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The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat

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  • The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat

    I was recently involved in the translation of some Soviet veterans' memoirs regarding the battle for Moscow for Mike Jones' new book, The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat

    The book is based around large amounts of material from Soviet and Germans of all ranks who were there.

    Due to considerations of space and maintaining the narrative, not all the work I did was used. Here I post some of the material that was not used - it should give an idea of how good the material that WAS used is. The author used material from a variety of first-hand narrative sources on both sides.

    I begin with some stuff from a soldier called Georgi Osadchinskiy.

    FORMATION OF THE 2nd RIFLE BATTALION

    In August 1941 I finished studies with top grades in the Centre of the Mountain-rifle Preparation for the Centrai-Asian Military District (SAVO) in Azad-Bash. I was given the service rank of Junior Sergeant and, in an intake of 100 people, was sent to train at the Alma Ata Rifle-Machine gun School (ASPU) for the post of the squad leader of cadets.

    At that time four training battalions of cadets were billeted in the summer camp. We underwent intensive training, which was conducted under the slogans: "more perspiration - less blood" and "hard in study - easy in combat". Later at the front we came to appreciate this.

    12.10.41 the alarm woke us and, by forced march, they directed us from the camp to the school. Comrade Stalin's order was read out, about the fact that Moscow was in danger and that, for its protection, it is necessary to form strike forces from the cadets of military schools. In the order that is how it was said: "strike forces". The order of the chief of ASPU was read out, indicating the surnames of cadets who were to leave for the front. From ASPU three training battalions (about 1800 people) were sent to the front.
    14.10.41 our 2nd training battalion, which numbered about 600 men, entrained.

    17.10.41 we arrived in Chirchik, Tashkent region, where we were incorporatea into the 35th Separate Rifle Brigade (OSBR). In the brigade also arrived 400 cadets of Tashkent Infantry School (TPU), the students of Tashkent VUZ - Institute of Higher Education, frontier-guards taken from our southern boundary, soldiers who had been undergoing medical treatment in the Tashkent hospitals, and political soldiers [politboytsy).

    Politboytsy were Sergeants and Red Army men, who were members of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (VK.Pb). and had participated in the Civil War, at Khalkhin-Gol or in Finland. The majority of them had worked in the national economy and had had "armour" (protection from conscription) but, on the order of the party, were sent to protect Moscow. Political soldiers were distributed into the combat units of brigade - into each platoon, one or two men. They did not have privileges, but were expected to fight better than others and to serve as an example to us. We draftees of spring 1941 had much to learn from these mature, experienced and brave political soldiers. The majority of them perished in combat.

    The basic fighting units of the battalion were three rifle companies. Each company, being three rifle platoons, consisted of approximately 150 people. There was also the heavy firepower of the battalion: a machinegun company - 9 "Maxim" heavy machine guns, a mortar company - 8 82 mm mortars, an anti-tank artillery battery - 4 45 mm guns, and a platoon of anti-tank rifles with 4 PTRD guns. There were also the battalion staff, reconnaissance platoon (49 people), the platoon of sub-machine gunners (49 people), the communication platoon, combat engineer platoon, sanitary platoon and a supply platoon. The total manpower of a rifle battalion was 811 people and, with the subdivisions subordinate to Brigade authority, which increased numbers, about 1000 people. Soldiers and junior commanders were armed with SVT-40 semiautomatic rifles, Fl and RDG33 hand grenades and RPG40 antitank grenades. Each rifle platoon had 2 DP -27 light machine guns and one sniper rifle with optical sights, which was used by the best shot in the platoon.

    The platoon of sub-machine gunners was armed with PPD-38s and American Remingtons. There were very few of the famous PPSH-41 at that time, only some officers had them. According to the newspaper "Red Star" of 12.11.94, on 01.01.42 there were only 55,147 PPSH-41 s in active service. At that time a reinforced rifle battalion was a large force and it could independently solve many tactical missions.
    In the course of the formation of battalion intensive combat training was conducted. The cadets of ASPU and TPU were distributed into combat units. I was appointed communications operative for the commander of the reconnaissance platoon of the 2nd rifle battalion. To me, this was upsetting. I had finished studies with excellent grades at the Centre of Mountain-rifle Training, commanded a unit of cadets in ASPU, I had sport distinctions in four disciplines, and they appointed me to be a mere runner.

