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When you read about the Eastern Front in WW2, what event most interests you?
I find the entirety of the eastern front campaign and collapse by the Wehrmacht to be fascinating yet huge in scope and detail. Part of the fascination is probably due to the lack of study and understanding in the U.S., but most of it is bacause of the amazing story of an unbeatable force worn down in a brutal war of attrition and waste.
If I had to chose which part holds my interest the most, it would have to be Germany’s slow and painful retreat and defeat after Stalingrad. Krusk, the Korsun Pocket, Königsberg, all of it holds my rapt attention. While I am no fan of what the Nazis did and stood for, the eastern front is an amazing epic – the end-game was clear to all, yet men fought on in futility with diminished manpower and material, scoring small successes but mostly suffering huge failures, knowing all along the stakes for their homeland if they failed.
I gobble up books on the subject on a par to my wife’s romance novel affliction.
The mass murders from 1930–1945 on what became the Eastern Front in WWII by both Stalin and Hitler. Millions were massacred by two perverse leaders.
Both Stalin and Hitler were megalomaniac monsters. One is no worse nor no better than the other. The difference between them is that Stalin was smarter.
However, there is a difference between the Russian people and the Germans. The Germans voted to put Hitler in power and they adoringly followed his oft repeated statements of what he intended to do in the world. (See Hitler’s Willing Executioners for proof).
The Russians never voted for Stalin. And they suffered mightily under him as they had under the Tsars. Even so, they were defending their country valiantly when Germany invaded them.
I don’t think it is fair to say that the Russians themselves were as bad as the Germans. Stalin and his henchmen were. The people were not.
The Germans never elected Hitler. He was defeated for the Presidency of Germany and was later appointed Chancellor and then after the death of Hindenberg rapidly seized power. Not that they didn’t love the bastard!
I feel that the battle on the Eastern front was a success to the Nazi’s and the Red Army. I dont agree to what Hitler did to the Jewish. But through 1942-1945 the battles on the Eastern front got worse since America joined the fight when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. And Gen.Dwight D. Einshower warned Gen. Dougless MacArther about the Japanese in Hawaii when Dougless was in the Phillipines and still the Phillipines got attacked by the Japanese.
The Eastern Front is truly an epic, a giant canvas painted in battles and brutality.
If you have not read it, I recommend Antony Beevor’s STALINGRAD.
Also, a great read…..FROM NORMANDY TO THE RUHR with the 116th Panzer Division in World War ll. Written by Heinz Gunther Guderian (Son of Gen. Heinz Guderian.) It is, I believe, out of print. If you can pick one up – used – do it. I guarantee it will be one of the finest WW ll books you will read.
Agree with recommendation of the Beevor book. Also, the feature film Enemy at the Gates depicts the battle vibrantly, if not completely authentically.
Remember,also, that the Germans were
dressed for summer. They thought they
had a cakewalk when they crossed into
actually one of fascinating (for me) facts is that after blunder of Soviet-Finland war when tiny Finland held off poorly prepared Soviets and overwhelmingly successful blitzcreig of conquering powerful French military many western (US and UK) military advisers had very low expectations of the Soviet and the fact that they held off for so long was very surprising for almost everyone.
There is a terrific podcast on the topic (hardcore history by Dan Carlin) which I (Russian ex-naval officer) really appreciated
I agree with Hardison. We have only partial knowledge of that Front due the lack of information from Russia. Still amazed by the oportunities lost by the Germans. I believe it was Von Rundstedt who said that they lost because …”there were too many Russians and a austrian corporal”… The difficulties are increased by the language and the different spelling of Russian localities.
It wasn’t the colonel who caused the German whupping by the Russians. In “The Third Reich at War,” it is shown that it was the arrogance of the German generals. They were so sure that the inferior Slavs would crumble before them that they did not bring uniforms or equipment adequate for the Russian winter. They thought it would take only 6 weeks.
