Discussion:
Was Stalingrad stand firm a mistake?
(too old to reply)
SolomonW
2019-12-16 14:39:10 UTC
Permalink
The Soviet Fifth Tank and Twenty-first Armies launched Uranus on 19
November. It was reported to Hitler who was on holiday that hundreds of
Soviet tanks had shattered the Rumanian front. This was not unexpected as
the Germans were already concerned about their weakiness there and they had
noted Soviet preparations in the area.

Soon it became that day clear that the situation was dire.

However, the Germans army were not sure then whether they could contain the
Soviet army. They immediately ordered available troops to the area, but
they did not have enough that could be sent in at such short notice. Soon
it became clear that their armies and allies in Stalingrad would quickly be
trapped between the quickly closing Soviet pincers.

Now, what to do?

Jeschonnek, chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff was called in and was
advised that the German army and its allies in Stalingrad would probably be
trapped. However, a German army would soon launch a relief effort, but for
a short time, the German army would be cut off. Now he was asked if for a
short time the German army could be supplied. Jeschonnek who was not given
time to consider the situation and replied that it could be done for a
short time. Maybe he should have asked for time to review the situation,
but in truth then there was no time.

So Hitler initially ordered his troops to stand in Stalingrad.

However, later that day, many in the German army and Luftwaffe voiced their
concerns and stated that the airlift was not going to work, and an
immediate breakout was required. At this stage, German General Paulus might
here have started the breakup on his initiative, but he did not. Note I am
not so sure without Hitler's approval Paulus could do such a breakout.

In a few days, Jeschonnek after doing a review of the situation concluded
that the Luftwaffe could not supply the German army in Stalingrad and he
told Hitler that. Hitler, however, refused to change his mind and ordered
his forces in Stalingrad to stand firm. The die was cast.

Most people think this stand order by Hitler was a mistake, but I am not so
sure of this.

If say Hitler had ordered the army at Stalingrad to withdraw, the German
army there would have lost most of its equipment. Many of his troops would
be lost anyway, many would-be wrecks too sick to do any more fighting.
Probably only a remnant as a fighting force would be available to the
Germans later. Then there is the problem of seven Soviet armies driving
into the German lines in the South and not much to stop them.

By ordering those people at Stalingrad to stand firm, Hitler kept the
Soviet forces contained for months. Because of this, the bulk of the German
army in the area was able to withdraw safely. Soon the front in the South
was stabilised although at a terrible cost of the losses in Stalingrad.

What are your thoughts about this?
a425couple
2019-12-16 16:53:36 UTC
Permalink
On 12/16/2019 6:39 AM, SolomonW wrote:
------
Post by SolomonW
Most people think this stand order by Hitler was a mistake, but I am not so
sure of this.
If say Hitler had ordered the army at Stalingrad to withdraw, the German
army there would have lost most of its equipment. Many of his troops would
be lost anyway, many would-be wrecks too sick to do any more fighting.
Probably only a remnant as a fighting force would be available to the
Germans later. Then there is the problem of seven Soviet armies driving
into the German lines in the South and not much to stop them.
By ordering those people at Stalingrad to stand firm, Hitler kept the
Soviet forces contained for months. Because of this, the bulk of the German
army in the area was able to withdraw safely. Soon the front in the South
was stabilised although at a terrible cost of the losses in Stalingrad.
What are your thoughts about this?
In the very cruel math of mass deaths,
the standing firm was probably best for
Germany's war effort.
(But disastrous for the German troops.
"many died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), malnutrition
and maltreatment in the months following capture at Stalingrad: only
approximately 6,000 of them lived to be repatriated after the war.")
Byker
2019-12-16 23:14:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
In the very cruel math of mass deaths,
the standing firm was probably best for
Germany's war effort.
(But disastrous for the German troops.
"many died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), malnutrition
and maltreatment in the months following capture at Stalingrad: only
approximately 6,000 of them lived to be repatriated after the war.")
Judging by their rations, it's a wonder that they survived long enough to
surrender:


I wonder if concentration camp inmates were better fed...
SolomonW
2019-12-17 10:49:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Byker
Post by a425couple
In the very cruel math of mass deaths,
the standing firm was probably best for
Germany's war effort.
(But disastrous for the German troops.
"many died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), malnutrition
and maltreatment in the months following capture at Stalingrad: only
approximately 6,000 of them lived to be repatriated after the war.")
Judging by their rations, it's a wonder that they survived long enough to
surrender: http://youtu.be/occOOTk6OKY
Nice video
Post by Byker
I wonder if concentration camp inmates were better fed...
Total number of Jews sent to Auschwitz was 1,095,000
Total number killed was 960,000

Survival rate 12%

It was safer to be a Jew in Auschwitz, then a soldier in the sixth army.

