This is my second game (the first was against AI).
As I will publish only facts which are outdated in our ongoing game, Alex can read and write here as he likes. Maybe he will contribute his side of the ongoing fighting.
The German plan I try to implement in the beginning is based on proposals laid out by the German Generals Reinhardt and Nehring after the war, for instance in Nehrings book ‘History of the German Panzer weapon’)
The Prolog is fictional.
Suggestions, critics, comments by anyone are very welcome.
Please take into consideration that I am not a native English speaker, so there may be a lot of language errors. I apologize for that.
It is the beautiful morning of March 22 of 1941. Generaloberst Halder, Chief of the General Staff of the Army (Oberkommando des Heeres, OKH) enters his office in the “Maybach 1” facilities at Zossen, near Berlin.
His aide Hauptmann von Bülow awaits him, holding a paper in his left hand.
He clicks his heels, greets militarily: “Good morning, Herr Generaloberst.”
“Morning, Bülow. What is it? There must be something important.” He points towards the paper.
“Von Manstein, Sir. A position paper…”
“A position paper of the coming Eastern front. Manstein wrote an exposé of his differing views.”
Halder takes a deep breath. He looks at von Bülow.
Finally he says: “Manstein again! Like 1939 when he presented his “differing views” of the offensive plan against France.
I wonder if he’s not afraid of getting an Infantry Corps again, like 1940?
“This time it’s different, Sir”, von Bülow dissents.
“It’s the whole gang of Heeresgruppe Mitte and almost all leaders of the Panzertruppe, with the one exception von Kleist. They all support Mansteins view and signed the Memorandum.”
Halder can not conceal his astonishment, pauses, looks out of the window, looks at von Bülow again.
“It’s too late for differing views. We cannot postpone the date of Barbarossa. The machine is running already.
What does he want?”
“Manstein argues that the essence of tank warfare lays in gathering momentum by concentration of forces. It is a wrong approach to split the Panzers into 4 columns and spread them along the whole Eastern Front. There is the danger of loosing momentum everywhere, and failing everywhere.
Manstein quotes Clausewitz: ‚Who wants to defend everything, defends nothing.’
Which means in our case: Who wants to take all objectives equally and simultaneously, has no objectives at all, and could fail everywhere.“
“A-ha.” Halder nods sarcastically.
“So I am the fool who has no objectives at all. Just using brute force. And he’s the genius who knows better.
Does he know that it’s the Fuhrer who wants us to take out Leningrad, but also to take out the Crimea as soon as possible, and Moscow too, everything as soon as possible…?
So it’s the Fuhrers directive we followed when we planned our 3 axes of advance.
So let me see who wants to join the Fronde against the Fuhrer.”
Von Bülow looks at the last page of the Memorandum:
“Bock, Guderian, Hoth, Höpner, Reinhardt, Geyr, Wietersheim, Vietinghoff, Mackensen, Kempf, Kluge, Rundstedt…”
Halder laughs. He has found his good humour again:
“Even Kluge joins the party, surprising, did he sign before or after Guderian? And Rundstedt! Old warhorse Rundstedt agrees? That must be a marvellous plan!
What exactly can we do now, at this late stage of preparations, to come to the needed ‘momentum’?
And even more important: Who will convince the Fuhrer of the changes?”
Von Bülow: “Second question is short and easy to answer. They suggest that the Chief of General Staff should communicate the paper to the Fuhrer. That’s you, Herr Generaloberst.”
Von Bülow smiles at Halder.
Halder looks at von Bülow. These young aristocratic officers have a self-confidence and rhetoric elegance he can not cope with. “True, Bülow. That’s me. At least, for the time being.”
Halder knows that Bülow knows that Halder has planned to kill the Fuhrer several times. Halder has said several times since 1938 to the group of conspirators in the General Staff: ‘We have to shoot the mad dog’.
And now his duty should be to change the Fuhrers mind, to eliminate his interferences, for a better chance of success in the Fuhrers attack of Stalins army?
“What exactly does Manstein propose?”
Von Bülow stiffens, then recites in short and clear phrases, as any member of the German General Staff is trained to do:
“After a first, deadly thrust of Panzergruppe Kleist - the Lviv pocket- , only one motorized corps stays in the South, as spearhead for the infantry Armies.
Bluff the enemy into German strength in the South.
Reach the Dnjepr if possible.
If things go very well, take the Crimea, as the Fuhrer finds it necessary.”
He coughs slightly and pauses, implying that the Crimea is not a real goal in Mansteins plan at all. It is merely mentioned to gull the Fuhrer.
Von Bülow continues:
“Hopners Panzergruppe at Army Group North gets a third motorized Corps, from Kleists Panzergruppe.
Objective: Leningrad. It must fall quickly.
Panzergruppe Hoth of Army Group Center also gets a third motorized Corps, again from Kleist.
Objective: Fast advance to the area Vitebsk, Velikie Luki and Rshew, together with Panzergruppe Guderian. Threaten Moscow from Northwest and secure the right flank of Hopner.
The infantry Armies of Army Group Center reach and hold the Dnjepr line.
After the fall of Leningrad, the three Panzer Groups take Moscow from the Northwest.
After the fall of Moscow, they roll south to unhinge the Soviet Dnjepr line. If Stalin is mad enough to hold, they will create a pocket from Tula to Rostow.
If he withdraws his troops, they follow and beat them on the run.
That’s the plan.”
“What about the supply situation? Is it possible to supply three Panzer Armies that concentrate in the wilderness at Velikie Luki and Rshew?”
Von Bülow shrugs:
“It is not possible – if they get into a battle of attrition.
The idea is that they will fight it through in a Blitz against weak forces.
Concentration plus speed creates momentum, which acts like a snowball effect for the strength ratio in our favour. The Panzer strategy, as laid out by Guderian in theory, and as practised in the West 1940.
“Well, Bülow, then would you be so kind and make an appointment for me at ‘Maybach 2’ for, let’s say, this afternoon, if possible. Tell them it’s very urgent.
I am really curious how the OKW staff and the Fuhrer will respond to this development of affairs.”
Von Bülow clicks his heels and greets militarily: “Melde mich ab, Herr Generaloberst.”