Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

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Aida1
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by Aida1 » 25 Mar 2021 20:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Jan 2021 16:37
Max Payload wrote:He was not averse to expressing his own opinions, and his diary speaks for itself
I was addressing his postwar mythmaking in that comment, not his diary. There's enough in the diary to have justified letting Stalin or Tito execute him.

But postwar his mythmaking was more influential than the diary. That Nazi PoS actually got a medal from my country - only man to be decorated by Hitler and (via proxy) a U.S. president.
This retoric shows your bias which also affects your credibility when making statements about Halder. :lol:

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2021 19:46

Aida1 wrote:
25 Mar 2021 20:47

This retoric shows your bias which also affects your credibility when making statements about Halder. :lol:
Good. I am biased against Halder and all his cronies as well. Should have been hanged.
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by Aida1 » 15 Apr 2021 20:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Apr 2021 19:46
Aida1 wrote:
25 Mar 2021 20:47

This retoric shows your bias which also affects your credibility when making statements about Halder. :lol:
Good. I am biased against Halder and all his cronies as well. Should have been hanged.
Interesting to show that 'erudite' individuals have a nasty streak too. :lol:

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by historygeek2021 » 13 Jan 2022 06:24

Diary entry of Gerhard Engel, Hitler's army adjutant, March 21, 1941:
F. is very unhappy and worried about the situation in the Balkans. Our imminent intervention has made him throw his entire conception out of the window; the great objectives have all had to be put back, and it is now impossible to launch the attack on the Soviet Union in the second half of May. By themselves a couple of weeks earlier or later are not necessarily so bad, but we do not want to be surprised by the Russian winter. The earliest date is now the end of June, and one never knows when the summer will come to an end.

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Jan 2022 19:28

historygeek2021 wrote:
13 Jan 2022 06:24
Diary entry of Gerhard Engel, Hitler's army adjutant, March 21, 1941:
F. is very unhappy and worried about the situation in the Balkans. Our imminent intervention has made him throw his entire conception out of the window; the great objectives have all had to be put back, and it is now impossible to launch the attack on the Soviet Union in the second half of May. By themselves a couple of weeks earlier or later are not necessarily so bad, but we do not want to be surprised by the Russian winter. The earliest date is now the end of June, and one never knows when the summer will come to an end.
Thanks, good quote. It's instructive to compare Hitler's concerns with Halder's nonchalance about the delay. Of the two radical right wing organizations operating in Germany at that time - Nazi party and the Wehrmacht - the latter behaved more in line with racist expectations of an easy victory.
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by historygeek2021 » 14 Mar 2022 05:13

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 Jan 2021 21:44
Didn't read through the whole thread, which seems to be far off topic.

Based on a search of the thread it seems nobody has cited Hitler's Balkan Campaign and the Invasion of the U.S.S.R. by Andrew L. Zapantis. It's not a common book but was cited in GSWW vol.4; I found a copy in my university's library.

Zapantis traces the origin of the "swollen Eastern rivers in May and June 1941" narrative to postwar accounts by a few German generals, later picked up by Halder et. al. and disseminated through Halder's work as the U.S. Army's favorite Nazi/Historian. He documents that Halder never mentions this factor in his war diary, which does note overflying the rivers and fails to note any flooding in May/June. Likewise, other generals such as Guderian who cited eastern floods after the war make no mention of such conditions in contemporaneous documents.

Zapantis then obtained weather data for the areas and shows that conditions were actually slightly below normal for precipitation and flooding. I.e. the rivers were not swollen.

The book doesn't discuss the argument that Germany needed the extra 6 weeks or so of production to mount Barbarossa, however.
I found Zapantis' book available for free online:

https://archive.org/details/hitlersbalk ... 3/mode/2up

It is definitely a worthwhile read for anyone interested in this topic. My big takeaways from Zapantis are:

(1) Some German generals expressed to Liddell Hart in his interviews shortly after the war that the Bug river was flooded in May and early June and that this would have made an earlier Barbarossa impossible.

(2) There were no contemporaneous mentions of the weather or flooding by the German leadership or their counterparts in other countries in May or June 1941.

(3) Meteorological data show that the spring thaw began in early March 1941, so there was no melting ice from a "late winter" that caused floods in May or June 1941.

