Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

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DixieDivision1418
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Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by DixieDivision1418 » 01 Oct 2022 17:25

Based on reading this article (https://www.operationbarbarossa.net/the ... mber-1941/) about Army Group North's activities in August and September 1941, I'm wondering how close they were to actually capturing Leningrad. In late August German panzer forces were about 20 miles from the city, but the Soviets launched a series of counterattacks.

The author mentions Hitler's decision in early September to isolate the city, rather than capture it. What is the most likely scenario where Army Group North is able to capture Leningrad before the start of 1942?

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Oct 2022 15:01

One of the German armored division commanders in this campaign left a book with some chapters on this battle or campaign in 1941. Rauch or Rausch I think. There was a artillery officer in a infantry division who also was present and left a English language translation of his book. Either auto bio would give you some additional insight into this. Unfortunately tho Im in a comfy chair its not in my library & I cant check the exact names and titles today.


On the game board taking Lenningrad is tough. Either the Red play has to screw up. Or the team Grey player get lucky. I've both succeeded and failed with a series of high risk attacks in the autumn or early winter turns.months. However its always a good idea to put pressure on that front to draw in the defense to that front.

Drawing from gaming the campaign and the descriptions of those two participants in the battle it would require first a massive resupply effort to the German mobile divisions. The armored & motor infantry, as well as large quantities of ammunition for the artillery. The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September. There are also complaints across the board in all army groups as well as near Lenningrad that the artillery could not depend on a full 'unit of fire' being present any day. To put it another way they were unable to set up large volume concentrations needed to suppress or neutralize the Red Army defenses. A focus on small volume precision strikes with a few cannon was not sufficient for supporting the infantry assaults & the casualties of the latter ran up rapidly.


So, maybe getting 200+ tanks per armored division running again by early September & quadrupling ammunition delivery to the artillery batteries on the firing line?

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by curiousone » 06 Oct 2022 16:45

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September.
According to Jentz in Panzertruppen vol. 1 on 10th of September 1st Panzer Division had 99 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 156 (63,4%), 6th Panzer Division had 181 operational tanks out of initial strength of 256 (70,7%) and finally, 8th Panzer Division had 154 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 223 (69%). Summing up, 434 operational panzers out of 635 (68%). Overall, tanks of 4th Panzer Group presented the highest operational rates through the whole Operation Barbarossa. So your impression about panzer formations of AGN having lost about 75% of combat effectiveness by mid September (how you measure that is a different question) is clearly wrong.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
So, maybe getting 200+ tanks per armored division running again by early September & quadrupling ammunition delivery to the artillery batteries on the firing line?
200+ operational tanks per division? 1st Panzer Division started with 156 tanks, the 6th one had 181 operational tanks by mid September, so your condition is met and the 8th one started with 223 tanks, so 200 operational tanks in its case means 90% of tanks being operational - a task unachievable for both sides during the ongoing fighting.

Speaking about other side, I wonder how many tanks and how many of them being operational did the Soviets possess in front of the Army Group North at that time. Analysing only one side will never give a complete answer.

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Oct 2022 20:32

DixieDivision1418 wrote:
01 Oct 2022 17:25
Based on reading this article (https://www.operationbarbarossa.net/the ... mber-1941/) about Army Group North's activities in August and September 1941, I'm wondering how close they were to actually capturing Leningrad. In late August German panzer forces were about 20 miles from the city, but the Soviets launched a series of counterattacks.

The author mentions Hitler's decision in early September to isolate the city, rather than capture it. What is the most likely scenario where Army Group North is able to capture Leningrad before the start of 1942?
The key issue is that raised by Hitler in the directive dated 29 Sep 1941.

After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. [...] Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population. Reid, Anna (2011). Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941-44. London, England, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781408824702 – via Google Books.Reid 2011, pp. 134–135, 6. No Sentimentality

What could AG North do to support between two and three million civilians and PW? This would be a casual half holocaust by starvation.

