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Most under appreciated battle of the Ostfront?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Gibson, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Yep, Smolensk July 41 and Vjasma October 41.

    Both stopped AGC on her way to Moscow for a considerable time.

    Cheers,
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    So it might have been more clever to reinforce the troops and bring the new weaponry in instead of attacking Stalingrad and Caucasus? Probably would have been so. But we´re still far from "total war" in the spring of 1942 and German factory workers are watching horse races instead of making tanks.

    By the way, after Kharkov 1943 Stalin tried to start negotiations with Germany through Stockholm, sued for peace?? I wonder what the border lines would have been?After Zitadelle he knew it was over and had no wish to contact Stockholm again.
     
  3. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Kai, where have you heard about this peace offer from Stalin? I've never heard that one before. I'd find it hard to believe- I'm under the impression that by that time Stalin was completely against any peace with Germany... That would also put a whole new light on the Kursk offensive- if Stalin was asking for peace right before Kursk, that would suggest much aout the condition of the Red Army. This would tend to suggest to me that the russian victory was not at all inevitable...

    Good stuff, Andy. Good point on Smolensk... I must say, I don't know much about that battle. But considering your idea on the slowing of the german advance, Smolensk being under-appreciated makes some sense...
     
  4. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    Sources, please.

    AFAIK the "stockholm-peace offer" by Stalin (?) (other sources mention a peace feeler of the German contact Edgar Klaus towards the SU)is on very shaky ground. In fact it is based on the memories of P.B. Kleist: "Between Stalin and Hitler", 1950 and was picked up by B. Martin back in 1976.

    Contrary to Martin, other historians like Graf Einsiedel ("Bridge with Madame Kollontai" in: Die Zeit, 1983), R. Blasius, I. Fleischhauer and V. Mastny are very critical about the reliability of the source. Meanwhile B. Martin uses the term "seemingly peace offers".

    If there was such a fer, documents must be found in Russian archives. The Brits have also documents (as they were naturally interested to know if Uncle Joe was a faithful fellow or not).

    I'm highly sceptical on the issue. For Stalin it would have made no sense to "beg" for peace back in 1942. Maybe a move to make pressure on the WAllies to open a second front a.s.a.p. or to get some more L-L help.

    Cheers,

    [ 23 August 2002, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: AndyW ]
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    This russian probe in Stockholm is mentioned a couple of times in the texts we´ve been through the Kursk theme. I´ll try to check it up, but probably there are no documents as no discussions were gone through.Of course I can give you the sites I´m referring to, I´ll get them next time.

    Stalin is mentioned to have been unsatisfied with the German unwillingness to negotiate,after Kharkov he might have been surprised with German´s fighting power still, and a very long war expected?? After Kursk Stalin had no more wishes of negotiations with germans according to these texts. ( victory is certain )

    I myself find this idea very strange after all the fighting. Ideology on both sides meant death till the end in this battle, but stranger things have happened...
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just to make it right on my part. This probe is said to have taken place in the spring of 1943, after battles of Kharkov, not 1942. Without the muddy period germans would have continued to kursk and even further under Manstein´s command!
     
  7. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Pretty well on your chypers, Andy! ;)

    I knbew too that in 1942, the Wehrmacht had been reinforced with nearly 1.000.000 men and Allied troops, but it had -600.000 men less than at the start of "Barbarossa" and several lack of adequate equipment. It can be shown perfectly on "Blau". In summer 1941 there were three simultaneous offensives in the 2.000 kilometres front. But in 1942 there was only one offensive. What does that say to you? ;) And crazy. I totally agree that the Wehrmacht has the myth of tremendous mechanization and the Panzervisions, bla, bla. But what is always forgotten is that the foot soldier with his supplies carried by horses did all the job and won at Poland, France and in early 1941.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The story of Stalin probing germans in Stockholm is in the book by Walter Dunn " Kursk Hitler´s gamble"". This is found in the book review from skalman.nu.

