Consequences of mobilisation in WW2


Active member
It is said that the lack of preparedness by the Russians on the outset of Barbarossa made it difficult for the advancing Panzer columns to surround the armies since were still deployed in depth. This allowed them to be retreated into the immense Motherland, eventually leading the Germans to eventual defeat.

Does this mean if Stalin had believed Churchill and mobilised his armies in advance they may have been almost entirely annihilated at the front? Could a similar deliberate strategy have been used were just smaller forward units pick away at the advancing columns and draw out the supply lines towards the main force waiting some distance in the rear? Conversely could we say that mobilisation of the French and British forces towards the Front line in 1940 resulted in their downfall, and a sustained resistance may have been possible if they remained on French soil?

If so then perhaps mobilisation is a double-edged sword when facing a stronger enemy.
it's an interesting point- the first instinct is to argue against it but the fact that the campaign did more or less unfold as described suggests that it is the correct strategy. the main issue is whether you actually want to or are able to lose the territory the theory calls to be sacrificed. for all the anti-communist rhetoric it remains true that, industrially, the soviets had come far by 1941 and evidence of official documentation from the party and its apparatus suggests that even though it had become the only tactical option, the policy of trading space for time was not one the leadership chose voluntarily, nor accepted with good grace. Krushchev himself repeatedly spoke of the damage the policy forced upon the 'soviet dream', even after the war, and no less a Stalinist than Brezhnev stuck to Krushchev's line that Stalin had erred in not mobilising the armed forces.
it might be a tactically effective tool and welcome to the military mind, but i do not imagine that, as official doctrine, there would be too many governments willing to sacrifice territory in order for the theory to ever be fully tested on a strategic scale.
it is also difficult to imagine, given the tactical doctrines current in the allied armies of 1940-41, that even a defence in depth, as described, would have prevented the disaster in the West. Indeed, it is likely that had Japan made sufficient threat on the Manchurian border then there was little chance of the far eastern elements of the soviet defences being released to serve in the defences of Moscow, which could have led to the fall of the capitol and all that that entailed.
Uncle Joe had been warned from several different quarters that Germany was going to invade Russia, yet he failed to act in case his actions provoked the Germans. I think this idea about not mobilising is just a smoke screen to cover up his in action.
I'm not sure it can be argued that the Soviet Armies were deployed in depth during the start of Barbarossa. They were wrongly deployed for sure but in advanced positions, not taking advantage of terrain or factoring in the length of border they had to cover. The fact of the matter is that many Soviet Armies were cut off and destroyed during the first week of operations, because of their advanced deployment.

The other factor is that Panzer formations only formed part of the encirclement of Soviet Armies when they formed. Infantry divisions formed the bulk of the encirclements and indeed did most of the work in actually reducing the kessels (pockets).

It was new armies forming in the interior that helped to stall the Germans, not the deep deployment of original armies.
an interesting point.

My take on the early strikes the soviets took may have been because of inefficent leadership that couldnt react fast enough to the blitzkrieg type of warfare of the germans. This was brought about by the purge of officers stalin made in his officer corp, and the severe tanking the finns did to them early on.