Siege of Odessa (1941)
Odessa was a port on the Black Sea in the Ukrainian SSR. On 22 June 1941, the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union, in August, Odessa became a target of the Romanian 4th Army and elements of the German 11th Army. Romanian forces suffered 93,000 casualties, against Red Army casualties estimated to be between 41,000 and 60,000. On 27 July 1941, Hitler sent a letter to General Ion Antonescu in which he recognised the Romanian administration of the territory between the Dniester and the Bug rivers, the Romanian Third Army had already crossed the Dniester on 17 July. On 8 August, the Romanian General Staff issued the Operative Directive No.31 instructing the 4th Army to occupy Odessa off the march and it was thought that the city garrison, which was heavily outnumbered, would surrender quickly. Odessa was heavily fortified by three lines and, thanks to the presence of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, could not be completely surrounded. The first line was 80 km long and situated 25–30 km from the city, the second and main line of defense was situated 6–8 km from the city and was about 30 km long.
The third and last line of defense was organized inside the city itself, the Red Army had 34,500 men and 240 artillery pieces in the area. Air support was provided by the 69 IAP, two squadrons and one bomber squadron. Later, other fighters joined the defenders, as did an Il-2 squadron, the defense of Odessa lasted 73 days from 5 August to 16 October 1941. On 10 August, in the sector of the 3rd Corps, in the sector of the 5th Corps, the 1st Armored Division broke through Odessas first line of defense. That evening, the Romanian division reached the line of defense. The 1st Cavalry Brigade took Severinovka and joined the 1st Armored Division, at the same time, the 10th Dorobanţi Regiment overran the Soviet forces at Lozovaya. The 4th Army gradually closed the circle around Odessa, but the offensive was stopped by Antonescu on 13 August to strengthen the line west of the Hadjibey bank. The offensive resumed on 16 August, as Romanian troops attacked along the entire line, the Soviet forces put up a stubborn resistance, launching repeated counter-attacks and taking heavy casualties.
The Royal Romanian Air Force actively supported the troops, disrupting Soviet naval traffic to and from Odessa. In support of the offensive, the Romanian Navy dispatched motor torpedo boats to the recently occupied port of Ochakiv. During the night of 18 August, the torpedo boats NMS Viscolul and NMS Vijelia attacked a Soviet supply convoy South of Odessa
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a union of national republics, but its government. The Soviet Union had its roots in the October Revolution of 1917 and this established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and started the Russian Civil War between the revolutionary Reds and the counter-revolutionary Whites. In 1922, the communists were victorious, forming the Soviet Union with the unification of the Russian, Ukrainian, following Lenins death in 1924, a collective leadership and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin suppressed all opposition to his rule, committed the state ideology to Marxism–Leninism. As a result, the country underwent a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization which laid the foundation for its victory in World War II and postwar dominance of Eastern Europe. Shortly before World War II, Stalin signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, in June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theater of war in history.
Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at battles such as Stalingrad. Soviet forces eventually captured Berlin in 1945, the territory overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War emerged by 1947 as the Soviet bloc confronted the Western states that united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. Following Stalins death in 1953, a period of political and economic liberalization, known as de-Stalinization and Khrushchevs Thaw, the country developed rapidly, as millions of peasants were moved into industrialized cities. The USSR took a lead in the Space Race with Sputnik 1, the first ever satellite, and Vostok 1. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, the war drained economic resources and was matched by an escalation of American military aid to Mujahideen fighters. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost.