    " Russians had made contacts with germans in Stockholm, looking to a negotiated Russo-german peace. Possibly, Stalin expected more from Hitler than the abrupt dismissal of the peace feelers."
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    There have been documents now released by the Russian government show that indeed there was a move to initial negotiations through the Bulgarian consulate in 41 prior to the battle of Moscow. Those were desparate times and I can see Stalin making this move but I have not heard of such a move in 43. Especially with the victory at Stalingrad, it does not make any sense for such a move. Doesn't mean it did not happen, I just have not read anything about it. [​IMG]
     
  10. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Oh, come on, Friedrich- so you're saying the panzers and armored forces played no part in Poland and FRANCE???
    You may need to read up on that a bit...

    This is an odd one on Stalin's peace feelers in 43. I wonder about his motivations... By this time I think it was pretty clear that Russia was not in real danger...
    Any other sources confirm this incident?
     
  11. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Well, crazy. OK. I accept that sounds too false. But I will use it to compare: I am overrating the infantry TOO much as much as History has overrated the Panzers... I would say that in Poland and France the Panzers had the last word. In the Soviet Union, they made the encirclements. But who anhilated the encirclements and did all the dirty job there? Do you see my point? Also, Panzerdivisions are watched as elite and some infantry units are seen with disdain, as 2nd class troops... Example: Heeresgruppe C of Von Leeb in 1940's campaign. just because it had no Pabzerdivisionen, only infantry it is seen as a 2nd class force...

    Stalin did not want peace at all!!! It was a political move! After Moscow, when the main menace stopped existing he only made rumours that he will make peace with Hitler, just to urge the West to halp the USSR. He actually told his ambassador in Washington that he should say some rumours about the "peace with Hitler"... And Stockholm in 1943 is the same as well. It is unconciable that Stalin, with his victorious Red Army would have wanted peace in 1943...
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Indeed Friedrich, that probably is what it is all about. I remember having read that Stalin said that if peace should come to the eastern front it would not take a lot of time for the German bombers to start bombing England again...Just one of the tricks by the old dog! :D
     
  13. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Friedrich, I figured you spoke too quickly there. I'd fully agree about the cooperation of the infantry and mechanized forces. One quick thing- remmeber that mechanized forces include far more than panzers- entire divisions were mechanized, including infantry transports, AA units, etc. The idea we were commenting on was the overall mechanization of the german army. And regardless of what kind of units we are speaking of, said units need to be able to reach the battle! That was the biggest problem in Russia. In France and Poland, it was possible for the infantry to mop up, because the mechanized units were not too far ahead (although even look at rommel in France- Hitler wanted him to stop because he had moved too far ahead of the infantry). And early on in russia, the same advances were possible. Problem was, as the german forces pushed farther and farther into russia, the infantry fell further and further behind the mechanized forces. By the time the germans reached the outskirts of Moscow, they had alread drastically over-extended themselves.

    Panzers always get too much credit at the expense of the infantry. I guess they are just more flashy and exciting- but panzers alone didn't win many battles.
     
  14. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Completely agree on your thoughts, Crazy!

    Actually, in France in 1940, Von Kleist and Von Runstedt were always yelling at Guderian to slow down, because he had left the infantry very far away!

    This couldn't be more true!!!
     
  15. Heartland

    Heartland Member

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    Nice forum this, glad I just found it!

    I believe this is somewhat incorrect.

    Captain A.I. Marinesko of the Soviet submarine S-13 was actually awarded the Kalinin Star (I have seen this quoted as Hero of the Soviet Union which seems to be wrong(?)) for the action. He was indeed forced into retirement and stripped of rank and awards, but this was in fact due to being involved with a foreign woman, thus becoming untrustworthy according to Soviet thinking at the time. Marinesko was posthumously reinstated, and hence also received his Kalinin Star (or possibly HotSU), sometime during the 90s if memory serves.

    While I'm typing, it should also be pointed out that the Willhelm Gustloff was a German Navy ship, attacked at night and steaming towards Germany with an armed escort. What should Marinesko have done, let the ship pass? Nicely ask them if he could board them and check the ratio of civilians to military personell? Would any captain from any nation have let that ship pass? The short and simple answer is: no way.
     
  16. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Welcome aboard, Heartland! We hope you enjoy yourself here and also expect to see many post from you too! ;)

    No, I wouldn't have let it pass... :(
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Panzer Jaeger unit DORA II in Brandenburg, April 1945

    It was in the last weeks of the War, in April 1945, that one small detachment, Commando Unit DORA II of the SS 500th Bewahrungs (Punishment) Battalion, fought its last and most memorable battle.

