The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Mar 2022 07:27

What if the Ostheer followed the OKH plan for Barbarossa that was submitted to Hitler on December 1, 1940? The plan called for a rapid advance to the Dvina and Dnieper rivers in 18 days, followed by a 21 day rest period to build up a new supply base. On the 40th day of the invasion, a concentrated advance would be made on Moscow.

The first stage of the attack is illustrated on this map taken from David Glantz's book Barbarossa:
Stage 1.png
There would be unforeseen problems during Stage 1. First, the Soviet Union had reserve armies stationed along the Dvina and Dnieper rivers of which OKH was unaware. In the OTL, these reserve armies caused substantial resistance and delays for the Ostheer at Rogachev, Mogilev, Orsha and Velikiye Luki. In this ATL, the panzer divisions would likely arrive at these locations several days earlier than they did in the OTL, but even if they captured these cities off the march, they would subsequently be locked in heavy combat at the extreme end of their logistical limit. With the mobile divisions not designated to close the outer ring of the Minsk pocket, the supply trucks of the Grosstransportraum would be blocked by retreating Red Army units from Minsk.

Nevertheless, the 21 day pause at this line is far longer than what was granted to the mobile divisions in the OTL, in which they only paused for 5 days after encircling Minsk on June 28, and then proceeded headlong to Smolensk. The corresponding timeline in this ATL would see the mobile divisions paused at the Dnieper and Dvina until August 1.

When the drive to Moscow begins on August 1, the Soviets will have deployed the following armies in their path:
Stage 2.png
Roughly 12 Soviet armies will be directly in the path of the advance. From the OKH perspective, this would be the ideal opportunity to destroy the bulk of the Red Army in front of Moscow. The problem is that 8 new Soviet armies will be formed in the first 20 days of the offensive, and 8 more will be raised in the following 20 days:
Soviet armies raised Stage 2.png
Thus, the Soviets will be constantly throwing new armies in front of the panzers as they advance on Moscow. If the opening battle of Stage 2 follows the same pattern as the Minsk and Vyazma encirclements, it will take about 17 days to eliminate the Soviet armies directly in front of the advance. By this time 7 new Soviet armies will have been raised, with 1 more on the way in the following week, and 7 more on the way in the week after that. After this there would be a lull in Soviet force generation, with only 1 more army being formed the following week and then a 3 week period of no new armies being formed.

It's impossible to say for certain what the outcome of the German attack would be, but given the overall qualitative advantage displayed by Germany in the summer of 1941 in the OTL, it's highly likely that they would destroy the bulk of the Soviet armies in front of them and reach Moscow by the 80th day of the invasion (September 9). In the OTL, Soviet armies that were not completely encircled tended to survive and be replenished, so it is likely that the 16 Soviet armies formed during Stage 2 of the invasion will survive and be pushed back to a perimeter around Moscow. The Germans will need another halt in their offensive to create a new supply base at Moscow. If this is another 21 day period, that would take them to October 1, allowing 1 final offensive before the fall mud begins.
Situation Early September.png
At most, any October 1 offensive would succeed only in eliminating some of the Soviet armies in the vicinity of Moscow, easing the pressure on the Ostheer going into winter. Leningrad would still be in Soviet hands. The German offensive in the south would benefit from the addition of 12th Army in the OKH plan, which probably allows it to reach roughly the same location as the OTL.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Mar 2022 18:45

Full evaluation of the ATL would have to consider, inter alia,
  • 1. The impact on Soviet production and force generation of exchanging the loss of Moscow for everything east of Zaporizhy and Leningrad (whose factories remain mostly in production here).
  • 2. The net force destruction, ATL vs. OTL.
  • 3. German logistics in the extended Moscow salient.
My first take is the Germans are probably worse off than OTL, with the possible exception of a November halt and therefore better performance over the winter. Donbas chemical industries were enormously important and their loss in Fall 1941 severely constricted Soviet ammo output. ATL RKKA probably has much better shell supply.

It's not clear to me what happens in the south. Do the infantry armies encircle Kiev absent PG2's assistance, as I've suggested was likely in my thread on the Gornostaipol Option? Then again, if AGC is sitting tight all August instead of pushing Central Front back towards the Desna, SW Front can be reinforced and the Gornostaipol-Oster corridor north of Kiev probably held. SU's 1942 fighting power was more constricted by loss of Donbas heavy industry than anything else.

