Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

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Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Aug 2020 04:51

In many threads discussing Barbarossa, the vulnerability of Soviet demographic/productive resources to German occupation is relevant.

To that end, here's a thread collecting stats/estimates/guesstimates on the location of Soviet resources around 1941. I don't speak/read Russian so I'm sure I'm missing some accessible sources - any help appreciated.



POPULATION DISTRIBUTION



Population figures are perhaps the easiest so far. Here's a summary from the League of Nation's publication The Population of the Soviet Union: History and Prospects [1946]:

Image

The stats are for 1939; extrapolating to 1941 would add ~4% (and 21mil for 1939-40 acquisitions).

There's also the record of the 1926, '37, and '39 Soviet censuses, though 1926 is obviously dated while '37 and '39 were notoriously unreliable and/or concealed. The best access to this data I've found comes in and via Russian wikipedia pages, which Chrome translates coherently (accurately?):

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0 ... %A0_(1926)

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0 ... %A0_(1939)

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AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTION




Agricultural figures by region seem more difficult to find, at least for this non-Russian reader. Here's a table regarding the geographical distribution of Soviet grain production in 1974:

Image
https://www.nass.usda.gov/Education_and ... iction.pdf

ET is the European SU, AT is Asiatic. "Chernozem" refers to the fertile black-earth lands of the south.

As you can see with a little arithmetic, in 1974 land in Asiatic Russia had about 59% the yield, per acre, of land in the Chernozem ET.
Relative to the non-Chernozem ET, AT land had 69% of the yield or 31% lower.

The League of Nations book contains a means of calculating the distribution of sown Soviet land in 1939 by interpolation of two tables:

Image


Image


A bit of arithmetic gives the following regional distribution of sown land:

Image


Soviet agriculture shifted significantly eastwards between 1939 and '74, with the European share of sown land declining from 69% to 55%. This understates the shift, however, as some of the 9.4% of 1939's cropland in the Urals and Bakshir regions is included in the 1974 study's definition of the European USSR. Kruschev's "Virgin Lands Campaign," among other initiatives, underlie the shift.

Moving from the geography of sown land to that of actual production requires a bit more guesstimation. As noted above, Asiatic Soviet land was 41% less productive than European Chernozem and 31% less productive than European non-Chernozem land in 1974. Chernozem land was certainly more productive in 1939 as well but I don't have figures for the difference. If we assume the same productivity ratios for 1939 as 1974, then we can estimate the distribution of 1939 Soviet grain production as follows:


Image


I've highlighted the European Chernozem regions in green, along with their sum. They represent half of Soviet grain production by 1939's distribution of sown land and 1974's relative land productivity.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not going to get to industry and natural resources in this post...


CONCLUSIONS

Regarding food production and population distribution, the figures make clear that a German advance to something like the vague A-A line or to the Urals would have massively weakened the Soviet Union.

Had the Germans stopped just outside the Urals, they'd have taken ~80% of the SU's 1939 grain production, geographically speaking (Bakshir and Transcaucasian territories plus European SU). Had they reached something like the A-A line, then the Soviets would retain roughly the Vyatka, Tatar, and Bashkir regions with another 8-9% of pre-war grain production.

From the Urals to east (excluding Bakshir), the SU's pre-war population was around 41-42mil (Siberia, SFE, Central Asia) or around a quarter of pre-war population. The Soviets would have evacuated as in OTL but as Asiatic SU had only ~23% of pre-war food production, it would have been nigh impossible to support a massive influx of, say, 30mil refugees from the European SU. They could do a "virgin lands campaign" in the east but the lower land productivity and lack of rural infrastructure would have required a devastating reapportionment of labor and resources from factory/front to farms.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2020 08:20

Order No. 227
28 July 1942
The enemy throws new forces to the front without regard to heavy losses and penetrates deep into the Soviet Union, seizing new regions, destroying our cities and villages, and violating, plundering and killing the Soviet population. Combat goes on in region Voronezh, near Don, in the south, and at the gates of the Northern Caucasus. The German invaders penetrate toward Stalingrad, to Volga and want at any cost to trap Kuban and the Northern Caucasus, with their oil and grain. The enemy already has captured Voroshilovgrad, Starobelsk, Rossosh, Kupyansk, Valuyki, Novocherkassk, Rostov on Don, half Voronezh. Part of the troops of the Southern front, following the panic-mongers, have left Rostov and Novocherkassk without severe resistance and without orders from Moscow, covering their banners with shame.

