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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 08:12:37 AM

Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 08:12:37 AM
For the prior thread of my Icebreaker Thesis Chronology project, click here (

For the Table of Contents and Introduction thread, click here (

For the grand finale (not counting any epilogues or addendums  ^-^ ), I'm going to switch over to the Nazi side of Barbarossa and the East Front campaign more generally.

Suvorov, quite typically, scatters a lot of information about the Nazi side of the fight, in relation to his thesis, across a bunch of topics. So stitching them back together chronologically, I realized I might as well create a parallel thread/chapter for this information.

This also helps in another way: Suvorov (as I've noted before) has a somewhat schizophrenic attitude toward both Stalin's and Hitler's competency.

In Hitler's case, Suvorov constantly treats Barbarossa as a crazy desperate unwinnable situation which Hitler simply felt forced to try anyway because he realized he was going to lose anyway so he might as well go down swinging. But Suvorov also, with some frequency, claims that Hitler nearly won. And not only once, but several times!

This contradiction can be resolved by accounting for Hitler's actual plan, which Suvorov himself acknowledges on rare occasion: NOT to conquer western Russia with this operation, but rather to instigate the fall of Stalin and his government by destroying most or (ideally) all their armies while still able to catch them out of position. This wasn't something Stalin was expecting either, so he was caught by surprise when Hitler lunged without making any winter preparations whatsoever -- preparations that Stalin and his most recent pre-GRU chief, Golikov, were watching sharply and closely for.

Consequently, there could easily be times when Hitler was in fact about to win Barbarossa, or even the East Front campaign more generally during the war; thus making sense of Suvorov's occasional acknowledgements that Stalin was about to lose numerous times.

I think it's also important and fair to acknowledge, that while the governments and leaders were supervillains of various shades, and the troops often followed suit (with various degrees of willingness, admittedly), both sides also fought heroically to protect their own people from the depredations of each other; and the achievements of each side magnify each other in being able to achieve prodigies against the prodigies of each other.

Suvorov likes to emphasize how weak and broken the blitzkrieg was, compared to the Soviet might arranged against it; and I understand the rhetorical point, that if Hitler's blitz was nevertheless so dangerous against such an outnumbering force of such (relative) quality, then Stalin's blitz would have been proportionately that much worse against not only Hitler's forces and territory, but against all of Europe.

Nevertheless, if Hitler's forces were really that weak (Suvorov never even implies they were incompetent), Stalin would have been able to turn the match around a lot more quickly, and his grossly outnumbering forces would have been able to fight their way out of trouble more successfully.

In effect, we're watching an army of grey wolves, as hard as steel and with hair as wiry as porcupines, maul a much larger army of giant bears to death! -- over and over again! -- until the bears, plowing over the fallen bodies of their forebears (so to speak!) are able to crush those steel wolven monsters far enough to win after all.

And that's freaking epic. On both sides.

So let's get to it.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 09:19:00 AM
The Day of Decision

June 22, 1941: Nazi engineers have successfully rushed to complete the first set of sketches for project Mk4501 -- which will eventually be the Panzer VI Tiger. Hitler doesn't expect to use heavy tanks against the Soviet Union, however.

Hitler started World War II with his industry at a peacetime level of war production; and on this day his industry remains at a peacetime level of war production. As before, he doesn't really have a choice: he lacks the bulk raw materials to shift into a wartime production regimen.

A communique from Hitler, written yesterday, will be given to Mussolini today or soon after: "Russia is trying to destroy the Romanian oil fields... The task for our armies is eliminating this threat as soon as possible."

In a speech to his High Command before the operation, Hitler reminded them (and specifically General Alfred Jodl) of the key theory of their invasion: after suffering the shock of massive initial defeats, Stalin's Soviet Union government would collapse. "We only have to kick in the door, and the whole rotten structure will come tumbling down!" (Albert Speer, "Inside the Third Reich". Exactly whom Hitler said this to and when is disputed, suggesting this was a favorite declaration. Some sources suggest he will still be saying it in a speech from October 3rd, for example.)
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 09:43:17 AM
In the early morning hours, Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa -- an operation intended to knock Stalin and the Soviet Union out of being a threat to Nazi Germany (and Europe more generally) in three weeks. It launches with two weeks of combat operation supplies (in some crucial categories necessary for continuing the blitz), and 3350 tanks, not much more than what Hitler invaded Poland, and then the Low Countries and France with! -- and while these are generally higher quality (by no longer having Panzer I tanks in appreciable amounts, and with higher proportions of PzIII and IV models), they have also been riding hard for months or even a couple of years by now. Moreover, Hitler has divided them up, not into six armored divisions (as in Case White against Poland), not into ten armored divisions (as in Case Yellow and Case Red vs France and the 'Benelux' nations), but into twenty-one divisions concentrated mostly as four 'Panzer Groups'!

To be more specific, 17 of Hitler's 21 'panzer divisions' are at the East Front in the four Panzer Groups -- in other words, 17 of Hitler's East Front's 153 divisions (as per for example the Soviet "History of the Second World War, 1939-1945", vol.3, p.328.)

Military historian Liddel Hart, in his "The Second World War", pp.152-53, and p.158, talks about this strategy: "This doubling in number of armored forces turned out to be sheer illusion, since it was achieved mostly at the expense of reducing the number of tanks in each division... Some of the qualified expert tankers attempted to argue against such a decision, since the result of such measures was to multiply the number of staffs and secondary units in the so-called 'tank divisions'..." He explains why he himself puts quote marks around 'tank divisions', "Tanks could continue an offensive, but they, just like all other track vehicles, made up only a small part of each so-called 'tank division'." Continuing, "Out of 17,000 people in the division, only 2600 were tankers." This by itself makes the tank numbers look larger than they actually were, by a lot! "But Hitler was stubborn. Seeing before him the vast Russian territory, he wanted to feel that he had more divisions, capable of delivering blows deep into the land, and counted on technological advantage over the Russians to serve as sufficient compensation for the 'dilution' of his tank troops... However, cutting the number of tanks in the divisions increased the main disadvantage of the German tank division -- the fact that its units and subdivisions mostly consisted of infantry, and could not move on difficult terrain."

While Suvorov quotes this extensively with approval, I suspect Hart is at least a little wrong about Hitler's motivation in spreading out the tanks among more divisions; after all, Hitler then went ahead and concentrated most of them anyway into only four Panzer Groups. Hitler likely meant to achieve what more-or-less happened: each Group concentrates its armored and mechanized (track infantry) forces in teams from each attached division, in the famous 'kampfgruppe' method, to surge forward in the classic blitzkrieg lunges while the infantry of the divisions (whether 'panzer' or not in designation) work up from behind by foot, horse, and automobile (not counting captured Soviet equipment). After all, as Suvorov's material argues (sometimes against Suvorov's own disdainful judgments), Hitler today on June 22nd isn't trying to conquer those "vast Russian territories"; that's a plan for later in the vague future. He's trying to incite the downfall of Stalin's Soviet government by destroying practically all their ability to make war in a giant shock-and-awe operation.

As German General Guenther Blumentritt reminds his readers (in "The Wehrmacht's Fateful Decisions", p.328), "In 1941, the German army still consisted mostly of plain infantry divisions, which moved on foot, and used animal transport." More specifically, on this morning of June 22nd, Hitler has 750,000 horses on the East Front (per Robert Goralski's "World War II Almanac", 1981, p.164.) Suvorov snorts, "Was it on carts that they planned to carry out the blitzkrieg?"

In a backhanded way, having relatively few armored vehicles, and mechanized or even motorized infantry, works to Hitler's advantage, precisely because he isn't trying to speed-run a conquest of western Russia before winter, but is only trying to knock out most or all of Stalin's military forces while they are gathered up close out of defensive arrangement where Hitler can get at them. For that purpose, while having more fuel and other supplies for his machines would be great, horse-powered horsepower can work just fine for most purposes, and horse formations don't take anything like the same amount of fuel. If the Russian steppes have anything other than mud and depressed futility, after all, it's grass! (As the hordes of steppe cavalry in the middle ages could attest.)

Still, the 3350 tanks on the Eastern Front, divided into their 17 divisions (thus averaging 197 tanks per division, more or less), don't operate (at first) outside the four Panzer Groups: there are no tanks (per Suvorov) anywhere other than those Panzer Groups. The rest of the Nazi army on the East Front didn't have a single tank. It consisted entirely of infantry and 750,000 horses with carts.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 09:51:02 AM
Suvorov's biting humor tends to flail around a bit unfairly here: does each tank have "a convoy of 220 horses behind it"? -- or are all the horses outside the Panzer Groups!?

The true answer is in between, of course. The truth is also that each Panzer Group has a bunch of footbound infantry attached for what came to be called "the long walk"; and so also has those horses. Plenty of Nazi infantry have tanks, because the tanks have been spread out through seventeen divisions of infantry; and then there are also pure infantry divisions in the Panzer Groups. Plus there are armored cars, tank destroyers, and armored personnel carriers for the mechanized troops. Also, some formations wouldn't have benefited from tanks as a rule: Suvorov himself quotes Colonel-General Lotar Rendulic describing his 20th Mountain Army, a large and elite formation (per his memoir "Commanding the Troops", p.60), "With the exception of rear transport units, the army consisted entirely of infantry troops -- 200,000 soldiers and 70,000 horses."

Still again, not all the troops are elite mountain rangers or Panzer-grenadiers (armored infantry for supporting the tanks), not by far. The famous photo from "Der Spiegel" (#6, 1996, p.100-101) cited by Suvorov was certainly typical: the propaganda photo, of laughing Nazi troops walking into Russia (on their "long walk"), shows hundreds of horse carts in the background, while they themselves carry 1898 bolt-action rifles with bayonets. (And two light machine-guns, no submachine guns.)

Aside from 750,000 horses with their carts, however, are 500,000 cars and trucks of all types -- destined for disaster on what Suvorov quips as "the so-called Russian roads": unlike the horses, the motorized infantry (and mechanized infantry up with the panzers) aren't helping offset the fuel situation.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 10:00:52 AM
Hitler topped out at 10,810 howitzers on June 1st -- admittedly not counting other tubes and mortars, but howitzers are the primary way of cracking enemy fortifications by attacking from above.

