The Eastern Rampart Holds

Proctol

Banned
For a few weeks in 1944 the German generals were able to totally stall the Soviets & bleed them white, as they were able to employ their flexible withdrawl tactics, instead of Hitler's "stand to the last man" orders, as he was recovering from the July bomb & was pre-occupied dreaming up his Ardennes counterstroke.

WI Hitler had been incapaciated or had actually allowed the German generals free reign. With defence geniuses like a Manteuffel or a Guderian in charge, & with shortened lines, would the Germans have forced Stalin to negotiate a deal, so that even into 1945 the Russians were still being held on the Vistula?
 
With Hitler incapacitated, I think it would be a matter of who steps in to take his place. Even if the Fuhrer wasn't killed, some of the coup leaders might decide to press on for control, confident that the Army (at least) will fall in line.

If Hitler gives his generals carte blanche, then all I can say is, he must've taken one hell of a blow to the head.
 
Proctol said:
For a few weeks in 1944 the German generals were able to totally stall the Soviets & bleed them white, as they were able to employ their flexible withdrawl tactics, instead of Hitler's "stand to the last man" orders, as he was recovering from the July bomb & was pre-occupied dreaming up his Ardennes counterstroke.
Nonsense, all they achieved was to save a partially encircled German unit from total annihalation, they weren't bleeding anybody, let alone bleeding them white. By 1944 the Russians have numbers AND quality on their side, the idea that teh German generals could have won the war in the East if hitler hadn't interfered is pure myth, coming out of their own whining, self-serving accounts in post-war interviews.
 

Proctol

Banned
Not win the war in the East: just hold the Russians out of the Vaterland. Best case scenario, with their available forces & ability to make local devastating counter-attacks & continuing wasteful Russian blunders, how long could the Germans have held the Soviets at bay, and along what line? Up until the inevitable August 1945 A-bombing of Berlin & Nuremburg?
 
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Axis Lose

This WI does make some difference. It buys the Third Reich two maybe three more months. The AngloAmerican role in the Battle of Germany would be greater. Actually one thing I've wondered about is given a WWII TL where it's August and Nazi Germany is clearly within weeks of obliteration without the Abomb but Hitler is alive and defiant would the Bomb be used against Germany in that situation.

One thing to never lose sight of in WWII is what a colossal mismatch the war had become in terms of the enormous economic strength of the Allies compared to the pitiful Axis.

Tom
 
Matthew Craw said:
Nonsense, all they achieved was to save a partially encircled German unit from total annihalation, they weren't bleeding anybody, let alone bleeding them white. By 1944 the Russians have numbers AND quality on their side, the idea that teh German generals could have won the war in the East if hitler hadn't interfered is pure myth, coming out of their own whining, self-serving accounts in post-war interviews.
Not at all! We tend to see the USSR as an unstoppable, limitless juggernaut, but truth be told the Soviets was having trouble, and lots of it. We all know that a lot of Soviets died in the war, but rarely people actually understand the scope. Millions and millions were killed, maimed or simply vanished. Most of the Soviet non-war oriented industry ruined. Most of the industry they had made only few things; tanks, planes etc etc. Radios, trucks, other types of vehicles, food, radios, boots and what have we was imported (or more exact freely given). The infrastructure was in an even worse state; Dams, roads, rails, powerplants, water works and all the other things a modern society demands were simply not there (scorched earth tactics from two succeding armies tend to ruin things pretty well, I'd say). Fields were untended, the men dead or off fighting, seed non-existent, tools gone (either removed or stolen) etc etc. Besides that, as it wasn't enough, moral was crumbling fast in the Red Army (problems began when the Red Army crossed from the Rodina to foreign territory - why fight on, the Germans are gone from our soil). All things considered the USSR was lucky the war ended as and when it did.

Without Hitler and his insane stand-and-fight-orders and other wastefull ideas (the Ardennes offensive comes to mind), the Soviets would have been in trouble to put it mildly...

Best Regards!

- Mr.Bluenote.
 
Mr.Bluenote said:
Not at all! We tend to see the USSR as an unstoppable, limitless juggernaut, but truth be told the Soviets was having trouble, and lots of it. We all know that a lot of Soviets died in the war, but rarely people actually understand the scope. Millions and millions were killed, maimed or simply vanished. Most of the Soviet non-war oriented industry ruined. Most of the industry they had made only few things; tanks, planes etc etc. Radios, trucks, other types of vehicles, food, radios, boots and what have we was imported (or more exact freely given). The infrastructure was in an even worse state; Dams, roads, rails, powerplants, water works and all the other things a modern society demands were simply not there (scorched earth tactics from two succeding armies tend to ruin things pretty well, I'd say). Fields were untended, the men dead or off fighting, seed non-existent, tools gone (either removed or stolen) etc etc. Besides that, as it wasn't enough, moral was crumbling fast in the Red Army (problems began when the Red Army crossed from the Rodina to foreign territory - why fight on, the Germans are gone from our soil). All things considered the USSR was lucky the war ended as and when it did.

