How could Germany defeat the USSR in WWII?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by thefw190fan, Jun 12, 2012.

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  1. thefw190fan Member

    Jun 10, 2012
    There's been a great debate on whether or not it was a good decision for Germany to invade the USSR during the WWII. Most agree that attacking the Soviets was a bad decision for the following reasons:
    -consumed enormous amounts of manpower and resources (well over 60%)
    -a fight that could not be won
    -Russia is too large in size, industrial strength, and manpower

    Attacking the USSR not only prevented Germany from gaining an upper-hand against Great Britain (and the U.S.) in North Africa, Atlantic, and later Italy and France, but it also led to Germany's defeat; the Russians were the ones who entered Berlin and ended the war.

    The other side of the argument is that invading Russia in 1941 was Germany's best chances of winning. Had Germany attacked Russia in let's say 1942, 1943, or even 1944, Germany could have faced a much stronger and better-prepared Soviet military. While Germany and Japan fought Great Britain and the US, Stalin may have prepared for military expansion. Stalin may have attacked Manchuria, Finland, and ultimately Germany. This wouldn't mean that the Russians would be in the same superior situation as they were historically in 1944 or 1945 (Overwhelming Germany in the East), but it may have meant that Germany could not to launch attacks as fast or as devastating as Operation Barbarossa and Operation Case Blue. Also remember that if Soviet Union had begun a military expansion it would have lacked the extra machinery, weapons, and supplies that came from Great Britain and the U.S. (aircraft, trucks, and even combat boots).

    I agree entirely that Hitler's reasons for invaded the USSR in 1941 were terrible: providing the German people with more living space and driving away the Russian "sub-humans" into exile in Siberia. I also agree that attacking Russia prevented Germany from easily defeating the British in North Africa and was the main cause as to why they lost the war.

    Despite all of this, I disagree that defeating Russia was impossible. If Germany didn't do terrible blunders on the Eastern Front (such as Stalingrad), they could have defeated Russia. Victory in the Eastern Front would give Germany the necessary strength to overwhelm the British and Americans and achieve victory in at least the European continent.

    Here are some of the ways that I believe Germany could have defeated the USSR:
    -If they never attacked the Balkans
    --This would have given Germany enough time to take Moscow before the Russian winter

    -If Germany only focused on Moscow
    --Instead of attacking the Ukraine and/or the Baltic States with (Army Group North and South), German forces completely focused on driving towards Moscow (Army Group Center is more that half of all forces). The complete destruction of Russian forces near Kiev would have never occurred.

    -If Hitler didn't enforce Nazi cruelty
    --The Russian people hated the harsh communist regime under Stalin. When the Germans attacked, many thought of them as their saviors. However, when the Germans began enforcing Nazi cruelty, almost all Russians sided with Stalin. The war quickly became a merciless war between two sides that hated each other. Russians fought the Germans not because they cared for their government but because they hated the Nazis and wanted to protect their motherland.
    --Without any motivation, the Russian military in 1942 and 1943 may have been the same as in 1941.

    -If Germany halted Operation Barbarossa and waited until 1942 to attack Moscow
    --Instead of stretching out its forces to only be met by a Russian counter-offensive, Germany halts its advances eastward in the Fall of 1941 (Oct-Nov), rearm and resupply, and launch a new and fresh campaign in 1942 towards Moscow.
    --German forces would also be better prepared to fight against any possible Russian counter-offensive (such as the one during the Battle of Moscow).

    -If Germany properly equipped itself for the Russian winter weather
    --Not just clothing for troops but also proper all-terrain and all-condition equipment and gear for vehicles/machinery (tanks, art. pieces, aircraft, etc...)

    -If during Operation Case Blue, German forces entirely ignored Stalingrad and the surrounding region and instead raced southward to the Russian oil refineries deep within the Caucasus fields, such as Baku.
    -More intense aerial attacks on the Russian oil refineries (Baku in particular) by the Luftwaffe
    --Extra oil for Germany? Probably not. However, Germany would dramatically affect Russia's oil supply. Without oil, Russia has no fuel and therefore cannot fight (this was seen in late 1944 and 1945 for Germany).

