Reverse Barbarossa: How far do the Soviets reach?

In 1941, the Russians launch a full-scale invasion of Germany just before they could kickstart Barbarossa. How far can the Soviets reach before if they're ever stopped?
 
So you got a Wehrmacht that has been building up for barbarossa, versus a Red army that is disorganized, scattered and only partially mobilized.

Yeah. Talking about motivation to reach Moscow. Germans are going to absolutely swamp the invasion.

Soviets weren't prepared for an attack in 1941, instead building up to potentially attack next year or even a year later. If they were at all.
 
So, an army that's not ready for war charges into three million men on the border...

That's not going to end well for the Soviets.

This also assumes the Germans somehow do not see the preparations that would be necessary to launch offensives towards Europe.
 
So, an army that's not ready for war charges into three million men on the border...

That's not going to end well for the Soviets.

This also assumes the Germans somehow do not see the preparations that would be necessary to launch offensives towards Europe.
Maybe if Hitler sends the Panzers after the Persian Gulf oilfields via Turkey, Syria and Persia (Hitler lulled into a false belief that Stalin is a trustworthy ally)the Soviets do "Operation Nevsky" but in 1941 the Red Army is unfit for offensive operations. If Stalin waits until 1942 or 1943 then it might be a different story.....
 
Stalin would never have countenanced an attack on Germany when the Red Army was half-mobilized and half-prepared as it was in 1941. The Finnish disaster occurred for precisely that reason, an attack off the march with half-mobilized reservists. Stalin had learned his lesson and was insistent that the Red Army be fully prepared for the next conflict it fought - and he received endless documents detailing how unready it was to go to war in 1941 (See Sorokin, Оборонно-промышленный комплекс СССР накануне Великой Отечественной войны).

Anyway, for the question, the Red Army 2 big problems in 1941 (Which overlap between the two):

1. Structural problems - low training/command quality, technical support for units (Vehicle repair, radios, etc.), and provision of material (Shell shortages, obsolete tanks and aircraft, lack of AT ammunition, etc.).

2. Situational problems - divisions only partially mobilized, in the process of transitioning to 1941 defensive deployments (As Glantz helpfully says, not deployed to attack or defend), all forces unprepared to receive a sudden attack (Munitions not properly distributed/hidden, aircraft undispersed, low readiness in frontline units, etc.) which were compounded by the loss of major supply depots and high quality units/equipment in the border districts and extreme distress to the mobilization/railway transport plan caused by invasion, evacuation, and mobilization, etc.

Problem #1 can only be fixed 10%, perhaps not at all, by a mobilization under more relaxed, peacetime conditions with the aim of launching an offensive. Soviet industry was working overtime to provide the needed equipment and the military was trying to adjust to its expansion as best it could.

Problem #2 however is, if not eliminated, certainly reduced in severity by 90% for the first weeks of the war. This shouldn't be understated - you're going to see much better Soviet performance in July-August 1941 if June 1941 isn't so comprehensively horrific.
 
Maybe if Hitler sends the Panzers after the Persian Gulf oilfields via Turkey, Syria and Persia (Hitler lulled into a false belief that Stalin is a trustworthy ally)the Soviets do "Operation Nevsky" but in 1941 the Red Army is unfit for offensive operations. If Stalin waits until 1942 or 1943 then it might be a different story.....

via Turkey huh? Been playing Hearts Of Iron too much right?

That just creates more problems, really serious problems for the Germans.
 
As I have understood it, Stalin was on the one hand fully aware that the red Army was unprepared, but on the other hand fully invested in attack as the best defence. So if Stalin expect a German attack (many PODS possible), then a soviet first strike might be possible.
 

Geon

Donor
If Stalin does attack first, it will be his worst and probably last mistake. As noted the Soviet Army - ill trained and ill prepared - will be going up against the well-trained well-prepared Wehrmacht. By the end of 1941 the Soviet Army will be driven back to Moscow and will be on the verge of defeat and Stalin will likely be dead, shot by either one of the generals or possibly Molotov or Khrushchev.
 
As I have understood it, Stalin was on the one hand fully aware that the red Army was unprepared, but on the other hand fully invested in attack as the best defence. So if Stalin expect a German attack (many PODS possible), then a soviet first strike might be possible.

