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Chapter 8.

Strategy And Tactics: A Reevaluation

Blitzkrieg Versus Protracted War

Given the strategic plan for the defense of the Soviet Union and given the faulty strategy and tactics of the Germans, it was impossible for the Wehrmacht to win the war in Russia in a campaign of only one season. Germany could have won a strategic victory over the Soviet Union in 1941, however, by concentrating on gains in the south of the country, in the Ukraine and in the Caucasus, and by forgoing an assault on Moscow in the fall of the year. Whether or not Germany could have won the war in 1942 is problematical. Certainly the task would have been very difficult, but after the collapse of Operation Typhoon in December 1941, the Reich had little hope of achieving a final victory. It is true that the Wehrmacht did not lose the tactical initiative until after the battle of Kursk in July 1943, but the strategic initiative had been lost since the end of the summer campaign in 1941.The German army could have retained I the advantage gained by the destruction of the Southwestern Front in September 1941 only by continuing to pursue its successes in the south. To reach for Moscow in the fall of the year amounted to nothing less than suicide for Stalin had done all he could to transform the capital of Hie Soviet Union into an unconquerable fortress. [286]

A consistent strategy could have saved the Wehrmacht from disaster in 1941. By holding fast to the Dnepr line, or by moving no farther east than Orel on the Oka River, Briansk on the Desna, Viazma between the Dnepr and Ugra rivers, and Rzhev on the Volga, Army Group Center could have been spared the hammer blows that struck its flanks in early December. But in view of the command structure of the German army, no consistent plans could have been made. From the planning stage of Barbarossa through the decision to undertake Operation Typhoon in early September, the German high command was plagued by divisiveness and intrigue. It was crippled by its own inability to act in a cohesive fashion. Not only did organizations such as the OKW and OKH strive to achieve autonomy in the planning and conduct of the eastern campaign, but individuals such as Goring and Guderian also played decisive roles.

In spite of having made movements to and fro of six hundred kilometers and four hundred kilometers respectively. Panzer Groups 2 and 3 on September 11 were assigned objectives for a renewed push in the direction of Moscow{1}. This time Army Group Center was bolstered by the addition of Panzer Group 4 from Army Group North. At the beginning of October the strength of Army Group Center, including these additional forces, amounted to 1,929,406 men and 1,217 tanks. The Luftwaffe, however, was able to operate less than seven hundred aircraft in the Army Group Center area during Typhoon{2}. By order of Army Group Center on September 26, Panzer Group 4 was subordinated to the Fourth Army command and was given the mission of wheeling around Viazma from the south, from the direction of RoslavI. The beginning phase of Operation Typhoon went well enough, with Guderian's force launching its attack on September 30 and rapidly taking Orel and closing the Briansk pocket with the help of the Second Army. The rest of Army Group Center began its assault on October 2 with Panzer Group 3 from the north and Panzer Group 4 from the south closing an armored ring around Viazma. The Viazma operation was a particular success because there the encirclement took place only 100 kilometers east of Yartsevo and 170 kilometers from Roslavl-in other words, close enough to the starting point of the offensive for the infantry to move in rapidly and help the armored units seal off the pocket (see Figure 43){3}. [287] [Fig.43] [288]

In such a manner the battles along the Dnepr, which had lasted from mid-July to late September, were brought to a close. But even after the great victories of Briansk and Viazma, the panzer generals charged with opening a way to Moscow found little to be happy about. Guderian went so far as to say that after the initial success of Typhoon his superiors at the OKH and at the headquarters of Army Group Center "were drunk with the scent of victory." Even before the end of the Briansk-Viazma operations Brauchitsch was confident enough to comment: "Now the enemy has no noteworthy reserves remaining around Moscow. We can, however, expect him to try to build defense lines in and to the west of the city." The army commander in chief went on to describe the advance of the central part of Army Group Center toward Moscow as a "pursuit."

An aura of mystery still hangs over Guderian's thoughts about the resumption of the Moscow offensive in the fall of 1941. In his memoirs, the panzer general gives the impression that he had some doubts about whether such an operation would succeed, yet materials contained in his panzer group's war records show that he was in favor of it{4}. It is generally believed that Hitler alone was responsible for the decision to turn again to Moscow after the battle of Kiev, a decision that probably crippled for all time any chance the Germans might have had for winning the war in the east, but as the previous chapters have shown this was not the case. Hitler was not strong-minded enough to chart a correct course arid hold to it{5}.

The final choice about the deployment and use of the strategic reserve was made by Stalin in the face of intense pressures placed on him by his most trusted commanders{6}. Whether or not the risk the Soviet dictator took in postponing full mobilization until after the war began was justified is a question that still can be debated, as can Stalin's plan to wait until the enemy approached the gates of Moscow before committing the reserves to an all-out counter-offensive. Had the reserves been sent to the Southwestern Front in the fall as Zhukov and Budenny had wished, the defense of Moscow in December would have been seriously jeopardized, if not made impossible{7}. It appears at first glance that Stalin was right and Zhukov was wrong about the reserves, but the issue is too complex to permit a simple resolution.

Zhukov believed that Kiev was to be the stepping stone for a continued German offensive in the south toward the Donbas and [289] the Caucasus. It did not seem plausible to him that Army Group Center would resume the advance on Moscow in late September and that Guderian would attempt to drive on the capital from the south through Orel and Tula. Soon after Guderian reached Orel on October 3, the first snow began to fall and the panzer general himself knew in the marrow of his bones that his troops would never mount a guard on the Kremlin parapets. After Orel, Guderian had only one thought-shift the blame to someone else, accuse the high command of being drunk with the scent of victory. Recall, if you will, the statements that Guderian made to Hitler on August 4 at the meeting in Roslavl. The panzer general told the fuhrer that the Soviets were scraping up their last proletarian levies and had no remaining reserves. Recall, too, how on August 23 Guderian told Hitler and the OKW staff that Kiev could be taken only if his panzer group were not split up or otherwise reduced in strength. At this meeting he also stressed the significance of troop morale and the necessity for making Moscow the near objective of the crusade. It was this intangible foundation so cleverly laid by Guderian that provided the support for Jodi and Goring to press their cause, the Moscow project, with Hitler in September. Guderian was right about the intoxication of the high command after Briansk-Viazma, but it was he who had uncorked this bottle of heady wine and served it to his superiors.

