Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
25th February, 2016
In mid-November 1941 the German command thought that they would need just one punch, and Moscow would “bow down” before their European conquerors. The Nazi command, on 15th-16th November, threw two strike groups into the offensive, created in the first half of November 1941, seeking to bypass Moscow from the North through Klin-Solnechnogorsk and from the South via Tula-Kashira.
Frontiers of the German troops were very close to the capital. Kryukovo station, near which after two weeks of intense fighting the shaft of Hitler’s tanks was stopped, was located 40 kilometers from Leningrad station in Moscow.
Also the Germans had planned to go to Moscow along the Volokolamsk highway, but at the Dubosekovo junction 28 men from the 316th rifle division of General-major I.V Panfilov took the fight to the German infantry, and then to German tanks. The battle lasted over four hours. A handful of Soviet soldiers stood in the way of German tanks and with their lives they did not let the Germans on the Volokolamsk highway. Nearly all were killed. The feat of the 28 Panfilov heroes went down in history, as was thought then, forever, and in the words of political instructor V.G Klochkova “Great Russia, and nowhere to retreat, behind Moscow!” – everyone knew the defenders of Moscow.
Falling on the field of battle near Moscow on 18th November 1941 – the commander of the 316th rifle division, General-major I.V Panfilov. The documentary “the Unknown war” shows the funeral of I.V Panfilov. They are full of bright Russian sadness, they feel the Russian indomitable courage. Panfilov was followed by comrades in arms and, like from an epic fairy tale, his mighty fighting horse to the grave.
At Yasnaya Polyana, the Germans one day established large-caliber long-range artillery for bombardment of Moscow and absolutely destroyed the estate of L.N Tolstoy, desecrating his grave. Then our counter-attack drove the Germans back, capturing their guns. At the first opportunity the estate of L.N Tolstoy was completely restored, as well as the house of P.I Tchaikovsky in Klin. When you watch documentaries and see the level of destruction, it is difficult to believe in the possibility of restoring Yasnaya Polyana to the way it was. But, as we have seen, at the time the impossible was possible.
In the November offensive the Germans failed to break through our front and only slightly advanced towards Moscow, suffering heavy losses in manpower and equipment. Among the defenders of Moscow were distinguished soldiers General-majors L.M Dovator, A.P Beloborodov, and the regiment of Katukov. Partisans acted in the rear of German troops near Moscow.
The Germans were scared of the partisans. When they managed to detain a young female guerrilla fighter, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, they subjected her to severe torture, and hanged her on 29th November 1941 in the village of Petrishcheva. The whole country knew of the feat of Zoya. People were proud of her fortitude and pitied the young girl, who died in terrible agony at the hands of “civilized” European conquerors, destroying our land and manors of great writers, composers and Russian boys and girls who didn’t obey them.
In December the Germans had not captured Moscow and even on December 1st when they managed to break our defence at Naro-Fominsk, they were stopped and defeated in the area of Golitsyn. Simultaneously with the attack at Naro-Fominsk, the Germans on 2nd December launched a new offensive at Tula from the East and West. But Tula was a tough nut to crack, and even after cutting a road linking the city with Moscow, the Germans failed to take Tula. Moreover, the Soviet troops near Tula were surrounded by part of the 4th tank division and 2nd tank army of the Germans. Troops of the 50th army and the population of the city, who were protecting the city, showed heroism.
It should be noted that the defense of our troops near Moscow was successful because the front narrowed and we significantly increased the density of our defensive forces, and counter-strikes like, for example, near Tula, reduced the offensive capabilities of the German armies. The Germans didn’t want to admit that they were unable to defeat the Soviet army, and at one time blamed the disruption of the offensive on Moscow on the Russian winter, which according to information, for example, from Guderian, described it as minus 68 degrees Celsius.
These German generals cannot be called fully developed human beings, because educated people understand that cold at 68 degrees for a few hours would deprive the suburbs of all vegetation and turn it into the Antarctica. In fact, in the month of November the frosts of Moscow remained within the range of minus 5 degrees Celsius and only in the middle of the month did they briefly fall to minus 20 degrees.
Absolutely correctly, G.K Zhukov wrote that the German troops near Moscow were not stopped by the rain and snow, but by the “iron fortitude, courage and heroism of the Soviet troops, behind whom were their people, the capital, home.” The decisions during the Battle of Moscow were deeply thought out, and the execution of plans was well organized, which allowed our troops on November 29th 1941 to liberate the South of Rostov-on-don, and in the North on December 9th to liberate the town. By pinning down the southern and Northern group of German forces, our command had created favorable conditions for the offensive of the Red Army near Moscow.
