The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Cult Icon » 22 Jan 2020 03:34

"very little known" about Eastern Front combat: absolutely not true!

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 22 Jan 2020 11:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jan 2020 02:55

David Stahel has emphasized in interviews (online somewhere, don't remember ATM) that it's still the case that very little is actually known about Eastern Front combat. Most authors have gone off post-war memoirs for the German perspective (out of laziness) and lacked access to Soviet documents (Soviet and now Putin-ite secrecy). Ziemke's work cites mostly the Army- and Army-Group-level diaries and correspondence; there's so much more out there to dig into. We probably disagree on Stahel's overall merits. IMO he's more towards the industrious/stupid quadrant than I'd prefer (ok that's excessively mean but like portraying Kiev as the death-knell of the panzer forces when they wrecked a million Soviets a few weeks later during Typhoon...), but I take his point: most well-regarded English-language authors on the Eastern Front have only an inkling of what really happened there.
This is clearly the typical nonsense about historians suposedly only reading memoirs out of laziness :roll: . They do read a little bit more than that :lol: and there is a lot of information on the fighting on the eastern front. If Stahel thinks otherwise there must be holes in his reading as there is a wealth of documents on the fighting on the eastern front. :roll:

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by corbulo » 22 Jan 2020 15:06

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
24 Dec 2019 14:34
What stands out the most is the appalling state of the German infantry: Army Group South had 50 percent of its original infantry strength; Army Groups Center and North each 35 percent. And this was despite having received 1.1 million replacements since June 22 1941.

I couldn't find specific casualty information in this book, but Glantz in When Titans Clashed lists German casualties as 522,833 by September 28, 1941. Stahel puts total German 1941 casualties at 830,903, of which 302,595 were killed. Stahel also lists 262,524 casualties for November 26, 1941, to February 28, 1942. Retreat from Moscow (p. 138).

Looking at the dreadful state of the German army in May 1942, with the United States entering the war, and the Soviets continuing to field a massive army, and the Eastern Front more or less stabilized, it seems the war was already lost for Germany. The OstHeer was too weak to do anything offensively in more than one sector, and that would never be enough to knock out the Soviet Union. Germany's severe manpower shortage meant that it couldn't replace casualties or ever hope to get back to its June 1941 strength, and German industrial output could never match that of the Allies.

With the benefit of hindsight, it also shows the folly of Operation Barbarossa. Throwing away over half of your entire country's infantry strength in the bottomless pit of Russia was never a good idea.
Just because it didn't work, it doesn't mean it couldn't have worked.

Also not being in a position to win, doesn't mean that you're in a position to lose...

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Peter89 » 22 Jan 2020 18:19

corbulo wrote:
22 Jan 2020 15:06
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
24 Dec 2019 14:34
What stands out the most is the appalling state of the German infantry: Army Group South had 50 percent of its original infantry strength; Army Groups Center and North each 35 percent. And this was despite having received 1.1 million replacements since June 22 1941.

I couldn't find specific casualty information in this book, but Glantz in When Titans Clashed lists German casualties as 522,833 by September 28, 1941. Stahel puts total German 1941 casualties at 830,903, of which 302,595 were killed. Stahel also lists 262,524 casualties for November 26, 1941, to February 28, 1942. Retreat from Moscow (p. 138).

Looking at the dreadful state of the German army in May 1942, with the United States entering the war, and the Soviets continuing to field a massive army, and the Eastern Front more or less stabilized, it seems the war was already lost for Germany. The OstHeer was too weak to do anything offensively in more than one sector, and that would never be enough to knock out the Soviet Union. Germany's severe manpower shortage meant that it couldn't replace casualties or ever hope to get back to its June 1941 strength, and German industrial output could never match that of the Allies.

With the benefit of hindsight, it also shows the folly of Operation Barbarossa. Throwing away over half of your entire country's infantry strength in the bottomless pit of Russia was never a good idea.
Just because it didn't work, it doesn't mean it couldn't have worked.

