More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

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HistoryGeek2019
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More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 08 Dec 2019 19:39

What if Germany allocated more panzer divisions to Army Group South in the initial phase of Operation Barbarossa?

Where will these divisions come from?

Three panzer divisions, 1 light division and 1 motorized division did not participate in the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa due to being deployed elsewhere. The Afrika Korps had the 15th Panzer Division and the 5th Light Division. In addition, the 2nd Panzer Division, 5th Panzer Division and 60th Motorized Division were held out of the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa due to needing rest and refit after the campaign in the Balkans.

Thus, a prerequisite to this ATL is that the Balkans campaign does not happen. Suppose Hitler successfully persuades Mussolini not to attack Greece, with the result that Germany doesn't put as much pressure on Yugoslavia to join the Axis, and therefore there is no coup in Yugoslavia.

I would also propose that Germany should have allocated all the mobile units in Fourth Panzer Group in Army Group North to Army Group South. Army Group North did not accomplish any major encirclements, but simply pushed the Soviet Northwestern Front back, closer to its supply lines. It would be in better standing with the German tradition of concentric operations to allocate these divisions to Army Group South, from where they could attempt to encircle the Soviet Southwestern Front in combination with the First Panzer Group.

Fourth Panzer Group had 3 panzer divisions and 1 motorized divisions. Together with the divisions from the Balkans campaign and the Afrika Corps, this would give AGS an extra 6 panzer divisions and 3 motorized divisions on top of the existing 5 panzer divisions and 4 motorized divisions in Kleist's First Panzer Group.

What difference would these divisions make?

These divisions would give AGS the equivalent of a second panzer group. With the right placement and tactics, AGS would now have two panzer groups capable of executing a double envelopment of the Soviet Southwestern Front, which was the largest of the four fronts facing the Heer in June 1941.

What about Army Group North?

Army Group North would have to play a defensive role in the opening phase of Barbarossa, guarding the northern flank of Army Group Center as AGC encircled the Soviet Western Front around Bialystok. We know from the OTL that Stalin ordered all his forces to counter-attack in response to the German invasion, so the Soviet Northwestern Front would attack AGN and the northern flank of Army Group Center. However, this would leave the Soviet Northwestern Front vulnerable to encirclement by Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group if Hoth turned north toward the Baltic after encircling the Soviet Western Front. Just as Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group encircled the Soviet Southwestern Front in the OTL by turning south after the encirclement of Smolensk, Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group would be in a position to encircle the Soviet Northwestern Front in this ATL by turning north after the encirclement of Bialystok. Similarly, AGS could swing a panzer group south to the Black Sea to cut off the Soviet Southern Front along the Romanian border after encircling the Soviet Southwestern Front.

But will this really make any difference in the long-run?

In the OTL, the Germans failed in their objective to destroy the Red Army west of the Dnieper and Dvina rivers. Only the Soviet Western Front was encircled in the OTL, and many of its units managed to escape due to Guderian pushing east rather than sealing the encirclement. This ATL offers the prospect of encircling and destroying all 4 Soviet fronts facing the German/Romanian border in the opening weeks of the campaign. In the OTL, the destruction of the Soviet Southwestern Front at Kiev as late as September 1941 left the Soviets severely understrength and unable to counter Operation Typhoon. This ATL would move the results of September 1941 two months earlier, putting the Germans by early August in a position where they were facing only the Soviet Reserve Front, which in the OTL was able to concentrate on Smolensk but in this ATL would have to cover the entire border with the Axis, which would have been an impossible task. A conservative estimate would have the Germans mopping up the Soviet Reserve Front by the end of August, giving the Germans operational freedom to encircle Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov in September. Knowing Hitler, nothing would satisfy him, so he would order his armies to push even further east in October to try to take Stalingrad and Maikop, which may be a bridge too far, as newly deployed Russian armies in the winter would likely be able to push these forces back.

What about the long-long-run?

