German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 17 Jan 2019 09:31

The movement of Napoleon in Russia. Hardly did he think about double coverage, there was simply information about the terrain, which is better to get around.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Peter89 » 17 Jan 2019 09:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2019 08:54
Considerable support need not be directly against the Heer. The allied aerial campaign puts a huge drain on Germany's resources, more through forcing it to build fighters and Flak than from blowing things up - but also from blowing things up. The sea campaign as well - Germany could have built thousands of Tiger II's for what it spent on submarines alone.

It is obvious to me the Soviets would attack in Europe rather than Asia. Stalin was too worried about Hitler attacking him to consider diverting serious forces east. Plus there's just so much more to gain in Europe, and so much more to which Stalin felt Russia was entitled.
I am not sure about this. I think your logic regarding the international politcs is somewhat flawed.

1. The British diplomacy has been practicing a tradition (to this very day) since the 100-years war: do not let mainland Europe unite under one leadership. They have been allies and enemies of every mainland country, always helping the weaker side to defeat the potential unificator. That's how they picked sides in the Napoleonic wars, WW1, WW2, etc. When the theocratic unification was on the plate, they started their own church. If you look at the current borders of the former British Empire (Ireland - UK, Gibraltar - Spain, Pakistan/Banglades - India, Hong Kong - China), you will see conflicts everywhere. Conflicts that cannot be solved without reaching back to the relations with Britain.

Had the Soviets conquered Europe, the Brits would have intervened, I am sure of it. Also, Churchill hated the communists, see Fulton speech. Harry Truman in the USA also gave out a statement saying:
"If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible"


German aggression prompted the West to help Russia.
Japanese aggression prompted the USA to join the war wholeheartedly.

2. Soviet warcraft was basically ultra-sensitive of strong opposition. Having learned from the Russian Empire that a bloody, unsuccessful war can lay waste your regime, they never tried to oppose near-equal opponents by themselves. The first major uprising in the Russian Empire occured after the Russo-Japanese war, in 1905. The communists came to power after the lost WW1. The communist system could not allow to lose a war. Had the Soviets lost millions of men in Europe without being victorious - could they really continue their regime?

They also avoided confrontation with the more powerful West, see Iran crisis in 1946, Cuban crisis in 1962, etc. As the Soviet state and system failed to deliver in peace, and could not risk a war, they slowly but surely diminished.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 10:34

@jesk you're still missing my point.

I'm talking about attempting double-panzer-envelopments on more than one axis: in Ukraine, Latvia, or both.
What Bock discussed with Brauchitsch - sending Hoth's Gruppe to link up with HG Nord, would still give you only a single double-panzer-envelopment. The only difference is it would create a Kesselschlacht in Latvia instead of Belarus.

Now maybe you (and Bock) think that HG Mitte can close the noose around its opponents even after Hoth has been sent north?
I doubt that very much.
But it also goes to my central contention: Ostheer wasn't positioned to do more than one double-panzer-pincer Kesselschlacht at a time.
That's either (1) a simple reflection of Ostheer's strength as understood by OKH - i.e. they considered attempting two but didn't think they had the forces or (2) a reflection of Ostheer's belief - folly in my opinion and therefore unlikely - that it could execute mass infantry encirclements, or (3) reflects a basic failure to attempt operationally the main strategic goal of destroying the Red Army short of the Dvina-Dniepr line.

I'm inclined towards (3) because I could see Hitler intervening throughout the process to diffuse Ostheer's thrust in favor of (secondary) strategic goals like the quicker capture of land.

I.e. I don't think the Ostheer as constituted could execute multiple simultaneous Kesselschlachten AND advance rapidly across the fronts of all three army groups.
Ostheer had to choose between the secondary strategic goal of taking Ukraine or Latvia a few weeks earlier and the primary strategic goal of destroying as much of the Red Army short of the D-D line as possible.