Here is an interesting fact, among those that survived who were captured by
the Soviets, was General Paulus, his aides Col. Wilhelm Adam and Lt.-Gen.
Arthur Schmidt. All these survived. I bet most of those that survived were
officers who had more food in the siege and who had propaganda value for
the Russians.
@
2020-01-26 13:18:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
Post by Byker
Post by a425couple
In the very cruel math of mass deaths,
the standing firm was probably best for
Germany's war effort.
(But disastrous for the German troops.
"many died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), malnutrition
and maltreatment in the months following capture at Stalingrad: only
approximately 6,000 of them lived to be repatriated after the war.")
Judging by their rations, it's a wonder that they survived long enough to
surrender: http://youtu.be/occOOTk6OKY
Nice video
Post by Byker
I wonder if concentration camp inmates were better fed...
Total number of Jews sent to Auschwitz was 1,095,000
Total number killed was 960,000
Survival rate 12%
It was safer to be a Jew in Auschwitz, then a soldier in the sixth army.
Here is an interesting fact, among those that survived who were captured by
the Soviets, was General Paulus, his aides Col. Wilhelm Adam and Lt.-Gen.
Arthur Schmidt. All these survived. I bet most of those that survived were
officers who had more food in the siege and who had propaganda value for
the Russians.
some quote 7300 Auschwitz survivors, though not out of the fake 4
million total number.
The Horny Goat
2020-01-26 19:47:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by @
some quote 7300 Auschwitz survivors, though not out of the fake 4
million total number.
Bear in mind that in the closing days of the war thousands were
forcibly marched out of the camps mostly westwards with minimal warm
clothing or food with the inevitable result that many of the marchers
died. (This type of forced march wasn't unique to the Nazis - anybody
who has read Tolstoy's War and Peace will remember the scenes of the
forced march west of Russian prisoners by the French involving Pierre
and Platon Karateyev. While obviously War and Peace is fiction,
Tolstoy didn't conceive the idea of a forced march on his own)

Most accounts DON'T consider those 'victims of the camps' and
obviously were not gassed. In the camps liberated by the western
Allies there were many ex-prisoners whose health had been so
debilitated by their imprisonment that many did not survive their
first six months of liberation. These aren't generally counted amongst
Nazi victims either.

Keith Willshaw
2019-12-16 19:32:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
By ordering those people at Stalingrad to stand firm, Hitler kept the
Soviet forces contained for months. Because of this, the bulk of the German
army in the area was able to withdraw safely. Soon the front in the South
was stabilised although at a terrible cost of the losses in Stalingrad.
What are your thoughts about this?
The basic strategic problem was that if Stalingrad was abandoned the
armies in the Caucasus could be encircled and destroyed. The Caucasian
campaign was ill conceived and the Wehrmacht simply didnt have the
resources to do both. The Soviets were not about to allow the Germans to
capture the Caucasian oil fields intact but even if they had the Germans
have no credible ability to ship Caucasian oil west to be refined.
.

By the time of the Soviet encirclement Operation Edelweiss was already
bogged down in the Caucasian mountains while the Soviets had built a new
railway line from Baku to Orsk allowing them to supply the troops in the
Caucasus. In order to take Stalingrad rather than simply bypass it the
Germans had to strip men from the the Caucasian Army groups which meant
they had not achieved the goals allotted to them. Even if we disregard
the losses dues to the encirclement the losses in Stalingrad were
bleeding the Wehrmacht dry.

By the time of Operation Uranus a disaster was inevitable. Feeding an
army trained a equipped for mobile warfare into an urban street battle
was madness.

The reality is that splitting the German force to take the Caucasus AND
Stalingrad was the cardinal error leaving neither force able to achieve
its objectives. The Caucasian campaign should have been abandoned in
October when it was clear its objectives could not achieved and it along
with 6th army withdrawn to a more defensible line.

A similar disaster was looming in Tunisia where PanzerArmee Afrika at
the the end of another precarious supply chain was being squeezed
between the British and American armies. This would also cost the
Germans grievously although unlike the armies in Russia most of the
German POW's would survive the war.