That isn't what he's invading Russia with today, however: that's all his howitzers everywhere, including the Africa theater (per Shirokorad's "The Genius of the Soviet Artillery", pp.169-70). Stalin, by comparison (same page), has almost all of his 15,464 howitzers sitting on the border ready to go! -- just not on defense to amount to anything. Stalin's howitzers are a lot more motorized and even mechanized than Hitler's, and Stalin's designs are more modern, too. Perhaps most importantly, Hitler doesn't have anything like enough special metals to manufacture as many artillery shells as Stalin. (Hitler has sort-of enough iron ore -- as long as Stalin's navy doesn't scotch that supply! -- but artillery shells need much rarer kinds of metals, too.)

Hitler is invading with exactly no long-range bombers. He has some very decent two-engine medium bombers, to try to fill the long-range role -- which is one reason why Hitler already failed to bomb Britain out of the war. (And meanwhile Britain has already started strategic-bombing Nazi territory, including Berlin itself.) Hitler does intend to harass the shattered successors of Stalin's government with long-range bombers later -- but that's later.

Such limitations hardly take the Nazi high command by surprise. They are some of the greatest military planners and executioners (in more than one sense) in human history! They knew from the start of their planning back in July 1940, and even before then, they could only expect to keep East Front operations going for three weeks. Today aircraft fuel is more-or-less in good supply; car and diesel fuel is predicted to be at a ten percent deficit in July, and by August the army settling down on the Eastern Front victoriously will have to be supplied directly out of Romania. Even then, by September the German petroleum reserves are predicted to be completely exhausted, with aircraft fuel for only 50 percent of aircraft, car fuel for only 25 percent, and diesel fuel at only 50 percent. (per Halder's "War Diary", Vol.2, pp.534, 536, 574, for entries of May 19 and 20th, and June 13th, 1941.) Plundering the Soviet front line is absolutely essential; so is a short campaign. And fuel is not their shortest crucial supply for war on the Eastern Front.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 11:17:20 AM
Are Hitler and his commanders not aware of basic geography? Do they not know how vast even the smaller western portion of Russia is, on this side of the Urals?

Of course they do: they know how fast and how far their blitzkrieg can go, not only in theory, and not only from factory design experiments, but from ongoing combat experience since September 1st, 1939 (if not counting earlier in the Spanish Civil War). That is exactly why they know they cannot expect to keep the offensive going for more than three weeks.

Are they not aware of basic history? Do they not know how legendarily cold General Winter is, how muddy the Great Rasputista gets in the autumn? Have they never heard of Napoleon?

Of course they know. But they can only sustain combat operations for three weeks anyway -- which is why for climate purposes it doesn't matter much when they go in 1941, as long as they don't wait until the second week in September. Which, again, is why they were okay with delaying Barbarossa a few times to get some other things done.

Have they never heard of "manpower"? Do they not understand that Stalin has never had a need to worry about such puny limitations as "manpower"!?

Of course they know; Germany had fought Russia back in World War One, and Hitler himself had written afterward in Mein Kampf Part I (chapter 7, p.164), “The first endless columns of Russian prisoners began to file into Germany. From that moment, the flow did not stop. Endless transports of Russian prisoners moved through roads and railroads all the time. But it was of little use. In the place of each vanquished army, the Russians raised another one. The endless lands of the Tsars seemed to have unending human resources. How much longer could Germany stand against such competition? Will there not be a day, when Germany, regardless of the fact that it just achieved yet another victory, will be left without new troops, while the Russian command will again and again move new armies to the front? What will happen then?!”

Hitler and all Germany also knew Stalin had raised three million troops already back in the late 20s. General Günther Blumentritt will write, in "Fateful Decisions," pp.65-67, "In the course of the 20s and 30s, the Soviets created an enormous army, over three million strong in peacetime, and gradually expanded it. This preceded Germany's 1935 rearmament, hence cannot be deemed a response to Hitler's introduction of universal conscription. For what purpose was so enormous a military machine created? Hitler could reach but one conclusion: Stalin intended to conquer all of Europe... An attack on Russia Hitler began to contemplate in earnest in the summer of 1940. He wanted, first, to hit the Russians before they could come down on Germany... With that fateful decision, Germany lost the war."

Well, no, Germany lost the war when enough German people supported Hitler to ride the Nazi Party to ultimate power in Germany! -- thus declaring a principle of war against the world, to seize all property and means of production under the control of a militant revolutionary socialism.

But Hitler was able to do that by appealing to the very legitimate fear about those millions of Soviet troops and what Stalin (along with Lenin before him) had always publicly said he planned to do with them: take over the world, starting with Europe, starting with Germany ("the home of world revolution") as soon as he could get to it.

Hitler and his generals don't know on June 22nd just how far Stalin has already mobilized his manpower; but they know he enacted universal conscription for the first time in Soviet history back on very day Hitler started invading Poland, September 1st, 1939. So they have a fairly accurate idea what is looming up, over there upon the border; they chose last summer to go to war with Stalin sooner rather than later, back when significantly fewer troops on that border were still way too many!

They also know what configurations those troops are in, and not for defense: because the Nazi blitzkrieg generals obviously know what blitzkrieg preparations look like. So they have a good idea how hard they can kick butt up and down the line, if they manage to launch their blitzkrieg first before the Soviets have properly lined up to go.

And they know that that front line is longer than the entire East Coast of the United States of America from Maine to the tip of Florida. They have maps, they can look at them, and take little calipers out and count to scale. That monstrous line of advance is one big reason why they expect they can only operate for three weeks; and also why they think they will only need three weeks to totally defeat the Soviet Red Army. It's all up front (they think), all outside of defensive preparations, and they correctly expect this because they know how Stalin, the militant Marxist revolutionist par excellence, thinks: he thinks like they do, who are the currently most successful militant Marxist revolutionary socialists! This is how you do it; this is how Lenin did it; this is how Stalin has continuously said he was going to do it; and there he is, getting ready to do it.

So, let's go get it while the getting is still good! We can even pick up their own supplies and use them ourselves! -- for an extra, third week of combat operations. We only have enough, ourselves, for two weeks, across the longest front line in world history, against the largest modern-capable army in world history, ten times our size. Maybe less time than that, depending on how hard Romania's oil fields get hit anyway, despite our pre-emptive attack.

But (despite Suvorov's constant snorfing about Hitler's plans) Hitler isn't being lucky. He knows those supplies MUST BE piled up there at the border; in some cases they are even close enough for his scouts to see! By inference, they must be where he can't see them, too.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 12:31:03 PM
Hitler is bringing more than three thousand tanks, to fight and defeat sixteen armies with each more than three thousand tanks -- some with a lot more than that! This should be kept in mind when evaluating every Nazi success on the East Front, especially during Barbarossa.

True, not all those Soviet tanks are KV-1 or T-34 models; there are less than a thousand of each of those ready to fight, and not all by any means are ready to fight at the front yet.

But Hitler has nothing at all like the KV-1 (no Panzer V or VI models yet, no "Panthers" or "Tigers"), and not even quite two thousand of the Panzer III models, which are currently his only competent anti-tank tank -- most of which still have dreadfully incompetent anti-tank cannons (the “door-knocker” 37mm)! His Panzer IV tanks weren't designed to fight other tanks, and have barely been upgraded yet on June 22nd. About a third of Hitler's tanks are Panzer II models plus some Panzer T-38 models from captured Czech factories (no T-35s anymore); and even a few remaining Panzer I models.

Hitler is bringing no less than 180 tanks below the six ton category, in order to help destroy Stalin's Soviet Union. Stalin is bringing more than FORTY-TWO HUNDRED tanks below the six ton category, equivalent in specs to Hitler's 180 generally speaking. But aside from sheer numbers, there's one big difference: each of these dinky Soviet tanks is capable of swimming above water far enough to cross the English channel -- in stormy weather! And they're almost totally useless on defense.

To be fair, Germany does vastly outnumber the United States in tanks today: less than four hundred units over there in America, all weak, old-fashioned machines, very tall, with light armor and completely obsolete weapons. The most powerful American tank gun today is the 37mm cannon, and mounted only on some of their tanks! The majority of American tanks are armed only with machine guns. By that standard, Hitler's panzers are world-class.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 08, 2020, 12:34:22 PM
Against the power standing in the East, Hitler and his generals can only expect to blitz for three weeks -- on two weeks of supplies! But against that power, they correctly estimate they can gain the victory, thanks to how that power is standing, and walking and riding, at the moment.

Against the power that is rising in the East, there can be no victory -- not for a Nazi regime which has declared the future is a human face being stomped down forever by a jackboot.

But they don't know about that power rising in the East yet. They do know that some huge strategic movement is going on -- the June 13th TASS Statement alone told them that! But they think it's the grand finale for filling out the border armies; which is true but not true enough.

Striking now, as they know, while the armies are still largely entrained will make them easier to destroy; which is also true! -- and also, not true enough.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 09, 2020, 08:05:40 AM
Eastbound and Down

June 25, 1941, Galder's diary, "Reports say the area [of the Valdai Heights] is impassable for us, but our foe keeps using it as a springboard for counterattacks..."

So far those Soviet counterattacks are ineffective, but neither can the Nazis root them out yet.

And those ineffective counterattacks will soon have a much more effective target -- Galder's supply lines!

Still, the Nazis are only three days into their three week war. They still have plenty of time, to do what they say can't be done.  ^-^

(For a bunch of Icebreaker-related details on how much the Nazis are winning over the first three days, go back one thread to The Day of Truth (
Post by: JasonPratt on July 09, 2020, 08:33:57 AM
June 29, 1941, one week into the start of the East Front war, the Nazis are doing reasonably well curbstomping the first wave of 5.5 million Soviet troops.

They're doing so reasonably well, that they very nearly win today!

After a whole week of frantic management activity, Stalin is receiving the most complete description so far of the true extent of failure across all his border Fronts -- a line longer than the eastern coastline of the United States from Maine to the tip of Florida. Stalin explodes so hard he brings Zhukov himself to tears, and declares that they have flushed Lenin's legacy down the toilet. He'll leave for his private fortress-dacha, under a full expectation that his own government will arrest him and have him shot.

