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"Over the Abyss" by COL I.G. Starinov

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by JeffinMNUSA, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    A fascinating insider's view of Soviet development of behind enemy lines warfare in WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII. It is interesting that the USSR had an impressive insurgent army in place in the 30s-that the author claims could have stopped any invader at Minsk- that was utterly destroyed in Stalin's purges, the author being one of the few survivors. The USSR was woefully unprepared to wage behind the lines warfare at the time of Barbarossa, and the insurgency had to be built from scratch. It is significant how the author brought Spanish exiles into the building process, but not surprising as they were some of the few people left with any experience of guerrilla war. Starinov seems oblivious to the fact that the Partisan Movement was a spontaneous event that blew up in response to NAZI atrocities and seems genuinely baffled by Mehklis's "leave them to figure it out themselves" attitude. Perhaps Mehklis did have a point-that the Soviet Partisan Movement was doing fine by it's own-but they really DID need some help from Moscow with explosives, comm, automatic weapons, medicine and etc to really put a hurt on enemy comm, and supply. Nearly a year after the initial invasion the USSR got serious about using the enraged citizens in the rear to use-and what a job they did! http://www.amazon.com/Over-Abyss-Ilya-Grigo-Starinov/dp/0804109524
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I find it highly doubtful that a partisan army could've stopped an invader at Minsk.
     
  3. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    IF Starinov's phantom army would have not been exterminated, NAZI would have had a much harder time of keeping their supply lines open. Would have they been "stopped at Minsk" or not is a matter of historical conjecture, but keep in mind that railroads are the main arteries of supply in Russia and if rail supply could have actually been stopped history would read much different. As it actually happened NAZI rail supply was attenuated by the Red Partisan movement, but never seriously compromised until the time of Operation Bagration. Starinov's contention that one man with an explosive device placed in the right place can wreak more havoc than a fleet of bombers remains true unto this day. Where was that "right place"? Well from Starinov's experiences in the Spanish Civil War that would be "under rolling railroad stock."
     
  4. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The Germans constructed 14,000 miles of German-gauge railways and repaired 10.000 additional miles for use by their armed forces in Barbarossa.

    The lesson appears to be that the Germans, who launched Barbarossa to defeat the Soviets by a series of successful great, opening battles, had constructed a logistical system adequate to support the planned military operations. Further, these actually proved to be ahead of schedule at several crucial junctures in June and July 1941.

    The city of Minsk was bombed on the first day of the invasion and came under Wehrmacht control four days later.

    To propose that the entire Wehrmacht would be halted within the first week, because of a few well placed IED, vastly underestimates the preparations and capabilities of the Wehrmacht in June 1941.
     
  5. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    I think Starinov's Minsk assertion was in terms of 1933 and with the pre purge conventional Red Army in place. By 1941 the RKKA as a whole was "a giant with feet of clay" to quote Glantz. Moreover, No army in the world at the time of Barbarossa was ready for Blitzkreig warfare-which was predicated on an driving into the enemy rear...most ungentlemanly!
     
  6. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I think Starinov is underestimating the Wehrmacht. Minsk was just too close to the (former) border, for there to be any substantial partisan effect on supplies. The area surrounding Minsk is amazingly flat and open, with the Dnieper being the only real hindrance. Where is the partisan army going to hide?

    Considering that the USSR elected to move the Red Army forward into Eastern Poland and the Baltic States in 1939, that the border area had little to no westwards Railway connectivity, and there was almost no grassroots support for the Soviets in these areas, I'm still not seeing how Starinov is going to halt the Wehrmacht so suddenly in 1941. Its like claiming if Saddam hadn't repeatedly purged the Iraqi leadership, and fought a war with Iran, Iraqi irregulars would've stopped the Coalition at Basra (in either war)... It just doesn't ring true to me.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    It is possible that Starinov is overstating his case-but then again Glantz estimates that any pre purge invasion would have been met and quickly repulsed. It is pure speculation to wonder what might have happened had Staronov's saboteurs not been shot as traitors-but for certain the Wehrmacht would have had a harder time securing their supply lines that fatal year of 1941.
     
  8. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Or you could argue the opposite; that the Soviet regime would've collapsed faster, without the purges.

    This goes back to the shcism of the “Big Push” for heavy industry coming from Preobrazhensky and the support of “balanced” growth between agriculture and heavy industry coming from Bukharin.

    Stalin went for the Big Push, forced collectivisation on the farms, and legitimised the use of brutal methods to achieve the aims of the state, which were amazingly accepted by many as necessary. Forced collectivisation, pushed peasants into the cities, and the Russian urban population exploded, which fed into the development of the Heavy industry.

    WIth hindsight we could state that the "balanced" growth idea from Bukharin would've been too slow in achieving the required changes of Russian Soviet society to defend against the Nazi threat (which wasn't really a threat in 1929, when this was being discussed)

    Information about the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 was suppressed by the Soviet authorities until perestroika.
    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/aa2feign.html

    John Scott, was an American working in the city and factories at Magnitogorsk in the early thirties, he has this to say of his coworkers in his book Behind the Urals. One man complains about the lack of food, then reverses course saying “But then – if we are going to build blast furnaces we have to eat less for awhile”. Shabkov, a kulak, describes how his family’s property was arbitrarily taken and his brother murdered, only to conclude: “But then, after all, look at what we’re doing. In a few years now we’ll be ahead of everybody industrially. We’ll all have automobiles and there won’t be any differentiation between kulaks and anybody else”. They all seem to share an acceptance of deprivation today in exchange for the utopia of tomorrow.

    Having tackled the rest of society, modernising the state, urbanising the populace, effectivising the farming, with the most forceful methods, why would the Red Army remain untouched? The line of civility was long gone. With the widespread brutality, there were of course assassination/murder attempts on many leaders in the USSR. Stalin wanted to remove any remaining hope for Trotsky/Zinoniev sympathisers. The murder of Kirov was just an excuse. Men like Yagoda, Yezhov, and Beria are always available to despicable regimes. With Stalin in power, the purges were always going to happen, and it was always going to a bloody affair.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Without the purges there's also the chance that someone with enough power, will, and nerve would be left who would try to take Stalin out. The ramifications of this could be all over the place but most wouldn't be good for the Communist some might actually be beneficial for the people of the USSR and possibly eastern Europe.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The best chance Hitler had of implementing his "Eastern dream" was for the central communist government to collapse leaving smaller non coordinated nation states to face the Germans one at a time, without the purges this scenario is more likely. The choice between Stalin's brutal and ruthless rationalism and Hitler's racist romanticism is a bad one, but Stalin didn't want to exterminate/enslave the population of Easter Europe, Hitler did, so not that sure the purges did not improve the lot of the USSR. Of course the above is pure Macchiavelli, another guy humanity could have done without.

    I would side with the opinion that no amount of "stay behind" or irregular forces was likely to stop the Germans before Minsk, fresh German troops with full supply in 1941 were very hard to stop in any kind of manouver battle, only against very strong static positions, such as Brest Litovsk, or after outrunning their logistics tails were the Germans likely to fail against an opponent that had not learned to counter their tactical flexibility.
     

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