Stalin's strategy of massing the reserves around Moscow while ignoring the encirclement of the Southwestern Front until it was too late should have led to the defeat of the Red Army in the spring , campaign of 1942. That it did not was the fault of the German command system. By renewing the assault on Moscow in October, too late in the year for the attempt to succeed given the Russian defense posture. Hitler and the German high command handed away any chance for a victory. Three and a half more years of war confirmed the results of the Soviet Moscow counteroffensive that were visible in the snows soaked with German blood around Kalinin and Rzhev. Stalin's success in saving Russia from an overwhelming disaster in 1942 was due much more to the ineptness of the Germans than to his own genius.

Questions also remain regarding the effectiveness of a strategy that allowed entire fronts to be encircled by the German panzers without permitting a retreat. In the case of the encirclements at Smolensk and Roslavl, no timely retreat was possible, but this [290] was not true at Bialystok-Minsk or at Kiev. It was Zhukov's intentions to allow vast forces to be surrounded by the German panzer groups, thus forcing the enemy to spend time and material the reduction of the large pockets of trapped Red Army units. Zhukov ,and Timoshenko did not disagree with Stalin about the necessity of sacrificing the three armies in the Bialystok salient, but Kiev was a different matter. Not only were the forces deployed there much larger than at Bialystok, but Stalin went so far as to refuse to order an all-out attack by the Briansk Front on Guderian's eastern flank in late August and early September, preferring instead to conserve the forces of the front in order to blunt a later advance by Army Group Center directly on Moscow. This plan was too much ,for first Zhukov and then Timoshenko to accept, and so they temporarily parted with their chief over this issue. The German high command, however, set things right for Stalin in Operation Typhoon.

On October 10, Zhukov was named commander of the Western Front, replacing I. S. Konev, who was sent to head the newly formed Kalinin Front{8}. It is evident from Zhukov's postwar statements that after the resumption of the German offensive against Moscow, his faith in Stalin had been somewhat restored. Despite Zhukov's reluctance to submit to Stalin's plan to sacrifice the Southwestern Front, the Soviet dictator had a high respect for his abilities, and he would now call upon him to save Russia in its hour of greatest need.

By the time Zhukov arrived to take charge of his new command, parts of five armies of the Western and Reserve fronts had already been surrounded at Viazma{9}. The twin battles of encirclement at Briansk-Viazma have been described by German historians as great successes brought about by the passivity of the Russian leadership and by the Russian inability to understand the new principles of armored warfare-Why else would the Red Army attempt to ward off powerful German tank thrusts by relying on the kind of static-front tactics utilized during the First World War?{10} Yet there is another possible interpretation. In the words of Zhukov:

The most important thing for us in the middle of October was to win time in order to prepare our defense. If the operations of parts of the Nineteenth, Sixteenth, Twentieth, and Thirty-second armies and the Boldin Group [a force made up of three tank brigades and [291] one tank division] encircled west of Viazma are assessed from that point of view, these units must be given credit for their heroic struggle. Although they were cut off in the enemy's rear, they did not surrender. They continued to fight valiantly, attempting to break through to rejoin the main force of the Red Army and thus held down large enemy formations that would otherwise have pursued the drive toward Moscow{11}.

And again:

In the beginning of October the enemy was able to achieve his first objective, taking advantage of his superior manpower and equipment and of errors made by commands of Soviet fronts. But his ^ ultimate strategic objective, the seizure of Moscow, failed because the main forces of the enemy were held down by the Soviet troops surrounded in the Viazma area. The limited forces thrown in by the enemy against the Mozhaisk line with the aim of breaking through to Moscow succeeded in pushing the Soviet troops back to a line running through Volokolamsk, Dorokhovo, the Protva River, the Nara River, Aleksin, and Tula. They were not able to break through{12}.

The "errors" referred to by Zhukov probably are an indirect criticism of Stalin and Budenny. Some Soviet historians have charged that at the beginning of October the Supreme Command and Budenny had positioned the Reserve Front too close to the rear of the Western Front to allow a true defense in depth or adequate freedom of maneuver for the Western Front. Zhukov's comment about German manpower being superior should be taken to mean superior only on narrow sectors of the front where the German offensive strength was the greatest{13}.

The battles of Briansk and Viazma were fought by the Russian command on the same principles used in the battles of Bialystok-Minsk and Kiev. In 1941, the Red Army lacked the capability of rapid maneuver by its large formations, and it was impossible for Stalin and his generals seriously to entertain the idea of ordering sudden retreats for entire army fronts (although at one point in September Zhukov was prepared to risk the withdrawal eastward of the whole Southwestern Front in order to save it from being cut off). It should be pointed out, however, that the real disagreement between Stalin and Zhukov here concerned the likelihood of a future thrust against Moscow in the fall. Had the Germans failed [292] to live up to Stalin's expectations, had they denied themselves the temptation of Moscow, then Zhukov and Timoshenko would have been proven right. For his part, Zhukov had no qualms about exacting enormous sacrifices from the men under his command if the situation so demanded. This point was proven not only at Bialystok-Minsk and Briansk-Viazma, but also in battles later in the war against Army Group Center in White Russia and Poland. Other generals in history, such as Grant and Nivelle, also had a reputation for producing long casualty lists. In some cases such tactics have been the height of folly (Nivelle), but Grant and Zhukov were winners, however terrible the price. Current Soviet literature on their military history purposely avoids an examination of such problems, not only because many would question the use of such strategy in the past, but because it may have to be used again in the future. Former Marshal I. S. Konev has written the following words about the battle of Viazma:

Finally, the battle assumed the form of an encirclement. If one is forced to fight such a battle, it is important not to panic but to continue the combat, even in difficult circumstances. In the fortunes of war such situations are always possible and should not be excluded from contemporary military practice{14}.

In the end, more than anything else, the misguided racial prejudices of Nazi ideology toward the Soviet peoples, the minorities as well as the Slavs, dug the grave for the Wehrmacht. Without mass surrender, the blitzkrieg tactics could not succeed in Russia. The German policy toward Russian prisoners did not favor mass surrender for trapped Red Army units. The Prisoner of War Department of the OKW (Abteilung Kriegsgefangenenwesen) issued a report in May 1944 that.put the total number of Soviet captured at 5,165,381. Of these, two million deaths were placed under the heading "wastage" whereas another 280,000 were recorded as having died or disappeared in transit camps (Dulags). The number 1,030,157 was given for the total of Soviet prisoners who were either shot while trying to escape or handed over to Himmler's SD for liquidation in special camps. If these figures are extrapolated, it is possible that 5.7 million Soviet prisoners had been captured by the Germans by the end of the war in May 1945. The final count of surviving prisoners is usually approximated at one million. When this number of survivors is added to the number of Russians estimated [293] to be serving with or aiding the Wehrmacht as volunteers (Hiwis) or in the Vlasov all-Russian units, together a total of about eight hundred thousand or one million, it can be estimated that about 3.7 million Soviet prisoners simply vanished from the face of the earth{15}. The battle of Kiev required nearly a month to bring to a conclusion; the battles of Briansk-Viazma lasted almost three weeks. These delays in the German advance eastward, coupled with the delays already experienced along the Dnepr and in the Bialystok salient, proved fatal for Germany's hopes, although the Wehrmacht could have been spared ruin in 1941 had its leadership been wiser, more consistent, and less divided than it was.