Also not being in a position to win, doesn't mean that you're in a position to lose...
It couldn't have worked. General Georg Thomas pointed this out to Hitler. To invade a country like the SU was a stupid idea. If the Soviets simply blew up everything, the whole plan couldn't work. And there was also the Red Army...
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 22 Jan 2020 19:20

corbulo wrote:
22 Jan 2020 15:06
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
24 Dec 2019 14:34
What stands out the most is the appalling state of the German infantry: Army Group South had 50 percent of its original infantry strength; Army Groups Center and North each 35 percent. And this was despite having received 1.1 million replacements since June 22 1941.

I couldn't find specific casualty information in this book, but Glantz in When Titans Clashed lists German casualties as 522,833 by September 28, 1941. Stahel puts total German 1941 casualties at 830,903, of which 302,595 were killed. Stahel also lists 262,524 casualties for November 26, 1941, to February 28, 1942. Retreat from Moscow (p. 138).

Looking at the dreadful state of the German army in May 1942, with the United States entering the war, and the Soviets continuing to field a massive army, and the Eastern Front more or less stabilized, it seems the war was already lost for Germany. The OstHeer was too weak to do anything offensively in more than one sector, and that would never be enough to knock out the Soviet Union. Germany's severe manpower shortage meant that it couldn't replace casualties or ever hope to get back to its June 1941 strength, and German industrial output could never match that of the Allies.

With the benefit of hindsight, it also shows the folly of Operation Barbarossa. Throwing away over half of your entire country's infantry strength in the bottomless pit of Russia was never a good idea.
Just because it didn't work, it doesn't mean it couldn't have worked.

Also not being in a position to win, doesn't mean that you're in a position to lose...
For it to have worked, Germany would have needed a plan that avoided suffering over a million irreplaceable casualties. But as long as the Red Army kept fighting, which it would have, Germany would suffer casualties that it could not replace.

So I don't see how a German invasion of Russia could ever have succeeded.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jan 2020 20:52

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:So I don't see how a German invasion of Russia could ever have succeeded.
I happen to see exactly how the invasion would have worked, which I will now lay out in the following 100,000-word response:

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-
-
-
-
-
-

Okay now that you're all convinced that Germany could have won from the beginning, what about starting from 1942?
By that point it's clear even to this "Wehraboo" that Germany couldn't have won on its original terms, but suppose the following:
  • Instead of attempting two separate encirclements in summer '42 [Blau I & II], the first of which left out PzArmy 1, Ostheer uses both of AGS's panzer armies in Blau I and successfully removes another ~400k soldiers from the orbat.
  • Thereafter, PzArmy 4 goes to AGC while AGS conducts its advance to the Don. With RKKA missing 400k men, AGS should be able to advance absent PzArmy 4, though not as fast as OTL. I'd predict that with infantry armies marching from the Donets and PzArmy 1 advancing south along the Don, AGS can take everything up to the Don by September (about two months later than OTL).
  • AGC uses PzArmy 4 plus its OTL forces to pinch off the Russian forces grouped between Ostheer's Rzhev and Demyansk salients, trapping at least another ~500k men in an August Kesselschlacht.
  • Thereafter, AGC sends ~6 mobile divisions to AGN, which launches an early September drive through Tikhvin to meet up with the Finns, encircling Leningrad and Volkhov fronts and bagging another ~500k men.
  • Ostheer goes over to the defensive on most of the front.
  • Because AGS is not overextended as in OTL, it successfully holds its front against Russian fall/winter offensives, as does the rest of the Ostheer (as in OTL). RKKA loses millions more men during its attacks, especially to German counterattacks that encircle its spearheads - as occurred several times OTL when the Germans conducted a planned defense.
  • The bomb planted on Hitler's plane in March 1943 actually explodes and Hitler is replaced by Henning von Treskow and his circle.
So as the summer '43 campaign season approaches, Ostheer occupies all the breadbasket regions up to the Don, is on the precipice of Moscow, has taken Leningrad. RKKA has failed to recover meaningful territory from Ostheer in any of its offensives and has failed to stop German attacks. SU was on the brink of starvation OTL, here its food situation is significantly worse.

