What were the forces of the Third Reich at the beginning of the war with the USSR?

What were the forces of the Third Reich at the beginning of the war with the USSR?

The Third Reich was preparing for a strike on the USSR very thoroughly, by the time the war began, the grouping of the armed forces of the Reich and the armed forces of the satellite countries of Germany, which had no analogues before that time, was concentrated on the borders of the Soviet Union. For the defeat of Poland, the Reich used 59 divisions, in the war with France and its allies - Holland, Belgium, England - put up an 141 division, for an attack on the USSR the 181 division was concentrated, this together with the allies. Berlin spent a lot of preparation for the war, literally in a few years turning its armed forces from one of the weakest armies of Europe, because according to the Versailles agreements, Germany allowed only 100-thousand. army, without combat aircraft, heavy artillery, tanks, powerful naval forces, universal military service, to the best army in the world. This was an unprecedented transformation, of course, was affected by the fact that in the period before the Nazis came to power, with the help of "financial international" they managed to preserve the military potential of the industry and then quickly militarize the economy. The officer corps was also preserved, having transferred its experience to new generations.

The myth that "intelligence reported in time." One of the most stable and dangerous myths, which was created under Khrushchev, and even more strengthened in the years of the Russian Federation, is the legend that intelligence has repeatedly reported the date of the outbreak of war, but “stupid” or in another version “the enemy of the people ", Stalin dismissed these messages, believing more" friend "Hitler. Why is this myth dangerous? He creates the opinion that if the army had been brought to full combat readiness, it would have been possible to avoid a situation where the Wehrmacht had reached Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad, it would be possible to stop the enemy on the border. Moreover, it does not take into account the geopolitical realities of that time - the USSR could be accused of armed provocation, as in 1914, when the Russian Empire began mobilization and was accused of “initiating war”, Berlin received a reason to start a war. There was a chance that I would have forgotten about the creation of the “Anti-Hitler Coalition”.

Intelligence reports were something, but there is a very big “But” - in the spring of 1941, the intelligence of the people's security and defense commissariats literally bombarded the Kremlin with reports on the “final and firmly established” date for the start of the invasions of Reich troops. At least 5-6 has been reported on such dates. The April, May, and June dates were announced about the invasion of the Wehrmacht and the beginning of the war, but all of them turned out to be misinformation. So, contrary to the myths about the War, no one ever reported the date of June 22. The Reich troops were to find out about the hour and day of the invasion only three days before the war, therefore the directive, which spoke about the date of the invasion of the USSR, came to the troops only on June 19 of the year 1941. Naturally, not a single scout reported this.

The same famous “telegram” of R. Zorge that “an attack is expected early in the morning of June 22 on a broad front” is a fake. Its text is very different from real similar cipher strings; in addition, no responsible state leader will take any serious action based on such messages, even if it comes from a reliable informant. As already mentioned, Moscow received such reports regularly. Already in our years, 16 June 2001, the organ of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation "Krasnaya Zvezda" published materials of a round table devoted to the 60 anniversary of the start of World War II, where there were confessions of Colonel SVR Karpov: "Unfortunately, this is a fake that appeared in Khrushchev times . Such "fools" are launched simply ... ". That is, the lie that Soviet intelligence knew everything and reported the day and hour of the invasion, was launched by N. Khrushchev, when he “debunked” the personality cult.

Only after the Wehrmacht received directives from 19 on June, various “defectors” began to cross the border and sent signals through the border service to Moscow.

