Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
randwick
Member
Posts: 291
Joined: 23 May 2006 22:08
Location: randwick

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by randwick » 25 Jan 2016 08:44

.
it's even worst that that , if the Wehrmacht had in fact taken Kursk ,getting bogged down deeper ,while the flanks were chewed
with further losses and break down from the fighting , it would have made disengaging even more tricky ,
certainly having to abandon a lot of equipment
they could have been surrounded , Manstein was wrong ,
he would have won an unimportant town an lost everything getting deeper in a deadly trap .

Stalin didn't want to try that , a pity , it certainly would have made it much worst for the Germans to lure them a la Stalingrad

Erwinn
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 17 Dec 2014 09:53
Location: Istanbul

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by Erwinn » 03 Mar 2016 14:32

You underestimate Manstein's ability. He would never stand fast, that's what got him dismissed in the first place. That's also the reason of high Soviet casulties during his time of command.

randwick
Member
Posts: 291
Joined: 23 May 2006 22:08
Location: randwick

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by randwick » 03 Mar 2016 20:38

.
Being surrounded on three sides at the end of an offensive with Koniev's steppe front chewing his lower back doesn't make up for nimbleness.
Model had his hands full stepping out of possible encirclement at Orel , he had no reserves to give , neither had anybody else !

Citadel had taken ALL the available resources , in fact troops had to be withdrawn from there to patch up a broken front on the Muis river where Tolbukin had launched his planned offensive and to stiffen up the Italian after the landing in Sicily .
Manstein was a great general but couldn't do much with nothing . his Kharkov counter offensive was made possible by him having the SS panzer corps as reinforcement against a very stretched out soviet offensive .
Kursk was different , not only were the Soviet ready to pounce , they did ! retaking Orel , Belgorod and Kharkov soon after .
Manstein actions speak louder than his later writings , he withdrew in some haste in what was called "the race to the Dniepr " to set up a defensive line on the river .
as for Soviet losses during his tenure ,November 42 to March 44 , that's also when the Wehrmacht suffered massive losses in men , material and territory ,while defending .
Manstein was certainly a great strategist but he was not a magician

Erwinn
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 17 Dec 2014 09:53
Location: Istanbul

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by Erwinn » 04 Mar 2016 13:36

Manstein is not like Paulus. Paulus screwed up by not seeing the Soviet offensive build up, Manstein had entire AGS under his command. He would've get out of there once he smell the danger. Unless a stupid Stand Fast from Hitler arrives, I doubt Manstein would let Soviets to trap his army.

User avatar
BDV
Financial supporter
Posts: 3704
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 16:11

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by BDV » 04 Mar 2016 17:04

Erwinn wrote:Manstein is not like Paulus. Paulus screwed up by not seeing the Soviet offensive build up, Manstein had entire AGS under his command. He would've get out of there once he smell the danger. Unless a stupid Stand Fast from Hitler arrives, I doubt Manstein would let Soviets to trap his army.
Unfortunately, no, this is not correct.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

randwick
Member
Posts: 291
Joined: 23 May 2006 22:08
Location: randwick

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by randwick » 05 Mar 2016 21:25

.
" I doubt Manstein would let Soviets to trap his army."

As I've said above he certainly knew how to step back with speed when required but he was careful to obtain the permission to do so
Paulus had no choice but to stand fast since that was his orders ! commanders do not improvise with gay abandon ,
like the soldiers , they do what they are told to do , it's a military thing !
by the way there is some very serious doubt if an ordered withdrawing from Stalingrad , taking the wounded and the heavy equipment , was even possible , nothing had been foreseen or prepared , the military intelligence of the Wehrmacht was a failure , time and time again !!!

Erwinn
Member
Posts: 134
Joined: 17 Dec 2014 09:53
Location: Istanbul

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by Erwinn » 07 Mar 2016 16:51

I'm talking about Stalingrad evacuation - not in January 43 when the troops was ill and starving. I'm talking about an immediate breakout after the situation was clear that they were surrounded. At that time it's more then possible, Soviets were still in the process of tightening the ring.

randwick
Member
Posts: 291
Joined: 23 May 2006 22:08
Location: randwick

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by randwick » 07 Mar 2016 21:58

.
This is off thread but the same apply , Paulus had his orders !
one could fault him for not having some reserves and ressources to counter the expected Soviet winter offensive ,
but victory was so close , a matter of days !
his orders were to use every man available , even sending tank crew to fight as infantry , to finish Chiukov 62 army then in it's last gasp

ProxyCentauri
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: 17 Feb 2017 23:28
Location: Oslo

