If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalemate?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Peter89
Member
Posts: 2143
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2021 16:00

Gooner1 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 12:28
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 10:59
The Germans could easily buy that "extra six months" simply by pulling back in time. In fact, Germany could buy an extra year or more if they pulled back in early 1942. The Allies simply did not have sufficient men and matériel before 1943.
But then they would land in France.
I am not sure if that was possible or would yield good results before 1943. Especially without much of the drain in the Mediterraneum.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

Gooner1
Member
Posts: 2670
Joined: 06 Jan 2006 12:24
Location: London

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Gooner1 » 16 Nov 2021 17:44

Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 16:00
I am not sure if that was possible or would yield good results before 1943. Especially without much of the drain in the Mediterraneum.
No, not before 1943. Without much of an Allied drain in the Mediterrean I don't think the calls for a 1943 invasion of France can be resisted by the British.
The Germans gain a panzer corps and an air corps in Russia for 1942 but lose an Allied army. For early '43 the Germans gain the equivalent of an army I guess.

Peter89
Member
Posts: 2143
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2021 18:08

Gooner1 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 17:44
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 16:00
I am not sure if that was possible or would yield good results before 1943. Especially without much of the drain in the Mediterraneum.
No, not before 1943. Without much of an Allied drain in the Mediterrean I don't think the calls for a 1943 invasion of France can be resisted by the British.
The Germans gain a panzer corps and an air corps in Russia for 1942 but lose an Allied army. For early '43 the Germans gain the equivalent of an army I guess.
I think so too. But it is very hard to tell. There were also the best Italian divisions. And that is before the Tunisia madness - that was well above an army's worth of men and matériel.

It is problematic to see what did the Axis lose in Africa, because the long lines of communications ate up disproportionate amounts of stuff. The air units were joggled with all the time. Vehicle MRO system broke down and forced the repair crews to cannibalize. Etc.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

KDF33
Member
Posts: 1141
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 16 Nov 2021 21:42

Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
Let's not forget that their summer campaign in 1942, although impressive territorially, was basically against very weak Soviet forces.
I often read this. It is a prevalent view but it isn't borne by the facts: the forces arrayed against Blau were massive and included the majority of the Soviet tank corps: 14 out of 22 were directly engaged, and a further 2 out of 8 were used in diversionary attacks against 2. Panzerarmee to help Soviet forces in the path of the German offensive.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
The Wehrmacht simply did not have the means to do this
Why not? In OTL, the Wehrmacht reached Stalingrad as well as the outskirts of Tuapse and Grozny. What I suggest is a far more limited series of advances, advances that the Soviets can only resist with a further 6 tank corps and the rifle divisions aggregated into Reserve Armies.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
and it was in need of recuperation and reinforcements.
Correct in some absolute sense, but what ultimately matters is the balance between the Axis and the Soviets at the front, not notional establishment readiness and force levels.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
Also, retaining the Demyansk pocket made no sense.
Retaining it for its own sake? Agreed, it made absolutely no sense. Retaining it to bag the Soviets inside the Toropets bulge? I'd keep it and use it.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
? What are you arguing with exactly?
I disagree with (1) the idea that the Soviets had greater offensive capabilities than the Axis in summer 1942 and (2) the statement that the Soviets were able to "start offensives everywhere" in the area of HGN/M.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
In other words, both the AGN and the AGM was under attack on the army group level both in the august and in november.
"Army Group" is an exaggeration. The Soviets were capable of multi-armies offensives in the summer of 1942, but not of generalized offensives involving multiple Fronts, like they later did in 1943.

Most of their offensives in the summer were relatively small-scale, brief affairs: the three offensives of Northwestern Front lasted respectively 8, 15 and 14 days. Zhukov's diversionary attack below Sukhinichi in July lasted a mere 8 days. The counter-offensive against Germany's Wirbelwind lasted 19 days.

The Soviets launched only two major offensives in the summer: Rzhev-Sychyovka and Sinyavino. Krivosheev provides strength figures:

1. Rzhev-Sychyovka: 345,100 men in 4 armies
2. Sinyavino: 190,000 men in 3 armies and 1 operational group

Roughly one week after Rzhev-Sychyovka began, a further 2 armies joined in and attacked 3. Panzerarmee to the south of 9. Armee. So make it, say, half-a-million men total.

Compare to the forces Germany allocated to Blau in July:

2. Armee: 280,482
4. Panzerarmee: 85,643
6. Armee: 317,896
1. Panzerarmee: 226,688
17. Armee: 135,504

Total: 1,046,213, plus hundreds of thousands of additional Axis minor troops (source)
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
The reason why Soviet success came in the south is the AGS overextended and indefensible position.
Agreed. Which is part of my argument: under "normal" circumstances, the Soviets were incapable of breaking the German line at the operational level.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
I disagree with your final assessment, mostly because it is not reflected in facts. The Soviets usually attacked on multiple sectors at once to saturate the defenses and divide reinforcements and mobile reserves.

