German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

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German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 09 Jan 2022 00:17

A general question regarding German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR, in 1941 in support of the initial invasion and/or in 1942 in support of the (various) offensives, planned and actual.

Historically, the Germans had spent a fair amount of the third quarter of 1940 trying to put together an effective doctrine, shipping, and equipment for the amphibious operations that would have been the foundation of any attempted invasion of the UK in 1940; obviously, they failed and that strategic option was taken entirely out of the realm of possibilities because of British resistance in the third and fourth quarters of 1940.

However, did any of the planning, concepts, or shipping and amphibious equipment that was assembled (more or less) in 1940 become part of the German strategy against the USSR, either in the initial invasion in 1941 or for consideration as an element of the various strategies considered in 1942?

Whether SEALION or anything approximating it could have actually worked, given the strength of the RAF, RN, and British Army in the second half of 1940, is a different question, of course; what I'm asking is if any of the efforts by the German army, navy, and air force to put together an operational plan for cross-Channel operations in 1940 against the UK influenced any of the planning for the invasion of the USSR a year or so later?

Obviously, an attack by a Central or Western European power into the center of eastern Europe, much less Western Eurasia, is going to focus on land operations - however, given the realities of the Baltic and Black seas (much less the Arctic Ocean) as "flanks" to both as "eastward" invasion and the Soviet Union's "westward" defense, were amphibious operations ever considered by the Germans as an element of their larger strategies?

If so, does anyone have background and where and when?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 09 Jan 2022 23:07

Nobody, I guess? Interesting ... they spend a fair amount of time and energy putting together an (ad hoc, but still) capability in 1940 and it is not considered as part of the tool box in 1941-42 in the (arguably) most important theater...

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Gooner1 » 10 Jan 2022 12:44

The economies needed all those barges doing what they were doing before being conscripted for Sealion.

The Reich economy took quite a hit from their absence, indicating that the operation was no mere bluff.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 11 Jan 2022 04:58

Gooner1 wrote:
10 Jan 2022 12:44
The economies needed all those barges doing what they were doing before being conscripted for Sealion.

The Reich economy took quite a hit from their absence, indicating that the operation was no mere bluff.
Fair, but it raises the question whether after the failures of the 1941 offensive, the Germans considered dusting off the plans they had put together in 1940 for consideration in - say - the Black Sea in 1942. Georgia and Armenia have long coastlines, for example.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Art » 11 Jan 2022 11:20

The plan was to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet with minimal forces until the Baltic coast and naval bases is rapidly occupied by advancing ground army. Landing operations were apparently considered redundant. What was the point of landing on the Latvian coast if this coast was occupied by ground troops within several days?
In the Black Sea Germany and allies didn't have a large naval force in the first place.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by historygeek2021 » 11 Jan 2022 15:16

Forczyk in his Sea Lion book makes the case that the preparations for Sea Lion aided the Germans in their amphibious assaults on the Baltic islands off the coast of Estonia in Operation Beowulf II, and later across the Kerch Straits in Operation Blucher II. The Marinefährprahm and Siebel Ferries were used as supply vessels.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 11 Jan 2022 23:29

Art wrote:
11 Jan 2022 11:20
The plan was to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet with minimal forces until the Baltic coast and naval bases is rapidly occupied by advancing ground army. Landing operations were apparently considered redundant. What was the point of landing on the Latvian coast if this coast was occupied by ground troops within several days?
In the Black Sea Germany and allies didn't have a large naval force in the first place.
Fair points; if the Turks had come in and opened the Straits to the Italians (which I realize is a very large "IF") presumably it would have become an issue...

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 11 Jan 2022 23:30

historygeek2021 wrote:
11 Jan 2022 15:16
Forczyk in his Sea Lion book makes the case that the preparations for Sea Lion aided the Germans in their amphibious assaults on the Baltic islands off the coast of Estonia in Operation Beowulf II, and later across the Kerch Straits in Operation Blucher II. The Marinefährprahm and Siebel Ferries were used as supply vessels.
Thanks; interesting. Short sea operations, obviously; I wonder if they considered anything larger in the Black Sea campaign in 1942?

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 15 Jan 2022 21:50

This may be better placed in the "What If" realm, but if the Turks had joined the Axis in time for the 1942 offensive AND thus allowed the passage Axis naval and shipping assets from the Med into the Black Sea, any thoughts on whether the Germans would have considered an amphibious operation aimed at Poti to support the overland offensive into the Caucasus?

And if so, any guess as to what troops may have been available? Obviously, pretty much everything they had was already on the eastern front, tied down on occupation duties across Europe, or (to a limited degree, in comparison) fighting in Africa; even if the Turks had joined in and the Italian navy and merchant marine could be spared, were there any troops left to the Germans in the summer of 1942 that could have mounted an operation worth trying?

