As before, the controversy over why the colossal military catastrophe that has happened to our country 22 June 1941 and which has brought incalculable disasters to our people has not abated.
It would seem that the Soviet leadership before the war did everything possible and even impossible to prepare the country and people for severe trials. A powerful material base was created, tens of thousands of units were issued tanks, aircraft, artillery and other military equipment. The Red Army, despite the unsuccessful war with Finland (although it was waged in difficult winter conditions and ended with a breakthrough of the Finnish powerful reinforced concrete fortifications), persistently learned to fight in conditions as close to combat as possible. Soviet intelligence seemed to “report accurately” and all of Hitler’s secrets were on Stalin’s table.
So what are the reasons for the fact that the nazi armies could easily break through the Soviet defenses and find themselves at the walls of Moscow? Is it right for all the fatal miscalculations to put the blame on one person - Stalin?
MISSION OF MILITARY CONSTRUCTION
The quantitative, and in many respects and quality indicators of the work done in the USSR, especially in the field of the production of military equipment, were gigantic. If by the end of the 1920-ies the Soviet armed forces had only 89 tanks and 1394 aircraft (and mostly foreign models), by June 1941 they already had almost 19 thousand domestic tanks, among them a first-class tank T- 34, as well as more than 16 thousand combat aircraft (see table).
The trouble is that the Soviet political and military leadership failed to reasonably manage the created means of warfare, and the Red Army was unprepared for a major war. This begs the question: what are the reasons?
It is indisputable that, first of all, it is the regime of Stalin’s sole authority established in 1930, in which not even the most insignificant issue of military construction was resolved by the military department without its sanction.
It was the Stalinist regime that was guilty of the fact that just before the war, the Soviet armed forces were in fact decapitated. By the way, Hitler, in deciding on the immediate preparation for an attack on the USSR, especially on the timing of the aggression, gave this fact paramount importance. In January, 1941, at a meeting with representatives of the command of the Wehrmacht, he said: “For the defeat of Russia the question of time is very important. Although the Russian army is a clay colossus without a head, its future development is difficult to predict. Since Russia should be broken in any way, it is better to do it now, when the Russian army does not have leaders ... ”.
On the eve of 22 in June 1941, the fleet of Soviet armored vehicles was mainly represented by obsolete models of weapons
Repressions created fear among the commanding staff, fear of responsibility, and therefore lack of initiative, which could not but affect the level of management and the work of the command personnel. This is not out of sight of German intelligence. So, in the “Information about the enemy in the east” - the latest report from 12 of June 1941 noted: “The characteristic features of the Russians: sluggishness, pattern, indecision and fear of responsibility ... Commanders of all links in the near future are still unsuitable for the skillful management of large modern compounds. They are incapable and unlikely to be able to carry out large operations of an offensive war, quickly enter into battle in a favorable environment and act independently in the framework of a common operation. ”
In connection with the repression, but mainly due to the constant adjustment of plans for military construction by the political leadership of the country, in 1940-1941. The military commander had to make decisions on the expansion of the network of training command and command personnel simultaneously with the start of organizational measures related to the increase in the number of armed forces, including the commanding staff. This, on the one hand, led to a huge shortage of commanders. On the other hand, people with insufficient work experience came to command positions.
In the course of the reorganization of the armed forces begun in 1940, fatal miscalculations were made that had literally disastrous consequences. A large number of new formations and units were formed with an unjustifiably large number of main types of military equipment. A paradoxical situation arose: in the presence of almost 19, thousands of tanks in the Red Army were able to fully equip them with only one of the 29 mechanized corps.
In 1940, the Soviet military command abandoned aviation armies, subordinating the main part of combat aviation (84,2% of all aircraft) to the command of combined arms formations (fronts and armies). This led to the decentralized use of aviation, which contradicted the general trend in the development of this highly maneuverable long-range weapon of warfare. In the Wehrmacht, on the contrary, all aviation was organizationally consolidated into several large operational-strategic formations (in the form of air fleets), it was not subordinate to the combined-arms command, but only interacted with ground forces.
Many of the mistakes in military construction in the USSR on the eve of the war stemmed from excessive adherence to the experience of the fighting of the Red Army in local conflicts (Spain, Soviet campaign in the western regions of Ukraine and Belarus), as well as the inability of the inexperienced, poorly trained in professional respect, and a military leadership without independence to objectively assess the experience of the great war that the Wehrmacht waged in Europe since September 1939.
