21st Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 21st Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. Formed in March 1941, in response to the German victories in the West it was attached to the newly forming 27th Army, held in reserve near Opochka in Soviet Union 130 kilometres South of Pskov in the Special Baltic Military District, it was under the command of Major General Lelyushenko when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941. It consisted of the 42nd and 46th Tank Divisions, the 185th Mechanized Division. A After the Invasion began the Special Baltic Military District was renamed Northwestern Front, Commanded by Colonel General Kutznetsov; the front fielded 11th Armies with the 27th Armies in its second echelon. The 21st Mechanized was engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa during the Baltic Operation. After the spectacular advances by 4th Panzer Group Kutznetsov asked Stavka for the release of Berzarin's 27th Army and the 21st Mechanized Corps on 25 June and was ordered to halt Erich von Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps, closing up to the Daugava River that day both units engaged near Dvinsk.
Next Army Group North sent a special force which captured the bridges at Daugavpils and consolidated with 8th Panzer Division. As the fighting intensified elements of 21st Mechanized Corps broke into the Northern suburbs of the town, with fierce house-to-house fighting. After failing to clear Daugavpils further fighting and attacks by the Luftwaffe succeeded in wearing down its forces during next two days to the extent that by 29 June it had only seven operational tanks, 74 artillery pieces and more than 4,000 men left and was exhausted as a fighting force. On 30 June the Soviet Air Force put in an all out effort which resulted in the loss of 43 aircraft but did not succeed in destroying the principal river crossings over the Daugava River but did succeed in destroying some pontoon bridges.b After continuing a fighting retreat through the Baltic states in July, but in remnants the 21st Mechanized Corps was disbanded in August 1941.c a On 22 June 1941 21st Mechanized Corps consisted of 98 tanks including Soviet Kv-1s, T-26, Bt 7, T-34s models, plus 130 artillery guns.
B On 11 July 1941 Col P Poluboiarov, Northwestern Front armoured directorate reported that the 21st Mechanized Corps had been committed in large formations without cooperation from Artillery and Air Support. It had only'25 Kv-1s, 10 T-26s, 4 Bt 7s and 2 T-34s remaining and'is no longer a mechanized formation, its motorized infantry are most simple infantry reinforced by a few tanks. C On 23 July 1941 Major General Lelyushenko reported that the 21st Mechanized Corps had suffered 6,284 casualties, or 60% of its combat strength during the first month of combat
4th Guards Motor Rifle Division
The 4th Guards Motor Rifle Division was a motorized infantry division of the Soviet Army during the Cold War. The division began its history as the 13th Tank Corps of the Red Army, formed in April 1942 during World War II and fought in the Soviet counterattack against Case Blue, the Battle of Voronezh, the Battle of Stalingrad; the corps lost so many tanks that it was reorganized with a mechanized corps structure in November, though it retained the 13th Tank Corps designation. For its actions the corps became the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps in early 1943 and received the Stalingrad honorific, it continued to fight in combat for most of the rest of the war, receiving the Order of the Red Banner for its role in the Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive of early 1944, the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class for its actions in the Odessa Offensive, the Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class for its actions in the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. In the final months of the war the corps advanced into Bulgaria, Serbia and southern Czechoslovakia before being withdrawn into the reserve.
Several weeks after the end of the war, the corps was converted into the 4th Guards Mechanized Division and based at Sofia. In the late 1940s it was withdrawn to Ukraine, was based at Lugansk by the time it became the 63rd Guards Motor Rifle Division in 1957, it was renumbered as the 4th Guards Motor Rifle Division to preserve its traditions in 1964, was sent to Termez during the Soviet–Afghan War to replace a division deployed to the latter. When it returned to Lugansk in 1989, the division was reduced to a storage base, disbanded in 1991; the corps was formed during April and May 1942 in the Stalingrad Military District as the 13th Tank Corps, under the command of Major General Pyotr Shurov. It included the 65th, 85th, 88th Tank Brigades as well as the 20th Motor Rifle Brigade and support units; the corps saw its first combat on 10 June in the area of Prikolotnoye southwest of Kupiansk as part of the Southwestern Front. During June and July the corps was part of the 28th Army transferred to the 21st Army to participate in the Battle of Voronezh.
