What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

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PunctuationHorror
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What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Aug 2023 14:54

As a spin-off from this thread here viewtopic.php?p=2487951#p2487951 with imho good input from huszar:

What if the Germans decide in July 1942 to go for the Caspian Sea and cut off the whole Caucasus?

After raiding the Don bend, Army Group B does NOT head towards Volga and Stalingrad. Instead they establish a frontline from Voronesh to Rostov and from Rostov - via Elista - to the Caspian Sea, a frontline somehow along the Manych and Kuma river (as shown in the attachment), while Army Group A clears the Caucasus area.

Would the Germans have been able to establish such a line? Would they have been able to repel a Soviet winter offensive and hold the territory they had won? How would a Soviet winter offensive have looked like?

What would have been the consequences if they had succeeded in holding it permanently - say at least for most of 1943?

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Map source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... Nov_42.jpg
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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Aida1 » 20 Aug 2023 17:53

InevitablY leads to Army group A being cutoff and you are far out on a limb when you suppose Army Group A could actually take the Caucasus.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Aug 2023 19:49

Aida1 wrote:
20 Aug 2023 17:53
InevitablY leads to Army group A being cutoff [...]
How?

In this scenario, the 2nd Hungarian, 8th Italian and 3rd Romanian armies would be closer together.

The 6th Army would be somewhere on the lower Donets river, guarding the area around Rostov and the lower Don. There would be no overextension towards the Volga and no meat grinder at Stalingrad which means that the 6th Army would still be in an usable condition. Add the reinforcements that went into the Stalingrad-grinder and would still be available in this scenario. Add the units that were deployed from the West but came too late for the Stalingrad trap. There would be fewer supply problems for the 6th Army as well.

The 4th Panzer Army would probably be between Rostov and Elista, and the Romanian 4th Army would be in the Elista area.

There would be no open flanks, no thinly stretched frontlines and no exposed edge (as Stalingrad was historically, just look at the dispositions in early November 42) to invite an Uranus-like encirclement.

How would the Soviets manage to cut off the Caucasus if the area around Rostov is strongly guarded? Launch an offensive from Astrakhan?

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Huszar666 » 20 Aug 2023 20:08

Morning,

I would actually push the front up to the Volga - that is SOUTH of Stalingrad, say, from where the Don-Volga-Kanal is located. From there to the Caspian Sea is 500-550km, and that would close all and any land connection. The Romaninan 3rd and 4th armies could cover around 250km, maybe 300.
Germany would still need the 2nd Hungarian, 8th Italian and the 6th German armies to cover the front between Voronesh and the Volga (EXCLUDING Stalingrad!). The Romanian 3rd covered 140km or so OTL, and there would be another 160km or so from Kletskaya to the Volga, excluding the Don Bend NE of Kletskaya. Around 15 German divisions would be needed for that, and another 12 or so for the Lower Volga. Germany had around 15 InfDiv between Kletskaya and Stalingrad, so around the same, as it would be needed for the Northern Front.
Even if we discount the few divisions, that went to Rzev from the 11th Army, there would be around 4 to 6 available for the Southern Front. With a few motDiv, it could be done. Barely.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Aida1 » 20 Aug 2023 20:26

PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Aug 2023 19:49
Aida1 wrote:
20 Aug 2023 17:53
InevitablY leads to Army group A being cutoff [...]
How?

In this scenario, the 2nd Hungarian, 8th Italian and 3rd Romanian armies would be closer together.

The 6th Army would be somewhere on the lower Donets river, guarding the area around Rostov and the lower Don. There would be no overextension towards the Volga and no meat grinder at Stalingrad which means that the 6th Army would still be in an usable condition. Add the reinforcements that went into the Stalingrad-grinder and would still be available in this scenario. Add the units that were deployed from the West but came too late for the Stalingrad trap. There would be fewer supply problems for the 6th Army as well.

