German soldiers are examining Soviet Tanks KV-1 and T-40 from the 42nd Tank Brigade of the Bryansk Front, knocked out on October 3, 1941 near the village of Igritskoye, Sevsky District, Bryansk Region
"Typhoon" - the Germans called the plan of their offensive. Typhoon is a strong wind, a destructive hurricane. The Nazis were going to swiftly bypass Moscow from the north and south, create huge "pincers" and crush the Soviet capital. Thus, create conditions for complete victory in the war.
New offensive of the Wehrmacht along the entire front
After the battle for Kiev (How the Germans took Kiev), the German Headquarters had to determine whether there was enough time and energy to defeat Soviet Russia during the 1941 campaign, thereby continuing the Barbarossa plan.
If it is not possible to crush the military power of the Russians before the onset of winter, then the war will be protracted, which can turn into big troubles. All Berlin's plans, which were outlined after the victory over Russia, will have to be postponed indefinitely. The main forces of the Wehrmacht will be pinned down on the Russian line for at least another year, and on the horizon there will be a threat of war on several fronts and directions. Just what they thought to avoid in Berlin when they started the war with the USSR.
Therefore, the German high command decided to go to maximum efforts to defeat the main forces of the enemy in 1941 and take Moscow. Depriving the Russians of the capital, the main center of industry and communications hub in the European part of the country. Also, the fall of Moscow was supposed to break the morale of the enemy, intensify the processes of decay and decay.
The German army in the fall of 1941, despite serious losses and fierce resistance from the Russians, retained its strategic initiative and was able to continue the offensive.
The Germans still believed in their superiority and invincibility. But it was still impossible to determine when the Russians would run out of strength and reserves. All previous calculations turned out to be wrong.
The Soviet colossus, allegedly on feet of clay, turned out to be steel and fought desperately, throwing more and more divisions into the battle. True, the last divisions that entered the battle seemed worse prepared and insufficiently equipped. Therefore, the Nazis had the hope that these were the last reserves of Moscow, and the critical moment when the Russians would break was near. You just need to push harder, and the last resistance of the enemy will be broken.
As a result, the Nazi leadership decided to continue the offensive and achieve a decisive outcome.
On September 6, 1941, Hitler signed Directive No. 35. Moscow again became the main target of the offensive. Army Group "Center" in the Moscow direction is significantly strengthened. Army Group North returned to the central direction the 3rd Panzer Group of Hoth, transferred its 4th Panzer Group to Göpner and a large number of self-propelled guns and artillery. Army Group South returned to Group Center Weichs's 2nd Field Army and Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group. Also, the southern wing of Army Group Center was reinforced by several army corps of Group South.
True, this weakened the strategic groupings of the Nazis in the north and south, where they were supposed to take Leningrad, Donbass, Crimea and the Caucasus. With the available forces, the Germans in the north could not take Leningrad. In the south, the Nazis managed to occupy the Crimea, but the 11th Army got stuck near Sevastopol. Also, the Germans were unable to cross the Don and, fighting heavy battles to the point of complete depletion of forces, were defeated. The Russians launched a strong counteroffensive, the Nazis retreated beyond the Northern Donets, left Rostov-on-Don and retreated beyond the Mius.
Red Army soldiers in position at the bridge on the Western Front. October 1941
Soviet tank KV-1, abandoned near Bryansk
Red Army prisoners in open boxcars near Bryansk
The plan for the attack on Moscow was codenamed Typhoon.
It provided for the delivery of three powerful strikes from the regions of Dukhovshchina, Roslavl and Shostka with the aim of dismembering the opposing troops of the Western, Reserve and Bryansk fronts (commanders I.S.Konev, S.M.Budyonny and A.I. Eremenko), encircling and destroying their main forces. Then they had to take Moscow. Mobile units were to cover the Soviet capital from the north and south.
On September 16, 1941, the commander-in-chief of Army Group Center, Field Marshal Bock, ordered the preparations for the Moscow operation.
The 4th and 9th armies, the 4th and 3rd tank groups carried out a breakthrough of the enemy's defense in the direction of Roslavl - Moscow. The 2nd Army was advancing on Sukhinichi and Bryansk. The 2nd Panzer Group was aiming at Bryansk and Orel.
