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mabadesc
Posted: January 27, 2008 03:28 am
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QUOTE (Kepi @ January 25, 2008 10:30 am)
It’s surprising that no one in Romania remembered the Battle of the Don River Bent, that occurred 65 years ago.  


It's also surprising it received few attention on this foum:
http://www.worldwar2.ro/forum/index.php?showtopic=4358


I'm still wondering about the clashing information coming from various sources on the reasons for positioning Romanian troops several miles away from the Don River.

Namely, Von Mellenthin and other senior German officers were dismayed at the time (or so they claim) that the Romanians did not establish their front line up against the river bank - an easier to defend line due to the natural obstacle created by the river.

Instead, the Romanian line lay several kilometers away from the river bank.

On the other hand, after the fact, Antonescu complained to Manstein and to Hitler that Romanian troops were forced to defend a line in open field.

Where and when exactly did this miscommunication occur?

Were there objective military reasons against establishing the line on the river bank? Was it miscommunication?

This post has been edited by Victor on January 27, 2008 09:57 am
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Florin
Posted: January 27, 2008 05:36 am
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ January 26, 2008 10:28 pm)
I'm still wondering about the clashing information coming from various sources on the reasons for positioning Romanian troops several miles away from the Don River.

Namely, Von Mellenthin and other senior German officers were dismayed at the time (or so they claim) that the Romanians did not establish their front line up against the river bank - an easier to defend line due to the natural obstacle created by the river.

Instead, the Romanian line lay several kilometers away from the river bank.

On the other hand, after the fact, Antonescu complained to Manstein and to Hitler that Romanian troops were forced to defend a line in open field.

Where and when exactly did this miscommunication occur?

Were there objective military reasons against establishing the line on the river bank?  Was it miscommunication?

If the Germans are right and the front line was not decided by them, it may have few possible reasons:
- to be out of range from the enemy fire from Soviet artilery located on the other bank
- to focus their strength on possible hills close to the river (if any), where the Romanian fire could control better the surroundings
However, any person in his right mind would deploy at least some forward detachments right near the river, because otherwise it will become an open highway. So I would blame some misunderstanding on both sides, considering also your text: "Antonescu complained to Manstein and to Hitler that Romanian troops were forced to defend a line in open field."

I think geting out of the range of the Soviet artilery may be a decent reason. In Normandy, the German generals and marshalls requested many times to withdraw all German troops out of the range of the canons from British and American warships. This meant leaving without fight about 20...30 kilometers in depth. Hitler denied it, so the Germans had to cope with heavy fire from the Allied fleets.
At Anzio, after the Germans failed to throw the Allies in the sea (one reason being heavy enemy fire from battleships ;) ), the front line became stable, with the Germans chosing to stay beyond the range of the battleships. Then it was their turn to kick the Allies with "Leopold" (nicknamed "Annie" by the Americans). "Leopold"/ "Annie" was a long range 310 mm canon.

This post has been edited by Florin on January 27, 2008 05:57 am
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Victor
Posted: January 27, 2008 10:33 am
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The front was not on the river but in a couple of small sectors. And this was not because the Romanians had placed their troops several miles behind, but because of the Soviet bridgeheads, from where the two major armored thrusts originated on 19 November.

General Dumitrescu was very surprised to find these bridgeheads when arriving with his command in the Don sector. He had been told that the 3rd Army will set up a defensive line on the Don. The Germans did not mention anything about the bridgeheads. In the meeting on 18 September with general Maximillian von Weichs, the CO of Army Group B, he pointed out the problem these bridgeheads posed and von Weichs naturally agreed and mentioned that he wanted to eliminate them before the 3rd Army arrived (attack planned for 22 September), but he did not receive authorization from OKH to do this. Antonescu proposed an attack with the first Romanian divisions arriving at the scene, before taking over the defense, but this was also turned down by the OKH. Another attempt by Dumitrescu to launch a smaller attack on 16 October wasn't approved.