Shruov was mortally wounded in July and replaced by Colonel Trofim Tanaschishin, who would be promoted to major general on 7 December 1942 and to lieutenant general on 30 August 1943. On 23 July 1942 it was transferred to the Stalingrad Front, with which it fought in the Battle of Stalingrad. Due to heavy losses of tanks, in November the corps was reorganized as a mechanized corps with the 1st, 17th, 62nd Mechanized Brigades, though it retained the 13th Tank Corps designation; the corps fought in Operation Uranus, helping to encircle the Axis southern flank, in the repulse of the German counterattack Operation Winter Storm, in the counteroffensive of Operation Little Saturn. For "showing perseverance, courage and organization" in these actions, in addition to the "heroism displayed by its personnel," the corps was made an elite Guards unit, the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps, on 9 January 1943, received the Stalingrad honorific on 27 January, its subordinate brigades accordingly became the 13th, 14th, 15th Guards Mechanized Brigades.
Between January 1943 and mid-January 1944 the corps fought as part of the Southern Front, which became the 4th Ukrainian Front on 20 October 1943. It participated in the Rostov Offensive, the Donbass Strategic Offensive, the Melitopol Offensive during this period. Transferred to the 3rd Ukrainian Front in mid-January 1944, the corps was attached to the 8th Guards Army for the Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive. Between 16 and 18 January it was relocated to support a breakthrough of the flanks on the 46th and 8th Guards Armies, with the objective of capturing the critical rail junction of Apostolovo to link up with forces of the 4th Ukrainian Front and cut off German troops in the Nikopol bridgehead. During the offensive, it helped to capture Nikopol and Apostolovo, earning it the Order of the Red Banner for its "exemplary completion of combat missions" and "valor and courage" on 13 February 1944; the 4th Guards Mechanized was attached to a Cavalry Mechanized Group commanded by Lieutenant General Issa Pliyev for the subsequent Bereznegovatoye–Snigeryovka and Odessa Offensives.
For helping to capture Odessa among other objectives during the latter, the corps was awarded the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class, on 20 April. Among the corps personnel posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title for their actions in these operations were tank commanders and Junior Lieutenants Boris Grebennikov and Vadim Sivkov, gunner and radio operator Ryadovoy Pyotr Krestyaninov. Tanaschishin was killed in action during the Odessa Offensive at the end of March and replaced by Major General Vladimir Zhdanov, who commanded it for the rest of the war and was promoted to Lieutenant General on 13 September. Attacking in conjunction with the 7th Mechanized and 18th Tank Corps during the August Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, the corps reached the area of Huși and Leova to encircle and destroy a large Axis group of eighteen divisions. For this action it received the Order of 2nd class, on 7 September. In early September the corps swept southward into Bulgaria west during the Belgrade Offensive to capture the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade on 20 October.
For their actions in the latter 214 corps personnel received Yugoslav decorations, Zhdanov was made a Hero of Yugoslavia. The corps was transferred to the 2nd Ukrainian Front in late October, served with it until February 1945; the corps was successively attached to the 46th Army from 1 November, Cavalry-Mechanized Group Pliev from 28 November, the 6th Guards Tank Army from 23 December, the 7th Guards Army from 26 January 1945 during the Budapest Offensive. It sa
11th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 11th Mechanized Corps was a mechanized corps of the Red Army, formed twice. The corps was first formed as one of the original two Red Army mechanized corps from the 11th Rifle Division in Leningrad. In 1934 it was transferred to the Transbaikal Military District and in 1938 became the 20th Tank Corps; the corps was reformed in March 1941 in western Belarus. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the understrength corps was destroyed in the Battle of Białystok–Minsk; the 11th Mechanized Corps was formed from March to September 1932 from the 11th Rifle Division in Leningrad, one of the first two Red Army mechanized corps. The corps was commanded by division commander Komkor Kasyan Chaykovsky and its chief of staff was Mikhail Bakshi; the 31st Mechanized Brigade was formed from the 32nd Rifle Regiment named for Volodarsky, the 32nd Mechanized Brigade from the 33rd Rifle Regiment named for Voskov, the 33rd Rifle and Machine Gun Brigade from the 31st Rifle Regiment named for Uritsky. The 31st Brigade was equipped with the T-26 and the 32nd Brigade was equipped with the BT-2.
