Rundstedt's central reserve

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Juan G. C.
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Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 16 May 2021 18:44

In 1944, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, commander-in-chief West, wanted to form a central reserve around Paris with Panzer divisions and mobile infantry divisions. Unlike general Geyr von Schweppenburg, who also wanted a central reserve but who, in the event of a landing, wanted to let the Western Allies push inland and then figth a tank battle there, outside the range of its naval artillery, Rundstedt wanted to counterattack the Allies in the beaches once they had commited their forces, but before they had been able to consolidate its position there (this difference is usually obscured by the fact that both wanted a central reserve, unlike Rommel). What if he had been allowed to form that central reserve with what he had, and under his command?

IRL Rundstedt gave the order to move to the Panzer Lehr and the 12th SS Panzer toward Normandy two hours before the seaborne landings, when he was informed of the airborne landings (even if he hadn't authority to do that and was countermanded by OKW). In this scenario, it is likely that he would have done the same with the central reserve. How much time would have taken for it to reach the beaches from the area of Paris, when could it have counterattacked, and with which results?

I do not know exactly how many divisions would have made up this central reserve, nor which divisions. According to general Günther Blumentritt, his chief of staff, Rundstedt asked for a central reserve of "five or six panzer and from eight to ten infantry divisions in the area, and to the south, of Paris" (Von Rundstedt, the soldier and the man, p. 183).

PS. No secrets: I admit here that I am searching for a way to defeat the Normandy landings.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Mori » 16 May 2021 19:23

If you're into counterfactuals, first thing is to decide what's the event you want to change and at what date this change happens. Your reasoning will be very different if the change is on June 5th or on Jan 1st, 1944.

If this central reserve did exist and was ready months before the landing, then Allies would have noticed. You question becomes: what countermeasures Allied could implement to distract it or to slow it down? and what consequences on the Eastern Front - historically, in April 1944, a whole panzer corps was sent from the West to Ukraine to stabilize the front ? If this central reserve only took shape on June 5th, it is likely it wasn't operational and couldn't move and fight quickly.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by maltesefalcon » 17 May 2021 02:55

You had previously started a very similar and extensively discussed topic here:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=256976

Why do this all over again?

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 17 May 2021 06:50

maltesefalcon wrote:
17 May 2021 02:55
You had previously started a very similar and extensively discussed topic here:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=256976

Why do this all over again?
Mainly for two reasons: 1. Because in this thread Rundstedt's central reserve was only a side question and was discussed only barely, and 2. because the thread is locked and I can discuss it no more there.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 17 May 2021 07:07

Mori wrote:
16 May 2021 19:23
If you're into counterfactuals, first thing is to decide what's the event you want to change and at what date this change happens. Your reasoning will be very different if the change is on June 5th or on Jan 1st, 1944.

If this central reserve did exist and was ready months before the landing, then Allies would have noticed. You question becomes: what countermeasures Allied could implement to distract it or to slow it down? and what consequences on the Eastern Front - historically, in April 1944, a whole panzer corps was sent from the West to Ukraine to stabilize the front ? If this central reserve only took shape on June 5th, it is likely it wasn't operational and couldn't move and fight quickly.
I was thinking more in line with the first option, with the formation of the central reserve beginning around January 1944. You are right that in this case one must ask what would the Western Allies do when they notice the formation of the central reserve. Regarding the Eastern Front, lets asume it isn't necessary to send the panzer corps to the East, for the sake of this discussion.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 May 2021 07:37

Juan G. C. wrote:
16 May 2021 18:44
In 1944, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, commander-in-chief West, wanted to form a central reserve around Paris with Panzer divisions and mobile infantry divisions. Unlike general Geyr von Schweppenburg, who also wanted a central reserve but who, in the event of a landing, wanted to let the Western Allies push inland and then figth a tank battle there, outside the range of its naval artillery, Rundstedt wanted to counterattack the Allies in the beaches once they had commited their forces, but before they had been able to consolidate its position there (this difference is usually obscured by the fact that both wanted a central reserve, unlike Rommel). What if he had been allowed to form that central reserve with what he had, and under his command?

IRL Rundstedt gave the order to move to the Panzer Lehr and the 12th SS Panzer toward Normandy two hours before the seaborne landings, when he was informed of the airborne landings (even if he hadn't authority to do that and was countermanded by OKW). In this scenario, it is likely that he would have done the same with the central reserve. How much time would have taken for it to reach the beaches from the area of Paris, when could it have counterattacked, and with which results?

I do not know exactly how many divisions would have made up this central reserve, nor which divisions. According to general Günther Blumentritt, his chief of staff, Rundstedt asked for a central reserve of "five or six panzer and from eight to ten infantry divisions in the area, and to the south, of Paris" (Von Rundstedt, the soldier and the man, p. 183).

PS. No secrets: I admit here that I am searching for a way to defeat the Normandy landings.
Given the size of the German field forces available in the west in June, 1944, this would only have been possible by stripping the coastal defenses, from Provence to the Atlantic, Channel, and North Sea coasts.

