Filipp Ivanovich Golikov, was a Soviet military commander. He is best known for not taking the abundant intelligence about Nazi Germany's plans for an invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, either because he did not believe them or because Josif Stalin made it clear he did not want to hear them, he was promoted to the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1961. Golikov was born into a peasant at Borisova, his father served as a medical orderly with the garrison in Tobolsk. Father and son both joined the Communist Party in April 1918. A month Golikov enlisted in the Red Army as a volunteer, he was a political commissar through most of the Russian Civil War, for 11 years afterwards. He graduated from the Frunze military academy in 1933, he was appointed commander of a regiment in 1931, in 1938, during the Great Purge he was promoted to membership of the Military Counil of the Belorussian Military District. He was sent there to supervise a purge of Red Army commanders in the district, including the future war hero Georgy Zhukov, who never forgave him.
In 1938, he was abruptly removed, in November 1938 was made commander of the Vinnitsa Army Group, and, in 1939, of the 6th Army. During the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, he was in charge of overrunning and occupying Lvov. and in 1940 he served in the Winter War against Finland. In July 1940, Golikov was appointed head of Main Intelligence Directorate, despite having no previous experience of intelligence gathering. Stalin evidently knew that he was ill-qualified: during the 18th party conference the following February, he said of Golikov "as an intelligence agent, he is inexperienced, naive: an intelligence agent ought to be like the devil, believing no one, not himself.". Five of Golikov's predecessors were about to be shot. Golikov therefore had a powerful incentive to tell Stalin only what he wanted to hear, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would break the non-aggression pact they had negotiated in 1939. From early in 1941, Soviet intelligence was receiving multiple warnings from within Germany, from the British and American officials of the risk of a German invasion.
On 20 March, Golikov signed a distributed assessment of all the current intelligence, which began with the observation: "The majority of agent reports concerning the possibility of war with the USSR in the spring of 1941 come from Anglo-American sources, the goal of which at present is without a doubt to worsen relations between the USSR and Germany." As late as May though he knew and had told his superiors that the number of German divisions on the USSR border had been increased from 70 to 107, Golikov forecast that Geramny's next military operations would be against the UK, in Gibraltar, North Africa and the Near East Despite his record, Golikov was retained as head of the GRU until October 1941. He led a mission to London on July 8-13, to Washington on 26 July. In 1942, he commanded the Bryansk Front at the start of the battle of Stalingrad, he was appointed deputy commander under General Andrey Yeryomenko; when it was decided to move the command headquarters to comparative safety on the East bank of the Volga, Golikov was ordered to stay behind in the city.
According to Nikita Khrushchev, the front' political commissar: "A look of terror came over Golikov's face... I never saw soldier or civilian, in such a state during the whole war, he was white as a sheet and begged me not to abandon him. He kept saying over and over,'Stalingrad is doomed'.". He was recalled to Moscow, where he complained to Stalin about the way Khrushchev and Yeryomenko had treated him. Stalin accepted his version, appointed him commander of the Voronezh Front in October 1942, he led the counter attack that recaptured Voronezh on 26 January 1943, Kharkov on 16 February, but after Kharkov was retaken by the Germans, in March 1943, Marshal Zhukov insisted that Golikov be dismissed. For the remainder of the war, until 1950, he was head of the Chief Personnel Directorate of the USSR Ministry of Defence. In October 1944, he was appointed head of the council for the repatriation of Soviet prisoners of war. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn mentions Golikov in a footnote in part one of his Gulag Archipelago, implicating him in the mass incarceration in the gulag system of former Soviet POWs who returned home after World War II.