In the summer there were:
First Rhzev-Sychovka offensive operation july 30
Third Sinyavino offensive operation august 19

In the winter there were:
Operation Uranus november 19
Operation Mars november 25 (including Velikiye Luki encirclement)
Operation Iskra january 12

Each of the winter operations involved over 20 divisions.
Yes, and the only one of them to break the German line to operational depths was Uran, which, as you mentioned yourself, was due to HGS (B) being in an "overextended and indefensible position".

Ergo, my claim that save for special circumstances, the Soviets were incapable of breaking the German line beyond the tactical level.

History Learner
Member
Posts: 407
Joined: 19 Jan 2019 09:39
Location: United States

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by History Learner » 17 Nov 2021 05:23

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Snip ROUNDUP
Just to be clear, you're presuming the ATL Operation Roundup would be ready by around June of 1943, or would it be later/earlier? I have some sources I can add on this, but I want to be sure I'm understanding what your argument is; at first I thought you were assuming an emergency landing in the dead of winter with OTL Torch forces.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Nov 2021 07:01

History Learner wrote:
17 Nov 2021 05:23
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Snip ROUNDUP
Just to be clear, you're presuming the ATL Operation Roundup would be ready by around June of 1943, or would it be later/earlier? I have some sources I can add on this, but I want to be sure I'm understanding what your argument is; at first I thought you were assuming an emergency landing in the dead of winter with OTL Torch forces.
Yes, ~June 1943.

And to be clear it's based on a complete reordering of American plans and priorities - totally abandoning all offensive effort against Japan and maintaining high landing craft production (instead of cutting it in late 1942) at the cost of other programs.

KDF's additional details have assuaged this concern. But re Torch I'd say that if Axis immediately evacuates North Africa it makes Emergency Roundup much more likely.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

KDF33
Member
Posts: 1141
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 17 Nov 2021 07:22

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:01
Looking farther ahead - no need to answer now - I'd wonder about dealing with the Western Allies. Here let's assume Ostheer doesn't trigger emergency Roundup and everything goes as in OTL in the Med (subject of course to KDF33's revisions on points I'm not foreseeing).
Well, to briefly touch upon the other theaters:

The "Western Desert":

1. Rommel wins at Gazala and takes Tobruk, then stops. His mission is to guard the Libya/Egypt border for the foreseeable future. If he moves further on his own initiative, he is relieved.
2. Herkules proceeds in summer 1942 and takes Malta.
3. In the context of a static frontline, William Gott presumably doesn't get shot down and has command of 8th Army instead of Montgomery. Churchill probably presses him to attack, and the general offensive that historically happened in October at El Alamein happens at the border somewhat earlier... Or maybe Rommel (or his successor if he is relieved) launches a spoiling attack to try degrading Commonwealth forces, without seizing new ground permanently. By the time Torch happens, IMO it's a toss-up whether or not the Axis position in the "Western Desert" is broken.

Torch and the Mediterranean:

1. The response to Torch should be all about the Italians. The Axis position in North Africa, given how the war is progressing by late 1942, is simply untenable in the medium term... But also not really essential, unless its loss contributes to the fall of Mussolini and the exit of Italy as Germany's main partner in (war) crime.
2. Thus, host another summit with Mussolini. Provide details about oncoming operations against Russia in the winter, as well as the prospects for a decisive annihilation battle the next spring. State unequivocally that defending a bridgehead in North Africa is hopeless and wasteful, and that what matters is to fortify the Mediterranean position, inclusive of the island line Corsica - Sardinia - Pantelleria - Sicily - Malta, until the incipient elimination of the USSR as a factor allows the focus to shift back against the Anglo-Americans.
3. Jointly with the Italians, establish a minimal screening force in Tunisia to prevent the Allies from moving in from the West too quickly. Surge Luftwaffe assets to Malta, but only engage Allied air assets on your terms. The 100,000-odd Italian settlers should be evacuated first, as a propaganda coup for Mussolini - the Axis Dunkirk.
4. Focus on evacuating personnel more than equipment. Surging German armaments production, with no ground combat against the Anglo-Americans and Ostfront casualties that stay at their 1942 level, means that the Axis reaps an "equipment dividend" in 1943. Agree to OTL Italian demands to equip some of their divisions with German weapons - if politically feasible, ask Mussolini to organize a recruitment drive to send Italian industrial workers to Germany in exchange.
5. Throw in some territorial concessions to Italy if feasible - maybe give them the Crimea as Taurica?

In effect, if you can fortify Mussolini and keep him viable in the eyes of a critical mass of the Italian elite, the Mediterranean strategy becomes a dead-end for the Allies: they clear the Axis from Africa without even opening the Mediterranean sea route. If they want to open it, they must successfully prosecute an offensive air campaign, without Malta, at a significant distance from their Tunisian airbases... To then try to take Sicily against much stronger ground opposition.

