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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sickels: George McClellan, Dayton Moore, and the Kansas City Royals


Dayton Moore is trying to avoid being McClellan. He’s got the farm system built up, the army trained and organized. He’s good at that. Now he’s taking the field of battle and deploying those forces. That’s admirable.

Of course, what’s the next part of the story? Is Moore going to turn into an aggressive, brilliant field commander like Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman? Will he be cautious but effective like George Gordon Meade? Mercurial and erratic like Joe Hooker? Or will he be the well-meaning but dangerously inept Ambrose Burnside? The suicidally aggressive John Bell Hood?

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM | 621 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: civil war, history, rays, royals

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   401. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4330973)
I'd also say that since virtually no one joined the coup and the military leadership went along with the surrender that that is rock hard proof that the military leadership by mid 1945 was ready to surrender.


If by mid-1945 you mean August 14th, then I agree. If you mean any time prior to the notification by the emperor that the war had to end, then I disagree.

Ienaga was astonished at the arrogance and duplicity of the war cabinet, who were planning to attack the Soviets if the opportunity arose, only to turn around and ask them for help when Japan was on the brink of total defeat. This is another instance where the Japanese war leadership was clearly not operating within the realm of the possible. The Soviets knew, because enough intelligence had been gathered to inform them, what Japan's true intentions were.

From what I can gather from your posts, you seem to be suggesting the dropping of the bomb was both unnecessary and inhuman. I think, as do many others here, that there is ample evidence to suggest it was necessary and that Truman acted out of necessity more than post-war political considerations. That view, again as others have pointed out, is a revisionist POV that grew during the cold war and during the period where Japan sufficiently regained its confidence.
   402. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4330982)
The only book I read of Keegan's that I felt was well done was the Face of Battle or whatever it was. And let's face it, that book was one of his first, done many years ago and its point of view is very well tailored to focus on simply how it felt to be in the ranks. It works on that level. It is of course, not a complete primer on weapons, or tactics or generalship, but rather simply what it's like to hold a metal pike in your hands on a cold winter day etc.

His other works, where he tries to hit all aspects like political, tactical etc. are a far cry from classics. At least the ones I skimmed. It would be folly to accept anything Keegan says as the last word on generalship. I think you will find that in the long haul he is going to be remember more for a clear writing style and some interesting points of view, but not hardly on scholarship.

Truly Keegan is fluff. Relying on him just detracts from any real argument you could make here.


Completely disagree.

I thought Faces of Battle, The Mask of Command, Six Armies in Normandy, A History of Warfare, The Price of Admiralty, and The Second World War were all excellent books.

He's not a standard academic historian, but who wants to read their stuff? For readable, informative history Keegan is pretty tought to beat.
   403. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4330997)
Not necessarily. The Germans anticipated that two things would happen:

1. Britain under Churchill would refuse to support the Soviet Union actively;
2. Japan would abrogate its treaty with the Soviet Union and jump into the fray.

Had those happened, it's certainly possible that the Germans could have achieved their strategic objectives in the Soviet Union - and neither was a completely unreasonable expectation.

-- MWE


What exactly could the British do for the Russians? Without American involvement the British would have been doing nothing for the Russians and the British weren't going to not allow the Americans to use Britain as a stopover on their way to Russia. Britain's involvement should have played no part in any calculus on whether to attack the Soviet Union or not.

The Japanese part is trickier and was a pretty big gamble on the part of the Germans. The Japanese had already had their noses bloodied by the Russians in the 1930's and had shifted their forces to head south and west instead of north against the Russians well before Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Plus the treaty that formed the Axis explicitly stated that the parties weren't bound to existing conflicts nor were they bound to conflicts started by one of the parties. So Hitler had no real reason to expect the Japanese to declare war on the Soviets nor pull the tiger's tail to help the Nazis. Not only that but Germany kept Japan in the dark about the attack on the Soviet Union and encouraged Japan's attacks on British held territory believing that it would draw away British resources and keep the United States focused on the Pacific. Hardly steps one would take if you want the other side to help you attack a common enemy.

The Japanese wanted and needed a neutral Soviet Union and gained very little by attacking Russia. Hitler had nothing to offer the Japanese to induce them to do so and thus gambling that Japan would attack the Soviets was a rather foolish gamble and doubling down by declaring war on the USA was even more foolish.

Now then had it somehow happened that the Japanese attacked the Russians it is possible that it helps greatly the Germans but it is also possible that the Russian armor steamrolls through the rather weak Japanese army and then turns west and attacks German armed forces.
   404. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4331002)
Not necessarily. The Germans anticipated that two things would happen:

1. Britain under Churchill would refuse to support the Soviet Union actively;
2. Japan would abrogate its treaty with the Soviet Union and jump into the fray.


If that's what they thought, then they were being delusional. Neither of those things was ever going to happen. Japan was very careful not to make any promises. They never even bothered to inform the Germans they intended to attack Pearl Harbor (great allies, huh?). And if they were expecting Churchill to do anything than what he actually did do, then they thought the entire body of statements Churchill made about bringing Russia in on the side of the allies was pure propaganda. That was an absurd assumption.

Of course, Hitler was as delusional a political figure as one could have so it's not that surprising they acted as though things might come to pass.
   405. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM (#4331004)
From what I can gather from your posts, you seem to be suggesting the dropping of the bomb was both unnecessary and inhuman.

I'm not sure where you are getting that from. It appears you are reading what you want to read when it comes to my posts.

My view has been that Japan had known for a long time that they had lost the war, hell, their pre-war strategy contained the fact that they could not win the war, and much of the hang up for ending the war came from the sticking point of the Americans wanting an unconditional surrender even though they really didn't want an unconditional surrender. Furthermore the Japanese were holding out hope that the Russians would stay neutral thus giving the Japanese the tiniest bit of leverage so that they could keep the Emperor around. Thus if American had held off on dropping the bombs so that the Russians could declare war and attack Manchuria and possibly through back channels let the Japanese know what our intentions were for the Emperor we might never have needed to drops the bombs.

There is no real reason why the bombs had to be dropped at the beginning of August. If a declaration of war and the invasion of Manchuria doesn't force the Japanese to surrender you can always drop the bombs then.
   406. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4331006)
What exactly could the British do for the Russians?


