By Geoffrey Jukes
The epic battles fought at Stalingrad and Kursk have been pivotal occasions within the battle at the japanese entrance. After the catastrophic failure of the German offensives of 1942 and 1943, the Wehrmacht was once compelled onto the protecting. by no means back would it not regain the initiative opposed to the likely inexhaustible forces of the pink military. yet how did this decisive shift within the stability of army strength at the japanese entrance happen? this question has intrigued historians ever seeing that. during this unique and thought-provoking new learn Geoffrey Jukes reconstructs Soviet technique and operations at Stalingrad and Kursk in bright element. He appears backstage on the workings of the Soviet excessive command, on the roles performed via the primary crimson military generals, and on the overriding effect of Stalin himself.
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Additional info for Stalingrad to Kursk: Triumph of the Red Army
31 In short, they proposed attacking first. ’32 They cited his apparent endorsement of offensive action in his speech of 5 May to the newly commissioned officers; he replied that he had said that only to ‘encourage the lads’ and counteract the widespread feeling that the German army was invincible, and he warned that ‘heads would roll’ if any pre-emptive action was taken. 34 So Stalin was almost certainly right in vetoing any attempt at preemption in mid-May. He did not state his reasons for doing so, but his alleged receipt of Hitler’s 14 May letter may have been among them.
All three had been NCOs in the First World War, and had the humble class origins (Zhukov and Konev were the sons of peasants, Rokossovsky of a railway engine-driver) deemed appropriate for command in the ‘Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army’. M. Vasilevsky, conspicuously lacked such class ‘qualifications’. His parents were an Orthodox Church cantor and a priest’s daughter, and in the First World War he was an officer (a staffcaptain) in the Tsar’s army. With such dubious antecedents, it took the Communist Party ten years (1928–38) to accept his application for membership, but he escaped the purges because the then Chief of General Staff, Marshal Shaposhnikov, sensed his outstanding potential for staff work, and groomed him to become his successor.
However, Timoshenko and Zhukov were disingenuous in trying to exploit his recent reference to the Red Army’s alleged capacity to undertake offensives. They must both have been well aware that such statements about the army’s ability to undertake offensives, and boastful songs and slogans about ‘beating the enemy on his own territory’ for ‘little loss of blood’, did not match the reality of hastily expanded forces in the midst of reorganisation, with equipment that was largely obsolete and often unserviceable because it was badly maintained, raw pilots with few flying hours for lack of aviation fuel, tank drivers with very little driving experience (Soviet tank driver-mechanics averaged 5 to 10 hours’ driving practice, their German counterparts 50), nominally motorised infantry with hardly any vehicles, one-sixth of officers’ posts unfilled, and many of the remainder filled by underqualified reservists.
Stalingrad to Kursk: Triumph of the Red Army by Geoffrey Jukes