Stalingrad

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Qvist
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Qvist » 12 Mar 2009 09:29

The numbers stated by Qvist doesn't seem to be enough to do the job.
Certainly. As we now know, it wasn't. :)
I've heard 3 million german troops & 1 million from countries allied with them? If I remember correctly wasn't the front divided into 3 army groups?
3 Army groups - Nord, Mitte and Süd. the German strength depends on whether you want to include the sizeable OKH reserve in the figure from the outset, or as the divisions in it were released. In all likelihood, the actual German strength in the fighting armies at any given point did not much exceed 2.7-2.8 million. But it is surprisingly difficult to ascertain this with certainty. 1 million allied troops sound distinctly on the high side to me. Also, it would be very dependent on point in time.

cheers

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Zebedee
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Zebedee » 12 Mar 2009 14:11

Qvist, what are the most likely figures for the number of 'Hiwis' at the start of Blue? Is there a reliable source which covers them? I'm having terrible difficulty in trying to pin down numbers about them.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 12 Mar 2009 15:01

According to Veit Scherzer's unit history of 113.ID 6.Armee reported in Mid November 1942 an "Ist" of 51,780 Hiwis, the 113th itself reported to have 5,564 :wink:

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Zebedee
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Zebedee » 12 Mar 2009 15:13

Thanks Jan-Hendrik. The c.50 000 figure for Blue often given only seems to cover Sixth Army then? Are there any figures for eg. AGS?

The figures for the 113th are truly astonishing for a unit raised only the previous year! Was this related to the detachment from it sent to North Africa needing to be replaced?

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Qvist
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Qvist » 12 Mar 2009 20:41

Thansk Jan Hendrik, that is very interesting.

To start at the beginning - on 10 July, 6th Army reported 12,810 Kriegsgefangene. It's always difficult to judge if this refers to Hiwi - sometimes it includes both POWs used as Hiwis and POWs who are otherwise employed or just held, sometimes Hiwis aren't included it seems and at other times they are included in the Heer figure.

I have also seen sources that gives very high numbers of Hiwis in the 6th Army in late fall, but not as high as 50,000. For instance, there is an 18 October Verpflegungsstärke report which gives a total of 28,594 Hiwis in the Divisions. However, it is quite likely that there were also many Hiwis outside the divisional framework, so the figures are not neccessarily in contradiction. An early September Besprechung concerning 389. and 295.ID gives interesting detail on the use of Hiwis and the general state of the divisions. 389.ID had a comparatively large number of Hiwis – 1,950 altogether. 1,120 of these were with one of the three regiments or other divisional combat units, used in the Trossen or as Munition carriers. As such, the division had only had positive experiences with them. Ths Iststärke of the division was dramatically reduced – it had no more than 7,428 men (Iststärke), giving it a monstrous Fehl of 8,948. Only one in four soldiers in the division was a combat soldier.

The army reported however reported only 19,000 Hiwis on 22 December.

In sum, this leaves many unanswered questions. One of them is why did the army have such a very high number of Hiwis in October/November? It is quite clear that the figures we are talking about here are way beyond normal levels. HiWi strength usually varied enormously from division to division also within the same army (which was also the case in 6th Army), but a division was fortunate if it had more than 1,000. The normal shortfalls (which become apparent when all the armies started reporting Hiwi Fehl around the turn of the year 42/43) were much, much worse for Hiwis than for German personnell - if not in absolute figures, then certainly relative to Soll. It is tempting to wonder if the army recruited on a masive scale out of desperation, in order to cover the very high losses during the summer, for which replacements were completely inadequate. This is not often commented on, but there is no doubt that the extremely high losses in July and August caused most of the Divisions to be very depleted by the time they entered the fighting for the city itself. The average infantry strength on 18 October was 2,512 men. There were divisions who reported roughly such levels already in mid-september (71., 295., 389.). The divisions lost - on average - 3,000 men in July and August and another 1650 in September. This was way beyond what the replacement system had any chance of coping with.

