Academic journal article Military Review

The Drive on Moscow, 1941: Operation Taifun and Germany's First Great Crisis in World War II

Academic journal article Military Review

The Drive on Moscow, 1941: Operation Taifun and Germany's First Great Crisis in World War II

Article excerpt

THE DRIVE ON MOSCOW, 1941: Operation Taifun and Germany's First Great Crisis in World War II

Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson Casemate, Philadelphia and Oxford, 2012 336 pages, $32.95

WHEN GERMANY ATTACKED the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the invaders chose the best possible time to defeat the Red Army, which was in transition of its leadership, doctrine, organization, equipment, and deployment. However, despite all their initial advantages, the Germans failed to defeat the defenders decisively, condemning both sides to a prolonged war of attrition that Germany ultimately lost. For seven decades, historians and general readers have sought some explanation for why the supposedly invincible Wehrmacht came to grief in 1941. The initial German alibis, focusing on the interference of Adolf Hitler and the extremes of weather and terrain, have long since proven inadequate as answers to this question.

As part of a flurry of recent studies on events of 1941, two Swedish historians, Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson, have focused on Operation Taifun (Typhoon), the final attempt of Army Group Center to reach Moscow. In tracing the last German advance, the authors provide a wealth of interesting information, such as statistics indicating the Germans lost fewer tanks and suffered fewer casualties during this operation than they had experienced during the massive battles of the summer. For those interested in details, this book offers such specifics as the number of half-track mounted infantry battalions in certain panzer divisions and the average ages of German and Soviet senior commanders. …

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