[David_Stahel]_Operation_Typhoon__Hitler's_March_o(z-lib.org).pdf - Operation Typhoon In October 1941 Hitler launched Operation Typhoon the German drive

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Unformatted text preview: Operation Typhoon In October 1941 Hitler launched Operation Typhoon, the German drive to capture Moscow and knock the Soviet Union out of the war. As the last chance to escape the dire implications of a winter campaign, Hitler directed seventy-five German divisions, almost two million men and three of Germany’s four panzer groups into the offensive, resulting in huge victories at Viaz’ma and Briansk – among the biggest battles of World War II. David Stahel’s groundbreaking new account of Operation Typhoon captures the perspectives of both the German high command and individual soldiers, revealing that, despite success on the battlefield, the wider German war effort was in far greater trouble than is often acknowledged. Germany’s hopes of final victory depended on the success of the October offensive but the autumn conditions and the stubborn resistance of the Red Army ensured that the capture of Moscow was anything but certain. David Stahel is a lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Canberra. His previous publications include Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East (2009), Kiev 1941 (2011) and Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941 (2012). Operation Typhoon Hitler’s March on Moscow, October 1941 David Stahel cambridge university press Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Mexico City Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York Information on this title: © David Stahel 2013 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2013 Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by the MPG Books Group A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Stahel, David, 1975– Operation Typhoon : Hitler’s march on Moscow, October 1941 / David Stahel. pages cm Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-107-03512-6 (Hardback) 1. Moscow, Battle of, Moscow, Russia, 1941–1942. 2. Bock, Fedor von, 1880– 1945. 3. Germany. Heer. Heeresgruppe Mitte. 4. Moscow (Russia)–History, Military–20th century. 5. Viaz’ma (Smolenskaia oblast’, Russia)–History, Military–20th century. 6. Briansk (Russia)–History, Military–20th century. 7. Tula (Russia)–History, Military–20th century. I. Title. d764.3.m6s82 2013 940.540 2173–dc23 2012031737 ISBN 978-1-107-03512-6 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. CONTENTS List of illustrations vii List of maps x List of tables xii Acknowledgements xiii Glossary xv Tables of military ranks and army structures Introduction 1 1 Contextualising Barbarossa 9 2 Operation Typhoon 54 3 Viaz’ma and Briansk 84 4 Carnage on the road to Moscow 111 5 Bock’s final triumph 6 Exploiting the breach 173 7 Weathering the storm 142 209 xvii vi / Contents 8 Running on empty 9 The eye of the storm 275 Conclusion 298 Notes 308 Bibliography 376 Index 400 239 ILLUSTRATIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 The commander of Army Group Centre in Operation Typhoon, Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B12867, photographer: Gutjahr. page 18 The Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich I (1122–1190). © Chrisie Rotter. 32 The commander of Panzer Group 2, Colonel-General Heinz Guderian. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L19885, photographer: Huschke. 75 The new commander of Panzer Group 3, General of Panzer Troops Georg-Hans Reinhardt. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-209-0076-02, photographer: Tannenberg, Hugo. 85 Road affected by autumn rain. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-140-1220-17A, photographer: Albert Cusian. 93 The commander of Panzer Group 4, Colonel-General Erich Hoepner. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-212-0212A-19, photographer: Koch. 96 The Reich’s press chief Dr Otto Dietrich speaking to members of the German and international press corps. © bpk/Berlin, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Archiv Heinrich Hoffmann, 50075445. 101 A German shot dead from behind. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-394-1499-06, photographer: Leo. 122 viii / List of illustrations 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 German tank production and combat losses, September 1939 to March 1942. Adapted from Rolf-Dieter Müller, ‘Beginnings of a Reorganization of the War Economy at the Turn of 1941/1942’ in Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (ed.), Germany and the Second World War. Volume V/I. Organization and Mobilization of the German Sphere of Power (Oxford, 2000) p. 728. 135 Dr Seuss cartoon, ‘The annihilation is proceeding according to schedule.’ Ullstein bild – The Granger Collection. 138 As the Germans approached Moscow, Soviet civilians, predominantly women, were sent out to dig anti-tank ditches. Ullstein bild – rps, photographer: Alexander Ustinow. 