Hi, I have some questions concerning Operation Barbarossa, I heard that all the railways where passing through Moscow wich made it more strategical for wehrmacht, is it true ? And also what was more strategical to defend by soviet, Moscow because it’s the capital and because of the railways or stalingrad because volga was passing through it and because it opened the way to petrol in Baku?
That’s basically correct. Once the Germans had Minsk, Kiev and Smolensk, Moscow was the rail junction. Here’s a pretty good map from “allworldwars.com”.
Hope this helps!
@xfilesfc Thank you very much ! This map confirms the information !
I would say Moscow was attacked because it was the capital, the railways were probably not a significant factor for the Germans. The railways bringing supplies from the west were more significant. In 1941 the value of Moscow was more value as a command center than a transport hub.
Stalingrad had no strategic value, bypassing it and capturing the right bank of the Volga further East would have disrupted river traffic as much.
From the German point of view Stalingrad sucked in units and supplies that could have been deployed to the Caucuses or in a drive down the Volga to the Caspian to isolate Russian forces to the South.
Hitler got obsessed with the symbolism of Stalingrad.
I’m not so sure. The Germans must have appreciated that if they took Moscow, they would have basically bisected Western Russia’s transportation system; the ‘Leningrad side’ having no connection to the ‘Stalingrad’ side. The Russians would have had great difficulty shifting units (and supplies) one way or the other.
I think you’re dead right about the Battle of Stalingrad coming down to its name (for both sides), but I don’t think the Germans could have turned right and driven to the Caspian (as it was, Army Group B was very nearly ‘out of supply’ for its drive into the Caucuses.). But there were certainly ways to be more creative in dealing with the Volga for the Germans than bludgeoning their way through the 62nd Army. But then, Hitler always was a big fan of bludgeoning…
BTW, Stalin had already moved much of the administrative apparatus of Moscow 1500 miles east to Kubichev, when the Germans approached, but there was a panic among the Moscow citizenry when they saw this going on, and the NKVD had to be called out to “restore order” by shooting selected citizens.
It did and the man Adolf Hitler himself said that in his speech in the Sportpalast of Berlin on the 30th of September 1942).
Here is a link to the entire speech. Skip to the timestamp of 4:45 to know why Stalingrad was an important place. I do recommend listening to the entire speech to get the full context
And the follow up speech where he talks about logistics and the stops in german operations (although you can skip it, as he does not mention Stalingrad. Only how they fixed roads that the bolsheviks did not manage to and all the wonders the soviet people have accomplished under the Germans)
Here a speech from Stalingrad 1993… in which Hitler talks about why Hitler took Stalingrad, though it is heavily edited
which is taken from
(it is not subbed yet which is why I put in the quote from the subbed movies)
and if I remember correctly… In some regular episode Indy does mention that if the Germans were successful in taking Stalingrad… then the last rail link to the Caucus would be cut off.
Moscow was a key rail center and armaments producer, it would have been a big loss for the Russians even if they had a scorched-earth policy in place. If the Germans had taken Moscow in 1941 it at the least would have prolonged the war another year or two.
But let me ask you this. Would the Germans have been able to take Moscow? It is one thing to reach it or even Isolate it but to capture could have been much bloodier than Stalingrad. It was the biggest city the Germans ever got close too and I think Russia was prepared to defend it at all costs.
Now if they had reached it in August or September a lot of the preparations were not ready but that doesn’t make the street to street fighting any easier. Also have to know that if they went straight there, the 600,000 Russians in Kiev go free. Tough choices all the way around.
Well part of the answer depends on Hitler and leadership making rational/sound decisions into the campaign and according to a post I made the Germans making realistic preparations for Barbarossa. If these two things are done than I do believe they take Moscow and Leningrad in 1941. Now lets say Hitler doesn’t change but the Germans still adequately prepare for Russia from June 1940 to June 1941 with a total war production economy. This assumes more tanks, planes, artillery, and other things they were lacking like prime track troop movers, etc. Than despite Hitler being scared of Moscow, I do believe the Germans still end up taking Moscow in 1941. With greater tank strength panzer divisions and more planes raining hell on the Russians to me I don’t see how either the Germans don’t have a stronger Army Group South and/or advance along a broad front into Russia in 1941.
