PODs for Leningrad in 1941

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DixieDivision1418
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PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by DixieDivision1418 » 16 Jan 2022 05:15

Based on a quick reading of most of the threads pertaining to Leningrad in 1941, I've come away with the impression that the Germans taking Leningrad was possible - or at least, more plausible than taking Moscow.

What I'm looking is a specific Point of Divergence (POD) that would allow for this to happen. Do you simply need Hitler to remain committed to taking the city, rather than starving it out, or do you have to go farther back, such as the Luga line breaking earlier?

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2022 10:15

Keeping Panzer Group 4 with AGN and reinforcing it with at least the two reserve panzer divisions (net 4 mechanized divisions) is probably sufficient to reach the Svir via Tikhvin in September-October. Volkhov/Northwestern and Leningrad Fronts are thereby cut off from supply and, given what happened in other Kessels, probably don't last a month. That destroys ~700k Soviet soldiers, per GKO's ration strength for September.

This comes at the cost of weakening Taifun. But if AGC loses only 4 mechanized divisions to AGN, it can still do a large Kessel on the Moscow axis. If that bags "only" 400k instead of OTL's 671k then, combined with AGN's battle, Ostheer has destroyed ~400k more RKKA strength than OTL.

This is an ATL I've pondered in the background...

Additional strategic benefits:
  • AGC doesn't overextend itself going for Moscow in late '41; its winter battles have a more favorable exchange ratio (especially in material losses).
  • By taking Leningrad and clearing the Baltic, Ostheer has improved logistics in 1942 via the sea route in Spring '42. Naval resources released from the theater.
  • The Finnish Army is largely free except north of Lake Onega. This removes the OTL deception they practiced in telling Hitler they wanted to cut the Murmansk railway while silently breaking off the push on Belomorsk under US pressure. Knowing what's up, Hitler can perhaps use the dire Finnish need for grain (Germany supplied 210k tons) to perhaps force Finland to sever SU's main LL conduit during Winter 1942.
  • Morale dividend of taking Leningrad rather than being defeated outside Moscow.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by DixieDivision1418 » 17 Jan 2022 20:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2022 10:15
Keeping Panzer Group 4 with AGN and reinforcing it with at least the two reserve panzer divisions (net 4 mechanized divisions) is probably sufficient to reach the Svir via Tikhvin in September-October. Volkhov/Northwestern and Leningrad Fronts are thereby cut off from supply and, given what happened in other Kessels, probably don't last a month. That destroys ~700k Soviet soldiers, per GKO's ration strength for September.
Would German logistics be able to support the extra mechanized divisions?

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2022 20:49

DixieDivision1418 wrote:
17 Jan 2022 20:19
Would German logistics be able to support the extra mechanized divisions?
No strong reason to believe otherwise.

Again this is a partial substitute for Taifun, which saw AGC advance ~250km from around Yartsevo to the outskirts of Moscow. The advance from AGN's OTL September positions to the Svir is ~150km.

In addition, the wear and tear on German vehicles is lower in this ATL: Instead of PzGr4 marching from Leningrad back to Yartsevo - mostly by road - it merely advances from where it already is in September.

Furthermore, by advancing in September you avoid much/most of the Rasputitsa period - maybe all of it if you can reach the Svir by early October. That means your truck logistics are better than were AGC's during October.

In the background of the different force dispositions would, of course, be different logistical arrangements. Some of the long-range truck supply columns (Grosstransportraum) that supported PzGr4 towards Moscow OTL would be used around Leningrad ATL. Some of the railway engineers, other labor (RAD and OT), and rolling stock supporting AGC would instead support AGN.

AGN also had the option of partal sea supply via Tallinn during this period, which can perhaps be drawn upon further if AGN is strengthened (as an alternative to relocating rail assets from AGC's sector).
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Jan 2022 21:06

DixieDivision1418 wrote:
17 Jan 2022 20:19
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2022 10:15
Keeping Panzer Group 4 with AGN and reinforcing it with at least the two reserve panzer divisions (net 4 mechanized divisions) is probably sufficient to reach the Svir via Tikhvin in September-October. Volkhov/Northwestern and Leningrad Fronts are thereby cut off from supply and, given what happened in other Kessels, probably don't last a month. That destroys ~700k Soviet soldiers, per GKO's ration strength for September.
Would German logistics be able to support the extra mechanized divisions?
This concept also requires Hitler et al to forgo the "go all out for the 'enemy' capital" strategy they had used against the Poles, Danes, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, French, Yugoslavs, and Greeks, however.

