The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
ljadw
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by ljadw » 30 Jan 2020 21:32

Peter89 wrote:
30 Jan 2020 17:45
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 16:04
Peter89 wrote:
30 Jan 2020 09:20
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 08:47

It was impossible for the Axis force in NA to go to Ethiopia through Sudan .
Why exactly?
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 08:47
\And to go to Ethiopia was only a wast of resources and of time ,besides the conquest of Sudan would not force Britain to give up .
For the ME : the Axis had not the resources to control the ME, and a control of the ME would not force Britain to give up .
How could Britain give up? Either if the Germans invade the Isles or if they cut off the imports.

The RAF and the air defense system was an impossibly hard nut to crack. The isles couldn't be invaded.

Cutting off the imports and control of the seas had to start somewhere; the Mediterraneum was a nice prize and its loss would be a major blow to the British morale. Unlike SU, Germany didn't need to occupy and fight millions of soldiers in the British colonies. It was a war that they could afford. Japan launched its offensive against European colonial possessions - with great effect. Had Germany done the same, instead of attacking its partner the SU, they clearly stood a better chance against the BE.
Sudan : the distance between Cairo and Khartoum is 1580 km,1580 km of desert and tropical jungle. Impossible to traverse by a mechanized army .
How to force Britain to give up ?
Invasion was impossible
Cutting off its imports was also impossible, besides it would risk to hasten US intervention .Besides,it would take too long .
There was no reason to dominate the Mediterranean,as the Italian DOW had already as result that the Mediterranean was no longer used for convoys to and from the east ,the convoys were going via Africa .
Japan launched its offensive against European colonies,because it had a big fleet and because this big fleet could operate in the Pacific .Germany had no big fleet and no Pacific .
What would have been the benefit for the Axis,if their forces were at the end of 1941 in Khartoum ?
The only ( very very small ) chance for the Germans was to eliminate the USSR, because Britain needed a lot of cannon fodder and only the SU could give this .
The only chance for a palace revolution in Whitehall and the replacement of Churchill by Hoare,was the arrival of the WM at the Volga in the Autumn of 1941 .
The distance doesn't matter because there was no major army formations in Africa at that time. East Africa Command was created in September 1941, by that time, the Axis could have taken control of the vital parts of Africa, thus strengthening the alliance with the Vichy and the French, and whatnot. The whole British garrison in Africa wasn't even the size of HGN in the SU. Conquering it would mean the possible exploitation of its resources. The pro-German Barry Hertzog was recently removed from office in South Africa, and the Vichy administration was in place. Why do you think the British bothered to take all these colonies from Axis rule as their first step against the Axis? Because it meant that the Axis can only lose without them, and because they were easy to conquer.

As for the ME, the British had to fight actual wars against freedom movements in Iraq, and later they invaded Syria and Lebanon. The outlook on the Indian ocean meant a wide range of strategical possibilities too. If you believe that taking the ME was impossible, you are clearly wrong. To occupy it could be costly, but to control it could be easy.

As for India, the Indian National Army fought against the British and the US supported them, that colony was on the verge of independence (which they achieved soon after the war).

As for the control of the Mediterran sea, it was a preliminary requisite for any invasions / trade in the direction of ME or Africa.

I bet that the British would not give up because a German unit saw some river in Eastern Europe. It is such a fantasy as taking Moscow = victory over the Soviets.
Distance is decisive : how do you supply a motorised army over a distance of 158o km , not counting the distance from the Rurh/northern Italy to Cairo via Libya ?
It could not be done .It would take several months for a ton of supplies to go from Germany/Italy to Khartum and several months for the trucks/trains/ships who transported the supplies to Khartum,to arrive back in Italy/Germany .
The British 'bothered '' to take (NOT the Axis ) but the Italian colonies (Libya and Ethiopia ) because it was the only place where they could fight the Axis ( better :Italy ) in 1940,and because they had in 1940 not the forces to invade southern Europe .
There was no freedom movement in Iraq,and the revolt was immediately crushed .
Britain invaded Syria and Libanon because it feared,wrongly, that these territories would join the Axis .
What strategic possibilities would give the outlook on the Indian Ocean ?
The Indian National Army was formed in August 1942, thus irrelevant for the period we discuss, and its military value was very marginal .
The Axis had not the forces, not the resources to conquer the ME ,to conquer Turkey,the Levant, Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Palestine, KSA, Yemen, Aden, the Gulf States. Besides, there was nothing of any valy in the ME for the Axis .
To conquer the ME the Axis would need more than 70 divisions and thousands of aircraft, but these divisions could not operate in the ME, neither could they be supplied .