Well we have had the discussion before I Think I understand your proposition that Germany could have produced many of their more modern tanks and many more aircraft and would have sent a much stronger army east. I can understand that and while that had interesting complications for the German economy I would like to suggest another problem which comes to mind.
Assuming the Russians use the Same tactics in Moscow that they did Stalingrad I would wonder if the Germans would face yet another shortage with that being infantry. Tanks become of limited use trying to occupy city blocks. And this would have caused immense casualties of infantry as this would have become the largest city in history taken by direct assault.
Timing of when the battle begins is also interesting. If they get there before the rains, they face almost a month of not being able to get reinforcements and supplies through the Russian mud. You also suggested that Army group South would have been stronger and yes that’s true but I can’t conceive them being enough to complete the Kiev’s encirclement without outside help.
No matter how powerful you make the German armies, they were always tuned for a quick decisive engagement because their logistics were crap. Better tank division get farther yes but more tank divisions require a lot more infantry as well. Germany needed more manpower all the way around.
It’s not how much more powerful I’d make the German Armies, it’s how much more powerful they could have made themselves. Please keep that in mind, I’ve researched this, in my other post I quote from the book. They halved the strength of their Panzer divisions after France for Russia. The Germans failed to realize they would need a total war production economy, they only produced a certain number of units per different weapon. They only had 550 Panzer IV’s available for June 1941. Imagine them making at least 1,000, maybe up to 1500 from June 1940 to June 1941? Instead of 3,000 tanks for Barbarossa, 4,000. A greater strength of 4-5,000 aircraft. Plus the things they lacked like heavy infantry weapons, field artillery, and prime tracked movers, etc. As things played out in history the Germans got to within 5-12km of Moscow. A realistically and better prepared German army to me would definitely have secured Moscow if things play out as they did in 1941 militarily. And you can’t say the Russians would play the defense of Moscow the way they did Stalingrad. They started with a numerical disadvantage for the Battle of Moscow in reality, for Stalingrad the whole situation of the war was different. I hear your point on a shortage of manpower, but stupid moves like halving the strength of their panzer divisions helped cause this. Plus before June 1941 the Germans had actually decreased the size of their army as they were overconfident of a quick victory and didn’t realize they would need every man available from the get-go. To me realistic preparations would have meant both Moscow and Leningrad fall to the Germans in 1941. Thankfully the Germans were both unaware of the economy they would need to fight the war, and ignorant of everything else.
Yes, the Nazis could have produced more everything (but starting too early means you have hordes of Pzkw-II’s and III’s, which is not such a great thing.)
Hitler never forgot that the Nazi Party was a political party, and that putting too much pressure on the home front could result in revolutionary chaos like that which happened at the end of WWI. So Hitler paid great attention to keeping the home folks happy, and had parts of the SD keeping an eye on ‘public morale’.
Every country taken by the Germans was to one extent or another pillaged of food and consumer goods - for the German people. But even that was only as an adjunct to German production.
In addition to paying great attention to production for civilian consumption; Hitler never really did ‘rationalize’ production, even of military equipment. For Kursk, he put great productive effort on two (really three) tanks - one of which had a habit of wrecking its transmission and throwing tracks (Tigers) and the other throwing tracks and actually catching fire (Panthers.).
Guderian told Hitler it would be better to make more Pzkw-IV’s (with the long-barrel 75mm gun) than fewer Panthers and Tigers. But Hitler wanted his toys.
So anyway, if the Germans had taken production in-hand and built military equipment to the exclusion of all else, things might well have gone better for them. But the Nazis were not, despite their reputation for “efficiency”, even remotely good at planning an economy.
