Help support TMP


"Was Hitler's Invasion of Russia a Mistake..." Topic


51 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board



1,010 hits since 1 Aug 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

Dn Jackson01 Aug 2018 4:41 p.m. PST

a Sign of his Ignorance, or was it simply one of those chances one takes in war that didn't break the right way for him?

I've often read on the site, and other places, that Hitler made an egregious mistake by invading Russia. If he'd read Napoleon he'd have known better, it was an obvious amateur move, it showed how little he knew of strategy, it proves he was crazy, etc.

My contention is, given the information he had at the time, it was an act that had a decent chance of giving him control of the world.

Consider:
1) In WWI, with no blitzkrieg or mechanization of any sort, the Germans had basically walked to the Urals.

2) The Polish army, beaten relatively easily by the Germans in 1939, had not only fought off the Red Army, it had taken large tracks of Russian, or Ukrainian, territory.

3) Tiny Finland had fought the Soviets to a standstill during the Winter War inflicting massive casualties.

4) Most of the competent officers of the Soviet army had been purged leaving it with little in the way of leadership.

I mean, Stalin was worried to the point he was preparing to evacuate Moscow. I believe that, with the information he had, Hitler wasn't crazy. Had it been handled differently, it might have worked, much to our sorrow.

Aethelflaeda was framed01 Aug 2018 5:03 p.m. PST

Of course it was. He lost his war. That he could of won without the invasion is pretty obvious. He lost it on hubris.

Good thing he did. Franco outlasted him 30 more years.

28mm Fanatik01 Aug 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

Hitler erroneously believed all that's needed was a swift kick in the door and the whole rotten edifice of Russia would crumble. I don't blame him for this misguided belief because in the summer of 1941 every indication was that the Wehrmacht is clearly superior to the Red Army. Russia couldn't even tame Finland while Germany was flush with success and confidence having steamrolled through Poland and France.

Alas, in war like in so many other things it's not how you start but how you finish. Russia proved to be more resilient than expected, which is all the more remarkable for the fact that Stalin purged his best generals the previous decade, and achieved what had to be one of the greatest comebacks in military history after a series of initial setbacks which only served to further fuel Germany's overconfidence.

Of course, Russia is blessed with its vast territory, which allowed her to trade space for time to regroup, as well as a seemingly inexhaustible reserve in manpower.

But in the final analysis it all boiled down to simply being a matter of sheer "do or die" survival for Russia and a good dose of Stalin's iron fist to force the Russian people to make the necessary sacrifices. There are few things more dangerous than a backed-to-the-wall cornered cat.

I stand by my claim here that invading Russia was Hitler's greatest blunder TMP link but only in hindsight.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

Not really hubris, IMO. He made it clear in Mein Kampf, written many years before WW2, that he wanted living space in the east. He had just beaten the bejeesus out of Poland, France and Britain in short, decisive campaigns. So a case could be made that it was a calculated gamble that stood a fair chance of success.

Now, he made some mistakes during the campaign that doomed the whole enterprise.

catavar01 Aug 2018 5:58 p.m. PST

He considered everything but the road/rail network I think.

Condottiere01 Aug 2018 6:00 p.m. PST

Yes.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 6:36 p.m. PST

And how did that work out for him?

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 6:45 p.m. PST

Yes.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 6:49 p.m. PST

In retrospect….

Lion in the Stars01 Aug 2018 7:16 p.m. PST

It definitely lost Hitler the war.

But it had to happen to give Germany the 'needed' liebensraum.

I would have pushed hard for the oil fields w/AGSouth, left AGCenter strong enough to prevent AGSouth from getting cut off, and pushed hard on Moscow.

Oil fields are self-explanatory.

You must take Moscow because all the roads and rails go through Moscow. Take Moscow and the Soviets are pretty much crippled in terms of reinforcing their side.

Stalingrad is a non-target, despite the name.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 7:49 p.m. PST

One way or the other Russia and Germany were going to fight a war. If he waited he would have lost, So It was as always with Hitler a gamble.

It might have worked, if he had listen to the army and remained focused on either killing the soviet army or capturing Moscow. Also Declaring war on the US was Stupid.