It's fair point that in all those cases, the capital was - essentially - the administrative center and, in most cases, the transportation hub for the defending power, which was not true for the USSR in 1941, but still - the German strategy for the USSR in 1941 was predicated on a crushing victory in one campaign season, and going for the enemy capital was how they had managed that in every campaign they had fought so far in the conflict, so expecting a more realistic approach is ... asking a lot.

It amounts to the "if Hitler was competent" alternative history question, which is a foundational problem with every such "what if," as opposed to the "historical alternative" idea, which requires the foundational assumption to be based in reality, not whimsy ...

The answer, of course, to the "if Hitler was competent" question is 'he would have been a successful and happy artist and family man in Vienna.'

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2022 21:16

daveshoup2MD wrote:It amounts to the "if Hitler was competent" alternative history question
This is a fundamental misconception of who's to blame for Ostheer's defeat, one that is basically determined by the dishonest accounts of war criminals that the US Army platformed after the war (Halder et. al.). It's not wise to trust the word of the men who oversaw the most evil military campaign in modern history (the Wehrmacht's war in the East would earn that title even absent the Holocaust).

Hitler's conception of Barbarossa was "Leningrad first, Ukraine second, Moscow third." He agreed to Taifun - after securing Ukraine and Leningrad - only at the insistence of his generals.

The "different Hitler" is somebody secure enough to keep his initial vision and ignore his generals. At this point in the war, he wasn't quite that strong a dictator. Hitler probably should have maintained that the promised Moscow offensive was premised on securing Ukraine and Leningrad and that, as these objectives had not been secured, the Moscow offensive would have to be weakened or canceled.

I could see merit in an alternate strategy foregoing Moscow entirely that fall. Do a strong push of Leningrad and use PzGr2 in conjunction with PG1 in a double envelopment of Kharkov. That probably secures all of Ukraine and perhaps enables Ostheer to hold Rostov that winter, which massively assists a 1942 push by AGS.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Jan 2022 21:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2022 21:16
daveshoup2MD wrote:It amounts to the "if Hitler was competent" alternative history question
This is a fundamental misconception of who's to blame for Ostheer's defeat, one that is basically determined by the dishonest accounts of war criminals that the US Army platformed after the war (Halder et. al.). It's not wise to trust the word of the men who oversaw the most evil military campaign in modern history (the Wehrmacht's war in the East would earn that title even absent the Holocaust).

Hitler's conception of Barbarossa was "Leningrad first, Ukraine second, Moscow third." He agreed to Taifun - after securing Ukraine and Leningrad - only at the insistence of his generals.

The "different Hitler" is somebody secure enough to keep his initial vision and ignore his generals. At this point in the war, he wasn't quite that strong a dictator. Hitler probably should have maintained that the promised Moscow offensive was premised on securing Ukraine and Leningrad and that, as these objectives had not been secured, the Moscow offensive would have to be weakened or canceled.

I could see merit in an alternate strategy foregoing Moscow entirely that fall. Do a strong push of Leningrad and use PzGr2 in conjunction with PG1 in a double envelopment of Kharkov. That probably secures all of Ukraine and perhaps enables Ostheer to hold Rostov that winter, which massively assists a 1942 push by AGS.
Okay, so (edited) do you prefer the "if the German leadership was competent" alternative history question, instead? ;)

This is the same individual who thought taking on the UK, USSR, and USA simultaneously was a good idea, but if that's the hill you want to die on, okay...

In any event, it's the same basic issue, in that the Germans though they could destroy the USSR in one campaign season, and - from the evidence of where they historically sent their forces - they thought taking Moscow would do that, they tried, and failed.

It had worked for them eight times before, of course, so there was that...
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 17 Jan 2022 22:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2022 21:39

daveshoup2MD wrote:Okay, so given your clear desire to defend Hitler's abilities
This kind of talk is not productive. To say Hitler's strategic vision was better than his generals' is not to say his Barbarossa strategy was good.

