Dear friends, a letter was sent to the site http://delostalina.ru, in which there was the following wish: “... I would like to know the truth about the role of L. Mehlis in the Crimean tragedy 1942 of the year ...”. We asked to answer the question of the famous historian Arsen Martirosyan
From the tragedy of the Crimean front they concocted one of the most convoluted and most complex myths in all the mythology about the Great Patriotic War - the myth that the Supreme Commander Stalin specifically sent his dull dog in military affairs, but “faithful dog” L. Mehlis, to he held command in fear, as a result of which the Crimean catastrophe eventually occurred. The fact is that due to both objective and subjective circumstances, including not without insidious malicious intent, lies and truth, courage and meanness, heroism and cowardice, hopeless stupidity and exact prediction of the development of the situation are closely interwoven, non-fulfillment military duty and elements of betrayal, and even hidden, but not too hidden anti-Semitism. In short, mixed up such that the devil break his leg. And it is necessary to understand. Oh, as it should be - one cannot be content with a single lie or a little proof of truth.
Oddly enough, but you will have to start with anti-Semitism. Yes, from him, because the center of attraction for all the lies of this myth is the figure of the representative of the Headquarters of the Supreme Command, the deputy people's commissar of defense, that is, Stalin himself, the chief commissar of the Red Army Lev Zakharovich Mehlis, a Jew by nationality. It is on his figure that all those extreme opposites that are so characteristic of the analyzed myth are tightly intertwined, or rather deliberately intertwined. The man who wrote the book “Mekhlis. The Leader's Shadow "(M., 2007) - Doctor historical Sci. Yuri Rubtsov, - right on the cover of his printed work he made the following summary about the hero of his work: “The mere mention of the name of Lev Mehlis caused horror in many brave and honored generals. For many years this man was a real shadow of Stalin, his “second self” and in fact the master of the Red Army. He was so fanatically devoted to his leader and country that he didn’t stop at anything in order to accomplish the task. On the one hand, Mehlis is accused of having the blood of hundreds of innocent commanders on his hands, some of which he personally shot. On the other hand, he was respected by ordinary soldiers, whom he always cared about. On the one hand, Mehlis was one of the main perpetrators of the defeat of the first months of World War II and the collapse of the Crimean Front in the spring of 1942. On the other hand, his inflexibility and hardness more than once saved the troops in the most desperate situations. Was Mehlis the embodiment of evil? Or did he simply personify his controversial time? These questions are answered by a new book by the Doctor of Historical Sciences Yuri Rubtsov, created on the basis of archival documents that were only recently kept under the “Top Secret” label.
So what gives such an application about the content of the book? Why pre-tune readers into the fact that Mehlis is the fiend of hell, which is to blame for the Crimean catastrophe ?! Does this help to establish the truth? Do all the documents and facts cited by the distinguished colleague on the pages of the book unequivocally indicate the guilt of Mehlis alone and only ?! Yes, it is well known that in our historiography about war there is absolute dislike, if not worse, for the personality of Mehlis. Who is the only one who does not drift him ?! What are the only stones and clumps of dirt do not throw in his address? And what, is it all fair ?! Yes, the mere fact that absolute dislike for Mehlis reigns should already be alarming. Because fundamentally similar phenomena of universal insanity or hatred for one particular person mean only one thing - behind all this lies a skillfully directed from behind the scenes, supposedly a general, but not just righteous desire to blind from one, quite possibly, truly ambiguous person responsible for all tragedies . In general, all the facts testify to this.
Yes, indeed, Lev Zakharovich was not a very simple person. He was harsh, sometimes even very, often straightforward in assessments and requirements. To put it mildly, he did not like diplomacy. Almond - too. It was tough, including on the verge of cruelty, and sometimes, during the war years, and overtook this boundary, if that, of course, required the situation. And at the same time he was principled, brave, really possessed an unbending will, a strong character. Unfortunately, he did not have a military education at the academy level and did not have leadership talents, like the great Rokossovsky, whom, by the way, he highly valued and shortly before the disastrous spring of the Crimean Front, which had become obvious to him in the near future, asked Stalin to appoint him the commander of the Crimean front, in order to save the front. Alas, due to a severe injury, Rokossovsky was then in the hospital. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that during the Civil War, Mehlis gained a unique experience in forming formations and commanders in offensive and defensive battles with an exceptionally strong adversary — the most talented general of the White Army, Lieutenant-General Ya.A. Slashchev. Of course, the experience of the Civil War is one thing, and the Great Patriotic War is completely different. Nevertheless, to call Mekhlis a complete oak in military affairs, neither tongue nor arm is turned. He understood and even very well understood Lev Zakharovich what war is. But the commander was still not.