Ironically, when the Germans invaded, many Russians greeted them, thinking they’d be liberated from Stalin, but German brutality made the Russians realize that as bad as the Communists were, the Germans were worse, machine gunning civilians, raping, stealing.. Again
German arrogance did them in. Had they behaved like Liberators, Stalin would have been deposed & Germany would have won the war
When Stalin started to exhort Russians to fight for their homeland, it didn’t fall on deaf ears because the Germans had already angered the Russians with their cruelty
In “The Great Terror”, I believe the author alluded to the idea that the Russians had already suffered a purge of the military before WWII. The Russians were militarily resorting to their burn and run strategy from the times of Napoleon during WWII.
Actually it was Hitler who directed that the winter supplies and uniforms be withheld. He felt that it would motivate his Generals to win early.
I believe that Hitler knew that if he waited until 1944, like his Generals wanted, the Russians would be too strong. The Germans didn’t have the natural resources or manufacturing capability to match the Soviets. When the Germans invaded Russia, only 10% of their military was motorized/ mechanized. The rest was either horse drawn or on foot and had to rely on trains for the most part. Of note, of the 10% of motorized and mechanzined (Trucks, Tanks, Etc…) a portion was captured equipment that the Germans had captured from earlier conflicts (Czech, Polish, etc..). The Wehrmacht staff had no illusions of their capabilities and begged to put off the invasion until 1944.
Can’t say much more than what the first two said, but just think about a “what if”. What if Hitler had allowed the troops to retreat back to Germany? If they had been there for the defence of Germany? Wow!
What if Hitler hadn’t been so stupid as to declare war on America the day after Pearl Harbor? Roosevelt had no intention of declaring war on Germany, and if we hadn’t entered the war, there is a good chance Hitler would have won it. Neither the French nor the British could have defeated Germany.
The U.S. was already fighting against the Axis in the Atlantic (U.S.S Reuban James). They were ready to go up against the the Bismark if it had come into their area of operations. Roosevelt was very interested in going to war against Germany, he just needed the provocation. France was already defeated. Britain was battling on with the aid of the Commonwealth, but clearly could not defeat Germany on its own. Russia would not have defeated Germany without the material aid from the West. If Hitler had not declared war on the U.S. as per his agreement with Japan the U.S. would have eventually declared war on Germany.
FDR would have never had a declaration of war from Congress on Germany if Japan never of attacked Pearl Harbor.He had what he wanted,The Lend Lease Act with Britain.The Reuban James incident happened months before Pearl Harbor and no formal war declaration on Germany was gained.The only reason we where in the Atlantic before Pearl Harbor was to escort convoys and shore patrols along the Eastern Seabord for the lend lease act.
The surving crew members of The USS Reuban James were told not to say a word about the sinking of there ship to anyone.There ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat not far off the eastern coast of the US mainland.By the way my favorite battle is that of Stallingrad
Many give various reasons as to why Germany lost the war. In the long run it had very little to do with Stalingrad, Kursk, or Normandy. The problem was Field Marshall Leeb was not able to take Leningrad. If ole ‘slow boots’ had taken Leningrad and had therefore been able to turn his Army Group southward and eastward to carry the northern flank during the Battle for Moscow, then Moscow would have been lost and the war won for the Germans. Under that successful scenario Stalingrad, Kursk, and D-Day would not be in the history books. The source of the problem for Leeb, as with all the German Army, was bolt action rifles. Had the German Infantryman been equipped with semi-auto weapons then the world would be speaking German today. Unless of course Fat Man and Little Boy could have turned the tide of history.
Could not agree more with what’s already been said. For me I find Kursk most interesting.
It was already stated but the scope of the war on the Eastern Front is what fascinates me. It was an unrelenting, savage war fought with a ferocity possibly unparalleled in modern times. You only a have to look at a map of Russia and you realise the enormity of the task the Wehrmacht faced.
It really is the perfect story albeit a savage and brutal one.
There was a beginning, (Operation Barbarossa and the early German successes’), a middle, (The revival of the Red Army and the turning point of the war at Stalingrad & then Kursk), and then the end, (The total destruction of German Army in Berlin).
