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

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

Post by Gorque » 16 Dec 2015 18:07

KDF33 wrote:I don't think the extent of the damage the opening phase of Blau inflicted upon the Soviets is fully understood.

In July, Army Group South (and then B and A) recorded taking 400,095 prisoners, which compares quite well with the results of the previous year, given that we're talking here of a single army group. Compare with, say, July 1941, during which 701,246 prisoners were recorded captured, for the three army groups.

This success was achieved for a cost of 57,381 combat casualties, which already gives a ratio of close to 7-to-1 without even including Soviet KIA/WIA.

The extent of the damage is reflected in RKKA manpower, which fell by 776,313 men between July 1 and August 1.

Contrary to the popular image of an immediate failure, Blau actually shattered the Soviet forces facing HGS. The reason why the Soviets reconstituted their front is because Stavka reserve, by July 1, had 750,000 men on hand in 62 Infantry Divisions, 3 Cavalry Divisions and 5 Tank Corps, among assorted units. These forces were tapped during July; by 1 August there were just 23 Infantry Divisions and 2 Tank Corps left in reserve.

The Germans proved incapable to repeat the scale of their July success in August and afterwards, given the lengthening of the front and the consequent dilution of offensive power to guard the flanks; supply problems due to overextension; and the lack of a clearly-defined Schwerpunkt for the offensive.

As for the Soviets, even though they recovered balance in the ensuing months, it took them until March 1943 to regrow the RKKA to the manpower it boasted at the beginning of Blau. Simply put, the Red Army of the summer of 1942 could no longer absorb damage on a scale approaching that of 1941, which I believe suggests that a German strategy focused on attriting the Red Army, rather than capturing far-flung territorial objectives, would have substantially changed the outcome of the campaign in 1942, even the overall Soviet-German war.

Regards,

KDF


Hi KDF.

If I understand the gist of your argument correctly, instead of pushing onward to the Caucasus in order to deprive the Soviet Union of one of the sources of its oil, it would have served the Germans better to maintain their own manpower reserves by engaging in a war of maneuver.

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

Post by stg 44 » 16 Dec 2015 18:31

Cult Icon wrote:The whole summer 1942 offensive showed that the German offensive capability had declined greatly. 4.PzA and 6.A had supply difficulties throughout the battle of Stalingrad and in the Caucasus, the situation was even worse.
As a function of their success; logistically it was much more difficult to sustain an advance even further into the USSR over convert and then unconverted rail, while the length of the front had doubled from the June 1941 border. So even with the same number of troops they halved their combat power by the extension of the front line, not to mention the logistics issues. So of course their combat power declined, but not as a function of losses so much as of their success by pushing deep into the USSR and having to occupy so much territory along a lower grade of rail than at home.

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

Post by AJFFM » 16 Dec 2015 18:52

ljadw wrote:1)That the Soviets had lost 40 % of their pre-war economy does not mean that they were weaker than on 21 june 1941:it is not so that,if they had not lost these 40 %,they would have been 40 % stronger than in the OTL.
Not quite as bad as it may sound. The USSR was already industrialising the hinterland east of Moscow (before the war) and successfully moved the most important production units (especially men and equipment) there where by 1943 the USSR had returned to pre-war industrial output. Which is where lend-lease come into play. Overall lend-lease deliveries were not a huge percentage but in the critical year of 42, that lost 40% (I have doubts about this figure but that is a different story) was more than compensated by lend-lease.

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

Post by AJFFM » 16 Dec 2015 19:05

KDF33 wrote:I don't think the extent of the damage the opening phase of Blau inflicted upon the Soviets is fully understood.

In July, Army Group South (and then B and A) recorded taking 400,095 prisoners, which compares quite well with the results of the previous year, given that we're talking here of a single army group. Compare with, say, July 1941, during which 701,246 prisoners were recorded captured, for the three army groups.

This success was achieved for a cost of 57,381 combat casualties, which already gives a ratio of close to 7-to-1 without even including Soviet KIA/WIA.

The extent of the damage is reflected in RKKA manpower, which fell by 776,313 men between July 1 and August 1.

Contrary to the popular image of an immediate failure, Blau actually shattered the Soviet forces facing HGS. The reason why the Soviets reconstituted their front is because Stavka reserve, by July 1, had 750,000 men on hand in 62 Infantry Divisions, 3 Cavalry Divisions and 5 Tank Corps, among assorted units. These forces were tapped during July; by 1 August there were just 23 Infantry Divisions and 2 Tank Corps left in reserve.

