Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
DavidFrankenberg
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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 19 Dec 2018 19:35

Stiltzkin wrote:
19 Dec 2018 17:00
If, as you are stating, the Eastern front was a matter of "manpower", then you have to logically conclude that the OHW and OKH were suicidal by doing a war they could not win with "manpower"... since the German manpower was inferior to the Soviet manpower, according to your own statements.
No, because the High Command was convinced that they will capture the capital before the end of 1941, or (speaking about the prolonged war of attrition) will be able to drain the enemy of manpower until its offensive power seeps in. Defeating the USSR was not impossible, it was just impossible to do that while being overextended over the vast steppes of the EF. Caesar in Gaul had the same problem (in "de bello gallico" he reveals his concerns), so he chose a slow approach.
1- you stated eastern front was based on manpower.
This wehrmacht could not win since it had less manpower than SU.

2-you stated OKW OKH were not "suicidal" despite they did a war based on manpower while they had less manpower than USSR.

But the logical conclusion to the 1- is :
OKH and OKW were suicidal.

Now you add another point :
if they took Moscow in 41

But it was not possible to take Moscow. Why ? Because of the lack of manpower of the Wehrmacht.

So it doesnt change a iota about that.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Dec 2018 23:04

1- you stated eastern front was based on manpower.
This wehrmacht could not win since it had less manpower than SU.
That does not mean that the Wehrmacht cannot win (or whats more relevant: fight the front to a standstill), it only meant that victory through a quick strike was unlikely, the EF shielded the Soviets from the German economic advantage. The environment amplified and favoured their strength (which was not the case in Finland).
AGC could have attempted an attack on the capital in 1941, whether it would have bared success is another question (how deep did 9th Army penetrate at Orel?). What's more important is, that the war was not over in 1941, but in 1945.
Was it impossible for the RKKA to destroy the German Army groups in 1941 or 1943? No, but the chance was slim (in 1943 the chance was actually quite large).
A lot of things changed, but not the performance of the armies (barely, to the negative), rather the number of men the Allies/Soviets mobilized.
Why would the Allies and Soviets cooperate? The Soviet bloodloss enabled the Allies to come back to the continent. Why did the Allies have so many men? Why was the axis unable to extract such enormous manpower out of the 200 million they controlled?
At the end of 1942 the RSFSR was down to new cohorts. Why would Belorussia or Ukraine or the Kazakh SSR, Poland and others support Moscow? They were not fond of their rule. Well, the Nazis imposed a war of annihilation, a race war and Germany was surrounded by nations/populations which were hostile to it, while out of their "Germanic sphere", only Austria joined their ranks in greater numbers. Italy refused to commit forces to the same degree as they did in WW1 against the Central Powers. Nations like Sweden had little interest in such an obnoxious ideology and France was considered an arch enemy (despite the collaborationatist Vichy forces). Japan was on the other side of the world fighting China and the US.
Why did Australia, New Zealand and Canada support Britain? Why do they still support them today? Cultural spheres and the former Empire. The world was convinced the Nazis had to be defeated, yet the Soviets were morally on the same level. What I am trying to say: The political stage had the same importance as the war room. Wasn't the free world convinced that Saddam Hussein was evil? Syria was amongst the forces that intervened and the Assad clan was morally on the same level as Hussein.
How did Flavius Aetius defeat Attila? By forming an enormous Alliance, joining forces with his former enemies. Why? Simply because Attila enraged those tribes, which he had pillaged before.
What happens if you attack Britain? USA, Canada and others join the fight. What happens if you attack the USSR? Then all Slavic nations and manpower from their system can join the ranks. What happens if you attack Germany? There is only Germany and Austria. The Germans were playing checkers, the Soviets were chess players. They should have factored this in.
But the logical conclusion to the 1- is :
OKH and OKW were suicidal.
You can see it that way if you prefer, but was Alexander the IIIrd suicidal when he marched into Persia? Were the Soviets suicidal when they attacked Finland or marched into Afghanistan? They could have won, yet they refused to pay the price. If that is the case then they were all rather insane, starting such wars in the very first place.
In WW1, Germany did not expect to end up in a long war either. During WW2, they speculated on a short war in the East and prepared for a long war with France (we know this, based on military and economic planning). We are observing this conflict through history books, with the power of hindsight.
Saddam Hussein had more men than the UN forces, were they suicidal? What would have happened if his forces turned out to have the combat power of the IDF (very unlikey of course)? Would the US Staff or intelligence be able to predict that? Were American forces suicidal when they attempted their (misguided and poorly prepared) operation in Somalia? The entire city mobilized against UN forces, they did not factor this in (they should have seized the TV station, broadcasting propaganda to lay down arms, that would have been a Soviet thing). Was Japan suicidal when it marched on China (they had more men)? If China had the development level of the Soviets, the Japanese would have been expulsed.