I disagree, while Stalin talked about the offensive repeatedly as the ultimate goal of any campaign his focus in the leadup to 1941 was on fixed fortifications and groups of covering forces to protect mobilization to support a counteroffensive. For example, Stalin's handwritten corrections to/comments on Timoshenko's December 1940 report on the Western campaign of 1940 repeatedly stressed that the Maginot Line wasn't penetrated, only outflanked, and that fortifications at emphatically not been rendered obsolete. Stalin repeatedly emphasized the importance of fortifications in this report and the key role they would play in shielding Soviet forces for a counteroffensive. In February 1941 the Soviet fortification budget was doubled to 1.2 billion rubles for the actual emplacements and fieldwork, not counting artillery and munitions! MGs and artillery pieces were stripped from rear units and reserve stocks in June 1941 to bring fortifications up to strength.

For covering troops, it should be kept in mind that Stalin believed that, as in WW1, mobilization and deployment for war would occur after a formal declaration. Therefore, at the start of the war, corps and other units would need to be deployed forward to protect the mobilization of the main body of the army. While this forward deployment was intended to be aggressive and carry the war onto foreign territory if possible to disrupt the enemy's mobilization, it was reactive rather than preemptive in nature. Stalin did receive proposals for a preemptive attack based on intelligence of Germany's mobilization and rejected them IOTL. Given how aware Stalin was of the poor state of the Red Army's mobilization, countenancing an "off the cuff" attack similar to Finland in 1939 wasn't on the cards.
 
does it make "Uncle Joe" a little less popular in Western eyes? (not that he was particularly popular, and my question does not mean to imply AH would become more popular as a result)

it is a little confusing to me, the UK wants the help but not for the Soviets to sweep across Europe, so do they calibrate their aid to the Soviets based on the situation as it is playing out? or is that too clever and they need to support them with all available resources?
 
I disagree, while Stalin talked about the offensive repeatedly as the ultimate goal of any campaign his focus in the leadup to 1941 was on fixed fortifications and groups of covering forces to protect mobilization to support a counteroffensive. For example, Stalin's handwritten corrections to/comments on Timoshenko's December 1940 report on the Western campaign of 1940 repeatedly stressed that the Maginot Line wasn't penetrated, only outflanked, and that fortifications at emphatically not been rendered obsolete. Stalin repeatedly emphasized the importance of fortifications in this report and the key role they would play in shielding Soviet forces for a counteroffensive. In February 1941 the Soviet fortification budget was doubled to 1.2 billion rubles for the actual emplacements and fieldwork, not counting artillery and munitions! MGs and artillery pieces were stripped from rear units and reserve stocks in June 1941 to bring fortifications up to strength.

For covering troops, it should be kept in mind that Stalin believed that, as in WW1, mobilization and deployment for war would occur after a formal declaration. Therefore, at the start of the war, corps and other units would need to be deployed forward to protect the mobilization of the main body of the army. While this forward deployment was intended to be aggressive and carry the war onto foreign territory if possible to disrupt the enemy's mobilization, it was reactive rather than preemptive in nature. Stalin did receive proposals for a preemptive attack based on intelligence of Germany's mobilization and rejected them IOTL. Given how aware Stalin was of the poor state of the Red Army's mobilization, countenancing an "off the cuff" attack similar to Finland in 1939 wasn't on the cards.
I dont think you can use the rejection of a pre-emptive strike in OTL as an argument. Stalin clearly didn’t believe the Germans would attack. Counterattack would be necessary if the Germans attacked first. Whether he would prefer pre-emptive or counterattack if given the choice is unknown.
 
The soviets suffered huge losses in OTL Barbarossa. Even if they suffer the same level of losses in a reverse Barbarossa, they don't loose as much ground in the initial stages,
Even if the situation in terms of forces is about the same as OTL in December 1941, the front line will not be. Both sides are in a better logistical situation in 1942, the soviets because they lost less territory, people and production capability, the Axis because they have shorter lines and have fought a less demanding war from a logistical POV.
 
This only makes sense if you had a POD where there is no German push through the Ardennes and the Western Front gets bogged down so most of the German army is stuck there in summer 1941. If it's as OTL until early 1941, a far better move would be to start mobilizing more troops, restoring recently dismantled fortifications like the Stalin line, ect. as well as cutting off exports to Germany.
 
I dont think you can use the rejection of a pre-emptive strike in OTL as an argument. Stalin clearly didn’t believe the Germans would attack. Counterattack would be necessary if the Germans attacked first. Whether he would prefer pre-emptive or counterattack if given the choice is unknown.
Stalin clearly didn’t believe the Germans would attack....in June 1941.

