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AD-A168 483 


The Initial Period ^ 
of War 



SOVIET MILITARY THOUGHT 


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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U S Government Printing Office 
Washington. DC 20402 


The Initial Period 
of War 


A Soviet View 



Chief Author: 
S P. Ivanov 
Moscow 1974 










Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 


Ivanov, S. P. 

The initial period of war. 

(Soviet military thought series ; no. 20) 

"Published under the auspices of the United States 
Air Force," 

Supt. of Docs. no. : D 301.79:20 

1. World War, 1939-1945* 2. Strategy. 3* Military 

history, Modern—20th century. I. Title. 11. .Series: 
Soviet military thought ; no. 20. 

U 74 O.I 93 I98ti 355-4'9 


tib-ao7,s 




Table of Contents 


Page 

Introduction . 1 

Part I: The Formation and Development of Views on the Initial Period of War 
From the Nineteenth Century Until the 1940s 

Chapter 1. Entry Into War in the Nineteenth Century and at the Start of the 

Twentieth Century. 19 

1 Specific Features of Entry Into War After the Rise and Development 

of Mass Armies (Late Eighteenth to l.ate Nineteenth Centuries) . 19 

2. Methods of Entry Into War From the Experience of the Russo Japanese 

War of 1904-05. 22 

3. Problems of Entry Into War on the Eve of World War I. 25 

4. The Experience and Lessons of the Entry Into World War I. 31 

Chapter 2. The Organizational Development of the Armed Forces and the 
Development of Military Theories in the Main Capitalist 
Nations Between the Two World Wars. 35 

I Principal Trends in the Organizational Development of the Armed Forces 

of the Main Capitalist Nations. 37 

2. Theories of Small Professional Armies . . 40 

3. Theories of Total War and Blitzkrieg . 42 

4 Theories of War of Attrition. 44 

5. Theories of Naval Warfare 48 

Chapter 3. The Organizational Development of the Soviet Armed Forces and 
the Elaboration of Views in the USSR on the Character of 
Future War and Its Initial Period. 55 

1 Specific Features of the Organizational Development of the Soviet Armed 

Forces. 56 

2 Military Theories in the 1920s on the Probable Character of the Entry of 

Nations Into War 60 

3. Development of Views in the 1930s on the Character of Future War and 

Its Initial Period. 65 

4 Formation and Further Development of Views on the Initial Period of 

War in the Final Prewar Years . 71 

Part II: Strategic Planning and Armed Forces Deployment on the Eve of and at 
the Start of World War II 

Chapter 4. The Military and Political Bases for Strategic Planning. The 
Coals and Plans of the Initial Campaigns and First Operations 
of the Capitalist Armies . 76 

I The Strategic Plans of Fascist Germany and Militarist Japan . 78 

Fascist Germany ’s Plans in the Campaigns in Poland and Western Europe . 78 

Impcralist Japan's Strategic Planning for the Initial Operations in the Pacific 84 


V 





























Pdg< 


2. 1 he Weston ( oaiition ol I'tmus Soategn. Planning tor W'ui and 

Its \ irsi Operations 89 

The Plans for (he Initial Campaigns in Europe 89 

Specific Features of the Strategic Planning in hngland and the 

U S. After the Defeat ol France . 96 

Chapter 5. Methods of Strategic Deployment of the Capitalist Nations' 

Armed Forces. 103 

1 Armed Forces Mobilization Deployment 104 

Mobilization Deployment in Germany and Japan. 104 

Mobilization Deployment of the Polish and French Armed Forces. 113 

Specific Features of Armed Forces Mobilization Deployment in 

England and the U.S. 116 

2 The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the Armed Forces in 

the Theaters of Operations. 119 

The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the Armed Forces of 

the Fascist Bloc. 120 

Specific Features of the Concentration and Deployment of the Main 

Forces of the Polish and French Armies. 124 

The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the English and U S. 

Armed Forces. 129 

Chapter 6. The Concealment of Aggression in Europe and the Pacific. 136 

1. Political Concealment of Aggression. 136 

2. Operational-Strategic Measures to Ensure Surprise in the First Attacks. 141 

3. Effectiveness of Measures to Ensure Surprise in the Attack. 145 

Chapter 7. Fascist Germany's Plans in the War Against the USSR. 

Strategic Deployment of the Armed Forces. 151 

1 Strengthening Fascist Germany Before the Start of War With the 

USSR . 151 

2. The Plans for the Initial Operations Under the Barbarossa Plan . 154 

3. The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the Fascist German 

Forces. 159 

4. The Concealment of Aggression Against the USSR . 163 

Chapter 8. The Soviet Union's Preparations to Repel Fascist Aggression. 169 

1 The Nation's Political. Military, and Economic Preparations for the 

Approaching W'ar. 169 

2. Operational-Strategic Planning for the War and the Initial Operations. 173 

3. Mobilization Deployment of the Armed Forces 177 

4. Concentration and Operational Deployment of the Forces 

on the Eve of War. 179 


Part III: The Initial Strategic Operations 


Chapter 9. The Initial Offensive Operations in the European Theaters 

of Operations. 188 

1 New Characteristics of Offensive Operations 188 

2 Specific Features of the Combat Employment of the Services of the 

Armed Forces. 195 


vi 


































Page 


Chapter JO. The ( oltapse of the Strategic Defense in Poland and Western 

Europe . 206 

1 The Conduct ot Strategic Intense b> the Polish Army 206 

2 The Conduct of Strategic Defense hy the Allied Armies in the 

Netherlands. Belgium, and Northern Trance. 2H 

Chapter II. Specific Features of the Soviet Armed Forces' Strategic 

Defense at the Start of the Great Patriotic War. 222 

l Soviet Defensive Operations in the Border Areas. 222 

2. The Mobilization of All the Nation’s Forces to Repel the Enemy. . 23J 

3 The Commitment of the Strategic Reserves and the Temporary 

Stabilization of the Defense . 237 

Chapter 12. Preparing for and Making a Surprise Initial Attack After 
Opening a New Strategic Front (From the Experience of the 
Soviet Armed Forces’ 1545 Campaign in the Far East) . 245 

1 The Military and Political Situation by the Start of the Campaign 

and the Plan of the Japanese Command. 247 

2. The Plan for the Defeat of the Kwantung Army. 249 

3. Making the First Attack and Achieving the Goals of the War in the 

Campaign 257 

Chapter 13. Specific Features of Initial Operations in the War in the 

Pacific. 265 

1. Characteristics of the Japanese Armed Forces* Strategic Offensive. 266 

2 Methods of Conducting Offensive Operations 271 

3. Allied Defensive Operations . 280 

Chapter 14. Winning Air Supremacy and Organizing National Air Defense 

at the Start of the War. 287 

I Air Force Combat Operations to Win Air vSupremaey. 287 

2. National Air Defense 294 

Air Defense Capabilities in Repelling Mass Air Attacks. 294 

Conclusion. 302 


vii 






















The translation and publication of The Initial Period of War does not con¬ 
stitute approval by any U.S. Government organization of the inferences, find¬ 
ings, and conclusions contained therein. Publication is solely for the exchange 
and stimulation of ideas. 


Introduction 


World War II, unleashed by the imperialist nations, brought the peoples of 
the world untold suffering and sacrifice. It took more than 50 million lives and 
caused tremendous material losses. Especially great losses were suffered in this 
war by the Soviet people, who made the decisive contribution in defeating the 
imperialist aggressors and in liberating the peoples of the world from the threat 
of fascist enslavement. The peoples of the world have not forgotten the lessons 
of the last war and are raising their voices with increasing determination in sup¬ 
port of the Peace Program advanced by the 24th CPSU Congress.* Because 
of the increased power and international influence of the Soviet Union and the 
entire socialist community, and because of the efforts of peace-loving forces, 
a relaxation of tensions has taken shape in international relations, and a whole 
system of agreements and treaties has emerged. These are laying the founda¬ 
tion for constructive relations between socialist and capitalist nations. However, 
in the capitalist world there are still influential forces opposed to detente. “It 
will no doubt be a long time before imperialism's aggressive forces lay down 
their weapons,” said General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee L. I. 
Brezhnev at a ceremony awarding him the international Lenin Prize for 
strengthening peace between nations. “And there are still adventurists capable 
of igniting a new military conflagration for their own egotistical interests. We 
therefore consider it our sacred duty to conduct a policy making it impossible 
for any unexpected event to catch us unprepared.”' 

Influenced by a number of sociopolitical and historical circumstances, every 
war has been different from all others. War, said V. I. Lenin, “is a diverse 
and complex thing.” 2 The interwoven pattern of numerous political, economic, 
military, geographic, and other factors has brought about an extremely great 
variety of ways and methods of preparing for and entering into war. This prob¬ 
lem became especially complex in the world wars, which drew in dozens of 
nations in various parts of the globe and affected the vital interests of their 
peoples. 

History has shown us that when nations enter into war, the process is not 
an act of the moment. It extends over a definite period and is characterized by 
features that distinguish it from events later in the war. Along with the start 
of military operations, a whole system of political, ideological, and economic 
measures affecting a nation’s transition from a state of peace to a state of war 
is carried out during this period. It is thus with good reason that when nations 


*\CPSU—KommunisiU heskaya partiyu Sovetsko/to Sovuza 'Comntunisl Party of the Soviet Union’— 
U S. Ed | 


1 




enter into war, the process is designated as a special area of research in military 
history and theory. It has been referred to in different ways in various coun¬ 
tries: “the first period of war,” “the first phase of war,” “the entering period 
of war,” “the preparatory operation,” "the initial phase of war,” “the initial 
period of war,” and so forth. 

The problem of entering into war and conducting the first operations has long 
been of interest to politicians and military officials, theorists, and historians. 
The issue of the initial period of war in military history and theory has been 
raised more than once by the Soviet military press. Many aspects of this com¬ 
plex situation have been discussed in a number of books and articles on the history 
of World War II and the Great Patriotic War. Even today, however, this im¬ 
portant area of historical experience requires additional in-depth and thorough 
theoretical investigation. “Historians,” said Minister of Defense Marshal of 
the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko, “still have a great deal to do to provide an 
exhaustive scientific explanation of the large and complex group of problems 
connected with the start of the last war. . . . There is a great deal to think about: 
history has a great many lessons with application for modern times." 3 

In preparing for World War II, political and military leaders in the imperialist 
nations persistently sought “formulas” for victory over their enemies. They 
worked out various doctrines, plans, and strategic concepts. Preparations to con¬ 
duct war against the Soviet Union to eliminate the socialist system and restore 
capitalism in the USSR occupied a special place in the imperialists’ plans. Reac¬ 
tionary circles in England, France, and the U.S. exerted every effort to direct 
the aspirations of the aggressive nations (Germany and Japan) against the Soviet 
Union. The reactionary circles planned to satisfy the predatory appetites of Ger¬ 
many and Japan at the expense of the Soviet Union, while at the same time 
weakening Germany and Japan as much as possible and retaining their own 
colonial possessions. In turn, the rulers of fascist Germany and militarist Japan, 
while pursuing their goal of destroying the Soviet Union, intended to achieve 
it after greatly increasing their military and economic potential and improving 
their strategic position by seizing neighboring nations and weakening the political, 
economic, and military might of the U.S., England, and France. This situation 
gave rise to an arms race in both imperialist coalitions. 

The two decades preceding the war saw a great increase in the quantity and 
quality of new military equipment and weapons. This brought about a con¬ 
siderable expansion of the combat capabilities of armed forces and increased 
their firepower, maneuverability, and capability to make massed attacks to a 
great depth. The composition of the large and well-equipped armed forces in 
peacetime, the possibility of rapidly bringing them to combat readiness, and 
the refinement of mobilization systems made it possible to quickly increase the 
military might of nations and to react flexibly to changes in the political situation. 


2 





Realistic conditions were created tor altering the methods of entering into 
war and there arose the possibility, given a favorable situation, of carrying out 
major operations w ith decisive goals at the start of a war. The major capitalist 
nations, especially Germany and Japan, began to develop various theories and 
strategic concepts calling for maximum activation of military operations from 
the start of a war. These were reflected in the military doctrines of these na¬ 
tions and had a decisive influence on the development of operational-strategic 
plans for conducting war. 

The military doctrines and strategic concepts of nations in the fascist bloc 
(Germany, Japan, and Italy) were of a clearly defined, aggressive character. 
The military and economic potential of these nations fell considerably short of 
the overall potential of their likely enemies. The political and military leaders 
of these nations attempted to compensate for the discrepancy between the far- 
reaching military and political goals of war and the limited military and economic 
potentials of their nations by conducting fast-moving, blitzkrieg wars. This led 
to an extremely venturesome theory and practice of conducting war. The pur¬ 
pose of military theory was reduced to a search for the "secret of victory" and 
to the development of "special" methods of conducting war that would make 
it possible to destroy an enemy with potentially superior forces. Paramount im¬ 
portance was attached to timely preparation of a country and its armed forces 
to engage in war at a date set in advance and to surprise in the attack. Great 
importance was also attached to careful preparation for conducting initial opera¬ 
tions, which were expected to determine the outcome of a war or, at least, to 
determine it to a certain degree. 

Fascist Germany 's plans of conquest were based on the notorious doctrine 
of all-out war and the blitzkrieg strategy. These in turn were based on the political 
and ideological principles of fascism with its program of expanding German 
lebensraum by enslaving neighboring nations, followed by conquest of the Soviet 
Union and the subsequent achievement of world domination. 

Fascist Germany's leaders felt that the war for world domination would be 
a prolonged one, during which they planned to destroy their enemies in succes¬ 
sion, one by one, in blitzkrieg campaigns carried out at specific intervals. The 
systematic defeat of their enemies and acquisition of their territories were to 
ensure a gradual buildup of their own military and economic strength. Political 
isolation and internal disintegration of the next victim of aggression were con¬ 
sidered to be the most important conditions for the success of the blitzkrieg against 
individual nations. 

The initial (first) operations were considered decisive in achieving the goals 
of war. During these operations the intention was to defeat the main groupings 
of ground, air, and naval forces and to disrupt or thwart the mobilization and 
strategic deployment of enemy armed forces, thus ensuring the favorable subse¬ 
quent course and outcome of the war. A special role was assigned to the first 


3 



surprise massed attack. The destructive force of that attack was to weaken an 
enemy’s entire defense system and to disorganize its government and military 
control during the first hours and days of war. It was planned to begin the inva¬ 
sion without declaring war. The main measures to mobilize and deploy the armed 
forces w ere to be carried out before war began so that the attack would be power¬ 
ful and unexpected. Aviation and tank forces were to be the main force in mak¬ 
ing the first attack and conducting initial operations. 

Like fascist Germany, Japan based its main hopes in the war against its im¬ 
perialist rivals on the surprise of attack and the enemy’s lack of preparedness 
to repel aggression. To ensure that the first attacks would be powerful and unex¬ 
pected, Japanese military theory, like German military theory, called for the 
main mobilization measures and strategic deployment of the armed forces to 
be carried out before war began. This was expressed by the Japanese military 
command in its specific operational-strategic plans for conducting war in the 
Pacific. The navy was assigned the leading role in the war against England, 
the U.S., and Holland. Its operations were to achieve sea supremacy at the start 
of the war and, together with the land forces, the successful conduct of large 
assault operations The Japanese command assigned the main role in the ac¬ 
complishment of these missions to powerful carrier strike forces, land-based 
aviation, and targe groups of surface ships. 

The military doctrines and strategic concepts of England, France, and their 
allies differed considerably from the military doctrines and strategies of the fascist 
bloc nations, especially in their methods of entering into war and conducting 
the first operations. Politically, however, they were also imperialist and expan¬ 
sionist. While possessing tremendous military and economic potential, which 
could have been put to full use throughout the war, these nations preferred a 
strategy of wearing down the enemy and intended to make their greatest effort 
not at the war’s start, but at its end, waiting for the arrival of the most favorable 
moment to apply the decisive milirary effort. 

These views resulted primarily from the anti-Soviet character of the policy 
pursued by ruling circles in the western nations, which were attempting to direct 
fascist aggression against the Soviet Union to weaken both parties in the strug¬ 
gle and then to force their own will on the world. This was the main reason 
for the wait-and-see policy of the Anglo-French bloc, which developed into 
a strategy of defense. 

The orientation toward a defensive strategy at the war’s start was most dearly 
manifested in France The French art of war seemed to be paralyzed at the World 
War I level and did not take into proper account advances in military affairs. 
Criticizing this set 01 viewv General de Gaulle wrote "Concepts current even 
before the end ot World War I prevailed in the aimy 


“The strategy that we planned to pursue in a future war was based on the 
concept of static warfare. This strategy also determined the organization of the 
forces, their training and armament, and the entire military doctrine as a whole.” 4 
With slight changes these concepts became the basis of plans with which France 
entered World w ar II. 

Following their traditional policy of using other people to do their fighting, 
England's ruling circles planned to place the main burden of the land war on 
their partners: France, Poland, and other nations. They were to tie up and ex¬ 
haust the human and material resources of Germany and its allies in a prolonged 
war, permitting England to achieve its military and political goals at minimum 
cost. 

The same policy and strategy were even more characteristic of the U.S. That 
nation's ruling circles planned not to interfere in the war between the rival Euro¬ 
pean nations for a definite period. These circles planned to enter the war in 
its final stage as a “third power” and, relying on their economic and military 
strength, take advantage of the fruits of victory by dictating the conditions for 
peace to both the victorious and the defeated parties. 

It is apparent from the above that the western powers did not attempt to launch 
active combat operations against the fascist bloc at the start of the war. They 
planned to limit their efforts to converting the war to static forms of warfare 
in the land theaters of operations and, by taking advantage of their superior naval 
forces, to organizing a blockade to deprive the enemy of foreign sources of 
materials for waging war. Despite certain specific features, the strategic views 
on the initial period of war held by military and political leaders in England, 
France, and the U.S. were imbued with the idea of defense, the goal of which 
was to oppose blitzkrieg warfare with a prolonged war calculated to exhaust 
the enemy and to gain time to fully develop one’s own military and economic 
potential. On the other hand, ruling circles in the western imperialist nations 
assumed that they would still be able to avert fascist Germany ’s aggression from 
themselves and direct it against the USSR. 

Thus, while the opposing coalitions of imperialist nations shared a common 
final goal of destroying or seriously weakening the USSR, they also had their 
own special goals, which they proposed to achieve at each other’s expense. To 
a considerable extent this also explained the difference in views on methods 
of entering the war and on the role and type of initial operations. 

World War II between the two imperialist blocs began on 1 September 1939 
with fascist Germany's attack on Poland. Various nations were subsequently 
drawn into the war one by one, and the war gradually extended to more and 
more regions of the globe. 


5 





The nations entered World War II in succession. The war first broke out in 
Europe between fascist Germany and the Anglo-French bloc, which included 
Poland as its ally. Fascist German aggression then spread to a number of Balkan 
nations (Greece, Yugoslavia), ending in their occupation. After enslaving almost 
all Europe, Hitlerite Germany and its satellites attacked the Soviet Union. The 
Great Patriotic War began. It was to form most of World War II. Several months 
after the countries in the Hitlerite coalition attacked the USSR, militarist Japan 
attacked the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific. With the entry of the Soviet Union 
and the U.S. into the war, it became a true world war, embracing all continents. 

As a rule, the wars on the European continent and in Asia, which were in¬ 
tegral parts of World War D, had their own initial periods with their own specific 
features. At the same time, although the various nations entered the war in ex¬ 
tremely diverse manners, and while the operations of their armed forces in the 
initial period of war and the content of their internal and foreign policy measures 
for their entry into war differed greatly, their methods of entering the war all 
had common features. 

The most important common feature was that, as had not been so in previous 
wars, combat operations assumed a tremendous scale from the first minutes of 
the war and were conducted to achieve decisive goals, using all of the forces 
that the belligerents had managed to deploy by the war’s start. The side taking 
the initiative in unleashing the war entered it with fully mobilized armed forces 
deployed in advantageous offensive groupings. As a rule, the side subjected 
to aggression lagged behind in its strategic deployment and. yielding the strategic 
initiative to the enemy, began the war with defensive operations by covering 
forces. Mobilization and deployment of the main forces were completed during 
the initial operations. 

Simultaneously with the development of military operations, in the initial 
period the belligerents carried out a whole series of urgent political, economic, 
and military measures to mobilize their internal reserves for war and made ef¬ 
forts to strengthen their foreign political positions. 

These specific features of the initial period were most pronounced in the wars 
between large nations or coalitions of nations with vast territories and con¬ 
siderable military and economic potential. Such wars include the war in Europe 
in 1939-1940; the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against fascist Germany 
and its European allies; and the war unleashed by Japan against the U.S. and 
other nations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. 

The main opponents in the European war were fascist Germany on one side 
and France and England on the other. A specific feature of the outbreak of this 
war was that it began with an attack by fascist Germany not against its main 
enemies, but against their weak ally—Poland. The governments of France and 
England responded to this attack with a declaration of war on Germany. 

6 




.L 


The initial period of the war in Europe consisted mainly of the German- 
Polish war and the military, political, and economic measures carried out by 
the belligerents. The initial period was characterized by features and tenden¬ 
cies not observed in the initial period of World War I. 

While in World War I the mobilization and strategic deployment of the armed 
forces in all nations took place on the whole after war had been declared, and 
combat operations were conducted by comparatively small forces and with limited 
goals until then, in World War 11 fascist Germany finished its preparations for 
the decisive engagements before the war began and carried out its attack against 
Poland with the main forces of its army. These had been mobilized and deployed 
along the Polish borders ahead of time in a grouping advantageous for the of 
fensive. The invasion itself was carried out suddenly, without a declaration of 
war. All of this was made easier by a flexible system of military and economic 
mobilization, a gradual and concealed deployment of forces along the Polish 
borders, and a careful concealment of preparations. 

The war against Poland was planned by the fascist German command as a 
single strategic offensive operation designed to destroy the Polish army’s main 
forces in a brief period. The aviation and tank forces had the largest role in 
achieving this goal. Massed attacks by fascist German aviation against airfields, 
railroad terminals, and troop concentration sites ensured the rapid achievement 
of air supremacy, thwarted the mobilization and deployment of forces, and 
disorganized control over the nation and the armed forces. The use of large 
groups of tanks and the fascist German army’s superior mobility and 
maneuverability made possible the rapid breakthrough of the Polish army’s 
defenses, the destruction of the front, and the encirclement and annihilation of 
isolated groupings. The situation of the Polish forces was also greatly complicated 
because the army had not been fully mobilized by the start of the war and its 
strategic deployment had not been completed. 

Because of all this, the strategic defense of the Polish armed forces rapidly 
collapsed, and, after achieving its immediate strategic goals, the Hitlerite com¬ 
mand was able to begin regrouping its armed forces along Germany’s western 
borders, where a decisive encounter with its main Western European enemies 
was imminent. 

While the Polish army was being defeated by the Hitlerite hordes, its western 
allies, who had formally declared war against Germany, did not assist Poland 
as they had promised. 

Pursuing their own imperialist goals, the governments of England and France 
continued their policy of maneuver during this period, applying tremendous ef¬ 
fort to avoid a decisive confrontation with Germany and to direct fascist ag¬ 
gression against the USSR at the price of Poland’s betrayal. At the same time, 
these countries were applying new energy in their foreign policy toward neutral 


7 


nations, attempting to establish closer contacts with the U.S. and to win Norway, 
Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Holland, as well as certain Balkan nations 
(Greece, Turkey, and Yugoslavia), over to their side. 

During this period there were no active military operations on the Western 
Front. 

After completing most of its mobilization, France deployed its armed forces 
along its borders at the start of September 1939. One grouping of its forces 
occupied the Maginot Line, while another was concentrated on the French- 
Belgian border, ready to move to a line of deployment in Belgium and Holland. 
England had begun reorganizing its industry to meet its war needs and was con¬ 
ducting combat operations at sea, carrying out mobilization, assembling new 
formations, and moving expeditionary forces to the continent. 

Thus, the new developments noted above in the initial period of the war in 
Europe took place mainly in the operations of fascist Germany. During this period 
France and England were taking about the same steps as in World War I in 
preparing for decisive operations against the main enemy: mobilization, deploy¬ 
ment of forces, the creation of strategic groupings, and so forth. 

Taking advantage of the inactivity of England and France, by April 1940 the 
fascist German leadership had carefully prepared for the war’s decisive cam¬ 
paign against the Anglo-French coalition without any sort of interference. By 
then the ground army had been increased to 157 divisions. By 10 May, 136 
divisions were concentrated on Germany’s western borders. Hitler’s command 
had created three strategic groupings from these forces: the first deployed against 
Denmark and Norway, the second against Belgium and Holland, and the third 
(the main grouping) against France to strike across the Ardennes at Abbeville 
toward the coast of the English Channel. 

The military operations that began in the spring of 1940 in the Western Euro¬ 
pean theater had all of the features of the initial period of war, since Denmark, 
Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, which were attacked by Hitler’s 
forces, had remained outside the war until then. Although they had been at war, 
France and England clashed with the main forces of the fascist German army 
for the first time and carried out their first strategic operation since the start 
of World War II. 

A characteristic feature of the initial operations in Western Europe was that 
fascist Germany first made surprise attacks against Denmark and Norway, 
followed by a decisive attack against France through Luxembourg, Belgium, 
and Holland. Since they had maintained a policy of neutrality during the “phony 
war,” the Belgian and Dutch governments had not managed to complete the 
strategic deployment of their armed forces. They rapidly surrendered when the 
first attacks were carried out against them, without exhausting all of the 




8 



possibilities for effective resistance. The surrender of the Belgian and Dutch 
armies contributed to the rapid defeat of the main Anglo-French forces in 
Belgium, Holland, and the northern regions of France. This permitted the fascist 
German army to achieve a drastic change in the balance of forces (especially 
in tanks and aviation) and to occupy an advantageous strategic position for the 
final attack against France. The defeat demoralized the French command, 
destroyed the army’s will to resist, and increased the defeatist mood of the na¬ 
tion’s political leadership. All of this led to France’s total surrender in a short 
time. 

Even more than in Poland, the massed use of large aviation and tank forces 
played a decisive role in the success achieved by fascist German forces on the 
battlefields of Western Europe. The employment of powerful groupings of mobile 
forces with continuous air support in the first echelons resulted in highly dynamic 
operations with great mobility and greatly increased rates of development. 
Attacks by such groupings totally destroyed the static defense of the Anglo- 
French forces, which lacked adequate strategic reserves capable of warding off 
the enemy’s battering blows. 

Japan prepared for and unleashed the war in the Pacific at a time when the 
nations of Western Europe had suffered a serious defeat in the war with fascist 
Germany, and the Soviet Union was single-handedly conducting a heroic struggle 
against the combined forces of Hitler’s Reich and its European allies. 

Like the German fascists, the Japanese militarists intended to accomplish their 
plans to seize the rich raw material resources of the Philippines, Malaya, 
Indonesia, Thailand, and Burma by carrying out a number of simultaneous and 
successive rapid operations, regarding them as the first phase or the initial period 
of the war. 5 

By the start of December 1941 Japan was totally prepared to engage in a ma¬ 
jor war, which it began on dates established in advance. Although the U.S. had 
information on Japan's preparations to invade its Pacific possessions, it still hoped 
that Japan would turn its aggression toward the USSR. The U.S. did not take 
proper measures to strengthen its positions in the Pacific and was taken by sur¬ 
prise in the first attacks made by the Japanese armed forces. 

The initial period of the war in the Pacific theater, which lasted from December 
1941 through April 1942, consisted mainly of a general strategic offensive by 
the Japanese armed forces over the vast expanses of the Pacific and Southeast 
Asia, and the conduct of a strategic defense by the U.S. and its allies. The 
Japanese offensive was carried out with the specific features of the ocean theater 
and the distribution of enemy forces taken into account, and was conducted by 
several groupings operating simultaneously along separate strategic axes until 
the assigned missions were fully accomplished. 


9 



Military operations in the Pacific began with a surprise attack by Japanese 
carrier-based aircraft against the main forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl 
Harbor, with simultaneous air attacks against airfields in the Philippines and 
the landing of troops in Malaya. The Japanese offensive assumed tremendous 
scope from the first days of the war and was carried out simultaneously on land, 
at sea, and in the air. After the first attacks by the Japanese navy and air force, 
most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the main naval base at Pearl Harbor in the 
Hawaiian Islands was destroyed or rendered inoperable, the American air force 
in the Philippines was knocked out, and the British navy and air force in Malaya 
suffered great losses. The success of these attacks ensured Japanese air and sea 
supremacy, which in turn created favorable conditions for landing large am¬ 
phibious assault forces. Japanese air and sea supremacy was strengthened when 
assault forces seized enemy naval bases and airfields, to which additional 
Japanese forces were rapidly transferred. Aviation, primarily carrier-based, was 
decisive in the struggle to rule the seas. The extensive scope of landing opera¬ 
tions, carried out with close cooperation between all branches of the armed 
forces, and rapid maneuver at sea and in the air ensured great depth and high 
rates of advance for the Japanese forces. 

The swift advance of the Japanese, who held the initiative totally, thwarted 
all attempts by the allies to organize resistance at important strategic positions. 
The Anglo-American command was not able to withdraw its forces from under 
attack and organize a defense. Japanese air and sea supremacy prevented the 
allied command from transferring its reserves to the threatened areas in time. 
The defensive operations of the demoralized allied forces were concentrated 
in centers of resistance and, as a rule, ended in hasty retreat or surrender. After 
suffering tremendous losses and losing vast territories, the allies were forced 
to quickly create a new strategic defensive line along the immediate approaches 
to India, Australia, the Hawaiian Islands, and Alaska. 

During a continuous 5-month offensive the Japanese armed forces achieved 
all the goals assigned them for the initial period of the war. After occupying 
the Philippines, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Thailand, Bumr.., and other 
nations, they controlled a huge territory with a population of more than 150 
million and rich reserves of strategic raw materials. The seizure of these ter¬ 
ritories contributed greatly to Japan's conduct of a prolonged war in the Pacific. 
But no matter how great Japan’s successes during the initial period, these suc¬ 
cesses could not guarantee the outcome of the war in Japan's favor, since the 
vital centers of the nations opposing Japan had not been affected and their military 
and economic potential had not been destroyed. Nevertheless, the American 
armed forces required approximately 3 years of intense military operations to 
overcome, together with their allies, the consequences of the initial operations 
and regain the lost territories. 

Thus, in the wars between the capitalist nations, the aggressor took advan¬ 
tage of surprise attacks and the power of armed forces deployed in advance to 


10 




completely achieve primary and sometimes even ultimate goals during the initial 
period. The capitalist nations that found themselves the victims of aggression 
were not in a position to prevent the enemy from accomplishing its strategic 
plans. Suffering great losses, these nations underwent defeat (Poland), sur¬ 
rendered (France, Belgium, Holland, and others), or, as happened in the Pacific, 
lost huge territories and the ability to regain the strategic initiative for a long 
period. 

The new developments observed in the character and content of the initial 
periods of the wars between the capitalist nations were even more clearly 
manifested in the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War against the combined forces 
of the fascist bloc of nations under the aegis of Hitlerite Germany. 

The Great Patriotic War began in a situation extremely unfavorable for the 
Soviet Union. After defeating its enemies in Western Europe and completing 
the mobilization of its armed forces, fascist Germany found it possible, without 
fearing for its European rear, to concentrate and deploy a tremendous mass of 
troops and combat equipment along the Soviet borders in a grouping favorable 
for the offensive. The absence of a second front in Europe permitted the fascist 
German command to use more than 70 percent of all the infantry divisions at 
its disposal, 90 percent of its tank and motorized divisions, and more than 60 
percent of its combat aviation for its attack against the USSR. 6 

Preparing the nation to repel imperialist aggression during the prewar years, 
the Communist Party, the Soviet government, and all of our people did a tre¬ 
mendous amount of work to create the material base for the nation’s defense, 
to develop a war industry, and to stockpile all types of strategic materials. The 
threat of an imperialist attack against the Soviet nation, which became espe¬ 
cially acute at the start of World War II, forced the Soviet government to take 
new measures to prepare the nation for defense, and, specifically, to greatly 
increase the size of the Soviet Aimed Forces. Their strength grew by a factor 
of 2.8 from 1939 to 1941. These party and government measures were of tremen¬ 
dous importance for increasing the nation’s defense capability and raising the 
general level of the armed forces’ mobilizational and operational readiness to 
repel fascist aggression. 

As fascist Germany prepared for its planned attack against the USSR, the Soviet 
Union consequently introduced important measures during the prewar period 
to prepare for decisive engagements. However, while fascist Germany had 
already placed its economy on a war footing and had totally mobilized its armed 
forces before the war began, the Soviet Union had only partially completed this 
work. On the eve of the war the Soviet economy was still operating entirely 
according to peacetime plans and, despite intensive development of its war in¬ 
dustry, had not been able to supply its rapidly growing armed forces with the 
necessary quantity of combat equipment and weapons, especially the latest types. 


11 





As a result, many difficulties were encountered in the organizational develop¬ 
ment of the Armed Forces, in equipping them, and in improving their combat 
readiness. When the war began, fascist Germany had temporary superiority in 
new weapons. 

Other factors were also behind the reduced combat readiness of the Soviet 
Armed Forces to repel fascist aggression. These had to do primarily with limita¬ 
tions set by the Soviet government on concentrating and deploying forces of 
the western military districts along the border. These limitations resulted from 
the Soviet government's desire to avoid a military confrontation with fascist 
Germany, or at least not to provide it with an excuse to unleash a war against 
the Soviet Union too early; the government thus gained time to complete the 
reorganization and rearmament of the Soviet Army. 

The directive ordering that the forces of the border military districts be made 
combat ready and moved up to the border was not issued until the early hours 
of 22 June 1941, a few hours before the enemy's invasion of our nation. This 
made it possible for the enemy to achieve its strategic deployment before the 
Soviet Armed Forces, and it provided the enemy with a number of other ex¬ 
tremely important advantages at the start of the war. 

Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union thus entered the war in unequal cir¬ 
cumstances, as a result of which our nation and Armed Forces found themselves 
in a difficult situation at the start of military operations. The causes of this dis¬ 
parity were thoroughly revealed by the CPSU Central Committee. “The 
Hitlerites enjoyed temporary advantages: militarization of the economy and all 
aspects of life in Germany; lengthy preparations for a war of aggression, and 
experience gained from military operations in the west, and superiority in ar¬ 
mament and troop strength, with German forces already concentrated near the 
border. They had at their disposal the economic and military resources of almost 
all of Western Europe. Hitlerite Germany had seized in the European nations 
an entire arsenal of weapons, tremendous stocks of metals and strategic raw 
materials, and metallurgical and military plants. The Soviet Union was forced 
to enter into single combat with a colossal military machine. 

"Errors made in estimating the possible time for Hitlerite Germany’s attack 
against us, and resulting errors in preparing to repel the first attacks, also played 

a role." 1 

According to Directive No. 21 (the Barbarossa plan) the fascist German com¬ 
mand defined the immediate goal of the first operations in the Baltic region, 
Belorussia, and the western Ukraine as that of breaking up the forces of Soviet 
bordei districts into isolated sections with attacks by tank groups and field ar¬ 
mies supported by aviation on the Dvina, Minsk-Smolensl , and Kiev axes and 
destroying them west of the Western Dvina and Dnepr, thus clearing the way 
tor a later uniiindcrcd advance to Leningrad. Moscow, and the Don Basin. 8 


Taking the existing situation into account, the Soviet command attempted from 
the Stan of the war to halt the advance of enemy strike forces, to push them 
back to their initial positions, and, given favorable conditions, to transfer military 
operations to enemy territory. The resoluteness of these goals and the uncom¬ 
promising, class nature of the war gave it tremendous scope and resulted in 
fierce, highly dynamic military operations from the first days. 

The fascist German army began its invasion of our nation with surprise strikes 
by forces fully prepared for the attack. During the first hours of the war enemy 
aviation carried out massed attacks against airfields and forces in the border 
area (from the Western Dvina to the Dnepr). Many of our nation's cities were 
bombed at this time: Kiev, Minsk, Smolensk, Sevastopol, and others. The sur¬ 
prise attack forced Soviet troops to engage in combat at a great disadvantage. 
Many units and formations were caught unprepared. They were forced to enter 
into combat on the march and in sections. Despite these extremely difficult cir¬ 
cumstances, our forces offered heroic resistance to the enemy from the first 
hours of the war. Combat operations spread over a vast front from the Baltic 
Sea to the Carpathians (1,500 km). The front of the enemy's strategic offensive 
was extended in the following days: Germany's satellite forces went over to 
the offensive. By mid-July military operations extended over a front of 3,000 
km, 400 to 600 km deep along the main axes. New forces were drawn into the 
war with each passing day. The fascist German command committed 117 divi¬ 
sions to action on the first day of the war. Ten days later, following the in¬ 
troduction of formations from the second echelons and satellite forces into battle, 
the number of enemy divisions operating in the first line had increased to 171.» 
Only covering armies took part in the border engagements on the Soviet side. 
In the following days the forces of ail the western border military districts. 170 
divisions, participated in the initial operations, and strategic reserves brought 
up from the nation's interior joined into battle at the start of July. A total of 
around 400 divisions, thousands of tanks and aircraft, tens of thousands of guns 
and mortars, and a large quantity of other types of combat equipment were used 
in battle on both sides during the first weeks of the war. 

Initial operations on the Soviet-German Front saw a high level of activity 
and maneuver and were distinguished by great diversity of forms and methods 
After seizing the strategic initiative, the enemy rapidly developed the offensive, 
extensively employing divisive attacks to break up the strategic front, and car¬ 
ried out deep and close envelopments that sometimes resulted in the complete 
encirclement of large groups of Soviet forces. The Soviet Armed Forces 
countered similar enemy operations with an active strategic defense of maneuver, 
pursuing the goal of destroying the enemy’s offensive capabilities and exhausting 
and weakening its strike groups. While conducting fierce defensive engagements, 
Soviet forces combined a determined defense of occupied positions with 
withdrawal to intermediate or rear positions when necessary. They battled in 
encirclement and fought their way out of encirclement. In all situations they 
conducted an active defense. Numerous counterattacks by armies and fronts were 


13 



an inseparable pari ol Soviet defensive opeiutiuns. As a lule, laige tank (urina¬ 
tions took part in these counterattacks. 

Strategic reserves pla>ed a tremendous role in restoring and stabilizing the 
strategic defensive front, which had been broken up by the enemy on the main 
axes. General Headquarters transferred 35 divisions to the Western Front be¬ 
tween 27 June and 10 July to restore defenses on the central axis that were 
breached by the enemy during the first days of the war. 10 Encountering deter¬ 
mined and constantly increasing resistance by our forces along the entire Soviet- 
German Front, the enemy was forced to spread the efforts of its strike groups. 
The rates of advance, which had reached 30 km a day during the first days of 
the war, dropped to 6 or 7 km a day by mid-July. A considerable part of the 
front had stabilized by that time. Soviet forces had temporarily secured them¬ 
selves on a line between Pyarnn and Tartu. Fascist German forces were halted 
for approximately a month on the Luga River. Fierce engagements developed 
on the Smolensk axis, as a result of which Army Group Center went over to 
the defensive at the end of July for a long period The situation stabilized on 
the approaches to Kiev and on the Dnepr to the south of the Ukrainian capital. 
Operations in the initial period of the war concluded at these positions. A new 
stage of the summer-fall campaign of 1941 began with the introduction of large 
strategic reserves of the General Headquarters of the Soviet Supreme High Com¬ 
mand; these formed the second strategic echelon of the Soviet Armed Forces. 

The plan of Hitler's command in the border engagements to destroy the main 
Soviet forces to the south of the Dvina and Dnepr and to open the way for an 
unimpeded advance into our nation's interior was thwarted by the active defense 
of the first strategic echelon and by the commitment of strategic reserves to 
battle. After repelling the first enemy onslaught, the Soviet Army, after deploying 
its main forces, was prepared for a continuation of active defensive operations. 
The first major fracture had occurred in the vaunted Barbarossa plan, which 
called for defeating Soviet Russia with a "rapid-moving” military operation. 
This was the main military-political result of the initial period of the Great 
Patriotic War. 

The Soviet Armed Forces inflicted considerable losses on the enemy during 
the intense defensive engagements in the border zone. Many of Hitler’s generals 
admitted that these losses could not be compared with those suffered in Western 
Europe. As of 13 July, according to General Haider, chief of the German army 
general staff, these losses amounted to around 100,000 men killed, wounded, 
or unaccounted for. 11 The enemy suffered even greater losses of combat equip¬ 
ment. According to General Haider, the tank forces lost around 50 percent of 
their effective strength and the air force around 25 percent during the first 3 
weeks of the war. The fascist German army had never before suffered such 
great losses in such a brief period. 


14 



The Soviet Armed Forces paid the price in large losses of men, military equip¬ 
ment, and territory to achieve these important military, political, and strategic 
results in the initial period of the war. The threat of continued enemy advance 
into our nation’s interior had still not been lifted. 

The tremendous danger facing our nation after fascist Germany’s treacherous 
attack and the unfavorable development of events on the front made necessary 
extraordinary measures to mobilize all of the nation’s human and material 
resources. The Communist Party assumed the leadership of the national strug¬ 
gle against the fascist German invaders from the first day of the war. The party 
rapidly carried out a number of extraordinary political, military, and economic 
measures to put the nation on a war footing, and it mobilized the nation's ef¬ 
forts to repel the mortal enemy. 

Relying on the capabilities of the socialist economy and the advantages of 
the Soviet social and state structure, the AUCP(b)* Central Committee drew 
up a program to achieve victory over the fascist German invaders. One of the 
first documents defining the just, emancipatory goals of the Great Patriotic War 
and revealing the conditions necessary for the enemy’s defeat was a directive 
issued on 29 June 1941 by the USSR SNKt and the AUCP(b) Central Com¬ 
mittee to party and soviet organizations in the regions next to the ffont. Along 
with a program of objectives defining the ultimate goals of the Soviet people 
in the Great Patriotic War, this historic document described the immediate in¬ 
ternal political, economic, and military tasks for the total mobilization of the 
nation’s forces to repel fascist aggression. The party also promulgated its foreign 
policy in this document, pointing out that the ultimate goal of the Great Patriotic 
War of the Soviet people was not only the liberation of the Soviet Union from 
the fascist German invaders but also the provision of assistance to European 
nations enslaved by fascism in restoring their national freedom and independence. 

Mobilization of citizens eligible for military service in the 14 military districts 
was one of the first practical steps taken by the Communist Party and Soviet 
government at the start of the war. Martial law was declared in the nation’s 
western regions. All of the government functions in organizing defense, main¬ 
taining public order, and ensuring national security were turned over to the 
military councils of the fronts, armies, and military districts, and to the com¬ 
mand elements of large military units where no military councils existed. Local 
government authorities, establishments, and enterprises were required to 
cooperate fully with the military command in organizing defense. A partisan 
movement was developed in the enemy’s rear, and partisan groups were orga¬ 
nized for diversionary and reconnaissance work. 


*\AUCP(b) Vvsoyazjwcya Konvnurusncheskaya partiya (bd'shevikov) 'All-Union Communist Party 
(of Bolsheviks) '—U S. Ed ] 

Svvet Nurodnykh Komissarov Council of People's Commissars' -U S Ed | 


15 


t. 





T 


T 


Government and military control bodies were reorganized and new military 
leadership organs were created. During the war years the AUCP(b) Central Com¬ 
mittee, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, and the USSR SNK ear¬ 
ned out all of the work in strengthening the nation’s defense and directing military 
operations through the State Defense Committee and the Supreme High Com¬ 
mand General Headquarters, which were extraordinary organs created at the 
start of the war. 

Soviet industry, agriculture, transport, finance, and the urban and rural work 
forces were mobilized during the first days of the war. The nation's food reserves 
were mobilized. Industrial goods and food supplies for the population were ra¬ 
tioned. The people, factories, and material goods situated near the front were 
evacuated to the nation's interior. 

Our party carried out extremely important foreign policy measures at the start 
of the war. A Soviet-British agreement on joint operations in the war against 
Germany was signed in Moscow on 12 July 1941 at the proposal of the Soviet 
government. Soviet-American talks on deliveries of strategic raw materials and 
weapons to the USSR took place at the end of July. During that same period 
the Soviet government renewed diplomatic relations with the governments of 
Czechoslovakia and Poland in London and concluded agreements with them on 
mutual commitments in the war against Germany. 

The program for the antifascist war of liberation advanced by the Soviet Union 
inspired freedom-loving people to struggle against fascism. Pressured by the 
broad popular masses, the ruling circles of western nations subjected to Hitler’s 
aggression were forced to come together with the Soviet Union in the war against 
fascist Germany. These were the first steps in forming an anti-Hitler coalition. 

Thus, in addition to launching extensive military operations, during the first 
weeks of the war the Soviet Union was forced to carry out a broad array of 
extraordinary national measures that brought fundamental changes in the 
character and content of the nation's political, ideological, and economic life. 
All of these events and immediate measures, which centered around the military 
operations at the front between 22 June and mid-July 1941, constituted the main 
activities of the initial period of the Great Patriotic War. 

The entry of various nations into World War 11 showed that in Western Europe, 
in the Pacific, and on the Soviet-German Front there were fundamentally new 
features in the initial period of this war. In character and content, this period 
differed sharply from the initial periods of past wars. A widespread tendency 
developed to shift the preparatory measures for decisive engagements by the 
main forces from the initial period of war to the prewar period and to arrange 
for these engagements to be fought at the start of the war. Typical of a number 
of nations was their entry into armed conflict with a declaration \>t war and their 


16 





use of an entire system of concealment measures to ensure the secrecy of mobiliz¬ 
ing. concentrating, and deploying their armed forces. 


In the wars between capitalist nations, as pointed out above, the aggressors 
as a rule achieved their primary goals and sometimes their ultimate goals in 
the first operations. This was not so in the initial period of the Soviet Union’s 
Great Patriotic War. Although the aggressor did achieve important operational- 
strategic results during this period, the advantages gained by the enemy from 
its surprise attack did not have the paralyzing effects on the Soviet-German Front 
that were achieved on the other fronts of World War 11. The Hitlerite command 
was not able to achieve the immediate goals of the Barbarossa plan. The Soviet 
Army’s main forces were not demoralized or destroyed in the initial operations, 
and the enemy was not given the possibility to advance unhindered to the na¬ 
tion's most important political and economic centers. This was the result of the 
heroic and determined resistance offered by Soviet forces, the unprecedented 
courage and selflessness of the Soviet people, and the great guiding and organiz¬ 
ing force of the Communist Party. 

The authors' collective of this book saw its main task— 1 2 3 * 5 6 * 8 ased on the investiga¬ 
tion and summary of data on the entry of the major capitalist nations and the 
Soviet Union into World War 11—in examining the more complex problems from 
the initial period of armed confrontations and in disclosing general trends in 
the preparation and conduct of initial operations, trends which were characteristic 
of World War 11 and have not lost their importance today. 

Notes 


1. Pra\da. 12 July 1971. 

2. V I Lenin, Polnoye sobraniye soehineniy [Complete Collected Works), XLIX, 369 [Hereafter 
cited as Lenin—U S. Ed.l 

3. Voyenno-islortcheskiy zhumal [Journal of Military History). 1966, No. 6, pp. 4, 6. [Hereafter 
cited as Journal of Military History— U S Ed.) 

4 Charles de Gaulle. Voyennyye memuary [War Memoirs) (Moscow; Izdatel'stvo inostrannoy 
literatury. 1957). I, 34. [Hereafter cited as de Gaulle—U.S Ed ] 

5. See S. Hayashi, Yaponskaya arnuxa v voyennykh deystviyakh na Tikhom okeane [The Japanese 
Army in Military Operations in the Pacific Ocean) (Moscow; Voyemzdat. 1964), pp 51-53. 
[Hereafter cited as Hayashi. The Japanese Armx in the Pacific—\J ,S. Ed.) 

6. See Vto ray a mirovaya voyna 1939-1945 gg. Voyenno-istoricheskiy ocherk [World War II 
1939-1945: A Military History Outline) (Moscow: Voyemzdat, 1958). pp. 136-137. [Hereafter 
cited as World War H Outline— U.S. Ed ); Istoriya Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny Sovetskogo 
Soyuza 1941-1945 [The History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945) 
(Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1963), II, 9. (Hereafter cited as Great Patriotic War— U.S Ed.) 

7 50 let Velikoy Okiyabr skoy sotsialisticheskoy revolyutsii. Tezisy TsK KPSS [The 50th Anniversary 
of the Great October Socialist Revolution: CPSU Central Committee Theses) (Moscow: Politiz- 
dat, 1967), p 19. 

8. See Porazheniye germanskogo imperializma \o vtoroy mirovoy voyne. Stat 7 i dokumenry ]The 
Defeat of German Imperialism in World War II: Articles and Documents) (Moscow: Voveniz- 
dat, I960), pp. 200-206 


17 




9 See World War II Outline, p 196. 

10 Isioriya Kommunisticheskoy portii Sovetskogo Soyuza [The History of the Communist Parry 
of the Soviet Unionl (Moscow: Polittzdat, 1970), V, Bk. 1, p 202. (Hereafter cited as CPSU 
History— U S. Ed.] 

11 See Great Patriotic War , U, 47. 


PART I: THE FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT 
OF VIEWS ON THE INITIAL PERIOD OF 
WAR FROM THE NINETEENTH CEN¬ 
TURY UNTIL THE 1940s 


Chapter 1. Entry Into War in the Nineteenth Cen¬ 
tury and at the Start of the Twentieth 
Century 


An examination ot past wars shows that during all historical eras the nations 
that have tried to achieve political goais by force of arms have closely linked 
victory in war with the most careful preparations for entry into war and with 
the concealed mobilization and deployment of their armed forces to defeat the 
enemy in the first engagements by the advantages of surprise attack. During 
a deterioration of international relations, nations threatened by the danger of 
an armed attack took measures to avoid lagging behind their enemies in prepar¬ 
ing to enter into war (in carrying out mobilization, deploying armies, and so 
forth) and to avoid letting themselves be caught unprepared. The desire of the 
belligerents to preempt their enemies in mobilizing and deploying troops, thus 
minimizing the time betu'een the decision to start war and the commitment of 
the main forces to the first engagements, has been apparent aspermanent trend 
in history. This can be observed not only in wars of the distant past, but also 
in wars that we have witnessed. 

1. Specific Features of Entry Into War After the Rise and 
Development of Mass Armies (Late Eighteenth to I .ate Nine¬ 
teenth Centuries) 

The rise and development of mass armies, the start of which goes back to 
French bourgeois revolution of 1789, gave rise to complex sociopolitical, 
economic, and purely military problems in supporting such armies in peacetime, 
in preparing them to enter into war, and, finally, in employing them during war 

The deployment of mass armies recruited under universal military conscrip 
tion was a great sociopolitical problem for the ruling classes of the bourgeois 
and aristocratic-monarchic nations. The weapons that they were forced to issue 
to the representatives of the exploited classes- precisely those who made up 
the mass armies—were a source of constant anxiety for those with control over 

19 




their ow n fate This forced governments to show particular concern to prevent 
the people front using their weapons against the existing sociopolitical system. 

The maintenance and. especially, the combat employment of mass armies 
presented the bourgeois and aristocratic-monarchic nations with acute economic 
problems To divert a large part of an adult population from productive labor 
and to allocate a considerable part of a national budget, even in peacetime, to 
support and outfit a mass army imposed a heavy burden on a nation’s economy. 
The ruling classes and their governments tried to solve these problems by in¬ 
creasing the taxation of the population and setting definite limits on the size 
of their armies in times of peace. But since the nineteenth century was extremely 
rich in major and minor wars, these measures were often shelved because the 
support and combat use of mass armies required more and more national 
expenditures. 

Finally, from the moment of declaring war. nations in the first half of the 
nineteenth century were confronted with difficult military problems, among 
which, of primary importance, were the mobilization, strategic concentration, 
and deployment of troops on selected axes. The essence of these problems was 
ultimately a problem of time. The very act of declaring war required the most 
rapid possible mobilization, deployment of armies, and movement of forces to 
the regions of coming military operations. At the same time, in this period any 
movement of troops and the materiel allocated to them (weapons, provisions, 
ammunition, and so forth) rested on the muscle power of men and horses. For 
this reason the pace of the mobilization and concentration of armies in theaters 
of operations was extremely slow. The gap between the start of mobilization 
and the first engagements of the main forces was very great. For example, in 
1800. in the war with Italy, Napoleon took nearly 4 months to organize, arm, 
and supply with provisions and ammunition a reserve army and move it from 
southern France into Italy. 

The most rapid rates in executing a march to new theaters of war were achieved 
bv Russian troops under the command of A. V. Suvorov. In the June campaign 
ot 1779 in Italy, Russian troops moved 400 km in 12 days at an average rate 
of .13 to 34 km a day. For those times that was the maximum speed for moving 
troops on foot over great distances. 

A fundamental change in the speed of mobilization and the rate of moving 
troops took place in the second half of the nineteenth century with the rapid 
development of industry, particularly of metallurgy and transport, when railroads 
were used for the first time for the strategic concentration and deployment of 
armies. At the start of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, Prussia, using 
the railroads, was able to move an army of 400,000 men 550 km in 11 days 
at a speed of 50 km a day. The Prussians were far ahead of the French army 
in readying their main forces for the start of military operations and made a 
powerful attack precisely at a time when the French army had not yet been able 




to complete its strategic deployment This made it possible lor the Prussian arms 
to achieve a major success at the start <>f the war 

Because of the further growth of industry and the railroads, by the end oi 
the 1890s Germany and France were able to transport armies ot 5(H).uni men 
over great distances in a shorter time than was required in 1870 to its ve i single 
corps of 30.000 men. 1 In the late 1890s the development of industry and pai 
Ocularly of transport created real conditions for a sharp reduction in the time 
between declaring war and stalling active operations by the main foices. 
“Because of the influence of railroads and careful preparations for war." noted 
the well-known Russian military theorist Leyer. “the preparatory period is now 
much shorter, wars may break out more suddenly. and the first attacks will be' 
marked by a more decisive character." 2 

In studying the influence of industrial progress on the character and methods 
of waging war, many military researchers recognized that nations moving toward 
armed aggression acquired new capabilities to preempt their enemies in mobiliz 
ing and deploying their armies and also, especially, in making the first attack 
at a moment when least expected. 

The idea of a preemptive attack was widespread in Germany. German military 
thought held that Germany, in having a sufficiently modern mobilization system 
and developed industry, could achieve victory even over a stronger enemy dur 
ing initial operations or brief campaigns. 

Russian military thought held a different view. None of the Russian military 
theorists was inclined to underestimate the importance of the role of initial 
engagements in the course and outcome of a war. They clearly considered that 
preempting an enemy in deploying one's main forces was a decisive guarantee 
if not of a rapid victory, then, in any event, of the possibility of avoiding a 
severe defeat at the start of war. At the same time, they noted that with the 
introduction of the new mobilization system—compulsory military 
conscription—initial operations, even of an expanded scope and intensity , could 
not determine the outcome of a war. although they would exert a serious in¬ 
fluence on its course. At present, war is confronted with goals that are enor¬ 
mous in scope, said Ieyer, and to achieve them the fate of nations and peoples 
is put at risk. The side defeated in the first engagements still cannot be con¬ 
sidered conquered. It has an opportunity to alter the unfavorable situation by 
additional mobilizations and the commitment of major new forces to battle. When 
a nation mobilizes ail its forces, a war will inevitably assume an extremely fierce 
and extended character. 3 

The new possibilities created by industrial progress for preemptive opera 
tions in preparing and unleashing war gave rise to the fear that an enemy could 
penetrate an opposing nation’s territory more rapidly and deeply than ever before 
This danger forced many military theorists to take another look at the problems 


of the combat use of covering forces. In the first half of the nineteenth century 
these forces (usually the cavalry), in comparatively small numbers, were posi¬ 
tioned along the borders on threatened axes and carried out passive missions 
to cover the mobilization and deployment of the main forces. Later, the advisabil¬ 
ity was recognized of creating large mobile detachments (for example, cavalry 
formations numbering up to 1,000 men with artillery) that would be able to make 
diversionary attacks in the enemy rear to disrupt and even thwart the deploy¬ 
ment of the enemy army—that is, to carry out active combat missions. 

Thus, after the rise and development of mass armies, particularly in the second 
half of the nineteenth century, and because of the growth of industry, especially 
the development of the railroads, hostile nations gained genuine possibilities 
to substantially reduce the time required to mobilize, deploy, and concentrate 
their armies and. thus, to commit their main forces to action more rapidly than 
before. As the Franco-Prussian War showed, these new developments accorded 
precisely with the persistent desire of belligerent nations to preempt an enemy 
by carrying out such measures in order to achieve strategic successes at the start 
of military operations. 

The possibilities engendered by technical progress of shortening the time re¬ 
quired to make preparations inevitably led to a reduction in the time between 
the declaration of war and its actual start. Looking at wars in the nineteenth 
century, this period consisted mostly of preparations (mobilization deployment, 
concentration of troops, and so forth), but even then a tendency could be seen 
to begin military operations in this interval and to bring the moment of a general 
meeting of the main forces closer to the start of the war. 


2. Methods of Entry Into War From the Experience of the 
Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 was the first major war of the age of 
imperialism in which. in the definition of V. I. Lenin, decrepit aristocratic- 
monarchic Russia and voting Japanese imperialism met. 

This war is instructive because of the unique strategic deployment of both 
sides' main forces and of the combat operations from the moment of the war's 
outbreak until the general engagement at Liaoyang. 

The character of the events that developed at the start of the Russo-Japanese 
War was determined to a great degree by the immediate strategic goals that the 
belligerents had set for themselves. The plan of the Russian command was quite 
clearly formulated by the commander in chief of the Manchurian Army, 
Kuropatkin. in a report to the tsar. "Our most important task at the start of 
the war," he wrote, "should be the concentration of our forces. To achieve 
this task, we should not spare any. .. strategic considerations, bearing in mind 





that the main point is not to permit the enemy to achieve victory over our scat¬ 
tered forces. Only after sufficiently strengthening and preparing ourselves for 
the offensive can we go over to it. having provided for success as much as 
possible.” 4 

In Kuropatkin’s opinion, the Russian army could begin decisive offensive 
operations to expel the Japanese from Manchuria and Korea and to land assault 
forces in Japan not sooner than 6 months after the declaration of mobilization. 
To gain time and to ensure the concentration and deployment of its ground forces, 
the Russian command directed the Pacific Squadron to win supremacy in the 
Yellow Sea at the start of the war and to impede the landing of Japanese assault 
forces on the coast of the Asian continent. 

In planning the war, Japan set active offensive missions for itself. It counted 
on Russia’s clearly insufficient readiness for the war, the relatively small number 
of Russian forces in the Far East, and the impossibility of rapidly increasing 
their number because of the low capacity of the Trans-Siberian railroad. To 
freely transfer forces to the Asian continent and preempt the Russian army in 
strategic deployment, the Japanese command, like the Russian, resolved to win 
sea supremacy. With this in mind, the attack on the Russian navy was to come 
as a surprise, without a declaration of war. 

Thus, both sides set for themselves the immediate strategic goal of winning 
sea supremacy and securing unobstructed deployment of the main forces of their 
armies in the Manchurian theater of operations. 

On the night of 9 January 1904 the Japanese command succeeded in making 
a surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Squadron, which, ignoring security 
measures, was anchored in the outer harbor at Port Arthur. Although this at¬ 
tack caused a severe loss to the Russian navy, it still did not produce the results 
that the Japanese command was counting on. For 2 months the Japanese navy 
was forced to conduct continuous attacks against the Russian squadron, which 
securely covered the approaches to the Liaotung Peninsula. Not until 13 April, 
after the loss of the battleship Petropavlovsk with the squadron commander. 
Admiral Makarov, who was on board, did the Russian ships retreat to Port Arthur 
and take shelter in the harbor. From this moment the Japanese navy seized com¬ 
plete sea supremacy. 

A specific feature of the strategic concentration and deployment of the Japanese 
army on the continent was that, initially, forces were landed only in Korea, 
since the approaches to the Kwantung Peninsula were b'ocked by the Russian 
navy. Not until May, 3 months after the start of the war, were the Japanese 
able to begin landing their main forces on the Kwantung coast. Despite the 
passivity of the Russian command, which in fact did not impede the enemy's 
landing operations, the concentration of Japanese forces on the continent con¬ 
tinued for over 4 months. Their advance to the main Russian pos'tions at 


23 



Liaoyang and their deployment before the general engagement took another 6 
weeks. Such slowness in the concentration and deployment of the Japanese forces 
was explained by the complexity of the theater of operations, which was an im¬ 
passable forested mountain range, as well as by the inability of Japanese recon¬ 
naissance to supply its command with reliable information on the enemy and 
its movements. As a result, the command acted extremely indecisively, con¬ 
stantly fearing surprise flank attacks by the Russian forces. An important factor 
that diverted the attention of the Japanese command from accomplishing its chief 
mission of closing quickly with the main forces of the Russian army was the 
desire to seize Port Arthur. For one reason or another, the Russian army gained 
these 6 months to prepare for the general engagement, which Kuropatkin was 
counting on. 

How were these 6 months used by the Russian command'.’ 

By the start of the war Russia had an army of around 100,000 men in the 
Far East. These forces were scattered over the enormous expanses of the 
Maritime. Amur, and Transbaykal areas. In Manchuria itself there were 27 bat¬ 
talions, 22 squadrons, and 44 artillery pieces, and at this time these forces were 
being reorganized. The two-battalion regiments were being converted into three- 
battalion ones. 5 It was difficult to concentrate the available forces in a region 
of coming combat operations because of the limited number of roads and the 
remoteness of many garrisons from the only railroad (a distance of up to 600 km). 

The movement of forces from the central regions of Russia was even more 
complicated. The capacity of the single-track Trans-Siberian mainline during 
the first months of the war was three pairs of trains per day. The trains from 
the European part of Russia to the Far East took 6 weeks. For this reason the 
supply of forces to Manchuria during the first 6 months of the war did not ex¬ 
ceed 20,000 men per month. This also explains why Kuropatkin, in trying to 
preserve his forces for the general engagement, did not assign active missions 
to the forward units deployed around Yingkou (the southern detachment of 2° 000 
men) and on the Yalu River (the eastern detachment of 20,000 men). All the 
battles and engagements that took place from the coast to the approaches to 
I.iaoyang he saw as "rearguard” and “feint” maneuvers conducted to gain time. 

The 6-month delaying actions of the forward units of the Russian army did, 
of course, play a role. By mid-August, when the Japanese forces had set out 
for Liaoyang, and by the start of the first major operations between the main 
forces of both sides, the Russian command had been able to concentrate around 
160,000 men and 592 guns in this area. The Japanese command had 125,000 
men and 484 guns. 

Thus, the Russo-Japanese War showed that the main content of its initial period 
was the mobilization, concentration, and deployment of the main forces of the 
belligerents for entering a general engagement. At the same time, in contrast 



to past wars, the initial period til the Russo-Japanese War from the first days 
included intense combat operations at sea, and then on land. And the war itself 
was started without a formal declaration by a surprise attack by the Japanese 
navy against the Russian Pacific Squadron. 

The specific features of the theater of operations, the character of the strategic 
decisions made by both sides, and the methods of achieving set goals were behind 
the war’s rather long initial period. While the Russian command was consciously 
trying to put off a general engagement, hoping to gain as much time as possible 
to concentrate and deploy its army, the Japanese command had no such inten¬ 
tion. Possessing the strategic initiative, it had an opportunity to defeat the Russian 
army at the start of the war, but because of its slowness and extreme caution, 
it was unable to do so. 

In starting the war. the governments of Russia and Japan did not expect that 
an enormous economic effort or the organization of the mass production of 
military equipment and weapons would be required. The demands of the war 
exceeded the size of the mobilization reserves on which both belligerents were 
counting. Russia could not withstand such stress, while Japan handled it only 
because of economic and military aid from the U.S. and England. 

The experience and lessons of the Russo-Japanese War attracted close atten¬ 
tion not only in Russia but elsewhere as well. This information was carefully 
studied and used by general staffs in preparing for the approaching world war. 

3. Problems of Entry Into War on the Eve of World War I 

In the last decade before the w'ar the problems faced by nations entering into 
war inevitably evoked great interest among military leaders and theorists. Ger¬ 
many. France, and Russia were particularly concerned with the study of these 
problems. In these countries, military doctrines were gradually developed that, 
in one way or another, reflected the established views on the initial period of war. 

German military doctrine, filled with the ideas of an aggressive offensive war, 
rested on the theoretical heritage of Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke, who 
had been the chief of the Prussian general staff from 1857 to 1888. At the start 
of the twentieth century, von Moltke’s ideas were accepted and developed by 
his successor as chief of the general staff, Schlieffen, who, like his predecessor, 
was a supporter of offensive strategy. But while von Moltke considered it im¬ 
possible to think of a rapid war in an armed clash among the great European 
powers, with their enormous, well-equipped armies, Schlieffen adhered to a 
different view. In his opinion, although Germany was encircled by economically 
strong nations, it could break out of this ring and emerge the victor in the strug¬ 
gle to win a dominant position in Europe and throughout the world by conduct¬ 
ing sequential blitzkrieg wars with each of its enemies. 


Schlieffen’s views were widely reflected in the works of German military 
researchers, and ultimately in the war plan itself. These views were expressed 
most starkly in the work Modem Warfare by the German military theorist 
Friedrich von Bemhardi. 

In von Bemhardi’s opinion, Germany could achieve victory over potentially 
stronger enemies only by defeating them consecutively in the shortest time, “like 
lightning." Proceeding from this main idea, he attached special importance to 
the first (initial) period of the war. The success or failure of combat operations 
during this time, in his opinion, had a decisive influence on the entire war. 

In his arguments von Bemhardi considered that the major nations of Europe 
were steadily increasing the size of their armed forces and were trying 
to keep their best and most dependable forces ready in peacetime for mobili¬ 
zation and strategic deployment should war break out. Even during deployment, 
von Bemhardi felt, major engagements could occur. To emerge victorious, he 
concluded, mobilization and deployment had to be conducted rapidly and in an 
organized manner, always striving to carry out in peacetime the maximum possi¬ 
ble preparatory measures. 

From his arguments von Bemhardi concluded that after the completion of 
strategic deployment not a single minute must be lost. The enemy must be at¬ 
tacked and stunned by the force of the initial strike, its plans and calculations 
confused, thus deciding the outcome of the initial operations in one’s favor. 
If the first armed clash led to one side’s defeat, he argued, then it would have 
to seek salvation by gaining time to build up new forces. But these forces might 
not be available, having been depleted by the first mobilization. Then, the first 
armed clash, he concluded, would have determined the outcome of the entire war. 

Von Bemhardi’s ideas reflected the thoughts and aspirations of the German 
military elite and its masters, the German industrialists and financial magnates. 
They also reflected the official view of the German general staff and its new 
chief, Helmuth von Moltke [a nephew of Field Marshal von Moltke—U.S. Ed.]. 

The younger von Moltke, an open supporter of Schlieffen’s ideas, proposed 
that in the first stage of war the main forces should be concentrated on the 
Western Front against France, the chief and most dangerous enemy. It was 
thought that the defeat of France would be achieved in one operation (in 6 weeks) 
by making a powerful surprise attack through neutral Belgium with the subse¬ 
quent deep envelopment of the major forces of the French army. Only after 
the defeat of France was it planned to turn the main forces against Russia. 

The principal flaw in the German war plan was that it did not reflect the real 
balance of forces between Gi rmany and its enemies. It was constructed on an 
exaggerated notion of the strength and capabilities of the German army, and 


26 


on a clear underestimation of the forces and capabilities of its enemies. The 
adventurist nature of this plan was confirmed by the course of the war. 

French military doctrine differed greatly from the German, although at its 
basis it also had an offensive character. According to M. V. Frunze, it differed 
from German doctrine “in a feeling of uncertainty in its own forces, the absence 
of broad offensive plans, the inability to boldly seek a solution to combat, and 
in the desire to impose its will on the enemy ithout considering the will of 
the latter.’’ 6 

In the prewar years the most varied views were advanced in France on the 
probable character of a future war and the methods of starting it. French military 
theory on the whole was marked by a general tendency toward a passive wait- 
and-see strategy that gave the initiative to the enemy, and by a desire to elaborate 
at the start of war a plan of operations that would be universal—that is, ap¬ 
plicable to the conditions created by any variation of the enemy’s operations. 

A distinguishing feature of the French war plans, right up to Plan No. 17, 
with which France entered the war, was that the final decision on the choice 
of the direction of the main attack was not to be made until the enemy’s inten¬ 
tions had been fully exposed. This determined in advance the plan for the strategic 
deployment of the French armies proposed by General Bonnal, the author of 
Strategic Plan No. 14. Since Bonnal excluded the possibility of a German at¬ 
tack through neutral Belgium, or in any event considered it improbable, he pro¬ 
posed that the main mass of forces be concentrated on the Alsatian axis, to the 
south of Verdun, feeling that the main German forces would be deployed on 
this axis. He also proposed that the forces be deployed in three echelons: the 
forward army would be deployed along the border as the first echelon; behind 
it would be three armies of the second echelon; further back in the rear would 
come the reserve army. This plan of deployment provided, in his opinion, the 
possibility of responding flexibly to any variation of the enemy's operations. 

Bonnal’s views were sharply criticized by a colonel on the French general 
staff, Grandmaison, who was a protege of General Joffre, chief of the general 
staff from 1911 through 1914. Grandmaison was a proponent of an uncondi¬ 
tional offensive on a previously selected axis from the start of war. According 
to Grandmaison, at the start of war, without waiting for the completion of con¬ 
centration, the forward formations and the main forces following behind them 
must immediately go over to the offensive to impose their will on the enemy 
However, it must be noted that Grandmaison's views were not actually reflected 
in the official strategic concept of the general staff and its war plans. 

The military figure and theorist F. Foch exerted a great influence on the for 
mation of French military doctrine. From 1907 through 1911 he held the post 
of chief of the military academy in France, and at the end of World War I headed 
the command of the joint Anglo-French forces. Foch was a supporter of an 


27 


offensive strategy, but at the same time he decisively rejected the Grandmaison 
strategy of ‘' an offensive no matter what the cost. ’ ’ The defense, in Foch ’ s view, 
was as natural a type of combat operation as the offense 

Foch, like Schlieffen. considered it possible to achieve the ultimate political 
goals of a war in a brief campaign. He attached particular importance to the 
first engagements of the main forces, which, he felt, would play the decisive 
role in a future war. Preparations for the initial operations, the elaboration of 
their strategies, and all round suppof Foch asserted, should make up the core 
of the war plan. 

Foch. like Joffre and the other representatives of the French general staff, 
had little confidence in the possibility of a German offensive through Belgium. 
He assumed that for France the main theater of operations would be Alsace and 
Lorraine. But such a seemingly clear strategic design was intertwined with Foch’s 
arguments against Bonnal's ideas and, in particular, against the desire not to 
make a final decision on the axis of the main attack until the enemy’s intentions 
were fully determined. 

Joffre also adhered to these views in working out the final, seventeenth varia¬ 
tion of the war plan. Planning the strategic deployment of the French army and 
its initial operations, and desiring to preempt Germany in its strategic deploy¬ 
ment, he proposed first to fully determine Germany’s intentions, and then, in 
accord with the enemy's plan, to select the most effective axis for the main attack. 

Thus, the basic concept of French Plan No. 17, like the plans preceding it, 
remained the idea of a defensive offensive, which was, in essence, a wait-and- 
see strategy without the desire of seizing the strategic initiative. 

On the eve of World War I Russian military doctrine was filled with a spirit 
of offensive strategy. At the same time, in military theoretical works by Rus¬ 
sian military researchers, and in the war plans worked out by the Russian general 
staff, there was the notion that Russia would inevitably be late in deploying its 
armed forces and would not be able to begin the war with a strategic offensive 
because of its economic backwardness, poorly developed railroad network, am 
vast territory. For this reason, the army, in its war plans for the initial period, 
intended to resort temporarily to a strategic defense before the full completion 
of its strategic concentration and deployment. These ideas were put forth and 
substantiated by many Russian military scholars and leaders, and in particular 
by Professor A. Neznamov of the Nikolayevsk General Staff Academy. In 1909 
he published his work Defensive Warfare, which reflected not only the view 
of the author himself and of a large group of military writers, but also, to a 
great degree, reflected the official view of the general staff. 

A. Neznamov recognized the natural desire to make a war as short as possi¬ 
ble. 7 An armed clash between the nations with developed economies and dense 


28 


▼ 


railroad networks, he asserted, "would take place during the time closest to 
the start of the war and near the border itself, since both sides would be ready 
simultaneously for such a clash * Fvaeh side would naturally try to the 

utmost to make use of its preparedness to deal a decisive defeat to the enemy. 
But. the author noted, there were a number of nations that were quite rich, but 
had a vast territory, a very long land border, and a diverse population (of course, 
he had Russia in mind), and these nations were deprived by their very size of 
the possibility of completing the mobilization and transportation of their forces 
to strategic deployment points as rapidly as smaller nations with a homogeneous 
population. "Thus, they are temporarily unprepared to start decisive opera¬ 
tions immediately: they are still unable to put into motion all that they desire 
and can do. and for the present they must delay a decision by gaining time.” 9 
For precisely this reason, he said, at the start of a war these nations are tem¬ 
porarily forced to assume a defensive strategy in order to go over later to decisive 
offensive operations under more favorable conditions. Thus, Neznamov con¬ 
cluded. the ultimate goal of the defense is completely the same as that of the 
offensive— victory over the enemy in a decisive clash—but the immediate task 
of the defense is to delay the outcome until a favorable time. 10 

As for the methods of conducting the initial defensive operations, Neznamov 
was in favor of a flexible, active, and fluid defense. He felt that until the defend¬ 
ing side could achieve the necessary favorable conditions for a decisive engage¬ 
ment, it should not allow the enemy to impose this engagement on it. In avoiding 
this, and in grinding down the enemy by rearguard action, individual 
engagements and attacks against enemy flanks and lines of communications, 
and by sacrificing territory, one should work persistently to alter the balance 
of forces. In truth, the author stipulated that such a method of conducting a 
defense is available only to a nation with a large territory. But. he stressed, 
the nation that has vast expanses has a limit in maneuvering over territory, and 
this limit must be set by the defensive plan. The defending side should deter 
mine ahead of time at what point in the defensive battles it is advisable to begin 
the general engagement It must also decide whether favorable conditions have 
developed for this and at what final line the engagement must be accepted under 
any conditions. "In elaborating the war plan, the deliberations about defense 
should be directed toward this decisive engagement."" 

All the versions of the plan of a future war on which the Russian general 
staff was working, including the plan worked out in 1910, were based on the 
idea of a “deployment backwards - '—the intentional abandoning of the so-called 
forward theater (the Polish salient of Osovets, Kalish. and Tomashev) and the 
shifting of the deployment line to Vilna, Belostok, Brest, Rovno, and Kamenets- 
Podolskiy. However, this was the last defensive version of the plan for entering 
the war. Soon after that it was replaced by other versions of the plan that were 
directly opposite in character. 


29 




Russia, financially dependent on its ally France was forced to conclude a 
military-political agreement with it in 1911 that obliged the tsarist government 
to undertake concomitantly with France a decisive offensive against Germany 
at the start of war. “France,” this agreement noted, "will deploy 1.5 million 
men on its northeastern front on the 10th day of mobilization. Russia will deploy 
up to 800,000 men against Germany on the 15th day of mobilization, and the 
offensive will start immediately after the 15th day." 12 This obligation was im¬ 
possible for Russia to satisfy, but France insisted on it. calculating that an im¬ 
mediate offensive by Russian forces would divert most of the German forces 
to the Eastern Front and would make it possible for the French army to suc¬ 
cessfully cany out the missions confronting it. 

The new war plan approved by the government on 1 May 1912 called for 
mounting an offensive simultaneously against both Germany and Austiia- 
Hungary on the date stipulated by the agreement. On the Russo-German Front 
the immediate goal of the offensive was the seizure of East Prussia and the oc¬ 
cupation of an advantageous position for undertaking operations on the Berlin 
axis; on the Russo-Austrian Front concentric attacks were to be made against 
the grouping of Austrian forces concentrated in Galicia in order to rout them 
and create the conditions for mounting an offensive on the Budapest and Belgrade 
axes. If it is considered that by the 15th day of mobilization Russia was able 
to concentrate only one-third of its entire army on the planned deployment lines, 15 
it becomes obvious that the plan for conducting the initial operations did not 
correspond to the country’s actual capabilities. The plan forced the Russian com¬ 
mand to begin an offensive without having completed the deployment of its main 
forces. This threatened the rapid loss of the strategic initiative and, consequently, 
the ruin of the plans of the initial operations. The first weeks of the war con¬ 
firmed this quite graphically. 

A comparison of the military doctrines of Germany, France, and Russia and 
their pla is for entering World War I reveals substantial differences among them. 
Germany had clearly articulated aggressive offensive plans supported by a strong 
economy. Although adhering to an offensive strategy, France, on entering the 
war, made its methods of army operations dependent on its enemy’s intentions 
and methods of operations. Germany and France were prepared to enter the 
initial operations with their armies already fully deployed. In an effort to seize 
the strategic initiative. Russia intended to enter the war with only part of its 
forces, without waiting for the completion of deployment. 

At the same time, there was also much in common in the strategic plans of 
the three major European nations. They ail set for themselves very decisive 
political goals and felt that combat operations from the first clashes until the 
end of the war would have an active and fluid character. These nations were 
counting on the possibility of completing the war in a short time using the 
mobilization reserves of military equipment, weapons, and ammunition that they 
had stockpiled before the war. Germany, France, and Russia all attached decisive 


Mi 


importance to the initial operations of the main forces and counted on preempt¬ 
ing their enemies, or, in any event, on not lagging behind them in conducting 
mobilization and strategic deployment. The following period of the war was 
viewed by them as a time for the singular exploitation of the initial success 
achieved in the first operations. 


4. The Experience and Lessons of the Entry Into World 
War I 

The world war that started in 1914 was much more complex than it had seemed 
to the military theorists. Many of the calculations and suppositions that had 
been thought up before the war were far from actual reality. The war brought 
the belligerents many bitter surprises and, above all, shattered their hopes of 
achieving a quick victory. 

As is well known, the formal pretext for the start of World War I was the 
murder of the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo, the capital of Serbia. 
This took place on 28 June 1914, and on 28 July, Austria-Hungary declared 
war on Serbia. In response to this, on 31 July, Russia began a general mobiliza¬ 
tion. Germany took advantage of Russia's action as an excuse for its own 
mobilization and, after accusing Russia of provoking armed conflict, declared 
war on 1 August. On 3 August, Germany declared war on Russia's ally France, 
and on 4 August, invaded Belgium. This gave England a reason (the defense 
of Belgian neutrality) to declare war on Germany. 

However, the formal declaration of war still did not mean that the nations 
could immediately begin active offensive operations on their selected strategic 
axes. A certain time was required to carry out the mobilization, deployment, 
and movement of their forces up to the lines intended in their plans for the in¬ 
itial operations. 

The nations’ preparations to enter the initial operations of World War 1 had 
their special features. One of them was that all the nations attempted to preempt 
their enemies in the strategic deployment of their main forces, thus reducing 
the time between the declaration of war and the start of decisive operations. 
Even during the prewar period they had carried out many of the preparatory 
mobilization measures that in previous wars were carried out, as a rule, after 
the declaration of war. Most of the nations in the so-called premobilization period 
(announced in Russia, Germany, France, and Austria-Hungary 5 to 6 days before 
the official declaration of war) cancelled the leaves of officer personnel, brought 
the mobilization system to readiness, carried out a partial call-up of reservists, 
brought the military supplies of their forces up to wartime levels, began the 
concealed advance of their covering forces to the border, and issued orders to 
bring their fleets, fortresses, railroads, and so forth to combat readiness. Even 
the general mobilization in Russia, Germany, France, and Austria-Hungary was 


31 



actually begun before the formal declaration of war. As a result, the time dur¬ 
ing which the mobilization, concentration, and deployment of the forces were 
carried out—the period of the war from its declaration to the start of operations 
by the main forces—was greatly shortened in comparison with previous wars. 

The mobilization of the German and French armies was completed by 5 
August, and the movement of forces to the concentration areas was completed 
by 17 August in Germany and by 19 August in France. Austria-Hungary com¬ 
pleted its mobilization by 14 August, and the concentration of its main forces 
on the Russian border by 20 August. Because of the vastness of its territory 
and its underdeveloped railroad network, Russia was much slower than the other 
nations in deploying its armies. In the border areas mobilization was completed 
on the 6th day. in the interior regions on the 8th, and in a number of areas far 
from the center, on the 21st. On the whole, the mobilization and concentration 
of the forces were carried out more rapidly than ever before. 

In World War I. even more dearly than in the Russo-Japanese War, one could 
see a tendency for the covering forces to play a more active combat role. In 
Germany, for example, the forces assigned to cover the western border during 
the general mobilization had been moved up to the Belgian border even before 
the start of the war and were to start combat operations on the day of mobiliza¬ 
tion. Their main mission was to seize advantageous positions on Belgian ter¬ 
ritory for the deployment of the main forces. On 4 August, the day after the 
declaration of war, a German detachment of 25,000 bayonets and 8.000 sabers, 
supported by 124 guns, invaded Belgian territory. Several days later, three Ger¬ 
man army corps were committed to the operation. 

The French army, which had intended to make its main attack on the Alsace 
axis, conducted a number of individual operations from 7 to 23 August, even 
before completing the concentration of its main forces, to capture mountain passes 
in the Ardennes and Vosges. The major forces of both sides were gradually 
committed to these operations, which were carried out with varying success. 

The covering forces in the Russian army also carried out active missions. 
On the eve of the war, the Russian command had formed two groups: one under 
the command of General Khan Nakhichevanskiy included 4 divisions (76 
squadrons, 48 horse-drawn guns, and 3 machine guns), and the other under the 
command of General Gurko consisted of 3 cavalry detachments and an infantry 
column (5 Cossack squadrons. 10 other squadrons, 2 infantry battalions, 15 
machine guns, and 16 artillery pieces). After invading the territory of East Prussia 
during the first days of the war, these mobile groups conducted a series of diver¬ 
sionary attacks in the enemy rear. 

The Austrian army also conducted a major diversion during the first days of 
the war. successfully carrying out the operation of seizing the Tanew forest zone. 



This was clone to capture an advantageous starting line for the subsequent of¬ 
fensive between the Bug and the Vistula. 

The German command carried out the strategic deployment of its army most 
successfully. The main forces of the German army were ready to engage in 
decisive operations before the armies of the other nations. And when its cover¬ 
ing forces invaded Belgium, these forces made a strong flank attack against the 
French army from the advantageous tines captured by them. In 2 weeks the 
German forces had inflicted a major defeat on the allied armies, and by the start 
of September had thrown them back to the Marne. 

The French command, which had deployed its armed forces at the same time 
as the Germans, lost about 3 weeks while determining the strategy of the Ger¬ 
man command and redeploying its forces to the north. As a result, the French 
army lost the border engagement. 

Trying to meet its obligations to France, the Russian command undertook 
offensive operations in East Prussia before completing the concentration and 
deployment of its forces. This led quickly to the defeat of the two armies on 
the Northwestern Front. 

The advance of Russian forces into Galicia began also before the deployment 
of the main forces on the Southwestern Front had been completed. But, since 
the Austrian forces were in an even more difficult position than the Russians, 
due to major mistakes made in their deployment, the engagement in Galicia in 
August-September 1914 ended with a victory for the Russian armies. 

After the end of the initial operations, both warring coalitions conducted a 
new series of simultaneous and sequential operations on both the Western and 
Eastern fronts However, the men and equipment required to turn the tactical 
successes into strategic ones were unavailable to either side. Even as early as 
September, on the Western Front, an unbroken static front had been established 
from the sea through Verdun to the Swiss border. In December the front in 
the east was also stabilized. 

Thus, the initial operations, which, according to the calculations on both sides, 
should have determined the outcome of the war in advance, did not bring the 
expected results. Instead of the fluid blitzkrieg war that the belligerents had 
prepared for, they found themselves fighting an extended static war that lasted 
over 4 years 

At the same time. World War 1 confirmed and strengthened the trends that 
had appeared in the wars of the nineteenth century, first, the trend toward start¬ 
ing military operations in the interval between the declaration of war and the 


commitment of the main forces to battle; and, second, the tendency for the in¬ 
itial clash of the main forces to occur earlier in the war. 

For the first time, one could also see the distinct tendency of the belligerents 
to put into effect, even before declaring war, certain preparatory measures that 
in the nineteenth century were usually carried out after the declaration of war. 
This trend was brought about by the identical desire of the belligerents to preempt 
their enemies in carrying out a number of political and military activities that 
would supposedly provide the key to victory to the side accomplishing them first. 

The character of the initial period of war continued to change under the decisive 
influence of these trends. The proportion of this period devoted to military opera¬ 
tions increased while that allotted to preparatory measures decreased. And the 
initial period assumed traits that had not existed previously. In particular, dur¬ 
ing this period the men and materiel with which the belligerents carried out 
strategic missions increased sharply in number and amount, while the combat 
activity of the forces took on a clearly dynamic character. 


Notes 

1. See I. S. Bliokh, Budushchaya voyna [Future Warfare) (St. Petersburg. 1898), II. 37. 

2. G. Leyer. Slraiegiva [Strategy] (St Petersburg. 1898), II. 96. 

3 Ibid., p 97. 

4. N. A. Levitskiy. Russko-yaponskaya voyna 1904-1905 gg. [The Russo-Japanese War 
1904-1905] (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1936). p. 71. 

5 Ibid., p. 75. 

6. M V Frunze, lzbrurmvyeprvizvedeniya [Selected Works] (Moscow: Voyenizdat. 1951), p. 146 

7. See A. Neznamov. Oboroniiel'naya voyna [Defensive Warfare] (St. Petersburg: Izdatel'stvo 
Nikolayevskoy akademii General’nogo shtaba, 1909), p. 3. 

8 Ibid. 

9 Ibid . p. 10 

10. Ibid., pp 10. 12. 

11. Ibid., p 160. 

12 Quoted in V A. Melikov, Slrategicheskoyt ruzvertyvaniye [Strategic Deployment) (Moscow: 
Voyenizdat, 1939), p. 207. 

13. See A Kolenkovskiy. Manevrennvy periodpervoy mirovoy imperialisticheskoy voyny 1914 g. 
[The Fluid Period of the Imperialist First World War 1914) (Moscow: Voyenizdat. 1940), pp 
63-64. |Hereafter cited as Kolenkovskiy—U S Ed.) 


34 



Chapter 2. The Organizational Development of 
the Armed Forces and the Develop¬ 
ment of Military Theories in the Main 
Capitalist Nations Between the Two 
World Wars 


World War I led to further intensification of the political, economic, and social 
conflicts inherent in capitalist society and caused social upheavals in a number 
of nations. The bourgeoisie was overthrown and a dictatorship of the proletariat 
established in Russia. Imperialism thus lost its influence over one-sixth of the 
planet, and capitalism ceased to be the single, all-embracing economic system 
in the world. This introduced a new factor into international relations: irrecon¬ 
cilable class conflicts between the world of capitalism and a nation of socialism. 

Along with the main conflict of the period, conflicts in the capitalist world 
itself continued to exist and intensify. The system of postwar peace treaties, 
which had redrawn the planet's political map and legalized the dominant posi¬ 
tion of the victorious nations in the capitalist world, gave birth to the idea of 
revenge by the conquered nations and soon ceased to satisfy most of the vic¬ 
torious nations themselves. 

Germany, which had recovered from its defeat in the war, persistently strove 
to restore its prewar borders, regain its lost colonies, and expand its sphere of 
influence. Japanese monopolies emerged and demanded new markets and new 
sources of raw materials. Nor was Italy satisfied with the world map as redrawn 
under the peace treaties. That nation’s ruling circles considered that Italy had 
received too little in payment for its entry into the war on the side of the Entente. 
The U.S., which had profited from World War I and occupied a leading posi¬ 
tion in the capitalist world following the war, was straining to dominate the 
world. These conflicts were especially forcefully manifested during the economic 
crisis at the end of the 1920s and start of the 1930s. “None of the capitalist 
nations is now satisfied by the old distribution of colonies and spheres of in¬ 
fluence,” the Central Committee's political report to the 16th AUCP(b) Con¬ 
gress pointed out in 1930. “They can see that the balance of power has changed 
and that they must accordingly redivide markets, sources of raw materials, 
spheres of influence, and so forth." 1 


35 




In 1933 in Germany the establishment of a fascist regime—an openly terrorist 
dictatorship of monopolistic capital's more reactionary chauvinistic circles— 
that openly proclaimed a policy of revenge and seizure of foreign territories 
led to further exacerbation of international relations and to an intense arms race. 

"Once again, just as in 1914," it was pointed out at the 17th AUCP(b) Con¬ 
gress in 1934, "parties of militant imperialism, parties of war and revenge are 
moving to the fore. 

"The situation is clearly leading to a new war.” 2 

In 1935 imperialist Japan renewed its aggressive military operations against 
China. A new source of war emerged in Central Europe in 1936, when fascist 
Germany's forces invaded the Rhineland and approached the borders of France. 

In 1935 fascist Italy undertook acts of aggression against Ethiopia, and the 
next year Germany and Italy ignited a civil war in Spain. 

The so-called Anti-Comintern Pact, directed squarely against the USSR, was 
drawn up in 1936-1937 between Germany. Italy, and Japan. 

The aggressive operations of Germany . Italy, and Japan, which had entered 
into a close military and political alliance, directly affected the interests of the 
U.S., England, and France. Instead of setting out to repel the aggression col¬ 
lectively, however, as persistently called for by the Soviet Union, the ruling 
circles of those nations took a position of noninterference, which in fact amounted 
to encouragement of the aggression and its "channelization" to the east, against 
the USSR 

Under the direct influence of the greatly intensified conflicts in the capitalist 
world, two opposing groups formed: German-ltalian-Japanese and Anglo- 
French-American. In the end. both of these imperalist groups strove to put an 
end to the land of socialism but planned to achieve this goal by different methods. 
Nations in the fascist bloc—Germany, Italy, and Japan—intended to destroy the 
Soviet Union with a military attack by their own forces; the Anglo-French- 
American coalition hoped to do this with someone else’s forces, "channeling" 
their aggression toward the east. 