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by ProxyCentauri » 21 Feb 2017 21:17

randwick wrote:.
@ general assembly "there were unofficial talks in Sweden about ending the war "

yes , the Soviet ambassador Kolontai was leading them ,
nothing much significant there , it probably was only a device to put pressure on the Western allies to get real and do some serious fighting

the Soviet Stavka had a bunch of offensive ready post Kursk ,

- operation Kutuzov ,started on the 12th of July
the soviet Western front had broken the front on 30 kms in Model's back and threatened to encircle his 9th army ,
he had to disengage his panzer units to fight a rearguard action , eventually loosing Orel within one month

-operation Rumiatsev , started on 3rd of august by the Voronezh front , that was the Southern equivalent and while the Wehrmacht did some serious damage, by the 5th of August Belgorod had fallen

-the strategic Dombass offensive , started on the 13th August
the Southern front broke through the Mius line , while it was costly , it drew the waffen SS division not transferred to the West , and reputedly cost them more tanks than Kursk itself , ultimately pushing the front line to the line Stalino / Mariupol

Beside some local pressure elsewhere , those were the first of a long planned serie of operations taking advantage of the German out of balance posture ,
at the end of August , the main offensive exploded , the Cheringov-Poltava was huge and Koniev Steppe front threw the German across the Dnieper

those strategic operation were planned months in advance and milked every advantage from Kurtsk ,
even if it had fallen that would not have changed anything ,

for Stalin Kursk was a red cape hypnotizing the German bull

I believe this is a pretty precise description of the general situation on the eastern front about the time the German operations at Kursk ended.
Kursk and its surrounding area was of limited importance other than the fact that from March 1943, enormous Soviet troop
contigents were amassed in the bulge, and to get rid of the larger part of these troops ofc would have meant something.
But apart from that, there was nothing other than wheatfields to conquer, no oil, no metal resources etc.
An eventual win at Kursk would at best regain some of the strategic initiative on the eastern front, but surely not all.
(On all other fronts Soviet troops had also been amassed ready to lauch local offensives almost regardless of
what would happen at Kursk)
But unless the regain of the strategic initiative was total, was that the most important aspect of the German situation in the
spring of 1943?
IMO, the lack of almost everything from food to fuel, which struck Germany hard in the beginning of 1943 was more important.
If the logistics of a modern war macine breaks down, everything is lost no matter how good the troops are.

We can also mention the fact that after the crack of the enigma code, by 1943, Stalin and the STAVKA knew almost everything regarding
the broader picture on the eastern front. Paradoxally, Hitler overestimated the limited examples of success namely the recapture of Charkov
in March 1943 and the stabilitation of the front for Army Group South. During the Charkov operations, the Soviets didnt have the same
precise information at hand because leaders such as Hausser and Manstein improvized several times without consulting Hitler.
This caught the Soviets by surprise and resulted in tactical successes.

IMO, it is pretty clear that the Germans should not attacked at all after the success at Charkov and Belgorod.
In March 1943, the German war machine was far from being beaten, but its logistics showed clear signs of breaking down.
First and foremost, the enormous costs in manpower couldnt easily be replaced. One must understand that the losses
as a rule almost always hurt the elite units by far the most, namely the panzer divisions, the best infantry divisions, the paratroopers
and the Waffen-SS.
Allready in the winter of '41 this had taken a heavy toll when large portions of the most experienced and best motivated troops
perished in front of Moscow.
This escalated in 1942/43 with the loss of the entire 6.Army. The 6.Army before Fall Blau was considered by most as the most powerful
element on Army level of the entire German army.
One can also add to this the IMO very underestimated loss of 250.000 troops from D.A.K, another well-trained and highly successful band of soldiers.

Now, the mentioned 'red cape hypnotizing the German bull' was among other things a result of these ill-considered and in
many ways unnecessary losses. Hitler was desperate for revenge and to re-establish the German reputation on the battlefield.
As such, he was way too eager to attack, although with the exeption of almost just one general only(The OKW chief of staff, Zeitzler)
the German leadership in general was negative to the attacking plans.

Germany needed breathing space, to re-organize their troops, to implement new and improved weapon systems such as the Panther tank
(which was hastily deployed at Kursk largely untested with the result of extensive losses due to mechanical breakdowns),
to sort out the problems with lack of almost everything of raw-materials, fuel etc.
At least parts of this could be sorted out if Germany kept the larger part of Ukraine with its vast resources(but not the fuel problems)

At best, Germany could hope to act more offensively the next summer, in 1944.
Kursk was Germany's own produced noose, with especially after the catastrophic losses in men and material on the Mius-front
in the aftermath of Kursk, all German Panzer Divisions were bled white both in men and material.

