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 Kingfish » 20 Nov 2021 12:43

History Learner wrote:
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.
Mid-October was the period when the two sides were the closest to numerical parity, but the Japaneses still fell short not only in numbers by in distribution.

When the October offensive kicked off the Japanese had around 20K, and included the 2nd division, 2 battalions from the 38th division, and the Kawaguchi and Ichiki forces. However, part of this force had already suffered heavy losses from previous engagements.

In contrast the entire reinforced US 1st marine division, supplemented by the US 164th RCT, was in the Lunga perimeter and numbered ~23K. An additional 4K were holding Tulagi.

This is a good source:
https://history.army.mil/html/books/005 ... ub_5-3.pdf
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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 12:53

As for the other points:

Yes, it is well-known Germany lacked an unified strategic organ to direct the war, coordinate and handle all information, like the War Cabinet/Defense Committee/C.O.S. in the UK or the JCS/JPS/JWPC in the US. Here i will not disagree!

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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 13:06

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
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.
1) My point! One can't look only for the military side, but needs to take into account all other factors involved.

2) When i said all of them have no insight or value? What i'm trying to say is that an ATL is mostly an useless exercise in fertile imagination.

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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 stg 44 » 20 Nov 2021 16:09

Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 12:53
As for the other points:

Yes, it is well-known Germany lacked an unified strategic organ to direct the war, coordinate and handle all information, like the War Cabinet/Defense Committee/C.O.S. in the UK or the JCS/JPS/JWPC in the US. Here i will not disagree!
Wasn't that supposed to be OKW?

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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 16:42

Boby wrote:
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.
How is my use of numbers questionable? Let's break down the figures I provided.

05/01/1942: 11,787,122

-Red Army (front and rear): 10,177,305
-Red Army (in hospital): 1,040,817
-Navy: 569,000

01/01/1943: 11,394,375

-Red Army (front and rear): 10,017,612
-Red Army (in hospital): 949,049
-Navy: 427,714

A net loss of 392,747 personnel, which is what I wrote in my previous post on the topic.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 10:01
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.
Who says that what matters is only the number of ground troops at the front? The forces in the rear mattered too, in as much as their size and composition determined the ability of the Soviets to replenish the front.

Let's break down the Red Army (including VVS/PVO, but not Navy) for the two dates in question:

05/01/1942:

-At the front: 5,078,020 (348 divisions, 10 tank corps)
-In the rear: 3,911,992 (114 divisions, 1 tank corps)
-Facing Japan: 1,187,293 (34 divisions)
-Hospitalized: 1,040,817

01/01/1943:

-At the front: 6,191,350 (402 divisions, 16 tanks corps, 8 mechanized corps)
-In the rear: 2,694,566 (25 divisions, 4 tank corps)
-Facing Japan: 1,131,696 (25 divisions)
-Hospitalized: 949,049

The Red Army grew at the front by 1,113,330 personnel between the two dates, but decreased in the rear by 1,273,023. Why? Because the Soviets committed virtually their entire reserves to the summer fighting, which meant that by the time of their winter offensives, the RKKA had practically no reserves to speak of - excluding the forces facing Japan, just 25 divisions and 4 tanks corps, some of them in the process of rehabilitation.

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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 17:11

Hi again

What is the source for this breakdown? Thanks.

It is more than dubious to count also air and navy strength, between 2 dates, and drawn such big conclusions as you are doing. What about february, march, april...? If not, why not? What about the new recruits starting in 1943? That inoperational/inactive forces were decreasing by December is no proof of a manpower crisis.

A net loss of ca. 392k, of which 142k from the navy! 250k in the army overall, in 8 months, IMHO, is far from catastrophic.

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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 18:57

Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 17:11
Hi again

What is the source for this breakdown? Thanks.
Hello.

Sources:

-May 1942 personnel breakdown
-January 1943 personnel breakdown (Schadenko report to Stalin previously cited)

-May 1942 unit breakdown
-January 1943 unit breakdown

Question: I saw you cite mobilization data with a breakdown between the RSFSR and the other republics. I used to have a link to it, but lost it and now only have the breakdown by republic for 1943-45. Could you post the link? Thank you.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 17:11
It is more than dubious to count also air and navy strength
Why?
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 17:11
between 2 dates, and drawn such big conclusions as you are doing. What about february, march, april...? If not, why not?
Why do you assume that I haven't? Because in fact I have.