Redblack01 Aug 2018 7:57 p.m. PST

No Again we are using the benefit of 20/20 hindsight as in: he lost therefore it was bad.

Strategically Hitler had no choice but to invade the Soviet Union . The Soviets were growing stronger and would become harder and harder to defeat as time went on. The military was recovering from the purges and new weapons were coming out. The resources and space of the Soviet Union was necessary for Germany to grow.

An invasion left to the skill and tactics of the German General Staff with no participation by Hitler would have had a reasonable chance of defeating the Soviet. Note I am using the term Soviets deliberately as the Germans could easily have coopted the non Russian peoples and turned them against their Sovietmasters.

Of couse all of this would be on the assumption that Hitler would have stepped aside and let his generals run the war without political or ideological interfgerence The chance of that was probably nil.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2018 8:14 p.m. PST

His philosophy required that he do it.

William Ulsterman01 Aug 2018 9:08 p.m. PST

Although I point out that in WWI the Germans made it only as far as Riga, about one quarter of the way to Urals, the Poles had beaten a 1921 Red Army immediately post the Russian Civil War, a very different beast to what the Red Army of 1941 was like. Tiny Finland had still been defeated (as had the Japanese) by the stumbling colossus that was the Red Army and the effect of the purges have always been overstated, according to some.

Yes, his philosophy required that he do it – but it was a question of timing.

I do not think that the German defeat at Moscow in December 1941 was inevitable – that's the benefit of 75 years of hindsight and a comfortable chair talking.

We do not give the Red Army sufficient credit for stopping the German army in 1941. Despite all the stuff written about the weather, Hitler's madness, German hubris and the 'Siberians', someone had to go out into the snow and fight the best army in Europe and beat it. They had to fight without much faith in their commanders, their equipment and without knowing the Germans were logistically exhausted.

Battle Phlox01 Aug 2018 10:50 p.m. PST

Hitler had to invade the USSR because the Royal Navy cut off his oil supply. He needed to capture the Caucus oil fields. His generals, however, wanted to have a parade through Moscow. There was a reason most of the Red Army forces were in the south. Stalin knew that Hitler needed oil too. The thrust into central Russia caught the Soviet leadership off guard.

Martin Rapier01 Aug 2018 11:35 p.m. PST

Hitler had always intended to march East, to gain Lebensraum for the sturdy Aryan warrior farmer Volk. He was a blood and soil lunatic, and Russia was where he planned to build his agrarian empire.

So no, it wasn't a mistake, but an inevitable consequence of what passed for Nazi philosophy.

The campaign in the East did result in the defeat of Nazi Germany though.

advocate01 Aug 2018 11:53 p.m. PST

+1 Martin and Winston

advocate01 Aug 2018 11:57 p.m. PST

It certainly wasn't "one of those chances you take in war" since he had a non-aggression pact at the time.
Stalin had enough trouble at home (real and perceived). I don't think (with hindsight) Germany had anything to fear about a Soviet push west.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2018 2:39 a.m. PST

In short : Yes it was a mistake.

Longer version : They had many good reasons to believe otherwise.

Hitler had a psychopathic personality. He is generally evaluated as being quite intelligent and while he had some irrational obsessions, he quite accurately evaluated Germany's position and what it would need to become a super-power able to rival any other power in the world without having to share the colonial cake with the others.

He knew the USSR had ample resources and he believed that the Red Army and Soviet regime were inherently weak and could be pushed to breaking point.

And it wasn't entirely without foundation. Many saw Stalin's purges (or what filtered to the outside world) as the last gasp of a man trying to ward off an internal uprising. The Red Army's sketchy record was seen as proof that it was merely an army of peasant conscripts lead by incompetent political generals.

At the same time the USSR was a great unknown. The claims that the USSR had made huge progress in industrial development were seen mainly as propaganda. Many evaluations of the Red Army were guesswork and the German General staff even doubted that they had a general staff of their own (They would not have made such capital mistakes in Finland or against Japan if they had a staff)

It was assumed that the USSR had far fewer tanks and planes that it did (German estimates were really off when it came to gauging the allies at any point)

To put it another way, they estimated that the USSR had at the very best managed to keep pace with the industrial development at the time of the last Tsar. Officers who had been to the USSR estimated by the amount of disrepair they encountered along the way that the USSR may have lost up to a quarter of its 1914 railroad capacity.

