Could the USSR have survived defeat at the gates of Moscow: December 1941?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by michaelmaltby, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    The Russians have always been masters of trading land for time.
    The Party leadership of the USSR had demonstrated that it could fight and ultimately win a war on many fronts (Civil War - post 1917).
    The Military leadership had demonstrated that it could mobilize and successfully conduct combined arms in the East (Nomonhan, 1939).
    Major industrial resources had been moved East of the Ural Mts. by December, 1941.

    It is my view that, if Moscow had fallen in December, 1941, the Soviet leadership would have withdrawn East of the Ural Mountains and continued the fight against Hitler, and, in the end, would have prevailed with the assistance of massive LL aid pouring in from the USA across the Bering Strait (just as LL aid poured in that way for the August, 1945 offensive against Japan.)

    I do not believe Japan would have jumped into the fray. By December, 1941, Japan was at war with the USA and had no resources to spare.

    Here's the lay of the land.
     

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  2. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    I agree. In my opinion the Germans had only one chance in defeating the Soviet Union and that is to overrun western areas before any industry could be evacuated to the Urals. Since they failed to do that not even the fall of Moscow in December 1941 would give them ultimate victory in the war.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's what Stalin would do if he's still in power. But would he be?
     
  4. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "....that's what Stalin would do if he's still in power. But would he be?"

    Good question, db. :)

    I think the danger period for Stalin's leadership was the first couple of weeks immediately after June 22. He vanished for almost a week and then returned. By December 21, 1941 it is my view that those immediately around him were resigned to the necessity of Stalin's "way" in order to survive and prevail. The average Russian in the street was inoculated to Stalin's methods by 1941 - there would never be a popular uprising - and the leadership around the leader had been curry-combed relentlessly by Stalin's paranoia. By 1941 no one was being eliminated or sent to the gulag for real offences - they were simply sacrificial to send the message that Stalin was not going soft, and "knew" everything.

    So - in short - my money is on Stalin prevailing as leader and the withdrawal east of the Urals.

    MM
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Therein lies the problem.

    The Russian people are not stupid nor are they sheep. Millions of older Russians remembered the German occupation of 1918 and they know it was a lot less harsh then life under Stalin. They also know that thousands of Russians fled Soviet rule to live in Germany and those ethnic Russians were not being mistreated. For instance one of the more famous German night fighter pilots (Helmut Lent) married the daughter of a Russian refugee.

    So why wouldn't Russians take the first good opportunity to kill Stalin and negotiate with Germany to end the war?
     
  6. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    because they were untermensch* also without Stalin so i think fight is a best option


    *for nazis
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the USSR would have survived. The USSR was not Russia. Many parts of the union saw the Germans as liberators before the "liberators" messed that up for themselves. It must be plausible that large chunks in the west of the USSR (Ukraine,Belarus etc) which were already occupied by the Germans might come to some arrangement with the occupiers independently of the Soviet leadership who now,Stalin or no Stalin,have disappeared over the Urals.
    It's a long way from Siberia to,say,Minsk which is much closer to Berlin than the Urals
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... The USSR was not Russia. ..... It's a long way from Siberia to,say,Minsk which is much closer to Berlin than the Urals"

    All very true. IMHO if the Soviets withdrew government behind the Urals - the front line would have advanced east much further, so certainly all the territories you mention would have plenty of first hand experience being occupied by the Nazis. I'm not sure how valid the comparison between WW1 German occupation and the WW2 version of the same is, Stona. The Germans really messed up their chances in the slavic regions they occupied, very quickly. They may have been greeted as liberators but that view didn't last. Certainly ... it would have been a much longer war, more along the timeline of the Peninsular War in Spain (1807-14) at the very least. But if America is providing aid from the Pacific - and with Soviet manpower and mobilization - time and space would be the Soviet's friend.

    MM
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mean to bring in WWI,I was referring to Western areas already occupied by the Germans as they pushed on to Moscow,sorry for the confusion :)

    The Germans certainly did mess up their initial welcome fairly quickly,driven by their idiotic racial ideology as alluded to by Vicenzo above.

    I certainly agree that the capture and occupation of the territories of the European USSR would have extended the war considerably,irrespective of aid from the Western allies,just look at the lack of infrastructure East of the Urals.
    If we ignore the possibility of the Western allies pushing much further East after their eventual invasion we must remember that the Russians were not the only ones who could trade space for time. Mannstein was probably the undisputed master of the fighting retreat and with the Soviets starting East of the Urals he would have had a lot more space to bleed the Red Army in.
    It's no coincidence that the NATO allies,facing the Red Army at the beginning of the cold war sprung Mannstein from prison after barely 4 years of his 18 year sentence and consulted him on the best way of stopping it! I imagine the Soviet members of the Nuremberg court were less than impressed. It's a good job he was in the hands of the British.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Sorry stona, I misrepresented your thoughts on WW1 .... I was, in fact, cued by davebender's post ...:

    " .... Millions of older Russians remembered the German occupation of 1918 .." :)

    Chairs,

    MM
     
  11. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... sprung Mannstein from prison after barely 4 years of his 18 year sentence and consulted him on the best way of stopping it!"

