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Old 07-04-2011, 02:21 AM
 
Location: New York City
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I'm going to quote directly from Col. David Glantz, the foremost western expert on the Soviet-German war:

Quote:
Guderian’s Southward Turn (Kiev)
In September 1941, after Red Army resistance stiffened east of Smolensk, Hitler temporarily abandoned his direct thrust on Moscow by turning one half of Army Group Center’s panzer forces (Guderian’s Second Panzer Group) to the south to envelop and destroy the Soviet Southwestern Front, which was defending Kiev. By virtue of Guderian’s southward turn, the Wehrmacht destroyed the entire Southwestern Front eastof Kiev during September, inflicting 600,000 losses on the Red Army, while Soviet forceswest of Moscow conducted a futile and costly offensive against German forces around Smolensk. After this Kiev diversion, Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in October,only to see his offensive falter at the gates of Moscow in early December. Some claimthat had Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in September rather than October, the Wehrmacht would have avoided the terrible weather conditions and reached and captured Moscow before the onset of winter.

This argument too does not hold up to close scrutiny. Had Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in September, Army Group Center would have had to penetrate deep Soviet defenses manned by a force that had not squandered its strength in fruitless offensives against German positions east of Smolensk. Furthermore, Army Group Center would have launched its offensive with a force of more than 600,000 men threatening its ever-extending right flank and, in the best reckoning, would have reached the gates of Moscow after mid-October just as the fall rainy season was beginning.

Finally, the Stavka saved Moscow by raising and fielding 10 reserve armies that took part in the final defense of the city, the December 1941 counterstrokes, and the January 1942 counteroffensive. These armies would have gone into action regardless of when Hitler launched Operation Typhoon. While they effectively halted and drove back the German offensive short of Moscow as the operation actually developed, they would also have been available to do so had the Germans attacked Moscow a month earlier. Furthermore, if the latter were the case, they would have been able to operate in conjunction with the 600,000 plus force of Army Group Center’s overextended right
flank.
The paper is titled "The Soviet-German War 1941-1945: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay"
You can find it online.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:06 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,306 posts, read 1,590,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmilingWolf
The rendering below of events as they took place on the ground and of the assessment and analysis of the fluid and dynamic strategic disposition of the opposing forces in this historic and massive struggle is probably the best and most revealing analysis I've ever come across. I tip my hat to you Tony T.
Thank you for both your compliment and comments regarding my post. They are very much appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure
Not sure why are you conveniently skipping the fact that the Soviets began to realize that they were under the treat of German invasion after the failed discussions with the French and Britons, and particularly - after the Munich agreement in 1939.
I did not, as you put it “conveniently skip” anything. What I posted dealt with a specific time period that has been identified as the point in which the Soviets could no longer deny that a German invasion was inevitable and planning against it began in earnest. And that time period was between December 1940 and June 1941. The memoirs of both Marshal A. M. Vasilevskiy and Marshal Zhukov support this as does “The History of the Great Patriotic War”.

So while it may be true that the Soviets were unsettled by the turn of events at Munich in 1938, there is no evidence that they felt an imminent threat from Germany. And why should they have? Poland still existed, acting as a buffer between Russia and Germany, and the two nations did not share a common border. If anything, there was more tension between Russia and Poland in 1938 then Germany and Russia. But more importantly, the conclusion of the Soviet-German “Non-Aggression Pact” in August 1939 seems to have gone a long way in convincing the Soviets that, at least for the time being, relations between the two countries would remain relatively cordial but guarded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure
While taking in consideration that Soviet Union was nothing else but the successor of the Russian empire, can you point me at any other empire in history, that was "benign, peace loving nation just wishing to be left alone?" Was it the British Empire, was it the French, was it the American Empire? I think not, but interestingly enough, it's always the Russian empire whose actions ( quite natural for any empire) are regarded with indignation in the West, the United States in particular. One might ask-why is that?
My statement was little more than a sarcastic reference to the way the Soviet Union was portrayed in the West after the German invasion to justify giving assistance to a nation that arguably was no better than Nazi Germany. Most people understood this to be a lie, but then we are talking about propaganda here, not telling the unvarnished truth. The West was trying to rally its’ citizens to support a war, and characterizing it simply as a battle between “good” and “evil” worked better than saying “good/lesser evil” and “evil”.

Obviously, empires do not become empires by being “benign and peace loving”. No one with an ounce of common sense and the ability to employ basic reasoning would even try to maintain otherwise. But since the discussion everyone was having had nothing to do with empires or people’s historical perceptions of them, might I suggest you start a thread about that topic if it’s something you wish to explore further.
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Old 07-04-2011, 05:11 AM
 
Location: Carmel, CA USA
40 posts, read 26,711 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
Smiling Wolf, I looked at your long post (again) and without commenting on the whole thing, let me point you at couple of things, that show the flaw of your theories.



Quote:
See, Russian peasant lived in the country-side, in the countless villages, but the hysteria ( echoing to hysteria of Hitler's Germany) that you've seen in the footage or read about in books, took place in cities - big cities in particular like Moscow and St. Pet. So you can't really put "hysteria" and " Russian peasant" in one sentence. As German soldiers back then made an unpleasant discovery that it took forever to make it from one point to another during the fall-spring, when the roads would turn into mud and become impassable, so should you realize that it was not that easy to organize "hysteria" among the population that lived in poverty, had hard time to travel from one village to another and on top of that was deprived of their passports, so that they couldn't escape their yoke and move into cities. It was not all that easy for the Soviet propagandists to make it to all those countless villages to "reinforce" the message from the *dear leader.* With other words, don't think about "Stalin's hysteria" in Russia in terms of Hitler's hysteria in Germany - the country that was much better organized and modernized in technical terms.
That's number one, so let's move to number two
Well Erasure. "number one" makes sense regarding the hysteria being in the cities and not with the peasants in the countryside. You give an somewhat adequate description of the difficulty of communications, transport, etc., in the countryside of Russia. It would be difficult for "dear leader" to commuincate his psychopathic terror to ALL the masses in the countryside but it seems he didn't have that problem in the cities - right?

