Stalingrad

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Feb 2015 05:19

From Hitler's commanders:
Then, on November 30, 1941, Adolf Hitler relieved a frustrated Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt as commander-in-chief of Army Group South and selected his senior army commander in the sector, Field Marshal von Reichenau, to succeed him. By now, Paulus was deputy chief of the General Staff of the army and was working for another friend, General Franz Halder. Reichenau, however, remembered the previous services of his former chief and on December 3, 1941, over a vegetarian dinner, suggested to Adolf Hitler that Paulus be given a chance to command 6th Army. Reichenau knew that Paulus was inexperienced in the area of troop command but calculated that he (Reichenau) could guide the Hessian staff general through the initial, difficult period, while he learned the ropes. Hitler, who also liked Paulus, concurred, and on January 1, 1943, Friedrich Paulus was promoted to general of panzer troops. Despite his junior rank and absolute lack of time in grade, he assumed command of 6th Army four days later.

Although delighted by his promotion and his new assignment, Paulus was, in fact, unqualified for such a high command, both temperamentally and on the basis of experience. His highest previous command was that of an experimental motorized battalion. He had bypassed the vital experiences of commanding a regiment, brigade, division, or corps.
Shortly after his appointment was announced, Paulus lost his mentor. On January 12, 1942, Walter von Reichenau went on his usual cross-country run of several miles despite the fact that the temperature was well below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Later that morning, he collapsed in the officers’ mess with a severe heart attack. Still unconscious and near death on January 17, he was strapped into an armchair for a flight to Leipzig, where a team of distinguished surgeons stood by. The airplane, however, crashed en route, and Reichenau suffered severe head injuries. Whether he succumbed to heart failure or to the head injuries is neither clear nor significant. What is important is that he was dead shortly after he reached Leipzig on the evening of January 17. Friedrich Paulus had lost his teacher before the lessons could be completed.

Despite the fact that he had been promoted above his ceiling, Paulus was fortunate in that he inherited a reasonably good set of corps commanders from Reichenau

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 28 Feb 2015 09:58

steverodgers801 wrote:In 1942, Germany did not have the needed mobility to defend the way their doctrine called for.
It did, just look at the large number of failed Soviet offensives starting from the Spring of 42 until the end of Mars. Plus German war production was accelerating and was beginning to meet the actual demand even when the Germans were on the Offensive so I think the Germans can conduct an elastic defence strategy in 42.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Feb 2015 15:56

The Eastern Front was much too large to conduct elastic offensive across the board.

The failed Soviet offensives also had much to do with the planning and force structure weaknesses still possessed by the Soviets; they did not field formations capable of penetrating into the operational depths until Nov. 1942.
AJFFM wrote:
It did, just look at the large number of failed Soviet offensives starting from the Spring of 42 until the end of Mars. Plus German war production was accelerating and was beginning to meet the actual demand even when the Germans were on the Offensive so I think the Germans can conduct an elastic defence strategy in 42.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 28 Feb 2015 17:01

Cult Icon wrote:The Eastern Front was much too large to conduct elastic offensive across the board.

The failed Soviet offensives also had much to do with the planning and force structure weaknesses still possessed by the Soviets; they did not field formations capable of penetrating into the operational depths until Nov. 1942.
If they did not launch Operation Blau they would have had enough "fire fighter" divisions to block Soviet offensives in 42 and launch limited strokes (like Kharkov 43) that would lead to huge attrition among the Red Army.

And even when the quality of the Red army was at its highest and the German at its lowest the Germans still broke major Red Army offensives as happened in Narva, Ukraine in Winter of 44, Jassy in the Spring of 44 etc..

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ChrisDR68 » 28 Feb 2015 17:07

It's interesting to compare the correlation of forces in the east in June 1942.

According to Hyper War it's as follows:

Germany: 2.9 million men, 3300 panzers and 2750 aircraft (the Germans were also around 100,000 horses and 40,000 trucks down compared to a year earlier making the Ostheer less mobile than at the start of Barborossa). In addition you can add hundreds of thousands of Romanians, Italians, Hungarians and Finns to this list although most were of questionable value partly due to their lack of tanks and anti-tank guns.