It could be argued that Adolf Hitler was one of the greatest military
assets the Allies had, he could always be relied on to make the wrong
decision.
The Horny Goat
2019-12-16 20:45:23 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 16 Dec 2019 19:32:18 +0000, Keith Willshaw
Post by Keith Willshaw
The basic strategic problem was that if Stalingrad was abandoned the
armies in the Caucasus could be encircled and destroyed. The Caucasian
campaign was ill conceived and the Wehrmacht simply didnt have the
resources to do both. The Soviets were not about to allow the Germans to
capture the Caucasian oil fields intact but even if they had the Germans
have no credible ability to ship Caucasian oil west to be refined.
That's not true as was demonstrated after the Stalingrad encirclement
when Panzer Group A (the successor designation for 1st Panzer Army)
was withdrawn from the Caucasus in Jan/Feb 1943 with virtually no
casualties.
Post by Keith Willshaw
By the time of the Soviet encirclement Operation Edelweiss was already
bogged down in the Caucasian mountains while the Soviets had built a new
railway line from Baku to Orsk allowing them to supply the troops in the
Caucasus. In order to take Stalingrad rather than simply bypass it the
Germans had to strip men from the the Caucasian Army groups which meant
they had not achieved the goals allotted to them. Even if we disregard
the losses dues to the encirclement the losses in Stalingrad were
bleeding the Wehrmacht dry.
That I definitely agree with.
Post by Keith Willshaw
By the time of Operation Uranus a disaster was inevitable. Feeding an
army trained a equipped for mobile warfare into an urban street battle
was madness.
The reality is that splitting the German force to take the Caucasus AND
Stalingrad was the cardinal error leaving neither force able to achieve
its objectives. The Caucasian campaign should have been abandoned in
October when it was clear its objectives could not achieved and it along
with 6th army withdrawn to a more defensible line.
I'm not sure it was necessary to withdraw from Stalingrad but
definitely 1st Panzer Army was over-extended in the Caucasus and if
withdrawn and properly positioned could have destroyed any Soviet
attack on the flanks of 6th Army. (I am highly skeptical such a
redeployment could have been done without the knowledge of the Soviets
so question whether Uranus would have been attempted in these changed
circumstances)
Post by Keith Willshaw
A similar disaster was looming in Tunisia where PanzerArmee Afrika at
the the end of another precarious supply chain was being squeezed
between the British and American armies. This would also cost the
Germans grievously although unlike the armies in Russia most of the
German POW's would survive the war.
The bottom line is that in Tunisia the logistics were far better than
Libya - if Rommel had ever had the troops sent to Tunisia in 1943 at
any time in 1941 or 1942 AND ABLE TO PROPERLY SUPPLY THEM (which is
the kicker) there is no question he could have conquered Egypt.

However that's questionable and anybody who has read about the North
African campaign knows it was entirely about logistics and that's a
problem the Axis forces never solved.
Post by Keith Willshaw
It could be argued that Adolf Hitler was one of the greatest military
assets the Allies had, he could always be relied on to make the wrong
decision.
Given his background there's no reason to think he clearly understood
the importance of logistics - and certainly nothing in the records
suggesting German forces on the WW1 western front (which is where
Hitler served) ever operated anywhere where their logistics were a
serious issue.

(I'm not counting WW1 campaigns like von Lettow-Vorbeck's which very
definitely did involve logistics but which was something Hitler
couldn't have known anything about till after 1918. Certainly anyone
who has read the treaty of Brest-Litovsk would clearly understand the
Germans were thinking of logistics - and that this was why the German
participation in the Soviet intervention stayed out of places like
Georgia)
Jim Wilkins
2019-12-16 22:47:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 16 Dec 2019 19:32:18 +0000, Keith Willshaw
...
I'm not sure it was necessary to withdraw from Stalingrad but
definitely 1st Panzer Army was over-extended in the Caucasus and if
withdrawn and properly positioned could have destroyed any Soviet
attack on the flanks of 6th Army. (I am highly skeptical such a
redeployment could have been done without the knowledge of the
Soviets
so question whether Uranus would have been attempted in these
changed
circumstances)
...
Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe plans reached Moscow very quickly, sometimes
before they arrived at German field units. Only operations developed
entirely at field headquarters could surprise the Soviets.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_spy_ring

If a German staff officer was the leak source he took the secret to
the grave. However;