They expected the Red Army to be mostly conscripts marching on foot, with horse-drawn equipment with minimal mechanization limited to "propaganda units fit only to parade on Red Square"

The timetable was set at eight weeks, based on previous experience against armies they rated as far superior to the RKKA.

They expected that the Red Army would be defeated, Moscow would fall and/or that the leadership would collapse and offer peace.

But in that they gave Stalin that which he always had been supremely good at, survive and maintain power at any cost …

Richard Baber02 Aug 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

In my opinion the bigger mistake was – he should have taken Malta first, then finished off the allies in Egypt.

Malta being an unsinkable aircraft carrier and naval base blocking traffic from italy to North Africa. Stopped Rommel getting supplies and reinforcements and cost the Axis the war in that theatre.

trailape02 Aug 2018 4:49 a.m. PST

A HUGE mistake!


Huge

Ceterman Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2018 5:48 a.m. PST

Oh no. Makes PERFECT sense. Why? Did he loose?

Frontovik02 Aug 2018 5:54 a.m. PST

An invasion left to the skill and tactics of the German General Staff with no participation by Hitler would have had a reasonable chance of defeating the Soviet. Note I am using the term Soviets deliberately as the Germans could easily have coopted the non Russian peoples and turned them against their Sovietmasters.

German racism towards Slavic people was not confined to Dolfi.

Had it been left to the Generals in 1941 they'd have had a massive flank stretching all the way from Western Ukraine to Moscow being operated against by undefeated forces drawing supplies from the Donbas industrial region and winter coming on.

deephorse02 Aug 2018 6:05 a.m. PST

So no, it wasn't a mistake, but an inevitable consequence of what passed for Nazi philosophy.

Just because it was an inevitable consequence doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake.

Mobius02 Aug 2018 6:12 a.m. PST

In a rare recording of Hitler talking frankly to some officials in 1943 or 1944 he says something like "If someone were to tell me before the war Russians could produce 1,300 tanks in a month, I would not believe them."

Bill N02 Aug 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

To say it was a mistake for Hitler to go to war with the USSR you'd have to assume there was an alternative. So long as Hitler ruled the German Reich and Stalin was in control in the USSR, I think war was inevitable. It comes down to who started it, when and how.

Would Germany have been better off keeping large portions of its army mobilized to defend its eastern frontier and engaging in an arms race with the USSR until the day Stalin decided to attack? I think to German military planners in 1941 the outcome of a war initiated by Stalin would have seemed a riskier course than attacking. Today we know the Soviet army was growing as was the Soviet's productive capacity, Stalin's ability to weather the setbacks of 1941 show he had a control on power. You cannot conclude those German military planners were clearly wrong.

Would Hitler have had a greater chance of success if he had attacked earlier in 1941? Would he have been better off beating the British in the Middle East first? Would he have been better off halting his 1941 offensive earlier and consolidating his position and securing his supply lines? Would Hitler have been better off if he was more Central European than German, and seized the opportunity to set up a Lithuanian-Ukrainian state to help support his war effort against the Soviets?

donlowry02 Aug 2018 9:11 a.m. PST

I agree with Bill N. War with Stalin was going to happen, and soon, one way or another. Also, Hitler figured that the UK was only holding on because it figured Stalin would join in soon. So the way to defeat the UK was to defeat the USSR -- the sooner the better.

Personal logo SBminisguy Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2018 10:39 a.m. PST

I agree with Bill N. War with Stalin was going to happen, and soon, one way or another.

Yep, though what if Germany had not not invade the Balkans in the Spring of 1941, and instead launched the invasion of Russia in late April or early May after the Rasputitsa (mud season) was over? And Rasputitsa ends earlier in southern Russia/Ukraine. That extra month or so could have seen the Germans in Moscow and the Caucasus before General Winter reversed the tide.

Mobius02 Aug 2018 12:15 p.m. PST

The Germans had gotten away with winning two quick wars with sketchy armed opponents. They didn't really have the war material to go to war on a large scale Russia required. They didn't have a good number of first class tanks and lacked the numbers of effective AT guns. It's not like they had to go to war in Russia in 1941. They had a case of victory disease that only saw the bright side.