Yet, from the historical accounts I have studied, Stalin didn't just stop in the cities. He arranged to have many of the
kulaks, atype of peasant who was comparatively more well to do than the average peasant) executed and the number of executions was over 367,000 people and the number of kulaks were imprisoned totalled well over 600,000 people. And this took place in the countryside. This is documented FACT.

So, I'm just guessing but would that fact not lend authenticity to my original assertion of Stalin's terror/purges taking place over broad segments of Russian society?


All kinds of people from all classes were being imprisoned, tortured, and made to confess their fictitious crimes against Stalin and the state, some times tortured sadististically for months at a time, then shot after a show trial.

People from the all walks of life lived under this terror. The military, the scientific community, people in the arts and culture -writers, poets, theatre directors, etc...people in the professional classes, political leaders at all levels, all kinds of peasants in the various ethnic communities, the kulaks, and the list goes on and on and on.

So, was I really that far off the mark?

You do admit that "dear leader", as you put it, had countless people tortured, beaten, jailed, shot, sent to the gulag system.. .right? And, there was naturally some degree of actual terror and hysteria in the population overall in the cities, especially during the waves of purges in the 1930's...right?


Quote:
That's true, but you apparently have no idea why it was/is the case, what's the root of it, otherwise you wouldn't have ascribed such importance to possible defeat of Moscow.
I didn't ascribe such importance of this to "possible defeat of Moscow".
You misunderstand my post. The Germans faced massive obstacles in their attempt at defeating the Soviet Union. It wasn't a cake walk as we say in the West.

"That's true, but you apparently have no idea why it was/is the case.."

So, you are actually agreeing with my point (!). However, you seem to be making a real effort at trying to find a reason to somehow disagree with my point! You are funny.


My impression of the Russian mindset in the beginning of the conflict with Germany was their inordinate dependence on a higher authority on a more step by step basis as oposed to the German soldier who was given the ability to act independently and exercise more dynamic freedom of movement witin his sphere of duties, to take independent action on the ground and take action quickly without having to ask permission or worry about being shot if they screwed up.

Maybe you don't realize this but many Russians were literally shot on the spot for screwing up in their fight against the Germans.

It is also a given fact that the German mindset was absolutely based on a respect for authority. However, they were also given this freedom to act dynamically to situations on the ground in a more dynamic way and this was one of the key advantages and strengths of the German combat soldier.



Quote:
The reason why Russia "deeply" depends on despotic tyrants to rule over it, is not because Russians lack the ability to think differently - the reason is quite the opposite. It's because Russia includes such multitude of different people and different ideas, that following those ideas would have teared the country apart long time ago, since Russians have the ability to enforce and follow those ideas with passion. If there is a disagreement between two or three leading forces in the country and the power keeps on switching hands, thus constantly changing or even abolishing the law all together, at this point the Russian peasant is already happy to have ANY leader who has enough of power to establish ANY law to keep things under control, and he will put up with it for a while, until the rulership becomes unbearable again. Because as far as Russian peasant can see, ANY law and any leadership is better than none, in order to survive as a nation.
So keeping this in mind, let's proceed to the next statement of yours;
These are very good points you are making here and I will give it deeper consideration. Underlying the Russians need for a strong authority figure over them to maintain some kind of law is not an exclusive behavior to just the Russian people. This is a natural collective reaction of the masses of any people when they are living in a state of lawlessness.

I get it. And I got it before you were so kind as to remind me.

You are not the first person to deliver this news as to the actual motivations I get the feeling you know Russian life both past and present first hand, so I do respect your experience.

However, you are also prone to errors and "flaws" on this historical subject and you have been promptly corrected by myself and by others who are far more prominent and knowledgeable on this subject than I am. So nobody is perfect I suppose.


Quote:
You've got that one right - Russians ( as far as the national character goes) share the most with Germans out of all European nations, as controversial as it sounds. Historically it has been a long love-hate relationship, where German influence created a lot of positive and negative developments for Russians. Germans are probably the only other people who's national soul is as polarized as the Russian one; deep intellectualism and love for arts combined with famous German sentimentalism on one hand, and the ability to fall into the pit of the most inhumane creation of it all - the concentration camps of the WWII. In many ways same can be said about the Russians - the undeniable input into the cultural treasury of Europe on one hand and the "leaden atrocities of Russian life" (as one writer referred to it,) on another.



Interesting, description above of the Russian character.

Please don't get the misguided impression. I deeply resppect the Russian people. The Russians are a truly amazing, dynamic, intelligent and intellectually gifted people and you could not encounter a greater admirer than myself. They are truly a fascinating and enigmatic people.






Quote:
If everything you write about the "traditional Russian mindset" were true, there wouldn't have been guerrilla war in Russia, and before you'll say that it was "GPU/ NKVD/whatever that organized it, minding you it was the same guerrilla war during Napoleon's invasion, that made the lives of the French soldiers miserable, with no GPU in sight.
So again, you've got it all wrong - while the "psychological make-up" of the Russian propagandist could be rested "on rule from above," the "psychological make-up" of a Russian peasant would go only so far, before he'd have decided what makes more sense in any given situation.
"The harshness of Russia's laws is offset by not having to actually abide by them"
"In taiga the bear is the boss," and the famous Russian "авось" ( blind trust in sheer luck) would describe Russian mindset much better. What you ascribed to Russians, actually reflects more of a German character - they are highly organized people whose mindset was more likely "to rest on the rule from above," particularly under the circumstances. (By the way "things Russian" ( as in "highly disorganized") often added to the suffering of the German POWs while in captivity. If I have time I'll translate the material that includes the witnessing of the survivors.)
Oh well, I don't blame you - it's impossible to know all these things about Russians while just reading books or watching movies.