After that, there was no way to stop the Red Army

User avatar
dgfred
Member
Posts: 225
Joined: 31 Jan 2008 16:56
Location: N.C., USA

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by dgfred » 22 Feb 2017 18:29

Good post there.

steverodgers801
Member
Posts: 1147
Joined: 13 Aug 2011 18:02

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by steverodgers801 » 23 Feb 2017 01:25

BDV you are very wrong about Manstein, He refused to accept the logic of withdrawal. Models army was retreating fast and there would be a very great danger if had stayed where he was. It would not have affected the Soviets greatly if Manstein had continued to chew up the forces of one front while another is crashing down of his flank. Even if by some miracle Manstein had been able to reach Kursk, he still was only half way to surrounding the bulge and the north arm had failed to make any major penetration.

steverodgers801
Member
Posts: 1147
Joined: 13 Aug 2011 18:02

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by steverodgers801 » 23 Feb 2017 01:29

Manstein's concept of tactical strikes like at Kharkov would only have worked if the Soviets had attacked when and where expected. Bagration worked because the Germans prepared for a strike in the Ukraine first, not second and thus the PZ reserves where not where they needed to be

ProxyCentauri
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: 17 Feb 2017 23:28
Location: Oslo

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by ProxyCentauri » 23 Feb 2017 12:13

steverodgers801 wrote:BDV you are very wrong about Manstein, He refused to accept the logic of withdrawal. Models army was retreating fast and there would be a very great danger if had stayed where he was. It would not have affected the Soviets greatly if Manstein had continued to chew up the forces of one front while another is crashing down of his flank. Even if by some miracle Manstein had been able to reach Kursk, he still was only half way to surrounding the bulge and the north arm had failed to make any major penetration.
Before Kursk, Manstein like the rest of the Generals was against the Kursk offensive.
But on the evening after the titanic clash with the 5.Guards Tank Army on 12.7.1943, Manstein surely wanted to continue the attack,
which also made sense. After the war there has been quite some dispute on excactly how many operational tanks both sides
could muster after Prokhorovka. Author Tim Ripley in his 'Waffen-SS Battles on the Eastern front 43-45' claims 5.GTA to be down from
ca 850 tanks before the clash to between 100-150 operational tanks.
Manstein wanted to regroup and continue the attack, because he believed he was on the verge of breaking into the open hinterlands
behind the enormous defence belts. (Not even this was entirely true. On his part of the sector he had created horrendous tank losses
on the Soviets, but large belts in the centre of the bulge and even behind the bulge had still to be contested)
I have not read Manstein's 'Verlorende Siege' but that probably meant that he was ready to commit the little reserve force he had,
the XXIV Panzer Corps, containing 'Wiking' and the 17. Pz with its around 150+ tanks to move up behind the II SS. Panzer Corps
and help the breakout in the open.
This would for sure had crushed 5.GTA, probably also elements of 6. Guards Army and 5. Guards Army.

The big question is- how much would that have contributed to the broader picture?
I am inclined to believe 'absolutely nothing' because as another contributor has mentioned, Model's 9.Army was by now in full retreat
attacked by overwhelming forces. On the southernmost part of the front the Soviets had established bridgeheads both at Izyum
and on the Mius front, with a real threat of launching a southern pronger that would surround Army Group South.

Speculating as we can, I believe it would have been best to let Manstein finish the job against the 5.GTA, but then he would for sure
have had to retreat due to all the threats on other parts on the eastern front, if not for the sole reason that both his flanks would
come under enormous pressure. Sooner or later that would have been obvious to him

steverodgers801
Member
Posts: 1147
Joined: 13 Aug 2011 18:02

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by steverodgers801 » 24 Feb 2017 03:17

He was not aware of Steppes front which he was fighting. He was actually no where clear to breaking through any where and could not have exploited any so called breakthrough

randwick
Member
Posts: 291
Joined: 23 May 2006 22:08
Location: randwick

Re: Kursk - An Alternative Plan

Post by randwick » 24 Feb 2017 13:03

.
Manstein make a great play AFTER the war of his offensive mindset
that is complete rubbish
Model in the North was having his arse chewed by Popov and Bagramian ,
he HAD to stop the skull bashing of Oboyan which was getting exactly nowhere ,
Rokosovsky had successfully contained his offensive , the number speak for themselves
first day ,
Model attack on a twenty kms front with nine infantry divisions and one panzer with plenty of assault guns ,
elephant and panthers underachieved badly , the day advance was 6 kms
second day ,
model attack ten kms with the same units minus many assault guns ,
that was a slogging match over less than 5 km ,with two kms advance ,
the battle ended in a three day confrontation for Ponyri and Olkhovatka for no advance beside taking a rail station at an incredible cost
the German grinded down the defense but were ground down themselves .
then the Briansk front broke through their rear heading straight for Orel , the main German base .
that was it .
model had to extricate his depleted forces ,turn them 180 degrees to face five fresh armies ,
He still lost Orel but saved his neck from an encirclement .
it was a close thing ,never mind Kursk , Model was facing the destruction of three of his army corps and most of his armor

Citadel success was to make a pincer move ,
now that the northern tooth was broken ,Manstein would have to be a fool to dive deeper alone in the mist of Soviet forces

Return to “German Strategy & General German Military Discussion”