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What If the Germans Had Captured Moscow in 1941?

By Mark Grimsley 
Originally published on Published Online: June 08, 2012 
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One of the classic "what ifs" of the Second World War centers on how—or if—the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, code-named Operation Barbarossa, could have achieved a quick victory. Hitler certainly believed that it could. All one had to do, he insisted, was to "kick in the door" and the "whole rotten structure" of Stalin's Communist regime would come tumbling down. In many respects Barbarossa was a stunning success. The Germans took the Soviets completely by surprise, advanced hundreds of miles in just a few weeks, killed or captured several million Soviet troops, and seized an area containing 40 percent of the USSR's population, as well as most of its coal, iron ore, aluminum, and armaments industry. But Barbarossa failed to take its capstone objective, Moscow. What went wrong?

Some historians have pointed to the German decision to advance along three axes: in the north toward Leningrad, in the south toward Ukraine, and in the center against Moscow. But the Wehrmacht had force enough to support three offensives, and its quick destruction of so many Soviet armies suggests that this was a reasonable decision. Others have pointed to Hitler's decision in August to divert most of the armored units attached to Field Marshal Fedor von Bock's Army Group Center, whose objective was Moscow, and send them south to support an effort to surround and capture the Soviet armies around Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The elimination of the Kiev pocket on September 26 bagged 665,000 men, more than 3,000 artillery pieces, and almost 900 tanks. But it delayed the resumption of major operations against Moscow until early autumn. This, many historians argue, was a fatal blunder.

Yet, as historian David M. Glantz points out, such a scenario ignores what the Soviet armies around Kiev might have done had they not been trapped, and introduces too many variables to make for a good counterfactual. The best "minimal rewrite" of history must therefore focus on the final German bid to seize Moscow, an offensive known as Operation Typhoon.

Here is how Typhoon might have played out:

When the operation begins, Army Group Center enjoys a substantial advantage over the Soviet forces assigned to defend Moscow. It has at its disposal 1.9 million men, 48,000 artillery pieces, 1,400 aircraft, and 1,000 tanks. In contrast, the Soviets have only 1.25 million men (many with little or no combat experience), 7,600 artillery pieces, 600 aircraft, and almost 1,000 tanks. The seeming parity in the number of tanks is misleading, however, since the overwhelming majority of Soviet tanks are obsolescent models.

Initially, Army Group Center runs roughshod over its opponents. Within a few days, it achieves the spectacular encirclement of 685,000 Soviet troops near the towns of Bryansk and Vyazma, about 100 miles west of Moscow. The hapless Russians look to the skies for the onset of rain, for this is the season of the rasputitsa—literally the "time without roads"—when heavy rainfall turns the fields and unpaved roads into muddy quagmires. But this year the weather fails to rescue them, and by early November frost has so hardened the ground that German mobility is assured. With Herculean efforts from German supply units, Army Group Center continues to lunge directly for Moscow.

Thoroughly alarmed, the Stalin regime evacuates the government 420 miles east to Kuybyshev, north of the Caspian Sea. It also evacuates a million Moscow inhabitants, prepares to dynamite the Kremlin rather than have it fall into German hands, and makes plans to remove Lenin's tomb to a safe place. Stalin alone remains in Moscow until mid-November, when the first German troops reach the city in force. And in obedience to Hitler's order, Fedor von Bock uses Army Group Center to surround Moscow, instead of fighting for the city street by street. Nonetheless, the Soviet troops withdraw rather than fall prey to yet another disastrous encirclement, and on November 30—precisely two months after Operation Typhoon begins—it culminates in the capture of Moscow.

The above scenario is historically correct in many respects. The three major departures are the absence of the rasputitsa, which did indeed bog down the German offensive for two crucial weeks; the headlong drive toward Moscow rather than the diversion of units to lesser objectives in the wake of the victory at Bryansk and Vyazma—a major error; and, of course, the capture of Moscow itself.

But would the fall of Moscow have meant the defeat of the Soviet Union? Almost certainly not. In 1941 the Soviet Union endured the capture of numerous major cities, a huge percentage of crucial raw materials, and the loss of four million troops. Yet it still continued to fight. It had a vast and growing industrial base east of the Ural Mountains, well out of reach of German forces. And in Joseph Stalin it had one of the most ruthless leaders in world history—a man utterly unlikely to throw in the towel because of the loss of any city, no matter how prestigious.

A scenario involving Moscow's fall also ignores the arrival of 18 divisions of troops from Siberia—fresh, well-trained, and equipped for winter fighting. They had been guarding against a possible Japanese invasion, but a Soviet spy reliably informed Stalin that Japan would turn southward, toward the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, thereby freeing them to come to the Moscow front. Historically, the arrival of these troops took the Germans by surprise, and an unexpected Soviet counteroffensive in early December 1941 produced a major military crisis. Surprised and disturbed, Hitler's field commanders urged a temporary retreat in order to consolidate the German defenses. But Hitler refused, instead ordering that German troops continue to hold their ground. Historically they managed to do so. However, with German forces extended as far as Moscow and pinned to the city's defense, this probably would not have been possible. Ironically, for the Germans, the seeming triumph of Moscow's capture might well have brought early disaster.

109 Responses to “What If the Germans Had Captured Moscow in 1941?”

  1. 1
    Dan Bennett says:

    Your scenario lacks the strength of one thing. It fails to take into account the abominable state of Bock's armies in the autumn of 41. Add to this that Hitler expressly ordered that the city be taken, like you said, by enveloping the city from the east. This added an extra 50-60 miles to the route of advance of Reinhardt and Guderian's panzer armies, an added length they were quite unlikely to reach in their desperate state. If indeed they went directly at the capital, they may have garnered the strength to perhaps reach it but in my opinion, the eventual urban fight for the city center would have made Stalingrad look like a training exercise.Stalin would've lost some semblance of command and control, but like you said, this megalomaniacal madmen probably would have found the resources to stay in the fight. No. Moscow was for all intents and purposes, forfeited by the Wehrmacht when they diverted large forces to Yugoslavia & Greece, 6 weeks before the launching of Barbarossa. Or, had Guderian and Reinhardt's group been reinforced with Hoepner's group 1 month earlier than it was, maybe this might have allowed the Germans to reach Moscow. I still believe the actual taking of the city by the German Army was quite impossible.

    • 1.1
      Lachlan Hall says:

      Dan's point in my opinion is valid. The germans state when reaching Moscow would be horrendous. However I think the german generals at this point would have learned a vital lesson in Stalingrad. If somehow Germany won the battle, I think the wehrmacht and the luftwaffe would have started small scale air raids and penetration raids in Moscow,so basically I'm thinking that they would use hit and run tactics. An example of such a raid would include taking out railways/highways leading into Moscow proper, drop bombs on known soviet armories and arms factories and then fade away, or taking out Russian tanks and artillery. The Blitzkrieg opening attack is a sort of hit and run in my opinion.The Germans looked for vulnerable areas in the enemy lines and attack using SS Panzer and grenadier units. The Blitzkrieg would be great for hit and run if they then fained retreat so it would draw russian soldiers out, which could then be mowed down.
      The Germans I hope would continue hitting and running more and more frequently while increasing the size of attacks until the soldiers in Moscow become too tired, too spread out, and too hungry. When Moscow lost all of its tanks and artillery pieces then the would the wehrmacht march in and take the kremlin and accept Moscow's surrender.
      In the end, the goal of this strategy is to prevent a slugging match while effectively breaking the rest of the Russian army which Stalin forgot to purge after Trotsky's exile.
      However I do not know everything, such as Moscow's defense, as Moscow was never in great danger from invasion. Russia could have pulled off a miracle and somehow save Moscow from the Germans. In the end I'm only a student in high school, who is a major history buff and military fanatic.The attack on Moscow that I have provided is only what I would have done in this situation of mine. if only Hitler hadn't screwed everything up when he did not allow German generals act on their wealth of knowledge instead of acting Hitler's small bit of knowledge on strategy and psychological paranoia and craziness.

      • 1.1.1
        Ronald Lameck says:

        Lachlan: The German generals could not have learned anything from Stalingrad in late 1941 for the very excellent reason that in 1941 the Wehrmacht never came within 990 Km. (615 miles) of the city. They advanced as far east as Rostov, but were forced to evacuate from it & winter on the Mius R.

  2. 2
    Ron Lameck says:

    Moscow should not have been the priority of Barbarossa anyway. It should have been Leningrad. Taking Leningrad would:
    1. greatly relieve the Axis supply problems,
    2. allow the line to be shortened,
    3. allow the bulk of the Finnish army to move north to help Armee
    Lapland seize Murmansk, the only all- weather port in the western
    "Lend-Lease" would be much disrupted – the Kriegsmarine could
    use Murmansk as a base, making Archangelsk to dangerous to
    ship to..
    4. provide a superb base for communications, hospitals, troop
    R&R, etc.
    5. render the Baltic an Axis lake, easing transport, etc.

    Moscow COULD have been taken in 1941, but would likely be the site of a protracted fight in 1942. The "Stalingrad" view above would not come to pass: The Axis would not be at the end of a lengthy supply line while the S.U. would have to ship men and materiels much farther. The S.U. loss of its main communications and production centre would seriously weaken its military effectiveness. The main question is "What effect would the loss of Moscow have on the MANY unwilling citizens of the S.U. – Uzbeks, Kalmuks, Kazakhs, etc.?" They didn't like Russians any better than Hitler did.

    • 2.1
      Carlos G says:

      Germany lost the war when it did harass the population of the conquered S.U. territory considered of "a lesser level". Had it labeled the populations of Belarus and the Ukraine as "freed populations" and tried to conquer their trust, History would have been different. Even more so if Germany had fullheartedly backed the "Russian Liberation Army" and asked the prisioners taken if they wanted to join it and cooperate in freeing Russia from the claws of Stalin and the communists.

      • 2.1.1
        Carlos G says:

        Germany would have many mouths to feed but also gained a lot of manpower to work on the fields and so contributing to the war effort.

    • 2.2
      Tony says:

      What you say makes good sense, Ron, but only if the Germans were expecting a lengthy conflict. In reality, they did not expect to be fighting much past the end of 1941. Hitler expected the war to be essentially over before the worst winter weather arrived. Given that, would he have worried much about things like cutting the Soviets off from Lend-Lease, or establishing secure, high-capacity supply lines for his own army?

  3. 3
    mike says:

    Nazis should have captured moscow in the fall of 1941 and if hitler had not went against his generals experienced advice and diverted his center army after the battle of smolensk,they would have

  4. 4
    Larry C. says:

    The taking of an area or city for political propaganda as opposed to taking an area that results in the (1) the destruction of the enemy force, or (2) adds resources to one’s effort, or (3) facilitates ones logistics is faulty strategy. Hitler wanted Moscow for the political propaganda. As Mr. Lamek suggests, a different strategy may have resulted on a much better outcome for the Nazis. The other problem was that the Germans had really very little concept of what a cold winter really could be. As stated, that winter was not particularly harsh; nevertheless, their tanks could not move in the cold nor turn their turrets. Ideally, the Germans should have “hunkered down” into a defensive line for the winter, regardless of which strategy they took. Unless one is well prepared for winter, one should ride it out. I am from Northern Canada. Even in this day of great communication, I see unpreparedness for winter. Canadian construction contractor work well all winter. American contractors from the south of the USA are crippled in the Canadian winter.

  5. 5
    Mark S says:

    After smolensk the focus should defintely have been Moscow. Moscow in 1941 was the centre of the soviet state. All rail traffic went through Moscow, significant arms were still being manufactured in Moscow, the industrial capability of Moscow was still largely intact with little having actually been moved further East. Approximately 15% of the entire soviet population was living in and around Moscow and much of these people were the more qualified within the Soviet Union aside from the Leadership in all spheres, its doubtful any significant % would have been able to get out of a pincer attack that surrounds Moscow south through Tula north through Klin and sealing the ring just before Vladimir. A Highly likely outcome given the number of daylight hours for operations, the historical weather and the kill and penetrative capabilities of the German units. This would have allowed the investment of Moscow to take place and certainly its surrender, panic along the lines of a Kiev or Minsk. The ongoing alteration of rail gauge adjustment from narrow to wide would have continued to progress at 20 km's per day ensuring that supply into Moscow would have been seamless. Any arriving Siberians would have no ability to deploy laterally given the single rail approach as Moscow had been taken. defence with resupply and much of the additional Soviet armed forces capability eliminated through the loss of Moscow a large winter offensive would have been impossible. If the Soviets were to continue which would be seriously doubtful they would have had to pull back. Supplies from Murmansk and Archangel would have been disrupted permanently without the rail corridor and Leningrad would have surrendered. Essentially the Critical nature of the Moscow Rail Hub would have secured German objectives on the Northern flank comprehensively, together with its population, industrial and political capabilities would have been significantly compromised. The germans would have passed the tipping point and the road to victory been all but guaranteed. The fact that Hitler elected to drive South to conduct the encirclement at Kiev and capture / destroy 660 000 is a tactical win though pales into insignificance against what could have been accomplished with a Moscow victory. ( The latter would have been a strategic game changer). The Kiev thrust gave the Soviets the ability to whether the storm of Operation Typhoon and contain the Germans before leveraging a counterattack with winter as their sweet ally. Certainly Adolf was the Soviets most admirable ally though given his gross interference and incompetence in all matters requiring strategic military thought. (Seems to have been consistently more focussed on controlling coal mines than the destruction of the soviet armed forces capability and the capturing & or destruction of its population industrial, political and logistical capability.

    • 5.1
      wes m says:

      My comment is a little late. Couldn't miss the opportunity to say your analysis is right on. I have no doubt if Germany had proceeded as you aptly stated Stalin would come crawling on his knees to give Hitler all he wanted for an agreed settlement.

    • 5.2
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Mark overlooks several key factors:

      1. Most S.U. administration and personnel were already being moved to Kuibyshev (and, I believe, Saratov), as had many civilians. So they would not be in Moscow to capture or destroy anyway.

      2. Leningrad was also a major manufacturing centre.

      3. What to do about the S.U. forces gathered near Kiev, which would have been free to make a potentially devastating attack at the Wehrmacht flank?

      It gets circular here, but to take Leningrad, with the ensuing collapse of Murmansk and the entire northern part of the S.U. front would have
      greatly shortened the Wehrmacht front. It would have put a huge hole in S.U. "Lend-Lease" aid. That would not be drastic in 1941, but would have been later. Virtually all the armour and mobile forces of Heeresgruppe Nord could have been added to the order of battle for use elsewhere.
      The negative effect on the morale of the S.U. and its foolish Allies, couped with the positive effect on Axis morale, is difficult to empirically quantifiy, but would have been profound. For one thing, it is doubtful that Britain would have declared against Finland in Dec. 1941. The Finns would have remained a useful force for offensive actions (if needed). Maybe Bulgaria and even Turkey might have joined the Axis.
      The point is, notions of overcoming the largest nation on earth in a 6-week campaign were deleriously optimistic from the outset. It was an unrealistic expectation. As Napoleon's misadventure of 1812 showed, capture of Moscow was not going to be sufficient to win the war.

    • 5.3
      Christopher says:

      I greatly agree with Mark. Most people understimate few things about Moscow: Its population, industrail capacity and rail traffic. Look at the rail map: Everything goes through Moscow especially all transports to the north! Capturing Moscow would paralyze Soviet northern front. Also, it would be hard to deploy Soviet forces after capture of Moscow because closest places where you can do so the the east are 100 Km away. The author of article states that 1 milion residents would evacuate but forgets to mention that 6 milions were living in and around Moscow and let's say that also 50% of industrial capacity would be relocated to the east. But that's still a great loss. Soviet forces in Kiev were a threat but if you look at their organization and the preassure of German Army Group South it is clear that they wouldn't be able to counterattack on a flank. They would retreat east. The question for me is that what would hapen after (winter 1941-42). Most of the Soviet southern front intact, Siberian forces coming and new Soviet armies in Center would have a capability to counterattack like Soviets did in reality but after this scenario of capturing Moscow I would give this counteroffensive 60-40 in favour of Soviets that they would recapture Moscow beacause in reality Moscow was a basis of deploment and command on this counteroffensive.

    • 5.4
      Marek says:

      must add albeit very late that Mark's argument is very well thought out. Moscow was the communication hub from which the Communist organ sent out orders. Even surrounding it and severing communications would have changed things tremendously, especially if accomplished before the beginning of October.

  6. 6
    Trent says:

    The reason the Wehrmacht didnt succeed in the Soviet Union is the lack of a main strategy. Hitler wanted both the destruction of soviet armies by ways of mass encirculments and the capture of resources and cities to feed propangda and industry. Hitler changed his goal a few times giving soviets just enough time to hold fast giving the Germans tactical but not strategic victories. Indeed the Germans needed to both destry the soviet armies and gain cities and resources, however the strategy was changed at times when the Germans may have been better 'sticking to the job at hand'. Had the Germans focused on the destruction of soviet armies before making geographic goals then perhaps Moscow would have been taken a lot easier. Or perhaps the german focused on the taking of Moscow and Leningrad for strategic victories which should have bottle necked soviet supplies and troop movements whilst freeing up supply lines for the Germans. Then the Germans could go about destroy the soviet armies. Had Moscow fallen so would have Leningrad almost ensuring a german victory in the east. Perhaps there would be so more huge battles but germany would be without the disadvantages of supply amongst other things that hampered their war effort til the end of the war. Again a typical case of hitlers poor decisions.

