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What If? - Stalin Lets Tukhachevsky Head Development of the Red Army

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by arca, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. green slime

    green slime Member

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    1) Not so; because sometimes, a bad experience has to be actually made, in order for the lesson to be learnt. What was idle speculation on your part, that somehow, the miracle superman Tukachevsky, would be ever-present to fix all things rotten and bad in the Soviet Red Army. Which is patently not true. There are lots of examples of things going wrong in a planned 5 year economy, in spite of the best laid plans of mice and men, and that is before you get to interpersonal and inter-departmental rivalry. Besides, technological developments at this time were truly tremendous. Of course there are going to be a few lemons in the mixture.

    2) That is part and parcel of what constitutes a surprise attack. Or perhaps Roosevelt and all top US Navy commanders were stupid imbeciles because they got caught with their pants down at Pearl Harbour, despite years of posturing against Japan.

    Nobody in the Soviet hierarchy was believing the reports of the German invasion, from the Border units, so why would they believe some mad spotter? How is that going to help at all?

    3) But that is incongruous with the thinking of the time. Furthermore, it runs directly against what the Soviets were trying to do. It's inane to think that any invader would reach as far as the Dnieper, when the Red Army is the largest, most modern and most mechanised army in the world. Lastly, you are then giving up large parts of Europe to fall under German sway, and giving them spring boards even closer to St. Petersburg, as well as being unable to threaten the German Romanian Oil supply

    4) Most Russian troops were well-adequately clothed. Once again, this was after the signing of the Molentov-Ribbentrop Treaty. Germany was not an immediate threat, and in 5 years time, it wouldn't matter which country was aligned with Germany. In the SPring of '40, the Soviets had by that late stage, other plans for it's army, no one was going to accept a Finnish Soviet, nor did they feel the need to fight an unpopular guerilla war against the population, and they got their original demands and then some.
     
  2. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    LJAd
    You bunch together a very large numbers of inexperienced leutenants and captains in their 20s and 30s and a considerable number of majors on their early 40s, who were completely irrelevant determining strategy, deployment, logistics and tactics to a very small number of very experienced field marshals in their 60s and 70s and generals in their 50s and 60s and a small number of colonels in their late 40s and 50s calling the shots.

    When trying to get an accurate picture, it is much better to enhance accuracy by calling cherries, apples & watermelons by their name, instead of counting them together as fruits (officers in your case).

    Just wiping out a handful of the best field marshals & leaving only the stooges made a major difference in strategy, let alone the hundreds of generals and thousands of colonels.
    Even those generals and colonels who returned with broken teeth, spent long years or months away from the army, instead of sharpenng their kills and those of their troops, who wasted millions of man hours at a critical time, attending political lectures near the front by morons instead.
     
  3. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    green slime,
    Roosevelt did not have 3 million Germans and a million Romanians, Finns, etc, poised along his borders, did not see thousands of foreign recce flights every week, could not hear or see thousands of planes, tanks, trucks, cannon, etc, along his borders, nor did he receive warnings from thousands of spies and several countries and did not receive warning in Mein Kampf decades before the invasion. He suffered the first carrier attack thousands of kilometers from base in history.

    Dozens of Soviet generals had urged stalin to move dumps away from the border and to prepare strong defenses away from the border, so they could not be wiped out by a surpirse attack. The Stalin line had been disarmed to reinforce the new territories in the west and it was completely inadequate against a concentrated attack by planes, artillery and infantry with STUG III. Only wide rivers with strong defenses could stop the Germans.

    Stalin's alleged rational for going to war with Finland in order to occupy 10% of its eastern territory was precisely because in case of war with Germany, Leningrad and the Murmansk railroad line would be a few miles from enemy lines, if Germany attacked through Finland. So he knew that war with Germany was inevitable and may happen any day. Why would he invade Finland at the worst possible time if he thought that war with Germany was years away?

