The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by per70 » 08 Apr 2021 22:35

As a sidenote, a quick count gives me 34 German divisions in contact with SWF + 21st Army on Sep 1 (31 ID, 2 PzD, 1 MotD and 1 CD).
And another 20 Axis divisions (9 ID, 5 PzD *, 3 MotD, 3 Axis Div) resting/redeploying.
(* although parts of 9th and 13th Pz division fighting at Dnepropetrovsk).

Removing XXIV AK (mot) from the equation could still leave the SWF facing about 50 divisions by mid-September
Including a mostly rested 1st PzGr. That would be a tough fight.

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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 12 Apr 2021 20:45

A few additional considerations on the Moscow vs Kiev choice for the Germans in August 1941:

1. By going for Moscow, the Germans risk not taking Kharkov in 1941. Kharkov was a major industrial and mining center, so claims about what the USSR's economy would suffer with the loss of Moscow need to add back in what they would have retained over the OTL by keeping Kharkov.

2. Soviet industrial efficiency increased dramatically during the war. According to Mark Harrison in The Soviet Union at War, 1941–1945, by 1943 Soviet industry was delivering weapons to the Red Army at 60 per cent of the average unit costs of 1940. Thus, claims about reduction in Soviet output through the loss of Moscow need to factor in improvements in Soviet production efficiency during the war.

3. Regarding the loss of railroads due to the loss of Moscow, consider that the USSR had become incredibly efficient at managing its railroads by the time of the war, achieving far greater tonnage per kilometer of railroad than any other country. This efficiency extended to their single track railroads. There are very good posts on this topic here: viewtopic.php?p=1846964#p1846964

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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2021 20:05

”KDF33” wrote: You are reading far too much into a throwaway line by Glantz.

Agreed. Even were Leningrad down to a single railway line, Russian railway practice enabled extremely high throughput per line, albeit at higher labor cost:
Despite the uneven development of the network, the USSR had some of the most intensively used track in the world: In 1930 it had 1,738,000 ton-km per km compared to 1,608,000 for the United States. This was achieved by running the railway at a low uniform speed (29 km/hour in 1934), which eliminated delays from trains overtaking one another, reduced track wear, and allowed large numbers of trains to be run on the same stretch of track with primitive signaling.

More importantly, the “only one line to Leningrad absent Moscow” argument is demonstrably false despite its frequent repetition (by Askey most recently). If we look at the detailed map of the Gorkiy-area railways, we see a connection between the Gorkiy-Moscow mainline and the railway immediately north:

Image
(connection circled in red)

Zooming back out to the SU-wide railway map, this connection is not included on the larger map – it’s too small for that scale. This has perhaps misled some folks. With the connection, there’s a second railway route to Leningrad that avoids Moscow:

Image
(translucent red line over the Gorkiy-Leningrad alternate route)

Of course if we blithely consider the “Moscow-Gorkiy area” a small area to be conquered in one lunge (as Askey is wont to do), this doesn’t matter. Gorkiy and Smolensk are about equidistant from Moscow; it’s more like 2 lunges from Moscow.
”History Learner” wrote: To quote from Askey [“a third of mobilized divisions came from the Moscow-Gorkiy area”]:
I have bought all of Askey’s books (not cheap!) and appreciate his work, which is usually rigorously analytical and quantitative. That said, the portion about mobilization from Moscow-Gorkiy (again a large area!) seems flippant. The SU mobilized population as it appeared threatened:: in rear areas leave men in the factories; in threatened areas call them up. Here, for example, is a GKO decree of October 15 ordering all Moscow military reserves <45 to be mobilized, with the effort to be completed by October 18. Had Vyazma occurred earlier, this order would have issued earlier and (most of) Moscow’s military manpower would have been drafted sooner.

Even if we concede that all recruits from divisions mobilized in M-G originated from M-G (surely false), there’s nothing preventing the SU from moving the mob centers had the Germans started rolling farther east on that axis. This is a country, after all, that moved millions of people and billions in capital stock over thousands of miles. To suppose that the SU couldn’t have moved thousands of mobilizing soldiers a few hundred miles east reads as facially absurd.