He writes, "One of the biggest war criminals, Colonel General Golikov, former chief of the Red Army's intelligence administration, was put in charge of coaxing the repatriates home and swallowing them up." After the war, Golikov held a succession of political posts at the USSR Ministry of Defence. In 1946, Stalin began to resent the praise heaped on Marshal Zhukov as the architect of victory, so Golikov presented a detailed case against the Marshal at a special session of the Military Council, in June. Zhukov was publicly relegated to a minor military post. In 1949-50, Golikov contributed to the Leningrad affair, the virulent purge of the Leningrad party leadership, by engineering the dismissal of the head of the Main Political Administration of the Armed Forces, Iosif Shikin. In 1950, he was given command of a mechanised army, in 1956 was appointed head of the Military Academy of Armoured Troops. In January 1958, he benefited from the second fall of Marshal Zhukov, by being appointed head of the Main Political Administration of the Armed Forces, his job being to ensure that the military stayed under communis
Operation Little Saturn
Operation Saturn, revised as Operation Little Saturn, was a Red Army operation on the Eastern Front of World War II that led to battles in the North Caucasus and Donets Basin regions of the Soviet Union from December 1942 to February 1943. The success of Operation Uranus, launched on 19 November 1942, had trapped 250,000–300,000 troops of General Friedrich Paulus' German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army in Stalingrad. To exploit this victory, the Soviet general staff planned a winter campaign of continuous and ambitious offensive operations, codenamed "Saturn". Joseph Stalin reduced his ambitious plans to a small campaign codenamed "Operation Little Saturn"; the offensive succeeded in smashing Germany's Italian and Hungarian allies, applied pressure on the over stretched German forces in Eastern Ukraine and prevented further German advances to the relief of the entrapped forces at Stalingrad. Despite these victories, the Soviets themselves became over extended, setting up the stages for the German offensives of the Third Battle of Kharkov and the Battle of Kursk.
On 17 May 1942, German Army Groups A and B launched a counteroffensive against advancing Soviet armies around the city of Kharkov, resulting in the Second Battle of Kharkov. By 6 July, General Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had taken the city of Voronezh, threatening to collapse the Red Army's resistance. By early August, General Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist's First Panzer Army had reached the oil center of Maykop, 500 kilometres south of the city of Rostov, taken by the Fourth Panzer Army on 23 July; the rapid German advance threatened to cut the Soviet Union off from its southern territories, while threatening to cut the lend-lease supply lines from Persia. However, the offensive began to peter out, as the offensive's supply train struggled to keep up with the advance and spearhead units began to run low on fuel and manpower. Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and Fourth Romanian armies, portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army.
The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942, was developed with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus; the Red Army took advantage of the fact that German forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched around Stalingrad, using weaker Romanian armies to guard their flanks. These Axis armies were deployed in open positions on the steppe and lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. Operation Winter Storm, undertaken between 12–23 December 1942, was the German Fourth Panzer Army's attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, which resulted in the encirclement of Axis personnel in and around the city of Stalingrad. German forces within the Stalingrad Pocket and directly outside were reorganized under Army Group Don, under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein.
As the Red Army continued to build strength, in an effort to allocate as many resources as possible to the eventual launch of the planned Operation Saturn, which aimed to isolate Army Group A from the rest of the German Army, the Luftwaffe had begun an attempt to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge. However, as the Luftwaffe proved incapable of carrying out its mission and it became more obvious that a successful breakout could only occur if it was launched as early as possible, Manstein decided to plan and launch a dedicated relief effort. After the defeat of the Romanian Army around Stalingrad and the successful encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Stalin started a counter-offensive nicknamed "Operation Little Saturn" in order to enlarge the area controlled by the Soviet Army in eastern Ukraine until Kharkov and Rostov. Zhukov states the South-Western Front was assigned a mission in which the 1st and 3rd Guard armies and the 5th Tank Army "were to strike out in the general direction of Morozovsk and destroy the enemy grouping in that sector."
They would be supported by the 6th Army of the Voronezh Front. The first stage — an attempt to cut off the German Army Group A in the Caucasus — had to be revised when General Erich von Manstein launched Operation Winter Storm on 12 December in an attempt to relieve the trapped armies at Stalingrad. While General Rodion Malinovsky's Soviet 2nd Guards Army blocked the German advance on Stalingrad, the modified plan Operation Little Saturn was launched on 16 December; this operation consisted of a pincer movement. General Fyodor Isidorovich Kuznetsov's 1st Guards Army and General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Italian 8th Army on the Don and advancing to Millerovo; the Italians resisted the Soviet attack for nearly two weeks, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors, but with huge losses. Manstein sent the 6th Panzer Division to the Italians' aid: of the 130,000 encircled troops, only 45,000 survived after bloody fighting to join the Panzers at Chertkovo on 17 January.
