What prevented Hitler to seize the Caucasus

History 15/01/20 What prevented Hitler to seize the Caucasus

the Fighting in the Caucasus in 1942, have become one of the most important if not the key moments of the great Patriotic war. For Germany, the capture of the oil fields in Grozny and Baku would be a real breakthrough. Would have solved the issue of fuel, without which modern war anywhere (its oil from the Germans, as we know, no). Moreover, in this case, the Soviet Union would be left without their main source of oil production. The conquest of the Caucasus could also force Turkey to side with Germany, that has radically changed the situation in the middle East.

All this is perfectly understood in Germany, everyone knew it in the Soviet Union. However, the plan for the capture of the Caucasus was a complete gamble for Hitler: the result of the revaluation of its forces, underestimating the forces of the red Army, and just the result of poor knowledge of geography.

In Soviet times, all information about the fighting in the Caucasus was drawn from the impressive work “the Battle for the Caucasus”, authored by Marshal Grechko. However, despite the large number of facts in the book extremely difficult to put them the real picture. The main reasons for all the failures in the war was called the overwhelming superiority of the enemy, and the main reasons for the success of our army was mentioned the wise leadership of the Communist party.

we Can say that even in the post-Soviet time, numerous works on this subject is not allowed to get the full picture.

People and tanks

the Question of why the Germans failed to capture the Caucasus, it is more correct to put it this way: why they ever came to the Caucasus?

the Number of troops thrown at the operation, it was initially too small. And after the 4th tank army and a considerable part of the Romanian troops was relocated to the Stalingrad area, the forces are even smaller.

most of usually shows the total number of divisions of army group “A” headyaitsa the number of tanks (besides, it only reflects the situation at the beginning of the operation), and the number of aircraft includes all the machines of the 4th Air fleet.

a Huge space, first, forced the Wehrmacht to use a significant portion of troops to guard communications and cover the flanks. Second, the distance was the reason that in the specific operations involved smaller units. In addition, we must consider the forces of the red Army.

So, to seize the oil regions of Grozny and Baku, the Wehrmacht had identified six divisions: three armored and two infantry, and the SS division “Viking”, total: up to 340 tanks and self-propelled guns.

They were opposed in the first wave, three Soviet armies: 37-I, 9-I 44-I, total: 14 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions and 9 brigades. In the second echelon and reserve were the 58th army, the 10th guards rifle corps and a separate connection, total: 4 infantry divisions, 5 infantry and one tank brigade, two tank battalions. In addition, for actions behind enemy lines meant the 4th guards cavalry corps. There were 220 tanks, but the number is constantly increased by the arrival of new parts. By the way, although the Caucasus was virtually cut off from the rest of the country, with tanks was not a problem. They came under lend-lease. The Soviet troops in the Caucasus were especially numerous American and British technology.

How, with the balance of forces the Germans were able to go this far?

One of the reasons modern authors, primarily V. Beshanov, consider the problem of competence of the highest military authorities.

Should pay attention to the fact that many of those who commanded in the beginning of the operation, for example, S. M. Budyonny and J. T. Cherevichenko, more troops in combat operations directed. For Budennogo even specifically created the position of commander of the cavalry, an honorable, but nominal.

Oil and gas

Breakthrough of the 1st Panzer army of the Wehrmacht to the oil industry forced her to cover the distance in hundreds of Fespectra. But tanks and vehicles required fuel. This infantry division of the 17th army was still able to come, because contrary to the myth of the complete motorization of the Wehrmacht, the main draft force in them was horse.

to Organize the supply of the 1st tank army, the German command managed, despite a bad road network and to address, though small guerrilla groups that operated on the outskirts of the Caucasus. However, at some point, it became clear that the tankers bringing fuel for the German Panzer divisions spent more than they deliver. It was decided to use alternative methods, such as, camels.

So, in fact, a rapid breakthrough of German tanks were more like a separate small jump, after which the tanks sat and waited for the transportation of fuel. But apart from the fuel needed to supply and ammunition, and many others.

“it’s our mountains…”

the great role played by the nature of the terrain. Attempt to move through the steppe regions failed to advance was only possible through the mountains. And although the beginning of the operation the red Army actually had no mountain troops, and the Wehrmacht was perfectly prepared mountain division, saved us a significant numerical superiority. So, against two divisions of the 49th mountain corps (1st and 4th gornopehotnoy) the Soviet high command set 2 infantry, 4 infantry and 1 cavalry division, plus one infantry brigade of the 46th army. Later, these troops became even stronger. In a short time, from scratch, was formed a special mountain units intended for fighting in the mountainous terrain.

In General, conduct operations in the mountains in the red army was quite successful.

One of the most frequently mentioned clashes – the battle near the village of Shapkino of the SS division “Viking” and the 52nd tank brigade, supported by 863-m anti-tank regiment. This battle is described in detail in S. Chernikov “Caucasian Prokhorovka”. The Germans had a real numerical excellentdstvo: 48 tanks, Soviet vs 32, but picked them up at the narrowest point of the gorge. And “Viking” have long to lick their wounds. In Soviet sources, however, indicated that the Germans had 120 tanks, 54 of which were destroyed. However, the Germans reported that they were attacked by 80 Soviet tanks.

Victory on the Volga

Despite huge losses and the complexity of the offensive in the Caucasus, the possibility of the Wehrmacht was not yet fully exhausted.

it was decided at Stalingrad. Although the Red Army launched operation Saturn, which according to the plan of the whole of army group “A” had to get into the environment, the German command realized that this is the real development.

Hitler with difficulty, but agreed to the withdrawal of troops from the Caucasus. That the forces of army group “A” was still many, confirms the successful conclusion of the 1st tank army, which not only was surrounded, but, retreating, the Soviet troops inflicted considerable damage.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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