The time gained by the Red Army in the great battles of encirclement and annihilation that took place during the first four months of the war was used by the Russian command to transform Moscow into a strongly fortified area{16}. Most importantly, time was gained for the mobilization and deployment of the strategic reserve along what would become the northern and southern flanks of Army Group Center as the Germans continued their advance toward Moscow. As has been seen, a considerable portion of the strategic reserve had already been sent to the various fronts, mainly the Western Front, to bolster the forces along the Dnepr, but important elements of the reserves were held back to play a decisive role in December as the Wehrmacht neared the capital.

At the end of November, the Twentieth and First shock armies of the strategic reserve were moved into the Moscow region to join the newly formed Twenty-fourth, Twenty-sixth, and Sixtieth armies{16a}. In addition, the Tenth Army had been concentrated south of Riazan, and the Sixty-first Army had been deployed around Riazhsk and Ranenburg{17}. From the first to the fifteenth of November 1941, the Western Front received one hundred thousand men and officers, three hundred tanks and two thousand guns from the strategic reserve{18}. During the next month, November 15 to December 15, the Moscow Zone of Defense (MZO) was able to send two hundred thousand fully equipped troops to the Western and Kalinin fronts as well as to the remnants of the Southwestern [294] Front defending the line Belopole-Lebedin-Novomoskovsk. From mid-November on, Artemev's Moscow Zone of Defense was in actual charge of the deployment of the strategic reserve{19}. Some of the units that Artemev had at his disposal for use around Moscow, at least three rifle and two tank divisions, came from the Far East, thanks to the timely advice sent from Tokyo by Richard Sorge, a master spy who correctly notified the Kremlin on September 14 that the Japanese would make no move against the Soviet Union. In the main, the First Shock Army, which was to play a key role in the Moscow counteroffensive, was made up of men from Siberia, the Urals, and also the Gorki and Moscow regions. It is difficult to say with certainty when the transference of forces from Siberia to the west began, but it is known that this movement had started by mid-June 1941-that is, before the start of the war{20}.

The size of the strategic reserve forces concentrated around Moscow on the flanks of Army Group Center by early December spelled disaster for the Wehrmacht. Not only had the Red Army been able to send seven new armies to the Western Front for the Moscow counteroffensive, but several other armies received substantial reinforcements. Altogether, the Russian forces gathered around Moscow numbered 1.1 million men, 7,652 guns and mortars, 774 tanks (including 222 T-34s and KVs), and 1,000 aircraft{21}. It was Zhukov's goal to use these forces to drive the enemy all the way back to Staraia Russa-Velikie Luki-Vitebsk-Smolensk-Briansk and, if possible, to encircle the Germans in the areas of Rzhev, Viazma, and Smolensk{22}. The main weight of the counteroffensive was to fall north of Moscow, where the Russians were able to achieve an overall numerical superiority. In some areas, such as on the southern wing of Konev's Kalinin Front, their edge rose to 50 percent- more than enough to nullify the superiority in tanks and aircraft of Panzer Group 3 and the Ninth Army{23}. South of Moscow, Panzer Group 2 and the Second Army also were to face an enemy stronger than they were in manpower, although here the difference was not so decisive (see Figure 44){24}.

By the time Army Group Center neared Moscow, the Red Army was prepared to deliver devastating blows to both the northern and southern flanks of von Bock's hapless force. The shocks that compelled Army Group Center to reel backward after December 6 might have succeeded to an even greater extent than they actually did had Stalin followed Zhukov's advice. It had been [295] [Fig.44] [296] Zhukov's original intention to launch two minor counteroffensives in mid-November against Army Groups North and South, one at Tikhvin and the other at Rostov, in order to prevent Army Group Center from calling for help from its neighbors after the main action got under way around Moscow. It should be noted here that although Zhukov had command over only the Western Front, his position on the Supreme Command staff permitted him to voice opinions about the situation in other areas as well{25}. Stalin, agreeing with this idea in principle, wanted to make the counteroffensives against Army Groups North and South considerably stronger than Zhukov desired (see Figure 45){26}. In this way, the counterattack around Moscow was weakened and the maximum results not achieved. By the end of January 1942, Army Group Center had managed to stabilize its front along the line Rzhev-west of the Staritsa-Iukhnov-Suchinitsi-Belev-Chern, points much farther east than Zhukov had planned (see Figure 46){27}. Had Stalin followed his recommendations, the setback of Army Group Center might have turned into something more significant, but the opportunity was lost. Stalin may have been fortunate in sticking by his guns and refusing to accept Zhukov's dire warnings in September, but he should have listened to him more carefully in November -although even if Zhukov's plan had been carried out the war would still have been far from over.

Nevertheless, the Wehrmacht had suffered serious losses. Armough the Germans would retain the tactical initiative in the south until the time of the battle of Kursk in July 1943, never again after Kiev and the commencement of Operation Typhoon would they regain the strategic advantage. The losses incurred by Army Group Center during Operation Typhoon from October 1,1941, to January 31, 1942, were 369,500 men{28}. The inexorable law. A single mistake in strategy cannot be made good in the same war could not be repealed. The German high command had thrown away any chance of winning a strategic victory after the battle of Kiev, and the results of the battle of Moscow were a confirmation of this fact: the blitzkrieg had died a natural death. The German high command should have recognized this truth after the development of the struggle along the Dnepr-they should have admitted to themselves and to Hitler that the war was bound to be long and grueling-but they would not or could not make the admission. [297] [Fig.45] [298] [Fig.46] [299]

Combined-Arms As The Wave Of The Future

In regard to tactics, the experience of the first three months of the war bore out the correctness of Zhukov's decision to rely on combined-arms operations to defeat the wide-ranging encirclements of the German panzers. The physical characteristics of the USSR and the ability of the Russian people to support a mass al- j though poorly mechanized army in 1941 seemed to impose natural;

limitations on defense planning. With the exception of a brief and | faltering attempt in late 1940, after the success of the blitzkrieg in the west, the Russians after 1936 had never seriously considered utilizing armor alone in deep maneuvers of penetration. The experiences of the Red Army in Spain in 1936, at Lake Khasan and Khalkhin-Gol against the Japanese in 1938 and 1939, and in Finland in 1939-1940, were convincing proof that tanks could not play a completely independent role apart from infantry and artillery. This was especially true for an army that could put fewer of its infantry units on wheels than the Germans could. In the Red Army's projected field regulations for 1941, tanks were considered part of the complement of the rifle divisions and were thought of as vital for the support of the infantry in the breakthrough of the enemy's tactical zone of defense.

