Did the Reich have a better chance of taking Moscow or Leningrad in 1941?

Did the Reich have a better chance of taking Moscow or Leningrad in 1941?

  • Germany had a better chance at taking Leningrad

    Votes: 89 84.8%
  • Germany had a better chance at taking Moscow

    Votes: 16 15.2%

  • Total voters
    105
1. Tell Finns that all grain shipments will immediately stop unless they'll allow Germans to place forces to southern Finland and attack Leningrad via the Karelian Isthmus.
2. Cut back the garrisons at Norway and just place token defences to Lappland, focus the forces gained by this reshuffling to the Isthmus.
3. Press onwards towards Leningrad through the outer fortification ring of the city's defences in summer 1941 while HG Nord advances through the Baltics and the Finnish Army moves towards Syväri.

They'll still lose the war, no doubt about that, but this would allow the Nazis to capture Leningrad. Luckily Hitler was too sentimental towards Mannerheim to walk over him by blackmailing with a threat of starvation - Finns would have been forced to accept such an offer.
 
1. Tell Finns that all grain shipments will immediately stop unless they'll allow Germans to place forces to southern Finland and attack Leningrad via the Karelian Isthmus.
2. Cut back the garrisons at Norway and just place token defences to Lappland, focus the forces gained by this reshuffling to the Isthmus.
3. Press onwards towards Leningrad through the outer fortification ring of the city's defences in summer 1941 while HG Nord advances through the Baltics and the Finnish Army moves towards Syväri.

They'll still lose the war, no doubt about that, but this would allow the Nazis to capture Leningrad. Luckily Hitler was too sentimental towards Mannerheim to walk over him by blackmailing with a threat of starvation - Finns would have been forced to accept such an offer.
There would be several problems with this plan. For one thing, the Finns would be uncooperative and recalcitrant over Germany's diktat, that is practically walking over Finland's wishes and treating it as an outright puppet. However the Finnish political leadership, and Mannerheim and the rest of the top officers take this (most would not like it at all), at the very least this would make the practical arrangements of the attack quite difficult. There would probably not be overt Finnish opposition, but a lot of typical grumbling, dragging of feet, bureaucratic friction, officers suddenly not understanding German, etc. The other issue, and the more crucial one, would be the very real limits of the Finnish ports, railways and other parts of the logistics network in supporting both the Finnish attack north of the Ladoga and the German attack on the isthmus. The Finnish logistics were problematic IOTL as it was, and here we would have a) two not entirely friendly military logistics organizations working partly at cross purposes in southern Finland (and the Finnish civilian authorities, the State Railways, etc, besides), and b) more than IOTL capacity needed as an attack into Leningrad through the Isthmus would require bigger amounts of materiel, etc, and for a longer time than the Finnish more limited OTL attack needed.

The situation might be such that friction between Finnish and German transport needs will lead to the Germans demanding a part of the southern Finnish transport network to be handed directly into their control to facilitate the logistics to the Isthmus front against Leningrad, and this would further deteriorate the relationship between the Finnish and German political and military leaderships on all levels.

All in all, no matter how things progress after this, I can only see this scenario becoming a pretty heavy Finn-screw, with southern Finland ending as a German-Soviet battlefield in 44-45, and Finland then becoming an SSR after the war.
 
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Yeah, it definitively is that. But considering how badly the Finnish version of the Turnip Winter in 1941-42 was in OTL, the blackmail aspect is totally plausible.
Now, as for the logistic numbers:

The OTL Finnish offensive had to be supplied with the rapidly built Varkaus-Viinijärvi connection. The Germans could build up the system they had in OTL at Toppila near Oulu with Auslade-Komissar 40 and Umschlagstab Oulu. See here for the OTL treaty: https://journal.fi/ta/article/view/47460/13335
Some key details:
- OTL demands for the German troop transportation in autumn 1941 tied up c. 10% of the total Finnish rolling stock.
- The state had no grain supplies left, not even for the army.
- Transporting German troops north caused a lot of setbacks and delays because of the poor status of Salla and Rovaniemi junctions.
- With better harbours and railroads, the Germans could utilize the vital ports of South-Western Finland to conduct such a transportation. This would mean even more hardships for Finnish economy and civilian population even before the war. Supply-wise the better infra in southern Finland would ease with the increased traffic somewhat, especially after Tallinn falls and the Germans are able to utilize Kotka harbour as well. The distance from the border to Leningrad is small enough and the terrain is good enough to enable the Germans to conduct such an attack with pre-built stockpiles - but the Soviets would also certainly notice such troop concentrations and alter their troop concentrations accordingly. So less forces up north at Murmansk and Eastern Karelia, more dug in along the border at the Isthmus. Will Porlammi be even worse disaster than in OTL?

