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In what would later be called the most devastating war in history, World War II could have ended up more different than you thought….
War of Annihilation
June 28, 1942
Germany unleashes Operation Braunschwieg; the aim is to capture the Strategic Baku Oil fields to fuel the Nazi war machine.
June 29, 1942
Russian forces start redeploying to the southern front, realizing their oil supply is in danger.
July 1, 1942
The Luftwaffe and the Red air force clash as hundreds and hundreds of planes battle for supremacy. The Germans have a 3:1 kill ratio but the Soviets numbers can absorb such losses. The Germans realize that achieving aerial supremacy is the key for the success of the campaign.
July 3, 1942
The Wehrmacht is the master of mobile warfare and the flat plains and steppes of southern Russia make it perfect tank country. Panzer divisions gain large swaths of territory while Soviet units are forced into pockets and bombarded with artillery and ground attack aircraft until usually all the soldiers are killed. The Russians realize how important this campaign may be so many units are fighting to the last man. (Usually under orders)
Operation Braunschwieg is consisting of two army groups:
-Army Group A is accompanied with the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 11th, and 17th Panzer armies while also incorporating the 3rd Romanian Army into its thrust. This is the main thrust of the offensive to capture the Baku Oil fields and must do it swiftly before the harsh Russian Winter prohibits major offensives.
-Army Group B is accompanied with the 6th Panzer army, accompanied with the 2nd Hungarian army, 4th Romanian army and the 8th Italian army. This Army group would serve as the strong left flank of Army Group A and would have to repulse any Soviet counter-offensive that would surely come. They are ordered to advance to the western side of the Volga and dig in. (They will not enter Stalingrad as General Paulus has decided to lay a siege, This puts Hitler into a rage but Paulus miraculously convinces Hitler to have patience because Stalingrad would be a death trap.)
July 4th, 1942
With Russian forces in full retreat, 4th and 11th panzer armies are racing towards Rostov to capture the last remaining Soviet stronghold on the Black Sea. Army Group B is experiencing heavy casualties as the inexperience of the minor axis armies is apparent, but also more soviet reinforcements are entering this sector. But this was expected as Army group A is dashing eastward with great speed.
July 7th 1942
Army Group A captured the city of Voroshilovgrad, which is a key city because it is a major railroad hub and can be used to help support the offensive. The Soviets lost nearly 80,000 soldiers and abandoned nearly 350 tanks, which the Wehrmacht would consider a gift considering this campaign will be decided by rapid armored advancement.
July 9th 1942
The Red Air force stages a desperate raid to hamper German railroad and supply lines by bombing the city of Odessa. Many in the Soviet high command consider it suicide but Stalin still wants the Red Air force to show it is still a force to be reckoned with.
This day would be a dark day for the Red air force, with 500 bombers involved in the raid; nearly 340 are either shot down or heavily damaged. The Russians haven’t learned the art of fighter escort and lost 84 fighters in the process. The Germans only lost 48 planes, but many of these pilots bailed out so they will be able to fight another day. This tragedy along with the relentless German offensive will tip the scale in the German favor and the Red air force will only be capable of defensive sorties for the time being.
July 11th 1942
Army Group A is still making rapid progress as many units are on the eastside of Rostov and any day now the Russians will be cut off from the city. 1st and 2nd Panzer armies are pushing towards the Volga and meeting stiffer resistance. The Russians believe the Germans main objective is to capture Stalingrad to destroy the factory facilities there. But the Germans are going to swing their main thrust southward with Army group A and head towards the Caucasian oil fields. The Soviet Units there have been stripped bare because most of their armored divisions have transferred north in the defense of Moscow the previous winter.
The Russians believe the oil fields are safe because the Caucasian mountains are very treacherous terrain and impossible for tanks to maneuver. But the Germans realize this obstacle too and attached many mountaineer divisions to 17th Panzer army. These elite soldiers have been training for this opportunity for 2 years to fight and they are anxious to show the German High command how instrumental they will be in this offensive.
July 13th 1942
A Soviet counterattack out of Voronezh has hit the flank of Army Group B and has penetrated nearly 15 km in the first day. The German high command is in panic they believed it would have taken the Soviets longer to muster any kind of counterattack. The Germans realize they cannot depend on the minor Axis nations to stop any kind of Soviet attack head on. So, it is decided 4th Panzer army from Army Group A will be transferred to Army Group B to combat the Soviet attack.
Continue to Part 2...