Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier and authoritarian politician who, as the Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, presided over two successive wartime dictatorships. After the war, he was convicted of war crimes and executed and he was a military attaché to France and Chief of the General Staff, briefly serving as Defense Minister in the National Christian cabinet of Octavian Goga. During the late 1930s, his political stance brought him conflict with King Carol II. Antonescu nevertheless rose to prominence during the political crisis of 1940, and established the National Legionary State. After entering Romania into an alliance with Nazi Germany and the Axis and ensuring Adolf Hitlers confidence, in addition to leadership of the executive, he assumed the offices of Foreign Affairs and Defense Minister. Soon after Romania joined the Axis in Operation Barbarossa, recovering Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, after a brief detention in the Soviet Union, the deposed Conducător was handed back to Romania, where he was tried by a special Peoples Tribunal and executed.
This was part of a series of trials that passed sentences on his various associates, while these groups elevated Antonescu to the status of hero, his involvement in the Holocaust was officially reasserted and condemned following the 2003 Wiesel Commission report. Born in the town of Pitești, north-west of the capital Bucharest and he was especially close to his mother, Lița Baranga, who survived his death. His father, an officer, wanted Ion to follow in his footsteps. During his childhood, his father divorced his mother to marry a woman who was a Jewish convert to Orthodoxy, after graduation, in 1904, Antonescu joined the Romanian Army with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He spent the two years attending courses at the Special Cavalry Section in Târgoviște. Reportedly, Antonescu was a zealous and goal-setting student, upset by the pace of promotions. In time, the reputation of being a tough and ruthless commander, together with his reddish hair, Antonescu developed a reputation for questioning his commanders and for appealing over their heads whenever he felt they were wrong.
During the repression of the 1907 peasants revolt, he headed a unit in Covurlui County. In addition to restricting peasant protests, Antonescus unit subdued socialist activities in Galați port and his handling of the situation earned him praise from King Carol I, who sent Crown Prince Ferdinand to congratulate him in front of the whole garrison. The following year, Antonescu was promoted to Lieutenant, and, in 1913, during the Second Balkan War against Bulgaria, Antonescu served as a staff officer in the First Cavalry Division in Dobruja. After 1916, when the Kingdom of Romania entered World War I on the Entente side and Imperial German armies decisively defeated their ill-equipped and poorly defended Romanian adversaries in the Battle of Turtucaia on and advanced into Dobruja. When enemy troops crossed the mountains from Transylvania into Wallachia, Antonescu was ordered to design a plan for Bucharest
Eastern Front (World War II)
The battles on the Eastern Front constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, exposure and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, of the estimated 70 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, many of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of the European portion of World War II and it resulted in the destruction of the Third Reich, the partition of Germany for nearly half a century and the rise of the Soviet Union as a military and industrial superpower. The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in action in the Eastern Front, the United Kingdom. The joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front, in addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.
Despite their ideological antipathy, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union shared a dislike for the outcome of World War I. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed in August 1939 was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe to the pre–World War I status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union, Estonia and Lithuania would return to Soviet control, while Poland and Romania would be divided. I need the Ukraine so that they cant starve us out, the two powers invaded and partitioned Poland in 1939. The annexations were never recognized by most Western states, the annexed Romanian territory was divided between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics. Adolf Hitler had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf for the necessity of Lebensraum, acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, Wehrmacht officers told their troops to target people who were described as Jewish Bolshevik subhumans, the Mongol hordes, the Asiatic flood and the red beast.
The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, Hitler referred to the war in unique terms, calling it a war of annihilation which was both an ideological and racial war. In addition, the Nazis sought to wipe out the large Jewish population of Central, after Germanys initial success at the Battle of Kiev in 1941, Hitler saw the Soviet Union as militarily weak and ripe for immediate conquest. On 3 October 1941, he announced, We have only to kick in the door, Germany expected another short Blitzkrieg and made no serious preparations for prolonged warfare. Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union underwent massive industrialization and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, Stalins central tenet, Socialism in one country, manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Plans from 1929 onwards. It served as a testing ground for both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to experiment with equipment and tactics that they would employ on a wider scale in the Second World War
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
Battle of Kiev (1941)
The First Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. This encirclement is considered the largest encirclement in the history of warfare, the operation ran from 7 August to 26 September 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. In Soviet military history, it is referred to as the Kiev Strategic Defensive Operation, kirponos was trapped behind German lines and killed while trying to break out. The battle was a defeat for the Red Army, exceeding even the Battle of Białystok–Minsk of June–July 1941. The encirclement trapped 452,700 soldiers,2,642 guns and mortars and 64 tanks, the Southwestern Front suffered 700,544 casualties, including 616,304 killed, captured or missing during the battle. The 5th, 37th, 26th, 21st and the 38th armies, consisting of 43 divisions, were almost annihilated, like the Western Front before it, the Southwestern Front had to be recreated almost from scratch.
