Military Review

Fighting on the near approaches to Moscow

On November 15-16, 1941, German troops resumed their attack on Moscow, delivering major strikes in three directions. 3rd and 4th tank armies reinforced by army corps broke through to Klin, Solnechnogorsk and Istra, bypassing Moscow from the north-west. Here the troops of the 30th Army of the Kalinin Front and the 16th Army of the Western Front fought with the enemy.

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.

Fighting on the near approaches to Moscow

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

Enemy plans

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 ...
Articles from this series:
1941 Campaign

How defeated Yugoslavia and Greece
Yugoslav operation
Greek operation
Operation Mercury
How German paratroopers stormed Crete
Hitler was only a tool to crush the USSR
Red Empire on the eve of the great battle
Fritz plan and Lossberg designs. The viciousness and adventurism of the principles of the war plan against the USSR
The purpose of the war: "defeat the Russians as a people"
The myth of the "war of conquest" of the USSR to seize Iran
“Russia is great, but there is nowhere to retreat — Moscow is behind!”
The catastrophe of the Red Army near Vyazma and Bryansk
There is a people's war. How to save Moscow from the Nazis
Battle for Kalinin
The failure of the operation "Typhoon"

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  1. nivander
    nivander 16 November 2016 07: 15
    by the way, at about the same time, the Volkhov Front launched an offensive near Tikhvin and Malaya Vishora and all the reserves from France and Germany (61 pd, 215 pd, 217 pd, 223 pd, 227 pd, 250 "Golubaya" pd and all SS-vskie dragovlyavy) intended for GA "Center" were used to patch holes and build a new front along the Volkhov River plus 39 tank corps (8th, 12th, 18th md), which was supposed to be reunited with the 3rd tank army, Tikhvin remained to defend and almost died out in full force (the famous ice march 18 MD when only 9 out of 741 thousand soldiers who left Tikhvin survived). Herman Goth in his memoirs bitterly complains "... we lacked only one tank corps and ten infantry divisions to strike at Vologda"
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 16 November 2016 08: 18
    All European evil spirited to Moscow ... along with the Germans .. Yes, it didn’t grow together ..
  3. Stas57
    Stas57 16 November 2016 08: 56
    somehow everything is naive, childish chtol
    1. creak
      creak 16 November 2016 10: 02
      According to the well-known law, the number of articles published by the author directly contributes to their transition to a new quality, which is far from the best.
      Material at the school textbook level, too many common words, hackneyed stamps and almost nothing new, unfortunately, we did not hear from the author
      The article looks especially disadvantageous against the background of Skomorokhov's high-quality work on the "parade" in Brest ...
    2. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 16 November 2016 11: 26
      Quote: Stas57
      somehow everything is naive, childish chtol

      But the role of the party and government is mentioned. smile
      Particularly pleased:
      The beginning of the creation in Soviet Russia of a society of service and creation led to the emergence of a generation of patriots devotedly devoted to their homeland. At the same time, well-educated and technically competent. That is, if in the First World War the Germans mostly had to fight with the illiterate peasant composition of the Russian army, now the situation has radically changed. Soviet workers and collective farmers were educated and knew how to work with technology, and they knew what they were fighting for, their motivation was an order of magnitude higher.

      As for motivation - no doubt. And as for technical literacy, one immediately recalls the pre-war reports of MK commanders and documents on inspections of rifle divisions.
      In parts of 97 SD rifles manufactured in 1940. , which were on hand for no more than 4 months, up to 29% are reduced to a state of rust in the barrel, machine guns "DP" manufactured in 1939 to 14% also have a deterioration of the barrel channels.

      The commanding staff of the units does not know the optical sight for the Maxim machine gun, the optical sight for the sniper rifle and other types of new types of weapons. Some of the company commanders do not know how to remove the bayonet from the rifle arr 1891/30.
      The knowledge of the junior commanding staff is weak, but nevertheless, the weapons in the unit know better than the commanding staff.
      The knowledge of ordinary cadets is low.
      They do not know automatic weapons at all and are only able to carry rifles and pull the trigger. Extremely poor knowledge of the materiel of small arms and besides the gunners do not know the names of the parts of the machine gun "DP" and the revolver. The machine gunners do not know the name of the parts and rules for disassembling the rifle. To great shame, and chagrin, cadet regiment schools have lesser knowledge of small arms than the knowledge of the Red Army, and yet despite this they are issued by junior commanders.
      There is no need to talk about the rules, cleaning weapons, and their inspection by younger commanders.
      This situation should be, since the commander, having no knowledge of small arms, cannot transfer them to his subordinates and demand knowledge from them when he himself does not know him.
      Technical literacy and motivation, yes ...
      1. Thunderbolt
        Thunderbolt 16 November 2016 13: 57
        Quote: Alexey RA
        Some of the company’s commanders do not know how to remove a bayonet from a rifle arr 1891 / 30g.
        This was the most striking thing, and everything else logically follows from this. What kind of optical sight such a commander will teach.
        All the more surprising is that in 1940 the headquarters of the 97th SD was rated as the most advanced in the Red Army and was awarded the challenge prize of the General Staff. For the organization of military and political training and troop training, the division commander, Major General I. Sherstyuk, was awarded the Order of the Red Banner ...
        1. Alexey RA
          Alexey RA 16 November 2016 14: 26
          Quote: Thunderbolt
          All the more surprising is that in 1940 the headquarters of the 97th SD was rated as the most advanced in the Red Army and was awarded the challenge prize of the General Staff. For the organization of military and political training and troop training, the division commander, Major General I. Sherstyuk, was awarded the Order of the Red Banner ...

