German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

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daveshoup2MD
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Jan 2022 20:51

Interesting analysis posted by Thaddeus on the "What if" page along these lines:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/44641609?s ... b_contents

Very interesting read; kind of surprising, that after all the effort the Germans put into their amphibious force and planning in 1940, and the efforts underway with the Italians toward an actual combined operation against Malta in 1942, no one made the leap that the same resources - move, if possible, into the Black Sea - could have had a huge impact, and against an enemy that - unlike the British - were much less capable of organizing a substantial joint (air-sea-land) defense of the potentially threatened coast.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by thaddeus_c » 24 Feb 2022 15:08

if the Axis had cleared the Baltic instead attempted to contain the Soviet fleet they might have sped the invasion towards Leningrad and improved their political influence over the Scandinavian countries.

there were two major evacuations https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_ev ... of_Tallinn and a bit later https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941) that had 10's of 1,000's of Soviet troops and tonnes of materials transported to aid the defense of Leningrad

the Black Sea of course a more difficult scenario for the KM to aid? they did have interwar designs for transportable submarines, but none built. there again a major Soviet evacutation took place, that aided the defense of Crimea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Odessa_(1941)

a good paper on how miniscule Axis naval forces might have affected the theater https://www.jstor.org/stable/44641609?s ... b_contents

there was another major decision regarding naval matters and that was sending the Bismarck on a raiding mission not long before invasion, probably a better idea would have been to concentrate their entire surface fleet in Norway?

the attempt at submarine warfare in the Indian Ocean waited until 1943, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsun_Gruppe maybe they could have joined the surface raiding ships earlier?

Counter
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 24 Feb 2022 16:07

That was the right strategy they missed (fortunately):

An advance from Suez through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey is necessary. If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power. The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ... an_plan%22

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 24 Feb 2022 19:46

Counter wrote:
24 Feb 2022 16:07
That was the right strategy they missed (fortunately):

An advance from Suez through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey is necessary. If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power. The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ... an_plan%22
That was an idiotic strategy with no means to carry out. The Wehrmacht got hammered in the winter of 1941/1942 and lost men and matériel beyond hope to replace in that year. Not to mention the loss of veteran formations, which was impossible to replace for the remainder of the war.

With such a situation in the East, the only sensible policy would have been to ask for terms and evacuate Africa ASAP, and to assume defensive positions in the East.

The drive itself from Lybia to Turkey and Iran would cripple the German war machine, already rationing fuel so harshly that pilot training was effectively halted.
The Allied position was firmly under their control, and the numbers did begin to tell, but even if the Germans would counter little and inept resistance, they got to defeat like 20 divisions, covering thousands of kilometers with essentially the same logistics that was inadequate to sustain 10 divisions and with an Italian Navy that was defeated or routed at every encounter with the Brits.

The only time when such a move could be considered with any semblance of success was during the Iraqi coup, when the Levant was in Vichy French hands as well, and the Wehrmacht was not engaged in the East.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Counter
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 24 Feb 2022 22:04

Peter89 wrote:
Counter wrote:That was the right strategy they missed (fortunately):

An advance from Suez through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey is necessary. If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power. The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ...

That was an idiotic strategy with no means to carry out.
Obviously you didn´t read that what Raeder proposed to Hitler was previous to "Barbarrosa". At that time, they could have easily to have conquered the Mediterranean. Among other things they could have probably forced the UK to ask for armistice, they would have avoided the war in the Balcans and also the long campaign in North Africa.

Raeder was right as pondering the importance of the "maritime flanks" of the Soviet Union.

That was september 1940. As they already learned that UK can not be defeated by the Luftwaffe.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 24 Feb 2022 22:32

Counter wrote:
24 Feb 2022 22:04
Peter89 wrote:
Counter wrote:That was the right strategy they missed (fortunately):

An advance from Suez through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey is necessary. If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power. The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ...