The more I crunch these numbers the grimmer it seems for Finns. Hitler had the grain leverage here, though, so the Finns could protest and whine all the wanted but could not ultimately resist such demands.

edit: see here for the actual threat of famine and the way Germans considered using the grain transports as leverage in OTL: https://www.jyrkinen.fi/historia/elintarviketilanne-1941-1942.html
 
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IMHO an air- and amphibious operation in the Baltics at the start of Barbarossa would have aided immensely in the capture of Leningrad. Land at Riga, blow all the bridges across the Dagauva, dig in on its northern bank and hold out for a couple of days until the panzers arrive. Traps the Soviet 10th and 12th Armies right then and there.
 
my speculation is always back to the historical Three Isthmuses border, where the German influence over Scandinavia would be effected, but that would require evicting the Soviets from Leningrad?
576px-White_Sea_Canal_map.png

thus "going for Leningrad" is not just political (although that might have dire effects on the regime?), the German side was also not unaware of danger of supplies sent to the USSR via the Arctic route.

the POD to capture Leningrad would be a more robust KM effort, considering they had the Soviet fleet bottled up at Tallinn, does not seem unlikely? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_evacuation_of_Tallinn (despite huge losses the Soviets did retrieve 28k persons and 66k tons of equipment) and the later evacuation of Hanko https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941) where they retrieved 23k troops.

so the Soviets saved the equivalent of ?? 4-5 divisions? and were able to use the guns from cruiser Kirov to great advantage defending the city.
 
my speculation is always back to the historical Three Isthmuses border, where the German influence over Scandinavia would be effected, but that would require evicting the Soviets from Leningrad?
View attachment 541372

thus "going for Leningrad" is not just political (although that might have dire effects on the regime?), the German side was also not unaware of danger of supplies sent to the USSR via the Arctic route.

the POD to capture Leningrad would be a more robust KM effort, considering they had the Soviet fleet bottled up at Tallinn, does not seem unlikely? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_evacuation_of_Tallinn (despite huge losses the Soviets did retrieve 28k persons and 66k tons of equipment) and the later evacuation of Hanko https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941) where they retrieved 23k troops.

so the Soviets saved the equivalent of ?? 4-5 divisions? and were able to use the guns from cruiser Kirov to great advantage defending the city.
Basically my point in an earlier post.
All of the Kriegsmarine's big ships (Bismarck, Prinz Eugen, etc.) could be better used to crush the entire Soviet evac fleet.
The Soviets did not have anything of comparable size to the German capital ships.
Kirov would get crunched in a couple rounds, if the sinking of HMS Hood was any indication.

Short distance, less fuel.
And because the distance is shorter, the Kriegsmarine can provide ample ASW escort, which was pretty effective given their OTL track record.
Soviet AF is pretty much crunched already and the Luftwaffe can keep the German capital ships safe.

And the Soviets could not sail anything but river boats in the White Sea Canal.
It was a rushed project and the depth of the canal was only 3.5m.
Evac using bigger ships thru the canal is impossible.
 
my speculation is always back to the historical Three Isthmuses border, where the German influence over Scandinavia would be effected, but that would require evicting the Soviets from Leningrad?
View attachment 541372

thus "going for Leningrad" is not just political (although that might have dire effects on the regime?), the German side was also not unaware of danger of supplies sent to the USSR via the Arctic route.

the POD to capture Leningrad would be a more robust KM effort, considering they had the Soviet fleet bottled up at Tallinn, does not seem unlikely? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_evacuation_of_Tallinn (despite huge losses the Soviets did retrieve 28k persons and 66k tons of equipment) and the later evacuation of Hanko https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hanko_(1941) where they retrieved 23k troops.

so the Soviets saved the equivalent of ?? 4-5 divisions? and were able to use the guns from cruiser Kirov to great advantage defending the city.
Basically my point in an earlier post.
All of the Kriegsmarine's big ships (Bismarck, Prinz Eugen, etc.) could be better used to crush the entire Soviet evac fleet.
The Soviets did not have anything of comparable size to the German capital ships.
Kirov would get crunched in a couple rounds, if the sinking of HMS Hood was any indication.
do not think they want to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" and lose large capital ships, they would not be needed.
use the WWI-era ships, and some of the captured coastal ships? this was one of the most heavily mined areas of the war, they could be augmented as the Sperrbrecher, with flotation materials.
 
