Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

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historygeek2021
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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 10 Jun 2022 02:50

pugsville wrote:
10 Jun 2022 02:30


It was already undergoing at expansion prior to the war, that 1941 number had not been static, in par it was able to expand in the first year of the war because it had already been prepared for and planned. Sure they kicked it up and had crash emergency program in top of that
Yes, and as the mobilization in 1941 and 1942 shows, the Red Army could have expanded even more. The fall of France in 1940 was an emergency for the Soviet Union, and Stalin needed to treat it like one.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by pugsville » 10 Jun 2022 03:09

historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 02:50
pugsville wrote:
10 Jun 2022 02:30


It was already undergoing at expansion prior to the war, that 1941 number had not been static, in par it was able to expand in the first year of the war because it had already been prepared for and planned. Sure they kicked it up and had crash emergency program in top of that
Yes, and as the mobilization in 1941 and 1942 shows, the Red Army could have expanded even more. The fall of France in 1940 was an emergency for the Soviet Union, and Stalin needed to treat it like one.
I agree with that but there are limits it was already expanding, teh program could have ben kicked up a notch but there are limits,

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Jun 2022 04:25

historygeek2021 wrote:
09 Jun 2022 17:53
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
09 Jun 2022 17:49

And yet the staff work was still not good enough, particularly at the division & below, tho army HQ had their deficiencies. Measures like dissolving most of the Corps HQ ed 1941 were necessary to concentrate the few capable officers among Army & Front HQ. A similar thing is described in the artillery, that is the division artillery lost its trained officers, who were concentrated in the Army or Front artillery brigades in late 1941 & into 1942. The division artillery was confined to only the simplest techniques until enough officers & NCO were properly train in 1943-44. Having 600 'divisions' is meaningless if the commanders & HQ staff cannot plan, organize, & execute basic tactical or operational tasks. In many respects the Red army would have been better off executing its original mobilization plans that Merkov describes existing in 1939. A lot fewer ground combat divisions in 1941, but with a denser population of officers qualified for their assignments & thus a more capable army.
Because the Red Army's officer ranks were decimated by the German offensive in 1941. Bring the Red Army up to a wartime footing before the German invasion, and there will be fewer officer losses. The Red Army had tens of thousands of reserve officers and NCOs before the war. Call them up in the summer of 1940 and give them a year working with their units, and the Red Army that almost bled the Ostheer dry in June-August of 1941 will finish the job.

Would not have made a difference in command and staff skills. it requires more time than the Red army had to spin up HQ staff for a extra 400+ divisions. I used to do this for a living, 20+ years worth or it. Even with maximum effort & 70 hour work weeks you cant train that many battalion, regiment, division, & corps or army officers in two years. In mid 1939 Merekov counts officer requirement in active service and in the reserves sufficient for cadre of approx 220 divisions that existed on paper, plus those for senior HQ & support units. But, the purge had removed a large portion of those particularly at the upper echelons. Conservatively counting 15% of requirement had been removed by the purges & not replaced with men of similar skill. Then there is the problem of reservists lacking training. From direct experience I know how skill sets for command and staff fall behind when you only have a few weeks of training each years. Recently activated reserve units simply don't perform as well as those which have several years of full time training accumulated.

Referring back to the US Army again: When mobilization started in the autumn of 1940 All the National Guard and Army Reserve Officer Corps were ordered to active service. That was on paper enough officers for 35 ground combat divisions & proportionate corps & army HQ. The balance went to the Army Air Corps & non combat service units. Of that officer cadre only 17,000 had more that two years of current training. The National Guard and Army Reserve officers required the better part of two years to come up to speed for the positions they held at mobilization. However that would have only provided a combat ready ground force of about 35 divisions, eight corps, and four army HQ, plus support units. To get to the eventual full trained strength of 89 divisions & support required spreading that officer strength across the 89 division total, and training the missing officers from men with zero military experience. In the summer of 1941 the Army was hard pressed after ten months to field three trained infantry divisions and a single ready corps HQ, After three years the US Army could in mid 1943 show maybe three dozen divisions that were led and staffed by fully trained officers, by the end of the year 60. It was mid 1944 before training for a 250% increase in Army size was completed. In the October 1939 to June 1942 expansion of only 21 months the Red army is supposed to have grown 250% from the 240 divisions described by Merekov to the paper strength of 600 claimed. Its grossly unrealistic to think that any effort will bring commanders and their HQ staff to basic competency in 21 or even 24 months when expanding at that scale.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 10 Jun 2022 04:48

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Jun 2022 04:25

Would not have made a difference in command and staff skills. it requires more time than the Red army had to spin up HQ staff for a extra 400+ divisions. I used to do this for a living, 20+ years worth or it. Even with maximum effort & 70 hour work weeks you cant train that many battalion, regiment, division, & corps or army officers in two years. In mid 1939 Merekov counts officer requirement in active service and in the reserves sufficient for cadre of approx 220 divisions that existed on paper, plus those for senior HQ & support units. But, the purge had removed a large portion of those particularly at the upper echelons. Conservatively counting 15% of requirement had been removed by the purges & not replaced with men of similar skill. Then there is the problem of reservists lacking training. From direct experience I know how skill sets for command and staff fall behind when you only have a few weeks of training each years. Recently activated reserve units simply don't perform as well as those which have several years of full time training accumulated.