Stalingrad. Hitler’s mad orders to Von Paulus condemned the 6th Army, the Wehrmacht, and, ultimately, Germany.
The Eastern Front has always been a conflict for me. The Nazis were a terrible people, they corrupted a first world government into a den of gansters and killers. But the Communists, they were hardly better. It is of extreme difficulty to determine which is worse. I respect the Wehrmacht for their unyielding professionalism in face of such utter ruin, but I cannot praise them beyond that, they were manipulated into the worst war in history for no reason but bad ones. The Russians, or Soviets rather, were of gallent heroism in defending their country against arguably the best army of the world, but they were still a force of monsters, no better than the Nazis they gunned down. It was a remarkable time, something I can’t even begin to wrap my head around.
the magnificent battles fought in Russia are the stuff of true modern fatalistic tragedy-but i find the accidental battle of STALINGRAD to be the height of historic folly
Very good comments. What intrigues me is that in one unknown battle on the Eastern Front more soldiers were killed than the British,American,Canadian or French casualties for the entire war.(European Theatre) Obviously Stalingrad and Kursk stand out for me as far as individual battles are concerned. Every country on the allied side contributed greatly to the outcome of WW2, but there is no way on earth the Nazis could have been defeated if not for the Russians, considering that the Germans were close to producing the A-bomb and the lead they had in the production of jet fighters. If Hitler had not invaded Russia it is my opinion that the Americans would have fought the Japanese and left Europe to sort out their own affairs. What a different world that would have been.
And which unknown battle would that be?
the Germans were not that close to the A-bomb other than that i agree with your comment
How many Christian Ukrainians marched with the Nazi troops, specifically helping them identify and kill Ukrainian Jews. Did the Nazis get as far into Ukraine as Kiev gubernye (province)?
I know Christian Ukrainians who were allowed to emigrate to the U.S. after the war. They just wanted refuge until Ukraine became independent. They didn’t assimilate to American culture. I suspect these were among those who collaborated with the Nazis, believing the Nazis would restore Ukrainian independence.
In 1981 I briefly met the son of a Ukrainian officer who served with the Ukrainian units raised by the Wehrmacht. He and his father were living in Colorado. The son became very suspicious when I revealed that I knew more than the average American should know about the Ukrainian involvement and I never saw him again. Paranoia runs deep and thru the generations.
I am interested in getting email notice of replies although I forgot to click the box in my original question, so, if you reply, reply to this comment, if possible
Well I know the Wehrmacht did capture Kiev in September 1941 and thus made it over the Dnepr river but as for knowing the specific amount of Ukrainian’s who collaborated, of that I can’t be sure.
That topic is a minefield of conflictive information and it’s often erupted into public controversy.
It’s a fact as you probably already know that many Ukrainian’s did collaborate with the Nazi’s. However I think the numbers are far lower than many people think. Many Ukrainian’s were recruited as “Hiwis” (from Hilfwillige, “volunteers”) to clear ghettos and to conduct mass executions but that’s as much as I know.
