New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.

Which was the historic action in which Germany was defeated

Dunkirk, 1940
1
7%
Battle of Britain, 1940
1
7%
Battle of the Atlantic, 1940-1943
2
13%
Changing the axis of advance from Moscow to Kiev, summer 1941
2
13%
At the gates of Moscow, fall and winter 1941
2
13%
Declaring the war to USA, winter 1941
3
20%
Battle of Stalingrad 1942-1943
4
27%
El Alamein and North Africa 1942-1943
0
No votes
Daylight strategic bombing over Germany, 1943-1944
0
No votes
Kursk, summer 1943
0
No votes
Normandy, June 6th, 1944
0
No votes
Battle of the Bulge, winter 1944-1945
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 15

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Karl Heidenreich
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New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:50 pm

Here are some options of which was the moment in which Germany lost the war. There are only 12 options available so some actions were not listed.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:08 am

This is the running total produced by Genral Halder, for men lost by Germany during the first five months of the Russian campaign and does not include the second phase including the battle for Moscow and nor does it include the sick;

31/07 - 213,000
03/08 - 242,000
30/09 - 551,000
06/11 - 686,000
13/11 - 700.000
23/11 - 743,000
26/11 - 743,000

this is equal to 24.22% of the total armed comittment in Russia by the German army and of these nearly 200,000 were dead including 8,000 officers.

From the 16th November to December 5th the total losses were;

55,000 dead, plus more than 100,000 wounded and frost-bitten.

This compared to the total of German losses in the whole of the Western Campaign 1940 at 156,000 is a disaster. Hitler had comitted his best troops to this first push in the hope of a quick victory.

German intelligence said that the whole of the USSR hinged upon what Moscow did. The bureaucratic apparatus was top heavy and was creating havoc in the Russian economy. Although the Russian army was very large and in some ways quite advanced, it's officer corps had been filleted by a series of trials and executions carried out on the orders of the paranoid Stalin. The pact between Hitler and Stain had favoured Hitler due to Stalin's eagerness to show that he had disarmed much of the ground between Poland and Russia.

Bararossa demanded a rapid push into the Ukraine and an equally rapid seizure of the Soviet heartland including Leningrad and Moscow before the end of the year, so that the German army could be quartered in the cities for the winter. It is this failure which left the German army out in the bitter cold. The plan had not included being stopped at the gates of Moscow.

It was considered likely that having seized Moscow, that Stalin would either capitulate or be ejected from power, by a population eager to be liberated from this harsh dictator. The occupation of France and the Low Countries had been handled with kid gloves until that point, the German occupation was happy to demonstrate that it would BUY produce from French farmers and for the French it was business as usual. It was an example specifically designed to appeal to the Russians who lived in fear under the hideous rule of Stalin. Even in Poland, the Germans treated the population far better than the Russians had.

A sound kick on the door and the whole rotten apparatus would collapse, is how one commentator put it and then Germany could enjoy the fruits of yet another successful invasion.

The drive into Russia proved much harder than had been thought and wear and tear on vechles and tanks was excessive - the extended length of supply-lines prove a worry too. Then there were the partisans to deal with, they soaked up the effort of a great many men. That had not been planned for. The advance already delayed by a whole month due to an uprising in Yugoslavia, had not gone nearly according to plan and by the time of the October rains the army was very far behind schedule and little of the original objective had been acheived.

This is not to say that the Russians were having it all their own way. They were not. The USSR lost far greater numbers of men, though a much smaller percentage than Germany of the total of men it could commit to the struggle and this is a very important factor. The German Generals became very discouraged as they began to realise that their troops would probably have to winter out in the cold.

The German advance came to a soggy halt with the October rains and where advance could be made it was often measured in metres, not kilometers. They had taken most of the Ukraine but now they were held up for a whole month and all the while, the Russians were building up the defences of Moscow. I believe it was on November the 5th that the first frost hardened the ground sufficiently for the tanks to advance once more, but now the troops still in summer kit, began to feel the cold and winter added it's own burden to the hard pressed German army.

The advance was halted 22 miles from Moscow and this single fact saved Stalin and strengthened morale in the whole nation. Once more, their "Uncle Joe" had been proved right and from then on his position was secure. He could demand and get the superhuman effort which he had demanded in peacetime and which nearly broke the back of the Russian worker during the 30s and early 40s. Malcontents were driven under ground, beaten or summarily hanged by angry workers. The Russian was charged not only with poitical fervour - a factor which cannot be denied or ignored - but now they were also fighting for the very salvation of their Mother Russia and it is this combination which the Germans despite their best and heaviest effort could not defeat.