    Soviet troops froze in their vehicles or standing up in some cases, suffered thousands of deaths from hypothermia and tens of thousands of cases of frostbite: as many casualties from the cold and starvation (especially when isolated in small pockets) and shot by political comissars as from Finnish bullets, grenades, mines, bombs or shells combined), all of which led to major improvements in clothing. Troops were so poorly fed and with cold rations, than when finally a batallion broke through Finnish defenses in the Mannerheim line, it could not resist the smell of thousands of Finnish sausages in the field kitchen and stormed it and were wiped out by the rapid Finnish counter attack. Not only were the Finns better clothed and often fed warm meals, they rotated to take periodic Sauna baths, which made a big difference against the freezing, ill fed Soviets. Astonishingly, Hitler did not learn the lesson and sent his troops even more poorly clothed to take Moscow and Leningrad during an even colder winter, so he incurred more casualties form the cold, malnutrition (thousands of calories are required to withstand the cold and disease with the wrong attire) and from disciplinary shootings than from the enemy in late 1941, early 1942.
     
  4. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I don't think "thousands" is actually quite the number you are looking for. Given the total number of planes the LW had, it is not credible that as you claim "... hear or see thousands" nor would the recce flights each week be counted in the thousands, nor are the warnings from "thousands of spies". Exaggeration does nothing for your credibility. The total number of overflights of the Soviet Union prior to the invasion numbered some 500. The number of warnings/reports about the impending invasion was in excess of 100; not in the thousands. Within the Kreml, however, it was perceived as madness for Hitler to try and invade before finishing the war in the West. These were seen as attempts by the Western powers to drive a wedge between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

    Placing the army behind the Dneiper is defeatist, and gives up large chunks of territory to anyone, including dissenters.

    Stalin's excuses are imagined. Primarily, he expected to Finland to roll over and play dead, and the creation of a Finnish Soviet state. In order to restore the Imperial border. That's why the demands were so outrageous to start with; he knew the Finns were extremely unlikely to accept. It also how they managed to find and set up a puppet government within 24 hours of invading. How is it the worst possible time; there is no better time; Germany can't do anything about it. You are consistently judging events with the benefit of hindsight which is incredibly naïve.

    [​IMG]
    These two Soviet soldiers froze to death in their foxhole, not because of inadequate clothing, but because of inadequate training in how to deal with the Cold. They are sitting on the floor of an uncovered hole, with no cold sump.

    The Finns weren't better clothed, but they were better trained in how to deal with the cold.
     
  5. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I will agree that Veroshilov was an outdated and an incapable leader. To compare Veroshilov to Timoshenko as military men tho, is almost laughable. No individual who is remotely familiar with the two could ever compare them. What's truly sad is that after Stalin had Veroshilov relieved in Finland, he placed him in command in Leningrad. It had catastrophic results and Veroshilov was relieved by Zhukov.

    As for no capable military officers being present after the purges... Stalin replaced those with who won the war. Zhukov was quite capable and no less then Tukochevsky.

    Vatutin for example went to school with Guderian. Then beat him at the battle of Moscow. Konev and Rokossovski were also quite well versed.
     
  6. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    There is no doubt that Stalin knew Russia was Hitlers ultimate prize. War was inevitable and Stalin knew it, what he didn't realize was that Hitler would invade before finishing Englad. When Hitler invaded he caught Russia with her pants down. Some historians refer to it as dumb luck. Had Hitler invaded 2 years earlier or 1 year later he would not have been as successful.
     
  7. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    sloniksp,
    Soviet generals did not win the war, a half million cannon, 100,000 tanks & planes & 20 million service persons did and with excessive losses because of the former.

    Marshal Timoshenko was so incompetent that he was useless in Kiev, etc, and Zhukov, an upstart general ,displaced him (despite being famous for incurring excessive losses in every battle, even in Mongolia, against weak Japanese forces far from supply depots). Like Budyoni, Voroshilov and Shaposhnikov, Timoshenko was a ceremonial figure, a stooge. At least Voroshilov admitted openly being incompetent to Stalin, when the former reproached Stalin that he had killed all the competente generals after he was defeated.