ljadw
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by ljadw » 30 Jan 2020 21:47

Peter89 wrote:
30 Jan 2020 20:34
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
30 Jan 2020 19:58

In short, it was impossible for Germany to win the war by focusing solely on Britain. Since it was also impossible for Germany to conquer the Soviet Union, that means it was impossible for Germany to win the war.
Yes, the war was folly to begin with. One huge gamble was won against France, and let's be honest... no one would have said it was possible if Germany sued for peace in 1939.

A victory of normal scale was not enough, either way. They needed a miracle once again, we are just discussing the options. In my opinion, the war against the SU carried zero chance of such a miracle. And they needed another after that, to defeat the British Empire. The war against the BE (which was ongoing anyway), or to do nothing, just exist as a defensive army-in-being could have made more sense.

Long story short, to win the war against the BE needed a miracle,
but to win the war against the BE by invading the SU needed a miracle on the square.
Germany had lost all chance when at the end of 1940,Britain said that it would continue the war .
The Germans knew that a Deus ex Machina, a miracle would be needed to defeat the Soviets, but they convinced themselves that this would happen, which is a normal reaction : no one will start a war and say : we will lose him .
That to start the war in 1939 was a folly, yes, but it was inevitable .

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Peter89 » 30 Jan 2020 22:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:22
Thanks for the clarifications. My interpretation of your positions was ungenerous; I hope you'll understand it was based on a partial view of your paradigm and the ungenerous interpretation is all too commonly held.
No problem :milwink:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:22
Given that you seem to agree Germany could not have defeated Britain quickly, and that victory over the SU had at least a military chance, I don't see why invasion of the SU isn't the only shot.
Simply put, it was too costly. And because the SU was Germany's main trading partner anyway. They almost became allies a few months before...
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:22
I also think that the Soviet Union could have been defeated by military means. But it would also mean that the war was 100% surely lost for Germany.
I'd challenge you articulate why, exactly, any victory over the SU would imply 100% certainty of defeat for Germany.
Because we cannot imagine Axis units and resources out of thin air. They had to be drawn from somewhere else - and that means, every other options to defeat the BE should be neglected or abandoned. And if those options are abandoned, then by the time the SU got defeated - let's say in a two years campaign -, the Wallies mobilized their forces, crushed the Japanese, etc., so game over.

The SU might be knocked out of war - like in WW1 -, but the war was lost. It didn't matter in March 1918 and it wouldn't have mattered in 1944.

In my opinion, the same goes for WW1 too: even if the Kaiserschlacht is won by the Germans and they push out the Wallies from the continent, even if the whole Italian peninsula is lost... the war was lost. The Central Powers exhausted themselves and the US began to land troops in Europe, so no chance to win.