That was an idiotic strategy with no means to carry out.
Obviously you didn´t read that what Raeder proposed to Hitler was previous to "Barbarrosa". At that time, they could have easily to have conquered the Mediterranean. Among other things they could have probably forced the UK to ask for armistice, they would have avoided the war in the Balcans and also the long campaign in North Africa.

Raeder was right as pondering the importance of the "maritime flanks" of the Soviet Union.

That was september 1940. As they already learned that UK can not be defeated by the Luftwaffe.
You probably didn't read my comment carefully.

In September 1940, there was no agreement with the French, no Iraqi coup, no German control over the Balkans, no Italian invitation to North Africa. Nothing that could give this plan a pinch of credibility. The only possible moment for such an intervention was in 1941, when the entire British position shook in the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean sea.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

thaddeus_c
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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by thaddeus_c » 24 Feb 2022 23:44

the issue with Turkey is that they were wholeheartedly commited to remaining neutral, and they would have become another state for Germany to have had to equip.

of course due to the Iraqi coup, the British had invaded Vichy Syria-Lebanon, if that fiasco was not part of the equation? not impossible that Turkey could have become involved, albeit along the lines of Finland, only against the Soviets(?)

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 25 Feb 2022 00:27

Peter89 wrote:In September 1940, there was no agreement with the French, no Iraqi coup, no German control over the Balkans, no Italian invitation to North Africa. Nothing that could give this plan a pinch of credibility.
In September 1940 Hitler was at the peak of his power. He could have forced the poor Spain easily to take Gibraltar, there was no need of any "agreement" with the French once the Panzer would be in spanish moroccan Protectorate. And the italians... if they were not able to reach Suez themselves at the time the Panzer coming to Africa, herr Rommel or herr Guderian would do.

The only reason Hitler did not do so was because he forgot the importance of "maritime flanks" of the USSR opting for a simplistic and blunt frontal push in central Russia. Absurdly, german strategists thought an intervention in the Mediterranean was a sum-zero game related to intervention in the USSR, but Raeder did see it the right way.
Thaddeus_c wrote:the issue with Turkey is that they were wholeheartedly commited to remaining neutral, and they would have become another state for Germany to have had to equip.
Turks were neutral, and even sympathizing with the british, but if they had to choose, they would choose always AGAINST the Russians, the secular enemy.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 25 Feb 2022 07:28

Counter wrote:
25 Feb 2022 00:27
Peter89 wrote:In September 1940, there was no agreement with the French, no Iraqi coup, no German control over the Balkans, no Italian invitation to North Africa. Nothing that could give this plan a pinch of credibility.
In September 1940 Hitler was at the peak of his power. He could have forced the poor Spain easily to take Gibraltar, there was no need of any "agreement" with the French once the Panzer would be in spanish moroccan Protectorate. And the italians... if they were not able to reach Suez themselves at the time the Panzer coming to Africa, herr Rommel or herr Guderian would do.

The only reason Hitler did not do so was because he forgot the importance of "maritime flanks" of the USSR opting for a simplistic and blunt frontal push in central Russia. Absurdly, german strategists thought an intervention in the Mediterranean was a sum-zero game related to intervention in the USSR, but Raeder did see it the right way.
Thaddeus_c wrote:the issue with Turkey is that they were wholeheartedly commited to remaining neutral, and they would have become another state for Germany to have had to equip.
Turks were neutral, and even sympathizing with the british, but if they had to choose, they would choose always AGAINST the Russians, the secular enemy.
Spain would not join the Axis in September 1940; besides, Hitler didn't want to share the spoils and fulfill Spain's demands.

Without Vichy cooperation, or neutral stance, there would be no Levant Army or a possibility of an Axis eastern pronge against the Suez. Worse, the Levant could join the Brits.

The Italians did not allow Germans into Africa, thus: there would be no Germans in Africa. Even if they could deploy a few units to Morocco, a continent away from the operational area, it would mean nothing. Because they would be a continent away from the operational area.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 25 Feb 2022 11:14

Peter89 wrote:Spain would not join the Axis in September 1940; besides, Hitler didn't want to share the spoils and fulfill Spain's demands.

Without Vichy cooperation, or neutral stance, there would be no Levant Army or a possibility of an Axis eastern pronge against the Suez. Worse, the Levant could join the Brits.

The Italians did not allow Germans into Africa, thus: there would be no Germans in Africa. Even if they could deploy a few units to Morocco, a continent away from the operational area, it would mean nothing. Because they would be a continent away from the operational area.
The correct chronology is:

-In September 1940, negotiations between Germany and Spain started (Italians supposed to advance to reach Suez, French repulse british attack in Dakar)
-In October, Spain accepts with reserve joining Axis; Italians invade Greece
-In November, spanish government continues negotiations in order to get guarantees of an "imperial booty" at the expense of French colonies in Northern Africa. Hitler decides invading the Soviet Union (in May 1941). Hitler decides intervening in Greece to help italians
-In December Franco refuses to join Axis -Hitler does nothing about it. Italian defeat in Egypt

So obviously the key factor was Hitler decision not to do anything about Franco´s government stepback in December 7 1940 (as obtaining no guarantee of a "imperial booty" for Spain). Just remind what happened as Yugoslavian government stepped back in March 1941 (not helping german logistics for the invasion of Greece).

In December 1940 Italians had nothing to say, as they were in need of German help. And the French were still in German hands.

But stupidly, Hitler loses interest in the Mediterranean in November 1940 because he is focusing primarily on the planned invasion to the USSR. In spite of that he must send troops to Greece, then to Lybia, then to Yugoslavian due to political compromises with Italy. This was actually sum-zero game. Just the other way around, Admiral Raeder´s view was intelligent.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 25 Feb 2022 14:14

Counter wrote:
25 Feb 2022 11:14
Peter89 wrote:Spain would not join the Axis in September 1940; besides, Hitler didn't want to share the spoils and fulfill Spain's demands.

Without Vichy cooperation, or neutral stance, there would be no Levant Army or a possibility of an Axis eastern pronge against the Suez. Worse, the Levant could join the Brits.

The Italians did not allow Germans into Africa, thus: there would be no Germans in Africa. Even if they could deploy a few units to Morocco, a continent away from the operational area, it would mean nothing. Because they would be a continent away from the operational area.
The correct chronology is:

-In September 1940, negotiations between Germany and Spain started (Italians supposed to advance to reach Suez, French repulse british attack in Dakar)
-In October, Spain accepts with reserve joining Axis; Italians invade Greece
-In November, spanish government continues negotiations in order to get guarantees of an "imperial booty" at the expense of French colonies in Northern Africa. Hitler decides invading the Soviet Union (in May 1941). Hitler decides intervening in Greece to help italians
-In December Franco refuses to join Axis -Hitler does nothing about it. Italian defeat in Egypt

So obviously the key factor was Hitler decision not to do anything about Franco´s government stepback in December 7 1940 (as obtaining no guarantee of a "imperial booty" for Spain). Just remind what happened as Yugoslavian government stepped back in March 1941 (not helping german logistics for the invasion of Greece).

In December 1940 Italians had nothing to say, as they were in need of German help. And the French were still in German hands.

But stupidly, Hitler loses interest in the Mediterranean in November 1940 because he is focusing primarily on the planned invasion to the USSR. In spite of that he must send troops to Greece, then to Lybia, then to Yugoslavian due to political compromises with Italy. This was actually sum-zero game. Just the other way around, Admiral Raeder´s view was intelligent.
Besides stating the obvious, there must be an argument why was it possible for Germany to send troops to Italian Lybia or Vichy Levant, not to mention via Franco's neutral Spain. In September 1940, these operations were not possible. After June 1941, they were not possible either.

Raeder was correct in many ways regarding the wider aspects of the war, but what he proposed in 1940 was incompetent, and what he proposed in 1942 was impossible.

What he realized correctly is that the British Empire will not abandon the fight with all its empire behind its back. That back had to be broken first to bring the British to the negotiation table. It was also true that Germany needed control of the quasi-landlocked seas and for that Suez was important (although not as important as Gibraltar). There was no other way to secure resources from Africa and the Middle East.

But what he did not realize correctly was that his ships will never compete with the Royal Navy, and even less with the USN. This meant that he needed to shift focus to assymetric warfare which he did not, because as a Mahonist, he believed in control of the seas and that could only be done with a battle fleet. Thus naval aviation, submarine development and auxiliary cruisers by and large escaped his imagination; so it is questionable how much success could he achieve on the long term.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 25 Feb 2022 14:34

Peter89 wrote: there must be an argument why was it possible for Germany to send troops to Italian Lybia or Vichy Levant, not to mention via Franco's neutral Spain. In September 1940, these operations were not possible
Easy: overwhelming Axis aerial superiority at the time (outside English skies...), 200 divisions free to invade whatever (Panzer, vehicles, fuel...), weakness of spanish regime (threatening was enough, not necessary to fight in Spain) and italian ships to transport every required supply from one port to another.

You can start from spanish moroccan port of Melilla, then Oran, then Algiers, then Bone, then Bizerte... You can finish at the turkish border maybe in four or five months, although, obviously the british would be accepting armistice before that...

And again...

The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ... an_plan%22

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 25 Feb 2022 16:12

Counter wrote:
25 Feb 2022 14:34
Peter89 wrote: there must be an argument why was it possible for Germany to send troops to Italian Lybia or Vichy Levant, not to mention via Franco's neutral Spain. In September 1940, these operations were not possible
Easy: overwhelming Axis aerial superiority at the time (outside English skies...), 200 divisions free to invade whatever (Panzer, vehicles, fuel...), weakness of spanish regime (threatening was enough, not necessary to fight in Spain) and italian ships to transport every required supply from one port to another.

You can start from spanish moroccan port of Melilla, then Oran, then Algiers, then Bone, then Bizerte... You can finish at the turkish border maybe in four or five months, although, obviously the british would be accepting armistice before that...

And again...

The Russian problem will then appear in a different light ... It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north will be necessary
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Rae ... an_plan%22
Again... you don't grasp the situation at hand.

From the German perspective, the war was all but over, and they needed to find a solution, diplomatic or military, to end it, and to bring Britain to the negotiation table.

The Germans offered help for the Italians in Africa as early as August 1940 (so BEFORE Raeder came up with his brilliant idea), see DGFP, Series D, Vol. XI, Doc. #149. But the Italians rebuffed the offer. Thus, when Raeder came up with his brilliant idea, it wasn't that brilliant anymore. The Italians did not want Germany to help to take the Suez Canal in September 1940.

Also regarding Spain, it did not want to join the Axis just like that, but with conditions: conditions that were negotiated on the highest level on 23 October 1940. Well after Raeder made his brilliant plan. And the result was that they did not join the Axis. If Spain was to join the Axis, it would seriously antagonize the Vichy regime, lacking legitimacy already. And without Vichy cooperation, there was exactly zero chance to challenge the British Empire's colonies, ie. the very reason why Spain's Axis membership would be important.

As for Vichy France, the Paris Protocols were not signed before May 1941, thus there was no chance to land troops, aircraft or anything on their territories. You can downplay their importance, but if the Vichy forces that held West Africa, Madagascar and the Levant would join the British, it would free substantial Allied forces and resources for the defense of the Suez base - and not to mention that with those forces the Italians would be swept out of Africa in early 1941.

Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria did not join the Axis in September 1940, but only later on.

Germany could not rule the continent alone, and they realized it to some degree. They could not attack everyone and maintain peace by force.