I actually have friends who are Russians so my overall impressions didn't come solely from books or movies. You make very cogent points here and I thank you for deepening my understanding of the Russian conditon.
Whatever information you mentioned that you could throw our way on this forum would be deeply appreciated.

I believe my underlying motivation for this suject is in part based on the question as to what were the exact reasons for the performance of the Russian army during the first months of Operation Barbarossa.

Why did they have to wait in many cases before picking up a weapon and firing at approaching German units as they first came over the border? Do you know exactly why? Much of the history tells the West that they had to call this into headquarters and ask what to do. Why do you think that was the case?

If you were standing there and spotted units of the German Wehrmacht approaching you on your soil, in your country, would you not be inclined to pick up a weapon and fire it in their general direction?

I can tell you, my internet acquaintenance, that, speaking as an American, if any nation decided to invade my country, they would be in for a very rude reception from their first second of entry.

So, I sit here puzzled over the motivations, as just one of many, many examples.... of so many Russian soldiers who were captured in their barracks without firing a single shot during the first hours of the invasion. Do you know why? And, if it puzzled you like it did me would it lead you to possibly draw the conclusion that these men were waiting to be told what to do? There were actual documented accounts that this was the case. Or, is that basis/conclusion unreasonable? And, if so ...why?

You have actually agreed with my overall assertion that the Russian soldier had a mindset that was dependent on top down authority and that this was a prime character trait of the Russian people. You even explained why this was so.

Perhaps so much "wrongness" is merely a tempest in a teapot.



Quote:
So since your perception of Russians is wrong to begin with, this assumption is wrong too.
The surrender of Moscow ( as administrative center) wouldn't have accomplished the major goal for Germans, even for the fact that Moscow has been surrendered already before, yet it didn't bring victory to Napoleon after all. Purely psychological factor, you know.
If you disagree with my percepton of Russians that is fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion at least in democratic nations. For my part, I have given your feedback due consideration and with respect. Perhaps my generalizations regarding the tendency for Russians to rely on a higher authority is over stressed and too much a blanket judgement of Russians overall and I will admit to such.

But, my description was narrowly focused on trying to understand the motivations and reasons for the Russians failure to respond effectively to the German onslaught in the first months of the invasion. Is that something you can understand?

Perhaps, you can refrain from making blanket statements yourself since you were so "gracious" as to actually agree with me on one or two points I made. Perhaps I was not completely WRONG.

You might want to consider brushing up on your command of the English language because it comes across at times like a buzzsaw. You don't need to use a buzzsaw to make your points.

You just need a keyboard and an ingrained desire to show respect for the other fellow.

Last edited by SmilingWolf; 07-04-2011 at 06:35 AM..
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:57 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,306 posts, read 1,590,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMarbles
I'm going to quote directly from Col. David Glantz, the foremost western expert on the Soviet-German war:

Quote:
Guderian’s Southward Turn (Kiev)
In September 1941, after Red Army resistance stiffened east of Smolensk, Hitler temporarily abandoned his direct thrust on Moscow by turning one half of Army Group Center’s panzer forces (Guderian’s Second Panzer Group) to the south to envelop and destroy the Soviet Southwestern Front, which was defending Kiev. By virtue of Guderian’s southward turn, the Wehrmacht destroyed the entire Southwestern Front eastof Kiev during September, inflicting 600,000 losses on the Red Army, while Soviet forceswest of Moscow conducted a futile and costly offensive against German forces around Smolensk. After this Kiev diversion, Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in October,only to see his offensive falter at the gates of Moscow in early December. Some claimthat had Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in September rather than October, the Wehrmacht would have avoided the terrible weather conditions and reached and captured Moscow before the onset of winter.

This argument too does not hold up to close scrutiny. Had Hitler launched Operation Typhoon in September, Army Group Center would have had to penetrate deep Soviet defenses manned by a force that had not squandered its strength in fruitless offensives against German positions east of Smolensk. Furthermore, Army Group Center would have launched its offensive with a force of more than 600,000 men threatening its ever-extending right flank and, in the best reckoning, would have reached the gates of Moscow after mid-October just as the fall rainy season was beginning.

Finally, the Stavka saved Moscow by raising and fielding 10 reserve armies that took part in the final defense of the city, the December 1941 counterstrokes, and the January 1942 counteroffensive. These armies would have gone into action regardless of when Hitler launched Operation Typhoon. While they effectively halted and drove back the German offensive short of Moscow as the operation actually developed, they would also have been available to do so had the Germans attacked Moscow a month earlier. Furthermore, if the latter were the case, they would have been able to operate in conjunction with the 600,000 plus force of Army Group Center’s overextended right flank.
With all due respect to Colonel Glantz, with regard to this specific quotation, the timeline simply does not track with events as they actually unfolded between July 19th and October 2nd, the day Operation Typhoon was launched.

When Hitler issued Directives 33 and 34 in July, virtually all forward movement of Army Group Center was stopped. At this point the advances of both Army Group Center and South had succeeded in wrapping their lines halfway around the Soviet forces in Kiev itself and those located to the north and south of the city along the Dneiper River. The directives called for the transfer of armor from Army Group Center to both Army Group North and South and Field Marshal von Bock knew the loss of a significant portion of his armor would eliminate his ability to advance on Moscow. After these two orders were given, a debate began between Hitler, the OKH, and the commanders of Army Group Center over whether this was the correct course of action to take. These back and forth discussions lasted nearly a month, and during that time, all three army groups were essentially stationary. And other than agreeing to a slight weakening of the effort against Leningrad (which Hitler did on August 21st), Directives 33 and 34 stood, and the transfer of armor began.