There's Leningrad's production and non-Leningrad economic factors in the North, such as the massive aluminum plant around Tikhvin that seems secure here. You leave most of the Baltic coast in Soviet hands, which enables the Red navy's submarines to maul ore traffic whereas in OTL they were marginalized by mine blockade across the narrow Lgrad approaches. SU actually transferred most subs to the White Sea via canal because they were so useless. Not taking Tallinn etc also harms AGN logistics for critical late Fall months, probably requiring diversion of scarce rail capacity from AGC.

Moscow is economically important but perhaps its most important 1942 contribution was the Tula area's heavy industry, which was mostly lost/incapacitated in latter 1941 anyway (immediately rehab'd when recaptured). That restricts the net ATL impact of taking Moscow.

Is Hitler dead in this ATL? If not, it's hard to see him not prioritizing AGS/N's sectors after Moscow falls, which might set up a weakened and overextended AGC for a Stalingrad debacle that winter... OTOH if Ostheer can reach its OTL lines in N/S after taking Moscow, then there's little economic tradeoff and the Moscow impact is purely marginal, which would be big. Difficult to see those late-Fall flank pushes working but maybe if enough RKKA destroyed around Moscow and if Stalin becomes obsessed with a counteroffensive in that sector.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Mar 2022 19:42

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Mar 2022 18:45
Full evaluation of the ATL would have to consider, inter alia,
  • 1. The impact on Soviet production and force generation of exchanging the loss of Moscow for everything east of Zaporizhy and Leningrad (whose factories remain mostly in production here).
  • 2. The net force destruction, ATL vs. OTL.
  • 3. German logistics in the extended Moscow salient.
My first take is the Germans are probably worse off than OTL, with the possible exception of a November halt and therefore better performance over the winter. Donbas chemical industries were enormously important and their loss in Fall 1941 severely constricted Soviet ammo output. ATL RKKA probably has much better shell supply.

It's not clear to me what happens in the south. Do the infantry armies encircle Kiev absent PG2's assistance, as I've suggested was likely in my thread on the Gornostaipol Option? Then again, if AGC is sitting tight all August instead of pushing Central Front back towards the Desna, SW Front can be reinforced and the Gornostaipol-Oster corridor north of Kiev probably held. SU's 1942 fighting power was more constricted by loss of Donbas heavy industry than anything else.

There's Leningrad's production and non-Leningrad economic factors in the North, such as the massive aluminum plant around Tikhvin that seems secure here. You leave most of the Baltic coast in Soviet hands, which enables the Red navy's submarines to maul ore traffic whereas in OTL they were marginalized by mine blockade across the narrow Lgrad approaches. SU actually transferred most subs to the White Sea via canal because they were so useless. Not taking Tallinn etc also harms AGN logistics for critical late Fall months, probably requiring diversion of scarce rail capacity from AGC.

Moscow is economically important but perhaps its most important 1942 contribution was the Tula area's heavy industry, which was mostly lost/incapacitated in latter 1941 anyway (immediately rehab'd when recaptured). That restricts the net ATL impact of taking Moscow.

Is Hitler dead in this ATL? If not, it's hard to see him not prioritizing AGS/N's sectors after Moscow falls, which might set up a weakened and overextended AGC for a Stalingrad debacle that winter... OTOH if Ostheer can reach its OTL lines in N/S after taking Moscow, then there's little economic tradeoff and the Moscow impact is purely marginal, which would be big. Difficult to see those late-Fall flank pushes working but maybe if enough RKKA destroyed around Moscow and if Stalin becomes obsessed with a counteroffensive in that sector.
All good points. I can address a few now.

Regarding Kiev, the OKH seems to have anticipated a direct drive on Kiev by Panzer Group 1, leaving encircling operations to the infantry armies. Given that Panzer Group 1 would have to fight its way through about 10 mechanized corps, on top of the 5th, 6th, 16th and 19th armies, it's a bit of a stretch to assume Panzer Group 1 takes Kiev off the march. But I wanted to transcribe the OKH plan as literally as possible in the initial post so assumed a best case scenario. What likely happens is that the addition of 12th Army attacking from Romania results in the encirclement and destruction of the Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies in the first 3 weeks of the invasion. The 10 mechanized corps attack and are destroyed just as they were in the OTL. That leaves the Soviet 16th and 19th armies holding Kiev against the German 1st Panzer Group, 6th Army, 12th Army and 17th Army. The Germans can probably just force their way into Kiev and across the Dnieper with that much force superiority, with the Soviet 16th and 19th armies surviving but retreating. To say that 1st Panzer Group is ready for a drive north on the 40th day is probably a bit of a stretch but the initial post shows a best case scenario.