As the war progressed through its early stages, the Russians learned from their mistakes how to neutralize the German armored tactics. In the evolution of Russian antitank operations the battles of Bialystok-Minsk and Smolensk-Yelnia played an important role. The failure of Pavlov's counterattack with three mechanized corps in June, coupled with the German failure rapidly to close the Smolensk pocket in July, confirmed Zhukov in his belief that combined-arms methods would eventually carry the day. His success at Yelnia in late August and early September, a success that rested on the lavish use of artillery and infantry to support tanks in a drive against a well-prepared German position, was crucially important for the development of Russian tactics for the remainder of the war{29}. After the summer of 1941, the command of the Western Front issued instructions forbidding tank attacks without reconnaissance and a careful coordination of the assault with infantry and artillery. In a defensive role, tanks were to be used to support infantry by direct fire from ambush or dug-in positions. Tanks could be used in semi-independent counterattacks, but only [300] to protect the flanks and the seams of the rifle divisions{30}. Throughout the remainder of the war these tactics were not fundamentally changed. After the summer of 1941, when an increased number of tanks were available, some armored vehicles were attached to rifle regiments{31}.

The problems with the use of infantry support tanks (NPP) proved to be so serious that in January 1942 the Stavka issued a new set of directives, which were followed by further directives from the Defense Commissariat in October of that year. These regulations provided that tanks must support the infantry particularly along "the axis of the main blow." NPP tanks were to carry out their operations never allowing gaps of more than two hundred to four hundred meters to develop between them and the following infantry. Instead of allowing NPP tanks to be flung into battle without proper support, where they had in practice incurred heavy losses, the directives required that artillery be used to counter German tanks. Tank-to-tank battles were to be avoided unless the terrain conditions and number relationships were highly favorable. The role of the infantry was to scout for, mark, and if possible, destroy, enemy antitank mines and obstacles. After the initial phase of an assault, the infantry would then carry out the crucial mop-up operations that had often been neglected. Pockets of resistance would be closed off and annihilated, not left to be troublesome thorns in the rear of an advance. Artillery and support aviation were to coordinate their operations with the armor and infantry as closely as possible.

During the counteroffensive at Stalingrad in early 1942, these tactics were brought to a finely honed point and used with great success. There, tank regiments and brigades were integrated into the rifle division units. Since .each tank battalion had at least one artillery battery and an engineer unit, they were able to penetrate and hold positions in the depths of the German defenses. These lessons were incorporated in the Field Regulations of 1943.

However it was not until mid-1943 and the advent of self-propelled guns on the Soviet side-guns like the SU-76, the SU-122, and the superb SU-152 built on the KV tank chassis- that armored close support of infantry came into its own. The renowned German Sturmgeschutz self-propelled gun had proved its usefulness in close cooperation with infantry many times in 1941, but these guns were always in critically short supply. Late in the [301] war Soviet breakthroughs were usually accomplished with tanks and self-propelled guns being distributed to the infantry regiments. Typically, tanks and self-propelled guns would be assembled ten to fifteen kilometers behind the front a couple of days before the attack. In the predawn hours before the assault, these units would move up to their jump-off areas one to three kilometers in back of the main line. If the German resistance was expected to be heavy, the attack would take place in two or three echelons. The first wave would be composed of a battalion of T-34s or a company of KVs. The second wave would move out about two hundred to three hundred meters behind the second line of the first wave. The reserve elements, the motorized rifle battalion, would operate about the same distance in back of the second wave. The goal was to keep about twenty-five to fifty meters spacing between the tanks and self-propelled guns. In practice, however, a density of approximately thirty or forty armored vehicles was achieved per kilometer of front along the main axis of the assault. Usually, this combined-arms attack was accompanied by a rolling artillery preparation at a depth of 1.5-2.5 kilometers. In 1943, a great deal of emphasis was placed on moving forward and shifting fire after the enemy began to pull back. Later, in 1944, the techniques of advancing artillery fire and employing self-propelled guns became refined enough to earn the name "artillery offensive"{32}.

The Collapse Of German Strategic Planning

The answers to questions of German strategy and tactics are less clear and certain. In a real sense, it can be said that the Wehrmacht had no strategic guidance in 1941. Instead, die-assault on Russia was launched without a unified and coordinate plan of action for all levels of command on all sectors of the front. In June 1941, essentially two strategies were followed, one favored by Hitler and the OKW, the other by Halder and the OKH. In addition, by mid-July other strategic plans began to emerge that further clouded the situation. Halder and Jodi reached a compromise during the fourth week of August that could possibly have produced some desirable results for the Wehrmacht. However, the nature of this compromise was such that it ran afoul of the plans of Heinz Guderian who, for a variety of complicated reasons, managed to achieve almost total independence from the commands of his superior officers. Guderian's autonomy was due in part to the [302] machinations of Halder, for the chief of the general staff wished to see Guderian gain the cherished goal of Moscow as rapidly as possible, and in order to ensure the panzer general's chance of success, Halder systematically insulated Guderian from interference from above. The creation of the Fourth Panzer Army under the nominal command of von Kluge was an artificial device designed to confuse the command structure and keep Guderian closely tied to the OKH. Hitler was able to issue orders immediately to Army Group Center, but von Bock was unable to issue orders directly to Guderian. By making use of Halder's awkward command system, it was easy for the panzer general to devise delays and to "misunderstand" directives that were sent to him by Army Group headquarters. Von Bock recognized soon enough what Halder and Guderian were trying to do, and he endeavored repeatedly to regain control over Panzer Group 2, but to no avail{33}.

By the end of August the damage wrought by the fundamental contradictions in German strategic planning and the Wehrmacht command structure had come to the surface. By then Halder and von Bock had completely lost control of Guderian after the panzer general managed to gain personal influence with Hitler at the Wolfschanze conference on August 23. The fuhrer went along with Guderian's bad advice and chose not to divide Panzer Group 2 in undertaking the Kiev encirclement in September. Once this decision had been made, it was no longer possible for Moscow to be taken in 1941. Hitler decided in early September, however, that both goals, Kiev and Moscow, were attainable. The fuhrer's greatest strategic mistake of the war was the result of his simultaneous reliance on too many sources of conflicting advice.

