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Old January 27th, 2015, 04:32 AM   #1
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Was the Wehrmacht's Operation Blue a good idea?


Was the Wehrmacht's drive towards the Caucasus and its oil fields a feasible plan? Should the Germans have gone ahead with it? If it wasn't a viable idea to attempt the summer offensive into the Caucasus then what should the Germans have done against the Soviet Union strategy wise?

Go on a mobile defense all across the eastern front? Launch an offensive somewhere else?
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Old January 27th, 2015, 04:59 AM   #2
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It was an ambitious yet fruitless plan, and one that was poorly executed as well. I mean the strategic blunder of securing the flank of the 6th army with satellite Axis troops was really inexplicable. The Germans should have realised that penetrating the mountainous Caucasus was not going to be easy, and that the Soviets might destroy the oil fields rather than let the Germans capture them, which in fact the Soviets did, destroying some oil fields. Hitler's idiotic "no retreat" order defies reason. One doesn't have to study at a military academy in order to realise that pulling back an army that is about to be encircled by a strong force is the best option available to a military commander in all situations. But that thick-headed corporal just couldn't grasp it.

The German should have resumed the march towards Moscow, IMHO.

Last edited by Kartir; January 27th, 2015 at 05:01 AM.
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Old January 27th, 2015, 05:01 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Cmyers1980 View Post
Was the Wehrmacht's drive towards the Caucasus and its oil fields a feasible plan? Should the Germans have gone ahead with it? If it wasn't a viable idea to attempt the summer offensive into the Caucasus then what should the Germans have done against the Soviet Union strategy wise?

Go on a mobile defense all across the eastern front? Launch an offensive somewhere else?
In my opinion (rather subjective) whatever they and/or whereever they did it. Our people were so furious at that time that Nazists would be defeated by any means and cost.
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Old January 27th, 2015, 06:47 AM   #4

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Blue was a foolish and reckless idea by any means...

Had they won...

1) The would have extended the Eastern front further East with a longer line, spreading out what few troops they had removing any real hope of having any reserves. In fact Blue used up the German reserves and stretched things to the point where Axis satellite nations had to go from reserve and auxiliary positions to major front line service. And when the Soviets did counter attack in history, it was these units that they attacked first... so even with a German victory in Blue, there wouldn't be enough German troops to man the entire length of the Eastern Front and they would have to rely on Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Slovaks, and Romanians to shoulder the same amount of work the Germans were doing on the front...

2) They wouldn't necessarily gain extra oil immediately. The Germans, in history, did approach one of the Caucasian Oil Wells and found it destroyed by the Soviets to prevent the Germans from getting it. It is therefore safe to assume that the Soviets would have made an attempt to destroy the others if the Germans approached them. This would mean even with a victory, if the oil fields were destroyed, the Germans would have to invest time, effort, and money into an infrastructure project while simultaneously holding the area militarily. Which would mean it'd take time to get any Soviet oil ready to ship... And that assumes that the Axis has the tanker ships available to carry the load that would come out of the Caucasus.

3) They would open another front that they would have to defend or fight on. Britain had interests in the Middle East and a German victory would surely bring British troops into Iraq and Iran to attack into the region from the South... or the Wehrmacht would be encouraged to attack into Iran and Iraq from the north in an effort to help Rommel who was stuck in Egypt facing a much larger and well entrenched British force at El Alamein in Egypt. This would weaken the Eastern Front and would remove critically needed German forces to either defend the Caucasus or attack into another expansive land area that Germany simply did not have the men to do...

4) A German victory would not have necessarily forced a Soviet surrender. In history, much of the advance in Blue was due to the fact that much of the Red Army at the start of the battle was closer to Moscow expecting a repeat of Operation Typhoon. The attack toward Stalingrad caught them by surprise... and the Red Army, even if the had lost at Stalingrad, would still have powerful formations along stretches of the Eastern Front stretching from Moscow to southern Russia. And unless they all decided to turn on Stalin, it's unlikely that there would be a Soviet surrender. In fact, one could very well see the Soviets regroup and launch a Second Battle of Stalingrad to try and retake the city and remove the Germans from the region...

The fact that a German victory would have raised these issues would not have made their overall strategic position better demonstrates the failings of launching the plan in the first place. Why commit to a big push that has the potential to weaken your position when you'll likely have to commit another big push even if you win?
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Old January 29th, 2015, 07:48 AM   #5

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There is no militarily viable option of winning WWII so long as Nazis are in command of the German state. The only viable approach is an extension of what worked in WWI: local offensives and undermining the state via divide and conquer. That option requires a complete inversion of what Hitler did, and would at least address some of the logistical factors that handicapped Barbarossa, Typhoon, and Blue.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 04:18 AM   #6

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I think Blue would've stood a chance had Adolf not been so obsessed with taking Stalingrad for political reasons. In September '42 it was suggested that Stalingrad be masked rather than taken. It had already been taken in the "originally intended strategic sense"--it had ceased to function as an armament production center and Soviet traffic on the Volga was shut off by the guns of 16th panzer at Rynok.
Had the troops thrown into the Stalingrad inferno been used to to guard the Don flank instead, they might've held it, while other forces pressed forward to Baku via the Caucasus. Maybe Army group A could've done the latter given supply priority, while B focused on just shutting the oil flow to the Soviet forces via the Volga and guarding the Don flank. That may not have forced Soviet capitulation but without oil all their military output and lend lease supplies wouldn't have been of much use so they'd probably have to come to terms.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 05:10 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
Blue was a foolish and reckless idea by any means...

