An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Peter89
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Peter89 » 07 May 2023 11:23

Sometimes I wonder if it would make more sense to play war games instead of describing these imaginary campaigns?

Or modding an existing video game featuring WW2.

The point is that war is not a one-side event. What if the Soviets act differently as described?
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

Huszar666
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Huszar666 » 07 May 2023 11:58

Good Morning!

I see, TMP is back, or at least one of his cultists – and is making the same claims, that were already disproven in the old thread.
The greatest beneficiary in this ATL is obviously Army Group South. 11th Army is significantly stronger, having 12 German divisions at its disposal (instead of 6 German and 5 Romanian divisions). 11th Army also has the 5th Panzer Group under its command. This enables them to launch a much more powerful attack from out of Romania. Army Group Souths order of battle is as follows:
11th Army launchs an attack into Southern Ukraine. They are able to establish bridgeheads along the lightly defended Pruth river, and cross over by the second day. They make a strong advance in the north, driving the Soviets back and capturing Kaminets Podolsky. SouthWestern Front dispatchs two Mechanised Corps to counter-attack them, bringing 11th Army to a halt. Simultaneously, 5th Panzer Group launchs an attack northeast through Moldavia. They make rapid progress and encounter no serious resistance until June 27, when they run into the Stalin Line at Mogilev Podolsky. During this time, the Romanians launch their own offensive alongside the Germans. They need four days to establish bridgeheads over the Pruth river, but their presence adds weight to the offensive in the Ukraine and Moldavia. Romanian 3rd Army attacks on the left flank of 11th Army, taking some of the pressure off them. Romanian 4th Army attacks on the right flank of 5th Panzer Group, pushing into Moldavia. The Germans capture Mogilev Podolsky on July 1, crossing the Dniester river soon after.
In this alternative timeline, Army Group South had an easier time breaking through the border in Western Ukraine. 6th Army was allocated two extra divisions, which enabled them to make a faster capture of Kovel and Rava Russkaya. This in turn enabled Panzer Group 1 to make a breakthrough on a wider front, and put them in a favourable position to exploit it. They were able to win the battle of Brody by a wider margin, and make a real strategic breakthrough. They had freedom of maneuver and advanced at a faster pace than would otherwise have been possible. 6th and 26th Armys were cut off from the rest of SouthWestern Front. But that alone could not have led to the disastrous results of the ATL.
What compounded the situation was Army Group Souths breakthrough in Southern Ukraine. 11th Army and Panzer Group 5 were allocated 13 extra divisions. Moreover, they launched their attack on June 22, instead of July 2. They were able to drive the Soviets back with a rapid advance through Moldavia, crossing over the Pruth, Dniester, and southern Bug rivers in succession. They broke through the Stalin line and linked up with Panzer Group 1 at Vinnitsia. This was what enabled Army Group South to encircle the Red Army and score a decisive victory in the Ukraine.
This is the same problem, I highlighted to TMP in the old thread. The Germans and Rumanians managed to push the existing, OTL troops up to the border only till 2nd July, because:
a, the late start. Partly because of the Balkans campaign, but also because it was felt, the Rumanians should not be informed about everything too early
b, the abysmal road and railroad network East of Bucharest. Or rather, everywhere, that wasn«t Austria-Hungary previously.
While it could be argued, with informing the Rumanians earlier, it would be possible to push the existing, OTL troops up to the border earlier – I’m not certain, even THAT could have been done till 22nd June – but TMP and you are seriously thinking about pushing more troops up to the border in less time.
Even IF the Rumanians are informed earlier, the road and railway network simply could not manage that many troops. Even IF they were awailable.
Also, I very much doubt, two extra Infantry Divisons in Galizia would have that much of an impact.
There are some similaritys between TMPs timelines and my own (economic re-organisation, and a larger OstHeer). But there are differences too. The point of departure (POD) for my timeline is in 1940, not in 1938. My timeline focuses on increased numbers of infantry divisions, moreso than panzer or motorised divisions. Moreover, the Germans still focus on waging a short summer campaign, rather than a two year war.

In my humble opinion, I believe my timeline is more realistic in the sense that it could have actually happened if someone in the OKH had been paying attention during the brainstorming sessions for an Eastern campaign. TMPs timelines rely on a certain degree of hindsight in order to work. They are very interesting in their own right, but they are more abstract in nature.
TMP did another What If, with a jumping point in 1940, and that looked almost exactly like yours. We had quite a lot of discussion on that, and quite a few (I would say, most) of his ideas were disproven.
My ATL does not involve substantially greater numbers of tanks. The Germans have 3 more Panzer divisions than OTL. That amounts to less than 500 extra tanks. That doesn't put much extra strain on their maintenance system. In fact, the 15 extra infantry divisions will have a far greater logistical footprint than the 3 extra Panzer divisions. But most of these additional forces are deployed in Romania, not Poland.
Oh, I see. 500 tanks aren’t a “substantial number”. It’s only about 16-20% of the total available on 22 June at the front. The average for the 17 front-line divisions was 192, so three “average” divisions would be 576, not “less, than 500”. Not that it matters, Germany wasn’t able to produce enough as it was, extra 100, less, than 500 or 5000 had the same chance to be produced between late summer 1940 and May 1941. Zero.
You are probably aware, there was a serious shortage of Pz IVs as it was – the Pz.IV-platoons were cosmetically set to 4 tanks instead of 5, and even that lower number couldn’t be met in quite a few cases. The same was true for Pz II-platoons, only there it was possible to substitute Pz Is instead. Not, that those machines had much worth…
We aren’t even talking about all those field howitzers, AT-Guns, vehicles for all those extra divisions. As it was, the German Army didn’t have enough of those, the divisions in the West were already using captured stuff, and even so, quite a few divisions marching into the su were equipped with captured French trucks.
The last sentence in the quote is probably the most important. North-Eastern Romania could not facilitate that larger logistical footprint.

