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Books Pass-along and Discussion

Article about: Brian (Octavian) and I (drmessimer) want to start a thread that is essentially a round-robin book-read and book-discussion thread. The idea is that you send a Forum member a book that you ha

  1. #31

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Great review Mads, it sounds like an interesting read.

    I've always heard that Hitler and Stalin saw Stalingrad as a symbolic city, which is why they concentrated so much effort in controlling it. To Hitler, Stalingrad was the manifestation of Communism - the trophy of Stalin. Does Beevor's book show any evidence of other Germans or even Soviets seeing Stalingrad in this kind of symbolic way?

  2. #32

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Corey, yes it certainly does. Stalin refused to retreat to the east side of the Volga even though it would have saved thousands and thousands of lifes. He even rejected evacuation of the civilians because he thought that the soldiers would fight better if defending a "living" city than a dead city.

    Hitler on the other hand was at the beginning more focused on seizing the Caucasus oilfields straight away, despite that Stalingrad before the launch of the offensive was pointed out by his generals as the major strategic goal that would cut the connection to Caucasus and rob the Russians of the majority of their oil.
    However when Hitler recognised the the emphasis Stalin put into holding the city at all costs, he changed his objectives (again). The symbolic value of the city in combinaton with Hitler's "no step back" policy was probably the reasons why the 6th army wasnt allowed to attempt to breakout while still having a fair chance.

    There is no doubt that this battle was the turning point of the war, as the Russians got the chance to seize the initiative on the whole ostfront and consequently got a massive morale boost.

  3. #33

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    After i read THE RETREAT. I tend to think now the war was lost after 1941 during that brutal winter. Over 1 million German casualties and untold amounts of equipment destroyed. I had no idea the Germans lost that many troops in the winter of '41.

  4. #34

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Octavian, it really is a shocking number, probably many of them froze to death.

    For Germany to win the war against Soviet they would have had to finish the Russians off before the mud season and latest before the winter, as they had made no plans for a prolonged war.

    I've read that the generals saw Moscow as the main objective that would make the Soviet collapse, while Hitler's objectives were Leningrad (for symbolic reasons), Ukraine for crops and the Caucasus for the oil.
    Does the "Retreat" mention how Hitler directed large parts of Armeegruppe Mitte towards Leningrad and the Ukraine just before the battle for Moscow?

  5. #35

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    It is very interesting about the civilians and Stalin's stubbornness. Do you think Beevor is critical of Stalin's decision to hold Stalingrad? It cost thousands of lives, civilians and military, unnecessarily. At the same time, it turned out to be a huge victory and arguably the greatest decision of the entire war.


  6. #36

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    I think Beevor was objective in his critique of Stalingrad. He is well known for going with only facts. Fact was Stalin would never evacuate civilians from Stalingrad or many other cities. Those caught on the front lines were thrown in the mix.

  7. #37

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    Yeah Shad,

    Army Group Center was poised north of Moscow. At the last minute some units were sent north, (not to Leningrad). Some town in between Leningrad and Moscow. This through the German command into a fit, because they knew they needed every unit available to them to assault Moscow. By the time reinforcements came from Leningrad, the Battle of Moscow had turned into a disaster.

  8. #38

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    First off, let me say that Shadwellarmy/Mads' review of Stalingrad was excellent, and this thread is developing into an interesting discussion. The issue of stubbornness has been raised. Hitler, Stalin, and Churchill all exhibited stubbornness in the face of defeat. But to what degree did it really affect the outcome? In the long haul, Hitler's stubbornness accounted only for catastrophic losses and defeat. But Stalin's and Churchill's paid off with ultimate victory. Why did stubbornness work for two and fail for one? There is a dynamic in battle at the tactical level and a different dynamic at the strategic level. It seems to me, that while Élan and might carry the day in a tactical sense, industrial capacity and geographic space, which the Soviets had, and human resources, which the Soviets also had, are the factors that defeated the Germans on the Eastern Front. Until America's entry into the war, Churchill lacked the human resources, but he had the space and the industrial capacity with America's backing. But Germany, even under the Nazis, had neither. It seems to me, that while stubbornness might prevail at the tactical level, it isn't always an attribute for leaders at the strategic level. Stubborn national leaders need three things for their stubbornness to prevail--superior numbers, a vaster industrial capacity with the required raw materials resources, and space. Dwight

  9. #39

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    I agree with you gentlemen concerning Beevor's book on Stalingrad. Read it myself many years back. Mistakes were made By both German and Russian high commands during the conflict but one wonders if the outcome would have been different had the German forces had Manstein as Commander in Chief East as was suggested at one stage. Granted the resources were limited but superior german tactics early in the war could have made a difference. Just a thought.

  10. #40

    Default Re: Books Pass-along and Discussion

    When Hitler split Army Group South, part to the Caucasus and the other to Stalingrad, the operation fizzled out. Imagine what would have occurred if Army Group South hit Stalingrad with its full force? I know.. I know... What ifs. But think of this. The Germans pushed the Soviet front to the River Volga. Only a few hundred meters kept the German at bay in some pockets of Stalingrad. If the Soviets were pushed across the Vistula in masse, the Soviet setback would have been a full fledged Route. Operation Uranus and its grand ideas would be only a pipe dream. The oil fields of the Caucasus' would have been the German reward. Industrial might in the Soviet South Sector could have been dealt a deathblow.

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