And that’s why I said “if the Germans had made realistic preparations for Russia”… I don’t agree with that point about keeping people happy at home because after the fall of France he was super popular… Maybe your point can be taken in 1939 to an extent, but certainly the year of June 1940 to June 1941 they absolutely could have produced a lot more across the board. Also the way things played out they had too many Panzer II’s and III’s but more production of the Panzer IV would have been huge. The text I studied from said only 550 Panzer IV’s were ready for Barbarossa, that is nowhere near enough. They should have had at least 1,000-1250… I’m sure they could have had that amount had they mass produced in the year I suggest. I read Guderians book, it really is a shame for the Germans sake more of his sound advice wasn’t followed. That can be said for many of their Generals but especially him.
The stuff these kinds of posts tend to forget is that Stalin would not just have capitulated had they taken Moscow. Sure, the Germans could have done a lot of stuff better and it would have given them more conuest, but in the end, they would have been driven back regardless. This was not a war they were ever going to win.
He was super popular at home because they thought he had won.
Imagine this: they announce the armistice in the west in the June 1940. The next week Goebbels calls for a total war effort announcing around the clock production and ordering women into the factories to increase production to new levels. Don’t you think that would have made the German home front a little less happy? Why are we building hundreds of more tanks?
Russia would have freaked out and it would have been impossible for Stalin to ignore the warning signs like he was able to do so before. So essentially you are telling the world we are arming to attack Russia and giving them a year to prepare. Now if you had ordered a crash naval building program you might have had a different effect but preparing for an invasion of Britain and an invasion of Russia look very different, you can’t hide that.
I used to have a lot of faith in Guderian as well but I found he embellished things to make himself look good. He made a point of saying they doubled the panzer divisions by halving the tanks. Quite true but they didn’t halve their size, they added more infantry to them. All countries were trying to identify the best mix of tanks to infantry at that time and Germany was included. Was he right? Maybe but you have to look elsewhere to find the whole argument.
Also if you like Guderian he mentions in his book, he suggested 6 panzer divisions be moved to Africa. That would have been interesting but it would have taken serious effort away from Barbarossa preparations.
And I never said that. My point is with a realistic preparation for Barbarossa the Germans at the least would have taken Moscow and Leningrad in 1941. Never said anything about them winning although had they done better in 1941 their chances would have been greater. Certainly would never have wanted them to win.
First off why would they announce the change if they were so afraid? It would be a change by the minister of Armaments and other economic heads had they even realized this is the move they had to make. And the Germans would be doing their best to keep things tight-lipped and their real intentions secret which is actually how they prepped for Barbarossa. They excused their aerial recon and moving divisions eastward in real life, why wouldn’t Stalin still buy it? You are again changing the scenario and not accepting what I am proposing. Everything about the start of Barbarossa remains the same except the Germans realize the total war economy they would need for the campaign. Even if this plays out you don’t think the Germans take Moscow? And/or Leningrad in 1941? While adding infantry may be true to the panzer divisions, I also said before they demobilized a significant amount of divisions after France. And the tank strength for Russia for each division, maybe regiment was somewhere around 160-190 tanks, imagine them with at least 250-300 tanks strong each? That I believe is the muscle the Germans could have had if they had mass produced. Fortunately they didn’t realize they needed to do that. And Guderian wanted to seize North Africa first before Russia with a greater force but Hitler was never down for that. In reality as ignorant as they were and not as well prepared as they could have been, the Germans got to within 5-12 kilometers of Moscow. To me with panzer armies and more of everything else they needed such as heavy field artillery, planes, primed move trackers, etc, I believe they would have gone the rest of the way I’m sorry to say. I wonder how much longer the war would have gone on if Leningrad and Moscow had fallen in 1941 or if the Germans could have possibly beaten the Russians in the years to come after 1941. I’m just posing thoughts for a conversation, I would not have wanted this of course.
If it’s a fine topic for discussion, I just don’t agree that ministers can put Germany in a total war footing and not have it apparent to the entire world. Russia was an ally of Germany in 1940 and it’s major trading partner. As such they had plenty of eyes and ears in Germany. Total war footing means around the clock production which Germany didn’t have the manpower for. Goebbels called for increased women in the workplace and then massive amounts of slave labor was imported. The means for the slave labor had not been set up in 1940. So labor had to come from women or from partial demobilization. They in fact did some of the latter.
