If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalemate?

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 19 Nov 2021 01:39

No, this is your opinion, nothing more. Internet people today thinks they are more competent and better informed than military leaders at the time :roll:

Take this subforum as an example: a hundred different war-winning ATL. Every year.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 19 Nov 2021 01:47

And, i have never read in serious academic works that Blau was incompetently planned (the original plan), or that there was a better military alternative available to the germans in 1942 going north.

Now, after 80 years, we have the most dramatic revelation in an internet forum. At least you acknowledged it as "revisionist".

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 19 Nov 2021 03:02

(Double post - my bad)
Last edited by KDF33 on 19 Nov 2021 03:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 19 Nov 2021 03:03

Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 01:39
No, this is your opinion, nothing more.
Of course it is my opinion! The issue is whether or not my opinion corresponds to the facts. And here, yet again, I note that you refuse to engage with the substance of the case.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 01:39
Internet people today thinks they are more competent and better informed than military leaders at the time :roll:
More competent in military leadership? No, obviously not. I have neither the formal training nor the experience nor, quite frankly, the temperament.

Better informed? Most definitely. I have access to archival data and 75 years of literature and thus more-or-less can map out the entire situation, for both belligerents.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 01:47
And, i have never read in serious academic works that Blau was incompetently planned (the original plan)
Which makes sense, given that planning for Blau was not particularly incompetent. With the proviso that no operation is ever perfectly planned nor executed, the core of the problem with Blau lay neither in the planning nor in the execution phase, but in the conception phase: that is, the entire strategy of an advance to the Don, the Volga and into the Caucasus - largely the brainchild of Hitler himself - was a terrible idea.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 01:47
or that there was a better military alternative available to the germans in 1942 going north.

Now, after 80 years, we have the most dramatic revelation in an internet forum. At least you acknowledged it as "revisionist".
Here you are engaging in the common fallacy of the appeal to authority. Whether or not my idea has been proposed before in the extent literature - and I doubt that you've read it all - is irrelevant. Whether or not my argument is sound, and the supporting evidence is strong, ought to determine if it is an avenue worth exploring.

If you disagree with the analysis, fine. But you have yet to address its substance.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 19 Nov 2021 12:21

Hi

Your argument is NOT unsound, but at the time no one (to my knowledge) proposed that the main thrust of any summer offensive needed to be in the color areas of your map. Your answer: incompetence and poor leadership, something for which there are no proof. Anyway, some of them where in fact planned as local operations: Derfflinger and Orkan/Wirbelwind. Only Wirbelwind was launched.

Also perfectly sound, IMHO, was Blau as conceived in April (and that is my main criticism to your ATL): if the germans make your proposed series of offensives in the OTL, instead of Blau, i would say it was a reasonable choice. It is you that are simply disregarding, without any evidence, the rationale for Blau.

Other points: every military operation is based on the assumption, on the hope, that it would succeed. Otherwise no one would start it.

Academic literature on Blau is extremely scarce, as opposed to general/popular books on the eastern front. Bernd Wegner contribution to DRZW 6 is the standard work, in fact the only fully contribution. More recently Alan Donohue Ph.D. on Hitler and german intelligence in 1942, but it is unpublished so far.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 19 Nov 2021 13:54

Going to the core of your argument, here is some data to consider:

Red army ground operational strength 1 May 1942: 4,9 mill. + STAVKA = 5,1 million

1 november: 5,8 mill. + STAVKA = 6 mill.

This without the reserve pool of wounded and inoperational forces.

Combat losses (all) by quarter
- April-June = 1,39 mill. (460k per month) = 8% average strength
- July-September = 2,37 mill. (800k per month) = 15% average strength
- October-December = 1,28 mill. (430k per month) = 7% average strength

Drafted May-December = 5,32 mill. (670k per month), including non-russian republics with 1,21 mill. (150k per month). Classes of 1922-25 = 1,45 mill. (180k per month).
Last edited by Boby on 19 Nov 2021 22:43, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 19 Nov 2021 16:41

So, the Red Army could absorb those losses (average 600k July to December), more than replaced by new drafted soldiers, returned wounded and combing out inoperational forces.

The question: can the germans inflict close to 1 million casualties per month and maintain this rate until soviet replacements crack down? It is more than dubious. There is simply no proof, other than the OTL losses.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 20 Nov 2021 00:04

Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Hi
Hello. First of all, thank you for engaging with the substance of the argument. It's always a surprise online, but always greatly appreciated.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Your argument is NOT unsound, but at the time no one (to my knowledge) proposed that the main thrust of any summer offensive needed to be in the color areas of your map.
Correct. But then no one was in a position to do so: there was no theater commander in the East, and Hitler had relieved von Brauchitsch on 12/19/1941 and taken direct command of the Army. The Army Group Commanders concerned themselves with their areas, and reported directly to the Führer. Thus, the absence of an overall counter-proposal is a moot point: strategic decision-making at the theater level was exclusively the province of Hitler. Halder, as chief of staff, then translated the chosen strategy into an operational framework and coordinated its implementation across the different departments of the Army.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Your answer: incompetence and poor leadership, something for which there are no proof.
I would argue there is plenty of evidence of incompetent decision-making.