The OP asked whether Germany could have taken Leningrad; the answer is yes.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Jan 2022 22:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2022 21:39
daveshoup2MD wrote:Okay, so given your clear desire to defend Hitler's abilities
This kind of talk is not productive. To say Hitler's strategic vision was better than his generals' is not to say his Barbarossa strategy was good.

The OP asked whether Germany could have taken Leningrad; the answer is yes.
Fine, I'll edit it.

But they didn't, correct? And your argument is the Germans had the resources - at essence, all they needed to do was re-assign four motorized divisions from Army Group Center to Army Group North, and sustain them, apparently - but chose not to use them, so either the Germans could not manage to pick an objective and stick to it (which goes back to the need for "a better Hitler" or "a better German general staff" or something along those lines) ... or, and perhaps as likely, is the Germans' resources in 1941 were not sufficient to achieve their objectives, period.

Rational German warlords, even if placed in command in the winter of 1940-41 (and so without any responsibility for what had come before), presumably would have said something along the lines of "let's end the current war we're in = somehow - before we start another" and yet the realities of the Nazi system of leadership were such that by the end of 1941, Germany was at war with the US, USSR, and UK simultaneously - which doesn't say much for Germany's leadership being able to recognize military and economic realities at any level in this same period, does it?

The Germans (at least those in charge of Germany's war effort, whoever they were) thought the Soviets would collapse in 1941; they were wrong, not unlike the Japanese thought the US would the same year, or - for that matter - the German genius (whoever that was) who thought declaring war on the US in December, 1941, was good strategy, as well.

Oddly enough, the Allies - British, Soviets, Americans - rarely if ever did what the Axis thought they would do... interesting, that. ;)

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2022 22:49

boring

...and besides the thread topic.

You're raising issues I've discussed in many other thread, such as here. You're welcome to engage there on specific points with specific evidence/analysis.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Jan 2022 23:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:49
boring

...and besides the thread topic.

You're raising issues I've discussed in many other thread, such as here. You're welcome to engage there on specific points with specific evidence/analysis.
Thread topic is what could the Germans do differently regarding Leningrad in 1941; they could have surrendered, presumably. ;)

Oh, wait, that's what they did, historically.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 18 Jan 2022 08:43

daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 23:19
Thread topic is what could the Germans do differently regarding Leningrad in 1941; they could have surrendered, presumably. ;)

Oh, wait, that's what they did, historically.
It's news to me that the Germans surrendered in 1941...

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 18 Jan 2022 08:59

daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
And your argument is the Germans had the resources - at essence, all they needed to do was re-assign four motorized divisions from Army Group Center to Army Group North, and sustain them, apparently - but chose not to use them, so either the Germans could not manage to pick an objective and stick to it (which goes back to the need for "a better Hitler" or "a better German general staff" or something along those lines) ... or, and perhaps as likely, is the Germans' resources in 1941 were not sufficient to achieve their objectives, period.
Or perhaps... They didn't use their resources to take Leningrad, because they used those resources in a failed attempt to take Moscow?
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
Rational German warlords, even if placed in command in the winter of 1940-41 (and so without any responsibility for what had come before), presumably would have said something along the lines of "let's end the current war we're in = somehow - before we start another" and yet the realities of the Nazi system of leadership were such that by the end of 1941, Germany was at war with the US, USSR, and UK simultaneously - which doesn't say much for Germany's leadership being able to recognize military and economic realities at any level in this same period, does it?
Not really. Hitler decided to invade the USSR in part to seize its resources and thus consolidate his economic empire for the expected conflict with the Anglo-Americans, and in part to avoid having a powerful, unreliable neighbor during said war with the Anglo-Americans.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
The Germans (at least those in charge of Germany's war effort, whoever they were) thought the Soviets would collapse in 1941; they were wrong, not unlike the Japanese thought the US would the same year
It is true that the Germans expected the Soviets to collapse in 1941, but the Japanese most definitely didn't expect U.S. collapse in 1941, nor at any further point for that matter. Theirs was a war of desperation, one they only settled on only after the U.S. froze their assets and imposed a fuel embargo.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
or - for that matter - the German genius (whoever that was) who thought declaring war on the US in December, 1941, was good strategy, as well.
This would be Hitler. Given that the U.S. had on November 17 repealed the core elements of the Neutrality Act, and could now sail warships and/or armed merchantmen right into the European war's combat areas, I'd say war was likely to come one way or another. Not declaring war then, however, would have been seen as a betrayal by Japan, and could be expected to destroy their fledgling partnership.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
Oddly enough, the Allies - British, Soviets, Americans - rarely if ever did what the Axis thought they would do... interesting, that. ;)
That's a surprising statement, given how Germany got its chance to rule Europe precisely because the Allies did what was expected of them in May 1940.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Jan 2022 19:18

