Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

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Peter89
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Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by Peter89 » 16 Dec 2018 16:52

I created this post to settle a long-term debate with our fellow member jesk, who stated that Heeresgruppe Nord und Heeresgruppe Mitte were lacking offensive plans in 1942. We all know that the major offensive operation in 1942 was ineed taking place in the South, involving mainly the Heeresgruppe Süd, and we also know that HGN and HGM were not conquering new territories. So debate is about the causes of the lack of new territorial gains in the HGN / HGM sector.

Jesk argues that the cause for this phenomenon is Adolf Hitler, as we can see in many of his posts ( viewtopic.php?p=2174743#p2174743 , viewtopic.php?f=76&t=238783&p=2173631&h ... r#p2173631 , viewtopic.php?f=76&t=237197&p=2174748&h ... r#p2174748 , viewtopic.php?f=76&t=238783&p=2173388&h ... r#p2173388 , etc.).

I argue that the cause for this phenomenon is the operational reality, because HGN & HGM were nowhere near strong enough to mount offensives in face of the very costly battles they fought to hold their lines. They did have offensive plans however, but they were unable to set them in motion.

I. Phase : The Soviets deal a serious blow to the HGM & HGN (January – February 1942)

Let me pick up the thread in HGM’s sector right after the initial phase of the Soviet winter offensive, at the beginning of the so-called Rzhev-Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation (8 January 1942 – 20 April 1942). The frontline of HGM was disrupted. Its right flank, the 2. Army and 2. Panzer Army (M. von Weichs / R. Schmidt), which was holding positions near Orel, was attached to the HGS at the beginning of 1942. North of that was the 4th Army (G. Heinrici) and the 4th Panzer Army (R. Rouff), positioned around Vyazma and Smolensk, defending the neck of the Rhzev salient. (The latter was soon to be transferred to the South for Case Blue.) The most exposed was the 9th Army (W. Model), occupying the salient itself. The northern flank became the 3rd Panzer Army (G.-H. Reinhardt), stationed near Vitebsk and Polotsk.

The Rzhev-Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation aimed to destroy the Rhzev salient and thus annihilating the 9th Army and deal a critical blow to the 4th Army. The inital Soviet attack was successful, and the situation of the 9th and 4th Armies became desperate, especially because of the 1st Guards Cavarly Corps, 33rd Army and the 4th Airborne Corps operating in their rear .

In the AGN sector the Toropets–Kholm Offensive Operation (9 January – 6 February 1942) and the Lyuban Offensive Operation (7 January 1942 – 30 April 1942) took place. This resulted the encirclement of more than 100,000 German men by the end of January.
When army-sized groups of enemies operate in your backyard and your frontline troops became encircled, the most you can do is stabilize.

I think we can conclude that in January-February 1942 it was impossible for the HGN and HGM to attack, whether Adolf Hitler wanted it, or denied it; it was just so because of the operational reality.

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II. Phase: The Germans fight back (March – May 1942)

As soon as the main forces of the attacking Western and Kalinin Fronts were brought to a halt, the AGM launched Operation Hannover, an offensive aimed to eliminate the partisans in their rear, supported by some units of the 4th Airborne Corps. The Germans annihilated the opposition with minimal losses. Later, the whole 29th Army and the better part of the 33rd Army got trapped in a cauldron. The commander of the 33rd Army, M. G. Yefremov attamepts to break out, but he did not succeed, and he shot himself in the head on 19 April. While some of them could escape to Soviet lines, the Germans annihilate the majority of these units.

You see, the HGM was soon to be deprived of the 2nd Army and the 4th Panzer Army, a huge portion of their offensive fighting strength. Case Blau required mobile units from the HGM.

After the Soviet troops became worned down by the battle of Volkhov, the AGN launched local offensives to relieve Demyansk and Kholm, which they succeed to do on 21 April and in 5 May, respectively.

I think we can conclude that despite in this period the Germans scored some important victories over the Soviets vital for their survival, they were still struggling to stabilize. The unit transfers to the South meant that in 1942 the HGM became less capable to mount offensives.

III. Phase: German summer offensive operations (June – July 1942)

Armeegruppe von Weichs, consisting HGM’s former units (2nd Army and 4th Panzer Army) is now being positioned at the northern flank of HGS and supported by the Hungarian 2nd Army. The unit scores a major victory as it moves forward to the Don, forming a cauldron with the northern flank of the 6th Army, in which ca. 4 Soviet Rifle Divisions (elements of the 21st and 40th Army) with 40,000 men gets trapped and destroyed. I cite this offensive here, because it was conducted exclusively by units which belonged to the HGM. I want to show you how much of the HGM’s offensive capabilities were redirected to HGS.

