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Thread: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave68124 View Post
    Will do. Thanks. Care to share some of the arguments?
    Basically after you read the book, you'll see that the Germans couldn't rebuild their forces to full strength and couldn't keep them fueled. Meanwhile the Russians had plenty of reserves and kept feeding them into battle.

    Its clear that the Russian's poorly handled massed armour but were learning. The Russians were also continually counterattacking. This tied up lots of Germans around Voronezeh.

    The German summer offensive of 1942 was spectacularly successful given that it wrote down about 12 armies. However even with that spectacular success, it still wasn't enough.

    An important thing to remember is that the German summer 1942 offensive hit the Russians in a sector of secondary significance to them. The Russians deployed their reserves to defend Moscow. When AGC did try an offensive south of Moscow, it got stuffed.

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    Chief Defender of the Faith ADMIN Dr Zaius's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    Col. Glantz's conclusions regarding German operations on the Eastern Front tend to be, shall we say, more than a little pessimistic. For many years a lot of the literature on the Eastern Front came from German sources and, unsurprisingly, these accounts tended to filter operations through the lens of the German leadership. Colonel Glantz is one of those that worked tirelessly to document Soviet accounts of the war in order to craft a more balanced view of the conflict. However, in my view he often tries a bit too hard and seems to almost intentionally be trying to compensate by spinning in the opposite direction of the earlier historical analysis.

    Hardly surprising. Every book I've ever read on the American Civil War is riddled with personal opinion and bias. Why should the Eastern Front be any different.

    I stand by my earlier assessment: The issue was not decided in 1941. The fact that the Germans were able to fight a two front war (really three) as successfully and for as long as they did speaks volumes.
    "I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself." - Dr. Zaius

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    Forum Guru Michael Dorosh's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Maddox View Post
    The fact that the Germans were able to fight a two front war (really three) as successfully and for as long as they did speaks volumes.
    When did they do this? Aside from never. Maybe 1915-1917.

    Their prosecution of the Second World War was thankfully inept on any level you care to name - strategic, operational, or tactical. And while they did happen to fight - coincidentally - on a couple of fronts for some periods, I don't recall those periods ever being ones of success. The periods they showed the most success in the field were ones in which they were engaged in operations on one "front" as you say. In 1939, it was the east, in early 1940, the west, and for the briefest of periods, in late 1941 and early 1942, North Africa, though that was primarily an Italian theatre of war which was mostly starved of German resources. Even there, success was fleeting; Rommel messed things up in short order. By late 1942, "success" was nowhere to be found, the Germans were on the retreat in North Africa - what few divisions there were there.

    By the time a true second front opened in the summer of 1943, I don't know how you can label anything they did "successfully". They simply staved off total collapse through ruthlessness and brutality. That's not success, nor military skill. It's pig-headedness and criminality. They also owed a lot to lack of military experience among their enemies - which I think speaks well, not poorly, for their enemies.

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    His Royal Fubar Manilianus's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    They were - gladly - farther and farther from victory, when Adolf decided to conquer land instead of focusing solely on defeating Red Army. And this began in late '41. Russia from sea to sea is couple of thousands kilometers wide, you have to have millions of people to make a front line to secure it, and keep it strong.

    When Germans relied on their blitz, encirclement, destruction, move on, and so forth, without wasting time on capturing land for the sake of having it, they were on the move. When they have started to conquer Russia instead of defeating Russians, they've lost the initiative, and I think that definetely after first Soviet counteroffensive at Moscow. Not that not capturing Moscow was a key point, but that key point was that very counteroffensive, which maybe didn't stop Germans for good, but it have stopped Russians - from this time they weren't retreating and running into traps, but were on defensive and offensive, as army suppossed to be.

    And in 1944 Wehrmacht simply took the role of Red Army in 1941. But it was the consequence of land capturing by far fewer troops than the enemy.

    Add to this reppressions to potential collaborators and great many of neutral people, and forcing them to become partisants, sum it up and you have "a victory denied", to borrow phrase.
    Last edited by Manilianus; 19 Jun 11 at 19:14. Reason: Added third paragraph

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    Forum Commando ChrisM's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    I'm not even sure about teh political collapse of the Soviet Union if moscow fell in 1941. maybe - but much of teh government was already gone (see Nagurski's "The Greatest Battle". yes - Stalin stayed - and rallied the people, but even if teh city was taken, their would ahve been enough of a government left to function.

    And as was observed above - by that point, the Russains knew they were in a war of genocide. I don't know if they EVER would have given in. Taking into account their tremendous advantages in terms of population and resources - a German victory looks increasingly unlikely.

    Maybe if tehy capture Moscow and the Russian government in the late summer fo 1941 - and before the depradations of teh Einstazkommandos becomes well known....maybe. But after that, its iffy and afetr December 1941 its pretty much out of the question - Stalingrad or no.

