1942: a minor deviation to our timeline

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1942: a minor deviation to our timeline

Post by Thorfinn Karlsefni on Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:41 pm

After the fall of Voronezh on the eastern side of the Don River (July 6, 1942), Hitler realizes he's getting plenty of oil for his panzers from Romania, and there's no need to go after the Caucasus oil fields. With Japan faltering in the Pacific in the wake of their horrific defeat off Midway a month earlier, Hitler decides to go for the knockout blow against Moscow this year! 4th Panzer army is ordered to attack north instead of south, and all the other forces are instructed to shift northward to cover their flanks and rear as they lead the drive on Moscow.

All the wasteful, time-consuming redeployments of the summer of 1942 are avoided. 6th Army follows 4th Panzer Army northward, supporting them instead of driving eastward into the bend of the Don and getting their lines of march tangled up as 4th Panzer Army drove southward to begin the Caucasus offensive. German Army Groups A and B are never split into two and tasked with capturing two unrelated objectives. Instead, all forces turn northward. Moscow will be flanked on the east and then beseiged!

2nd Army advances on Tula, west of the Don Valley. They reach the outskirts by mid July, only to find the city heavily fortified.
4th Panzer Army, with 6th Army in support, advances northward along both sides of the Don River approaching its headwaters, and then continue northward east of Stalinogorsk and west of Ryazan. By late July they are on the Oka River, where Stalin has ordered extensive fortifications on the north bank, blocking the German advance on Moscow.
1st Panzer Army crosses the Don below Voronezh and advances northward covering 6th Army's right flank. They are heavily counter-attacked, but continue to make progress. By the end of July they have taken Ryazhsk and their lead elements have even advanced to the heights overlooking the Oka River at its southernmost bend.
17th Army advances northward in direct support of 1st Panzer Army, helping clear pockets of Soviet resistance left behind by the blitzing panzers.
11th Army is shifted northward from the Krimea to cover the Donetsk Basin area.
Romanian, Hungarian and Italian troops are tasked with setting up defensive positions facing eastward to protect the rear of 17th Army, and 11th Army's left flank facing toward the bend of the Don.

After fruitlessly counterattcking the Germans' right flank, Stalin quickly amasses most of the Red Army around Moscow's southern, eastern and wester approaches. He knows he must keep his supply lines open, so he prepares massive defenses along the north bank of the Oka River, about 50 miles south of Moscow at its closest, and extending southeastward from there. During early August the Germans come up against this line and are simply unable to break it.

After four months of fighting, Tula and Ryazan have fallen, but the Oka line holds. With another winter descending, Moscow remains safe, and the Americans have shown up at last, entering North Africa in Rommel's rear and threatening Italy!

The war is turning in favor of the Allies, just as in our our timeline. However, without the overextended lines leading off into the Mountainous country between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the Wermacht's position in Russia is relatively compact and defensible. No Stalingrad, or Stalingrad-like battle ensues. The Red Army, gradually becoming stronger as the transplanted industries beyond the Ural Mountains ramp up production and American Lend-Lease aid arrives in increasing quantities, hammers away at the German positions southest of Moscow. By the Spring of 1943, the Germans have pulled back to fortified positions of their own, but remain frustratingly close to Moscow. Over the next 8 months, Armored offensives and counteroffensives will take place on a bigger and bigger scale, eventually eclipsing Kursk. Time and again, air superiority will determine the ultimate outcome of battles in which heavy tanks are vulnerable to attack under sunny summer skies. But by the Autumn of 1943, neither side will have gained a strategic advantage.

Slowly, as the Western Allies advance into Italy, the Eastern Front will take on less significance in Hitler's mind, and he will redeploy significant forces away from Russia. The drained and outnumbered Wermacht will begin a grudging series of retreats that will eventually see them give up all the ground they won in the first two years of the war in Russia. However, no decisive defeat will occur. By mid 1945, the Western Allies reach Berlin and Hitler fights to the death. But the Red Army never enters Germany, as the lack of a Stalingrad style victory leaves them about a year behind the advances made in our timeline.

The Result? No East and West split in Germany, or down the middle of Europe. No "Iron Curtain" isolates Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland from Western Europe. No Warsaw Pact is formed, and Russia is unable to sustain a Cold War on its own. Communism quietly recedes into the background of global geopolitics, Stalin's brand of Marxism becomes just another nationalist political movement without wider appeal. Until five years later when Mao Zedong revives the philosophy of a global revolution with his stunning victory in China - delayed a year because of the more limited aid the weaker USSR is able to provide.

What is the eventual outcome? Is this better in the end? Or does nationalist Communism become more entrenched, and a less intense Cold War continue to this day?
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Thorfinn Karlsefni
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