Battle of Smolensk (1941)
The First Battle of Smolensk was a battle during the second phase of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, in World War II. It was fought around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km west of Moscow; the Wehrmacht had advanced 500 km into the USSR in the 18 days after the invasion on 22 June 1941. The German army encountered unexpected resistance during the battle, leading to a two-month delay in their advance on Moscow. Three Soviet armies were encircled and destroyed just to the south of Smolensk, though significant numbers from the 19th and 20th armies managed to escape the pocket; some historians have asserted that the losses of men and materiel incurred by the Wehrmacht during this drawn-out battle and the delay in the drive towards Moscow led to the defeat of the Wehrmacht by the Red Army in the Battle of Moscow of December 1941. On 22 June 1941, the Axis nations invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. At first, the campaign met with spectacular success, as the surprised Soviet troops were not able to offer coordinated resistance.
After three weeks of fighting, the Germans had reached the Dvina and Dnieper rivers and planned for a resumption of the offensive. The main attack aimed at Moscow, was carried out by Army Group Centre, its next target on the way to the Soviet capital was the town of Smolensk. The German plan called for the 2nd Panzer Group to cross the Dnieper, closing on Smolensk from the south, while the 3rd Panzer Group was to encircle the town from the north. After their initial defeats, the Red Army began to recover and took measures to ensure a more determined resistance and new defensive line was established around Smolensk. Stalin placed Field Marshal Semyon Timoshenko in command and transferred five armies out of the strategic reserve to Timoshenko; these armies had to conduct counter-offensives to blunt the German drive. The German high command was not aware of the Soviet build-up until they encountered them on the battlefield. Facing the Germans along the Dnieper and Dvina rivers were stretches of the Stalin Line fortifications.
The defenders were the 13th Army of the Western Front and the 20th Army, 21st Army and the 22nd Army of the Soviet Supreme Command Reserve. The 19th Army, was forming up at Vitebsk. In Soviet histories, the battles around Smolensk are divided into phases and operations to halt the German offensive and the pincers Battle of Smolensk Smolensk Defensive Operation Smolensk Offensive Operation Rogechev-Zhlobin Offensive Operation Gomel-Trubchevsk Defensive Operation Dukhovschina Offensive Operation Yelnia Offensive Operation Roslavl-Novozybkov Offensive Operation Prior to the German attack, the Soviets launched a counter-offensive; the result was a disaster, as the offensive ran directly into the anti-tank defenses of the German 7th Panzer Division and the two Soviet mechanized corps were wiped out. On 10 July, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group began a surprise attack over the Dnieper, his forces overran the weak 13th Army and by 13 July, Guderian had passed Mogilev, trapping several Soviet divisions.
His spearhead unit, the 29th Motorised Division, was within 18 km of Smolensk. The 3rd Panzer Group had attacked, with the 20th Panzer Division establishing a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dvina river, threatening Vitebsk; as both German panzer groups drove east, the 16th, 19th and 20th armies faced the prospect of encirclement around Smolensk. From 11 July, the Soviets tried a series of concerted counter-attacks; the Soviet 19th Army and 20th Army struck at Vitebsk, while the 21st and the remnants of the 3rd Army attacked against the southern flank of 2nd Panzer Group near Bobruisk. Several other Soviet armies attempted to counter-attack in the sectors of the German Army Group North and Army Group South; this effort was part of an attempt to implement the Soviet prewar general defense plan. The Soviet attacks managed to slow the Germans but the results were so marginal that the Germans noticed them as a large coordinated defensive effort and the German offensive continued. Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group drove north and east, parallel to Guderian's forces, taking Polotsk and Vitebsk.
The 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Division reached the area east of Smolensk at Yartsevo on July 15. At the same time, the 29th Motorized Division, supported by the 17th Panzer Division broke into Smolensk, captured the city except for the suburbs and began a week of house-to-house fighting against counter-attacks by the 16th Army. Guderian expected that the offensive would continue towards Moscow as its main focus and sent the 10th Panzer Division to the Desna River to establish a bridgehead on the east bank at Yelnya and cleared that as well by the 20th; this advanced bridgehead became the center of the Yelnya Offensive, one of the first big coordinated Soviet counter-offensives of the war. This objective was 50 km south of the Dnepr and well clear of the objective of liquidating the armies trapped at Smolensk. Under Fuhrer Directive 33 issued on July 14, the main effort of the Wehrmacht was re-orientated away from Moscow
Johann Schlemmer was a German general during World War II who commanded the LXXV Army Corps. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Schlemmer surrendered to Allied troops in Italy in 1945. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class German Cross in Gold on 23 January 1942 as Oberst in 134th Infantry Division Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves Knight's Cross on 21 April 1942 as Generalmajor and commander of 134th Infantry Division 369th Oak Leaves on 18 January 1944 as Generalleutnant and commander of 134th Infantry Division Citations Bibliography
Battle of France
The Battle of France known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy invaded France over the Alps. In Fall Gelb, German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes and along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion; when British and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force and French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo. German forces began Fall Rot on 5 June; the sixty remaining French divisions and two British divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility.
