From the south-west of Moscow, the reinforced 2-I tank army was attacking, attacking Tula, Stalinogorsk and Kashira. The enemy was opposed in these areas by the 49 and 50 armies. The offensive mobile units of the Wehrmacht from the north covered the 9-I army, from the south - 2-I army.
The German command planned to dismember the Soviet Moscow group, surround Moscow from the north and south, and then take it. At the same time, the German military-political leadership mistakenly believed that the military-economic potential of the USSR had already been exhausted and Moscow would finally be taken by the Wehrmacht’s decisive blow. And the fall of Moscow will be a decisive turning point in the whole campaign, the USSR will collapse. However, the enemy once again miscalculated.
German tanks Pz.II pass by the Soviet tank “Valentine” Mk.III, which was shot down in the area of the Istria River. This is one of the first tanks received by the USSR on Lend-Lease from the UK
The beginning of the war was very hard. The Wehrmacht broke through the Soviet strategic front in the western direction, and then in the south-western direction. In the north, the Germans came to Leningrad. In the south, fell Kiev and Odessa, the Germans began the siege of Sevastopol. In October, when Operation Typhoon began, the enemy again broke through the Soviet defenses in the western direction. The Red Army suffered huge losses. Only in 1941, the 124 rifle divisions were disbanded, which were destroyed or lost their combat capability. Russia has lost a huge territory, where before the war almost 2 / 3 was produced for all industrial and agricultural products, the human reserve was significantly reduced, millions of people were in the occupied territory. Huge national values died in the fire of war or were captured by the enemy.
The Soviet government did not capitulate, like the Poles or the French. Already in the summer and autumn of 1941, a huge process of moving production facilities, equipment, technical and working personnel from the threatened areas to the Volga region, the Urals, Siberia and Central Asia was accomplished. Relocated around 1500 industrial enterprises, numerous material assets of collective and state farms. About 17 million people were evacuated to the eastern regions of the country. However, it took a lot of effort and time to restructure the economy on a “war footing”, as well as to set up production at evacuated enterprises. In addition, the number of workers and employees in the national economy decreased from 31,2 million in 1940 year to 19,8 million in November 1941 year. To close this gap, we had to dramatically increase the share of labor for women and teenagers.
The government and the party mobilized the people against the merciless enemy. In the very first days of the war, the Armed Forces mobilized 5,3 million people from among the conscripted 1905-1918. of birth. This allowed the formation of 286 rifle divisions, 159 rifle brigades and a large number of cavalry and other units. The State Defense Committee paid special attention to strengthening the power of the Armed Forces and shifting the national economy to meeting the needs of the front. Urgently formed new military units and units, forming a strategic reserve, from which the troops were sent to the army to strengthen the defense or the organization of counterstrikes.
In general, the beginning of the war showed that the prewar course of the Soviet government was correct. Socialist society showed unity, the people rose to fight the enemy. The Fifth Column, mostly suppressed on the eve of a major war, was unable to strike at the USSR from within. Only in the territories captured by the Germans nationalists acted in a limited way. The planned fundamentals of the economy and the prewar five-year plans for the development of the national economy made it possible not only to withstand, but to increase the production of military products already in the 1941 year. The gigantic power of the Soviet industry, raw materials, agriculture, the resources of the people were all mobilized for the front. All this was combined with the skillful use of the achievements of science and technology.
The USSR was not a backward raw power and produced all advanced types of equipment and weapons. By the end of 1941, all the metallurgy of the Urals and Siberia was transferred to the production of high-quality steel. Production of armor steel at the factories of the Urals and Siberia in a short time was increased almost 20 times. Increasing the pace of development of the military-industrial complex in the Central Industrial District, the Volga region, the Urals, Western Siberia and Central Asia led to an increase in military production in the second half of 1941. More aircraft began to produce Il-2, Pe-2, Yak-1, MiG-3 and LaGG-3. In the second half of 1941, compared with the first half of the year, the average monthly production of aircraft increased 2 times. The production of tanks in the same period increased by more than 2,5 times and amounted to 4740 vehicles, including heavy tanks KV, medium T-34 and light T-60 and T-50. The production of rifles, carbines, submachine guns, machine guns, guns and mortars, as well as ammunition, greatly increased. The production of rocket launchers ("Katyusha") and anti-tank guns began.