The goal was to preserve the Communist Party while reversing the economic stagnation, the Cold War ended during his tenure, and in 1989 Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist regimes. This led to the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements inside the USSR as well, in August 1991, a coup détat was attempted by Communist Party hardliners. It failed, with Russian President Boris Yeltsin playing a role in facing down the coup. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the twelve constituent republics emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union as independent post-Soviet states
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy which existed between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania. As such, it is distinct from the Romanian Old Kingdom. From 1859 to 1877, Romania evolved from a union of two vassal principalities under a single prince to a full-fledged independent kingdom with a Hohenzollern monarchy. During 1918-20, at the end of World War I, Eastern Moldavia, in 1947 King Michael was compelled to abdicate and a socialist republic ruled by the Romanian Communist Party replaced the monarchy. The 1859 ascendancy of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Wallachia under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire united an identifiably Romanian nation under a single ruler. On 5 February 1862 the two principalities were united to form the Principality of Romania, with Bucharest as its capital. On 23 February 1866 a so-called Monstrous coalition, composed of Conservatives and radical Liberals, the German prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as Prince of Romania, in a move to assure German backing to unity and future independence.
He immediately adopted the Romanian spelling of his name, Carol, on 15 March 1881, as an assertion of full sovereignty, the Romanian parliament raised the country to the status of a kingdom, and Carol was crowned as king on 10 May. Abstaining from the Initial Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Romania entered the Second Balkan War in June 1913 against the Tsardom of Bulgaria,330,000 Romanian troops moved across the Danube and into Bulgaria. One army occupied Southern Dobrudja and another moved into northern Bulgaria to threaten Sofia, Romania thus acquired the ethnically-mixed territory of Southern Dobrudja, which it had desired for years. In 1916 Romania entered World War I on the Entente side, the term came into use after World War I, when the Old Kingdom was opposed to Greater Romania, which included Transylvania, Banat and Bukovina. Nowadays, the term mainly has a historical relevance, and is used as a common term for all regions in Romania included in both the Old Kingdom and present-day borders.
Romania delayed in entering World War I, but ultimately declared war on the Central Powers in 1916, War with the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 resulted in the occupation of Budapest by Romanian troops and the end of Béla Kuns Bolshevik regime. At the Paris Peace Conference, Romania received territories of Transylvania, part of Banat, thus, Romania in 1920 was more than twice the size it had been in 1914. Although the country was satisfied and had no territorial claims, it aroused the enmity of Bulgaria, and especially Hungary. Greater Romania now encompassed a significant minority population, especially of Hungarians, by contrast, the prewar Romanian state had only one real minority, but nonetheless anti-Semitism was widespread. Transylvania had significant Hungarian and German population, and with a contemptuous attitude towards Romanians. Both groups were excluded from politics as the postwar Romanian regime passed an edict stating that all personnel employed by the state had to speak Romanian
In 1956, as the Commander of Warsaw Pact forces, Konev led the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution by Soviet armoured divisions. Konev was born on 28 December 1897 into a peasant family near Podosinovets in Vologda Governorate and he had little formal education and worked as a lumberjack. In the spring of 1916, he was conscripted into the Imperial Russian Army, Konev was sent to the 2nd Heavy Artillery Brigade at Moscow and graduated from artillery training courses. In 1917, he was sent to the 2nd Separate Heavy Artillery Battalion on the Southwestern Front as a junior sergeant and fought in the Kerensky Offensive. When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917 he was demobilised and returned home, but in 1919 he joined the Bolshevik party, during the Russian Civil War he served with the Red Army in the Russian Far Eastern Republic. His commander at this time was Kliment Voroshilov, a colleague of Joseph Stalin. This alliance was the key to Konevs subsequent career, in July 1938 he was appointed commander of the 2nd Red Banner Army.
In 1937 he became a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet and in 1939 a candidate member of the Party Central Committee. He commanded the Kalinin Front from October 1941 to August 1942, playing a key role in the fighting around Moscow, for his role in the successful defense of the Soviet capital, Stalin promoted Konev to Colonel-General. In the summer of 1942 Konev led the Kalinin Front and the Western front in the battle on the Rzhev salient, Konev held Front commands for the rest of the war. He commanded the Soviet Western Front until February 1943, the North-Western Front February–July 1943, in David Glantzs view, Konevs forces generated a major portion of the element of surprise. The result was that the Germans seriously underestimated the strength of the Soviet defences, the commander of 19 Panzer, General G. Schmidt, wrote that We did not assume that there was even one fourth of what we had to encounter. After the victory at Kursk, Konevs armies retook Belgorod, Kharkiv, the subsequent Korsun–Shevchenkovsky Offensive led to the Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket which took place from 24 January to 16 February 1944.
The offensive was part of the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, in it, the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts, respectively, by Nikolai Vatutin and Konev, trapped German forces of Army Group South in a pocket or cauldron west of the Dnieper river. During weeks of fighting, the two Red Army Fronts tried to eradicate the pocket, the subsequent Korsun battle eliminated the cauldron, according to Milovan Djilas, Konev openly boasted of his killing of thousands of German prisoners of war, The cavalry finally finished them off. We let the Cossacks cut up as long as they wished and they even hacked off the hands of those who raised them to surrender the Marshal recounted with a smile. For his achievements in Ukraine, Konev was promoted by Stalin to Marshal of the Soviet Union in February 1944 and he was one of Stalins favourite generals and one of the few senior commanders whom even Stalin admired for his ruthlessness. During 1944 Konevs armies advanced from Ukraine and Belarus into Poland, in May he participated in an unsuccessful invasion of the Balkans, together with Generals Rodion Malinovsky and Fyodor Tolbukhin
Siege of Leningrad
The siege started on 8 September 1941, when the last road to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, Leningrads capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North. By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output and it has been reported Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the citys Hotel Astoria. According to a sent to Army Group North on 29 September, After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. Following the citys encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot, in this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population.
Hitlers ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns, Army Group North under Feldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south, thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was merely defensive. The Germans planned on lack of food being their weapon against the citizens. On 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised First response groups of civilians, in the next days, Leningrads civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk, Pulkovo. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Kolpino, in the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrads northern suburbs since the 1930s, and was now returned to service.
Even the guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad, the 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August. The Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officers corpse, after the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepners 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army — despite some 350,000 men lagging behind — forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line. This had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, the Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga
First Battle of Kharkov
The Soviet 38th Army was ordered to defend the city while its factories were dismantled for relocation farther east. The German 6th Army needed to take the city in order to close the gap between the 4th Panzer Group and the 17th Army. By 20 October the Germans had reached the edge of the city. In that time, most of Kharkovs industrial equipment had been evacuated or rendered useless by the Soviet authorities, in the autumn of 1941, Kharkov was considered one of the Soviets most important strategic bases for railroad and airline connections. It not only connected the east-west and north-south parts of Ukraine, but several regions of the USSR including the Crimea, the Caucasus, the Dnieper region. Kharkov was one of the largest industrial centers of the Soviet Union, one of its greatest contributions was the Soviet T-34 tank that was both designed and developed at the Kharkov Tractor Factory. It was considered to be the most powerful tank plant in the country, other factories that were located in the city included the Kharkov Aircraft Plant, Kharkov Plant of the NKVD, and the Kharkov Turbine Plant.
Military products that were in Kharkov before the battle started included, tanks, Su-2, artillery tractors,82 mm mortars, sub-machine guns and other military equipment. The main objective for the German troops was to capture the railroad and military plants, adolf Hitler himself stressed the importance of those military plants stating, … The second in importance is south of Russia, particularly the Donets Basin, ranging from the Kharkov region. It was rated at 901,000 people on 1 May 1941, in September 1941 the population skyrocketed to 1.5 million people, due to numerous evacuees from other cities. After multiple attacks and many deaths, the population of Kharkov decreased to 180 –190,000, Kharkov was one of the most important Soviet centers for the fleeing Jewish population. According to records, Kharkov had 10,271 people of Jewish ethnicity living in the city, 75% of whom were women, after the battle, many of them were either transferred to concentration camps or executed. After the Battle of Kiev, Army Group Center was ordered to redeploy its forces for the attack on Moscow, Army Group South, and in particular Walther von Reichenaus 6th Army and Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagels 17th Army took the place of the Panzer Divisions.
