German Railways in the East

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recidivist
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by recidivist » 21 Mar 2014 17:34

Der Alte Fritz wrote:There is a very good account in the Westwood book mentioned above which I would be happy to post here if people are interested.

Electrification of the USSR was a key goal of the Party from 1920 and was supported by the personal statements of Lenin. This saw the establishment of the GOELRO to oversee the project. They set the target in 1920 of 3,860km of electric railway within 10-15 years. The first railway appeared in 1926 run by the local authority for Baku to service the oil industry and then the NKPS started in 1927 with a commuter line to the north of Moscow. However progress was slow due to number of factors:...
Good information, thanks for that. I had no idea that the Soviets were actually dabbling in electrifying their rail Network (apart from various experiments, and Moscow commuter lines) Electrification was particularly useful in very arid climates, and it also lessened the dependence on coal - although many electrical powerplants would be coal-fuelled anyway, I guess those in the Baku area may have been oil-fuelled. And of course Baku is at least in the neighbourhood of the 1942 Fall Blau summer campaign; I wonder if the Germans and their Allies captured any part of the electrified line mentioned in 1942?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 22 Mar 2014 07:33

In reality from 1926 to 1945, 2255km were electrificated.
I can provide the full list of all lines - 39 of them - unfortunately in Cyrillic.
Just looking at station's names, it seems only several could by in German hands.
Most known, actually used by German Army, at Mineralnye Vody.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 04 Apr 2014 07:53

I have found a short article by Schuler in English which you can read here:
http://www.questia.com/library/1293235/ ... ia-and-the

it is chapter 12 and called - the Eastern Campaign as A Transportation and Supply Problem. It is essentially a précis of his longer 1987 thesis "Logistik in Russlandfeldzug" which covers the Barbarossa Campaign up to the failure of the attack against Moscow and manly covers the operation of the DRB in Russia. Well worth a read. I have attached the first page.

One item that he mentions but I did not know is that once the DRB had been given the task of sorting out the railway problem by Hitler and had failed to deliver, Hitler threatened the Under Secretary for the Ministry of Transport and sent two DRB high officials to the Gestapo. Does anyone know who these people were?
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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 04 Apr 2014 09:05

In February 1942 Eugen Hahn from RVD Minsk and Erwin Landenberger from RVD Kiew were arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Staatssekretär Wilhelm Kleinmann had to go as well - "on his own request" - in May 1942.
Mierzejewski mentioned the whole episode.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 04 Apr 2014 21:08

Yes I read the mention in "Hitlers Trains" which is the paperback edition of "The Most Valuable Asset of the Reich" (not sure if it differs from the hardback edition) but it does not mention any names. Any idea what happened to these men?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Dann Falk » 26 Apr 2014 20:59

Not to change the subject but I have a question.

I’m been reading Into Oblivion by Jason D Mark, it’s a history of the 305 Pionier Bataillon of the German 305 Infantry Division. This book is published by Leaping Horseman Books. http://www.leapinghorseman.com/

The 305 Infantry Division was transferred from France to the Russian front in May 1942. The 305 started to arrive outside Kharkov during the Soviet offensive to capture Kharkov. The 305 first went into action to counter this Soviet offensive and later went on to become part of the German 6th Army and attack towards Stalingrad during Operation Blue.

One interesting bit of Railroad information is on page 66 where it stated “the bulk of the division’s motorized units drove all the way from Germany”….and that these “vehicles would not reach Kharkov for another fortnight.” (Due to mud).

The story explains that most of the men and some vehicles went by rail directly to Kharkov, but my question is; why have most of the divisions vehicles drive all the way from Germany?

This doesn’t make sense because:
1. A road march would use up limited supplies of gasoline.
2. The vehicles would suffer damage and breakdowns along the way.
3. These vehicles were not with the bulk of the division when it went into combat, reducing combat power.

So another question is, why transfer units this way? Did the Germans, during the spring of 1942, have such a limited rail capacity that they were forced to send units to Russia by road?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 27 Apr 2014 08:23

GregSingh wrote:In February 1942 Eugen Hahn from RVD Minsk and Erwin Landenberger from RVD Kiew were arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Staatssekretär Wilhelm Kleinmann had to go as well - "on his own request" - in May 1942.
Mierzejewski mentioned the whole episode.
Is there any more to this story Greg, did they survive?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 27 Apr 2014 10:15

Dann Falk wrote:One interesting bit of Railroad information is on page 66 where it stated “the bulk of the division’s motorized units drove all the way from Germany”….and that these “vehicles would not reach Kharkov for another fortnight.” (Due to mud).