The population of our country, who love and respect the Red Army, start to be discouraged in her and lose faith in the Red Army, and many curse the Red Army for leaving our people under the yoke of the German oppressors, and itself running east.

Some stupid people at the front calm themselves with talk that we can retreat further to the east, as we have a lot of territory, a lot of ground, a lot of population and that there will always be much bread for us. They want to justify the infamous behaviour at the front. But such talk is a falsehood, helpful only to our enemies.

Each commander, Red Army soldier and political commissar should understand that our means are not limitless. The territory of the Soviet state is not a desert, but people - workers, peasants, intelligentsia, our fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, children. The territory of the USSR which the enemy has captured and aims to capture is bread and other products for the army, metal and fuel for industry, factories, plants supplying the army with arms and ammunition, railways. After the loss of Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic republics, Donetzk, and other areas we have much less territory, much fewer people, bread, metal, plants and factories. We have lost more than 70 million people, more than 800 million pounds of bread annually and more than 10 million tons of metal annually. Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human reserves, in reserves of bread. To retreat further - means to waste ourselves and to waste at the same time our Motherland.

Therefore it is necessary to eliminate talk that we have the capability endlessly to retreat, that we have a lot of territory, that our country is great and rich, that there is a large population, and that bread always will be abundant. Such talk is false and parasitic, it weakens us and benefits the enemy, if we do not stop retreating we will be without bread, without fuel, without metal, without raw material, without factories and plants, without railways.
J. Stalin

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Aug 2020 08:52

wm wrote:Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human reserves, in reserves of bread. To retreat further - means to waste ourselves and to waste at the same time our Motherland.
Yep I often quote that to folks who say the SU could have held out indefinitely regardless of territory loss.
It's subject to this rejoinder: Stalin was blowing smoke to buck up the troops.
That rejoinder is subject to: Stalin was admitting a strategic weakness of the SU, something he wouldn't do unless he really felt such admission necessary and genuine.

In any event, I'm not as interested in rebutting the superficial analysts who think the SU was indomitable. I'm more interested in setting up a framework for (1) evaluating the impact of hypothetical German territorial gains on Soviet warmaking potential and (2) broadly evaluating the wisdom of the A-A line as a vague German strategic goal.

IMO it seems likely that the Germans would have had to push beyond the A-A line into the Urals to force an acceptable conclusion in the East (either a harsh peace settlement or the functional collapse of Soviet/Russian resistance to a level manageable by a small screening force).

But it seems just as clear that, once the Germans have reached the A-A line, the SU doesn't have enough left with which to mount a defense of the Urals, even against a significantly weaker Ostheer.

As my estimates show, if Germany is on roughly the AA line, the SU has ~30% of its prewar food production and geographic population. Evacuations will raise the actual population over the geographically-measured population but the food supply puts a hard limit on evacuation. Relative to historical '42, Soviet resources - and therefore Red Army size - would be 50-60% of historical levels. Such a weakened Red Army can't stop the Ostheer from going further, after which the Eastern Front becomes a minor front if any at all.

In a future post I may also attempt some modelling of the impact of evacuations on rear area mortality. Historically the SU had >4mil deaths in the unoccupied rear, some of which was starvation but much of which was sanitary diseases (e.g. typhus) related to the harsh, improvised evacuation conditions. Had the SU attempted even greater evacuations - including massive "double evacuations" or already-diseased refugees to a second/third improvised shelter - disease mortality would inevitably have risen.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Yuri » 12 Aug 2020 11:08