Referring back to the US Army again: When mobilization started in the autumn of 1940 All the National Guard and Army Reserve Officer Corps were ordered to active service. That was on paper enough officers for 35 ground combat divisions & proportionate corps & army HQ. The balance went to the Army Air Corps & non combat service units. Of that officer cadre only 17,000 had more that two years of current training. The National Guard and Army Reserve officers required the better part of two years to come up to speed for the positions they held at mobilization. However that would have only provided a combat ready ground force of about 35 divisions, eight corps, and four army HQ, plus support units. To get to the eventual full trained strength of 89 divisions & support required spreading that officer strength across the 89 division total, and training the missing officers from men with zero military experience. In the summer of 1941 the Army was hard pressed after ten months to field three trained infantry divisions and a single ready corps HQ, After three years the US Army could in mid 1943 show maybe three dozen divisions that were led and staffed by fully trained officers, by the end of the year 60. It was mid 1944 before training for a 250% increase in Army size was completed. In the October 1939 to June 1942 expansion of only 21 months the Red army is supposed to have grown 250% from the 240 divisions described by Merekov to the paper strength of 600 claimed. Its grossly unrealistic to think that any effort will bring commanders and their HQ staff to basic competency in 21 or even 24 months when expanding at that scale.
But they actually did it. In 1942. Despite losing basically their entire pre-war army. The Soviet Union had been preparing for total war for at least a decade. They had 14 million trained reservists, including 600,000 officers and 885,000 NCOs (Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, p. 101).

The Soviet Union had already doubled the number of its rifle divisions from 1/1/1939 to 1/1/1940 (86 to 155), but added only 22 more by June 22, 1941. They raised 69 divisions in 12 months, then only 22 in the following 18 months. All the USSR had to do was build on the mobilization that it underwent in 1939. Three year conscription was instituted in 1939. They had the reserves and they had the training and mobilization in place as early as 1939.

The USSR was not the USA. The USA ignored its army in the 1930s. The Soviet Union was preparing its population for total war in the 1930s. Stalin didn't want to admit that his gamble in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had failed, so he refused to order total mobilization even though it was obvious to everyone on the planet that Hitler would invade in 1941.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 10 Jun 2022 05:01

T. A. Gardner wrote:
10 Jun 2022 01:55
The problem is, warm bodies alone don't count. Most Red Army divisions in June 1941 were short of equipment, and even what they had was often unserviceable. This was due in large part to the army expanding while factories concentrated on turning out finished equipment while scant attention was paid to spare parts and such.

So, even if you stand up a division, if it doesn't have the proper equipment, or even serviceable substitutes, lacks spares, lacks ammunition, and other gear then it's really just a POW camp looking for a place to exist.
Who said anything about "bodies alone"? Total mobilization means that the entire economy is directed toward military production. The Red Army didn't have enough equipment on June 22, 1941 because Stalin had refused to fully mobilize the economy for war, because he was afraid of giving Hitler a provocation.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Jun 2022 05:33

But they actually did it. In 1942. Despite losing basically their entire pre-war army. The Soviet Union had been preparing for total war for at least a decade. They had 14 million trained reservists, including 600,000 officers and 885,000 NCOs (Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, p. 101).
Having that number on paper is not evidence they were actually trained to any useful level. You are tossing numbers out, but don't understand the effort & time it takes to train the skill sets for this. Ordering total mobilization is not a magic wand that magically crams years of accumulated experience into one or two. This obsession with gross numbers leads directly to dilution of quality. one of the reasons the US Army capped its strength at a nominal 90 divisions. Stalin would have been better off it The Red Army had formed fewer units to better concentrate the talent.
The Soviet Union had already doubled the number of its rifle divisions from 1/1/1939 to 1/1/1940 (86 to 155), but added only 22 more by June 22, 1941. They raised 69 divisions in 12 months, then only 22 in the following 18 months.
Merekov goes into a bit more detail on this. The active army of 1939 was the cadre for 3x number of formations. ie: the 65 infantry divisions in the west were on mobilization to be split into three & combine with reserve formations. That is on full mobilization about 180 infantry divisions would be stood up. Altogether the nominal strength of the Red Army including reserve formations was some 240 divisions if border security (KGB) formations are included. The other types like cavalry were not described as having the same shadow formations in the reserve as the infantry. Given the threat in 1939 the desire to expand the Red Army is understandable, but overreaching & attempting to stand up a force of 600, or even 500 ground combat divisions in two years caused as much harm as good. In his text Merekov remarks how the expansion of 1939-1940 was so chaotic it was difficult to trace actual actions. Multiple alterations in mobilization plans and organization stalled actual useful efforts. This sorted out somewhat as 1940 ran out, but the result was large numbers of new conscripts & officers had received only token training, reserve units were activated with inadequate preparations to house them, or make up equipment deficiencies, and execute any practical training. That is much of the effort to expand was wasted.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Jun 2022 05:44

historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 05:01
T. A. Gardner wrote:
10 Jun 2022 01:55
The problem is, warm bodies alone don't count. Most Red Army divisions in June 1941 were short of equipment, and even what they had was often unserviceable. This was due in large part to the army expanding while factories concentrated on turning out finished equipment while scant attention was paid to spare parts and such.

So, even if you stand up a division, if it doesn't have the proper equipment, or even serviceable substitutes, lacks spares, lacks ammunition, and other gear then it's really just a POW camp looking for a place to exist.
Who said anything about "bodies alone"? Total mobilization means that the entire economy is directed toward military production. The Red Army didn't have enough equipment on June 22, 1941 because Stalin had refused to fully mobilize the economy for war, because he was afraid of giving Hitler a provocation.
Total mobilization is another item that cant be turned on by a switch. As it was the plans to ramp up arms production were countered by the loss of factory workers to reservists call up. Every nation that mobilized a large army ran into that problem. Even with some efforts at coordinating these things it took multiple years to reorganize & retool. The US with its skilled labor and flexible management systems took four years to hit its peak in aircraft production. Similarly it took three years to reach the goals for medium tank production. The Essex class aircraft carriers were speced in 1941 & the first not delivered until 1943. Again this is a reason for the USSR to take a more logical and better planned preparation. What the point in mobilizing 14 million men or 600 divisions if 200 divisions cant be provided with small arms until 1942 & artillery & vehicles until 1943?

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by AnchorSteam » 10 Jun 2022 07:50

historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 02:50
Yes, and as the mobilization in 1941 and 1942 shows, the Red Army could have expanded even more. The fall of France in 1940 was an emergency for the Soviet Union, and Stalin needed to treat it like one.
Stalin could rationalize anything (Communists are like that) and if he didn't want to see it as an emergency than it was not one as far as the USSR was concerned.
Up to a point....

Stalin used 1939 and 1940 to seize former Soviet territory, and was only stymied in Finland. He could rationalize Hitler's moves by seeing his campaigns as the same thing for Germany.
Also, there was trade with Germany that they clearly needed more than the USSR did. The British blockade was largely irrelevant for as long as trade between the Dictators functioned smoothly, and the moment it ceased time became Hitler's enemy. This might be something to keep in mind today when people try to say that war with China is impossible on economic grounds.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by pugsville » 10 Jun 2022 08:40

AnchorSteam wrote:
10 Jun 2022 07:50
historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 02:50
Yes, and as the mobilization in 1941 and 1942 shows, the Red Army could have expanded even more. The fall of France in 1940 was an emergency for the Soviet Union, and Stalin needed to treat it like one.
Stalin could rationalize anything (Communists are like that) and if he didn't want to see it as an emergency than it was not one as far as the USSR was concerned.
Up to a point....

Stalin used 1939 and 1940 to seize former Soviet territory, and was only stymied in Finland. He could rationalize Hitler's moves by seeing his campaigns as the same thing for Germany.
Also, there was trade with Germany that they clearly needed more than the USSR did. The British blockade was largely irrelevant for as long as trade between the Dictators functioned smoothly, and the moment it ceased time became Hitler's enemy. This might be something to keep in mind today when people try to say that war with China is impossible on economic grounds.
The Soviets were getting machine tools from Germany vital to expanding their factories.

Regardless of what Stalin could justify, mobilization of large number needs organization and preparation.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by ljadw » 10 Jun 2022 11:36

There was no need for Stalin to order total mobilization at the end of May 1940: The Barbarossa order was issued only in the Winter of 1940-1941 and he needed no total mobilization as he could easily advance to Berlin,as the German border with the USSR was practically undefended in May 1940 .
OTOH : the story of the KV1 and KV2 that would go to Berlin is a myth . There were only few of them and they were very slow ,thus very vulnerable .They were an easy prey for the German infantry .