Halder had come to realize after mid-July that Moscow could not be taken unless the situation on both the northern and the southern flanks of Army Group Center were remedied beforehand. The chief of the general staff won Jodi over to this point of view on August 7, and eventually they concluded that it was possible for both Kiev and Moscow to be taken, but only by leaving a substantial part of Panzer Group 2 in the Yelnia area instead of committing it to the Ukraine. The question of whether or not this strategy would have worked is an interesting one indeed. It seems unlikely that Army Group Center could have taken Moscow in the fall of 1941 with only one panzer corps on its southern flank. It is highly [303] likely that the Typhoon offensive would have bogged down well before reaching the area near Moscow. Probably the German high command would have chosen to halt the advance along the line Rzhev-Viazma-Briansk-Orel, thus putting Army Group Center beyond the immediate reach of Artemev's reserves massed north and south of the capital. If this had happened, Army Group Center would have been in much better shape to resume operations against Moscow in the spring of 1942 than it was in fact. This is why the Halder-JodI plan has been described as a possible salvation. It would not have worked in the way that its authors intended, but it very probably would have saved Army Group Center from catastrophe. Had the front been stabilized in November 1941 and had the Wehrmacht been able to withstand the pressures of the Russian reserves Hitler might not have been bold enough to relieve, or accept the resignations of, Brauchitsch, von Bock, von Leeb, Rundstedt, and Guderian in the next few weeks, thus tightening his grip over the army even further. Without this defeat in the winter of 1941-1942 the generals' conspiracy against Hitler and the Nazis would have had more time to succeed. Had Hitler been overthrown, improvements in the Soviet prisoner situation and in the racial policies in general no doubt would have followed, which could have changed the whole complexion of the war on the eastern front. Germany could still not have won the war, but a negotiated settlement with the West could have occurred that would have prevented a Soviet intrusion into the heart of central Europe-a historical fact that may prove to be the biggest threat to world peace, and even the greatest danger to mankind, in our current age.

Guderian's coup at the Wolfschanze was, then, a monumental turning point for Germany and possibly for the Western world. After Guderian's triumph, Halder may have been prepared to see the Moscow project go down the drain entirely in 1941, judging from his conversation with Jodi on August 31, a discussion that demonstrated Jodl's commitment to Moscow even after the debacle he and Halder had suffered on August 23. In the final analysis, it was tins commitment by Jodl, plus Goring'j, promise to neutralize Leningrad with air power, that finally swayed Hitler in the fall of 1941 to attempt the taking of Moscow. Ultimately too, Guderian's insistence on the importance of the capture of the Soviet capital for troop morale and his willingness to see the pursuit [304] of the Red Army toward Moscow continued by a drive of his panzer group from the south through Orel and Tula-a desire carefully concealed in his memoirs-had a decisive influence on Hitler{34}. Hitler did not trust Halder and the OKH, but he believed Jodl, Goring, and Guderian were men worth listening to. It was a tragedy that Halder was ensnared by such a tangled web of circumstances, but it must be said that he was responsible for creating most of these troubles for himself with his attempts to manipulate Guderian by fashioning an artificial and awkward command structure and to manipulate Jodl through the influence of his deputy, Warlimont. The final element of the equation. Goring, was not subject to Halder's will, and as no record of his private conversations with Hitler exists, the true extent of his role in the strategic blunders of 1941 must be left open to speculation, although the records of Kesselring's discussions with von Bock indicate that Goring's influence in this respect was extensive. This impression is strengthened by Hitler's references to Goring and the Luftwaffe in his answer to Halder's proposal of August 18 and in the Typhoon directive of September 6.

On the tactical level, German plans for the conduct of the war in the east in 1941 were as filled with contradictions as was the making and execution of strategy. The insoluble problems that would arise from the attempt to apply tactics designed for use in France and Poland to a country as large as the Soviet Union were apparent at the time of Paulus's study in December 1940, but neither the general staff nor any other high command organization was able to find new tactical solutions that more closely suited the realities of the campaign in the east. In his excellent study. The German Economy at War, Alan Milward points out that Germany was not an economic superpower in 1941 compared with the United States and was also economically inferior to the Soviet Union in certain key military areas. In order to overcome these economic deficiencies. Hitler and his generals were forced to rely on the blitzkrieg concept of war, one that allowed Germany to become a great military power through armament in breadth, not in depth; that is, many different kinds of weapons were produced that were tailored for specific types of warfare, but in insufficient quantities.

In 1939 and 1940, in order to defeat France, German military [305] planners concentrated on the construction of vehicles and armor. After the fall of France, in order to defeat Britain, a switch was made so that the economy could produce more equipment for the Luftwaffe and the navy. Finally, in order to defeat the Soviet Union, a decision was made to increase greatly the size of the army, resulting in a greater output of infantry arms and equipment of all sorts. In retrospect, it seems incredible that Germany was prepared to fight Russia in a life-and-death struggle with only 3,582 tanks and self-propelled guns, but such was the case. Actually, the German war economy was not fully mobilized until after Stalingrad in early 1943, but by then the war was lost{35}.

Thus, the contradictions revealed in the blitzkrieg concept of warfare were reflections of the fundamental contradictions within the German economic system. The blitzkrieg concept was a means whereby a long war could be avoided, and once a long war ensued, the economic inferiority of Germany would have an increasingly telling effect. This is not to say that the Soviet Union did not have its economic contradictions and weaknesses also, but the misguided Nazi race ideology and the harshness to which it led solidified all segments of Soviet society and strengthened the will of the ethnic minorities in the USSR as well as of the oppressed Russian peasant class to repel the invader. The blitzkrieg could triumph in a politically weakened country such as France, but Stalin's Russia was a state of quite different organization. Here blitzkrieg warfare could have worked only had the Nazi leaders been willing and able to exploit the weakest links in the Soviet system, those implicit in the nationalities problem and in the peasant sector.

Had mass surrenders of Red Army units occurred rapidly at Bialystok-Minsk, Smolensk-Yelnia, and at Kiev, blitzkrieg tactics could have produced the desired results. But mass surrenders occurred only after prolonged resistance. Communist agitators were skillfully able to use Nazi propaganda against itself and were able to stiffen the resolve of the minority peoples and the peasants to fight for Mother Russia, despite the fact that the Stalinist system had much to answer for as far as they were concerned. In order to increase the propaganda effort, hie political commissars were reintroduced into the Red Army on July 16, 1941, though the system had been abolished in 1940{36}. Nazi ideology, therefore, carried within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Even had this not [306] been so, the strategy and tactics employed by the Germans on the eastern front would have made a total defeat of the Red Army in 1941 extremely unlikely.