The political situation that developed between the two world wars had a direct 
effect on the organizational development of the armed forces and on the develop¬ 
ment of methods of conducting the future war. 


36 


1. Principal Trends in the Organizational Development of 
the Armed Forces of the Main Capitalist Nations 

The first distinguishing feature in the organizational development of the 
armed forces of the main capitalist nations between the two world wars was 
that they were created and developed as mass armies. During this period, the 
size of the armies in most of the capitalist nations remained approximately on 
the level of the prewar months of 1914. If one takes the overall size of the ar¬ 
mies of the five powers (France, Italy. Great Britain, the U.S., and Japan), it 
was 2,408.700 men in 1914. 2.53I.OOO men in 1925, and 2,532,500 men in 
1933. J 

The desire of the bourgeois governments to maintain large armed forces in 
peacetime was explained by a number of factors. First, the acute contradictions 
between the victors and the vanquished in World War 1 and between the capitalist 
world and the Soviet socialist state could develop into a military clash at any 
moment chosen by the aggressive imperialist powers. For any unforeseen even¬ 
tuality, each nation held a strong mailed fist in combat readiness. Second, the 
peacetime army was given the role of the personnel backbone for deploying 
a large wartime army. The army had to have a sufficiently large number of 
regular officers, junior officers, and rank and file to be used after a genera) 
mobilization for the rapid deployment of forces according to wartime tables of 
organization.* Third, the peacetime army was the basic school for training 
reserves for deploying a wartime army and replenishing it during a war. World 
War I showed that the larger the peacetime armies, the greater the opportunities 
for training sizeable reserves, f 

To increase the capabilities of the peacetime army to train sizeable reserves, 
the periods of active military service were reduced. In many nations 2-year 
active service was instituted instead of 3-year. In certain nations, for example, 
in Italy, active service was reduced to 18 months, and in France to 1 year. 

Paramilitary training of reservists was developed widely through civilian train¬ 
ing facilities, various volunteer societies, and youth, military-sports, labor, and 
other organizations. In the leading capitalist countries the size of these societies 
and organizations in the 1930s greatly exceeded the number of army personnel. 


•Before World War I the peacetime divisions had, in relation to the wartime tables, ine following 
percentages of personnel: Germany -100 percent of the officers, around 70 percent of the junior 
officers, and 50 percent of the rank and file; France—76.4 percent of the officers, 54.5 percent 
of the junior officers, and 43.6 percent of the rank and file: Russia—85 percent of the officers. 
42 percent of the junior officers, and 48 percent of the rank and file (see v'oyna i voyennoxe delo 
|War and Military Affairs! (Moscow: Voyeni/dat, 1038). p 94) 

lOn the eve of World War I Russia, with a regular peacetime army of 1.36 million men, was able 
to create a trained reserve of 5 65 million: France, which maintained an army of 316,000 men, 
had created a trained reserve of 5.067,000; Germany, which possessed an army of 788,000 men, 
had accumulated4.9 million reservists, and Austria-Hungary, whose army numbered 410,000 men, 
had 3 million reservists (see Kolenkovskiy. p 26) 


37 





The police, border, sentry, and other special-purpose forces played a promi¬ 
nent role in preparing trained reserves. 


Despite the well-known Versailles limitations, paramilitary training of reserves 
was carried out particularly widely in Germany, and this was concealed. 
Throughout the country a widespread network of secret militarist volunteer 
organizations was created under the guise of various cultural and sports societies, 
militarized detachments of the fascist party, unions of war veterans, associa¬ 
tions of fellow countrymen, and so forth, in which preinduction groups under¬ 
went military training. By the time universal military conscription was introduced 
in Germany (1935) in violation of the Versailles Treaty, these organizations 
had trained around 7 million reservists. 

The organizational development of the armed forces in the leading capitalist 
nations as mass armies, along with the Inroad use of paramilitary training, made 
it possible for their governments to call to arms millions of trained reservists 
on the eve of, and during, World War II, and to field even more sizeable armed 
forces than in World War I. 

The second distinguishing feature in the organizational development of the 
armed forces was that this development was carried out during a time of inten¬ 
sified development of the air forces, motorization and mechanization of the ar¬ 
mies, and automation of their weapons. This particular feature was a result, 
on one hand, of the experience and lessons of World War 1 and, on the other, 
the gtowth of production and the major advances in all areas of science and 
technology. 

Analyzing the reasons for the collapse of the plans of the general staffs in 
World War 1 to win victory during the first rapid fluid operations, military re¬ 
searchers established that the armies of the belligerents did not have the material 
and technical prerequisites to achieve this goal. The firepower, mobility, and 
maneuverability of the armies were insufficient to make crushing attacks against 
the enemy during the first operations to further “exploit” the initial success 
as soon as possible. At the same time, the victory of the Entente over Germany 
in the final stage of the war, in the opinion of many researchers, was achieved 
because of the superiority of the French, English, and American forces in the 
quantity and quality of military equipment and weapons, particularly aviation 
and tanks. The theorists and practical specialists in military affairs became con¬ 
vinced that, in a future war, the way to successfully accomplish missions dur¬ 
ing the initial operations lay in equipping the forces with the maximum amount 
of military equipment and weapons, primarily with tanks and aviation, which 
were capable of sharply increasing the firepower, maneuverability, and mobility 
of the armies. 

Scientific and technological progress, as well as the increased economic 
resources of the major capitalist powers, made it possible to develop new, more 


38 





advanced models of military equipment and weapons and to organize their mass 
production. 


The development of aviation technology and the change in the role of the 
air forces. Aircraft performance between 1918 and 1939 improved substantially. 
During this period the operational ceiling of fighter aircraft increased from 7,000 
to 11,000 m, of single-engine bombers from 5,500 to 9,000 m, and of twin- 
engine bombers from 4,000 to 9,000 m. The maximum speeds also increased: 
for fighters, from 220 to 570 km per hour, and for single-engine bombers, from 
180 to 450 km per hour. Aircraft armament became much more powerful. There 
was an increase in the number and caliber of machine guns, and small-caliber 
cannon began to be installed on aircraft. Bombers could take off with high- 
explosive bombs weighing 1,000 to 2,000 kg. All of this sharply increased air¬ 
craft combat capabilities. Air forces were changed from an auxiliary arm in 
World War I into an independent service of the armed forces. 

The motorization and mechanization of the ground forces. In the organiza¬ 
tional development of the ground forces in the major capitalist nations the main 
efforts were aimed at improving such “parameters" as mobility and 
maneuverability. This was achieved by widely introducing vehicles of various 
types and purposes at the unit level. In mechanizing the ground forces the general 
approach was to develop tanks capable of rapidly breaking through static defenses 
and using the breakthrough for a rapid offensive to great depth. 

Great attention was devoted to developing tracked, half-track, and wheeled 
vehicles for combat, support, and auxiliary purposes, including self-propelled 
guns, mineclearing tanks, flamethrower tanks, armored vehicles, personnel car¬ 
riers, tractors, and so forth. 

At the same time that the armies were being equipped with large numbers 
of combat vehicles, there was a rapid motorization of the combat arms. In the 
developed capitalist nations combat and transport vehicles replaced the horse 
to a great extent for combat and transportation needs and provided the condi¬ 
tions for creating the mobile formations that would play the decisive role on 
the battlefields. 

Conventional artillery weapons also underwent substantial changes. The basic 
trends in their development consisted in the automation of all types of weapons, 
an increase in the mass of fire and its destructive force, and in the development 
of an effective weapon to combat tanks and aircraft. Troops began to be armed 
with large quantities of rapid-fire antiaircraft and antitank artillery of various 
calibers, and with field artillery of much greater range, rate of fire, and mobility. 
The proportion of mortars rose noticeably. 

Along with the growth of the air forces and the equipping of the ground forces 
with improved materiel, the quantitative and qualitative growth of the navies 


39 


T 


T 


was continued. The major sea powers spared no etfort in the modernization 
of ships of all classes, attempting to build ships that were best adapted to the 
conditions of sea warfare. The basic trends in ship modernization included an 
increase in their seaworthiness and speed, an increase in range, a higher rate 
of fire for naval ordnance, an increase in the power and armor-piercing ability 
of projectiles, an improvement in torpedo armament, and so forth. By the start 
of World War II speed had increased, in comparison with 1914, by 35 percent 
for battleships. 33 to 35 percent for light cruisers, 20 percent for destroyer 
leaders, 21 percent for destroyers, and 20 percent for submarines. Range had 
increased by 122 percent for battleships, 155 percent for light cruisers, 71 per¬ 
cent for destroyer leaders, 57 percent for destroyers, and 150 to 233 percent 
for submarines. 4 The major sea powers, particularly Japan, attached great im¬ 
portance to developing a new class of aircraft carriers. During the last years 
before the war all the major navies of the world were devoting attention to the 
development of locating devices using ultrashortwaves above water and ultra¬ 
sound below. 

The quantitative and qualitative growth of the navies substantially increased 
their combat capabilities. Because of the increase in range, the greater firepower, 
the heavy antiaircraft cover, and particularly the appearance of aircraft carriers 
and carrier-based aviation, the navies acquired great range and the ability to 
operate for an extended time far from base, to penetrate the most remote areas 
of the ocean expanses, and to conduct independent naval operations. 

The character and the specific features of the organizational development of 
the armed forces between the two world wars did much to determine in ad¬ 
vance the development of the military theories of the bourgeois nations and the 
elaboration of the forms and methods of combat employment of the various serv¬ 
ices and combat arms of the armed forces. 

2. Theories of Small Professional Armies 

Most bourgeois military theorists, looking at World War I. more or less 
accurately judged the role of tanks and aviation on the future battlefields, 
assuming that they would greatly increase the capability of armies to conduct 
operations to great depth at high rates. However, many military theorists in the 
capitalist nations, under the influence of sociopolitical factors, were captivated 
by the idea of “technieism." They propagated erroneous ideas on the possi¬ 
bility of achieving victory in a future war using small but well-equipped profes¬ 
sional armies. It seemed to them that such armies, staffed with personnel reliable 
in class terms, could deal a decisive defeat to an enemy even in the initial opera¬ 
tions. which meant achieving the goal planned but not attained in the past war. 
These ideas were embodied in the theories of independent aerial warfare, 
mechanized and tank warfare, and so forth. 


40 




The theory of aerial warfare was worked out by the Italian general Giulio 
Douhet. The basic ideas of his theory were set forth in his works Air Supremacy 

and The War of 19 _. The essence of Douhet’s views was that the air 

force would be the decisive weapon of war. Its primary mission would be to 
win air supremacy. After accomplishing this mission and after developing ex¬ 
tensive offensive operations against the enemy’s vital centers, the air force, 
Douhet asserted, would so suppress the enemy’s ability to resist that the further 
conduct of the war would become impossible and the country would surrender. 

The English general John Fuller was a proponent of mechanized war. In 1922 
he published a book titled Tanks in the Great War of 1914-1918. The basic 
thesis of this book was the assertion that the Entente had won the war because 
of its tanks. The main conclusion the author drew from the war was that the 
decisive role in a future war would be played not by mass armies but by small, 
professional, mechanized armies. "... I believe in mechanical warfare, that is, 
in an army which is equipped with machines and which will require few per- 
sonnel....’’ wrote Fuller. 5 In another place he formulated his idea even more 
clearly: " .. The ideal army to strive to create will consist not of an armed 
nation, but of a single person, and not a person with excessive training, but 
simply one able to push a button or remove a plug and thus activate the machines 
invented by the finest minds of science in peacetime.’’ 4 

It is easy to see that both the theory of aerial warfare and the theory of 
mechanized warfare had a fundamental flaw. The authors were clearly trying 
to carry out the demand made by the imperialist bourgeoisie—to free it from 
politically unreliable mass armies, without which victory on the battlefield was 
impossible to achieve, as World War I had shown. These theories were also 
not supported by military technology. They overestimated the combat capabilities 
of aviation and tanks and underestimated the other types of combat equipment 
and weapons. Finally, they suffered from being divorced from reality: they were 
constructed without considering the financial and economic strain that would 
be required to create and maintain the air and mechanized forces and that would 
be beyond the capacity of even the developed nations. For this reason these 
theories were rejected as unsound. The armies of the leading capitalist nations 
were organized and developed as mass armies. 

But in the works of Douhet and Fuller there were ideas that, to a certain degree, 
accurately depicted the objective processes taking place in the development of 
military affairs. Among these one could put. for example, the notion of the grow¬ 
ing role of aviation and mobile forces in warfare, their massed use on decisive 
axes, and the growing role of the initial operations in a future war. These ideas 
were recognized in a number of nations and had a marked influence on the 
organizational development of the armed forces and the formation of military 
doctrines. 


41 



3. Theories of Total War and Blitzkrieg 


The theories of total war and blitzkrieg were adopted by the bloc of aggressive 
imperialist nations (Germany, Italy, and Japan). These theories were most fully 
embodied in the military strategy of fascist Germany. 

One of the creators of the theory of total war was the prominent ideologist 
of German militarism, General Ludendorff. In 1935 he published the book Total 
War , in which he set forth his “philosophy” of war. Total war, according to 
Ludendorff, was a merciless war for annihilation. It was conducted with a max¬ 
imum exertion of all the material and spiritual forces of a nation, using not only 
the armed forces but all accessible means and methods of political, economic, 
and psychological warfare. In a total war, Ludendorff felt, there could be political 
betrayal and fierce terror against the population of the enemy nation, including 
its partial or even complete destruction. 

Ludendorff did not deny that total war would possibly be long and stubborn, 
but for Germany this could mean defeat, he said, since its economy could not 
withstand an extended strain. Nor was Ludendorff confident that the maximum 
exertion of the material and spiritual capabilities of the nation would be within 
the power of the broad masses of the German people. The lessons of World 
War I were a reminder that a limit could be reached in the patience and en¬ 
durance of the people. And to avoid such a turn of events, Ludendorff recom¬ 
mended to the military command that total war be completed as quickly as possi¬ 
ble, so that its outcome would not be jeopardized by economic difficulties and 
a loss of unity in the people. In such a way in Ludendorff s reasoning did the 
theories of total war and blitzkrieg come together. 

The essence of the blitzkrieg theory, according to Ludendorff, consisted in 
using from the start of war such factors as a surprise attack with superior forces 
and equipment to deal a decisive defeat to the first strategic echelon of troops 
(the covering army), and then to develop a rapid offensive into the interior of 
the nation to complete the enemy’s defeat before it was able to mobilize and 
use its potential military and economic capabilities. 

Like Schlieffen and the younger von Moltke, Ludendorff felt that Germany 
must avoid a war fought simultaneously on two fronts. The point of his military 
and political recommendations came down to dividing Germany’s probable 
enemies and putting them in opposition to one another or neutralizing one of 
them for a certain time, thus providing for the defeat of each enemy one by 
one. Ludendorff also assumed a situation where Germany would have to fight 
on two fronts. For this eventuality he called for a maximum concentration of 
forces against the main enemy in a decisive sector of the chosen battle front 
to deal a decisive defeat to the enemy in this sector as quickly as possible; then 
would come a shift of the main effort to the other front to defeat the new enemy. 


42 


Ludendorff attached great importance to seizing the strategic initiative “Only 
the side that seizes the initiative can achieve victory," he wrote. 7 One of the 
conditions for seizing the initiative was a surprise attack without a declaration 
of war. “A war should never begin with its declaration," 8 said this archmilitarist, 
referring to the examples of the Japanese-Chinese, Russo-Japanese, and Boer 
wars at the start of the twentieth century. 

With the rise to power of fascism and the restoration of the German general 
staff, the group of so-called young general staff officers, such as Leeb. Beck, 
Guderian, Lutz, Ehrfurt, and others, took an active part in examining the prob¬ 
lems of a future war and its initial operations. They took over the Ludendorff 
heritage and used it widely to work out plans of aggressive warfare. 

By the start of World War II the German general staff had worked out a well- 
defined system of views on the methods of unleashing and conducting an ag¬ 
gressive war. It saw a path toward achieving the goals of war through a sur¬ 
prise attack on the enemy and a massed attack against it at the start. The crushing 
might of the attack was to shake the enemy armed forces to their foundation 
during the first hours and days of the war, disorganize the enemy’s government 
and military control, thwart mobilization, and thus determine ahead of time a 
favorable outcome of the war. 

In making the first attack the decisive role was given to the air force and the 
tank forces. The air force was to win air supremacy and paralyze the enemy 
rear by heavy bombing attacks. The tank forces, relying on air support, were 
to quickly break through enemy defenses and tear the front to shreds, and then, 
together with the motorized, airborne, and infantry formations, destroy the enemy 
forces in rapid and fluid operations. In making the first attack preference was 
given to encircling operations as the most decisive method of defeating the enemy. 

To achieve surprise in the first attack the German general staff carefully 
planned and then carried out in the prewar period such measures as mobiliza¬ 
tion, concentration, and deployment of its forces. Thus, it intentionally eliminated 
from the initial period of the war certain measures that in previous wars had 
usually been carried out after the declaration of war. 

By mobilizing, concentrating, and deploying its forces in the prewar period, 
the aggressor, at the start of the war, was able to set as the immediate strategic 
goal the defeat of the enemy's main forces. This virtually nullified traditional 
notions on the content of military operations during the first operations. 

Before World War U the views of the military and political leadership of fascist 
Italy on the character and methods of starting and waging war did not differ 
fundamentally from German views. They were based on the ideas of total war 
and blitzkrieg. However, the ruling fascist clique in Italy took up these ideas 
only after the Nazis had come to power in Germany and had concluded a close 




military-political alliance with Italy. Before this, the views on military theory 
in Italy were characterized by ■'offshoots’’ ranging from active, offensive doc¬ 
trines like the Douhet doctrine to purely defensive ideas. 

The decisive strategic concepts borrowed by the fascist military and political 
leadership of Italy from Hitlerite Germany were in dear contradiction to the 
limited military and economic capabilities of the nation. 

The theories of total war and blitzkrieg lay at the heart of the views on military 
theory of the Japanese militarists and the military plans of imperialist Japan. 
In this nation recognition was given to the entire range of methods and pro¬ 
cedures for starting and waging war according to the formulas of these theories. 
Imperialist Japan, like fascist Germany, placed its main hope on achieving vic¬ 
tory by dividing its enemies and defeating them one by one, and on such methods 
of waging war as a surprise attack on the enemy, a decisive massing of forces 
for the first attack, and so forth. Imperialist Japan, like fascist Germany, in¬ 
tended to shift its mobilization measures and the deployment of its armed forces 
from the initial period of the war to the prewar period. 

The theories of total war and blitzkrieg were taken up by the nations of the 
aggressive bloc with good reason. They were worked out under the direct orders 
of the ruling circles of these nations, who had as their goal the violent reparti- 
tioning of the world. They entailed an enormous danger. The methods of start¬ 
ing and waging a war stemming from these theories, and the methods of bar¬ 
baric physical and moral pressure on the troops and population of the nations 
subject to attack, could have, and in fact did have, tragic consequences for scores 
of millions of people. 

4. Theories of War of Attrition 

The military doctrines and the concepts of military theory in the capitalist 
nations (France, England, Poland, the U S., and others) opposing the fascist 
bloc, although differing from one another, were characterized by one common 
feature: they all proceeded from the theory of a war of attrition. By this they 
differed sharply from the military doctrines and the concepts of military theory 
in the aggressor nations. 

The theory of a war of attrition rested on the notion that a future war would 
be an extended war between coalitions requiring enormous economic, moral, 
and, particularly, military effort from the participants. Victory in a future war 
would be won—and this was the main thesis of the theory—by the side that could 
withstand this effort. The English and French ruling circles were convinced that 
since the military-economic advantage would belong to the Anglo-French coali¬ 
tion and its potential ally, the U S , victory in a war would ultimately go to 
this coalition It was reasoned that the outcome of the war would be determined 


44 



somewhere in its final stage because of the economic and moral exhaustion ot 
the enemy under the crushing attacks of the Anglo-French American coalition's 

increasingly powerful armies. 

The theory and ensuing strategy of a war of attrition included a direct political 
calculation by the ruling circles of England, France, and the U S. to force 
Germany and Japan into an armed conflict with the USSR It was assumed that 
in this conflict the USSR, Germany, and Japan would so exhaust one another 
that the Anglo-French-American coalition, after entering the war in the final 
stage, would win a decisive victory and establish a dominant position for itself 
in the world. 

The theory and strategy of a war of attrition carried the clear imprint of the 
uncritically accepted experience of World War I. In the official military views 
that prevailed, for example, in France, the model of a future war was viewed 
as almost an exact copy of the past war with its immobile, static forms of con¬ 
ducting combat operations designed to achieve victory over an enemy that had 
already depleted its military and economic potential. 

The conservative-minded upper clique of the French military caste virtually 
overlooked the heated discussions that developed in the 1920s and 1930s on 
the pages of the military press about the trends in the development of military 
affairs and the new views on the character of a future war as a fluid war entail¬ 
ing deep operations of enormous scope and the massed use of aviation and tanks. 
As General de Gaulle wrote, "The military leaders were growing decrepit at 
their posts, remaining adherents of obsolete views that at one time had brought 
them glory.” 9 

Looking at the past war and taking into account the increased firepower and 
improved engineer obstacles, French military leaders asserted that in the future 
the static forms of combat typical in the past war would find even wider ap- 
plication. For this reason the armies were confronted inevitably with the mis¬ 
sion of breaking through a solid, fortified front. It seemed to them that the 
decisive role in achieving this goal, as before, would be played by infantry sup¬ 
ported by artillery, heavy tanks, and aviation. The aviation and tanks, in their 
opinion, would play not a main but an auxiliary role. It was felt that if two million 
French soldiers with the required number of machine guns could be stationed 
along the 250-mile border provided with pillboxes, then the French forces would 
be able to check the German army for 3 years. 

The views of French military theorists on the probable character of events 
at the start of the war also corresponded to the prevailing concepts ot military 
theory in France Thus, one ot them. F. Kuhltnann, the author ot the major 
work Strategy, which to a great degree reflected the official view, asserted that 
at the start of a war only the part of the armed forces that had been prepared 
in peacetime would be committed, while the mam forces would |oin the army 


ii (he field ;is mdusiry was reorganized to meet war needs. On this basis 
Mihlniai.il (.(included that the gap between the start ot the war and the first 
a\ isivc I'peiuli. iis In the mam tones would he increased manyfold in com- 
, aii.-. >n With picv lolls u.iis."' 

I Kuhlmann attached primary importance to the prompt and safe strategic 
deployment ot the main mass ot the armed forces. From this came his great 
attention to the problems ot prov iding cover lor their strategic deployment. He 
tele that the combat activity of the covering forces would make up the basic 
content of the fust peiiod of a future war. Only after the army had been con¬ 
centrated and deployed on the initial defensive lines, he asserted, would it be 
, lossihle to think ot creating an offensive grouping as called for by the war plan. 

But other \ icw s were advanced in the French press of those years. For exam¬ 
ple, the Fiench theorist General Alleo felt that to ensure the strategic deploy¬ 
ment. it was essential even in peacetime to have a covering army ready for opera- 
iions, leav mg at the disposal of the high command a reserve of highly mobile 
mechanized and light assault formations. Ihe mission of the reserve, after the 
advancing enemy Ibices were stopped by the covering army, was to enter into 
outlie, to shilt (onthat operations to enemy territory, and there to capture the 
itaicgic points and lines lor the conduct of operations by the main forces. 

be Gaulle held a firm view on the creation ot a strong maneuverable army 
, ven m peacetime. In the book For a Professional Army, which appeared in 
Id.U. he wrote, “We cannot . . . hope that poorly assembled and poorly equip¬ 
ped forces occupy mg hurriedly created defensive lines will be able to repel the 
ntst attack An army made up of a mass of reservists and inductees makes up 
die basic element of national defense, but this army requires a great deal of 
lime lot concentration and engagement. The time has come when, alongside 
this army, there must be a close-knit, wed-trained maneuverable army able to 
.jc t without delay, that is, an army that ts in constant readiness 

However, these advanced views, which were rather widespread in the French 
army. were not accepted by official French doctrine. This doctrine rested firmly 
oil the position of a passive wait-and-see strategy and was directed toward a 
-tatic war. I he French political and military leaders were convinced that France, 
in the event of war. would mobilize the maximum possible number of divisions 
and. taking cover behind the Maginot Line and the Belgian fortifications that 
wete an extension of it, “would hold the enemy in check, until, exhausted by 
the blockade, it collapsed under the pressure of the free world ” 12 

I his concept, with minor changes, underlay the plans with which France 
entered World War 11. 

Ihe ruling circles in Fngland also intcndcu to hold to a passive wait-and-see 
strategy m a k.tuie w.,i However, m the Fngli.sh version ot this strategy there 


was a special feature. The people in power in England did not intend to create 
a large land army. They felt that on land the conduct of combat operations would 
be undertaken by France and other allies. It was assumed that in an extended 
war England's partners would exhaust the human and material resources of Ger¬ 
many and its allies, enabling England to make a last attack against the enemy 
with a well-equipped army in the final stage of the war. "It must not be thought," 
said Churchill, "that very many people will be needed for this. . .. The rebel¬ 
ling indigenous population, for whom weapons must be supplied, will provide 
the basic mass of manpower for the liberation drive” 13 

The passive wait-and-see strategy at the start of the war was also the official 
military credo in the United States. The U.S. leaders felt that they should not 
hurry in entering the war. Such a view was cultivated in the U.S. not only on 
the eve of World War II, but also during its early months. Thus, on 26 June 
1940, after the surrender of France, a commission under the U.S. joint chiefs 
of staff declared, . As long as a choice remains for us, we should avoid 
a clash.. ..” 14 

The idea of a wait-and-see strategy was expressed by Senator H. Truman with 
inimitable cynicism on 24 June 1941, after the attack by fascist Germany on 
the USSR. He stated, “If we see that Germany is winning, then we must help 
Russia, but if Russia is winning, then we must help Germany, and thus, let them 
kill as many as possible. .. . ” 15 

The strategy of bourgeois Poland, this dependent vassal ally of France and 
England, also was of a defensive wait-and-see character. In truth, the chief of 
the general staff of the Polish army, General Sikorskiy, was a supporter of an 
offensive strategy. However, he did not find it necessary to go over to offen¬ 
sive operations in the initial period of the war, feeling that combat operations 
on both sides during this period would have a delaying and defensive character. 
The belligerent nations would still be carrying out preparatory measures: 
mobilization, deployment of forces, and so forth. But in contrast to the French 
military leaders, Sikorskiy assumed that “strategic waiting cannot continue after 
all the forces are mobilized and their concentration is completed.’’ 16 The enemy, 
he asserted, by exploiting any delay of an offensive, could so fortify the defen¬ 
sive front that it would have to be gnawed through, as in the war of 1914-1918, 
a situation that would be fraught with numerous complications, including revolu¬ 
tionary outbreaks For this reason, Sikorskiy argued, "in a future war, in all 
probability, there will be an effort to reduce its initial, exclusively defensive 
period in order to go over as rapidly as possible to a decisive offensive and 
accelerate operations of decisive importance. A defense, even one relying on 
modem permanent fortifications, cannot continue too long.” 17 The Polish war 
plan was organized along Sikorskiy’s views. 

Thus, neither France, England, the U.S., nor particularly Poland, in work¬ 
ing out the plans of a future war, sought to seize the strategic initiative at its 


47 




start. They proposed to limit themselves during this period to the conduct of 
purely static warfare in the theaters of operations. 

5. Theories of Naval Warfare 

On the eve of World War II the principal sea powers were England, the U.S., 
and Japan, among whom there was an intense struggle for supremacy on the 
world’s oceans. 

English naval doctrine was based on the theory of sea supremacy formulated 
in the past century by the English admiral Colomb. To achieve sea supremacy 
it was considered necessary to defeat the enemy's line naval forces in a general 
engagement and to establish a strict blockade of the enemy fleet. 

The English admiralty and naval theorists advocated concentrating their main 
naval forces in the Atlantic, for they considered fascist Germany to be their 
major naval enemy. According to their war plan, in the event of an outbreak 
of armed conflict in Europe, the English navy was prepared to protect and for¬ 
tify its sea lines of communications in the Atlantic, to destroy or seal off the 
German fleet, and to interdict the sea communications of Germany with the out¬ 
side world. Only a small part of their naval forces was to be assigned to the 
Pacific before the defeat of Germany, and in the event of war with Japan, was 
to go over temporarily to a strategic defense. 

In naval strategy the English government adhered to its traditional policy of 
"letting someone else's forces do the fighting.” It tried to entrust the chief role 
in defending its Far Eastern possessions to the U S. England made available 
its main naval base in the Pacific, Singapore, for basing the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 
The English armed forces were merely to give aid to the U.S. navy in holding 
England's Far Eastern possessions, 

U.S. naval doctrine was in many ways similar to the English. It was based 
on the idea of winning sea supremacy. Because of its geographic position, the 
U S. did not fear invasion of its territory by foreign troops. At the same time, 
the expansionist aspirations of U.S. ruling circles pushed the nation into the 
greatest possible development of its navy, which, as was felt in the U.S., was 
the country's first line of defense, its basic weapon in war, and its ultimate 
resource in international policy. 18 

The official U.S. views on waging war at sea were based on the theory of 
sea power formulated at the end of the nineteenth century by the American ad¬ 
miral Mahan. The leading principles of the Mahan theory were the creation of 
superiority in naval forces over a probable enemy before the start of operations 
followed by a surprise attack against the enemy. The joint chiefs of staff assumed 
that in the event of war the U.S. would not be able to take a direct part in it 

4X 


.L 


T 


for a long time. It would use this period to conceal the buildup of its naval forces 
to make a decisive surprise attack against the enemy at the necessary time on 
a previously selected axis, or, in other words, to defeat the enemy in one general 
engagement at sea. 

Looking at the prospects of a future war with Japan, American military 
specialists felt that land armies in this war would play a secondary role. “Land 
operations between us and Japan will mostly consist in defending our posses¬ 
sions and seizing the enemy’s under the cover of the navy; the latter operations 
will be possible only after the preliminary naval operations to clear the sea of 
enemy ships.” 19 

Thus, on the eve of World War II, the naval doctrines of England and the 
U.S. recognized the battleship as the decisive force in the struggle to win sea 
supremacy, while the chief method for attaining victory over a naval foe was 
to defeat him in a general engagement. The English and American naval theories 
in fact overlooked the appearance of such a powerful branch of arms as carrier- 
based aviation. In truth, in England and the U.S. aircraft carriers were built 
during the prewar years, but their role in future naval engagements was 
underestimated. 

Before the war most of the military theorists and leaders in England and the 
U.S. also underestimated the role of the submarine fleet in a future war. The 
high effectiveness of submarine operations on sea lines of communications dur¬ 
ing World War I did not attract the necessary attention of English and American 
naval specialists. As a result, not only the submarine fleet but also the antisub¬ 
marine defenses of England and the U.S. were not properly developed. 

For a long time—until the start of 1941—the naval strategy of imperialist Japan 
was of a defensive character, since the advantage in naval forces was on the 
side of Japan's enemies. However, the concept of a strategic defense did not 
conform to the aggressive political goals of the Japanese ruling circles: to secure 
for themselves a monopolistic right to dominance in Southeast Asia and the coun¬ 
tries of the South Seas. The Japanese political and military leaders were fully 
aware that to gain possession of this right, Japan would sooner or later be forced 
to enter a mortal encounter with its American and English competitors. There 
was a continuous naval arms race between Japan and its enemies. 

By early 1941 serious changes had taken place in the views of the Japanese 
political and military leadership under the influence of the successes of fascist 
German forces in Europe, and because of such factors as the diversion of the 
English and American fleets into the Atlantic and the growth of Japan’s own 
economic capabilities. All of this made possible an acceleration in the construc¬ 
tion of the fleet. The strategic concept designed for conducting solely defensive 
operations gave way to an active, offensive naval strategy. 


49 





In forming these new views the Japanese command considered that a prob¬ 
able future armed conflict would be a long and stubborn war of enormous scale. 
Japan realized that it would have to fight simultaneously against the naval forces 
of three strong sea powers, England, the U.S., and Holland. In the estimate 
of Japanese military leaders, the U.S. was the number one enemy. In an ex¬ 
tended war, the Japanese militarists reasoned, the outcome for Japan would be 
favorable only if the Japanese army and navy could be sufficiently supplied with 
strategic raw materials, and in particular, oil. The Japanese ruling circles con¬ 
cluded that Japan should preempt its enemies in starting the war, and, after seizing 
the strategic initiative, occupy the mineral-rich regions of Southeast Asia and 
the South Seas as quickly as possible. 

As set forth by Admiral Yamamoto, the central idea of Japan’s new offensive 
naval strategy consisted in attacking the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor with 
a powerful surprise attack by carrier fleet forces in order to destroy or damage 
it to such an extent that it would be unable to recover for at least 3 or 4 months. 
According to the assumptions of the Japanese military leadership, once the main 
obstacle in their path, the U.S. fleet, was eliminated, such a period would be 
sufficient to capture the countries of Southeast Asia and the South Seas with 
blitzkrieg operations. 

Thus, Japan’s offensive naval strategy embodied much that had been elaborated 
by military thought in the West, especially in Germany, including the idea of 
blitzkrieg, surprise attack, .the massing of forces on decisive axes, and the assign¬ 
ing of decisive importance to the first attack. These ideas underlay the plan for 
Japan’s entry into the war. 

Fascist Germany, although not belonging among the great sea powers, never¬ 
theless was preparing seriously for war against maritime enemies. German views 
on methods of combat at sea were based on the theory of raider warfare, which 
had been developed between the two world wars by the German admirals Gross, 
Wegener, and Raeder. The goal of raider warfare, as it seemed to these ad¬ 
mirals, consisted in causing heavy damage to the English merchant fleet, 
blockading the British Isles, and forcing England to surrender. Raider warfare 
was to begin with powerful surprise attacks against the English merchant fleet 
immediately after the start of military operations. The naval forces assigned 
to conduct it were to be deployed secretly in the seas and oceans before the 
start of the war. Large surface vessels, including battleships, cruisers, and aux¬ 
iliary cruisers converted from merchant vessels, were to be the main compo¬ 
nent of these naval forces. These ships were to possess superiority in weapons 
and speed over similar enemy ships. Submarines were to be used in battle on 
lines of communications as an independent force. 

It was intended that raider warfare would be carried out mercilessly and 
rapidly. It was felt that Germany should use all its naval forces as quickly as 
possible, since military success would come only if the attack on the enemy 



lines of communications were carriei! out with complete pithiiwstvw ' 11 n. 
tests by neutral powers would be rejected. The more ruthlessly German sh.pv 
operated on lines of communications, the sooner they would achieve results un.i 
the sooner the war would end. 

Italy, as a maritime nation at the center of the Mediterranean hasm. aspu-■•■<t 
to hold a dominant position in it and turn the Mediterranean Sea into an 'It.ii- >>- 
lake.” Within its economic capabilities, it developed a navy. However, the Kasim- 
of the fleets of Italy’s main competitors. France and England, in the Mcditen.i 
nean did not allow the Italian government to create a navy that could enter into 
open combat with its opponents with any hope of success. The Italian navy w as 
basically developed along the lines of building light, high-speed ships eapahl 
of making swift attacks on enemy ships and. if necessary, quickly escaping pur 
suit. From its entry into war, the Italian navy avoided decisive dashes with the 
Anglo-French naval forces, but on 11 November 1941, it was dealt a crushing 
defeat in the port of Taranto and after that played no substantial role in the w ar 
until Italy's surrender. 

* * 

* 

The leading capitalist nations thus entered World War II with different military 
theories, strategic concepts, and doctrines of war. 

Some of the military theories, for example, the theories of an independent 
air war and of mechanized or tank wars, were clearly a result of utopian think 
ing and were disproven by reality, although they did have a certain influen- e 
on the formation of the military doctrines and strategic concepts of a numb r 
of nations. Other military theories, including the theories of total war and blitz¬ 
krieg that emerged in the aggressive nations, overemphasized the importance 
of new means and methods of conducting warfare. These theories were o! 
decisive importance for the formation of military doctrines in the aggressr 
nations. They were unscientific and ultimately failed in practical application. 
A third group of military theories, born in the capitalist nations opposing the 
aggressive bloc, were limited by the obsolete military dogmas of World Wai 
I. They recommended a passive wait-and-see defensive strategy calculated to 
exhaust the enemy. The reality o military operations repudiated these theories 
as well, although some of their concepts existed for a long time. 

The great diversity and the contradictory character of military doctrines an- f 
strategic views in the various capitalist nations that made up the opposing group 
were determined by the differences in their political aspirations, economi 
resources, and particular geographic locations. These interwoven specific feature 
had a decisive influence on the policies of these nations and. through then 
policies, on their military theories, doctrines, and strategies as well. 





Despite the great flaws in the military theories, doctrines, and strategic con¬ 
cepts prevalent in different capitalist nations, the period between the two world 
wars represented a new stage in the development of a system of measures for 
preparing to enter into war and for unleashing and conducting war. The onset 
of this stage was determined in advance bv the extensive growth of industry, 
the rapid development of science and technology, and the resulting swift prog¬ 
ress in military weaponry 

Analysis of economic, sociopolitical, and military factors led the bourgeois 
leaders to the conclusion that a future war would be fiercer and more destruc¬ 
tive than the last war and that nations unleashing a war or forced to enter into 
war because of certain circumstances would have to make use of their entire 
economic potential to achieve their political goals and would have to place large, 
well-equipped armies on the battlefields. None of them doubted that maximum 
mobilization of all of a nation's material and spiritual resources would be re¬ 
quired to achieve victory in such a war. 

The political and military leaders of the main capitalist nations derived two 
diametrically opposed conclusions from this estimation of the character of a future 
war. 

Leaders of the nations that had considerable military and economic potential 
proceeded from the assumption that, despite the employment of such new means 
of warfare as aviation and tanks, a future war would inevitably be a drawn-out 
affair, since it would be waged by coalitions; that dozens of nations, large and 
small, would be pulled into it; and that it would unfold over tremendous areas 
of the globe. As a rule, however, these leaders underestimated the increased 
role of the initial period of war and the tremendous importance of the first sur¬ 
prise massed attacks by aviation and armored forces at the start of war. At the 
same time, they overestimated the possibilities of a static defense, relying on 
a system of obstacles and fortified zones. Preparation of these nations and their 
armed forces for war was thus calculated to thwart the enemy’s offensive plans 
at the start of a war and to make it one of static warfare. It was assumed that 
maximum mobilization of all of a nation’s forces would occur after the war was 
in progress, most likely during its last stage, when favorable conditions would 
have been created to make a decisive attack against an exhausted enemy. This 
is why most of the capitalist nations entering the war against fascist Germany 
and militarist Japan were late with the strategic deployment of their armed forces 
and finished their deployment during the difficult defensive engagements of the 
war's initial period. 

leaders of the aggressive nations (Germany, Japan, and Italy), whose military 
and economic potential was not as great as the combined potential of their 
enemies, did not count on achieving victory in a drawn-out war and based the 
organizational development of their armed forces and the methods for their com¬ 
bat employment on theories of total war and blitzkrieg, in which the initial period 





was given the decisive role. The strategy called for maximum mobilization ot 
all of a nation's forces at the start of war. 

The strategic calculations of fascist Germany and the other advocates of blitz¬ 
krieg warfare were based on the use of a number of factors to achieve victory. 
Important among them were the following: the political splintering of one’s poten¬ 
tial enemies, the dual aim being to exclude the possibility of war on two fronts 
at the same time and to ensure a situation in which one’s enemies could be 
destroyed one by one; the timely and concealed preparation to attack and preempt 
the enemy in strategic deployment in order to make a surprise first attack: the 
concentration of the maximum possible number of men and quantity of equip¬ 
ment in the first strategic echelon in order to achieve total superiority over the 
enemy at the start of war; the massed employment of men and equipment 
designated for initial operations, primarily aviation and tanks, in order to create 
absolute superiority over the enemy on decisive axes; the conduct of initial opera¬ 
tions with maximum effort, at high rates, and at great depth in order to quickly 
defeat the enemy’s covering armies and to thwart the mobilization and strategic 
deployment of the enemy's armed forces; and the subjection of the nation under 
attack to decisive defeat before it could make use of its war potential. 

Thus, before the start of World War II the military and political leaders of 
the two opposing coalitions of imperialist nations, while appraising the character 
of a future war in approximately the same manner, had different views on the 
process of entering into war and on its initial period. Nations in the fascist bloc 
attached decisive importance to the initial period, carrying out such steps as 
mobilization, concentration, and strategic deployment of their forces in peacetime 
so that, after making a surprise attack against the enemy, they would be able 
to defeat its main forces during the first operations, thus determining the course 
and outcome of the war in their favor. Despite certain differences in their views 
on military theory, the political and military officials of the opposing coalition 
regarded the initial period of a future war as a time to conduct static or fluid 
defensive combat operations to cover the mobilization, concentration, and deploy 
ment of their forces. 

When the war broke out, not only the forces, but also, figuratively speaking, 
the military theories, doctrines, and strategic concepts of the opposing sides 
entered into fierce clashes. As had happended before, this war proved much 
different and far more complex than the creators of those theories, doctrines, 
and concepts had imagined. Once again, however, it confirmed the force and 
vitality of the long-existing tendency to preempt an enemy in the conduct of 
preparatory measures, to undertake military operations at the start of a war. 
and to shift decisive engagements to that period. 






Notes 


I J. Stalin. Sochineniya [Works), XII. 248. [Hereafter cited as Stalin—U S. Ed.) 

2. Ibid.. XIII, 292. 

3. See Miromya myna v tsifrakh [The World War in Figures) (Moscow: Voyenizdat. 1934), 

p. (00. 

4. See P. N. Rubtsov, Sovremetmyye vooruzhemyye sily i ikh organizatsiya. Kapitalistiches- 
kiye strany (Modern Armed Forces and Their Cganization in the Capitalist Countries) 
(Moscow: Izdatel'stvo AGSH RKKA, 1938), pp. 120-121. 

5. J. Fuller, Tanki v velikoy voyne 1914-19/8gg. [Tanks in the Great War 1914-1918) (Moscow: 
Izdatel'stvo Vysshego voyennogo redaktsionnogo soveta, 1923), p. 6. 

6. Ibid., pp. 254-255. 

7. F. Ludendorff, "Vedeniye total'noy voyny," Voyennyy xirubezhnik | "Waging Total War." 
Foreign Military Journal), 1936, No. 4, p. 0. 

8 Ibid., p 2. 

9. De Gaulle. I, 34. 

10. See F. Kuhlmann. Siralegiya [Strategy) (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1939), p. 461. 

11. De Gaulle, I, 37. 

12 Ibid , p. 35. 

13 M MatloffandE Snell, Straiegichrskoye planirovaniye v koa/itsionnov voyne 1941 -1942 gg 
[Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare 1941-19421 (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo inostrannoy 
literatury. 1955). p, 117 [Hereafter cited as Matloff and Snell—U S. Ed.) 

14. Ibid., p. 27. 

15. New York Times, 24 June 1941. 

16. V. Sikorskiy, Budushchaya voyna |Future Warfare) (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1936), p 240. 

17. Ibid. 

18 See Dcnlingcr and Gary. Voyna na Ttkhom okeane (War in the Pacificl (Moscow: Voyenn o- 
morskoye izdatel'stvo, 1939). p 17. 

19. Ibid., pp. 145-146. 


54 



Chapter 3. The Organizational Development of 
the Soviet Armed Forces and the 
Elaboration of Views in the USSR on 
the Character of Future War and Its 
Initial Period 


The organizational development of the armed forces and the formation and 
development of military science in the Soviet Union took place in a complicated 
international and domestic situation. Encircled by capitalism, the USSR faced 
the constant threat of attack by imperialist aggressors. "... We are surrounded 
by people, classes, and governments,” said V. I. Lenin, "that openly express 
great hatred for us. It should never be forgotten that we are always just a hair’s 
breadth away from some sort of invasion.” 1 This circumstance forced the Com¬ 
munist Party and the Soviet government, in addition to the attention they devoted 
to the sociopolitical restructuring of society, to display daily concern about main¬ 
taining the nation and its armed forces in readiness to repel an invasion by the 
imperialists. 

Because of the tremendous effort exerted by the Communist Party and the 
Soviet people, the prewar five year plans saw the creation of the necessary 
material and technological conditions for increasing the nation’s defensive might, 
for fundamentally reorganizing the armed forces, and for equipping them with 
advanced combat equipment and weapons. 

Along with the growth of the Soviet nation's economic strength and defense 
capability, the balance of power between socialism and capitalism changed, as 
did views on the character and methods of armed defense of the socialist state. 

V. I. Lenin’s extremely rich legacy of military theory was and continues to 
be a vital source for the development of Soviet military science 

On the basis of a profound and thorough analysis of historical experience and 
an appraisal of the probable character of future military confrontations between 
the socialist state and the capitalist world, V. 1. Lenin worked out the proletarian 
state’s military program, developed his teachings on the defense of the socialist 
Fatherland, laid the foundations for Soviet military science, and drew up prin¬ 
ciples for the organizational development of the Soviet Armed Forces. V. I. 
Lenin thus armed the party and military cadres with the essential methodological 


arsenal of knowledge to scientifically forecast the character of future wars and 
the methods of conducting them, primarily the wars that would be fought by 
the proletarian state. 

While emphasizing that “we have been defenders since 25 October 1917.” 
V I. Lenin also pointed out that the working class, as the historically ascend¬ 
ing class, would inevitably also be the class opposing the bourgeoisie. Both its 
political and military strategies would thus be offensive. 

V. I. Lenin taught us to take a creative and flexible approach in accomplishing 
the various military and political tasks facing the state, always taking into ac¬ 
count the specific situation and the actual correlation of the opposing forces. 
Acknowledging the validity of defense and retreat in military affairs, he em¬ 
phasized. ",.. He who has learned how to advance but not how to retreat in 
certain difficult situations will not emerge victorious from a war. There have 
been no wars in history that have begun and ended with a continuous victorious 
offensive; or at most, they have only occurred as exceptions.” 2 

V. 1. Lenin pointed out the need to carefully study the history and experience 
of past wars, to adopt everything of value created by bourgeois military science, 
and to make skillful use of and improve on its achievements. He wrote, 
“Everyone will agree that it is imprudent or even criminal of an army not to 
prepare itself to use all types of weapons and all methods and means of warfare 
that the enemy has or may have.” 5 

The Leninist legacy of military theory became the foundation of Soviet military 
science. The organizational development of the Soviet Armed Forces was based 
on it. 


1. Specific Features of the Organizational Development of 
the Soviet Armed Forces 

V. I. Lenin was the source of inspiration and the organizer of the Workers' 
and Peasants' Red Army and Navy, which, under his direct leadership, passed 
through their first tests in combat in the fire of the Civil War and foreign in¬ 
tervention. V. I. Lenin formulated the basic sociopolitical and organizational 
principles of Soviet military development. 

The Red Army was created as the weapon of the dictatorship of the proletariat, 
as an army of workers and peasants that would defend the gains of the Great 
October Socialist Revolution against the encroachments of domestic counter¬ 
revolution and foreign military intervention. Its organization was based on a 
close unity with all the people and was in the spirit of proletarian internationalism. 
The indoctrination of army personnel with an awareness of their great respon¬ 
sibility to the peoples of the Soviet Union and to the working class and workers 
of all nations for defending the world’s first worker-peasant state, and the 


56 


readiness of army personnel at any moment to go to the aid of their class brothers 
abroad, was always an inseparable pait of the organizational development of 
the Soviet Armed Forces 

The Red Army was organized as a professional army. The temporary devia¬ 
tion from this principle caused by economic considerations did not alter the 
general trend in military organizational development toward a regular, profes¬ 
sional army based on universal military conscription.* The Soviet Armed Forces 
were organized on the principle of strict centralization unity of command, and 
iron military discipline 

The underly ing foundation in the organizational development of the Soviet 
Armed Forces is the principle of total leadership of the armed forces by the 
Communist Party, t his was clearly formulated in December Id)8 in the RKP(b)t 
Central Committee decree "On the Policy of the War Department." This docu¬ 
ment stated that "the policy of the war department ... is carried out on the 
precise basis of the general directives issued by the party in the name of its 
Central Committee and under its immediate control." 4 

During the first years after the end of the Civil War. when the war-devastated 
national economy was being rebuilt, the organizational development of the armed 
forces rested on a narrowed military-economic base. During those years, our 
army and navy still lagged far behind those of the developed capitalist nations 
in military technology. This situation could be altered only by speeding up the 
development of heavy industry. the major foundation for general and military 
machine building. The Communist Party policy of industrializing the nation and 
collectivizing agriculture, reflected in the first (1929-1932) and second 
(1933-1938) live year plans, made it possible to transform our nation in a 
historically short time front an agrarian one into an industrial-agrarian one, and 
to strengthen its defensive might. In accord with general trends in the develop¬ 
ment of military affairs, the Communist Party laid special stress on rapid prog¬ 
ress in the aviation, tank, and engine-building industries. Under assignment of 
the AUCP(b) Central Committee, aviation designers developed and industry 
began mass production of new types of bombers (SB) and fighters (1-15, 1-16) 
that, in performance, were equal to the best foreign models. The armored forces 
also developed rapidly. In 1933 the half-track BT tank and the tracked T-26 
tank entered service. In the same year the T-28 medium tank (three-turret) and 
the T-35 heavy tank (five-turret) were developed. From the principal tank types, 
special-purpose types were developed, including bridgelaying, amphibious, 
flamethrower, and so on. This helped to increase the ground forces' fighting 
strength and battlefield mobility and maneuverability. 


•From 1924 through 1939 there was a mixed, territorial-professional system in the USSR Author's 
note 

+| RKPihi- Rassixskaya Kommunisricheskayapartivu (bol'shevikov) Russian Communist Party (of 
Bolsheviks)'—U S. Ed.| 


57 


Great advances were also made in the development of artillery weapons. All 
existing artillery was modernized, the number of howitzers was greatly increased, 
large- and small-caliber artillery was created, and antiaircraft and antitank 
weapons went into production and were soon being delivered. By the eve of 
the Great Patriotic War the Red Army had received new artillery systems. The 
number of artillery pieces in the army increased from 17,000 on 1 January 1934 
to 55,790 on 1 January 1939. 5 During these years the rate of fire of the main 
artillery systems doubled, and the range of heavy artillery increased as much 
as 20 km—an increase of 75 percent. 

Small arms underwent automation. The weight of these weapons was reduced, 
the design was simplified, and the rate of fire was increased. 

The navy was also strengthened. While during the years of the 1st Five Yeai 
Plan the main emphasis had been on the construction of light naval vessels, in 
the 2nd Five Year Plan construction of large ships was begun in order to create 
a major oceangoing fleet. From 1930 through 1939 the navy’s tonnage rose by 
130 percent. 6 

Thus, during the years of the prewar five year plans, because of the heroic 
labor of the Soviet people and the farsighted policy of the Communist Party, 
the Soviet Armed Forces were rebuilt. The Red Army and Navy were trans¬ 
formed from a technologically backward armed force into a completely modem 
one capable of reliably protecting the world’s first socialist state. 

In the prewar five year plans there were major changes in the system of man¬ 
ning the armed forces. The Red Army and Navy moved from a mixed territorial- 
professional system to a manning system based on the principle of a single pro¬ 
fessional cadre. This reorganization was caused by two main circumstances. 
First, because of the growing threat of war and the intensified development of 
massive regular armies in the main capitalist nations, and above all in fascist 
Germany, the mixed territorial-professional system could not provide reiiabie 
defense for the Soviet state. Only a regular professional army outfitted with 
first-rate military equipment and composed of well-trained personnel could suc¬ 
cessfully oppose the probable enemies. Second, while the army was being 
equipped with as much new military equipment and armament as possible, the 
old territorial-professional system could not provide its ever-changing person¬ 
nel with an adequate mastery of this equipment during brief courses. The task 
of teaching personnel to master the new military equipment could be solved 
only by an army manned with a single professional cadre and during a rela¬ 
tively extended period of active service. 

The danger of war caused a great increase in the size of the army. Over the 
five years from 1933 through 1938 the army grew from 855.000 men to 
1,513,400. 7 


58 


In the Sov iet Union's fin d pr-w a 1 'v • :r-S<>• .;i ' i re Top.-, 

organized and dc'cloned 11 Me *!v '’" '"'i'; i. ***J < Vt a ' , i .m.- «,!•. iio<un 
in Other nations. Afu.r the d teat ..t Pol imi a:td 5 rap.o the :i,r ■ ■'! van. pan'’ 
aggression against the 1 : SSR rose shirplv ! he- made iK-».e--arc n; a.nt me jsuret. 
to immediately prepare the country and the VnW •- he die approa. hi:”; 
war. A specific fcatuve of militaiv dcvGopni. ia .luieie hv>c vt«ts w.. the 
eeaicd mobilization and ueplovt.ient <■! die !•■■,. - y... „ i.e,;ie 

mechanized, and an - divisions were hcinc formed i tpi.i... Besides die 9 
mechanized corps created in 1940. at the -tart ,«j jot t jn.-th. r :»• medueved 
corps were formed. 8 Formations and units ot die High t omrianj Ret-crv e wer; 
created, and the airborne forces and National At Defense fo./es were 
strengthened. The size of the Soviet Armed Forces b> I January 194 i had riser, 
to 4,207,000 men 9 The last 6 months before the start of the war wete direct!; 
taken up with the concealed strategic deployment of 'he troops whi h w.c. to 
be the final stage of preparations to repel aggression. 

At the same time there was a further equipping arid reequipping of th<- ■ nv. 
and navy with new military equipment and weapons During thc-e years as .a 
tion designers developed new types of aircraft (the 'i ak 1. MiG 3 . l.aGG ?. 
11-2, and Pe-2) on a level with the best models of av iation technology The 
designers of Soviet tanks created the K V heavy tank and the I 34 medium urn: 
which was unsurpassed in performance There were new arnllerv weapons, in 
eluding a 76nun battalion gun. .37nmt and 85mm antiaircraft guns, a 21 Omni 
mortar, and a 305mm howitzer. During these same years Soviet rocket anil' t;. 
was born. 

The technological reconstruction of the Sov iet Armed I oivc., w as contir.iivJ 
at a great pace and on an unprecedented scale 

However, history left the Soviet Union too Jittle nine lo complete Hie pian.-ed 
program of rearming the army and navy w hile taking advantage of the expend\ e 
and lessons already learned at the start of World War II By the time i f the 

treacherous attacK oy fascist Gciiimu; agau.d USSR :: had been p.. 

to outfit the Soviet Armed Forces only partially with the new types ot military 
equipment and weapons Before the start of the wai only a lew new model- 
of aircraft had been received by formations and units in border districts. In 'he 
National Air Defense Forces the rearming of the tighter units with new high 
speed fighters had not been completed, nor had the untiaiivialt attilleiv received 
a full complement of 85ntm guns Radar equipment hail just begun to enter sci \ 
ice among the troops There were only 1.475 new tanks ( I <4 and KV) in the 
border military districts. 10 Most of the tanks on hand wue ol obsolete design 
The rifle formations, artillery, and other tin its of specijl forces had a limited 
amount of transport equipment. This sharply reduced their ability to maneuver 
The troops experienced an acute shortage of advanced communications equip 
ment, including radios, high-frequency telephone equipment, telephone and 
telegraph sets, underground and field cable, and so forth The gigantic task >t 




rearming the Armed Forces with new technology was carried out during the 
Great Patriotic War. 

2. Military Theories in the 1920s on the Probable 
Character of the Entry of Nations Into War 

The talented Soviet military leader and statesman M. V. Frunze was one of 
the first in V. I. Lenin's lifetime to work productively on a scientific forecasting 
of the probable character of a future war and the problems of preparing the 
nation and armed forces for it. M. V. Frunze's articles and speeches on a unified 
military doctrine, on the ways and means to develop the Red Army, on the front 
and rear in a future war, and on Marxist-Leninist methodology were a major 
contribution to the development of Soviet military doctrine and military theory. 

Analyzing World War I and considering the trends in the development of 
military affairs, M. V. Frunze pointed out that achieving the goals of a war 
under modern conditions had become much more complicated than before. 
Modem armies had colossal vitality. Lven the complete defeat of enemy armies 
during one stage or another of a war w ould not provide ultimate victory if the 
defeated units had an economically and morally strong home front behind them. 
For this reason, in the clash of first-rate armies in a future war, none of the 
sides would be able to achieve the goals of war in a single attack. The war would 
become an extended and fierce contest in which all the political and economic 
foundations of a nation would be tested. “In expressing this in the language 
of strategy," wrote M. V. Frunze, “this means a transition from a strategy 
of switt, decisive attacks to a strategy of attrition.” 1 -' But. he noted, this in no 
way meant that it would be necessary to completely abandon the strategy of 
swift attacks, particularly since this strategy had not been given up by the 
bourgeois nations. And precisely because the duration of a future war would 
depend greatly on morale and on political and economic factors, the advantages 
of morale in a class war would be on the side of the Soviet slate. "... The 
stronger the aggravation of class contradictions in the enemy camp, the greater 
the chances for success and the greater the advantage of precisely this strategy," 
that of the swift attack. 1 ' 

However, the Soviet government, M. V. Frunze asserted, could not rely solely 
on such a strategy . Since in a future war there would inevitably be a clash of 
two opposite social systems and the USSR would oppose the entire capitalist 
world alone, the struggle under any conditions would be a long one. 14 

It was essential, M. V. Frunze went on to note, to consider another feature 
of a future war. In it, the role of the rear would increase greatly, and at the 
same time the distinction between the front and the rear would be obliterated. 
“The transformation of aviation into a decisive branch of arms, the improve¬ 
ment in chemical weapons, the possible use of infectious microbes, and so 

6(1 



forth—all of this, in essence, upsets the very notion of the front’ and rear' 
in the old meaning of these words.” 1 ' The front, said M V. Frunze, had ceased 
to be a genuine barrier blocking an enemy's access to a country's interior. He 
thus concluded that under the new conditions the Soviet state would be con¬ 
fronted by very complicated tasks that would require different methods of prepar¬ 
ing the country for defense. 

At the same time as M. V. Frunze, and after his death, scores of Soviet 
specialists, theorists, and practical workers in military affairs were engaged in 
elaborating the problems of a future war and the methods of waging it. All of 
them, taking into consideration in one way or another the effects of technological 
progress on military affairs and the general development of views on military 
theory, converged on the notion that a future war would become a decisive dash 
between large masses of troops equipped with an enormous amount of new 
military equipment: tanks, aircraft, automatic infantry and artillery weapons, 
and so forth. The new combat equipment would give combat operations an un¬ 
precedented rapidity, an enormous scope and depth, and a highly fluid character. 
Such a view on the character of a future war quite naturally required that special 
attention be paid to its initial period, for, as many military specialists assumed, 
the initial period would ''embody" all the features of the future war 

One of the first Soviet military writers to study the problems of the initial 
period of a future war was A. A. Svechin. In studying the initial operations 
of World War I, he noted their difference from the so-called main operations 
(general engagements) characteristic of nineteenth century wars. The initial 
operations of World War I were characterized by increased complexity, dura¬ 
tion, and great scope. Each operation was a whole set of battles and engagements, 
and so required a different grouping and deployment of forces than the general 
engagement had at one time required. 

Up to the end of the nineteenth century, A. A. Svechin noted, an operation 
could be clearly divided into two parts: the maneuver, which was aimed at posi¬ 
tioning forces in the most advantageous location by the time of the decisive clash 
(the "preparatory operation," in the terminology of Leyer, including the deploy¬ 
ment and concentration of the troops); and the engagement itself (the ' main 
operation"). "At present." he wrote, "we are abandoning the division of opera¬ 
tions into main and preparatory." 16 He justified this abandonment because, as 
World War 1 had shown, operational deployment was not an independent 
maneuver, but an essential element of any operation. 

Previously, mobilization too had been incorporated in the "preparatory opera¬ 
tion," since it was a one-time phenomenon linked to preparations for the general 
engagement between the main forces. World War I showed that the character 
of mobilization had changed. It had become permanent mobilization carried out 
stage by stage over an extended period and was no longer directly linked to 
the first operations. In place of the term "preparatory operation," A. A. Svechin 


61 


introduced into usage iv.i: ;,cv. nc.gt. the "prenjobdiz.diic. pci:<-ti." which 
included '.he preparatory measut. . carried out b.:r.-r. the declaration <-« war and 
the start of general mobilization: and the 'Special pcri'V.1 of the war," which 
extended from its declaration to the start of major operations when the general 
mobilization, concentration, and deployment of the armed force* for the first 
major operations would take place \ \ Svechin called this special period 
the *nitia! period of war 

Ip. abandoning the old terminology and introducing new concepts, A. A 
Svechin took a positive step forward. But he was still strongly influenced by 
old views on military theory and for this reason did not detect the new phenomena 
in the character of the initial period that had already made headway in the armed 
conflicts of the last decades. In his mind the initial period remained as before 
the period of preparing for the main operations, and included, in essence, all 
the measures that were previously incorporated in the “preparatory operation.” 
A A. Svechin felt that at this time, as before, individual battles and engagements 
would develop, but he did not foresee the possibility that major combat opera¬ 
tions would take place during the initial period. 

The prominent Soviet military figure B. M Shaposhnikov devoted great at¬ 
tention to the problems of the entry of nations into war. In his work The Brain 
of the Army he showed the dependence of mobilization on political and strategic 
considerations, viewing it as a military phenomenon. In his opinion mobiliza¬ 
tion was directly linked to operational-strategic war plans. In World War I, B 
M. Shaposhnikov noted, the belligerents intended to conduct the war according 
to the principles of a knockout strategy. Such a strategy, “to achieve a quick, 
decisive success, required swift preparation of the largest number of combat 
forces possible, their rapid concentration (that is, the completion of mobiliza¬ 
tion measures—Ed ), and their almost simultaneous engagement." 17 B. M. 
Shaposhnikov felt that the extreme dependence of mobilization on political and 
strategic calculations would “disclose itself on the eve of a future war. Of 
course, he stated, the next war would be no shorter and less intense than the 
preceding one, and during the war governments would have to repeatedly resort 
to additional mobilizations. Nevertheless, mobilization carried out before the 
war would make the front echelon of the army strong enough to avoid being 
defeated in the initial operations. 

In drawing this conclusion B. M. Shaposhnikov proceeded on the assump¬ 
tion that the mobilization on the brink of World Wav I was in fact a declaration 
of war. For this reason a nation that had decided on mobilization should be fully 
aware that in doing so it was following the path to war. An awareness of this 
fact and of the complexity of carrying out mobilization when large armies were 
heing deployed, noted B. M. Shaposhnikov, forced nations even before World 
War I to set aside a special, preparatory', or, as it came to be called, premobiliza¬ 
tion, period, during which they sought to carry out the maximum number of 
mobilization measures (for example, in convening industry), but in a concealed 

t ? 



manner and without yet calling up inductees into the army. And on the eve of 
a future war, the author asserted, we would encounter the same premobiliza¬ 
tion period, but in this instance such a period would start much sooner, par¬ 
ticularly in economic mobilization. However, it must be expected that both sides 
would try to reduce the time of the premobilization period and would move on 
to actual mobilization of men and equipment. “In any event,” noted B. M. 
Shaposhnikov, “we will see that the steady buildup and early preparations for 
mobilization throughout a nation will be on a much greater scale than in 1914. ” 18 

B. M. Shaposhnikov clearly saw the trend in the developed nations to shift 
their mobilization measures beyond the pale of the war itself, or to put it more 
precisely, to carry them out while still in the prewar period. He clearly 
understood what was behind this trend: the desire of a nation to preempt its 
enemy in deploying its main forces. He asserted that even before a formal declara¬ 
tion of war, border conflicts could break out. “. . . In our times,” the author 
noted, “a border violation begins neither with a declaration of war, nor with 
a declaration of mobilization, but takes place much earlier because of the ac¬ 
tivities of diversionary detachments. The nations may be in an actual war before 
its formal declaration and even before the mobilization of their armed forces. 
Mobilization, possibly, will take place during hostile operations along the border, 
when the diplomats will no longer need to turn to the general staff for informa¬ 
tion to make a formal declaration of war.” 1 * 

B. M. Shaposhnikov thus disclosed two main trends in the preparations of 
nations to enter into war: the desire to carry out the maximum possible number 
of preparatory measures in the premobilization period, and the desire of the 
adversaries to enter into war before its formal declaration. 

While A. A. Svechin and B. M. Shaposhnikov focused chief attention on 
disclosing the preparations of nations to enter into war, another well-known 
military figure, V. K. Triandafillov, widely examined the problems of conduct¬ 
ing the initial operations themselves. One of his works, published in 1929, was 
titled Modem Army Operations. This work is noteworthy because it thoroughly 
analyzed the engagements of the initial period of a future war. In the foreword 
to the work, the author wrote, “. . . Judgments on the operations of a war’s 
later periods cannot be as categorical as judgments on the forms and content 
of the operational art of its initial period.” 20 

V. K. Triandafillov thoroughly analyzed the vast material that described the 
state of and prospects for the development of military equipment and weapons 
in the major capitalist nations. He disclosed the changes that had taken place 
in the views of military theorists on methods of military operations and the 
character of initial operations in a future war under the influence of more 
advanced military technology. 


The author noted that by the end of the 1920s the size of the peacetime armies 
in all the developed countries was relatively small In a sudden outbreak of war, 
each of them, encountering the need to rapidly deploy armed forces numbering 
in the many millions, would be put in a very difficult situation. But. V. K Trian- 
dafillov noted, it would be a mistake to think that a future war would be started 
with engagements between peacetime armies. "As a whole scries of postwar 
political conflicts has already shown," wrote V. K. Triandafillov. "one will 
merely have to get a whiff of military complications and the size of the peacetime 
armies will begin to move upward in leaps and bounds: without any particular 
noise the reservists will be called up and the number of authorized personnel 
will increase sharply." 21 From these facts, the author concluded that by the 
start of war. the belligerents would have under arms large forces that could enter 
into border clashes without waiting for a general mobilization. 

Looking at past wars and seeing clearly the developing trends in military af¬ 
fairs, V. K. Triandafillov stood firmly on the side of those military researchers 
who favored making deep destructive attacks against an enemy from the start 
of a war. He understood well the difficulties that the young Soviet state would 
encounter if the imperialists were to organize a new armed invasion against it: 
the Red Army of those years was short on the means to neutralize an enemy 
and to support infantry in battle, it lacked motor transport, and so forth. These 
difficulties were temporary, and they certainly had to be considered, but they 
were no reason to abandon the search for a dependable assessment of the 
character of a war’s initial period. It would be an irreparable mistake, said V. 
K. Triandafillov, to let existing difficulties in equipping the army cause it to 
fall into a sort of "operational opportunism," refusing to make active and deep 
attacks at the start of military operations and advocating tactics of inertia 
combined with brief forays. Deep and destructive initial attacks, in the author's 
opinion, were a demand of the time. They could quite rapidly knock entire 
government organs out of operation. These attacks would be the most depen¬ 
dable means to rapidly exhaust the human and material resources of the enemy 
and to create favorable conditions for sociopolitical disturbances in the enemy 
country. “The correct paths for the development of operational art,” wrote V. 
K. Triandafillov, "should lead to the full use of every opportunity to inflict 
quickly and unerringly the greatest possible number of defeats on the enemy 
with the most damaging attacks possible." 22 

V. K. Triandafdlov’s work Modem Army Operations somewhat summed up 
the first stage in the work by Soviet military theorists to elaborate the problems 
of a future war and its initial period. 

In this stage, in the 1920s, Soviet military theorists, including the prominent 
naval specialists K. I. Dushenov, A. M. Yakimychev, M. A. Petrov. I. M. Lurdi, 
and I. S. Isakov, were also concerned with the problems of using naval forces 
in a future war and in its initial period. At the time, the so-called minor war 
theory had spread in naval circles. According to this theory, it was assumed 


64 


that, in a war, brief rapid attacks would be made against the enemy by the main 
forces of the fleet ; these forces would be closely coordinated with one another 
and with the ground forces committed to battle on maritime axes. Submarines, 
aviation, torpedo boats, and coastal artillery were considered to be the main 
forces of the fleet. The naval forces were to operate without moving great 
distances away from their bases. The minor war theory provided for the con¬ 
duct of offensive and defensive operations. As one of its authors. Professor M. 
A. Petrov, said, a minor war was not only a defense in the pure form, but also 
an offense; this kind of war was both, and presupposed the conduct of battles 
and engagements at sea in accord with the enemy’s operations, "our own mis¬ 
sions," and the opportunities that presented themselves. 23 

The minor war theory was worked out according to our navy’s available forces, 
which at the time were very limited. They as yet were unable to accomplish 
strategic missions independently, although they were capable of providing ac¬ 
tive help to the ground forces in conducting operations, including the initial ones. 

The views on military theory in the 1920s on how nations would enter into 
war were formed during a difficult period in the history of the Soviet state, which 
had just emerged from the flames of the Civil War and had begun to rebuild 
the national economy. The economic potential of the nation was very limited. 
The composition and structure of the armed forces were far from the ideal of 
a future army, although this was even then quite clearly sketched out in con¬ 
cepts of military theory. This difficult period in the nation’s history and in the 
organizational development of the army left its imprint on Soviet thinking about 
military theory. The debate on the content of a war at its start thus suffered 
from a certain abstractness. Nevertheless, it basically provided a correct assess¬ 
ment of a future war and its initial period, and quite accurately disclosed the 
general trends in military affairs, using in particular the experience gained in 
the development of bourgeois military theories. In this manner it provided cor¬ 
rect guidance for military personnel in troop training and focused the attention 
of military specialists on a profound elaboration of the problems of conducting 
initial operations. 

3. Development of Views in the 1930s on the Character of 
Future War and Its Initial Period 

In the 1930s, which were characterized by an aggravation of the international 
situation and a growing arms race, there was a noticeably greater interest in 
the content of a future war and its initial period. In Soviet military literature, 
particularly in the journals War and Revolution, Military Thought, and Foreign 
Military Journal, and in the newspaper Red Star, there was a broad examina¬ 
tion of Wot Id War I and the Civil War, as well as of new trends in the views 
of bourgeois military theorists on the preparations of nations to enter war. 


65 


j 





A noteworthy feature of Soviet military theory in these years was its focus 
on working out the most complex problems of the initial period of a future war 
with an eye on the concrete demands for the armed defense of the socialist 
Fatherland. These problems were posed by life itself, by the massive motoriza¬ 
tion and mechanization of the armies, and by the greatly improved methods of 
mobilizing the armed forces. Special attention was devoted to preempting the 
enemy in strategic deployment. In formulating this problem, the focus was ac¬ 
tually on extremely important new features in the content and character of the 
initial period of war. These features were a result of equipping the armies with 
new weapons, especially aviation and tanks. 

The work of the prominent military specialist R. P. Eydeman demonstrated 
how acute was the problem of preemptive strategic deployment. In his On the 
Character of the Initial Period of War , published in 1931, he asserted that the 
initial period of a future war would be characterized by a fierce struggle on 
land and in the air for the right to deploy first. “The struggle for the right to 
deploy first is what, in our opinion, will characterize the initial stages of a future 
war.” 24 The pace of the development of military clashes, he asserted, will be 
accelerated as never before. The scope itself of the clashes will also be much 
broader, and the first hours of the war will be marked by the start of air warfare. 

Many military researchers were occupied with the problems of air warfare 
during the initial period. This was thoroughly examined in the well-known avia¬ 
tion theorist A. N. Lapchinskiy’s work The Air Force in Engagements and Opera¬ 
tions, published in 1932. In his opinion, during the initial period of war avia¬ 
tion had to accomplish three main missions: immediately after the declaration 
of war, make deep attacks against the enemy rear to thwart mobilization and 
concentration; participate in defending the country against enemy airborne 
chemical attacks and in covering the mobilization and concentration of friendly 
forces; and, finally, assist friendly forces on the battlefield. He felt that these 
missions could be carried out successfully only when air supremacy over the 
enemy had been established. The struggle for this supremacy would be started 
from the first days of the war. And all possible means would have to be employed 
in this struggle, including fighter, assault, and bomber aviation, antiaircraft ar¬ 
tillery, small arms, and, to destroy airfields or interfere with their operations, 
long-range field artillery, cavalry and motorized units, and partisan groups. In 
the initial period of war A. N. Lapchinskiy assigned a special role to bomber 
aviation, the main mission of which, in his view, was to disrupt troop traffic 
toward concentration areas, thus disrupting the enemy’s operational plans. 25 

A landmark in the development of views on the initial period of war were 
the propositions of a 1933 report by Chief of Staff of the Red Army A. I. Yegorov 
to the USSR Revolutionary Military Council. These propositions, reflecting to 
a certain degree the official view of the military leadership, very clearly posed 
and settled major problems in preparing the nation to enter war and conduct 
its initial operations. 





The basic notion from which A. 1. Yegorov started in analyzing the initial 
period of war was the assertion that in peacetime the belligerents would try as 
early and as quickly as possible, using a concealed mobilization to assemble 
the most mobile and maneuverable forces and equipment (aviation, mechanized 
units, and cavalry formations) in order to invade enemy territory at the necessary 
time and thwart the mobilization and concentration of enemy armies in border 
regions. In A. 1. Yegorov's opinion the concentration of forces would be strongly 
influenced by two main factors: the quantity and quality of the aviation on each 
side and the presence of mechanized formations combining great striking power 
and firepower with high mobility 

The question arose how each of these factors would influence the concentra¬ 
tion of the Red Army’s formations. In answering it, A. 1. Yegorov pointed out 
that enemy ground forces, on encountering the major water obstacles and for¬ 
tified areas on the western border of the USSR, would not have a substantial 
influence on the rail movements and concentration of Soviet forces. Aviation 
would represent the greatest danger. Air operations and paratrooper groups could 
actively impede troop movements to a depth of 600 to 800 km. 26 

In A. 1. Yegorov's opinion, military operations at the start of the war would 
be marked by broad scope and high intensity. The air force would assume the 
most important role. All available combat aviation (including naval and organic) 
would be used to win air supremacy, disorganize the enemy rear, thwart enemy 
mobilization and concentration, and destroy enemy naval forces. In carrying 
out these missions, heavy aviation would remain under the control of the high 
command for action against the enemy operational rear, while all remaining 
aviation would be shifted to support the ground forces. 

As for large mechanized units (in A. 1. Yegorov's report they were called 
invasion groups), they would develop an offensive on enemy territory in coopera¬ 
tion with cavalry formations and aviation supported during the first days of the 
border engagements by infantry units. These groups would attempt to destroy 
covering units and thwart mobilization in border regions to force the enemy 
to shift its deployment lines to the rear. They would also capture and hold opera¬ 
tionally important regions in the rear. “However," A. 1. Yegorov pointed out, 
“it must be considered that the invasion groups will be capable of causing only 
a series of crises or dealing a series of defeats to the covering armies, but will 
not be able to terminate the war or inflict a decisive defeat ... on the main 
forces. This is the mission of the subsequent period of operations, when the 
operational concentration will be ended.” 2 ' 

The essence of A. 1. Yegorov's concept on the problems of the initial period 
of war thus centered on the notion that nations preparing for war in peacetime 
would assemble in border regions secretly mobilized armies (invasion groups) 
that would undertake broad offensive operations. In addition, aviation would 
perform a special role Combat operations would be started in me air. on the 


67 




ground, and at sea. The mobilization and deployment of the main forces would 
be completed under the cover of these operations. 


The work Border Operations, written in the mid-1930s by the prominent 
military leader and theorist M. N. Tukhachevskiy, was marked by a broad view 
of a future war and a specific analysis of a number of key problems in its initial 
period. 2 * 

In this work the author set as his goal a disclosure of the specific features 
of initial operations, having most closely tied them to the growth of air force 
and mechanized units. M. N. Tukhachevskiy proceeded from the assumption 
that the old, customary views on the possibility of unobstructed movements of 
mass armies by railroads directly to border areas no longer conformed to ex¬ 
isting conditions. Border areas, he noted, had become too vulnerable to enemy 
aviation and mechanized forces, since, considering aircraft performance, the 
actual depth of effect of each side’s air forces at the start of a war would be 
at least 250 km. In this area aviation would bomb airfields, attack rail networks, 
and drop airborne formations to thwart mobilization, blow up railroads and 
highways, and isolate individual troop garrisons. Air attacks in combination with 
operations by mechanized forces, and, when possible, by cavalry and rifle troops 
mounted on vehicles, would create a situation that would thwart or extremely 
complicate the planned mobilization and concentration not only of the main forces 
but also of the covering troops in the border zone. Under these conditions 
mobilization and strategic concentration would be possible only with a new ar¬ 
rangement for the border engagement. Now, M. N. Tukhachevskiy asserted, 
“the border engagement will be fought not by the main forces of the army, 
as happened in previous wars, but by special units, that is. by a special forward 
army stationed in the border zone." 29 

Developing the idea of a special forward army to cover the mobilization and 
deployment of the main forces, he gave special consideration to the composi¬ 
tion of this army, the depth of its position from the border, and the character 
of its operations. 

In M. N. Tukhachevskiy’s opinion, the army would be a strong, highly 
mechanized formation and, in addition to ground forces, would also include 
large air forces not more than 150 to 200 km from the border. The mechanized 
corps of this army, even in peacetime, would be kept close to authorized levels 
and stationed 50 to 70 km from the border so as to be able to cross it on the 
first day of mobilization. The cavalry, also at wartime levels, would have to 
consolidate the success of the mechanized formations and would be positioned 
in direct proximity to the border. Infantry units mounted on vehicles would also 
be moved there, their mission being to exploit and reinforce the success of the 
mechanized forces and cavalry. The composition of the forward army would 
include self-propelled artillery During the initial operations, airborne forces 
would coordinate closely with the army . 


68 






In the author's opinion, immediately after a declaration of war or during the 
first day of mobilization, the forward armies would begin broad offensive opera¬ 
tions with an attack by bomber and assault aviation on enemy airfields and land¬ 
ing strips and on railroad and highway junctions in a zone extending 150 to 
200 km from the border. At the same time, paratroopers would be dropped in 
the enemy rear to a depth of up to 250 km to thwart mobilization and to sabotage 
railroads and highways. Invasion by mobile forces would begin simultaneously 
with the start of operations by air and airborne forces. 

If neither side could find effective measures to resist the enemy invasion, then 
the movement of troops to the border by rail would be stopped and the armies 
mobilized in the interior of the nation would have to be unloaded from their 
trains at an enormous distance from one another—up to 500 km on each side 
of the border. In the author’s estimate, the main forces of the adversaries, ad¬ 
vancing to the border during forward battles and skirmishes with airborne and 
independent detachments of enemy mobile forces, and rebuilding destroyed 
bridges and communication lines along the way, would be able to engage each 
other not earlier than 2 weeks after the start of the war. 

In that event, if one side succeeded in impeding the invasion of the enemy, 
defeating it with air forces, by the time the mobilized armies were unloaded 
from their trains, the sides would be up to 250 km apart. Then the clash of 
the main forces would take place approximately a week later, but on the ter¬ 
ritory of the nation that had suffered most from the first attacks. 

It was M. N. Tukhachevskiy's general conclusion that a border operation well 
executed by a forward army would be the best guarantee of the prompt concen¬ 
tration of the main forces and their commitment to a decisive engagement. But, 
in preparing for a war, the author pointed out, one must not underestimate the 
enemy. “It is essential not to console ourselves that our possible enemies will 
be slow in reorganizing in keeping with new demands. The enemy can reorganize 
suddenly and unexpectedly It is better for us to preempt our enemies. It is bet 
ter to make fewer mistakes than to learn from mistakes. " 31 

In the history of Soviet military thought in the 1930s no prominent military 
theorists will be encountered who in one way or another did not take up in their 
works the problems of the initial period of a future war. These problems in¬ 
evitably evoked increased interest among specialists in military affairs. 

Interesting ideas on problems of mobilization, strategic deployment, and the 
conduct of initial operations were raised in the w ork The Evolution of Opera 
tional Art by the military theorist G S Isserson He felt that, in conducting 
the mobilization and deployment of mass armies, no nation at the moment of 
the start of military operations would be able to concentrate ail its troops 
simultaneously on the battlefields bor this reason, he asserted, aviation, as the 
most mobile part of the armed forces, would begin combat operations. “The 


69 




ground enemies v\ ill net ha\e exchanged a single round when this branch of 
nims. hi the fust tiouis alter the onset of a state of war, begins its operations 
along the longest trajectory."'* The motorized formations and mechanized 
cavalry . which make up the base of the covering armies, will enter into battle 
after aviation. At this time the main mass of the frontline army under deploy¬ 
ment will still be in the grips of the complicated process of concentration. When 
this mass is also engaged, the outlines of the second strategic echelon of mobilized 
torees will take shape in the nation's interior, followed by the third, and so forth. 
Ultimately, because of "permanent mobilization,” defeat will come to the side 
mat cannot withstand the mobilization strain and runs out of reserves, its economy 
v xhausted. 

Another military theorist. Ye. A. Shilovskiy, in the article "The Initial Period 
of War." published in 193.1. wrote that instead of individual clashes in a com¬ 
paratively narrow border area, as was observed in the war of 1914-1918, in 
a future war a fierce battle "will develop during the first hours of military opera¬ 
tions , . along the front, in depth, and in the air."” The same idea was 
developed by another military affairs specialist, M. Tikhonov, in an article ti¬ 
ded Ihe Initial Period of a Modern War." Military confrontations in this 
period, the aitiele said, which previously had taken the form of border clashes 
and had not had a gteal impact oil even the mobilization of the enemy army, 
were now becoming of primary importance. “Not only the mobilization of the 
enemy army not only the course of the first operations, but even the outcome 
ol the entire vvai can depend to a certain degree on the combat operations in 
a war initial pciiod " -J 

Most of the military figures and theorists in the 1930s agreed that by the term 
initial period of war one must understand the brief segment from the declara¬ 
tion ol war to the start ol the first major operations by the main forces of both 
sides Also, it was thought that in a future war this period would be full of in¬ 
tense combat between the air forces and pteviously deployed invasion armies 
lor covering armies) in their attempt to seize the strategic initiative, support 
ihe deployment of their main torees. and thwart the deployment of the enemy’s 
main forces Achieving the immediate strategic goals at the start of the war was 
inseparably linked to the mass use of aviation and mechanized forces. Primary 
importance was attached to air operations to win air supremacy. The widespread 
ideas on the creation of well-equipped invasion armies and covering armies in 
peacetime made it possible to conclude that a large part of the preparatory 
measures for troop concentration and deployment would be shifted from the 
initial period of war to the prewar period, and that, with the outbreak of war. 
the belligerents would in fact merely complete the deployment of the main forces. 
The time required to engage the main forces in a decisive engagement would 
thus be greatly reduced, w hich nxvim that the duration of the war's initial period 
would be shortened 


?,) 


4. Formation and Further Development of Views on 
the Initial Period of War in the Final Prewar Years 

From the autumn of 1939 the views of Soviet military researchers on the 
preparations of nations to enter into war were taking shape under the immediate 
impact of the combat experience already being gained in World War II. 

The German-Polish war was the first to confirm the correctness of the posi¬ 
tions of Soviet military theory on the initial period of war. Although this was 
a war of unequal opponents, since the economic and military superiority of fascist 
Germany over Poland was overwhelming, its experience was instructive. 

This experience attracted the attention of many Soviet military theorists. 
Among them was Professor S. N. Krasil'nikov of the General Staff Academy, 
In the work The Offensive Army Operation, he formulated a number of prop¬ 
ositions on the initial period of war and its character, taking consideration of 
the German-Polish campaign. 

In his military theoretical constructs, he proceeded from the inevitability of 
new military clashes between the major nations and the likelihood that the USSR 
could be drawn into them. Using the German-Polish war, S. N. Krasil’nikov 
pointed out that the initial period of war was no longer a preparatory stage of 
war, as it had been previously. 3 ’ Now the prewar stage had become the 
preparatory stage. During this stage, which could be more or less extended, 
measures that had previously made up the basic content of the initial period 
of war were carried out. Now the initial period of war would be, as a rule, 
the period of the first intensive operations by the aviation, naval, and ground 
forces ready to engage in combat operations by the start of war. The initial period 
directly and gradually would develop into the period of main operations, and 
the distinction between these periods would be obliterated. 

Preempting the enemy in the concentration and deployment of the army’s main 
forces, S. N. Krasil’nikov noted, had now assumed much greater strategic im¬ 
portance than before 1914. At that time a delay in the concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of forces could be offset to a certain degree by the loss of a small amount 
of territory—by shifting the front for deployment and concentration back into 
the interior—since each 20 to 25 km of such withdrawal provided a gain in time 
of at least a day. Now this withdrawal no longer provided an opportunity for 
unobstructed troop deployment and concentration Motorized armies, as war 
experience had shown, were capable of crossing such enormous expanses in 
such a short period that vast territories would be lost immediately without a 
fight. Consequently, to provide the army with an opportunity to concentrate 
and deploy, it was not possible to delay an engagement at the start cf war by 
moving back the front for deployment and concentration. It was essential to 
be ready from the first minutes of war to fight the enemy in the air, on land, 


71 




and at sea tor the right to seize the operational-strategic initiative. The entire 
initial period of war would be full of fierce struggle by the belligerents for this 

right. 

In S. N. Krasil’nikov’s views on the initial period of war, the new cir¬ 
cumstances introduced by the German-Polish war were, on the whole, conceived 
correctly. However, these views showed the author's doubt about the possibil¬ 
ity in the near future of starting a war immediately with the main forces already 
fully mobilized and deployed. At the same time, the German-Polish war, and 
particularly the armed attack by fascist Germany on France, showed that the 
Hitlerite leadership was unleashing combat operations with troops that were 
mobilized, concentrated, and already deployed for the invasion. 

In December 1940 there was a conference of the Red Army leadership, and 
very great attention was devoted to studying World War II, which had already 
started. At this conference problems in conducting the initial operations in the 
European military campaigns were fully raised. 

Conference participants noted the treachery of the Hitlerite leadership, which 
discarded all standards of international law to achieve surprise in an armed at¬ 
tack. Attention was drawn to the power of the initial attacks made against the 
enemy by the fascist German army. Thus, the troop commander of the Kiev 
Special Military District, General G. K. Zhukov, stressed in his report that the 
defeat of Holland, Belgium, the English expeditionary force, and France was 
characterized primarily bv the surprise and the power of the attack. 

The conference participants also noted the fascist German army’s characteristic 
use of massed aviation and armored units in the initial operations. As General 
G. K. Zhukov said at this conference, the aviation and armored forces had essen¬ 
tially terrorized the entire Polish army and nation with their swift, deep attacks. 

A participant at the meeting, the chief of the Main Air Defense Directorate 
of the Red Army. Lieutenant General D. T. Kozlov, focused in his speech on 
the methods of winning air supremacy that the Hitlerite command had employed 
during the first days of its armed invasion of Poland and France. Fascist Ger¬ 
man aviation, he noted, made massed attacks against the enemy’s airfields, and 
in France primarily against those where the most modern aircraft were stationed. 
Using such methods, fascist German aviation won air supremacy in the first 
days of the war, providing superiority not only in numbers but also in the qual¬ 
ity of the aircraft. 

The conference showed that the Red Army leadership was f ully aware of the 
character of combat operations in the initial period of modern war and recognized 
its specific features, such as the conduct of operations by fascist Germany against 
Poland and France using armed forces mobilized in peacetime. Most of the con¬ 
ference participants, despite certain skeptical voices, firmly adhered to a view 


72 





of the initial period of war as that interval when operations employing new 
weapons assume a decisive character and the seizure of the strategic initiative 
plays the most important role. During this period powerful retaliatory attacks 
against the enemy at the start of the war, in combination with the extensive use 
of aviation and tanks, would be of decisive importance. 

These views underlay Soviet military doctrine and served as a guide for 
carrying out specific measures in preparing the country for the future war. In 
particular, under their direct influence the forces of the western border districts 
were greatly strengthened during the last prewar years. 

However, this did not mean that Soviet theory on the initial period of a future 
war was free from shortcomings. 

Although proceeding from the position that wars were no longer declared, 
but started suddenly, Soviet military thought assumed that in the war being 
prepared against the USSR the belligerents would still need a certain amount 
of time to deploy and concentrate their main forces. 

In practice, evidently, the specific features noted by theoretical thought in 
the new methods of entering into war, as employed by fascist Germany, had 
not been taken into account. It was assumed that these methods could provide 
the expected effect only in wars fought by strong nations against weak ones, 
but that in an armed struggle against strong, vigilant nations with equal or even 
greater military and economic potential, the aggressor would not be able to start 
operations suddenly and engage his main forces all at once. Marshal of the Soviet 
Union G K. Zhukov, who at the start of the Great Patriotic War was the chief 
of the General Staff, noted: 

"In reworking the operational plans in the spring of 1941. . the new methods 
of waging war in the initial period were not, in practice, fully taken into 
consideration. The People’s Commissariat of Defense and the General Staff felt 
that a war between such major powers as Germany and the USSR would start 
as previously outlined: the major forces would engage several days after the 
border engagements. In concentration and deployment periods, fascist Germany 
was under the same conditions as we were. But in fact both the forces and the 
conditions were far from equal. "''' 

The orientation of the theory of the initial period of war merely toward the 
conduct of powerful retaliatory offensive attacks obscured the study of problems 
in conducting a strategic defense and the study of some other aspects of strategy 
and operational art. For example, it can be mentioned that the idea of the 
retaliatory attack, which lay at the basis of the strategic plan of the initial opera¬ 
tions. had not been fully elaborated. These flaws in military theory were cor¬ 
rected during the war itself. 


