Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 10:47

Max Payload wrote:As previously indicated, this is itself a topic that has been exhaustively discussed on this forum and elsewhere with no convincing route map to a German victory being advanced.
As previously indicated, I don't find any past discussion of the issue by AHF members convincing. I mean no disrespect by that, I just disagree. The general points contained in your reply are in line with the common AHF view.

...and not that it matters to the truth of the issue, but at least a few members have stated they find my Eastern Front ATL's convincing.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Dec 2020 08:03

Interesting to compare the historical distribution of Soviet resources to that which the Germans expected; German Docs in Russian has this OKW map from January 1941:

Image

OKW saw roughly 2/3's of Soviet warmaking potential being lost if Germany took roughly the A-A line (yellow dotted on the map).

That's an overestimate but it's not off by a tremendous amount. OKW doesn't tabulate population figures, which ended up being the real production bottleneck due to the evacuation of plant and the activation of other natural resource sites (coal in Kuzbas and Karaganda most especially).

On the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks, this is a feasible grand-strategic picture of German victory. Of course as it turned out, Germany probably would have been required to push beyond the A-A line to the Urals in '42 had Ostheer reached the Volga in '41. But that's a relatively easy task once the SU has lost everything west of the Volga.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Max Payload » 21 Dec 2020 12:34

So, a simple 700km advance (Kazan to Magnitogorsk) in 1942 along who knows how long a frontline from starting positions they never came within 700km of reaching in 1941.
As you previously noted, the “common AHF view” is that “the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks” is an unrealistic one.

Interesting map though. Thanks for posting it.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by KDF33 » 21 Dec 2020 19:15

Max Payload wrote:
21 Dec 2020 12:34
“the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks” is an unrealistic one.
I have to say I agree with TMP regarding Germany's ability to defeat the Soviet Union. Even OTL Barbarossa, with its faulty assumptions and lack of force (re)generation, inflicted such crippling blows on the Soviet Union that, when combined with the latter's own significant mistakes, delivered Germany an opening to finish off the Soviets starting from spring 1942.

That Germany failed to seize on that opportunity has more to do with strategic/operational history than with the warring sides' respective economic resources.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 21 Dec 2020 19:58

Max Payload wrote:
21 Dec 2020 12:34
So, a simple 700km advance (Kazan to Magnitogorsk) in 1942 along who knows how long a frontline from starting positions they never came within 700km of reaching in 1941.
As you previously noted, the “common AHF view” is that “the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks” is an unrealistic one.

Interesting map though. Thanks for posting it.
Yes.

You can to find much interesting graphs and charts and texts by okw and okh on Soviet union. Much have mostest accurate datas.

They was have much success on draw and on write.

They not was have much success on military fight for to be victory.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 21 Dec 2020 20:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 Dec 2020 08:03
On the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks, this is a feasible grand-strategic picture of German victory. Of course as it turned out, Germany probably would have been required to push beyond the A-A line to the Urals in '42 had Ostheer reached the Volga in '41. But that's a relatively easy task once the SU has lost everything west of the Volga.
It not be assumption it be tmp imagination story.

On real history okw and okh was have plan and intention on arrive on a-a line.
On real history Germany army was not be close to a-a line.
On real history Germany army was not be close on fulfill military tasks.

How can to be on tmp imaginary story relatively easy task when on real history Germany army was complete fail ?

Germany army was not have relatively easy task on capture Leningrad on capture Moscow on capture Stalingrad on capture Baku when SU has lost everything west of the Leningrad - Rostov line.

Topic be like stg44 topic on Wacht am rhein. Imagination story must to have Germany army super-warriors not real history Germany army.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 21 Dec 2020 20:19

KDF33 wrote:
21 Dec 2020 19:15
Max Payload wrote:
21 Dec 2020 12:34
“the assumption that Ostheer actually fulfills its military tasks” is an unrealistic one.
I have to say I agree with TMP regarding Germany's ability to defeat the Soviet Union. Even OTL Barbarossa, with its faulty assumptions and lack of force (re)generation, inflicted such crippling blows on the Soviet Union that, when combined with the latter's own significant mistakes, delivered Germany an opening to finish off the Soviets starting from spring 1942.

That Germany failed to seize on that opportunity has more to do with strategic/operational history than with the warring sides' respective economic resources.
Ok.

