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 KDF33 » 14 Nov 2021 01:04

stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 00:23
A lot, but the cardinal one was not going after Moscow in August 1941.
I disagree on two counts. First, I remain unconvinced that HGM had the supplies to attack on the Moscow direction before early September. Second, I don't see why occupying the Smolensk-Moscow region is much better than occupying the right-bank Ukraine.

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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 » 14 Nov 2021 01:36

PunctuationHorror wrote:Try to reach Jaroslavl, Nischni-Novgorod, Kasan, Saratov and establish Volga as new frontline. Then rinse and repeat. Advance, inflict losses and retreat to do it once again.
What? You'd honestly retreat back to the D-D line from the Volga voluntarily?

You're entirely failing to consider what remaining Soviet strength would be if you (for unspecified reasons) reached the Volga line. SU would have ~half of the economic/demographic resources that it started 1942 with historically. You've already won the war. It would be worth losing a million German soldiers to hold this line over the winter - rather than give everything back - because retreat is going to massively expand Soviet strength.

Besides, the logistical constraint on annually building/rebuilding railways to support your advances must be addressed.

If you're going to discuss the Eastern Front with any acuity, you need to read up on the Soviet economy and the impact of territorial/population losses. I'd start with Mark Harrison's The Soviet Homefront and move on to his other works. Then add two works by Goldman and Filtzer: Hunger and War and Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Homefront in World War II.
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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 PunctuationHorror » 14 Nov 2021 14:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Nov 2021 01:36
PunctuationHorror wrote:Try to reach Jaroslavl, Nischni-Novgorod, Kasan, Saratov and establish Volga as new frontline. Then rinse and repeat. Advance, inflict losses and retreat to do it once again.
What? You'd honestly retreat back to the D-D line from the Volga voluntarily?
Nah. I forgot to say 'retreat to this new line'. As I wrote in #59: Wear SU down between D-D line and a territory approx 300km east of this line and then, as soon as Soviet strength is down, advance to Volga. Historically a 6:1 exchange ratio wasn't enough. How to make in 8:1 or 10:1? Advance retreat could be a viable opportunity to increase the exchange ratio.

In Western SU are three possible river lines: Daugava-Dniepr, Don-Moskva-northwesternVolga, and Volga to Lake Onega. Each is approx 500km resp. 310mi apart of each other (less in the north, more in the south). Don-Moskva is smaller and has a 250mi gap between Tver and Leningrad/Lake Ladoga.

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TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Nov 2021 01:36

You're entirely failing to consider what remaining Soviet strength would be if you (for unspecified reasons) reached the Volga line. SU would have ~half of the economic/demographic resources that it started 1942 with historically. You've already won the war. It would be worth losing a million German soldiers to hold this line over the winter - rather than give everything back - because retreat is going to massively expand Soviet strength.
Germany can't afford loosing these 1,000,000 soldiers. They need manpower to occupy and secure the vast terrain of western SU after victory, to use the industry (own and conquered), to bring up mining and resource extraction in occupied territories. And of course, they need soldiers for fending off the WAllies in Europe and secure the Med. Then they need manpower to align (diplomatically or in force, the former via bases and a standing army) Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Suez on the eastern part and Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar on the western part. And there would be big losses in defeating the SU because war with the SU will still be costly - even with D-D line advance-retreat operations. Maybe it is possible to reduce german losses to 30,000 per month (down from 50k -100,000). SU has more manpower and can faster regain and recover than Germany (this translates directly to Germany cant afford to loose manpower). So Germany will have to continuously inflict high losses until SU can't recover anymore. Historically SU had manpower problems in 1945 and was short famine in the years after the war. This logically leads to a German strategy which is a perverse sort of a whack a mole game.

Even with holding the Volga line you still have not won the war. But holding Volga line would help to do so.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Nov 2021 01:36

Besides, the logistical constraint on annually building/rebuilding railways to support your advances must be addressed.

If you're going to discuss the Eastern Front with any acuity, you need to read up on the Soviet economy and the impact of territorial/population losses. I'd start with Mark Harrison's The Soviet Homefront and move on to his other works. Then add two works by Goldman and Filtzer: Hunger and War and Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Homefront in World War II.
The purpose of these advances is to encircle and inflict losses combined with a swift retreat. This should be within ~300km max. For comparison: Smolensk-Viasma battle '41 were 200km. Don't know how much railway building is needed for operations of this type.