All the deputation has to do is shoot Stalin in the head tomorrow, staging a coup thereby and collapsing the Soviet government, and Hitler will have won today.

Still, even in the supercritical conditions of this week, the Soviet system of mobilization is working perfectly, and an additional 5.3 million people have joined the ranks. These will of course mostly fill out the green Third Strategic Echelon; but on the other hand, Hitler has no idea yet that he still has to deal with 5.5 million First and Second Strategic Echelon troops already massing in the Soviet backfield!

Fortunately for Hitler -- in the short run -- around two million of those total troops will be kept by Stalin for training and gearing up in the backfield; and many of the rest are scattered on trains across all Soviet Russia.

But even with that reservation, the Nazis have a lot more work cut out for them than they did one week ago. So, can Hitler win against 10.8 million troops?

No, don’t be silly: mobilization isn't just going to stop today after one week -- unless the government collapses tomorrow. Mobilization will continue past this week into July, August, September... almost 20 percent of the Soviet population is subject to mobilization, and that’s THIRTY-FOUR AND A HALF MILLION TROOPS!

This resource will be fully used, and will even be surpassed.

Hitler and his generals are far from unaware of this potentiality, but they’re still hoping the whole rotten structure will collapse first. They don’t have to beat thirty-four-and-a-half million Soviet troops (they think). They only have to beat Stalin and the Soviet government. Which would be a lot easier if Hitler wasn’t Hitler and the Nazis didn’t insist on being Nazis...
Post by: JasonPratt on July 10, 2020, 10:43:39 AM
June 30, 1941, the deputation of ministers arrives at Stalin's dacha today. Did Hitler win yesterday, one week into Barbarossa...?!

Not yet: the ministers aren't there to have Stalin shot but to insist he take the public responsibility he insisted upon seizing for himself back on May 4th -- back when he thought for sure he was about to take credit for starting the final worldwide war to seize control of all property and means of production (under his management of course, for the good of the people).

Even this shows how close Hitler has come to winning in the first week, however. The situation is so bad for the Soviet government, that they feel like they need to keep the ultra-tyrant murderous Stalin as their promotional figurehead to raise the morale of the people, rather than have him shot to raise the morale of the people!

Colonel-General Halder writes in his War Diary today, "The Fuehrer noted that the objective of gaining control of the Finnish Gulf is paramount, because free navigation in the Baltic Sea and direct delivery of ore from Lulea becomes possible immediately after the liquidation of the Russian fleet. Taking over Russian ports from the mainland will require three to four weeks. Only then can the enemy's submarines be paralyzed. Four weeks of fighting means 2 million tons of iron ore."

The Nazis are eight days into their three week war (on two weeks of supplies), and projections already require four weeks to secure naval supply lines on the Northern Front. The door has been kicked in, but the whole rotten structure might not collapse within the projected schedule.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 10, 2020, 10:51:16 AM
July 17, 1941, Chief of General Staff of German Ground Forces, Colonel-General Franz Halder reports, "Air force superiority is on the side of the enemy. The number of our units [that are] active on the front has been drastically reduced."

Twenty-five days into their twenty-one day war, Nazi Germany has lost not only air supremacy but even only air superiority in at least one front under Halder's oversight. The Germans calculated that rather precisely! -- the blitz cannot be sustained without air supremacy (much less without air superiority); but the Soviet Union's government didn't collapse, and Stalin turned out to have a lot more reserves than the Nazis expected.

Still, the Nazis are only a few days over the line of their three week war. Even if they don't regain air superiority (much moreso supremacy) soon, perhaps something can be worked out.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 10, 2020, 10:55:02 AM
July 25, 1941, Nazi High Command authorizes 17th and 20th Tank Divisions, assigned to 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups respectively, to be sent back home to Germany for a major overhaul.

Four weeks and three days into their three week war, with two weeks of supplies, two key armored divisions in two of their only four Panzer Groups are so badly mauled that it's more practical to send them all the way back to Germany, than to replenish and restore them near the front.

From Galder's diary today, "We have to forego far-ranging tank force raids. Must put them to tactical use. Seize territory piece by piece. Tiring job -- but the only way to destroy enemy troops." This means Galder's Panzer Group has to abandon blitzkrieg.

Hitler only had around 3600 tanks to start with, far too close to zero tanks for blitzing any longer than two weeks, maybe three if supplies are captured, along a continent-wide line. They've been running a week beyond their red line, and now are falling apart, partly because no tanks can be spared to keep on blitzing instead of finishing off and forcing Soviet armies in pockets to surrender.

On the same day in Galder's diary, he writes about a shortage of artillery shells. "For maneuvers," he complains, "you need fuel; for sitzkrieg, ammunition!" They don't have tanks enough to blitz; they don't have shells enough to sitz!
Post by: JasonPratt on July 10, 2020, 10:58:48 AM
July 30, 1941, Galder's diary, "Central sector of the front must switch to defense. On the Lake Ilmyen-Kholm-Toropyets line, leave only minor rear-guard units! Tank forces to be pulled from the front for repair and replenishment." He means tank division losses are so heavy from the all the fighting that the relatively weak and worn-out Nazi tanks have been doing, that the Wehrmacht's strongest spearheads, 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups, have to be pulled from action, and the Nazis are going on operational defense for the very first time in World War II!

Guderian in his diary (p.254) describes the end of July, "Around Yelnya heavy fighting continued, claiming prodigious amounts of ammunition. Thrown into battle here was our last reserve, our tank group command post guard company." A little more than five weeks into their three week war on two weeks of supplies, the Nazis are starting to run out of reserves. Scouting ahead with a divisional headquarters unit might be the very essence of blitzkrieg, as I joked to Barthheart during our match of DECISIVE CAMPAIGNS: BLITKRIEG; but committing the command post guard company of a whole Panzer Group to try to win a fight, can only be ultimate desperation.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 10, 2020, 11:03:37 AM
August 4, 1941, Galder's diary, "The current fuel situation bars us from using motorized units for a southbound offensive. To replenish and rest up our tank units will take fourteen days."

Top commanders meet today with Hitler at Army Group Center Headquarters in Borisov. From captured documents of the meeting: "Colonel-General Guderian's report on 2nd Tank Group front situation: officer, NCO, soldier, and equipment losses; needs replacements; if new engines supplied, can restore tanks to 70-percent combat capability for far-ranging operations; if only spare parts, then only for limited action. Colonel-General Hoth's report on 3rd Tank Group front situation: stresses further operations confined to limited goals unless new engines supplied."

The Nazis have gotten not quite 420 miles, before their tank engines have failed so hard that they cannot be repaired but need replacing. Did they have none in reserve? Of course they did; those have already been used up, six weeks into a three week war. Fighting ten times your number in tanks will do that!

Four hundred and twenty miles advance, to capture Smolensk (after the first major defensive Soviet battle), in six weeks, may not sound like much; but against, over, and around so many hostile troops with modern tanks and guns and cannons, across a line stretching thousands of miles, on no good roads but usually more like goat paths? Suvorov radically dismisses the achievement, but looked at in context it can only be one of the greatest military gains in all human history!

Near Smolensk itself, 310,000 Soviet troops have been surrounded and slain or otherwise neutralized! That doesn’t happen by accident, nor could that be a mere drive-by shooting (so to speak).

Guderian in "A Soldier Remembers", p.256, will recall, "After some hesitation Hitler promised the entire Eastern Front 300 tank engines -- an amount I found absolutely unsatisfactory. As for getting new tanks, we were turned down outright." Woo-hoo, new engines for ten percent of our worn out Panzer II and Czech tanks! Plus a few Panzer III and IV engines, hopefully. These motors don't exist yet, of course; the reserves have been used already, which is why Hitler says he has none to send. They have to be built, and then successfully transported up and out to where the broken down tanks are at, and then replaced successfully by someone who knows what they're doing.

The Nazis are admittedly better prepared than the Soviets for this; the Soviets had so many tanks, and could replace whole tanks so quickly, they simply regarded them as expendable. But then they weren't expecting their own supply lines and forward-base factories to be overrun, nor to fight with their autobahn tanks and creeping mobile siege engines, on Soviet goat tracks.

August 4, 1941, Adolf Hitler in one of his table talks, after his panzers have rolled over a local tank factory: "If I had known that the Russians really possessed such a number of tanks... I think I would not have started this war."

August 5, 1941, Galder's diary, "The troops are exhausted. The Führer has declared (something to which we brought him around, through back-channels), that developments are now leading, as they did during the last world war, to stabilization of the fronts." That means no more progress for the blitzing anywhere.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 13, 2020, 06:07:02 AM
Thisaway or thataway

August 7, 1941, diary of Colonel-General Galder: "The question of what we have to take -- Moscow, or the Ukraine, or Moscow AND the Ukraine -- has to be answered 'Moscow as well as the Ukraine'. That is what we must do, else we shall not manage to smash our foe before autumn sets in."

They have to do both, now, to win the war, because the whole rotten structure needs that much more kicking to crumble.

But they can't do both now, before autumn sets in. It's already too late to outrun the mud and the snow, and they won't even be able to start the Group South offensive for another three weeks! And then after that, preparations to fight have to be made.

Hitler and the Nazi High Command will be impaled on the horns of this dilemma, choosing which way to die. The Nazis have hung on for six and a half weeks into their three week war.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 13, 2020, 06:13:47 AM
August 11, 1941, Galder's diary, "Supreme Command starved for resources... Have used up our last ounce of strength... The troops are exhausted. What we are now undertaking is the last and questionable attempt to avert a transition to a war of attrition. The command has only very limited resources... We have thrown our last forces into battle."

Yesterday he wrote, "The exhausted German infantry will be unable to oppose with decisive attack measures the enemy's efforts... At the current moment, our troops are heavily exhausted and experience heavy losses."

Seven weeks into their three week war, the Nazis are still in Byelorussia, and have yet to cross the Dnepr in the Ukraine with their last ounce of strength.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 13, 2020, 06:18:27 AM
August 17, 1941: fuel for tanks and planes (and trucks etc.) is running out.

