The Let's Play Archive

No Retreat! The Russian Front

by Tevery Best

Part 53: Turn 8 - Axis Detraining Phase - Sixth Leningrad, The Voronezh Push

Turn 8, July/August 1942

2nd Hungarian, 4th Panzer, 16th Army, 18th Army, Finnish vs Leningrad
Odds: 17/5 = 3:1, no shifts
Roll: 1 - CB
A CB marker is placed on 2nd Hungarian and 16th Army.

The battle around Leningrad rages on. Yet another attack, this time aided by the Finnish, has managed to set large parts of the city ablaze with incendiary bombs, but that does not stop the heroic defenders. Although the ring of fortifications around the city decreases yet again, this time mostly from the north, they stand unbowed. But the Axis troops do not rest either. The battle has already been going for half a year and yet shows no signs of slowing down.

For ruthless efficiency in holding back the enemy tide month after month, General-Mayor Spookydonut is awarder the Leningrad Front Badge (since the unit itself does not have a lower-level commander). Wear it with pride, Spookydonut.

Last time we talked about the fate of OTL Leningrad, it was about to suffer a deadly famine. On November 20, 1941, the authorities reduced the daily rations for physical workers to 250 grams of bread. The others were only allotted 66% of that, making it something like three narrow slices. And even that was not very nourishing, since due to the flour shortages it was made of stuff like flax, cotton or cellulose. Today's estimate is that it contained 300 calories per 125 grams - that's about 1/8 of what an adult man needs to keep his body weight. And even this was further compounded by the fierce winter - the same one that stopped the Germans at Moscow. Cold records were broken both in December (-12,5 degrees Celsius average) and January (-18,7 C, sometimes dropping as low as -32,1 C). The death toll was enormous. People would literally fall dead in the streets, going about their daily business. There was hope, however. On November 22, first supply convoy reached Leningrad over the frozen expanse of Lake Ladoga.

4th Army, 9th Army vs Stalingrad Front
Odds: 7/4 = 3:2, shifted +1 for Blitz!, -1 for Forest for a total of 3:2
Roll: 2 - no effect

The Germans, having already secured the supply lifeline from Smolensk, attempt to push the Soviet forces threatening the city itself. Their effort is wasted, however, as the Red Army troops, holed up all throughout the rugged countryside, refuse to budge. Due to communication problems and supply shortages, the offensive is called off after a week.

2nd Panzer vs Northwest Front
Odds: 7/3 = 2:1, shifted +1 for Armour for a total of 3:1
Roll: 4 - DR

1st Panzer, 17th Army vs Volkhov Front
Odds: 11/4 = 2:1, shifted +1 for Armour for a total of 3:1
Roll: 2 - EX
Knight's Cross Wearers allows the Germans to re-roll!
Re-roll: 3 - DR

There are more movements further south, however. The Wehrmacht commences a great offensive operation, aiming to drive a huge wedge between the city of Voronezh and the southern part of the Soviet line. The 2nd Panzer Army easily overwhelms their enemies, but a brief scare settles in the German high command when the other offensive initially stalls, leaving the Army behind enemy lines. Luckily, the experience of the troops prevails and they manage to overcome the Soviet resistance, quickly linking up with the rest of the force.

It looks like a horrible mess, but I think you can see that had the Germans advanced one more hex SE with the 2nd Panzer, the second battle would have seen the Volkhov Front eliminated due to not having a legal retreat path. Alas, that opportunity was missed.

2nd Army, 3rd Rumanian, 6th Army vs Central Front
Odds: 10/5 = 2:1, shifted +1 for Blitz! for a total of 3:1
Expert Leaders allow the Germans to roll twice and pick the better result!
Roll: 6, 5 - DD
Central Front retreats two hexes and suffers a step loss, eliminating it. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
Expert Leaders is never worth it, bloody damn.

In the south, general Friedrich von Paulus is tasked with leading his men on an offensive against the strong Soviet Central Front under Polkovnik C. This mysterious officer, only known to history under this single letter, is one of the several low-ranking leaders promoted to Front commands as a part of the program to refresh the Soviet command staff. It seems, however, that he did not exactly have what it took to lead the unit of this size - his force was smashed by an offensive from the east, where the German 2nd Army had already secured several crossings over the Dneper, nullifying the advantage the river would give the defending Soviet force. The troops quickly broke under the overwhelming German firepower, allowing the attacking force to reach the outskirts of Sevastopol for the first time in the war. What's more, the Crimean Front found themselves separated from the main force and the only way for them to continue fighting was to use the support of the Black Sea Fleet. It seems unlikely that the NKVD erased Polkovnik C. due to this error - we have word of him leading troops on later occasions - but what did cause this mysterious disappearance?

Friedrich von Paulus was the general in charge of the 6th Army during its ill-fated push on Stalingrad. Bogged down in urban combat, it was ordered not to retreat in the face of a Soviet pincer manoeuvre and eventually surrendered in February 1943. Hitler, however, did not approve of a surrender - he made Paulus a field marshal when he was in the pocket. This wasn't a gesture of support or gratitude - no German field marshal was ever taken captive, and thus it was a clear message: Paulus was to commit suicide, optimally alongside the rest of his army. He said "fuck it" and surrendered anyway, quickly becoming a huge asset for the Soviet propaganda. In summer 1944, tormented by guilt over having delayed the surrender for too long (which made most German POWs so weak with hunger and cold that out of 90 000 only 6 000 survived the war, many dying on the way to POW camps or once there), he joined the German communists and defectors in the USSR-backed National Committee Free Germany (NKFD), sending radio appeals for surrender and overthrow of Hitler's regime. He wanted to lead a German army fighting alongside the Soviets, hoping that it would prevent a partition of Germany (the idea which seemed to have been reinforced by his NKVD handlers), but this never materialised. He testified in Nuremberg.

Until the end of his life he was an important public figure in Germany, alternately reviled (by veterans and West German politicians) and revered (by the East German communist party). Until the 1950s West Germany was periodically terrified of rumours putting him at the head of a presumed German army, forming in the USSR and preparing for an invasion of the West. Der Spiegel ran an article in December 1947 claiming that the force numbered 50 000 men in 50-90 divisions and was equipped with Tiger and Panther tanks alongside T-41s and T-43s.

Paulus died in 1957. He suffered from ALS.

Axis Removals Phase
Out of supply markers removed from 3rd Panzer and 9th Army. Disorganised marker removed from 11th Army.

Axis Detraining Phase

Logicone may now detrain any number of units from his Rail Movement Box. They must be placed either in German-controlled cities or within 3 hexes of such a city. If placed outside a German-controlled city, they cannot be placed in a Soviet-controlled city, adjacent to one, or in an EZOC. The deadline for this is Monday, February 10, 8 PM GMT.