In fact the Germans / Central Powers had a better chance to win WW1 than WW2.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:22
I don't have my books with me at the moment so I can't give page-cites, but IMO you're wrong about the costs of occupying the SU. As I said upthread, the historical ratios show that only ~500k soldiers would have been required to occupy 2/3 of the SU's population (let the rest stay in Asia). These needn't have been valuable soldiers. And the actual amount would have been far less, as partisan resistance would have collapsed with the defeat of the SU. If you're interested, I can dig up cites later.
When Hitler began to rave about the invasion of the SU, Georg Thomas drew up two different paths once again: if you put all our resources for one card, you better to be sure that the math will work. If the Soviet stockpiles, industry and whatnot could be taken intact and with minimal losses, only then could Barbarossa pay the dividends Hitler had hoped for. Even then, the population had to be starved out (Hunger Plan).
This is a false dichotomy. Hitler was obviously wrong to believe the SU would kindly surrender its plant and infrastructure intact but Thomas was wrong to argue that this was required. The Germans did extract a lot from the SU - fed its entire army, got millions of laborers, most of its manganese, a critical portion of iron ore. By 1943 Germany was poised to see a big uptick in production from western Donets and Dnipropetrovsk. They lost these areas to the SU just before this came to fruition (that's the reason for Hitler's counterproductive insistence that Manstein hold his line as opposed to flexible defense).
Yes, the Germans could drain a lot of resources and stockpiles from the SU, but the cost was simply too high. I am not talking about the bread and vodka of the occupation forces; I am talking about the cost in battle. If Germany could build a synthetic fuel plant for 10m RM, and capture an oil well in the Caucasus for 20m RM worth of lost military equipment, it simply doesn't worth it. What the Germans really lacked could have been obtained by another strategy; eg. a few ores like tungsten and manganese could have been more cheaply obtained from Portugal, Spain and Hungary, because the ores and mines were there.
“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 Peter89 » 30 Jan 2020 22:49

ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32

Distance is decisive : how do you supply a motorised army over a distance of 158o km , not counting the distance from the Rurh/northern Italy to Cairo via Libya ?
It could not be done .It would take several months for a ton of supplies to go from Germany/Italy to Khartum and several months for the trucks/trains/ships who transported the supplies to Khartum,to arrive back in Italy/Germany .

There was no freedom movement in Iraq,and the revolt was immediately crushed .
Britain invaded Syria and Libanon because it feared,wrongly, that these territories would join the Axis .

To conquer the ME the Axis would need more than 70 divisions and thousands of aircraft, but these divisions could not operate in the ME, neither could they be supplied .
Are you aware of the size of the colonial garrisons, ljdaw?
Hardly the 70 divisions and thousands of aircrafts you talk about.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The Axis had not the forces, not the resources to conquer the ME ,to conquer Turkey,the Levant, Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Palestine, KSA, Yemen, Aden, the Gulf States. Besides, there was nothing of any valy in the ME for the Axis .
Yes, hahhaha. But they had the resources to counquer the SU from Leningrad to the Caucasus.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The Indian National Army was formed in August 1942, thus irrelevant for the period we discuss, and its military value was very marginal .
It was formed then and there because the Japanese troops got there around that time. Had the German troops got there before, it would formed up earlier.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
What strategic possibilities would give the outlook on the Indian Ocean ?
Attacking British shipping maybe? Link up with the Japanese?
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The British 'bothered '' to take (NOT the Axis ) but the Italian colonies (Libya and Ethiopia ) because it was the only place where they could fight the Axis ( better :Italy ) in 1940,and because they had in 1940 not the forces to invade southern Europe .
The British attacked Vichy French possessions as well; other Axis powers did not have colonies. So yes, they attacked colonies first, thus eliminating the chance to form a colonial background for the Axis economy. Btw Madagascar was attacked in mid-1942.
“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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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Jan 2020 23:02

Peter89 wrote:Because we cannot imagine Axis units and resources out of thin air. They had to be drawn from somewhere else - and that means, every other options to defeat the BE should be neglected or abandoned. And if those options are abandoned, then by the time the SU got defeated - let's say in a two years campaign -, the Wallies mobilized their forces, crushed the Japanese, etc., so game over.
This doesn't reflect a deep engagement with the issues I raise. I don't mean that as an insult - it's a time-consuming process and not interesting if you come at it from the prevailing perspective that Germany was doomed.