  7. 7
    Gavin M says:

    Taking of Moscow would not have made any difference, as Russia still had resources, factories etc east of Urals, plus Baku and oil.
    To have had any chance of success, Operation Barbarossa required the taking of Baku and the oil fields in 1941 as well as Moscow and hence an attack of 4 army groups (with co-operation or coercion of Turkey) in total (perhaps 5 million men, possible if Total war enacted in 1939/40 not 1943). With the oil secured, the Soviets ability to fuel its tanks and armies greatly reduced. By end of 1941 a line from Rostov to Astrakhan could be secured. Then 1942 a further push towards cities like Perm, effectively taking all of Western Russia, with the war in the east won by end 1942.

  8. 8
    Trent says:

    I disagree Gavin. Whatever the Soviets lost the Germans gained making the battle exponentially harder for the Soviets. I do believe the Soviets would have fought on in a heroic battle had the Germans taken Moscow. Germans would have won the central railway lines, and in a few weeks the german rail lines could run from the factories in Germany straight to the front and reinforce, whilst also taking away that advantage from the Soviets. This would also severely damage soviet morale, whilst lifting the Germans. The taking of a capital has always been detrimental in warfare throughout the ages. The German panzer divisions were at u strength by the start of Barbarossa. Had they been at  or 0 then I think World War 2 would have been lost by the Allies. Imagine if there were 200 German divisions on the atlantic wall (assuming the SU lost) – this would be impossible to invade. The Luftwaffe could seriously challenge the RAF and USAAF causing far less damage to german industry, which means more tanks, more aircraft, more AA/AT and more oil synthesization. The knock-on affects of the victory of the battle of moscow are scary.

  9. 9
    James Minton says:

    I'm only a teen, so bear with me…

    What I know was the biggest problem for the Germans by this point was need for petrol for their tanks, planes and etc. I remember one source I heard saying that a big error on Hitler's part was sending his southern group towards the oil fields AND Stalingrad.

    Back on subject, what Trent says is correct. Had the SU fallen and the majority of the Wermacht been on the Atlantic Wall, D-Day would've failed horribly. The transport boats wouldn't have even made it to their beaches, while the lucky ones that did would get picked off by artillery fire. Trent again is accurate on the lack of main strategy. As I said about the southern group, Hitler split in half a large army simply because a city DARED be named after his foe Stalin. If Hitler'd let the task force go all at Stalingrad or the oil fields, he would've succeeded.

    • 9.1
      Christopher says:

      You are speaking about 1942 German offensive (Operation Edelweiss) Not 1941 (Barbarossa and Typhoon) so it's not a point. I am sorry if I will sound agressive but I really dislike the point of Germans lacking petrol in 1941/42. Surely they were lacking it later but they were still able to survive without any petrol fields (I know they had Ploesti in Romania and some very minor ones across Europe) until they went dry in late 1944 so that's not the point in this discussion

  10. 10
    AlanT says:

    It is unlikely the Germans could have taken Moscow. The weather might have been less inhospitable, but it was still going to rain in October to some extent. What was holding back the Germans more than anything was logistics, or rather lack thereof. Not enough petrol, spare parts, winter gear, ammo, etc. German trains were not running in sufficient quantities even when the rails had been re-guaged.

    Had the germans not turned south to make the pocket at Kiev the Soviets there would've held out and threatened Army Group Center's long right flank. They had been doing this since the Germans too Smolensk.

    Read David Stahel's books on Barbarossa, Kiev and Typhoon, along with Glantz. The pro-German histories written by German Generals or primarily using their notes written in the '60's and '70's have been partially/fully debunked. The numbers of prisoners taken at Kiev have been revised downward, though it was still a significant victory for the Germans.

    48,000 pieces of artillery for the Germans in Typhoon – that's a totally bogus number. Check other sources for all those German/Soviet numbers and you will see they are not accurate. For example wikipedia (Battle of Moscow) credits the Soviets with 3,232 tanks and the Germans with only 549 aircraft initially.

    Someone mentioned Germanreinforcements pouring in over rail lines to Moscow if it were taken. The German rail system collapsed for awhile because they had very few trains that could operate in Russia in the winter. Also, there were few remaining replacements (men) and tank production had earlier been reduced in favor of U-boats and aircraft. (Because the Soviets were supposed to have been defeated and Germany was going to turn back on England in 1942.)

    • 10.1
      Gavin M says:


      1. The guages (rail width) used by Germany and USSR were different.

      2. Over such distances through hostile populaces, sabotage would in all likelyhood severely hamper reinforcements.

  11. 11
    ralph says:

    hitler was an idiot.. if he wanted Stalingrad he should have tried to persuaded turkey to get involved and promise them victory and more land.. he's an idiot for declaring war on usa especially when japan wouldn't declare war on the ussr and back the germans. if Russia had a 2 front war they would have collapsed. like someone said above he should have took leningrad instead of trying to starve the people in the city and then take mumansk. then storm to Moscow and build defences. and in the phony war year he should have tried an invasion of Britain regardless of the losses. if Britain fell Canada, australia, new Zealand would be out of the war, Britain stayed a live because of food and supplys from Canada. offensive wars usually win wars but he didn't know the right time to defend or let up

  12. 12
    Lyndon says:

    How far East did German aircraft operate during the invasion of Soviet Union?

    Did they ever strafe or bomb the Urals and Siberia?

    Using Lapland as a base, why didn't the Germans and Finns attack Murmansk and Archangel?

    Just love the thoughtful insight that goes into all these comments!!!

    Keep it up, fellers!!!

  13. 13
    Brendan says:

    I thought the winter of 1941 was the coldest winter in 150 years?

    Had the Germans used the resources used in 1942 for Case Blue (Fall Blau), and had Hitler not sacked Guderian, Brauchitsch, and the other top generals of the OKH in 1941, then a offensive after Typhoon in 1942 would have succeeded in capturing Moscow. While Moscow was obviously not as important as Leningrad, in terms of lendlease and Artic supply routes, Moscow was central railway junction for the entirety of the western SU, and taking Moscow in 1941 or 1942 would have effectively cut the SU in half. This would mean that the resources from the south and Black Sea (i.e. industrial centers such as the Crimea, Stalingrad, Karkov and others) would not be able to be sent to other parts of the SU, and Leningrad, already crippled and under siege, would not be able to rely on the Ladoga lifeline. So while the capture of Moscow in either 1941, or 1942 would (probably) not have meant the surrender of the SU, it may have meant a much longer war in general, or at least increased political pressure on Stalin and the threat of a coup as more losses are taken (not quite sure about that last part).

  14. 14
    Greg says:

    Leningrad was irrelevant. Hitler didn't want to feed a city of that size. And the Finns (presciently as it turned out) refused to attack beyond their 1939 borders. Moscow on the other hand was the command and control center. If it fell, the USSR would become disorganized and collapse.

    • 14.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Greg, we are getting somewhat circular here. Leningrad was the 2d-most important industrial city in the S.U. It was also a sea port which would allow Nazi supply access in a "partisan-proof" way for half of the years. With it taken, the Finns could transfer their troops north to either play a defensive role on the coast, at the Petsamo nickel mines or to allow 20th Mountain Army to devote its full resources to seizing Murmansk.
      Loss of Murmansk would virtually shut down Allied "Lend-Lease" except by southern or eastern routes The Nazis could base U-boats and the Tirpitz there, out of range of Allied bombers. The Allies would not want to risk capital ships in the Barents Sea, because serious damage would be the same as having the ship sunk – it probably could not make a safe port.
      Hitler had no use for Leningrad, and would have destroyed it in truly Biblical fashion if he'd had the wherewithal. But it would be a good supply and hospital and rest base for die Wehrmacht. With its fall, the ultimate loss of Moscow would be all but guaranteed.
      The psychological effect on Soviet morale – and on German – would be immeasurable. For the Soviets, a catastrophe, for the Nazi, like winning the Gold Cup of Soccer.
      What makes you think Hitler would bother to feed the population? That's what Lake Ladoga was for – load them up on barges, flot the barges into the lake, and use them for artillery and bomber practice.
      This was a "tried and true" Soviet method, used to exterminate a large number of the nearly 22,000 Polish military officers they captured in 1939.

  15. 15
    CHARLIE BOY says:




    • 15.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Charlie Boy: Maybe you need to sober up before entering a comment. Your conclusions are ludicrous.
      1. Contrary to your belief or desire, the people who take time to comment in this or other fora are not "fools." For the most part, they have a reasionable knowledge of the facts of history. They debate issues much like "armchair quarterbacks."

      2. "Without (U.S.?) entering the war all of Europe (would?) be German right now." But the U.S. only entered the war against Germany upon Hitler's declaration or 11 Dec. 1941. Had he not so acted, there is abundant evidence that the U.S. would have remained militarily aloof to Europe and devoted all of its military attention to Japan.
      It likely still would have sent arms & supplies to Britain – and perhaps to the S.U. but, without its large military contribution, N. Africa would have remained in a stale-mate. The substantial Axis forces not thereby diverted may have been enough to tip the scale against the S.U.
      Without U.S. intervention, in N. Africa, the Nazis would not have felt the need to over-run S. France ("Vichy"). Italy and its possessions would remain active in the Axis.
      There would have not been the invasions of Sicily, Italy, S.France or "D-Day." Rumania, Hungary, Slovakia would remain independent nations.
      That paints a picture of a Europe that is no where near "German" – not any more than it is today with Germany as the leading entity of the European Union.

      3. Fighting on 2 fronts: Hitler was not the 1st or the only to do so – not even in WWII. The U.S. did. Britain did. One of Hitler's heroes, Friedrich der Grosse did. Napoleon often did. It's a strategy born of necessity, but is only a bad strategy if you lose. In mid-1941, it seemed a worthwhile risk. Only "20-20 hindsight" can criticise it.

      4. Even by 1947, the bi-polar drunkard Churchill, speaking in respect of Hitler and Stalin, noted "We killed the worng pig."
      In 1942, he declared that he did not become the King's First Minister so that he could bring about the break-up of the British Empire. But that is precisel;y what he did do.
      He later said "It is better to jaw, jaw than to war, war" – but he refused NINE offers of peace negotiation with the Nazis.
      He COULD have accepted an honourable peace in 1940 and saved countless millions of lives and the turning of E.Europe into a S.U. colony/gulag. But foresight and global thinking were never his fortes.

      5. Now, about 70 years on, the S.U. is only a memory. The Nazis are history. But Europe is strong – perhaps as strong collectively as it ever was. What does this prove? It proves "There has never been a good war, or a bad peace." – Benjamin Franklin, letter, 11 Sep. 1783.

      • 15.1.1
        Neil R says:

        Oh and Hitler's offers of peace negotiations would have been honoured would they? Next you will be telling me that all his preparations and invasions without notice of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia (its ally at the time in Poland) etc etc were just simple misunderstandings were they!!!!. I don't know what country you are from, USA probably, but thank your lucky stars that Churchill alone saw what Hitler 's murderous intention of World domination was, and led Britain and it's Commonwealth to stand up to him. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and your statement of peace negotiations is laughable.

      • 15.1.2
        duda says:

        Hitler seemed to appreciate great Britain. He didn't want to actually fight them and held off for months before planning operation sea lion. He had always been confident that they would accept peace terms and I think part of that was him hoping they would because of them being decedents of the aryian race. Still it's very good that they did not cave. Giving the royal navy to him would have made Germany unstoppable. And not giving into them meant gb would never fall to them since invading gb was out of the question. Hitler should not have invaded the Soviet Union until gb was neutralized. But again he was hopeful that he wouldn't have to kill them off and thought trashing the soviets would make them cave in.

  16. 16
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Neil: We shall see exactly who is making laughable statements. It is extremely clear that you possess crushingly little knowledge of what you write, and that knowledge has enormous lacunae in it.

    WHO has ever given notice of an invasion? Knock, knock. \Who's there?\ \Goons. We're here to invade your home.\

    Re: Czechoslovakia. After being forced to cede Sudetenland by the intimidation of Britain, France and Italy over the strident objection of the Soviets, it's government was mad to expect all to be sweetness and light thereafter. Hitler made his intentions crystal clear in \Mein Kampf\ 14 years earlier – he wanted to reform the old Holy Roman Empire. The Czech army was about as large as the Wehrmacht of the time and had, for the most part, superior armour. Why did it not lift a finger in the nation's defense if this was an \invasion?\

    Re: Poland. Again, Hitler made his desire crystal clear. Poland knew that, between the Nazis and Soviets, it was a fish between two hungry cats. A glance at a map would show that, if attacked, it would be in a grievous state long before belligerent Britain or reluctant France could do anything. But the ruling junta foolishly accepted Chamberlain's demented \guarantee\ and stopped negotiation with Germany. Poland COULD have treated with Germany and became its ally. That would have added 35 divisions to the Unternehmen Barbarossa order-of-battle, moved the jump-off point some 600 Km. further East, and virtually assured the defeat of the S.U. within the 1st year of assault. What did it gain by falling for the British bovine scatology? – Wholesale destruction.

    Re: Netherlands/Belgium/Luxembourg. They hitched their wagon to the British/French tarnished star. Not like the Dyle Plan was any secret. They had the choice to proclaim neutrality at the outset, but did not and suffered the consequences of being room to maneuver – for both Germans AND Allies. Note that, on a per-capita basis, these two countries gave among the highest numbers of volunteers to the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS.

    Re: France. You ARE joking, right? France declared war on Germany. It made a half-hearted attack across the border on & Sept. 1939 that was easily brushed back. Then you expect Germany to send a bouquet of roses along with a note \Hey. We'll be in your neighbourhood. Mind if we look in?\

    Re: Denmark. Entered by Germany solely as flank protection for Weserubung.

    Re: Norway. Hmm. Germany got most of its iron ore from Sweden via Norway. Britain illegally entered Norway's waters to lay sea mines. The R.N. destroyer \Cossack\ illegally entered its waters to seize British prisoners-of-war from the German freighter \Altmark.\ There was a combined British-French invasion force already at sea when the Wehrmacht beat them to the punch. WHO committed the acts of war against that neutral sovereign nation? (hint: NOT Germany).

    Re: Yugoslavia. In March 1941, the Yugoslav government joined the Axis Tripartite Pact. It was overthrown in a coup-d-etat just days later. The new \government\ showed no intent to honour its commitment. Germany needed to bail out Italy from its ill-conceived invasion of Greece in Oct. 1940. It also needed to guard its flank for the upcoming \Barbarossa\. Yugoslavs could have avoided any pain by proving allegiance to the Pact. No such effort was ever made, so they suffered the obvious consequence.

    Re: Greece. ITALY invaded Greece in Oct. 1940 without informing its ally, Germany. Britain had been sheltering and re-fueling its navy ships at Greece, rendering Greece no longer a neutral, but rather an abettor of Italy's enemy. The attack was a fiasco.
    The Wehrmacht came in April 1941 and made short work of the situation. Another country attacked solely because of its bad decision to affiliate with the war-monging Britain.

    Re: \Russia\ – hint: Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Russia was merely one of its federated republics. Again, Hitler made his intent crystal clear in \Mein Kampf.\ The Soviets certainly knew it, and were certainly NOT surprised by \Barbarossa\, despite their propaganda to the contrary in subsequent years.

    Had Britain stayed neutral in 1939, Canada would not have been silly enough to declare. 40,000 of its citizens would not have died and its national debt would have been vastly smaller.

    No Neil All WWII did was postpone the very situation we have today, and at a cost of 10's of millions of lives. All lost to appease the egos of Chamberlain and Churchill. Thanks for NOTHING.

    • 16.1
      Trent says:

      I do enjoy your writing Ronald. An interesting view on the British situation at the time, it makes for a more 'defensive minded' Germany than commonly accepted history suggests. Although I will have to put your facts to scrutiny before I can agree with your analysis.

      • 16.1.1
        Ronald Lameck says:

        Trent: I defy anyone to find a single word written by Hitler, or uttered by him prior to the French surrender in end of June 1940 the displayed any belligerent approach toward the British Empire or Western Europe. In fact, on 11 August 1939, he said to Carl Burckhardt (League of Nations High Commissioner for Danzig)

        Everything I undertake is directed against Russia (Soviet Union). If
        the West is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, I will be
        forced to reach an understanding with the Russians (S.U.) , turn and
        strike the West, and then after their defeat turn back against the
        Soviet Union with my collected strength. I need the Ukraine and with
        that, no one can starve us out as they did in the last war.

        THAT is precisely what he did do. All the rubbish about wanting to conquer the world is booze-infused post-war propaganda spewed by Churchill to justify the colossal error he made that led to many millions more deaths (including the so-called Holocaust and the dismemberment of the British Empire) and far more destruction than was necessary.
        Read what Churchill wrote about Hitler in his 1937 book Great Contemporaries to find him singing a completely different song. No government should ever allow a bi-polar to have highest authority.

  17. 17
    rugrat says:

    Had Churchill made peace with Hitler this would b a different world we would b living in Hitler would have almost certainly beat Russia. First of all the Luftwaffe would have been a far more effective fighting force. There wouldn't have been a campaign in north Africa providing more troops for the east. There wouldn't have been a month delay in operation barberossa also Japan seeing that Hitler was very likely to beat Russia would have invaded from Manchuria. Having made this assessment what would the world be like today Hitler reAlly didn't start exterminating the Jews until the war started looking like he might loose. he was originally just thinking of sending them east or to Madagascar
    We would have still researched the atom bomb and in that case would have been safe behind our oceans
    Great Britain would have saved billions of dollars from lend lease all the while keeping her colonies
    Germany the leading aviation industry might have made great advances in technology maybe we would b on our way mars by now.
    No cold war with the Soviet union sparring 55 years of east European dark
    Hitler with the onset of Parkinson's disease as early as 42 might have been deposed by 48
    Was the loss of all those American British and Canadian soldiers on African and European soil really necessary?