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    Chief Defender of the Faith ADMIN Dr Zaius's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    I'm not sure I buy that. The Soviets certainly scored a great victory by stopping the Germans in late 1941, but at tremendous cost. And they were hardly fully recovered by the time the Germans were ready to resume offensive operations in 1942.

    Nothing is certain in war. If you look at the Vietnam War from a purely military perspective, the situation appears utterly hopeless from the North Vietnamese point of view. They are tremendously outgunned, outclassed, and generally outnumbered in every way that matters on a modern battlefield. They should have lost the war in spectacular fashion. Yet they did not, largely due to the "friction of war" and the vast number of variables that make every military venture an unpredictable and dangerous undertaking. Real war is not like war gaming, where every factor can be boiled down to reasonably predictable variables which determine success or failure. Sometimes even a force with overwhelming military resources and solid morale can failscade due to brilliant strategy on the part of an aggressive enemy, extreme bad luck, or being hit at exactly the right time and place.

    The Soviet Union was a tyranny held together by fear and brutal repression. The fact that the Germans were unable to overcome the Soviets due to the choices they made does not mean it was impossible to do so. Tyrannies have many weaknesses that can be exploited, the Germans simply failed to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Instead, they pursued a repressive policy of their own that virtually guaranteed a protracted and extremely violent resistance. Who knows what could have happened had they pursued a policy rooted in common sense and designed to achieve strategic goals in their own long-term self interest.
    "I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself." - Dr. Zaius

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    His Royal Fubar Manilianus's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Maddox View Post
    I'm not sure I buy that. The Soviets certainly scored a great victory by stopping the Germans in late 1941, but at tremendous cost. And they were hardly fully recovered by the time the Germans were ready to resume offensive operations in 1942.

    Nothing is certain in war. If you look at the Vietnam War from a purely military perspective, the situation appears utterly hopeless from the North Vietnamese point of view. They are tremendously outgunned, outclassed, and generally outnumbered in every way that matters on a modern battlefield. They should have lost the war in spectacular fashion. Yet they did not, largely due to the "friction of war" and the vast number of variables that make every military venture an unpredictable and dangerous undertaking. Real war is not like war gaming, where every factor can be boiled down to reasonably predictable variables which determine success or failure. Sometimes even a force with overwhelming military resources and solid morale can failscade due to brilliant strategy on the part of an aggressive enemy, extreme bad luck, or being hit at exactly the right time and place.

    The Soviet Union was a tyranny held together by fear and brutal repression. The fact that the Germans were unable to overcome the Soviets due to the choices they made does not mean it was impossible to do so.
    Hard to disagree, Don. But we are all "what-iff-ing" extremely, when asking ourselves the question "could they". Sure, we can add "luck" factor and so forth, but with luck, Russians could even invade Germany in 1941 - Hitler and General Staff dying of heart attack, Wehrmacht disobeying orders, USA declaring war with Grofaz in June and opening second frontline... Even Kiev pocket would not be succesfull if Guderian would not get in time, maybe whole south-central German sector could be then encircled and destroyed. We do not have many more choices than looking on whole of this as from the view of a static wargamer.

    Just my opinion ofcourse.

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    See Dummies in the index Vinnie's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    You can get thrown by Geography sometimes. The way you win a war is by destroying the enemies ability to prosecute it successfully. Destroy his armies and the geography will follow.
    The Soviets had a great advantage of space to reteat into and this allowed them time to rebuild and rearm. If the Germans had destroyed the Soviet Armies of 1943 could the Soviets have rebuilt yet again? I'm not so sure.
    However I don't think destroying these armies were ever in the capabilities of the German amy.
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie View Post
    You can get thrown by Geography sometimes. The way you win a war is by destroying the enemies ability to prosecute it successfully. Destroy his armies and the geography will follow.
    The Soviets had a great advantage of space to reteat into and this allowed them time to rebuild and rearm. If the Germans had destroyed the Soviet Armies of 1943 could the Soviets have rebuilt yet again? I'm not so sure.
    However I don't think destroying these armies were ever in the capabilities of the German amy.
    Maybe, but agree with Don. Had the Germans even simply pursued different policies in the Baltics and Ukraine, I think at the worst, they could have set off an internal civil war in the Soviet Union. But the population was just saddled with another oppressor and better to go with the devil you know.

    As for taking Moscow, I think that would have sent ripples through the Soviet political system that might not have been recoverable just because Stalin and Co. moved to the other side of the Urals.

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    See Dummies in the index Vinnie's Avatar
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    Re: Could the Germans have won on the Eastern Front?

    I agree with the divide and rule concept, certainly they could have rouse Ukraine, Georgia, Khazakstan but it was not in the natureof the regime to achieve this.
    Reading Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat at the moment anbd he's going into the reasons why the Thrid Reich ended up that way. It's rightening.
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