Sufficient resources to provide a deep underpinning of Barbarossa were easily available. What happened historically is that Germany cut its army programs in summer '41 but had to immediately reverse those cuts that winter. In the intervening months practically nothing was gained from the army cuts - investment programs have longer time horizons than a few months.
Meanwhile, the failure adequately to prepare for Barbarossa caused a rail crisis in winter '41-42 that tanked the entire German economy, including LW and KM production.
Germany could have had more resources for everything (planes, ships, armies) had it properly invested in Barbarossa. There literally need not have been a tradeoff at all from the viewpoint of 1942 (though some tradeoff in 1941).
I've seen very few analysts properly trace what is obvious to me: accounting for lost production in late '41/42, the "cheap Barbarossa" cost more than would have a better-supplied Barbarossa.

In addition, as HistoryGeek and I have laid out in many threads, trading LW production (two-engine bombers) for more army production would have enabled a doubling of army weapons for a ~30% decrease in bomber production. The Ostheer didn't need double the weapons to win, 20% more would have sufficed.
Peter89 wrote:Yes, the Germans could drain a lot of resources and stockpiles from the SU, but the cost was simply too high. I am not talking about the bread and vodka of the occupation forces; I am talking about the cost in battle. If Germany could build a synthetic fuel plant for 10m RM, and capture an oil well in the Caucasus for 20m RM worth of lost military equipment, it simply doesn't worth it.
Again I don't think this is a deep engagement with the issues and I don't mean that as an insult. Most of the world's smartest historians align with this view. But I think it's wrong.

At the broadest level and as HistoryGeek has already pointed out, no Barbarossa doesn't mean freeing up all army expenditures. Germany still has the world's largest army on its eastern border, it knew the SU was engaged in a massive military buildup, watching that border would have required at least 100 divisions or 2/3's of the historical Barbarossa force. By the time you get to 1944 or so, Hitler would have needed closer to 200 divisions to ensure security.

The oil issue is bigger than you paint it. Synth plants took up ~15% of Germany's electricity, a similar portion of its coal, and occupied an entire industry whose fertilizer production could otherwise have significantly increased European agricultural production. Food supplied to those coal miners (the most food-intensive industry by far), along with their labor, could have been repurposed or the coal and electricity could have gone to myriad other productive uses. A barrel of synth gas cost ~10x a barrel of oil.

In terms of the cost in men, that's often exaggerated. Germany had 175k dead in 1941, hardly a war-breaker. Had the Ostheer possessed sufficient replacements and logistics to destroy the Soviet winter offensives quickly, they would have avoided most of the winter casualties, including frostbite casualties caused by the winter clothing being stuck in Poland (the quartermaster ordered this equipment contrary to Hitler's orders - a fact not always known). The '42 Ostheer hit a nadir of personnel strength it didn't see again until 1944 due to Barbarossa's bad planning, nontheless it smashed 8-10 Soviet armies in Blau, took enough agricultural land to push the SU to the brink of starvation, and damaged the economy sufficiently to push SU's coal and steel production below Japan's in 1942. A well-planned Barbarossa should have taken Moscow and most of the Blau-lands in '41. Combined with loss of the Volga basin and Caucasus in '42 the SU would have sought peace or starved to death.

It was a close-run affair even after Barbarossa failed and even after 1942 Germany was able to replace its combat losses for '43.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

ljadw
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by ljadw » 31 Jan 2020 09:42

Peter89 wrote:
30 Jan 2020 22:49
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32

Distance is decisive : how do you supply a motorised army over a distance of 158o km , not counting the distance from the Rurh/northern Italy to Cairo via Libya ?
It could not be done .It would take several months for a ton of supplies to go from Germany/Italy to Khartum and several months for the trucks/trains/ships who transported the supplies to Khartum,to arrive back in Italy/Germany .

There was no freedom movement in Iraq,and the revolt was immediately crushed .
Britain invaded Syria and Libanon because it feared,wrongly, that these territories would join the Axis .

