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Author Topic: Hitler's Strategy...  (Read 1196 times)
Gargantua
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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2012, 02:01:05 pm »
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I find it amusing that a dude name "morrel" is commenting on Hitler's Strategy lol.
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morrel
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2012, 03:09:11 pm »
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it's nice to make people smile Smiley
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Clyde85
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2012, 05:40:41 pm »
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German tanks were better then many of the more numerious Soviet tanks at the time they invaded. Most of the Soviet Tank forces at the time of invasion were made up of BT-5, T-26 and T-28's, which were all vastly inferior to the Panzer IV. Also, Soviet tank forces were used in a vastly inferior way to the German ones and also had terrible inter-tank formation communication, giving the Germans a further edge. The T-34 and KV series tanks were better then the German models, but at time of invasion only a thousands of them were in existance.

French Tanks had the same problem, they were used in a lousy fashion and had akward layouts with the commanders having to be the gunner and the loader causing lots of problems in combat. While tank for tank the French tanks may have been better then the German ones, they other factors mentioned above detract its over all superiority.
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slm68430
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2012, 09:12:33 pm »
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Hitler, when supported by, and listening to his field marshalls had "strategically" briliant moments . In using the time given to him by the inability or "will" to act by the British and French (a well as the American population's unwillingness to emerge from isolation) he grew his military as fast as he could, starting all the way back to 1933 (using resources supplied to him by Sweden and the Soviets). Once he started to move he moved fast because he knew that unless he defeated his enemies quickly he wouldn't be able to sustain his momentum.  He faltered almost at the height of his momentum when he decided to  take a detour and put off his invasion of Russia and take care of some business in the Balkans (solely because of his ego). His self inflicted delay (which his military commander told him not to do) as well as his need to attack cities in Russia,  mostly because they were name after Soviet leaders (again "ego") caused him to pull up short of the most important objectives in Russia. Had he taken Russia (which looked to be an almost certainty at one time), who knows we might all be speaking German now. Those things and a billion other varibles could have change the outcome of the war in many different way. As for Hitlers "will" it had everthing to do with how things went for Germany. The Nazi party coming to power was because of his will over those who followed him early on to do terrible things for him. His will drove his commanders to move far and fast when quite a few of them were sure they shouldn't be provoking the western powers at that time. And in the end his will drove him to ruin by not listening to his commanders, seizing complete control of his armed forces away from his generals and beliving that Germany would win any battle because of his will. As well as inspiring Russian, American, British not to mention Free french, resistance that losing to him was not an option.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 09:15:34 pm by slm68430 » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2012, 01:25:02 pm »
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I have to disagree about his move into the balkans
He had to secure the oil in romania
The russians were definitely threatening it
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KurtGodel7
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« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2012, 03:46:59 pm »
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Many people have balked at Hitlers, plans, risks, and Gambles...  

And other that winning, what was his strategy?  Nobody can really say for sure, everyone just criticizes the obvious mistakes...  Doing stupid things like never retreating, and holding onto Stalingrad...


But I've thought about this concept lately, and I think this was what he had in mind.


"War's are fought in the will"

He didn't invade Russia to kill every Russian,  he came to conquer it for a number of reasons... to conquer a people, is simple in theory,  you need to break their will.  You break their will by destroying their means (tools, organization etc) to fight, and make choosing peace the better option.

I think that's what his grand plan was...  hence why he sued for a Vichy france, instead of total conquest...  Suddenly doing things like holding Stalingrad, and Never retreating, appear as parting of the strategy of will exhertion...  THE SAME overall strategy that seemed to keep the British in the game.

Also the Nazi concept of TOTAL WAR, was ALL about will,  so much will infact, that the design was to convince every person in Europe to defeat the Asiatic Communist hordes as a team.

Just a neuron firing...

Anyone else have any thoughts/elaboration?

Much of the criticism against Hitler's strategy is misdirected, misinformed, or inaccurate. On the other hand, there are elements of his strategy which legitimately merit criticism, and which often go unnoticed.

As an example of the first, I'd point to the Battle of Stalingrad. The conquest of Stalingrad was a necessary prelude to the capture of the Caucasus oilfields. The capture of those oilfields would have multiplied Germany's oil supply several-fold, dramatically increasing its ability to wage war.