So, did this cause them to recruit Hiwis more widely and liberally than was normal practice? They certainly had the opportunity to do so, given the large number of prisoners they took. But even so, they must in this case have disregarded normal recruitment practices, which stressed careful selection and preparatory training. This may again be one possible explanation for the low December figure - if they recruited in this way, it also would not be too surprising if they were plagued by high rates of desertion subsequently. But it is also a clear possibility that the reported December figure is simply inaccurate.

anyway, I think it is extremely unlikely that the army had anywhere near such high Hiwi figures at the beginning of Blau. the October/November levels are very much an anomaly - possibly even unique.

cheers

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Zebedee
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Zebedee » 12 Mar 2009 23:43

As ever, deeply in your debt. Huge thanks Jan Hendrik and Qvist.

The Hiwi figures are just so difficult to reconcile I truly appreciate that explanation Qvist.

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Qvist
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Qvist » 13 Mar 2009 09:28

My pleasure. Hiwi strength is unfortunately generally a very difficult subject, especially in 1941/42, since it was recorded in a rather haphazard way for the most part. It got better froom 43 out, but there too the information is occasional.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by randwick » 13 Mar 2009 22:44

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On the taking of Stalingrad , this was not seen as a major objective initially , more of a flank anchoring for the whole Caucasus drive ,the Volga from Voronezh to Stalingrad was to be the winter line , thinking about going as far as Astrakhan was quite uncertain it seems to have been taken for granted the place would fall without much effort

in it's own right cutting the vital artery of the Volga which was where oil , grain and various other needed resources flowed
was a worthy enterprise , destroying the tank factories was good too , Stalingrad was also a rail communication node for the whole south , in fact pretty much the only one , there was only one other rail link , it would be overloaded and within easy bomber range .
the initial plan was allocating 6th and 4th panzer army to seize the city , but Hitler diverted the 4th toward Rostov to help the crossing of the lower Don ,

in fact , it was not needed and roads were crowded with vehicle burning precious petrol , this created one of the biggest traffic jam of the whole war ,delayed the taking of Stalingrad while fuel supplies were brought up

if the original advance axis had been stuck to , the Germans would probably have taken the town by storm in mid august
the defense was still pretty shaky .

very quickly the Germans realized there was a major Russian effort to defend the city , it didn't make much military sense but they believed it was because of the name of the place and it's association with Stalin great victory there during the civil war
he had successfully defended the city , and ensured the food supply for the starving population of Moscow and petrograd
Hitler knew about the red banner surprise counter-attack and warned his generals about this ,
in his mind Stalingrad was a magnet where the few remaining soviet forces would be destroyed as they were thrown in the furnace , something like Von Falkenhein meat-grinder of Verdun ,
the soviet army would be bled white forced to defend a place where the technical advantage was to the Germans , this seemed to be the case for the soviets were sending part of units into battle ,
on the front lines the soviets forces were a jumble of units made of the survivors from past fighting
the prisonners and shoulder patches of the dead came from plenty of units , this lead the German intelligence to believe the whole of the units had been committed then destroyed ,

In fact Stalin was very careful not to commit his newly raised forces to the city ,
at all times only what was absolutely needed to hold was send there ,
either across the river or on the immediate flanks ,
the decision to go for a large encirclement had been taken in september
raising , equipping , training and deploying the several armies needed would take time , the operation could only take place after the river froze , so Stalingrad had to hold to keep the Germans hypnotized .
the defenders worst time would be when the Volga would carry ice ,a critical moment when all resupply would have to stop
while the Germans launched the massive assaults of October November , breaking the front in several places , and pushing the soviets to the very river bank , it was coffin corner ,the commander , Chiukov reckoned they were done for

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by captain_wright » 15 Mar 2009 05:04

After reading the last post by randwick all I have say is this: The only thing wrong with the German plan was, they got bogged down fighting in a ruined city, heck, their whole invasion plan wasn't going to work, all the Russiansreally had to do was stay out of reach in the open areas and let the Germans stretch their supply lines and in the cities that the Germans did manage to take the Russians could get in so close that the Germans couldn't bring all of their arms to bear. The Russians could play the numbers game and the Germans couldn't. In other words, there was to much Russia and not enough German!

