphasis on the army requires having a crystal ball.
------------------------------------------------------------

This is where I have a problem.
None of the reflexive naysayers in this thread can say why Germany couldn't have scraped together 1% of its GDP over three years to arm the proposed ATL divisions.
Nor can they say why Germany couldn't have escalated its use of foreign labor earlier, including Polish industrial labor.
Nor can they say why Germany couldn't have made earlier the cuts to domestic consumption it made later.
Nor can they explain why Germany wouldn't have taken those steps if it realized earlier the crisis it saw later.
Nor can they explain how it is historically impossible that Hitler would have listened to the legions of internal voices counseling - prior to when "working towards the Fuehrer" set in - that the USSR was a formidable enemy and would take at least 2 years to beat.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Jul 2019 20:59

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Jul 2019 20:33
Just blatant misrepresentation. Nothing about a strategic emphasis on the army requires having a crystal ball.
Just blatant misrepresentation, nothing about how the "strategic emphasis" (whatever that denotes) WAS on the army. Until FY 39-40, the Heer consumed roughly 72% of the military budget, the Luftwaffe 22%, and the Kriegsmarine the rest. It doesn't require a crystal ball to recognize the argument the Heer should have had an even greater share of the budget is based entirely on hindsight. OTOH, it is fairly easy to postulate what the effect of major reductions to the Luftwaffe budget would have been, given the parlous state of its infrastructure on 1 September 1939.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Jul 2019 23:40

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Jul 2019 20:33
None of the reflexive naysayers in this thread can say why Germany couldn't have scraped together 1% of its GDP over three years to arm the proposed ATL divisions.
Are you that obtuse? Or are your references to Tooze simply for show and you haven't done anything other than skim its Google Books preview? I've sketched out for you the prewar German financial situation as covered by Tooze, Wagenfuhr, Harrison, Ritschl, the USSBS, and others. The vast majority of public expenditures prewar were going directly to the military. Quite a bit of the rest was going to build up industries and infrastructure directly related to the military and wartime mobilization: the Autobahns, the auto industry, the aircraft industry, and so forth. Now yes, those were a much smaller fraction of the GDP, but governments do not direct "GDP" from one thing to another like a fire hose...they use mechanisms like things called "taxation" and "borrowing" through "government bonds". In 1938, 17% of the German NNP was directed at military spending and consumed 80% of public funding, so roughly a 1% increase in NNP means a 5% increase in the allocation of public spending to the military. More taxes and/or reduction in civilian spending. The industrialists, on whom the taxes would disproportionately fall (due to the low individual tax basis in Germany) wouldn't have it in peacetime and as it was, the EXISTING spending nearly crippled the economy in FY 39-40, causing the sharp rollbacks across the board in military spending you call the "bottleneck". So you would be either setting the industrialists directly against the Nazis and/or making the economic situation worse, in effect creating the crisis of summer 1943 much earlier.
Nor can they say why Germany couldn't have escalated its use of foreign labor earlier, including Polish industrial labor.
Because except for the Polish labor, they had no access or coercion they could use to obtain other foreign labor. And they couldn't use Polish industrial labor immediately because they were Nazis and had to adjust their Weltanschauung.
Nor can they say why Germany couldn't have made earlier the cuts to domestic consumption it made later.
Because no other nation did...its not like turning off a tap. Germany was more fully mobilized militarily in terms of public expenditure and NNP than any other major power in 1939 and did not mobilize or reduce its civilian sector much more slowly than any other major country, with the exception of the Soviet Union.
Nor can they explain why Germany wouldn't have taken those steps if it realized earlier the crisis it saw later.
crisis, /ˈkrīsis/ "a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger."

If the time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger does not occur until later, then it is difficult to "realize" it earlier. Germany did "realize" financial crisis...in FY 37-38 and FY 39-40 and took steps to deal with it. The military crisis it faced in late 1942 and the concomitant financial crisis in summer 1943, were more difficult to foresee, especially given that 1938, 1939, 1940, and 1941 saw a succession of political and military victories.
Nor can they explain how it is historically impossible that Hitler would have listened to the legions of internal voices counseling - prior to when "working towards the Fuehrer" set in - that the USSR was a formidable enemy and would take at least 2 years to beat.
What "legions of internal voices" were those? Who were they? Bueller? Bueller?

On the other hand, Allen Millett correctly noted in Calculations: Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II that the all German efforts to bring some form of coherence to the assessment of Germany's strategic position ended with the resignation of Wilhelm Groener (not "Groner" as Paul Lakowski would have it in his botched post) on 13 May 1932, nine months before Hitler became Chancellor and eleven months before he was granted plenary powers by the Reichstag.

