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Was Stalingrad yet another Manstein's Lost Victory?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Tamino, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    If you consider how many men the Red Army could mobilize you realize it was not bad luck. For instance Zitadelle is my favourite example. The Kursk phase was the main phase for Germans. For the Red Army, it was phase 1 only. After which the Red Army started massive pincer operations from both sides of the Kursk area and pushed the Germans backwards several hundred kilometers.

    Battle of Smolensk (1943) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Hitler believed that whatever happens in Kursk the losses will be such that the Red Army will have to postpone until spring or summer 1944 its next operations. Once again Hitler was wrong about the Red Army reserve situation.
     
  2. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Thanks Kai for bringing fresh wind into this thread!

    For Hitler, the war was very much like opening a door into a dark room, but he didn't expect to meet Russian bears in the darkness, lots of them.
    Germans have faced crisis that unfolded so unexpectedly, so abruptly, that fast and on such large scale. The Germans weren’t mentally prepared: in the autumn 1942, the German Army was still a formidable force. Therefore, Hitler was confident and postponed decisions; Manstein didn't hurry with the Army group Don either.

    They needed time to realize what was really going on and that in November there was nothing to do to prevent the disaster. They could just reduce the damages but their hesitation to respond adequately and timely caused huge costs. I think that in the first half of December the Germans managed to conceive that they have lost everything in the southern USSR, irreparably and irrevocably.

    One thing is clear, however: Manstein was the only in charge at the front but with a huge constraint: anything he intended to do had to comply with the Führer’s requirement to stand fast at Volga. Units within the Cauldron were divided among Paulus and Seydlitz.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    It is interesting to notice that Hitler could only open one major offensive in summer 1942, meanwhile the Red Army had major offensives in Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad areas. Not a coincidence. Wonder if Zhukov had not been so stubborn on destroying Army group center could he have ended the war a year sooner?
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Already in the summer of 1942,the WM was that week that Fall Blau could succeed only,if in the first weeks,the opposing Soviet forces were eliminated :the longer Fall Blau lasted,the less it had any chance .
     
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Operation Mars against AGC did go on longer then it should have, but it did prevent German troops from being transfered south.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Walther Kurt von Seydlitz-Kurzbach: In the Demyansk Pocket, Seydlitz was responsible for breaking the Soviet cordon and enabling German units to escape from encirclement; for this action he was promoted to General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) and appointed commander of the LI Corps. In Stalingrad Seydlitz was one of the generals who argued most forcefully in favor of a breakout. As a POW he became the leader of the anti-Nazi organization, the League of German Officers.

    His comments on the breakout: " Particularly at the beginning , a break out by the Sixth Army would have strongly reinforced the neighbours,namely the remnnant of Fourth Panzer Army and the remnant of the Roumanians who had fallen back to the north and north-west of them all the way to the Chir. I would have preferred an army of twenty-two divisions that was mobile and able to operate outside the pocket, even if it had sufffered not inconsiderable losses during a breakout, a thousand times more than the same army paralysed and incapable of operations inside the pocket...I am absolutely sure that a break-out, initiated at the beginning of the encirclement by the enemy, would have been successful.

    The first question asked by General Chuikov, the first Russian General to whom we were brought after having been captured, was " Why didn´t you break out soon after the beginning of the encirclement,we were very worried."

    Stalingrad: Memories and assessments by Wieder and Graf von Einsiedel
     
  8. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Was the 6th army mobile enough to break out
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I´d say it´s not anymore about the gasoline etc. You fight your way out and if it means walking, you walk. Just like in Falaise. And the earlier they do it the more men get through in better shape and more equipment with them.
     
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  10. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Staying fast was the worst alternative. That meant either a certain death in battle or almost certain death in the captivity.

    It wasn't Hitler only who wanted to keep Stalingrad at all costs. It was Manstein’s message of 24th November in which he advised Hitler that the 6th Army shouldn’t break out. As a Commander-in Chief of the Army Group Don he sealed the fate of the 6th Army. His claims in the »Verlorene Siege« are forgery. But as that wasn't enough to him, he even lied to Paulus about what he advised Hitler. It was him who as a superior officer stabbed a knife into Paulus’s back .
     