On August 25th, General Guderian, commanding Second Army and Second Panzer Group, peeled off from the right flank of Army Group Center and began to drive southward. By September 10th, Guderian had closed the gap between his force and the forward advance of Army Group South to about 150 miles. That same day, General von Kleist led the First Panzer Group out of a bridgehead on the Dneiper at Kremenchug and struck north to link up with Guderian. On the 11th, the Soviet general in charge of the defense of Kiev asked permission to withdraw from the city but was refused. Finally, on September 16th, the Germans closed the gap completely, trapping the whole of the Soviet “Southwest Front” army between their two forces and wiping it out in about a week’s time.

Supremely confident of the future success of the operation, Hitler had issued “Directive 35”, later to become “Operation Typhoon”, on September 6th. Hitler decreed that the “schwerpunkt” would revert back to Army Group Center at the end of the month. All forces detached from Army Group Center for the efforts in the north and south would be returned. In addition, armor would be shifted from Army Groups North, South, and OKH reserves to Center as reinforcement. As September drew to a close, Army Group North had cut the last land link between Leningrad and the Russian interior. Army Group South was approaching Kharkov, and Army Group Center was still in the same basic spot east of Smolensk it had been occupying since July 30th. When “Operation Typhoon” began on October 2nd, it marked the first time in two months that Army Group Center actually moved forward. Where then was this stiffened resistance in September 1941 which Colonel Glantz states took place and caused Hitler to abandon his direct drive toward Moscow in favor of moving south to eliminate Soviet forces around Kiev? Perhaps the Colonel is privy to information that dozens of authors and historians are unable to access, but as best as I can tell, the event of which he speaks never happened. Army Group Center stopped for no other reason than Hitler ordering it to do so.

The description he gives of the situation before Moscow is also only accurate with respect to December 1, 1941. The first troops brought in from the Far East did not arrive on the front in large numbers until the first weeks of November. By December 1st, Stavka had transferred 72 divisions from the Soviet Far East and another 27 divisions from both Central Asia and the Transcaucasas. In all, these units accounted for 30% of the total strategic reserves the Soviets committed to the defense of Moscow and the counteroffensive they launched on December 6th. Again, when you look at the timeline, it simply is not accurate for Colonel Glantz to state “These armies would have gone into action regardless of when Hitler launched Operation Typhoon. While they effectively halted and drove back the German offensive short of Moscow as the operation actually developed, they would also have been available to do so had the Germans attacked Moscow a month earlier”, which I take to mean the month of September.

But more to the point, the situation that Colonel Glantz describes is completely irrelevant to the tactical situation faced by Army Group Center when its’ forward progress was brought to a standstill by Directives 33 and 34 at the end of July. Though there were Soviet armies standing between Army Group Center and Moscow, none were strong enough to have stopped it if the Germans had driven toward Moscow in early to mid August as Field Marshal von Bock had wanted. The defensive situation around Moscow itself was nowhere near as developed and organized as it was by December 1st either. And this is why I believe the case can clearly be made that the shifting of activity away from the center to the north and south in August 1941 was a huge mistake which killed any chance the Germans had to take Moscow and end the Russian campaign successfully.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmilingWolf View Post
If you disagree with my percepton of Russians that is fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion at least in democratic nations. For my part, I have given your feedback due consideration and with respect. Perhaps my generalizations regarding the tendency for Russians to rely on a higher authority is over stressed and too much a blanket judgement of Russians overall and I will admit to such.

But, my description was narrowly focused on trying to understand the motivations and reasons for the Russians failure to respond effectively to the German onslaught in the first months of the invasion. Is that something you can understand?

Perhaps, you can refrain from making blanket statements yourself since you were so "gracious" as to actually agree with me on one or two points I made. Perhaps I was not completely WRONG.

You might want to consider brushing up on your command of the English language because it comes across at times like a buzzsaw. You don't need to use a buzzsaw to make your points.

You just need a keyboard and an ingrained desire to show respect for the other fellow.
Sorry, gone to work on my English.
By the time it will sound like T-34 instead of a buzzsaw, I'll be back)))))

PS.(Working on translation, it'll take a while.)
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Carmel, CA USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
Sorry, gone to work on my English.
By the time it will sound like T-34 instead of a buzzsaw, I'll be back)))))

PS.(Working on translation, it'll take a while.)
You got this wolf laughing over here. Okay, pal...I'll be waiting for that legendary T-34.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:18 PM
 
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TonyT, nice to see you join in. This seems to be a great discussion overall. If I could recap it seems we have come to the conclusion that the decision to launch Barbarossa when and in the manner it was launched was decided upon as being the best chance for a German victory. Any delays would have resulted in the Russians growing stronger and the Germans were essentially at the peak of their power. It was a now or never proposition predicated on the fact that Russia represented the last real threat to Germany.

So, from that we are on to the actual operation which seems to be primarily hinging on the events around Smolensk and the delay of the drive on Moscow. It seems both TonyT and SmilingWolf are of the opinion that the failure was in not launching Typhoon sooner (August) and that the reallocation of Hoth and Guderians Panzergruppen to AG North and South to assist in their objectives depleted the operational punch of AG Center.

I think that about sums it up. However, I don't necessarily share the opinion that the decisions made around Smolensk were necessarily incorrect.

What was Barbarossa?

The intent of Barbarossa as planned was to destroy the Russian Armies in the field. The plan as indicated by TonyT was setup as a classic maneuver battle. The objectives were vague geographic areas and while this on the surface appears to be a lack of planning clear objectives, it means that the objective simply was the destruction of the Soviet Armies along each AG's route of advance. I only state this as there never was an objective to take Moscow, simply eliminate Soviet resistance.

What happened at Smolensk?

I think we need to review the timeline of the battle in order to fully understand the amount of time the battle took.

July 6th - Operation begins.
July 18th - German panzers close to within 10 miles of each other.
July 26th - The Germans finally complete the pincer and encircle the Russian forces at Smolensk.
August 4th - The Germans finally liquidate the pocket at Smolensk.