As it was, historically, on 1 June 1944, five days before the invasion, after the destruction of Army Group Center in the east, there were 156 divisions in the east, 27 in Italy, and 54 in the west, 19 percent of all those available to Hitler; to form the described central reserve of 13-16 divisions requires reducing the forces elsewhere in France and the Low Countries by 13 of 54 at the low end (~25%, and leaving 41 for everywhere else, from Provence to the Netherlands- or - at the high end - leaving reducing the forces elsewhere by one-third, for a total of all of 38 elsewhere.

At that rate, Cherbourg and Caen fall on Day One, and DRAGOON can occur at the same time as NEPTUNE, so there go Marseiiles and Toulon.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 17 May 2021 12:28

Juan G. C. wrote:
16 May 2021 18:44
How much time would have taken for it to reach the beaches from the area of Paris, when could it have counterattacked, and with which results?
maybe you should ask this question in the history forums?

Over here you would get a made up on the spot answer, which wouldn't be very useful.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Mori » 17 May 2021 13:54

Juan G. C. wrote:
17 May 2021 07:07
Regarding the Eastern Front, lets asume it isn't necessary to send the panzer corps to the East, for the sake of this discussion.
It's then easier to suppose that the date of your what if is around March, 25th, 1944 : Hitler doesn't bend to Manstein requests and refuses to send what historically went to the East. This allows for a stronger reserve in France, and say it's at Rundstedt's disposal. Both decisions happen the same day, to make the start of your what if clear cut.

However, you can't just jump to June 6th if your change takes place on March 25th. You *must* first investigate what happens at the (1939) border of Poland and Ukraine without reinforcements. Would that lead to the destruction of the then-surrounded 1st panzer army? And what consequences on this front? Historically, it stalled mid-April 1944. What now? Russians reach the Vistula? You might eventually realize there is no other choice but to send these troops East in April or May, ruining Rundstedt central reserve (and making the whole what if impossible).

Besides, you must also assess what US/UK could and would do to distract / immobilize this Rundstedt reserve.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 17 May 2021 15:52

Cult Icon wrote:
17 May 2021 12:28
Juan G. C. wrote:
16 May 2021 18:44
How much time would have taken for it to reach the beaches from the area of Paris, when could it have counterattacked, and with which results?
maybe you should ask this question in the history forums?

Over here you would get a made up on the spot answer, which wouldn't be very useful.
Where would you recomend me to ask it?
Mori wrote:
17 May 2021 13:54
Juan G. C. wrote:
17 May 2021 07:07
Regarding the Eastern Front, lets asume it isn't necessary to send the panzer corps to the East, for the sake of this discussion.
It's then easier to suppose that the date of your what if is around March, 25th, 1944 : Hitler doesn't bend to Manstein requests and refuses to send what historically went to the East. This allows for a stronger reserve in France, and say it's at Rundstedt's disposal. Both decisions happen the same day, to make the start of your what if clear cut.

However, you can't just jump to June 6th if your change takes place on March 25th. You *must* first investigate what happens at the (1939) border of Poland and Ukraine without reinforcements. Would that lead to the destruction of the then-surrounded 1st panzer army? And what consequences on this front? Historically, it stalled mid-April 1944. What now? Russians reach the Vistula? You might eventually realize there is no other choice but to send these troops East in April or May, ruining Rundstedt central reserve (and making the whole what if impossible).

Besides, you must also assess what US/UK could and would do to distract / immobilize this Rundstedt reserve.
I said "let's asume it isn't necessary", not "let's asume the Panzer corps isn't sent". The reason doesn't matter: I could be that 1st Panzer Army is allowed to withdraw and isn't surrounded.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Mori » 17 May 2021 17:11

Juan G. C. wrote:
17 May 2021 15:52

I said "let's asume it isn't necessary", not "let's asume the Panzer corps isn't sent". The reason doesn't matter: I could be that 1st Panzer Army is allowed to withdraw and isn't surrounded.
That doesn't work. You will go nowhere if your reasoning is "everything happens to end up exactly the same everywhere else although major reinforcements didn't occur".

If your assumption is that 1 Paz army isn't surrounded, then you change history at another point in time, which you *must* specify, and derive consequences from there. By the way, this may lead to interesting findings: to defeat the Normandy invasion, you would first and before all assume a very different 1944 winter campaign in Ukraine. That would probably mean another strategic decision in December 1943, when Hitler decided the priority should be in the West...

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 17 May 2021 19:34

Juan G. C. wrote:
17 May 2021 07:07
Regarding the Eastern Front, lets asume it isn't necessary to send the panzer corps to the East, for the sake of this discussion.
Ok. So what you want for to discuss must to be imagination story on how germany can to win on normandy when not have big fight on red army.

Topic must not be how can for germany win but must to demand on peoples for to explain on complete imagination story what forces must germany have on normandy for to win.