On top of that, Mehlis never hesitated to talk in the forehead, including writing, about the worst mistakes (by the way, also about his own) of the command with which he had served, his miscalculations, bashfulness, sloppiness, negligence, disdain for simple soldiers and officers, cowardice on the verge of treason and betrayal, etc. Mehlis mastered the various propaganda techniques characteristic of his time. He had a developed intuition for meanness, cowardice, negligence and other shortcomings, which he had seen enough while he was People's Commissar of State Control. For that, by the way, he was pretty hated even before the war. Was educated and erudite. He always spoke with pathos, but I must give him his due, sincerely. He always sincerely believed in what he was talking about. No matter how many critical arrows were let in his address, Lev Zakharovich was able to quickly grasp the end of the “Ariadne thread” and quickly unwind even the most complicated ball of acute problems. Of course, he didn’t do without his usual manner of seeing everything either in white or black, but the fact remains that he quickly picked up the essence of the problem he was sent to solve. By the way, when I realized that I was wrong, I never hesitated to admit it. Including before subordinates (once he made such a confession to General Gorbatov).
It is impossible not to admit that if he were not a Jew, but as a stubborn Russian peasant, then, quite possibly, he would have been forgiven much. In a pinch, they simply would not have remembered him. And, of course, many of the “brave and honored generals” would not have recalled Mehlis with horror. However, unfortunately, even in the post-war memoirs, barely concealed anti-Semitism in some parts of our generals of the wartime will not put it anywhere. In addition to all this, to his misfortune Mehlis was also the chief commissar of the Red Army. But I must honestly say that they could not bear commissioners in the army. About a year before the war, believing that after the purging of a new generation of generals could be trusted, Stalin once again eliminated the institution of commissars introduced even after the defeat of the Tukhachevsky conspiracy. However, already in July, 1941, seeing that the generals were brazenly doing, how they were destroying the army and the country, Stalin was forced to restore this institution, because at that time the command really needed to be watched. And one Special Department was not enough. This is the cruel truth of war, which must be a priori recognized.
This is to the fact that, not trying to make Lev Zakharovich a kind of cherub or an angel with wings, I can not agree at the same time that all the “dogs” are undeservedly hanged on him, including for the disaster of the Crimean Front. And they present the matter in such a way that it is he, Lev Zakharovich Mehlis, who is the main guilty party in this disaster. This, as they say, is the general background that you need to know before embarking on an attempt to understand what is happening in the history of the Crimean Front. And for this we will have to briefly go over its main milestones.
Mehlis arrived on the Crimean Front (until January 28, 1942 - the Caucasian Front) on January 20. On the eve of his arrival on this front in the status of plenipotentiary representative of the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command, the front troops successfully carried out the Kerch-Feodosiya landing operation (25.12.41-02.01.42) and seized an important bridgehead. In connection with this front commander, Lieutenant General D.T. Kozlov was instructed by the Supreme Command to speed up the concentration of forces in every way, for which it was allowed to transfer additional forces (47th Army) and no later than January 12 to go on a general offensive with the support of the Black Sea fleet. The offensive failed. Usually this failure is described in such a way that the Soviet command underestimated the strength and capabilities of the enemy. By the way, this insanely inadequate to the realities of war Zhukov's wording appears in the description of almost every failed operation. Inevitably, here you will recall the famous saying about what prevented the dancer ... In fact, the offensive was frustrated due to the lack of a well-thought-out plan, as well as clear material and technical and combat support for troops landed in Crimea. What is primarily expressed in the lack of transport vessels for the transfer of manpower from the "mainland", artillery, special units. And with the provision of troops with ammunition and fuel, the situation was generally disastrous. There is no reason not to believe the conclusions just quoted by the former commander of the 44th Army, who participated in this operation, Major General A.N. Pervushina. Further, weather conditions intervened - the onset of the thaw made field airfields completely unusable. Affected and the favorite mess of our generals of that time - the lack of normal communications, air defense equipment. All this led to the fact that after the Germans took possession of Theodosius, the front commander General Kozlov decided to withdraw troops to Ak-Monai positions - a defensive line about 80 km from Kerch. In such a situation, Mehlis arrived at the front. He was sent to strengthen the leadership of the front. As many researchers note, here for the first time he received almost the highest degree of independence as a representative of the Headquarters.