Regarding the Baltic, yes, it's a glaring weakness in the OKH plan. They essentially intended to leave Estonia in Soviet hands and hope for the best at Moscow. The Soviet Baltic Fleet wasn't too active in the OTL but once it becomes clear that their base at Talinn is secure, they will probably start to become a threat to the Baltic merchant fleets.

Regarding Hitler, yes, he will have to be held in check for the OKH plan to be implemented. Maybe Hitler has an accident in early 1940 that leaves him in a coma, with Goering nominally in charge but Brauchitsch and Halder refuse to obey him. They decide not to invade Greece so that everything can be concentrated on Barbarossa. Not very plausible but I just wanted to explore what would happen if the OKH somehow got their way.

Regarding force ratios, I count 15 Soviet armies encircled and destroyed in the OTL:
OTL Soviet force reduction.png
Whereas the OKH plan would encircle and destroy 23 Soviet armies in a best case scenario:
OKH Soviet armies destroyed.png
That is also before taking into account an October 1 offensive in the OKH plan, which would likely destroy another 7. So the OKH plan seems likely to result in greater reduction of Soviet forces.

Also, the OKH plan would likely be launched a month earlier due to no invasion of Greece. That opens up the possibility of Moscow falling in August, with time in September to launch an offensive to cut off Leningrad (or to the south, or maybe both).
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Last edited by historygeek2021 on 28 Mar 2022 22:24, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Mar 2022 22:07

Historygeek2021 wrote:What likely happens is that the addition of 12th Army attacking from Romania results in the encirclement and destruction of the Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies in the first 3 weeks of the invasion.
If that happens it changes everything, as I've discussed elsewhere.

Problem I see is 12th Army is just a different HQ - 11th replaced it - and a shuffling of units between Galicia and Romania. The Pz corps comes from PzGr1, which had its hands full getting through SWF anyway. IIRC only 1 or 2 fully-capable ID's remained in the Balkans with 12A, the rest were occupation divs of the later waves. And/Or do you see the 3 reserve mech. Divs coming in on day 1? Even if so, hard to see 3 divs pushing iver the Dniestr, let alone sealing a giant Kessel.

‐---------------

Re 23 ATL vs 15 OTL armies being destroyed, does that rely on the added Galicia/Volhynia Kessel?

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

IF you can destroy 8 more armies AND take Ukraine and seal Lgrad after taking Moscow (assuming a May start), plus avoid getting wrong-footed in the initial winter counter-offensive, then there's really something cooking here.for the bad guys. Doubts already stated but on those assumptions...
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Mar 2022 22:22

...the other feasibility issue - not a criticism because it's your PoD - is whether this happens at all if OKH/Goering run the show. Ironically they're too racist/arrogant to worry about leaving the SU on their flank while fighting the Anglosphere. Barbarossa is kind of a one-man show in terms of decision. Not because German generals or other Nazis had scruples about killing Slavs but because only Hitler really understood that Germany couldn't abide a latent Soviet threat during the coming showdown with the Anglos.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Mar 2022 23:02

Regarding the 12th Army in Greece, I've found the following divisions that participated in the invasion of Greece but were not available at the start of Barbarossa:

2nd Panzer Division
5th Panzer Division
LSSAH
73rd Infantry Division
5th Mountain Division
6th Mountain Division
72nd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division

And the following divisions invaded Yugoslavia but were not available for the start of Barbarossa:

79th Infantry Division
132nd Infantry Division
183rd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division

That's more than enough to form a 12th Army distinct from the OTL 11th Army, and more than enough to close a pocket around the Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies in western Ukraine. And if the OKH really decide to concentrate everything on Barbarossa, then Rommel's 2 divisions from North African can also be thrown in.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Mar 2022 22:07

Re 23 ATL vs 15 OTL armies being destroyed, does that rely on the added Galicia/Volhynia Kessel?
The extra encirclements in the OKH Plan are:

1. Galicia/Volhynia at start of campaign: Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies
2. Vilnius between 4th and 3rd Panzer Groups: Soviet 11th Army
3. "Super Encirclement" during Stage 2: 10 Soviet armies encircled

But the following Soviet armies that were encircled in the OTL encirclements would survive in this ATL:

Kiev: 37th and 38th armies
Sea of Azov: 9th and 18th armies

I also undercounted the OTL encirclements above by leaving out the 3 armies encircled at Bryansk, but it still seems to come out ahead for the OKH plan, especially if they have an extra month due to an earlier start.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 29 Mar 2022 09:27

historygeek2021 wrote:Regarding the 12th Army in Greece, I've found the following divisions that participated in the invasion of Greece but were not available at the start of Barbarossa:

2nd Panzer Division
5th Panzer Division
LSSAH
73rd Infantry Division
5th Mountain Division
6th Mountain Division
72nd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division

And the following divisions invaded Yugoslavia but were not available for the start of Barbarossa:

79th Infantry Division
132nd Infantry Division
183rd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division
Are we sure that all these ID's were fully-capable divisions?