If Germany was now to prevail over Russia, her armies would have to fight for every street and every mile of countryside. That had not been included in the original plan - they had expected to be welcomed in. It has to be remembered that the fall of France was made easier by the fact that the French generals laid few plans to save the nation from German occupation and some even favoured it. Quislings existed everywhere and they helped pave the way for occupation.

Centre had to be stripped of it's objectives and wheel to the south in a desperate attempt to deny the oilfields to a now fuel hungry Soviet Union bent on producing flat out for a long and heavy war-effort which would eventually wipe the floor with the Greatest military juggernought the world had ever seen.

At the time, it was not possible to see the final outcome. Hitler and his generals had been forced to adapt the plan and it is easy to see the change in attitude. instead of the great drive to capture the trade centres of the Union, it had now become necessary to deny it resources. That is a major change of emphasis. The Wehrmacht had become mired in a desperate struggle for supremacy, a thing which would remain beyond it's grasp for the rest of the war and in a very short while, less than 6 months after the launch of the new offensive it would be knocked onto it's back foot and begin to fight defensively from then on.

There would be further attempts to wrest the initiative from the Russian, but like the Battle of the Bulge in 1945 had the quality of desperation sown into the lining, Germany had to throw a greater percentage of her resources into the battle each time, culminating in Kursk. The master plan was coming unravelled by the very thing on which the German army prided itself, it's abilty in the field of logistics. Now logistics were hampering everything, the whole system was breaking down. Greater and greater quantities of men and materiel were thrown into the struggle, but by the middle of 1943 Germany had become utterly exhausted. There were now only sporadic attempts at offensive and each was doomed to fail because it could not be supported in any meaningful way.

By the time the Allies were preparing to invade France, Stalin's armies were pushing into Poland and the German army was on the run. The allied invasion would probably not have succeeded had the Wehrmacht been in better shape and it is more than likely that the invasion of France was now not so much to do with defeating Hitler, as preventing Russia sewing up the whole of Europe. It should not be forgotten just how popular Joe Stalin had become with the workers of Europe and far from him having to invade, he was often welcomed in - as in the case of Yugoslavia.

It has been suggested that the allied action in Sicily and Italy was to do with preventing those areas going over to communism. Action and reaction - it should be remebered that the fascists came to power on the promise of defeating communism in their countries once and for all, so the defeat of fascism would by it's very nature have a strong impetus the other way, especially with regard to Stalin's universal popularity among workers. Post war, some very clever skulduggery had to be adopted to prevent Greece going the same way as the new Russian satellites.

Every development in the Russian campaign during 1942 and onwards, has it's roots in the defeat at the gates of Moscow. It was Hitler's first defeat and he had been beaten by ignorant Russians - untermensch - who were expected to serve their new master and supply him with their plentiful resources. Stalin's position had been secured and he could now rely on his comrades to fight to the death to preserve the revolutiuon. Prior to Moscow that feeling did not exist. Hilter on the other hand had been undermined and now had to rely on the hangmen to keep himself secure and enforce the law which forbade criticism of himself and any talk of stebacks or defeat, even among his close associates. It is this desperation which doomed the men at Stalingrad.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:19 pm

Hi Vic,

It´s mandatory to recognize the level of your posts, very good info, indeed.

I must admit that, using hindsight, in order to clearly win at Russia the moment to do so was between June and September 1941 using the German General Staff Barbarosa plan to the last consequence, regardless of the casualties (there are campaigns in which in order to obtain victory you must accept high amounts of casualties, as Lee told once to "Old Pete" Longstreet at Gettysburg). Why? Winning at Russia was winning the war. Once Russia has fallen and complete divisions freed from that front there was no way the western allies land somewhere in Europe without facing a resistance so fierce and with numerical parity, specially of the crack Waffen SS Panzer divisions, that the landing would fail. Not even Patton could have breached such resistance! Maybe the outcome would have come in 1945 with the use of nuclear bombs against German cities? Or would the allies had signed peace with Hitler by then? From december 1941 to 1945 there are 3 long years.

