If Germany goes east in 1916 instead of attacking Verdun, just how much additional Russian territory could it realistically conquer?

Futurist

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May 2014
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If Germany goes east in 1916 instead of attacking Verdun, just how much additional Russian territory can it realistically conquer?

In 1915, Germany launched the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive in the East and was thus able to conquer Poland, Lithuania, and Courland. Between 1915 and 1917 in real life, the WWI front lines in the East remained largely stable (with the exception of the Romanian front--which became active when Romania entered the war on the Entente side in 1916):



Interestingly enough, Russia's massive loss of territory in 1915 might have ironically helped Russia by shortening its front line with Germany--thus ensuring that it would be able to hold the new front with fewer troops than were necessary to hold the old front.

What I'm curious about is this--if, instead of attacking Verdun in 1916, Germany would have went east, just how much additional Russian territory could it realistically conquer? For the record, the logic behind further German conquests in the East in 1916 would be to deprive Russia of potential manpower as well as industry and resources.

Anyway, any thoughts on this? Also, would it have been smarter for Germany to expand into Ukraine, into the northern Baltics (to aim for St. Pete's), or to simultaneously do both of these things?
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
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If Germany goes east in 1916 instead of attacking Verdun, just how much additional Russian territory can it realistically conquer?
Well WHo stops teh British AND French on the Somme then? (without Verdun it was to mainly a French offensive!)

After thr Russian executed their Great retreat, I would think the German logistical network was over stretched until they converrted the rails and stuff. It made the German supply lines longer.
 

Futurist

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May 2014
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Well WHo stops teh British AND French on the Somme then? (without Verdun it was to mainly a French offensive!)
Germany still gets to play defense in the West.

After thr Russian executed their Great retreat, I would think the German logistical network was over stretched until they converrted the rails and stuff. It made the German supply lines longer.
How long would it take the Germans to convert the rails to their own gauge?
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
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Germany still gets to play defense in the West.
Fighting the French at Verdun and the British on Somme took a lot of soldiers. If large amounts of forces are transferred east, the German run of troops and the becomes a "breakthrough". Withteh More experinced and better organized French in 1916 (Compared to the British New Kitchener's Army) stopping the allied offensive is going to require a lot of troops.

Allied strategy was offensive on all fronts so the central powers could not focus on one power and pick them off.

How long would it take the Germans to convert the rails to their own gauge?
Dunno. un-Grounded speculation.
 
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sparky

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Jan 2017
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Germany could have taken the defensive , avoiding violent counterattacks , stepping back when the pressure was too high until the Rhine
for the allied it would a have taken years , millions of lives an a mountain of money

meanwhile in the East there would have been no major problem for the Imperial Army to conquer everything West of the Volga
all the armament industry was in Petrograd , Moscow Tula , izvietsk
Ukraine could and was taken
Ukraine and the Caucasus were occupied by German forces once the Czarist state destroyed itself
Nicholas II was useless and the generals with a few rare exceptions were incompetent
for the soldiers , there was no hatred of Germans who had a pretty good reputation of discipline and behavior
they kept their contempt and anger for their own officers
 
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Futurist

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meanwhile in the East there would have been no major problem for the Imperial Army to conquer everything West of the Volga
Logistics?

Fighting the French at Verdun and the British on Somme took a lot of soldiers. If large amounts of forces are transferred east, the German run of troops and the becomes a "breakthrough". Withteh More experinced and better organized French in 1916 (Compared to the British New Kitchener's Army) stopping the allied offensive is going to require a lot of troops.

Allied strategy was offensive on all fronts so the central powers could not focus on one power and pick them off.

Dunno. un-Grounded speculation.
Didn't the Verdun fiasco cause a lot of German soldiers to get needlessly slaughtered, though? As in, wouldn't a more economical use of these German soldiers have been to either play defense in the West or to go on the offensive in the East?
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
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Logistics?
Lack of Manpower.

Didn't the Verdun fiasco cause a lot of German soldiers to get needlessly slaughtered, though? As in, wouldn't a more economical use of these German soldiers have been to either play defense in the West or to go on the offensive in the East?
Both the Somme and Verdun were heavy attritional battles with both sides losing about the same amount of men. If Verdun does not happen the French half of the Somme does. With much the same reuslts. the Entente loses 900,000 the Germans 900,000 casualties or so, and the Germans cannot afford it.
 
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sparky

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a lot of the German losses during the Somme were due to stubborn counterattacks
a more economical and judicious strategy would be to trade a few hundred meters of front for a few ten of thousands allied soldiers lives
at this rate the Rhine banks would be reached once the allies had lost ten millions men
as for the logistic of Germans troops in Russia ,it would be a railway problem not really insurmountable
the fall of the Baltic area would simplifies things a lot
 
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Nov 2019
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I have a lot of mixed feelings on this thread, but one point not mentioned here is the status of the largest contingent on the Eastern front for the Axis, and that would be the Austrians. They are already stretched by the addition of the Italians to the Entente. There are many more problems in this mix than first is obvious.
 
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sparky

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true , the Austrian Empire not only was a dead weight militarily but was desagregating fast under the pressure of war
however they were holding good on the narrow mountainous Italian front and never broke there ( shades of Churchill soft under-belly fantasies )
a strong offense by the Germans on the Eastern front would assuage a lot of their stress
they could be used on the less difficult part of the theater and as occupation duties , some kind of filling rather than military crust
 
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