You think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is kdf33 opinion.

I not think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is my opinion.

On real history Germany army was try for to finish off the Soviets on 1942.year. They was have complete failure again.

I agree on kdf33 final point. Failure on win Soviet union was not be on topic economic resources.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by KDF33 » 21 Dec 2020 20:39

Ружичасти Слон wrote:
21 Dec 2020 20:19
Ok.

You think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is kdf33 opinion.

I not think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is my opinion.

On real history Germany army was try for to finish off the Soviets on 1942.year. They was have complete failure again.

I agree on kdf33 final point. Failure on win Soviet union was not be on topic economic resources.
Historically the Germans certainly failed to defeat the Soviet Union. I would argue, however, that this represents historical contingency rather than determinism.

In my opinion, the biggest reason for Germany's failure in 1942 was betting everything on a single long-ranged operation, namely Fall Blau, under the assumption that it would achieve immediate decisive results and finally break Soviet resistance. When it didn't, Germany found its offensive strength dissipated along an extending front, which in turn allowed the Soviets to concentrate their reserves directly in front of the (already diminished) German Schwerpunkt.

As the operational tempo of the summer receded into the autumn, the Soviets could replenish their formations and begin planning their next offensive phase. Germany's peculiar situation on the Don, anchored by Axis formations lacking in reserves and viable anti-tank elements, then afforded the Soviets their first real opportunity to inflict a consequential defeat on Germany.

It is noteworthy that the Soviet offensives launched against HG Nord and Mitte in the winter of 1942-3 were both costly failures, on par with the previous winter or the summer of 1942. This speaks to the extreme difficulty encountered by the Soviets in breaking the German front, irrespective of their favorable force ratio.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Dec 2020 00:34

KDF33 wrote:Historically the Germans certainly failed to defeat the Soviet Union. I would argue, however, that this represents historical contingency rather than determinism.
Definitely agree; I argue the Germans should have won based on the economic and military fundamentals. They lost because they didn't take the SU seriously, assuming political disintegration after a few hard knocks. Most egregiously, the military figures (most prominently Halder) who in other contexts moved Hitler with fact-based analytical reasoning (e.g. 1939 invasion of France) were at least as committed to assuming that political disintegration would obviate longer-term military obstacles that they otherwise would and could have solved.
KDF33 wrote:In my opinion, the biggest reason for Germany's failure in 1942 was betting everything on a single long-ranged operation
Have you laid out a counterfactual in which a different 1942 plan results in German victory? My read is that 1942 is too late; plans needed to be changed in 41 or even 40. Most recent expostulation here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557

Agreed that Blau aimed too deep, poor flank protection, etc. Arguably feasible alternatives include (1) shallower Blau, (2) Taifun II.

Re (1) the force ratio balance doesn't seem much changed in '43 if Germany, for instance, stops at the Don. Ostheer loses fewer men but SU retains Kuban et. al., which has serious production and manpower implications. Soviet territorial losses in '42 bit hard. In Barbarossa SU lost ~60mil to occupation and ~6mil on the battlefield; in Blau the occupation/battle balance was weighted further towards the former. Difficult to see a feasible outcome worse for SU than Blau's territorial losses.

Re (2) I'd like to see a decent treatment.
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Max Payload » 22 Dec 2020 00:51

KDF33 wrote:
21 Dec 2020 19:15
Even OTL Barbarossa, with its faulty assumptions and lack of force (re)generation, inflicted such crippling blows on the Soviet Union that, when combined with the latter's own significant mistakes, delivered Germany an opening to finish off the Soviets starting from spring 1942.
With what resources? In April the Ostheer was still recovering from the effects of the Soviet winter offensives and ground conditions were generally unfavourable for deep offensive operations. By May the Red Army was being adequately supplied with weapons and supplies, and was approaching a manpower advantage over the Ostheer of 3:2. Stavka and the frontline commanders were still capable of making costly mistakes, but the more capable commanders were being identified and promoted.

KDF33 wrote:
21 Dec 2020 20:39
In my opinion, the biggest reason for Germany's failure in 1942 was betting everything on a single long-ranged operation, namely Fall Blau, under the assumption that it would achieve immediate decisive results and finally break Soviet resistance.
What was the alternative? Another offensive on the Moscow axis?
That was what Stavka was expecting and where it had placed it’s reserves, that being a contributing factor to the early success of Blau.