    Interesting ....

    "... the Russians were not the only ones who could trade space for time"

    I do agree - especially in the context of WW2. The slow withdrawal up the boot of Italy being a prime example .... the flooding of Holland being another .... both of which Canadian troops experienced in a very first-hand and costly way.

    Trading space for time is a much different game when you're contesting over flat plains with only major rivers as natural defensive barriers.

    Once east of Moscow ..... what becomes the retreating Soviet's next defensive line .... Stalingrad ....?

    MM
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Quite true, not all land is the same. The relative lack of roads, and railroads east of Moscow would have placed a huge logistic burden on the Soviet army. Both in defense and offense. The further east you go the less suitable the terrain and climate are for food production which means, even (or because of?)with large scale relocation of factory workers, importation of food becomes even more important.

    If the Soviets retreat to the Urals do they keep the southern oil fields? and if the Germans get the western shore of the Caspian sea what does that do to the southern lend lease route? The Northern one is a done deal.

    While the Soviets may very well stay in the game by retreating to Urals it would delay any offensive moves of any size for several years.
     
  13. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Yes!
    I'm with Imalko
    Why
    1) Germans lost much of their equipment when they were forced to retreat in Dec. 41 because they simply couldn't move them, why you think that they would have been capable to advance much east of Moscow? Farther east one went the harsher winter comes, more forest etc.
    2)Heer wasn't good in winter warfare or in forest fighting in 41/42 winter.
    3)If Germans would have been able to stay in Moscow to March I guess that their communications to the west would have been very perilous because of the weather and activities by Soviet cavalry, airborne troops, partisans and Soviet troops staying behind German lines in the forests.

    Juha
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Russia had been plunged into civil war barely twenty years previously. If the Germans had played their cards right they could have split the USSR down the middle.
    There were plenty of people in the Western territories of the USSR who were happy to see the Germans arrive,it was the Germans who messed up that opportunity.
    War is famously an extension of politics. Luckily the Nazi regime lacked astute politicians with an understanding of foreign affairs,in fact most of them were over promoted croneys and thugs who had never left Germany and it showed.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    IMHO the racistic ideology was essential part of Nazi Germany, and that incl Heer, so rational policy towards Slavs was out of question.

    Juha
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #16 michaelmaltby, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
    ".... While the Soviets may very well stay in the game by retreating to Urals it would delay any offensive moves of any size for several years..."

    I thorough agree on that -- and ves, I see the Russians losing their Caspian oil fields - and the LL route through Iran. But Britain and the USA would fly airstrikes against German forces IF it came down to that.

    The oil fields would be destroyed by the retreating Soviets as much as possible - burning Kuwait on the Caspian. And those same fields would be within bomber range from Iran.

    The land east of the Urals is vast, empty and harsh ... but there is a railroad ... a railroad that has been absolutely historic in the history of modern Russia. It will be easier for the Soviets to bring up LL-USA material from east of them and push it west than it will be for the German military to support themselves through a western "rear" that is a former war-zone ... now constantly subject to communist guerillas ....

    And what of the Northern Front. When Moscow folds does Leningrad fall too ..... making the Baltic truly "Mera Germania" (or should that be "Mera Adolphia")

    MM
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Heer performed just fine in Northern Norway during April 1940. So it's safe to say German Army units understood how to fight under winter conditions.

    Historically the Heer gave priority to ammunition and fuel shipments during the fall of 1941. That's why they didn't have winter clothing and equipment for the advance on Moscow. The Waffen SS made different logistical choices so their soldiers had proper winter clothing and equipment during December 1941. That paid big dividends for SS Totenkopf Division when encircled at Demyansk.

    The Heer could have made a logistical pause during November 1941 to bring winter equipment forward. That would have delayed further advance towards Moscow two or three weeks. However when the advance resumed Heer soldiers would have been properly equipped rather then half frozen.
     
  18. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    ".... The Waffen SS made different logistical choices so their soldiers had proper winter clothing and equipment during December 1941." :)


    Ain't it the truth.

    MM
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The invasion of Norway from Apr.40 to Jun 40 hardy gives the Heer winter fighting credentials,. Norway is warmed by the Allantic current, it doesn't experience the extreme cold of the interior of Russia. It takes more than just fighting in snow .
     
  20. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... the racist ideology was essential part of Nazi Germany, and that incl Heer, so rational policy towards Slavs was out of question."

    Yep.

    MM
     
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