The Germans proved incapable to repeat the scale of their July success in August and afterwards, given the lengthening of the front and the consequent dilution of offensive power to guard the flanks; supply problems due to overextension; and the lack of a clearly-defined Schwerpunkt for the offensive.

As for the Soviets, even though they recovered balance in the ensuing months, it took them until March 1943 to regrow the RKKA to the manpower it boasted at the beginning of Blau. Simply put, the Red Army of the summer of 1942 could no longer absorb damage on a scale approaching that of 1941, which I believe suggests that a German strategy focused on attriting the Red Army, rather than capturing far-flung territorial objectives, would have substantially changed the outcome of the campaign in 1942, even the overall Soviet-German war.

Regards,

KDF
Great points KDF. However I see something else entirely from these numbers. As Moltke Jr. said: "where are the guns! where are the standards!".

Men were captured, equipment was destroyed but unit cohesion held. Every single Army level and most Division level command in the Soviet Fronts facing AGC and then AGA and AGB withstood* the German onslaught and kept formation which was the critical part that was missing the Red army in 41. In 41 the Red Army lost an entire field army, which were bigger than those of 42, every 5 days or so leaving wide gaps filled by ad-hoc groups with little organisation. Even though the Germans actually lost more men in July 41 than July 42 in 41 once a Soviet unit was destroyed there was no possibility to replace it even if the soviet command wanted to because by the time the counteraction orders were sent the Germans already penetrated even deeper outflanking another unit that was thought to be safe, probably the unit that was supposed to save the day. This was not the case in 42 and add to that the complete cluelessness of Hitler and what the hell he wanted.

* As far as I know, I bough Glantz's books but they are so far down on my schedule I haven't gotten to read them yet.

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

Post by KDF33 » 16 Dec 2015 19:50

AJFFM wrote:Great points KDF. However I see something else entirely from these numbers. As Moltke Jr. said: "where are the guns! where are the standards!".

Men were captured, equipment was destroyed but unit cohesion held. Every single Army level and most Division level command in the Soviet Fronts facing AGC and then AGA and AGB withstood* the German onslaught and kept formation which was the critical part that was missing the Red army in 41. In 41 the Red Army lost an entire field army, which were bigger than those of 42, every 5 days or so leaving wide gaps filled by ad-hoc groups with little organisation. Even though the Germans actually lost more men in July 41 than July 42 in 41 once a Soviet unit was destroyed there was no possibility to replace it even if the soviet command wanted to because by the time the counteraction orders were sent the Germans already penetrated even deeper outflanking another unit that was thought to be safe, probably the unit that was supposed to save the day. This was not the case in 42 and add to that the complete cluelessness of Hitler and what the hell he wanted.

* As far as I know, I bough Glantz's books but they are so far down on my schedule I haven't gotten to read them yet.
Well, the Soviet records indicate otherwise. Out of the 55 Infantry Divisions in the Soviet South-Western and Southern Fronts on July 1, 20 (36%) no longer exist by August 1. The 35 remaining, obviously, are far from intact although haven't been completely wiped out. Although there were no encirclements on the scale of 1941, it's clear that Soviet survival wasn't due to the Soviets evading the onslaught, but rather because of massive force addition.

Thus, whereas the 3 Fronts facing HGS on July 1 had a total of 79 Infantry Divisions (here I include Bryansk Front, albeit admittedly some forces were facing HGM), their successor formations fielded 112 Infantry Divisions by August 1, even though 20 of the initial 79 had been destroyed wholesale. This implies a net addition of 53 Infantry Divisions. Some of those forces were simply already present in the Caucasus and came into contact with HGA as it advanced; most came from the very large Stavka reserve (750,000 men and 62 Infantry Divisions on July 1).

Regards,

KDF

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

Post by AJFFM » 16 Dec 2015 20:05

As I understand it most of the 20 divisions were disbanded due to massive losses that lead to inability to retain cohesion when injected with replacements.

What I am trying to say above is simply that the Germans lacked a strategic vision of what the hell they wanted to accomplish in 42 while the Red Army was clear about its vision and the counter-strategies to follow based on the German initiative.

Their defensive stance was a gamble, a clear breakthrough would have cost the Red Army and the USSR dearly, probably the war, but both the Soviet 42 defensive strategy and the clear lack of strategic vision on the part of the Germans worked for the USSR.