Had they won...

1) The would have extended the Eastern front further East with a longer line, spreading out what few troops they had removing any real hope of having any reserves. In fact Blue used up the German reserves and stretched things to the point where Axis satellite nations had to go from reserve and auxiliary positions to major front line service. And when the Soviets did counter attack in history, it was these units that they attacked first... so even with a German victory in Blue, there wouldn't be enough German troops to man the entire length of the Eastern Front and they would have to rely on Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Slovaks, and Romanians to shoulder the same amount of work the Germans were doing on the front...

2) They wouldn't necessarily gain extra oil immediately. The Germans, in history, did approach one of the Caucasian Oil Wells and found it destroyed by the Soviets to prevent the Germans from getting it. It is therefore safe to assume that the Soviets would have made an attempt to destroy the others if the Germans approached them. This would mean even with a victory, if the oil fields were destroyed, the Germans would have to invest time, effort, and money into an infrastructure project while simultaneously holding the area militarily. Which would mean it'd take time to get any Soviet oil ready to ship... And that assumes that the Axis has the tanker ships available to carry the load that would come out of the Caucasus.

3) They would open another front that they would have to defend or fight on. Britain had interests in the Middle East and a German victory would surely bring British troops into Iraq and Iran to attack into the region from the South... or the Wehrmacht would be encouraged to attack into Iran and Iraq from the north in an effort to help Rommel who was stuck in Egypt facing a much larger and well entrenched British force at El Alamein in Egypt. This would weaken the Eastern Front and would remove critically needed German forces to either defend the Caucasus or attack into another expansive land area that Germany simply did not have the men to do...

4) A German victory would not have necessarily forced a Soviet surrender. In history, much of the advance in Blue was due to the fact that much of the Red Army at the start of the battle was closer to Moscow expecting a repeat of Operation Typhoon. The attack toward Stalingrad caught them by surprise... and the Red Army, even if the had lost at Stalingrad, would still have powerful formations along stretches of the Eastern Front stretching from Moscow to southern Russia. And unless they all decided to turn on Stalin, it's unlikely that there would be a Soviet surrender. In fact, one could very well see the Soviets regroup and launch a Second Battle of Stalingrad to try and retake the city and remove the Germans from the region...

The fact that a German victory would have raised these issues would not have made their overall strategic position better demonstrates the failings of launching the plan in the first place. Why commit to a big push that has the potential to weaken your position when you'll likely have to commit another big push even if you win?
On the flip side, taking the oil regions would have severely impacted the Soviet ability to wage modern warfare. While the US could export oil it would have been difficult to export oil to the USSR AND Britain at the same time and fuel the buildup for the invasion of Europe. That might have been sufficient break for the Germans to consolidate their gains and potentially come to a negotiated settlement.
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Old January 30th, 2015, 10:22 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by zincwarrior View Post
On the flip side, taking the oil regions would have severely impacted the Soviet ability to wage modern warfare. While the US could export oil it would have been difficult to export oil to the USSR AND Britain at the same time and fuel the buildup for the invasion of Europe. That might have been sufficient break for the Germans to consolidate their gains and potentially come to a negotiated settlement.
The key word is "might" and is still assuming that the Germans are willing to accept a negotiated settlement... or that at the same time his opposition is willing to negotiate in the immediate aftermath...
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Old January 30th, 2015, 10:32 AM   #9

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The key word is "might" and is still assuming that the Germans are willing to accept a negotiated settlement... or that at the same time his opposition is willing to negotiate in the immediate aftermath...
I'm not disagreeing with you on that.

I'm just noting that the Soviets were in full retreat through most of 1942. If the Soviets don't have access to their oil reserves, or if the Germans in turn smash it as the Soviets would have, puts the Soviets in severe difficulty. Like the Germans a few years later, they will have problems runnning their war machine.

It also might have the Japanese to begin their own invasion out of Manchuria or otherwise aid in blocking oil shipments. Regardless it presents a much more desperate paradigm for the Allies (at least until they get the Bomb in quantities).

Watching the butterfly effect here, could it be said the German defeat at Stalingrad insured that Berlin and the other major cities didn't become radioactive wastelands?
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Old January 30th, 2015, 03:29 PM   #10
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I'm not disagreeing with you on that.

I'm just noting that the Soviets were in full retreat through most of 1942. If the Soviets don't have access to their oil reserves, or if the Germans in turn smash it as the Soviets would have, puts the Soviets in severe difficulty. Like the Germans a few years later, they will have problems runnning their war machine.

It also might have the Japanese to begin their own invasion out of Manchuria or otherwise aid in blocking oil shipments. Regardless it presents a much more desperate paradigm for the Allies (at least until they get the Bomb in quantities).

Watching the butterfly effect here, could it be said the German defeat at Stalingrad insured that Berlin and the other major cities didn't become radioactive wastelands?
I'm not sure the Japanese ever had the resources to mount an offensive through Manchuria. But surely not at any point in 1942.
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