Galder's diary, "The seriousness of our fuel situation is common knowledge... Only the most urgent needs can be met. Conducting any new operations calling for more fuel is impossible."

Eight weeks into their three week war, even after all the supplies they captured near the border, the only new operation they have enough fuel for, is to strike at Kiev to capture some fuel; so that they can strike at the Crimea to capture some fuel; so that maybe they can strike past Stalingrad and into the Caucasus, to capture some fuel.

Fortunately, most of their equipment on the East Front has always been carried by manpacks and horses! -- a fact Suvorov (along with most other historians) mocks, but which happens to be serving them very well right now.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 13, 2020, 06:30:23 AM
August 22, 1941: Hitler (finally) switched goals yesterday from Central Group's Moscow, to the Southern Group.

Halder in his diary today writes, "The Fuehrer's note is full of contradictions... The OKH's position [Oberkommand Heer] became insufferable due to the Fuehrer's meddling and attacks. No one else but himself can bear the responsibility for the contradictory orders... In the afternoon, our arguments and discussions were interrupted by a telephone conversation with Field Marshal von Bock, who once again stressed that his troops will be unable to defend themselves for long in the positions they took when they counted that an offensive on Moscow was coming."

The strain may be driving Hitler crazy (or crazier), but Hitler has no more choice -- the whole rotten Soviet Government didn't collapse as estimated and as hoped. So as estimated now, the Nazis only have enough fuel to try to capture more fuel.

Soviet forces in the Kiev sector will be swept up and encircled, netting 665,000 Soviet troops (including officers of every rank), 884 tanks, 3178 cannons, and hundreds of thousands of tons of ammunition, fuel, spare parts, and provisions.

Tactically the operation will be a stunning success. Strategically, the forward push to Moscow must be delayed for most of September -- the final month that the Nazis can fight their three week summer war before October mud seriously sets in, with General Winter coming up hard afterward. Later in "A Soldier Remembers", p.305, Guderian will write, "There is no doubting the battle for Kiev was a major tactical triumph. The issue of whether this tactical success was also of major strategic significance, by contrast, remains in doubt."

But this was no spate of mad indecision by Hitler. Completely aside from no longer having fuel enough for any other operation, Army Group Center was dragging horse-drawn carriages across an utterly unsecured landscape, flanks exposed, with no cover from the rear, no reserves, and with all supplies dependent upon those horses and the heavily damaged Minsk-Smolensk-Viazma-Moscow railway -- itself highly vulnerable to partisan strikes.

Soviet Northwestern Front forces loom on the left flank of Army Group Center, nearly half a million strong, with hundreds of tanks, thousands of heavy guns, and no way for German tanks to reach them on the Valdai Heights. Those Soviets have been counterattacking since late June -- ineffectively for military purposes, but still endangering that fragile supply line. To the south, the one-line railway of the Kiev, Konotop, and Briansk sectors, as well as Army Group South's own horse-drawn wagon trains, face the threat of the Soviet Southwestern and Briansk forces -- over one million troops, plus a thousand tanks, and five thousand cannons. Central Group has an easier road ahead, but would be a mousetrap; Group South won't have as much problem with their own left flank, and will capture their own right flank. Hitler takes Kiev and the Ukraine, so he can hang on longer into his three week war.

From Galder's diary today, "Our most important pre-winter mission is not taking Moscow, but capturing the Crimea as well as industrial and coal-mining areas on the Donyets River, along with cutting off Russian oil supply routes from the Caucasus. In the North, that mission is surrounding Leningrad and supporting the Finnish forces... Capturing the Crimean Peninsula is critical to securing our oil supplies from Romania."

If only Hitler could have motorized his divisions and his logistic lines more thoroughly! But he did, as thoroughly as he could, given his lack of oil and rubber (whether from trees or petrol-based). He had to spread out what motorization he could, and concentrate what mechanized tracks he could (thus the four Panzer Gruppen), along a line stretching from Leningrad to the Crimea.

The Soviet government didn't collapse in July, thanks to the reinforcement of the Second Strategic Echelon (as badly caught as they were themselves). So now Hitler has to capture the Crimea to help his strung-out continental-wide front line do anything, or he loses the war.

Also, if he doesn't take Leningrad, he loses the war.

Also, if he doesn't take the Donyets Basin, he loses the war.

Relatedly, if he doesn't take the Caucasus, he loses the war; so if he doesn't take Stalingrad and Rostov he loses he war.

And if he doesn't take Moscow, he loses the war.

But if the Soviet government doesn't collapse upon him taking Moscow, Hitler will lose the war: Kaza, Kuibyshev, Saratov, and Astrakhan lie beyond, and the Urals beyond that, and, and, and, and...!

-- and there is one week left in August, with Kiev and the Crimea as their only possible operational goal.

The Nazis have hung on almost nine weeks into their three week war.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 15, 2020, 06:22:15 AM
September 5, 1941, from Halder's diary entry today, "Our units surrendered to the enemy at the bend of the front line near Elnya."

The Nazi Army Group Center can't keep the Soviet 24th Army from pushing them out of the staging ground they need for an attack on Moscow. Hitler will still get to attack Moscow this year, but this delay arguably keeps his forces from ever getting any closer than sight of the Kremlin's domes.

Rokossovsky, in a JMH article, #7, 1991, p.9, recalls, "Upon a realistic evaluation of the situation, and a consideration of the coming winter, the enemy was only left with one choice -- immediate retreat covering great distance." Suvorov wonders in puzzlement why the Nazis didn't retreat.

Almost eleven weeks into their three week war, the Nazis decline that choice and stay the course, keeping up the pressure to crack the Soviet government.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 15, 2020, 06:27:12 AM
September 13, 1941, Halder writes in his diary, "At the current moment, we cannot forecast the number of troops that can be freed from the Eastern Front upon arrival of winter, and the number of troops that will be needed for conducting operations in the following year."

Suvorov (mostly) correctly observes this means the blitz is over, and a war of attrition has started -- not only before the snow but before the mud has really started! Suvorov calls the war of attrition lethal, which is true, but that doesn't explain a curious detail in Halder's entry: he's planning to bring troops home upon the arrival of winter and send them back the following year!

Why?! Because the Nazis still have a real chance at driving the Soviet government out of Moscow (even if they don't capture Moscow, though they're still going to try), thus maybe fulfilling the goal of causing Stalin's tyranny to implode on itself -- twelve weeks into their three week war.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 16, 2020, 07:47:09 AM
October 1941: Colonel-General Guderian (who had been present long ago when the predecessor T-28 models were starting to roll off the Soviet assembly line), will remember (from his "A Soldier's Memoirs", 1957, pp.231, 361), "A large number of T-34 tanks were used in battle [near Mtsensk, northeast of Orel], causing significant losses among our tanks. Previously existing hardware superiority of our tank forces was now lost and shifted to the opponent. Therefore, a prospect for rapid and continuous success disappeared." In fact, the T-28 units he has been rolling over and around were also largely superior to his tanks; many of them were just unfitted for combat on Russian territory, and caught progressively out of position as the Nazi blitz rolled forward. "Our 50mm and 37mm anti-tank guns were completely useless against the T-34." Another nail in the blitzkrieg's coffin: the T-34s are arriving in organized and supported numbers in his sector -- instead of being caught in their own blitzkrieg orientation and strung out on trains with few good ways to offload and with their fuel, ammo, and crews, scattered in transit from hell to breakfast.

Lieutenant-General Westphal agrees (in "The Wehrmacht's Fateful Decisions", 1974, p.61), "The arrival of Soviet weapons that surpassed the German ones in quality, was a very unpleasant surprise. One such weapon was the T-34 tank, against which the German anti-tank weapons were powerless." Infantry General Blumentritt (ibid, pp.101-2), "In 1941, the T-34 was the most powerful of all existing tanks... in the vicinity of Verei, the T-34 without any hesitation penetrated the positions of the 7th Infantry Division, reached the artillery positions, and literally squashed the guns. One can imagine what kind of impact it had on the morale of the infantry. The so-called 'tank phobia' started."

The three western Soviet tank production facilities will be lost (Kharkov) or shut off from resources (Leningrad and Stalingrad), but the Soviet Union will still produce more T-34 tanks from September 1940 up through September 5, 1945, than all other tanks of Germany and Britain, and Japan for good measure, combined from September 3, 1939 through 1945: a grand total of 54,853, in the T-34 model alone (including variants), that Germany will need to face somehow. Achtung, Panzer! -- Russian bias, plz nerf!

It doesn't help that the Nazis also have to defeat 711 KV tanks. Fortunately, many of these are practically inoperable for being caught out of position; but trying to destroy even the KV-2 (which wasn't designed designed to fight tanks) once they get going is nightmarish.

Army General K.N. Galitsky, in his memoir "The Years of Hard Trials", 1973, p.79, will describe a battle between one KV and three PzIII, Nazi Germany's sole anti-tank tank during this period: the KV fires two shots, each destroying a PzIII; the third decides to leave but its engine stalls while trying to drive across a ditch, whereupon the lumbering KV catches up and "smashed it with its weight, crushed it like a nut!" In another case, Galitsky recalls how a damaged Soviet KV (probably meaning a KV-2 based on photos from Suvorov elsewhere) was found surrounded by ten destroyed German tanks. The KV was hit by forty-three shells, out of which only three went through the armor.

Colonel-General A.I. Rodimtsev will remember (in "Motherland, These are Your Sons,", 1982, p.291), "During the course of [the first] eleven months of war, we did not know a single instance in which a German gun pierced the armor of this tank. It had happened that a KV tank had ninety to one hundred dents from enemy shells, but still continued to go to battle." German sources of the time indicate that these and other Soviet generals are not exaggerating for sake of propaganda (or not much anyway). British military historian R. Goralski will describe a fight during this period (printed in the "World War II Almanac, 1931-1945", 1981, p.164), where one KV fighting numerous German tanks and anti-tank guns, takes seventy direct hits, none of which get through the armor. American historian Steven Zaloga (regarded by Suvorov as the best foreign expert on Soviet tanks) provides similar examples, such as one KV destroying eight Nazi tanks while tanking thirty direct dents from close range fire (Zaloga and Grandsen, "Soviet Heavy Tanks", 1981, pp.12-13).

The Nazis are sixteen weeks into their three week blitzkrieg war. During October the Nazis will use 561,000 75mm shells -- but Hitler has no way to put his industrial base on a true wartime production schedule, yet. Only 75,000 of those shells are produced in the same month (per Major-General Muller-Hillebrand's "German Ground Forces, 1933-1945", Vol.3, p.50-51).
Post by: JasonPratt on July 17, 2020, 11:38:27 AM
Starting around sixty-eight more weeks from now, Hitler will be able to produce and ship just under 6000 Panther tanks (plus just under 940 self-propelled guns based on the Panther chassis) to compete against Stalin's nearly FIFTY-NINE THOUSAND T-34s (and nearly 5100 SPG tank destroyers based on the T-34). Heinz Guderian, who will love the Panther with all his heart, will strive, successfully, to convince Hitler not to halt all other tank production in favor of the Panther and Tiger models: there would be too few of these expensive and complex machines. Explaining his rationale for opposing Hitler on this, Guderian will write (very sardonically) in "Panzer Leader", p.283, "Such a path inevitably led [i.e. would have inevitably led, if implemented] to the defeat of Germany in the near future. The Russians would have won the war without help from the West, and occupied all of Europe. No force on earth could have stopped them. Europe's problems would have been simplified, and we all would have learned what 'real democracy' means!"

Later, the American tank expert Steven Zaloga will consider the production of any Panthers at all to be a mistake! "The decision to enlist among weapons such a large, heavy, and complex tank as the Panther, in the category of medium tanks, was one of the factors that limited the German tank production to a level much lower than the Soviet." (from Zaloga and Grandsen's "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two", 1984, p.175.) Well, that and Stalin had been gearing up mega-industrialization for at least fifteen years, in a nation with practically limitless material resources, to produce insane numbers of light and medium tanks -- plus heavy tanks for that matter!

The Panther will really be a heavy tank, to be better compared with the successor to the KV-1, the IS-2, adopted in the same year as the Panther, and which weighed the same. Like the Panther, it will be used for defensive battles, as well as for elite heavy-punch breakthrough strikes. The difference, aside from the IS-2 having much more powerful armor and surpassing the Panther in firepower, is that Stalin could produce more of this equally complex and expensive tank.

The qualitative difference in firepower deserves some clarification. As Suvorov notes from Chalmaev's ZhZL seris of "Malyshev", 1978, p.299, the 122mm gun on the IS-2 only had approximately the same effectiveness against armor as the Panther's 75mm gun, due to the higher speed produced by the Panther's smaller shell diameter and longer barrel-length proportionate to its caliber, 70L! This also translated into the Panther being able to carry 79 to 81 rounds (depending on the mix of shell types) compared to only 28 on the IS-2. (The IS-2 also had less internal volume for storage than the Panther.) Superior German optics meant the Panther could hit as hard as the IS-2, more precisely, about 2-2/3 times as often before needing to restock!

So why claim that the 122mm gun of the IS-2 had superior firepower to the Panther? Because the muzzle energy of the IS-2 was one and a half times higher than the King Tiger; two and a half times higher than the Tiger I; and almost three times higher than any Panther. In October 1943, tests on a newly released and captured Panther at Kubinka demonstrated that an IS-2 with its special anti-armor shell was able to penetrate the frontal armor of this early-model Panther at 1500 meters -- and then had so much remaining energy that the shell tore through the transmission, the armor wall of the weapon section, the engine, and then blasted off the back armor wall of the body along its seams! -- and threw that back several meters!

"In rare instances," Steven Zaloga will write (in Zaloga and Grandsen, "Soviet Tanks and Combat vehicles of World War Two", p.175), "a shell from the IS-2 tank did not pierce the armor of German tanks; but this did not change anything: the energy of the shell was so great that it tore the turret off any German tank." Its anti-personnel shells were even more effective, though not against tanks of course. The IS-2 wasn't really designed to fight Tigers and Panthers so much as to be a proper successor to the KV-2 combined with the KV-1, as a turreted artillery piece for sieging defenses. Instead, the SU-100 tank destroyer will be assigned the main burden of destroying the German heavies during the second half of the East Front.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 20, 2020, 06:28:11 AM
November 24, 1941: Colonel-General Galder writes in his diary, "Lieutenant-Colonel Kalden [Comms Officer for 2nd Tank Army HQ] delivered situation and troop status report... Army Command feels further offensive operations are impossible."

Another entry from the same day, "Colonel-General Fromm outlined overall military-economic situation. Downtrend! His view: need truce."

The Nazis have hung on for five months and two days into their three week war.

During November, Goebbel's "Reich Ministry for People's Enlightenment and Propaganda" has been steadily filling newspaper and magazine pages with hundreds, eventually thousands, of photographs and articles, chronicling mud, mud, mud, impassable mud, unimaginable lack of roads, the famous "goat paths" that pass for roads in Russia, endless fields, plains, snow, and hurricane-strength wind knocking soldiers off their feet. (In one case such a photo was helped by the propellers of a three-engined J-52 cargo plane adding wind and drama.) If it wasn't for autumn and winter, they would have won the war!

Memoirs of German generals and military staff will add to this impression. Marxist historians and propagandists somewhat surprisingly join the chorus of Nazi voices, declaring that the Soviet Union was completely unprepared for war, and all credit for stopping the Nazi blitz should go to the endless Russian plains, the mud of the Rasputista, and General Winter! -- thus of course proving how much less the peace-loving Soviet Union could have invaded Europe.

Still, all this propaganda from both socialist governments was based on much real truth. For example, from the May 20th, 1990 issue of "Novoe Russkoe Slovo" aka "New Russian World", (page uncited), "Artillery, motorcycles, trucks, and even tanks got stuck in the impenetrable mud; airplane wheels got stuck in the ground on air bases. The supply of ammunition, fuel, and produce to the front was drastically reduced. Early winter suddenly replaced an unusually rainy autumn. When the ground froze in November, many cannon and vehicles were left right there on the spot, where they had gotten stuck in the mud several weeks earlier."

Suvorov is highly sarcastic about this, but the fact remains (as he himself acknowledges in other places, including when quoting Soviet memoirs) that the Nazis did in fact crush the Red Army several times over the course of the war; even several times by this November in 1941! The Nazis have come close to taking Moscow (within sight of the spires of the Kremlin), and while the Soviet government could move to other bases, the social strain of this loss still threatens to accomplish the overall mission: crack the Soviet government, nullifying organized resistance -- and more importantly, nullifying organized invasion of the vulnerable Nazi oil supply.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 20, 2020, 06:34:18 AM
November 29, 1941: Nazi generals, having worked absolute (if evil) miracles of warfare in largely dealing with the Second Strategic Echelon, and even in brushing and kicking aside the true mere reservists of the Third Strategic Echelon, are sure Stalin has reached the end of his rope.

But the Nazis have also been suffering the mud of the Rasputista for a couple of months, and Germany's arms and ammunition minister Todt counsels Hitler to end the war against the Soviet Union.

As Reinhardt quotes him from "Moscow: the Tide Turning", p.184, Todt estimated that "militarily and economically, Germany had already lost the war." This is despite the Nazis having captured practically all of Stalin's aluminum reserves, and 85 percent of his ammunition's raw materials and factories!

But Stalin has started reconstituting his production capabilities, this time behind the Volga and in the Urals, where they make sense if he is (finally) planning to fight on defense.

The Nazis have hung on twenty-three weeks into their three week war.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 20, 2020, 06:48:06 AM
December 5, 1941: a few days before Hitler declares war on the United States (forced by diplomatic reasons after the Japanese surprise-attack Pearl Harbor on the 7th), the Soviet counteroffensive outside Moscow starts, stiffened by the ten divisions trained in the Far East by General Kalinin since back when he was pulled off his Far East Second Echelon Army, soon after the start of Barbarossa. Richard Sorge had proof Japan would not try to hit Stalin in the back, but rather was gearing up for a day that would live in infamy (partly thanks to Sorge himself and his manipulations), two days from now.

Even the Soviet heavy tanks, the KV-1 and the (relatively) obsolescent T-35, exert less ground pressure than the Nazi medium and light tanks (the Nazis have no heavies in production yet), so they can move in the snow better, and even moreso the Soviet BT models and the T-34. Von Mellentin, thinking back on this later in his "Panzer Battles", p.429, will write, "The Battle for Moscow was the tipping-point of the war. From then on, victory was already beyond our reach."

The Nazi tank crews (and future historians) blame the snow and the mud, which is partially very true, yet the heavy iconic KV-1 can advance through mud and snow, and lighter Soviet tanks moreso.

The Nazis have hung on for almost twenty-four weeks into a three week war, which they expected to fight and win during the resort season.

It should be noted that afterward for decades, Soviets arguing that the Nazis were ready for war while the Soviet Union was not, will simply ignore the heavy T-35s (the KV-1 predecessor) in their statistics, on the ground that they were "obsolete" and thus not being used, or else were so worthless as to be of no effect. But here in December of 1941, the T-35 still surpasses the weapon platforms of all other nations in the world, including Germany, in the main characteristics of weapons, armor, and engine power; and despite its size and weight it produces less ground pressure than tanks weighing two and three times less. If it's so obsolete as to be removed from the statistics entirely, then every Nazi tank in existence at this time should be removed from statistics entirely, too!

Hitler's army has bogged down in conditions which, although bad, are much better than what the Red Army had to beat to crack the Mannerheim Line in early 1940. No arctic level frost in the ground or the trees; no swamps; the snow is deep but not as deep; no rocky rivers, no steep shores; and Soviet defenses around Moscow, thrown up ad hoc, simply don't compare to the infamous Finnish Line.

During this month (per Major-General Muller-Hillebrand's "German Ground Forces, 1933-1945", Vol.3, p.50-51), the Nazis will use 494,000 75mm shells. They will receive only 18,000 from Axis controlled factories. Hitler has still been unable to shift Germany, and all his captured territories, to a wartime production schedule! He'll be able to gradually start doing so next month, in January 1942. Stalin, of course, has been building his industrial base since the early 20s, and started mobilizing his industries on a wartime production schedule in the first quarter of 1939.

Hitler has been able to take advantage of Stalin's effort, by capturing the production from that industrial mobilization. But he hasn't been able to bring the rotten house down after kicking in the door.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 22, 2020, 06:41:11 AM
April 5, 1942: the truly Godawful central Russian winter has solidly ended by now, and the Nazis have held onto their front line gains (more or less) despite being in no way prepared for winter. So, does Hitler have any plans for the Nazi East Front to survive another winter?

Well... sort of? According to his Table Talk for today (Piker’s edition, p.173), Hitler insists that “In the central zone, we must immediately plant all the marshlands and swamps with cane, so that with the coming of the next winter we can stand the horrible Russian frost.”

Suvorov mocks this, and I wish I knew the context for what Hitler is talking about here. The obvious point, however, is that this is what you do AFTER the war is over! Hitler expects to have beaten Stalin and ended organized resistance against his invasion, long before the next winter -- long enough that there’s time to plant cane and for it to mature and be harvested. (Whatever good that might do...?)

So, why does Hitler think on April 5th that he’s about to finish off Stalin’s government in the next few months? Well...!

Nine months and more into their three week war the basic mission for the Nazi side remains the same: destroy enough of the Soviet Army to trigger a revolutionary uprising against Soviet despotism, and capture enough Soviet supplies to keep going long enough to get this done. The Nazis just can't resist being despotic themselves, which remains a key problem with their plan! But upgraded Panzer IVs in anti-tank kit are arriving! -- so they have that in their favor.

The Southern Front seems the obvious place to try for both goals at once. And the Nazi commanders are one hundred percent correct! -- the forces here are Third Strategic Echelon reservists, numerous but inexperienced.

Veterancy pays off. The 39th Army of Lieutenant-General I.I. Maslennikov is surrounded and perishes near Rzhev -- the gates to the Caucasus oil are opened!

Sure, Stalingrad still sits like a sore on the overland supply route, but Stalingrad's troops aren't in any position to stop the Nazis from taking one of the Soviet Union's key oil sources for their own use. The 33rd Army of Lieutenant-General M.G. Efremov perishes after being pocketed near Vyazma; the 2nd Shock Army of Lieutenant-General A.A. Vlassov is cut off encircled, and forced to surrender (with Vlassov) or die. (Note its designation: armies designed overtly for offense are now openly called "shock armies".) The Crimean Front is broken, during which the Soviet 44th, 47th, and 51st armies are destroyed, along with seven unattached tank and cavalry corps, and a substantial number of reserve divisions, brigades, and regiments. Thousands of tanks, weapons, and ample strategic resources are lost (whether destroyed, or captured for Nazi management), and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and officers are killed or (perhaps worse) taken prisoner. (See: Nazis.)

No opposition remains. This is the end: loss of the Caucasus oil means defeat for Stalin; even the loss of Stalingrad and its oil corridor would mean the same thing, just more slowly. All the Nazis have to do, in that case, is reach the Volga, set up strongholds, and sink all incoming petroleum barges -- but there isn't any need for that, because  capturing the oil sources is now a foregone conclusion.

The Soviet armies are simply running away now. Stalin issues the infamous order #227: the "blocking squads" had been relaxed previously out of sheer necessity, to keep from inflicting more Soviet casualties, but now in desperation they're back in action, firing on their own troops to try to stop the routs; arresting commanders to send them to penal battalions to regain their honor in death.

But the Soviet rout cannot be stopped by monstrous orders. And regular reserves have already been used up during the winter offensive, saving Moscow indeed from Nazis in sight of the Kremlin, but unable to relieve the siege of Leningrad or to prevent defeat in Kharkov and the Crimea.

At last, then: Hitler's victory!  <:-) Can there be such things as miracles for Godless commies?  :2funny: Who will save Stalin and Mother Russia now?!

......wait. Two more corps are lining up between the 4th Panzer Army and the Caucasus oil. Where did these come from?! There shouldn't be anything else! Why is the boss music starting up...!?

Motherland, these are your sons!! -- two fresh and fully manned Guards Rifle Corps, the 10th and 11th, are here! -- riding to the rescue, appearing when all hope has been finally lost (again), ripping victory from the teeth of the Nazi wolves!

How can this be?! Could two mere Rifle Corps stop the advance of a Panzer Army??

YES THEY CAN!!  \m/ These are no Third Echelon rookies. These are elite formations, who have been training hard for years, and they are ready to set up proper (even though hasty) defenses. They punch down the Nazi 4th Panzer Army, saving the Caucasus oil, saving Stalin's government by the way, and saving the Motherland from its final disaster!

The Nazis' winning drive has been tackled at the end zone, and a line of Russian bears is taking the field to keep them out: one of the greatest last-ditch rescues in all the world's history.  :notworthy:

Exhausted Soviet troops are able to catch their breath, rallied by the example of these heroes. Routs turn into organized retreats; retreats turn into regroups; regroups turn into new front lines; and a counteroffensive grows.

Who are these true Russian heroes?! The Red Army had nine prior Guards Rifle Corps, created beginning in September 1941 as a part of Stalin's overall shift from internationalist Communist expansion and assimilation to nationalist Russian patriotism; the title "Guards" itself calls back to the elite Russian defenders of the Tsarist era prior to 1917. But those had long since been drawn into battle, exhausted, and depleted. The surviving units couldn't be withdrawn from where they were fighting. So... who are these?!
Post by: JasonPratt on July 23, 2020, 06:17:01 AM
May 18, 1942, Adolf Hitler, "Had we not succeeded in halting Russian troops during their entrance into Romania and forcing them to be content with obtaining only Bessarabia, they would have taken the Romanian oil fields, and no later than that same spring they would have crushed us, for we would have lost all sources of fuel." This is a little odd, and Suvorov doesn't provide the context. (I'm not entirely sure this even comes from the Table Talks.)

Hitler provided no help at all to Romania in the summer of 1940 when Stalin encroached into Bessarabia -- he couldn't have done so, because his forces were spread out still dealing with securing French territory! Romania had to cede Bessarabia or else face the conclusion of the Winter War: the Red Army cannot be stopped by impossible circumstances in conditions much worse than summer in Romania.

Later, in 1941, Stalin had started invading through Bessarabia into Romania as Hitler was launching Barbarossa, and indeed got far enough to wither 50% of the oil production for a while! But that was after "that same spring" of the year.

Possibly there is a mis-translation? -- in any event, had Stalin solidly invaded first and gotten to Romania, Hitler could expect to be hopelessly crushed by the following spring. In fact during the summer of 1940, Hitler and his generals had concluded there was no way to save the oil fields from Stalin except by launching their own pre-emptive attack into the teeth of Stalin's own preparations out of defensive alignment.

May 29, 1942, Hitler watches the famous Soviet film "German Defeat Near Moscow". In his table talk today (Piker's edition, pp.331-2), he speaks about what he saw: "This winter we experienced especially harsh trials, because our soldiers' clothing [and] the level of their motorization and supply did not in any way correspond to the conditions of that winter, when the temperature dropped 50 degrees below freezing... Then the first German prisoners come, who form hordes without coats, gloves, without winter clothing. They dance from the cold, their hands thrust deep into their pockets, which they take out from time to time to rub their ears and noses! [...] Finally, the frozen German tanks, trucks, and cannon stretch in an endless file; all are abandoned, because the General Staff of land forces did not prepare in time sufficient amounts of frost-resistant fuel and winter clothing."

So what is being done to prepare for winter 1942? Not much (aside from the aforementioned cane planting project), per Suvorov.

This is presented by Suvorov as a criminally desperate short-sightedness; but of course if Hitler still expects and plans to crack Stalin's government and start coups against him by destroying Stalin's military power, then there is no more need to plan ahead this year for winter than last year. Besides, the East Front has a lot more pressing military shortages than that to deal with right now...
Post by: JasonPratt on July 24, 2020, 06:13:06 AM
June 6, 1942, 50 weeks into their two week war (on three weeks of supplies), the Nazi Oberkommand Wehrmacht evaluates their situation (from Muller-Hillebrand's "German Ground Forces, 1933-1945", Vol.3, p.67), "The supply of fuel and oil materials in the current year will be one of the weaknesses of our military potential. The shortage of oil materials of all sorts is so great that freedom of operations will be threatened in all three branches of the armed forces, and will have a negative effect on military industry as well... A small improvement can be anticipated toward the end of the year[!!], when new factories for the production of synthetic fuel will be launched, but this will not bring a drastic improvement in the supply of Germany."

June 22, 1942, on the one year anniversary of the launch of Barbarossa: Hitler at his table talk for the day declares, "[T]he more we find out what goes on in Russia, the more we rejoice that we delivered the decisive blow in time. The Red Army's weaponry is the best proof that they succeeded in reaching extremely high achievements." The Nazis are fifty-two weeks into the three week war, and despite their many setbacks they can see their elusive victory still within reach -- Hitler even still regards the blow as being already decisive!

The house just hasn’t crumbled yet.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 24, 2020, 06:40:40 AM
July 1942: the Nazis are fifty-five weeks into their three week war (on two weeks of supplies). Sure, those unexpected bears have punched down the wolves of Operation Edelweiss, but the Nazi wolves themselves regrouped and are steadily, doggedly wearing them down; and not only in the Caucuses but elsewhere. At this very moment, in fact, the Soviet 31st Guards Rifle Division is trapped in "slaughterhouses", and Stalingrad is about to fall; and if that goes, then Stalin's main western supply line will also go, and that will be the end.

At last then! -- a much messier victory than originally hoped, even at the start of the year, but total despair must surely envelop and crush the Russian troops, too exhausted even to flee anymore...

...wait... -- the avenging music is starting up!?

Over the horizon of the steppes, a fresh, new division is riding to the city's relief! It is the new, high-caliber Soviet 32nd Guards Rifle Division!

Argh! -- but no matter. It cannot win, no mere division could, no matter how elite.

But it buys time: hold on, more are on the way! The Soviet 33rd Guards Division arrives; then the 34th! the 35th! the 36th!!

Both Hitler and Stalin are throwing fresh troops into the smoking ruins of Stalingrad, in and around it: the pivotal struggle of the pivotal war of our time!

August 18, 1942: have enough avengers assembled yet? No, the Nazis eat them alive as they arrive!

These new "Guards" may be elite in training, and in equipment; but they lack experience, and can't keep enough supply lines open. The Nazis have been stopped beyond Rzhev, but that doesn't matter: if they shut down the oil at Stalingrad, they themselves won't get that oil but neither will Stalin, and that will be the end for his regime, which will win the war for Hitler. All the Nazis have to do is finish grinding down and grinding up these final several divisions as they arrive in pieces, and then... No!! The boss music is starting up again!

What is that over there?! How can a monster be coming over the horizon now!? A hulking humanoid beast leaping out from the depths of Russian forests, stronger than any two or three bears!

Behold, Nazi scum! The 1st Guards ARMY!!  <:-) :bd: -- commanded by none other than Lieutenant-General F.I. Golikov! Yes, that very same Golikov, former chief of the (now newly and permanently renamed) GRU, who bet his very life that Hitler would not invade before the Politburo accomplished whatever they had been planning to do by activating the General HQ and Fronts Headquarters for sixteen armies and another 77 divisions on the way, ten hours before Hitler invaded!

Is this news a joke?! This has to be propaganda: there have been guards regiments before, guards brigades, Guards Divisions, even Guards Corps, but... No, Comrade, Golikov is bringing another five elite Guards Rifle Divisions under his organization, all at once! A small army, true, but too large to be a Corps. Welcome the heroes of the 37th, the 38th, the 39th, the 40th, and the 41st Guards Rifle Divisions! Just like brand new money, crisp bills in a pack, freshly minted in sequence, they roll up and roll out, fully staffed and with the best men!

The Nazis cannot believe this; don't want to believe it; cannot understand it! Every time they are about to win, Stalin summons new elite formations out of the Russian soil itself, like a wizard!

Fine. Fine! The Nazis will just have to keep winning and winning and winning until they finally, finally... {sigh} win.

Back to work. They can rest from winning when they are dead.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 01:17:03 PM
The legendary Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky (formerly of the gulag, and in the fight for the western border since before Hitler even invaded) gets promoted to Lieutenant-General in charge of the overall operation on the Don. Soviet doctrine (correctly, in Suvorov’s estimation) emphasizes that artillery must be secretly gathered to be unleashed by surprise upon narrow strips of territory by sudden, intense strikes.

To finally and decisively break the Nazis’ own defensive line at Stalingrad, Rokossovsky focuses upon a strip of only twelve kilometers, less than six miles across. Before sending twenty-four rifle regiments, supported by tanks, on the assault, he gathers thirty-six artillery regiments for a preparatory barrage.

What does thirty-six artillery regiments tasked to a 12km frontline mean? Specifically, that means he focuses an average of 135 guns on every linear kilometer, or 1.35 guns for every ten meters.

Every ten steps you might take along the front would only put you under another gun! -- with some overlap!

To be sure, this spread is only an average not accounting for the spread of shells behind the linear front nor for concentrations in primary locations compared to any less important locations which would naturally receive less bombardment. In the primary locations, by the way, he assigns an average of 1.67 guns every ten steps. That's only an average; some areas have more.

It will not be long after this that Soviet staffs start using kilotons as units of measurement for calculating the power of their artillery attacks.

Not coincidentally, beginning to reckon the power of their artillery attacks in the language of the atomic age, also marks the start of Stalin's steady drive to Berlin.

Nevertheless, the Nazis have one more chance to win... perhaps...
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 01:35:33 PM
July 12, 1943: the Nazis are now more than one hundred and five weeks into their three week war (on two weeks of supplies).

The Nazis have been beating themselves into hard stony scars killing Russian bears and yetis -- those hard-core Guards Rifle Divisions and Armies -- that keep showing up to foil Hitler's plans to finally, at last, destroy Stalin's ability to make war, and thus destroy his regime.

At this point, the haunted steel of the wolves' grey Aryan eyes can see that these legendary Guards, coming from apparently nowhere, have bought Stalin enough time to create a truly modern classical Slavic defense line, behind which the red volcano has been safely building up steam. The Nazis have nothing like the same defensive line; if Stalin goes first this summer, Hitler will lose, and keep on losing, maybe to lose it all as the enemy he has made of himself to the world.

What can the Nazis even do?!

One more win. Just one more. A win for the Nazis here, and the faith of Stalin's regime, after making this supreme effort at a restoration, might shatter. Maybe the Nazis can arrange a true truce, and take the time to properly consolidate their gains.

The wolves have panthers now; and tigers, too. These heavy sabretooths cannot blitz, but all together perhaps they can claw their way through both sides of the throat of the Kursk Salient, and trap the bulk of the Soviet forces one last time, seizing again the backfield resources to finish off the remaining Soviet armies in the region in lesser bite-sized chunks.

The Kursk Salient, however, is six continuous lines of Soviet defense, each one hundred kilometers in length, stacked one behind the other to a total depth of 250 to 300 kilometers. Every single square kilometer is saturated with trenches, communication tunnels, covers, firing positions; averaging seven thousand anti-tank and anti-personnel mines per linear kilometer of front line. Soviet anti-tank weapons have been brought up to a mind-blowing level: forty-one cannons per linear kilometer! -- not even counting field artillery, and anti-aircraft artillery, and dug-in tanks acting as bunkers!

It doesn't seem possible...

...but the Nazis have been eating the impossible for breakfast, again and again and again, across one hundred weeks of their three week war!

Two more weeks. Maybe three. That's all they need.

They start on the 5th of July. Slowly tearing out the throat of their enemy -- vorwarts!

...yes? It is working?! Sort of!?

The northern jaw might not yet be accelerating, but it's digging along through flesh and blood and steel. The southern Soviet defense, however --

-- yes! It is starting to crumble! The heavy cats and wolves are chewing toward the main arteries now!

No Nazi strategic offensive has ever once failed to reach disastrous depths. Stopped afterward each time, it's true, and maybe this time, too, eventually, but Stalin has bet too often and too hard: too much of his remaining strength has gathered here, and their defenses, while certainly meeting the epic standards of centuries past, could not after all withstand the focused power of all the Nazi wrath and frustration and... and... yes, finally, they're going to do it!

One last crushing effort, against the power that has arisen in the east -- the Red Hordes are starting to rout -- this at last, at very last is the end, nothing can save them n---!

---! no. no! NO NO NO!! The boss music is starting up again! How can Stalin keep doing this?!

The mighty 18th Guards Rifle Corps has arrived! -- fully equipped, staffed with the best men!

'Koroshego dnya, O Comrades of the 13th Army! Would you like some help on the north?'

'Ah, well, as long as you're here, roll up, there is plenty of Nazi despair for all to drink!  O0 :notworthy: But comrades, where did you come from? Where have you been?! Did you pop out of some alternate reality through a wormhole created by Soviet scientific supremacy!? And, come to think of it, perhaps our comrades to the south might be better served by your arrival?!'

'Ah, but we didn't arrive alone, comrade! The 5th Guards Army is not far behind us! And the 5th Guards Tank Army! The 2nd and 5th Guards Corps, with their unbreakable steel divisions, along with the 2nd and 10th Tank Corps, and the 6th Tank Corps, will soon... what's that? Have we ever heard of "manpower limits"? What are those!? Oh, you must be asking in code about the 4th Guards Army! -- they will be here soon from the strategic reserve. Yes, yes, they have the best soldiers and officers, and are fully manned, just like the 5th Army and the Armored 5th Army, naturally. Say, would you like to launch a summer offensive now?'

By this day, July 12th, 1943, the Nazi offensive had broken against the arrival of these elite Guards units.

A Soviet offensive followed.

It didn't entirely succeed -- the grey wolves and panthers of the tall Germanic forests could not be routed in only a few weeks, and once both sides had fought to exhaustion the Soviets had suffered significantly more casualties.

Tactically the Nazis have still, amazingly, won.

But strategically? --

-- the Nazis have reached, at last, the limits of the impossible.

Against the power that rises in the east, there can no longer be a strategic offensive, and thus no more chance of rupturing the Soviet regime.

Two years after Barbarossa, Stalin's reign has been at last secured. Not only over Russia, but over Eastern Europe -- sooner or later.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 01:47:26 PM
The war continues to devour its lives -- day after week after month after season after year.

Whenever a crisis arises again, another miracle occurs! Stalin always somehow has a fresh, new elite Guards division, or Guards corps, or even an entire Guards army (or two, or three) in his strategic reserve.

Germany produces nearly 1500 of the best fighter aircraft in the world at the time, by far: the jet-powered Me-262, surpassing all others in speed, weapons, and armor. But there is not enough kerosene for more than two hundred of them to fly in battles. The others remain on the ground.

January 12, 1945 through February 2, the Vistula-Oder operation. The butcher of blood Tukhachevsky had been unable to continue onward, in his beachhead past the Vistula; his successors will push forward about 300 miles to the Oder during this operation, only 43 miles from the currently undefended Berlin, liberating (and capturing for their own exploitation) Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, and other Polish cities.

During this operation, the Soviet command will use 34,500 artillery pieces (including mortars). In the strip assaulted by the 3rd Guards Army (acting as a “covering” army, to allow others to deploy more safely past their breakthrough), the concentration will reach 4.2 guns per ten meters. During the same operation, the area “covered” by the 5th Shock Army expends an average of 15.2 shells of medium and large caliber on each linear meter of front: twenty-three thousand tons of ammunition per kilometer -- twenty-three tons of explosive and shrapnel, for every single step along the front line.

This is delivered in 25 minutes.

Originally the plan is to bombard for 55 minutes, adding another thirty tons per linear meter! -- but by then the forward scouts can see that any further ammo would be wasted. Penal battalions are force-marched through the breakthrough, just in case; but they meet no opposition.