German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities. On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by Germany; the neutral Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and Germany occupied the north and west coasts of France and their hinterlands. Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east and the Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south, known as the zone libre. In November 1942, the Germans occupied the zone under Case Anton, until the Allied liberation in 1944. During the 1930s, the French built fortifications along the border with Germany; the line was intended to economise on manpower and deter a German invasion across the Franco-German border by diverting it into Belgium, which could be met by the best divisions of the French Army.
The war would take place outside French territory avoiding the destruction of the First World War. The main section of the Maginot Line ended at Longwy. General Philippe Pétain declared the Ardennes to be "impenetrable" as long as "special provisions" were taken to destroy an invasion force as it emerged from the Ardennes by a pincer attack; the French commander-in-chief, Maurice Gamelin believed the area to be safe from attack, noting it "never favoured large operations". French war games held in 1938, of a hypothetical German armoured attack through the Ardennes, left the army with the impression that the region was still impenetrable and that this, along with the obstacle of the Meuse River, would allow the French time to bring up troops into the area to counter an attack. In 1939, Britain and France offered military support to Poland in the case of a German invasion. In the dawn of 1 September 1939, the German Invasion of Poland began. France and the United Kingdom declared war on 3 September, after an ultimatum for German forces to withdraw their forces from Poland was not answered.
Following this, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada declared war on Germany. While British and French commitments to Poland were met politically, the Allies were not in a position to render meaningful military assistance to the Poles in a timely manner. If Allied military intervention in Poland had been feasible, it would have come at the risk of drawing the Soviet Union into the war on Germany's side due to the recently-signed German-Soviet non-aggression pact and subsequent Soviet invasion of eastern Poland; as a result, the Allies settled on a long-war strategy and mobilised for defensive land operations against Germany, while a trade blockade was imposed and the pre-war re-armament was accelerated, ready for an eventual invasion of Germany. On 7 September, in accordance with their alliance with Poland, France began the Saar Offensive with an advance from the Maginot Line 5 km into the Saar. France had mobilised 98 divisions and 2,500 tanks against a German force consisting of 43 divisions and no tanks.
The French advanced until they met the thin and undermanned Siegfried Line. On 17 September, the French supreme commander, Maurice Gamelin gave the order to withdraw French troops to their starting positions. Following the Saar Offensive, a period of inaction called the Phoney War set in between the belligerents. Adolf Hitler had hoped that France and Britain would acquiesce in the conquest of Poland and make peace. On 6 October, he made a peace offer to both Western powers. On 9 October, Hitler issued a new "Führer-Directive Number 6". Hitler recognised the necessity of military campaigns to defeat the Western European nations, preliminary to the conquest of territory in Eastern Europe, to avoid a two-front war but these intentions were absent from Directive N°6; the plan was based on the more realistic assumption that German military strength would have to be built up for several years. For the moment only limited objectives could be envisaged and were aimed at improving Germany's ability to survive a long war in the west.
Hitler ordered a conquest of the Low Countries to be executed at the shortest possible notice to forestall the French and prevent Allied air po
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
Lower Silesian Offensive
The Lower Silesian Offensive was a Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front of World War II in 1945, involving forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev. It cleared German troops from much of Lower Silesia and besieged a large German force in the provincial capital, Breslau; the offensive began on February 8 and continued until February 24, when the Soviets ceased their offensive having captured a small bridgehead across the Neisse River near Forst. The offensive directly succeeded the Vistula–Oder Offensive, in which Konev's troops had driven the German Army Group A from Poland, liberating Kraków and taking bridgeheads over the Oder River. Northern wing of 1st Ukrainian Front 3rd Guards Tank Army 4th Tank Army 3rd Guards Army 5th Guards Army 6th Army 52nd Army 2nd Air Army Northern wing of Army Group A Seventeenth Army XXXXVIII Panzer Corps LVII Panzer Corps XVII Corps VIII Corps Garrison of Fortress Breslau Fourth Panzer Army XXIV Panzer Corps Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland XXXX Panzer Corps Gruppe Friedrich Konev intended to break out of the Steinau and Ohlau bridgeheads, secured at the end of the Vistula–Oder Offensive, on February 8.
