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Who saved Moscow in December, 1941?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by IRu, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The population was hardly unlimited and much of the territory was very sparsely settled. Furthermore a lot of it hadn't been under Russian control for all that long. If you compound it with Hitler's concepts on how different races got along his strategy must have seemed fairly reasonable at the time.
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    one minor point:eek:n You Tube :eek:n the war veterans day in march 1943,was present the in august 1942 sacked von Bock
     
  3. kowalskil

    kowalskil Member

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    Very interesting details. I have a memoir about this. It is probably worth posting as a separate thread. I will do this now, on this forum.

    Ludwik Kowalski

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  4. Urban Fox

    Urban Fox Member

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    I think if the Germans had attemped to assult Moscow or tried to encircle the city, it’d wind up as a big propaganda win for the Soviets after whole German divisions are themselves hopelessly encircled by the Soviet armies which had been massing behind Moscow for months…

    T.A Gardener made a good point, that the Soviets wore themselves out due to Stalin's instance on counter-offensives along the entire Eastern Front. A more focused effort on Army Group Centre, if the Germans were foolish enough to press the attack on Moscow (which they likely would’ve) could’ve lost Germany most of an Army Group and the war at a far earlier date…
     
  5. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    Hitler saved Moscow unintentionally. Well, Hitler's meddling and the Russian winter. Moscow was saved the moment Hitler decided to divert the bulk of Guderian's panzers to help army group south capture Kiev in the great encirclement. It delayed army group center's advance just long enough to allow the Russians regroup and the winter to turn the roads into mud, and then ice.
     
  6. Chi-Ri

    Chi-Ri Member

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    Well, the Germans had no choice - it was very risky to leave strong group of Soviet forces on the right flank of the German forces which were engaged in offensive against Moscow. So, the Germans had to destroy Soviet forces in or around Kiev before continuing their offensive.

    Regards,
     
  7. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    If the German had a difficult time with supply lines in front of Moscow, how were they going to cope with even longer ones and with an additional of 4 Soviet armies plaguing Bocks right flank?

    Less History channel and more books ;)
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There's also the question of just how what would have happened if the so called "delay" hadn't occured. My understanding is that the Germans didn't plan a direct assualt on Moscow but wanted to surround and isolate the city first. Is the delay enough so that they can actually surround the city before the historical troops show up? If so I'm not sure being caught between them and Moscow is a good thing for the Germans. Even if they start thier assault on the city or even take it how strong can their defences just to the west of the city be?
     
  9. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Dito.
     
  10. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    That probably nails it in that it may have been vital in holding things together after the Red Armies huge defeats at Vyazma/Briansk.

    At that point [mid October] there was very little was left between the Germans and Moscow, & the Soviets almost broke according to Erickson, Clarke, Overy & Lees, among others.


    That was when an atmosphere of pure terror & panic gripped Moscow when it seemed almost inevitable that the Germans would arrive in a matter of days. On 13 October Stalin ordered the evacuation of the Communist Party, the General Staff and various civil government offices from Moscow to Kuibyshev leaving only a limited number of officials behind. On 16-17 October, much of the civilian population tried to flee, mobbing the available trains and jamming the roads from the city.

    And Zhukov was shocked to hear Stalin raise the possibility of a separate peace with Germany if matters got much worse.

    Richard Overy mentions it was rumoured in Berlin in October that Stalin had sought an armistice through Tsar Boris of Bulgaria....... It [making peace as Lenin had done at Brest-Litovsk in 1918] would not have been an irrational choice, any more than was Lenin's according to Overy.

    Overy says the evidence on the peace mission is far from clear, but Erikson in 'The Road To Stalingrad' says that earlier Stalin sent an urgent note to Churchill saying he needed 400 aircraft & 500 tanks monthly, plus a landing of some 20/25 British divisions in Archangel or Iran to take the pressure of the Red Army, without these two kinds of aid the SU would either be defeated or weakened to the extent that it would lose for a long time the ability to help its allies by active operations at the front against Hitlerism.

    Stalin might have been gilding the Lilly, but there's not much doubt things were hanging by a thread at that time.