Returning to the subject: Moscow. Indeed it´s the greatest battle ever: more troops, more casualties and, no less crucial, the most important outcome. I agree. But the fact is that even being that battle a defeat to the German arms it was not the Defeat of Germany.

During the last stage of the battle the Germans, frostbitten, tired, in numerical inferiority, were able to halt the soviet counter offensive; after the winter the Germans were able to launch there own offensive, this time to the south east portion of Russia, beating complete russian armies, encircling and anhilaiting them one after another. Germany was not defeated by spring and summer 1942, they were still on the edge of winning. Uncle Joe knew it all to well that if they didn´t stop ther blitzkrieg there he will have to negotiate a peace with Hitler... and on German terms....

After Stalingrad all the strategic enviroment changed, completely. The casualties that mattered were inflicted to the Germans at Stalingrads, the hole in the German lines was created at Stalingrad, the iniciative was grasp by the russian at Stalingrad.

The Citadel plan was compromised by the development of events after Stalingrad and, it´s likely, that it could have never been succesful anyway. Having the Germans bypass (how, I don´t know, I admitt) Stalingrad and reached the other shore of the Volga, Russia was lost.

So, the battle of Moscow, as important and vital as it was (because if won by the Germans would have mean the complete victory of the Third Reich in WWII in the continent and the likely setting of peace with Britain. And if Britain didn´t settle a peace and continued fighting with the US intervention that wouldn´t mean that they could win on their own because they would not have the resources of landing against a western european continent reinforced by the freed eastern units), it was not the defeat of Germany. Germany still had the oportunity to win in 1942. Oportunity that was lost, forever, at Stalingrad. After Stralingrad the Germans only knew defeat, even at the verge of victory at Kursk.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Bgile » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:20 pm

Vic Dale wrote:It should not be forgotten just how popular Joe Stalin had become with the workers of Europe and far from him having to invade, he was often welcomed in - as in the case of Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia was obviously an exception since it was the only other communist regime. Uncle Joe's popularity probably dropped a bit when these workers realized the depravity with no equal in modern times that was being visited on the civilian victims of their advance. Please tell us about the way Poland and Hungary came to love Uncle Joe.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:26 pm

As far as I know the Germans were the ones received like liberators when advancing in soviet held territories (It´s also a fact that the Germans were fool enough not to did good use of this situation and, instead, began to behave criminaly against these peoples). And when the Germans began to withdraw hundreds of thousands of civilians did the same, which said a lot about the perception of the people of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Of course saying this aloud is political incorrect because of nazi atrocities on civilians, specially in the eastern territories.
But Bgile is right: The Soviets brought nothing good.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:14 pm

HI Karl.

So you've spotted it then?

"The Citadel plan was compromised by the development of events after Stalingrad and, it´s likely, that it could have never been succesful anyway. Having the Germans bypass (how, I don´t know, I admitt) Stalingrad and reached the other shore of the Volga, Russia was lost."

This is the whole point; the German advance could go nowhere. Any ground they may take would get harder and harder to secure and once exhausted they could be sure that fresh Russian reserves would flood in from the east.

It is true that even greater attrition was in store for the Germans after Moscow and that ever greater military resources would be piled in, culminating in Kursk, but who would say that Kursk could have turned the tide for Hitler? Even if he had won that battle and closed the salient, he would still have had to hold the entrapped Russian armies and all the while, this effort would prevent him advancing.

If Paulus had been successful at Stalingrad it would not have altered the outcome, because the Russian did not commit in strength to the defence of that city, they gave only enough to prevent collapse. The Germans were having to fight far harder to advance, than the Russians had to, to stop them. Many lessons had been learned since July 1941. The Germans could be allowed to advance so that a pincer movement could nip off their supplies and isolate the head.

This is the real crux of the matter. Germany was fighting at the end of extremely long supply-lines, every mile advanced stretched them further sewing a proportional weakness into their logistical structure. Hitler's resources, though they included the productive might of Europe, were not inexhaustible and she was losing men at a rate that could not be sustained.

Russia suffered from this same malaise during her advance toward Poland and many times the Germans threw a pincer onto Russian supply lines.

Elite formations were being simply enlisted from existing battle groups - men were being asked; "if they would like to join the elite" whereas elite formations are normally formed and specially groomed in a healthy army. The hard core which had been victorious in France and elsewhere had been whittled down and the remnants were further diluted by raw youth who were to die in their thousands.