For some details on the opposition, see: "Soviet strategic thinking regarding the "maritime flanks" of the USSR in 1941 and 1942"

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Jan 2022 06:56

In the East, the Germans needed a strategy based on riverine operations. They needed something akin to the US Civil War strategy using rivers as both logistics routes and as a means to divide and conquer their opponent.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 16 Jan 2022 08:18

T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Jan 2022 06:56
In the East, the Germans needed a strategy based on riverine operations. They needed something akin to the US Civil War strategy using rivers as both logistics routes and as a means to divide and conquer their opponent.
Except that in the western USSR, the rivers "generally "run from the north to the south, emptying into the Black Sea and across the Axis line of advance eastward.

In the US Civil War, the rivers (generally) ran north to south, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, in parallel to the US line of advance southward - thus being useful as "highways."

Looking at this map, one doesn't really see many places where riverine movements would have offered many opportunities for the Axis on the offensive. The defensive, sure, but that's not really using rivers as highways, it's using them as obstacles.

https://www.westpoint.edu/sites/default ... rope19.pdf

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Jan 2022 16:09

daveshoup2MD wrote:
16 Jan 2022 08:18
T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Jan 2022 06:56
In the East, the Germans needed a strategy based on riverine operations. They needed something akin to the US Civil War strategy using rivers as both logistics routes and as a means to divide and conquer their opponent.
Except that in the western USSR, the rivers "generally "run from the north to the south, emptying into the Black Sea and across the Axis line of advance eastward.

In the US Civil War, the rivers (generally) ran north to south, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, in parallel to the US line of advance southward - thus being useful as "highways."

Looking at this map, one doesn't really see many places where riverine movements would have offered many opportunities for the Axis on the offensive. The defensive, sure, but that's not really using rivers as highways, it's using them as obstacles.

https://www.westpoint.edu/sites/default ... rope19.pdf
It isn't the line of advance that's critical. It's the ability to move along those rivers, and for land forces to cross them regardless of the presence of bridges.
Had Leningrad fallen to the Germans, it opens the ability to move supplies by sea to that city, then by river to points near the front along nearly its entire length.

The Allies did this with the Rhine river for example:

Image

A single LCM could move as much as 50 tons + in supplies or equipment across a river in a matter of a few minutes once loaded. Loading and unloading were relatively quick to perform.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by Art » 16 Jan 2022 16:21

They transported supplies by sea to Riga for the Army Group North beginning from July 1941, and later also to Tallin.

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 16 Jan 2022 20:39

T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Jan 2022 16:09
daveshoup2MD wrote:
16 Jan 2022 08:18
T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Jan 2022 06:56
In the East, the Germans needed a strategy based on riverine operations. They needed something akin to the US Civil War strategy using rivers as both logistics routes and as a means to divide and conquer their opponent.
Except that in the western USSR, the rivers "generally "run from the north to the south, emptying into the Black Sea and across the Axis line of advance eastward.

In the US Civil War, the rivers (generally) ran north to south, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, in parallel to the US line of advance southward - thus being useful as "highways."

Looking at this map, one doesn't really see many places where riverine movements would have offered many opportunities for the Axis on the offensive. The defensive, sure, but that's not really using rivers as highways, it's using them as obstacles.

https://www.westpoint.edu/sites/default ... rope19.pdf
It isn't the line of advance that's critical. It's the ability to move along those rivers, and for land forces to cross them regardless of the presence of bridges.
Had Leningrad fallen to the Germans, it opens the ability to move supplies by sea to that city, then by river to points near the front along nearly its entire length.

The Allies did this with the Rhine river for example:

Image

A single LCM could move as much as 50 tons + in supplies or equipment across a river in a matter of a few minutes once loaded. Loading and unloading were relatively quick to perform.
Yes, but your initial statement was " a means to divide and conquer their opponent," which doesn't fit your follow-up statement; a highway that is parallel to the front doesn't do much to improve logistics.

Once both bank of a river are in one side's hands, then yes, boats are a way to move supplies across it; so are bridges, which of course, don't require spending time to unload the trucks (or wagons) on one side of the river, load the supplies into boats, move them across the river, unload the supplies from the boats, load them into the different trucks or wagons, and send them on their way toward the front.

Did the Germans use freshwater transport to support the invasion of the USSR particularly well? Maybe or maybe not, but given the strategic reality of the campaign - a front constantly widening north-south as the theater constantly deepened east-west, meaning the lines of communications constantly lengthened east-west as well - it seems the German logistic effort was pretty much doomed to failure in terms of the resources and technology available, in the same way the French invasion had failed in the previous century,

There's a reason "trade space for time" works so well in places with seasons...

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Re: German strategy regarding the maritime flanks of the USSR

Post by daveshoup2MD » 16 Jan 2022 20:42

Art wrote:
16 Jan 2022 16:21
They transported supplies by sea to Riga for the Army Group North beginning from July 1941, and later also to Tallin.
Fair point on oceanic movement in the Baltic, which - essentially - allowed supplies to be moved from Germany to the front (at the time) in a fairly straightforward manner, and was a real advantage over attempting to move the same quantities by way of land-based lines of communication.

Trying to do the same on rivers that lay across the lines of communication doesn't offer anything close to the same advantages.

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