It seems that this may partly be explained by the fact that historians are still wondering: what, in fact, why did the Supreme Commander 3 – 5 of August 1943 of the year “rode” to places of past battles? That's right, because the line of direct contact with the enemy defended on the route of that trip on average 150 km. And do not give a definite answer. Especially since in the memoirs and fond memories there are no references to the “explanations” of the generalissimo himself who undertook this voyage, which is considered to be the only trip of Stalin to the front during the whole war. “NVO” compared different versions and opinions, including the “newest” ones.
STALIN - YEREMENKO: "WILL BE BENCHED OUT AGAIN"
Here's what is remarkable. In modern terms, there was no PR of that three-day voyage of the leader. Chief Researcher of the Tver State United Museum, candidate historical Sci. Svetlana Gerasimova, who devoted a lot of time to studying this aspect, remarked to the NVO observer Igor Plugatarev, who recently visited the future Stalin Museum: “According to the testimony of some people who accompanied Stalin on this trip, there was supposedly a chronicle. It was definitely taking pictures. But I have never seen such a chronicle and photo. If it does exist, then maybe they will show us something, and then it will be demonstrated on two plasma panels, which will be installed in the exhibition hall of the newly created museum in the “Stalin's house”.
According to the memoirs of Colonel General Andrei Eremenko (future marshal), who reported to Stalin on the Kalinin Front, who was reporting to Rzhev, the latter, at the end of the meeting, "asked Comrade Stalin to take a picture or film on his Kalinin Front, but he refused because of his modesty or other considerations." Noting that the Supreme promised him “to be photographed with him, but another time,” the author of the notes explained that he, Eremenko, “wanted to take advantage of the situation to take pictures with Comrade Stalin, to capture the story of his arrival on the Kalinin Front, yes and who in my place would not want this? ”
The fact that Eremenko was ready for the shooting, surprisingly, there is evidence ... of Stalin himself. They were brought in his memoirs by the commander of the Far War aviation Alexander Golovanov, whom Stalin very much sympathized with before 1948 and trusted as rarely as anyone (is it a joke: he was the only military commander who rose from lieutenant colonel to chief air marshal in three and a half years). And to whom, by the way, it was on this trip that the Commander-in-Chief awarded the rank of Air Marshal on August 3. Once, in a conversation with Golovanov, the leader talked about Eremenko as a front commander. At the same time, it will be interesting to learn how the Supreme himself described Colonel General:
“- He is a strange man, he promises a lot, but he doesn’t have enough. In war, of course, anything can be, and then war. And here something is not right. I had him in August at the front. Met us with a whole group of reporters, photographers. I ask: why? Answer: capture on memory. I say to him, they didn’t come to you, but to deal with your affairs. Here, take Smolensk, then we shoot!
- Comrade Stalin, consider that Smolensk has already been taken! - he does not hesitate.
- Do you even take Dukhovshchina? - I tell him.
- Take, Comrade Stalin!
Of course, he did not take Dukhovshchina, much less Smolensk, he had to entrust to Sokolovsky. How many times he was moved back and forth, nothing he does not work. What for him to hold on? Asked Stalin in bewilderment.
Once I’m talking about this, you can confirm Golovanov’s words, referring to Marshal Zhukov, who in 1964 in a letter to writer Vasily Sokolov regarding events in the Stalingrad region regarding Eremenko, noted that he “embellishes his persona” in his memoirs: “Actually same A.I. Eremenko was deposed by Stalin for poor personal leadership of the troops of the Stalingrad Front, which absorbed an exceptionally large number of troops during defensive battles. Frankly speaking, Stalin about Eremenko had a low opinion. ”
But back directly to our topic.
So, there were reporters, photographers, and there were no “traces” of their work? But hardly any of them took the moment to quietly “click” on Glavkoverha. If it was, then, on the basis of the character of Eremenko described above, he would not fail to have such a photo and boast to someone. And a snapshot would surely come up someday. Suddenly, waiting for his time in the archives of the marshal?
On the Internet only an image with a preserved fool walks where reproductions from a picture of an unknown artist depicting Stalin's stay in Rzhev: The Supreme (for some reason in trousers for graduation, which didn’t correspond to the front-line trip) with binoculars in his hands stands majestically on a cliff looking west . Half a step away from him is General Eremenko, who is looking at something on the map, and the head of the NKVD, Lavrenty Beria. It is noteworthy that “on the side” of Stalin is visible the bridge over the Volga with its whole right bank half, although it is known that this part was blown up by the Germans, leaving the city, and the left-bank flight was blown up by the Red Army when they left Rzhev during the retreat in October 1941. When and with which photograph (if any) the artist painted the picture and where it was exhibited is also unknown. It can only be seen that they tried to paint Beria on the canvas (probably after 1953 of the year), yes, apparently unsuccessfully, and the work was hidden. Where it is now is unknown; there is only an assumption that the local painter wrote this “three above Rzhev”.