    • 17.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      I agree almost 100% with rugrat.
      Note about Churchill that on 10 Nov. 1942 he said that he had not become the King's First Minister to oversee the Empire's dismembering. But that is precisely what was the result of his dogmatic, unnecessary continuance of the war.
      On 26 June 1954, he said that is was better to jaw, jaw than to war, war. Why did he lack this wisdom in summer 1940, when he rejected NINE offers from Hitler to negotiate peace?
      He is attributed to have said (on any or all of 1947, 26 March 1948, or 1960) that "we killed the wrong pig." Once again, 20-20 hindsight.
      This from a reputed "great man." If THAT is "great", give me ordinary.

    • 17.2
      duda says:

      I think had the Germans not been so desperate in 1942 that they would have continued investing in their nuclear program rather than turn to rockets as the quick solution to their problem against Russia. In that case they may have beaten the usa to it. But set aside who gets the big bomb first, a few nuclear weapons hardly matter against a victorious army. Japan was already dead when we used the bombs on them and I doubt it had much to do with being the reason for surrender. Nukes brought peace more than they brought death. With both sides having them and uk friendly to Germany then the usa would also not be aggressive. The world may have been a better place. We would likely be decades ahead rather than having to rebuild everything again. And the usa would not have become such a giant with it not having the opportunity to put bases around the world and capture all of those German scientists. They'd probably still be farmers.

      I'm pretty sure Hitler would not have stayed in power for too long. Eventually someone would have gotten him. If not his illness would. It's unlikely that an organization like the gestapo would have lasted long. The hate would have faded away or people would have rose up against it.

      • 17.2.1
        Ronald Lameck says:

        duda: Respectfully, all your outlook is saying is that, if things had not stayed the same, they would have been different. Obviously, had a coherent and consistent strategy been followed for Barbarossa, it would have been possible to have the Soviets on the ropes (at least) by the end of 1941. If Leningrad had been taken, the Finns could have detached a large force north to aid in the capture of Murmansk. In that circumstance, the Finns may have completely ignored the British declaration of war against them on 6 Dec. or, possibly, Britain may not have made it in the first place, seeing the Soviets as done like dinner. Had Hitler not been so rash as to declare war on the U.S. on 11 Dec., there is a good chance the U.S. may have opted to direct its priority on fighting Japan. The war in Europe would have seen German supreme on the continent in a way that Napoleon dreamed of, but never attained.
        Britain may have realised that it could not defeat Germany in those circumstances and made a peace. And if rainwater was beer, we would all be happy.

  18. 18
    Jackopath says:

    I think you guys are taking the revisionist point of view too far… and you're being unfair to Churchill, and even Chamberlain. It was Conservative PM Stanley Baldwin that committed the UK to a appeasement path long before Chamberlin and Churchill had a shot at being First Minister. Chamberlin was trying to hold off conflict until England was ready to fight. He relunctantly brought WSC into the Cabinet as hostiliteis commenced and put him in a job, Firt Lord of the Admiralty, where he had almost no impact on the conduct of the war until he became PM after the War in France had been decided.

    I think your critiques of the British border on the absurd. They viewed the Germans as hun… barbarians… and they were right. They rejected Peace outright with the Nazis stating that they would be better off \…lying on the ground choking in their own blood…\ then giving into Hitler. I can see someone not liking WSC's political views and the negative results that have come from them in certain ways and in certain points of view. But, do you really go so far as to see Hitler, Stalin and Churchill as moral equivalents? I think that goes way too far.

  19. 19
    Jackopath says:

    But on the question of the day… Debates about tactics and operational strategy are difficult to resolve. I think if the Nazi's weren't so hate and race driven, and not committed such horrific attrocities upon the local populations, found support in the Caucuses and the Ukraine, they could have destroyed the SU in 1941. They had to put a lot of resources into controling the territory they conquered and created fanatical enemies out of people that could just as easily surrendered. Since the German's defeated the Russians in 1917, they could have repeated… instead they ended up like Napolean. Anyone who's been to Moscow will tell you that the German's were actually quite close to the center of the City than the history books describe… I think if they had not laid waste to the whole of Eastern Europe and had not distracted themselves with Greece, Caucuses, etc… and taken Moscow… they'd still be speaking German today. If you look at what they did with their special actions groups and pogroms against commisars and Jews… they just lost their minds and I think that cost them the war.

  20. 20
    Ronald Lameck says:

    To try to take Moscow at the onset of winter with a severely depleted army at the end of a tenuous supply line that was already experiencing partisan attacks creates a sure recipe for disaster the would make Bonaparte's 1812 seem a picnic by comparison.
    1. For the S.U. to launch counter-attacks from 100 km. distance would be no big thing: armour or cavalry could easily traverse that distance in just a few hours.
    2. All the rail lines leading toward Moscow would still exist, and the Red Army could move troops forward using armoured trains, as it did with such success in the 1917-21 civil war.
    3. The S.U. could attack from north, east and south.
    4. If, as you suggest, Kiev Military District withdrew east, that would simply e still more troops & armour available to counter-attack.
    5. Meanwhile, all of the advantages I enumerated about seizing Leningrad instead would apply if that course was taken. To partially reiterate:
    a. To gain a completely secure supply line,
    b. To drastically shorten the front – freeing up, as a minimum, an entire Armoured Group, if not an entire Army Group.
    c. To seize the \second city\ of the U.S.S.R., the spiritual centre of the Soviet ideology – would have a severe negative effect on Soviet moral and a similar extreme positive effect on Nazi morale.
    Take Leningrad and have a \slam dunk\ victory, in my view.

  21. 21
    Ronald Lameck says:

    You need to remember that Unternehmen Barbarossa was intended to be a \blitzkrieg\ campaign of just a few weeks duration (\…kick the door in and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.\) After the fact, we can easily see that was a foolish expectation. However, at the time, given Stalin's office corps purges of 37-8 and the abysmal, almost laughable performance of the Red Army against Finland in 1939-40, it was a reasonable one in the purview of many.
    Hitler was many things, but original he was not. Virtually everything his Reich did had been done by someone else before. Concentration camps? – Russians against Poles in the Partition c. 1770. British in the Boer War, a few other uses. Gas chambers for executions? – U.S.A., 1924. Treatment of \inferior races\ – U.S. treatment of Natives, gleaned from the Karl May books he so loved; universal treatment of black slaves, etc. It all probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
    Re: Greece – Unternehmen Marita happened because of a coup by pro-west Yugoslav officers against the Regency which had just made a pact with the Nazis to be benevolently neutral . The coup caused Hitler to fear the flank of the soon to be launched Barbarossa would be in jeopardy of a British attack. Greece was added to the ledger to bail out the Italian offensive, which had been beaten back and turned into a fiasco. Had there been meaningful communication among the Axis, it would not have been necessary.

  22. 22
    regertz says:

    I agree. Alexander Werth, the British journalist/historian who spent much of WWII in Russia and produced the excellent \Russia at War\, in my opinion, the best single volume history of the Russo-German war 1941-5, stressed the critical importance of the Russian rail system. Losing Moscow in August/September to an all-out early assault would have choked supplies to Leningrad and could easily have led to the fall of Leningrad in October, along with the chance to complete the destruction of the Soviet Southern Front (attacks were launched in the south and north after the Smolensk check) and capture Kiev, Kharkov, even perhaps hold Rostov. The Germans could have had time to dig in to meet any winter counterattacks and been in better position to launch an \oil offensive\ in spring 1942 as well as send more aid to Rommel. Also there is the factor of major prestige loss and at Kuibyshev Stalin's grip would have been weaker…Beria and Molotov might even have found military support for a coup to remove him from power after such disasters or at least to weaken his role, possibly leading to confusion and even collapse.

  23. 23
    Patrick says:

    \he's an idiot for declaring war on usa especially when japan wouldn't declare war on the ussr and back the germans.\

    Er…. Japan were fighting the USSR before the Germans were. That is how the Soviets worked out how to do tank warfare. In fact the returning crews turned out to be quite formidable when they swapped their BT7 tanks for T34's.

  24. 24
    Patrick says:

    \ also Japan seeing that Hitler was very likely to beat Russia would have invaded from Manchuria\

    Not necessarily. Japan's main problem was lack of oil. Thus its focus was on the Dutch East indies after China. If Germany had defeated the USSR, there could have been a link up. But there was no guarantee they would have provided enough oil. Did the Japanese really just Hitler? probably not.

    They also had their asses kicked by the soviets just before Barbarossa at the battle of Khalkhin Gol in sept 1939. By the 1940's Japanese were still a largely infantry army. Their tanks were really not very good and were no match for the T34. So they were better suited for pacific operations. So that would also have influenced them.

  25. 25
    Neil says:

    This is a very interesting discussion. I hope I'm not too late in adding my thoughts.

    There are no simple changes that can be made to the German's historic actions that would have resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although many of you have made some really well thought-out points.

    The Germans could never beat the Soviets because the USSR is just too big and had too many army reserves. Germany had few army reserves and could never supply its forces as they moved deep into Soviet territory. The German Generals advising Hitler didn't tell him of the logistical nightmare that awaited the German army.

    However, even if Germany did defeated the Soviet Union, the victory would have been short-lived as the USA would have nuked Berlin. Roosevelt delayed joining the war against Germany not because he didn't want to stop Hitler, but because he thought Russia and Britain could fight Germany on the USA's behalf (hence, Lend-Lease). Originally, Berlin was to be the first city to be nuked.

    And there could never be a cold war between the Germans and the Americans. The Germans never had the intellectual or physical resources required to produce an atom bomb. So, no matter the outcome of German operations in Europe and Russia, the Americans would have still been victorious. After all, no country could directly attack the USA.

    The only way the Germans could have had a long-term victory in Russia was if they hadn't attacked France and Britain, and had called for the liberation of the Ukraine and other countries within the USSR. Under this scenario, there would have been no Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and Poland would have either been neutral or a German ally. The Ukrainians had suffered badly at the hands of Stalin and would have fought the Russians willingly. However, this is not a realistic scenario as it would have required a very different person to Hitler to be leading Germany.

    With Hitler and the Nazis in charge of Germany, there was never any prospect of lasting peace between Germany and Russia, or Germany and Britain, or any other combination. And Hitler could never be appeased because every (political or military) victory made him more hungry for more territory and more victories.

    Also one minor point, Turkey was a lemon in military terms and would have been no help to the Germans if they had entered the war on their side.

    Overall, Hitler's victories were always going to be short-lived. Maybe the war could have last a few more years, but there is no realistic scenario in which the Germans can counter the size of Russia, the millions of Russian army reserves, and Russia's industrial might, as well as America's industrial might and America being the only country that could produce the Atomic bomb.

    • 25.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Neil needs to dial back the jingoism a very great deal and acknowledge several realities that he seems to overlook supra.

      1. The Soviet Union could have very easily been beaten. It was not an entity like the U.S. (or Germany), which had a concentrated population that generally all spoke the same language, had similar religious and political outlooks, was better educated, and was united by a common outlook on life. It was also still mostly agrarian and not an efficient industrial producer.
      Rather, it was collection of regions. Many, if not most, were forced to be part of the union. There were dozens of languages, a wide variety of cultures, numerous religions – which were all being forcibly suppressed – poorer education, a wide range of political differences – which, again, were being forcibly suppressed.
      A look at how very quickly and completely the components of the U.S.S.R. scattered like dust in the wind in the early 1990s shows how the identical thing would almost certainly have occurred if the Supreme Soviet had been jeopardised.
      As it was, the Axis got important help from Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and Cossack populations. Had Leningrad or Moscow fallen, the participation by these rebellious populations would have greatly increased, and many others would have tried to overthrow the union.
      In this, Hitler was entirely correct – all that was necessary was to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure would come crashing down. The problem was that the door was not kicked in. The Axis reached the door at Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad, and knocked on it – even pounded on it, but did not kick it in. Had any of those three fallen, it is quite likely that the U.S.S.R. would have imploded, much as it did in the 1990s.
      Then, Neil suggests the U.S. would have dropped an atomic bomb on Berlin. He does not elaborate on how this magical act would occur. However, I can easily elaborate on why that would never occur:
      . If the Axis was going to defeat the S.U., it would have happened within the first 1 to 1.5 years after attack.
      If this happened, the Axis has much, if not most of the vast S.U. resources at its disposal.
      This means all the oil it wants.
      There is ample area for Luftwaffe pilot training and weapon development. , At least 120 divisions and vast numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft could be permanently removed for use on other fronts. Which means the N. African theatre becomes the focal point of the war. A vastly reinforced Rommel would obliterate the British in Egypt.
      The political influence created by the S.U. demise would almost certainly reflect in other neutral or antigonistic nations either joining the Axis or adopting a much more friendly approach.
      – Thus, Vichy France would actively resist an operation Torch. Instead of scuttling its fleet at Toulon, it may use them to defend French N. Africa and the French Mediterranean coast.
      Spain might actively join the Axis.
      The increased Luftwaffe presence in the West would make the Allied bombing campaigns suicidal. – As it was, heavy losses caused the U.S.A.A.F. to suspend daylight raids for several months in 1943-44 until it could create long-range fighters to escort its bombers across the whole of the raid.
      But the relaxation of pressure on the German industry would allow more and faster production of the newer Luftwaffe aircraft. The P-51 would be just a smaller cannon fodder for the Me-262, He-162 and FW-183 that would be turned out instead of BF-109 or FW-190.
      The 128 mm. radar-guided anti-aircraft gun would be available in greater numbers.
      The increased Luftwaffe presence might mean more bombing of British cities instead. Maybe Britain sees reason and just makes peace.
      You can have 10,000 atomic bombs, but they are all just a lot of scrap metal if you cannot deliver them to a target – which the U.S.A.A.F. would note able to do. Far better to fight Japan and make accommodation in Europe.

  26. 26
    John says:

    Dear regertz: I full agree with you. I think that the other fellows forget the great importance of the rail lines to troops movements and supplies.
    The other important thing, have the germans pressured the Soviets continuosly to Moscow from june 22, they probably take Moscow on september 22, at the most later.
    They probably cut the rail lines needed to retreat more facilities, damaging more the SU war effort.
    After this, a fortification for autum and winter; at the same time they have time to envelope the flanks, and Leningrad and Kiev, Karkov and Rostov will fall before November. The possesion of the central rail lines will accelerate this, of course, and make the SU resistance nonsense.
    One more thing: the TANKS production of Germany was illarious, almost ridiculous for this enterprise. Hilter should start producing 2 or 3 thousand per year from 1938, at later date. Germany produced 10 thousand in 1943 after declaring total war. If he did so, they probably take Moscow and win the war.
    Forget the atomic bomb in this analisis.
    There are very interestings all the post.
    Regards feom Uruguay!

  27. 27
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Many people commenting here seem to overlook the fact that, by the 20th C., wars were fought on a continuous front. The flanks, which could be more or less disregarded in the Napoleonic Era, became vital.
    Therefore, the problem with a concentrated thrust at Moscow is that it is too obvious. The Red Army knows exactly where you are headed, and can concentrate all its effort to delay that thrust. Historically, quite clearly the destruction of Kiev Military District cost die Wehrmacht any hope of taking Moscow because of the time it took to accomplish, and the wear on equipment and personnel.
    Yet, if no effort was made to destroy or at least neutralise that force, it could have made a devastating attack on the flank of Heeresgruppe Mitte, which would have prevented or at least seriously delayed an attack at Moscow.
    Conversely, it could also have detached many of its units to reinforce the Red Army before Vyazma. Suddenly, the sweeping Wehrmacht victory would become an slogging battle of attrition – the sort of thing that the Wehrmacht was ill-prepared for.
    I still support a main effort at Leningrad to shorten the line and guarantee the Axis supply line, partisan-proof all year-round.

  28. 28
    Neil says:


    There are so many flaws in your argument I don't know where to begin. So I'll keep my reply simple. The Americans and British had cracked the German codes and had radar. These are two massive advantages, particularly if the Americans wanted to send an aircraft carrier with bombers carrying atomic bombs to Europe. Or they could simply launch their bombers from Britain, East Africa, East Russia, etc. Remember the Americans would resort to one-way, suicide missions if necessary (e.g. Doolittle raid on Japan). The power of possessing the atomic bomb cannot be underestimated. It was a game-changer.

    I realise that the USSR is comprised of many nations with different cultures, languages, etc. But what you've failed to realise is that the USSR had millions of army reserves. And a system of control, in Stalin and the NKVD, that was very effective in mobilising the people of the USSR in terms of industry and the military. There is no way that the USSR would crumble if Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad were lost. Stalin was prepared for this outcome.

    Also, if you read about industrialisation, you'll find that it was Russia that was ahead of Germany. Remember, German tanks were not mass produced. Each tank was produced by a small team of craftsmen. This meant parts were not interchangable and repairs on the battlefield were difficult.

    What you also fail to realise is that Germany had inferior tanks and weapons at the start of Operation Barbarossa. And they only had a few hundred thousand army reserves. They were running short of resources. Every territory they occupied further stretched their resources and manpower. And local peoples resisted fiercely.

    If the Germans had taken all of the Western USSR, it would have taken years before they would have gained the benefits. The Russians were prepared to destroy the oil wells and refineries at Baku. Building oil wells and refineries takes year!

    Remember, Hitler hated Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian and Cossack peoples. It wasn't until the Germans were desperate in 1942 that they started actively recruiting from these populations. The people of the USSR had two choices: Surrender to Hitler and become slaves (and probably be killed or starved to death), or fight the Germans. Not much of a choice! While many people hated Stalin, Hitler was even less tolerant. He wanted to kill everyone in the Ukraine so it could be populated with German farmers.

    As I said, there is simply no realistic scenario in which Germany can beat the USSR and win World War II. America would have never appeased Hitler. Their late entry into the war was only because they thought that Britain and the USSR would take care of Hitler for them. They would have entered the war sooner if Britain or the USSR collapsed (which as I have argued is highly unlikely).

    Ronald – Stop with the magical thinking and leaps in logic. The fall of Moscow would have certainly lengthened the war, but it wasn't a game-changer.