By Askey’s own writing, the SU lost 500,000 mobilizing reservists in June/July but few thereafter: STAVKA learned its lesson and stopped putting mob centers in the Ostheer’s immediate path. Why Askey implies they’d unlearn that lesson in September I can’t imagine.

I’ve been meaning to email Askey about the issue…

”HistoryGeek2021” wrote: In late August 1941, German Panzer Group 2 under Heinz Guderian began its drive south from the Smolensk region toward Kiev, where the Soviet Southwestern Front occupied a salient between German Army Group Center and Army Group South. At the same time, Panzer Group 1 under Ewald von Kleist was driving north across the Dnepr River from the southeast of Kiev.
I’ve said elsewhere that there’s enormous potential contingency in failure to evacuate Kiev. But before getting to a serious ATL discussion, we have to get basic facts right. Misconceptions about the Kiev battle (which I recently shared) influence both your OP ATL and subsequent thread discussions of early Moscow.

First, Kleist did not cross the Dniepr until September 11*:

Image
*except at Dnipropetrovsk, which isn’t what we’re discussing.

14th and 48th Motorized Corps were pulled out and resting/refitting in the Dniepr Bend by no later than September 1 (again, 3rd MC was engaged in its bridgehead).

Second, the PzGr2 formed primarily the outer wing of a multi-layered and multi-pocket encirclement. Here’s an OKH map from Sept. 20:

Image


Third, the encirclement was multi-layered because 6th Army’s left wing had already broken through over the Desna by September 10th (at its Gornostaipol-Oster bridgehead), after which infantry forces encircled Kiev and its defenders largely on their own:

Image

One can read Stahel and completely miss this element. Why? Because he’s (too) focused on the panzer groups, as he says on page 8 of Kiev, 1941:
As with my preceding volume this study will concentrate predominantly on the two panzer groups that combined to enact the encirclement of the Soviet South-Western Front (Panzer Groups I and 2).
Nowhere in Kiev 1941 does Stahel mention Gornostaipol. In fact, he mentions the infantry armies’ advance from their bridgeheads only summarily:
“By contrast, the typically less mobile infantry of the Second and Sixth Armies was managing to force multiple bridgeheads across the Desna.5” p.182
Wait what? Seems like a book on Kiev would want to analyze how that happened… Thank god some of the archives are digitized and I was able to research the issue myself.

Stahel’s lack of attention to 80% of the Ostheer causes him not to see or understand the ways in which Germany’s infantry armies were highly formidable in themselves, possessing mobility and capabilities far beyond the largely static Soviet infantry armies. In large encirclement battles like Uman, Bryansk, Azov Sea, and Blau I, the infantry armies conducted their own breakthroughs and met a panzer group to effect encirclements. Of course it is true that their ability to do so was more limited than a panzer group’s – that’s the basis of my ATL’s after all. But one needs to hold two superficially contradictory thoughts in one’s head: German infantry armies were highly mobile and powerful by Soviet standards and panzer groups were more mobile and powerful than infantry armies.

Finally, Stahel just doesn’t seem very intelligent. Askey isn’t a trained historian but I’ll take someone with the raw intellectual horsepower of a physicist over an analytically-challenged historian any day, mistakes and all.

TMP bookmark: Stahel’s focus on panzer groups.


Fourth, a quote regarding the elder Moltke:
Of all operations of war, a withdrawal under heavy enemy pressure is probably the most difficult and perilous. Indeed it is recorded of the great Moltke, that when he was being praised for his generalship in the Franco-Prussian War, and was told by an admirer that his reputation would rank with such great captains as Napoleon, Frederick, or Turenne, he answered, “No, for I have never conducted a retreat.” – Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin in Panzer Battles
So while I continue to recognize potential contingency in Kiev (see my other reply), this is not so easy as walking out of encirclement (as one nincompoop said recently). Depending on when retreat is ordered, 5th Army has to move ~300 miles from Korosten to around Poltava. As SWF had a serious deficit of horses – let alone motor vehicles – it is at least questionable whether its formations would have escaped without being severely mauled. At the very least they’re probably a mob of riflemen, having left their heavy equipment behind (still strategically important later though).

