How easy would it be for Germany to capture Moscow in 1941?

There are lots of posts here where Moscow falls to the Germans in 1941 and Germany blithely conquers the rest of European Russia. But how hard would it have been for Germany to capture and hold Moscow and how would this effort impact on its 1942 campaigns?
1. The logistics are much better and the pincer maneuvers succeed in surrounding Moscow. Would the Germans try to capture the city or merely wait for it starve or surrender?
2. Slightly better logistics enable the Germans to enter Moscow on one front only.
I am assuming that if the Germans attack Moscow, street fighting occurs, potentially on a level similar to Stalingrad.
 
There are lots of posts here where Moscow falls to the Germans in 1941 and Germany blithely conquers the rest of European Russia. But how hard would it have been for Germany to capture and hold Moscow and how would this effort impact on its 1942 campaigns?
1. The logistics are much better and the pincer maneuvers succeed in surrounding Moscow. Would the Germans try to capture the city or merely wait for it starve or surrender?
2. Slightly better logistics enable the Germans to enter Moscow on one front only.
I am assuming that if the Germans attack Moscow, street fighting occurs, potentially on a level similar to Stalingrad.
Debate often involves the pros and cons of the 'Kiev Pocket' - leave it and does it become a thorn in your side, or as you advance it's left further and further behind.
Can the attacking forces be supplied enough beforehand, if the 'drive south' didn't occur? Could Guderian go for a right hook - in order to provoke a retreat?
I wouldn't assume, apart from NKVD detachments that Moscow street fighting as per Stalingrad can be taken for granted. There was some dissent against the communists, and a feeling of despair, and hopelessness is quite possible. The fighting in Stalingrad happened because the Russians controlled the east bank, there already had a history of fighting back at the gates of Moscow etc. If the Germans can get into Moscow before the snows come - then who knows.
 
Taking of Moscow in 1941=STUPPENDOULY difficult for a multitude of logistical, operational and strategic reasons. Note that I do not say impossible. Merely insanely challenging. It is an equation in which "easy" does not appear.
 
Robert Forczyk's Moscow 1941: Hitler's First Defeat:

"By 15 October, 1st Panzer Division was approaching towards Torshok- i.e. moving away from Moscow! The forces dispatched to Kalinin were insufficient to achieve to achieve a decisive victory on their own, but the diversion seriously weakened the main push on Moscow and forced the Third Panzer Army to devote significant resources to a protracted attritional fight around Kalinin. If XLI Panzer Corps had pushed east towards Volokolamsk, the Germans might have been able to prevent Zhukov from establishing a new line east of Moscow."​
By the time in question Zhukov had only 90,000 troops spread out over a single defensive line before Moscow, with only limited NKVD security troops in Moscow itself so the city was virtually undefended once the Germans bust through Zhukov's line.
 
Robert Forczyk's Moscow 1941: Hitler's First Defeat:

"By 15 October, 1st Panzer Division was approaching towards Torshok- i.e. moving away from Moscow! The forces dispatched to Kalinin were insufficient to achieve to achieve a decisive victory on their own, but the diversion seriously weakened the main push on Moscow and forced the Third Panzer Army to devote significant resources to a protracted attritional fight around Kalinin. If XLI Panzer Corps had pushed east towards Volokolamsk, the Germans might have been able to prevent Zhukov from establishing a new line east of Moscow."​
By the time in question Zhukov had only 90,000 troops spread out over a single defensive line before Moscow, with only limited NKVD security troops in Moscow itself so the city was virtually undefended once the Germans bust through Zhukov's line.
Also the weather was a problem. According to Niklas Zetterling, the onset of the Raputista was critical in slowing down/stopping the German advance:
Niklas Zetterling said:
The Drive on Moscow 1941[/I], 188-191]
Given the ease with which the Germans broke through at the start of
Operation Taifun, it seems unlikely that the Red Army would have coped better
along the Mozhaisk Line without some new advantages. It is, however, difficult
to see any improvement to the Soviet defense when comparing the situation in
mid-October with the defenses at the end of September. To the contrary, the
defenses were weaker and in many ways the conditions were worse. As the
Germans easily broke through during the first week of October, it would have
required considerably improved Soviet defenses to stop the Germans in mid-
October, had the conditions remained unchanged.
...
It is hard to accept any conclusion other than that the weather seriously
impeded German efforts during the second half of October. Nothing suggests that
the Soviet defenders were in a better position to repel a strong German attack
than they had been on October 1, had the weather remained favorable to
offensive operations.
 