I think by that Mike means that the British would bail on the Soviets and cut a separate deal with Hitler so they could hang onto their colonies. Hitler was actually willing to do that and was puzzled when Churchill didn't seem interested. Hitler regarded all British politicians as "little worms" who would throw anybody under the bus if it suited them. I suppose he had reason to think that after what transpired in Munich.
   407. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4331008)
I think by that Mike means that the British would bail on Russian cut a separate deal with Hitler so they could hang onto their colonies. Hitler was actually willing to do that and was puzzled when Churchill didn't seem interested. Hitler regarded the British politicians he dealt with as "little worms" who would throw anybody under the bus if it suited them.

Oh, okay. Well, that part is true. Hitler badly under-estimated what the British were going to do when faced with an aggressive Germany which agains leads to the view that Germany was doomed the moment they decided to be an aggressor of that level of magnitude.

I've said it before but the German armed forces were simply not ready to fight the war they ended up fighting in 1940 and on. German military leaders were constantly telling Hitler that the armed forces weren't ready to get into a real war during the prewar years and that it wouldn't be until I think the mid to late 40's that they would be. The problem is that the German economy would never have been able to handle a war buildup for that long nor were the Russians going to sit around and wait for the Germans to get ready. Stalin was either going to invade the west in 1942 or 1943 regardless of what Hitler's intentions were so Hitler had to walk a very tightrope. Sometimes I think Poland was a misstep and sometimes I think it was a brilliant gamble.
   408. Lassus Posted: December 22, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4331051)
Not enough Battle of Oriskany.
   409. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 22, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4331132)
All this WWII talk and I forgot to mention that I am currently listening to the audio version of Operation Mincemeat. I read The Man Who Wasn't There as a kid and this is a new retelling of that story about a Brit deception operation prior to Operation Husky. Good stuff so far, but it has a narrow focus.
   410. Depressoteric Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4331176)
This entire thread should be dipped in gold and encased in carbonite.
   411. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4331202)
It seems war threads alternate between people bashing them or praising them. I guess it depends no who is suspended or on vacation at the time.
   412. The District Attorney Posted: December 22, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4331233)
This entire thread should be dipped in gold and encased in carbonite.
Surely Grand Moff Tarkin is the worst Grand Moff ever. Overconfidence isn't even the word for it... if you're facing any kind of organized assault against your key military asset, can't you bestir yourself to dispatch more than eight of your 8,000 TIE fighters to deal with it?

Also, the Empire needlessly destroying Mon Calamari cities is somewhat analogous to the Japanese "awakening the sleeping giant" in '41.
   413. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:39 AM (#4331308)
Hyperdrives on a single seat fighter? Why? Hell, why have fighters in the first place?
   414. GregQ Posted: December 23, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4331409)
I just found out I am going to Vicksburg next year- Any recommendations on books about that campaign?
   415. Publius Publicola Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4331588)
Grant's and/or Sherman's memoirs are a good place to start.
   416. Depressoteric Posted: December 23, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4331609)
I just found out I am going to Vicksburg next year- Any recommendations on books about that campaign?
For sheer readability you could do far worse than Shelby Foote's The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign, December 1862-July 1863. It's quite simply an extraction/reorganization of his chapters on Vicksburg from the Civil War Trilogy. You read Foote for the pleasure of his prose, and his account of Vicksburg is among the best in the entire series, IMO. A great place to start before delving into more detailed accounts.
   417. Publius Publicola Posted: December 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4331636)
Vicksburg-1863 Winston Groom
Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi Michael Ballard
Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862-63 Kevin Dougherty
Vicksburg 1863: Grant clears the Mississippi Alan Hankinson
The Siege Of Vicksburg Richard Wheeler
Vicksburg Is the Key: The Struggle for the Mississippi River William Shea

I haven't read any of them but they'll all do. I have read Groom before in another context and he's an excellent writer who will capture the essence of the struggle, if that's any help.

   418. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4335820)
Happy New Year to my favorite recent OT thread!

Mike Emeigh wrote
Well, the fact that the British, despite superior resources, wound up mostly bottled up in New York City for the bulk of the Revolution has to be laid at Washington's feet. That and holding the army together despite a government that was unwilling or unable to provide the level of support needed (both men and supplies).

-- MWE


And snapper replied

In addition, the occupation of Dorchester heights, leading to the recapture of Boston was a masterpiece. He extricated his army from numerous dangerous spots, and led a brilliant campaign at Yorktown, relocating his army across half the country w/o the British in NY stirring.

Mike understates the odds Washington faced. Britain was the most powerful nation in the world, with a highly professional military. Washington had to create an army on the fly, and he did it, and won.


I recently started listening to audiobooks on my commute. Among other things (like the book on Operation Mincemeat,) I've been listening to some Joseph Ellis. He reminded me that Washington almost led the Continental Army to its destruction in late 1776. Fortunately, General Howe was too risk averse to finish them off when he had the chance. Also, Yorktown involved a lot of engineering and the French were better at that than the Americans.

What makes a good general anyways? Off the top of my head, I can think of several qualities generals can or should have:

1. Tactical proficiency
2. Strategic proficiency
3. Ability to train troops
4. Political acumen = When you are that high up the chain of command, you have to work with a lot of different people and getting those who are not your underlings to cooperate is a skill.

I'm just spitballing here, but this may be a good restarting point for this thread.

   419. bobm Posted: January 01, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4335827)
What makes a good general anyways? Off the top of my head, I can think of several qualities generals can or should have:

1. Tactical proficiency
2. Strategic proficiency
3. Ability to train troops
4. Political acumen


Guts/drive/ambition/aggressiveness/audacity? As you note: Fortunately, General Howe was too risk averse to finish them off when he had the chance.
   420. McCoy Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4335982)
Anyone up for another game of diplomacy? In about 5 days there will be no more BFF active games. Seems a shame to let it die.
   421. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4335997)
What makes a good general anyways? Off the top of my head, I can think of several qualities generals can or should have:

1. Tactical proficiency
2. Strategic proficiency
3. Ability to train troops
4. Political acumen = When you are that high up the chain of command, you have to work with a lot of different people and getting those who are not your underlings to cooperate is a skill.

I'm just spitballing here, but this may be a good restarting point for this thread.


