Minimal PODs for Barbarossa to succeed taking Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov and holding the cities through winter

Barbarossa as conceived had an element of futility build into it, but on the other hand there are instances were Germany could have performed better, resulting less strain on the Germans which results in less opposition and so onward. Considering how close they got OTL it should be possible to get a little further, a little easier (not a lot further, because of logistics).
My favorite POD would be that they continue their drive on Leningrad rather than pausing in July, perhaps reinforced from the air and take Leningrad on the march coinciding with the OTL Finish offense.
What is your POD?
What’s your take on 1942 in this scenario?
 
I would say that most of those PODs would have to take place BEFORE Barbarossa starts. Maybe even before the invasion of Poland.
 
I would say that most of those PODs would have to take place BEFORE Barbarossa starts. Maybe even before the invasion of Poland.
Well, that certainly makes it easier.
However, there is a few more suggestions:
Quicker resolution in Greece so AGC has its panzers ready in time. Butterflies the diversion of AGC.
Quicker decision to end the BoB and maintain the Blitz as a smaller diversion (3000 planes and air crews lost at a time when Barbarossa was the strategic prize).
 
With German assistance, Stalin builds an autobahn from Brest-Litovsk to Moscow in 1940.

In an administrative error, the Afrika Corps is sent to Finland instead of Libya.
 
Last edited:
Minimal POD? Stalin decides to stick to the pre-war mobilization plans and do not plan for continuous rising of the new units for at least first two months. It will cause domino effect across the entire front around late September and early October when freshly created formations began to arrive to the front in OTL.
Of course it would be quite stupid for Stalin to decide so, but it is very much a minimal POD.
 
Barbarossa as conceived had an element of futility build into it, but on the other hand there are instances were Germany could have performed better, resulting less strain on the Germans which results in less opposition and so onward. Considering how close they got OTL it should be possible to get a little further, a little easier (not a lot further, because of logistics).
My favorite POD would be that they continue their drive on Leningrad rather than pausing in July, perhaps reinforced from the air and take Leningrad on the march coinciding with the OTL Finish offense.
What is your POD?
What’s your take on 1942 in this scenario?

Well, that certainly makes it easier.
However, there is a few more suggestions:
Quicker resolution in Greece so AGC has its panzers ready in time. Butterflies the diversion of AGC.
Quicker decision to end the BoB and maintain the Blitz as a smaller diversion (3000 planes and air crews lost at a time when Barbarossa was the strategic prize).
There's a fundamental misconception. More stuff doesn't always help, they can't supply the stuff they have, and the stuff they have is suffering attrition at a rate that means they cannot sustain the kind of forward motion you require. In terms of destroying Red army formations when they met them the Axis forces was already massively successful, but that is fundamentally not the right measure of success i.e Barbarossa didn't fail because the Axis struggled to kill the Red army when they met it*.

Taking Leningrad "on the march" without a protracted siege? It's a city of 2m people if it resists (and it will) you will need a huge force to take it without wearing it down first. And you still have the usual issues the German army is two armies, one panzer army that while fast is the minority of forces and brittle when not on the move. The rest are infantry that have to walk. Panzers can't take and hold a city (wrong force mix and not enough men). So to storm and hold Leningrad on the march you will need to somehow get enough infantry divisions there and in shape to do it and in time to follow your Panzer spear thrust into the city. This will mean either slowing your panzers down or parking them while they wait for the infantry to catch up , or somehow mechanizing a score of infantry Divs (and supplying that).

There's also a couple of questions about "My favorite POD would be that they continue their drive on Leningrad rather than pausing in July"

But they had to pause because they were advancing into huge area and had be forced spread their forces out**. Leib felt he needed 35 not 26 divs to avoid this so where do they come from how do you support them etc, etc. And that's just in order not to pause, we're not even talking about getting to, concentrating on and then taking Leningrad on the march.


Moscow same problem but further and approximately 2-3x bigger once they get there!

Rostov on Don is at least smaller than Leningrad and closer to the Axis starting point than Moscow.


But you want to do all this at the same time so you are still splitting your forces and having to sustain three advances with all the issues that entails.

On top of that you also have the fundamental difficulties that the Germans both underestimated the size of the Red army in June 1941, got were it was wrong, and massively underestimated the Red armies ability to mobilise reserves quickly and in huge numbers. Even if they have perfect intel on these three things it doesn't actaully help them because they will still have to deal with the reality of them.

The other big point to make is the German plan was not to beat the USSR by reaching points on a map it was to defeat the red army.