When the offer of armistice comes from Germany's new conservative military government, Stalin accepts it. Armistice mostly restores the status quo antebellum, except that Romania and Finland recover their lost territories while the Baltics and prewar eastern Poland revert to independent buffer states. Stalin is given a free hand to move against Turkey.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 22 Jan 2020 21:40

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jan 2020 20:52
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:So I don't see how a German invasion of Russia could ever have succeeded.
I happen to see exactly how the invasion would have worked, which I will now lay out in the following 100,000-word response:

-
-
-
-
-
-
-

Okay now that you're all convinced that Germany could have won from the beginning, what about starting from 1942?
By that point it's clear even to this "Wehraboo" that Germany couldn't have won on its original terms, but suppose the following:
  • Instead of attempting two separate encirclements in summer '42 [Blau I & II], the first of which left out PzArmy 1, Ostheer uses both of AGS's panzer armies in Blau I and successfully removes another ~400k soldiers from the orbat.
  • Thereafter, PzArmy 4 goes to AGC while AGS conducts its advance to the Don. With RKKA missing 400k men, AGS should be able to advance absent PzArmy 4, though not as fast as OTL. I'd predict that with infantry armies marching from the Donets and PzArmy 1 advancing south along the Don, AGS can take everything up to the Don by September (about two months later than OTL).
  • AGC uses PzArmy 4 plus its OTL forces to pinch off the Russian forces grouped between Ostheer's Rzhev and Demyansk salients, trapping at least another ~500k men in an August Kesselschlacht.
  • Thereafter, AGC sends ~6 mobile divisions to AGN, which launches an early September drive through Tikhvin to meet up with the Finns, encircling Leningrad and Volkhov fronts and bagging another ~500k men.
  • Ostheer goes over to the defensive on most of the front.
  • Because AGS is not overextended as in OTL, it successfully holds its front against Russian fall/winter offensives, as does the rest of the Ostheer (as in OTL). RKKA loses millions more men during its attacks, especially to German counterattacks that encircle its spearheads - as occurred several times OTL when the Germans conducted a planned defense.
  • The bomb planted on Hitler's plane in March 1943 actually explodes and Hitler is replaced by Henning von Treskow and his circle.
So as the summer '43 campaign season approaches, Ostheer occupies all the breadbasket regions up to the Don, is on the precipice of Moscow, has taken Leningrad. RKKA has failed to recover meaningful territory from Ostheer in any of its offensives and has failed to stop German attacks. SU was on the brink of starvation OTL, here its food situation is significantly worse.

When the offer of armistice comes from Germany's new conservative military government, Stalin accepts it. Armistice mostly restores the status quo antebellum, except that Romania and Finland recover their lost territories while the Baltics and prewar eastern Poland revert to independent buffer states. Stalin is given a free hand to move against Turkey.
Clearly over optimistic,particularly where AGC and AGN is concerned. Timewise very ambitious.A lot has to be done in a short timeframe where mobile divisions also have to be shifted around. :roll:
Last edited by Aida1 on 22 Jan 2020 22:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 22 Jan 2020 22:16

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jan 2020 20:52
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:So I don't see how a German invasion of Russia could ever have succeeded.
I happen to see exactly how the invasion would have worked, which I will now lay out in the following 100,000-word response:

-
-
-
-
-
-
-

Okay now that you're all convinced that Germany could have won from the beginning, what about starting from 1942?
By that point it's clear even to this "Wehraboo" that Germany couldn't have won on its original terms, but suppose the following:
  • Instead of attempting two separate encirclements in summer '42 [Blau I & II], the first of which left out PzArmy 1, Ostheer uses both of AGS's panzer armies in Blau I and successfully removes another ~400k soldiers from the orbat.
  • Thereafter, PzArmy 4 goes to AGC while AGS conducts its advance to the Don. With RKKA missing 400k men, AGS should be able to advance absent PzArmy 4, though not as fast as OTL. I'd predict that with infantry armies marching from the Donets and PzArmy 1 advancing south along the Don, AGS can take everything up to the Don by September (about two months later than OTL).
  • AGC uses PzArmy 4 plus its OTL forces to pinch off the Russian forces grouped between Ostheer's Rzhev and Demyansk salients, trapping at least another ~500k men in an August Kesselschlacht.
  • Thereafter, AGC sends ~6 mobile divisions to AGN, which launches an early September drive through Tikhvin to meet up with the Finns, encircling Leningrad and Volkhov fronts and bagging another ~500k men.
  • Ostheer goes over to the defensive on most of the front.
  • Because AGS is not overextended as in OTL, it successfully holds its front against Russian fall/winter offensives, as does the rest of the Ostheer (as in OTL). RKKA loses millions more men during its attacks, especially to German counterattacks that encircle its spearheads - as occurred several times OTL when the Germans conducted a planned defense.
  • The bomb planted on Hitler's plane in March 1943 actually explodes and Hitler is replaced by Henning von Treskow and his circle.
So as the summer '43 campaign season approaches, Ostheer occupies all the breadbasket regions up to the Don, is on the precipice of Moscow, has taken Leningrad. RKKA has failed to recover meaningful territory from Ostheer in any of its offensives and has failed to stop German attacks. SU was on the brink of starvation OTL, here its food situation is significantly worse.

