MOSCOW OFFENSIVE

st010.jpg (12680 bytes)To the beginning of December the parity of forces at the front essentially has changed. The Germans troops were exhausted and weakened. At the same time Red Army has received a significant reinforcement from formations thrown from the Siberia and from the Far East. It were well equipped and trained divisions, distinguished of high fighting capacity. Soviet command, up to last opportunity, reserved them for organization counter-offensive, even per the heaviest days, when on approaches to Moscow the badly armed regiments and cadets of the Moscow military schools perished.

A number  of the modern Russian researchers considers, that Soviet history overestimated number of German armies and underestimated number of Red armies. So, by an estimation B.V.Sokolov, at the expense of mobilization and transfered armies from Siberia and from Far East the number of Red army on the Soviet-German front to the beginning of December, 1941 has reached at 6,2 million soldiers (despite of the huge losses which have made from a beginning war more 5 million, including 3,9 million prisoners of war). Thus, in opinion of the researcher, the Red Army surpassed Wehrmacht in the ratio 1,6:1. In this case and under Moscow, where all reserves were pulled together, the overweight of the Soviet armies should be not smaller.The number of Red Army on the Moscow direction B.V.Sokolov estimates in 2,7 million soldiers. He judges:

"The numerical superiority of Red army  in tanks and presence at the Soviet armies on the Moscow direction at that moment of numerical prevalence in aircraft also have predetermined successful for our armies outcome of the Moscow fight ".

Preparing counter-offensive on the Moscow strategic direction, Soviet High Command (SHC) has ordered Kalinin Front to put impact on German 9th Field Army of the general Shtraus, defeat them and, having released  Kalinin, to leave on flank and for rear to group of armies "Centre". The Southwestern Front was recommended to put a defeat to an enemy grouping in area Elets and to promote Western Front in rout of the opponent on the Tula direction. SHC has ordered to Western Front defeat Germans shock groupings on the north-west and to the south of Moscow, to put a defeat to the basic forces group of armies "Centre".

In  basis of the instruction of  SHC lay the plan counter-offensive, submitted command of Western Front. It provided impacts to break 3rd and 4th German Panzer Groups, threat to capital in area Klin-Solnechnogorsk-Istra and 2nd Panzer Army in area Tula — Kashira. Then to capture and defeat 4-th field army coming on Moscow from the west. This plan took into account, that the group of armies "Centre" are stretched on thousand miles. Front line of 3rd and 4th Panzer Groups are 250 kms, 2nd Panzer Army-300 kms. And these shock groupings attack in the operatively dangerous situation which has allowed the Soviet armies to capture their flanks. Planning and management of SHC provided operative - strategic interaction Western, Kalinin and Southwestern Fronts. They should break main on the Soviet-German front force of an enemy-group of armies "Centre" and to secure the Soviet capital against new attack to it. At the same time counter-offensive of the Soviet forces under Rostov and Tikhvin deprived Germans command  an opportunity throw reserve to Moscow. The transition from a defense to counter-offensive was decided  to carry out without an operative pause, to pull out enemy  initiative.

Per the first days of December the fights on all fronts proceeded with increasing force and exasperation. The attacks were replaced counter-attacks. The occupied villages, height, main roads passed from hands to hands. There was an extremely intense struggle for the initiative. Germans did not want to reconcile an idea, that Moscow is inaccessible to them. The Soviet capital was absolutely close.

December 6, in the daily radioreport the exulting vote of the announcer U.B.Levitan has sounded:

" December 6, 1941 forces of our Western Front, having exhausted the opponent in previous fights, counter-offensive against Germans shock flank groupings. As a result, both these groupings are rout and hasty depart, throwing engineering, arms and carrying vast losses! " December 5,  attack Kalinin Front (Kalinin offensive operation 5.12.41-7.1.42). December 6,  Western (Tula offensive operation 6.12-16.12.41) and Southwestern Fronts ( Eletsk offensive operation 6.12-16.12.41). On first days Soviet attack, Germans tried to render fierce resistance, leaning on strong defense. Hitler required from the generals by all means to stop deviation. This order doom on an environment and destruction many germans parts, but, at the same time, has prevented transformation of German deviation in epidemic flight. The displacement of the German generals, who have admitted deviation, has followed. 35 German commanders of corps and divisions lost their post. Receding, the fascists burnt cities and villages, blew up bridges and dams of reservoirs. A severe frost and deep snow, from which suffered poorly equipped for winter war Germans, interfered manoeuvres of coming Soviet armies, compelling them to move only on roads. During counter-offensive the mobile groups were actively used. The especially successful road on rears of the opponent on Istra direction has made L.M. Dovator's cavalry corp. In first half of December Red army have released  Istra, Solnechnogorsk, Klin (Klin-Solnechnogorsk offensive operation 6.12-25.12.41), in second half of December- Kalinin (Tver), Volokolamsk. The Soviet formations came to Rzhev and occupied positions for attack from the north of Vyazma.

On the central front line Germans resisted especially persistently, but also here they were compelled to leave Naro-Fominsk and Borovsk.

To the south of Moscow  Red army has advanced on the west more than on 100 kms. Kaluga has released (Kaluga offensive operation 17.12.41-5.1.42). Offensive to Vyazma from the south was prepared. As a result of the first stage, Soviet counter-offensive under Moscow, Germans were rejected from capital on 100-250 kms.

At the same time in  instruction of a military Council of Western Front was marked:

"Some our force instead of detours and encircle of opponent troops push out it from front by frontal attack, instead of infiltration stop on  place, complaining on difficulty of conducting fight and large losses. All these negative ways of conducting fight, play on enemy hand, giving it an opportunity systematically to depart on new boundaries, to result themselves in the order and again to organize resistance to our armies".

In the beginning of 1942, ten Soviet fronts from Leningrad up to the Crimea attack Germans. The formations of Kalinin and Northwestern Fronts successfully came on Velige and Velikie Luki (Demynsk offensive operation 7.1-20.5.42) and             (Toropets-Holm offensive operation 9-29.01.42).

But attempt to put impact in Vyazma direction (Rzev-Vyazma offensive operation 8.1-20.4.42) was finished by failure. The shock group of Soviet 33rd Army led by commander M.G.Efremov has cut and encircled from the main forces and completely perish. Germans kept Rzev-Vyazma bridge-head, from which continued  threaten to Moscow. The reason of this failure became underestimation of the opponent and  forces dispersal on wide front attack.

"In result, during general offensive in winter 1942, the Soviet forces were not defeat any of the main German Groups of Armies".


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