Legion 402 Aug 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

I have to agree with that Mobius …

With this being near the top of the list why the Germans should not have attacked …

didn't have a good number of first class tanks and lacked the numbers of effective AT guns

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2018 2:53 p.m. PST

Yes. Logistics.

28mm Fanatik02 Aug 2018 3:45 p.m. PST

They didn't have a good number of first class tanks and lacked the numbers of effective AT guns.

It was a miracle they beat France with an army comprised of a large number of light Panzer II's and Pak 36 "door knockers."

Despite the initial surprise and shock German TC's experienced when they first encountered the T-34, they were able to overcome the "tank gap" with their inferior Panzer III's, early war Panzer IV's and Czech-designed Panzer 38(t)'s through mobility, superior C3 and tactics, with an unintended assist from green and badly trained (but brave) Russian crews thrown into T-34's without radios attacking haphazardly with little coordination.

The T-34 was such a superior tank to anything the Germans fielded at the time that Guderian personally flew to Berlin and begged Hitler to develop a tank to counter it, which turned out to be the Panzer V or Panther. Designed specifically as the answer to the T-34, it didn't see action until the summer of 1943 during the Battle of Kursk, by which time the Germans had already lost the arms race to such a degree that their superior training and doctrine can no longer overcome.

The Germans would have been somewhat better off had they chose to standardize and settle on a few designs rather than making so many different tanks, which made logistics and maintenance such a headache. I can only wonder how many more Panzer IV's with the excellent 75mm KwK 40 L/48 gun they could have produced if they didn't go for the Big Cats, the Panthers and Tigers oh my!

Lion in the Stars02 Aug 2018 4:44 p.m. PST

Honestly, if the Germans had kept the Panther at 30-35 tons (Sherman/T34 protection levels) and standardized on it, that probably would have been the best option.

Even if the Germans had standardized on the Panther as-built, it was significantly more capable and only slightly more expensive to build than the Panzer IV. Did need that transmission re-designed, however!

If you're going to invade Russia, you must take Moscow, because all the roads and rails go through Moscow. Take Moscow and the Soviets can't reinforce the front!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2018 5:09 p.m. PST

Had the Germans started on time…
An aside here. Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete are often blamed for delaying the invasion a full month. I have also read a debunking of that theory which said that the roads hadn't dried enough anyway. Maybe. But that just shows the effect of leaving an undefeated Britain in your rear.

Had Hitler not been distracted from the original plan. He had the wargamers' "Ooh! Shiny!" habit. He delayed too much to surround pockets of opportunity which put off capturing Moscow for two months.

Had Hitler not treated conquered Ukraine and others as inferior under-peoples instead of potential allies…. But he wouldn't have been Hitler.

It could have been done. Then it wouldn't have been a mistake. Instead we would have been talking about how it could have gone wrong.

28mm Fanatik02 Aug 2018 6:29 p.m. PST

Honestly, if the Germans had kept the Panther at 30-35 tons (Sherman/T34 protection levels) and standardized on it, that probably would have been the best option.

Even if the Germans had standardized on the Panther as-built, it was significantly more capable and only slightly more expensive to build than the Panzer IV.

The Germans considered simply "copying" the T-34 and manufacture it in large numbers, but Hitler couldn't abide acknowledging that the untermensch Slavs could be better at designing tanks than Aryans (even though it's a Christie design).

But I think you may be correct in regards to the Panther vs. the Panzer IV. By 1944, after the Panther worked out its teething problems, the German armaments industry were actually quite efficient in churning out an increasing number of the tank. Much of the credit deservedly goes to Reichminister Albert Speer.

William Ulsterman02 Aug 2018 8:26 p.m. PST

The old "Hitler lost 6 weeks of good weather in the Balkans" was an ex post facto myth started by Anthony Eden to justify the disaster that was the British Imperial intervention in Greece.

Delays were caused by lack of suitable airfields and troop deployments in Rumania and Finland and high rivers in Poland – the Bug in particular.

