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

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Jan 2021 05:16

per70 wrote:So, the Red Army saw a very large influx of new troops in the first month, even though the field replacement numbers were low. Whether the low number was due to a deliberate choice or due to potential replacements being overrun (or a combination) is left unsaid.
It's left unsaid in Price of Victory and its sources but I'm drawing what seems an inevitable inference combining those sources with the initial status of RKKA's as divisions: as discussed in, e.g. Askey's Operation Barbarossa vol. IIIB, Soviet divisions on June 22 were generally at an 8,000-man peacetime TOE (shtat) - or below it. To reach their 12,000-man combat shtat, it was planned to rush personnel to the divisions. To fill out the 200 or so active divisions would have required 800,000 men at 4,000 apiece - although precise numbers are hard to reach as not all unit personnel figures are available for the early weeks of chaos along the border.

RKKA generally followed - tried to follow - the prewar plans once the shooting started. It seems highly unlikely that it merely accepted that its divisions would fight at peacetime shtats, rather than following the plan to rush manpower to the divisions.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 14 Jan 2021 05:37

per70 wrote:
13 Jan 2021 23:14
Some units that hadn't recovered/returned from the Balkans campaign by the start of Barbarossa.

2nd, 5th Panzer Division
60th Infantry Division (mot)
5th and 6th Gebirgs Division
46th, 73rd, 164th, 183rd and 294th Infantry Division
7th Flieger Division

Note that most of these did participate in Barbarossa, although not from the start.
This is perfect, thank you!!!
KDF33 wrote:
13 Jan 2021 23:42
I'm not sure that I understand. What is the divisional number of the 3 extra Panzer/Motorized Infantry Divisions we're talking about?

Besides, IMO the significant difference between HGM and HGS was the overall German-to-Soviet force ratio in their respective area of operations, namely:
  • Personnel: 1,307,780 Germans facing 671,165 Soviets (HGM) // 1,013,411 Germans facing 907,046 Soviets (HGS)
  • Divisions: 49 German facing 44 Soviet (HGM) // 38 German facing 58 Soviet (HGS)
  • Tanks: 2,241 German facing 2,189 Soviet (HGM) // 821 German facing 4,783 Soviet (HGS)
In the Center, the Germans held an absolutely crushing superiority. In the South, both forces were more on an equal footing, albeit Soviet deficiencies in readiness, C&C and logistics were comparable across the entire length of the front.

To achieve a similar force ratio, the Germans would have needed an extra 753,988 men, 16 divisions and 4,076 (!) tanks in Heeresgruppe Süd.
The source material I've been citing from doesn't exactly state which divisions, although most likely it's from the above list. I agree with TheMarcksPlan's assessment but, to specifically look at the issue of force ratios, the Germans already had 43 Divisions in AGS as opposed to the 58 Soviet you note. Just looking at German divisions, however, distorts the picture; the Romanian Army was already on the scene and later the Italians joined. Just adding the 14 Romanian Divisions changes the strategic picture to 57 to 58; adding the Italians thereafter results in it switching to an AGS like ratio. This is before adding any of the other divisions.
Last edited by History Learner on 14 Jan 2021 05:41, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by History Learner » 14 Jan 2021 05:41

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 04:58
per70 wrote:
13 Jan 2021 23:14
History Learner wrote:
13 Jan 2021 21:36
I'll need to go through the OOBs to figure out for sure, but for motorized forces it's the addition of a Corps; I'll look at infantry divisions later on.
Some units that hadn't recovered/returned from the Balkans campaign by the start of Barbarossa.

2nd, 5th Panzer Division
60th Infantry Division (mot)
5th and 6th Gebirgs Division
46th, 73rd, 164th, 183rd and 294th Infantry Division
7th Flieger Division

Note that most of these did participate in Barbarossa, although not from the start.
Had the Germans perceived a need for the strongest-possible initial contingent, it might have been possible to get at least some of these divisions to AGS by June 22. 2nd Panzer, for instance, began shipping from Greece on May 18. https://www.warhistoryonline.com/guest- ... -guns.html Shipping them to Thessaloniki or Alexandropouli instead of to Italy would have left them a month to cross Bulgaria and Romania by rail.