When the offer of armistice comes from Germany's new conservative military government, Stalin accepts it. Armistice mostly restores the status quo antebellum, except that Romania and Finland recover their lost territories while the Baltics and prewar eastern Poland revert to independent buffer states. Stalin is given a free hand to move against Turkey.
That still leaves the Western Allies, and Stalin has every incentive to stab the Germans in the back the second Germany redeploys away from the Eastern Front. If Germany remains committed on the Eastern Front, then the Western Allies can invade France. It's a no-win situation for Germany. Unconditional surrender really was their only option.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jan 2020 23:30

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Stalin has every incentive to stab the Germans in the back
With buffer states erected, that's harder. Stalin would be busy for at least a couple years rebuilding his country, which means at least partial demobilization and using his remaining military to against Turkey, Japan, Afghanistan. He was an opportunist; taking land in the MidEast and Asia very cheaply over a couple years would have occupied him.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:That still leaves the Western Allies
What are their options against the entire German army? As I've cited a couple times here, the U.S. judged it would need 700 divisions to invade Europe. That was assuming Italy is still in the fight and that Germany defeats Russia in 42 instead of 43 in this scenario, but even if it's half that - 350 divisions - it far exceeds anything the U.S. even attempted OTL - max'd out at 91 divisions.

The Wallies would be relying on air power to subdue Germany and, leaving the A-bomb aside for the moment, that would have failed completely. With a new rational government from early '43, the Germans would start building fighters and flak to defend the Reich. Lack of an Eastern Front immediately reduces LW losses by about 1/3. During 1944, German fighter production would easily reach 5,000 per month. With no Ostheer, they'd have enough fuel to train their pilots effectively.

If the Germans can maintain the 3:2 attrition ratio of OTL Big Week, but with 3-4 times as many fighters as OTL and more flak, then the Wallied bomber offensive is unsustainable. The economic and aircrew attrition ratio of trading 1.5 heavy bombers for a single fighter is ~15:1. 10% loss ratio per sortie was the absolute ceiling of losses that Wallies said that they would abide, so even on our terms the Wallies would have had to stop large-scale bombing of Germany during 1944. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

The Wallies wouldn't recognize the bomber offensive as defeated until during 1944 - simply too much industrial and intellectual momentum behind it. It would take at least a couple years to reorient Anglosphere economies to the support of massive land armies, were they to want to do so.

In the meantime, Germany would have surged forces into Italy - say 50 divisions - forcing Wallied evacuation during 1943 or else a truly catastrophic defeat with loss of the whole force. Either outcome would have a big effect on Wallied morale, with Roosevelt probably losing the 1944 election.

Because the Wallies can't land in France, Germany's V1 offensive against Southern England continues indefinitely instead of lasting only a few months. The new rational German government would have focused on the V1 instead of the inefficient V2, meaning at least 50,000 V1's could hit England instead of OTL's ~4,000 (V1's were incredibly cheap and arguably more efficient at area bombing than 4-engine bombers). Germany would have built many more launch sites in France than OTL, meaning large-scale simultaneous launches would overwhelm air defenses to a greater degree.

The V1 isn't going to tank Britain's economy but it would increase war-weariness in Britain, which was a real thing OTL. Recall that the British ousted their war hero Churchill while still at war with Japan... With the SU no longer on side, the leftist parties would have further resistance to the war.