The ghettos were created by Germans & Ukrainians who rounded up Jews from different towns & villages into one place. For instance, they forced 15,000 Jews to leave their homes to live in Bar, a town with a railroad station. Christians and Jews lived together there for generations on a friendly basis. My great grandfather was a highly respected Jewish blacksmith there. There were no ghettos in Ukraine although there were some shtetls, villages with Jewish majorities
Once the 15,000 Jews were herded into Bar, all Jews were forced to dig deep trenches, and then they were machine gunned and buried en mass. Hiwies were instrumental in such operations, which were common. Yet, it seems, many escaped Ukraine after the war by emigrating to the US to avoid punishment by Russia for collaborating with Germans.I sure understand why, but why did the U.S. Let them emigrate while they refused to allow Jews to enter the US, either to escape in 1939 on or after the war when they couldn’t go back to their former homes
The original question has derived into other subject, namely the extermination of different ethnias by two governments which I believe have no equals in modern History. Nevertheless, Bliztkrieg on Russia did not have a strategic planning and Adolf put his hand changing objectives according his political inspirations. Russia had distances and climate in her favour, Sorge, their master spy in Tokio advise that Japan did not intended to invade Manchuria, thus allowing Russia to have the eastern armies free to fight against Germany. Also the German Army was not prepared for extreme cold (weapons, clothing, supply system, etc) There is a lot of literature from the german side about this. Also Germany did not took advantage of Russians against Stalin, and Stalin developed the idea of defending the “Rondina” (mother russia). Russians were, and I believe still are, extremely patriotic. I just voted the Panther as the best WWII tank over the T54 -85, but I`m not sure what would haver happened if the Germans have had T -54 instead the Tiger! On the other hand I see that most of us are judging this Theater of Operations with our usual occidental view. Russians and specially eastern troops are oriental, so their way of fighting follows their culture!
I agree with you on the Panther. The “G” model ahd the 3 things nneded to become the outstanding tank that it was. Speed, protection and a potent main gun. There were Panthers still fighting as late as 1967 in the middle east conflicts, but that’s a different subject alltogether.
I agree with Mike that the later model series of Panthers were exceptional tanks. I believe my favorite, the workhorse of the Wehrmacht though is often overlooked. The MK IV, is my favorite and contributed throughout the majority of the war. Well designed, easy to maintain, easy to upgrade, and in the hands of a competent crew a threat to any opposing enemy armor on the battlefield to the end of the war.
Interesting subject, but I think it’s time for a new question. I love this feature but new questions seem to be few and far between.
Chuck in Montana
I think exploring the pre-war purge of the Soviet military leadership and it’s effects both on the initial war efforts and the officers that survived to learn in the brutal school that the Germans (and Stalin) forced those officers to master would be a great subject of future articles; and has been woefully underestimated in it’s effects on the war as a whole and the early years in particular.
In parallel, I think that the cooperation between the German and Soviet military staffs in researching armoured warfare has been glossed over in most history treatise. With the fall of the Soviet Union, I would be most interested to see what documentation might emerge concerning this crucial era of World War II.
Just how close the Germans came to winning the Eastern front, also the pure brutality on both sides staggers believe at times.
The Airwar on the Russian front is of great interest to me. There were airbattles fought in the most extreme weather by men we have heard little of and even equipment not as well known as what fought and flew in the west, How about the Romanian LAR fighter?
If you have played Medal Of Honor: European Assault the video game, you have a good idea about WWll. What it doesnt tell you is that many hardships were faced during that war and that so many people died its juts not believable how stupid the world is, WHY DECLARE WAR!?!?!? If you are not going to win the war, why attempt it in the first place????
The activities of the Einsatzgruppen in the Eastern theater.
The Germans never had a chance to win in Russia. The lend lease supplies helped, but in my opinion, very little. German heads were swelled by the early western front battles because the allies were ready to fight WWl over again. What ultimately won the war was the incredable industrial might of both the U.S. AND the Soviet Union. Once the germans starting making cheaper but highly functional weapons (the MG42 to mention just one) and had Hitler left the war to his generals to decide, things might have turned out differently. We’ll never know now-THANK GOD
Why did the germans fight so long and so hard when the odds were against them ? Didn’t they see the futility and danger ?
i would have to say that the most interesting thing about WW2 (to me) was Hitler being forced to hide and command his troops from underground. also, he killed himself and his misstress. did it not occur to him to die with his wife?
hi sinda first let me say that hitler & eva braun was married. they were married in the bunker, the day before they commited succide. so he did die with his wife. on the other question. no one but no one could force hitler to do anything.i guess he chose to be in the bunker, because of the allied bombing which was extremely bad. if not the bunker, then where else?
beyond a doubt stalingrad was the beging of the end for germany.they lost 3 whole armys. the best being the 6th. army. they were the cream of the crop. 80 thousand of th 6th. were captured, of which only 6 thousand returned to germany, years after the war. i also think about kurst.all this , put germany into a terrible state. i love reading about the 2nd world war. i just whish that i had a better education, thank you all, the bird
I traveled across Russia last summer and one of the things that impressed me was the tremendous affect the “Great Patriotic War” had and still has on that country. Russian brides still leave their bouquets at their city’s war memorial. A few statistics: between 1941 and 1945, one out of seven Russians died as a result of the war. Russian males born in 1921-23 were of prime military age. !n 1945 only 3% were still alive. Irkutsk sent 200,000 men to the war; 50,000 were killed.