73 







* * 

* 

The organizational development of the Soviet Armed Forces and the forma¬ 
tion in our country of views on a future war and its initial period were based 
on the unshakable methodological foundations of Marxist-Leninist theory and 
on V. I. Lenin's teachings on defense of the socialist Fatherland. 

From the start the Red Army and Navy were developed as a new type of armed 
forces, an instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat, called to defend the 
achievements of the socialist revolution. These forces were created in close unity 
with the people and were indoctrinated in the spirit of proletarian 
internationalism. 

Total leadership by the Communist Party was the foundation of the organiza¬ 
tional development of the Soviet Armed Forces. As a result, they became a 
powerful modern military force in a historically brief period, a force provided 
with advanced military equipment and weapons and possessing a fully developed 
military theory. 

From the moment of its inception Soviet military thought was on the correct 
path in forecasting the character of a future war and its initial period, relying 
on a generalization of World War 1 and Civil War experience and taking into 
account the influence of technological progress on military affairs. 

Soviet military theory correctly appraised the character of a future war and 
the specific features of its initial period. It was able 1 o identify trends in the 
main capitalist nations' preparations to enter into war. However, these trends 
were not taken into full account in practice. 

The progressive character of Soviet military theory and the great skill of com¬ 
manders and staffs in leading the troops, which grew out of the fertile soil of 
that theory, were confirmed by the course and outcome of the Great Patriotic 
War. 

Notes 

1 Lenin. XLIV. 296 

2 Ibid . XLIV. 209 

3 Ibid . XLI. 81 

4 KPSS o Vooruzhennykh Sttakh Sovetsko/fu Soyuzu. Sbomik dokumentov 79/7-7955 (The CPSU 
on the USSR Armed Forces A Collection of Documents 1917-1958] (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 
1958). p 47 [Hereafter cited as The CPSU on the USSR Armed Forces— U S Ed.) 

5 See 50Let Vooruzhennykh Stl USSR |50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces ) (Moscow: Voyeniz- 
dat. 1968). p 201. [Hereafter cited as 50 Fears of the USSR Armed Forces —U.S. Ed ] 

6 Ibid., p 206 


Y 


74 



7 Ibid . p 198. 

8. Ibid , p. 236 

9. Ibid . p. 234, 

IU. Ibid . p. 252 

11 See CPSU History, V, Bk. I, 144. 

12. M. V. Frunze. hhrannyye proirvedeniva (Selected Works), p. 254. 

13. Ibid 

14. Ibid . p 255. 

15. Ibid 

16. A. Svechin, Strategiya (Strategy | (Moscow. Gosvoyemzdal, 1926). p 2% 

17. Vopnisy strategii i operativnogo iskusstvo v sovelskikh vovennykh trudakh (1917 1940 
gg.) (Questions of Strategy and Operational Art in Sov ; »» Military Works <1917-1940)1 
(Moscow: Voyenizdat. 1955), pp. 208-209 (Hereaftei cited as Strategy atul Operational 
/Irr-U.S. Ed ] 

18. Ibid., p. 213. 

19. Ibid., p. 215. 

20. V. K. Triandafillov, Kkarakter operittsiy sovremennykh armiy (Modern Army Operations] 
(Moscow. Voyenizdat, 1937). p 13. 

21 Ibid., p 49 

22. Ibid., p 203 

23. Morskoy sbormk (Naval Digest 1, 1928. No. 6, p. 17. 

24. Voyna i revolyutsiya (War and Revolution!. 1931. No. 8, p. 12. |Hereafter cited as War and 
Revolution— U.S. Ed.] 

25 See Strategy and Operational Art. p 636 

26 See A I Yegorov, "Taktika i operativnoyc iskusstvo na mnom etape" (' Tactics and Opera¬ 
tional Art at *he New Stage"). Journal of Military History. 1963. No 10. p. 35 

27. Ibid 

28. See M. N. Tukhachevskiy, Izbrannyye proizvedentya (Selected Works) (Moscow: Voyeniz¬ 
dat, 1964), II, 212-221 

29 Ibid . p 217 

30 Ibid . pp 218-719 

31 Ibid . p. 221 

32. G. S. Isserson. Evolyulsiya operaavnogo i.skusstvu (The Evolution o( Operational Art] (Moscow 
Voyenizdat, 1937), p. 79. 

33. War atul Revolution, 1933. Nos. 9-10, p. 7. 

34. Ibid., 1934, Nos 3-4. p 33 

35. See Strategy and Operational Art, pp. 487 488. 

36 G K Zhukov. Vnspominaniya i razmyshleniya [Recollections and Reflections] (Moscow 
Izdatel'stvo APN, 1970), p 216 IHereafter cited as Zhukov-U S Ed.) 


75 




PART II: STRATEGIC PLANNING AND ARMED 
FORCES DEPLOYMENT ON THE EVE 
OF AND AT THE START OF WORLD 
WAR II 


Chapter 4. The Military and Political Bases for 
Strategic Planning. The Goals and 
Plans of the Initial Campaigns and 
First Operations of the Capitalist 
Armies 


In the final years before World War II the international situation was 
characterized, in part, by continued intensification of imperialism's conflicts 
m the capitalist world and by the desire of Germany, Italy, and Japan to use 
armed force to redraw the world map in their favor. There were also persistent 
attempts by international imperialist circles to create a united anti-Soviet front 
in order to direct the aggression to the east and ultimately to destroy or at least 
seriously weaken the USSR. 

The political report of the AUCP(b) Central Committee to the 16th Party Con¬ 
gress pointed out that whenever capitalism's conflicts begin to intensify, the 
bourgeoisie turns its attention to the USSR, conceiving ways in which to resolve 
one or another of capitalism's conflicts or all of its conflicts at the expense of 
the USSR, whose very existence revolutionizes the working class and the co¬ 
lonial peoples. 

Following an anti-Soviet course in their foreign policy, England, France, and 
the U.S. did everything possible to nudge fascist Germany and militarist Japian 
into an attack against the USSR. The western (lowers gave the fascist nations 
entire countries in exchange for a commitment to start a war against the Soviet 
Union. 

The Munich agreement, entered into by the heads of the governments of 
England, France, Germany, and Italy (September 1938), was the culmination 
ot the attempts by the ruling circles of the imperialist powers to create a united 
anti-Soviet front. Because of this agreement Czechoslovakia was turned over 
to fascist Germany to be torn apart. Exposing the anti-Soviet direction of the 
Munich agreement, the 18th AUCPlb) Congress (minted out that the Hitlerites 


76 



"had been given regions of Czechoslovakia as the price tor their commitment 
to begin war against the Soviet Union.” 1 


The imperialists' behind-the-scenes Munich deal represented a decisive step 

toward World War II. 

A threatening situation was also developing in the Far East. Japanese militarists 
were conducting a war in China and had twice unleashed armed conflicts near 
the borders of the USSR and the Mongolian People’s Republic (near Lake Khasan 
and the Khalkhin-Gol River). Although both times the Red Army repelled the 
Japanese provocateurs in a fitting manner, they did not cease their escalation 
of aggression in the Far East. 

The unending efforts of the Soviet government to create a collective security 
system were thwarted by the western nations. Resorting to open and secret deals, 
the ruling circles in England and France, with the cooperation of the U.S., per¬ 
sistently attempted to make an agreement with the fascist bloc nations and to 
direct their aggression against the USSR. 

The socialist nation was faced with the acute problem of preventing the inter¬ 
national isolation of the USSR and the creation of a united anti-Soviet imperialist 
front. Because of the Soviet government’s flexible and active policy, the designs 
of the imperialist ringleaders met with failure. With the signing of a nonaggres¬ 
sion pact with Germany in August 1939 and a neutrality agreement with Japan 
in April 1941, the Soviet government wrecked plans designed to resolve the 
imperialist system’s internal conflicts at the expense of the USSR. 

Following the capitalist nations’ failure to create a united front against the 
USSR, and after the great intensification of imperialism’s conflicts, World War 
II started in the capitalist system: on 1 September 1939 fascist Germany attacked 
Poland. Betrayed by its allies, France and England, Poland was rapidly over¬ 
come. The western powers’ calculations that fascist Germany would turn its 
weapons against the USSR after Poland's defeat were not borne out. Hitlerite 
Germany’s aggressive aspirations were directed toward the west this time. Ger¬ 
many seized Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg in the 
spring of 1940, and defeated France in the summer of the same year. By the 
summer of 1941, after achieving rapid victories in the Balkan nations, fascist 
Germany had established its domination over most of the European nations. 

Fascist Germany’s leaders considered the war with the Soviet Union to be 
the decisive stage of the struggle for world supremacy. They hoped for an easy 
and quick victory. As is well known, however, these hopes were not destined 
to be realized. Wflien Hitler’s army attacked the USSR on 22 June 1941. the 
entire Soviet nation came forward to defend the socialist Fatherland. 

World War II was expanded at the start ol December 1941 when Japan at¬ 
tacked the U S. 


77 





Ill January 1942, 26 nations, including the USSR, the U.S., and England, 
igned a declaration on combining military and economic resources to deteat 
the fascist bloc ol nations. This act constituted the formation of an anti-Hitler 
coalition, which had been developing since the start ol the war through efforts 
by the USSR, and signaled the final collapse of imperialist plans for the inter¬ 
national isolation of our nation. 

Participation by the U S. and England in the anti-Hitler coalition resulted from 
the recognition by the ruling circles in those nations that without the USSR they 
would not be able to halt the continued aggression of Nazi Germany and its 
allies, and so protect their national interests. An important role was played by 
(he powerful upsurge in the antifascist movement among the broad masses of 
the population in many nations, including England and the U.S., a develop¬ 
ment that the governments of those nations could not ignore. 

Preparing for war, the general staffs of the main imperialist nations carefully 
worked out plans to conduct military operations against their probable enemies, 
devoting special attention to the planning of their initial campaigns and first 
strategic operations. 

1. T he Strategic Plans of Fascist Germany and Militarist 
Japan 

Fascist Germany’s Plans in the Campaigns in Poland and Western 
Europe 

Fascist Germany's strategic plans rested on the expansionist aspirations of 
the German monopolies, which were pushing to establish world dominance. 
The policy of the Hitlerite leadership was in close keeping with these aspira¬ 
tions In general terms, fascist Germany’s military-political plan included the 
following: 

1 Put the small European nations under German domination and create the 
necessary economic and strategic conditions for a war against Germany’s chief 
enemies in Western Europe. 

2. Defeat France and England, put the nations of Western Europe under Ger¬ 
man domination, and make the necessary preparations to attack the Soviet Union. 

3. Defeat the Soviet Union and create the conditions for achieving world 
domination. 

4. Form a German colonial empire by conquering Africa, the Near and Middle 
Fast, and other regions of the world. 



The ringleaders of the fascist Reich felt that the Soviet Union was the main 
enemy standing in the way of the creation of the ‘ ‘Great German Empire. ’ ’ For 
this reason, both before World War II and at its start, the policy and strategy 
of fascist Germany served to create the economic, political, and military condi¬ 
tions for its defeat. This was expressed in the desire of fascist Germany to first 
capture the small European nations and defeat its age-old competitors, France 
and England, and then unleash aggression against the USSR. 

The political and military leaders of fascist Germany, expressing the interests 
of the German monopolies, intended to take over the political and economic 
systems in the conquered nations and impose a so-called new order on the peoples 
of the world. They “planned” to deprive the conquered peoples of national 
sovereignty, eliminate the democratic victories of the workers, and turn some 
peoples into disenfranchised vassals and others into slaves of the “superior Ger¬ 
man race." This program of colonization and enslavement of sovereign nations 
showed the very essence of the infamous “new order.” 

The military and political leadership of fascist Germany took particular care 
in working out the Ost plan, the plan to enslave the Slavic peoples. This plan 
called for the extermination and Germanization of scores of millions of people 
living to the east of Germany as far as the Urals. In Poland, for example, the 
territory was to be “depopulated,” moving more than 20 million (80 to 85 per¬ 
cent) of the Poles from their homeland and putting an end once and for all to 
the existence of the Polish nation. 2 One of the fascist ringleaders, Frank, in 
assuming the position of “governor general of the occupied Polish areas,” 
declared: “From now on the political role of the Polish nation is ended. It is 
declared to be a labor force, and nothing more.... We will see to it that the 
very concept of Poland is erased once and for all. The Polish Republic will never 
be resurrected, nor any other Polish state.”* 

The military and political plans of fascist Germany, permeated through and 
through with an openly racist, fanatical ideology, were adventurist. The ultimate 
political goals of Hitler and his supporters expressed the desire to turn back 
social development. Moreover, the material and human resources of Germany 
were quite inferior to those of its enemies. 

A distinguishing feature of the strategic plans of the German general staff 
was that, no matter what an enemy’s strength and potential capabilities, the main 
role in achieving victory in a war (or campaign) was accorded to the initial 
strategic operations. During these operations the German command planned to 
achieve the complete defeat of the enemy or, at least, the creation of the decisive 
conditions for completing the enemy’s defeat in one rapid campaign. 

The methods outlined by the German general staff to achieve victory against 
the enemy rested on the ideas of blitzkreig warfare and the “strategic Cannae” 
and had as their source the theoretical heritage of the bastions of German 


79 





militarism, the elder von Moltke and Schlieffen. From the start of the war (or 
campaign), the main emphasis was put on the encirclement and destruction of 
the enemy. 

The first attempt to employ blitzkrieg warfare and the "strategic Cannae” 
was made by fascist Germany at the start of World War II in the war against 
Poland. 

The campaign in Poland was conceived as a strategic operation to encircle 
and destroy the Polish army (the Weiss plan). The Hitlerite leadership took three 
principal factors into account: (a) the configuration of the German-Polish border, 
which was advantageous for the German armed forces and made possible, even 
in the regions where the offensive began, the occupation of an enveloping posi¬ 
tion in relation to a large part of Polish territory; (b) Germany’s predominant 
military and economic superiority over Poland; (c) the certainty that Poland’s 
western allies would not come to its aid and that Germany would be able, without 
fearing for its rear, to concentrate an overwhelming part of its armed forces 
against Poland. 

To conduct the operation, two army groups were created. Army Group South 
(the 14th, 10th, and 8th field armies, the 15th, 16th, and 22nd tank and 14th 
army motorized corps, and the 4th Air Force) was to make the main attack, 
advancing from Silesia toward Czestochowa and Warsaw. Army Group North 
(the 3rd and 4th field armies, the 19th Tank Corps, and the 1st Air Force) had 
the mission of driving toward Warsaw from the north and northwest. Part of 
the forces from these groups was to make auxiliary attacks: the 14th Army from 
Slovakia and the 3rd Army from East Prussia moved in the general direction 
of Brest and aimed at deep envelopment of the Polish forces and action against 
their attempts to break out of the interior ring of encirclement. 

In its final version the Hitlerite plan for the campaign in Western Europe (the 
Gelb plan), which had been reworked several times, set as the immediate strategic 
goal to make a deep attack across the Ardennes, to cut the strategic front into 
two parts, and to encircle and destroy the allied forces fighting on the front’s 
northern wing. Subsequently, from the line of the Aisne, Oise, and Somme 
rivers, a new strategic operation was to be carried out to put France out of the 
war. 

To accomplish this plan, three army groups were to be fielded: A, B, and 
C. These groups (taking into consideration the strategic reserves) consisted of 
136 divisions, including 10 tank and 7 motorized. Altogether, 3.3 million men 
and 2,580 tanks were to conduct the first strategic operation. To support the 
ground forces, two air forces with 3,824 aircraft were allocated. 4 

The main attack across the Ardennes was to be made by Army Group A. On 
reaching the English Channel and after protecting itself with a part of its forces 




on the line of the Somme River to the south, Army Group A had the mission 
of advancing to the north and northeast. Together with the forces of Army Group 
B. it was to complete the encirclement and destruction of the main allied forces. 

Army Group B was given the mission of rapidly taking Holland, breaking 
through the Belgian border fortifications, and throwing the enemy back to the 
line of Antwerp and Namur. 

Army Group C was to defend the Siegfried Line from Luxembourg to the 
Swiss border, and later go over to the offensive through the Vosges. 

Thus, under the Gelb plan, the first strategic operation pursued the decisive 
goal of destroying the main allied forces on the northern wing of the front. In 
achieving this goal an important place was given to the divisive attack. This 
attack was to crush the entire strategic front and isolate the most combat-capable 
part of the allied armed forces. The encirclement and destruction of the isolated 
troop grouping were to be carried out in the final stage of the operation by a 
double envelopment. 

The calculation of the Hitlerite command to achieve a quick victory in the 
campaign in the west was based on making use of a number of factors: the passive 
wait-and-see strategy of the western powers; the major mistakes in the strategic 
deployment of the allied armies; the surprise of the invasion and the paralyzing 
psychological effect of massed attacks by aviation and major armored forma¬ 
tions against allied forces. 

In striving so that the course and outcome of the military campaigns would 
be determined ahead of time by the conduct of the initial offensive operations, 
the fascist German command devoted special attention to the maximum con¬ 
centration of men and equipment in the decisive theaters of operations and 
strategic axes. The crushing might of the first attacks was achieved by this (see 
table 1). 

The Hitlerite command assigned a leading role in achieving the goals of the 
initial operations to the air force and tank forces. 

In the plans for the initial operations in Poland and Western Europe the most 
important mission of the air force was to win air supremacy. Among the im¬ 
mediate air missions were thwarting the mobilization movements, disrupting 
the strategic deployment of enemy armed forces, and attacking the reserves be¬ 
ing brought up from the interior. Part of the air force was given the mission 
to provide direct support to the ground forces, particularly those accompanying 
tank and motorized formations, from the start of combat operations. As one 
operation or another developed according to plan, this mission became the main 
one for aviation. The combat activity of the ground forces was supported by 
assigning one air force with 1,000 to 2.000 aircraft to each army group. To 


81 






"T 


Table 1. Concentration of German Ground Forces by the Start of the Campaigns in 
Poland and Western Europe. 5 




Distribution of divisions 

Time 

Total 
divisions 
in fascist 
Germany 

On main 
strategic 
front 

For covering 
strategic 
rear on side 
of probable 
new enemies 

fn interior 
regions of 
Germany 
and in 
occupied 
territories 



No. 

L *_ 

No. 

m i 

No. 

m 

By (he start of the attack 
on Poland 

103 

57* 



30 

15 

15 

By the start of war in 

Western Europe 

157 

136 



6.5 

11 

7 


*57 divisions according to the plan. Fifty-three were deployed by the start of the war. 62 took part 
in the war 


**These divisions were on the borders with Holland. Belgium, and France. From 3 through 10 
September 1939 the number of divisions on Germany's western borders increased to 43. 
***These divisions were along the Soviet border. From the autumn of 1940 their number began 
to increase rapidly. 


conduct the campaign in Poland, 2.000 aircraft were used, and in Western 
Europe, about 3,800. 

In both campaigns the tank formations were the core of the assault grouping 
of the ground forces. The fascist German command, before the start of each 
campaign, took energetic measures to add the greatest number of tank forces 
possible to its strategic groupings (see table 2). 

The fascist German command concentrated the main mass of its mobile for¬ 
mations on the axes of the main attacks. So. in the Polish campaign most of 
the tanks were concentrated in the offensive area of the 10th Army (Army Group 


Table 2. Number of Tank and Motorized Divisions by the Start of the Campaign, in Poland 
and Western Europe. 



Tank divisions 


Motorized divisions 

Time 

Total in 
Germany 

Assigned for 
campaign 

Total in 

Germans 

Assigned for 

campaign 



No. 

■* 


No. 

% 

By the start of the attack 
on Poland 

7 

6 

8f> 

s 

5 

100 

By the start of war in 

Western Europe 

10 

10 

100 

7 

7 

100 


82 












South), which was to make the main attack In the invasion ot Franc- - ml 
formations were first combined in a tank croup ot five tank and three motor 
ized divisions. This group included 1.250 tanks. 862 armored cars, and 41.140 
other vehicles. This large formation was included as pan of Army Groun A. 
which was to advance in the decisive sector of the front. The tank group was 
the chief means of carrying out a broad and rapid maneuver when making a 
divisive attack. To support and cover the group from the air. sizeable aviation 
and air defense forces were assigned (the tank group was to coordinate w ith 
the 3rd Air Force and the 1st Air Defense Corps). 

In planning the initial operations, the fascist German command attached great 
importance to the airborne forces. They were to play a special role in the defeat 
of Holland. Here the terrain conditions impeded a rapid offensive and the at 
tainment of surprise in the first attack without the use of airborne forces. It was 
decided that they would play a big part in the invasion, carrying out, in par 
ticular, such an important mission as disorganizing the top political and military 
leadership. Airborne forces were also to be used to capture the Liege fortified 
area, which blocked the path into central Belgium. 

The German navy was to defend the nation's coast against the operations of 
enemy naval forces and aviation, protect Germany’s sea lines of communica 
tions, disrupt the enemy’s sea lines of communications, and support friendly 
ground forces operating on the coast. The navy was also to be used to intimidate 
the neutral Scandinavian and Baltic nations. 6 

These general navy missions were made specific according to the naval theaters 
of operations. Thus, in the Baltic Sea the German navy was to control the Baltic 
straits, protect its lines of communications destroy or isolate the Polish navy . 
and support forces advancing on maritime axes. 

The warfare against the English merchant fleet was entrusted to major sur 
face vessels and submarines. To support the surface forces, special supph 
transports were to be deployed (before the war) in a number of regions in the 
Atlantic Ocean Ocean raiders were to operate in areas separated by great 
distances. To avoid damage and early disablement, it was not recommended 
that these ships engage even weak enemy forces. To combat English shipping, 
a number of fast merchant transports were to be converted into auxiliary cruiser' 
with powerful gun and torpedo armament, and these were to be camouflaged 
as merchant vessels.* 

In planning naval operations, great importance was placed on submarine ac¬ 
tions. One of the important missions entrusted to the submarine fleet was to 
disrupt merchant shipping in English coastal waters. The submarines were to 
wage an active struggle against the English merchant fleet where surface vessels 


pn nil 


•Twenty-six auxiliary cruisers were tn he used, hut in fact only 12 were outfitted, f rom the s| 
of 1440 they began operating in the Atlantic. Indian, and Pacoic oceans Author s note 



amid not penetrate. It was planned that submarines would take up their assigned 
stations before war had been declared. 

Aviation was to make attacks against enemy naval bases and ports. 

An organic part of the plans for the initial operations was the use of the so- 
called fifth column—an organized system of espionage and sabotage in the terri¬ 
tories of the probable enemies. Detachments were made up ahead of time and 
ordinarily consisted of representatives of the German national minorities, traitors, 
and specially dropped agents. These detachments were to carry out terrorist acts 
against industry, transport, and communications centers, and were to collect 
intelligence data and so forth. 

Thus, in planning the invasion of one country or another, the fascist German 
command gave its armed forces the mission of dealing a decisive defeat to the 
enemy 's strategic groupings in the initial operations. To achieve this goal, it 
sought to concentrate the maximum possible number of men and quantity of 
equipment, particularly aviation and tanks, on the axes of the main attacks. The 
principle of massing forces for the first attack was at the basis of ail the strategic 
plans of the fascist German command. This principle made it possible for 
Germany to obtain a great numerical superiority over its enemies on the main 
axes To cover the borders along which military operations were not planned, 
or for operations on secondary axes, the minimum number of ground forma¬ 
tions and air torcex was set aside. 

Imperialist Japan's Strategic Planning for the Initial Operations in the 
Pacific 

Militarist Japan, like fascist Germany. pursued in its foreign policy an openly 
aggressive course to seize foreign territories and repartition the world. 

Bv the start of the war in the Pacific. Japan was one of the major colonial 
powers in the world. It had taken control of Korea. Manchuria. Taiwan. South 
Sakhalin, and the Kurile. Peseadore, Caroline, and Marshall Islands. Japan's 
aggressive operations expanded constantly. In 1937. continuing its war against 
China. Japan seized a large part of north and south China and Inner Mongolia. 
In the summer tit 1941 the aggression of the Japanese militarists was extended 
to Indochina. 

The basis of the expansionist drives of Japanese imperialism was the great- 
power idea of creating a "Great Japanese Empire” and establishing the 
dominance of the "superior Japanese race" in East and Southeast Asia. 

I he aggressive loieign policy of imperialist Japan was totally determined by 
the struggle nl the Japanese monopolies to seize cheap sources of raw materials 
and markets for the rapidly developing economy. Having started later than the 



other major nations on the path of capitalist development, when the world had 
already been divided between the major imperialist predators, Japan, with its 
limited domestic sources of raw materials and food, was directly dependent on 
foreign markets. It is enough to note that on the eve ot World War II Japan 
imported 90 percent of its petroleum, from 50 to 75 percent of its metals, over 
one-half its raw cotton, and virtually all of its wool, rubber, and jute from terri 
lories under the control of the U.S., England, France, Holland, and other colonial 
powers. 7 For this reason the imperialist drives of the Japanese monopolies were 
aimed primarily at the South Seas, at Indochina, Malaya, and the Dutch East 
Indies, which were rich sources of food, petroleum, iron ore. tin, manganese, 
and bauxite. 

The desire of the Japanese militarists to strengthen their positions in the Pacific 
and penetrate the South Seas led to an inevitable aggravation of imperialist con¬ 
tradictions between Japan and the U S. A war between these nations had been 
maturing for many decades. “Before us," wrote V. I. Lenin in the 1920s, “is 
a growing conflict, a growing clash between America and Japan—for there is 
a stubborn struggle between Japan and America . . . over the Pacific Ocean 
and the possession of its coasts; and all the diplomatic, economic, and commer¬ 
cial history affecting the Pacific and its coasts fully and clearly demonstrates 
how this clash will grow and make war between America and Japan inevitable.' 

Another direction of expansion by Japanese imperialism pointed toward the 
Soviet Union. The capture of the inestimable natural resources of the Soviet 
Far East and Siberia w as an old dream of the Japanese imperialist bourgeoisie 
However, its repeated attempts to profit at the expense of the USSR encountered 
a crushing rebuff from the Soviet people and ended w ith the defeat of the Japanese 
invaders. Nevertheless, the dream of seizing the Soviet Far East and Siberia 
never left the Japanese militarists. 

In the summer of 1941 the Japanese militarists had finished working out their 
plan for war against the USSR. This plan, named Kan Toku En (“Special 
Maneuvers of the Kwantung Army"), assumed that the main attack would be 
made in the Maritime Province by the forces of the 1st Front The troop> of 
the 2nd Front were to cross the Amur River, cut the railroad, and capture the 
major cities in the Soviet Far East (Khabarovsk. Blagoveshchensk, and others). 
The start of the concentration of Japanese forces under the Kan Toku En plan 
was set for 20 July 1941. 

The heroic resistance shown by our army to the fascist German forces in the 
summer of 1941 upset the plans of the Japanese militarists. In carefully follow ¬ 
ing the course of military events on the Soviet-German Front, they could not 
help but note that their partner in the Anti-Comintern Pact, fascist Germany, 
had been caught up in a drawn-out war. The calculations of the Japanese general 
staff that with the start of fascist Germany’s attack on the USJR, Soviet forces 
would begin to be moved from the Far East to the west also came to nothing. 






Assessing the military and political situation that was taking shape, Japanese 
ruling circles estimated that it would be better to make the first attack on the 
possessions of the U.S.. England, and Holland in the Pacific and South Seas, 
since the western powers in these regions did not have sufficient forces to resist 
a Japanese offensive. As for an invasion of the Soviet Union, the opinion of 
the Japanese government was that the most favorable moment for it would oc¬ 
cur when the military and economic might of the USSR in the war against fascist 
Germany had been thoroughly undermined. According to the evidence of the 
former Japanese prime minister, General Tojo, Japan intended to enter the war 
against the USSR only when “as a result of the German attack, the military 
might of the USSR had been completely undermined, thus making Japan’s mis¬ 
sion of capturing the Soviet Far East as easy as possible.” 9 At a meeting of 
the Japanese cabinet on 2 July 1941, the decision was made not to intervene 
yet in the war between Germany and the USSR, but at the same time to con¬ 
tinue to carry out concealed preparations for war against the USSR so to be 
ready, in a situation favorable for Japan, “to solve the northern problem by 
force of arms.” 10 

At a Japanese cabinet meeting on 1 December 1941 the decision was finally 
made to begin the war against the U.S., England, and Holland. On the same 
day. Imperial Headquarters set the date of the attack (the D-day would be 8 
December, Tokyo time). In setting the D-day, Imperial Headquarters proceeded 
from the following considerations: first, it was assumed that in the spring of 
1942 the balance of forces at sea would change in favor of the U.S. and any 
deferment of the D-day would be advantageous only for the allies; second, the 
best weather conditions (sea conditions) close to the Malayan coast would be 
during the first 10 days of December. 

Deciding to go to war with the U.S. and England, the Japanese military and 
political leadership, of course, was aware that it was challenging the major world 
powers, whose military and economic capabilities were many times greater than 
the military and economic potential of Japan. But the Japanese leadership did 
not plan to defeat the United States of America and England, limiting itself to 
the more “humble" goal of seizing the colonial possessions of the U.S., England, 
and Holland in the Pacific and the South Seas. This would permit the Japanese 
militarists to wage a drawn-out war, which, they thought, the U.S. would not 
decide to do. The Japanese leaders assumed they would later be able to settle 
the conflict using various concessions and political maneuvering. 

Imperialist Japan based its strategy on the same principles that were 
characteristic of the strategy of its partner, fascist Germany. The military and 
political leadership of Japan assigned the main role in achieving victory to the 
initial strategic operations. Considered indispensable for victory were a decisive 
massing of men and equipment for the first attack and the surprise of the attack 
itself. 


86 





By mid-August 1941 the command of the Japanese army and navy had worked 
out a general strategy, while staff organs had drawn up four versions of a plan 
for offensive combat operations. The first version called for the initial capture 
of the Dutch East Indies, followed by the Philippines and Malaya. According 
to the second, there was to be a consecutive advance of the Japanese armed 
forces from the Philippines across the islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra 
to the Malay Peninsula. The third planned an advance in the reverse order, from 
Malaya to the Philippines. Finally, the fourth version was designed for a 
simultaneous attack on the Philippines and Malaya, followed by the rapid seizure 
of the Dutch East Indies. 11 The fourth version of the plan, a simultaneous offen¬ 
sive on two axes, was given complete approval by the command of the Japanese 
army and navy after joint staff exercises in Tokyo in September 1941. 

This plan called for the seizure of the strategic initiative by conducting sur¬ 
prise attacks in the first days of the war on various operational-strategic axes. 
During their operations the army and navy were to cooperate closely and seize 
their intended objectives quickly. The initial period of the war was to last about 
5 months. The Japanese strategists considered that the actual military might of 
the U S. and England in East Asia and in the southwestern Pacific was at that 
time insignificant. For this reason the Japanese command’s plan came down 
to defeating the opposing allied forces during the initial operations and digging 
in firmly on the seized territories. 

Achieving the goals of the initial strategic operations (in the initial period of 
the war) would, according to plan, be earned out in three stages. 

In the first stage there was to be the capture of the Philippines, British Malaya, 
the Bismarck Archipelago, and the islands of Guam. Borneo, and Celebes. 

In the second was the capture of the islands of Java and Sumatra. 

In the third was the capture of Burma and of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands 
in the Bay of Bengal. 

After the capture of these regions, a fortified line was to be created from the 
Kurile Islands and northern Japan across Wake Island, the Marshalls and Gilberts, 
the Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea, Timor, Java, Sumatra, and the islands 
of the Bay of Bengal up to the border between India and Burma. 12 

To conduct the initial strategic operations, the Japanese command assigned 
major naval, land, and air forces. 

Taking part in these operations were the main forces of the Japanese navy, 
including 10 battleships, 10 aircraft carriers, 36 heavy and light cruisers, 109 
destroyers, 52 submarines, and about 50 picket ships, minesweepers, minelayers. 


87 


and gunboats. From the ground forces. 5 armies (the 14th, 15th. 16th. 23rd. 
and 25th) were assigned to the operations, for a total ol approximately 12 
divisions. 


As for the air forces, 1.150 aircraft front army and land-based aviation were 
to take part in combat operations in the initial period. 13 


The largest number of army aviation aircraft were assigned for combat opera¬ 
tions on the Malay Peninsula. Air operations were to begin at dawn on D-day. 
Surprise air attacks were planned against the main II.S.. Fnglish, and Dutch 
airfields. After winning air supremacy, the aviation was to be shifted to direct 
support of the ground forces during the troop landings and other ground opera¬ 
tions. While conducting operations, the air forces were to be rebased from 
Taiwan to the Philippines and from French Indochina to Malaya. 

In the Japanese war plan, winning sea supremacy was fixed as one of the 
main strategic missions in the initial period. After pointed debates and a careful 
study of the various war plans, it was recognized that the most effective way 
to defeat the U.S. Pacific Fleet would be with a surprise massed air attack by 
carrier-based aviation on the first day of the war against the ships of the American 
navy at their main base. Pearl Harbor (in the Hawaiian Islands). 


The plan for the Hawaiian operation worked out by the commander in chief 
of the Japanese combined fleet. Admiral Yamamoto, called for the creation of 
a powerful strike force of 6 carriers (360 aircraft). 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 
and a fleet of destroyers. This force was to approach the Hawaiian Islands without 
detection to a distance of 200 miles north of the island of Oahu and attack the 
American ships at Pearl Harbor. The battleships and carriers were to be the 
main objectives of the attack by carrier-based aviation. It was anticipated that 
torpedoes would be used to hit the enemy ships. Bearing in mind Pearl Harbor's 
shallow harbor, the torpedoes were consequently outfitted with special stabilizers 
and were to be dropped from low altitudes (to prevent them from "diving"). 
At the same time, heavy bombs (up to 800 kg) were to be used in bombing 
from horizontal and dive runs. Fighter aircraft and part of the bombers were 
to destroy the American aircraft on the airfields and in the air. 


The plan for the Hawaiian operation was tested out in fleet exercises, which 
showed that the attack by carrier-based aviation against Pearl Harbor was in 
fact feasible. Nevertheless, many felt that this plan was risky. On the day of 
the attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet might not be at the base. There was also a 
serious danger that the Japanese task force would be detected during the long 
approach to the Hawaiian Islands, 


The key to the Hawaiian operation was the surprise of the atiack. For this 
reason operational reconnaissance held a special place in thf preparations for 
the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Hawaiian Islands became the object of systematic 




AD-A168 483 




r/C 15/7 


UNCLASSIFIED 

























reconnaissance by Japanese submarines. The Japanese consulate in Honolulu 
was widely used to collect intelligence data. The Japanese command regularly 
received information on the position of American ships—particularly battleships 
and carriers—at the Pearl Harbor base, on the presence of barrage balloons over 
the base, on the protection of the ships by antitorpedo nets, on the organization 
of patrols, and so forth. 

Moving to unleash war in the Pacific, imperialist Japan thus carried out its 
strategic planning with recognition of the decisive importance of the initial opera¬ 
tions. Like fascist Germany, imperialist Japan proceeded to work out its plans 
for military operations on the principle of massing its main forces and equip¬ 
ment on decisive axes and using surprise in the attack. 

2. The Western Coalition of Powers’ Strategic Planning for 
War and Its First Operations 

The Plans for the Initial Campaigns in Europe 

The principal factor determining the policy and strategy of the western powers 
before World War II and in its first stage was the openly anti-Soviet foreign 
policy of the ruling classes in England and France, which found specific ex¬ 
pression in the desire to provoke a clash between Germany and the Soviet Union. 

When fascist Germany suddenly attacked Poland, the ally of France and 
England, the governments of these countries in fact sacrificed Poland to their 
anit-Soviet policy. The notorious guarantees that these powers had made to 
Poland turned out to be pure bluff.* The governments of the western powers, 
despite the obligations they had assumed, did not intend to provide any help 
to Poland during the first days and weeks of the war. Concerning their junior 
partner, they proceeded from the position "that the fate of Poland will depend 
on the result of the war, and this in turn will be determined not by whether 
the allies can lessen the pressure on Poland at the start of the war, but by whether 
or not they will be able to defeat Germany ultimately.. . ," u 

When the Hitlerite army invaded Poland, the French and English governments 
limited themselves to merely a formal declaration of war against fascist Germany. 


•The military obligations of Poland’s western allies in the event of German aggression, under a 
military protocol signed in Paris on 19 May 1939 by Chief of the French General Staff Gamelin 
and Polish Defense Minister Kasprzycki, amounted to the following: 
l. Major objectives in Germany would immediately be subject to aerial bombing. 

2 Three days after the declaration of mobilization in France a series of offensive operations with 
limited goals would be undertaken against the German forces in the west. 

3. After the 15th day of mobilization, when a large pari of the German army would be fighting 
in Poland, a broad offensive would be mounted by the main forces against Germany (see Journal 
of Mihtan History , 1961. No 12. pp 37-38). 


89 



The passive wait-and-see defensive military doctrine of France conformed 
most appropriately to the interests of the French ruling circles. It was a unique 
smokescreen permitting the government to play a dual political game: on one 
hand, by being formally in a state of war against Germany, it could pay a cer¬ 
tain tribute to the demands of world public opinion to stop the fascist aggressor; 
and, on the other, by idleness on the Western Front and by active anti-Soviet 
actions, it could demonstrate to Hitler its readiness to accede to the seizure of 
Poland and to support Germany's eastern policy. 

The position of the French government was completely to the liking of con¬ 
servative circles in the English bourgeoisie, which also had assumed a wait- 
and-see attitude toward Germany and had not lost hope of embroiling it in a 
clash with the USSR. The English government felt that England was not threat¬ 
ened by a direct invasion of its home soil by German armed forces because it 
was separated from the continent by the channel and had a powerful navy. For 
this reason, until Hitler's further intentions were clarified, the English govern¬ 
ment set itself the goal of continuing to apply pressure on Germany merely by 
setting up a sea blockade, disrupting German shipping, and isolating Germany 
from overseas sources of supply. To conduct military operations on the conti¬ 
nent, the English government intended to employ a minimum of effort. England’s 
European allies were to absorb the attack by the fascist German war machine. 
At the same time, the English exerted a great effort to strengthen allied rela¬ 
tions with the U.S., feeling that a close military and political alliance with this 
country would strengthen England’s positions in Europe and in those regions 
of the world where a threat had arisen to English colonial possessions. 

After the Munich plot it became more and more apparent that the ringleaders 
of fascist Germany did not intend to pay the bill presented by the western powers. 
The hope of the creators of the Munich policy that the USSR and Germany would 
clash, at least during the immediate future, was not realized. Hitlerite aggres¬ 
sion on the European continent continued to develop. In March 1939 fascist 
Germany swallowed up all of Czechoslovakia, and in the summer attacked 
Poland. 

The aggressive foreign policy of fascist Germany created a genuine threat 
to the economic and political interests of England, France, and their allies. In 
the situation taking shape, the western powers were forced to take measures 
in the event of war with fascist Germany, to work out a general strategy, and, 
based on that strategy, to devise their own plans for war and its initial operations. 

Based on the mutual military pledges of the western allies, the Polish war 
plan against fascist Germany, under the code name Zakhud (“West”), was drawn 
up as part of the general war plan of the entire coalition (Poland, France, and 
England). From a comparison of the military and economic potentials of Poland 
and Germany, the Polish government concluded that the country could not wage 
war against Germany with hope for success without direct military help from 

90 






the western allies, and above all France. The government was convinced that 
with the start of war Germany would throw all its might first against Poland, 
limiting itself merely to defensive operations on the Western Front, and that 
in the first weeks of the war Poland should be prepared for a maximum effort 
by its forces in order to stand alone until the entry of the allied armed forces 
into battle. 

On these premises the principal method of conducting combat operations after 
the start of an invasion by fascist German forces was a strategic defense. The 
immediate strategic goal of the Polish armed forces consisted in defending the 
country’s major economic regions, inflicting on the German armed forces as 
many casualties as possible and not allowing the enemy to rout the Polish army 
before the start of combat operations by the allies in the west. 

To repel the German offensive, 39 infantry divisions (including 9 reserve), 
11 cavalry brigades, and a tank brigade were to be employed. All of these forces 
were combined in 7 armies and several operations groups. The effective combat 
strength of the armies was weak. Each of the armies numbered from 2 to 7 
infantry divisions. Moreover, each army had I or 2 cavalry brigades. The north¬ 
western regions of the country were to be covered by 2 armies (Modlin and 
Pomorze), the western by 3 armies (Poznan, Lodz, and Prussy), and the 
southwestern by 2 armies (Krakow and Carpathian). Operating on these same 
axes were operations groups consisting of 1 or 2 infantry divisions and 1 or 
2 cavalry brigades. The front of the defenses for the army formations varied 
from 100 to 300 km. It was anticipated that during the defense, under pressure 
from superior enemy forces, the Polish forces would have to retreat 110 to 240 
km. 

The Polish command knew that Germany would allocate major forces for the 
attack against Poland. According to Polish data, the enemy surpassed the Polish 
army in infantry by a factor of 1.5, in tanks by a factor of 15, in aviation by 
a factor of almost 4.5, and in artillery by a factor of almost 2. Naturally, on 
the axes of the main attacks Germany 's superiority in men and equipment could 
be overwhelming. When it is considered that the numerical superiority of the 
German armed forces was supplemented by the higher quality of German military 
equipment, then one can appreciate the exceptionally difficult situation in which 
the Polish army found itself on the eve of the fascist German invasion. 

According to the estimates of the Polish command, the Polish army could 
last no longer than a month in a one-on-one fight with fascist German forces. 
However, it was felt that this period would be completely sufficient to mobilize, 
deploy, and develop a decisive offensive by the armed forces of France and 
England. The diversion of the fascist German army’s main forces at this time 
from the Polish Front to the west could make it possible for Poland to move 
from a strategic defense to a strategic offensive. 


91 


The strategic plans of England and France were worked out from previously 
coordinated military and political concepts of the governments and general staffs 
in both nations. These plans were based on the following premises: 

1. The probable enemies of the Anglo-French coalition were the leading na¬ 
tions of the fascist bloc. Military operations would be started by Germany first, 
and then by Italy and Japan. The decisive events would take place in Western 
Europe. 

2. The main mass of the ground forces in Europe would be fielded by France. 
England would use its main forces in the naval theaters of operations. 

3. At the start of a war in Western Europe, France and England would con¬ 
cede the initiative in operations to their enemies. The main efforts of the allied 
armed forces would be concentrated on conducting a strategic defense to repel 
the enemy offense. In the other theaters of operations, for example, in North 
Africa, individual operations could be undertaken at this time. Broad offensive 
operations by the English and French armed forces in Western Europe would 
be possible only at a later stage of the war. 

4. From the start of the war a set of measure would be carried out to under¬ 
mine the enemy's economic potential; sea lines of communications would be 
defended. 

5. Diplomatic opportunities would be widely used to obtain the active sup¬ 
port of neutral countries, particularly of the United States, for the English and 
French efforts. One document said the following about the coordinated military 
and political plans of the English and French governments: “... We should 
be ready to repel a broad offensive against France or against Great Britain or 
simultaneously against both nations. For this reason, in the initial stage of war 
we must concentrate all our efforts on repelling such an offensive; consequently, 
during this period our strategy will generally be defensive. 

"Nevertheless, Italy’s operations in North Africa can give us the opportunity 
to carry out a number of counteroffensives in the initial stage of the war without 
detriment to the success of the defense in Europe.... 

“While restraining Germany and making decisive attacks against Italy, our 
subsequent policy should be aimed at the same time at increasing our forces 
to be able to undertake an offensive against Germany. 

“During all these stages it will be essential to gradually undermine the ability 
of our enemies to resist by persistently applying economic pressure against 
them." 15 


92 



From these general military and political concepts, each nation in the Anglo- 
French coalition worked out its own plan for the use of its armed forces in war. 

In planning to repel the fascist German aggression, the French general staff 
proceeded on the assumption that if Germany did decide to attack France, it 
would make the main attack with the right flank of its ground forces through 
central Belgium (the Schlieffen plan). This view was based on the experience 
of World War I and on the deeply rooted conviction that central Belgium was 
France's most vulnerable strategic axis, since here the enemy could undertake 
broad maneuvers with major forces. 

The possibility of an attack through Luxembourg and the southern regions 
of Belgium was excluded because of the seemingly limited operational capacity 
of this axis, which ran through the mountainous and forested area of the Ardennes 
and was inaccessible, particularly for tank and mechanized formations. As for 
the part of the Franco-German border from Luxembourg to Switzerland, where 
for many years a line of permanent border fortifications called the Maginot Line 
had been under construction, it was considered completely impassable for in¬ 
vasion armies. 

The different versions of the plans for strategic deployment of the French 
army and the English expeditionary forces (it was assumed that England would 
shift an expeditionary corps to French territory) had one essential flaw: they 
were unable to completely carry out the central idea of the Anglo-French defen¬ 
sive strategy—the conduct of a static defense along the entire strategic front. 

Although a defensive grouping of French forces had been created and deployed 
ahead of time to the south of Longwy (the northern boundary of the Maginot 
Line) and was ready to repel an offensive, the French and English forces deployed 
to the north of Longwy on the main axis along the Belgian border in fact oc¬ 
cupied assembly regions. With the start of the German offensive they would 
have to move into Belgian and Dutch territory and from a marching formation 
quickly take up defensive lines that were insufficiently or completely unprepared 
with fieldworks. 

This unusual digression from the idea of a static defense derived from the 
special relations that had developed between France and England, on one hand, 
and Belgium and Holland on the other. The governments of these small Euro¬ 
pean countries, fearing by imprudent actions to provoke an invasion of their 
territory by German forces, held to a position of neutrality. At the same time 
they let England and France know that if Germany violated their neutrality, 
they would not refuse aid from their western neighbors. Thus considering 
Belgium and Holland to be their potential allies, the ruling circles in France 
and England deemed it advisable at the start of the war to shift the deployment 


93 



line of their main forces forward to the territory of these nations in order to 
coordinate joint efforts with the Belgian and Dutch armies to repel the German 
offensive. 

Right up to the start of the war and the defeat of Poland, the Anglo-French 
command adhered to the plan of deploying allied forces known as Plan E. Under 
this plan the Schelde River was to be the deployment line. The apparent merits 
of Plan E were that, according to it, the allied forces could reach the line of 
the Schelde 24 hours after the start of military operations and, consequently, 
could take up the defensive in time to get ready to repel the German offensive. 
But considering that the Belgian and Dutch armies, with no more than 30 infan¬ 
try and 2 cavalry divisions, were deployed along the Albert Canal and the Maas 
River, they were too far removed from the allied forces. In other words, the 
Belgian and Dutch divisions would be left to their own devices for a certain 
period. They faced defeat even before the approach of the allied armies. 

After the defeat of Poland the allied command reexamined this plan. In mid- 
November 1939, some 2 Vi months after the start of the war, a new plan was 
approved to deploy the main forces—the so-called Plan D. Under this plan, at 
the moment of an invasion of Belgium by the fascist German army, the main 
mass of allied forces concentrated on the left wing of the French northeastern 
Front was to begin a major maneuver march (over a distance of 100 to 200 
km) into the interior of Belgium to meet the enemy on the line of the Albert 
Canal and the Dyle River. In Plan D the Anglo-French command saw advan¬ 
tages, on one hand, in having the efforts of the allied forces linked up with those 
of the Belgian and Dutch armies and, on the other hand, in having the forward 
edge of the battle area greatly shortened and the possibility created of placing 
12 to 15 divisions in reserve. 

However, the plan undermined the very foundation of the static defense on 
which the French and English military commands had placed their main hopes 
in the coalition planning. The problem was that, according to Plan D, 35 divi¬ 
sions of allied forces were to make a maneuver march at the start of combat 
operations; thus, they would probably fall under attacks by enemy aviation and, 
possibly, encounter the enemy in meeting engagements. Consequently, at this 
stage of combat operations there could be no static defense. Nevertheless, in 
March 1940 Plan D was finally coordinated and approved by the allied command. 

The new plan to deploy the allied forces was thus inherently inconsistent. 
But this was not its main shortcoming. The weakness of Plan D was that 
it was based on an erroneous assessment of the enemy’s probable operations 
and on a major miscalculation in determining the axis of the main enemy attack. 

The French high command did not wish, or was unable, to use the data from 
its intelligence, which promptly and quite accurately informed the general staff 
of the composition and grouping of forces in the fascist German army and of 


94 




the possibility that the enemy would make a main attack through the Ardennes. 
The high command did not even make provision to move reserves pidly to 
the Ardennes axis if the threat of a deep breakthrough developed there. 


Until the start of the German offensive, Plan D and the grouping of allied 
forces created on its basis, which were quite well known to the fascist German 
command, remained unchanged. 

The Ardennes axis, on which the fascist German command was preparing 
to make the main attack, was poorly covered. The least combat-ready divisions 
were deployed there. 

The military and political leadership of England and France attached great 
importance to planning coordinated combat operations at sea. The origin of the 
development of a plan for operations in the naval theaters of war went back 
to the summer of 1939, when the international situation was sharply aggravated 
by the spreading aggression of the fascist bloc. At this time common principles 
were agreed on for the combat use of the allied naval forces, and specific zones 
of operations were established for the English and French fleets in the English 
Channel, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic. If Japan entered the war, a pro¬ 
vision was made to distribute these naval forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans. 
It was recognized that holding Singapore was the principal factor determining 
the strategic situation in the Indian Ocean, the Far East, and Australia. 

In planning the conduct of naval warfare the views and authority of the British 
Admiralty predominated, and the Admiralty, talcing consideration of English 
interests and coalition strategy, worked out its own plan of naval operations. 

The English naval plan attached primary importance to the defense of the 
homeland, since it was felt that the loss of supremacy in England’s coastal waters 
or on the sea lanes leading to the British Isles would bring England to a quick 
and complete defeat. At the same time, great attention was paid to maintaining 
control over the Mediterranean, through which petroleum vitally important for 
England was shipped from the Persian Gulf and trade with India and the Far 
East was carried out. 

To maintain control over the Mediterranean, great importance was attached 
to maintaining supremacy in the Red Sea and the Straits of Gibraltar. The leaders 
of England and France agreed that responsibility for the safety of communica¬ 
tions in the western Mediterranean would be entrusted to the French naval com¬ 
mand, and in the eastern part to the English. This made it possible for England 
to concentrate the main forces of its Mediterranean Fleet to protect the Red Sea 
and Suez Canal zone. It intended to shift ships from the Far East to this region. 
Considering the threat to its lines of communications in the Mediterranean from 


95 






Italian naval and air forces, the English naval command also decided to make 
wide use of the roundabout route to India and the Far East past the Cape of 
Good Hope. 

The British Admiralty showed particular concern in protecting its sea lines 
of communications. In 1939 England had about 3,000 oceangoing vessels and 
tankers and around 1,000 coastal vessels; the total tonnage was approximately 
21 million. Each day, as many as 2,500 ships were at sea. 16 These ships needed 
constant reliable protection against attack by enemy surface vessels and sub¬ 
marines. Searching out and destroying enemy ships was entrusted to the cruiser 
forces of the homeland and to the naval forces of the British Commonwealth. 

* * 

* 

Thus, the strategic plans for the initial operations of the western powers 
(France, England, and Poland) had a defensive character. The western powers 
handed over the strategic initiative to the enemy in advance. In planning the 
initial operations, serious miscalculations were made in assessing the character 
of the enemy’s combat operations and in determining the axis of the enemy’s 
main attack. 

Specific Features of the Strategic Planning In England and the U.S. After 
the Defeat of France 

After the fall of France in the summer of 1940 England faced the acute prob¬ 
lem of acquiring new allies, the most probable of which would be the U.S. 
England was seriously threatened by a fascist German invasion of its territory. 
The danger of an outbreak of war with militarist Japan was moving closer and 
closer. This threatened England with the loss of colonial possessions in the Pacific 
and Southeast Asia. The creation of a close Anglo-American coalition became 
a major element in English foreign policy. 

In turn, the U.S. was interested in establishing a military and political alliance 
with England, since it was confronted with the growing danger of Japanese armed 
aggression in the Pacific. The U .S. considered that England might be defeated, 
after which it would be unable to handle the spread of aggression by fascist 
Germany and militarist Japan. Consequently, the entire course of developing 
events dictated the formation of an Anglo-American coalition. 

In the U.S. work had started in the spring of 1939 on strategic plans (the 
Rainbow plans) that foresaw the possibility of waging war simultaneously against 
several nations. In November 1940 President Roosevelt approved proposals by 
the chiefs of staff of the army and navy stating that if America went to war 
with Germany, Italy, and Japan, the European theater of war must be viewed 
as the most vital, while in the Pacific a defensive strategy must be adhered to. 


96 


A start on the development of a coalition strategy by the U.S. and England 
was made at an Anglo-American staff conference that opened at the end of 
January 1941 in Washington. This conference was preceded by extended work 
by the military and naval staffs on each side in determining their position in 
the coming coalition war. At the conference the U.S. proposed the following 
program: 

—The basic mission of the U.S. armed forces in the war is to defend the 
western hemisphere from military and political aggression by any power; at the 
same time, the U.S. will provide all possible aid to the British Empire in defend¬ 
ing its interests; 

—Germany is recognized as the chief opponent in the first stage of the war; 

—In every possible way the U.S. will impede Japanese expansion by diplomatic 
means, but, if war breaks out with Japan, the U.S. will conduct a strategic defense 
in the Pacific during the first stage of the war, focusing its main efforts in the 
Atlantic and Europe. 

Fully accepting the first two points of the American program, the English 
military leaders insisted at the same time that in addition to fascist Germany 
the area of the main efforts by the allied powers should include Italy and the 
entire Mediterranean Basin, the territories making up the zone of English in¬ 
terests. They felt that the decisive attack against fascist Germany should be made 
in the final stage of the war, and that up to that point the main methods of war¬ 
fare should be a sea blockade and aerial bombing. 

As for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the English military command, without 
arguing against the conduct of a strategic defense in these theaters, felt that the 
American navy should assume the defense of British possessions in this region 
and, above all, should hold Singapore as a base for defending India, Australia, 
and New Zealand. 

Assessing the strategic considerations of the English side, the American 
historian Louis Morton wrote: “In essence the English command was requesting 
a guarantee to defend the territories of the British Commonwealth countries and 
the acceptance of the English view as one of the central principles of allied 
strategy . even at the price of abandoning preparations for a decisive attack 
against Germany at the first opportunity . ” 17 Although agreeing with the English 
view on the necessity of holding Singapore, the Americans refused to allocate 
their ships to defend it, justifying this by the danger of weakening efforts in 
the main theater of operations—in Europe and the Atlantic. 

After 2 months of debate the joint Anglo-American staff conference approved 
a compromise decision that came down to the following: 


97 


—“The European theater is the major theater of operations, and victory must 
be won here first. Germany and Italy must be defeated first, and then Japan 
can be dealt with”;" 

—The main efforts are to be concentrated in Europe and the Atlantic; opera¬ 
tions in the other theaters will be conducted in the interests of supporting the 
main efforts; 

—One of the immediate missions is to hold the English and allied positions 
in the Mediterranean Basin; 

—If Japan enters the war in the Far East, a defensive strategy is to be 
maintained; 

—While accumulating strength and preparing for a decisive attack against 
Germany, measures will be carried out for a sea blockade and air attacks against 
it, Italy will be put out of the war, and individual offensive operations will be 
conducted wherever possible. 

The conference also reached agreement that a principal goal of the allied 
powers should be to achieve superiority over Germany in the quantity of strategic 
aviation as rapidly as possible. 

The decision of the Anglo-American staff conference was examined by the 
governments of both nations, approved, and used as the basis for specific strategic 
planning in both the U S. and England. 

In the U S . the last and principal version of the war plan—Rainbow 5—was 
worked out under this decision and approved by the joint army and navy staff 
on 14 May 1941. According to this plan, the following actions were to be taken 
against Germany and Italy: 

“a) An economic blockade using naval, land, and air forces, and all other means, 
including control over the delivery of goods whose sources are under allied con¬ 
trol, as well as the application of sanctions through financial channels or by 
diplomatic means; 

“b) A continuous air offensive against Germany and air attacks against regions 
of other nations under the control of, and providing support to f the enemy; 

”c) The rapid defeat of Italy as an active partner of the Axis powers; 

”d) The use at every opportunity of allied air, land, and naval forces for raids 
and offensive operations of a local character against the Axis armed forces; 


98 



”e) Aid to neutral countries, to allies to England, to nations friendly with the 
U.S., and to inhabitants of territories occupied by the Axis powers in their 
resistance to the enemy; 


“0 The accumulation of the forces necessary for a decisive offensive against 
Germany.” 19 

In the western Atlantic, during the first stage of the war, the American armed 
forces were to defend the territory of the allied nations. In an invasion of this 
territory by enemy forces, the Americans were to support the Latin American 
republics in the armed struggle, as well as defend the coast of the U.S. and 
the islands of Newfoundland, the Bermudas, Jamaica, Trinidad, Saint Lucia, 
Antigua, and British Guiana. The American army was to replace English forces 
on the islands of Curacao and Aruba and in Iceland, and accumulate forces suf¬ 
ficient for a subsequent offensive against Germany. In this zone the navy was 
given the mission of protecting allied sea lines of communications and disrupt¬ 
ing Axis communications. 

In England and its territorial waters U.S. army aviation was to conduct of¬ 
fensive operations against objectives in Germany in cooperation with English 
aviation and was to provide for the defense of the bases used by the U.S. navy 
in the British Isles. For the immediate defense of the British Isles, one rein¬ 
forced regiment was to be sent to England. In British territorial waters the U.S. 
navy, fighting under the command of the English, was to assume the escorting 
of transports on the western approaches to England. The U.S. navy was also 
called in to fight against enemy shipping in the Mediterranean. 20 

In the Pacific the U.S. army was entrusted with defending the Philippines 
and other allied territories, with preventing the spread of Axis aggression to 
the western hemisphere, and with assisting the navy in protecting the sea lines 
of communications and in defending the American coast and islands. 

At the start of the war the U.S. Pacific Fleet was responsible for protecting 
allied sea lines of communications, disrupting Axis communications and destroy¬ 
ing their naval forces, and defending the islands of Midway, Johnston, Palmira, 
Samoa, and Guam; it was to support the allied armed forces in the Pacific zone 
and to divert enemy forces from the "Malayan barrier,”* simultaneously prepar¬ 
ing basing areas in the Caroline and Marshall islands for movement toward 
Manila. Together with the army, die U.S. Asiatic Fleet was to defend the Philip¬ 
pines as long as this defense was possible, and then together with allied forces 
defend the Malayan barrier. 21 The defense of the Philippine Islands was to be 
strengthened by troops and aviation so that the island of Corregidor could hold 
out at least 6 months until the Pacific Fleet arrived. 22 As forces were acquired, 
the U.S. navy would go over to active offensive operations. 

•The so-called Malayan barrier included the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra. Java, and a chain of islands 
running to the east of Java toward Bathurst Island (Australia). Author’s note. 


99 




The Rainbow-5 plan was to go into effect on the first day of mobilizatio.i, 
which could precede the declaration of war or hostile enemy operations. The 
U.S. army and navy departments were given the right to carry out certain 
measures in this plan before the day of mobilization. They compiled the schedules 
of troop transports for the overseas territories, proceeding on the assumption 
that the first day of mobilization would occur not earlier than 1 September 1941. 
The U.S. obligations to England would come into force only after this date. 25 

The initial period of the war in the Far East and in the Pacific, according 
to the Rainbow-5 plan, was thus seen by the Anglo-American coalition as defen¬ 
sive, while the initiative in operations was consciously conceded to the Japanese. 
The switch to the offensive was planned only after the allies had acquired the 
necessary men and equipment. 

Fascist Germany's treacherous attack on the USSR brought fundamental 
changes in the strategic planning of England and. later, of the U.S. This ag¬ 
gressive act eliminated the threat of a fascist German invasion of the British 
Isles. The Anglo-American leadership, following its anti-Soviet foreign policy, 
at first decided to refrain from active operations against the fascist German forces 
in the European theater of war, counting on the mutual exhaustion of the USSR 
and Germany. At the same time this leadership sought to convince world public 
opinion that all the efforts of England and the U.S. were directed against fascist 
Germany. 

In memoranda to the chiefs of staff compiled in 1941, W. Churchill wrote: 

"The main factors in the war at present are the defeats and losses of Hitler 
in Russia... Now, instead of the intended quick and easy victory, he is con¬ 
fronted by a winter filled with major losses in personnel and enormous outlays 
of fuel and supplies. 

"Neither Great Britain nor the U.S. should take any part in these events, with 
the exception that we are obliged with scrupulous precision to provide all of 
the deliveries of supplies that we promised. Only in this manner can we retain 
our influence over Stalin, and only in this manner can we weave the efforts 
of the Russians into the common fabric of the war." 24 

According to these memoranda, no active operations against fascist Germany 
were projected in the strategic plans of England and the U.S. even after the 
defeat of the fascist German forces at Moscow and the start of the war with 
Japan. But the declared scrupulousness in delivering supplies to the Soviet Union 
was not always observed. The main military efforts of the western allies were 
concentrated in the Near East, North Africa, and the Pacific. The repelling of 
enemy blows in the west and east was to be carried out by already existing troop 
groupings of the first strategic echelon, after which mass deployment of the 
armed forces was planned. 


100 



The major capitalist nations' strategic plans for initial operations can be divided 
into two main groups. The first group includes the plans of fascist Germany, 
Itaiy, and imperialist Japan; the second group consists of those of the capitalist 
nations opposing that bloc. 

A distinguishing feature of the strategic plans of the nations in the fascist bloc 
lay in their pronounced offensive character. They were all based on the idea 
of seizing the strategic initiative at the start of the war by making a powerful 
surprise attack against the enemy with all the forces that a nation was able to 
assemble on the battlefield by the time it entered the war. Plans usually called 
for deploying these forces in a single strategic echelon to ensure from the first 
minutes of war total superiority over the enemy in men and equipment and over¬ 
whelming superiority on the main axes. 

Initial operations were considered decisive in achieving the goals of the war. 
These operations were to result in the decisive defeat of the enemy’s ground, 
naval, and air forces. 

Another distinguishing feature of fascist German strategic planning was the 
use of large masses of aviation and tanks for initial operations. They were massed 
on the main axes. 

The specific nature of Japanese strategic planning was determined by the need 
for Japan's armed forces to fight in military operations at sea. The Japanese 
command employed most of its naval ships and the bulk of its carrier-based 
and land-based aviation in the initial operations. They were assigned the main 
role in achieving the first successes. 

The strategic plans for the initial operations of the capitalist nations opposing 
the bloc of aggressive nations were imbued with ideas of defense, calculated, 
as a rule, for a long period. The goal of the deliberate strategic defense was 
to counter blitzkrieg warfare with a drawn-out war to exhaust the enemy. A 
specific feature of France's strategic plan was its call to conduct a stubborn static 
defense on the country’s eastern borders from the start of war. In choosing a 
strategy of defensive maneuver in the Pacific, England and the U.S. foresaw 
the possibility of temporarily abandoning territories and waters under their control 
to the enemy. However, the same goal was pursued in both situations: to under¬ 
mine enemy offensive capability and exhaust enemy potential with drawn-out 
defensive engagements on land, a naval blockade, and air attacks. There was 
to be a simultaneous buildup of men and equipment to deliver a decisive defeat 
to the enemy. 


101 


Notes 


l XVII s”yezii Vsesoyuznoy Kommunislicheskoy part it (bol'shevikov). 10-21 maria 1939 g. 
Stenogrqficheskiy otchet (The 18th Congress of the All-Union Communist Parly (of Bolsheviks). 
10-21 March 1939; A Stenographic Record] (Moscow: Gospolitizdat. 1939), p 14 

2. See Sovershenno sekretno! Tol'ko dlya komandovamya! Dokumenty i materialy (Top Secret! 
For Command Eyes Only! Documents and Materials] (Moscow: (zdatel'stvo "Nauka," 1967), 
p 113. | Hereafte r cited as Top Secret !— US. Ed. ] 

3. htoriyo PoTshi |The History of Poland] (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo AN SSSR. 1958), III. 531. 

4. See D M. Proektor, Voyna v Yevrope 1939-1941 gg. [The War in Europe 1939-1941] (Moscow: 
Voyenizdat 1963), pp. 228-229. (Hereafter cited as Proektor—U S. Ed ] 

5 The table is based on B. Muller-Hillebrand, Sukhoputnaya armiya Germanii 1933-1945 gg 
(The German Army 1933-1945] (Moscow. IzdateFstvo inostrannoy literatury, 1956). II, 11, 
14-15, 54-55, 58-59. [Hereafter cited as Muller-Hillebrand-U.S. Ed.] 

6. See S. Roskill, Flot i voyna [The Navy and War] (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1967), p. 34. [Hereafter 
cited as Roskill—U.S Ed.] 

7. See J. Butler and J. Gwyer, Bol shaya strategiya. lyun ’ 194!-Avgust 1942 [The Grand Strategy: 
June 1941-August 1942] (Moscow. Voyenizdat, 1967), p. 196. [Hereafter cited as Butler and 
Gwyer—U.S. Ed.] 

8. Unin, XLI1, 94. 

9. War World 11 Outline, p. 786. 

10. Hayashi, The Japanese Army in the Pacific, p. 38. 

11. See VazJweyshiye resheniya. Sbomik statey [Major Decisions: A Collection of Articles] (Moscow 
Voyenizdat. 1964), p. 107. (Hereafter cited as Major Decisions—U.S. Ed.J 

12. See Hayashi, The Japanese Army in the Pacific , pp. 50, 51. 

13. See Butler and Gwyer, p. 227. 

14. J. Butler, Bol'shaya strategiya. Sentyabr' 1939-lyun" 1941 [The Grand Strategy: September 
1939-Junc 1941] (Moscow: IzdateFstvo inostrannoy literatury. 1959), p. 72. [Hereafter cited 
as Butler—U.S. Ed.| 

15. Ibid . pp. 31-32. 

16. See Roskill. p. 19. 

17. Major Decisions, p. 69. 

18. Matloff and Snell, p. 50. 

19. Ibid., p. 62. 

20. See Matloff and Snell, pp. 64 , 65. 

21. Ibid. 

22. See F. S. Sherman. Amerikanskiye avianostsy v voyne na Tikhom okeane (American Aircraft 
Carriers in the War in the Pacific) (Moscow Voyenizdat. 1956). pp. 27. 28. 30. [Hereafter 
cited as Sherman—U.S. Ed.] 

23. See Matloff and Snell, p. 65 

24. Butler and Gwyer, p. 246 


Chapter 5. Methods of Strategic Deployment of 
the Capitalist Nations’ Armed Forces 


Strategic deployment in World War II amounted to a set of measures carried 
out by the various nations drawn into the war. These included mobilization 
deployment of the armed forces; strategic concentration of forces in the theaters 
of operations; deployment of the armed forces in the theaters in specific strategic 
and operational groupings and their occupation of initial positions to conduct 
combat operations; and cover for mobilization, concentration, and deployment 
operations against enemy attacks from the air, sea, and land. 

Influenced by the rapid development of the technology for conducting com¬ 
bat operations, the strategic deployment of the main capitalist nations’ armed 
forces assumed new features on the eve of and at the start of World War II, 
while the methods used to carry out this deployment underwent considerable 
changes. 

In accord with established views on the character of a future war as one ex¬ 
erting maximum stress on a nation's material and spiritual resources, concepts 
on the content of mobilization were fundamentally altered in the nations of the 
fascist bloc and among their adversaries. While mobilization had previously been 
regarded only as a conversion of the armed forces from a peacetime status to 
a state of war—as a strictly military mobilization—it now became a universal 
mobilization to prepare an entire nation to supply war needs. This included in¬ 
dustry, agriculture, transportation, communications, science, administration, 
the system for building the morale of the population, and so forth. 

Economic mobilization acquired decisive importance. It was interpreted as 
the organized use of a nation's economic resources to conduct war. Economic 
mobilization required the development of special mobilization plans, according 
to which, at the start of war, many industrial enterprises turning out peacetime 
products would be converted to the production of war materials. 

For the various nations to make use of virtually their entire populations in 
the war, it was necessary for the bourgeois governments to conduct political 
mobilization in advance. With the start of military operations this mobilization 
assumed tremendous scope. Preparing for war and attempting to strengthen the 
home front, the ruling classes launched a frenzied chauvinistic propaganda cam¬ 
paign and, proclaiming the need to protect the nation, carried out attacks against 


103 




society's progressive forces, primarily the communists, who were exposing the 
imperialist character of the bourgeois governments' policy. 

Anticommunism, elevated to the level of state policy in the aggressive na¬ 
tions, was combined with unrestrained racism, ideas of revenge, and a struggle 
for lebensraum. 

Economic and political mobilization measures, closely linked with military 
mobilization itself, were called on to support successful deployment and employ¬ 
ment of the armed forces to achieve the war's political goals. 

1. Armed Forces Mobilization Deployment 

Mobilization Deployment in Germany and Japan 

Preparing for and carrying out mobilization in Germany. Germany ac¬ 
tually began preparations for the mobilization deployment of its army im¬ 
mediately after its defeat in World War I. With the coming to power of fascism 
the pace and scope were greatly intensified. 

The planning to increase the size of the peacetime army started in 1926 with 
the elaboration of the so-called Plan A, according to which there was to be a 
3-fold increase, from 7 to 21, in the number of divisions. In the summer of 
1934 the plan was carried out. In this manner the basis was created for man¬ 
ning the army on the principle of universal military service, which was introduced 
in 1935. By the autumn of 1936 the ground army already had 41 divisions. 

The deployment of the wartime army was carried out under the mobilization 
plan for 1939-1940 and the directives for strategic employment in accord with 
the so-called Weiss plan. 

The mobilization plan of 1939-1940 provided for: 

1) the completion of a number of projects to accelerate and systematically 
carry out mobilization deployment immediately before the war: 

2) the conduct of mobilization, cither total or partial, without an official 
declaration of war (the x version); 

3) the possibility of carrying out mobilization with an official declaration of 
war (the mobilization version). 

The plan envisioned an almost 2-fold increase in the number of divisions (see 
table 3). 


104 




Table 3. Increase in (he Number of Fighting Formations b> Mobilization.' 


Formations 

1937-1938 

1939- 

1940 


Peacetime 

Wartime 

Peacetime 

Wartime 

Infantry divisions 

32 

61 

35 

86 

zMpine rifle brigades 

1 

1 

3 

3 

Motorized divisions 

4 

4 

4 

4 

Light infantry divisions 

1 

i 

4 

4 

Tank divisions 

3 

3 

5 

5 

Cavalry brigades 

i 

i 

i 

1 

Total 

42 

71 

52 

103 


The formation of mobile forces was basically finished by 1938. With the 
declaration of mobilization it was merely a matter of bringing them up to a war¬ 
time level: in particular, logistics units for the tank divisions had to be formed. 
The time needed to convert mobile formations to wartime levels was 12 hours, 
and in the border regions 3 to 6 hours. The same period for mobilization 
readiness, 3 to 6 hours, was required for the regular infantry divisions deployed 
in the border zone. The acceleration in mobilization times was achieved, on 
one hand, by constantly keeping these formations up to levels approaching those 
for wartime and. on the other, by allowing the formations themselves to call 
up reservists and to get needed transport from regions directly adjacent to their 
permanent deployment points. 

The complete mobilization of the infantry divisions was to be carried out in 
so-called waves. The first wave of formations was composed of 35 regular 
peacetime divisions, the second was made up of 16 divisions assembled with 
the declaration of mobilization, the third included 21 militia divisions, and the 
fourth was made up of 14 divisions created from the training battalions, which 
had been greatly increased in 1938. 

The time for mobilization readiness was set for the formations of the first 
wave, except for divisions with a shortened period of readiness, at 1200 hours 
of the second day; and for the newly made up units, at 1200 hours of the third 
day of mobilization. For the divisions of the second, third, and fourth waves 
the time for mobilization readiness was set at 2000 hours of the sixth day of 
mobilization. 

Many of the peacetime formations had an organizational structure that made 
it easy to bring their numbers up to wartime levels without declaring any 
mobilization: for example, this was done under the pretext of calling up reservists 
and assigning transport for exercises. Thus, under the 1939-1940 mobilization 
plan, in the infantry divisions of the first wave, 31 regiments of two battalions 
each were brought up to full levels precisely in such a manner, and reservists 
were used to form a third battalion. This to a great degree contributed to the 
concealed conversion of the army to a wartime status immediately before the war. 


105 









An important role in reducing the time to carry out mobilization was played 
by dividing the regions of complete mobilization and the formation of new units 
in such a manner as to minimize the mobilization transport of personnel and 
materiel, and to create mobilization reserves near the points of organization. 
Dividing the regions strictly by the territorial principle accelerated mobiliza¬ 
tion and contributed to its concealment. 

Of great importance in preparing for mobilization was the conduct of varied- 
scale mobilization exercises and test complete mobilizations, all of which pur¬ 
sued a dual goal. First, with the help of these measures, the effectiveness of 
premobilization and mobilization measures was checked and skills in conduct¬ 
ing a mobilization were developed; and, second, these exercises and test mobiliza¬ 
tions were designed to undermine the vigilance of the population in foreign coun¬ 
tries and in Germany, for the periodic occurrence of these measures gradually 
became customary, and the fears that arose were dissipated. 

Much attention was devoted to the systematic buildup of reservists. Until 1935, 
the training of reservists was concealed through various volunteer paramilitary 
organizations; after 1935, it was conducted under universal military conscription. 

The inclusion of numerous quasimilitary and paramilitary formations in the 
general system of mobilization preparations helped in building up reservists and 
in accelerating the mobilization deployment of the army. For example, with 
the declaration of mobilization, construction units were very quickly made up 
from the youth organization of the Imperial Labor Conscription. They numbered 
around a half million persons. 

On the eve of World War II the system for training reservists in fascist Ger 
many made it possible to fully meet the mobilization requirements for unleashing 
aggressive actions and, during all of World War II. to put about 17 million peo¬ 
ple under arms. This was 24.5 percent of the total population; in World War I, 
13.2 million people (19.7 percent of the population) were inducted into the army. 

Air force flying units and navy crews were deployed in peacetime (see table 4). 

The methods of mobilization deployment for the armed forces in fascist Ger¬ 
many were subordinate to the idea of making a powerful initial at' xrk against 
the enemy at the moment when it least expected this attack. The methods were 
marked by diversity, but had common features in that they were always con¬ 
cealed and were carried out with consideration of the specific military and 
political situation. 

The conduct of partial mobilizations under the cover of limited military 
actions. Local wars and any limited military actions were widely used by the 
fascist nations for a gradual and concealed mobilization deployment of the armed 
forces. For example, fascist Germany carried oul a concealed deployment of 


106 


Table 4. Deployment of the Air Force and Navy Under the 1939-1940 Mobilization Plan. 



the army, using aggressive actions like the anschluss of Austria, the annexation 
of the Sudetenland, the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and so forth. 

The start for creating a system of concealed complete mobilization of the armed 
forces in Hitlerite Germany was established by a directive from Minister of War 
Blomberg on 24 June 1937, in which he demanded: 

1) A guarantee from the German armed forces of constant readiness for 
mobilization until completion of the weapons program and achievement of full 
preparedness for war.... 

2) Further work on mobilization without a public declaration in order to bring 
the armed forces to a state of readiness for the start of a war of any scale at 
the required moment. 2 

The first partial mobilization was conducted in March 1938 under the Otto 
plan (the anschluss of Austria). During this mobilization, two Bavarian corps 
regions, the 7th and 13th, were fully mobilized. It was a sort of dress rehearsal, 
the lessons of which were considered in the subsequent partial mobilizations. 
Fascist Germany conducted a second partial mobilization during the execution 
of the Grun plan (the annexation of the Sudetenland) in the autumn of 1938. 
At this time, full mobilization of the troops was carried out under the pretext 
of calling up reservists for “training courses and maneuvers.” From that time, 
this principle was a permanent element in a concealed mobilization. 











Using these aggressive actions, the fascist command concealed that it im¬ 
mediately brought up to wartime strength 18 new divisions and 5 corps direc¬ 
torates. Organizationally, many formations were close to wartime levels; for 
example, the infantry divisions of the first wave, made up of two-battalion 
regiments, were increased to 24 battalions. At this time, certain artillery and 
special troop units were organized for the infantry divisions. 

During this period, conditions were created for deploying the divisions of 
the fourth wave. 

The increase in the pace of concealed mobilization deployment in a period 
of threat. The pace and scope of mobilization measures grew after the fascist 
leadership of Germany made the decision to attack Poland. These measures were 
carried out under the 3 April 1939 directive “On the Unified Preparation of 
the Armed Forces for 1939-1940.” 

According to this directive, the fascist German command, in attaching decisive 
importance to preempting the enemy in deployment and to securing a surprise 
attack, planned to use in the offensive only regular divisions that had been brought 
up to wartime levels and had taken up the starting position in advance. “The 
operation must be prepared in such a manner,” the directive stated, “that it 
will be possible to act with the forces intended initially, without waiting for 
the systematic deployment of the fully mobilized formations. It is essential that 
these forces secretly occupy the starting positions immediately before the day 
for starting the offensive.” 3 

Mobilization was to be declared at the latest possible time—on the day before 
the attack—and a surprise invasion was to be made to thwart a Polish mobiliza¬ 
tion The first day of combat operations and the first day of mobilization were 
thus to coincide, while combat operations would be started before all the forces 
would be able to concentrate in their starting areas. The units that had not been 
able to concentrate in their starting areas were to be committed to battle in keeping 
with the advance to the planned axes. Reservists called up under mobilization 
in this instance would arrive in their units during combat operations. It was 
assumed that in addition to bringing their units up to wartime levels, reservists 
were also to be used to create units that had not been organized in peacetime, 
for example, logistics support units. Consequently, during the first day of com¬ 
bat operations it would be possible to make use of most of the motorized and 
tank divisions, whose conversion time to wartime levels was 3 to 12 hours, and 
of part of the infantry divisions in the first wave with an accelerated full mobiliza¬ 
tion time. The remaining divisions would reach the area of combat operations 
3 to 7 days after full mobilization. 

Thus, at this time the fascist German command was planning to start the war 
with an invasion army created in advance, that is, in accord with the military 
theory views that were widespread during the prewar years in virtually all nations. 


108 




For such a mobilization deployment, it was very important to carry out as 
soon as possible a whole set of premobilization measures and to secretly bring 
to combat readiness the maximum number of formations assigned for initial 
operations. 

The premobilization period was divided into three stages corresponding to 
the government and military control organs’ three levels of readiness to put the 
planned measures into effect: mobilization readiness, increased mobilization 
readiness, and the start of mobilization. Since there were many measures of 
a premobilization character, over 120 of them, they were divided into three 
groups under the headings “readiness,” “march readiness,” and "support.” 
Depending on the tenseness of the military and political situation, from one to 
the entire group of measures was to be carried out. 

The first group of measures (“readiness”) included activating special telephone 
networks of first precedence; bringing wireless communications to constant 
readiness; strengthening the security service; halting the movement of troop units; 
halting missions and patrols; preparing military storage dumps and issuing am¬ 
munition and supplies; prohibiting leaves, and so forth. 

The second group of measures (“march readiness”) included calling up 
specialists; bringing military units to full combat readiness; preparing fuels and 
lubricants; loading trains with ammunition; sending personnel from peacetime 
units to mobilization areas for new formations; putting into force regulations 
on the higher command organs of the wartime army; bringing previously 
designated troop units and staffs to march readiness, and so forth. 

The third group of measures (“support") included activating special telephone 
networks of second precedence; restricting or stopping border crossings; occu¬ 
pying part of the border fortifications; accelerating preparations for using the 
border troops; secretly fully mobilizing troop units near the border; carrying 
out measures to construct obstacles; preparing to carry out destruction; evacuating 
the civilian population from border regions. 4 

A start was made on carrying out premobilization measures throughout the 
country on 18 August 1939, a week before the date planned initially for the 
invasion of Poland; in East Prussia these measures were already being carried 
out in July. 

From the spring of 1939 intensified efforts were made to secretly bring the 
troops to combat readiness and to put mobilization measures into effect. Thus, 
in May, 6 army commands, 11 army corps commands, and 24 divisions were 
brought to combat readiness. The formation of new divisions, 1 infantry and 
1 tank, was continued. Under the pretext of preparing for the autumn maneuvers, 
at the start of August a partial mobilization was carried out for certain divisions 
of the second and third waves, as well as for units of army and corps subor- 


109 





dination. In East Prussia, from 16 August, concealed mobilization actually 
started, as a result of which the 3rd Army, concentrated there by 25 August, 
was fully ready for operations. By this same date all the mobile formations and 
one-half the infantry divisions of the first wave had been brought up to wartime 
levels, while the remaining formations were being filled out with reservists. 

Thus, in fascist Germany, even before the start of general mobilization, an 
invasion army of 37 formations had been created: 22 infantry, 6 tank, 4 motor¬ 
ized, 4 light infantry divisions, and a cavalry brigade. This corresponded to 
35 percent of the composition of the wartime ground forces, 85 percent of the 
tank forces, and 100 percent of the motorized and light infantry divisions; this 
was 63 percent—almost two-thirds—of the forces allocated for combat opera¬ 
tions in the east, while, according to prewar views, the invasion army was to 
include one-third of the forces being deployed. 5 

Consequently, by increasing the pace of concealed deployment during the 
period of threat, the fascist German army was brought to a state so that, when 
general mobilization was declared, it was necessary merely to finish carrying 
out the measures already planned. 

The conduct of a general concealed mobilization before the start of war. 

Even before the start of military operations the fascist German command car¬ 
ried out in an extremely brief period a general mobilization in the same con¬ 
cealed manner in which the partial mobilizations had been carried out. In addi¬ 
tion, the composition of the ground forces was increased to the numbers deter¬ 
mined beforehand (see table 5). 


As can be seen from the table, the number of divisions in the first and third 
waves remained the same. The number of divisions in the second wave doubled, 
while the divisions in the fourth wave were re-formed. Twenty-two formations 
were newly created. Characteristically, organization of these formations actually 
started on 18 August, on the day premobilization measures began, while the 


Table 5. Increase in the Composition of the Ground Forces After Mobilization (25-31 August).* 


Waves 

Divisions 

Number of divisions 
before mobilization 

Number of divisions 
after moMUzadoa 

1 

Infantry 

35 

35 


Alpine rifle 

3 

3 


Motorized 

4 

4 


Tank 

5 

5 


Light infantry 

4 

4 


Cavalry brigade 

1 

1 

2 

Infantry 

- 

16 

3 

Infantry 

- 

21 

4 

Infantry 


14 


Total formations: 

52 

103 











necessary base for creating the fourth-wave divisions had been prepared, as 
already pointed out, in 1938. 

The signal to conduct the general mobilization was given during the second 
half of 25 August, one day before the intended start of the war. An order was 
given at the same time to put the high command on a wartime status. 

On the same day, because of a number of political and strategic considera¬ 
tions, the invasion of Poland was changed from 26 August to 1 September. 
However, the concealed mobilization and the deployment of forces on the border 
continued. 

As a result of the general concealed mobilization, by 1 September, 108 for¬ 
mations had been fully mobilized (5 formations more than called for in the plan), 
as well as 3 staffs of army groups, 8 army staffs, 20 corps staffs, a large number 
of army and corps units and formations, and a reserve army. The size of the 
army in the field reached 2.3 million men (100 percent), and the reserve army, 
740,000 men (75 percent). 

Thus, the fascist German command in fact abandoned the transition to an of¬ 
fensive by an invasion army, having completed by the start of the war a full 
mobilization deployment of a wartime army. When the aggression against Poland 
was started, Hitlerite Germany threw all the might of its main forces into the 
first attack; the use of these forces had been planned for the first strategic 
operation. 

This principle of conducting combat operations from the start of the war- 
making the first attack with the main forces—became the leading one in con¬ 
ducting the initial operations of the fascist German army in the east and west. 
It came to determine the general character of the entry of fascist Germany into 
the war. 

Specific features of the mobilization deployment of the Japanese armed 
forces. In essence, the methods of the mobilization deployment of the Japanese 
armed forces differed little from those used by fascist Germany, since at their 
basis they had the same aggressive political calculations and approximately the 
same military theory concepts (the theories of blitzkrieg and total war). As in 
Germany, the preparation of the Japanese armed forces for war—in particular, 
mobilization deployment for war—was carried out gradually and secretly. In 
addition, the Japanese military and political leadership unswervingly used local 
wars and military provocations to conduct partial mobilizations, whose pace 
and scope increased on the eve of and during these actions. 

One of the specific features of the mobilization deployment of the Japanese 
armed forces was its noticeable intensification after the signing of the Anti- 


Comintern Pact by Japan (November 1936) and on the eve of the previously 
planned aggression against China (July 1937). 

The gradual deployment of the Japanese armed forces was carried out under 
the 1937 mobilization plan, which called for the creation of an army of 51 
divisions. 


In 1937, before the attack on China, the Japanese ground forces included 17 
infantry divisions and a number of independent regiments and brigades, while 
the air force had 17 air regiments and support units. 

During the military operations against China, Japan, in increasing the size 
of its armed forces, carried out several partial mobilizations. 

In 1937, 24 infantry divisions were fully mobilized, and 16 were moved to 
China. 

Preparing for a major war against the USSR and its imperialist competitors, 
Japan stubbornly continued to further expand its armed forces. Thus, in 1938, 
10 infantry divisions were fully mobilized and new formations were organized. 
In 1939 another 7 divisions were created. 

The number of divisions in the Japanese army over this period increased an¬ 
nually in the following manner: in 1937, there were 24; in 1938, 34; in 1939, 
41; and in 1940, 50. Thus, the 1937 mobilization plan had been carried out 
by 1940.' 

By the start of war in the Pacific the Japanese ground forces had 51 infantry 
divisions and 58 independent brigades.' During the war the Japanese army grew 
tremendously. By the end of the war Japan had 173 infantry divisions, 4 tank 
divisions. 88 infantry brigades, and 6 tank brigades.* 

The increase in ground forces aviation, under the plan approved in 1937, was 
to be from 54 to 142 air squadrons. This was changed in 1939. The Japanese 
military command intended by the end of 1943 to bring the number up to 162 
squadrons. In fact, the co ^position changed in the following manner: there were 
70 air squadrons in 1938, 94 in 1939, 106 in 1940, and 150 in 1941. 10 In all, 
Japanese army aviation numbered 1,500 combat aircraft. 

The navy had 10 battleships, 10 aircraft carriers, 38 cruisers, 112 destroyers, 
and 65 submarines. Naval aviation had 3,702 aircraft." 

By the end of 1941 the size of the Japanese army reached 2.1 million men. 
The size of all the armed forces was 2.4 million men. 12 


112 



Characteristic for Japan was a comparatively low mobilization effort. While 
the number of persons mobilized in World War 11 in fascist Germany equaled 
24.5 percent of the total population, in Japan it was around 10 percent 

Mobilization Deployment of the Polish and French Armed Forces 

Poland. The mobilization system in effect in Poland on the eve of the war 
in many ways lagged behind the mobilization systems in the other capitalist coun¬ 
tries. Poland's mobilization plans were based on a military theory concept that 
held that a future war would start in the same manner, or in almost the same 
manner, as World War I; thus, there would be the “classic” stages of mobiliza¬ 
tion, concentration, deployment of armed forces, and, finally, the start of ac¬ 
tual military operations. 

In truth, the Polish mobilization plan partially assumed a situation where Poland 
could be caught by the enemy unprepared. However, it was still felt—and this 
was the main thing—that Germany, before starting active combat operations, 
would first have to carry out mobilization, concentration, and deployment of 
its forces, and, consequently, would lose a certain amount of time on these 
measures. This would make it possible for the Polish command to detect 
Germany’s preparations for the attack and to take the necessary measures in 
response, even if Germany would be somewhat ahead of Poland in carrying 
out similar measures. Here it was assumed that Germany would, as in World 
War I, carry out an open and not a concealed mobilization, as actually happened. 

The Polish mobilization plan provided for bringing the armed forces to a state 
of combat readiness both throughout the nation and in one or more corps districts. 
In a local conflict, an invasion corps was to be fielded. Mobilization could be 
carried out in two ways: by an outright declaration of mobilization (universal 
mobilization) and by alert after issuance of special call-up cards to reservists 
and to owners of horses, carts, and motor vehicles (concealed mobilization). 

Under the Polish plan, 30 regular infantry divisions, 9 reserve divisions, 5 
infantry and 11 cavalry brigades, and 2 armored brigades were to be fully 
mobilized. All of these formations were part of the so-called line troops. In ad¬ 
dition to the line troops, home guard formations were also to be deployed. March 
battalions were to be created to replenish the line troops. The ground forces 
were to include 7 armies and 4 operations groups. 

Under the Polish mobilization plan, 15 fighter, 9 bomber, and 7 reconnaissance 
squadrons, 12 support squadrons, and 12 liaison aircraft platoons were to be 
deployed, as well as a certain number of auxiliary technical and logistics units. 
The bomber and fighter units were to be at the disposal of the commander in 
chief. 


On the eve of the attack by fascist Germany, the Polish navy consisted of 
a division of destroyers, a division of submarines, a division of minelayers, 
and a group of patrol boats. Ship crews were made up of personnel who had 
served on active duty. With the declaration of mobilization in the navy, aux¬ 
iliary service and supply units were to be organized. 

Under the mobilization plan, a marine brigade, a maritime national defense 
brigade, artillery units, other units, and the garrison of the Helska Point forti¬ 
fied area were to be deployed to defend the coast. 

The size of the Polish armed forces, under the mobilization plan, was to be 
approximately 1.5 million men. 15 

As of 1 June 1959, the Polish armed forces numbered about 440,000 men 
(without the border guard corps). In the ground forces there were 30 infantry 
divisions, 11 cavalry brigades, and an armored brigade. 

The concealed mobilization deployment of the armed forces started in the coun¬ 
try in March 1939, when German-Polish relations took a noticeable turn for 
the worse. However, at this time, it was carried out on a limited scale, without 
sufficient conviction and tenacity.* One of the important reasons for this was 
the Polish government’s fear that by carrying out mobilization measures, it would 
provoke an attack by Germany on Poland. 