It is true that the war was devastating Russia and sueing for peace was definitely an option. One could liken it to having a large wild animal in the throes of it's death agony thrashing about in your lounge. You may equally wish it to die quickly, or get better have bowl of milk and then clear off and leave you in peace.

Negotiations between Germany and Russia were still possible and though the German had been stopped at Moscow and could not now enjoy success in it's Russian campaign, it might not stop Stalin, through Molotov, ballsing up negotiations and allowing Germany to get out AND keep many of the gains thus far. Something of the sort was thought to be in the pipeline during 1942, though it is possible that this was a ruse to extract more aid from the west.

There was a major row brewing among the allied powers during the summer of 1942 and it concerned the Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), who saw protection of the British Empire as the over-riding concern, whereas the US generals thought Britain should be pursuing the war against Germany more vigorously and to hell with the empire. If Britian would not get it's finger out, then they might press for the go ahead to pursue Japan instead of Hitler. Stalin too wanted more done by Britain and insisted that supplies be routed via the Arctic instead of through Persia which would allow large troop and supply convoys to the Middle East, to supply the North African effort AND Russia. Stalin was very touchy about Iran and Iraq, sensing that Churchill and others had designs on these areas for their own purposes.

The CIGS were worried that the Japanese advance, which had already sewn up Malaya and Burma, could advance through India and link up with the German advance through the Caucasus. Such a move would collapse British dominion in the Middle East, given the disasters in North Africa that summer. It could alter the world situation irrevocably and precipitate the collapse of the whole of the British Empire.

Japan's fleet had steamed into the Indian Ocean making it necessary for Adm. Sommerville to move his battleships out of the area for fear of a British Pearl Harbour. So Britain really was up against the wall.

These were the stakes, so it is possible that Stalin threw a very large brick at the window to wake his allies up to the fact that Russia did not need to do all the work, by hinting that he could make a pact with Hitler. How he would have sqaured that with his people I am not sure either.

Vic

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:32 am

Bgile wrote:
Vic Dale wrote:It should not be forgotten just how popular Joe Stalin had become with the workers of Europe and far from him having to invade, he was often welcomed in - as in the case of Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia was obviously an exception since it was the only other communist regime. Uncle Joe's popularity probably dropped a bit when these workers realized the depravity with no equal in modern times that was being visited on the civilian victims of their advance. Please tell us about the way Poland and Hungary came to love Uncle Joe.
You would be surprised at how the mood of a population can change from support for a regime, then turn against and equally easily back again, given the stresses and strains of a world in crisis.

I think it is important to stress the misery inflicted on the hapless millions by Hitler and Stalin alike even though at any given time each was seen as a liberator by the oppressed masses and was welcomed in. Both were dictators and from the outside their regimes appeared almost identical. Jackboots, prisons, whips and cudgels. Even concentration camps - the Soviets called them Gulags.

I am sure that not all Poles or Hungarians felt this way, but a surprising number did support the Red Army as it marched in to drive the hated nazis out. During the Warsaw uprising, the Ghetto appealed to the USSR to send in arms. They saw Stalin as an ally. They got nothing as we know, but it shows that despite what happened when the Russians came in in '39 a large section of people were prepared to forget.

In 1944-45, the USSR had come through a major change and was universally seen as a liberator, yet as we know, in 1941, Ukrainians in their millions welcomed Hitler's troops after years of terror and misery at the hands of Stalin. It is possible that the people who had lived under nazi occupation felt that Stalin had grown in stature as a result of the war and perhaps justifiably felt that what they really wanted for the Germans was a little soviet revenge for the years of suffering they had endured.

On balance it would be wrong to write off the Soviet experience as a waste of time. A downtrodden people had been brought in a few years out of slavery and feudal relations under the czar, to become members of a modern society with a justifiable claim to be the second nation of the world, by 1945. For a time. But at a terrible cost in precious lives lost and wasted production.

Ater all those years of suffering under a succession of dictators beginning with Stalin and ending with Gorbachev, the Soviet regime collapsed to be replaced with something which is neither fish nor fowl and in recent months people have been heard to voice the opinion that Life was better under the bureaucracy!

Given no alternative People will make the oddest of choices, so is it any wonder that the workers of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other countries who had lived under the nazi heel were ready to give the Red Army a warm welcome?