It's often said that their vehicles needed refurbishment. In my ATL there should be extra vehicles.
Such is basically my argument, in terms of keeping the mindset they had for a double envelopment prior to Hitler getting cold feet in March. Alternatively, of course, the obvious PoD is no Yugoslav Coup or, going further back, having the Italians avoid the whole Greek debacle to begin with. 2nd Panzer, 5th Panzer, and 60th Infantry could constitute a mobile corps, as would the Italians; if I'm understanding your base scenario correctly, you've called for the creation of five additional Panzer divisions for AGS and the motorization of five more existing ones?

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

Post by KDF33 » 14 Jan 2021 07:14

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 04:29
In my ATL, the strong Romanian pincer has to be opposed by part of SW Front's forces or else it would move at HGM-like pace of ~60km/day. That would put it in Shepetivka in 3 days - plus a few days for bridging the Dniestr. Shifting forces to meet the southern pincer would accelerate the northern pincer's advance.
Oh, I'm not questioning the ability of the Ostheer to encircle South-Western Front if sufficiently reinforced in advance as part of a different planning process and mobilization plan. My quibble is strictly with the idea that shuffling forces as they existed prior to the invasion is unlikely to make much of a difference.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 04:29
Soviet divisions were far short of their (already poor) authorized transport assets on June 22. The forward divisions lacked 776,000 horses versus their TOE's and about half of authorized trucks. They were quasi-static divisions in practice.
Absolutely. Indeed, I'd argue this lack of mobility (along with C&C issues and significant Axis superiority in numbers - overwhelming in the case of HGM/Western Front) was one of the main reasons for the initial success of Barbarossa.

It's remarkable, really: even the Italians on the Don were more motorized and... horsed? than the RKKA at that time! The Soviet first echelon is probably the least mobile force the Wehrmacht ever fought in WW2.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Jan 2021 08:11

KDF33 wrote:My quibble is strictly with the idea that shuffling forces as they existed prior to the invasion is unlikely to make much of a difference.
Thanks for clarifying. I share your quibble and would encourage HistoryLearner to play out his argument in a well-developed ATL to examine it.
KDF33 wrote:It's remarkable, really: even the Italians on the Don were more motorized and... horsed? than the RKKA at that time! The Soviet first echelon is probably the least mobile force the Wehrmacht ever fought in WW2.
Particularly remarkable - and under-remarked IMO - is that the less-numerous 1941 RKKA with WW1-standard mobility was able to kill/wound Germans at about the same rate as the monstrous 1943-45 RKKA with better mobility. That the Ostheer was on the offensive contributes some - but then again RKKA was attacking during much of '41 and Ostheer's operational offensives enabled tactical defense in many circumstances. It emphasizes the decline in RKKA training standards and probably educational levels after 1941. There's a suggestion (or maybe assertion) in Walter S. Dunn's books (Stalin's Reluctant Soldiers and Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought) that the early-war RKKA was disproportionately drawn from the urban classes, whereas as the latter war army was more peasant. This would make sense, as the urban proletariat was more supportive of the regime than the peasants. The prewar army and reservists had at least something of a volunteer component; the war-time army was conscripts.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Jan 2021 08:38

History Learner wrote:Such is basically my argument, in terms of keeping the mindset they had for a double envelopment prior to Hitler getting cold feet in March.
As stated, I have reservations about this argument. If, however, it's feasible for the Romanian pincer to add the 3-division mobile corps plus 5-6 divisions left behind or held in reserve, then maybe there's something cooking. I still couldn't see a deep operational strike to meet PzGr1 on the Shepetivka-Zhitomir axis as envisioned in the OP. But I could perhaps see PzGr1 obtaining operational freedom earlier (due to SW Front's diversions southwards), with it wheeling southwest earlier than OTL to meet the other pincer somewhere between the Bug and Dniestr, east of Proskurov.

That could bag a decent portion of forces retreating from the Hungarian/Romanian frontiers.

If we really stretch, we could then envision a second encirclement in Right Bank Ukraine combining PzGr1 and the extra mobile corps, with this second Kessel replacing - and being larger than - OTL Uman.

Continuing to stretch, we might then envision SW Front being sufficiently weakened to lose Kiev during August and the Dniepr crossed in strength. That would obviate the need the southwards diversion and free up AGC for a September Taifun.

It then might be possible to envision Ostheer taking and holding a line Leningrad-Moscow-Voronezh-Rostov in 1941, which would significantly weaken SU and RKKA for the '42 campaign and perhaps push SU over the brink.