So for the axis to bum rush the USSR like this (and that is what we're talking about), you will need significantly more forces, which means you will need vastly more support for them in terms of resources and logistics (since they couldn't support the OTL advance as is even at the slower rate than what you are suggesting).

Forget freeing up some tanks from Greece a few weeks earlier or cutting BoB short to save some planes. You need something like not attacking western Europe first and concentrating solely on building up forces for a considerably larger Barbarossa and somehow working out how you can both man an invasion both larger than OTL Barbarossa, disproportionately better supported and resourced than OTL Barbarossa and more successful than OTL Barbarossa. Which remember couldn't even advance simultaneously on three fronts after a couple of months let alone reach and seize these cities all in six months. Remembering it's not just the manpower in the combat units and logistics formations but in the factories etc

But even then I'm not even sure Germany even on it's Jan 1940 borders and Nazi run economy concentrating solely on this can do this. So another way to go is to win and consolidate completely in the west and thus the Med/N. Africa as well and that includes beating Britain (see the dreaded sea lion). So maybe some big political POD like a fascist Britain. But of course the USSR will be seeing this and likely making their own POD's.

Another way to go is have the USSR considerably weaker compared to OTL so that the whole rotten edifice does collapse and there is little organised resistance by the time they get to these three cities. So maybe some new Soviet civil war/coup etc?


The big problem here is while the Axis beating the USSR is always going to be a massive stretch, your ATL goal it trying to do it faster.




*that 'when they met them' is the important distinction, because the plan was to find and destroy them. But when they thought they were meeting, finding and destroying the Red armies ability to fight, thanks to their failures they weren't


**In the west Germany invaded France and the Lowlands with 150ish Divs, they invaded the USSR with what 190-200ish including all Axis countries. But not only was France and the Lowlands a considerably smaller area to concentrate forces in and to fight in compared to western Russia. But on top of that the fighting was limited to a much smaller and thus concentrated sub area of that, and the armies they fought were smaller and famously it was over quickly.
 
Last edited:
There's a fundamental misconception. More stuff doesn't help, they can't supply the stuff they have, and the stuff they have is suffering attrition at a rate that means they cannot sustain the kind of forward motion you require. In terms of destroying Red army formations when they met them the Axis forces was already massively successful, but that is fundamentally not the right measure of success i.e Barbarossa didn't fail because the Axis struggled to kill the Red army when they met it*.
Well, they sorta did meet their goal, or as Franz Halder wrote in his diary (in august 1941):
It is becoming ever more apparent that the Russian colossus…. Has been underestimated by us…. At the start of the war we reckoned with about 200 enemy divisions. Now we have already counted 360… When a dozen have been smashed, then the Russian puts up another dozen.

They did destroy what they expected the Russians to have, they didn't expect the Russians to have more and being able to raise even more so fast.

So for starters, you probably need the Germans to not underestimate the Russians. And adjust their strategy. But I doubt that their strategy would then "capture Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov before winter", because even they would see that would be an uphill battle.

I think the results of Barbarossa were better than they could have expected with what they were working with. The encirclement at Kiev was the largest military victory ever. Usually that would have been enough. And by doing it, they kind of met their goal (destroying what they thought was the bulk of the Russian army), but then realized they hadn't won yet, and needed a backup plan. For which theit logistics were inadequate.
 
Well, they sorta did meet their goal, or as Franz Halder wrote in his diary (in august 1941):


They did destroy what they expected the Russians to have, they didn't expect the Russians to have more and being able to raise even more so fast.

So for starters, you probably need the Germans to not underestimate the Russians. And adjust their strategy. But I doubt that their strategy would then "capture Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov before winter", because even they would see that would be an uphill battle.

I think the results of Barbarossa were better than they could have expected with what they were working with. The encirclement at Kiev was the largest military victory ever. Usually that would have been enough. And by doing it, they kind of met their goal (destroying what they thought was the bulk of the Russian army), but then realized they hadn't won yet, and needed a backup plan. For which theit logistics were inadequate.
Yep

The problem is Barbarossa was about as big as they could manage and even then they couldn't support and sustain it, and they knew that which is why the plan was to win within the 8-12 weeks they could sustain it for. So if instead of thinking they have to defeat 200 Red army Divs in total and all within a couple of hundred miles of the border, but instead 360 divs with more being mobilised all the time and deployed in positions reaching back far further into Soviet territory. How can they do it? Like I said knowing the reality doesn't help them overcome it. Except maybe they decide to not do it at all, but ideology will get in the way here!
 