James

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by randwick » 15 Mar 2009 13:36

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Very true , but the fact is that the main game was the oil fields , Hitler said so and Stalin knew his very words a couple of weeks latter ( I'm not sure how ? )
Stalin had worked in Baku and all over the Caucasus oil fields ,as an agitator from 1903 to 1905 .
he even made the joke he was working for the Rothschilds , in fact he was the main organizer of a series of strikes and industrial blackmails , during the 1905 he had commanded red fighting battalions , he knew everything there was to know about oil there including the rather fluid political allegiance of the various ethnic groups and the vital importance of oil in his fighting the war .the lose of the oil would have been a dreadful outcome

He send a special envoy to the region with wide powers and very clear instruction
" you must keep the oilfields producing for us but not let them fall into Germans hands intact , if you destroy them and the Germans do not take them , you will be shot , if the German take them undamaged , you will be shot , is it clear ? use your head and get whatever you need from Budienny ( the front commander and a trusted old friend of Stalin)

The German launched a special operation commando raid into Maikop , with false NKVD officers and locals collaborators as guides, they took the city but the wells and pumps had been thoroughly sabotaged just before , the Germans didn't take Grozny , who kept producing
The special envoy wasn't shot , he was decorated and promoted
the truth is there was no way von Kleist could take the Caucasus once the defense was up ,he didn't even got close to Vladikavkaz ( the name means "master of the Caucasus" ) neither could the German do much along the Black sea coast after taking novorossisk , taking Baku was an unreachable dream

the Georgians , Armenians and Ossetians were solid on the USSR side while the Chechens and Ingush collaborated wholeheartedly with the Germans ,
as could be expected the full cold vengeance of Stalin crushed those two people soon after .

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RE: Verdun On The Volga.

Post by Robert Rojas » 18 Mar 2009 08:39

Greetings to both brother Captain Wright and the community as a whole. Well C.W. (or James if you so prefer), in light of your angst as expressed within your installment of Sunday - March 08, 2009 - 5:56pm, old Uncle Bob would like to recommend the following work of literature for your perusal. The literary work in question is entitled as ENEMY AT THE GATES: The Battle For Stalingrad. The work's author is William Craig and the publisher is the Reader's Digest Press of E.P. Dutton and Company, Incorporated in New York City. The publishing year is 1973. From my anecdotal perspective on such matters, I believe Mr. Craig's literary work will broach a number of your pointed tactical and strategic inquiries without going into a dry clinical treatise on the subject. Given the complexity of the topic, ENEMY AT THE GATES is a very easy read. ENJOY! Well, that's my initial two pfennigs or kopecks worth on this extremely well worn topic of interest - for now anyway. In anycase, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in the Volunteer State of Tennessee.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :) :wink: 8-)

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by crh19792000 » 24 Mar 2009 02:16

The original plan had really nothing to do with taking Stalingrad. In fact there was nothing strategically important about the city other than eliminating it's war industries through strategic bombing. I have studied and read numerous books on the Eastern Front, and I can tell you that the plan was ruined by Hitler and Hitler alone. So let me explain the overall plan called Case Blue.

Let me start by saying that Stalin believed the German attack would come against Moscow; therefore, he deployed most of the Red Army in and around Moscow. This deployment left the southern front of Russia exposed, so Hitler decided to strike there. Not a bad idea in my estimate. Anyway the plan called for a strike on the city of Voronezh by the 4th Panzer Army. Next, the 4th Panzer Army would move all along the Don River with the Sixth Army moving along it's right flank. Both of these Armies would head towards Stalingrad and establish a position on the Volga River. Capturing the city of Stalingrad was not a priority. Once the German secured their position on the Volga River, the Germans would block the Russians at Stalingrad with an army assuming the Russians are still holding Stalingrad, and then concentrate the rest of their forces south to capture the oil fields of Grozny and Baku. Also the Germans would slide down the Volga River securing Astrakhan which was outlined to be the bottom border of German conquest into Russia. The other city was Archangel. Together both of these cities form the A-A line which was to be the eastern border of the Third Reich. This entire plan was created by the German High Command along with Hitler. In fact, Hitler never even mentioned Stalingrad as a primary target during the planning stages.