The corps at the time had a total of 220 tanks. On 1 January 1933 the 83rd Aviation Group was attached the corps, was reformed into the Motor-Mechanized Squadron. By March of that year the brigades were based in Tsarskoye Selo and Stary Peterhof, while the corps headquarters and rear units were still in Leningrad. In December, the 32nd Brigade's 1st Tank Battalion was transferred to the 6th Mechanized Brigade in the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army. On 16 January 1934 the corps received the honorific "Leningrad", the 31st Brigade received the honorific "named for Uritsky", the 32nd Brigade the honorific "named for Volodarsky", the 33rd Brigade the honorific "named for Voskov". On 4 May 1934, the separate anti-aircraft battalion was removed from the corps; as a replacement, an anti-aircraft machine gun battalion was formed. On 1 August, the 33rd Rifle and Machine Gun Brigade was transferred to the newly formed 7th Mechanized Corps. In September, the Motor-Mechanized Squadron was removed from the corps.
In 1934, the corps headquarters and the 32nd Brigade redeployed to Borzya. The 31st Brigade stayed in the Leningrad Military District and became part of the 7th Mechanized Corps. On 21 October the T-26 equipped; the corps headquarters and the 32nd Brigade were deployed to Crossing 76 and the 6th Brigade was at Crossing 77. In February 1935, the reconnaissance and anti-aircraft machine gun battalions were disbanded; the mechanized brigades were reequipped with BT tanks. In May 1935 the corps became part of the Transbaikal Military District. In February 1936, Chaykovsky was replaced by district deputy commander Komdiv Yakov Davidovsky. After the signing of a Soviet-Mongolian mutual assistance treaty, units of the corps were deployed to Mongolia in March. On 8 June 1937 Davidovsky was arrested. On 19 August 1937 the 32nd Brigade became part of the 57th Special Rifle Corps as the Special Mechanized Brigade. By 11 September, the 5th Mechanized Corps' 13th Mechanized Brigade became part of the corps at Crossing 76.
On 19 March 1938 Komdiv Boris Sheremetov became corps commander. The corps was shortly afterwards converted into the 20th Tank Corps; the corps was formed in March 1941 in the Western Special Military District at Vawkavysk, part of the 3rd Army. The corps was commanded by Major General Dmitry Mostovenko, its deputy commander was Pyotr Makarov, the chief of staff was Colonel Semyon Mukhin, the artillery commander was Nikolai Mikhailovich Starostin. The corps' 29th Tank Division was formed from the 25th Tank Brigade in Grodno; the 33rd Tank Division was formed from the 15th Tank Brigade in Sokółka. The 204th Motorized Division was formed from the 9th Motorized Brigade in Vawkavysk. By 22 June, when the German invasion of the Soviet Union began, the corps had 241 tanks, including three KV tanks, 28 T-34s, 44 BT tanks, 141 T-26 tanks; the corps had less than half of its authorized strength. The corps was ordered to counterattack German troops from the 8th Infantry Division advancing near Grodno. Two tank regiments of the 29th Tank Division attacked a kampfgruppe from Infantry-Regiment 84 and assault guns of Sturmgeschutz-Abeiltung 184.
Division commander Studnev mistakenly identified the assault guns as tanks and halted the advance, allowing German air support and artillery to disable about half of the two regiments' tanks. The two regiments retreated after four hours. About fifty casualties were suffered by the 8th Infantry Division in the fighting. On 24 June the corps renewed the counterattacks, but was unable to help the 6th Mechanized Corps due to a lack of radio communications. During these attacks, the 11th Mechanized Corps lost a large number of its remaining tanks to air attacks and fuel shortages. On the next day, the 6th and 11th Corps were ordered to retreat east towards Slonim to prevent German forces from cutting the Minsk-Warsaw Highway; the retreat became a rout. Mostovenko was able to restore order and organized the corps into several combat groups by gathering remaining fuel and vehicles; the corps retreated east near Vawkavysk through the forest, running into the German 29th Infantry Division at Zelva and losing several tanks.
