Military Review

Tragedy in Belarus (1941)

The epic drama of the defeat of the Western Front in June 1941 became a textbook example after the war, along with the defeat of Samsonov's army in Prussia in 1914. Already on June 28, the Germans occupied Minsk. In two boilers at Volkovysk and Minsk, divisions from the 3rd, 4th and 10th Soviet armies were surrounded, 11 rifle, 6 tank, 4 motorized and 2 cavalry divisions. The total losses in killed, missing and prisoners exceeded 300 people. The commander of the district, Colonel-General DG Pavlov, paid for it with his life and was shot, along with him a number of senior officers of the district headquarters, several corps corps and army commanders shared his fate. The commander of the air force of the district, Major General I.I.Kopets, most likely would have repeated their fate, but he made his choice on June 000. After learning about the incurred aviation losses, the general shot himself.

The whole Red Army of the 1941 model of the year was reflected in the personality of the commander of Zapovo as if in a drop of water. He was a commander who quickly moved to the highest post because of repressions that had outgrown the army. But the version that he did not have sufficient training, which explained everything so easily and later served as a reason for his execution, is not the truth. Assigning only him responsible for what happened in 1941 in June, we thereby undertake to assert that another person in his place could correct the situation. It’s as if the situation in which the Western front would stand under the blows of the Germans does not even require proof. Some particularly savvy specialists claim that it was enough to put the existing T-34 and KV tanks into ambushes, as General Katukov later did near Moscow and the German tanks would have burned even before Baranavichy. But such people are bewildered by the quite reasonable question: “where are these ambushes to be organized?”. Apparently, Pavlov should have known the exact routes of the offensive of the German troops. But he did not know, and when he found out it was already too late.

Tragedy in Belarus (1941)

Before judging Pavlov, one must put oneself in his place and consider the events, taking into account the data that were at his disposal. In itself, the location of the Bialystok bulge already suggested an operation on the environment, and this, of course, Pavlov knew. The whole point was that such an operation could have been carried out in different ways, which presented difficulties for both the defenders and the attackers. The main thing for those and for others was the question of determining the point of convergence of the advancing tank wedges. A similar operation was expected from the Germans, but to a small depth, with an attempt to form a boiler in the area of ​​Volokovysk and Baranovichi.

Historical events, as often happens, push randomness forward. Something similar happened in 1941 in the Brest region. Taught by the bitter experience of 1939, then Gudarian was already trying to seize the Polish Brest Fortress, in the 1941 campaign he planned a double roundabout maneuver. Figuratively speaking, the fast Heinz “blew into the water”, instead of throwing his tank group along the highway near Brest, he drove it into a terrain impenetrable for tanks south and north of Brest. The infantry was supposed to take the fortress and storm the city. And so, beginning the morning of June 22 "for health", Gudarian finished it "for peace." The Germans captured many bridges, but many of them were suitable for infantry and light equipment, not for tanks. The tank group spent the whole day on June 22 fighting the terrain, trying to get out on the highway. By the evening of June 22, many units had not yet crossed the Bug. At the end of the day, parts 3 and 4 of the tank divisions of the 49 motorized corps of the Germans that appeared on the highway buried in a burnt bridge over Mukhovets in the Bulkovo region. Gudarian was annoyed at this beginning, but it was his delay that played one of the key roles in the unfolding drama of the Western Front.

By the end of the day, Pavlov and his staff were evaluating the events and trying to develop countermeasures. Pavlov did not know everything that we know today, he was guided by intelligence data. What did he see? The first reconnaissance report from 14: 00 reported that the enemy was making every effort to take Grodno, the second from 16: 15 indicated that the main efforts of the enemy aviation were noted at the site of Grodno-Lida. The evening final intelligence report from 22 hours contained the following data. With the dawn, the German units crossed the border in the amount of up to 30-32 infantry divisions, 4-5 tank, 2 motorized, 40 artillery regiments, about 4-5 air regiments, one airborne division. And here the scouts made a slight mistake, the forces acting against the district were determined approximately correctly, it was especially emphasized that a tank group had crossed the border to the right, whose forces evaluated 4 tank and motorized divisions.

But a completely different picture was the distribution of these troops. It was stated that 2 tank and 2 motorized divisions were attacking Grodno, in fact there was only infantry there. But already 2-3 tank connections remained automatic to other directions. Intelligence “found” another tank division on the southern face of the Belostok jut, but there were no tanks there either, only the infantry was reinforced by the Shturmgeshuts self-propelled gun. At Brest, 1-2 armored divisions remained, it was a fatal miscalculation, underestimating the strength of the enemy on the left flank.

For this there were quite objective reasons, the air reconnaissance of the front was weakened by the huge losses suffered during the day. One could also take into account such criteria as the depth of penetration of enemy units and the introduction of tanks into battle. It was on the Grodno direction that such a situation was noted. In the area of ​​Brest, Gudarin put his tanks into battle in roundabout ways and in Minsk they have not yet been seen. Later, as luck would have it, directive No. XXUMX of the General Staff, which, together with the North-Western Front, ordered a counterstrike on the flank of the German Suvalkov group, ordered. This fully matched the fact that Pavlov saw, the enemy in the Grodno area represented the main danger. So the largest and most combat-ready mechanized division of the front (3 mechanized corps) was thrown into battle near Grodno, where it was forced to ram the strong anti-tank defense of Wehrmacht infantry divisions. But the commander ignored the left flank and infantry were deployed in this direction, the 6 rifle corps consisting of 47, 55 and 121 rifle divisions.