When the Soviet armies eventually reach Berlin, 42,000 artillery guns and mortars will be used in the final operation against the city. Marshal Ivan Konev will break through a 36 kilometer front line using 8626 artillery guns: 2.39 guns averaged per ten linear meters of front. Marshal Zhukov brings fewer artillery to his 30 kilometer front line, only 7318: 2.44 guns per ten meters. Not the record, though! Back during the East Prussian campaign, the Soviet 381st Rifle Division of the 2nd Shock Army had concentrated 468 guns and mortars on one kilometer of front line: easy math, 4.68 guns every ten linear meters. This does not count rocket salvos from Stalin’s Pipe Organs, the Katyushas, of course!

Who could possibly stand against such overwhelming firepower?!
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 01:51:25 PM
March 3, 1945: the Nazis are one hundred and ninety-two weeks into their three week war -- which they launched with two weeks of some of their mission-critical supplies.

The Red Army has earlier this year captured the last significant source of oil in Hungary. Hitler urgently stops his desperate counter-offensive against American and British troops, the last blitzkrieg, the Battle of the Bulge, and sends his final strategic reserve, the 6th SS Tank Army, to Hungary. There, in the Lake Balaton region, he begins his final offensive.

But there is a ray of hope.

A slim one, perhaps, but here at the start of the campaigning season, Stalin has no fresh troops in view. As Goebbels notes in his diary today, "Their troops are extremely well armed, but they suffer more and more from lack of people. Their attacking infantry consists of eastern factory workers, and Poles taken from our eastern regions."

If the SS 6th Panzer Army can retake the Hungarian oil... well, Hitler is deranged, frantically dreaming of future victories for the Thousand Year Reich, but some of his generals wonder if this will allow them to negotiate a surrender from strength with the more civilized Western forces. Perhaps the generals could even stay in power, under Western oversight. Perhaps Berlin will not be lost to the rival socialist tyranny. Perhaps Stalin cannot pull out one last miracle, no one could reasonably expect --!

-- of course he can.

Stalin draws a trump ace out from his sleeve for the final time in the game, and throws the 9th Guards Army onto the table, consisting of the 37th, 38th, and 39th Guards Rifle Corps, each with three Guards Rifle Divisions.

Perhaps this is a chaff, paper army? Why, no Comrade, the 9th Guards Army is fully manned by elite soldiers and officers, from the top down! -- "extremely well armed", or moreso perhaps than those factory workers from the Soviet Far East.

The Ninth Guards executes the SS Sixth Tank Army with a classic flank and rear attack. Even in this final defeat, the Nazis force the Soviets to pay with 50% casualties.

But Stalin doesn't know what manpower limits even means.

After that... the triumphant march of the Ninth Guards Army: Vienna. Prague. The Elbe River, to meet with the Americans as Soviets once met Nazis in eastern Poland, for comradely good fellowship over a beaten foe.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 02:02:50 PM
Where did Stalin get his never-ending miracles, again and again dashing the celebration of an ultimate (or at least final) Nazi victory?

Private V.A. Kirpichenko, eventually a Lieutenant-General of the KGB, recalls (in an article for "Krasnaya Zvezda", September 25, 2002), "I served in the air assault troops elite. We were trained and then practiced continually, but sent into action only in January 1945, not as airborne assault troops but as ordinary infantry. We broke the German blockade around Balaton [three months later after arriving at the front], and earned Stalin's praise by stopping the last German offensive during the course of the war. To achieve this, we lost half our troops."

Stalin trained around two million parachute-capable assault infantry, maybe more. Some he deployed immediately as the first five airborne assault corps, out at the front line in June of 1941; others he finished raising as the next five airborne assault corps for the first airborne assault army in the world, in August 1941. But those 100 or 150 thousand troops (depending on the count), he had to deploy as mere infantry to put the brakes on the Nazi blitz, most crucially near Smolensk.

The others he kept in reserve, continually training as air assault infantry, although now also with strong defensive training, too, so that they could be multi-purpose. Only a few ever got to be used as airborne troops, briefly during the Moscow counter-offensive, or down in the southern front. The rest were dealt out from under Stalin's sleeve, from his strategic backfield reserve -- not as paratroops, nor as glider assault shock troops, nor as airmobile transport troops, but as rock steady, rock hard guards of the Motherland, boots firmly on the ground: building the core of the elite, heroic, legendary Guards Divisions, Guards Corps, and Guards Armies.

As Yury Nenahkov, for example, explains in his "Airborne Troops in the Second World War", 1998, p.194, this is why, ever since 1943, whenever a Soviet air assault rifle division is formed, they are given the honor of also being designated "Guards Division", in recognition of the feats of their predecessors who were sacrificed in the catastrophic defenses of 1941 and 1942, and as an advance expectation for their future military contributions.

Suvorov's critics like to make fun of the idea of two million paratroops on the western border ready to go on June 21, 1941. But that isn't Suvorov's claim at all; only a few tens of thousands of paratroops were there. More remained in the backfield, but not two million more parachute assault troops. Suvorov never claims that.

He cannot be blamed for calling the first ten airmobile divisions "airborne corps", either, since those were in fact the official container organizations -- apparently intended for expansion after June or August 1941!

But the two million parachute-trained elite troops aren't fictional either. And their contributions should never be dismissed by any patriotic Russian, nor by anyone willing to appreciate the heroism of Russians in finally hacking back the Nazi government.

They did save the Motherland.

And also, along the way, they foiled Hitler's plans, again and again, to crack the Soviet tyranny and to institute his own.

"Future historians will come to the conclusion that, if one considers the military situation, the invasion of Russia was a political mistake and all military efforts were doomed from the start." Colonel-General Hermann Hoth, "Panzer Operations", p.163.

But the Nazis did have a reasonable basic idea for victory (although Suvorov couldn't consistently see it, at least so far as "Chief Culprit").

They just could not defeat the power rising in the east -- not least rising upon the wings, clipped though they were, of the hero Russian Guards.
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 02:10:09 PM
Some After Math

You might be wondering: if Stalin kept playing aces from his airborne assault forces to save the Soviet Union time and time again, and if the Nazi blitz started stalling out -- as the Nazis themselves had expected! -- around three weeks into Operation Barbarossa; then why exactly did the Nazis keep coming back to nearly shatter the Soviet Union again and again, requiring Stalin to grudgingly play his aces, leaving none for any surprise assaults on unsuspecting neighbors?!

Suvorov sort of answers this, but does so in a schizophrenic fashion (being unwilling to acknowledge consistently that Hitler did have multiple opportunities to win). Many factors could be considered for why the Nazis could hold onto their three week war for so long against the power arising in the east; but this might be the decisive delay, at least in Suvorov’s account:

During their side of the war, the Red Army used 427 million artillery shells (including artillery mines), and 17 billion cartridges. To this you can add a proportionate number of hand grenades, land mines, and air bombs. This was despite Stalin losing 85% of his Ammo Narkomat factories and materials.

Some machines were evacuated, but consider the difficulties in moving even one furnace thousands of kilometers on tracks (only railroads could carry it) chocked full of troops and supplies trying to move westward -- or trying to flee eastward! Consider being given the order: in this forest near the border, captain, one thousand tons of ammunition are lying out on the ground. No, don’t think about why they are there, pay attention! -- the fascists are about to overrun it! You are to secure and transport this ammunition from the forest on the border, back to a railway station, load this thousand tons onto a train (maybe onto more than one train, by Soviet standards in 1941), and escort the ammunition on the railway to safety. You will doubtless be under enemy fire until you reach safety. We do not know what the minimum safe distance will be.

As you might expect, most of the thousands of tons of ammunition lying out on the ground on the morning of June 22, 1941, were either captured by the Nazi government, or else detonated by Soviet captains with no other options.

According to Boris V. Sokolov’s “The Cost of Victory” (aka “Great Patriotic: The Unknown About the Known”), 1991, pp.64-66, from mid-1941 to mid-1945, the production of explosives in the USSR came to 600,000 tons. According to R.H. Jones’ “The Roads to Russia: United States Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union”, 1969, in his appendices, the United States supplied 295,600 tons of explosives. According to “Soviet Foreign Policy in the Period of the Great Patriotic War”, 1946, pp.145-47 (an official Moscow publication, no author cited), Great Britain and Canada delivered 22,300 tons of powder. Therefore, Western explosive production for the Soviet Union reached 53 percent of the total volume of Soviet production.

It must be added that the Soviets, having lost the machinery to produce the bombs, shells, and ammunition, needed Western help for replacing that machinery. For example, in June 1942, the western allies delivered to the Soviet Union the most modern equipment for the daily production of 10 million 7.62mm rounds. In other words, 3.5 billion such rounds could be produced per year (if provided with sufficient other materials).

Suvorov’s estimate is that without this truly crucial assistance, the shell and round shortage that struck the Red Army in the fall of 1941 would not have been overcome.

He does not seem to reconcile this, however (as late as “Chief Culprit” anyway), with his repeated insistence that Hitler could never have won against the Soviet Union and only launched a desperate gamble doomed to fail!

You might say rather, that even against the power rising in the east, Hitler could have won, and very nearly did win, not once but several times; but the industrial might of the United States gave Stalin, and his several Echelons, including his reserve of “Guards”, the bullets and other basic supplies they needed to shoot the Nazis with -- and to sustain control, and morale, over their people for victory.

It is however worth wondering what would have happened had Hitler delayed another thirty-six hours, to give Stalin’s activating Fronts and General Headquarters their chance, with one hundred percent of the Ammunition Narkomat factories supplying them...?
Post by: JasonPratt on July 30, 2020, 02:18:51 PM
Thus ends the main series of entries. 208,580 words, more or less, for anyone who has gotten this far.  :buck2: O0

I might (probably) have a short followup in this thread, regarding the Nuremberg Trial and how it connects to Suvorov's Icebreaker Thesis, particularly in regard to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

I might also proceed from here to some thread entries comparing the thesis with some of its opponents and critiques -- though probably I will take a break for a while first!

Still, anyone who has gotten this far should be in a better position to evaluate Suvorov's thesis in comparison with other accounts of Stalin's Grand Strategy intentions and actions, and with complaints and critiques of his thesis.

I learned a lot along the way of sorting out this chronology (possibly including some things that aren't true, or not sufficiently true, which I should be on the watch for!) Hopefully this series has been at least entertaining, and at least a little helpful, along the way, for any readers.