Stalingrad

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Jan 2015 18:31

The operational delays in July-August cost 6 AOK the chance to take Stalingrad via 'coup de main'. AGS's divisions had only 80% of the mobility assets compared to the forces a year ago. These delays bought time for the Soviets to organize counterstrokes and reinforce the defenses in the Great Bend of the Don and the Stalingrad defense rings.

In the Caucasus, the delays also bought time and the Soviet defense firmed up by late August 1942.

The RKKA was also considerably tougher and better organized than in 1941, requiring more expenditure of firepower and fighting to overcome.
ChrisDR68 wrote: On a side note every account of Operation Blue I've read has stated that a lack of fuel halted German motorised units at regular intervals meaning they were unable to carry out their orders in a timely manner. If this was mainly due to logistical bottlenecks rather than a lack of oil on Germany's part then it makes even less sense to order Army Group A to advance deep into the interior of the Caucasus.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by hms2011 » 27 Jan 2015 18:49

Cult Icon wrote:The Axis allies were important to the German war effort economically, strategically, and in forces,
Obviously.
Cult Icon wrote:The allied armies contributed 400,000 troops for Plan Blau alone
While the minor axis contribution for Plan Blau was significant, it was also mainly irrelevant, since German chances of victory at that point was miniscule. Or do you disagree with that?

The Axis chance was in 1941.
Cult Icon wrote:they held less critical sectors in 1941 or helped provide manpower for encirclements.
Mainly the Romanians, Hungarians and Finns.
Cult Icon wrote:leaving Italy in the lurch would send a negative signal to other allies.
Do you believe an increased German commitment to Barbarossa would dissuade Romania, Hungary of Finland from joining Barbarossa?
Cult Icon wrote:It is not realistic that the Germany, with an extra mot. Korps
I think the forces we're talking about is larger than a single mot. Korps.

The possible success would depend on whether or not AGS would be able to encircle a portion of SW and S front in the first 2-3 weeks of the war.
Perhaps by an additional motorized thrust from Romania, as originally envisioned in the planning of Barbarossa.
Which in part depends on how slow the Soviets are to react to the threat.

The failure to seriously wound SW and S front in the opening stage of the invasion, doomed the campaign and thus the war.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by ljadw » 27 Jan 2015 20:19

hms2011 wrote:
ljadw wrote:
hms2011 wrote:Germany could not risk the loss of Italy,the results in the Balkans would be disastrous.
What the Germans couldn't risk was getting stopped short of Moscow, Leningrad and Rostov as happened historically. That ended in disaster.

While shortchanging North-Africa might result in the loss of Italy, it also might not.
It depends on a number of variables: first, the Brits must conquer Libya. Then Mussolini must fall as a result (he did survive the fall of NA historically). But what happens then?
ljadw wrote: The claim that the Germans had a reserve of divisions for Barbarossa and did not use it,is not correct .
As I mentioned in my previous post, they could have added a number of useful formations if they had realized how tough of a challenge the SU was, and reduced their commitments in secondary and tertiary theaters.
They knew it would be tough,but they also knew that a few extra divisions would not be decisive ,because the decision was in the hands of the Soviets .

In the OTL they committed 152 divisions with as aim to win the war in the east in the summer,and they failed .

Why should they succeed if in the ATL they had committed 162 divisions,172 divisions (if these extra divisions were available)? They did not fail by a short lead,they failed because the SU decided to continue the fight,and if they had committed 162/172 divisions,the SU would also have decided to continue the fight,and they still would fail .

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by ljadw » 27 Jan 2015 20:21

Cult Icon wrote:The operational delays in July-August cost 6 AOK the chance to take Stalingrad via 'coup de main'. AGS's divisions had only 80% of the mobility assets compared to the forces a year ago. These delays bought time for the Soviets to organize counterstrokes and reinforce the defenses in the Great Bend of the Don and the Stalingrad defense rings.

In the Caucasus, the delays also bought time and the Soviet defense firmed up by late August 1942.

The RKKA was also considerably tougher and better organized than in 1941, requiring more expenditure of firepower and fighting to overcome.
ChrisDR68 wrote: On a side note every account of Operation Blue I've read has stated that a lack of fuel halted German motorised units at regular intervals meaning they were unable to carry out their orders in a timely manner. If this was mainly due to logistical bottlenecks rather than a lack of oil on Germany's part then it makes even less sense to order Army Group A to advance deep into the interior of the Caucasus.
If they had taken Stalingrad, Uranus would still happen .

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Jan 2015 20:50

A 'coup de main' on Stalingrad would radically change the course of Plan Blau. They would switch main effort to the Caucasus, peel off several divisions, and probably defend the region like Voronezh, erasing bridgeheads with active defense with a solid front line. On the Soviet side, the forces they lost in defending the approach to Stalingrad and the city itself would be still around for deployment.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by hms2011 » 27 Jan 2015 21:03

ljadw wrote: because the decision was in the hands of the Soviets .
The decision was in the hands of both the Germans and the Soviets.
ljadw wrote: In the OTL they committed 152 divisions with as aim to win the war in the east in the summer,and they failed .
Why should they succeed if in the ATL they had committed 162 divisions?
Not should succeed. But could succeed.

As mentioned, the key was the border battles.
The axis needed to inflict as many casualties as possibly before the Soviets could withdraw into the deep east.
And obviously, killing a soldier on june 22 was more valuable than killing a soldier on say october 7.

While additional axis forces in AGS does not guarantee a crippling of SW and S fronts, it increases the likelihood of that happening.
Which would have severe rippleeffects throughout the rest of the campaign season.

Say they launch a second panzer thrust from Romania at the start of the campaign.
We can predict a few things with a decent amount of confidence:

(1) the soviets will lose more troops (say 50-75k) in the inital period of war (to about july 10) because Southern front would be engaged sooner, facing more German troops.
(2) the Soviets will launch heavy counterattacks as historically
(3) the two pincers will link up sometime between july 1 and july 10
(4) a number of soviet troops will be encircled when (3) happens

Whats uncertain is the number in (4).
It depends on both operational successes/failures, luck and the time it would take for the Soviets to realize that the trap is forming, and act accordingly.
The higher the number, the higher the probablility for an axis victory in the east.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by ljadw » 28 Jan 2015 07:57

The last sentence is more than questionable

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by hms2011 » 28 Jan 2015 12:11

ljadw wrote:The last sentence is more than questionable
Really?
Do you believe Germanys chance of victory decreases as the Soviet casualties (at the start of the war) goes up?
Why is that?

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by ljadw » 28 Jan 2015 15:58

It is very questionable to say : the higher the number,the higher the probability for an axis victory in the east.
Because,that's assuming that the SU could be defeated by military operations on the ground,which is not correct.

The SU could only be defeated in the early summer,not by tactical successes (the number of Soviet casualties was irrelevant) but by a dissolution of the Red Army (=everyone going home to kill the communists and the Jews) and by a coup d'état in the Kremlin (both would be interconnected).But,these 2 things were considered by the Germans to be a deus ex machina .

In plain English :Germany could only win if a miracle happened,the Germans knew it,were hoping for this miracle and were convinced that it would happen .

See : Forum Barbarossa:Beitrag 4-2001: OPerative planungen der Wehrmacht für den Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion (by Christian Gerlach): "die Hoffnung auf einen sowjetischen zusammenbruch wie auf einen deus ex machina : it will happen,because it must happen.

More Soviet casualties are not increasing the possibility of a Soviet collaps,and more soviet casualties are not depending on a stronger Ostheer .More Soviet casualties are depending on the Soviet strategy : in 1941,it was very possible for the SU to halve (or more) its casualties by adopting an other strategy .