I agree with Richard Anderson. All those corporate buzzwords are just empty shells. No one – even in corporate – is taking them seriously, except when they are trying to look smart and talk about nothing for hours.

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by gebhk » 07 May 2023 15:08

As ever this seems to be an exercise in attempting to 'cheat the laws of nature'. At the most basic level, up until Barbarossa, Germany had a small edge in GDP over its enemies and was winning, not least for that reason. And it was the support of the Soviet economy that made a big contribution to that small edge. Invading the SU took away that advantage and no border victory was going to make much dent in that. GDP is an excellent indicator of who is going to win a particular conflict, especially if that conflict is a total war of attrition. The only hope of the side with the weaker GDP is to win by means of either destroying the enemy from within, some wunderwaffe or by the enemy giving up. Translation in our context: the Soviet leadership, apalled by the higher than IRL losses, throwing in the towel. Not likely in my opinion.

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Peter89 » 07 May 2023 16:27

gebhk wrote:
07 May 2023 15:08
As ever this seems to be an exercise in attempting to 'cheat the laws of nature'. At the most basic level, up until Barbarossa, Germany had a small edge in GDP over its enemies and was winning, not least for that reason. And it was the support of the Soviet economy that made a big contribution to that small edge. Invading the SU took away that advantage and no border victory was going to make much dent in that. GDP is an excellent indicator of who is going to win a particular conflict, especially if that conflict is a total war of attrition. The only hope of the side with the weaker GDP is to win by means of either destroying the enemy from within, some wunderwaffe or by the enemy giving up. Translation in our context: the Soviet leadership, apalled by the higher than IRL losses, throwing in the towel. Not likely in my opinion.
You are correct, and it goes even deeper than that.

If anyone of the Barbarossa whatiffers read the relevant reports from Georg Thomas, they'd know that German economic experts tried to warn the leadership about the false expected yields of Soviet resources. The conditions under which Barbarossa was to be fought were not present. Some food committees claimed it was possible to withdraw an extraordinary amount of food from the SU. That is, if the infrastructure was undamaged and 60% of the Soviet oil was used in this effort...

Thus the idea of a quick and decisive campaign came to be. If Germany had to fight a long and bloody war, they'd lose anyway. For that the Germans deluded themselves and developed totally irrational ideas of judeobolshevism and racial inferiority. Germany had to defeat the SU fast and cheap, otherwise the whole adventure didn't make sense. Well, it didn't make sense. The expectations were so much wrong that it still beggars the imagination.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

gebhk
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by gebhk » 07 May 2023 17:48

The expectations were so much wrong that it still beggars the imagination.
But only if you assume these decisions were made on some rational basis :wink: History rather proves that self-serving delusional group-think at least as often as not trumps logic (we will win because we are more civilised, we are racially superior, God is on our side, etc). It was not just German economists but also, it would appear, Germany's allies who tried to bring the Fuhrer down to earth - unsuccessfully... evidently.

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 May 2023 18:14

Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
I agree with Richard Anderson. All those corporate buzzwords are just empty shells. No one – even in corporate – is taking them seriously, except when they are trying to look smart and talk about nothing for hours.
And that they are simply spouting buzzwords without substance is never recognized. I more feel like I'm arguing with the acolytes of Albert Speer than some self-proclaimed legal eagle. Rationalizing in industry is defined as the "process of reducing the number of products that you sell in order to invest more in the products that make the most profit"...at least according to the Cambridge Dictionary. However, war is not business and is not intended to sell, invest, or profit from manufacturing things. War is "a conflict between political groups involving hostilities of considerable duration and magnitude" (according to Britannica). While not mutually exclusive, the two objectives do tend to counter one another.

Anyway, the argument that the German armored vehicle industry was not "rationalized" is difficult to sustain. It involved a small circle of highly interconnected industries producing a small number of products, in their own field. The final assembly manufacturers worked on two complementary types - a "light" (Panzer III) and a "medium" (Panzer IV) tank. A single engine conglomerate and a single transmission conglomerate produced the drive trains for virtually all of the final manufacturers. Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG, Gutehoffnungshütte, Deutschen Edelstahlwerk, and Eisenwerke Oberdonau produced major hull and suspension steel components for all final assembly plants under the Reichswerke Hermann Göring, while Krupp produced armament and turrets.

It was highly rationalized and because of the corporate fascist structure of Germany it was also already highly profitable to all involved, so there was little incentive to change the existing rationalization. In fact, it was probably more highly rationalized than the American armored vehicle industry, which was highly decentralized in sub-component manufacture...each steel manufacturer was a separate corporate entity, and which produced a large number of sub-types - five major and one minor medium tank type and one light tank type were produced simultaneously. They utilized as many as five or six different engine manufacturers producing as many different engines, multiple transmission manufacturers building slightly different types, and even multiple different manufacturers - and types - of turret traverse motors.

So, interchangeability of types was almost non-existent, there were multiple "competing" types, and according to the theory of rationalization the American production should have been highly unprofitable and inefficient - and yet somehow it worked and they outproduced the German industry.

Gee, do you think maybe "rationalization" wasn't really the German problem at all?
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Avalancheon
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Avalancheon » 08 May 2023 04:52

Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
Good Morning!

I see, TMP is back, or at least one of his cultists – and is making the same claims, that were already disproven in the old thread.
Ah, so we're coming right out of the gates by labeling people as cultists, are we? Its nice to see such a balanced, impartial stance from posters. :roll:
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
This is the same problem, I highlighted to TMP in the old thread. The Germans and Rumanians managed to push the existing, OTL troops up to the border only till 2nd July, because:
a, the late start. Partly because of the Balkans campaign, but also because it was felt, the Rumanians should not be informed about everything too early
b, the abysmal road and railroad network East of Bucharest. Or rather, everywhere, that wasn«t Austria-Hungary previously.
While it could be argued, with informing the Rumanians earlier, it would be possible to push the existing, OTL troops up to the border earlier – I’m not certain, even THAT could have been done till 22nd June – but TMP and you are seriously thinking about pushing more troops up to the border in less time.
German planning originally emphasized a major attack from out of Romania, which would pincer the Red Army forces in Ukraine. They had 12th Army of fourteen divisions deployed for this mission, including four mobile divisions. However, this plan was abandoned after the crisis in the Balkans, when the British began landing troops in Greece. 12th Army was redeployed to Bulgaria on March 18, and its place was taken by the weak 11th Army.