The USSR didn't have a profusion of T-34 tanks in 1941 – they had around 800 of them, many of them the version with the L11 76mm gun, with an AP round based off old imperial naval ammunition. Most of the Russian tanks were BT lights and the multi versions of the T-26. The Germans had four times as many PIII tanks and twice as many PIV tanks as when they invaded France. They had twice as many P-38(t)'s as well.

The Intelligence services of both Britain and America gave the Russians about 6 weeks before the Soviets collapsed. Hitler had to take Moscow and keep it – just because he might get there in late 1941 doesn't mean he could have held it through winter. If the Southern Russian armies had not been eliminated around Kiev, guess which way the Russian counter attack goes?

Fred Cartwright03 Aug 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

I can only wonder how many more Panzer IV's with the excellent 75mm KwK 40 L/48 gun they could have produced if they didn't go for the Big Cats, the Panthers and Tigers oh my!

Wonder no more. A Panther took about 10% more resources to build than a PzIV and a Tiger about double. So instead of 5,000 Panthers and 1,500 Tigers you get an extra 3,500 PzIV's. That, of course, doesn't include the extra resources you need to devote to training the crews for them, extra fuel, spares, mechanics, transporting them to and from the front etc. By the time you factor in all that sticking with the Panzer IV is not worth it.

Fred Cartwright03 Aug 2018 3:53 a.m. PST

The Germans considered simply "copying" the T-34 and manufacture it in large numbers, but Hitler couldn't abide acknowledging that the untermensch Slavs could be better at designing tanks than Aryans (even though it's a Christie design).

Oh dear another one of those Hitler myths. There were very good reasons for not copying the T-34. For a start the design wasn't good from an ergonomics point of view. Friendly fire was another issue, how do you know if it is a Russian T-34 or a German one. Then there was the issue of the Diesel engine which the Germans didn't have anything remotely like it in production. That means tooling for a completely new engine design. The Daimler-Benz design resembled the T-34, but the MAN design was judged superior.

Legion 403 Aug 2018 8:43 a.m. PST

It was a miracle they beat France with an army comprised of a large number of light Panzer II's and Pak 36 "door knockers."

Despite the initial surprise and shock German TC's experienced when they first encountered the T-34, they were able to overcome the "tank gap" with their inferior Panzer III's, early war Panzer IV's and Czech-designed Panzer 38(t)'s through mobility, superior C3 and tactics, with an unintended assist from green and badly trained (but brave) Russian crews thrown into T-34's without radios attacking haphazardly with little coordination.
All Very true … Again it came down to the quality of the soldier/crews and leadership. I.e. a weapon is only as good as the troop(s) behind and the leaders in command …

donlowry03 Aug 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

Gotta wonder, tho, why they didn't put the longer 75mm gun in the Pz IV to start with.

Fred Cartwright03 Aug 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

Gotta wonder, tho, why they didn't put the longer 75mm gun in the Pz IV to start with.

No great mystery. First the gun didn't exist when the PzIV was designed and second it was designed as a support tank to provide a decent HE shell. The main tank was the PzIII. It just so happened that the PzIV was able to be upgraded more than the III.

28mm Fanatik03 Aug 2018 11:22 a.m. PST

Again it came down to the quality of the soldier/crews and leadership. I.e. a weapon is only as good as the troop(s) behind and the leaders in command …

The single most important factor which accounted for Germany's early successes was doctrine. Blitzkrieg was a game changer which transformed warfare, concentrating tanks into a tight fist rather than spreading them out to support foot soldiers. In blitzkrieg, the tank and infantry switched roles. Infantry now support tanks, not the other way around.

The French also possessed superior tanks, in particular the Somua S35 and Char B1 bis when Germany invaded France and the Low Countries in 1940, but they were still operating in a WWI mindset, dispersing their precious tanks in penny packets among infantry divisions as support and only using them in piecemeal attacks. Granted, there weren't that many of them so it wouldn't have changed the outcome anyway other than inflicting a higher toll on the Germans.

28mm Fanatik03 Aug 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

Oh dear another one of those Hitler myth

Okay I admit my dig on Der Fuhrer was uncalled for. A bit of dramatic license on my part.

The Daimler-Benz design resembled the T-34, but the MAN design was judged superior.