Yeah, it definitively is that. But considering how badly the Finnish version of the Turnip Winter in 1941-42 was in OTL, the blackmail aspect is totally plausible.
Now, as for the logistic numbers:

The OTL Finnish offensive had to be supplied with the rapidly built Varkaus-Viinijärvi connection. The Germans could build up the system they had in OTL at Toppila near Oulu with Auslade-Komissar 40 and Umschlagstab Oulu. See here for the OTL treaty: https://journal.fi/ta/article/view/47460/13335
Some key details:
- OTL demands for the German troop transportation in autumn 1941 tied up c. 10% of the total Finnish rolling stock.
- The state had no grain supplies left, not even for the army.
- Transporting German troops north caused a lot of setbacks and delays because of the poor status of Salla and Rovaniemi junctions.
- With better harbours and railroads, the Germans could utilize the vital ports of South-Western Finland to conduct such a transportation. This would mean even more hardships for Finnish economy and civilian population even before the war. Supply-wise the better infra in southern Finland would ease with the increased traffic somewhat, especially after Tallinn falls and the Germans are able to utilize Kotka harbour as well. The distance from the border to Leningrad is small enough and the terrain is good enough to enable the Germans to conduct such an attack with pre-built stockpiles - but the Soviets would also certainly notice such troop concentrations and alter their troop concentrations accordingly. So less forces up north at Murmansk and Eastern Karelia, more dug in along the border at the Isthmus. Will Porlammi be even worse disaster than in OTL?

The more I crunch these numbers the grimmer it seems for Finns. Hitler had the grain leverage here, though, so the Finns could protest and whine all the wanted but could not ultimately resist such demands.

edit: see here for the actual threat of famine and the way Germans considered using the grain transports as leverage in OTL: https://www.jyrkinen.fi/historia/elintarviketilanne-1941-1942.html
I don't doubt that Germans could blackmail Finland if Hitler so wanted, and that in 41-42 the Finnish leadership might realistically have to accept the terms of that blackmail to avoid mass death through starvation. But at the same time, I wonder how the political and practical reality this would create in Finland would turn out as. We know that there was push-back for German plans and proposals IOTL, and there would be some attempts by the Finnish leadership to change the terms of the German help ITTL. For political reasons, the German plan of attacking Leningrad directly through southern Finland would be very difficult for Ryti and Mannerheim, and for everyone else in the leading group of politicians and soldiers. Practically they would know that should Germany lose, Finland would be truly lost. It would be in the view of both the USSR and the Western Allies directly complicit in a war of extermination against the USSR. Here, Finland would not have any of the lingering goodwill the British and Americans had for it after the Winter War. Britain would likely declare war against Finland earlier, and it would be almost certain that by the time fighting reaches Leningrad, the US would follow suit.

The Finnish leaders might put on a brave face also ITTL, but I doubt they could really sleep at night - without booze or other substances, at least. Their practical dependence on Germany and Hitler's whims would be much more total here than IOTL.

The separate war thesis would be useless ITTL. Nobody would buy it. This is also true in the internal political perspective. Here, we could expect a major internal political rift develop early within Finland, with the political left getting critical of the war early and forming a prominent "peace opposition". The government would have to answer by drastic measures, and the following escalation might see many even Tannerian Social Democrats to start going against official politics and the German alliance by late 1942. Moderates across the board would see that Finland has embarked on on a road where there might be no return. Especially after Finland would be forced to hand over its Jews in return for the next month's grain shipments. Morale issues would be a much bigger problem for Finland here, and the military would have its share of problems in keeping its leftist and centrist conscripted soldiers in check, too.

A very likely trajectory for Finland here is similar to Hungary's (though of course worse, as Finland's collaboration in the attack against Leningrad would make crushing the Finns a special goal for Stalin) - at some point, the Finnish government will try to disentangle the country from the war, and then the Germans move to put a puppet Fascist government to power in Helsinki. Whether this happens earlier or later is dependent on how fast the Finnish political system starts to unravel. In the end, German troops and their puppet Fascist Finns hanging "traitors" and "deserters" in lamp-posts in the streets of Helsinki would be soon replaced by NKVD soldiers and "Free Finnish" militia shooting captured enemies of the people in the backyards of the capital.
 
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Leningrad was probably the easiest and, while not as decisive as Moscow, would set the Axis up well going into 1942; the Murmansk Railway could be cut, shutting off the Arctic Route of Lend Lease and thus probably sends the USSR into collapse in the late Fall as events around Stalingrad occur.
 
good summary
This has Finn-srew TL potential, definitively. Also, the poker face of Finnish wartime leadership in OTL is simply amazing.
Autumn 1941: "We won't continue the offensive towards Leningrad, that is simply out of question. Also, we urgently need hundreds of tons of grain asap. Oh, and we can't really afford it right now, but we'll pay later."
 
All the Kriegsmarine's warships like KMS Bismarck, Prinz Eugen and Co could have been put to better use bombarding Leningrad till it surrendered once Kronstadt was surrounded and the Soviet Baltic Fleet was imprisoned in port.
All those big guns would have crushed Leningrad within 2 weeks of constant bombardment.
Supplies for the ships can be shipped to Riga via steam powered merchants to save oil.
The big ships can take turns bombarding so there at least one ship on bombardment duties while others get restocked with ammo and stuff.