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

If we're talking along these lines, however, I'd just as well consider an even stronger version that moves some/all of PzGr4 (plus the Balkans forces) to Romania and decisively destroys SW Front. With that huge hole in RKKA's OoB, AGN's infantry forces can probably make good investiture of Leningrad (perhaps with a single mobile corps): RKKA would not be able to reinforce Leningrad/NW Fronts in August/September to check Leeb.
History Learner wrote:Alternatively, of course, the obvious PoD is no Yugoslav Coup or, going further back, having the Italians avoid the whole Greek debacle
IDK the Balkan flank is a difficult thing to leave open when invading the SU. Its collapse arguably was the coup de grace for Germany in WW1, after all. Yugoslavia was always sympathetic to Russia; Greece was always going to face British pressure/inducement to join up. Had Hitler anticipated a longer Eastern war (the only viable ATL, IMO), he'd have known that a Balkan irruption in Ostheer's rear would be both feasible and potentially fatal. The prudent thing was to get it locked down before moving East.

So my alternative is for Hitler to have acted with a sense of strategic purpose immediately after France instead of vacillating between Mediterranean, Channel, and Russian options. He therefore encourages Mussolini's move against Greece in August 1940 and never tries seriously to broker peace with Greece. He immediately begins moving forces into Bulgaria (which granted permission in December 1940 OTL and could have done so earlier). That enables a Balkan campaign over the winter, ending by March at the latest. This also enables a slower post-Peloponese timeline for Crete, which enables stronger LW presence and greater British naval losses. It ensures that all forces can return for Barbarossa in time for jump off.

And in combination with my rational mobilization plan, it enables Barbarossa to begin in mid-May as planned.
History Learner wrote:Italian expeditionary corps
...didn't begin arriving in Ukraine until July and had its first combat in August. Hitler left Mussolini in the dark about Barbarossa so there's no chance of Italian units in the Border Battles unless we change that.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 14 Jan 2021 09:52

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 08:11
Particularly remarkable - and under-remarked IMO - is that the less-numerous 1941 RKKA with WW1-standard mobility was able to kill/wound Germans at about the same rate as the monstrous 1943-45 RKKA with better mobility. That the Ostheer was on the offensive contributes some - but then again RKKA was attacking during much of '41 and Ostheer's operational offensives enabled tactical defense in many circumstances. It emphasizes the decline in RKKA training standards and probably educational levels after 1941. There's a suggestion (or maybe assertion) in Walter S. Dunn's books (Stalin's Reluctant Soldiers and Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought) that the early-war RKKA was disproportionately drawn from the urban classes, whereas as the latter war army was more peasant. This would make sense, as the urban proletariat was more supportive of the regime than the peasants. The prewar army and reservists had at least something of a volunteer component; the war-time army was conscripts.
Agreed. I'd go so far as to suspect that the RKKA was at its wartime peak, qualitatively speaking, on 22.6.1941. This was occulted by material factors, both in terms of manpower and equipment, that favored the German-led coalition.

I'd argue that the conventional wisdom has it upside-down: the RKKA's relatively high proficiency at the beginning of the war was neutered by its numerical and material weakness, whereas its latter low proficiency (both compared to the Ostheer and to its own first incarnation) was compensated by its growing numerical and material advantage.

This would largely account for the lopsided casualty exchange rate of the Soviet-German war: initial Soviet losses were so high that they created a negative feedback loop of compressed training regimens which, in turn, led to continued high losses and further pressure on the reinforcement, and thus training, timetable. An (anecdotal) case in point are the divisions raised in June 1942 as part of the 9th and 10th Reserve Armies: they were committed to the battle line less than 3 months after their very creation.

IIRC, and as a point of comparison, an American division was considered unemployable until it had gained 1 year of training as a cohesive unit.

Much is made of the degradation in the quality of the Heer due to the losses sustained in 1941. This is likely true to a certain extent, but, inasmuch as it pertains to the East, any qualitative decline in German combat proficiency must have been offset by an even larger decline in RKKA proficiency. We can actually chart this, given how Qvist provided estimates for Heer quarterly average strength a long time ago.

Losses are KIA/WIA/MIA for Germans, the same for Soviets from 1Q1942. In the case of 1941, I have substituted adjusted Soviet POW numbers from German records for MIA, due to the fragmentary nature of Soviet records for that year.