Also the weather was a problem. According to Niklas Zetterling, the onset of the Raputista was critical in slowing down/stopping the German advance:
If the Soviet defensive line is prevented, 2nd SS Division and 10th Panzer were busy seizing an all weather road straight to Moscow at Borodino when 32nd Rifle managed to disrupt this. On the overall strategic level, this point is why I think the Balkan Campaigns are so decisive. The late Spring had meant flooded waters prevented an offensive before June 10th, but even a start date then would, as you note, mean almost two weeks of additional Pre-Raputisa fighting weather.
 
I think the Balkan Campaigns are so decisive. The late Spring had meant flooded waters prevented an offensive before June 10th, but even a start date then would, as you note, mean almost two weeks of additional Pre-Raputisa fighting weather.
Off hand I think the Balkan campaign cost the Germans six-weeks delay, but as you say even without it - it would not have been wise to go in early May! Surprised though you only give them two weeks rather say three! Mind you we could go further back and have in '39 the dividing line in Poland further east i.e. not 50/50 but more like 75/25!
But more plausible IMHO is going for Moscow and not being derailed by Hitler's whims - maybe he is taken ill.
 
I think it hinges on when Barbarossa kicked off. If forces hadn't been despatched to shore up the Italians in Greece and Albania it would have allowed the Germans another month of good weather and mudless roads to achieve their objectives, also it would have been even easier if Hitler was not constantly changing objectives and direction of the attack. I think Moscow could be taken, there was a feeling of shock prevalent in the Soviet bureaucracy and leadership, Stalin was certainly nervous enough to think about and plan an evacuation of the city, if he left it would all be over bar the sporadic gunfire. If the Germans got there early enough I think they would likely take the city with a lot less resistance than they had at Stalingrad and Leningrad

Whether the Germans could continue to hold the city is a different question heading into 1942/3 I don't know.
 
Taking it would be the "easy" part - holding it longer than one winter would be the hard part. I would put it that the Russians would expend every bullet and man to retake Moscow - they did for Stalingrad in IRL = and that was just a minor Russian city. Then we must contend on the famous General Mid-Winter turning the gasoline into jelly - which will give partisans the ability to cut the supply lines = which happened in IRL.
 
Also the weather was a problem. According to Niklas Zetterling, the onset of the Raputista was critical in slowing down/stopping the German advance:
Yet German forces reached Kalinin, which was just as far a journey as to Moscow from where they started, given they had to go off road to slip around Soviet forces to get there. If they headed east instead, using a road north of the main highway that was one of the least defended direct paths to Moscow, they could have pushed into the city at the same time IOTL they got to Kalinin. I can post some maps later.

Taking it would be the "easy" part - holding it longer than one winter would be the hard part. I would put it that the Russians would expend every bullet and man to retake Moscow - they did for Stalingrad in IRL = and that was just a minor Russian city. Then we must contend on the famous General Mid-Winter turning the gasoline into jelly - which will give partisans the ability to cut the supply lines = which happened in IRL.
Theoretically yes, but the means to do so didn't exist yet especially with the likely exodus of over 1 million people from the city to escape the invaders, which would put them directly in the path of any reinforcements incoming to try and take back the city. The longer it takes the less likely the Soviets are to take it back given that attacking from the East means they are coming from the low ground. Plus you have to figure that the city, if not wrecked by the NKVD, which it probably won't be able to be given the POD posited above, the Germans get all sorts of huge goodies, including the food stocks, supplies, industry, rail stations, rolling stock, land line communications, and most important of all: the paved, heated air fields of the city.

Ironically general winter hurt the Soviets vastly more than the Germans. Like 10:1 casualties (the below table I think leaves out non-combat Soviet losses, because it's lower than the official Russian casualty reports, German numbers are consistent with total losses I've seen elsewhere, frostbite losses for them were actually a lot lower than you'd think based on the narratives about 'General Winter'):
East Front Casualties
Losses By quarter
QuarterGermanSovietRatio
19421q42280,2381,686,3556.02


Casualties 1941–1945 According to Field Reports[46]
DescriptionIrrecoverable lossesWounded & sickTotal losses
1942 1st Q675,3151,179,4571,854,772

Also Stalingrad was certainly not just a minor Soviet city, it bore the name of Stalin and was defended so heavily because it was such a symbol and marked the point at which the Soviets could no longer retreat without starting a collapse of their economy. But then 1942 was not 1941.

