Thunder on the DNEPR: Zhukov-Stalin and the Defeat of Hitler's Blitzkrieg

Article excerpt

THUNDER ON THE DNEPR: Zhukov-Stalin and the Defeat of Hitler's Blitzkrieg by Bryan I. Fugate and Lev Dvoretsky. 416 pages. Presidio Press, Novato, CA. 1997. $27.95.

Since World War II, certain basic beliefs have guided Western historians regarding the Eastern Front:

The Soviets, particularly Joseph Stalin, ignored or disbelieved Western intelligence they received concerning Germany's preparation for an imminent attack.

A combination of Adolf Hitler's interference with overall operations and the deplorable weather conditions during the winter of 1941 stopped the Army Group Center just shy of Moscow.

If Hitler and the weather had not interfered, Moscow could have been taken, possibly causing the Soviet Union to capitulate or, at least, significantly altering the Eastern Front Campaign's course specifically and the war's course in general.

Bryan I. Fugate and Lev Dvoretsky turn these beliefs on their heads. Using sources and archive materials only recently available, the authors maintain that both Stalin and the Soviet high command were not caught by surprise. They had, in fact, developed a highly secret and extremely innovative plan-including conducting a series of complex war games to test possible scenarios-to meet this expected event. This plan addressed the Germans' and Soviets' weaknesses and strengths.

The plan was not created by any one individual and was not without flaws. In the end, it was implemented even though it contained serious mistakes. The plan's greatest strength was its basic simplicity, and the plan achieved what was needed"it worked. …