The largest miscalculation of the Soviet military-political leadership has allowed in the ratio of means of armed struggle. Back in 1928, when planning the first five-year plan of military construction, priority was given to the creation of the basic means of warfare — artillery, tanks, and combat aircraft. The basis for this was the conclusion that in order to conduct successful operations, the Red Army needed highly mobile and well-armed units for the intended theater of operations (motorized rifle-and-machine-gun units reinforced by large tank units armed with high-speed tanks and motorized artillery; large cavalry units but unconditionally reinforced armor (automobile armored vehicles, high-speed tanks) and fire weapons; large airborne units). In principle, this decision was correct. However, at some stage the production of these means took on such hypertrophied dimensions that the USSR not only caught up with its main potential opponents, but also significantly surpassed them. In particular, the production of an enormous number of so-called “motorway tanks”, which had developed their resources to 1938, was established. Their condition, according to experts, “was terrible”. For the most part, they were simply lying in the territories of military units with faulty engines, transmissions, etc., and the majority were also disarmed. Spare parts were missing, and repairs were made only by dismantling some tanks to restore others.
The soldiers of the Red Army in the classroom for combat training
Errors were also made in the course of the reorganization of the armed forces. First of all, it was carried out in the troops of the border military districts, and it covered them almost completely. As a result, a significant part of the combat-ready, well-coordinated and manned compounds turned out to be disbanded by the beginning of the war.
Due to miscalculations in determining the necessary and possible number of formations, as well as errors in the organizational structure of the troops and for other reasons, the main part of the planned activities was incomplete, which had an extremely negative impact on the combat capability of the armed forces as a whole, but especially the tank forces, aviation, airborne troops, anti-tank artillery RGC and troops of fortified areas. Not fully equipped, they had low mobility, training and coordination.
In 1939-1940 the main part of the Soviet troops located in the west was redeployed to the new territories annexed to the USSR. This had a negative effect on the combat readiness and combat capability of those units and formations that were forced to engage in battle with the German aggressor on 22 on June 1941. The fact is that the redeployment violated plans for the mobilization and strategic deployment of Soviet troops in the west in case of war, and the development of new plans was not fully completed. The troops and headquarters could not master them sufficiently.
According to the testimony of Marshal S.S. Biryuzova, Chief of the General Staff B.M. Shaposhnikov offered K.E. Voroshilov and I.V. To Stalin, leave the main forces of the troops east of the old border, on which well-fortified defensive lines were already built, and in the new territories have only mobile troops together with strong engineering parts of the barrier. According to Shaposhnikov, in the event of an attack by an aggressor, they will conduct restraining hostilities from frontier to frontier, thereby gaining time to mobilize and create groups of main forces on the old border line. However, Stalin, who believed that not a single inch of his land should not be given to the enemy, but should be smashed on his own territory, rejected this offer. He ordered the main forces of the troops to concentrate in the newly attached areas, i.e. very close to the border with Germany.
The troops entered into the new territories were forced to be deployed in unequipped theaters of military operations. What this led to is shown by the example of aviation. The airfields available in the new territories only half met the needs of the air forces of the western military districts, therefore 40% of the air regiments were based on two at one airfield, i.e. more than 120 aircraft on each, at a rate of two or three airfields per regiment. The sad consequences are known: in the conditions of a sudden attack of the Wehrmacht, a huge number of Soviet aircraft were destroyed on the ground from the first raid.
The Soviet General Headquarters was constrained by the need to coordinate all its decisions of principle with I.V. By Stalin
The fact that during the war with Finland the Red Army had to break through long-term deep defenses, and powerful long-term fortifications were also erected on the borders of several European countries, served as a weighty reason for the Soviet leadership to decide on the construction of long-term defensive lines along the new western border. This expensive event required a huge amount of effort, money and time. Neither the one nor the other, nor the third from the leadership of the USSR was not. By the beginning of the war, about a quarter of the planned work had been completed.
At that time, headed by the engineering troops of the Red Army, A.F. After the war, Khrenov recalled that he and Deputy Defense Commissar B.M. Shaposhnikov, who was entrusted with the task of directing the defensive construction at the border, suggested first to build not concrete, but light field fortifications. This would allow creating conditions for maintaining a sustainable defense as quickly as possible, and only then gradually building more powerful concrete structures. However, this plan was rejected. As a result, by June 1941, the planned works were far from completion: the construction plan for the fortifications could be completed only at 25%.