Average quarterly strength is front only, Heer + Waffen-SS (without 20. Gebirgs) for Germans, all arms for Soviets.
1941/3: 527,549 / 2,800,000 = 18.8% Germany --- 3,022,640 / 3,594,600 = 84.1% USSR
1941/4: 274,909 / 2,675,000 = 10.3% Germany --- 2,066,368 / 3,099,100 = 66.7% USSR
1942/1: 273,640 / 2,525,000 = 10.8% Germany --- 1,606,376 / 4,437,400 = 36.2% USSR
1942/2: 218,964 / 2,600,000 = 8.4% Germany --- 1,313,280 / 5,343,300 = 24.6% USSR
1942/3: 385,420 / 2,825,000 = 13.6% Germany --- 2,248,003 / 5,946,600 = 37.8% USSR
1942/4: 199,647 / 2,900,000 = 6.9% Germany --- 1,196,899 / 6,618,500 = 18.1% USSR
1943/1: 473,339 / 2,800,000 = 16.9% Germany --- 1,812,378 / 6,146,600 = 29.5% USSR
1943/2: 111,187 / 2,850,000 = 3.9% Germany --- 376,373 / 6,715,260 = 5.6% USSR
1943/3: 505,452 / 2,850,000 = 17.7% Germany --- 2,507,984 / 7,043,600 = 35.6% USSR
I'll post the rest tomorrow, but this gives the general picture. By the end of September 1943, Germany had taken cumulative losses equivalent to 106% of its average strength of 1941/3, whereas the Soviets had taken the equivalent of 449% of theirs.

Note that Soviet losses are concentrated among the ground forces, which are on average a good 800,000 men lower than the above figures. Therefore, the difference between German and Soviet attrition is actually larger than the preceding table suggests.

This doesn't even factor in that Soviet training schedules were not just constrained by losses, but also, and unlike the Germans, by rapid growth.

In light of all this, comparatively low Soviet combat proficiency no longer appears as an anomaly, but as the inevitable consequence of effectively losing the pre-war Red Army, and then having to reconstitute it on an even larger scale, all the while taking constant heavy losses. Seldom acknowledged is that once the negative feedback loop was established, the RKKA couldn't really recover from a qualitative standpoint during the war, at least not below the higher command echelons.

It is widely accepted that the German Jagdwaffe collapsed as an effective fighting force in 1944 due to its heavy losses and compressed training schedules. AFAIK, a comparable phenomenon, this time affecting the RKKA, has seldom been afforded a similar rigorous treatment in the historiography of the Soviet-German conflict**. It should instead constitute a cornerstone to our understanding of the war.

**Admittedly, in the English-language historiography. Russian historiography might already be there. If any poster is familiar with it, I'd be curious.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Jan 2021 11:38

KDF33 wrote: I'd argue that the conventional wisdom has it upside-down: the RKKA's relatively high proficiency at the beginning of the war was neutered by its numerical and material weakness, whereas its latter low proficiency (both compared to the Ostheer and to its own first incarnation) was compensated by its growing numerical and material advantage.

In light of all this, comparatively low Soviet combat proficiency no longer appears as an anomaly, but as the inevitable consequence of effectively losing the pre-war Red Army, and then having to reconstitute it on an even larger scale, all the while taking constant heavy losses.
Agreed - in terms of the tactical prowess of the average Soviet soldier. I'd guess that's what you meant but just heading off those who will jump in to defend the honor of Soviet generalship. The SU clearly possessed minds in the upper echelons of its ranks who improved over the war; the average soldier did not. HGW Davie's study of Red Army logistics is a case in point. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... ode=fslv20

An interesting research agenda (haven't seen it in English, maybe it's in Russian already): Compare the demographics of the 1941 RKKA to 1944 (education, age, socioeconomic indicators as proxies for health). Walter Dunn's books have a smattering of anecdotal evidence suggesting an upwards trend in age and downwards in socioeconomic indicators - especially in the infantry. Are RKKA biographical records still extent/accessible to a sufficient degree? Doubtful...

RKKA was better, relative to Germans, than were Czarist armies. The Germans themselves noted ahead of Barbarossa that, due to Soviet educational and economic improvements, the Soviet was no longer the "good muzhik" of the Great War. The extent to which this was true likely diminished as the initial cohorts were killed/captured and the great mass of peasantry filled the ranks. So truncated training is probably the central reason for declining tactical effectiveness but the demographic parameters, if properly quantified, would also be relevant.
KDF33 wrote:We can actually chart this, given how Qvist provided estimates for Heer quarterly average strength a long time ago.
It's astounding that so many people entertain the notion that RKKA improved to match German combat effectiveness per man. The link is over a decade old but stuff like this is still popular somehow.

