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

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

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

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

Synopsis

The authors argue that the most significant factor in Germany's failure to defeat Russia in 1941 was the strategy developed by Soviet Generals Zhukov and Timoshenko which led to devastating German casualties.

Excerpt

It is an enduring myth of the twentieth century that the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 caught Stalin and the Red Army totally by surprise. According to the legend, Stalin was so afraid of provoking Hitler that he purposefully took steps to ensure that the U.S.S.R. was woefully unprepared for war. There are stories about Russian officers wailing in anguish, "the enemy is firing on us, what shall we do?" Other tales are told about how easily the German panzer groups and mechanized forces cut through the ill-prepared border defenses and advanced rapidly for hundreds of kilometers into enemy territory.

The opening days and weeks of the campaign in the east named Operation Barbarossa by the Germans and "The Great Patriotic War" by the Russians, fulfilled all of the desires of the German General Staff. According to their plans, once the concentrations of the Red Army along the western frontier had been destroyed and the first (and only) defensive echelon had been decisively pierced, then nothing barred the way into the broad interior of the country including the rich granaries of Ukraine and the oil fields of the Caucasus. With these resources at their disposal, the German Wehrmacht would bestride the world like a colossus, impervious to defeat by any imaginable coalition of enemies. In short, by July 1941 the war was over for all practical purposes. All the necessary goals for a complete German victory had been achieved. Or, at least this should have been so if conventional wisdom about the disposition and preparedness for defense by the Red Army had held true.

But the war was not over. Events occurred in the period from July to September 1941 which forever changed the course of the war. Instead of triumphs, the German Army experienced a series of delays and reversals culminating in a strategic defeat at the hands of Georgii Zhukov at the very gates of Moscow in December 1941.

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