  29. 29
    psujoe says:

    Germans lost the war when they couldn't defeat the western front and invaded Russia. Absent their not defeating Britain they needed to embrace the non Russian countries, the biggest of which is the Ukraine whose citizens hated Russia.Failing that they really need to stay on point as far as objectives. Pick one, Leningrad or Moscow. Secure the objective and go from there. A strong pivot from Leningrad would've been a huge asset. Decimation of the Moscow industrial railroad center would be as well. Can't divide forces like this.

  30. 30
    Baybars says:

    It is interesting that most counterfactuals about WW2 in the Eastern European theatre look at a hypothetical scenario where the Germans would not make mistakes they did make whereas the Russians would make all the mistakes that actually were made. That logic seems to neglect that changing behaviour of one side may well affect the behaviour of the other side too. For instance, had Yugoslavia not had a coup on 27th March 1941 and not been invaded on 6th April, perhaps it would have finally dawned on Stalin that Hitler was happy to leave his old enemy, the Serbs, alone in order to stay on course set in Mein Kampf. Perhaps Stalin would have then at least avoided some of the Soviet's grave mistakes that helped Germans so much during the border battles.By the same token, had Hitler pushed for Moscow without taking Kiev, Stalin might have taken advantage of enemy's overstretched supply lines to attack their flanks and perhaps make Germany's ultimate defeat come much sooner than it did. And so on and so for.

  31. 31
    John says:

    I agree with you, psujoe. The objetives of Barbarossa they would be conquered one by one, trough very strong blitzkrieg type attack. The number one, withouth doubt, was Moscow. If the Germans allow Guderian to continue trough Moscow, and the Panzer reserves of two thousand (pleaes read my earlier post) come to the front, he could conquer moscow. The flank SU forces are not of danger, because infantery forces at this time, not mecanized, and withouth air superiority, can not attack the germans because of they lack of mobility. Remember that the soviet counter attacks of 1941 never ended in victory, but in a blod bath against less but well supplied German Forces. In this argumentation, please read GENERAL RAUS \Panzer Operations\. Withouth a trusted supplie line, with food and ammunition, very strong russian forces were defeated by less german forces. One more point: Moscow fall means to me the defeat of the SU, but we do not know what could hapen with the entire war.

  32. 32
    John says:

    Dear Baybar: you are true, there are more hypotesis \ what could hapen if….\ About German mistakes, than Soviet Union mistakes.
    Perhaps the great gamble of Hitler is a very interesting thinking, because he made a Poker lay, instead of deep and cientific analysis of German real capabilities of victory. I always remenber when he said in 1941 that if he would knew the size of SU army forces, he would never start the war against them.

  33. 33
    psujoe says:

    I agree that Moscow should've been the main objective once the invasion began. It was referenced earlier that Germany wasn't on a \total war\ footing until 1943. Just terrible planning and short sighted. Even using second shifts in production alone would've provided much needed equipment and supplies(on the western front as well). Capture of Moscow by September sure would've hampered Russian logistics North, South and West of Moscow. The Germans could've cut off the armies in the Ukraine at that point and straightened out the defensive line. No guarantee of German victory, but if they hold Moscow until Spring it sure would seem possible a Spring/Summer 1942 offensive could've been decisive.

  34. 34
    John says:

    Thank you for your comments, Mr. Psujoe! Really you are the first one that, knowing a lot about WWII, agree with me.
    Of course, it is a simple elucubration / suposition of both.

    I would kindly ask you two things:
    1- do you think that if Germany concuerde Leningrad at the end of July, when they arrived to the Luga river but stopped for a month, this punch could make they win the entire campaign in 1941?

    2- do you know why they stopped for a month in the Luga, instead of use the Luftwaffe transport capabilities to advance fuel and ammunition, and close the ring around Leningrad?
    Tahnk you and
    Regards from Uruguay!

  35. 35
    psujoe says:

    I'd like to know why you think Germany could've tken Leningrad by the end of July?

    I am always puzzled by the lack of air transport in the German attack plan. They had total command of the skies over Russia, but no Heavy bombers and poor usage of their transport planes.

  36. 36
    John says:

    Dear psujoe: I 've read that Manstein Panzer korps ( first Pz army) conquered the bridge over the Dvina in five days, after the june 22; and in a month they arrived to the Luga River, perhaps 100 km from Leningrad. But, because the infantry remained too on the rear, they do nit try to conquer the city by a coup the main. The ground ( forest, swamp) qnd of course the Russian reinforcement that come in a hurry, stopped them. But, a more decisive air supply and perhaps aerotransportated mission, could at least seal the ring around the city. One book that I' ve read said this, is not my idea. The mistake was the same that in France the earlier year at Dukerque: to stop the panzers to wait the infantry. It is not necesary, because the confusion and lack of mobility of the enemy, the German air superiority, make the Russian quite paralized. This is the point, I guess. Waiting for the infantry, the Russians had a month to build trenches, the population (also women) in number of thenth of thousands reinforced the army and the engineering works (obstacles, antitank trenches, etc.)

  37. 37
    Keith says:

    All the Nazi should have scenarios are pointless. If the Nazis had hung on through additional victories on the eastern front for another five months the direct result would have been the nuclear attacks on Germany rather than on Japan. Hitler himself would have been hard pressed to survive an atom bomb, even in his Berlin bunker. The allies knew of his location through ultra. Politically, the result of nuclear strikes would also have lead to his over throw even if Hitler did survive the nuke strikes. In the end the Nazis never had a chance of winning ww2 against the soviets and the americans. If Adolph had not declared war against the americans the Nazis may have survived to defeat the soviets, since there was considerable sympathy for the Nazis in America and hatred of the communists. Britain without American assistance could not have sustained a war against the third reich, Once the Nazis were engaged on a war of two fronts the Nazis were doomed.

  38. 38
    Kevin Gallagher says:

    @ Ronald Lameck. Great writing, and your knowledge on the subject is obviously excellent. In regards to your rebuttal of Neil's \cookie cutter\ 130min WW2 documentary propaganda, very in-depth. However, I wanted to add some criticism regarding the last statement of his prior commentary questioning Hitler's multiple \peace offers/negotiations offered\ to the British during the immediate outbreak of WW2. He obviously doubts this historical fact as well as the indisputable fact that Hitler tried in earnest to negotiate with The Polish over the Danzig question (and was ignored primarily due to Britain and France not only instructing The Poles outright to \negotiate but do not relent\ via the foreign offices, but promising both verbally and by treaty to \guarantee Polish independence\… by opening an immediate military attack/front to relieve Poland). The Polish obviously never receiving such military relief as Britain and France never intended to do such. They, like everyone, used Poland to implement political policy and larger aims to \destroy\ Germany as a nation. Neil ironically proves his own closing statement that \a little knowledge is dangerous\. Yes Neil, and virtually no knowledge is simply pathetic. As to the larger original postulation of \Had Germany captured Moscow\? In my opinion, had the Germans conquered Moscow in 1941 Russia would have either collapsed from the loss or would have been forced to sue for some type of peace (which unfortunately Hitler would likely have rejected as he had a clear desire to eradicate the Soviet Union as a country, people, culture, and idea… But the postulation I believe is one borne upon the supposition that the event happened as a result of Hitler placing more faith and ultimately militarily strategic decision making in the hands of his best commanders). That said, Moscow was an extremely important rail and communications hub, and the political nerve-center of the S.U. The reverberations would have been out of proportion to the actual capture of the city in purely military terms. The Brits would likely have sued for peace, Leningrad would likely have capitulated, and the Wehrmacht would have found itself better supplied, better rested, strengthened by numbers and materials, and holding the title of the undisputed military power in not only western and central Europe, but of eastern Europe as well. As many have pointed out the Russian \lend-lease\ program would have been highly affected further north, and the resources the Soviets did have to throw into the battle had they decided to fight on would have had difficult approaches to the German lines with \jumping off\ points for any military campaigns located 100 or more miles to the east of the proposed new borders that were to be implemented after the fall of Moscow. The Germans time and again displayed their superior military prowess and tactical savvy, and did so throughout the war even as the odds against them climbed from 2:1 to an astounding 11:1 at war's end. Basically German military tactics were superior enough to win the war, but they could not overcome Hitler's flawed strategic blunders. One of the best lines I've ever heard is the following: \The German army became so good at winning battles, that they lost the war because they focused most of their energy on winning battles\. Thanks for posting, and never mind the fools spouting History Channel propaganda.

  39. 39
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Neil: I am irked that a lengthy reply I made to supra some time ago is, for some reason, not here. I try to reproduce at least its gist herein:

    1: You accept without question the highly dubious claim first made by William Stephenson in his book A Man Called Intrepid (or, as its vast army of critics call it, A Man Called Insipid).
    If you can read all the messages of your enemy, whom you outnumber by at least 5 to 1 in manpower, not to mention natural resources, but still need more than 5 yrs., 8 mo. to defeat him, while incurring VASTLY more casualties, then you must be the All-Time Incompetent Buffoons.
    Just a couple examples of how ludicrous this claim is:
    a. Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein – the 2d Battle of the Ardennes, or so-called Battle of the Bulge. By the published admissions of Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley, Hodges, Patton, etc., etc., this attack by THIRTY divisions caught the Allies completely by surprise..
    b. The major argument used ex post facto to justify the Allied terror-bombing of Dresden in mid-Feb. 1945 was that it would prevent the transfer to the eastern front of Panzerarmee 6 (SS), which had been the main force employed in the Ardennes. But at that time, that army was ALREADY in the east, in Hungary. It was transferred through Regensburg, some 260 Km. to the southwest of Dresden.

    2. You posit the U.S.N. could send an aircraft carrier with bombers carrying atomic bombs to Europe. But no aircraft carrier extant at the time was wide enough or long enough to launch a bomber loaded with the A-bomb of the time. The only aircraft able to carry such a bomb a significant distance was the B-29, FAR too large for any aircraft carrier of the time.
    You posit that the aircraft could fly from Britain. But there was no guarantee the bomb would be effective. Even the July 1945 test gave cause for doubt about what would actually happen. There is extreme doubt that the British government would allow such a flight from its territory – or even allow use of the weapon at all. The A-bomb was an unknown quantity.
    But what WAS known is that Germany had huge numbers of V-2 rockets, which flew so high & fast as to be indefensible. It was also at least strongly suspected on reasonable & probably grounds that Germany had a large stock of sophisticated chemical weapons (nerve gas, etc.). It would be very easy to make such stuff the warhead of a large salvo of V-2s. The ONLY reason Germany never used these weapons, even in the last hours, was due to the objection of Hitler, who was a gas casualty in WWI. The risk of this happening was far too great. No British government that allowed a mass attack by such a weapon would survive the week. To paraphrase the bi-polar drunkard British P.M., there are things up with which the British people would not put.
    Finally, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo (vastly over-blown by U.S. propaganda) was NEVER designed as a suicide raid, any more than any other bombing raid was. Its plan was to have the B-25s fly on to mainland China and land (even if a forced landing) there. Which is what DID happen.
    Possessing an A-bomb was NOT a so-called game-changer, much as you might so wish it to be. The Allies were NEVER sure until after VE-Day how far German development of an atomic, or even a dirty bomb was. They might well have found the Nazis had it too – MEGA OOPS! (Again, so much for the Insipid claim of reading codes.)

    3. ANY army could have millions of reserves. But if those reserves choose to not fight,there are no Ghostbusters you can call to make them. It is very common in wars for troops of the losing side to simply vanish. They want no part of being the last man to die in a futile war. It has happened in probably every war ever fought – the famous U.S. Army big skedaddle after being routed before Washington D.C. in August 1814, & the invisible Republican Guard in the 1st Gulf War being just a couple of examples. The N.K.V.D. were human too, with mothers, fathers, wives, children, etc. There comes a point when you do not merely say NO to the guy issuing the order, but when you just point your gun & blow him away. Do svidanye Iosif Vissarionovich!

    4. You have an immense misunderstanding of German vs. Soviet industry. German armour was not hand built – it was a much more sophisticated piece of equipment. The Germans were past-masters at improvisation & at jury-rigging repairs. Most of Red ARmy troops were so poorly educated & trained that they could scarcely operate their machines, & showed almost no initiative in using them. No S.U.tank had a radio – the company leader would issue orders by waving coloured signal flags from his opened turret hatch. ALL German ones had radios – the best of any army in the war, at that. They also had vastly superior gun sights. The German larger tanks were had a crew of 5, the Soviet tanks of only 4.
    The Soviets themselves noted how, in 1941, it was nothing at all for a German tank to travel 200 Km., but S.U. ones would be virtually guaranteed to break down at least once in that distance. For much of the war, T-34 crews carried a spare transmission on the back of the tank because the installed units were of such poor quality. These reasons, and the far superior German tactics & crew training, were why, even in the last days of the war, the German army had a huge kill ratio vis-a-vis the S.U.

    5. The S.U. citizens did NOT fiercely resist die Wehrmacht. A tiny number were partisans – most of these were Red Army soldiers who had been cut off, or who were parachuted behind lines. Most of this was done in winter 41-42. That more than 1 million children were left behind by the evacuating Wehrmacht who were fathered by German troops is perhaps the greatest rebuttal of your claim that can be made. (B.T.W. – more than 250,000 in France – so much for the ex post facto much-vaunted Maquis)

    6. Re: oil well destruction. The wells destroyed in the 1st Gulf War were almost all operational within a year. That ones allegedly destroyed by the Red Army in the Caucasus take any longer is something you claim, but offer no support for. I live in Alberta (a.k.a. Oil Country), where your claim is met by mirth. Further – this presupposes that the local people would allow this destruction to go forward. HUGE numbers of the populace of the Caucasus were very co-operative, even friendly to die Wehrmacht.

    7. You claim about the S.U. peoples also does not bear scrutiny. They were not employed in 1941 for the very simple reasons that
    a. Germany expected – hoped – to put paid to the S.U. in 1941. These people were not needed.
    b. They were considered of dubious quality – although events proved many of them fought with distinction.
    c. It takes time to recruit, train, equip & move troops into the field.
    d. There were large numbers of Red Army men who were captured & then served as Hilfwillgen (willing helpers) throughout the war & on all fronts. They were much of the service & supply, artillery troops, etc. In Normandy in 1944, about 50% of the German artillery was actually captured Soviet 152 mm. guns. Most of this was manned by ex-Red Army men.

    8. The late U.S. entry into the war was because it would NOT have been there at all, save for the manifest provocation of Roosevelt. His embargo of oil supplies to Japan made the Pacific war a virtual certainty. Had Hitler not supported his (largely useless) eastern ally by declaring against the U.S., it would have devoted its primary effort against Japan.

    9. Had the S.U. collapsed – which would have been quite likely had the suggestions I made supra been carried out – the moral or propaganda value to Germany would have been immense. As noted, Vichy France (with its sizable fleet) & Spain would probably have joined the Axis. Turkey would have salivated at the chance of acquiring some of the S.U. empire.
    Even the bi-polar drunkard may have realised a few years earlier that it is better to jaw jaw than to war war.

    There were absolutely ZERO examples of so-called magical thinking or leaps of logic in MY notes supra. Many in your, yes. But none in mine.
    The fall of LENINGRAD (my premise) would have led to the fall of Moscow, which would have led to the end of the S.U.. This would have ensured Axis supply. No one in N. America would give a tinkers dam about what went on in Europe thereafter.

    • 39.1
      Neil says:


      Your passion for history is admirable. However, there are numerous flaws in your arguments. Have you heard of confirmation bias? You are cherry picking the evidence that supports your argument, while dismissing any evidence that doesn’t support your argument. Why are you so desperate to believe that the Nazis should have been victorious? For some reason you seem to think that the Wehrmacht were unbeatable and that all of the mistakes made are attributable to Hitler. Such reasoning is very silly.

      I really can’t be bothered arguing with you because I know that it doesn’t matter what I say, you will continue cherry picking the evidence. The actions of the Nazi and Wehrmacht were not honourable or humane; they brutalised much of Europe and eastern S.U. The peoples of Poland and Ukraine suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis (and Soviets). Please reconsider your worship of these thugs.

      A few points that you can’t refute (but I know you will try to ignore):

      - The Soviet Union demonstrated a tremendous resilience in the face of the German advance. They had millions of well-trained army reserves. They were mass-producing equipment that was better suited to the winter conditions than the German’s equipment. The Soviet Union won the war precisely because Stalin, the Communist party and the NKVD were prepared to sacrifice everything to stop the Germans and knew how to motivate the many peoples of the S.U. There were no mass defections or refusals to fight, despite shortages of weapons and ammunition, the loss of millions of men and dwindling resources. Be grateful that you did not have to endure such hardship. The loss of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad wouldn’t have changed anything; the Soviets were prepared for such a loss.

      - Together, the British and Americans demonstrated an incredible resourcefulness and innovativeness during the war. The Germans only had a vague idea of how to make an Atomic bomb; they also didn’t have the capabilities to produce a bomb. If given half a chance, the Americans would have used the Atomic bomb on the Germans. The Americans would have found a way to bomb the Germans if the war was going badly. Planes can be modified after all.

      - There were no limits to Hitler’s ambition. Had he beaten the S.U., he would have kept going. This was his downfall; he didn’t know when to stop. Hitler would never quit while he was winning. Roosevelt knew this fact, which is why he was determined to stop the Germans before the Japanese. The Americans knew the Germans were the real threat, not the Japanese.

      - The only reason the Germans advanced as far as they did is because the British, French and Soviets choose to appease Hitler in an effort to avoid war. If the French had attacked the Germans following the invasion of Poland, there would have been no WWII. If Stalin hadn’t trusted Hitler, the Germans would have been stopped within 100 miles of the Soviet border. The Germans pushed their luck to breaking point and the result was the total destruction of Germany.