Without Hitler and his insane stand-and-fight-orders and other wastefull ideas (the Ardennes offensive comes to mind), the Soviets would have been in trouble to put it mildly...

Best Regards!

- Mr.Bluenote.
Mostly true, actually, but where you (and most other people with a superficial knowledge of WWII) are wrong is in underestimating the quality of teh Soviet army. By 1944 they were slcing through the Germans because they had superior numbers and quality, with the soviet officer corps much more adept than the German. They still faced severe logistical problems, but the idea that they were going to oblige the germans by blundering into traps over and over gain is nonsense, a flexible defense might have reduced German losses in the short term, but ultimately would simply have left them even more exposed to Soviet firepower and hastened the march to Berlin.

as to the idea that the Soviet army was somehow broken in 1945, the main problem wityh it is that most of teh evidence for their problems (supply difficulties, manpower shortage etc.) can be found in any major Soviet operation from early 1943 on, there were compensating strengths that more than made up for these weaknesses.
 

Proctol

Banned
WI the Russians were stalled, so that the Germans were still holding out in August 1945? Is it conceivable that the US would rather drop the first A bomb on the even more-hated yellow-skinned Japanese first, rather than contaminate part of Europe with radioactivity, in the hope that the slightly less-hated white-skinned Germans would be intimidated enough by the new wonder weapon to surrender?
 
Matthew Craw said:
Mostly true, actually, but where you (and most other people with a superficial knowledge of WWII) are wrong is in underestimating the quality of teh Soviet army.
I'd rather say that the Germans was getting weaker, but that's just semantics. The Soviets who survived were of course getting smarter, but fundamentally, as allways with large conscript armies from, eh, less humanitarian inclined nations (chinese and soviet/russian especially), the men in charge rarely bothered with the grunts. So you might have a few clever officers by '44, but the ordinary Soviet Ivan was just as "dumb" and uneducated as in '40 or even back in 1812. I'd rather say the big difference was in quantity, not quality.

Matthew Craw said:
as to the idea that the Soviet army was somehow broken in 1945, the main problem wityh it is that most of teh evidence for their problems (supply difficulties, manpower shortage etc.) can be found in any major Soviet operation from early 1943 on, there were compensating strengths that more than made up for these weaknesses.
I'm not sure I understand your point, Matthew! Most of the problems we talk about would show themselves when the army went on the offensive and into razed areas and finally fought its way out of the Rodina. The fighting in '44 was very hard on the Soviets, not only on then Germans. Look at the statistics, the Red Army suffered enormous casualities. The fighting in Hungary should btw prove that the Germans was still able and more than capable of giving as good as they took!

Oh, and I never said the Red Army was broken by '45, but I said, and still stand by, that it was almost a spend force! I'm pretty certain that uncle Joe and his top brass was happy it was over by then...

The best of regards!

- Mr.Bluenote.
 
Mr.Bluenote said:
I'd rather say that the Germans was getting weaker, but that's just semantics. The Soviets who survived were of course getting smarter, but fundamentally, as allways with large conscript armies from, eh, less humanitarian inclined nations (chinese and soviet/russian especially), the men in charge rarely bothered with the grunts. So you might have a few clever officers by '44, but the ordinary Soviet Ivan was just as "dumb" and uneducated as in '40 or even back in 1812. I'd rather say the big difference was in quantity, not quality.
Technically, wasn't the Whermacht a large conscript army from a "less humanitarian inclined nation"?

and btw, the 1944 german army of 1944 was a great deal stronger than that of 1941 in leadership, equipment and tactical doctrine. the russians thrashed them anyway.

If you want to compare the armies by 1944 you can easily just look at loss ratios, which were MASSIVELY in the Soviets' favour by that point, despite their being on the offensive against a very well dug in opponent. Or compare the skill in operational planning displayed in Soviet preparations for bagration with the German staff's efforts for Kursk.

To look at the quantity vs. quality arguments, yes the soviets had quantity, but nothing like the sort of numerical advantages the Anglo-Americans enjoyed by later 1944. Moreover, the really decisive battles that turned the tide in the east, basically Stalingrad and Kursk, were while won the Soviet advantage was, although real, still much less than overwhelming. For too long Western histories of the eastern Front were written without the benefit of much by way of Russian sources, and based on racist self-interested dismissal of Russian capabilities by failed German military leaders who wanted to place all of the blame for their defeat on Hitler and the sheer size of teh "Slavic horde". Time these myths were laid to rest, by 1944 the red Army was BETTER, as well as larger, at least at the strategic and operational levels. tactically, things were different, but not by THAT much. The 1944 saw the Soviets run rings around the germans at relatively little cost, it wasn't as easy as the ge4man victories of 1941 had been, but it came close, and against a far more formadible enemy.


It's also worth pointing out that Soviet advances inside the Rodina were not made over a green and pleasant land, but rather territories at least as ruined central Europe, and by 1945 the Germans too had reached the limits of theiur military potential.
 
