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The problem with Bagration


Zveroboy1
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(No it is not that the Germans are getting the **** kicked out of them.)

 

The problem with Bagration imo is that it is such a large operation in scope that it is difficult to find source material for inspiration or vignettes of the appropriate size to make scenarios for CMRT. Most history books covering it deal with army groups, armies, divisions at best. There isn't so much litterature about battalion or company size engagements.

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There is, you just need to dig deeper. If you are an Anglophone then of course it's easier to find finely detailed information about eg. the Bulge, but if you know some German or Russian then it isn't so hard. It also helps if you have an unlimited budget to acquire obscure foreign books, or if you have the time and patience to haul for accounts through interweb sites like http://iremember.ru/en/but you can't just say that there is no source material. Having said that, there will always be infinitely more material available about something like Normandy '44 than eg. the Battle for Crete because it's a more popular subject to wargamers. And since Normandy is popular, there is more research done on it. It's a vicious cycle!

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Right, but I mean even within the realm of the East front.

Compared to every other time period, 1941, 1942, 1943 or 1945, Bagration is probably the offensive with the less books written about it. The Germans for very understandable reasons have tended to write as little as possible about it in their memoirs. I think Von Mellenthin just spends 6 lines in his book about it for instance. In the West, both for political reasons and because it was overshadowed by Overlord, it hasn't been covered in depth much. I don't think Glantz has covered it yet.

 

So yes in virtually every other period of the war in the East, there are dozens and dozens of possible engagements I find myself wanting to recreate but for Bagration because of its scope and because it is usually covered on a strategical level, it struggle a bit lol.

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Wait.. there are a ton of source material for Bagration.. I mean, some of it obscure, but many not.  For example, here are some books on the subject: (I got some of these from Wikipedia, but I've read some of them too)

  1. Beevor, Antony; Vinogradova,, Luba, eds. (2006). A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army. (great book) - READ
  2. Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (1995). When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (another good book - READ)
  3. Glantz, David M. (2002). The Battle for L'vov, July 1944 - READ
  4. Buchner, Alex (1991). Ostfront 1944: The German Defensive Battles on the Russian Front 1944 - Not read.
  5. Bagration 1944: The Destruction Of Army Group Centre (Campaign)  (Osprey book, excellent)

Anyway.. even the web has tons of materials on the battles:

 

Here is a US Army Study on Bagration:

Anyway.. I'm sure in some of these materials, small tactical battles can be surmised and developed.  That said, Bagration from a tactical point of view is perfect for a CM game, the materials, units and other TO&E are "of the good stuff" on both sides.. Anyway.. I can't wait for the drive on Berlin and the Op Spring Awakening and Seelow Heights.. I could go on and on.. Love it far more than the Western Front, but I've always been an Ost Front guy.

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Yes tactically it is good, the equilibrium of the forces involved is perfect. Unlike other periods, no side has a tank the other side can't beat, like KV's at the beginning of the war or some stugs in CMBB that were impossible to penetrate frontally. And it is refreshing to have the Soviets on the offense for a change. I actually like that aspect.

 

Guys, I know there are books on Bagration, I am reading one at the moment.

Good call on the The Battle for L'vov and theVasily Grossman references though, these two sound like they would fit the bill and have plenty of details. Some of the other books mentioned though just prove my point, When Titans Clashed, for instance is a great book but it is a strategic study of the whole war and I doubt the Osprey book goes into too much details at the battalion or company scale.

 

Anyway I know it is not impossible to make interesting scenarios for Bagration; all I am saying is that of all the time periods of the war on the East front, this is probably the one where source materials for small scale engaments are the hardest to find.

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That maybe true especially for the guys who can't translate Russian. But the summer of 44 was a good place to start and work out the kinks before we head to Moscow Kiev Stalingrad and Kursk. I think the system will really shine around Leningrad too. Even given that, source material in English will be easier but still hard to come by for small unit actions in those sectors. A lot or research and creativity goes into fun and interesting scenarios regardless of the timeframe and theater.

 

Kevin 

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Good call on the The Battle for L'vov and theVasily Grossman references though, these two sound like they would fit the bill and have plenty of details. 

 

I've read the Grossman book, and while it is very good, I don't recall that it was a good source of tactical detail.  I have not read the Glantz book but have read very many of his other books and generally they do not include much tactical detail.  

 

There are several other books, however, including:

Soviet Blitzkrieg by Dunn; rather detailed, tedious book with lots of info about OOB and unit movements down to division scale--you could probably come up with plausible scenarios based on this book;

Belorussia 1944 by the Soviet General Staff, translated and edited by Glantz; kind of similar to Dunn's book, although Dunn's is more detailed.

East Front Drama by Hinze.  I have not read yet, but flipping through it seems to reveal more detailed info, sometimes down to battalion and regiment level.

Battle for White Russia by Niepold (out of print).  Again, I haven't read yet, but flipping through seems to indicate a focus on the army/corps level.

500 Days:  the War in Easter Europe by McAteer.  While this book focuses on strategic level, the author fairly often dives down to the tactical level with some interesting anecdotes.

 

All of the books listed above are available on Amazon, although the Niepold book is out of print and $$.

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East Front Drama (Hinze) is certainly worth a look, as are a number of other books by the same author for information on actions in Army Groups South and Centre up to the end of the war. The German divisional histories are also a good source. At the least you should fnd enough for a good background to base your scenario on factt

 

However, it is true that there ismore information on the earlier campaigns such as Stalingrad and Kursk. Most of the German records of  Army Group Centre were lost or destroyed in June 1944 nd few Germans escaped the trap. This makes the source material fragmentory at best. Perhaps a better setting for Bagration scenarios are Model's operations to stabalise the front and the Lvov operation

Edited by LUCASWILLEN05
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I agree with the OP - it is far too difficult to pick through the whole thing. I have tried and tried to find something that would work as a scenario or a mini campaign and it is just too much like hard work. While I don't claim that my Eastern Front shelf is the most comprehensive I have the Erickson volume, the Glantz stuff plus the General Staff studies, Newton's book about AG North and Haupt's about AG Centre a couple of Ospreys, plus Nafziger's and Charles C Sharp's order of battle works and a few more besides.

 

I have rummaged extensively across the various mapping sites and picked away at both German and Russian language sites using the books above as pointers and found myself having to use translation sites and then work out a German spelling of a place and then work out what the Russian equivalent might be and then confirm that the either of those names are relevant on the modern atlas.

 

On top of that - if I am lucky enough to solve that problem - I then have to pick through different map marking symbology to work out what is what and then after all of that decide whether I can make a scenario from it.

 

Even if I get that lucky and come up with something that is historical/semi historical - I then have to smash away in the editor to try and make it work.  So why would I bother ....

 

Compare with other periods/fronts - the job is far easier.

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Finding detailed accounts on tactical battles is hard indeed for Bagration in my experience, compared to the wealth of sources available on Normandy/Market Garden/Bulge.

 

That is why I decided to go the fictional/semi historical route. All scenarios I have done for Bagration are fictional but rooted somewhat in reality (the backstory and units names are often historical, but maps and OOB are mostly/completely fiction). 

 

Take a look for example at Fester Platz Polozk. The backstory is historical. The map only slighty resembles the real city though. There was a bridge over the river in the city of Polozk. There was heavy fighting for it. But the streets/buildings/OOB are pure fiction.

 

But hey, so what. If the scenario is fun to play, good enough for me. Use your imagination  :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

bit late, but yes there is a lack of detailed tactical info on Bagration. its difficult to make strict historical scenarios, but there is enough info to make semi-historical or "representative" scenarios of tactical fighting in that period.

 

Dunn's "Soviet Blitzkrieg" is very useful. It has good detailed TO&E for both sides; lots of useful info on force levels, troop density, troop disposition, weather, good general description of the campaign. It has enough info to get the bare bones of a scenario. The only drawback is that it only covers about the first two weeks, i.e. from june 22 to mid-july;

 

Dunn's "Hitler's Nemesis: the Red Army" covers the whole war, 41-45, but it gives you a good idea of how Russian units were organised in practice, ie. experience/leadership level, attached artillery/SPG/Tank units, force levels. Very useful to figure out what a typical infantry or mobile unit would look like at any time of the war;

 

Jentz "Panzertruppen", vol 1 and 2, does the same for German Panzer and PanzerGrenadier units from 1939 to 1945. A bit pricey, but if you want to know the TO&E and actual strength of any division in any month, you will either get the exact number and type of tanks or a good approximation;

Edited by Sgt Joch
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