Crossing the Shchara River on 27 June, the corps ran into German positions at Klepachi and Ozernitsa. The 29th Tank Division's 57th Tank Regiment commander Major Iosif Cheryapkin led ten tanks out of the encirclement while wounded. On 28 June, Mostovenko held a meeting with his subordinates, ordering a retreat in small groups through Novogrudok and Mir. Mostovenko and 33rd Tank Division commander Mikhail Panov escaped. Starostin and Makarov were
13th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 13th Mechanized Corps was a mechanized corps of the Red Army, formed in March 1941. Stationed in the Białystok salient, the corps was destroyed during the Battle of Białystok–Minsk; the 13th Mechanized Corps was formed in March 1941 in Bielsk Podlaski as part of the 10th Army in the Western Special Military District. Major General Pyotr Akhlyustin commanded the corps, Major General Vasily Ivanov was its deputy commander for combat troops, Colonel Ivan Grizunov was its chief of staff; the division's 25th Tank Division was formed from the 44th Light Tank Brigade at Gomel and was relocated to Łapy. The division had most of the corps' tanks; the 31st Tank Division was formed from the 1st Tank Brigade at Gmina Boćki. By 30 May, the division had the 62nd, with few armored vehicles; the 208th Motorized Division was formed at Hajnówka from the 14th Motorized Machine Gun-Artillery Brigade. With its positions in the center of the Białystok salient, the corps was to support the 5th Rifle Corps. By 22 June, when the German invasion of the Soviet Union began, the corps had 294 light tanks, including 263 T-26s and 15 BT tanks.
A small number of T-34 and KV-1 tanks were transferred to the corps from the 6th Mechanized Corps for training purposes. The corps was at 49 percent of its strength; the corps was alerted on the night of 22 June. At 0200 in the morning corps headquarters moved into the forest 15 kilometers southwest of Bielsk Podlaski; the first staff echelon of the 2nd Rifle Corps from Minsk moved into the 13th Mechanized Corps' former headquarters at Bielsk Podlaski. On the morning of 22 June, the motorized infantry of the 6th and 13th Mechanized Corps began to prepare positions on the Narew from Żółtki to Suraz and onwards to Topczewo, Brańsk, Gmina Boćki; the 13th Mechanized Corps fought the vanguard of the German IX Army Corps. The combat-ready units of the 31st Tank Division blocked the Drohiczyn-Bielsk-Białystok road; the engineers of the 31st Pontoon Bridge Battalion and the regimental school motorized regiment were defending positions five kilometers west of Gmina Boćki. Alongside them was the 157th Airfield Services Battalion, based at Dołubowo airfield.
At 0800 the German troops reached the Nurzec River. By the afternoon, the defenses of the 31st Tank Division had been broken through; the disorganized units of the division retreated 10 kilometers towards Gmina Białystok. The 25th Tank Division's reconnaissance battalion joined the battle before the rest of the division. At Brańsk the battalion blocked the advance of German units. Despite having armored vehicles, the battalion could not resist superior German troops for long; the battalion was pushed back to the Nurzec. Akhlyustin sent in the 18th Motorcycle Regiment to help the battalion. Regimental commander Captain Alexey Gromov took about a hundred motorcycles and three tanks to Brańsk, but only the vanguard reached the city; the regiment suffered heavy losses. The remnants of the regiment retreated towards Bielsk. A detachment of the division's 113th Tank Regiment led by Major Koshkin was sent to Brańsk. However, he "slipped" through the city and for unknown reasons moved to Bielsk; the remaining units of the regiment were attached to the infantry during the day.
