German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

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stg 44
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German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by stg 44 » 02 Sep 2015 18:13

Germany scored stunning victories in 1941-42 that took them to the gates of Leningrad and Moscow and then the banks of the Volga and into the Caucasus. However they ended up over extending themselves and got the hell beat out of them multiple times in 1941 and then suffered crippling losses in 1942-43 at Stalingrad. Was their defeat in the East then a function of their victories and being checked further west might have prevented their defeat, as least nearly as quickly as it historically happened? The first major issue happened East of Smolensk which David Glantz highlights in 'Barbarossa Derailed', showing that the Germans suffered over 100k casualties just to AG-Center during 3 major Soviet counteroffensives when they were at the end of their supply lines; the same thing then happened around Moscow when disaster was narrowly avoided due to Soviet exhaustion. Over the winter they ended up suffering equal losses to the entire period from June-November 1941. The Stalingrad happens and destroyed a number of German and Axis ally armies, fatally weakening German lines in the East and enabling the Soviet victories from 1943 to the end of the war. That too was a function not just of occupying too much space with too few men, but also a logistical one, as the further they advanced the less able they were to supply their forces. Then it opened up partisan activities in the vast unoccupied hinterland that enabled the Soviets to further interdict German supply lines, depriving the front of sufficient supplies during the 1941-42 period. So it seems to me that German defeat as quickly as it happened was the result of pushing too far into the USSR and being defeated by their overextension. Had they not gotten as far in 1941-42 would they have then been able to hold out longer and keep the Soviets further East?

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by steverodgers801 » 02 Sep 2015 21:07

Not going farther would have left valuable factories and resources in Soviet hands. The Germans knew from their gaming that they couldn't actually defeat the Soviets so they just decided that the Soviets would simply disappear after the defeat of the first echelon armies.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by stg 44 » 02 Sep 2015 21:34

steverodgers801 wrote:Not going farther would have left valuable factories and resources in Soviet hands. The Germans knew from their gaming that they couldn't actually defeat the Soviets so they just decided that the Soviets would simply disappear after the defeat of the first echelon armies.
That's the question, was leaving the Soviets more industry worth cutting off their advances sooner in 1941-42?

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by pintere » 03 Sep 2015 14:50

While the Germans certainly overextended themselves, the more important cities they left in Russian hands the more likely it was that the Russians could bounce back and force them into a longer war.

I think the biggest problem was a lack of clear objectives and goals. Barbarossa eventually descended into a series of unrelated offensives, none of which alone gave the Germans the decisive advantage. We see this in the massive German internal debates as to whether they should drive straight for Moscow or concentrate forces south and north. This phenomena repeated itself during Fall Blau, where the Germans never figured out which axis of advance should be their main one. The result was a series of opportunist advances that didn't translate into strategic results. What they should have done was outlined clear attack objectives from the start and stuck with them, to the point where they controlled enough territory to force a surrender.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Cult Icon » 03 Sep 2015 16:03

There are many reasons that combined, caused the exponential drop in tactical and operational performance (42 vs 43). From both the Soviet and the Axis end. Buffering this is the reality that the Axis was not strong enough to defeat the soviets.

I doubt that "shorter supply lines" alone (which would benefit the soviets as well in their own way) would stop the german retreat, provided that the other factors stay the same.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by stg 44 » 03 Sep 2015 17:22

Cult Icon wrote:There are many reasons that combined, caused the exponential drop in tactical and operational performance (42 vs 43). From both the Soviet and the Axis end. Buffering this is the reality that the Axis was not strong enough to defeat the soviets.

I doubt that "shorter supply lines" alone (which would benefit the soviets as well in their own way) would stop the german retreat, provided that the other factors stay the same.
I don't follow exactly how shorter German supply lines help the Soviets, as it means longer supply lines for them and stronger Germans. I assume though you mean because it leaves more industry/land in their control which they can use.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by steverodgers801 » 03 Sep 2015 19:02

Because the Soviets began to receive more allied aid in 1943, they had the mobility needed to over come German defenses. Imagine if Donets basin with all its coal and ore was available to the Soviets.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Appleknocker27 » 08 Sep 2015 13:42

stg 44 wrote:Germany scored stunning victories in 1941-42 that took them to the gates of Leningrad and Moscow and then the banks of the Volga and into the Caucasus. However they ended up over extending themselves and got the hell beat out of them multiple times in 1941 and then suffered crippling losses in 1942-43 at Stalingrad. Was their defeat in the East then a function of their victories and being checked further west might have prevented their defeat, as least nearly as quickly as it historically happened? -snip-
I think your on the right path here and the Germans called it "victory disease".

The German Army had issues in both world wars with recognizing when their strategic and operational level offensive actions had reached logical culmination points and often over extended themselves. Barbarossa (Typhoon) and Blau are obvious examples and without a doubt sped up the Axis defeat in the East.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by steverodgers801 » 08 Sep 2015 22:23

It was not victory disease, it was desperation. Its like a gambler who doesn't win the big Jackpot so he keeps trying

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Carney » 14 Sep 2015 04:40

It's hard to say that rapid advancement was the problem, when the Germans had WANTED to advance rapidly, and in fact had built their entire plan around advancing rapidly. What proved their undoing was not advancing too fast but advancing too slowly. They did not reach Moscow before the winter did its damage to their men and equipment, and thus did not manage to knock Russia out in a single devastating campaign. If they had managed to get there sooner, seize Moscow and especially to kill or capture Stalin, I think partisans and logistics would have faded to being mere nuisances of mopping up and establishing and entrenching the new empire that had been carved out, an empire that would only have been existentially threatened by external (UK, USA) factors rather than continued internal resistance.

So why were they too slow? I think the biggest problem was incorrect assumptions including:

1. Greatly under-estimating the numbers of men and materiel available to the Soviets, both at the time of invasion and later as a result of full mobilization. The Germans expected to punch through the Soviet forces massed at the border and after having surrounded, cut off, and wiped them out, have smooth sailing henceforth with little or nothing left further in, but were unpleasantly surprised to encounter more layers and masses of defenders. This happened more than once. Even later on as and after the tide turned, realistic estimates of the truly massive Soviet production were dismissed as fantastic alarmism, especially by Hitler.

2. Greatly under-estimating the stability and resilience of the Soviet leadership system, including the willingness and ability of the state to appeal to Russian ethnic nationalism rather than Marxist ideology to motivate resistance, the ability of Stalin and his loyalists to avoid being toppled or even challenged as a result of the massive failure of policy represented by the effectiveness of the German attack, and the ability of the military to rebuild and promote the talented, loyal, and energetic even after the purges and then under the extreme pressure of invasion.

3. Greatly under-estimating the morale and fighting spirit of the ordinary Soviet soldier. While great masses did surrender as expected, right from the start the Germans were sobered and hindered by stubborn and even fanatical resistance they come across, even when there were no officers (and especially no commissars or political officers) to goad, lash, or terrorize the troops into fighting.

4. Greatly over-estimating the completeness of the Soviet road network and its compatibility with German vehicles designed for paved asphalt or nice compact soil. Nice neat roads on maps turned out not to be roads as understood in Germany and Western Europe, but instead were mere gravel, dirt, even mere ruts in the steppe, turning into muddy morasses in the rainy season. Which flows into the next intelligence failure: failing to understand the importance of the rainy season.

Along with that there was the vacillation of Hitler on the crucial issue of whether to drive straight for Moscow for a traditional political / military victory, or to put a higher priority on securing the granaries, mines, and factories of Ukraine as well as to exploit opportunities to seize important cities and cut off large Soviet forces in Ukraine. While Hitler and his generals wrangled for literally weeks, an enormous traffic jam on the wretched Soviet roads built up, wasting precious time.

Finally, at an even more macro level, the strategic decision to invade Russia as a way of obtaining resources and defeating the British blockade was questionable.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by nota » 15 Sep 2015 22:09

I think most of the fanatical resistance was after the german's killing the POW's became known
so it was a fatalistic response to the death corrals
IF the POW's had been treated decently as potential allied forces and USED as such
the nazi's may have had a chance
but that requires nazi's NOT acting like nazi's

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by steverodgers801 » 15 Sep 2015 23:36

IT was the generals them selves that foresaw the need to move south and north during the planning for Barbarossa. The gaming predicted the flanks of AGC would be exposed. The stop was also planned because the logistics demanded it.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Alixanther » 16 Sep 2015 11:18

Carney wrote:It's hard to say that rapid advancement was the problem, when the Germans had WANTED to advance rapidly, and in fact had built their entire plan around advancing rapidly. What proved their undoing was not advancing too fast but advancing too slowly. They did not reach Moscow before the winter did its damage to their men and equipment, and thus did not manage to knock Russia out in a single devastating campaign. If they had managed to get there sooner, seize Moscow and especially to kill or capture Stalin, I think partisans and logistics would have faded to being mere nuisances of mopping up and establishing and entrenching the new empire that had been carved out, an empire that would only have been existentially threatened by external (UK, USA) factors rather than continued internal resistance.

So why were they too slow? I think the biggest problem was incorrect assumptions including:

1. Greatly under-estimating the numbers of men and materiel available to the Soviets, both at the time of invasion and later as a result of full mobilization. The Germans expected to punch through the Soviet forces massed at the border and after having surrounded, cut off, and wiped them out, have smooth sailing henceforth with little or nothing left further in, but were unpleasantly surprised to encounter more layers and masses of defenders. This happened more than once. Even later on as and after the tide turned, realistic estimates of the truly massive Soviet production were dismissed as fantastic alarmism, especially by Hitler.