wm wrote:
12 Aug 2020 08:20
Order No. 227
28 July 1942
The enemy throws new forces to the front without regard to heavy losses and penetrates deep into the Soviet Union, seizing new regions, destroying our cities and villages, and violating, plundering and killing the Soviet population. Combat goes on in region Voronezh, near Don, in the south, and at the gates of the Northern Caucasus. The German invaders penetrate toward Stalingrad, to Volga and want at any cost to trap Kuban and the Northern Caucasus, with their oil and grain. The enemy already has captured Voroshilovgrad, Starobelsk, Rossosh, Kupyansk, Valuyki, Novocherkassk, Rostov on Don, half Voronezh. Part of the troops of the Southern front, following the panic-mongers, have left Rostov and Novocherkassk without severe resistance and without orders from Moscow, covering their banners with shame.

The population of our country, who love and respect the Red Army, start to be discouraged in her and lose faith in the Red Army, and many curse the Red Army for leaving our people under the yoke of the German oppressors, and itself running east.

Some stupid people at the front calm themselves with talk that we can retreat further to the east, as we have a lot of territory, a lot of ground, a lot of population and that there will always be much bread for us. They want to justify the infamous behaviour at the front. But such talk is a falsehood, helpful only to our enemies.

Each commander, Red Army soldier and political commissar should understand that our means are not limitless. The territory of the Soviet state is not a desert, but people - workers, peasants, intelligentsia, our fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, children. The territory of the USSR which the enemy has captured and aims to capture is bread and other products for the army, metal and fuel for industry, factories, plants supplying the army with arms and ammunition, railways. After the loss of Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic republics, Donetzk, and other areas we have much less territory, much fewer people, bread, metal, plants and factories. We have lost more than 70 million people, more than 800 million pounds of bread annually and more than 10 million tons of metal annually. Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human reserves, in reserves of bread. To retreat further - means to waste ourselves and to waste at the same time our Motherland.

Therefore it is necessary to eliminate talk that we have the capability endlessly to retreat, that we have a lot of territory, that our country is great and rich, that there is a large population, and that bread always will be abundant. Such talk is false and parasitic, it weakens us and benefits the enemy, if we do not stop retreating we will be without bread, without fuel, without metal, without raw material, without factories and plants, without railways.
J. Stalin
During the Great Patriotic war, which the Soviet people waged against the European invaders, the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of the USSR J.V. Stalin made two strategic mistakes:

Mistake 1.
Order No. 227 on July 28, 1942 was issued on July 28, 1942, when it should have been issued on June 21, 1941.

Mistake 2.
Order No. 227 on July 28, 1942 had No. 227, when it should have had No. 1.

However, even with these shortcomings, order No. 227 on July 28, 1942 entered the Golden Fund of the Russian people and will remain there forever, since it will never lose its relevance.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2020 15:28

Actually he did that (not one step back!) in June 1941 and even more - the counterattacks he ordered devasted his army.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2020 16:00

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Aug 2020 08:52
But it seems just as clear that, once the Germans have reached the A-A line, the SU doesn't have enough left with which to mount a defense of the Urals, even against a significantly weaker Ostheer.
But they say the Germans were incapable of doing do that if opposed. Their Ponje carts and their masses of horses weren't up to the task.
The German Army was getting weaker and weaker with every mile of its advance towards the Urals.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Aug 2020 21:22

wm wrote:
12 Aug 2020 16:00
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Aug 2020 08:52
But it seems just as clear that, once the Germans have reached the A-A line, the SU doesn't have enough left with which to mount a defense of the Urals, even against a significantly weaker Ostheer.
But they say the Germans were incapable of doing do that if opposed. Their Ponje carts and their masses of horses weren't up to the task.
The German Army was getting weaker and weaker with every mile of its advance towards the Urals.
Yeah I know what "they" say; it's just that "they" usually don't know what they're talking about. Most people who talk about logistics - especially on AHF - have basically zero analytical insight behind their claims. German logistics was primarily a matter of railroads. I've written much about that elsewhere.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Returning to the OP topic, the most revealing thing to me in the population distribution figures is the importance of the "Old Industrial Center" - roughly the Moscow-Gorky area. Its 1939 population of 22mil was 73% of the entire Ukraine's and certainly exceeded that of the Eastern Ukraine, whose capture Hitler prioritized when ordering the southwards diversion of AGC. As the table demonstrates, the Old Industrial Center grew by ~32% between 1926 and 1939 - faster than the Urals. Leningrad grew by 41%. 