After the rapid progress of Army Group Centre through the sector of the Eastern front. A substantial Soviet force, nearly the entire Southwestern Front, positioned in, on 3 August, Hitler temporarily cancelled the drive on Moscow in favor of driving south and attacking Kiev in Ukraine. However, on 12 August 1941, Supplement to Directive No, the three Panzer Groups, under the control of Army Group Center, will lead the advance on Moscow. On 18 August, OKH submitted a survey to Hitler regarding the continuation of operations in the East. The paper made the case for the drive to Moscow, arguing again that Army Groups North and South were strong enough to accomplish their objectives without any assistance from Army Group Center. Pointing out that there was enough time left before winter to conduct a single decisive operation against Moscow. On 20 August, Hitler rejected the proposal based on the idea that the most important objective was to deprive the Soviets of their industrial areas, on 21 August Jodl of OKW issued a directive, which summarized Hitlers instructions, to Brauchitsch commander of the Army.
The paper reiterated that the capture of Moscow before the onset of winter was not a primary objective, Hitler referred to the Soviet forces in the salient collectively as the Russian 5th Army. Engel in his diary for 21 August 1941, simply summarized it as, Halder offered his own resignation and advised Brauchitsch to do the same. However, Brauchitsch declined, stating Hitler would not accept the gesture, Halder withdrew his offer of resignation. On 23 August, Halder convened with Bock and Guderian in Borisov, during a meeting between Guderian and Hitler, with neither Halder nor Brauchitsch present, Hitler allowed Guderian to make the case for driving on to Moscow, and rejected his argument. In point of fact Hitler had already issued the orders for the shift of Guderians panzer group to the south, Guderian returned to his panzer group and began the southern thrust in an effort to encircle the Soviet forces in the salient
Battle of Rostov (1941)
After concluding the Battle of Kiev in September 1941, the German Army Group South advanced from the Dniepr to the Sea of Azov coast. Walther von Reichenaus 6th Army captured Kharkov, carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagels 17th Army marched through Poltava towards Voroshilovgrad. Erich von Mansteins 11th Army moved into the Crimea and had control of all of the peninsula by autumn. To replace him, General of Infantry von Manstein was ordered to travel from the Leningrad sector of the front to the southern sector. He would support from the 4th Luftwaffe Air Fleet. Therefore, initially von Manstein replaced the LIV Corps with the smaller XXXth Army Corps and XLIXth Mountain Corps, and ordered the LIV Corps into the first echelon in the advance to Rostov. Late in September the 3rd Romanian Army joined the 11th Army in its advance towards Rostov, but was severely depleted by the attacks of the Soviet 9th and 18th Armies on 26 September. This forced a halt to the Armys advance to safeguard its flank, and forced von Manstein to use his only reserve unit.
Smirnov, was killed by fire on his command post in the village of Popovka during the breakout attempt between 5 and 10 October 1941. This was interpreted by Hitler as such a success that he declared The battle of the Sea of Azov is over, on 11 October before the troops had even reached their objective. As a commemorative gesture, Hitler issued the order to redesignate the Leibstandarte Brigade as 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, the German 11th Army was ordered back to Crimea to effect the breakthrough of the Isthmus of Perekop. During the subsequent reorganisation of Axis forces the 3rd Panzer Corps and 14th Panzer Corps took the lead, supported by the XLIX Mountain Corps recently arrived from Crimea. However the Red Army was at this stage fortunate in that the Autumn rains had begun, and this meant that the leading German units did not reach the outskirts of Rostov until mid-November, having lost contact with the Red Army in the meantime. The assault on Rostov began on 17 November, and on 21 November the Germans took Rostov, the German lines were over-extended, and von Kleists warnings that his left flank was vulnerable and that his tanks were ineffective in the freezing weather were ignored.
