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Germany explains why it lacked the strength to defeat the Russians

Written by The Frontier Post

Maxim Sokolov

“The failure of the German plan to encircle and capture Moscow.” This was the wording of the Soviet Information Bureau, announced by Levitan on December 13, 1941. That is, a week after the Red Army launched a counteroffensive.
Its start date, however, is staggering. They call it December 5, when the Kalinin Front went on the offensive, or December 6, when the Western and South-Western Fronts hit the German.
This inconsistency beco-mes clear if you look at the map. At the moment of his maximum advance, the German swept Moscow in a half-arc – from the north-west to the south-west. The calculation was to take the city in pincers, closing the encirclement ring.
But at the same time, the enemy (in this case, the Soviet side) is given the opportunity to strike on the flanks of the extended front. Especially if there are signs that the offensive has run out of steam. This is exactly what General Zhukov did, inflicting a series of strikes on different parts of the arc.
And already on Decem-ber 16, Hitler’s directive was issued. “Organization of detachments… Burn inh-abited localities! Hold the defense and fight to the last. Do not voluntarily retreat, not a step back. Hold the front to the last soldier… Commanders, commanders and officers, personally influencing the troops, do everything possible to force them to hold their positions and to offer fanatically stubborn resistance to the enemy who broke through on the flanks.”
A fair contrast to the previous months of the Wehr-macht’s eastern campaign.
Moreover, in retrospect, the German generals admitted that in this case Hitler was right. His “fanatical order, which obliged the troops to hold on to every position and in the most unfavorable conditions” was explained by the fact that “Hitler instinctively understood: any retreat through snow and ice in a few days would lead to the collapse of the entire front, and then the German army would have suffered the same the fate of the Great Army of Napoleon. ” Parallels with 1812 were generally popular with the Germans. And even to this day.
Today’s German newspapers literally reproduce the descriptions of the terrible Russian climate drawn from the memoirs of the participants of the Eastern Front literally: first, a monstrous thaw, turning all roads into an impassable swamp, then no less terrible frosts. Cars and tanks do not start, locomotives do not pull, supplies are falling apart, and there is nothing to say about the suffering of the personnel.
Which, in turn, reproduces the Napoleonic idea “Only a thermometer, not a bayonet, caused the death of the Great Army.”
Of course, the climate in Russia could be both milder and better. But there are two things to note here. First, not only the Germans but also the Russians suffered from it. General Frost does not understand. By the way, in the campaign of 1812, the Russian army suffered very sensitive losses during a seemingly victorious march to the border: out of 130 thousand, 27 thousand reached Vilna.
Secondly, the Russian climate is not a military secret. If the German command did not bother to prepare winter uniforms for the troops and winter fuels and lubricants for equipment, it had only itself to blame, and not General Frost at all.
However, the German generals blamed not only the climate, but also the flaws of the Hitlerite command. Having started the war, the Wehrmacht moved in three diverging directions: north (Leningrad), south (Ukraine and the Caucasus) and directly east, that is, to Moscow. Moreover, Hitler could not decide in any way which direction to consider as the main one. At the initial stage of the war, when the experienced and disciplined Wehrmacht had all the advantages, the blow with the splayed fives was not so destructive for the German – there was enough strength in all directions. But as soon as they began to be lacking, this fundamental miscalculation immediately affected.
Be that as it may, in these very days of December 1941, the Wehrmacht suffered the first serious defeat in the entire history of its existence. And not only near Moscow, where the German was thrown back 150-200 kilometers from the capital. Which, however, is not so much. In Moscow, a rhyme was circulating:
“Once upon a time there was a gray goat with my grandmother,
It’s a fairy tale, but the Germans are near.”
But there was also a counter-offensive near Tikhvin, which did not allow the Germans to cover Leningrad with an already completely impenetrable double blockade ring. The suffering of the Leningraders was still terrible, the death rate from hunger reached its peak in February 1942, but the city survived.
And there was a counteroffensive in the south. It was possible to recapture Rostov-on-Don, an attempt was made to return the Eastern Crimea (amphibious assault forces in Sudak, Koktebel, Feodosia and Kerch).
For a few winter months, the initiative passed into the hands of the Red Army, which also meant a lot. Until then, the Wehrmacht monopolized it.
But the turning point in the war, about which the quick-witted heads (including, it seems, the quick-witted head of Comrade Stalin) had already dreamed, did not take place. Ahead were the terrible summer of 1942, the catastrophe of the Southern Front and the German at Stalingrad. The enemy was still very strong.
And yet, then, in the snow-white fields near Moscow, the distant light of Victory dawned for the first time. The gloom has not yet gone, but it has slightly dissipated.

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