You're right that Germany should have committed more of its forces to Barbarossa - what was the British Army really going to do? I've made this point in other ATL's. It isn't clear to me, however, that the OKH planned to commit the extra divisions but for the Balkans campaign. Have you looked into it? GSWW v.4 has a decent discussion of operational revisions to AGS's sector and, IIRC, it was indeed Hitler who finally nixed the Romanian pincer. Not sure that OKH really objected to this, however - IIRC it was in the midst of discussions about the need to protect AGS's left flank along the Pripyat (which indeed ended up being arguably the central issue in Barbarossa as Soviet 5th Army's stand along the Pripyat rim is what motivated the Kiev move).
historygeek2021 wrote:That's more than enough to form a 12th Army distinct from the OTL 11th Army, and more than enough to close a pocket around the Soviet 6th, 12th and 26th armies in western Ukraine.
If OKH would have committed the Balkans-remaining divs to Barbarossa with 12A then that's a feasible argument but by no means a slam dunk - even if all the ID's were fully capable (I can check on this issue when I'm back by a missing hard copy source or you can scroll through Lexikon der Wehrmacht). The 3 extra mech divs form a decent spearhead but I'd still say they're insufficient to seal a pocket for long enough for foot-mobile ID's to catch up. Here I'm thinking of Smolensk and Minsk, where PG's 2&3's 16.5 mech divs were largely tied down for weeks by pocket-ringing. For our Galicia/Volhynia Kessel, the entrapped formations are actually larger than what AGC wrangled in Minsk/Smolensk. I just have trouble believing three mech. divs are enough.

A feasible alternative argument is that you're proposing an Uman-style encirclement by PG1's mechanized hammer meeting a slower foot-mobile anvil - a move made more feasible by the geography of the Galician salient. Maybe? But again it doesn't seem a slam dunk. SWF and the Odessa district can pivot forces to the Dniestr line and, after the Brody debacle, Stalin seems at least to have acquiesced to a rational withdrawal from Galicia. If SWF has 12 more divisions in/on its rear/left, Stalin and Kirponos seem more likely to withdraw earlier to Zhitomir/Vinnitsia.
historygeek2021 wrote:3. "Super Encirclement" during Stage 2: 10 Soviet armies encircled
A lot rides on the magnitude of this Armageddon, as appropriate for following the OKH plan. Again - maybe? But even on generous terms this places the fate of a nation possessing clearly superior combat power on the assumption that the enemy concentrates in the place you'd like to destroy him. That seems like a strategy calculated to create the possibility of defeat, all in order to maximize the likelihood of the quickest victory. [My interpretation is that German stupidity in fact snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; your interpretation runs counter]

If Ostheer has wiped out SWF in June/July, why are there still as many OTL armies in front of Moscow? That basically concedes Donbas and Leningrad if Hitler wants them. Unless we assume - again appropriately for OKH mindset - that only Moscow matters, wouldn't Stalin avoid conceding his most important heavy/armaments industrial bases in the Donbas and Leningrad? We know from OTL that Stalin reconstituted SWF after Kiev, and that he committed heavily against AGS/N during late Fall '41 as the battle for Moscow raged. We know that Stalin had already evacuated the government and most feasibly-mobile industry from Moscow as well. In short, Stalin was prepared to lose Moscow and fight on OTL. How much more so is he willing ATL if holding Moscow is weighed against keeping the Donbas and ensuring that Leningrad-Tikhvin remains a productive armaments center?

If the PoD is "OKH gets its plan and its preferred enemy" then more likely yeah, but intrinsic to any sensible critique of OKH's plan is that the enemy gets a say (and that German generals were narrowly-educated war demons who didn't understand the modern world).
historygeek2021 wrote:I also undercounted the OTL encirclements above by leaving out the 3 armies encircled at Bryansk, but it still seems to come out ahead for the OKH plan, especially if they have an extra month due to an earlier start.
The early start is a big factor, especially if it comes with 12 divisions that OKH should have used on Day 1 anyway.