KDF33 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 08:43
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 23:19
Thread topic is what could the Germans do differently regarding Leningrad in 1941; they could have surrendered, presumably. ;)

Oh, wait, that's what they did, historically.
It's news to me that the Germans surrendered in 1941...
Different date, but they did surrender. ;)

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Jan 2022 19:26

KDF33 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 08:59
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
And your argument is the Germans had the resources - at essence, all they needed to do was re-assign four motorized divisions from Army Group Center to Army Group North, and sustain them, apparently - but chose not to use them, so either the Germans could not manage to pick an objective and stick to it (which goes back to the need for "a better Hitler" or "a better German general staff" or something along those lines) ... or, and perhaps as likely, is the Germans' resources in 1941 were not sufficient to achieve their objectives, period.
Or perhaps... They didn't use their resources to take Leningrad, because they used those resources in a failed attempt to take Moscow?
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
Rational German warlords, even if placed in command in the winter of 1940-41 (and so without any responsibility for what had come before), presumably would have said something along the lines of "let's end the current war we're in = somehow - before we start another" and yet the realities of the Nazi system of leadership were such that by the end of 1941, Germany was at war with the US, USSR, and UK simultaneously - which doesn't say much for Germany's leadership being able to recognize military and economic realities at any level in this same period, does it?
Not really. Hitler decided to invade the USSR in part to seize its resources and thus consolidate his economic empire for the expected conflict with the Anglo-Americans, and in part to avoid having a powerful, unreliable neighbor during said war with the Anglo-Americans.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
The Germans (at least those in charge of Germany's war effort, whoever they were) thought the Soviets would collapse in 1941; they were wrong, not unlike the Japanese thought the US would the same year
It is true that the Germans expected the Soviets to collapse in 1941, but the Japanese most definitely didn't expect U.S. collapse in 1941, nor at any further point for that matter. Theirs was a war of desperation, one they only settled on only after the U.S. froze their assets and imposed a fuel embargo.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
or - for that matter - the German genius (whoever that was) who thought declaring war on the US in December, 1941, was good strategy, as well.
This would be Hitler. Given that the U.S. had on November 17 repealed the core elements of the Neutrality Act, and could now sail warships and/or armed merchantmen right into the European war's combat areas, I'd say war was likely to come one way or another. Not declaring war then, however, would have been seen as a betrayal by Japan, and could be expected to destroy their fledgling partnership.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Jan 2022 22:47
Oddly enough, the Allies - British, Soviets, Americans - rarely if ever did what the Axis thought they would do... interesting, that. ;)
That's a surprising statement, given how Germany got its chance to rule Europe precisely because the Allies did what was expected of them in May 1940.
Who lot of failure going on when it comes to the Axis making strategy, wasn't there? It's almost like - work with me here - dictatorships rarely encourage reality-based decision-making, do they?

The "US froze" Japan's assets because of Japan's war on China; they had an option as well, didn't they? And the US moved toward short of war support of the British (and French, and Greeks, and Norwegians, and Danes, and Poles, and Czechs, and Austrians, and Dutch, and Belgians, and Russians, and Chinese, because ... why was that, again?

Seems like the Germans and the Japanese both had a simple way out, right up until Dec. 7 and Dec, 10, respectively. "Whoever it was" was a reference to Marcks's argument the German general fouled up the German invasion of the USSR, not - heavens forfend - the tinpot dictator in charge of the whole mess.

"Rarely" covers a lot of ground; even a stopped clock like the leadership of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan is right twice a day.

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