PR, as it can also be assumed, was not only due to the deepest conspiracy, under the conditions of which the short-term trip took place. But also for the one that Stalin himself realized that his departure to the area of hostilities was not really such, for he had not even visited a single command post of the front, let alone “descend into the trenches”, “taste porridge from the soldiers' boiler. Such a “stay on the front line”, painted by journalists “in verse and colors”, would be a laugh to chickens. And the leader, as you know, was a very specific person, pompousness indulged exclusively on large public holidays. Publicly “to exalt oneself” somewhere other than Moscow forbade it even in peacetime, when, say, I went on a southern vacation and “peered” for a day and a half on the way to one or another regional center.
MARSHAL VORONOV: "A STRANGE, UNEQUAL TRIP"
According to the official version, presented in the notes of Andrei Eremenko, published during the lifetime of Generalissimo (Spark magazine No. 8, 1952 year), the head of the Supreme Command Headquarters left under Rzhev to discuss the Smolensk operation in detail with the commanders of the Western and Kalininsky fronts. In fact, judging by the memories of other military leaders, there were no detailed discussions. At least on the Western Front. A few years after the death of the leader, Yeremenko published memoirs in which, for obvious reasons, there was no description at all of Stalin's stay in Rzhev. Meanwhile, the Smolensk offensive operation, which received the code name Suvorov, really began shortly after the High returned from the front - 7 in August (it lasted until October 2, but did not have the expected success).
“Soviet historiography was substantively“ not involved ”in the“ problem ”of this trip because it was skeptical about it, says the historian Svetlana Gerasimova of Tver. “Only new publications that appeared in the 1990s, including your humble servant, and the memories of people accompanying Stalin at that time, destroyed this dismissive attitude.”
One way or another, but why the leader stayed behind Rzhev for more than half a day during his huge employment, there is also no obvious explanation. In fact, at the beginning of August 43, the Soviet troops triumphantly embodied three strategic offensive operations of the Kursk battle, freeing the city outside the city, and the Supreme Commander, at the height of the main events, "suddenly took it into his head" to go away from them. The background of such a decision was known only to himself. On the night of August 2, he summoned to the office of the Deputy People's Commissar of the NKVD Commissioner of State Security 2 rank (the title corresponded to Colonel-General) Ivan Serov and briefly ordered to prepare the Supreme Commander's trip to the headquarters of the Western Front in the morning. Moreover, to ensure such a degree of secrecy that even Stalin’s personal security officer of the 3 rank of state security commissioner Nikolay Vlasik would not know about it.
The route — the Master informed Serov of him “piece by piece” —was so. First - Yukhnov, that in 210 km to the south-west from Moscow along the Warsaw highway. Next - Gzhatsk (now Gagarin), in 130 km north of Yukhnov, in 180 km south-west from the capital. From there - via Vyazma and Sychevka, without stopping in them - to Rzhev (230 km north-west from Moscow), from where Stalin returned to the Kremlin late in the evening on August 5.
Yukhnov, Gzhatsk, Rzhev were liberated from the invaders by 5 March 1942 March, 6 March and 3 March 1943, respectively (by the way, 4 March 1943 of the year, Churchill telegraphed to Stalin: “Accept my warmest congratulations on the occasion of Rzhev’s release. From our conversation In August, I know how much importance you attach to the release of this item ”). To the front line from them was from 130 to 160 km, which was safe from the point of view of enemy air attacks: the Germans no longer needed to fly "so far" for the bombings of the Russian rear.
It was not by chance that the chief of artillery of the Red Army during the war years, the chief marshal of artillery, Nikolai Voronov, left clearly not invincible observations about this voyage of Glavkoverha. Among the other military leaders, the commander from the headquarters of the Western Front met with Stalin in the Yukhnov district (by that time the headquarters had moved to 75 km to the west - to Ugra), in his memoirs On Military Service he wrote:
“August 3 unexpectedly called us to Yukhnov. From the front, it was already far away, and we had to go a fair amount of time, although we were driving cars with might and main. ”
Voronov described the premises in which the arrivals saw Stalin as “the most unattractive”: “General Kamer (chief of artillery of the Western Front, Colonel-General Artillery Ivan Petrovich Kamer — VZ) whispered to me:
During the war years, Rzhev became one of the strategically important sectors of the Soviet-German front. The fighting for the city was fierce. Photo © RIA News
- Well, furnishing!
“Especially to look more like a front-line one,” a thought flashed.