In plain English :it is not so that,if 100 Germans means 100 Soviet casualties,200 Germans means 200 Soviet casualties .

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Alixanther » 28 Jan 2015 20:07

I think that the Germans were hoping for a "100 German, 200 Soviet casualties". :)

Why do you keep repeating it was a case of "deus ex machina"? Huge losses and atrocious conditions made Russian soldiers rebel once, against the Czar. Why wouldn't they do it twice? Especially against a regime who treated them like hell?

I'm not saying this would definitely happen, but in a nutshell that's the logic.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by hms2011 » 28 Jan 2015 20:30

ljadw wrote: Because,that's assuming that the SU could be defeated by military operations on the ground,which is not correct.
Not impossible. Just very, very hard.
ljadw wrote: more soviet casualties are not depending on a stronger Ostheer .More Soviet casualties are depending on the Soviet strategy : in 1941,it was very possible for the SU to halve (or more) its casualties by adopting an other strategy .
Two questions to this statement:

(1) Assume the Soviet strategy is the same as historically, but the invading force is half the historical size.
Are the soviet casualties the same as historically in this scenario?

(2) Assume the Soviet strategy is the same as historically, but the invading force is twice the historical size.
Are the soviet casualties the same as historically in this scenario?

Given that you claim that soviet casualties are independent of the size of the invading force, I assume you will answer 'Yes' to both questions.
Am I right? Or were you wrong when you made your claim?
ljadw wrote: The SU could only be defeated in the early summer...But,these 2 things were considered by the Germans to be a deus ex machina .
They could be defeated later on as well. But a big part of the job had to be done close to the border in the early summer.
ljadw wrote: More Soviet casualties are not increasing the possibility of a Soviet collaps
Around July 10, the Soviet had slightly less than 2million men facing the axis south of Leningrad.

Do you agree that the size of this force would probably be lower with heavier casualties in the days and weeks before?

If so, how small could this force drop before you start doubting that the soviets would prevail inn the ensuing battles around Smolensk, Leningrad and Kiev in the upcoming month?
ljadw wrote: it is not so that,if 100 Germans means 100 Soviet casualties,200 Germans means 200 Soviet casualties .
Certainly not. Loss ratios depended on a lot of factors. One of which was the ability to gain operational freedom and entrap significant protions of the opposing armies. The loss ratio tended to move in favour of the attacker when this happend, compared to cases where the defense were able to retreat in decent order. As happend in Ukraine. But which might not have happened with some more axis troops.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by ljadw » 28 Jan 2015 21:29

1)The initial strength of the Red Army was irrelevant ,initial =on 22 june or on 10 july,what was determining the outcome of the campaign was the ability of the Soviet regime to send on an average monthly 1 million men to the front in 1941,something on which Germany had no influence at all ,that's why the number of Soviet losses was irrelevant for the outcome of the war :as long as the SU could send as much or more men to the front than it was losing,the SU was winning .

2)Everything depended on the factor time : if on 1 august at last,the SU had not collapsed,Germany had lost .

3)About your 2 questions :as there is no correlation between the strength of the invading force and the Soviet losses,it is irrelevant what the strength of the invading force was : the SU lost more than 5 million men men in 1941.If the Germans attacked with 182 divisions,it is impossible to say what the Soviet losses would be : 5 million ? more ? less ?If the Germans attacked with 122 divisions,the answer is the same .

4)Whatever the German strength would be, the SU had the posibility to decrease its losses with 50 % or more by adopting an other strategy (and Germany could not prevent it):in the OTL,on 22 june,the Red Army was going west (from the Russian hinterland to the border),if in the ATL,the Red Army was going east(=retreating to Moscow),it would have saved most of its manpower,and Barbarossa would have failed already in june,and this:whatever may be the strength of the Ostheer : again : victory or defeat was in the hands of the SU.


