Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Sep 2020 17:58

Thumpalumpacus wrote:
20 Sep 2020 23:13
The leadership purge of the Red Army began in '37, did it not? How might that affect the battle?

It seemed to have some effect on the later Winter War. Would its effects have been felt as soon as 1937?
The purges of 1937 were largely confined to senior generals & Marshals. One possibility is these same men are removed in this WI scenario, then the purge is halted for the war & the lower level generals and senior field grade officers removed in 1938 are not purged as OTL. Rather they continue until they prove deficient & are then removed. This leaves the trained leadership of the Red Army largely intact. I suspect here the large scale doctrinal changes that followed along with the Purge of OTL will not be yet implemented. They may occur later as the war continues, or be heavily influenced by the lessons learned & take on a different character.

If the Purge continues at the same scale of OTL during the war things become very difficult for the Red Army.

Alternately Stalin anticipates this war with Poland in 1935 or 1936 & executes all or part of the purge early. This of course drops the number or trained officers and leads to the expected problems.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by Thumpalumpacus » 26 Sep 2020 19:44

Thanks, Carl. I hadn't really considered an interrupted purge -- nor an accelerated one. I guess I've got a lot to learn about this what-if stuff.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Sep 2020 21:14

You are doing better than most. This is actually a fairly complex question & I wish we had some Russian or Soviet history scholars weigh in.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by James A Pratt III » 06 Oct 2020 23:58

1937 Air war overview at first against the Poles and later the Rumanians the Soviets managed to get air superiority over them but can seem to use it effectively. Later in the year when the German, Italians and Hungarians enter the war they get parity and sometimes superiority in the air. The Bf 109 fighter is better than any other fighter in use at this time. The Ju 87 proved very good in the close air support role.
At the end of the year Foggia Italy was where all the axis air forces set up training bases. It was there the Germans taught their Allies the finger four fighter tactics learned in Spain. During the winter the Soviets flew a few long distance raids on Berlin that really shook a few Germans up.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by James A Pratt III » 31 Oct 2020 21:34

Naval war Artic, North sea and Atlantic
The pocket Battleships Scheer and Deutschland with 3 U-boats raid up in the artic and Kara Sea. The two pocket BBs capture 2 merchant ships and sink a icebreaker, one other merchant ship and 3 fishing boats. Aircraft from these ships also sink a fishing boat. All 3 U-boats make torpedo attacks but the torpedos malfunctioned and no Soviet ships were damaged or sunk except one fishing boat by deck gun fire. Commanders enraged complain loudly when they get home. Admiral Raeder also "upset" fires people responsible. U-boats make more patrols in the Artic but have no luck do to malfunctioning torpedos for the rest of the year.
During the winter 5 Soviet merchant ships tried to run the blockade to Murmansk. Three make it. As for the other two, One coming from the US was caught by the Pocket BB Graf Spee do to a combination of good intelligence and radio intercepts. The other coming from Montevideo was sighted by a Polish tramp steamer and the Italians sent several cruisers after it and it was captured by the crusier Zara. All the captured Soviet merchant ships contained cargos of usefull materials ect that were a help for Axis war effort. One merchant ship captured in the Artic had some gold mined in Siberia on board. The Admiral and the Captains of the Pocket BBs all received the German Cross in Gold for this raid.
The Soviets worried about another raid kept most their submarines in the artic for the rest of the year. Late in the year they did send two submarines to patrol in the Southern North Sea. One made three attacks and only managed to hit and damage a American tanker in ballast. US enraged! The other after getting caught up in a Royal navy ASW training exercise also made three torpedo attacks one missed the great German liner Bremen, one ship unknown also missed and the third on a UJ also missed. This ship was joined by 2 other UJs and gave the submarine a heavy depth charging. The submarine escaped in a damaged condition and sailed home shortly afterwards. There it claimed to have sunk the Bremen and the Captain was made a hero of the Soviet Union. The Germans showed the world the Bremen was undamaged and were helped by a American couple who were on board and took color home movie film footage of the torpedos missing the ship and exploding at the end of their runs. Shortly after this the Germans laid up the Bremen and their other larger liners. They were used to house refugees.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by AnchorSteam » 01 Nov 2020 00:43

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Sep 2020 17:58
-
The purges of 1937 were largely confined to senior generals & Marshals. ---
Not exactly true.
People tend to forget that it was far more than just the military that was purged. The quotas were enormous, pregnant women were dragged off the streets and thrown into Rialroad cars to meet the quotas, and the Political leadership was slaughtered as well. The majority of Politburo members and senior political officers were being eliminated that year. Prominent engineers that had designed come of the most important weapons in the Red arsenal were also sent to Siberia, tortured and eliminated

but at least Cannibal Island was already in the past -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaOwcYLGTMo

So if the Poles and Finns had somehow managed to check the Red Army, could it have provoked a coupe at long last? Were there still any men left with that kind of nerve?