2. Greatly under-estimating the stability and resilience of the Soviet leadership system, including the willingness and ability of the state to appeal to Russian ethnic nationalism rather than Marxist ideology to motivate resistance, the ability of Stalin and his loyalists to avoid being toppled or even challenged as a result of the massive failure of policy represented by the effectiveness of the German attack, and the ability of the military to rebuild and promote the talented, loyal, and energetic even after the purges and then under the extreme pressure of invasion.

3. Greatly under-estimating the morale and fighting spirit of the ordinary Soviet soldier. While great masses did surrender as expected, right from the start the Germans were sobered and hindered by stubborn and even fanatical resistance they come across, even when there were no officers (and especially no commissars or political officers) to goad, lash, or terrorize the troops into fighting.

4. Greatly over-estimating the completeness of the Soviet road network and its compatibility with German vehicles designed for paved asphalt or nice compact soil. Nice neat roads on maps turned out not to be roads as understood in Germany and Western Europe, but instead were mere gravel, dirt, even mere ruts in the steppe, turning into muddy morasses in the rainy season. Which flows into the next intelligence failure: failing to understand the importance of the rainy season.

Along with that there was the vacillation of Hitler on the crucial issue of whether to drive straight for Moscow for a traditional political / military victory, or to put a higher priority on securing the granaries, mines, and factories of Ukraine as well as to exploit opportunities to seize important cities and cut off large Soviet forces in Ukraine. While Hitler and his generals wrangled for literally weeks, an enormous traffic jam on the wretched Soviet roads built up, wasting precious time.

Finally, at an even more macro level, the strategic decision to invade Russia as a way of obtaining resources and defeating the British blockade was questionable.
1. This under-estimation was kinda vital from 2 important point of view: giving adequate morale to the troops who needed to believe they do not fight a unwinnable battle and showing dedication to the plan in order to build a military relationship with their allies.

2. This is mainly because these changes happened AFTER the German attack. They could have predicted it, but a prediction is just a prediction, not a fact. It could or could not happen.

3. The so-called fanatical resistance of the Soviet soldier is a scapegoat term for Western historians to excuse the lack of willingness of Western forces to fight a protracted battle against the Germans. Soviet troops fought bravely but not fanatically. In some context they fought out of desperation because they had no alternative. If the POW treatment had been better, they would surely prefer to surrender.
At first there were millions who preferred to stay POWs being "guarded" by a handful of German soldiers. I would not call that "fanaticism".
There has been a probing proposal from Soviet POW leadership who proposed the Heer to enlist former Soviet troops into Liberation Army units, on a significant condition: that all leadership would be Russian and all units keep their former composition, receiving arms and supplies from German sources with the goal of creating a National(ist) Russian state. After the Army refusal, slowly but surely, the POWs started to run away. The opportunity has slipped away.

4. That's the true factor why German Army could not keep the pace. Also the devastating blow from a intelligence perspective - the lack of understanding of the Eastern conflict.

Hitler vacillation is understandable - he was a politician, not a general. Most of the time he took decisions based on their political outlook, not military one. The main problem of Barbarossa campaign was its general aimless military objectives: while the three-pronged attacks might have been required to consolidate a main front line, decisions and supllies should have been allocated for the fulfillment of at least one objective, either in North, Center or South. Going for all was certain to bring none - especially when going against superior forces and having less reserves than the enemy, with only the operational offensive advantage. This should have been used to create during Barbarossa operation either:
A) cutting the Arkhangelsk supply area, in conjunction with the Finns, Leningrad being or not part of it (capturing Leningrad would have shortened supply lines for both Army Group North and Center. - going for long war aims
B) capturing Moscow and capturing 2 birds with one stone (Leningrad and Moscow) - going for morale damaging blows
C) a southwards drive in style of Fall Blue but aiming at encircling the vast troops kept by Stalin in Ukraine and deny their withdrawal. Most of the time the German encirclement failed to contain large portions of Soviet troops who were able to retreat and re-joing their main lines. Such a big operation would cut practically a half of Soviet forces and fight them piecemeal style. - going for standard destruction of the enemy military

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by doogal » 04 Nov 2015 15:22

German defeat in the east was a result of the inability of the Wehrmacht to deliver a decisive blow which fractured the soviet state. Be it either by destroying the Soviet military or separating it from central political control. In 1941 there were instances of Soviet military panic and political unreliability but the soviet military state was cushioned by vast distances a singular moral national goal, manpower industrial reources and a muddled German strategy.
The initial victories of German forces certainly created the landscape where successive tactical and operational engagements would be fought. But they did not create the circumstances of German defeat.

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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Appleknocker27 » 05 Nov 2015 20:23

Those victories in 1941 led directly to over extension and catastrophic losses that had a huge negative effect overall on Wehrmacht combat capability in 1942 and beyond. Those losses due to over extension include qualitative losses that could never be recouped in the strategic dynamic that developed after 1941, therefore an argument can indeed be made for the OP (IMHO).

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