    To overcome the shortage of trained infantrymen and of adequate weapons in the months and weeks of Germany's military decline more and more use was made of small groups of dedicated hard and skillful men who were prepared to undertake operations of the most hopeless sort to help save their native country. The name of one of these men, Otto Skorzeny, was, to his contemporaries in the German Army, synonymous with cool bravery and daring. This account, however, is not Skorzeny's but that of an SS company which had formerly been part of his commando battalion. This had been split up to form a closely woven network of small groups charged with the task of blocking the advance by the Red Army, as it made that great thrust towards Berlin which STAVKA intended would end the war in Europe. Separated from the parent SS commando, the next step had been the conversion of this assault company into a para-commando and then into an anti-tank company. These were not, however, conventional gunners with conventional anti-tank guns, or those Panzerjaeger who fought with self propelled anti-tank gun (Jagdpanzer, Jagdpanther, etc.) who were protected by thick armor and killing their victims within the range in excess of thousands of meters, but a group of bicycle-riding, determined tank hunters, individual destroyers of enemy machines who went out with hollow charges and other close combat weapons to launch themselves at the Soviet vehicles, to clamber onto the moving machines and to plant their explosive charge firmly so that it exploded and destroyed its victim. There were other methods of killing the Red armour of which a favourite one was to rise from the ground, to stand in a wave of tanks, to select a victim and then to smash it with the missile from a single- shot rocket launcher.

    The soldiers who, in this particular account, carried out this type of dangerous mission were men of long experience and years of combat on the Eastern Front. They were led by Untersturmfuhrer Porsch. Born in 1924, he had joined the Waffen SS in 1941 and before he was nineteen years of age was a Company Commander who had been awarded the Iron Cross First Class. The actions which are here recounted won for him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to add to the other visible emblems of his bravery. On his upper left breast glittered the assault badge in gold and on his right breast pocket was the German cross in gold. Then there was the golden badge for close combat, a mention in the Army's book of honour and no fewer than four tank destruction badges.

    In the fighting which marked the last days of April 1945 in Brandenburg the heights of Seelow were lost to the Germans, and the Russian forces, following the classic Blitzkrieg tactics, had probed for and found a gap through which their tanks had driven and had by-passed the few remaining pockets of German resistance in and around the town of Seelow. One of those pockets was that which held the DORA II and soon it had become clear from the volume of Russian fire as well as from its direction that the SS unit was outflanked and in a salient. The Soviet spearheads were now far to the west and to destroy this remaining opposition in Seelow part of an armoured regiment of JS tanks and T 34s was sent in.

    A Red tank squadron charged with the tanks fanned out, and far beyond the range of DORA II's close quarter weapons opened fire upon the SS detachment. The commander and his grenadiers accepted the losses which the Soviet tank gun and machine gun fire inflicted upon them, holding themselves ready for the time when the great machines would approach to within killing distance. Porsch named his men, allotted to them the tank they were to destroy and then the two groups of combatants met in battle. On the one side the human with his explosive charge or rocket launcher, whose only defence was mobility, against, on the other side, an opponent heavily armoured and strongly armed.

    One JS tank which rolled towards the small group of men who made up the company headquarters suddenly swung on its tracks, halted and began to burn. A Panzerfaust had torn into its vitals and fire consumed the vehicle so quickly that none of the crew escaped. This first 'kill' was the signal for a general melee as the men within the tanks and the men outside them fought to destroy each other.

    continued....
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    A sudden change of direction was made by the Russian commanders aiming to take DORA II in flank but this failed when their machines were caught and destroyed by Skorzeny's group holding position on Porsch's right. Vehicle after vehicle stopped, 'brewed up' or blew up. In Porsch's company area six were on fire and the remainder pulled back to allow waves of Red Army infantry to storm forward, hoping to achieve the victory which the tanks had been unable to gain.

    The MG 42s whose rate of fire had been increased to over 2,000rpm came into action, swinging backwards and forwards along the brown-coated files, smashing the cohesion of the attack and destroying it before the assaulting Russian regiment had had time to shake out into tactical formation. The killing was prodigious and the survivors of the crumpled Red battalions pulled back and withdrew out of range of this small group of determined defenders.