It really does depend on the context. Obviously for a revolutionary leader like Washington, the ability to train/inspire troops was critical, but for the British Generals opposing him it was minor. They were handed trained professional troops by their system. I think you can say a few basic things.

1) Tactical/operational proficiency is table stakes. You can't be great, or even good if you're constantly being out-maneuvered/out-fought. You can win, but you're just a butcher, like a Zhukov, or any of the successful Soviet commanders. They never stopped having 3:1 to 5:1 adverse casualty ratios against the Germans, even in '45 when the German Army was a hollow shell.

2) Charismatic leadership is almost always a prerequisite to greatness. The ability to instill/maintain discipline, and still inspire aggression and have men eager to follow you is found in nearly every great commander.

3) Aggression (to bobm's point), nearly to the point of recklessness. Generals who worry about failing never succeed.

   422. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4335998)
Anyone up for another game of diplomacy? In about 5 days there will be no more BFF active games. Seems a shame to let it die.

I'm in.
   423. McCoy Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4335999)
And probably located next to me to as well.
   424. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4336004)
And probably located next to me to as well.

You want to be Russia or Turkey?

You should probably email the cast of characters if you want to start soon.
   425. McCoy Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4336023)
I'll try to get around to it tomorrow. Going on like two hours of sleep in the last two days.
   426. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4336068)
I'll try to get around to it tomorrow. Going on like two hours of sleep in the last two days.

Must have been some New Year's Eve :-)
   427. McCoy Posted: January 01, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4336093)
Nope, it sucked.
   428. Brian White Posted: January 01, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4336316)
Anyone up for another game of diplomacy? In about 5 days there will be no more BFF active games. Seems a shame to let it die.


I'm in as well.
   429. Depressoteric Posted: January 01, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4336491)
Would I sound dumb if I asked what this game was?

BTW, I've gotten into McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom again. Man, it's been SO long since I last read this...I'm enjoying it much more this time around than I did before.
   430. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4336523)
Would I sound dumb if I asked what this game was?

Check it out.

http://www.playdiplomacy.com/

It's an old board game, converted to online.
   431. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:15 PM (#4336532)
Nope, it sucked.

That tends to be true of most NYEs.
   432. Mike Webber Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:35 AM (#4336604)
You might email joe dimino about a diplomacy game if he isn't in your group already
   433. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 02, 2013 at 07:18 AM (#4336676)
It really does depend on the context. Obviously for a revolutionary leader like Washington, the ability to train/inspire troops was critical, but for the British Generals opposing him it was minor. They were handed trained professional troops by their system. I think you can say a few basic things.

1) Tactical/operational proficiency is table stakes. You can't be great, or even good if you're constantly being out-maneuvered/out-fought. You can win, but you're just a butcher, like a Zhukov, or any of the successful Soviet commanders. They never stopped having 3:1 to 5:1 adverse casualty ratios against the Germans, even in '45 when the German Army was a hollow shell.

2) Charismatic leadership is almost always a prerequisite to greatness. The ability to instill/maintain discipline, and still inspire aggression and have men eager to follow you is found in nearly every great commander.

3) Aggression (to bobm's point), nearly to the point of recklessness. Generals who worry about failing never succeed.


Thanks, snapper. I'd add bravery, too, if aggressiveness doesn't cover it.
   434. McCoy Posted: January 02, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4336767)
Created a new game at playdiplomacy.

BTF Diplomacy VI
password: baseball
   435. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4336848)

Thanks, snapper. I'd add bravery, too, if aggressiveness doesn't cover it.


Correct. But, it is very, very rare for someone to rise to field grade rank w/o being physically brave.
   436. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4336849)
Created a new game at playdiplomacy.

BTF Diplomacy VI
password: baseball


Joined.
   437. Ron J2 Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4336949)
#433 There's more to Zhukov than just a willingness to accept casualties. Compare the pre-war performance of the forces in Finland (not under his command) with those who administered a rather firm butt kicking to the Japanese

There were plenty of other Russian leaders who were willing to acept losses and were relatively easily handled.

The best of the Soviet commanders (I'd include Koniev and Rokossovsky) spent them intelligently. Bagration and the counterattack at Stalingrad are excellent examples of hoarding resources, identifying weak points and allocating enough resources to not only break through but exploit the break through.

And yes, all of these guys were made to pay heavily when top German commanders were allowed to fight an intelligent mobile defense. (Model and Von Manstein in particular)
   438. Ron J2 Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4336953)
Talking about the qualities that make for successful generalship, I'd recommend Norman Dixon's "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence" for a good look at why generals fail.
   439. Brian White Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4337633)
Created a new game at playdiplomacy.

BTF Diplomacy VI
password: baseball


I'm in too.
   440. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4337979)
Just two spots left open in the Diplomacy game.
   441. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4338006)
#433 There's more to Zhukov than just a willingness to accept casualties. Compare the pre-war performance of the forces in Finland (not under his command) with those who administered a rather firm butt kicking to the Japanese

There were plenty of other Russian leaders who were willing to acept losses and were relatively easily handled.

The best of the Soviet commanders (I'd include Koniev and Rokossovsky) spent them intelligently. Bagration and the counterattack at Stalingrad are excellent examples of hoarding resources, identifying weak points and allocating enough resources to not only break through but exploit the break through.

And yes, all of these guys were made to pay heavily when top German commanders were allowed to fight an intelligent mobile defense. (Model and Von Manstein in particular)


Well, lot's of the other Soviet commanders were flat out incompetents. That's what happend when you select generals for political loyalty.

Zhukov, Koniev and Rokossovsky were not incompetent, just not very good. Beating the Japanese army in '39 is no great feat. Their army completely lacked modern armor and artillery, and had no mobile combined arms doctrine.

I just can't rate a general very highly when with very good equipment (Russian tanks and planes were always at least equal to the German, and often better), and massive numerical superiority, they always suffered casualty rates of 3 to 5 times those they inflicted.

Even in 1945, when they were drafting a bunch of teenagers and old men, the Germans always gave much better than they got against even the best Soviet commanders.

The Western armies, for all their flaws (especially poor tanks), always inflicted casualties at near parity starting in '42 (maybe 1.3:1 against early on), and moved to an advantage by late in the War.
   442. NattyBoh Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4338017)
Anyone up for another game of diplomacy? In about 5 days there will be no more BFF active games. Seems a shame to let it die.