Thank you for the literature. Will read it as soon as I find time.

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KDF has some good points, will adress them later.

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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 maltesefalcon » 14 Nov 2021 15:54

Germany and its allies did not have the manpower to guard this line from penetration along its entire length. They could however maintain the initiative by mounting offensives and counter offensives which would inevitably draw Soviet forces to their strongest formations.

By 1943, time was on the side of the Allies on all fronts. Sitting and waiting for the Soviets to build their strength and punch through on their own schedule would be fatal to the Axis efforts on the Ostfront IMHO.

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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 » 14 Nov 2021 19:00

Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
You do realize we are talking about alternate history, right? Obviously there is a reason they didn't do it historically, but we're discussing an alternate scenario where they do this. If you want to fixate on what and why things happened as they did historically we have other subsections for that.
Yes I do, and I formulated my opinion based on that. I think a river line in relatively the western edge of the Soviet Union will not be impregnable in 1942/1943. There were larger forces at play than a proper defense line.
Agree to disagree about the defense line. Agreed about the larger forces, though I don't think they play the factor you think they do.
Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
Your 'analysis' fails to actually take into consideration that the Wallies had to ship everything across the Atlantic to make the British economy run, provide LL to the Soviets, and of course to deploy any American divisions. Even with Germany first the Pacific theater sucked up a lot of resources for both the British and US to the point that both were maxed out in terms of manpower even before D-Day, hence why the British had to start breaking up divisions to keep the rest up to strength prior to Normandy and after it had to start reducing the number of companies in divisions as well.
If we are talking about the global war, the Axis have lost control of the seas, and the Japanese got badly beaten by 1944. For them, there was no chance to return to the game. The Axis was defeated simultaneously at D-Day, Bagration, LL, Italy, Southern France, etc. The Allied numerical superiority by 1944 was something that the Axis simply couldn't compete with. On top of that, the minor Axis allies didn't even want to.
Control over the seas was never had by the Axis. They just weren't contesting it nearly as much by 1944, but that only matters to Wallied shipping, not Axis ability to fight effectively enough to win the war on land.

Again that is all OTL, we're talking about and ATL scenario where different choices are made much in advance of D-Day, Bagration, Southern France, etc. Honestly it does seem like you're stuck in a very deterministic mindset where OTL was the only way things could go despite major changes being made at least 9 months in advance. Conditions by 1944 would be very different.
Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
The US too had a chronic shortage of replacements as well (in part a function of poor planning) and was getting the point of having to mobilize factory workers for more manpower, which would have negatively impacted their output, which has not hitting planned targets in 1944-45 either.
Negative impact on economy is what mobilization does. Germany didn't hit planned targets even before the war - what does that tell us? Relatively little.

Most of the European continent is either an island (like Britain, Ireland, etc.) or a peninsula. In fact, what we call Europe is largely France, Germany and the buffer states between Germany and Russia. German rule was so unpopular that landing on Europe would not be a hard thing: in Italy, in Scandinavia, in the Balkans, in Iberia... it could be done eventually. And then, those millions of people would stream towards Allied flags. Germany alone could not rule Europe. No state can.
Before the war they were limited by the need to keep a civilian economy running, so ran into the problem of trying to have guns and butter at the same time. Everyone had problems hitting planned targets pre-war and early war. By 1944 the issue for the Allies was lack of manpower to run their industry and military; they had hit hard limits and casualties were eating into their ability to hit production targets as well; the US was constantly complaining about that in 1944 as well as shipping woes. The only way to solve that as through mobilization of the entire population to work in war industries with strict civilian rationing, but that politically impossible in the US and in fact civilians were demanding lesser rationing that year.

Unpopularity of the German occupation has little to do with the ease of landing. Even across the Channel was considered a massive risk for the allies and if not for the weather the invasion might have actually failed IOTL. Millions did not stream toward the Allied flag after Allied forces arrived in 1943-44, they were content to let the existing Allied armies do the fighting for them as they got out of the way. The French were unable to get much in the way of volunteers to fight after liberation and had to rely on conscription and colonial troops. In Italy too there wasn't a major upswell of troops willing to continue fighting for the Allies either.
Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
The Soviets too were depending on capturing more territory to generate replacements to keep going, so with a planning retreat to prepared defenses they'd have deprived the Soviets of major manpower gains in 3 and 4Q 1943 and byeond.
Indeed. But, if the Germans would abandon the vast territories east of the D-D line, the Soviets could utilize the potential of those territories much more easily.
Not if it was a planned phased retreat that was able to conduct scorched earth. Largely it seems they were able to destroy the physical infrastructure, they just weren't able to evacuate the military age male population in its entirety.

Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
If not for massive strategic and operational mistakes Hitler made things could have been quite different.
The strategic mistake was to send the Soviet Union to the Allies, or to start the war to begin with. If Germany didn't start WW2, it could achieve anything in 10-20 years (when the colonial system collapsed).
Agreed.

Peter89 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 22:14
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 18:00
Really the big thing that would have changed the war situation is stabilizing the Ukrainian front, as after that happens German casualties go way down relative to what historically happened from September 1943 onwards, while people in the East who sided with Stalin after the Germans went from defeat to defeat from late 1943 on historically would more likely stay neutral or assist the side they perceived to be winning to avoid punishment. It is notable that German aligned Soviet citizens started switching back to Stalin after the retreat of September 1943 started and got worse in 1944.
There was no chance to stabilize the Eastern front from 1943 onwards. Why? Because Germany has lost the Battle of the Atlantic, and the Allies began their bombing campaign, and they have lost the battles on the peripheries, and because they were defeated diplomatically. They had to occupy southern France, Italy, Denmark, etc. What they could do was to score a few defensive victories and prolong the suffering of the people affected by the war. It was utter nonsense. By 1943 nobody even wanted a German-dominated Europe.
The war wasn't won until the core of Axis territories were invaded, so the defeats on the periphery weren't remotely fatal. What was fatal was bungling the key defensive operations of late 1943-44. Those could have worked if Hitler had been willing to listen to the advice of Manstein (in the east that is).
KDF33 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 01:04
stg 44 wrote:
12 Nov 2021 00:23
A lot, but the cardinal one was not going after Moscow in August 1941.
I disagree on two counts. First, I remain unconvinced that HGM had the supplies to attack on the Moscow direction before early September. Second, I don't see why occupying the Smolensk-Moscow region is much better than occupying the right-bank Ukraine.
For the first point since it is speculative we'll just have to agree to disagree.
On the second the Smolensk-Moscow region had more irreplaceable specialist industry and more importantly electrical production. Plus East Ukraine could be taken in 1942, Moscow probably could not be taken the next year without crippling casualties.

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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 Peter89 » 14 Nov 2021 20:46

stg 44 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 19:00
I have a lot of problems with your opinion.

1.) Europe has certain strategic attributes that can not be ignored. She has a peculiar geography. She is actually a peninsula of the Eurasian continent that has more surface on its own peninsulas and islands than the core of the peninsula. Except Russia. Because Russia is bigger than the rest of it combined. Also it is not Eurasia. It is the Eurasian-African supercontinent. Russia wants to take the chokepoints to access the supercontinent. Russia can't do that. We have extremely strong national identities. We are used to die for these identities when circumstances demand it. This is paradoxical as no nationality can rule the rest, but together, even if in competition, the Europeans have conquered the world. Etc. In your analysis, you only care about hard power. It is inadequate to explain why Germany could or couldn't rule Europe.

2.) Germany was defeated pretty thoroughly in WW2. The reasons for this are well known from strategic ineptitude, economic inferiority, bad leadership, poor choices, terrible diplomacy. The Allies were on the continent by 1943, and the Italians tried to change sides. The Hungarians basically invited them. There were resistance and sabotage everywhere, even in Germany. The Portuguese offered the Azores to the Allies. Production disparity began to reach perverse levels. The Allies could land troops in the Balkans or in Iberia, but could the Germans resist such an invasion? Not really. Yes the Dutch, French, etc. did not stream towards allied flags in the 11 months they spent on the continent, why? Because nobody was foolish to die for nothing. And of course, the US wanted to take a leading position after the war. It could not let that the people of Europe have fought for their freedom, even though thats what they did, alone, without the chance of success, facing Germany / Italy / SU alone. If the Allied situation was be so critical, they would set up training centres for military personnel. What they have done instead was to cut everyone out of the negotiation table, and for that, they deemed a few years of extra economic effort realistic. The UK or the US lost fewer people than, let's say, Hungary, Yugoslavia or Poland. The shortages you mention are not critical shortages. MAYBE they couldn't finish off Japan AND crush the Ostheer AND land twice in France AND crush the Westheer and take France. Maybe they could do only 1 or 2 of that in 1944. Maybe they could not breach an improved Panther-Wotan line in 1944. Maybe the war could last for a few more months, maybe a year. It is possible. But the outcome was not in doubt by 1943. Had it been, with any real possibility, the Allies would not take such a rigid diplomatic attitude.
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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 » 14 Nov 2021 23:30