Rzhev Battle 1941-1943. -, known as the “Rzhev meat grinder” The bloodiest battle in human history. And the hushed historians.
At Rzhev salient were two thirds army divisions “center” for the attack on Moscow. Soviet losses in the battles at Rzhev were more than 2 million people, twice the losses in the Battle of Stalingrad. In the woods near Rzhev died 29th Army. The town itself was transformed into a lunar landscape. From the 40,000 population of the city there were only 248 people. After a bitter 15-month battle Rzhev and was not taken – the Germans themselves retreated to prepared positions.
This is the battle I wanted to talk about. Also the brilliant albeit immensely costly soviet counterattack into Ukraine and Eastern Europe, specifically Operation Bagration. The sheer scale and ferocity of this front was baffling.
And I find it surprising that the entire doctrine on which Soviet armies fought with, that is ‘Deep Battle’ was given by a general purged by Stalin.
This by far shows the dynamics of this bloody war. If not for the lend lease by US, this entore front could be called a war in it’s own right. Probably the biggest between two nations.
To me the one that interested me most was the taking of the last bridge
that could have been taken over by the Nazis in Belgium.
I recently read Retreat, M. Jones and Battle of the Tanks by L. Clark.
Both books brought home the terrible conditions under which both armies fought . I was amazed by the numbers of men and tanks and support materials the Soviets could put against the Wehrmacht even at the beginning of Barbarossa and yet that army maintained itself in the field until other German resources finally failed them through collapse.Another commenter used the word Epic. I agree. Never has such massive modern armies delivered such continuous furious battle along a continuous front.What fascinates me is that the peoples of the earth of this time, only some seventy years ago, could conceive such as a way of being, thinking and acting. The whole world at war! We cringe now as we are products of those same people!!!
the t-54-85 never existed maybe your are talking about the t-34-85 the main soviet medium tank of the war from 1944 onword. beacuase the main soviet tanks in ww2 were the t-34 types and th t-54-55 tanks wernt in mass production until 1947, thats 2-3 years after the war ended. and the best tank unfortunately was the t-34 beacuase it is still in service with many 3rd world countries and the panther has not been in service anywhere since the 1960’s. otherwise Iwould halve to agree german engeneeering was the best in the world, they just made there tanks too advanced and that is why they lost the war.
my pick of events are stalingrad, kursk and the battle for berlin. the eastern front was so far flung bloody and cruel, with so many horrific events that changed our world to this day. letting the russians take berlin was i think, the allies bigest mistake. even with todays hind sight it is hard to pick just one event. thanks for the chance to air my views.
The Germans’ push east was aided by their control of several eastern European nations like Rumania. This control was often obtained by a pre-war coup. What if Hitler had managed to engineer one in Poland?
There would have been two striking effects.
1. No invasion of Poland, so no causus belli for France and England.
2. When war with Russia came, German forces would start several hundred miles closer to Moscow and other key targets than they historically did.
Here’s some interesting speculation…….We sent thousands of trucks to the Soviet Union during the war. What if we had not sent the trucks? The Russians would not have been able to produce the mass quantity of tanks needed for their defense of the homeland. Their factories would have had to keep producing badly needed trucks for the war effort. This would have led to the mutual bleeding dry of the military might of both Germany and Russia. Both would have eventually lost the war. Perhaps, if we (Roosevelt) had not been so naive and supplied Russia with war meterial, this scenario of mutual destruction would have prevented the era of the Cold War?