Two days after the arrival, Mehlis sent Stalin a telegram of the following content: “The 20.01.42 flew to Kerch. The most unattractive picture of the organization of command and control of the troops was caught ... No divisions have data on the number of people, the presence of artillery and mortars. Kozlov leaves the impression of a confused and uncertain commander. None of the leaders of the front since the occupation of the Kerch Peninsula in the army was not ... "1
1 TsA MO f. 32, op. 11309, d. 139, l. 17.
Usually, this telegram is described as follows: the self-confident Mehlis “had enough” of two days to get an idea of the state of affairs at the front. And where does the arrogance of Mehlis? Even if what he wrote to Stalin corresponded to the real situation by at least one percent — I specifically reduce it a hundred times — then all the same, his conclusion is objective and alarming. The command of the front does not fulfill its duties. In fact, Mehlis was right for one hundred percent. Because the main provisions of this telegram were recorded in the order of the front troops No. 12 from 23 in January 1942, the order was signed by Kozlov himself, a member of the Military Council of the front, F.A. Shamanin and Mehlis. That is, if for some simple reason, Kozlov himself confirmed that all this is true truth.
Why was Mehlis completely right ?! Yes, because the front command was in ... Tbilisi. And from there, sitting in the warm offices of the district headquarters, led the fighting! From a thousand kilometers away! But is it possible to lead the fighting of the whole front? If the commander does not see and does not know what exactly is going on at the front, where the enemy is, what is the condition of our troops, how is defense being built on the ground, etc. etc., then, I'm sorry, this is not the front command, but just a mess, fraught with the most negative consequences. Mehlis quickly figured out what was wrong. And immediately put before Stavka the question of separating the front from the Caucasus into an independent Crimean one. Moreover, he raised the question of shifting the control of the troops of the Crimean Front to the Kerch Peninsula. At the same time, Mehlis immediately requested replenishment in manpower (three rifle divisions), began to demand urgent restoration of order in artillery, air defense, and logistic support. The order number 12 from 23 January 1942 and said: “1. The command of armies, divisions, regiments to take into account the experience of fighting 15-18.01.42, immediately restore order in the units ... Regimental artillery and artillery of anti-tank guns (anti-tank. - AM) have infantry in combat formations ...
2. Panicked and deserters shot on the spot as traitors. Caught in the deliberate wound of left-handed gunmen, shoot in front of the line.
3. In three days to restore full order in the rear ... "1.
1 APRF, f. 5, op. 50, d. 441, l. 32-36.
It should be added to this that Mehlis carefully checked the condition of the air force and the artillery of the front, on which its combat capability depended to a decisive degree. It turned out that due to poor material and technical support on the Kerch Peninsula, 110 had accumulated inoperable aircraft, as a result of which less than one departure was made a day. Artillery readiness was low. Lev Zakharovich was not lazy and checked the status of military intelligence - it turned out that she was poorly placed. And commanders of all levels are responsible for this, starting with the front commander. For if intelligence does not work well, then the consequences are always catastrophic.
Mehlis quickly got additional arms from the General Headquarters and the General Staff - the front received 450 light machine guns, 3 thousand PPSh, 50 120 mm caliber mortars and 50 82 mm caliber guns, as well as two M-8 rocket divisions. The issue of allocating an additional amount to the front was resolved. tanks, including HF, anti-tank rifles and their ammunition, other weapons and equipment. Moreover. Mehlis immediately set about strengthening the front command with experienced personnel. Already on January 24, a new front air force commander was appointed - Major General aviation EAT. Nikolaenko. A little later, the new deputy front commander, Major General A.F. Khrenov, the new head of the political department - Brigadier Commissar S.S. Emelyanov. In addition, in anticipation of the planned offensive, Mehlis also managed to send a large number of political workers at various levels to the front. Two divisional commissars, 15 regiment commissars, 45 battalion level officers, 23 military divisions of artillery divisions and batteries, 15 propaganda instructors, 7 political workers to work in divisions formed from immigrants from the Transcaucasian republics, 4 propaganda specialists among the Germans. Then, also at the request of the Mehlis, another 1030 political fighters and 225 deputy political officers were sent to the front. Strengthening the forces of the front, Mehlis nevertheless, to the displeasure of Stalin, when meeting 15 in person with him in February 1942, required additional time to prepare the front for the offensive. That is, he did not at all strive to fulfill the orders of the Stake at any cost. And Stalin agreed with him, although, I emphasize this, I was very unhappy with the forced postponement of the already planned offensive. But the arguments of Mehlis worked. So, if we summarize all this, then is it not obvious that the representative of the Stake has thoroughly understood the essence of the problems that literally crushed the front?! As regards clause No. 2 of the above order, it should not be considered as a manifestation of Mehlis’s particular bloodthirstiness. In this case, he only carried out the Stalinist order No. 270 from 16.08.1941. Not to mention that, to my deep regret, there was still an urgent need for that.
And what happened next ?! Is Mehlis guilty of the tragedy repeatedly played out at the front ?! If objectively, then far less than front command. Because the commander and chief of staff of the front are personally responsible for the hostilities, and especially for their organization. However, when the planned offensive began on February 9, 27, the “valiant” command of the Crimean Front — Commander General Kozlov and Chief of Staff General Tolbukhin — instead of allowing the German Defense Forces to break through the German defense of the Kerch Peninsula, The T-1942 was brought to the front in large numbers, and the infantry was sent forward, which the Germans threw mercilessly, as there was nowhere to hide. Thus, if we proceed from the descriptions of the writer K. Simonov who was present on the Crimean front in those days, did they check the tank accessibility of the area ?! They checked them for three days, driving them ... chasing the infantry into senseless attacks without any cover, putting thousands of people for nothing! The 34 Soviet divisions were advancing against three German and one Romanian. And the irretrievable losses are simply fantastic (by April, already 13 thousands of people!). Mehlis literally howled from such a command, and already on March 225 sent Stalin a request to immediately remove Kozlov and Tolbukhin and appoint normal generals. They took only Tolbukhin. Mehlis doesn’t calm down, and 9 in March again insists in writing to Stalin on the removal of Kozlov, and already gives a summary summary to him - in two months I’ve seen enough. The summary is not in the eyebrow, but directly in the general's eye: unintelligent, lazy, “the man who has devoured the master” is not interested in operational issues, regards trips to the troops as “punishment”, is not known in the troops of the front, does not enjoy prestige, painstaking, daily work is not loves.
Stalin did not change Kozlov. Why? Maybe then Stalin is to blame ?! Firstly, Mehlis asked to remove Kozlov and appoint one of the following generals to the position of commander: N.K. Klykova, but he commanded the 2 th shock army that had broken through to Leningrad. At that moment it was impossible to change it. K.K. Rokossovsky, who, as noted above, at that moment was treated in a hospital after being seriously wounded. N.K. Lviv, commander of 51-th army, whom he met on the Kerch Peninsula. For some reason, this candidacy did not attract the attention of Stalin. Secondly, not in justification, but only in explanation of Stalin’s position, I consider it correct to point out the following. Stalin was forced to reckon with the fact that the war had not yet forged enough talented and strong commanders to appoint them to the most difficult sections. And from the realization of this damned compulsion, he himself was forced to be content with the human material that was available. What can you do, and Stalin, too, is far from all under the force, it all took time ...