    For the outflanked German groups in the salient there was only one course of action and the exhausted detachments were pulled back, but not to rest. DORA II was ordered to move on Lebus and there to attack a Soviet tank group which was concentrating around the town. The road forward was choked with retreating troops and columns of refugees who hindered the advance so that it was not until just before dawn that the small SS column of men and machines reached the objective they had arrived too late. The town had fallen and under the relentless pressure of massed Soviet tank assaults DORA II and its flank detachments were pushed further and further back. But there were successes even on that black day. The company scored its 100th kill and Porsch his twelfth and thirteenth victims.

    At nightfall the detachment rested in a farm set some 300 metres behind the main German firing line which was held by men of a dozen, mixed sub-units separated from their parent bodies. At some time during the night the front line was driven or taken back and Porsch was awakened to the news that his unit was now almost alone, was unprotected and that the farm courtyard was full of Russians. These were killed and then a cautious reconnaissance showed the village to be empty of all German troops except for a detachment of about eighty assault engineers who joined forces with Porsch's 100-strong company. This mixed group filled the gap and formed a temporary battle line. Later again during the night a group of grenadiers from the Dutch SS Division Nederland came up as reinforcements and with this increase in strength the German commander felt his group strong enough and they struck forward in a counter attack.

    The company continued to score victories. The 125th victim was gained and Porsch destroyed his seventeenth. Other attacks by the German group pushed back the Russians in the Neu Zittau area and during one thrust on 20 April Porsch and his men, mounted on bicycles, smashed through the Soviet line held by a whole battalion reached and then captured its headquarters staff of fourteen officers and some women

    On 26 April Porsch was informed that he had been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and as if to set a seal upon this decoration he destroyed with Panzerfaust and machine pistol fire a pair of Russian anti-tank guns which had sought to halt his company's advance. Later during that day his bicycle-mounted troops, accompanied by a handful of men from the SS Division Frundsberg made a swift assault upon a battery of mortars whose fire was particularly destructive and wiped out most of the Soviet battery. Eight mortars were captured.

    The very success of the advance which the SS group had made was its downfall, for then it once again formed a small salient which was under constant and heavy bombardment. Then Soviet troops cut the neck of the salient. By this stroke the German force became a pocket, cut off from the main body and surrounded on all sides by the Soviet enemy. The defiance which it still maintained attracted to it soldiers from every type of German front-line unit and of every rank: men who had been cut off from their own formations. Women and children, old and young entered into this tiny enclave of German-held territory, enduring the bombardments, the aerial assaults, the privations and shortages and often sharing with the soldiers the common end of death. The civilians would endure anything just as long as they could stay with the pocket now trying to fight its way through line after successive line of Soviet defences. Death and wounds continually reduced the number of fighting men. The dead were hastily buried and then the pocket rolled on to meet and overcome in fierce fire fights some new Russian obstacle between it and the main German line.

    :eek:
     
  19. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    Frithjof-Elmo Porsch.

    Afraid i've got to throw a bit of a spanner in the works regarding SS Untersturmfuhrer Porsch.
    He has never been recognised as a Ritterkreuztrager as no official documentation exists to show he was awarded or even recommended for the RK and he has never been recognised by the OdR as such.
    Having said that in the last days of the war such official paper work could have disappeared in the collapse of Germany.
    However it is believed that Porsch has lied about many of the top combat awards with which he was alledgedly awarded.His official records at the Bundesarchiv show that he was awarded the EK 1 and EK 11 and that is all. Apparently Nothing exists in his records to show the award of or recommendation for the DKiG,CCC in Gold,Honour roll clasp,Tank Destruction strips etc.

    Although the RK award paperwork may have gone missing at wars ,does seem strange that throughout his years of combat no record was made of the other awards.In Schneiders book the photo of Porsch shows him wearing many of the awards in a supposed wartime picture,however he does look rather old for a 2oyr old!!!!

    He has certainly stirred some debate but it would appear that his claim to most combat awards have no official verification and some believe them to be Bullshit!!!

    Paul [​IMG]
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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