By 1945, a few things would been clear to the Anglosphere public: (1) the bombing offensive was not going to end the war and (2) a massive land invasion with millions dead was required to win. Maybe the Anglosphere public could be roused to die en masse against Hitler; against a conservative German government offering decent peace terms that would have been impossible IMO. Even Petain's government would be loudly clamoring for peace and objecting to France becoming a WW1-scale battlefield where millions would die.

Plus with the SU making moves against Turkey/Afghanistan/Middle East, invading China/Korea, the Cold War would be in full swing. I can't see the Wallies wanting to lose a generation of men fighting Germany while the Soviet menace loomed.

Returning to the A-bomb and assuming the Wallies don't make peace before summer '45, would there be political support for incinerating millions of Germans, along with millions of foreign workers known to be residing in German cities during the war? Especially in light of a "normal" German government offering a reasonable peace - one that likely destroyed evidence of Wehrmacht participation in war crimes - I can't see the public tolerating a demand for unconditional surrender backed by a threat of mass murder. If you set aside the Holocaust - which the new government would probably end and conceal - even I wouldn't think a nuclear holocaust against Germany/foreign workers would be morally justified. Would you?

Plus the Germans could credibly threaten to retaliate with powerful biological weapons such as Tabun. By mid-45 they'd have several jet bombers that could evade air defenses and drop the small-payload biological weapons. Millions would die on both sides; it'd be worse than OTL WW2. The SU could invade and occupy the European wasteland virtually unopposed.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Peter89 » 23 Jan 2020 07:41

The AGC and AGN came under serious attacks in July and August (the first Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation and the Sinyavino Offensive).

It is debateable if they could conduct massive encirclements in these sectors...
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 23 Jan 2020 09:35

Peter89 wrote:
23 Jan 2020 07:41
The AGC and AGN came under serious attacks in July and August (the first Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation and the Sinyavino Offensive).

It is debateable if they could conduct massive encirclements in these sectors...
That is one of the main weaknesses in his scenario. And then mobile divisions are supposed to be shifted to AGN and do the same. Not credible at all.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 23 Jan 2020 09:36

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jan 2020 23:30
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:Stalin has every incentive to stab the Germans in the back
With buffer states erected, that's harder. Stalin would be busy for at least a couple years rebuilding his country, which means at least partial demobilization and using his remaining military to against Turkey, Japan, Afghanistan. He was an opportunist; taking land in the MidEast and Asia very cheaply over a couple years would have occupied him.
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:That still leaves the Western Allies
What are their options against the entire German army? As I've cited a couple times here, the U.S. judged it would need 700 divisions to invade Europe. That was assuming Italy is still in the fight and that Germany defeats Russia in 42 instead of 43 in this scenario, but even if it's half that - 350 divisions - it far exceeds anything the U.S. even attempted OTL - max'd out at 91 divisions.

The Wallies would be relying on air power to subdue Germany and, leaving the A-bomb aside for the moment, that would have failed completely. With a new rational government from early '43, the Germans would start building fighters and flak to defend the Reich. Lack of an Eastern Front immediately reduces LW losses by about 1/3. During 1944, German fighter production would easily reach 5,000 per month. With no Ostheer, they'd have enough fuel to train their pilots effectively.

If the Germans can maintain the 3:2 attrition ratio of OTL Big Week, but with 3-4 times as many fighters as OTL and more flak, then the Wallied bomber offensive is unsustainable. The economic and aircrew attrition ratio of trading 1.5 heavy bombers for a single fighter is ~15:1. 10% loss ratio per sortie was the absolute ceiling of losses that Wallies said that they would abide, so even on our terms the Wallies would have had to stop large-scale bombing of Germany during 1944. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Week

The Wallies wouldn't recognize the bomber offensive as defeated until during 1944 - simply too much industrial and intellectual momentum behind it. It would take at least a couple years to reorient Anglosphere economies to the support of massive land armies, were they to want to do so.

In the meantime, Germany would have surged forces into Italy - say 50 divisions - forcing Wallied evacuation during 1943 or else a truly catastrophic defeat with loss of the whole force. Either outcome would have a big effect on Wallied morale, with Roosevelt probably losing the 1944 election.