The essential difference between the period we are discussing and 1943-45 is that, for the latter period, a large proportion of Soviet conscripts came from the recovered territories. Which, for the purposes of this discussion, is irrelevant.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 17:11
What about the new recruits starting in 1943?
That would mostly be the class of 1925, which began to be called-up on 12/20/1942. Here's the full breakdown:

-817,000 conscripts from the class of 1925 (i.e., all except from reserved sectors of the economy)
-200,000 conscripts from Central Asia (up to 40 years of age)
-200,000 conscripts from reserved sectors of the economy (up to 40 years of age)
-30,000 from prison camps and penal colonies (up to 40 years of age)

Total: 1,247,000 that would be called-up and trained over the winter for deployment in the spring.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 17:11
That inoperational/inactive forces were decreasing by December is no proof of a manpower crisis.

A net loss of ca. 392k, of which 142k from the navy! 250k in the army overall, in 8 months, IMHO, is far from catastrophic.
I never spoke of a manpower crisis, a superlative that doesn't really help us understand the situation. That Soviet strength fell between May and December 1942, however, indicates that the Soviets couldn't absorb their losses - something that German intelligence, for all its flaws, had rightly concluded. Ergo, a strategy aimed at maximizing casualty-infliction made sense in the summer of 1942 - and far more sense than one of overambitious territorial acquisition that, predictably, would leave to force dilution and the exhaustion of the Ostheer's offensive potential.

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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 19:40

Thanks for the link sources

Here is the mobilisation data 41-45
https://liewar.ru/dokumenty/231-velikay ... ml?start=2

I said, is more than dubious to count air/navy strength, because it was not there where the great majority of losses occurred.

Cheers

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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 20:28

And how a 26% divisional reduction in the far east district yields only a 5% in manpower?? That's a divisional slice of 45k! Even including VVS/POV strength, it is a rather strange figure...

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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 21:26

Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 20:28
And how a 26% divisional reduction in the far east district yields only a 5% in manpower?? That's a divisional slice of 45k! Even including VVS/POV strength, it is a rather strange figure...
Partly because of an increase in the number of brigades:

05/01/1942: 34 divisions + 50 brigades
01/01/1943: 25 divisions + 65 brigades

Assuming a brigade has about 1/3 of the manpower of a division, that's a reduction of 7.9% in the number of field units, which compares to a reduction of 4.7% in overall manpower in the Far East. Given that field units were only a subset of overall strength (i.e., the latter also included VVS/PVO, separate artillery, services of supplies, etc.), the manpower figure for January 1943 makes sense.

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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 23:32

Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 10:36
Thanks for the link to Shchadenko report. I was unaware of it.
My pleasure.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 10:36
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.
Specifically, I infer that most of the transfers to industry in the first 18 1/3 months of the war occurred between May and December 1942.

Although we miss definitive evidence in the form of a monthly breakdown, we have very strong circumstantial evidence.

First, we know Soviet military strength at the beginning and end of the period: 11,787,122 on May 1st and 11,394,375 on January 1st, for a net reduction of 392,747.

Second, we know that 5,328,392 people were mobilized during the 8 months in question. Therefore, 5,721,139 personnel (5,328,392 + 392,747) must have left the ranks during that period.

Soviet military personnel left the ranks as part of one of four broad categories: they were dead or missing, they were demobilized after being disabled, they were demobilized to staff the security services / industry / allied militaries (the latter primarily occurred in the last phases of the war), or they left for miscellaneous reasons (namely, they were expelled, deserted and were never captured, or were detained).

We know from Grigoriy Krivosheev that 2,582,901 military personnel died or went missing between 04/01/1942 - 12/31/1942.

We know from Schadenko that 982,000 people were demobilized after being disabled between 06/22/1941 - 12/31/1942. For that period, roughly 54% of overall wound and sickness cases, as well as deaths from wounds, occurred between 04/01/1942 - 12/31/1942. Therefore we can assume that roughly 530,280 personnel left the military as disabled in those 9 months.

Lastly, we also know from Krivosheev that 855,000 departures occurred for miscellaneous reasons during the whole war, i.e. an average of about 18,500 per month, or 150,000 for 8 months. Given that our dead and missing figure includes losses for April 1942, we'll ignore this last category in our balance sheet.