In this timeline, 11th Army is much stronger, having all German divisions in its structure. It also has the 5th Panzer Group to assist its attack. They will be able to make their assault regardless of how ready or unready the Romanians are. Their participation is only required for flank support: 3rd Army into Bukovina, and 4th Army into Bessarabia.

Hitler met with Antonescu in Munich and informed him about Operation Barbarossa on June 12, gaining his full co-operation. But Antonescu didn't alert the Army leadership until June 20. Again, this was a product of the de-emphasized importance of an attack from out of Romania. If the Germans required more participation from the Romanian Army, then they would have had their military consul in Romania alert the leadership immediately after Hitlers talk with Antonescu.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
Even IF the Rumanians are informed earlier, the road and railway network simply could not manage that many troops. Even IF they were awailable.
You say that the roads and railways in Romania were bad, but you don't quantify this in any meaningful way, or provide any citations on this. How is anyone supposed to determine the validity of your claim about bad infrastructure prohibiting the deployment of more troops to Romania?

Lets put this discussion on more solid footing, by looking at something substantive. This map of Romanias railways is dated from 1935. It shows more than adequate coverage over the entire country, including the area where 11th Army was deployed to. The Germans were able to move troops and supplys to Botosani without any noted difficultys.

Railway-Romania-1935.jpg
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
Also, I very much doubt, two extra Infantry Divisons in Galizia would have that much of an impact.
Your doubts don't count for anything. You really ought to have read 'The Longest Day' article listed in the Summary. The Germans attacked Kovel with two divisions, while the Soviets defended with two divisions. The Germans attacked Rava Russkaya and Nemirov with five divisions, while the Soviets defended with two divisions. This was an unfavourable force ratio when taking into account the fortifications of the Molotov line. An extra two divisions would have enabled a faster capture of both those towns.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
TMP did another What If, with a jumping point in 1940, and that looked almost exactly like yours. We had quite a lot of discussion on that, and quite a few (I would say, most) of his ideas were disproven.
If you think those discussions are relevant to the discussion, then by all means, provide a link and a brief description of them.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
Oh, I see. 500 tanks aren’t a “substantial number”. It’s only about 16-20% of the total available on 22 June at the front. The average for the 17 front-line divisions was 192, so three “average” divisions would be 576, not “less, than 500”.
Historically, the Germans had assembled 17 Panzer divisions with around 3650 tanks to the Eastern front. In the ATL, there are an extra 3 Panzer divisions with around 500 tanks. This represent an increase of only 13.7% of the total tanks available. That is not a substantially greater number of tanks.

The number of tanks in the Panzer divisions varied depending on whether it was a two battalion or three battalion structure. 1st, 11th, 13th, 14th, and 16th Panzer divisions had an average of 154-166 tanks. The other Panzer divisions had anywhere from 200-278 tanks.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
Not that it matters, Germany wasn’t able to produce enough as it was, extra 100, less, than 500 or 5000 had the same chance to be produced between late summer 1940 and May 1941. Zero.
You have fallen prey to historical determinism. Nothing was set in stone in the way you imagine it to be. Your claim is so lacking in nuance its ridiculous. You seriously think that the chance of Germany producing 100 extra tanks was the same as them producing 5000 extra tanks? Thats absolute rubbish; no one will take you serious with that kindof talk. There is a massive difference between 100 extra tanks and 5000 extra tanks, and the fact that you can't see that shows that you are irrational.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
You are probably aware, there was a serious shortage of Pz IVs as it was – the Pz.IV-platoons were cosmetically set to 4 tanks instead of 5, and even that lower number couldn’t be met in quite a few cases. The same was true for Pz II-platoons, only there it was possible to substitute Pz Is instead. Not, that those machines had much worth…

We aren’t even talking about all those field howitzers, AT-Guns, vehicles for all those extra divisions. As it was, the German Army didn’t have enough of those, the divisions in the West were already using captured stuff, and even so, quite a few divisions marching into the su were equipped with captured French trucks.
The results of the armaments program inaugerated in August 1940 speaks for itself. Rustungsprogram B was able to supply the German Army with the minimum amount of weaponry and equipment required for 209 divisions. There were shortages in certain categorys of weapons, certainly (foremost among them tanks and AFVs), but the production was adequate for the most part. In order to supply the requirements of an Army with 20 extra divisions, there would have needed to be a change in the German economy. This is all addressed in the original post.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
The last sentence in the quote is probably the most important. North-Eastern Romania could not facilitate that larger logistical footprint.
You claim, but do not so demonstrate.
Huszar666 wrote:
07 May 2023 11:58
I agree with Richard Anderson. All those corporate buzzwords are just empty shells. No one – even in corporate – is taking them seriously, except when they are trying to look smart and talk about nothing for hours.
That is nonsense. Full stop. The economys of every country involved in WW2 had to utilise rationalisation in order to increase production. There were no exceptions to this. NONE. No one is foolish enough to suggest that rationalisation had no effects on productivity. What is in dispute is the scale of the effect that it had on productivity.

To be fair to Richard, there is a lack of hard data to determine the importance of rationalisation in any quantitative way. But it didn't need to yield a massive increase in productivity; even a relatively small increase could have given the Germans the material they needed to arm and equip those 20 extra divisions.
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Peter89 » 08 May 2023 06:30

What is a division, one might ask. The men? The NCOs? The officiers? Their training? Their rearward services? Their vehicles? Their infantry equipment? The signals equipment? Their artillery? Their AT capabilities? Their AA guns? Their combat infantry strength?