    The battle of Moscow was not decided by brilliant generalship, but by low temperatures causing more causalties in poorly clothed Germans and freezing the German, but not the Soviet grease in guns and the fuel in vehicles and by a few exhausted and poorly supplied Germans (who had lost most of their equipment, officers and experienced troops during 6 months of continuous, heavy fighting) being attacked by fresh, well equipped and supplied forces with plenty of better tanks, cannon & planes. Actually, Soviet leadership was so poor during the counter offensive, that Heinrici incredibly managed to stop with meager forces and supplies the steam roller on its tracks and inflicting heavy losses. The Soviets would not break through the depleted German forces for years, not even against the very weak army group north. Soviet generalship was so deficient, that Hitler sacking many of the best generals and field marshalls in the world in weeks made little difference.
     
  8. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Stop the Russians? You mean the actual loss of territories exceeding the size of a small country in what amounts to a single month? In conditions known to vastly aid the defender, as experienced in Finland in '39 by the Soviets, and in Russia in 1919 by the American-British expedition to Archangelsk? How did Heinrici manage to stop the Soviets? Obviously not by retreating against direct orders... On the January 8th 1942, Heinrici is nowhere near were he was on the 6th of December 1941. He must've just been attacking in the reverse direction. He was just better at caging his reports than others.

    The Germans give every excuse possible as to why they were beaten back from Moscow; Do you seriously believe there were no Soviet's freezing? That they had no issue maneuvering their heavy weaponry around in snow? I suppose their tanks just floated on snow, and were propelled by ice. There can't possibly have been any logistical issues facing the Russians, with so many railways to Moscow being severed. There was no hordes of Russians in December '41. Soviet weaponry was not markedly better.

    You are being incredibly disingenuous. The German soldiers were not so poorly clothed, or they wouldn't have been able to fight at all. Which leadership is worse? The one that planned the counter stroke, and caused the Germans to loose large amounts space, and heavy weaponry or the one that entirely failed to see the counter stroke coming, had no reserves left, consistently underestimated Soviet capabilities and had out run his logistical supply lines, placing his entire army at risk? Whose fault is it that the German was freezing and dying in Russia? Talk about imbecile behaviour. Were the German generals somehow unaware of the fate of Napoleon's Grand Armee? The Germans could've stopped earlier and in time to have a more defensible line. Were the Germans somehow unaware of what happens in December?

    Anyone who has properly studied Operation Typhoon, the Battle for Moscow and the subsequent Soviet Winter Offensive will realise the incredible contribution of Zhukov, on that issue alone.
     
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  9. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    If the Soviets were so competent, why despite all the cannon, tanks, planes, fuel, munitions, food, etc, and extremely short supply lines did they advance a short distance and stop completely for years, sustaining incredible casualties to Heinrici and Model despite overwhelming superiority?

    You seem very proud of the fact that the Soviet managed to recover a small fraction of the huge area they lost in a few months, despite the extremely long and increasing German supply lines (while Soviet lines shortened), all the strong Soviet fortifications and defensive lines, wide rivers, the rasputitisa, the fact that German troops & tanks dwindled and wore our as Soviet troops & medium tanks waxed (despite the colossal losses that their incompetent leaders incurred).

    One need only look at Zhukov's frorces and losses in Rzhev against Model, at Bagramian's forces and losses in the battles of the Autobahn in Beilorussia against Heinrici to realize who was the amateur and who the expert.
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I think you should re-examine who was responsible for the needless deaths of millions (to say nohing of all the injured) on all the European fronts, both German and others, before you start to sing the praises of those German war mongerers. It was one nation that elected to wage a war of aggression against the rest of the world. And all the toadies you elect to praise were part of that.

    You can criticize the Soviet command as you please, but it would help if

    1) You were consistent in your standards, applying them to German leadership as well
    2) Not prone to exaggeration
    3) Actually used fact-based argumentation, rather than sweeping generalisations (and those exaggerated)
    4) Not use the benefit of hindsight or information not then available to the decision maker to evaluate the quality of a decision.
     
  11. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Please provide evidence for their "overwhelming superiority", which apparently existed for years?