This should cause some re-evaluation of Hitler's strategic focus on Ukraine at the expense of Moscow. I don't want to overstate this, as I still doubt whether AGC could have taken the Moscow-Gorky region absent the Kiev battle, and doubt even more whether it could have held it. The large cities to the east of Moscow - Gorky but also Vladimir, Ivanovo, Ryazan, Yaroslavl and their ilk - were the true center of gravity for this region. Gorky is ~400km east of Moscow. 

What it does make clear, however, is that German capture of Moscow-Gorkiy in addition to Ukraine and the Leningrad region (especially if the latter falls quicker with less evacuation) would devastate Soviet warmaking potential.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by BDV » 13 Aug 2020 15:30

TheMarcksPlan wrote: What it does make clear, however, is that German capture of Moscow-Gorkiy in addition to Ukraine and the Leningrad region (especially if the latter falls quicker with less evacuation) would devastate Soviet warmaking potential.
The Axis did not have the resources/ability to do all these things. Where room for dispute arises is that the cost-results ratio varies for these objectives. Direct attack onto Moscow - Gorky space requires movement across the forested Smolensk-Moscow upland. Direct attack on Leningrad requires movement across the marshy Luga basin.

Attack onto Eastern Ukraine happens mostly across open space. Conquest of Eastern Ukraine also opens up the soft underbelly of the Moscow-Gorky region.

However, in hindsight, it is the attack on Leningrad that appears the most wasteful from the axis POV in 1941.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Yuri » 13 Aug 2020 18:40

BDV wrote:
13 Aug 2020 15:30
TheMarcksPlan wrote: What it does make clear, however, is that German capture of Moscow-Gorkiy in addition to Ukraine and the Leningrad region (especially if the latter falls quicker with less evacuation) would devastate Soviet warmaking potential.
The Axis did not have the resources/ability to do all these things. Where room for dispute arises is that the cost-results ratio varies for these objectives. Direct attack onto Moscow - Gorky space requires movement across the forested Smolensk-Moscow upland. Direct attack on Leningrad requires movement across the marshy Luga basin.

Attack onto Eastern Ukraine happens mostly across open space. Conquest of Eastern Ukraine also opens up the soft underbelly of the Moscow-Gorky region.

However, in hindsight, it is the attack on Leningrad that appears the most wasteful from the axis POV in 1941.
The Fuhrer and Supreme commander of the Wehrmacht, Adolf Hitler, did not try to take over this area because he was known to love Opera. He probably listened to or knew about Mikhail Glinka's Opera Ivan Susanin (the second title of "Life for the Tsar").
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu93r6IYCiM.
Thus, Hitler knew the fate of the Polish army that wanted to pass this area.
Ivan_Susanin_1613.jpg
The essence of the story is that the Poles demanded from the local residents that they show the road by which they can attack Moscow from the North-East. The peasant Ivan Susanin volunteered to show these poles such a road. And for 408 years all have been looking for and cannot find those poles.
There, if there is 100 km between two points on the map, then in summer you will need to walk 500 km. This is if you know how to go. Anyone who tries to pass without the help of local residents will get to the same place where Ivan Susanin sent the poles, that is, to the bottom of the swamp.

Only after a large-scale drainage of swamps was carried out in the 50-60s of the last (20th) century, it became possible to conduct more or less straight roads. And now You can see the place where presumably Ivan Susanin led the poles.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiSkZtmWXKc.