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 10 Jun 2022 14:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Jun 2022 05:33

Merekov goes into a bit more detail on this.
Full cite please.
Having that number on paper is not evidence they were actually trained to any useful level. You are tossing numbers out, but don't understand the effort & time it takes to train the skill sets for this. Ordering total mobilization is not a magic wand that magically crams years of accumulated experience into one or two. This obsession with gross numbers leads directly to dilution of quality. one of the reasons the US Army capped its strength at a nominal 90 divisions. Stalin would have been better off it The Red Army had formed fewer units to better concentrate the talent.
And you don't seem to understand that it actually worked. Total mobilization leading to a mass army of 5+ million men at the front is what defeated the Ostheer. A poor country like the Soviet Union is never going to field divisions with the quality of the U.S. Army or even the Wehrmacht. What they needed was quantity. This wasn't unknown at the time. Even Seeckt recognized a decade or so earlier that in a defensive war, you need total mobilization of the population. This has defeated a small professional army every time.

The contention that the USSR needed a smaller, higher quality army is just a "What If." A quickly raised mass army is what actually worked in history.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by Art » 10 Jun 2022 15:09

historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 04:48
But they actually did it. In 1942. Despite losing basically their entire pre-war army.
Irrevokable casualties of Soviet generals and admirals in the campaign of 1941 were circa 160 out of 1076 available by the start of the war (or 1/7). Casualities of commanding officers beginning from the level of division and above - approximately 1/3 of the total number:
viewtopic.php?p=2300539#p2300539
I didn't count but strongly suspect that regimental commanders suffered similar casualty rate (about 30%).
Casualties of all active officers are more difficult to estimate for a lack of data. The best guess is that about 1/3 of all active officers available by 22.6.41 became killed, missing or prisoners by the end of the year. That means that 2/3 stayed there. The idea of losing basically the entire pre-war army is simply not true, a larger part of qualified staff survived.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by AnchorSteam » 10 Jun 2022 16:05

historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 14:01

The contention that the USSR needed a smaller, higher quality army is just a "What If." A quickly raised mass army is what actually worked in history.
"worked"?
For who?
The Russian military record is horrible. The only people that were beaten more often by Napoleon were the Austrians, and the record since then has been dismal. 1945 was such an unusual victory that they keep trying to claim sole credit for the whole thing. and if you look at the Ukraine today they still have the same ideas about quantity over quality and a ghastly attitude towards their own soldiers.

If anyone needs a professional class of warrior eliete, it's Russia.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by historygeek2021 » 10 Jun 2022 16:32

Art wrote:
10 Jun 2022 15:09
historygeek2021 wrote:
10 Jun 2022 04:48
But they actually did it. In 1942. Despite losing basically their entire pre-war army.
Irrevokable casualties of Soviet generals and admirals in the campaign of 1941 were circa 160 out of 1076 available by the start of the war (or 1/7). Casualities of commanding officers beginning from the level of division and above - approximately 1/3 of the total number:
viewtopic.php?p=2300539#p2300539
I didn't count but strongly suspect that regimental commanders suffered similar casualty rate (about 30%).
Casualties of all active officers are more difficult to estimate for a lack of data. The best guess is that about 1/3 of all active officers available by 22.6.41 became killed, missing or prisoners by the end of the year. That means that 2/3 stayed there. The idea of losing basically the entire pre-war army is simply not true, a larger part of qualified staff survived.
The link on that thread isn't working. Can you check if there is a current link?

Losses will be higher the farther down in the ranks we look. In terms of sheer manpower, the equivalent of the entire pre-war army, not just those at the front, was lost in 1941 (KIA and POW - even more were lost if we count wounded). Since these were regular soldiers serving three year conscription, their quality was much better than the reservists called up in 1941 and 1942, and could have served as the cadre for a mass mobilized army before Barbarossa.

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Re: Stalin orders total mobilization before Barbarossa

Post by Huszar666 » 10 Jun 2022 16:37

And you don't seem to understand that it actually worked.
If you mean by "worked" that they threw warm bodies at the Germans till the MGs overheated and the survivors were able to overwhelm the defenders, then yes, it indeed worked.
If you see it as tactical, operational and strategical knowledge and capabilities, than not so much.
Even at the very end of the war, German training was lightyears above what the soviets could field (with very few exceptions). Most Front Commanders (Front as Army Group) wouldn't been even entrusted with a Corps in... basically every other nation.

The only thing Stalin would have achieved by putting 600 barely trained division on the western border is to squander even MORE troops and material for even LESS impact in the very first month of the campaign. Oh, and those personel and material would not be there in the autumn.

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