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

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Aug 2019 10:15

Preliminary: This ATL is a modification of the ATL I posted in May. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=242003.
The primary difference is a much smaller initial force delta: The Heer has 5 additional panzer divisions and motorizes 5 standard infantry divisions. Total manpower delta should be ~85,000 (panzer divisions plus a non-divisional slice).

The point of this modification from my last ATL is to demonstrate that Germany was much closer to having sufficient forces to beat the SU; adding not quite 100,000 men instead of 400,000 makes that point better.

Others are invited, as always, to suggest their own minimal conditions for a successful Barbarossa.

High-level description of ATL

This ATL argues that Germany's war with the Soviet Union was the hinge of WW2 and that Germany was much closer to winning in that theater than commonly supposed. Clarification: My metric for "closer to winning" is not the OTL outcomes in either 1941 or 45. I believe Germany was doomed by June 22, 1941 at the latest and that none of the controversial strategic/operational decisions (Moscow/Kiev, Stalingard/Blau options, Kursk) could have influenced the outcome. Rather, this ATL argues that (1) better German strategy combined with (2) slightly stronger initial forces could have won the war in the East, and thereby (most likely but with less confidence) could have won the overall war.

[I will also clarify that what I see as Hitler's opportunity for victory came not because of the strength and superiority of the German Nation, but because of diplomatic/strategic choices by the eventual Allied coalition that allowed Hitler the opportunity to pick off his enemies piecemeal instead of facing an insuperable coalition earlier. Hitler simply blew his opportunity by assuming the SU would be a cakewalk. The eventual Allied coalition could have - should have - nipped Hitler's insanity in the bud long before the well-known horrors. That's all I'll say about the pre-war coalition topic in this thread; it's discussed at length elsewhere.]

In June 1941 the Germans caught the SU in the midst of transformation from peasant backwater to superpower. The fundamental demographic and economic signs existed to alert Hitler to this Eastern danger; arguably he recognized this danger but only too late (and too irresolutely). Nonetheless, the Germans nearly succeeded at foreclosing the SU's transformation. What the Germans needed to do is conceptually simple: Kill/capture/wound Soviet soldiers and caputre territory fast enough to foreclose Stalin's creation of an army strong enough to beat Hitler's. This was not beyond Germany's capacity in 1941, had it played its cards right.

Hitler had the right general strategic conception for the initial stages of his war on the SU: destroy its armies in quick encirclement battles and prioritize capturing key industrial and agricultural resources. Hitler was, however, a weak (and lazy, petty, impulsive, etc.) leader who lacked the ability to impose his strategic vision on close associates (he was better on camera/radio at addressing masses). As a result, army leadership entered Barbarossa with a strategic conception divorced from the Fuehrer's: Halder and crew envisioned a quick drive to Moscow as settling the matter. This partially - not entirely - explains Barbarossa's failure: The Heer supposed itself political experts and focused on a political objective (capture of Moscow and supposedly attendant Soviet state collapse) rather than putting its head down to the job of destroying opposing armies and letting state leadership determine the political goals. Again, Hitler's personal weakness bears much blame for this state of affairs.

In addition to the wrong target (Moscow vs. armies/economies), however, Barbarossa was doomed by the ridiculous assumption of a quick campaign followed by, if necessary, a "railway advance."

Summary of changes to OTL

Additional forces because The opening weeks of Barbarossa were a failure and a strategic disaster for Germany. This opinion contravenes Hitler and Halder as well as most historians but it's obvious based on Hitler's strategic goals (Fuehrer Directive #21: "The bulk of the Russian Army stationed in Western Russia will be destroyed by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armoured spearheads. Russian forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the depths of Russia."). Regardless of Army Group Center's success, 90% of the SU's pre-war army was intact after the border battles. Per Army Group North's own estimates, Leeb had inflicted only 36,000 killed/captured by August 6, 1941, despite conquering most of the Baltics. Army Group South failed to execute any large-scale encirclements until Uman in August - and even then bagged only ~100,000 Red soldiers (~3% of RKKA frontline strength). The surviving pre-war formations exacted a heavy toll on the Ostheer throughout the summer/fall and most of its leadership cadre was in Germany in 1945.