He preceded the initial attack with a fifty-minute artillery bombardment, his troops crossing the start lines at 06:00. By the end of the day the Front's spearheads had penetrated some 60 km; the 3rd Guards Tank Army was ordered to wheel southwards and eastwards in order to encircle the city of Breslau from the rear, while the 4th Tank Army continued its push westwards from the Steinau bridgehead. By February 15, forces from the two bridgeheads had surrounded Breslau while 3rd Guards Tank Army had closed the gap to the west, only elements of the German 269th Infantry Division managing to withdraw. Another 35,000 troops and 80,000 civilians had been blockaded in Breslau; the resulting Siege of Breslau lasted until the end of the war. The 4th Tank Army, in the meantime, had pushed far ahead towards the Neisse River, against some resistance from Fourth Panzer Army. On February 14, two German corps mounted a sudden counter-attack that left Lelyushenko's force in a desperate fight to avoid encirclement.
The Germans were unable to close the encirclement, ceased attacking operations within five days, when the 52nd Army and 3rd Guards Tank Army were able to secure the flanks of Lelyushenko's position. On February 24, faced with heavy German reinforcement, Konev closed the offensive phase of operations, having secured a small bridgehead across the Neisse near Forst; this defined the start lines in that sector for the Battle of Berlin, or Berlin Offensive, two months later. Schoerner attempted to win back some territory during March with successful counter-attacks at Lauban and Striegau. An offensive to relieve Breslau was however disrupted by an offensive on the 1st Ukrainian Front's right flank to the south-east: the Upper Silesian Offensive. Duffy, C. Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945, Routledge, 1991, ISBN 0-415-22829-8 David M. Glantz, The Soviet-German War 1941–45: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay Ryszard Majewski, Dolny Śląsk 1945. Wyzwolenie, 1982 B. Dolata, Wyzwolenie Dolnego Śląska w Wyd.
Ossolineum, 1970 Photos from the times of World War II in Lower Silesia
German Army (1935–1945)
The German Army was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it was demobilized and dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13 million soldiers served in the German Army. Germany's army personnel were made up of conscripts. Only 17 months after Adolf Hitler announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937 two more corps were formed. In 1938 four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion under Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground and air assets into combined arms forces. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, a new style of warfare described as Blitzkrieg for its speed and destructive power.
The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland and Denmark, Belgium and Netherlands, Yugoslavia and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union; however their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength. The army's lack of trucks limited infantry movement during and after the Normandy invasion when Allied air-power devastated the French rail network north of the Loire. Panzer movements depended on rail, since driving a tank long distances wore out its tracks; the Oberkommando des Heeres was Germany's Army High Command from 1936 to 1945. In theory the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht served as the military General Staff for the German Reich's armed forces, coordinating the Wehrmacht operations. In practice OKW acted in a subordinate role as Hitler's personal military staff, translating his ideas into military plans and orders, issuing them to the three services.
However, as the war progressed the OKW found itself exercising increasing amounts of direct command authority over military units in the west. This created a situation where by 1943 the OKW was the de facto command of Western Theatre forces while the Army High Command was the same on the Eastern Front; the Abwehr was the Army intelligence organization from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr had been created just after World War I as an ostensible concession to Allied demands that Germany's intelligence activities be for defensive purposes only. After 4 February 1938, the Abwehr's name was changed to the Overseas Department/Office in Defence of the Armed Forces High Command. Nazi Germany used the system of military districts to relieve field commanders of as much administrative work as possible, to provide a regular flow of trained recruits and supplies to the field forces; the method OKW adopted was to separate the Field Army from the Home Command, to entrust the responsibilities of training, conscription and equipment to Home Command.
The German Army was structured in Army groups consisting of several armies that were relocated, restructured or renamed in the course of the war. Forces or allied states as well as units made up of non-Germans were assigned to German units. For Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Army forces were assigned to three strategic campaign groupings: Army Group North with Leningrad as its campaign objective Army Group Centre with Smolensk as its campaign objective Army Group South with Kiev as its campaign objectiveBelow the army group level forces included Field armies –, panzer groups, which became army level formations themselves and divisions; the army used the German term Kampfgruppe which equates to the English'combat group' or battle group. These provisional combat groupings ranged from an Army Corps size such as Army Detachment Kempf to commands composed of several companies and platoons, they were named for their commanding officers. German operational doctrine emphasized sweeping pincer and lateral movements meant to destroy the enemy forces as as possible.
This approach, referred to as Blitzkrieg, was an operational doctrine instrumental in the success of the offensives in Poland and France. Blitzkrieg has been considered by many historians as having its roots in precepts developed by Fuller, Liddel-Hart and von Seeckt, having ancient prototypes practiced by Alexander, Genghis Khan and Napoleon. Recent studies of the Battle of France suggest that the actions of either Rommel or Guderian or both of them, ignoring orders of superiors who had never foreseen such spectacular successes and thus prepared much more prudent plans, were conflated into a purposeful doctrine and created the first archetype of blitzkrieg, which gained a fearsome reputati
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