Because the Wallies can't land in France, Germany's V1 offensive against Southern England continues indefinitely instead of lasting only a few months. The new rational German government would have focused on the V1 instead of the inefficient V2, meaning at least 50,000 V1's could hit England instead of OTL's ~4,000 (V1's were incredibly cheap and arguably more efficient at area bombing than 4-engine bombers). Germany would have built many more launch sites in France than OTL, meaning large-scale simultaneous launches would overwhelm air defenses to a greater degree.

The V1 isn't going to tank Britain's economy but it would increase war-weariness in Britain, which was a real thing OTL. Recall that the British ousted their war hero Churchill while still at war with Japan... With the SU no longer on side, the leftist parties would have further resistance to the war.

By 1945, a few things would been clear to the Anglosphere public: (1) the bombing offensive was not going to end the war and (2) a massive land invasion with millions dead was required to win. Maybe the Anglosphere public could be roused to die en masse against Hitler; against a conservative German government offering decent peace terms that would have been impossible IMO. Even Petain's government would be loudly clamoring for peace and objecting to France becoming a WW1-scale battlefield where millions would die.

Plus with the SU making moves against Turkey/Afghanistan/Middle East, invading China/Korea, the Cold War would be in full swing. I can't see the Wallies wanting to lose a generation of men fighting Germany while the Soviet menace loomed.

Returning to the A-bomb and assuming the Wallies don't make peace before summer '45, would there be political support for incinerating millions of Germans, along with millions of foreign workers known to be residing in German cities during the war? Especially in light of a "normal" German government offering a reasonable peace - one that likely destroyed evidence of Wehrmacht participation in war crimes - I can't see the public tolerating a demand for unconditional surrender backed by a threat of mass murder. If you set aside the Holocaust - which the new government would probably end and conceal - even I wouldn't think a nuclear holocaust against Germany/foreign workers would be morally justified. Would you?

Plus the Germans could credibly threaten to retaliate with powerful biological weapons such as Tabun. By mid-45 they'd have several jet bombers that could evade air defenses and drop the small-payload biological weapons. Millions would die on both sides; it'd be worse than OTL WW2. The SU could invade and occupy the European wasteland virtually unopposed.
The problem is you are not making a credible scenario for defeating the USSR in the first place. :roll:

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Jan 2020 10:47

Peter89 wrote:
23 Jan 2020 07:41
The AGC and AGN came under serious attacks in July and August (the first Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation and the Sinyavino Offensive).

It is debateable if they could conduct massive encirclements in these sectors...
It is debatable, sure. But my scenario begins with RKKA losing another big encirclement battle in Blau I, which would require plugging that gap in Soviet lines. It also stipulates AGC gaining an entire panzer army that would more than double AGC's OTL mobile striking power.

In summer '42 the RKKA was still unable to stop strong Ostheer offensives despite numerical superiority - even AGC's Operation Seydlitz succeeded. There's a plausible argument, IMJ, that the difference between '41 and '42 prisoner hauls was that Blau I tried encirclement "on the cheap" with only a single panzer army, whereas all the big '41 kessels used double-envelopment by two panzer armies. Blau I lacked sufficient mobile divisions for deep and tight encirclement, resulting in forces escaping the pincers and/or streaming through the weakly-held encircling lines. This was because even the less-ambitious 42 plan was still too ambitious: AGS didn't concentrate its mobile forces for Blau I because to do so would have delayed the over-ambitious timetable for the Caucasus. Blau II used most of two panzer armies but - as Bock and others noted beforehand - the terrain and posture didn't make successful encirclement likely.

At base I'm suggesting that the Ostheer was still capable of large-scale encirclements in '42 but that achieving them would have required unshackling operational art from unrealistic strategic goals. Maybe that requires a bomb on Hitler's plane in March 42 instead of 43. Regardless, the SU was still in the perilous position of facing an army that it couldn't stop until winter.