Summing up:

Strength on May 1st: 11,787,122

+ Personnel mobilized: 5,328,392

- Dead and missing: 2,582,901 (April - December)
- Disabled demobilized: 530,280 (estimate, April - December)
- Miscellaneous demobilized : Unknown but small, effectively canceled by other categories including April

= Expected strength on January 1st: 14,002,333

As mentioned previously, real strength at the end of the period in fact amounted to 11,394,375 people, a difference of 2,607,958. Which is very close to Schadenko's reported total number of military personnel demobilized to provide for the security services and industry before 1943 (2,898,000). A (very) small margin of error for my balance sheet, as well as the "swapping" process probably starting in the winter rather than the spring of 1942, likely explains the residual difference of 290,042.
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 10:36
Why would the soviets demobilize about 3 million when the germans are attacking again?
The German general advance occurred mostly in July and August, not during the entire 8-month period. Besides, if not then, when? In the middle of Barbarossa?
Boby wrote:
20 Nov 2021 10:36
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).
Sure, they could be called back, as some certainly were. But they couldn't exactly all be remobilized without consequence, given that they served as substitutes for others in the economy. Thus, Schadenko notes that 2,541,000 of them were demobilized to work in industry. According to Mark Harrison, Soviet industry had an average of 8.7 million workers in 1942 (12.6 million if one includes construction and transport). Pulling all these men out would have shrunk the industrial labor force by 29% (or 20%).

Which, realistically, is why the Soviets never did anything of the sort. Those "swaps" were meant to optimize allocation of prime manpower to the Army, without excessively shrinking the industrial base - not to generate an idle manpower reserve.

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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 » 21 Nov 2021 01:00

KDF33 wrote: According to Mark Harrison, Soviet industry had an average of 8.7 million workers in 1942 (12.6 million if one includes construction and transport). Pulling all these men out would have shrunk the industrial labor force by 29% (or 20%).
This quantifies my main remaining concern. Between the active RKKA and the industrial labor force (inc. transport and construction), SU has a pool of ~24mil over which the ATL:OTL casualty delta is the numerator. To shrink the RKKA+[industrial labor force] by 20% via battlefield damage, you need to incapacitate ~4.8mil more Soviet soldiers than OTL by Spring 1943. That's 6-7 Taifun's or Kiev's worth of battlefield damage, which seems an ambitious goal but might be feasible given massive Kessels during the winter. Between May '42 and May '43, you'd need to add ~400k permanent casualties per month.

Is 20% sufficient to enable a knock out blow beginning in Spring '43?

Of course your ATL would hold more territory in Spring '43 than OTL, further shrinking Soviet potential by denying soldiers and workers from territory liberated after OTL Stalingrad. But it would take the Kuban and Stalingrad? Germany surely captured/killed/etc some civilian labor during latter Blau and those 4-6 months of missing production surely reduced warmaking potential as well.

Would territorial gains remove another 10% of OTL Soviet warmaking potential [measured roughly by military + industrial labor force]? 20%?

A shrunken SU/RKKA can also remove workers from agriculture, shifting the denominator towards the total workforce of ~55mil in 1942.

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

EDIT: I reread this and checked my 4th grade math books. So I corrected numerator and denominator. Learning long division next, fingers crossed.
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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 » 21 Nov 2021 09:34

Admittedly this is only tangentially related to the current conversation, but since Mark Harrison was brought up I wanted to asked it; @KDF33 and @TheMarcksPlan what are your individual opinions on Mark Harrison's The USSR and Total War: Why Didn’t the Soviet Economy Collapse in 1942? My take away of it, besides highlighting the importance of Lend Lease, was that the Soviets were borderline collapse in 1942 and could've been pushed off the ledge if given the right "punch" so to speak. That is one reason why I feel losing Moscow would have an outsized effect on the Soviet effort that its industrial/manpower value does not necessarily reflect, in that it could sufficiently demoralize large segments of the Soviet population into the belief the war is lost.

Likewise, as it pertains to KDF's proposed alt hist, at a certain point would the RKKA not start coming apart as casualties mount and belief in victory continuously decreases?
Last edited by History Learner on 21 Nov 2021 18:18, 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 TheMarcksPlan » 21 Nov 2021 10:29

History Learner wrote:your individual opinions on Mark Harrison's The USSR and Total War: Why Didn’t the Soviet Economy Collapse in 1942?
I always found this paper to be conspicuously lacking in empirical grounding. Harrison's proposed model for collapse is plausible but simplistic - that more Soviet citizens would act like "rats" (prioritizing a post-SU strategy for survival) than "mice" (prioritizing an SU-supportive strategy).