What could have changed this picture of failure? It's instructive to look at the one successful portion of Barbarossa's first stages and consider a modification inverse to that proposed by my ATL: AGC's operations minus Hoth's 7 divisions. Remove from AGC only the 7 mobile divisions of Hoth's Panzergruppe and the Kesselschlachten of Minsk/Bialystok and Smolensk are impossible. In that ATL, AGC faces ~700k more Red soldiers outside Smolensk (if it gets that far). Whereas OTL AGC barely held its front against August counterattacks, an AGC facing 700k more men is in serious trouble. There's no Kiev encirclement, no Vyazma-Bryansk, and Barbarossa barely reaches Russia proper.

I hope it's obvious that removing one panzer group from Army Group Center massively degrades Barbarossa. Same but opposite with adding one panzer group to Army Group South: So equipped, AGS could have executed a double envelopment of Southwest Front (from Romania and Poland) during the border battles, removing 3 armies and ~600k soldiers from the map. AGS would be able thereafter to execute additional large-scale encirclements without assistance from Army Group Center. Dramatic effects cascade from this simple early modification to the Barbarossa operational plan; this thread will explore them below.

The additional forces are as follows:
  • 5 standard infantry divisions converted to motorized infantry divisions. 3 come from the June 22, 1941 OKH/AGN reserve, 2 come from the west (Norway/France/Balkans).
  • 5 additional panzer divisions created. Ration strength of these divisions is ~68,000; with non-divisional "slice" included it's ~85-90,000 additional Heer personnel.
  • up to 2 additional infantry divisions moved from West to support AGS in Romania.
Strategic planning for a more challenging two-year campaign against the SU

Besides an additional panzer group, the ATL specifies strategic planning for a two-year campaign towards approximately the A-A line. This strategic conception conception implies long-term planning for logistical issues attendant to supplying 3 million men far from the Reich, a consideration that was ignored based on the assumption of a quick campaign. As a result, the Eisenbahntruppen have additional equipment for signals, communications, and other railway infrastructure. The Reichsbahn as a whole is stronger than OTL. Better strategic planning also implies progressive mobilization of manpower and economic resources throughout the campaign as opposed to de-prioritizing army programs shortly after Barbarossa's launch. The takeaway is that while the Ostheer is only slightly stronger than OTL in June 1941, it's ~30% stronger, better-equipped, and better-supplied in ATL May 1942 than OTL.

Strategic coherence from 1938

The ATL assumes a slightly-more-strategically-coherent Hitler. OTL Hitler expressed, at times, serious anxieties about Barbarossa and it's disputable whether the famous "kick in the door" quote is genuine. It's not too far a stretch, IMO, for Hitler to have received better information about the SU's strength and to have better prepared for the campaign. The idea that Hitler planned only short wars is a giant myth: Once WW2 started, he was prepared for a very long war. He just miscalculated on the Russian portion of that war. I also have to posit a Hitler who can impose his vision on close associates. If anything in history is contingent it's the weaknesses of individual leaders; we probably got lucky that Hitler was a weak, lazy leader and often incoherent.

That strategic posture is as follows:

Germany is a continental power surrounded by enemies who can only be defeated, if at all, by maximal concentration on the Heer. Germany cannot hope to challenge the UK, let alone the US, at sea and defeat it via air power until and unless its continental enemies have been subdued. To marshal the resources necessary for dominant strategic air and naval power before subduing both France and the USSR would invite defeat by either or both land powers. Given the fundamentals of the USSR - millions of men and the third largest industrial base in the world - Stalin is the foremost threat facing Germany. Accordingly, Germany must focus on its army and build only those air and naval forces necessary to defend the Reich and interfere in the Atlantic.

Path to the additional forces

This will be probably the most controversial part of the ATL. To discuss this topic properly, I've realized that I have to explicitly address fundamental questions about the German war economy. What follows is a long but necessary discussion of the issues, though even this discussion will remain above the weeds.