In addition, such a large enterprise had other negative consequences: significant funds were diverted from such important activities as the construction of roads and airfields, the creation of the necessary conditions for combat training of troops. Moreover, the lack of manpower and the desire to save money have forced on a large scale to attract combat units to the construction, which had a detrimental effect on their combat readiness.
Unlike the Wehrmacht, where the youngest soldiers in the active army were the recruits of the autumn 1940, and the recruits of the spring recruitment 1941 were sent first to the reserve army, in the Red Army the rank and file of the additional spring recruitment (April-May) 1941 were delivered immediately same in operation. In the troops of the border military districts, the soldiers of the first year of service accounted for more than two-thirds of the total number of privates, almost half of which were called up in 1941
OPERATIONAL STRATEGIC CALCULATIONS
By the spring of 1940, as a result of the annexation of new territories to the USSR, a significant part of the Soviet troops changed their disposition. By this time, the Soviet armed forces had increased significantly. Their plan of action, adopted in 1938-1939, completely ceased to correspond to the situation. Therefore, the basics of the new plan were developed by the General Staff for the summer of 1940. Already in October, after some revision, this plan was approved by the country's political leadership. In February, 1941, after completing the mobilization part of the war plan in the General Staff, began to develop their mobilization plans in the districts. Complete all planning was scheduled for May. However, due to the formation of new formations that continued until June 21 and the continued redeployment of troops, planning was not completed.
The ideas of the first operations were constantly corrected, however, in the main, since October 1940 they have remained unchanged.
It was believed that the Soviet Union "must be prepared to fight on two fronts: in the west - against Germany, supported by Italy, Hungary, Romania and Finland, and in the east - against Japan." Allowed also to speak on the side of the fascist bloc and Turkey. West was recognized as the main theater of military operations, and Germany was the main adversary. In recent months, before the war, it was expected that, together with the allies, it would deploy 230-240 divisions against the USSR, more than 20,5 thousand guns; about 11 thousand tanks and over 11 thousand aircraft of all types. It was assumed that Japan would deploy 50-60 divisions in the east, almost 9 thousand guns, more than 1 thousand tanks and 3 thousand aircraft.
In total, therefore, according to the General Staff, the likely adversaries could oppose the Soviet Union 280-300 divisions, approximately 30 thousand guns, 12 thousand tanks and 14-15 thousand aircraft.
Initially, the Chief of General Staff B.M. Shaposhnikov assumed that the main forces of the German army for an offensive would be deployed north of the mouth of the San river. Therefore, he proposed that the main forces of the Red Army be deployed north of Polesie to go on the offensive after repelling the attack of the aggressor.
However, this option was not adopted by the new leadership of the People's Commissariat of Defense. In September, 1940 Tymoshenko and Meretskov, while agreeing that Germany would strike the main blow north of the Pripyat River, still believed that the main deployment option for the Soviet troops should be one in which “the main forces would be concentrated south of Brest-Litovsk ".
All military planning in the USSR, starting with the 1920-ies. it was based on the fact that the Red Army will begin military actions in response to the attack of the aggressor. Moreover, its actions at the beginning of the war and in subsequent operations were thought only as offensive.
The idea of a retaliatory strike was still valid on the eve of the war. It was declared by political leaders in open speeches. She figured in closed sources and found a place in the training of commanders of the strategic and operational level. In particular, at the strategic military games held in January 1941 with the leadership of the fronts and armies, military operations began with strikes by the western side, i.e. adversary.
It was believed that the enemy would begin its operations with an invasion operation, for which he would already have a significant number of troops saturated with tanks in peacetime in the border zone. In accordance with this, the Soviet military leadership on the eve of the war held the strongest troops in the border areas. The armies stationed in them were more fully equipped with equipment, weapons and personnel. In addition to rifle formations, they included, as a rule, one or two mechanized corps and one or two aviation divisions. By the beginning of the war, 20 from the 29 mechanized corps of the Red Army was stationed in the western border military districts.
Most of the aircraft of Soviet aviation stationed on the airfields of the border military districts were destroyed in the first minutes of the war.