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

Post by KDF33 » 16 Dec 2015 20:33

AJFFM wrote:As I understand it most of the 20 divisions were disbanded due to massive losses that lead to inability to retain cohesion when injected with replacements.
Do you have a source on this? Because Soviet units were definitely being encircled during Blau, albeit not on a Front-wide scale, with a pocket in front of Voronezh and a second later at Millerovo.
AJFFM wrote:What I am trying to say above is simply that the Germans lacked a strategic vision of what the hell they wanted to accomplish in 42 while the Red Army was clear about its vision and the counter-strategies to follow based on the German initiative.

Their defensive stance was a gamble, a clear breakthrough would have cost the Red Army and the USSR dearly, probably the war, but both the Soviet 42 defensive strategy and the clear lack of strategic vision on the part of the Germans worked for the USSR.
Well, I would argue that German failure had little to do with Soviet strategy, but rather with the Germans' own strategic shortsightedness. Simply put, by the end of July 1942 the Soviets had committed their last significant reserves to restore cohesion to the frontline in the southern USSR. They no longer had the force generation to sustain losses on a scale comparable to 1941. Had the Germans focused on annihilating the Soviet forces facing them, say by driving northwards from Voronezh into the flank of the forces facing HGM, the Soviets would have been unable to replace their losses.

To illustrate the point with data:

On July 1, 1942, the Soviets had 5,515,000 men in the field army plus 750,000 in reserve, for a total of 6,265,000.

On September 20, 1942, the Soviets had 5,559,000 men in the field army plus 268,000 in reserve, for a total of 5,827,000, a net loss of 438,000.

The German offensive was predicated on the Soviets lacking the reserves to make good their losses after the destruction of the Fronts facing HGS. Although the Germans were wrong, given that the Soviets had amassed a significant force in the Stavka reserve, this assumption would have been correct a month later, which happens to coincide with the dilution of German offensive power by the overextension of the front, both in width and depth, and with the collapse of any coherence to the operation. In effect, the Germans dropped the ball right when it became possible to score.

Had the Germans remained focused on a more sensible operation, for instance driving north instead of south, therefore avoiding overextension and the dilution of effort, it is my contention that the Germans could deal the RKKA a decisive blow in the summer of 1942.

Regards,

KDF

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

Post by KDF33 » 16 Dec 2015 20:41

Gorque wrote:Hi KDF.

If I understand the gist of your argument correctly, instead of pushing onward to the Caucasus in order to deprive the Soviet Union of one of the sources of its oil, it would have served the Germans better to maintain their own manpower reserves by engaging in a war of maneuver.
Well, I basically agree with Alixanther: the Germans should have turned north instead of south, and Blau should never have been about the Caucasus. It should have been about attrition, and not about a quick collapse followed by a rapid pursuit to capture far-flung targets of dubious utility to the German war effort. Ironically, Blau was predicated on the Soviets not being able to make good their losses after the initial German onslaught, which begs the question: why, if the Germans thought the Soviets were at the end of their manpower reserves (which was true, albeit the Germans were off by a month), not make the goal of campaigning in 1942 the destruction of as much of the Red Army as possible?

Regards,

KDF

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

Post by Cult Icon » 16 Dec 2015 21:09

In the south they started with 1.3 million men (1 million in Bock's AGS, rest axis allies). Too weak of a strategic offensive.

The distance from their starting point to their objectives in the Caucasus was similar to the road to moscow in 41'. This had great effect on their capabilities at the tip of the spear.
stg 44 wrote: As a function of their success; logistically it was much more difficult to sustain an advance even further into the USSR over convert and then unconverted rail, while the length of the front had doubled from the June 1941 border. So even with the same number of troops they halved their combat power by the extension of the front line, not to mention the logistics issues. So of course their combat power declined, but not as a function of losses so much as of their success by pushing deep into the USSR and having to occupy so much territory along a lower grade of rail than at home.
Actually their combat forces at the Stalingrad were fought out by Nov 1942. In the Caucasus they also had serious losses.
Last edited by Cult Icon on 16 Dec 2015 21:17, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by ljadw » 16 Dec 2015 21:13

AJFFM wrote:
ljadw wrote:1)That the Soviets had lost 40 % of their pre-war economy does not mean that they were weaker than on 21 june 1941:it is not so that,if they had not lost these 40 %,they would have been 40 % stronger than in the OTL.
Not quite as bad as it may sound. The USSR was already industrialising the hinterland east of Moscow (before the war) and successfully moved the most important production units (especially men and equipment) there where by 1943 the USSR had returned to pre-war industrial output. Which is where lend-lease come into play. Overall lend-lease deliveries were not a huge percentage but in the critical year of 42, that lost 40% (I have doubts about this figure but that is a different story) was more than compensated by lend-lease.
No: the 40 % is meaningless,because it is 40 % of the PRE WAR economy,and one can not compare the prewar economy with the war economy .
It is not so that if the Soviets produced with 60 % of their prewar ecomy 100,they would produce 180 with 100 % of their préwar economy .If they made in the OTL 10 million rifle, would they make 18 million in the ATL ?