The sea made Britain an Empire, and the Volga river made Russia an Empire.
Here is a British child heard in 1942 a song about the Volga river and it immediately became clear to him - Hitler kaput. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tw3g88JtWA

keith harrison
3 years ago
I was a kid of seven or eight in Birmingham UK when I first heard this song. It was 1942 (I am now 83). I think I drove my aunt crazy because I hummed it all day long!. The song gave us hope that at last the war was not LOST. Powerful song. I will remember.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by wm » 13 Aug 2020 19:16

Please, that's straight from Nu, pogodi!
It wasn't Poles but a Polish-Russian coalition.
They didn't hang about swamps but went straight for Moscow and conquered it.
Two times, and with ease.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Yuri » 13 Aug 2020 21:58

"Nu, pogodi!" ("Well, wait!") - this is a cartoon of the second half of the 20th century. The Opera "Ivan Susanin" was written in the 19th century. Hitler loved Opera, Hitler put a bullet in his head on April 30, 1945. These are facts.
From which it follows that the cartoon "Nu, pogodi!" ("Well, wait!") Hitler could not watch, but he might have known the contents of the Opera "Ivan Susanin".
Further, although Hitler had poor eyesight, but he had glasses and a special magnifying glass. It is also known that Hitler could read maps. These are facts. Consequently, through his magnifying glass, Hitler saw that the Susaninsky swamp (on the map it is called the Susaninsky swamp) is the size of half of Poland. Hitler knew that Moscow had been captured, looted, and burned many times: and Mongols, and Poles, and Crimean Tatars, and French. Many tried to capture it:: the Uzbeks, the Swedes, and the Germans. But for all of them, it ended with the same ending: the Supreme Commander of the Russian Army/The Red Army hung another scalp on the flagpole of the Victory banner.
Why?
Because no one has ever captured, burned or looted the cities on the Volga: Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky), Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Vologda, Samara etc. The Volga river is the backbone of the Russian Empire, and the Urals are its muscles. As long as the rod is not broken and the muscles are intact, no aggressor can safely settle in Moscow, Smolensk, or the Dnieper.
Extensive and very convenient waterways link the Volga-Ural basin and provide fast connections between very remote areas. That's why, despite the huge territory on which it settled Russian people, the Russian language has no dialects. Today you can travel from West to East in eleven time zones and everywhere the Russian language will sound the same. Compare this with the German language in Germany.
The respected BDV correctly noted that in the steppe South, you can move quickly. It should only be taken into account that the speed of movement does not depend on the direction. With what speed the Europeans moved East in the summer of 1942, with the same, even greater speed in the winter they fled to the West.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Aug 2020 22:36

BDV wrote:The Axis did not have the resources/ability to do all these things.
If your starting point is August '41 true. But arguably not if different strategic decisions had been made: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=245903
However, in hindsight, it is the attack on Leningrad that appears the most wasteful from the axis POV in 1941.
The linked ATL hinges on a decision to ignore AGN's sector at the outset and create another Kessel in Ukraine.

With Southwest Front destroyed during the Border Battles, AGC doesn't have to help clear Ukraine, meaning it can work with AGN to clear everything north of the Pripyat by the end of August, then turn on Moscow-Gorky. AGS has meanwhile cleared Ukraine and is advancing to the Don, meaning it can reinforce AGC's central drive as in OTL. Only this time the defending Red Army is far weaker because it has suffered greater casualties in June/July/August. For that reason the Ostheer is somewhat stronger (less attrition because more Soviets have surrendered).

We need to analyze the Eastern Front based on the fundamental strategic decisions made ex ante, not based on the path-dependent OTL outcomes from earlier strategic decisions. The OTL Ostheer decided to attempt double envelopment on only one front, followed by an easy push to Moscow, followed by the USSR disappearing in a poof of smoke somehow. To claim that resources determined outcome without evaluating any of the strategic decisions is to ignore the possibility that strategy can make a difference. Such economic/demographic determinism is fashionable these days but is, IMO, fundamentally wrong. Nothing about the economic/demographic fundamentals dictated the outcome in France, after all.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Peter89 » 20 Aug 2020 16:20

I think this is an interesting angle.