PunctuationHorror wrote:Nah. I forgot to say 'retreat to this new line'. As I wrote in #59: Wear SU down between D-D line and a territory approx 300km east of this line and then, as soon as Soviet strength is down, advance to Volga.
My mistake. My earlier reply didn't give your post its due.

I've said something broadly similar to your idea in advocating that the latter stages of Blau should have been conceived as a raid, with the option/plan of falling back to Don/Kuban in late-Fall or early winter.

Nonetheless, my basic objection remains that you seem to be placing too much emphasis on battlefield attrition and too little on capturing/destroying Soviet territorial/demographic resources.
PunctuationHorror wrote:Historically a 6:1 exchange ratio wasn't enough. How to make in 8:1 or 10:1? Advance retreat could be a viable opportunity to increase the exchange ratio.
It's a good idea - better than OTL - if we take for granted Barbarossa's OTL German resource endowments. I don't take those endowments for granted but, rather than insist on my approach, I'll just note our different orientations.
PunctuationHorror wrote:Even with holding the Volga line you still have not won the war. But holding Volga line would help to do so.
PunctutationHorror wrote:Germany can't afford loosing these 1,000,000 soldiers
I didn't mean that holding the Volga line ends the war per the original Barbarossa plan (which I think was ludicrously stupid). Rather, securing the Volga line means Germany can thereafter mop up the SU by taking at least the Central Urals in the next campaigning season.* An SU pushed back to the Volga line has only ~50% of its OTL 1942 resources, which means it can field only ~50% of its OTL 1942 army in the next campaign season: maybe 3mil soldiers facing Germany. That's a cakewalk for an Ostheer even smaller than the OTL 1942 Heer. Once Germany has taken the Central Urals, the SU is a minor factor in the war even if a rump state somehow continues to exist beyond the Urals (armistice is more likely, as the rump SU would otherwise starve).

My broad point is that you're not connecting the various lines of German advance to the remaining Soviet resources for force regeneration, which is a far more important factor than battlefield attrition.

My remark about losing 1mil soldiers to hold the Volga line was offhand so I won't defend it vigorously. Note that Germany mobilized 13mil men during WW2, however. If defeating the SU needs a sacrifice of 1mil men in 1942/43, that's worth it and, in the long term, affordable.

*Potential caveat is when the Volga line is reached and whether the Allies are prepared to invade France around that time.
PunctuationHorror wrote:Thank you for the literature. Will read it as soon as I find time.
It's not so much a matter of doing the reading as being open to the broader point that I'm making - to repeat that the SU's economic/demographic resources for force regeneration are a far more important factor in WW2 than anything else.

That said, battlefield attrition is an important factor. It's important in determining whether Germany takes Soviet resources. As KDF33 points out, giving RKKA low-attrition breathing room is dangerous because, until/unless Germany diminishes Soviet resources, this allows RKKA to grow sufficiently to prevent further territorial loss.
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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 » 15 Nov 2021 01:31