The 50th Tank Regiment did not see much action on 22 June. Its 3rd Battalion was sent to rescue infantry units but became stuck in a bog, losing many tanks to artillery fire. During the night the regiment moved to the area of Men; the regimental school of the 25th Motor Rifle Regiment attacked first, suffering such heavy losses that the unit ceased to exist. By 1000 on 23 June, the 25th Tank Division was holding positions at Men and Brańsk, its motor rifle regiment was at Raysk and Gatki. The 31st Tank Division held positions at Voytki and Andrianki; the 208th Motorized Division was at Nowosady, Hajnówka, Lipin. Corps headquarters was in the forest north of Golody. On 23 June, the counterattack at Brańsk involved all the forces of the 25th Tank Division and 18th Motorcycle Regiment, as well as the 208th Motorized Division's 760th Motorized Regiment; the town twice was recaptured and lost. The 25th Division began having suffered heavy losses; the corps fought in battles around Men, the northern outskirts of Brańsk, Gmina Boćki, Diduli.
By the end of 24 June, the German troops had broken through the lines of the corps on the Orlanka at Bielsk and Zabłudów. The corps lost all of its tanks in the fighting and with a small number of armored vehicles fought delaying actions; the units of the corps were separated and had no connection with the command, half-encircled. The 31st Tank Division was in Łapy, small pockets of the 208th Motorized Division were at the junction of the Nurzec and the Narew, scattered remnants of the 25th Tank Division retreated on Vawkavysk; the 25th and 31st Tank Divisions retreated towards the Białowieża Forest and the 208th Motorized Division moved from the Narew to Svislach and to Białystok. On 28 June German troops advancing from Bielsk and Hrodna linked up in the Berestovitsa area, splitting the Białystok pocket into several smaller pockets; the 208th Motorized Division retreated to Vawkavysk. Corps headquarters and separate groups were consolidated into a unit led by Akhlyustin; the 31st Tank Division was divided into two groups, led by Colonels Kalikhovich and Lebedev, moved deeper into the Białowieża Forest.
A covering detachment was created under the command of battalion commissar Kochetkov. The group led by Kalikhovich evaded the pursuit and went deep into the forest, where he met remnants of the 49th and 113th Rifle Divisions. Kalikhovich decided to break t
12th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 12th Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. Formed in March 1941 in response to the German victories in the West, it served with the 8th Army and was held in reserve near Šiauliai in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunasa in the Special Baltic Military District. Under the command of Major General N. M. Shestopalov when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941, it consisted of the 23rd and 28th Tank Divisions and the 202nd Mechanized Division. After the invasion began the Special Baltic Military District was renamed Northwestern Front, commanded by Colonel General Kutznetsov; the front fielded the 11th Armies along with the 27th Army in its second echelon. The 12th Mechanized was engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa during the Baltic Operation and at the Battle of Raseiniai, by early July it had ceased to exist as a formation, although remnants rejoined Soviet lines later. B c By the end of 22 June, the German armoured spearheads had crossed the Niemen and penetrated 80 kilometres.
The next day, Kutznetsov committed his armoured forces to battle. Near Raseiniai, the XLI Panzer Corps was counter-attacked by the tanks of the Soviet 3rd and 12th Mechanised Corps, but this concentration of Soviet armour was detected by the Luftwaffe, which directed heavy air attacks from Fliegerkorps I Ju 88s against tank columns of the 12th Mechanised Corps south-west of Šiauliai. These attacks were carried out with great success; the Soviet 23rd Tank Division sustained severe losses, with 40 tanks or lorries set ablaze. On 25 June, the Germans destroyed another 30 tanks and 50 lorries; the 28th Tank Division alone lost 84 tanks. The battle would last four days. After escaping the encirclement at Raseiniai and making a fighting retreat through Estonia during July, the remnants of the 12th Mechanized Corps were disbanded in August 1941. However, the 28th Tank Division was reported as part of the Novgorod Operational Group on 1 September 1941, while the 202nd Rifle Division was reported with 11th Army a On 22 June 1941 the 12th Mechanized Corps consisted of 28,832 soldiers, 749 tanks including only lighter Soviet T-26, Bt Series models, plus 23 armoured cars, 92 artillery guns, 221 mortars, 2531 vehicles, 194 tractors and 39 motorcycles.
