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COUNTERPOINT TO STALINGRAD. Operation Mars (November-December 1942)

Впервые опубликовано 25.09.2005 18:54
Последняя редакция 24.07.2011 09:15
Материал читали 27928 человек


In late September 1942, key Stavka political and military leaders formulated a strategy to reverse the fortunes of war4. Their plans reflected the bitter experiences of the prior 18 months of war and the military realities they confronted. During the tragic initial period of war in 1941, the ambitious German Operation Barbarossa had propelled German forces to the gates of Leningrad, Moscow, and Rostov before stiffened Soviet resistance and the effects of the Soviet Union's vast territorial expanse combined to bring exhausted German forces to a halt. German overextension and a desperate Soviet counteroffensive inflicted unprecedented, but temporary, defeat on Blitzkrieg at the very gates of Moscow in December 1941. Despite subsequent Soviet successes in the harsh winter which followed, however, German forces remained menacingly close to the Soviet capital.

Undeterred by their Moscow setback and inspired by the disasterous defeat of twin Soviet offensives in May 1942 at Kharkov and in the Crimea, in June 1942 the German Army unleashed Operation Blau in an attempt to regain the strategic initiative and win the conflict. Replicating their ambitious 1941 operations, although on a lesser scale, in summer 1942 German forces plunged eastward across the endless steppes of southern Russia to the banks of the Volga River at Stalingrad and toward the oil-rich Caucasus region. After spectacular gains, the headlong German offensive reached the banks of the Volga in September but ground to a halt in October in the ruins of Stalingrad city and along the treacherous northern slopes of the imposing Caucasus Mountain barrier. Once again, German planners and operators alike had underestimated the resilience of the Red Army, the imposing challenges of the immense theater of operations, and the stoic resolution of their foes. Once again, in fall 1942 the Wehrmacht faced the inevitable wrath of a Soviet winter counteroffensive. The only question was, Where?

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