In describing the conditions faced by the Wehrmacht in Russia, a German historian has written:

The troops began to realize by the third day of the offensive that the war in Russia was not going to be the same as it had been in Poland and France. This was not only because the enemy soldier was proving to be tougher than expected, but also because the terrain was a greater problem. Of what use were motorized vehicles when the wheels became stuck in knee-deep sand? Oftentimes when roads were indicated on the maps they were, in fact, nothing more than footpaths through the swamps{37}.

In a way. White Russia acted as a gigantic cocoon for Army Group Center, and soon after June 22, the Wehrmacht began to undergo a remarkable metamorphosis. Gradually, the very color of the German uniforms and vehicles changed from grey to earth brown, and after the supply system began to deteriorate, the diet of the soldier began to change as well and even the lowly sunflower was not overlooked as a source of human energy. By the time of the fall rainy season, crudely built Russian horse-drawn panye wagons had assumed great importance for German transportation needs. German construction battalions were set to work to fabricate these primitive vehicles in the autumn, despite the fact that earlier they had been the very symbol of the backwardness of the Red Army{38}. During the winter in 1941 the transformation of the German army continued to progress; the western muzhiks found themselves scrambling for Russian padded coats and hats and for the thick and comfortable felt boots that (incidentally) the Red Army issued in only three sizes.

The question of why proper clothing and equipment was not issued to the German troops in time for the onset of winter in 1941 has never been satisfactorily answered. Halder blamed Hitler for this mistake, but Guderian has written that the fuhrer was misinformed, for some unexplained reason, about the issuance of winter clothing by Quartermaster General Wagner. Recently, however, an American historian has charged Brauchitsch with the responsibility for this error{39}.

In 1942, a German general would write: [307]

The external appearance of the troops had been fundamentally altered. ...The marching columns now resembled the campaigns of the Middle Ages, and the uniforms were now almost unrecognizable as such{40}.

The Wehrmacht had become a "Russian" army.

By late summer and early fall 1941, the war in the east had taken on a more human character; it was a man-to-man struggle to a far greater extent than the German planners had anticipated, and it was at this time that the Wehrmacht began to pay dearly for the neglect the infantry divisions had suffered since 1939{41}. According to one German general, the infantry was misused because it was (wrongly) no longer considered to be the backbone of the army. "The infantry was more poorly armed, clothed, and more poorly provided with replacements than any other branch of the military; it was always thoughtlessly overtaxed by the high command during the course of the war{42}". This general did not deny that the armored units and the Luftwaffe were also overstrained, but not because their worth was underestimated; "In regard to the armored forces, the overstraining and resulting misuse followed as a result of the wrong value placed on the infantry divisions."

Observations of this kind were not confined to lower echelon division commanders. In September 1941, Field Marshal von Kluge submitted a critique to Army Group Center that outlined in some detail his objections to the continued use of blitzkrieg tactics as advocated by Guderian and von Bock{43}. The field marshal began his remarks by saying that he realized motorized units were the wave of the future and their development must be pressed but, he added, in the Soviet Union motorized divisions alone could not achieve decisive victories; the terrain was too difficult and Russian countermeasures too effective. Much was expected of the infantry units, yet their weapons were not as varied and plentiful as in a panzer or a motorized division, a factor that made all forms of combat more difficult. The trouble with the infantry was that it typically did not have the close cooperation with the Luftwaffe enjoyed by the panzer groups. About the battles just concluded around the Yelnia salient, von Kluge stated that armor, particularly the Sturmgeschutz self-propelled artillery, was invaluable for close support of the infantry in both offensive and defensive operations. Much blood could have been saved by utilizing armor to spearhead [308] the main thrust of an infantry attack or to act as a reserve to blunt enemy assaults against static defensive positions. Von Kluge believed that it was wrong to expect infantry divisions to defend fifteen- to forty-kilometer fronts without adequate barriers against coordinated assaults by enemy tanks, artillery, and infantry in rough country. If the war were to be won, he felt the infantry would have to be regarded as something more than an unwanted stepchild; its equipment and personnel would have to be upgraded, and the tasks assigned to it would have to be more reasonable. In essence, the program outlined by von Kluge advocated a reorientation of German tactics toward the kind of combined-arms methods employed by the enemy, whose efficacy had lately been demonstrated at Yelnia. Von Kluge was given a chance to put his ideas into practice when he was assigned the command of Army Group Center in December 1941.

The Kiev encirclement proved to be the last successful mass armored penetration over a long distance that the Wehrmacht would be able to carry out in the Soviet Union. And so with the conclusion of the Kiev operation on September 26, the era of victorious blitzkrieg warfare had ended. After Briansk-Viazma, on October 13, the OKH issued orders for an encirclement of Moscow to be undertaken by the 2nd and 4th panzer groups, but there was little chance that this operation could succeed{44}. The OKH had persuaded itself that the destroyed Russian forces at Briansk-Viazma represented the last main enemy force barring the road to Moscow-a view that did not correspond to reality. After the Moscow debacle in December, neither Hitler nor anyone else in the German high command, including Halder, would ever depend on independent armored thrusts over vast territories to carry the day. This new attitude was made concrete in Hitler's Directive Number 41 of April 5, 1942, which set forth the goals for the second year's campaign:

Experience has sufficiently shown that the Russians are not very vulnerable to operational encirclements. It is therefore of decisive importance that, as in the double battle of Viazma-Briansk, individual breaches of the front should take the form of close pincers movements.

We must avoid closing the pincers too late, thus giving the enemy the possibility of avoiding destruction. [309]

It must not happen that, by advancing too quickly and too far, armored and motorized formations lose connection with the infantry following them; or that they lose the opportunity of supporting the hard pressed, forward-fighting infantry by direct attacks on the rear of the encircled Russians{45}.

The blunders made in German strategical planning in the summer of 1941 ensured the prolongation of the war despite anything the Wehrmacht might have done in regard to tactics. The use of combined-arms operations sooner, before the post-Moscow period, might have salvaged at least a partial victory for Germany in the spring and summer of 1942. Once the strategic initiative was lost permanently after Kiev, however, the damage done was irreparable. After Kiev, too, many German officers were afflicted with a "Marne psychosis," a fear that everything must be done to win the war in one campaign or else, as in 1914-1918, Germany would be ground down by its enemies{46}.

