In July, 1940, the Wehrmacht’s ground forces general staff was already developing a war plan with the USSR. 21 July Hitler categorically stated: "The Russian problem will be resolved by the offensive." 22 July Halder received a task from the commander-in-chief of the land forces to comprehensively think through various options “concerning the operation against Russia”.
Initially, the development of a war plan with the USSR was entrusted to the chief of 18 Army General E. Marx, who had the special trust of Adolf Hitler. In planning, Erich Marx proceeded from the instructions of Halder, who introduced his course of military-political attitudes regarding the impending war in the East.
General Tippelskirch noted: “The beginning of military preparations can be traced from the summer of 1940. At the end of July, before an order was given for an air attack on England, Jodl informed one of his closest employees that Hitler had decided to prepare a war against the Soviet Union. This war should have begun in all circumstances, and then it would be better to wage it within the framework of the ongoing war; in any case, it is necessary to prepare for it. Initially, they even discussed the possibility of starting a new war in the coming fall (i.e., in the 1940 year). However, this would have to face insurmountable difficulties associated with strategic concentration, and this idea was soon abandoned. ”
On July 31, 1940, at a meeting with the Wehrmacht’s top command, Hitler formulated the general strategic idea of a war against the USSR: “The operation falls into: 1st strike: Kiev, access to the Dnieper; aviation destroys the crossing. Odessa. 2nd strike: through the Baltic states to Moscow; in the future, a bilateral strike - from the north and south; later - a private operation to seize Baku. ”
On August 5, the initial version of the war plan with the USSR, the Fritz plan, was prepared by General Marx. At the beginning of the plan, it was noted that "The campaign’s goal is to defeat the Russian armed forces and make Russia incapable of opposing Germany in the foreseeable time." That is, Berlin went on direct aggression, there was no threat from the USSR. And the Germans knew this: "The Russians will not render us services by attacking us."
It was planned that the main blow would be struck by the Wehrmacht on Moscow from Northern Poland and East Prussia. In general, the German troops were supposed to reach the line of Arkhangelsk, Gorky and Rostov-on-Don. On the Polish and East Prussian bridgeheads, it was planned to deploy the main strike force grouping - Army Group North, consisting of three armies, a total of 68 divisions (of which 15 tank and 2 motorized). Army Group North was to defeat the Russian forces in the western direction, capture the northern part of the Soviet Union and take Moscow. The decisive importance was assigned to the capture of Moscow, which would lead, Marx pointed out, to "an end to Soviet resistance." In the future, it was planned to turn the front to the south and, in cooperation with the southern group, seize southern Russia.
The second strike was to be delivered to the south of the Pripyat marshes by forces of Army Group South, consisting of two armies, all 35 divisions (including 5 tank and 7 motorized). Its purpose was the defeat of the Soviet troops in Ukraine, the seizure of Kiev and the crossing of the Dnieper in the middle course. In reserve, the main command remained 44 divisions, which were located the second echelon of the Army Group "North".
Thus, the plan envisaged an offensive operation in two strategic directions, a deep dissection of the strategic front of the Red Army and, after forcing the Dnieper, the Soviet forces reached the central regions in giant ticks. It was emphasized that the outcome of the war will largely depend on effective and rapid actions of tank and motorized formations. That is, just like during the First World War, the German generals dreamed of gigantic "Cannes" - the reach, encirclement and defeat of the main enemy forces, which led to a decisive success in the entire campaign. Taking into account the qualitative growth of the mechanization of the ground forces, the appearance of the shock armored "kulaks" and the development of the role of aviation, now the German army had every chance of success of such an operation. For the defeat of the Red Army and the victorious conclusion of the war, 9 weeks were allotted, with the worst case scenario 17 weeks. Marx’s plan was based on the idea of a “blitzkrieg”.
In terms of the war against the USSR, developed by General E. Marx, the foundations were laid for the future defeat of the Third Reich: the underestimation of the military-economic power of the Soviet Union, which in recent years has risen to a much higher level; reassessment of the Wehrmacht’s ability to achieve a quick and crushing victory. Examples of the quick defeat of the powerful armies of Poland and France "spoiled" the Germans, they believed that any enemy could be crushed in a quick campaign. They did not take into account the factor of moral unity and perseverance of the Soviet people, ready for any sacrifice in order to preserve freedom and to achieve victory. They were mistaken in the assessment of the Soviet leadership; Stalin and the Soviet military-political leadership did not intend to flee or capitulate. The emphasis was placed on the weakness and inability of the Soviet leadership to cope with the enormous difficulties caused by the sudden invasion of the enemy, and his inability to prevent in the face of chaos and panic, the collapse of the state and political system, to mobilize the country's resources to resist the enemy.
