What if Stalingrad had fallen to the 6th Army?....

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by threesend, Jan 9, 2011.

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  1. Not sure if this has been discussed before, however ive been watching the snows (jon and his son) on a programme about stalingrad....

    So my question really is: what if Stalingrad had fallen to the 6th Army, would this victory have changed the face of Europe as we know it today?...We know that the defeat of the 6th Army was the first major and significant defeat the German Army had ever had.

    your thoughts.
     
  2. Targeting Stalingrad was a disaster no doubt and, I understand, a totally waste of effort even if successful. It had more to do with feeding Hitler's ego and his need to undermine the Soviets moral than any significant strategical gain. If the 6th Army was successful I believe it would only have delayed the inevitable defeat that would have came (elsewhere in the Soviet Union) due to the thrust being over extended and under supplied during the very harsh winter. Not to mention a victory would have fed Hitlers's delusion of him knowing better than his General Staff which would lead him to make even more illogical decisions.
     
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  3. I think it would have only been a matter of time before the inevitable were to happen (overwhelmed by the Russians) I can't help thinking that the Germans had bitten off far more than they could chew by pressing East at the rate they did. Marvellous military machine but common sense didn't seem much to enter planning the move ahead. Every single time I watch vids or progs about WW11 now, I cannot help but feel they got much less than they deserved at the time on both fronts as they started to collapse.
     
  4. i think the initial thrust to stalingrad was to also capture the oil fields in the caucasus, as the german war machine required these oil fields to carry on fighting and to prevent the russians from fighting. may be wrong tho!
     
  5. Sorry mate have to disagree - there was the small matter of North Africa and first and second El Alamein. However I would argue that the Germans suffered their first major defeat at Moscow in 1941. But even if Stalingrad had fallen, the manpower and materiel resources it consumed seriously damaged the Germans. In any event even if the had won, the Soviet troop deployments meant that a battle for the Kursk salient was ineveitable and they never even came close to winning that one. And that was the back breaker for the Germans.
     
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  6. blue-sophist

    blue-sophist LE Good Egg (charities)

    As I recall, the southern thrust to the oil of the Caucasus had it's armour drawn north for the attack on Stalingrad [Stalin's City, and thus a psychological target for Hitler]. IMO, if the northern thrust had just held its ground instead of pushing forward into the furnace of Stalingrad it might have worked out differently. However, let's not forget that the Germans had taken something like 90% of Stalingrad itself ... they just exhausted their resources in the process, whilst Russian reinforcements kept on coming.
     
  7. Perhaps not, had the Germans gone about it more intelligently. What Stalingrad effectively did was to buy time for Stalin and on his terms. By late summer, the Russians were materially on their uppers, having squandered most of their early 1942 armoured reserves in Timoshenko's abortive May Offensive. By trying to take Stalingrad, the Germans forced one of their most professional manoeuvre Armies to take on the Russians in fighting for which they were ill-equipped and structured. Conversely, the Russians had to simply feed in sufficient raw troops, predominantly infantry, to keep the pot boiling.

    That said, Stalingrad held the same psychological importance for Stalin as it did for Hitler. Had the Germans simply encircled it whilst the garrison was weak and established a perimeter on the east side of the Volga, they might have taken the Battle back onto their own terms. If he wished to retain the City, Stalin would then have been forced to commit his Southern reserves piecemeal to relieve it before it fell, rather than garnering them for the winter offensive. In particular, he would have had to sacrifice precious armour to enable his infantry to achieve any success in the type of open, fluid defensive battle at which the Germans excelled.

    I suspect that in addition to pressure from Hitler, OKH had been lulled into a false sense of security by the ease with which they had taken other key Russian cities (Kiev, Minsk, Kharkov). Stalingrad also came in the immediate wake of a spectacular success by 11th Army, which had taken the fortress city of Sevastapol by assault in Jun 1942, following a winter-long siege. Stalingrad was initially thought to be a much easier nut to crack.
     
  8. Had Stalingrad fallen to the Germans, they would have only inflated their ego by confirming their myth of invincibility. The Russian morale may have suffered further and surrender may have been mentioned to Stalin. However most of Russian industry had been moved deep inside mountains and convoys were in place to replen their losses.

    I don't think Stalin would have surrendered and the Germans would have become once again puzzled at how many prisoners they had taken, the ground conquered and yet no sign of a surrender.

    It could have been weeks or months after the fall, but the inevitable would still have happened some place.
     
  9. Afrika Corps (not army). 6 divisions, not really a major defeat in terms of the 6th. Army at Stalingrad but the result was strategically just as important. But agree that if Hitler had turned South instead of towards Stalingrad the danger via Persia and the potential loss of mid east oil fields could have been catastrophic for Allied strategic planning except for one small detail; the Germans would have had to construct a pipeline all the way back to Germany to make real use of the oil as the combined allied navies would have blockaded all other routes.

    However, if we had lost the Nile delta and Suez leaving the whole Med open to axis domination it would have been a very different outcome. Thus, on balance, defeat in N Africa was of vital strategic concern and to do this we had to defeat Rommel in the desert.
     
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  10. Now I might be missing something really obvious, but I don't understand why the Wehrmacht didn't cross the Volga to the North or South of Stalingrad to roll up the Soviet troops on the East bank. This was, certainly for the duration of the fighting in the city, how Zhukov kept a toe in the game. Even a Luftlaender or Fallschirmjaeger assault, supported by advancing Panzer formations, would have put paid to Soviet opposition on the East bank. I suppose for many in the Wehrmacht, the Volga was the original Limit of Exploitation for the campaign so they had a fundamental issue with extending their lines even further.

    As I mentioned, I may be missing something really obvious.
     
  11. Beevors book 'Stalingrad' was probably one of the better books I've read about it.....anyone know if there's any better?
     
  12. Citino 'Death of the Wehrmacht' - Wider scope but covers the reasons, execution and failure of the Stalingrad campaign with clarity.
     
  13. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    "Enemy at the Gates" the book not the film and "Stalingrad "by V E Tarrant, an old mate of mine so I'm biased, are quite good reads
     
  14. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    considering the miracles Speer worked with munitions and hardware production, I wouldn't have bet against them being able to keep a siginificant flow of oil going back to the fatherland (if they had captured the oilfields, and bled out at Stalingrad). when you look at the defence they were able to mount with next to no fuel for the luftwaffe or their armour formations, what might have they done with a greater oil supply and an army that hadnt been squandered in a operation to appease Hitler's ego?

    obviously, it's not quite as simple as that - they wasted massive resources in the search of 'wonder weapons' that just werent enough to tilt the balance of power in their favour enough - but just imagine if they'd standardised production around just one or two types in each area (armour, fighters, small arms) around 1941 or so and been able to keep an oil supply flowing?
     
  15. I agree, connect my post above.

    Stalingrad is perhaps the perfect illustration of Hitler's failure to understand manoeuvre warfare at the strategic level and the failure of his senior military staff to get it across to him. To win in Russia, the Wehrmacht had to box as a lightweight vs a heavyweight. Darting in, landing carefully aimed blows at vital points and dodging the return haymakers, all the while keeping the heavyweight on the move so as to tire him. At times, this would mean giving up ground in the boxing ring

    In military terms, it meant successively manoeuvring to a position the enemy couldn't ignore strategically, then switching to flexible tactical defence to destroy his counter-attacking forces at relatively little cost to yourself. In effect, fighting very much as Wellington fought in the Peninsula. This was certainly the strategy adopted until October 1941, with exceptional success. Conversely, the Battle of Brest-Litovsk and the appearance of the T-34 in the first days of the Campaign should have provided Hitler with a stark warning on the perils of fighting Ivan on his terms. By 1942, Germany had also identifed the key weapons systems (88mm gun, long 75s, the tank-busting Ju 87 and the humble truck) necessary to outmanoeuvre and outrange Soviet ground combat power, potentially nullifying any quantitative advantage.

    However, from the autumn of 1941, Hitler progressively limited the ability of his generals to "fight smart", forcing them to advance directly into the teeth of prepared Soviet defences with tired forces, ill-equipped for the task and often in appalling weather. At the strategic level, he persisted with an anarchic procurement process (until late 1943), preventing concentration on key weapon systems. To return to the boxing example, if the lightweight is forced to trade haymakers, the advantage switches inexorably to the heavyweight. Whilst OKH were aware of this, they were not able to convince Hitler.
     
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