Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

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EKB
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Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by EKB » 08 May 2020 08:11

https://history.army.mil/html/books/104 ... _104-7.pdf

The historical study at the supplied link has interesting answers for the parade of What-if threads about a German victory over Russia in 1941. The lead author was Burkhart Müller-Hillebrand, adjutant to General Franz Halder in 1942. Later he was appointed to command Panzer Regiment 24.

The subject is maintenance of tanks and the authors underscore important lessons about why Germany’s panzer units ground to a halt in 1941. Soviet military action played the starring role, but as Müller-Hillebrand explained there was no quick fix to Germany’s poor planning for a long war.

Supply lines were overextended when the autumn mud season set in. Most of the roads became impassable for wheeled vehicles. The Russian railroad network was not sufficient to support long-range panzer operations. The backlog of damaged tanks could not be repaired for shortage of spares, nor could they be evacuated to Germany or Austria for restoration under the centralized maintenance system, which soon collapsed.

German Army logistics and moving to a new, decentralized tank maintenance system was not greatly improved until the summer of 1942. But even then training, standardization and supply was not considered to be adequate. Finally, the authors highlight the politics of armament as it pertained to manufacturing. German industry was not able to furnish enough vehicles and enough spare parts at the same time. As time passed these problems worsened as a bewildering number of types entered the supply chain. More importantly it was too late for Germany to reverse the change in momentum that favored the Red Army.

It’s a quick read but very informative.

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by OpanaPointer » 08 May 2020 11:53

I've read that the Rus mixed kerosene with their lube oil so their vehicles would start when General Winter ruled the battlefield.
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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by Art » 08 May 2020 12:12

EKB wrote:
08 May 2020 08:11
The Russian railroad network was not sufficient to support long-range panzer operations.
Let's put it in more accurate terms: German utilization and maintenance of railroads in 1941 campaign was deficient. Railroads handled much larger traffic later.
Supply lines were overextended when the autumn mud season set in. Most of the roads became impassable for wheeled vehicles.
Which ended with onset of cold weather in November. Moreover, the effect of season was not as uniform as the common perception suggests. In the region north of Moscow the effect was generally limited in magnitude and duration. See "Was it the mud?" article by Radey and Sharp for more details.

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by Hikari » 09 May 2020 02:48

There should be many definitions of defeat. I personally think that even if Moscow is captured, the war will not end at the time, but Russia ’s war effort will be greatly affected (decreased).

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by EKB » 09 May 2020 07:59

Art wrote:
08 May 2020 12:12
EKB wrote:
08 May 2020 08:11
The Russian railroad network was not sufficient to support long-range panzer operations.
Let's put it in more accurate terms: German utilization and maintenance of railroads in 1941 campaign was deficient. Railroads handled much larger traffic later.

I'm no expert about German railway practice so I'll defer to your knowledge. The passage below is about General Georg Thomas, head of the Defence Economy and Armament Office at OKW. The article suggests he had misgivings about use of Russian railroads for the 1941 invasion. Is that unfounded or not accurate?

" In 1939, he became head of the Defence Economy and Armament Office in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW). He was a member of the board of Kontinentale Öl AG (an oil company whose purpose was to exploit petroleum resources in occupied countries) as well as Reichswerke Hermann Göring, a major iron and steel company.

Thomas, who since 1940 had been a General of Infantry recognized early on that Germany's ability to wage a lengthy war was limited by the state of its economy. When the threat of war with the Western Powers loomed great in the wake of Hitler's bold political moves to secure the Austrian Anschluß, the acquisition of the Sudetenland, and then with the impending Blitzkrieg into Poland awaiting the German General Staff, Thomas produced an extensive report for Hitler assessing the risks. Thomas' analysis was replete with graphics and statistics demonstrating the military-economic superiority of the Western Powers, at which Hitler balked and exclaimed that, "he did not share General Thomas' anxiety over the danger of a world war, especially since he had now got the Soviet Union on his side" (consequent the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). Not only was Thomas worried about an attack provoking the British and French but so were Generals von Brauchitsch, Colonel-General Halder, and Quartermaster General von Stülpnagel, yet Hitler refused to countenance any delays or reluctance from his military staff about his plans and more earnestly pushed forward the attack despite their sound arguments otherwise.

