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  • Questions regarding the Soviets and WWII

    I have read as many pages as possible in the "Could Germany have won WWII thread" and several others, and I was wondering if those certainly wiser than myself could answer a few question for me. I completely accept the inevitable US victory because of nuclear dominance, and the inevitable victory on the eastern front because of the stated Soviet advantages. I was wondering if someone could explain to me why the Urals represented such a hurdle for the Germans. I understand the extent of the latitude and altitude such a mountain range presents, but for a non-military person as myself, was is the sheer terrain which prohibited such an adventure or were there other factors? A separate but related question I would like to ask is what the western allies could have done to diminish or perhaps mitigate the resulting Cold War which followed WWII, by actions during the war or soon thereafter. Forgive me if this has been addressed, I have tried to find opinions on this but failed to do so. I thank you for your time in responding to my questions.

  • #2
    Germany never got to the Ural.

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    • #3
      I am referring to the idea that somehow the Germans had reached the Urals. I continuously read that they were unable to cross that barrier, even assuming they could have conquered Moscow etc. I am just wondering militarily, how such a barrier prevents modern forces from advancing. I am not by any means trying to debate what was inevitable, I am trying to ask those more knowledgeable than myself how such a mountain range presents an impenetrable barrier. Is it the ability to transverse such difficult terrain and supply these forces over such inhospitable terrain? I simply do not know and was looking for an answer. I'm not trying to offer some alternative history about what could have happened. Just trying to understand the military aspects.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by briany8s View Post
        Just trying to understand the military aspects.
        The Ural Mountains extend for 1,500 miles and form a natural barrier between European Russia and Siberian Russia.



        As for the Wehrmacht, logistics alone would be a nightmare. The German military strengths were tracked vehicles and maneuverability. How well do you think those strengths would play out here...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by briany8s View Post
          I am referring to the idea that somehow the Germans had reached the Urals. I continuously read that they were unable to cross that barrier, even assuming they could have conquered Moscow etc. I am just wondering militarily, how such a barrier prevents modern forces from advancing. I am not by any means trying to debate what was inevitable, I am trying to ask those more knowledgeable than myself how such a mountain range presents an impenetrable barrier. Is it the ability to transverse such difficult terrain and supply these forces over such inhospitable terrain? I simply do not know and was looking for an answer. I'm not trying to offer some alternative history about what could have happened. Just trying to understand the military aspects.
          No geographical feature alone ,even the Himalayan mountain range if you wish, presents an impenetrable barrier if it is not manned.
          That being said , if the populations centers in front of the Urals are lost, the manpower equations would tip drastically in axis favor,
          not to mention the economic balance.

          sounds like jingoism to me. :)
          J'ai en marre.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Minskaya View Post
            The Ural Mountains extend for 1,500 miles and form a natural barrier between European Russia and Siberian Russia.



            As for the Wehrmacht, logistics alone would be a nightmare. The German military strengths were tracked vehicles and maneuverability. How well do you think those strengths would play out here...

            This makes sense. I guess my question is that certainly some passes must be available, but are they too narrow to pass or too fraught with enemy defenses? I understand its a significant barrier, but are there just so few passable regions as to render the region impassable? It would make sense that such areas provide an insurmountable advantage to the defenders, I just don't know. I'm just trying to better understand the eastern front since it seems more distant from the typical "United States won WWII" notion that is frequently found. Again, I don't wish to appear as someone advocating some potential alternative history, I am just trying to understand why certain aspects of the war were inevitable.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by briany8s View Post
              This makes sense. I guess my question is that certainly some passes must be available, but are they too narrow to pass or too fraught with enemy defenses? I understand its a significant barrier, but are there just so few passable regions as to render the region impassable? It would make sense that such areas provide an insurmountable advantage to the defenders, I just don't know. I'm just trying to better understand the eastern front since it seems more distant from the typical "United States won WWII" notion that is frequently found. Again, I don't wish to appear as someone advocating some potential alternative history, I am just trying to understand why certain aspects of the war were inevitable.
              the gap you are looking for is the Kazakhstan stepe .
              J'ai en marre.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 1979 View Post
                the gap you are looking for is the Kazakhstan stepe .
                Thank you for the information:)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by briany8s View Post
                  This makes sense. I guess my question is that certainly some passes must be available, but are they too narrow to pass or too fraught with enemy defenses? I understand its a significant barrier, but are there just so few passable regions as to render the region impassable? It would make sense that such areas provide an insurmountable advantage to the defenders, I just don't know. I'm just trying to better understand the eastern front since it seems more distant from the typical "United States won WWII" notion that is frequently found. Again, I don't wish to appear as someone advocating some potential alternative history, I am just trying to understand why certain aspects of the war were inevitable.
                  Everything of strategic importance was located in European Russia and the Caucasus region. The Urals were inconsequential.