Partisans did not really hurt German supply lines in 1941, they took until 1942 to get organized once Moscow was saved and they could be supported from the city.
 
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If the goal is to take Moscow in 1941, Army Group Center needed to be prioritized over North and especially South. If Moscow is as important as many think, won't matter having large Soviet Formation(s) in Ukraine.
 
If the goal is to take Moscow in 1941, Army Group Center needed to be prioritized over North and especially South. If Moscow is as important as many think, won't matter having large Soviet Formation(s) in Ukraine.
I think both options have their individual merits. Although I think a lot of then critism of going for the Ukraine first is because it was Hitler's idea and has been used by the German generals as a convenient excuse to blame Hitler for losing the war. while at the same time protecting the generals reputations.
 
I think both options have their individual merits. Although I think a lot of then critism of going for the Ukraine first is because it was Hitler's idea and has been used by the German generals as a convenient excuse to blame Hitler for losing the war. while at the same time protecting the generals reputations.
We do have all the documentation about what happened in terms of decision making, Ukraine and Leningrad were what Hitler wanted, not his generals and he overruled them. Some defected due to corruption (Guderian), but few were interested in going after Ukraine and Leningrad over Moscow
 
I wonder what would/could have happened if Zhukov was killed - either flying accident, or shot down. Either before taking up command at Leningrad, or later Moscow?
 
I wonder what would/could have happened if Zhukov was killed - either flying accident, or shot down. Either before taking up command at Leningrad, or later Moscow?
I don't think he'd have mattered that much around Moscow, but around Leningrad he supposedly saved the city from falling by controlling a panicking Voroshilov, who was trying to scuttle the fleet, thinking the city was about to fall.
 
If the invasion started at the beginning of June, or perhaps on June 10th, they likely miss the Rasputitsa common in May, and potentially will have the ability to get into Moscow in October holding all other things constant.

I think the Kiev diversion was necessary and was actually quite the success. The offensives near Moscow could have worked despite the logistical problems and weather problems perhaps without the diversion to Kalinin.

The question is, do the Germans if they capture Moscow end up being able to keep it? The Soviets brought up the reserve armies for the counterattack and would have been able to do so in this TL as well, and the Germans were at the end of their logistical tail as things stood.

Another big question is the impact of Fuhrer Directive 33 on the ability to advance during the Smolensk campaign. German generals were routinely frustrated that they couldn't advance east even without the dispatched Panzer groups, as they were getting the better of the combat at Smolensk and it wasn't even close, and small scale local encirclements were not enough to satiate their offensive drive. I think if at Smolensk, the Germans allowed for some eastwards movement before the end of the Kiev encirclement reduction, it would have helped push them closer to starting Typhoon from a position where they would get more momentum to take Moscow. Kiev was a great victory for the Germans, but it also was such a massive encirclement that it took longer to reduce the pockets than perhaps they would have preferred.

Finally, I wonder if the slow progress in the South that necessitated the Kiev diversion to begin with could have been prevented perhaps with more reserve forces deployed to Army Group South. The Pripyat Marshes and Carpathians made progress slow, but perhaps, the Germans would have been better suited to concentrate more of their forces in Romania and achieve a breakthrough in Bessarabia and Southern Ukraine while leaving the Soviet forces deployed farther north, which had well equipped Mechanized and Armor units, to be reduced in a strategic level encirclement in concert with Army Group Centre at the beginning of the invasion. Perhaps if this was the case, Hitler may not have needed to deploy Army Group Centre's Panzer formations for the Kiev diversion, and instead, the threat to the flank of AGC would have been reduced early on. This may be a poor analysis of the situation, however.
 
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I don't think he'd have mattered that much around Moscow, but around Leningrad he supposedly saved the city from falling by controlling a panicking Voroshilov, who was trying to scuttle the fleet, thinking the city was about to fall.
Methinks it might be time for you to start another Typhoon in September thread...
 
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