KDF33 wrote:
21 Dec 2020 20:39
It is noteworthy that the Soviet offensives launched against HG Nord and Mitte in the winter of 1942-3 were both costly failures, on par with the previous winter or the summer of 1942.
Noteworthy perhaps (and the 1941/42 winter offensive against AGC can hardly be described as a costly failure) but Germany was not going to defeat the Soviet Union by thwarting Red Army offensives.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by KDF33 » 22 Dec 2020 02:05

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 00:34
Definitely agree; I argue the Germans should have won based on the economic and military fundamentals. They lost because they didn't take the SU seriously, assuming political disintegration after a few hard knocks. Most egregiously, the military figures (most prominently Halder) who in other contexts moved Hitler with fact-based analytical reasoning (e.g. 1939 invasion of France) were at least as committed to assuming that political disintegration would obviate longer-term military obstacles that they otherwise would and could have solved.
Although I agree that Barbarossa didn't doom Germany, I would argue that the economic and military fundamentals were significantly less favorable to Germany than you assume, at least until the summer - autumn 1941 and winter 1941-2 campaigns hollowed out the USSR. Barbarossa could have attained a far worse outcome than it did for Germany, had the USSR played its cards better in those first 10 months.

I believe the 1941-2 timeframe was highly fluid, and that both Germany and the USSR had opportunities to either win the war in the East (for Germany) or win the war on a better/earlier timetable (for the USSR).
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 00:34
Have you laid out a counterfactual in which a different 1942 plan results in German victory? My read is that 1942 is too late; plans needed to be changed in 41 or even 40. Most recent expostulation here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557

Agreed that Blau aimed too deep, poor flank protection, etc. Arguably feasible alternatives include (1) shallower Blau, (2) Taifun II.

Re (1) the force ratio balance doesn't seem much changed in '43 if Germany, for instance, stops at the Don. Ostheer loses fewer men but SU retains Kuban et. al., which has serious production and manpower implications. Soviet territorial losses in '42 bit hard. In Barbarossa SU lost ~60mil to occupation and ~6mil on the battlefield; in Blau the occupation/battle balance was weighted further towards the former. Difficult to see a feasible outcome worse for SU than Blau's territorial losses.

Re (2) I'd like to see a decent treatment.
I would start by entirely scrapping the concept of a general offensive in a specific direction, and instead opt to destroy entire Soviet Fronts or sub-Front groupings of Armies holding the line. Incidentally, this is what the Germans did between May and July, which is when they attained their main victories in 1942 and inflicted the most disproportionate casualties in relation to their own losses.

To give an exhaustive list: the Crimea and the Kharkov counterstroke in May; Sevastopol, the Volkhov pocket and Heeresgruppe Süd's sub-offensives in June; and finally, Blau's opening phase and 9. Armee's Operation Seydlitz in July. In just three months, these various offensives delivered a prisoner yield approaching the million-mark.

The Soviets were incapable of absorbing such losses. Between 1.5.1942 and 1.8.1942, the strength of the Red Army fell from 11,218,122 to 10,401,553 men, a reduction of 816,569, or 7% of their total strength. The only reason why they more-or-less maintained their strength in-theater over the summer is because they allocated the entirety of their 10 reserve armies, as well as miscellaneous units drawn from other areas, including inactive Caucasus districts and the Fronts facing Japan.

There were more targets of opportunity to pursue over the summer. Finishing off Leningrad would remove close to half-a-million Soviet troops, as would closing the Toropets bulge. A well-resourced effort against the Sukhinichi "salient", unlike the limited effort of Wirbelwind, was another option to bag a large prisoner haul.

Those operations, as well as every fruitless Soviet offensive, would contribute to shift the force ratio in favor of the Axis. Each successful operation would also release previously tied-up German formations, either to form reserves or to add to the next Schwerpunkt. Eventually, it would become feasible to restart the general offensive, and thus attain results similar to those you have outlined in this thread.
Max Payload wrote:
22 Dec 2020 00:51
With what resources? In April the Ostheer was still recovering from the effects of the Soviet winter offensives and ground conditions were generally unfavourable for deep offensive operations. By May the Red Army was being adequately supplied with weapons and supplies, and was approaching a manpower advantage over the Ostheer of 3:2. Stavka and the frontline commanders were still capable of making costly mistakes, but the more capable commanders were being identified and promoted.
As mentioned above, with the ressources they historically had in 1942, with which they attained just such results between May and July.
Max Payload wrote:
22 Dec 2020 00:51
What was the alternative? Another offensive on the Moscow axis?
That was what Stavka was expecting and where it had placed it’s reserves, that being a contributing factor to the early success of Blau.
As mentioned above, in response to TMP. I would add that it is a myth that Stalin had concentrated reserves away from the area hit by Fall Blau. We have the OOB of the Red Army for July 1st, and it shows:

Kalinin Front/Western Front/Moscow DZ: 1,830,980 men, 18,606 guns and heavy mortars, 2,418 tanks
Bryansk Front/South-Western Front/Southern Front: 1,715,165 men, 17,428 guns and heavy mortars, 2,298 tanks


Overall figures for the entire Eastern Front, on the basis of which those shares have been calculated, come from Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis, p2, by Zetterling and Frankson.

It is true that the STAVKA anticipated an attack against Moscow, but the southern anchor of their defensive system was the Bryansk Front. It is where they concentrated 7 of their 17 active tank corps, a further 4 being allocated to the South-Western Front. These substantial forces, as well as additional tank formations held in STAVKA reserve, were mauled by the Germans in the opening phase of Fall Blau on the Voronezh direction.
Max Payload wrote:
22 Dec 2020 00:51
Noteworthy perhaps (and the 1941/42 winter offensive against AGC can hardly be described as a costly failure) but Germany was not going to defeat the Soviet Union by thwarting Red Army offensives.
Inasmuch as thwarting Red Army offensives attrited the Soviets, it would play a part in defeating the USSR. As for the winter campaign of 1941-2, I would refer you to this book by David Stahel. The Soviets would have been in a far better position, come spring, had they suspended all offensive operations in early January. Indeed, the winter offensive of early 1942 must rank as one of Stalin's seminal mistakes of WW2.

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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Dec 2020 05:31

KDF33 wrote:Although I agree that Barbarossa didn't doom Germany, I would argue that the economic and military fundamentals were significantly less favorable to Germany than you assume, at least until the summer - autumn 1941 and winter 1941-2 campaigns hollowed out the USSR. Barbarossa could have attained a far worse outcome than it did for Germany, had the USSR played its cards better in those first 10 months.

I believe the 1941-2 timeframe was highly fluid, and that both Germany and the USSR had opportunities to either win the war in the East (for Germany) or win the war on a better/earlier timetable (for the USSR).
I agree that there was immense potential for fluidity at the highest level of abstraction - holding variable elements like military doctrine, leadership strategy, initial force deployments, and strategic posture. As the scope of our assumptions isn't clear, however, the scope of feasible fluidity likely depends on what we mean by military fundamentals.

I take as fundamental a '41 German ability to encircle any Soviet forces facing double envelopment by two panzer armies. This was fundamental German/Prussian doctrine for over a century, updated after WW1 by Seekt et. al. to mechanized conditions. Absent some infeasible counterfactual about perfect intelligence and Kursk-like field defenses, '41 RKKA couldn't stop a panzer penetration and its units lacked the mobility to escape encirclement even were the directive to retreat with all possible speed. So IMO it's a military fundamental that some large portion of units that stand and fight in '41 will be encircled.

Again depending on the level at which we specify military fundamentals, that means RKKA loses territory as well as a significant portion of its deployed forces. If we don't hold as fundamental Soviet doctrine to carry the battle into enemy territory per the '41 plan - if they instead hold the frontier with minimal screening forces and deploy in depth - then they "just" lose territory plus those minimal forces.

In either case, I don't find it feasible - taking the foregoing as fundamental - that the SU escapes the initial onslaught without losing a large portion of its economic/demographic/agricultural base and probably a good portion of field forces as well. My evaluation that the fundamentals favor Germany takes for granted at least those territorial losses, which shift the economic and warmaking-potential balance dramatically in her favor, IMO. Obviously it's not a decisive advantage as Germany could still forfeit the advantage by, for example, having a fatuous strategic concept that minimized deep rail logistics and cut army production at the start of the campaign.

If we hold strategic posture variable - if we allow the SU be as fully mobilized as Germany in 1941 - then another dimension of fluidity opens up and Germany is far less favored, arguably the underdog.