The people showed mass heroism and self-sacrifice. Russian communism has become a powerful unifying and organizing force. The beginning of the creation in Soviet Russia of a society of service and creation led to the emergence of a generation of patriots selflessly devoted to their homeland. It is well educated and technical literate. That is, if in the First World War the Germans basically had to fight the illiterate peasant in composition of the Russian army, now the situation has changed radically. Soviet workers and collective farmers had an education and were able to work with equipment, and they knew what they were fighting for, their motivation was much higher.
In particular, one of the numerous manifestations of patriotism of the Soviet people were volunteer formations - militia divisions, fighter, communist and workers battalions, partisan detachments. In July, Leningrad and Moscow began to form a mass militia of the people. Massively Soviet people participated in the defense of Odessa, Rostov-on-Don, Donbass, Sevastopol, etc. In total, around the 30 national militia divisions and a large number of smaller units and divisions were formed and transferred to the army, which amounted to more than 2 million soldiers . In addition to the national militia divisions, by the end of July more than 1500 Fighter Battalions were created. Assistance groups formed to help them. They carried on-the-job service. But with the approach of the front, they shifted to the barracks position and could join the active army, or became partisans.
Also, the army greatly assisted the population in the construction of fortifications. This was especially evident during the defense of Kiev, Odessa, Leningrad, Moscow, Sevastopol and many other cities. In the summer and autumn of 1941, about 10 million people took part in defense construction work.
Another important factor in the people's struggle against the enemy was a large-scale partisan movement. In the autumn of 1941, Soviet partisans operating in the rear of the Army Group “Center” increased their activity. They delivered sudden and strong blows at the enemy, smashed its headquarters, destroyed nodes and communication lines, violated communications of the Wehrmacht.
The Chief of Staff of the High Command, Field Marshal Keitel, in an order from September 16 of 1941, noted that since the beginning of the war against the USSR in the occupied territories, "the communist insurgency broke out everywhere" and that "we are talking about a mass movement centrally led from Moscow." The German command tried to crush popular resistance with utmost cruelty. The order stated: “The Führer ordered to use the toughest measures everywhere to suppress this movement in the shortest possible time ... At the same time, it should be borne in mind that in these territories human life is worth nothing, and the awesome impact can only be achieved by extraordinary cruelty. As an atonement for the life of one German soldier in these cases, as a rule, should be considered a penalty for 50-100 communists. The method of execution of the sentence should further strengthen the intimidating effect. " This cannibalistic order was consistently enforced by the German authorities and logistical agencies. The German military and political leadership was implementing a plan to "clean up" the living space in the East.
The whole country was involved in the defense of the Soviet capital. Reserve units were transferred to the Moscow grouping of troops, equipment and weapons arrived, ammunition, foodstuffs, necessary materials, etc. were brought in. Everything necessary was transferred and brought from central regions, from the Volga region, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East, from Kazakhstan. For all the time of the battle for Moscow, more than 332 thousand cars were used to deliver three different fronts of the Moscow direction of various property and materials, transportation of troops, which amounted to 100-120 trains per day (for comparison, the German Army Group "Center" sent 23 to Moscow per day train, if necessary in 70 trains).
Army General A. P. Beloborodov wrote in his memoirs: "The defenders of the capital knew that behind them was Moscow, the whole country, that the army was supported by all the people." “At that time I was in the Far East,” notes further Beloborodov. - There, too, everyone understood how difficult it is for our troops on the approaches to Moscow. The headquarters received a lot of reports from the officers with a request to send them to the front. The soldiers, sergeants were also eager to go where the fate of our Motherland was being decided ... Our 78 Infantry Division was sent straight from the alarm exercises to the loading station ... I remember what a patriotic upsurge caused the soldiers that we were going to defend our capital ” .
In the deep rear, on the Volga, the 1941th Army was formed in November 10. Its core was 7 rifle divisions of the Moscow military district. In total, the 10th Army at the beginning of hostilities totaled about 100 thousand people. The 20th Army was formed at the end of November 1941 and concentrated in the Moscow region. It included the 352nd Infantry Division, which arrived from Tataria, the 331rd Infantry Division, which consisted of Siberians, the 64th Marine Rifle Brigade, which was formed from Pacific sailors fleet.
The 5 Army, which covered the Mozhaisk fortified area, was formed from Muscovites, Far Easterners, and volunteers who arrived from various regions of the country. The 50 Army, which, after leaving the encirclement, fought heroically in the Tula region, was reinforced by troops arriving from Siberia and the Far East.