After repelling the enemy’s first strike and completing the deployment of Soviet troops in the west, it was intended to launch a decisive offensive with the aim of finally defeating the aggressor. It should be noted that Soviet military experts have long considered the south-western strategic direction the most advantageous for offensive actions against Germany and its allies in Europe. It was believed that the main strike from Belarus could lead to protracted battles and hardly promised to achieve decisive results in the war. Therefore, in September 1940, Tymoshenko and Meretskov proposed to create a main grouping of troops south of Pripyat.
At the same time, the leadership of the People's Commissariat of Defense undoubtedly knew Stalin's point of view. The Soviet leader, determining the likely direction of the main attack of the enemy in the west, believed that Germany would strive first of all to seize the economically developed regions — Ukraine and the Caucasus. Therefore, in October 1940, he ordered the military to proceed from the assumption that the German troops would deliver the main attack from the Lublin area to Kiev.
Thus, the achievement of the immediate strategic objectives was planned to be provided with offensive actions, first of all, of the troops of the southwestern direction, in which more than half of all divisions destined for the fronts in the west were to be deployed. While it was intended to concentrate 120 divisions in this direction, only 76 is in the north-west and west.
The main efforts of the fronts were concentrated in the armies of the first echelon, mainly due to the inclusion of most of the mobile units in them to ensure a strong initial strike on the enemy.
Since the strategic deployment plan and the plan of the first operations were designed to fully mobilize the army, they were closely linked to the mobilization plan, the latest version of which was adopted in February 1941. This plan did not provide for the formation of new units during the war. Mostly they proceeded from the fact that even in peacetime, the number of compounds necessary for its maintenance would be created. This simplified the mobilization process, shortened its deadlines and contributed to a higher degree of combat effectiveness of the mobilized troops.
At the same time, much of the human resources had to come from the depths of the country. This required a significant amount of inter-district traffic and the attraction of a large number of vehicles, which were insufficient. After the maximum permissible number of tractors and cars were removed from the national economy, the army would still be only 70 and 81%, respectively. The mobilization deployment of troops was not provided for a variety of other materiel.
Another problem was that due to the lack of storage facilities in the western military districts, half of their ammunition stocks were stored in the territory of the internal military districts, with a third at a distance of 500-700 km from the border. From 40 to 90% of the fuel reserves of the western military districts were stored in the warehouses of the Moscow, Oryol and Kharkov military districts, as well as at civilian oil depots in the interior of the country.
Thus, the lack of mobilization resources in the new areas of deployment of troops of the western border military districts, the limited capacity of available vehicles and communications complicated the mobilization and increased its duration.
The timely deployment of troops in order to create the envisaged groupings, their systematic mobilization were made directly dependent on the organization of a reliable cover. The tasks of the cover were assigned to the border military districts.
According to the plans, each army received a strip from 80 to 160 km and more for defense. In the first echelon of the armies rifle divisions were to operate. The basis of the army reserve was a mechanized corps, designed to deliver a counterattack against an enemy who broke through into the depths of the defense.
The front edge of the defense in most areas took place in close proximity to the border and coincided with the front edge of the defense of the fortified areas. For battalions of the second echelon regiments, not to mention units and subunits of the second echelon of divisions, positions were not created in advance.
Cover plans were designed for the presence of a threatened period. The units destined for defense directly at the border were deployed in 10-50 km from it. To occupy the areas assigned to them, it took from 3 to 9 and more than hours from the time the alarm was announced. Thus, it turned out that in the event of a sudden attack by an enemy deployed directly at the border, there could be no question of the timely withdrawal of Soviet troops to their borders.
The existing cover plan was designed for the ability of the political and military leadership to promptly disclose the aggressor’s intentions and take steps to deploy troops in advance, but he did not at all envisage a procedure for troop actions in the event of a sudden invasion. By the way, it wasn’t practiced at the last strategic war games in January 1941. Although the “Western” attacked first, the “Eastern” started practicing actions from going on the offensive or putting counterattacks in those areas where the “Western” managed to invade the territory Eastern. " It is characteristic that neither side nor the other side worked through the issues of mobilization, concentration and deployment, which were considered and really were the most difficult, especially in conditions when the enemy attacked first.
Thus, the Soviet plan of war was based on the idea of a retaliatory strike, taking into account only those armed forces that were planned to be created in perspective, and the real state of affairs was not taken into account. From this, its constituent parts were in contradiction with each other, which made it unrealistic.