German soldiers were at least three times as combat-effective as their Soviet counterparts. This means they normally attained a 3:1 exchange ratio in combat. But Soviet soldiers were able to attain a 1:1 exchange ratio in the street-to-street fighting of Stalingrad. Given that the Germans had paid a heavy price to take Stalingrad once, Hitler didn't want to have to retake the city later and give the Soviets another chance to attain a 1:1 exchange ratio. That was one of the three factors which caused Hitler to order the Stalingrad force to stay where it was.

Another factor was Goering's confidence in his ability to supply the Stalingrad force by air. Previously, a surrounded pocket of German soldiers had been successfully supplied by air, and eventually relieved by the main German Army. Goering incorrectly believed the same thing could be done on a much larger scale at Stalingrad. One reason he was wrong was his own incompetence. Also, the Soviets got considerably better at shooting down German transport aircraft.

The third factor in Hitler's decision was the belief that the German Army near Stalingrad could push the Soviets back and relieve the Stalingrad force. That belief proved incorrect: the Soviet force in that area pushed the main German Army slowly farther and farther away from Stalingrad. While the outcome of the battle proved a disaster for Germany--the Soviets came close to attaining a 1:1 exchange ratio--the thought process which led to those decisions was not based on gross incompetence, egotism, or mindless inflexibility. (Except in the case of Goering, who was clearly grossly incompetent.)

I'd also like to address the Battle of Britain. After Poland fell, Hitler offered a peace treaty to Britain and France. They refused. After France fell, Hitler offered a peace treaty to Britain. He expected Britain to accept this peace treaty, and lacked a viable plan for dealing with a British refusal. (More generally, Germany lacked the manpower, natural resources, and industrial capacity to prepare against every contingency. In the years leading up to the war, if it had devoted vast resources to its navy, it likely would have been unable to conquer France.)

If Germany's inability to quickly conquer Britain was a result of its physical limitations, its propaganda strategy of 1940 was far harder to justify. The German people had been led to expect a relatively quick and easy war. They had also been reassured that Allied bombs would not fall on German cities. In 1940 Churchill began bombing German cities. This caused German morale to plummet, in large part because those bombings shook some of the beliefs which had been instilled in the German people. In contrast, Churchill made no promises at all about how easy things would be over the short-term. He made it clear that things would be hard for a long time, but said that in the end the Allies would prevail. German propagandists should have done the same thing, and their failure to do so was a strategic error of the first order.

In order to repair the damage to German morale which the British civilian bombings had caused, Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to retaliate in-kind against British cities. This solved the German morale problem the British bombings had created. It also solved two of Churchill's most serious problems. First, German bombers were diverted away from militarily useful targets such as sector stations, airfields, aircraft production plants, and the like. Secondly, the bombings seemed to confirm Churchill's anti-Nazi propaganda, and dealt a death blow to the peace movement within Britain. This was the opposite of what Hitler had expected: he had hoped that the terror of the bombings might force Britain to make peace. Hitler wanted Britain to agree to an end to hostilities, with existing borders remaining intact.

Thus far I have addressed the tangential issues your post has raised, but haven't touched much on the core. I think that the concept of will was central to Nazi military thinking: both in terms of hardening German will and breaking the will of enemies. The whole concept of blitzkrieg was designed in part to demoralize enemy soldiers. Everything had been planned down to the smallest detail, including the noisemakers on the Stukas. That was part of a larger pattern: the German military was by far the best-run in the world. Everything received very thorough attention, whether it pertained to the psychological aspects of war or not.

German military planners began with the end in mind. Typically, that end involved a lightning conquest, because they knew Germany was not strong enough to win a long war. They then used whatever tactics necessary to achieve the end objective as they envisioned it. Their lightning conquests were extremely effective in conquering Poland, France, and the westernmost portion of the Soviet Union.
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suprise attack
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« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2012, 06:35:17 pm »
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Never have so many, owed so much, to so few.
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morrel
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« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2012, 08:37:14 pm »
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completely disagree kurt
stalingrad was not necessary from a strategic point
sorry completely is too strong,hitler's ego was the problem
stalingrad could have been defeated earlier and easily
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KurtGodel7
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2012, 09:59:22 pm »
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completely disagree kurt
stalingrad was not necessary from a strategic point
sorry completely is too strong,hitler's ego was the problem
stalingrad could have been defeated earlier and easily

I agree that the conquest of Stalingrad itself could have been effected more quickly and easily than had actually been the case. Unhelpful last minute changes in plans slowed the pace of German conquests in the area, giving the Soviets more time to reinforce.

