2007-03-13 11:05:14 UTC
think this has been done before.
OTL, the German invasion of the Caucasus was a strange thing. Hitler
was supposed to be going for Baku and all that lovely oil. But the
offensive started late -- well into July 1942, with two months of good
weather gone -- in part because the Germans had an uncharacteristic
case of strategic dithering. And soon thereafter, the German command
got massively distracted by Stalingrad.
Even so, Operation Edelweiss got off to a good start. The Germans
broke through the Russian defenses around Rostov and then found...
nothing; no second line, no strategic reserve. For the next three
weeks they simply flowed like a flood east and southeast, occupying
the northwest quarter of the Caucasus without serious resistance.
Their main problem was logistics. By the end of August Luftwaffe
drops were a major element of supply, and we all know how that worked
out. The Germans had hoped to run sealift through the Russian port
town of Novorossiysk, but a pesky band of Russian sailors occupied a
corner of the town overlooking the port and obstinately refused to be
dislodged. They held out there for the next six months (!), seriously
handicapping German logistics (and making Novorossiysk the smallest
Soviet town to win a "Hero City" designation after the war).
Meanwhile the terrain was getting worse, and Soviet resistance was
toughening. In September the Germans came up against dug-in Soviet
troops in the Terek River valley, hit them hard with a Waffen SS
division, and bounced. In October, Hitler ordered a major diversion
of troops from the Caucasus north to Stalingrad. The invasion stalled
out. A limited Soviet counteroffensive in January rolled the Germans
back out of most of the Caucasus.
Thus Operation Edelweiss of OTL.
The more I look at this, the more it looks like... well, not exactly a
damn'd close-run thing, but something that could have gone a lot
further if the Germans had avoided some fairly basic mistakes.
So. Let's handwave an *Edelweiss where things go better. The attack
gets started earlier. The Germans stay more focussed. Army Group B
(which took Stalingrad OTL) is more clearly tasked; its job is not to
grab territory but to keep the Soviets far away while Army Group A
rolls up the Caucasus. Resources are reallocated accordingly.
(An expandable map of the Caucasus is here:
Maikop falls at the beginning of August. The resistance in
Novorossiysk is crushed in early September. The Germans take Grozny
two weeks later. A week after that, they push another 50 km further
east to Gudermes -- the key rail junction where the North Caucasus
rail line (coming south and east from Rostov) joins the coastal line
(running north-south along the Caspian from Baku to Astrakhan). The
Caucasus is now cut in two. By the end of October the Germans have
reached the Caspian at Makhachkala.
Meanwhile, in the west, the push south from Novorossiysk stalls for a
month around the port of Sochi. Then the Germans work a couple of
Alpine units through the mountains and the Soviets -- relying on a
single rail line and a bad coastal road -- have to fall back. The
Germans advance to the outskirts of Batumi in Abkhazia.
At this point -- late October 1942 -- the Germans have occupied the
entire northern half of the Caucasus. In the center of the isthmus,
the front lies along the crest of the Caucasus Mountains; winter has
closed the passes, so there is no major military activity in this
region. The main German axes of advance are now along the two coasts.
Both sides are having serious logistical problems. The Germans can
now run supplies into Sochi, but there is still a Soviet fleet on the
Black Sea, so everything must be convoyed. The eastern advance is
much worse off; the North Caucasus Railroad has been severely damaged,
so bullets, fuel, and food arrive by everything from Luftwaffe drop to
camel train. (There's no fuel from Grozny, since the pesky Soviets
trashed the oil fields and refineries before leaving.)
The Soviets, meanwhile, have to run all their supplies across the
Caspian. Fortunately Baku is an immense port; less fortunately,
Turkmenistan and western Kazakhstan, on the other side of the sea, do
not have such well-developed transportation infrastructures. Also,
beginning in November a Luftwaffe squadron based in Grozny starts
making a nuisance of itself, attacking shipping going into Baku. By
the end of the year the Germans have started a few oil wells up and
have jury-rigged a small refinery; it produces only a trickle of fuel,
but that's enough to keep the Luftwaffe's planes in the air.
Meanwhile, stuff is happening in the north. I really am not sure how
things develop, but without Hitler's manic drive to take Stalingrad,
the Germans are surely much better off. Let us say that the front
stays fairly stable at least until January.
So the Germans slog obstinately southward. The world becomes familiar
with some odd names: Izberbash, Derbent, the Qusarcay River --
roadmarks along the road to Baku. By Christmas the Germans have come
to a narrow place on the coast just north of Baku, where the foothills
of Mount Bazar-Dyuzi squeeze the coastal plain to just a few
kilometers wide. On the other side of the Caucasus, Batumi falls on
Christmas Eve after a month of brutal hand-to-hand fighting; the land
opens up beyond it, and by New Year's Day the Wehrmacht has crossed
from Abkhazia into Georgia proper.
Okay. Now what?