Besides, there was no 200 divisions, ever, not even for Barbarossa. The German tendency to retain skeleton units and replenish them over time, instead of merging shattered formations together up to strength is misleading when it comes to the number of divisions anyway. Also some divisions were deployable in all kind of tasks, some other were limited in usefulness, and some were essentially a stationary force of overage or half-trained draftees.

Fuel stocks were only growing in those months which saw literally no military actions. See USSBS Oil division final report. Any major action would tap into the already dwindling stocks.

The Luftwaffe was essentially crippled during the Battle of Britain, and let's not assume that it was deployable anywhere at will in Europe or Africa, especially not on the fringes of the continent. What little recuperation it enjoyed, could not make up for the losses and the badly mauled morale. The Luftwaffe's performance in the Eastern Front could not be imagined anywhere, especially not in this region. I suggest you to read operational reports from Iraq / Syria, Crete or in North Africa. The lack of proper air filters, oil and tropical equipment would ground a good portion of the aircrafts without any enemy action.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Counter » 25 Feb 2022 17:05

Peter89 wrote:The Germans offered help for the Italians in Africa as early as August 1940 (so BEFORE Raeder came up with his brilliant idea), see DGFP, Series D, Vol. XI, Doc. #149. But the Italians rebuffed the offer. Thus, when Raeder came up with his brilliant idea, it wasn't that brilliant anymore. The Italians did not want Germany to help to take the Suez Canal in September 1940.
Obviously, because italians thought they could win the Suez Canal alone. As not possible, germans will make it next. What has to do with the Raeder´s idea? Germans or Italians, british had no chance to win if Hitler decided to take that strategy for the period winter 1940/41 (planned in previous months...).
Peter89 wrote:If Spain was to join the Axis, it would seriously antagonize the Vichy regime
Vichy regime had nothing to say: just to try to get better peace conditions from the germans: probably they would join Axis too in order to demonstrate that they would more useful than spanish and saving that way their Empire.
Peter89 wrote: if the Vichy forces that held West Africa, Madagascar and the Levant would join the British, it would free substantial Allied forces and resources for the defense of the Suez base
Do you mean that german elite forces would be afraid of the French colonial troops of Dakar and Madagascar? 8O 8O 8O
Peter89 wrote: there was no 200 divisions
In the winter 1940/41 they would not require 200 divisions to conquer the Mediterranean and finish the war. Nor 50, nor 20... Just calculate what Rommel used in North Africa and add some other necessary elite troops, with Panzer, vehicles and 88-guns...
Peter89 wrote:The Luftwaffe was essentially crippled during the Battle of Britain
Crippled? 8O https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coventry_Blitz

Did they invade Russia in June 1941 with a crippled Luftwaffe?
Peter89 wrote: I suggest you to read operational reports from Iraq / Syria, Crete or in North Africa. The lack of proper air filters, oil and tropical equipment would ground a good portion of the aircrafts without any enemy action.
So, that´s why: the air filters... But the Luftwaffe dominated North Africa as Rommel came in April 1941 with its improvised force just to support italians (air filters notwithstanding). Of course, no more critical resources were sent to Africa as Barbarrosa started.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Peter89 » 25 Feb 2022 17:41

Are you a Wehrmacht fan or something?

Germany could not divert endless forces to Africa because of the weak logistical system. In fact they operated too much units for most of the time (the quality of the equipment could be improved tho).

The Luftwaffe never "dominated" North Africa. You don't seem to grasp the essentials of air supremacy. Tactical air superiority was won from time to time, but it had its ebbs and flows.

Long story short: no extra 10, 20 or 50 divisions could be sustained in NA, and not extra Luftflotten. It was a combined arms operation theater too.

Luftwaffe was critically weak at the end of 1940, and only partially recuperated by the time Barbarossa began. The quality of the pilots was already lower than one year before, and operational circumstances in the MTO were to eat their combat readiness alive.

I leave out the diplomatic part for we have no common ground as you probably never touched DGFP.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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