The saddest thing is that 23 could not figure out the situation in the front headquarters, still evaluating the German forces on the left flank as insignificant. Meanwhile, 2 tank group 23 June crushed 4 units of the Korobkov army. And in a day its advanced tank units advanced 130 km, reaching the bend of the river Shchara. It was here that the meeting of the 55 rifle division and the German tank divisions took place. The fighting in the Shchara bend lasted the entire subsequent day of June 24. With persistent fighting, the division detained a German tank rink for a day, in one of these battles the division commander, Colonel Ivanyuk, was also killed.

But the main thing was not the case. In a battle that occurred in the early morning of June 24, the 155 rifle division reconnaissance dispersed the Germans motorized detachment. In one of the cars 2 cards were discovered, one of them was with the applied situation. This map was immediately sent to the front headquarters, where it had the effect of a bombshell, as if the shroud had fallen from the eyes of the commander. It was clear from the situation applied to it that 3 of the German tank corps was operating against its left flank, one of them in the second echelon.

Then played his word time factor. The map was captured around 4 in the morning on June 24, some time was spent on sending it to the front headquarters, as it was lucky that June 24 relocated from Minsk to Borovaya, part of the time was lost here. But even with this in mind, the first decision, taking into account the data contained on the map, was taken in 15: 20 25 June, took about a day and a half. Perhaps the commander spent them on reinsurance, the data needed to be checked, at least it was now clear where to look.

General Pavlov was not bound by any orders to "stand to the death", did not request a bet, waiting for her decision, already on 4 the day of the battle he gave the troops an order to withdraw. If successful, the troops of the front could avoid the inevitable defeat. The 6 mechanized corps was deployed in 180 degrees to strike at the Elephant, it had to become the vanguard and the main penetrating force of the retreating troops. But, giving this order, Pavlov eased the pressure on the German flank at Grodno. Before the connection of the German tank wedges near Minsk, there were just over 2 days left.
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  1. admiral993
    admiral993 28 June 2012 14: 43
    What can I say ... no comment
  2. Volkh
    Volkh 26 July 2012 10: 35
    No words.
    Everlasting memory!
  3. Alex
    Alex 15 June 2014 15: 21
    And you can say a lot. For example, the fact that on the fifth day of the war Pavlov left to the mercy of fate the 3 and 10 armies surrounded in the Novogrudok region (the famous Novogrudok boiler) are the most combat-ready and manned formations of the Western Front (against this background, the understaffed 13 army pretty weak). As a result, the units actually written off by the command acted on their own, without interaction, until they lost equipment and ammunition.

    Where the author found whole 3 German tank corps, which the Germans did not have a single until the very end of the war (the main formation of the Wehrmacht tank forces of the beginning of the Second World War - tank divisions, which were combined into tank groups, later reorganized in the army). What is a TC is not entirely clear (division?).

    The time lost in assessing the situation after receiving the notorious card. This is what determines the talent of the military leader, his ability to guess the intentions of the enemy and act (sometimes risk) based on the principle of maximum benefit. So the wording
    he did not have enough training
    quite adequate. The characteristics given to Pavlov determined his competence as the commander of a tank division, maximum - the combined arms army, but not the front. The reasons why he got to this post are beyond my competence (I don’t want to discuss the topic of repression stuck in my teeth).
  4. Sanya Rus
    Sanya Rus 17 November 2015 14: 15
    Zhukov bears no less responsibility for the defeat of the summer of 1941 than Pavlov, the difference is that Pavlov was shot and Zhukov was Marshal of Victory ......
  5. Mikhail Zubkov
    Mikhail Zubkov 17 August 2017 12: 55
    Authors nonsense. Pavlov in 1940-41 and specifically (and especially) from June 18 to 21 led the district to defeat from a sudden attack by the Germans, which all the troops at the border were already waiting for. But he gave them vacations, dismissing the pilots and tankers, but did not give the BC, fuels and lubricants and dry guns, and even gas masks, took almost all of the artillery, including anti-aircraft guns, to distant firing ranges, did not create an airborne airborne surveillance system, and medical support AT ALL. In the evening of the 21st I watched an operetta in Minsk, after which I went home to sleep, and the district headquarters sent it to sleep. Later, Zhukov from Moscow to the headquarters of the front, not the district, called them all from houses in Minsk, urgent ciphers with orders to read and secret envelopes with directives (open personally!) To open, already at 00. This is treason! For this, they shot him, taking into account the subsequent evidence of the intentional placing of troops for defeat.
  6. Romashenkina
    Romashenkina 12 March 2020 16: 25
    Yes, I think Pavlov got excited. Having fought near Salihorsk on June 28.06.41, XNUMX, he tried to stop Gudarian. Rather, he made a decision in accordance with the situation, and took responsibility, maybe an erroneous decision, but not for us to judge ... Winners are not judged.