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Thread: Hitler’s Strategic Blunder: The Detour to Invade Yugoslavia in 1941

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haliaeetus View Post
    Taking down Moscow wouldn't change much for the partisan fighting style of the soviets. Taking Stalingrad was far more important as for it's position relative to the Russian oil reserve position.
    Fighting in Yugoslavia lasted the whole war and it did make a lot of damage to the initial plans as it did cost a lot of troops and materiel.
    If the plan was to get and hold the oil-fields of the Soviet Caucasus, why didn't the 6th Army simply bypass Staliingrad and head for the oil-fields, leaving enough forces to guard its advance from any Soviet attack? I've never really understood this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingvaeonic View Post
    If the plan was to get and hold the oil-fields of the Soviet Caucasus, why didn't the 6th Army simply bypass Staliingrad and head for the oil-fields, leaving enough forces to guard its advance from any Soviet attack? I've never really understood this.
    It was. Math is pretty simple - no energy supplies = lost war.
    As for Stalingrad itself - whoever controlled it, controlled the area around it. You cannot just make a small passage and guard it forever against enemy attacks as sooner or later enemy can group and make a powerful blow in the middle of you protected area and then you have accomplished nothing (you loose the supply, and you sacrificed your soldiers and materiel for nothing).
    If Hitler managed to take out Stalingrad, he would control the entire area around it and would have a stable supply of oil which would make the army unstoppable and also would have a bad effect on Russians as they lost the oil supply and lost a major city that happens to be named by their leader (major psychological effect!).
    Moscow and Leningrad would then be a child's play. Britain too. And Americans wouldn't dare start anything big in Europe as they'd get their asses kicked badly if they did. But still it was Japans fault for getting into conflict with America and expecting them to cry like babies after one little attack (!?), and also Japans fault for not attacking Russia from the east (Germany honored the alliance and went into war with America, while Japan did not honor it's part by declaring war on the Soviets).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haliaeetus View Post
    It was. Math is pretty simple - no energy supplies = lost war.
    As for Stalingrad itself - whoever controlled it, controlled the area around it. You cannot just make a small passage and guard it forever against enemy attacks as sooner or later enemy can group and make a powerful blow in the middle of you protected area and then you have accomplished nothing (you loose the supply, and you sacrificed your soldiers and materiel for nothing).
    If Hitler managed to take out Stalingrad, he would control the entire area around it and would have a stable supply of oil which would make the army unstoppable and also would have a bad effect on Russians as they lost the oil supply and lost a major city that happens to be named by their leader (major psychological effect!).
    Moscow and Leningrad would then be a child's play. Britain too. And Americans wouldn't dare start anything big in Europe as they'd get their asses kicked badly if they did. But still it was Japans fault for getting into conflict with America and expecting them to cry like babies after one little attack (!?), and also Japans fault for not attacking Russia from the east (Germany honored the alliance and went into war with America, while Japan did not honor it's part by declaring war on the Soviets).
    So you are saying that if the Caucasus oil-fields were to be captured and held, Stalingrad had to be taken to control its hinterland which included the Caucasian oil-fields and to advance to the Caucasian oil-fields without taking Stalingrad would have led to the 6th Army being vulnerable to a Soviet counterattack. Ok, I can see that. Question: How far were the Caucasian oil-fields from Stalingrad?

    So Japan, as a German ally, was obligated under the Anti-Comintern Pact/Tripartite Pact to go to war against the Soviet Union in 1941. And as the Japanese were so obligated it is as you say, their fault for not honouring their treaty obligations by entering the war against Soviet Russia by attacking her in the east. Hitler clearly honoured his commitment to enter the war against the United States in December 1941 as he declared war on the US on December 11, 1941. Japan clearly should have attacked the Soviet Union in the east and ensured that Stalin had to fight a two-front war.

    For the text of Hitler's speech to the Reichstag declaring war on the United States, see:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.p...99#post1059599
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingvaeonic View Post
    So you are saying that if the Caucasus oil-fields were to be captured and held, Stalingrad had to be taken to control its hinterland which included the Caucasian oil-fields and to advance to the Caucasian oil-fields without taking Stalingrad would have led to the 6th Army being vulnerable to a Soviet counterattack. Ok, I can see that. Question: How far were the Caucasian oil-fields from Stalingrad?