German infantry armies regularly bagged thousands of Soviet PoW’s per day outside encirclement battles, as I’m discussing here: viewtopic.php?f=55&t=255012. Had SWF attempted a large-scale retreat, it is entirely feasible that the necessary rear guard units would have been overrun (yielding thousands of PoW), that equipment would have been frantically abandoned, and that the operation would have turned into a rout. This is particularly true if, instead of resting in the Dniepr Bend until September 11, PzGr1 moved into the Kremenchug bridgehead earlier when the retreat became clear. It could have struck northeast instead of NNW as historically, cutting off the retreating formations farther east.

So again, there’s contingency here – perhaps Kirponos and SWF could have carried out arguably the most difficult operation with aplomb. But we need to recognize it wouldn’t have been easy.

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

So what’s the takeaway regarding thread discussion of an earlier push on Moscow?

KDF has the nub of the matter, IMO:
”KDF33” wrote: At best you've swapped Moscow for Kiev in September.
Even if Moscow is more important than Kiev and the Donets (it probably was, depending on how much of Moscow’s environs go with it), the Stolfi ATL doesn’t change force ratios significantly. As a result, it’s doubtful whether Moscow can be held and whether ATL economic damage (Moscow vs. Ukraine) decisively changes the 1942 calculus.

But the picture is different if some smaller disaster would have befallen SW Front in September, absent Guderian. This presents the possibility of “early Vyazma” plus “Kiev-lite” in September. What might AGS (+2nd Army) have done absent Guderian?

I’ve posted another thread to discuss a possible alternate strategy.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=257043
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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2021 20:09

”KDF33” wrote:That's one of the most egregious mistakes made by Askey. The idea that the Ostheer was short by just 223,587 men at the end of the year is ludicrous, and also contradicted by German primary documents detailing the Iststärke of their armies:
The single biggest lacuna in Askey’s work is any insight into how/why the rail system worked/failed. His logistical analysis focuses almost exclusively on ground-based lift from the railheads, with occasional references to train arrivals. He discusses re-gauging, IIRC, but not signals, water stations, sidings, unloading crew, train sheds, etc.

On the replacement issue, Askey’s lack of attention to railways causes him not to see that, although Germany possessed sufficient trained replacements to limit the personnel gap to 223,857 men, it did not have the rail capacity to ship those replacements by year-end. This is especially true once winter set in and the entire German rail system from Bordeaux to Bock’s front went into crisis. Thus we see Iststarke rising from January 1 as the backlog of replacements gets shipped - despite higher casualties in January-February than December.

The same issue applies to Askey’s analysis of German tank park (+3/4Q 1941 production) versus Ostheer shortfalls: yes the Germans had enough tanks to keep the Panzerwaffe in the saddle; no those tanks weren’t where needed and could not have been absent improved rail logistics (unless you want hundreds more tanks with little ammo/fuel).

[I have purchased all of Askey’s books and don’t regret it. He’s doing good work but has flaws.]
”HistoryGeek2021” wrote: This chart from DRZW Volume V shows
There is something extremely off about this chart. Just look at the “departed, dead” figures for 1Q ‘42 versus July/August ’41: dead are supposedly >2 as high in winter as in summer. January’s figure is nearly 6x higher than December’s. This makes zero sense. Ostheer did not have 280k dead in 1Q ’42; hopefully we can all agree on that.

There’s an obvious break between their figures for 1941 and 42, which cite different archival sources. DRZW does not appear to have cross-checked these sources for coherence, unfortunately. The chart cites Halder’s diary, for example, which gives a figure for total Barbarossa dead (225k) less than the chart’s figure for 1Q ’42.
”stg44” wrote: DRZW apparently only counts a very specific category of replacement and makes some very flawed assumptions based on that.
Given the scale of the “dead, departed” error, I don’t think much faith can be placed in the DRZW chart. That’s really disappointing, considering its prestige and influence.