The 4th Panzer Army would probably be between Rostov and Elista, and the Romanian 4th Army would be in the Elista area.

There would be no open flanks, no thinly stretched frontlines and no exposed edge (as Stalingrad was historically, just look at the dispositions in early November 42) to invite an Uranus-like encirclement.

How would the Soviets manage to cut off the Caucasus if the area around Rostov is strongly guarded? Launch an offensive from Astrakhan?
You would first have to explain how you are going to take the Caucasian oilfields with the historical forces available that failed in this. You fail to explain that.
And the armies of the allies are the fundamental weakness that remains.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Kurt_S » 20 Aug 2023 22:47

The Soviets have a large merchant fleet on the Caspian that isn't impacted.

They have war production in Transcaucasus and Lend Lease coming from Iran.

I don't think this makes any real difference.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by KDF33 » 21 Aug 2023 00:56

PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Aug 2023 14:54
As a spin-off from this thread here viewtopic.php?p=2487951#p2487951 with imho good input from huszar:

What if the Germans decide in July 1942 to go for the Caspian Sea and cut off the whole Caucasus?

(...)

What would have been the consequences if they had succeeded in holding it permanently - say at least for most of 1943?
The Soviets already had the following forces in the Caucasus:

1. North Caucasian Front, with 216,100 men (21 divisions)
2. Transcaucasian Front, with ~400,000 men (20 divisions)
3. North Caucasian Military District, with ~147,000 men (no divisions; presumably mainly trainees/replacements?)

For a total of ~763,100 men.

How do you propose dealing with them?

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 21 Aug 2023 13:57

KDF33 wrote:
21 Aug 2023 00:56
PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Aug 2023 14:54
As a spin-off from this thread here viewtopic.php?p=2487951#p2487951 with imho good input from huszar:

What if the Germans decide in July 1942 to go for the Caspian Sea and cut off the whole Caucasus?

(...)

What would have been the consequences if they had succeeded in holding it permanently - say at least for most of 1943?
The Soviets already had the following forces in the Caucasus:

1. North Caucasian Front, with 216,100 men (21 divisions)
2. Transcaucasian Front, with ~400,000 men (20 divisions)
3. North Caucasian Military District, with ~147,000 men (no divisions; presumably mainly trainees/replacements?)

For a total of ~763,100 men.

How do you propose dealing with them?
Without the run to the Volga and Stalingrad in July/August, more troops, especially Schnelle Truppen, would be availible in the Caucasus. This makes it likely that major parts of the North Caucasian Front and North Caucasian Military District will be overrun/cut off/encircled/destroyed (I) before they can flee into the mountains, and that Grozny (II), and that Makhachkala and the Caspian Sea (III) will be reached in August. With the efforts that were put OTL into Stalingrad, it should be possible to capture Novorossisk earlier and even reach Tuapse (IV).

An armoured raid on Baku would be possible in the future, and the Luftwaffe would also be close enough.

Historically, Army Group A conquered important mountain passes. In ATL, they would do the same but would have more troops, transports, air support etc. at their disposal. Therefore, they would be faster in achieving this. Since the opponent who sits on the mountain is greatly favoured against the opponent who does not, the manpower of the Transcaucasian Front likely would be balanced, even outbalanced. This would likely lead to a situation akin to the Alpine front of 1915-17.

Finally, people and ethnic groups in Caucasus were not very, let's call it, "particularly fond" of Soviet rule. It is open what would have happened, if Georgians, Kalmyks, Chechens and others in that region had a chance to rid themselves from Bolshewiks. There is a reason murderous Stalin "cleaned up" the Caucasus area mercilessly, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deportati ... and_Ingush .

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Aida1 » 21 Aug 2023 14:29

PunctuationHorror wrote:
21 Aug 2023 13:57
KDF33 wrote:
21 Aug 2023 00:56
PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Aug 2023 14:54
As a spin-off from this thread here viewtopic.php?p=2487951#p2487951 with imho good input from huszar:

What if the Germans decide in July 1942 to go for the Caspian Sea and cut off the whole Caucasus?