You're pointing up an interesting historical question of to what extent the Balkans campaign drained Ostheer of Day 1 forces. I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere except via the superficial "missing 12th Army." I suspect that OKH wouldn't have committed those 12 divisions absent the Balkans - that it wasn't Halder's plan to go all-out on Day 1. But that's just a gut reaction. I won't be happy to be proven wrong but will be happy to have learned if you can do so.

...then we'd need to confront the question lurking, IMO, behind all the "Balkans delay" arguments: was Ostheer even ready for primetime in mid-May anyway? I.e. did they need an additional 5-6 weeks of production and Grossraum requisition, such that absent those materials they'd have had significantly lower combat power? This "debunking" argument seems feasible to me, given the narrow/negative margins by which Ostheer met its TOE equippage on June 22.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 29 Mar 2022 14:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Mar 2022 09:27

Are we sure that all these ID's were fully-capable divisions?
Yes, they fought in Yugoslavia/Greece and were all subsequently transferred to the USSR in the summer of 1941 after the invasion had commenced. Source: German Order of Battle by Samuel Mitcham. Zapantis also has an extensive discussion beginning on page 198 of the effects of the loss of the 12th Army pincer attack from Romania:

https://archive.org/details/hitlersbalk ... ew=theater

Also keep in mind that Panzer Group I had 5 panzer divisions and 4 motorized divisions. 2 of these could have been transferred to the force striking from Romania. From Romania to Dubno is only 250 kilometers, not a great distance for the foot infantry to cover to relieve the panzers and seal the encirclement. Also, per GSSW Vol 4., Halder had contacts in Hungary who were prepared to launch an attack in that sector on the opening day, but Hitler dismissed the idea (probably because he didn't want any Hungarian/Romanian tension leading up to the invasion). Also consider that there would be more Luftwaffe assets available without the fighting in Greece.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Mar 2022 09:27

A lot rides on the magnitude of this Armageddon, as appropriate for following the OKH plan. Again - maybe? But even on generous terms this places the fate of a nation possessing clearly superior combat power on the assumption that the enemy concentrates in the place you'd like to destroy him. That seems like a strategy calculated to create the possibility of defeat, all in order to maximize the likelihood of the quickest victory. [My interpretation is that German stupidity in fact snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; your interpretation runs counter]

If Ostheer has wiped out SWF in June/July, why are there still as many OTL armies in front of Moscow? That basically concedes Donbas and Leningrad if Hitler wants them. Unless we assume - again appropriately for OKH mindset - that only Moscow matters, wouldn't Stalin avoid conceding his most important heavy/armaments industrial bases in the Donbas and Leningrad? We know from OTL that Stalin reconstituted SWF after Kiev, and that he committed heavily against AGS/N during late Fall '41 as the battle for Moscow raged. We know that Stalin had already evacuated the government and most feasibly-mobile industry from Moscow as well. In short, Stalin was prepared to lose Moscow and fight on OTL. How much more so is he willing ATL if holding Moscow is weighed against keeping the Donbas and ensuring that Leningrad-Tikhvin remains a productive armaments center?

If the PoD is "OKH gets its plan and its preferred enemy" then more likely yeah, but intrinsic to any sensible critique of OKH's plan is that the enemy gets a say (and that German generals were narrowly-educated war demons who didn't understand the modern world).
In the "Stage 2 Map" above, I assumed the Red Army would deploy its available reserve armies in a way that would best stabilize the front:
Stage 2.png
There's nothing scientific about it, just putting armies near where they were historically deployed and assuming some degree of freedom to move them to a critical theater. In this ATL, it will be clear by Day 40 of the invasion that Leningrad is not under immediate threat, so Stalin will not deploy armies there. Kiev will theoretically have fallen, so I assumed Stalin would deploy 3 of the 9 new armies to the Southwestern Front. Maybe he would deploy 1 or 2 more there instead of in front of Moscow. If so, that slows down the advance of Panzer Group 1 from Kiev to Briansk, but it also makes things easier for the other panzer groups and might speed up their capture of Moscow, maybe giving them time to reach Yaroslavl to cut off Leningrad before the October mud.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 29 Mar 2022 17:35

Another point to consider: the "21 day pause" was something Paulus felt was necessary based on his map exercises, but it's doubtful that the likes of Bock and Guderian would have actually sat still on the Dnieper for 21 days. In reality they would have kept lunging forward beyond the limits of what was logistically feasible until a higher authority reined them in. But with Hitler out of the picture in this ATL, it's doubtful that Brauchitsch or Halder would have done anything to halt their eastward push. So the OKH plan would have likely devolved into a slow, sluggish push to the east as Bock and Guderian used up every last supply truck to advance another kilometer instead of pausing at a reasonable location to build up a supply base for the attack on Moscow.