The German leadership did not take into account at all that the USSR of the sample 1940-1941. differs sharply from Soviet Russia 1920 - early 1930's. The Red Empire was a “monolith”: with a single people and elite, with a leader who was not going to “surrender” the country; with educated in the spirit of patriotism, the priority of the ideal, the people over the material and personal population; with a powerful economy and military-industrial complex, which produced all types of weapons and equipment, and some weapons was the foremost and best in the world. The Fifth Column (Trotskyist internationalists), which was counted on in Berlin, was largely destroyed or driven underground. Therefore, the “1917 g.” Scenario, when the “elite” of the Russian Empire practically destroyed the autocracy itself and sentenced Russia to defeat in the war, was impossible to implement in the USSR. Such a country and people could not be won in the “quick war”.
The viciousness and adventurism of the principles underlying the original plan of war against the USSR were not overcome in the course of further planning. For example, in Berlin, it was believed that the rejection of the western border regions of the USSR would lead to a complete collapse of the Soviet military-industrial complex. That is, the enemy did not find or did not attach serious importance to the fact that Moscow created the second industrial base in the eastern regions of the country and duplicated the main enterprises, creating a huge safety margin for the entire economy as a whole and the military-industrial complex in particular.
Therefore, the German military-political leadership made wrong conclusions. Like, the Red Army, in order to preserve industry, will take a decisive counter-offensive in the border areas. This will allow the Wehrmacht to crush the main forces of the USSR ground forces in the shortest possible time. Moreover, the possibility of restoring Soviet military power after a defeat in a border battle was excluded. It was believed that the German troops would be in the ensuing chaos, as in 1918, with a quiet march and small forces moving along the main communications deep into the East. The main emphasis was on the fact that the USSR was a “colossus on clay feet,” which would collapse during a strong blow. Then you can push the weak, poorly organized resistance of individual centers, groups, and calmly occupy vast Russian territories. The German leadership also counted on the mass support of the Soviet people, national and religious minorities "oppressed by the Bolshevik regime." Mass heroism, a large-scale guerrilla movement and a fierce rebuff of the majority of the population was a big surprise for the Nazis.
From the very beginning, the moment was missed that if the Soviet government and the army did not falter and organize stubborn resistance in the western regions, weakening the Wehrmacht’s strike power, then Moscow would gain time for the transfer of troops from other regions of the country, the evacuation of the defense industry to the East of the country, so that relying on the huge raw materials and energy resources of the Urals and Siberia, to restore the economic potential, as well as to mobilize all the human reserves of Soviet civilization to fight. In this way, the enemy seriously underestimated the organizational skills of the Soviet military-political leadership and the internal stability of the Red Empire. “Subhumans”, according to “true Aryans,” were simply incapable of such a high level of organization and discipline.
It was a real failure of German intelligence, which was unable to correctly determine the defenses of the USSR, its spiritual, moral, political, military, economic potentials, could not make a real forecast of the development of events of the war in the East. It made huge miscalculations on many important issues, in particular, in estimating the number of Soviet troops in peacetime and in wartime, the prospects for its increase after mobilization, in estimating the quantitative and qualitative parameters of the material part of our armored forces and air forces. For example, German intelligence did not know about the real annual production of aircraft and tanks in the USSR. On the technical characteristics of the tank T-34 in Germany did not know. An unpleasant surprise for the Germans was a heavy KV tank.
It is worth noting that it is believed that this failure of German intelligence was conscious. The German military-political leadership was simply misinformed. To Germany attacked the USSR without hesitation, and Berlin did not dare to go into a strategic alliance with Moscow. The axis Berlin - Moscow was a terrible dream for England and the USA. Given that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of German intelligence and counterintelligence (Abwehr), apparently worked for Britain, this version has a right to exist. In addition, she explains the reasons for the "failure" of German intelligence and the "blindness" of the German leadership.
In captivity of the illusions about the weakness of the USSR, not only was the headquarters of the ground forces, but also the entire military-political leadership of Nazi Germany. The idea of a “blitzkrieg” war against the USSR, absolute confidence in its feasibility, was the basis of the military-economic preparation of the Russian campaign. So, 17 August 1940, at a meeting at the headquarters of the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces (OKW) devoted to this issue, Field Marshal Keitel called "the crime of trying to create such production facilities at the present time that will have an effect only after 1941. Invest it is possible only in such enterprises that are necessary to achieve the goal and will have the corresponding effect. ” In this way, Germany was preparing for a “quick war” in the East and was not ready for a long and exhausting campaign when the country mobilized all the forces and resources to achieve victory.
General Erich Marx
In the summer and fall of 1940, the German Wehrmacht High Command began to forcefully send its troops to Poland, closer to the Soviet borders. To this end, the railway network in Poland was improved, old lines were repaired and new roads were laid, communication lines were installed.
Immediately after the defeat of France, three German armies of the von Boc group - 4-I, 12-I and 18-I, consisting of up to 30 divisions, were sent to the East, in the region of Poznan. Of the 24 formations that were part of the 16 and 9 armies of Group A, which were intended to strike at England under the Sea Lion plan, 17 was transferred to the East. In Poland, the headquarters of the 18 Army was deployed, which united all German forces in the East. Between July 16 and August 14, more than 20 German divisions were redeployed. The troops moved from Central France to the coast of the English Channel and Pas-de-Calais, and then through Belgium and Holland to Germany and further to Poland, to the borders of the Soviet Union. These strange marches pursued a single goal: to cover up Germany’s preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union.