I've argued elsewhere that counterfactual contingency could have shifted the war dramatically in Soviet favor elsewhere - for example if Rasputitsa came a few days earlier in '41 and prevented the Vyazma/Bryansk encirclements. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=248856&hilit=rasputitsa
KDF33 wrote:I would start by entirely scrapping the concept of a general offensive in a specific direction, and instead opt to destroy entire Soviet Fronts or sub-Front groupings of Armies holding the line.
This is an interesting idea, a version of which I forgot advocating before. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=246246&start=15#p2246754

Instead of saying that I find a decent German outcome infeasible after 1941, I should say I don't see a clear path to such an outcome. There are interesting questions to raise though, along the lines of your ideas.

The conundrum, IMO, is that Germany rarely succeeded in planned annihilation battles unless it used two strong mechanized encircling prongs or had a geographical feature that effectively formed the second encircling prong (e.g. English Channel, Sea of Azov). Uman is the biggest single-envelopment success, which took far too long (per original plan) and bagged only a fraction of Soviet forces in Ukraine. Blau I seems to have failed to bag many Soviets largely because its mobile pincers were too thin - owing to using only one panzer army while another awaited Blau II. In '42 Germany struggled to bring two panzer armies up to good strength, which would imply it can only do one annihilation battle at a time and then would need to move forces across its front for the next battle.

My linked post suggests using both of AGS's panzer armies in Blau 1 then transferring forces to address various other salients along the front (Blau II's territorial gains in Eastern Ukraine would likely have flowed - albeit more slowly - from a Blau 1 that permanently removed the opposing Soviet assets). Of course the Leningrad operation needs only one mobile pincer; I agree that should have been a centerpiece of an optimal German '42 strategy.
KDF33 wrote:Inasmuch as thwarting Red Army offensives attrited the Soviets, it would play a part in defeating the USSR.
Agreed that it could but still looking for that end-state narrative; open to being convinced.

One possibility is Germany holding enough good cropland to push the Soviets from mild starvation in '43 into widespread famine; I've discussed Soviet starvation-induced mortality here: viewtopic.php?f=76&t=246246&start=105#p2248718 (and ensuing posts though the discussion got predictably messy due to nationalist feelings). The '43 starvation conditions owed, however, at least in part to Germany taking the Kuban in latter Blau stages, something that's hard to see happening as part of the alternate strategy we're discussing. Depending on how things play out, I could see Kuban being taken in '43 and famine occurring in '44 but then the W.Allies are ready to land and Germany could be cooked even if the SU dramatically weakens.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by KDF33 » 22 Dec 2020 07:10

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
I agree that there was immense potential for fluidity at the highest level of abstraction - holding variable elements like military doctrine, leadership strategy, initial force deployments, and strategic posture. As the scope of our assumptions isn't clear, however, the scope of feasible fluidity likely depends on what we mean by military fundamentals.
In this specific instance, I was referring to Barbarossa as it happened. Beyond the initial border battles, which I agree would likely have played out the same, irrespective of how the Soviets reacted on the first day of war, I feel that the rest of the German campaign was enormously facilitated by the Soviet strategy of holding all ground at all cost, and constantly counterattacking. In particular, I fault the Soviets for two major decisions:

1. Not evacuating the Kiev salient, at a time when the force ratio was moving in favor of the Soviets, which led to the largest encirclement of the war and paved the way for Taifun, thus breathing fresh life into the German advance;
2. Launching a generalized winter counteroffensive in January 1942, at a time when the residual German offensive capability was virtually nonexistent, thus wasting an opportunity to consolidate and achieve such a lopsided force ratio in the spring as to render infeasible a renewed German offensive.

I am more tolerant of the first mistake, Kiev, given the confused nature of the early months of the war and the desire to retain significant population and production centers. The second mistake, the generalized winter offensive, is however inexcusable and must rank alongside Fall Blau as one of the most needlessly self-destructive campaigns of the war. Stalin effectively handed back the initiative to Germany, opened himself up to mortal danger in the spring and early summer, and ultimately set back the timetable for the liberation of the Western Soviet Union to the late summer of 1943.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
[...]

having a fatuous strategic concept that minimized deep rail logistics and cut army production at the start of the campaign.