You need to realize: The Nazis did not simply run out of men, they also ran out of territory. Take the ability to give ground: If the Soviets could not retreat 900km inland, they would have lost. Manpower or not. France was pressed against the Ocean at the end of May and the Soviets lost ground at the same pace. In the early phase of Barbarossa, the attrition rate exceeded Soviet replacement levels, but when the mud period started, they were able to build up their front strength. Then again, Typhoon was launched, the offensive was initially, tremendously successful but gradually ran out of steam. All Soviet counterattacks were fruitless, they took immense casualties. In 1942 their offensives failed again, until the Wehrmacht overextended deep into the caucasus. In 1943 the RKKA withstood a summer offensive for the first time, from there on, their casualties did not drop. The Wehrmacht did not need the same amount of men as the RKKA in order to be succesful. For the Soviets to win, their manpower generation must have been above a threshold and German replacements must have been dropped and or been kept below 500,000 men per quarter. Liedtke makes the point in "Enduring the Whirlwind". He concluded that Germany had the manpower to win WW2. I agree with this contention on the basis of a different approach. If the war develops in the way as it did, then their chances diminish with every year. Alternatively, if the attrition rate exceeds their manpower generation for a longer period then the Soviets cannot win either. In 1941 this is the case, in 1942 this is the case, in 1943 this is no longer the case with the exception of the last quarter, then Axis power declines.
Now you add another point :
if they took Moscow in 41
Even if they took it, there was no certainty they could hold it, perhaps they pictured an 1812 scenario. Taking Leningrad for instance, would have ended the war quicker, because resources would have been redistributed to a senseless objective, weakening other sectors. The thing is that jesk seems to believe that it was simply Hitlers order that kept the Wehrmacht back, but its the strength of the RKKA that does it, I think we all agree on that, even if it was the mere threat of annihilation. Hitlers primary goal was always Moscow. The failure of other sectors threatened AGC and forced them to give up their positions. Hitler is just used as a scape goat by various Generals in their post war anecdotes (downplaying their own errors, this is not to say that his decisions were always rationale) and no "hidden reserves" existed in 1944 (those were redistributed to other fronts), if Germany wanted to win this war, or fight the front to a standstill, it should have adjusted its strategy after the failure of Barbarossa.
I conclude that they made strategic errors, but they were all based on the circumstances in which they found themselves in and the information they had at that time. The Nazi leadership kept pushing, because they were aware of the fact, that once the full extent of their crimes was revealed to the world, they would be hanged.

Japanese troops were suicidal (as practicioners of Bushido), when they kept blowing themselves up before surrender.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 20 Dec 2018 09:57

Today, you agree that the W could not hold the eastern front due to the lack of manpower. Right or wrong ? We need clear answer.

You talk about a possible success in Moscow in 41. But, please, just stay on topic. We are not in what if section.

The fact is that : W was not able to take Moscow in summer nor in winter 41.
The reality is that Hitler decided to clean Ukraine before going on Moscow. And it was a reasonable choice, since a lot of Soviet troops were in Ukraine. You can discuss it in "What if" section.

All this just lead us to conclude to the :
1- impossbility to take Moscow in summer 41
2- success in taking Ukraine in summer 41
3- failure of assault on Moscow in winter 41

>>> general german failure of Barbarossa and soviet success !

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 21 Dec 2018 06:10

Today, you agree that the W could not hold the eastern front due to the lack of manpower. Right or wrong ? We need clear answer.

You talk about a possible success in Moscow in 41. But, please, just stay on topic. We are not in what if section.

The fact is that : W was not able to take Moscow in summer nor in winter 41.
The reality is that Hitler decided to clean Ukraine before going on Moscow. And it was a reasonable choice, since a lot of Soviet troops were in Ukraine. You can discuss it in "What if" section.