By September 20 1940 from France to the borders of the USSR, in East Prussia, Poland, Upper Silesia, was transferred around 30 divisions. Since for Germany since the autumn of 1940, the preparation of the war against the Soviet Union was decisive, 12 of October 1940 was ordered to cease all measures to prepare the Sea Lion plan until the spring of 1941. Tank, motorized and infantry divisions intended for a landing to England, at the end of summer and in the fall of 1940 were loaded into cars and directed to the Soviet borders.
Only time constraints - the Germans did not have time to make a strategic concentration for aggression against the USSR - kept them from attacking the Soviet Union in the 1940 year. General Got wrote: “At that time, Hitler, who was going to launch an offensive against Russia in the fall (1940 in the fall), reported that it would take from four to six weeks to concentrate and deploy troops along the eastern border ... On July 31, Hitler outlined his intentions specifically, he said that he would have most willingly launched an offensive against Russia this year. But this cannot be done, since hostilities will take over the winter, and the pause is dangerous; the operation only makes sense if we defeat the Russian state with one blow. ”
Developments F. Paulus. Lossberg plan
Further work on the plan for a war against the USSR was continued by General F. Paulus, who was appointed to the post of chief chief of office - assistant chief of the general staff of the ground forces. In order to expand the scope of work on the plan of war against the USSR, Hitler connected generals to it, who were to lead the headquarters of army groups on the Eastern Front. They were invited to independently investigate the problem of going to the East.
General Paulus was entrusted with the task, based on the Fritz plan, to develop considerations regarding the grouping of troops for waging war against the USSR, the order of their strategic concentration and deployment. 17 September this work was completed and Paulus was tasked to summarize all the results of preliminary operational and strategic planning. October 29 was prepared by a memorandum by Paulus “On the main plan of the operation against Russia”. It emphasized that in order to ensure a decisive superiority in forces and means over Soviet troops, it was necessary to achieve a surprise invasion, for which it was necessary to carry out a set of measures to mislead the enemy. It was also pointed out the need for the encirclement and destruction of the Soviet troops in the border area in order to prevent them from retreating into the interior of the country.
The headquarters of the operational leadership of the Supreme High Command also developed a plan for war with the USSR. Under the direction of General Jodl, the head of the ground forces group of the operational division of the OKW, Lieutenant Colonel B. Lossberg, was engaged in it. By 15 September 1940 they presented their own version of the plan of war with the USSR. Many of his ideas were embodied in the final plan of the war against the USSR. The purpose of the war was determined by the following: “By swift actions to destroy a mass of ground forces in Western Russia, prevent the withdrawal of combat-ready forces into the depths of Russian space, and then cut off the western part of Russia from the seas, break through to a line that, on the one hand, would secure us the most important areas Russia, on the other hand, could serve as a convenient barrier from its Asian part. At the same time, the operational space of Russia, where combat operations take place at the first stage, is divided into two parts by the Pripyat marshes, so that the ulnar communication between the groups of troops operating north and south of the marshes can only be established during the pursuit. ” Further, the idea is expressed that "with the superiority of the forces possessed by the German army, combat operations should be conducted simultaneously in both operational spaces."
The Lossberg plan envisaged the deployment of offensive operations by troops of three army groups in three strategic directions, and not two as in Marx, in Leningrad (northern), Moscow (central) and Kiev (southern). Army Group North was hitting from East Prussia in the general direction of Leningrad. The main blow was delivered not by the north, as in Marx, but by the central group, Army Group Center. She was advancing along the Minsk – Smolensk – Moscow line. Here they planned to use the bulk of armored formations. After the capture of Smolensk, the continuation of the offensive in the central direction was made dependent on the situation in the band of the Army Group North. In the event of a delay in its attack on the Leningrad direction, it was supposed to suspend the advancement of the “Center” group on Moscow and send part of its forces to help the northern army group.
Army Group "South" had the task of covering the Red Army from both sides in the area from the Pripyat marshes to the Black Sea, destroying them, seizing Ukrainian territory during the pursuit, forcing the Dnieper and establishing connection with the northern strategic flank. It was planned to involve Finland and Romania in the war with the Soviet Union. German and Finnish troops were to form a separate task force for the main forces to attack Leningrad and part of the forces on Murmansk.
Thus, the Lossberg plan provided for the application of powerful dissecting blows, encirclement and destruction of large groups of the Red Army. The final frontier of the advancement of the German troops was determined by whether an internal catastrophe occurs in Russia after the first decisive successes of the Wehrmacht, and if it does, when it happens. It was believed that having lost Western Russia and access to the seas, Russia is unlikely to retain its combat capability, and even taking into account the possibilities of Russian industry in the Urals, Russia will no longer be able to wage war. Much attention was paid to surprise attacks. Lossberg repeatedly returned to this problem: “It is important to achieve that Russia ... does not suspect of imminent danger and would not have grounds for taking countermeasures ...”
To be continued ...