[...]
Agreed. Treating the invasion and dismemberment of the Soviet Union as merely a preamble to the "big war" with the Anglo-Americans was a fantasy of the highest order. Given the strategic circumstances of 1940-1, I still believe Hitler had no better option, but Barbarossa should definitely have been planned from the get-go as an all-out war to the death, not as a "campaign".
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
I've argued elsewhere that counterfactual contingency could have shifted the war dramatically in Soviet favor elsewhere - for example if Rasputitsa came a few days earlier in '41 and prevented the Vyazma/Bryansk encirclements. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=248856&hilit=rasputitsa
Interesting possibility. More generally, the Germans needed to inflict massive, annihilating defeats every month on the Soviets to prevent their massive mobilization swinging the force ratio enough so as to forestall further German success. It so happened that this historically happened in November, thus paving the way for the Soviet seizure of the initiative the next month.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
[...]

The conundrum, IMO, is that Germany rarely succeeded in planned annihilation battles unless it used two strong mechanized encircling prongs or had a geographical feature that effectively formed the second encircling prong (e.g. English Channel, Sea of Azov). Uman is the biggest single-envelopment success, which took far too long (per original plan) and bagged only a fraction of Soviet forces in Ukraine. Blau I seems to have failed to bag many Soviets largely because its mobile pincers were too thin - owing to using only one panzer army while another awaited Blau II. In '42 Germany struggled to bring two panzer armies up to good strength, which would imply it can only do one annihilation battle at a time and then would need to move forces across its front for the next battle.
Blau is vastly underrated in terms of the damage it inflicted on the Soviet formations facing the offensive. Putting aside Sevastopol, July saw Army Groups A and B bag 326,491 POWs, at a cost of only 53,791 combat casualties.

If we look at Soviet data for what they call the "Voronezh-Voroshilovgrad Defensive Operation", the extent of the German victory is even more apparent. The Soviets lost 568,347 men, of which 370,522 were irrecoverable losses. The relevant German formations from 1-31 July lost in turn 45,201 men, of which 10,121 KIA/MIA. That's a 12.6-to-1 loss ratio. Even if we account for the limited non-combat and air/naval losses included in the Soviet figures, we are still looking at upward of a 10-to-1 ratio!

Those kinds of losses in 1942 were simply unsustainable for the Soviets. And as you mentioned, Blau didn't even benefit from facilitating terrain, as would have Leningrad, Toropets, etc.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
Agreed that it could but still looking for that end-state narrative; open to being convinced.
As I see it, the defining features of Eastern Front combat in 1942 were, at the operational level:

1. Whenever the Germans attack in force with strong mobile formations, they inflict disproportionate casualties (roughly 10-to-1 ratio), of which a majority is constituted of prisoners, and thus drain Soviet manpower permanently.

2. Whenever the Soviets attack in force, they (1) fail to break the German front at an operational level and, (2) take disproportionate casualties on the order of 5-to-1. This is true even though the Soviets generally have a 2-to-1 superiority in manpower in the general area of their offensive operations, and more at the selected points of main effort.

Combined, the Germans can simply parry Soviet thrusts (which slowly bleeds them), and concentrate their own forces on a limited number of sequenced Schwerpunkten (which tears gaps in their OOB). By targeting salients and reducing the frontage, the Germans free up troops, which both reinforces their own line and facilitates further offensive action. The reduced frontage doesn't help the Soviets, however, given that their overall force level contracts under each successive blow. Eventually the lines intersect, and the Germans can renew a general offensive à la 1941, this time destroying the Red Army and occupying the important areas left to the Soviets.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Dec 2020 05:31
One possibility is Germany holding enough good cropland to push the Soviets from mild starvation in '43 into widespread famine; I've discussed Soviet starvation-induced mortality here: viewtopic.php?f=76&t=246246&start=105#p2248718 (and ensuing posts though the discussion got predictably messy due to nationalist feelings). The '43 starvation conditions owed, however, at least in part to Germany taking the Kuban in latter Blau stages, something that's hard to see happening as part of the alternate strategy we're discussing. Depending on how things play out, I could see Kuban being taken in '43 and famine occurring in '44 but then the W.Allies are ready to land and Germany could be cooked even if the SU dramatically weakens.
I don't think that's necessary. Too much emphasis is put on depriving the Soviets of resources to then be able to defeat them. The solution has long struck me as being the other way around: defeating the Soviets is the precondition to seize their resources. The typical counterargument is that the Germans tried it in 1941, on a larger scale than in 1942, and that it failed. This omits that, in 1941, the Soviets were still mobilizing. This is no longer true in 1942, and therefore the "slack" left to them to reconstitute their Armed Forces after each successive disaster is far more limited.

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Dec 2020 12:15

KDF33 wrote:I fault the Soviets for two major decisions:

1. Not evacuating the Kiev salient
Agreed. From the fundamentals I referenced earlier, however, I see a German strategic error in the existence of a strong Southwest Front in August '41: Germany could have and should have launched Barbarossa with sufficiently strong forces to have destroyed SWF in June/July (i.e. a minimal additional panzer group).
KDF33 wrote:I am more tolerant of the first mistake, Kiev, given the confused nature of the early months of the war and the desire to retain significant population and production centers.
Given the lack of mobility in SWF's units, I wonder how much better a withdrawal would have gone. They probably would have had to abandon much heavy equipment at the start of the march as they were lacking even adequate horses.
KDF33 wrote:Launching a generalized winter counteroffensive in January 1942, at a time when the residual German offensive capability was virtually nonexistent, thus wasting an opportunity to consolidate and achieve such a lopsided force ratio in the spring as to render infeasible a renewed German offensive.
I agree this was a mistake but I'll qualify agreement below. Basically I don't think the RKKA could have supported, say, a 50% larger force by adding back in all casualties foregone by a "no general offensive" counterfactual.
KDF33 wrote:Blau is vastly underrated in terms of the damage it inflicted on the Soviet formations facing the offensive. Putting aside Sevastopol, July saw Army Groups A and B bag 326,491 POWs, at a cost of only 53,791 combat casualties.
Obviously Blau was a great victory but to beat the SU Germany needed world-historical victories like Kiev and Vyazma. Blau 1 was intended to be such a victory - Hitler and OKH were concerned about the relative lack of PoW's - so only by that unique standard does it come up short.

Re 326k PoW's in July, note that Ostheer captured ~1mil tactically (i.e. aside from the big operational pockets) during the ~100 days of offensive Barbarossa campaigning - about 10,000 tactical PoW's/day. Per a TDI study [url]https://apps.dtic.mil/st ... 401064.pdf[/url] on capture rates, the % of enemy forces captured is strongly correlated with the attacker's level of tactical success ranging from "pushed back" through "penetrated" to "enveloped." Blau's tactical outcomes during July certainly exceeded the average daily advance rates of the broad Barbarossa period so we'd expect its tactical capture rate to be higher. Blau faced fewer RKKA than did Barbarossa broadly (~1.8mil vs. ~3mil +/-) but given the level of tactical success we'd expect something approaching 10k PoW daily outside of operational encirclements.

So AG's South/A/B didn't capture many more men in July than would be expected in the normal course of overrunning RKKA units in non-encirclement conditions. Plus 326k PoW's is a fairly small percentage of forces engaged during July 42 (maybe 25% depending on who we consider engaged). Contrast that with Minsk, Vyazma, or Kiev where up to 80% of opposing forces were wiped out in a few weeks. Given those observations and the disappointment expressed by Hitler et. al. regarding PoW hauls, I still see Blau 1&2 as failures, albeit some of the most stunning failures in military history.
KDF33 wrote:More generally, the Germans needed to inflict massive, annihilating defeats every month on the Soviets to prevent their massive mobilization swinging the force ratio enough so as to forestall further German success
KDF33 wrote:Too much emphasis is put on depriving the Soviets of resources to then be able to defeat them. The solution has long struck me as being the other way around: defeating the Soviets is the precondition to seize their resources.
I favor the opposite emphasis - that taking underlying Soviet warmaking potential is the proper focus and battlefield victories/annihilation only a means. But my disagreement may be functionally minor, solely rhetorical, as it probably cashes out in the same operational outlook. First let me justify my preferred emphasis:
  • SU lost in Barbarossa ~60mil to occupation and ~6mil on the battlefield.
  • Maximum RKKA field strength was functionally limited by logistics capability, production flow, and food supply. It was, therefore, directly related (within some band of variation) to SU's underlying demographics and economics.
  • Under this model, loss of territory did far more to weaken RKKA than did battlefield losses.
I see your emphasis on continual destruction of RKKA as mandating repeated world-historical military feats to forestall RKKA from reaching its potential. By contrast, an emphasis on destroying RKKA potential means that the German army can slip up here and there after a well-executed initial land grab.