As Qvist says, folks often respond to a harmful falsehood (Nazi supermen) by creating new falsehoods. Modern(ish) war is a complex endeavor; to believe that Russians could do it as well as Germans with minimal training and while lacking essential educational and socioeconomic preconditions would propound a Russian superman myth.
KDF33 wrote:I'll post the rest tomorrow, but this gives the general picture. By the end of September 1943, Germany had taken cumulative losses equivalent to 106% of its average strength of 1941/3, whereas the Soviets had taken the equivalent of 449% of theirs.
The 1941 Soviet numbers are hard to take seriously but the general picture is unmistakable.

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

Re this and other Soviet defeat ATL's, we'd have to account for the effect on Soviet combat effectiveness of even greater losses in '41/42, in particular the effect of more encirclements. While RKKA continued to lose millions throughout the war, its post-Barbarossa losses were concentrated in the infantry - the easiest to train. In 1941 encirclements, however, RKKA lost highly-trained artillerists, staff officers, even dozens of generals. Apparently a sufficient number of these men survived (and were later trained) to form a competent professional core to guide the poor bloody infantry. How many more Viazma's could RKKA take, however, before losing enough of this core to render the broader system unmanageable?
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 15 Jan 2021 00:51

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 11:38
Agreed - in terms of the tactical prowess of the average Soviet soldier. I'd guess that's what you meant but just heading off those who will jump in to defend the honor of Soviet generalship. The SU clearly possessed minds in the upper echelons of its ranks who improved over the war; the average soldier did not.
Well, the Soviet soldier and lower-level officers. Effectively, any rank that is close enough to the front to be killed/captured with some regularity. At the higher-level, obviously this doesn't apply.

Regarding the upper echelons, it only makes sense that the experience gained would translate into improvements. I would argue, however, that given the numerical and material factors present at the beginning of the conflict, the frequent assumption that early-war Soviet commanders were significantly worse than their late-war counterparts is questionable.

I'd go so far as to suggest that it was on the level of the higher commands that the Germans and Soviets were most comparable in terms of individual proficiency. But then, generalship was hardly the determining factor in the war's outcome.

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 11:38
So truncated training is probably the central reason for declining tactical effectiveness but the demographic parameters, if properly quantified, would also be relevant.
I have no well-formed thoughts on the impact of demographic parameters on individual combat proficiency. The "negative feedback loop" of compressed training schedules, however, seems so significant as to constitute a sufficient explanation for the difference in effectiveness between the two forces.

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 11:38
It's astounding that so many people entertain the notion that RKKA improved to match German combat effectiveness per man. The link is over a decade old but stuff like this is still popular somehow.

As Qvist says, folks often respond to a harmful falsehood (Nazi supermen) by creating new falsehoods. Modern(ish) war is a complex endeavor; to believe that Russians could do it as well as Germans with minimal training and while lacking essential educational and socioeconomic preconditions would propound a Russian superman myth.
Agreed. Popular history has swung from the "Asiatic hordes" meme to the fetishization of "Deep Operations" and "Maskirovka". But then again, popular history is junk.

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 11:38
The 1941 Soviet numbers are hard to take seriously but the general picture is unmistakable.
My 1941 numbers are Krivosheev's KIA+WIA, with German POW reports replacing MIA. They probably still undercount KIA, but POWs, even with the 500,000ish reduction at the end of the year, probably include more than just RKKA personnel. I don't see how they can be far off.

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

Post by History Learner » 15 Jan 2021 21:20

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Jan 2021 08:38
As stated, I have reservations about this argument. If, however, it's feasible for the Romanian pincer to add the 3-division mobile corps plus 5-6 divisions left behind or held in reserve, then maybe there's something cooking. I still couldn't see a deep operational strike to meet PzGr1 on the Shepetivka-Zhitomir axis as envisioned in the OP. But I could perhaps see PzGr1 obtaining operational freedom earlier (due to SW Front's diversions southwards), with it wheeling southwest earlier than OTL to meet the other pincer somewhere between the Bug and Dniestr, east of Proskurov.

That could bag a decent portion of forces retreating from the Hungarian/Romanian frontiers.

If we really stretch, we could then envision a second encirclement in Right Bank Ukraine combining PzGr1 and the extra mobile corps, with this second Kessel replacing - and being larger than - OTL Uman.

Continuing to stretch, we might then envision SW Front being sufficiently weakened to lose Kiev during August and the Dniepr crossed in strength. That would obviate the need the southwards diversion and free up AGC for a September Taifun.