    Most of these "what if" scenarios focus on Moscow. Did Germany need to secure Moscow to guarantee the defeat of the USSR or would the Russians just relocate? Would Germany continue facing a very powerful enemy or just the remains of a shattered government?
    If the Germany never attacked Kiev in Operation Barbarossa, could the ill-prepared Russians outflank the German forces?
    Did Germany need to combine some of these "what-if" scenarios to achieve victory?
    Was a victory still possible in 1942? Could Germany even reach Baku had the ignored Stalingrad? Could Italian and German forces hold off a Russian attack on Rostov?

    Here is where you guys come in. How do you think Germany could have defeated Russia? Many of you will tell me that it victory wasn't possible. I'm okay with those kinds of responses, but I'm more interested in "how" instead of "if". I'm also hoping to receive thoroughly written responses that are backed-up in some shape or form, not just the broad one-phrased responses.
  2. BlairWitch749 Banned

    Jan 17, 2009
    Long Island NY

    The balkans was a necessary flank clearing operation; Hitler couldn't have British divisions and aircraft based in Greece prior to barbarossa; that situation simply couldn't continue; and germany could never supply as far forward as moscow in a single campaign season anyway

    You can't focus everything on Moscow because the Russians will flank attack the spearhead. Part of the reason barbarossa was so successful in the first place was because the Germans attacked on a huge front, which prevented the Russians from massing their reserves; in return the Russians themselves won by attacking on a huge front... also all of Germany's forces can't be directed against the center because there isn't enough space. Operation Typhoon saw the German army committ 57ish infantry divisions and 13 motorized/panzer divisions to the central front, and even just these 70 divisions created unbelievable traffic jams and clogged the living hell out of the roads compelling the mobile divisions to go cross country sucking up tonnes of fuel and putting a lot of extra wear on their vehicles

    agreed that repeating their much better managed ww1 occupation/digestion tract coupled with treating people better than the outgoing regime would have been a better tactic but it's asb under hitler's germany

    agreed that typhoon was a huge strategic blunder and would be an operation better skipped for the heer

    equipping for winter could be done in the context of taking up winter quarters after kiev, which still gives them 2 months of ok weather on a line they could supply on to get things in order

    case blue was the most horribly managed battle by germany in the war... but rushing everyone to the oil producing region along army group a's path couldn't work, they tried it at the start of the campaign by directing the 4th panzer army to go to rostov, which like typhoon before created gigantic traffic jams and supply bottle necks, there simply were not enough roads to support more troops; instead what needed to be done was have the 4th panzer army be the first troops into the great bend of the don with the 6th army's engineer and quarter master companies detached to do everything possible to erect bridges and reopen the rail lines so they could maintain the advance. Once across they could take stalingrad by the end of july without a fight, turn over security to the 6th army and then carry their attacks south down the volga to loosen up opposition to army group A's forces and allow them to continue their advance

    as nazi germany WANTED to fight Russia (war of extermination) there is no victory scenario barring a Soviet political collapse which isn't likely to come before nukes and or anthrax start falling on Germany
  3. Simreeve Differently-Sane Scientist

    Apr 25, 2012
    Worthing, Sussex, England
    If Hitler (or whoever has his job instead in the TL...) had been just sane enough to make a genuine anti-Soviet alliance with Poland in 1939, and sent their forces east with Poland's consent & support, then Britain and France would probably have stayed out of the war altogether. Not having a 'Western Front' to worry about could possibly then have let the Germans (and Poles) hit the Russians that much earlier, while Stalin's purge of the Red Army was actually in progress, and....
  4. scourge Californian Patriot

    Oct 19, 2007
    Not being genocidal towards the anti-Soviet Slavs who saw the Nazis as liberators would be a start.
  5. Slowpoke Panned

    Mar 14, 2006
    Eastern 'Yurp
    Germany could never "defeat-defeat" the USSR. They would never be able to cross the Urals, and the Soviets would keep fighting on from beyond.