On 23 August a mobilization deployment was carried out for most of the for¬ 
mations kept in constant combat readiness. However, this still was not a general 
mobilization, which the Polish government announced after much hesitation on 
31 August—on the day before fascist aggression against Poland. General 
mobilization was proclaimed with a clear delay. By the start of the war, it had 
not been possible to complete the deployment of many formations, particularly 
of the reserve divisions. 

On 1 September 1939 the number of Polish troops in the operational field 
forces of the first echelon was 840,000 (70 percent of the planned number). 

France, The main feature of the mobilization deployment of the French army 
was its virtual completion by May 1940, the start of active combat operations 
in the Western European theater. 

To a certain degree, this was explained by the use of a quite flexible mobiliza¬ 
tion system that had been carefully worked out by the French general staff. This 
system was adopted energetically when fascist Germany's aggressive operations 
directly affected the interests of French monopolistic capital. The French 

•On 23 March a partial mobilization was tarried (Hit. as a result of which four infantry divisions 
and a cavalry brigade were fully mobilized, and the size of the formations was increased in a number 
of districts Moreover, the staffs of four armies and an operations group were created. Author's note. 


1 14 


V 



mobilization plan provided for carrying out a whole set of measures for the 
strategic deployment of the armed forces, including mobilization, concentra¬ 
tion, and cover for the troops. From August 1939, when fascist Germany 
noticeably intensified preparations to unleash war, premobilization measures 
began in France as well at an accelerated pace. 

As General Gamelin stated,* by 27 August, through concealed partial mobiliza¬ 
tions, 848,000 men had been called into the French armed forces; on 27 August 
alone, 725,000 men were called up. By the end of that day, the French armed 
forces had reached a size of 2,674,000 men; thus, in France a covering army 
had in fact been created to conduct the first defensive operations (see table 6). 


Table 6. Increase in the Size of the French Armed Forces After the Concealed Partial 
Mobilization of 27 August 1939. 


Categories of personnel 




Colonies 

| 

Regular 

Called up be lore 27 Aug 
Called up on 27 Aug 

550.000 
825.000 
725.000 

Army 

171,000 
23.000 

28.000 

1 16.000 

865.0(8) 

848.(88) 

725.0(8) 

Total: 

mu 



116.000 

2.438.(88) 

Regular 

Called up before 27 Aug 
Called up on 21 Aug 


Navy 



90.(88) 

12,000 

24.(88) 

Total 





126.(88) 

Regular 

Called up before 27 Aug 
Called up on 27 Aug 


Air Force 



50.(881 

30.(881 

30.(88) 

Total: 





110.(88) 

Grand total 



L_ 


2.674.(88) 


On 2 September, when a general open mobilization was declared in France, 
there were about 92 formations on French territory: 72 infantry divisions 
(regular, reserve, North African, colonial, and fortress troops eaual to 15 divi- 


♦From 1938 General Gamelin was chief of the French general staff, and. with the start of war, 
became commander in chief of the ground forces in all theaters of operations Author’s note 


115 













sions), 3 cavalry divisions, 2 light mechanized divisions, and 40 independent 
tank battalions. 

The ’ phony war'' already under way made it possible for the French military 
command to complete the general mobilization. 

Specific Features of Armed Forces Mobilization Deployment in England and 
the U.S. 

England. The mobilization deployment of the English and U.S. armed forces 
had specific features that were determined by the military doctrines and 
geographic locations of these nations. 

As is well known, according to official military views and strategic plans, 
the English and U.S. ruling circles put the culmination point of their war ef¬ 
forts at the war's end. It was assumed that the mobilization deployment of the 
armed forces would start after these nations had entered the war. The ruling 
English and U.S. political and military figures, in working out the mobilization 
plans, recognized that because of their geographic locations, these countries did 
not have to fear a surprise enemy invasion of their territories. For this reason, 
neither England nor the U.S. kept large land armies in peacetime. England and 
the U.S. devoted a great deal of attention only to enlarging their navies and 
keeping them in combat readiness. In addition, in England, on the eve of the 
war, the air force was being developed intensely. Great importance was also 
attached to national air defense. 

The English navy, by the start of World War II, was one of the most power¬ 
ful in the world and included 12 battleships, 3 battle cruisers, 7 aircraft car¬ 
riers, 15 heavy and 50 light cruisers, 184 destroyers, and 69 submarines. Another 
7 battleships, 19 cruisers, and 6 aircraft carriers were under construction. English 
carrier-based aviation numbered around 500 aircraft, and shore-based naval avia¬ 
tion had 232. 

After the start of World War II, England's principal efforts were concentrated 
on building ships that could be commissioned before 1942. At the same time, 
some of the ships being built for other nations were requisitioned. Great atten¬ 
tion was paid to building auxiliary naval vessels, and particularly to refitting 
merchant vessels as raiders and minesweepers. 14 

The development of the English air force was carried out under a plan ap¬ 
proved in 1938. Its fulfillment was expected not sooner than March 1942. Under 
this plan 163 squadrons (2,549 first-line aircraft) were to be deployed in the 
homeland and 49 squadrons (636 aircraft) beyond its borders. By the designated 
date the home air force was to have 8b squadrons of heavy bombers and 50 
fighter squadrons. 




By the start of the war this plan was tai irom complete. On 1 September ]9^9 
the English air force in fact had 95 squadrons in the homeland (including 37 
bomber squadrons. 39 fighter squadrons, and 19 squadrons of coastal command 
aircraft) and 34 squadrons beyond its borders. In all. by the start of the war 
the English air force had about 3,500 aircraft, including about 1,500 first-line 
aircraft and about 2.000 in the reserve 

The main purpose of the changes made by the start of the war in the plan 
for deploying the air force was to give the advantage in the development rate 
to fighter aviation because of the real threat of direct attacks against England 
by the fascist German air force By September 1940 the fighter aviation forces 
were to be brought up to 60 squadrons, and by 1 April 1941, up to 80 squadrons. 
In fact, during the first 4 months of the war, 18 new fighter squadrons were 
created, and their number was brought up to 57, while bomber aviation had 
37 squadrons. The mobilization plan made provisions that the number of air¬ 
craft would increase to 12,000 by March 1942, and somewhat later would in¬ 
crease by another 5,500. For this it was essential to increase aircraft produc¬ 
tion from 750 to 1,000 a month, and in 18 months up to 2,000 a month. In 
September 1939 the decision was made to expand aircraft production to 2,550 
aircraft a month, including up to 250 in the Commonwealth. Extensive training 
of flying personnel was set up, and, in 1942, the number turned out had already 
reached 60,000 men. 15 

The revision of plans for deploying the ground forces in England started in 
the spring of 1939. In the homeland by that time there were 6 regular and 13 
territorial divisions. The plan was then to double the number of territorial divi¬ 
sions and to bring the composition of the ground forces up to 32 divisions. 

From spring until the start of autumn 1939 the English government hurriedly 
approved a number of legislative acts, whose purpose was to accelerate the 
mobilization readiness of the country and its overseas possessions. Of particular 
importance were laws on compulsory military training (May 1939) and on the 
armed forces; the latter announced on 1 September the introduction of universal 
military service in England. 

These legislative acts, undoubtedly, played a major role in the mobilization 
deployment of the English armed forces. Suffice it to say that they provided 
for the creation of extensive human resources for the new formations. However, 
when on 1 September a general mobilization was proclaimed in England, it turned 
out to be poorly prepared. The problem was that no provision had been made 
to create administrative and supply units for the newly formed formations, there 
were not enough trained military instructors to train the personnel filling out 
the territorial army, there was no logistical base for the deployment of new corps 
and armies, and so forth. 


117 


The new decisions of the English government required still another revision 
of the mobilization plan even after the start of the war. Thus, the deployment 
of the ground forces underwent substantial changes. By the end of the second 
year of the war, by September 1941, under the revised plan, 55 divisions were 
to be fielded, including 32 divisions in the homeland. This meant that at least 
20 divisions had to be created in the first year of the war. 16 

Thus, the English government, although starting to increase the size of the 
ground forces several months before the start of the war, still put its main ef¬ 
forts in this matter on the period after the start of the war, on its first or even 
second year. 

The United States. In the United States' armed forces, as in England’s, the 
leading role was played by the navy. By the start of the war it was the most 
powerful in the world and included 16 battleships, 7 aircraft carriers, 18 heavy 
and 18 light cruisers, 181 destroyers, and 111 submarines. 17 In addition, there 
were 8 battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 4 heavy and 21 light cruisers, 98 
destroyers, and 37 submarines under construction. Naval aviation had 1,885 
aircraft, including about 500 that were carrier-based. 

During the prewar years the U S. lagged far behind the main capitalist na¬ 
tions in the development of its army and air force. According to Army Chief 
of Staff General Marshall, the army had barely Vh divisions scattered in small 
units over the entire nation. The air force, organizationally part of the army, 
consisted of several undermanned squadrons. 

The U.S. actually began to create an army and an air force after fascist Ger¬ 
many unleashed war in Europe. In July 1941, when the United States was still 
not taking part in the war, the U.S. president officially requested figures on 
the armed forces' materiel needs. In September 1941 the war department set 
to work on strategic calculations to determine the size of the mobilization and 
deployment of the American army. These calculations underlay the initial ver¬ 
sion of the so-called Victory Program. 

According to the projections of the joint chiefs of staff, the total size of the 
army by 1 July 1943—when the ground and air forces would be ready “for 
final, decisive modem combat operations”—was to be about 8.8 million men, 
or approximately 215 divisions. Additionally, the army was to consist 
predominantly of air, tank, and motorized formations." 

Of the 8.8 million men in the army, around 2 million were to be assigned 
to the air force, in which 239 air wings (about 63,500 aircraft) were to be created. 

The initial calculations and plans were repeatedly revised and adjusted as U.S. 
political goals and strategic missions became more preci'e. Nevertheless, they 
served as a basis for the quite rapid deployment of the American armed forces, 


118 







X 


particularly after U S entry into the war. The size of the ground forces on 
1 January 1941 was over 1.6 million men; by the end of 1942, it had risen to 
almost 5.4 million men By 1 July 1943 the army had 8.3 million men. 19 In 
1942 the air force numbered 5,042 combat aircraft, including 2,308 heavy 
bombers In 1942 1944, 9 new air armies were organized, including 4 strategic 

aviation armies By the end of the war the U S. had 17 air armies. 

Thus, the U S . although with a great delay, still very energetically carried 
out the mobilization deployment of its armed forces, succeeding during the war 
in creating a large army and a powerful air force. 

2. The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the 
Armed Forces in the Theaters of Operations 

An analysis of the history of war. particularly of the world wars, shows that 
historically two principal methods of carrying out strategic concentration and 
deployment of armed forces in theaters of operations developed 

The first of them consisted in concentrating and deploying forces with great 
speed and in limited periods simultaneously along an entire front, openly and 
even after the start of war This was the method typically used by nations dur¬ 
ing World War I. fully conforming, as it did. to the political aspirations and 
established military theory views of the powers in both coalitions. Although 
the belligerents tried in peacetime to put into effect as many measures as possi¬ 
ble that previously had been carried out only with a declaration of war. the 
strategic concentration and deployment of forces in the theaters of operations 
took place after the start of the war 

Preparing to enter World War II, a number of nations characteristically ear¬ 
ned out tfie concentration and deployment of their forces in peacetime. Moreover, 
concentration was carried out in strict secrecy and lasted an extended time. On 
the other hand, the deployment of forces in starting areas and the creation of 
starting groupings for an offensive or defensive were carried out in brief periods, 
immediately before the start of combat operations. 

This constituted the basic content of the second method of strategic concen¬ 
tration and deployment of forces in theaters of operations. 

The nations that had been unable to carry out the concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of their main forces in peacetime fell into a difficult situation. During the 
first days they could not resist the enemy on the axes of its mam attacks with 
sufficiently strong troop groupings, and at the start of war they were unable 
to repel the enemy’s surprise massed attacks from the air or to resist a deep 
invasion by enemy ground forces into friendly territory. This greatly complicated 


119 







completing the strategic deployment of the armed forces, since it had to be car¬ 
ried out simultaneously with intense defensive battles. 


The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the Armed Forces of the 
Fascist Bloc 

Germany. The methods of carrying out strategic concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of the fascist German army were based on the concepts of blitzkrieg and 
total war. proceeding from which the Hitlerite military and political leadership 
planned the consecutive defeat of its enemies in brief, blitzkrieg campaigns. 
In accord with this, strategic concentration and deployment of the main mass 
of the armed forces was carried out in sequence against one enemy after another * 

The fascist German command's desire to achieve the principal goals of the 
war during the first strategic operations made it necessary to concentrate its 
forces' main efforts on making the first powerful attack. This required concen¬ 
trating the overwhelming mass of the armed forces in the first strategic echelon 
and allocating very limited forces to the strategic reserve. 

The Hitlerite leadership's reliance on surprise attack gave rise to the desire 
to preempt the enemy in concentrating and deploying its forces and to carry 
out these measures in a concealed manner. 

The concentration and deployment of fascist German forces in prepar¬ 
ing for the attack on Poland began at the end of June 1939, 2 months before 
the start of the war. Infantry divisions were moved into concentration areas 
gradually, under the pretext of participating in maneuvers and performing 
engineer work to build border fortifications. 

At the same time, in the central regions of Germany, also under the pretext 
of participating in maneuvers, the concentration of tank and motorized forma¬ 
tions was carried out. The selection for these formations of concentration areas 
so distant from the Polish border pursued a dual aim: first, to conceal froi 
the enemy the very fact of concentration, and, second, to make it easier on the 
forces to make an organized departure from the concentration areas directly 
to the starting areas for the invasion. 

The concentration and deployment of forces in East Prussia started on 6 August 
under the pretext of preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the victory 
of the German army at Tannenberg. Part of the forces were shifted to East Prussia 
from central Germany by sea, while the main forces were being deployed in 
place when the general concealed mobilization was announced on 16 August. 


•At the same time, to accomplish intermediate or auxiliary strategic missions, part of the forces 
were deployed in other theaters; in the spring of 1940. in northern Europe for the capture of Denmark 
and Norway, and in the spring of 1941. in the Balkans for operations against Ci-eecc and Yugoslavia 
Author's note 


120 



T 


By 25 August, because of the fascist German command's efforts, 29 of the 
58 formations assigned for operations against Poland were in the concentration 
areas or already in the starting areas for the offensive. 

Concentration and deployment were then carried out in parallel with the general 
concealed mobilization. By the morning of 1 September, 43 formations—most 
of the main forces of the invasion troops—had already been deployed. 

For the attack on Poland, fascist Germany had concentrated 53 divisions (in¬ 
cluding 6 tank and 4 motorized divisions) numbering over 1.5 million men, 2,800 
tanks, and about 2,000 combat aircraft (see table 7). The main forces (37 divi¬ 
sions, including 4 tank) were deployed in Silesia and the western part of 
Czechoslovakia, the starting point for the main attack. 

During the preparation period for the Polish campaign the Hitlerite command 
deployed a covering army along the western borders with France, Luxembourg, 
and Belgium. Here, in mid-August, under the pretext of participating in building 
defensive works, one regiment each was dispatched from most of the peacetime 
divisions that had been planned for deployment there. Concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of the covering army were completed during the general concealed 
mobilization. 

The forces concentrated in the west at the time numbered 33 divisions. 20 

For the invasion of France the concentration and deployment of the main 
forces of the fascist German army took place under the conditions of a war 
already under way, but at a time of no active combat operations in the land 
theater. The unique conditions of the "phony war" made it possible for the 
Hitlerite leadership first to concentrate and then to deploy against France a power¬ 
ful strategic troop grouping without any interference from the enemy, and to 
make the first attack against it with enormous force. 

The process of creating the fascist German strategic grouping lasted more 
than 8 months. It included several drawn-out stages. 

The first stage (from mid-August until the start of September 1939) consisted 
of the deployment of the covering forces on the German-French border during 
the preparations and conduct of the Polish campaign. The second stage, which 
lasted about 6 weeks (October and the first half of November), encompassed 
the regrouping of the main forces from the east to the west after completion 
of the Polish campaign. In the third stage, from the end of 1939 until the start 
of 1940. an additional mobilization and the organization of new formations were 
carried out, as was movement of the forces up to the assembly areas. 
Characteristically, in this stage the main forces were deployed on a false axis 
toward northern Belgium, where an auxiliary attack was to be made. The fourth 
stage, which came in the spring of 1940, included the concealed regrouping 

121 


1 


T 


Table 7. Army Groupings of Fascist Germany for Conducting Initial Operations. 21 





Number 


Number of Divisions 



Name of army 
group 

Width of deployment 
area, km 

Field armies 

Tank groups 

5 

! 

i 

H 

Motorized 
and light 

Total 

Average number of 
km per division 

Fa-scist 

North 

340 

2 

— 

16 

2 

2 

20 

17 

German 

South 

360 

3 

2 

22 

4 

6 2/3 

32 2/3 

II 

aggression 
against 
Poland 
(1 Sep 

1939) 

Supreme High 
Command 

Reserve 




1/3 



1/3 



Total: 


B 

2 

43 

6 

8 

57 

14 

Fascist 

B 



— 

24 

> 

2 1/3* 

29 1/3* 

17 

German 

A 

170 

3 

1 

35 

7 

3 1/3* 

45 1/3* 

4 

military 

c** 

350 

2 

— 

19 

— 

— 

19 

18.5 

campaign 
in Western 
Europe 
(10 May 
1940) 

Supreme High 
Command 

Reserve 




41 


1 and one 
brigade 

42 and one 
brigade 



Total: 

920 

7 

i 

119 

10 

6 2/3 and 
one brigade 

135 2/3 
and one 
brigade 

6.8 


•1/3—separate regiments 

••Army group C deployed along the Maginot line and at the start of the active missions. 


of the forces from the north to the Ardennes region, the point from which the 
fascist command was preparing to make the main attack. 

The total composition of the strategic grouping of the fascist German forces 
concentrated and deployed by the start of the offensive in the west numbered 
136 divisions, including 10 tank and 7 motorized (see table 7). They were 
equipped with about 2,600 tanks and over 3,800 aircraft. The size of the army 
deployed on the Western Front reached 3.3 million men. The main mass of 
forces was concentrated on the axis of the main attack in an area 170 km wide. 

Forty-two divisions and brigades were left in the supreme high command 
reserve. 

122 












The strategic deployment of fascist German naval forces against the 
western powers and their allies was determined in advance by the plan to 
concentrate the navv's main efforts in the struggle against English naval forces 
and allied merchant shipping on me open seas and oceans Very limited naval 
forces took part in joint operations with ground forces on the European conti 
nent More or less major naval forms were used onlv in carrving out the 
Norwegian operation, md they •vvnmplistv'd ; mportant missions in moving 
troops to the Scandinavian Peninsula, landing amphibious assault forces in 
Norwegian ports, and supporting and covering their operations from the sea. 

Ten days before the attack on Poland the fascist German command sent two 
of its heavy cruisers, the Deutschland and the Admiral Sneer, into the Atlantic 
with the intention that by the start of war they would have passed the line of 
the English blockade. Two special vessels were sent out to supply these ships 
with fuel and provisions at sea. 

From 19 through 29 August, in the Atlantic Ocean (on the western approaches 
to England) and in the North Sea, 39 German submarines were deployed, ready 
immediately at the start of war to attack English ships. 22 All German merchant 
vessels overseas were instructed to leave foreign ports quickly and head to ports 
in Germany. 

On 22 August, more than a week before the start of the war, the German 
battleship Schleswig-Holstein arrived at the port of Danzig, purportedly by in¬ 
vitation of the senate of the “Free City,” and on the following day the Danzig 
fascists seized power in the city. Several light cruisers and destroyers. 7 small 
submarines, and a fleet of minesweepers entered Danzig Bay after the Schleswig- 
Holstein. Later the old battleship Schlesien also arrived here. 25 All these ships 
were assigned to destroy the Polish navy and to assist ground forces in captur¬ 
ing Polish bases and the coast of Danzig Bay. 

Fascist Germany thus carried out the strategic concentration and deployment 
of its armed forces in the theaters of operations in accord with the initial military 
theory concepts and strategic plans. The concentration was carried out secretly 
and gradually, over relatively extended periods. Additionally, the more impor 
tant the enemy, the larger the forces used for the invasion and the longer the 
period of concentration: 2 months before the attack on Poland, and more than 
8 months before the invasion of France. In the final stage the concentration of 
forces practically merged with actual deployment But in every instance the forces 
occupied their starting positions quickly in brief periods immediately before 
invasion. 

Japan. The Japanese command intended to carrv out the strategic conc-'ntra 
tion and deploy ment of its armed forces following the same provisions of military 


123 


theory that had guided the fascist German command. So, to achieve a surprise 
first attack and seize the strategic initiative from the start of the war, the Japanese 
command, like the Hitlerite leadership, shifted all the measures for strategic 
concentration and deployment to the prewar period. 

The concentration of the Japanese armed forces on the eve of the war was 
carried out in accord with the strategic plan and was adapted to the existing 
strategic and operational axes, on which Japan had advantageous forward bases 
and staging areas 

From bases on Taiwan and the Palau Islands. Japan was able to develop the 
offensive against the Philippines, and then against the Dutch East Indies. From 
bases and staging areas on Hainan, in south China, and in south Indochina, Japan 
moved against Malaya, Thailand, and Burma. The Truk Islands, and the bases 
there, made possible Japan's control of a large part of the central and south 
Pacific On the Kurile Island' there were also bases, which made possible the 
conduct of operations on the northern axis. By the start of December the main 
forces of the first strategic echelon of the Japanese ground forces, aviation, and 
navy assigned to the initial operations had been deployed at all these forward 
bases and staging areas u 

The deployment of Japan's main forces for conducting the first operations 
started on 27 November, when a carrier strike force left Hitokappu Bay (Etorufu 
Island) to attack Pearl Harbor On 4 December two troop convoys left the island 
of Hainan and headed toward Malaya and south Thailand. On 6 December the 
Malayan Task Force put to sea from Taiwan. On the same day, the forward 
detachments of the 14th Army assigned to capture airfields in the Philippines 
began to leave Taiwan and the Penghuliehtao Islands, while the invasion forces 
for the island of Guam began to leave the Palau Islands. The remaining forces 
at this time were in the starting areas ready at the first signal to begin the 
offensive. 

Thus, the Japanese military command, like the leadership of fascist Germany, 
was able to carry out a strategic concentration and deployment of its armed forces 
before the start of combat operations. Additionally, the Japanese military leader¬ 
ship selected those strategic and operational axes on which there were already 
bases and staging areas for conducting the first operations. 

Specific Features of the Concentration and Deployment of the Main Forces 
of the Polish and French Annies 

The specific traits in the strategic concentration and deployment of the Polish 
and French armed forces were determined by the anti-Soviet tendency in the 
foreign policy of the western powers and by the defensive character of the 
strategic goals underlying Polish and French plans for conducting the war in 
its initial stage. 







The strategic concentration and deployment of the Polish army. The Polish 
government, despite the threat of fascist aggression that could be seen quite 
clearly in the spring o r 1939. was more prepared for war against the USSR 
than for war against Germany.* Of course, this also explained the Polish govern¬ 
ment's extreme slowness in carrying out defensive measures on the western 
borders and its delay in conducting a strategic deployment of forces against fascist 
Germany 

The first, very timid measures to provide cover for the western borders were 
carried out in March 1939. + However, during the following 5 months the Polish 
government, holding to its anti-Soviet positions, did not undertake any substan¬ 
tial measures to strengthen the troop grouping on the Polish-German border. 

The main troop regroupings provided for by the strategic deployment plan 
were not begun until 26 August, a week before the start of the war. On this 
day, the order was given to move up the fully mobilized formations to the 
designated concentration areas. But the order for the armies and operations 
groups of the first echelon to occupy the starting position was not given until 
30 August. 

The Polish military command fell into an exceptionally difficult situation. In 
an extremely limited period it had to carry out the concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of its troop formations and the occupation of the starting areas and defen¬ 
sive positions at the same time that it was conducting the complete mobilization 
of its forces, which was still unfinished. These difficulties were aggravated 
because many formations had to be moved from the eastern regions to the western 
borders, meaning that rail transport had to be organized across the entire coun¬ 
try at distances of 500 to 800 km 

The delay in the start of the concentration and deployment of the forces and 
the complexity of the conditions under which this was carried out led to a situa¬ 
tion where the Polish command, by the start of combat operations, had been 
unable to complete the creation of the strategic grouping of its armed forces 
called for in the plan. 

For the war against Germany, Poland fielded 57 formations, including 30 
regular and 9 reserve infantry divisions, 5 infantry, 2 armored, and 11 cavalry 
brigades, and approximately 400 aircraft and 220 light tanks. 

♦Almost until the last days before the start of war. more than one half the Polish army 's formations 
were still in the country's eastern regions and were aimed against the USSR, Thus, in the regions 
to the west of Warsaw, including the capital garrison, some 22 formations were quartered, including 
13 regular and 4 reserve infantry divisions, 4 cavalry brigades, and I motorized tank brigade. At 
the same time, in the country \ eastern regions there were 30 formations, including 17 regular and 
5 reserve infantry divisions. 7 cavalry brigades, and I motorized tank brigade (see Proektor. p. 38). 
tAfter partial mobilization started on 23 March, the process began of moving a number of forma¬ 
tions into the border regions to cover the further mobilization deployment of the armed forces. 
In particular, the fully mobilized 20th Infantry Division was moved up to the southwest of Piotrkow. 
and the Nowogrodek Cavalry Brigade moved to the north of Pl<Kk Author's note 


125 





By the tine of the attack by fascist Germany. only 24 of 47 formations had 
completed concentration, and far from all of these had been able to occupy the 
designated starting positions The remaining 23 formations at this time continued 
to advance to the concentration and deployment areas. However, massed at- 
tacks by German aviation against the railroads on the first and subsequent days 
of the war seriously impeded completion of the concentration and deployment 
of these formations. Thus, during the border engagement from I through 5 
September. 18 formations and independent units were in movement. Of them, 
10 arrived at their destinations at the set time. 3 were late, and 4 did not arrive 
at all or were forced to change their unloading stations. 15 Although most for¬ 
mations and units (around 70 percent) took up the designated areas, they went 
into battle from a march formation and were soundly defeated. 

The great delay of the Polish government and military command in the strategic 
concentration and deployment of their forces, which was carried out, moreover, 
very hurriedly and partially under enemy attacK, was one of the main reasons 
for the rapid collapse of the Polish bourgeois-landowner state. 

The strategic concentration and deployment of the French army and the 
English expeditionary’ corps were carred out in full accord with the Anglo- 
French plan for war against fascist Germany. The main forces of the allied troops 
were concentrated on the left wing of the Northeastern Front, where the main 
enemy attack was expected. In addition, while on the right wing of this front, 
to the south of Longwy, the French armies were deployed on lines in direct 
proximity to the enemy, on the left wing of the front, along the Franco-German 
border—on the axis where the main enemy attack was expected—both French 
and English forces were deployed, in effect, in the assembly areas along the 
Franco-Belgian border. The movement of the forces to the main deployment 
line along the Dyle River was provided for only after the invasion of Belgium 
and Holland by fascist German forces. 

The French high command had begun to carry out measures to concentrate 
forces toward the eastern borders of France long before the start of the war. 
As the danger increased, the intensity of these measures grew steadily. However, 
they did not assume an all-encompassing character until the last 10 days before 
the declaration of war. 

One of the first measures undertaken in this 10-day period was to deploy and 
bring to combat readiness the air defense forces. On 21 August the command 
was given to move the air defense weapons to the designated regions. After 
this, on 23 August, the order was given to deploy and bring the entire air defense 
system to combat readiness. On these same days the covering forces began to 
regroup and move up to the deployment lines. Additionally, regular divisions 
of the first echelon of the covering forces were transported in motor vehicles 
directly to the border and brought to combat readiness. On 24 August the regular 


126 



divisions of the second covering echelons were brought to combat readiness 
and began to advance to the border 


On 26 August the forces received a directive from the high command to put 
into effect on 27 August the plan of "universal cover." This meant deploying 
and bringing to combat readiness the forces of the first strategic echelon to con¬ 
duct the initial defensive operations. In accord with this directive, up to 50 divi¬ 
sions were put on alert. At the same time, there were intensive troop movements 
to the concentration areas from the interior districts. 

During the last 10 days before the declaration of war, the concealed deploy¬ 
ment of the English, Belgian, and Dutch armed forces began. On 23 August 
the English command carried out a partial mobilization to bring up to strength 
the formations to be sent to the continent. On 25 August the forward units of 
the fully mobilized formations began to land at Dunkirk. 

On 26 August partial mobilizations started in Holland and Belgium. By 1 
September Belgium had been able to completely mobilize only its peacetime 
army. 

By the time of the declaration of war by England and France against fascist 
Germany, the strategic deployment of the allied armed forces was not yet com¬ 
plete. In particular, only the first two divisions of the English expeditionary 
corps had completed concentration in the assigned area by this time.* The deploy¬ 
ment of the Belgian and Dutch armies had not been completed. However, the 
main mass of French forces had been brought up to the starting areas and had 
an opportunity to enter the defensive engagement in a quite organized manner. 

By the start of war France had deployed 110 divisions. Of them. 85 to 86 
divisions were concentrated in the northeast of France opposite Germany, 10 
on the border with Italy, and the remainder in French colonial possessions (the 
balance of forces at the start of September on the Western Front, not counting 
the Belgian and Dutch forces, can be seen in table 8). 


Table 8. Balance of Forces on the Western Front (Start of September 1939).“ 


Formations and types 
of weapons 

France 

Germany 

Divisions 

85 

31 

Tanks 

2.200 


Aircraft 

1,400-1.500* 

700-800 

Guns 

6,000-7.000 

3.000 


•This included 400 English aircraft to be transferred to France. 


•By January 1940. 5 English divisions had been shifted to the continent, and 10 by May Author's note. 






Taking the 20 Belgian and 10 Dutch divisions deployed into consideration, 
the enormous superiority that the allied forces had over the fascist German army 
at this time becomes evident 

Most of the fascist German forces at this time were on the Eastern Front ready 
for aggression against Poland. Their shift to the Western Front could have 
drastically altered this balance. But, in the first place, fascist Germany, on the 
eve of the invasion of Poland, would hardly have decided on such a step, and, 
second, a comparison between all the forces of fascist Germany and the com¬ 
bined allied forces deployed by 1 September still gave superiority to the allied 
forces (see table 9). 


Table 9. Overall Balance of f orces of Germany and the Western Powers on I September 
1939.” 


Men and Equipment 

Germany 

Allies (France, England, Poland) 

Divisions 

103 

147 

Tanks 

3,200 

4,100 

Aircraft 

2.500 

3,960 

Guns (all calibers) 

10.260 

12,200 


The allied command, however, did not want to make use either of the favorable 
strategic situation or of its advantage in men and equipment to defeat the ag¬ 
gressor. After the official declaration of war with fascist Germany on 3 
September 1939, it began the "phony war,” which contradicted all concepts 
on the character of combat operations in the initial period and all military doc¬ 
trines held by the war’s participants. Confronted with the policy requirements 
of the ruling circles in the allied powers, considerations of an operational-strategic 
character moved to the background. 

By the start of the German offensive in May 1940 the allied command had 
completed the deployment of its armed forces. The divisions fully mobilized 
by this time were deployed in four theaters: 108 divisions were in the northern 
part of Europe,opposite Germany (Northeastern Front); 7 divisions were in the 
southern part of Europe opposite Italy (Southeastern Front); 8 divisions were 
in North Africa and 3 were in the Near East. Three divisions were in Norway. 

The forces of the main Northwestern Front deployed from Switzerland to the 
Belgian border were combined in three army groups. 

The 1st Army Group (the 2nd, 9th, and 1st French armies, the English army, 
and the French 7th Army) consisted of 41 divisions (including 9 English) and 
was deployed from the southern border with Luxembourg to the North Sea coast 
near Dunkirk. 


128 




Taking the 20 Belgian and 10 Dutch divisions deployed into consideration, 
the enormous superiority that the allied forces had over the fascist German army 
at this time becomes evident. 


Most of the fascist German forces at this time were on the Eastern Front ready 
for aggression against Poland. Their shift to the Western Front could have 
drastically altered this balance. But, in the first place, fascist Germany, on the 
eve of the invasion of Poland, would hardly have decided on such a step, and, 
second, a comparison between all the forces of fascist Germany and the com¬ 
bined allied forces deployed by 1 September still gave superiority to the allied 
forces (see table 9). 


Table 9. Overall Balance of Forces of Germany and the Western Powers on 1 September 
1939.” 


Men and Equipment 

Germany 

Allies (France, England, Poland) 

Divisions 

103 

147 

Tanks 

3.200 

4,100 

Aircraft 

2.300 

3,%0 

Guns (all calibers) 

10.260 

12.200 


The allied command, however, did not want to make use either of the favorable 
strategic situation or of its advantage in men and equipment to defeat the ag¬ 
gressor. After the official declaration of war with fascist Germany on 3 
September 1939, it began the “phony war,” which contradicted all concepts 
on the character of combat operations in the initial period and all military doc¬ 
trines held by the war’s participants. Confronted with the policy requirements 
of the ruling circles in the allied powers, considerations of an operational-strategic 
character moved to the background. 

By the start of the German offensive in May 1940 the allied command had 
completed the deployment of its armed forces. The divisions fully mobilized 
by this time were deployed in four theaters: 108 divisions were in the northern 
part of Europe,opposite Germany (Northeastern Front); 7 divisions were in the 
southern part of Europe opposite Italy (Southeastern Front); 8 divisions were 
in North Africa and 3 were in the Near East. Three divisions were in Norway. 

The forces of the main Northwestern Front deployed from Switzerland to the 
Belgian border were combined in three army groups. 

The 1st Army Group (the 2nd, 9th, and 1st French armies, the English army, 
and the French 7th Army) consisted of 41 divisions (including 9 English) and 
was deployed from the southern border with Luxembourg to the North Sea coast 
near Dunkirk. 


128 








The 2nd Army Group (the 3rd, 4th, and 5th French armies), with 39 divi¬ 
sions, occupied the front along the Maginot Line to the region south of 
Strasbourg. 

The 3rd Army Group (the French 8th Army and an independent army corps) 
consisted of 11 divisions behind the Maginot Line up to the Swiss border. 

The reserves of the high command consisted of 23 divisions. They were 
deployed on a broad front in the defensive areas of the army groups: 5 divi¬ 
sions were assigned to support the 1st Army Group, and 12 to support the 2nd 
and 3rd. The reserves for reinforcing the army groups were actually included 
in these groups, and only a very weak reserve of 6 divisions remained at the 
immediate disposal of headquarters. Thus, the main strategic reserves were scat¬ 
tered between the army groups. 

As the combat operations that unfolded showed, such a troop grouping did 
not suit the existing situation, and the scattering of the reserves greatly com¬ 
plicated the strategic regrouping of the forces in the first defensive engagements. 

Hie Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the English and U.S. Armed 
Forces 

On the eve of and at the start of the war the main attention of England and 
the U.S., as major sea powers, was focused on the strategic deployment of their 
navies and the transfer of their ground forces to the starting areas on the coasts 
of the continents and islands in the zone of the planned military operations. 

The strategic deployment of the English armed forces took place in a com¬ 
plicated situation. The immediate danger that hung over England from the fascist 
nations of Germany and Italy required a concentration of efforts by the army 
and navy primarily on the European continent and in the basins of the Atbr'ic 
Ocean and the North and Mediterranean seas. Along with this, Japan presented 
a growing threat to English possessions in the Pacific. 

At the end of August 1939, under a plan worked out previously, the English 
command began to organize an expeditionary army and started to move it to 
the continent for joint operations with the French armed forces. At the same 
time, a combat deployment of the home fleet was begun. Since its starting posi¬ 
tions, under the deployment plan, lay in direct proximity to the main bases, 
by 31 August all the ships were already deployed in wartime positions or were 
on their way. The navy's main forces were concentrated at Scapa Flow (Orkney 
Islands), including a squadron of ships of the line (5 battleships), a squadron 
of heavy cruisers (2 ships), an aircraft carrier, 3 cruiser squadrons (12 cruisers), 
2 flotillas of destroyers (17 ships), and a flotilla of minesweepers (7 units). An 
aircraft carrier was based at Roseneath, a flotilla of submarines (10 units) at 
Dundee, a flotilla of submarines (6 units) at Blyth, and a cruiser squadron (2 



cruisers) and a fleet of destroyers (9 units) at Humber. Two battleships, 2 air¬ 
craft carriers, 3 cruisers, and a flotilla of destroyers (9 ships) were at Portland. 21 

On 27 August the English government brought all its air defense forces to 
full combat readiness. By the start of the war antiaircraft artillery, searchlights, 
and barrage balloons had taken up firing positions in the designated regions; 
fighter aviation was on alert on the ground and in the air, while the air observa¬ 
tion, warning, and communications service was operating around the clock. 

Thus, by the start of the war in Europe, the main part of the English armed 
forces, the home fleet, and the air defense forces had been deployed and brought 
to combat readiness. 

In July 1940 the English chiefs of staff concluded that in a Japanese attack 
on Hong Kong and British Borneo, English forces would be unable to stop the 
enemy. For this reason it was decided first of all to strengthen the defenses of 
Malaya. In 1940-1941 the English command shifted part of its ground forces 
and aviation there. In November 1941 the battleship Prince of Wales and the 
heavy cruiser Repulse were sent to Singapore. However, England could not shift 
to the Far East major forces of its ground troops, aviation, and fleet, since they 
were tied down by military operations in Africa, the Mediterranean, and the 
Atlantic, and also because some of these forces were kept close to home for 
a possible landing by German forces on English territory. The threat of such 
a landing was not eliminated until June 1941. 

The English government was clearly experiencing a shortage of naval forces 
and aviation to defend its possessions in the Pacific. For this reason the govern¬ 
ment considered it best to concentrate its main forces to hold key positions, 
such as Singapore and Hong Kong, and to try to safeguard its lines of 
communications to these bases until the possibility arose to go over to a 
counteroffensive. 

After the well-known Anglo-American staff conference in Washington at the 
start of 1941, the transfer of English ground forces, aviation, and naval ships 
to the Far East was carried out under the agreement reached at this conference. 

The unique strategic deployment of U.S. armed forces was to a certain 
degree determined in advance because, at the outbreak of war in Europe, the 
U.S. formally held a position of neutrality. For example, the U.S. did not in¬ 
tervene in the war between Japan and China, although it provided great help 
to China with deliveries of military equipment and weapons. Considering that 
the war in Europe had already started, and foreseeing the inevitable entry into 
an armed clash with both Germany and Japan, the U.S. was making great ef¬ 
forts to prepare its economy and armed forces for war. Much attention was 
devoted to the production of weapons for the ground forces. 


130 





In the U.S. during the first 9 months of 1941 the output of light tanks in¬ 
creased by a factor of 6. medium tanks by a factor of 5, automatic rifles by 
a factor of 2, and armored vehicles by a factor of more than 2. There was a 
sharp increase in the aircraft production program. The aviation industry had 
orders from the war department for 80,000 aircraft. 2 * Naval construction ex¬ 
panded tremendously. By the start of 1940 contracts had been concluded for 
the construction of 2,831 ships, and in October 346 warships had been com¬ 
missioned and 345 were under construction. In addition, 323 auxiliary vessels 
had been launched. By 1 October, of the 10,070 aircraft ordered for the U.S. 
navy, 4,535 had already been built. 50 

The training of personnel for the army and navy was carried out rapidly, and 
particularly intensely for the air corps. From July through October 1941 the 
number of officers in the air corps rose from 11,000 to 17,000, the number 
of candidates in the flight schools increased from 9,000 to 10,000, and the number 
of enlisted air specialists grew from 127,000 to 180,000. In Octoberaplan was 
approved to increase the number of personnel in the American air force (not 
including naval aviation personnel) to 41,000 officers and 600,000 enlisted men 51 

There were 5,823 pilots serving in naval aviation. Approximately the same 
number of pilots was being trained in the navy’s flight schools. 32 

According to the calculations of the army and navy staffs, of the nearly 8.8 
million men (approximately 215 divisions) called for in the army’s Victory Pro¬ 
gram, 5 million were to be sent overseas. 33 

By August 1941 the U.S. had 29 infantry, 4 armored, and 2 cavalry divisions 
as well as tactical aviation consisting of almost 200 squadrons and nearly 175,000 
personnel. The regular army, its reserves, the national guard, and the new con¬ 
tingents called up into the army under the draff numbered around 1.6 million 
men 34 

According to the Rainbow-5 plan, during the first months of the war the 
American command intended to move 666 aircraft and 220,900 men to overseas 
garrisons, including 44,000 to Hawaii, 23,000 to Alaska, 13,400 to Panama, 
45,800 to the Caribbean zone, and 26,500 to Iceland. By 1 November 1941 
several thousand soldiers were to be sent to the British Isles to work with air 
defense units By l February 1942, 53,200 men from bomber aviation were 
to be shifted to Britain as well 

To defend South America in the event of war, men and materiel were to be 
deployed as follows: 24,000 men and 80 aircraft on its western coast, 86,000 
men and 56 aircraft on the eastern coast In the U.S. an expeditionary army 
was being readied for combat operations (2 corps and 10 divisions). It was to 
be sent overseas 180 days after the start of mobilization 35 


131 



Initially the American command did not plan to strengthen the defense of the 
Philippines, feeling that in a Japanese attack these islands could not be held. 
However, this view changed later. The decision was made to reinforce the 
defense of the Philippines. In July 1941, by a presidential decision, an army 
group under the command of General Mac Arthur was created in the Philippines. 
This group included the American forces and the Philippine army. Immediately 
after that, 425 reserve officers, field and antiaircraft artillery, tanks, and am¬ 
munition were sent to the Philippines. 16 Even before the Japanese attack, the 
U.S. had been able to shift large bomber and fighter aviation forces to the Philip¬ 
pines. At the end of November and the start of December 1941 six transports 
were dispatched with around 9,000 soldiers and officers, aviation and artillery 
equipment, tanks and ammunition. However, these transports did not succeed 
in reaching the Philippines. 31 

At the start of December 1941 the commander of the English squadron and 
the commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, with the consent of their governments, 
decided to divide all the available naval forces into three groups: 1) a British 
group of ships of the line in Singapore (a battleship, a heavy cruiser, and two 
old battleships), reinforced with a Dutch cruiser and Dutch and American 
destroyers, was given the nvssion to obstruct Japanese shipping operations in 
the South China Sea and around the Dutch East Indies; 2) a squadron of cruisers 
(qne British, one Dutch, two American, and four American destroyers) were 
to operate in the triangle of North Borneo—Surabaja—Port Darwin as convoy 
escorts; 3) a group of British heavy and light cruisers and five auxiliary cruisers 
were to protect shipping in the Indian Ocean. These three groups were to 
cooperate with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. 3 ’ 

To this it must be added that the American squadron that had left for Hawaii 
in April 1940 for annual exercises was left in Hawaii for special assignment 
instead of returning to ports on the U.S west coast, as usually had been done. 36 

The deployment of the U .S., English, and Dutch armed forces in the Pacific 
and Far East was of a coalition character. But, while Japan had been able to 
carry out the strategic concentration and deployment of its armed forces on 
selected axes before the start of operations, these countries, by the start of war 
in the Pacific, had been able to carry out only part of the planned measures. 
They were late in the strategic concentration and deployment of their armed 
forces and were poorly prepared to conduct a strategic defense. 

* * 

* 

The strategic deployment of the armed forces of the capitalist nations 
Germany, Japan, Poland, France, England, and the U.S.—on the eve of and 
at the start of World War (I showed that in the end the methods used emerged 
from the policies of the ruling circles in these nations and from the military 
and political goals that they had set for themselves in the armed conflict. These 


132 


methods were directly dependent on the specific theaters of operations and on 
the specific features of the various military theory concepts and military doc¬ 
trines on which plans for the war and its initial operations were based. 

In the development of the art of war, general trends that had been progress¬ 
ing since wars of the remote past were enriched with solid new content. For 
example, in the set of measures employed by governments, such as the strategic 
deployment of their armed forces, the new element in the evolution of these 
trends was that, in the fascist bloc of nations, the strategic deployment of the 
armed forces was actually shifted to the prewar period. Although the powers 
subjected to attack did in fact take steps toward strategic deployment even before 
war began, they were usually late in completing deployment. As a result, adver¬ 
saries entered into war on unequal footing, and the aggressor unquestionably 
had considerable advantages. These advantages were not fatal, however, as 
World War II showed. 

On the eve of and at the start of World War II mobilization took on a new 
character, essentially becoming universal. It embraced the economic sphere, 
the morale and political state of the population, government control, and so forth. 
Military mobilization itself had the leading role in the system of mobilization 
measures. 

In most nations paramount importance was attached to reducing the time needed 
for mobilization measures and to ensuring their concealment. The following 
methods of accomplishing these extremely important missions were typical in 
World War II: 

—peacetime retention of a certain number of formations at near-wartime levels; 

—peacetime retention of a large number of formations at an organizational 
level that made it possible to easily raise them to wartime levels under the guise 
of exercises; 

—designation of formation areas permitting minimum transport of troops and 
the creation of mobilization reserves near the formation sites; 

—inclusion of paramilitary organizations in the general system of mobiliza¬ 
tion preparations; 

—systematic conduct of mobilization exercises and training sessions and the 
maintenance of government and military control organs in constant mobiliza¬ 
tion readiness. 


The chief advantage of concealed mobilization was that it created the possi¬ 
bility to preempt the enemy in strategic concentration and deployment of the 
forces, thus creating the conditions for making a surprise first attack or for a 
high level of readiness to repel one 

Methods of strategic concentration and deployment of armed forces in a theater 
of operations took on new features. While in World War I the concentration 
of forces was carried out rapidly (taking from 2 to 3 weeks) after the declara¬ 
tion of war and after general mobilization, in preparing for World War II a 
number of nations began concentration long before war started and carried it 
out secretly and at a reduced rate without disrupting peacetime transportation 
schedules. The tempo picked up, however, as the start of military operations 
approached. The final stage of concentration merged with the deployment of 
forces, which at an increasing rate turned into extremely important deployment 
operations such as the occupation of initial positions by ceitain groupings to 
prepare for defense or to go over to the offensive. War experience showed that 
precisely such operations opened up the possibility to preempt the enemy at the 
start of combat operations or, in any event, to avoid lagging behind the enemy 
in troop deployment 

On the eve of and at the start of World War 11 an increased role was played 
by measures designed to cover the strategic deployment of the armed forces, 
including their mobilization, concentration in theaters of operations, occupa¬ 
tion of initial positions, and so forth. Entire armies, instead of independent in¬ 
fantry detachments and large cavalry formations, were assigned to cover the 
forces. These armies included tank and mechanized formations deployed near 
the borders before war began Air force units and troop air defense and na¬ 
tional air defense units were essentially used for the same purpose. 


Notes 

I Muller - Hiliebraml. 1. 73. 81, 166 178. 180 183 

2. See Nyumber^skiy prot.stss [The Nuremberg Inal A Collection ol Material*), 2nd ed. 
(Moscow: Gosyuri/dat, 1954). 1. 316 

3 Journal of Military History . 1959. No. 9. p 100 

4 See Muller-Hillebrand. 1, 59 61. 

5. Sec Proektor, p. 27. 

6. Data from Muller-Hillebrand. 1. 73-82, II. 10-23. 

7. See Hatton Tokushiro. Yiifiomya v voyne 1941 1945 ^ (Japan in the War 1941 I945| t Moscow: 
Voyenizdat. 1973), p 86. (Hereafter cited as Tokushiro V S F.d ) 

8 Tokushiro. p 98 

9. See Yaponskiy militarizm (Japanese Militarism) (Moscow: I/datel sivo “Nauka. 1972). p. 228 

10. See Tokushiro. p 86 

11. lbul . p lo3 

12 See J B. Cohen, <ki>tt,stiuku tUp*»n*. (Ine M.lilafj > i Japan] (Mosvow: 

1/dateI sl»« iiKi liann... Iitci.ilurj*. i95l» p 29i 


134 


13 All data on mobilization plan from Istoriya voyennogu dela v Pol she |A History of Military 
Affairs in Poland] (Warsaw: Izdatel'stvo ministerstva nalsional'noy oborony PNR, 1970), pp 
283-284. 

14 See Butler, p 46. 

15 Ibid., pp 53-58 

16 Ibid , pp 47-53 

17. See Morskoy alias (Marine Atlas J (Moscow: lzdatel‘stvo Glavnogo shtaba VMF, 1963), HI, 
Pt. 2, folio 30. (Hereafter cited as Marine Allas— U S. Ed.) 

18 Sec Matloff and Snell, pp 79-82 

19 Ibid., pp. 402-405. 

20 See Muller-Hillebrand, H. 14-15, 21-22. 

21. Data from Muller-Hillebrand, II. 14-15, 54-55. 

22 See Roskiil. p 41. 

23. See V. A. Belli and K. V. Pensin, Boyevyye deysiviya v Allanlike i na Sredizemnom more 
1939-194} gg. (Military Operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean 1939-1945] (Moscow. 
Voyemzdat, 1967), p. 49. 

24. See S. Hayashi, The Japanese Army in World War II, p. 555. 

25. Data from Proektor, p. 80. Istoriya voyennogo dela v Pol’she, pp. 286-287. 

26. See V. 1. Dashiehev, Bankrotstvo straiegii germanskogo Jashizma [The Bankruptcy of Fascist 
German Strategy] (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo “Nauka," 1973), 1, 348, 

27. Ibid.. p. 349 

28 See Roskiil. pp. 24-26. 

29. See Pravda, 9 and 26 Oct. 1941. 

30 See G N. Sevost'yanov, Podgotovka voyny na Ttkhom okeane (Preparations for War in 
the Pacific) (Moscow. Izdatel'stvo AN SSSR. 1962), pp 487, 488. 

31 See Pravda. 3 Dec 1941. 

32. Ibid . 4 Nov 1941 

33 See Matloff and Snell, p 80 

34 Ibid., p 68 

35 Ibid., p 65 

36 Ibid . p 88 

37 Ibid , p 94 

38 See Butler and Gwyer. p 214 

39 Sec Matloff and Snell, p 28 


135 



Chapter 6. The Concealment of Aggression in 
Europe and the Pacific 


Preparing tor a world war to repartition the world and spheres of influence 
and to establish global supremacy, fascist Germany and militarist Japan attached 
exceptional importance to political and operational-strategic concealment of their 
acts of aggression. Adopting theories of total and blitzkrieg warfare and plac¬ 
ing the main emphasis in their strategic plans on the surprise of attack, the 
political and military leaders of these nations attempted to securely conceal their 
true political goals and plans. In each specific situation they attempted to mislead 
the governments and peoples of the nations designated as the victims of their 
aggression and to destroy their victims' capacity for organized resistance. In 
their expansionist aspirations the political and military leaders of the aggressor 
nations resorted to political treachery and violations of standards of international 
law. 

The entire long and complicated system of measures employed to conceal acts 
of aggression focused on achieving surprise in the first attack against the enemy. 
To accomplish this cardinal mission the governments of the aggressor nations 
used every possible method to bring their influence to bear on the enemy. All 
of the government and military control organs and all of the mass media were 
used for this purpose. 

1. Political Concealment of Aggression 

The governments of fascist Germany and militarist Japan, preparing their na¬ 
tions and armed forces for a surprise attack against one country or another, 
assigned a primary role to the political concealment of aggression. This was 
carried out according to carefully elaborated plans that contained coordinated 
political, diplomatic, and military strategic measures to deceive and confuse 
the enemy and to undermine its ability to resist aggression. For example, to 
deceive foreign governments and populations, provision was made for broad 
diplomatic maneuvers, spurious concentrations and trixip movements from one 
theater of operations to another, and so forth Ultimately, these helped to create 
favorable conditions for a surprise invasion of enemy territory and the defeat 
of enemy armed forces in the first operations. 

Political concealment of fascist German aggression against Poland. The 
Hitlerite leadership was fully engaged in concealing aggression against Poland 
in the autumn of 1938 when it artificially created the so-called Danzig crisis. 

136 



"Dan/ig should be German"—under this slogan the fascist German clique began 
a political and diplomatic offensive against the Polish government. In the first 
half of 1439 Hitler repeatedly made provocative speeches against Poland, pouring 
oil on the lire of already tense German-Polish relations. This caused diplomatic 
maneuvering by Poland’s allies. France and England, which was precisely what 
Hitler had counted on. Extensive talks began on a peaceful settlement of the 
German-Polish conflict. They continued right up until the invasion of Poland 
by fascist German forces. During these talks the Hitlerite government supported 
in every possible way the illusions of the Polish, French, and English govern¬ 
ments on the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the differences that had arisen. 

The Danzig crisis, artificially created, allowed the fascist German command, 
behind a smokescreen of diplomatic ballyhoo, to prepare the previously planned 
invasion of Poland. 

The Polish government, observing the gradual buildup of German armed forces 
along its borders, was for a long time confronted with a dilemma: would fascist 
Germany launch an armed attack on the country, or would it limit itself merely 
to threatening to attack to obtain certain political or territorial compensations? 
And what should be done: deploy Poland's armed forces, which could aggravate 
the situation still turther, or delay mobilization until the completion of diplomatic 
talks’ While the Polish leaders, who were more inclined to deploy the army 
but were restrained by their western allies, were vacillating, the Hitlerite leader¬ 
ship. fully determined to attack Poland, completed the deployment of its armed 
forces and selected the suitable moment to make a powerful attack against its 
victim. 

The diplomatic talks organized between fascist Germany and Poland’s western 
allies pursued an additional goal: to keep England and France from intervening 
in the German-Polish conflict, at least for the period needed to conduct the in¬ 
itial operation in Poland. In other words, for the period during which the fascist 
German command hoped to deliver a decisive defeat to the Polish armed forces. 

The same goal was pursued by the diplomatic game with France and England 
started by the German government, with the mediation of Mussolini, literally 
on the eve of the invasion of Poland. Under the agreement between Hitler and 
Mussolini, on 31 August Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ciano transmitted 
to the English and French governments a proposal from Mussolini on calling 
a conference for the representatives of the four powers—Germany, Italy, 
England, and France—to discuss "the difficulties stemming from the Versailles 
Treaty," by which the territorial claims of German imperialism were understood. 
The conference was to be called on 5 September, 

On September 1, the day of the German army’s attack on Poland, the govern¬ 
ments of the western powers, following their Munich policy and trying to reach 
a new compromise agreement with Hitler, started talks tnrough Rome on the 


137 


conditions for calling the conference. On the following day, 2 September, Ciano’s 
emissary in Paris informed French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bonnet that Hitler 
was not against discussing the conditions for calling the conference, but would 
agree to talks only if the English and French notes sent to him did not come 
as an ultimatum. He requested that the decision of the English and French govern¬ 
ments be deferred until his answer at 1200 hours on the following day; however, 
if the notes from these governments came as an ultimatum, he would refuse 
the conference This new diplomatic intrigue not only gained time, it provided 
fascist Germany with an opportunity to once again sound out the positions of 
western allies. Bonnet's reply, transmitted through Ciano, showed that the French 
note would not be an ultimatum, and that the western powers would agree to 
wait for Hitler's answer until 1200 hours on Sunday, 3 September 

Thus, because of the diplomatic farce played out by a previously s-'* plan, 
the German government was able to gam 3 days, during which the Polisn army 
suffered a decisive defeat in a border engagement. During this diplomatic spec¬ 
tacle, it also became clear to Hitler that the western allies would not come to 
Poland’s aid in the following days, and that the fascist German command could 
continue to increase its forces in the east. 

The political concealment of fascist Germany's invasion of France, 
Belgium, and Holland. Political concealment of the war unleashed by fascist 
Germany in Western Europe was essentially the same as that employed in Poland, 
although the diplomatic and propaganda procedures were somewhat different. 

At the bottom of the various political and propaganda moves that covered 
the Hitlerite leadership's active preparations to invade France lay the hope of 
using the anti-Soviet foreign policy of the western powers. This was a play on 
the anticommunist and anti-Soviet prejudices of the French and English leaders, 
who, after declaring war on fascist Germany after the attack on Poland, tried 
at the same time in every possible way to show Hitler that they were ready to 
settle their differences with Germany peacefully, if only he would extend his 
aggression further to the east against the USSR. Anticommunism and anti- 
Sovietism blinded the western leaders. Hitler and his government adroitly played 
on this, using, without a twinge of conscience, diplomatic channels and their 
propaganda apparatus to maintain and strengthen illusions on the supposedly 
peace-loving attitude of fascist Germany toward France and England. 

Even before the war the Hitlerite leadership had started a noisy campaign 
for “eternal” German-French friendship, a campaign carried out under the ban-' 
ner of joining forces against the threat of communism. During the German-Polish 
war, the commotion over the "eternal’' friendship somewhat abated, but then 
was resumed with new strength. It assumed particular scope after the Hitlerite 
government made the final decision to invade France.* The so-called peace 

•The decision on preparing the offensive was made on 27 September 1939. Directive No. 6, on 
the elaboration of the Gelb plan, was dated 9 October of the same yea' Author's note 


138 


offensive against France and England, undertaken by the fascist German leader¬ 
ship in the autumn of 1939, was designed to lull the vigilance of the govern¬ 
ments of these powers during the most crucial period of preparations for the 
invasion. Hitler in his speeches in the Reichstag on 19 September and 6 October 
1939 stated that Germany had no claims against France, and from England ex¬ 
pected only the return of the former German colonies. In September and October 
of the same year active contacts were maintained through various channels with 
English and French supporters of “friendship" with fascist Germany. Hitler’s 
emissaries used these supporters to steadily instill the idea of the possibility of 
an “honorable peace" between Germany and France. 

The psychological offensive of the Hitlerite leadership was also extended to 
the French army, and above all to the forces deployed in the forward positions. 
The "reticence of Germany to fight with France” was proclaimed in numerous 
fascist German propaganda slogans, in leaflets, in fraternization appeals transmit¬ 
ted by radio, and in every other possible way. Under the influence of at least 
three factors—the anticommunist and anti-Soviet hysteria fanned by reactionary 
forces with the help of fascist agents in France itself; the “phony war,” which 
doomed the troops to extended idleness; and, finally, the fascist German 
propaganda—the French army gradually let down its vigilance against the ag¬ 
gressor and lost its combat capability. 

In France these factors gave rise to an atmosphere of confusion, uncertainty, 
and an peculiar lassitude, all of which encompassed the various strata of French 
society. The Hitlerite military leadership made use of this too, gradually mass¬ 
ing men and equipment on Germany's western borders to make a decisive at¬ 
tack on France, Belgium, and Holland. In the spring of 1940 the Germans were 
firmly convinced that their political deception and corrupting propaganda had 
prepared the ground to achieve surprise in conducting the first operations. And 
they were not wrong. 

Political concealment of Japanese aggression in the Pacific. Militarist Japan 
carried out the political concealment of its unleashing of war in the Pacific on 
as great a scale and with no less persistence than fascist Germany. 

The political treachery of the Japanese militarists was known to the entire 
world long before World War II. In 1904 Japan, making use of the recommen¬ 
dation of the naval theorist Mahan to start a war “with a surprise blow to the 
enemy at its weakest point, determined ahead of time.” made a treacherous 
attack on tsarist Russia. And it also unexpectedly and treacherously attacked 
China in 1931 and 1937. 

Making the final decision to unleash war in the Pacific, the Japanese cabinet 
asserted in a session on 1 December 1941 that military operations should begin 
suddenly, without a declaration of war 1 


The concentration and deployment of the ground forces, navy, and air force 
for initial operations in the Pacific were carried out by Japan under the cover 
of diplomatic talks with the U.S. government. The talks continued for 6 months, 
until the very eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, the Japanese govern¬ 
ment. after determining in advance the time for going over to the offensive against 
American possessions in the Pacific, tried in every possible way to convince 
the U.S. leaders of its profound interest in settling the conflicts between the 
two countries by diplomatic means. Thus, a telegram to the Japanese ambassador 
in Washington at the end of November stated, “It is not desirable that you create 
the impression that the talks are halted. Merely state that you are awaiting in¬ 
structions. . . . ” 2 A telegram to the ambassador on 1 December said “.. .To 
avoid excessive suspicion from the United States, we have given instructions 
to announce through the press and other channels that, despite the presence of 
certain major disagreements between Japan and the United States, the talks are 
to continue.” 3 The last Japanese note, which formally broke off the diplomatic 
talks, was handed to the U.S. government 30 minutes before the attack on Pearl 
Harbor. 

Militarist Japan used the deployment of its armed forces on foreign territories, 
in Manchuria, China, and Indochina, to conceal its strategic plans in the Pacific. 
Thus, the more than 2-fold increase (.from 11 to 29 divisions) in the fall of 1941 
in the size of the Kwantung Army stationed in Manchuria immediately killed 
two birds with one stone. On one hand, the Japanese command strengtliened 
its forces designated for use against the Soviet Union, and, on the other, let 
it be known to the U.S. and England that such an increase in the composition 
of the Kwantung Army was supposedly not accidental and was related to prepara¬ 
tions for an attack on the USSR in the near future. The additional mobilization 
conducted by Japan after the invasion of Soviet territory by fascist German forces 
also served to create false notions about the intentions of the Japanese com¬ 
mand to attack the USSR in the summer of 1941. 

In diplomatic displays and in purely military concealment measures the 
Japanese political and military leaders, like the fascist German leaders, were 
counting mainly on the anticommunist and anti-Soviet convictions of tlte U.S. 
and English ruling circles. For example, in making a show of reinforcing the 
Kwantung Army, the Japanese military clique thus seemed to answer the fer¬ 
vent desire of the western powers to direct aggression to the north, against the 
USSR. The vigilance of the leaders of these powers was thus dulled, and the 
political and operational-strategic concealment of the aggression being prepared 
against them achieved its goals. 

In both fascist Germany and militarist Japan particular attention was devoted 
to maintaining secrecy over the details of the plans for the initial campaigns 
and the place and time for the first attacks. 


140 


To prevent leaks of information through diplomatic channels about their ag 
gressive plans, the German and Japanese governments sharply restricted 
diplomatic correspondence on matters related to preparations lor war and 
provided extremely-little information to their allies on their intentions. For ex 
ample, the Hitlerite government kept its allies in ignorance for a long time on 
Germany's actual policy toward the USSR. The information given to Germany 's 
allies did not go beyond the limits of the general plan of issuing misleading in 
formation. Thus, the Romanian government and military circles were informed 
that forces were being concentrated in the east to conceal major operations be 
ing prepared against England. At the same time, it was stressed that increased 
vigilance was required from both Romania and Germany. Finland, which the 
German government trusted more, was fed the notion of supposed preparations 
by the USSR to attack Germany, a notion that assumed the possibility of preemp¬ 
tive operations by Germany against the USSR As for Japan. Hitler ordered 
that no information be supplied to Japan about the Barbarossa plan. Italy was 
in no better situation. Mussolini did not learn from Hitler of fascist Germany's 
intention to attack the USSR until 2 June, and did not learn of his decision to 
start the war until the eve of 22 June from a wordy personal message. 4 

The Japanese government was just as careful in protecting from its allies the 
secrecy of its plans. The plan of aggression and the date of the attack by militarist 
Japan on U.S., English, and Dutch possessions remained unknown to the Ger¬ 
man and Italian governments until the time of the attack by Japanese carrier- 
based aviation on Pearl Harbor. 

2. Operational-Strategic Measures to Ensure Surprise in 
the First Attacks 

In the general system of measures to confuse the enemy about their strategic 
plans, the military and political leadership of fascist Germany and militarist Japan 
gave a prominent place to concealment measures of a strictly military character 
While the main goal of political actions was to keep secret the very tact of the 
aggression being prepared and to prevent the country against which the attack 
was to be made from determining the danger threatening it in time, the conceal¬ 
ment of the content of operational-strategic plans was aimed at hiding from the 
enemy the measures themselves for organizing the aggression- particularly (he 
strategic deployment of the armed forces—the axes of the main attacks, and 
the time of attack. 

In Germany and Japan strict measures were taken to prevent leaks of infor¬ 
mation on plans and strategies from the superior staffs. In the armed forces of 
fascist Germany, for example, the number of persons working on planning 
documents was limited as much as possible. The Japanese military command 
acted in the same manner. Thus, for a long time Admiral t amamoto and one 
or two other officers were the only ones to know ol the plan tor the attack on 


141 


iVarl Harbor. ' The chief of the naval general staff did not learn of this plan 
lor the first time until October 1941. 


However, no matter how stringently measures were carried out to prevent 
leaks of secret military information, there still were ‘‘cracks" through which 
information slipped 

First, the major operational-strategic directives that outlined the plans for the 
initial operations and the missions for army groups, armies, aviation, and naval 
forces were duplicated in a large number of copies. Thus, the Weiss plan was 
printed in 21 copies. Directive No. 21 (the Barbarossa plan) in 9, and the direc- 
uve on the strategic concentration and deployment of forces under the Barbarossa 
plan in 30 copies. Such “generosity" in reproducing important operational 
documents inevitably created the conditions for divulging military secrets. 

Second, the operational-strategic information given in individual directives 
and orders to various formations and field forces was too detailed and com¬ 
prehensive. One striking example of such information was Directive No. 5, which 
I was sent on 11 December 1939 from the commander of the German 2nd Air 

force. General of Aviation Felmi, to formation commanders and staffs. This 
directive disclosed the concept of the Gelb plan (first version) and, in particular, 
indicated that the axis of the fascist German army’s main attack against French 
forces and their allies would cut through Belgium. 4 This directive, along with 
other important documents, fell into the hands of the Anglo-French command. 
Having such important documents, the allied general staffs received a full pic¬ 
ture of the Gelb plan in its first version. 

Both the Hitlerite and the Japanese leadership adhered to the view that in all 
probability it would be impossible to completely conceal preparations for ag¬ 
gression For this reason it was essential to mislead the enemy at least about 
the place, time, and method of operations and to make the enemy hesitate in 
making or modifying operational-strategic decisions. In organizing deception, 
i ( uite successful use was made of the enemy’s prejudices and mistakes in order 
to force it to act in ways advantageous for the attacking side. The specific forms 
and methods of carrying out deception measures depended on the actual military 
and political situation and on the overall plan of concealment. 

The operational-strategic concealment of the invasion being prepared for 
France quite eloquently demonstrated the character and content of the decep¬ 
tion employed by the Hitlerite command. 

After the plan for aggression against France through Belgium fell into the 
hands of the allied command, the German general staff had no doubt that an 
attempt to carry out this plan would eliminate the effect of surprise. This forced 
the Hitlerite command to ciiange its plan tor the initial operations in the west. 
Instead ol making the main attack on the Hanking right wing of the front through 


142 




central Belgium, with a subsequent turn to the southwest, toward Paris, a deci¬ 
sion was made to make a deep divisive attack from the Ardennes through Lux¬ 
embourg to Sedan and then to the northwest, with a subsequent turn toward 
Calais to cut off the northern grouping of allied forces and push them to the sea. 

After making such fundamental changes in the Gelb plan, the concealment 
of the true axis of the main attack assumed for the fascist German command 
the importance of a key strategic mission, with the success of the entire cam¬ 
paign depending on its successful execution. To keep the new plan secret, the 
fascist German leadership worked out and put into effect a whole set of con¬ 
cealment measures that were carried out under a unified plan and under unified 
leadership. The main goal of these measures was to reinforce the Anglo-French 
command in the conviction that the old operational-strategic plan that it knew 
about was still in force, that is, to confirm the command’s opinion that, as before, 
the main attack would be made by the flanking right wing through central 
Belgium. 

One of the main concealment measures was the creation in Army Group B, 
which was to advance through Belgium and Holland, of a powerful troop group¬ 
ing to be concentrated on the axis of the main attack outlined previously. To 
conceal the main strategic grouping (Army Group A), which was to advance 
on the newly chosen axis of the main attack, the concentration areas of many 
formations of Army Group A were designated outside its sector boundaries, 
including in the zone of advance for Army Group B. The divisions assigned 
for the offensive in the first echelon were positioned a great distance from the 
border (150 to 200 km). The starting areas for the offensive were not taken 
up until the day before the offensive. 

To make the concealment measures seem genuine, the directive for the strategic 
deployment of the forces was worked out along the same lines as the first ver¬ 
sion of the Gelb plan. It was issued to the forces at the same time as a prohibi¬ 
tion on conducting any measures related to it until a special order came from 
the high command. But to avoid causing the slightest shadow of a doubt about 
the validity of the first version of the Gelb plan, the Wehrmacht’s generals and 
officers took part in repeated discussions of the plan, and there was no doubt 
that the axis of the main attack against France would be through Belgium. 

To deceive the allied command, or, more accurately, to reinforce its belief 
that the attack would come from the north, various means and procedures were 
used. Thus, among diplomatic personnel in neutral countries and in countries 
friendly to fascist Germany, the opinion was spread that Schlieffen’s ideas (an 
attack by an enveloping flank) were of permanent importance, were eternal, 
and so forth. Over telephone lines, which, as was undoubtedly known, were 
monitored by the enemy, there were "careless” conversations about the con¬ 
centration of German forces against Holland and Belgium. A number of secret 
documents, including documents of particular importance, put forward the idea 


143 




that the main efforts of the German forces were concentrated on the northern 
strategic flank. In similar fashion an order was compiled that the fascist Ger¬ 
man forces would go over to the offensive, and this was announced in all units 
several hours before the start of the operation. There was also a summary of 
combat operations published in the press and broadcast by radio toward the end 
of the first day of the offensive. From these documents only one conclusion 
could be drawn: the fascist German army was making the main attack in the 
north. As for operations in the Ardennes sector, they were mentioned briefly 
in the summary as an event that did not merit particular attention. 

The first days of the fascist German offensive on the Western Front showed 
that the main attack against France and its allies, conducted with large forces 
from tne Ardennes region, was completely unexpected by the French command. 

Thus, the concealment measures employed by the Hitlerite military command 
to cover the invasion of France, including those of a deception character, un¬ 
doubtedly aided in achieving surprise in making the first attacks. 

The methods of operational-strategic concealment and deception employed 
by the Japanese command differed, essentially in no way from fascist German 
methods. The imaginary threat of an armed attack by the USSR on Japan was 
the screen behind which the Japanese military clique hid in preparing opera¬ 
tions in the Pacific. This threat purportedly forced the Japanese militarists to 
prepare for war with their western neighbor. 

Under the influence of active political and diplomatic deception and conceal¬ 
ment measures of an operational-strategic character, the American, English, 
and Dutch leaders came to believe that Japan would start a war against the USSR 
first Thus, on 16 October 1941, when Japanese Prime Minister Konoye retired 
and his place was taken by General Tojo, the chief of staff of the U.S. navy, 
Admiral Stark, assured the commanders of the Asian and Pacific fleets that there 
was serious danger of war between Japan and the Soviet Union. 7 On 1 October 
the English commander in chief in the Far East and the commander of the naval 
base in China reported to London that ‘‘Japan at present is concentrating its 
forces against Russia and cannot suddenly change this orientation, having directed 
its main forces to the south.... We emphasize that at present Japan would least 
of all like a military campaign in the south Such information coincided 

completely with the English government’s desires and assessment of the situa¬ 
tion. and at this time the English did not undertake extensive defensive measures 
against Japan. Its position did not change in November 1941, when data ap¬ 
peared on the transfer of Japanese forces from north Indochina and Canton to 
the south, and from Shanghai to south Indochina. The supposition that Japan 
would not begin military operations in the south, particularly against England 
and the U.S. at the same time, underlay all British policy in the Far East. A 
consequence of this opinion was the equanimity and complacency of England's 
political and military leadership in providing for the defense of its Far Eastern 
possessions. 


144 


The American military command was also caught up in the net of extensive 
Japanese deception measures. This is confirmed because the final maneuver of 
the Japanese fleet heading for the Hawaiian Islands and the South Seas remained 
unnoticed by American intelligence. In truth, due must be rendered to the 
Japanese command, because this maneuver was performed with great skill. 

Like the invasion by fascist German forces into France through the Ardennes, 
the first attacks by the Japanese armed forces against Pearl Harbor, the Philip¬ 
pines, and Malaya were unexpected by the western powers. 

3. Effectiveness of Measures to Ensure Surprise in the 
Attack 

That fascist Germany and militarist Japan were able to achieve a surprise at¬ 
tack against their enemies in no way meant that the opposing side knew nothing 
of the political goals and strategic plans of the aggressor nations and, con¬ 
sequently, could not in some manner eliminate the surprise of aggression. This 
did not mean that the surprise of the first attacks was a consequence of just the 
concealment measures. The paradox was that often the leaders of the nations 
subjected to aggression knew even on the eve of war about the enemy’s strategy 
and plans, possessing more or less reliable information, for example, on the 
composition and grouping of the aggressor’s forces, on the axis of its main at¬ 
tack, and even on the time of attack. Consequently, these leaders had the op¬ 
portunity to take specific countermeasures to nullify the efforts of the aggressive 
powers in achieving a surprise attack. However, such opportunities were not 
used. 

This paradox can be explained because in the complex military and political 
situation on the eve of World War II, the political leaders of the allied powers 
were guided more in their actions by preconceived views and spuriously con¬ 
stituted schemes and hypotheses than by a sober assessment of the situation and 
the conclusions following naturally from it. In the specific activities of the western 
leaders, on whom at this time the fate of war and peace largely depended, one 
could distinctly note the prejudice of permanently fixed ideas. This prejudice 
had a clearly expressed class character and was rooted in the notorious Munich 
policy. This led to a situation where valuable intelligence data on the strategic 
plans of fascist Germany and imperialist Japan were distorted and misinterpreted 
The conclusions from these data were often in flagrant contradiction to the situa¬ 
tion that actually existed. As a result, the governments of the allied powers had 
to pay for this prejudice with a crushing defeat of their armed forces in the in¬ 
itial period of the war, with difficult-to-recover losses in personnel and military 
equipment, and with the loss of enormous territory. 

Due must be rendered to French intelligence. On 20 September 1939, during 
the military operations in Poland, it had established the start of major movements 
of fascist German forces from the east to the western regions of Germany. From 


145 



ft 


this, French intelligence concluded that Hitler and his staff did not intend to 
continue military operations in Eastern Europe at this time, and that the danger 
of aggression was shifting to the west. The chief of French intelligence, General 
Gauchet, also informed the French high command quite accurately about cer¬ 
tain features of the aggression unleashed against Poland. He stated that the 
Germans were employing combat methods such as preliminary massed air at¬ 
tacks against fortified regions, lines of communications, and other vulnerable 
areas of enemy defenses; neutralization of enemy ground forces during the first 
moments of the attack; and an offensive with large tank divisions given the mis¬ 
sion of penetrating deep into enemy positions without taking up intermediate 
positions, thus not giving split and encircled units the chance to go over to the 
defensive. 

Proceeding from this, Gauchet proposed that a memorandum be drawn up 
for French army officers that would generalize the experience of the war in 
Poland. To this proposal, the commander in chief of the French forces, General 
Gamelin, replied that France was not Poland and that Germany would not employ 
against France the methods that it used in Poland. Gamelin thought that 
dissemination of the memorandum would only cause anxiety in the people. The 
general made a serious error. On the fields of France, Belgium, Holland, and 
Luxembourg, the fascist German forces employed the same combat methods 
used in Poland. 

French intelligence, with a good network of agents on German territory, had 
fairly completely discovered the grouping of fascist German forces by the start 
of the offensive (see table 10). 


Table 10. Composition of German ((roupings by the Start of the Invasion of France 
(Actual and According to French Intelligence Data).’ 


Name of army 
groups 

;-..— 

Actual composition 

of groups 
(in divisions) 

— 

Composition of army 
groups according lo 
French intelligence 
data 

Error in determining 
number of divisions 

Army Group B 

29 

27 

-2 

Army Group A 

45 

45 


Army Group C 

19 

20 

+ 1 

High Command Reserve 

42 

45 

+ 3 

Total 

135* 

137 

+2 


•In addition, there were three separate regiments. 


French intelligence went even further in assessing the enemy, having drawn 
the correct conclusion about the axis of its main attack. The French felt that 
the attack would come to the north of the Moselle River in approximately the 
area between Limburg and Luxembourg. This conclusion was reinforced by 
the detection of the main forces of the fascist German tank and motorized divi¬ 
sions to the east of these cities. However, the French ruling circles and the French 

146 


t 



supreme high command ignored the data coming from their intelligence an < 
did not consider its conclusions. With great stubbornness they held to their con¬ 
viction that the fascist German forces would make the main attack through 
Belgium. No facts or arguments could shake this conviction. When the com 
mander of German Army Group B. Colonel General Bock (who at one time 
had had great doubts about the advisability of shifting the mam attack through 
the Ardennes), learned on the first day of the offensive about the start of th 
Anglo-French forces' advance toward the Dylc River, he noted in his diary 
"So then, the madmen are really coming!" 10 

Nor was the fascist German command able to conceal the time of the start 
of the invasion from allied intelligence. The approximate date of the start of 
the attack was known to the allies as early as March 1940. and somewhat later, 
the final date of 10 May was known. Nevertheless, the higher military and 
political leadership in none of the countries of the Anglo-French bloc was able 
to make use of this information. Evidently, here, in addition to the political prej¬ 
udice of the allied leaders, a certain role had been played by the lowering of 
vigilance under the effect of the fascist German command’s concealment 
measures calculated especially to conceal the actual time of the attack. The 
Hitlerite command changed the time for the start of the invasion of France 29 
times. In one way or another these repeated shifts became known to the general 
staffs and the governments of the western powers, who gradually grew ac¬ 
customed to them, and the vigilance of the military and political leadership in 
these nations was lulled. When, on the eve of the Hitlerite attack, the agents 
of the Anglo-French bloc transmitted numerous reports on the fascist German 
forces moving up to the French border, this was seen as another attempt to 
unleash a "war of nerves." These reports were disregarded. 

It is difficult to deny the purely psychological effect of such concealment 
measures, hut at the base of the biased views and convictions of the ruling circles 
in the western powers there were, all the same, political motives. This can be 
seen again by the response of these circles to the Hitlerite leadership's next at 
tempt at deception, which was made literally on the eve of the act of aggression 

On 8 May. 2 days before the fascist German forces went over to the often 
sive, German and Italian radio broadcast an announcement that a British con 
spiracy aimed at an invasion of Holland had been discovered. At the same time, 
reports on the movement of two German armies toward the Dutch borders wer 
harshly denied as "ridiculous rumors," supposedly spread by "English in 
stigators of war" to distract attention from the invasion in preparation for this 
country. In response to this, the French ruling circles, still clinging to a polic\ 
of “appeasement," took emergency measures to prevent undesirable incident 
on the border, while the Belgian government, to prove that it did not believe 
the "ridiculous rumors." restored a 5-day army leave. Thus, no matter how 
strange it might seem, the leaders of the nations in the Anglo-French bhx . in 
stubbornly refusing to recognize the facts, greatlv aided fascist Germans in 
achieving a surprise attack againM its enemies 


I 17 


Of approximate!) the same character was the conduct of high American offi¬ 
cials on the eve of the surprise attack hv the Japanese fleet and aviation on Pearl 
Harbor 


At least as of 27 November 1941. when the talks with Japan had reached a 
deadlock and it had become clear that war could not be avoided, the American 
military command, it seemed, should have sharply increased preparations to 
repel aggression to prevent, at the very least, a surprise attack on U.S. Pacific 
possessions. This w'as particularly so since the military command had intelligence 
data on the real possibility of such an attack. For example, in January 1941 
the American ambassador in Japan. Grew, informed the State Department that 
in Japan plans were under way for “a surprise massed attack on Pearl Harbor 
in the event of ‘difficulties' with the U.S.” 11 In September 1941 American in¬ 
telligence noted a great increase in diplomatic correspondence between Tokyo 
and the Japanese ambassador in the U.S. and between Tokyo and the Japanese 
consulate in Hawaii. This correspondence was decoded and provided direct 
evidence of Japan's aggressive intentions in the Pacific and, in particular, of 
its intended aggression against Pearl Harbor. However, this intelligence infor¬ 
mation was viewed as not of particular importance because it provided, as it 
seemed to the American military command, ordinary espionage information. 
This was affirmed later by Army Chief of Staff General Marshall. 12 

After 27 November 1941 the U.S. army and navy commands restricted 
themselves to merely warning the forces of a possible Japanese attack on the 
Philippines, Thailand, and Borneo and gave instructions to take measures against 
enemy sabotage at military installations. The U.S. armed forces were not even 
brought lo a state of increased combat readiness, while the army and navy com¬ 
mands did not even suspect an attack by the Japanese fleet and aviation on Pearl 
Harbor. 


As is well known, this attack, a surprise, took place and caused enormous 
losses to the U.S. navy. 


* 


* 


* 


World War II showed that the nations of the fascist bloc, in preparing to unleash 
aggression, attached paramount importance to concealing a surprise attack against 
their enemies The methods of concealment w ere subordinate to strategic plans. 

Measures to conceal aggression were no longer in the scope of military con¬ 
trol organs alone. Government agencies took over the lion's share, making ex¬ 
tensive use of reconnaissance and counterintelligence, diplomacy, and all of the 
mass media for this purpose 


The main attention was concentrated on ensuring surprise in making the first 
attacks, which meant keeping secret the strategic deployment of the armed forces. 


148 








the plan for (he initial operations, the axis of the main attack, and the time o! 
attack. 

The diversity and complexity of conducting concealment measures required 
coordination, precise planning, and centralized leadership by government and 
military organs. 

The headquarters for operational direction of the war under Supreme Com¬ 
mander of the Armed Forces Hitler served as this organ in fascist Germany. 
Hitler was both the head of state and the leader of the Nazi party. In Japan these 
functions were performed jointly by the high command of the army and navy 
and by the ministry of foreign affairs under the general supervision of Prime 
Minister Tojo. 

In concealing their strategic plans, fascist C rmany and militarist Japan 
assigned the main role to political and diplomatic . aneuvers. These maneuvers 
were designed to lower the vigilance of the governments and people of the na¬ 
tions against which aggression was planned, thus ensuring the surprise of the 
first attack. Additionally, the leaders of the aggressor nations and their govern¬ 
ments had no qualms about the political and diplomatic means used to influence 
their enemies. This arsenal included anticommunism and anti-Sovietism, political 
treachery, blackmail, flattery , manipulation of conflicts between nations and 
of the people's desire for peace, exploitation of the political prejudice of leaders 
of the western nations, and so on 

In the system of measures to ensure surprise in the first attacks, there nas 
a considerable enlargement of the role played by deception of the enemy This 
role assumed unprecedented scope 

World War ll showed lhat political and operational-strategic measures to con¬ 
ceal aggression had a great influence on achieving surprise in the first attacks 
and contributed to the success of the aggressive nations in achieving the goals 
of the initial operations. 

At the same time, despite the use of refined methods ol concealment, con 
eealment was not able to keep totally hidden either the strategic plans of fascist 
Germany and militarist Japan or the process of their entry into war As a rule, 
the intelligence agencies of the powers against which aggression was being 
prepared managed to find out about the aggressor's plans and to determine the 
character and extent of most of the enemy's strategic deployment activities. 

Finally, fascist Germany and militarist Japan were assisted in achieving sur 
prise in the first attacks against their enemies because of the western powers' 
policy of tolerating aggression and directing it against the USSR. This policy 
was stubbornly pursued by the western powers and was a result of their leaders' 
biased approach to appraising the enemy’s strategic plans. 


149 


Notes 


1. Sec Major Pensions, p. 119. 

2. Chlo procoshlo v Pirt-Kharbore. Dokumenty o napadenii Yaponii na Pirl-Kharbor 7 dekabrya 
1941 gtxlti. Perevttd s angliysktrgo. |What Happened at Pearl Harbor: Documents on the Japanese 
Attach on Pearl Harbor 7 December 19411, translated from the English. (Moscow: Voyeniz- 
dat. 1961). p 68 IHereafter cited as What Happened at Pearl Harbor—V S' Ed 1 

3. Ibid 

4 See Top Secret' , pp. 186-190 

5. See What Happened at Pearl Harbor, p. 286. 

6 See V. Dashichev, "Meshelenskiy intsident i nemetskiy plan razgroma Frantsii" j 'The Mechelen 
Incident and the German Plan for the Defeat of France"). Journal of Military History. 1959. 
No. 3. p 50 

7 See Major Decisions , pp. 113-114. 

8. Butler and Greyer, p. 219 

9. See V. Dashichev. “lz istorii bor’by impenalisticheskikh razvedok" l“From the History of 
the Struggle of Imperialist Intelligence Agencies"), Journal of Military History, 1964, No. 
1, p. 107. 

10 Proektor. p 266 

11 Sherman, p. 14. 

12 See What Happened at Pearl Harbor, p, 212. 


150 



I 


Chapter 7. Fascist Germany’s Plans in the War 
Against the USSR. Strategic Deploy¬ 
ment of the Armed Forces 


Fascist politicians and strategists regarded the war against the Soviet Union 
as the decisive step in their struggle to gain world supremacy. The Hitlerite 
leadership set a goal not simply of defeating the Soviet Armed Forces and seiz¬ 
ing our country's territory, but also of eliminating the Soviet social and state 
structure and destroying the world's first socialist nation. Preparing for the war 
against the USSR, the leaders of fascist Germany compiled the so-called Ost 
plan, which stated that "it is not just a matter of defeating the state with Moscow 
as its center The achievement of this historical goal would never mean total 
solution of the problem. It is more a manner of destroying the Russians as a 
people, of disuniting them.'' 1 

The war between fascist Germany and the Soviet Union thus became an un¬ 
compromising armed confrontation between nations representing opposite 
socioeconomic systems In other words, it became an openly class war. It raised 
to full view the question of whether or not there was to be a nation of workers 
and peasants, a Soviet socialist society. 

To achieve their political goals and strategic plans in the wav against the 
socialist nation, the Hitlerite leaders mobilized the entire economy of fascist 
Germany and ol almost all the conquered European nations, called on tremen¬ 
dous human resources, and employed a multimillion-man army trained in military 
campaigns and armed to the teeth with modern combat equipment. 


I. Strengthening Fascist Germany Before the Start 
of War With the USSR 

The successful military campaigns against Poland, France, and a number of 
other nations greatly strengthened fascist Germany economically and militarily. 
Almost every country that was annexed, occupied, or fell into the sphere of 
German influence had various minerals necessary to wage war. Thus, Austria 
had iron ore. Czechoslovakia had manganese, iron pyrite, and wood. Poland 
had coa’, iead. and copper. Romania had oil. Hungary had bauxite, lead, and 
zinc. France had coal, iron ore, and bauxite, and so forth. 


151 


Germany's position was greatly strengthened also because it annexed vast ter 
ritories on which millions of people lived (see table 11). 


table II.- 


Date 

<rf 

»anv 

Areas annexed 

b> German* 

Total 


a 

h 

a 

b 

a 

b 

1 Sept 1919 

582.279 

76.426 

48.001 

7,485 

631.180 

81.91 1 

1 June 1941 

680.871 

89.940 

217.8.15 

27.428 

898.707 

117.168 


key a—area, sq km 

b—population, 1.000 persons 


As follows from the table, in 1 year and 9 months, merely because of the 
annexed regions. Germany’s territory was enlarged by more than 217.000 sq 
km. Its population increased by more than 27 million. 

Of great importance for the military and economic strengthening of fascist 
Germany was its seizure in the occupied countries of enormous reserves of 
stockpiled strategic raw materials and the use of the industrial capacity in these 
countries for war needs. In the first 7 months of World War II, Norway, Holland, 
Belgium, and France had stockpiled in their port hundreds of thousands of tons 
of metal, fuel, rubber, raw materials for the textile industry, and so forth, and 
all this was now in the hands of the fascist German army. 

Industry in these countries was well supplied with raw materials even before 
the war and could meet large German orders for an extended time. Germany's 
production base for iron and steel was greatly expanded because the coal mines, 
ore mines, and steel mills in Holland, Belgium, France, and Poland were 
delivered up to fascist Germany virtually intact. Germany thus obtained an ex¬ 
ceptional opportunity to develop its economy at the expense of major enterprises 
in the occupied countries. This did not take long to show up in the indicators 
for German economic development (see table 12). 


Tabli- 12. * 


Commodit) 

1919 

1941 

Coal, million Ions* 

112.8 

404.3 

Iron 

17.5 

24 1 

Steel 

22 5 

11.8 

Oil 

3.0** 

4 8 


♦Data for coal for 1938-39 and 1940-41 
♦♦Data for 1938 


152 


4. 


J 

d 








1 he military .nut c\uiiomk poicnti.il ot i.imim Germans nav supplemented 
by enormous amounts ot captured weapons, combat equipment. and transport 
The fascist Germans retained the militate equipment ot t> Norwegian. 18 Dutch, 
22 Belgian. 12 Knglish. and 42 French die isioris Some 42 fascist German divi¬ 
sions were supplied with captured motoi transport 4 

Germany was thus quite successful in following the rapacious principle of 
"war feeds on war " 

The combat might of the fascist German army was virtually unaffected by 
the loss of personnel and combat equipment incurred from I September 1939 
until the start of the Great Patriotic War, so insignificant v this loss. During 
this time the losses of the German armed forces were 97,i36 men killed and 
missing in action—3 percent of the army's personnel ' These losses were less 
than one-third of the losses suffered by the fascist German forces during the 
Red Army counteroffensive at Stalingrad. Losses of combat equipment were 
equally small, while the expenditure of ammunition was quite insignificant (see 
table 13). 


Table 13. • 



Available ammunition 

F a pended ammunition from 


on 1 April 1940. 

1.000 units 

ID Mas thru 20 June 1940 



1,000 units 

% 

For mortars (81 mm) 

For light infantr> 

4.577 

4S‘I 

10 

weapons (75 mm) 

For heavy inland. 


txi 

6 

weapons ( 150 min) 

For light field how it- 

70X 

x: 

ti 

zers (105 mm) 

For hea\> field how it 

IK.970 

t.-tbt 

i 

zers ( 150 mm) 

.VXD 

(>40 

17 


From the table it can be seen that the expenditure of large caliber artillery 
ammunition ranged from 6 to 11 percent of the available supplies. 