Groener correctly noted that the Reichsheer was incapable of its mandated defensive mission and endorsed its expansion to 21 divisions...as a defensive force. It also mattered little whether or not he approved of the building of Schlachtschiff A, B, and C, since they were already allowed by the Versailles Treaty as legitimate replacements (albeit their actual displacements were fudged to stay in treaty). Groener also participated in the 29 November 1939 meeting in Berlin that approved secret government funding for acquiring aircraft and equipment for the nascent air arm the Germans were experimenting with at Lipetsk, but he also agreed with the suggestion by FM Julius Curtius that they not be issued to units, but were kept in reserve, in order that they not directly violate the Versailles Treaty. Later, in 1930 he also approved Hellmuth Felmy's proposal for a 22 Staffeln air force...created between 1933 and 1937. That was about the limit of Groener's strategic vision and input.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Jul 2019 01:30

Note that the budgetary and expenditure figures in the Reich are confusing and contradictory, mostly due to the Nazi financiers diddling with the figures and concealing expenditures. Thus we have two measures of the share of Luftwaffe expenditure

German Military Budget in Billion RM Total/allocated to Luftwaffe (%), utilizing Hooten and Ritschl:

FY
32-33 0.4/?
33-34 0.6/0.076 (12.7%)
34-35 3.9/0.642 (16.5%)
35-36 6.7/1.036 (15.5%)
36-37 10.2/2.225 (21.8%)
37-38 10.8/3.258 (30.2%)
38-39 19.4/6.026 (31.1%)
39-40 11.87/3.942 (33.2%) (to 1 September)

Average of 23%

Or utilizing Hooten (sourcing total expenditures from Stübel and Schweitzer):

33-34 0.76/0.076 (10%)
34-35 1.951/0.642 (32.9%)
35-36 2.77/1.036 (37.4)
36-37 5.82/2.225 (38.2%)
37-38 8.27/3.258 (39.4%)
38-39 17.27/6.026 (34.9)
39-40 11.87/3.942 (33.2%) (to 1 September)

Average of 32.3%

Overall, it appears that Hooten, using older data from Stübel and Schweitzer, overstated the expenditure on the Luftwaffe.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 09 Jul 2019 02:32

RichardAnderson wrote:In 1938, 17% of the German NNP was directed at military spending and consumed 80% of public funding, so roughly a 1% increase in NNP means a 5% increase in the allocation of public spending to the military. More taxes and/or reduction in civilian spending.
Spending increases only during early war years in my ATL.
RichardAnderson wrote:What "legions of internal voices" were those?
Guderian, for one, wrote in "Achtung Panzer!" about the might of SU's military and that Germany faced a more daunting "Eastern Question" than ever before. Only later did he work towards the Fuehrer's conception of an easy campaign. Koestring warned of SU's resilience. Paulus war games, Wagner study. Mannerheim's warnings. There were many, many chances for Hitler to have seen the magnitude of the Russian problem. Had he been surrounded by effective generals - especially a competent Halder - it's entirely feasible he would have listened to their counsel on the true needs of the campaign.

RichardAnderson wrote:Germany was more fully mobilized militarily in terms of public expenditure and NNP than any other major power in 1939 and did not mobilize or reduce its civilian sector much more slowly than any other major country, with the exception of the Soviet Union.
No disagreements with that.
But Germany should have been mobilizing faster than its opponents because only it was attempting to beat the world. Only it faced a constellation of enemies with far greater economic potential.
RichardAnderson wrote:On the other hand, Allen Millett correctly noted in Calculations: Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II that the all German efforts to bring some form of coherence to the assessment of Germany's strategic position ended with the resignation of Wilhelm Groener
No disagreements there either.
You don't like alternative history, so you won't buy any change anyways.
To me I like thinking about what's contingent and random and what's dictated by large structural forces.
Nothing about history dictated that the world's most dangerous person was also a flat-out terrible manager.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Jul 2019 04:06

