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 » 06 May 2021 00:00

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:All of his policies, even the decision to invade the Soviet Union, were geared toward the ultimate goal of knocking out Britain.
There is a massive scholarly debate on this topic - whether Hitler always intended to invade SU - that you're either unaware of or have adjudicated yourself. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functiona ... ism_debate

Here's one giant piece of evidence against your position, from Halder's diary, Feb 17, 1941:
Fuehrer's remark about Russia. He is stunned
by the reports on the Russian Air Force. A
conflict is inevitable* Once England is finished, he would not be able to rouse the
German people to a fight against Russia;
consequently Russia would have to be disposed of first.
...so it's very arguable that Hitler used the pretext of war against Britain to engage in war against Russia, rather than war against Russia being part of a war against Britain.

Re our upthread discussion of whether Hitler would have attacked a stronger SU, this is another piece of evidence that Hitler became more resolved to strike east the more he perceived Soviet strength.
I am trying to pin down exactly when and how this POD would occur.
Let me clear then: Increased mobilization over OTL from May/June 1940.

Why? Because after beating France the primary constraint on Hitler's ability to mobilize Germany more intensively disappears - his feeling of political insecurity amidst low war enthusiasm in Germany. After France, Hitler was probably the most popular leader in German history and could have ordered the Germans to do nearly anything without fear of being overthrown.

Keep in mind that this mobilization PoD is distinct from the PoD of Hitler/Halder's subjective view of the SU. The May/June '40 mobilization PoD could feasibly be moved earlier on the grounds that, facing greater external threat, ATL Hitler would have been willing to take greater internal risks by forcing greater mobilization prior to France.
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 » 06 May 2021 02:14

History Learner wrote:If I may suggest a PoD, and I kind of hinted at it last page, why not France fighting on in 1940? No Vichy to worry about then and no incentive to hold back from looting the French
One ATL at a time, even that's difficult to keep straight.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:An earlier POD as originally proposed in this ATL actually makes more sense - that Hitler in the 1930s realizes he needs to focus on building up the army before the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. The question is, what would make him suddenly change his priorities in 1940?
Again, the narrative is:
  • (1) Hitler explicitly concludes prior to May/June '40 what he stated to Goering in June 1941: That the SU was an " ideological enemy of fanatical persistence." He therefore always believes that war against the SU, while winnable, must be prepared on the basis of a multi-year struggle.
  • (2)Hitler balances the external threat of SU against the internal threat of political resistance to higher mobilization, meaning either
    • A. After defeating France, Hitler perceives he has the political capital to increase war mobilization or
    • B. Even prior to France's defeat, Hitler sees the external Soviet threat as sufficient to warrant increased internal risk by forcing higher mobilization from September '39.
2A is the version I am defending in this thread. Both 2A and 2B proceed DIRECTLY from accurate perception of Soviet strength; this is not "a fishing expedition" to find unrelated facts that support the ATL.

Germany was under-mobilized - domestically and as an exploiting occupier - because German leadership did not take the SU seriously as a coherent political regime that could hold Soviet society together for a longer war.

If you have a counterargument directly responsive to that chain of logic, please state it rather than the lazy AHF accusation of hindsight.
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 historygeek2021 » 06 May 2021 05:03

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 May 2021 02:14
History Learner wrote:If I may suggest a PoD, and I kind of hinted at it last page, why not France fighting on in 1940? No Vichy to worry about then and no incentive to hold back from looting the French
One ATL at a time, even that's difficult to keep straight.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:An earlier POD as originally proposed in this ATL actually makes more sense - that Hitler in the 1930s realizes he needs to focus on building up the army before the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. The question is, what would make him suddenly change his priorities in 1940?
Again, the narrative is:
  • (1) Hitler explicitly concludes prior to May/June '40 what he stated to Goering in June 1941: That the SU was an " ideological enemy of fanatical persistence." He therefore always believes that war against the SU, while winnable, must be prepared on the basis of a multi-year struggle.
  • (2)Hitler balances the external threat of SU against the internal threat of political resistance to higher mobilization, meaning either
    • A. After defeating France, Hitler perceives he has the political capital to increase war mobilization or
    • B. Even prior to France's defeat, Hitler sees the external Soviet threat as sufficient to warrant increased internal risk by forcing higher mobilization from September '39.
2A is the version I am defending in this thread. Both 2A and 2B proceed DIRECTLY from accurate perception of Soviet strength; this is not "a fishing expedition" to find unrelated facts that support the ATL.

Germany was under-mobilized - domestically and as an exploiting occupier - because German leadership did not take the SU seriously as a coherent political regime that could hold Soviet society together for a longer war.
I agree it's plausible that Hitler could have ordered a general increase in mobilization after the Fall of France, capitalizing on his immense popularity and secure that his leadership could not be challenged.