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Nov 2020 01:15

Yes it is correct;. As with the earlier purges of 1928-1932, & the still born purge that was starting in 1953, the initial targets were senior leaders. As those were neutralized the purge was initiated on the next layer of leadership, then on downward. The junior generals & field grade officers & their families were not much effected until 1938. As were the middle feels of party leadership.

A thing that confuses this issue is there was a simultaneouss purge based on competency or suitability for future service vs the political purge. As in the US Army of 1939-1942 there was a ongoing identification and removal of officers based on failing performance in their duties. These two removals of leaders are often conflated into a single 'purge'[.
So if the Poles and Finns had somehow managed to check the Red Army, could it have provoked a coupe at long last? Were there still any men left with that kind of nerve?
Not at the senior level, which in terms of organizing a coup was the greatest danger. A colonels coup was in theory possible, but in practical terms not, given the deep surveillance of the internal security organization/s.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by James A Pratt III » 02 Nov 2020 23:45

naval war Pacific:
The Italian Light Crusier Raimondo Montecoccoli was off china when the war broke out between Italy and the USSR. With the help of a German tanker, a paint job and makeover to look like the IJN cruiser Kako and some intel provided by the Japanese the ship went after USSR shipping going to and from Kolyma. It captured 4 Soviet merchant ships of the Dastroi 'Far North Construction Trust' fleet. Two going one with supplies and one with supplies and Gulag inmates and two returning one with a cargo of timber coal and gold and one with a cargo of timber coal gold and inmates. The ship had to break off operations because of a shortage of fuel and because one of the ships managed to get off a SOS. When Stalin found out what happened he was enraged. He had the Pacific fleet commander fired and jailed as for the officers of the merchant ships and the NKVD guard units on the ships he had their families arrested and sent to the Gulag. From now on merchant ships were to be escorted. After refueling and some R&R the Raimondo made another raid after Soviet shipping this time the ship ran into a Soviet convoy that had as part of its escort two submarines after sighting them the ship fled at full speed. After refueling the ship went after and captured a Soviet merchant ship making a solo run to Petropavlosk with supplies via the Tsushima straits and mid-Pacific.
After this with winter coming on the ship retired to a remote Island off Okinawa. The 5 captured ships were sent back to Italy where their cargos were welcome especially the gold. The 4 Dastroi ships crews and NKVD guards were dropped off in Ethiopia and spent the rest of the war road building. The liberated Gulag inmates were a PR disaster for the Soviets they had some real horror stories to tell about the Gulag camps. Some were non-Soviet citizens including 3 Americans. Others included Poles and Rumanians political prisoners and some were non-Russian Soviet citizens including a number of purge victims.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by James A Pratt III » 04 Nov 2020 22:15

The Captain of the Raimondo is later awarded the Gold Medal for valor.

Naval war the Baltic Soviet submarines carried out a number of patrols and made a number of torpedo attacks but only sank one Latvian merchant ship and damaged one German merchant ship. They did lay some mines and a German merchant ship was sunk and a German minesweeper damaged by mines but in the ship it may have been a German mine. In return the Soviets lost:
one submarine torpedoed and sunk by a Polish submarine
one submarine sunk by a German U-boat
one submarine MIA possibly mined
one submarine was spotted by a German aircraft while trying to attack a 4 merchant ship convoy it was attacked by 2 of the 3 UJs of the escort they were later joined by 2 minesweepers and a torpedo boat the boat was badly damaged but managed to get away. With the gyro compass knocked out while trying to get home the boat ran aground on a Island off the Estonian coast. The Soviets sent 2 tugs escorted by 3 destroyers to pull the submarine off which they did after awhile. While all this was going on a German U-boat managed to torpedo and sink on e of the Soviet destroyers. When the submarine arrived back in Leningrad it was judged damaged beyond repair and used as a battery charger. This incident was very heavily filmed and photod ect. Stalin was sort of "upset" over this incident. He had to send a letter thanking the people of Estonia for their "help". The commander of the submarine was decorated and sent off to a desk job.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by ljadw » 05 Nov 2020 10:03