No operation to take Moscow could have begun before August 4th. I don't think there can be much debate on that. The supporting infantry divisions would not be available before that time. This also does not take into account the supply situation of the German Army following the battle at Smolensk.

Smolensk represented the extant capability of the German supply and logistics network. They simply had to stop in order to resupply their armies and replace their losses in both men and material, tanks at this point were in particular in poor shape with some units reduced to ~60% operational strength. Further, they needed to stockpile supplies for the next stage of the advance on Moscow. Their closest supply bases at that point were in Minsk and much work was needed to be done to be able to extend the supply routes to funnel through Smolensk to support an assault on Moscow.

So, the German Army after Smolensk was weakened and in a poor state of supply. They simply did not have the logistical ability to continue a major offensive against Moscow until these supply issues were rectified. Some would counter with the fact that AG Center supplied Hoth and Guderians forces that were sent to assist AG North and South. While this is true, there is a major difference in supplying a couple Panzergruppen that are running parallel to the Soviet lines and supplying an entire army along an advancing broad front. The supply situation at Smolensk was not stabilized and able to support major operations until mid-late September. The supply issue during Typhoon was one of moving supplies over the poor roads, not one of a lack of supplies. An earlier assault would have faired better in terms of moving supplies forward, but there would have been a critical lack of supplies to move.

What were the Russians doing?

The forces facing the resupplying and resting Germans near Smolensk were not idle during this time. In the final moments of the closing of the Smolensk pocket the Russians engaged in a series of offensive strikes against AG Center. These assaults lasted clear until September 12th. While they did not make major gains, they did inflict further losses on AG Center, require the use of even more reserve units to counter and some of the counter-offensives such as Yelnia even managed to drive the Germans back for a time period.

These are the same forces that would have opposed an earlier Typhoon and they would not have been fighting in a reduced capacity as they were after their offensive operations. These attacks prevented the Germans from easily regrouping and supplying for an immediate offensive against Moscow.

Why divert the forces to attack the pocket at Kiev?

I would counter with the question as to why no one criticizes Manstein and Guderian for splitting the Anglo-French Army in two after Sedan and driving for the Channel when all they had to do was drive to Paris and the war would have been won? A bit tongue in cheek, but the macro point stands, the goal is to eliminate the enemy forces.

Leaving Kiev intact would have meant accepting a hanging flank along AG Center's route of advance. The Soviets had already positioned around 250k troops to threaten that flank and I think it is foolish to assume that these forces would have done nothing in the event AG Center simply continued its assault straight to Moscow.

As it was the encirclement of Kiev is the paradigm of maneuver battle, what the Germans specialized in. They eliminated over 650k Soviet troops and collapsed the entire SW Front. I think any month the Germans failed to eliminate a substantial number of Soviet troops marked the turning of the battle. It was simply not possible to make the kind of encirclement attacks agains the positions on the road to Moscow that the Germans has used to such great effect to that point. The battle would have been a much grittier slogging affair, especially if the Soviets had not spent their forces in counter-attacks at Smolensk and the Germans left their right flank open.

Conclusion...

Attacking in August and even September was simply not possible do to the general supply situation on the ground and the logistical capabilities of the German Army. The two month pause gave them time to resupply, re-equip and establish supply bases for the drive on Moscow. The "diversion" of sending the Panzergruppen to assist AG North and South was strategically the best choice they could have made, particularly in regards to the defenses around Kiev. At the earliest the Germans could have begun an assault on Moscow in September, but they would have faced the same resistance they did in the actual operation and would be doing so with an exposed flank and a worse supply situation.

It still opens up the question though, could they have actually taken Moscow if they had launched the assault earlier? If so, what effect would that have had? Personally I think they still wouldn't have been able to take Moscow and even if they did, I don't think they are overall in a better position because of it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Boston
47 posts, read 41,952 times
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I have come to the conclusion that I can't keep up with you guys. I thought I knew everything about the Eastern Front until I joined this forum. I don't have a college degree and I'm just a history buff. You guys blow my knowledge out of the water so I will just read your posts and learn lol. NGoat, Smilingwolf, Mr Marbles, erasure. Very impressed!
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Carmel, CA USA
40 posts, read 26,711 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
TonyT, nice to see you join in. This seems to be a great discussion overall. If I could recap it seems we have come to the conclusion that the decision to launch Barbarossa when and in the manner it was launched was decided upon as being the best chance for a German victory. Any delays would have resulted in the Russians growing stronger and the Germans were essentially at the peak of their power. It was a now or never proposition predicated on the fact that Russia represented the last real threat to Germany.

So, from that we are on to the actual operation which seems to be primarily hinging on the events around Smolensk and the delay of the drive on Moscow. It seems both TonyT and SmilingWolf are of the opinion that the failure was in not launching Typhoon sooner (August) and that the reallocation of Hoth and Guderians Panzergruppen to AG North and South to assist in their objectives depleted the operational punch of AG Center.

I think that about sums it up. However, I don't necessarily share the opinion that the decisions made around Smolensk were necessarily incorrect.

What was Barbarossa?

The intent of Barbarossa as planned was to destroy the Russian Armies in the field. The plan as indicated by TonyT was setup as a classic maneuver battle. The objectives were vague geographic areas and while this on the surface appears to be a lack of planning clear objectives, it means that the objective simply was the destruction of the Soviet Armies along each AG's route of advance. I only state this as there never was an objective to take Moscow, simply eliminate Soviet resistance.

What happened at Smolensk?

I think we need to review the timeline of the battle in order to fully understand the amount of time the battle took.

July 6th - Operation begins.
July 18th - German panzers close to within 10 miles of each other.
July 26th - The Germans finally complete the pincer and encircle the Russian forces at Smolensk.
August 4th - The Germans finally liquidate the pocket at Smolensk.

No operation to take Moscow could have begun before August 4th. I don't think there can be much debate on that. The supporting infantry divisions would not be available before that time. This also does not take into account the supply situation of the German Army following the battle at Smolensk.