Regarding taking the Soviet Union more seriously, it would be good to drill down on (1) why he didn't and (2) what would have induced him to take it more seriously. Some of the historical reasons why Hitler and most of the senior German leadership did not take the Soviet Union seriously that I've come across in my general reading are:

(1) The Red Army's poor performance against Finland
(2) Germany's victory over Russia in the First World War
(3) Racist views of Slavic inferiority
(4) Ideological belief in communist inferiority
(5) General worldwide ignorance of Soviet military capabilities (the US and Britain believed the USSR would be quickly conquered when Barbarossa began).

I'm having trouble thinking of reasons why Hitler might come to view the USSR as a more worthy opponent, given the terrible German intelligence apparatus and the vastly superior Soviet intelligence system. I suppose Hitler could have had a conversation with the German diplomatic staff from Moscow, but it's hard to imagine that alone would make him greatly appreciate the Soviet threat. The only thing that seems to leave is his own intuition/paranoia. In the OTL he was more paranoid about the USA and Britain. What would it have taken to trigger his paranoia toward the Soviet Union?

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 May 2021 06:35

I want to reiterate that, because every ATL requires some PoD, I'm fine with the "black box" of my ATL being an inability to explain why Hitler was so foolish in planning Barbarossa, despite statements such as his quote to Goering ("fanatical persistence"). What might have happened did not happen, after all.

That locates modern world history's hinge at the follies of anti-communism, as both UK and US generally assumed SU would quickly collapse. The US in 1942 realized that such collapse spelled the end of their hopes for European victory (nobody was relying on the A-bomb in '42). The British, I suspect, knew all along that Germany conquering SU nixed any hope of return to Europe but wanted to fight on for a peace that would preserve the Empire and enable them not to make other concessions to Germany later (e.g. reparations). They were happy to drag their allies into that project but the US would have dropped it later on.

Likewise I'd argue that WW2 itself resulted from the follies on anti-communism, specifically Chamberlain's refusal seriously to attempt an SU-inclusive alliance in '39 that would have deterred Hitler completely or destroyed him in a short two-front war.

That reservation aside, the question of why Hitler planned so poorly has additional interest; I don't have a great answer and am happy to continue discussing it. I'd suggest that much of the blame must reside with Halder and OKH who, when Hitler first asked, said Russia could be conquered with as few as 80 divisions. Hitler had plenty of hare-brained military ideas (attacking France in '39); Halder/OKH were able to talk him out of many of them. Yet on Barbarossa the supposedly brilliant German Generals aggravated Hitler's stupidest instincts.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(1) The Red Army's poor performance against Finland
I don't think this is true, at least not uncomplicatedly. From GSWW v.4:
The experience o f the Finnish Winter War seemed to be of more topical
importance: there the Red Army—in contrast to its advance into eastern
Poland, the Romanian territories, and the Baltic countries—had demonstrated
its battle-worthiness
. Intelligence on this was being evaluated by the
Department for Foreign Armies East of the Army General Staff.16 This then was the
overall impression:
• Lack o f initiative and stereotyped operation resulted in losses at the
beginning of the war.
• Accumulation o f large numbers of troops on the Karelian isthmus led to
supply difficulties.
• In an attempt to achieve success primarily by mass employment, the Red
Army failed to assess correctly the effect and applicability of the different
branches; in particular it attached excessive expectations to the performance of armour.
• There was a lack of co-operation between the various branches, especially
in artillery support for advancing infantry and in artillery barrages.
• Attacks in deep waves resulted in heavy losses which only failed to result
in reverses owing to the numerical inferiority of the Finns and the ample
supply of new attacking divisions.

It was found that the course of that war had indicated that the Red Army was
not fully equal to modem requirements, but had recognized its shortcomings
and drawn conclusions from the many lessons it had learnt.
These included
above all the restoration of officers’ undivided power of command, new
directives for the training o f senior leaders, and intensification of troop-training.
...so many in the General Staff saw the Winter War as demonstrating the strength of the Red Army and that it was on a course of improvement.

And they should have! The Winter War showed that Soviet soldiers would fight and die en masse without signs of military breakdown - that alone should have proved to Halder that a few hard knocks would not cause RKKA's collapse even if defeated operationally.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(2) Germany's victory over Russia in the First World War
Certainly a factor and appropriately so. Germany should have beat Russia in both wars given the fundamentals but Hitler/Halder should have noticed it took 3 years in the last war, not 6 weeks. Furthermore, Germany had accurate intelligence that Soviet soldiers would be better than Czarist:
Köstring emphasized that the ‘generally tough,
undemanding, willing, and brave soldier’ was no longer the ‘good moujik’
familiar from the First World War; there had been a cultural improvement and
a rise in intelligence. GSWW v.4
...this would prove true; RKKA had a better bloody-casualty exchange ratio in WW2 than Czarist armies did in WW1.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(3) Racist views of Slavic inferiority
Undoubtedly a factor but again, Poles and Yugoslavs were also Slavic. Hitler took Poland sufficiently seriously to commit >70% of the Heer against Poland and leave himself vulnerable in the West. When he invaded Yugoslavia, he expected a bitter battle on the Serbian plateau.