    However, when I got to know the commander of the reconnaissance platoon, Junior Lieutenant Vorodeyev, to whom I was directly subordinated, then I understood that I had much to learn from this person. Carrying out his orders, I understood by what how brave, resourceful, hardy and capable of being oriented in the locality in the daytime and at night a communications operative must be. I began to be proud of my post. During this period in the infantry the use of radios for platoon - company - bpttalion communications did not exist. Company radio sets (RRU-12) were very rare, they freguently broke down, audibility was poor, and so runners were the most reliable, extended means of communication. Especially in the reconnaissance platoon which, in defence and in offence, could be separated from the battalion by a distance of up to 10 km. So not everyone was able to carry out such duties.

    The formation of the brigade had not yet ended, but we received the order to leave for the front. On 19.11.41 the brigade was entrained and it left in seven echelons for Moscow.
    There then follows a lot of material about his unit's arrival in Moscow at what turned out to be pretty much the 'highwater mark' of the German push on Moscow, which is printed in the book. Here is a part of the original...

    FIRST COMBAT

    In a -20 frost the 2 rifle battalion marched 35km with full combat load, along the snowy roads from the Moscow Aviation Institute to the village of Kiovo. On the night on 28.11.41 the battalion took up defensive positions in a sector which stretched 3 km from the stream, which flows into the river Ucha where we flanked the 3rd battalion, along the western edge of the woods and along the railroad to the northern outskirts of the village of Kiovo. The rear of the battalion was arranged in Kiovo, which was located a distance of 1,5 km from the railroad crossing. The soldiers of rifle companies, machine gunners, mortarmen and the artillerymen of anti-tank battery began to dig in. Field engineers mined Rogachev highway on the approaches to Lobnya station. The earth was frozen to a depth of 30 cm.

    To the north and northwest fires burnt and mortar salvos thundered. There were communications links with the staff of the northern operational group of forces and with the staff of the 20th Army, into which the 35th Independent Rifle Brigade was, by 29.11.4, not yet subsumed. (Sandalov, L. M. "Na Moskovskom Napravleniya". 1970, p. 248.)

    The battalion commander ordered us to conduct reconnaissance along the Rogachevskiy highway and ascertain where our troops were and what they defended, and also what forces the enemy had. Junior Lieutenant Vorodeyev understood that after the hard march, the scouts were exhausted, but made the decision that the entire platoon would reconnoitre, so that the scouts would become acquainted with the combat situation and the locality in which the battalion would fight. After struggling another 9 km, our platoon came to the forward line of defence of the 2nd Moscow Rifle Division, which, in heavy defensive actions, had checked the advance of the enemy but had sustained large losses. The first line of defence of the division was based around the villages of Ozeretskoye, Rybaki and Myshetskoye, which were strongpoints. There was no continuous line of defence. According to the information of the staff of this division, the enemy was strongly attacking with the 106 Infantry division and independent units of the 2nd Panzer Division.