Vic

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:57 am

Vic Dale:
This is the whole point; the German advance could go nowhere.
Don´t agree with that. If the Germans managed to cross the Volga then, and Stalin knew it, they could wheel North and flank the Russian armies in the steppes, the best terrain for the German amoured units. They could outflank the ruskies and attack the Urals.

Yes, Stalin had a lot of reserves but they matter in some circumstances, as in Moscow 1941 or Stalingrad 1942. But at the steppes the Waffen SS was supreme. Risky, but Stalin feared it, Zhukov feared it, Vassilesvky didn´t want it, so the danger was great for them.

What good would have done hundred of thousands of peasants armed with forks and Moisin Nagants with two shots a piece against the fury of the Waffen SS Panzers once free to manouver at the operational field? Nothing.

But that, mostly, just academic. It didn´t happened, maybe for good, let´s hope.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:07 pm

Hi Karl.

The main quality of the German army was it's mobility, especially in it's use of tanks. Blitzkrieg demanded rapidity of movement so that a sudden strike could be delivered, having shifted weight from left to right or vice versa over night and catching the enemy off guard. It was no good for positional warfare, but that is exactly what it would face if major assets were over run and it had to defend them.

The move against the oilfields in the south could have succeeded, but then those gains would have to be defended and the burden of this task would be heavy. Army groups South and Centre would have to find a way of containing what had been gained AND be able to wheel north to keep the momentum of the war going and each gain would have to be defended.

The operational scheme for Barbarossa insisited that Moscow be taken in the first thrust, so that the Russian regime would topple. When that did not happen, the German army faced the monumental task of capturing assets one after the other and the sheer weight of this would naturally slow and sap the strength of the advance.

We should always remember that the German army in Russia was an expeditionary force and as such would always be out on a limb, unless it could establish a working base from which to operate with a functional administartive apparatus in each centre. It is true that supplies of certain kinds were grabbed from the Russians, but that did not supply the army with what it really needed - arms and men. Everything still had to come from the Reich and this effort alone imposed it's own burden.

We might consider the invasion of Britiain - a distinct possibility in the summer of 1940, which had Hitler comitted to in strength and employing all his military assets would probably have succeeded. An assault on London would have been the primary aim, since once the capital fell, all that would be left was minor resistance. If by some means London could have held, the Germans would have had one hell of a hard job taking Britain, especially since everything they needed had to come across the channel.

When Moscow held, the German army faced a logistical problem out of all proportion to what had been planned for. It would now have to fight for every town and city and each gain would have to be defended and supplied, Each thrust into the Russian hide would have to be accompanied by a straightening out of the general line of advance, or risk a counter pincer movement to nip the ehad off. The German army could not simply advance on a broad front, it had to occupy what it had taken and that in so vast a country would have soaked up hundreds of thousands of troops and this burden would be added to by the daily losses.

Stalingrad is an expression of the hopelessness of the German situation, Paulus was lured there by the need to take and hold this new city which was an important industrial centre on the banks of the Volga. To venture past the Volga would have been madness, since that river would provide the best line of defence for the gains made to that point, yet a major part of "Stalin's Town" lay to the east of the river. It was a ready-made trap and it seems the Russians could see this from the start, by the way they just kept it from collapsing and all the while they were planning encirclement and eventual reduction.

Stalingrad was an expression of the hopelessness of the German situation. The German army could still fight - they were still the most powerful army in the world, but they seemed to be utterly lacking in purpose. There was now no end in sight and they were fighting an army which was growing in strength and confidence and with ever better weapons at it's disposal. German soldiers could only face terrible attrition which would eventually favour the Russian.

The Russians may have been losing men at the rate of 4 to 1, but then they could afford to and at a certain time this ratio would changed as the situation began to favour the Russians. Fresh troops with ever better equipment began to surge into the fight against Germany's battle-weary troops that September. Hitler was a great one for counting divisions, but the divisions which had entered Russia so jauntily the year before were not the same, they had had no rest and many had suffered appalling losses during the debacle at Moscow that winter. Even as early as the summer of 1942, some German diary entries complained of the effectiveness of the Russian tactics they were now facing.