Preparing for war against the Soviet Union, fascist Germany continuously 
increased allocations for war needs. While in 1939 its military expenditures 
amounted to 37 billion marks, in 1940 the figure was 49 billion marks, and, 
in 1941, 71 billion marks. This was 58 percent of the national income. 7 The 
size of the fascist German armed forces grew and they received more equip¬ 
ment. The leadership devoted particular attention to the development of the 
ground forces and aviation, the branches of the armed forces that were to ac¬ 
complish the main missions in the war (see table 14). 


153 





Table U.» 


Name 

I September IMS 

1 May 1940 

1 June 1941 

Total divisions 

10.1 

156 

214 

Including 

Tank 

s 

10 

21 

Motorized 

4 

6 

14 

Tanks 

1.200 

1.187 

5,640 

Aircraft 

4.405 

5.900 

10,000 


At the same time, the combat equipment of the fascist German army under¬ 
went substantial qualitative changes and aircraft and tanks were rapidly replaced. 
In the wars against Poland and in Western Europe light tanks (T-l and T-2) 
made up 70 to 85 percent of the fascist German tank force. Before the start 
of war with the Soviet Union the number of light tanks in the fascist German 
army declined to 35 percent of the total. 

By the start of the attack on the USSR, fascist Germany had been able to secure 
for itself a very advantageous strategic position. The defeat of France, Belgium, 
and Holland, and the drastic weakening of the military might of Great Britain 
after the defeats it suffered, meant that Germany did not have to show particular 
concern for its rear area in the west. Moreover, the U.S. was still not in the 
war and so did not represent a real obstacle to carrying out German imperialism’s 
aggressive plans. By occupying Norway and by turning Finland into an ally, 
the Hitlerites firmly secured their northern flank; by seizing Yugoslavia and 
Greece, and by turning Bulgaria. Romania, and Hungary inton their vassals, 
they strengthened their southern flank 

The military might of fascist Germany was undoubtedly strengthened by the 
combat experience acquired during the engagements in Europe. This might was 
also strengtnened by a weii-known psychological factor: the aura of invincibility 
that surrounded the fascist Wehrmacht after the easy victories in Western Europe. 
At the same time, not only the leaders of fascist Germany, but also many politi¬ 
cians in the western powers, assumed that there were no forces in the world 
that could stop the invincible advance of the fascist military machine. The fascist 
politicians and strategists were confident that this machine, tested out on the 
battlefields of Europe, would crush the Soviet Union. 

2. The Plans for the Initial Operations Under the 
Barbarossa Plan 

Fascist Germany prepared for war against the Soviet Union more carefully 
and purposefully than it had for war against any other nation. In essence, the 
campaigns against Poland, France, and other powers were merely stages on 
the path :i a decisive clash with the USSR. "We can move against Russia," 


154 




said Hitler at a meeting with the leaders of the armed force*; on 23 November 
1939, "only after we have freed ourselves In the west."* 

Hitler and his stooges had long been hatching the idea of attacking the USSR 
and putting an end to its existence. The final decision was made to go to war 
against our country in July 1940, soon after the surrender of France. It was 
then that the Hitlerite uenerals heean workinn out their war plan. 

Planning the attack on the Soviet Union, the fascist German command in¬ 
tended to achieve victory in the same manner as over Poland and France, in 
a single rapid campaign. The confidence of Hitler and his allies in the possibil¬ 
ity of a blitzkrieg defeat of the USSR was based on a number of false assump¬ 
tions about the international and internal situation of the Soviet nation. 

The fascist German government felt that in a war with Germany, the Soviet 
Union, because of the anti-Soviet policy of the western powers, would be 
politically isolated and unable to obtain either external political support or 
economic and military aid. This alone, in the assumption of the fascist leaders, 
was supposed to put the Soviet Union in an extremely difficult situation and 
provide Germany with enormous military advantages. 

The fascist rulers of Germany put even greater hopes on the instability of 
the social system of the Soviet nation. They felt that with the first failures on 
the front, the hidden contradictions that allegedly existed between the workers, 
the peasants, and the intelligensia, and between the different peoples living in 
the Soviet Union, would inevitably lead to open internecine struggle, to the 
disorganization of the government, and to the collapse of the nation. In plan¬ 
ning the war against the USSR, a decisive role was given to this factor. 

The entire course of subsequent events showed the baselessness of the Hitlerite 
leadership s plans. The fascist ringleaders, under the sway of traditional no¬ 
tions about the backwardness of tsarist Russia, did not understand the fundamental 
sociopolitical, economic, and cultural changes that had taken place in our coun¬ 
try after the Great Octobei Socialist Revolution. The moral and political unity 
of the Soviet nation and its solidarity around the Communist Party, the solid 
ties of friendship between the Soviet peoples, and Soviet patriotism seemed 
merely propaganda slogans devoid of any real content The Germans were 
extremely skeptical of the ability of the Communist Party and the Soviet govern¬ 
ment to raise up and inspire tens of millions of workers and peasants of dif¬ 
ferent nationalities to fight 

To a great degree the plan for a brief campaign against the USSR derived 
from the Hitlerite leadership's underestimation of the combat capability of the 
Soviet Armed Forces. The German general staff knew that the Red Army and 
Navy were undergoing major reorganization and rearmament. For this reason 
Hitler was convinced that for a certain period the combat capability of the Soviet 


155 


Armed Forces would be at a low level and that in a clash with the German armed 
forces the Soviet Armed Forces would not withstand the powerful initial attack 
and would be quickly defeated. At the same time, the leaders of fascist Ger¬ 
many felt that the reorganization and rearmament of the Red Army could, over 
a certain period, greatly increase its combat capabilities. Hitler hurried the general 
staff in preparing the eastern campaign. As early as July 1940, he declared, 
“The sooner we defeat Russia the better. ’ 10 

This idea underlay the plan for war against the USSR (the Barbarossa plan), 
as set forth in Hitler’s Directive No. 21 on IS December 1940. It began with 
the words, “The German armed forces must be ready to defeat Soviet Russia 
during a brief campaign even before the war against England is ended.” 11 

Speaking at a meeting on 9 January 1941, Hitler again stated that “although 
the Russian armed forces are a clay giant without a head, it is nevertheless im¬ 
possible to precisely foresee their further development.’’ 12 In any event, he con¬ 
tinued. Russia must be defeated now, “when the Russian army is devoid of 
leaders and poorly prepared, and when the Russians must overcome great dif¬ 
ficulties in their military industry." 13 Additionally, he advanced the opinion 
that “even now we must not underestimate the Russians.” 1 * From this he con¬ 
cluded that for a war in the east it would be essential to allocate a maximum 
of forces, which only Germany was capable of mobilizing, and to throw all 
of them simultaneously into battle to defeat the Red Army in a minimum of 
time. “The operation will only make sense,” asserted Hitler, “if we defeat 
the nation with a single blow." 15 

Though quite blinded by the successes of the German armed forces in Europe 
and by a clear underestimation of the defense capability of the Soviet Union, 
the Hitlerite military leadership could not avoid taking into consideration the 
enormous extent of the Soviet-German Front and the vastness of the USSR’s 
territory. It also considered the real possibility of active resistance by the Soviet 
Armed Forces. For this reason, preparing for war against our country, the fascist 
German command planned to achieve the campaign's ultimate goals not in one 
strategic effort (one strategic operation), as had been done in Poland, and not 
as a result of two strategic operations conducted sequentially, as in France, but 
in three stages of development of military operations, each of ’ hich 
represented a set of strategic operations carried out simultaneously by groups 
of armies 

In the first, decisive stage of war the main forces of the Red Army were to 
be defeated in the border zone and Soviet forces were not to be allowed to retreat 
beyond the Western Dvina and Dnepr rivers. In this stage the Baltic republics 
and Leningrad were to be captured, in the second stage a rapid pursuit of the 
remains of the defeated forces was to be undertaken, and, as the Hitlerite 
strategists assumed, the scattered resistance of the limited reserves being moved 
up from the nation’s interior would be smashed. By the end of the second stage 


Moscow and the Donets Basin were to he taken. In the third. Final stage the 
fascist German army was to reach the line of Arkhangelsk, the Volga, and 
Astrakhan, with the occupation of vast Soviet territory. 

According to the final version of the Barbarossa plan, the concept for the in¬ 
itial operations was based on the idea of the surprise use of large numbers of 
aircraft and tanks to make a series of deep, powerful attacks on a number of 
axes along the Soviet-German Front, thus cutting the front into parts, isolating 
from one another the strategic groupings of Soviet forces deployed in the Baltic 
republics, Belorussia, and the Ukraine, and destroying these forces before 
reserves of the Soviet High Command could arrive from the country’s interior. 
In Directive No. 21 (the Barbarossa plan) the overall concept for achieving Ger¬ 
many's military and political goal was expressed as follows: 

"The main forces of the Russian ground troops, which are in western Russia, 
must be destroyed in bold operations with deep, rapid advances by tank 
spearheads. The retreat of combat-capable forces into the vast expanses of the 
Russian territory must be prevented. 

“By rapid pursuit a line must be reached from which the Russian air force 
will be unable to attack the imperial territory of Germany.... 

"During these operations the Russian Baltic Fleet will quickly lose its bases 
and so will be unable to continue the struggle. 

"Effective operations by the Russian air force must be prevented by our power¬ 
ful attacks at the start of the operation." 16 

Taking consideration of the enormous extent of the Soviet-German Front, 
the fascist German command made a decision in the first stage of the campaign 
to carry out, simultaneously, three major strategic operations, each of which 
was to develop on a separate strategic axis: the Leningrad, Smolensk, and Kiev. 
These operations were to begin by making three deep, divisive attacks with the 
following maneuver: in the center of the front, a maneuver on converging axes 
to encircle the forces on the Western Front in Belorussia and to simultaneously 
split them into parts; on the flanks, a maneuver on diverging axes to cut off 
and drive the forces on the Northwestern Front toward the Baltic coast while 
encircling the forces on the Southwestern Front in the Lvov salient. 

Consequently, in contrast to the campaigns in Poland and France, in the in¬ 
itial operations on the Soviet-German Front the Hitlerite leadership intended 
to use a complex combination of three simultaneous strategic operations and 
an entire array of strategic maneuvers, which consisted of a series of 
simultaneous, deep frontal attacks developing into a maneuver to envelop large 
groupings from two sides, cut them off from one another, and, at the same time, 
split each of them into parts. 


Planning the initial operations, the Hitlerite strategists felt that it was essen¬ 
tial. no matter what the cost, to defeat the main Soviet forces at a point west 
of the Western Dvina and Dnepr rivers. The chief of the army general staff. 
General Haider, pointed out in a report to Hitler that “.. . German planning 
should use tank spearheads to help to prevent the Russians from creating a solid 
defensive front to the west of these two rivers.” 17 

Under the Barbarossa plan, th<* fascist German forces were to deploy on a 
front of almost 2,000 km, from Memel to Izmail. and were to be brought together 
in three army groups: North, Center, and South. The strongest was Army Group 
Center (the 4th and 9th field armies, the 2nd and 3rd tank groups), assigned 
for the offensive on the Smolensk axis. Here, in the Hitlerite command’s opin¬ 
ion, the Red Army had to concentrate its main forces both at the start of the 
war and in its subsequent stages, when the threat to Moscow would arise. 

Army Group Center, after concentrating its main efforts on the flanks, had 
the mission of encircling and destroying the grouping of Soviet forces in 
Belorussia. The tank groups operating on the flanks, in developing the offen¬ 
sive along convergent axes, were to link up near Minsk, and then continue the 
offensive to the Dnepr, cross it from a march formation, and reach Smolensk. 

Army Group South (the 11th, 17th, and 6th field armies, the 1st Tank Group) 
was to advance to the south of the Pripet River in the general direction of Kiev. 
Its mission was to destroy the Soviet forces in Galicia and the western Ukraine 
to the west of the Dnepr River. During the offensive, crossings had to be seized 
quickly on the Dnepr near Kiev and to the south of the city, thus creating the 
conditions to continue operations to the east of the Dnepr. The tank group was 
to cut rapidly into the region around Kiev, and then, by advancing along the 
Dnepr, was to prevent the retreat of Soviet forces to the left bank of the river. 

Army Group North (the 16th and 18th field armies and the 4th Tank Group) 
received the mission to advance from East Prussia in the general direction of 
Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Pskov, and Leningrad, destroying Soviet forces in the 
Baltic republics and seizing ports on the Baltic Sea. In addition, the German 
forces, to obtain favorable conditions for a successful advance on Leningrad, 
were to prevent combat-capable Soviet forces from retreating east from the Baltic 
republics. 

In planning the first operations, the fascist German command attached primary 
importance to the tank groups. The 2nd and 3rd tank groups from Army Group 
Center were to play the decisive role in encircling Soviet forces in Belorussia, 
while the 1st and 4th tank groups, which were part of Army Groups North and 
South, were to carry out the role of tank spearheads during the maneuver to 
cut off the forces on the Northwestern Front in the Baltic republics and those 
on the Southwestern Front in the Ukraine. 


! 58 



The armed forces of Germany’s allies Finland and Romania were to take part 
in operations on the strategic flanks of the Soviet-German Front. In the first 
strategic operations they were to carry out individual missions by going on the 
offensive on separate operational axes and tying down the Soviet forces in the 
area of their operations. 

The first strategic operations would be to a depth of 500 to 600 km, and on 
certain axes to an even greater depth. Each army group conducted offensive 
operations on a separate strategic axis. The cooperation between army groups 
was of an operational-strategic character. 

The ground force offensive was to be carried out in close cooperation with 
the air force. Army Group North was supported by the 1st Air Force, Army 
Group Center by the 2nd Air Force, and Army Group South by the 4th Air 
Force. The main aviation efforts were concentrated on fighting enemy aviation 
and providing direct support for advancing ground forces. 

Planning the war against the Soviet Union, the Hitlerite leadership also foresaw 
operations by the fascist German navy. The navy’s main mission remained the 
struggle against England on the sea lines of communications. The navy was to 
take a direct part in the war against the USSR by supporting German lines of 
communications on the Baltic and Barents seas and by blockading the Gulf of 
Finland—thus carrying out comparatively unimportant missions. In the strug¬ 
gle against our navy, the fascist German army and air force were assigned the 
chief role, since they were to capture ports and naval bases from the land. 

The strategic plans developed by the Hitlerite leadership for the first strategic 
operations against the USSR, in proceeding from a flagrantly erroneous assess¬ 
ment of the international and internal situation of the Soviet nation, were thus 
constructed with the use of temporary, extraneous factors in the war. However, 
in the planning to unleash aggression against the Soviet Union, and in the direct 
preparation of this aggression, it is impossible not to see a number of impressive 
features, in particular, the carefully conceived system of measures to ensure 
a surprise attack and the careful elaboration of operational plans. 

3. The Strategic Concentration and Deployment of the 
Fascist German Forces 

In planning and carrying out the strategic concentration and deployment of 
its forces for aggression against the USSR, the Hitlerite commmand relied on 
the same military theory provisions and consequent strategic principles that it 
had put into effect in the wars against Poland and France and France's allies. 
However, in planning and carrying out troop concentration and deployment 
against the USSR, there were unusual and very important features. Not before 
any other campaign in World War II had the Hitlerite command found it 


159 


y 





necessary to regroup so many troops and so much equipment as before the in¬ 
vasion of the USSR. More than 140 German divisions and over 30 Romanian, 
Finnish, and Hungarian divisions had to be shifted to our borders, and the avia¬ 
tion of 3 air forces had to be rebased from the west to the east. And this did 
not count the equipment, weapons, ammunition, and units of the high command 
reserve. 

A characteristic feature in the concentration and deployment of the fascist 
German army along our borders was that this had to be carried out, and was 
carried out, when there was a nonaggression pact in effect between the USSR 
and Germany. On the other hand, the regrouping of forces to the Western Front 
(against France) took place under the conditions of a war already declared. The 
Hitlerite leadership resorted to outright political treachery, having stressed the 
nonaggression pact with the USSR, and in its complex preparations for war 
against our country placed a great emphasis on the political and operational- 
strategic concealment of aggression. This assumed unprecedented scope. 

Finally, concentration and deployment of troop formations against the Soviet 
Union were undertaken with benefit of the already sufficiently rich experience 
in large troop regroupings acquired by the fascist German command during the 
perpetration of acts of aggression in Europe, starting in 1935. This made it possi¬ 
ble for the various military control organs directly responsible for redeploying 
the forces to carry out the redeployment so secretly, which could be done only 
in the specific military and political situation of the prewar period. 

In time and content, the process of concentrating and deploying the fascist 
German army against the Soviet Union can be roughly divided into two main 
stages. 

The first stage encompassed the period from July 1940 through January 1941 
The main feature of this stage was the advance of a sort of covering echelon 
and its deployment on the territory of East Prussia, Poland, northern Norway, 
and Romania. 

During the first stage, the staff of Army Group B, 3 field army staffs (the 
4th, 12th, and 18th), a tank group staff, 12 corps staffs (including 6 tank), and 
the so-called military mission in Romania—44 divisions in all, including 8 tank— 
were concentrated in the east. 

The second stage, which lasted from February 1941 until the start of the war, 
consisted of the concentration and deployment of the main forces along Soviet 
borders. 

During these 4 months the fascist German command transferred 113 divi¬ 
sions. This transfer was divided into five so-called deployment echelons (see 
table 15). 


160 


Name of echelon 

Number of 
divisions 

in echelon 

Time of 

movement 
by rail 

Duration of 
movement of 
echelons, 
days 

Average rate 
of transport 

First echelon 

8/1 

4 Feb—12 Mar 

36 

1 division 
in 4.5 days 

Second echelon 

18 

16 Mar—8 Apr 

24 

1 division 
in I.S days 

Third echelon 

16 

10 Apr—10 May 

30 

1 division 
in 2 days 

Fourth echelon 

47/28 

25 May-22 Jun 

28 

I.S—2 divisions 
per day 

Fifth echelon 
(strategic reserves) 

24/3 

after 22 Jun 

-- 

-- 

Total 

113/31 





Note. The numerator represents total divisions; the denominator, tank and motorized. 


The transfer to the east of the enormous mass of personnel, combat equip¬ 
ment, weapons, and ammunition was carried out under a carefully elaborated 
plan. From 1 February through 25 May the railroads operated on a peacetime 
schedule, but from 25 May a wartime schedule went into effect. In other words, 
the troop transfers accelerated approximately a month before the war. The follow¬ 
ing were accepted as transportation standards: 70 trains for 1 infantry division 
and 100 trains for 1 tank division. Because of the insufficient capacity of the 
railroads, many mobile formations moved to the concentration areas under their 
own power, but the tracked equipment of these formations was still transported 
by rail to save engine life. The traffic schedule was so rigid that loaded trains, 
by decision of the railroad administration, could be sent back if they were not 
unloaded on time. 


Provision was made that all military cargo would be placed in the starting 
areas for the offensive as close as possible to the border, while the troops were 
unloaded and concentrated at a relatively great distance from the border. In addi¬ 
tion, the closer the time of the attack approached, the closer the unloading sta¬ 
tions were set up to the border. While the first deployment echelon was unloaded 
at stations along a line through Danzig and Katowice, 150 to 180 km from the 
border, the second echelon was unloaded at stations along a line through 
Konigsberg, Warsaw, and Tamow, 80 to 100 km from the border, and the third, 
at stations along a line through Allenstein and Radom, 60 to 80 km from the 
border. The fourth deployment echelon was unloaded at approximately this last 
position. 




















The infantry divisions, which were 7 to 30 km from the border, and the tank 
and motorized divisions, which were 20 to 30 km away, were moved up to the 
starting areas secretly during nighttime movements in the first half of June. 

The advance of the fourth echelon to the designated areas, in completing the 
concentration of the main forces for making the first attack, was the most crucial 
stage of strategic deployment. The so-called maximum movement schedule went 
into effect. This in fact signaled the open concentration of the main forces along 
the Soviet border. This could still be explained by resorting to all sorts of lies, 
but it could no longer be concealed. 

The transfer of forces in the fourth echelon of the deployment was carried 
out in two groups. The forces in Group A, which moved up from 12 May through 
9 June, included a number of infantry and motorized formations, all the ground 
and air force units, the logistics units for the ground forces, and units of the 
supreme high command reserve. The advance of the forces in Group B, which 
lasted from 2 June until the start of the war, coincided with the concealed com¬ 
bat deployment of the formations moved up earlier. At approximately the same 
time, the tank and still undeployed motorized formations took up the designated 
areas. 

The concealed advance of the assault groupings into the starting areas for the 
offensive ended the strategic deployment. Only the last several days before the 
invasion were allotted to this, and the advance was planned so that these group¬ 
ings would approach the border the night before the offensive and remain there 
for just several hours. The fascist German assault groupings for the drive against 
France had deployed in approximately the same manner.” 

The departure of the infantry formations to the starting areas of the offensive 
was undertaken 12 days before the start of the war; the tank and motorized for¬ 
mations began to move out 8 days later. The infantry divisions moved to the 
border at night under cover of the fortified battalions previously positioned there. 

Fascist German aviation also moved closer to the border. As early as the spring 
of 1941, fighter and organic aviation occupied airfields 40 km from the border, 
while bomber aviation was not further away than 180 km. The concentration 
of most of the flying units on the airfields ended by 18 June. Some air units 
arrived on the eve of the day of the offensive. 

The advance and deployment of the staffs were carried out last, as had been 
the practice in the fascist German army on the eve of the invasion of Poland 
and France. Before the attack on the USSR, the staffs of units at the operational 
level that had taken up their assigned positions were concealed as branches of 
troop control organs that had been in place for a long time and whose location 
was no secret to Soviet intelligence. The shift of these staffs to the deployment 


162 




areas of the subordinate formations was carried out on the eve of the invasion, 
starting at the moment the tank forces arrived at their positions. 


The Hitlerite command thus attached extremely great importance to the final 
stages of strategic concentration and, particularly, deployment of the troops. 
The fascist German army's initial assault groupings were formed in these stages, 
and the forces were brought to full combat readiness. 

The fifth, and last, deployment echelon, which was made up of the strategic 
reserves (24 divisions), moved forward and was committed to battle once war 
had already begun. 

Including these strategic reserves, from the start of February until 4 July 1941, 
61 infantry and 29 tank and motorized divisions, a large number of supreme 
high command reserve units, ground and air force units, logistics units and in¬ 
stallations, and other special units were shifted to the borders of the Soviet Union 
between the Baltic and the Carpathians. It took 11,784 trains (200,000 cars) 
to move these forces. 

In ail for the attack on the Soviet Union, fascist Germany fielded from the 
ground forces 1S2 divisions (including 19 tank and 14 motorized) and 2 indepen¬ 
dent brigades. These formations numbered 3.3 million men. If air force (1.2 
million men) and navy personnel (100,000 men) are counted, then the fascist 
German armed forces thrown against the USSR numbered 4.6 million men. This 
was equal to 77 percent of the personnel of the army in the field. Moreover, 
the satellite countries had put under arms 29 divisions (including 16 Finnish 
and 13 Romanian) and 16 brigades (including 3 Finnish, 9 Romanian, and 4 
Hungarian) to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union. These formations 
had 900,000 men. Thus, as a grand total, fascist Germany and its satellites 
deployed 181 divisions and 18 brigades— 5.5 million men—against the USSR. 
These forces, prepared for a blitzkrieg campaign, were armed with 47,260 ar¬ 
tillery guns and mortars, 3,712 tanks, including about 2,800 medium and heavy 
tanks, and 4,950 aircraft, mostly of the latest designs. 20 

At dawn on 22 June 1941 the main forces of the fascist German army had 
occupied their starting positions for the offensive along the USSR’s western 
borders. The composition of these forces made it possible to create powerful 
assault groupings on the main axes. 


4. The Concealment of Aggression Against the USSR 

The concealment of aggression against the USSR started long before it was 
unleashed. The machine of political trickery and operational strategic decep¬ 
tion began working at full speed when the Hitlcnic itadetship made the final 
decision to attacx our country. 


163 



The Hitlerite leadership showed particular concern for keeping secret the 
strategic concentration and deployment of its forces along the USSR’s borders. 
To conceal from our intelligence the real intent of shifting enormous numbers 
of personnel and quantities of combat equipment from the west to the east, the 
Hitlerite leadership undertook an unprecedented deception maneuver by mak¬ 
ing use of the state of war with England. Preparations were greatly intensified 
for invading the British Isles (Operation Sea Lion). To show off these prepara¬ 
tions, the Hitlerite political and military leaders took three field armies (the 6th, 
9th, and 16th) from Army Group A and, from the spring until the summer of 
1941, organized a mass air offensive against England. The dates of the inva¬ 
sion were set and then put off until a later time, and the units were widely in¬ 
formed of this (so that the enemy would find out). In brief, everything was done 
to draw the world's attention to the British Isles and to convince the world that 
an invasion was imminent. In actuality, during this time German forces were 
being shifted east to the USSR's borders. 

This was further covered by a peculiar political game, using diplomacy and 
Soviet-German trade and economic relations, that the Hitlerite leadership played 
with our representative organizations. Thus, in February 1940 and January 1941, 
trade agreements were concluded between the USSR and Germany that pro¬ 
vided for the export of raw materials from the USSR to Germany and the im¬ 
port of industrial goods (machinery, machine tools, instruments, and so forth) 
into our country . 21 These agreements were widely publicized in Germany as 
an example of cooperation between the two countries, but in fact the German 
industrial firms received instructions to delay filling our orders and, in a number 
of instances, to refuse them completely. 

During the Soviet-German talks in Berlin in November 1940 the USSR Peo¬ 
ple’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs drew Hitler’s attention to the abnormality 
of such a situation, to which Hitler replied that “the German Reich is now wag¬ 
ing a ‘life-or-death’ struggle against England, and Germany is mobilizing all 
its resources for a final clash with the British.” 22 Hitler’s reply was deceitful. 
At this time fascist German forces were already moving up to the USSR’s 
borders. 

Despite the previous agreement, many firms, under orders “from above,” 
obstructed in every way possible the familiarization of Soviet representatives 
with German technological innovations. For example, a Soviet economic delega¬ 
tion headed by People’s Commissar I. F. Tevosyan, which visited Germany 
in the autumn of 1939 to become acquainted with certain sectors of German 
industry (machine tool building, instrument building, and chemicals), was unable 
to gain access to a number of new types of instruments, machine tools, and 
models of military equipment because of artificially created obstacles. However, 
not long before the war, when Directive No. 21 (the Barbarossa plan) had already 
been signed, the fascist German command willingly acquainted Soviet military 
delegations, for example, with aviation equipment. The Soviet Union was even 


164 



sold the most modem types ot aircraft produced by the Messerschmitt, Heinkel, 
Junkers, and Dormer firms. 23 In doing this, Hitler estimated that before the war, 
the date of which had already been set, the USSR would be unable to use the 
German technical innovations in aircraft building. But such an instance of “con¬ 
fidence" would, in his opinion, affirm Germany ’s friendly attitude toward the 
USSR. 

Hitler’s political duplicity was well known. But it would not be out of place 
to recall how hypocritical and perfidious was this corporal who had usurped 
supreme power in Germany. On the evening of 18 December Hitler signed Direc¬ 
tive No. 21 (the Barbarossa plan), and on 19 December, in polite conversation 
with the Soviet ambassador at a reception. Hitler assured him that Germany 
had no claims against the Soviet government. At the same time, behind the 
smokescreen of peaceful statements and friendly gestures, the strategic concen¬ 
tration and deployment of the fascist German army along the USSR’s borders 
picked up speed. 

The political and operational-strategic concealment of these measures was car¬ 
ried out in two phases. The first started in July 1940, when the staffs and forces 
of Army Group B were regrouped from the west to the east. This included the 
staff of the group, 3 army directorates, 12 corps staffs, and 30 divisions. 24 The 
second phase encompassed the period from February through June 1941, when 
Army Groups A and C were redeployed to the USSR's borders. 

In this phase the Hitlerite command devoted extremely great attention to con¬ 
cealing the aggression. To confuse the Soviet Union, major deception measures 
were specially developed and carried out. Among those that stand out were opera¬ 
tions that were actually conducted by the fascist German forces as well as spurious 
operations that were merely announced but did not take place. The purpose of 
both stratagems was the same: to distract attention from the extensive prepara¬ 
tions for war with the USSR. 

Of course, operations that were actually conducted, such as Operation Marita 
(the aggression against Greece) or Operation Sunflower (the unleashing of combat 
operations in North Africa), were of definite operational-strategic importance 
for the Hitlerite command. They covered the rear of fascist Germany and made 
possible the extraction of material resources from the captured regions. But at 
the same time, these operations served a concealment purpose. For example, 
under the cover of Operation Marita, the fascist German command shifted forces 
from Army Group A to the east and put railroad operations on an accelerated 
schedule. 

Operations that were merely planned but not carried out pursued only decep¬ 
tion purposes. Among them, for example, were Operation Isabella (the capture 
of Gibraltar), Attila (the occupation of southern France), and Harpoon (the in¬ 
vasion of England from Norwegian territory). Under the plan for Operation 


165 


Harpoon, fascist German forces were actually concentrated on Norwegian ter¬ 
ritory; but this was done in preparation for the coming offensive in the Soviet 
Arctic, not for an invasion of England. Thus, Operations Isabella and Attila, 
which remained on paper and about which there was considerable talk at one 
time, were in fact purely deception measures. They were designed to demonstrate 
fascist Germany's supposedly unusual interest in Southwestern Europe, and, 
consequently, to distract attention from the transfer of fascist German forces 
to the east. 

The Hitlerite leadership had at its disposal an extensive system for carrying 
out operational-strategic deception. 

Organization of the dissemination of deceptive information was entrusted to 
the chief of intelligence and counterintelligence of the supreme high command. 
To transmit information, strictly assigned communications channels were used 
only under his instructions. He was also entrusted with control over the 
dissemination of deceptive information among the German military attaches in 
neutral countries and among the military attaches of neutral countries in Berlin. 
The staff of the supreme high command directed operational-strategic decep¬ 
tion. The so-called department for the defense of the nation, which was the 
leading department of the staff, was directly concerned with this. This depart¬ 
ment was responsible for coordinating the concealment measures of the branches 
of the armed forces, particularly those for concealing troop movements, with 
the measures planned by the supreme high command chief of intelligence and 
counterintelligence. This department also had the right, with the agreement of 
the staffs of the branches of the armed forces and the chief of intelligence and 
counterintelligence, to issue instructions to clarify the purpose and use of various 
methods of deception, depending ou the specific situation. 

In the complicated military and political situation of the first half of 1941, 
when the Hitlerite leadership was increasingly moving forces to the east and 
deploying them along our borders, the leaders of the western powers, in wag 
ing a duplicitous game, willingly or unwillingly contributed to the concealment 
of aggression against the USSR. This was seen, on one hand, in their urging 
of Hitler to undertake a campaign in the east, and on the other, in their repeated 
attempts to set up talks with the Soviet government, purportedly on joint ac¬ 
tions against the aggressor. Thus, the head of the English government, W. 
Churchill, in taking vigorous measures in the spring of 1941 to put together 
an anti-Hitler alliance in the Balkans, was more concerned with turning Hitlerite 
expansion toward the USSR than with saving the countries on the Balkan Penin 
sula from it. This can be seen from his note to Foreign Secretary A. Eden on 
28 March 1941. “Do you not think it possible," he asked, “that in the event 
of the creation of a united front in the Balkan Peninsula, Germany could find 
it more advisable to seek its due in Russia?" 25 At almost the same time, W 
Churchill entered into dealings with the Soviet government, asking it to pro 
vide help to the Balkan commies. out i draining from assuming any obligations 
toward the USSR 


166 




T 


In bourgeois historiography, there is the story that W. Churchill, supposedly 
out of a noble desire to prevent a surprise invasion of the USSR by fascist Ger¬ 
man forces, warned the Soviet government about the aggression that was being 
prepared. But what did this warning consist of? “I have obtained reliable infor¬ 
mation from a trustworthy agent,” wrote W. Churchill to Stalin, “that the Ger¬ 
mans, after deciding that Yugoslavia was in their clutches, that is, on 20 March, 
began moving into the southern part of Poland three of the five armored divi¬ 
sions in Romania. At the moment they learned of the Serbian revolution, this 
movement was stopped. Your excellency can easily assess the importance of 
these facts.” 26 

This message from the English prime minister, although close to the truth, 
did not have the value that it seemingly should have at first glance. The prob¬ 
lem was that at the same time this information arrived, information was also 
being leaked to the German side, and of the opposite character: on the USSR’s 
intention to undertake aggression against Germany. Here is what the American 
journalist M. Hyde had to say on this score: “For the sake of justice, it must 
be said that he (Hoover—Ed.) took part in the war from the moment that he 
began his cooperation with Stevenson * It happened that he had been spreading 
false rumors and materials in the German embassy in Washington. Professionally 
speaking, these are called ‘materials of strategic deception. ’ The Germans were 
handed a document that stated: ‘From completely reliable and trustworthy sources 
it has become known that the Soviet Union intends immediately to undertake 
further aggressive military operations as soon as Germany is drawn into major 
operations.’ ”” 

Thus, in planning the war against the USSR, the Hitlerite leadership devoted 
great attention to concealing the aggression by specially developing and carry¬ 
ing out a whole system of deception measures. This concealment was greatly 
aided by the duplicitous game played by English and U.S. ruling circles in in¬ 
ternational relations. 


* 


* 


Before unleashing war against the Soviet Union, the Hitlerite leadership was 
able to greatly strengthen Germany economically and militarily by using the 
material and human resources of almost all the nations of Europe. 

The initial goal of the strategic calculations of the Hitlerite military command 
(the Barbarossa plan) was to put an end to the Soviet Union in one swift cam¬ 
paign. History proved, however, that these plans were built on sand. They col¬ 
lapsed in the second half of 1941. 


•The chief of English intelligence in the U.S during World War II Author's note. 


167 





The Hitlerite political and military leadership succeeded in putting into effect 
a series of political and operational-strategic concealment measures to conceal 
the plan for war against the USSR. Most of these activities were revealed by 
Soviet intelligence, however, and did not come close to producing the effect 
that the Hitterite strategists had counted on. 

In the complicated and troubled international situation that existed on the eve 
of the Great Patriotic War, the Communist Party and Soviet government, true 
to their policy of peace, attempted to avoid war. Nevertheless, they intensively 
carried out extensive military, political, and defensive measures in the event 
that fascist Germany should attack the USSR. 

Notes 

1. Top Secret!, p. 117. 

2. See Journal of Military History, I960, No I, p. 9. 

3. Ibid. 

4. See Muller-Hillebrand, II, 143. 

5. Ibid., p. 139. 

6. Ibid., p. 125. 

7. See Top Secret!, p. 724. 

8 See Journal of Military History, 1960, No. 1. p. 7. 

9. Top Secret!, p 78 

10. Ibid., p. 143. 

11. Ibid., p 149. 

12. Ibid , p. 158 

13. Ibid 

14. Ibid 

15. Ibid., p. 143 

16. Ibid., pp. 150-151 

17. Ibid., p. 148. 

18. Data from World War II Outline, pp 139-143; Great Patriotic War, 1, 383-384. 

19. See Journal of Military History, 1959, No. 13, p. 59. 

20. See Velikaya Otechestvennaya vovna Sovetskogo Soyuza 1941-1945. Kratkaya istoriya |The 
Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945: A Short History), 2nd ed.(Moscow: 
Voyenizdat. 1970), p 35 (Hereafter cited as Patriotic War Short History— U.S. Ed.]; CPSU 
History. V, Bk I. p 142 

21. See Pravda. 13 Feb 1940 

22. V. Berezhkov. S diplomaticheskoy missiyey v Berlin. 1940-1941 |On a Diplomatic Mission 
to Berlin. 1940-1941) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo APN. 1966). p. 40. 

23. See A Yakovlev, Tsel' zhizni |The Goal of Life). 2nd ed. (Moscow: Politizdat. 1970). pp 
247-248 

24. See B Muller Hillebrand. II, 83-84, 205-206. 

25. Quoted in V. G. Trukhanovskiy, Vneshnyayapolitika Anglii vo vtoroy mirovoy voyne [English 
Foreign Policy in World War II) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo "Nauka.” 1965), p. 162. 

26. Quoted in Zhukov, p 225. 

27. M Hyde. Kumnata 3603 Rasskaz o deyateTnosti angliyskogo razvedyvatet'nogo tsentra vo 
vremya vtoroy mirovoy vovny v N'yu-Yorke |Room 3603: The Story of the Activities of the 
English Intelligence tenter in New York During World War II) (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo 
"Mczhdunarodnyye otnosheniya," 1967), pp. 98-99. 


168 




I 

t 


Chapter 8. The Soviet Union’s Preparations 
to Repel Fascist Aggression 


As a socialist nation the Soviet Union has always been the principal opponent 
of resolving international disputes and political differences between nations by 
military means. Throughout the history of the Soviet nation the Communist Party 
and Soviet government have attempted to establish lasting, mutually beneficial 
relations with all nations, no matter what their social structure and political forms 
of government. 

These peaceable aspirations of the Soviet Union, however, have invariably 
met with resistance from the western powers. Even after World War II had 
already broken out, reactionary groups of the French, English, and American 
bourgeoisie still held out hope that they would be able to use fascist Germany 
and militarist Japan as a strike force in the struggle against the world’s first 
socialist nation of workers and peasants. 

In this situation the Communist Party, the government of the Soviet Union, 
and the entire Soviet nation were forced to devote increased attention to a ma¬ 
jor strengthening of the country’s defense capability and to improvement of the 
Armed Forces’ combat readiness. 


1. The Nation’s Political, Military, and Economic Prepara¬ 
tions for the Approaching War 

The country 's preparations to repel fascist aggression during the last prewar 
years took place in an exceptionally complex international situation. The negotia¬ 
tions that began in March 1939 between the Soviet government and the western 
powers on organizing a collective rebuff to aggression did not bring success. 
The French and English governments refused to agree on joint actions to restrain 
the aggressive aspirations of German fascism. It became clear that if war were 
to break out with fascist Germany, the USSR could count only on its own forces. 
As always, the possibility that a united anti-Soviet front would be formed among 
the imperialist powers had to be reckoned with. 

Our government had no illusions about the spirit or letter of the nonaggres¬ 
sion treaty concluded in August 1939 between Germany and the USSR. Never¬ 
theless, as already stated, this treaty played its role by destroying the hopes of 


169 


the western powers to isolate the USSR politically. Additionally, time was gained 
to carry out new measures to prepare the country for the approaching war. 


The war in Europe that started on 1 September 1939, and Poland's defeat 
in that war, brought the military threat closer to the western borders of the USSR. 
This threat grew even more when the governments of England and France pro¬ 
voked Finnish reactionaries into an armed conflict with the USSR. As is well 
known, this conflict ended with Finland's defeat. According to the peace treaty, 
the border between Finland and the USSR on the Karelian Isthmus and the shore 
of Lake Ladoga was moved to the west. This strengthened the security of 
Leningrad—the cradle of the October Revolution and one of the country’s major 
political, economic, and cultural centers. 

The liberation of western Belorussia and the western Ukraine by Soviet forces, 
the voluntary reunification of these areas with the Belorussian and Ukrainian 
Soviet Socialist Republics, the incorporation of the Baltic nations of Estonia, 
Latvia, and Lithuania into the USSR, and the reunification of Bessarabia with 
Moldavia—these were all acts of enormous political importance. These acts fur¬ 
ther raised the USSR’s international prestige and strengthened the Soviet na¬ 
tion’s strategic positions on its western borders. 

The neutrality pact concluded with Japan helped to strengthen the Soviet na¬ 
tion’s international position and its strategic positions in the Far East. The agree¬ 
ment with Turkey to observe neutrality in an attack by a third party was of great 
importance in securing our southern borders. 

The unexpectedly rapid defeat of France in May 1940 fundamentally altered 
the military, political, and strategic situation in Europe and led to a sharp rise 
in the danger of fascist aggression against the USSR. The tasks for the immediate 
preparation of the country for die approaching war assumed primary impor¬ 
tance. Foremost among these tasks were reorganizing the economy to provide 
expanded production of combat equipment and weapons; equipping the future 
theater of operations, a large part of whose territory had just been made part 
of the USSR; revising strategic plans for conducting the war; and, finally, car¬ 
rying out the concealed mobilization and deployment of the armed forces. 

The Finnish-Soviet military conflict, and the experience that had been 
gained so far in World War II, showed that the Soviet Armed Forces required 
major reorganization and rearmament to successfully wage a major war against 
an enemy as strong and as experienced as fascist Germany. This took time, but 
there was extremely litt'e left. For this reason, the Soviet government was con¬ 
fronted with the need to conduct a very cautious and flexible foreign policy— 
without allowing the Soviet Union to be drawn into war prematurely—and to 
make maximum use of the time allotted it by h ; :;«ory to bring the country and 
the Armed Forces to a state of readiness to repel aggression. 


170 


In the last prewar years the 3rd Five Year Plan for national economic develop 
ment, approved by the 18th Party Congress, served as the program to develop 
the nation's economy and to achieve a further rise in its defense capability, A 
distinguishing feature of the new five year plan was that in it, along with the 
accelerated development of heavy and defense industries, special attention was 
paid to creating a powerful military and economic base in the nation's eastern 
region. As one of the main tasks of the 3rd Five Year Plan, the congress ordered 
the creation of a petroleum refinery between the Volga and the Urals and fur¬ 
ther development of the Urals-Kuznetsk coal and metallurgical complex. 

The program outlined by the party for national economic development was 
completed successfully. By the start of the Great Patriotic War, after 3 Vi years 
of the 3rd Five Year Plan, 2,900 new enterprises had been put into operation. 
Many of them were of major importance for defense. Allocations for military 
construction and the needs of the Armed Forces increased year after year. They 
made up 25.6 percent of the national budget in 1939, 32.6 percent in 1940, 
and 43.4 percent in 1941. 1 Because of this, the growth rates of defense industry 
production outstripped the overall development rates of industrial production 
While the overall annual increase in industrial production was 13 percent dur¬ 
ing the first 3 years of the five year plan, military production rose at a rate 
of 39 percent a year. 

But such growth rates for military production did not satisfy the constantly 
growing needs of the Armed Forces, particularly for aircraft and tanks. In 
September 1939 the Defense Committee under the USSR SNK approved a decree 
on the construction of 10 new aircraft factories and 7 new aircraft engine plants. 
In 1940 the aviation industry received 7 plants from other sectors, and new air¬ 
craft engine plants and enterprises producing aircraft instruments were built. 

In 1939-1940 Soviet aviation designers developed new types of fighters, 
ground attack aircraft, and dive bombers equipped with more powerful engines 
This made it possible to increase the speed, range, and ceiling of combat air 
craft. In the first half of 1941 our industry produced more than 2,700 of these 
new aircraft. 2 

Great attention was devoted to increasing the production capacity of the tank 
industry. On the eve of the war new tank models (KV and T-34) were developed 
and put into production. However, by the start of the war, industry had been 
able to produce only 639 KV tanks and 1,225 T-34 tanks. 3 This production 
did not come close to meeting the needs of the Armed Forces 

A great deal was also done to improve and put into mass production new types 
of artillery and small arms. From 1939 through July 1941 industry produced 
more than 45,000 artillery guns and mortars (not counting 50mm mortars), over 
105,000 light, heavy, and large caliber machine guns, and about 100,000 sub 
machine guns. 4 


171 


Measures were taken to further develop the navy. By the start of the war, 
312 of 533 combat ships laid down during the years of the 3 five year plans 
had been commissioned, including 4 cruisers, 7 destroyer leaders, 30 destroyers, 
18 frigates, 38 minesweepers, and 206 submarines. In addition, the navy was 
reinforced with 477 patrol boats and a considerable number of auxiliary vessels. 5 
The navy’s tonnage rose by almost 160,000 tons from 1939 through 1941. 

Ammunition production increased constantly. From January through June 1941 
the output of the main calibers of ammunition rose by 66 percent. However, 
the calculated demand for ammunition greatly exceeded the production level 
that was reached. On 6 June 1941 the USSR SNK and the AUCP(b) Central 
Committee reviewed and approved a special plan for ammunition production 
for the second half of 1941 and for 1942. This plan provided for increased out¬ 
put of shells and cartridges. 

An important event in party and national affairs was the 18th All-Union Party 
Conference. It again drew the party's attention to the need for accelerated de¬ 
velopment of the industrial sectors on which the defense might of the nation 
depended. The conference elaborated political, organizational, and economic 
measures that were, in essence, preparatory measures for converting industry 
and transport to a war footing. 

The powerful military and economic base created by the efforts of the party 
and the nation provided the resources in the event of war to supply the Armed 
Forces with everything necessary. The Great Patriotic War proved this quite 
clearly and convincingly. However, at the start of the war the Soviet nation 
encountered difficulties in equipping the Armed Forces with new combat equip¬ 
ment and weapons. This was because the pace of the deployment of the Armed 
Forces in the last prewar years, and particularly in the last months before the 
war, greatly outstripped the growth rates for military production. 

The completion of converting the economy to a war footing took place dur¬ 
ing difficult and unfavorable conditions at the start of the war. The military 
situation required an unprecedented transfer of industry from the western regions 
of the Soviet Union to the east. This greatly complicated the problem of sup¬ 
plying the Armed Forces and had a negative effect on military operations dur 
ing the first months. However, by the end of the first year of the war, the Soviet 
people, under the leadership of the Communist Party, had successfully over¬ 
come the difficulties that had arisen. In relying on the advantages of a planned 
socialist economy, and on a logistical base built during the years of the prewar 
five year plans, by the end of 1942 the Soviet people had created a well-run 
military economy and had achieved superiority over the enemy in the mass pro¬ 
duction of modern combat equipment and armament. 


172 


t 





2. Operational-Strategic Planning for the War and the Initial 
Operations 

While consistently carrying out a peaceful foreign policy, the Communist Party 
at the same time urged the Soviet people to show great vigilance toward the 
intrigues of international imperialism. The party pointed out that since the Soviet 
Union was the forward detachment and shock brigade of the progressive forces 
of the world, who were conducting a historic offensive against capitalism, the 
Soviet people must always be ready to repel attempts by international reaction 
to use force of arms to destroy the historic victories of the workers and peasants 
and to restore capitalism in our country. The Soviet people, indoctrinated by 
the party in the spirit of socialist patriotism and class hatred for the exploiters, 
were aware that any war imposed on the Soviet Union by international im¬ 
perialism would have a class character and would be conducted by the socialist 
nation as a just war pursuing the noble goals of defending the victory of the 
Great October Socialist Revolution. The Soviet people understood that in such 
a war the most decisive and uncompromising military and political goals would 
be pursued, and that these would demand the use of active methods of con¬ 
ducting combat operations and would place an enormous strain on the morale 
and physical well-being of the country. 

The decisions of party congresses and Central Committee plenary sessions 
on military matters, and the speeches of the leaders of the Soviet nation, were 
filled with a spirit of enormous energy. For example, the AlJCP(b) Central Com¬ 
mittee’s report to the 17th Party Congress stressed that “ ... we do not fear 
threats and are ready to respond in kind to a blow by the warmongers." 6 This 
same feeling was affirmed at the 18th Party Congress. 

This energetic spirit was also present in the statutes of the manuals and regula 
tions of the Red Army and Navy. The Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army Field 
Manual (FM-39) stated that the "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will 
answer any enemy attack with a crushing blow with all the might of its armed 
forces. ... If the enemy thrusts a war on us, the Workers’ and Peasants' Red 
Army will be the most aggressive of any attacking army." 7 

The General Staff's calculations on the war plan were based on a considera¬ 
tion of the military and political situation, the requirements of our military doc¬ 
trine, and the real capabilities of the Soviet nation and its potential enemies. 
World War II, which had already started; the changes caused by the war in 
the balance of forces on the international arena; the westward shift of the USSR's 
national borders after the liberation of western Belorussia and the western 
Ukraine; and the incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Bessarabia 
into the USSR—all of this forced the General Staff from the autumn of 1940 
through the spring of 1941 to fundamentally revise the previous operational- 
strategic plan for entering the war and conducting the initial operations. 8 


173 


After Hitler came to power, Germany became the main and most dangerous 
enemy of the USSR. It was assumed that Germany could attack the USSR in 
alliance with the reactionary governments of Finland, Romania. Hungary, Italy, 
and, possibly, Turkey. 

In the Far East, as before, militarist Japan was the potential enemy. It was 
expected that Japan could attack the USSR simultaneously with Germany, or, 
in holding a position of armed neutrality, could begin military operations later 
at any advantageous time. For this reason, the General Staff did not rule out 
the possibility of waging a war simultaneously on two fronts. However, con¬ 
sidering the situation that actually existed, the General Staff felt that the Euro¬ 
pean theater of operations would be the main one for the USSR, and that it was 
there that the outcome of the war would be determined. For this reason, in 
calculations on the strategic deployment of the Soviet Armed Forces, the General 
Staff foresaw a concentration of the Red Army’s main forces along the USSR’s 
western borders. In the Far Eastern theater of operations, only the forces capable 
of keeping the situation stable were to be kept in the event of a Japanese attack 
on the USSR. 

Assessing fascist Germany's probable plans for unleashing war against the 
USSR, the General Staff assumed that during the first stage of the war the 
Hitlerite supreme command would most likely try to concentrate its main ef¬ 
forts on the southwestern strategic axis. Germany’s immediate strategic goal 
was seen as the capture of the Ukraine and the Donets Basin with a later 
breakthrough to the Caucasus, thus depriving our country of major economic 
regions—-Ukrainian grain, Donets coal, southern metallurgy, and then Cauca¬ 
sian oil would all be seized. 

Nor was the possibility ruled out that the fascist German army's main forces 
would be deployed north of the Pripet Marshes for an attack from East Prussia 
and central Poland toward the "Smolensk Gates” with a further development 
of the drive on Moscow. In both versions the possibility was foreseen that the 
Finnish and Romanian armies would go ove r to the offensive simultaneously 
with the fascist German army. 

It was assumed that the war would inevitably become long and tense, and 
the achievement of victory would depend, to a decisive degree, on the ability 
of the rear to supply the front with material and human resources longer than 
the enemy could. 

The superiority of the Soviet governmental and social systems, their enor¬ 
mous potential capabilities, the moral and political unity of Soviet society, Soviet 
society's solidarity around the Communist Party, and the readiness of the Soviet 
people to wage a selfless tight for their socialist Fatherland—all of this gave 
the Communist Party, the government, and the Soviet command the right to 
count on the victorious conduct of the war. 


174 





Along with this, the Soviet Union's political and military leaders recognized 
that the results of the initial operations would have an enormous influence on 
the course of the war. Particular importance was attached to planning these 
operations. 

The plan of the Initial operations. On the eve of the war the defense of the 
Soviet Union’s western borders, which stretched from the Barents to the Black 
Sea, was provided by the forces of five border military districts: Leningrad, 
Baltic Special, Western Special, Kiev Special, and Odessa. 

With the start of operations the Leningrad Military District and the Baltic, 
Western, and Kiev special military districts were changed into the Northern, 
Northwestern, Western, and Southwestern fronts, while the Odessa Military 
District became the 9th Army. 9 Later, the Southern Front was to be deployed 
there. 

The Soviet government, in the event of attack by fascist Germany on the USSR, 
made provision that the Armed Forces would make a powerful retaliatory at¬ 
tack against the enemy to repel the aggression and shift combat operations to 
enemy territory. Proceeding from an assessment of the situation that might ex¬ 
ist by the start of the war, the General Staff drew up an operations plan under 
which our main forces were to be deployed in a zone from the coast of the Baltic 
Sea to the Pripet Marshes—on the northwestern and western axes. When, in 
September 1940, this plan was reported to the Politburo of the AUCP(b) Central 
Committee, J. V. Stalin expressed the opinion that the probable enemy would 
try to concentrate its main efforts in the southwest. The General Staff reworked 
the operations plan compiled initially and outlined a new one that called for 
concentrating our main efforts on the southwestern axis. 10 

Since accomplishment of the missions outlined in the plan was to be carried 
out by a retaliatory attack after the strategic deployment of the Red Army’s main 
forces, in the first stage of the initial strategic operations the covering armies 
deployed in the border zone were to employ active defensive operations, sup¬ 
ported by aviation and tactical reserves, to repel the enemy attack, thus secur¬ 
ing the concentration and deployment of all the forces designated to make the 
retaliatory attack. The General Staff drew up a special plan to defend the state 
border. This plan set the following missions: prevent enemy invasion of the 
USSR’s territory; use a stubborn and active defense, fortified areas, and field 
fortifications along the state border to cover the concentration and deployment 
of the Red Army’s main forces; ensure by air defense and air operations nor¬ 
mal functioning of the railroads and concentration of forces in the border military 
districts; use all types of reconnaissance to determine the concentration and 
grouping of enemy forces; use active air operations to win air supremacy; make 
attacks against the main railroad junctions, bridges, arid troop groupings to disrupt 
and delay the concentration and deployment of enemy forces; prevent the land¬ 
ing (or dropping) of enemy paratroopers and diversionary groups. 


175 





If the front of our defenses were pierced by major mechanized enemy forces, 
provision was made for the massed use of mechanized corps, antitank artillery 
brigades, and aviation to stop the breakthrough. Under favorable conditions, 
all the defending forces and reserves of the armies and military districts were 
instructed to be ready on instructions from the High Command to make rapid 
attacks to rout enemy groupings that had crossed the border and to shift combat 
operations to enemy territory. 

In organizing the cover, the Leningrad, Baltic Special, and Odessa military 
districts were to cooperate with the various naval fleets. The fleets were directed 
to prevent the unexpected approach of the enemy from the sea and were to use 
mines and coastal defenses to prevent the capture of bases from the sea and 
the landing of amphibious forces on our coast. The Red Banner Baltic Fleet, 
in addition, was to prevent enemy ships from penetrating the gulfs of Finland 
and Riga. 

The General Staff worked out the plan for defending the state border in the 
spring of 1941. Under this plan, each of the border military districts was to 
draw up its own specific plan for combat operations. Such plans were prepared 
and, from 5 to 20 June, were submitted to the General Staff for approval. 

Thus, according to the plan of the Soviet High Command, the immediate 
strategic goal, which determined the character and content of the planned in¬ 
itial operations, consisted in repelling the enemy’s first attack by using the forces 
of the first strategic echelon (the covering armies and the reserves of the border 
districts); in reliably securing the concentration and deployment of the Red 
Army's main forces; and in creating favc.able conditions for making a retaliatory 
attack against the enemy. This goal was to be achieved by winning air supremacy, 
by thwarting (or disrupting) the enemy’s strategic deployment, and, finally, by 
conducting a stubborn and active defense of fortifications along the state border. 

It was felt that both sides would start combat operations with only part of 
their forces, and that at least 2 weeks would be required to conclude the deploy¬ 
ment of the Red Army’s main forces and of the main enemy forces. There was 
a certainty that during this time the covering armies, possessing sufficient men 
and equipment, would be able to successfully handle the missions assigned to 
them—to repel the first enemy attack. 

If the forces of the first strategic echelon were able not only to repel the first 
enemy attack, but also to shift combat operations to enemy territory even before 
the deployment of the main forces, the second strategic echelon (the Dnepr was 
to be its deployment line) was to add to the efforts of the first echelon and develop 
the retaliatory attack in accord with the overall strategic plan. However, this 
proposition—which was the basis of the plan for the initial combat operations— 
while certainly theoretically possible, in fact did not fit the conditions that ac¬ 
tually arose. It did not give sufficient consideration to the lessons of the first 


176 



T 


campaigns in World War II, in particular, to the fact that in those campaigns 
the fascist German army had made the first attack with its main forces, which 
were concentrated and deployed in the theater of operations before the start of 
the invasion. 

3. Mobilization Deployment of the Armed Forces 

The socialist nature of the Soviet system, the planned development of the na¬ 
tional economy that was a result of it, the moral and political unity of Soviet 
society in closed ranks around the Communist Party, and the firmly established 
principles of democratic centralism in government administration—all of this 
provided favorable conditions for the mobilization deployment of the Red Army 
and Navy. 

At the same time, the enormous expanses of our Motherland, the less developed 
(in comparison with Western Europe) railroad and highway network, and the 
recent and continuing strategic development of the territory of the western regions 
that had only just become a part of the USSR—all of this caused great difficulties 
in carrying out mobilization measures and deploying the Armed Forces in the 
theaters of operations. 

The Communist Party and the Soviet government devoted great attention to 
improving the mobilization system in the prewar years. It was substantially im¬ 
proved because of the experience gained in the mobilization measures carried 
out in the autumn of 1938 (the “Munich crisis”), in the summer of 1939 (the 
events on the Khalkhin-Gol), in the autumn of 1939 (the liberation campaign 
into western Belorussia and the western Ukraine), and in the winter of 1939-1940 
(the Finnish-Soviet conflict). The mobilization system was greatly improved 
when the Law on Universal Military Conscription approved in September 1939 
went into effect. Under this law a reorganization was carried out in the military 
commissariats that made it possible to efficiently carry out induction into the 
army and navy and to mobilize the nation's resources. 

By the start of the Great Patriotic War our country had a completely modern 
and flexible mobilization system. It had been developed with consideration of 
the changes in the organizational development of the Red Army and in full ac¬ 
cord with operational-strategic planning. The last prewar mobilization plan was 
thus based on changes outlined by the 3rd Five Year Plan for the reoganization 
of the Workers’ and Peasants' Red Army; in particular, this plan took considera¬ 
tion of the accelerated development of armored forces and aviation. In the spring 
of 1941, when our High Command's operational-strategic plan underwent 
substantial alterations, mobilization calculations underwent changes as well. 

The expansion of the army and navy was seen first of all in increases in the 
number of personnel. By 1 January 1939 the Armed Forces had 1,943,000 men. 
After the start of World War D the size of the army and navy grew constantly. 

177 


\ 




On 1 June 1940 there were already 3,602,300 men under arms, on 1 January 
1941,4.2 million men, and on 1 June of the same year, almost 5 million men." 


The ground and air forces on the eve of the war were a part of the 16 military 
districts and the Far Eastern Front. In the western border military districts and 
in the Far East, the forces were organized as army formations. Before the war 
there were 14 army directorates in the western districts and 6 in the Far East. 12 

The Communist Party and the Soviet government, in considering the possibility 
of an attack on the USSR and the complexity of the strategic deployment of 
the Armed Forces with the start of military operations, planned and put into 
effect major measures for the organization, reorganization, and rearmament of 
hundreds of units and formations. While in 1939 there were 98 divisions in the 
ground forces, 2 years later, by the spring of 1941, there were already 303. 
Nine mechanized corps were formed in 1940. From February through March 
1941 the formation of another 20 such corps and a number of other formations 
was begun. The Soviet High Command tried to ensure that the formations in 
the covering armies of the border districts had high mobilization readiness. These 
formations did not have to be created anew but merely had to be brought up 
to wartime levels in personnel, transport equipment, and horses; the motor and 
cart transport, under the mobilization plan, was to come to these formations 
from nearby areas. The weapons and equipment needed to bring them up to 
intended wartime levels were to be stored at formation depots. 

Starting in the spring the High Comamnd was energetically concerned with 
providing the formations with trained reserves. The size of many units ap¬ 
proached wartime levels. Thousands of men were sent to fortified areas in the 
border military districts. 13 

Thus, the organizational development and strengthening of the Armed Forces, 
in being closely tied to the mobilization plan, were carried out rapidly. However, 
the sudden attack by fascist Germany on our country interfered with the suc¬ 
cessful completion of the designated measures. 

Our industry, only partially converted on the eve of the war to expanded pro¬ 
duction of combat equipment, weapons, and ammunition, was unable to pro¬ 
vide the newly formed and deployed formations with the required quantity of 
motor transport, air and antitank defense weapons, communications equipment, 
and, particularly, tanks and aircraft. 

This factor—the lag in weapons production behind the growth of new 
formations—was felt when the general mobilization started on 23 June. This 
mobilization was accompanied by an enormous burst of patriotism from our 
nation's workers and, because of the efficient mobilization system, was com¬ 
pleted in a shorter time than planned. However, the rifle formations entered 
the border engagements with a shortage of artillery guns and air defense and 
antitank weapons, while the tank units fought without a full complement of tanks. 


178 







The situation was aggravated because, despite the accelerated deployment of 
the armed forces, a large number of formations were at less than wartime levels 
not only in combat equipment but in personnel. 

Thus, under the wartime tables introduced in April 1941, a rifle division was 
to have 14,483 men, 78 field guns, fifty-four 45mm antitank guns. 12 antiair¬ 
craft guns (four 76mm and eight 37mm), sixty-six 82 120mm mortars, 16 light 
tanks, 13 armored cars, and 3,039 horses. However, on I June 1941, not one 
of the 170 divisions and 2 brigades in the five border districts was up to lull 
strength. Some 144 divisions had 8,000 men each, 19 had from 600 to 5.000. 
and the 7 cavalry divisions averaged 6,000 men each. 14 

The forced retreat of our units from the border caused undoubted damage 
to the mobilization deployment of our forces. The retreat greatly complicated 
the conduct of mobilization in the border districts; mobilization was virtually 
stopped in areas directly adjacent to the border. 

The surprise attack by fascist Germany on the USSR thus created exceptional 
difficulties in the mobilization deployment of the Soviet Armed Forces. However, 
because of the heroic efforts of our people, and because of the organizational 
activities of the Communist Patty and its Central Committee, these difficulties 
were overcome in a comparatively short time. From December 1941 the level 
of industrial production, having been put on a war footing, began to rise grad¬ 
ually. This made it possible to supply the army and navy with an ever-growing 
quantity of combat equipment and weapons, and the number of new tanks, air¬ 
craft, guns, and mortars sent to the front grew steadily. 

The army and navy were continually reinforced with new personnel. By the 
end of 1942 our country had exceeded the level of production of combat equip¬ 
ment and weapons achieved by fascist Germany, and our army had acquired 
enormous military experience. Well equipped and organizationally strong, it 
became a powerful force that crushed the strongest army in the capitalist world, 
which at that time was the army of fascist Germany. 

4. Concentration and Operational Deployment of the 
Forces on the Eve of War 

The Communist Party and the Soviet government, seeing the growing threat 
of fascist aggression against the USSR, tried with all their power to delay the 
start of aggression as long as possible to gain time to raise the country's defense 
capability. 

It was clear to the higher political leadership that a war with fascist Germany 
could not be avoided, but it was assumed that war could be put off until 1942 


179 


The then deputy people's eommissar of defense. Marshal of the Soviet Union 
K. A. Meretskov. in retelling his conversation with J. V. Stalin at the start of 
February 1941. noted: " . J. V. Stalin commented that we, of course, would 
be unable to stay out of the war until 1943. We would be drawn in against our 
will. But it could not be ruled out that we would stay out of the war until 1942.” 15 

This view determined the general direction of our party’s military policy at 
that time. It consisted in doing as much as possible to rearm the army and navy 
and to accelerate their organizational development and deployment, while, at 
the same time, using extreme caution in actions to avoid providing a reason 
for fascist Germany to provoke a war before our military preparations were 
completed 

“... Was our leadership convinced that in the summer of 1941 it would be 
possible to avoid war, and so, gain time at least until the following spring?” 
K. A. Meretskov wrote further. “At that time nothing was said to me about 
this. However, from my own observations, 1 personally concluded that our 
leadership was wavering. On one hand, it was receiving alarming information. 
On the other hand, it saw that the USSR was not fully ready to repel aggres¬ 
sion. While over the last 2 years the size of our Armed Forces had grown by 
a factor of 2.5, there was not enough combat equipment. Moreover, it was par¬ 
tially obsolete. We all strove to influence the course of events, to shape it in 
our favor, and to delay the conflict.” 16 

The Communist Party and the Soviet government, along with increasing the 
efforts to prepare the country and the Armed Forces to repel aggression, took 
measures to redeploy the newly organized and deployed formations to the western 
border districts. These formations, together with the main forces of the North¬ 
ern, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets and the river flotillas, were to make up the 
first strategic echelon of the Soviet Armed Forces. 

To conceal from enemy intelligence the composition and purpose of the for¬ 
mations being concentrated on the territory of the western military districts, 
many of them were a great distance from the border. Nevertheless, even in 
peacetime the foundations were laid for the strategic deployment of the forces 
in the border military districts with the start of combat operations. According 
to the plan, the troop grouping was set up with consideration given to carrying 
out defensive missions at the start of the war and offensive missions soon after. 

In the spring of 1941 the alarming signs that fascist German forces were con¬ 
centrating on Polish territory adjacent to the Soviet Union’s border, and that 
Finnish and Romanian army forces were assembling in the border regions, grew 
more frequent. 

In May 1941, under the plan for defending the state border, major new troop 
regroupings were undertaken for the Western theater of operations. These 

180 


\ 





movements affected both the internal and border military districts. Starting in 
mid-May, four armies and one rifle corps began to move up from the internal 
military districts to the line of the Dnepr and Western Dvina.* 


The shift of forces from internal districts was carried out by rail in a con¬ 
cealed manner and without disrupting the peacetime traffic schedule. The forces 
were to complete their concentration in the previously designated regions from 
1 June through 10 July 1941. 


Concomitantly with the movement of forces from the country’s internal 
regions, a concealed regrouping of formations began in the border districts. 
Under the pretext of changing the disposition of the summer camps, formations 
were brought closer to the border. Some of them were moved by rail, which 
was again done without disrupting the peacetime traffic schedule. Most of the 
units moved in a march formation at night. On 15 June more than one-half of 
all the divisions in the reserve of the western military districts were in motion. 
Many of the units being shifted were moved to areas 20 to 80 km away from 
the state border 

The formations in the first echelon of the covering armies, which were 10 
to 20 km from the border, were not moved at this time. The People’s Com¬ 
missar of Defense warned the commanders of the military districts that the move¬ 
ment of troops up to the border could be done only by special order, t 


The prohibition against moving forces up to or near the border was dictated 
again by our government’s desire not to provide the German leaders with grounds 
for accusing the USSR of aggressive intentions and provoking a war. Our govern¬ 
ment was still hoping to draw out the time of the unleashing of fascist German 
aggression against the Soviet Union. Howeve., by mid-June, the situation was 
taking shape in such a manner that war with Germany could not be avoided 
for even the briefest period. 


•The 22nd Army moved from the Ural District to Idritsa. Sebezh. and Vitebsk; the 16th Army 
moved from the Transbaykal District to Berdichev and Proskurov; the 19th Army moved from the 
Northern Caucasus District to Cherkassy and Belaya Tserkov; and the 21 st Army moved from the 
Volga District to Chernigov and Konotop The Kharkov District moved the 25th Rifle Corps to 
the west At the same time, preparations were under way to redeploy the forces of the 20th. 24th. 
and 28th armies. 

TV'-e seven armies (the 16th. 19th. 20th. 21st. 22nd, 24th. and 28th) made up the second strategic 
echelon By the start of the war only a few units from the 19th Army had succeeded in concen¬ 
trating in the designated regions, but most of them were en route or at their former dispositions 
(see Patriotic War Slum History, p. 53. 50 Tears of the USSR Armed Forces, p 260, /Communist. 
1968, No. 12. pp. 67-68) 

tSuch an order, as is well known, was given on the night of 22 June, just a few hours before the 
invasion of our country by the fascist German army. However, many formation staffs did not receive 
orders to bring their forces to combat readiness until border engagements were already in progress 


181 



From 14 through 19 June the command of the border districts received in¬ 
structions to bring the front (or army) directorates up to the field command posts. 
At the same time, the rapid movement of forces toward the border began, but 
its pace did not meet the actual situation. Of all the border district formations 
that began moving toward the border on 15 June, only a few had reached the 
designated areas by 22 June. Meanwhile, during this period fascist German forces 
had already occupied their starting positions along the entire length of the Soviet- 
German Front. 

Thus, the fascist German command, literally during the last 2 weeks before 
the war, was able to preempt our forces in completing deployment and thus 
create favorable conditions for seizing the strategic initiative at the start of the 
war. 

Approximately a month before the start of the war, when the deployment of 
the fascist German forces along our borders was actually being carried out 
overtly, our command still had an opportunity to complete, at least, the deploy¬ 
ment of the forces in the first strategic echelon. However, the decision remained 
in force that “.. nothing is to be done directly in the border area that could 
provoke the fascists or in any way accelerate their action against us; measures 
needed to strengthen the country’s defense capability are to be carried out, but 
these should not be discernible by German intelligence.” 17 J. V. Stalin, who 
headed the party leadership and the country, in trying to put off a military clash 
with Hitlerite Germany in order to use the time to prepare the army and coun¬ 
try for war, did not give his consent to bring the border districts to full combat 
readiness, feeling that this step could be used by the fascist rulers as a pretext 
for war. 18 

In his memoirs. Marshal of the Soviet Union G K. Zhukov writes: 

“The 1940 operations plan, which, after adjustments, was in effect in 1941, 
provided for the following if war threatened. 

—To bring all the armed forces to full combat readiness: 

—To immediately carry out troop mobilization in the Country; 

—To bring the forces up to wartime levels under the mobilization plan, 

—To concentrate and deploy all fully mobilized forces near the western borders 
under the plan of the border military districts and the Military High Command. 

“Putting into effect the measures provided by the operations and mobiliza¬ 
tion plans could be done only by special permission of the government." 19 As 
has already been stated, this special permission did not come until the night 
of 22 June 1941. 


182 



The completion of the operational deployment was also negatively influenced 
by an assumption, held by the People's Commissariat of Defense and the General 
Staff, that lay at the foundation of the plan for the first operations. It was assumed 
that initially the aggressor would invade our country with only a part of its forces; 
border engagements would take place, under the cover of which the mobiliza¬ 
tion and deployment of the main mass of troops on both sides would be com¬ 
pleted. As the first days of the war showed, this assumption was not justified. 

The grouping of forces in the western border military districts on the eve 
of the war. By the start of the war two-thirds of the forces of the western border 
military districts were in the 13 covering armies. 20 The Leningrad Military 
District (which became the Northern Front when the war started) covered the 
state border with Finland from the Rybachiy Peninsula to the Gulf of Finland 
(1,200 km) with the forces of the 14th, 7th, and 23rd armies. The main forces 
of the district were concentrated to the south of Lake Ladoga. To the north of 
Lake Ladoga the border was defended only on certain axes by troops of the 
14th Army. On the Hanko Peninsula there was an independent rifle brigade. 
One mechanized corps remained in the front reserve. 

The Baltic Special Military District (which became the Northwestern Front 
when the war started) covered the border with East Prussia along a 300-km 
front from Palanga to the southern border of Soviet Lithuania with the forces 
of two armies, the 8th and 11th. The coast of the Baltic Sea from Tallinn to 
Liyepaya was defended by two rifle divisions under district command, and on 
the islands of the Munsund Archipelago there was an independent rifle brigade. 
The 27th Army (six divisions) was in the district reserve. 

The Western Special Military' District (which became the Western Front when 
the war started) fielded three armies, the 3id, 10th. and 4th, as well as the 13th— 
which was raised in the district—to cover the state border along a 450-km front 
from the southern boundary of Lithuania to the northern boundary of the Ukraine. 
Six independent corps, including two mechanized corps, were in the district 
reserve. 

The Kiev Special Military District (which became the Southwestern Front 
when the war started) covered the state border on an 820-km front from 
Domachev through Sokal and Peremyshl to Lipkany. In its composition, this 
was the strongest district. Units of four armies, the 5th, 6th, 26th, and 12th, 
were deployed in the border area. Four mechanized corps, five rifle corps, and 
one cavalry division were in the district reserve. 

The forces of the Odessa Military District were deployed on the maritime 
axis.* The 9th Army covered the border with Romania along a 450-km front 

*On 25 June the staff of the Southern Front was created from the Directorate of the Moscow Military 
District; it included the 18th Army of the Southwestern Front and the 9th Army of the Odessa Mili*iry 
District Author's note 


183 



*™ 68 483 W&MMMtWM&n m\W nmM 3/4 

UNCLASSIFIED F/C 15/7 M. 












































from Lipkany to the mouth of the Danube River. The 9th Independent Rifle 
Corps was deployed in the Crimea. Two rifle corps were the reserve. 

Organizationally, the Soviet naval forces in the west were combined to form 
three fleets, the Northern, Baltic, and Black Sea, and two flotillas, the Pinsk 
and Danube. They were based in their home ports and were ready to head for 
previously designated battle stations. 

The covering armies were deployed over a great expanse both along the front 
and in depth. Of the 107 divisions that made up these armies, the first echelon 
consisted of 56 divisions and 2 brigades. These units formed a narrow strip that 
covered a front stretching about 4,000 km from the White Sea to the Black Sea. 
Many divisions of the Baltic, Western, and Kiev special military districts and 
of the Odessa Military District had at best one regiment each in the defensive 
fortifications along the border, while the remaining units of these divisions were 
in camps or military compounds 8 to 20 km from the border. 

The overall depth of deployment in the formations of the covering armies 
reached 50 to 100 km, and the 63 divisions that made up the reserve of the 
border military districts were situated even deeper, 100 to 400 km from the 
border. 21 

Thus, by 22 June, the Soviet High Command had been unable to create the 
initial strategic grouping of the Red Army along the western borders in the form 
required by the developing situation. To a great degree, this also determined 
the balance of men and equipment in the border area, which was unfavorable 
for the USSR by the start of the war. 

By 22 June the troops of the western border military districts and the fleet 
forces numbered 170 divisions and 2 brigades (2.9 million men), 1,540 modem 
aircraft and a great number of obsolete aircraft, 34,695 guns and mortars (not 
including 50mm), 1,800 heavy and medium tanks, including 1,475 of the new 
types, 269 surface vessels, and 127 submarines. 22 

The enemy surpassed our forces in number of personnel by a factor of 1.8, 
in medium and heavy tanks by a factor of 1.5, in new types of combat aircraft 
by a factor of 3.2, and in guns and mortars by a factor of 1.25. If it is con¬ 
sidered that because of the incomplete deployment of the forces in the western 
border districts many formations were unable to take a direct part in repelling 
the first enemy attack, then the enemy was four to five times superior in per¬ 
sonnel and modem combat equipment on the first day of the war on the axis 
of the main attacks. 


* 


* 


* 


184 




s \ 


In the prewar years the Communist Party and Soviet government waged a 
persistent struggle to organise collective resistance to aggression and to pre¬ 
vent war as a means of solving unsettled international problems. The Soviet 
Union's efforts in this struggle, however, encountered stubborn resistance not 
only from such nations as Germany, Italy, and Japan, which desired to reparti¬ 
tion the world by force, but also from England, France, and the U.S., which 
proclaimed themselves to be champions of peace but were in fact pursuing a 
policy of encouraging the expansionist aspirations of fascist Germany and 
militarist Japan. They attempted to set the aggressive nations against the USSR 
and to use them to wipe out the socialist gains of our country’s workers. 

Demonstrating wisdom and flexibility in their foreign policy, the Communist 
Party and the Soviet government prevented the creation of a united anti-Soviet 
front of imperialist nations, removed the Soviet Union from political isolation 
in the international arena, and extended the period of peace to give our country 
breathing space. The time gained was used to further strengthen the Soviet na¬ 
tion’s defense capability and to increase its preparedness to repel fascist 
aggression. 

The truly gigantic efforts expended during the prewar years by the Communist 
Party and, under its guidance, by the entire Soviet nation to prepare the country 
and the Armed Forces for defense laid a firm foundation for the Soviet Union’s 
victorious conduct of the Great Patriotic War against the combined forces of 
the fascist bloc of nations. 

During the heroic years of the prewar five year plans the Soviet people created 
a mighty logistical base to conduct the war. The latest types of combat equip¬ 
ment and weapons, superior to the best models of the capitalist nations, were 
designed and put into production by the efforts of Soviet scientists, designers, 
engineers, and technicians. 

The Armed Forces, which underwent rapid development in the final prewar 
years, were not only provided with new equipment but were also fully manned 
with personnel indoctrinated by the party in the spirit of Soviet patriotism and 
aware of their historic international mission. The Soviet people were prepared 
to defend their Motherland's freedom and independence and the great ideals 
of communism with total courage and self-sacrifice. All of this permitted the 
party, the government, and the military command to count on victory in war 
against any aggressor attempting to disrupt the peaceful, creative labor of the 
Soviet people. 

The plan that the Soviet High Command worked out to repel fascist aggres¬ 
sion in accord with instructions of the AUCP(b) Central Committee and the USSR 
SNK was an active and energetic one and was in keeping with the spirit of Soviet 
military doctrine. Planning and preparations for the initial operations were based 


185 





on the idea of making a powerful retaliatory attack against the enemy. The en¬ 
tire system for strategic deployment of the Armed Forces was subordinated to 
this concept. 

For a number of objective and subjective reasons, however—decisive among 
which was the error made in determining the time of fascist Germany’s inva¬ 
sion of our country—the Soviet Armed Forces entered the war without com¬ 
pleting operational deployment. The enemy was able to preempt our army in 
deployment and to achieve important, although temporary, advantages at the 
start of combat operations. 

It must be remembered, however, that it was extremely difficult to appraise 
with sufficient accuracy the development of military and political events in the 
extraordinarily complex, contradictory, and rapidly changing international situa¬ 
tion of the last prewar years. On no account belittling or overstating errors in 
evaluating events and planning the first operations, it can be confidently asserted 
that the Communist Party, our government, and the High Command did 
everything possible at the time to build up the nation’s military might. It can 
be further asserted that, with the start of war, they managed to rapidly put the 
country’s economy on a war footing, to complete the rearmament and reorganiza¬ 
tion of the army and navy, and to raise the morale of the people and their Armed 
Forces to unprecedented heights, thus creating all the necessary conditions for 
a crushing rebuff to fascist German aggression. 


Notes 

1. See Kommunisi, 1968. No. 12, p 65. 

2 See CPSU History, V, Bk 1. p 124. 

3. Ibid., p 125. 

4. See Velikaya Otechestvennaya myna. Kralkiy nauchno-populyamyy ocherk (The Great Patriotic 
War: A Short Genera! Outline), p 45 

5 See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forres, p. 225. 

6. Stalin, XIII. 305 

7. Polevoy i istav (PU-39) (Field Manual (FM-9)], p 9. 

8 See Zhukov, p 210 

9. See Patriotic War Short History, p. 53. 

10. See A M Vasilevsky. Deln vsey zhizni (The Cause of an Entile Life) (Moscow Politizdat, 
1973), pp 106. 117. 

11. See Patriotic War Short History, p. 53. 

12. See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p. 236 

13. See Patriotic War Shon History, p, 53. 

14. See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p. 235. 

15. K. A. Meretskov, Na sluzhbe narodu [In the Service of the People) (Moscow. Politizdat, 1968), 
p. 202. (Hereafter cited as Meretskov—U S. Ed.) 

16. Ibid., p 206. 

17. Meretskov, p. 206. 

18. See CPSU History, V, Bk. 1. p 153. 

19. Zhukov, p, 222. 


186 


T 


T 


20. See SO Years of the USSR Armed Forces , pp. 2SI, 252. 

21. See Patriotic War Short History, p. 54. 

22. See SO Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p, 252; Marine Atlas, III. Pi. 2, folios 20, 22, 25. 


187 




Part III: Initial Strategic Operations 

Chapter 9. The Initial Offensive Operations in 
the European Theaters of Operations 


Fascist Germany, after unleashing World War II, employed aviation, tanks, 
and greatly improved methods of conducting offensive combat operations on 
a massive scale from the start of the war. This had a decisive influence on the 
character of the fascist German army's first operations and imparted new 
characteristics to such operations. 

The nations subjected to surprise attacks were forced to resort to a strategic 
defense despite their initial military and political calculations. 

1. New Characteristics of Offensive Operations 

The military campaigns in Europe showed that the main feature of the fascist 
German forces' initial offensive operations was the defeat of major enemy group¬ 
ings. While this main strategic mission was being accomplished, the seizure 
of territory and economic, administrative, and political centers was also car¬ 
ried out. 

By creating a great superiority in men and equipment on the main axes and 
by making a surprise attack, the fascist German command attained in the cam¬ 
paigns against Poland, France, and the latter’s allies, in essence, the ultimate 
strategic goals in comparatively brief periods. For example, in Poland the goal 
of the war was achieved virtually in one strategic offensive operation during 
which the Polish armed forces were routed and the nation was occupied. In 
Poland the strategic operation coincided with the campaign in its content, while 
the campaign exhausted the content of the war. 

In the first strategic operation of the fascist German forces undertaken on the 
territory of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and the northern regions of France, 
the main allied forces were crushed. Seventy of the 130 divisions that the allies 
had been able to field against Germany were totally defeated.* Enormous 
amounts of equipment, including artillery and tanks, were captured by the enemy. 


•Twenty-two Belgian and eight Dutch divisions surrendered. Ten English divisions, forced back 
to Dunkirk, began evacuation to the British Isles Thirty French divisions were routed. Author's note. 


188 




French air power was destroyed. Thus, because of the initial strategic opera¬ 
tion, the fate of France was in fact already determined. The immediate conse¬ 
quence of the operation was a sharp change in the balance of forces on the 
Western Front in favor of Hitlerite Germany (only about 60 French divisions 
could fight against the 136 fascist German divisions).* The fascist German army 
achieved an overwhelming superiority over the French in tanks and aviation. 

One of the main consequences of fascist Germany’s first strategic operation 
was that, after occupying Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and the northern 
regions of France, Germany seized extensive territory containing economically 
important centers and regions. In reaching the line of the Somme and Ain rivers 
by the end of the operation, the fascist German army also occupied an advan¬ 
tageous operational-strategic position to make the final attack against France 
and to develop sea and air operations against England. Of course, the major 
defeat suffered by the allied forces, the surrender of Belgium and Holland, the 
departure of the English expeditionary corps from the continent, and the defeat 
of the French 1st Army Group—all of this had a demoralizing effect on the French 
population, undermined the will of the armed forces to resist, and strengthened 
the mood of surrender among the French command. The first strategic opera¬ 
tion by fascist German forces in Western Europe undoubtedly meant the col¬ 
lapse of French strategic plans to conduct a static defense at the start of the war. 

At the start of the war the events on the Soviet-German Front were on a dif¬ 
ferent scale and had other consequences. The fascist German command was 
able to develop an offensive across a broad front simultaneously on three strategic 
axes—the Leningrad, Smolensk, and Kiev—and to carry it out in three related 
strategic operations. During these operations the fascist German army achieved 
major successes. However, it did not accomplish the main mission posed by 
the fascist German command: to achieve the complete defeat of the first strategic 
echelon of the Red Army. The Soviet command was able to save a large part 
of its forces from the first enemy attack. Another goal that the Hitlerite strategists 
were counting on also went unachieved—success in crushing the morale of the 
Soviet people. United around the Communist Party, the Soviet people and their 
Armed Forces began a noble war against the foreign enslavers with an unshakable 
determination to continue the struggle until total victory was reached over the 
enemy. 

The scope of operations. One of the most important features of the initial 
offensive operations was the huge scope of combat operations and the great in¬ 
crease in the mass of men and combat equipment assembled to conduct 
operations. 


•With these divisions the French command continued to hold the Maginot cine and created a new 
strategic front, the so-called Weygand Line, to protect Paris and the central regions Author's note 


189 


Even in World War I from 50 to 80 divisions—a half million to a million 
men, or even more—were used to conduct major operations at the start of the 
war. Thousands of guns were used in these operations. The scope of the opera¬ 
tions was from 250 to 400 km along the front and from 220 to 300 km in depth. 
The average daily rate of advance varied from 8 to 15 km. For that period, 
when infantry formations played the main role in an offensive while cavalry 
divisions performed the role of mobile forces, these were rapid advances on 
a broad scale. 

But all of this was greatly exceeded during World War II, when offensive 
operations depended on a much mightier logistical base (see table 16). While 
at the start of World War I the opponents had only a few dozen aircraft, which 
mainly carried out reconnaissance missions, at the start of World War II the 
belligerents already had thousands of aircraft. Instead of employing cavalry divi¬ 
sions as mobile forces, large formations of tank and motorized troops were used. 
Immeasurably more tanks and transport units took part in combat operations. 
The quantity of artillery rose greatly, and its firepower and mobility grew. All 
of this caused a sharp increase in the scope of operations. 

The initial operations of the fascist German armed forces in the campaigns 
against Poland, France, and the USSR were carried out within the overall 
strategic offensive, which developed from the start on previously selected axes 
of the main attacks that encompassed a large part of the strategic front. 

The strategic offensive in Poland was undertaken by two army groups—North 
and South—and was conducted along a front running the entire 1,400-km length 
of the German-Polish border. Each of the army groups had an offensive area 
of up to 700 km, and the breakthrough of the front was carried out in several 
sectors across an area extending 110 to 270 km. The depth of the operations 
of the army groups advancing from Silesia and Pomerania, as well as from East 
Prussia, was 250 to 280 km. The overall depth of the advance of fascist Ger¬ 
man forces during a campaign (or strategic operation) reached 350 to 400 km. 
It took about a month to conduct the entire strategic operation in Poland, and 
the active offensive lasted 17 days. During this time the rate of advance aver¬ 
aged 20 to 24 km per day 

To conduct the first strategic operation in the west against France and its allies, 
the fascist German forces were deployed in three army groups in a zone up to 
1,000 km wide. The front of the offensive was 570 km across. Army Group 
A, the strongest army group and the one that made the main attack, occupied 
a front of 170 km. Army Group B, advancing on a secondary axis, deployed 
in an area up to 400 km across. Army Group C, performing the role of a holding 
force, fought in an area 350 km wide. 


190 





v__ 











The fascist German command concentrated the main mass of the tank forces 
on the axis of the main attack. Additionally, the tank formations were for the 
first time put into a tank group under a unified command. 

In the strategic operation in the west the idea of massing men and equipment 
on the axis of the main attack was demonstrated more strikingly than in the war 
against Poland. And although here the fascist German forces encountered 
stronger resistance, the principle of massing men and equipment on the main 
axes, along with such factors as surprise in the attack and provision of superiority 
in men and equipment, made possible the achievement of quite high rates of 
advance. In truth, this was aided greatly by the major mistakes of the French 
command, which essentially left exposed the area of the front through which 
the enemy made the main attack. 

The initial offensive operation in the west lasted 25 days, of which 18 days 
were occupied by an active offensive. During this time the forces on the main 
axis advanced to a depth of 320 to 350 km. The average rate of advance was 
18 to 20 km per day. 

For the invasion of the USSR the fascist German command deployed three 
army groups—North, Center, and South—on the vast expanse stretching more 
than 2,000 km between the Baltic and Black seas. As in the campaigns against 
Poland and France and France's allies, the command combined the tank and 
mechanized divisions in special tank groups, and then moved them into the first 
echelon to fight on the main axes. Four such groups were created. Army Group 
Center, the strongest group and the one given the main role in the strategic of¬ 
fensive, received two tank groups as reinforcements. The width of the zones 
of advance in the starting position was 230 km for Army Group North, 550 
km for Army Group Center, and 780 km for Army Group South. 

The surprise of the attack, the particularly full complement of combat equip¬ 
ment in the armed forces—especially in numbers of tanks and aircraft—and the 
massed use of forces on the main axes made possible the great scope of the 
initial operations on the Soviet-German Front as well. During 3 weeks of com¬ 
bat operations fascist German forces advanced on the northwestern axis to a 
depth of 450 to 500 km with an average rate of advance of 25 to 30 km per 
day; on the western axis they advanced to a depth of 450 to 600 km with an 
average rate of advance of 25 to 35 km pier day; and on the southwestern axis 
they advanced to a depth of 300 to 350 km with an average rate of advance 
of 16 to 20 km pier day. 

The Red Army’s resistance to the fascist German forces was much stronger 
than that encountered in Poland and France, while the German losses on the 
Soviet-German Front were several times greater than in the campaigns in the 
west. According to the official, undoubtedly understated, German data, the 
Hitlerite army had lost more than 92,000 men by mid-July. Tank losses reached 


192 




50 percent of their initial number. From 22 June through 19 July the German 
air force lost 1,284 aircraft. 1 

The initial strategic operations of the fascist German forces on the European 
continent were thus characterized by much greater numbers of men and quan¬ 
tities of equipment assembled for their conduct, by an increased width of the 
active front of the offensive, and by a tendency toward a steady increase in the 
rates of advance and the depth of combat operations. At the same time, the dura¬ 
tion of operations, in comparison with that of the initial engagements in World 
War I, not only did not increase but even decreased somewhat. 

Forms and methods of conducting operations. The major operational- 
strategic successes of the fascist German forces in the initial operations were 
largely determined by the use of improved and, at times, new forms of conduct¬ 
ing offensive combat operations. To conduct operations the fascist German com¬ 
mand made quite wide use of such procedures as, for example, the simultaneous 
commitment of all the men and equipment assigned for an offensive, or, an at¬ 
tack on enemy forces to the entire depth of the operational configuration 
simultaneously with an attack against major objectives in the rear. Aviation and 
tank formations were employed in such attacks in a manner unseen before. Air¬ 
borne forces also played a part. 

Generally speaking, these methods of operations were not completely new, 
since they had been taken up in military writing and so could not have been 
unexpected. But their application on a large scale and in extremely close con¬ 
junction with one another still caught the defending side unaware. This always 
had severe consequences, and in particular resulted in the thwarting of a number 
of measures for the strategic deployment of the forces, the disorganization of 
military control, and the unorganized entry into border engagements of forces 
under attack. 

The fascist German command took great care in trying to use the most effec¬ 
tive forms to develop the offensive. The “idee Fixe” of the Hitlerite military 
command was the desire to create “new Cannae” at the strategic and opera¬ 
tional level, that is, the desire to develop the offensive with the expectation of 
encircling and destroying large enemy groupings. The offensive overwhelm¬ 
ingly became one of maneuver. While in World War I operations were mainly 
linear in form, and the enemy on the defensive had literally to be pushed out 
of all its positions, in the initial operations of World War II, by using tanks 
and aviation, the fascist German command was able to split and break up the 
defensive front, to capture the enemy's flanks, and then to emerge in its rear. 