    We returned at dawn. Mortar fire thundered along the front. I (a runner) went next to Junior Lieutenant Vorodeyev and asked: "Why is our brigade dug in so far from the front, and does not proceed to help in the defence?" Vorodeyev answered irritably: "We are dug in, where we are ordered to be!" - he calmed down and quietly explained, "We will not be able to stop tanks and armoured carriers at the boundary of 2nd Moscow rifle division: there is no artillery. The area is open for the manoeuvre of armour. The Germans will outflank those defending, and will attack at the unit boundaries and will thus break through our defence. The bed of the railway is rimmed by a high embankment, insurmountable by armour. The enemy will strike in two places: at Lobnya station and at the place where the 2nd and 3rd battalions meet. These directions will be mined and covered by an anti-tank battery. Tanks will not pass, but with the infantry we will fight on equal terms." I listened to this military science, and loved this person as an elder brother, and thought: "I must be such a commander one day".
    We arrived at the battalion. In less than twenty-four hours the reconnaissance platoon had covered about 60 km. I had sports awards for boxing, swimming, medium distance running and long jump, achieving the standard "excellent", in ASPU I entered into the composite command of the 2nd training battalion for the overcoming of the obstacle course. However, this march in the deep snow inflamed the lymphatic glands in my groin, and each step caused me severe pain. However, my comrades were in the same state, but no one complained. We considered it a disgrace to show weakness. On the 28, 29 and 30.11.41the battle thundered in front of us. The 2nd Moscow Rifle Division and other troops, whose names and locations are unknown to me, battled to the death!
    01.12.41 In the morning the Germans broke through the front and took Ozeretskoye, Rybaki and My****skoye. Advancing along the Rogachevskiy highway and along the country road, they took Krasnaya Polyana and headed towards the Savelovskoy railway line. In this combat the enemy sustained large losses; however, he decided on the move to attack Lobnya station, which a rifle regiment of the 331st Rifle Division defended.
    In the preceding three days our battalion had dug in, mined tank-threatened directions and established field telephone connections. The North outskirts of the village of Kiovo were defended by one rifle company, a combat engineer platoon, an anti-tank battery, 3 heavy machine guns, 4 battalion mortars, separate units of communication and engineer support. In the village of Kiovo, even prior to our arrival, there were situated two 85 mm anti-aircraft guns for dealing with the tanks of the enemy, if they broke through past the railway.
    On the right flank (where the 2nd and 3rd battalions met) there was: one rifle company, a reconnaissance platoon, 4 anti-tank guns, 3 heavy machine guns, 4 battalion mortars, and separate units of communication and engineer support.
    The front sector along the railroad was about 1.5 km wide and was defended by one rifle company, 3 heavy machine guns, separate units of communication and engineer support. In reserve with the battalion commander was the platoon of sub-machine gunners.
    The scouts, in their defence area, dug foxholes and built three dugouts in one redoubt. In the dugouts we were protected from the firing and, in turns, the entire platoon could sleep there. We had no stoves in the dugouts so it was cold and damp, worse than under the open sky. Senior Sergeant Sergiyenko taught us how to dig niches into the dugout wall with a size of 30 by 40 cm and with a depth of 50 cm. An opening for the smoke was punched from the earth's surface into the niche. In the niches we kindled bonfires, the entrance into the dugout was curtained by cape-tents, keeping in the warm air, and so the dugouts were heated. This heating was permitted only at night.
    As well as Osadchinskiy's material there is some from another sldier called Makariy Barchuk:

    Barchuk, Makariy Ivanovich (1910-1986)


    He was called into the army for mobilization, in Voroshilovskiy recruiting area of Primorskaya region on 10.07.4, joining the 322 Rifle Reg't of the 32 Rifle Division. He participated in combat at Borodino in October 1941. He was a Red Army man of the 2nd platoon of the 1st rifle company 1st battalion, 322 Rifle Reg't, 32 Rifle division. Units of the division participated in the counterattack in the environs of Moscow, January 1942 and he was injured. After recovering he joined the NKVD frontier troops and was involved in the liberation of Smolenshchina, Belorussia and Lithuania. He participated in the liberation of Poland, and fought in East Prussia. He was awarded with the Order of the Red Star and with the medal "for victory over Fascist Germany". He finished war with the rank of sergeant.

    Dorokhov station

    Our 1st rifle battalion of the 322 'Red Banner" Rifle Regiment of the 32 'Red Banner" rifle division arrived in Dorokhov in the morning at dawn. Although our route was to Mozhaisk, we had been forced to detrain. The evening before our arrival Fascist aviation had bombed the railway line. The command to unload was rapidly obeyed, under the supervision of Captain Ruvinskiy, the chief of staff of the battalion, Captain Portyankin, the commander of the 1st company, Lieutenant Zholobov, commander of the 2nd platoon, Junior Lieutenant Shamatov and other commanders, that separated us into our units. Each company, each platoon took rapid measures to unload because of the threat of a repeat attack by Fascist aviation on Dorokhov and our men. So the unloaded troops, upon command, rapidly moved away to the curb of the road. On foot we had to move along the road. Here we prepared for faster movement to Mozhaisk and camouflaged ourselves against possible air attack. They ordered us to form ranks and warned us not to talk with people going along the road or to ask any questions. Everything was said clearly. We set off by platoon, by company, by battalion along the edge of the road. Towards us, along the road, heading to the rear, were refugees, travelling anyway they could. Some were going on carts, some with their belongings on handcarts, some carrying their children. In a word, whoever could, was moving to the rear with any available means of transport. There were in this mass some soldiers with pilotka side-caps and without these side-caps, in field shirts, with field-coats on their shoulders. In a word, they conducted themselves like cows and goats. All kinds of people moved to the rear, fleeing the advancing fascist.

    Where were the Germans? Where was the front? Everyone wanted to know.
    Walking past us there were 2 or 3 former soldiers. In each case they were in military uniform, but in a disordered state, side-caps aslant, without the insignia of rank, but the uniforms of commanding officers. Someone of our company and possibly even of our platoon could not contain their curiosity and as they passed asked them the question: "So, comrades, what is the situation at the front?" They answered us: "Go, go, soon you will be running like us".