You also save hundreds of thousands of troops, including about 100,000 Germans. You don't need to pour hundreds of thousands of additional German troops in the Balkans by spring 1943. Those hundreds of thousands can be committed to the decisive spring campaign in the East (which also benefits from close to 200,000 German and 600,000 Axis troops saved from the disaster on the Don). You don't need to make good horrendous equipment losses in the winter, especially in tanks, and probably can start to decently equip minor Axis forces, both in the Mediterranean and the East.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:01
One problem for Germany - perhaps it's not decisive - is that I don't see how they can turn towards air production and (perhaps more critically) pilot training in time to stop the Combined Bomber Offensive. If that's true - if the LW still collapses around mid-1944 - then eventually the Allies will settle on bombing that actually works such as the Oil Campaign (now expanded to include Baku). That would preclude LW recovery as they won't be able to train sufficient pilots no matter how many aircraft they produce.
That is precisely Germany's greatest threat. The solution is to gradually reduce bomber in favor of fighter production, and once the USSR starts to seriously falter, virtually stop producing bombers altogether - at least until the Grossraum's potential has been further mobilized and the overall production gap with the Allies narrowed.

The process would look like this:

Image
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:01
I want to be clear that this same answer may work here but KDF33's challenge is harder given the timing (again my ATL is straightforwardly easy). Germany's synthgas production may relocate to the Donbas, for instance, where the Wallies can't hit it. If Second Baku's oil is of sufficient quality, it can be refined into avgas as well but with mid-1943 capture this isn't a factor until mid-1944. Allies probably can't bomb Second Baku either.
Discontinuing bomber production, and thus operations, would go a long way to solve the fuel issue. I don't have data on German consumption patterns, but using USAAF operations in North Africa (12/42 - 04/43) as a proxy, medium and light bombers consumed almost three times as much fuel per sortie than fighters (600 to 212 gallons).

212 gallons is 0.6 metric ton of avgas. To fly 2,500 "Tunisian standard" fighter sorties per day for a whole year, Germany would require 547,500 tons of fuel, i.e. 28.6% of its OTL 1943 supply of 1,917,000 tons - and almost certainly less than what its bomber force consumed in that year. This would amount to a yearly total of 912,500 fighter sorties, which can be compared to the 139,453 total USAAF fighter sorties flown in the combined ETO/MTO area for all of 1943.

The Allies have a large advantage in aircraft production, and an even larger one in fuel output, but both of these advantages are significantly curtailed if Germany focuses on air defense. Not only are heavy bombers much more expensive than single-engined fighters, they also consume far more fuel. For example, USAAF heavy bomber sorties in the combined ETO/MTO consumed 2,039,715 metric tons of fuel in 1944, 6.3 tons per sortie.

So are long-range fighter sorties: for the January to April 1944 period, USAAF fighters operating from England consumed 1.3 ton per sortie, over twice the rate of the Tunisian campaign.

Thus, to secure its position in a notional 1942 ATL, Germany needs to prioritize air defense far earlier than it did historically. Under its air umbrella, it can then restructure the resources of the consolidated Grossraum and begin to narrow the production gap with the Anglo-Americans.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Nov 2021 07:38

EDIT - none of this reflects your latest reply, which I just saw.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 08:08
Those forces are no longer very strong by the time the pivot happens.
Thanks, that's convincing.
KDF33 wrote:For a grand total of seven Infanterie-Divisionen (mot) and sixteen Panzer-Divisionen, i.e. 23 mobile formations supported by massed tactical air power.
Also very convincing.
KDF33 wrote:I don't think the risk of Soviet collapse would necessarily appear worse than OTL to the Anglo-Americans during the July - November 1942 period.
Seems reasonable. I'll just note, however, that it might move the evaluative needle from "Germany should have won" towards "Wallies fucked up." That's a critique of any timeline, however, including mine and our own.
KDF33 wrote:Have Rommel stop at the Egyptian border after taking Tobruk and proceed with Herkules in summer 1942, taking Malta.
Of course. I was having Ostfront tunnel vision.

I'll just note for now that this leaves you more shipping capacity in the Med come Torch.
KDF33 wrote:Your option might also be a sound middle-ground, although I'd fear excessive aerial attrition over Tunisia
To manage historical butterflies... An immediate Axis evacuation of North Africa makes Emergency Roundup much more likely by freeing most of Wallied shipping capacity and troops for Bolero. It might largely realize FDR's promise to Marshall that Torch didn't preclude [/i]Roundup[/i]. Seems prudent - from the evaluative perspective of counterfactual history - to go with the option that minimizes risk of adverse responses from the Wallies and fight it out in North Africa.

