Post by Rich Rostrom Post by Alex Milman Post by SolomonW
True but it got diverted to Stalingrad. For Hitler
it was Stalingrad or the oil.
Little was "diverted" to Stalingrad: the main
priority was Caucasus oil and the whole Army Group A
had been advancing in that direction accompanied by
15,000 oil industry workers.
This posting at AlternateHistory.com goes into much
detail about diversions from Army Group A's drive
into the Caucasus.
Thanks, Rich. Very interesting link.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Short version, AG A commander List diverted a large
force from the drive to the SE to an attempt to
penetrate the Caucasus Mountains, capture Tuapse on
the Black Sea, and clean out the Kuban.
An assumption that an offensive could be successfully conducted
with the right flank hanging in the air with a reasonably strong
enemy behind it is plain silly.
Not to mention that Kuban region was one of the BIG grain suppliers
and its capture fits the narrative of the Soviets dying from starvation
(part of the general pontification).
Post by Rich Rostrom
time and fuel, as did a later attempt to capture Sochi.
And Hitler was furious when he learned about the German flag being raised on
Elbrus: he (probably with a good reason) thought that the whole thing was a
fit of an alpinism under the cover of a token event.
Well, one way or another, most (if not all) oil production of the Grozny
area had been halted for at least 6 months by the retreating Russians.
As for <whoever> running of gas due to the relatively limited diversions,
I wonder how these units managed to retreat only few months later if they
did not have gas? I did not hear about them leaving their hardware behind
so where the gas came from? Isn't it at least possible that they were
leaving some reserves? AFAIK, the plan of extricating themselves from the
North Caucasus had been developed before things became really hot allowing
to implement an orderly retreat as soon as Hitler was convinced to give an
agreement to it.
Blocking oil supply by Volga is a good point but there was no need to capture
Astrakhan (or even a railroad passing through Grozny) to do this because it
was pretty much (or completely) stopped during the Battle for Stalingrad.
Even traffic across the river was accompanied by the major casualties.
Not to mention that the traffic on Volga would stop during the winter even
without the Germans.
The relevant question (seemingly skipped) is: was railroad Baku-Astrakhan the
only way to carry the Baku oil?
Somehow I doubt it: there was a sizeable fleet of the tankers on the Caspian
Sea even before the Revolution and probably the sea route was still functional
which means that the whole railroad thing was not critical. As far as the Soviet
communications during WWII are involved, it is necessary to remember that
they were widely using GULAG prisoners to build the new railroads. One of the
most important had been built on the North within few months to provide an
alternative way of carrying the Lend lease goods from Archangelsk after
Leningrad was surrounded. The same goes for the ad hoc railroads elsewhere
(IIRC, Rokossovsky mentioned their construction prior to Stalingrad
counteroffensive). Baku oil could be carried across the Caspian and then
railroad could be built from the terminal (I suspect that there was already
a railroad coming from Astrakhan).
Then comes pure geography. The argument that they should not go here or
there is not very convincing: they DID have to capture a territory, not
just drive happily to the (destroyed) oil fields of Grozny. And, speaking
of the territory and fighting in the region, experience of 2 Chechen Wars
demonstrated at least some of the related problems and any assumption that
it could be just an easy tank drive seems to be in the area of a wishful thinking.
Post by Rich Rostrom
There is also an extensive discussion of the Romania
forces at Stalingrad. Short version: they were
understrength, undersupplied, underequipped, overstretched,
outnumbered and outgunned, but still put up considerable
This is not something new and the Soviets planned the Stalingrad
counter-offensive by taking into an account the Romanian weaknesses: shortage
of the tanks and anti-tank artillery. The Germans did put some tanks of their
own into the Romanian sector but this did not solve the problem.
Most of other pontifications are along the lines of "the Soviets should be
dead and defeated based on the numbers we got". Well, somehow this did not
happen. "Food prices" is an interesting thing but one has to remember that
an overwhelming volume of the food supplies had been coming through the
state and what they are talking about is a small volume left in the
hands of a private sector (in which prices were, indeed, skyrocketing but
don't discount a barter trade). The main food supplies remained rationed well
after the war. Regarding deaths from starvation, I suspect that a single biggest case was Leningrad during the blockade, not the unoccupied regions.
Manpower is one of the favorite areas of the speculations (I wonder how all
these 'specialists' could get precise information if the data are not quite
reliable and not necessarily available), one thing I can tell for sure (based
on what I was told by my late father): in the early 1943 mobilization was
extended to the people in their 30's and even early 40's (who in his
recollection made much better soldiers than the youths of early 20's). Wide
usage of the women in industrial production and agriculture allowed much
more efficient mobilization than in Germany.
On the oil the pontificator is completely ignoring new oil production in
Bashkiria and elsewhere and I already addressed the railroad as the only
way to get Baku oil.
What is seemingly totally missing from all that pontification and speculation
is an annoying fact that Hitler had a dilemma with no good way out (just
not enough resources). He could not avoid the offensive in South direction
while not having enough resources to do this on a needed scale.
As a personal observation, and I may be wrong, it seems that both author and
other contributors are more than a little bit infatuated with the Nazis and
consider them truly superior to their opponents all the way to a complete
idiocy. For example, "the SS Panzer Corps IOTL inflicting at least 8 to 1 losses on the Soviets in terms of armor at Kursk". How is this relevant to
the end of 1942/early 1943? Not relevant at all. At Kursk the Germans had
Panthers and Tigers while the Soviets still had T-34 with 75mm gun (model
with a more powerful gun was not yet available) which could not penetrate
front armor of the new German tanks on a distance greater than 300 (IIRC)
meters. But the Panthers were not available before mid-1943, which makes an
argument rather irrelevant.