Significantly, Soviet criticisms of German tactics center around their misuse of tanks and artillery and the failure of the German command to recognize the importance of combined-arms operations{47}. In retrospect, most of these criticisms appear to be valid. Only 18 percent of Army Group Center's manpower was organized into mobile units, and it became obvious in the early stages of the war that the German transportation system was inadequate to allow artillery to be moved forward rapidly enough to be used properly{48}. During the course of the war, the Wehrmacht suffered greatly from a lack of enough motorized infantry to close swiftly the gaps between fast-racing tank columns and the slower footbound units. The German army in the east had only a few battalions that could properly be called motorized infantry; many units were given this designation, but most of them were "in fact nothing more than infantry units that did not carry their own packs"{49}. The few German battalions with armored vehicles that did operate in close coordination with tanks proved themselves to be extremely valuable, but there were not enough of them to make a decisive impact on the outcome of the war.

When the Russians began to employ large numbers of close assault antitank weapons as a defensive measure, the German panzers were increasingly forced to depend on marching infantry for support, as not enough motorized columns were available. By midsummer, 1941, the speed of the German blitzkrieg attack had been [310] slowed to that of a marching man. During the period between June 22 and July 10, 1941, Army Group Center advanced five hundred kilometers, or twenty-five to thirty kilometers per day. During the next sixty days the army group moved only two hundred to three hundred kilometers, or four to five kilometers per day{50}. Mobile columns could still race ahead rapidly to encircle large groups of Russians, and this was dramatically demonstrated at Briansk-Viazma, but these units were unable to continue their advance until the infantry came up to secure and contain the enemy pockets. This phenomenon was observable in all of the encirclement battles fought by the Germans in 1941. In 1943, 80 percent of the German army in the east was still composed of infantry divisions relying mostly on horse-drawn power for transportation, a figure that had not substantially changed since 1941{51}. An attempt to bring about increased mechanization of the infantry was made after Stalingrad, but by then it was too late. Allied bombing would wreak ever-increasing havoc with German industry and the Reich transportation network. The Wehrmacht lost the strategic initiative at Kiev and by resuming the Moscow offensive in the autumn of 1941, fell into the snare that Stalin had so carefully laid. The Red Army would continue to press for a definite tactical superiority also, a goal that was reached after the battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943.

One other matter remains to be dealt with in regard to German strategy and tactics. The question may be asked. Could Moscow have been taken by the German army in 1941 and would this success have led to a defeat of the Soviet Union? Since the war, a twofold myth has been perpetrated by former Wehrmacht commanders such as Halder, Guderian, and Blumentritt and by several German military historians. This myth is (1) that Hitler alone was , responsible for the blunders "in Russia in 1941 that led to Germany's defeat and (2) that had the blitzkrieg campaign culminated in 1941 with the capture of Moscow, the Wehrmacht would have been victorious.

The first part of this historical misconception has already been discussed. If anything. Hitler was, in 1941,unable to direct personally the strategic development of the war in the east. Intrigues and divisiveness at all levels of coinmancThad a telling effect on German planning and operational organization. Whenever Hitler was able to make a decision regarding strategy and tactics, he was [311] all too prone to rely on bad advice from individuals such as Goring and Guderian who were interested in furthering their own causes and not in sacrificing their personal goals for the sake of the common benefit. The fuhrer proved himself time and again to be unable to resist the psychological pressure from those around him who wished to use their influence to change decisions that he had already made Hitler's answer to Halder's letter of August 18, for example, positively excluded the possibility of a renewed Moscow offensive in 1941, and yet Halder was successful in changing Hitler's attitude (with the help of Warlimont and Jodl). Halder was, in turn, frustrated by the abrupt intervention of another pair of influence-mongers, Goring and Guderian, who succeeded in altering still further Hitler's supposedly stubborn will.

The second element of the myth must now be considered:

How could an assault on Moscow actually have taken place during the first year's campaign, and would the fall of the city have meant a German victory? Regarding a siege of the Soviet capital, a German historian has written as follows:

Thanks to Hitler's unfortunate Far Eastern policy, the Soviets were able to draw on a major part of the strength which had been pinned down by the Japanese. Stalin and Marshal Zhukov had gained time, utilizing the entire power of a totalitarian state, to transform the capital into what would have been an "earlier Stalingrad." In any case, if Army Group Center had commenced an actual assault on Moscow, the fight would have lasted until the last man and the last bullet were spent. It is very questionable whether this struggle would have ended in favor of Germany{52}.

Other German commentators have remarked that the use of blitzkrieg tactics against Moscow in 1941 would have been very risky. In street fighting, tanks could only have been used singly or in small groups and would have had to be close to infantry teams capable of neutralizing the enemy's close-quarter antitank weapons, which were usually concealed in underground bunkers and cellars. "If the enemy had enough time to prepare the defense of a large city, then his fortress-type constructions could only be overcome through the use of strong air and artillery support." Also, "The main burden of battle in a street fighting situation must be borne by the infantryman or motorized infantryman." On several occasions Hitler expressed his fear of using tanks in battles inside large cities, and Guderian too is on record as saying street fighting [312] was outside the operational capabilities of tanks{53}. In other words, Moscow could not have been taken in 1941 by the panzer groups alone; the Russian forces were too well prepared for such an eventuality. Moscow could have been captured only by a combined armor, artillery, infantry, and Luftwaffe assault, which in turn would have meant that the final phase of the attack could not have occurred before enough time had elapsed for men to march from the Bug River to the Moskva. It is no accident of fate that the final storm of Moscow was not attempted before November; such an event could not have taken place sooner even if the German tanks had been in a position to carry out the assault more quickly. The Russian tactic of forcing the German infantry to grapple with large pockets of surrounded Soviet soldiers behind the advancing panzer groups thus paid handsome dividends in the fall and winter of 1941. It was not until after the conclusion of the battles at Briansk-Viazma, in late October and early November, that the German infantry was in a position to assault Moscow.