(...)

What would have been the consequences if they had succeeded in holding it permanently - say at least for most of 1943?
The Soviets already had the following forces in the Caucasus:

1. North Caucasian Front, with 216,100 men (21 divisions)
2. Transcaucasian Front, with ~400,000 men (20 divisions)
3. North Caucasian Military District, with ~147,000 men (no divisions; presumably mainly trainees/replacements?)

For a total of ~763,100 men.

How do you propose dealing with them?
Without the run to the Volga and Stalingrad in July/August, more troops, especially Schnelle Truppen, would be availible in the Caucasus. This makes it likely that major parts of the North Caucasian Front and North Caucasian Military District will be overrun/cut off/encircled/destroyed (I) before they can flee into the mountains, and that Grozny (II), and that Makhachkala and the Caspian Sea (III) will be reached in August. With the efforts that were put OTL into Stalingrad, it should be possible to capture Novorossisk earlier and even reach Tuapse (IV).

An armoured raid on Baku would be possible in the future, and the Luftwaffe would also be close enough.

Historically, Army Group A conquered important mountain passes. In ATL, they would do the same but would have more troops, transports, air support etc. at their disposal. Therefore, they would be faster in achieving this. Since the opponent who sits on the mountain is greatly favoured against the opponent who does not, the manpower of the Transcaucasian Front likely would be balanced, even outbalanced. This would likely lead to a situation akin to the Alpine front of 1915-17.

Finally, people and ethnic groups in Caucasus were not very, let's call it, "particularly fond" of Soviet rule. It is open what would have happened, if Georgians, Kalmyks, Chechens and others in that region had a chance to rid themselves from Bolshewiks. There is a reason murderous Stalin "cleaned up" the Caucasus area mercilessly, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deportati ... and_Ingush .
You are being very optimistic here. And it is more mountain troops you need.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Huszar666 » 21 Aug 2023 18:23

The Soviets already had the following forces in the Caucasus:

1. North Caucasian Front, with 216,100 men (21 divisions)
ehmmm... not to be counting bolts, but did you take a look at where those divisions came from, and what they had (oh, and what they accomplished OTL)?
Hint: they were remnants of the forces north of the Don, in some instances from quite far North. IF the Germans star with an attack on Rostov, and not one at Voronezh, most of those "divisions" wouldn't be there to begin with.
2. Transcaucasian Front, with ~400,000 men (20 divisions)
to be frank, in the Osprey-book about the campaign, I count
11 Rifle or Mountain Rifle Divisions
3 Rifle Bds
1 CavDiv
1 motBde
2 TankBds.

Plus some odds and ends, formed after August 42, or transferred to the Caucasus - the latter being somewhat complicated, if there is no land connection to the su proper.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by KDF33 » 21 Aug 2023 19:39

Huszar666 wrote:
21 Aug 2023 18:23
ehmmm... not to be counting bolts, but did you take a look at where those divisions came from, and what they had (oh, and what they accomplished OTL)?
Hint: they were remnants of the forces north of the Don, in some instances from quite far North.
The Soviet Southern Front was north of the Don, not the North Caucasian Front.

As of July 1, North Caucasian Front had the following divisions:

-17th Cavalry Corps (screening the Sea of Azov): 12th KD, 13th KD, 15th KD, 116th KD
-51st Army (south of Rostov): 91st RD, 138th RD, 156th RD, 157th RD, 110th KD, 115th KD
-47th Army (guarding the Taman peninsula): 32nd Guards RD, 77th Rifle RD
-Under Front HQ: 236th RD, 302nd RD
to be frank, in the Osprey-book about the campaign, I count
11 Rifle or Mountain Rifle Divisions
3 Rifle Bds
1 CavDiv
1 motBde
2 TankBds.
As of July 1, Transcaucasian Front had:

-46th Army (guarding the Caucasus mountain passes): 9th Mountain RD, 20th Mountain RD, 389th RD, 392nd RD, 394th RD, 406th RD, 63rd KD
-44th Army (manning the Terek defensive line): 223rd RD, 414th RD, 416th RD
-45th Army (guarding the Turkish border): 61st RD, 89th RD, 151st RD, 402nd RD, 408th RD, 409th RD
-Deployed in Iran: 75th RD, 1st KD, 23rd KD
-Under Front HQ: 417th RD
Plus some odds and ends, formed after August 42, or transferred to the Caucasus - the latter being somewhat complicated, if there is no land connection to the su proper.
The aforementioned 763,100 men were already in the Caucasus as of July 1, 1942.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Huszar666 » 22 Aug 2023 18:30

As of July 1, North Caucasian Front had the following divisions:

-17th Cavalry Corps (screening the Sea of Azov): 12th KD, 13th KD, 15th KD, 116th KD
-51st Army (south of Rostov): 91st RD, 138th RD, 156th RD, 157th RD, 110th KD, 115th KD
-47th Army (guarding the Taman peninsula): 32nd Guards RD, 77th Rifle RD
-Under Front HQ: 236th RD, 302nd RD
That's 14, not 21.
As of July 1, Transcaucasian Front had:

-46th Army (guarding the Caucasus mountain passes): 9th Mountain RD, 20th Mountain RD, 389th RD, 392nd RD, 394th RD, 406th RD, 63rd KD
-44th Army (manning the Terek defensive line): 223rd RD, 414th RD, 416th RD
-45th Army (guarding the Turkish border): 61st RD, 89th RD, 151st RD, 402nd RD, 408th RD, 409th RD
-Deployed in Iran: 75th RD, 1st KD, 23rd KD
-Under Front HQ: 417th RD
That's indeed 20, but only 10 or 11 against the North.
Plus some odds and ends, formed after August 42, or transferred to the Caucasus - the latter being somewhat complicated, if there is no land connection to the su proper.
The aforementioned 763,100 men were already in the Caucasus as of July 1, 1942.
Odds and ends, like the Airborne corps, redeployed to the Caucasus and redesignated (Guards) Rifle Div/Bde.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by KDF33 » 22 Aug 2023 18:37

Huszar666 wrote:
22 Aug 2023 18:30
That's 14, not 21.
Yes.
That's indeed 20, but only 10 or 11 against the North.
The divisions can be redeployed.
Odds and ends, like the Airborne corps, redeployed to the Caucasus and redesignated (Guards) Rifle Div/Bde.
The Airborne Corps were sent to the Stalingrad area in August, not to the Caucasus.

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by Huszar666 » 22 Aug 2023 18:44

The Osprey book says, page 22, under reinforcements:
11 Gd RifCorps: formed from airborne units in Odshonikidze, 2nd Aug
10 Gd RifCorps: formed in North Caucasus from airborne units, 13th Aug
10 RifCorps: from unknown
The divisions can be redeployed.
Sure they can. For some reason or another, they stayed on the Turkish border and in Persia, though :wink:

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Re: What if the Germans cut off the Caucasus in 1942 - can they hold it?

Post by KDF33 » 22 Aug 2023 20:44

Huszar666 wrote:
22 Aug 2023 18:44
The Osprey book says, page 22, under reinforcements:
11 Gd RifCorps: formed from airborne units in Odshonikidze, 2nd Aug
10 Gd RifCorps: formed in North Caucasus from airborne units, 13th Aug
10 RifCorps: from unknown
Those were formed out of minor airborne units. The Airborne Corps themselves were located in the Moscow Military District.
Sure they can. For some reason or another, they stayed on the Turkish border and in Persia, though :wink:
But they were redeployed.

By 1 November 1942, the Soviets were down to just 2 divisions on the Turkish border.

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