The SU was on the brink of starvation in OTL 43 and Kotkin convincingly argues that Stalin was considering peace ahead of Kursk. Take away the southern grain-surplus regions and Leningrad, add a few million POW's to the losses, and letting the capitalists kill each other starts to look pretty good again.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by ljadw » 23 Jan 2020 12:22

Peter89 wrote:
22 Jan 2020 18:19
corbulo wrote:
22 Jan 2020 15:06
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
24 Dec 2019 14:34
What stands out the most is the appalling state of the German infantry: Army Group South had 50 percent of its original infantry strength; Army Groups Center and North each 35 percent. And this was despite having received 1.1 million replacements since June 22 1941.

I couldn't find specific casualty information in this book, but Glantz in When Titans Clashed lists German casualties as 522,833 by September 28, 1941. Stahel puts total German 1941 casualties at 830,903, of which 302,595 were killed. Stahel also lists 262,524 casualties for November 26, 1941, to February 28, 1942. Retreat from Moscow (p. 138).

Looking at the dreadful state of the German army in May 1942, with the United States entering the war, and the Soviets continuing to field a massive army, and the Eastern Front more or less stabilized, it seems the war was already lost for Germany. The OstHeer was too weak to do anything offensively in more than one sector, and that would never be enough to knock out the Soviet Union. Germany's severe manpower shortage meant that it couldn't replace casualties or ever hope to get back to its June 1941 strength, and German industrial output could never match that of the Allies.

With the benefit of hindsight, it also shows the folly of Operation Barbarossa. Throwing away over half of your entire country's infantry strength in the bottomless pit of Russia was never a good idea.
Just because it didn't work, it doesn't mean it couldn't have worked.

Also not being in a position to win, doesn't mean that you're in a position to lose...
It couldn't have worked. General Georg Thomas pointed this out to Hitler. To invade a country like the SU was a stupid idea. If the Soviets simply blew up everything, the whole plan couldn't work. And there was also the Red Army...
Saying that it was a stupid idea is ot a good argument : the only alternative for Barbarossa was unconditional surrender , and as this was out of the question ...
About Thomas : although his arguments were serious, they were also meaningless,as the problem was not on the German side ( manpower,etc ) but on the Soviet side .
The SU could not be defeated by military means .

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Aida1
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 23 Jan 2020 18:20

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Jan 2020 10:47
Peter89 wrote:
23 Jan 2020 07:41
The AGC and AGN came under serious attacks in July and August (the first Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation and the Sinyavino Offensive).

It is debateable if they could conduct massive encirclements in these sectors...
It is debatable, sure. But my scenario begins with RKKA losing another big encirclement battle in Blau I, which would require plugging that gap in Soviet lines. It also stipulates AGC gaining an entire panzer army that would more than double AGC's OTL mobile striking power.

In summer '42 the RKKA was still unable to stop strong Ostheer offensives despite numerical superiority - even AGC's Operation Seydlitz succeeded. There's a plausible argument, IMJ, that the difference between '41 and '42 prisoner hauls was that Blau I tried encirclement "on the cheap" with only a single panzer army, whereas all the big '41 kessels used double-envelopment by two panzer armies. Blau I lacked sufficient mobile divisions for deep and tight encirclement, resulting in forces escaping the pincers and/or streaming through the weakly-held encircling lines. This was because even the less-ambitious 42 plan was still too ambitious: AGS didn't concentrate its mobile forces for Blau I because to do so would have delayed the over-ambitious timetable for the Caucasus. Blau II used most of two panzer armies but - as Bock and others noted beforehand - the terrain and posture didn't make successful encirclement likely.

At base I'm suggesting that the Ostheer was still capable of large-scale encirclements in '42 but that achieving them would have required unshackling operational art from unrealistic strategic goals. Maybe that requires a bomb on Hitler's plane in March 42 instead of 43. Regardless, the SU was still in the perilous position of facing an army that it couldn't stop until winter.

The SU was on the brink of starvation in OTL 43 and Kotkin convincingly argues that Stalin was considering peace ahead of Kursk. Take away the southern grain-surplus regions and Leningrad, add a few million POW's to the losses, and letting the capitalists kill each other starts to look pretty good again.
That extra panzer army will have been attritted by the action in the south and undergo more weer and tear moving to AGC. The mobile divisions of AGC were understrength. One needs a lot of imagination to think that big encirclements would be possible in the center. Too optimistic. Work it out in detail and it Will not work.

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