Unfortunately, Raeder and Hitler were 2 of the dumbest shits of the century.
Too bad for the Reich.
I think you are underestimating all the dangers the confined Gulf of Finland would present for the Kriegsmarine attack against Kronstadt and Leningrad. Mines, submarines, coastal batteries, land-based air, the guns and torpedoes of any Soviet surface vessels still available. If the Germans went with such an attack, they would have to be prepared to write off a major part of their surface fleet in the operation.
 
I think you are underestimating all the dangers the confined Gulf of Finland would present for the Kriegsmarine attack against Kronstadt and Leningrad. Mines, submarines, coastal batteries, land-based air, the guns and torpedoes of any Soviet surface ships still available. If the Germans went with such an attack, they would have to be prepared to write off a major part of their surface fleet in the operation.
Just build more R-boats.
Sperrbrechers.
German ASW was competent.
Soviet surface ships will be hit and destroyed from long range.
They have nothing that can outrange the Bismarck's guns.
All the big Soviet battleships are still in construction.
Luftwaffe can provide protection.
Soviet AF was pretty depleted by initial German attacks.
 
Just build more R-boats.
Sperrbrechers.
German ASW was competent.
Soviet surface ships will be hit and destroyed from long range.
They have nothing that can outrange the Bismarck's guns.
All the big Soviet battleships are still in construction.
Luftwaffe can provide protection.
Soviet AF was pretty depleted by initial German attacks.
The Soviets laid up to 10 000 sea mines in the Gulf of Finland during the war IOTL. The major barrages were naturally in the eastern part of the gulf. Any single one of those mines can sink a Bismarck.
 
The Soviets laid up to 10 000 sea mines in the Gulf of Finland during the war IOTL. The major barrages were naturally in the eastern part of the gulf. Any single one of those mines can sink a Bismarck.
By the end of the war.
This is 1941.
Not many mines are laid by 1941, considering that the aerial minelaying will be slaughtered by Bf 109s and Bf 110s.
The majority of the Kriegsmarine coming over means a corresponding number of destroyers and smaller ships.
Those Soviet minelayers will be slaughtered as well.
 
By the end of the war.
This is 1941.
Not many mines are laid by 1941, considering that the aerial minelaying will be slaughtered by Bf 109s and Bf 110s.
The majority of the Kriegsmarine coming over means a corresponding number of destroyers and smaller ships.
Those Soviet minelayers will be slaughtered as well.
It is not easy to find sources about exactly how many mines the Soviets laid in 1941, but it its at least clear that when they still controlled Estonia and the Hanko base on the Finnish coast, they laid a barrage of c. 3000 mines at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland where the plan was to create the main defensive position. This happened by the end of June. Soviet mining efforts with ships and airplanes continued through late summer and early fall, and it might well be conservatively estimated that they would have laid from something between 4000 and 5000 mines in the Gulf of Finland by late September. Many of these barrages were not known to the Finns and Germans for some time, and had to be found through trial and error.
 
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It is not easy to find sources about exactly how many mines the Soviets laid in 1941, but it its at least clear that when they still controlled Estonia and the Hanko base on the Finnish coast, they laid a barrage of c. 3000 mines at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland where the plan was to create the main defensive position. This happened by the end of June. Soviet mining efforts with ships and airplanes continued through late summer and early fall, and it might well be conservatively estimated that they would have laid from something between 4000 and 5000 mines in the Gulf of Finland by late September. Many of these barrages were not known to the Finns and Germans for some time, and had to be found through trial and error.
The Gulf of Finland is an extremely shallow, narrow and rocky body of water, with the average depth of ‎38 m (125 ft) and max. depth‎ of just ‎115 m (377 ft). Charging the Kriegsmarine heavies to this environment in the midst of Soviet submarines and minefields would be so stupid that even the Nazis were clever enough to not attempt it.
 
One the game board I preferred Leningrad.
I've always maintained they should have had a more robust naval element, try to clear the Soviet fleets from Baltic and Black Seas, but that is probably only realistic for the Baltic?

assume that Leningrad is captured, do you then try to pocket winnings? on the game board and on the real battlefield?
 
One the game board I preferred Leningrad.
I've always maintained they should have had a more robust naval element, try to clear the Soviet fleets from Baltic and Black Seas, but that is probably only realistic for the Baltic?

assume that Leningrad is captured, do you then try to pocket winnings? on the game board and on the real battlefield?
Hitler was a reckless gambler, and always went all-in until his luck ran out.
well there's that, of course it might be decided by the Soviets who throw everything at recapturing Leningrad? to the extent that they have not made the historical push on Moscow (in 1941)
 
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