So racism alone can't explain expecting to beat the SU so easily.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(4) Ideological belief in communist inferiority
I'm proposing this as the central factor, certainly for the inexplicable stupidity within OKH.

But again there's that Hitler quote to Goering ("fanatical persistence"). Hitler and the old-guard Nazis had years of bloody street battles with communists; they knew nothing about being communist made one soft.

The invasion's actual approach sharpened Hitler's thinking and made him question the assumptions underlying Fall Barbarossa, whereas Halder was still telling himself the Soviets were out of reserves months into the battle.

My tentative conclusion is that Hitler lost because he listened to his generals. Franz Halder saved the Eastern Hemisphere and is perhaps the most consequentially incompetent officer in military history.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(5) General worldwide ignorance of Soviet military capabilities (the US and Britain believed the USSR would be quickly conquered when Barbarossa began).
True enough but, as the quotes from GSWW v.4 show, Germany had insight into RKKA that the western democracies lacked: access to experience from its Finnish ally (shown in the quotes above), up-close observation of RKKA's march into Poland, direct info from Kostring in Moscow. Stalin allowed Kostring to visit military factories (including T-34) whereas US/UK relations with SU were hostile at this point and I doubt they had such access.

Individuals within the General Staff made the proper analytical conclusions from this evidence; Halder apparently ignored it all.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:given the terrible German intelligence
Try going back to GSWW v.4's section IV(1)(a) "The Red Army in the Judgement of the Army High Command after September 1939." IMO there's plenty on which to form the correct opinion there.

On GerDocsinRussia and in the archives I've found other material, such as this document that concludes RKKA would be a formidable foe when defending against invasion.

------------------
TMP bookmark: German intelligence on RKKA pre-Barbarossa
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 » 06 May 2021 07:35

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:I'm having trouble thinking of reasons why Hitler might come to view the USSR as a more worthy opponent
With the repeated proviso that this comes down to the mistake of a single man, but with the corollary that we need a psychological rather than systemic explanation...

As much as I find counterfactual analysis helpful in history and everywhere else (especially in legal work), I have never read more than a few pages of alternate history novels and always find them trashy. That said, were I to write a trashy novel for this ATL its PoD would go something like this:
The victory over France put Hitler in a mood to celebrate but he couldn't relax amidst the starchy Prussian generals and over-educated bureaucrats hounding the Chancellery. By 1940 the only people around whom Hitler could relax and be his true self were the "Alte Kaempfer" - old guard Nazis who came up with him in the bloody days battling communists and other leftists on the streets of Weimar Munich.

In late June, with the ink on the armistice barely dry, Hitler surprised his nearest officials and generals by announcing he was going to Berchtesgaden for a week and none of them were invited. Only the Old Fighters would meet him there; they'd celebrate his greatest triumph in the style he most liked: everybody else drinking too much beer and telling old stories; Hitler drinking only the unalloyed admiration that these street thugs gave him and that his condescending generals denied.

One of those nights likely changed the course of history: An Old Fighter was recalling a particularly brutal battle in which he and some others had beaten to death a young union organizer. Shards of the dead boy's broken teeth were still stuck in his swollen fist a week later, he laughed. "All communists must die," said the Old Fighter, "but they didn't die easy." The gang guffawed and drank deeply all around; Hitler sank into quiet contemplation and then steamed over with rage.

"Stalin must die," Hitler thought to himself, "but he wouldn't die easy!" Hadn't that desk jockey Halder told him, when he asked in passing, that half his army would conquer Russia in a few weeks? And hadn't Hitler let himself be fooled by this man who had never really fought, who had always been a staff officer just like his father? Those Prussian generals would ruin Germany if he let them. Hitler thanked the gathering for coming, telling them they were the true strength of the German people and had once again saved Germany from Jews and Communists. He then retired to his office and began dictating official memoranda. From those memoranda came the directives that mobilized Germany's economy even greater than before, enlarged the army and its mechanized forces, and likely sealed Hitler's victory in the East. Halder never forgot the humiliating lecture Hitler gave him; neither did the rest of the officers who heard its retelling in the ensuing days. As Germany prepared for its eastern war, everyone worked towards the Fuehrer's vision of maximal effort in Barbarossa, knowing they'd be similarly disgraced otherwise.
TMP bookmark: trashy novel
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 historygeek2021 » 06 May 2021 17:36

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 May 2021 06:35
I want to reiterate that, because every ATL requires some PoD, I'm fine with the "black box" of my ATL being an inability to explain why Hitler was so foolish in planning Barbarossa, despite statements such as his quote to Goering ("fanatical persistence"). What might have happened did not happen, after all.