...but it could go much better in your ATL. Dropping my Ostfront tunnel vision, I'm tempted to commend the following: There's no Ostheer crisis, you come into November '42 with more Med shipping, and your sea lanes are more secure for lack of Malta. Maybe send Rommel 2-3 more panzer divisions by February '43. Besides the additional reinforcements, Rommel has lost less to Monty because you've been rational and let him fall back and he can fuel his retreating columns. With that much stronger Armeegruppe Afrika, destroy/bag US II Corps at Kasserine and then roll up the Wallied line in Tunisia, forcing them back into Algeria. You can't hold Tunisia long term but, with Wallied air forces back in Algeria and no threat from Malta, you can probably get nearly all the Germans, much of the equipment, and some of the Italians back to Sicily before the Wallies bumrush Tunis against a rearguard force.

Stack the evacuees in Sicily and dare the Wallies to invade. With ARMAVIR not destroyed on the Don, with Italy's own partial Dunkirk at Tunis, with Malta conquered, and with Moscow conquered - Italian support for the war should be sufficient to avert switching sides for now.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

KDF33
Member
Posts: 1141
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 17 Nov 2021 08:34

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Nov 2021 07:38
Seems reasonable. I'll just note, however, that it might move the evaluative needle from "Germany should have won" towards "Wallies fucked up." That's a critique of any timeline, however, including mine and our own.
I'd argue "everyone fucks up" is the biggest lesson to draw from WW2 (or any large-scale human endeavor, really). Thus, IMO:

1. Germany got its opportunity to rule Europe because Gamelin fucked up his battle plan.
2. Germany got its opportunity to cut the USSR down to a manageable size because Stalin stayed more-or-less idle between late November 1940 and June 1941, despite fast deteriorating relations with Germany.
3. The USSR got its opportunity to survive Stalin's fuck up because Hitler treated Barbarossa as mere prelude to war with the Anglo-Americans instead of as a major undertaking in its own right, and thus didn't allocate / mobilize resources properly.
4. Hitler got a second shot at Lebensraum because Stalin didn't understand the war he was fighting and threw away his advantage in the winter of 1941-42 by repeatedly sending his fresh forces impale themselves against the German lines.
5. Japan was removed as a significant offensive force because Yamamoto fucked up his battle plan.
6. The USSR was saved a second time from Stalin's poor strategic leadership by Hitler's equally poor strategic leadership, and his ludicrously risky, overoptimistic and simply superfluous summer 1942 campaign "plan".

To these, I agree one should probably add the "firm" U.S. commitment to focus resources against Germany, to then immediately split resources 50/50 between Germany and Japan for the critical 1942-43 period of the war.

History Learner
Member
Posts: 407
Joined: 19 Jan 2019 09:39
Location: United States

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by History Learner » 17 Nov 2021 08:39

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Nov 2021 07:01
Yes, ~June 1943.

And to be clear it's based on a complete reordering of American plans and priorities - totally abandoning all offensive effort against Japan and maintaining high landing craft production (instead of cutting it in late 1942) at the cost of other programs.

KDF's additional details have assuaged this concern. But re Torch I'd say that if Axis immediately evacuates North Africa it makes Emergency Roundup much more likely.
I think you have personally laid out a convincing case the U.S. could, in theory, make a serious landing in Europe in the Summer of 1943. Militarily and logistically, that's clear but there is a third element that needs to be considered given the opportunity cost of abandoning operations in the Pacific-the political. While Hitler and Stalin had the benefit of not having to worry about elections, Roosevelt did and it's clear it was an especially pressing concern on his mind in 1942, given the looming midterms. To quote from The 'Pacific-First' Alternative in American World War II Strategy by Mark A. Stoler, The International History Review, Jul., 1980, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1980), pp. 432- 452
But these factors did not prevent a partial turn to the Pacific in 1942 and 1943 which Roosevelt supported and which clearly modified the Germany-first strategy for the duration of the war. In his 1943 biennial report to the Secretary of War, Marshall bluntly stated that for the United States, the defensive phase of the Second World War had ended not with any actions in the European theatre, but with the Guadalcanal campaign. By the end of 1943, the United States was still deploying more men against Japan than against Germany.55 Roosevelt's support for this partial strategic shift is not difficult to reconcile with his absolute refusal in July 1942 to reject formally and completely the Germany-first approach. While the President retained his strong belief in the primacy of that approach throughout the war, he was by no means blind to the political as well as military repercussions, especially at home and in China, of continued and unchecked Japanese successes. He simply did not believe that those repercussions, drastic as they might be, would be as serious as those which would follow a total overthrow of Germany first.​
Certainly in this regard, Roosevelt was reading public opinion correctly, according to polling at the time:
On concentrating on the Japanese, the question asked was: "Granting that it is important for us to fight the Axis every place we can, which do you think is more important for the United States to do right now: put most of our effort into fighting Japan or put most of our effort into fighting Germany?" 62 percent responded Japan, and 21 percent Germany. Bureau of Intelligence, OFF, "Survey of Intelligence Materials," No. 21 (April 29, 1942), PSF "OWI," Roosevelt Papers.​
This was further supported by a Gallup poll from February of 1943, which found 53% of Americans listed Japan as the number one enemy. In light of an unchecked Japan in such a scenario, the political danger would become acute. It's not just the people on the West Coast with this view, as the overall numbers show. 1942 is a midterms year, and if the national vote shifted overall just 1% further Republican, the following Congressional races would flip:

California 11
California 23
Illinois 2
Illinois 7
Indiana 11
Kentucky 7
Massachusetts 3
Minnesota 9
New York 16
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 2
Pennsylvania 3
Pennsylvania 25
Utah 1
West Virginia 2
Wyoming At Large

That's 16 seats in total, and given their historical win of 209 seats, more than sufficient to take control of the House. In the Senate, Montana and Colorado would both be flipped; enough to prevent cloture on filibusters, IIRC. FDR can't ignore this political threat here at all if he maintains Germany First, as proposed here. There's also ample reason to fully suspect the Republicans would pounce on this action by Roosevelt for political gain, possibly even transitioning into a full on peace movement with Germany.

American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Negotiated Peace, 1942 by Richard W. Steele,The Journal of American History , Dec., 1978, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Dec., 1978), pp. 704-723:
The coming of war to America changed but did not destroy the peace issue. Many of those who had stubbornly resisted involvement now hoped to terminate it as quickly as possible, and apparently only a lack of organization significantly differentiated sentiment for a negotiated peace from the isolationism of 1941. Moreover, as the President quickly learned, the leadership for an effective negotiated peace movement seemed likely to emerge from the die-hard remnants of the America First Committee, particularly in the person of the isolationist national hero, Charles A. Lindbergh.​

America First officially disbanded in February, and many of its officials announced their support for the war effort. Nevertheless, the activities of some members, including Lindbergh, remained the subject of government interest and concern. In mid-February Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover informed the President that former members of the Committee had "gone underground" and were "biding their time," awaiting the opportunity to emerge again as a "political force." Hoover cited as evidence a mid-December meeting at which the renowned flyer had allegedly held forth on the yellow and Bolshevik menaces, on the foolishness of the current war in Europe, and on what might be done to reverse American policy. ​

According to Hoover's informant, Lindbergh declared that "when the American people, by reason of the lists of the missing and the statements of war losses, realize that they have been betrayed by the British and the Administration," the Committee should be ready to "advocate a negotiated peace." Hoover also noted that he had obtained information from other sources to the effect that the America Firsters had a "secret mailing list of 8,476,000"; that lately a "great many individuals among foreign speaking groups have been circularized"; and that the leaders of the underground organization planned to hold a "series of house parties . .. to keep alive contacts."34​
Further:
Nevertheless, the President could not rest easy, for the fate of the extremists notwithstanding, he had reason to ponder the possibility that his more respectable political enemies might use the peace issue to unsettle and embarrass the administration. In April OFF warned that in the fall congressional campaigns "subversion will probably be intermingled with politics" as both administration opponents and Nazi propagandists seek to "promote defeatism or play upon the war weariness of the people." Fleshing out this prediction was a report informing the President that three leading isolationist Republicans, Congressman Joe Martin, former Congressman Bruce Barton, and publisher Roy Howard, had "just held a secret meeting in far off Tucson," leading to speculation that they were planning an "isolationist attack" against administration war policies. A more explicit warning came to Roosevelt from a friend, New Dealer Gardiner Jackson, who told him in the fall of 1942 that the business interests behind the presidential candidacy of Thomas E. Dewey were working hard for a negotiated peace and had taken a recent conciliatory speech by Hitler as the "opening gun of the drive to call the war off. . . ." The problem raised by these reports (if true) was, as OFF warned, that even if the agitation of the peace issue could not force the administration into negotiations, it could do "much damage" by strengthening "the hand of those in Congress whose main goal is the harassment and obstruction of the President."37

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Nov 2021 09:36

KDF33 wrote:I'd argue "everyone fucks up" is the biggest lesson to draw from WW2
and life
KDF33 wrote:1. Germany got its opportunity to rule Europe because Gamelin fucked up his battle plan.
IMO German victory in France is overdetermined and foreseeably so. It's a rerun of the last war tilted enormously towards Germany. Consider the Kaiserschlacht but with:

1. No Eastern Front so ~500k Germans added to the OoB
2. BEF shrunken by 80%
3. Italy ties down French forces as a hostile neutral instead of being an ally
4. ~half of the Habsburg army in France (Austria, Czechia being the military/industrial core of A-H)
5. No USA

That's an obvious German victory to me. The only issue is whether it takes weeks or months. If it takes too many months then Germany's window of opportunity disappears.

Halder's original Fall Gelb seems likely to have been "perverted" at some point in Flanders from a straight drive into an encirclement by opportunistic action. Maybe of the BEF entirely on land with no escape.