    Immediately the command followed: "Battalion! Halt!" The battalion and our company stopped, and stopped those who had been shouting to flee. A captain stepped forward and asked: "What you said, repeat it". In self-justification they said: "So what?" and provocatively repeated what they had said.

    The Captain gave the order: "About face!" and then said to them as they faced away from him, "For the propagation of false rumours, for high treason, take this!" and shot them there, on the highway.

    After this he turned to the unit, and said: "Whoever asked them any questions, step forwards". But no one stepped forward. The captain repeated this three times. But not a sound was heard. Then the captain said: "Fine, if I hear any more such questions, you will get the same treatment as these provocateurs. Right face! By the left, march!" So we continued marching.

    For the first two or three kilometers there was absolute silence, and then, before a halt, a murmuring arose, dissatisfied voices and cries: "Did you see, he shot them without trial and or a judge. Who gave him the right? Let us see how he himself acts at the front in battle". The command to halt came. Each soldier tried to select for himself a comfortable place, to drop his haversack and to rest as well as possible. Each minute was precious. The captain, who had shot the provocateurs on the highway, was no longer to be seen.

    The battalion was on the march to Mozhaisk, to Borodino. It is necessary to say that the supply platoon did not appear concerned with respect to the soldiers to battalion commanders. Hot food was not given to us and at two halts they permitted us to take from the emergency rations in our haversack several rusks and one can of fish per three people. This food only sharpened the appetite, but what could we do? It was war.

    Kitchens unloaded, and were moving the side of the road, shaking; in a word, no dinner was cooked. We carried 32 kg of kit on our backs. From Dorokhov we hurried to the front. Our primary task: Move faster! Move faster! It was beginning to grow dark. To the West we could hear gunfire reminding us of the forthcoming combat. We were ordered to halt increasingly frequently. Being located under Volkhov and en mute, we were in complete combat equipment, in helmets, our heads reeling from insomnia and the weight of helmets, 32 kg on each of our backs, making a difficult burden. In the darkness the people could not keep up the march, they extremely exhausted. It turned out that, when the feet were moving, the head fell asleep. If the person in front fell asleep, then he would fall back onto the person behind, who would push him, waking him up so he could continue to go forward. In formation we reached Mozhaisk city. In Mozhaisk they warned us to maintain absolute silence, not to light fires, not to smoke, not to make any noise with our weapons. The City itself somehow cheered us up. At 23.30 on October 14, 1941 we marched through Komsomol Square. There are loudspeakers: We hear Levitan's voice. It reads the summary from the information bureau: We hear: "Our troops are conducting persistent bloody defensive actions in the region of the city Yel'nya and in the Vyaz'ma region". All soldiers, marching across the squares of Mozhaisk, greedily caught each of the words of Levitan, and each, who could, became self-conscious and imagined where the enemy was and what they were like.

    One thing that was clear was that the enemy was strong and was located very close by. About which spoke the artillery barrages to the West of Mozhaisk. At the exit from the city we were warned: here there are the antitank ditches, there are the minefields, which we will pass on boards, thrown across the ditches. Field engineers will conduct us through the minefields. The main Mozhaisk fortified district [UR] was located here. Approximately 5-6 km from Mozhaisk as we neared the front we were accompanied by tankettes. The tankettes were in front with, behind them following in march formation, the soldiers of the 1st battalion of the 322nd Rifle Regiment under captain Ruvinskiy. We were told that the tankettes would go to the rear, and we moved into a hollow depression. Water there squelched underfoot. Our order: to take up defence and to dig in round this hollow. Commanders of companies and platoons went to the regiment-commander. The CP was in a large forest, they went there and assembled the command staff in order to obtain their combat missions. The commander of the platoon, Shamatov, arranged us in the low place, where we could not dig in, due to the fact that it was too wet, with water saturating the soil. Using foxholes in this ground would be like lying in water. I saw that it was not possible to dig in and protested. Then Shamatov showed me a willow tree and said: "Climb up into the bush and sit, you won't be sitting there long." and he left to go to the regiment-commander. So I climbed up into the bush, parted the branches, sat there and awaited further orders. The commanders conferred for a long while. It seemed us that it was more than 2 hours. Then the commander of the platoon, Shamatov, arrived and gave the command "Form up in ranks!".