      To sum, I agree that it is possible that the Germans could have captured Leningrad and/or Moscow. But this would never have changed the outcome of WWII; it would have only extended the war by a few months.

      • 39.1.1
        Editor, HistoryNet says:

        Neil, you and Ronald are putting forth some excellent arguments and counterarguments from which other readers can learn and perhaps they will be prompted to do more research on their own into the subject; that is what we hope for in these comments on HistoryNet.

        Unfortunately, both you and Ronald are also engaging in the sort of personal put-downs we don't allow on HistoryNet. Please restrict your posts to reasoned arguments without the put-downs.

        —Editor, HistoryNet

  40. 40
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Keith: You conclude what you conclude because that is what you want to conclude. Additional victories in the east for die Wehrmacht would not have meant a merely delaying things a few months – it would have meant a fundamental change in the course of the war.
    In spring 1943, Ribbentrop & Molotov had talks aimed at a mutually-agreed peace. This, despite the recent Soviet victory at Stalingrad & the Western decision for unconditional surrender as the only basis to end the war.
    An eastern peace in spring 1943 would have meant the vast German troops, armour & aircraft historically devoted to the Kursk battles could be moved west. The attack on Sicily would have faced very heavy opposition by air & land forces, & would almost certainly have been pushed back into the Mediterranean. There would have been no landing in Italy that year.
    Because of the vastly increased Luftwaffe presence, the evisceration the U.S.A.A.F. historically experienced at Schweinfurt that August would have been general at all of its targets. After Schweinfurt, it ceased raids for 5 months until long-range escorts could support the bombers. But the much larger Luftwaffe could still make short work of things.
    As a result, development of weapons could go faster & in greater numbers.
    Without writing a book or being repetitive to issues I have already argued elsewhere in this forum, there would almost surely not have been an Allied attack in west Europe in 1944. There would have been vast numbers of Me-262, He-162 & even Ta-183 jets to keep the skies clear.
    There would be no nuclear attack as it would likely not be agreed to be Britain, which would bear repercussion. Even if attempted, it would be unlikely to get through.
    As for this ULTRA nonsense – the repetition needed to put that bugbear to bed! In spring 1945, the Western Allies had no idea where Hitler was. That was why they sent raids to bomb die Berghof. The first they knew of where he was came from German reports as Berlin was being surrendered.

    • 40.1
      Neil says:


      I repeat – stop cherry picking the evidence. There is no credible reason to believe that there would be a lasting peace between the Germans and Soviets, while Hitler lived. Hitler hated the Soviets.

      Also, Ultra was extremely successful. The Allies were taken by surprise in the Ardennes and they didn't know where Hitler was at all times, but this doesn't mean Ultra was a failure.

      German jet fighters produced on mass years earlier than did occur would certainly have made a huge difference to the length of the war and, perhaps, the outcome. But such a change to history requires a lot of improbable "what ifs".

  41. 41
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Kevin: I have never watched History Channel. I have seen enough programs on P.B.S. that were rife with inaccuracies and propaganda. This is why I got interested in history in the 1st place – my father was a great Paul Bunyan or Baron von Munchhausen. I learned from a young age to research everything he said, so I have scoured myriad books, etc,.
    My belief that the main target of Barbarossa should have been Leningrad is based around the following:
    Discounting the Finnish front, to attack the Soviet Union (S.U.) from the west & go as far as the Ural Mts. (the planned extent of the German effort), one finds it widens like a reversed funnel, with Moscow situated more-or-less in the middle.
    As you advance further east, you need ever-more troops to create a continuous front. The attack spearhead loses force as troops are detached to hold the expanding line.
    Meanwhile, the defender needs only to practice the standard technique used against an attempted deep penetration – hold the shoulders (flanks). As the attacked plunges ever-deeper, his spearhead is in ever-increasing jeopardy of losing force due to an ever-longer supply line & of being cut off & destroyed in detail.
    Die Wehrmacht recognised this problem, which was why a large force was temporarily detached from the spearhead to destroy the S.U. left shoulder – Kiev Military District. As a result, the deepest 1941 German penetration was by Heeresgruppe Sud , which reached Rostov-on-Don before being beaten back to the Mius R.
    An attempt was made to destroy the S.U. right shoulder – Leningrad Military District. This was not successful, resulting in a WWI-like long & deadlocked front which was west of the main German effort.
    Moscow was seen as the political heart – but the politicians & bureaucracy had already been moved further east. (Just as in 1940 the French had moved their politicians & bureaucracy south to Vichy before Paris was captured).
    It was a communications hub, yes, but less so from the west than it was from the east. To capture it alone, with the S.U. still holding one flank & Moscow in the middle would mean little. Napoleon captured Moscow in 1812. It meant nothing. He had to retreat from it & lost the campaign.
    Whereas Leningrad was the key. It would always be the ideological heart of the S.U. version of Communism – named after the man who brought about the revolution. The propaganda & moral effect of its capture would have been an incalculable disaster for the S.U.leadership, for the people, & for the world-political regard for the S.U. Previous neutrals like Vichy France, Spain, Turkey & possibly even Sweden may have joined the Axis, seeing the demise of the S.U\ as a strong likelihood. Even war-monger Churchill may have reconsidered peace.
    Of course, all I wrote supra about the shorter Axis front, likely fall of Murmansk, etc., would also apply.
    What I find odd about the German attack on the S.U. is that Hitler was a political animal. It astonishes that he seemed to not recognise these advantages, even though he had at least 16 years from his mention of crushing the S.U. in Mein Kampf to work out the best way to do so. But the attack ended up like a child in a candy store, dashing from side to side, from counter to counter, lusting over this or that sweet, never able to make up his mind. A golden opportunity missed.

    • 41.1
      Neil says:


      I agree with everything in your post up to the point where you claim the loss of Leningrad "would have been an incalculable disaster…" This is the point where you stop using logic and evidence to support your argument. If the Germans had focused on Leningrad, the Soviets would have acted very differently. You haven't accounted for the Soviet's likely response to a German spearhead aimed at Leningrad only. The Germans had three army groups because they wanted to overwhelm the Soviets. It worked. But they didn't know that the Soviets had millions of well trained army reserves; the Germans simply didn't have the army reserves and logistical support to beat the Soviets. End of story!

  42. 42
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Since you toss basic social psychology around, try to address your fundamental attribution error. There is no so-called cherry picking in my note supra – save that whenever I refute one of your issues, you dig up another to profess is decisive. This means, like St. George battling the dragon, I must address & refute it too. Because this complex issue involves vast distances & millions of humans across years, in the interest of brevity, I counter only that issue & nothing more. Otherwise, I could write hundreds of pages. You do not perceive this because you are too occupied in a vain effort to find something that is irrefutable.
    You harbour a misguided belief that I am somehow desperate to belief the AXIS – not merely Nazis – should have been victorious. There is no foundation for your assertion whatsoever. It is all in the past, & further in the past with every tick of the clock. I merely point out the lost opportunity, noting that even the unfortunate Churchill himself said allegedly said in retrospect that We killed the wrong pig.
    I DO think it would have been far better for the world overall, and eastern Europe in particular, had the S.U. government been obliterated – the foul baboonery, as the unfortunate Churchill called it. Then the quality of life enjoyed there over the last 20 years could have been enjoyed from the end of the war, as it would not have been overrun by the Red Army & made into a combination Gulag & colony at least as oppressive & probably far more economically damaging than anything Hitler envisioned for the S.U. lands. But that is a digression.
    To argue the Nazis & or Wehrmacht brutalised any part of Europe or the S.U. is to pretend the S.U. did not do so to a far worse degree – which the millions of people living in those lands today who lived under both regimes will refute. Not one of hundreds I have spoken to have anything useful to say about the S.U. – not even its former citizens.
    It also overlooks that the Western Allies were guilty of a large number of crimes & atrocities. Truly a matter of Let the one who is without sin throw the 1st stone. By far the best solution would have been for Britain & its reluctant French sycophant to have just kept their imperialistic noses out of the issue.
    The points YOU think are irrefutable are easily refuted.

    1. The S.U. won the war precisely because of the immense aid it was given in Lend-Lease by the West – millions of tons of food. Vast amounts of medical supplies, radios, tools & parts. Vast amounts of ammunition. More than 20,000 tanks (which, as already noted, the S.U. valued highly) – including about 3,750 M4 Sherman tanks. More than 30,000 aircraft. At least 1 battleship. Full & detailed itemisation is not REALLY necessary, I hope but, if you wish to remain an obstinate contrarian, that can be done.
    To contend that there were no mass defections of refusals to fight among the S.U. citizenry or troops is to be either painfully ignorant or wiIfully blind.
    Your need to read Solzenhitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Pt,II fairly SCREAMS.
    The German Cossack Corps, the Russian Liberation Army, the vast numbers of ex-Red Army Hilfwilligen – all that & much more your overlook.
    You are in the land of mythology if you think loss of Leningrad, Moscow & Stalingrad would not have meant anything. That is borderline delusion.

    2. Here we go with your A-bomb mania once again. I despise repetition, but your seeming lack of reading comprehension makes it necessary – NO ONE knew how far along Germany was in nuclear research until after the war. But it was known or at least very strongly suspected that Germany possessed advanced chemical weapons & the means to deliver them to British cities with utter impunity. You magical dream of American ingenuity
    overrides all logic. This tack of yours has already been obliterated. Move on.

    3. You insist on contriving a wholly false contention about Hitler & his long-term plans. The man did, or at least tried to do everything he said he would, & to a degree that may be unprecedented among political persona throughout history. He did NOT do, & did not try to do any of the things he did not say he would do. That simple. What Roosevelt knew was the Britain was not in any sort of condition to endure decades-long war, as it did in the Napoleonic era. So to attack Germany was the best way to ensure British survival in order to get it & its Empire to help overcome Japan (which, after all, was chiefly attacking British interests in the Pacific.)

    4. France DID attack Germany after the invasion of Poland began. In May 1939, the French government promised the Polish government in a solemnly signed treaty that it would attack Germany No less than 15 days after mobilisation.
    On 7 Sep. 1939, eleven divisions of French troops attacked along a 32 km. front near Saarbrucken. They advanced 8 km., capturing at least 12 villages & small towns that German reserve troops evacuated. Four R35 tanks were destroyed by mines.
    This was supposed to be the start of a general offensive by the French Second Army Group, which was to involve 40 divisions, of which one was to be armoured, 3 mechanised, supported by 78 artillery regiments & 40 additional tank battalions
    On 10 Sep., a German counter-attack re-captured a village, but the French re-occupied it hours later.
    On 12 Sep. French troops captured Brenschelbach, the largest municipality taken in the offensive. But the offensive was aborted after the French occupied the heavily-mined Warndt Wald, without reaching the Westwall (Siegfried Line).in the Saarland.
    Not a single German soldier was diverted as result of the attack. On 16-17 October, die Wehrmacht, now reinforced with troops returning from Fall Grun in Poland, easily re-took the occupied German territory as the French
    withdrew. To 17 Oct., French losses were about 2,000 dead, wounded or sick. German losses were 196 dead, 114 missing, 356 wounded & 11 aircraft. Anyone who studied history rather than limiting to watching television programs would know this.
    To say Stalin trusted Hitler is to be a reader of Pravda. There was never any trust between the two. In June 1941, the Red Army on its western border was aligned in an OFFENSIVE posture. It was beaten back with immense losses because it was out-fought by a force that was better trained & used superior tactics. Even in the last hours of the war, German units met & overcame vastly larger & better-equipped S.U. forces – a point readily & frankly admitted by all in the ex-S.U. who did not write the Official History.
    To sum, Neil, you just go right on believing all the bovine scatology you wish to if it makes you feel better. But do NOT purport to know anything about history. You only embarrass yourself with that contention.

    • 42.1
      Editor, HistoryNet says:

      Ronald, you and Neil are putting forth some excellent arguments and counterarguments from which other readers can learn and perhaps they will be prompted to do more research on their own into the subject; that is what we hope for in these comments on HistoryNet.

      Unfortunately, both you and Neil are also engaging in the sort of personal put-downs we don't allow on HistoryNet. Please restrict your posts to reasoned arguments without the put-downs.

      —Editor, HistoryNet

  43. 43
    Neil says:


    I apologize if my remarks have caused any personal offense. That was not my intent. I have enjoyed debating the issues with you, but I realize my choice of words could have been more careful at times.

    You obviously have a very good knowledge of WWII. My basic issue is that, I believe, it is very difficult to construct a credible argument for how the Nazis could have won the war without making fundamental changes to the original timeline (which have unpredictable consequences).

    The main reason for believing this is the fact that Germany didn't have the resources and capabilities for a prolonged war. While Hitler and his Generals knew this fact, they didn't have a clear plan for stopping the war. Hitler had a warped sense of the concept \survival of the fittest\. He predicted that following the German victory in Europe/Russia, there would be an intercontinental war with North America. The war would only end after the Germanic people were in total control of the whole world. With such an unreasonable goal, it was only a matter of time before Germany would be beaten. And this is what actually happened. (I note that Hitler's views on how the war would progress were spelt out in his books: Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch.)

    Under such conditions, there are no \simple\ changes to the original timeline that can be made that would result in a German victory in the long-term. I admit (and have already stated) that German could have taken Leningrad, Moscow or other cities, but I maintain that this wouldn't have mattered in the long-term because of (1) Hitler's and the Nazi's ambition, (2) Soviet's ability to mobilize and motivate its many peoples, and (3) British/American advantages in resources and innovation.

    I keep mentioning the Atomic bomb because it was an incredible technological breakthrough and was a game changer. Following the successful detonation of an atomic bomb in July 1945, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Americans possessed a weapon of unequaled power. I believe that they were resourceful enough to find a way to drop the bomb on Germany had the war been prolonged for some reason.

    As for your rebuttal of my points:
    1. I never denied Lend-Lease was important. I mentioned it in my first post to this forum. And of course, the Soviets had some discipline issues. But that doesn't change the fact that the Soviets were really good at mobilizing and motivating their people to fight the Germans. This is a fact of history.

    2. Not knowing the state of Germany's atomic program is a very good reason why America wanted to stop the Nazis before dealing with the Japanese. Also, it is a good reason to use the Atomic bomb on Germany before they were in a position to do so. I doubt Hitler would sign up to the \mutually assured destruction\ doctrine of the Cold War.

    Germany didn't use chemical weapons in the war because the Allies had effective counter measures, e.g. wide spread availability of gas masks.

    3. Again, Hitler's own words tell us that he aimed for domination of eastern Europe and western Russia in the short-term and world domination in the long-term. He didn't believe that the Soviets were a real military threat. Psychologically, Hitler would never stop the war if he was winning. That is obvious from his writings, speeches and actions.

    4. The French attack on the Germans was not well planned and lacked conviction. If the British and French has really tried to stop the Germans and defend Poland, things would have been very different. But following my own advice, the outcome is difficult to predict. So, I will concede this point. However, I still maintain that the appeasement of Hitler and Stalin's trust of Hitler were major errors and gave Hitler misplaced confidence to start the war.

    Finally, my personal view is that the world would have been better if Hitler, Stalin and Mao had never come to power. These dictators are responsible for the deaths of millions. To quote Churchill, \Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.\ History supports this view.

  44. 44
    Allan says:

    Senario = Army Group NNW (North North West – fictious) makes a massive push from Lenigrad to Moscow – distance 731km – Amry Group Centre makes a push as per Barbarossa – Armt Goup south takes the oil fields in the Caurcaus region. Result – the Baltic States are cut off and with German naval power (the only region they were effective) easy meat for Army Goup North. Moscow secureed for the up and coming winter months and Russia split….interesting

  45. 45
    Ronald Lameck says:

    The main point is that Hitler intended – hoped or expected that the invasion would be a blitzkrieg, much like Fall Gelb in the west. The populations in those areas were rather well-treated initially. Relations with them began to fall apart after the Soviet winter counter-offensive, when the Wehrmacht was at times in headlong retreat. It lost forever its mystique of invincibility – to the citizens of the occupied lands, to the Wehrmacht itself, & to all of its opponents. Then the large numbers of Red Army men who had been cut off from their units & Soviet command decided to stick with the Devil they knew just in case the Wehrmacht was not successful. It was only during early 1942 that serious partisan acts occurred.
    Support for the Vlasov R.L.A. would have been a huge issue of trust. As it was, many captured Soviets became Hilfwilligen, working in the supply & service, or active soldiers in the West (chiefly manning artillery). But the risk of treachery by a large number of R.L.A. would have been too great to bear. Even if they proved ineffective as troops, that would have been a disaster. – Look what happened in the winter of 42-3 when the Rumanian, Hungarian & Italian armies, despite many desperate, valiant efforts, simply melted away before the better-equipped Red Army.
    No. The war was lost because none of the three major centres fell – Leningrad, Moscow & Stalingrad. The loss of their productive capacity as well as the effect on morale would have been fatal to the S.U.

  46. 46
    Section9 says:

    A German victory before Moscow almost certainly would have involved a couple of things.

    - Army Group South pressing directly east to pin down the RKKA so that it could not mount an offensive into Von Bock's flank.

    - German war industry going at full tilt to total war production a full year before June of 1941 so the Wehrmacht had enough supplies for a full tempo of operations for six to nine months. Georing was still running a guns and butter economy deep into 1942, with the result that trucks and armor were running out of replacement parts in July.

    -Perhaps the addition of Pz Gp I into Group Center to add some heft to the push on Moscow.

    All of this, if successful leads to two things, IMHO;

    1. Primary American concentration on the Pacific War, although Germany does declare war on the United States and eventually falls into FDR's trap. The Pacific War ends a lot quicker, although there is the question of Operation DOWNFALL to deal with.