That's the point Julian was trying to make. Not that he (Stalin) didn't believe they would attack at all.
 
Stalin clearly didn’t believe the Germans would attack....in June 1941.

That's the point Julian was trying to make. Not that he (Stalin) didn't believe they would attack at all.
That is understood, and thats what I meant. My point stands that the rejection of attack in OTL summer of 1941 doesnt mean the Soviets wouldnt attack if they were certain the Germans would.
 
I dont think you can use the rejection of a pre-emptive strike in OTL as an argument. Stalin clearly didn’t believe the Germans would attack. Counterattack would be necessary if the Germans attacked first. Whether he would prefer pre-emptive or counterattack if given the choice is unknown.

That's ignoring the context of the period which puts a preemptive strike very distant from how Stalin thought about the strategic situation. Soviet planning throughout the period, including Stalin's own personal commentary on military decisions, emphasized the importance of fixed fortifications and covering forces. Stalin was extremely wary of engaging in a military conflict when Soviet personnel were not fully mobilized and equipped, as in the case of the Finnish debacle, which couldn't be achieved in late Spring - early Summer 1941. In particular, he didn't believe an offensive could succeed without a very strong force of artillery. All the reports he received in the first half of 1941, especially for the Q1 munitions production program, made it clear that the Western Military Districts hadn't received even close to enough artillery ammunition for combat.

A preemptive strike requires that Stalin knows where the Germans have mobilized and when they intend to attack so that they can be preempted - Stalin doesn't want to start a war and cut into the Red Army's prep time. Even if Stalin accepts the idea that an invasion will happen in 1941, the NKGB simply doesn't have an adequate picture of the state of German mobilization or when they intend to attack. In late May 1941 instructions were issued to the Western Military Districts for mobilization, the deployment of covering forces, and bringing fortifications up to strength in response to invasion warnings. In June 1941 further instructions were issued to bring fortifications up to full readiness.

Even if Stalin says "ok you're right, the Germans will probably invade this year" in April he has no idea whether that will be in May, June, July, or August. He doesn't want to attack too early and lose months of additional preparation time, and he knows in May/June that the Red Army is still unready for war. So he continues to increase preparedness, strengthen covering forces, and build fortifications, hoping in May that the Germans won't attack until June, and in June that they won't attack until July.
 
[Caveat: I actually typed this whole thing on my phone so if any phrase comes across as totally bonkers, I blame it on the ridiculous autocorrect]

If it were me, the only plan I would entertain would be based on the targeting Ploesti as if I could eliminate their primary fuel source, the Germans would lose their ability to persecute a war deep into the Soviet heartland....while I would still have massive fuel reserves to maintain and operate my mechanized forces.

During build up phase, I would advise our Yugoslavian allies that the USSR is growing fearful of a Nazi betrayal and as such they may have as little as three to six months to arm, entrench and train to the best of their ability. As valued allies (and because you want them to at least be able to defend themselves) I would send them as many anti-tank guns and mortars as can be spared along with money to both manufacture as much ammunition as possible domestically and pay for high-intensity live fire training. Although they will not be requested to violate their neutrality or invade any Axis neighbour, they will be asked to fully mobilize the day after the Soviet invasion in order to pin a large portion of the armed forces of the Axis nations on the Yugoslav border, thus being unable to be deployed to their Eastern borders or to Romania. This would be particularly important along the border with Bulgaria as without Sofia under threat, the Bulgarians could march their entire army to protect Ploesti making that fight much more difficult.

In all other border areas, the key visible activity will be to entrench positions away from border to appear to be focused on defence. Although these may not be necessary in first phase of battle, they may be necessary in second phase, and also will teach men how to quickly and efficiently built crude fortifications in areas they capture.

Inside the USSR, although Japan may remain a potential threat, quietly withdraw some battle-tested units from Far East to assist with training of all formed regular and reserve units. In order to not raise alarm bells, a majority of this training would take place in areas distinctly away from the German border and would be under the guise of "preparing for a Japanese invasion". All new training would include significant live-fire exercises in attempt to harden the men. In addition, factory production would be quietly ramped up in any area where the Germans may have "eyes" and to 24/7 production in areas where they do not. Additional ammunition, uniforms, foodstuffs and mechanical spares are as quietly as possible pushed towards border areas, but only minimally to frontline troops, again, so as not to raise alarm in Berlin. Additionally, hundreds of additional rail cars are pre-packed with "Infantry Division" stores and ammunition, but placed in rail yards hundreds of miles from the front. Each bundle of cars is packed to provide one division with 7-days worth of key consumables. At a future date and time, they will be pushed forward where needed. Lastly, in order to keep Hitler focused elsewhere, regular complaints shall be communicated from Stalin about the Japanese. Specifically, repeated requests will be sent to Hitler to purchase as many maritime patrol aircraft, dive bombers, submarines and surface vessels as Germany can provide so they can be allocated to the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Whether or not these sales are approved is almost of no consequence, but offers to overpay for all items should ensure Hitler buys into the storyline.