How many players do you need?
   443. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4338025)
The Western armies, for all their flaws (especially poor tanks), always inflicted casualties at near parity starting in '42 (maybe 1.3:1 against early on), and moved to an advantage by late in the War


That was due to the obvious advantage in air superiority enjoyed by the Allies. Especially after 1943 when the P51's and P47's started coming out in greater numbers for escort duty
   444. WillYoung Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4338029)
Where should one start when first reading Bruce Catton?
   445. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4338046)
How many players do you need?

2 I believe.

That was due to the obvious advantage in air superiority enjoyed by the Allies. Especially after 1943 when the P51's and P47's started coming out in greater numbers for escort duty

From mid-1943, the Soviets had air superiority, tank superiority, artillery superiority, infantry superiority, and still took 3-5 casualties for every one they inflicted.

Their army was simply unskilled. No tactical acumen, no coherent doctrine, no training of initiative allowed for field grade and junior officers. Man for man, they were a terrible, terrible fighting force. This in no way undermines the bravery and sacrifice of the individual soldiers (although many of them were guilty of terrible atrocities too); it's an indictment of the disfunctional and corrupt Soviet system.

If the Allies had the stomach to fight the Soviets in 1945, they would have cut through them like a warm knife through butter. Soviet manpower was essentially exhausted, and they were entirely dependent on the west for trucks, boots and rations. Especially if they mobilized the Germans (not to mention the anti-Soviet Russians, and Ukranians) to fight with them. Give a 1945 US armor or infantry division 50 Panthers and Tigers and it would have been a magnificent fighting formation.
   446. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4338058)
Well, if the men and officers were unskilled and inferior it is kind of hard to size up the Russian generals properly.
   447. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4338062)
Well, if the men and officers were unskilled and inferior it is kind of hard to size up the Russian generals properly.

Fair. But, I put the blame for that heavily on the Generals.
   448. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4338065)
Fair. But, I put the blame for that heavily on the Generals.

Why? Zhukov was stuck in Siberia for much of the pre-war period and Stalin purged the officer corps before the start of the war. Once the war started Stalin didn't loosen his grip on the army and handcuffed his generals tremendously.
   449. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4338076)
Why? Zhukov was stuck in Siberia for much of the pre-war period and Stalin purged the officer corps before the start of the war. Once the war started Stalin didn't loosen his grip on the army and handcuffed his generals tremendously.

They should have shot him. At least some of the German generals tried.

They also had the opportunity to train their own armies while they commanded them. I've seen no evidence that Zhukov's Siberian troops were particularly effective, except in Dec-Jan '41-'42 when they were fresh fighting exhausted Germans.
   450. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4338095)
I've seen no evidence that Zhukov's Siberian troops were particularly effective, except when in Dec-Jan '41-'42 when they were fresh fighting exhausted Germans.

But I think that contradicts your earlier view. You think Zhukov's troops were at least somewhat effective when fresh and had been helmed by Zhukov for awhile. Then when the Soviets had its levee en masse they became less effective as they were less well trained. What Zhukov did early on is proof that given proper resources and a political branch that wasn't murderously paranoid he was a pretty good general.
   451. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4338105)
But I think that contradicts your earlier view. You think Zhukov's troops were at least somewhat effective when fresh and had been helmed by Zhukov for awhile. Then when the Soviets had its levee en masse they became less effective as they were less well trained. What Zhukov did early on is proof that given proper resources and a political branch that wasn't murderously paranoid he was a pretty good general.

I still don't think they ever were close to equal, man-for-man, battalion-for-battalion to the Germans.

If you want to say Zhukow was "pretty good", I won't make a fuss. My point is he's nowhere close to the ranks of great commanders.
   452. Ron J2 Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4338147)
#444 I'd start with the trilogy "The Coming Fury", "Terrible Swift Sword" and "Never Call Retreat"
   453. WillYoung Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4338156)
Obliged.
   454. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4338174)
Fair. But, I put the blame for that heavily on the Generals.


I'd put the blame for that on Stalin.
Not even Hitler churned through the German officer corps the way Stalin did to Russia's- except for the months after Valkyrie failed- but Stalin basically put that kind of pressure on the officer corps for several years without let up.

I think Stalin's Russia is a society that we here really can't imagine, perhaps N. Korea comes closest- people wonder, why didn't someone shoot him? why didn't the people rise up?

Because you and your family were dead if you did, period.

One reason that some German elites finally did take a crack at Hitler was because the old Prussian aristocrats really believed that if they could just knock off Hitler, the people would follow them- no one in Russia had or could have such a sustaining delusion - those who could possibly/remotely be seen as viable substantive leaders - those were the first ones Stalin had knocked off.

No uprisings? By the late 30s anything resembling resistance was met with massive disproportionate force- if too many workers called in sick at the same time? maybe it's an unauthorized job action? Arrest all their family members!

   455. Ron J2 Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:21 PM (#4338180)
#449 That's advocating suicide. Stalin operated under the assumption that his generals were out to get him. Of course the rather comprehensive purges of the 30s are a big reason for the terrible performance of the army. When you murder the majority of the officer corp bad things happen to the army. Didn't help that one of the surviving Marshals (Budyonny) was aggressively anti-intellectual (against tanks in particular and thinking in general). Anything other than a head-on attack in offense or "die where you stand" on defense was unacceptable to him. (remember that the purges hit all ranks, though though the rates were highest at the senior levels)

When you make showing initiative a capital crime (and in practice it was something very close to this) you're going to get leadership that follows doctrine whether it makes sense at any given moment.

Zhukov really couldn't give complicated orders and expect them to be carried out. He had limited numbers of competent people. The best of the rest were modeled on Chuikov. Plenty of physical courage and that's never a bad thing, but strictly a point A to point B type of guy.
   456. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4338186)
I'd put the blame for that on Stalin.
Not even Hitler churned through the German officer corps the way Stalin did to Russia's- except for the months after Valkyrie failed- but Stalin basically put that kind of pressure on the officer corps for several years without let up.

I think Stalin's Russia is a society that we here really can't imagine, perhaps N. Korea comes closest- people wonder, why didn't someone shoot him? why didn't the people rise up?