    And even if Hitler and his coterie weren't genocidal sociopaths they would've never been able to maintain order in the newly conquered lands.

    Had the German leadership not been monstrous butchers, the most they could've realistically achieved would've been the crumbing of the (de facto) Soviet Empire into a bunch of feuding ethnic republics via fanning the flames of nationalist revanchism.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  6. mekilldyou Active Member

    Apr 6, 2012
    I believe Germany could have more or less defeated the SU with a combination of WIs.

    -If the British are more successful in North Africa Italy might not attack Greece, and the country will most likely stay neutral. If the coup in Yougoslavia fails then Germany will probably be able to start Op.Barbarossa one or two month earlier, and with some luck they will be able to capture Moscow before winter. During the extra month of preparation they should produce winter equipment. However they'll most likely have to intervene in Yougoslavia soon or later, perhaps when the Allies invade Italy.

    -Maybe if they use local russian/ukrainian volunteer units for anti-partisan warfare and supply duties they will be able to put more men on the battlefield. Not so ASB actually, I remember a TL where Hitler is wounded after an attempt to assassinate him after Op. Barbarossa began, and he is forced to give up most of his duties. The less extreme elements of the nazi leadership are able to take control of the military affairs, and allow Vlassov and Bandera to set up Nationalist, pro-german governments in their respective countries.
    With some luck Vlassov might be able to stimulate Russian patriotism against the USSR.

    -With more support from Finland, Germany might be able to take Leningrad.

    -If the invasion of Iran is somehow delayed, Germany would have an important ally in the middle-east, and it would be easier for them to take Baku.

    -If no holocaust the Germans will probably use the "undesirables" for forced labour. Sure, many will die, but out of the 5 or 6 million some will prove useful.

    -Stalin's death would probably be disastrous for the soviet morale.

    -If the allies aren't successful in Normandy/Italy the Soviets might become incrasingly suspicious towards them due to their failure at opening a "second front". Thus the soviets might be tempted by signing a separate peace with the Germans, even if they view it as a temporary truce to reorganize the troops and rebuild supply lines. If it is favorable enough Germany will accept. Basically if the new border is the Urals, the SU is screwed (no industry, little population etc.)

    This brings interesting post war scenarios. The Germans will most likely give up their idea of Lebensraum after Hitler's death, and there would be two Russias. With limited resources and bad economic/political situation the USSR (and very limited foreign support due to Cold War) could collapse in the 60s or 70s. Reunification with Western pro-German Russia, or independant Siberia?
  7. Shaby Sontaran

    Sep 27, 2011
    Flagship "Undefeatable" of the Battlefleet Ib
    Italians attacked Greece well before UK could realistically do anything in North Africa.

    Two words: Hunger Plan. And it is not even Hitler's idea.

    Insignificant. Forces used to capture Leningrad will not be usable again for a year until they are reequiped and their losses replaced.

    I do not see this happening. Not even if Xerxes himself resurrected.

    Errr, hate to brake it to you, they did exactly that...

    Nope. Not in the amount that mattered.

    I do not see this with Hitler. If Germans win D-Day (impossible in its own right) and Hitler is assassinated, resultant chaos brings Soviets in Berlin by 1945.
  8. Snake Featherston Banned