That locates modern world history's hinge at the follies of anti-communism, as both UK and US generally assumed SU would quickly collapse. The US in 1942 realized that such collapse spelled the end of their hopes for European victory (nobody was relying on the A-bomb in '42). The British, I suspect, knew all along that Germany conquering SU nixed any hope of return to Europe but wanted to fight on for a peace that would preserve the Empire and enable them not to make other concessions to Germany later (e.g. reparations). They were happy to drag their allies into that project but the US would have dropped it later on.

Likewise I'd argue that WW2 itself resulted from the follies on anti-communism, specifically Chamberlain's refusal seriously to attempt an SU-inclusive alliance in '39 that would have deterred Hitler completely or destroyed him in a short two-front war.

That reservation aside, the question of why Hitler planned so poorly has additional interest; I don't have a great answer and am happy to continue discussing it. I'd suggest that much of the blame must reside with Halder and OKH who, when Hitler first asked, said Russia could be conquered with as few as 80 divisions. Hitler had plenty of hare-brained military ideas (attacking France in '39); Halder/OKH were able to talk him out of many of them. Yet on Barbarossa the supposedly brilliant German Generals aggravated Hitler's stupidest instincts.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(1) The Red Army's poor performance against Finland
I don't think this is true, at least not uncomplicatedly. From GSWW v.4:
The experience o f the Finnish Winter War seemed to be of more topical
importance: there the Red Army—in contrast to its advance into eastern
Poland, the Romanian territories, and the Baltic countries—had demonstrated
its battle-worthiness
. Intelligence on this was being evaluated by the
Department for Foreign Armies East of the Army General Staff.16 This then was the
overall impression:
• Lack o f initiative and stereotyped operation resulted in losses at the
beginning of the war.
• Accumulation o f large numbers of troops on the Karelian isthmus led to
supply difficulties.
• In an attempt to achieve success primarily by mass employment, the Red
Army failed to assess correctly the effect and applicability of the different
branches; in particular it attached excessive expectations to the performance of armour.
• There was a lack of co-operation between the various branches, especially
in artillery support for advancing infantry and in artillery barrages.
• Attacks in deep waves resulted in heavy losses which only failed to result
in reverses owing to the numerical inferiority of the Finns and the ample
supply of new attacking divisions.

It was found that the course of that war had indicated that the Red Army was
not fully equal to modem requirements, but had recognized its shortcomings
and drawn conclusions from the many lessons it had learnt.
These included
above all the restoration of officers’ undivided power of command, new
directives for the training o f senior leaders, and intensification of troop-training.
...so many in the General Staff saw the Winter War as demonstrating the strength of the Red Army and that it was on a course of improvement.

And they should have! The Winter War showed that Soviet soldiers would fight and die en masse without signs of military breakdown - that alone should have proved to Halder that a few hard knocks would not cause RKKA's collapse even if defeated operationally.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(2) Germany's victory over Russia in the First World War
Certainly a factor and appropriately so. Germany should have beat Russia in both wars given the fundamentals but Hitler/Halder should have noticed it took 3 years in the last war, not 6 weeks. Furthermore, Germany had accurate intelligence that Soviet soldiers would be better than Czarist:
Köstring emphasized that the ‘generally tough,
undemanding, willing, and brave soldier’ was no longer the ‘good moujik’
familiar from the First World War; there had been a cultural improvement and
a rise in intelligence. GSWW v.4
...this would prove true; RKKA had a better bloody-casualty exchange ratio in WW2 than Czarist armies did in WW1.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(3) Racist views of Slavic inferiority
Undoubtedly a factor but again, Poles and Yugoslavs were also Slavic. Hitler took Poland sufficiently seriously to commit >70% of the Heer against Poland and leave himself vulnerable in the West. When he invaded Yugoslavia, he expected a bitter battle on the Serbian plateau.

So racism alone can't explain expecting to beat the SU so easily.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(4) Ideological belief in communist inferiority
I'm proposing this as the central factor, certainly for the inexplicable stupidity within OKH.

But again there's that Hitler quote to Goering ("fanatical persistence"). Hitler and the old-guard Nazis had years of bloody street battles with communists; they knew nothing about being communist made one soft.

