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Tukhashevsky and the purges?

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#1 Miro



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Posted 10 May 2001 - 01:40 PM

What if Stalin and his cronies had not executed such a vast amount of Red Army generals in 1939, including Tukhashevsky, the main voice calling for large armoured formations, and a master of the doctrine involving mass firepower and mass mobility?
Could a reformed Red Army withan unscathed and experienced officer corps (experience from the Russian civil war) have checked the Wehrmacht at its height? Or would the Soviets still have been pushed back?
One has to note that the Red Army's main deficiency in 1941 was not the lack of weaponry, or the training of its troops, but the inexperience and/or stupidity of its commanders. Either they were brand new and inexperienced or, like Budenny, Voroshilov, they were Stalins old cronies and extremely backward thinking in tacticcs and doctrine.

Any comments or ideas?


"It is almost axiomatic, that such a powerful force as the tank corpsis a far-fetched idea and we should therefore have nothing to do with it." Voroshilov 1934, from J. Keegan "The Second World War" pg.176

#2 PzJgr


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Posted 10 May 2001 - 11:08 PM

I would think they would have given the Wehrmacht a harder time but would have used obsolesent tactics. If you look at all of the countries involved, they came in with older men as commanders and ended with younger men commanding. One thing I do give credit to the Soviets, they did have a huge armoured corps. If they did use them like the Germans did, whew what a battle.


#3 alath



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Posted 25 July 2001 - 11:02 PM

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by PzJgr:
I would think they would have given the Wehrmacht a harder time but would have used obsolesent tactics. If you look at all of the countries involved, they came in with older men as commanders and ended with younger men commanding.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Tukachevsky was no old man. I don't know his birth date, but going by the photos I have seen, he couldn't have been any older than Guderian, probably closer to Rommel's age.

Nor was Tukachevsky an advocate of obsolete tactics. He was Russia's Guderian, a strong advocate of mobile combined-arms deep-penetration offensive warfare.

Moreover, he was in a much higher position than Guderian to get his ideas implemented and for a while, his ideas were the official handbook for the Red Army. It was under Tukachevsky's watch that the Red Army armoured units grew so big, and the T-34 was developed and ordered, only to have the armoured formations broken up and the assets distributed to infantry formations later on by Stalin's dictates.

Stalin's purge eliminated 40,000 Red Army officers and the true cost was even greater than that because it was the most brilliant, most innovative, most independent-minded commanders Beria went after. For some years, anyone in the Red Army who advocated modern tactics was subject to the accusation of "Tukachevsyism," with the Stalinist consequences you can imagine. Anyone who embraced modern tactics was shot, and anyone who was wavering changed their mind, real quick.

Zhukov was well on his way to the firing squad, precisely because of his 'Tukachevskyism,' when he was reassigned to the Far East against the Japanese. Rokossovsky was actually interrogated and tortured by the NKVD, and sent to Siberia, only to be recalled when Stalin finally realized that just maybe it might be a good idea to have some real soldiers out there.

Another brilliant guy who got sent to the labor camps was Sergei Korilev, the rocket engineer. In 1936, he was flying prototypes of rockets that would have put Von Braun and his V-2 to shame. He even demonstrated a jet-powered fighter aircraft over Red Square, but then, sadly for Korilev, Stalin didn't like innovators going 'over his head.'

Korilev didn't get out of Siberia until well after the war, when Stalin gave him a captured V-2 and told him to gear up production of V-2 copies. Korilev replied he could fart a better rocket than the V-2 in his sleep, but Stalin insisted on an exact V-2 duplicate. Despite this immense waste of his time, and the utterly miserable resources Stalin allowed him (among his other job titles, Korilev was Chief Gardener because Stalin made no provision to feed Korilev's team and they had to grow their own food), Korilev was able in just a few years to produce the same rocket that put Sputnik and Gagarin in space.

This is just one example of Stalin's persecution of Russia's 'best and brightest.' Imagine this kind of effect, throughout an entire country. Plus the chilling effect it would have on anyone else who happened to come up with a good idea. The Russians weren't stupid, they were just a population subject to Stalinist reverse-Darwinism: all the smartest and fittest got sent to Siberia or got shot.

Just imagine the status of the Wehrmacht, if Hitler had suddenly decided to have not only Guderian, Rommel, and Manstein shot, but also gone after all of their like-minded subordinates all the way down the chain of command. Not only that, but then gone on deliberately to replace all the professional soldiers with incompetent reactionary KPCC hacks who were 'politically reliable' and could be counted on to toe the party line, even against all military reason.

Sickle Stroke never would have happened, and Hitler would have found himself in a repeat of static WWI warfare, with Goebbels in charge of Army Group B and Himmler in charge of Army Group A, and it would have resulted in a repeat of WWI at best.

If Hitler did to the Wehrmacht what Stalin did to the Red Army, there never would have been a Barbarossa because he never would have gotten past France in the first place. Hell, he'd have had a heck of a time with Poland if he'd done what Stalin did to his army and his country.

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