Unlike the troops of Germany and its allies, who at the time of the attack on the USSR were in a state of full combat readiness, the grouping of Soviet troops in the west was not deployed and not ready for military action.
HOW MUCH DOES EXPLAINED EXACTLY?
Acquaintance now with the intelligence data received in the first half of 1941 in the Kremlin, creates the impression that the situation was extremely clear. It seems that Stalin could only give a directive to the Red Army to bring it into full combat readiness to repel aggression. He, however, did not, and, of course, this is his fatal miscalculation, which caused the tragedy of 1941.
However, in reality everything was much more complicated.
First of all, it is necessary to answer the following main question: could the Soviet leadership, on the basis of information obtained, in particular, from military intelligence, suggest when, where and by what forces Germany would strike at the USSR?
The question “when?” Was given fairly accurate answers: 15 or 20 June; between 20 and 25 Jun; 21 or 22 June, finally - 22 June. At the same time, the time frame was delayed all the time and was accompanied by various reservations. This, apparently, caused a growing irritation of Stalin. 21 June he was reported that "according to reliable data, the German attack on the USSR is scheduled for June 22 1941 of the year." On the report form, Stalin wrote: “This information is an English provocation. Find out who is the author of this provocation and punish him. ”
On the other hand, information about the date of June 22, although they were obtained literally on the eve of the war, nevertheless, could play a significant role in increasing the readiness of the Red Army to repel the blow. However, all attempts to take positions in the frontier zone (predpole) in advance were strictly stopped from above. Known, in particular, telegrams G.K. Zhukov to the Military Council and the commander of KOVO, demanding to cancel the instruction to occupy the predpole with field and Uvian units, since "such an action could provoke the Germans into an armed clash and is fraught with all sorts of consequences." Zhukov demanded to understand "who specifically gave such a self-ordered order." Therefore, in the end, it turned out that when the decision was made to advance troops according to the cover plan, there was practically no time left. ZNOVO 22 June army commanders only in 2.25-2.35 received a directive instructing to bring all units to combat readiness, to occupy firing points of fortified areas on the state border, to disperse all aircraft on field airfields, to bring air defense to combat readiness.
Thanks to the incorporation of the Baltic republics into the USSR, the Soviet Navy received first-class naval bases
The question “where?” Received an incorrect answer. Although intelligence analysts at the beginning of June came to the conclusion that special attention should be paid to strengthening the German forces in Poland, nevertheless, this conclusion was lost against the background of other intelligence reports, which again indicated a threat from the south and south-west. This led to the erroneous conclusion that "the Germans greatly strengthened their right wing against the USSR, increasing its share in the overall structure of their eastern front against the USSR." At the same time, it was emphasized that "the German command, having already at this time the necessary forces for further development of actions in the Middle East and against Egypt ... at the same time, rather quickly regains its main grouping in the west ... having in perspective the implementation of the main operation against the British Isles."
To the question “by what means?” One can say that on June 1 a more or less correct answer was received - German divisions 120-122, including fourteen tank and thirteen motorized ones. However, this conclusion was lost against the background of another conclusion that almost the same number of divisions (122-126) was deployed against England.
The undoubted merit of Soviet intelligence is to put the fact that she was able to reveal clear signs of Germany’s readiness to attack. The main thing was that, as the scouts reported, by June 15 the Germans had to complete all the strategic deployment activities against the USSR and one could expect a sudden blow, not preceded by any conditions or an ultimatum. In this regard, the intelligence was able to identify clear signs of Germany’s readiness to attack in the near future: the deployment of German aircraft, including bombers; inspections and reconnaissance of large German military leaders; the transfer of percussion units with combat experience; concentration of transport facilities; the transfer of well-armed German agents supplied with portable radio stations with instructions after completing the assignment to go to the location of the German troops already on Soviet territory; departure of the families of German officers from the border zone, etc.
It is well known that Stalin’s distrust of intelligence reports, some even attribute this “manic character” to this distrust. But we must also take into account the fact that Stalin was influenced by a number of other mutually contradictory and sometimes even mutually exclusive factors of international politics.
FACTORS OF INTERNATIONAL POLICY
Foreign policy conditions for the USSR in the spring and summer of 1941 were extremely unfavorable. Although the conclusion of a treaty on neutrality with Japan strengthened the position on the Far Eastern borders of the USSR, however, attempts to improve relations with countries such as Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, or at least prevent their participation in the bloc of fascist states were not successful.