B Colonel Grinberg, the temporary commander of the 12th Mechanized Corps after the death of his corps' original commander Major General Shestopalov, reported on 29 July that the strength of his corps had fallen to under 17,000 men after the first two weeks of combat. C On 11 July 1941 Colonel P Poluboiarov, from the Northwestern Front armoured directorate, reported that the 12th Mechanized Corps had been in combat for 12 days and had been committed in large formations without infantry support or cooperation from artillery and air support. Subsequently, committed in local counter-attacks, it had only'80 worn out tanks and 15 to 17 armoured cars in total in both tank divisions'. Bergstrom, Christer.. Barbarossa – The Air Battle: July – December 1941. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-270-5. Glantz, David.. Stumbling Colossus – The Red Army On The Eve of World War. Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6. Glantz, David.. The Battle for Leningrad 1941–1944. Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1208-4. Newton, Steven H.. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front – The Memoirs of General Raus 1941–1945.
Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81247-9
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave labour force for the Axis war effort, to murder the rest, to acquire the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories. In the two years leading up to the invasion and the Soviet Union signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes; the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940, which Adolf Hitler authorized on 18 December 1940. Over the course of the operation, about three million personnel of the Axis powers – the largest invasion force in the history of warfare – invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer front. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht deployed some 600,000 motor vehicles, between 600,000 and 700,000 horses for non-combat operations.
The offensive marked an escalation of World War II, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition. Operationally, German forces achieved major victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union and inflicted, as well as sustained, heavy casualties. Despite these Axis successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow at the end of 1941, the subsequent Soviet winter counteroffensive pushed German troops back; the Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced the Germans into a war of attrition that they were unprepared for. The Wehrmacht never again mounted a simultaneous offensive along the entire Eastern front; the failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue in 1942 and Operation Citadel in 1943 – all of which failed. The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history.
The Eastern Front became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, highest World War II casualties, all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Red Army troops, who were denied the protection guaranteed by the Hague Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Convention. A majority of Red Army POWs never returned alive; the Nazis deliberately starved to death, or otherwise killed, 3.3 million prisoners of war, as well as a huge number of civilians. Einsatzgruppen death-squads and gassing operations murdered over a million Soviet Jews as part of the Holocaust; as early as 1925, Adolf Hitler vaguely declared in his political manifesto and autobiography Mein Kampf that he would invade the Soviet Union, asserting that the German people needed to secure Lebensraum to ensure the survival of Germany for generations to come. On 10 February 1939, Hitler told his army commanders that the next war would be "purely a war of Weltanschauungen... a people's war, a racial war".
On 23 November, once World War II had started, Hitler declared that "racial war has broken out and this war shall determine who shall govern Europe, with it, the world". The racial policy of Nazi Germany portrayed the Soviet Union as populated by non-Aryan Untermenschen, ruled by Jewish Bolshevik conspirators. Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Germany's destiny was to "turn to the East" as it did "six hundred years ago". Accordingly, it was stated Nazi policy to kill, deport, or enslave the majority of Russian and other Slavic populations and repopulate the land with Germanic peoples, under the Generalplan Ost; the Germans' belief in their ethnic superiority is evident in official German records and discernible in pseudoscientific articles in German periodicals at the time, which covered topics such as "how to deal with alien populations". While older histories tended to emphasize the notion of a "Clean Wehrmacht", the historian Jürgen Förster notes that "In fact, the military commanders were caught up in the ideological character of the conflict, involved in its implementation as willing participants."
Before and during the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops were indoctrinated with anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semitic, anti-Slavic ideology via movies, lectures and leaflets. Likening the Soviets to the forces of Genghis Khan, Hitler told Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the "Mongolian race" threatened Europe. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood", the "Red beast". Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans and the Jewish and Slavic Untermenschen. An'order from the Führer' stated that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute all Soviet functionaries who were "less valuable Asiatics and Jews". Six months into the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered in excess of 500,000 Soviet Jews, a figure greater than the number of Red Army soldiers killed in combat during that same time frame.
German army command
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove