A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

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Boby
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A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

Post by Boby » 10 Oct 2017 16:20

I'm rereading von Manstein memoirs section for 1943-44 events. Page after page he critized Hitler for failing to give up territory voluntarily and shorten the front. THis also has been proposed by the OKH (Zeitzler/Hesuinger) in the fall of 1943.

It would have changed the overall picture on the East? They were good and logicall arguments.

Some points for the Hitler POV.

1) It short the german front, but also the Soviet (not always mentioned). That means that the Ostheer have more density per km, BUT also the enemy when they are attacking (with more tanks, artillery and soldiers). And they have the upper hand.

2) There were economic-political considerations for holding territory. Manstein was only interested in the operational side of the war. Hitler needed to take into account all of them.

3) It "tied" up Soviet forces along a much broader front (see point 1).

4) They gained time (there was an enemy in the West to defeat).

Comments, corrections welcome :milwink:

NBrotz
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Re: A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

Post by NBrotz » 10 Oct 2017 22:13

Well first off, when does the point of divergence begin? If it begins after Zitadelle, then no work has been done on any rear defensive line. Even if Heeresgruppe Nord began a withdrawal from Leningrad immediately, this wouldn't free up enough forces for Heeresgruppe Süd to hold the historical Wotan Line. Granted, Von Manstein might've had a chance of snuffing out Soviet bridgeheads on the Dnieper, but he needed more forces. These forces could've only been acquired by abandoning the southernmost portion of the Wotan Line. This means no Donbass coal, no delusions of grandeur about a second invasion of the Caucasus, and the acceptance that the Soviets will have "an unsinkable aircraft carrier" from which to bomb the Romanian oil fields.

Keeping in mind, 17.Armee was still holding the Kuban bridgehead until October 1943. Unless they were going to evacuate Crimea by sea as they did OTL, Von Kleist must hold the area between the Dneiper Bend at Zaporozhe and Melitopol at the Sea of Azov, while 17.Armee retreats across the Kerch Straits and then across the Isthmus of Perekop. If this retrograde movement isn't started early enough, German forces will be stretched too thin. This means, as OTL, the Dnieper Line will be compromised, a massive gap known as the Wehrmachtsloch will form between Von Kluge's and Von Manstein's army groups, and Von Kleist's army group will be pushed toward the Southern Bug.

Meanwhile, a withdrawal to the Dvina is a complete non-starter for Hitler. Even after the start of Bagration, the combined efforts of Göring, Schörner, Model, Zeitzler, and Frießner could not get him to budge.
Here are the following reasons:
  • Loss of Estonian oil shale.
  • Loss of Swedish steel.
  • Loss of Finnish nickel; likely loss of Finnish alliance as a whole (if Dietl's death is butterflied away, maybe Hitler feels better about the situation).
  • Loss of U-boat bases (this was Dönitz's main argument).
  • Loss of minefield blockade in the Gulf of Finland; Soviet submarines break out into the Baltic Sea.

However, Hitler was willing to accept a withdrawal to the Panther Line, from Narva, Lakes Peipus & Pskov, down the Velikaya River. Yet, even permission for this couldn't take place until January 1944. Meanwhile, Heeresgruppe Mitte lost its entire section of the Wotan Line and only held onto a small portion of the Dneiper between Orsha and Mogilev.

In short, the Dvina was absolutely unacceptable for political-economic reasons, and the Dnieper was likely already doomed unless radical policy changes are introduced in spring 1943.

jesk
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Re: A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

Post by jesk » 12 Oct 2017 07:45

Reducing the front increased the number of reserves. Already the Germans could, maneuvering along the front, find weaknesses in the defense of the enemy. With Hitler they did not have the opportunity to create numerical superiority over the enemy.

Boby
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Re: A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

Post by Boby » 12 Oct 2017 11:05

jesk wrote:Reducing the front increased the number of reserves. Already the Germans could, maneuvering along the front, find weaknesses in the defense of the enemy. With Hitler they did not have the opportunity to create numerical superiority over the enemy.
As I said in my OP, It also increased the number of Soviet reserves (still more). Look at the estimation of balance of forces in July 1943:

https://books.google.es/books?id=rAlNsm ... &q&f=false

And now the german losses for 1943
https://web.archive.org/web/20160813182 ... dec43.html

And, remember, that the RA could attack along the ENTIRE front. In November, Manstein demanded a) shorten the front (abandoning Crimea, the Dnieper curve (=Nikopol bridgehead and Zaporoshje) b) give us more mobile divisions (from Army Group Centre) c) place them in the northern wing (4. Pz.Armee)

See the situation at the time (Lage Ost: 12.11.1943)
http://www.gutenberg-e.org/esk01/maps/L ... 43b_lg.jpg

This is not the old POV, that the germans were always superior to the Soviets, and they were defeated by the foolish interference of the idiot Hitler? :roll:

What numerical superiority are you talking about? :o

jesk
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Re: A german retreat to the Dvina-Dnieper line after Zitadelle

Post by jesk » 12 Oct 2017 20:33

Boby wrote:
jesk wrote:Reducing the front increased the number of reserves. Already the Germans could, maneuvering along the front, find weaknesses in the defense of the enemy. With Hitler they did not have the opportunity to create numerical superiority over the enemy.
As I said in my OP, It also increased the number of Soviet reserves (still more). Look at the estimation of balance of forces in July 1943:

https://books.google.es/books?id=rAlNsm ... &q&f=false

And now the german losses for 1943
https://web.archive.org/web/20160813182 ... dec43.html

And, remember, that the RA could attack along the ENTIRE front. In November, Manstein demanded a) shorten the front (abandoning Crimea, the Dnieper curve (=Nikopol bridgehead and Zaporoshje) b) give us more mobile divisions (from Army Group Centre) c) place them in the northern wing (4. Pz.Armee)

See the situation at the time (Lage Ost: 12.11.1943)
http://www.gutenberg-e.org/esk01/maps/L ... 43b_lg.jpg

This is not the old POV, that the germans were always superior to the Soviets, and they were defeated by the foolish interference of the idiot Hitler? :roll:

What numerical superiority are you talking about? :o
I talked about the number of divisions at one point. At 100 km front there can be 10 divisions in line and 3 in reserve. This is if the divisions are 13. If the divisions 40, 30 can be in several echelons collected on a section of 20 km.

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