It then might be possible to envision Ostheer taking and holding a line Leningrad-Moscow-Voronezh-Rostov in 1941, which would significantly weaken SU and RKKA for the '42 campaign and perhaps push SU over the brink.

If we're talking along these lines, however, I'd just as well consider an even stronger version that moves some/all of PzGr4 (plus the Balkans forces) to Romania and decisively destroys SW Front. With that huge hole in RKKA's OoB, AGN's infantry forces can probably make good investiture of Leningrad (perhaps with a single mobile corps): RKKA would not be able to reinforce Leningrad/NW Fronts in August/September to check Leeb.
If I understand your own scenario correctly, you call for the addition of five divisions to 11th Army's historical total? And the motorization of five others, but this isn't an addition to the baseline, rather, you're improving the existing forces?
IDK the Balkan flank is a difficult thing to leave open when invading the SU. Its collapse arguably was the coup de grace for Germany in WW1, after all. Yugoslavia was always sympathetic to Russia; Greece was always going to face British pressure/inducement to join up. Had Hitler anticipated a longer Eastern war (the only viable ATL, IMO), he'd have known that a Balkan irruption in Ostheer's rear would be both feasible and potentially fatal. The prudent thing was to get it locked down before moving East.

So my alternative is for Hitler to have acted with a sense of strategic purpose immediately after France instead of vacillating between Mediterranean, Channel, and Russian options. He therefore encourages Mussolini's move against Greece in August 1940 and never tries seriously to broker peace with Greece. He immediately begins moving forces into Bulgaria (which granted permission in December 1940 OTL and could have done so earlier). That enables a Balkan campaign over the winter, ending by March at the latest. This also enables a slower post-Peloponese timeline for Crete, which enables stronger LW presence and greater British naval losses. It ensures that all forces can return for Barbarossa in time for jump off.

And in combination with my rational mobilization plan, it enables Barbarossa to begin in mid-May as planned.
One quick thing: Barbarossa cannot start earlier than June 10th due to the late Spring thaw creating serious flooding.

I think Operation Marita was probably a bad idea; the Greeks had already exhausted their supplies, were too far forward of their defensive positions and the Italians were heavily reinforcing to finish them off. The German intervention is definitely fatal for the Greeks and ensured a quick end, but ultimately I think it was going to happen regardless. With that in mind, stripping three divisions doesn't seem that endangering to the Axis position in the Balkans, particularly with Weichs still coming in from Austria to deal with the Yugoslavs if the coup still happens.

Personally, I also think there was several things the Germans could've done during the campaign to win Barbarossa in 1941 and that changes in 1942 during Blau could be equally decisive for the Eastern Front.
...didn't begin arriving in Ukraine until July and had its first combat in August. Hitler left Mussolini in the dark about Barbarossa so there's no chance of Italian units in the Border Battles unless we change that.
I agree, but that's what I'm saying about using existing forces better; it's easier to get the Italians to send forces earlier they ended up sending anyway then to try to build up additional divisions. 2nd and 5th Panzer, the Mot. German division, and then the two Italian ones creates the five division force I think you're calling for in the OP.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2021 13:00

HistoryLearner wrote:If I understand your own scenario correctly, you call for the addition of five divisions to 11th Army's historical total?
In this iteration only the 5 PzDiv's are new. But 5 more are motorized and transferred to Romania from OTL reserves. Besides the reserves, it should have been possible to move divisions from other areas and/or/either to amalgamate Barbarossa-capable divisions from OTL occupation forces (discussed upthread somewhere...). This is what Germany did later on when Russia didn't collapse as expected. That should be good for at least 5 more an infantry divisions in Romania.

So altogether the southern pincer gains ~15 divisions in this iteration of the ATL. It's probably not the minimal condition for a successful Galicia Kesselschlacht...
HistoryLearner wrote:One quick thing: Barbarossa cannot start earlier than June 10th due to the late Spring thaw creating serious flooding.
I'm not sure that's correct. Per Hitler's Balkan Campaign and the Invasion of the USSR by Zapantis, conditions in Poland and Romania were average and even below normal flooding. The author accessed original weather data for his conclusion. As argued in that book, the "late spring thaw/flood" argument appears to be a postwar invention by a few German generals, which was then picked up and spread by Halder et. al. in their work for the U.S. Army.
History Learner wrote:I also think there was several things the Germans could've done during the campaign to win Barbarossa in 1941 and that changes in 1942 during Blau could be equally decisive for the Eastern Front.
Maybe. But I don't see a decisive argument. KDF33 and others are making interesting points about 1942, Steven Mercatante makes interesting points about a southern focus, Nigel Askey is making an interesting argument about "Moscow First."