Put Bock and Guderian in Army Group South and let Rundstedt and Kluge run things in Army Group Center, and maybe then the campaign would unfold closer to Paulus' plan.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Apr 2022 08:00

historygeek2021 wrote:
28 Mar 2022 23:02
Regarding the 12th Army in Greece, I've found the following divisions that participated in the invasion of Greece but were not available at the start of Barbarossa:

2nd Panzer Division
5th Panzer Division
LSSAH
73rd Infantry Division
5th Mountain Division
6th Mountain Division
72nd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division

And the following divisions invaded Yugoslavia but were not available for the start of Barbarossa:

79th Infantry Division
132nd Infantry Division
183rd Infantry Division
125th Infantry Division
Source is Lexikon der Wehrmacht unless otherwise noted. Not a high effort post but to get the ball rolling a little...

79 ID didn't fight in the Balkans, was held in reserve in Poland until August when it joined AGS at Kiev.

132 ID was in OKH reserve on June 22nd per Askey.

5 Mtn fought in Crete and suffered losses en route, was definitely nixed by Balkans involvement.

6 Mtn didn't invade Crete, refreshed in Germany then moved to Finland in August.

183 ID ended its Balkans fighting by April 17.

125 ID was also in OKH reserve on June 22 and apparently fought at Uman (per Askey and Wikipedia). You may have a typo there - you say 125 invaded Greece and Yugoslavia (unless you're counting a brief hook through Yugoslavia into Greece).

72 ID was transferred to Romania after Greece and was fighting for AGS no later than July per Lexikon. Askey has it in AGS's June 22 OoB.

73 ID remained an occupation force until June 21, then joined AGS and saw action that summer.

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

Aside from the mountain and mechanized formations, it's probably the case that the ID's could have fought on June 22 as did other Balkans-involved divisions. They were all either in reserve or on occupation duties. The occupation duties feasibly could have been filled by some of the 50 (admittedly weaker) divisions deployed in the West and Norway.

The mountain/mechanized units are a more difficult issue because wear on their vehicles is often said to have required lengthy refits. I haven't closely examined the validity of this conventional wisdom.

I strongly suspect that at least most of the combat power of nearly all the "missing" forces could have been deployed on June 22 or shortly thereafter had the Germans really been pressing themselves. As we've discussed elsewhere, their MV stocks rose continuously after Barbarossa due to intensified requisitions from France, which had a lot of good truck models that served the Wehrmacht well (and whose manufacturers continued production for Germany, including of spares).

This is not necessarily to rule out the thesis that the Balkans campaign caused the units absence: but for that campaign, they would probably have been available on June 22. But that being true doesn't rule out that Germany could have used them anyway, had they perceived a need to stretch themselves.

Even granting that all the missing divisions are committed under the OKH plan (which plan at which date, btw?), it's still not clear to me that they succeed in creating a Galicia Kessel. Again, Stalin seems to have allowed a rational defense in western Ukraine, with units largely evading encirclement west of the Bug River and then a decision to abandon the Right Bank after Uman.

What seems to have been needed in Galicia was the kind of lightning advance that would have outstripped Soviet foot-mobile infantry, resulting in their encirclement. I.e. another panzer group. Even if we assume that the two missing PzDiv's are joined by 60th MotDiv and LSSAH, that arm seems very vulnerable if striking out deep on its own. Think Mannstein's encirclement at Soltsy when he struck too far but opposing Soviet forces are >5x larger and logistics are complicated by rivers (Prut, Dniestr, Bug).

I could see a big operational impact a month or so later - not in Galicia but around Uman. OTL that was a single envelopment stretched over weeks. If the German right wing has ~3.5 more mechanized divisions and the highly-mobile mountain divisions to boot, they can probably cast a wider and quicker net over Soviet forces somewhere in the same area (probably somewhat west). If Uman happens earlier and more decisively, then maybe AGS's mechanized units are less damaged (11th PzDiv so badly worn it fought only a few days between Uman and Taifun), they attain operational freedom and clear the Right Bank a few weeks earlier. The post-Uman pursuit to the Dniepr is a critical period in which PG1 actually took more PoW than during Uman (discussed here).

IF the foregoing happens, then maybe AGS is able to launch its stronger mechanized components across the Dniepr a few weeks earlier, and maybe it can deploy them north and south of Kiev. It might, for example, perceive that not all mech units are needed to clear the Dniepr Bend and therefore moves 2-3 divs to join (a less-battered) 11 PzDiv in its push to Gornostaipol. That sets up AGS well to favorably execute my Gornostaipol option, destroying SW Front (weakened by greater Uman losses) without AGC's assistance.