The bridgeheads were approximately 70 km wide and in some places 25 km deep. Von Melethin was the chief of staff of the 48th Panzer Corps and one would expect that he would have known where the frontline was and what was behind it. Under these conditions, his remarks in the post-war memoirs are due either to gross incompetence or to other reasons, which I prefer not to discuss.

The situation did not have anything to do with staying out of Soviet artillery range, as unlike Allied battleship guns, Soviet artillery could move further inland, but was teh cause of already existing Soviet bridgeheads that were not eliminated when was still possible mainly because of the obsession that drew the majority of German ressources in the area in Stalingrad. I hope this clears up things.
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mabadesc
Posted: January 29, 2008 12:06 am
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Von Melethin was the chief of staff of the 48th Panzer Corps and one would expect that he would have known where the frontline was and what was behind it. Under these conditions, his remarks in the post-war memoirs are due either to gross incompetence or to other reasons, which I prefer not to discuss.


There is no doubt that, in their memoirs, most German Senior Officers exhibited the tendency to shift blame onto their Allies whenever possible. Conversely, they eagerly took ownership of any successful battles led by their Allies and attributed them exclusively to German forces.

Being aware of that, I am in no way putting too much stock in Mellenthin's statement. I am just trying to understand where the disconnect took place, or where the truth lies exactly.

To quote Major General Von Mellenthin, he states:

"During October the Russian attacks against the 14th Panzer Corps diminished in strength; the enemy was regrouping his forces and getting ready for a big counteroffensive. [...] Six miles south of Stalingrad the Russians still held a strong bridgehead at Beketonskaya, and they also retained bridgeheads on the western bank of the Don. It became known that Hungarian, Italian, and Rumanian armies had occupied positions on the Don from Voronezh southwards; this certainly did not serve to encourage the German troops - the fighting value of our allies was never overestimated, nor was their poor equipment calculated to enhance their reputation. Nobody could understand why Rumanian formations had given up part of the huge Don bend, allegedly to save troops for other purposes, but actually yielding an area which it would have been easy to defend, and thus handing over a most valuable bridgehead to the Russians."

Excerpt from Panzer Battles, Major General F.W. von Mellenthin. 1956, University of Oklahoma Press.

Deliberate disinformation from Mellenthin?
Or perhaps a matter of disconnect or lack of information between Hitler/OKW/OKH and German lower army echelons?
Or rather, a disconnect betweeen Germans and Romanians at Army or Army-Corps levels?

Based on your previous post, Victor, it seems that the OKH was the culprit by not allowing the elimination of the bridgeheads.

This post has been edited by mabadesc on January 29, 2008 12:11 am
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Florin
Posted: January 29, 2008 05:17 am
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QUOTE (Victor @ January 27, 2008 05:33 am)
.............................
The bridgeheads were approximately 70 km wide and in some places 25 km deep.
...............


That was huge!

Otherwise, I have nothing to add... Victor and "Mabadesc" already did it for me.

This post has been edited by Florin on January 29, 2008 05:18 am
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: January 29, 2008 09:33 am
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Again I have to recommend the book "Romanii la Stalignrad" for all those who understand romanian and want to better understand what happened in the romanian sectors of the front. The book is based on romanian and german ww2 documents wihch at least in theory could be checked for authenticity.
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21 inf
Posted: January 29, 2008 09:24 pm
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I was impressed by this memories of a ww2 romanian veteran from Don Bend (Cotul Donului).
Take a moment to listen the words. They say that the lirycs are made after a true letter from the front line.........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGVzhJ6RYZM&NR=1

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Florin
Posted: February 01, 2008 01:41 am
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QUOTE (21 inf @ January 29, 2008 04:24 pm)
I was impressed by this memories of a ww2 romanian veteran from Don Bend (Cotul Donului).
Take a moment to listen the words. They say that the lirycs are made after a true letter from the front line.........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGVzhJ6RYZM&NR=1

I was very impressed, too. The movie was well done. Eventually, the veteran was lucky: not only he escaped imprisonment near the Don River, but he returned alive in 1945, after surviving the Western Front, too.

Looks like the guy who made the movie used some photos available from Gen. Denes.