  11. scipio

    scipio Member

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    No I am really puzzled Tamino.

    I can find info about OKW from 21st Nov appointing Manstein, who was then at Vitebsk, 280 miles West of Moscow,and giving express orders to break through and re-supply Paulus.

    On 23rd Nov Hitler sent Zitzewitz to Paulus to tell Paulus personally that everything was being done to re-supply him. Schmit and Paulus thought this officer had been sent to spy on them - Hilter's way of ensuring they complied with his orders not to breakout.

    Then Manstein on 24th sent a cable to Paulus before boarding the Train to (near) Rostov telling Paulus to hold the Volga Front and the north and be prepared to clear a channel to the South West. Manstein arrived and took over on the 26th Nov.

    Where in all this activity is there anything other than Manstein and others carrying out Hitler's wishes?
     
  12. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    I understand your perplexity because many books recapitulate Manstein's falsified materials.

    Hitler appointed Manstein as the commander of the Army Group Don because Manstein supported decision not to order the 6th Army to break out. Also in the protocols of 29th November it was written:

    »Beurteilung der Lage durch Gfm. von Manstein, kommt zum gleichen Ergebnis wie Führer.« (word for word translation: Assessment of the situation by Field marshal Manstein, comes to the same results as the Führer.)

    Furthermore, this is important:

    That wasn't disagreement Hitler vs. others but Hitler supported by Manstein and Göring against others; here is a passage from Manstein – Hitler’s Master Strategist (p. 303):

    But unlike Paulus, Weichs, and Zeitzler, Manstein was not in favor of an attack from out of the pocket by the Sixth Army before the arrival of reinforcements. On November 24, he presented his argument by telephone to Zeitzler. From an operational point of view, he stated, it was preferable to await the intervention of expected relief troops, at least for as long as Sixth Army could be sufficiently resupplied by airlift. An operation designed to extricate it could be undertaken once the new units had arrived at the beginning of December. Yet it was absolutely necessary to continuously reinforce them in order to counter the powerful support that the enemy was itself to receive in the interim. An isolated breakout from the Sixth Army would only become necessary if pressure from the enemy prevented Army Group Don from deploying its new forces. Through his optimism regarding the possibility of the Luftwaffe establishing an airlift in order to support the resistance of the troops encircled in Stalingrad, Manstein thus supported Hitler in his decision not to abandon the city.
     
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  13. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    A great article on Manstein's breakout strategy in WWII Quarterly from late 2012. I will re-read it and look for the sources. There was some great analysis of his several options and why he favored the one eventually doomed to failure.

    I want to see what Model's analysis of this situation was.
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Its hard to know Mansteins true views since he only tells us that everything was Hitlers fault and the generals never made a mistake. Its likely that his relief mission was doomed from the beginning and that he did a great job of making the best of a bad situation. Even if he had made contact wioth 6th army there was no way he could have held the front once the Hungarian forces were smashed.
     
  15. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    One of the problems was the misuderstanding in the Stalingrad pocket what will be done. The forces were made as mobile as possible every now and then, and the defensive positions had to be built again and again as the order no escape was received by the troops.

    Zhukov wasnted Rzhev. It sounds weird but the more I read about him, the more it is obvious his main point was always Rzhev. And then before Kursk Hitler removed the troops to reinforce Zitadelle and Zhukov got Rzhev area for free, which could have acted as a stepping point towards Moscow. Maybe one of the reasons the huge number of reserves was behind and around Moscow, because Stalin, Zhukov etc believed the summer 1942 German attack would be pointed to Moscow. It took time to move the forces south as also Stalin believed the German AGS offensive was simply hoax.