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
09 Jul 2019 02:32
Spending increases only during early war years in my ATL.
That slippery old timeline again. So your ATL starts in September 1938. What are the "early war years"? 1 September 1939 to 1 September 1941 fits your plural, but seems a bit late to make changes affecting operations 22 June-31 December 1941.
Guderian, for one, wrote in "Achtung Panzer!" about the might of SU's military and that Germany faced a more daunting "Eastern Question" than ever before. Only later did he work towards the Fuehrer's conception of an easy campaign. Koestring warned of SU's resilience. Paulus war games, Wagner study. Mannerheim's warnings. There were many, many chances for Hitler to have seen the magnitude of the Russian problem. Had he been surrounded by effective generals - especially a competent Halder - it's entirely feasible he would have listened to their counsel on the true needs of the campaign.
Gee, how did I ever guess that Heinz would make another appearance? Guderian claimed that he later protested against Barbarossa because of what he viewed as the Soviet strength. Anyway, not sure how an obscure Generalmajor writing in 1937 counts as a "legion" counseling a massive increase in military spending in September 1938? Köstring? Already covered. Paulus, Wagner, and Mannerheim were only "legions" in 1940 and early 1941...how do they effect change in September 1938?
No disagreements with that.
But Germany should have been mobilizing faster than its opponents because only it was attempting to beat the world. Only it faced a constellation of enemies with far greater economic potential.
You raise my expectations and then dash them by immediately going back to the "coulda, woulda, shoulda". How disappointing.
No disagreements there either.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but coulda, woulda, shoulda.
You don't like alternative history, so you won't buy any change anyways.
Actually, I like alternative history quite a bit. However, I like it best when its based on a reasonable point of departure and facts supporting the basic premise, rather than a dependence on re-jiggering events via hindsight. Sorry, but this hasn't been one.
To me I like thinking about what's contingent and random and what's dictated by large structural forces.
Yeah, I get that, but it helps if you support your changes to large structural forces with facts supporting how those could change. Again, sorry, but you haven't done so...coulda, woulda, shoulda does not count.
Nothing about history dictated that the world's most dangerous person was also a flat-out terrible manager.
Have you actually read much about Hitler's character and habits or of how the Nazis operated organizationally? As well as a dangerous person and a flat-out terrible manager, he was also lazy, with a horrible work ethic, loved to surround himself with sycophants and yes-men, and controlled his government through intimidation and by setting different factions against one another. The structural organization in Germany facilitated wishful thinking rather than careful analysis, but you apparently think that they can just suddenly change all that? I'm afraid I don't follow that line of reasoning.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by paulrward » 10 Jul 2019 03:26

Hello All ;

To Mr. TheMarcksPlan :

I have been reading this thread with much interest, and I have always held the view that Operation Barbarossa was, for the Soviets, a ' very near thing'. As we all know, that Germans got within 20 miles of the Kremlin, and even Stalin was forced to ask Zhukov if Zhukov believed that Moscow could be held !

If the Germans had just been a bit luckier, and had made it into the city, driving the Russians out in house to house fighting, it would have been the Soviets who would have had to endure the Russian Winter of 1941-42, the worst in entire 20th century ! In addition, the capture of Moscow means that, 1) the Soviet Government is now forced to try to run the country 'in exile', with all of the organizational and political implications of that situation, and 2) the Germans would now control the rail lines surrounding Moscow, with a resulting massive impact on the Soviet ability to move men, materials, and equipment throughout the Soviet Union, especially from Murmansk to other areas in Russia.

So, a German victory in the middle of November might have been just enough to topple the Soviet Union, or at least make them much less capable of counter attacking in 1942, and a German Army that had spent the winter of 1941-42 huddled in the ruins of Moscow would have been much more capable of attacking and winning it all in early 42. ( this isn't my view alone, I heard this many years ago from a graduate of the Army War College, who had also attended the Command and General Staff College, and who, in a lecture I attended, basically said that whenever the U.S. Army ' wargamed ' the Russian Front, if the Germans take Moscow, it is basically 'game over' for the Russians. )

But here is the problem for the Germans: To be sure of defeating the USSR, they need an army powerful enough to do so. Now, Mr. TheMarcksPlan has shown how it could have been done had the Germans had the foresight to begin planning for Operation Barbarossa in, say, 1938, but unfortunately, the Germans were doing other things. Here are a few time line points :

March 1936 - Occupation of the Rhineland
August, 1936 to January 1939 - Fun and Games in Spain...
March 1938 - Anschluss in Austria
October 1938 - Occupation of the Sudetenland
March 1939 - Occupation of Czechoslovakia, alliance with Hungary
September 1939 - Blitzkrieg in Poland
Winter 1930-40 - Norway , and the SitzKrieg
Spring 1940 - Denmark, the Low Countries, Battle of France
Summer 1940 - Battle of Britain

Each of these utilized the Wehrmacht, but not always just the Heer. And, we must remember, Hitler was starting out in 1933 with NO army, just the skeleton of one allowed by Versaille. So let us examine each one in detail :

The Rhineland - all this took was a 'Show Army', one that could march fast and look powerful to the French. Lots of shiny helmets and bayonets, and some Heinkel 51s roaring overhead.

Spain - here was a problem - real fighting. This took the best aircraft that Germany could build, right off the assembly lines, in some cases, prototypes, along with artillery, flak guns, and the first tanks. And, at no time in Spain was there a Blitzkrieg. There WAS mechanized combined arms warfare, but no vast, fast moving armies. And, Germany had to deploy her new Kriegsmarine to effectively blockade Republican Spain.