Because you and your family were dead if you did, period.

One reason that some German elites finally did take a crack at Hitler was because the old Prussian aristocrats really believed that if they could just knock off Hitler, the people would follow them- no one in Russia had or could have such a sustaining delusion - those who could possibly/remotely be seen as viable substantive leaders - those were the first ones Stalin had knocked off.

No uprisings? By the late 30s anything resembling resistance was met with massive disproportionate force- if too many workers called in sick at the same time? maybe it's an unauthorized job action? Arrest all their family members!


I think the answer is that the Soviet leadership was far more complicit in the Stalinist system than was true in the Nazi case. Most of the top Soviets were either true believers, or sociopathic thugs like Stalin. They believed that they benefited from the system. I think the proportionate of this "totalitarian hard core" was much smaller in the Nazi system than it was in the Soviet. Hell, Beck was ready to kill Hitler in 1941 when Barabrossa was working, Hitler just canceled his visit to Beck's army.
   457. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4338219)
I think the answer is that the Soviet leadership was far more complicit in the Stalinist system than was true in the Nazi case.


The Stalin purges began 15-20 after the revolution- the old elites were long gone- the old Czarist Officer corps was gone- the old Prussian Officer Corp was still alive and kicking into the 1940s-
so yes the Soviet Leadership (civil and military) in the 1930s was in fact "Soviet" leadership, whereas German leadership was not entirely Nazi Leadership- you still had civil and military leaders in Germany even after the war started - who were not Nazi and were in fact holdovers from the pre-Nazi regimes-

but the Nazis weren't far off the Soviets' time scale- had that regime lasted it pretty much would have exterminated the entirety of the non-Nazi leadership class in roughly the same number of years it took the Soviets in Russia.



   458. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4338240)
but the Nazis weren't far off the Soviets' time scale- had that regime lasted it pretty much would have exterminated the entirety of the non-Nazi leadership class in roughly the same number of years it took the Soviets in Russia.


The big difference is that Stalin killed tons of people in what was nominally peacetime, while Hitler's truly mass killing didn't really start until the war. Without the war it's really hard to know how things would've gone in Germany, and Hitler might have lived to a ripe old age without ever fully purging the old elites. (It's also really hard to imagine Hitler not starting the war sooner or later, so the counterfactual is mostly moot.)
   459. Depressoteric Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4338248)
Where should one start when first reading Bruce Catton?
WillYoung -

If you want to read just ONE book (as opposed to a trilogy) of Catton's I would strongly, strongly recommend This Hallowed Ground.
   460. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4338305)
I just can't rate a general very highly when with very good equipment (Russian tanks and planes were always at least equal to the German, and often better), and massive numerical superiority, they always suffered casualty rates of 3 to 5 times those they inflicted.


This got me thinking - how can anyone assess the effectiveness of modern US generals specifically Powell/Schwarzkopf and Franks? Obviously casualties were a lot less, but the technological, numerical and political advantages of the US side has got to be one of the most lopsided in modern warfare.
   461. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4338313)
This got me thinking - how can anyone assess the effectiveness of modern US generals specifically Powell/Schwarzkopf and Franks? Obviously casualties were a lot less, but the technological, numerical and political advantages of the US side has got to be one of the most lopsided in modern warfare.

You can't. All you can say is they were competent enough not to screw up.

But, I think 95% of Army officers Captain and above would have won those wars handily too.
   462. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4338332)
All spots have been filled in Diplomacy and now we are just waiting for Brian to confirm. Get ready to roll!
   463. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4338346)
All spots have been filled in Diplomacy and now we are just waiting for Brian to confirm. Get ready to roll!

We better not be freaking Russia and Turkey again.
   464. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 08:52 PM (#4338448)
Game on!

I'm Russia

Snapper: Germany
BourbonSamurai: Austria
Whitebg: France
SHughes: Turkey
jigokumini: England
ManofHarlech: Italy
McCoy: Russia
   465. zenbitz Posted: January 03, 2013 at 09:32 PM (#4338477)
If the Allies had the stomach to fight the Soviets in 1945, they would have cut through them like a warm knife through butter.


The same Allied army that was fighting the rump end of the Germans -- a German army that was more or less TRYING to lose to the west by 1945 and still took a year to punch through the Rhine?

The 1943 Russian army crushed the Germans to dust. The Germans of WWI-WWII were the single greatest effective army the world has ever known - so not being their equal is not particularly damning.

Yes, they suffered more casualties when on the offense than the Germans did. However, they didn't have the advantage of fighting the hopelessly ill-led 1941 Russian army. How well do you think the 1944 Russian army would have done against the 1941 version?

   466. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4338483)

The same Allied army that was fighting the rump end of the Germans -- a German army that was more or less TRYING to lose to the west by 1945 and still took a year to punch through the Rhine?

The 1943 Russian army crushed the Germans to dust. The Germans of WWI-WWII were the single greatest effective army the world has ever known - so not being their equal is not particularly damning.

Yes, they suffered more casualties when on the offense than the Germans did. However, they didn't have the advantage of fighting the hopelessly ill-led 1941 Russian army. How well do you think the 1944 Russian army would have done against the 1941 version?


They would have done well, but the truth remains that the Soviet Army never reached the proficiency of the British, American, Canadian, Free French, or Polish Army, much less the Germans.
   467. Brian White Posted: January 03, 2013 at 09:59 PM (#4338503)
We better not be freaking Russia and Turkey again.


Nope. The curse of having to replay the nation you were just playing last game fell on jigokumini and myself. France again? Ah well.
   468. McCoy Posted: January 03, 2013 at 10:04 PM (#4338510)
Yes, they suffered more casualties when on the offense than the Germans did. However, they didn't have the advantage of fighting the hopelessly ill-led 1941 Russian army. How well do you think the 1944 Russian army would have done against the 1941 version?

They also took a severe beating at the Battle of Kursk when they were on the defensive. Any other army would have crumpled and folded after the beating they took but instead the Russians went on the offensive and permanently sent the Germans on the defensive for the rest of the war.
   469. NattyBoh Posted: January 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM (#4338525)
Game on!