The story explains that most of the men and some vehicles went by rail directly to Kharkov, but my question is; why have most of the divisions vehicles drive all the way from Germany?

This doesn’t make sense because:
1. A road march would use up limited supplies of gasoline.
2. The vehicles would suffer damage and breakdowns along the way.
3. These vehicles were not with the bulk of the division when it went into combat, reducing combat power.

So another question is, why transfer units this way? Did the Germans, during the spring of 1942, have such a limited rail capacity that they were forced to send units to Russia by road?
Not at all Dann, anything railway related is of interest. I am currently struggling through translating Kroker's AG Mitte book so have not had anything to post from it yet as a large part of the book is simply operational.

This is a great example of how 'thinking railways' allows a clearer insight into operations.

So May 1942 what is the railway situation in HG Sud?
We know from page 6 of this thread that HG had got through the winter with a small track capacity but that there had been considerable disruption from locomotives failing during the winter. By May this has been sorted out and some normality had returned to the network, the DRB is now assisting the RVM which has control of the network up the rear of the front line but the Ostbau 42 programme has not started yet. The HG has two main lines operating at 24 trains a day with some subsidiary lines as well - maybe 60 trains a day? 75 at most? But there is a major operation which finishes in March to recover Kharkov which needs restocking and replacement and the build up for Fall Blau. So a busy time for the railways.

The 305 I.D is from the 13th Wave and is largely horse drawn with around 500 motor vehicles (mainly supply vehicles carrying ammunition and artillery tractors) so assuming that they brought the artillery tractors on the trains, they would have been able to operate using Army level in theatre transport while their own motor transport drove from Germany. Some ID had had their transport stripped from them in 1941, but I cannot see if the 305 was one of these. (Anyone know?) At full strength the ID would use 40 trains and with 40 vehicles per Kraftfahrzüge (K-train), they could save maybe 10 trains by getting the lorries to drive from Poland probably (not Germany as the railway could carry everything needed up to the 1939 border).

The railway net at 60 trains has 25 trains a day committed to basic supply, the economic traffic is starting at this point but mainly in the other direction but is a factor and then there is the traffic concerned with the Ostbau Programme bringing in men and supplies to re-construct the railway so the estimate would be that the network can move around 1 ID every two days (60-75 less 25 less 10 = 25-40 trains less replacement trains) so the answer is YES there is a real transport under capacity in May 1942, the work to correct this has not yet started and so any saving in railway space would have been utilised no matter what the cost in fuel or wear and tear. Remember that the Grosstransportraum has not yet returned from its winter re-establishment in Germany and transport across the whole theatre is in short supply.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 29 Apr 2014 10:57

Unfortunately I don't have any information about fate of Eugen Hahn and Erwin Landenberger.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Dann Falk » 29 Apr 2014 16:37

Most interesting, it appears the Operation Blue offensive was even more logistically lean than I understood.

Limitations in rail transport/supply went on to hamper the entire attack and later on the defensive stage.
• Lack of fuel to allow full use of mobile units.
• Lack of spare parts and replacements to keep units up to strength.
• Lack of sufficient munitions to properly pound Stalingrad into submission.
• Inability to stockpile, food, ammunition, winter clothing before the Soviet November attack.
• Inability to assemble and maintain a much needed reserve force to counter Soviet actions during the winter months.
• Inability to assemble and support a proper relief force to free the 6th Army from encirclement.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by ljadw » 29 Apr 2014 17:23

GregSingh wrote:Unfortunately I don't have any information about fate of Eugen Hahn and Erwin Landenberger.
From "Verrat an der Ostfront " P 161 by Friedrich Georg (a goose-stepper):

At the beginning of july 1942,Hahn and Lindenberger were released from Sachsenhausen;Hahn got a new function and after the war got a function at the Bundesbahn Stuttgart;in 1957,he committed suicide ,not yer 53 years old .

Source of Georg :Eisenbahner gegen Hitler P240-249 (by Alfred Gottwald)

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by GregSingh » 29 Apr 2014 23:54

Thanks ljadw!
Hahn wrote a book in 1954 - Eisenbahner in Krieg und Frieden - 20EUR from amazon.de - 255 pages...