Last edited:
Yep

The problem is Barbarossa was about as big as they could manage in and even then they couldn't support and sustain it, and they knew that which is why the plan was to win within the 8-12 weeks they could sustain it for. So if instead of thinking they have to defeat 200 Red army Divs in total and all within a couple of hundred miles of the border, but instead 360 divs with more being mobilised all the time and deployed in positions reaching back far further into Soviet territory. How can they do it? Like I said knowing the reality doesn't help them overcome it. Except maybe they decide to not do it at all, but ideology will get in the way here!
Haldar magic "we take their capital and they'd have to give up". Hitler was the most realistic with his emphasis on economy; but he was severely lacking tactically and the generals wanted to either destroy the Red Army-again and again or drive on Moscow.

The most realistic pods requires Stalin to win it for the Nazis.
Wiking did many threads on this topic.
And refused to learn or concede a thing, seems boring to get into a citation match with
 
Last edited:
why post if they'd already made up their mind?
Besides the fact that his opinion did change over the years he explicitly posted threads concerning various PODs to get the opinions of others which is what happened and something that users of this site do every day. You’re allowed to have firm opinions on topics before you make threads about them to get input from others. They certainly were very informative (and entertaining) especially the debates with ObssesedNuker.
 
I have often wondered what would the impact be if the Germans had helped the Swedes build icebreakers to keep the iron ore trade flowing thru Sweden in the winter. The ice breakers would be Swedish ships to avoid British attacks. Would this eliminate the need to invade Denmark and Norway? Would the troops and equipment not used in Denmark and Norway have made a difference in the early days of the invasion of the SU?

Would having Denmark and Norway neutral allow Germany to import more food and supplies versus what they took during the war? If there was more food and supplies would it have made any difference in the war on the Eastern Front?
 
Besides the fact that his opinion did change over the years he explicitly posted threads concerning various PODs to get the opinions of others which is what happened and something that users of this site do every day. You’re allowed to have firm opinions on topics before you make threads about them to get input from others. They certainly were very informative (and entertaining) especially the debates with ObssesedNuker.
*Shrug* they do them, I'll take your word on that-only saw working from some threads. those two never seemed to have used the same sources; hard to debate when the facts are in dispute.
 
Haldar magic "we take their capital and they'd have to give up". Hitler was the most realistic with his emphasis on economy; but he was severely lacking tactically and the generals wanted to either destroy the Red Army-again and again or drive on Moscow.
Yep +1

Problem is it's a Catch22


A single concentrated drive to Moscow involved a single spearhead 1,300km long leaving huge amounts of enemy on both flanks*. OK so you can concentrate your logistics and mix of forces better so will have less delays from that but your infantry divisions still have to walk** there, so they can't get there that much faster. And what's the reward at the end of that march? A siege against a city of 4-6m (refugees depending) that the Soviets will see coming and prepare for. Oh and even if you can get a besieging force to Moscow by say Sep the weather's going to change and make running and supplying that siege pretty hard. And even if they get there without getting cut off, and take the place everything is built on the assumption the Soviets just give up at that point.

I.e. there's a reason why this idea was floated during planning and then rejected even by Halder (even if he suddenly dusted it off and championed it again when the decided upon plan failed).

or wide front attack as per OTL, and above. (although there are advantages to the wide front in theory, more disarray in the enemy, thrusts can support each other, all eggs not in one basket)


Thing is I can see why Halder went back to the drive on Moscow idea when the wide front plan had stalled/failed. But in doing so he never addressed any of the questions of the drive on Moscow idea and the Axis was already up to its eyes in the wide front war.



*and even as not great as the Red army is in June 1941 especially when dealing with fast moving German forces ploughing into them, that's not what is happening here on the flanks and they will not just sit there with their thumbs up their arses!


**ah but concentrate you panzer armies and leave it to them, don't worry about leaving the footsloggers behind, only:

1). The panzer armies are a small percentage of the overall forces

2). they will still need to be supplied (blitzkrieg is a resource hungry way to fight), but if they are moving fast they are out of support and have large amount of enemies on both flanks and if moving forward pretty soon behind them as well.

3). Even concentrated they will be suffering attrition after ploughing through 1,300km of resistance

4). All those infantry Divisions left behind are going to have to do without the Panzer armies, which is a problem because that complementary relationship between the two works in both directions.
 