I'm Russia

Snapper: Germany
BourbonSamurai: Austria
Whitebg: France
SHughes: Turkey
jigokumini: England
ManofHarlech: Italy
McCoy: Russia


I used to play Dip a lot, might start again. I did not want to play as NattyBoh. Italy sucks.
   470. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 03, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4338539)
They also took a severe beating at the Battle of Kursk when they were on the defensive. Any other army would have crumpled and folded after the beating they took but instead the Russians went on the offensive and permanently sent the Germans on the defensive for the rest of the war.


IANAWWIIE, but didn't Operation Husky distract Hitler and the Germans during July of '43?
   471. Publius Publicola Posted: January 03, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4338562)
IANAWWIIE, but didn't Operation Husky distract Hitler and the Germans during July of '43?


If you count a major offensive against a key ally on their home soil as a distraction, then yeah, he was distracted.

OTOH, how could Hitler NOT have been distracted by one thing or another? He was simultaneously managing two fronts, one that was 1500 miles wide and the other on another continent with fronts on both sides of his troops, all the while conducting a U-boat interdiction campaign in the north Atlantic. Against not one, not two, but THREE major powers, all of which could bring superior force in one form or another, either naval, or in material, or in human capital.

I still wonder, what the #### was Hitler thinking when he declared war on the US? He had no agreement with Japan to do so. And Japan didn't declare war on the Soviets when Hitler attacked them. So why did he do it, when he had nothing to gain and everything to lose? Barbarossa had already stalled. Did he just do it out of impulse, like "Hey, our little yellow fascist brothers just bombed the capitalists. Let's bomb them too!". Or was his mind so fevered by the early victories that he couldn't discern the possible from the impossible?
   472. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4338618)

OTOH, how could Hitler NOT have been distracted by one thing or another? He was simultaneously managing two fronts, one that was 1500 miles wide and the other on another continent with fronts on both sides of his troops, all the while conducting a U-boat interdiction campaign in the north Atlantic. Against not one, not two, but THREE major powers, all of which could bring superior force in one form or another, either naval, or in material, or in human capital.


He could have started by listening to Guderian, letting Army Group Center continue on to Moscow after Smolensk, rather than ordering them south to support the lagging attack there... They might have still ended up in the same state as Napoleon - stranded deep in Russia in the depths of winter, but without the pause, there's at east a chance the Siberian reserves don't arrive in time and Moscow falls. It was a critical month of pre-winter weather (as well as more precious reserves and further attrition/losses) that this moronic decision cost the Wehrmacht.

I've seen no evidence that Zhukov's Siberian troops were particularly effective, except when in Dec-Jan '41-'42 when they were fresh fighting exhausted Germans.


But that winter counteroffensive probably saved Moscow...

It's completely understandable why the Japanese wanted no further part of the USSR after getting stomped pretty good a few years prior - besides having plenty on their hands as it was, there really wasn't much to be had from giving the Germans a hand by keeping a good chunk of the Red Army tied up.

I do wonder, though...

Let's say that the corporal lets the generals run the show and that Stalin's spies never learn that Japan has no plans to join the war against him (or even better, that Japan at least feigns the opposite).

You keep the Siberian reserves at least tied up... Presumably, Guderian takes Moscow. I would assume that rather than the slow strangle of Leningrad (also more, better diplomacy to convince the Finns to be more aggressive) - the north collapses as ell.

Army Group South was still in a bit of trouble, but it was also comprised to a greater degree by Germany's Balkan allies - at least, in '41.... If everything north of say... Bryansk collapses, I'm not sure it matters. Hold the line at Moscow - and there's not a whole lot east of it anyway, strategically speaking. Seal off the North Sea routes. So long as the south doesn't completely collapse, you can now wheel the full force south against a Red Army wholly on its heels.
   473. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4338628)
It makes no difference if Hitler was distracted or not. The point was that the Russians took a severe beating, a beating that would have caused any other army on the planet to collapse and retreat, and yet withstood it and then went on the offensive afterwards and never stopped attacking at that point.
   474. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:31 AM (#4338632)
Just finished reading Grand Strategy and I think the author makes several good points and one of them in particular is relevant to the Eastern Front. The author talks about a nation's center of gravity and how for the Confederacy that wasn't really cities or land but their army. I believe that holds true for the most part for Russia in WWII as well.

Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad could all fall and it wouldn't put an end to the war or the lethality of the Russians. To knock the Russians out you had to destroy their armies, their will to fight, and their newly built industrial base in the East. Germany could do none of that thus they could never win the war.
   475. Publius Publicola Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4338748)
The key for the Germans wasn't Moscow or Stalingrad or any other city. It was the Baku oil fields. If they could have gotten those and secured them, then they could have sustained their offensive. Without them, they were toast. Hitler never truly got that, the relationship between supplies and the sustainability of an offensive. I wonder what would have happened if they had made a mad dash for Baku first, then worried about Stalingrad later, instead of the other way around.
   476. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4338778)
You going to leave Stalingrad in your rear during this mad dash? The whole reason the Germans were in Stalingrad was to get to the oil fields south of it. Capturing oil fields without protecting your supply lines is rather pointless.
   477. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4338792)
The key for the Germans wasn't Moscow or Stalingrad or any other city. It was the Baku oil fields. If they could have gotten those and secured them, then they could have sustained their offensive. Without them, they were toast. Hitler never truly got that, the relationship between supplies and the sustainability of an offensive. I wonder what would have happened if they had made a mad dash for Baku first, then worried about Stalingrad later, instead of the other way around.


Then the winter Red Army counteroffensive is centered further south - likely cutting off even more and costing more than "just" what was cut off at Stalingrad... and the Soviets cross the Oder (or more likely, further south through the Balkans crossing the Danube instead) in 44.

Even by '43 - the failed Kursk offensive, for example, which included the new fuel hog Panthers and Tiger tanks - the Wehrmacht still had the fuel available for a major offensive. They needed Baku long-term - but didn't need to seize it in '41 or even '42.... BTW - just a note on the over or underratedness of Zhukov -- he beat Manstein at Kursk, soundly, and presumably - no one is saying Manstein was merely cromulent.

I tend to agree somewhat with McCoy in 474 (and ironically, so did Hitler - it's why he insisted on temporarily diverting Army Group Center... there was more Red Army south to destroy than there was on Center's initially planned route to Moscow)... but you still have to take key strategic points.