    Jan 23, 2004
    Lake Charles, Louisiana
    Germany can't defeat the USSR in any WWII scenario under Hitler. He genuinely wanted a war fought balls to the wall between two totalitarian dictatorships, but Stalin's dictatorship had far more professionalism and rationality about it than Hitler's did, while Stalin's dictatorship also had a far greater ability to produce and wield the tools of mechanized warfare than Hitler's did. *If* we're talking somehow a scenario where it's Kaiser Wilhelm III v. the Soviet Union, the German Empire may well have a much better chance than the Nazis did. But to have the Wehrmacht pull off a major victory of this sort is Crack!TL territory. IOTL in WWII the Soviets had a material and conceptual advantage over every other Great Power belligerent in WWII, bolstered and augmented by US Lend-Lease that enabled them to pull off their grand mechanized operations of the last phase of the war. Next to Germany there is no phase at any point in WWII where the disparity is *more* favorable to them than it was in 1941, and in 1941 Germany's repeated grand victories at Minsk, Smolensk, and Kiev didn't suffice to make their primary objective, the annihilation of the Red Army, possible.

    At the same time there's a difference between the Soviets winning their war and raising the Hammer and Sickle over the Reichstag. The latter is not probable without the massive aid of the Allies in making up Soviet shortfalls in logistics and communication, a factor that will limit the USSR save in a scenario where the Nazis launch Barbarossa in the middle of their own logistical switches, meaning the casualties and destruction of grinding battles on the Soviet border collapse the Wehrmacht in large part.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  9. Snake Featherston Banned

    Jan 23, 2004
    Lake Charles, Louisiana
    And while Germany lacks a huge deal of the actual muscle it gained through those satellites on its northern and southern flanks, its tank park is even smaller than IOTL, and the USSR would not be caught by any surprise by an obvious anti-Soviet alliance of this nature.
  10. dropbearabroad Well-Known Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    As is pretty clearly pointed out above, Germany can only beat the USSR if you get rid of the Nazis. That would allow Germany to build a more rational government, economy and military, and make some powerful friends rather than alienating the types of allies they would need to beat the USSR (like the UK and France, Poles, Ukrainians etc). But a Nazi Germany is hamstrung by its own bizarre mindset and can only fail because no matter what congruence of individual factors you tilt their way the Soviets will still have the support of too many peoples who see the Nazis as being much worse. With the space, numbers and sheer determination that the Soviets had, that's too much for Nazi Germany to overcome.
  11. Catspoke Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    Germany can do stuff like increase armaments production in 40-41, play the battle of britain differently to reduce pilot losses, attack a couple of weeks earlier with a different balkan situation.

    The problem is if the Soviets get nervous and better connect the dots than OTL they will be better prepared for the invasion, perhaps even pulling back the bulk of their forces (and aircraft) into the interior, making the whole situation worse than OTL for Germany.

    After the invasion, try to find some people you can deal with as partners (Estonians and such). Ukrainians would be better if the Nazis can get over the whole Slav thing. Germany did this with the Croations so it is possible if Germany thinks it suits their interests (knew it was going to be hard and needed help).

    But if the Germans figure out its going to be real hard and risky and thus have to do all this prep work before hand they probably wouldn't invade and would have to do their Lebansraum in other places like the Poland, Balkans, Turkey etc... and would focus on Britain and the med.
  12. b12ox Banned

    May 19, 2012
    The Germans could not copmpletly destroy the Red Army. it was what Hitler was aiming at
    "i want to eliminate the oponents combat mobility once and for all with one giant blow"
    This led to time consuming operations withing Barbarossa. In theory it was a good plan. Germans guessed correctly that the weakest link in russian defence was unreadiness to fight modern war. They destroyed 20000 tanks within a couple of months. Russians were churning out thousnads upon thousnads of outdated tanks and artilery units and failed to relaise that on its own, without constant supply of fuel, spare parts they are useless. They destroyed most of russian tanks but that armor and without backup was not really what they should be worrying about that much. All they did was to show Russians where was the problem with their own war preperations.