To conquer the ME the Axis would need more than 70 divisions and thousands of aircraft, but these divisions could not operate in the ME, neither could they be supplied .
Are you aware of the size of the colonial garrisons, ljdaw?
Hardly the 70 divisions and thousands of aircrafts you talk about.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The Axis had not the forces, not the resources to conquer the ME ,to conquer Turkey,the Levant, Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Palestine, KSA, Yemen, Aden, the Gulf States. Besides, there was nothing of any valy in the ME for the Axis .
Yes, hahhaha. But they had the resources to counquer the SU from Leningrad to the Caucasus.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The Indian National Army was formed in August 1942, thus irrelevant for the period we discuss, and its military value was very marginal .
It was formed then and there because the Japanese troops got there around that time. Had the German troops got there before, it would formed up earlier.
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
What strategic possibilities would give the outlook on the Indian Ocean ?
Attacking British shipping maybe? Link up with the Japanese?
ljadw wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:32
The British 'bothered '' to take (NOT the Axis ) but the Italian colonies (Libya and Ethiopia ) because it was the only place where they could fight the Axis ( better :Italy ) in 1940,and because they had in 1940 not the forces to invade southern Europe .
The British attacked Vichy French possessions as well; other Axis powers did not have colonies. So yes, they attacked colonies first, thus eliminating the chance to form a colonial background for the Axis economy. Btw Madagascar was attacked in mid-1942.
The Italians could not attack British shipping in the Indian Ocean .
The Indian National Army was formed from Indian soldiers who were taken POW in Burma by Japan and preferred to volunteer to fight against Britain ( what they did not ) than to die in Japanese custody . As it was excluded that an Italian-German Army would advance in Pakistan in 1942, there would be no Indian National Army fighting for the Germans : the Ukrainian and Vlassov forces also did not fight on the Eastern front .
About the 70 Axis divisions that would be needed to conquer the ME : it is wrong to compare these forces with the British occupation forces in the ME .The conquest of Turkey alone would demand a force of more than 20 divisions and how would the Axis conquer KSA that was mainly desert without a decent transport system ?
And the Axis would need big garrisons to protect their conquests against British attacks .
Before the war, Britain did not occupy Turkey ,KSA and Yemen, because there was no need for it . But there would be a need for the Axis to occupy Turkey, KSA and Yemen .
Before the war British garrisons in the ME were small ,because there was no foreign power that could threaten British domination in the ME. But that would not be the case for the Axis .
Last point : the ME was irrelevant for the Axis economy,and also for the British economy .

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Aida1 » 31 Jan 2020 10:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 23:02
Peter89 wrote:Because we cannot imagine Axis units and resources out of thin air. They had to be drawn from somewhere else - and that means, every other options to defeat the BE should be neglected or abandoned. And if those options are abandoned, then by the time the SU got defeated - let's say in a two years campaign -, the Wallies mobilized their forces, crushed the Japanese, etc., so game over.
This doesn't reflect a deep engagement with the issues I raise. I don't mean that as an insult - it's a time-consuming process and not interesting if you come at it from the prevailing perspective that Germany was doomed.

Sufficient resources to provide a deep underpinning of Barbarossa were easily available. What happened historically is that Germany cut its army programs in summer '41 but had to immediately reverse those cuts that winter. In the intervening months practically nothing was gained from the army cuts - investment programs have longer time horizons than a few months.
Meanwhile, the failure adequately to prepare for Barbarossa caused a rail crisis in winter '41-42 that tanked the entire German economy, including LW and KM production.
Germany could have had more resources for everything (planes, ships, armies) had it properly invested in Barbarossa. There literally need not have been a tradeoff at all from the viewpoint of 1942 (though some tradeoff in 1941).
I've seen very few analysts properly trace what is obvious to me: accounting for lost production in late '41/42, the "cheap Barbarossa" cost more than would have a better-supplied Barbarossa.

