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Old March 29th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #1

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Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


The battle for Stalingrad is considered by many to have been the battle that decided the outcome of the Eastern Front. However, in my opinion the failure to take Moscow in the winter of 1941 was as much--if not more--significant, as deciding the outcome of the war goes.
Moscow had not only the symbolic value but was the hub of the Soviet rail /transportation system. Hitler should have taken Moscow before the Russian winter set in and before Zhukov's Siberian army could be thrown in in front of Moscow thanks to Sorge, instead of diverting the forces to take Kiev. Had he taken Moscow then, there might have been no need for the battle of Stalingrad one year later.
Please elucidite with your opinions.....
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Old March 29th, 2010, 11:16 AM   #2

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


I think there is a strong possibility that you are correct.

Who knows what would have happened if Moscow was captured in 1941? The Soviets might have asked for terms, Stalin may have been deposed, the entire nation may have collapsed. These are just a few of the possibilities. If any of these events had occured, then the entire strategic and tactical situation would have been altered for the Germans and the battle of Stalingrad might never have occured.

Of course, nothing may have changed either.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 11:26 AM   #3

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


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I think there is a strong possibility that you are correct.

Who knows what would have happened if Moscow was captured in 1941? The Soviets might have asked for terms, Stalin may have been deposed, the entire nation may have collapsed. These are just a few of the possibilities. If any of these events had occured, then the entire strategic and tactical situation would have been altered for the Germans and the battle of Stalingrad might never have occured.

Of course, nothing may have changed either.
I concur. Hitler should have concentrated on Moscow OR on Stalingrad (because of oil). His failure to concentrate his forces plus the late start and the traditional defensive capabilities of the Russian People led to the stall out in 1941. Then General Winter entered the picture.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #4

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


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Originally Posted by neofelis View Post
....the failure to take Moscow in the winter of 1941 was as much--if not more--significant, as deciding the outcome of the war goes.
You are probably correct here but Hitler doesn't seem to have agreed.

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Originally Posted by neofelis View Post
Moscow had not only the symbolic value but was the hub of the Soviet rail /transportation system. Hitler should have taken Moscow before the Russian winter set in....
True, Moscow should have been taken, but not because of any symbolic value, because of it's importance as as a transportation hub. I still haven't figured out why, in the twentieth century(and even more so nowadays), taking the capital city of an enemy state is still seen as a necessary step in conquering that enemy.

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Who knows what would have happened if Moscow was captured in 1941? The Soviets might have asked for terms, Stalin may have been deposed, the entire nation may have collapsed. These are just a few of the possibilities. If any of these events had occured, then the entire strategic and tactical situation would have been altered for the Germans and the battle of Stalingrad might never have occured.
Very true, and I will offer up for the delectation of the audience:- Stalin is deposed and replaced by (pick your candidate). The Soviet "war machine" is given carte blanche (meaning basically that the professionals are put in charge). In such a case I can't see the German offensive getting much further ar all.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #5

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


I agree, while Stalingrad gets most of the 'press', the German defeat at Moscow was a key to their ultimate defeat. The Germans never really recovered fully from the losses they suffered in their attack, and subsequent Soviet counterattack. That was part of the reason why there were Italians, Rumanians and Hungarians on their flanks at Stalingrad a year later.

As far as the impact of a German 'victory' in the attack on Moscow, that depends on when you consider the Germans capturing it. If you imagine that somehow the Germans simply did 'better' in their historical attack, and just barely managed to capture Moscow in December at the end of a logistical shoestring, then I'm not convinced that would end the campaign. In fact the Soviets likely would still have counterattacked and the Germans would have been in even more danger of being cutoff and surrounded (i.e. a 'Stalingrad' a year earlier).

On the other hand, if you consider an earlier German drive on Moscow instead of the historical turn south against Kiev, then there is the potential for a much different outcome. A capture of Moscow in Sept. would have left the Germans with more time to consolidate their position there. The loss of Moscow would have made a Soviet counterattack much more difficult. As you've mentioned, Moscow was a major communication and transportation 'hub'. With the Germans in occupation of that central position, the Soviet jump off for any counterattack would have been much more awkward. The loss of the industry in and around Moscow would have been a signficant blow as well.

Then of course there is the possible political fallout to consider. The German plans were predicated on a quick campaign resulting in a collapse of Soviet resistance. If that had in fact been achieved, the Germans would have been in an excellent position, with the opportunity to concentrate on Britain before the US became involved in Europe in a big way. Without that Soviet collapse, and with the US entering the war against them, time was very much against the Germans. Once Hitler declared war on the US, the Germans really needed the Soviets to 'collapse' sooner rather than later to have any chance to win the war.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 04:39 PM   #6

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


As Napoleon demonstrated, the capture of Moscow does not entail the defeat of Russia. A decisive blow against the Red Army may have been more effective, and Stalingrad presented that opportunity.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #7

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


There are different lists of principles of war among the armed forces of the world. But they all include something about using the utmost energy at the decisive point of attack. That is, if different lines of attack are used, they must converge on a single objective - in this case, Moscow.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #8
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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


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There are different lists of principles of war among the armed forces of the world. But they all include something about using the utmost energy at the decisive point of attack. That is, if different lines of attack are used, they must converge on a single objective - in this case, Moscow.
The biggest problems for Germany were that their attacks did not converge on single object.
The Army Group North attacked North- East with Leningrad as an objective, Army Group Center attacked toward Moscow with substational diversion South during Kiev operation, and Army Group South attacked South-East.
I never could understand this strategy.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 06:11 PM   #9
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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


Instead of widening the front and exposing the left flank of the caucasus offensive it would have made more sense to renew the attack on moscow.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #10

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Re: Stalingrad or Moscow, which was more decisive for the German defeat?


Kursk was actually more of the decisive moment of the Eastern Front, when Germany lost the initiative for the rest of the war. Moscow's capture wouldn't have mattered much, and anybody considering overthrowing Stalin was already dealt with during the Purges.
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