I’d also note that their approximation of returning wounded is slipshod. Per Askey’s research in the German medical files, on average 60% of 1941 wounded were back in 6 months. A better metric would be 1/10 of the previous six month’s wounded (i.e. 60% divided 6).
”KDF33” wrote: The GKO decrees on Army rations were updated monthly, reflecting fluctuations in strength. See this one for October, for instance.
I tend to agree (with stg44 IIRC) that some caution must be exercised here. That the ration decrees may be based on a “head count” merely deflects uncertainty to the accuracy of that head count. There’s reason for doubt:

Here’s a Google-translated text of a GKO decree on finding “dead souls”:
State Defense Committee
Resolution No. GKO-633ss dated 05.09.41.
Moscow Kremlin.
To entrust the commission consisting of comrades. Mikoyan, Shaposhnikov, Khrulev, Shchadenko, Kosygin, Mekhlis, Malenkov, within three days, submit a draft GKO decree:
1) on the identification of dead souls along the line of the size of the army and the corresponding reduction of the latter to approximately 7-8 million;
2) […]
Chairman of the State Defense Committee I. Stalin.
Can anyone provide a better translation? It reads to me as if the GKO (i.e. Stalin) is recognizing ambiguity about the size of the army (“7-8 million”), which ambiguity is connected to ambiguity about the magnitude of losses (locating “dead souls”). A headcount feasibly off by a million can’t be called accurate: this is ~30% of the field army and most of the confounding “dead souls” would have been in the field army.

TMP bookmark: accuracy of Soviet records

There’s some ambiguity about the reference dates for the early GKO ration decrees. This decree sets the 20th of each month as the “headcount” dates, implying that early counts may reflect different reference dates. Just something to be careful of.

Also note the extreme penalties for inflating ration numbers… Soviet penalties often reflected problematic observed trends; probably manpower inflation was happening to (1) secure more food and (2) hide losses when the commander thought he could recruit locals to replace them.

With all that said, I don’t have access to a better source for RKKA front strength and will be using them unless something better becomes available.
”HistoryGeek2021” wrote: 1. By going for Moscow, the Germans risk not taking Kharkov in 1941.
Not only Kharkov, also the OTL-captured portions of Donbas+ (Stalino, Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, Mariupol, etc.). These were bases of Soviet metallurgy and coal; as I’m discussing elsewhere it was the metals-transport-energy sectors that limited Soviet production in ’42 – not finished weapons capacity. Retaining Donbas+ juices Soviet ’42 production dramatically.

IF SWF escapes the Kiev salient intact, it’s feasible RKKA holds west of Kharkov and Donbas in ‘41. IF an intact SWF allows reinforcing Moscow sufficiently to avert the Vyazma catastrophe, then RKKA will be ~30% stronger for the winter offensive and in Spring ’42. IF both conditions are met, RKKA could be in Berlin by Spring ’43 and Paris by year’s end if the W.Allies don’t intervene.
”HistoryGeek2021” wrote: According to Mark Harrison in The Soviet Union at War, 1941–1945, by 1943 Soviet industry was delivering weapons to the Red Army at 60 per cent of the average unit costs of 1940. Thus, claims about reduction in Soviet output through the loss of Moscow need to factor in improvements in Soviet production efficiency during the war.
A couple big points need to be made.

First point: Soviet efficiency plummeted in all but the final armaments sectors, which employed only >1/4 of industrial workers and ~4% of national labor force [in the below excerpts from Harrison’s Accounting for War, “MBMW” is “machine building and metal-working,” an over-inclusive category for final armaments production].