By the beginning of May 1942, the situation at the front was close to critical. As a result of Kozlov's “gallant” command, a situation arose in which the grouping of front forces, while retaining all the offensive signs, could not go on the offensive - it was constantly postponed. Moreover. The defense is not strengthened. And in this case there is every reason to say that the defense was not strengthened in the most criminal way. Why?! Yes, because the Supreme Commander Stalin back in October - November 1941 gave orders on the construction of fortifications in the North Caucasus Military District three times. Including in the area of the future of the Crimean Front (in order to avoid repetition, the content of these orders is given below in connection with the preparations for the Battle of Stalingrad, since they also deal with the defense of Stalingrad). But after all, no shit was done. And this in wartime conditions is called only by one term - a crime.
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Comment. It so happened - a crime. 6 May 1942. The Stavka issued an order to go over the front to defense. But the defense must rely on something. And this support was not. Already during the May breakthrough of our defenses by the Germans, the Headquarters gave Kozlov an indication of the following content: “1) The entire 47 army should immediately begin to withdraw behind the Turkish shaft, organizing a rear guard and covering the withdrawal by aircraft. Without this, there will be a risk of being taken prisoner ... 3) You can organize a strike by the forces of the 51 army so that this army can be gradually withdrawn beyond the Turkish wall. 4) The remnants of the army 44 also need to take over the Turkish shaft. 5) Mehlis and Kozlov must immediately start organizing defense on the line of the Turkish Wall. 6) We do not object to the transfer of headquarters to the place you specified. 7) We strongly oppose the departure of Kozlov and Mehlis to the Lvov group. Take all measures to ensure that the artillery, especially large, was concentrated behind the Turkish shaft, as well as a number of anti-tank regiments. 9) If you can and will have time to hold the enemy in front of the Turkish shaft, we will consider this an achievement ... "1. But after all neither the Turkish shaft, nor Kerch contours were not equipped in the engineering relation and did not represent a serious obstacle for Germans. But the orders for the construction of fortifications on the Kerch Peninsula, I emphasize this again, were given as early as October - November 1941! So how do you order it to evaluate?
1 TsAMO RF, f. 32, op. 11309, d. 140, l. 341-345.
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Worse. All three armies of the front were deployed in one echelon, which sharply reduced the depth of defense and even more sharply limited the ability to repel enemy strikes in the event of a breakthrough.. I do not think that a special explanation is needed for the fact that the commander and the chief of staff of the front are responsible for the deployment and the correct formation of troops for solving various tasks, and not the representative of the Headquarters, whoever he is. But when, in May, the Germans launched a decisive offensive, their main attack came precisely in the most unfortunate, rather insanely criminal, construction of the troops of General S.I.'s 44 army. Chernyak. Insanely criminal construction of the troops of this army - because the second echelon of this army was only in 3-4 km from the front edge, which allowed the Nazis even without changing their artillery positions to smash down even the operational defense of the army, and not just tactical. What they did. They crushed the entire 44 nd army.
