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

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