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XIX: War in the East: Phase 3: Unternehmen Sumpf Wahnsinn
War in the East
Phase 3: Unternehmen Sumpf Wahnsinn (Marsh Madness)
April - July 1943

Though the success of the Heer in collapsing the Jablonow kessel and the destruction of so many Soviet divisions was notable, Supreme Command had directed a far larger and more glorious path than Oberkommando-Ost had contemplated. At the direction of Hitler, OK-Ost was ordered to break the Soviet center. Stunned, the staff believed that–surely–the Fuhrer could not be serious, and so built a grandiose plan. A plan which would involve having to pause all other offensive operations across the entire front in order to permit sufficient resources to be available to the insanity envisioned by those in the Reichstag. It was even given a name to match: Unternehmen Sumpf Wahnsinn, Operation Marsh Madness. The planning involved almost the entire mobile force of the Heer, on long, difficult logistical tails. Essentially, three phases were envisioned: in the first, breakthroughs would occur on the shoulders of the Pripyat Marshes, with the objectives of Minsk and Homel. After those cities were in hand, the second phase would have the objective of meeting one another, ideally around Babruysk and thus cut off a large proportion of the Soviet center. In the third phase, which the planners had absolutely no faith in ever achieving, this giant kessel would then be reduced by the infantry.

(picture of plan)

When it was placed before Hitler, the exasperated planners had hoped that the name that they had christened this disaster of a thought-process with would convey that the plan should have absolutely no chance of success. Surely, the Soviets–with endless supplies of manpower–would have no difficulty ensuring that the two objective cities would be well-garrisoned, stocked with supplies, and ready to defend their cities to the death. Hitler, of course, was under no such illusions, and seized upon the phrase, believing that it could convey exactly the opposite to the Soviets. His response to the planners was, “Stalin will believe this plan mad, and be caught with his britches down!” Thus, the orders were transmitted. A massive rally was scheduled by Goebbels for the launch of the offensive, headlined with a speech from the Fuhrer himself. The single word that Goebbels chose to put it in perspective was apt in his mind: Destiny!

As it was, the Heer arranged for ten panzer-divisionen, four panzergrenadier-divisionen, and ten infantrie-divisionen (mot) were tasked to the maneuver. The infantry divisions of AOK 3–comprising Armeekorps VII, IX, XIII, XIV and XXI, each with five infantry divisions and the HQ Light divisions–on the western portion of the line of contact and a portion of AOK 2–comprising Armeekorps II, IV, and VI–on the southern portion. AOK 4, the first fully mechanized armored force anywhere in the world was arranged with Panzerkorps III at the northern assembly area along with Armeekorps XV (mot); Panzerkorps I was in the south with Armeekorps XVI (mot). Armeekorps XVII (Mech), with the four panzergrenadier-divisionen were holding a portion of the southern line of contact. This was a total of over 37 divisions, all fully operational and battle-hardened. Panzerkorps II was instead assigned to Ukraine, providing the balance of AOK 2 enough combat power to deal with any advantage from the links between the German and Italian forces in the region. The Soviets could put up almost no resistance to this level of force: only 46 divisions of various armor, infantry and mountain units were combat effective in the region along with headquarters of every description. The level of inequity was even greater in the air, where the Red Air Force was significantly outnumbered and outgunned regardless. Intelligence indicated that of the eight remaining Soviet armored divisions in the theater (there were significantly more in the Caucasus dealing with the Italian incursion there), six were in the center of the Soviet line, and all were medium armored divisions.

In the end, the first two phases of the operation only took two weeks. By 12 May, the encirclement–the largest in recorded human history–was completed. Within a month, all resistance in the kessel had ended. While there were spasms of further Soviet resistance (which especially consisted of the appearance of full heavy armored brigades), the back of said resistance was broken. In the south, AOK 2 was driving hard, and even by 7 July, two panzer-divisionen were knocking on the gates of Stalingrad, having arrived without any Soviet interference, a distance of over 250 miles from the nearest German depot at Rostov-on-Don, before being recalled by OK-Ost as the kampfgruppe was in danger of their supply lines being cut off by . It was only the declaration of new resistance everywhere to the German expansion that caused a rapid rethink of how far the Heer could push into the Soviet hinterland.


Author's Note: my pictures aren't loading via Imgur, so I'm just going to get this out because it's burning a hole in my pocket. Its not looking pretty, but I think we will get the point regardless. Hope my US readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving, and that everyone else had a good weekend!

Maybe @El Pip could give us a new estimate of updates....
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Hitler, unlike his stupid planners, knows he's in a HOI game and can thus do whatever he likes so long as its violent.
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Good to see the AAR back!
Surely, the Soviets–with endless supplies of manpower–would have no difficulty ensuring that the two objective cities would be well-garrisoned, stocked with supplies, and ready to defend their cities to the death.
… uh oh, AI Soviets? No chance! :p
and that everyone else had a good weekend!
Yes it was, apart from losing a couple of cricket matches :D Hope all who celebrate Thanksgiving enjoyed it too. <3
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I am disappointed that OK-Ost even acknowledged the existence of logistics, losing their touch their somewhat. Though having to deal with an impossibly smug Hitler after the success of that ridiculous plan is probably punishment enough. I say ridiculous because it was, but a fine feat of operational mobile warfare and/or HOI3 gameplay, so kudos for that.

Looking ahead it appears we are approaching an Alexander moment with a tearful Adolf looking across the Ural Mountains and declaring their are no more worlds to conqueror (unless this AAR gets extended into Stellaris).

(picture of plan)
I am imagining a beautiful map here, it is quite exquisite.

Maybe @El Pip could give us a new estimate of updates....
By being a few days early the R² for the long run data set is 0.899. The graphs is still impressively vertical and so the predicted date for the next update is 12th March 2025.

But if one assumes that the habits of pre-2021 Wraith have very little relevance to today and use only recent data you can get this;

Wraith Graph.png

Assuming the pattern holds and Wraith will be slightly under the trend line next time, eyeing that in and projecting forward I would say sometime around 15th December 2024.
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