Given the poor state of the German economy, Germany would unable to replace its equipment (and manpower) losses from these extensive operations, leaving it militarily in roughly the same weakened state as in the OTL in 1942. The difference would be that the Soviets would be weaker than in the OTL, having lost Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov in 1941 in this ATL. Hitler being Hitler would still drive for the Caucasus in 1942, and given the poor state of German logistics probably would grind to a halt between Grozny and Baku. Stalin would know this was Hitler's plan, but due to Soviet weakness would still have to take most of the summer to rebuild his forces. The end result is that the Germans are still probably encircled at some point along the Volga in late 1942/early 1943, are forced to retreat from the Caucasus, and both sides end up in roughly the same spot in 1943 as in the OTL.

What about the Mediterranean?

Germany sacrifices the Mediterranean in this ATL. Commonwealth forces seize North Africa in 1941. Thus, the Allies can move up their invasion of Italy to 1942, which further weakens Germany's ability to reinforce the eastern front.

Thus, even with this "better plan" for Barbarossa, things end up basically the same for Germany by 1943 or 1944.

EDIT: According to David Glantz in When Titans Clashed, Table B, the Red Army had 2.3 million men deployed along the German/Romanian border and 618 thousand men in the Reserve Front. The Red Army had 2.2 million men deployed in other theaters. The USSR also mobilized 13 new armies in June and July 1941. Given the size of a Russian army of approximately 100,000 men, this would leave the Soviet Union with 1.9 million men (the Reserve Front plus new armies) by the end of July, plus transferred Red Army units from other sectors. In the OTL it took AGC until July 8 to finish the liquidation of the Western Front. For purposes of this ATL, we can assume it would take roughly until the end of July to accomplish the much larger task of eliminating all 4 Soviet Fronts on the border. So at the start of August in this ATL, the Heer would be facing roughly 2-3 million Soviet solders. However, given the poor state of Soviet infrastructure, not all of these men could be deployed neatly along the front, so the Ostheer would be facing substantially less than this directly. This may very well give the Ostheer the operational freedom it so desperately craved to exploit deep into the Russian interior. Perhaps this chance at strategic victory in the east would have been worth whatever price Mussolini would have demanded for staying quiet in the Balkans.
Last edited by HistoryGeek2019 on 09 Dec 2019 05:25, edited 5 times in total.

Richard Anderson
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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Dec 2019 20:20

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Dec 2019 19:39
Thus, a prerequisite to this ATL is that the Balkans campaign does not happen.
To be clear, don't you mean the prerequisite is that the Balkans and African campaigns do not happen? That would have far-reaching consequences for the Mediterranean theater you do not touch on. Such as the complete loss of Italian Cyrenaica and Tripolitania to the British. That is of especial consequence since the Greco-Italian War was initiated by Mussolini on 28 October 1940, after he delayed initial plans for an attack in August based on German entreaties. The problem is that it was German deployments to Romania on 7 October that then spurred Mussolini to attack. So planning for the Balkan campaign to not happen requires Germany not enter Romania, which leads to further complications...no Lehrtruppen in Romania makes it difficult for HG-Süd to execute an attack from Romanian territory after all. It also makes a German presence in Bulgaria extremely unlikely.

So then on 22 June you would have Germany executing BARBAROSSA from East Prussia, Poland, and Hungary with its deep southern flank extremely exposed to British intervention and Hitler's erstwhile Italian ally nursing a grudge against the Germans.
"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: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by MarkN » 08 Dec 2019 20:33

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Dec 2019 19:39
Thus, a prerequisite to this ATL is that the Balkans campaign does not happen.
Italy loses Ethiopia and Eritrea to Platt and Cunningham.
Italy loses Libya to O'Connor.
Italy loses Dodecanese to Smith or somebody else.
Germany loses Romanian oil to Tedder.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 08 Dec 2019 21:15

Richard Anderson wrote:
08 Dec 2019 20:20

To be clear, don't you mean the prerequisite is that the Balkans and African campaigns do not happen? That would have far-reaching consequences for the Mediterranean theater you do not touch on. Such as the complete loss of Italian Cyrenaica and Tripolitania to the British.
I do touch on this. In the final section I wrote, "Germany sacrifices the Mediterranean in this ATL. Commonwealth forces seize North Africa in 1941."
The problem is that it was German deployments to Romania on 7 October that then spurred Mussolini to attack.
Source for this?

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Dec 2019 21:50

Okay, I did miss that. Do you see the problem though? You are essentially accepting an Italian collapse in winter 1940/1941.