    How have the Soviet supply lines shortened in December '41, with the majority of the railways to Moscow being severed? Moscow does not produce coal, nor steel.

    Model and Heinrici are well known for their fluid defence. But that was hardly the case for all German General's now then was it? Somehow, Model managed to survive the Nazi purges; many other officers were not so lucky. Lt General Hans von Sponeck (active holocaust participant) was imprisoned and later executed ('44) for retreating to a more defensible line in Crimea (Dec '41). So much for experts.

    “I am ashamed to have belonged in an army, that witnessed and tolerated all the crimes”
    - Hammerstein-Equord in 1943 (former Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr)
     
  12. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    The massive superiority & the incompetent leadership were so glaring that Soviet historiography seriously distorted or ommitted Rzhev, the Autobahn battles.in Belorussia, etc, and only a half century after the war were they presented more accurately to the Russian public The Irony is that given the information and resources available, Pavlov and many other generals who performed better than Zhukov, Konev, Vatutin, Bagramian, etc, were shot, while the latter were promoted.

    green slime,
    I refer to specific actions in which military leadership skill is obvious. You make generilizations involving politics, ethics and other vague concepts. Cesar, Attila, Genghis, etc, were obvious SOBs, yet their strategic and tactical skills are also obvious. Zhukov, Koniev, etc, were obvious SOBs and obviously incompetent.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member

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    You think that military skill?

    A general can only work with the clay he is given, not with the position he wished he had, or the quality of troops he wished he had, or the political position he wished he had.

    I've only seen one significant, concrete event to which you have referred, and that in only sweeping monologue. You have not provided anything like a detailed analysis explaining the reason for your blanket condemnation.

    Somehow, the naked Germans without weapons at temperatures of -50 degrees celsius successfully killed hundreds of thousands of Russians during the Winter Offensive while advancing in reverse, and this proves that Zhukov was incompetent. That, or someone is exaggerating. I wonder which.

    Obliquely referring to Rzhev without going into far greater detail, is also a great disservice, as that covers a lot of potential ground .Losses for the entire series of operations around the Rzhev salient from 1941 to 1943 are difficult to calculate. These operations cover an entire series of battles and defensive operations over a wide area involving many formations on both sides. How on Earth can you expect anyone to respond to what you refer, when you are not referring to a specific action? The controversy which erupted in Russia regarding the casualties at Rzhev, was thoroughly examined and properly sourced by Isayev (as opposed to the Journalists which were unable to provide any proof for their imagined figures).

    According to A. V. Isayev, the Soviet losses from January 1942 to March 1943 is 392,554 irrecoverable and 768,233 sanitary. According to the German reports, from March 1942 to March 1943, the casualties of the 2nd, 4th, 9th, 2nd Panzer, 3rd Panzer and 4th Panzer Army (The 4th Panzer Army only has data from March to April 1942) amount to 162,713 KIA, 35,650 MIA, 469,747 WIA. I don't know about you, but this does not strike me as vastly disproportionate, given the circumstances under which the Soviets were fighting (hint; their supply situation was more than a little tenuous, and they were unable yet to properly co-ordinate their Fronts)

    After the front stabilized, the German Army had enormous amounts of manpower tied down in holding salients from which they did not intend to exploit. This reduced the amount of manpower the Germans could devote to operations elsewhere on the front. The Germans also used some of their best formations, such as 9th Army, in a strictly static defensive role. Even though the Rzhev salient had value and tied down disproportionate numbers of Soviet troops, it is unlikely the salient was worth the loss of around 20 high quality divisions for mobile offensive or defensive operations elsewhere in 1942.

    So explain to me, how this Rzhev is an example of brilliant German leadership?
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's something you need to prove not something you can just assume as an opening position.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Your first assumption is like most of mjolnir's something that needs to be supported by fact (well sourced0 and logic not something that can just be assumed.

    Your second is arguably correct but misleading. The purge fell vary heavily on the higher ranking officers and while some did return they weren't on the front lines in the first few days or even weeks. Furthermore while it may have been "a lot" it wasn't even a majority by any means. Some do exaggerate the influence of the purge but then some down play it as well.