The HGM itself launches Operation Seydlitz on 2 July, encircling and completely destroying the 39th Army and the XI. Cavarly Corps in the upcoming 11 days of battle. The German frontline becomes 210 km shorter.

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Having stabilized the situation at Leningrad with the Unternehmen Raubtier and with the successful relief of Demyansk and Kholm, HGN was conducting a massive encirclement against the salient which was held by the 2nd Shock Army (A. Vlasov), and elements of the 52nd and 59th Armies at the neck. The salient was cut off already in 19 March, but the 52nd and 59th Armies restored the connection on 27 March after a costly battle. The Germans once again commenced their offensive on 22 June, systematically cutting off and annihilating the encircled troops. Andrej Vlasov, the commander of the 2nd Shock Army becomes a POW on 12 Juli (later he becomes the commander of the Russian Liberation Army).

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I think we can conclude that the Germans successfully mounted local offensive operations in this period, encircling and annihilating army-sized formations. Thus your argument about the never-attacking HGN & HGM is NOT true.

IV. Phase (August – November 1942): The German offensive plans and why they never happened

Further plans of offensives were conceived by Günther von Kluge, the commander of the HGM.
With the end of ‘Seydlitz’ (iii) on 12 July, Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ was prepared to settle into an essentially defensive role for the summer. By their elimination of the most critical dangers to the army group’s rear, ‘Hannover I’, ‘Hannover II’ and ‘Seydlitz’ (iii) had made the army group once more an almost credible threat to Moscow and, consequently, something more than a current passive bystander in the war, but nevertheless offensive action was out of the question at least until a partial reorganisation and considerable reinforcement of the formation had been completed in August. The army group’s armies at this time had three operations in the early planning stages as ‘Derfflinger’, ‘Orkan’ (i) and ‘Wirbelwind’. An evolution from the earlier ‘Brückenschlag’, ‘Derfflinger’ was to be an offensive by Generaloberst Walter Model’s 9th Army, currently under the temporary command of Generaloberst Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff-Scheel, toward Ostashkov from the area of the front to the north of Rzhev. As suggested by their names, ‘Orkan’ (i) and ‘Wirbelwind’ were related operations to be undertaken by Heinrici’s 4th Army and Schmidt’s 2nd Panzerarmee against the Sukhinichi salient. In ‘Orkan’ (i) the two armies, striking from the north and the south, were to obliterate the entire salient and carry the front forward to Belev, Kaluga and Yukhnov, while ‘Wirbelwind’ was to be a considerably less ambitious alternative to ‘Orkan’ (i) designed merely to pinch off the western one-third of the salient and establish a new front line some miles to the east of Sukhinichi. Although ‘Orkan’ (i) could have been markedly more effective than ‘Wirbelwind’, through the reopening the south-western approaches to Moscow via Yukhnov and Kaluga, in the middle of July there was almost no chance of its implementation, unless there was a sudden Soviet collapse, as Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ lacked the strength in men and matériel to undertake so large an effort.
Source: https://codenames.info/operation/wirbelwind/

But what did just happen insted? The Soviets commenced their grand offensive on 30 July, the so-called First Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation. The Germans barely held their lines at the cost of all of their reserves.

A smaller form of Operation Wirbelwind was conducted, however, because of von Kluge’s insistence. The units of the 2nd Panzer Army was soon halted after some minor gains.

After the fall of Sevastopol in 4 July, the 11th Army with its 12 divisions was freed up, and as it was to be transferred to the HGN with its heavy artillery, the army group could finally build up an assault on the city according to the Führer-Anweisung Nr 41.

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The HGN in fact planned 4 offensive operations:
- Unternehmen Nordlicht: the assault on Leningrad
- Unternehmen Schlingpflanze: enlargening the Demyansk salient
- Unternehmen Moorbrand: to eliminate the Pogostje salient
- Unternehmen Bettelstab: to capture the Bridgehead of Oranienbaum

None came to being eventually. Once again, why? Because the Soviets started their Sinyavino Offensive (August 19 – October 10, 1942). The Germans were able to hold them off until a reinforced counterattack once again cut off a huge part of the Red Army. But in the end their troops were too weak to start an offensive.