(4) Rainfall and temperatures for May and June were both average for that time of year.

(5) There was in fact severe flooding of the Bug river in the vicinity of Brest that peaked on May 5, 1941, and this receded only "gradually".

(6) All contemporary documentation lists the Balkans campaign as the exclusive reason for the delay in Barbarossa from May 15 to June 22, and in fact it would have been impossible to begin Barbarossa before the significant Luftwaffe forces involved in the Battle of Crete returned to Poland in mid-June.

It's almost a slam dunk case against the weather hypothesis, except for Zapantis' acknowledgment of severe flooding on May 5 that receded only "gradually." Zapantis is firmly in the anti-weather camp, so the fact that he says the flood receded "gradually" rather than give the exact dates is revealing. I suspect the flood probably lingered into middle or late May. We have no way of knowing whether the Germans could have overcome the flooding and pressed ahead with an invasion in May.

Zapantis also suggests certain agendas behind either side of the weather vs Balkans camp:

(1) The Greeks believe they were the reason for the delay and are thus in effect heroes who saved the world.

(2) The British believe that their (actually Australian and New Zealand) two and a half divisions sent to Greece were the reason for the delay, and thus they are heroes who saved the world.

(3) Hitler needed someone to blame, so he blamed Mussolini for invading Greece in the first place.

(4) Halder and the German generals wanted to appear anti-Hitler to save their own skin, so they're happy to contradict Hitler by saying the weather wouldn't have allowed an earlier invasion.

And I would add:

(5) Alt History buffs blame the Balkans campaign, because it allows us to construct more What If scenarios.

(6) Alt History debunkers blame the rain, because it allows them to debunk What If scenarios.

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Mar 2022 05:48

historygeek2021 wrote:
14 Mar 2022 05:13
I found Zapantis' book available for free online:

https://archive.org/details/hitlersbalk ... 3/mode/2up
Thanks! Good find.
historygeek2021 wrote:It's almost a slam dunk case against the weather hypothesis, except for Zapantis' acknowledgment of severe flooding on May 5 that receded only "gradually."
Hmmm I missed that ambiguity, read through the book quickly only one time. For the original goal of "mid-May" the river might still have swollen but for, say, "a month earlier Barbarossa" - i.e. May 22 - 17 days after peak flood seems pretty safe in my Midwest American experience of floods on minor rivers.

An aspect of the thesis that Zapantis doesn't directly question is whether all but a generalized regional flood (which certainly was not the case) really matters anyway.

To be precise, so what if the Bug (or Berezina) River is even twice its normal size? Around Brest the Bug is <100 meters wide in normal circumstances:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Brest ... 23.7636662

Double that and it's still no wider than the Dvina, (upper) Dniepr, or Dniestr rivers - all of which Ostheer crossed on the run a few weeks later. How much easier to cross even a swollen Bug river with practically unlimited time to assemble pontoons etc., than to cross those larger rivers on the run?

Of course were the region in general flood then that means, basically, an extended Spring Rasputitsa - we see how Rasputitsa is hurting the Russian Army right now... But, again, Zapantis' data show unambiguously that in 1941 there was no extended Spring Rasputitsa. The history of later May operations in the western SU (e.g. Izyum salient battle) show that mechanized maneuver warfare was feasible in late Spring.
historygeek2021 wrote:(5) Alt History buffs blame the Balkans campaign, because it allows us to construct more What If scenarios.

(6) Alt History debunkers blame the rain, because it allows them to debunk What If scenarios.
Ha yes, surely plays a big role. Lazy "what if's" and lazy debunking being as common as they are, I suspect it will continue to do so.

[as should be clear - I consider "earlier Barbarossa" to be a lazy "what if" and "but the Spring '41 weather!" to be a lazy debunking]
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by Ray_S » 18 Mar 2022 16:56

Hello,

Jumping into this debate. What I have found through my readings is that, at least to my limited reading, no one invades Russia in May. Napoleon invaded Russia 24 June 1812 and the Swedish invasion of 1708 while commencing in January, went into hiatus until June. The best reason for a June commencement for invasions that I have seen is a combination of weather and feed for the horses. If we accept that the German Army of 1941 was not mechanized and still largely dependent upon horses for transportation, the logistical considerations of the previous Swedish and French invasions would remain consistent and applicable to the invasion of 1941.