The invasion's actual approach sharpened Hitler's thinking and made him question the assumptions underlying Fall Barbarossa, whereas Halder was still telling himself the Soviets were out of reserves months into the battle.

My tentative conclusion is that Hitler lost because he listened to his generals. Franz Halder saved the Eastern Hemisphere and is perhaps the most consequentially incompetent officer in military history.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:(5) General worldwide ignorance of Soviet military capabilities (the US and Britain believed the USSR would be quickly conquered when Barbarossa began).
True enough but, as the quotes from GSWW v.4 show, Germany had insight into RKKA that the western democracies lacked: access to experience from its Finnish ally (shown in the quotes above), up-close observation of RKKA's march into Poland, direct info from Kostring in Moscow. Stalin allowed Kostring to visit military factories (including T-34) whereas US/UK relations with SU were hostile at this point and I doubt they had such access.

Individuals within the General Staff made the proper analytical conclusions from this evidence; Halder apparently ignored it all.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:given the terrible German intelligence
Try going back to GSWW v.4's section IV(1)(a) "The Red Army in the Judgement of the Army High Command after September 1939." IMO there's plenty on which to form the correct opinion there.

On GerDocsinRussia and in the archives I've found other material, such as this document that concludes RKKA would be a formidable foe when defending against invasion.

------------------
TMP bookmark: German intelligence on RKKA pre-Barbarossa
Thanks TMP. Another factor I thought of is the endurance of the Poles in defending Warsaw in 1939, who held out for 3 weeks despite a hopeless situation. If Hitler thinks about this as representative of people in the east, contrasts it with the French (who were "too fond of easy living" and surrendered Paris without a fight), then extrapolates it over the vast territory of the Soviet Union, then he might have an inkling of what the German army was in for in Russia.

Going back to the effects of an extra panzer group in Barbarossa, it looks like we get something like this in the opening stage of the campaign:
1 extra Panzer Group Barbarossa.png
This would result in the elimination of the Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies in the opening weeks of the campaign, with the result that the 16th and 19th armies cannot be transferred from Kiev to Smolensk, with the further result that Panzer Groups 2 and 3 aren't as severely bloodied there as in the OTL. The situation in early July looks something like this:
ATL situation July 1941.png
Both maps are from Glantz's Barbarossa.

The main question then is: how does the Soviet Union respond? Does Stalin continue to order endless and hopeless counter-attacks in order to slow down the German advance and give themselves time to mobilize? It seems the Red Army would lack the strength to do this, with the Red Army significantly weaker in both the south and the center. Might then Stalin order a withdraw farther into the interior of the Soviet Union, in order to stop the bloodletting? That would go against his nature as indicated in the OTL, but he might not have any choice.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 06 May 2021 17:58

Thinking about this further, both Kiev and Smolensk probably fall at some point in late July, with less intense fighting than the OTL, preserving more of the strength of the panzer groups. That would leave Army Group North as the weak part of the German offensive. Hitler would order Panzer Group 3 to go all out to assist Army Group North, and it could do so earlier than in the OTL, with the result that Leningrad is probably surrounded 2-3 weeks earlier than in the OTL, so around August 20, and a link up with the Finns occurs shortly thereafter. Meanwhile Army Group South would have been free to make further exploits in the Ukraine, and Odessa might even fall months earlier than the OTL.

All of this puts the OstHeer in position to launch an offensive against Moscow by September 1, only this time it can come over a much broader area with 4 panzer groups, leaving 1 panzer group in the south to head for Rostov. Moscow almost certainly falls before the fall mud, and that leaves the question of whether the Soviets can still launch a counter-attack in winter ...

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

Post by historygeek2021 » 06 May 2021 20:14

Below is a rough sketch of the Soviet armies that might be destroyed before the fall muddy season in this ATL:
1 more panzer ATLa.png

Green = destroyed in initial border battles
Red = destroyed in July Smolensk/Kiev encirclements
Blue = destroyed in subsequent flank clearing operations
Yellow = destroyed in attack on Leningrad and further exploitation by Army Group South
Purple = destroyed in final attack on Moscow/Rostov

By my count, that leaves 24 Soviet armies still alive when winter comes. That's probably not enough for a serious counter-attack, but it might be enough, combined with reinforcements in 1942, for Stalin to fight a delaying/defensive war until the Allies invade western Europe.

Which leads into the next consideration: Planning for a 2 year campaign in Russia leaves open the possibility that the Allies rush an invasion of France in 1942 in order to save the Soviet Union. Or, even if they don't, the possibility of long-term defeat in an air war with the Allies as discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=253448

The reason that the war in the east will be prolonged into 1942 is the same reason as in the OTL - the OstHeer isn't strong enough to rapidly advance and conduct encirclements all along the front, because in this ATL Army Group North is still too weak on its own and requires Army Group Center to pause its advance on Moscow to help Army Group North.