    Not sure what point you are trying to make with your third paragraph/sentence.
     
  16. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    Another of Stalin's extremely incompetent, ignorant stooges, who opposed Tukhachevski was Kulik. Stalin ordered his wife's execution and promoted him to marshal in 1940 and put him in charge of artillery development (despite dismal performance leading artillery during the initial stage of the winter war and throughout his career). The moron ordered an inferior gun mounted on the T-34 & KV-1. Fortunately, the factory manager disobeyed him and risked his life to mount the excellent F-34, 76 mm HV gun on the T-34. The dumber the person, the faster he rose to power, the smarter the person, the more likely he was to die, be imprisonned or sent ro a remote post to stagnate..
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    On 29 July, Zhukov advised STAVKA that the Wehrmacht would likely resume it's offensive on Moscow but only after liquidating the threat posed to the central front from Southwest. The central front was to be reinforced so it could protect Kirponos north flank while Kirponos withdrew his forces from the Kiev back to the Dnepr. Zhukov clearly saw what was unfolding. Stalin turned him down not appreciating the threat to Kiev. Considering the proposal blasphemous Stalin replaced Zhukov as Chief of Staff with Saposhnikov on 30 July. It quickly became apparent to both Saposhnikov and his deputy Vasilievsky the threat posed to the South Western front. Both immediately pleaded with Stalin to do as Zhukov wanted and withdraw across the Dnepr as soon as possible. Stalin again rejected the idea thinking the attack would come straight at Moscow.

    -Glantz

    As for Zhukov, he single handedly rewrote Soviet Unions' military doctrine in October of 41'. From now on all infantry attacks were to be supported by artillery and/or close air support while the tanks would strike the flanks. Guderian himself first experienced this at Smolensk(?). He wasted no time, "they are learning" he wrote.

    Zhukov also was responsible for the defense of Leningrad and Moscow along with countless battles. Not bad for an up start ;)

    Everything I have come across over the years have all claimed that Zhukovs men were the best trained and sustained fewer casualties then the rest. In Berlin for example his men took the more difficult path and not only managed to beat Konev to the punch but also sustained less casualties.


    Interesting you should mention Heinrici. It was he who assessed the reasons Barbarossa failed even prior to the Red Army's Moscow counteroffensive. logistics, geography and climate were a the bottom numbering 5,6 and 7.

    I must also ask as to where you got the idea that more Germans died from the cold rather than the Red Army?

    Army Group North may very well have been the weaker off the 3, however; Army Group North was besieging Leningrad. Anyone remotely familiar with the catastrophe that struck Leningrad would know that any breakout attempt would prove futile.

    The Red Army was a very different monster in 44' in comparison to 41'.
     
  18. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    The idea that Soviet troops and aviators were a bunch of useless, ignorant morons during the winter months and Barbarossa, which Timoshenko, Zhukov, etc, brilliantly managed to use to defeat the Germans during Typhoon and that Soviet equipment was inferior is a far cry from the truth. Under the few talented officers, Soviet troops often fought extremely well, in some cases better than British or French troops and Soviet equipment, especially artillery (76 mm guns, Katyushas, medium and heavy guns), medium and heavy tanks, twin engine bombers, heavy machine guns, high capacity sub machine guns, etc, were formidable and very abundant.
    The average soldier or aviator in Barbarossa was better edcated than the troops from central Russia, the Urals, Siberia and esternmost Russia which did better after many of the completely absurd tactics were improved slightly.
    A very large number of bombers were destroyed because they attacked repeatedly in the same formations and from the same direction, so AAA and fighters had a ball. Fighters also used absurd tactics for months.
    Millions of men were killed or captured because Stalin, Shapshnikov, Budyonny, Timoshenko, Zhukov, Koniev, etc, placed them in the worst possible situations, prevented them from retreating and forced them to attack when they simply could not and in the worst possible ways.
    AT guns were spread far appart and then were not allowed to move, so that if a Panzerkeil destroyed a few of them, it created a large openning to attack the rest from behind.
    Tuchachevsky or any other competent leader would never have had more tanks than trucks in a mechanized division in June 1941, which denotes insane logistics and tactics and complete ignorance of the basics of armor deployment.