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Summary: the Germans did attack in the HGN & HGM sector in 1942 when they had the chance, and when they could finally stabilize their lines in July, despite having further plans for large scale offensives, the immense Soviet attacks depleted their ranks. We could also conclude that the lack of major offensive operations in these sectors is not Hitler’s doing; the Germans simply didn’t have enough force.

jesk
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 16 Dec 2018 17:06

Duplicate post here from another topic. You have a lot of empty thoughts. Army groups "Center" and "North" could attack.

viewtopic.php?p=2174861#p2174861

In 1942, any attack on Leningrad led to fall of the city. Cut off from the main forces Soviet armies quickly destroyed. The Germans would have shot down elementary defenders of the city. Stalingrad stayed because fresh meat was shipped along the Volga every day.
90% of the operation to seize Leningrad was carried out in 1941. The transfer of Manstein with artillery from Sevastopol is the same farce as the campaign for oil ... Very and very easily in 1942 the Germans could crush the Leningrad front and take the city.

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jesk
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 16 Dec 2018 17:30

On the plans for an attack on Leningrad in the memoirs of Warlimont.

http://b-ok.cc/book/2059431/6b3bd5

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Peter89
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by Peter89 » 16 Dec 2018 18:07

It's so touching that you believe the Germans were not the attacking type on the Eastern front.

You know what? Just drop it.

Merry Christmas.

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Stugbit
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by Stugbit » 16 Dec 2018 18:16

Very and very easily in 1942 the Germans could crush the Leningrad front and take the city.
Assaulting a big city is a very complex task. Fighting on city streets brings many kinds of difficulties for the attacker, Jesk. It`s not as easy as you think it is. Even the totally encircled Warsaw took the Germans many casualties in 39. That city never fell to the Germans, by the way. They made a peace agreement because of the civil population suffering as the siege went on.

I think the best solution for capturing Leningrad would be the Finns advancing further the Mannerheim line, so they could made the complete siege of the city that never actually happened. But the Finn leadership had already made their mind. I think it wouldn`t be easy to convince them otherwise.

jesk
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 16 Dec 2018 18:59

Peter89 wrote:
16 Dec 2018 18:07
It's so touching that you believe the Germans were not the attacking type on the Eastern front.

You know what? Just drop it.

Merry Christmas.
What was in "Barbarossa"? 3 army groups attacked. Plans for 1942 shrunk to Army Group "South". Army groups "North" and "Center" fought for survival, but this is not what the Germans need.
There is just for understanding. Remember these numbers. 1941 - 3; 1942 - 1. Another 2 struggled for survival and were close to victory. :)
Last edited by jesk on 16 Dec 2018 19:09, edited 1 time in total.

jesk
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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 16 Dec 2018 19:03

Stugbit wrote:
16 Dec 2018 18:16
Very and very easily in 1942 the Germans could crush the Leningrad front and take the city.
Assaulting a big city is a very complex task. Fighting on city streets brings many kinds of difficulties for the attacker, Jesk. It`s not as easy as you think it is. Even the totally encircled Warsaw took the Germans many casualties in 39. That city never fell to the Germans, by the way. They made a peace agreement because of the civil population suffering as the siege went on.

I think the best solution for capturing Leningrad would be the Finns advancing further the Mannerheim line, so they could made the complete siege of the city that never actually happened. But the Finn leadership had already made their mind. I think it wouldn`t be easy to convince them otherwise.
Russians have weak infantry. The attack on the surrounded city meant the rapid extermination of its defenders. Supply and so it was shaky on Lake Ladoga. In the course of the offensive was quickly reduced to zero.

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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by Stugbit » 17 Dec 2018 01:44

jesk wrote:
16 Dec 2018 19:03
Stugbit wrote:
16 Dec 2018 18:16
Very and very easily in 1942 the Germans could crush the Leningrad front and take the city.
Assaulting a big city is a very complex task. Fighting on city streets brings many kinds of difficulties for the attacker, Jesk. It`s not as easy as you think it is. Even the totally encircled Warsaw took the Germans many casualties in 39. That city never fell to the Germans, by the way. They made a peace agreement because of the civil population suffering as the siege went on.

I think the best solution for capturing Leningrad would be the Finns advancing further the Mannerheim line, so they could made the complete siege of the city that never actually happened. But the Finn leadership had already made their mind. I think it wouldn`t be easy to convince them otherwise.
Russians have weak infantry. The attack on the surrounded city meant the rapid extermination of its defenders. Supply and so it was shaky on Lake Ladoga. In the course of the offensive was quickly reduced to zero.
The soviet also had some strong infantry units. Considering that Leningrad was a major and important city, it`s certain that better troops would be placed there.

The Soviet Navy infantry, for instance, those guys were tough. They were at least equivalent to the German Landser, if not better. They managed to hold a good part of Novorossiysk and stopped the advance towards Tuapse. And since there`s a naval port next to Leningrad, it`s not unrealistic to say that there would be those Navy forces deployed also.

In the same time the Germans would be advancing just to capture another Soviet city, those troops defending would be fighting for their lives.