When von Rundstedt refused to obey, Hitler sacked him, and it was the first significant German withdrawal of the war. Battle of Rostov – the German 17th Army captured the city, Battle of Rostov – the Soviet Union recaptured the city. Haupt, Army Group South, The Wehrmacht in Russia 1941-1945, Schiffer Military History, Atglen,1998
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
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
Erich von Manstein
Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski, known as Erich von Manstein, was a German commander of the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germanys armed forces during the Second World War. He attained the rank of field marshal and he rose to the rank of captain by the end of the war and was active in the inter-war period helping Germany rebuild her armed forces. In September 1939, during the invasion of Poland at the beginning of the Second World War, adolf Hitler chose Mansteins strategy for the invasion of France of May 1940, a plan refined by Franz Halder and other members of the OKH. Attaining the rank of general at the end of the campaign, he was active in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the Siege of Sevastopol and he participated in the Siege of Leningrad. Germanys fortunes in the war began to take a turn in 1942, especially in the catastrophic Battle of Stalingrad. He was one of the commanders at the Battle of Kursk. His ongoing disagreements with Hitler over the conduct of the war led to his dismissal in March 1944 and he never obtained another command and was taken prisoner by the British in August 1945, several months after Germanys defeat.
His sentence of eighteen years in prison was reduced to twelve. As a military advisor to the West German government in the mid-1950s, Manstein died in Munich in 1973. Manstein was born Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski in Berlin, the son of a Prussian aristocrat and artillery general, Eduard von Lewinski. His fathers family had Kashubian ancestry and was entitled to use the Brochwicz coat of arms, Hedwig von Sperling, Helenes younger sister, was married to Lieutenant General Georg von Manstein, the couple was unable to have children, so they adopted Erich. They had previously adopted Erichs cousin Martha, the daughter of Helenes, Mansteins biological and adoptive fathers were both Prussian generals, as were his mothers brother and both his grandfathers. Sixteen relatives on each side of his family were military officers, Paul von Hindenburg, the future Generalfeldmarschall and President of Germany, was his uncle, Hindenburgs wife, was the sister of Hedwig and Helene. Manstein attended the Imperial Lyzeum, a Catholic Gymnasium in Strasbourg, in March 1906, after six years in the cadet corps in Plön and Groß-Lichterfelde, he was commissioned into the Third Foot Guards Regiment as an ensign.
He was promoted to lieutenant in January 1907 and in October 1913 began the three-year officer training programme at the Prussian War Academy. However, Manstein only completed the first year of the programme and he never completed the remainder of his general staff officer training. During the First World War, Manstein served on both the German Western and Eastern Fronts, at the beginning of the war he was promoted to lieutenant and participated in the invasion of Belgium with the 2nd Guard Reserve Infantry Regiment. In August 1914 he took part in the capture of Namur, in September, Mansteins unit was one of two transferred to East Prussia and attached to the Eighth Army, commanded by Hindenburg
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
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
Arctic naval operations of World War II
The Arctic Circle defining the midnight sun encompasses the Atlantic Ocean from the northern edge of Iceland to the Bering Strait. The area is considered part of the Battle of the Atlantic or the European Theatre of World War II. Pre-war navigation focused on fishing and the ore trade from Narvik. Soviet settlements along the coast and rivers of the Barents Sea, the Soviet Union extended the Northern Sea Route past the Taymyr Peninsula to the Bering Strait in 1935. The Winter War opened the northern flank of the front of World War II. Arctic naval presence was initially dominated by the Soviet Northern Fleet of a few destroyers with larger numbers of submarines, the success of the German invasion of Norway provided the Kriegsmarine with naval bases from which capital ships might challenge units of the Royal Navy Home Fleet. Soviet convoys hugged the coast to avoid ice while German convoys used fjords to evade Royal Navy patrols, both sides devoted continuing efforts to minelaying and minesweeping of these shallow, confined routes vulnerable to mine warfare and submarine ambushes.