During the planning phase of Operation Barbarossa, General Thomas' pragmatic and realistic nature once again gripped him as he thought a full-scale war with the Soviet Union should be delayed until the logistical concerns were remedied. Along said lines, Thomas informed Colonel-General Franz Halder, then Chief of the OKH General Staff, that the attack on the Soviet Union would experience logistical delays due to the fact that Russian railways were of a different gauge than German ones. Thomas also warned Halder of the insufficiency of German transport vehicle tires for the task ahead of them, and most significantly, Thomas revealed to Halder that they (the Germans) only had two months worth of fuel oil and petrol to support the advancing assault. Inexplicably, Halder did not convey this information to Hitler and when Thomas attempted to do this himself, General Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel stepped in and prevented the report from going any further. Reassurances soon made their way to General Thomas when no less than Reichsminister Hermann Göring told him not to worry about using up Germany's resources since "they would soon be masters of France, Belgium, and Holland", likewise adding that they would plunder all the available resources in the "captured territories".

In November 1942, Thomas resigned from the Defence Economy and Armament Office."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Thomas

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by Art » 09 May 2020 10:37

Re-gauging of railroads took some expenditure of time and labor but was a manageable tasks. Both sides on the Eastern Front converted the gauge on a wide scale. Other German problems on 1941 were:
- relatively small numbers of Soviet-gauge rolling stock captured
- many locomotives were disabled by strong cold
- heavy damage to infrastructure, water supply system in particular.

Probably other member can comment on transportation problems in more detail.

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2020 11:18

Art wrote:
09 May 2020 10:37
Re-gauging of railroads took some expenditure of time and labor but was a manageable tasks. Both sides on the Eastern Front converted the gauge on a wide scale. Other German problems on 1941 were:
- relatively small numbers of Soviet-gauge rolling stock captured
- many locomotives were disabled by strong cold
- heavy damage to infrastructure, water supply system in particular.

Probably other member can comment on transportation problems in more detail.
The basic problem was that the Germans never intended to build a functioning high-capacity railway system in support of Barbarossa.

They actually succeeded in re-gauging track quite effectively, that wasn't their problem (as you say).

Rather, they failed to provide the supporting infrastructure - signals/switches, sidings, water stations, and warming sheds - to enable high throughput of trains.

The reason they failed to do so is they saw no urgent need for it. Why worry about building a railway system in a rush when the Red Army will be destroyed and the war won within truck range of the border? Worry about that after the war...

From March '42 onwards, the Germans started systemically to address these problems, giving the Ostheer a good railway by about the time the Red Army took it all back.

I discuss these issues more in another post, with cites. viewtopic.php?p=2267249#p2267249
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2020 11:40

Hikari wrote:
09 May 2020 02:48
There should be many definitions of defeat. I personally think that even if Moscow is captured, the war will not end at the time, but Russia ’s war effort will be greatly affected (decreased).
This is the right judgment, IMO. Debates are too often stuck in "The SU was all powerful and could never lose" vs. "Capture Moscow and the SU magically disappears."

The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
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: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by stg 44 » 12 May 2020 03:20

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2020 11:40
The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
Per Mark Harrison's work on the Soviet economy if the Soviets cannot roll back the 1942 offensive they are finished, so if losing Moscow means they can't then it is a delayed mortal wound.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8fea/8 ... b1263e.pdf

I don't think anyone claims that the loss of Moscow, short of Stalin being killed in the process, is going to immediately collapse the USSR, but that it would be a mortal wound that the Soviets would not be able to recover from if they cannot recover the city relatively quickly. Eventually accumulated economic damage would start the unraveling process Harrison talks about in the above essay.

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by EKB » 13 May 2020 11:36

I finally got round to reading the H. G. W. Davie comparison of German and Soviet railway practices.

One of his conclusions is that German army officers were arrogant and did not understand how to run railroads in distant war zones. As Davie put it, they had no previous experience of long-range operations using railways and refused to seek professional help of the Reichsbahn.

The inefficiency caused Adolf Hitler to hire new management for the Eastern Front train service, yet after three years of fighting, German railway logistics was not equal to keeping its armed forces supplied as needed. In June 1944, Army Group Center had to decide between transport of ammunition or reinforcements because of insufficient railway capacity to carry both simultaneously.

The Soviet victory went beyond the battlefield. They outwitted the Germans in the war for supremacy in militarization of railroads on the Eastern Front. Russian railways were better organized, using procedures that were more appropriate for the conditions. Another factor is that the Soviet Union exploited the German tendency to live for the moment instead of planning for the future.

https://www.hgwdavie.com/blog/2018/3/9/ ... r-19411945

The byzantine Nazi bureaucracy, more ruthless than efficient, was obsessed with its race war and other sideshows at the expense of the Wehrmacht. The railways were key to industrializing mass murder and Germany’s lucrative business of plunder and deportation of civilians. Thousands of trains and valuable track space was diverted from military logistics to carry Holocaust victims, slave laborers and stolen property taken from occupied zones.

