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Review: The Bloody Triangle: The Defeat of Soviet Armor in the Ukraine, June 1941

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  • Review: The Bloody Triangle: The Defeat of Soviet Armor in the Ukraine, June 1941

    I don't know how many of you guys are familiar with this book or even know that it's out, but here's the review I did of it on amazon:

    There are already a few narratives that deal with the beginning phases of the war on the Eastern Front. Some in more detail than others, but they are available if you know where to look. Yet with the flow of new literature coming out of Russia regarding WWII, I would be remiss if I said even a tenth of what has come out has been covered in the west. Thus, if you have an interest in the border battles between the Red Army and Wehrmacht in the South during late June and early July of 1941, then this book will prove invaluable in many respects, for others, a very good start to understanding the Eastern Front in general. The majority of the narrative deals with the Mechanized Corps of the Kiev Special Military District: specifically the 8th, 9th, 15th, 19th, and 22nd Mechanized Corps. Their strengths and weaknesses are analyzed by the author so that a better context is given for what would happen when the Germans invaded on June 22, 1941. In the background there is also mention and discussion of the 5th and 6th armies, amongst others, as well as the command staff of the Kiev Special Military District.

    A lot of the information presented here is interesting, at times little known, and when looked at in an objective light helps explain what happened to the Red Army in 1941. Were German forces opposed on the border or did they simply walk over Soviet border guards and the forward-most Red Army military formations in their way? For those that like to gloss over this question and move on to the eventual German encirclements that took place throughout the rest of 1941, you will be surprised. Red Army resistance was quite heavy and the Germans paid a large price in the south with both dead and wounded. Their forces were also held up in various locations with in depth defenses by the likes of the 1st Antitank Artillery Brigade and "Task Force Lukin." Commissar Popel's dash through German lines toward Dubno is described in great detail, as well as the German perspective of how this affected their advance(s).

    I was glad to see the author mention the lack of communication between various units including divisions, corps, armies, and even what would become a front. This is one of the biggest reasons for the misuse of the Mechanized Corps; for example, the 8th Mechanized Corps traversed hundreds of kilometers before it had a chance to engage the enemy. The Corps moved from one location to another as orders were constantly changing. Army commanders issued one type of order while their higher ups, not privy to real-time information, issued orders that directly contradicted those of the army command. The chaos that ensued comes through full force within the pages of this text, and for that the author deserves a big thanks.

    1941 is especially interesting for me because as a student of the Eastern Front I strive to understand what exactly happened. Sadly, the reason for the four star rating is that this book was at times a disappointment. Because the Mechanized Corps are the main focus of this narrative not a lot of attention was given to the information presented in regards to the intelligence Stalin was receiving on the eve of the invasion. I thought, overall, the author's analysis of what agents were sending to Stalin and his actions in response were at times weak and lacked substance. The sources used were also very limited. Within the text there are a few incorrect details that few will be able to spot, but still, basic research into what you're going to put into a book should be a must in all cases.

    The editing this text went through is horrific. Practically on every page there is a missing word, misspelled word, etc. Amazingly you'll get used to it. The sources used, in my opinion, were lacking. Some were excellent, but a lot of information and books have come out that I did not see cited here, from both Russia and the West. The author needs to cite better, there is an immense amount of interesting information throughout the pages of this book without any citations! How are we supposed to guess where all of this data is coming from? Russian sources are also translated instead of being transliterated in the bibliography, I thought that was a minus. And in at least one instance there is an endnote citation of a book that is not listed in the bibliography.

    Because of the above this book is at rare times useless as a source. A lot of the information here I'm familiar with but when I came to interesting discussions and events I had never heard of, I was at a loss as to where they came from. How can I cite this book if it only leads to a dead end? Still, I know the author isn't simply making it all up and because of that I can still recommend this narrative to those who have an interest in the Eastern Front, 1941, and what happened to the Mechanized Corps of the Red Army during the initial border battles. These were the battles which eventually set the stage for the rest of the operations undertaken by the Red Army in 1941, if not the entire war.
    "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
    "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
    "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

  • #2
    I read a book recently called "Stalins Folly" which had a pretty good breakdown of the first 7 days of barbarossa including the absolutely atrocious communications issues you mentioned.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by wokelly View Post
      I read a book recently called "Stalins Folly" which had a pretty good breakdown of the first 7 days of barbarossa including the absolutely atrocious communications issues you mentioned.
      Pleshakov's book was good, not great, but good. Some of what he wrote about you'll find in "Bloody Triangle" but overall it features a lot of new information for the Western reader.
      "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
      "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
      "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Kunikov View Post
        Pleshakov's book was good, not great, but good. Some of what he wrote about you'll find in "Bloody Triangle" but overall it features a lot of new information for the Western reader.
        Main defect is its berevity. Lacks the details needed to study the event in depth. It is a excellent summary or primer & I'd recomend it as a English language lead to a broader study.