Somehow the operational plan chose the **secondary** strategic goal over the primary.
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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 10:39

@Peter89

I'm well aware of Britain's historical aim of maintaining a European balance of power.
But you're proposing a false choice: either Britain fights Germany without Russia or Britain surrenders the continent to Russia.
That's not the choice as Churchill saw it. You somehow forget that Britain was urging Stalin to attack Hitler throughout '40-'41.

Nobody expected - and my alternate scenario doesn't predict - that SU would steamroll Germany so easily and completely that Britain wouldn't be able to intervene much as happened IRL. A Soviet invasion in '42 would have taken at least two years to reach Berlin. Plenty of time for the Western Allies to reach pretty much the same settlement with USSR in Europe as they did IRL.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 10:56

@Jesk

From reading the following part of your quote again:
"should Goth advance in the direction north of Minsk, as was previously ordered by the Ground Forces High Command, or should he deliver a powerful blow on the Vitebsk - Polotsk line. I am inclined to the second option, because I doubt that our intention to close the "pot" in the Minsk region will lead to decisive success. I fear that the enemy will withdraw his troops from this area in the very near future. Turning tank troops in the direction of Minsk, we only lose the time that the enemy can use to create a new defensive [49] line beyond the Dvina and the Dnieper."

...it doesn't seem that Bock was advocating using Hoth for a northern Kesselschlacht at all. Rather, he's saying that Hoth should forget about trying to close the Minsk Kesselschlacht and jump ahead to secure a launching pad for the next advance.

It's a good thing Bock didn't get his way. Southwest Front would have mostly escaped (save for the divisions encircled by 4th/9th armies), and the Red Army forces facing the next move - the Smolensk Kesselschlacht - would have been stronger.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 11:14

@Jesk

One more point. You say that Army Group North captured "hundreds of thousands of prisoners" during the border battles.
Not true.
Glantz states that Soviet North Front took "only" 90,000 casualties up to July 7. See Battle for Leningrad, pgs. 32 & 36.

The Germans rarely managed mass encirclements without double-panzer-pincers. West of the D-D line, the only example is Uman, where HG Sud took 100,000 prisoners. That's a very poor showing compared to HGM's ~700,000 prisoners during this period.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Peter89 » 17 Jan 2019 11:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2019 10:39
@Peter89

I'm well aware of Britain's historical aim of maintaining a European balance of power.
But you're proposing a false choice: either Britain fights Germany without Russia or Britain surrenders the continent to Russia.
That's not the choice as Churchill saw it. You somehow forget that Britain was urging Stalin to attack Hitler throughout '40-'41.

Nobody expected - and my alternate scenario doesn't predict - that SU would steamroll Germany so easily and completely that Britain wouldn't be able to intervene much as happened IRL. A Soviet invasion in '42 would have taken at least two years to reach Berlin. Plenty of time for the Western Allies to reach pretty much the same settlement with USSR in Europe as they did IRL.
Please quote a source where Churchill urges Stalin to attack Germany in 1940. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was in full effect. They traded with each other extensively. The SU attacked the Eastern European frontier (Baltic states, East Poland, Bessarabia).

I accept the second part of your comment.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 12:01

By the way - thanks for the link to Bock's diary.

Does anyone have a link to Halder's?

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Stiltzkin » 17 Jan 2019 14:51

Seriously I doubt that Stalin would have ever attacked Germany. Their connection was quite complicated, both parties valued each other as an outstanding trade partner. Stalin and the Soviets in general always attacked considerably weaker opponents. The Soviet system was not able to cope with the power of the West, and they were unlikely to defeat the Axis without considerable support. Furthermore, an attack on Europe could unite the nations of the continent, even those which opposed the Nazis. SU was always easier to defend from a military perspective, and the political system was more prone to solidify in defense than in offense.
+1 for that, finally someone understands the difference between the war room and the political table, victory and defeat. Ideologies aside. The failure of Barbarossa meant that Germany could not succeed by simply pursuing their original goals. They lost the possibility of winning through a quick strike, but that does not teleport the Soviet Army into Berlin. The Soviets were repelled multiple times before (20s, 39), in the Anti-Hitler Coalition, with the war against "fascism" (ius ad bellum), they could grab for more territory. Stalin would not have been successful, if the world perceived him as the greater threat and aggressor.
that SU would steamroll Germany so easily and completely
Very easy victory for the Allies indeed, 35,000,000 operational losses to defeat a middle-sized industrial nation.
that Britain wouldn't be able to intervene much as happened IRL
Britain was unwilling and unable to help after the impact of WW1 and less prepared for total war than any other of the main belligerents next to the USA, while initial attempts in 1940 thwarted as they were kicked off the continent, this contribution proved to be insufficient. The only reason and precondition that they could land on the continent again, was that the USSR was already tanking all the damage. The majority of the German labour force (men of military age) was occupied in the East.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 17 Jan 2019 17:41

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2019 10:34
@jesk you're still missing my point.

I'm talking about attempting double-panzer-envelopments on more than one axis: in Ukraine, Latvia, or both.
What Bock discussed with Brauchitsch - sending Hoth's Gruppe to link up with HG Nord, would still give you only a single double-panzer-envelopment. The only difference is it would create a Kesselschlacht in Latvia instead of Belarus.
Why environment? Brauchitsch wrote about the threat to the flank. Bock challenged the view. No entourage on the basis of the dispute.
Now maybe you (and Bock) think that HG Mitte can close the noose around its opponents even after Hoth has been sent north?
I doubt that very much.
Why noose?
But it also goes to my central contention: Ostheer wasn't positioned to do more than one double-panzer-pincer Kesselschlacht at a time.
That's either (1) a simple reflection of Ostheer's strength as understood by OKH - i.e. they considered attempting two but didn't think they had the forces or (2) a reflection of Ostheer's belief - folly in my opinion and therefore unlikely - that it could execute mass infantry encirclements, or (3) reflects a basic failure to attempt operationally the main strategic goal of destroying the Red Army short of the Dvina-Dniepr line.
Von Bock wrote about it. Hitler forbade tank wedges to move swiftly. The Russians got time to deploy reserves. It is so simple.
I'm inclined towards (3) because I could see Hitler intervening throughout the process to diffuse Ostheer's thrust in favor of (secondary) strategic goals like the quicker capture of land.
Russian human resources are large. Slow land grab gives the opportunity to mobilize more people from them. The logic of Hitler is always meaningless ...
I.e. I don't think the Ostheer as constituted could execute multiple simultaneous Kesselschlachten AND advance rapidly across the fronts of all three army groups.
Ostheer had to choose between the secondary strategic goal of taking Ukraine or Latvia a few weeks earlier and the primary strategic goal of destroying as much of the Red Army short of the D-D line as possible.

Somehow the operational plan chose the **secondary** strategic goal over the primary.
Manstein in 4 days advanced 300 km, Got broke the Soviet defense. Everywhere Russians are powerless to resist the Germans. Everywhere, Hitler braked the Wehrmacht and that's the problem.
From reading the following part of your quote again:
"should Goth advance in the direction north of Minsk, as was previously ordered by the Ground Forces High Command, or should he deliver a powerful blow on the Vitebsk - Polotsk line. I am inclined to the second option, because I doubt that our intention to close the "pot" in the Minsk region will lead to decisive success. I fear that the enemy will withdraw his troops from this area in the very near future. Turning tank troops in the direction of Minsk, we only lose the time that the enemy can use to create a new defensive [49] line beyond the Dvina and the Dnieper."

...it doesn't seem that Bock was advocating using Hoth for a northern Kesselschlacht at all. Rather, he's saying that Hoth should forget about trying to close the Minsk Kesselschlacht and jump ahead to secure a launching pad for the next advance.

It's a good thing Bock didn't get his way. Southwest Front would have mostly escaped (save for the divisions encircled by 4th/9th armies), and the Red Army forces facing the next move - the Smolensk Kesselschlacht - would have been stronger.
The South-Western Front caught up with Army Group South and destroyed.
One more point. You say that Army Group North captured "hundreds of thousands of prisoners" during the border battles.
Not true.
Glantz states that Soviet North Front took "only" 90,000 casualties up to July 7. See Battle for Leningrad, pgs. 32 & 36.

The Germans rarely managed mass encirclements without double-panzer-pincers. West of the D-D line, the only example is Uman, where HG Sud took 100,000 prisoners. That's a very poor showing compared to HGM's ~700,000 prisoners during this period.
In June, 112 thousand prisoners, in July, 700 thousand. Of the 200 thousand prisoners before July 7, just 90 thousand in the north. Manstein provided a deep breakthrough. After the counterstrike at Soltsy, Hitler halted the offensive on Leningrad for a month. Then divided the troops into 3 groups, sprayed forces. Army Group "North" more than others suffered from the "guardianship" of Hitler.

Your opinion is generally understandable. 2 tank groups = encirclement of Russians and victory. This point is primitive. Any German division trashed Russians. The main concentration of forces. Fist and hit. About this Goth recalled. 8-)

http://militera.lib.ru/h/hoth/05.html

Приказ командующего 4-й танковой армией от 2 июля требует особого рассмотрения. По этому приказу в наступление переходили пять танковых корпусов группы армий "Центр" на всем участке, проходящем вдоль Западной Двины и Днепра от Рогачева до Диены, то есть на фронте в 360 километров. Так что о каком-либо массированном ударе в действительности не было и речи. В этих условиях танковые корпуса, конечно, не могли поддерживать друг друга. Необходимо было преодолеть два крупных водных рубежа и не приходилось рассчитывать на то, что противник их не обороняет. Сопротивление, оказанное противником на Березине и особенно под Борисовом, разрушение мостов и сопротивление мелких отрядов, встречаемое 3-й танковой группой за последние дни, заставляли сделать вывод, что противник попытается остановить продвижение немецких войск. Оперативное же построение 4-й танковой армии пока что не учитывало этой возможности. Может быть, в это время речь вообще шла о том, чтобы заставить противника бежать на всем фронте? Об этом Гитлер говорил еще 3 февраля 1941 года. Возможен ли массированный удар в той обстановке, какая сложилась к 3 июля? Рассредоточенность войск северного крыла от Полоцка на север вряд ли позволяла снять находившуюся там одну танковую дивизию, которая готовилась к форсированию Западной Двины. Наступление этой дивизии в случае, если бы ей удалось продвинуться от Городка, могло бы оказать положительное влияние на ход всей операции. 24-й танковый корпус, находившийся на южном фланге 2-й танковой группы, сбив противника на Березине, преследовал его в направлении на Рогачев. Но наступление на противника по ту сторону Днепра не вызывалось оперативной необходимостью. Поэтому 24-й корпус можно и нужно было перебросить под Могилев. Только тогда 2-я танковая группа обеспечила бы достаточными силами направление главного удара на Ельню и Смоленск. Даже слабого человека нельзя сбить с ног растопыренными пальцами — его надо ударить кулаком. Поэтому противника, оборонявшегося за Днепром, не следовало теснить фронтальным [91] наступлением, его нужно было обойти и заставить отступать на восток. Если бы удалось прорваться между Днепром и Западной Двиной, то есть между Оршей и Витебском, и после этого сосредоточить главные силы 4-й танковой армии севернее Днепра (чтобы направить их на восток до линии Смоленск—Велиж— Невель), то можно было бы надеяться параллельным преследованием отрезать противника от войск, действовавших в Прибалтике, и опередить его в гонке к Москве.


The order of the commander of the 4th Tank Army of July 2 requires special consideration. Under this order, five tank corps of the Army Group Center were launched into the offensive along the whole area that runs along Zapadnaya Dvina and Dnieper from Rogachev to Diena, that is, at a front of 360 kilometers. So there wasn’t any talk about any massive strike. Under these conditions, tank corps, of course, could not support each other. It was necessary to overcome two major water frontiers and did not have to rely on the fact that the enemy did not defend them. The resistance exerted by the enemy on the Berezina and especially near Borisov, the destruction of bridges and the resistance of small detachments encountered by the 3rd tank group in recent days, led to the conclusion that the enemy would try to stop the advance of the German troops. The operational construction of the 4th Tank Army did not yet take this opportunity into account. Maybe at this time it was all about making the enemy run on the whole front? Hitler spoke about this on February 3, 1941. Is a massive strike possible in the situation that has developed by July 3? The dispersal of the troops of the north wing from Polotsk to the north was hardly allowed to remove one tank division that was there, which was preparing to force the Western Dvina. The offensive of this division, if it were able to advance from the town, could have a positive impact on the course of the whole operation. The 24th Tank Corps, located on the southern flank of the 2nd Tank Group, shot down the enemy on the Berezina, pursued him in the direction of Rogachev. But the attack on the enemy on the other side of the Dnieper was not caused by operational necessity. Therefore, the 24th Corps could and should have been transferred under Mogilev. Only then would the 2nd Panzer Group provide sufficient forces for the direction of the main attack on Yelnya and Smolensk. Even a weak person can not be knocked down with spread fingers - he needs to hit with his fist. Therefore, the enemy defending beyond the Dnieper should not have been opposed by a frontal [91] attack, it had to be circumvented and forced to retreat to the east. If we could break through between the Dnieper and the Western Dvina, that is, between Orsha and Vitebsk, and then concentrate the main forces of the 4th Panzer Army north of the Dnieper (to send them east to the Smolensk — Velizh — Nevel line), parallel pursuit to cut off the enemy from the troops operating in the Baltic States, and get ahead of him in the race to Moscow.
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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 17 Jan 2019 17:43

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2019 12:01
By the way - thanks for the link to Bock's diary.

Does anyone have a link to Halder's?
http://militera.lib.ru/db/0/pdf/halder_eng6.pdf

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2019 03:15

jesk wrote: Of the 200 thousand prisoners before July 7, just 90 thousand in the north
No. 90,000 TOTAL Soviet casualties in the north before July 7. Only a few thousand of those were prisoners. North Front escaped intact to continue the fight, unlike Western Front which had to be basically rebuilt out of reserves.
jesk wrote:Manstein in 4 days advanced 300 km, Got broke the Soviet defense. Everywhere Russians are powerless to resist the Germans. Everywhere, Hitler braked the Wehrmacht and that's the problem.
No doubt Mannstein advanced, but HGN failed to destroy North Front.
A quick advance through Russia leaving her armies intact is exactly the Napoleon plan. Had Stalin withdrawn and avoided encirclements throughout June-August, Red Army steamroller starts moving west during '41.
You, like Bock and some of the generals, are too dazzled by the operational story to see the strategic picture: Germany needed to destroy Red Army formations more quickly than they did, regardless of how far Ostheer advanced. Indeed, it was an advantage for Kesselschlacht to occur closer to the borders because it means fewer logistical constraints on the next movement.
Jesk wrote:Your opinion is generally understandable. 2 tank groups = encirclement of Russians and victory. This point is primitive.
Primitive or not, it is correct. Had Bock in overall command in Russia, Wehrmacht might have taken Moscow in August, faced 6mil Russians in October, and been back in Poland by 1943. The more I read of Bock's diary the more I agree with Hitler that his generals didn't see the forest for the trees.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2019 03:39

jesk wrote:
17 Jan 2019 17:43
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Jan 2019 12:01
By the way - thanks for the link to Bock's diary.

Does anyone have a link to Halder's?
http://militera.lib.ru/db/0/pdf/halder_eng6.pdf
Thanks!

