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  • Barbarossa Derailed

    I am currently half way through volume 2 of David Glantz' 4 volumes of "Barbarossa Derailed"

    IMO, this series is a must read for anyone undertaking a serious study of the war on the eastern front and, specifically, Operation Barbarossa. I have read other Barbarossa books including Dr. Craig Luther's excellent "Barbarossa Unleashed" as well as his new book "The First Day On The Eastern Front", and a few others. None of them, however, focus specifically on the Battle of Smolensk 10 July - 10 September and its ramifications on the German war machine.

    The first 2 volumes are a narrative of the conflict. Volume 3 is a book of "official documents" mostly from the Russian archives. Volume 4 is a large format map book with 118 colored maps. Volume 3 is not really necessary. The map book, however, is indispensable. The Kindle versions of volumes 1 and 2 are still available on Amazon USA for under 5.00 USD each. You will need to buy a "physical version" of the map book. I was able to find a used one for 30.00 USD.

    The following quote is from the beginning of volume 2 and it reveals just how important those 60 days between 10 July and 10 September really were:

    Army Group Center’s Problems by 6 August 1941 Despite the many victories the Wehrmacht won in Army Group Center’s sector during the first six weeks of war, there were several ominous indicators that future victories might not prove to be as easy as most Germans anticipated.

    The first and most important indicator was the utter collapse of Hitler’s premier assumption regarding the war, specifically, the belief that the Soviet Union would collapse if the Wehrmacht could destroy the bulk of its Red Army west of the Western Dvina and Dnepr Rivers. By 10 July this assumption proved patently incorrect. Although Bock’s army group destroyed three of the Soviet Western Front’s four field armies (3rd, 4th, and 10th) by the end of June when his forces reached the two rivers on 7 July they discovered five more Soviet armies (16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd), which, although weak, were still willing and able to fight. Four weeks later, after encircling and decimating three of these five armies (16th, 19th, and 20th) in the Smolensk region by 6 August, Bock was chagrined to find his army group facing yet another “row” of five new Soviet armies (24th, 28th, 29th, 30th, and Group Iartsevo), which rose phoenix-like from Soviet rear area to supplement 13th, 21st, and 22nd Armies still intact in the field. Furthermore, unknown to German intelligence, still another row of Soviet armies was forming further to the rear (31st, 33rd, and 43rd). Most ominous of all, although the Germans fervently believed this process would end after the fighting in the Smolensk region, in fact, it would continue unabated to year’s end.


    The second indicator already disturbing senior German military leaders in early August was the reality that war in the East differed fundamentally from previous wars in the West in several important respects. First and foremost, combat during the first six weeks of war demonstrated that “eastern kilometers” differed fundamentally from “western kilometers.” Specifically, the under-developed road system and the different gauge track employed in the Soviet railroad system made movement exceedingly difficult. While the largely dirt-surfaced roads turned into impenetrable quagmires during periods of heavy rain, the varying gauge of the railroads made it necessary for the Wehrmacht to reconstruct the railroads as they advanced eastward. The ensuing strain on German logistics, coupled with the necessity of rebuilding blown up bridges, made logistical resupply of advancing forces a problem of major importance. Making matters worse, the panzer and motorized divisions of Bock’s two panzer groups, which inevitably operated far forward of Army Group Center’s main forces, suffered most from these problems. In short, fuel shortages severally restricted the capabilities of these forces to operate in the enemy’s depths. Finally, although it would not have a major impact of the Wehrmacht’s operational capabilities until October 1941, the Russian climate, with its sharply differing seasonal weather conditions, would only compound the German Army’s other logistical problems.

    Operationally, and to a lesser extent tactically, because of these logistical impediments, the Wehrmacht proved unable to conduct sustained Blitzkrieg-style operations in such a vast and underdeveloped theater of military operations. Thus, another key German assumption regarding Operation Barbarossa’s prospects for success, specifically, that Blitzkrieg-style war which produced easy victory in the West would result in equally spectacular victory in the East, proved unfounded. As a result, after this assumption proved to be false by mid-July, thereafter, the Wehrmacht was compelled to conduct virtually all of its offensive operations in ad hoc fashion, by advancing in distinct offensive “spurts,” followed inevitably by extended periods of time necessary to rest, refit, and resupply its forces.