Meanwhile, needed to stabilize its southern flank and poured reinforcements into the area between Kursk and Rostov, at the expense of its forces in front of Moscow. The Southwestern Front, which had completely destroyed during the battle of Kiev, was re-established under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko. The 6th, 21st, 38th and 40th Armies were reconstituted almost from scratch, with the Battle of Moscow under way, the Germans had to protect their flanks, and on 6 October von Reichenau advanced through Sumy and Okhtyrka in the direction of Belgorod and Kharkov. On the same day, the 17th Army commenced its offensive from Poltava towards Lozova, the Southwestern Fronts 6th Army and 38th Army failed to conduct a coordinated defense and were beaten back. In the lead up to the Battle of Moscow, the Red Army suffered a defeat at Vyazma and Bryansk
Nazi Germany is the common English name for the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Under Hitlers rule, Germany was transformed into a fascist state in which the Nazi Party took totalitarian control over all aspects of life. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943, the period is known under the names the Third Reich and the National Socialist Period. The Nazi regime came to an end after the Allied Powers defeated Germany in May 1945, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. The Nazi Party began to eliminate all opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the powers and offices of the Chancellery, a national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitlers person, and his word became above all laws, the government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitlers favour.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending, extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen. The return to economic stability boosted the regimes popularity, especially antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime. The Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the purest branch of the Aryan race, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were murdered in the Holocaust. Opposition to Hitlers rule was ruthlessly suppressed, members of the liberal and communist opposition were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. The Christian churches were oppressed, with many leaders imprisoned, education focused on racial biology, population policy, and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased the Third Reich on the international stage.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. Beginning in the late 1930s, Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive territorial demands and it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Hitler made a pact with Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September 1939. In alliance with Italy and smaller Axis powers, Germany conquered most of Europe by 1940, reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas, and a German administration was established in what was left of Poland. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the tide gradually turned against the Nazis, who suffered major military defeats in 1943
The Demyansk Pocket was the name given to the pocket of German troops encircled by the Red Army around Demyansk, south of Leningrad, during World War II on the Eastern Front. The pocket existed mainly from 8 February to 21 April 1942, a much smaller force was surrounded in the Kholm Pocket at the town of Kholm, about 100 km to the southwest. Both resulted from the German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow, the successful defence of Demyansk, achieved through the use of an airbridge, was a significant development in modern warfare. Its success was a contributor to the decision by the Wehrmacht command to try the same tactic during the Battle of Stalingrad. The intention was to sever the link between the German Demyansk positions, and the Staraya Russa railway that formed the lines of communication of the German 16th Army. However, owing to the very difficult wooded and swampy terrain, and heavy snow cover, on 8 January, a new offensive called the Rzhev–Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation started.
Their commander was General der Infanterie Walter Graf von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt, commander of the II Army Corps, the first thrust was made by the 11th Army, 1st Shock Army and the 1st and 2nd Guards Rifle Corps released for the operation from Stavka reserve. The front soon settled as the Soviet offensive petered out due to difficult terrain, the pocket contained two viable airfields at Demyansk and Peski capable of receiving transport aircraft. However the operation did use up all of Luftflotte 1s transport capability, on 21 March 1942, German forces under the command of Generalleutnant Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach attempted to manoevre through the Ramushevo corridor. Soviet resistance on the Lovat River delayed II Corps attack until April 14, over the next several weeks, this corridor was widened. A battle group was able to break the siege on 22 April, out of the approximately 100,000 men trapped, there were 3,335 lost and over 10,000 wounded. The supplies were delivered through over 100 flights of whitewashed Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft per day, the Luftwaffe lost 265 aircraft, including 106 Junkers Ju 52,17 Heinkel He 111 and two Junkers Ju 86 aircraft.