To conduct offensive combat operations the enemy resorted to the use of opera¬ 
tions to encircle and destroy enemy forces whenever the conditions for this ex¬ 
isted. The defeat of the main Polish forces was thus achieved because of an 
operation designed to encircle the enemy. The operation was based on the plan 


to make deep concentric attacks from Silesia, Pomerania, and East Prussia. The 
outer ring encircling the Polish forces was closed on the Bug meridian, and 
the inner one in the region to the west of the Vistula. A distinguishing feature 
of the encirclement operations was that, because of the massed use of large tank 
and aviation forces on the axes of the main attacks, maneuver proceeded with 
great speed. 

Usually operations to encircle and destroy large enemy groupings were pre¬ 
ceded by action to split and break up the enemy’s strategic front. The encircle¬ 
ment itself was achieved directly either by carrying out a double envelopment 
or by cutting off defending groupings and pressing them to the sea or against 
any other natural barrier. During the campaign in Western Europe, after breaking 
through the strategic front (through the Ardennes to Abbeville), part of the forces 
of German Army Group A made a turn to the northwest to cut off the main 
forces of the allies and force them to the sea. This maneuver was completed 
on the 10th day of the operation 180 to 200 km from the border. 

On the Soviet-German Front the attack by Army Group North on Daugav¬ 
pils and Pskov pursued the goal of cutting off the forces of the Northwestern 
Front from the main forces of the Red Army. But while in northern France 
the fascist German command had succeeded in such a maneuver, in the Soviet 
Baltic it was not completed. After halting the enemy on the line of the Luga 
River, the forces of the Northwestern Front provided their Baltic grouping with 
the opportunity to escape the attack of Army Group North partly across the Narva 
Isthmus and partly through Tallinn by sea. 

On the Soviet-German Front the fascist German command made very broad 
use of disruptive attacks and subsequently reached the rear of the Soviet forces 
with its tank groupings. At the start of the war the Hitlerite army was able to 
make powerful disruptive frontal attacks against our defenses and to push deeply 
into them on a number of axes on the Baltic, in the western regions of Belorussia, 
and in the Ukraine. 

Usually during an encirclement operation the fascist German command as¬ 
signed formations and operational field forces that would split the encircled troops 
into isolated groups or cut some of them off from the main mass of troops. Thus, 
on the 10th day of the offensive in Poland, when the maneuver in depth to reach 
the line of the Bug by assault groupings of fascist German forces advancing 
from East Prussia and Silesia was far from complete, the main mass of the Polish 
army forces had already been split into five large isolated groupings * The forces 
of our Western Front had been split into three parts, when the fascist German 


•Part of the forces of the maritime army (Pomorze) was cut off near Gdynia in the 'Danzig Cor¬ 
ridor" and forced back to the sea; near Kutno and Lowicz about 10 Polish divisions and 3 cavalry 
brigades were airrounded; 3 divisions were in a ring of German troops near Radom; the large Warsaw 
garrison was encircled; a large grouping of Polish troops, cut off from the main forces, was fighting 
near Lvov Author's note. 


194 


formations succeeded in driving deeply into our defenses. One of them fought 
near Belostok, another at Volkovysk, and the third to the west of Minsk. 

However, on the Soviet-German Front, both in these areas and in other sec¬ 
tors, the fascist German command was unable to create a solid ring of encircle¬ 
ment that would have prevented the escape of a more or less considerable part 
of our forces. 

The fascist German forces’ offensive operations during the first campaigns 
thus showed that the depth and pace of the operations depended not only on 
creation of superiority over the enemy in men and equipment and on the power 
of the first attacks, but also on what forms combat operations took and on how 
men and equipment were used in these operations. 

2. Specific Features of the Combat Employment of the 
Services of the Armed Forces 

From its start World War II not only quite clearly revealed the role of the 
new branches of arms—for example, the tank forces—but also substantially 
altered the importance of the old, "classic” branches of arms—the infantry, 
cavalry, and artillery. The combat employment of different services in the armed 
forces acquired characteristic features as well. 

At the start of World War I strategic operations were carried out either by 
front field forces or by the efforts of several armies,* whose combat capabilities 
were determined primarily by the number of infantry and cavalry formations 
and by the degree to which they were equipped with infantry weapons and ar¬ 
tillery. The belligerents had few aircraft. Tanks had just appeared on the bat¬ 
tlefield. The motor vehicle had stilt not found wide application in transporting 
troops. Under these conditions a strategic operation represented the mere sum 
of army operations, in which the infantry played the decisive role. 

In World War Q the fascist German command, besides ground forces, used 
large masses of aviation and airborne formations, and, on maritime axes, naval 
forces, to achieve the goals of the initial offensive operations. The participation 
in operations of formations and field forces from various services of the armed 
forces gave rise to new types of operations. In addition to the front and army 
operations (in the west, operations of armies and army groups) and naval 
engagements that existed before, there appeared tank force operations (tank 
groups), air assault operations, air operations, and sea operations. As a rule, 
such operations were relatively independent but were closely intertwined and 
merged into a single strategic operation conducted in accord with a single strategic 
plan. 

*At the start of World War I the supreme command in Germany ted the armies directly It did 
not have intermediate levels of command in the form of army-group commands. These elements 
were created during the war Author's note 


195 


Characteristic features of the operations of the fascist German army’s 
ground forces. In the continental theaters of operations the Hitlerite military 
command assigned the main role in offensive operations to the ground forces. 
The highest formation in the ground forces of the Hitlerite Wehrmacht was the 
army group, which, as a rule, was deployed in a theater of operations, or on 
a strategic axis, and had great independence in accomplishing operational- 
strategic missions. It usually consisted of two to four field armies, one to two 
tank groups, and a large number of reinforcement units from the high com¬ 
mand reserve. In operational terms there was one air fleet for each army group. 
An army group had 35 to 50, and sometimes more, infantry, tank, and motorized 
divisions, 9,000 to 15,000 guns and mortars, 500 to 1,000 tanks and assault 
guns, and 500 to 1,500 aircraft. 

The field army, which was the basic operational field force in the Hitlerite 
ground forces, was impressive in its composition and combat capabilities. It 
usually combined two to four army corps and was reinforced with tank and 
motorized formations, as well as with a large quantity of high command reserve 
artillery. An army had 9 to 12 divisions. Possessing great striking force and 
high mobility, the field armies, with the support of tanks and aviation, ac¬ 
complished major and diverse operational missions in the strategic operations. 

The tank and motorized formations were the leading force of the ground forces 
in the Hitlerite army. The number of tank and motorized divisions in the army 
groups varied from 5 (Army Group North in the German-Polish war) to 15 
(Army Group Center at the time of Hitlerite Germany's attack on the USSR). 
The largest number of tank formations was included in those army groups that 
conducted operations on the axes of the main attacks. In fighting on these axes, 
as a rule in compact groupings in the vanguard of the army groups, the tank 
and motorized formations developed high rates of advance. 

The methods of using the tank forces varied. At the start of World War II, 
for example in the Polish campaign, the fascist German command turned over 
all its tank and motorized divisions to the field armies. Each of the armies re¬ 
ceived from one division (the 3rd Army) up to one or two tank (or motorized) 
corps. The 10th Army, which was to carry the main attack from Army Group 
South, thus had one tank and one motorized corps (two tank and two motorized 
divisions). 

Before the start of the campaign in Western Europe, the fascist German com¬ 
mand created a powerful tank group under the command of General Kleist that 
consisted of two tank and one motorized corps (a total of five tank and three 
motorized divisions). This group was to be used for operations on the axes of 
the main attack and was directly under the command of Army Group A. At 
the same time, certain armies, for example the 4th, 6th, and 18th, were given 
one tank corps each. 2 


196 


The creation of Kleist’s powerful tank group showed the Hitlerite command's 
intention to make massed use of the tank forces. 

In the war against the Soviet Union the fascist German command went even 
further in the massed use of tank forces. All the tank and motorized divisions 
were put into tank groups (with two to three corps in each) and these were then 
renamed tank armies. Each tank group, which had from 800 to 1,200 tanks, 
fought on the axis of the army group's main attack. In certain instances army 
groups attacking on two axes were given two tank groups. Army Group Center, 
at the start of the war on the Soviet-German Front, thus had two tank groups. 
Each of them fought on a separate operational axis. 

The massed use of tank forces made operations highly fluid and dynamic. 
A distinguishing feature in the use of tank forces was that they usually fought 
in the first echelons. This was explained by the Hitlerite command’s desire from 
the start of an operation to strike a stunning blow at the enemy and to penetrate 
to the operational depth of its defenses in the shortest possible time. 

Mobile forces were not usually called on to fight against enemy groups holding 
strongpoints or areas in the rear, or even against those that threatened with flank 
attacks. As a rule, the mission of combating these groups was entrusted to in¬ 
fantry formations of the field armies that advanced behind the tank forces. 

However, on the Soviet-German Front the fascist German command had to 
make an exception to this rule. And so, because of the heavy resistance put 
up by our forces encircled to the west of Minsk, the command of Army Group 
Center was forced to keep the main forces of both tank groups in this area. 

The decisive forms and methods of using large tank groups did not take shape 
all at once. In the Polish campaign and in the offensive in the west the principle 
of massing tanks on the main axes was not completely adhered to. Thus, in con¬ 
ducting operations in Poland, the fascist German command, after creating a tank 
assault grouping in the 10th Field Army’s zone of advance, still distributed a 
considerable part of the tanks among the remaining advancing armies. This was 
because on the battlefields in Poland the fascist German command still feared 
a great separation of the tank formations from the main forces of the field ar¬ 
mies. Often a successfully developing offensive by the tank forces to the opera¬ 
tional depth was deliberately held up from fear that the enemy would defeat 
them with flank attacks or would cut off the lines of communications of tank 
groups that had pushed ahead. 

In the campaign in Western Europe the combining of several tank formations 
to make a large mobile group under a unified command for operations on a 
main axis was undoubtedly a major step forward in the combat employment 
of tank forces; but during an operation, the principle of their massed use was 
repeatedly violated. Thus, on the sixth day of combat operations, when after 


197 




crossing the Meuse the enemy’s strategic front was broken through and favorable 
conditions were created for a rapid breakthrough by the mobile forces into the 
rear, there came a strict order from the high command of the ground forces 
to halt the advance of the tank formations that had pushed ahead and to hold 
them until the approach of the lagging infantry. Kleist’s tank group was subor¬ 
dinate to the commander of the 12th Field Army and was used for a joint offen¬ 
sive with the infantry. Moreover, one of the tank corps of the group was under 
the commander of an army corps, and he put the tanks in his reserve. This ex¬ 
ample demonstrated that the fear of finding the mobile forces isolated from the 
formations of the field armies during an operation still had not been overcome. 
It was not until the final stage of this operation that the tank forces were again 
put in compact groupings, after which their advance continued at high rates. 

After the fall of France the fascist German command analyzed the Polish and 
French campaigns. Important adjustments were made in the methods of employ¬ 
ing tank forces, and these were reflected in the initial offensive operations on 
the Soviet-German Front. Tank groups there received great freedom of opera¬ 
tion. The gap between the forward units of the tank corps and the main forces 
of the field armies reached 80 to 100 km, and sometimes even more. In truth, 
the tank formations that pushed ahead often came under flank attacks from Soviet 
forces and suffered major losses, as happened, for example, in the region to 
the southeast of Vilnius and near Soltsy. For this reason, the fascist German 
command was also afraid on the Soviet-German Front of isolating the mobile 
formations from the field armies. 

In the operational depth the tank formations, which on certain lines were re¬ 
placed by infantry divisions, usually rushed ahead, preempting Soviet forces 
moving up from the interior in occupying terrain areas advantageous for con¬ 
ducting combat operations. The tank groupings’ rapid penetration into the deep 
rear of the defending forces made it possible to attack approaching reserves, 
to cross large water obstacles from a march formation, and to seize communica¬ 
tions centers and other important operational-strategic objectives. This method 
of operation by the tank forces was widely employed by the fascist German 
command to overcome the defensive zones in Poland, Belgium, Holland, and 
France, and to cross such rivers as die Vistula, Meuse, and, on Soviet territory, 
the Berezina, Western Dvina, and Dnepr. 

The fascist German tank forces played a crucial role in carrying out deep 
breakthroughs and in dividing and breaking up the strategic front of defending 
forces. This role can be shown from the example of the deep divisive attack 
made by Kleist's tank group and, later, by the attack made by Hoth’s tank group 
through central Belgium in the direction of Cambrai and Abbeville. The attacks 
were carried out by ramming through the opponent. This made it possible for 
the fascist German mobile forces, operating with active air support, to split and 
break up the allied defensive front, having deprived the Anglo-French com¬ 
mand of the opportunity to organize cooperation between the separated groups 


198 




of the Dutch and Belgian forces, the French 1st and 9th armies, and the English 
expeditionary corps. 

As for the combat employment of infantry formations, on the main axes they 
advanced, as a rule, behind the mobile forces. Engaging enemy forces left in 
the rear of the tank formations, the infantry filled in the breaches in the enemy’s 
strategic front, and, if possible, completed the encirclement, dividing and destroy¬ 
ing enemy groupings. Motorized infantry formations, advancing behind the tank 
forces, reinforced and held the captured lines until the approach of the main 
forces of the field armies. Fighting on secondary axes, the infantry formations 
contained the enemy from the front, thus supporting the maneuver of forces 
advancing on the main axes. The repelling of enemy counterattacks was carried 
out, as a rule, by infantry formations with the support of tanks and aviation. 
The conduct of defensive operations by infantry formations alone was a rare 
occurrence in the initial operations. 

The air force. The success of the initial operations in both the continental 
and naval theaters of operations was inseparably linked with the combat activ¬ 
ity of the air force. Its particular importance in joint operations both on land 
and at sea was displayed with exceptional force. For the first time in the history 
of warfare the combat activities of the ground and naval forces lost their relative 
independence and became dependent on a third force—aviation. 

The Hitlerite military command, recognizing the great firepower, depth of 
penetration, and maneuverability of aviation, sought to make full use of its 
capabilities in the initial operations. To a great degree it was because of the 
air force that Germany was able to achieve surprise in the first attack, to seize 
the strategic initiative from the start of the campaign, and to thwart or disrupt 
the deployment of enemy forces. Ultimately, it was aviation, in close coopera¬ 
tion with tank and mechanized formations on land and ships at sea, that gave 
the initial operations their enormous scope and swiftness. 

However, the combat capabilities of aviation could be used fully only if air 
supremacy could be won and maintained. From the start of the war, as, inciden¬ 
tally, throughout the entire war, the struggle to control the skies was an integral 
part of any offensive operation. This was the first mission of fascist German 
aviation. 

A second crucial mission for the fascist German air force during the initial 
period was to thwart the mobilization and deployment of enemy armed forces. 
Fascist aviation carried out this mission by making massed attacks against ad¬ 
ministrative and political centers, railroad and highway junctions, major naval 
bases, ports and anchorages, lines of communications, military compounds, and 
troop columns advancing toward the front. 


199 





Finally, fascist German aviation's third mission during the initial operations 
was to provide continuous support to advancing ground forces and, in the naval 
theaters, to protect tleet combat activity. After carrying out the First two mis¬ 
sions, to which the First days of the war were allotted, the third mission became 
the main one until the end of the initial operations. 

Carrying out this mission, German aviation covered the troops against enemy 
air attacks and conducted aerial reconnaissance and informed the command about 
threats of enemy attacks from the front or the flanks. The most effective method 
of assisting the advancing forces was with air attacks against advancing enemy 
reserves. 

In the combat use of aviation, as in the employment of tank forces, the fascist 
German command adhered to the principle of massing forces on the main axis 
at the decisive moment. This can be clearly seen, for example, in the opera¬ 
tions of Hitlerite aviation in crossing the Meuse River. On the morning of 13 
May 1940 the German 1st Tank Division approached the river and began prepar¬ 
ing to cross it. The division's artillery had fallen behind, and French units opened 
up with heavy artillery fire against the enemy. There could be no question of 
crossing the river until the French artillery was suppressed. By noon about 1,000 
fascist German aircraft appeared over the battlefield. The dive bombers com¬ 
pletely suppressed the French batteries, and so created the conditions for cross¬ 
ing the river. 

Aviation also played a great role in battles with encircled enemy groupings, 
and in the naval theaters was decisive in the navy's success in winning sea 
supremacy. 

A mere listing of the missions carried out by aviation during the initial period 
shows how diverse and. at the same time, essential its aid was to the ground 
and naval forces. 

The airborne forces. The use of airborne assault forces in the first opera¬ 
tions of World War II was as new a phenomenon as the massed use of aviation 
and tank forces. 

The rapid development of aviation in the prewar years, particularly military 
transport aviation, created real conditions for the use of airborne assault forces. 
In the Soviet Union great attention was devoted to the development of airborne 
forces. In a number of major exercises in the Ukraine and Belorussia in the 
mid-1930s the achievements and enormous capabilities of the airborne forces 
were demonstrated. * At the end of the 1930s the fascist German command, mak¬ 
ing use of the Soviet Union 's experience, took great care in preparing to employ 
airborne forces in combat operations. 

*The English general Waved, who observed paratrooper exercises in the Red Army in 19S6. reported 
to the British government "II I had not witnessed this rnvselt. I well III never have believed that 
such an operation was possible at all" i A < lose! I v, jt,trtnh\un\l\ ' | Attention. Paratroopers! | 

(Moscow: I/dalePstve innsit.imnv hici.tfur. lost, n a- 


200 


Airborne assault forces were used for the first time by the Hitlerite command 
in the operations to capture Denmark and Norway. These were tactical assault 
forces that, after seizing airfields, bridges, road junctions, and several beachheads 
on the coast of the North Sea. contributed to the successful landing of amphibious 
forces and the rapid advance of ground forces. 

Dropping airborne assault forces into the enemy’s immediate rear during the 
advance of fascist German forces in Belgium and Holland proved very effec¬ 
tive. In Belgium the airborne assault forces’ main goal was to seize the bridges 
across the Meuse and. particularly. Fort Eben Emael. Near the confluence of 
the Meuse and the Albert Canal, this fort covered the approaches to the bridges 
on the Meuse and the defensive positions of the Belgian forces along the Albert 
Canal. The successful operations of the airborne assault forces were a decisive 
factor in the rapid crossing of the Meuse, in the fascist German mobile forma¬ 
tions’ breakthrough to the interior of Belgium, and in the preemption of the 
Belgian forces in occupying defensive positions along the Albert Canal. 

The airborne assault force that landed in Holland, despite heavy casualties 
and the loss of surprise, carried out its mission successfully. It seized several 
airfields, captured a number of crossings over the Meuse, Waal, and Lower 
Rhine, and prevented the Dutch army from organizing strong defenses on the 
eastern and southern approaches to The Hague. 

The success of the Hitlerite army’s airborne assault operations depended greatly 
not only on the actions of the assault forces themselves, but also on active air 
support. Aviation supplied the assault forces with weapons, ammunition, and 
other materiel when extended battles had to be conducted in isolation from the 
main forces, as happened in Norway. By making air attacks against the enemy, 
aviation helped to repel attacks in the assault forces’ operations area, as hap¬ 
pened, for example, near Fort Eben Emael. Aviation carried on the fight against 
enemy aircraft if they were interfering with the advance of the assault forces; 
in particular, this was seen in the aerial combat against English aviation forces 
on the approaches to The Hague. 

The employment of airborne formations in Denmark. Norway, the 
Netherlands, and Belgium showed that the operations of even tactical airborne 
assault formations landed (or dropped) simultaneously in a number of areas in 
the immediate operational depth, or at a greater distance from the front line, 
assumed great operational importance. Combined with simultaneous air attacks 
and a decisive advance by tank and infantry formations from the front, airborne 
assault forces could thwart or disrupt the planned strategic deployment of enemy 
armed forces, disorganize enemy defenses, spread panic among the local popula¬ 
tion and the army, and ensure high rates of advance for offensive operations. 
When the pursuit of the enemy started, airborne assault forces dropped on the 
enemy’s path of withdrawal gave great aid to the ground forces in completing 
their defeat of retreating enemy forces. 


201 





Specific features of naval operations. Because of the continental character 
of the engagements in Europe, naval activity during the fascist German armed 
forces’ initial offensive operations (with the exception of operations in Norway) 
was limited. 

During the Polish campaign the navy's main mission was to mine the straits 
zone. In doing this, the fascist German naval command tried to provide for itself 
freedom of operations to defeat the weak Polish navy and to block enemy 
merchant shipments across the Baltic Sea. Only once was the navy called on to 
support the ground forces. This occurred when the Polish garrison heroically 
defending the Hel Peninsula and the ports of Westerplatte and Gdynia had to 
be neutralized. To accomplish this mission, the old battleship Schleswig-Holstein, 
which had been turned into a training vessel, and a similar ship, Schlesien , were 
used. 

Assistance from the fascist German navy to the forces advancing in the 
Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France was virtually ruled out, since the 
coast was controlled by the navies of these nations and by the English navy, 
which prevailed in the North Sea and English Channel. For the same reason, 
even during the final stage of the fascist German forces’ May offensive, when 
the English and French units pressed to the sea were evacuated in hundreds of 
vessels from Dunkirk to the British Isles, the Hitlerite navy was unable to in¬ 
terfere with the conduct of this operation in a substantial way. 

The fascist German navy also carried out limited missions during the initial 
period of war against the Soviet Union. Its main activity in the Baltic Sea was 
to mine the coastal waters of the Baltic and the Gulf of Finland. At this time 
ships of the fascist German navy did not undertake active combat operations 
in the North and Black seas. 

Only the combat operations of the fascist German navy against Denmark and 
Norway were marked by great activity and decisiveness. They made up an im¬ 
portant part of the operation by the Hitlerite forces to seize these nations, an 
operation that represented a system of attacks by amphibious and airborne assault 
units carried out under a unified plan. 

The “Fifth Column." The Hitlerite military leadership assigned a special 
place to the so-called fifth column* in achieving the goals of the war’s initial 
period. 


•The term fifth column was first used during the civil war in Spain by the Franco general Emilio 
Mola. Speaking by radio at the start of October 1936, he announced that the rebel forces advancing 
on the Republican capital Madrid from four directions (in four columns) would be supported by 
an attack against Madrid by Franco supporters who were in the city itself, and that this fifth column 
would be the first to start the offensive. Since that time the term fifth column has come to mean 
the forces hostile to an existing political system and operating inside t nation in the interests of 
a hostile nation. Author's note. 


202 




In most of the countries subjected to fascist aggression, the nucleus of the 
fifth column was made up of the German national minorities. Many citizens 
of German nationality in these countries were profascist and were members of 
the foreign sections of the Nazi Party. For example, in Poland, there were around 
3,000 such persons, about 2,000 in Denmark, and about 3,000 in the 
Netherlands. 3 

In many countries that were the victims of Hitlerite expansion there were also 
a number of people from the representatives of the ruling classes, or merely 
declasse elements, who openly or secretly were supporters of Hitler. They joined 
parties and political groups whose activities supported fascist Germany, and they 
even had their own homegrown “fuhrers.” In England there was the rather 
well-known Mosley, in Yugoslavia, Pavelic, in Norway, Quisling, and so on. 
Certainly, the Hitlerite leadership made wide use of such people for subversive 
activities. 

Finally, the fifth column included German agents specially sent into various 
countries by the Hitlerite leadership. 

The first operations showed that in the capitalist countries subjected to 
aggression—where many representatives of the ruling classes were more 
concerned about preserving their privileges than about the interests of the 
nation—there were favorable grounds for subversive activity with the most lethal 
consequences. This was particularly apparent in France, where profascist leaders 
like Petain and Gamelin actually betrayed the French people. 

The activities of the fifth column caused enormous damage in Poland. This 
was manifested in the spread of false rumors, the conduct of major sabotage, 
and, finally, in active armed aid to the Hitlerite forces. Thus, the Polish Nazis, 
together with diversionary detachments numbering up to 5,000 men (disguised 
as miners and factory workers) transferred from Germany, seized a number 
of major factories and mines in the western regions of Poland during the first 
day of the war; the Nazi organization formed in Polish Silesia took control of 
Katowice even before the arrival of regular fascist German forces. 

Local Nazi groups operated together with Hitlerite agents in Denmark, 
Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium. They also carried out purely military 
missions; for example, they cleared obstacles from the Hitlerite forces’ routes 
of advance, prevented the destruction of bridges, railroads, and highways, 
destroyed communication lines and centers, and so forth. Many of the local Nazis 
served as translators and guides. 

The Hitlerite government’s attempt to create a fifth column in the Soviet Union 
failed completely. The hopes of undermining the morale and political unity of 
the Soviet people were groundless. The Soviet people’s great political awareness, 
their solidarity around the Communist Party, and their devotion to its ideas 
proved an insurmountable barrier for Nazi propaganda. 


203 



Subversive activity in the enemy rear is not a new phenomenon in military 
history. It has been observed in all wars without exception. But the scope and 
forms imparted to it by the Hiderite leadership during the years preceding World 
War II and during the war itself were unequal ed 

The war showed that this method of combat is extremely dangerous and must 
not be underestimated, but also that subversive activity loses its effectiveness 
when decisive measures are taken to prevent it and when the fifth column is 
fought by an entire nation armed with an awareness of its great responsibility 
for the Motherland’s security. 

* * 

* 

An analysis of initial offensive operations in the European theaters of opera¬ 
tions shows a great increase in their role and importance in warfare. The exten¬ 
sive use of such weapons as tanks and aircraft, and the decisive forms and 
methods of conducting warfare, led to a sharp increase in the scope of combat 
operations. During the first operations the fascist German army, which had 
preempted its enemies in the strategic deployment of their armed forces and 
had seized the strategic initiative, found itself capable not only of capturing vast 
territories and inflicting serious damage on large strategic enemy groupings, 
but also of actually removing entire nations from the war. 

The first surprise attack was of decisive importance in achieving major results 
in the initial operations. All the power of the air and ground forces designated 
to conduct these operations and concentrated in advance on selected axes was 
used in such attacks. 

Tank forces and aviation were the foundation of the fascist German army’s 
assault groupings. Their massed and purposeful employment on the axes of the 
main attacks resulted in rapid breakthrough of a front’s defense, its fragmenta¬ 
tion or complete breakdown, and the formation of extensive gaps that the defend¬ 
ing side was not always able to fill. From the start of the war combat operations 
became extremely fluid. 

The rapid development of initial offensive operations over vast areas, with 
a front sometimes extending more than 1,000 km, led to a situation in which 
combat operations proceeded simultaneously in the border regions and in the 
operational depth hundreds of kilometers from the border. The solid front disap¬ 
peared during the initial operations. To restore the front, the defending side, 
if it controlled sufficient territory, had to withdraw its forces to a considerable 
depth; there, at defensive positions readied in advance or hastily created, and 
with the help of reserves moved up from the country’s interior, the defending 
side had to take organized counteractions against the advancing forces. The only 
country in a position to conduct this type of active strategic defense was the 




Soviet Union, which possessed great territory, tremendous military and economic 
potential, and, most important, the moral and political determination of the people 
and their Armed Forces. 

The series of initial operations systematically carried out by fascist Germany 
on the western and eastern fronts had tremendous strategic consequences. Poland, 
Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, Greece, and 
France were defeated in the initial operations. England lost its allies in Europe 
and faced the threat of an invasion of its own territory by fascist German forces. 

The resistance offered to the fascist German army on the Soviet-German Front, 
and the losses it suffered in the initial operations, upset the Hitlerite command’s 
strategic calculations. Instead of an unhindered advance into the Soviet interior, 
as provided for in the Barbarossa plan, fascist German forces had to repel power¬ 
ful attacks by our forces on the most important axes. The idea of a blitzkrieg 
defeat of the Soviet Union collapsed. The war became a drawn-out affair; the 
attendant factors that had played a primary role in the initial operations lost their 
importance. 

Notes 

1. See Patriotic War Short History, p. 68. 

2. See G. Boucher, Bronetankovoye oruzhiye v voyne [Armor in Ihe War) (Moscow Izdatel'slvo 
inostrannoy literatury, 1956). pp. 111-112. 

3. See L. de Jong, Nemetskaya pyataya kolonna vo vtoroy mirovoy voyne [The German Fifth Col¬ 
umn in World War II| (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo inostrannoy literatury, 19S8). pp 241,2S7. 299. 


205 





Chapter 10. The Collapse of the Strategic 
Defense in Poland and Western 
Europe 


Strategic defense was used by the Polish and Anglo-French command at the 
start of the war to repel aggression. The military doctrines and operational- 
strategic plans of these nations called for this. The actual course of events from 
the start of combat operations in Poland and in France, however, differed greatly 
from the plans and calculations of the Polish and Anglo-French commands. 
The defensive operations of the Polish and allied armies ended in a major defeat. 
For Poland this defeat meant defeat in the war; for France, it virtually deter¬ 
mined ahead of time the war’s outcome in the enemy’s favor. 


1. The Conduct of Strategic Defense by the Polish Army 

The border engagements (the first stage of the war). The first defensive bat¬ 
tles were undertaken by Polish formations, as provided for in the war plan, at 
the forward positions (the Modlin, Pomorze, and Lodz armies); but on certain 
axes where the main defensive zone ran directly along the border (the Krakow 
Army), defensive battles were fought right in the main zone. 

From the first day of the war German aviation seized air supremacy. From 
the second or third day of the war German aviation's main efforts were shifted 
to supporting the advance of friendly forces and to thwarting Polish mobiliza¬ 
tion movements linked with completing the deployment of the Polish army. Polish 
rail transport was soon disorganized. There could no longer be any question 
of moving reserves up to the front. 1 

Because of the powerful surprise attacks by the fascist German forces, the 
Polish defenses were broken through on a number of axes by the second day 
of the war. The threat of encirclement was created on the flanks of the Lodz 
and Krakow armies, between which a dangerous breach had formed. 

On the northwestern axis the main forces of the Pomorze Army were cut off 
on the third day in a narrow corridor between Pomerania and East Prussia, and 
the units that broke out began to retreat beyond the Vistula. On the Tamow 
axis, along both sides of the Vistula, a completely unprotected gap was formed, 
into which rushed the forces of the German 4th Army. 


206 


The Poznan Army's front was also broken through. This army had been moved 
far to the west into the Poznan salient. 

The Polish command's attempts to carry out the consecutive withdrawal of 
its formations from under enemy attack to the main defensive line was unsuc¬ 
cessful everywhere. The fascist German forces, superior to the retreating for¬ 
mations in mobility and able to move rapidly ahead in the boundary areas be¬ 
tween the Polish armies, greatly outstripped the enemy. Under the threat of en¬ 
circlement the retreating Polish units hurriedly pulled back further. Massed air 
attacks completed the disorganization of the Polish forces’ retreat. 

By the end of 5 September it was apparent that the Polish command’s hopes 
of making an organized withdrawal of its main army forces to the main line, 
and then to hold that line even temporarily until the strategic reserves had com¬ 
pleted their deployment, were not to be realized. By that time each of the armies, 
encircled by the enemy on both flanks, was fighting out of contact with the ad¬ 
jacent armies.* 

The disruption of communications with the staffs and the troops, already felt 
during the first days of the war, assumed threatening proportions. The develop¬ 
ment of events and the combat activity of the troops escaped the Polish com¬ 
mand's control more and more. Only one thing was clear: the defensive strategic 
front in western Poland no longer existed, and it could not be restored. The 
Polish command's hopes to retain important industrial and agricultural regions 
on the left bank of the Vistula had collapsed. A major new decision had to be 
made that would provide for the withdrawal of intact Polish forces to the east 
to recreate a new strategic defensive front along the line of the Narew, Vistula, 
and San rivers. On the evening of 5 September directives were sent to all the 
armies with this plan in mind.t 

The withdrawal of the Polish forces and the attempt to create a new defen¬ 
sive front (the second stage of the war). After the unsuccessful outcome of the 
border engagements, the Polish forces, under the directives of 5 September, 
retreated, attempting to occupy the defensive line set for them. However, this 
line had not been prepared ahead of time. It was under preparation after the 


•On 3 September all forms of communication with the Krakow Army were out of operation from 
noon until late in the evening. On 4 September, for almost the entire day, there was no communica¬ 
tion with the Poznan and Krakow armies. Later, because of moving the high command from War 
saw to Brest, commmunication with all the armies stopped almost completely 
tAccording to directives of 5 September, the Modlin Army and the Narew Operations Group were 
to fall back beyond the Vistula and Narew rivers to the north and northeast of Warsaw and firmly 
cover the right wing of the main forces withdrawing to the Vistula and the San River from the 
west The Poznan Army, with the remnants of the Pomorze Army, was ordered to retreat directly 
to Warsaw to provide reliable cover for the city's western approaches The Lodz and Prusy armies 
were to fall back to the Vistula in the zone to the south of Warsaw, while the Krakow and Car¬ 
pathian armies were to fall back to the San. Author’s note 


207 





war had already begun. And since events were developing rapidly, it turned 
out that by the time the retreating forces reached the line, the construction of 
the defensive works along the Vistula River had not been completed, and the 
preparation of the line along the Narew and San rivers had not started at all. 
The situation was aggravated because the Polish command had virtually no 
strategic reserves that could occupy the new strategic defensive front ahead of 
time or at least cover the most dangerous axes. During the defensive engage¬ 
ment in the western regions of Poland, and during the retreat to the defensive 
line along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers, the Polish command repeatedly 
tried to make at least partial improvements in the strategic situation, particularly 
on the most threatened southwestern axis, by organizing counterattacks against 
the enemy. However, the Polish command’s small reserves, which also included 
infantry divisions and cavalry brigades with little mobility and comparatively 
weak striking power, did not make it possible to put up more or less reliable 
opposition to the enemy tank groupings that were rushing ahead. In practice, 
these reserves were frequently used primarily to strengthen the defenses of for¬ 
mations in the first echelon and to cover gaps in the breakthrough areas of the 
fascist German tank formations. 

To carry out the counterattack against the main grouping of the German 10th 
Army and against the 16th Motorized Corps, which was breaking through by 
way of Piotrkow to Tomaszow Mazowiecki, the commander of the Prusy Reserve 
Army had only one infantry division and one cavalry brigade. The counterat¬ 
tack was poorly organized, and the already weak forces of this army were split 
for operations on two diverging axes. Cooperation with the Lodz Army, on whose 
flank the counterattack was being made, was not organized; there was no depend¬ 
able cover and support for the forces brought up for the counterattack. The 
counterattack in fact turned into uncoordinated attacks that could not have any 
noticeable influence on the development of events. The counterattack grouping 
itself was defeated and was crushed during retreat. 

Nor were any important operational results achieved by the Poznan Army’s 
counterattack, which was carried out jointly with part of the forces from the 
Pomorze Army. The attack was made from Kutno to the south across the Bzura 
River against the left flank of the German 8th Army. 

This counterattack was to smash the northern flank grouping of the German 
8th Army to provide better conditions for the retreat of the Poznan and Pomorze 
army formations to Warsaw. For the counterattack, a group was organized con¬ 
sisting of three infantry divisions and a heavy artillery regiment. The Polish 
formations began a surprise attack in an area 24 km wide on the night of 19 
September, when German aviation could not prevent development of a success. 
In the battles that started on 10 and 11 September the German 30th Infantry 
Division was routed. The Polish forces took 1,500 prisoners and captured 30 
guns. The units covering the left flank of the German 8th Army were pushed 
back several kilometers to the south of the Bzura River. However, the fascist 




German command was able to rapidly move the main forces of the 8th Army 
and motorized formations from the 4th and 10th armies to the operations area. 
Soon after that the Poznan Army was enveloped from all sides by 16 German 
divisions and was forced to go over to an all-round defense. 

From 1 through 17 September the Polish command repeatedly tried to organize 
counterattacks against the enemy, but these attacks, in taking the form of small- 
scale efforts, usually did not contribute even important tactical successes. 

The Polish command was ultimately unable to create a new strategic front 
along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers. This can be explained by a number 
of factors. The Polish army was inferior to the fascist German forces in maneuver 
capabilities, and for that reason its formations, still unable to escape the enemy 
attack and reinforce themselves on a given defensive line, again came under 
enemy attack. The enemy frequently appeared in the rear communications zone 
of the retreating troops, forcing them to engage in battle under disadvantageous 
conditions. 

The air supremacy of fascist German aviation complicated the retreat. By 
bombing the retreating units, and by destroying bridges, roads, and ferry cross¬ 
ings, German aviation reduced the Polish forces' rate of retreat, slowing it 
noticeably. 

The lack of strategic and operational reserves deprived the Polish command 
of the chance to fill in the breaches between the armies, to make sufficiently 
strong counterattacks against the enemy, and to take up intermediate defensive 
lines in good time. The frequent disruptions in communications between the 
high command and the staffs and troops, and later the virtual loss of control, 
greatly intensified the disorganization of the Polish forces' retreat. 

The final engagements and the defeat of Poland (the third stage of the war) 
By mid-September, because of the deep advance by fascist German forces on 
the decisive axes and the breakup of the Polish forces' single strategic defen¬ 
sive front into isolated areas of resistance, the war entered its final phase. This 
was in fact the end of the German-Polish war. although scattered combat opera¬ 
tions, often very fierce, continued until the start of October. This stage of the 
war was characterized by the complete disorganization of political and military 
control and by the virtual collapse of the country’s higher political leadership. 

The disintegration of the system of higher political and military leadership 
in Poland started in the first days of the war. The president of the republic left 
the capital on 1 September. On the next day of the war Commander in Chief 
Rydz-Smigly began to view it as a hopeless cause. On 2 September he let slip 
to those around him the well-known phrase about the inevitable defeat of the 
Polish army. Several days later he called the loss of the war a "fatal inevitabil¬ 
ity.” 2 On 4 September the evacuation of state institutions, documents, and gold 


209 


reserves from Warsaw began. On 5 September all the members of the govern¬ 
ment left Warsaw, intending to assemble in Lublin. But this could not be done. 
Control of the country was paralyzed. Soon after that the government fled abroad. 

The disorganization of the higher military command was completed when the 
main staff of the Polish army was actually split into two leadership organs after 
the commander in chief and a group of general staff officers left for Brest on 
the night of 7 September while the chief of the main staff and a few officers 
remained in Warsaw. The staff of the commander in chief in Brest proved inef¬ 
fective. as it had no reliable communications with the troops. Its last general 
command was the order of 10 September to concentrate the retreating forces 
in the southeast of the country to create a new defensive front close to the border 
with Romania. But this command could not be carried out, since the fascist Ger¬ 
man mobile formations, after breaking through into Galicia, once again blocked 
the path for the retreat of the Polish forces. 

By mid-September the Polish army no longer existed as a unified whole. 
However, in various regions of Poland, particularly around cities and industrial 
centers, there were still a number of so-called hot spots in which Polish forces 
and members of the local population showed heroic resistance to the aggressor. 
Some of these hot spots had large garrisons that fought stubbornly and long, 
tying down large enemy forces, as happened, for example, at Kutno. Warsaw. 
Radom, and Demhlin. Smal’ detachments, with rare exceptions, ceased to exist 
after 1 to 2 days. 

The garrisons of the Hel Peninsula and the town of Westerplatte put up heroic 
resistance to the fascist German invaders. The Hel defenders showed particular 
courage. Their garrison was surrounded much earlier than the others, hut. in 
fighting wholeheartedly against the enemy, was the last to stop its resistance. 

The most vivid example of the heroic struggle of the Polish people against 
the Hitlerite invasion was the 20-day defense of Poland's capital. Warsaw. The 
regular troop units and all able members of the city’s population participated 
actively in this struggle, which was fierce and stubborn. The enemy concen¬ 
trated hundreds of artillery pieces around Warsaw and continuously bombed 
the Polish capital from the air. Several times the city's defenders drove off general 
assaults. The city was destroyed and burned. The population was left without 
water and light, but the struggle continued. And it wasn't until 28 September, 
when virtually all of Poland had been occupied, that Warsaw ceased to resist. 

Polish communists fought in the front ranks of the fighters for the national 
independence of Poland. They believed firmly in the ability of the Polish peo¬ 
ple to resist the occupiers, and in Polish courage and tenacity. After Poland's 
defeat they did not lay down their arms. "The war has not ended." one of the 
leaders of the Polish proletariat. Marceli Nowatko, stated in September 193d 


210 


“New forces must be organized against the occupiers to struggle for a democratic 
people's Poland." 3 The Polish communists raised their people to a merciless 
struggle against fascist tyranny. Under the severe conditions of the deep 
underground they honorably carried the banner of the liberation of their coun¬ 
try and made a worthy contribution to the defeat of German fascism. 


2. The Conduct of Strategic Defense by the Allied Armies 
in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Northern France 

The border engagements (the first stage of the operation). The invasion of 
Belgium and the Netherlands by fascist German forces began at 0530 hours on 
10 May. At 0600 hours the Belgian and Dutch governments appealed to the 
allies for aid to repel the aggression. 

The powerful attacks made by fascist Germany on the morning of 10 May 
against northern Belgium and the Netherlands were, in the opinion of the French 
high command, another confirmation of the validity of its prediction about the 
direction of the main enemy attack and the effectiveness of the strategic deploy¬ 
ment of the French armed forces already carried out. For this reason, without 
any hesitation, at 0630 hours the French command gave the order to put the 
Dyle plan into operation. Thus, a new page was opened in the war in Western 
Europe. 

The forward detachments of the French armies, which consisted of cavalry 
and light mechanized divisions, began the planned maneuver march immediately 
after the order. 

According to the calculations of the French command. 5 days would be re¬ 
quired for the complete concentration and deployment of the main forces in the 
1st Army Group on the line of Antwerp, the Dyle River, Wavre, Namur, and 
the Meuse River. This time, it was assumed, would be won by the Dutch and 
Belgian forces in the battles to hold the forward border fortifications. However, 
these plans of the French command collapsed. The Dutch and Belgian forces 
began a rapid retreat, shaken by powerful enemy air attacks and by enemy at¬ 
tacks from the front, as well as by airborne assault operations in the rear. By 
the evening of 10 May the Belgian general staff decided to pull the army back 
to the line of Antwerp and Louvain—to the very line where the deployment of 
the main allied forces was planned. 

In the following 4 days the events on the left wing of the Northeastern Front 
developed with unexpected speed for the French command. The command of 
German Army Group B, by decisive operations of mobile forces and infantry 
formations, paralyzed the resistance of the Dutch and Belgian armies and focused 
all its efforts on reaching the line of the Dyle River ahead of the French forces 
and then forcing them into a meeting engagement under disadvantageous 
conditions. 


211 


On 15 May the Dutch army, cut off from the allied armies and without hope 
of aid from them, surrendered. This had severe consequences for the defenses 
of the allied armies. The command of German Army Group B, having redeployed 
the 18th Army, which had been freed from combat against Dutch forces to the 
south, descended with all its forces on the French, English, and Belgian forces 
that had reached the Dyle River. Heavy battles began under conditions extremely 
unfavorable for the allied forces. The line on which the French command had 
placed such great hopes was poorly equipped with field fortifications. The troops 
went over to the defensive hurriedly, without having completed deployment. 
It was difficult to make effective counterattacks and to repel enemy tank attacks 
because the allied command did not have large mobile formations and powerful 
antitank reserves. A large number of combat aircraft had also been knocked 
out by the first attacks made by fascist German aviation against the French air¬ 
fields. and German aviation gained almost complete air supremacy. 

The strength of resistance of the allied armies was weakened by the virtual 
absence of cooperation between the French, English, and Belgian forces. The 
French supreme command, which had lost control over the course of events, 
could no longer direct the combat activity of the forces of the Northeastern Front, 
having put the responsibility for coordinating the operations of the allied armies 
on the front's commander, General Georges; he, in turn, gave this responsibil¬ 
ity to the commander of the 1st Army Group, General Billotte. But in practice, 
this did little to establish cooperation between the allied forces. The command 
of each national army was guided by its own considerations in its actions. Not 
until 12 May was there a joint meeting of the representatives of the allied forces; 
there the necessity was recognized of putting the leadership of the national ar¬ 
mies under the French command. But it was already too late. 

At the time when all the attention of the French command was focused on 
its northern flank—on the events in Holland and in northern and central 
Belgium—the catastrophe in the Ardennes occurred. On the right wing of the 
French 1st Army Group, in the operations zone of its weakest 9th and 2nd 
armies— where the buildup of major enemy efforts was least expected—the fascist 
German forces made a powerful attack. All the strategic calculations of the 
French command were shattered. A large enemy grouping, after crossing the 
forested mountains of the Ardennes, began an offensive between the 1st and 
2nd armies. The right wing of the 1st Army Group was attacked by four Ger¬ 
man tank corps, of which three (seven tank and three motorized divisions) were 
aimed directly at the weakest link in the French defenses—the defensive zone 
of the 9th Army. 

The announcement of the appearance of hundreds of fascist German tanks 
in the zone of the 9th Army caused complete confusion at French headquarters. 
Only then did the French command understand how wrong it had been in assess¬ 
ing the direction of the main attack by the Hitlerite army. 

Without waiting for the approach of the artillery and the main forces of the 
tank corps, which were stretched over an enormous distance from the Rhine 


212 




to the Meuse.* the fascist German command unleashed concentrated air attacks 
against the positions of the French 9th and 2nd armies. For 8 hours on 13 May. 
12 squadrons of dive bombers continuously attacked the French positions on 
the front line and in the depth of the defenses, after which tank formations began 
to cross the Meuse. 

The scattered counterattacks on 14 May by formations of the French 2nd and 
9th armies and the French 3rd Armored Division, and the attacks by the limited 
forces of English and French aviation, were unable to substantially influence 
the operations of the German tank formations. By 15 May these formations had 
crossed the Meuse on the entire front from Sedan to Namur, crushed the 
resistance of the 9th Army, captured a broad bridgehead on the left bank of 
the river, and, no longer encountering any organized resistance, moved rapidly 
westward. 

The events of the first days of the war opened the eyes of the French com¬ 
mand to the errors in its strategic plans and strategic deployment of its forces. 
Here was fully seen the French command's bias in assessing probable enemy 
operations, along with all the inevitable consequences of this bias, for example, 
the even distribution of strategic reserves along the entire front. Such a distribu¬ 
tion deprived the French command of the ability to reorganize rapidly to solve 
unforeseen strategic problems. The border engagements showed that to correct 
mistakes of strategic deployment in a dynamic, fluid war was virtually 
impossible. 

The events of the first days of the war disclosed major flaws in the system 
of coalition command and control. The sluggishness of the bureaucracy in the 
French high command, which, although belatedly, was entrusted with coor¬ 
dinating the efforts of the allied armies; the multiplicity of intermediate levels 
in the strategic and operational control of the troops; and the numerous levels 
for coordinating various decisions between the allied governments and military 
commands that often could not stand delay—all of this ruled out a flexible 
response by the coalition command to the rapidly changing situation, and effi¬ 
ciency on its part in taking retaliatory measures against threatening enemy 
operations, t 


•As Tippelskirk attests. "During the offensive the mobile formations were greatly extended Their 
rear guard, and the motorized divisions following them, were still along the Rhine, while the ad¬ 
vance units had already reached the Meuse'’ (see K Tippelskirk. Istonya vtoroy mirovoy vo\n\ 
(History of World War 11} (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo inostrannoy literatim, 1956). p 76) 
fThus, French aviation was completely under the chief of staff of the French air force. For any 
army commander to summon aircraft to repel an enemy attack, it was necessary to turn to the com¬ 
mander of the army group, who would send a request to the commander of the Northeastern Front; 
the latter, in turn, would make contact with the commander in chief, who would give the orders 
to the chief of staff of the air force. To summon English aviation from the expeditionary corps 
for aid. it was necessary to pass through many levels of command to the commander of English 
aviation, who was on the continent; to summon English aviation stationed at airfields in England, 
a request had to be sent to the chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Here ii must be con¬ 
sidered that the request could not be carried out in less than 16 hours (see Proektor, pp 267 268) 


213 




The attempt to close the breakthrough and restore the strategic defen¬ 
sive front (the second stage of the operation). The sudden and rapid breakthrough 
of the 9th Army’s defenses on the Meuse between Sedan and Namur and the 
rapid advance of the fascist German tank formations to the west required that 
immediate measures be taken to end the growing threat of the French forces’ 
defeat. At the same time, there were no readily available men and equipment 
for this either on the threatened axis or in the immediate rear of the army and 
the flanks adjacent to it. Pan of the strategic reserves had already been drawn 
into an engagement in the front’s northern sector, or was heading there rapidly, 
while another was behind the Maginot Line and able to reach the breakthrough 
area in several days at best. 

After assessing the entire complexity of the situation, the French high com¬ 
mand immediately gave orders for the return to the breakthrough area of reserve 
formations sent to the northern wing of the 1st Army Group; the order was also 
given to shift reserve divisions from the Maginot Line to the line between the 
Somme and Ain rivers. On 14 May the high command appealed to London for 
emergency aid, having stated that French forces were powerless to meet the 
combined attacks of the mass of German tanks and dive bombers. On 15 May 
Daladier appealed directly to Churchill in a telegram: "We have lost the battle. 
The road to Paris is open. Send us all the aircraft and all the troops you can.’’ 4 
Churchill, obviously still thinking of World War I like the French command, 
stated that, judging from the war of 1914-1918, the Germans must halt for 5 
to 6 days to bring up the logistics units and organize supply And, in his opinion, 
the French must count on this in organizing to repel the German attack. Never¬ 
theless. during the night of 16 May, he flew to Paris to discuss the situation 
that had arisen with the French government. 

On 16 May Churchill and Reynaud met, along with representatives of the 
higher French and English military commands, and discussed immediate 
measures to eliminate the difficult situation on the front. 

At the meeting no precise plan was worked out for further joint operations. 
Nevertheless, both sides supported Gamelin's idea, expressed for the first time 
at the meeting, of making a two-sided attack from the north and the south against 
the fascist German tank grouping that had broken through. This fundamentally 
correct decision was not, however, made more specific at that time, although 
the situation required that it be carried out immediately. Only 3 days later, on 
19 May, did Gamelin fly to the staff of the Northeastern Front in order, after 
analyzing the situation on the spot, to lay before the front commander the com¬ 
bat mission derived from this idea. The mission was formulated in extremely 
general terms that made no demands on General Georges and gave him the right 
to make the final decision himself. 

At this time, in the sector to the south of the Maginot Line, French reserve 
formations were moving up with intolerable slowness to the line of the Aisne 


214 



and the Somme. Up to 25 infantry divisions from the 2nd Army Group were 
to be shifted here. But their redeployment was delayed because of active opera¬ 
tions by fascist German aviation. 

The state of emergency in France caused major changes in the government 
and military leadership. Gamelin was removed from the leadership of the armed 
forces. Along with him, a large group of generals and officers was removed 
from leading positions. On 20 May Weygand became the new commander in 
chief. Petain was appointed vice chairman of the cabinet. 

While these shifts in the higher political and military leadership were being 
carried out, while the reasons were becoming clear for the catastrophe on the 
Meuse, and while the possible direction of the further development of the fascist 
German offensive was becoming apparent (to Paris or to the north), German 
mobile formations, despite repeated halts because of the danger of flank 
counterattacks by French forces, were advancing to the west at a rate of 30 to 
50 km per day. By 20 May they had reached Arras and the mouth of the Somme, 
having cut off the 1st Army Group from the remaining French forces. 

During these critical days the French command repeatedly organized counterat¬ 
tacks against the German tank groupings that had broken through, but these 
usually did not produce the needed effect, since they were carried out without 
coordination and by limited forces and were prepared hurriedly and without 
proper air cover. The combat employment of the armored forces was also very 
ineffective. General de Gaulle noted in his memoirs that France had as many 
tanks as Germany, and while they should have been used in massed formations, 
they were instead scattered over separate sectors of the front. Even those ar¬ 
mored formations that the French had were committed to battle unit by unit 
and were defeated by the enemy unit by unit. TV' 4th Armored Division under 
de Gaulle's command suffered this fate as well. Without completing its organiza¬ 
tion, on 17 May this division was thrown into an attack against fascist German 
forces to the north of Laon. If these armored divisions, de Gaulle noted, had 
been unified earlier, then even with all their imperfections they could have dealt 
heavy blows to the invader * 

Weygand, who on 20 May became the commander of the French armed forces 
(nominally he was also the commander in chief of the joint allied forces), was 
confronted with two main missions: to quickly strengthen the front’s southern 


•Three light mechanized divisions sent for reconnaissance to Liege and Breda, wrote de Gaulle, 
were soon forced to retreat and assume the defensive. The 1st Armored Division, which had been 
assigned to an army corps and which on 16 May had been thrown into a counterattack to the west 
of Namur, was encircled and destroyed. On the same day, units of the 2nd Armored Division, trans¬ 
ferred by rail to Irsonne, were drawn into the general chaos as they unloaded. The forces of the 
just-organized 3rd Armored Division were immediately distributed between the battalions of one 
of the infantry divisions, and that evening were bogged down in unsuccessful counterattacks to the 
south of Sedan (see de Gaulle, I. 65). 


215 


sector; to rescue the northern group of forces. The immediate withdrawal of 
the 1st Army Group to the south, which seemed the most advisable to Weygand, 
could not be counted on for two reasons. First of all, he ran up against the deter¬ 
mined opposition of the English government, which preferred to be on the safe 
side and keep its forces closer to the coast of the North Sea, that is, closer to 
the homeland. Second, as might be expected, this idea was opposed by the 
Belgian king, who was hoping, with allied aid, to hold the remaining part of 
unoccupied Belgian territory. 

Under the existing situation Weygand had no other recourse than to carry 
out Gamelin’s idea (approved by the allies) of a double attack from the north 
and south to restore the split front and to destroy the fascist German tank grouping 
that had broken through; such an attack would ensure freedom of maneuver 
to restore the strategic front, or, if necessary, to withdraw the 1st Army Group’s 
northern wing to the south. 

In the crisis situation, when the French command was vainly trying to unite 
the efforts of the allied armies to restore the broken strategic defensive front, 
all the thoughts of the English government were focused on rescuing its expedi¬ 
tionary corps from destruction and evacuating it as quickly as possible from 
the continent; the Belgian king, having lost confidence in his allies, was already 
considering surrender.* 

On 21 May a conference was held by representatives of the allied command, 
but without the participation of the English. A decision was worked out to launch 
a coordinated meeting engagement by allied forces from the north and south 
against the rear of the fascist German tank grouping that had broken through 
to the west; this was to be carried out on 23 May (the Weygand plan).+ 

The English command, which did not believe in the success of the offensive 
and was preparing to withdraw its forces to Dunkirk, attacked the enemy near 
Arras on 21 May without coordinating the attack with its allies; the English 
command then planned to pull its units back from the Arras salient to the north. 
Although this attack was made with limited forces, it was successful, which 
was unexpected for both sides. The English forces advanced 20 km and took 
400 men prisoner. The attack of the English units caused alarm in the fascist 
German command. The "crisis near Arras" was how the German generals re- 


*In the existing situation, de Gaulle wrote that 'centrifugal forces began to operate immediately. 
The Belgian king quickly began to think about surrender. Lord Go»1 about evacuating the English 
forces, and General Weygand about a truce’* (de Gaulle, 1. 72). 

tAt this conference, held under the chairmanship of Weygand. agreement was reached that the 
attack from the north from Arras to Bapaume would be made by the English army and by the French 
1st Army, which had each allocated two divisions for this purfHise, while the French 7th Army 
would simultaneously go over to the offensive from the south The support of this operation from 
the east was entrusted to the Belgian army, which was to replace pari of the English forces on the 
line of the Schelde and to hold this line during the planned operation Author’s note 


ferred to this event. T Two tank divisions, a motorized infantry brigade, and 
an SS Totenkopf division were brought up toward Arras, t and these, with the 
support of dive bombers, first halted the English forces and then began to push 
them back to the north. 

The commander of the fTens It 1st Army, with no information on the results 
of the conference held the day before, pdeeided on his own initiative to support 
the offensive of the English forces. On the morning of 22 May the assault group¬ 
ing of this army, without having completed its buildup, went over to the offen¬ 
sive to the east of Arras. But at this time the English units were already retreating. 
The hurriedly organized attack by the f rench forces was unsuccessful. 

On 23 May, as provided for by the Weygand plan, the 7th Army went over 
to the offensive, attacking from the Somme to the north. By this time the army 
still had not completed its buildup and deployment, and so the attack was made 
with limited forces on a broad front The attack was futile. 

Thus, the so-called Weygand counteroffensive, on which the French com¬ 
mand placed great hopes, did not bring success. Many military researchers and 
participants of these events have asserted that if the Weygand plan had been 
well thought out and carefully organized, d the French command had shown 
greater decisiveness and tenacity in putting it into effect, if. furthermore, the 
offensive had been carried out with larger forces concentrated on narrow sec¬ 
tors of the front, and it the efforts of the allies had been coordinated and 
permeated with a united will for victory. then the meeting engagement by the 
allied armies through the corridor between Arras and Peronne up to 40 km wide 
could have substantially altered the course of the strategic defensive operation 
in favor of the allies. Possibly events could have happened in this manner, but 
the fact remains that because ot a whole list of reasons, the French command 
after the collapse of the 'Weygand viuint.-iofiensivc" lost its last chance to alter 
the course of events in its lavoi Among these reasons were the generals' loss 
of confidence in victory over the i.im 1 st German forces, the ensuing in- 
decisiveness of operations in the struggle to ram out their own Intentions, the 
clear lack of contrail/.men n. the s.-miiun.l .an) control of the allied forces, and. 
finally, the intensification >1 ihov. icnmiugal forces- of which dc Gaulle 

•Hairier, in hr. riuir. noied on 2V Mar ihr dangeious situation lhal hart developed near Arras. 

rrhere tank t'ormali.ms are lighting . 10 alIIsi large enemy torees advancing to the south He also 
noted lhal Arms < in-up \ und .-.ihea the liinlu. intensive of lank formations m the direction of 
Calais anil intends J io n nine ihe .11. n r . sshen the situation near Airas was clear (sec Haider. 
1. 4141 

tin his diarr Hairier noted that on 2! and 22 M.t. Ilic (icrnuii command used two lank, one motorized, 
and four intanrrs divisions io icpcl ihe 1 nrl.sh and hrenvh attacks (see Haider, i. 415) 
fOn (he evening of 21 Mur. .die tin i onteieiire wiili Wereand. Ihe cornniander ot the 1st Army 
Group. Hit trails.*. rr ho hart hear sv nr io ihr i Armr !■ i .issien u. nils. Inns, was l.itlerl in an automobile 
accident The comm.mde.' ol the tsi Am- . who did no! attend ihe conlennce and did not know 
about Ihe derision that had Ihcii made. Ixg.ni die olleiisivc on tns own initiative Author’s note 




spoke—in the allied camp. A catastrophe was looming that could no longer be 
prevented. The operation entered its final stage. 


The defeat of the grouping of Anglo-French forces driven to the sea (the 
final stage of the operation). A distinctive feature of the final stage of the initial 
defensive operation was that, by the time of the operation, communications and 
cooperation between the allied armies had been completely lost. Each of the 
allied commanders acted at his own 'sk, trying to carry out the instructions 
of his government and not considering the common interests of the allies. 

On 27 May at 2300 hours the Belgian government, having lost any hope of 
allied aid, signed the act of unconditional surrender to fascist Germany. And 
on the eve of that day the English government, its forces concentrated near 
Dunkirk, began to evacuate them to the British Isles, About 900 previously 
prepared vessels of various types took part in this operation.* 

At this time the French command was still trying to organize the breakout 
of its armies to the south, imploring the English government to provide all its 
aviation to support the French forces. Not receiving allied support, the French 
waged unsuccessful battles on the southern face of the ring of encirclement, 
in fact covering the evacuation of the English forces. 

During these battles the German 4th Army encircled and defeated formations 
of the French 9th Army near Maubeuge. On 31 May, near Lille, a major group¬ 
ing of the French 1st Army was encircled and surrendered. By 5 June the northern 
grouping of the allied forces, which numbered about 40 divisions, had ceased 
to exist. The fascist German forces took prisoner nearly a million soldiers and 
officers from the allied armies. By this time the English command, largely 
because of the passive operations of the Hitlerite army, had completed the evacua¬ 
tion of the main forces of its expeditionary corps, having abandoned heavy guns 
and combat equipment on the shore t 

* * 

* 

Tne main cause of the catastrophe suffered by allied forces in the initial opera¬ 
tions lay in the "great policy" of the western powers' ruling circles. Blinded 
by their hatred for communism and confident of the possibility of directing fascist 
Germany's aggression against the USSR, they underestimated the immediate 


•The English government’s decision to withdraw its forces from the continent was made on 20 
May. Intensive preparation of the vessels for the evacuation began at this time. Author's note. 
lOn the coast the English left 120,000 vehicles, about 3.000 guns. 90,000 rifles, 8,000 machine 
guns. 400 antitank guns, and 7.000 tons of ammunition. The number of evacuated soldiers and 
officers was about 338.000 (see V. A Sckistov. * Strannaya voyrui' » Zapadnoy Yevrope i v basseyne 
SredizemnoRo mono (1939 1943 xjt ) (The “Phony War” in We tern Europe and the Mediterra¬ 
nean Basin (1939-1943)) (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1958). p 104) 


218 



danger that German fascism spelled for Western Europe. When the invasion 
of France by fascist German forces became a reality, neither the French, nor 
even more so the Belgian, government and military command had the will to 
fight the aggressor or the desire to rally the entire nation for the struggle. They 
feared their own people more than the danger of defeat in the war. 

Branching out from this main factor in the catastrophe, like from the trunk 
of a tree, were other circumstances that formed a whole network of interrelated 
causes behind the allied armies’ failure in the initial operations. Prominent among 
these were the fundamentally defective military doctrines repeatedly mentioned 
here and the erroneous strategic planning based on these doctrines—particularly 
the gross errors made by the French command in determining the probable direc¬ 
tion of the main enemy attack, and the outright negation of the principle of massed 
use of tank and mechanized forces. 

This latter circumstance requires special clarification. 

Official French military training did not see tanks as a new means of armed 
struggle whose extensive use would change the whole character of initial opera¬ 
tions. Tanks remained a means of direct infantry support in the eyes of most 
of France's military officials, not to mention military officials in Holland and 
Belgium. These views were organizationally reinforced in the French army by 
the completely deliberate distribution of tanks by battalion among the large in¬ 
fantry formations. This deprived the French command of the opportunity to create 
powerful mobile strategic reserves and to use them in compact groupings to 
make powerful counterattacks against the enemy on threatened axes. The French 
command's attempts to form four tank divisions once combat operations had 
already started were only a belated reaction to the enemy's massed use of tanks. 
Furthermore, because of the difficult situation, the newly created tank forma¬ 
tions were committed to battle separately and incompletely. Observing the prin¬ 
ciple of massed use of large mobile units, and successfully achieving overwhelm¬ 
ing superiority in men and equipment on decisive axes, the enemy performed 
more effectively and efficiently. For example, the enemy was always ahead of 
the French forces in occupying areas and positions in the operational depth to 
which the French were withdrawing (the Oise River, the Northern Canal, and 
coastal ports); also, the enemy fortified its forces more rapidly at captured posi¬ 
tions when it was necessary to go over to the defensive, and thus successfully 
repelled all counterattacks by French forces (near Sedan and Laon, on the Albert 
Canal, and near Abbeville). 

One important circumstance that unquestionably played an important role in 
the defeat of the allied forces was the air supremacy of fascist German aviation. 

After losing most of their aircraft in the first surprise attacks on their air¬ 
fields, the French and Belgian commands found themselves totally dependent 
on their English ally, who was extremely sparing in the use of its aviation to 


219 


support French and Belgian forces. Not encountering serious resistance in the 
air, fascist German aviation successfully cleared the way for its ground forces, 
first of all for its tank forces; made massed attacks against fortified cities and 
regions, and against allied defensive lines on the Meuse, Schelde, and Oise rivers, 
the Albert Canal, the Northern Canal, and so on; smashed groupings of allied 
forces advancing to defensive positions or making counterattacks (near Sedan, 
Arras, and elsewhere): and disrupted French transportation operations, making 
it difficult to carry out operational regroupings, and so forth. 

The extremely unsuccessful structure of England and France’s coalition 
strategy stands out especially among the causes of the allied forces’ defeat in 
the initial operations. This strategy lacked a unity of goals and a common 
understanding of the methods of combat operations. Each of the allies attempted 
to benefit from the coalition war to secure its own national interests, ignoring 
the interests of its partners. The allies were thus not able to create an authoritative 
higher command and control organ, and the bureaucratic system of joint com¬ 
mand that developed made it extremely difficult to arrive at coordinated deci¬ 
sions and, what was especially important, to carry out decisions efficiently once 
they had been made. 

Thus, the strategic defense in Poland, as well as in Western Europe, quite 
fully and convincingly showed that new forms and methods of conducting of¬ 
fensive operations also made new demands on defense. To withstand massed 
and deep air. airborne, and tank attacks by the enemy, defense could not re¬ 
main passive and linear It had to be deep, fluid, and highly active. Defending 
forces had first of all to prevent the enemy from gaining air supremacy. The 
seizing of air supremacy by fascist German aviation deprived enemy forces of 
the freedom to maneuver, since they were subjected to almost constant air at¬ 
tacks. and it weakened the resistance of units and formations in protecting defen¬ 
sive positions, since it resulted in large losses of personnel and combat equip¬ 
ment and finally doomed the armies to defeat. 

The organization of antitank defenses was one of the main problems that the 
defenders had to solve in the initial operations. The defensive battles in Poland 
and in Western Europe showed that not one of the nations that came under at¬ 
tack managed to solve this problem. This was explained, first, by the defending 
forces’ lack of any experience in conducting antitank defense and, second, by 
their considerable shortage of the weapons used to combat tanks, particularly 
ground attack aircraft, bombers, antitank artillery, engineer equipment, and so 
forth. The forces’ lack of psychological preparation to repel massed tank at¬ 
tacks also had its effect on antitank defense. Frequently even when the necessary 
weapons were available, a wave of tanks advancing simultaneously would ter¬ 
rify the soldiers and put them to flight. The psychological effect of massed tank 
attacks was increased because, as a rule, they were carried out in coordination 
with attacks by dive bombers. 


220 


T 


Notes 


' f°f J F ' C Fu,ler - ^'orajo mrovayo wyyta 1939-1945 
Izdaiel slvo inostrannoy literatury, 1956), n. 72 

2. See Proektor, p 74 

3. Ibid., p. Mg 

4. Ibid., p, 305 


gg. (World War U 1939-1945| (Moscow 


221 


Chapter 11. Specific Features of the Soviet 
Armed Forces’ Strategic Defense at 
the Start of the Great Patriotic War 


The Red Army and Navy entered the Great Patriotic War under conditions 
unfavorable for conducting combat operations and were forced to go over to 
a strategic defense on the entire front. In unleashing its war against Poland and 
that nation's western allies, fascist Germany achieved decisive or ultimate goals 
in the first operations. In the initial offensive operations on the Soviet-German 
Front, however, it did not accomplish the strategic missions laid out in the Bar- 
barossa plan. 

Fascist German forces were repelled in border engagements, and, although 
counterattacks by our forces were far from always successful, the resistance 
grew increasingly stronger. 

Our Supreme High Command managed to save the main mass of our forces 
from the surprise attack by the fascist German hordes and in July achieved tem¬ 
porary stabilization along much of the front. 

i. Soviet Defensive Operations in the Border Areas 

At dawn on 22 June 1941 the fascist German army went over to the offensive 
in an area stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathians. On the first day 
of the war the enemy committed 117 divisions to battle. At the start of July, 
when enemy assault groupings went over to the offensive from Romanian and 
Finnish territory, the number of enemy forces increased to 171 divisions. Over 
20 fascist German divisions designated to reinforce the army groups were held 
in the reserve. 

On the first day the border detachments and the formations of the covering 
armies, which were close to the border but had not yet been able to deploy on 
the defensive lines, made a surprise attack of unprecedented power. On the left 
flank of the 8th Army of the Northwestern Front the main forces of the German 
4th Tank Group descended on the single 125th Rifle Division, which was fighting 
in a zone up to 40 km wide. The forces of the entire left wing of Army Group 
Center and two right-flank divisions of the 16th Army of Army Group North 


222 




attacked three rifle divisions of the 11th Army of the Northwestern Front (the 
188th, 126th, and 128th), which had been able to deploy only five regiments 
in a 100-km sector. Using enormous superiority in men and equipment, the 
fascist German forces quite rapidly overcame the border fortifications and on 
the axes of the mam attacks broke through into the depth of our defenses. The 
situation was extremely unfavorable in the zone between the Northwestern and 
Western fronts. The forward units of the enemy's 4th Tank Group reached the 
Doubs River 35 km to the northwest of Kaunas, while the 3rd Tank Group 
crossed the Neman 60 km to the south of the city. 

The 4th Army of the Western Front, which was covering the Brest-Kobrin 
axis, fell into a difficult situation. Four rifle divisions of this army were attacked 
by 10 divisions from the right wing of Army Group Center supported by massed 
artillery fire and large air forces. Unable to withstand the attack of the superior 
enemy forces, two divisions (the 42nd and 6th) defending in the center of the 
army retreated from near Brest to the east. Independent units and groups from 
these formations remained in the fortress. The tank units of the 2nd Tank Group 
rushed into the breach that had been formed and by the end of the day, after 
advancing 50 to 60 km, took Kobrin. The threat arose of the encirclement from 
the south of the Western Front’s main forces. 1 

In the zone of the Southwestern Front the enemy’s main attack was made to 
the south of Vladimir-Volynskiy in the area between the 5th and 6tb armies. 
It was there that the fascist German forces were able to penetrate our defenses 
to a depth of 20 km. 

Thus, on all the main axes the weak covering units, despite the courage and 
heroism of the personnel, were forced to retreat under the pressure of superior 
enemy forces in heavy battles. 

During the first day of the war our air force suffered particularly severe set¬ 
backs The aviation units, which had not received precise instructions ahead 
of time on bringing their aircraft to combat readiness, were unable to take off 
in time and make, as had been planned, an immediate massed retaliatory attack 
against enemy aviation and ground forces. Because of enemy air action, around 
1.200 Soviet aircraft were lost, including 738 in the Western District. Soviet 
pilots bravely entered dogfights against the superior forces of fascist German 
aviation When the ammunition was exhausted in aerial combat, they selflessly 
rammed the enemy aircraft, performing this courageous feat often at the price 
of their lives. But the heroism of the Soviet pilots could not alter the unfavorable 
air situation Despite the active resistance by Soviet aviation and the high enemy 
losses in aircraft, fascist German aviation, after seizing air supremacy, continued 
to make systematic attacks against our forces and control posts. The limited 
number of antiaircraft weapons that our formations had did not make possible 
an effective fight against the enemy’s aircraft. 


223 




Organizing the rebuff of the enemy was complicated by frequent disruptions 
in command and control, and at times by its complete loss. The absence of per¬ 
manent contact with formations and subordinate staffs deprived commanders 
and staffs on the operational and strategic levels of the opportunity to obtain 
regular information on the actual course of events and caused difficulties in con¬ 
trolling the development of combat operations. This often led to making deci¬ 
sions that did not correspond to the situation at hand. 

During the first day of the war the General Staff, because of the disruption 
of communications between division and front levels, did not have sufficiently 
complete and reliable information on the developing events. As was stated by 
Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov, who at the time was chief of the 
General Staff, the General Staff did not grasp at that time the entire complexity 
of the situation. While at the staff of the Southwestern Front, the chief of the 
General Staff received the following information from his deputy. General N. 
F. Vatutin: 

“By the end of 22 June, despite energetic measures, the General Staff had 
been unable to receive precise data from the staffs of the fronts, armies, and 
air force on our forces and on the enemy. Information on the depth of enemy 
penetration into our territory is rather contradictory. Precise information is ab¬ 
sent on aviation and ground force losses. It is known only that the aviation of 
the Western Front suffered very high losses. The General Staff and the NKO* 
are unable to contact the commanders of the fronts. Lieutenant General F. I. 
Kuznetsov and General of the Army D. G. Pavlov, who, without reporting to 
the people’s commissar, have left for somewhere in the field. The staffs of these 
fronts do not know where their commanders are at present. 

“According to air reconnaissance data, battles are under way near our for¬ 
tified lines and 15-20 km in the depth of our territory. The attempt by the staffs 
of the fronts to make direct contact with the troops was unsuccessful, since there 
were neither wire nor wireless communications with most of the armies and 
independent corps.’’ 2 

On the evening of 22 June (at 2115 hours), assessing the situation, the Soviet 
High Command made the decision to go over to offensive operations on the 
main axes to defeat enemy assault groupings and to shift combat operations to 
enemy territory. 

The forces of the Northwestern and Western fronts, t using the troops of the 
combined arms armies, the mechanized corps (two corps in each front), and 


• \NKO Narvdnyy komissariat oborony ‘People’s Commissariat of Defense’-U.S. Ed 1 
tOn 22 June 1941 the Baltic Special Military District was renamed the Northwestern Front, the 
Western Special Military District became the Western Front, the Kiev Special Military District 
became the Southwestern Front, and the Odessa Military District became the 9th Army. Author's note. 


224 


front aviation, anti supported by long-range aviation, were to make concentrated 
attacks from near Kaunas and Grodno toward the town of Suvalki. They were 
to encircle and destroy the Suvalki enemy grouping and, by the end of 24 June, 
capture the region around Suvalki. 

The forces of the Southwestern Front received orders to use the forces of 
two combined arms armies—no fewer than five mechanized corps and all of 
front aviation with the support of long-range aviation—to attack Lublin on con¬ 
verging axes, to encircle and destroy the enemy grouping advancing on the front 
of Vladimir-Volynskiy and Krystynopol, and, by the end of 24 June, to take 
the Lublin region. 

The armies of the Northern and Southern fronts* were given defensive mis¬ 
sions to cover the state border in their areas and not allow an enemy invasion 
of our territory. 

The Soviet High Command, making the decision on the evening of 22 June 
on offensive operations, did not have an opportunity to consider the difficult 
situation that the forces of the border military districts (or fronts) were in by 
that time. Many of the formations in the operation, and above all the mechanized 
corps, were a great distance from the starting areas for the offensive and were 
unable to quickly concentrate on the designated lines and make massed attacks 
against the enemy at the same time. Most of the mechanized corps were also 
not up to full strength in personnel and had a very limited quantity of combat 
equipment, t The situation was further aggravated because the aviation, which 
had suffered heavy losses on the first day of the war, and the few air defense 
units could not securely cover their troops against attacks by enemy bombers. 
Some formations that had advanced to the deployment lines for the offensive 
were subjected to massed enemy air attacks and suffered major losses even before 


•Officially, the Leningrad Military District was renamed the Northern Front on 24 tune 194). On 
the same day, by decision of High Command Headquarters, the Southern Front was formed. Author’s 
note. 

tBy 22 June 1941, in the western border military districts, there were around 20 mechanized corps, 
including 6 (the 6th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th, and 20th) in the Western and 8 (the 4th, 8th, 9th, 
15th. 16th. 19th, 22nd, and 24th) in the Kiev District. Most of them had begun organization only 
in March 1941 By the start of the war none of these corps was up to full strength in men or equip¬ 
ment. The level of equipment (including obsolete tanks) averaged 53 percent Because of the small 
number of tanks, several corps (the 13th, 17th, 20th, and 24th) could not be called mechanized 
formations (see Journal of Military History, 1964, No. 3. pp. 33-34). 

Marshal of the Soviet Union K. K Rokossovskiy. who commanded the 9th Mechanized Corps 
at the start of the war, wrote: "The misfortune was that the corps was mechanized in name only. 
With bitterness 1 looked at our old T-26, BT-5, and few BT-7 tanks, understanding that in long 
combat operations they would not hold out. And this is not to mention that we did not have more 
than one-third the regulation strength even of these tanks. And the motorized infantry of both tank 
divisions! It had none of the regulation vehicles, and as far as motorization, there were neither 
carts nor horses" (K. K. Rokossovskiy, Soldatskiydolg |A Soldier's Duty] (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 
1968). p. 13) 


225 




entering battle. * The artillery of the mechanized corps and of the combined arms 
formations, which experienced an acute lack of traction units, was unable to 
assemble promptly on the selected axes. Because of the disruption of the work 
of the logistics units and the shortage of transport equipment, the tank forma¬ 
tions were often left without fuel and ammunition. 

The combined arms formations, which in cooperation with the mechanized 
corps were to participate in the counteroffensive, as a rule entered combat opera¬ 
tions separately. In moving up from the rear, they were late in reaching the 
designated deployment lines and under enemy pressure were forced to hurriedly 
go over to the defensive on terrain unsuited for this purpose. 

Ultimately, all of this led to a situation where the offensive operations of the 
Soviet forces deployed in the zone of the Northwestern and Western fronts on 
23 to 25 June developed into inadequately coordinated counterattacks by the 
mechanized formations. 

Despite the selfless actions of the troops, the operational-strategic results of 
the counterattacks of the Northwestern and Western fronts were insignificant, 
while the losses suffered were great. 

More effective against the enemy were the counterattacks by the forces of 
the Southwestern Front that began on 24 June. To stop the breakthrough of the 
1st Tank Group on the boundary between the 5th and 6th armies, the commander 
of the front. General M. P. Kirponos, brought in the 8th, 9th, 15th, 19th, and 
22nd mechanized corps. In truth, by the time the directives from Headquarters 
were received, these corps were scattered across the entire front. Many of them 
had to march 100 to 400 km to reach the designated deployment lines. For this 
reason, the corps were committed to battle sequentially and there was no powerful 
simultaneous counterattack. Nevertheless, from 26 June, near Lutsk, Dubno, 
and Brody, the largest tank engagement in the initial period of the war developed 
across a broad front. Intense battles of varying success lasted until 29 June. 
And although the mechanized corps were unable to carry out the mission of 
encircling and defeating the main forces of the 1st Tank Group, they held up 
its advance for an entire week and inflicted considerable casualties. Most im¬ 
portant, the enemy’s intention to encircle the main forces of the Southwestern 
Front in the Lvov salient and carry out a rapid breakthrough to Kiev was 
thwarted. 


•Gen 1. V. Boldin, showing the complexity of preparations for the attack planned by the Western 
Front against the enemy on the Grodno axis, wrote: "To complete the calamities, at dawn enemy 
bombers attacked the 36th Cavalry Division on the march and caused serious damage Thus there 
could not be any question of a counterattack. . " (I. V. Boldin. Stranitsy zhizni (Pages of a Life) 
(Moscow: Voyenizdat. I%1), p. 96). 

During preparations for the counterattack by the Northwestern Front the formations of the 12th 
Mechanized Corps, spread over a 60-km front, came under a massed enemy air attack while ad 
vancing to the line of deployment near Shyaulyay and were unable to take up the starting position 
for the offensive in good time (see Journal of Military History, 1964, No. 3. p. 37). 


226 


Here is how this engagement was viewed by the former commander of the 
German 3rd Tank Group, H. Hoth: “It was most difficult of all for Army Group 
South. The enemy forces on the defensive in front of the formations of the north¬ 
ern wing were thrown back from the border, but they quickly recovered from 
the unexpected attack and stopped the advance of the German forces by counterat¬ 
tacking with their reserves and with the tank units from the interior. The opera¬ 
tional breakthrough of the 1st Tank Group, which had been assigned to the 6th 
Army, was not achieved until 28 June. The powerful enemy counterattacks made 
from the region to the south of the Pripet Marshes against the forces advancing 
along the Lutsk—Rovno—Zhitomir highway were a major obstacle on the path 
of the advance of the German units. These counterattacks caused major forces 
of the 1st Tank Group to alter the direction of their advance and, instead of 
advancing on Kiev, to turn north and engage in battles of local importance. ” J 

Thus, the counterattacks of the Soviet forces during the first days of the war 
played a noticeable role in thwarting the enemy’s initial intentions. However, 
these counterattacks did not substantially alter the operational-strategic situation. 

Somewhat later, the combat conditions on the northwestern and western axes 
became much worse. 

The forces of the Northwestern Front, in retreating from the border, were 
unable to promptly organize a stable defense along the right bank of the Western 
Dvina. At the start of July the undermanned and poorly equipped formations 
of the 27th Army that had been brought up to cover the axis of Daugavpils and 
Pskov were pushed back under attacks by the 4th Tank Group and allowed t)ie 
enemy to seize a bridgehead on the right bank of the Western Dvina near Daugav¬ 
pils. At this time the 8th Army was engaged in stubborn battles on the approaches 
to Riga. The remaining formations of the front were conducting delaying ac¬ 
tions on the Polotsk and Vitebsk axes. 

The forces of the Western Front were in an even more difficult situation. There, 
at the end of June, one of the heaviest battles of the initial period of the war 
developed. From the north and south, formations of the enemy’s 2nd and 3rd 
tank groups succeeded in outflanking forces of the Western Front that had been 
fighting on the Belostok salient and, on 28 June, linked up near Minsk. The 
paths of withdrawal for the units of the 3rd and 10th armies were cut off. In 
addition to them, three divisions of the 13th Army and two divisions assigned 
to the front were encircled. A total of 11 comparatively combat-capable divi¬ 
sions and the remainder of several other formations of the Western Front were 
encircled. A difficult mission fell to the encircled forces: through their opera¬ 
tions they were to pin down as many fascist German troops as possible, thus 
gaining the time needed by the High Command to bring up reserves from the 
country’s interior. Until 8 July the Hitlerite command was forced to keep the 
main forces of the field armies of Army Group Center (up to 30 divisions) near 


227 


Minsk and to the west of it. It was then much easier for our High Command 
to restore the strategic front on the western axis. 

The forces that had been encircled were fighting against the enemy in an ex¬ 
ceptionally difficult situation. Cut off from the rear supply bases, they had no 
opportunity to replenish reserves of food, fuel, and ammunition. The encircled 
formations were under constant pressure from enemy aviation and attacks by 
ground forces from different directions. The enemy was also superior to these 
formations in force. After the encircled grouping had been cut up into parts, 
combat operations continued in centers of resistance. Many battalions and 
regiments subsequently fought their way out to join up with the main forces, 
many of the soldiers and commanders began partisan operations in the enemy 
rear, and many heroic sons of our Motherland died brave deaths or were taken 
prisoner in these heavy battles. 

At the end of June the situation became much worse in the operations zone 
of the Southwestern Front. After stubborn battles near Lutsk, Rovno, and Brody, 
the enemy, after regrouping the forces in Army Group South and committing 
fresh forces to battle, broke the resistance of the front forces on the boundary 
between the 5th and 6th armies and undertook a major attack on the Zhitomir 
axis. Almost simultaneously, on 1 July, fascist German and Romanian forces 
went over to the offensive from Romanian territory. Making their main attack 
against the right wing of the Southern Front, on 3 July they captured a bridgehead 
on the left bank of the Prut River between Lipkany and Iasi. The threat arose 
that the Southern Front would be cut off and that the Southwestern Front would 
be encircled on both flanks. 

At the end of June combat operations started in the Far North. On 29 June 
the German “Norway” Army began an offensive on the Murmansk axis. On 
30 June Finnish forces attacked our positions on the Ukhta axis, and, on 1 July, 
fascist German and Finnish forces struck from Kuolayarvi toward Kandalaksha. 

During the first days of the war the situation in the naval theaters of opera¬ 
tions also developed unfavorably for our fleet. By the start of the war the Soviet 
Navy had a higher level of combat readiness than the other services of the armed 
forces. On the first day of the war the Black Sea Fleet successfully repelled 
a massed air attack by fascist German aviation against its main base, Sevastopol, 
although in subsequent days it feared a repetition of the attacks. Hitlerite avia¬ 
tion limited itself just to laying mines at the entrance to the base. But the Baltic 
Fleet was in a difficult situation. The main threat to it came from the land. On 
the first day of the war the advance units of the fascist German forces, moving 
along the coast, reached the approaches to the forward base of the Baltic Fleet, 
Libava (Liyepaya). Soon after that, another base, Riga, was threatened by cap¬ 
ture from land, and then the main naval base of the Baltic Fleet, Tallinn. Although 
the approaches to these bases from land had not been prepared ahead of time 


228 





for defense, the men of the army and navy stubbornly defended them but were 
unable to hold them for long. 

Thus, in the border regions the Red Army, and on the maritime boundaries 
the Red Navy, put up heroic resistance to the enemy. However, because of the 
surprise of the first attack and the great superiority of the fascist German army 
in men and equipment, our troops were unable to hold the Germans in the border 
area and stop the deep attacks by their tank units. The formations of our army 
and navy fought against the enemy under exceptionally difficult conditions, when 
often there was not enough fuel and ammunition and interruptions in command 
and control were felt. Hundreds of thousands of servicemen fought the enemy 
literally to the last drop of blood. History has already recorded the names of 
many thousands of them. 

It is notable that during the first tragic days of the war not only individual 
soldiers and commanders, but also entire units and formations, when encircled 
or falling under the attack of the superior forces on the front, met the enemy 
steadfastly, courageously, and skillfully. 

For 11 days the 13th Border Post of Lieutenant A.V. Lopatin of the 90th 
Vladimir-Volynskiy Border Detachment defended a strongpoint heroically. And 
only when all its defenders had perished did the enemy occupy the strongpoint. 

On the Baltic coast units of the 67th Division under General N. A. Dedayev 
and units of the Libava Naval Base under the command of Captain 1st Rank 
M. S. Klevanskiy thwarted the Hitlerites' attempts to take Libava (Liyepaya) 
on the march. 

The small garrison at the Brest Fortress, after being encircled, spared no forces 
and defended itself courageously. Through its heroic resistance it tied down large 
enemy forces for a month 

In the center of the 6th Army's zone of operations, near Rava-Russkaya, the 
41st Rifle Division, under the command of General G. N. Mikushev, met the 
enemy attack in an organized manner from the first hours of the war. 

The mass heroism of Soviet soldiers in the fight against the fascist invaders 
was a striking manifestation of the war's genuinely popular character. However, 
even now among western historians there are those who try to discredit the heroic 
actions of our army and to represent our soldiers in a false light. One of the 
falsifiers of history, the West German sociologist Sebastian Haffner, in slandering 
the Soviet people and their Armed Forces, has alleged and tried to prove that 
during the first months of the war there was “low morale" among Soviet troops 
and that “many Russian officers and soldiers did not want to fight.” These false 
assertions are completely repudiated by the war's initial period. They are also 


229 



contradicted by the statements of many high-ranking generals in the fascist Ger¬ 
man army who, through their own experience, felt the force of resistance of 
the Soviet troops. 

Thus, the Hitlerite general Butlar said that “because of the stubborn resistance 
of the Russians even during the first days of combat, the German forces suf¬ 
fered heavy losses in men and equipment that were much higher than the losses 
they experienced in the campaigns in Poland and the west. It was completely 
obvious,” continued Butlar, “that the method of conducting combat operations 
and the morale of the enemy, like the geographic conditions of the given coun¬ 
try, were quite different from those encountered by the Germans in the previous 
blitzkriegs that had led to the successes that stunned the entire world.” 4 

The diary of Chief of the German General Staff Haider is rich in such entries: 

26 June 1941 “... The Russians are not thinking of retreat, but, on the con¬ 
trary, are throwing everything at their disposal in the path of the spearheading 
German forces.” 

27 June 1941 "... Events are developing not at all in the manner foreseen 
on the higher staffs....” 

28 June 1941 “In the Belostok forest to the southeast of the city stubborn 
battles are under way, which, against expectations, are tying down the entire 
center and part of the right wing of the 4th Army.... In all sectors of the front 
the small number of prisoners is characteristic....” 

29 June 1941 “Information from the front confirms that the Russians are 
fighting everywhere to the last man.... One is struck that in capturing artillery 
batteries and so forth, only a few are taken prisoner. Part of the Russians fight 
until they are killed, while others... try to break out of the encirclement dis¬ 
guised as peasants.” 5 

The German genera) Ott at that time reported to the General Staff that “the 
stubborn resistance of the Russians has forced us to conduct combat according 
to all the rules of our field manuals. In Poland and the west, we could permit 
ourselves certain liberties and deviations from the principles of the regulations; 
now that is impossible.” 4 

However, no matter how great the heroism of the Soviet people, this could 
not fundamentally alter the extremely unfavorable operational-strategic situa¬ 
tion on the front. Statewide measures were required to mobilize all the forces 
to repel the enemy. 


230 


2. The Mobilization of All the Nation’s Forces to Repel the 
Enemy 

The Communist Party Central Committee was able to quickly analyze the situa¬ 
tion that developed because of the Red Army's severe setbacks at the start of 
the war. It worked out a comprehensive program to mobilize the country’s forces 
to repel the enemy and carried out a whole set of immediate political, economic, 
and military measures to put the program into effect (see table 17). This pro¬ 
gram was set forth in a 29 June directive from the USSR SNK and the AUCPfb) 
Central Committee to the party and soviet organizations along the front. 

V. I. Lenin taught our party that the socialist nation is strong when the masses 
know everything, can judge everything, and do everything consciously. 7 The 
AUCPfb), in raising the people to a noble struggle against the invaders, did 
not conceal from them the enormous danger that hung over the Motherland. 
"The USSR SNK and the AUCPfb) Central Committee announce,” the 29 June 
directive stated, "that in the war imposed on us by fascist Germany the ques¬ 
tion of the life and death of the Soviet nation is being decided, and whether 
the peoples of the Soviet Union will be free or enslaved.” 8 The party cautioned 
the Soviet people against underestimating the enemy: “The enemy is strong. 
It would be folly to underestimate its forces. The war requires that all forces, 
our iron will, and our courageous resourcefulness be put to the test.... We 
must not console ourselves with ideas of easy successes.”* At the same time, 
the party demanded from all communists great vigilance and the fiercest strug¬ 
gle against an overestimation of the enemy’s strength and ability, which could 
give rise to confusion and panic among the population. 

