German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

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Peter89
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 13 May 2022 19:19

pugsville wrote:
13 May 2022 15:38
Peter89 wrote:
13 May 2022 13:42
Richard Anderson wrote:
12 May 2022 23:56
You didn´t answer my question anyway (how many they could have put in Libya, if required?). You named five airfields. I know that aircrafts at that time were not like the jets today and infrastrucures could be improved much faster than today. To invade Crete, the germans improvised fast many airstrips. If you don´t answer, don´t worry. I understand.
A good guide to how many they could put in Libya is how many they actually put in Libya. Keeping aircraft on Sicily and Crete when there was a crying need in North Africa makes no sense. However, there was also a dearth of Tropisch-modified aircraft, so it was likely a combination of things. Otherwise, they have to put a substantial commitment into airfield construction and logistic support. They did so, the expansion of the En Nofilia complex demonstrates that...except that none of them were ever more than sand strips and it took about nine months to open the additional three, even as crude as they were.

No, the Germans could not improve infrastructure much faster than today, because they did not have an equivalent to the dedicated Engineer Aviation Battalion of the US Army, which was dedicated to and designed for rapid airfield construction. Germany relied too much on hand-labor with limited mechanized means of airfield construction.
I read this argument quite often, but in my opinion, it is only half-truth. The Germans could, and indeed did enlarge and equipped airfields for example in Iraq, in the matter of days. With local (British) equipment and civilian contractors, because they had nothing on the spot. In my opinion the problem was that Italy did not build enough airfields in Lybia nor did they stockpile resources and machines to build them in time of war.

If they'd have an equivalent of an Engineer Aviation Battalion, what could it do operating under the same lack of resources and same lack of integrated doctrine?

I seriously doubt that the problem was organizational in nature. More like the lack of preparations and shipping capacities (which were Italian anyway) were decisive. The British have started planning and preparations over a year before the Italians even jumped into the war.

The Germans were in Iraq for what 14 days operating 20 odd aircraft, based at existing airfield at Mosul. You think they really enlarged that airfield in that time? It sounds pretty dubious,

The force rapidly degraded to near uselessness, It was virtually inoperable after two weeks,
I don't think it, I know it, Bernd Philipp Schröder wrote an excellent book about the topic, going through most of the available German documents at the time, it's called Irak 1941, p. 111 is relevant for the enlargement of the airfield, which was made ready for an ~overburdened (Überlaststart) Ju 90 to take off. They enlarged the airfield by 400 m in a few days time, with modern (British) equipment and crude oil injection (Rohölaufguß). Now that tells me that the Germans lacked the following items to do that in Lybia:
- a local entrepreneur
- modern British equipment and people to operate it
- crude to spray around the ground

Also his book Deutschland und der Mitttere Osten covers and partially debunks most of the myths around Germany's strategy about this region.

Btw I never said that the German mission in Iraq fielded a useful air force (it didn't), for various reasons. None of which was the lack of a proper airfield.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Peter89
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 13 May 2022 19:29

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2022 16:59
Peter89 wrote:
13 May 2022 13:42
I read this argument quite often, but in my opinion, it is only half-truth. The Germans could, and indeed did enlarge and equipped airfields for example in Iraq, in the matter of days. With local (British) equipment and civilian contractors, because they had nothing on the spot. In my opinion the problem was that Italy did not build enough airfields in Lybia nor did they stockpile resources and machines to build them in time of war.
I agree, partly. The second half of not having an equivalent to the Engineer Aviation Battalion is not having the means to rapidly lift over large distance by air, sea, or land the mass of material required to construct the fields and their infrastructure.
If they'd have an equivalent of an Engineer Aviation Battalion, what could it do operating under the same lack of resources and same lack of integrated doctrine?
Germany had an excellent and well-supported system of airfields within the Reich, but the further from the Reich the less well they were able to support it, either organizationally or materially. The result was inadequate improvisation. If you survey airfields outside Germany built up for the Luftwaffe during the war, fully-developed, paved airstrips with well-constructed base facilities were the outlier.
I seriously doubt that the problem was organizational in nature. More like the lack of preparations and shipping capacities (which were Italian anyway) were decisive. The British have started planning and preparations over a year before the Italians even jumped into the war.
Yes, but planning is part of organization. Like so much the Germans did in war, hasty improvisation took precedence over long-term organization.
Okay, I agree with what you wrote, but I still don't see how a specific unit could solve the problem on the wrong side of a contested sea. It wasn't even German authority to build proper airfields in North Africa when it was actually possible (prior to June 1940)
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Ironmachine » 13 May 2022 22:28