Hitler's main failing was his inabilty to correctly estimate his enemy's potential for rebounding. His forces had never before encountered a foe who could appear to be on his knees and bleeding from his eyes, yet still able to strike with an uppercut to the groin. Army group North was held up at Leningrad which would never succumb, Army group centre was held and driven back from Moscow and could not advance. Much of it's resources were taken up fighting defensive battles on Hitler's orders. Only the South presented any way forward, which drew in elements from the southern sectors of Army Group Centre combined with the core of Group South.

The Russian high command too had underestimated their enemy who still possessed massive strength. They expected the December 41 counter offensive to break the Germans, but though the Germans were pushed a considerable way back from Moscow they still remained resolute and still a terrible threat. Hitler meanwhile had sacked a number of his leading generals and had elevated himself to Supreme Command. This last move has to be equal to a successful counter offensive, because now the Russians would benefit from Hitler's undoubted capacity for ineptness. His vanity would lead his armies into one disaster after another. The German troops had now to contend not only with the fighting ability of the Russian troops and the new tanks which were making their first appearance that spring, they also had to contend with their Commander in Chief's "Infallibility".

German casualties continued to mount. By 15th February 1942 they had lost 946,000, by May 10th they had topped the 1 million mark at 1,183,000, So by the time the German summer offensive got under way, the German Army had in fact lost more than a million men. During the summer those figures rose further still until September 10 when the 6th Army was locked in intense fighting inside Stalingrad the figure reached 1,637,000, Whilst the fighting for the city continued, the offensive against the Caucasian oil fields stalled, necessitating another round of sackings at High Command and the new echelons of the German General Staff looked at their maps and began to wonder where the new Russian Winter Offensive would strike first, because the German Summer offensive was already fizzling out.

The fall of Stalingrad would cause German casualties to top the 2 million mark. The Russian campaign was costing Germany the loss of 2 million men each year. This could not be sustained.

The Russian High Command also made mistakes, but it seems that Uncle Joe was willing to listen to the counsel of his military advisors, whereas Hitler had no need of them.

The heavy losses, the change of leaders in the German General Staff and the dramatic shift in strategy after the Russian counter offensive shows that the rot had truly set in when the Germans were stopped at the gates of Moscow.

Vic

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by RF » Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:17 am

As I have said in another thread Germany lost the war from the moment Hitler ignored the British ultimatum delivered by Sir Neville Henderson in Berlin.

The course of the war could have gone differently, Germany could have won, but Hitler was not the man or monster to do it.
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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by RF » Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:20 am

Vic Dale wrote:Hi Karl.

The main quality of the German army was it's mobility, especially in it's use of tanks.

Vic
And it was Hitler who deprived it of its mobility when it still had plenty of space to fight - with his standfast orders.
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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by lwd » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:03 pm

Vic Dale wrote:...The main quality of the German army was it's mobility, especially in it's use of tanks. Blitzkrieg demanded rapidity of movement so that a sudden strike could be delivered, having shifted weight from left to right or vice versa over night and catching the enemy off guard. It was no good for positional warfare, but that is exactly what it would face if major assets were over run and it had to defend them.
The German army as a whole was not particularly mobile. Indeed that lack of mobility is what doomed the German army in the east. Saying they were "no good for postional warfare" also rather goes agaisnt the historical record.
....
We might consider the invasion of Britiain - a distinct possibility in the summer of 1940, which had Hitler comitted to in strength and employing all his military assets would probably have succeeded...
That's rather counter factual unless you choose a POD well before. The German military as it existed from 39 onward was simply not capable of a succesful invasion of Britain.

When Moscow held, the German army faced a logistical problem out of all proportion to what had been planned for. ...
They faced said problem well before they reached Moscow.

I'd vote for the German attack on the Soviet Union as being the critical moment. After that the writing was on the wall.

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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:50 pm

One or two points;

Hitler did not prepare properly for the invasion of Russia, so to that extent you could say he was defeated from the moment he gave the go ahead, but that would be to over simplify. Stalin's Russia was in a very precarious position. Under the leadership of Stalin, Lenin's policy had been utterly wiped out and the economy was facing ruin and in order to keep his position, Stalin had conducted a mass of show trials wiping out his central commitee and the tops of his general staff.

German intelligence said that the USSR was ripe for the picking and had Hitler prepared properly and in depth, ensuring adequate supply lines and heavy back-up for unseen contigencies, the plan might have worked.