From the first days of the war the AUCPfb) began enormous mass political 
work in the country, explaining the just character of the Great Patriotic War 
against the foreign enslavers. The party instilled in the people a firm conviction 
that, despite the temporary successes of the fascist forces, an inevitable defeat 
awaited the invaders. 

To carry out mass political work, the Central Committee of our party mobilized 
thousands of party agitators and propagandists, the press, radio, literature, and 
art. On 24 June, by decree of the AUCPfb) Central Committee and USSR SNK, 
die Soviet Information Bureau was created. Its mission was to keep the people 
well informed about the situation on the fronts and about the measures by the 
party and the government to organize efforts to repel the enemy. On the same 
day, the Red Army’s Main Directorate of Political Propaganda sent to the fronts 
and districts a directive that defined the content and principal missioas of political 
agitation and propaganda among the troops. The introduction of the institution 
of military commissars and the reorganization of the Armed Forces’ political 
organs were of great importance in strengthening party-political work in the 
army and navy. 


231 



To mobilize all the country 's force"- to repel the tasciM aggression ami achieve 
victory over the enemy . the AUCPlto ( Vm'hi] ( ommittcv. the Presidium of the 
USSR Supreme Soviet, and the USSR SSK K-lt u necessary to concentrate all 
superior executive power in a -uncle or can that would he able to unite the ef¬ 
forts of the front and the teat tnaxe u \taoii-- mm I- It and can y them on' elli- 
ciently. Such an organ was the (ikO * which was tunned on Ml June under 
the leadership of J V. Stalin. 

Mobilizing the party and people to tepel the enemy, the AUCP(b) Central 
Committee and the USSR SNK loettsed their attention primarily on strengthen¬ 
ing the Soviet Armed Forces. On the first das of the scar the Presidium of the 
USSR Supreme Soviet issued an edict on the mobilization of reservists into the 
army and navy in 14 military districts At ttic same tune, an edict ua.-. issued 
on establishing martial law in the western border republics and in some regions 
of the Russian Republic-, and a regulation was approved on the work of military 
tribunals in combat areas and on termors declared under martial law 

On the second day of the vsai. 2s June, the Headquarters ol the High Com¬ 
mand was created under the chairmanship ot People's Commissar ol Defense 
Marshal of the Soviet Union S K Timoshenko to direct the military operations 
of the Armed Forces. On 10 July. to improve the strategic control of the troops, 
a GKO decree formed high commands lor the Northwestern. Western, and 
Southwestern axes, svhile the Hcadc|uartcts ot the High Command was renamed 
the Headquarters of the Supreme Command. I he membership of Headquarters 
included J. V. Stalin (chairman). V. M Molotov. S. K I imoshenko, S. M. 
Budennyy. K Ye. Voroshilov. B M Shaposhnikov. and G. K. Zhukov. 

During July and August, in aeeoid with the requirements of the war. a major 
reorganization was carried out in the central apparatus ol the NKO. and above 
all in the General Staff. The General Stall was tinned into the working organ 
of Headquarters for operational comtol toi military epetations. and the NKO 
became the working organ of the (iKO loi im •hili/ation of icsoiirces and prepara¬ 
tion of reserves for the Armed Forces On IV July J, V. Stalin was appointed 
People's Commissar of Defense and, on X August, the Supreme Commander. 
Correspondingly, the Headquarters ot the Supreme Command was renamed the 
Headquarters of the Supreme High Command. 

Strengthening the leadership of the Armed Forces, the AUCP(h) Central Com¬ 
mittee, from the start of the war, sent up to one third of the leading party and 
state workers into the army and navy lor command and political work. To 
strengthen party influence in units and formations, the AUC'Prbi Central Com¬ 
mittee approved a decision to mobilize communists and Young Communist 
League members for the front. During the tirst seat ot the war the party sent 


*\GKO- Gf>xuiJar\t\'ennx\ kimtitt’t obt*n*n\ Si.itc IV ton sc <\*n tniitcc' I S f.cf | 


232 



no fewer than one million communists and about two million Young Communist 
I eague members into the Armed Forces. 10 

An important pan of the party’s military organizational work was the prepara¬ 
tion of combat reserves Under the leadership of the centra! and local party 
organs, a large army of volunteers from the People's Home Guard was created 
and sent to the front. 

Organizing to repel the enemy, the AUCP(b) Central Committee and the USSR 
SNK devoted serious attention to national air defense. On 2 July the SNK ap¬ 
proved the resolution "On Universal Compulsory Training of the Population 
for Air Defense." 

The Communist Party was the organizer of the partisan movement. Tens of 
thousands of Soviet people rose to the armed struggle in the enemy rear. The 
task of developing partisan operations in the rear of the fascist German forces 
w as put forth in the 29 June directive. On 18 July the Politburo of the AUCP(b) 
Central Committee approved the special decree “On Organizing the Struggle 
in the Rear of the German Forces." 

Raising the Soviet people to fight the enemy, the party’s Central Committee 
and the USSR SNK worked out an extensive program to reorganize the national 
economy to meet the needs of the front. In an extremely brief period workers 
in the rear had to supply the Armed Forces with sufficient quantities of new 
types of weapons and combat equipment, and above all with aircraft and tanks. 
On the second day of the war a previously prepared mobilization plan for am¬ 
munition production was put into effect. On 30 June, instead of the plan already 
in use for the development of the national economy during the third quarter 
of 1941. a new plan was approved. It provided for a 26 percent increase in the 
production of military equipment and weapons. This was the first economic plan 
that defined practical measures to reorganize the economy on a war footing. 

On 4 July the GKO instructed a commission under the leadership of USSR 
State Planning Commission Chairman N. A. Voznesenskiy to work out a long- 
range plan for development of the military economy. By 16 August 1941 the 
GKO had already approved the military economic plan submitted by the com¬ 
mission for the fourth quarter of 1941 and for 1942 for the Volga, Urai, Western 
Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asia regions. 

During the first days of the war the Communist Party made a start on reorganiz¬ 
ing the state apparatus in accord with wartime conditions. New people's com¬ 
missariats were created that took control of the most important military pro¬ 
duction. The rights of the people 's commissars were broadened. Under the USSR 
SNK, the Council for the Allocation of Manpower was formed, and special work¬ 
ing conditions were introduced at factories and other establishments. 



T 



234 


1 . 



fascist 



The evacuation of people and production facilities from threatened regions 
and the rapid reopening of evacuated enterprises in the country's eastern regions 
were primary national economic tasks. By a decision of the AUCP(b) Central 
Committee, the Evacuation Council was set up under the chairmanship of N. 
M. Shvernik. A. N. Kosygin and M. G. Pervukhin became his deputies. Under 
the leadership of the Evacuation Council many thousands of factories, state farms, 
and collective farms were moved from the threatened regions to the east in a 
brief period. 

The USSR SNK decree approved on 26 June, “On the Security of Factories 
and Other Establishments and on the Creation of Paramilitary Battalions,” was 
of great importance in strengthening the country's defense capability. 

The Communist Party clearly formulated its foreign policy program. It set 
for the Soviet people the mission not only of liberating the Soviet Motherland 
from the fascist German occupiers, but also of helping the nations of Europe 
to escape from the fascist yoke. This program was recognized and warmly sup¬ 
ported by the nations of the entire weld. They saw in the Soviet nation a de¬ 
pendable ally in the struggle for their national freedom and independence. 

The task of creating an antifascist coalition was solved successfully. The firm 
demands of the peoples of the U S. and England to join forces with the USSR 
in the common struggle against fascism contributed to this. The English and 
U S. governments were forced to draw closer to the Soviet Union after taking 
into account the difficult situation in which they found themselves after the defeat 
of France and the capture of almost all of Europe by fascist Germany. On 12 
July in Moscow an agreement was signed on joint operations by the USSR and 
Great Britain in the war against Hitlerite Germany. The U.S., which at the time 
was not in the war. promised to provide economic aid to the Soviet Union. At 
the same time, there was an exchange of military missions betwen the USSR 
and England Somewhat later the Soviet government carried out such major 
foreign policy actions as final agreements with the Czechoslovak and Polish 
governments on a joint struggle against Germany and on the creation of 
Czechoslovak and Polish military formations on USSR territory. Also dating 
to this time was the start of talks with the western allies on opening a second front. 

Thus, even during the first days and weeks of the war, the Communist Party, 
after working out a comprehensive program to mobilize all the forces to repel 
the enemy, laid a firm foundation to overcome the temporary difficulties of the 
initial period of the war, without for a moment losing faith in the ultimate vic¬ 
tory over Hitlerite Germany . 


236 







3. The Commitment of the Strategic Reserves and the 
Temporary Stabilization of the Defense 

At the end of June the High Command of the Soviet Armed f orces realized 
that the war plan that had been drawn up before the war and that it was trying 
to put into effect during the first days of the war did not meet the actual situa¬ 
tion. The forces of the western border military districts that had been formed 
into fronts were unable to defeat the invading enemy or stop it at intermediate 
positions. Under such conditions the Soviet High Command was forced to fun¬ 
damentally reshape its war plan. 

The new plan put forward the mission of undermining the enemy’s offensive 
capabilities by an active strategic defense along the entire front, of gaining time 
to build up strategic reserves; and, after altering the balance of forces during 
combat operations, of creating the conditions for the Soviet Army to go over 
to a decisive strategic counteroffensive. Initially the possibility of such a 
counteroffensive was linked to committing to battle the forces of the second 
strategic echelon deployed along the Dnepr. 

On 25 June High Command Headquarters issued instructions to the General 
Staff on organizing a four-army group of High Command Reserve armies (the 
19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd) out of formations that were completing their mobiliza¬ 
tion. This group was headed by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. M. Budennyy 
It had until the end of 28 June to occupy and firmly defend the line of Kraslava, 
Disna, the Polotsk Fortified Region, Vitebsk, Orsha, and the Dnepr to Loyev. 
The armies in this group were to prevent the enemy from breaking through 
toward Moscow, using powerful counterattacks to destroy it. The commander 
of the army group near Smolensk, Yartsevo, and Dukhovshchina was given the 
High Command Reserve's 16th Army, which previously, under the deployment 
plan, was to have been part of the Southwestern Front. On the same day, 28 
June, High Command Headquarters issued orders for the forces of the 24th and 
28th armies— 13 rifle, 6 tank, and 3 motorized divisions—to advance to the line 
of Nelidovo; Belyy; the Dnepr as far as Usvyatye; Yelnya; the Desna as far 
as Zhukovka; and Lopush with the mission of preparing, occupying, and firmly 
defending this line. Headquarters gave particular attention to covering the 
Smolensk and Vyazma axes. 

The commander of the Northwestern Front was ordered to concentrate front 
reserves near Pskov, Ostrov, Novorzhev, and Porkhov, to prepare defenses in 
the Pskov and Ostrov fortified areas, and to firmly seal off the access lo 

Leningrad. 

On the southwestern axis, because of the threat that the enemy would outflank 
the forces of the Southern Front from the north, and to reduce the length of 
the front and create a better grouping of the Southern and Southwestern fronts. 


237 


X 


High Command Headquarters ordered that the forces of these fronts be pulled 
hack by 9 July to the line of the old fortified areas, where a strong defense was 
to he organized. 

These decisions by Headquarters were the first measures to restore the broken 
strategic defensive front. They were carried out while the enemy continued to 
advance. 

In the operations zone of the Northwestern Front the forces of the enemy’s 
4th Tank Group captured Ostrov on 6 July and Pskov on 9 July. The 1st 
Mechanized Corps and the 22nd and 41st rifle corps, which Headquarters had 
moved up on this axis, had not been able to occupy the Pskov and Ostrov for¬ 
tified regions and were forced to engage the enemy in heavy battles on the ap¬ 
proach to these areas. On 9 July Headquarters combined these corps into a new 
11th Army, whose command was shifted here from the left wing of the North¬ 
western Front. The army was given the mission of firmly covering the Len¬ 
ingrad axis. The line of the Velikaya River to Idritsa was occupied by the 27th 
Army, which retreated there from the Western Dvina. At this time, on instruc¬ 
tions from Headquarters, the Luga Operations Group, with help from the popula¬ 
tion of Leningrad, hurriedly created a defensive line on the Luga River that 
covered the distant approaches to Leningrad. Extensive defensive works were 
simultaneously organized on the immediate approaches to the city. 

The enemy breakthrough to Pskov put the 8th Army in a difficult situation. 
Cut off from the main forces of the front, it was forced to retreat to the north 
during heavy battles. By 10 July it had been able to reinforce itself on the line 
of Py arnu and Tartu. Here for a long time it held up the advance of the German 
18th Army. 

A very serious situation developed on the western axis during the first days 
of July. The command of Army Group Center, after leaving its infantry forma¬ 
tions to finish the fighting against the encircled Soviet forces to the west of Minsk, 
combined the 2nd and 3rd tank groups into the 4th Tank Army and rushed it 
in to capture the line of the Dnepr. 

At this time Soviet High Command Headquarters sent a group of reserve ar¬ 
mies to the Western Front to unite the efforts of its forces fighting on the western 
axis. Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko was appointed the com¬ 
mander of the front. The front was given the mission to firmly cover the Smolensk 
axis by a stubborn defense of the line of the Western Dvina and Dnepr to Loyev. 
The 16th Army was moved up to reinforce the front near Smolensk. 

In the rear defensive area behind the Northwestern and Western fronts a new 
front of reserve armies was deployed. In addition to the previously deployed 
24th and 28th armies, this front consisted of the newly formed 29th and 30th 


238 



armies. The forces of the from were to hold the line of Staraya Russa, Belyy, 
istomino, Ostashkov, Yelnya, and Bryansk. The 31st and 32nd armies were 
in the front’s reserve, and the divisions of these armies were concentrated near 
Torzhok, Rzhev, Volokolamsk, Kalinin, Ruza, Mozhaysk. Maloyaroslavets, 
Vysokinichi. and Naro-Fominsk. 

By the time the formations of the German 4th Tank Army had reached the 
Western Dvina and Dnepr, the forces of the Red Army's second strategic echelon 
had not yet been able to fully take up the defensive line. However, on the western 
axis the enemy was soundly repelled. 

The 22nd, 20th, and 21st armi's, after inflicting serious losses on the enemy, 
held up the advance of the 3rd Tank Group with their counterattacks near Desna, 
Vitebsk, and to the north and northwest of Orsha and dampened the offensive 
spirit of the fascist German forces to a great degree. 

Our aviation played an active role in repelling enemy tank attacks. Our 
bombers, making use of air reconnaissance data, first attacked the lead units 
of the tank and motorized columns, and then bombed and machine-gunned the 
combat equipment and troops that had accumulated on the roads. Many attacks 
were made against the fascist forces on the crossings over the Western Dvina, 
Drut, and Berezina rivers. The 3rd Tank Group’s attempts to capture a 
bridgehead from a march formation on the eastern bank of the Dnepr and to 
continue the drive on the Smolensk axis were not successful. By the end of 9 
July the offensive of the German 4th Tank Army had been halted along the en¬ 
tire defensive front from Disna to Zhlobin. 

At the start of July our forces on the Southwestern Front were fighting the 
enemy under conditions no less complex than those on the western axis. After 
regrouping its forces after intense week-long battles near Lutsk, Rovno. and 
Brody, the German 1st Tank Group used two mechanized corps to attack the 
weakly secured boundary area between the 5th and 6th armies and broke through 
to Ostrog. On 8 July fascist German mobile formations captured Berdichev, 
ana on v juiy entered Zhitomir, inaepenaent tank units succeeded in reaching 
the approaches to Kiev. At this time the German 11th Army and the Romanian 
forces, which on 3 July had gone over the offensive from bridgeheads on the 
left bank of the Prut, advanced up to 60 km on a northeastern axis and approached 
Mogilev-Posolskiy. The threat arose that not only would the capital of the 
Ukraine, Kiev, be captured by the enemy, but also that the main forces of the 
Southwestern Front would be encircled. In the existing situation the command 
of the Southwestern Front ordered the commanders of the 6th, 26th, and 12th 
armies to accelerate the withdrawal of their forces to the line indicated by a 
Headquarters directive of 30 June—through the fortified areas of Korosten, 
Novograd-Volynskiy, Shepetovka, Starokonstantinov, Proskurov, and 
Kamenets-Podolskiy. The forces of the right wing of the Southern Front were 


239 




also to withdraw to the same line to the south of Kamenets-Podolskiy. Accord¬ 
ing to the directive, the withdrawal of the forces was to be completed by 9 July. 

To support the accelerated withdrawal of the main forces of the Southwestern 
Front to the line of the old fortified areas, the troops of the 5th and 6th armies 
made counterattacks against the flanks of the 1st Tank Group. Because of these 
counterattacks, the command of Army Group South was forced to temporarily 
halt the offensive on the Kiev axis. Meanwhile, the forces of the 6th, 26th, and 
12th armies retreated to the line of Berdichev, Khmelnik, and Letichev. The 
next attempt by the fascist German command to encircle the main forces of the 
Southwestern Front collapsed. About this stage of military operations on the 
southwestern axis, the German general Butlar wrote: “After conducting heavy, 
bloody battles, the forces of Army Group South could make only frontal at¬ 
tacks on the enemy and force it to the east. The German motorized formations 
were not once able to break clear of or outflank the enemy, let alone encircle 
any major Russian forces.”" 

Although in mid-July, by the time enemy tank forces reached the line of Lake 
Chud, Vitebsk, Orsha, and the Dnepr, it had not been possible to complete the 
creation of a firm and continuous strategic defensive front, the major organiza¬ 
tional measures taken by Soviet High Command Headquarters had important 
consequences. The forces of the first strategic echelon retreating from the border 
in heavy battles pulled back to the lines on which the forces of the second strategic 
echelon were already deploying. The retreating units merged with the second 
echelon or were pulled back into the High Command Reserve. 

The navy increased operations against the enemy. It took a direct part in 
defending such important naval bases as Tallinn, the Munsund Islands, Hanko, 
Odessa, and Sevastopol. The stubborn defense of these bases diverted con¬ 
siderable enemy forces and played an important role in thwarting the fascist 
German forces' blitzkrieg advance on the maritime axes. The navy also started 
operations ao’ins! enemy cental iuMaiiaiions and tried to distrupt enemy sea 
communications. In truth, these operations were limited, but caused a good deal 
of damage to the enemy. 

At the start of the war the Black Sea Fleet used its aviation to make several 
attacks against Ploesti, Constanta, and Sulina, attempting to destroy the Roma¬ 
nian oil fields and tank farms. Some 82 bombers participated in the air attacks 
on Constanta, and 25 on Sulina. 

On 26 June a detachment of light naval forces from the Black Sea Fleet made 
a successful raid on Constanta. The fire in the tank farms caused by the shelling 
from the ships destroyed large oil reserves. The explosion of a train loaded with 
ammunition at the Constanta station damaged the station and the tracks. 


240 


Air attacks against the Romanian oil fields, tank farms, and oil pipelines across 
the Danube to Constanta continued in July and August. Attacks on Ploesti were 
made systematically up to 18 August. They refuted the fascist propaganda about 
the annihilation of Soviet aviation. 

At the start of July the fascist German command felt that the main forces of 
the Red Army had been defeated and the war was won. On 3 July Haider wrote 
in his diary: "... It would not be an exaggeration if I said that the campaign 
against Russia was won in 14 days.” 12 On 4 July he made the following con¬ 
clusion: “On the whole, it must be considered that the enemy no longer has 
sufficient forces for a serious defense of its defensive line running ... along 
the Western Dvina and Dnepr rivers and then to the south.” ,} He based this 
conclusion on the following calculations: “Of the 164 enemy rifle divisions iden¬ 
tified by us, 89 have been totally or largely destroyed. There are 46 combat- 
capable Russian rifle divisions remaining on the front. Eighteen divisions are 
held down in other sectors (14 against Finland, 4 in the Caucasus). Eleven divi¬ 
sions are apparently still in reserve in the rear. 

“Of the 29 tank divisions identified by us, 20 have been totally or largely 
destroyed. Nine divisions are still completely combat-capable. 

“With such forces," concluded Haider, “the enemy is no longer able to form 
a continuous front, even on the most important axes." 14 

Such an assessment of the situation on the Soviet-German Front was profoundly 
mistaken. Intoxicated by the Hitlerite army's initial successes, Haider at that 
time did not understand the main thing—that the war was just starting, not end¬ 
ing. He was also using figures that were far from valid. 

By 10 July there were 201 divisions under the Soviet High Command. 15 In 
truth, the number of personnel in the German and Soviet divisions differed. 
Most of the German divisions were up to full strength. They had 15,000 to 16,000 
men in each, while our most fully manned divisions each numbered tu.uuu to 
12,000 men. 14 There were 90 such divisions; the remainder were not up to full 
strength (50 percent and more). 17 On the whole, the enemy’s forces outnumbered 
our forces by a factor of approximately 1.5. The enemy also had considerable 
advantages in equipment. We still had few of the new types of aircraft and tanks 
whose performance was as good as that of German equipment. 

By mid-July, when the strategic reserves entered battle, the fascist German 
forces had advanced 450 to 500 km into our nation on the northwestern axis, 
450 to 600 km on the western axis, and 300 to 350 km on the southwestern 
axis. In 3 weeks of war the enemy had captured Latvia. Lithuania, and 
Belorussia. Soviet forces had abandoned vast territories in the Ukraine and 
Moldavia. 


The enormous scope of military operations and the exceptional intensity of 
the battles and engagements caused high losses on both sides. According to the 
statements of many German generals and military historians, the fascist Ger¬ 
man army's losses during the first weeks of the war in Eastern Europe were 
in no way comparable to the losses in all the campaigns in the west put together. 
According to Haider’s data, by 13 July the German army had lost about 100,000 
men killed, wounded, and missing in action. The enemy suffered enormous losses 
in combat equipment. By 14 July the fascist German army had lost around 50 
percent of its tanks, 18 more than 20 percent of which were combat losses. In 
the tank groups, because of the high losses, the combat capability of the units 
was noticeably reduced. By 5 July German aviation had lost 807 aircraft, and 
by 19 July, 1,284.'’ 

During this period the Soviet Armed Forces’ losses were also considerable. 
The troops of the Western Front suffered particularly large losses. 

Soviet military leaders, despite the exceptionally difficult situation, were able 
comparatively rapidly to restore command and control, which had been disrupted 
during the first days of the war, and to get control of the course of events and 
organize to repel the enemy. This was one of the main reasons that the fascist 
German command was unable to defeat the Soviet forces on a scale that would 
make it possible for the Hitlerite army to attain a rapid, nonstop advance on 
all the decisive axes toward the country’s most important administrative, political, 
and economic centers, as was provided for in the Barbarossa plan. 

Thus, because of the active operations of the forces in the first strategic 
echelon, and because of the entry of the strategic reserves into battle, the 
resistance of Soviet forces by mid-July had risen sharply along the entire Soviet- 
German Front. In the Baltic the front stabilized for a time on the line of Pyarnu 
and Tartu. On the Leningrad axis the enemy advance was halted for an entire 
month on the Luga River. On the western axis fascist German forces were bogged 
down for almost 2 months in the fierce Smolensk engagement. Enemy attacks 
were successfully repelled by the armies of the Southwestern Front in the sec¬ 
tor of the Korosten Fortified Area, on the approaches to the Dnepr, and on the 
Dnepr near Kiev and further south. 

* * 

* 

The initial period of the war was the first and most complex stage of the 
summer-fall campaign of 1941. A tremendous military force attacked the Soviet 
nation, and our Armed Forces had to go over to a strategic defense. Defensive. 
operations were conducted under conditions of fascist German air supremacy, 
deep breakthroughs by enemy tank groupings, and the formation of broad gaps 
in the strategic front. Nevertheless, Soviet forces defended with exceptional per¬ 
sistence and vigor. Wherever possible a firm defense of occupied positions was ’ 


242 


combined with numerous counterattacks, with stubborn battles in encirclement 
and escapes from encirclement, and with an active struggle by forces remain¬ 
ing in the enemy's rear. 

The difficult conditions under which the initial defensive operations of the 
Soviet Armed Forces took place complicated and sometimes entirely ruled out 
the possibility of applying fundamentally correct premises of military theory 
on the creation of a deeply echeloned defense set up to withstand tank and air 
attacks. The hasty switch to the defensive by armies and fronts on unprepared 
lines, which had meager antitank and antiaircraft resources, made the defense 
extremely vulnerable. In addition, our armies and fronts, inferior to the enemy 
in strength and equipment, were forced to conduct defensive operations over 
vast areas: 100 to 120 km for the armies and 300 to 500 km for the fronts. 
This forced front and army commanders to include almost all of their forces 
in the first echelon. The linear arrangment of the troops deprived the defense 
of depth and stability. 

Events in the first weeks of the war fully demonstrated that the fascist Ger¬ 
man command had clearly overestimated the capabilities of its armed forces 
and had erred seriously in appraising the endurance of the Soviet nation and 
the strength and capabilities of the Red Army. It had clearly underestimated 
the morale and political stability of the Soviet people and our country's ability 
to rapidly mobilize and deploy large strategic reserves and to commit them to 
battle on decisive axes. When the High Command committed large strategic 
reserves in battles along the Dnepr, the Hitlerite command's plans for an uninter¬ 
rupted development of its advance to Smolensk and then to Moscow were 
thwarted. 

Encountering constantly growing resistance in all sectors of the vast Soviet- 
German Front, the Hitlerite command had to scatter the efforts of its forces 
in many directions. This weakened the power of their attacks and reduced the 
rates of advance. By the end of July the Hitlerite high command had to order 
Army Group Center to go over to the defensive on the Moscow axis and to 
thoroughly review the plan for the further conduct of the war 

Only a few months had passed after the start of the war when the Red Army, 
after exhausting and weakening the enemy in defensive engagements, followed 
attacks on the flanks of the Soviet-German Front near Tikhvin and Rostov with 
a crushing attack against the fascist German army near Moscow. The counter¬ 
offensive near Moscow signaled the start of a fundamental turn not only in the 
Great Patriotic War, but in World War II as a whole. It laid to rest the Hitlerite 
plan for a blitzkrieg war against the Soviet Union and dispelled the myth of 
the fascist German army's invincibility. The victory near Moscow was graphic 
proof of the stability and vitality of the Soviet state and social structure and 
of the inexhaustible morale and political stability of the Soviet people and their 
army. This victory greatly increased the international prestige of the Soviet Union 


243 





and its Armed Forces, had a decisive effect on the unity of the antifascist coali¬ 
tion, and gave momentum to the national liberation movement in the countries 
occupied by Germany. The defeat of fascist German forces near Moscow was 
a guarantee of the inevitable defeat of fascism and the triumph of peoples fighting 
for their freedom and national independence. 

Notes 

t See (irfai Ptiirtoiu War. 11. 16. 17. 18. 20. 

2 /hukiv.. p 240 
* Great Patriotic War. II, 31. 

4 Minnow voxna 1939-1945 gfi. Sbnmik states [The World War 1939-1945: A Collection of 
Articles) (Moscow lzdatel’stvo inostrannoy literature. 1957), p. 163. |Hereafter cited as World 
War 1939 /945-U.S. Ed.) 

5 F Haider. Voyennyy dnrinik (War Diary) (Moscow: Voyemzdat. 1971), 111, Bk. 2, pp. 38, 
51. 54. 57, 60 jHereafter cited as Haider—U S. Ed.) 

6 Ibid . p 60 

7 Sec Lenin. XXVI, 224 

8 The CPSU on the USSR Armed Forces, p. 356. 

9 Pravda. 28 June 1941 

10 Sec Great Patriotic War. 11. 54 

11 World War 1939 1945. p 160 

12 Top Secret', p 241 
I 3 Ibid . p 243 

14 Haider. HI. Bk 2. pp 99-100. 

15 See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p 278. 

16 Sec Great Patriotic War. II. 61 

17 See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p. 278. 

IH Sec Haider. III. Bk 2. pp 130. 148 

19 See World War 1939-1945, p. 472. 


244 



Chapter 12. Preparing for and Making a Surprise 
Initial Attack After Opening a New 
Strategic Front (From the Ex¬ 
perience of the Soviet Armed 
Forces’ 1945 Campaign in the Far 
East) 


The coalition character of World War II, its enormous scope, and the entry 
into the war of various nations at different times made inevitable the creation 
of new strategic fronts as military operations progressed. They were opened 
either in accord with plans (aid out in advance or under the influence of the 
changing military and political situation, which forced the main strategic ef¬ 
forts to be shifted from one strategic front or theater of operations to another. 
During the war the belligerents frequently opened new fronts of military opera¬ 
tions against nations not participating in the war, while, on the other hand, na¬ 
tions drawn into the war would open a new front against one of the participants. 

Thus, in its attempt to systematically defeat its European enemies, and under 
plans worked out ahead of time, fascist Germany first concentrated the main 
mass of its armed forces for the attack against Poland and then for attacks against 
Poland’s western allies. Following the defeat of allied forces, Germany opened 
a new strategic front and unleashed war against the Soviet Union. 

Nations of the anti-Hitlerite coalition also opened new strategic fronts during 
the course of World War II. Furthermore, the difference in the political goals 
pursued in the war by the USSR and by England and the U S. had a direct in¬ 
fluence on the choice of time and place for opening new strategic fronts. In 
1940, for example, following France's defeat and the evacuation of its own forces 
from the continent, England rejected the idea of restoring the strategic land front 
in Western Europe against fascist Germany, its main enemy. England shifted 
its efforts to the secondary theaters of operations (the Mediterranean, North 
Africa, and the Near East), pursuing its own imperialist goals. As is well known, 
the Anglo-American command did not open a new strategic front in Western 
Europe until the final stage of the war, when fascist Germany had been 
thoroughly weakened by the war in the east and it had become clear that the 
USSR alone could rapidly complete the defeat of Germany. 


245 


4 * 





The Soviet Union was pursuing other political goals when, 3 months after 
fascist Germany's defeat, it declared war against militarist Japan and opened 
a new strategic front of military operations in the Far East, The Soviet Union 
considered it an international duty to the peoples enslaved by the Japanese ag¬ 
gressors to hasten the end of World War II, to join together with its allies to 
drive the Japanese occupiers from the nations of Asia, and to help the peoples 
of China, Korea, and other Asian nations to acquire their national freedom and 
independence. 

On 8 August 1945 the Soviet government announced that in support of the 
Potsdam Agreement signed by the allies on 26 July, it had accepted the pro¬ 
posal to enter the war against Japan. "The Soviet Government,” the declara¬ 
tion stated, “feels that such a policy on its part is the only means of hastening 
the approach of peace, of relieving the peoples from further sacrifices and suf¬ 
fering, and of making it possible for the Japanese people to avoid the dangers 
and destruction experienced by Germany following its rejection of unconditional 
surrender.” 1 

At the same time, the Soviet Union, interested in reliably strengthening its 
positions in the Far East, before entering the war against Japan announced to 
the allied powers at war with Japan that after the war it would make the follow¬ 
ing demands: retention of the status quo for Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian 
People's Republic); restoration of Russia's rights violated by Japan’s treacherous 
attack in 1904, specifically the return to the Soviet Union of the southern part 
of Sakhalin and all adjacent islands; and, finally, the return of the Kurile Islands 
to the Soviet Union. 2 

These conditions of the Soviet government were accepted by the governments 
of the allied powers. 

The problem of opening a new strategic front by transferring the main efforts 
from the European theater of operations to the Far East was successfully solved 
in the Soviet Union’s war against militarist Japan, and beneficial experience 
was acquired in preparing for and carrying out a surprise crushing attack at 
the start of military operations. The campaign in the Far East is also of interest 
because despite its tremendous scope, it was the shortest campaign of World 
War II and produced the greatest results. Between 9 August and 2 September 
the Soviet Armed Forces destroyed the Kwantung Army—the main striking force 
of Japanese imperialism’s ground forces—thus influencing to a critical degree 
Japan’s decision to surrender unconditionally. 

A distinguishing feature of the Soviet-Japanese war was that this war was 
concluded victoriously with one major strategic offensive operation, known as 
the Manchurian operation, and with the South Sakhalin offensive operation and 
Kurile assault operation, which were coordinated with the major operation but 
were comparatively small in size. 


246 


1. The Military and Political Situation by the Start of the 
Campaign and the Plan of the Japanese Command 


The military and political situation that had developed in the Far East by August 
1945 was characterized by Japan’s still great capabilities for waging war and 
by continued stubborn resistance to the joint U.S. and English armed forces. 
In the estimates of the American and English commands. Japan could be forced 
to an unconditional surrender not earlier than 1946-1947 without the support 
of the Soviet Union. 

Japan's domestic political situation in 1945 was very difficult. Its economy 
had been thoroughly undermined by the 8-year war in China and the 4-year 
war in the Pacific, and it was only with difficulty that it could make up for the 
enormous losses suffered by its armed forces. 

Japan’s foreign political situation was difficult as well. The U.S. and England, 
constantly increasing the might of their attacks, were approaching the Japanese 
homeland. The unconditional surrender of fascist Germany deprived the Japanese 
militarists of their most reliable ally and put Japan in a situation of international 
isolation. 

Nevertheless, the Japanese government rejected the proposal of the U.S., 
English, and Chinese governments on a halt to military operations and on un¬ 
conditional surrender and resolved "to persistently continue the advance until 
the successful conclusion of the war. ’’’ Hoping for disagreements between the 
allies, the Japanese government felt that it would be able to secure advantageous 
conditions from the U.S. and England for concluding a peace. 

The Japanese army and navy still represented an impressive military force. 
There were over 7 million men under arms, including 5.9 million men in the 
army and air force, more than 10,000 aircraft, and around 500 combat ships 
of various classes * 

The Soviet Armed Forces were to enter a war against a strong enemy that 
had far from lost its combat capability and belief in victory. 

Manchuria. Inner Mongolia, and north Korea, on whose territory military 
operations took place, covered 1.5 million sq km. The land theater of opera¬ 
tions stretched 1,500 km from north to south and 1.200 km from west to east. 
The length of the state border shared by the USSR and the Mongolian People’s 
Republic with Manchuria and Korea, on which Soviet forces were concentrated 
for the coming offensive, was over 4,000 km. The extent of the naval theater 
of operations, where the operations of the Soviet Pacific Fleet were conducted, 
stretched south for around 4.000 miles (approximately 7,500 km). 


247 


In geographic and climatic conditions, the area of the coming combat opera¬ 
tions was exceptionally complex. The large mountain systems and ranges (the 
Greater Khingan in the west, the Ilkuri Shan and Lesser Khingan in the north, 
and the Eastern Manchurian system in the east) formed an inaccessible barrier 
100 to 400 km wide blocking all the routes from the Mongolian People's Republic 
and the Transbaykal, Amur, and Maritime areas into the centra! regions of 
Manchuria. Stretching for hundreds of kilometers in the west were hot, waterless, 
sandy deserts and rocky mountains. The mountain systems and ranges seemed 
to be reinforced by broad and deep border rivers—the Argun, Amur, Ussuri, 
and Tumen—which during the summer rains (four-fifths of the annual precipita¬ 
tion falls in July-August) acquired the significance of defensive lines on an opera¬ 
tional scale. The road network was poorly developed, On the whole, the area 
of combat operations was a mountain-taiga, swamp, and mountain-desert ter¬ 
rain that made it possible to fight with operational field forces and even smaller 
formations only on certain axes hundreds of kilometers apart. The most impor 
tant operational axes were covered by the enemy in 17 fortified areas (8 of them 
located on the maritime axis) with a total length of over 1,000 km. The opera¬ 
tional capacity of the individual fortified areas was designed for 1 to 3 infantry 
divisions. 

In this vast and inaccessible theater of operations Soviet forces were opposed 
by the million-man Kwantung Army, which was made up of four Japanese fronts 
and one independent army. Including the satellite forces, there were over 1.2 
million men (not counting strategic reserves and armed detachments of reserv¬ 
ists). The Kwantung Army had 5,000 guns, 1,115 tanks, and 1,900 aircraft. 5 

The plan worked out by the Japanese command in the spring of 1945 had 
a defensive character, but also allowed for the conduct of a counteroffensive. 
Its basic idea consisted in using a stubborn defense in fortified border areas and 
on advantageous natural lines to prevent the breakthrough of Soviet forces into 
the central regions of Manchuria and Korea. This idea was to be carried out 
by the covering forces: the army of Manchukuo, the garrisons of border troops, 
and part of the field forces of the Kwantung Army (up to one-third of the forces 
in all). The main forces of the Kwantung Army were concentrated in central 
Manchuria near vital rail and highway junctions that would make it possible 
to carry out maneuvers and to bring up units on threatened axes and deploy 
them on advantageous lines while at the same time maintaining the compact 
grouping of these forces. The main forces had the mission of putting an end 
to the Red Army’s deep breakthroughs and stopping the advancing troops; power¬ 
ful counterattacks were to be made on any of the operational axes. Once the 
Kwantung Army had been reinforced with strategic reserves, and when the situa¬ 
tion was favorable, it was to go over to a counteroffensive, to restore the broken 
front, and then to invade Soviet territory. If the outcome of the defensive engage¬ 
ment was unfavorable, then it was proposed that the army be pulled back to 
the line of Changchun, Mukden, and Chinchou. If this line also could not be 


248 



held, the main forces of the K warming Army were to be pulled back into Korea 
and Soviet forces would be repelled on the line of the Tumen and Yalu rivers. 

In June-July 1945, under this plan, the forces of the Kwantung Army were 
regrouped and the defensive lines were prepared. 

2. The Plan for the Defeat of the Kwantung Army 

The plan of the Soviet Supreme High Command provided for the defeat 
of the Kwantung Army and the liberation of the territories occupied by it in 
a rapid operation and in such a manner that the enemy would be unable to 
withdraw its forces from Manchuria and north Korea. Our forces were to make 
two main attacks—one from the territory of the Mongolian People’s Republic 
and the other from the Maritime Area—as well as several auxiliary attacks along 
axes converging on the center of Manchuria to split up and rapidly defeat the 
Kwantung Army’s main forces unit by unit. Consequently, there was to be a 
double deep enveloping maneuver to encircle the main forces of the Kwantung 
Army This was planned on axes that would allow the Soviet forces to quickly 
deprive the Kwantung Army of lines of communications with the homeland, 
with north Korea, where forces of the 17th Front were holding the defenses, 
and with the Peking region, where the Northern Front was. The plan of the 
Soviet Supreme High Command was to make crushing blows aimed at encir¬ 
cling and destroying the main forces of the Kwantung Army. The liberation 
of South Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands was dependent on achieving this main 
goal 

The defeat of the Kw antung Army was to be carried out by the forces of three 
fronts (the Transbaykal, 1st and 2nd Far Eastern), the Pacific Fleet, and the 
Red Banner Amur Flotilla The fronts were to be deployed on three strategic 
axes the Transbaykal Front on the Transbaykal-Manchurian axis, the 2nd Far 
Eastern Front on the Amur-Manchurian, and the 1st Far Eastern Front on the 
Maritime Manchurian 

The forces of the Transbaykal Front were to play the main role in defeating 
the Kwantung Army. The rapid advance of the forces of this front against such 
major enemy points as Mukden and Changchun would determine the outcome 
ot the battle. The attack by the forces of the 1st Far Eastern Front in the direc¬ 
tion of Kirin by the shortest route would bring them to a linkup with the forces 
of the Transbaykal Front Thus, the ring of encirclement would be closed. 

The composition of these fronts was much stronger than that of the 2nd Far 
Eastern Front. 


249 



The Transbaykal Front had four combined arms armies, a tank army, a group 
of Soviet-Mongolian troops, an air army, an air defense army, and a considerable 
number of reinforcement formations and other units. In all, the front numbered 
654,000 men, 7,000 guns and mortars, 2,416 tanks and self-propelled guns, 
1,360 antitank guns, 601 antiaircraft guns, 583 rocket launchers, and 1,334 
aircraft. 

The 1st Far Eastern Front included four combined arms armies, a mecha¬ 
nized corps, a cavalry division, the Maritime Group, an air army, and an air 
defense army. In the number of reinforcement formations and units, it was 
somewhat inferior to the Transbaykal Front. The front had 586,000 men, 8,600 
guns and mortars. 1,860 tanks and self-propelled guns, 1,538 antitank guns, 
504 antiaircraft guns. 516 rocket launchers, and 1,158 aircraft. 

The 2nd Far Eastern Front had considerably fewer personnel, tanks, guns, 
and aircraft. It included three combined arms armies, an independent rifle corps, 
the Kamchatka Defensive Area, an air army, an air defense army, and rein¬ 
forcement formations and units. The front numbered 337,000 men, 4,400 guns 
and mortars, l ,280 tanks and self-propelled guns, 808 antitank guns, 1.280 anti¬ 
aircraft guns, and 1,095 aircraft. 6 

The overall balance of forces was in favor of the Soviet forces, which out¬ 
numbered the enemy by a factor of 1.2 in personnel, 4.8 in tanks and self- 
propelled guns, 4.8 in artillery, and 2.5 in aviation. The balance of lorces on 
the strategic axes was somewhat different. 

On the Transbaykal-Manchurian axis our forces were superior to the 
Kwantung Army by a factor of 1.7 in personnel. 8.6 in guns, 18 in mortars, 
and 5 in tanks and self-propelled guns; on the Maritime - Manchurian axis, by 
1.5 in personnel, 4 in guns, and 8 in tanks and self propelled guns (our forces 
on this axis had an overwhelming advantage in mortars); on the Amur- 
Manchurian axis, by I 4 in personnel, 2 in guns. 8.2 in mortars, and 8 in tanks 
and self-propelled guns. Thus, on the axes of the main attacks our forces were 
vastly superior to the enemy's. 7 

The offensive was to be developed on a front with a total length of around 
5,000 km. The depth of the planned strategic operation reached 600 to 800 km, 
and the duration was 20 to 24 days. These figures also determined the planned 
rates of advance: 3 to 10 km per day for the 1st Far Eastern Front (considering 
the breakthrough of fortified areas and the crossing of mountain-taiga and swamp 
terrain); 13 km per day for the 2nd Far Eastern Front (considering the crossing 
of the Amur and the breakthrough of fortified areas); and 23 km for the rifle 
troops and 60 to 70 km per day for the mobile forces of the Transbaykal Front 
(considering the crossing of the Greater Khingan Mountain Range). 


250 




The unique missions assigned to these forces and the specific features of the 
conditions under which combat operations were to be carried out had a substantial 
influence on the employment of the different services in these operations. 

The ground forces were confronted with complex missions. They had to break 
through the fortified areas, defeat the covering forces in the border zone, cross 
large rivers, overcome swamps, forests, desert terrain, and mountain ranges, 
and rapidly reach the Manchurian plain. Accomplishing these missions required 
the creation of powerful assault groupings on the axes of the fronts' main attacks. 

The first echelon of the Transbaykal Front had a tank army and a group of 
Soviet-Mongolian troops, while the tank formations and units of the combined 
arms armies and rifle corps, along with their reinforcements, were to fight as 
powerful forward detachments. This was dictated by the need to rapidly cross 
the desert terrain and the Greater Khingan Range to preempt the enemy in bring¬ 
ing up reserves to this strong natural defensive barrier. 

In the 1st Far Eastern Front the terrain ruled out the possibility of the massed 
use of tank and mechanized forces in the first operational echelon. To increase 
the breakthrough capacity of the combined arms armies and formations, they 
were reinforced by tank brigades and self-propelled artillery regiments. After 
breaking through the enemy defenses, these brigades and units were to be used 
as forward detachments. When the defensive fortifications were broken through, 
the 10th Mechanized Corps was to be committed to battle to a depth of 100 
to 130 km. 

The forces of the 2nd Far Eastern Front were to cross the Amur and Ussuri 
rivers, break through the fortified areas and develop the offensive in the forest, 
swamp, and impassable mountain-taiga terrain. This circumstance forced the 
use of the tank formations and units as forward detachments of the armies and 
corps on tank-accessible axes only to the operational depth. 

Thus, depending on terrain and enemy defenses, the tank and mechanized 
forces were moved up to the first echelons of the fronts and armies either at 
the start or during the operation. This made it possible for the troops to develop 
high rates of advance. 

The group of Soviet-Mongolian forces was to be used on the right flank of 
the Transbaykal Front. 

To ensure surprise in the initial attack, the air forces of the three fronts and 
of the Pacific Fleet, about 5,000 aircraft, did not conduct any reconnaissance 
flights before the start of the offensive. 

At the start of the offensive the air armies of the fronts were to make massed 
attacks to assist friendly forces in breaking through enemy fortified areas. In 


251 





addition, the air armies were to disrupt enemy communications, destroy major 
military objectives in the deep rear, conduct reconnaissance over the entire depth 
of the theater of operations, and support the advancing forces, particularly the 
mobile formations, by covering them against enemy air attacks. 

On all the fronts aviation assets were to be massed on the axes of the main 
attacks. On the axis of the main attack in the Transbaykal Front approximately 
85 percent of the 12th Air Army's aircraft were to be used; in the 1st Far Eastern 
Front 70 percent of the 9th Air Army’s aircraft were to be used; and in the 
2nd Far Eastern Front (only in the zone of the 15th Army) 50 percent of the 
10th Air Army's aircraft were to be used. There was centralized command of 
the aviation in the 1st and 2nd Far Eastern fronts. In the Transbaykal Front, 
because of the massive expanse of the operation, part of the aviation formations 
and units was put under operational control of the commanders of the armies 
and the group of Soviet-Mongolian forces. 

The 12th Air Army’s transport aviation (two air transport divisions) was to 
be used to supply fuel, ammunition, and water to the 6th Guards Tank Army 
after the tank army, in its advance, had broken away a significant distance from 
the combined arms armies and supply organs. 

The Pacific Fleet’s mission was to assist the forces of the 1st Far Eastern 
Front in defeating the Kwantung Army in Manchuria and north Korea, and to 
aid the 16th Army of the 2nd Far Eastern Front in liberating South Sakhalin 
and the Kurile Islands. The fleet was also to disrupt enemy sea communications 
in the Sea of Japan while defending our own sea communications. 

The Red Banner Amur Flotilla was to support the crossing of the Amur and 
Ussuri, and, after the ships had gone up the Sungari, was to assist the forces 
of the 1st and 2nd Far Eastern fronts in the battle for fortified areas and enemy 
strongpoints. 

The air defense armies of the fronts had the mission of covering the troop 
unloading, concentration, and deployment areas and the major strategic objec¬ 
tives in the tactical rear. 

The operational formation of the forces of the fronts strictly corresponded 
to the plan of the coming operation. The Transbaykal Front was formed in two 
echelons. In the first echelon there were three combined arms armies, a tank 
army, and the group of Soviet-Mongolian forces; in the second echelon there 
was one combined arms army. This army was to advance behind the tank army 
and, after the tank army had broken away from the main forces of the front, 
was to fill in the gap between the two adjacent armies of the first echelon. In 
the reserve of the commander of the front were two rifle divisions, one tank 
division, and some reinforcement units. The 2nd Far Eastern Front had a single¬ 
echelon formation. This ensured great strength for the initial attack and high 


252 



rates of advance for the breakthrough of fortified zones and defensive lines. 
The reserve of the front consisted of two rifle corps and a cavalry division. 
The mobile group was made up of a mechanized corps with reinforcements. 
The forces of the 2nd Far Eastern Front were formed up in a single echelon, 
and the reserve of the front consisted of a rifle division and a fortified area. 

The massing of men and equipment on the axes of the main attacks of the 
fronts and armies was carried out boldly and decisively. The Transbaykal Front 
was deployed in a zone 2,300 km across, active combat operations were car¬ 
ried out on a 1,500-km front, and the main forces (up to 70 percent of all the 
infantry and 90 percent of all the tanks, artillery, and aviation) were concen¬ 
trated over a zone of 400 km. The 1st Far Eastern Front advanced in a zone 
700 km across, and the main attack was made in a zone of about 100 km. 

The massing of men and equipment was carried out on the operational axes 
by allocating major reinforcements to the armies of the first echelon. For ex¬ 
ample, on the Transbaykal Front the 39th Army was reinforced by a tank divi¬ 
sion, two tank brigades, an artillery breakthrough corps, and a number of special 
units; the 6th Guards Tank Army was reinforced by two motorized rifle divi¬ 
sions, two self-propelled artillery brigades, a cannon artillery brigade, four in¬ 
dependent tank battalions, an antiaircraft artillery division, and a number of 
special units. All the armies of the front and the group of Soviet-Mongolian 
forces were formed up in two echelons and had formations and independent 
units with reinforcements in the reserve. 

The regrouping and concentration of the forces. In the Far East in the spring 
of 1945 there were up to 40 regular divisions that made up the Transbaykal 
and Far Eastern fronts and the Maritime Group.* These forces were to ac¬ 
complish defensive missions. The troops, armed mainly with outdated weaponry, 
were poorly equipped. 

To create the required grouping of men and equipment, it was necessary in 
a short period to carry out the largest regrouping of forces in history and the 
transfer of combat equipment and supplies from the European theater of opera¬ 
tions to the Far East and Transbaykal area, a distance of 9.000 to 12.000 km. 
over the single Trans-Siberian railroad. 

In April 1945 the command of the former Karelian Front was redeployed to 
the Maritime area, and after the defeat of fascist Germany, the command of 
the Second Ukrainian Front arrived in the Transbaykal area. From May 1945 
until the start of the operation, the 5th Army was shifted from East Prussia to 
the Far East as part of the 1st Far Eastern Front, while the Transbaykal Front 
received the 39th Army from Konigsberg and the 53rd and 6th Guards tank 

•By a directive of Supreme High Command Headquarters on 2 August 1945, the Maritime Forces 
Group was renamed the 1st Far Eastern Front, and the 1st Far Eastern Front became the 2nd Far 
Eastern Front. Author's note 

253 




armies from Czechoslovakia. A large number of independent tank, artillery, 
aviation, engineer, and other units and formations also arrived in the Far East. 

During the concentration of forces in the Far East more than 2,500 trains 
crossed the Trans-Siberian railroad, including 1,666 with troops and over 1,000 
with combat equipment and materiel. In total, this was 136,000 cars.' Cargo 
from Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-the-Amur, and other regions in the Far East 
moved to the front in a massive flow. In addition, there were troop movements 
between the fronts: these covered up to 1,500 km by rail and 250 to 600 km 
on foot and by transport. Thus, about 30 rifle, tank, and cavalry divisions were 
redeployed. 

Because of the poorly developed railroad network, the command of the 
Transbaykal Front was forced to unload all its motorized formations and ar¬ 
tillery with mechanized traction at the stations and sidings between Chita and 
Karymskaya and send them under their own power to the assembly areas, which 
were 500 to 600 km from the unloading areas. The distance covered daily over 
the hot desert terrain was 100 to 150 km for the tank and mechanized troops 
and 40 to 50 km for the rifle formations. 

Despite the extreme difficulties encountered in regrouping the forces to the 
Far East, it was completed on time. This was greatly aided because by a GKO 
decision a large amount of weapons and combat equipment was delivered to 
the new theater of operations ahead of time from industrial enterprises relatively 
nearby, in Siberia, Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-the-Amur, and elsewhere. Part 
of the weapons and combat equipment of the rebased troops was left at the old 
deployment areas. 

Preparation of the theater of operations. The complex conditions in the 
Far Eastern theater of operations required an enormous amount of work for 
the engineer support of the force buildup and deployment. To carry out this 
work on time, the three fronts received 18 field-engineer and pontoon-bridge 
brigades and 30 independent engineer units for various purposes. The engineer 
troops laid 1,390 km of new road and repaired 5,000 km of the old. On the 
Transbaykal Front 1,194 wells were built, 322 were repaired, and 21 were 
equipped and capped as reserve. 

For orientation in the desert terrain, special indicators of various types were 
created, for example, in the form of earthen pyramids 0.8 to 1 m high. Some 
6,250 such indicators were built. In addition, 775 km of roads were constructed, 
269 km of cross-country roads were completed, 2,389 shelters for combat equip¬ 
ment and motor transport were dug, 12,050 fascines and 2 km of wooden panels 
were prepared for laying passageways across swampy areas, and so forth. 9 

Primary importance was attached to concealing the concentration and deploy¬ 
ment of the forces in the starting areas for the offensive. All movements of for- 


254 



mations and units were carried out only at night On the Transbaykal f ront all 
the combat equipment of the troops arriving in the assembly or concentration 
areas was stored during the day in specially prepared shelters and * overed with 
camouflage nets. Standing duty on the state border was kept urv..r peacetime 
conditions. The radios of the newly arrived field forces and formations operated 
only for receiving. The cutting of passageways through obstacles on our ter 
ritory was done only at night. Our forces moved up to the starting areas during 
the night of 9 August. The directive for the start of operations was not given 
to the troop commanders of the fronts until 7 August at 1630 almost on the 
eve of the offensive. 

The intense work by the engineer forces and the concealment measures of 
the Soviet command created favorable conditions for making a surprise attack 
and rapidly breaking through the enemy defenses. 

logistics support and organization. The creation of reserves ot materiel 
in the Far East and the organization of logistics support itself were ot great im¬ 
portance for the success of the strategic operation. In considering this. Supreme 
High Command Headquarters provided for the early buildup of the necessary 
logistics support, which was undertaken with particular intensity from December 
1944. By the start of the war the reserves of materiel that had been created fully 
provided the forces with everything necessary to conduct combat operations. 

The logistics units and installations of the 1st and 2nd Far Eastern fronts were 
deployed on sections of the Trans-Siberian railroad with eight or nine supply 
stations and located in the organic and army-level rear areas (25 to 150 km from 
the deployment areas). The distribution points were based at the railroad sta 
tions. The situation was worse on the Transbaykal Front: in its rear there was 
not even the start of a railroad network. Many of its logistics units and installa¬ 
tions, including the main depots with the front stores, were forced to stay on 
a single railroad spur that ended with a section of narrow-gauge track. The depth 
of the rear area of the Transbaykal Front was 100 km on the left wing and reached 
600 km on the right. The army-level rear areas, along with the organic rear, 
also had a great depth, reaching 100 to 450 km. Characteristic for this front 
was that the tank army was assigned its own rear area. This was because it was 
in the first echelon of the front. Taking into consideration that in the first days 
of the operation the tank army could be separated by a great distance from the 
main grouping of the front and the logistics elements, the front was assigned 
two air transport divisions (up to 200 aircraft). 

In the 1st and 2nd Far Eastern fronts each army (with the exception of the 
16th and 35th) had its own railroad section with several supply stations. On 
the Transbaykal Front only the 36th Army had its own railroad section and supply 
stations. The remaining armies of this front put their supply depots “on the 
ground,” closer to the troops, at a distance of 30 to 100 km. They were 240 
to 500 km from the front-line depots. 


255 



Thus, the army-level supply depots were at a distance from the troops that 
could be considered normal, but at a distance from the front-line bases that clearly 
exceeded the norm. This required the construction of extensive roads and the 
manufacture of a quite large number of motor vehicles. The motor vehicles had 
to have increased cross-country capability and a large load capacity. Motor 
transport played a decisive role in shipments to the front. The greatest amount 
of motor transport was assigned to the Transbaykal Front and to the 1st Far 
Eastern Front. 

The organization of command and control. Supreme High Command Head¬ 
quarters, in considering the great remoteness of the new theater of operations, 
the enormous expanse of the coming campaign, and the use of large forces in 
this campaign, set up in Khabarovsk the High Command of the Soviet Forces 
in the Far East. The commander in chief of the Soviet forces in the Far East 
was in command of all the ground forces, aviation, air defense forces, naval 
forces, and local military control organs. The commander in chief had great 
authority. He was to exercise control over the preparation of front- and army- 
level operations, take measures to improve logistics support and accelerate the 
regrouping of the forces in the theater of operations, and, with the start of the 
offensive, was to coordinate the operations of the fronts. The commander in 
chief was responsible for the continuous operation of the Trans-Siberian railroad 
from Baykal to Vladivostok. He was given the right to make contact with the 
allied command and conduct talks on surrender with the commander of the 
Kwantung Army. 

The coordination of naval and air operations with the ground forces was car¬ 
ried out by the commander in chief of the navy and by the commander of the 
Red Army Air Force. Logistics support problems were solved by the Red Army’s 
deputy chief of logistics working with a group of representatives from the cen¬ 
tral logistics installations. 

Supreme High Command Headquarters and the General Staff kept constant 
control over the preparations for and actual conduct of the operation and had 
direct contact with the commanders of the fronts and the navy. 

The enormous expanse of the theater of operations created great difficulties 
for command and control. The distance between the staff of the commander 
in chief and the front staffs reached 900 to 3,000 km, 400 to 1,000 km between 
the staffs of the fronts and the armies, and 50 to 400 km between the armies 
and the corps staffs. 

The operation had to be prepared in deepest secrecy from the enemy. This 
was achieved by making flexible use of different means of communications, 
in particular, line communications (before the operation, it was forbidden to 
use radio), liaison aircraft and other means of transport, and personal contact 


256 




between the commander in chief and the commanders of the fronts and the ar¬ 
mies, and between the commanders of the fronts and the commanders of ar¬ 
mies and formations. 

Despite the extremely difficult geographic conditions of the theater of opera¬ 
tions and the quite strict deadlines imposed by Supreme High Command Head¬ 
quarters for the preparation of the operation, the titanic work in concentrating 
and deploying the forces met with complete success. 

By the start of the operation the ground forces of all three fronts had been 
secretly deployed in the starting areas for the offensive, and their first echelons 
were on the state border. The air forces occupied the forward airfields in com¬ 
bat readiness to make massed attacks against the enemy. The Pacific Fleet was 
put under full alert. 

3. Making the First Attack and Achieving the Goals of the 
War in the Campaign 

The Soviet offensive that began during the night of 9 August 1945 (at 
0010-0110 hours) was a surprise to the enemy. There was no preparatory ar¬ 
tillery fire or air attack. The forces of the 1st Far Eastern Front went over to 
the offensive in a heavy rain. 

During the first hours of the offensive the powerful forward detachments that 
had been created on all the fronts in the corps and divisions of the first echelon* 
defeated the enemy’s covering units. They pushed into the gaps between the 
centers of resistance of the border fortifications and in doing so disrupted the 
system of enemy defenses. Where the enemy, in using these centers, put up 
stubborn resistance, it was sealed off by part of our forces, and then with direct 
laying of the regimental artillery and self-propelled guns was defeated and an¬ 
nihilated. Some 4.5 to 7.5 hours after the start of operations the forward 
detachments of the fronts went over to a general offensive. 

The decisive operations of the forward detachments, which caused the enemy 
to retreat to the rear defensive lines, made it possible for the main forces to 
move ahead in columns on certain axes. This greatly accelerated their advance. 
Thus, on the first day of the offensive, the mobile forces of the Transbaykal 
Front, in overcoming enemy resistance, advanced 60 to 150 km, while the rifle 
formations pushed ahead 40 to 50 km. 


•The forward detachments included from one to two companies up to a regiment of infantry mounted 
on vehicles; from a tank battalion up to a tank brigade; a battalion of self-propelled guns, a bat¬ 
talion of field artillery, a battalion or regiment of antitank artillery, an antiaircraft artillery bat¬ 
talion. and other units Author's note 




On the first day of combat, because of stubborn enemy resistance and the 
difficult conditions of the taiga terrain, the offensive by the forces of the 1st 
Far Eastern Front developed slowly. However, on this day they were able to 
break through the heavily fortified enemy defenses to a depth of 5 to 20 km 
and thus create conditions to develop the advance in depth. The forces crossed 
the taiga, keeping the engineer reconnaissance, which marked the route, at the 
head of each column. Behind the engineer reconnaissance, in echelons one after 
another, came the tanks of the forward detachments. They broke down trees 
while laying cross-country routes up to 5 m wide; the infantry and field engineers 
of the forward detachments pulled away the downed timber, clearing these routes. 
Behind the forward detachments came the road and bridge units, continuing the 
work on the cross-country routes. Then came the advance guard, followed by 
the support detachments of the main forces. 

The enemy put up extremely stubborn resistance against the forces of the 1st 
Far Eastern Front on the approaches to the Muling River and the town of Mutan- 
chiang, and in battles for the city itself, which was a major center of the defen¬ 
sive line running along the Mutanchiang River. 

On 16 August, after 5 days of bloody battles, the forces of the 1st Red Ban¬ 
ner and 5th armies captured Mutanchiang. The enemy began a withdrawal, leav¬ 
ing more than 40,000 soldiers and officers killed on the battlefield. The Japanese 
forces were just as stubborn in defending the Fukien. Border, Tungning, and 
Hailar fortified areas and the town of Chiamussu. 

On the Transbaykal Front the 6th Guards Tank Army advanced in two col¬ 
umns, with a distance between them of 50 to 70 km. In the first echelon two 
mechanized corps went ahead, and in the second, the tank corps. The corps 
followed along six to eight parallel routes in zones of 15 to 20 km each. 

The advantage of the parallel movement of the mobile forces along several 
routes was that this achieved a relatively rapid crossing of areas of quicksand, 
reduced the overall depth of the columns, and increased the speed of march. 

On approaching the Greater Khingan Mountain Range the 5th Tank Corps 
was moved into the first echelon because it had greater cross-country capacity 
in the mountain terrain than did the mechanized corps. The 5th Tank and 9th 
Mechanized corps crossed the Greater Khingan range along one road, while 
the 7th Mechanized Corps moved along two. 

The 10th Mechanized Corps of the 1st Far Eastern Front came behind the 
forces of the 25th Army. Since it was impossible to bypass the army formations 
because of the lack of roads, the corps moved ahead during the infantry halts, 
and not with ail its formations at once, but in comparatively small units. To 
carry out combat missions, the corps commander, after considering the very 


258 





confined conditions of the advance, assigned two forward detachments, each 
consisting of a reinforced tank brigade. One of them carried out the immediate 
mission of the corps, and the next the subsequent one. 

Without reducing the rate of advance, in 6 days the forces of the fronts moved 
forward over the various axes from SO to 400 km into enemy territory. By the 
end of the 10th day of the operation the 'Jransbaykal Front had advanced 400 
to 600 km, the 1st Far Eastern 200 to 300 km, and the 2nd Far Eastern Front 
up to 200 km. 

The air force began combat operations at dawn on 9 August. It attacked the 
major railroad stations, bridges, and crossings to thwart the possible maneuver 
of enemy forces and prevent the organized withdrawal of the troops and the 
evacuation of combat equipment. Our aviation also attacked communications 
centers, fortified areas, major military objectives in Hailar, Changchun, Harbin, 

Kirin, and other strategically important targets. 

Our fighter aviation covered the assault troop groupings. 

The air force of the Pacific Fleet, together with formations of torpedo boats, • 
attacked north Korean ports and coastal defense objectives. More than 30 enemy 
ships were sunk or damaged. The enemy fleet, caught by surprise, did not resist. 

When the main forces of the fronts went over to the offensive, our ground 
attack and bomber aviation provided direct support for the troops. 

Reconnaissance aviation conducted intensive reconnaissance of the enemy over 
a broad front and to the entire depth of the theater of operations. About 26 per¬ 
cent of the aircraft sorties of all the fighter aviation were used for reconnaissance 
work during the operation. 

The employment of airborne assault forces was not planned ahead of time. 

The need for these forces was caused by the rapidity of the offensive, when 
it became necessary to accelerate the receiving of surrendered Japanese troops 
and to prevent the destruction of industrial enterprises and the removal and 
destruction of valuable materials by the enemy. The number of troops in the 
airborne parties fluctuated from 120 to 500 men. There was an intensive transfer 
of troops by air from 18 through 27 August, when the fighting was nearly over. 

The airborne assault forces included submachine gunners from the tank forces 
and personnel from the field-engineer assault brigade and independent airfield 
maintenance battalions. The assault groups were headed by members of the front 
staffs. Air transports with assault forces landed at permanent enemy airfields. 

Small groups of fighters provided cover for formations of air transports with 
assault forces en route and in the landing areas. 


259 



The Pacific Fleet saw action on two operational axes: off the eastern coast 
of Korea and around Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. A major mission of the 
Pacific Fleet was to provide cover for the maritime flank of the 1st Far Eastern 
Front and, together with the forces of the 25th Army, to capture the ports on 
the northeastern coast of Korea. The fleet successfully carried out this mission. 
Thus, it landed four tactical assault parties on this coast and these captured the 
ports of Yuki, Rashin, Seishin, and Gensan. 

The Pacific Fleet played a prominent role in the capture of South Sakhalin 
and the Kurile Islands, having landed several tactical assault parties on them. 
The ships of the Pacific Fleet did a great deal in carrying out large movements 
of troops and military cargo and disrupting enemy communications in the Sea 
of Japan.* 

The combat operations of the Red Banner Amur Flotilla developed mainly 
on the Sungari and Sakhalin axes. The flotilla successfully carried out all its 
main missions. It supported the forces of the 2nd Far Eastern Front in their 
crossing of the Amur and Ussuri rivers and took an active part in neutralizing 
the enemy centers of resistance and strongpoints along the shores, using the 
fire from ships offshore. The ships of the Amur Flotilla landed assault forces 
in the area of advance of the 15th Army and provided essential fire support. 
By their fire the ships supported the operations of the forces advancing along 
the Sungari River and also transported troops along this river. The successful 
operations of the ships of the Red Banner Amur Flotilla secured the rapid rates 
of advance of the forces of the 2nd Far Eastern Front. 

Command and control during the operation was carried out mainly by radio, 
as well as by flights by staff officers to the field to transmit or verify orders 
and instructions and to clarify the situation of the troops and their needs. 

The movement of the columns over separate axes was controlled by liaison 
aircraft. On the army level and below, command and control was carried out 
in motion. The staffs of the divisions did not deploy. Stability and continuity 
of control were achieved by bringing the control posts as close as possible to 
the troops. 

The radio network of the People's Commissariat of Communications was used 
for communications between the commander in chief of the Soviet forces in 
the Far East and the fronts. The armies were reinforced with front-type radios. 
Enormous work was done to create permanent communication lines and relay 
booster stations. All three fronts had line communications with the General Staff 
and with the commander in chief of the Far East forces 


•On 22 August two submarines that had taken up station near the Japanese navy's base at Rumoi 
attacked two enemy transports One of them was damaged and the other sunk. Author's note 


260 






Aviation was widely used for communications between fronts and armies. 
During the operation front commanders themselves often flew out to the com¬ 
mand posts of the commanders of the armies fighting on the main axes. 

The great distance between the operational axes and the complexity of the 
terrain impeded the organization of cooperation. Great independence of opera¬ 
tion had to be provided not only for field formations but also for smaller units. 

Looking at the entire operation, cooperation was carefully thought out and 
smoothly accomplished. Its organization was evident in the assignment of mis¬ 
sions to the various services of the armed forces and to strategic groupings, 
in the precise determination of the role and place of each of them in the opera¬ 
tion, and in the establishment of the sequence and order of accomplishing the 
operational-strategic missions. 

The operational cooperation between the troop groupings advancing on separate 
axes became possible only during the final stage of the operation. 

* * 

* 

The crushing attacks by the forces of the Transbaykal and the 1st and 2nd 
Far Eastern fronts, the Pacific Fleet, and the Red Banner Amur Flotilla resulted 
in the rapid defeat of the Kwantung Army, the Manchukuo and Inner Mongolian 
Army, the Hsuan Army Group, half of the forces of the 5th Front, and the 
Sungari River Flotilla. Japan lost its main industrial and raw materials base in 
northeast China and on South Sakhalin, which accounted for a large part of its 
military and economic potential. All of this was decisive in bringing Japan’s 
defeat and unconditional surrender. 

The campaign conducted by Soviet forces in the Far East was truly one of 
blitzkrieg warfare, which had a decisive influence in eliminating the last center 
of World War II. Japanese historians point out that the Red Army’s switch to 
the offensive in the Far East was a shattering blow for Japanese government 
leaders and was considerably more instrumental in their decision to halt resistance 
than were the American atomic bombs. 10 

After destroying the Kwantung Army in a blitzkrieg campaign, the Soviet 
forces fulfilled their international duty to the peoples of the Far East, oppressed 
by Japanese imperialism, and cleared the way for them to gain their freedom 
and national independence. At the same time, the Soviet Union received free 
access to the Pacific by liberating South Sakhalin and occupying the Kurile 
Islands. 


261 





The campaign conducted by Soviet forces in the Far East contributed a great 
deal to the development of the Soviet art of war, primarily to the art of prepar¬ 
ing for and making the first crushing attack against an enemy at the start of a war. 

Surprise in making the first attack was a decisive factor in achieving rapid 
success in the campaign. The Soviet command was able to keep the plan for 
the offensive, the time of entry into the war, and the locations and force of the 
initial main attacks a secret. The method of going over to the offensive at night, 
without aviation or artillery preparation, which was unusual for World War II, 
intensified the effect of the surprise of the first attack. 

Front operations were distinguished by their great scope. Their actual depth 
coincided with the depth of the theater of operations. 

Front operations of such tremendous scope were made possible by a whole 
system of closely coordinated measures, primary among which were the force 
and surprise of the initial attack and the use of mobile formations in the first 
echelon. 

Although the offensive was conducted on a broad front, the main forces of 
fronts and armies operated in comparatively narrow zones. This made it possi¬ 
ble to achieve an overwhelming superiority of men and equipment on the axes 
of the main attacks. 

The offensive was characterized by high rates of advance. These were achieved 
through bold and determined operations by powerful forward detachments, which 
frequently broke away from the main forces in their push forward. The high 
rates of advance were also made possible because the tank forces were assigned 
a mission to the entire depth of the theater of operations at the start and strove 
to accomplish it at any cost. Powerful movement support detachments, which 
were included at all levels from the regiment up, played an important role in 
achieving high rates of advance. 

The success of the operation was determined to a great extent by the skillful 
combat employment of our aviation and by our aviation’s superiority over enemy 
aviation. 

From the first day of the offensive the air force gained air supremacy and 
retained it to the end of the war. A specific feature of the combat use of aviation 
in the campaign was that it had to be used for many transportation operations, 
it transported around 17,OCX) men and 6,000 tons of various types of cargo, in¬ 
cluding 2,777 tons of fuel and 550 tons of ammunition." 

The use of airborne assault forces deserves attention. Created during the of¬ 
fensive, the airborne assault forces seized important military objectives in the 


262 


enemy's deep rear, thus making an active contribution to the operation’s suc¬ 
cessful conclusion. 

The orderly work of the logistics units played an important role in the suc¬ 
cessful conduct of the campaign. Starting with the State Defense Committee, 
which mobilized the country 's material resources in good time to support the 
war against Japan, and ending with the commanders and logistics personnel in 
various units, all of the levels subordinated their work to the accomplishment 
of the main military and political mission: dealing a crushing defeat to the 
Kwantung Army as rapidly as possible. 

The activity of the Communist Party, the Soviet government, and the military 
command to prepare for and make a crushing attack against imperialist Japan’s 
armed forces took place during a time of great patriotic enthusiasm among the 
Soviet people and their Armed Forces. This was a result of the Soviet Union’s 
outstanding victory over fascist Germany. 

The tremendous experience accumulated by the Soviet Armed Forces in the 
war against fascist Germany was creatively applied in the new theater of opera¬ 
tions and was undoubtedly one of the important factors contributing to the suc¬ 
cess of the operation. 

The ideological, indoctrinational, and organizational work undertaken by 
military councils, commanders, and political organs created and continuously 
maintained a great driving energy among our fighting men that the Kwantung 
Army could not endure. 

The Soviet campaign in the Far East was one of the classic campaigns of World 
War II 

Notes 

1 Vneshnvuyopoluika Sovetskoyo Sovuza r period Otechestvennoy imwv. Dokumenty t mate rialy 
IForeign Policy of the Soviet Union During the Patriotic War Documents and Materialsl (Moscow: 
Gospoliti/dat. 1947). III. 363 

2 I Did . p 111 

3 Istonva voyny na Tikhom okeane (The History o! the War in the Pacific | (Moscow: lzdatefstvo 
inostrannoy literatury. 1958). II. 201 (Hereafter cited as War in the Pacific— U.S. Ed | 

4 See Patriotic War Short History, p 538 

5 See Final, istoriko-memuamyy ocherk o razgrorne imperialistic he ska \ Yaportii r 1945 y. (The 
Finale A Historical Memoir on the Defeat of Imperialist Japan in I945| (Moscow: lzdatefstvo 
“Nauka.‘ 1966). p 67. |Hereafter cited as The Finale—V S. Ed J 

6 See Operatsu So vet ski kh Voonizhennykh Sil v Velikov Otechestvennoy voyne 1941-/945 yy. 
(Operations of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Great Patriotic War 1941 -1945) (Moscow Voyen 
zidat. 1959). IV. 631 (Hereafter cited as Soviet Armed Forces Operations —U S Ed J 

7 Ibid., p 651. 

8 See Soviet Armed Forces Operations. IV. 692 


263 




<). See The Finale, pp. I l*J. 1*1 

10 See War in the Paiifit. IV. 2W 

11 See The Finale, p 2>M. 


264 




1 


Chapter 13. Specific Features of initial Opera¬ 
tions in the War in the Pacific 


The Japanese militarists unleashed the war in the Pacific against the U.S., 

England, and their allies at a time when the Soviet Union was waging a heroic 
struggle against Hitlerite Germany, the main striking force of the fascist bloc. 

Fascist Germany’s attack on the USSR was the signal for Japan to accelerate 

preparations for aggression against the USSR and to seize the rich colonial posses- , 

sions of the U S,. England, and Holland: the Philippines, Malaya, Indonesia, I 

Thailand, and Burma. i 

I 

The occupation of these territories was the main goal of the strategic offen¬ 
sive of the Japanese forces in the initial period of the war in the Pacific. As 
far as an attack on the USSR, Japan’s ruling circles, which had tested the Red 

Army's strength in battles near Lake Khasan and on the Khalkhin-Gol, while j 

not halting preparations for an attack, decided to wait until Hitlerite Germany ' 

could achieve "decisive successes" on the Soviet-German Front and then to ^ 

attack without risk. Through no fault of the Japanese militarists this military 
and political calculation was never carried out. . . . 

The war in the Pacific began with a surprise attack by the Japanese armed 
forces against the Pacific possessions of the U.S., England, and Holland. ! 

Cherishing the hope almost right up until the final day that Japanese aggression J 

would turn against the USSR, the political and military leaders of those nations < 

were taken by surprise and were a long way from completing preparations to ' 

repel the attack. ' j 

For Japan, the main content of the initial period of the war in the Pacific was 
a strategic offensive begun on the first day of military operations; while for 
the U.S., England, and Holland, it was a strategic defense conducted to stop 
the enemy's advance. 

With the start of the war the belligerents also carried out political and economic 
measures linked with the development of combat operations. Especially exten¬ 
sive measures were taken in the U.S.: industry was reorganized to meet war 
needs, general mobilization was hastily conducted, and decisive steps were taken 
to create an anti-Hitlerite coalition. 


265 


\ 




1. Characteristics of the Japanese Armed Forces' Strategic 
Offensive 

As was outlined in the war plan, the Japanese armed forces developed a 
strategic offensive simultaneously in two vast theaters of operations: in the 
Pacific* and in Southeast Asia. Combat operations broke out over enormous 
expanses from the Hawaiian Islands to India. 

Characteristic of the initial period of the war in the Pacific was that liter¬ 
ally from its first day, Japan, like fascist Germany in Europe, carried out 
major strategic operations with definite goals and used forces that had been 
deployed ahead of time in the theaters of operations. 

Japan's strategic offensive proceeded continuously for 5 months until the ini¬ 
tial goals had been completely achieved. 

The goals and content of the operations of the Japanese armed forces at this 
time can be divided into two main stages. 

In the first stage (8 December 1941 until mid-February 1942) the principal 
goal of the strategic offensive was to defeat the main enemy groupings in the 
theaters of operations and to capture strategically important positions for the 
further development of the offensive in the depth of enemy territory. During 
the first operations the Japanese armed forces dealt a major defeat to the American 
fleet at Pearl Harbor and to the English fleet off the coast of Malaya, destroyed 
the main allied aviation forces at airfields in the Philippines and on the Malacca 
Peninsula, and defeated and captured the main grouping of English ground forces 
in Singapore and of American forces on the island of Luzon. The Japanese cap¬ 
tured the Philippine Islands, the Malacca Peninsula, some islands in Indonesia, 
and the main naval bases in the western and southwestern parts of the Pacific. 
Japan opened up an almost unobstructed path for a rapid advance into Indonesia 
and the countries of Southeast Asia. It suffered very minor losses in achieving 
these major successes. 

The second stage (from mid-February until the start of May 1942) included 
the operations to seize the richest regions of the Dutch East Indies—the islands 
of Java and Sumatra—and to capture Burma and strategically important regions 
in the southwestern part of the Pacific: New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. 
The Japanese f ;Tes were approaching India and Australia. The operations of 
the second stage were a direct continuation of the first operations. Part of the 
single strategic offensive, they began without any substantial pause. 


*Tbe Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on the planet. Its area of 180 million sq km is greater than 
the total land area of the earth's surface. It extends 15,750 km east to west and 19,450 km north 
to south. The Pacific theater of operations included the seas ad|aeent to the ocean, the numerous 
archipelagos, and tin: continental coast of Asia, America, and the Australian continent Author's note. 


266 


The approach of Japanese forces to the borders of India and the shores of 
Australia secured the Japanese leadership’s complete attainment of its immediate 
military and political goals. The captured territories allowed Japan to create 
a single defensive zone to restrain its enormous empire, as was provided for 
by the war plan. This zone ran from the Himalayan Mountains to the shores 
of the Indian Ocean, and then along the Malacca Peninsula and the islands of 
Indonesia to New Guinea. Then the defensive zone stretched across the neutral 
part of the Pacific and, including the Marshalls, ran up to the Kurile Islands. 

In March 1942 the Japanese leadership made a decision to strengthen its posi¬ 
tions in the Pacific for conducting an extended war against the U S. There were 
plans to capture Port Moresby in the south (the island of New Guinea), the island 
of Midway (the Hawaiian Islands) in the central Pacific, and the Aleutian Islands 
in the north, thus moving the outer line of the defensive zone far to the east. 
A new period of the war in the Pacific began at the start of May and in June 
1942 with the Japanese attempt to capture these strategically important points. 
The Japanese armed forces, after their defeat at Midway Island, went over to 
the strategic defense on the lines captured previously. 

The main forces of the Japanese navy, most of the aircraft in naval aviation, 
and part of the ground forces took part in the strategic offensive in the Pacific 
and in Southeast Asia. The combat of the first strategic echelon was conducted 
by most of the ships of the so-called Combined Fleet, 700 aircraft of army avia¬ 
tion, 1,619 aircraft of land- and carrier-based aviation, 14 divisions and brigades, 
and 9 tank regiments; in all, approximately 230,000 men. 

Left in the homeland were the covering forces for the Japanese islands, which 
made up the strategic reserve. 4 infantry and 10 training divisions, 11 brigades, 
around 700 aircraft, 6 battleships, 2 cruisers, and 36 destroyers. On the border 
with the Soviet Union, as before, the Kwantung Army was ready to go over 
to the offensive. It numbered 15 divisions, 24 infantry brigades (around 1 million 
men), and 560 aircraft. In China there were 21 divisions and 20 infantry Brigades. 
They had 150 aircraft. 

The largest grouping of Japanese ground forces was thus aimed against the 
USSR, while the main aviation and naval forces were used for combat opera¬ 
tions against the U.S., England, and their allies By such a distribution of men 
and equipment the Japanese command achieved superiority over its enemies in 
the Pacific in the number of aircraft, particularly in naval aviation, as well as 
in the number of aircraft carriers. 

In numbers, the Japanese ground forces were inferior to the allied armies, 
but they were better armed, had combat experience, and were more 
combat-capable. 


267 


1 . 



T 


The creation of superiority over the enemy in air and naval forces was a con¬ 
sequence of the Japanese command's assignment to these services of the armed 
forces of a leading role in the strategic offensive in both theaters of operations. 

An important feature of the offensive of the Japanese armed forces was 
that it was carried out on separate strategic and operational axes divided 
by vast expanses of water. In addition, on each strategic axis, the Japanese 
command used large groupings of army and naval forces in close operational 
and tactical cooperation. 

On the Hawaiian axis, where the main forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were 
stationed, the main forces of the Japanese navy were active: a carrier task force 
(6 aircraft carriers with 360 aircraft) and a section of submarines (27 units). 
Pan of the 4th Fleet and pan of the ground forces (several battalions attached 
to the fleet) were used to seize the island bases on the approaches to Hawaii. 

An army and navy grouping based on the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, and Palau 
was advancing on the axis of the Philippine Islands, the U.S. outpost in the 
Far East. This grouping was supponed by major naval and army aviation forces. 
The defeat of the opposing enemy forces on this axis and the capture of the 
Philippines secured the further advance of Japanese forces in the direction of 
Indonesia from the east and provided for stable communications to develop the 
offensive in the southwestern Pacific. 

On the Malayan strategic axis the offensive was undertaken by an army (three 
divisions), forces of the 2nd Fleet, and the Malayan Task Force, all of which 
were based in Indochina and on the island of Hainan. This was an important 
axis of operations for the Japanese armed forces. The Malacca Peninsula oc¬ 
cupied the western flanking position of the entire region of operations and 
separated Indonesia from India. The defeat of the English forces and the seizure 
of Singapore, this key position at the outlet to the Indian Ocean, gave Japanese 
forces an opportunity to move toward Indonesia from the west and provided 
the navy an outlet to the Indian Ocean. 

Three infantry divisions and the navy’s main forces were assigned on the 
central axis to seize such important objectives of Japanese aggression as the 
islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and the pearl of the Dutch East Indies—the island 
of Java. The naval forces had been switched to performing this mission after 
carrying out the Hawaiian operation. The basing of the Japanese 11th Air Force 
on Formosa and near Saigon supported the operations of land-based naval avia¬ 
tion over virtually all the South China Sea. 

Great importance was attached to the southeastern axis, which included the 
island of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands. 


268 


The seizure of these regions broke U.S. communications with Australia and 
created the possibility of shifting military operations to the Australian conti¬ 
nent. Initially on this axis the forces of the 4th Fleet and of several infantry 
battalions were used; later, the forces of two armies concentrated in the Caroline 
Islands were also used. 

After the capture of the Malacca Peninsula the Japanese command took the 
forces of one army (two reinforced divisions) and began an offensive on the 
Burma axis supported by the operations of the main naval forces in the Indian 
Ocean. 

Characteristic of the unleashing of military operations in the Pacific was 
the surprise of the first air attacks—which were extremely powerful—against 
enemy naval bases and enemy aviation on the ground. Because of these at¬ 
tacks the main forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor were destroyed 
and put out of action, American aviation in the Philippines was annihilated, and 
great damage was caused to England’s air and naval forces in Malaya. The 
serious losses suffered by the allies from the attacks by Japanese aviation dur¬ 
ing the first days of the war led to a sharp change in the balance of forces at 
sea and in the air and had a substantial influence on the course and outcome 
of the initial operations. The Japanese armed forces were able to win air and 
sea supremacy, which in fact became the decisive condition in the success of 
the entiie strategic offensive and in the seizure of the enemy’s island and maritime 
territories. 

The fight to win and maintain sea supremacy made up the main content of 
operations by the Japanese navy during the initial operations. Naval aviation, 
and carrier-based aviation above all, played the main role in winning a predomi¬ 
nant position at sea. A powerful and highly maneuverable carrier strike force, 
which was first created by the Japanese command, was the main striking force 
of the Japanese navy. Carrier-based aviation destroyed the U.S. Pacific Fleet 
in Pearl Harbor, and somewhat later inflicted great losses on the English Eastern 
Reel in the Indian Ocean. From 8 December 1941 through 9 April 
1942—practically during the entire initial period of the war—this task force, 
operating continuously in the open ocean from the Hawaiian Islands to Ceylon, 
destroyed and put out of commission 8 battleships, an aircraft carrier, and more 
than 10 cruisers and destroyers without losing a single ship. 1 

Shore-based aviation also showed great effectiveness in battles against enemy 
naval forces. It destroyed the nucleus of the English Eastern Squadron in the 
South China Sea, as well as a number of ships of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and 
the Dutch navy in the basin of the South Seas. Thus, it was precisely aviation 
(particularly carrier-based) that, after securing air supremacy, was the decisive 
force in winning sea supremacy. 


269 




The first operations convincingly showed that without air supremacy there 
could be no sea supremacy. 

The strategic sea and air supremacy achieved by the Japanese from the start 
of the war provided for the development of the offensive without serious op¬ 
position from enemy naval and air power. 

An essential feature in the offensive of the Japanese armed forces was 
the simultaneous conduct of joint army and naval operations and inde¬ 
pendent naval operations on the main strategic and operational axes. 

During the first stage of the offensive three major operations were conducted 
simultaneously: the Hawaiian (naval), to destroy the main forces of the U.S. 
Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, and the joint Philippine and Malayan army and 
naval operations. At this time individual operations were carried out to capture 
naval bases in the South China Sea, on the islands of Indonesia, and in the cen¬ 
tral and southwestern parts of the Pacific. 

In the second stage of the offensive the Java operation was conducted to cap¬ 
ture the islands of Java and Sumatra with the simultaneous destruction of the 
allied fleet, which had been sealed off in the Java Sea. The Burma operation 
also took place at this time, and naval operations were started to destroy the 
English navy in the Indian Ocean and to disrupt sea communications in the Bay 
of Bengal. In this stage too individual operations were carried out to seize naval 
bases and territories on the islands of New Guinea, the Bismarcks, and the 
Solomons. These operations, on the southeastern axis, broadened the system 
of Japanese support bases on the approaches to Australia. 

The conduct of offensive operations simultaneously on all the strategic and 
operational axes atomized the enemy's efforts and did not allow it to transfer 
forces and to organize resistance on designated defensive lines. Holding the in¬ 
itiative completely, the Japanese armed forces rapidly moved forward on the 
axes of the main attacks. 

A characteristic feature of the Japanese strategic offensive was the absence 
of significant intervals between sequential operations and the conduct of 
combat operations at high rates until operational plans drawn up in ad¬ 
vance had been carried out completely. 

With its usual speed the Japanese command massed the necessary men and 
equipment in the captured regions, first moving air formations into these regions 
and later ground forces, which, with air and naval support, continued to develop 
the initial success rapidly and—most important—almost without a break. 

Because of the weakness of enemy resistance the Japanese command did not 
have to alter the direction of the main attacks, make unplanned regroupings of 


270 




men and equipment, or fundamentally revise its initial plans. Ail the goals of 
the initial operations were achieved by the Japanese as had been provided for 
in the operational plans; also, losses were minimal and goals were frequently 
achieved ahead of time. 

It can thus be said that the decisive conditions for the success of the Japanese 
strategic offensive were the early deployment of large groupings of forces on 
the main axes; the surprise of attack and the high effectiveness of the first at¬ 
tacks; the achievement of strategic sea and air supremacy; and the close coopera¬ 
tion of the army and navy in conducting operations. 

2. Methods of Conducting Offensive Operations 

The Japanese command, in organizing and conducting a strategic offensive, 
used various methods of combat operations, basing its decisions on the goals 
of the operations, the types of enemy defenses, the geographic location of the 
objectives and areas planned for capture, and so forth. In addition, there were 
joint offensive operations by the army and navy as well as independent naval 
operations. 

The main method of conducting joint offensive operations was based on the 
extensive use of amphibious assault forces (and sometimes airborne assault 
forces) to seize ports and beachheads on island and in maritime regions for the 
subsequent ground force offensive into the depth of enemy territory with active 
air and naval support. This method was used in the first as well as in subse¬ 
quent operations during the initial period of the war. In addition, the landing 
of amphibious assault forces was preceded by massed Japanese air attacks against 
enemy air bases and airfields to win air and sea supremacy in an operation. 
For example, the Philippine and Malayan operations began in this manner. On 
8 December 1941, simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese 
aviation bombed Singapore, Cavite, Hong Kong, and the airfields in the Philip¬ 
pine Islands and British Malaya. 

The Japanese command used various operational and combat support measures 
in carefully preparing for the landing of amphibious assault forces. These assault 
forces departed from their bases and made their sea crossings secretly. The assault 
forces that participated in the first operations left their bases and went by sea 
to the designated areas before the declaration of war. The assault detachments 
moved under air cover and were escorted by large surface vessels. Aircraft and 
large surface vessels covered the landing itself. 

First to land on the shore were detachments that usually consisted of marine 
units. The forward detachments quickly captured ports and established 
beachheads, after which the main forces and logistics units landed. 


271 





Aviation continuously attacked the enemy forces, suppressing their defenses 
against assaults and thwarting counterattacks by ground forces. Naval forces 
sealed off the coast, thus not allowing the enemy to bring in reinforcements 
by sea. One of the primary missions of the forces that had landed was to cap¬ 
ture nearby airfields, at which army and naval aviation were later rebased. After 
winning complete air supremacy, Japanese aviation switched totally to support¬ 
ing the ground forces. 

As a rule, amphibious assault forces landed simultaneously at several points 
along a broad front. This broke up the efforts of the defenders, concealed the 
axes of the main attacks, and provided for a simultaneous offensive on several 
axes. During the first 2 days of the Malayan operation the Japanese landed assault 
forces on a front about 500 km long from Bangkok to Kota Bharu in five main 
areas. In the Philippine operation, on the second and third day of the war, assault 
forces landed at three points on the north and south of the island of Luzon. The 
main ground forces were landed on the 10th day of the operation at two points— 
Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay on the northwestern and eastern coast of this 
island. 

The choice of the landing areas and of the directions of attack by the ground 
forces was determined by the type of enemy defenses and by the geographic 
features in the region of an operation. When the Malayan operation was being 
planned, consideration was given to the specific requirements of defending the 
Malacca Peninsula, and these defenses were in fact based on the defensive forces 
and fortifications of Singapore. The main grouping of ground forces was con¬ 
centrated near Singapore, and the naval forces were based there too; in addi¬ 
tion, the defensive works of the Singapore Fortress were designed to repel an 
enemy attack from the sea. The landing of Japanese forces on the Malacca Penin¬ 
sula was carried out, in essense, in the undefended rear of the English. The 
Japanese forces began the drive on Singapore not from the sea, but from the 
land on two axes: along the eastern coast and along the railroad on the western 
coast of the peninsula. Supported by powerful air attacks, the Japanese forces 
advanced rapidly through the jungle at a rate of up to 25 km per day. By the 
end of the first month of the war the Japanese had occupied the entire Malacca 
Peninsula. The English forces were sealed off on the island of Singapore and 
surrendered. The commander and about 100,000 men (according to English data, 
80,000) surrendered unconditionally to the victor. 

