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Oil fields at Baku

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Class of '42, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Trying to determine exactly how far south into the Caucasus region did the German Army Group A reach..I have heard reports that recon units reached just the outskirts of Baku and that Luftwaffe bombers were capable of destroying the oil fields by then but were held back, as the Stalingrad front began to collapse. Just wondering as I once had serious aspirations of marrying a lady doctor from Baku years back, she said her father was sent out from the city to go stop the approaching fascist invaders.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    If I recall correctly the Wiking troops got to the Terek River. Near Grozny. Not further. The Germans in the west took the Elbrus mountain as propaganda but they never got to Baku.
     
  3. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    A total of 75 million tons of oil were transported for military needs throughout World War II. Vasiliy Istratov, former ambassador of Russia to Azerbaijan wrote:

    "There wouldn’t be any victory in World War II without natural resources of Azerbaijan."

    Stamps_of_Azerbaijan,_2005-699.jpg
     
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  4. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Hitler was determined to capture the oil fields of the Caucasus including those in Maikop and at Grozny. But most of all, he wanted Baku, for he was obsessed with oil. He read about it, talked about it, and knew the history of the world's major oil fields. For Baku supplied 80% of the petrol, 90% of its naphtha and 96% of its lubricants to the Soviet Union war machine.

    For he knew also if he captured the oil of the Caucasus-along with the 'black earth,' farmlands of the Ukraine, he was convinced that the German empire's New Order, aka Lebensraum, would be self-sufficient within its own borders and thus invulnerable to attacks.

    It's interesting to note that, originally, the German leaders had no plans to bomb Baku. Hitler's objective was not to destroy the oilfields but to be able to utilize them for his own troops and link up with the Afrika Corp in the south. But as far back as 1939 the Allies were discussing plans to destroy the Baku oilfields by British and French aircraft, located in bases in Syria, Turkey and Iran under the code name Operation Pike, which can be discussed in another thread.

    Photos: Hitler's mind was set to capture Baku's oil. Even the date of attack was scheduled for 25 Sept 42. Anticipating a forthcoming victory, Hitler's generals presented him with a cake of the region - Baku and the Caspian Sea. Delighted, Hitler chose the best piece for himself - labeled Baku with frosting. Fortunately, the attack never occurred, and he never got the chance to celebrate victory over Baku.

    Baku cake 1.jpg Baku cake 2.jpg Baku cake 3.jpg
     
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  5. Srg

    Srg New Member

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    I believe his quote was, "Either I take the oilfields at Maikop and Grozny, or I must put an end to this war". When then took Maikop it nearly took them a year to get the oilfields running again. By the 29th of October they were 50km form Grozny. To me this was Hitler's greatest mistake of the war, not putting more emphasis on the south, which at times was against the advice of his generals. I'd forgotten about the cake though, I think its amazing! Here's the video:
     
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  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The oil fields were destroyed. Killed with cement. Göring wanted a screw driver to get oil.
     
  7. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Thanks SRG..always been curious...toward the end of that video there is a German general who like rubs his nose and smiles...who is this guy???
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Before and early in the war, strategists and airmen had grossly exaggerated ideas of how much damage small numbers of bombers could inflict on industrial facilities like oilfields or refineries. Experience showed that targets like Ploesti or Schweinfurt were rarely thoroughly destroyed even by hundreds of bombers, and that damage was soon repaired and the raids had to be repeated. The idea that either the Allies or the Germans could throw a quick strike at Baku and take it out of the war was unrealistic.

    In the Germans' case, as @Srg mentioned, their goal had been to capture Baku, and by the time that became impossible, they had more pressing concerns than trying to bomb it. Even if they could have thrown in an attack from whatever forward air bases they had, the effect would have been short-lived.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I think the basic idea of the 1942 campaign was sound; at least they were concentrating on one sector instead of trying to attack everywhere. The flaw was the failure to provide against the obvious Soviet response, an offensive towards Rostov to cut off the German forces in the Caucasus. They needed a defensive line along the Don and Volga, backed up by mobile reserves (this line did not need to include the city of Stalingrad and certainly did not require them to fight for it block by block). However they placed in the path of the Russian attack their least capable forces, the Romanian, Italian, and Hungarian armies (this is not intended as a slur against those nationalities, whose forces suffered material and organizational shortcomings which the German command was well aware of).
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    They never had a year to get the Maikop fields going again. The Germans captured the city on 10 August 1942. The Soviets retook it on 29 January 1943. Five months was insufficient for any realistic attempt to extract oil for German use and get it to Germany.
     
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  11. Srg

    Srg New Member

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    Indeed, it does feel incredibly odd though that they ‘cut corners’ in this aspect of the invasion when they poured so much resources into far less important objectives in the north. Especially since oil is one of the main factors for invading the USSR in the first place.
     
  12. Srg

    Srg New Member

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    Oh yes, my mistake, thanks for pointing that out
     
  13. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Didn't the Russians move a lot of their Baku personal and oil equipment further east when the threat seemed real in '42??..and ended capping wells as they left??..I bet that whole area looked like an ecological mess back in the day.
     