141 Soviet prisoners of war taken in the aftermath of the October battles. © Rainer Graichen. 163 Vehicles of Army Group Centre exposed to freezing temperatures. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-268-0176-33, photographer: Böhmer. 168 As the autumn rasputitsa took hold in the east, wheeled transport in many areas of Army Group Centre became impossible. Only with the help of tanks or tractors could individual vehicles be brought forward. © Rainer Graichen. 197 Propaganda leaflet dropped by the Soviets to German soldiers, mocking Hitler’s claims of a quick victory. © Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, Flugblattpropaganda im 2. Weltkrieg (1941), Mappe 92a-5. 202 Roadblocks, tank traps, mines and concealed firing positions in Moscow. Ullstein bild – ADN-Bildarchiv. 217 Suspected partisans, publicly hanged. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-287-0872-29A, photographer: Koll. 232 Two captured Soviet T-26 tanks, each painted with a swastika and pressed back into service on the Finnish front in Karelia. © bpk/Berlin, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Archiv Heinrich Hoffmann, 50074358. 249 ix / List of illustrations 19 20 21 A sports hall used as an improvised German field hospital in the rear of Army Group Centre. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-137-1041-30, photographer: Menzendorf. Members of the Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchevisme (Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism). Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-141-1258-15, photographer: Momber. German soldiers dressed in some of the few winter uniforms to reach Bock’s front in October 1941. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-268-0180-03, photographer: Böhmer. 265 277 292 MAPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 22 June 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas and Operational Summary of the Border Battles 22 June–1 July 1941 page 34 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 24 July 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Smolensk 7 July–10 September 1941 38 The battle for Kiev, 11–15 September 1941. First printed in Stahel, Kiev 1941 after David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle for Kiev Part III 43 The battle for Kiev, 16–26 September 1941. First printed in Stahel, Kiev 1941 after David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle for Kiev Part III 44 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 3 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 63 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 5 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 72 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 7 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 79 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 8 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 91 xi / List of maps 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 10 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 12 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 16 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 20 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 24 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 27 October 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 Dispositions of Army Group Centre, 2 November 1941. David M. Glantz, Atlas of the Battle of Moscow, 1 October–5 December 1941 113 132 180 186 242 284 295 TABLES 1 2 3 4 Major powers’ annual military production, 1939–1945 page 29 Army Group Centre order of battle, 2 October 1941 (Operation Typhoon) 46 German tank production and combat losses, September 1939 to March 1942 136 German losses on the eastern front, June 1941 to June 1942 266 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS In the summer of 1994 a forest fire swept through the former First World War battlefields on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. In November and December of that year I was a first-year undergraduate who had earned a placement with the University of Istanbul planting new trees there as part of a reforestation project. In addition to large numbers of Turkish students, the project included small contingents from each of the participating First World War nations. The camp site was set up and maintained by the Turkish army and I was assigned to a large tent with thirty-seven Turkish and two German students. Our job was to work on the former battlefields clearing the burned debris, tilling the earth and planting new saplings. As I had grown up in Australia these were the first battlefields I had ever seen and they were to leave their mark. The horrors of war were an unmistakable part of the experience, but reinforced by the fact that it was all shared with former enemies. Eighteen years later my old tent mate from Gallipoli, Jakob Graichen, and his wife Mariana Díaz have come to be among my closest friends and, as I am a teacher and historian working in Germany, they have been a