Counter wrote:I am aware perfectly that was an internal document, written by civil servants that had to reconcile two requests from the higher authorities: -to satisfy the demands of forcing the german people to do as less economic sacrifices as possible and -to send necessary goods to the poor Spain.
No, the civil servants had to reconcile nothing. They just had to assess the German capacity to provide the goods demanded by Spain. And their conclusion was that Germany did not have that capacity. Anything beyond that is just your wishful thinking.
Counter wrote:As you know well, Hitler didn´t want the german people to suffer the straits of living in a state of war ("total war" began only after Stalingrad). So, the civil servants were eager to show that they cared to give as little as possible to other countries. At the same time, they were requested to give something. The best way to justify themselves -not to give but to give something only if necessary for the interest of the Axis military alliance- is claiming that the demands -impossible to fulfill without probably affecting the German people standard of living- are just a pretext not to join the Axis. This way, nobody -among the higher authorities- could blame them for being prodigal.
The problem with all this reasoning of yours is that, even if true (and it's not), it really doesn't matter at all. The Germans themselves admitted that they could not provide what Spain asked for, so it didn't matter whether the Spanish demands were real needs or just a fabrication.
Counter wrote:You pretend to ignore that the foodstuff situation in Germany in 1940-1941 was not so bad -over 2300 calories/person average-, and that Spain grain demands were just 2% of german consumption. So it was possible...
The documents showed in this thread show that it was not possible, even if you reduce the problem to grain, which was in no way the only material demand made by Spain.
Counter wrote:as long as Hitler would have considered Spain joining Axis -that is, Gibraltar- being vital for winning the war. And that is the answer: Hitler was not so interested, particularly from December 1940 on, as "Barbarrosa" was already decided.
Ah, so the reason for Hitler sending the letter you linked to Franco in February 1941 urging him to enter the war was that he was not interested in Spain entering the war. Yes, that makes (no) sense.
Counter wrote:On the contrary: Franco needed inmediately the territories or, at least, to announce openly the reward. Not only Franco, not only the spanish fascists, everyone belonging to the spanish military and conservative class -Franco´s political support- was extremely interested in Spain becoming, again, an important political power in Europe, humilliating the British (Gibraltar) and the French (Morocco). But Hitler gave no guarantee, so...
Franco needed inmediately some territories as a justification for entering the war, but certainly not everything that was asked for. Unlike supplies and military equipment, the list of territories to be given to Spain could have been reduced somewhat (for example the territories in Guinea or the part of Algeria) without significant political damage for Franco.
Counter wrote:It is again extravagant to consider that Hitler would have behaved that way -"option available"- with an ally. Give me an example of Hitler doing that. Of course, Hitler was usually cruel and vengeful -he was Hitler!- as he felt betrayed by his allies -Yugoslavia, Italy, Hungary...- but claiming that he would starve Spain after promising that Germany could supply Spain of foodstuff is absurd.
Well, what is evidently absurd is to believe that Hitler, having just promised to supply grain “to as great an extent as possible," is going to be able to do something that his own economic experts believed to be impossible.
Counter wrote:
Ironmachine wrote:The Spanish authorities were not stupid, and even they could see that there was no point of obtaining some territories in Africa while your population is dying in droves because you can't replace the supplies that are not coming from the Allies because you have joined the Axis
This paragraph of yours is fascinating... According to you, Franco knew that Germany could not replace the supplies coming across the Atlantic... Knowing that, supposedly they would have never joint the Axis...
Well, they did not join the Axis, did they? Franco did not need to be very clever to see the Germans were giving only empty promises and no supplies, so nothing was going to replace the supplies coming through the Atlantic. Now, if the Germans had actually sent something... but they didn't.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 May 2022 23:35

Peter89 wrote:
13 May 2022 19:29
Okay, I agree with what you wrote, but I still don't see how a specific unit could solve the problem on the wrong side of a contested sea. It wasn't even German authority to build proper airfields in North Africa when it was actually possible (prior to June 1940)
It could not, but I don't think I said it could. Absent planning and a means of getting material to a proposed airfield site, then they were reduced to extemporizing as they did in Iraq...but I doubt that was always possible. However, even if they did plan and get the means to a location, they had no dedicated organization designed to rapidly erect a fully-functioning airfield capable of maintaining intense operations. The Western Allies did plan for that and tended to be able to rapidly build up viable airfields in a few days to weeks.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 14 May 2022 11:01

Richard Anderson wrote:
13 May 2022 23:35
Peter89 wrote:
13 May 2022 19:29
Okay, I agree with what you wrote, but I still don't see how a specific unit could solve the problem on the wrong side of a contested sea. It wasn't even German authority to build proper airfields in North Africa when it was actually possible (prior to June 1940)
It could not, but I don't think I said it could. Absent planning and a means of getting material to a proposed airfield site, then they were reduced to extemporizing as they did in Iraq...but I doubt that was always possible. However, even if they did plan and get the means to a location, they had no dedicated organization designed to rapidly erect a fully-functioning airfield capable of maintaining intense operations. The Western Allies did plan for that and tended to be able to rapidly build up viable airfields in a few days to weeks.
In this sense, I completely agree with you.