Consider, for instance, Germany holding a line roughly Leningrad-Vladimir-Voronezh-Don-Rostov. Between that line and the OTL winter 41-42 line reside, by my reckoning, at least 40mil people (22mil in Moscow-Gorkiy, 15mil in Eastern Ukraine, 5mil in Rostov/Don-bend etc). Taking early '42 Soviet population as 130mil and assuming 20% evacuation, holding the deeper line over the winter reduces Soviet population by ~25% (-32/130). One way or another that has to cash out in ~25% lower Soviet production - there wasn't any slack in the '42 Soviet economy. With 25% lower production, RKKA has to shrink roughly accordingly to maintain even its poor early '42 material standards. 25% would remove ~2.4mil from the RKKA's '42 roles. Retaining 2.4mil more men to maintain OTL RKKA strength would have serious consequences:

Image

You can't cut food supply so the men have to come from the non-ag ("public") sector. With 25% lower overall population that sector is now 13.8mil men; losing another 2.4mil gives 11.4mil or 62% of OTL '42 workforce. So if the smaller counterfactual '42 SU wants to keep as many men in arms as in OTL, they get 62% of the weapons, supplies, transport, etc. Seems an obvious non-starter on transport and supplies alone, the army has to shrink.

It's at base a pretty simple idea: make the SU a smaller country; smaller countries have smaller armies.

If, by contrast, the Germans sit at roughly the same strategic line and the leave the SU roughly the same size, they have to kill/capture those 2.4mil men repeatedly (slightly smaller replacement generation because losing 2.4mil isn't insignificant). Seems much easier to prevent generation/replacement of armies than to defeat them repeatedly.
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The reason we probably don't disagree much functionally is that the means of conquering Soviet territory is to annihilate the guys trying to stop the Germans. While I believe demographics/economics sets a hard limit on total RKKA size, its proportion of field vs. replacement/training army varied with casualties. In '41 there were always more men in internal military districts than with operating fronts, by early '42 that was no longer true. Killing/capturing more of the field army forces SU to maintain a larger training inventory, which makes the Ostheer's landgrabs easier (which shrinks total RKKA size, which...).

But as our discussion about '42 strategy shows, there's still some potential differences. It's why I don't underestimate the value to Germany of taking/ruining Stalingrad and the Kuban in Blau. While Germany might have killed/captured more RKKA in '42 with our alternate strategies, how many more soldiers appear from the Blaulands by early '43, how many more T-34's, shells, etc. are in Soviet hands if the Germans never take those areas? How many fewer Soviet skilled workers don't die at work due to the greater agricultural production?

I don't have sufficient hard data to answer these questions but the effects seem on the order of magnitude of, say, a Vyazma catastrophe.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Ружичасти Слон
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Re: Vulnerability of Soviet population, agriculture, and industry to German occupation

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 22 Dec 2020 15:23

KDF33 wrote:
21 Dec 2020 20:39
Ружичасти Слон wrote:
21 Dec 2020 20:19
Ok.

You think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is kdf33 opinion.

I not think complete failure on fulfills its military tasks on barbarossa on 1941.year can to mean opening to finish off the Soviets. It is my opinion.

On real history Germany army was try for to finish off the Soviets on 1942.year. They was have complete failure again.

I agree on kdf33 final point. Failure on win Soviet union was not be on topic economic resources.
Historically the Germans certainly failed to defeat the Soviet Union. I would argue, however, that this represents historical contingency rather than determinism.
I think i was not understand exact what you was write. But i can to try for to respond.

On real history Nazi Germany was not win war on Soviet union.
On real history Nazi Germany was not be close for to win war on Soviet union.

But that not mean it was be impossible for Nazi Germany win war on Soviet union.

Real history is list on decisions and events what was happen on real life on past times. When was can change some decision can for to be different result.

Example. On imagination story Stalin was be scared person and when Nazi Germany was attack Soviet union he was decide very quick for to surrender.

On one very simple change on decision on Soviet side can for to make big change on result.

But when everything on Soviet side was stay same as was be on real history must for to be much big change on Nazi Germany side for to make change on result.

On my opinion Nazi Germany was not have capacity for to make change so big for to change result.

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