  14. Srg

    Srg New Member

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    I may very well be wrong, but could it be Walter Stettner Ritter von Grabenhofen, commander of the 1. Gebirgs Division
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    One thing I question is the insistence on clearing the Crimea, which involved costly frontal assaults on the Kerch bridgehead and heavily fortified Sevastopol. The offensive into the Caucasus would leave the Crimea and Soviet forces on both sides of the Kerch Strait isolated. Blau was in planning by February 1942, and they could have reduced operations in the Crimea to holding actions, mainly by the Romanians, to concentrate maximum combat power for the main operation.

    Sevastopol in particular required vast amounts of munitions and equipment, including super-heavy artillery, which inevitably cut into the buildup for Blau.

    Hitler was concerned about Sevastopol being used as a base for air attacks on the Romanian oilfields, but whatever airfields and aircraft the Russians had there could be suppressed by artillery or air attack. In the long term, the conquest of the Caucasus would preclude them supporting air operations from Sevastopol. And as mentioned earlier, the danger of a few bombers demolishing whole industries was greatly exaggerated.

    As you say, they also wasted resources by shipping the heavy artillery and elements of 11th Army from the far south of the front to the far north to pursue the siege of Leningrad. Once they decided on Blau, every possible train car should have been used to prepare for and support that operation.
     
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  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Stalin believed Hitler wanted Moscow. He kept the The Red Army reserves close to Moscow. Instead Hitler attacked in the south. I believe once the Blau had actually reached its goal Hitler got more hungry and send his troops both south and towards Stalingrad. It took awhile to send the soviet reserve troops south but it worked in the end.
     
  17. green slime

    green slime Member

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    They were short. They had manpower shortages, in the army, and at home in the fields and in the factories. They had production shortages. They lacked sufficient armour. They lacked railway capacity. They were short on almost every strategic material except coal. They had no real means to extract the oil, refine it, and get it back to Germany.

    While they were driving southwards towards Baku, they were abandoning vehicles because of a shortage of fuel.

    This not the hand of a winner. This is the hand of a desperate gambler.

    Capturing Baku, would slightly alleviate the German issue of POL, to what effect?

    In 1942-1944, Baku supplied over one million tons of B-78 aviation gasoline to the Red Army in the field. Consider however, the effect of lend lease.
    By June 21, 1942, the USSR had received 298,349 tons of petroleum products over the first year of the Great Patriotic war, through the Lend Lease program.

    Over the course of the war, the amount of aviation gasoline supplied under Lend-Lease was comparable with the output of all the Baku refineries.

    Among other items the USSR received under the Lend-Lease Act were collapsible pipelines, portable oil storage tanks, drilling equipment and research instruments. An American field pipeline 100 mm in diameter and 220 km long was deployed in the rear of the Second Ukrainian Front.

    These resources were not available to the Germans. They did not have large quantities of materials and manpower needed lying around to utilize this resource to the fullest.

    An agreement to supply complete sets of U.S. refinery equipment to the USSR, and to extend technical assistance in setting them up, signed under the terms of the July 11, 1942 intergovernmental agreement between the USSR and the United States and the Second (Washington) Protocol, was an important element of Lend-Lease. The company of E.B. Badger & Sons, the contract with which was registered with the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Material and Technical Assistance under the heading DA-TPS 17000, Requisition R-4200, was chosen to execute the project's engineering. The total cost of the refinery equipment delivered under Lend-Lease was $43,138,000.​

    It should be emphasized that in addition to petroleum products and refining equipment, Lend-Lease's oil component included deliveries of drilling rigs and other oilfield equipment: casings; tubings; portable collapsible pipelines; instrumentation devices; and tanker ships, tank cars, and tank trucks.

    Under Lend-Lease, the United States supplied $9,230,000 worth of drilling equipment; 222,107 tons of pipeline of various types and dimensions; 892 short tons of pumping rods; and $9,040,000 worth of welding equipment and 4,030 metric tons of welding electrodes. A large number of different instruments and devices were supplied to the USSR, as is evident from their total cost of $6,902,000.
    Oil of Russia : www.oilru.com : No. 2, 2010 / LEND-LEASE OIL DIMENSION

     
  18. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Taking the area was one thing but could they hold it and extract oil from it, had things been done differently.
    Germany unsolved problem in Russia was always that of supply and logistics, there was never enough fuel/supplies getting through, and the further away from reliable railheads they got the more acute the problems became.
    In taking the oil fields and advancing it was taken as read that they would fight and defeat the Red Army, finally - this never happened. So total was the commitment that the "Don Bend" issue became elephant in the room. Stalingrad and the south with a huge sack being created.
    Manstein wrote that Hitler fought a war based on economic consideration seeking resources but gave no thought on how he could hold the ground taken or exploit it simply denying to the Russians would not defeat them especially when it created problems for Germany - they took ground, but this apart did no more than overextending themselves without defeating the Russians.
    It was a bit like 1941 all over again, reaching the outskirts of Moscow yet taking the city was a "mission impossible", reaching the area around Baku to find everything ruined all that way for nothing it sums up the war in Russia for the Axis and the same would be done in 43 at Kursk - everything on one throw of the dice.
     

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