Why Hitler refused to take Moscow in 1942

History 23/02/20 Why Hitler refused to take Moscow in 1942

One of the common areas in the analysis of the events of the Second world war is to look for “missed opportunities Hitler” (by the way, the English historian Kenneth Maxi called his book on alternative history). History of the Second world war is fraught with a lot of poorly explained while strategic decisions of both sides, influencing the course and outcome of the war. One of them is the refusal of Hitler in the spring of 1942 from repeating the attack on Moscow and turn on the Volga and the Caucasus, which led the Wehrmacht at the end of that year, a crushing defeat.

the Situation in the spring of 1942

during the winter offensive of 1941/42, the Soviet troops suffered huge losses, without achieving any noticeable results. The Germans managed to hold key positions in the Central direction (the Rzhev-Vyazemsky bridgehead), but also in Leningrad and in the Ukraine. In the spring of 1942 the strategic initiative on the Eastern front again to go into the hands of the Wehrmacht. Having failed to achieve capture Moscow and defeat the Soviet Union in 1941, the leadership of the Third Reich certainly hoped to achieve the ultimate goals of the war in 1942. the State of the German armed forces and the economy allowed to hope for it. As subsequent events showed, the Soviet Union was again on the brink of destruction.

But Hitler and his generals needed to choose the optimal direction for the main attack. As we know, they chose to stab me in the southern direction, which led them to crash. Could they avoid it, why they stopped on this decision and whether they had an alternative?

the Expectations of the Soviet command

March 26, 1942, at the Desk of the Deputy chief of the General staff of the USSR, army General Vasilevsky, lay a report of the GRU on the anticipated plans of action of the German forces in the summer campaign of 1942. The report argues that the Germans will try again to seize the initiativewillow and achieve victory in the war. Further, on the basis of analysis of strategic environment was assumed that the main goal of the Wehrmacht, like last year, will again be the capture of Moscow. Only in the battle for Moscow, was stressed in the report of the GRU, the Wehrmacht has the ability to battle the main forces of Soviet troops.

the report assumed that the Nazi command will attempt to take Moscow is not from the West, where the Wehrmacht failed in the past year, and a detour to the South and East. Most of the German armored units, were said GRU will be concentrated in the area of Bryansk — Kursk to strike in the direction of the City and then turning North to Vladimir. Analysts of the General staff stressed that the terrain in this region, South of the Oka river, particularly favorable to action of large masses of armored troops. The Germans will not fail to take advantage of this.

GRU’s Forecast was based on the fundamental ideas of German military thought. Military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, on textbooks which studied generation of Prussian officers who insisted that the only way to achieve victory is to destroy as many enemy troops. Because it was clear that the goals of all Soviet troops will be the last to defend it to Moscow, only here it was possible to count to inflict a decisive defeat.

the Obvious cons of the decision Hitler

of Course, it would be strange if the Germans began to act in exact accordance with the expectations of the Soviet GRU. Because they, too, counted his opponent and was able to predict what Soviet strategists would imagine the actions of the Wehrmacht. And, of course, had to make adjustments for the sake of the surprise factor.

But the choice of the southern strategic direction in fact harbored a lot of trouble for the Germans. It was easy to assume that surprise kick in this area and the weakness of Soviet troops there will provide significant initial success. But to expect to defeat the main forces of the red Army in that direction was impossible. Going to the Lower Volga and the Caucasus, German troops were removed from the vital centers of the enemy, instead create a threat. The main forces of the red army were not affected by the German attack. The southern direction was a strategic dead end.

game Information

Interestingly, the German intelligence on the eve of the summer campaign of 1942 has taken the operation of disinformation “the Kremlin”. Its purpose was to convince Soviet intelligence that the Wehrmacht would again attempt to capture Moscow. It is unknown whether she had made the fruit, or the GRU, suggesting the actions of the Germans in the Moscow area, was based only on his analysis of the situation.

February 16, 1942, the American magazine “Time” there was a mysterious note saying that the chief of the Soviet General staff Marshal Shaposhnikov waiting in the summer the German offensive in the South. Its source is unknown. There is a version that information about the direction of impact Wehrmacht allowed a Soviet agent at the headquarters of the Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Schulze-Boysen. Anyway, Hitler thought it was a leak of their own plan, but to cancel it did not.

Why did the South

choosing a southern direction in the spring of 1942 usually justify economic reasons: lack of oil, the need to capture fields of the Caucasus, or at least to cut the Central regions of the Soviet Union from the means of transportation. This explanation was given by Hitler. That is the purpose of the attack source was not defeating the enemy, and capture its resources. The thesis of the lack of fuel the Wehrmacht looks strange, since at that time Germany has steadily increased its production of synthetic gasoline.

it is Unlikely that Hitler’s generals did not see, that the decision to attack the Caucasus and Stalingrad depriving Germany of the chance to defeat the USSR in 1942. Does this mean that they did not see the prospects for such a victory? Or they hoped that in the case of new great successes of the Wehrmacht CuUsna army and the Soviet Union will fall like a house of cards? But the course of the war in 1941 was to show them the futility of such calculations.

the Sources did not retain evidence of any opposition to the decision of Hitler to the highest military headquarters of the Reich. All generals, including those we now know as oppositional (Halder, Bock, Kluge, Rommel, Kesselring), didn’t mind the blow on the southern wing of the Eastern front. No one has put forward arguments regarding the apparent futility of such strategic decisions.

What was it? Blinding? Confusion after the battle of Moscow? Or generals of the Wehrmacht were some sort of game? The final answer to all these questions are still a mystery. It should be recognized that fatal for the Third Reich, the decision about the operations against the southern wing of the Soviet troops in 1942, despite the seeming clarity of explanation remains one of the most enigmatic episodes of world war II.

Yaroslav Butakov

© Russian Seven

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