If Hitler is really paranoid about both the USSR and the western Allies, then he will demand enough panzer divisions to allow Army Group North to advance on its own, that way all 3 army groups can conduct a rapid eastward advance without having to stop to help each other. Then, maybe, the Soviet Union is so severely damaged in 1941 that Germany can turn to air production in time to defend itself against the western Allies.

Side note (or should I say, historygeek bookmark :lol: ): Army Group North would be the easiest sector in which to support additional panzer divisions logistically, by carrying supplies across the Baltic. Army Group South had the worst infrastructure of the 3 sectors in the eastern front and therefore would have the hardest time supporting extra panzer divisions (but they could still probably make it to Kiev before that became a real issue).
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 May 2021 22:16

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:The situation in early July looks something like this:
Or like this for July and August. I don't think we differ fundamentally here, especially given the uncertainty in this kind of "prognostication."

Image

Image

Note that prewar Soviet planning expected the main German thrust to come in Ukraine - thus SWF being the strongest and the reserve armies grouping (16,19, 21 with strong mechanized corps) being concentrated around Kiev. That's why I think Stavka responds by committing most or all of these forces to the Galicia battle and I could see some of these being trapped in the Galicia pocket. The Germans will, after all, have committed their strongest forces in Ukraine as foreseen.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:That would leave Army Group North as the weak part of the German offensive.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:in this ATL Army Group North is still too weak on its own and requires Army Group Center to pause its advance on Moscow to help Army Group North.
IMJ you're not considering the front-wide, strategic implications of the massive ATL Kessels in Ukraine (not just one kessel there). These additional losses prevent RKKA being as strong as OTL versus AGN. By August, RKKA is ~30% weaker.

If you look at my early August front line in the "Stage 3" map, AGN's front is as far east as anyone else's. AGN didn't really need any help until OTL latter August when its advance started to stall around the Luga line. Here, RKKA doesn't have the strength to reinforce the L'grad axis as strongly as OTL, meaning PzGr4 can probably lunge to Schlusselberg in early August without help from AGC. Then it waits for the ID's to catch up and lunges for the Svir. The Finns will also face weaker resistance so can meet up with AGN no later than early September. Events will have outrun the need for Hitler's flank diversions, leaving AGC free to do Taifun in August.

On AGC's right flank, AGS's "Gornostaipol option" clears 2nd Army's opposition, enabling it move up to something like its OTL October line. Combined with the AGS mechanized units that went the Gornostaipol route, it can do the Bryansk portion of Taifun in August as well.

This sequence of moves achieves simultaneous clearing of AGC's flank and reinforcement of AGC for the Moscow drive. So unlike OTL, the Gornostaipol option will work with Halder's preferred approach rather than against it.

With that setup, Moscow falls during September and Gorkiy in October. AGS reaches the Don between Voronezh and Rostov no later than November. AGN, after joining the Finns, pushes towards Lake Onega to completely free the Finnish army from everything but taking Belomorsk. They therefore can't dissemble to Hitler about whether they're trying to cut the Murmansk railway and are forced to choose between openly defying America and Germany. I'd assume they'd choose to defy America but even if not, AGN can redeploy northwards and take Belomorsk itself.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:rough sketch of the Soviet armies that might be destroyed before the fall muddy season in this ATL
It's a useful graphic but Ostheer force destruction won't be limited to destroying complete armies via grand operational maneuvers, nor will those maneuvers be limited to pre-Rasputitsa. Why?

As I'm discussing elsewhere, Ostheer captured thousands of PoW/day when advancing, even absent Kessels. Its rate of non-Kessel ("tactical") PoW's accelerated in October/November during what seems to be the obvious low point of Soviet morale in the entire war (post-Taifun, Moscow looked doomed to fall, the citizenry panicked and civil order broke down). During the muddy season, Ostheer will continue to push east and will bag at least tactical PoW.

After the muddy season, Ostheer will resume the maneuver offensive at least partially. I posit doing Blau III/IV (Stalingrad and Caucasus) no later than January, which gives ~4 months for Ostheer to have rebuilt enough rail infrastructure in Ukraine to support an advance from the Don. That offensive should come with additional Kessels and with non-Kessel PoW's.

I've started a rudimentary spreadsheet for this analysis. The model is simple but at this level the quantitative analysis already outstrips our ability to talk about it efficiently. Basically more PoW in June/July means fewer Ostheer casualties in July/August, which means...