In the first half of November, the Western Front received 100 thousand people, 300 tanks and 2 thousand guns. The reinforcements were also sent to the Kalininsky Front, the right flank of the Southwestern Front and to the Moscow Defense Zone, which was the second combat echelon of Moscow defense. New reserve armies were also formed: the 1 th shock - in the Zagorsk area, the 10 th army - in the Ryazan area, the 20 th army - in the Lobnya area, Shodni and Khimki. These armies could enter battle in 15-20 days.
Thus, the German military-political leadership miscalculated in relation to the Red Army’s combat capability, its recovery capabilities and the military-economic potential of the Soviet Union. The Moscow battle showed that the moral and material resources of the USSR are higher than the enemy forces. Despite the terrible start of the war, the country, the army and the people came to their senses, becoming only stronger.
A group of German soldiers after receiving winter camouflage on the street of the village near Moscow
The situation on the Russian front in the first half of November, 1941, was discussed by Hitler, then at a meeting of the chiefs of staff of army groups in Orsha, where Halder, the chief of the general staff of the ground forces, arrived. I had to admit that the plan of Operation Typhoon was not executed, despite the enormous efforts and great losses.
The mood of the German generals changed. General G. Blumentrit assessed the situation that had developed by November: “When we came close to Moscow, the mood of our commanders and troops suddenly changed. With surprise and disappointment, we discovered in October and early November that the defeated Russians did not cease to exist as a military force. In recent weeks, the enemy’s resistance has intensified and the tension of battles has increased with each passing day. ”
Already there was no consensus on the question: whether to continue the decisive offensive in the East or wait for the spring, entrenched in the achieved lines. Representatives of the army groups "South" and "North" opposed further offensive operations and proposed to move to a strategic defense. However, the command of Army Group "Center" was in favor of making the last attempt to seize Moscow. Hitler did away with all disputes, ordering him to conduct intensive preparations for the resumption of the offensive. He wanted to end Moscow soon. Thus, the German High Command decided to continue the offensive operation near Moscow.
In the first half of November, the German command pulled up to Moscow from other directions in addition to the 10 divisions and regrouped the troops. The 3 Tank Army of Goth was withdrawn from the Kalinin direction and concentrated north of Volokolamsk. 2-th tank army Guderian reinforced two army corps and replenished 100 tanks. In the 4 Army Kluge, advancing on Moscow from the west, the army corps were reinforced with armored vehicles.
For the second stage of the general offensive against Moscow, the German command deployed only 51 divisions in the Western Front, including 13 armored and 3 motorized. German troops still had a significant advantage in areas where the main attacks were carried out by mobile units. So, in these directions the enemy had a 6-7-fold advantage in tanks. The Germans also possessed superiority in bomber aviation.
It is worth noting that the German command threw into battle all the available forces of Army Group "Center", leaving no significant reserves. The Germans thought that the Red Army was already holding its last strength, and only the last decisive blow was needed, that the Soviet front collapsed again and Moscow fell. In reality, the Soviet headquarters had reserves and were at the stage of formation not only for strengthening the fronts, but strategic, for a possible offensive. Moreover, the Headquarters, despite the difficult situation near Moscow, could already transfer part of its forces to reserves to Tikhvin, near Leningrad, and to the south - to the districts of Rostov-on-Don and Sevastopol. This strengthened the situation on the flanks of the Soviet strategic front.
Thus, it is not surprising that the future December counter-offensive of the Red Army near Moscow will stun the enemy, and Army Group Center will not be able to hold the front. All troops of Army Group "Center", including mobile attack units, will be exhausted and exsanguinated by previous battles, there will be no reserves in the rear. Therefore, the Germans and run.
During the two-week preparation for a new offensive, the fighting near Moscow did not stop completely. The troops of the Western Front fought defensive battles in the area of Volokolamsk and Aleksin. In the area of Serpukhov, the 49-I army of Lieutenant-General T. G. Zakharkin 14 November struck the right flank of the Wehrmacht 4-th field army, which forced the enemy to enter the troops intended for the offensive. The counter-strike of the 16 Army from the region north of Volokolamsk did not bring the expected results.
Soviet fighters mine railway near Moscow
Red Army soldiers with a machine gun "Maxim" climb to the top of the height during the fighting near Moscow
To be continued ...