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Oct 2022 22:46

curiousone wrote:
06 Oct 2022 16:45
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September.
According to Jentz in Panzertruppen vol. 1 on 10th of September 1st Panzer Division had 99 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 156 (63,4%), 6th Panzer Division had 181 operational tanks out of initial strength of 256 (70,7%)
Combat effectiveness is more than counting tanks on the equipment list. Erhard Raus gives a very pessimistic picture of the state of the 6th Pz Div in his report of 31 October. In his text in 'Panzer Operations'Chapter 5 Moscow, a extract from his report describes a average of between 11,000 & 12,000 kilometers to date on the tanks, & that the entire number of 35t can no longer be repaired as no spare parts are delivered and the canabalized parts are too worn to be of use. Delivery of parts for the Mk II & Mk IV were inadequate. The inability to repair non running tanks extends back to August where he describes the support echelon of the LVI Panzer Corps as unable to service the divisions as it was trailing too far behind. Emergency delivery of critical repair parts was made by air transport alleviating part of the problem. From Raus & others my take is the actual number of running tanks was close to 50% or less, & Jentzs number represents the total numbers not destroyed & written off.

Beyond that my definition of combat effectiveness goes beyond the tanks. The rifle & engineer battalions were depleted, and the artillery transport was wearing thin. As important as the tanks was the ammunition supply for the artillery. Defeating the relatively dense defenses still remaining around Lenningrad requires more than a few dozen rounds per cannon. Keeping up a single unit of fire in the batteries & ammo train was problematic in the late summer in all the army groups. providing the 3, 4, 0r 5 units of fire seen necessary for defeating the Soviet defenses looks yet more difficult. This is the same problem German commanders describe with Army Group Center October - December. The ammunition deliveries to the artillery were far short of requirements for the scale of attacks being made. This stepped up casualties of the tank, rifle, & pioneer battalions as they fought through inadequately suppressed defenses.

After sixty days of near continual operations and inadequate supply/support the armored divisions were exhausted.

Speaking about other side, I wonder how many tanks and how many of them being operational did the Soviets possess in front of the Army Group North at that time. Analysing only one side will never give a complete answer.

Agree. Its tough to gauge what the Red Army really had around Lennigrad, even in raw numbers. Analyzing effectiveness is yet more difficult.

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by jbroshot » 08 Oct 2022 06:31

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Oct 2022 20:32

The key issue is that raised by Hitler in the directive dated 29 Sep 1941.

After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. [...] Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population. Reid, Anna (2011). Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941-44. London, England, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781408824702 – via Google Books.Reid 2011, pp. 134–135, 6. No Sentimentality

What could AG North do to support between two and three million civilians and PW? This would be a casual half holocaust by starvation.
The actual directive was issued by the Naval Staff based on a decision by Hitler

Image

Image



source: Fuehrer Directives and Other Top Level Directives of the German Armed Forces 1939-1941

https://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... 354/rec/27
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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by DixieDivision1418 » 16 Oct 2022 01:09

Of the two, which would be more likely to bring about the fall of Leningrad: the Germans making a risky lunge for the city in July - or some other decision being made in the August-September period?

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Peter89 » 17 Oct 2022 04:57

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Oct 2022 22:46
curiousone wrote:
06 Oct 2022 16:45
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September.
According to Jentz in Panzertruppen vol. 1 on 10th of September 1st Panzer Division had 99 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 156 (63,4%), 6th Panzer Division had 181 operational tanks out of initial strength of 256 (70,7%)
Combat effectiveness is more than counting tanks on the equipment list. Erhard Raus gives a very pessimistic picture of the state of the 6th Pz Div in his report of 31 October. In his text in 'Panzer Operations'Chapter 5 Moscow, a extract from his report describes a average of between 11,000 & 12,000 kilometers to date on the tanks, & that the entire number of 35t can no longer be repaired as no spare parts are delivered and the canabalized parts are too worn to be of use. Delivery of parts for the Mk II & Mk IV were inadequate. The inability to repair non running tanks extends back to August where he describes the support echelon of the LVI Panzer Corps as unable to service the divisions as it was trailing too far behind. Emergency delivery of critical repair parts was made by air transport alleviating part of the problem. From Raus & others my take is the actual number of running tanks was close to 50% or less, & Jentzs number represents the total numbers not destroyed & written off.