                  As for your Urals query, an exemplar... you only have to look at the great difficulties experienced by modern well-armed Western land/air forces in rugged eastern Afghanistan for the past decade.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Minskaya View Post
                    Everything of strategic importance was located in European Russia and the Caucasus region. The Urals were inconsequential.

                    As for your Urals query, an exemplar... you only have to look at the great difficulties experienced by modern well-armed Western land/air forces in rugged eastern Afghanistan for the past decade.
                    The armament factories in the southern Urals were not void of strategic importance, but the soviets could evacuate them further east if needed. However there is a reason why they were located there, namely proximity to raw materials.

                    As for the northern Urals , the problem there is lack of suitable north to south rail connections in the 40's which would make them unsuitable to large scale operation both from defense and offense POV.
                    J'ai en marre.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 1979 View Post
                      ...but the soviets could evacuate them further east if needed.
                      Indeed. They dismantled the heavy industry in my city (Zaporozhye) and shipped it all further east in 10,000 railway cars.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 1979 View Post
                        The armament factories in the southern Urals were not void of strategic importance, but the soviets could evacuate them further east if needed. However there is a reason why they were located there, namely proximity to raw materials.

                        As for the northern Urals , the problem there is lack of suitable north to south rail connections in the 40's which would make them unsuitable to large scale operation both from defense and offense POV.
                        Logistics in the Soviet Union in the 40's were handled by rail and river. The road network was at beast seasonal. Each kilometer East stretches the Germans logisitcs capacity that much farther, especially in terms of rolling stock and the trucks (and fuel) that have to pick up the slack. German production of trucks was ignored early in the war and relied on captured stocks that presented a myriad of supply problems.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by zraver View Post
                          Logistics in the Soviet Union in the 40's were handled by rail and river.
                          Indeed. That's why the Soviets had to hold at Stalingrad. Eremenko and Stavka recognized the disaster unfolding at Stalingrad and rushed everything they could muster (even civilians manning AA guns) to the area. Zhukov, Vasilevsky, and Khrushchev were dispatched to organize its defense. The fall of Stalingrad on the Volga would sever the main river transportation artery connecting Moscow with the southern heart of its vital resources.

                          "What's the matter with them (the Red Army generals), don't they understand that if we surrender Stalingrad the south of the country will be cut off from the center and we will probably not be able to defend it. Don't they realize that this is not only a catastrophe for Stalingrad? We would lose our main waterway and soon our oil too!"
                          - A furious Stalin remonstrating on the importance of Stalingrad
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Minskaya View Post
                            The fall of Stalingrad on the Volga would sever the main river transportation artery connecting Moscow with the southern heart of its vital resources.
                            It was already severed north-south, Minskaya, quite early on - way back in July of '42. The Germans even occupied some of the west bank.

                            So the defence of Stalingrad, the build up of forces for Operation Saturn, and the transport of material between Moscow and the Caucasus all occurred without the Volga artery.

                            What the Volga did do was provide shuttle crossings (mainly during the night) from one bank to the other, a la the opening scenes of 'Enemy At The Gates'.
                            Last edited by clackers; 09 Nov 12,, 05:38.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by clackers View Post
                              It was already severed north-south, Minskaya, quite early on - way back in July of '42. The Germans even occupied some of the west bank.
                              I think you're partly mistaken here. The Germans crossed the Don River in July of 1942 and at that point the Volga was still 40 miles distant. Army Group South (B) finally reached the Volga at the end of August. However, the Luftwaffe in July had sunk 30+ ships on the Volga which effectively rendered it useless.
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