source of invaluable assistance in support of my historical research. This book is dedicated to them. As with my other works on 1941 this study has benefited from the input of a number of scholars in the field. I should like to thank Dr Alex J. Kay and Dr Jeff Rutherford who collaborated with me on another project that provided many insights into the current work as well as bringing a measure of welcome relief during long hours of xiv / Acknowledgements research and writing. Alex and Jeff also provided much invaluable commentary on my draft manuscript for which I am most grateful. My research trips to Freiburg often coincided with visits by Dr Adrian Wettstein, whose knowledge of the Wehrmacht’s structures and weaponry is, in my experience, unsurpassed. I was most grateful for his company and prompt replies to all my subsequent requests. Professor Robert Citino identified some of my manuscript’s early weaknesses and helped shape improvements. His support is especially appreciated. I should also like to thank Dr Eleanor Hancock for her meticulous commentary on my manuscript. Since my first years of post-graduate study Dr Hancock has been a constant source of support and good ideas. For so many favours over the years I owe her a special degree of thanks. On the Russian/Soviet side of my research I have been well served by a number of experts who took the time to reply to my e-mails or read sections of my draft. Dr Alexander Hill and Yan Mann read my manuscript, advised me on matters of Soviet history and helped with some referencing. Professor David Stone saved me from some glaring oversights in an early draft of my first chapter and Colonel David Glantz kindly allowed the reproduction of maps from his private collection. To all I extend my sincere gratitude. I also wish to thank Aleks Polianichko for some Russian– English translations, Min-ku Chung for technical support and Verena Graichen for assisting with my maps. Michael Kellner and Rainer Graichen offered me the use of photographs from their grandfather and father respectively, who each served on the eastern front in 1941. I am also indebted to Chrisie Rotter, an art historian and accomplished artist in her own right, who agreed to the reproduction of an original, and carefully researched, depiction of Friedrich Barbarossa. Last, but by no means least, my thanks go to my editor Michael Watson, his assistant Chloe Howell, Karen Anderson Howes and all the staff at Cambridge University Press who have had a hand in this as well as my past books. Their assistance and professionalism have been exemplary. GLOSSARY BA-MA Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv (German Military Archive) CSIR Corpo di Sedizione Italiano in Russia (Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia) ‘Das Reich’ 2nd SS Division Einsatzgruppen ‘action groups’ of the SD and Security Police, used mainly for mass killings Eisenbahntruppe railroad troops Feindbild concept of the enemy Generalplan Ost General Plan East ‘Grossdeutschland’ ‘Greater Germany’ Infantry Regiment Grosstransportraum ‘large transport area’. Referring to the transport regiment responsible for bridging the gap between front-line divisions and railheads Kampfgruppe battle group KTB Kriegstagebuch (war diary) Landser German infantry man Lebensraum living space Luftwaffe German Air Force LVF Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchevisme (Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism) MPT Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation (Museum Foundation Post and Telecommunications) xvi / Glossary NCO NKVD OKH OKW Ostheer POW Pz. Div. rasputitsa RSHA SD Sondermeldungen SS Stavka UK USA USSR Vernichtungskrieg Wehrmacht non-commissioned officer Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennykh Del (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) Oberkommando des Heeres (High Command of the Army) Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Armed Forces) Eastern Army prisoner of war Panzer Division ‘quagmire season’; refers to the biannual difficulties caused by heavy rains or melting snow in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office) Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) special news bulletins Schutzstaffel (Protection Echelon) Soviet high command United Kingdom United States of America Union of Soviet Socialist Republics war of annihilation German Armed Forces TABLES OF MILITARY RANKS AND ARMY STRUCTURES Table of equivalent ranks German army/ Luftwaffe Officer ranks Generalfeldmarschall Generaloberst General der Infanterie der Artillerie der Flakartillerie der Flieger der Kavallerie der Luftwaffe der Panzertruppe der Pioniere Generalleutnant Generalmajor Oberst Oberstleutnant Major Hauptmann Oberleutnant Leutnant Enlisted ranks Stabsfeldwebel Oberfeldwebel Feldwebel Unterfeldwebel Translation used in this study Equivalent US army rank Field Marshal Colonel-General General of Infantry of Artillery of Flak Artillery of Aviation of Cavalry of the Luftwaffe of Panzer Troops