Beyond that my definition of combat effectiveness goes beyond the tanks. The rifle & engineer battalions were depleted, and the artillery transport was wearing thin. As important as the tanks was the ammunition supply for the artillery. Defeating the relatively dense defenses still remaining around Lenningrad requires more than a few dozen rounds per cannon. Keeping up a single unit of fire in the batteries & ammo train was problematic in the late summer in all the army groups. providing the 3, 4, 0r 5 units of fire seen necessary for defeating the Soviet defenses looks yet more difficult. This is the same problem German commanders describe with Army Group Center October - December. The ammunition deliveries to the artillery were far short of requirements for the scale of attacks being made. This stepped up casualties of the tank, rifle, & pioneer battalions as they fought through inadequately suppressed defenses.

After sixty days of near continual operations and inadequate supply/support the armored divisions were exhausted.

Speaking about other side, I wonder how many tanks and how many of them being operational did the Soviets possess in front of the Army Group North at that time. Analysing only one side will never give a complete answer.

Agree. Its tough to gauge what the Red Army really had around Lennigrad, even in raw numbers. Analyzing effectiveness is yet more difficult.
11-12 thousand kilometers?
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Aida1 » 17 Oct 2022 14:12

DixieDivision1418 wrote:
16 Oct 2022 01:09
Of the two, which would be more likely to bring about the fall of Leningrad: the Germans making a risky lunge for the city in July - or some other decision being made in the August-September period?
Would be concentrating the whole Panzer group in the north to the east of Narwa as mentioned by Manstein(Verlorene Siege pp 198-199).

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by thaddeus_c » 28 Oct 2022 14:11

my speculation is always around the evacuations of Soviet men & materials TO Leningrad which bolstered its defenses https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_ev ... of_Tallinn and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941)

since there was KM interest in the dockyards of Leningrad, maybe plausible they scheme a more robust effort in the Baltic? of course we cannot know if totally stopping the Soviet evacuations would precipitate the city falling but certainly it would affect the defenses in a major way.

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Aida1 » 28 Oct 2022 19:34

On this subject one should read Leningrad: The advance of Panzer Group 4 1941 by chales de beaulieu. Available in Kindle version.

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Urmel » 05 Dec 2022 11:58

Peter89 wrote:
17 Oct 2022 04:57
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Oct 2022 22:46
curiousone wrote:
06 Oct 2022 16:45
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September.
According to Jentz in Panzertruppen vol. 1 on 10th of September 1st Panzer Division had 99 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 156 (63,4%), 6th Panzer Division had 181 operational tanks out of initial strength of 256 (70,7%)
Combat effectiveness is more than counting tanks on the equipment list. Erhard Raus gives a very pessimistic picture of the state of the 6th Pz Div in his report of 31 October. In his text in 'Panzer Operations'Chapter 5 Moscow, a extract from his report describes a average of between 11,000 & 12,000 kilometers to date on the tanks, & that the entire number of 35t can no longer be repaired as no spare parts are delivered and the canabalized parts are too worn to be of use. Delivery of parts for the Mk II & Mk IV were inadequate. The inability to repair non running tanks extends back to August where he describes the support echelon of the LVI Panzer Corps as unable to service the divisions as it was trailing too far behind. Emergency delivery of critical repair parts was made by air transport alleviating part of the problem. From Raus & others my take is the actual number of running tanks was close to 50% or less, & Jentzs number represents the total numbers not destroyed & written off.

Beyond that my definition of combat effectiveness goes beyond the tanks. The rifle & engineer battalions were depleted, and the artillery transport was wearing thin. As important as the tanks was the ammunition supply for the artillery. Defeating the relatively dense defenses still remaining around Lenningrad requires more than a few dozen rounds per cannon. Keeping up a single unit of fire in the batteries & ammo train was problematic in the late summer in all the army groups. providing the 3, 4, 0r 5 units of fire seen necessary for defeating the Soviet defenses looks yet more difficult. This is the same problem German commanders describe with Army Group Center October - December. The ammunition deliveries to the artillery were far short of requirements for the scale of attacks being made. This stepped up casualties of the tank, rifle, & pioneer battalions as they fought through inadequately suppressed defenses.