In contrast to those arguments, I see my ATL as decisively leading to the SU's defeat/incapacitation by the end of '42 (unsurprising view of my own ATL, I know). In fact none of my opposing interlocutors in this thread or others has made a serious argument that the SU would have held out had the specified pre-Barbarossa conditions existed. Instead, they turn to the economic underpinnings of the ATL. Which is fair, but it's ground on which IMO the argument is at least as decisive.

At base, the appeal of a "stronger Barbarossa" ATL is that it rests simply on Germany taking the SU seriously.
History Learner wrote: it's easier to get the Italians to send forces earlier they ended up sending anyway then to try to build up additional divisions.
TBH the Italian divisions may have had more cost than benefit: They needed as much logistical support as German units for a fraction of the combat value. Italy didn't bring its own railroads so everything shipped to Italians isn't shipped to Germans. IIRC Rundstedt objected to getting the Italians on exactly these grounds.

If there's a feasible ATL in which Hitler perceives a need for Italian divisions then the conditions for a stronger Barbarossa already exist. I.e. Hitler realizes it's going to be longer, harder campaign than OTL. With that realization, the economic path to a stronger effort is wide open.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 24 Jan 2021 18:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2021 13:00
History Learner wrote: it's easier to get the Italians to send forces earlier they ended up sending anyway then to try to build up additional divisions.
TBH the Italian divisions may have had more cost than benefit: They needed as much logistical support as German units for a fraction of the combat value. Italy didn't bring its own railroads so everything shipped to Italians isn't shipped to Germans. IIRC Rundstedt objected to getting the Italians on exactly these grounds.

If there's a feasible ATL in which Hitler perceives a need for Italian divisions then the conditions for a stronger Barbarossa already exist. I.e. Hitler realizes it's going to be longer, harder campaign than OTL. With that realization, the economic path to a stronger effort is wide open.
does that apply to the other Axis partners just as equally one can assume? could Germany have invaded basically solo?

what would that look like? two main fronts and possibly reach Odessa in the south? but they could be much better supplied?

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 25 Jan 2021 19:31

thaddeus_c wrote:
24 Jan 2021 18:08
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2021 13:00
History Learner wrote: it's easier to get the Italians to send forces earlier they ended up sending anyway then to try to build up additional divisions.
TBH the Italian divisions may have had more cost than benefit:
does that apply to the other Axis partners just as equally one can assume? could Germany have invaded basically solo?
It certainly doesn't apply to the Finns, who had excellent combat value and required relatively little logistical support from Germany.

The combat power vs. logistical support requirements were similarly unfavorable for Romanians and Hungarians. For example: At the time of Operation Uranus, IIRC, 6th Army was receiving 9 trains per day while the Hungarian/Romanian/Italian armies were receiving at least 15/day. The combined allied armies possessed significantly less combat power than 6th Army.

Romania provided a favorable geographic element, however. Of course the Germans could have invaded solo - the original Marcks plan didn't assume Romanian participation - but it would have complicated things in Ukraine. Ultimately the Germans didn't exploit "Galician salient" element of Romanian geography, despite its inclusion in earlier drafts of Barbarossa planning.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Feb 2021 11:12

Another member has raised issues best addressed here, I'll touch briefly on them now:
historygeek2021 wrote:
24 Feb 2021 07:33

Is there somewhere where you present a grand overview of your ATL in which Germany arrives at a state of invulnerability? Something like:

193x: Germany decides to shift resources from [medium bombers, etc.] to [trucks and railroad engineering].
See OP and environs. Since then, however, I've revised that judgment. IMO this ATL doesn't require a prewar PoD, only greater mobilization and sustained post-France Army focus. Partially discussed at length in another thread.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote: May/June 1941: Germany attacks the USSR with X many divisions, of which Y are fully motorized, and with Z aircraft. Germany has XX many divisions deployed in France, Norway, etc.

Oct 1941: Germany has conquered X much territory and encircled Y armies/divisions/Red Army soldiers after the first summer of the campaign.