James J. Sadkovich, "The Italo–Greek War in Context. Italian Priorities and Axis Diplomacy", Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 439-464.
"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

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 08 Dec 2019 22:05

What exactly does your source say? Wikipedia says that Mussolini was upset that Hitler moved into Romania without notifying him, so he invaded Greece without notifying Hitler. So it's not like a German troop presence in Romania automatically sets off an unstoppable chain reaction that leads to Italy invading Greece in any and all circumstances. It is plausible that Germany and Italy could have come to some sort of arrangement that would have allowed German troops to attack from Romania without involving Greece and Yugoslavia in the war.

I know that my ATL has major deficiencies. I believe I identified all the main ones, and you've raised another good point that getting Mussolini to behave himself would be an uphill battle.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by MarkN » 08 Dec 2019 22:47

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Dec 2019 22:05
What exactly does your source say? Wikipedia says that Mussolini was upset that Hitler moved into Romania without notifying him, so he invaded Greece without notifying Hitler. So it's not like a German troop presence in Romania automatically sets off an unstoppable chain reaction that leads to Italy invading Greece in any and all circumstances.
:roll:
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Dec 2019 22:05
It is plausible that Germany and Italy could have come to some sort of arrangement that would have allowed German troops to attack from Romania without involving Greece and Yugoslavia in the war.
Since this is your own personal fantasy scenario, you make up whatever arrangement between Hitler and Mussolini you want. Plausibility is irrelevant.

Looking back on this forum, what if threads used to be: what happens next if l change this historical event to xyz?

Why are so many ahf what is threads now: if l change this historical event to xyz, have l found the way for the Nazis to rule Europe?

When it is suggested the answer is an almost certain no, the thread becomes: what else do l have to change to get my fantasy scenario to work?

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Dec 2019 01:13

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
08 Dec 2019 22:05
What exactly does your source say?
You can read it for yourself with a JSTOR account.
Wikipedia says that Mussolini was upset that Hitler moved into Romania without notifying him, so he invaded Greece without notifying Hitler. So it's not like a German troop presence in Romania automatically sets off an unstoppable chain reaction that leads to Italy invading Greece in any and all circumstances. It is plausible that Germany and Italy could have come to some sort of arrangement that would have allowed German troops to attack from Romania without involving Greece and Yugoslavia in the war.
Mussolini and the Italian government were already furious at Hitler relegating them to hangers on rather than partners with regards to Poland, Norway, the Low Countries, and France, and on top of that Hitler reneged on his promises (yeah, what a shocker) to supply raw materials and weapons in 1940-1941. Germany and Italy did not collaborate as equal partners in the Balkans, they competed as if enemies. In the fall of 1940 Italy was going to attack Greece and German intervention only delayed that for two months. Given that the historic German intervention in Romania appears to have triggered Mussolini's decision, it is unclear to me why in an alternate world he doing the same thing would not result in the same thing, unless the proverbial dog gets walked back to about, say, 30 August 1939?
I know that my ATL has major deficiencies. I believe I identified all the main ones, and you've raised another good point that getting Mussolini to behave himself would be an uphill battle.
Uphill battle? He wasn't Hitler's dog after all, so I'm not sure Hitler trying to make Mussolini "behave himself" would help?
"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: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 09 Dec 2019 17:48

Richard Anderson wrote:
08 Dec 2019 21:50
James J. Sadkovich, "The Italo–Greek War in Context. Italian Priorities and Axis Diplomacy", Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 439-464.
Interesting article. While the author does identify the German occupation of Romania as the event that triggered the Italian invasion of Greece, he makes it clear that this was only one aspect of a broader problem in German-Italian relations in the early period of the war: Germany was behaving as a "predatory ally intent on appropriating Italy's sphere of influence" and resented Italy's "demand for equal status as an ally." The author squarely pins the problem on Germany: "Berlin continued to fight its own war and to renege on promises to deliver raw materials and weapons in 1940-1."