However, population was the only thing that the Wallies couldn't (or didn't want to) send to the Soviets via LL, so if they could hold the line and wear down the Axis troops in the process, they will win eventually. The SU's real lifelines were Vladivostok and Murmansk, the former wasn't even interdicted by the Japanese, the latter wasn't captured by the Axis. The Axis armies had a very serious logistical problem: their doctrine, equipment and logistics had a radius. In 1941, they defeated the Soviet armies in that radius, and they pushed even further. In 1942, with much of their offensive capabilities exhausted, their best formations decimated and their logistical support in shambles, they really needed to destoy Soviet formations very near to their logistical support - their effective striking radius and the stiffened Soviet resistance made it clear. But they decided to push forward where the Soviets did not anticipate it, thus they captured territories they couldn't hold. Contrary to what Yuri wrote, the flexible defense worked perfectly well in the summer of 1942.

With the blessing of hindsight, it could have made more sense to do a limited counterstrike in the Don Bend after the Battle of Kharkov and send the AGC / AGN on territorially limited offensives to eliminate their salients (thus freeing up troops). If the Axis was able to defeat the Soviets in 1942, it could have happened only very near their original lines. But that would require insane amount and scope of Soviet mistakes.

But I seriously doubt that the SU was on its last leg any time in WW2, after Germany and Japan declared war on the US. By the time the Axis was able to stabilize their lines in 1942, the chance to cripple the British Empire before the US enters into the war (or to exploit the Soviet resources in time) was lost forever.

So even if the Soviets retreat behind the Urals, the Axis stabilize the front at the A-A line by the end of 1942, it was an okay scenario for the Allies. If the Soviets escape with their armies and the Pacific route remains open, they would be able to field 50-100 divisions.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Aug 2020 00:55

Peter89 wrote: The SU's real lifelines were Vladivostok and Murmansk, the former wasn't even interdicted by the Japanese, the latter wasn't captured by the Axis.
True OTL.

But it's entirely feasible that these lifelines would have been cut had Germany seen a feasible level of success in Western Russia.

Re Murmansk, suppose the Ostheer joins with Finns at the Svir (OTL they were ~60 miles away). Leningrad then falls, Volkhov front disappears, AGN's 28 divisions can easily push its frontier to Lake Onega. That frees up the 80% of the Finnish Army, which could then take Belomorsk and cut the Murmansk railway during the winter. As Archangelsk is iced-in until May or so, British material (the most important early in the East) disappears for the first winter. There would have been political resistance to such an advance in Finnland but (1) Mannerheim was given wide rein to decide the final ending point of the Finnish advance based on his military judgment and (2) Hitler could have made the OTL generous provision of grain to Finland conditional on the offensive.

Re Vladivostok, if the Germans more seriously wound Russia in '41 then Japan probably closes off and/or takes Vladivostok in Spring '42. OTL the Kwantung Army reached a peak strength of 1.1mil in '42. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantokuen ... triumphant

The Red Army had ~1mil in the East in early '42 but how many would have gone west if the Germans win a few more Taifun-style battles in Barbarossa? It's entirely feasible that Red Army forces would drop to 600-700k in Primorskiye, at which point Kwantung Army has 2:1 superiority. In that environment Japan can announce closure of Vladivostok to all U.S.-originating (or financed) goods without fear of the Red Army. Or it can actually invade Primorskiye. Hitler could prompt them to do so by conditioning Germany's declaration against America on Japan blockading or invading Vladivostok.
In 1942, with much of their offensive capabilities exhausted, their best formations decimated and their logistical support in shambles, they really needed to destoy Soviet formations very near to their logistical support
German logistics in '42 were better than in '41 - at least the railways, were which the most important factor.

The difference between '42 and '41 wasn't relative logistics but relative force ratios.: When the Germans were overstretched in '41 they still had rough numerical parity until December or so, then were outnumbered by ~40%. When overstretched in '42, however, the Ostheer was outnumbered >2:1. The supplies reaching Stalingrad per division were no worse than - probably better than - the supplies reaching AGC's front after Taifun.