Image
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 13 Apr 2022 08:52, edited 3 times in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Apr 2022 08:08

historygeek2021 wrote:
29 Mar 2022 17:35
Another point to consider: the "21 day pause" was something Paulus felt was necessary based on his map exercises, but it's doubtful that the likes of Bock and Guderian would have actually sat still on the Dnieper for 21 days. In reality they would have kept lunging forward beyond the limits of what was logistically feasible until a higher authority reined them in. But with Hitler out of the picture in this ATL, it's doubtful that Brauchitsch or Halder would have done anything to halt their eastward push. So the OKH plan would have likely devolved into a slow, sluggish push to the east as Bock and Guderian used up every last supply truck to advance another kilometer instead of pausing at a reasonable location to build up a supply base for the attack on Moscow.

Put Bock and Guderian in Army Group South and let Rundstedt and Kluge run things in Army Group Center, and maybe then the campaign would unfold closer to Paulus' plan.
Yeah Guderian is a problem. It's not clear to me that Bock endorsed his recklessness though and it's possible that Guderian was so defiant precisely because his relationship with Hitler made him dauntless of higher censure (until he took that too far later in the winter).
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 2879
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by T. A. Gardner » 13 Apr 2022 18:55

historygeek2021 wrote:
29 Mar 2022 17:35
Another point to consider: the "21 day pause" was something Paulus felt was necessary based on his map exercises, but it's doubtful that the likes of Bock and Guderian would have actually sat still on the Dnieper for 21 days. In reality they would have kept lunging forward beyond the limits of what was logistically feasible until a higher authority reined them in. But with Hitler out of the picture in this ATL, it's doubtful that Brauchitsch or Halder would have done anything to halt their eastward push. So the OKH plan would have likely devolved into a slow, sluggish push to the east as Bock and Guderian used up every last supply truck to advance another kilometer instead of pausing at a reasonable location to build up a supply base for the attack on Moscow.

Put Bock and Guderian in Army Group South and let Rundstedt and Kluge run things in Army Group Center, and maybe then the campaign would unfold closer to Paulus' plan.
Well, this indirectly shows the problem the Germans really have in invading Russia, one of logistics. What they needed wasn't a better plan or more combat forces they couldn't adequately supply, but rather more civil engineering capacity to improve the transportation and communications network that in turn would have allowed more supplies to move forward in a timely manner.

If they had more and better equipped railway engineers, better trained and equipped construction engineers, they could repair the rail net, bridges, roads, and the like faster and better than they historically did. If all of that resulted in just a 10% improvement--and they likely could have done better than that--that's 10% more of everything in the supply chain getting to the troops at the front, possibly even more than that.

As a very basic example of this: If you have a supply truck that's driving 10% less to deliver a load that means for every 9 loads it carries, the tenth is essentially "free." That is that tenth load is in excess of what it could deliver historically. This also means the truck lasts 10% longer in service and requires 10% less maintenance than before. When you put this into a situation where the Law of Large Numbers comes into play, it generates a significant savings for the Germans.

I know I've brought it up before, but this is really where the German planning collapses most. The OKH / OKW were terrible logistics and engineering planners.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 13 Apr 2022 19:35

T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Apr 2022 18:55
historygeek2021 wrote:
29 Mar 2022 17:35
Another point to consider: the "21 day pause" was something Paulus felt was necessary based on his map exercises, but it's doubtful that the likes of Bock and Guderian would have actually sat still on the Dnieper for 21 days. In reality they would have kept lunging forward beyond the limits of what was logistically feasible until a higher authority reined them in. But with Hitler out of the picture in this ATL, it's doubtful that Brauchitsch or Halder would have done anything to halt their eastward push. So the OKH plan would have likely devolved into a slow, sluggish push to the east as Bock and Guderian used up every last supply truck to advance another kilometer instead of pausing at a reasonable location to build up a supply base for the attack on Moscow.

Put Bock and Guderian in Army Group South and let Rundstedt and Kluge run things in Army Group Center, and maybe then the campaign would unfold closer to Paulus' plan.
Well, this indirectly shows the problem the Germans really have in invading Russia, one of logistics. What they needed wasn't a better plan or more combat forces they couldn't adequately supply, but rather more civil engineering capacity to improve the transportation and communications network that in turn would have allowed more supplies to move forward in a timely manner.