Matthew Craw said:
Technically, wasn't the Whermacht a large conscript army from a "less humanitarian inclined nation"?
Heh, yes, you'r right, but the Germans did nonetheless place great value on well-educated and trained troops. Germans for all their other shortcommings and insane ideas didn't usually waste soldiers - they knew they had to few as it was. That's my point Chinese and Russians allways knew they had plenty, so why conserve them?

Matthew Craw said:
and btw, the 1944 german army of 1944 was a great deal stronger than that of 1941 in leadership, equipment and tactical doctrine. the russians thrashed them anyway.
Yes, and no. On paper, perhaps, lots of new divisions and lots of new wonder weapons. The reality was that most of the experienced soldiers were dead. Still NCO's and officers tried, and did, their best. On a whole the Germans trained their men better then the Soviets, but replacements were as far as I know sporadic and few in numbers (and not in formed units). Command and Control was better than the Soviets, but that really didn't matter that much, since the Germans just had to stand and take what the Soviest dished out (the fixed defence thingy). The many divisons were for most parts down to regiment size. Regarding the new weapons; well, the Germans never had enough of the old ones. To generalize one could say, that the Germans efficient combat strength on the Eastern Front declined from day one...

Matthew Craw said:
If you want to compare the armies by 1944 you can easily just look at loss ratios, which were MASSIVELY in the Soviets' favour by that point, despite their being on the offensive against a very well dug in opponent. Or compare the skill in operational planning displayed in Soviet preparations for bagration with the German staff's efforts for Kursk.
They Germans might be well dug in, but there were never enough troops manning those defences. Look at the number of troops available and then at the mileage of front they were holding... That's one of the reasons why a flexible defence would have been better - concentrate your combat power and strike at the enemy's flanks ect etc. Loss ratios? The Soviets lost something like 5 men for each German killed. Numbers were probably higher, but not high enough to matter. The Soviets leadership threw men away, like they were paid to do so!

Matthew Craw said:
To look at the quantity vs. quality arguments, yes the soviets had quantity, but nothing like the sort of numerical advantages the Anglo-Americans enjoyed by later 1944.
I'm not sure to Allies outnumbered the Germans more then the Soviest did out East. Their airforce however was much, much stronger, but besides that the number of actual combat troops on the Western Front was rather low in comparison.

Matthew Craw said:
Moreover, the really decisive battles that turned the tide in the east, basically Stalingrad and Kursk, were while won the Soviet advantage was, although real, still much less than overwhelming.
Yes, besides the fact that the Soviest knew where and when the Germans would attack and just happened to have a few Tank Armies in reserve to throw at the Germans when they were fully committed... It's a wonder and a great cadeau to the Germans that they nearly won!

Matthew Craw said:
For too long Western histories of the eastern Front were written without the benefit of much by way of Russian sources (...)Time these myths were laid to rest, by 1944 the red Army was BETTER (...) The 1944 saw the Soviets run rings around the germans at relatively little cost (...)
Again, the reason why the Red Army could "run rings around the Germans" was that the Germans just stod there and got hammered. Hitler hurt his own army more than the Soviets did. Even the greatly admired Zhukov was very hammer-like in his ways (he actually reminds me of U.S.Grant). Subtle never was, or is, a very used word in russian. And of course the Red Army got better, but they never god that good - you need a different mentality for that. Just look at Russian operations uptil and including today - hammer it flat and then shot it some more and finally swarm it with poorly led and trained conscripted troops.

But as I've said before, the Red Army was closer to the breaking point than people usually think. A Manstein-like flexible defence would most likely have brought it closer to, if not actually over that edge...

Oh, and there are plenty Soviets sources, but few that are very trustworthy. Everything published during the Communist period in Russina history is tainted by the leaderships fear of looking weak, silly or what not!

Matthew Craw said:
It's also worth pointing out that Soviet advances inside the Rodina were not made over a green and pleasant land, but rather territories at least as ruined central Europe, and by 1945 the Germans too had reached the limits of theiur military potential.
Never said it was, but the further the Red Army advanced the greater the strain on their logistics, which never were close to being reasonable good in the first place. When the Soviets crossed the old border many began to see the war as over, hence the rising problems with moral among the troops - they wanted to go home.

Regards and all!

- Mr.Bluenote.
 

Redbeard

Banned
From what I've been taught in my previous military career and studied myself afterwards the German flexible defence (grand)tactics as developed on the East Front was simply superb when they were allowed to use them and pretty much set the agenda for NATO tactics for the rest of the 20th century.

In that context I would tend to agree that without Hitler's interferrence in the defensive part of the East Front the Germans could have hold the Soviets much longer, possibly so long that the Soviets would have had no option but setling on just regaining the lost territories.

In practical terms it would at least mean that the Germans must avoid having Armeegruppe Midte anihilated in 1944.

Regards

Steffen Redbeard
 
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