If even one early encirclement in Barbarossa had been avoided, would the Soviets win a year early?

Hmm okay. So I guess that that encirclement wasn't as important as I had thought.

In the Battle of Smolensk, the Germans pierced the (broad) frontline in five locations and drove about 200km into the rear within days.
In such cases, you're bound to get a lot of pockets - as the Germans did at Smolensk, Roslavl, Mogilev, Nevel, Vitebsk and probably at numerous other smaller places.
But you're also bound to pick up a number of POW's simply because your roaming around deep in the enemy rear.

So the Germans might have gotten some additional POW 's in the battle of Smolensk if they had played their cards better.
Or they might have gotten a few less POW's if the Soviets had played their cards better.
But regardless, the Germans would have picked up a lot of POW in the battle because of the breath and depth of the advance in such a short timespan.
 

Deleted member 97083

In the Battle of Smolensk, the Germans pierced the (broad) frontline in five locations and drove about 200km into the rear within days.
In such cases, you're bound to get a lot of pockets - as the Germans did at Smolensk, Roslavl, Mogilev, Nevel, Vitebsk and probably at numerous other smaller places.
But you're also bound to pick up a number of POW's simply because your roaming around deep in the enemy rear.

So the Germans might have gotten some additional POW 's in the battle of Smolensk if they had played their cards better.
Or they might have gotten a few less POW's if the Soviets had played their cards better.
But regardless, the Germans would have picked up a lot of POW in the battle because of the breath and depth of the advance in such a short timespan.
Yeah, that's a good point as well. Army Group Center was going to get a lot of encirclements regardless due to the speed and breadth of their advance.

Of Army Group North or Army Group South, which one do you think the Soviets could slow the most?
 

Deleted member 1487

True. 1942/1943 D-Days are also mentioned quite a lot.
Among other things. Suggest a technical change and immediately someone will bring up "but what is the Allied counter, they will just figure something out to counter it".
The problem with the Soviets avoiding another pocket in 1941 is that they tried their utmost to stop it, but the problem is unless they retreated, which wasn't likely to turn out well and totally against what Stalin wanted or could really tolerate given the loss of civilian populations, resource areas, and industry, then its really on the Germans about how the pocket battles went. If the Soviets stand and fight as hard as possible, then you get OTL without any chance to stop the pockets; they can only avoid them if they pull back in time...which means ceding a lot of ground and probably heavy equipment to the Germans.

Or they might have gotten a few less POW's if the Soviets had played their cards better.
That's the point I've having trouble coming up with, how can the Soviets given up fewer except by withdrawing?
 
Avoiding the Kiev pocket would do it and is pretty simple. Just have Stalin permit a pull back in late August. The only real question there is how to change Stalin's mind.
 
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Does WW2, or history in general, afford any examples of pockets that successfully broke out or were rescued? I may be missing something, but as far as I can remember, encirclement always leads to the surrender of the encircled troops. It seems a disease that can be prevented but never cured.

A number of examples, large and small. The Falaise pocket is a example from the western front. Approximately 50,000 Germans managed to escape through the weakly held neck. Dunkirk was a pocket the Germans tried to close with air attacks, and failed. A few days earlier the French 1st Army managed to evacuate the Lille Pocket along a single highway & reach the coast. In 1945 the Germans pulled off a 'Dunkirk', evacuating a portion of the army pocketed in east Prussia. In December 1944 a mix of US infantry and armored battle groups managed to evacuate the St Vith Salient along a single road, then repeat the evacuation as the Germans tried to close the 'Fortified Goose Egg'

These are examples where advantage was taken of a narrow escape route that remained open.

On a smaller scale Battle Group Peiper was pocketed by the US Army at or near Trois Ponts Belgium. Abandoning their vehicles and artillery the SS men managed to exfiltrate the pocket with maybe half escaping. In 1940 a number of French soldiers overrun and surrounded infiltrated in small groups or individually south from the 9th Army positions along the Meuse River.

