Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East by David Stahel

By David Stahel

In precisely 4 weeks in the summertime of 1941 the German Wehrmacht wrought unparalleled destruction on 4 Soviet armies, conquering vital Ukraine and killing or shooting 3 quarters of 1000000 males. This used to be the conflict of Kiev - one of many biggest and such a lot decisive battles of worldwide battle II and, for Hitler and Stalin, a conflict of an important significance. For the 1st time, David Stahel charts the battle's dramatic direction and aftermath, uncovering the irreplaceable losses suffered through Germany's 'panzer teams' regardless of their battlefield earnings, and the results of those losses for the German warfare attempt. He illuminates the internal workings of the German military in addition to the studies of standard squaddies, exhibiting that with the Russian wintry weather looming and Soviet resistance nonetheless unbroken, victory got here at large fee and proven the turning aspect in Germany's conflict within the East.

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Sample text

In the same period the Soviet Union was thrust into the war, giving Britain the backing of two great powers, both still finding their feet, but committed nevertheless to a sustained war against fascism. No longer was Britain alone and no longer were the Axis superior in the raw indexes of soldiers, tanks and aircraft. Indeed, the trump card of the Axis – the German Wehrmacht’s dynamic formula for lightning wars of conquest – had proved seriously deficient in the vital summer campaign on the eastern front.

The first German troops landed in February 1941 as British forces were still consolidating their gains. Wavell calculated that no combined Italian/ German attack would be possible before May and Ultra intelligence appeared to support this conclusion. Yet the new German commander, Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel, had already earned a reputation for confounding his opponents (and superiors) and only forty days after landing he went on the offensive with the advanced guard of his new Afrikakorps. Wavell was caught off-guard with weakened forces and the result was a striking reversal.

Even during the battle of Kiev, the continued resistance of the encircled pocket delayed the release of the German armoured forces and reduced their ability to rest and refit before the next major offensive. As news filtered back from the front of major reverses and deep enemy advances, the scale of the crisis overtaking the country could no longer be hidden and Soviet authorities, reluctant as ever to risk any loss of control, sought to uphold morale using both a carrot and a stick. While the spontaneous displays of loyalty to Stalin and the Soviet state were trumpeted, any form of dissent was punished as treason and the NKVD was quick to apprehend anyone charged with the dubious offence of ‘defeatism’ or serving as ‘panic-mongers’.

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