It is like mostest common what if story on forum. Amerikans and british and canadians must have exact same forces doing exact same thing like on real history and germany can to have any thing what it needs.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 17 May 2021 19:51

West front subforum?

This sounds a bit related to your earlier thread on the Ukraine. To prevent the encirclement of 1 Pz Army, which contained many PZ divisions it would require preventing the previous encirclement of XI and XLII corps and the subsequent burning out of III Pz and XLVII Pz Korps. All these events were integrated as the sharp weakening of the German Pz forces in the Ukraine snowballed into the conditions of the 1 Pz Army being encircled.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 18 May 2021 12:57

Mori wrote:
17 May 2021 17:11

That doesn't work. You will go nowhere if your reasoning is "everything happens to end up exactly the same everywhere else although major reinforcements didn't occur".

If your assumption is that 1 Paz army isn't surrounded, then you change history at another point in time, which you *must* specify, and derive consequences from there. By the way, this may lead to interesting findings: to defeat the Normandy invasion, you would first and before all assume a very different 1944 winter campaign in Ukraine. That would probably mean another strategic decision in December 1943, when Hitler decided the priority should be in the West...
Well, I thought it was preferable to confine the discussion to concrete questions, but if you think it necessary for the discussion, I will put all the cards on the table, so to speak. Perhaps you are right, and it is better so.

This and most other threads I've posted here are about aspects of a timeline of alternate history I'm working on. Its point of departure is around December 27, 1943, when the Nazi regime is toppled by a military putsch and substituted by a Beck-Goerdeler government. This new government tries to negotiate with the Allies but is told that the only possible terms are unconditional surrender. So they decide to continue the war (all this is very resumed, if anyone wants, I can elaborate on any aspect).

This new government allows Army Group South to withdraw from the Dnieper bend, shortening its front, and 17th Army to withdraw from the Crimea, freeing enough forces to stop the Soviet Zhiyomir-Berdichev offensive (I've posted a thread about this, Cult Icon is witness). Withdrawing from the Dnieper bend would also prevent the Cherkassy pocket. The new government also allows Army Group North to withdraw to the Panther line (which was actually planed as Operation Blue), shortening its front by twenty-five percent. All this, I think, make unnecessary to transfer the Panzer corps to the East in March.

In the West, Rommel (still considered Hitler's man) is removed, and Rundstedt is given a free hand to form a central reserve. You are right to say that we must ask how will the Allies react to the formation of Rundstedt's central reserve, what will they do; but I think others can answer this question better than me.

As you can see, this timeline has many aspects (I have only mentioned the ones I think are relevant for the thread). That's why I thought it was better to confine the discussion to concrete issues and questions. Nevertheless, here you have it. It would be interesting to know your opinión.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Mori » 18 May 2021 17:30

Juan G. C. wrote:
18 May 2021 12:57
This and most other threads I've posted here are about aspects of a timeline of alternate history I'm working on. Its point of departure is around December 27, 1943, when the Nazi regime is toppled by a military putsch and substituted by a Beck-Goerdeler government. This new government tries to negotiate with the Allies but is told that the only possible terms are unconditional surrender. So they decide to continue the war (all this is very resumed, if anyone wants, I can elaborate on any aspect).

This new government allows Army Group South to withdraw from the Dnieper bend, shortening its front, and 17th Army to withdraw from the Crimea, freeing enough forces to stop the Soviet Zhiyomir-Berdichev offensive (I've posted a thread about this, Cult Icon is witness). Withdrawing from the Dnieper bend would also prevent the Cherkassy pocket. The new government also allows Army Group North to withdraw to the Panther line (which was actually planed as Operation Blue), shortening its front by twenty-five percent. All this, I think, make unnecessary to transfer the Panzer corps to the East in March.

In the West, Rommel (still considered Hitler's man) is removed, and Rundstedt is given a free hand to form a central reserve. You are right to say that we must ask how will the Allies react to the formation of Rundstedt's central reserve, what will they do; but I think others can answer this question better than me.

As you can see, this timeline has many aspects (I have only mentioned the ones I think are relevant for the thread). That's why I thought it was better to confine the discussion to concrete issues and questions. Nevertheless, here you have it. It would be interesting to know your opinión.
Thanks, it's good to have a clean starting point. Your whole scenario is well developed.

The development of the Eastern Front campaign is well articulated. The main consequence of all these preventive shortening of the frontline, north and south, is fewer fight. Certainly this should save some German units, but how many Russian units who also be spared? Have you got any idea what's the balance of strength after these moves, especially if it turns out the Russians still have enough momentum left to launch a couple of operations ? I have no idea myself, but this seems to be the logical next step: putting a few numbers to check whether early withdrawal is that much better.

I think it's Weinberg who once noticed that for all the post-war German talk about "shortening the lines", there wasn't ever any mention it would *also* shorten the Russian lines...

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 18 May 2021 17:57

The two encirclements resulted in a huge loss of equipment. If anything there would be more forces available in the West than the II SS Pz Korps.

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