As an aside, one could argue that the future summer activities and operations of the war in 1942, 1943 (July), and 1944 occur in June arguably for the same two reasons of feed and weather. From my readings the Russian offensives of 1944 that carried on into May ground to a halt due to the increasing amount of mud which compounded an already difficult logistical position.

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by ljadw » 18 Mar 2022 21:36

We should not accept that the Ostheer was not mechanized (that it also used horses does not mean that it was not mechanized .
The Ostheer had almost twice as many motor-vehicles as the forces that invaded France in May 1940 .And no one said that these forces were not mechanized .
Besides ,it is questionable that the Ostheer would have done better with more motor-vehicles,given the poor situation of the few Russian roads .
Source for the claim that the Ostheer was more motorized than the Westheer in May 1940 :Operation Barbarossa from Nigel Askey Volume II B P 113 and on P 314, Askey writes that in 1941 the lift capacity of the trucks of the Ostheer was 24 times the total lift capacity of the horses of the Wehrmacht .And, the lift capacity of the Ostheer was twice that of the Russian forces .

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by historygeek2021 » 19 Mar 2022 02:22

Ray_S wrote:
18 Mar 2022 16:56
Hello,

Jumping into this debate. What I have found through my readings is that, at least to my limited reading, no one invades Russia in May. Napoleon invaded Russia 24 June 1812 and the Swedish invasion of 1708 while commencing in January, went into hiatus until June. The best reason for a June commencement for invasions that I have seen is a combination of weather and feed for the horses. If we accept that the German Army of 1941 was not mechanized and still largely dependent upon horses for transportation, the logistical considerations of the previous Swedish and French invasions would remain consistent and applicable to the invasion of 1941.

As an aside, one could argue that the future summer activities and operations of the war in 1942, 1943 (July), and 1944 occur in June arguably for the same two reasons of feed and weather. From my readings the Russian offensives of 1944 that carried on into May ground to a halt due to the increasing amount of mud which compounded an already difficult logistical position.
You might be on to something. In his chapter on Napoleon's invasion of Russia, van Creveld attributes the delay until late June on the need to feed his army's 250,000 horses, which could not be done from his bases. So it seems that summer is the only season when horses can be adequately fed off the local territory in Russia.

https://archive.org/details/supplying-w ... 5/mode/2up

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Mar 2022 23:09

Ray_S wrote:
18 Mar 2022 16:56
Hello,

Jumping into this debate. What I have found through my readings is that, at least to my limited reading, no one invades Russia in May. Napoleon invaded Russia 24 June 1812 and the Swedish invasion of 1708 while commencing in January, went into hiatus until June. The best reason for a June commencement for invasions that I have seen is a combination of weather and feed for the horses. If we accept that the German Army of 1941 was not mechanized and still largely dependent upon horses for transportation, the logistical considerations of the previous Swedish and French invasions would remain consistent and applicable to the invasion of 1941.

As an aside, one could argue that the future summer activities and operations of the war in 1942, 1943 (July), and 1944 occur in June arguably for the same two reasons of feed and weather. From my readings the Russian offensives of 1944 that carried on into May ground to a halt due to the increasing amount of mud which compounded an already difficult logistical position.
:welcome:

Are we sure that German horses were fed off the land anyway during the initial weeks? This is a bit of a logistical blind spot for me but let's try to analyze this from first principles.

We know that soldier's rations were a small part of Barbarossa's logistical burden - mostly fuel, ammo, and spares. Ostheer had ~5x as many men as horses. If we say horses eat ~5x the daily weight of a man then horsefeed would be ~same in weight as soldier's rations (but much less variegated and therefore logistically much simpler). Maybe 5% of the army's ton-miles would have been required to feed horses?

Napoleonic armies didn't have the means to carry horse feed with them; Ostheer feasibly did between rail and trucks.

Recall that Ostheer had as many motor vehicles as horses. So unless we think a horse is as productive as a truck (we don't, right?), trucks and trains provided the overwhelming part of the logistical lift. Horses would have been for marching equipment forward, which is a miniscule portion of an army's movement measured in ton-miles. They're a cheapish solution to the problem of "move that howitzer or field kitchen forward a few miles a day" - a task of maybe 20 ton-miles for a 4/6-horse team. A 2-ton truck moving 10hrs/day at 20mph produces 400 ton-miles: feasibly 100x a single horse's logistical production (in line with engine HP). The truck's speed is extraneous to a foot-mobile infantry division, however. It's more useful as a logistical tool.

A German first-wave infantry division had hundreds of motor vehicles. They maneuvered by foot and hoof but were supplied on steel and rubber wheels.
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by Richard Anderson » 22 Mar 2022 01:28

A German infantry division on the Eastern Front could have between 4,000 and 6,000 horses, depending on the division and the period...horse transport increased over time. Each required 15,200 grams of oats (5,650 g), hay (5,300), and straw (5,250), per day (not including 1,500 grams of bedding straw) as a ration, so call it 76,000 KG or 7.6 metric tons, per division, per day. The component that could be foraged was primarily the hay and straw, where grazing or impressed fodder could be substituted, principally in the late spring and summer, although foraged fodder could be (and was) collected, baled, and preserved at forward depots for issue as a substitute. However, the critical item were the oats, which were a staple diet for western European heavy draft horses (and one of the reasons the Germans, like the Soviets, later came to rely on the hardier Panje horses, without a steady supply of oats or other high-quality futter, western European horses tended to die - in droves).

Of the 127 infantry divisions capable of offensive operations in June 1942 (1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 11., and 12. Welle), only the 1. (100%) and 2. (83%) Welle were "motorized" more or less to standard, the 3. Welle was roughly 40%, the rest non-motorized (non-motorized BTW in the sense that they had some PKW and Kräder, but few LKW, which was the primary motorized supply vehicle, generally it meant that the PzJr and a few other heavy weapons were motorized, the rest horse drawn). Overall, about 47% of the divisions were "motorized". The kicker was that the degree of motorization affected how far divisions could operate from railheads and depots on their own. With a motorized Nachschub Kolonne, the division could be maintained up to 125 miles from a base area...so long as their LKW were operating on paved or at least well-maintained roads. Those reliant on horse-drawn supply needed to be 12 to 20 miles from the railhead or depot, again dependent on how good the roads were.

Note too, the I. 2., and 3. Welle divisions that were nominally "motorized" still depended almost exclusively for horse transport for their infantry regiments. The Maschinengewehrkompanie alone had 22 riding horse, 42 "light", and 2 "heavy" draft horses and 24 horse-drawn vehicles. The Troß had another 8 riding horses and 78 "light" draft horses with 39 horse-drawn vehicles.

It is likely the availability of fodder for requisition was a factor in the logistics calculation, but I doubt it was the "reason" for attacking in June.
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by per70 » 07 May 2022 21:32

Just read Jason D. Mark's Guderian's Foxes Aufklarungs-Abteilung 29 in Photos which has a little nugget about the river situation pre-Barbarossa.

In the initial chapter "Storm's Eve: Preparing for Barbarossa", a photo taken while the battalion was in the Warsaw region in early/middle June has the following caption:

"River crossings would play a major role for the reconnaissance battalion during the advance into the Soviet Union, so they were rehearsed again and again during excercises at Radosc. ... The Vistula River was especially low in June 1941."

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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 11 May 2022 15:21

per70 wrote:
07 May 2022 21:32
Just read Jason D. Mark's Guderian's Foxes Aufklarungs-Abteilung 29 in Photos which has a little nugget about the river situation pre-Barbarossa.

In the initial chapter "Storm's Eve: Preparing for Barbarossa", a photo taken while the battalion was in the Warsaw region in early/middle June has the following caption:

"River crossings would play a major role for the reconnaissance battalion during the advance into the Soviet Union, so they were rehearsed again and again during excercises at Radosc. ... The Vistula River was especially low in June 1941."
Excellent, thanks. The Vistula's large basin included most of the relevant border areas.

Image

If it was low during the the June rehearsals (any dates given?) then the upstream border areas were not sending large volumes in preceding weeks. They were therefore not in flood in those preceding weeks.
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Re: Barbarossa, Delay: Balkans or Rain

Post by per70 » 13 May 2022 07:42

In the caption of the preceding photo, it is stated that the battalion was ordered to start training on June 9th, and that the training commenced immediately. A later caption states that the vehicles were marked with a G (for Guderian) on June 17th.

Since no markings are visible, it would seem to place the photos within that timespan.

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