Peter89 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 20:46
I have a lot of problems with your opinion.
That's fine, I have quite a few with yours, but we can civilly agree to disagree.
Peter89 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 20:46
1.) Europe has certain strategic attributes that can not be ignored. She has a peculiar geography. She is actually a peninsula of the Eurasian continent that has more surface on its own peninsulas and islands than the core of the peninsula. Except Russia. Because Russia is bigger than the rest of it combined. Also it is not Eurasia. It is the Eurasian-African supercontinent. Russia wants to take the chokepoints to access the supercontinent. Russia can't do that. We have extremely strong national identities. We are used to die for these identities when circumstances demand it. This is paradoxical as no nationality can rule the rest, but together, even if in competition, the Europeans have conquered the world. Etc. In your analysis, you only care about hard power. It is inadequate to explain why Germany could or couldn't rule Europe.
You're overly fixated on generalities rather than the specifics of the situation in question. Plus you ignored the reality that the public generally sided with the one that appeared to be winning rather than being motivated by specific animosity to one side or the other.
The USSR had to execute something like 200,000 of its own soldiers to motivate them to fight:
http://euromaidanpress.com/2018/05/15/s ... rman-ones/
Doesn't seem like that 'strong national identity' was as motivating as you think. Plus you're also ignoring the million + Soviets that served in the German army during the war.
Peter89 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 20:46
2.) Germany was defeated pretty thoroughly in WW2. The reasons for this are well known from strategic ineptitude, economic inferiority, bad leadership, poor choices, terrible diplomacy. The Allies were on the continent by 1943, and the Italians tried to change sides. The Hungarians basically invited them. There were resistance and sabotage everywhere, even in Germany. The Portuguese offered the Azores to the Allies. Production disparity began to reach perverse levels. The Allies could land troops in the Balkans or in Iberia, but could the Germans resist such an invasion? Not really. Yes the Dutch, French, etc. did not stream towards allied flags in the 11 months they spent on the continent, why? Because nobody was foolish to die for nothing. And of course, the US wanted to take a leading position after the war. It could not let that the people of Europe have fought for their freedom, even though thats what they did, alone, without the chance of success, facing Germany / Italy / SU alone. If the Allied situation was be so critical, they would set up training centres for military personnel. What they have done instead was to cut everyone out of the negotiation table, and for that, they deemed a few years of extra economic effort realistic. The UK or the US lost fewer people than, let's say, Hungary, Yugoslavia or Poland. The shortages you mention are not critical shortages. MAYBE they couldn't finish off Japan AND crush the Ostheer AND land twice in France AND crush the Westheer and take France. Maybe they could do only 1 or 2 of that in 1944. Maybe they could not breach an improved Panther-Wotan line in 1944. Maybe the war could last for a few more months, maybe a year. It is possible. But the outcome was not in doubt by 1943. Had it been, with any real possibility, the Allies would not take such a rigid diplomatic attitude.
IOTL yes, but again we're talking about an ATL where the German leadership makes different decisions in time to avoid disaster.
The Italian front was really going nowhere fast, so citing that as an example of a successful operation is ignoring the major drain it represented to Allied resources.
The Hungarians fought to the bitter end on the German side, it was Horthy who was trying to save his own ass by trying to flip sides and did so so stupidly the Germans were able to easily replace him and the army fought the Soviets until the end.
The Portuguese were allied to the British for hundreds of years, so it is hardly surprising they'd make such an offer, especially when concerned about Spanish entry into the war and annexation.
Production disparities didn't matter as much as you think due to loss disparities and the need of the allies to actually ship their divisions and equipment across oceans. Doesn't matter what is in the depot if you can't get it to the battlefield.

The Allies were not going to land in Iberia ever given the terrain and Spanish resistance if they tried. The Allies similarly had no interest in the Balkans due to the terrain and logistics, despite Churchill's fantasies (the failed Aegean campaign put the kibosh on that).


Since it would seem we don't see eye to eye on the subject and have little prospect of even finding common ground we probably should just leave this as an 'agree to disagree' on the basic facts.

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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 » 15 Nov 2021 02:18

stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
IOTL yes, but again we're talking about an ATL where the German leadership makes different decisions in time to avoid disaster.
Even if the Panther-Wotan line was developed earlier and held off the Soviets (IMO, a big if), I fail to see how it changes the ultimate outcome.

Italy's fascist regime will still collapse in July and the Germans will still have to commit close to a million ground troops to garrison the Mediterranean littoral.

The CBO will still erode the Jagdwaffe and come May 1944 will effectively stop German fuel production. It will also still wreck the French transportation system in anticipation for Overlord. The latter operation will remain viable even if the Germans transfer some formations away from the Eastern Front.
stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
The Italian front was really going nowhere fast, so citing that as an example of a successful operation is ignoring the major drain it represented to Allied resources.
I don't see how the invasion of Italy constituted a larger drain on Allied than on German resources.