    2. OVERLORD cannot happen in Northwestern Europe because of overwhelming local German superiority. The Anglo-Americans need space where their strategic bombing platforms can impact a large scale ground offensive. So I believe in this counter factual, the Allies invade through Iran and the Caucuses, the not-so-soft underbelly of Southeastern Europe.


  47. 47
    JP says:

    One cannot ignore the deplorable state of the German panzers in late September 1941. Some panzer divisions, like Model's 3rd Panzer, had fought non-stop since 22 June. Once the Kiev operation was finished, Model had barely 35 panzers ready action.The famous 7th Panzer, which began the campaign with a large allotment of Czech 38t tanks was down to only 40 panzers in total. Yes, the Germans did bring up 2 panzer divisions from the Balkens (the 5th and 12th); but their total number of panzers for the entire Central Front was barely 1000 (of which 450 belonged to the 5th and 12th Panzers).

    Additionally, the supply chain for Army Group Center was at a breaking point. Less than 40% of the railroads had been converted to the Soviet guage; roaming partisan bands frequently ambushed the German convoys; and to be frank, the German industrial base just wasn't up to the task. As a consequence, General Hoth, commander of Panzer Group 3, complained of severe fuel shortages after just the 1st day of Typhoon. Guderian's panzers didn't have enough fuel to make it to their Orel way point. And as a consequence, Guderian had mark time for 3-4 days to allow his tanks to fuel up.

    Over-all, German oil and gas production was halved by October 1941. The German Army used up their entire allotment of fuel, lubricants, oil, rubber and other materials by the end of summer. Food production could barely keep up, as imports from South America, Turkey, Asia, and the Middle East slowed to a trickle. Finally, the Germans had only 435,000 reserves of soldiers to cover any losses. By October 1941, their total losses were at 480,000. They simply did not possess the manpower for another campaign. The shortage of manpower, especially in the infantry would later force the Wehrmacht to reduce the number of men per platoon to 3 squads instead of 4. Many regiments would be reduced to just 2 battalions. The Germans could replace lost panzers; but they never could replace the loss of their infantry.

  48. 48
    Section9 says:

    There was a staff study attached to FRITZ, one of the early iterations of BARBAROSSA, that indicated to Halder and his staff that the Wehrmacht had supplies and POL for some five to six hundred miles into European Russia. Basically, the Wehrmacht would run out of steam between Smolensk and Vyazma.

    That's basically what happened.

    Now had German industry been converted to a full war footing in 1939 as the British had been, for example, the supply question might have been ameliorated somewhat. But I'm not sure that the attrition of manpower in the Heer could have been staunched.

    Russian units were resisting fanatically primarily because of barbaric German conduct against captured Russian soldiers on the ground, the Wehrmacht didn't make surrender in the interest of the average Russian soldier.

  49. 49
    Tony says:

    I have seen the argument in many places, including in this discussion, that a Soviet defeat would have allowed the Germans to concentrate their military in the west, with dire consequences for the Allies. While it is no doubt true that 200 additional German divisions in France would greatly alter the outlook, is that really what would have happened?

    Let's assume that Barbarossa is 100% successful and the "Archangel to Astrakhan" line is secured by the end of 1941. What happens then? Conquering territory is one thing. Holding it is quite another. Consider:

    1) Germany now controls a truly vast area, larger and more populous than Germany itself. That population is seething with discontent, a situation that will only worsen with time as Nazi plans for the East become more apparent. The Heer cannot simply pack up and head west. The air and heavy armour units probably can, but a great many infantry units will have to remain to keep the country under at least some level of control.

    2) The Soviet state might not survive a successful Barbarossa, but the Russian nation in some form will remain, its power concentrated east of the Urals. That nation, while much weaker than the USSR, would still be potent. Large numbers of refugees from western Russia will be flowing in. It will have access to Anglo-American aid via Iran and Siberia. Germany will have to detail substantial forces to guard the border. Maybe not so many tanks and planes can be moved west after all.

    3) In 1941 British forces were concentrated in the Middle East, and in July of that year the British and Soviets invaded and subdued Iran to establish a supply line. The British are not going to just stand by and watch the Germans seize the Baku oilfields. As the Germans approach, the British forces in Iran would be sent forward into the Caucasus. Before reaching Baku the Germans would find themselves engaged with the British and remnants of the Soviet army. The Germans might have substantial numerical superiority, but they would also be operating in rugged, defence-friendly terrain at the end of an extremely long supply line.

    In view of all this, how much of the Wehrmacht could actually have left Russia? Would the German victory in Barbarossa have felt like a "victory"?

  50. 50
    fgill says:

    I think the bewildering array of alternate strategies presented in these comments makes clear what a chore Germany had on her hands. Invading and defeating Russia is no picnic. But then the Germans had done it barely 25 years before.

    It seems to me that Stalin was in many respects the key to Soviet victory. He was a sort of blend of Vlad the Impaler and Abraham Lincoln, and though obviously lacking the latter's humanity he did share Lincoln's iron determination to hold the country together and win through to victory.

    So I have to wonder what he would have done if the Germans had been on the verge of surrounding the city. Would he have perished in glory, resisting the fascists to the end? Or would he have fled at last, realizing (no difficult task for him) that he was indispensable to continued resistance. And if he had fled, would he have even been able to maintain control of his rump state? He hardly lacked for enemies.

    I know many of today's historians sneer at the notion of the Great Man having a decisive influence on the course of events. Thankfully, people with an interest in military history are usually skeptical of this Tolstoylian notion. I would be interested in hearing what others think of Stalin's significance.

    • 50.1
      Tony says:

      Fgill: You may be correct that only an exceptionally determined and ruthless leader could have held the USSR together in 1941, but it's worth noting that Stalin bears much of the responsibility for the USSR being in such a dire predicament in the first place. He had too much suspicion of the British and French and not enough of the Germans. He completely misread Hitler, and he stuck with his misguided view even when his diplomats and intelligence services tried to warn him. Consequently the USSR was caught surprised and unprepared for the German invasion. There is just no way that should have happened.

  51. 51
    Brian says:

    The only peace with England that Hitler contemplated in 1940 was a capitulation, with Wehrmacht troops marching into Whitehall and Nazi stooges in the cabinet. There was no peace with honor available at that point. And that would have left him free to put virtually his full might against the Soviet Union. The almost certain conquest of the same would have left Hitler stronger than Stalin was in 1945, and dominating all of Europe, not just the east, and with no Allied forces to oppose him. Churchill did the right thing.

  52. 52
    JP says:

    I think we should never lose sight of the fact that the Wehrmacht made the assumption that the Soviet Campaign could be completed in 1 and only 1 campaign season. In fact, that assumption was more like a wish, a desperate wish. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, in his memoirs, points that that there existed 2 divergent strategies for Barbarossa: Hitler wished to win the war on the \wings\ (via Leningrad and the Ukraine-Donets regions; while OKH favored a center thrust strategy. While Hitler voiced his objections, he still ceded operational control to Halder and OKH, because at that time he still possessed quite a bit of respect for the German General Staff. However, he also told them he intended to keep his \options open. The seeds of disaster were set.

    OKH believed wrongly that STAVKA would need weeks if not months to mobilize the lions share of the Soviets vast array of human resources. Their execution for the initial stages went like clockwork from 22-28 June, AG Center completed its infamous double encirclement of Bilotsk-Minsk. For a few days it looked like the Wehrmacht completed its main goal of defeating the vast armies of the Soviet Union as close to the frontiers as possible. Little did Halder realize that Timonshenko was in the process of deploying another 5 field armies along the Dnieper Land Bridge. In other words, the heart of the OKH operational plan was already in tatters. David Glanz narrates in detail the horrific Battle of Smolensk (July through August 1941). What should have been a 1-2 week operation lasted 8 weeks. OKH planned on being in Moscow no later than August. Hitler's euphoria of early July turned to anxiety and then anger as he watched indecisive victories in and around Smolensk bleed the Wehrmacht white. As one German staff officer wrote, \We are winning ourselves to defeat!\.

    What is ironic is the fact that a little known German staff officer by the name of Friedrich Paulus war gamed this possibility in the winter of 1940-41. He was chosen to assist in the initial planning, and Paulus predicted that the German advance were run out of steam by Smolensk (his prediction didn't take into account the ability of the Soviets to deploy a half a million men there. But, he did correctly calculate the expenditure of ammunition, spare parts, fuel, and other supplies).

    Field Marshal von Manstein also wrote in his memiors that the thinking at both OKH/OKW was so parochial that no one could even envision fighting a campaign in the Soviet Union which took up 2 campaign seasons. At the early stages of planning, Hitler probably would have conceded a 2 year campaign if it was presented to him in a logical rational manner. But Halder played to Hitler's own vanity, and promised the Soviet Union would fall within 12-16 weeks. Hitler himself hoped against hope that Stalin would be overthrown once the Wehrmacht concluded on smashing victory.

    Seen from this point of view, the Battle for Moscow was a fools game. Even if Bock entered Moscow in early November there was no way his men could have held it.

  53. 53
    mercbeast says:

    The problem here is that we are leaving the realm of \historically plausible\ and entering the realm of sci-fi. Allow me to explain.

    Had Germany waged war with the USSR with designs on limited goals, Stalin quite possibly would have said \take Poland and a little bit of the border regions!\. That however is fantasy. The conditions by which we arrive in 1941 ensure that this can never happen. Hitler invaded the USSR or ideological purposes. His goal from the outset was extermination and annihilation This was his end game from the very beginning. There is no version of WW2 in which a Nazi Germany led by Hitler invades the USSR and settles for a little bit of land. In short, a WW2 in which Germany invades the USSR for limited gains is not a Germany led by Hitler and by that logic we are most likely dealing with a far more rational individual. There probably is no war in that case.

    When you come to terms with this very simple concept it is easy to see now that this was an un-winnable war for Germany. They literally lost the moment they invaded. Why? They had no real plan to win the war. Barbarossa and indeed the entire decision to invade the USSR is a case study in poor planning.

    How repressive was the culture at OKW? We know many of Hitlers highest ranking military advisors told him the following \If we don't win quickly we will lose\.

    Surely someone should have pipped in during operational planning and said \But what if we don't get Leningrad, Moscow or the Caucausus\ or better yet, \What if we achieve our objectives and they don't surrender?\.

    The problem with the invasion of the USSR is that it displays a total lack of understanding regarding how to win a war. Inserting some Clauswitzian theory here we can talk about the \Center of Gravity\. The CoG has evolved over the century but the basic premise remains the same. To defeat your enemy you must defeat their CoG. Basically you have to defeat their ability to wage war.

    In Western Europe the CoG of those nations that the Germans ran over was their standing armed forces. Geography becomes the primary constraint. Once the military was overwhelmed in Western Europe the entire country(France, Low Countries etc) could be quickly overrun eliminating the possibility for further organized military resistance.

    In the USSR and Russia this is no longer true. The vast size of the country with the decentralized population and industry means that the entire country IS the CoG. How do you defeat a country where the size of the country is what you need to defeat? It is logistically and demographically impossible for Germany to have occupied enough of the USSR to actually bring it to heel.

  54. 54
    Ronald Lameck says:

    I am not the least offended by any of your comments. I hope you may say the same. It is the heat of strongly-held views. There is no fault in that. No point to have a view if you will not strongly defend it.
    Germany was in no position to wage a prolonged war. Even if it had been, the Axis was out-numbered in people by 6 to 1, out produced in steel by 5 to 1, short numerous minerals & resources vital to modern weapons production, etc.
    The historic surprise is that it took so long & such cost to defeat the Axis. The wise man would have tried to negotiate peace – certainly wiser than what we ended up with. But that was never tried. In retrospect, even the King of Hawks (Churchill) realised It is better to jaw, jaw than to war, war.
    You take too seriously things Hitler penned in his Zweite Buch, or said in Table Talks. We all hypothesise about the future & try to plan for it. That is not our desire – only thoughts on how to deal with possible futures.
    You mistake world domination for supreme control. Hitler envisioned a control in balance with the control exercised by the U.K – at least, before its Pyrrhic victory in WWI. He & many of his cohorts held to the Heartland Theory of Halford Mackinder.
    You overlook the well-proved maxim that Nothing succeeds like success & nothing fails like failure – victory at A makes victory at B, C, etc. easier & more likely. Defeat at A makes defeat at B …
    You seem to disregard the effect of victory (or defeat) on combatant morale – but watch a football game & gauge the effect on the crowd of a touchdown FOR or a touchdown AGAINST. To lose Leningrad, or Moscow or, especially, both, would have devastated the S.U., Stalin, Stavka, individual soldiers & the people. Imagine the Wehrmacht – almost dancing, just as it was after taking Paris. But see the effect of Stalingrad – on both sides. For the Axis, the Rumanians & Hungarians (both of whom had fought quite well in places) were near to useless thereafter.
    You persist in claiming an alleged Soviet ability to mobilise & motivate. Vlasov, Solzhenitsyn, N. Tolstoy, even Khrushchev (& others) wrote at length disputing this as a myth.
    You write of Allied advantages in resources, which I not only never disputed, but supported. However, you claim an advantage in innovation which I do not see. If you have supporting examples, now is the time to present them.
    You keep raising the atomic bomb as if it was supreme. But, as I pointed out supra, it was not. Before Hiroshima, there was doubt – quite serious in some quarters – that it would work on a real target at all. Others wondered it if might crack the crust of the earth & cause wholesale destruction. Until the moment of detonation, no one knew for sure. That is why the U.K. – & France, & neutrals & others would not want it used in Europe at all. They would have to suffer the sling & arrows of its effect or, if it did not work, of the Axis retaliation.
    You believe, without compelling evidence, that the U.S. was resourceful, so that would let it find a way to deliver the atomic bomb that no one in Europe would want used there in the first place. Yet I recall YOU accusing ME of magical thinking.
    In your counter-rebuttal:
    1. You AGAIN raise this discredited claim of S.U. mobilisation & motivation of its people. This is countered by the reports of sailors who made repeated Lend-Lease convoys to S.U. ports seeing aircraft & tanks delivered months earlier still in crates on the docks. Of the R.N. report that
    the battleship H.M.S. Royal Sovereign (loaned to the S.U. in May 1944, then returned in 1949 and broken for scrap) gave every indication that its gun turrets had never been traversed in the 5 years. I could go on, but it is circular now.
    2. Not knowing German progress on atomics was ONE reason for the U.S. opting to prioritise fighting Germany first. But also worry about its progress in chemical weapons. The standard strategic maxim of fighting the nearer enemy 1st. The S.S.M. of first fighting the one you had operationally surrounded first. The realisation that the U.K. was unable to hold its front indefinitely – in Dec. 1941, the British were being rather soundly spanked in N. Africa.
    Re: Chemical weapons – you need to do some research. All the gas masks extent were utterly useless against Sarin, Soman & Tabun, all of which German had in large supply. No. It not being employed was due solely to Hitler refusing to subject others to the misery he endured in WWI.
    3. Already refuted supra.
    4. Yes, the French Sept. 1939 offensive was lethargic at best. That is precisely my point – France was at best a reluctant participant in the folly of Chamberlain. It hoped a minor show of force might spark negotiations & at least fool the Poles into trying to fight a bit longer.
    There was NOTHING the West could have done in 1939 that it did not do.
    The Chamberlain guarantee was disingenuous at best, made to a government that was as self-serving & reprehensible as the Nazis. Note that Italy walked into Albania only ONE week after the guarantee, but the West did Sweet F All about it. The word you are thinking of right now is spelled H Y P O C R I S Y.
    The majority of U.K. Cabinet agreed to appeasement of Germany, feeling that the Treaty of Versailles was grossly unfair. This was part of the cause of their acrimony to Opposition Leader David Lloyd George, who had been involved in its creation.
    Stalin did NOT trust Hitler. He simply blew it. He did not believe the West would be defeated, & certainly not so quickly or completely. He purged his officer corps in 1937-38, but entertained notions of an offensive into Eastern Europe in 1942. He simply got caught with his pants down &, had Hitler made a plan & stuck to it, would have seen the S.U. vanish by about mid-late 1942.
    In conclusion: You view is like saying the world would be better right now if the tree in my back yard blossomed $100 bills. Just as easy to say Chamberlain & Churchill were responsible for the deaths of millions by creating a general war that did not have to be.
    Re the Churchill statement – more balderdash from one of its primary dispensers. As Aristotle put it, democracy is the best of the least preferable forms of government. But it has rarely been tried. It has not existed in the U.K. or Commonwealth since before the Commonwealth existed. Not in the U.S. since ratification of its Twelfth Amendment (1804). All are just oligarchies masquerading as democracies. I find ZERO history that supports your view.
    Your turn!

  55. 55
    Robert Mason says:

    Well informed research Ronald. The bottom line is Germany invaded poland because of the mass murders on the german natives in the danzig corridor by independent bolsheviks lardtovich karpinski and weis orchastrated the massacres. 55'000 in total were savaged in the most brutal way. Women were raped and hacked to pieces young children nailed to barn doors. The western leaders looked on and still hitler offered poland unconditional surrender which was refused. At this time hitler took the west side of the pact and s.u the east. The problem is that all along the S.U wanted Germany, France and Britain to anilinate each other so they could walk all the way to paris with communism. So in theory hitler kept this evil ideology from western europe but not in the way he hoped. R.I.P A.H

    • 55.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Robert: This is the first I have heard of Germans being killed in Poland prior to Sept. 1939. Any source you can cite would be much appreciated. The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was my final essay for Modern European History in university.
      I know many were killed as many more were forcibly expelled in 1945-49. I also am aware problems continue to exist over about 1 million ethnic Germans who live within the post-war Polish borders – especially since the demise of the Warsaw Pact. They get called White Ni—-s & some bloody riots have occurred. The German & Polish governments have had meetings about how to resolve the issue.