In addition, as HistoryGeek and I have laid out in many threads, trading LW production (two-engine bombers) for more army production would have enabled a doubling of army weapons for a ~30% decrease in bomber production. The Ostheer didn't need double the weapons to win, 20% more would have sufficed.
Peter89 wrote:Yes, the Germans could drain a lot of resources and stockpiles from the SU, but the cost was simply too high. I am not talking about the bread and vodka of the occupation forces; I am talking about the cost in battle. If Germany could build a synthetic fuel plant for 10m RM, and capture an oil well in the Caucasus for 20m RM worth of lost military equipment, it simply doesn't worth it.
Again I don't think this is a deep engagement with the issues and I don't mean that as an insult. Most of the world's smartest historians align with this view. But I think it's wrong.

At the broadest level and as HistoryGeek has already pointed out, no Barbarossa doesn't mean freeing up all army expenditures. Germany still has the world's largest army on its eastern border, it knew the SU was engaged in a massive military buildup, watching that border would have required at least 100 divisions or 2/3's of the historical Barbarossa force. By the time you get to 1944 or so, Hitler would have needed closer to 200 divisions to ensure security.

The oil issue is bigger than you paint it. Synth plants took up ~15% of Germany's electricity, a similar portion of its coal, and occupied an entire industry whose fertilizer production could otherwise have significantly increased European agricultural production. Food supplied to those coal miners (the most food-intensive industry by far), along with their labor, could have been repurposed or the coal and electricity could have gone to myriad other productive uses. A barrel of synth gas cost ~10x a barrel of oil.

In terms of the cost in men, that's often exaggerated. Germany had 175k dead in 1941, hardly a war-breaker. Had the Ostheer possessed sufficient replacements and logistics to destroy the Soviet winter offensives quickly, they would have avoided most of the winter casualties, including frostbite casualties caused by the winter clothing being stuck in Poland (the quartermaster ordered this equipment contrary to Hitler's orders - a fact not always known). The '42 Ostheer hit a nadir of personnel strength it didn't see again until 1944 due to Barbarossa's bad planning, nontheless it smashed 8-10 Soviet armies in Blau, took enough agricultural land to push the SU to the brink of starvation, and damaged the economy sufficiently to push SU's coal and steel production below Japan's in 1942. A well-planned Barbarossa should have taken Moscow and most of the Blau-lands in '41. Combined with loss of the Volga basin and Caucasus in '42 the SU would have sought peace or starved to death.

It was a close-run affair even after Barbarossa failed and even after 1942 Germany was able to replace its combat losses for '43.
You are suffering from too much hindsight and ignoring certain facts. With the information available at the time one did honestly think the USSR could be defeated in 1941. If you had been there at the time as a German officer, you would have had the same conviction. Where replacing the losses is concerned, you are ignoring that the loss of experienced officers and NCO's cannot be compensated and has consequences on qualIty. You would be hard put to prove that German divisions were at 100 % combatstrength in 1943.
Where doing better is concerned, it is more important to look at a better operational plan with the information available then.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by Max Payload » 31 Jan 2020 11:23

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Jan 2020 23:02

The '42 Ostheer ... smashed 8-10 Soviet armies in Blau, took enough agricultural land to push the SU to the brink of starvation, and damaged the economy sufficiently to push SU's coal and steel production below Japan's in 1942.

It was a close-run affair even after Barbarossa failed
I wonder, then, what the Japanese did with all their steel in 1942. Because what the Soviets did was produce 5.91 million small arms (excluding handguns) which compares with 1.76 million in 1941.
They produced 24,400 tanks compared to 4,700 the previous year.
They produced 287,000 guns and mortars compared to 53,600 in 1941.
And they produced 21,700 combat aircraft, up from 8,200 the previous year.
And, while recognising the level of privation experienced by the civil population, if the SU really was close to collapse due to starvation, why did the GKO not request a dramatic shift in Lend-Lease tonnage away from war materiel and towards foodstuffs?