Last edited:

Garrison

Donor
The problem is of course that if the Germans have a realistic assessment of Red army strength then they probably don't launch Barbarossa to begin with. Even in OTL there were plenty of German officers who knew it wouldn't work, but they all wound up righting glowing reports to Hitler about what a marvellous idea it was. When your entire plan rests on the premise 'kick in the door and the whole rotten edifice will collapse' the fine details become irrelevant when the Soviets simply refuse to comply with this wishful thinking.
 
I have often wondered what would the impact be if the Germans had helped the Swedes build icebreakers to keep the iron ore trade flowing thru Sweden in the winter. The ice breakers would be Swedish ships to avoid British attacks. Would this eliminate the need to invade Denmark and Norway? Would the troops and equipment not used in Denmark and Norway have made a difference in the early days of the invasion of the SU?

Would having Denmark and Norway neutral allow Germany to import more food and supplies versus what they took during the war? If there was more food and supplies would it have made any difference in the war on the Eastern Front?
If they don't take Noway there's a good change the allies will to both threaten Sweden and to cut of trade to Germany
 
There's a fundamental misconception. More stuff doesn't always help, they can't supply the stuff they have, and the stuff they have is suffering attrition at a rate that means they cannot sustain the kind of forward motion you require. In terms of destroying Red army formations when they met them the Axis forces was already massively successful, but that is fundamentally not the right measure of success i.e Barbarossa didn't fail because the Axis struggled to kill the Red army when they met it*.

Taking Leningrad "on the march" without a protracted siege? It's a city of 2m people if it resists (and it will) you will need a huge force to take it without wearing it down first. And you still have the usual issues the German army is two armies, one panzer army that while fast is the minority of forces and brittle when not on the move. The rest are infantry that have to walk. Panzers can't take and hold a city (wrong force mix and not enough men). So to storm and hold Leningrad on the march you will need to somehow get enough infantry divisions there and in shape to do it and in time to follow your Panzer spear thrust into the city. This will mean either slowing your panzers down or parking them while they wait for the infantry to catch up , or somehow mechanizing a score of infantry Divs (and supplying that).

There's also a couple of questions about "My favorite POD would be that they continue their drive on Leningrad rather than pausing in July"

But they had to pause because they were advancing into huge area and had be forced spread their forces out**. Leib felt he needed 35 not 26 divs to avoid this so where do they come from how do you support them etc, etc. And that's just in order not to pause, we're not even talking about getting to, concentrating on and then taking Leningrad on the march.


Moscow same problem but further and approximately 2-3x bigger once they get there!

Rostov on Don is at least smaller than Leningrad and closer to the Axis starting point than Moscow.


But you want to do all this at the same time so you are still splitting your forces and having to sustain three advances with all the issues that entails.

On top of that you also have the fundamental difficulties that the Germans both underestimated the size of the Red army in June 1941, got were it was wrong, and massively underestimated the Red armies ability to mobilise reserves quickly and in huge numbers. Even if they have perfect intel on these three things it doesn't actaully help them because they will still have to deal with the reality of them.

The other big point to make is the German plan was not to beat the USSR by reaching points on a map it was to defeat the red army.


So for the axis to bum rush the USSR like this (and that is what we're talking about), you will need significantly more forces, which means you will need vastly more support for them in terms of resources and logistics (since they couldn't support the OTL advance as is even at the slower rate than what you are suggesting).

Forget freeing up some tanks from Greece a few weeks earlier or cutting BoB short to save some planes. You need something like not attacking western Europe first and concentrating solely on building up forces for a considerably larger Barbarossa and somehow working out how you can both man an invasion both larger than OTL Barbarossa, disproportionately better supported and resourced than OTL Barbarossa and more successful than OTL Barbarossa. Which remember couldn't even advance simultaneously on three fronts after a couple of months let alone reach and seize these cities all in six months. Remembering it's not just the manpower in the combat units and logistics formations but in the factories etc

But even then I'm not even sure Germany even on it's Jan 1940 borders and Nazi run economy concentrating solely on this can do this. So another way to go is to win and consolidate completely in the west and thus the Med/N. Africa as well and that includes beating Britain (see the dreaded sea lion). So maybe some big political POD like a fascist Britain. But of course the USSR will be seeing this and likely making their own POD's.

Another way to go is have the USSR considerably weaker compared to OTL so that the whole rotten edifice does collapse and there is little organised resistance by the time they get to these three cities. So maybe some new Soviet civil war/coup etc?


The big problem here is while the Axis beating the USSR is always going to be a massive stretch, your ATL goal it trying to do it faster.