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By the way, be curious what kind of opinion Mehlis had about General Chernyak: “Chernyak. Illiterate man, unable to lead the army. His chief of staff, Rozhdestvensky, is a boy, not a troop organizer. You can marvel, whose hand introduced Chernyak to the rank of lieutenant general. "
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Further. For some reason, almost all researchers angrily mock about the fact that on the eve of the German offensive a Croatian pilot flew over to our side, who warned about the offensive, but, they say, Mehlis did not believe it. And in connection with which such an attitude ?! After all, in reality, the front command is to blame, not Mehlis. Even Yu. Rubtsov himself even points out that firstly, the pilot’s information was confirmed by other data, and secondly, on the night of May 7, the military council of the Crimean Front sent the necessary orders to the troops, but this was done so slowly that by the morning they did not even reach all the commanders armies! Worse. 8 May 1942 Mr. Mehlis sent a telegram to Stalin in which he wrote: “Now is not the time to complain, but I have to report that General Headquarters know the front commander. 7 on May, that is, on the eve of the enemy offensive, Kozlov convened a military council to discuss the draft of a future operation to capture Koy Aksan. I recommended to postpone this project and immediately give instructions to the armies in connection with the expected offensive of the enemy. In the signed order of the commander in several places, he pointed out that the offensive is expected to be 10-15 in May, and suggested that we work out an army defense plan with all the commanders, commanders and staffs. This was done when the whole situation of the past day showed that in the morning the enemy would advance. At my insistence, the orientation was erroneous in terms. Kozlov also resisted the advancement of additional forces to the 10 Army. ”
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Comment. Doesn't this remind you anything ?! That's right, Tymoshenko and Zhukov behaved exactly the same way, failing with the most important directive No. 1 until late at night, as a result of which, even according to Zhukov, she left for the districts only in 00.30 June 22 minutes, because of which she was deciphered locally already under the roar of barbaric bombing and Nazi artillery raids. Worse. Similarly, in the orders to camouflage the district air forces on the eve of the war, both of the cool star completely disoriented the command of the districts in terms of the forthcoming attack! And despite the fact that 18 of June 1941 was passed to the border districts of Stalin's directive on bringing their troops into full combat readiness in connection with the expected attack of the Nazis !? After that - disguising orders for disguise ?! You can’t think up anything deliberately! .. And the commander of the Crimean front behaves in the same way: all data hits right in the eye - tomorrow the Germans will launch an offensive, and he specifies the 10-15 deadline in May on the front order, and everyone can work out a defense plan before 10, which long ago was supposed to be ready. He should always be ready and only be adjusted in the course of the action depending on the situation.
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In response to his telegram, in which he once again asked to change Kozlov, Mehlis received a very irritated message from Stalin: “You hold the strange position of an outside observer who is not responsible for the affairs of the Crimea Front. This position is very convenient, but it is rotten through and through. On the Crimean front, you are not an outside observer, but a responsible representative of the Stake responsible for all the successes and failures of the front and obliged to correct command errors on the spot. Together with the command you are responsible for the fact that the left flank of the front turned out to be very weak. If “the whole situation showed that in the morning the enemy would attack,” and you did not take all measures to organize repulse, confining yourself to passive criticism, then so much the worse for you. So, you have not yet understood that you were sent to the Crimea front not as a State Control, but as a responsible representative of the Headquarters.
You demand that we replace Kozlov with someone like Hindenburg. But you can not know that we do not have in reserve Hindenburg ... If you used attack aircraft not for side effects, but against tanks and enemy manpower, the enemy would not break through the front and the tanks would not pass. You do not need to be Hindenburg to understand this simple thing, sitting for two months on the Crimea Front »1.
1 Quote by: Rubtsov Y. Mehlis. Shadow of the leader. M., 2007, p. 364.
Formally, it appears that Mehlis seems to have deservedly received "nuts." Especially when you consider that Stalin then withdrew him from the front and demoted him. In fact, the opposite happened. Stalin became angry that at the most crucial moment, Mehlis, who saw perfectly well that Kozlov simply could not cope with his duties of the com-front, did not switch command of himself. Understanding Mehlis is also possible and necessary. After all, formally, the representative of the Stavka had no right to completely substitute the front commander. He was obliged to help him. But Kozlov, meanwhile, is very cleverly settled - once Mehlis takes care of everything, well, so let him be responsible for everything. Kozlov got his from Stalin. Yes, as received! But he is not remembered as the primary culprit for the failure of the Crimea Front. All the bumps are falling on the head of Mehlis. And not for the fact that he, unlike the commander, was desperately trying to change the situation of the wild mess that led to the tragedy. And only for the fact that he openly demanded to change General Kozlov for his frank professional unsuitability. That is, because he simply attacked the holy of holies of the generals - the general may be free to use an oak tree in military affairs, but no one has the right to raise his hand to the status of a general. That is why Mehlis in the post-war period was blamed for all the responsibility. With his demands for a change of commander, he raised the gigantic problem of the professional unsuitability of a significant part of the generals. For what he was slandered. Especially since he was a commissar, and the generals of commissars hated. Such is the hard truth about the affairs of Mehlis on the Crimean front.