The Bastogne pocket was relieved by a counter attack, but not evacuated. On the eastern front there were some examples of pocketed corps size groups of German soldiers relieved by counter attacks, that allowed evacuation or retreat of the formerly trapped units.
 

A number of examples, large and small. The Falaise pocket is a example from the western front. Approximately 50,000 Germans managed to escape through the weakly held neck. Dunkirk was a pocket the Germans tried to close with air attacks, and failed. A few days earlier the French 1st Army managed to evacuate the Lille Pocket along a single highway & reach the coast. In 1945 the Germans pulled off a 'Dunkirk', evacuating a portion of the army pocketed in east Prussia. In December 1944 a mix of US infantry and armored battle groups managed to evacuate the St Vith Salient along a single road, then repeat the evacuation as the Germans tried to close the 'Fortified Goose Egg'

These are examples where advantage was taken of a narrow escape route that remained open.

On a smaller scale Battle Group Peiper was pocketed by the US Army at or near Trois Ponts Belgium. Abandoning their vehicles and artillery the SS men managed to exfiltrate the pocket with maybe half escaping. In 1940 a number of French soldiers overrun and surrounded infiltrated in small groups or individually south from the 9th Army positions along the Meuse River.

The Bastogne pocket was relieved by a counter attack, but not evacuated. On the eastern front there were some examples of pocketed corps size groups of German soldiers relieved by counter attacks, that allowed evacuation or retreat of the formerly trapped units.

The Soviets also managed to break forces out of repeated pockets in mid-'42 during Operation Blau, although they rarely made it out as combat viable fomations. I can give more specific examples when I get home and locate my copy of Glantz's book on the subject.

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"Danilov’s 21st Army and Shurov’s 13th Tank Corps suffered an even more tragic fate [then 40th army]. Unable to even slow Sixth Army’s furious advance northeastward, Danilov ordered his forces to begin their breakout westward toward the Oskol River early on 1 July. Danilov employed Shurov’s tank corps, which had already lost more than half of its 163 tanks, both as a battering ram to penetrate through Paulus’ cordon of infantry, and as a shield to protect the army’s escape. After a running two-day fight, during which Shurov was mortally wounded and two brigade commanders perished, the remnants of Danilov’s army reached the Oskol River near Chernianka late on 2 July. Once along the Oskol, Danilov’s forces, also organized in small groups, tried to escape by exploiting the gap between Paulus’ advancing infantry divisions farther to the south. Like Parsegov’s 40th Army — losing more than half its men and all the equipment during its retreat to the Don and Tikhaia Sosna Rivers — Danilov’s army was no longer a viable combat force." - David Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, Page 139.
 
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Does WW2, or history in general, afford any examples of pockets that successfully broke out or were rescued? I may be missing something,

Yes, you may. Try looking up "sieges" first.
For WWII, look up Tobruk, Leningrad, Bastogne, Imphal to start with; deliberately chosen from different theaters.
 
If the Soviets had escaped just one of the major early encirclements in Barbarossa, such as Bialystok-Minsk, Smolensk, Luga, Galacia, Kiev, or Vyazma-Bryansk, and saved most of those troops, tanks, and guns to continue to bog down and slow the German invasion which was already overstretched by late August 1941--then would the Soviet Union and Allies have won in 1944 or earlier?
I doubt saving any pocket would mean winning a year earlier. A lot of the tanks and equipment captured in these pockets were old out of date equipment. The manufacturing for the new equipment was only coming on line. That said I do think that saving a major pocket could well be worth 3 to 6 months depending in which pocket you are talking about.
 

Redbeard

Banned
A lot of the materiel lost in the pockets would only be a liability on the battlefields of the coming years but I do wonder if a few extra hundreds of thousands of personnel with at least basic training and some combat experience would make a difference in 1942?