A related, but somewhat different topic: could you please explain to me, why it is written a lot in US literature that it was a huge problem for the Germans not having engineer/construction units inside the military? It does get written a lot, in aircraft MRO as well. For me it seems that the widespread employment of civilian contractors did not cause fundamental problems until the Germans didn't try to adventure into hostile and hardly accessible territories.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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MarkF617
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by MarkF617 » 14 May 2022 11:22

Glenn

[Had Germany instead responded positively to the Soviet demands rather than selecting Barbarossa, the wave was paved for a viable Axis offensive in 1941 against Egypt, and Russian offensive into Iran and perhaps Iraq]

I just lost my post so this is the quick version.

These talks were not serious. Hitler would never agree to the terms as they would make the Soviets the dominant partner.
Stalin expected the Germans to invade as soon as Britain was defeated so why would he help bring this about sooner? In 1940 there was no reason for the soviets to invade the middle east, they didn't need the resources and as there were no Germans in Africa at this time it would not be needed ss a buffer zone.
Badically there is zero reason or evidence that Stalin had plans to invade the Middle East. He was fat more concerned with Europe and the Fat East.

Thanks

Mark.
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by ljadw » 14 May 2022 12:15

And, there is no reason for the assumption that,if the Germans responded positively to the Soviet demands,Rommel's offensive against Egypt would be successful .
In the HTL it was a failure ( very soon )
Why would it be a success in the ATL ?

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by MarkF617 » 14 May 2022 12:30

Would Mussolini even let the Germans into North Africa at this point? It is pre Compass.

Thanks

Mark.
You know you're British when you drive your German car to an Irish pub for a pint of Belgian beer before having an Indian meal. When you get home you sit on your Sweedish sofa and watch American programs on your Japanese TV.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by pugsville » 14 May 2022 12:55

MarkF617 wrote:
14 May 2022 12:30
Would Mussolini even let the Germans into North Africa at this point? It is pre Compass.

Thanks

Mark.
NO they would not.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by glenn239 » 14 May 2022 14:48

MarkF617 wrote:
14 May 2022 11:22
These talks were not serious.
On the contrary. The Soviets were deadly serious.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 14 May 2022 17:55

glenn239 wrote:
14 May 2022 14:48
MarkF617 wrote:
14 May 2022 11:22
These talks were not serious.
On the contrary. The Soviets were deadly serious.
The problem with the Axis is its conflicting interests. I mean imagine an alliance in which Romania and Hungary were both members, and both countries had a sizeable, historical German minority... speaking of which, there was also Tiso's Slovakia. And not to mention the fact that these countries might superficially be interested in a German victory, but on the long term they all belonged to the German Lebensraum, and their role in that bright future might be suboptimal. Italy made a colossal blunder by entering the war, but essentially no nation followed suit.

The Soviets had exactly zero incentive to enter the war on the German side. If the British Empire collapsed, they could grab Persia/Mesopotamia (with or) without German consent, like Bucovina in 1940. Only a German victory over the British could prompt the Soviets to enter into an agreement with the Germans, but then why would the Germans need Soviet permission?

The strategic dilemma between June 1940 and June 1941 was both complicated and simple. It was complicated, because whatever the Germans choose, it would determine the course of war, but it was also simple because no rational actor in Europe was incentivized to take actions on their own. The minor nations in SE Europe sought protection from the Soviets or from each other. Ideas like Spain, the SU or others joining the Axis are just playing with slim and quite unhistoric chances.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2022 18:31

Peter89 wrote:
14 May 2022 11:01
In this sense, I completely agree with you.
Damn, and here we were having such an excellent argument. :D
A related, but somewhat different topic: could you please explain to me, why it is written a lot in US literature that it was a huge problem for the Germans not having engineer/construction units inside the military? It does get written a lot, in aircraft MRO as well. For me it seems that the widespread employment of civilian contractors did not cause fundamental problems until the Germans didn't try to adventure into hostile and hardly accessible territories.
I suspect because from the American lens they miss that OT fulfilled many of the same roles within the Reich that the US Army Corps of Engineers did within the continental US. They both did civil-military engineering, quite a bit of the USAAF base infrastructure within CONUS was contracted through the USACE and was done by civilian companies. AFAICT, some of the base construction in the UK was done by British civilian contractors working with the USACE.