The DB design (VK3002) was the German attempt to copy the T-34 and that was probably its undoing. The MAN design which became the Panther was superior because it incorporated all the best elements of the T-34 (high velocity gun, sloped hull, suspension) and improved upon them. Visually it also didn't look like a blatant and shameless rip-off of the Slav tank design, which was a huge plus in its favor.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Panther. Have 4 of them in 1/48 as a matter of fact for my 28mm gaming needs. 4 Panthers for Bolt Action, am I kidding myself???!!!

Okay, I admit I also have 3 Tigers. So sue me.

Legion 405 Aug 2018 7:57 a.m. PST

First the gun didn't exist when the PzIV was designed and second it was designed as a support tank to provide a decent HE shell. The main tank was the PzIII. It just so happened that the PzIV was able to be upgraded more than the III.
Yes, the first versions of Pz IIIs and IVs were really "under gunned" so to speak compared to the T34, KV-I, etc. But generally did well vs. many of the Polish, French, UK and Belgium AFVs. Of course a big part of that was German superior training, leadership and doctrine as I and others have said.


Okay I admit my dig on Der Fuhrer was uncalled for.
Nah … can anything be too bad to say about him ? wink The only good thing I can think of is to say about him is that he is dead … evil grin

donlowry05 Aug 2018 8:35 a.m. PST

The French also possessed superior tanks, in particular the Somua S35 and Char B1 bis when Germany invaded France and the Low Countries in 1940, but they were still operating in a WWI mindset, dispersing their precious tanks in penny packets among infantry divisions as support and only using them in piecemeal attacks.

The Somua and Char B1 had better guns and armor than the Germans, but were much worse in other ways, especially the 1-man turrets. However, those types were NOT spread out among the infantry -- Somuas were in the DLMs (light mechanized divisions, part of the cavalry arm) and Char B1s in the DCRs (armored divisions). It was the light tanks that were mostly spread out among the infantry -- R35s and the like (although the DLMs and DCRs also contained sizeable contingents of light tanks).

Incidentally, the US also spread a lot of its tanks among infantry divisions, yet I haven't seen anyone fault it for that. (Of course, it also had lots of armored divisions.)

4th Cuirassier05 Aug 2018 2:37 p.m. PST

I thought most of the delay in reaching Moscow was the encircling movements to take out pockets. Given more time wouldn't the Germans just have done more of those?

Something not always remembered about the Axis is that it was a political rather than a military alliance, certainly as far as relations with Japan went. Had there been more military co-operation, Japan could perhaps not have attacked until early 1942, thus keeping Soviet reserves tied up in East Asia. That would have given Germany a shot at taking Moscow. Or Japan could have attacked Russia to draw off those reserves. Same result.

It was simply a very tall order for the 1941 Wehrmacht to win. At best they had a 50:50 shot at taking Moscow but depending upon what they did not do elsewhere in order to accomplish that, it might not have done them any good.

In 'Fatherland' Robert Harris hypothesises the Russians driven back to the Urals but not actually defeated, and an unending frontier war still raging in 1963 and costing Germany 100,000 lives a year. Seems quite plausible.

William Ulsterman05 Aug 2018 8:24 p.m. PST

The encircling movements created the pockets. The pockets were then destroyed by the German infantry divisions and the Luftwaffe, with the Panzer Divisions often fighting some fairly desperate defensive battles to keep the pockets sealed – not always successfully, as many thousands of Russians were often able to break out. Notwithstanding this, the Russians were just about bled white by these defeats. Certainly their special Western Military District just ceased to exist by the end of June 1941. This organisation had been equipped with the best stuff the Soviets had and all it really did was act as a speed bump.

Delay – Hitler did order Guderian to halt after the Minnsk-Bialystok battle as the infantry fought to reduce the pocket which had been formed. However, Bock and Guderian ignored this order. But this was in late June 1941, when Barbarossa was only a fortnight old. Both the Panzer Groups of Guderian and Hoth were moving eastwards long before the infantry divisions caught up.

Pockets – I agree that these were generally a disaster for the Soviets in 1941, but by the time of the Briansk-Vyazma encirclement of October 1941 the Soviets were learning to fight their way out and counter attack into the pockets. The continued resistance of the encircled Soviet troops and the counter attacks did slow down the Germans at a fairly vital time.