And then a step by step account of 1942, because that's really where everything seems to hinge, because this is the year in which Germany has to both (1) eliminate the Red Army as a threat once and for all and (2) transition to other theaters. We need details on things like:

(1) How many divisions does Germany start with in 1942, and where are they located?
Same as OTL plus ~300k men (fewer casualties in Barbarossa), filling out the divisions - which are also better equipped than OTL.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(2) How are these divisions redeployed or disbanded, month by month?
As laid out in the post already linked in the other thread, small shifts from Ostheer (20 divs total?) beginning in July '42 once Ostheer is everywhere beyond the Volga and Soviet impotence ensured.

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(3) Why exactly is Stalin compelled to agree to a peace in which he reduces the Red Army to a negligible size and takes other disarmament steps that result in the USSR posing no threat to Germany whatsoever? Why can't he just keep retreating further to the east, relying on U.S. lend-lease through Vladivostok to keep his army and people fed?
As stated in the other thread, Japan shuts down Vladivostok in '42 because SU is sufficiently weakened. Hitler also withholds a DoW on USA until Japan agrees to do so.

Even absent that stipulation, SU has <40mil people if pushed beyond the Urals. No longer a major theater of war even if Ostheer has to chase Stalin to Vladivostok.

Because that is true, Stalin would know it is true. Therefore Stalin does the rational thing and accepts a settlement that preserves his power - the only thing he really cared about.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(4) How does Germany make the capital switch from army production to air and naval production? Presumably the capital investment in air and naval production would have to begin well before 1942 - how does this reconcile with the capital investment in army production needed to eliminate the Red Army in 2 years? We really need a precise timeline.
This is misconception common to my ATL threads.

There's no switch. German army production is around OTL+20% in mid-'41 and remains there for a few years. That means Army's share of overall production begins to lag OTL share from early '42 or so.

Feel free to disagree that a small army production delta would have had such consequences but my argument in that regard is well laid out in this thread.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(5) How and when does Germany alter its OTL pilot training program, which was already under strain by 1942? Similarly, how does Germany address the pressurization issues it faced when trying to design a fighter that could engage very high altitude bombers?
Why does Germany face the same strain on its fighter program when (1) it has the Caucasus and its oil, (2) it's not making nearly as much oil for Heer from mid-'42, (3) it's not fighting the VVS, (4) the Stalingrad airlift and resultant raid on the training program doesn't happen?

I welcome engagement with the OTL but you have to put at least a little effort into predicting foreseeable consequences; you can't just assume that all bad things from OTL are the same even in Germany beats the SU.

Re fighter pressurization, what are you talking about? Fighting the B-36? Pressurization wasn't a serious LW issue in the OTL Defense of the Reich AFAIK.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(6) Where is Germany getting its fuel in your ATL? Does Germany conquer the Middle East? How does Germany get the oil back to Germany? How long does the railroad construction, etc. take?
Have addressed this in many, many threads. Maybe search my posts? If you address my other points I will circle back.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(7) How does Germany defend its sources of vital materials in remote areas: tungsten (Portugal), iron (Sweden), chromium (Turkey)? Presumably once the Allies see that the Soviet Union is collapsing, they could make a concerted effort to land at Narvik and push into Sweden, depriving Germany of the high quality iron ore on which its massive steel industry depended.
What you need to do is make an argument that the W.Allies could invade and hold Portugal, Sweden, and Turkey. I will address that argument when you make it.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:
(8) How do you think peace comes about? Does Hitler keep terrorizing the west with U-boats, V-1s and V-2s? Why would the west settle with someone who has broken every treaty, is using terrorist weapons against their civilians and is threatening global commerce with U-boats?
Not sure, many potential endings.

I've already said elsewhere I think FDR loses in '44 to non-interventionist like Taft and provided you evidence that America was ambivalent about Germany First. High-level, first-cut projection is peace with Hitler that leaves him the East and probably military bases in France and elsewhere.

Again you're burying in a question something for which you need to make an argument (inconceivability of Western accommodation with Hitler).

What's your hypothesis? Never-ending war in the Atlantic and the Eurasian/African periphery? Because America - a country that wouldn't let blacks sit next to whites, that banned non-white immigrants by law, where >half the population disliked Jewish people - was willing to sacrifice a whole generation out of moral outrage at Hitler?
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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

Post by thaddeus_c » 24 Feb 2021 16:08

has the possible earlier conversion of some of the "lesser" AFVs been discussed? (not seeing that with a quick reading of this thread)

trying to "sidestep" some of the arguments over resource availability and allocation, with a marriage of historical chassis and guns. like the Wespe a Pz II with 105mm gun was particularly effective.

that could have been seized on prior to invasion? not to prevent loss of weapons in retreat but to advance faster.

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