As you can see, RKKA having lost >1mil more by October would mean hardly anything left by November given OTL force generation. For that reason, I assume that Stalin draws more heavily on Siberia than OTL, risking war with Japan. IMO Japan wasn't going to attack in '41 anyways so this is probably feasible. In addition, I have to assume that Stalin would either have committed some reserve armies with even less training than OTL and/or would have had to raise additional improvised militia forces.

The model gives these under-trained and militia forces a discount to their nominal strength for casualty infliction. I used 20%, which seems very conservative.

In addition, by OTL October RKKA was already running out of heavy weapons (artillery) and even machine guns and machine pistols. Thus its new rifle divisions had TOE's with reduced allotments of these weapons and couldn't even meet those reduced TOE's (Askey has good discussion of this). In this ATL, equipment losses will have been far worse. As a result, the model applies another discount to combat strength vs. nominal personnel strength. I maxed this discount at 10%, which seems extremely conservative.

Note that the model so far assumes OTL force generation, which, given earlier losses of population and industrial centers, is generous.

The model so far only applies greater PoW hauls; it doesn't account for the fact that Ostheer would be killing/wounding more RKKA than OTL due to greater initial forces and lower monthly losses.

So while the model currently projects Ostheer being ~300k stronger than OTL by April '42, that's extremely conservative.

(aside - I calculate Ostheer's recuperated replacement flow via 10% of WIA for the preceding six months. Per Askey, 60% of German wounded were back with their units within 6 months. This ensures a more realistic estimation of ATL Ostheer strength than simply subtracting casualties. Because I've used the lowest bound for OTL Ostheer casualties - OKH's 10-day reports which seem to have been an undercount - the model probably underestimates ATL:OTL Ostheer strength differential).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Planning for a 2 year campaign in Russia leaves open the possibility that the Allies rush an invasion of France in 1942 in order to save the Soviet Union. Or, even if they don't, the possibility of long-term defeat in an air war with the Allies as discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=253448
For now I'll politely decline your jump ahead to the air war. ;)

Re '42 European landing (Sledgehammer), I just can't see it happening and if it does it's a war-losing disaster. By my very conservative modelling, Ostheer should be ~300k stronger in May '42 than OTL. SU will be down to ~60% of OTL May '42 population and therefore RKKA will be ~40% weaker than OTL. If that proportion is applied evenly across field armies and internal military districts, that gives only ~3.3mil facing Ostheer in May '42 (versus 5.5mil OTL). But that assumes Stalin would be comfortable with only ~600k facing Japan, which invites disaster in Primorskiye.

Ostheer is not only more numerous, it also benefits from higher-than-OTL production and its maintenance over '41 rather than OTL army production collapse. It would be conservative, IMJ, to give ATL Ostheer a 10% combat power edge per-man versus OTL based on better equipment.

Combining these factors, the real force ratio on Eastern Front (manpower * combat effectiveness/equipment factors) would be >2x more favorable to Ostheer than OTL:
  • OTL: ~2.6mil vs. 5.5mil
  • ATL: 2.9mil * (1.1 equipment factor) vs. 3.3mil
In that condition, there is not a snowball's chance of RKKA stopping Ostheer in '42. The W.Allies would roughly know this fact - they were estimating Soviet war-making potential by its territorial losses and, in this ATL, know the RKKA is weak based on these losses. So I don't think they try a landing, given that Britain was too scared of landing in OTL '42's far more favorable conditions.

If the W.Allies do land, Ostheer can still push to the Urals and incapacitate RKKA while containing and later destroying the few divisions that W.Allies could have fielded.

In fact, my broader ATL will specify Hitler taking Malta in early '42 (1 or 2 German divisions employed) while holding 3 or so panzer divisions back from Ostheer to send to Rommel after Malta falls. If the W.Allies land in France, Rommel's future divisions immediately destroy them with the OTL forces in France. This isn't hindsight, btw. OTL the forces sent to Tunisia were defending France until the W.Allies landed in Africa. ATL that scheme is merely stronger.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Army Group South had the worst infrastructure of the 3 sectors in the eastern front
Agreed but ATL logistics are different.

Please allow me to explain (in subsequent discussion, time allowing) before you interject with the "clairvoyance about water stations" or similar. :D I know that's your view, I have thoughts/research directly bearing on the issue.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 06 May 2021 22:35, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 May 2021 22:29

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Might then Stalin order a withdraw farther into the interior of the Soviet Union, in order to stop the bloodletting?
Wanted to address this separately. It's not a viable option IMO (also ISO).

Evacuation is perhaps the biggest factor: is SU going to abandon its weapons plants? At least as important is worker evacuation: absent the skilled labor force taken from Ukraine and elsewhere, revived production is impossible.