Another possibility must be taken into account. What if the German tanks had bypassed Moscow and succeeded in cutting off the city from the interior, leaving the infantry and artillery units to assault the city later? This was the kind of maneuver that the panzer generals favored, and it was, in fact, the tactic set forth in the Operation Typhoon directive for the period following the "highly coordinated and closely encircling operations" at Briansk-Viazma. The encirclement of Moscow could only have been accomplished in one of three ways: (1) in late August, as Guderian advocated, without first eliminating the Russian threat to the northern and southern flanks of Army Group Center; (2) in September, as Halder, von Bock, and temporarily, Jodi advocated, after the conclusion of the Kiev operation; or (3) in November or December 1941, with all of Panzer Group 2 participating but also after the fall of Kiev and the neutralization of Leningrad, as at first Jodi and then Goring advocated. The second possibility offered the advantage that the Kiev encirclement would have been accomplished first by dividing Panzer Group 2 and sending two of its three panzer corps to the Ukraine. The rest of the tanks of Army Group Center would be regrouped and refitted for a drive to or around Moscow from the areas of Neveland Velikie Luki (Panzer Group 3), and from south of Smolensk and near Yelnia (the XLVIth Panzer Corps). Under [313] plan three, supposedly Army Groups South and North would have been able to lend support to the final drive around the capital.

Of these three possible courses of action, the second offered the most advantages, but after the third week in August and the settlement in Guderian's favor of the controversy over the division of Panzer Group 2, this plan could not have been carried out. As pointed out earlier, even if plan two had failed, Army Group Center would have been in the best overall posture for defense during the winter of 1941-1942. The third choice was, of course, the plan that was actually followed, even though the situation at Leningrad had not been resolved at the time. The failure of this plan was predetermined because the operation had to be carried out too late in the year-during bad weather-and also because the delay had allowed the enemy to mobilize fully and deploy its strategic reserve. Only the first possibility then, needs to be discussed, especially since the advocates of this plan were so vocal after the war.

The records of the units in Army Group Center, particularly those of the Second Army and Panzer Group 2 on the southern, and Panzer Group 3 on the northern, flank of the army group, prove that Zhukov's operational echelon in the areas Gomel-Mogilev and Velikie Luki was doing an effective job of pinning down the advancing German forces on the approaches to Moscow. The difficulties experienced by Guderian's XXIVth Panzer Corps at Propoisk in mid-July were symptomatic of the troubles faced by Army Group Center on its southern flank. Guderian was unable to secure the southern flank of the Army Group without help from several infantry divisions, but these same divisions were also desperately needed to aid the XLVIth Panzer Corps in closing the gap in the Smolensk pocket between Dorogobuzh and Yelnia. Guderian had originally intended for his panzer group to push around Moscow from the south, through Briansk across the Oka in August in coordination with a thrust by Panzer Group 3 around the northern side of the capital. But after the abandonment of Velikie Luki on July 20 and after strong Russian pressure developed from the directions of Roslavl-Krichev and Rogachev-Zhiobin, such a possibility appeared to be ever more remote. Guderian was, of course, willing to do something about the Roslavl-Krichev situation before he advanced toward Moscow, but the unbeaten Russian forces on the extreme southern flank of the [314] army group along the Dnepr and the Russian presence at Gomel would have seriously jeopardized the flank of Panzer Group 2 had a deep thrust to the east been carried out through Briansk in August. Guderian himself realized this threat, and on August 8 he asked von Bock for permission to send the XXIVth Panzer Corps all the way to Gomel, if necessary, a request not mentioned in the panzer general's memoirs.

As it was, the Roslavl operation was ended quickly (by August 5) and Kriehev was finished by August 12, but Guderian's success here was due primarily to the fact that his panzer group enjoyed the close cooperation of two army corps, a factor not present at Yelnia and Dorogobuzh, where the panzer groups, without infantry help, were unable to close the Smolensk pocket for eleven crucial days after the fall of Smolensk itself.

Given the failure of the German panzer groups to forge a tight ring around Bialystok-Minsk and Smolensk without the help of the infantry, it is hard to imagine how the panzers could have sealed off Moscow from the east. In fact, they could have done so only had the Red Army been totally bereft of reserves and had they prepared no defense of Moscow. By mid-August not only was Army Group Center actively engaged with four Red Army groupings, the Western, Reserve, Briansk, and Central fronts with a total of fourteen armies, but since mid-July a new line of reserves had been in the process of deployment along the Mozhaisk line of defense, a force that included three armies also set to bar the way to Moscow, although this barrier was still inadequately manned even in October{54}.

It would have been theoretically possible for Panzer Groups 2 and 3 to penetrate to or around Moscow in August. Zhukov admitted that such a danger was present in October at the start of the Typhoon offensive, yet what would have been the results of such a breakthrough?{55} In order to accomplish so rapid a push on Moscow, with all of Panzer Group 2's force, as Guderian had wished, the Kiev encirclement would have had to be postponed indefinitely. Zhukov has rendered a judgment on the results of such a rash maneuver:

As for the temporary suspension of the Moscow offensive and the drawing off of part of the forces to the Ukraine, we may assume that without that operation the situation of the German central grouping could have been still worse than it turned out to be. For [315] the General Headquarters reserves, which were used to fill in the gaps in the southwestern sector in September, could have been used to strike at the flank and the rear of the "Center" group of armies advancing on Moscow{56}.

This thesis has been echoed by other Russian commentators:

If the Germans had used the entire strength of the Wehrmacht to support the attack on Moscow, then the pressure would have been reduced on the northern and southern parts of the battlefronts. This would have allowed us to pull in more strength from these areas and also would have enabled us to continue to use the industries in the south, which would have been removed from danger of attack{57}.

The best judgment, in light of conditions existing in the summer of 1941, is that the capture of metropolitan Moscow in August or September by the Wehrmacht would have been impossible for two reasons: (1) the inability of armored units alone, aided by the small number of motorized infantry units the Wehrmacht possessed in 1941, to conquer a large defended urban area and (2) the demonstrated inability of German mobile units without the close cooperation of infantry divisions to seal off effectively large areas controlled by the Red Army. Finally, even if Moscow had fallen in September or October, the Red Army could still have continued the war, utilizing its undamaged position in the Ukraine and around Leningrad. The war would still have been a protracted conflict, the difference being that the Russians would have been able to make better use of their southern economic base during the winter 1941-1942.

It will be the verdict of history that the loss of Germany's best I hope for victory over the Soviet Union had two main causes: (1) the incredible blindness of Nazi ideology, which, by discouraging surrender, doomed any chance for the success of a blitzkrieg war and (2) the inner divisiveness in the German command structure, which prevented any coherent or rational plans from being developed or executed. It must also be the verdict of history that the Soviet state under Joseph Stalin was an organism possessing a far greater instinct for survival than that of Hitler's Germany. Stalin's trust in Zhukov was not misplaced. These two men comprised a team that wrote an end to Germany's triumphs on the eastern front. [316] [317]

Appendix A