Soviet industry was more than able to feed tanks into the Red Army -- but they were relatively reliant on lend-lease trucks...

If the initial Barbarossa plan that Guderian/von Brauchitsch had devised had been followed, I think it had a better chance (again - it was Hitler than interfered and demanded the same -- more emphasis on the southern attack, through the Ukraine and into the Caucasus).

The focus of the thrust should have remained knifing through the center - into Moscow, perhaps continuing all the way to the Volga... Dissolve and reallocate Army group center - setting up the eastern defensive edge, with the infantry component splitting off to move north, perhaps all the way to Archangel or at least hooking up with Army Group North and the Finns, while most of the Center Armor turns south to link up with South -- aiming for either Kursk, Kiev, Rostov, or Stalingrad, depending on how much success Manstein and south had had on their own.... even if it meant the west-most target (Kiev), the Axis is in a much better position... Moscow has fallen, Soviet lend-lease shipments are either in serious trouble or nearly halted, Stalin is probably sacking generals left-and-right, and maybe you even stymie the 'Great Patriotic War' ethos without the backdrop of Stalin staying in Moscow. You've also either cut off and encircled almost the whole remnants of the northern forces.

Most of this could have been accomplished by the '41/'42 winter - without the turn south, Moscow certainly could have been taken.

Come spring - and assuming, too, the Germans don't hold to the silly idea that they'll be in and out of Russia in 3-5 months (i.e., planning all along that the army is going to need winter gear), you've then got the full weight of the panzers to hurl south at the remaining Russian army... whether the Siberian reinforcements are brought to bear or not.

The other big thing I'd have changed -- not stupidly sending in the Einsatzgruppen (SS death squads)... In the Baltics and particularly south in the Ukraine -- there were plenty of areas where the local population was perfectly willing to give it a go of trading Soviet dominance for German. That changed pretty quickly once the death squads showed just how indiscriminately murderous they could be, particularly in the south.
   478. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4338815)

Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad could all fall and it wouldn't put an end to the war or the lethality of the Russians. To knock the Russians out you had to destroy their armies, their will to fight, and their newly built industrial base in the East. Germany could do none of that thus they could never win the war.


I think you undersestimate the importance of Moscow. It was the center of the whole Russian rail network.

I'm not saying the Soviets magically fall if Moscow was taken, but, it would have been a huge hit to their ability to move troops, and resources around the country.
   479. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4338828)
Surely Grand Moff Tarkin is the worst Grand Moff ever.


What about Snodgrass's $30,000 moff?
   480. OCF Posted: January 04, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4338859)
I've seen suggestions above like, "What if the colonel had let the generals run things" and "It was a bad idea to send in the Einsatzgruppen." But that's asking Hitler not to be Hitler. And if he's not Hitler, then "Let's not have a war at all" becomes something to seriously consider in terms of the national interests of Germany.
   481. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4338880)
I've seen suggestions above like, "What if the colonel had let the generals run things" and "It was a bad idea to send in the Einsatzgruppen." But that's asking Hitler not to be Hitler. And if he's not Hitler, then "Let's not have a war at all" becomes something to seriously consider in terms of the national interests of Germany.

Well that's not a very interesting hypothetical ;-)

I think the point is that a lot of Hitler's actions were driven by irrational hatreds. It's not far fetched to think he could have been a little more controlled by better advisors, or irrational in slightly different directions, e.g.,

1) What if his hatred was confined to Jews and Bolsheviks, and he viewed the Slavs as potential "junior partners" rather than potential helots?
2) What if he had been convinced to settle for exiling the Jews rather than exterminating them? There were serious debates about this among the Nazis.
3) What if he had been a tradition meglomaniacal imperialist w/o the racial undertones? i.e. a smarter, more charismatic, Kaiser Wilhelm.

   482. Ron J2 Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4338891)
I still wonder, what the #### was Hitler thinking when he declared war on the US?


He actually didn't give it a lot of thought. Didn't think much of America or Americans.

The only consideration seems to have been that he could allow the U-boats free reign.
   483. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4338901)
The only consideration seems to have been that he could allow the U-boats free reign.

Yes. He seems to have believed that American neutrality was providing major cover for shipment of British war supplies. The U-boats did have a fantastic run in early '42 against unprepared US shipping. But, talk about being penny wise and pound foolish.
   484. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4338924)
Well that's not a very interesting hypothetical ;-)

I think the point is that a lot of Hitler's actions were driven by irrational hatreds. It's not far fetched to think he could have been a little more controlled by better advisors, or irrational in slightly different directions, e.g.,

1) What if his hatred was confined to Jews and Bolsheviks, and he viewed the Slavs as potential "junior partners" rather than potential helots?
2) What if he had been convinced to settle for exiling the Jews rather than exterminating them? There were serious debates about this among the Nazis.
3) What if he had been a tradition meglomaniacal imperialist w/o the racial undertones? i.e. a smarter, more charismatic, Kaiser Wilhelm.


Precisely...

He needed better puppet masters!

...someone/some body of someones to use his evil charisma to rally the nation around singular purposes, but prevent him from having any real control over the course of policy... Heh... a better von Papen!
   485. zonk Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4338929)
I've seen suggestions above like, "What if the colonel had let the generals run things" and "It was a bad idea to send in the Einsatzgruppen." But that's asking Hitler not to be Hitler. And if he's not Hitler, then "Let's not have a war at all" becomes something to seriously consider in terms of the national interests of Germany.


Also - to add to 484 --

Don't forget Foch's statement after Versailles -- "This isn't peace, it is an armistice for 20 years". I tend to agree with Foch that war was inevitable -- the composition of the alliances might have been radically different... Maybe a non-Hitler solely looks east or solely looks west.

I think it was inevitable that someone was going to take Germany to war in the 30s or 40s.
   486. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4338944)
Don't forget Foch's statement after Versailles -- "This isn't peace, it is an armistice for 20 years". I tend to agree with Foch that war was inevitable -- the composition of the alliances might have been radically different... Maybe a non-Hitler solely looks east or solely looks west.

I think it was inevitable that someone was going to take Germany to war in the 30s or 40s.


Concur.

   487. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4339000)
I think you undersestimate the importance of Moscow. It was the center of the whole Russian rail network.