Then, when the time is right, there will be no declaration of war....

From USSR borders:

Into Memel - . First sign of attack is low-level bombing attacks on German air fields at sunrise. Massed infantry surge with objective of overrunning front line positions and destroying as much German heavy equipment and as many key transportation routes (like Rail Lines and Bridges) as possible. Training given to engineering units on sabotage and demolition so as to do maximum damage whereever they are able to penetrate. Priority is to tie-down German home troops and limit ability to support any future attacks. Where German forces hold and no further progress is possible, infantry dig-in to best of their ability along most defensible lines so as to minimize casualties and risk of encirclement. Engineering troops assist with entrenchment prior to withdrawing with as many trucks as they can drive to assess key choke points should Germans break out from those positions. In secret, all rail and bridge infrastructure within 50 miles of German border is also assessed with demolition plans setup for all key points (with demolition charges stores nearby). On the evening of the attack, pre-written news releases are shared in multiple languages around the world's key Capitols (London, Washington, Tokyo, etc.) telling of an intercepted message from Hitler to his generals to plan to betray their non-aggression pact with an invasion from all his Axis partners. The fact that to Stalin it may not be true is irrelevant. The only thing of importance is to get "his story" out first.

Into Central Government Area (German West Poland) - Similar plan. Key difference is a new priority on instigating as large a partisan uprising in Poland as is possible. Immediately following first attacks on German air bases, a Polish figurehead is announced to lead the uprising for a "free" Soviet Socialist Republic of Poland. As infantry advances, any captured German weapons are provided to Poles to fight as partisans (there may be some units that self-organize into platoon-sized fighting groups, but that is not initial objective). Further priority to air drop whatever small arms (including as many pistols as can be spared) into Warsaw and other urban centres at night in attempt to create as much destabilization as possible. In addition to the captured German small arms, Polish partisans are to be provided with immediate training in ambush attacks, sabotage and demolition and asked to push as far West as possible targeting anything they can damage with priority on rail lines, bridges, fuel depots, and telephone-telegraph lines. Where possible, trucks with Polish truck drivers will also be targeted as the more trucks denied to the Germans the more limited their ability to support future operations.

Slovakia - Similar to Memel as less chance of partisan uprising. If Slovakian troops caught totally by surprise, ideal objective is to reach Iron and Magnesium mines in East of country and then sabotage them to best of ability (with caveat that it may not be possible due to difficult terrain). If unable to reach those areas without significant losses, like Memel, after initial attacks on air bases, focus on destruction of any overrun heavy equipment as well as much of the rail, bridge, and communication infrastructure as possible. And like other areas, as Engineering troops withdraw they first assist with digging in defensive positions, before stealing as many trucks as possible.

Hungary - Roughly same objectives as Slovakia.

Romania - This is primary thrust. All troops go straight for Ploesti, with obvious flank protection where required. 75% of all reinforcements pour into this one line of attack as mobilization of new troops takes place as quickly as possible. Air attacks are initially focused on Romanian rail yards and rail lines to both slow any attempts to reinforce the area and to destroy the desperately needed fuel to Axis Partners who need it for their mechanized units (and air power). Secondary air attacks are on key oil field infrastructure (refineries, pumping stations and barges). Like Poland, a similar Romanian figurehead is pushed forward to attempt to destabilize the Romanian war effort from within, although only Romanians who volunteer behind line of conflict would be armed. There would be no attempt to push weapons into urban centers by night air drop as probability too high they would be used against Soviet forces instead of against Germans.

Inside USSR proper . Factories move to 24/7 operation. National Guard Units (older than 40 and not appropriate for front line service) also contribute to mobilization and training, as well as starting the construction of civilain-built trenches around all Soviet Communities. "Infantry Division" rail car groups strategically filled and forwarded based on frontline need.
 
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