    Also interesting is that as the Red Army Army Groups continued after Stalingrad´s end to close the 400,000 German´s in the Caucasus area, those men managed just in time to escape. However the Red Army continued and von Manstein did what Patton said about Germans in the Ardennes offensive. "Let them come to Paris" because they would be easy to surround and destroy more Germans. Manstein wanted to let the Soviets further west but Hitler flew to his HQ and ordered immediate attack. This is what happened.

    As for Stalingrad, it was lost as like in his speech " we shall not let go of the Volga river" and Göring promised all the logistics taken care by planes. The cocainist strikes again.

    Retreating early enough from the Caucasus Manstein would have had 400,000 more men by mid-Decemeber/late December and the breakthrough might have been possible because the Soviets underestimated the German forces in Stalingrad so the city would not have been important militarily but politically. To Germans saving the 6th Army and returning to Volga would have been a victory ( at least by Göbbels ).

    But one of the main Soviet views militarily by Zhukov was Rzhev. Not Stalingrad. Rzhev. Rzhev. His obsession.

    Just a couple of thoughts
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler wanted the oil fields. Maikop and Grozny produced only 10% of all Soviet oil. Taking these oil fields, which were also full of cement ( Göring famously: cannot we drill them open?)

    South of the mountains lies the densely populated region of Transcaucasia, and in 1942 this heavily industrialized region had a population density greater than the the State of New York. Baku, capital of Azerbaijan and situated on one of the world´s richest oil fields, alone produced 80% of all Soviet oil ( 24,000,000 million tons in 1942 ). One must though remember the Soviets had large reserves in the Siberia area so they would not run out of oil quickly.

    Stopped at Stalingrad
    by Joel S Hayward
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
  17. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Member

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    I'm reading Zhukov's Greatest Defeat. Even if Mars was a failure it prevented the Germans to move forces to the south. Probably it would have been better for the Russians if the operation had been turned into a diversionary/holding action in December. I wonder what would have happened if the Soviets in December had transferred some of the mech/tank corps employed for Mars to Little Saturn, while keeping on hammering Rzhev to fix the Nazis. Would they have been able to achieve decisive results? Rhzev was Zhukov's obsession but it was Stalin who decided.
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Like said the Caucasus area German troops some 400,000 men would have helped the Stalingrad area if moved in time to help Hoth in breaking through, and Paulus should have left Stalingad. It is true Rzhev area for Model and also Leningrad area attacks kept the forces tied but the Caucasus 'reserves' would have been a massive boost to help Paulus retreat through the lines. Just my opinion. After taking Kharkow the Soviet troops were tired after fighting since mid-November while LAH, das Reich and Totenkopf were fresh panzer divisions to attack. If you had the 400,000 extra men, too, who knows what had happened.

    Btw, when Paulus reached the northern Volga above Stalingrad he hoped he had even one extra division as at the time there were no strong Soviet forces in Stalingrad and Paulus believed just one division was enough to take the City.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  19. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Member

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    Perhaps a timely retreat from Caucasus soon after the encirclement of Stalingrad would have provided Wintergewitter with one or two additional mobile divisions, which may have allowed Manstein to open a corridor to the Sixth Army. But an early retreat from Caucasus would have required Hitler's decision, and we know how likely that would be. Moreover Hitler didn't even allow the Sixth Army to abandon Stalingrad. Wintergewitter was just intended to reopen a corridor to the Sixth Army, and I don't know how long the Germans would have been able to keep it open. Once the Soviets started Little Saturn the whole Army Group Don would have been in danger. I don't see the Germans being able to retrieve the situation without a retreat of the Sixth Army from Stalingrad, which would probably have resulted in heavy losses in equipment (bc of scarcity of draft horses and fuel) but a better outcome than in OTL. As I see it, the only option would have been for Manstein to disobey Hitler and order the Sixth Army to break the encirclement and retreat westwards. I think that move could have succeeded (with serious losses in heavy equipment) but Manstein would have been relieved of command and maybe faced dire personal consequences. Or Paulus could have taken the initiative to break out himself, which is even more unlikely.
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    That is the forever question. Was Paulus not willing to run to Hoth or did Manstein refuse him from escaping. Nobody knows anymore.
     

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