What the Red Army achieved in the winter of 1942/43 is evidence enough that it was never a close-run affair, and it would have required an inordinate degree of incompetence on the part of Stavka for it ever to have been so.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 31 Jan 2020 17:02

From a cost/benefit point of view, the two key questions relevant for analyzing a German "Russia first" strategy are (1) would Germany need to devote more resources to militarily safeguarding the east with or without an invasion of Russia and (2) would Germany obtain more resources (raw materials and slave laborers) with or without an invasion of Russia?

Starting with the first question, we can safely say that Germany would need to keep significant military forces deployed in Finland, Poland and Romania if there were no invasion of Russia, because Stalin had made it clear that he was going to use Germany's war with the Allies as an opportunity to expand into the Balkans and the Baltic. While these defensive forces would be less than the forces needed to carry out an invasion, the real question is what sort of forces Germany would need to deploy in Russia in the aftermath of a successful invasion.

If we take Germany's occupation forces after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk as a starting point, Germany would need at least 1 million occupying soldiers in the east after "defeating" the Soviet Union. But the occupied territory envisaged by Hitler was much larger than that acquired during WW1. If we go with the AA Line, that is a vastly larger front than Germany would have to defend if it stayed in Poland and Romania. A German occupation of the Caucasus would also open up another front against Commonwealth and eventually American forces in Persia.

We can expect whatever regime survives in Russia after negotiating a "peace" with Germany to continue to be hostile to Germany because its sole source of economic aid will be from the USA through Vladivostok. Since we are talking about the long-long term (post-1945), we are looking at a world where Japan is defeated and the USA and Allied forces can funnel unlimited aid through Vladivostok, Korea and Manchuria to Russia. We even have to consider that the Allies would intervene to decisively end the Chinese civil war so that the whole of eastern Asia could be issued as a base to put pressure on Germany from the east.

TheMarcksPlan in other posts has proposed that the unoccupied Soviet Union could be reduced to a population of 40 million people. But that was the size of France in 1939, and France certainly posed an existential threat to Germany. Here we would have an unoccupied Soviet Union that is in the pocket of the USA and would be determined to retake its stolen lands and liberate its people. Combine that with an Allied build-up in Persia and the casualties Germany would incur in all this fighting, and I don't see how Germany comes out ahead in an invasion.

As for resources, I would note that Germany extracted few resources from the USSR in the OTL, aside from Manganese. Mark Harrison in The Economics of WW2 points out that Germany extracted far more resources from Western Europe than it ever did from the Soviet Union. As for oil, the Allies could easily set up air bases in Persia a few hundred kilometers away that would turn Baku into a giant crater by the time Germany was ever able to construct the infrastructure necessary to get the oil across the Caucasus mountains and another 2000 kilometers back to Germany.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2020 19:40

One of the reasons I started the meta thread is that we (collective, but also you and I) tend to go back and forth on the same issues. It would be good to put some of them to rest in a central location, like this one:
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:If we take Germany's occupation forces after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk as a starting point, Germany would need at least 1 million occupying soldiers
I cannot understand why you insist on measuring WW2 security standards by WW1 analogy (other than confirmation bias). We know the approximate strength of OTL German security forces in '43 was 200-250k (see attachment).

Given that Ostheer occupied roughly Brest-Litovsk territory in '43, and given that WW2 is WW2 and not WW1 it seems glaringly obvious that occupation forces were lower in WW2.

Taking the rest of European SU roughly doubles the population and therefore the forces required assuming constant partisan activity per capita (way too generous an assumption if the SU surrenders and/or collapses and/or is driven into irrelevance).

If that empirical evidence is somehow unconvincing, just consider:

-after BL the Kaiser was trying, basically, to reconquer lands from newly-proclaimed republics, to keep the peace among these professed/actual polities, and/or to supervise civil wars (the 1918-23ish history of Eastern Europe is horrifying and fascinating swirl of chaos). Not true in 1942.