Army Group Center by the end of September 1941 had over 1 million soldiers and officers, 1 tanks and self-propelled guns, 700 thousand guns and mortars, 14 aircraft. 950 divisions were concentrated here, including 77 tank and motorized. This was 18% of the entire infantry and 40% of the tank and motorized forces of the Wehrmacht on the Russian front.
The Soviet high command was also well prepared for the battle for Moscow.
40% of all the forces of the Red Army were concentrated in this direction. Konev's western front (6 reinforced armies) held defenses in the zone from Lake Seliger to Yelnya. The main forces of the Reserve Front of Budyonny (31st, 32nd, 33rd and 49th armies) took up defenses behind the Western Front on the Ostashkov-Selizharovo-Olenino-Spas-Demensk-Kirov line. The 24th and 43rd armies of this front were located next to the ZF in the strip from Yelnya to Frolovka. The Bryansk Front, consisting of three armies (50th, 3rd and 13th), held defenses along the eastern bank of the river. Desna from Frolovka to Putivl.
The three fronts numbered 800 men, about 800 tanks, about 7 guns and mortars, and over 500 aircraft. Moscow was separately defended by a fighter aviation Moscow air defense zone - already in July it consisted of more than 600 aircraft.
In Moscow, 12 divisions of the people's militia were created, which took up defense in the Rzhev-Vyazemsky direction. In July - September 1941, large-scale work was carried out to create the Rzhev-Vyazemskaya and Mozhaisk defense lines with a depth of up to 250 km. The work was carried out by the military, builders and residents of Moscow, Moscow, Smolensk, Tula and Kalinin regions. Hundreds of thousands of people worked daily. However, due to the huge scale of work, the construction was delayed and was completed by 40-60%.
Calculation of the German 50-mm PaK 38 cannon from the 19th Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht at the wrecked car on the Varshavskoe highway near the village of Vorobyi. October 1941
German mortars walk past the Pz. Kpfw. IV during the battles at Vyazma
German infantrymen at the Pz. Kpfw. IV. Vyazma area. October 1941
Breakthrough Soviet Defense
When things were still going well in the north and south, the Germans launched an offensive in the Moscow direction.
By the beginning of October 1941, the 9th, 4th and 2nd field armies and 3 tank groups were ready for the offensive. The tank divisions were replenished, the materiel was repaired. The infantry divisions did not have time to fully restore the numerical strength, but the artillery was complete. Strong heavy artillery and numerous self-propelled guns provided the infantry with striking power.
On the night of October 2, 1941, the order of the Fuehrer was read to the troops of the German Eastern Front:
“Finally, the precondition for the last huge blow has been created, which should lead to the destruction of the enemy even before the onset of winter. All preparations, as far as possible for human effort, have already been completed. This time, systematically, step by step, preparations were made to bring the enemy into a position in which we could now inflict a fatal blow on him. Today begins the last, big, decisive battle of this year. "
In a radio speech on October 3, Hitler announced that new operations of gigantic proportions had begun on the Eastern Front 48 hours ago.
"The enemy has already been defeated and will never regain its strength",
- said the Fuhrer.
Fierce battles ensued on the distant approaches to Moscow.
The Germans immediately made great strides. The 2nd Panzer Group launched an offensive on September 30, 1941 in the Bryansk-Oryol direction, to the northeast. She had to, with the strong support of the Luftwaffe, break through to Orel as quickly as possible. Already on October 1, Guderian's tanks broke through the defenses of the 13th Army of the Bryansk Front, took Sevsk and Fatezh. On the 3rd, the Eagle fell. The left wing of the 2nd tank group turns to Bryansk, they go to the rear of the Russian troops, which defended themselves in front of the German 2nd field army of Weichs.
On October 2, 1941, the other armies of Army Group Center, supported by the 4th and 2nd Air Fleets, launched an offensive. The 2nd and 4th armies, supported by the 4th Panzer Group, broke through the Soviet defenses in the Roslavl region. The Nazis laid the foundation for the encirclement of two large Soviet groups: in the south - in the Bryansk region and in the north - in the Vyazma region.
Barricade on Smolenskaya Street in Moscow. Autumn 1941
A column of Soviet armor-piercing soldiers follows Moscow street
The commander of the squad of machine gunners I. I. Karachevtsev of the 1st battalion of Moscow workers conducts classes with the soldiers of the squad. October 1941
Russian troops, defending in the Bryansk region, were attacked by the 2nd Army from the west, and Guderian's tanks entered from the east.