Even today, historians disagree about the basics of the German war economy prior to ~1942. Was it an under-mobilized and "peace-like" (USSBS view)? Inefficient and under-mobilized (Speer et. al.)? Was it mainly constrained by structural flaws related to the Wehrmacht procurement system and German industrial culture (part of Richard Overy's view)? Was it straining to maximum degree even in the early war years while its later production increases came mainly from ruthless exploitation? (arguably Tooze's view, though it's complicated). I'll address some of the leading arguments about the early-war economy to show that, even on their own terms, revisionist historians like Tooze and Overy do not say and cannot say that Germany was incapable of producing additional armaments at the level envisioned by my ATL, which have a production cost of ~1% of German GDP.

Summary of my take:
The early-war German economy had some slack but not to the extent supposed by the USSBS authors, which last century's historians largely accepted. The economy was inefficient and needed rationalization but not to the extent claimed by Speer in post-war memoirs that sought to glorify his own achievements. Tooze and Overy provide compelling and needed revisions to the USSBS's simplistic narrative of under-mobilization and to Speer's self-serving narrative of later rationalization, but neither author rebuts - nor actually claims to rebut - that Germany could have built more military forces in '39-'41.

Let's take Tooze's Wages of Destruction first. The best parts of his book relate to German rearmament programs 1933-1939. I'm concerned with only the tail end of this period. Tooze argues - rightly IMO - that Germany's pre-war economy had strained to its maximum extent towards rearmament, a fact reflected in the balance of payments crisis of early 1939 that forced cuts to many planned Wehrmacht programs (I'll have much, much more to say about how those cuts were made later). To rebut claims of an inefficient early-war economy, Tooze seeks to explain the statistical drop in German armaments labor productivity during 1941, which is reflected in this chart from Overy:

Image

That productivity decline, says Tooze, is "in large part a statistical illusion." Pg. 667. Hold that quote for now. Regarding Speer and his supposed "Armaments Miracle," Tooze very convincingly argued that Speer lied repeatedly both to avoid the gallows and to glorify his role in the war. Tooze's argument, however, should not be construed as rebutting an argument that Germany could have produced more earlier. Here's his conclusion regarding Speer and Germany's post-42 production increases:
"A cold-eyed examination of the statistics suggests that the increases achieved after February 1942 were far less exceptional than is commonly believed. The sudden upsurge in German armaments production was far from miraculous. It was due to perfectly natural causes: reorganization and rationalization efforts begun long before Speer acceded to power; the ruthless mobilization of factors of production; the coming on stream of investments made earlier in the war; and a deliberate sacrifice of quality for an immediate increase in quantity. Tooze, Adam. The Wages of Destruction (p. 556).
Note what is NOT in Tooze's argument: There's no discussion of whether Germany could have mobilized ("ruthlessly") more inputs during the early war years nor a contention that rationalization did not play a role in later production increases. Tooze does not consider alternate history. Rather, Tooze's bone is picked with Speer and his post-war narrative.

The true giant of this field is Richard Overy, whose name appears 131 times in Wages of Destruction. Overy's is the original [AFAIK] and most prominent revision of the simplistic USSBS narrative that Germany's pre-war economy was dramatically under-mobilized. Overy instead focuses on the inefficiency of the German economy, stating, "If rationalization might have achieved more under different political and military conditions, there can be little doubt that it was the chief factor responsible for transforming Germany's war economic performance from 1942 onwards." As an example he cites tank production as particularly inefficient, noting that man-hours required for a PzIII dropped 50% after rationalization steps (War and Economy in the Third Reich, p.374).

Besides Tooze and Overy, recent scholarship has also emphasized an "investment boom" in early-war Germany. https://economics.yale.edu/sites/defaul ... 060329.pdf
While an important contribution, the investment boom elucidated in this paper doesn't fundamentally shift the picture of economic mobilization: the delta between the author's "hidden" investments and previous estimates is less than 1% of German GDP. What's most salient from that paper is that it's another nail in the coffin of the "Blitzkrieg economy" narrative. Germany's investment patterns in early war years evidence long-term planning for a long-term war. Barbarossa was the only instance of Germany actually planning a short war, despite the hype about blitzkrieg as a global strategy.