Austria - out came the Show Army for another march into a weak country.

The Sudetenland - again, that Show Army, but this time, Hitler had to back it up against the French and British with what looked like the most powerful air force in Europe. Ignore the fact that some of the aircraft are trainers and old crocks with a fresh coat of dunkelgrun and schwartzgrun to make them look fierce. They had to be convincing.

Czechoslovakia and Hungary - the last hurrah of the Show Army. From now on,it gets serious.

Poland - here, with the Condor Legion back from Spain, was the first Blitzkrieg, which lasted for three weeks. Three weeks.....

Norway and SitzKrieg - here Hitler needed his Kreigsmarine for the second time, and if he hadn't had it, there would have been no Norwegian compaign. But note: while it is going on, the Heer in Germany are going no where and doing nothing. Logistics.....

Denmark, Low Countries, France - the second Blitzkrieg, which started in April in Denmark, went through May and June to France. This was a total of about 15 weeks, and left the German army exhausted on the beaches at Dunquerque. Hitler had still won, but for the first time. he should have seen the limits of his army and their logistical and supply limitations.

Battle of Britain - here again we need the Luftwaffe to shine, but this time they don't. Hitler should have learned at this point that even Goering had his limitations, and done something about them.


From the above, we can see that, between 1936 and the spring of 1941, the Germans fought NINE different campaigns and wars, some of which only required a 'Show Army' , while others required a powerful mechanized Heer, some which required an overwhelming strength in the air, and one which required a Navy. In fact, had the Germans been successful in July-August 1940 over southern Britain, Seelowe would have required that Navy again, and stretched it to the limit to get a German army into Britain.

This, in my opinion, is why the idea of a German Heer optimized for Barbarossa is problematic : Quite simply, while the Germans are both building an Army, and Navy, and an Air Force, they are also forced to build the industrial base to build those three forces, and, due to Hitler's expansionist policies, all three Forces were being used at various times and in various ways, none of which are conducive to building up a Barbarossa Heer.

In effect, if the Germans had started to build up a Heer for Barbarossa in 1938, that would have meant that they would not have been able to stomp on Spain, polish off Poland, and then finish off France. In other words, they might have had a Barbarossa Army in June of 1941, but they wouldn't have been in a position to use it.

But this is just my opinion. I would like to hear yours.


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward

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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Lars » 10 Jul 2019 11:29

The easiest way to improve Barbarossa is quite simple. Focus a little more on railroads. This will not take a lot of ressources.

Add more railroad battalions, and dissolve a couple of infantry divisions to this purpose so that the railroad battalions do not need to fight when they meet opposition. The real army men would do that.

Send more railroad battalions east. Yes, this will impair railroad work in Western Europe and in Poland where Hans Frank had his own agenda for railroads that collided with Barbarossa's needs (you know what). But it is a short campaingn, right?

Tell the Heer to capture and not destroy Soviet locomotives. This will make the transfer of supplies at the end of the German railroad heads much easier. The Germans lacked Soviets locomotives sorely in the fall.

All this is done with a minimum of effort. Yes, the Heer will lack a couple of infantry divisions, the railroad works in Western Europe and Poland crawl to stop, and capturing instead of blowing up Soviet locomotives will require a litte more effort from the German infantry.

The payback is huge. A much better supply system overall on the Eastern front from August 1941 and onwards. This tips the Germans into taking Moscow in the fall all else equal.

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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 Jul 2019 07:34

PaulRWard wrote:the capture of Moscow means that, 1) the Soviet Government is now forced to try to run the country 'in exile', with all of the organizational and political implications of that situation, and 2) the Germans would now control the rail lines surrounding Moscow, with a resulting massive impact on the Soviet ability to move men, materials, and equipment throughout the Soviet Union, especially from Murmansk to other areas in Russia.
Re (1) I'm not sure what the practical implications are. It's hardly exile to be giving orders from a Gorkiy/Kuibyshev instead of Moscow.

Re (2) this factor is overrated IMO. The Soviets very rarely moved forces north-south along their front. The biggest example is moving some forces south for Operation Uranus and in response to Mannstein's backhand blow. In most cases the Soviet armies deployed in a spot and then fought there until they bled out. Even if Moscow were lost, there would still be means of moving troops north-south (just a bit longer) and of moving supplies from Murmansk. See this map of Soviet rails in 1941:

Image
paulrward wrote:a German victory in the middle of November might have been just enough to topple the Soviet Union
I assume you mean Germans capture Moscow in 1941. Can they keep it? The Soviet winter offensives drove Germans back quite far; in order to hold Moscow you'd need a change in force ratios or some other factor (morale collapse?) that would prevent Stalin from recapturing the city.