Image

Image

It is essential to look always at the whole economy rather than narrowly at the finished armaments sector. That sector’s value added would roughly track its employment share – NOT the spending on finished armaments. Just consider a shell: the embodied ore/energy/transport comes form elsewhere; often the steel-maker (not MBMW-coded) would cast most of the shell. The armaments sector might just fill the shell and add a fuse: it’s done little of actual shell production but in a superficial accounting would get all the credit.

Second/Meta point: How an OTL trend relates to ATL is analytically tricky: any ATL implication is a second-derivative change in the rate of change. This trips up a lot of folks doing counterfactuals, including me.

Here, efficiency is irrelevant unless one articulates a second-derivative effect:

Efficiency * Inputs = Output

---> Input deltas impact outputs independently of the efficiency level: half the labor produces half the output, regardless of efficiency level.

Losing Moscow would be an input shock; I haven’t seen anyone argue it would impact efficiency yet. Given the above-documented non-armament declines in Soviet labor productivity, I’d expect losing Moscow to harm efficiency as well as inputs. Why? Soviet productivity losses were related to the chaotic conditions of evacuating labor and capital, then having to re-establish balanced flows of inputs (electricity, fuel, labor, materials) at new locations (inter alia). An ATL SU that has lost Moscow will have a lot more chaos to deal with. See Harrison’s Soviet Planning in Peace and War for good discussion.

Note – while the “second derivative” accurately describes the pitfall of misjudging counterfactual impacts on OTL trends, the correct mode of analysis is the “partial derivative.” I.e. you avoid the “second derivative” error by differentiating only one part of a complex input-output equation [here labor quantity or other inputs, while leaving efficiency/productivity undifferentiated].
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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2021 20:12

per70 wrote:
08 Apr 2021 22:35

Removing XXIV AK (mot) from the equation could still leave the SWF facing about 50 divisions by mid-September
Including a mostly rested 1st PzGr. That would be a tough fight.
Yep. PzGr1 was resting until September 11, as were several infantry divisions. Yet AGS was still able to force the Dniepr in multiple locations and conquer the Dniepr-Perekop area. In another thread I make the argument that SWF's defeat was inevitable; it was only a matter of how bad.
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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Apr 2021 07:49

TheMarcksPlan wrote:IF SWF escapes the Kiev salient intact, it’s feasible RKKA holds west of Kharkov and Donbas in ‘41. IF an intact SWF allows reinforcing Moscow sufficiently to avert the Vyazma catastrophe, then RKKA will be ~30% stronger for the winter offensive and in Spring ’42. IF both conditions are met, RKKA could be in Berlin by Spring ’43 and Paris by year’s end if the W.Allies don’t intervene.
...SU invades Manchuria and Korea in Fall '43 or Spring '44; the Empire of Japan doesn't last long enough to get the first A-bomb. It remains secret knowledge among a select few Americans.

...SU and its Warsaw Pact allies (inc. Italy? Austria? Finland? A bigger East Germany?) have ~20mil fewer deaths in the war, much less economic damage. Balance of world power shifts Stalinward.

WW3 is a surprise nuclear holocaust to save capitalism from human equality and international brotherhood?

History is contingent.

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

In that ATL there is an ATL TheMarcksPlan - he/she'd have to be smarter than OTL - who sees through Germany's relatively quick defeat in ATL Kiev-less Barbarossa. He/she posts in ATL AxisHistoryForum about how the Germans could have won with 5 more panzer divisions by destroying Southwestern Front in June '41.

Maybe he/she's received with as much hostility as OTL TMP.

But maybe the Ostheer's quick defeat has decimated the ranks of internet Wehraboos and those who gallantly ride out to battle against them, causing ATL AHF to view WW2 debates on their merits instead of based on internet camp allegiances.
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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by History Learner » 18 Apr 2021 23:49

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Apr 2021 20:05

Agreed. Even were Leningrad down to a single railway line, Russian railway practice enabled extremely high throughput per line, albeit at higher labor cost:
Despite the uneven development of the network, the USSR had some of the most intensively used track in the world: In 1930 it had 1,738,000 ton-km per km compared to 1,608,000 for the United States. This was achieved by running the railway at a low uniform speed (29 km/hour in 1934), which eliminated delays from trains overtaking one another, reduced track wear, and allowed large numbers of trains to be run on the same stretch of track with primitive signaling.