All this just lead us to conclude to the :
1- impossbility to take Moscow in summer 41
2- success in taking Ukraine in summer 41
3- failure of assault on Moscow in winter 41
Look, in a prolonged war of attrition there is not such thing as 100% certainty. Even if you succeed temporarily you might not succeed in the long run. It is not just one variable that determines victory. Just because the Soviets had more manpower, does not mean they would automatically reach Berlin. Just because the Wehrmacht decided to halt, does not mean that they could not continue their attack. Just because jesk says the Wehrmacht was held back, does not mean that they would have succeeded, should they had decided to go back on the offensive (which they actually did in 1942, just not towards the capital).
This leaves us with
1) No, not entirely.
2)Yes, because the RKKA could not withhold such a strike in the Western Districts, unless they would have set up defenses a la Kursk and have least double the front strength.
3)Yes, they did not continue the attack because of very serious concerns. In 1942 the Soviets could gradually increase their strength while punching the Wehrmacht away from the capital, but they did not succeed. They launched an attack in the South around Kharkov later that year and failed, which left a wide gap open and turned German interests southeast, since they switched over to prepare for a long war.
>>> general german failure of Barbarossa and soviet success !
Yes I see it that way. Many focus on the large encirclements in the early phases and get distracted by that, but that was not entirely unique to WW2 either, nor just tied to 1941.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 21 Dec 2018 17:48

Stiltzkin wrote:
21 Dec 2018 06:10
Just because the Wehrmacht decided to halt, does not mean that they could not continue their attack.

The Wehrmacht "decided to halt" (beautiful euphemism) cause they could not continue their attack, cause they suffered too many losses, cause of the Soviet forces.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by doogal » 21 Dec 2018 19:05

Stiltzkin wrote: ↑
Today, 07:10
Just because the Wehrmacht decided to halt, does not mean that they could not continue their attack.

The Wehrmacht "decided to halt" (beautiful euphemism) cause they could not continue their attack, cause they suffered too many losses, cause of the Soviet forces.

T
Because they were not mechanically prepared for the rigours of Terrain on the EF. also they were on a logistical tightrope facing a tenacious enemy who did not stop fighting.

They were unable to find a solution to the Russian question.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 22 Dec 2018 22:05

doogal wrote:
21 Dec 2018 19:05
Stiltzkin wrote: ↑
Today, 07:10
Just because the Wehrmacht decided to halt, does not mean that they could not continue their attack.

The Wehrmacht "decided to halt" (beautiful euphemism) cause they could not continue their attack, cause they suffered too many losses, cause of the Soviet forces.

T
Because they were not mechanically prepared for the rigours of Terrain on the EF. also they were on a logistical tightrope facing a tenacious enemy who did not stop fighting.
I appreciate your final "tenacious ennmy who did not stop fighting". Maybe it was the first reason, not the last for the german failure during Barbarossa ?
They were unable to find a solution to the Russian question.
Before launching Barbarossa, they did not answer correctly to that question : was the Red Army superior to the Wehrmacht ? They thought it was not. They were wrong.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 24 Dec 2018 23:32

The Wehrmacht "decided to halt" (beautiful euphemism) cause they could not continue their attack, cause they suffered too many losses, cause of the Soviet forces.
They could have continued the attack, or else Typhoon would have never been launched either (neither Fall Blau), after taking one of the highest (monthly) losses of the entire war (August 1941). Historically speaking there were units with over 50% of sustained casualties (in respect to their original strength) and continued attacking, that cannot be regarded as the ultimate reason for battle termination. The equivalent would be stating that the Red Army could not have continued its offensive after the 3rd battle of Kharkov. I see people have a hard time understanding higher level decision making (and psychology). An Army can be forced or can decide to adopt a defensive posture, because offensive action might bare no success.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 25 Dec 2018 01:28

Stiltzkin wrote:
24 Dec 2018 23:32
The Wehrmacht "decided to halt" (beautiful euphemism) cause they could not continue their attack, cause they suffered too many losses, cause of the Soviet forces.
They could have continued the attack, or else Typhoon would have never been launched either (neither Fall Blau), after taking one of the highest (monthly) losses of the entire war (August 1941). Historically speaking there were units with over 50% of sustained casualties (in respect to their original strength) and continued attacking, that cannot be regarded as the ultimate reason for battle termination.
So you think they could continue to attack with units 50% dead ?
No, they could not. They suffered too many losses during the summer.
That's why they didnot continue their attack and failed.
The equivalent would be stating that the Red Army could not have continued its offensive after the 3rd battle of Kharkov. I see people have a hard time understanding higher level decision making (and psychology). An Army can be forced or can decide to adopt a defensive posture, because offensive action might bare no success.
Well, the fact is that the 3rd battle of Kharkhov is a defeat for the Red Army.
But we talk here about Barbarossa which is more than "one battle".