In fact, Germany capturing Moscow in November '41 (say they move nearly all of their panzer divisions to the center to accomplish this) might only have moved the Stalingrad debacle farther north and a year earlier: I don't see Hitler giving up Moscow in the face of a Soviet counterattack; its German defenders may well have been captured/destroyed. Although the LW managed to airlift supplies to the Demyansk pocket that winter we saw later that supplying a much larger force was impossible (and German defenders trapped in Moscow would have been far larger than in Demyansk or even in Stalingrad).

The Soviet leadership was determined to fight on if Moscow fell. It's a big loss but not sufficient to tip the war IMO. ~5% of SU's pre-war population but much of it would have been evacuated.
paulrward wrote:To be sure of defeating the USSR, they need an army powerful enough to do so. Now, Mr. TheMarcksPlan has shown how it could have been done had the Germans had the foresight to begin planning for Operation Barbarossa in, say, 1938, but unfortunately, the Germans were doing other things. Here are a few time line points :

March 1936 - Occupation of the Rhineland
August, 1936 to January 1939 - Fun and Games in Spain...
March 1938 - Anschluss in Austria
October 1938 - Occupation of the Sudetenland
March 1939 - Occupation of Czechoslovakia, alliance with Hungary
September 1939 - Blitzkrieg in Poland
Winter 1930-40 - Norway , and the SitzKrieg
Spring 1940 - Denmark, the Low Countries, Battle of France
Summer 1940 - Battle of Britain
Spain was a proving ground and sideshow; in any event it's before my ATL starts.
I scrap the Battle of Britain - few thought it would work anyway; not starting it would have been a boon for Germany (save planes, pilots, and fuel).
My changes don't impact Norway campaign - Ju-88 wasn't really a factor there and I don't scrap any of the ships involved.
Everything else is land war where greater focus on the army would have helped.
paulrward wrote: the Germans are both building an Army, and Navy, and an Air Force, they are also forced to build the industrial base to build those three forces, and, due to Hitler's expansionist policies,
This was the basic German error. Same as in WW1.
The only campaign in which overwhelming air and sea power would have made a difference is BoB but trying to overwhelm UK that way would have ensured loss on land against SU and maybe even against France.
Germany was a land power. It could only become a great naval/air power once secure in its borders against land attack. The other three great naval powers were island nations or effectively island nations (US didn't have any threatened borders).
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 Jul 2019 07:45

Lars wrote:A much better supply system overall on the Eastern front from August 1941 and onwards. This tips the Germans into taking Moscow in the fall all else equal.
First, I don't see how better rail communications get Germany through Moscow in the fall. Immediately after Taifun, Germany could have taken Moscow if the rain hadn't come (Zhukov was outnumbered nearly 10-1 at point).

Stronger rail supply means a slightly stronger Heer in real power terms but not decisively so: the Battle of Moscow was close geographically but not really as a matter of resources. Between early November and early December the frontline strength of the Red Army doubled (!) from just north of 2mil to ~4.5mil. Stalin was holding back a huge reserve for his big counterattack, a slightly stronger German force would have caused earlier commitment of those reserves. Committing those forces earlier, when their training and unit cohesion was not as good, would have been a less-good outcome for SU. But again not enough to fundamentally change the picture. German infantry battalions were down to 50% strength and suddenly facing entirely new, decently-trained (by '41 standards) formations. And most of the German weapons weren't working in December's cold so it wouldn't have mattered all that much to stockpile more ammunition for guns that are literally frozen stuck.

Similar to my reply to paulrward, even if a slightly stronger force doesn't draw out Soviet reserves earlier and the Germans somehow get to Moscow, they're not likely to hold it over the winter. As I say above, a retreat FROM Moscow rather than a retreat before Moscow could have caused a Stalingrad-style disaster for the Ostheer.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Lars » 11 Jul 2019 08:15

TheMarcksPlan, I suppose you are familiar with Van Creveld's "Supplying War"? I recommend it highly to anyone who has not read it yet. The chapter on Barbarossa makes it clear just how inadequate the German supply system was such as Barbarossa unfolded. Logistics really killed the German advance, that and the Red Army of course. From early fall the supply system was simply awful.

From the diagnosis the Van Creveld makes it is faily easy to improve on the German supply system. The way to do it is through railroads. Better functioning railroads with greater capacity closer to the front, more Soviet rolling stock, more railroad batallions, more signals materiel, etc.