Stalin first of all asked whether the front command post was far from here. ”
Further, the author notes: the commander of the Western Front, Colonel-General Vasily Sokolovsky, “began to expound the plan and tasks of the upcoming offensive operation, but Stalin interrupted him:
- We will not deal with the details. The Western Front needs to approach Smolensk by the spring of 1944, thoroughly prepare, accumulate strength and take the city. - This phrase was repeated twice.
Essentially, the conversation was over.
The comrades tried to complain that the Western Front did not receive enough reserves and military equipment.
- All that we can give, - followed the answer, - but we can not - do what you have.
We set off on our way back. Many were surprised by this secret trip of the Supreme to Yukhnov. Why did you have to drive so many kilometers on a road disrupted tanks and tractors that have become impassable in some places, and stop in a town far away from the front? He couldn’t see anything from here, he didn’t meet with anyone except us. Contacting the fronts from here was much more difficult than from Moscow. A strange, unnecessary trip ... "
Without sarcasm, but equally without approval, they reacted to this less than three-day absence of the Supreme Commander from the Stavka and some other prominent military men, for example, Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky, Chief of the General Staff during the war years, and then Chief of the Operational Directorate of the General Staff, Army General Sergei Shtemenko.
However, according to the memoirs of the chief organizer of this trip, the Deputy Commissar of the NKVD, Ivan Serov (many years later wrote by the writer Eduard Khrutsky, and they have rather subtle details), Stalin left Moscow on a special train (the train was cleverly camouflaged as a freelance), and not on the "ruined tanks" road. On it, the leader arrived at the Myatlevskaya railway station, where an armored "Packard" unloaded from one of the cars. On this machine, the Supreme went to Yukhnov, which had no railway connection with Moscow, the city was located in 35 km from Myatlevskaya.
And further. It is not to say that this voyage was completely safe, although precautionary measures, understandably, were taken more than elevated: suffice it to say that all the railway and short road routes while traveling on them disguised literally guarded 135-th regiment of the NKVD. Shortly after the Supreme arrived in Rzhev, enemy aircraft made a night raid on the station of the city: an equestrian group of General Nikolay Oslikovsky landed there. “The shooting was strong,” one eyewitness wrote. “A few fragments fell on the roof of the house where Stalin was.” However, this is only a single testimony, about which other witnesses “forgot” to mention in their notes.
FROM RZHEV WAS "SEEN" BERLIN
In the “Stalin's house” in the village of Khoroshevo, the historian from Tver, Svetlana Gerasimova (by the way, she is the author of a number of large studies about the bloodiest battles around Rzhev, one of those who introduced the term “Rzhevskaya battle” into modern historiography) "Strange, unnecessary" trip head of the Supreme Command Headquarters.
The first one (which the researcher most adheres to): “The Supreme Commander wanted to personally see the places of fierce battles near the approaches to the capital, and Rzhev was interested in him as a city that had remained a“ thorn ”for more than a year, which could not be pulled out from under Moscow.” And really. The Germans stubbornly held this area of the Soviet-German front, considering it as a springboard for the next attack on the Russian capital. And after his release, he seemed to be the beginning of the “corridor to Europe”, as it was in October 1942, when he visited the 30 Army fighting here, Ilya Ehrenburg wrote: “Of course, the Germans do not care about the ruins of a second-rate city. Rzhev is the gateway. They can open east and west. One prisoner told me: “What does Rzhev have to do with it? .. It starts with trivial matters, it may end in Berlin ...”
This is said by a well-known writer and journalist, not for wit. Goebbels' propaganda at the end of 1942 of the year in a message to the soldiers of the Wehrmacht broadcast that Rzhev was “the impregnable line of the Fuhrer” and “the loss of Rzhev was equivalent to the loss of half Berlin”. Rzhev called the enemy "the springboard for the Russians against Berlin."
Candidate of Historical Sciences Gerasimov believes that "the impressions of the leader from this trip were probably strong." She recalled that already 8 and 9 of August he wrote about it to Roosevelt and Churchill, although he did not name specific places of his stay (subtle! - obviously, fully aware that Rzhev was still not the front line for a long time). In addition, according to her, “The Supreme Commander had previously placed Rzhev’s military operations on a par with the most significant battles for the largest cities. To which Rzhev did not belong - before the war, about 55 thousand people lived in it. In his order from 23 February 1943, he noted: “Our people will forever preserve the memory of the heroic defense of Sevastopol and Odessa, of the stubborn battles near Moscow and in the foothills of the Caucasus, near Rzhev and near Leningrad, about the greatest battle in the history of wars near the walls of Stalingrad ".