In addition,387 airmen were lost, fighting in the area continued until 28 February 1943. The Soviets did not liberate Demyansk until 1 March 1943, with the retreat of the German troops, the success of the Luftwaffe convinced Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and Hitler that they could conduct effective airlift operations on the Eastern front. Furthermore, it determined Hitler in his belief that encircled troops should automatically hold on to their territory, despite the Stalingrad airlift, the Germans suffered a devastating defeat nonetheless. Stalingrad, The Air Battle, 1942-January 1943, «Наука»,1969 Институт военной истории Министерства Обороны СССР, под редакцией и с предисловием члена-корреспондента АН СССР генерал-лейтенанта П. Жилина, cоставил и подготовил сборник кандидат военных наук, доцент, Утенков, научно-техническая работа проведена подполковником В. The Ghosts of Demiansk, In Memory of the Soldiers of the Soviet 1st Airborne Corps, the Soviet-German War 1941-1945, Myths and Realities, A Survey Essay
The Workers and Peasants Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and after 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution, the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. The Red Army is credited as being the land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II. During operations on the Eastern Front, it fought 75%–80% of the German land forces deployed in the war, inflicting the vast majority of all German losses and ultimately capturing the German capital. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote, There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, at the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters,1.8 million dead,5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners and he estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million.
Therefore, the Council of Peoples Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918 and they envisioned a body formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes. All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible, in the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary. Because the Red Army was composed mainly of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations, some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army, along with some women, flooded the recruitment centres. If they were turned away they would collect scrap metal and prepare care-packages, in some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy, Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for war, Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as peoples commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars, at a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked, We have no army.
The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies and we have no power to stay the enemy, only an immediate signing of the peace treaty will save us from destruction. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledins Volunteer Army in the River Don region, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics. The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, a series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, and the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. The Whites defeated the Red Army on each front, Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked, the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchaks army in June, and the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-November the White armies were all almost completely exhausted, in January 1920, Budennys First Cavalry Army entered Rostov-on-Don. 1919 to 1923 At the wars start, the Red Army consisted of 299 infantry regiments, Civil war intensified after Lenin dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly and the Soviet government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, removing Russia from the Great War
Battle of Brody (1941)
It is known in Soviet historiography as a part of the border defensive battles. Although the Red Army formations inflicted heavy losses on the German forces, 1st Panzer Group, led by Generaloberst Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, was ordered to secure the Bug River crossings and advance to Rovno and Korosten with the strategic objective of Kiev. It deployed two Corps forward and advanced between Lviv and Rovno in an attempt to cut the Lviv–Kiev railway line, thus driving a wedge along junction point between the Soviet 5th and 6th Armies. The Southwestern Front, under the command of General Mikhail Kirponos, had received intelligence on the size. They were surprised when Stavka ordered a general counter-attack under the title of Directive No.3 on the authority of Chief of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, most of the headquarters staff were convinced that the strategy would be to remain in a defensive posture until the situation clarified. The general orders of Directive No, six Soviet mechanized corps, with over 2,500 tanks, were massed to take part in a concentric counter-attack through the flanks of Panzer Group 1.
To achieve this, the 8th Mechanized Corps was transferred from the command of the 26th Army, positioned to the south of the 6th Army and this essentially brought all the mobile assets of the Southwestern Front to bear against the base of von Kleists thrust toward Kiev. The primary German infantry formation operating on this sector of the front, at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, German armor was composed of a mix of Czech and German tanks, as well as small numbers of captured French and British tanks. Furthermore, nearly 50% of the tanks deployed by the Wehrmacht were the virtually obsolete Panzer I, of the 4000 armored vehicles available to the Wehrmacht, only 1400 were the new Panzer III and Panzer IV. In the first few hours of the invasion, German commanders were shocked to find that some Soviet tanks were immune to all anti tank weapons in use by the Wehrmacht, during pre-war exercises, Heinz Guderian noted that on their own, tanks were very vulnerable to infantry. While dispersing tanks among infantry formations solved many of the tanks weaknesses, at the beginning of June, the Red Army included over 19,000 tanks in their inventory, most of them light tanks such as the T-26 or BT-7.
The front armor of the T-26 was just 15mm thick, the poor design of Soviet shells meant that most rounds shattered on contact, rather than detonating. During the interwar years, far sighted military theorists such as Mikhail Tukhachevsky came to conclusions as Heinz Guderian regarding tanks in modern warfare. However, during the Great Purge Tukhachevsky was executed, Red Army tanks were dispersed widely throughout infantry divisions in the 1930s. Then came the shock of the Fall of France, however, by June 1941 this process was barely half complete, so many of the 10,000 tanks in the Red Army arsenal were still dispersed among infantry divisions on the eve of the invasion. This ensured that if the Red Army had a unified command. At full strength, a German Panzer Division was a formation with between 150 and 200 tanks, motorized infantry, motorized artillery, and motorized engineers. To support its logistical needs, each division included 2000 trucks
A much larger pocket was simultaneously surrounded in Demyansk, about 100 km to the northeast. These were the results of German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow, at the small Kholm pocket,5,500 German soldiers held it for 105 days. The pocket was supplied by air, but was too small for planes to land, supplies had to be dropped in, among the airdropped supplies were 35 of the first 50 prototype MKb 42 rifles. The German units in the pocket were mainly part of, 218th Infantry Division Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65 Infanterie-Regiment 553 Parts of the 123rd Infantry Division Jagdkommando 8 III, bataillon of the Luftwaffenfeldregiment 1 German forces made three attempts to relieve the pocket, in January and May 1942. While the first two failed the third one was successful, with the German forces in the pocket reduced in number to 1,200 by then. In July 1942, the Cholm Shield was awarded to the German defenders of the pocket, upon the suggestion of Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, Scherer was personally awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler for the command of the defense of Kholm.
Kholm was eventually liberated by the Red Army on 21 February 1944, the unit was found to have taken part in a minimum of 5,000 executions and a large number of deportations to concentration camps. Among them was the hanging of a girl in Kholm during the siege. Germany at War,400 Years of Military History, the Second World War in the Air, The Story of Air Combat in Every Theatre of World War Two. Media related to Battle of Kholm at Wikimedia Commons
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Nazi Germanys invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, which was launched on Sunday 22 June 1941. In the two leading up to the invasion, the two countries signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940, over the course of the operation, about four million Axis personnel invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2, 900-kilometer front, the largest invasion force in the history of warfare. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht employed some 600,000 motor vehicles, the offensive marked an escalation of the war, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition. Despite their successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow and was pushed back by the Soviet winter counteroffensive. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmachts strongest blows and forced the unprepared Germans into a war of attrition, the Wehrmacht would never again mount a simultaneous offensive along the entire strategic Soviet–Axis front.
The failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue. The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most importantly, the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Soviet prisoners of war who were not granted protections stipulated in the Geneva Conventions, a majority of them never returned alive. The Nazis deliberately starved 3.1 million of the prisoners to death as part of a Hunger Plan that aimed to reduce the population of Eastern Europe, over a million Soviet Jews were murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and gassing as part of the Holocaust. On 10 February 1939, Hitler told his commanders that the next war would be purely a war of Weltanschauungen. Totally a peoples war, a racial war, on 23 November, once World War II had already started, Hitler declared that racial war has broken out and this war shall determine who shall govern Europe, and with it, the world.
The racial policy of Nazi Germany viewed the Soviet Union as populated by non-Aryan Untermenschen, Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Germanys destiny was to turn to the East as it did six hundred years ago. Accordingly, it was stated Nazi policy to kill, deport, or enslave the majority of Russian and other Slavic populations and repopulate the land with Germanic peoples, under the Generalplan Ost. Likening the Soviets to the forces of Genghis Khan, Hitler told Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the Mongolian race threatened Europe. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as Jewish Bolshevik subhumans, the Mongol hordes, the Asiatic flood, German army commanders cast the Jews as the major cause behind the partisan struggle. The main guideline policy for German troops was Where theres a partisan, theres a Jew, many German troops viewed the war in Nazi terms and regarded their Soviet enemies as sub-human