I can well imagine how many dogs will be lowered on me now. And, nevertheless, on the eve of the century anniversary of the Red Army, I consider it necessary to bring complete clarity to the topic of the so-called “catastrophic defeats” of our army in the summer of 1941.
In the sense that the Armed Forces of the USSR, which existed on 22 in June of that year, are completely UNCONFECTABLE for the reasons for these defeats. And vice versa - they made the maximum of what they could to absorb and dissipate the energy of the first, most powerful blow of the enemy.
Among the most common misconceptions are the following interpretations of the root causes of our military failures of 1941 of the year:
1. Pre-war Stalinist repression against the commanders of the Red Army
2. Incompleteness of rearmament and combat deployment of the Red Army
3. Low moral and political level of the personnel who allegedly did not want to fight for communist Russia
4. Betrayal of the commanders of the Red Army, especially the Western Special Military District
5. The unwillingness of the USSR to a defensive war, allegedly connected with its purely offensive plans to defeat Germany and conquer Europe
All this is nothing else but malicious political speculation, designed, at different times and for different reasons, to transfer the responsibility arrows to the army and make its fighters and commanders the main culprits of the incident.
In the following text, I will try, at least in brief and in general terms, otherwise I would have to write a multi-volume, describe - why it is not so. What the “Military Diary” of the then Chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces of Germany, Colonel-General Franz Halder, will help me, the main value of which lies precisely in the assessment of the events that took place in real time free of subsequent political overlays.
So, let's start right from 22 June 1941goda - the first day of the war. Here is what Halder writes:
“The overall picture of the first day of the offensive is as follows:
“The German offensive took the enemy by surprise. The tactical order of the enemy was not tactically adapted to defense; His troops in the border zone were scattered over a wide area and tied to the quartering areas. The security of the border itself was generally weak.
... In favor of the conclusion that a significant part of the enemy forces is much deeper in the rear than we thought, and now partially relegated even further, the following facts speak: our troops advanced to the depth of 20 km for the first day of the offensive, then - the absence of a large number of prisoners, an extremely small amount of artillery acting on the side of the enemy ", HTTP://MILITERA.LIB.RU/DB/HALDER/1941_06.HTML
For an experienced military man, which, of course, was the chief of the German General Staff, the overall picture of events became apparent almost immediately. And Halder - a professional warrior who, in general, did not care about Hitler's chatter about the preventive war against the “already ready to attack the USSR”, immediately and unequivocally this Nazi myth completely refuted. The facts he noted “the dispersion of Soviet troops over a vast territory and attachment to their quartering areas”, as well as a direct indication that “a significant part of the enemy’s forces are much deeper in the rear than we thought” clearly and unequivocally indicate that there were no strategic strike groups near the state border, on the eve of 22 June, the Red Army did not create and, therefore, did not prepare for aggression.
Thus, already at this stage of our reasoning, we can safely put a fat cross on all propaganda about the inevitable Soviet aggression at that time, allegedly pushing Hitler to war, and at the same time on all apologists for this false theory - from Goebbels to traitor Rezun.
The army, allegedly prepared for a “liberation campaign in Europe”, could not sit quietly in “winter quarters” scattered throughout the vast territory of the European part of the USSR. Strategic strike forces look a little different.
And if they really hung over the eastern border of the Third Reich in full readiness for a swift rush to the West, then Halder would hardly have had the opportunity to write about the weak resistance of the enemy in the border zone.
Moreover, in the case of the actual existence of such fully mobilized strike groups near the border, and these are millions of soldiers and officers, the picture of military operations would be completely different than the one that took place in real stories. The blow of the Soviet army of the invasion, if it had not even become a knockout for Germany, would surely have broken all plans of Hitler's command. And the Wehrmacht would have to, instead of a victorious march to Moscow, be drawn into large-scale oncoming battles with the striving forward tank wedges of the Red Army. And it’s not a fact that the Germans would be able to contain this impulse.
Because by that time the Red Army had enough forces and means to implement the most decisive offensive strategy - a huge amount of military equipment, including the best in the world, carefully trained in the pre-war period and well-motivated personnel personnel, as well as commanders New wave, received real combat experience and made conclusions from all the mistakes of local conflicts of the end of 30-x - the beginning of 40-x.
By the way, Hitler himself, on the eve of his death in 1945, regretted that he hadn’t done something like Stalin’s purge of commanders on the eve of the war in his army.
Thus, the propaganda version of the preemptive strike of the Germans against the allegedly prepared for the throw of the Red Army, we reject as absolutely groundless and in no way coinciding with the facts of reality.
Now about the myth that was even more popular in recent years about the “low morale” of the Red Army men who, they say, did not want to fight for the “bloody Stalinist regime” and therefore were surrendered to the Germans in captivity at the first opportunity.