The Germans were correct in judging D-D line as the limit of Soviet territorial flexibility. Once there, Kharkov, Donbas, L'grad and countless other valuable points are within truck-logistics distance of the river line. As the Border Battles eat up most of pre-DD zone anyway, there's very little room for Stalin rationally to retreat before taking disastrously early personnel/plant losses.

Plus the question of Soviet collapse becomes a live issue here. It was not unreasonable for Germany to expect Soviet collapse; it was only only unreasonable to assume it. Millions of Soviet citizens and soldiers judged fighting for Stalin unwise OTL and collaborated/surrendered. If RKKA is just abandoning important parts of the country, that dynamic increases.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 07 May 2021 18:38

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:In 1940 Petain was still firmly in charge and got rid of Laval for cozying up to the Germans
I put a pin in this earlier, meaning to ensure that this once-unquestioned perversion of history by Petain's right-wing allies doesn't persist. From Julian Jackson's France: The Dark Years, 1940-44:
After the war, Pétain’s defenders claimed that he had favoured a
minimalist policy of involuntary collaboration, while Laval had pursued
voluntary collaboration. They presented Laval’s dismissal on 13 December
1940 as a repudiation of collaboration, one even alleging that this was an
event as grave for Hitler as the loss of a battle.5 One of the many
achievements of Robert Paxton is to have established that this was
completely untrue...The line between voluntary and involuntary State collaboration did not
run between Pétain and Laval: they both believed that Germany had won
the war and Britain would soon surrender.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 May 2021 19:30

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
07 May 2021 18:38
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:In 1940 Petain was still firmly in charge and got rid of Laval for cozying up to the Germans
I put a pin in this earlier, meaning to ensure that this once-unquestioned perversion of history by Petain's right-wing allies doesn't persist. From Julian Jackson's France: The Dark Years, 1940-44:
After the war, Pétain’s defenders claimed that he had favoured a
minimalist policy of involuntary collaboration, while Laval had pursued
voluntary collaboration. They presented Laval’s dismissal on 13 December
1940 as a repudiation of collaboration, one even alleging that this was an
event as grave for Hitler as the loss of a battle.5 One of the many
achievements of Robert Paxton is to have established that this was
completely untrue...The line between voluntary and involuntary State collaboration did not
run between Pétain and Laval: they both believed that Germany had won
the war and Britain would soon surrender.
Interesting. I'll have to look into that further.

As an aside, I find it amusing that so much of our "knowledge" about WW2 comes from British authors. What do the French have to say about this?

Edit: Guess they're not too happy :lol:
Upon the book's publication in French translation in 1973, Paxton became the subject of intense vitriol from French historians and commentators. During a televised debate with Paxton in 1976, the Vichy naval leader Gabriel Auphan called him a liar.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Paxton

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

Post by David Thompson » 07 May 2021 22:29

historygeek2021 -- Please stay on topic.

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

Post by historygeek2021 » 08 May 2021 00:38

David Thompson wrote:
07 May 2021 22:29
historygeek2021 -- Please stay on topic.
I responded directly to a point made by themarcksplan. He raised a point made by Robert Paxton, and I responded that French historians disagreed with Paxton.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 May 2021 02:28

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:[increased German labor recruitment from France] wasn't even a German promulgation/decree to institute labor conscription in France. It was a French law pushed through by Pierre Laval on September 4, 1942,
Actually obligatory labor service (STO) in Germany wasn't passed until February '43. Prior to STO, Sauckel was able to extract 250k workers from France in late '42 through pressure alone. From France, the Dark Years by Julian Jackson:
These tiny concessions were nothing compared to the new burdens which
France had to bear. The occupation costs were raised to 25 million
Reichsmark. Sauckel pressed relentlessly for more French workers to be
sent to Germany. In January 1943, no sooner had the first quota been
fulfilled than he demanded another 250,000 by March. To meet these
demands, Laval was forced on 16 February to introduce Compulsory
Labour Service (STO) conscripting all young men born between 1920 and
1922 to work in Germany (apart from some exempted categories like
miners, peasants, and police).
Note the occupation costs issue: until 1942 Germany had billions of Franks sitting in its occupation account because it couldn't spend enough in France. As a result, in 1941 the recurring occupation payment was reduced. Hitler could have used these funds to provide incentives to French workers and/or to German firms for increased recruitment (i.e. cover half of firms' labor costs out of the occupation account).

Were it perceived necessary to trade labor against other benefits to France, an easy step would have been to stop the deportations from Lorraine (>100k in '40-'41). This was the explosive issue of the early occupation period; a Hitler focused on exploiting France for war against Russia could have put the long-term ethnic cleansing goal on the backburner. Indeed he stopped the deportations later so it wasn't an overriding priority for him.

TMP bookmark: French labor in early occupation period
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