  56. 56
    psujoe says:

    You are all very knowledgeable and I love the info. IMO, Russia falls to Germany if the US is not in the war despite superior manpower. However, if the US lend lease to Russia was stopped I still believe sheer Russian man power wins the day.

    Germany's only hope was to go on a total war footing and claim it as a defense to British aggression to their declaration of war(for honoring their Poland treaty). They needed to build the weapons, munitions, logistical capabilities for the Eastern from during this time. Goering was a buffoon and cost serious expertise and equipment. A faint toward GB would've been more prudent. A need for long distance Bombers and logistic supply planes in this period would've been beneficial.
    Just too many details to go over, but imagine how many supplies could'e been positioned near the Eastern front if on a 3 shift war footing for 12 months? Flip side, surprise could be negated.
    Interesting scenarios.

  57. 57
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Mercbeast: I see no evidence of the science fiction you suggest is occurring in this forum.
    Your initial premise (first paragraph) seems to be entirely your construction. Nowhere in the record supra do I find anyone suggests the Nazi invasion of the S.U. was undertaken with limited goals. The intent quite clearly was to obliterate the S.U. by defeating it militarily & occupying its full European territory to the Ural Mts., leaving Siberia etc. to exist in any way that they would.
    The plan was to win the war by inflicting severe losses on the Red Army & seizing the Ukrainian agricultural area, the Dneipropetrovsk hydro-electric plant, & the main industrial & populations centres (Moscow & Lenigrad between them had about 60% of S.U. industrial capacity & were the most populous cities). The plan was sound enough. The strategy used to secure it is where the problems arose. There was not agreement on how to secure the goals. As a result, the first two goals were achieved, but the more important second two were not.
    It is quite likely that Hitler knew at least as well as any of his General Staff officers exactly what the economic & productive capacity of Germany was.
    He had access to all the data, which they did not. He seems to have regarded their misgivings as mere pessimism.
    Hitler based his method for all he did on emotion. He felt that people made their political & economic decisions based not on logic or what is the greatest good for the greatest number. Rather that they chose based on what was best for themselves & the ones they cared about. He felt that will power could prevail in most situations & that the morale of the combatants was vital.
    In his view, the ideas of Clausewitz were too intellectual & logical. There is some good evidence to support his view. In 1940,
    a.) Two reinforced Nazi divisions marched into Denmark & took the country in about 6 hours. No one can argue the Danish ability to wage war was defeated. What was defeated was its WILL to wage war.
    b.) Although the main Dutch cities were still held, resistance rapidly folded after the bombing of Rotterdam. Again, no one can argue the Dutch ability to wage war was seriously jeopardised. What was defeated was the Dutch WILL to wage war.
    c.) Belgium surrendered (at a moment very inconvenient to the Allied armies) although its army was still intact & held a much larger portion of the country than it did for almost all of WWI. Its forces were in contact with the other Allies. Once more, its ability to wage war was not defeated, but its WILL was.
    In WWI, Germany defeated the Russian Empire – in large part because of the political revolution that overthrew the Russian government. One more, its abilty to wage war was not defeated, but its WILL was.
    Hitler was not an original thinker. In virtually everything he did or tried to do he duplicated something someone else had done somewhere else. His ideas about the S.U. were shaped by the ancient Drang Nach Osten or Karl der Grosse & by the history of how the U.S. conquered most of its territory from N. American natives. This was heavily tempered by the Karl May stories he poured over in his youth.
    The S.U. was never anywhere near to the Union proclaimed in its name. Huge tracts of its land & vast numbers of its population were reluctant (often violently reluctant) members. The Nazis had no problem getting volunteers in the Baltic States, the Ukraine, or among Cossacks. The S.U. felt the need to perform internal ethnic cleansing of its 440,000 Volga Germans, fearing they would join the Nazis (despite the fact that at least 33,500 fought in the Red Army against the Nazis, 8 being awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.) The Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Chechnyens, etc. all had no love for the S.U. or for Stalin.
    I contend – had the Nazis chosen one course of action – either the flank strategy desired by Hitler or the central thrust favoured by O.K.W., the collapse of Soviet morale would have been sufficient for the people & members of the Red Army to say ENOUGH. It is not necessary to overcome the ability to wage war. All that is required is to damage moral to such a degree that the WILL to wage war is crushed.

  58. 58
    mike says:

    napoleon captured Moscow in 1812 but he could not hold it had to retreat hitler most likely would have to abandon it too the ussr would not have surrended in any event just like the us didn't after the british torched dc no you want to destroy armies not take cities

  59. 59
    John says:

    Dear Ronald Lameck: I agree with you in overall. I am traslating a post from Spanish to English. I think that it could be apreciate by you. The question of the WILL to figth is critical, and the fall of Moscow in 1941 could be the end of the SU and, as I will explain tomorow, the end of the war in 1944.

  60. 60
    John says:

    First want to congratulate everyone here write for demonstrating profound about WWII, I do not possess. For which I apologize, and once your professional opinion to my ideas on the subject.
    My specialty is armored forces.
    First of all, that the Germans took Moscow in 1941, the overriding goal of Barbarossa (along with the destruction of the Red Army and the occupation of the manufacturing centers) should have prepared better in the previous decade.
    That is, without being an economic and industrial power, plus military, the goal was unattainable. I believe that no possible combination of encirclement such maneuvers that goal is achieved by October 1941 (when the Raputzia begins the rainy season).
    Then, assume that Moscow falls, because preparations were made for the company. If you are going to succeed, it was through a Blitzkrieg type PANZER OPERATION.
    The war is lost when defeated France in July 1940, Hitler asked the dept. Weapons that duplicates the Panzer Divisions, taking them to 20 and do the same with div. Motorized, taking them to 10 When you manifest the cost of the plan and the need for skilled labor, Hitler gives up, and decided instead to halve the No. of tanks each, up to 150 per division. Worse, only 450 of 3,200 approximately in June 1941, were model Mark IV, but even with barrel 75 mm L-24, unable to pierce the armor of the T-34 which he would face soon began the campaign. It's a known von Mellenthin assertion that this gap had much to do with the failure of the campaign. However, the long barrel of anima, the L-43 pak 40 already existed and were slowly pursuing production orders …. Von Clausewitz would turn in his grave: Hitler had the winning cards, a tank whose production began in 1936 very slowly, and five years later it had not powered and not a thousand were available for facing life and death knew that Hitler himself was inevitable.

  61. 61
    John says:

    According to my knowledge, with 5,000 Mark IV, with 20% of L-43 long barrel in June 1941, the Panzer force would have broken categorical defeats even more than those achieved in reality. The Panzergruppe IV would have told four Panzer divisions instead of 3, and these in place with 750 panzers instead of 450, but also of much more firepower. Aditionally, the Germans could continue toi advance instead of wait the infantry forces or the Panzers replacement /broked be repared.That would have ensured the decision on Leningrad in August 1941, a month before freeing it for other missions; and taking a brutal blow to the Soviet defense. His move south for the offensive Typhoon, the conquest of Moscow, would have three Panzergruppen (II, III and IV) gathering more than 3,000 modern tanks on hard ground in September, 1000 instead of weak and outdated that used in October, just 15 days before the rainy season. This would have meant that Moscow was surrounded and possibly occupied at the beginning of this month, our most likely scenario.
    Stalin would have left Moscow at the certainty of his fall, and is likely to head for Kazan with the ambassadors of the allied powers.
    The riots of October in Moscow, which existed, would have been unstoppable, and the people would have risen up against everything the Communists. Consider that the German army would appear as invincible and far superior to Russian frank demoralization, if not a little counter-revolution would begin just after Stalin leaving Moscow.
    Successive advances would ensure a comfortable winter quarters, rest and recovery. Conquest of Baku oil to the following spring, though burned their wells, add unsolvable problems to the Soviets. Furthermore, with a level of production so high in tanks, for December of 1941 the fall of Egypt would be a fact, and in June 1942 three or four Panzer divisions plenty of mark IV, thges best tank againste the britisg matilda or Criusader (75 mm long against 45 mm short!) the entire Middle East would be fallen.
    For when America entered the war and bring its industry to produce, would be later. In mid-1942 the war was over. With 200 well-armed divisions, USSR, UK and USA eliminated even rearming is unthinkable to happen on the D day. Operation Torch possibly happen but the allies would b etraped in Algerie, as USA would become mired in Vietnam, a war of tables.
    With such a surplus of heavy weapons, Germany would happen to Romania, Hungary and Italy part of their production, changing for food, oil, etc., and turning them over to reliable military allies without suffering these setbacks of 1942. Stalingrad an El Alamein never happen…Ultimately his soldiers were so brave (given weapons) as the British and Russians.
    Germany would have around 1942, 43 and 44 to exploit the conquered territories, while depriving the oil of Baku allies and the Middle East. With jet aircraft Heinkel 163 (first flight in 1941) and Messerschmitt 262 (firts fligth in 1942), the German industry would be protected from air strikes. Not so UK for 1944 would rain bombs, conventional and type V-1 and V-2 about LONDON. It is likely that in December of this year, England, fearing that Germany came before the atomic bomb and suffering that hell, asked America that together demanded peace and armistice conditions.

    • 61.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      John: The great problem with your scenario is historic fact. Hitler did not have four aces in his hand, & never did. He had what he had. What you need to do is what I have done supra – show how a successful result could have been secured without changing one iota of the force employed for the operation, but simply by adjusting the strategy. It would have been possible, but did not happen – to the great detriment of millions who died unnecessarily & millions more who lived a diminished existence in the Soviet bloc.,

  62. 62
    Ronald Lameck says:


    Your comment re: Napoleon in 1812 borders on reductionism. Napoleon was puzzled by the Russian tactic of scorched-earth retreat – including the cities of Smolensk & Moscow. This denied him the opportunity to defeat the Russian army in detail in a single pitched battle, which was the usual way of fighting a war in that era.
    Armies did not have supply lines for food: they relied on what they could find in the fields. They did not fight on a continuous front. The Grand Armee was depleted by chasing the Russian army across the huge countryside when it should have just marched on St. Petersburg & killed or captured Tsar Alexander I or forced him to sue for peace.
    The August 1814 burning of Washington was reprisal for the U.S. burning of York (now Toronto) in April 1813. There were already U.S. & U.K. delegations meeting at Ghent, Belgium when that act occurred. The parties reached an accord on 24 Dec.
    To win a war, you act to sap the will of the opponent to continue to fight. The defeat is inside the head, not on the map or in the size of the cemeteries created.

  63. 63
    Ronald Lameck says:

    In your submission, you overlook that the timing of Barbarossa was altered by events.

    a.) Hitler did not expect a general war to result from the attack on Poland.
    The national economy was not turned in that direction at all. This is why there was heavy reliance on captured ordnance throughout the war.

    b.) He did not expect the U.K. to continue to fight after Poland (the cause for war) & Western Europe were overrun & the B.E.F. had to flee the continent. He did not want to fight the U.K. in the first place & knew he lacked the means to invade it. He believed that by neutralising the S.U. in a quick campaign, he could finally draw the U.K. to peace talks.

    b.) Intelligence from the S.U. suggested that Stalin meant to attack the Axis in summer 1942. To that extent, Barbarossa was pre-emptive.

    c.) The Yugoslav coup disrupted his political solution to secure the flank of the attack from possible U.K. interruption. Substantial forces had to be detached to eradicate this problem. This delayed Barbarossa by almost 6 weeks, used up some resources that had been set aside for it, & put a lot of wear & tear on men & materiel that were to be part of it.

    d.) Once the attack was underway, it seemed success was just over the next river or beyond the next town. This, coupled with the NEED to get it over with quickly, meant that the rational idea to stop the advance & settle into a winter line did not occur. So the army was in offensive mode when the weather collapsed & the S.U. could turn to counter-attack. This caused a lot of losses in men & materiel that would otherwise have been prevented.

    e). The mechanised forces were diluted because, although production could not be increased, most of the tanks were re-armed with larger guns.
    It was hoped that quality would make up for quantity.

    Overall, Hitler did NOT have the materiel to win. He hoped that by acting quickly & using a bit of bluff, tactics which had served him well in the past, he could disrupt the S.U. in a quick campaign, settle with the U.K., then
    turn again to deal with the S.U. in proper fashion.

  64. 64
    barry says:

    The capture of Moscow would have achieved nothing just like Napoleon's capture of Moscow years earlier. A country of the size of Germany, in 1941, did not have the resources to have capture all of USSR. The German's transportation resources were still mostly by foot and horse, as it was in Napoleon's day. Also, the population of USSR meant they could, and did bleed the German's white. Add the declaration of war against the United States, the failure of the Japanese to attack the USSR in the east, and the result is Germany could never win this war.

    • 64.1
      Ronald Lameck says:

      Barry: it was NEVER the German plan to capture all the S.U. Only to defeat the government & occupy so far as the Ural Mts.. Had you read any of the above, you would know that.
      The S.U. population was a widely disparate group of differing languages, religions, & cultures. Many were mutually hostile to others. They would have split in their myriad directions upon collapse of the central oppressor, just as they did historically post 1991. Had you read any of the above, you would have know that as well.
      The pre-occupation by Japan in other spheres was well-known to the Nazi government in Dec. 1941. Its participation was never considered vital – only useful if it came. The U.S. declaration (went both ways) would have meant little, if anything had the S.U. government fallen, as Hitler would have his Heartland (as per Mackinder theory) &, frankly, would care little about the west. In that event, both he & even Churchill would be open to just ending it all.

  65. 65
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Strictly within the confines of the issue addressed by Dan, I agree with MOST of what he says. There is one important difference:
    Stalingrad had been subjected to 36 hours of virtually non-stop bombing (at least 1000 tons dropped) in August 1942 just prior to entry by Armee Sechs. It was also bombed block-by-block for five days thereafter.
    Moscow, a much older & larger city with much greater population density, was not subjected to anything like this sort of bombardment. The city would not be so devastated. Armour could easily negotiate its streets. The city centre would have been easily attacked & not nearly so well defended. It would probably have easily been taken.
    But the scenario he answers was not the historic one – it is skewed by an invented weather situation, & so is unrealistic.

  66. 66
    knightdepaix says:

    In the lights of using how peoples (Russian ones, German generals, German and Soviet military and political leadership) as arguments, how about the geography from Germany to the S.U. which looks like a funnel opening to the east ? So whichever eastward directions the German leadership picked, they would have facing the ever broadening front from the Baltic and Arctic to the Black Sea.
    Concentrating on a trophy city anchored on the north or south end of this front would fit well with the German fighting style of relative quickness in lightning war, not to mention the German allies on the shores of those Seas (Finland, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Caucasian uprising).
    So Leningrad is a good first choice with reasons presented above — destruction of the Soviet Communist WILL to carry on the war; Crimea and Ukraine is a good second choice. Then matching onto the Kuban Steppe with an amphibious assault onto the southern shore of the Great Caucasus (today Georgia). Then march through the valley between the two Caucasian mountain ranges to Baku. Turkey can also be persuaded to join; she had been selling mineral ores through Romania anyway.

    Regarding choices of German general, Guderian and Model, repersentatives of blitzrieg armored warfare and combined arms defense are choices to join the drive to Leningrad. Army Group Center would advance to near Smolensk and then be deployed strategically defensively to prevent a Soviet breakthrough; thus Von Manstein would be choices for Army Group Center or South for manoeuvre warfare that would always attempt to impose German military initiatives on the Soviet armies, as in his success of the third battle of Kharkov.
    Once Leningrad and the Baltic east coast would be secured, Model would be responsible for its defense and Finnish collaboration in driving the Soviet out of Murmansk, Karelia and the Komi peninsula.
    Afterwards, once the Black Sea coast would be secured, the German army can drive for Baku.
    At last, with the north and south end of the long front secured, the German military can advance from the north and/or south as pincers towards Moscow in the center. Besides this flank strategy was favored by the ultimate German political leadership and anchored on economical and logistical advantage of maritime over land transport, the north-south axis of attack would void the Soviet geopolitical advantages of defending an \opening end of the funnel\ while advancing on a ever narrowing front on the European plain given her enormous humanpower and resources east of the Urals mountains. If some kind of diplomatic peace talks would happen, Soviet geopolitical anchoring on the Baltic and Black Seas would be Germans even in cases of partial conquering of the North European plain.
    If Archangelsk and Astrakhan were to be captured, the advantage of this axis remains. The point of Japanese \co-operation\ to Operation Barbarossa was strategically irrelevant because of the long distance between Moscow and the Russian far east region, not to mention of Soviet military presence in the area. The offensive effectiveness of Siberian divisions would not be as great for German anchoring to logistical advantage through the Baltic and the Black Sea.

  67. 67
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Knightdepaix: Your consideration of the offensive problem closely mirrors my own. The only flaw I perceive in what you have written is in the idea of an amphibious attack from the Black Sea on the Caucasus. The S.U. had a huge naval superiority in the Black Sea – an obsolete battleship, 5 cruisers, 18 destroyers, 18 minelayers, 2 gunboats, 84 torpedo boats & 44 submarines faced the 4 destroyers, 2 minelayers, 17 torpedo boats & 9 submarines of the combined Axis. (Some other minor ships are herein omitted.)
    Although the S.U. Caucasus ports had very limited repair capabilities, I doubt an amphibious attack could be successful against such resistance, even if the Axis were to secure absolute air supremacy which, of course, it could not do.
    THIS is one of a few places where it would have been useful for the Wehrmacht to continue its Fallschirmjager arm. But it is all just an intellectual exercise now.