Intelligence was also mistaken in the strength of the Wehrmacht grouping, ostensibly thoroughly dissected by Soviet intelligence officers. The total strength of the Reich armed forces was determined by Soviet intelligence in the 320 divisions, in reality, at that time, the Wehrmacht had 214 divisions. It was believed that the Reich forces were divided equally in the western and eastern strategic directions: for 130 divisions, plus 60 in reserve, the rest in other directions. That is, it was not clear where Berlin would send a blow - it was logical to assume that it was against England. A completely different picture would have happened if intelligence had reported that from the 214 divisions of the Reich 148 were concentrated in the East. Soviet intelligence could not track the process of increasing the power of the Wehrmacht in the east. According to intelligence from the USSR, the Wehrmacht grouping in the east from February to May 1941 increased from 80 to 130 divisions, the build-up of forces was significant, but it was believed that the Wehrmacht grouping doubled against England. What conclusions could be drawn from this? It was possible to assume that Berlin was preparing for an operation against England, which he had long planned to do and actively spread misinformation about it. And in the east they strengthened the grouping for a more reliable cover of the “rear”. Didn't Hitler plan a war on two fronts? Same unequivocal suicide of Germany. And a completely different picture would have happened if the Kremlin knew that in February from all the 214 German divisions in the east were only 23, and by June 1941 had already become 148.

True, there is no need to create another myth that intelligence is to blame, she worked, collected information. But we must take into account the fact that she was still young, in comparison with Western intelligence agencies, there was not enough experience.

Another myth, they say, Stalin is to blame for the fact that the main direction of the strike of the German armed forces was incorrectly identified - the most powerful grouping of the Red Army was concentrated in the Kiev Special Military District (KOVO), believing that it would be the main attack there. But, firstly, this decision of the General Staff, and secondly, according to intelligence reports, the command of the Wehrmacht dispatched at least 70 divisions, including 15 tank divisions, and the German Special Command against the Western Special District (OOBO) against the KOVO and Odessa Military District (OVO) concentrated 45 divisions, of which the entire 5 tank. Yes, and the initial development of the plan "Barbarossa", Berlin was planning the main attack in the south-western strategic direction. Moscow proceeded from the available data; we can now put all the pieces of the mosaic together. In addition, in southern Poland, south of Lublin, in early June 1941, in reality, there were 10 armored and 6 motorized divisions of the Wehrmacht and the SS troops. And therefore, opposing them to the 20 tank and 10 motorized KOVO and PSB divisions was quite the right step of our command. True, the problem is that our intelligence missed the moment, as the 5 tank and 3 motorized divisions of the 2-th tank group of Gaines Guderian in mid-June were redeployed to the Brest region. As a result, 9 tank and 6 motorized divisions of Germany were concentrated against the Western Special Military District, while 5 tank divisions and 3 motorized divisions remained against KOVO.


What were the forces of the Third Reich at the beginning of the war with the USSR?

The Wehrmacht grouping in the east consisted of 153 divisions and 2 brigades, plus reinforcement units, they were distributed mainly to theaters of operations: from Norway to Romania. In addition to German troops, large forces of the armed forces of Germany’s allies — the Finnish, Romanian and Hungarian divisions, the entire 29 divisions (15 of the Finnish and 14 of the Romanian) and 16 brigades (of the Finnish — 3, Hungarian — 4, 9, Hungarian — XNUMX, XNUMX, Hungarian — XNUMX, Hungarian — XNUMX, Hungarian — XNUMX, Hungarian — XNUMX brigade forces) - XNUMX).


The main shock power of the Wehrmacht was tank and motorized divisions. What are they like? In June 1941, there were two types of tank divisions: tank divisions with a tank regiment of two battalions, they had 147 tanks - 51 light tank Pz.Kpfw. II (according to Soviet classification T-2), 71 medium tank Pz.Kpfw. III (T-3), 20 medium tanks Pz.Kpfw. IV (T-4) and 5 commander tanks without weapons. A tank division with a tank regiment of three battalions could have been armed with German or Czechoslovak tanks. In a tank division equipped with German tanks, the state had: 65 light tanks T-2, 106 medium tanks T-3 and 30 T-4, as well as 8 command tanks, total 209 units. In the tank division, equipped mainly with Czechoslovak tanks, the state was: 55 light tanks T-2, 110 light Czechoslovak tanks Pz.Kpfw. 35 (t) or Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t), 30 medium tanks T-4 and 14 commander tanks Pz.Kpfw. 35 (t) or Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t), total - 209 units. We must also take into account the fact that most of the T-2 and Pz.Kpfw tanks. 38 (t) had time to upgrade, their frontal armor 30 and 50 mm are now not inferior in armor to medium tanks T-3 and T-4. Plus, better than in Soviet tanks, the quality of sighting devices. According to various estimates, the Wehrmacht had just about 4000 tanks and assault guns, with allies more than 4300.

Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t).

But we must bear in mind that the Wehrmacht tank division is not only tanks. Tank divisions strengthened: 6 thousand people motorized infantry; 150 artillery barrels, along with mortars and anti-tank guns; a motorized sapper battalion that could equip positions, set up minefields or clear mines, organize a ferry; A motorized communications battalion is mobile communications based on vehicles, armored vehicles or armored personnel carriers that could ensure the sustainable management of units of the division on the march and in combat. According to the state, the tank division had 1963 units of vehicles, tractors (trucks and tractors - 1402 and cars - 561), in some divisions their number reached 2300 units. Plus 1289 motorcycles (711 units with wheelchairs) by state, although their number could also reach 1570 units. Therefore, tank divisions were organizationally well-balanced combat unit, which is why the organizational structure of this compound of the model 1941 of the year, with minor improvements, remained until the end of the war.

Tank divisions and motorized divisions strengthened. Motorized divisions differed from conventional Wehrmacht infantry divisions by the full motorization of all units of the division. They had two regiments of motorized infantry instead of 3-x infantry in the infantry division, two light howitzer battalions and one heavy artillery division in the artillery regiment instead of 3-x light and 1-th heavy in the infantry division, plus had a motorcycle rifle battalion, which was not standard infantry division. Motorized divisions had 1900 – 2000 cars and 1300 – 1400 motorcycles. That is, tank divisions were amplified by additional motorized infantry.

In the armed forces of Germany, the first among the other armies of the world not only understood the need to have self-propelled artillery to support their infantry, but also were the first to put this idea into practice. The Wehrmacht had 11 battalions and 5 separate assault gun batteries, 7 battalions of self-propelled tank destroyers, 4 150 batteries of mm self-propelled heavy infantry guns were transferred to the Wehrmacht tank divisions. Assault gun units supported infantry on the battlefield, which made it possible not to divert tank units from the tank divisions for these purposes. The divisions of self-propelled tank destroyers became highly mobile anti-tank reserve command of the Wehrmacht.

Wehrmacht infantry divisions numbered 16 500 – 16 800 people, but you need to know that, contrary to military myths, all the artillery of these divisions was on a horse-drawn carriage. In the Wehrmacht infantry division, there were 5375 horses in the state: 1743 riding horses and 3632 piggyback horses, of which 2249 horses were related to the artillery regiment of the unit. Plus a high level of motorization - 911 cars (of which 565 - trucks and 346 - cars), 527 motorcycles (201 unit with a sidecar). In total, the German armed forces, concentrated on the borders of the Soviet Union, had more than 600 000 vehicles of various types and more than 1 million horses.


The artillery of the Armed Forces of Germany was traditionally strong: up to a quarter of the barrels of the German divisions were 105 – 150 mm guns. The organizational structure of the military artillery of the Wehrmacht made it possible to ensure a significant strengthening of infantry units in battle. So, in the infantry regiments were 150-mm heavy field guns. This provided the German infantry with a significant advantage in combat. When firing direct fire with projectiles weighing 38 kg, 150-mm guns could quickly suppress enemy firing points, clearing the way for the advancing units. Divisional artillery could support infantry, motorized regiments, division of pulmonary 105-mm howitzers, with the disposal of commanders of infantry and motorized divisions Wehrmacht remained heavy howitzer battalion 150-mm howitzers, and the disposal of commanders of armored divisions - the mixed heavy division 105-mm guns and 150-mm howitzers.