To the south the advance of General Gerasimenko's 28th Army threatened to encircle the 1st Panzer Army and General Trufanov's 51st Army attacked the relief column directly. In a dar
Third Battle of Kharkov
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod; as the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider attacks against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943 when the Red Army launched Operation Star and Operation Gallop, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Kursk, as well as Voroshilovgrad and Izium; the Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves, though this was due to Manstein's strategy of controlled retreat towards the Dneiper. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center.
Months of continuous operations had taken a heavy toll on the Soviet forces and some divisions were reduced to 1,000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launched his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh II SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies. Manstein benefited from the massive air support of Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen's Luftflotte 4, whose 1,214 aircraft flew over 1,000 sorties per day from 20 February to 15 March to support the German Army, a level of airpower equal to that during the Case Blue strategic offensive a year earlier; the Wehrmacht flanked and defeated the Red Army's armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper on 7 March. Despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north, the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March; this led to four days of house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March.
The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk. The German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 90,000 casualties; the house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, which had suffered 4,300 men killed and wounded by the time operations ended in mid-March. At the start of 1943, the German Wehrmacht faced a crisis as Soviet forces encircled and reduced the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and expanded their Winter Campaign towards the Don River. On 2 February 1943 the Sixth Army's commanding officers surrendered, an estimated 90,000 men were captured by the Red Army. Total German losses at the Battle of Stalingrad, excluding prisoners, were between 120,000 and 150,000. Throughout 1942 German casualties totaled around 1.9 million personnel, by the start of 1943 the Wehrmacht was around 470,000 men below full strength on the Eastern Front. At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht was equipped with around 3,300 tanks.
As the forces of the Don Front were destroying the German forces in Stalingrad, the Red Army's command ordered the Soviet forces to conduct a new offensive, which encompassed the entire southern wing of the Soviet–German front from Voronezh to Rostov. On 2 February, the Red Army launched Operation Star, threatening to liberate the cities of Belgorod and Kursk. A Soviet drive, spearheaded by four tank corps organized under Lieutenant-General Markian Popov, pierced the German front by crossing the Donets River and pressing into the German rear. On 15 February, two fresh Soviet tank corps threatened the city of Zaporizhia on the Dnieper River, which controlled the last major road to Rostov and housed the headquarters of Army Group South and Luftflotte 4. Despite Hitler's orders to hold the city, Kharkov was abandoned by German forces and the city was recaptured by the Red Army on 16 February. Hitler flew to Manstein's headquarters at Zaporizhia. Manstein informed him that an immediate counterattack on Kharkov would be fruitless, but that he could attack the overextended Soviet flank with his five Panzer Corps, recapture the city later.
On 19 February Soviet armored units approached the city. In view of the worsening situation, Hitler gave Manstein operational freedom; when Hitler departed, the Soviet forces were only some 30 kilometers away from the airfield. In conjunction with Operation Star the Red Army launched Operation Gallop south of Star, pushing the Wehrmacht away from the Donets, taking Voroshilovgrad and Izium, worsening the German situation further. By this time Stavka believed it could decide the war in the southwest Russian SFSR and eastern Ukrainian SSR, expecting total victory; the surrender of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad freed six Soviet armies, under the command of Konstantin Rokossovsky, which were refitted and reinforced by the 2nd Tank Army and the 70th Army. These forces were repositioned between the junction of South. Known to the Soviet forces as the Kharkov and Donbas operations, the offensive sought to surround and destroy German forces in the Orel salient, cross the Desna River and surround and destroy German Army Group Center.