But had the Soviets been allowed to keep Stalingrad, it would have represented a serious hindrance to the German plans to conquer the Baku oilfields and other territory south of Stalingrad. The plan to capture the oilfields was absolutely vital to Germany's overall strategic plan. Northern Caucasus accounted for 10% of Soviet oil, and the Baku oilfields for another 80%. Had the Germans succeeded in capturing all that--which was their goal for 1942--it would not only have solved Germany's oil problems, but would also have created some extremely severe oil-related problems for the Soviets.

However, those oil-related problems would not have been enough to knock the Soviet Union out of the war. FDR would have responded by shipping large quantities of oil to the Soviet Union. An intensification of the war against Allied shipping would have been necessary to make the Soviets' oil-related problems back-breaking.
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« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2012, 12:08:59 am »
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Stalingrad at the point where it became the objective was less than desirable. Hitler didn't understand that he also had to maintain control of Baku which was impossible considering the length of the front. Hitler didn't have the capabilities to control access to the Caucasus. He should have just finished off Leningrad and Moscow and shortened the front in 1942. Stalingrad was only a personal struggle between Hitler and Stalin, it had little importance based on the material they wasted on holding it. Moscow was the main juncture that controlled most the the logistical railines and roads to all parts of the front. Stalingrad campaign was like another faulty strategy like thinking attacking the Soviets was going to make England surrender after Hitler tried to defeat them in the Battle of Britain. Moscow campaign fails and they think rather than go back after Moscow, they fight for a new objective which has no bearing on defeating the Soviets.
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KurtGodel7
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« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2012, 09:36:23 am »
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Stalingrad at the point where it became the objective was less than desirable. Hitler didn't understand that he also had to maintain control of Baku which was impossible considering the length of the front. Hitler didn't have the capabilities to control access to the Caucasus. He should have just finished off Leningrad and Moscow and shortened the front in 1942. Stalingrad was only a personal struggle between Hitler and Stalin, it had little importance based on the material they wasted on holding it. Moscow was the main juncture that controlled most the the logistical railines and roads to all parts of the front. Stalingrad campaign was like another faulty strategy like thinking attacking the Soviets was going to make England surrender after Hitler tried to defeat them in the Battle of Britain. Moscow campaign fails and they think rather than go back after Moscow, they fight for a new objective which has no bearing on defeating the Soviets.
In 1942, the Soviets were expecting the German offensive to occur in the center. Immense Soviet forces were positioned to prevent exactly the anti-Moscow offensive you described. By launching a major offensive on the southern front instead, the German high command was able to take the Soviets by surprise, resulting in significant early victories and a very favorable exchange ratio.

I agree that the conquest of the Baku oilfields was beyond Germany's means. But I'd argue that the conquest of Moscow in 1942 was likewise beyond Germany's ability. Any attempt to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in 1942 was going to be a long shot.

Which long shot should Germany have pursued? The conquest of the northern Caucasus and the Baku oilfields would have deprived the Soviet Union of 90% of its oil supply. (While also solving Germany's significant oil-related problems.) Germany would also have obtained access to vital raw materials in the Caucasus, including half the Soviet Union's manganese production, and vital wheat fields and farmland. One could easily argue that Germany gaining all that would have had a significantly greater effect on the war than the conquest of Moscow would have. This is not to downplay Moscow's significance as an industrial center, transportation hub, and population center. The conquest of Moscow would have been big, the conquest of the Caucasus even bigger. Had Germany been able to effect the latter, it might then have made sense for Hitler to attempt to negotiate a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. The invasion would have served its purpose--or at least enough of its purpose for the cost of further war to outweigh the benefit.  

Even a partial conquest of the Caucasus would yield significant benefits for Germany. The most important of those benefits would have been access to some of the Caucasus oil. Access to that oil would have dramatically expanded the German military's options. For example, Germany's lack of oil meant that its supply lines mostly involved coal-powered trains to move supplies most of the distance necessary, and horses to move them from the train stop to the soldiers in the field. Gasoline or diesel-powered trucks were used to supplement this supply system and extend the distance from the train that supplies could be shipped. But lack of oil imposed severe constraints on Germany's ability to supply its troops in the field. Those constraints were the main reason why many German soldiers failed to receive adequate winter uniforms prior to the winter of '41 - '42. In 1942, Germany was sometimes unable to use its heaviest fighting vehicles in its offenses due to lack of fuel.