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 May 2020 02:07

stg 44 wrote:
12 May 2020 03:20
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2020 11:40
The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
Per Mark Harrison's work on the Soviet economy if the Soviets cannot roll back the 1942 offensive they are finished, so if losing Moscow means they can't then it is a delayed mortal wound.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8fea/8 ... b1263e.pdf

I don't think anyone claims that the loss of Moscow, short of Stalin being killed in the process, is going to immediately collapse the USSR, but that it would be a mortal wound that the Soviets would not be able to recover from if they cannot recover the city relatively quickly. Eventually accumulated economic damage would start the unraveling process Harrison talks about in the above essay.

Stolfi seems to claim that, no?

More importantly, most of the German generals seem to have believed the SU would collapse on the same time line as the fall of Moscow - certainly before Winter '41. Whether Moscow falling was sufficient or necessary for that collapse isn't explicit... then again perhaps it's not explicit because it wasn't clear even Halder's mind - he just knew it would be a quick campaign. Worst general of the war, IMO.
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: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by Futurist » 14 May 2020 05:21

stg 44 wrote:
12 May 2020 03:20
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2020 11:40
The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
Per Mark Harrison's work on the Soviet economy if the Soviets cannot roll back the 1942 offensive they are finished, so if losing Moscow means they can't then it is a delayed mortal wound.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8fea/8 ... b1263e.pdf

I don't think anyone claims that the loss of Moscow, short of Stalin being killed in the process, is going to immediately collapse the USSR, but that it would be a mortal wound that the Soviets would not be able to recover from if they cannot recover the city relatively quickly. Eventually accumulated economic damage would start the unraveling process Harrison talks about in the above essay.
For what it's worth, if this wasn't already mentioned here, the centrality of Moscow to the Soviet Union's railroad system certainly needs to be kept in mind in these discussions:

http://www.philatelicdatabase.com/histo ... ions-1965/

Image

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by stg 44 » 14 May 2020 17:57

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 May 2020 02:07
stg 44 wrote:
12 May 2020 03:20
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2020 11:40
The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
Per Mark Harrison's work on the Soviet economy if the Soviets cannot roll back the 1942 offensive they are finished, so if losing Moscow means they can't then it is a delayed mortal wound.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8fea/8 ... b1263e.pdf

I don't think anyone claims that the loss of Moscow, short of Stalin being killed in the process, is going to immediately collapse the USSR, but that it would be a mortal wound that the Soviets would not be able to recover from if they cannot recover the city relatively quickly. Eventually accumulated economic damage would start the unraveling process Harrison talks about in the above essay.

Stolfi seems to claim that, no?

More importantly, most of the German generals seem to have believed the SU would collapse on the same time line as the fall of Moscow - certainly before Winter '41. Whether Moscow falling was sufficient or necessary for that collapse isn't explicit... then again perhaps it's not explicit because it wasn't clear even Halder's mind - he just knew it would be a quick campaign. Worst general of the war, IMO.
I'm not sure specifically what Stolfi claims.
Can you quote what the consensus was among German generals about the fall of Moscow was? They said it would preciptiate the fall of the USSR, but AFAIK didn't give a timeline on how long that would actually take. I'd assume if they did think the USSR would totally collapse in 1941 they were being grossly optimistic, but it would start the unraveling process.

Given that Harrison has spent so much time working on the Soviet economy I'd say his word does have some weight behind it when talking about how much the USSR could handle before starting to unravel.

What makes Halder so bad in your opinion?

Futurist wrote:
14 May 2020 05:21
stg 44 wrote:
12 May 2020 03:20
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 May 2020 11:40
The simple fact is the wartime SU was a discrete entity with discrete capabilities. Taking Moscow and its environs would be a significant blow that would have had significant impact on Soviet war-making potential. I doubt it's sufficient on its own to change the outcome but it would push the SU very near to inability to stop and roll back the German '42 offensive. Loss of the Blau-lands plus Moscow may have caused Soviet collapse during '43.
Per Mark Harrison's work on the Soviet economy if the Soviets cannot roll back the 1942 offensive they are finished, so if losing Moscow means they can't then it is a delayed mortal wound.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8fea/8 ... b1263e.pdf