Russia doesn't collapse because Germany takes a rail hub. That simply doesn't happen. In war people and armies adapt. Like Russia moving its industrial base east. The Russians built miles and miles of new railway during the war.
   488. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4339001)
I think it was inevitable that someone was going to take Germany to war in the 30s or 40s.

If the Germans didn't go to war the Russians would have. Europe at some point in the 40's was going to be aflame.
   489. Ron J2 Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4339006)
He seems to have believed that American neutrality was providing major cover for shipment of British war supplies.


He was right. The US Navy was basically an active participant in the war at that time and it was driving Donitz and company nuts.
   490. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4339008)
Russia doesn't collapse because Germany takes a rail hub. That simply doesn't happen. In war people and armies adapt. Like Russia moving its industrial base east. The Russians built miles and miles of new railway during the war.

Rail hub, and largest industrial and population center.

If the Germans can take and hold Moscow, it become impossible for the Soviets to supply, reinforce Leningrad, the whole north likely falls. Leand Lease can't be moved from Archelangel/Murmansk, even if the north doesn't fall, b/c all the rail line go through Moscow.

Then in '42, the Germans take the Ukraine, easily. Even with Moscow under control, the Soviet armies took a beating in early '43.

I'm not saying the Germans get an automatic win, but taking and holding Moscow in '41, I think they have a 50:50 chance, at least, of fighting the Allies to a stalemate, where they controlled much/all of Central and Eastern Europe.
   491. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4339014)
He was right. The US Navy was basically an active participant in the war at that time and it was driving Donitz and company nuts.

Yes, that's why I said penny wise and pound foolish. They traded a short term gain in the U-boat war for a long term nightmare of US entry.
   492. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4339017)
As I said before land isn't what truly mattered. If the Germans take Msocow without destroying the Soviet army it doesn't mean anything. Look at Napoleon. He absolutely conquered Russia and Moscow but had to slink away because his supply lines were overextended and the Russian army was still out there and still deadly.

People and armies don't just throw up their hands and give up, well, besides the French, because of a setback. Russia would adapt to the new circumstances. The war would be more costlier and probably longer but the end result would be the same. Russia had no incentive to surrender. To surrender meant to die so why do that?
   493. BDC Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4339042)
Just catching up with what I supposed, foolishly, was a Royals thread :) Anyway, a bit of sports trivia: first-class football continued to be played in Germany until 23 April 1945, when Bayern Munich defeated 1860 Munich 3-2. It's hardly odd to us in retrospect that major-league baseball was played right through WW2, but to imagine a soccer match in Munich ten days after the Soviets took Vienna is extremely bizarre. But it shows how "normal" life continued to be in unoccupied parts of Germany till the last days of the war.
   494. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4339067)
As I said before land isn't what truly mattered. If the Germans take Msocow without destroying the Soviet army it doesn't mean anything. Look at Napoleon. He absolutely conquered Russia and Moscow but had to slink away because his supply lines were overextended and the Russian army was still out there and still deadly.


Did you see this article that was on Slate recently?

The take away:


What incredible circumstances could have caused the defeat of one of the greatest armies on the European continent, led by one of the greatest generals of all time? Surprisingly, it wasn’t enemy soldiers or the normal privations soldiers experience that devastated Napoleon’s army. Most of his soldiers were battle-hardened young men, so they should have been able to tolerate the cold, hunger, long marches, and fatigue. No, it was a microscopic organism that wreaked havoc and annihilated Napoleon’s army and his grand plans for conquest. A microbe called typhus, spread by a scourge of lice.
   495. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4339079)
As I said before land isn't what truly mattered. If the Germans take Msocow without destroying the Soviet army it doesn't mean anything. Look at Napoleon. He absolutely conquered Russia and Moscow but had to slink away because his supply lines were overextended and the Russian army was still out there and still deadly.

I specifically said "take and hold", Napoleon couldn't hold b/c his army was dying on their feet as CoB points out.

The issue is not land, it's transport, industry and manpower, all of which were heavily concentrated in Moscow.

With the country split like that, it would have been very, very hard for the Soviet Army to maintain its strength. Lend Lease becomes much more complicated, and as it is, the Soviets were flat out of manpower by '45.
   496. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4339080)
Did you see this article that was on Slate recently?

Yes, fascinating. It answers a question I've long had; "How did Napoleon's army go from 500K to 120K, before Borodino, without a major battle?"
   497. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4339084)
Germany by the time they reached the outskirts of Moscow had overrun vast amount of Soviet land. Under their thumb was a vast amount of Soviet manpower and industry and they destroyed or captured most of the Soviets transportation network. Despite that Russia had millions of men in reserve, still had an incredibly large industrial base, one which was largely protected from German encroachment, and their transportation stock was quickly replaced. Moscow itself played virtually no roll in any of that.

Despite the typhus claim Napoleon couldn't take and hold Russia because he would never be able to support his men in that country and destroy the Russian army. Even in the Slate article they state that Napoleon was running into problems well before typhus reared its head and disease is a natural offshoot of the kind of war the French and Russians were waging. The Russians as they retreated devestated the land in front of the French. Impoverishing the area and making an outbreak of a disease a certainty.
   498. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4339089)
According to the Slate article of the 35 bodies they took samples from only 3 of them had traces of typhus.
   499. Jim Wisinski Posted: January 04, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4339103)
If the Germans didn't go to war the Russians would have. Europe at some point in the 40's was going to be aflame.


C&C: Red Alert!

Though that scenario is somewhat unrealistic (even setting aside the whole time travel aspect) too, the assumption that Germany without Hitler falls easily onto the side of the western allies is probably incorrect.
   500. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4339124)
the assumption that Germany without Hitler falls easily onto the side of the western allies is probably incorrect.

I would see a more "tradtionalist" Germany forming a bloc of Central and Eastern European countries and leading them in a fight against the Soviets, while France and Britain sat it out.

The great flaw of German statesmanship, for hundreds of years, was viewing the non-Russian slavs as enemies rather than allies. An independent Poland and Ukraine, allied to Germany, and linked by a trade union, would have been a much greater increment to German strength than possessing those same lands by force.

As one historian said, if the Germans raised the Ukranian flag over Kiev instead of the Swastika, they beat the Soviets.
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