    So Japan, as a German ally, was obligated under the Tripartite Pact to go to war against the Soviet Union in 1941. And as the Japanese were so obligated it is as you say, their fault for not honouring their treaty obligations by entering the war against Soviet Russia by attacking her in the east. Hitler clearly honoured his commitment to enter the war against the United States in December 1941 as he declared war on the US on December 11, 1941. Japan clearly should have attacked the Soviet Union in the east and ensured that Stalin had to fight a two-front war.

    For the text of Hitler's speech to the Reichstag declaring war on the United States, see:

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.p...99#post1059599
    Doesn't matter where the oil fields are, the point is that the supply line from the oilfields into Europe is a long one and to have fortress Stalingrad infested with Soviets nearby is a very bad thing for business. And like I said beside that it would have a large hit on the Soviet moral.

  5. #15

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    Yeah...well said. Mussolini really shot Hitler in the arse with the Greek fiasco, and it was in Hitler and Germany's best interest to keep Italy out of the war completely so that a free line of foreign supply would have been available via a neutral Italy. Yugoslavia was just plain bad luck for Hitler. Poland was even more bad luck for him too, because he wanted a pre-war alliance with the Poles (a very little known fact of history) so as to more easily get at the Soviets. What Hitler didn't really know at the time, 1939, was that he was up against the clock as far as the 'a-bomb factor' went; so that's why I say there was little hope of Germany avoiding a nuclear holocaust by 1945 even if things went good against the Soviets. In my opinion, Germany was up against massive odds from the very beginning (Rommel himself would tell you the very same thing were he still here), and the international political situation in the late-1930s made things very inconvenient and difficult for the 3. Reich as far as war making went. There's way too much to type up about all of this, but I will type up one thing in conclusion: it was in nearly everybody's interest (including a whole lot of Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, Ukrainians, et al.) to wipe the Soviet Union (i.e., it's government) from the face of the earth, and it's a damned shame that not everyone was 'on the same page' about how to go about doing that.

    P.S.--imagine if Hitler had run Germany for decades (or at least well into the '50s) with no war like Franco ran Spain, imagine how different the whole world would be for us ALL! today...ponder all of that sometime.

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    I still think the turning point of the war, and Hitler's greatest strategic blunder, was in failing to cut off the British retreat at Dunkirk, and then failing to win the Battle of Britain. Gerd von Rundstedt agreed, by the way.

    Had Britain been defeated, the Suez canal would have been opened and oil could come from the middle east. With the US and Russia still neutral, the war would have been over for the time being, and Germany could have reinforced its position greatly. There would be no need of forces in North Africa to fight the British, which was certainly more of a drain on resources than the Yugoslav campaign, and at a time when those resources were desperately needed against the USSR.

    That being said, yes, having to worry about the Yugoslavs and Greece was a pain that was better left avoided. With Britain defeated, though, they would not been involved in the Mediterranean theater either, so there would have been little need to bother with Greece.

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    Hitlers blunder was to go to war with anyone.He should have taken back what was German by right and stolen off of them by the treaty of Versailles and then set about by leading by example.

    He should have understood his own historic importance and the fact that a man like him comes along once every ten thousand years and set about building a Greater Germany for Germanics with all the other corrupt and crappy regimes in Europe drooling over this great Germanic powerhouse.
    Then im sure by leading by example the rest of the Germanic European countries would have slotted into place alongside our brothers without a drop of blood being spilled.

    His blunder was not understanding his own unique place in history as Europes greatest ever son.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMN
    Historian William L. Shirer wrote, “This postponement of the attack on Russia in order that the Nazi warlord might vent his personal spite against a small Balkan country which had dared to defy him was probably the most catastrophic single decision in Hitler’s career.”
    That's simply not the case. Operation Barbarossa was not postponed in such a manner that it changed the outcome of the whole enterprise. Yugoslavia surrendered within 11 days and German casualties were less than 600 men. An overwhelming German victory considering this is an opponent of the size of Poland.