Why was so much material lost in the Artic convoys from Britain to Russia.
Surely it would have been safer to transport munitions, etc from Alaska to Vladivostock?
I dont know
I find the personal perspectives of the participants of major battles and events to be the most interesting. With the fall of the Soviet Union, this previously inaccessible information is much more available (though the persons are rapidly aging). I found Laurence Rees “Their Darkest Hour: Confessions of a Lithuanian who shot Jews for the Nazis” both fascinating and deeply disturbing.
the battle of cholm
Why did so many Russians surrenderf in 1941:
Why were so many Russians killed 1942 onwards? Human waves versus artillery?
For every 1 German soldier, there were 10 Soviets. Torwards the end of the war when the Wehrmacht was starting to go on the defensive. They knew the war was lost, so they said “kill as many as you can”.
Very interesting points…I am a big fan of ww2 esp. the lessons for future generations.
The greatest difference of ww2 viz other conflicts was the extent of national mobilization. Germans could never hope to defeat the allies (after US entered the war). They were simply outproduced in the war. Germans understood this precarious balance and throughout 30’s laid plans to defeat enemies in short, lightning wars using paratroops, mechanized warfare etc. lebensraum was not for german living space…they had enough of that. It was for german economic space. They could not out produce the allies (uk/france/us/russia) without more resources.
Russia did not need the lend lease to win, though it did help (they mechanised their entire force very quickly with key equip. like trucks).
also i do not agree with ppl that war was lost due to hitler n this and that…he was visionary enough to push his generals to capture the whole of europe incl. france which was regarded as having the finest army in a matter of months. There were tactical mistakes made (at stalingrad, normandy landings etc.) but i dont believe a strategic mistake was made incl. opening up of the eastern front. Russia would have launched a devastating attack latest by 42/43. No army can have 5 mn losses and yet have enough men to defend its key cities. It is not possible to mobilize that fast. The russians were mobilizing on a war spree with over 5mn men ready waiting for war. hitler did come close to defeating them, but the russians were on full national mobilization before germans invaded. Again it was a battle of economics…men n equip were incidental. thoughts??
On June 22 1941 (on the eve of Napoleon’s Grand Invasion of Russia in 1812) ,at 0300 hours,Hitler launched Germany into Operation Barbarossa,and for the russian people this nightmare would not end until 1945,and the loss of millions dead. It draws my attention the siege of cities like Leningrad,by German Army Group North under Von Leeb.A soviet line of defense was made,with reserve troops fom Leningrad and groups of every male citizen,from workers batallions to schoolboys batallions,along the river Luga.German forces and PanzerGroup IV broke through the Luga bridgehead on 8 August and reached Novgorod and the river Volkhov by Aug.16.This tolled the russian deaths along the Luga line. By August 28 this city was completely besieged,suffering a horrible fate for many months to come.
Well it is without doubt the most critical point in recent history, if the Axis had have suceeded, and they very nearly did (only let down by supply chain and extreme winter) then they would have won and we would probably be speaking German globally.
When the allies invaded on DD and subsequent battles they were facing a massively crippled axis force and even then it was pretty close. So probably single most important turning point in World history!
I dont know, I never read about it
im new to this sight so forgive me if i stray from the readings. What amazes me that 8 of 10 Germans that felled in WWII died dealing with the Russians but for every German death, 15 Russians perished. The Russians still overwhelmed them with numbers. The Fatherland would of been wise to check the census data.
The Eastern Front represents the aspect of total war – the objective was to destroy a country with impunity. Some 12 000 Allied soldiers died on D-Day, if 25 million Russian dead is to be believed than over 17 000 Soviets died every day of Hitler’s war on them. The logistics involving the supplying the huge front line, in one month the Germans had conquered one and a half times the area of my country, South Africa, by the end of Dec 1941 close to 70 million Russians behind German lines, the epic sieges of Leningrad and Sevastopol, the army encirclement of Smolensk, the Holocaust by bullets and particularly the 2 day horror of Babi Yar, the Battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, Kharkov, Kursk, the invasion of East Prussia, the revenge of rape on a massive scale and the eventual taking of Berlin make this sector of the war both grotesque and mind-boggling. One author wrote “in the course of human history there has probably been no more terrible place than Eastern Europe in 1941 – 1945. Who can dispute that indictment?