*that 'when they met them' is the important distinction, because the plan was to find and destroy them. But when they thought they were meeting, finding and destroying the Red armies ability to fight, thanks to their failures they weren't


**In the west Germany invaded France and the Lowlands with 150ish Divs, they invaded the USSR with what 190-200ish including all Axis countries. But not only was France and the Lowlands a considerably smaller area to concentrate forces in and to fight in compared to western Russia. But on top of that the fighting was limited to a much smaller and thus concentrated sub area of that, and the armies they fought were smaller and famously it was over quickly.

There is indeed a misconception here. IOTL they did take Rostov, they went beyond Leningrad and they were very close to Moscow, although admittedly, by the end it was clearly out of reach. Not a "bum rush"

Yep +1

Problem is it's a Catch22


A single concentrated drive to Moscow involved a single spearhead 1,300km long leaving huge amounts of enemy on both flanks*. OK so you can concentrate your logistics and mix of forces better so will have less delays from that but your infantry divisions still have to walk** there, so they can't get there that much faster. And what's the reward at the end of that march? A siege against a city of 4-6m (refugees depending) that the Soviets will see coming and prepare for. Oh and even if you can get a besieging force to Moscow by say Sep the weather's going to change and make running and supplying that siege pretty hard. And even if they get there without getting cut off, and take the place everything is built on the assumption the Soviets just give up at that point.

I.e. there's a reason why this idea was floated during planning and then rejected even by Halder (even if he suddenly dusted it off and championed it again when the decided upon plan failed).

or wide front attack as per OTL, and above. (although there are advantages to the wide front in theory, more disarray in the enemy, thrusts can support each other, all eggs not in one basket)


Thing is I can see why Halder went back to the drive on Moscow idea when the wide front plan had stalled/failed. But in doing so he never addressed any of the questions of the drive on Moscow idea and the Axis was already up to its eyes in the wide front war.



*and even as not great as the Red army is in June 1941 especially when dealing with fast moving German forces ploughing into them, that's not what is happening here on the flanks and they will not just sit there with their thumbs up their arses!


**ah but concentrate you panzer armies and leave it to them, don't worry about leaving the footsloggers behind, only:

1). The panzer armies are a small percentage of the overall forces

2). they will still need to be supplied (blitzkrieg is a resource hungry way to fight), but if they are moving fast they are out of support and have large amount of enemies on both flanks and if moving forward pretty soon behind them as well.

3). Even concentrated they will be suffering attrition after ploughing through 1,300km of resistance

4). All those infantry Divisions left behind are going to have to do without the Panzer armies, which is a problem because that complementary relationship between the two works in both directions.
IOTL they tried in three directions and lost steam just before they reached a strategically important good defensive position for the winter. The latter is what I am after.
One drive on Moscow has clear problems, wide front has clear problems, alternating between them - without a coherent strategy - has more problems.

Thats why I liked the original plan of first beating all the forces near the border, then take Leningrad which bags more Soviets, frees up own forces and improves logistics, before moving on Moscow.
 
Last edited:
There is indeed a misconception here. IOTL they did take Rostov,

I didn't say they didn't?

they went beyond Leningrad

But didn't come close to capturing by your allotted date

and they were very close to Moscow,

No not really, a few recon units of the advance Panzer force is not very close in any meaningful way


although admittedly, by the end it was clearly out of reach. Not a "bum rush"

No what you are suggesting would require a bum rush

IOTL they tried in three directions and lost steam just before they reached a strategically important good defensive position for the winter. The latter is what I am after.

You suggested Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov all by winter, I explained the difficulty of that

One drive on Moscow has clear problems, wide front has clear problems, alternating between them - without a coherent strategy - has more problems.

Thats why I liked the original plan of first beating all the forces near the border, then take Leningrad which bags more Soviets, frees up own forces and improves logistics, before moving on Moscow.
Only you making the same mistake the Germans did there are far more forces than those just near the border,

I'm not even sure what you are now suggesting though, taking out all the border forces would require the broad front. You now seem to be describing a narrow drive to Leningrad take Leningrad then on to Moscow? (what happened to Rostov). Which has all the issue of the single thrust but added distance and steps however you would at least secure you left flank though.

That is wide then narrow!

as for the rest you haven't addressed any of the specific points I posted
 
Last edited:
The only thing I can think of, and it is a massive stretch, is that Stalin comes down heavily on the generals, executing almost anyone who can be connected to events in June, July or August. He then puts himself and fellow henchmen without military experience in charge. They then conduct extremely deeply flawed offensive operations which result in basically walking into encirclements. This PoD is unlikely and if it happened it far from guarantees Moscow, Leningrad and Rostov are captured.
 
Top