On October 6, the Germans occupied Karachev and Bryansk. The troops of the Bryansk Front were dismembered, parts of three armies (50th, 3rd and 13th were surrounded). Two cauldrons were formed: north (50th Army) and south (3rd and 13th armies) of Bryansk. The withdrawal of the armies of the Bryansk Front began on October 8. The command of the front troops was disrupted, the commander of the front Eremenko was wounded on the 13th. The armies fought to break through the encirclement and exit to their own until October 23.
Petrov's 50th Army made a breakthrough to the east. The commander of the 10th was seriously wounded and died. From the encirclement on October 20, about 6,7 thousand people and the army headquarters escaped to the Belev area. The army had to be formed anew. Kreizer's 3rd army withdrew to the southeast and on the 23rd left in the Ponyri region. We went through the swamps, tanks and vehicles had to be destroyed. The 13th army of Gorodnyansky, after the fuel ran out, abandoned all heavy equipment and property and broke through in the Fatezh area. Front troops and aviation supported the breakthrough. On October 18, the remnants of the army went out to their own. The troops of the 13th Army lost up to 50% of personnel and almost all materiel.
As a result, the control of three armies left the encirclement, the remnants of 18 divisions, having lost almost all heavy weapons and equipment. The losses of the 50th Army were the most severe: no more than 10% of the personnel left the boiler. However, there were practically no reserves in this direction, therefore, having replenished the armies with what they could, they were immediately thrown into battle. The stubborn resistance of the armies of the Bryansk Front in the Bryansk-Oryol direction disrupted the pace of the offensive and pinned down large enemy forces for 17 days. This allowed our troops to prepare a defense in the area of Tula and the Mozhaisk line.
As a result, the Nazis were unable to make a deep coverage of Moscow from the south.
German column on the street of the captured Vyazma
German column on Lenin Street. Eagle. October 3, 1941
Tanks Pz. Kpfw. III and Sd. Kfz. 10 of the 2nd Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht during the offensive on Moscow. October 1941
A similar situation developed on the northern flank of the German offensive.
The 4th Panzer Group and the 4th Army, after a breakthrough in the Roslavl region, turned north. The 9th Army, pinning down the enemy from the front, surrounded him from the north, and the 3rd Panzer Group turned south and struck in the rear. On October 7, the Germans, with the forces of the 56th motorized corps of the 3rd tank group from the north, the 46th and 40th motorized corps of the 4th tank group from the south and east, broke through to Vyazma, met east of the city and surrounded significant forces from the Soviet 19 -th, 20th, 24th, 32nd armies and Boldin's group. The Vyazemsky boiler was formed.
The Soviet command began the withdrawal of troops on October 5-6. However, the retreat took place in conditions of partial loss of control and fierce battles, so they did not have time to withdraw the troops.
The commandments of 4 armies, 37 divisions, 9 tank brigades and other units were surrounded. Part of the encircled group was led by the commander of the 19th Army, General Mikhail Lukin. When leaving the encirclement, he was seriously wounded and taken prisoner. Until the end of the war, Lukin was kept in concentration camps and tried to "process", recruit, but he held on with dignity, did not give in. The surrounded Soviet troops fought until October 13-14, pinning up to 28 enemy divisions. Part of the troops was able to break through to their own, with battles went to the Mozhaisk defensive line. The remnants of 16 divisions withdrew from 500 to 2 men. From the remaining divisions, small groups and individual fighters escaped from the cauldron.
As a result, the Red Army suffered heavy losses: according to German data, more than 660 thousand people were taken prisoners in two boilers near Bryansk and Vyazma. The commander of the 24th Army Konstantin Rakutin (a former border guard, fell in battle) was killed, the commander of the 32nd Army Sergei Vishnevsky, the commander of the 20th Army Philip Ershakov (died in a concentration camp) was taken prisoner.
However, the heroic resistance of the encircled Soviet troops allowed the Headquarters to restore the front in the Moscow direction.
It was a huge success for the German army. Nazi propaganda triumphed.
On October 9, 1941, the head of the Imperial Information Directorate stated that
"The outcome of the war is decided, and Russia is finished."