Soviet Union: 5.6 million men, 6000 tanks and 2600 aircraft.

So on these figures the Germans were outnumbered 2:1 in troops and tanks although they had a slight advantage in aircraft.

Had the Germans concentrated two thirds of their mobile forces either side of Moscow could they have taken the city in a pincer attack during the campaigning season of 1942?

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by BDV » 28 Feb 2015 17:15

Cult Icon wrote:The Eastern Front was much too large to conduct elastic offensive across the board.

The failed Soviet offensives also had much to do with the planning and force structure weaknesses still possessed by the Soviets; they did not field formations capable of penetrating into the operational depths until Nov. 1942.
No, not against not logistically stranded Axis formations. But I agree, 1942 should see Axis exploiting exposed Soviet positions (like in Bustard Hunt) by a combination of mobile actions and set piece battles. The already weakened RKKA would be weakened further, to such a level, where the Auxiliaries can take more of the slack on the front line relieving the Wehrmacht for defense in the West and South.
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by steverodgers801 » 01 Mar 2015 03:27

There is one critical factor in mobile defense. Predicting where the attack would come form. The Germans were poor at locating Soviet reserves which meant locating troops was guess work. Another problem with the Manstein approach is it assumes the Soviets will always do what the Germans want. Stalin finally learned to trust his generals after the Kharkov debacle.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Mar 2015 05:34

However, Case Blue did inflict 'huge attrition' on the RKKA. Just not enough attrition and wholly unimpressive compared to Barbarossa- indeed they attacked with one AG with around a million men- much smaller than Op. Typhoon. Blau I/II and the great bend gave them 380,000 prisoners by the end of August 1942. The combat power of the 1942 offensive was probably around that of AGS (Rundstedt) a year earlier. It is just that Case Blue lead to Uranus and Little Saturn...
AJFFM wrote:
If they did not launch Operation Blau they would have had enough "fire fighter" divisions to block Soviet offensives in 42 and launch limited strokes (like Kharkov 43) that would lead to huge attrition among the Red Army.

And even when the quality of the Red army was at its highest and the German at its lowest the Germans still broke major Red Army offensives as happened in Narva, Ukraine in Winter of 44, Jassy in the Spring of 44 etc..
This kind of assumes that the RKKA will attack itself to death....They failed in their thrusts sometimes, but succeeded most of the time. in 44'.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Mar 2015 05:39

The April-June victories before Case Blue were either counterblows or set piece offensives. Notably, most of them were achieved with 6.AOK (Paulus) and 11.AOK (Manstein) under AGS (von Bock).
BDV wrote:
No, not against not logistically stranded Axis formations. But I agree, 1942 should see Axis exploiting exposed Soviet positions (like in Bustard Hunt) by a combination of mobile actions and set piece battles. The already weakened RKKA would be weakened further, to such a level, where the Auxiliaries can take more of the slack on the front line relieving the Wehrmacht for defense in the West and South.
I agree to that extent- it would be likely that the Axis would hold the front going into 43', but how could Hitler con his way out of not attacking in the summer? Also it would not be determinable if the RKKA would take heavier losses than they did historically since there would be not German strategic offensive.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 01 Mar 2015 19:36

steverodgers801 wrote:There is one critical factor in mobile defense. Predicting where the attack would come form. The Germans were poor at locating Soviet reserves which meant locating troops was guess work. Another problem with the Manstein approach is it assumes the Soviets will always do what the Germans want. Stalin finally learned to trust his generals after the Kharkov debacle.
I think the events of WWII show that what is more important than predicting where an attack will come is actual response to it. 100 km/day penetrations were rare, very rare. Usually it would take a couple of days for a break to the rear to develop, ample time for strategically placed mobile reserves to counter-attack. While those counter-attacks may not win the battle they usually help avoid encirclement or break one.