German convoys were typically screened by minesweepers and submarine chasers while Soviet convoys were protected by minesweeping trawlers. A branch of the Pacific Route began carrying Lend-Lease goods through the Bering Strait to the Soviet Arctic coast in June,1942. The number of cargo ship voyages along this route was 23 in 1942,32 in 1943,34 in 1944. Total westbound tonnage through the Bering Strait was 452,393 in comparison to 3,964,231 tons of North American wartime goods sent across the Atlantic to Soviet Arctic ports. A large portion of the Arctic route tonnage was fuel for Siberian airfields on the Alaska-Siberia air route,6 September 1939, Bremen was the first of 18 German merchant ships to take refuge in Murmansk after avoiding British naval patrols in the Atlantic. 30 November 1939, The Winter War offensive against Petsamo was supported by Soviet Northern Fleet destroyers Kuibishev, Karl Liebknecht, April 1940, Operation Weserübung included an invasion of Narvik by troops embarked aboard ten Kriegsmarine destroyers.
4 May 1940, The Polish destroyer Grom was sunk off Narvik by a KG100 bomber,21 May 1940, HMS Effingham was scuttled after grounding on a shallow pinnacle off Narvik. 9 July 1940, Raider Komet sailed north from Bergen and waited near Novaya Zemlya until 13 August 1940 for ice conditions to allow passage through the Matochkin Strait into the Kara Sea. Komet proceeded east with the assistance of three Soviet icebreakers to enter the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait on 5 September 1940, Soviet submarine Shch-423 made a similar trip from Murmansk to Vladivostok from 5 August to 17 October. 25 July 1940, Admiral Hipper sailed for a two-week Arctic patrol,25 August 1940, HMS Norfolk and HMAS Australia sailed for a five-day patrol to Bear Island. 16 October 1940, HMS Furious launched an airstrike against the Tromsø seaplane base,4 March 1941, HMS Edinburgh and Nigeria covered the Operation Claymore raid on Lofoten
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942, the Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitlers attack on Moscow, capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the largest Soviet city. Moscow was one of the military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion plan, called for the capture of Moscow within four months, the German Army Group North moved towards Leningrad, Army Group South took control of Ukraine, and Army Group Center advanced towards Moscow. By July 1941, Army Group Center crossed the Dnieper River, in August 1941, German forces captured Smolensk, an important stronghold on the road to Moscow. At this stage, although Moscow was vulnerable, an offensive against the city would have exposed the German flanks. In part to address these risks, in part to attempt to secure Ukraines food and mineral resources, Hitler ordered the attack to turn north and south and eliminate Soviet forces at Leningrad and this delayed the German advance on Moscow.
When that advance resumed on 2 October 1941, German forces had been weakened, for Hitler, the Soviet capital was secondary, and he believed the only way to bring the Soviet Union to its knees was to defeat it economically. He felt this could be accomplished by seizing the economic resources of Ukraine east of Kiev, when Walther von Brauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, supported a direct thrust to Moscow, he was told that only ossified brains could think of such an idea. Franz Halder, head of the Army General Staff, was convinced that a drive to seize Moscow would be victorious after the German Army inflicted enough damage on the Soviet forces. This view was shared by most within the German high command, but Hitler overruled his generals in favor of pocketing the Soviet forces around Kiev in the south, followed by the seizure of Ukraine. The move was successful, resulting in the loss of 660,000 Red Army personnel by 26 September, with the end of summer, Hitler redirected his attention to Moscow and assigned Army Group Center to this task.
The forces committed to Operation Typhoon included three infantry armies supported by three Panzer Groups and by the Luftwaffes Luftflotte 2, up to two million German troops were committed to the operation, along with 1,000 tanks and 14,000 guns. German aerial strength, had severely reduced over the summers campaign. Luftflotte 2 had only 549 serviceable machines, including 158 medium and dive-bombers and 172 fighters, the attack relied on standard blitzkrieg tactics, using Panzer groups rushing deep into Soviet formations and executing double-pincer movements, pocketing Red Army divisions and destroying them. Facing the Wehrmacht were three Soviet fronts forming a line between the cities of Vyazma and Bryansk, which barred the way to Moscow. The armies comprising these fronts had involved in heavy fighting. Still, it was a formidable concentration consisting of 1,250,000 men,1,000 tanks and 7,600 guns, the Soviet Air Force had suffered appalling losses of some 7,500 or 21,200 aircraft