More importantly, the “only one line to Leningrad absent Moscow” argument is demonstrably false despite its frequent repetition (by Askey most recently). If we look at the detailed map of the Gorkiy-area railways, we see a connection between the Gorkiy-Moscow mainline and the railway immediately north:

Image
(connection circled in red)

Zooming back out to the SU-wide railway map, this connection is not included on the larger map – it’s too small for that scale. This has perhaps misled some folks. With the connection, there’s a second railway route to Leningrad that avoids Moscow:

Image
(translucent red line over the Gorkiy-Leningrad alternate route)
I think the fact it's so small that it isn't even being shown on Russian maps should say a lot about it's capacity loads.
I have bought all of Askey’s books (not cheap!) and appreciate his work, which is usually rigorously analytical and quantitative. That said, the portion about mobilization from Moscow-Gorkiy (again a large area!) seems flippant. The SU mobilized population as it appeared threatened:: in rear areas leave men in the factories; in threatened areas call them up. Here, for example, is a GKO decree of October 15 ordering all Moscow military reserves <45 to be mobilized, with the effort to be completed by October 18. Had Vyazma occurred earlier, this order would have issued earlier and (most of) Moscow’s military manpower would have been drafted sooner.
No doubt, the problem is, as have you documented elsewhere, actually getting them trained and equipped then sent to the front before the Germans overrun them. Once the V-B encirclement is achieved, there isn't really anything left to stop the Germans from advancing and taking Moscow directly. Even presuming the order is moved up a month to September 18th, if the Germans have taken the environs of Moscow by October 1st it's a pretty meaningless order on the Soviet end.
Even if we concede that all recruits from divisions mobilized in M-G originated from M-G (surely false), there’s nothing preventing the SU from moving the mob centers had the Germans started rolling farther east on that axis. This is a country, after all, that moved millions of people and billions in capital stock over thousands of miles. To suppose that the SU couldn’t have moved thousands of mobilizing soldiers a few hundred miles east reads as facially absurd.
They could, but then again, you are expecting them to do this while the Germans are advancing on them unopposed, as they are also shutting down governmental functions in Moscow itself during a panic move to the Volga to get out of the range of the German armies themselves. Could the Soviets manage all of that, in the confusion? Possibly, but then you also have to factor in-besides the administrative issues inherent to such-also moving the equipment and men themselves from other areas to Moscow amid said panic straining the transportation capacities of the city's infrastructure.

You also run into an issue I've pointed out elsewhere in this thread: if you're stripping the North and South of reinforcements in desperation, how exactly are those Soviet counter-attacks supposed to happen come Winter?
By Askey’s own writing, the SU lost 500,000 mobilizing reservists in June/July but few thereafter: STAVKA learned its lesson and stopped putting mob centers in the Ostheer’s immediate path. Why Askey implies they’d unlearn that lesson in September I can’t imagine.

I’ve been meaning to email Askey about the issue…
I'd imagine for the same reason you stated above, in a sense: they didn't see a serious danger in August given they had two, technically three fronts before Moscow and the situations at Leningrad and Kiev to keep the Germans focused.

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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by KDF33 » 19 Apr 2021 00:58

History Learner wrote:
18 Apr 2021 23:49
I think the fact it's so small that it isn't even being shown on Russian maps should say a lot about it's capacity loads.
It looks like a regular single-track railroad. It's just hidden on the map by the word 'Ivanovo' written in large font.

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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Apr 2021 05:08

History Learner wrote:I think the fact it's so small that it isn't even being shown on Russian maps should say a lot about it's capacity loads.
The reason I found this spur is because I figured, "Had L'Grad been down to one line, SU would have built a spur from the Gorkiy mainline." I opened the local Gorky map to measure the distance and they'd already done it.

