PODs for Leningrad in 1941

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KDF33
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 18 Jan 2022 21:35

daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
Who lot of failure going on when it comes to the Axis making strategy, wasn't there? It's almost like - work with me here - dictatorships rarely encourage reality-based decision-making, do they?
There were major strategic mistakes on the part of the Axis powers, yes. I don't think, however, that the extent of their mistakes was greater than that of the Allies. It only appears to be so retroactively, because the Allies ultimately emerged victorious. To give some examples of Allied mistakes:

1. The Anglo-French plan to bomb Baku in 1940
2. The French defensive planning before the Battle of France
3. The British decision to send an expeditionary force to Greece in 1941
4. The Soviet refusal to evacuate Southwestern Front from the Kiev salient during Barbarossa
5. The Soviet broad-front offensive conducted from January to April 1942
6. The sudden British policy reversal in June 1942 in favor of holding Tobruk, absent any preparations
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
The "US froze" Japan's assets because of Japan's war on China; they had an option as well, didn't they?
Yes: war or capitulation. It should have come as no surprise that a great power such as Imperial Japan would choose the former option - and indeed, such an outcome wasn't exactly unexpected by the U.S. government.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
And the US moved toward short of war support of the British (and French, and Greeks, and Norwegians, and Danes, and Poles, and Czechs, and Austrians, and Dutch, and Belgians, and Russians, and Chinese, because ... why was that, again?
To facilitate Germany's defeat, which I'd say is a pretty aggressive action in and of itself.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
Seems like the Germans and the Japanese both had a simple way out, right up until Dec. 7 and Dec, 10, respectively.
Again, no great power would completely capitulate and accept de facto subordination without a fight. Besides, after such a capitulation neither the Nazi regime nor the Japanese militarists would have been likely to preserve their position of power within their respective societies.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
"Whoever it was" was a reference to Marcks's argument the German general fouled up the German invasion of the USSR, not - heavens forfend - the tinpot dictator in charge of the whole mess.
I'd say responsibility for the poor planning and assumptions underpinning Barbarossa lays (1) with Hitler, for not coordinating a prudent, well-resourced interagency planning effort, and (2) with Halder, for producing an operational plan revolving around an expectation of Soviet collapse after the Germans had delivered the first blow.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
"Rarely" covers a lot of ground; even a stopped clock like the leadership of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan is right twice a day.
Again, although I do agree that the German and Japanese leadership made egregious mistakes, it's not obvious to me that they made more than their opponents.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2022 22:41

KDF33 wrote: Germany got its chance to rule Europe precisely because the Allies did what was expected of them in May 1940.
And after that, Western Allied strategy didn't matter much to the outcome. If the SU survived then no conceivable Western strategy could have been sufficiently bad for Germany to overcome the resource disparity. If the SU fell then there was definitely not the willingness and probably not the ability to liberate Europe.

With the SU surviving, however, Wallied strategy did matter to how long and bloody a war it would be. In this respect they failed massively to ensure a quick(er) defeat of Germany.
KDF33 wrote:To give some examples of Allied mistakes:
For me the headline mistakes are always the aversion to land warfare and the failure to execute Germany First in 1942.

There is no creditable excuse for two powers with ~200mil core populations not to have deployed 80 divisions in Europe in 1943. That causes Ostheer's collapse in Spring '43 and ends the war at least a year earlier. Millions more Europeans survive the war. The Hungarian Holocaust, which took a while to unfold as the Red Army approached, is greatly mitigated. French/Dutch/Belgian collaboration in identifying and deporting Jews lasts a year less, saving further tens of thousands. Anne Frank is just another survivor with a long life.

The broadest grand strategic virtue in WW2 was to remain focused on classic war fundamentals: infantry, artillery, operational mobility. The Wallies folly was to focus far too much of their immense resources on shiny new things - primarily strategic bombing.

Of course there is a sense in which these errors are not strategic in nature, rather they are a continuation of the dynamic that underlay Appeasement: an aversion to bloodshed.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 18 Jan 2022 22:50

daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26

"Whoever it was" was a reference to Marcks's argument the German general fouled up the German invasion of the USSR, not - heavens forfend - the tinpot dictator in charge of the whole mess.
That's not fair. The visionary leader of the Third Reich had a master plan for winning the war, as he meticulously articulated in 1939:

“If there’s war, then I’ll build U-boats, build U-boats, U-boats, U-boats, U-boats. I’ll build aircraft, aircraft, aircraft, and destroy my enemies!”

Surely if there was poor planning among the German leadership, it was in spite of fearless leader's strategic brilliance. :lol:

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2022 22:55

historygeek2021 wrote:“If there’s war, then I’ll build U-boats, build U-boats, U-boats, U-boats, U-boats. I’ll build aircraft, aircraft, aircraft, and destroy my enemies!”
Ah the simple take - believe what Hitler says at face value. Funny how many continue this error despite history's lessons.

It is not, of course, an error we see in scholarship much. Ian Kershaw - Hitler's best English-language biographer - points out that many of Hitler's "rages" were carefully controlled acting performances intended for a specific audience (though he also had rages). Here he's probably trying to convey a message of intimidation to an English intermediary (knowing well that the English feared bombing).

Even were the rage real instead of staged, a minimally serious reading of Hitler's outburst would ask whether his planning and actions confirm that he was disclosing actual strategic intent. Obviously not. Hitler built shells, shells, shells after Wallies declared war.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by historygeek2021 » 18 Jan 2022 23:41

Of course, Hitler was a strategic genius. Go to war with all of the biggest industrial countries on the planet, and hope for the best!

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2022 23:45

To return to OP's question, note the strength of German forces on the Volkhov front on September 25, 1941:

Image

AGN has 7-8 divisions (4 mechanized) facing eastwards between Lakes Ladoga and Ilmen. At that same time, AGC was concentrating 25ish mechanized divisions for Taifun. An additional 4 mech.divs with AGN (2 fresh from reserve, full strength), plus probably a few ID's, easily doubles AGN's strength in this sector. Reapportion some of AGC's massive LW concentration and reaching the Svir shouldn't be too difficult.

It is, again, only 60% of the distance that AGC covered after October. And the weather's better - I grabbed a 25.9.1941 screenshot but this could have been done a few weeks earlier were that the play.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 18 Jan 2022 23:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2022 23:46

historygeek2021 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 23:41
Of course, Hitler was a strategic genius. Go to war with all of the biggest industrial countries on the planet, and hope for the best!
It's an unfortunate that some can't conduct a discrete conversation on analytical topics without devolving into childish nonsense.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Jan 2022 00:17

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2022 23:45
this could have been done a few weeks earlier were that the play.
I'm not, btw, necessarily arguing that this was the best German strategy. Taifun was, in terms of force destruction, probably the most successful two-week attack in history (~1mil Soviet casualties). The argument for weakening or foregoing it must present similarly great strategic benefits.

In particular, it's not obvious that ideal German strategy wasn't to do Taifun as in OTL and then stop in November.

The critical issue is how much force destruction and important land capture would be foregone by this ATL AGN operation. That's an issue of whether PzGr's 2&3 can destroy much of the Soviet forces facing AGC if weakened. If possible, the best move would be to replace PG4's pincer in the Vyazma pocket with PG2 or a shifted PG3 (PG2 taking its place). That's probably not possible, however, because PG2 is too far south and there isn't enough time/capacity for a rail transfer.

So one alternate option is to have PG3 attack from farther south and turn the Bryansk pocket from a smallish (~150k PoW) single-envelopment into a larger double-envelopment. Here's how things looked in OTL Taifun on Oct. 7:

Image

An ATL weakened Taifun would see PG3 (here taking PG4's place) heading southeast instead of northeast on that map, thereby firmly enclosing a pocket somewhat wider than the loose Bryansk pocket in the bottom of the map. The Vyazma pocket doesn't exist of course.

One problem is that the strongest Soviet forces are in that Vyazma pocket and here they're a threat to PG3's left flank. OTOH if we've sent only 4 mechanized divisions to AGN, the remainder of OTL PG4 (folded into PG3) can act as flank protection. Given low Soviet mobility and tactics at this time, most of the main Soviet forces will probably attack into the strong infantry forces of AOK's 4 and 9, which wouldn't go well for them.

After the Bryansk pocket battle there'd be a salient in Soviet lines south of Vyazma. Ostheer could perhaps leverage this salient to envelope Vyazma from the south and west with the infantry armies pushing north of the Smolensk-Moscow highway. Destruction of two Soviet Fronts at Leningrad/Volkov would require plugging a massive hole in Soviet lines, which factors into this equation.

Again, I'm not sure that's the ideal plan but it's an interesting thought. It does, of course, presuppose that the Moscow obsession is overcome.
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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Jan 2022 00:23

Wasn't Adolf Hitler of the mind (pre-war) of victory or death? It was either to create the Reich as a superpower or fall into ashes, due to the rise of the Soviet Union and the USA.

It was more of mind of "being" rather than pursuing the low-risk option. The rise was to be experienced, as was the fall if need be. Like the Wagnerian epics that he was so enamoured of.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 19 Jan 2022 00:47

Cult Icon wrote:
19 Jan 2022 00:23
Wasn't Adolf Hitler of the mind (pre-war) of victory or death? It was either to create the Reich as a superpower or fall into ashes, due to the rise of the Soviet Union and the USA.

It was more of mind of "being" rather than pursuing the low-risk option. The rise was to be experienced, as was the fall if need be. Like the Wagnerian epics that he was so enamoured of.
I fully concur. Hitler is often criticized for his strategic mistakes, but IMO a proper examination of each sides shows that he was arguably no better, nor worse, a strategist than the average statesman of the era (i.e. primarily Daladier/Reynaud, Chamberlain/Churchill, Stalin and Mussolini - Roosevelt having the good fortune of being in a position where his errors are less visible/consequential). Fundamentally the problem with Hitler (apart, obviously, from his amorality) was his extremely high tolerance for risk-taking, which is what truly stands out compared to the other leaders in question.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 19 Jan 2022 01:01

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
19 Jan 2022 00:17
Again, I'm not sure that's the ideal plan but it's an interesting thought. It does, of course, presuppose that the Moscow obsession is overcome.
I agree. Ultimately what mattered to the Germans was to keep the ball rolling, i.e. keep destroying Soviet formations en masse. I'm not sure this scenario really allows for more destruction (i.e., it trades Vyazma for Leningrad, with maybe a somewhat better Bryansk).

Perhaps a better option would have been to do Vyazma-Bryansk, then stop, set-up a winter line for Heeresgruppe Mitte, transfer mobile forces to Heeresgruppe Nord and strike for Tikhvin and the Svir in November, with Leningrad Front being 'digested' in the early winter.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 01:28

KDF33 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 21:35
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
Who lot of failure going on when it comes to the Axis making strategy, wasn't there? It's almost like - work with me here - dictatorships rarely encourage reality-based decision-making, do they?
There were major strategic mistakes on the part of the Axis powers, yes. I don't think, however, that the extent of their mistakes was greater than that of the Allies. It only appears to be so retroactively, because the Allies ultimately emerged victorious. To give some examples of Allied mistakes:

1. The Anglo-French plan to bomb Baku in 1940
2. The French defensive planning before the Battle of France
3. The British decision to send an expeditionary force to Greece in 1941
4. The Soviet refusal to evacuate Southwestern Front from the Kiev salient during Barbarossa
5. The Soviet broad-front offensive conducted from January to April 1942
6. The sudden British policy reversal in June 1942 in favor of holding Tobruk, absent any preparations
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
The "US froze" Japan's assets because of Japan's war on China; they had an option as well, didn't they?
Yes: war or capitulation. It should have come as no surprise that a great power such as Imperial Japan would choose the former option - and indeed, such an outcome wasn't exactly unexpected by the U.S. government.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
And the US moved toward short of war support of the British (and French, and Greeks, and Norwegians, and Danes, and Poles, and Czechs, and Austrians, and Dutch, and Belgians, and Russians, and Chinese, because ... why was that, again?
To facilitate Germany's defeat, which I'd say is a pretty aggressive action in and of itself.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
Seems like the Germans and the Japanese both had a simple way out, right up until Dec. 7 and Dec, 10, respectively.
Again, no great power would completely capitulate and accept de facto subordination without a fight. Besides, after such a capitulation neither the Nazi regime nor the Japanese militarists would have been likely to preserve their position of power within their respective societies.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
"Whoever it was" was a reference to Marcks's argument the German general fouled up the German invasion of the USSR, not - heavens forfend - the tinpot dictator in charge of the whole mess.
I'd say responsibility for the poor planning and assumptions underpinning Barbarossa lays (1) with Hitler, for not coordinating a prudent, well-resourced interagency planning effort, and (2) with Halder, for producing an operational plan revolving around an expectation of Soviet collapse after the Germans had delivered the first blow.
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26
"Rarely" covers a lot of ground; even a stopped clock like the leadership of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan is right twice a day.
Again, although I do agree that the German and Japanese leadership made egregious mistakes, it's not obvious to me that they made more than their opponents.
Every nation makes war plans; if they don't carry them out, it's just paper. So that strikes off #1; #2, yeah, the French fouled that one up; #3 yeah, the British fouled that one up as well; #4, USSR was a dictatorship, so reinforces my point; #5, see #4; #6, Britain again. Yep.

Actually, Japan's options were 1) capitulation in 1945, less 3 million dead Japanese and the utter destruction of their military, merchant marine, industry, and most of their major cities, and the loss of what passed for their empire prior to 1931, or 2) withdrawal from China in 1941-42, keeping all of the above, including - probably - Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria; maybe even Jehol.

Perhaps if the Germans hadn't invaded all their neighbors in less than five years, it might have ended better for them - at least absent some of the 7 million dead Germans by 1945.

Yep, the Germans failed at war with their peers both times they tried it in the 20th Century; they probably should have learned from their mistakes in 1914-18.

Considering which nations surrendered in 1945, pretty safe bet. ;)

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 01:32

historygeek2021 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 22:50
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Jan 2022 19:26

"Whoever it was" was a reference to Marcks's argument the German generals fouled up the German invasion of the USSR, not - heavens forfend - the tinpot dictator in charge of the whole mess.
That's not fair. The visionary leader of the Third Reich had a master plan for winning the war, as he meticulously articulated in 1939:

“If there’s war, then I’ll build U-boats, build U-boats, U-boats, U-boats, U-boats. I’ll build aircraft, aircraft, aircraft, and destroy my enemies!”

Surely if there was poor planning among the German leadership, it was in spite of fearless leader's strategic brilliance. :lol:
What's really mind-blowing is that all those submarines and aircraft were going to be fueled by coal, wood, and the Romanian oil industry. Genius. ;)

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by KDF33 » 19 Jan 2022 01:34

historygeek2021 wrote:
18 Jan 2022 23:41
Of course, Hitler was a strategic genius. Go to war with all of the biggest industrial countries on the planet, and hope for the best!
Hitler was no strategic genius (what even is 'strategic genius'?), but he obviously didn't go to war with 'all of the biggest industrial countries on the planet'. For one, Germany's Grossraum itself clocked in at number 2 after the United States, and after Barbarossa had cut the USSR down to size, Japan would have been close to the same ballpark as Britain and the USSR.

In essence, Hitler bid his country's future, as well as his own, on defeating the Soviet Union in time to face the Anglo-Americans from a position of strength. He failed, and thus lost the war.

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Re: PODs for Leningrad in 1941

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Jan 2022 01:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2022 22:41
KDF33 wrote: Germany got its chance to rule Europe precisely because the Allies did what was expected of them in May 1940.
And after that, Western Allied strategy didn't matter much to the outcome. If the SU survived then no conceivable Western strategy could have been sufficiently bad for Germany to overcome the resource disparity. If the SU fell then there was definitely not the willingness and probably not the ability to liberate Europe.

With the SU surviving, however, Wallied strategy did matter to how long and bloody a war it would be. In this respect they failed massively to ensure a quick(er) defeat of Germany.
KDF33 wrote:To give some examples of Allied mistakes:
For me the headline mistakes are always the aversion to land warfare and the failure to execute Germany First in 1942.

There is no creditable excuse for two powers with ~200mil core populations not to have deployed 80 divisions in Europe in 1943. That causes Ostheer's collapse in Spring '43 and ends the war at least a year earlier. Millions more Europeans survive the war. The Hungarian Holocaust, which took a while to unfold as the Red Army approached, is greatly mitigated. French/Dutch/Belgian collaboration in identifying and deporting Jews lasts a year less, saving further tens of thousands. Anne Frank is just another survivor with a long life.

The broadest grand strategic virtue in WW2 was to remain focused on classic war fundamentals: infantry, artillery, operational mobility. The Wallies folly was to focus far too much of their immense resources on shiny new things - primarily strategic bombing.

Of course there is a sense in which these errors are not strategic in nature, rather they are a continuation of the dynamic that underlay Appeasement: an aversion to bloodshed.
Though the roughly 7 million dead Germans would suggest the Allies had absolutely no aversion to shedding German blood, though. The women and children certainly deserved better from their men than what they got, from Hitler on down...

Beyond that, until liquid sunshine delivered by a Lancaster or Superfortress (or, if need be, a B-36) sometime in the late 1940s.

Otherwise, interesting take. The US, UK, etc. are to blame for the Holocaust, and an 80-division expeditionary force can be willed into being, deployed and sustained (largely from across the Atlantic) in the second quarter of 1943, which means all of 30 months after the US begins conscription. Okay...

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