I categorically assert that such accusations are one hundred percent slander against the regular Red Army, which absolutely do not correspond to historical facts.
Let us again turn to Franz Halder, who did not compose politically colored fables and wrote only about what was reflected in official staff reports.
23 June 1941 year
It should be noted the stubbornness of individual Russian compounds in battle. There have been cases when the garrisons of the pillboxes blew themselves up along with the pillboxes, not wanting to surrender.
26 June 1941 year
Evening summary reports for the 25.6 and 26.6 morning reports from the report:
Army Group South is slowly moving ahead, unfortunately with significant losses. The enemy, acting against Army Group South, has firm and energetic leadership.
A small number of prisoners, along with a very large amount of captured property (including fuel), is characteristic of all sectors of the front.
There are no questions about the trophy property - the retreating forces were forced to leave, most often resulting in unusable condition, heavy armament due to the fact that the ammunition or fuel had run out. The condition of these trophies can be judged by the fact that after a whole week of hostilities Halder complains that the Germans do not have the opportunity to explore the new Russian T-34 tank, because so far they have not managed to capture any of the whole car. But read on:
28 June 1941 year
General Brand: Report on the battles for Brest-Litovsk (31-I Infantry Division). ... ..the resistance of the overwhelmingly large and fanatically fighting enemy forces was very strong, which caused great losses in the 31 th Infantry Division.
... Information from the front confirms that Russians are fighting to the last man everywhere. Only in some places they surrender to captivity ... It is striking that in the seizure of artillery batteries, etc., only a few are surrendered. Part of the Russian fights until they are killed, others run, throw off their uniform uniforms and try to get out of the encirclement under the guise of peasants.
... Ott, Inspector General of the Infantry, reported on his impressions of the battle near Grodno. The stubborn resistance of the Russian forces us to fight according to the rules of our combat regulations. In Poland and in the West, we could afford certain liberties and deviations from statutory principles; now it is already unacceptable.
2 July 1941 year
The 17 Army, continues to pursue the withdrawing enemy. This "pursuit" is constantly delayed by stubborn resistance from the enemy, certain groups of which continuously go over to counterattacks, mostly on the flank of advancing troops and, as a rule, with the support of tanks.
4 July 1941 year
Fighting with the Russians are extremely stubborn. Captured only a small number of prisoners.
5 July 1941 year
The situation at the front in the evening: in the south, our troops, due to the poor condition of the roads and the stubborn resistance of the enemy, are moving forward slowly. The units report that in certain areas the crews of enemy tanks leave their vehicles, but in most cases they lock themselves in tanks and prefer to burn themselves along with the vehicles.
11 July 1941 year
Colonel Ochsner reported on his trip to the tank groups Guderian and Hoth. It should be noted:
... b. The command of the enemy acts energetically and skillfully. The enemy fights fiercely and fanatically.
at. Tank compounds suffered significant losses in personnel and materiel. The troops are tired.
The list of such extremely eloquent quotes from the diaries of one of the main generals of the Wehrmacht can be continued ad infinitum. But I think that even the above passages are more than enough to state that there was not even a word about any mass flight of our cadre army and, especially, its “unwillingness to fight”. And this stubborn resistance was not episodic, namely, the general norm of the behavior of the soldiers of the Red Army, which Franz Halder recorded as an absolutely indisputable fact.
The regular army of the USSR fought exactly as it was taught - to the last bullet and the last opportunity to resist, with complete contempt for death and hatred of the enemy. “There are no prisoners,” “few prisoners,” “Russians fight until they are killed.” These confessions of the enemy sound like endless refrain from the pages of the Military Diary.
Thus, we have all grounds with anger and indignation to reject this slander against the Red Army - about its imaginary psychological unpreparedness for war and the supposedly massive anti-Soviet mood of its personnel. There was this - from the word at all!
And, finally, about the so-called "betrayal of the generals." Usually in this regard, our well-read popular books in the bright covers of "connoisseurs of history" mention the Western Front and its commander, Army General Dmitry Pavlov.
To listen to such "experts", so this Pavlov was only preoccupied on the eve of the war with how better to prepare for the surrender of the front entrusted to him to the Germans.
Even if the general of the army of the Soviet Union really had such strange intentions, I have to admit that it came out of his hands very badly. Since the Western front, which, by the way, was the main blow of the Germans, the enemy did not surrender. And again - from the word at all!
Confirmation of what - diaries of the same Halder. At first, the Germans, taking advantage of the surprise attack and the gaps in the Russian defenses, threw their tank groups forward to surround the main forces of the Western Front. And it seemed that they achieved their goal - a significant part of the troops of this strategic direction really hit the ring.
But then, for the Germans themselves, shaped gutting began. Surrounded by Soviet troops did not even think carefully folded weapon following the example of their European colleagues. And Franz Halder has a new reason for a chronic headache.