Even if you're right that the spur was low capacity (see below), my response would be analogous to my previously-planned point: faced with losing Lgrad or upgrading a spur, NKPS would upgrade the spur. They built the Astrakhan-Makhachkala line when similarly pressed, recall.

It's unlikely the spur is low capacity anyway: anything shipped from Central Volga to Leningrad (a lot) would not be sent through Moscow but via this line. Why? Because central rail nodes are usually capacity-constrained bottlenecks; that's the whole reason for building these kinds of perimeter routes.
History Learner wrote:No doubt, the problem is, as have you documented elsewhere, actually getting them trained and equipped then sent to the front before the Germans overrun them
There's two elements to Askey's argument: (1) that forming divisions would be interrupted and destroyed and (2) that 1942 RKKA force levels would decline from losing Moscow-Gorky recuitment base. As regards (2), the training timeline isn't operative.
History Learner wrote:They could, but then again, you are expecting them to do this while the Germans are advancing on them unopposed, as they are also shutting down governmental functions in Moscow itself during a panic move to the Volga to get out of the range of the German armies themselves.
This goes to (1) above. The forming divisions are not in central Moscow where, perhaps, panicked horses and carriages would disrupt their ability to move. They're forming somewhere in the vast M-G area, not training in Red Square.
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Re: The Soviets retreat from Kiev in early September 1941

Post by History Learner » 19 Apr 2021 05:23

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
19 Apr 2021 05:08
History Learner wrote:I think the fact it's so small that it isn't even being shown on Russian maps should say a lot about it's capacity loads.
The reason I found this spur is because I figured, "Had L'Grad been down to one line, SU would have built a spur from the Gorkiy mainline." I opened the local Gorky map to measure the distance and they'd already done it.

Even if you're right that the spur was low capacity (see below), my response would be analogous to my previously-planned point: faced with losing Lgrad or upgrading a spur, NKPS would upgrade the spur. They built the Astrakhan-Makhachkala line when similarly pressed, recall.

It's unlikely the spur is low capacity anyway: anything shipped from Central Volga to Leningrad (a lot) would not be sent through Moscow but via this line. Why? Because central rail nodes are usually capacity-constrained bottlenecks; that's the whole reason for building these kinds of perimeter routes.
If it is not low capacity, why is not shown as a high capacity route on the Soviet railway maps of the time period? Seems odd they would leave out such an important route. That it exists for surplus capacity or to reduce bottlenecks on the Moscow mainline I have no doubt, but the idea it was the main one just does seem borne out from any of the available evidence. I know you and KDF think I am making too much of what Glantz says on the issue, but there is even less evidence for this assertion, if we are being honest.

As for the idea the Soviets could just build a new railway, that takes time; the Baku-Astrakhan just didn't appear in a day. If it's built on a similar timeframe as the aforementioned, then by the time it is ready, Leningrad will be have long since been starved into submission. This also, mind you, requires the Soviets to divert extensive resources into railways at a time when they don't have extensive resources to divert, not without making steep cuts to war production at this critical juncture. Something like 60-80% of Soviet railway materials during WWII were Lend Lease in origin for exactly this reason.
There's two elements to Askey's argument: (1) that forming divisions would be interrupted and destroyed and (2) that 1942 RKKA force levels would decline from losing Moscow-Gorky recuitment base. As regards (2), the training timeline isn't operative.
Do explain, if you will.
This goes to (1) above. The forming divisions are not in central Moscow where, perhaps, panicked horses and carriages would disrupt their ability to move. They're forming somewhere in the vast M-G area, not training in Red Square.
Except that millions of fleeing civilians will also clog up the railways and roads leading into Moscow, thus restricting the ability of said armies to form or supply themselves. If the civilians aren't enough, as Askey points out there was around 600 factories in Moscow that the Soviets were able to evacuate or make plans to do such thanks to the August-October window of time they had. Presuming a serious effort to evacuate them in an emergency situation is made, this too will further tax the Soviet transportation network.

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