    The complete disregard for life characteristic of most high senior Soviet generals and field marshals, wasted the few men who had just acquired a little experience in absurd frontal counter attacks or defending areas of little value without skillful maneuvering. The extremely poor logistics (often despite abundant munitions, etc, dumps were placed or defended poorly and few trains which were not destroyed en route were more busy rushing human cannon fodder to the area than shells for the guns which were supposed to cover them, so theese often were often low or ran out of shells. Generals often exacerbated this by wasting large amounts of shells in predictable preliminary barrages before an attack, which did little damage, because the Germans knew about how many mintes and shells would precede each attack and simply pulled back and retook their position before the attack and this hapened all the way to Berlin! wasting millions of shells) meant that tens of thousands of tanks, guns, mortars, planes, etc, and millions of men were completely useless.
    Not only Tukhachevsky et al, had Stalin not murdered or kept locked the thousands of Polish officers, whom he captured, they would have worked wonders with the formidable available materiel and men in Barbarossa. Rokossovsky would also have done much better, had he been at the top and not pestered by Stalin.

    Instead of allowing Kirponos to avoid encirclement and save a large, well equipped army by withdrawing, they sent many more divisions to their doom in Kiev. Axis losses in Stalingrad were minor compared to Bryasnk-Minsk-Smolensk, Kiev, Stalingrad, Rzhev, Kursk, etc,

    Among the most patent feats of Soviet incompetence was Kurochkin's inability to reduce the weak pocket of Demyansk for 4 months and to allow a breakthorugh, despite having 400,000 men.(more than half of whom became casualties). The inability to reduce the minute pocket in Kholm is also fascinating.
     
  19. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    The above is factually incorrect. The disastrous defeats at Kiev and Bryansk were a direct result of Stalin meddling in. EVERY general saw the danger and pleaded with him to allow a withdrawal. Zhukov was demoted for the request and both Timoshenko and Vasilievsky were turned away as well. The only person responsible for the catastrophic loss of as many as 6 armies was Stalin. In 1941 even Zhukov couldn't fart without Stalins approval let alone launch his own offensive.

    Again the notion that Soviet generals blindly three soldier into harms way relying on numbers is incorrect. This was reinforced by the Soviet archives which opened to public after the collapse of the Soviet Union.



    During the opening months of Barbarosso the Red Army was in complete disarray. Panick was everywhere with no leadership or in many cases even ammunition. Please remember that when Hitler invaded, Stalin forbid anyone from returning fire (thinking provocation). For the first 2 hours the German enjoyed what seems to be an easy victory. Stavkas priority was to slow/dull the German advance in order to regroup and build up fortification. The Soviets did the best they could with what they had. The intended effect worked.

    Again the Generals could only do what Stalin wanted or faced retribution. Only as the war went on did Stalin realize that perhaps he should give his generals more freedom. With the commissars gone the Soviet generals worked wonders.
     
  20. mjölnir

    mjölnir New Member

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    stavka,
    Watch the excellent Russian documentary Soviet Storm-Rzhev and the documentary Death Trap in WW II, both available in Youtube.
    The fist one clearly shows the absurdity of sending wave after wave of men to attack frontally German machine guns in bunkers. It also mentions that despite colossal Soviet forces and shocking losses involved in Rzhev, it was downplayed as a secondary operation, which succeded in keeping forces away from Stalingrad, which was presented as the main operation.

    The second one includes testimony from Soviet soldiers, one of whom says "we hated the generals, we called Stalin he Btcher, because that it was he was,..."

    Although Zhukov repeatedly failed in Rzhev, wasting hundreds of thousands of men and dedicated little time to Stalingrad, his roll in the victory of Stalingrad was exagerated and his role in the disaster in Rzhev was covered up for decades. A historian trying to point out this mistake would be prosecuted by a Soviet law which declared it a crime to distort Soviet history (itself the mother of all distortions).
     

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