Smolensk represented the extant capability of the German supply and logistics network. They simply had to stop in order to resupply their armies and replace their losses in both men and material, tanks at this point were in particular in poor shape with some units reduced to ~60% operational strength. Further, they needed to stockpile supplies for the next stage of the advance on Moscow. Their closest supply bases at that point were in Minsk and much work was needed to be done to be able to extend the supply routes to funnel through Smolensk to support an assault on Moscow.

So, the German Army after Smolensk was weakened and in a poor state of supply. They simply did not have the logistical ability to continue a major offensive against Moscow until these supply issues were rectified. Some would counter with the fact that AG Center supplied Hoth and Guderians forces that were sent to assist AG North and South. While this is true, there is a major difference in supplying a couple Panzergruppen that are running parallel to the Soviet lines and supplying an entire army along an advancing broad front. The supply situation at Smolensk was not stabilized and able to support major operations until mid-late September. The supply issue during Typhoon was one of moving supplies over the poor roads, not one of a lack of supplies. An earlier assault would have faired better in terms of moving supplies forward, but there would have been a critical lack of supplies to move.

What were the Russians doing?

The forces facing the resupplying and resting Germans near Smolensk were not idle during this time. In the final moments of the closing of the Smolensk pocket the Russians engaged in a series of offensive strikes against AG Center. These assaults lasted clear until September 12th. While they did not make major gains, they did inflict further losses on AG Center, require the use of even more reserve units to counter and some of the counter-offensives such as Yelnia even managed to drive the Germans back for a time period.

These are the same forces that would have opposed an earlier Typhoon and they would not have been fighting in a reduced capacity as they were after their offensive operations. These attacks prevented the Germans from easily regrouping and supplying for an immediate offensive against Moscow.

Why divert the forces to attack the pocket at Kiev?

I would counter with the question as to why no one criticizes Manstein and Guderian for splitting the Anglo-French Army in two after Sedan and driving for the Channel when all they had to do was drive to Paris and the war would have been won? A bit tongue in cheek, but the macro point stands, the goal is to eliminate the enemy forces.

Leaving Kiev intact would have meant accepting a hanging flank along AG Center's route of advance. The Soviets had already positioned around 250k troops to threaten that flank and I think it is foolish to assume that these forces would have done nothing in the event AG Center simply continued its assault straight to Moscow.

As it was the encirclement of Kiev is the paradigm of maneuver battle, what the Germans specialized in. They eliminated over 650k Soviet troops and collapsed the entire SW Front. I think any month the Germans failed to eliminate a substantial number of Soviet troops marked the turning of the battle. It was simply not possible to make the kind of encirclement attacks agains the positions on the road to Moscow that the Germans has used to such great effect to that point. The battle would have been a much grittier slogging affair, especially if the Soviets had not spent their forces in counter-attacks at Smolensk and the Germans left their right flank open.

Conclusion...

Attacking in August and even September was simply not possible do to the general supply situation on the ground and the logistical capabilities of the German Army. The two month pause gave them time to resupply, re-equip and establish supply bases for the drive on Moscow. The "diversion" of sending the Panzergruppen to assist AG North and South was strategically the best choice they could have made, particularly in regards to the defenses around Kiev. At the earliest the Germans could have begun an assault on Moscow in September, but they would have faced the same resistance they did in the actual operation and would be doing so with an exposed flank and a worse supply situation.

It still opens up the question though, could they have actually taken Moscow if they had launched the assault earlier? If so, what effect would that have had? Personally I think they still wouldn't have been able to take Moscow and even if they did, I don't think they are overall in a better position because of it.





One of the Greatest Blunders in the History of Warfare

Hitler's change of plan and direction for Operation Barbarossa destroyed the momentum and the strategic initiative and the timing for the whole invasion and altered the course of the war in effect, sealing Hiter's and Germany's fate.

Your points defending his decision, though common sensical and logical from a much smaller military perspective in terms of the larger strategic picture, only supports your argument from that smaller perspective and obscures the reality and consequences that Hitler's decision had for his men, as well as the Soviets, the Ukrainians, even the Brits and the Americans in the end.

It led to a whole series of gigantic catastrophes in the long run and set into motion the deaths of many more millions of people in the process.

The vast majority of war casualties both military, and, especially civilian were found within the borders of the Ukraine where Hitler subsequently directed the armies of AG South to now fully invade and plunder and in the process kill off tens of millions of innocent civilians as well as millions of troops on both sides through the effects of a barbarous, extended war.

This decision to change the strategic direction and place the priority on the invasion of the Ukraine, not only enraged the senior German commanders on the ground like Guiderian ,Hoth, down to divisional commanders, etc., but it confused these men as to what Hitler ultimately really truly wanted to do....

Because he kept changing the focus and the energy of the whole invasion.

He was not convinced Moscow was that important an ultimate objective. His senior generals felt the exact opposite - from General Halder on down to ground commanders. He kept everybody in the dark as to what he wanted them to focus on...So, this vacuum of unknowingness was filled by generals like Halder and Guiderian and Hoth who wanted the focus to be on the taking of Moscow.

This was one of Hitler's major methods of controlling those around him. He kept power outside of him dispersed and in the dark much of the time and kept people divided and at odds with one another vying for whatever power he might hand this person or that person. By keeping those around him in constant conflict with one another, keeping lines of authority and orgainzation confused and obscure, even duplicated, he remained in control as the ultimate and single authority. This approach worked alright surprisingly enough in a semi dysfunctional way during peace time Germany, but in war, it proved disastrous.


He let AG Center keep up its drive in the direction of Moscow. Then he suddenly stopped the whole operation dead in its tracks and declared...Leningrad and the Ukraine were more important and diverted AG Centers armor assets to these areas. AG Center was dead in the water- it's strategic momentum killed off. Energy stopped. Everything stopped.