German combat efficiency was sufficient to overcome a slight numerical disadvantage plus logistical problems, but couldn't overcome a massive numerical disadvantage plus logistical problems.
they really needed to destroy Soviet formations very near to their logistical support - their effective striking radius and the stiffened Soviet resistance made it clear. But they decided to push forward where the Soviets did not anticipate it, thus they captured territories they couldn't hold. Contrary to what Yuri wrote, the flexible defense worked perfectly well in the summer of 1942.
I agree that the Germans were stronger nearer their supply bases and I agree that they overreached in latter Blau. Instead of successive battles farther and farther from supplies, Blau III/IV should have been replaced by a shift of resources towards the Moscow or Leningrad axes with accompanying Kesselschlachten.

But don't understate the cost of "flexible defense." The agriculture lost during Blau contributed to famine conditions in the SU during '42-'44 that killed millions (as discussed in Hunger and War, which I've excerpted elsewhere) and certainly decreased Soviet worker productivity due to hunger/illness (unquantified/unquantifiable so far). The industrial and population losses were signficant as well. The Soviets evacuated tens of thousands of carloads of plant from Luhansk, Voronezh, Rostov and elsewhere during Blau and left much else behind.
So even if the Soviets retreat behind the Urals, the Axis stabilize the front at the A-A line by the end of 1942, it was an okay scenario for the Allies. If the Soviets escape with their armies and the Pacific route remains open, they would be able to field 50-100 divisions.
First, this assumes Vladivostok remains viable which, as discussed, is far from certain for a significantly-weaker SU.

Second, even a 100-division RKKA is a match for only ~40 German divisions. So Germany would have the option of screening the Eastern Front quite cheaply, which means D-Day is impossible unless the Wallies completely reorient their strategy to fielding a much-larger army. Alternatively, Germany could send ~60 divisions towards Novossibirsk, Karaganda, etc., whose capture leaves Soviet resources puny and the Eastern Front a rounding error in tabulating German commitments.

Third, with Baku and "Second Baku" (the oil area east of Saratov but west of the Urals) gone, where is Soviet fuel coming from?

Fourth, where are the Soviets growing food for their remaining population? They retain only ~1/4 of 1939 croplands so can support ~1/4 of 1939 population: ~42mil. Now the SU is a Spain-sized power.

Just as it's clear to us that Vladivostok would be the sine qua non of Soviet survival in this scenario, so would it be clear to the Germans and Japanese. Japan was desperate for Germany to end its eastern war and focus on the Wallies, attempting numerous times to broker a peace. In this scenario, Japan would clearly see its opportunity to reorient German war effort by ending Soviet viability via anti-Vladivostok action.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Avalancheon
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Avalancheon » 21 Aug 2020 03:38

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Aug 2020 04:51
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTION

Agricultural figures by region seem more difficult to find, at least for this non-Russian reader. Here's a table regarding the geographical distribution of Soviet grain production in 1974:

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https://www.nass.usda.gov/Education_and ... iction.pdf

ET is the European SU, AT is Asiatic. "Chernozem" refers to the fertile black-earth lands of the south.

As you can see with a little arithmetic, in 1974 land in Asiatic Russia had about 59% the yield, per acre, of land in the Chernozem ET.
Relative to the non-Chernozem ET, AT land had 69% of the yield or 31% lower.

The League of Nations book contains a means of calculating the distribution of sown Soviet land in 1939 by interpolation of two tables:

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It is very important to ascertain the agricultural productivity of the Soviet Union during WW2. The loss of arable land in the Ukraine and Kuban put them in a very difficult position with regards to food supplys. They lost millions of people to starvation.

Here are some relevant figures on grain production.

''There is no doubt that in 1940 Soviet agriculture had reached the point of expansion in grain acreage. The 1940 grain harvest was 118,800,000 metric tons, and the 1941 grain plan called for 129,500,00 metric tons on the same acreage as in 1940.''
Soviet Grain Production: 1940-1950, by V. Katkoff. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3159589?seq=1

''The next economic contraction occurred in 1941 and 1942. Obviously, it was related to the destruction caused by the war and temporary losses of territory (the Soviet statistics didn't account for economic output in the territories occuped by Germany). The agricultural sector was most heavily damaged: the livestock inventory dropped by 25% in 1941 and by 19% in 1942; grain production decreased 18% in 1941 and by 47% in 1942.''
Business Cycles in BRICS, by Sergey Smirnov.

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