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 25 Dec 2018 11:16

So you think they could continue to attack with units 50% dead ?
No, they could not. They suffered too many losses during the summer.
That's why they didnot continue their attack and failed.
1.) 50% casualties are not 50% dead. 2.) Again you have ignored my 2nd statement: There were units which were commencing the attack under such circumstances during WW2 (and other eras). They did that (even American formations). They did continue the attack, just not towards the capital, since the Soviets failed the 1942 summer offensive. What would have stopped them to launch an offensive towards the capital? Success is a different question. There are multiple outcomes. Possibilities such as:
1.) they succeed (unlikely, but possible) or they succeed and cannot hold their positions (more likely)
2.) the Red Army counter attacks and drives them further back (possible, this was happening, it was a continous back and forth)
3.) Envelopment of the magnitude of Stalingrad (as was the case in the subsequent year) and the threat of annihilation (comparable to 1914), a highly likely scenario.
The problem I have with most assertions of the type "Hitler held us back, that is why we failed", is the assumption that this was the sole reason for their failure, "we would have succeeded if not for his intervention". Such a view is simplistic and devoid of (military) reality.
That they lacked the strategic reserves to risk such operations is certainly a valid point, but the numbers they possessed at the end of 1941-42 sufficed for counter blows. If the enemy was depleted, a new offensive would be launched.
The Red Army absorbed massive damage and was getting progressively stronger, not weaker. The German Army was stabilizing after a certain period, but the losses alone do not explain their decision to halt. German reserves were enough to replace the losses sustained in the summer.
Wehrmacht casualties from 22nd June 1941 - 28th February 1942: 220,917 KIA, 768,660 WIA, 57,725 MIA, for a total of 1,047,302 casualties. Approx. 499,629 are going to be returns, plus 471,600 men as replacements (there were greater reserves, but these were the ones primed as direct replacements for the losses sustained in the summer). This leaves us with 547,173 irrecoverables, for a negative of 75,573, which could have been (and probably were) filled up again by redistributing the regular personnel available under the command of the replacement army (570,400 further men).
Well, the fact is that the 3rd battle of Kharkhov is a defeat for the Red Army.
But we talk here about Barbarossa which is more than "one battle".
That is not the point. There was nothing that stopped the Red Army from continuing the offensive, since they held the initiative. The Red Army was frequently unable to complete given missions, but then simply relaunched the same strike and succeeded, because it could afford more mistakes. The Soviets decided to dig in, the reason why Zitadelle happened in the very first place. The Stalingrad Campaign, Kharkov and Kursk can also be seen as a variety of engagements.

Here is my interpretation: The German High Command got cold feet (the pun). German troop morale was still high, but I cannot say that for their Staff. They must have realized that they were trapped in a 1914 scenario again. Throughout the years I have only seen high praise for them, only few dared to question this.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Dec 2018 13:57

German forces in 1941 received a full refill in late summer but afterwards the German army could only do partial refills. By the beginning of Typhoon it was very much a situation with half strengths or worse, with some full strength, new units coming in.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 25 Dec 2018 15:48

German forces in 1941 received a full refill in late summer but afterwards the German army could only do partial refills. By the beginning of Typhoon it was very much a situation with half strengths or worse, with some full strength, new units coming in.
They were starting to consume their own substance, after the failure of Barbarossa they were practically down to their refill. That however does not mean that they could not replace the losses of Barbarossa. It is if anything a question of how effective your manpower generation is and if you can build up your forces relative to the enemy. The Soviet manpower generation was substantially greater, but it was also "leaking" more intensly. In the summer, the attrition rate exceeded their intake, in the Autumn and Winter this was no longer the case (only temporarily), so that the RKKA could build up its strength.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 25 Dec 2018 16:21

Stiltzkin wrote:
25 Dec 2018 11:16
So you think they could continue to attack with units 50% dead ?
No, they could not. They suffered too many losses during the summer.
That's why they didnot continue their attack and failed.
1.) 50% casualties are not 50% dead.
2.) Again you have ignored my 2nd statement: There were units which were commencing the attack under such circumstances during WW2 (and other eras). They did that (even American formations). They did continue the attack, just not towards the capital, since the Soviets failed the 1942 summer offensive. What would have stopped them to launch an offensive towards the capital? Success is a different question.

There are multiple outcomes. Possibilities such as:
1.) they succeed (unlikely, but possible) or they succeed and cannot hold their positions (more likely)

If they cannot hold their positions, it is not a success. It's a failure.

2.) the Red Army counter attacks and drives them further back (possible, this was happening, it was a continous back and forth)

This is called a disaster.

3.) Envelopment of the magnitude of Stalingrad (as was the case in the subsequent year) and the threat of annihilation (comparable to 1914), a highly likely scenario.