German ground forces deployed in Africa / Italy / the Balkans, various dates:

07/01/1942: 135,000
07/01/1943: 491,000
10/01/1943: 663,000
01/01/1944: 724,000
04/01/1944: 814,000
07/01/1944: 868,000

Source: German docs in Russia

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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 » 15 Nov 2021 02:43

Peter89 wrote:The reasons for this [Axis loss] are well known from strategic ineptitude, economic inferiority, bad leadership, poor choices, terrible diplomacy.
I'll just note that, unless you state which of these were sufficient and/or necessary conditions of Axis defeat, none of them are entailed by the fact of Axis defeat.

Only if they're all jointly necessary does Axis defeat entail them all. Joint necessity, however, implies that the Axis could have overcome, say, "strategic ineptitude, economic inferiority, bad leadership, and poor choices" but not those factors plus "terrible diplomacy."

Absent such clarity, every thread is more likely to become a furball wherein you can shift between alternate causal explanations of WW2.
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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 » 15 Nov 2021 03:06

KDF33 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 02:18
I don't see how the invasion of Italy constituted a larger drain on Allied than on German resources.

German ground forces deployed in Africa / Italy / the Balkans, various dates:

07/01/1942: 135,000
07/01/1943: 491,000
10/01/1943: 663,000
01/01/1944: 724,000
04/01/1944: 814,000
07/01/1944: 868,000

Source: German docs in Russia
Thanks for the document link.

The Italian Campaign seems unarguably the right move assuming no invasion of France in 1943 (and maybe even with a 1943 D-Day in certain circumstances).

That said, the mere threat of Allies invading Italy would have tied down at least the majority of Army Group C's OTL forces, which were only ~40% of Army Groups C+F (314k of 814k on 1.4.1944). As AG-F's size demonstrates, Hitler was willing to tie down enormous resources even absent actual invasion.

Not really disagreeing, just throwing that out there.
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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 » 15 Nov 2021 03:12

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 02:43
Absent such clarity, every thread is more likely to become a furball wherein you can shift between alternate causal explanations of WW2.
The question wasn't addressed to me but I'll jump in to provide my most concise answer here:

1. Germany lost World War 2 because it became embroiled in extensive, prolonged warfare against the USSR while at war with the Anglo-American coalition.

1.1 The Soviet-German conflict was prolonged because:

a. In 1941, German planning rested on faulty assumptions ("the Soviet Union can be eliminated as a factor in a single campaign") and therefore was under-resourced, with no force (re)generation to speak of once the operation began.

b. In 1942, German planning again rested on faulty assumptions ("the Soviet Union can no longer make good large-scale casualties") and therefore had unrealistic goals, namely a succession of medium- to large-sized offensives on different axes (Blau, Wirbelwind, Nordlicht) whose main effort - Blau - deliberately extended the frontline and therefore diluted both offensive and defensive German potential.

Past the Torch landings and the defeat at Stalingrad and on the Don, the Germans were no longer in a position to allocate sufficient resources in any single theater to maintain the initiative anywhere. Their window of opportunity had closed and Hitler's war was lost.

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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 » 15 Nov 2021 03:35

KDF33 wrote:1. Germany lost World War 2 because it became embroiled in extensive, prolonged warfare against the USSR while at war with the Anglo-American coalition.
Obviously I agree.

What's remarkable is that most people would probably also agree with this statement but don't realize its logical corollary:

If (1) is a broadly sufficient explanation of Axis defeat then no other explanation is needed. I.e. one can't infer from the fact of Allied victory anything about the wisdom of Allied strategy in WW2 - other than the "strategy" not to make separate peace and/or not to have one of the coalition partners collapse.

From that standpoint it should be obviously acceptable to inquire whether Allied strategy was any good and, when we look at the facts, I don't see how anyone can believe it was good apart from the Soviet Union's. The Western Allies never really had a strategy for defeating Germany because fundamentally the war's course and outcome was not in their hands: Either the SU survived - in which case they largely freeride on Soviet heroism - or the Soviet Union falls and they have no non-frivolous plan ever to conquer Germany (prior to the A bomb).