Also, partial success would have meant (and did mean) that the Germans obtained some very favorable exchanges with Soviet armies unprepared for a major offensive in that area. Besides all that, Germany did conquer a very large portion of the Caucasus in 1942. Holding that territory was another story, especially because by the fall of '42 the Soviet force in the Southern front was stronger than its German counterpart. (Even before the destruction of Germany's Stalingrad force.) Dealing with that problem would have required Germany to use the "backhand method" that von Mannstein masterfully employed to shore up Germany's southern front after the fall of Stalingrad.

In hindsight, it would have made more sense for Germany to have surrounded and besieged Stalingrad, as opposed to attempting to take it street by street. Probably when the decision to take the city was made, it had not been realized how strongly the Soviets would defend it, or how painful the conquest cost would be. Once those things had become clear, Germany should have abandoned its attempt to conquer the city via a frontal attack.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 09:46:45 am by KurtGodel7 » Logged
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« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2012, 10:53:44 am »
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Quote
In 1942, the Soviets were expecting the German offensive to occur in the center. Immense Soviet forces were positioned to prevent exactly the anti-Moscow offensive you described. By launching a major offensive on the southern front instead, the German high command was able to take the Soviets by surprise, resulting in significant early victories and a very favorable exchange ratio.

In 1943 this was the case as well at Kursk. It made no effect on the German plans however.

Germany did not have the means to take Baku, so it is a faulty objective given the material and position of the German army.

Leningrad capture would have freed up the Finnish who were blocked up and made the defense of Moscow more difficult with new forces coming from the north. Also, Archangel could be threatened and cut off the short route of Lend Lease.

All the talk about Baku is just a pipe dream. It could only be an objective if Moscow was taken first. Once that happened the Germans could secure the Don properly and avoid getting cut off.

 
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KurtGodel7
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« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2012, 11:50:10 am »
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Quote
In 1942, the Soviets were expecting the German offensive to occur in the center. Immense Soviet forces were positioned to prevent exactly the anti-Moscow offensive you described. By launching a major offensive on the southern front instead, the German high command was able to take the Soviets by surprise, resulting in significant early victories and a very favorable exchange ratio.

In 1943 this was the case as well at Kursk. It made no effect on the German plans however.

Germany did not have the means to take Baku, so it is a faulty objective given the material and position of the German army.

Leningrad capture would have freed up the Finnish who were blocked up and made the defense of Moscow more difficult with new forces coming from the north. Also, Archangel could be threatened and cut off the short route of Lend Lease.

All the talk about Baku is just a pipe dream. It could only be an objective if Moscow was taken first. Once that happened the Germans could secure the Don properly and avoid getting cut off.

 

If you look at the map I mentioned earlier, you'll see that the German summer offensive of '42 had reached about 500 miles east of the Black Sea, and was less than 100 miles from the Caspian Sea. Had the Germans reached the Caspian, all Soviet forces between the Black and Caspian Seas south of the German advance would have been cut off from the main Red Army. Had that occurred, it probably would have been possible to capture or destroy the cut off Soviet force. Even if that force was evacuated either via the Caspian Sea or Persia, Germany would still have ended up with the Baku oilfields. (Assuming, of course, that the force which reached the Caspian was not pushed back by a Soviet counterattack.)

You mentioned that conquering Leningrad would have freed up Axis forces for use elsewhere. That same logic was probably an important component in Hitler's decision to take Stalingrad (as opposed to imposing a Leningrad-style siege on it). The upside to taking a city is that doing so frees up what would otherwise have been your besieging force. The downside (especially for Germany) is that the Soviets obtained a roughly 1:1 exchange ratio in street-to-street fighting. Germany could not afford a ratio even close to that in its overall war against the Soviet Union.