I’m not arguing that Germany could not have fielded a stronger army and a stronger air force. I’m just saying you can’t assume that everything else stays the same. Every action has consequences. I think in truth Germany was very lucky that Russia was not better prepared as everyone, I mean everyone had warned Stalin. It boggles the mind that after 1940, Russia was caught so unready. I’m my opinion it makes US performance at Pearl Harbor look pretty good.
I also feel that Germany could have better prepared it’s forces like you say. I do not believe they could have radically increased the size of them however because logistics would be a limiting factor. So they sent the best three million they had. Germany also had a leadership problem they could not account for. No amount of German generals ever convinced Hitler of what to do. He wanted to seize the economy of Russia largely to keep his people fed and supplied. Most Generals wanted the knockout blow of seizing Moscow and winning the war. I don’t think either was totally wrong or totally right but that disagreement caused massive indecision on troop movements.
I’m no expert on alt history my take on it is just a little different than yours.
Do I think they take Leningrad? No. The reason for this is they stated it was not that important and Hitler wanted it razed to the ground anyway. Do they take Moscow? They certainly reach it probably by the end of August (assuming Hitler doesn’t turn the tanks south again or even earlier). Given 1 month before the rains, yes I think they take 75% of it at least. Then it depends on how badly the Russians want to keep it. Either way it will be a bloodbath. If the Russians hold onto part of Moscow until the rains hit, the. German can’t secure the city until the winter hits. They probably need to push past Moscow to secure the city. Once the frost hits, they had about a month to do this. After that their equipment is too worn out to continue and The Russian counter offensive doesn’t happen because the troops are chewed up in the defense of Moscow. So with luck come the spring thaw, the Germans have Moscow and more in the center. They probably still can take Kiev but with the lack of army group center panzers most of the Kiev pocket escapes to fight again.
German casualties probably about higher…less in armor and aircraft but more infantry do to taking a city of some 5 million people. Russian casualties very much higher in the center but 1/2 million less in the south. Also throw in probably 1 to one and 1/2 million moscow civilians dead due to many causes. The biggest will be starvation as Germany won’t supply food as they will be hard pressed just to keep their armies going through winter.
I think then in 1942 they could drive north to the Finnish Border isolate Leningrad totally and promoting even higher casualties in the civilian ranks. There is no immediate target in the center that I See the question is again, what happens in the south? Does Russia counter attack in the center? Who knows as they suffered huge casualties trying in 1942. Does this entice Japan into action? Would we even notice.
All this discussion is interesting but going, like Dan says, very much into alternative history. Like into alternative history, all the way through, turning left, then climbing in a window and going back in again…
The thing to remember about Hitler is he was a man in a hurry. He had a great fear that he had syphilus (some say that’s how he wound up with Morell, it was one of his specialties). He thought he had a very limited amount of time left to live. He clearly was deteriorating from his great-days (the mid 1930’s, in my opinion), and even he could see it. The reason he kept Morell around was it turned out he could brew up all manner of doctor-feelgood remedies (which generally involved meth-amphetimine one way or another) that made him feel like the old days, and gave him the europhira of being the smartest guy in the room, who could do anything.
In addition to being in a hurry, he was convinced that only he could carry out his plans, and so engineered a government and a military in which he was irreplaceable. So if he had a bad day, everybody had a bad day. And as time went on, he didn’t have a lot of good ones.
But that’s the key to Hitler. He was in a hurry to conquer everything, and kill everyone he wanted to kill. And it had to be done… now.
He didn’t have to charge around Europe attacking everyone; he could have knocked out France, and stopped. Just wait and build up, wear down the Brits with u-boats without having to expend big piles of Luftwaffe. He could have taken out Greece and the Balkans, and stopped. Just wait into the late 1940s. But he didn’t think he’d last that long.
Ahh if only Hitler has the patience of Sun Tzu then he would have won. But then like you said he was in a hurry. A man not in a hurry probably doesn’t start the war in 1939.
So many alternatives it can make your head spin.