I don't think anyone claims that the loss of Moscow, short of Stalin being killed in the process, is going to immediately collapse the USSR, but that it would be a mortal wound that the Soviets would not be able to recover from if they cannot recover the city relatively quickly. Eventually accumulated economic damage would start the unraveling process Harrison talks about in the above essay.
For what it's worth, if this wasn't already mentioned here, the centrality of Moscow to the Soviet Union's railroad system certainly needs to be kept in mind in these discussions:

http://www.philatelicdatabase.com/histo ... ions-1965/

Image
Thanks for the link. We did talk about it here in another subforum:
viewtopic.php?f=66&t=219561&p=1985390&h ... w#p1985390
Image

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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 May 2020 18:19

stg 44 wrote:Can you quote what the consensus was among German generals about the fall of Moscow was?
Not really - because as I said there wasn't an explicit, clear strategic consensus about the end state in the east. As you say, they all believed the SU would unravel/collapse, and they viewed Moscow as the most important goal of the campaign. From that I deduce that in the background of their amorphous, politically-driven "strategic thinking" there was some essential link between taking Moscow and causing the unraveling.
stg 44 wrote:Given that Harrison has spent so much time working on the Soviet economy I'd say his word does have some weight behind it when talking about how much the USSR could handle before starting to unravel.
I read Harrison's paper about micro-economic structure of Soviet collapse ("mice" vs. "rats") but don't recall him laying out specific operational/strategic preconditions for that collapse. Can you point me to a specific section?
What makes Halder so bad in your opinion?
Where to start... It all comes down to the aforementioned lack of any discrete strategic path to victory in the east, other than the expected Soviet collapse.

The collapse expectation is a political judgment, not a military one.

The essential job of the man leading the German General Staff should have been to provide a path to victory based on military analysis and judgment, not based on political punditry about which Halder had no special insight and turned out to be disastrously wrong.

In the run-up to Barbarossa, Halder received multiple analytical treatments that should have caused him to address the military problems that would arise should his political judgment about collapse be wrong. Wagner's logistical study, for example, should have made him aware that the Heer needed to prepare to support its armies deep into Russia, rather than assuming that the war would be decided before Ostheer outran the ~500km depth at beyond which truck logistics were insufficient. That would have caused him to make the necessary investments in rail infrastructure that could have supported a deeper German drive past the Dniepr. Instead, Halder stated something like "speed is all that matters, don't count on rail supply." [can find the quote if you really want it]. He fully imbibed the Nazi idiocy about "will" overcoming all.

All of the logistical problems that plagued Ostheer in Barbarossa - truck breakdowns, rail issues - were lessons previously learned in campaigns stretching all the way back to Anschluss. It is world-historical incompetence not to make any effort to address these systemic problems, and/or to adapt campaign strategy to easily-foreseeable logistical issues.

Hitler deserves a lot of the blame as well. He also expected the SU to collapse, but he expressed misgivings about Soviet strength on numerous occasions. Had Halder presented Hitler with detailed, compelling arguments about the obstacles facing the Ostheer, the plans could have been rectified and Germany could have defeated the SU. Hitler actually had a keen interest in logistical issues - Creveld describes his personal intervention in logistics administration/structure during the French campaign. And Hitler did listen to his generals, especially prior to his own unraveling later in the war.

Is there any modern instance of military incompetence as consequential as Halder's refusal to do his actual job prior to Barbarossa? I can't think of any.

That Halder hasn't faced the judgment of history to the degree he deserves owes to his centrality in crafting the post-war narrative about Barbarossa, as he was the coordinator/supervisor of the U.S. Army's postwar foreign studies on the German army.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
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Re: Another reason why Germany could not defeat Russia in 1941

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 14 May 2020 23:08

stg 44 wrote:
14 May 2020 17:57

Can you quote what the consensus was among German generals about the fall of Moscow was? They said it would preciptiate the fall of the USSR, but AFAIK didn't give a timeline on how long that would actually take. I'd assume if they did think the USSR would totally collapse in 1941 they were being grossly optimistic, but it would start the unraveling process.
For to understand what was expect for to be Russia after Unternehmen Barbarossa can to read weisung 32.

For to understand what was expect time for to finish Unternehmen Barbarossa must to look many places. 1. datas can to find in General Marcks study.

stg 44 wrote:
14 May 2020 17:57
For what it's worth, if this wasn't already mentioned here, the centrality of Moscow to the Soviet Union's railroad system certainly needs to be kept in mind in these discussions:
Thanks for the link. We did talk about it here in another subforum:
Map from Paul Ward was not for understand real historys but for to mislead peoples with false historys.

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