The 1941 units performed surprisingly bad, also those units will a close to 100% TOE. A few of the Mechanised Corps were close to 100% of their TOE strength in personnel and equipment, which should have made them the strongest military units on the Planet, but they still melted away after a few days of combat. In that context the personnel of the "old army" would not have much with which to contribute, unless of course they had leaned a lot. In general I think the Soviets had a learning curve as steep as any, and it is surprising how much more fighting power the Red Army could show from late 1941 to late 1942.

The next question is however, how much less encirclement you need in 1941 before the Wehrmacht loose any hope of concluding the campaign in 1941? When the OTL "Mud-season" started in October the Wehrmacht still believed it just needed the frost of November to finish the job, but what if they by October instead go for preparing a winter dig-in? The next spring the Red Army will be stronger in personnel but production is still only starting up in the Urals, but the Wehrmacht also be without the losses and traumatic experience of the OTL winter 1941-42.

IMHO the Red Army was in a very critical phase in first half of 1942 and some hundreds of thousands of extra personnel would have helped little against a 1942 Wehrmacht not shaken by the winter. The big question still is however, how much it would take for the Wehrmacht, and not at least Hitler, to see that the campaign couldn't be concluded in 1941. For speaks that Hitler still hasn't taken over direct command, against that he might anytime intervene, and perhaps already has when one of the encirclements is missing.
 
I doubt saving any pocket would mean winning a year earlier. A lot of the tanks and equipment captured in these pockets were old out of date equipment. The manufacturing for the new equipment was only coming on line. That said I do think that saving a major pocket could well be worth 3 to 6 months depending in which pocket you are talking about.

Avoiding the Kiev pocket could very much lead to the war ending a year or even two (if the Soviets get very lucky) not just because of the extra men and equipment (which really was of mixed quality and even the old stuff could still be made use of... plus, trucks. Trucks are almost always useful) but because of what it does to the advance of AGS. The destruction of the Southwestern Front OTL essentially laid the entirety of Eastern Ukraine bare despite the fact that AGS's logistics were utterly crippled by the destruction of bridges over the mid-lower D'niepr. The Soviets simply weren't able to muster the forces needed to stop them for several months. If the Southwestern Front falls back to the base of the Kiev salient in August 1941, then AGS's ability to advance into the Donbass and Kharkov industrial regions against such resistance is poor.

Retaining these regions is a big deal for the Soviets. Despite the evacuation of industry that was deemed war essential, not everything that could be evacuated was and there was a lot that couldn't be moved. And what was moved couldn't produce while being moved and had to be brought back up to speed once moved, which took awhile, and deal with all sorts of dislocations in terms of lost supporting industries and raw materials. We're talking a big chunk of Soviet ammunition production, a lot of tractor and vehicle factories that could be making tanks or other vehicles, chemical industries, and so-on. If the Soviets retain Kharkov and don't have to evacuate the massive T-34 facility there in '41, then that's potentially as much as an additional 1,000 T-34s for the Soviets in 1941 alone. Retaining the Donbas could possibly prevent the famine in heavy ammunition that occurred in the Winter of '41/'42 which hamstrung Soviet artillery. Retention of East Ukraine and Southwestern Russia also leaves the Soviets in possession of a lot more potential manpower, their richest agricultural lands, and their single largest source of raw and smelted materials (iron, coal, copper, bauxite, aluminum, steel, etc).

The other big deal is what this means if AGC proceeds to go for Moscow as per OTL, which is a reasonable assumption given the German obsession with dealing a knockout blow before Christmas, it will do so with a even more grossly exposed southern flank then it possessed OTL. The straightening of the line by Southwestern Front's withdrawal would allow it to pull an army or two out if the line that could then be transferred to join in the Soviet winter counteroffensive against this flank, as could Soviet forces that historically had to be used to patch up the hole left by the destruction of the Southwestern Front. Given how close AGC came to catastrophe on a tide-turning scale OTL, having a more overexposed front get struck by even larger Soviet forces could very well lead to the sort of encirclement the Soviets sought that winter... the sort which decisively shifts the war in their favor.
 
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