The second version. In those days, there was already a question about the meeting of the three leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition, which later embodied in the Tehran conference of the Big Three (November 28 - December 1 1943 of the year). And Stalin, who was afraid of a possible long flight, made his trip understand to the allies: “With this situation on the Soviet-German front, I, unfortunately, are deprived of the opportunity to leave and leave the front even for one week. In this regard, I have more often than usual to travel to the troops, to certain sectors of our front. In this position, I cannot go at this time to meet with you and the President to Scapa Flow (harbor and naval base on one of the islands in Scotland. - VZ) or to another remote location. ” This is an extract from Stalin’s letter to Churchill from August 9 of 1943, which begins with the words: “I have just returned from the front ...”
But then it seems illogical that this trip was not covered in any way in the Soviet press. It can be assumed that Churchill could be informed about her not only from Stalin himself, but also through other channels (diplomacy, residency); Leakage certainly contributed to the NKVD.
Third. The Supreme went to Rzhev in peak ... to Hitler. Which, as legend has it, was in the Rzhev area for the year “before” Stalin - in August or September of the 1942 year. Dmitry Ignatievich Shevlyugin, who fought 1942 in the 185 Infantry Division of the 30 Army near Rzhev in 1993, even gave the date of this event: “In the first days of our offensive (January 1942 of the year) (according to the indications of prisoners) Hitler flew in RNZHX and demanded that the command of the group of troops defending the Oleninsko-Rzhevsky bridgehead (9 th field, 3 th and 4 th tank armies), to hold it at all costs, considering Rzhev "eastern gate" for a new offensive on Moscow. Perhaps such a rumor in the trenches and wandered - why not? It could well have been launched by front-line special propaganda with the aim of additionally inspiring troops to battle: hardly anyone would want to capture the Fuhrer himself as a prisoner! But no German sources confirm this fact. Perhaps - bye. Some researchers believe that it could well have taken place, and this, they say, will become documented when the trophy archives are declassified.
It is known for certain that when the German troops left the city in March 1943, the Führer wanted to personally hear the explosion of the Volga bridge in Rzhev, and a direct connection was made to the Hitler’s heading over the Volga ...
Version four: go ... apologize
The daughter of Marshal Eremenko, Tatyana Andreevna, puts forward a fourth, personal version. Once she expressed the following: “It seemed to the Pope then that this visit of Stalin was like an apology for the fact that Yeremenko was not properly rewarded for Stalingrad.” And indeed, to carry out an offensive operation "Ring" to encircle the troops of Paulus 220-thousandth Army, the Supreme ordered the Don Front under the command of Colonel-General Konstantin Rokossovsky, and Eremenko, who defended the city on the Volga for several months, sent "far north" - a little Do not to the origins of the great Russian river. Andrei Ivanovich himself, dejected by this literally to tears (according to the testimony of Marshal Zhukov), wrote in his diaries that Stalin, meeting with him in Khoroshevo, started a conversation with this: they say, “should not be offended”: “We know, the whole knows Our people, that in the battle of Stalingrad you commanded two fronts and played a major role in the defeat of the fascist grouping near Stalingrad, and who finished the tethered hare, this is not a special role and does not play. ” In these lines it is impossible not to feel the frank embellishment of self-worth.
Most likely, this is a memoir of fantasy. Historians (for example, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Chief Researcher of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuri Zhukov) rightly believe that the author made a number of entries in his front-line diary in the post-war period, each time adapting to a renewed political environment: an attack on the personality cult of Stalin, the persecution of Marshal Zhukov, the displacement of Khrushchev. Thus, Eremenko, let's say, tried to perpetuate in his memory the descendants of his “visionary” personality, to “pay tribute” to his rather modest person against the background of truly bright front commanders. He even lustfully noted that the Supreme, leaving, had invited him for lunch on a special train at the nearest railway station, which is not confirmed in two detailed reminiscences left by representatives of the leader’s guards. The dinner, according to Yeremenko, who is proud of himself, ended with this: “Iosif Vissarionovich warmly said goodbye to me and presented me two bottles of tsinandali.”
The supreme commander was so “nothing to do” and he, unjustly not allowing the “main character of Stalingrad” to hit Paulus and capture him, so he experienced long 9 months after that, spitting on the leadership of the Stavka, went to the front to “apologize” "In front of Colonel-General Eremenko ... It seems that Eremenko completely lacked a sense of proportion in the cause of self-exaltation, in caring for how better to present ourselves to descendants. This should be discussed, because this version of Stalin's visit to the front is sometimes replicated in all seriousness.
A historical document recently launched by the Tver researcher Svetlana Gerasimova fully confirms the historical document: neither Stalin Eremenko did not have a train, nor received a “tsinandali” from the hands of the Supreme. The analysis of this document is the subject of the subsequent publication of the IEE. This is especially important to do, since the testimony of eyewitnesses who accompanied the leader on that trip is in many ways contradictory, muddled, not without embellishment.
As for the "riddle of the riddle" of Stalin's trip to the front, and in Rzhev in particular, then, as it should be understood from the above, only he himself knew the exact answer to it.