        The title was a bit unfortunate as well. Perhaps it was some publishers idea of a sales hook.

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        • #5
          The Bloody Triangle, Kiev pocket... call it what you will, it was a huge battle. Utterly tremendous, and leading to the largest bag of prisoners ever taken in one fell swoop, 665,00 of them, plus 884 tanks and 3,178 cannon. It is staggering, and even more amazing is how little attention it is given, by anyone.
          You would think that a month-long battle that saw the end of an Army larger than the current US Army would get more attention.

          I read 'Stalin's Folly', it was reasonably interesting, but not terribly memorable.
          "Why is the Rum gone?"

          -Captain Jack

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
            The Bloody Triangle, Kiev pocket... call it what you will, it was a huge battle. Utterly tremendous, and leading to the largest bag of prisoners ever taken in one fell swoop, 665,00 of them, plus 884 tanks and 3,178 cannon. It is staggering, and even more amazing is how little attention it is given, by anyone.
            You would think that a month-long battle that saw the end of an Army larger than the current US Army would get more attention.

            I read 'Stalin's Folly', it was reasonably interesting, but not terribly memorable.
            ??? Those were 2 different battles.

            The border battle in the triangle Lutsk-Brody-Rovno happened in the end of June.

            Then the German were stopped in the Ukraine.

            And only 2 months later, in August-September the Soviets troops in Kiev region were encircled in the result of the turning of panzer units of Army Group "Center" to south.

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            • #7
              In the immortal words of General Custer; "Whoops!"

              Just got off a discussion on that subject, my bad.
              "Why is the Rum gone?"

              -Captain Jack

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              • #8
                The name of the book is not correct enough.

                That battke resulted to the loss of the Mech Corps in the Ukraine but it was a strategic victory which resulted to the collapse of Barbarossa in the Ukraine. Germans failed to capture Kiev in time.

                The Soviet Command sacrificed the Mech Corps to stop the Germans in the Ukraine and to break the German plans.

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                • #9
                  Not so. The intention was to stop the invasion, not to serve up a colossal amount of men and equipment for a slaughter in exactly the way the Germans would have wished for.
                  Those Corps were thrown away because as a General, Stalin had no idea what he was doing, as was the case with the Bohemian Corporal.

                  Kiev was able to hold out because of the man who made their stand there. That salient did indeed save Moscow, because an advance to Moscow with Kiev still in Russian hands would have left Army Group Center wide open to a massive flanking attack.
                  "Why is the Rum gone?"

                  -Captain Jack

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                    Not so. The intention was to stop the invasion, not to serve up a colossal amount of men and equipment for a slaughter in exactly the way the Germans would have wished for.
                    Those Corps were thrown away because as a General, Stalin had no idea what he was doing, as was the case with the Bohemian Corporal.
                    It was not a slaughter. It was a war.

                    It is too primitive to think that idiot Stalin ordered stupid orders to his generals and it was the reason of the loss of the Mech Corps.

                    Maybe it will be a surprise for you, but there was another high commander who gave certain orders to troops in that battle in the Ukraine in theend of June. That person came there from Moscow, he coordinated the actions of Mech Corps, controlled the filfillment of the orders and himself visited troops in the battlezone. The name of that person was... Georgii Zhukov!!!! Zhukov was the supreme of the Soviet generals who commanded troops in that battle... Do you think Zhukov was incompentent?

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                    • #11
                      All war is slaughter...but the Kiev/Ukraine defeats are usually blamed on Budenny.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Emil_G View Post
                        All war is slaughter...but the Kiev/Ukraine defeats are usually blamed on Budenny.
                        In comparison to disasters in the Byelorussia and in the Baltic the situation in the Ukraine was excellent in the first days of the war. The Germans were stopped there and it is the fact. Yes, the Mech Corps lost the most of their tanks but the most of their tanks they had had by the beginning of the war were obsolete T-26 and BT and the industry would do new tanks and they would be famous T-34 and KVs. The main task was achieved - the Germans were stopped in the Ukraine and Barbarossa failed. The Soviets won time....

                        So the Soviets indeed strategically won their border battle in the triangle Lutsk-Brody-Rovno in the spite of the fact they got a tactical defeat there.

                        Budennyy was the Chief of South Strategic Direction (IIRC). That post was organised in the first days of the war. But he absolutely was not related to the border battle of June 1941 - Zhukov and Kirponos (the Comander of the South-Western Front) did the decisions there.