    A third indicator of still greater difficulties in the future regarded German assumptions about the Red Army itself, in particular, the attitudes, morale, and combat capabilities of its officer corps and common soldiers. In this regard, based on the Red Army’s previous performance in Poland in September 1939 and in Finland from November 1940 to March 1941, the Germans assumed neither Soviet officers nor Red Army soldiers would stand and fight when confronted by German tanks, Stuka aircraft, and well-trained and battle-hardened German Landsers. Although based in part on objective analysis, much of this assumption was firmly rooted in Nazi ideology and racial theories, which maintained that, inherently, racially-inferior Slavic officers and soldiers could not or would not fight on a level commensurate with their superior German counterparts. A corollary to this assumption was that Red Army officers and soldiers, if not whole segments of the Soviet Union’s population (Belorussians, Ukrainians, and the many peoples of the Caucasus region), detested both Stalin and the Communist system. Therefore, reasoned the Germans, when given the opportunity to do so, these officers and soldiers would lay down their arms in surrender or simply desert and disappear into the Russian countryside.

    By early August, however, these assumptions too proved to be false. Although Red Army soldiers did indeed surrender or defect by the hundreds (but far fewer officers), tens if not hundreds of thousands more fought, often in suicidal fashion, and died in the face of German invasion so that hundreds of thousands more would prevail. Thus, despite their enthusiasm over the army’s many victories, many German officers and soldiers had just cause to question just how easy future victory would be.

    Glantz, David M.. Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941 Volume 2: The German Offensives on the Flanks and the Third Soviet Counteroffensive, 25 August-10 September 1941 . Helion Pub. Kindle Edition.
































    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

  • #2
    Barbarossa Derailed is outstanding and essential. Have you heard of this series which came afterward? It's heavy on statistical and unit analysis. I suspect that it would greatly enhance your reading of Barbarossa Derailed. I have volume 1 but haven't been in the Barbarossa loop lately (been reading Monty's Men and Stopping the Panzers):

    https://www.amazon.com/Nigel-Askey/e...7775254&sr=8-1
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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    • #3
      The series by Nigel Askey is excellent. I have every volume put out so far up to IIIA. Been waiting on IIIB for over a year now.

      Here is another quote from the notes section in volume 2 of Barbarossa Derailed:

      In brief, these “rows” of armies included five in late June and early July (16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd), twelve in mid- and late July (24th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th (renumbered 49th), 43rd, 53rd, and 57th), three in early October (5th, 49th, and 50th), and ten in November and early December (10th, 26th, 39th, 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st, and 1st Shock). See David M. Glantz, Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943 (Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas, 2005).
      Of note was that after Bock's Army Group Center completed the left wing hook - up to Leeb's Army Group Norths right wing (18th Army) via Gruppe Stumme's rapid northward drive spearheaded by 19th and 20th Panzer Division's which destroyed Soviet 22nd Army and put a halt to Soviet 29th Army's counter offensive, another 190,000 Soviet prisoners were rounded up not to mention the numbers those of KIA and MIA.

      While Gruppe Stumme was busy up north, Army Group Center dispatched Guderian's 24th Panzer corps south - southwest as a spearhead to hook - up Army Group Centers right wing with Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group Souths left wing encircling Kiev and destroying another 3 Soviet army's and parts of 2 more. 665,000 Soviets were rounded up as POW's here as well. KIA and MIA here as well were never "accurately" accounted for.

      The German high command, justifiably proud of all their accomplishments before they started the drive on Moscow in October were, at the same time, concerned with the seemingly endless Army's the Soviets would "grow" and stack in front of the Moscow axes. In fact, according to Glantz, in the late Summer and Autumn of 1941, the Soviets had a 10,000,000 man reserve pool to create these armies.




      Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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      • #4
        Not sure what "a reserve pool" is exactly. From June 1941 and until the end of the year the Soviet military (army, navy, NKVD etc) took 10+ million men. Of them about a half during the initial mobilization until early July and a half later on.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
          Not sure what "a reserve pool" is exactly. From June 1941 and until the end of the year the Soviet military (army, navy, NKVD etc) took 10+ million men. Of them about a half during the initial mobilization until early July and a half later on.
          Thanks for correcting that. Glantz' exact words and I quote from the book:

          In fact, despite these losses, the Soviet mobilization system tapped into its mobilization pool of more than 10 million men, generating 800,000 men by the end of June and another 600,000 men in July, and perhaps almost as many in August, dispatching over half of these men to the Western, Reserve, and Central Fronts operating along the Western (Moscow) axis. During this period, the Soviet People’s Commissariat of Defense (NKO) mobilized and fielded rifle divisions numbered from 250 to roughly 316 in July and from 317 to 384 in August, as well as the 100-series of tank divisions in early August, and roughly half of these divisions went to fronts operating along the Western axis.
          In July, IIRC, Zhukov was given command of the "Reserve Front" which he used for the counteroffensive against the German salient extending to Elnia southeast of Smolensk.




          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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          • #6
            Still not quite clear what is meant by "mobilization pool". Total number of men of the USSR's population which were theoretically fit for military service was a way more than 10 million. Naturally not all were inducted until the end of 1941. On a level of most elementary figures by June 1941 the total strength components of Soviet armed forces was very conveniently nearly a round number - 5 million. Mobilized wartime strength was supposed to be about 10.5 million, and thus mobilization required calling up 5.5 million reservists. Actually inducted until the end of 1941 were 11.8 million men. Of them more than a million formed labor/construction columns which were employed as labor by civil agencies, and 5.5 million were absorbed by mobilization of peace-time military force. Which leaves a 5+ million surplus available for formation of new units and replacement of casualties.

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            • #7
              I believe Glantz is referring to 10,000,000 men already available which were "mobilized" into action 22 June through 1 September, 1941 and sent to the Soviet front armies.

              The series is a study of the battles in and around Smolensk which lasted from 10 July to 10 September and included 3 separate counteroffensives by the Red Army. 1 in mid July, 1 in early August and 1 in late August/September.

              Although Glantz used a plethora of Soviet archives for this study some of his narrative could be wrong. Nobody is perfect. I have read his book "Kharkov 1942 Anatomy of a Military Disaster" and a newer book titled "Operation Fredericus" by William Russ and through Russ' work and also using the divisional history books of 3rd Panzer and 23rd Panzer I found a few minor inconsistencies in Glantz' work on the same subject.
              Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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              • #8
                I'm curious as to what "Barbarossa Derailed' brings in terms of new details or info? The map volume sounds interesting by itself, and the documents volume could be useful for a researcher, but that the Germans bit-off more than they could chew and out-ran their logistics, that the Russians had an ability to reform and field new Divisions and Armies endlessly, that the rotten Russian house of cards wasn't as fragile as Hitler thought, isn't anything new.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Schmart View Post
                  I'm curious as to what "Barbarossa Derailed' brings in terms of new details or info? The map volume sounds interesting by itself, and the documents volume could be useful for a researcher, but that the Germans bit-off more than they could chew and out-ran their logistics, that the Russians had an ability to reform and field new Divisions and Armies endlessly, that the rotten Russian house of cards wasn't as fragile as Hitler thought, isn't anything new.
                  The books are useful if you want to seriously examine all of the machinations of both the German and Soviet military commands and the reasons things played out as they did along the eastern front from 10 July to 10 September.
                  Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post

                    The books are useful if you want to seriously examine all of the machinations of both the German and Soviet military commands and the reasons things played out as they did along the eastern front from 10 July to 10 September.
                    Ah ok. So greater detail of what was going in either commands at the time that we haven't seen before?

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                    • #11
                      day to day detail... this is not a superficial study
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                      Comment

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