68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

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Karl Heidenreich
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68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:35 am

June 22nd – 19th August 1944
After studying the events that took place in 1944 I have to admit that my previous position regarding the Western Front just as a “diversion” is not entirely correct. Of course it was the Eastern Front the one that amalgamated the great mass of resources of both, the German Reich and the Soviet Empire as well as the most violent and decisive actions were there present.
Operation Overlord was, on soviet eyes, a release of pressure on their front and maybe that was how Hitler, mistakenly, regarded it. Maybe the soviets could have won the war even without the Western Front opened but that’s academic. The Germans dispose of a third of their forces in the West that, being in the East, could have avoided the soviets advance since mid 1943. Maybe not and since then the German Reich was doomed.
A direct analysis says that in June 1944 an operation took place that eclipses Overlord: Bagration. This operation is of supreme importance because it was this, and no other, the one that broke the back of the Wehrmacht. Since 1943 the soviets were pushing the Germans back, specially in the South, where a deep protuberance was formed exposing and enlarging Army Group Centre’s lines. Hitler, as usual, ordered no retreat so this Army Group was completely vulnerable to a encirclement from the soviets.
486,000 German front line soldiers plus some 400,000 support personnel had to face some 2,350,000 soviet soldiers (plus echelons of reinforcements). However the big difference was that the Germans only had 185 tanks and 337 assault guns against 2,715 tanks and 1,355 assault guns.
Whilst this operation is by far a more important one to the destruction of the nazis there are two issues that have to be considered. Maybe without Overlord the Germans could have reinforced Army Group Center and South, avoiding encirclement. And second, the soviet offensive could have not taken place without 220,000 transport vehicles plus tanks, aircraft, munitions, parts and money from the US that were vital for soviet’s success.
This is quite an interesting “what if” but in terms of real assessment such an operation as Bagration was the product of producing overwhelming odds against the German war machine. That third of forces could have done a big difference in the summer of 1944 in the East as could have been the absence of strategical logistic support from FDR to Stalin.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:58 am

I would not altogether disagree with the claim that Normandy was a diversion; it did serve as such with respect to Bagration in the sense that its approach on the 1944 calendar succeeded in drawing off a respectable number of major SS formations which had hitherto served in the East as essential fire brigades to blunt and limit Soviet offensive thrusts. Their absence from the Bagration campaign was fatal to AG Center. But that was IMO an unintentional secondary effect. The real motivation for Overlord from the point of view of the Western Allies was overwhelmingly strategic in nature - to drive Germany out of occupied Europe and ultimately overpower the German homeland.

B

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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:48 pm

Byron:
The real motivation for Overlord from the point of view of the Western Allies was overwhelmingly strategic in nature - to drive Germany out of occupied Europe and ultimately overpower the German homeland.
In which it succeded. The main German formations in the East cannot receive help from the West nor viceversa. Just an example: the Battle of the Bulge would have a very different conclusion having the Germans had some off their East formations present, which of course was impossible.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by RF » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:11 pm

The real problem for the Heer in the disastrous battles of June/July 1944 was that Hitler had deprived his army of one of its biggest attributes: its mobility. Properly commanded from the field by a seasoned commander much of the loss could have been avoided or mitigated. Another aspect contributing to the Germans logistical problems was the remaining chronic inefficiencies in armaments production - even under Speer - and low labour productivity, which prevented the Germans from increasing their firepower on the eastern front and grinding the Russians to a halt.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by RF » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:12 pm

June 22 1944 - what a date to choose for attack!
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:04 pm

RF:
June 22 1944 - what a date to choose for attack!
I didn't get it the first time I saw the date. When I posted it I realize the significance. Of course, the real significance is that it came AFTER D Day. Stalin was clever.
The real problem for the Heer in the disastrous battles of June/July 1944 was that Hitler had deprived his army of one of its biggest attributes: its mobility. Properly commanded from the field by a seasoned commander much of the loss could have been avoided or mitigated. Another aspect contributing to the Germans logistical problems was the remaining chronic inefficiencies in armaments production - even under Speer - and low labour productivity, which prevented the Germans from increasing their firepower on the eastern front and grinding the Russians to a halt.
You are correct. The Wehrmacht could have survived in a quite intact way that disastrous offensive. I checked the maps from David Glantz and it was obvious what was going to happen: the soviets got a protuberance that exposed all the southern flank of Army Group Centre. If Hitler would have been more than a corporal he would have withdrawn to a line in which the soviet attack from the South would have been imposible. The three army groups, in a shortened line and not exposing themselves, somehere in mid Poland, could have avoided destruction and halt the soviet offensive, which would have been terrible also at the West.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by RF » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:42 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:RF:
June 22 1944 - what a date to choose for attack!
I didn't get it the first time I saw the date. When I posted it I realize the significance. Of course, the real significance is that it came AFTER D Day. Stalin was clever.
Actually I was taking the anniversary date of the start of Operation Barbarossa !!!!!!!!!
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:44 am

RF:
Actually I was taking the anniversary date of the start of Operation Barbarossa !!!!!!!!!
Yes, I know! I was thinking also that Uncle Joe was clever letting the western allies to hit the beaches first and then hitting Adolf in the gut.

However this will blow your mind:

Napoleon's invasion of Russia started on June 24th, 1812.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by RF » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:46 pm

I thought it was the 22nd rather than the 24th?
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:40 am

RF:

I double checked and our Corsican Thief cross into Russia on June 24th.
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by RF » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:31 pm

I had read that the Grande Armee had crossed the Nieman on the day of the summer solstice, the 22 June 1812...... maybe my sources are wrong, but anyway they got to Moscow by the end of August. More than what Hitler achieved with his two days advantage - but at least Mr Bonaparte kept to his strategic plan, without sending his forces off at right angles before they reached their primary objective.

Now if Bonaparte had been in the Fuhrer's shoes ......
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Re: 68th anniversary of Operation Bagration.

Post by lwd » Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:32 pm

RF wrote:I had read that the Grande Armee had crossed the Nieman on the day of the summer solstice, the 22 June 1812......
Didn't they play some games with the calandar about that time? Or was that a few decades earlier? I remember that due to that Washington's birthday has some times been in dispute.

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