  68. 68
    knightdepaix says:

    Thank Ron for devoting his attention to comments; I do have a suggestion that is close to being a question.
    Regardless of which tactical direction the Soviet and German would take offensively or defensively, I would recommend to look at the whole Barbarossa campaign on strategic perspectives. On the prospect of \conquering land and its peoples\, non-Russian peoples inhabited Estonia, Finland and her neighboring lands of Karelia and Komi penisula, which cover the coastal lands between Baltic and Barents Seas (practically the Arctic Ocean) and were separated by the waterways from the so-called White Sea-Baltic Canal, Lake Onega, Svir River, Lake Ladoga to River Neva and the coastal Leningrad. This narrower drainage between the Seas could have been an easier German and Finnish co-operative defense line, anchoring at Leningrad on the west end and Bel0morsk on the east end. Swampy and woody areas of these lakes and rivers would give the Finns a great defense advantage as they had proven themselves during the Winter War against the Soviets.
    In other words, capture of Leningrad could culminate a Soviet cession that crippled Soviet geopolitical anchoring between the Baltic and White Sea, at least shortened the front on that Finnish military would need to defend. The Soviet Union has held the Komi peninsula. However, would Germany and the S.U. would settle for at least a cease-fire giving Finland all the lands northwest of the aforementioned waterway border ?

  69. 69
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Knightdepaix: I cannot envision that Hitler would care much about Karelia.
    Armee Lapland (Gerbirgsarmee 20) was employed mostly to recover Axis use of the nickel mines around Petsamo. As part of the peace treaty ending the Winter War, the Finns had to cede to the S.U. a transit through the area to Norway.
    It would have been wise to press Unternehmen Silberfuchs & seize Murmansk, but the area was a very difficult one to fight in & to reach with reinforcements.
    Had a more determined effort been made to seize Leningrad, of course a large number of Finnish troops could have been moved north to finish the job at Murmansk. But the problem was the Finn reluctance to conduct offensive action against the S.U. They seemed satisfied to recover the land lost after the Winter War, & no more. They could have attacked toward Leningrad from the Viipuri area, or allowed German troops to do so, & the city would have fallen. But they did not, so this never happened.
    Then after the U.K. declared against Finland on 6 Dec, the Finns were content to maintain a defensive posture. Overall, although they were good fighters, they were not very useful as allies to Germany.

  70. 70
    knightdepaix says:

    I can understand the Finns are not very useful as German allies despite maintaining defensive posture throughout the WWII. One argument favoring the Finns is that by going offense against the S.U. onto Soviet lands, Finland would give the S.U. reasons to invade the Finland. The German military leadership and the one ultimate German political leader had cared less: a book detailing German operations in the Arctic mentioned the man thought attacking from Petsamo towards Murmansk would be a cakewalk while Eduard Dietl, the German commander, emphasized the difficult geography. No roads existed, covered with feet of snows during winter but swamps during summer, a haven for mosquitoes.
    On the other hand, the Soviet could benefit from the \Kirov Railway\ or the \Murman Railway\ linking Murmansk and Leningrad, which runs from the ice-free port along the White Sea coast, turns west to reach Leningrad.
    If Germany would be vigilant of the Soviet geopolitical anchoring on the Baltic, White and Black Seas, the army would occupy Karelia and Komi peninsula including Murmansk. The S.U. obviously had realized the lands are not much use except for providing a long corridor from which military presence against Finland can be mounted.
    As a note, those lands are still not developed much to this day: take a look of today's Murmansk's population (from Wikipedia):
    Although Murmansk's population is in decline—299,148 (2014 est.);[5] 307,257 (2010 Census);[4] 336,137 (2002 Census);[10] 468,039 (1989 Census)—[11]it remains the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. [12] If Finland could administer those lands including the city, would the city be better today ? Also as a note, both Finns, Estonians, Karelians, Hungarians, and some minorities living in Russia belong to the same language classification Finno-Ugric peoples. As an intellectual exercise, why did German and the other allies, say the Hungarians, not remove that threat to Finland by settling the cession of all lands northwest of the lakes and rivers around Ladoga, Onega on a cease-fire ?
    If Lebensraum could fit German ideology, Greater Finland would fit Finland ideology. Once the lands would had been ceded to Finland, the Russian Finno-Ugric population would be immigrated onto them ? It seems even Mannerheim detested German ideology of that time.
    It seems Germany and its allies concentrated on achieving own objectives than removing their common enemy Soviet presence east of their nations.
    On similar rationale, Romania could have retained nowadays Odessa Oblast. The European lands of S.U. was so large, shall they be taken bit-by-bit ?

  71. 71
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Knightdepaix: From the German perspective, the Kola Peninsula & Karelia had no relevance. The interest was solely to have the nickel mines around Petsamo. Taking Murmansk was just gravy. It seems to not have been considered until after the fact that Murmansk & Archangelsk could be used to secure supplies from the U.K. It could be argued that most of the troops used in Silberfuchs may have been better employed elsewhere.
    It may be that they might have been just sufficient to tip the scale & allow Leningrad to be seized. If it fell, the northern flank was of little strategic relevance, save to protect the vital Finnish nickel & Swedish iron ore supplies. Certainly, the loss of Leningrad to the S.U. would have been far more devastating.
    The German command seemed to let lesser officers press their own agendas – Silberfuchs & the earlier Unternehmen Merkur (Crete) – local projects that aided their own reputations & egos, but which were often detrimental to the grand strategy.

  72. 72
    knightdepaix says:

    Finnish leadership (Mannerheim often got quoted as the head of them) had constantly been rejecting the German proposal of helping capture Leningrad, using lack of manpower and firepower as reasons. Actually Finnish military and political leadership had tried to avoid annoying the S.U. and the Western allies. Finland refraining from cutting the Murman railway despite attacking in the direction towards it helped sway Amercian sympathy. British did declare of war on Finland; if Finnish military leadership had had a larger role, the British and American would not have easily let Finland get away of that balancing act between the two warring enemies camps.
    Given the above, if capturing Leningrad had indeed been the primary objective of Barbarossa, the German leadership would need to prepare to take for THEMSELVES the Karelian coast of White Sea, the Kola Peninsula along with Murmansk and the Murman railway. This gain of strategically logistics would have gone counter to the intuition of the ultimate German one-man leadership if Barbarossa had dragged on as it was in history. Was this military endeavor achievable ?
    In history, the Finnish advanced close to Leningrad and the
    White Sea coast. By maintaining a strategic defense but tactical maneuver warfare in the central east of Smolensk (probably under the likes of Von Runstedt or Von Manstein's leadership), ramped-up Army Group North could then capture Leningrad, attacked along the Murman railway heading northeast and north, swept Soviet resistance into the White Sea (note that Finns would be attacking from the West), and headed for Murmansk. Once Murmansk had been captured, German navy and military from Norway could be stationed. Fresh units from Norway could then head back south to capture Leningrad if the city still had not fallen.
    After all those conquest, Army Group North had achieved its goal. The likes of Walter Model leadership would then be responsible for the defense of the conquered land. Depending on the situation of Army Group South along the Black Sea coast and Caucasus, could pincers advancing to Moscow be mounted ? Please note that so far the German conquests were of non-Russian peoples (Polish, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Karelians, Komis, peoples living in the Caucasus), successful German political management of these peoples and lands would be critical to holding onto the gains, but in my opinion, German military were at the time better then her politics: getting the Soviet leadership again to the cease-fire and peace-talk table would be very hard.

  73. 73
    Ronald Lameck says:

    Knightdepaix: The political stance of Finland in what it calls its Continuation War baffles. When invaded in Nov. 1939, Germany quickly offered aid, including its 1st-echelon weapons of the time (Bf-109E aircraft, Pzkw. IV armour), whereas France offered nothing – not even best wishes – and the U.K. offered a few 2nd- or 3rd-rate aircraft. Germany was always a far better ally to the Finns than the West ever was.
    If you cannot avoid a fight (war), then do all you can to win it with the least possible harm to yourself. That means not having to fight again in the near future – seek a permanent solution. Before the Winter War, the S.U. offered Finland more than 2X the territory in the north to compensate for ceding land in the Karelian Isthmus. It sought that land as a buffer zone for Leningrad. The Finn government refused the offer & the Red Army marched soon after. To go back at the S.U. this time in an aggressive war simply to recover what it took in the 1940 treaty would mean that the 26,000 Finns who died in that war did so in vain.
    Had the Finn government allowed die Wehrmacht the same free transit in south Finland that it allowed in the north, then the Finn argument of not having the strength or resources to strike at Leningrad would have been solved. With a German armoured corps to spear-head, Finns troops could have been marching down Nevsky Prospekt within a couple of weeks.
    The interesting thing about St. Petersburg – Petrograd – Leningrad is that it is hard to attack on a broad front. However, such attack is FAR easier from the west or south. Die Wehrmacht, forced by Finn political posturing to attack only from the south, was barred (barely) from capturing the city. A two-prong thrust would have succeeded. Meanwhile, an S.U. counter attack could only come from the east, and would be frustrated by Lake Ladoga.
    Capture of the city would have vastly improved Finn security, and Finn troops could be moved north to ensure capture of Murmansk.
    Serious action in the north would have been very difficult – the weather, lack of roads and rough terrain being limiting factors. Beyond protection of the Petsamo nickel mines and access to the Swedish iron ore, there was no strategic interest for Germany in the north. The need to protect Narvik would limit the number of ships die Kriegsmarine could base at Murmansk, but certainly many U-boats could operate from there to nullify S.U. & Allied use of Archangelsk for Lend-Lease.
    If the S.U. had been defeated, the Allies would have accepted whatever Finland had done to aid in bringing that end. After all – they had no great love for Soviet Communism either. The MAIN reason for the antipathy to Germany was that the U.K. & France did not want to see it as the economic hegemon of Europe. But now, 70 years on, millions of lives lost & property destroyed and cultural treasures lost, that is precisely what it is. Yes, the wrong side won in 1945.

  74. 74
    Yeti says:

    Lots of interesting arguments about how things would have been different had the Wehrmacht taken Leningrad or Moscow. We can't learn much from things that did not happen, but how about we look at things that did actually happen.

    - Napoleon actually occupied Moscow in 1812, the defenders just moved out and left him with an empty ruin of a ghost town. We know how it turned out for him. Hint: no, no decisive victory.

    - Stalingrad never fell, in spite of Hitler going all in on that one.Hint: a very reasonable and conservative guess is that Leningrad and Moscow would also have been defended fanatically to the last man and to the last bullet. Leningrad did indeed lose half of its population and was still going strong after 900 days.

    So, although I agree with some of the potential consequences of either of those cities falling into German hands, no one in the whole thread has yet proven that that was even a possibility. The Germans tried two different approaches against these key strongholds: siege and starvation (didn't work), leveling and hand-to-hand combat (didn't work). Urban warfare is a very different game and in that respect I think the Soviets would have held on town after town all the way back to Novosibirsk if necessary, until the Germans were exhausted and demoralized. Neil above makes the very germane point (no pun intended) that the human resources of the USSR were, for practical means, infinite. Even if put in a straight line I seriously doubt the Wehrmacht even had enough bullets to kill every single one of the Soviet defenders. No one has countered this point, and it just happens to be the single most relevant one in all the argument.

  75. 75
    Ronald Lameck says:

    To end reductionism. Napoleon saw a largely abandoned Moscow burned around his forces which were at the end of a long supply line. He then wasted five weeks expecting Tsar Alexander to surrender. As this did not happen, he headed south hoping to surround the Russian army, but was met by part of its force, which negated his effort. So he began the ill-fated retreat.
    In 1942, the plan never was to capture Stalingrad. Nevertheless, it WAS falling. The Wehrmacht had Sixty-Second Red Army on the ropes when Operation Uranus was launched. The Rumanian & Hungarian forces it attacked largely melted away – something which could not reasonably have been expected. That allowed the city to be surrounded. Hitler never made a large effort there – the emphasis was on reaching the oil fields near Baku. But he split the force, wanting both goals to be achieved simultaneously. The supply situation could not support this
    There is no ground to contend Moscow & Leningrad could have been defended in the same way, as the circumstances were different. At Stalingrad, the S.U. had a very short supply line – the breadth of the Volga – while the Wehrmacht was at the end of a long line. That problem did not exist at the other cities.
    The Red Army, showed ample examples of panic & collapse at other cities – e.g. – Minsk. In 1942, the German strategy was haphazard – attacking on both flanks when one or the other would have made the day.
    No \siege or starvation\ (really the same thing) was attempted at Moscow. An attack was made, but done so in winter weather. No subsequent attack was ever attempted.
    At Leningrad, the Finns bizarre action unnecessarily complicated the situation. They were happy to be in their one-time positions, but did nothing that would have ensured their being able to keep those positions permanently. They did nothing to help take Leningrad & would not allow German transit to do so. A more realistic strategy on their part would have ensured the fall of the city.
    At this point, I invite you to inform us when the supposed hand-to-hand combat occurred at that city.
    Like Neil, you make the error of assuming that just because a lot of people were available to the S.U. that all of these would have fought on its behalf. Flying in the face of all evidence to call that remote possibility the \single most relevant (point) in this debate is the \magical thinking.\

  76. 76
    Neil says:


    Would you be so kind as to answer a few questions for me?

    First, do you dispute the view that Hitler intended to wage a war of annihilation against the Soviet Union (e.g. men, women and children should be killed or enslaved)? If yes, why?

    Second, do you dispute the view that the Soviet Union could replace killed or captured soldiers at a much faster rate than the Germans? If yes, why? (The SU's army grew in numbers in 1942/1943 despite having lost roughly 3 million soldiers in the German's great encirclements.)

    Third, do you dispute the view that the majority of the German's Soviet prisoners of war were staved to death? If yes, why?

    I am no fan of Stalin or the Soviet's control of Eastern Europe in the decades following WWII. However, I am convinced that the fate of those living in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would have been much worse if Hitler and the Nazis had won WWII.

    Fourth, do you deny that the Nazi's intentionally killed millions of people (e.g. in concentration and extermination camps) and had plans to continue the killing after the war had been won? If yes, why?

    I look forward to your reply.

  77. 77
    Ronald Lameck says:


    I am busy like a one-legged man in a posterior-kicking contest right now, so will answer you in driblets – one Q. at a time.
    1. Of course not. Hitler proclaimed often, long & loud to all & sundry that he regarded the S.U. & its ideals as a blight upon mankind that had to be obliterated. He had contempt & low regard for all the eastern people. In part, this was formed when he was a camp guard at Traunstein in winter 1918-19. With WWI over, the camp was dispersing prisoners-of-war from the Russian Empire.
    He noted that many had no wish to return home, only to be impressed into the raging Russian civil war. He thought them to be parasites, cowards & traitors for wanting to remain in Germany, which was hard-pressed to feed its own people. He cared not that many of these men had no love for the oppressive imperial autocracy for which they had fought, & no trust in the claims of Lenin et al.
    His intent was to treat the eastern people as the U.K. & U.S. had treated the non-whites in their spheres of influence for centuries – like sub-humans fit only to exploit. He was not an original thinker: all he did or tried to do had been done before elsewhere – mostly by those who now expressed such horror at his ideas. He delighted in revealing the hypocrisy of his critics.

  78. 78
    Ronald Lameck says:

    2. Having a much larger population base to draw from, of course the S.U. could probably replace losses to a greater degree than the Wehrmacht. Almost all of its soldiers were conscripted – often at the point of a gun &/or with threats to their relatives, whereas a large number of Wehrmacht troops were \Freiwilligen [free will - volunteers]\
    - especially in the Waffen-S.S.
    The Red Army grew despite its colossal 1941 losses because it takes a long time to mobilise a large number of troops drawn across a vast area. However, what matters is not the number that can be gathered, but the quality of those gathered.
    Many, if not most S.U. troops were very reluctant participants. Many were poorly educated. They often got sparse or very poor training. In particular, this was seen among Red Army armoured troops. Many could barely operate their machines. These are the sorts who make poor soldiers.
    A single well-educated volunteer who is well-trained can out-perform a large number of such soldiers, especially if he has superior communications. German armoured troops communicated by radio. In the Red Army, almost all for the entire war had to rely on the squad commander directing by means of coloured flags stuck up above an opened turret hatch.
    By 1945, the Red Army had at least 800,000 women in uniform, more than 500,000 in combat roles. It had large numbers of boys of 12-13 years & men over 50 – often, over 60. This was why a much smaller force of Germans, even half-trained, could eviscerate much larger S.U forces right up to the very last days of the war. (E.g. Battle of Bautzen)
    The greatest thing to aid the Red Army besides the immense amount of goods it received through Lend-Lease was the Allied action in the West, which drew off large numbers of German troops – especially the high-quality units. Left to fight strictly toe-to-toe, the Red Army was decidedly inferior. A look at the comparative numbers engaged & lost
    leaves no doubt about this.

  79. 79
    Ronald Lameck says:

    3. Who disputes obvious facts? The intent of \Barbarossa\ was to obliterate the S.U. There is no gentle obliteration. While Germany did, the S.U. chose to not sign the 1929 Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners.
    By the Convention terms, Germany was supposed to treat prisoners of non-signatories as if their nation HAD signed, but in operational fact history shows this is seldom adhered to. (e.g.: the disingenuous acts of the U.S. in Afghanistan with its Guantanamo Gulag, Abu Ghraib, etc.)
    The lot of a prisoner on either side on the \East Front\ was not to be envied. Starting on 22 June 1941, Red Army troops shot German prisoners – especially the wounded. The Red Army had earlier demonstrated this great brutality to Finn prisoners in the 1939-40 Winter War. In fact, it was this treatment of Finns that was in part inspiration for Hitler's \Commissar Order\ (6 June 1941 – that any captured Soviet commissars were to be summarily executed).
    In \Lost Victories\, Manstein wrote of capturing so many Red Army prisoners that he had to have them fed grass, as there was nothing else to give them. He had many shot as he thought it more humane than starving without housing as the weather turned cold.
    \War is Hell\ – Gen. William T. Sherman (1879).

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