    And Lees goes on to say......."which leaves us to answer the vital question—what would have happened if Stalin had boarded that train on October 16, 1941, and had made a run for it? Well, having looked at the documents and met many veterans who fought in the defense of Moscow, I am convinced that if Stalin had left Moscow, the Soviet capital would have fallen. Stalin would have been disgraced, his authority fatally damaged. As a consequence, the Soviets would have then made peace with the Germans. There was, after all, a precedent for this. In March 1918 the fledgling Soviet Communist government had signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had given away to the Germans huge amounts of territory, including Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States".......

    But fortunately something or someone convinced the dictator to stay in the capital, & with the Wehrmacht getting bogged down in the Autumn mud, giving the Red Army the breathing space to bolster the Moscow defenses & eventually bring in fresh reserves to turn everything around.

    Not sure I'd go along with Rees, but it's food for thought.
     
  11. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Hi;
    Who saved Moscow in 1941? The Russians! ‪Katyusha _
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  12. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    That's helpful, thanks.

    Anyway, Army Group South did in fact need help, I'm not disputing that, and the result of Guderian's panzers swinging south was one of the greatest encircling maneuvers of all time. However, Guderian himself strongly contested Hitler's decision to divert several key panzer divisions from their original objectives. I trust in Guderian's generalship and strategic judgement more than Hitler's (who wouldn't?). Admittedly, Hitler was a bold and sometimes brilliant military leader, but mostly he was a gambler who took too many big risks (and not calculated risks either) at the expense of soldier's lives. Hindsight is always 20/20, but there were several crucial opportunities in The War that were wasted.
    In addition,, wouldn't the Red Army groups facing Army group south be tied down in the fighting around Kiev and not be able to attack Center's flank as a mobile tactical force? Perhaps the German AG South just needed a little more time to deal with the Soviets, and could have done this without those Panzers from AG Center? In my opinion, the decision to divert forces from one Army Group to another was based on impatience, and the strong desire to destroy the Soviets in the field, rather than making it a priority to complete concrete strategic objectives. Of course, it is a very difficult dicision either way - to go for Moscow, or take care of Kiev on your flank. Risks were involved either way. Napolean captured Moscow, but couldn't hold it because he didn't destroy the Russian army beforehand. Seems like Hitler was aware of this and didn't want to make that mistake. Ironically, he made a different mistake, also made by Napolean - lack of preparation for winter. But that's another topic! I'm not saying Germany lost because of Hitler, or because of its generals. But there are a lot of things to think about, and who can really say for sure what the reasons were?
     
  13. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    Von K you ignore the fact that the Soviet Armies in front of AGC are much stronger before the Kiev encirclement. Whilst Guderian headed south the Soviets lost massively when they counterattacked around Smolensk. If AGC had attacked immediately these would have been available on the defense.

    Without AGC tanks AGS would not have destroyed the Soviets around Ukraine, they were struggling to make progress and the offensive only picked up again when the Soviets were threatened by encirclement.

    You mention concrete strategic objectives and that was really the problem, Barbarossa wasn't sure if it's aim was capturing territory or destroying the Red army. In the end it failed really to do either.

    I'm with Heinrici (commander of XXXXIII corps at the time and probably the best defensive General of the war) who said:


    "Militarily, the Russian armed forces were suprisingly capable. They often defended with a stubborn tenacity, and they had an astounding ability to improvise, even in the technical area. These qualities consistently made up for the inability of the senior Soviet leadership."
     
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  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Interesting by Glantz. Does this mean we have to rethink the whole Eastern Front situation again...?? ;) Smolensk was the breaking point for Hitler´s attack?? EEEKKK! ;) ;)

    Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941: v. 2: The German Offensives on the Flanks and the Third Soviet Counteroffensive, 25 August-10 September 1941