It wasn’t the Siberian division who provided our troops the opportunity of transition to the offensive near Moscow, but the reserve army, which was created by the Stavka, and tightened towards Moscow before moving our troops on the offensive. Vasilevsky recalled: “A major event was the completion of the preparation of regular and special reserve forces. At the edge of Vytegra – Rybinsk – Gorky – Saratov – Stalingrad – Astrakhan a new strategic frontier for the Red Army was created. Ten reserve armies were created here on the basis of the decision of the GKO, which was accepted on the 5th October.
Creating them throughout the battle of Moscow was one of the basic and everyday concerns of the party Central Committee, GKO and Stavka. We, the leaders of the General staff, gave daily reports to the Supreme Commander about the situation on the fronts and reported in detail about the creation of these groups. It is no exaggeration to say that the outcome of the battle of Moscow was down to the decisive fact that the party and the Soviet people, in a timely manner, had formed, armed, trained and deployed a new army into the capital”.
The troops’ manpower and equipment was constantly replenished by the German leadership. By early December 1941, the “Center” army group had in its composition 1,708,000 soldiers, about 13,500 guns and mortars, 1,170 tanks, and 615 aircraft. Our troops by this time were ready to seize the strategic initiative.
The counter-offensive of the Red Army began at the same time on the huge front from Kalinin to Yelets. On the 5th of December 1941, without an operational pause, they went on the offensive on the Kalinin front (commander – Colonel General I.S Konev), on December 6th – as did the operational group of the southwestern front (commander – Marshal of the Soviet Union S.K Timoshenko, and on 18.12.1941 – Lieutenant-General F.Y Kostenko), also on December 6th the offensive and Western front began (commander – army General G.K Zhukov).
Together with the ground forces they attacked the German part of the military air force (air force commander – Lieutenant General P.F Zhigarev) and the long-range aviation (ADD) under the command of General A.E Golovanov, who from 30.11.1941, was personally subordinate to the Supreme Commander I.V Stalin.
The German armies across the broad front retreated, suffering heavy losses. The black uniforms of dead soldiers and officers of the SS, elite german divisions, especially stood out on the Russian white snow fields. And if in June 1941 German troops suddenly attacked us, in December 1941 near Moscow, the Germans were suddenly attacked by our Soviet troops.
Despite the deep snow and cold, our Red Army successfully attacked; the German army began to panic. On the attack near Moscow, Rokossovsky wrote: “The deep snow and extreme cold made it difficult for us to manoeuvre to the side of the roads with the aim to cut off escape routes of the enemy. So the German generals, perhaps, can thank the harsh winter that contributed to their departure from Moscow with fewer losses, but they cannot refer to the idea that the Russian winter was the cause of their defeat. During the retreat the German troops did everything to slow down our approach. They densely mined roads, arranged various traps… On the way the Nazis burned all the villages. If any houses had survived, they were mined.”
A.M Vasilevsky wrote that in Moscow, the Germans lost more than 500,000 people, 1,300 tanks, 2,500 guns, over 15,000 cars and a lot of other equipment. The German army had not experienced such losses.
And if the USSR in December 1941 won the battle of Moscow and crushed the enemy, the United States suffered one defeat after another from Japan, which was an order of magnitude weaker than the new Germany. Germany also never missed an opportunity to show its power to England and the U.S. with the onset of Rommel’s armies in Egypt and the appearance of German submarines off the coast of the U.S, which sank American ships not only in transit but also in the coastal zone of New York.
American historian Robert Sherwood, who called the winter of 1941/42 “winter disasters”, wrote: “The only source of good news was the Russian front. The Red Army, continuing their remarkable counterattacks, beat snow-covered, frostbitten Germans with many advanced positions”.
Please note the derogatory, abusive, belittling of the Red Army, of its perseverance and courage, its arms and heroism in the battles. After all, “Beaten snow-covered, frostbitten Germans” is not worth any effort. This does not win the battle, but the mockery of the frost-bitten “people”, is worthy of pity. So, in reading between the lines of R. Sherwood’s evaluation is the heroic resistance of the Soviet people. Neither valor, nor the scale of the fighting of the Red Army (counterattack) is in the assessment of R. Sherwood, which shows only a desire to humiliate both us and our heroism. So read between the lines – the allegedly defective Russian barbarians killed frostbitten enlightened German soldiers.
Yes, they are all much of a muchness: Western liberalism, and its creation of fascism. And they both wished for and today wish for our death. For this purpose the Nazis came in 1941 to kill us. Glory to the Soviet people! The USSR withstood the first blow and responded with dignity. Zhukov, who carried the first major victory in the battle of Moscow with him for the rest of his life, wrote: “Stalin was all this time in Moscow, organizing forces and means for the defeat of the enemy. I’ll give him his dues. As the head of the State Committee of Defence and based on the administrative board of the People’s Commissariats, he had done tremendous work in organizing the necessary strategic reserves and the material-technical means. The rigid insistence he achieved, one might say, was almost impossible.”
To be continued…