of Engineers Lieutenant-General Major-General Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain 1st Lieutenant Lieutenant General of the Army General Lieutenant General Master Sergeant Technical Sergeant Staff Sergeant Sergeant Master Sergeant Technical Sergeant Staff Sergeant Sergeant Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain 1st Lieutenant 2nd Lieutenant xviii / Tables of military ranks and army structures (cont.) German army/ Luftwaffe Unteroffizier Gefreiter Soldat Translation used in this study Equivalent US army rank Corporal Private Private Corporal Private 1st Class Private 2nd Class Source: Karl-Heinz Frieser, The Blitzkrieg Legend. The 1940 Campaign in the West (Annapolis, 2005) p. 355. Structure and size of the German army Germany army formation English translation Number of subordinate units Average number of personnela Heeresgruppe Army Group Two or more armies Armee Korps Army Corps Division Division Brigade Brigade Regiment Regiment Bataillon Battalion Kompanie Company Two or more corps Two or more divisions Two or more brigades Two or more regiments Two or more battalions Two or more companies Two or more platoons 100,000 to more than a million 60,000–250,000 40,000–70,000 Zug Platoon 12,000–18,000 5,000–7,000 2,000–6,000 500–1,000 100–200 30–40 Note: a Wide variations of these figures occurred, especially after 1941. Source: Author’s own records. INTRODUCTION The launch of Operation Typhoon heralded the opening of one of the biggest German offensives of World War II. Indeed, it is surpassed in scale only by the German operations to invade France and the Low Countries in May 1940 (Case Yellow) and the Soviet Union itself in June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). Although the fighting on the eastern front is arguably best known for Hitler’s 1942 offensive to reach and conquer the oil fields of southern Russia (Case Blue), culminating in the battle for Stalingrad, Army Group South’s 1942 summer offensive involved only half the number of German troops employed for Operation Typhoon. Likewise, the German summer offensive at Kursk in July 1943 saw some three-quarters of a million German troops engaged, which also falls well short of Typhoon’s proportions. While the German operations to invade France and the Soviet Union were sizeably larger in scale (each involving the commitment of more than three million German troops), command in the field was split between three theatre commanders. Operation Typhoon, on the other hand, was directed by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock alone, making it the largest German field command of the war, with almost two million men taking orders from a single commander. At the start of October 1941 Germany’s war against the Soviet Union had been in progress for more than three months. They were by far the bloodiest three months of Hitler’s war to date with 185,000 Germans dead1 and many times that number of Soviet soldiers killed.2 Hitler was desperately seeking an end to his war in the east, and to achieve this he and his generals settled on a plan for a massive new 2 / Introduction offensive in the centre of the front to seize Moscow. In order to achieve this, Army Group Centre, the largest of the three German army groups on the eastern front, was reinforced to some 1.9 million German soldiers and would engage the 1.25 million Soviet troops of the Reserve, Western and Briansk Fronts. The resulting battles at Viaz’ma and Briansk were to become some of the largest in Germany’s four-year war against the Soviet Union. The new German offensive, codenamed Operation Typhoon, aimed to tear a massive hole in the centre of the Soviet front, eliminate the bulk of the Red Army before Moscow, seize control of the Soviet capital and force an end to major operations on the eastern front before the onset of winter. For this purpose the Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres – OKH), which directed operations on the eastern front, ordered a major reorganisation of the Ostheer (Eastern Army) to provide forces for the new offensive. Army Group Centre was to receive the highest concentration of panzer, motorised and infantry divisions ever assembled by Nazi Germany. In total Bock’s army group took command of seventy-five divisions, which included some forty-seven infantry and fourteen panzer divisions. On 2 October, Operation Typhoon’s designated start date,3 more than 1,500 panzers and 1,000 aircraft would combine for a new blitz-style offensive that was intended to overwhelm the Soviet front and allow a rapid exploitation into the Soviet rear. Not surprisingly, engaging more than a million Soviet troops would necessitate battles of immense scale, and there could be no guarantees of the outcome. Even victory on the battlefield would by no means lead to an end of hostilities...
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  • Fall '16
  • Ma'am Karautoy
  • World War II, Operation Barbarossa, Red Army

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