Planned to begin between 12–15 February, deployment problems forced Stavka to push the start date back to 25 February. Meanwhile, the Soviet 60th Army pushed the
The Soviet partisans were members of resistance movements that fought a guerrilla war against the Axis forces in the Soviet Union, the Soviet-occupied territories of interwar Poland in 1941–45 and eastern Finland. The activity emerged after the Nazi German Operation Barbarossa during World War II, according to Great Soviet Encyclopedia it was coordinated and controlled by the Soviet government and modelled on that of the Red Army; the partisans made significant contributions to the war by frustrating German plans to exploit occupied Soviet territories economically, gave considerable help to the Soviet Army by conducting systematic strikes against Germany's rear communication network, disseminated political work among the local population by publishing newspapers and leaflets, succeeded in creating and maintaining a feeling of insecurity among German forces. Soviet partisans operated on Polish and Baltic territories occupied by the Soviet Union in 1939-1940, but they had less support there and clashed violently with local self-defense and pro-independence and pro-Western national partisan groups.
After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, which marked the beginning of World War II, the Soviet Union invaded the eastern regions of the Second Polish Republic and annexed the lands totalling 201,015 square kilometres with a population of 13,299,000 inhabitants including ethnic Belarusians, Poles, Jews and others. Belarusian emigre sources said that the actual number of Belarusians in Poland in 1931 was over 3.4 million or 77.9 percent of the total population in West Belarus. A Ukrainian geographer concluded that out of 9,198,000 people living in western Ukraine, Ukrainians amounted to 64.5 percent. Soviet era sources state that in 1939, Soviet forces took control of regions of the Polish Republic that had "a population of more than 12 million, including more than 6 million Ukrainians and about 3 million Belarusians."The program of the partisan war was outlined in Moscow after the German attack in 1941 against the USSR. Directives issued on July 29, 1941 and in further documents by the Soviet People's Commissaries Council and Communist Party called for the formation of partisan detachments and'diversionist' groups in the German-occupied territories.
Joseph Stalin iterated his commands and directives to the people in his radio speech on 3 July 1941, appointed himself Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army on 20 July 1941. In 1941, the core of the partisan movement were the remains of the Red Army units destroyed in the first phase of Operation Barbarossa, personnel of destruction battalions, the local Communist Party and Komsomol activists who chose to remain in Soviet-occupied prewar Poland; the most common unit of the period was a detachment. The first detachments commanded by Red Army officers and local Communist Party activists were formed in the first days of the war between former allies Germany and the Soviet Union, including the Starasyel'ski detachment of Major Dorodnykh in the Zhabinka district and the Pinsk detachment of Vasily Korzh on June 26, 1941; the first awards of the Hero of the Soviet Union order occurred on August 6, 1941. Some partisan detachments were parachuted into German-occupied territories in the summer of 1941. Urban underground groups were formed as a force complementing the activities of partisan units, operating in rural areas.
The network of underground structures developed and received a steady influx of specially chosen party activists. By the end of 1941, more than 2,000 partisan detachments operated in German-occupied territories. However, the activity of partisan forces were not centrally coordinated and supplied until spring of 1942. In order to coordinate partisan operations the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement under Stavka, headed by Panteleimon Ponomarenko and commanded by top Politburo member Kliment Voroshilov, was organized on May 30, 1942; the Staff had its liaison networks in the Military Councils of the Armies. The territorial Staffs were subsequently created, dealing with the partisan movement in the respective Soviet Republics and in the occupied provinces of the Russian SFSR; some formations calling themselves Soviet partisans operated a long way outside Soviet territory - organized by former Soviet citizens who had escaped from Nazi camps. One such formation, acted in France. In 1944 Soviet partisans provided "proletarian internationalist" help to the people of German-occupied Central Europe, with seven united formations and 26 larger detachments operating in Poland, 20 united formations and detachments operating in Czechoslovakia.