During the summer of '42 the Germans achieved offensive successes by attacking the Soviets where they were weak. By the fall of '42 the Soviets had shifted much of their strength to the south. At that point the Red Army proved the stronger. I would argue that by the fall of '42 the Red Army minus the anti-Japanese force was stronger than the German Army minus the forces deployed in Norway, France, Italy, and Africa. This means that the German Army was not particularly well-positioned to make (let alone hold) major strategic gains against the Soviet Union that year.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 11:52:24 am by KurtGodel7 » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2012, 12:33:04 pm »
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Hitler wasted alot of German and Finnish forces that were engaged against Leningrad. This 'siege' also tied up the Finnish in the northern flank. It was mush more sensible to finish off Leningrad and use the forces directed against Moscow.

If Hitler could even reach the Baku it would have been destroyed and soon another Stalingrad would have occurred with the cutoff of many Germans in the Caucasus. It would have been easier to do this and probably resulted in greater damage to the German army.

Hitler should have counter attacked after Zhukov's abortive Mars campaign in spring 1942, which gave the Soviets a drubbing.

Just wasting resources besieging Leningrad and Stalingrad and not taking anything is losing tempo because the Soviets had time to play games and grew stronger, while Hitler could not replace his loses. All siege campaigns had the effect of producing no result but attrition of which the Soviets are much better prepared.

No sir Hitler had to finish the war with Moscow or face defeat. Caucasus was not part of the capabilities of the Germans while other parts of the front had not been decided first.
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« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2012, 01:44:28 pm »
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Hitler wasted alot of German and Finnish forces that were engaged against Leningrad. This 'siege' also tied up the Finnish in the northern flank. It was mush more sensible to finish off Leningrad and use the forces directed against Moscow.

If Hitler could even reach the Baku it would have been destroyed and soon another Stalingrad would have occurred with the cutoff of many Germans in the Caucasus. It would have been easier to do this and probably resulted in greater damage to the German army.

Hitler should have counter attacked after Zhukov's abortive Mars campaign in spring 1942, which gave the Soviets a drubbing.

Just wasting resources besieging Leningrad and Stalingrad and not taking anything is losing tempo because the Soviets had time to play games and grew stronger, while Hitler could not replace his loses. All siege campaigns had the effect of producing no result but attrition of which the Soviets are much better prepared.

No sir Hitler had to finish the war with Moscow or face defeat. Caucasus was not part of the capabilities of the Germans while other parts of the front had not been decided first.
Had Hitler elected to take Leningrad, the German and Finnish armies would have paid a very heavy price in street-to-street fighting. It's true that after taking Leningrad the forces used could have been thrown into an attack on Moscow. Given the Soviet strength along its center front, it's doubtful that the Moscow attack would have worked. Even if it had, the Soviets would have kept fighting. Yes, the loss of that city would have represented a serious setback to the Soviets' long-term war-making potential, and yes, there are only so many such setbacks the Soviet Union could have afforded before it had reached its limit.

Modern day Moscow has 11.5 million people. Assuming that WWII Moscow's population was roughly similar, that means that Moscow represented about 6.8% of the Soviet Union's prewar population. After taking into account the percentage of the Soviet population Germany had already conquered, that 6.8% becomes higher. On the other hand, large numbers of Soviet factory workers had been evacuated eastwards in the face of German conquests, and that pattern would almost certainly continued had Moscow been threatened with capture. Because Moscow was a major transportation center, evacuating its workforce would have been easier than (for example) evacuating the workforce of the Caucasus. 

Also, taking Moscow in a series of street-to-street battles would have cost Germany soldiers it could not hope to replace.

The point I'm making was that in 1942, Germany was in no position to deal a death blow to the Soviet war effort. Yes, Germany should have sought to inflict major blows against the Soviet Union anyway, on the theory that a small chance is better than none at all. But it needed to do that within the context of maintaining a sustainable exchange ratio with the Red Army. By "sustainable" I mean that the ratio needed to have been 3:1 in Germany's favor at the very least. In the early and middle stages of Case Blue Germany achieved a sustainable exchange ratio. At the Battle of Stalingrad it did not.

After the Soviet Union won the Battle of Stalingrad, and the Red Army sought to exploit the resulting German weakness, von Mannstein was able to achieve an 8:1 ratio in Germany's favor, while also regaining some of the land Germany had lost after Stalingrad. Had Germany achieved such favorable ratios more often, it would have significantly increased its long-term staying power in the war, while also increasing its short-term opportunities. Step 1 would have been to attain highly favorable exchange ratios in a series of battles to reduce the strength of the Red Army. Step 2 would have involved taking advantage of the Red Army's weakened state to capture critical objectives.
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