  • #2
    Excellent Nestor! Thanks for this and I see you have been busy welcome back.

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    • #3
      Very Nice, Thanks

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      • #4
        I love the continuity: both the quotes being used in the military school in 1941 are variations of Suvorov's famous quip: "hard in training, easy in combat" that dates back to the 1700s! It is fantastic to see the same kind of lower-ranks memoir material being made available from the Russian side that has been available from the Germans for decades.
        Now, as a book seller, I just wish I could get more people to buy Jone's and Glantz's books at the store where I work, and read them!

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        • #5
          Great stuff Nestor

          thanks for this thread, in the Russians own words and thoughts are great!!

          Cheers, keep em coming when you have time.

          Tom

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          • #6
            Review of The Retreat: Hitler's first defeat

            http://www.amazon.co.uk/Retreat-Hitl.../dp/0719569524

            It has been said that the key moments of the battles on the ostfront were four in number.

            Firstly there was Operation Typhoon, when the Germans realised that they were not going to fulfill their initial goals for the invasion of Russia.

            Secondly there was Stalingrad and the encirclement of the 6th Army, when the Germans realised they probably would not win the war on the ostfront at all.

            Following this there was Kursk, where it became clear that even the best of the German units could not necessarily prevail using blitzkrieg against a smarter and invigorated Red Army.

            And finally there was Operation Bagration, in which it became clear that the war was eventually going to end on the steps of the Reichstag.

            Mike Jones' latest book, 'The Retreat', deals with the first of these key campaigns - the advance on Moscow in late 1941. As the subtitle of the book suggests, this was to be the first major failure by the forces of the 3rd Reich and can perhaps be taken as a foretelling of the nature of later engagements.

            As those familiar with Jones' previous books on the subject of Stalingrad and the Leningrad siege would probably expect, the book deals predominantly with the psychological aspects of the battle. It is a close look at what was going through the mind of the Fuhrer and German staff when the battle began. It also looks for insight in the diaries and reports of the German troops and Soviet troops and civilians as the panzer armies closed on Moscow.

            The book shows the effect of the terrible Russian winter on the woefully unprepared German troops and the displaced civilians. It charts out the point where it became clear that the German advance's tide was starting to ebb. The accounts used give us a vivid, kaleidoscopic view of the cruelty, horror, bravery and defiant humanity of the protagonists on both sides.

            Often the accounts are such that one is left profoundly shaken and moved. There were times I had to put the book down, just to collect my thoughts and try to assimilate the graphic descriptions I had just read. I, myself, had been involved in some translations of Russian survivor's testimony for it so I was somewhat prepared for the impact the book would have but, I was still taken aback by the power of all of the participants' stories.

            In this book the effect on the morale of the German troops of the bitter cold and equally bitter losses as the thrust to Moscow faltered and started to be rolled back is explored in detail. It is here that we see the effect of a 'Great Man' in preventing a catastrophe.

            Here it is that Walther Model comes to the fore. In the same way that Jones' previous book on Stalingrad highlighted Chuikov's personality as a major factor in creating a blind will to succeed in the desperate and almost crushed troops of the 62d Army, the character of Model as a catalyst in stiffening the German resolve and preventing a humiliating rout is shown. His tireless and hands-on approach has many parallels with that later adopted by Chuikov.

            We can also see parallels in the attitude of Stalin in the later stages of the operation to that of Hitler at the beginning... a blindness to the realities faced by the troops and the seeming belief that, by sheer force of will, they could cause their troops to overcome physical and logistical impossibilities. The effect, in each case, was that their respective armies came close to disaster under the weight of their unrealistic expectations.

            While David Glantz is the undoubted master of presenting data regarding engagements on the ostfront in great detail in his accounts, Mike Jones has once again shown that he is the source to turn to for an insight into what it must have felt like for the men and women at the front line.

            I think that anyone with a real interest in the ostfront who has not read this book is missing out on a great resource.
            Last edited by Nestor Makhno; 13 Nov 09, 15:33.