First, I'll clarify that the incompetence in question overwhelmingly rested with Hitler. This doesn't mean that all Wehrmacht generals were geniuses in comparison, or even that all of them would have concocted a better strategy had they been empowered to do so. It does mean, however, that the essence of the 1942 campaign was defined by Hitler.

How did he arrive at his strategy? Was it by carefully weighing his options, consulting widely the relevant department heads and arriving at a realistic appraisal of the Ostheer's capabilities in 1942 and, thus, what could be achieved?

No. There were hardly any deliberations and his mind was effectively made up from the get-go, even before Barbarossa had fully petered out. Thus, Germany and the Second World War Vol. VI (henceforth GSWW/VI) notes:

"The fact that on the following day [10/25/1941] Hitler, in conversation with the Italian foreign minister, made no secret of the fact that his next operational objective was the region of the Caucasus proves his early commitment in this question. His fixation on the Caucasus option, always his favourite goal, caused him in the autumn of 1941 readily (it seems) to dispense with an in-depth examination of his strategic freedom of action." - GSWW/VI, Part VI, Chapter 1, "The Decision for Operation Blue"

The reverse in front of Moscow didn't lead to a reappraisal of the situation:

"That the road to this goal [providing Germany with an "unlimited ability to resist in war-economy terms" against the Anglo-Americans] would lead over the Caucasus was, from the summer of 1941, a firm tenet of faith for Hitler, one in which the reverses of the winter merely confirmed him. It is not surprising, therefore, that Hitler informed the Japanese ambassador Oshima of the outline of the future Operation Blue on 3 January 1942, three months before issuing Directive No. 41. A few days later, on 8 January, Hitler then notified the army organization of his demands: these amounted not only to the creation of a fully efficient combat army of mobile troops, but also to the replenishment of the infantry divisions of Army Group South 'to full personnel and material strength for offensive use'." - GSWW/VI, same as above

With his mind made up, Hitler was impervious to counter-proposals:

"Unease and doubts about the feasibility of the Caucasus operation were evidently voiced by some commanders in the field as well [...]. Colonel-General von Küchler, Leeb's successor as commander of Army Group North, even pleaded with Hitler as late as May that the operation on the southern sector be abandoned in favour of a more promising offensive against Leningrad; as might have been expected, his proposal met with brusque rejection." - GSWW/VI, same as above

von Küchler was not alone in his scepticism:

"Colonel-General Fromm, Chief of Army Ordnance and Commander of the Replacement Army, who - like Reich Minister Todt - had as early as November toyed with the idea of concluding peace, regarded the planned operation as a luxury totally inappropriate to the impoverished situation of the German forces. Major-General Wagner, the quartermaster-general, privately referred to 'Utopian plans for an offensive'. - GSWW/VI, same as above

***

I call Hitler's decision-making process incompetent because it was impervious to contradictory, qualified opinion, as well as to changes in the overall situation. Ultimately, it was less a decision-making process than a process to implement his own a priori, i.e., wishful thinking.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Anyway, some of them where in fact planned as local operations: Derfflinger and Orkan/Wirbelwind. Only Wirbelwind was launched.
Yes, Hitler wanted to have his cake and eat it, too: capture the Donbas and the Caucasus, but also eliminate large Soviet force concentrations in the areas of the other two Army Groups. This flew in the face of the basic principle of force concentration, and is another piece of evidence that his military leadership left much to be desired.

Ultimately, my proposal ditches the move that leads to force dilution (Blau) so as to render feasible the offensives aimed purely at casualty-infliction.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Also perfectly sound, IMHO, was Blau as conceived in April (and that is my main criticism to your ATL): if the germans make your proposed series of offensives in the OTL, instead of Blau, i would say it was a reasonable choice. It is you that are simply disregarding, without any evidence, the rationale for Blau.
That's the thing: there was no legitimate rationale for Blau. It was only the reflection of Hitler's idiosyncrasies.

It also wasn't conceived of in April, as noted previously. It was only formalized in April, but the basic concept dated from the previous fall. That no overall reassessment of the situation occurred, despite the completely changed strategic picture in the intervening period, is an indictment of the whole process.
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 12:21
Other points: every military operation is based on the assumption, on the hope, that it would succeed. Otherwise no one would start it.
I certainly hope not. Military operations ought to be based on a realistic expectation of victory, on the basis of sound planning and intelligence - not on "assumptions", and certainly not on hope.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Kingfish » 20 Nov 2021 00:29

History Learner wrote:
17 Nov 2021 11:59
On that, I have to disagree. The Japanese were keeping numerical parity with us on Guadalcanal all throughout October
The Japanese never achieved numerical parity with the US at any time on Guadacanal.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 20 Nov 2021 00:37

Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 16:41
So, the Red Army could absorb those losses (average 600k July to December), more than replaced by new drafted soldiers, returned wounded and combing out inoperational forces.
That's incorrect. The Soviets couldn't absorb those losses, given that they didn't:

Total strength of the Red Army and Navy, 05/01/1942: 11,787,122
Total strength of the Red Army and Navy, 01/01/1943: 11,394,375 (-392,747)

Sources: Here for Red Army (both dates) and Navy for 01/01/1943 and here for Navy 05/01/1942
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 13:54
Going to the core of your argument, here is some data to consider:

[...]