Harrison doesn't, AFAICS, make any empirical argument that the SU was "close" to collapse. He merely marvels that it didn't collapse (as we all must). He lists apparent "rat" strategies (surrenders, food crimes, the Moscow Panic) but (1) doesn't identify any trend between battlefield events and the prevalence of "rat" strategies (aside from Moscow Panic) and (2) has absolutely nothing to say regarding on what conditions the rat/mouse equilibrium would shift fatally rat-ward. Absent 1&2, the paper offers nothing suggesting a feasible route to Soviet collapse in some feasible ATL.

One TMP research project might partially fill this void by suggesting that Soviet soldiers were surrendering tactically at higher rates during late-Fall 1941.

I'd also note that Harrison's model should include freeriding - a tendency for "mice" to evince "rat-like" behavior when less worried about Soviet defeat. But these kinds of economic models are basically useless anyway, except insofar as they crystallize the notion that social cooperation is essential to social projects like a war.

In short I don't think the paper is worth much unless, like many economists, you need to build a model to remind yourself that social cooperation matters. It's common sense masquerading as math. People like Harrison are unduly shocked because they can't imagine Communism being a motivating force - just as Hitler, Antonescu, Mussolini, and Churchill couldn't.
History Learner wrote:My take away of it, besides highlighting the importance of Lend Lease, was that the Soviets were borderline collapse in 1942 and could've been pushed off the ledge if given the right "punch" so to speak. That is one reason why I feel losing Moscow would have an outsized effect on the Soviet effort that its industrial/manpower value does not necessarily reflect, in that it could sufficiently demoralize large segments of the Soviet population into the belief the war is lost.
If you want to believe losing Moscow means Soviet collapse there's nothing stopping you and nothing firmly establishing it. This was the philosophy of the German generals who were ludicrously stupid at every point in planning Barbarossa, so be careful of what intellectual company you keep.

I don't doubt that losing Moscow would have harmed morale. I believe it would have caused the abnormally high tactical surrender rates of late-Fall '41 to continue or worsen, which is very bad news for the RKKA if Ostheer keeps advancing. Surrender rates declined precipitously, however, whenever Ostheer stopped advancing, as would have happened at some point in 1941 - for logistical reasons alone - even had Ostheer taken Moscow. As you may recall, I also see no merit in arguments about losing the rail hub being decisive. I also see no evidence it would have caused instant evaporation of the Soviet state, as Halder and his gang of clowns believed. The government was resolved to keep fighting from Kuibyshev; the populace seems to have believed Moscow would fall anyway and yet collapse didn't happen. Given that belief, it's hard to imagine collapse ensuing from what most expected anyway.

I find the "just take Moscow" argument totally unconvincing, even accounting for my research on morale and surrender rates in late-Fall 1941.
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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 » 21 Nov 2021 11:19

Besides my main concern about the Eastern Front endgame, I'd also wonder about Wallied responses to KDF's timeline short of emergency Roundup (KDF's incremental strategy has allayed my concerns about triggering Roundup). I still find it likely that other extraordinary measures would at least have been attempted, albeit on a delayed timeline not permissive of Roundup. A few potential responses:
  • Massively increase Lend Lease to SU. If necessary, stop Pacific operations like Cartwheel. Escort Arctic convoys with Pacific Fleet and/or CVE's to nullify the LW/KM threat to this route (what's the throughput capacity though?).
  • Stalin agrees to Wallied presence in Southern Russia, as Britain was strenuously trying to coordinate in 1942. Stalin wasn't sufficiently desperate to allow this OTL, maybe is ATL.
  • Send Stalin all/most his aircraft needs so he can shut down these production lines and move the men to the front and/or to army production. Sending planes via ALSIB and/or the Takoradi-Mideast-Caucasus routes removes the shipping constraint.
  • Invade Norway with whatever residual forces can be scraped together on an emergency basis (synergistic with expansion of LL shipments to Murmansk/Archangelsk).
...if these measures can preserve an active - albeit diminished - Eastern Front into 1944 then a strengthened Overlord, Anvil, etc. can perhaps deal with an extensively reinforced Westheer in 1944. Perhaps.

...I'd also note that, as KDF33 has thought about the ATL Eastern Front endgame more deeply than I have, these are merely preliminary objections (questions, really).
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