How weak a division must be before it is considered not-a-division? If its artillery is lost, is it still a division? If it loses its vehicles or horses? If it loses its HQ, but retains its combat strength, can it be considered a division?

Extra 20 "divisions" that are able to cope with Eastern Front fight are not easy to come by.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Avalancheon » 08 May 2023 07:35

gebhk wrote:
07 May 2023 15:08
As ever this seems to be an exercise in attempting to 'cheat the laws of nature'. At the most basic level, up until Barbarossa, Germany had a small edge in GDP over its enemies and was winning, not least for that reason. And it was the support of the Soviet economy that made a big contribution to that small edge. Invading the SU took away that advantage and no border victory was going to make much dent in that. GDP is an excellent indicator of who is going to win a particular conflict, especially if that conflict is a total war of attrition. The only hope of the side with the weaker GDP is to win by means of either destroying the enemy from within, some wunderwaffe or by the enemy giving up. Translation in our context: the Soviet leadership, apalled by the higher than IRL losses, throwing in the towel. Not likely in my opinion.
Your analysis is very flawed. Germany and its conquered territorys had a combined GDP greater than the Soviet Union. Germany produced substantially more iron, steel, and coal than the Soviets before they went to war. And after they went to war, this disparity increased even more. Invasions have a disastrous effect on the economy of the defending country, as was recently demonstrated by the Ukraines GDP declining by over one-third after the Russian invasion (!). Here are a few citations to demonstrate the point.

''As result of the German invasion of World War II, the Economy of the Soviet Union suffered punishing blows, with Soviet GDP falling 34% between 1940 and 1942. Industrial output did not recover to its 1940 level for almost a decade.'' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_o ... viet_Union

''The headlong Soviet retreat had cost the country dear. By November 1941 territories which accounted for 63 per cent of coal production, 68 per cent of iron, 58 per cent of steel, 60 per cent of aluminium, 41 percent of the railway network and 47 per cent of land under grain had fallen to the Wehrmacht. Almost half the population and one third of Soviet productive capacity was lost or threatened.'' -The Soviet Union 1917-1991, by Martin Mccauley.

''Economically, the 1939 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Britain and France was only slightly greater than that of Germany. In 1941, the GDP of Germany, its European allies, and its conquests was almost twice that of the Soviet Union, whose economy nearly collapsed under the weight of the German attack. Thus, Germany had the economic potential to fight the Soviets at least to a standstill if Britain and the United States stood aside. However, the entry of the United States into the war increased the economic odds against the Axis: the combined GDP of the Allies in 1942 more than twice that of the Axis.'' -The German War Machine in World War II: An Encyclopedia, by David T. Zabecki.


Germany CAN win the Second World War... Provided it damages the Soviet Union so badly in 1941 that it is unable to recover, leaving it vulnerable to a knockout blow in 1942. The Germans actually did come close to achieving this historically. Mark Harrison places the population of the USSR at 167 million in 1938, and 104.6 million in 1942. If we assume their population in 1940 was at 190 million (as a result of the annexation of Eastern Poland and the Baltics), then that means the Soviets lost about 85 million people to German occupation. That is a really incredible number.

If the USSR is knocked out of the war in 1942 (or even in 1943), then that would tilt the balance of the war permanently in Germanys favour. The GDP imbalance between the Axis and the Allies would not be enough to really matter. Britain and America won't be able to apply their greater GDP to the war effort in any decisive way. If Germany isn't tied down fighting a massive land war against the Soviets, it is basically invulnerable to the Anglo-Americans. They can't raise an Army large enough to invade fortress Europe, let alone produce enough amphibious craft for the effort.

Peter89 wrote:
07 May 2023 16:27
You are correct, and it goes even deeper than that.

If anyone of the Barbarossa whatiffers read the relevant reports from Georg Thomas, they'd know that German economic experts tried to warn the leadership about the false expected yields of Soviet resources. The conditions under which Barbarossa was to be fought were not present. Some food committees claimed it was possible to withdraw an extraordinary amount of food from the SU. That is, if the infrastructure was undamaged and 60% of the Soviet oil was used in this effort...

Thus the idea of a quick and decisive campaign came to be. If Germany had to fight a long and bloody war, they'd lose anyway. For that the Germans deluded themselves and developed totally irrational ideas of judeobolshevism and racial inferiority. Germany had to defeat the SU fast and cheap, otherwise the whole adventure didn't make sense. Well, it didn't make sense. The expectations were so much wrong that it still beggars the imagination.
The original rationale for Operation Barbarossa was flawed, of course. The Germans expected that they would defeat the Soviets in a summer campaign, and follow up with an occupation extending to the Volga river. They anticipated that they would be able to confiscate most of the agricultural produce (mainly grain), loot the Soviet economy of its capital, and harvest its vast natural resources (coal, iron, oil, etc). The Germans were overconfident, planning to conduct a short campaign followed by a smash and grab; this would put them in a position to successfully wage war against Britain. In retrospect, there was no realistic chance of this happening in 1941.

The Germans would obviously not be able to totally defeat the Soviet Union and gain any real economic benefit out of it in that timespan. But there was a real opportunity for them to pull this off in 1942. Remember, the Soviets had been whittled down to a population of 104.6 million, while the Axis had a population of 147.8 million. The Germans could have landed a knockout blow in 1942, but they missed the mark.