Drafted May-December = 5,32 mill. (670k per month), including non-russian republics with 1,21 mill. (150k per month). Classes of 1922-25 = 1,45 mill. (180k per month).
Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 16:41
The question: can the germans inflict close to 1 million casualties per month and maintain this rate until soviet replacements crack down? It is more than dubious. There is simply no proof, other than the OTL losses.
I have considered that data. An issue to keep in mind is that the 5,328,392 conscripts mobilized between 05/01/1942 - 12/31/1942 do not represent net force additions. Why? Because for most of the war the Soviets regularly swapped less fit, already-serving personnel for raw, but far more fit, recruits from the reserved sectors of the economy.

Thus, figures for mobilized personnel show only half of the picture. And it makes a large difference. In a report forwarded to Stalin on 02/14/1943, Deputy Commissar of Defense Y. A. Schadenko noted that, from 06/22/1941 - 12/31/1942, the following number of men had been demobilized from the Red Army and Navy:

-Transferred to the security services: 357,000
-Transferred to industry: 2,541,000

The report can be viewed here.

For a total of 2,898,000 deductions to military rolls. Given the large discrepancy between mobilization and losses in the period in question (5,328,392 mobilized in May - December against 2,582,901 dead and missing in April - December, but a net contraction of 392,747 personnel), it can be inferred that most of that demobilization occurred over the spring, summer and autumn of 1942.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 20 Nov 2021 00:51

Much to disagree

- What Hitler said in October and early 1942 was irrelevant, as the directive was issued in April and launched at the end of June. Of course it was "utopian" at the time, but not when it actually started.

- The plan was worked, in his operational and logistical details, by the OKH: who opposed it? Halder, Heusinger, Gehlen and co, as per surviving documentation, certainly not. Also, what Küchler was saying is irrelevant, because he was commander in the north, not the south. The only one with something to say there was Bock.

And, of course, military operations rested on assumptions and hope, even after careful planning. It is not a mathematical issue with a 100% degree of exactitude; we are not talking about IBM machines, but human beings.

The fact remains that from the spring to June the situation facing the Ostheer improved and Halder intelligence boy was telling Hitler that the russians were not so strong, not inexhaustible in manpower, but becoming weak. Mostly everybody was again optimistic, and so approved Blau.

Of course, you are using the old tactic of shifting all the blame to Hitler, ignoring the germans were running out of time, they can't afford remaining on the defensive or making half-solutions; something needed to be done to liquidate the EF in 1942, so they opted for Blau.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Nov 2021 03:45

Boby wrote:
19 Nov 2021 01:39
No, this is your opinion, nothing more. Internet people today thinks they are more competent and better informed than military leaders at the time :roll:
Most important WW2 decisions were grand strategic decisions for which there is no conceivable specialist training, military or otherwise. The men making these decisions had either no formal military experience or training irrelevant to their strategic role (German corporals aren't trained in grand strategy).

Grand strategy is a combination of economics, politics, military, etc. Often the military questions pale in significance to the other factors.
Boby wrote: Take this subforum as an example: a hundred different war-winning ATL. Every year.
That any moron can post an ATL does imply that most ATL's have little insight or value. That most ATL's have little insight or value doesn't imply that all ATL's have little insight or value. To say that all ATL's have no insight or value because most have no insight or value, however, does imply that you lack the ability to tell the good from the bad.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by History Learner » 20 Nov 2021 05:03

Kingfish wrote:
20 Nov 2021 00:29
History Learner wrote:
17 Nov 2021 11:59
On that, I have to disagree. The Japanese were keeping numerical parity with us on Guadalcanal all throughout October
The Japanese never achieved numerical parity with the US at any time on Guadacanal.
Pretty sure they did in September and October, do you have the statistics handy? Genuinely curious on this, and if I'm wrong I'm wrong.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 20 Nov 2021 10:01

Hi again KDF

Your use of numbers is more than questionable, frankly...

1 May total Red Army Strength (including Air Corps, BUT without Navy) = 10,177 mill.

1 January = 10,018 mill.

OTOH, using total forces is misleading, because what mattered is how much ground troops the soviets can engage in the front, and i have show the numbers: 5 million operational + stavka in May and 6 million in November.

More to follow

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Boby » 20 Nov 2021 10:36

Thanks for the link to Shchadenko report. I was unaware of it.

According to data on total soviet mobilisation, 2,24 mill. were drafted twice. And, if according to Shchadenko report, close to 2,90 mill. were demobilised and transferred to the economy and state between start of war and end of 1942, we simply have not a breakdown by month, so your assumption that it happened at the time of the german spring and summer offensives may be right, but it is unproven. Why would the soviets demobilize about 3 million when the germans are attacking again? Anyway, this is also a reserve pool, because they can be called back again to the military, if needed (and i'm sure many of them were).

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