          Apparently it was the most advanced headquarters available. smile Which is not surprising: for example, in the neighboring ZAPOVO in the winter of 1940-1941 it was necessary to significantly increase the training of senior command personnel in order to get at least a "mediocre" grade (it’s scary to even think about what happened there in 1940 with the training).
          "As a result of all these activities, the operational training of senior officers has grown significantly and is assessed mediocre."
          Conclusion: the units and formations of the district, fulfilling your demand for the coordination of companies and battalions, are quite ready for solving simple combat missions "
          “The training of mortar units and subunits is mediocre, with the exception of the 24th OMB, which is poor. The training of the 45th and 76th regiments of artillery is mediocre.
          The conducted artillery firing and viewing exercises showed that the division’s artillery of the District was prepared to perform combat missions in the main types of combat mediocre.
          The training of the regiments of the ARGK is mediocre, with the exception of 311 popes and 318 hap RGKs, whose training is poor. "
          1. jjj
            jjj 16 November 2016 14: 51
            And when counterintelligence took such commanders to the kukan, it is considered a crime of the "bloody gebni". In these units, at least the fighters were still in the mood. And what happened in the border areas? Recruits from the western regions did not want to fight at all
          2. Thunderbolt
            Thunderbolt 16 November 2016 15: 09
            Ideal is difficult to achieve, especially in such a difficult phenomenon as the army. The main thing is how the elimination of the identified shortcomings was successful. We do not forget the transition to the new states either. We recruited staff officers to fill in the URs at the border and more.
        2. Duisenbay Bankankulov
          Duisenbay Bankankulov 23 January 2017 07: 55
          The author writes garbage !!! It cannot be that a soldier was sent to the front without training and education. After all, all false historians do not write about the schools of junior commanders, technicians, and artillery men.
  4. RPG_
    RPG_ 16 November 2016 10: 56
    There is a lot of text, but nothing was found and was not about the defense of Moscow, just some common phrases.
  5. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 16 November 2016 17: 17
    The Soviet government did not capitulate like the Poles or the French. Yes, I’m always ready to kick the Poles myself, but Mr. author, let's be adequate.
    Russia has lost a vast territory, Russia and the USSR is not one ...... Ukraine was not part of Russia, in any case after 1917.
    Russian communism I think you will be erected a monument for this monument in the main square of KIIVU.
    The beginning of the creation in Soviet Russia of a society of service and creation led Are you talking about 1920 or about the USSR?
    1. Vladislav 73
      Vladislav 73 16 November 2016 18: 25
      Quote: Mavrikiy
      Ukraine was not part of Russia, in any case after 1917.

      Ukraine and before 1917 I was not part of Russia, because there was no Ukraine as such, but there were Little Russian and Novorossiysk provinces. But I absolutely agree with you, I also drew attention to a strange phrase:
      Russia has lost a huge territory
      Then the USSR lost a huge territory request
  6. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 16 November 2016 19: 22
    As for the transfer of forces to the Rostov and Sevastopol directions, this is from the realm of fantasy. "from the reserves she had in her presence, she could already transfer part of her forces to the Tikhvin region, near Leningrad, and to the south - to the regions of Rostov-on-Don, Sevastopol. " The Rostov operation was carried out without attracting strategic reserves, the more significant its result. A lot of text about the Germans, relatively few specifics about our troops. I did not note the article, it is raw.
  7. multipulti
    multipulti 16 November 2016 22: 26
    the hardest time was, my mother is already, recalls how they worked on the collective farm in the war, and were children
  8. Pecheneg
    Pecheneg 14 February 2017 13: 13
    It’s better to read G. Zhukov’s “Memoirs and Reflections” than this work of literature.