I have studied Barbarossa for 25 years. The most cost-effective way for the German to improve on Barbarossa is really the railroads. There are other ways of course but they are not nearly as cost effective as improving the railroads.
Last edited by Lars on 11 Jul 2019 09:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 Jul 2019 08:46

Lars wrote:I suppose you are familiar with Van Cleveld's "Supplying War"?
It's on my list but I haven't read it.
I totally agree that better logistics could have and should have made things better for the Ostheer. I say in my ATL setup that OKH was basically incompetent in this regard. I've read of countless points at which German forces - especially the Panzer spearheads - lost combat effectiveness for lack of supplies. That said, two objections/questions:

(1) German units were stopped by lack of supplies but I don't often see huge German losses from lack of supplies or huge missed opportunities to capture/annihilate Red soldiers. Guderian's advances during Taifun and Kiev, for example, were often slowed by supply difficulties. Nonetheless Guderian closed the Kiev Kessel and ultimately I don't see him taking Moscow regardless of fuel - too much mud after mid-October and too many Russians once the ground froze. Unless better logistics changes the casualty ratios and ultimately the force ratios, no amount of supply will stop the Red steamroller.
(2) Better rail supply would have, for example, freed German winter clothing from its Polish rail-snag purgatory earlier. Maybe that saves 50k frostbite casualties? Important for the Germans, bad for the Russians, but does it change the war's outcome? I'd ask the same of myriad other issues.

I'm 100% open to being convinced that rail supply could have made the difference but AFAICS it's not quite sufficient for German victory. And of course I would expect a logistics maven, an author selling a book on how logistics is king, to stretch as far as he can to show that rail supply was outcome-determinative. Can you give me a preview of Creveld's evidence-based argument?

One big obstacle to making the rails run better was the soft-substrate Russian system. Do you and Creveld think Germany should have replaced the rail substrates with crushed rock to enable running at European-level speeds instead of crawling along inefficiently over weak Russian railbeds? How much do we think that would have cost and would it have had a feasible timeline? Honestly asking because I don't know but it seems prohibitively expensive and/or would require too much downtime. Maybe for the '42 campaign? Certainly it would have been a good investment had Germany wished to ship all the coal, ore, and oil from Southern SU for its long-term buildup against the West.

One thing that should have been was more buildup of cheaper, slower-running train engines for the Ostheer (assuming you don't replace all the railbeds).
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 Jul 2019 09:46

Allow me to expand the universe of possibilities under the heading of "Slightly Stronger Barbarossa Forces."
My initial treatment specifies 20 extra divisions but honestly if those divisions existed the outcome is clear to me - and sufficiently clear as to be less interesting than I initially thought.
I've also been mulling a smaller initial force delta combined with the already-described strategic conception of Barbarossa as at least a 2-year campaign.

Under this scenario, I believe an extra 8 mechanized divisions would have given Germany a good chance of winning the war. Let me explain:

In Army Group Center, the difference between the successful June-July campaign and a failed campaign is Hoth's Panzergruppe with 7 divisions. Absent these 7 divisions, Guderian's penetrations would have lacked a second pincer to envelop Western Front even had he achieved similar operational depth (doubtful given that some of anti-Hoth RKKA would have faced Guderian). AGC can probably still pinch off the absurdly-positioned forces in the Bialystok salient but after that Western Front probably retreats to Smolensk having lost ~500k fewer prisoners and their equipment. That ATL means likely no Kiev encirclement (Bock barely held his front in August and another 500k Soviets would have at least required Guderian to stick around and help).

With 8 divisions, Rundstedt could have had a second panzer-pincer throughout the Ukraine campaign. 8 divisions are probably insufficient to launch the grand encirclement from Romania that my 20div-ATL involves. And AGS's front is less conducive to a Bialystok/Minsk-type operation than AGC's. But such as an operation isn't necessary, IMO. If, for example, Rundstedt encircles "only" most of 5th and 6th armies in the border battles - with a shallower swipe largely west and southwest of the Pripyat marshes - then he could remove ~1/3 of Kirponos' force by early July. Now fast forward to mid-July and the move from Western Ukraine to the Dniepr. Here's a couple images of that campaign OTL for reference:

Image
Image

As can be seen - as many of you know - AGS broke into operational freedom through Zhitomir around the third week of July and then executed a single envelopment of 6th and 12th armies around Uman, linking up with infantry forces. The encirclement took a very long time to enact and the Soviets probably could have escaped it given a reasonable withdrawal timeline. It bagged "only" ~100k prisoners because the surrounded formations fought their pursuers for a very long time before the ring closed.

If Rundstedt had another Panzergruppe, this stage of the battle would have (1) faced weaker opposition due to border battle encirclement and (2) could have been a quicker, bigger, cleaner double envelopment along the lines of what Bock was doing simultaneously in the center.

Re (2), AGS could thrown its spearheads north and south of Zhitomir instead of through it - say through Korosten and Kazatin. EVERY TIME the Germans used double-enveloping panzer armies in 1941 they succeeded: The RKKA didn't stop a panzer army's penetration until November, C&C was insufficient to recognize the enirclement danger until too late, and Stalin/STAVKA wouldn't permit withdrawals in a timely fashion. It seems obvious to me that AGS would have completed at least a couple Minsk-scale Kessels given another Panzergruppe.

After the Kessels in June/July, additional encirclements would likely have happened in the Dniepr bend, such as a better version of the partially-successful OTL encirclement at Nikolayev. The OTL Germans had only one panzer division - 16th - to cut off the city and from what I've read captured "only" ~60k prisoners (anyone have good sources on this battle? There's decent background in this old thread: viewtopic.php?t=145794)

Critically, AGS would have the means to encircle Kiev without Guderian/Bock's help. And ATL the Kiev Kessel would have likely happened sooner because AGS reaches the Dniepr quicker than OTL.

Some implications for the wider campaign:

With Southwest and Southern Fronts having lost many more men (~500k delta) by August, Stalin is forced to reinforce Ukraine to a much greater extent than OTL (I assume that he would not abandon Kiev in August just as he refused to do so in September). That means Timoshenko has fewer men to launch at Bock during August. Bock is stronger on his eastern front because AGS will be covering his right flank on the Desna as it pushes forward to encircle Kiev during August. Unlike OTL, Bock would have strong mobile forces to counter Timoshenko's attacks on his front. AGC would probably encircle/destroy large portions of Timoshenko's weaker thrusts, resulting either in catastrophic Red losses or a truly quiet central sector during much of August as AGC waits for the rails and supplies before pushing on.

This gives the opportunity for an earlier Taifun. Hitler/OKH would face a strategic dilemma similar to, but better than, the OTL dilemma of late summer: reinforce the drive on Moscow with some of AGS's armor or go for broke in the South, aiming to reach the Don and cross its southern course into the North Caucasus. IMO the southern option is far wiser as it gets you Maikop and Grozny during early '42 and at least shuts off Baku by the end of the year. A Hitler who is thinking in terms of a longer war would almost certainly choose that option, as he did in OTL '42. Leaving Moscow in Russian hands at the end of '41 forces Stalin to concentrate forces there, preventing counterattacks elsewhere and setting up an enormous Kessel for the '42 campaign.

That leaves AGC to execute Taifun without significant armor transfer from its flanks. But it's also facing weaker opposition, as Stalin has to do something to stop AGS in eastern Ukraine or at least before it reaches Stalingrad. Say AGC executes a Vyazma kessel instead of Vyazma-Briansk during late August and early September. It still has time for another Kesselschlacht before Rasputitsa so the Moscow Offensive casualty exchange is about the same. Lacking the "do or die" mission towards Moscow in November, AGC enters secure winter lines outside the city and meets Russian counterattacks from a position of strength.

Around Leningrad it's a similar story: greater losses in the Ukraine and a stronger AGS mean more forces sent south and fewer in the north. A Hitler committed to "Ukraine first, Leningrad second, Moscow third" should let Leeb keep all of Hoepner's Panzergruppe. With a couple more panzer divisions and facing weaker opposition, AGN can probably push through Tikhvin and join the Finns on the Svir, thereby sealing Leningrad. Whether the city lingers deep into the winter or falls quickly, the RKKA loses another ~500k men and the Ostheer frees up a score of divisions for other missions during '42 (taking Archangelsk, for example). Plus it's a morale coup.

In this version of the slightly stronger Barbarossa, Germany captures about a million more Reds in Ukraine and Leningrad during '41. More captured Reds means fewer dead Germans; at a 3-1 bloody casualty ratio that's ~300k fewer German losses.

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Besides the operational implications of the 8 more divisions, the multi-year conceptions builds strategic benefits throughout the Barbarossa period. Germany mobilizes its manpower for war throughout '40-'41 as it did later in the war (as in original ATL sketch but at a slower pace). This would mean more and quicker replacement of losses at the front, having particularly great impact on German rifle strength during the first winter. It would mean timely provision of winter clothing. It could mean further additions of mobile divisions for the '42 campaign; it would at least mean full strength for all these divisions by May 42.

German planners would have responded more urgently to the T-34 threat than they did OTL- proposing to upgun the MkIV in July rather than beginning to study the issue in November. That means many more long-gunned MkIV's in '42 and, more crucially, more heavy Pak for the infantry. Germany doesn't cut artillery ammunition so low in '40-'41 that Ostheer has to radically economize during the winter. More StuG's are present at the beginning of Barbarossa and the supply increases significantly with time (this further cuts Ostheer losses during '41-42). The long war convinces German logistics and railway planners that more train engines will be needed, preventing or ameliorating the transport crisis of the first winter and its effects on the economy (this would have been obvious: supplying 3mil men deep into Russia would be impossible without robbing the economy of rail lift; it wasn't obvious because only a skeletal force was expected to remain in Russia by winter).

ATL May 1942 would see ~500k more Germans at the front and a Red Army with ~million fewer troops. RKKA could not launch a Uranus-like operation against the Ostheer's drive southward because Germany would launch another Moscow battle that summer (and if Stalin abandoned Moscow to defend the Caucasus, the flank of his attack on the Don/Volga flank would be exposed to AGC).

The 42 campaign would see the Germans take Moscow, the Caucasus, and much/most of the Don-Volga Russian heartland. With the Caucasus gone, Russia's resistance would be on borrowed time: either the US/UK find a way to ship millions of tons of oil or Russian agriculture and mobility collapse during 1943.

1943 would be interesting: Russia would still have a large army in the field, but not one capable of pushing back the Germans and it would be on borrowed time. Allies could maybe invade France to save Russia but that's extremely risky: Air supremacy isn't quite established in OTL 43; ATL Germany would have greater fuel and industrial resources at its disposal. Having lost many fewer men than OTL (no Stalingrad, more Russians captured rather than traded ~3-1 in shooting duels), and requiring fewer men to hold its Eastern Front, OKH can counter any Allied move into France with very powerful forces. Churchill had no appetite for a big land showdown with Germany; I doubt Roosevelt could have dragged him into one even had Roosevelt resolved to make the gamble.

Ok that's the revised sketch for now. I think this ATL sees some kind of armistice in the East and Hitler surviving the war. More to say...

The point of this exercise is to say that Germany doesn't really need 20 divisions to win - 8 might have been enough. Getting to 8 divisions is a lot easier than getting to 20, though I continue to believe that 20 was feasible. Mobilization for a multi-year Eastern campaign means Germany's forces get stronger throughout 41 and into 42, rather than entering the 42 campaign much weaker than in 41, only to rebound to maximal strength in 43 when it was way too late.
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Jul 2019 17:17

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
11 Jul 2019 08:46
(1) German units were stopped by lack of supplies but I don't often see huge German losses from lack of supplies or huge missed opportunities to capture/annihilate Red soldiers. Guderian's advances during Taifun and Kiev, for example, were often slowed by supply difficulties. Nonetheless Guderian closed the Kiev Kessel and ultimately I don't see him taking Moscow regardless of fuel - too much mud after mid-October and too many Russians once the ground froze. Unless better logistics changes the casualty ratios and ultimately the force ratios, no amount of supply will stop the Red steamroller.
Guderian again. Okay, let's see.

During the month of September 1941, leading up to TAIFUN, in the encirclement battles around Kiev, Panzergruppe 2 suffered some 60,599 combat losses from a strength of 187,635 on top of 24,870 losses since 22 June. It had received and distributed about 18,000 replacements, another 15,000 had arrived, and 20,000 more were in route.

At the beginning of October, the now Panzerarmee 2 reported a strength of 202,446. Unfortunately, losses for October are fragmentary, but in the first week it lost 2,950 and at least 4,923 for the month. Unfortunately, while losses in October were apparently lower, the supply of replacements was drying up. "Since significant replacement is unlikely in the foreseeable future, the moment will come when troop units, as a result of the considerable deficit, the strength of the command and supply elements is out of all proportion to the strength of units. In order to deal with this situation, divisions are to dissolve battalions and companies, using the freed-up officers to fill Fehlstellen in the remaining units and transferring any excess personnel to the Führerreserve of the Divisions. They are to report to OKH if such measures do not suffice to maintain a reasonable balance within the units." (RH19-II/123-56. HG Mitte 1786/41, 3.10.41)

By 30 November, Halder noted that the infantry Fehlstellen in the Ostheer had reached 340,000, 50% of its combat strength. In Panzeramree 2, strength was 182,321, while losses during the month were recorded as only 6,467 during the month, but by that time it was fought out.
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Lars
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Re: What if: Hitler wins the war due to slightly stronger Barbarossa forces

Post by Lars » 11 Jul 2019 17:51

TheMarcksPlan, I totally agree on not putting too much faith in logistics. If you only listen to the logisticians nothing can be done.

I am on vacation right now and I'll look up Creveld when I get home. One of the key elements was that as the German railheads kept falling further and further behind the front the trucks had to travel longer and longer from railhead to front. As the Russian roads were often not more than dirt road this created two problems. First the attrition of the trucks shot up and because of the mud gasoline consumption rose 3 fold per kilometer which in itself meant that gasoline had to be transported instead of ammo etc.

Anyway, I believe that my suggestions would result in an off the cuff guesstimate of about 25 % faster railroad building during Barbarossa. I will try to mentally game that out when I get home.

Keep up the good work, Lars.

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