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            • #7
              Thank you Nestor for this, fascinating reading for the military history nuts like us here

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              • #8
                I was going to create a new thread for my review, but since someone's already done all this, I might as well just add mine here:

                When writing on the German advance toward Moscow, too often it appears authors/historians take it for granted that the Germans achieved as much as they did. The campaign of 1941 was far from a walk in the park, even counting all the success the Wehrmacht enjoyed. What has yet to be shown and emphasized is the state of the Wehrmacht in those critical weeks and months leading up to and through operation Typhoon. Further, the ensuing Soviet counter-offensive is known in a general sense to have been a defeat for the Wehrmacht, but the reality of what the Soviets accomplished and, more so, had the ability to accomplish, has long been omitted from the historical record. While this book does not present an operational, or strategic, picture as well as it presents the tactical view of the soldiers and lower level officers, it nonetheless serves as an exceptionally well documented narrative of the lead up to the Moscow counter-offensive and the counter-offensive itself. Reading what soldiers and civilians were thinking, seeing, and doing does much to create a rich contextual portrait, for both sides, of what these men and women were able to overcome, or at times succumbed to, in those winter months of 1941/1942.

                Jones makes interesting observations as to how both German soldiers and officers began to believe in their own propaganda. Having been driven into their heads that "Blitzkrieg" was a winnable strategy, and seeing for themselves the achievements of their armed forces during the past two years, the evidence of a false sense of superiority is readily evident in the diaries and documents the author quotes from. Within a matter of months the reader can see the change in the Werhmacht's attitude. No longer are they seeing themselves in Moscow within a few days time, or picturing a Soviet defeat within a matter of weeks; now they are simply struggling to survive and continuously question the now ridiculous notion that the war is soon coming to an end, and in Germany, according to the newspapers, has already come to an end. Poignant are Jones's observations of how the Soviet and German high command viewed the situation on the ground. As Stalin gave way to his commander's and their decisions, putting Zhukov in charge of Moscow's defense, Hitler, to the contrary, roused and exhorted his commanders to push toward Moscow. While many field commanders were aware of the condition their forces were in, to those in Berlin/Moscow, unrealistic orders were regularly issued and all too often obeyed. By the end of the counter-offensive we see a switch again, with Model being given room to operate by Hitler and Stalin now exhorting his generals to continue offensive operations when Red Army troops were spent and well past their supply lines.

                Thus one of the main strength's of this narrative is the ease with which the reader can track the changing mentalities on both sides. The taste of defeat on the lips of Soviet soldiers and commanders as the are forced to an agonizing duty of retreat after retreat (for all intents and purposes, if the title of this text was simply "The Retreat" it would serve the dual purpose of applying to both the Red Army and the Wehrmacht) to the dramatic shift as Soviet forces begin to make their stand on the outskirts of Moscow in November and early December, slowly grinding down the German Blitzkrieg machine. On the other side, we see the enthusiastic German soldier marching toward another assured, it seems, victory in the East. Soon this mood of triumphalism turns to depression and exhaustion as the Soviet countryside continues to swallow German units into its expanses and spit out new Red Army formations to oppose a tiring Wehrmacht. This is followed by the initial shock of a Soviet counter-offensive and surprise on side of the Soviets at their initial success. The eventual German deterioration is epitomized by General Heinrici, "Now the Grim Reaper mercilessly raises his sickle over our battle lines. Each day he cuts down more and more of our men. Soon it will all be over." (246) And, as fate would have it, on the same day Stalin gave orders to take the 1st Shock Army off the line and transferred it to the army reserve. Simultaneously, with Model being put in charge of the 9th Army, two Soviet armies found themselves encircled. While initial German achievements gave them a false sense of superiority, the Soviets were experiencing something quite similar. As they witnessed German forces retreating along the entire front, they were urged on by Stalin and their generals to an ever increasing speed, all the while forgetting to give them adequate preparation, support, and supplies. Thus a perfect storm for the Germans was avoided, instead, the Red Army began to suffer a series of defeats anew. Defeats which eventually set the stage for the catastrophe at Kharkov before German operation Blau took the Sixth Army to the gates of Stalingrad.

                Understandably, there are a few weaknesses within this book. A lack of maps makes tracking unit movements very hard, unless you have an atlas handy. Jones discusses the German campaigns against France and Poland as utilizing Blitzkrieg. Personally, I am in agreement with authors like Karl-heinz Frieser, who believe that the only real Blitzkrieg used by the Wehrmacht was against the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Quite a bit of emphasis is placed on "Siberian divisions" saving the day outside Moscow, in reality those divisions were ordered to the west in September and October, long before Moscow was in danger. Lastly, I noticed one specific editing mistake, Stepan Mikoyan is spelled as "Stephan" throughout the text. Aside from the aforementioned, this book was hard to put down, another excellent addition to Eastern Front literature by Michael Jones.
                "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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