Sunday, December 5, 2021

good morning jacob



Two fast moving armored probes

aim to take Moscow.

Steamrolled by Nazis

Entire armies, hundreds of thousand of soldiers,

lost to you in the space of days.  You've lost all

communications with your front.  The forces

left to your command swing wildly as would 

a headless beast.

Soviet High Command - Stavka

Stalin and his circle of hand-picked men

whose orders were to be rigorously obeyed

even if they made no sense to you.

Stalin's man to the West

to:  Marshal Timoshenko

Demonstrating only the greatest resolve you are to attack

our enemy in the area of river gate, between the Dvina and

Dnepr Rivers.  Vitebsk and Smolensk must not fall.


It was the best tank made in 1941.

There were problems.  No one bothered to provide radios

so how do you operate as a unit under a central command?

Commanders don't know how to use tanks effectively, anyway.

For many in senior command it is on the job training.  Incompetence.

Stalin's purge of Red Army officers left inexperience in command.

Two Corps of Red Army armor

about 1,500 tanks, charge headlong into

 General Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group point.

Although the lead 7th Panzer Division was forced

into retreat near a town named Senno, Russian

armor was soon halted in its tracks when confronted

with overwhelming firepower in prepared defense.

Russian tanks attacked without air cover or antitank guns.

There was no coordination with infantry for their protection. 

Stuka dive bombers methodically picked off Red Army tanks

from overhead.  After four days fighting the two Russian 

armored corps were decimated.  Only poorly equipped and 

ill-trained infantry units are left to protect the key river towns

of Vitebsk along the Dvina and Orsha along the Dnepr River.

Field Marshal Bock and General Hoth plot their moves.

The objective to shatter the bulk of the Russian Army this side

of the Dvina and Dnepr Rivers has been accomplished.  East

of these rivers we would encounter nothing more than partial 

forces.  It is probably no overstatement to say that the 

Russian campaign has been won in the space of two weeks.

General Franz Halder

Chief, Army High Command

3 July 1941

Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group

was the northern-most of the two armored pincers

used to envelope all the armies and territories

that lay between Minsk and Smolensk - 

the next objective on the highway to Moscow.

Whereas Guderian's southern route was

grasslands, Hoth's battlefields were forest.

Along the Dnepr south of Smolensk

were the remnants of Stalin's old line of defense,

dilapidated fortifications along the river's east bank.

Hollowed out and antiquated they proved to be

easily punctured by modern armor.

Russian resistance has become haphazard.

But unexpected.  German generals

assumed this campaign would be

another France - 

pierce the outer shell and feast

on the goodies inside.

It should be getting pleasant about now.

General Heinz Guderian

3rd Panzer Group Commander


prima donna 

not a team player

How wonderous it all is.

The general's imaginings come to life.

Guderian can't wait to get to Moscow.

As a matter of fact, the general has

already gotten a bit ahead of things.




©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, November 28, 2021

good morning jack


B  E  R  L  I  N


L  O  N  D  O  N

P  A  R  I  S

M  O  S  C  O  W



©  Tom Taylor 


Sunday, November 21, 2021

good morning jessicca



The quarrel among Germany's military leaders as to

how to defeat the communist colossus next door

continued unresolved even as plans were committed to action.

The military solution being the destruction of the Red Army

after having first pinning it down to a head-on all-in contest. 

Hitler's generals believed only a direct assault on Moscow

would force Stalin to put everything of value on the line -

 not only Moscow but Russia, the future of Marxism, 

and the dream of the Communist International.

Hitler's objectives included both political and economic 

goals as well as the destruction of the Red Army.

Germany would benefit greatly from accessing the wealth

of the Ukraine while simultaneously depriving the Soviets

of these resources critical to their war effort.

Leningrad wasn't quite as urgent an objective but still Hitler

placed it as one of his three initial targets of strategic importance.

Dispersing German military might over three broad fronts

was unimaginable among top Wehrmacht brass if the priority

was to be about bringing a quick victory.

That was the consensus, anyway.

Hitler is not dissuaded and has his way.

Stalin believed Hitler wanted the Ukraine more than Moscow

or Leningrad because of Germany's pressing economic needs.  

Despite strong reservations the Red Army shifted military forces

from the area of Minsk south to the front lines of the Ukraine.

The objective of this armored thrust was to swallow up 

as much as you could of the Russian army in one great gulp.

You only want to face them once.  In this instance it mostly worked.

Two German tank armies reached out two hundred miles and

brought into their grasp three hundred thousand front line

troops of the Red Army.  

German victory would require just this demonstration of speed. 

Berlin celebrates but problems appear.

Once the two panzer formations link up at Minsk

their blitzkrieg engines turn to idle.  They sit around

for days waiting for the foot soldiers to catch up.

Their own so-called noose is leaking Russians

because German containment relies on thinly

dispersed troops conducting patrols over large areas.

Meanwhile the Red Army is taking advantage of the lull

to further fortify its defenses around Smolensk, the next

big objective on Hitler's road to Moscow.  

The delay helped make Germany's battle for Smolensk 

costly to a degree they hadn't yet experienced until now.

General Dmitri Pavlov and his staff were made the scapegoats

for the disaster that befell Russian troops 22 June.

Within a week of the initial action these officers were arrested

and charged with treason.  Charges were subsequently dropped

to cowardice and incompetence but they were quickly shot,

all the same.

 What's wrong with this picture?  Not the old man.

How do a couple guys pushing around a heavy antitank gun

hope to compete with the rapid maneuvers of a tank?  

You don't.  Caught in wide open spaces like this it's bye-bye.