Thus, for purposes of the ATL, the ball is squarely in Germany's court if it wants to avert war with Greece and Yugoslavia in order to strengthen its invasion of the Soviet Union. It is plausible that a strategically minded, forward thinking leadership in Germany would recognize the danger posed to the Russian invasion by starting a conflict in the Balkans in the months beforehand, and assess that this danger would outweigh whatever benefits would be obtained by seeking to "dominate" the region at Italy's expense. In other words, it is plausible that Germany would have sought greater collaboration with Italy in order to strengthen the campaign against Russia.

Also, the author argues that Italy could have held the British in check if it weren't diverted by the war in Greece and gives substantial figures to back up this claim. So this ATL might actually have improved the situation in North Africa.

The author also agrees with my assessment that the campaign in the Balkans weakened Germany's invasion of Russia.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by MarkN » 09 Dec 2019 18:29

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
09 Dec 2019 17:48
Thus, for purposes of the ATL, the ball is squarely in Germany's court if it wants to avert war with Greece and Yugoslavia in order to strengthen its invasion of the Soviet Union.
Historically it was Germany's decision whether to invade Greece and Yugoslavia or not.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
09 Dec 2019 17:48
It is plausible that a strategically minded, forward thinking leadership in Germany would recognize the danger posed to the Russian invasion by starting a conflict in the Balkans in the months beforehand, and assess that this danger would outweigh whatever benefits would be obtained by seeking to "dominate" the region at Italy's expense.
Plausible?

Your fantasy scenario now requires a completely different civilian leadership in Berlin.

Would a "strategically minded, forward thinking leadership" consider invading Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, la di la di la, and the Soviet Union in the first place?

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2019 01:04

”HistoryGeek2019” wrote: What if Germany allocated more panzer divisions to Army Group South in the initial phase of Operation Barbarossa?
As you know, this is a proposal I strongly endorse through various versions of implementation. I’d suggest a few revisions to your basic plan and I’d also argue that your ATL doesn’t consider fully the implications of what you propose.
Thus, a prerequisite to this ATL is that the Balkans campaign does not happen.
IMO a much better version is that the Balkans campaign happens earlier. Hitler knew by November 1940 at the latest that Mussolini had just ripped open his deep southern flank yet he waited until April 1941 to operate in the theater.

Why did he wait? It seems a combination of two factors: (1) a desire for optimal spring weather rather than a winter campaign and (2) a belief that a few months in Russia was adequate anyways. As I’ve often stated in my ATL’s, an accurate perception of Soviet strength would have compelled Hitler to find an earlier solution to his Balkans problem. That prompts a discussion of how to invade earlier; there are multiple possible solutions.

One is to encourage Mussolini’s August invasion rather than oppose it. Greece and Yugoslavia represented strategic vulnerabilities in Hitler’s rear regardless of what Mussolini does. Another is to send the invasion forces via Albania instead of Bulgaria to begin with, then use the obvious and imminent defeat of Greece to entice Bulgaria into the Tripartite Pact earlier than OTL, thereby enabling an eastern Greece prong of the invasion.

Even if the Greek/Yugoslavian campaign takes 3 months instead of several weeks then the Balkans are pacified by the end of February at the latest given a late-1940 start. That would enable a May Barbarossa, vastly improving chances of success. [I know there's a debate about weather delaying Barbarossa but AFAICS the "swollen rivers" idea comes from a single eavesdropped conversation by a captured general and wasn't supported by others].
The Afrika Korps had the 15th Panzer Division and the 5th Light Division.
There’s a very good argument that only one division should have been sent. It forces Rommel onto the defensive rather than the operationally-spectacular but strategically-pointless Quest For Lots Of Sand (the Suez was commercially/logistically useless with Italy in Libya/Sicily). Sending nothing, however, invites collapse in Libya, which exposes Italy and makes the Suez useful again, thereby freeing up millions of shipping tons. With those additional shipping tons and no Libya, the whole Mediterranean coast is vulnerable in Hitler’s rear. There’s also no need for Torch, which makes a 1943 cross-channel attack a serious threat.
Army Group North would have to play a defensive role in the opening phase of Barbarossa, guarding the northern flank of Army Group Center
Assuming AGN keeps its 21 infantry divisions, I don’t think this is true. The ID’s alone should be able to push the weak Northwest Front back to the Dvina, albeit more slowly than OTL. I agree that Stalin will order offensives in this sector, that they’ll lose, and that the casualty exchange ratio will be worse than OTL in this sector.
this would leave the Soviet Northwestern Front vulnerable to encirclement by Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group if Hoth turned north toward the Baltic after encircling the Soviet Western Front.
Your analogy to Guderian and Southwest Front doesn’t work IMO: There’s no 1st Panzergruppe to meet like at Kiev. You could try to use the Baltic as the second pincer a la the Channel Coast in 1940 but just as there OTL and at Tallinn OTL, the Soviets can evacuate via sea lanes.
Given the poor state of the German economy, Germany would unable to replace its equipment (and manpower) losses from these extensive operations, leaving it militarily in roughly the same weakened state as in the OTL in 1942.
Unable of unwilling? Sure the losses would not be replaced if, as in OTL, Germany raised no useful divisions during Barbarossa and made drastic cuts to its Heer weapons programs from July 1941. Don’t blame that on the state of the German economy, however – blame it on Hitler and the “professionals” who thought planning for an easy victory was a prudent military strategy. It should give you pause to realize that the Ostheer was more numerous, better-equipped, and better-supplied in July 1943 than a year earlier – despite all the disasters of 1942. This was NOT an economic failure; it was the consequence of terrible strategic decisions.