I think the main problem was that once the Germans got past the north south axis of (roughly) Riga-Minsk-Kiev-Perekop they couldn't maintain the huge army they started with and it slowly bled to death. Shades of 1812.

PaulByzantios05 Aug 2018 10:46 p.m. PST

The real question is why the Germans were so unprepared for the Russian Winter. Cold frost-bitten soldiers, vehicles that can't operate because of lack of winter petrols and lubricants are a recipe for disaster. The question is why.
Even giving the wildest success possible with the A-A line being reached at the end of 1941, the Germans would still have been deep in Russia for the winter of 1941-42 and would still have to maintained operational status. Why weren't stores of winter supplies in place in anticipation of a winter occupation.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2018 1:35 a.m. PST

The Germans WERE prepared for winter. Two things happened. One temperatures dropped substantially below that of even severe European weather and those units that did get M36 and M40 greatcoats found them to be inadequate. Remember that in Europe it's usually mild frost with the low teens considered as quite unusual, temperatures dropped to -30C, -40C and lower. That's a huge difference and troops complained that the M40 was not overly warm at temperatures like -5C with a stiff breeze.

Second the logistics were strained, capacity was limited and with troops in all-out battle they decided that ammo and fuel took precedence over coats. The equipment was ready, but remained in depots behind the lines because they couldn't be delivered in time.

The logistics people had warned that they could only guarantee the transport of supplies until a certain point and time, after that they would have to make choices because troops would be so far ahead of railroad hubs that the burden would fall on trucks and carts to transport the rest, a patchy system even under ideal circumstances.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2018 2:22 a.m. PST

Regarding the T-34 there are several myths surrounding the German reaction.

1) The sloped armour caught the Germans off-guard.

You only have to look at all their halftracks and armoured cars to notice that they had it figured out. The reason why the Panzer III and IV were not sloped is that it would have made these tanks uncomfortably cramped and greatly diminish combat capability. They did add a slight slope to the turret as a compromise. The III was given relatively effective armour while the IV was designed as a stand off vehicle and didn't required that much armour to begin with.

2) They wanted to copy the T-34.

At no point was this seriously considered, the design and layout of T-34 is very different to that of standard German tanks, they made assessments and found that while the slope gave the tank great protection it also made the tank cramped and the two man turret crew would be unacceptable to German crews. This is why the Germans first tried to up the armour thickness (this has an advantage all of its own. Slope is only relative, if I shoot from a higher position, my shot could fall almost straight onto the plate, thus negating the slope) and when it came to Panther they scaled up the tank so it would have enough internal room for the crew to fight in.

Sloping armour is not a magical force field, it's just a trick to give you better protection in many, but not all cases. The Germans understood the principle very well, but also realized that slope eats valuable internal space. That's why they preferred to up thickness (cf Tiger I) rather than go for slope though they relented because enemy guns became so powerful that sloping became necessary.

Features like the engine, the transmission, the drive system would all require changing tooling and equipment and force them to design whole new elements, put them into production, that's a 1-3 year time period wasted. So it would be far smarter to simply modify what you have and improve it.

People greatly underestimate how long it takes to convert a blueprint into a working prototype and then into something that can be built in a factory while setting up a system to produce all the required parts and the resulting vehicle should be at least nominally reliable too. This takes years.

We hear these incredibly stories how they had a working prototype in something like a 100 days, but it would still take months or years to see production (and also production needs to have enough ready to be used in adequate numbers, no use in delivering new weapons one or two at a time no matter how dire or tempting the need would seem.

The Germans were smart enough to understand that upgrading their existing models and make sure the next generation incorporated all the lessons learned.

The Daimler Benz prototype tried to copy the features of the T-34 and was rejected because the turret was too cramped and too small to be upgraded beyond a 75mmL48, it required an engine that didn't exist yet, the suspension was rubbish and it was a copy of a 1940 tank that would have entered production in 1942 … figure out the mistake. MAN's Panther was quite simply a superior design (though it came with its own complete action playset of faults and problems)

Pages: 1 2