    "Instead, Soviet forces encircled in Mogilev and Smolensk stubbornly refused to surrender, and while they fought on, during July, August, and into early September, first five and then a total of seven newly-mobilized Soviet armies struck back viciously at the advancing Germans, conducting multiple counterattacks and counter strokes, capped by two major counter offensives that sapped German strength and will. Despite immense losses in men and materiel, these desperate Soviet actions derailed Operation Barbarossa. Smarting from countless wounds inflicted on his vaunted Wehrmacht, even before the fighting ended in the Smolensk region, Hitler postponed his march on Moscow and instead turned his forces southward to engage 'softer targets' in the Kiev region."
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Let's not forget, it wasn't just Hitler insisting on cleaning up the southern flank before advancing on Moscow. That was conventional military wisdom, shared by many of the German high command. Guderian is a valuable resource, Panzer Leader was one of the first serious history books I acquired, back in junior high school, but he presents the key conference as if it was just him and the Fuhrer arguing Moscow or Kiev; talk about jumping the chain of command!

    The radical, gambling if you like, idea was that of lunging onward to Moscow in hope that the whole rotten structure would crumble when they kicked in the Kremlin door. Actually it would probably take two lunges, one like the historical Vyazma encirclement, which would get them about 3/4 of the way from Smolensk to Moscow, and then a second phase to actually encircle the capital. As it happens I think this could have been done. Even with Guderian heading south, there were two panzer groups which advanced a comparable distance by the end of September; unfortunately it was to Leningrad and Tikhvin.

    Guderian insisted on taking his entire panzer group into the Kiev operation to ensure that that was concluded promptly so they could get back to the offensive against Moscow. If AG Center was going to attack at the same time, it might make sense to shift say one panzer corps to PzG 3 or 4.
     
  16. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Hello V K,

    Guderian was an exceptional military commander but not a politician. He saw what was around him while Hitler saw the whole picture. Guderian was needed in Kiev to ensure the noose was complete. If he was not present the Red armies within, would have escaped perhaps just as Zhukov had wanted....

    If you think Hitler gambled with his men, then Stalin simply gave them away. Kiev was Stalins doing. Its for this reason why I dont undestand why people use Hitler as a reason for Germany's failure but not include Stalin in the equation.

    As for Napoleon, when he marched into Moscow, Moscow was not the capital of Russia, St. Petersburg was. The reason he turned around and left was because the pesky Tsar Alexander would not come to Moscow and surrender as Napoleon expected him too and it started getting cold fast. The next thing you know the French are retreating, the Russians enter France and Alexander redraws the map of Europe at the congress of Vienna ;)
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    About time someone else uses Heinrici in here! :D

    Heinrici also gave eight reason for Barbarossa's failures before the battle of Moscow, at which he personally stood present guarding Bocks rear.

    I guess not everything went as smoothly for the Germans as some in here would like to perceive.
     
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  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    There also was the battle of Yelnya,where on 3 august Guderian committed his last reserve (the guard company of his HQ)and,where,on 8 august,von Bock said,in a telephonic report to Halder)that he could not guarantee against a catastrophe at Yelnia .
     
  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    I have a book by the US Army historical group about planning for Barbarossa and the planners clearly saw that Germany would not have enough troops for all three targets. It was forseen that AGC would have an issue with its south flank and that troops may have to go south to help out. If the Germans did go after Moscow they would have had a very long flank and a lack of troops to guard. AGS may have eventually got to Kiev, but its doubtful they could have taken the Donbas.
     
  20. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    I agree with what was said. AG Center had to protect its flank, and destroy the Russian army in Ukraine to help AG South and get their own offensive going again. What were the objectives of Barbarossa though? To capture the entire west half of the Soviet Union AND destroy the Russian army in the field? Isn't that a little too ambitious for a timeframe of six months, considering the forces available vs. opposing forces, and also the size of the territory? I suppose the obvious point, that the Germans didn't prepare for winter for whatever reason, is a good analysis. However, the lack of intelligence before Barbarossa also contributed to its failure. 1) The Germans weren't aware of the T-34 (obviously) 2) They weren't aware of how formidable an opponent Zhukov was, even though he had successfully defended Leningrad (and later Moscow), and 3) German commanders certinaly underestimated the Russian will to fight and the size+potential of their Army, probably due to its poor performance against Finalnd in 1939/40. I am not saying it was easy to spot these truths then, though they are obvious to us now, but the lack of understanding about these points certainly contributed to the failure of Barbarossa and capture of Moscow.
     

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