If they had more and better equipped railway engineers, better trained and equipped construction engineers, they could repair the rail net, bridges, roads, and the like faster and better than they historically did. If all of that resulted in just a 10% improvement--and they likely could have done better than that--that's 10% more of everything in the supply chain getting to the troops at the front, possibly even more than that.

As a very basic example of this: If you have a supply truck that's driving 10% less to deliver a load that means for every 9 loads it carries, the tenth is essentially "free." That is that tenth load is in excess of what it could deliver historically. This also means the truck lasts 10% longer in service and requires 10% less maintenance than before. When you put this into a situation where the Law of Large Numbers comes into play, it generates a significant savings for the Germans.

I know I've brought it up before, but this is really where the German planning collapses most. The OKH / OKW were terrible logistics and engineering planners.
I mean, what they really needed were 5,000 trains designed specifically to be able to operate on the Soviet rail system, that way they wouldn't have to simultaneously rebuild the country's rail system as they were invading it. But they would have required rational leadership and thorough advance planning, both extinct species in Hitler's Reich.
Last edited by historygeek2021 on 14 Apr 2022 00:07, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 2879
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by T. A. Gardner » 13 Apr 2022 19:56

historygeek2021 wrote:
13 Apr 2022 19:35
I mean, what they really needed was 5,000 trains designed specifically to be able to operate on the Soviet rail system, that way they wouldn't have to simultaneously rebuild the country's rail system as they were invading it. But they would hand required rational leadership and thorough advance planning, both extinct species in Hitler's Reich.
Regauging the track was a relatively easy process--if that's all you have to do. What the Germans ran into was the overall pathetic level of quality put into the Russian rail system. This meant that their railway engineers found themselves replacing ties, adding coal and watering stations, having to lay ballast, add communications systems, etc., that was beyond what they expected to have to do. As it was, many Russian rail lines were so bad that running just a few trains a day down them would result in their failure to a point as to be unusable.
With better planning, the Germans could have already known this to be the case and had stockpiled the necessary materials to do the repairs and upgrades. Toss in that the railway troops get somewhat more mechanization than they had--say like specially fitted trains with equipment to assist in laying track, etc., and they could do more.

Another example would be to have prefabricated buildings that can be shipped on a flat car to a location to build engine sheds, offices, barracks, etc., for the personnel and equipment that the rail system would be using. These could have been made entirely from "non-strategic" materials and quickly erected to provide the necessary buildings. The British and Americans did this, so it's entirely possible the Germans could do it. This, in turn, means that when the weather turns bad in Russia the railway system continues to operate with a good degree of efficiency.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 631
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: Laniakea

Re: The OKH Plan for Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 14 Apr 2022 00:13

T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Apr 2022 19:56
historygeek2021 wrote:
13 Apr 2022 19:35
I mean, what they really needed was 5,000 trains designed specifically to be able to operate on the Soviet rail system, that way they wouldn't have to simultaneously rebuild the country's rail system as they were invading it. But they would hand required rational leadership and thorough advance planning, both extinct species in Hitler's Reich.
Regauging the track was a relatively easy process--if that's all you have to do. What the Germans ran into was the overall pathetic level of quality put into the Russian rail system. This meant that their railway engineers found themselves replacing ties, adding coal and watering stations, having to lay ballast, add communications systems, etc., that was beyond what they expected to have to do. As it was, many Russian rail lines were so bad that running just a few trains a day down them would result in their failure to a point as to be unusable.
With better planning, the Germans could have already known this to be the case and had stockpiled the necessary materials to do the repairs and upgrades. Toss in that the railway troops get somewhat more mechanization than they had--say like specially fitted trains with equipment to assist in laying track, etc., and they could do more.

Another example would be to have prefabricated buildings that can be shipped on a flat car to a location to build engine sheds, offices, barracks, etc., for the personnel and equipment that the rail system would be using. These could have been made entirely from "non-strategic" materials and quickly erected to provide the necessary buildings. The British and Americans did this, so it's entirely possible the Germans could do it. This, in turn, means that when the weather turns bad in Russia the railway system continues to operate with a good degree of efficiency.
Yes, I've read DerAlteFritz's thread on German Railways East. There was a lot more work to do than just regauge the tracks. Most German locomotives were too heavy for the poorly embedded Soviet rail lines, and weren't built to travel long distances between water stations, etc. Since speed was of the essence if the Germans were to have any chance of success in the war, they needed to start working on Soviet style trains before the war and have a large fleet ready so the Ostheer could be adequately supplied by rail from the start of the invasion.

Return to “What if”