Just looking at scope of the Russian efforts to move the factories east has to awe you. Stalingrad became a huge sink whole as the leaders on both sides were focused on the value of taking the city due to the name that was attached to it.
The rebuilding of the Red Army’s tanke force, the rebuilding of the Red Army’s Air Force and the development of the Soviet Riverine forces showed just how brutal the logistic demands imposed by the failed Soviet strategic response to the German Build ups along the western border.
German tankers without the most basic of maps, running into KV catagory vehicles (a massive surprise in most cases) that completely screwed up the time tables.
With all known reasons (climate, extended LOCs, broken reads/infrastructure, enormous front-line, failure of concentration of German forces, weak German allies, arrival of Russian reinforcements from the East, Stalin’s extraordinary – including some truly draconian measures IOT stop retreat etc…), still hard to imagine and understand how Germans were not able to proceed literally few more kilometers to seize Moscow!
Beevor’s book is good, but David Glantz is THE MAN when it comes to the Eastern Front. I would also add John Erickson to that list.
To answer the question, what interests me the most is the Northern Campaigns along the Finnish Border.
I’m most interested in the controversy surrounding Hitler’s insistence that Army Group Centre link up with elements from Army Group South to surround an unbelievable 600,000 men. The decision was likely the biggest reason the Wehrmacht would come up short in its attempt to take the Soviet Capital at Moscow.
While I grimace at Hitler’s constant interruptions throughout the course of the war with a self notion that he was the equal of Manstein or Guderian, I more or less think the decision was very sound and a good choice. Additionally I more or less concur with Hitler’s mindset that the key to victory was destroying the Red Army not the capture of large urban centers whose value were largely more political than strategic in nature. Had the Germans captured Moscow it very likely would have done nothing to alter the precarious situation the Wehrmacht was about to find itself as Stalin was about to unleash its first successful counteroffensive in early December after reinforcements from the east arrived in great numbers. It was better for them that they could at least say with confidence they never would have to face any of the men among those 600,000 that made up the Kiev Pocket.
I’m pretty sure it had something to do with all those troops Stalin had transferred from Vladivostok along the Siberian/Manchurian border once he was satisfied the Japanese were not planning any offensive actions against the Soviets in that neck of the woods. Also, the investment of some 600,000 captured Soviet infantry in the Kiev Pocket necessitated the postponement of the push towards Moscow earlier in the campaign.
I really don’t think Moscow was of much use on a strategic level and was purely a political target than anything else. Would not have done much to alter the course of the war in my not so humble opinion.
The Red Army’s story. They rose up from a relatively low-tech peasant army led by political appointees to one of the most technocratic forces on the world. Frankly, everybody in the West knows or assumes that the Wehrmacht was one of the most efficient militaries in the world (even though it owed a lot to luck). We tend to forget that the end goals of the Germans was literally genocide in the Slav regions. Their bravery and stories should always be clouded by that fact.
The Soviets’ brutal government somehow were the lesser of two evils in this war, but it still committed many crimes against its own people. The story of how its military severely handicapped by Stalin’s Purges, nonsensical orders, and very powerful enemies still managed to gain experience to outclass the Wehrmacht by 1944-45 is an amazing lesson in perseverance, in politics, and in military science. This story suffered during the Cold War from our almost blind reliance on German sources claiming human waves are the reason the USSR won, that every Tiger destroyed 20 T-34s, that the Wehrmacht fought more honorably than the Red Army, and other nonsensical claims. Seems that the Red Army won despite the wastage of the human waves in 1941. By 1944 they had maskirovka, brave soldiers, and occasionally great tactics.
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