Did the Soviets produce what they could,or what they needed ?

Let's look at the tank /SP production :

1941: 6400

1942 : 24000

1943 : 24000

1944 : 28000


Would the SU in the ATL (without 40 % loss of its pre war economy) have produced more tanks, how much, and WHY ?

For the tanks,there is no difference between 1942 and 1943 ;thus the crucial importance of LL in 1942 is very questionable .
Last edited by ljadw on 16 Dec 2015 21:21, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by KDF33 » 16 Dec 2015 21:16

Cult Icon wrote:In the south they started with 1.3 million men (1 million in Bock's AGS, rest axis allies). Too weak of a strategic offensive.
Hello Cult,

Could you expand on that? Why do you believe that 1.3 million men is insufficient for a strategic offensive? AFAIK, the force correlation is much more important than the absolute number of men involved. Besides, 1.3 million men is a massive force.

Regards,

KDF

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

Post by AJFFM » 17 Dec 2015 09:55

ljadw wrote: No: the 40 % is meaningless,because it is 40 % of the PRE WAR economy,and one can not compare the prewar economy with the war economy .
It is not so that if the Soviets produced with 60 % of their prewar ecomy 100,they would produce 180 with 100 % of their préwar economy .If they made in the OTL 10 million rifle, would they make 18 million in the ATL ?
Well I think we have a broad agreement on this issue in that Industrial Production is not Industrial Capacity. A modern plant in Moscow or east of it would definitely have a higher production capacity than an old one in Kiev or Minsk because capital depreciation (especially cumulative plant outage hours) in a new plant is much less than in an old one in normal condition let alone during a war when plants would be overworked leading to more capital depreciation. This was clearly seen in Germany's case which also suffered from constant bombing.
ljadw wrote: Did the Soviets produce what they could,or what they needed ?

Let's look at the tank /SP production :

1941: 6400

1942 : 24000

1943 : 24000

1944 : 28000


Would the SU in the ATL (without 40 % loss of its pre war economy) have produced more tanks, how much, and WHY ?

For the tanks,there is no difference between 1942 and 1943 ;thus the crucial importance of LL in 1942 is very questionable .
One has to look at the month-to-month figures as well as the types of tanks produced to get a clearer picture. Nearly half the tanks produced in 42 were light tanks or old model KV-1s. Only 12k T-34s were produced compared with an average of 17k in the two years after and a good percentage of these in the 2nd half of 42 which means they only saw service very late in 42, and in a very timely manner as well.

As for the lend-lease. Most lend-lease deliveries (my source hear is Jane's WWII Tanks) were in 42 and early 43 with the last major deliveries in 44. As I understand it from the figures nearly 18% of all Soviet tanks that saw service in WWII were LL Tanks from which we can extrapolate that at critical junction of the campaign, namely all of 42, LL was much higher than 18%, probably as high as 30-35% which is not small. Remember entire Tank Corps were exclusively made up of LL tanks.

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

Post by BDV » 17 Dec 2015 16:01

ljadw wrote:
"BDV":
tl;dr germans have the option of trying to bleed off RKKA in 1942 while preparing themselves and the Auxilliaries for a decisive confrontation in 1943.


The Germans were bleeding in 1942.They lost 1.1 million men .
And the Axis had to show only Sevastopol, Bustard Hunt, and Donbass occupation as positives, with the debacles at Stalingrad and upper Don and the panicked retreat from the Caucasus as negatives for all that great expenditure of men and materiel.
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Re: German defeat in the East consequence of victories 1941-42?

Post by Gorque » 17 Dec 2015 16:44

KDF33 wrote:....Ironically, Blau was predicated on the Soviets not being able to make good their losses after the initial German onslaught, which begs the question: why, if the Germans thought the Soviets were at the end of their manpower reserves (which was true, albeit the Germans were off by a month), not make the goal of campaigning in 1942 the destruction of as much of the Red Army as possible?

Regards,

KDF
Hi KDF:

I'd opine it was a combination of arrogance and haste. Arrogance in underestimating the operational and strategic abilities of the Soviet Union and haste in wanting and needing to exploit the expected occupied territories.

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