Still you go through the motions because maybe you get lucky

and take someone with you.

General Timoshenko, Stalin's man overseeing the Red Army,

is sent to the front to plug the hole left by Pavlov at Minsk.

The man wearing the Red Star next to Timoshenko is 

Marshal Georgy Zhukov - the Russian most responsible for 

Germany's historic defeats on the eastern front in World War 2.

General Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group heads east for Minsk.

Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group brings up the southern arm

of the envelopment.

The last Jew of Vinnitsa.

Hitler's political aims conflicted with his military goals.

Germany's one realistic chance of victory over the Soviets

would be to have Russia implode - overthrowing Stalinist rule.

There were, in fact, parts of the Russian population, particularly

in the Ukraine where German troops were welcomed as liberators.

Initially.  In the wake of the front line came the Nazi Special Action

troops.  They quickly eliminated elements of the community 

they understood would be obnoxious to the landscape's 

new landlords.

Roza Shanina was decorated for having 59 confirmed kills before 

she herself was killed shielding a fallen officer from enemy fire.

Women made up a large number of the snipers deployed 

against the Nazis in Russia. 




©  Tom Taylor

Sunday, November 14, 2021

good morning jeremy


Hitler's plan to conquer Russia

Russia was rapidly building its military

in response to Germany's quick

destruction of the French army,

Hitler saw a narrow window of maybe a year

before Germany's opportunity to defeat

the Soviets would close.  From that point

the German nation would be overtaken

in power by their communist rival to the east.

For Hitler, it was a now or never decision -

either destroy his nemesis Stalin

or fall under this Bolshevik's shadow.



Territory to be obtained in the east 

in order to ensure Germany's survival.

The vast agricultural lands of western Russia

would provide the bread basket needed

to feed Hitler's expanding Third Reich.

Natural Resources

Soviet Industry sits atop a wealth 

of the critical resources necessary

for building and sustaining a 

great nation.  

Hitler knew these Russian-mined riches

would free Germany of its economic

and military constraints were they in

his hands.

What a temptation.

The incompetence of the Red Army

was on full display before Hitler

in Russia's struggle to overcome

small, neighboring Finland in 

a recent border conflict.

Hitler may have had these thoughts 

in mind when he told his generals

that all they had to do was to kick in

the front door and the whole Soviet

house of cards would collapse.


Here along the Caspian Sea

just south of the Caucasus Mountains

lie all the energy wealth

Germany would ever need 

to power its expanding industries

and fuel its military ambitions.


With Russia's wealth in German hands

Hitler could afford to ignore any wartime

blockade from the meddlesome British.


The Tsar's jewel of the Baltic

to now become another Nazi Paris.

The Wehrmacht would love possession of this port

to supply their voracious armor pushing deep into Russia.

Military aid from Leningrad to the Red Army would also

be cut off with the capture of this city.

Wehrmacht - German Army


Once captured by the Germans 

Hitler's directive was to destroy

all evidence Moscow ever existed.

Red Army

This was not Poland or France.  No matter

how decisive the Panzer breakthrough,

no matter how many Russian POWs were

rounded up, no matter the cities occupied

by German forces - there they were ...

Russian troops, always awaiting your arrival

just a few miles further down the road.

Despite a months' long string of consecutive 

victories over Russian forces it was evident

to German commanders their strength was

steadily dissipating with each battle won.

Hitler turned to capturing Moscow

as the means to winning this war

having determined the Red Army 

was just too big to destroy.


Invading German troops faced 700 miles 

of flat horizons - a sea of grasslands 

stretching from Poland to Moscow,

the roads no more than country lanes

rutted from the wooden wheels 

of horse-drawn carts.

Primitive infrastructure

Roads were poor, when available.

They were covered by dust, mud

or lost in snow.

For peasants from surrounding villages

these Nazi troops may have seemed

the first evidence the Twentieth Century

had finally arrived.

Caucasus Mountains

All the oil you can imagine

is yours just beyond these passes.

No room for fancy blitzkrieg tactics, 


All that expensive armored hardware

is now reduced to an old man's slow 

dribble of one tank following another -

vulnerable to the deadly shenanigans 

rained down upon the Nazis from

dug-in troops high above.

Arctic Winters

String out the German campaign 

on the calendar and 

give the Russian Winter

a chance to save the day.

It was the subzero winds that 

destroyed Napoleon's army.

Soviet Armor

Reports from German tankers started 

coming in about a Russian tank whose

armor German cannons could not penetrate.

It was the best tank anyone had come to

know and yet, until now, no one knew it existed.

Now that we've taken the plunge

let's find out what's in the water.


Were Hitler to conquer Russia 

he would oversee an empire

second to none - 

giving him strategic freedom, 

the ability to impose his will 

about the globe.

Hitler's victory over Stalin

would need to be quick.

Germany had resources enough

to fuel the war effort for six months.

Beyond that the Nazi economy 

could not sustain a winning campaign.

Since speed was the critical factor

responsibility for a victorious conclusion

was placed in the hands of the panzers -

Germany's armored units.

Panzer mission:

Move rapidly to encircle Russian armies,

then handing them off to the German infantry

for capture or destruction.


There needed to be more motorized infantry.

Tanks were slowed a week at a time

waiting for foot soldiers to catch up.

Meanwhile Russian troops would 

sometimes slip the thin Nazi noose.

Barbarossa started 22 June, 1941.

By August Hitler knew his operation

to conquer Russia was in trouble.

Barbarossa - Hitler's operational name for his

invasion of Russia.




©  Tom Taylor