26 June 1941 year
Significant, surrounded by the enemy group, including in our deep rear, delay the advancement of our infantry divisions.
28 June 1941 year
At the front of Army Group Center, as a result of desperate attempts by the enemy to leave the encirclement in the areas of Volkovysk and Novogrudok, the situation in a number of sectors seriously deteriorated.
30 June 1941 year
In the center of the band of the Army Group Center, our completely mixed divisions are making every effort not to let the enemy’s environment desperately penetrate in all directions from the inner ring.
Isn't it true - a somewhat strange behavior for the army, about which we are told that she only did that, that she ran away from the enemy without looking back, or, on the contrary, she massively asked for German captivity. And only 2 July 1941, that is, on the tenth day of the war, the following entry appears in Halder’s diary:
2 July 1941 year
The enemy, located in the Novogrudok area, suffered heavy losses. All the units that managed to leave in the Novogrudok area are actually broken up; besides, they have no ammunition or food. Hence the passivity of the enemy. However, it is impossible to completely exclude the possibility of infiltration of individual small groups of the enemy to the southeast.
As we see, only after a week of fighting in the environment, the activity of the Soviet forces in the ring began to decline. And that is only because by this time the rioters probably had run out of ammunition and food.
And only to 5 of July, the Red Army units surrounded to the west of Minsk, which fought practically until the last bullet, ceased organized resistance. According to the War Diary, over 50 thousands of our military men were taken prisoner. However, judging by the estimates of the same Halder, it was only a small part of the forces that were in the Bialystok-Novogrudok boiler. All the rest actually died in battle.
5 July 1941 year
In general, after the enemy, surrounded in the Novogrudok area, no longer makes any more attempts to break out of the encirclement, it can be said with confidence that the enemy grouping that was in the Bialystok projection (the number of which, according to the indications of one captive corps commander, was 15- 20 divisions), preserved miserable remains. From the number of enemy divisions operating before the front of Army Group North, 12-15 divisions should be considered completely destroyed.
In the military language, a “completely destroyed division” is a military unit that fought with the enemy to the last man and completely died in battle.
In essence, this is all you need to know about the so-called "betrayal of the generals" of the Western Special Military District, who allegedly prepared their troops for inglorious surrender to the enemy. There was no change. But in reality there was absolutely heroic, bitter and bloody resistance for the enemy of our divisions, headed by the same generals who allegedly betrayed their homeland.
And what then was, you ask. After all, in the future there were the hardest surroundings and endless columns of prisoners and a retreat all the way to Moscow.
Yes, it was all. But after the main forces of the regular Red Army were destroyed in a border battle. Subsequently, the hastily recruited and abandoned divisions of reservists and militia still had to learn to really fight. And these, in fact, civilians, have learned. But for this it took almost half a year and the front line near Moscow itself.
, And the regular troops fully completed their combat mission. And almost completely died in battle. But not because of some mythical military unpreparedness, or, especially, large-scale betrayal, but solely by virtue of the logic of military actions. Which, in turn, was the result of political decisions taken by the country's leadership on the eve of the war. The main essence of which was at any cost to delay the start of the war with Germany, and ideally to avoid it altogether.
Stalin had nothing to share with Hitler in Europe. The Soviet Union regained almost all former Russian territories for which it claimed. And with this, the program of external expansion of the state for Joseph Stalin, fully focused on the internal self-development of the USSR and the construction of socialism in one single country, was completely exhausted.
Precisely in order to avoid even the slightest hint of preparation for war, Stalin refused to concentrate the shock groups of troops on the border with Germany and ordered them to be dispersed throughout the vast territory of the country. It was this decision that became fatal for the personnel of the Red Army sample 22 June 1941 of the year. Formerly a mighty military force, but scattered throughout the vast spaces, actually condemned to the loss of military initiative, she was deprived of the physical ability to quickly gather her forces in the right place. And, as a result, it is doomed to defeat in parts completely concentrated for the maximum possible strike by the Wehrmacht, which mobilized the military resources of all of Europe.
If you wish, you can, of course, put this fatal decision to blame Stalin. But I personally find it hard to imagine that once I was in his place, I would venture to make another decision. Because this other decision could only be an immediate war with Germany. And, in fact - with the entire Western world, including the United States and the UK. Which, in this case, would most certainly stand on the side of Europe, "subjected to Soviet aggression".
That same war, which Stalin was not so much afraid of (I have no information that he was a coward), didn’t want as much as elementary. Just because he did not consider it necessary for the USSR. And in this sense, he had no options. In the end, our country did everything that depended on it, so that this essentially meaningless war did not happen. But not everything in this world depends only on us.
As for the Red Army, it, even in these, the most unfavorable conditions, completely fulfilled its military duty. And in the year of its century, it has every right to remain in the history of invincible and legendary.