In the Philippine operation the objective of the main attack by the Japanese 
forces was the island of Luzon with the capital of the Philippines, the city of 
Manila. The main American and Philippine forces of MacArthur’s army group 
were concentrated on Luzon, as were several airfields and the main naval base 
in the Philippines at Cavite. 

The main forces of the Japanese 14th Army that landed on the island of Luzon 
in Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay made two attacks from these regions along 


converging axes on Manila. The American and Filipino forces were defeated 
in the first engagements and began to withdraw into the interior of the island. 

During the 25 days of the offensive, Japanese forces almost completely cap¬ 
tured the island, and on 2 January entered Manila. However, the Japanese com¬ 
mand had been unable to prevent the withdrawal of part of the enemy forces 
to the Bataan Peninsula and to the fortress of Corregidor. Here the retreating 
American and Filipino forces organized a strong defense and put up stubborn 
resistance to the Japanese. When reserves were brought up, the Japanese forces 
broke this resistance and captured the peninsula. The fortress of Corregidor soon 
fell too. 

The resistance on the Bataan Peninsula, although prolonged, did not prevent 
the Japanese command from capturing the islands of the archipelago and shift¬ 
ing the main efforts to accomplishing the next mission: the capture of islands 
in Indonesia. 

The operations of the Japanese ground forces were characterized by fluidity, 
by high rates of advance to a great depth, and by close cooperation with the 
navy and air force. Making wide use of the great ocean expanses for maneuver, 
and landing assault forces on the flanks and in the rear of the enemy, Japanese 
forces made attacks from different directions, split the enemy defenses, advanced 
rapidly into the interior of enemy territory, and encircled enemy land group¬ 
ings and forced them to the sea. The encircled forces were seated off from the 
sea, subjected to intense bombing from the air, and forced to surrender. The 
aviation in the hands of the Japanese command served as the main striking force 
and cleared the path for the ground forces using massed air attacks. 

One’s attention is caught by the fact that the offensive in the island regions 
was carried out using sequential landings of assault forces on several opera¬ 
tional axes. Initially the islands were captured that had airfields and naval bases, 
and Japanese air and naval forces were rebased there After suppressing enemy 
aviation and winning air and sea supremacy, the Japanese command landed am¬ 
phibious and airborne assault forces on other islands The assault forces ad¬ 
vanced from island to island on set axes, relying on active air and naval sup¬ 
port. This is precisely how the offensive developed, for example, on the islands 
in Indonesia. After the capture of the islands of Luzon and Mindanao, units 
of the 5th Air Army and two fleets of shore-based naval aviation were rebased 
there from the island of Taiwan. Aviation and naval operations supported the 
landing of assault forces on the islands of Borneo, Celebes, and Amboina By 
the end of January 1942 (that is, in less than 2 months) the Japanese armed forces 
had reached the approaches to the island of Java from the east, having captured 
a number of the islands in the Dutch East Indies with their petroleum resources. 
By this time they had completely captured the Malacca Peninsula, threatening 
an invasion of the islands of Sumatra and Java from the west. 


273 






The sudden and rapid assault operations on the broad expanses of the ar¬ 
chipelagos led to the isolation of separate enemy groupings on various islands 
and did not allow the enemy to create a stable defensive line. Air and sea 
supremacy ensured freedom of maneuver and a regular and rapid advance for 
the Japanese forces. 

Even during the first—Malayan and Philippine—operations, the Japanese com¬ 
mand was carefully preparing to conduct the subsequent Java and Burma opera¬ 
tions, which completed the strategic offensive in the initial period. 

By the start of February the Japanese armed forces had approached the islands 
of Sumatra and Java from three directions and had begun direct preparations 
for the landing of major amphibious assault forces. The strategy of the Java 
operation, which was very similar to the first operations in methods and f. i ms 
of conducting combat operations, provided for the weakening of enemy defenses 
by preliminary bombing, the destruction of enemy aviation, and the defeat of 
enemy naval forces. After winning total air and sea supremacy, the Japanese 
command intended to land airborne and amphibious assault forces on a broad 
front, concentrating the main efforts on seizing major cities and naval bases. 
The operation began with the seizure of the immediate approaches to the island 
of Java on the north, east, and west. After landing assault forces on the southern 
coast of the islands of Borneo and Celebes, and after seizing the airfield and 
port of Palembang (the island of Sumatra) and the islands of Bali and Timor, 
the Japanese armed forces surrounded Java. A massed attack by carrier-based 
aviation on Port Darwin, and its destruction, broke the sole link between the 
defending forces and Australia. Using the captured airfields on the approaches 
to Java, Japanese aviation won complete air supremacy and carried out systematic 
bombing of the island. After the Japanese assault forces had seized the airfields 
and naval bases on the approaches to Java, the allied fleet was sealed off in 
the Java Sea and, somewhat later, was almost completely destroyed. Like the 
approaches to Java, the island itself was captured with the aid of assault forces, 
only in larger formations. The landing of those forces was conducted almost 
simultaneously at two points: in the west, near Rembang, and in the central 
part of the northern coast of the island, near Batavia. From the captured 
beachheads the Japanese forces began a rapid advance into the interior of the 
island and, in several days, captured all its major cities. The landing of the assault 
forces and the operations of the ground forces were covered by major naval 
forces, including the carrier strike force maneuvering in the Indian Ocean to 
the south of Java. 

The preparations for the Burma operation began at the end of January, when 
combat operations in Malaya were reaching a successful conclusion. In this opera¬ 
tion too the Japanese command resorted to its favorite methods: at the start, 
airfields and ports were captured on the coast of the Andaman Sea (Merguy, 
Tavoy, and Moulmein) so that air and naval forces could be rebased there, and 
then operations began to capture the territory of Burma. 


274 





Characteristic of the offensive by the Japanese forces in Burma, as in Mala>a, 
was that it was carried out from both land and sea axes in cooperation with 
naval forces. The capital of Burma, Rangoon, was taken by the joint operations 
of amphibious assault and ground forces, which had begun an offensive from 
Thailand. The offensive was carried out along separate axes following rivers 
and scattered roads and supported from the aii. The English and Chinese forces, 
after being defeated, retreated toward the Indian and Chinese borders and 
organized defenses. The Burma operation was over. 

The joint offensive operations of the army and navy, such as the Philippine, 
Malayan, and Java operations, were carried out to seize large island and maritime 
territories. As for the capture of individual, comparatively small islands in the 
Pacific and its western part, this was achieved by naval operations alone by 
landing amphibious assault forces supported by naval firepower. In the event 
of an initial failure in a landing, as happened, for example, on Wake Island, 
the Japanese repeated it, using larger forces, and ultimately achieved success. 
After the seizure of one island the same forces were used to capture the next, 
and then the third, and so forth. Soon aviation and naval forces were rebased 
to the captured islands. Fighting in this manner, the Japanese command as¬ 
sumed control over the entire western Pacific. 

Along with joint offensive operations by the army and navy, the Japanese 
command conducted independent naval operations on a quite large scale. The 
main goal of these operations was the destruction of major enemy naval group¬ 
ings. This purpose, as well as the very character of the operations conducted 
solely by naval forces, to a great extent determined the methods of fighting. 
These methods were based on the use of carrier- and shore-based aviation and, 
it goes without saying, of large surface vessels and the submarine fleet. 

The Hawaiian operation occupied an important place in the series of naval 
operations. The defeat of the main forces of the American navy at Pearl Harbor 
during the first hours of the war had an enormous strategic and political in¬ 
fluence on changing the situation in Southeast Asia. 

The Hawaiian operation, the depth of which was over 6,000 km, was carefully 
prepared by the Japanese command long before the war. It was recognized that 
surprise in making a powerful attack on Pearl Harbor with carrier-based avia¬ 
tion would be the main condition for the success of the operation. As is well 
known, surprise in the attack was fully achieved. Surprise was ensured by a 
whole set of concealment measures. It is of interest to note that the route of 
the carrier strike force was along northern regions of the Pacific rarely traveled 
by merchant vessels. For 12 days along the entire route the carriers did not 
encounter a single vessel. This made it possible to conceal the deployment of 
the Japanese navy and its approach to the Hawaiian Islands. The concealment 
of deployment was also aided because the ships participating in the operation 
observed complete radio silence, while the naval forces in the Sea of Japan and 


275 




'T 


T 


the units of shore-based aviation near the island of Kyushu carried out false 
radio communications. The goal was to convince the enemy that the earner force 
was still in Japanese waters. 

The attack on Pearl Harbor was made at dawn by two waves of aircraft in 
I hour and 55 minutes. The 186 aircraft of the first wave (40 torpedo bombers, 
51 dive bombers, 49 high-altitude bombers, and 43 fighters) attacked the bat¬ 
tleships in the harbor and aircraft at the airfields. The ships in the harbor had 
not been brought to combat readiness, while the aircraft were in solid rows, 
wing to wing, at their airfields. The attack by the aircraft of the first wave lasted 
35 minutes. Three battleships were sunk, and scores of aircraft burst into flames 
at the airfields. The Japanese losses from the unorganized fire of American 
antiaircraft artillery were just 9 aircraft. 

During the air attack by the aircraft of the first wave, Japanese midget sub¬ 
marines tried to break through to the harbor, but energetic operations by 
American destroyers prevented this. 

At 0900 hours the 171 aircraft of the second wave (81 dive bombers, 54 
bombers, and 36 fighters) repeated the attack, which lasted 45 minutes. This 
attack did not come as a surprise to the Americans, and it encountered denser 
fire from ground and shipboard antiaircraft artillery. During the second attack 
the Japanese lost 20 aircraft. 2 The American military command had still not 
been able to discover the Japanese carriers. The American command searched 
for the enemy to the south, west, and east, but overlooked the northern area 
where the Japanese carrier strike force was; it returned to its bases without losses. 

Because of the attack by Japanese aviation on Pearl Harbor four battleships 
were sunk and four were damaged. The U.S. Pacific Fleet had suffered an ap¬ 
preciable loss in other fighting and auxiliary ships. The losses in personnel were 
2,403 men killed and 1,173 wounded.’ Thus, despite the great depth of the 
Hawaiian operation and the time needed for the Japanese carrier formation to 
advance to the starting area for the attack, the Japanese command was able to 
ensure the secrecy of its deployment and the surprise of the first massed air 
attack. The main forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were put out of action in a 
short time. Japan obtained the opportunity to conduct offensive operations in 
the western and southwestern part of the Pacific. 

The surprise attack by carrier-based aviation against the American navy at 
Pearl Harbor was an example of a massed use of new weapons against an un¬ 
suspecting enemy. Pearl Harbor securely established the aircraft carrier as the 
main naval force and moved the battleship to the background. A new phenomenon 
in the use of weaponry was Japan’s employment of the shallow-diving torpedo 
with a special stabilizer. This development was also unexpected by the 
Americans. 


276 






The Japanese navy achieved a major success in the operation, but the com¬ 
mand was undecided on continuing this success and attaining the final annihtla 
lion of the U S. Pacific Fleet and the destruction of its main base. 

During the first days of the war, when the Japanese command had only just 
begun the Malayan operation, the Japanese naval forces succeeded in inflicting 
major damage on the English navy, having destroyed the nucleus of its Eastern 
Squadron. A specific feature of the operations by the Japanese naval forces 
against this squadron was that the squadron suffered heavy losses from an at¬ 
tack by shore-based naval aviation at a time when the ships, moving at sea. 
were in full combat readiness. This happened as follows. To fight the Japanese 
assault forces, the English command had sent out of Singapore two of its bat¬ 
tleships, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse. These were detected by Japanese 
reconnaissance aircraft and submarines deployed along the coast of British 
Malaya. The Japanese command sent out a formation of two battleships, three 
cruisers, and several destroyers to intercept the English battleships. On the morn¬ 
ing of the following day 88 bombers and torpedo bombers from shore-based 
naval aviation were sent out from airfields in Indochina to attack the English 
squadron. The English ships, because of their great distance from English air¬ 
fields and because of the shortage of fighter aviation, did not have air cover. 
In 1 hour and 18 minutes both battleships were sunk by the powerful attack 
of Japanese aviation. This was the first time that enemy aviation alone caused 
the loss of major surface vessels operating at sea in full combat readiness. The 
loss showed that such vessels could not survive against massed air attacks without 
air cover. The destruction of the two battleships—the nucleus of the English 
Eastern Squadron—ensured the successful landing of Japanese forces on the 
Malacca Peninsula and their further advance along the seacoast. 

This catastrophe noticeably reduced the morale of the English forces de¬ 
fending Malaya. The English were deprived of the possibility of opposing the 
Japanese navy with sufficient forces at sea. This put the ground forces in a dif¬ 
ficult situation. In truth, the English command reinforced its fleet in the Indian 
Ocean. However, this did not have a substantial influence on the course of the 
Malayan operation 

In the second stage of the strategic offensive, when the Java operation was 
under way, Japanese naval forces won a stunning victory over the combined 
allied squadron in the Java Sea. Characteristic of the operations of the Japanese 
naval forces against this squadron was that surface vessels played the decisive 
role in achieving victory. 

The success of the operations by the Japanese navy in the Java Sea was large¬ 
ly explained by the navy's ability to seal off the squadron in this basin ahead 
of time. By the time of the decisive clash of the Japanese ships with the com¬ 
bined allied squadron, all the exits from the Java Sea into the Indian Ocean and 
the seas touching Australia were in the hands of the Japanese command. 


277 


.L 



T 


The Dutch admiral Doorman, to whom at this critical moment the allies gave 
the command of the combined squadron, made the decision to attack the Japanese 
assault detachments and thwart the landing on the island of Java. On 27-28 
February there was a naval battle between the allied squadron and the ships 
of the eastern operations group of the Japanese navy. The allies suffered heavy 
losses. Most of the enemy cruisers and destroyers were sunk or damaged by 
the guns and torpedoes of the Japanese ships. The surviving allied vessels tried 
to break out of the Java Sea, but virtually all were destroyed. Only four American 
destroyers, which reached Australian ports, were able to avoid destruction. 

A month after the capture of Java, during the Burma operation, the Japanese 
command undertook a major independent naval operation in the Indian Ocean. 
Its main goal was the defeat of the English Eastern Fleet, based at the island 
of Ceylon, and the thwarting of enemy sea shipments in the Bay of Bengal. 
This operation also achieved another goal by supporting the landing of am¬ 
phibious assault forces on the coast of Burma. Thus, a whole series of opera¬ 
tional missions was carried out in the naval operation in the Indian Ocean. A 
characteristic of the operation was that all branches of the navy participated in 
it. The main strike force in the defeat of the English Eastern Fleet was the carrier 
strike force that had participated in the first stage of the strategic offensive in 
'he attack on Pearl Harbor. The thwarting of sea shipments in the Bay of Bengal 
was carried out by a large detachment of Japanese vessels operating in the An¬ 
daman Sea. Japanese submarines also took part in the operation. 

The methods of conducting combat operations in this naval operation were 
based on the use of carrier-based aviation to make massed attacks against naval 
bases and the naval forces at sea. 

The first powerful attack, with 180 aircraft, was made against Colombo 
(Ceylon). Because of this attack, base and airfield installations were destroyed, 
and the transports and auxiliary vessels in the port were sunk. However, the 
Japanese command was unable to catch the fighting ships of the English navy 
at the base; they had been sent out to sea ahead of time and partially rebased 
at Addu in tlte Maidive Islands, which was unknown to the Japanese. Somewhat 
later, to the east of the Maidive Islands, Japanese carrier-based aviation detected 
two enemy heavy cruisers, which were destroyed in a repeated attack by 80 
aircraft. Four days after the attack on Colombo, the carrier formation attacked 
a second English naval base on Ceylon, at Trincomalee. Docks, shops, and air¬ 
fields were destroyed. To the east of Trincomalee. the carrier Hermes was 
detected with its destroyer escort. On the same day, another group of aircraft 
attacked these ships and destroyed them. 

After destroying the naval bases and sinking all the enemy ships that had been 
detected at sea, the carrier strike force returned to Japan. 


A 


278 




The Hnglish suffered considerable losses in the Indian Ocean because of the 
operation of the Japanese navy This forced the Hnglish commander Somerville 
to withdraw the remaining forces to bases on the east coast of Africa The eastern 
part of the Indian Ocean was abandoned to the total supremacy of the Japanese 
navy. A Japanese invasion of India seemed inevitable. 4 

A detachment of ships operating on the lines of communications in the Bay 
of Bengal, not encountering opposition, caused great damage to English ship- 
ing in this region. In April, in just 9 days, surface ships, aviation, and sub¬ 
marines destroyed transports displacing over 135.000 tons.' 

* * 

* 


The initial operations in the Pacific showed that the combat operations to win 
sea supremacy assumed enormous scale and constituted the main element in 
naval operational strategic activity. Naval and. above all. carrier-based avia¬ 
tion played the leading role in winning sea supremacy . The increased capabilities 
of aviation made it possible to make effective attacks against naval forces not 
only at sea but in port The destruction of naval bases and airfields greatly reduced 
the operational zone of an enemy fleet and made the use of its forces much more 
difficult. Attacks against bases and airfields became one of the main methods 
of conducting operations to destroy naval forces and win sea supremacy. 

The initial operations in the Pacific repudiated the view of the battleship as 
the backbone of the nav y and brought the aircraft carrier to prominence. The 
carriers repi.sented the class of ships that could move aircraft over great ex¬ 
panses and bring them close to targets of attack. Aircraft carriers could create 
air supremacy in areas thousands of miles distant from one's own shores. In 
the war at sea the Japanese appreciated the role of aviation and aircraft carriers 
sooner than their opponents, and they used these weapons effectively. 

Submarines were also used for lighting against large surface vessels. However, 
their attacks against fast and well-defended combat ships were not very effec¬ 
tive, and the submarines themselves suffered heavy losses. In the initial period 
of the war, despite having almost all submarines on station, only one submarine 
succeeded in putting an American naval vessel, the aircraft carrier Saratoga, 
out of action. 

In the initial operations the Japanese navy’s surface ships had as their main 
mission the support of landing operations. Almost all the clashes between sur¬ 
face forces of the opposing sides occurred in performing this mission. The sur¬ 
face ships' main method ot operations was to engage in artillery exchanges and 
torpedo attacks both day and night. 


279 


\ 




AD-A168 483 
UNCLASSIFIED 


WilR 4 "*" 4/4 

F/C 15/7 ML 





























The first operations showed the increased importance of organizing coopera¬ 
tion between different forces. 

The naval operations conducted during the initial period of the war included 
all branches of the navy: aviation, surface vessels, and submarines. The Japanese 
command strove so that each branch, in carrying out its specific functions with 
maximum efficiency, thus complemented the operations of the other branches, 
while all the branches, in fighting as an integrated unit, achieved great results 
through their joint efforts. 

The Japanese navy’s operations to disrupt the enemy’s sea lines of communica¬ 
tions were comparatively limited. In planning a blitzkrieg war, the Japanese 
command devoted its main attention to its assault operations and to destroying 
enemy naval forces. It was felt that a rapid victory would eliminate the need 
to fight an extended battle against enemy shipping. For operations on the lines 
of communications in the Pacific, the Japanese command episodically used small 
submarine forces. This made it possible for the Americans to carry out massive 
transfers from America to Australia and the Pacific islands. 

At the same time, in conducting joint offensive operations, the Japanese com¬ 
mand devoted a good deal of attention to thwarting the enemy’s operational 
transfers, isolating enemy ground groupings from the sea. Surface vessels and 
shore-based naval aviation were the main force in accomplishing this mission. 
For example, in the Java operation, the Japanese navy defeated a large convoy 
traveling from Australia with reinforcements for the allied forces on Java; and 
in the Bay of Bengal during the Burma operation the actions of a large detach¬ 
ment of surface ships that included a light carrier in essence completely broke 
English communications between India and Burma. 

The chief condition for the Japanese navy’s successful operations on the sea 
lines of communications was its sea supremacy. 

3. Allied Defensive Operations 

One of the main reasons for the collapse of the strategic defense of the U S. 
and its allies in the Far Eastern theaters of operations was the miscalculation 
of the English and American military and political leadership in assessing the 
direction of Japanese aggression and the possible times for its start. That Japan 
first attacked the U S. and England, not the USSR, as well as the time of the 
attack—all of this was unexpected by the western political and military leaders. 
A direct consequence of the miscalculations was the incompleteness of the 
planned defensive measures and of the preparation of the allied armed forces 
for war. as well as the considerable delay in their strategic deployment. While 
Japan was able to fully mobilize and build up its forces for the offensive, the 
U S. and England carried out only some of the measures planned to defend their 
Pacific possessions. 


280 



The defense of the Philippines held an important place in the operational- 
strategic plans of the U.S.; however, the organization of these defenses was 
not to be completed until February 1942. The transfer of American forces to 
the Philippines and the organization of 10 divisions of the Filipino army were 
not completed by the start of the war. The strength of MacArthur's army group 
was about 137,000 men, instead of the 200,000 called for in the plan, 6 and the 
troops were poorly trained for combat. The defensive works on most of the 
islands were under construction. Only on the island of Luzon had Bataan been 
fortified and the defensive works at the fortress of Corrcgidor at the entrance 
to Manila Bay strengthened. The transfer of B-17 bombers, on which the 
American command placed great hopes, and of lighter aviation was being carried 
out slowly. Air defenses on the islands were extremely weak, and there was 
an acute shortage of radar equipment. 

In England's operational-strategic plans great attention was devoted to 
defending the Malacca Peninsula, but these defenses were organized, as already 
noted, chiefly around Singapore. However, even here the defenses were weak 
precisely at the point where the attack of the advancing Japanese forces was 
made (from the north). The allied forces defending the peninsula had a quite 
mixed national composition and were far from uniform in the level of combat 
skills. Some 55 percent of the allied forces were local formations—Indian and 
Malayan units whose weapons were obsolete—and the level of combat training 
was low. The extremely important northern axis was covered by Malayan units. 
The detachments of English forces here, which were more combat-capable than 
the local formations, were few in number. The Dutch forces, whose combat 
capability was also comparatively high, performed only security functions as 
part of garrisons in the large cities. 

The allied air forces had old-model aircraft that were greatly inferior in quality 
to Japanese aviation. The system of airfields and naval bases had weak air 
defenses. 

In the fight against Japanese aggression the main hopes were placed on a strong 
navy. With some superiority in battleships, the allies, however, were well behind 
the enemy in the number of aircraft carriers. 

In 1941, after the completion of the summer exercises, to increase the naval 
power of the U.S. in the Far East, by a presidential decision, the Pacific Fleet 
was left at the forward naval base in the Hawaiian Islands, Pearl Harbor. The 
English command also strengthened its naval forces in the Far East. After long 
vacillation it sent to Singapore two major ships: the battleship Prime of Wales 
and the heavy cruiser Repulse. But they arrived just 5 days before the start of 
the war; by this time the English command had been unable to put into effect 
measures to support the operations of these ships and, in particular, to organize 
their air defense. 


281 





T 


T 


The absence of a unified command in the theater greatly impeded the pooling 
of efforts by the allies. Despite the provisions for coordinated operations by 
the armed forces, the allies did not have a unified command body. Only toward 
the end of November 1941 did the U S. war department propose to General 
MacArthur that preliminary talks be undertaken with representatives of the army 
and navy—and later with the English and the Dutch—on creating such a body. 

The U.S.. English, and Dutch armed forces were scattered over enormous 
expanses and were difficult to control. They were not combat-capable enough 
to conduct the strategic defense called for in the war plan. The allied military 
command underestimated the enemy’s ability to conduct a broad offensive 
simultaneously on all strategic and operational axes and did not look at the opera¬ 
tions in the west, which had begun with powerful air attacks. All of this foreor¬ 
dained the severe defeats that the U.S. and England suffered with the start of 
the war in the Pacific. 

The conduct of the strategic defense by the allied armed forces, and, in par¬ 
ticular, by the American army and navy, was sharply complicated because they 
entered the war with a low level of overall combat readiness and with poorly 
organized intelligence on all levels. As a consequence, the American command 
overlooked the deployment of the enemy armed forces in the theater of opera¬ 
tions and the enemy's occupation of the starting areas for the offensive. The 
American command was then unable to organize its forces to repel the first air 
attacks. 

The low combat readiness of the U.S. Pacific Fleet based at the Hawaiian 
Islands is seen from the concentration, at the time of the Japanese air attack, 
of virtually all its forces in the harbor. In addition, the ships—it would not be 
extraneous to note this again—were moored side by side at the same pier. Only 
two ships in the fleet had been brought to combat readiness and were on patrol 
duty on the approaches to Pearl Harbor. 

Nor was American aviation ready to repel the Japanese attack. At the time, 
its aircraft stood in solid rows on their airfields and served as a target for the 
Japanese air force. 

The air defense units on the Hawaiian Islands were not standing duty that 
would have met the requirements of constant combat readiness. Thus, there was 
no radar surveillance during the morning and afternoon hours. 

Although the American command on the Hawaiian Islands did have informa¬ 
tion on a possible enemy attack, air reconnaissance to the north of the island 
of Oahu, in the direction chosen by the enemy as the main one for the attack, 
was not provided. Even when unidentified submarines appeared in a protected 
zone, this did not put the American command on guard. The commander. 


282 






Admiral Kimmel. limited himself to merely sending a destroyer into this /one. 
and the combat readiness of the fleet was not raised. 

It is not surprising that the attack against Pearl Harbor by Japanese carrier- 
based aviation was completely unexpected by the American command. 

One of the consequences of the catastrophe that struck the 1 1 S Pacific Fleet 
was that it lost the capability to seriously oppose the Japanese advance against 
the Philippines and Indonesia. 

Because of the weather the attack by Japanese aviation on the Philippine Islands 
was carried out during the daytime, when the American command had already 
received word of the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, there was no organiza¬ 
tion to repel the attack on the Philippines either. The American aircraft were 
simply unable to take off; one-half of the modem heavy bombers and more than 
one-third of the fighters were destroyed on the ground. The 
remaining aircraft were moved south. 

At this time a large part of the U S. Asiatic Fleet was in the south and avoided 
destruction. The submarines and patrol craft were spread over the islands of 
the archipelago and did not suffer losses. However, the absence of air cover 
forced them to withdraw to the south as well. The command of the U.S. Asiatic 
Fleet, deprived of the support of its aviation, decided not to use the fleet to 
resist the landing of Japanese assault forces. Submarines employed for this pur¬ 
pose did not produce any results. 

Thus, American air and naval forces did not participate in defending the Philip¬ 
pine Islands and left the ground forces without cover and support 

After suffering losses from the Japanese air attacks, the American and Filipino 
forces began an unorganized retreat. Command and control was lost. Only on 
the Bataan Peninsula was the American command able to organize a stable 
defense, which lasted several months. However, the forces sealed off on the 
peninsula could not have any substantial influence on the development of the 
Japanese strategic offensive. By the end of December it had become clear that 
the American armed forces had no possibility of resisting the seizure of the Philip¬ 
pines and the advance of the Japanese to the Dutch East Indies. On 30 December 
Admiral King issued orders to the new commander of the Pacific Fleet. Ad¬ 
miral Nimitz, to focus efforts on holding the line of the Aleutian Islands, the 
islands of Midway, Samoa, and New Caledonia, and Port Moresby on the island 
of New Guinea. Troops were moved to these areas, bases were created, and 
army and navy forces were built up. 

The English command, in contrast to the American, was able to detect the 
deployment of Japanese assault forces departing from ports in Indochina After 


283 


organizing air reconnaissance ot the Japanese convoys at sea, the English com 
mand brought its armed forces in British Malaya to a state of combat readiness. 
Nevertheless, the English command was unable to organize a sufficiently strong 
resistance to the enemy at sea. in the air. and on the ground. On 8 December 
English aviation lost more than one-half of its aircraft in attacks by the Japanese 
air force. 

The destruction of the two battleships of the English Eastern Squadron, the 
Prince of Wales and the Repulse, meant that the navy, soon after the air force, 
also suffered a defeat during the first days of the war. The English were powerless 
to thwart the landing of enemy assault forces and were unable to provide sup¬ 
port for the defending ground forces. 

The English command tried to organize defenses in the central part of Malaya 
and to prevent the advance of the enemy into the south of the country. However, 
the poorly trained forces suffered one defeat after another and were pushed back 
to Singapore under the Japanese attacks. Sealed off by sea and by land on the 
island of Singapore, the demoralized English and Malayan units surrendered 
before exhausting their abilities to resist. 

As combat operations developed, the allies hurriedly created a joint command 
headed by General Wavell, whose staff was in Surabaja (the island of Java). 
However, the narrowly ‘'national'' approach to fighting, the differences in the 
organization of the armed forces and in the documentation system of each coun¬ 
try. and the rapidly changing situation caused enormous difficulties in coor¬ 
dinating military efforts. In fact, each national command continued to keep con¬ 
trol over its armed forces, striving to use them primarily in its own interests. 
This made it much more difficult to join forces to conduct a strategic defense. 

The loss of Singapore by the English and the advance of the Japanese to the 
approaches to Java created a critical situation. Under these conditions the leader 
ship of combat operations was turned over to the Dutch command, which made 
a last attempt to defend the island of Java. The combined allied squadron sent 
to attack the Japanese ships moving toward Java with assault units on board 
was defeated in a naval battle. On the island of Java the allied ground forces 
did not put up serious resistance to the offensive of the Japanese assault forces 
coming ashore. 

The allied armed forces in Malaya, the Philippines, and the Dutch East 
Indies were thus defeated in a short time. 

Attempts by English and Chinese forces to halt the advance of the enemy into 
Burma were also unsuccessful. After being defeated at Rangoon and Kalewa, 
the English forces abandoned Burma and hurried to set up a defense on India's 
borders. 


284 




I 


The Anglo-American command's attempt to use defensive operations to hold 
strategic positions in Malaya and to defend colonial possessions in Southeast 
Asia was unsuccessful. The English Fleet, fearing a total defeat, was moved 
to ports on the east coast of Africa, leaving India unprotected from the sea. 
The American command concentrated a large grouping of ground forces in 
Australia, built up its naval forces in the southwestern and central Pacific, and 
created a network of naval and air bases to block Japan’s further advance toward 
American and Australian shores. 

Thus ended the initial period of the war for the allies in the Pacific. 

* * 

* 

Operations during the initial period had a tremendous influence on the war 
in the Pacific and in Southeast Asia. Japan achieved major successes in these 
operations: it defeated the allied armed forces and captured huge territories with 
extremely rich natural resources and a population of more than 150 million. 

The initial period of the war in the Pacific convincingly showed that, at the 
start of the war. military operations in naval theaters of operations, just as in 
land theaters, had changed greatly. The war began immediately with the con¬ 
duct of major strategic operations in which all branches of the armed forces 
participated. The most important role was played by naval forces. The main 
forces of the adversaries were drawn into the operations. The Japanese managed 
to complete the strategic deployment of their armed forces in advance, to the 
point of occupying starting areas for the offensive. 

Strategic offensive operations by the Japanese armed forces constituted a 
system of joint army and naval operations and of independent naval and ground 
force operations linked by a common goal and by a unified plan. All of these 
operations pursued decisive goals—the defeat of opposing groups of enemy armed 
forces and the capture of major island and maritime territories 

Winning air and sea supremacy was one of the m„ n conditions for a suc¬ 
cessful strategic offensive by Japanese forces in the ocean theater. This was 
achieved by destroying enemy air and naval forces. 

The main content of the operational-strategic activity of the Japanese navy 
consisted in conducting independent naval operations to destroy enemy naval 
forces and to win sea supremacy. Carrier-based and land-based naval aviation 
was the main force in the struggle for sea supremacy. 

Contrary to the prewar views of many bourgeois military theorists who re¬ 
jected the possibility of using large naval assault forces in combat, assault opera¬ 
tions in the Pacific were the main method of conducting the offensive in the 
maritime and island regions of the theater of operations. 

285 




Because of serious flaws in its organization the allied strategic defense was 
not able to restrain the enemy's advance for any length of time. Surface ship 
operations, deprived of air support, proved to be of little effect. Operations by 
ground forces, organized for the same purpose, were also unsuccessful. As a 
rule, these forces were late in concentrating near the landing areas and were 
not in condition to offer serious resistance to the enemy. 

The defensive operations of allied forces, scattered over vast expanses, were 
conducted in centers of resistance and. as a rule, ended in hasty retreat. 

That a joint allied command for the coalition’s armed forces was not created 
in advance was a serious obstacle in the organization of defensive engagements. 

The American armed forces, together with their allies, required nearly 3 years 
of intense military operations to eliminate the consequences of the unsuccessful 
initial operations. The U S. government was forced to mobilize all of the coun¬ 
try’s massive military and economic potential to meet war needs. It became possi¬ 
ble to force Japan to surrender, however, only after the Soviet Union entered 
the war and defeated the Kwantung Army, the main force of the Japanese 
militarists. 

Notes 


I See Kampanii voyny na Tikhom okeane [Campaigns of Ihe War in the Pacific] (Moscow: 
Voyenizdat. 1936), p. 41. (Hereafter cited as Pacific Campaigns—V. S. Ed.] 

2. Ibid . pp 23-23 

3. See Butler and Gwyer, p. 231 

4. See Roskill. II. 33-36 

5. See C. Nimitz and E. Potter, Voyna na more (1939-1945) [The War at Sea (1939-1943)) 
(Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1965), p. 264. 

6. See Matloff and Snell, p. 94. 




\ 


Chapter 14. Winning Air Supremacy and 
Organizing National Air Defense at 
the Start of the War 


The problem of winning and maintaining air supremacy occupied a central 
position among the many problems of strategy and operational art throughout 
the last war. This was especially so during the initial period. The course and 
outcome of strategic operations in the land and naval theaters depended directly 
on how this problem was solved by the belligerents. 

Aviation's great maneuverability and its capacity to rapidly penetrate enemy 
airspace and effectively attack various targets on the battlefield and in the deep 
rear forced the belligerents to take measures to protect their armed forces, peo¬ 
ple. and industrial enterprises anil communications against air attacks. Such 
measures gradually led to the organization and development of complex national 
air defense systems, which became a factor of operational and strategic impor¬ 
tance. Problems of organizing and conducting air defense were especially acute 
at the start of the war. 


1. Air Force Combat Operations to Win Air Supremacy 

The various services and branches of the armed forces—the air, ground, naval, 
air defense, and airborne forces—took an active part in the combat operations 
to win air supremacy at the start of the war. However, in initially weakening 
enemy aviation groupings and in winning air supremacy the main role belonged 
to the air forces in conducting combat operations in the land theaters and to 
the naval forces—primarily to carrier-based aviation—in conducting combat 
operations in distant naval theaters. 

The aggressor nations of fascist Germany and imperialist Japan succeeded 
in successfully solving the problem of winning air supremacy in the first opera¬ 
tions. There was much in common in the methods used by both nations to do 
this. Thus, during fascist Germany's attack on Poland and then on France, and 
during imperialist Japan's attack on the U.S. and its allies, the main method 
used to defeat opposing aviation groupings was surprise massed air attacks against 
permanent enemy air bases. Facist Germany used this method in combination 
with a rapid advance by its ground forces, while militarist Japan combined it 
with operations by its naval forces. 


287 






Fascist German air force methods to win air supremacy in the initial cam¬ 
paigns in Europe. Surprise massed air attacks against enemy air force bases 
and the rapid advance of tank and mechanized formations into enemy airfield 
regions were first used by the Hitlerite leadership to win air supremacy in the 
Polish campaign. With the start of the war the German 1st and 4th air forces 
subjected the airfields of the Polish air force to massed attacks. These attacks 
were repeated, so that during the first 2 days of the war the main Polish air 
forces were crushed. At the same time, fuel and ammunition dumps, command 
posts, communications centers, and certain aircraft plants in Poland came under 
attack by the fascist German air force. 

The rebasing of Polish aviation started very late and was carried out under 
continuous enemy actions. Besides, the process of rebasing was drawn out and, 
in essence, took place continuously during the entire campaign. This was linked 
with the rapid advance of the fascist German forces into the interior of Polish 
territory and the regions where Polish aviation was based. Polish aviation units 
were forced almost constantly to move to other airfields. The situation of the 
Polish air force deteriorated with each passing day. It became critical when, 
during rebasing, the Polish command lost control of its aviation. This cir¬ 
cumstance led to a decline in the activity of the Polish air force, although the 
nation still had a considerable number of combat aircraft. 

Individual units of the Polish air force, particularly of fighter aviation, 
repeatedly made retaliatory attacks against the enemy on land and in the air. 
But these operations were scattered and, with the inequality of forces that ex¬ 
isted in the air, ended, as a rule, with major new losses for the Polish air force. 

The fascist German air force won air supremacy in 2 days and held it until 
the end of the entire campaign against Poland. Rapid offensive operations by 
fascist German mobile formations and their capture of airfields, aircraft, sup¬ 
plies, and aircraft plants steadily reduced the base for replenishing the Polish 
air losses and minimized opportunities for manuevering even limited forces. 
In several days the Polish command was virtually deprived of its aviation, and 
the final stage of the war was carried out with complete air supremacy in the 
hands of the fascist German air force. 

The same method of winning air supremacy—surprise massed air attacks 
against airfields in combination with rapid offensive operations by the ground 
forces—was used by the Hitlerite command at the start of the war against France, 
Belgium, and the Netherlands. 

To neutralize the French air force the Nazi military leadership employed over 
3,000 combat aircraft. On 10 May 1940, the first day of the war, these aircraft 
simultaneously attacked 72 airfields in Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern 
France. Several hundred aircraft were destroyed at once. 1 After this, some of 
the airfields in the Netherlands and Belgium were captured by airborne forces. 


288 


The success of this operation owed much to careful reconnaissance of the French 
airfield network and air defense system during the 8 months of the “phony war.” 

On II May, the second day of military operations, because of new attacks 
against the French airfields, another 400 aircraft were destroyed, and on 12 
May, about 200 more. 2 On the following days, because of the rebasing of a 
number of French air force units into the country’s interior, the effectiveness 
of fascist German air attacks against the airfields declined sharply. At the same 
time, the fascist German air force made several attacks against enemy aircraft 
plants and seriously disorganized production. On 3 June fascist air forces, hav¬ 
ing detected the new deployment areas of the French air grouping, resumed 
attacks on the airfields. On that day French losses on the ground were over 500 
aircraft, on 4 June they were 200 to 250, and on 5 June, over 140 aircraft. 3 

In France, as in Poland, control was lost over aviation units during their 
transfer. Meanwhile, the fascist German ground forces advanced rapidly, 
capturing aviation basing areas and any remaining aircraft. All of this led to 
a situation where French aviation quickly lost its combat capability and was 
essentially put out of action as a real force. The hope of help from the English 
air force was an illusion, since England, France's ally, feared attacks by fascist 
German aviation and kept all its available air forces on the British Isles and 
used them in its own interests. This was one of the reasons that the fascist Ger¬ 
man air force had total air supremacy and maintained it right up to the moment 
of France’s surrender. 

Thus, the German-Polish war and the invasion of Hitlerite forces into France 
showed that in both campaigns the main method of winning air supremacy was 
with massed air attacks by the aggressor’s air force against permanent airfields. 
These attacks were supplemented by offensive operations by the ground forces 
and by airdrops of assault forces. Aerial combat to neutralize enemy air power 
during these campaigns was of secondary importance. 

The combat operations of the belligerents’ air forces in winning air 
supremacy at the start of the Great Patriotic War. During Germany’s attack 
on the Soviet Union the employment of the fascist German air force differed 
little from its use in the campaigns against Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, 
and France. Here, as well, the initial action by the fascist German air force 
was surprise massed attacks against our airfields to deal a decisive defeat to 
Soviet aviation while it was still on the ground and to keep it from taking part 
in combat operations. However, on the Soviet-German Front, fascist German 
aviation did not fully achieve this goal. 

On the first day of the war against the USSR the fascist German air force 
attacked most of the airfields in the border area. Around 65 percent of the air¬ 
fields of the four border districts were subject to simultaneous air attack by fascist 




German aviation. Around 1,200 Soviet aircraft were destroyed on the ground 
and in the air. 4 

Enemy aviation caused serious losses to the air forces of the Western Military 
District. This was due to the clustered positioning of the district’s air units and 
formations and their low combat readiness. In the other border military districts, 
where the command had dispersed the air units over temporary airfields before 
the enemy attack, aircraft losses on the ground were much fewer. For example, 
the total air force losses of the Baltic Special Military District did not exceed 
9 percent of the initial strength; for the Kiev Special Military District the figure 
was 14 percent.’ 

The fewest losses of all, around 3 percent, were in the Odessa Military 
District. 6 The aviation there was brought to full combat readiness ahead of time 
and was dispersed over temporary airfields. Most of the enemy air attacks were 
successfully repelled or were carried out against airfields where our aircraft 
were no longer located. For a long time enemy reconnaissance was unable to 
establish the new deployment regions for the air force in the Odessa Military 
District. 

The second day of the war brought a sharp decline in our aviation losses from 
enemy air attacks. This was because of a number of immediate defensive 
measures taken by the command of the districts (or fronts). The main measures 
included the dispersal of aviation over temporary airfields; an increase in the 
combat readiness of units and formations; an improvement in observation, warn¬ 
ing, and communications; and a strengthening of the air defenses for new air 
force deployment areas. On 23 June the losses of the air units of the same Western 
Front were 1/12 of the losses on the first day of the war. 7 

Despite considerable losses, Soviet aviation during the most difficult first 2 
or 3 weeks of the war kept the capacity for active combat operations. This was 
eloquently shown by the losses of fascist German aviation. From 22 June through 
19 July they amounted to 1,284 aircraft.' 

During the first days of the war an essential difference was disclosed in the 
methods of employing German and Soviet aviation in combat. While the fascist 
German air force concentrated its main attention on neutralizing our aviation 
predominantly on the ground, the Soviet Air Force focused its efforts chiefly 
on destroying enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Of the 1,200 aircraft lost by the 
air force of our active fronts on 22 June, 800 were destroyed at their airfields.’ 
During this same period, of the 822 aircraft lost by the Hitlerite air force on 
the Soviet-German Front, 613 were shot down in aerial combat. 10 The extremely 
difficult situation that developed at the start of the war on the major axes forced 
the Soviet command to use its main aviation forces to support the ground forces. 
Aviation forces conducted reconnaissance, obtaining valuable information for 
the troops; provided air cover for assault groupings; repelled enemy air attacks 

290 


\ 



against friendly forces and objectives in the rear; took an active part in support¬ 
ing counterattacks by our forces; and bombed advancing enemy units and for¬ 
mations, particularly enemy motorized and tank columns. And our air force 
did all of this while overcoming extremely fierce resistance by enemy aviation. 
In the ground forces’ operations area—over the battlefield and in the immediate 
operational depth—fierce aerial combat took place almost continuously. There 
were few forces left to neutralize Hitlerite aviation at its airfields. 

However, this does not mean that the Soviet Air Force did not make attacks 
against fascist German air bases. On 25 June the air units of the Northern Fronts 
and of the Red Banner Baltic and Northern fleets undertook an attack against 
enemy airfields in the south of Finland and on the Karelian Isthmus. It was a 
surprise for the enemy. About 30 enemy aircraft were destroyed at the airfields. 11 

Attacks by the Soviet Air Force against enemy airfields were organized by 
the command on a number of fronts. On 3 July, by a directive of the chief of 
the General Staff, the commanders of the Northwestern, Western, and 
Southwestern fronts and the commander of the Red Army Air Force were given 
the mission of making a surprise massed attack against enemy aviation 
simultaneously at 31 airfields. However, the weather at the time did not pro¬ 
vide an opportunity to fully carry out this plan. The attack was made only against 
certain airfields in the enemy rear area in front of the zone of operations of 
the Western Front. 

But on 8 July, 28 enemy airfields underwent air attacks. Counting the opera¬ 
tions by long-range bomber aviation, 42 airfields came under attack by our air 
force; 40 to 50 aircraft were destroyed or damaged at these airfields. ,J 

The Soviet Air Force, gradually becoming more active, more and more fre¬ 
quently attacked the enemy in the air and on the ground. 

The Soviet command’s immediate decisive measures to protect aviation against 
enemy attacks at its bases, as well as our air force’s increased activity, led to 
a situation where from about 20 July aerial combat became the main method 
for seizing and maintaining air supremacy. The rise in the intensity of aerial 
encounters demonstrated that the fascist German air force, despite the advan¬ 
tage of surprise attack, had not been able to fully carry out its chief mission; 
to win air supremacy and to maintain it just as firmly as it had been able to 
in the first military campaigns. 

Japanese air force methods to win air supremacy in the initial period of 

the war in the Pacific. Like fascist Germany, Japan began to carry out its 
strategic plans in the Pacific by seizing air supremacy. And like the Hitlerite 
leadership, the Japanese command selected surprise massed attacks against per¬ 
manent airfields as the main method to defeat enemy air power. A specific feature 
of the Japanese method of winning air supremacy was that these attacks were 


291 


made by naval forces, or to put it more accurately, by the carrier fleet. In the 
operational plan for conducting the war the missions of the Japanese air forces 
were formulated in the following manner: "Working in close cooperation, the 
air forces of the army and navy are to make air attacks against the American, 
English, and Dutch air bases in the combat operations area of the ground and 
air forces.... The air forces are to begin combat operations at dawn with a 
surprise attack on the main allied air bases." 13 

As was outlined in the operations plan, during the first days of the war Japanese 
aviation made a series of surprise massed attacks against enemy airfields on 
all decisive axes. As a result, the American air force lost about 200 aircraft 
in the Hawaiian Islands' 4 and one-haif of its heavy bombers and more than one- 
third of its fighters in the Philippines. 15 

The English air force suffered an equally serious loss from the first Japanese 
air attacks. On 8 December Japanese aviation destroyed 60 of the 110 English 
combat aircraft at airfields in the northern part of Malaya. 14 

The surprise massed attacks against airfields during the first days of the war 
made it possible for Japanese aviation to seize air supremacy in the Pacific. 
This was one of the most important conditions for the successful development 
of operations by the Japanese armed forces. 

Thus, a general conclusion can be drawn that the aggressor nations were able 
to seize air supremacy in a short time. A primary factor in determining: the 
successful completion of this important mission was the reliable informa¬ 
tion on the basing of enemy air forces and on the location of the aircraft 
at the airfields. This information was available to both the fascist German and 
Japanese command because of carefully organized preliminary reconnaissance 
conducted by aircraft, intelligence agents, and so forth. At the same time, it 
could be noted that the nations threatened with aggression did not take suffi¬ 
ciently effective measures to actively oppose an aggressor's intelligence 
measures. Even after the defeat of Poland, for example, in France the systematic 
reconnaissance flights by fascist Germa.i aviation over French territory were 
clearly underestimated, and the operations of intelligence agents were not stopped 
decisively. 

The aggressor nations were able to learn in great detail about the airfield net¬ 
work and effective combat strength of Polish, French, and American aviation 
and to determine the airfield air defense system, the flight schedules of units 
and formations, as well as the position, number, and condition of aircraft. 

Reliable intelligence data combined with extensive deception of the enemies 
made it possible for both the German and the Japanese air forces to make the 
first attacks against the enemy airfields without additional reconnaissance. This 
was one of the most important conditions tor achieving a surprise attack. 


292 


The second most important factor that secured air supremacy for fascist 
Germany and imperialist Japan was the aggressors' massed use of major forces 
in the first attacks to defeat the most important enemy air groupings discovered 
by reconnaissance. 

In the attack on Poland, in the first attack against enemy airfields the Hitlerite 
command used 700 of the 2,000 aircraft assigned for supporting the invasion 
of this country. With the start of the war against France, around 1,700 aircraft, 
out of a total of 3,000, took part in attacks against enemy airfields. 17 For the 
attack on the Soviet Union, fascist Germany employed around 5,000 combat 
aircraft, of which more than half were assigned for winning air supremacy." 
Of the 10 aircraft carriers that Japan had, 6 were used during the attack against 
Pearl Harbor." 

It is important to note that the enemy, possessing reliable data on the basing 
of the opposing air forces, made the first massed attacks against airfields where 
the newest aircraft were. In doing so, the enemy achieved not only quantitative 
but also qualitative superiority over the aviation of the defending side. 

The third factor that allowed the aggressor to rapidly seize air supremacy was 
the successful choice of the time for an air attack, and precisely the choice of 
the moment when the combat readiness of enemy air units and formations was 
usually low. The aggressor most often invaded enemy airspace at dawn, when 
personnel were at rest in garrisons that were, as a rule, far from the airfields. 
Even when the garrisons were promptly notified of the danger of an enemy air 
attack, a certain amount of time was required to sound the alert and to assemble 
personnel and get them to their aircraft. Taking this into consideration, the at¬ 
tackers struck airfields, troop positions, staffs, and communications centers at 
the same time. 

The fourth factor giving the aggressor great superiority in conducting com¬ 
bat operations to win air supremacy was the high rate of advance of tank and 
motorized formations. Making use of the results of air force operations, these 
formations quickly broke through into the enemy's operational depth and, as 
they moved ahead, captured or threatened to capture many airfields. The avia¬ 
tion was forced to rebase to new areas, without conducting active combat opera¬ 
tions. During this period, as already noted, control over air units was lost. Thus, 
the rapid advance by mobile formations helped to win and, more important, 
to maintain air supremacy. 

These four factors created an exceptionally favorable situation for the attacker 
who had the opportunity to commit its main forces to battle immediately and 
to achieve major strategic results at the start of the war. By winning air supremacy 
aviation contributed substantially to the operations of ground and naval forces, 
and they, in turn, provided decisive help in maintaining this supremacy for a 
more or less extended time. 


293 



2. National Air Defense 


Air Defense Capabilities in Repelling Mass Air Attacks 

The development and continuous improvement in air defenses took place 
because of scientific and technical progress in military affairs. This happened 
in such a way that there was continuous competition between the means of at¬ 
tack (aircraft) and the means of defense against them (air defense equipment), 
and the means of attack remained superior. The superiority of the means of at¬ 
tack was explained because improvements in air defenses began, as a rule, after 
major advances in the development of aircraft construction, so that it was ex¬ 
tremely difficult to achieve a balance between the means of attack and the means 
of defense. The lack of balance also determined in advance the inequality in 
the various nations' abilities to use their air forces and air defense weapons in 
combat at the start of the war. This was seen in the usual lack of conformity, 
by the start of the war, of the rate and scope of air defense measures to the 
level of air force development. 

In truth, as soon as combat operations started, all the belligerents hurriedly 
took measures to strengthen their air defenses. They increased the production 
of antiaircraft weapons, fighter aircraft, and air observation, warning, and com¬ 
munications equipment, and they improved the organizational structure of their 
air defense systems. But the fact remains that by the start of the war they had 
insufficient air defense forces and equipment to safely cover their territories 
and troop groupings. 

In addition, air defense capabilities were limited by the primitive state and 
poor equipment of the air observation, warning, and communications forces. 
Dependent on visual spotting posts and wire communications, these forces were 
unable to rapidly raise the alarm at the appearance of airborne targets. This 
led to a delay in readying air defenses to repel massed enemy air attacks. 

Consideration also had to be taken that ground air defense forces and weapons 
(antiaircraft guns, searchlights, and so forth), in being tied to the defense of 
certain objectives and in having low mobility, were able to engage enemy avia¬ 
tion only when nearby or directly overhead. Fighter aircraft alone were highly 
maneuverable and could intercept enemy bombers at the distant approaches to 
a defended objective. But fighter aircraft were able to do this only when enemy 
aircraft were detected relatively soon before their appearance over an objec¬ 
tive, and this was beyond the capacity of the air observation, warning, and com¬ 
munications forces. Putting to use the maneuverability of fighter aircraft thus 
came up against the primitive state of the air observation, warning, and com¬ 
munications forces. In truth, even before the war, some countries’ air defense 
systems began to receive radar equipment that greatly improved the equipment 
of these forces. But, at the start of the war, there was still too little of this equip¬ 
ment. and it could not yet fundamentally transform the air observation, warn¬ 
ing, and communications forces 


294 


Fighter aviation was able to detect enemy aircraft ahead of time in another 
way: by patrolling probable flight routes of enemy aircraft. However, this re¬ 
quired an excessive number of aircraft sorties and, in addition, did not depend¬ 
ably guarantee detection of enemy aircraft at the needed time. 

Consequently, at the start of the war the air defenses of the belligerents were 
inferior in their capabilities to the means of attack. Air defense forces were able 
to defend only the most important objectives, and even then could not provide 
complete defense. They could inflict some losses on enemy aircraft, but they 
were unable to offer reliable cover to troop groupings and to repel massed enemy 
attacks made against a number of cities, railroad junctions, and naval bases at 
the same time. 

Air defense in Poland and France. The most important mission of the Polish 
and French air defense systems at the start of the war was to repel attacks by 
fascist German aviation and to protect and preserve objectives that came under 
attack. However, experience showed that such a mission was beyond the air 
defenses of these nations. The Hitlerite air force's invasion into the airspace 
of its enemies did not encounter organized resistance from air defense resources. 
The Hitlerites succeeded in reaching the designated targets almost unchallenged 
and in neutralizing them without serious losses of their own. The very weak 
resistance of the Polish and French air defenses against the enemy aircraft was 
explained because at the start of military operations the main means of resistance, 
fighter aviation, was virtually put out of action after the first massed air attacks 
against the airfields. 

By the start of the war Poland had about 400 fighter aircraft for air defense, 20 
while France had 350 to 400. 21 On the first day of the attack by the Hitlerite 
air force, Polish aviation lost a large part of its fighter aircraft. 

From 10 May through 4 June 1940 Anglo-French aviation losses from enemy 
air attacks against the airfields were 1,600 to 1,700 aircraft. 22 This included 
the destruction of most of the fighter aircraft. To repel the massed attacks by 
the fascist German air force the allied command could have used up to 150 
English fighter aircraft stationed in France. 25 But the English command shifted 
these forces to cover the evacuation of its expeditionary corps. 

Poland and France were also unable more or less effectively to repel the massed 
attacks by Hitlerite aviation because in the air defenses of these countries the 
quantity of antiaircraft artillery did not correspond to the scale and type of the 
attacks. 

In the estimate of the fascist German command, on the eve of the war the 
Polish air defense system had 200 heavy and 200 light antiaircraft guns of various 
calibers. 24 In actuality, by the start of the war Poland had 4 antiaircraft regiments 
covering Warsaw, Krakow, Wilno, and Grodno, a motorized battalion, and 2 


295 





to 3 independent batteries. In total, the Polish air defense system numbered 40 
to 50 batteries of antiaircraft guns, 2 barrage balloon battalions, and 2 search¬ 
light companies. 25 

Although France in 1939 had completely modem 75mm and 90mm antiaircraft 
guns with good fire control instruments, it had just seven antiaircraft regiments. 26 
The situation was complicated because this sparse antiaircraft artillery was scat¬ 
tered organizationally. Part was under the command of the field armies, and 
part was under the command of the national air defenses. The organic antiaircraft 
artillery had been combined in three brigades. The antiaircraft artillery of the 
national air defenses was divided into internal and coastal, but in fact there was 
no internal artillery. It began formation only with the announcement of mobiliza¬ 
tion, and was put under control of the minister of aviation. The coastal anti¬ 
aircraft artillery was under the naval minister. 

Quite naturally, with such a number and with such a scattering of the antiair¬ 
craft artillery, the capabilities of the French air defenses to protect even the 
most important objectives were very limited. 

On the whole, the Polish and French air defenses were unprepared to repel 
the first, strongest attacks by Hitlerite aviation and to protect the objectives 
subjected to air attack. 

The fascist German air force, after winning air supremacy, made its attacks 
against intended objectives almost with impunity. In encountering very weak 
resistance, Hitlerite aviation thwarted operational transfers of the Polish army; 
after virtually paralyzing railroad operations, Hitlerite aviation relentlessly 
pursued the retreating Polish army and disorganized its rear. Even on the first 
day of the war, it bombed the capital of Poland. Warsaw, four times. 

When the main antiaircraft forces of the French air defenses had been destroyed 
or neutralized in the border zone- where these defenses existed to a depth of 
just 15 to 20 km—there were not enough guns remaining to dependably defend 
even Paris. 

As for the air defenses of the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific, these, like 
the air defenses of Poland and France, were too weak to resist the massed at¬ 
tacks by Japanese carrier- and shore-based aviation. In the Pacific, in essence, 
there was a repeat of the same events that comparatively recently had been played 
out in Europe. After suddenly unleashing military operations. Japanese avia¬ 
tion caused great damage to the allied fighter aviation on the ground. Allied 
aviation was virtually put out of action. Allied air defense units were unprepared 
to repel massed enemy air attacks. In addition, they were poorly equipped with 
weapons and other materiel. This helped Japanese aviation to seize air supremacy 
and to maintain it for a long time, making it possible for Japanese ground and 
naval forces to achieve major results in combat operations. 


2% 






Specific features of the operations of the Soviet Union’s air defense forces. 
With the start of the war the air defense forces’ primary mission was to deploy 
their units as rapidly as possible and to get them ready to repel massed attacks 
by fascist German aviation. These two immediate missions were accomplished 
successfully, even though conditions were difficult with the sudden start of the 
war. By the morning of 22 June the antiaircraft air-defense units stationed in 
a zone at a depth of 200 to 250 km from the stale border had been deployed 
according to peacetime levels and had taken up positions around objectives to 
be defended. Antiaircraft units further in the rear were deployed and brought 
to combat readiness somewhat later. 

The duty air defense batteries in Moscow were combat ready by midday on 
22 June. By the evening of the same day, another 102 batteries of the existing 
137 took up their firing positions. 21 The entire Moscow air defense system was 
ready to repel enemy air attacks by the morning of 23 June, 24 hours after the 
start of the war. 

However, during the first hours of the war only units kept at peacetime levels 
were deployed and brought to combat readiness. Deploying the air defense system 
in accord with the mobilization plan and bringing it to a state of full combat 
readiness required more time. Air defense units for installations in a 500- to 
600-km zone along the western border, as well as the air defenses of Moscow, 
Baku, and other major centers in the country, were deployed and ready to repel 
enemy aircraft by the end of the second day of the war. 

The surprise attack by fascist German aviation on cities and objectives along 
the border put the air defense forces in a difficult situation. During the first 
days the enemy was able to inflict considerable losses on our figh:er aviation. 
Because of this, in a number of instances antiaircraft artillery had to repel enemy 
air attacks without support from our fighters. 

The struggle waged by antiaircraft artillery against enemy aviation was com¬ 
plicated because many artillery units in the border area were forced to fight 
enemy ground forces and were thus diverted from carrying out their immediate 
missions for a certain time. 

Because of a shortage of fighters and the primitive state of the air observa 
tion, warning, and communications forces, the situation frequently developed 
when antiaircraft artillery, which was also few in number, was practically the 
sole reliable means to counter enemy aviation. 

During the first days of the war fascist German bombers frequently broke 
through to important installations in the rear and caused considerable damage 
to them. For example, on the southern strategic axis, particularly around Kovel 
and Chemovitsy, the enemy intensively bombed all our airfields and a number 
of cities and railroad junctions such as Lvov, Kiev, Odessa, Shepetovka. Stry, 


297 




Sambor, Peremyshl, Zhitomir, Korosten, Kazatin, Brody, Novograd-Volynskiy, 
and others 

However, despite the overall extremely bad situation that developed during 
the first days of the war, the air defense forces, particularly the antiaircraft ar¬ 
tillery, met enemy aircraft with fierce resistance that had not been encountered 
before. On 22 June 1941 fascist German aircraft tried to attack the railroad junc¬ 
tion at Kovel, which was covered by the 374th Antiaircraft Battalion. In ap¬ 
proaching the target, enemy aircraft met precision firing from the batteries of 
this battalion. After losing 4 bombers, the enemy was forced to break off the 
mission. During the first 5 days of the war the battalion successfully repelled 
10 group attacks and destroyed 12 German aircraft. 28 

The antiaircraft air defense artillery units that defended the cities of Stry, 
Stanislav, Ternopol, and Peremyshl shot down 30 fascist aircraft during just 
the first 3 days of the war. 29 

In the first days of the war fascist aviation made repeated attempts to destroy 
the major bridges across the Dnestr, Bug, and Dnepr rivers to prevent a 
systematic withdrawal by our forces. Thus, on 29 June 1941,50 enemy aircraft 
tried to knock out the bridge over the Dnestr near Bender. And in the following 
days the enemy made dozens of attempts to destroy it, but the attacks on the 
bridge were unsuccessful. The 383rd Independent Antiaircraft Artillery Bat¬ 
talion covering the bridge succeeded in repelling 32 major attacks, shot down 
15 enemy aircraft, and prevented the bridge's destruction. 10 Because of the air 
defense forces’ selfless actions, the main bridges across the major water bar¬ 
riers were protected against destruction until the withdrawal of our units from 
the border regions to the rear lines. 

Because of the energetic measures of the High Command Headquarters and 
of the staffs of field forces and formations, the air defense of the troops and 
of installations in the country's interior gradually took on a more organized 
character. 


The enemy felt the increased strength of air defenses in the battles for Kiev. 

Large numbers of men and amounts of equipment were assembled for the 
air defense of Kiev, more than 300 antiaircraft guns, 110 fighter aircraft, over 
120 antiairciaft machine guns, 96 antiaircraft searchlights. 81 barrage balloons, 
and about 300 air observation, warning, and communciations posts. 31 To pro¬ 
vide centralized control of these forces, the Kiev Air Defense Region was formed; 
it consisted of the 3rd Air Defense Division, the 36th Fighter Aviation Divi¬ 
sion, and units of organic antiaircraft artillery. 32 This made it possible to organize 
a unified system to protect the city from the air. Its effectiveness can be seen 
during the first 2 months of the war, when the forces of the Kiev Air Defense 


298 


Region destroyed 375 fascist uiictatt. 283 of these were shot down by antiair 
eratt artillery " 

The glorious combat deeds ot the 7th Air Detense Brigade detending Minsk 
showed the strength of resistance by air defense forces on another axis, the 
Western. Starting on 23 June, this city repeatedly came under fierce enemy air 
attacks. During the first 3 days of combat the brigade shot down 13 enemy air¬ 
craft. In the fighting for Borisov, where the brigade had withdrawn by 26 June, 
it shot down another 11 aircraft and destroyed 9 enemy tanks. The 7th Air 
Defense Brigade took part in the Smolensk defensive operation and in the fighting 
near Vyazma and on the approaches to Moscow, destroying 165 German air¬ 
craft during that period ' 4 

The increase in the air defense forces' efforts to combat enemy aircraft was 
particularly apparent in the defense of the two major centers of our country. 
Moscow and Leningrad In character and scale, the combat operations of the 
air defense forces defending Moscow and Leningrad represented air defense 
operations, and as these operations were carried out the Hitlerite command’s 
plan to wipe these cities off the face of the earth was thwarted. 

From July through December 1941, in the operations areas of the air defense 
forces defending Moscow and Leningrad, about 18,000 flights by fascist Ger¬ 
man aircraft were recorded. Taking part in the fighting against the enemy air¬ 
craft were the forces of two air defense zones, the Moscow and Northern. These 
forces had over 1.800 antiaircraft guns and about 600 to 700 fighter aircraft. 
During the fighting more than 1.700 enemy aircraft were destroyed 15 

Thus, at the start of the war the National Air Defense Forces, despite the 
exceptionally difficult combat conditions, withstood the first, strongest attacks 
by enemy aviation and secured the survival of the objectives being defended 

The cooperation between national air defense and organic air defense units 
developed and grew stronger in the struggle against fascist German aviation 
In taking part in the struggle against enemy aviation, the air defense forces ot 
the fronts and fleets thus helped national air defense units to protect objectives 
in the deep rear. At the >ame time, the National Air Defense Forces, in pro¬ 
tecting these objectives, provided aid to the fronts and fleets in conducting 
operations. 

* * 

♦ 

The opposing sides entered World War 11 with limited and poorly developed 
air defense resources- especially air observation, warning, and communications 
equipment- whose performance capabilities were considerably inferior to those 
of the means of air attack In the first operations in the west and in the Pacific 
the allied air defense was not able to repel surprise massed attacks by enemy 
aviation 


299 


I he v irtual disablement of lighter aircraft at the start of the war, most of which 
were destroyed by enemy aircraft on the ground, seriously weakened the air 
defenses of nations subjected to aggression. 


Despite the overall difficult situation and the considerable losses of men and 
equipment, the Soviet Union's air defense alone was able to withstand the first 
massed attacks by enemy aviation at the start of the war. Air defense forces 
in the west and in the Pacific essentially halted organized resistance during the 
first weeks of the war, while air defense on the Soviet-German Front, after 
withstanding enemy attacks, gradually gathered strength and put up a more 
organized resistance. 

I he initial period of the war showed that even in a situation when enemy avia¬ 
tion had overall air supremacy, it was possible to seize the initiative in con¬ 
ducting an air war on certain axes and combat enemy aviation quite effectively. 

Notes 

1 See Voyennava mysl' [Military Thought). 1940, Nos. 11-12, p. 52. |Hereafter cited as Military 
Thought U S Ed.) 

2 Ibid. 

V Ibid 

4 See 50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces, p. 259 

5 Arkhiv MO SSSR [USSR Ministry of Defense Archives), f. 35. op. 30799, d. 2, 1.41. |Hereafter 
cited as Ministry of Defense Archives—V.S Ed J [The preceding abbreviations are Soviet ar¬ 
chival designations f.. archive; op., inventory; d , item; I., folio—U S. Ed. 1 

6 See Journal oj Military History. 1961. No. 3, p. 38. 

7. Ibid . p 39 

is See 50 tears oj the USSR Armed Forces, p 261 

4 See Soveiskiye Vovenno Vozdushnyye Sily v Velikov Otechestvennoy voyne 1941-1945 gg. (The 
Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941 1945) (Moscow; Voyenudat. 1968). p. 29. 
(Hereafter cited a\ SAF in World War 7/-U S Ed. J 
It) Ministry oj Defense Archives. I 35. op 30799. d l. I. 20-21. 

11 Ibid . t 362. op 527080. d 1,1 25 

12 Ministry oj Oejense Archives . f 35. op 225930. d 8. 1. 100. 110. 

I ' Huvashi, p 52 

14 See Sherman, pp 18. 25 

15 See Butler and Gwver. p 2 0 
10 Ibid . p 2 *5 

17 See Military thought. 1440. Nov II 12. p 52. 

18 See SAr in World bar II. p 29 

14 Sec l\nifn ( anifhngn\ pp 28. 30 

20 See Vestnik wzdushnogo flotu (Air Force Herald], 1939, No. 5. p. 25 

21 See foreign Mditurs Journal. 1938. No 5. p 80 

22 See Ict/niA protivovo:Ju\hno\ ohoronv (Air Defense Herald). 1940, No 7. p 3 (Hereafter 
ukO ax Ao lhlen\c Herat J U S Ed j 

K-uciwei. p ol r/\u cozdushnos vovns v vest proshtom. nasiovashchem i hudushchem 

II he Historv ot Warfare Past. Present, and Future) (Moscow; Voyeni/dat). 1956. p 69 
(Hcicattcr v lied jv Feuehtci U S Ed ) 

24 See Mihtars thought. 1 440 No 7. p 32 


300 


26 Ibid , p 67 

27 Sec Air Ur]en.\e Hr mid. 1472. No I . p 2i 

28 Sec Journal oj Military History. |%8 1 o 

29 Ibid 

30 Ibid 

31. f. 72. op. 34VS4. d. 7. I. 45; f I.U.o P ■ , d ,o. I ,, 

■U See Journal of Military History, |%8 No * p 31 

M Ministry oJ OrJ ,-,,w , I JJ.op .*454. J „ , l(f< . U(1 , , s „ , 

M. Ministry,,) Oe>mr I 72. op. ,U%|. J 54. I 444 Ls 

Orjense HrraliJ. 1472, No I. p ’4 


Conclusion 


WinM War II was an extremely complex and diverse social phenomenon. 
It consisted of a numher of wars, each of which began and developed with both 
common and unique features Dozens ot nations participated in the wars that 
lakcn together formed World War II. including all of the main imperialist powers 
and a socialist country. the USSR. The military and economic potentials of these 
nations were far from equal and each of them pursued different political goals 
;n the w.u Finally. the powers taking pan in the war occupied various geographic 
positions on the globe and. furthermore, entered the war with differing military 
ttiCwfiCs and doctrines. 

However, despite the unique wars that made up World War II, the period 
ot each nation's entry into the war had common features. These common features 
were determined by persistent trends that had arisen in wars of the remote past 
and by specific historical conditions that saw the coming and unleashing of World 
War II 

Qualitatively new features of a war s initial period appeared with the crea¬ 
tion and development of massive armies, when active combat operations began 
to be more extensively included in measures taken to prepare for decisive 
engagements This gradually brought the moment of encounter between the main 
forces nearer to the start of war The role of a war 's initial period changed and 
look mi new content 


At the start of the twentieth century the desire by belligerents to begin com¬ 
bat operations from the first days of an armed conflict underwent further develop¬ 
ment in the Russo Japanese war One of the remarkable features of this war 
was the conduct of extensive offensive and defensive battles on land and at sea 
ftom the start. The planning behind World War l showed that on the eve of 
the war the political and military leaders of the hostile groups were already linking 
their strategic calculations with the active conduct of combat operations at the 
-tail ol the war fh>' would make possible the creation of conditions to achieve 
the war s final goals in the fust operations Nations such as Germany. France, 
and Russia attached decisive importance to the initial operations of their main 
loices Although the actual course of events letuted these calculations, the idea 
ot achiec, a v*ucitiiig uctcai of the enemy in the initial operations continued 
to ix.api UK niiiiOv ol many militaiy leaders and theorists in the capitalist 

. ..ji.i, • 



During the period between the two world wars, when new military theories 
and strategic’ concepts were formed under the influence ot scientific and technical 
progress and the interpretation of the experience and lessons ot World War I. 
avid proponents of this idea were found among the ruling circles of Germany, 
Italy, and Japan. In fact, it became the leading concept in the theories of total 
and blitzkrieg warfare prevalent in those nations. This was especially so. it 
seemed, because the rapid development of highly maneuverable types ot com¬ 
bat equipment—tanks and aircraft—was opening up good prospects to achieve 
in initial operations those goals that had not been achieved in World War I. 
The strategic military aspect of these theories had to do precisely with putting 
into effect during the prewar period preparatory measures that in earlier times 
had constituted the main activity of the initial period of war Now, at the start 
of a war, the maximum number of men and quantity of equipment would be 
concentrated in the first attack to deliver a crushing defeat to the enemy These 
theories, consequently, emerged from recognition of the decisive importance 
of a war's initial operations. Reality showed, however, that these theories were 
invalid, since they were based on an exaggeration of the role of the initial period 
of war and on an underestimation of enemy military capabilities, morale, and 
determination. 

On the other hand, an obvious underestimation of the role of the initial opera¬ 
tions in a future war became widespread in the capitalist nations opposing the 
fascist bloc of nations. The "war-of-attrition" theory prevalent in the capitalist 
nations virtually limited the role of the initial period to the conduct ot a static 
defense. 

In the strategic calculations based on the war-of-attrition theory, the political 
and military leaders of the capitalist countries opposing fascist Germany and 
its allies gave prominence to "channeling" aggression to the east and to draw¬ 
ing the USSR into the war. It was assumed that the Soviet Union and Germany 
would both exhaust their resources in a fierce armed conflict, and that this could 
only benefit the western powers. 

The views held by Soviet military leaders and theorists on the initial period 
essentially amounted to recognition of the increased importance—because of 
the development of such weapons as tanks and aircraft—of initial operations 
for the course and even the outcome of a war. 

Many achievements of Soviet military theory were crystallized in this point 
of view on the initial period of war. These included such achievements as the 
fundamentally correct appraisal of the character of a future war and acknowledge¬ 
ment of the objective historical trend toward undertaking combat operations at 
the start of a war. Although certain aspects of Soviet theory on the initial period 
of war were not properly clarified, and while serious errors were made in prepar¬ 
ing the armed forces to enter the war, the course and outcome of the Great 
Patriotic War convincingly demonstrated the progressive character of Soviet 
military theory. 


303 



The general characteristics oi the initial period of each of the wars that made 
up World War II can he summarized in the following way: 

In World War II the initial period constituted a definite and, as a rule, 
comparatively brief period filled with large-scale offensive and defensive 
operations in which all the armed forces’ formations and field forces 
deployed by the start of the war participated to achieve immediate strategic 
goals. At the same time, the belligerent nations carried out a whole series 
of urgent measures to inobili/.e their domestic resources for war and strove 
to strengthen their international positions with a number of foreign policy 
actions that affected enemies, allies, and neutral nations. 

The initial period of war mainly consisted of combat operations carried out 
through the joint efforts of all branches of the armed forces. The attacking side, 
which had fully mobilized and deployed its armed forces during the prewar 
period, used this period to carry out offensive operations with the immediate 
goal of destroying the forces in the enemy's first strategic echelon and creating 
the conditions for a victorious conclusion to the war. As a rule, nations sub¬ 
jected to surprise attack conducted difficult defensive engagements during this 
period—on land, at sea, and in the air—using forces of the first strategic echelon, 
under cover of which the mobilization, concentration, and deployment of forces 
in the second strategic echelon continued. The first engagements and opera¬ 
tions became a harsh test of prewar theoretical views, strategic plans, and calcula¬ 
tions, and of the combat, morale, and political conditioning of the armed forces 
for military operations. 

The accelerated accomplishment of military and economic mobilization plans 
was an organic part of the initial period of the war. This was seen in the removal 
of equipment and technology front industry, transport, and agriculture and their 
transfer to the armed forces to equip the formations and field forces deployed 
at the start of the war In addition, in most nations the economy was under¬ 
going conversion to expanded production of combat equipment and weapons, 
and financial, material, and human resources were redistributed among the 
various sectors of the economy. The operations of all types of transport, com¬ 
munications. and so forth underwent considerable reorganization. Only in the 
aggressor nations were such measures not carried out at this time, since most 
of them had been carried out before the war began. 

It was typical domestic policy in nations that entered the war to put all domestic 
affairs on a war footing. An important role was assigned to immediate measures 
to strengthen a nation's internal security and to increase the morale and 
psychological conditioning of the population to bear the burdens of war. 

Fearing the intensification of social conflicts, the governments of capitalist 
nations, in which elements of bourgeois democracy still existed, abridged the 
democratic rights of the workers and increased their repression of progressive 


304 


forces, especially of the communist parties. In the fascist bloc of nations, where 
the communist parties and other progressive political organizations of workers 
had been disbanded or been driven underground and their best leaders physically 
destroyed or placed behind bars, the governments conducted unrestrained 
anticommunist and chauvinistic propaganda, masking their criminal goals in the 
war 

In the initial period of the war the Communist Party of the Soviet Union carried 
out the work of mobilizing all of the people to repel the enemy w ith the just 
goals of liberating the nation from the invaders and delivering the peoples of 
Europe from fascist oppression. Great attention was devoted to increasing 
vigilance and discipline and developing hatred for the enemy. The party 
reorganized the work of government control organs to accomplish these tasks. 

The foreign policies of the various governments look on a special character 
with the start of the war. Efforts were aimed at determining the positions of 
belligerent and neutral nations and at revealing genuine allies and possible new 
enemies. Nations entering the war took steps to create new military coalitions 
or to expand existing ones. The foreign policy programs of nations entering 
the war and their true political goals were clearly revealed during the first days 
of the war, and the real attitude of nations tow ard their commitments to alliances, 
as set forth in prewar agreements, was also tested. 

The initial period of the war was thus an exceptionally complex process of 
the entry of nations into armed conflict. This process was characterized by the 
accomplishment of closely related and extremely urgent military, political, and 
economic tasks. 

Specific features of the initial period in World War 11 were clearly revealed 
in the conduct of the first campaigns and operations, both offensive and defensive. 


Initial offensive operations. The planning and the conduct of offensive opera¬ 
tions completely clearly revealed the desire of the aggressor nations to deter¬ 
mine in advance the outcome of the war w ith a single campaign or even a single 
strategic operation. Like the Japanese militarists. Hitler's strategists set the im¬ 
mediate strategic goal of rapidly defeating the enemy's first strategic echelon. 

From 50 to 80 percent of all of the men and equipment on hand at the start 
of the war were usually drawn on to achieve this goal. The main mass of the 
men and equipment, including the tank forces, went into the first strategic 
echelons. The massing of men and equipment to make the first attack led to 
the creation of overwhelming superiority over the enemy on the main axes and. 
as a rule, to rapid penetration of enemy defenses to a great depth This in turn 
created favorable conditions for maneuver in the operational depth. Great at¬ 
tention was devoted to achieving surprise in the first attacks 




Cutting off or enveloping (sometimes with a double envelopment) major 
strategic enemy groupings, with their simultaneous fragmentation and destruc¬ 
tion piecemeal, were the basic forms of operational-strategic maneuver. Tank 
and motorized units, operating in compact groupings, had the main role in en¬ 
circling large enemy forces. The elimination of encircled forces was assigned 
to field armies. 

Strategic offensive operations on the continent reached depths of 300 to 600 
km. with fronts extending 400 to 600 km or more. The average daily rate of 
advance on the axes of the main attacks was 15 to 30 km. The tank forces ad¬ 
vanced at rates of 40 to 60 km a day. 

A characteristic feature of operations by the Japanese armed forces at the start 
of the war was that they carried out deep strategic offensive operations of tremen¬ 
dous scope in naval theaters of operations. These operations were conducted 
through the joint efforts of all branches of the armed forces, the main role be¬ 
ing played by the navy. All of the Japanese forces deployed on the eve of the 
war typically entered engagements in the initial period simultaneously in the 
naval theaters. 

The Japanese navy gained sea supremacy during the first days of the war by 
making surprise massed air attacks against the enemy’s main naval forces. The 
strategic offensive developed in a number of simultaneous and consecutive opera¬ 
tions that included the landing of naval and airborne assault forces on Pacific 
islands and on the eastern and southeastern coasts of the Asian continent. The 
offensive was carried out quickly. 

Initial offensive operations in the continental and naval theaters of operations 
were characterized by the defeat of major strategic groupings of enemy fort^, 
and the seizure of vast territories. Even large nations, falling under surprise 
massed enemy attacks, found themselves in an extremely serious situation and 
overcame their initial setbacks with difficulty. 

Initial defensive operations. The combat activity of the armed forces of the 
nations subjected to aggression began with defensive engagements. In most situa¬ 
tions these nations did not have defensive lines prepared in advance on the axes 
of the enemy's main attacks. Nor did they have groups of forces deployed in 
time and capable of withstanding the aggressor's invasion. When the aggressor 
did encounter previously prepared defensive lines—for example, the Maginot 
Line—they proved to be on secondary axes as a rule. The enemy bypassed these 
positions. 


The defensive operations resulted in great losses of men and materiel. It was 
possible to weaken a strong enemy's offensive capabilities and ultimately to halt 
its advance only after the entry into battle of major strategic reserves. 




Nations with relatively limited territory and inadequ.it’ lorees. *<>■ h . 1 

Belgium, and Holland, were rapidly defeated. France's strategy dcicnse wa- 
also quickly crushed. To a considerable degree this was caused hv errors i«n 
mitted in deploying its main forces and by a shortage ot major strategic reserves 

It was only on the Soviet-German Front that the German tas< isi umimand 
was not able to overwhelm the strategic defense By mu) Inlv 1441 with ihc 
introduction of strategic reserves into battle, the Soviet command was able to 
temporarily stabilize the defensive front on the most important strategic axes 
This was of tremendous importance for thwarting plans for a blitzkrieg. 

Soviet forces carried out the strategic defense m a difficult situation ai a umc 
when their strategic deployment had not been completed, enemv aviation 
dominated the air, major enemy tank groupings were rapidlv penetrating the 
deep rear, and the limited maneuvering capabilities of the Red Army 's forma 
tions because of a low level of motorization and pressure frrrn Hitler's aviation 
prevented the timely elimination of enemy breakthroughs. The persistence and 
mass heroism of Soviet forces were a powerful factor in overcoming these ex¬ 
tremely difficult conditions. By the end of the first defensive operations the enemy 
had suffered considerable losses. The enemy's advance was steadily slacken¬ 
ing. At the start of the second month of war the fascist German army was forced 
to go over to the defensive on a number of axes, including, what was especially 
important, the main, Moscow strategic axis. 

A high level of combat activity by units and formations was one of the 
distinguishing features of our strategic defense. Wherever possible, Soviet forces 
carried out counterattacks, conducted an active struggle when encircled, and 
maneuvered skillfully to escape from encirclement; when necessary they 
withdrew to intermediate positions or concentrated on the flanks of enemy group¬ 
ings that had broken through. Intermediate or rear defensive lines were set up 
during battles and operations, and were occupied in advance by strategic reserves 
moved up from the nation's interior 

At the same time, counterattacks organized by the Soviet command did not 
always produce the desired results. Counterattacks carried out during the first 
days of the war on the northwestern and western axes, for example, did not 
achieve their goal The enemy repelled them, regrouped its forces, and eon 
tinued to develop the offensive. 

Experience showed that it was extremely difficult to recapture the strategy 
initiative lost to the enemy at the start of the war A number of conditions were 
necessary to accomplish this mission successfully: in particular, correct appraisal 
of the situation, selection of the most favorable moment for making the retaliatorv 
attack, and concentration of superior forces o.i the axis where the attack was 
planned 

so 




The initial defensive operations in the naval theaters of operations were unique 
because these operations unfolded over huge expanses. After Japan's seizure 
of absolute air and sea supremacy, the American and British commands were 
deprived of the possibility of conducting the mobile defense called for in their 
original plans. From the first days of the war the allied defensive combat opera¬ 
tions were concentrated in centers of resistance and, moreover, were unorga¬ 
nized. Cooperation between naval, air, and ground forces was disrupted. At¬ 
tempts by the allied command to organize operations against landing forces at 
the most important strategic points met with failure. It was only toward the end 
of the fifth month of war that the U.S. was in a position to halt the enemy’s 
advance. 

The initial operations showed that their success depended on winning air 
supremacy in the first days of the war. 

Dominating the air, the aggressor's aviation reliably covered friendly troops 
and made effective attacks against the enemy, its communications, railroad ter¬ 
minals. highway junctions, and control points. In particular, this resulted in 
disorganization of command and control and the disruption of troop regroup¬ 
ings and the transfer of reserves from the interior. 

From the start of the war surprise massed air attacks against enemy airfields 
were the main means of winning air supremacy. The initial success was 
strengthened bv using ground forces to seize areas in which enemy aviation was 
based. After winning air supremacy the main mass of the air force was assigned 
to support the operations of ground and naval forces. 

The war showed that the role of air defense in initial operations had increased 
considerably. At the same time, it was revealed that air defense was poorly 
prepared to repel the first massed enemy air attacks. This was because the ef¬ 
fectiveness of such attacks had been underestimated. Furthermore, air defense 
weapons lagged considerably behind air attack weapons. 

A number of the first campaigns showed that a blitzkrieg victory could be 
achieved in the initial period only over a militarily and economically weak enemy 
with limited territory and lacking high morale, political unity, and the will to 
fight until the end When large nations (or coalitions of nations) with great 
military and economic potential, vast territory, and, especially important, tremen¬ 
dous morale and political potential entered the war against the aggressor, blitz¬ 
krieg warfare failed entirely, even when the aggressor achieved important 
strategic results in the initial period. However, the consequences of the first 
massed attacks were extremely serious even for large nations: for some—France, 
for example—they were catastrophic. 


308 


The initial period of the war confirmed the completely natural existence along 
with the offensive of strategic operations like the strategic defense. At the same 
time, it introduced many new features into the strategic defense. 

The war rejected the conduct of a strategic defense consisting of static forms 
alone when an advancing enemy employed aviation and airborne forces with 
a huge radius of action and tank formations with great mobility The war de 
manded an optimal combination of static defense with battles of maneuver, rely¬ 
ing on a system of defensive zones and lines developed in advance along the 
front and in the depth. A stable defense proved unthinkable without major anti¬ 
aircraft and antitank reinforcements. Perhaps the most instructive lesson learned 
from the initial period of the war, however, was the need to conduct an active 
strategic defense. In the last war only a combination of determined retention 
of defensive zones and lines and a large number of powerful counterattacks, 
operational counteroffensives, and individual offensive operations brought suc¬ 
cess to the defending side and created the conditions necessary to seize the 
strategic initiative. 

The initial operations showed that the buildup and use of strategic reserves 
was necessary to provide an active strategic defense. Their role in strategic 
defense increased greatly. 

The initial period clearly showed a persistent trend to shift preparatory 
measures for conducting the first operations, including mobilization and strategic- 
deployment of the armed forces, beyond the limits of the war itself to the prewar 
period. 

The initial period of the war was also instructive because it revealed the desire 
of the aggressor nations to include as many men and as much equipment as pos 
sible in the first attack to achieve immediate strategic goals, including air 
supremacy and supremacy at sea in the naval theaters. 

Initial operations once again confirmed the tendencies of powers taking the 
initiative in unleashing war to make surprise attacks of maximum force against 
an enemy from the start. To ensure surprise in the attack, governments and 
military control organs in the aggressive nations used all means and methods 
against the enemy, including political, diplomatic, and military actions, if only 
to conceal the real plan and time to unleash aggression. 

Initial offensive operations were characterized by a sharp increase in their 
scope and dynamic nature, the employment of all branches of the armed forces, 
and the use of the most decisive forms of conducting operations: strategic fronts 
were split; large groups of forces encircled; deep envelopments were made w ith 
mobile formations, airborne and naval assault forces; and so forth 





Offensive and defensive operations in the initial period ot the war showed 
firm and continuous command and control to be of paramount importance for 
the success of combat operations !n an extremely complex and rapidly chang¬ 
ing situation any weakening or loss of command and control cost that side dearly 
which delayed in restoring the disrupted system of strategic and operational 
control. 

Finally, the initial period of the war revealed the greatly increased impor¬ 
tance of morale and political factors, and. in particular, of the troops' 
psychological conditioning for the course and outcome of initial operations. 
Entering the war entailed a serious testing of the morale of the population and 
the army of each of the belligerents It invariably required basic adjustments 
in the consciousness and conduct of the people, both of those remaining in the 
rear to work to meet war needs and of those who took up arms This resulted 
in political mobilization of the masses on an especially broad scale to achieve 
the intended goals in the war. 

With the start of combat operations by the Soviet Armed Forces the Com¬ 
munist Party launched a tremendous political campaign to explain the noble goals 
of the Great Patriotic War and its just nature to strengthen in the Soviet people- 
soldiers on the front and workers in the rear—important moral-political qualities 
such as love for the Motherland and a readiness to defend with their lives the 
great achievements of the October Revolution. Much attention was devoted to 
the development of fierce hatred for the fascist invaders and to the establish¬ 
ment of steadfast confidence in victory over the enemy. The AUCP(b) Central 
Committee made direct appeals to the people, and the press, radio, and all forms 
of art were called on for the political mobilization of the nation and its Armed 
Forces to overcome the difficulties of the initial period and to organize a crushing 
rebuff to the aggressors 

In the initial period of the war the Communist Party served as a great guiding, 
organizing, and mobilizing force in the national struggle against the fascist 
invasion 


* 


* 


* 


Almost three decades have gone by since World War II ended. The tremen¬ 
dous political and socioeconomic advances that have come about since then have 
fundamentally changed the arrangement and balance of power in the world. 

A world socialist system has been formed. Steadily developing and gaining 
strength, it is having an ever-increasing influence on the world revolutionary 
process. The proletariat's class awareness is increasing in all of the capitalist 
nations. It is becoming more and more determined in its iruggle against the 


310 





imperialist policy of the national and international bourgeoisie and is leading 
an active struggle for its political and economic rights. Imperialism's worldwide 
colonial system has collapsed. Dozens of new nations have set out on the path 
of independent political and economic development. 

A trend toward consolidation of all anti-imperialist forces is growing and ex¬ 
panding in the world. All of this bears witness to the continued intensification 
of the capitalist system’s general crisis. 

The start of the I970's marked an important turning point in the international 
situation. The increasing power of the Soviet Union and the other socialist na¬ 
tions and the development of a powerful movement for international security 
among the broad popular masses have led to collapse of the imperialist policy 
of operating "from a position of strength.” There is a clear tendency toward 
a lessening of international tension and toward a greater acceptance of the prin¬ 
ciples of peaceful coexistence between countries with different social structures. 

The profound sociopolitical advances now taking place in the world and the 
decreased danger of a nuclear war are opening up new prospects for strengthening 
international security. There are still forces in the imperialist nations, however, 
capable of unleashing new military ventures. 

This makes it necessary to exercise great vigilance against the intrigues of 
international reaction and to maintain the armed forces of the socialist com¬ 
munity of nations at a high level of combat readiness. 

"We take into account the lessons of the past," said General Secretary of 
the CPSU Central Committee L. I. Brezhnev at a joint formal session of the 
CPSU Central Committee, the USSR Supreme Soviet, and the RSFSR Supreme 
Soviet devoted to the 50th anniversary of Soviet power, "and we are doing 
every thing possible to make certain that no one catches us unprepared 

Inspired by the historic decisions of the 24th Congress of the Communist Party 
of the Soviet Union, the Soviet people today are working with unprecedented 
enthusiasm to bring to life the grand program worked out by the party for our 
Motherland's continued progress toward communism. The Soviet Armed Forces 
guard the peaceful creative labor of the Soviet people, and are prepared to repel 
an enemy attack at any hour of the day or night from wherever it might arise. 


Notes 

I L I Brezhnev. Ismnskim kur.wrn. Re< hi i stat 'i (Following Lenin's Course Speeches and Ar 
tides) (Moscow Politizdat. 1970). II. 129 


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