    The best they could do was to concentrate all forces on two prong attack without delays on Moscow and Leningrad, in the south resorting to fake war. Bring the remaing divitions stationed in the west and attach them to army center, close off Leningrad and hit Moscow with all. Moscow would have had no time to get ready to surround the city with five rings, the troops from the far east would have had not arrived yet, Wermacht tanks would have had less technical problems in front of Moscow because they wouldn't have been used in Ukraine, winter still far away. These are just few easy to see benefits. If Moscow was gone, Leningrad would fell apart soon after as it held on food supply from Moscow. The rail Murmansk-Moscow with lend-lease would have been abandoned. I am not saying that would be enough, but Moscow and Leningrad were not far away. The targets were finite and clear, unlike endless landscape that make you walk in circles fighting the same battles again and again.
  13. ivanotter Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2011
    South Africa
    As Snake said: With Hitler it is not possible.

    Now, without Hitler: Goering probably wouldn't have strated such a war with USSR. HOWEVER, Communism was (maybe) the only thing he was serious about.

    So, Let's look at it with Hitler at the helm after all:

    1) Barbarossa in 1941 is the latest. 1942 will see USSR far better equipped
    2) Keep the US out of it!
    3) Get Ukraine and others for that matter on your side. Hitler missed a beat on that
    4) Get the Ural bomber operational in numbers
    5) Keep the ural bomber for USSR, not messing around over UK with it
    6) Winter preparations
    7) Build roads and railway lines ASAP
    8) Shoot Hitler in 1942 or 1943.

    PS: Was there a German attempt at shooting Stalin or was it a just a nice book I read some time ago?

  14. MattII Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    If the purge sees the death of many of the engineers working on new equipment then the Soviet rearmament is slowed down. The Germans were already doing their best, so the only way to even edge the scales in their favour would be to somehow make the Soviets do worse.
  15. modelcitizen note2self, no ranting ninjas

    Aug 12, 2008
    New Jersey
    I would imagine some kind of very effectively deployed WMD, chemical warfare or something that incapacitates or kills people on a very, very large scale would break resistance.

    It's interesting how WW1 saw all this gas being used, and yet in WW2 not even Hitler was breaking out the gas weapons afaik. (Gas chambers for genocide were an exception.)


    Basically, what if Hitler said, hell with it, hit the Russians with the nerve gas et al?

    That could break Russian resistance to an impactful degree.

    Edit: More stuff, scroll down to see nerve gas,
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  16. kclcmdr Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Could the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe be really to start Operation Barbarossa on June 1st, 1941 or June 7th, 1941... thus giving them at least three to two weeks of good combat weather to attack or was the Russian Rasputitsa still in effect during late May and early June???

    Or would the German air and ground units among with the supplies & fuel that was earmark for the Afrika Corps be instead be diverted to create another Panzer Corp and be used either by Army Group North Or South instead for the drive for either Leningrad or Rostov...?
  17. Delta Force Banned

    Nov 6, 2011
    What if they had used chemical and biological weapons on the Eastern front, especially in some of the city sieges? It would have opened that can of worms, but the Germans were much better equipped for that kind of warfare. At the start of the war the Soviets did not even have enough rifles to equip the forces they were rushing to the front, so they would be unlikely to even have enough gas masks, nonetheless full chemical warfare equipment.
  18. Shaby Sontaran

    Sep 27, 2011
    Flagship "Undefeatable" of the Battlefleet Ib
    No matter how much time Wehrmacht have, the Moscow is outside their envelope. They will be uterly exhausted and unable to capture the city defended by whatever Soviets scrap from the cupboard. And Soviets will defend it to the last bullet. Besides, German logistics cannot support drive to Moscow.
  19. RGB Corn Squared

    Jan 27, 2009
    Unceded Coastal Salish Lands
    This underlined-italic bit needs a source, and that source needs a source. An actual place, time, location, army unit number, etc.

    Yes, the troops often didn't have gas masks. Because they were generally seen as too heavy and useless and thrown away as soon as the officers looked somewhere else.
  20. MattII Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    In all probability, Britain responds with anthrax-cakes (Operation Vegetarian), which is going to wreck the Germans, and anyone else in the area.
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