5)"But which might not have happen with more axis troops":this is not correct : more axis troops will not go faster than less axis trops,it is even possible that 182 divisins will advance slower than 152 divisions .

6)The Germans failed in the summer ,not because there were not enough Germans,but because there were to much Soviets
Last edited by ljadw on 28 Jan 2015 21:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jan 2015 21:31

The USSR was not under threat of dissolution, even with the loss of Moscow.

The other is that the reserve situation of the USSR was far superior to that of the Axis, and most particularly the Germans. A few more assault worthy units in exchange for second rate divisions will not change anything. It takes a dozen combat ready divisions to make a reasonable encirclement with strategic effects, and the means to support them.

The Vyazma-Bryansk pockets did not seriously alter the situation. I think one would have to reject much current scholarship from the 1990s-2015 to really believe the 'could've, would've' theories. One will also have had to avoid or reject research with soviet sources.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Spacewrangler » 29 Jan 2015 18:16

A hard operation it would have been , but give me 148,000 troops and I will be damned I would find a weak encirclement point and thrust every troop into a break out in the weak link part of the encirclment while having a portion of troops fight delaying action in the front and the crack troops and armour I had punching a hole in the encirclment so the troops fighting the delaying battles could move under cover of night , link back up with the rear elements of the punch through , then either have them fight more delaying tactics the next day or move them to the middle , give them some rest and let other units fight delaying action the next day , while still pushing my army through the depth of the encirclement, until all troops left had broke out and could re link with another army group,
Hans -Valentin Hube did it and Paulus could have also, he just lacked determination, acted like a defeated general, and surrendered an entire Army without much of a fight, if Paulus refused to break out because of A.H's orders or OKH or OKW orders he was not fulfilling his duty to his men, he should have been flown out and removed from commanding the 6'th army and a General who would fight until he broke out should have been given command of the 6'th with out A.H. , the OKH or OKW not even being informed,
let a brave general punch out and breakout of the encirclment and let the general deal with a court martial or death sentence later after saving the bulk of his army, Hube was given the same order to hold ground but Manstein helped Hube giving him the him the go to move the moving defense pocket back and after that it was all on Hube's. And although he did not stand and hold his ground Hube's taught the world how to snag victory from the jaws of defeat, and Hube was never disciplined for his fighting pocket withdrawel he was decorated by A.H. Himself , and Hube's should have felt a since of pride until his unfortunate plane crash which cost him his life because he personally saved an entire army group plus 35,000 to 50,000 anti communist civilians.
And most militaries still teach Hube's pocket to their officers even oday , because it worked back then saving an army of 200,000 plus 35-50 thousand anti communist civilians. Papa Hube could have done like Paulus and given up , but by breaking out in a moving pocket of defense he proved the well thought impossible , was not impossible at all , it just took Papa Hube's guts to lead his men on a very smart and well organized retreat which caused major enemy kill rates and minimum loss of Wermacht troops, yes when he linked up with lead elements of Hauser's Waffen SS , Papa Hube's only had 45 vehicles left in his army group , but he saved 235,000 to 250,000 lives and proved no encirclment could render him or his army useless.
He kept the army on the move in his moving defensive pocket thus not letting pocket fever set in on his troops, he visited as many troops daily as he had time to afford , and he visited his troops without viewing their rank in the Wermacht he would talk to an motivate a low ranking troop the same as he would troops who held higher rank. That is why Hube's pocket is still taught in military schools today, because he proved encircled or not that he could keep fighting the enemy and keep moving his troops at the same time for the ultimate link up and relief his army needed after fighting out of a situation like that.

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Re: Was Hitler really incompetent as the Supreme Commander

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Jan 2015 20:48

Another odd Hitler decision was to launch Operation Wirbelwind in August 1942, using a large force, including 6 Pz divisions in AGC. This was a third offensive drive next to Caucasus and Stalingrad. Ultimately it was basically a mini-Citadel, and ended quick, and ended bad for them.

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