The newspaper "Völkischer Beobachter" ("People's Observer", mouthpiece of the NSDAP) on October 13 reported:
“On a vast front, advancing German units are marching and rolling to the east. There are no words to describe the size of the Soviet defeat! "
The German generals were also victorious.
General Blumentritt, Chief of Staff of the 4th Army, wrote:
“It seemed that Moscow was about to fall.
Everyone in Army Group Center became very optimistic.
From Field Marshal von Bock to the soldier, everyone hoped that soon we would be marching through the streets of the Russian capital. "
Everyone in Army Group Center became very optimistic.
From Field Marshal von Bock to the soldier, everyone hoped that soon we would be marching through the streets of the Russian capital. "
Tanks Pz. Kpfw. 38 (t) of the 7th Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht during the offensive on Moscow. October 1941
Tank KV-1 from the 4th Tank Brigade of the 1st Special Guards Rifle Corps, knocked out on October 4, 1941 on the northeastern outskirts of the city of Oryol during reconnaissance in force
On October 14, the German command issued an order to continue the Moscow operation.
It noted that the enemy was defeated, the remnants of the Russians were retreating. 4th Army and 4th Panzer Group were to strike directly at Moscow, encircling it from the west, south and north. Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army (2nd Panzer Group converted into an army on October 5) was ordered to cover the Russian capital from the southeast, and then from the east. The 2nd Army was ordered to advance on Yelets and Bogoroditsk, covering the southern flank of Guderian's army. Strauss's 9th Army and Gotha's 3rd Panzer Group attacked around Moscow from the north.
The Nazis sought to complete the operation in October, to break the last resistance of the Russians.
Thus, Army Group Center broke through the front, surrounded and defeated the armies of the Bryansk, Western and Reserve fronts. The Germans, using wide gaps in the Soviet defense, quickly moved forward and by mid-October reached the line of Mtsensk, Kaluga, Borodino and Kalinin, that is, they covered two-thirds of the way to Moscow.
Moscow was in mortal danger.
However, the battle for Moscow has just begun. With extraordinary efforts, the Soviet Headquarters restored the defenses on the approaches to Moscow. The closer to the Soviet capital, the more stubborn and stronger became the resistance of the Russians.
So, Lelushenko's 1st Guards Rifle Corps from the Mtsensk region hit Guderian's group. In the area of Mtsensk - Oryol, a fierce battle went on for nine days. German tanks were detained in the Oryol region and were not allowed to break through to the capital in the shortest directions: Oryol - Tula - Moscow and Bryansk - Moscow.
When the defense of the Western and Reserve Fronts collapsed, the way to Moscow was opened for the enemy, and the Headquarters began to transfer divisions from the strategic reserve and neighboring fronts. Before the arrival of the reserve, an emergency mobilization of all possible forces was carried out that could cover Moscow and gain time at the cost of their death. For this, divisions and units of the NKVD, garrisons, destroyer battalions, schools, institutes and academies stationed in Moscow and the Moscow region were involved.
For example, the infantry and artillery schools of Podolsk, the Moscow Military-Political Academy and the Military-Political School, which were ordered to take up defenses near Maloyaroslavets and Mozhaisk, were raised on alert. The consolidated regiment of the military school named after the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, raised in the camps near Solnechnogorsk (1 cadets and 4 guns), went to the Volokolamsk fortified area.
On October 10, the Western and Reserve Fronts were united into one Western Front under the command of Zhukov. He began to create a new defensive front on the Volokolamsk - Mozhaisk - Maloyaroslavets - Kaluga line.
From the strategic reserve and neighboring fronts, 11 rifle divisions, 16 tank brigades and other units are being transferred to this direction. The remnants of the divisions that escaped from the cauldrons were also used. They cover the main directions. At the same time, new armies are being formed: the 5th Army of Leliushenko (in the Mozhaisk direction), the 43rd army of Akimov (the Maloyaroslavets direction), the 49th army of Zakharkin (the Kaluga direction), the 16th army of Rokossovsky (in the Volokolamsk direction).
Already on October 13, fierce battles began in all main directions. The front was generally restored.
Soldiers of the calculation of the Soviet 122-mm corps gun A-19 are preparing a gun for battle at a position near Moscow
Soviet T-34 tanks on the march during the fighting on the Borodino field near Moscow. October 1941