    Quote Originally Posted by DMN
    So, why did Hitler reroute vital panzer units assigned to Barbarossa for a strategic sideshow instead of securing a diplomatic solution? The truth was, he had reached a diplomatic agreement with the Yugoslavian government – and it blew up in his face.
    The article seems to blame a fit of Hitler for a supposedly unsound "detour" in Yugoslavia. But there were solid military reasons to invade Yugoslavia - because Operation Marita called for simultaneous attacks on Greece from Yugoslavia and Bulgaria - to attack across a wider front and smoothly defeat Greece with Operation Barbarossa underway - and to deny the Brits airfields in Greece to bomb the Romanian oilfields from. The Germans had permission of the Yugoslavs to use their territory to stage an invasion of Greece, until the coup, which ended the German-Yugoslav pact. Yugoslavia had a role to play in the original plan for the invasion of Greece, before becoming a target itself - to make Operation Marita possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schättenjager
    Hitler made mistake later when he dispersed forces too thinly and in effect didn't take Leningrad and Moscow.
    Thinly held fronlines are inevitable on the Eastern Front, it's not the main issue IMO. It's not why Leningrad or Moscow weren't reached or Operation Barbarossa flopped - but it is the reason why Soviet troops sometimes escaped encirclement en masse to live and fight another day, something the Germans had to avoid as much as possible.

    And even taking these cities doesn't necessarily mean the war is over although it's possible it is, and losing Moscow would've been a massive blow to the Soviets regardless. Stalin was already willing to negotiate some peace deal in July, but then the Germans would've only gained some Lebensraum light - and why would they settle for that as long as they believe they can seize all of European Russia and destroy communism? The Germans controlling Leningrad and Moscow as well as Minsk and Kiev, and with the Red Army in tatters, any kind of hypothetical armistice would've favored the Germans whether in 1941 or 1942 or 1943.

    In regard to Leningrad: The Finns could've easily taken Leningrad when they entered the war but the Finns were not as motivated for this war as for the Winter War - and the average Finnish soldier didn't care much for capturing Leningrad - their perfomance was so-so at best and hence a useful victory escaped the Axis.

    I don't think one can say that Operation Barbarossa went wrong at this point or that point, it went gradually wrong - the operation should've lasted only three months. So why is there still fighting in October despite enormous German gains?

    If the German intel on Soviet strength had been a reflection of actual Soviet strength, the war in the East just lasting 3 months is realistic. By October the Germans had destroyed more Russian divisions and material than they believed the USSR to possess or able to field.

    But the intel was deeply flawed. German intelligence understimated the amount of reserves in both men and material the Soviets could call upon and underestimated the level of resistance they would encounter. The Soviets fought fiercely and launched counter attacks continuously, even with troops which were unready for offensive operations, slowing down the Germans while inflicting irreplacable losses upon them. There were no mass surrenders outside of encircled pockets of Soviet troops the Germans had to take their time to eliminate. And these were then replaced by new armies. Something the Germans had not expected at all. Just like they didn't expect the T-34.

    Operation Barbarossa didn't so much fail due to a German strategic or operational mistake here or there (with the exception of the assault on Moscow itself - but even if successful, it could've still turned into another Stalingrad albeit a year sooner), but due to tremendous attrition and overextended supply lines - and the quality of Soviet resistance, they fought much better than the French, and in spite of all of the flaws of the (clearly inferior) Red Army and the Soviet state. As a result, somewhere between the June 22 1941 and December 5 1941, when the Soviets counterattacked around Moscow as the Germans were preparing another offensive against the Soviet capital of their own, 30 days to cut off the capital or partially/entirely conquer it before the onset of winter, were lost.

    But more importantly than that: The Red Army was not still not fully broken nor was the Soviet capacity for waging war, its industry relocated far to the east. And that was the main goal after all, it's what would allow the Germans to seize all the land to the west of the Ural mountains: the destruction of the Soviet armed forces.

    The primary blame then, lies with faulty intelligence reports but also things fully beyond control of the Germans - the Russian geography and distances could/can not be circumvented. And things partially beyond their control: such as brave Soviet resistance, despite the clear inferiority of Soviet troops until 1943 (and even afterwards). The Soviet soldier was not necessarily a good soldier, especially not early on in the war against the USSR, but he was courageous (not in the least because he was often drunk).

    Interestingly, Hitler when talking to Mannerheim in June 1942, claimed he would've invaded the USSR even if he had known the full truth about the strength of the Soviets, but he also said the truth would've shocked him and it wouldn't have been an easy decision anymore.

    “When a nation forgets her skill in war, when her religion becomes a mockery, when the whole nation becomes a nation of money-grabbers, then the wild tribes, the barbarians drive in.“ – Robert Howard

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