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 18 Jan 2019 14:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2019 03:15
jesk wrote: Of the 200 thousand prisoners before July 7, just 90 thousand in the north
No. 90,000 TOTAL Soviet casualties in the north before July 7. Only a few thousand of those were prisoners. North Front escaped intact to continue the fight, unlike Western Front which had to be basically rebuilt out of reserves.
In June-July, the North-Western Front lost 377,969 people. Until the end of the year, 651,199. Of them, 143,496 were wounded, 507,703 killed and prisoners. Since August, there have been no profound breakthroughs in the Soviet defense, and the majority of the wounded have been in this period. 300 thousand irretrievable losses in June-July, of which 250 thousand prisoners are equal.
And all this in view of the intervention of Hitler. Pauses in operations, rerouting the route to Leningrad in favor of a tank-inaccessible terrain, order to seize Estonia. The situation allowed her to block. 200,000 prisoners were taken as a result of the breakthrough of the corps of Manstein, the troops marching along the flanks took the lost control of the Soviet soldiers in captivity.

Image

https://military.wikireading.ru/4782
jesk wrote:Manstein in 4 days advanced 300 km, Got broke the Soviet defense. Everywhere Russians are powerless to resist the Germans. Everywhere, Hitler braked the Wehrmacht and that's the problem.
No doubt Mannstein advanced, but HGN failed to destroy North Front.
A quick advance through Russia leaving her armies intact is exactly the Napoleon plan. Had Stalin withdrawn and avoided encirclements throughout June-August, Red Army steamroller starts moving west during '41.
You, like Bock and some of the generals, are too dazzled by the operational story to see the strategic picture: Germany needed to destroy Red Army formations more quickly than they did, regardless of how far Ostheer advanced. Indeed, it was an advantage for Kesselschlacht to occur closer to the borders because it means fewer logistical constraints on the next movement.
Hoth wrote, one of his divisions in July for the day passed 200 km. Napoleon did not have such technical capabilities. A deep breakthrough of the enemy defense, turning south / north meant cutting off enemy communications and taking him prisoner.
Jesk wrote:Your opinion is generally understandable. 2 tank groups = encirclement of Russians and victory. This point is primitive.
Primitive or not, it is correct. Had Bock in overall command in Russia, Wehrmacht might have taken Moscow in August, faced 6mil Russians in October, and been back in Poland by 1943. The more I read of Bock's diary the more I agree with Hitler that his generals didn't see the forest for the trees.
In Russia, the Germans had no enemy. It was necessary only to get on the tanks and reach to Moscow. 4 million prisoners in 1941 with a large number of mistakes committed by Hitler are proof of that.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2019 23:26

Jesk wrote:In June-July, the North-Western Front lost 377,969 people.
That includes all of July, not the initial frontier battles from which Northwest Front escaped intact. That escape, along with the escape of Southwest Front, allowed Stavka to concentrate the bulk of its reserves against HGM, which resulted in the battles of Smolensk.
Jesk wrote:It was necessary only to get on the tanks and reach to Moscow.
So you're of the opinion that the war is over if Ostheer takes Moscow?
Perhaps I should have clarified this point earlier but I think that's totally wrong.
Soviets were completely prepared to fight on after losing Moscow. An early capture of Moscow means Southwest Front is intact on HGM's right flank and it means the next wave of reserves face HGM where its logistical strains are even greater, being further from its supply bases. Luftwaffe's ability to support would be weakened as well, as it had trouble keeping up with the Ostheer in terms of operating bases.

As I said upthread, an early capture of Moscow - with no diversion to destroy Southwest Front - would have spelled disaster for HGM.
David Glantz is totally right on this point.

----------------------

One other point: You continually refer to the need for deeper panzer penetrations. The danger of this tactic is represented by, for example, the encirclement of 8th panzer division in Lithuania during July. It was trapped for four days and, after the battle, had to be withdrawn from combat due to the damage it took.

You basically take at face value everything Mannstein and Guderian said about they could have won the war through their own sheer brilliance. That's a terrible way to read history and I can't think of a single well-respected contemporary historian/analyst who accepts the Mannstein/Guderian line so credulously.

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