By Soviet estimates, in August 1941 about 231 detachments were operating already. Units formed and inserted into Belarus totaled 437 by the end of the 1941, comprising more than 7,200 personnel. However, as the front line moved further away, conditions worsened for the partisan units, as resources ran out, there was no large-scale support from beyond the front until March 1942. One particular difficulty was the lack of radio communication, not addressed until April 1942. A Polish source claims the partisan units lacked the support of local people; the strength and viability of the partisan detachments depended directly on support of the local population, which replenished partisan ranks with new fighters, provided food and clothing, collected weapon and ammunition for them, led reconnaissance against occupation forces. Without the support of the local population, the partisan movement would not have been viable. Reserves of partisan replenishment came from the local
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses; the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing; the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks.
The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army make no attempt to break out. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food; the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted one week and three days. By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army after the winter of 1942, because though Army Group Centre had suffered heavy losses west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped.
Neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again. With the initial operations being successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union; the initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was the Caspian Sea to central Russia, its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields; the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union.
Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous". It was assumed that the fall of the city would firmly secure the northern and western flanks of the German armies as they advanced on Baku, with the aim of securing these strategic petroleum resources for Germany; the expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence and an underestimation of Soviet reserves. The Soviets realized, they ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war. Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there; the planned summer offensive, code-named Fall Blau, was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer and 1st Panzer Armies.
Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive. Hitler intervened, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South, under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South, including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and by General Maximilian von Weichs; the start of Case Blue had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet
Battle of Voronezh (1942)
The Battle of Voronezh, or First Battle of Voronezh, was a battle on the Eastern Front of World War II, fought in and around the strategically important city of Voronezh on the Don river, 450 km south of Moscow, from 28 June-24 July 1942, as opening move of the German summer offensive in 1942. The German attack had two objectives. One was to seed confusion about the ultimate goals of the overall campaign. There was widespread feeling by all observers Soviet high command, that the Germans would reopen their attack on Moscow that summer. By attacking toward Voronezh, near the site of the German's deepest penetration the year before, it would hide the nature of the real action taking place far to the south. Soviet forces sent to the area to shore up the defenses would not be able to move with the same speed as the Germans, who would turn south and leave them behind; the other purpose was to provide an defended front line along the river, providing a strong left flank that could be protected with light forces.
The plan involved forces of Army Group South, at this time far north of their ultimate area of responsibility. The attack would be spearheaded by the 4th Panzer Army under the command of General Hermann Hoth. Hoth's mobile forces would move eastward to Voronezh and turn southeast to follow the Don to Stalingrad; as the 4th moved out of the city, the slower infantry forces of the Second Army following behind them would take up defensive positions along the river. The plan called for the 2nd to arrive just as the 4th had cleared the city, Hoth was under orders to avoid any street-to-street fighting that might bog down their progress; the city was defended by the troops of the 40th Army as part of the Valuiki-Rossosh Defensive Operation of General of Army Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin's Southwestern Front. Hoth's powerful armored forces moved forward with little delay and the only natural barrier before the city was the Devitsa River, an arm of the Don running through Semiluki, a short distance to the west.
For reasons that are unclear, the bridge over the Devitsa was not destroyed, Hoth's forces were able to sweep aside the defensive forces placed there and reach the outskirts of Voronezh on 7 July. Soviet forces mounted a successful counterattack that tied up Hoth's forces. At this point they should have been relieved by the infantry forces, but they were still far from the city. Intense house-to-house fighting broke out, Hoth continued to push forward while he waited. At one point the 3rd Motorized Division turned back; the Soviet command poured reserves into the city and a situation not unlike what would be seen at Stalingrad a few months broke out, with the German troops clearing the city street by street with flamethrowers while tanks gave fire support. The 2nd did not arrive for another two days, by which time the 4th was engaged and took some time to remove from the line; the 2nd continued the battle until 24 July, when the final Soviet forces west of the Don were defeated and the fighting ended.
Adolf Hitler came to believe that these two days, when combined with other avoidable delays on the drive south, allowed Marshal Semyon Timoshenko to reinforce the forces in Stalingrad before the 4th Panzer Army could arrive to allow taking of Stalingrad. The Soviet forces recaptured the city in the Battle of Voronezh of 1943. SourcesGlantz, David M. & House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0899-0