Gamelin's fuckup was perhaps low stakes. Not a fully fledged position though.
KDF33 wrote:2. Germany got its opportunity to cut the USSR down to a manageable size because Stalin stayed more-or-less idle between late November 1940 and June 1941, despite fast deteriorating relations with Germany.
True at the most generalized level because Stalin didn't pull the red alert that was plainly needed for anyone suddenly sharing a continent alone with Hitler. The SU made some serious efforts in 1940 though, such as forbidding job-changing without permission and approaching Germany's weapons output. The new book Fortress Dark and Stern documents that the wartime uptick in Soviet mortality began in 1940, when Stalin was already restricting civilian goods and services and redirecting workers from agriculture to armaments.
KDF33 wrote:3. The USSR got its opportunity to survive Stalin's fuck up because Hitler treated Barbarossa as mere prelude to war with the Anglo-Americans instead of as a major undertaking in its own right, and thus didn't allocate / mobilize resources properly.
Brilliant. ;)
KDF33 wrote:4. Hitler got a second shot at Lebensraum because Stalin didn't understand the war he was fighting and threw away his advantage in the winter of 1941-42 by repeatedly sending his fresh forces impale themselves against the German lines.
I've perhaps rudely provoked this ATL discussion but at some point maybe you could do an "All quiet on the Eastern Front (winter '41-'42)" ATL. Like not now or soon. I have reservations but no doubt you've considered this more deeply than me.
KDF33 wrote:5. Japan was removed as a significant offensive force because Yamamoto fucked up his battle plan.
I can't decide who wins the WW2 King of Clown Town: Yamamoto for Pearl and Midway or Halder for Barbarossa? (in the never happened category, Daldier for "let's bomb Baku")
KDF33 wrote:6. The USSR was saved a second time from Stalin's poor strategic leadership by Hitler's equally poor strategic leadership, and his ludicrously risky, overoptimistic and simply superfluous summer 1942 campaign "plan".
In his defense, he believed the US would intervene in Europe probably in 1942 but certainly in 1943, so a moonshot was his only shot on those terms. But yeah, even as moonshots go this one was stupid.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 17 Nov 2021 12:17, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Nov 2021 09:56

History Learner wrote:While Hitler and Stalin had the benefit of not having to worry about elections, Roosevelt did and it's clear it was an especially pressing concern on his mind in 1942, given the looming midterms
The '42 midterms don't matter to my sub-ATL, whose strategic decisions have no pre-November public consequences.

On the broader theme of Germany vs. Japan, I agree but as I said I have this naive belief that FDR really cared about the fate of the world and, push come to shove, he would have risked/sacrificed his political career to beat Hitler (were that possible). I'm not generally naive about FDR - he was a horrible racist, he made bad military decisions on political grounds several times. Nonetheless by 1942 he seems to have recognized Hitler's unique level of evil and wanted him dead above all else.
History Learner wrote:American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Negotiated Peace, 1942 by Richard W. Steele,The Journal of American History , Dec., 1978, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Dec., 1978), pp. 704-723:
I read this article and it contains some interesting points but also - if we believed every spook dossier MLK would have been imprisoned permanently and we'd have invaded Russia a few years ago. Hoover in particular was a nutjob.

And if FDR behaves with core ethical convictions - he was dying and probably knew it - the politics don't really matter.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 17 Nov 2021 10:06, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Peter89
Member
Posts: 2143
Joined: 28 Aug 2018 05:52
Location: Europe

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 17 Nov 2021 10:03

KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
Let's not forget that their summer campaign in 1942, although impressive territorially, was basically against very weak Soviet forces.
I often read this. It is a prevalent view but it isn't borne by the facts: the forces arrayed against Blau were massive and included the majority of the Soviet tank corps: 14 out of 22 were directly engaged, and a further 2 out of 8 were used in diversionary attacks against 2. Panzerarmee to help Soviet forces in the path of the German offensive.
Initially, the bulk of the Red Army was not in the main axis of the German attack, but the German attack represented most of the German offensive capabilities. Tank corps do not equal "forces".
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
The Wehrmacht simply did not have the means to do this
Why not? In OTL, the Wehrmacht reached Stalingrad as well as the outskirts of Tuapse and Grozny. What I suggest is a far more limited series of advances, advances that the Soviets can only resist with a further 6 tank corps and the rifle divisions aggregated into Reserve Armies.
Again, tank corps are not the only kind of units in the Soviet OOB. But I think you know that.

What the Soviets were doing was a strategic retreat, which gave too much ground for the German troops to cover. The strategic breakthrough was indeed there, but without the encirclements the Germans wanted so much. They would not retreat the same way near Leningrad or Rhzev.

KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
and it was in need of recuperation and reinforcements.
Correct in some absolute sense, but what ultimately matters is the balance between the Axis and the Soviets at the front, not notional establishment readiness and force levels.
On the contrary, actually. What a lot of commenters like to overlook is that "1000 tanks" or "1000 aircrafts" are meaningless terms. If you have 1000 tanks in Kharkov and the Soviets destroy 100, you will not have 900 tanks after a drive to Baku. Likewise in the air, you may have 1000 aircrafts, but if a quarter of them can be sent on a sortie, that number is almost meaningless. Whole Kampfgruppen with 45 bombers hit the 0 serviceable mark after 2 missions. It's not that they did not exist, but - like I said - they needed recuperation and reinforcements (by that I also mean spare parts, fuel, ammo, etc.)