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by gebhk » 08 May 2023 12:16

Economically, the 1939 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Britain and France was only slightly greater than that of Germany.
However, the GDP of Britain, its colonies and Dominions was almost double that of Germany, a point often conveniently forgotten by alternative history buffs.
Thus, Germany had the economic potential to fight the Soviets at least to a standstill if Britain and the United States stood aside.
Undoubtedly true, but irrelevant because Britain and the US were NOT standing aside.
Your analysis is very flawed.
Some evidence supporting that would be helpful. The number-crunching rather supports the analysis.
Germany and its conquered territorys had a combined GDP greater than the Soviet Union.
True but not really relevant. With equal validity one could say that the Soviet Union and its allies had a combined GDP greater than Germany, which would be equally true and equally unhelpful, because Germany, its allies and conquered territories were at war with the Soviet Union and its allies and conquered territories. Unless you compare like with like there is little benefit to the comparison.

The irony is that in the first half of 1941, the initial slight allied lead at the start of the war had dropped to a ratio of 0.38 and an Axis victory seemed inevitable unless the Soviet Union or the US entered the war on the Allied side. The Fuhrer obliged on both counts.

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by ljadw » 08 May 2023 13:33

The economic benefits for Germany if Barbarossa was successful,is a myth,an invention,a hoax :
the occupation of European Russia was a luxury Germany could not afford
the exploitation implied a colonization which was impossible
the transport of the Russian oil and grain was impossible
besides :
Germany did not need the oil of the Caucasus as after the fall of the USSR,Germany would need less oil
the production of the oil of the Caucasus would ruin the synthetic oil industry
the same for the grain from the East :
if the Russian grain was cheaper than the German grain , the German farmers would be ruined, if the Russian grain was more expensive, no one would buy them,and the enormous investments ( billions of RM ) would be lost .
And, in the first half of 1941 Germany was losing the war ,which was the reason for Barbarossa .
And Hitler did not oblige on both counts : war with the US was already a fact :the Atlantic Fleet,commanded by King, collaborated with the RN and was chasing the U Boats .
But still,given the desperate situation of Germany before Barbarossa, the Barbarossa decision was logical,as there was nothing else Hitler could do .

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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Peter89 » 08 May 2023 16:26

Avalancheon wrote:
08 May 2023 07:35
gebhk wrote:
07 May 2023 15:08
As ever this seems to be an exercise in attempting to 'cheat the laws of nature'. At the most basic level, up until Barbarossa, Germany had a small edge in GDP over its enemies and was winning, not least for that reason. And it was the support of the Soviet economy that made a big contribution to that small edge. Invading the SU took away that advantage and no border victory was going to make much dent in that. GDP is an excellent indicator of who is going to win a particular conflict, especially if that conflict is a total war of attrition. The only hope of the side with the weaker GDP is to win by means of either destroying the enemy from within, some wunderwaffe or by the enemy giving up. Translation in our context: the Soviet leadership, apalled by the higher than IRL losses, throwing in the towel. Not likely in my opinion.
Your analysis is very flawed. Germany and its conquered territorys had a combined GDP greater than the Soviet Union. Germany produced substantially more iron, steel, and coal than the Soviets before they went to war. And after they went to war, this disparity increased even more. Invasions have a disastrous effect on the economy of the defending country, as was recently demonstrated by the Ukraines GDP declining by over one-third after the Russian invasion (!). Here are a few citations to demonstrate the point.

''As result of the German invasion of World War II, the Economy of the Soviet Union suffered punishing blows, with Soviet GDP falling 34% between 1940 and 1942. Industrial output did not recover to its 1940 level for almost a decade.'' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_o ... viet_Union

''The headlong Soviet retreat had cost the country dear. By November 1941 territories which accounted for 63 per cent of coal production, 68 per cent of iron, 58 per cent of steel, 60 per cent of aluminium, 41 percent of the railway network and 47 per cent of land under grain had fallen to the Wehrmacht. Almost half the population and one third of Soviet productive capacity was lost or threatened.'' -The Soviet Union 1917-1991, by Martin Mccauley.

''Economically, the 1939 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Britain and France was only slightly greater than that of Germany. In 1941, the GDP of Germany, its European allies, and its conquests was almost twice that of the Soviet Union, whose economy nearly collapsed under the weight of the German attack. Thus, Germany had the economic potential to fight the Soviets at least to a standstill if Britain and the United States stood aside. However, the entry of the United States into the war increased the economic odds against the Axis: the combined GDP of the Allies in 1942 more than twice that of the Axis.'' -The German War Machine in World War II: An Encyclopedia, by David T. Zabecki.


Germany CAN win the Second World War... Provided it damages the Soviet Union so badly in 1941 that it is unable to recover, leaving it vulnerable to a knockout blow in 1942. The Germans actually did come close to achieving this historically. Mark Harrison places the population of the USSR at 167 million in 1938, and 104.6 million in 1942. If we assume their population in 1940 was at 190 million (as a result of the annexation of Eastern Poland and the Baltics), then that means the Soviets lost about 85 million people to German occupation. That is a really incredible number.

If the USSR is knocked out of the war in 1942 (or even in 1943), then that would tilt the balance of the war permanently in Germanys favour. The GDP imbalance between the Axis and the Allies would not be enough to really matter. Britain and America won't be able to apply their greater GDP to the war effort in any decisive way. If Germany isn't tied down fighting a massive land war against the Soviets, it is basically invulnerable to the Anglo-Americans. They can't raise an Army large enough to invade fortress Europe, let alone produce enough amphibious craft for the effort.

Peter89 wrote:
07 May 2023 16:27
You are correct, and it goes even deeper than that.

If anyone of the Barbarossa whatiffers read the relevant reports from Georg Thomas, they'd know that German economic experts tried to warn the leadership about the false expected yields of Soviet resources. The conditions under which Barbarossa was to be fought were not present. Some food committees claimed it was possible to withdraw an extraordinary amount of food from the SU. That is, if the infrastructure was undamaged and 60% of the Soviet oil was used in this effort...

Thus the idea of a quick and decisive campaign came to be. If Germany had to fight a long and bloody war, they'd lose anyway. For that the Germans deluded themselves and developed totally irrational ideas of judeobolshevism and racial inferiority. Germany had to defeat the SU fast and cheap, otherwise the whole adventure didn't make sense. Well, it didn't make sense. The expectations were so much wrong that it still beggars the imagination.
The original rationale for Operation Barbarossa was flawed, of course. The Germans expected that they would defeat the Soviets in a summer campaign, and follow up with an occupation extending to the Volga river. They anticipated that they would be able to confiscate most of the agricultural produce (mainly grain), loot the Soviet economy of its capital, and harvest its vast natural resources (coal, iron, oil, etc). The Germans were overconfident, planning to conduct a short campaign followed by a smash and grab; this would put them in a position to successfully wage war against Britain. In retrospect, there was no realistic chance of this happening in 1941.

The Germans would obviously not be able to totally defeat the Soviet Union and gain any real economic benefit out of it in that timespan. But there was a real opportunity for them to pull this off in 1942. Remember, the Soviets had been whittled down to a population of 104.6 million, while the Axis had a population of 147.8 million. The Germans could have landed a knockout blow in 1942, but they missed the mark.
"Axis" is not an alliance, but a loose coalition of opportunist nations, who had more territorial disputes against one another than against the Soviets.

The German plan was wrong. It was wrong in 1941 and 1942 and 1943. The German industry and the population did not need the Soviet resources in order to wage the war against Britain in the time window that could bring about a German victory anyway. Germany needed oil, food, rubber and manganese, the rest could be imported from elsewhere. In fact Germany could take all of these resources either by the OTL increase in production or in a campaign directed towards the Middle East, where Germany even had local support and they didn't need to antagonize anyone except the British.

The idea that Germany needed "Lebensraum" is idiotic. Germany did not have a population surplus, they couldn't even populate former Poland and Czechia.

The Thomas report(s) arrive to the conclusion that it was entweder-oder (either-or) when it came to food and oil. Both could hardly be taken at full production, even in theory. In reality, neither could be taken. The food requisitioned by the Germans - which was done by completely untenable methods - was indeed important, but the price they paid for it was disproportionate, and this couldn't serve as the basis of a long-term occupation.

The meeting of the Staatsekretäre in May 1941 pointed out that the extermination of the Soviet population centres is necessary to free up enough food for Germany. Thus it was clear, even to them that the Soviet agricultural surplus was not enough to feed Germany (and the rest of Europe). In fact, the later Soviet Union imported food from the West.

Oil production steadily increased on the continent, and by 1943 the oil production in Axis held territories reached proper levels.

Rubber was really important, but Germany could buy it from other third parties, too. And there were blockade runners. After all they didn't stop producing rubber after Barbarossa.

Manganese was available in a lot of places all around Europe, the Soviet import was nice but not indespensible.

The Germans also made no investments into agriculture. They simply introduced a looting economy (Raubwirtschaft). The wide undeveloped regions in Poland, the Carpathian Basin and the Balkans had terrible yields and sometimes almost feudal practices.

There was no economic sense behind Barbarossa. Even hinting that makes no sense because if the Soviets lose every single battle and blow up their economy, the Germans would still lose against Britain, especially is she's joined by the US. Stretched along a many thousand kms front, controlling millions of square kms with hundreds of millions of people through sheer terror is idiotic, false and quite impossible given Germany's force to do this.

To think that Germany is going to be stronger by a two front war against the largest nation in the world that fields a much larger army and air force, outproduces and out-conscript Germany in about every single item, and rules over such a territory that alone can stretch German forces thin, can only be a misunderstanding or the lack of knowledge.

Back to 1942.

The fundamental problem that misled the historians and many contemporaries is the seemingly rapid advance in the South and the seemingly easy victories the Germans had, while the other sectors of the front became rather static.

In reality, the Germans have lost the war by 1942. Their unnecessary gamble in the East, their unnecessary DoW on the USA and their commitments in the Mediterraneum and the Atlantic meant that they were on the ropes. After the initial rush they held such forward positions that they had some strength left for a final, weak kick, but no more. This was the reality. I strongly recommend you to read Handakte OKW-Denkchrift vom 6. Juni 1942: "Wehrkraft der Wehrmacht im Frühjahr 1942" mit Stellungnahme der Seekriegsleitung (Skl) vom 30. Juni 1942 or BArch RM 8/1619. Also the relevant pages of the OKW's KTB. In summary, the Germans had 35% of their infantry combat strength in AGN and AGM, while they had 55% in AGS. The OKW expected to fill the ranks of AGN and AGM to 55% by August 1942 and the AGS to 100%. The Panzer "divisions" of AGN and AGM were to have 1 Panzer Abteilungen with 40-50 tanks, meaning: they were operating at or below 35% of their nominal strength. The Luftwaffe counted with 50-60% theoretical operational readiness, which corresponds to 60-70% of their presumed combat power. But we also know that the Wehrmacht's window of opportunity lasted until August, when both AGN and AGM was beaten up terribly, and whatever reinforcements they received until then, vaporized under the weight of the Soviet attacks.

The only exception from this was the AGS where the original strength was higher and the leadership pushed the formations forward using the most questionable means, which became more and more common and problematic as the campaign went forward. (The most widely known of this was the assignment of Axis allied troops to the front line.) However, the Soviet counterattacks and the stiffening resistance basically stopped the German advance in August.

And this is the point that misled you and many others, including historians and contemporaries. The "one last push" myth. The Germans tried that one last push. Many times, in fact. And they failed. They tried to do the one last push in the North; Finnish forces were never freed up because Leningrad didn't fall; they tried to do one last push against the Oranienbaum bridgehead, against the neck of the Demyansk salient; they tried to encircle the Toropets bulge, they tried to encircle the Sukinichi bulge, they tried and tried and tried but they failed. They were defeated. Yes, they were, well before Stalingrad, and not because of the lack of trying.

The postwar narrative is bent by the events at and after Stalingrad. It seems like a colossal and obvious blunder, which, if corrected, could have turned the German campaign of 1942 from a disaster to a victory. Ideas like "why didn't the Germans bypass it" and other such notions are commonplace even today, even on this forum.

Now, the question arises, if Germans could actually take and hold the Caucasus and the land between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. If they couldn't hold it, why did they squander their limited forces to try to capture it? The usual answer is "not to get it for themselves, but to deny it for the Soviets". But the advance towards the Caucasus direction was not really an operation, it was more like a large-scale raid. The Germans simply did not have the means to take and hold the Volga line, the Caspian sea shore and the Caucasus front. Thus starting such a raid made no sense and had no prospect of achieving anything resembling a victory.

Summarizing this, the Germans had in reality a very narrow window of opportunity before they were overwhelmed by the Soviets, and they were not in a position to deal a decisive blow in 1942. Their only chance was to build on Soviet mistakes, because their force was simply not enough to force their will on the Soviets. The Soviets were keen to commit many mistakes, and the Germans were eager to exploit them. But time ran out and by the time the Germans reorganized their deployment in July, the Soviet blow was just weeks away. German ATL possibilities in 1942 could only mean defensive success.

The only outcome-changing what-if in this regard is a major reshuffle of the forces on a strategic level. The evacuation of Africa and the abandonment of salients are the only possibilities worth to mention. This is why I said that a German WI that doesn't begin what the Germans sacrifice for extra gains in the Eastern front, is worthless.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

Huszar666
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Huszar666 » 08 May 2023 19:16

Oh yeah, this is TMP. The arguments are word-for-word the same, not to speak about the style...
Ah, so we're coming right out of the gates by labeling people as cultists, are we? Its nice to see such a balanced, impartial stance from posters.
I'm actually interested in What ifs, and am doing that for around two decades by now. And yes, TMP HAD his own cultists, who were regurgitating his TRUTH. Interestingly, you give his arguments, word-for-word. So, who knows?
German planning originally emphasized a major attack from out of Romania, which would pincer the Red Army forces in Ukraine. They had 12th Army of fourteen divisions deployed for this mission, including four mobile divisions. However, this plan was abandoned after the crisis in the Balkans, when the British began landing troops in Greece. 12th Army was redeployed to Bulgaria on March 18, and its place was taken by the weak 11th Army.
Most of those troops still could have been sent to NE-Rumania, instead of Galizia. Probably someone took a Kübelwagen for a tour, and after seeing the picturesque landscape of Moldavia, noped out really fast.
In this timeline, 11th Army is much stronger, having all German divisions in its structure. It also has the 5th Panzer Group to assist its attack. They will be able to make their assault regardless of how ready or unready the Romanians are. Their participation is only required for flank support: 3rd Army into Bukovina, and 4th Army into Bessarabia.
Sure, why not? Since the 12th Army noped out, despite redeploying troops from the Balkans to NE-Romania is about as hard, as redeploying them to Galizia, let's invent some other troops to take their place. Do you want an ISD too? Maybe a DS Mk 2?
You say that the roads and railways in Romania were bad, but you don't quantify this in any meaningful way, or provide any citations on this. How is anyone supposed to determine the validity of your claim about bad infrastructure prohibiting the deployment of more troops to Romania?

Lets put this discussion on more solid footing, by looking at something substantive. This map of Romanias railways is dated from 1935. It shows more than adequate coverage over the entire country, including the area where 11th Army was deployed to. The Germans were able to move troops and supplys to Botosani without any noted difficultys.
Let's put this discussion on a solid footing. I actually come and live in Hungary (that's the country next to Romania), and I happen to know, how well-developed the road network in Hungary was in the 30's and 40's. I actually do have a notion, how developed the road network in the liberated part of Transylvania was.
Everyone, setting foot into Central Europe knows, the farther you get from Wien, the worse the roads get.
I do happen to have driven around between Tulcea and Pitesti back in 2004, and yes, the road quality was worse, than in Hungary. Including dirt tracks, that on the maps were indicated as tertiary roads.
Just to be sure, I also checked Google Street View. It's quite informative.
So yes, I think, I have quite and authority on road quality in the early 40s East of Wien.
Have YOU ever been to Romania, preferably in the countryside?
This map of Romanias railways is dated from 1935. It shows more than adequate coverage over the entire country, including the area where 11th Army was deployed to. The Germans were able to move troops and supplys to Botosani without any noted difficultys.
Thank you for proving my point. There is exactly ONE (eins, uno, jedan) rail line from Bucharest to the North, namely the Bucarest-Buzau-Foscani-Border, with a branch of THE SAME line going up to Iassy. Do you know, what else you need to unload stuff and disembark troops from a train?
Developed train yards.
Take a look at Google Maps/Earth on ANY of the "big" cities in Modavia. What did you NOT find? Developed train yards.
If you think those discussions are relevant to the discussion, then by all means, provide a link and a brief description of them.
Sorry, TMP, you know, where those threads are (this subforum, a page or two back), and you know fairly well, what folks told you there.
Historically, the Germans had assembled 17 Panzer divisions with around 3650 tanks to the Eastern front. In the ATL, there are an extra 3 Panzer divisions with around 500 tanks. This represent an increase of only 13.7% of the total tanks available. That is not a substantially greater number of tanks.

The number of tanks in the Panzer divisions varied depending on whether it was a two battalion or three battalion structure. 1st, 11th, 13th, 14th, and 16th Panzer divisions had an average of 154-166 tanks. The other Panzer divisions had anywhere from 200-278 tanks.
Oh, you meant 2 Btl-Divisons? I must have overlooked that piece of crucial information! But hey, you could also raise 6 Divisions wit 1 Btl each, and call them PzDiv! It is the same difference. 3 "average" PzDiv with an "average" of 192 or 3 "light" divisions of 150 or so... You build 450 or 560 tanks with the same chance. Zero. I told you in the old thread already.
At best, Germany could have built around a dozen extra Pz III and IV each, plus, say, a bit more, than that in Pz IIs. And that is generous. Since real-life production changes aren't about spewing corporate bullshit, and abraka dabra, the figures double the next day. Take a look at Pz 38, Ausf S ;)
You have fallen prey to historical determinism. Nothing was set in stone in the way you imagine it to be. Your claim is so lacking in nuance its ridiculous. You seriously think that the chance of Germany producing 100 extra tanks was the same as them producing 5000 extra tanks? Thats absolute rubbish; no one will take you serious with that kindof talk. There is a massive difference between 100 extra tanks and 5000 extra tanks, and the fact that you can't see that shows that you are irrational.
Dude, I actually write and post a fantasy novel at another site. (Really) There is actually NO (nada) difference between Germany building 100 or 5000 extra tanks between late summer 1940 and early summer 1941. Since neither could be done.
Even if they could build anything extra, don't you think, the already there and known shortfalls would be filled? Not raise even more Btls (assuming, there were trained crews, troops, artillery, kolonnen, etc), making the hole even deeper?
The results of the armaments program inaugerated in August 1940 speaks for itself. Rustungsprogram B was able to supply the German Army with the minimum amount of weaponry and equipment required for 209 divisions. There were shortages in certain categorys of weapons, certainly (foremost among them tanks and AFVs), but the production was adequate for the most part. In order to supply the requirements of an Army with 20 extra divisions, there would have needed to be a change in the German economy. This is all addressed in the original post.
Sure, why not? But, why stop there? It's enough to wave the magic wand, spew some corporate, and you have as many weapons and troops as you want? Why stop? Build a German Army of 500 Divisions! All Panzer! And that ISD and DS Mk 2!
You claim, but do not so demonstrate.
I did.
That is nonsense. Full stop. The economys of every country involved in WW2 had to utilise rationalisation in order to increase production. There were no exceptions to this. NONE. No one is foolish enough to suggest that rationalisation had no effects on productivity. What is in dispute is the scale of the effect that it had on productivity.

To be fair to Richard, there is a lack of hard data to determine the importance of rationalisation in any quantitative way. But it didn't need to yield a massive increase in productivity; even a relatively small increase could have given the Germans the material they needed to arm and equip those 20 extra divisions.
Actually, if we synergize virtual functionalities and productize cutting-edge markets, we could expedite downstream markets and so iterate holistic initiatives. The unleashed back-end e-tailers would revolutionize clicks-and-mortar machine learning. Also, whiteboard cutting-edge networks would deploy enterprise deliverables.
I have worked corporate for 4,5 years.

Huszar666
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by Huszar666 » 08 May 2023 19:55

On the serious side, though.

Germany didn't need a knock-out blow in the Border Battles.
Germany needed a sustainable force rotation and a transition of robust supply-chains (sorry, if we spew corporate, we should do it correctly).
Translating that to normal English, a good second strategic echelon, that was more, than the puny 2nd Army and two PzDivs, i.e a meaningful reserve, and enough trucks, railway engineers and trains, to bring enough supply up to, and including Moscow. And Tichwin and Rostow.
No matter, how badly the soviets destroy everything.
Even THEN, a quick, one-season (or year) campaign was out of the question. The distances were simply too large. Even IF the su collapsed some time after the Border Battles - and even that was very close to wishful thinking - reaching the AA-line, EXCLUSIVE the Caucasus would be very hard to accomplish in one year (season).

All these threads about "Adolf getting off dope for a minute, and realizing, how wast and dangerous the su is", just to reenact the very same wishful thinking and misunderstanding the actual strategical situation. Just on dope.
The wishful thinking of Adolf & Co was: we destroy the su in a quick, one year (season) campaign, and THEN, the UK has no other choice, but to shine our boots!
That had quite a few leaps of faith.
But, no, we do dope, and say: the su is much more dangerous, than we thought, while we were on dope, so let's raise xyz more divisions, by being real teutonic industrials, and we do a TWO-year campaign, and THEN, the UK will surely have no other choice, than shine our boots! Gimme more dope!
The fallacy in that chain of arguments is (not counting too much dope): the whole Eastern Campaign was meant to be over in ONE year, before the US could enter the fray, and deprive the UK of its last continental dagger (French Revolution and Napoleon, anyone?). If it is realized, the whole spiel would take MORE than ONE year, the remaining minimal rationalization just went out of the window.
IF it is realized, the su is strong enough, to last, MORE, than ONE year, it is a threat mid-term, and Adolf&Co wanted Lebensraum so bad, the logical thing to do would be to defeat the UK as fast as possible, and NOT going on a multiple-years escapade in the East, while the UK was sitting there on its islands and sending bombers to Berlin. And tying up a... certain... second strategic echelon in the Normandy.
So, IF Adolf&Co get off dope long enough, to realize, blah, blah, blah, Border Battles, extra divisions, blah, blah, blah, already in MAY 1940, why don't they get off dope enough to realize, they should invade the UK in 1940, wait till 1942, and THEN invade the su with everything they have, could plunder from the UK and manufacture in the extra one year?
By June 1942, they could have every last PzD up to full 3-Btl-strength, fill in the shortfalls, retire the Pz. Is, get rid of the cosmetic 4-PzIV-each-platoon thing, have a couple of extra PzDivs, without changing a thing.
Oh, and probably the Teheran conference would involve Adolf, Benito, the Shah, Rashid Ali, Chandar Bose, and İsmet İnönü, sometimes in early 1942. Guess what.

gebhk
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Re: An Alternate Timeline: Operation Barbarossa

Post by gebhk » 08 May 2023 20:06

Do you know, what else you need to unload stuff and disembark troops from a train? Developed train yards.
That, I'm afraid, is not true.

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