And this isn't hindsight; American military leaders were painfully aware of their lack of grand strategy in 1942. The JUSSC stated:
The lack of an overall strategic plan upon
which to base production planning is deplored. Production programs are now geared
to the equipment and employment of forces
for which no general strategic plan has been
enunciated. The size and general composition of the forces which will result may not
be adequate or suitable for successful conduct of the war. Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43
While Marshall stated:
In fact, at the
war’s end Marshall admitted that the United States had not had a strategy at
the time of the meeting, and did not really settle on one until after the
Casablanca Conference. [Keep from All Thought Men citing the War Reports of General George C. Marshall, 155–60.]
To the extent the Allies had a grand strategy, it was to rely on the shiny new object (heavy bombers) to replace the mass slaughter of WW1. That was a failure OTL and would have been ATL had the Soviet Union met their expectations and collapsed in a few weeks.


At base, the Free World prevailed because the Soviet peoples believed sufficiently in Communism and its promise - despite all of Stalin's horrors - to support the government in ways that their fathers had not supported the Czar. The Free World and the Fascist world went into the war believing that the SU would rapidly collapse, in part because they shared a rabid anti-communism and didn't believe it could maintain a war effort.

Anyway, that's become more clear to me from reading the great new book Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front during World War II, which convincingly argues that the Communist regime's powers of compulsion, while great, are insufficient to explain the SU's survival in WW2. The Cold War narrative is that Stalin's panopticon precluded any deviance from Party line, that Soviet citizen were cowed automatons following orders. Fortress documents that the state had actually limited ability to enforce mobilization measures against non-complying Soviet citizens, some of whom were not willing to follow orders and who largely evaded punishment for noncompliance.
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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 » 15 Nov 2021 04:21

KDF33 wrote:b. In 1942, German planning again rested on faulty assumptions ("the Soviet Union can no longer make good large-scale casualties") and therefore had unrealistic goals, namely a succession of medium- to large-sized offensives on different axes (Blau, Wirbelwind, Nordlicht) whose main effort - Blau - deliberately extended the frontline and therefore diluted both offensive and defensive German potential.
I'm eagerly anticipating your German victory ATL with 1942 PoD. As I've said, I have trouble seeing it but remain open. But I also suspect I'm not very good at alternate history, as I see doing a German victory ATL with 1940 PoD as straightforwardly easy. So if you can pull it off I'll be particularly impressed. The biggest obstacle I see is FDR pushing up D-Day into 1943 if SU is on the ropes - but still strong - when Casablanca happens. I can see potentially successful German responses, such as Ostheer defending weakly and elastically in 1943 and while a strengthened Westheer seeks to crush the Allied expeditionary force. Don't know if that works though.

Even if not leading to Endsieg, alternate 1942 timelines are fascinating. Your suggestion that planning for Whirbelwind and Norlicht undercut Blau raises the issue of - can AG's North and South defend against the Soviet offensives in summer/fall '42 absent the forces envisioned for those offensives? Maybe Ostheer abandons the Rzhev Salient in '42 and defends elastically everywhere but the critical AGS sector?

I could see a situation developing in which Germany effectively stalemates RKKA somewhere between Donets and Don but Ostheer can't mount offensives. Think the OTL July 1943 balance but Ostheer has the 20 or so extra divisions it would have needed to stalemate the post-Kursk offensives. In that situation, I can see Stalin saying basically "no more offensives until we get a second front in France." That probably extends the war significantly and offloads a lot of dying onto the Wallies. Perhaps the postwar map looks significantly different also, with Wallies rushing into a post-A-bomb vacuum to snatch territory before the RKKA arrives from deep within the SU.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 15 Nov 2021 04:28, 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 » 15 Nov 2021 04:27

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 03:06
That said, the mere threat of Allies invading Italy would have tied down at least the majority of Army Group C's OTL forces, which were only ~40% of Army Groups C+F (314k of 814k on 1.4.1944). As AG-F's size demonstrates, Hitler was willing to tie down enormous resources even absent actual invasion.

Not really disagreeing, just throwing that out there.
Agreed. With that being said, the Allies already had the forces in theater, so they might as well have engaged the enemy rather than kept them idle, or transfer them wholesale back to England. The latter would also have removed them as a force-in-being, without shortening Overlord's timetable.

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