Indeed, in the 1942 campaign, the Luftwaffe proved to be extremely useful when it operated from established airfields. But their performance gradually shrink as they had to operate from more primitive airstrips.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
Also, retaining the Demyansk pocket made no sense.
Retaining it for its own sake? Agreed, it made absolutely no sense. Retaining it to bag the Soviets inside the Toropets bulge? I'd keep it and use it.
There was only a very small chance to do that, because it would be a one-pronged attack. The Demyansk salient could not be reinforced or supplied to support a drive against such forces.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
? What are you arguing with exactly?
I disagree with (1) the idea that the Soviets had greater offensive capabilities than the Axis in summer 1942 and (2) the statement that the Soviets were able to "start offensives everywhere" in the area of HGN/M.
I did not list only 1942 summer offensives, right?

What happened was that the Soviets attacked German positions as early as the summer of 1942, but also managed to encircle Germans on two occasions in the winter of 1942. On the other hand, Wirbelwind and other small-scale offensives achieved no breakthroughs. The Germans fought hard to hold their lines and were in no position to go on the offensive. Except in the south, where they overextended and became trapped.

KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
In other words, both the AGN and the AGM was under attack on the army group level both in the august and in november.
"Army Group" is an exaggeration. The Soviets were capable of multi-armies offensives in the summer of 1942, but not of generalized offensives involving multiple Fronts, like they later did in 1943.

Most of their offensives in the summer were relatively small-scale, brief affairs: the three offensives of Northwestern Front lasted respectively 8, 15 and 14 days. Zhukov's diversionary attack below Sukhinichi in July lasted a mere 8 days. The counter-offensive against Germany's Wirbelwind lasted 19 days.

The Soviets launched only two major offensives in the summer: Rzhev-Sychyovka and Sinyavino. Krivosheev provides strength figures:

1. Rzhev-Sychyovka: 345,100 men in 4 armies
2. Sinyavino: 190,000 men in 3 armies and 1 operational group

Roughly one week after Rzhev-Sychyovka began, a further 2 armies joined in and attacked 3. Panzerarmee to the south of 9. Armee. So make it, say, half-a-million men total.

Compare to the forces Germany allocated to Blau in July:

2. Armee: 280,482
4. Panzerarmee: 85,643
6. Armee: 317,896
1. Panzerarmee: 226,688
17. Armee: 135,504

Total: 1,046,213, plus hundreds of thousands of additional Axis minor troops (source)
When I first read Wittgenstein in high school, I didn't realize how popular his ideas will be in 20 years. By me, you are welcome to call offensives that involved multiple armies from different fronts as "sub-army group level offensives" or whatever you wish.

Because there is no sense in pointing out again that I argued that the Soviets were able to attack the Germans not only in the summer, but also in the winter (Rhzev, Sinyavino, Stalingrad), could you please compare the total German (& co) offensive strengths in the 1942 campaign sequence? You can decide whether you include Kharkov or not, the results would be the same.

Besides, the duration of an operation has no correlation with its results. The German troops at Stalingrad became encircled in days. France fell in weeks. The fight in Italy lasted 1.5 years.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 21:42
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
The reason why Soviet success came in the south is the AGS overextended and indefensible position.
Agreed. Which is part of my argument: under "normal" circumstances, the Soviets were incapable of breaking the German line at the operational level.
Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 07:22
I disagree with your final assessment, mostly because it is not reflected in facts. The Soviets usually attacked on multiple sectors at once to saturate the defenses and divide reinforcements and mobile reserves.

In the summer there were:
First Rhzev-Sychovka offensive operation july 30
Third Sinyavino offensive operation august 19

In the winter there were:
Operation Uranus november 19
Operation Mars november 25 (including Velikiye Luki encirclement)
Operation Iskra january 12

Each of the winter operations involved over 20 divisions.
Yes, and the only one of them to break the German line to operational depths was Uran, which, as you mentioned yourself, was due to HGS (B) being in an "overextended and indefensible position".

Ergo, my claim that save for special circumstances, the Soviets were incapable of breaking the German line beyond the tactical level.
NO. Your argument was that the Germans were capable to launch a series of major offensives, gain and hold ground in the south, take Leningrad and defeat the Red Army, with the encirclement of their troops along the whole front. This is what your map shows.