The problem I have with most assertions of the type "Hitler held us back, that is why we failed", is the assumption that this was the sole reason for their failure, "we would have succeeded if not for his intervention". Such a view is simplistic and devoid of (military) reality.
That they lacked the strategic reserves to risk such operations is certainly a valid point, but the numbers they possessed at the end of 1941-42 sufficed for counter blows. If the enemy was depleted, a new offensive would be launched.
Could we agree on some basic facts please ?
An offensive is not a success if you cant hols your positions.
An offensive is not a success if you dont achieve the goals.
An offensive is not a success if you are behind your preliminary lines after the offensive.
In other words, in that cases an offensive is a failure.
Barbarossa was a german failure because it didnt achieve its own goals.
The Red Army absorbed massive damage and was getting progressively stronger, not weaker. The German Army was stabilizing after a certain period, but the losses alone do not explain their decision to halt. German reserves were enough to replace the losses sustained in the summer.
Wehrmacht casualties from 22nd June 1941 - 28th February 1942: 220,917 KIA, 768,660 WIA, 57,725 MIA, for a total of 1,047,302 casualties. Approx. 499,629 are going to be returns, plus 471,600 men as replacements (there were greater reserves, but these were the ones primed as direct replacements for the losses sustained in the summer). This leaves us with 547,173 irrecoverables, for a negative of 75,573, which could have been (and probably were) filled up again by redistributing the regular personnel available under the command of the replacement army (570,400 further men).
The thing is that the men the OKW lost in summer 41 was the best of the OKW.
They were veterans of Poland, France, Denmark, Norway, Greece...
Once this cream was amputated by 50% your army worth declined by 50%...
Once you got blue instead of vets... things are doomed.

Halder understood it very quickly like by november 41 : the Wehrmacht disappeared, they will never recover from these losses...
Well, the fact is that the 3rd battle of Kharkhov is a defeat for the Red Army.
But we talk here about Barbarossa which is more than "one battle".
That is not the point. There was nothing that stopped the Red Army from continuing the offensive, since they held the initiative. The Red Army was frequently unable to complete given missions, but then simply relaunched the same strike and succeeded, because it could afford more mistakes. The Soviets decided to dig in, the reason why Zitadelle happened in the very first place. The Stalingrad Campaign, Kharkov and Kursk can also be seen as a variety of engagements.
Red Army got ripped in Kharkov... dont ask why they did not continue : they could not.
Here is my interpretation: The German High Command got cold feet (the pun). German troop morale was still high, but I cannot say that for their Staff. They must have realized that they were trapped in a 1914 scenario again. Throughout the years I have only seen high praise for them, only few dared to question this
OKW didnot decide anything. OKH decided everything.
The blame is on Hitler.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by Stiltzkin » 25 Dec 2018 18:37

An offensive is not a success if you cant hols your positions.
An offensive is not a success if you dont achieve the goals.
An offensive is not a success if you are behind your preliminary lines after the offensive.
Never argued about the definitive inconclusiveness of offensives. We can only make guesses (well, I did run various models with statistical determinants).
Red Army got ripped in Kharkov... dont ask why they did not continue : they could not.
Says who? What exactly happened after the failure of Zitadelle? The Red Army did not exactly stand still....There was nothing that would have not allowed a further attack. They were insecure, the (failed) summer offensives of the previous years were still in their mind. There was a lull between Kharkov and Kursk, because the Red Army decided to stand idle. The Soviets got even more out of it. The reason for the inability to take Kharkov lied (again) in the relative strength of both parties. The Soviets were heavily decimated after their push from Stalingrad and the Germans forwarded some (limited) reserves, but they did not need to wait out the German pincer at Orel and Belgorod.
Once you got blue instead of vets... things are doomed.
Quality is a relative term, if a faction fights a prolonged war of attrition, it will suffer a decline in quality personnel, this will not solely apply to the Wehrmacht, but all armies, in all conflicts over the world. The tactical gap between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht remained considerable throughout the entire conflict from 41 till the very end. The war ended in 45, not in 41.
The blame is on Hitler.
The blame is always on Hitler, he was an idiot, but so were many of the Generals. I do not know why historians have such a high "Ehrfurcht" for them.

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Re: Soviet failure during Barbarossa

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 25 Dec 2018 20:49

Stiltzkin wrote:
25 Dec 2018 18:37
An offensive is not a success if you cant hols your positions.
An offensive is not a success if you dont achieve the goals.
An offensive is not a success if you are behind your preliminary lines after the offensive.
Never argued about the definitive inconclusiveness of offensives. We can only make guesses (well, I did run various models with statistical determinants).
You should ! Barbarossa is a german failure. And certainly because it failed, Germany lost war.

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