The German invasion of Yugoslavia 6 on April 1941, with which the USSR had just signed a treaty of friendship and non-aggression, was the final blow to Soviet Balkan politics. It became clear to Stalin that the diplomatic confrontation with Germany was lost, that henceforth the dominant almost everywhere in Europe the Third Reich did not intend to reckon with its eastern neighbor. There was only one hope: to postpone the terms of the now inevitable German aggression.
Left much to be desired and the relations of the USSR with Great Britain and the USA. Military defeats in the Middle East and the Balkans in the spring of 1941 brought England to the brink of complete "strategic collapse." In such a situation, Stalin believed, the Churchill government would do everything in its power to instigate the Reich war against the USSR.
In addition, a number of important events occurred that reinforced these suspicions of Stalin. 18 April 1941 British ambassador to the USSR R. Kripps presented a memorandum to the Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, stating that if the war was delayed for a long time, certain circles in England could “smile” about ending the war with the German Reich. And then the Germans will have unlimited scope for expansion eastwards. Cripps did not rule out that such an idea could find followers in the United States. This document clearly warned the Soviet leadership that such a turn of events was possible, when the USSR would be alone in the face of the threat of a fascist invasion.
The Soviet leadership took it as a hint at the possibility of a new anti-Soviet conspiracy of "world imperialism" against the USSR. It should be noted that in England there were circles advocating peace negotiations with Germany. Pro-German sentiments were especially characteristic of the so-called Cleveland clique, led by the Duke Hamilton.
The Kremlin’s caution increased even more when, on the following day, April 19, Cripps handed Molotov a letter from the English Prime Minister, written April 3 and addressed personally to Stalin. Churchill wrote that, according to the British government, Germany is preparing to launch an attack on the Soviet Union. “I have reliable information ...” he continued, “that when the Germans found Yugoslavia caught in their network, i.e. after 20 in March, they began to deploy three of their five tank divisions from Romania to southern Poland. As soon as they learned about the Serbian revolution, this movement was canceled. Your Excellency will easily understand the significance of this fact. ”
These two messages, which coincided in time, have already given Stalin a reason to consider what is happening as a provocation.
But then another event happened. 10 in May, Hitler’s closest ally, his deputy for the party, Rudolf Hess, flew over to England on a Me-110 aircraft.
Apparently, Hess's goal was to conclude a "compromise peace" in order to halt the exhaustion of England and Germany and prevent the final destruction of the British Empire. Hess believed that his arrival would give strength to a strong anti-Churchillian party and give a powerful incentive "in the struggle for peace".
However, the proposals of Hess were unacceptable in the first place for Churchill himself and therefore could not be accepted. At the same time, the British government did not make any official statements and kept a mysterious silence.
Official London's silence about Hess gave Stalin additional food for thought. Intelligence has repeatedly reported to him about the desire of the ruling circles of London to move closer to Germany and at the same time push it away from the USSR in order to ward off the threat from the British Empire. In June, the British repeatedly transmitted to the Soviet ambassador in London, Maisky, information about the preparation of the Germans for an attack on the USSR. However, in the Kremlin, all this was unequivocally regarded as Britain’s desire to involve the Soviet Union in the war against the Third Reich. Stalin sincerely believed that the Churchill government wanted the USSR to begin deploying military groups in the border areas and thereby provoked the German attack on the Soviet Union.
Undoubtedly, an important role was played by the events of the German command to imitate military preparations against England. On the other hand, German soldiers were actively building defenses along the Soviet borders - this was recorded by the Soviet border military intelligence, but it was also part of the disinformation measures of the German command. But the most important thing that was misleading the Soviet leadership was the information about the ultimatum, which, allegedly, the German leadership was going to present to the USSR before the attack. In fact, the idea of presenting an ultimatum to the USSR was never discussed in Hitler’s entourage as a real German intention, but was only a part of disinformation measures. Unfortunately, she came to Moscow from sources, including foreign intelligence ("Sergeant", "Corsican"), who usually gave serious information. The same misinformation came from the well-known agent-twin O. Berlings ("Lyceum"). Nevertheless, the idea of an "ultimatum" fit very well into the concept of Stalin-Molotov about the possibility of negotiating (they called Molotov a "big game") to ward off the threat of an attack in the summer of 1941.
