The Germans open the offensive with a devastating Surprise turn catching the Soviets completely off guard.
Rolling enough sixes to win a car at a charity event AGS blows an 80 mile wide hole in the front line extending SW from Kowel almost to the suburbs of Lvov; although a half-hearted assault by infantry fails to take the city. (NE)
In the north AGN makes a less spectacular start but is only faced with cadres and fleeing remnants across a 50 mile gap. Further south AGC crosses the river west of Wino in force and is anticipated to engage Western MD reserves guarding the approach to Minsk within a week gaining freedom to detach recon elements to Beranowicze to seal the fate of all bypassed resistance north of the Pripet.
Losses: Soviet Defence factors. Isolated = 19. Non-isolated = 96. Axis losses = 0
The German High command has decided that Moscow holds the key to the whole Soviet defence. Capture of the capital will not only strike a blow politicaly and economicaly but this vital communications hub affers an excellent springboard for any mopping up operations in 1942.
Moscow is also the Key to the Soviets second major city. A defence of Leningrad is untenable if Moscow falls.
Accordingly the orders are as follows:
AGN: Will advance with infantry element along the Baltic coast to protect the flanks of AGC. Mobile elements will facilitate initial breakthroughs but switch to Aid of AG Center at the first viable moment.. Minimal forces will screen Leningrad.
AGC to advance along the Moscow highway. Mobile elements will stay focused. Units will only stray south of the headwaters of the Dnieper south of Smolensk for local tactical advantage. The minimal of motorised forces will be detached north and south of this line essential to trap retreating frontier forces.
AGS: Will advance directly on Kiev and storm the city by direct assault. Once secured the advance is to continue along the line Kursk, Voronezh. Capturing the rail hub beyond and screening AGC from the south. From here the force will split; half turning North to Moscow and half south, swinging behind Kharkov to Mariopol.
11th Army: will initially move NE towards Kiev trapping the Lvov forces from escape then turning south into the Dneiper bend and the Crimea.
Army Norway. Will advance to secure Petsamo and hold fast.
“Comrades the Fascist hoards are upon us. They believe that one kick will crush us but we will not even break our step. I, uncle Joe, who has purged us clean of undesirables askes you now to reveal to me your plans so that we may stand strong in the face the Hitlerites and their fascist lapdogs. Speak wisely for the Gulags await those who fail our beloved Motherland”
The Soviets realise that their main allies are space and time. Accordingly their plan is to trade space to gain time and preserve units where possible.
The plan calls for 3 lines of resistance to be held with varying levels of determination.
Line One: The frontier. Light resistance. Units have been deployed along the border as much as possible especially where natural defences provide protection. The Reds have a uniform line of 6 points each running on the border around Memel then picking up the river line to Grodno. From there the MLR runs straight to Brest along the front of the forest/swap line. Up to this point all the mech corps are held as far back as possible on/adjacent to rail lines ready to pull out and/or interdict breakthroughs. The exception is the 3 hex “gap” between the river and good terrain SE of Grodno where two corps hold the front line. (forward of this line a minimal garrison holds the frontier). From Brest the line runs along the frontier till that turns West around Lvov. Here the MLR carries on straight to the city with Mech corps and AT teams bolstering the infantry on either flank although again most Mech is held back in reserve. From the Hungarian border the line is of course too thin for a continuous line and will pull back to the old border at the start of hostilities . The forces against the Fins are deployed on the front line with winterized divisions in the far north broken down to cover rail and road connections and minimise the threat from by-passing Axis.
Line 2: The mid line; moderate resistance; is planned to run from Narva through Pskov then east and south on the edge of the swamp line to Veliki Luki. Here straight south through Vitebsk to Orsha and then south along the river to the sea.
Kiev and the crossing points at Cherkassy and Kremenchug are to be fortified held at all costs.
Line 3 The last Redoubt; Maximum resistance; When line2 becomes untenable the army is to fall back to the last stand. In the north the line may need to pull back to the Narva river to Novgorod but it is anticipated that the centre will cave as the Moscow highway is forced and the Axis cross the upper reaches of the Dnepr so the line will then skirt the Valdai hills to a fortified line in front of Moscow/Tula. In the south once Kiev falls and the Dnieper is breached the Soviets plan to fall back rapidly to the Kharkov /Stalino/Mariopol line . The twin cities of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhe are to be held as long as possible deny the Axis the Crimea.
Attacks: Are to be minimal until the Axis reach line 2. It is hoped that the majority of the Mech will have survived to form strong islands of resistance and some counter attack capability against the panzers who should be temporarily separated from their infantry support at this point.
One fantasy I have always harboured is to launch a full scale attack on Southern Finland to try and force an early surrender. This would release a whole army for the main front and should secure a northern supply route for Leningrad if needed. Unfortunately I have never been able to spare the troops for such an adventure, despite the rewards it could bring – perhaps this time.
Today we added a long due work to the library entries: The official history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941-1945. Research into the historiography of the Second World War in the USSR is still ongoing, so expect additions and corrections.
The first official history of the Second World War was published in the Soviet Union from 1960-64 and bore the title “История Великой Отечественной войны Советского Союза“ (History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union). The six volumes prepared by the editorial team around G. A. Deborin decribed the German attack on the USSR and the subsequent war until Germanys surrender in 1945. Although the work was translated in several languages, no English translation is available.
Vol 1: Подготовка и развязывание войны империалистическими державами. Events leading up to the war, the annexation of the baltic republics and the initial period of the Second World War (1 September 1939 until the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Vol 2: Отражение советским народом вероломного нападения фашистской Германии на СССР. Создание условий для коренного перелома в войне (июнь 1941 г. — ноябрь 1942 г.) From the German invasion of the Soviet Union to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad (22 June 1941 to November 1942)
Vol 3: Коренной перелом в ходе Великой Отечественной войны (ноябрь 1942 г.— декабрь 1943 г.) From The Battle of Stalingrad to the Battle of Kursk, (November 43 to August 1943)
Vol 4: Изгнание врага из пределов Советского Союза и начало освобождения народов Европы от фашистского ига (1944 год) From the Battle of Kursk to the liberation of Belorussia (August 1943 to July 1944)
Vol 5: Победоносное окончание войны с фашистской Германией. Поражение империалистической Японии (1945 г.) From the liberation of Belorussia to the defeat of Germany (July 1944 to May 1945)
Vol 6: Итоги Великой Отечественной войны Cost and consequences of the Second World War.
The historiography of the Second World War in the former USSR is more complex due to censorship and the heavy political influence that went into any official description of events. Additionally, official viewpoints on historical events and persons were bound to occasionally sudden chances, depending on political developments.
A very useful description of the works genesis, its contents and public perception of the war in the USSR during the sixties can be taken from Yan Mann’s dissertation “Contested Memory: Writing the Great Patriotic War’s Official History During Khrushchev’s Thaw“, Dissertation, Arizona State University, 2016.
Since 2003 RKKA provides a host of information on the Soviet Forces in World War Two: Formations, Force Structure, uniforms, Losses, Weapons and Maps. The Design hasn’t changed much since then, and the site hasn’t really been updated since 2010, so the website structure belies the sheer amount of information available, which definitly could use a more accessible navigation, and a lot of the maps and individual documents would profit from context. But the amount of material presented makes RKKA one of the reference points for the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War. Since Alex, the site’s webmaster, is russian, many items are based on original research and russian sources.
Date: April 6th, 2018