Between Tooze and Overy I see an argument whose resolution accommodates my ATL's requirement for stronger initial Barbarossa forces and a much stronger '42 Ostheer: Both Overy and Tooze see rationalization as part of the German production increases. Tooze, however, refines Overy's picture by describing the intensive mobilization of (mostly foreign and forced) labor as contributing to production increases from 1942 onwards, whereas Overy places less emphasis on this factor. Either way, whether through earlier rationalization or earlier ruthless mobilization, Germany took steps from 1942 that it did not take - or took less stridently - earlier in the war. Germany took those steps because it realized its strategic crisis; my ATL moves forward Germany's realization of its strategic crisis.

I am NOT suggesting, as some on this board and some naive authors have done in the past, that Germany should have reached its production peak early in the war as did the UK/SU (i.e. that it could have built 45,000 planes and 20,000 tanks in 1941). The structural reasons for Germany's armaments under-performance are too deep to fix them all before Barbarossa. The additional armaments required by my ATL are a small fraction of a percent of German munitions production: ~1,000 tanks, ~20,000 trucks, plus 5 panzer divisions' worth of artillery/MG's/rifles etc. Rationalization and mobilization opened up a three-fold increase in German armaments production, my ATL supposes ~1% increase by value prior to Barbarossa.

The extra tanks come from not cutting the panzer program from 1,200 to 600 by mid-1940 during the 1939 financial crisis. Instead, cuts are made to the Z-plan and, if necessary, to the Ju-88 program. Projecting that higher rate of production forward, it's quite easy to get to 1,000 more tanks by mid-1941. A bigger panzer program should be attended by greater oversight and analysis. To that end I specify that the Germans begin rationalization of panzer production earlier than OTL by taking later-war steps such as using flow production instead of station production and by loosening up the Wehrmacht's counterproductive quality standards. Labor costs for a Panzer III declined by 50% OTL due to these steps; it's a matter of historical contingency that they did not happen earlier. The extra trucks represent ~6% of those available for Barbarossa. They can come from (1) greater production flowing from greater strategic priority for the Heer, (2) greater overall production from rationalization and better use of occupied Europe (i.e. for labor primarily), (2) the civilian economy, (3) sending only one division with Rommel to Africa, (4) some combination of the foregoing.

What the extra forces do

Ten mobile divisions join Schobert's 11th Army (6 divisions) in Rumania. From there, they strike north/northeast as the second pincer enveloping Southwest Front in Ukraine, meeting somewhere between Shepetivka and Zhitomir. For reference:

Image

The "arrow" represents the added thrust. German generals were hoping to execute something like this during AGS's OTL battle by linking up with 11th army east of the Dniestr; AGS just didn't have to punch to make it happen. As the map shows, PzGr1 was near to the point of the arrow (dotted lines around Rovno and Ostrog on the map) by July 7 even with Southwest Front concentrating all of its reserves to stop it. In the ATL, Southwest Front's Kirponos would have to divert forces against the Romanian pincer and Kleist would make even better progress. The pincers would meet in early July and the battle would be over by mid-July at the latest. Three SU armies (6th, 12th, 26th) plus large reserves would be trapped. For reference, here's the initial RKKA dispositions:

Image

Following this initial encirclement, AGS would execute additional encirclements on the Ukrainian steppe west of the Dniepr. With 19 mobile divisions they'd have the ability to execute double envelopments of any forces that Stalin committed west of the Dniepr. If the Soviets retreat all the way to the Dniepr without fighting then they lose a ton of industrial plant and the harvest of western Ukraine. For reference, here's AGS's OTL progress across Ukraine:

Image
Image

As the maps show, AGS was barely into the Dniepr bend by August and barely east of the river by mid-September. By destroying Southwest Front by mid-July, AGS can accelerate its conquest of Right Bank Ukraine by 5-6 weeks. During that conquest, it will successfully encircle more Soviet units than OTL because of its stronger mobile forces. OTL AGS had a lot of difficulty closing the trap in attempted encirclements of Southwest/South fronts, as Halder repeatedly bemoaned in his diary.

After clearing the Dniepr bend by early August, AGS can execute a single-envelopment of the Kiev salient, if it exists (if the Russians haven't withdrawn). Alternatively or in addition, it can begin the drive into Eastern Ukraine much earlier than OTL and with far greater strength. It can envelop any force thrown against it in the open Ukrainian steppe. In the first Battle of Kharkov, for example, AGS succeeded in taking the city but was unable to encircle significant RKKA forces due to lack of mobile units. For reference:

Image

An AGS with 10 extra mobile divisions could have blocked retreat from the city. Or it could send those divisions to AGC to ensure Moscow's fall...

AGS finishes in November on a line roughly Voronezh-Rostov, capturing all of the Donets basin and a huge portion of the Black Earth region. These losses will seriously impact SU's capabilities in 1942.

Elsewhere it's mostly as in the OTL except one huge difference: Having lost Southwest Front and 3 whole armies in the border battles, AG's North and South face significantly weaker opposition. Unlike OTL, Stavka cannot concentrate 90% of its reserves against Bock during August, preventing Timoshenko's massive attacks and saving AGC tens of thousands of casualties - as well as saving logistical strain. The encirclement at Smolensk goes more cleanly given fewer counterattacking formations to hold open the escape route from the Smolensk pocket. AGC can go back on the offensive in mid-late August, executing something like the Vyazma portion of Taifun.

Army Group North likewise faces weaker opposition, retains all of PzGr4 (probably reinforced by the two reserve panzer divisions), and is therefore able to join the Finns on the Svir river by October at the latest, thereby closing the noose on Leningrad and most of Volkhov/Northwest Front.

to be continued...

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 08 Aug 2019 17:55

I would just like to say, I really enjoy reading your ATLs, @TheMarcksPlan. I find them to be highly substantive and contain a lot of good information that makes you think. I'm still making my way through your old ones but am looking forward to this and any future ones you post.

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Aug 2019 19:21

BTW, the divisional "slice" for five additional divisions would be about 112,500...math apparently is not as strong a suit for him as creative writing.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Aug 2019 19:23

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Aug 2019 17:55
I would just like to say, I really enjoy reading your ATLs, @TheMarcksPlan. I find them to be highly substantive and contain a lot of good information that makes you think. I'm still making my way through your old ones but am looking forward to this and any future ones you post.
Thanks. I appreciate the positive engagement I've received from this community.
MichaelKenny wrote:You know the rules.
Only Germany is allowed to deviate from her previous actions.
This is the only quote from the peanut gallery I'll engage for now...

I have also posted an Allied ATL, one in which UK/France enlist the USSR in their coalition in 1939. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=242970

The problem with Allied ATL's is they're just not that interesting from a military point of view. The Allies could have had an insuperable anti-Hitler coalition even without the U.S.; with the U.S. added it's even less militarily interesting. You and the peanut gallery will surely persist in your belief that the only motivation for questioning the inevitability of the Good Guys Winning is Nazi-fandom or something. That's a somewhat prevalent view here but I'm reassured that there's a solid group of folks who don't hold this Harry Potter worldview.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Aug 2019 19:24

Richard Anderson wrote:
08 Aug 2019 19:21
BTW, the divisional "slice" for five additional divisions would be about 112,500...math apparently is not as strong a suit for him as creative writing.
Only if one ignores the fact that Panzer divisions had ~4,000 fewer personnel than the average division.

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

Post by Michael Kenny » 08 Aug 2019 20:10

If France had fought on in 1940 and destroyed all their MT that and the resultant German losses would have impacted badly on plans to invade Russia in 1941.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Aug 2019 20:37

Michael Kenny wrote:
08 Aug 2019 20:10
If France had fought on in 1940 and destroyed all their MT that and the resultant German losses would have impacted badly on plans to invade Russia in 1941.
True enough. Good point. What's the narrative in which a prostrate France led by virulent anti-Communists provokes German wrath to spare Bolsheviks from an unforeseen invasion? Solve that riddle and you could have a decent ATL.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Aug 2019 22:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:As the map shows, PzGr1 was near to the point of the arrow (dotted lines around Rovno and Ostrog on the map) by July 7 even with Southwest Front concentrating all of its reserves to stop it.
TheMarcksPlan is a moron and doesn't know how to read a map.
He says that PzGr1 was "close to" Shepetivka by July 7th when in fact it was 120km beyond Shepetivka in Berdichev on the next day, July 8.
I recommend that TheMarcksPlan spend time learning the difference between dashed and dotted lines before embarrassing himself further here.

...this proves that TheMarcksPlan's plan for envelopment of Southwest Front by mid-July is far more realistic than he suggested in his OP.
...which proves his thesis is wrong, I think. Unless I've missed something.

Image

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

Post by paulrward » 09 Aug 2019 00:49

Hello Mr. TheMarcksPlan :

You stated in the opening posting in this Thread :
The point of this modification from my last ATL is to demonstrate that Germany was much closer to having sufficient forces to beat the SU; adding not quite 100,000 men instead of 400,000 makes that point better.
All right. Let me help. Would it assist your improved Barbarossa if, in your planning, you could call on an additional THIRTEEN VETERAN DIVISIONS, PLUS AIR UNITS ? These would consist of the following :

1. Three Armored Divisions of 300 tanks each, consisting of 150 medium or heavy tanks and 150 light tanks ( French Tanks )
Each division would have four regiments of 75 tanks each.

2. One Armored Division consisting of 295 tanks, 70 medium tanks and 225 light tanks ( French Tanks )
This division would also have four regiments of about 70 to 75 tanks each

3. One Armored Cavalry Division consisting of 90 fast, light tanks and 190 fast armored cars. ( French Tanks and Armored Cars )

4. Seven Infantry Divisions, each with appx 11,000 men and augmented by a Regiment of 75 light tanks
( Armed with Mauser Rifles, German, Italian and Russian MGs, The Tank Regiments are equipped with French Tanks. )
These would be ' Square Divisions ' of two Brigades, each with two Regiments, plus the Tank Regiment

5. One Artillery Division, with a mixture of French, German, Italian, and Russian weapons.
(Mainly Horse Drawn, but with some tractors. )


This would total some 140,000 men, almost all combat veterans experienced in both winter and summer warfare, trained in the latest German and Italian techniques, and very familiar with Soviet tactics and weapons. There would be one, or at most two, infantry divisions that would be ' Green ' divisions, but they would all be motivated volunteers with a severe antipathy for the Soviet Union.



Along with the above force, there would be an Air Auxilliary, consisting of

1. Three Squadrons of Modern Fighters ( German and Italian aircraft )

2. Six Squadrons of Ground Attack Fighters ( Italian Aircraft )

3. Five Squadrons of Medium Bombers ( German and Italian Aircraft )

4. Three Squadrons of Transports. ( German and Italian Aircraft )


The total number of Aircraft would be about 260 machines, almost all flown by veteran pilots with experience in combat.



If you say the word, Mr. TheMarcksPlan, giving authorization for forming this force on or about July 1, 1940, it would almost certainly be ready for combat on the Eastern Front by June 1, 1941, more than enough time to have them participate in Barbarossa.

Please let me know if this interests you .

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward

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

Post by Russ3Z » 09 Aug 2019 01:15

1 comment, 3 questions

Comment: Preference for motorization was generally given to higher-class (1st Wave, eg.) infantry divisions. 86th and 251st ID from AGN/OKH reserve seem fine, and maybe the Police division, but the 206th was a 3rd Wave and seems a little bit weaker, especially in its recon and AT battalions. Likewise I'm not sure what high-tier units in the West were available for conversion and what might replace them. Thoughts?

Question: Given the increased panzer production needed for additional divisions, does this envision an across-the-board increase such that both additional MkIII and 38t-based divisions are raised (in roughly the same ratio as current production of each model in OTL), or would this attempt a more thorough (and presumably more difficult) reorganization that prioritizes MkIII production instead?

Question: As a follow-on to this, if additional 38t-based divisions are raised, where do you see them deployed? In OTL (if I recall correctly) most were with AGN, the rest with Hoth's group, presumably due to a combination of their deployment in one area (roughly) easing logistics along with regarding soviet forces in the center and south as more potent.

Question: You mention increased rail/transport assets generally (mostly in terms of equipment), but do you also propose a manpower increase to go with it?

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

Post by David Thompson » 09 Aug 2019 01:34

Posts from MarkN, Richard Anderson and Michael Kenny, which added nothing of sourced factual interest to the discussion other than their opinions, were removed as clutter.

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

Post by paulrward » 09 Aug 2019 01:41

To Mr. David Thompson ;

Thank you.

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 09 Aug 2019 03:45

Russ3Z wrote:Preference for motorization was generally given to higher-class (1st Wave, eg.) infantry divisions. 86th and 251st ID from AGN/OKH reserve seem fine, and maybe the Police division, but the 206th was a 3rd Wave and seems a little bit weaker, especially in its recon and AT battalions. Likewise I'm not sure what high-tier units in the West were available for conversion and what might replace them. Thoughts?
The specific merits of individual Heer units is one area in which I don't claim much knowledge. So part of my thoughts are - what are your thoughts?

Besides that general posture, I'm not committed to converting the exact divisions from AGN/OKH reserve. What if, instead of such course, we motorize better-suited divisions from, e.g., AGC/AGN, and move the 206th into their place? There were surely some points in the East where a slight diminution in the offensive capabilities of this or that division would have been acceptable. The face of the Bialystok salient, for example, is one prime candidate. It's arguably irrelevant or even beneficial for the German divisions at the base of that salient not to push their opponents back much into the encircling wings of AGC. So if we can't identify a better candidate than the 206th, then motorize one of Kluge's good infantry divisions, send it Rundstedt, and give Kluge the 206th.

It raises a thornier - but potentially productive - question of whether Bock needed all that infantry in the first place. The infantry portions of the kesselschlachten were relatively brief affairs; one could easily argue that the outcome in AGC's sector up to August wouldn't have changed absent a handful of infantry divisions. That question would be something to explore in an "even more minimal" ATL; for now I'll let it lie.

Re the western divisions, I again have to defer to better expertise on the specifics of units/personnel to be transferred. From what I've read as a general matter, however, it seems that Hitler had an overly-cautious approach to defending Norway, France, and especially the Balkans against British attack during Barbarossa. As I said in my last thread, OKW and other military/state intelligence services had a pretty clear picture of the British capacity to attack Hitler's rear during Barbarossa and that capacity was strategically negligible. Nonetheless, Hitler emphasized prestige in leaving, e.g., a couple panzer divisions in the west during 1941.

Furthermore, in Norway the ATL's supposition of strategic coherence pre-Barbarossa means that Hitler doesn't waste the Bismarck, Gniesenau, and Scharnhorst in raids into the Atlantic between the fall of France and Barbarossa. Instead, perceiving that he needs all he can muster for Barbarossa, he retains those three ships plus Tirpitz to anchor a defense of Norway; thereby releasing forces from that theater. Combined with Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen, that fleet gives the KM the ability to deter any British attack on Norway during 1941: the RN doesn't have sufficient modern dreadnoughts to counter Hitler's fleet without disastrous losses.
Russ3Z wrote:Question: Given the increased panzer production needed for additional divisions, does this envision an across-the-board increase such that both additional MkIII and 38t-based divisions are raised (in roughly the same ratio as current production of each model in OTL), or would this attempt a more thorough (and presumably more difficult) reorganization that prioritizes MkIII production instead?
Good question.
In my other thread, I mention that Hitler expressed to Halder grave misgiving about the large tanks possessed by the SU - presumably information he got from the Finns after the SU deployed KV prototypes during the Winter War. Given my ATL's POD of taking the SU more seriously, I'd assert that Hitler would prioritize amplifying the heavier portions of his armored forces. So my thinking is that all incremental production would go to Pz III/IV instead of 38(t). The specific pre-war change that I envision - not cutting the Pz III/IV program - would be focused on those tanks.
Russ3z wrote:Question: As a follow-on to this, if additional 38t-based divisions are raised, where do you see them deployed? In OTL (if I recall correctly) most were with AGN, the rest with Hoth's group, presumably due to a combination of their deployment in one area (roughly) easing logistics along with regarding soviet forces in the center and south as more potent.
A delta to 38(t) production is possible based on different strategic priorities but as a said I wouldn't see it as a priority within the revised priority. If such delta did occur then yes, it would be devoted to one specific area to ease logistical burden.
Russ3z wrote:Question: You mention increased rail/transport assets generally (mostly in terms of equipment), but do you also propose a manpower increase to go with it?
Yes, it would be required and it's in the background of my OP, which I didn't want to turn into a treatise.
Additional railroad personnel wouldn't come from the same pool as Heer personnel - they can be older, foreign, even female.

During 1940-41, the Reichsbahn used 30,000 personnel (and 300,000t steel) to more-than-double the rail capacity across Poland ("Operation Otto").
This personnel/steel commitment seems the absolute ceiling of what would be needed for slightly-better Barbarossa rail communications. Given my experience in my last thread, I can't emphasize enough that I'm not proposing "good German logistics," I'm only proposing "5 more divisions with the same bad logistics as OTL." The small delta to OTL forces would imply a small minimal delta to ATL railroad personnel.
David Thompson wrote:Posts from MarkN, Richard Anderson and Michael Kenny, which added nothing of sourced factual interest to the discussion other than their opinions, were removed as clutter.
Much appreciated. I post few rebuttals to this type of content already but knowing that such posts may be removed will further incentivize refraining from cluttering this board with interpersonal sniping.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 09 Aug 2019 04:21, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 09 Aug 2019 03:49

paulrward wrote:THIRTEEN VETERAN DIVISIONS, PLUS AIR UNITS
I'm afraid I don't understand the ATL. Are these German/Italian units? Do you mean to say they're made up of ww1 vets?

Russ3Z
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Russ3Z » 09 Aug 2019 04:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
09 Aug 2019 03:45
Russ3Z wrote:Preference for motorization was generally given to higher-class (1st Wave, eg.) infantry divisions. 86th and 251st ID from AGN/OKH reserve seem fine, and maybe the Police division, but the 206th was a 3rd Wave and seems a little bit weaker, especially in its recon and AT battalions. Likewise I'm not sure what high-tier units in the West were available for conversion and what might replace them. Thoughts?
The specific merits of individual Heer units is one area in which I don't claim much knowledge. So part of my thoughts are - what are your thoughts?

Besides that general posture, I'm not committed to converting the exact divisions from AGN/OKH reserve.
That's fine, then. I imagine in reality the presence of the extra mobile divisions would cause a shuffling of forces overall anyway. Was mostly curious if you were intent on trying to keep dispositions the same except for the new divisions.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
09 Aug 2019 03:45
Furthermore, in Norway the ATL's supposition of strategic coherence pre-Barbarossa means that Hitler doesn't waste the Bismarck, Gniesenau, and Scharnhorst in raids into the Atlantic between the fall of France and Barbarossa. Instead, perceiving that he needs all he can muster for Barbarossa, he retains those three ships plus Tirpitz to anchor a defense of Norway; thereby releasing forces from that theater. Combined with Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen, that fleet gives the KM the ability to deter any British attack on Norway during 1941: the RN doesn't have sufficient modern dreadnoughts to counter Hitler's fleet without disastrous losses.
Interesting, but I'm ambivalent about this. It could likely be argued that the German fleet choosing to bottle itself up in Norway would give the RN freedom to commit more forces to the Mediterranean theater, for instance, possibly hastening a further Italian defeat with various military/political implications for the Germans. Whether that risk is justified by the potential ability to reduce the Norway garrison is not something I could comment on. Interesting nevertheless.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
09 Aug 2019 03:45
Russ3Z wrote:Question: Given the increased panzer production needed for additional divisions, does this envision an across-the-board increase such that both additional MkIII and 38t-based divisions are raised (in roughly the same ratio as current production of each model in OTL), or would this attempt a more thorough (and presumably more difficult) reorganization that prioritizes MkIII production instead?
Good question.
In my other thread, I mention that Hitler expressed to Halder grave misgiving about the large tanks possessed by the SU - presumably information he got from the Finns after the SU deployed KV prototypes during the Winter War. Given my ATL's POD of taking the SU more seriously, I'd assert that Hitler would prioritize amplifying the heavier portions of his armored forces. So my thinking is that all incremental production would go to Pz III/IV instead of 38(t). The specific pre-war change that I envision - not cutting the Pz III/IV program - would be focused on those tanks.
Fair enough. I left out the MkIV since both division types would use it so I figured it's a wash.

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