My argument was that the Germans might make a few gains to improve their defensive positions and absorb the Soviet blows with better results. In this case, yes, I think it might have been possible to withstand the Soviet attacks withouth a strategic breakthrough in 1942's campaign sequence.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

History Learner
Member
Posts: 407
Joined: 19 Jan 2019 09:39
Location: United States

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by History Learner » 17 Nov 2021 10:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
17 Nov 2021 09:56
The '42 midterms don't matter to my sub-ATL, whose strategic decisions have no pre-November public consequences.
My understanding was that the U.S. cuts support for the Southwest Pacific, by no later than October of 1942. Given the elections are in November, the U.S. effectively pulling the plug on the Pacific would likely have political effects-you made mention of using Pacific carriers against Norway, for example. What happens when the Japanese are able to take advantage of this? The Battle of Santa Cruz was late October, after all.
On the broader theme of Germany vs. Japan, I agree but as I said I have this naive belief that FDR really cared about the fate of the world and, push come to shove, he would have risked/sacrificed his political career to beat Hitler (were that possible). I'm not generally naive about FDR - he was a horrible racist, he made bad military decisions on political grounds several times. Nonetheless by 1942 he seems to have recognized Hitler's unique level of evil and wanted him dead above all else.

I read this article and it contains some interesting points but also - if we believed every spook dossier MLK would have been imprisoned permanently and we'd have invaded Russia a few years ago. Hoover in particular was a nutjob.
Indeed, we have the benefit of hindsight on the matter but FDR doesn't; he has to at least give it serious consideration and that will effect his actions.
And if FDR behaves with core ethical convictions - he was dying and probably knew it - the politics don't really matter.
I have to firmly disagree with this, because the politics do matter in a Democracy. If the Republicans take the House and tie up the Senate on a Pacific First or outright "Pro-German peace" platform, they can absolutely use the powers of Congress to tie the hands of FDR on the matter.

I'd also like to suggest Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion, and The War Against Nazi Germany by Steven Casey, if you haven't read it already.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Nov 2021 11:07

KDF33 wrote:That is precisely Germany's greatest threat. The solution is to gradually reduce bomber in favor of fighter production, and once the USSR starts to seriously falter, virtually stop producing bombers altogether - at least until the Grossraum's potential has been further mobilized and the overall production gap with the Allies narrowed.
Before getting to the economics of the transition, what's your evidence that it's a historically feasible Nazi path - or are you dictating ideal German moves from here on out regardless? Either is fine and interesting.

On the historic feasibility, it's an issue I've been researching myself - both for my own ATL and for the argument that the Eastern Front deranged Germany's air defenses (though not via obvious routes like diverting fighters).

Offhand, salient evidentiary points:

-Jeschonnek stated, "First we have to worry about beating Russia, then we can worry about pilot training."
-Galland's memoirs recount his efforts to shift towards fighter defense. But he also recalls a convo with Jeschonnek where the latter argues we need to focus on the East (unfortunately details of J's argument not provided). Galland comes away from the meeting thinking Jeschonnek has a lot of good points.
-In Defense of the Reich: The Luftwaffe over Germany, there's discussion of training being impeded by Ostheer's constant raiding of Ar-96 planes for use as recon and liaison.
-The Kholm, Stalingrad, and Tunisia airlifts denuded the training schools of instructors, many of whom were lost.
-When Kammhuber proposed increased night defenses to Hitler during 1943, he was told basically "not until we beat Russia."
-Bomber production was intended primarily for Ostheer's benefit. The Baedekker raids and Baby Blitz were poorly resourced; arguments that bombing Britain would have been priority #1, absent the Eastern Front, seem unsupportable.

...I don't have my notes at hand (still switching computers and haven't recovered everything) but trying to quantify/detail these impacts/arguments. So I'd probably come down on your side as to historical feasibility though it's a constraint I've relieved myself of in my own ATL by making mine much easier (I just multiply OTL aircraft production by 3-4 and save its composition for later refinement).
KDF33 wrote:The process would look like this:
On economic feasibility I might quibble with your 1E frameweights because of the generally higher cost per ton of lighter planes. Then again, Me-109's are the true Wunderwaffe because they're incredibly cheap. Depends on the type distribution of Me-109 vs. Fw-190. You'd probably want to prioritize the the Me-109 Hochgruppen to combat Allied escorts because OTL's Fw-190's are probably sufficient to stop the AAF if the escorts are dealt with. So maybe I drop my quibble.
KDF33 wrote:To fly 2,500 "Tunisian standard" fighter sorties per day for a whole year, Germany would require 547,500 tons of fuel, i.e. 28.6% of its OTL 1943 supply of 1,917,000 tons - and almost certainly less than what its bomber force consumed in that year.
Roger. We can also ~double avgas supply rapidly by converting the hydrogenation plants from mogas once Ostheer goes dormant - with the proviso that we produce more benzene and other additives. Mining and transporting the base coal is probably at least half the synthgas battle, so the additive side is probably feasible (especially given Ostheer's increased hauls of PoW and civilian Russian labor, greater food loot to feed hungry miners).

In this ATL, I could see US ramping up escorts and retraining USN pilots to fly them (if necessary for stronger escort fleet - not sure it would be). It's a tight race to keep LW off OTL's vicious cycle towards collapse. The Ostfront endgame timing seems critical.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 17 Nov 2021 12:18, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Return to “What if”