So how did Hitler mess this up? Well the 4th Panzer Army took Voronezh in July 1942, and then moved down the Volga River as planned. The Russians thanks to Stalin were caught out of position. The 4th Panzer Army along with the Sixth Army was moving towards Stalingrad when Hitler decides to interfere. Hitler orders the 4th Panzer Army to move south and help the 1st Panzer Army in it's advance into the Caucasus. This caused a major traffic jam that delayed the German advance for a week or two and caused massive logistical problems. Paul Ludwig von Kleist the commander of the 1st Army said after the war that he did not need any help from the 4th Army, and that if Hitler had not diverted the 4th Army from it's original goal, Stalingrad would have been taken in July 1942, but when Hitler finally ordered the 4th Army back to it's original target (Stalingrad/Volga River), the Red Army had already deployed enough troops to defend the city. Hitler makes yet another change to the plan instead of focusing on taking the oil fields, Hitler decides to take the Oil fields and take Stalingrad. The German generals were shocked. Three armies are committed to taking Stalingrad and only two are allocated towards taking the oil fields. By doing this, Hitler spread his forces to thin, and did not have enough troops to cover the flanks of the Sixth Army. General Halder the chief of the Army Staff warned Hitler during the battle that the flanks were exposed. Hitler got mad and fired Halder, and about a month later the German flanks were overrun and the Sixth Army along with parts of the 4th Army were encircled and ultimetly defeated.

The biggest thing I can never understand is why Hitler decided to commit his forces to Stalingrad. There was no value at all in capturing the city. The Germans had already established their position on the Volga River and had succeeded in destroying the Industrial output of Stalingrad with air raids. Hitler himself said that he never wanted his army to be bogged down in deadly street fighting, but he did just that at Stalingrad. Stalingrad should have never happened. It was never a primary objective during the planning stages and held no strategic value in securing the oil fields. Would the Germans have succeeded in taking the oil fields? I think so, but then again we will never know.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by randwick » 24 Mar 2009 07:38

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crh19792000 , I basically agree to your opinion ,with a few reservations

Taking Stalingrad in July would have been a bit of a stretch but the first part of August was definitely on

Where do you find three armies for Stalingrad , there was the Romanians on the left flank guarding the Volga banks
and about half of 4th panzer was guarding the front on the right .

Stalin believed , rightly , that loosing Moscow would be the worst outcome of the German summer campaign ,
the finding of the " case blue " plans in a plane crash ,he disregarded as a intel intoxication ,
the rail network also was dense around Moscow but poor in the south , it would be easier to move the new divisions down that the reverse
Voronezh as a first objective could have been used as the initial break for an envelopment of Moscow from the south ,
a pretty good option that would create urgent problems ,
in fact the Germans took the bridge across and most of the town ,then stood there doing nothing
Until then no absolute certainty could be obtained as to the German real direction .
As soon as the southern move was obvious reinforcements started to pour to the newly created front ,
The city was to be defended ,
Once fighting started in early September , the Germans made massive gains ,
only a thin strip of territory stretched along the bank held up ,this was militarily indefensible
it was natural to maintain the pressure to try to get the whole place , the sixth army could do it and put Stalingrad name on its flags battle honors .

Then it got ugly ,advancing was costly and the Sixth needed front line reinforcements ,
special request went for pioneers battalions and demolitions teams ,the quantities of ammunition needed were staggering ,
the taking of the city became an intermittent affair with a final general assault being prepared for mid October
German intel was certain that the Soviets were fighting at a great disadvantage and that keeping the pressure would result in the exhaustion of the Soviet reserves ,
They though this should prevent the Soviets from launching a big winter offensive .
Paulus meanwhile was pressured in taking the city for propaganda reasons ,
the net results was that the Sixth was totally focused on clearing the banks of its last defenders
while the Rumanians and Von Richthofen commander of the air army kept warning of something big in the offing .


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Qvist
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Qvist » 24 Mar 2009 09:30

The city was to be defended ,
Once fighting started in early September , the Germans made massive gains ,
only a thin strip of territory stretched along the bank held up ,this was militarily indefensible
it was natural to maintain the pressure to try to get the whole place , the sixth army could do it and put Stalingrad name on its flags battle honors .

Then it got ugly ,advancing was costly and the Sixth needed front line reinforcements ,
6th Army badly needed frontline reinforcements before they even reached the city. They suffered very heavily indeed during the advance to Stalingrad.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by randwick » 24 Mar 2009 13:08

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There was supposed to be a shortage of recruits over wastage since june 41 ,
the armies of the east were supposed to be at some division sized shortage
if it was so , the bureaucratic staff would have allocated scarcity
and the Sixth army would have been short even before the start of case blue
I believe they had to break a rather pointless and quite disastrous Soviet offensive
just before

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