In other order of ideas: the mail from the front was censored. The text from the movie may be following real letters, but I am wondering how they passed through. My grandfather and my grandmother agreed to a kind of code, and when my grandfather was writing certain words, that meant withdrawal and bad situation on the frontline.
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mabadesc
Posted: February 01, 2008 01:57 am
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Again I have to recommend the book "Romanii la Stalignrad" for all those who understand romanian and want to better understand what happened in the romanian sectors of the front.


Thanks, Mytzu. I actually read the book, although I unfortunately do not own it.

What I am trying to understand is where the miscommunication took place on the German side, as well as the reasons why OKH did not approve the elimination of the bridgeheads when both German and Romanian field commanders clearly advocated for it.
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Florin
Posted: February 01, 2008 05:56 am
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ January 31, 2008 08:57 pm)
.......................................
What I am trying to understand is where the miscommunication took place on the German side, as well as the reasons why OKH did not approve the elimination of the bridgeheads when both German and Romanian field commanders clearly advocated for it.

In my own quest to understand the unbelievable (accepting bridgeheads totaling 70 km long, 25 km wide in some places), I try to find a reason: Germany did not have the industrial resources of U.S.A., neither the human resources of S.U., so whatever they had they poured it into Stalingrad, neglecting everything else (including Afrika Korps).

I am not a professional military tactician, and maybe that's why I fail to understand this obsession for Stalingrad, when at the north of the city the German artillery already cut the traffic of ships on Volga.
Because of this obsession for Stalingrad, the troops in Caucasus Mountains could not reach the oil fields around Baku, even though they already conquered and passed the high peaks of the mountains.
Something else I did not understand was the German sacrifice of so many soldiers in house to house combat in Stalingrad, instead of bringing the same steel monsters used at Sevastopol: "Karl" and "Dora" (see my posts under Eastern Front / Sevastopol, Fort Paul).

This post has been edited by Florin on February 01, 2008 05:58 am
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: February 01, 2008 11:54 am
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One of the explanations is related to several things:
1. the german success untill that moment (the thrust)
2. the huge ammount of russian prisoners and kia
3. the incredible rapid advance untill then
4. the strong but false belive that the russians are ready to colapse and "now" is a good time to push on (bate fierul cat e cald)
5. Hitler's obsession with Stalingrad
6. the belief that romanian troops were way to inferior compared to german troops and that they become paranoic out of fear, thus only beliving romanian reports of soviet huge forces concentration and soviet counter-attack when it was already too late
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Dénes
Posted: February 01, 2008 04:13 pm
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ January 29, 2008 06:06 am)
There is no doubt that, in their memoirs, most German Senior Officers exhibited the tendency to shift blame onto their Allies whenever possible.

This goes the other way, too. Minor Axis (not only Rumanians, but Hungarians, etc.) tend to blame their failures on the Germans. The truth is - as usual - somewhere in between...

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on February 01, 2008 04:13 pm
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dragos
Posted: February 01, 2008 11:55 pm
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sid guttridge
Posted: February 06, 2008 11:47 am
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Hi Guys,

The Romanian line wasn't on the Don bank for two main reasons:

1) The Romanian 3rd Army inherited its positions from the Italian 8th Army, against which the Red Army had already established bridgeheads south of the Don.

2) Dumitrescu had requested permission in September-October to mount attacks to eliminate these Soviet bridgeheads, but the Germans were fixated on attacking the city of Stalingrad and would not allow any diversion of resources for a Romanian attack to establish the line on the Don.

From memory, (and please correct me if I'm wrong), Mellenthin only arrived AFTER the initial Soviet assault on 19 November and so was not familiar with the situation before that date. He is therefore not a first hand authority on the matter as to why the Romanian line was not on the banks of the Don.

Cheers,

Sid.

This post has been edited by sid guttridge on February 06, 2008 11:48 am
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Bernard Miclescu
Posted: February 10, 2008 08:06 pm
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sorry

This post has been edited by Bernard Miclescu on February 10, 2008 08:56 pm
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