The tank and motorized divisions still had air defense cannons: according to the state, the division had a company of ZSUs (18 units), these were anti-aircraft self-propelled units based on semi-tracked tractor, armed with single or quad 20 anti-aircraft guns. The company was part of the anti-tank division. ZSU could fire both stationary and on the move in the march. Plus, anti-aircraft divisions with 8 – 12-88-mm anti-aircraft guns Flak18 / 36 / 37, which, in addition to fighting the enemy's air force, could fight the enemy’s tanks, performing anti-tank functions.

For the strike on the Red Army, the command of the Wehrmacht concentrated and significant forces of the Reserve of the Main Command of the Ground Forces (RGK): 28 artillery divisions (12 and 105-mm heavy cannons in each); 37 divisions of heavy field howitzers (12-x 150-mm units in each); 2 mixed divisions (6-x 211-mm mortars and three 173-mm guns in each); 29 Heavy Mortar Divisions (9-211-mm mortars in each division); 7 motorized heavy artillery divisions (by 9-149,1-mm heavy guns in each division); 2 heavy howitzer battalions (four 240-mm heavy Czechoslovak howitzers in each division); 6 anti-tank divisions (36-37-mm anti-tank guns Pak35 / 36 in each); 9 separate railroad batteries with 280-mm naval guns (for 2 guns in the battery). Almost all of the artillery of the RGC was focused on the direction of the main strikes, and it was all motorized.

To ensure comprehensive preparation for combat operations, the Wehrmacht strike groups included: 34 division of artillery instrumental reconnaissance, 52 individual sapper battalion, 25 separate bridge-building battalions, 91 construction battalion and 35 road-building battalions.

Aviation: 4 airborne fleets of the Luftwaffe, plus Allied aviation, were concentrated on striking the USSR. In addition to 3217 bombers and fighters, the Reich Air Force had 1058 reconnaissance aircraft that played a crucial role in supporting the actions of the ground forces and the German Navy. Plus 639 transport aircraft and communication aircraft. From 965 German single-engine fighters Bf.109 "Messerschmitt" almost 60% were planes of the new modification Bf.109F, they were superior in speed and climb not only the old Soviet fighters "I-16" and "I-153", but also new, only received by the Red Army Air Force "Yak-1" and "LaGG-3".

The Reich Air Force had a large number of units and units of communications and control, which made it possible to maintain their high controllability and combat capability. The Air Force of Germany included anti-aircraft divisions, which provided air defense for ground forces and rear facilities. Each anti-aircraft division had air observation, warning and communication units, logistic and technical support units. They were armed with 8-15 anti-aircraft battalions with 88-mm anti-aircraft guns Flak18 / 36 / 37, 37-mm and 20-mm anti-aircraft automatic guns Flak30 and Flak38, including the 20 anti-fire guns, I also use the same options as I-38 and X-NUMX and Flak1. At the same time, the air force anti-aircraft divisions interacted well with ground forces, often moving directly with them.

In addition to the armed forces themselves, numerous auxiliary paramilitary forces, such as the Speer Transport Corps, the Todt Organization, the National Socialist Automobile Corps and the Imperial Labor Service, reinforced the strike power. They performed the tasks of the rear, technical and engineering support of the Wehrmacht. There were a lot of volunteers from Western and Eastern Europe who were not formally at war with the USSR.

Summing up, I must say that at that time this military machine had no equal. It was not for nothing that in Berlin, London and Washington they believed that the USSR would not withstand the blow and would fall in the course of the 2-3 months. But miscalculated, once again ...

Sources of:
Isaev A.V. Unknown 1941. Stopped blitzkrieg. M., 2010.
Pykhalov I. The Great Obolgannaya war. M., 2005.
Pykhalov I. The Great Slandered Leader. Lies and truth about Stalin. M., 2010.
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