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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 31 Dec 2018 10:00

Stugbit wrote:
17 Dec 2018 01:44
jesk wrote:
16 Dec 2018 19:03
Stugbit wrote:
16 Dec 2018 18:16
Very and very easily in 1942 the Germans could crush the Leningrad front and take the city.
Assaulting a big city is a very complex task. Fighting on city streets brings many kinds of difficulties for the attacker, Jesk. It`s not as easy as you think it is. Even the totally encircled Warsaw took the Germans many casualties in 39. That city never fell to the Germans, by the way. They made a peace agreement because of the civil population suffering as the siege went on.

I think the best solution for capturing Leningrad would be the Finns advancing further the Mannerheim line, so they could made the complete siege of the city that never actually happened. But the Finn leadership had already made their mind. I think it wouldn`t be easy to convince them otherwise.
Russians have weak infantry. The attack on the surrounded city meant the rapid extermination of its defenders. Supply and so it was shaky on Lake Ladoga. In the course of the offensive was quickly reduced to zero.
The soviet also had some strong infantry units. Considering that Leningrad was a major and important city, it`s certain that better troops would be placed there.

The Soviet Navy infantry, for instance, those guys were tough. They were at least equivalent to the German Landser, if not better. They managed to hold a good part of Novorossiysk and stopped the advance towards Tuapse. And since there`s a naval port next to Leningrad, it`s not unrealistic to say that there would be those Navy forces deployed also.

In the same time the Germans would be advancing just to capture another Soviet city, those troops defending would be fighting for their lives.
Sense in encirclement of Leningrad. Deprivations of opportunities to receive reserves from the outside. Near Tuapse, Stalingrad a set of replenishments allowed to hold defense. In an environment it is more difficult to fight.

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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by jesk » 31 Dec 2018 18:54

About Sinyavino is more detailed. There was nothing dangerous for Germans. All attacks are repelled, all Russians are killed.

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/2-я_ударная_армия

Собственно армия так и не восстановилась: к концу августа 1942 года в армии имелись только две стрелковые дивизии, миномётный полк и два дивизиона тяжёлых гвардейских реактивных миномётов. Тем не менее, армия была введена в прорыв 8 сентября 1942 года после того, как 8-я армия исчерпала свои наступательные возможности. По введению в бой армии, ей были переподчинены 4-й и 6-й гвардейские стрелковые корпуса. По существу, силы советских войск особо не увеличились, так как подчинённые армии соединения уже участвовали в боях и понесли тяжёлые потери. Тем не менее, армии удалось уничтожить несколько опорных пунктов в районе восточнее и южнее Синявино, но на большее её не хватило. 11 сентября 1942 года в директиве командующего Волховским фронтом указывалось, что боевые действия армии «по существу ограничивались отражением контратак противника и незначительным продвижением на правом фланге 4-го гвардейского стрелкового корпуса». Уже 10 сентября 1942 года немецкое командование сочло, что наступление отражено, и части противника нанесли удар по горловине прорыва. Завязались встречные бои, последними успехами войск армии явились атаки 17 сентября 1942 года. 21 сентября 1942 года немецкие войска возобновили наступление и замкнули у Гайтолово 25 сентября 1942 года окружение, в которое попала большая часть войск армии.

Actually the army was not restored: by the end of August, 1942 in army there were only two rifle divisions, a mortar regiment and two divisions of heavy Guards jet mortars. Nevertheless, the army was entered into break on September 8, 1942 after the 8th army exhausted the offensive opportunities. On commitment to action of army, it reallotted the 4th and 6th Guards shooting cases. In essence, forces of the Soviet troops especially did not increase as the subordinated armies of connection were already involved in fights and suffered heavy losses. Nevertheless, several strong points in the area to the east of and to the south of Sinyavino were succeeded to destroy armies, but on bigger it was not enough. On September 11, 1942 it was specified in the directive of the commander of the Volkhov front that fighting of army "was in essence limited to reflection of counterattacks of the opponent and insignificant advance on the right flank of the 4th Guards rifle corps". Already on September 10, 1942 the German command considered that approach is reflected, and parts of the opponent struck blow in a break mouth. Encounter attacks were tied, the last progress of troops of army were the attacks on September 17, 1942. On September 21, 1942 the German troops resumed approach and closed at Gaytolovo on September 25, 1942 an environment to which the most part of troops of army got.

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Re: Heeresgruppe Mitte and Heeresgruppe Nord in 1942

Post by gracie4241 » 19 May 2019 16:32

I believe Wirbelwind was launched in mid August 1942 and involved 5 panzer divisions, a not inconsiderable portion of germany's armor at that time in the East

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