                        The disaster of Kiev pocket in September 1941 was the result of combined decision of Stalin, Budennyy and Kirponos. Kiev was the 3rd city of the USSR and there were political reasons to hold it at any price. Kiev had been the capital of ancient Russia. The turning of the panzer units of Army Group "Center' to south was a large surprise for the Soviet Supreme Command.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andrey View Post
                          So the Soviets indeed strategically won their border battle in the triangle Lutsk-Brody-Rovno in the spite of the fact they got a tactical defeat there.
                          Even the Marshal of the Soviet Union Bagramyan, then a colonel, who was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Southwestern Front, headquartered in Kiev, described the border battle in the triangle Lutsk-Brody-Rovno as a senseless and disasterous move that was taken under pressure from Moscow and the only result of it was the useless loss of the best Mech Corps in the Red Army within a few days. He clearly wrote it in his memoirs "This is How the War Began" published in the USSR in the 1970s.


                          In comparison to disasters in the Byelorussia and in the Baltic the situation in the Ukraine was excellent in the first days of the war. The Germans were stopped there and it is the fact. Yes, the Mech Corps lost the most of their tanks but the most of their tanks they had had by the beginning of the war were obsolete T-26 and BT and the industry would do new tanks and they would be famous T-34 and KVs. The main task was achieved - the Germans were stopped in the Ukraine and Barbarossa failed. The Soviets won time....
                          Belarus and the Baltic states were the main direction of the German offensive. Ukraine was the second-rate direction. The Red Army in Ukraine had absolute superiority over the enemy as Ukraine was considered to be the main possible direction for Axis advance by the Soviet generals.

                          The Red Army in Ukraine outnumbered Germans and their allies more than 7 times in tanks and in 2.6 times in aircrafts and in 1.5 in manpower. http://militera.lib.ru/research/meltyukhov/12.html)

                          At the beginning of war the Red Army had 892 T-34 tanks and 504 KVs that were better than any German tanks.

                          Kiev had been the capital of ancient Russia.
                          Wow, You should restrain your imagination. Kiev was the capital of Kievan Rus. The name Россия-Russia for Moscovian tsardom was introduced by the Moscovian tsar Peter I in the XVIII century. To say that Kiev was the capital of ancient Russia is the same as to say that Rome was the capital of ancient Romania.
                          Last edited by Shamil; 29 Jan 09, 03:53.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Shamil View Post
                            Even the Marshal of the Soviet Union Bagramyan, then a colonel, who was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Southwestern Front, headquartered in Kiev, described the border battle in the triangle Lutsk-Brody-Rovno as a senseless and disasterous move that was taken under pressure from Moscow and the only result of it was the useless loss of the best Mech Corps in the Red Army within a few days. He clearly wrote it in his memoirs "This is How the War Began" published in the USSR in the 1970s.
                            I have got the book. You distort his words.

                            Belarus and the Baltic states were the main direction of the German offensive. Ukraine was the second-rate direction. The Red Army in Ukraine had absolute superiority over the enemy as Ukraine was considered to be the main possible direction for Axis advance by the Soviet generals.

                            The Red Army in Ukraine outnumbered Germans and their allies more than 7 times in tanks and in 2.6 times in aircrafts and in 1.5 in manpower. http://militera.lib.ru/research/meltyukhov/12.html)

                            At the beginning of war the Red Army had 892 T-34 tanks and 504 KVs that were better than any German tanks.
                            The Baltic direction was as secondary as Ukrainian.

                            The difference is that in the Ukraine Zhukov organized a powerful counterattack by Mech Corps but nothing like this was done in the Baltic.

                            ZHUKOV did it!!!! The name speaks itself that it is wrong to call those actions as stupid massacre for own men and equipment. It was the alone way to break Barbarossa in that time in those conditions.

                            Wow, You should restrain your imagination. Kiev was the capital of Kievan Rus. The name -Russia for Moscovian tsardom was introduced by the Moscovian tsar Peter I in the XVIII century. To say that Kiev was the capital of ancient Russia is the same as to say that Rome was the capital of ancient Romania.
                            Kievan Rus is considered ancient Russia.

                            Rus and Russia have got the same root.

                            There is a noble unofficial phrase about Kiev - "Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities and towns".

                            Of course modern Ukrainian nationalists can get their own opposite opinion....

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                            • #15
                              You know, if I were a Russian, I would want to take a step back and take a objective look at what went wrong, and how to fix it. After all, that is exactly how the German General Staff became so good at what they were doing.

                              Several of the world's best equipped corps were thrown away, senselessly, and to no benefit to anyone but the enemy.
                              "Why is the Rum gone?"

                              -Captain Jack

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