Your southern, resource-focused strategy only makes sense in the context of a longer war. Otherwise it's "take Moscow in September and home by Christmas." Given that strategic change, the economic underpinnings of Barbarossa would inevitably change as well IMO.

You also seem to assume greater losses ATL than OTL. That makes no sense. If Ostheer encircles twice as many in June/July/August than OTL, then there are far fewer forces shooting at Germans. Casualties come from bullets and shells, not from distance travelled. German losses would be significantly lower in this ATL, given the early destruction of more Soviet armies at relatively little cost.
The difference would be that the Soviets would be weaker than in the OTL, having lost Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov in 1941 in this ATL
This is quite a factor to breeze over on the way to concluding it would all work out the same as OTL. IMO you need to do a lot more work to truly understand the consequences of these additional 1941 losses – work which I’m still doing myself re other ATL’s. Some factors you’re skimming over:
  • SU loses ~1/3 of its 1942 industrial base (Moscow and environs, eastern Ukraine and Southern Russia). Just for example, when Voronezh and Stalino (Luhansk) were evacuated in 1942 during Blau, it took close to 10,000 railcars to save not even half the plant and workers. Lose that all plus Moscow in 1941 and you can cut Red Army weapons supply by maybe a third in 1942.
  • SU loses ~30mil more population with attendant cut to workforce supplying the factories with food, transport, raw materials, clothing, electricity, etc.
  • All the areas lost – Moscow region, eastern Ukraine, Southern Russia up to Rostov/Don – are massively productive agriculture regions. The temporary loss of “just” the Blau territories nearly pushed the SU into food collapse by 1943, which arguably only LL aid averted. Add Moscow and large parts of the Volga basin to this equation and by 1942 – when LL aid hasn’t started in full force – you’re looking at either mass starvation or a massive reallocation of labor to food production in less-productive regions of Siberia and Central Asia. Such reallocation, even if possible, would have massive knock-on effects on field strength and war production.
  • Given the foregoing economic/agricultural/demographic losses, it would be optimistic to project Red Army combat strength in 1942 at 75% of the OTL level. That’s like losing the entire Uranus force plus a chunk of the Mars force. Where’s the 1942 Russian resurgence then? The Eastern Front in 1942 was not so hopelessly tilted against the Ostheer that the SU could afford the functional loss of a quarter of its strength.
I don’t hold your views on the 1942/3 ATL battles against you. You’re simply reflecting the prevailing view in mainstream historiography, a view that has been compounded by “revisionist” accounts like Glantz and Stahel emphasizing the strength/competence of the RKKA. It’s good that historians are correcting an impression that the Wehrmacht was uniformly excellent or that the RKKA won simply by dumb force, but the pendulum has swung too far IMO. These were the world’s two strongest armies well into 1945; there’s room to praise them both without pretending that the SU hopelessly outclassed Germany. I’ll have more to say on this in forthcoming threads/posts.
According to David Glantz in When Titans Clashed, Table B, the Red Army had 2.3 million men deployed along the German/Romanian border and 618 thousand men in the Reserve Front.
Glantz’s tables are way off on apples-apples strength comparisons. It was more like 3.6mil Soviet soldiers available to fight the Ostheer on June 22. See http://www.operationbarbarossa.net/wp-c ... tation.pdf