Bagration or Barbarossa were exceptional operations conducted against forces so weak and so spread out to the point the offensives were guaranteed wild successes.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 01 Mar 2015 19:44

Cult Icon wrote: However, Case Blue did inflict 'huge attrition' on the RKKA. Just not enough attrition and wholly unimpressive compared to Barbarossa- indeed they attacked with one AG with around a million men- much smaller than Op. Typhoon. Blau I/II and the great bend gave them 380,000 prisoners by the end of August 1942. The combat power of the 1942 offensive was probably around that of AGS (Rundstedt) a year earlier. It is just that Case Blue lead to Uranus and Little Saturn...
Again, no where near the attrition rate AGN inflicted in its defensive battles of the Spring-Summer-Autumn of 42 on the Red army. The key word here is rate. 7:1 is way better than 3:1.

Cult Icon wrote: This kind of assumes that the RKKA will attack itself to death....They failed in their thrusts sometimes, but succeeded most of the time. in 44'.
Yeah, that is the whole point of the defensive strategy. In 42 and 43 and the 1st half of 44 Glantz pointed out that for every successful Red Army offensive it was preceded by an equally large failed offensive weeks or months before.

With the exception of Moscow, Crimea and the Volga line the tempo of the Red Army was always offensive even if the odds were against them.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ljadw » 01 Mar 2015 21:14

The SU could afford a rate of 7/1, Germany could not .

In 1941,Germany lost 831000 men,the SU 4.158.000:result :on 31 december 1941,Germany was weaker than on 22 june and the SU stronger .

In 1942,Germany lost 1.112.000 men,the SU 6.584.000;result : on 31 december 1942,the SU was stronger than on 31 december 1941 and Germany was weaker .

LW losses and losses by sickness,accidents (non combat losses) are not included .
Last edited by ljadw on 01 Mar 2015 21:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by steverodgers801 » 01 Mar 2015 21:19

AJ, response is only valid if there are reserves close enough to respond in time. If the Germans are expecting an attack say in the Orel area and the Soviets main thrust is in the South then its doubtful any troops could get there in time. There is also the tactic of launching a limited attack to let the Germans think its in their desired spot and then a few days later launching the main attack elsewhere

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by steverodgers801 » 01 Mar 2015 21:22

The Germans did expect an offense, they completely underestimated the Soviet ability to sustain a deep offense and where the attack would be. The Soviets had been launching attacks of the immediate flanks on 6th army with no success and thus the German were confident on the ability to keep holding on with any new Soviet offenses.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ML59 » 01 Mar 2015 22:48

ChrisDR68 wrote:It's interesting to compare the correlation of forces in the east in June 1942.

According to Hyper War it's as follows:

Germany: 2.9 million men, 3300 panzers and 2750 aircraft (the Germans were also around 100,000 horses and 40,000 trucks down compared to a year earlier making the Ostheer less mobile than at the start of Barborossa). In addition you can add hundreds of thousands of Romanians, Italians, Hungarians and Finns to this list although most were of questionable value partly due to their lack of tanks and anti-tank guns.

Soviet Union: 5.6 million men, 6000 tanks and 2600 aircraft.

So on these figures the Germans were outnumbered 2:1 in troops and tanks although they had a slight advantage in aircraft.

Had the Germans concentrated two thirds of their mobile forces either side of Moscow could they have taken the city in a pincer attack during the campaigning season of 1942?
The data are incorrect. Axis forces on the eastern front were not less than 4.900.000:
Ostheer 2.900.000
AOK Norwegen 250.000
Finland 450.000
Romania 330.000
Italy 230.000
Hungary 225.000
Luftwaffe 400.000 (estimated)
WH Auxiliary 150.000 (estimated)

total 4.935.000

So, total strength actually increased compared to Barabarossa but German bayonet strength decreased by at least 15% and mobility was greatly reduced by losses in motor vehicles and reduced supply of fuel.

Not all the Axis were worthless; in the sub-arctic conditions in which they operated the Finns were perfectly capable troops, for example. However, in the open steppe along the Don and the Volga, Italians, Romanians, Hungarians were too lightly equipped with automatic weapons, medium artillery and anti-tank weapons to resist full scale offensive operation of the renewed RKKA. And this proved fatal.

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