Without Hitler's halt order near Moscow in December 1941, would the German defeat at Moscow have been much more crushing?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,197
SoCal
#1
Without Hitler's halt order near Moscow in December 1941, would the German defeat at Moscow have been much more crushing? Also, if so, what would the effects of this have been?
 
Jul 2016
9,680
USA
#2
That order was for the entire Ostfront, not just the 4th Panzer Army closing on Moscow.

The Ostheer had already reached their culmination point, pushed beyond the point they could sustain offensive momentum. Red Army resistance had stiffened, German supplies were far below sustainable levels, and the weather was horrible.

When Zhulov's counter offensive started, it caused extreme chaos and fear among Axis forces, to include field generals, who took counsel of their fear and wanted to immediately retreat to somewhere they could form a coherent defensive line. However, that was the wrong answer. Between their supply situation, the weather, and resistance, any form of maneuver warfare would likely have been catastrophic.

As it was, pretty much all German front line positions were based out of villages or other structures. That meant that many of their positions weren't out in the snow, and at least men could be rotated in to warmer cellars, while using ransacked clothing to bundle up (since most hadn't any issue cold weather clothing yet).

Meanwhile, the Red Army on the attack, were the ones completely exposed. And while many were better acclimatized and better dressed for cold weather, they were not immune, and so they suffered horribly.

Because of Stalin's foolish insistence on a full counteroffensive across the entire Eastern Front, instead of one localized attack to fully relieve the Moscow area, the Red Army had a major problem capitalizing on any ground they retook. They were poorly supplied, couldn't support sustained operations (it would be years before they could really manage that).

That weakness allowed the German hedgehogs, company and battalion sized defensive positions based in villages, to survive despite often being surrounded. While their supply lines would be temporarily cut off, the Red Army was rarely able to permanently block them, and so the Germans survived while the Red Army broke themselves.

Overall, I'd say that Hitler got lucky. Had Stalin done what Zhukov wanted, they could have prioritized manpower and supplies for an attack against Army Group Center alone, and the hedgehogs might not have survived. Instead, they tried to do too little with too few.

Massing is a principle of warfare for a reason.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,197
SoCal
#3
That order was for the entire Ostfront, not just the 4th Panzer Army closing on Moscow.

The Ostheer had already reached their culmination point, pushed beyond the point they could sustain offensive momentum. Red Army resistance had stiffened, German supplies were far below sustainable levels, and the weather was horrible.

When Zhulov's counter offensive started, it caused extreme chaos and fear among Axis forces, to include field generals, who took counsel of their fear and wanted to immediately retreat to somewhere they could form a coherent defensive line. However, that was the wrong answer. Between their supply situation, the weather, and resistance, any form of maneuver warfare would likely have been catastrophic.

As it was, pretty much all German front line positions were based out of villages or other structures. That meant that many of their positions weren't out in the snow, and at least men could be rotated in to warmer cellars, while using ransacked clothing to bundle up (since most hadn't any issue cold weather clothing yet).

Meanwhile, the Red Army on the attack, were the ones completely exposed. And while many were better acclimatized and better dressed for cold weather, they were not immune, and so they suffered horribly.

Because of Stalin's foolish insistence on a full counteroffensive across the entire Eastern Front, instead of one localized attack to fully relieve the Moscow area, the Red Army had a major problem capitalizing on any ground they retook. They were poorly supplied, couldn't support sustained operations (it would be years before they could really manage that).

That weakness allowed the German hedgehogs, company and battalion sized defensive positions based in villages, to survive despite often being surrounded. While their supply lines would be temporarily cut off, the Red Army was rarely able to permanently block them, and so the Germans survived while the Red Army broke themselves.

Overall, I'd say that Hitler got lucky. Had Stalin done what Zhukov wanted, they could have prioritized manpower and supplies for an attack against Army Group Center alone, and the hedgehogs might not have survived. Instead, they tried to do too little with too few.

Massing is a principle of warfare for a reason.
Are you calling Germans hedgehogs here because they're hiding and playing defense?

Also, what would the aftermath of a successful Soviet attack exclusively on the German Army Group Center have been? Would this have been such a devastating blow for Hitler's prestige that internal anti-Nazis would have immediately tried to assassinate him?
 
Jul 2016
9,680
USA
#4
Are you calling Germans hedgehogs here because they're hiding and playing defense?

Also, what would the aftermath of a successful Soviet attack exclusively on the German Army Group Center have been? Would this have been such a devastating blow for Hitler's prestige that internal anti-Nazis would have immediately tried to assassinate him?
They called them hedgehogs. They were 360 degree defended resistance positions. Not part of a larger line. If they got surrounded it only mattered if supply convoys couldn't fight their way to the hedgehogs, at which point they'd start running low on ammo and food, or fuel, if they're a armor unit.

I have no idea what would happen to Hitler if AGM got hit hard. Nobody else would either. For all we know Hitler would implant his head into a cyborg body with minigun arms to protect himself.
 
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