AnchorSteam wrote:
01 Nov 2020 00:43
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Sep 2020 17:58
-
The purges of 1937 were largely confined to senior generals & Marshals. ---
Not exactly true.
People tend to forget that it was far more than just the military that was purged. The quotas were enormous, pregnant women were dragged off the streets and thrown into Rialroad cars to meet the quotas, and the Political leadership was slaughtered as well. The majority of Politburo members and senior political officers were being eliminated that year. Prominent engineers that had designed come of the most important weapons in the Red arsenal were also sent to Siberia, tortured and eliminated

but at least Cannibal Island was already in the past -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaOwcYLGTMo

So if the Poles and Finns had somehow managed to check the Red Army, could it have provoked a coupe at long last? Were there still any men left with that kind of nerve?
The great majority of the population was not hurt by the purge.
And,about the military : a big part came back ( see :Konjev ),besides :most of the purged military were not shot .
In 1920,during the civil war, Poland invaded what would become the USSR,the result was that the Soviets advanced to the suburbs of Warsaw .
In 1941, the WM, strongest army on earth,invaded the USSR,the result ,after 2 months, was a big failure .
Why should it have been different in 1937 ?

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 12:18

Invaded?
It was the Red Army that executed the Soviet westward offensive of 1918–19 - against Poland and the Baltic States.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by ljadw » 05 Nov 2020 12:59

The Polish army was in Kiev in May 1920,far more to the east than the Curzon line .
The Soviets advanced to Warsaw AFTER they reoccupied Kiev ,
And, what about the Baltics : these were not a part of Poland,thus this was no justification to go to Kiev .

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 13:43

Yes, the Baltics were a good justification, the attack on them proved the Bolsheviks were an aggressive, imperial entity - a threat to Eastern Europe and in fact to the entire world.

The Curzon Line was a fake border that wasn't even known at that time.

The legitimate Polish borders extended as far as Kiev, and in fact, Kiev was a Polish city - till the Russians and the others invaded and partitioned Poland among themselves.
The borders were still legitimate when Poland regained independence and conveniently the Bolsheviks repudiated the partition treaties.

The Poles didn't go to Kiev just for the sake of it, they wanted to defeat the invading Red Army and force a proper peace treaty on the Bolsheviks.
The Poles didn't even intend to keep Kiev. Kiev was going to be used as a bargaining chip.

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by ljadw » 05 Nov 2020 17:16

There is no such thing as legitimate borders : that,before the partition of Poland, the Polish border extended as far as Kiev,does not mean that Poland has the right /should try to reoccupy Kiev .Kiev was an Ukrainian city, not a Polish city .A border de jure is a border de facto and the opposite .
Till the 17th century, the Alsace was a part of the ''German Empire ",that did not give Germany the right to occupy the Alsace in 1870 and 1940 .
What is now Belgium was till the French Revolution a part of Austria, Hungary was also a part of Austria . Belgium was occupied and incorporated by /to France .Etc, etc,..
That did /does not give Austria, France the right to reoccupy Belgium. That does not give Austria the right to annex Hungary .
The big fault of the Polish leadership after WWI was that they lived in the past and that they wanted to resurrect the past .
Polonia restituta could not be the Poland of the past . Poland was better off without the non Poles : Ukrainians, etc ..as The OUN was a constant source of problems for the Polish state who had to use the army .Czechoslovakia was better off without the Sudeten Germans and Russia without the Ukrainians and Ukraine without Russians .
There was after WWI no longer any future for a multicultural society,state in Europe .

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Re: Speculative What-if fight: Poland v. Soviet Union 1937

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 19:46

If there is no such thing as legitimate borders then " has the right" is meaningless too. Borders and rights come together.

That Ukrainians lived in Kiev didn't make Kiev a Ukrainian city. Similarly, the fact that Arabs are in majority in Nazareth doesn't make it an Arab city. It's an Israeli city.

Anyway, Ukraine (or rather the Ukrainian People's Republic) was a Polish ally against the Bolshevik invaders and Poland officially ceded the territories (including Kiev - if they could keep it) to the Ukrainians.
Territories comprising the first (Russian) partition of Poland were going to be handed over to the Ukrainians.
Last edited by wm on 06 Nov 2020 02:20, edited 3 times in total.

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