In general, the Soviet intelligence was able to determine the timing of the attack. However, Stalin, fearing to provoke Hitler, did not allow him to carry out all the necessary operational-strategic measures, although the leadership of the People’s Commissariat of Defense asked him about this a few days before the outbreak of the war. In addition, the Soviet leadership was caught up in a thin German disinformation game. As a result, when the necessary orders were still given, there was not enough time to bring the troops into full combat readiness and organize a repulse against the German invasion.
JUNE: TOMORROW WAS A WAR
In June, it became quite clear: we should expect an attack by Germany in the near future, which will be carried out suddenly and most likely without the introduction of any preliminary requirements. It was necessary to take countermeasures, and they were taken. Measures were taken to reduce the time needed to bring the covering units allocated to support the border troops into combat readiness. In addition, the transfer of additional units to the border districts continued: the 16 Army in KOVO, the 22 Army in ZOVOVO. However, the strategic mistake was that these measures were late. By June 22 only a part of the transferred forces and means could arrive. From Transbaikalia and Primorye, from 26 of April to 22 of June, only about half of the planned forces and assets were able to be sent: 5 divisions (2 rifle, 2 tank, 1 motorized), 2 wdbr, 2 dep. shelf. At the same time, the main reinforcement went again in the southwesterly direction: 23 divisions were concentrated in KOVO, in ZOVOVO - 9. This was a consequence of an incorrect assessment of the direction of the main blow of the Germans.
At the same time, it was still categorically forbidden for the troops to take up combat positions in the border zone. In fact, at the time of the attack, only the frontier guards, who were serving in a reinforced mode, were fully combat-ready. But there were too few of them, and their fierce resistance was quickly suppressed.
As acknowledged by G.K. Zhukov, the Soviet armed forces could not "by their weakness" at the beginning of the war repel the massive strikes of the German troops and prevent their deep breakthrough. At the same time, if it were possible to determine the direction of the main attack and the grouping of the German troops, the latter would have to face much stronger resistance in breaking through the Soviet defenses. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the documents, the available intelligence information did not allow it. The decisive role was also played by the determination of the operational-strategic thinking of the Soviet command and the point of view of Stalin that the main attack should be expected on Ukraine.
In fact, it was only on the fifth day of the war that the Soviet command came to the final conclusion that the Germans delivered the main attack in the west, not in the south-west. Zhukov writes in his memoirs “... In the very first days of the war, the 19 Army, a number of units and formations of the 16 Army, previously concentrated in Ukraine and pulled up there lately, had to be moved to the west and included in the battle Western Front. This circumstance undoubtedly affected the course of defensive actions in the western direction. ” At the same time, according to Zhukov, “the railway transportation of our troops for a number of reasons was carried out with interruptions. The arriving troops were often brought into the business without complete concentration, which adversely affected the political and moral condition of the units and their combat stability. ”
Thus, assessing the activities of the military-political leadership of the USSR on the eve of the war, it should be noted that it made a number of miscalculations that had tragic consequences.
First of all, this is a miscalculation in determining the direction of the main attack of the Wehrmacht. Secondly, delays in bringing the troops to full combat readiness. As a result, planning turned out to be unrealistic, and the events held on the eve of the event were belated. Already in the course of the military operations, another miscalculation was revealed: the actions of the troops in the event of a deep strategic breakthrough of the enemy were not envisaged at all; A miscalculation in the choice of the line of defense near the western borders largely provided the enemy with a surprise attack on the troops of the first operational echelon, who most often were stationed at a much greater distance from the lines designated for defense than the enemy.
Taking measures to increase the combat readiness of the troops, the military and political leadership of the USSR, fearing to provoke Hitler, did not make the main thing: it did not promptly bring covering forces that were in a more complete state to repel the enemy’s first strike. Manic fear of provoking Hitler played a bad joke with Stalin. As subsequent events showed (Hitler’s speech on 22 of June), the Nazi leadership still accused the USSR of Soviet forces “treacherously” attacking units of the Wehrmacht and the latter was “forced” to strike back.
Errors made in operational planning (determining the direction of the main strike of the enemy, creating a group of troops, especially the second strategic echelon, etc.), had to be urgently corrected in the course of hostilities.
Eve of war: fatal miscalculations
- Victor GAVRILOV
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