Weeks later, after Kiev is finally taken, Hitler lets the armor formations go back to AG Center and finally...FINALLY! resume their thrust toward Moscow, all the while knowing the fall rains were due for this area and now time was quickly running out before the paralyzing mud was replaced by paralyzing cold.

And, by even having them resume their now late operation, Hitler further diluted the overall straegic focus of the invasion.

"Should I stay or should I go?...." "Should we invade Moscow or should we not"....? ? ? This mind killing vascillation of Hitler sabotaged the whole invasion and turned it into a gigantic Greek tragedy.

When he finally let everybody know what he actualy wanted the goal to be...he ended up destroying any chances of success against the Soviet Union.


And despite all of these obstacles thrown in front of AG Center by Hitler, by the Russian resistance, by the fall rains and mud, by the onslaught of the coldest winter in decades, they still....STILL! managed to fight their way to within sight of the Kremlin before ultimate exhaustion, supply exhaustion, the killing cold, and the newly reorganized Russian forces finally took their toll and drove these men back.

The initiative for the whole campaign needed to stay with the drive to Moscow and HItler's subsequent profound vascillation destroyed any chances of victory against the Soviets.

When he finally focused on the new change of direction : the Ukraine. NJGoat, do you want to start talking about true logistical supply nightmares? The ones in the South made the AG Center's challenges of supply look like a cake walk.

And this profund change of direction helped the Russians to no end. They changed their strategiy on just how to deal with the superior military abilities of the Germans as they invaded the Ukraine by not massing in front of them and allowing themselves to be encircled again...they simply pulled back into the infinite vastness of the steppe and allowed the Germans to keep advancing trading space for time as they strengthened their armies and creeated new ones.

Ultimately, this massive mistake led to Hitler's attempt at ordering the Sixth Army to take Stalingrad, a city thousands of miles from Germany and at the very, very end of an untenable supply line.Do you really want to get into true supply and logistical nightmares?

By Hitler making this all time historical blunder, he doomed millions to an early death.

Last edited by SmilingWolf; 07-05-2011 at 11:12 PM..
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Old 07-06-2011, 12:31 AM
 
Location: Carmel, CA USA
40 posts, read 26,711 times
Reputation: 19
Default One of the Greatest Blunders in the History of Warfare pt2

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
TonyT, nice to see you join in. This seems to be a great discussion overall. If I could recap it seems we have come to the conclusion that the decision to launch Barbarossa when and in the manner it was launched was decided upon as being the best chance for a German victory. Any delays would have resulted in the Russians growing stronger and the Germans were essentially at the peak of their power. It was a now or never proposition predicated on the fact that Russia represented the last real threat to Germany.

So, from that we are on to the actual operation which seems to be primarily hinging on the events around Smolensk and the delay of the drive on Moscow. It seems both TonyT and SmilingWolf are of the opinion that the failure was in not launching Typhoon sooner (August) and that the reallocation of Hoth and Guderians Panzergruppen to AG North and South to assist in their objectives depleted the operational punch of AG Center.

I think that about sums it up. However, I don't necessarily share the opinion that the decisions made around Smolensk were necessarily incorrect.

What was Barbarossa?

The intent of Barbarossa as planned was to destroy the Russian Armies in the field. The plan as indicated by TonyT was setup as a classic maneuver battle. The objectives were vague geographic areas and while this on the surface appears to be a lack of planning clear objectives, it means that the objective simply was the destruction of the Soviet Armies along each AG's route of advance. I only state this as there never was an objective to take Moscow, simply eliminate Soviet resistance.

What happened at Smolensk?

I think we need to review the timeline of the battle in order to fully understand the amount of time the battle took.

July 6th - Operation begins.
July 18th - German panzers close to within 10 miles of each other.
July 26th - The Germans finally complete the pincer and encircle the Russian forces at Smolensk.
August 4th - The Germans finally liquidate the pocket at Smolensk.

No operation to take Moscow could have begun before August 4th. I don't think there can be much debate on that. The supporting infantry divisions would not be available before that time. This also does not take into account the supply situation of the German Army following the battle at Smolensk.

Smolensk represented the extant capability of the German supply and logistics network. They simply had to stop in order to resupply their armies and replace their losses in both men and material, tanks at this point were in particular in poor shape with some units reduced to ~60% operational strength. Further, they needed to stockpile supplies for the next stage of the advance on Moscow. Their closest supply bases at that point were in Minsk and much work was needed to be done to be able to extend the supply routes to funnel through Smolensk to support an assault on Moscow.

So, the German Army after Smolensk was weakened and in a poor state of supply. They simply did not have the logistical ability to continue a major offensive against Moscow until these supply issues were rectified. Some would counter with the fact that AG Center supplied Hoth and Guderians forces that were sent to assist AG North and South. While this is true, there is a major difference in supplying a couple Panzergruppen that are running parallel to the Soviet lines and supplying an entire army along an advancing broad front. The supply situation at Smolensk was not stabilized and able to support major operations until mid-late September. The supply issue during Typhoon was one of moving supplies over the poor roads, not one of a lack of supplies. An earlier assault would have faired better in terms of moving supplies forward, but there would have been a critical lack of supplies to move.

What were the Russians doing?

The forces facing the resupplying and resting Germans near Smolensk were not idle during this time. In the final moments of the closing of the Smolensk pocket the Russians engaged in a series of offensive strikes against AG Center. These assaults lasted clear until September 12th. While they did not make major gains, they did inflict further losses on AG Center, require the use of even more reserve units to counter and some of the counter-offensives such as Yelnia even managed to drive the Germans back for a time period.

These are the same forces that would have opposed an earlier Typhoon and they would not have been fighting in a reduced capacity as they were after their offensive operations. These attacks prevented the Germans from easily regrouping and supplying for an immediate offensive against Moscow.

Why divert the forces to attack the pocket at Kiev?