"In 1981, it was alleged by Anthony Read and David Fisher that Lucy
was, at its heart, a British Secret Service operation intended to get
Ultra information to the Soviets in a convincing way untraceable to
British codebreaking operations against the Germans."
SolomonW
2019-12-17 10:53:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Wilkins
"In 1981, it was alleged by Anthony Read and David Fisher that Lucy
was, at its heart, a British Secret Service operation intended to get
Ultra information to the Soviets in a convincing way untraceable to
British codebreaking operations against the Germans."
If so then the British would have known all the information that Lucy
supplied the Soviets, the British did not.
Jim Wilkins
2019-12-17 13:17:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
Post by Jim Wilkins
"In 1981, it was alleged by Anthony Read and David Fisher that Lucy
was, at its heart, a British Secret Service operation intended to get
Ultra information to the Soviets in a convincing way untraceable to
British codebreaking operations against the Germans."
If so then the British would have known all the information that Lucy
supplied the Soviets, the British did not.
Or didn't admit that they knew, didn't trust it, or were only one of
multiple sources. Espionage is a game that challenges the minds of
chess masters, many of whom were recruited for it.
http://www.chessmaniac.com/code-breakers-spies-and-chess-players/

The Germans played a good game too.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Englandspiel

Secrets discovered by cryptanalysis needed a credible cover story that
they had been discovered by other means to keep the enemy from
changing the code, for example a search plane "happened" to notice and
be noticed by a located U-boot before it was attacked.
Rich Rostrom
2019-12-17 23:05:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Wilkins
Secrets discovered by cryptanalysis needed a credible cover story that
they had been discovered by other means to keep the enemy from
changing the code, for example a search plane "happened" to notice and
be noticed by a located U-boot before it was attacked.
ULTRA intelligence provided target information for the
British aircraft at Malta attacking Axis shipping to
North Africa. However, to protect the source, the air
command would precede each strike with three search
missions - one to the known location of the target
ships, and two to other plausible locations.

(At least one search mission was needed anyway, to ensure
that the target actually was there.)

The extra two missions were to conceal the source from
Allied personnel. If every strike mission found a target
with no preliminary search - then everyone in the units
would figure out that the Allies had advance knowledge.

Some would fall into enemy hands, be interrogated, and
perhaps say foolish things about matters that they hadn't
been briefed and warned on. Others might be transferred
to other areas where Axis intelligence was operating, and
"spill the beans" in conversation with civilians.

One of the great achievements of the war was the work
of the Special Liaison Units established by Wing
Commander Winterbotham to deliver ULTRA intelligence
to operational commanders in the field. Each SLU had
to make sure that the commander they supplied
maintained security and carried out cover activities
as required. Since the commanders far outranked the
SLU men, this required very delicate managing, but it
was done successfully.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Keith Willshaw
2019-12-17 18:04:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
That's not true as was demonstrated after the Stalingrad encirclement
when Panzer Group A (the successor designation for 1st Panzer Army)
was withdrawn from the Caucasus in Jan/Feb 1943 with virtually no
casualties.
Indeed but the Strategic aim behind the entire campaign was to seize the
Caucasian Oil Field not retreat from them. To protect the supply lines
for 1st Panzer Army a blocking force on the Volga was needed but it did
not to need to be fed into the cauldron that was the Battle of Stalingrad.

The German logistical situation was poor in the first place. Fighting a
major offensive battle in unfavourable circumstances just made matters
worse as neither thrust was able to make the decisive advances needed
for success. Worse it left a large gap between the forces and meant the
flanks had to be guarded by poorly equipped Romanian, Hungarian, and
Italian troop which the Red Army was able to quickly overcome.

As you say same problem dogged the Axis forces in North Africa, the
farther they got from the ports in Libya the worse their logisitics got.
The failure to neutralise Malta was a major strategic error but Rommel
was able to convince Hitler that the air forces needed to do so would be
better used by the Afrika Corps. The result was that aircraft and
submarines based in Malta were able to decimate the axis convoys. This
was the last hurrah of the biplane as Fairey Swordfish aircraft were
rather successful in night attacks on Axis Convoys. Just 27 aircraft
were sinking an average of 50,000 tons of axis shipping a month.
Rich Rostrom
2019-12-16 23:40:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith Willshaw
The basic strategic problem was that if Stalingrad
was abandoned the armies in the Caucasus could be
encircled and destroyed.
Two problems with this:

First, trying to hold Stalingrad required a major
relief effort by German forces (Kampfgruppe Hoth),

Second, the Stalingrad pocket was formed on 23
November, but Army Group A in the Caucasus did not
start to withdraw until the beginning of January 1943
- five weeks later. If instead of insisting on trying
to hold Stalingrad, Hitler had ordered the troops
there to break out and retreat, then he could also
have recognized that Army Group A was dangerously
exposed and should retreat immediately. That would
have removed any risk to that force.