The real difference, which we now seem to be in complete agreement on :D , is the German lack of a robust expeditionary military engineering capability. Todt could and did heavily supplement Luftwaffe and Heer base construction on the European continent, but that became less viable in places like Crete, Libya, and to a lesser extent Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy, which required cooperation from the Italians until September 1943. ISTR the Germans did try to hire civilian labor in Libya, but with indifferent results, especially given the Italian track record as a colonial overseer. Like most everything else regarding labor in the Reich, it was eventually a problem "solved" through forced labor, but that was a very inefficient way of completing large-scale engineering tasks like building air bases. Yes, the Americans had some of the same experience in China and did depend to some extent on masses of contracted Chinese hand laborers, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 14 May 2022 20:30

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 May 2022 18:31
Peter89 wrote:
14 May 2022 11:01
In this sense, I completely agree with you.
Damn, and here we were having such an excellent argument. :D
A related, but somewhat different topic: could you please explain to me, why it is written a lot in US literature that it was a huge problem for the Germans not having engineer/construction units inside the military? It does get written a lot, in aircraft MRO as well. For me it seems that the widespread employment of civilian contractors did not cause fundamental problems until the Germans didn't try to adventure into hostile and hardly accessible territories.
I suspect because from the American lens they miss that OT fulfilled many of the same roles within the Reich that the US Army Corps of Engineers did within the continental US. They both did civil-military engineering, quite a bit of the USAAF base infrastructure within CONUS was contracted through the USACE and was done by civilian companies. AFAICT, some of the base construction in the UK was done by British civilian contractors working with the USACE.

The real difference, which we now seem to be in complete agreement on :D , is the German lack of a robust expeditionary military engineering capability. Todt could and did heavily supplement Luftwaffe and Heer base construction on the European continent, but that became less viable in places like Crete, Libya, and to a lesser extent Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy, which required cooperation from the Italians until September 1943. ISTR the Germans did try to hire civilian labor in Libya, but with indifferent results, especially given the Italian track record as a colonial overseer. Like most everything else regarding labor in the Reich, it was eventually a problem "solved" through forced labor, but that was a very inefficient way of completing large-scale engineering tasks like building air bases. Yes, the Americans had some of the same experience in China and did depend to some extent on masses of contracted Chinese hand laborers, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
Yes, well, we might find some disagreement after all! :milwink:

The Germans built infrastructure with remarkable speed when two things were present; resources and local contractors. For example, in the preparation phase for the Balkans campaign they could pull it off as well. I rather think that the MTO, and especially Italian North Africa was a hopeless situation. Not that they lacked the capability per se... rather that they lacked the capability on the wrong side of the sea.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2022 21:29

Peter89 wrote:
14 May 2022 20:30
The Germans built infrastructure with remarkable speed when two things were present; resources and local contractors. For example, in the preparation phase for the Balkans campaign they could pull it off as well. I rather think that the MTO, and especially Italian North Africa was a hopeless situation. Not that they lacked the capability per se... rather that they lacked the capability on the wrong side of the sea.
Very true, and the Americans similarly lacked the capability - resources and local contractors - on the wrong side of the sea. However, they created an expeditionary military structure robust enough to make up for that. Not that that did not have its own pitfalls, Army Services Forces grew by leaps and bounds in its service support and combat support role, which enabled the Army Air Force to undertake prodigious base building worldwide, but they also consumed many personnel who might have been better used in a combat role. Whereas General McNair was continually trying to "cut the fat" in Army Ground Forces to make the most out of inadequate personnel means, there was never any such incentive with General Somervell in Army Service Forces.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 14 May 2022 21:42

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 May 2022 21:29
Peter89 wrote:
14 May 2022 20:30
The Germans built infrastructure with remarkable speed when two things were present; resources and local contractors. For example, in the preparation phase for the Balkans campaign they could pull it off as well. I rather think that the MTO, and especially Italian North Africa was a hopeless situation. Not that they lacked the capability per se... rather that they lacked the capability on the wrong side of the sea.
Very true, and the Americans similarly lacked the capability - resources and local contractors - on the wrong side of the sea. However, they created an expeditionary military structure robust enough to make up for that. Not that that did not have its own pitfalls, Army Services Forces grew by leaps and bounds in its service support and combat support role, which enabled the Army Air Force to undertake prodigious base building worldwide, but they also consumed many personnel who might have been better used in a combat role. Whereas General McNair was continually trying to "cut the fat" in Army Ground Forces to make the most out of inadequate personnel means, there was never any such incentive with General Somervell in Army Service Forces.
Yeah, but American military is predominantly expeditionary by nature. So thinking about and planning an expeditionary military structure with constructing capabilities was the natural way of thinking there, while I'd love to see the face of Udet or Göring when we presented him this thread with the brilliant idea of placing 1000 aircraft in the desert.

In 1938. :D
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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