-Military technology favors regular armies over irregular (if the regular are ruthless). In Roman times you just have men pick up their swords and presto - there's a new emperor/king/state. By WW1 a million soldiers could reasonably keep the peace over 80mil; by WW2 occupation was significantly easier (motorization, mortars, LMG's, air power, wireless comms to direct all this capability).

I'll address some of your other points later, though I may move my response to the meta thread so the next time these points arise I'll know where I've already answered.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2020 19:53

Max Payload wrote:Because what the Soviets did
Yeah I've heard of wikipedia too. What does this have to with my point?
What the Red Army achieved in the winter of 1942/43 is evidence enough that it was never a close-run affair
The Soviets won so it wasn't close?
, if the SU really was close to collapse due to starvation, why did the GKO not request a dramatic shift in Lend-Lease
Before I spend time on an answer, are you saying that Soviets were not on the brink of starvation?
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 31 Jan 2020 20:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
31 Jan 2020 19:40

I cannot understand why you insist on measuring WW2 security standards by WW1 analogy (other than confirmation bias).
And I don't know why you resort to ad hominems whenever anyone disagrees with you.

The "rear area" in the OTL was only a portion of the relatively small overall occupied area of the Soviet Union. You are the one proposing that Germany would occupy a vastly larger area (up to the Urals), so we are looking at some multiple of this figure for rear area guard duty alone.

By the way, what is the actual source for the "250 thousand" figure?

In any event, Germany would need more than just anti-partisan forces following a "victory" over the Soviet Union. Germany would still need a sizeable frontline force facing the unoccupied Soviet Union and the Allies in Persia.

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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2020 20:50

HistoryGeek2019 wrote: I don't know why you resort to ad hominems whenever anyone disagrees with you
What was ad hominem? Cranky maybe but not ad hom.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 31 Jan 2020 21:07

...source was "Threat to the rear: real or myth" from U.S. army studies iirc. Google for the pdf, could only copy the search link which is 9 pages long.

I don't think the area is what matters. It's population. In any event, when I'm not typing on my phone I'll do a longer reply regarding a post-collapse partisan force and its size/efficacy. Have you considered the impact of morale, distance from supply, and strategic coordination on your prediction of partisan impact? Besides the pdf I cited, there are numerous studies discussing how the partisans became more effective only via support/supply from the RKKA. Obviously that vanishes - largely- if Stalin makes peace.

Likewise you don't need much of a frontline if Stalin makes peace.
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Re: The State of the OstHeer - May 1942

Post by hambubger » 31 Jan 2020 22:10

I've learned something from just about every post in this thread, so nice job to everyone. I'm also new in this forum, so forgive me if I state anything overly obvious or redundant in other threads. A few things to consider when regarding the overall state of the OstHeer...

80% of the Wehrmacht's logistics/transportation was horse-driven. By the middle of the war, roughly in 1943 (which is a year after the specific timeline in this thread), only 52 of 322 divisions (overall, not just the eastern front) were armored/motorized. I'm not sure if 1942 would have had many differenced with this, considering the Germans had been capturing a lot of Allied vehicles (ie Ford trucks, which controversial author Leon DeGrelle mentioned in his books about the eastern front).

From a weather perspective, May would have been experiencing a decent amount of rainfall and mud, although not nearly to the extent of the muck encountered in the fall and very early spring. This factor would have significantly hampered logistics efforts. By June and July, the logistical ability would have likely improved compared to May. Does anyone have any insight on this?

As some other posters had mentioned ancient armies, one way to calculate and verify ancient army-size claims was to calculate the amount of crops that the given area could have provided. For example, in Alexander's day, crop production was estimated through land mass/fertility analysis in campaign areas. To tie this back to WW2, horses were clearly dependent on being able to be locally fed off the land, which therefore made the majority of logistics for ancient armies highly dependent on local grasses and agriculture. This is a major reason why ancient European armies, such as Rome, would only campaign during warm weather originally.
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