After sixty days of near continual operations and inadequate supply/support the armored divisions were exhausted.

Speaking about other side, I wonder how many tanks and how many of them being operational did the Soviets possess in front of the Army Group North at that time. Analysing only one side will never give a complete answer.

Agree. Its tough to gauge what the Red Army really had around Lennigrad, even in raw numbers. Analyzing effectiveness is yet more difficult.
11-12 thousand kilometers?
They were 35(t) tanks, taken over after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, so this doesn't sound unreasonable.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Urmel » 05 Dec 2022 11:59

Aida1 wrote:
28 Oct 2022 19:34
On this subject one should read Leningrad: The advance of Panzer Group 4 1941 by chales de beaulieu. Available in Kindle version.
Agree, one of the best Wehrmacht im Kampf books. There are also the papers of Ritter von Leeb which are useful, published in 1976, but only available in German I think.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Peter89 » 05 Dec 2022 18:40

Urmel wrote:
05 Dec 2022 11:58
Peter89 wrote:
17 Oct 2022 04:57
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Oct 2022 22:46
curiousone wrote:
06 Oct 2022 16:45
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Oct 2022 15:01
The German testimony leaves me with the impression the panzers formations had lost about 75% of their combat effectiveness by mid September.
According to Jentz in Panzertruppen vol. 1 on 10th of September 1st Panzer Division had 99 operational tanks out of the initial strength of 156 (63,4%), 6th Panzer Division had 181 operational tanks out of initial strength of 256 (70,7%)
Combat effectiveness is more than counting tanks on the equipment list. Erhard Raus gives a very pessimistic picture of the state of the 6th Pz Div in his report of 31 October. In his text in 'Panzer Operations'Chapter 5 Moscow, a extract from his report describes a average of between 11,000 & 12,000 kilometers to date on the tanks, & that the entire number of 35t can no longer be repaired as no spare parts are delivered and the canabalized parts are too worn to be of use. Delivery of parts for the Mk II & Mk IV were inadequate. The inability to repair non running tanks extends back to August where he describes the support echelon of the LVI Panzer Corps as unable to service the divisions as it was trailing too far behind. Emergency delivery of critical repair parts was made by air transport alleviating part of the problem. From Raus & others my take is the actual number of running tanks was close to 50% or less, & Jentzs number represents the total numbers not destroyed & written off.

Beyond that my definition of combat effectiveness goes beyond the tanks. The rifle & engineer battalions were depleted, and the artillery transport was wearing thin. As important as the tanks was the ammunition supply for the artillery. Defeating the relatively dense defenses still remaining around Lenningrad requires more than a few dozen rounds per cannon. Keeping up a single unit of fire in the batteries & ammo train was problematic in the late summer in all the army groups. providing the 3, 4, 0r 5 units of fire seen necessary for defeating the Soviet defenses looks yet more difficult. This is the same problem German commanders describe with Army Group Center October - December. The ammunition deliveries to the artillery were far short of requirements for the scale of attacks being made. This stepped up casualties of the tank, rifle, & pioneer battalions as they fought through inadequately suppressed defenses.

After sixty days of near continual operations and inadequate supply/support the armored divisions were exhausted.

Speaking about other side, I wonder how many tanks and how many of them being operational did the Soviets possess in front of the Army Group North at that time. Analysing only one side will never give a complete answer.

Agree. Its tough to gauge what the Red Army really had around Lennigrad, even in raw numbers. Analyzing effectiveness is yet more difficult.
11-12 thousand kilometers?
They were 35(t) tanks, taken over after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, so this doesn't sound unreasonable.
I guess those are hull kms rather than engine kms?
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Could Army Group North have taken Leningrad in 1941?

Post by Urmel » 09 Dec 2022 21:13

I suspect so, but at this age a number of components are likely to be more failure prone. It would be good to get information from 6. PD files on the actual problems they encountered, rather than taking Raus' word for it.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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