Askey is much more analytical thinker about the Ostfront than Glantz or any other mainstream historian. I highly recommend his books even though I disagree deeply with him (he’s a “take Moscow in 41” guy) and he has lacunae regarding the German economy (he thinks it wasn’t fully mobilized until late in the war. Glantz says the same though; it’s hard to be knowledgeable about everything…).

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Dec 2019 03:26

I agree that Germany had untapped economic potential that it is reasonable to increase in an ATL, but for this ATL I just wanted to show that Germany could have done a lot better in the opening phase of Barbarossa with the same resources it had in the OTL.

My main beef with the OTL strategy was that it sent single panzer groups in the north and south that could only "push back" the Red Army forces opposing them, which went against the primary objective of the opening campaign: to destroy the Red Army west of the Dnieper-Dvina. It's like the OTL campaign was designed to fail in it's primary objective.

I'm skeptical that the Soviet Union could have pulled off a naval evacuation of the Northwestern Front from Lithuania. The distances involved would be much greater than at Dunkirk and the Soviet Union wasn't the naval giant that the UK was. The Germans would have experience from Dunkirk a year earlier and would strike harder to prevent an escape.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2019 04:00

It's like the OTL campaign was designed to fail in it's primary objective.
:thumbsup:

Obviously we agree here so I think the remainder of divergence is on what a German conquest to a line roughly Leningrad-Moscow-Voronezh-Stalingrad-Rostov (Maikop/Grozny?) would mean.

You seem to think it changes little for the SU; I think it means inability to field sufficient forces to stop further advances.
That disagreement underlies all our other disagreements re German prospects for beating the SU and its prospects thereafter.
So I'd appreciate if you addressed - at your leisure - my contention that serious additional territorial losses in 1941 mean an inability to stop the Ostheer in 1942, which means either Stalin and Hitler agree to Bolshevism's retreat behind the Urals or something like the "railway advance" with smallish forces can proceed into the depths of Siberia if so desired (or smallish forces just blockade Asia from the Urals).

I'm going to be adding detail regarding Soviet agricultural/economic/demographic losses in ~your ATL in other threads, so I won't be offended if you withhold judgment until then.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2019 04:03

I'm skeptical that the Soviet Union could have pulled off a naval evacuation of the Northwestern Front from Lithuania.
Ok maybe not from Lithuania to Leningrad but that would imply that Northwest Front holds out in Lithuania while Bock moves hundreds of miles to its rear. Just doesn't seem likely, especially given the enthusiasm with which Northwest Front abandoned Lithuania OTL.

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Re: More Panzer Divisions allocated to Army Group South

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Dec 2019 06:57

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Dec 2019 04:03
I'm skeptical that the Soviet Union could have pulled off a naval evacuation of the Northwestern Front from Lithuania.
Ok maybe not from Lithuania to Leningrad but that would imply that Northwest Front holds out in Lithuania while Bock moves hundreds of miles to its rear. Just doesn't seem likely, especially given the enthusiasm with which Northwest Front abandoned Lithuania OTL.
Northwestern Front was held back from the border in the OTL. IIRC it was mostly behind the Dvina river and counterattacked Panzer Group 4's bridgeheads.

The idea in this ATL is that Stalin would order the Northwestern Front to counterattack the northern flank of AGC, so it would come down from the north and attack all along the German norther flank. Once the pocket around Bialostok is secure, Hoth's panzer group could then swing north in a rapid advance for Riga. Given how slow the Soviets were to respond to every other encirclement in the OTL, I can't see Northwestern Front making a rapid evacuation before the trap is closed. Stalin's MO was to order counterattacks in every situation until it was too late, so whatever forces were available would have tried (and failed) to attack Hoth, while Soviet units in the pocket would have held their ground or continued attacking until the pocket was closed and only then would they belatedly receive permission to try to break out.

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