Hitler's forces might well have broken the Soviet line at Moscow, had it not been for the month's delay in Yugoslavia (operation Punishment) and the rains of October which added to the delay and held the second advance up until 5th November. If Moscow had fallen it would probably have precipitated a total collapse of the entire Russian resisitance to Hitler. As it happened, the Russian got a reprieve and time to regroup sufficiently to hold out, but seemingly, only just. From then on it was known that Hitler couild be defeated and there developed an iron determination to sweep the toad out, which was rarely to waver.

Although with hindsight we can see that Hitler failed in Russia, nothing of this was visible in September and early October 1941. However, the effects of the knock-back at the gates of Moscow should not be underestimated. Here was an army which had not known defeat. Every campaign undertaken by Hitler had succeeded - often through incompetence on the part of the enemy, but even so, Hitler seemed infallible and German morale was as high as could be. After Moscow, morale began to evaporate as doubt set in about the possibility of success in Russia.

In desperation, Hitler got rid of his most far sighted Generals and place himself at the head of the High Command in order to straighten the political line and instill a new form of "National Socialist Discipline" into the ranks of his disillusioned army. That act alone would be Germany's undoing, because far from being infallible, Hitler was a tactical and strategic liability - the very worst military commander one could choose and later proved to be one of the allied power's greatest assets. His "military genius" saved him from certain assassination, since far from wanting him dead, as might be expected, the British and American general staffs stayed the hand of SOE when they offered to kill him, preferring instead to allow Hitler to keep gumming up his own works.

Hitler's army was still largely horse-drawn, but the mobility of his panzers meant that his army was effective and under cover of a very capable strike force - the Luftewaffe - they remained a force to reckon with even in defeat. Hitler's army was a largely unbalanced organisation, because whilst his forward forces were the best in the world, his system of logistics let them down every time. The stirling efforts of his tank men was usually undone by a failure to supply and hard won gains had often to be abandoned.

With regard to invasion of Britain, there was no chance of reducing that nation by air power alone, whilst if Germany's military resources had been commited in depth they could have pulled it off.

Dowding refused to commit fighter command in large numbers, but kept up a defensive campaign which kept the Luftwaffe just short of success, but without any notion of beating them out right. The RAF was out numbered and what it needed was time. New aircraft were recycled into existing squadrons and loss of pilots was not nearly so great for Britain as for Germany, since British pilots who survived a crash could be quickly back in action, whereas every German pilot shot down became dead or was taken prisoner.

Germany could not hope to win the Battle of Britain the way Goering was fighting it. The only chance for success would lay in all out invasion. The RAF would then be forced up in large numbers to prevent barges and support ships getting across the Channel. In a relatively short while, attrition would have given the skies to German air cover and once air superiority had been acheived, the Germans could have done more or less what they pleased. The British army such as was available in the UK had lost much of it's fighitng capability at Dunkirk especially it's equipment and marale was at an all time low. Regardless of lack of suitable ships, the attempt should have begun soon after the rout.

It is simplistic to try and deal with so complicated an operatiion in a few paragraphs, so perhaps we need a new thread.

Vic

Bgile
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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Bgile » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:21 pm

I'm not sure the German experience prepared them for the Russian scorched earth policy when retreating.

The other known problem I'm aware of is the different gage railroads, which forced them to lay track as they advanced.

Poor staff work? Perhaps.

Vic Dale
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Re: New Poll: critical moment for Germany

Post by Vic Dale » Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:46 pm

HI Bgile.

The nazis were appalling planners. They sent troops into Russia and set up an administrative apparatus which did not have a clue even how to treat the population they had captured, they did not know whether to treat them as friends or as slaves.

Yes, the raillway gauges were different and you would think they could have found that out.

Having occupied the Ukraine and after a particularly good harvest, the German army could not derive any great benefit from it and neither did the Reich which got a rather measly supply of grain and other limited foodstuffs. They did not know how to maximise their gains and on balance all they were good for by 1942 was destruction. Hitler's maxim seemed to be, "If we cannot have it the Russians certainly won't benefit."

Hitler and his little chums really did think they could simply knock the door in and just take over. When that failed at the gates of Moscow they had no other plan and the rest of the Russian campaign was cobbled together on the hoof.

That piece of disgusting footage showing a train towing large hook behind it tearing up the sleepers about says it all for the Germans in Russia. They were like a hoodi-gang, who with nothing better to do simply trash the place.

Vic

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