I would counter with the question as to why no one criticizes Manstein and Guderian for splitting the Anglo-French Army in two after Sedan and driving for the Channel when all they had to do was drive to Paris and the war would have been won? A bit tongue in cheek, but the macro point stands, the goal is to eliminate the enemy forces.

Leaving Kiev intact would have meant accepting a hanging flank along AG Center's route of advance. The Soviets had already positioned around 250k troops to threaten that flank and I think it is foolish to assume that these forces would have done nothing in the event AG Center simply continued its assault straight to Moscow.

As it was the encirclement of Kiev is the paradigm of maneuver battle, what the Germans specialized in. They eliminated over 650k Soviet troops and collapsed the entire SW Front. I think any month the Germans failed to eliminate a substantial number of Soviet troops marked the turning of the battle. It was simply not possible to make the kind of encirclement attacks agains the positions on the road to Moscow that the Germans has used to such great effect to that point. The battle would have been a much grittier slogging affair, especially if the Soviets had not spent their forces in counter-attacks at Smolensk and the Germans left their right flank open.

Conclusion...

Attacking in August and even September was simply not possible do to the general supply situation on the ground and the logistical capabilities of the German Army. The two month pause gave them time to resupply, re-equip and establish supply bases for the drive on Moscow. The "diversion" of sending the Panzergruppen to assist AG North and South was strategically the best choice they could have made, particularly in regards to the defenses around Kiev. At the earliest the Germans could have begun an assault on Moscow in September, but they would have faced the same resistance they did in the actual operation and would be doing so with an exposed flank and a worse supply situation.

It still opens up the question though, could they have actually taken Moscow if they had launched the assault earlier? If so, what effect would that have had? Personally I think they still wouldn't have been able to take Moscow and even if they did, I don't think they are overall in a better position because of it.


The ACTUAL Supply Situation for Army Group Center in Mid- Summer 1941

Because of the rapid and enormous advances realized by the men of Army Group Center from the very outset of their advance eastwards in the direction of Moscow, the challenges of supply and adequate logistical coordination became a growing challenge and a significant supply problem began to materialize as July progressed and the lines of advance extended with each day's gains.

However, by early August, the German logistics/supply/ and transportation units Army Group Center managed to extend the newly configured Soviet converted rail line all the way to Smolensk which substantially improved AG Center's ability to be properly supplied.

This actual improved supply flow was even improved further due to additonal supplies trucked in by convoy coming in from the newly established supply junction at Minsk.

Due to this fresh provisioning and resupply, the armies led by Guiderion were fully suplied, providsioned, and equipped to follow through on the attack of Roslavl on the 2nd of August. This same supply flow enabled Hoth to successfully intervene in AG North's combat operations in August.

In point of fact, the supply and logistical distribution needed to keep Guiderian and his forces fully able to fight all the way through the entire Kiev campaign; all of these supplies came from AG Center's supply system exclusively.

Shouldn't that tell you something as to the exact dispositon and combat readiness of the forces of AG Center to effectively and relatively immediately maintain their advance on Moscow after the Smolensk campaign by mid August? They were quite able to do this and were getting ready to kick the whole Typhoon operation into full gear immediately after the finish of Smolensk operations.

They were ready by the middle of August to begin the final phase of their advance to Moscow. They were alittle over 200 miles away and, considering the rate of their daily gains in miles covered each day, this objective was not very far off.

The whole belief that Typhoon or an August initiative was not possible due to severe supply disruptions is a happy fiction to those historians and history buffs who staunchly believe it just couldn't be done.

It is true that during this time frame, after Hitler ordered Army Group Center to stop and cool it's heels, this order made Army Group Center a stationary target for nearby Russian units.

Consequently, much more ammunition was fired at the Russians in terms of artillery shells and other heavy ordinance and this did lead to obvious supply disruptions. However, if AG Center were allowed to immediately resume its push toward Moscow, this ordinance difficulty would not have materialized.

Bottomline: The whole argument regarding severe supply problems prohibiting AG Center from effectively doing its job did not correspond to the reality on the ground.

CONCERNS REGARDING AG CENTER'S SOUTHERN FLANKS AS THEY ADVANCED TOWARD MOSCOW

In reality, there was no viable threat to AG Center's southern flanks and the belief that there was has no actual basis in fact.

With the fall of Unecha by the middle of August, the Russians were falling back and the Soviet large scale evacuation of Gomel was being finished at this time effectively leaving this area to the Germans as they fled to the south and the east.

The 2nd Army now maintained this region and clearly was able to prevent any significant threat from materializing.

The Russian forces in the Kiev area were more than occupied (in a bad way) with Army Group South and were in no positon to initiate any kind of counterattack to the north.

The Russian Army was just as hampered by poor road conditons as the German Army and their vehicles were in even worse shape with very few spare parts to affect repairs.

In the Orel/Vyasma sector, the capability of the Red Army to effectively fall back in any real organized, concerted fashion was still a pipe dream for the Soveit Army at this early point in the war.
.
Another point along the road of counter arguments against the proposition that the Germans could very well have started Typhoon by mid August is the argument that Stalin could have easily ordered the arrival of Siberian reinforcement earlier than planned and AG Center would have had to face this new threat even if they commenced at this early start date.

Wrong.

To even begin the redeployment took time. The siberians would need to be marshaled, organized, provisioned, supplied, armed, put on trains so approx. 2 weeks for the actual transit over thousands of miles, then another 2 to 3 weeks for actual combat deployment. A mid August start would have prevented the effective, on the ground interference of these new forces.

Now, if the start date were pushed into early to mid September, then the entry of the Siberians may have proved an additonal headache for AG Center, but that is another matter and another argument altogether since we dealing with the early mid August start date for Typhoon instead.

Bottomline: The argument is without merit and has no basis in fact when confronting the actual conditons on the ground.

Last edited by SmilingWolf; 07-06-2011 at 12:40 AM..
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