Since in fact he did realize that and order the retreat
a month before the end of the Stalingrad pocket, it
seems probable that he would have done so when he ordered
retreat from Stalingrad.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
The Horny Goat
2019-12-17 01:14:23 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 16 Dec 2019 17:40:46 -0600, Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
First, trying to hold Stalingrad required a major
relief effort by German forces (Kampfgruppe Hoth),
Second, the Stalingrad pocket was formed on 23
November, but Army Group A in the Caucasus did not
start to withdraw until the beginning of January 1943
- five weeks later. If instead of insisting on trying
to hold Stalingrad, Hitler had ordered the troops
there to break out and retreat, then he could also
have recognized that Army Group A was dangerously
exposed and should retreat immediately. That would
have removed any risk to that force.
Since in fact he did realize that and order the retreat
a month before the end of the Stalingrad pocket, it
seems probable that he would have done so when he ordered
retreat from Stalingrad.
My reading suggests that most of what few casualties WERE suffered by
Army Group A (or whatever the force was called by then took place
during the withdrawal across the Kerch peninsula in the Crimea in Feb
1942 with MOST of the withdrawal taking place via Rostov during Jan
1943.

Thus my suggestion that if those troops had been available either due
to a stoppages say perhaps half as far as they went in the Caucasus
(or never having attempted to go there in the first place) they could
handily have beaten the troops that in OTL closed at Kalach and
trapped 6th Army.

Probably it would have been a blood bath similar to Kursk 9 months
later but this time with the Germans with all the trump cards.
Obviously NOT losing 6th Army would have made things less of a
stalemate than OTL's 1943 was but even though the Russians were facing
a manpower shortage in late 1944 I still don't see Hitler turning
Moscow and Leningrad into lakes as per his pre 6/22/1941 fantasy.

(More than likely the net effect is that with a stalemate in the east
we would have seen a German surrender after Dresden and Berlin or
wherever Little Boy and Fatman would be used - and no question nukes
WOULD have been used over Germany if Germany was still fighting when
nukes were available. The postwar evidence is quite strong on that
point as the "Germany First" policy would have required first use of
nukes against them if they were still fighting - whether that would
also have brought about immediate Japanese surrender is doubtful as
the Japanese would only have their own diplomats rather than first
hand evidence as they did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
SolomonW
2019-12-18 09:11:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Keith Willshaw
A similar disaster was looming in Tunisia where PanzerArmee Afrika at
the the end of another precarious supply chain was being squeezed
between the British and American armies.
Probably the most critical loss here was the German Junkers Ju 52 transport
fleets, which together with the losses of the German transport fleets at
Stalingrad would have disastrous consequences to their Russian campaign.
The Horny Goat
2019-12-18 15:19:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
Post by Keith Willshaw
A similar disaster was looming in Tunisia where PanzerArmee Afrika at
the the end of another precarious supply chain was being squeezed
between the British and American armies.
Probably the most critical loss here was the German Junkers Ju 52 transport
fleets, which together with the losses of the German transport fleets at
Stalingrad would have disastrous consequences to their Russian campaign.
In which specific battles do you feel this loss was most felt? Tunisia
was mostly Jan-May 1943 if memory serves. (They had previously lost a
lot of Ju 52s taking Crete)
Keith Willshaw
2019-12-18 21:31:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
In which specific battles do you feel this loss was most felt? Tunisia
was mostly Jan-May 1943 if memory serves. (They had previously lost a
lot of Ju 52s taking Crete)
The Ju-52's lost at Crete had for the most part been replaced by 1943.
By the time of the Tunisian Campaign the Germans and Italians had lost
control of the Mediterranea with over 3000 ships being sunk and the only
way of resupplying their forces was by air. Building to a peak of around
150 landings a day in April 1943, not just by JU-52's but also using the
Me 323 Gigant and He-111

The allies launched Operation Flax to stop this and the result was a
slaughter of the Axis air transport fleet. More than 140 were shot down
in just 2 months culminating in the Palm Sunday Massacre where 24 Ju 52s
were shot down, and another 35 turned back to Sicily with many of them
badly damaged.

In the Stalingrad resupply efforts the Luftwaffe lost around 488
aircraft of all types including 266 Ju 52, 165 He 111, 42 Ju 86, 9 Fw
200, 5 He 177 and 1 Ju 290

Often forgotten was the heavy losses of Ju-52's in the invasion of the
Netherlands. The Dutch AA units shot down around 125 and damaged another 47

There was another force in Africa using the Ju-52, the South African Air
Force.

All up around 4850 Ju-52's were manufactured which sounds impressive
until you look at the number of C-47's which rolled off the production
lines (over 15,000)

KeithW
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