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 02 May 2014 19:45

Dann Falk wrote:Most interesting, it appears the Operation Blue offensive was even more logistically lean than I understood.

Limitations in rail transport/supply went on to hamper the entire attack and later on the defensive stage.
• Lack of fuel to allow full use of mobile units.
• Lack of spare parts and replacements to keep units up to strength.
• Lack of sufficient munitions to properly pound Stalingrad into submission.
• Inability to stockpile, food, ammunition, winter clothing before the Soviet November attack.
• Inability to assemble and maintain a much needed reserve force to counter Soviet actions during the winter months.
• Inability to assemble and support a proper relief force to free the 6th Army from encirclement.
The situation is not static and the Eisenbahn are working hard to correct the problems but are hampered by their efforts to build a small number of high capacity lines rather than trying to get a lot of low capacity lines working (the Soviet approach when going the other way in 1943.)
The situation in May is 24 trains a day down the main Kiev and Odessa lines and 6 down the Pripet line through Sarny which gives you 54 trains total daily.

The Ostbau 42 programme upgrades the two main lines and the 'marsh line' so according to the map in post Nr.53http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 7#p1843717 we get 36 on the main lines and 12 on the minor line which means 84 daily by around August. But the table in post Nr.134 shows that not all this is military traffic and that in n HG Sud there is little change between April and Oct of 62-67 trains, a lot of the new capacity is taken up with economic traffic. (In the table the note Tighina is the traffic from Transistria under Romanian control.)

But by this point the attack has started but the Soviets have laid waste the rail lines of the Don basin and the bridges so the actual quantity reaching the troops depends upon the single line running through to Rostov and then in October another line to Stalingrad. The situation in November is given in the map in post Nr.127 http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1853790 and you can see that most of the crossings over the Don are awaiting repair and there is still just the one line running to the south and one to Stalingrad and the Volga bend. The Caucus line is quoted as either 24 trains (von Bork) or 40-50 trains (Pottgeisser) and 12 for the Stalingrad line. We have not resolved this figure but I suspect that von Bork is correct for the far side of the Don and Pottgeisser for the near side of the Don (ie the Kiev route plus the Kharkov route). Each HG needs 24 trains a day and they never receive this.

This claim is backed up by Halder's diary in which he notes before the attack that there is not enough railway capacity to support both Herren Gruppe and direction of advance and he urges Hitler to only pursue one.

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 03 May 2014 06:42

But the German High Command had a second option and we know that the Quarter Master deploys 10,000 t of the Gro0transportraum in support of the operation. This compares with the 45,000 t deployed for Operation Barbarossa but then in 1942 a lot of the GTR is working as small units right along the Eastern Front or has returned to its original function supporting German industry.

The 10,000 t capacity is the support for the second Herren Gruppe but declines with distance and with Stalingrad being 400km away and Maikop 1,200km at the furthest extent of the advance would not have made up the shortfall in supplies by any meaningful measure.

They either needed to deploy more of the GTR or get the railways going in the period July - September to make a difference.

The question is why did the railway reconstruction go so slowly? Between May and end of July the Germans capture the west bank of the Don that is around 200km from their starting point. July to September they advance on Stalingrad and Maikop, the former being a further 200km away.
Typical Soviet rates of advance for the period were 7km a day for reconstruction of railway lines so a month of construction equates to 200km.
Or was it the bridges over the Don that caused the delay?

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Re: German Railways in the East

Post by Dann Falk » 03 May 2014 16:22

It was always my understanding the lack of RR bridges over the Don River was the limiting factor. Priority was given to Rostov area to restore a single rail line to the south. Just as you said, this is what enabled the German attack to proceed. Truck companies alone would never be able to support an offensive to this depth. So the Germans had to choose one or the other, restore the RR line and bridges to the South or the East.

So I feel the critical area was the Don crossing on the Stalingrad line. The Soviet 62nd & 64th armies both fought along the rail line West of the river, and priority was to given to guarding all the Don bridges on a direct line to Stalingrad . I don’t know if I have ever seen a photo of the RR Bridge over the Don South of Kalach. It would appear the Germans were never able to muster enough engineering support/equipment to reopen this Don Bridge. So, for me, that is the question, why not?

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