Skip to comments.HITLER BEGINS WAR ON RUSSIA, WITH ARMIES ON MARCH FROM ARCTIC TO THE BLACK SEA (6/22/41)
Posted on 06/22/2011 4:43:22 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
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btt. must read day
In the area of General von Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps, in the wooded country north of the Memel, there was not much room for large-scale operations. That was why only the 8th Panzer Division and 290th Infantry Division were earmarked for the first thrust across the frontier. The forward line of pillboxes had to be pierced. And it had to be pierced quickly. The corps was scheduled to drive 50 miles right through the enemy on the first day, without stopping, without regard to anything else, with the object of capturing intact by a surprise stroke the big road viaduct across the Dubysa valley at Ariogala. If they failed in this the corps would be stuck in a deep and narrow river valley, and the enemy would have time to re-form. But most important of all, any idea of a surprise stroke against the important centre of Daugavpils (Dvinsk) would have to be dropped.
The companies of 290th Infantry Division suffered heavy casualties even while crossing the frontier streamabove all in officers. Second Lieutenant Weinrowski of the 7th Company, 501st Infantry Regiment, was probably the first soldier killed by the bullets of Soviet frontier guards up in the north during the first minute of this war. The burst came from a pillbox camouflaged as a farm cart. But the Russian frontier troops were unable to halt the German attack. The llth Company of 501st Regiment led the assault ahead of the spearheads of 8th Panzer Division, clearing tree-trunk obstacles under Russian fire, sweeping through the wood, past a small village. First Lieutenant Hinkmann, the company commander, was killed.
Second Lieutenant Silzer ran forward. "The company will take orders from me!" They reached the Mituva, a small river. They captured the bridge and, as instructed, established a bridgehead.
Presently General Brandenberger's 8th Panzer Division drove up. General von Manstein, the GOC, was accompanying the division in his command tank. "Keep going!" he urged them. "Keep going!" Never mind about your flanks. Never mind about cover. The Ariogala viaduct must be captured. And Daugavpils must be taken by surprise.
Manstein, a bold but coolly calculating strategist, knew very well that this gamble of a war called Operation Barbarossa could be won only if the Germans succeeded in knocking the Russians out during the very first weeks of the attack. He knew what Clausewitz knew before him: this vast country could not be conquered and occupied. At best it might be possible, by risky surprise strokes, by swift and hard blows at the military and political heart of the country, to overthrow the regime, to deprive the country of its leadership, and thus to paralyze its vast military potential. That was the only way in which it might be doneperhaps. Otherwise the war would be lost that very summer.
At 1900 a signal was received at 8th Panzer Division headquarters from its advanced units: " Ariogala viaduct taken." Manstein nodded. All he said was: "Keep going."
The tanks were moving forward. The grenadiers were riding through clouds of hot dust. Keep going. Manstein was executing an armored thrust such as no military tactician would have thought possible. Would his corps succeed in taking Daugavpils by surprise? Would he be able to drive straight through strongly held enemy territory for a distance of 230 miles and yet take the bridges across the Daugava by a surprise stroke?
That this tank war by the Baltic was not going to be a light-hearted adventure, no easy Blitzkrieg against an inferior enemy, was painfully clear after the first forty-eight hours.
The Russians, too, had tanksand what tanks!
The XLI Panzer Corps, operating on the left wing of Fourth Panzer Group, was the first to make this discovery.(In the next couple of days.)
Hitler Moves East by Paul Carell
Although there were a number of tactical errors, Hitler’s three biggest mistakes in Operation Barbarossa were these IMHO:
1) Failure to take Moscow and Leningrad early in the campaign when they had the chance.
2) Failure to provide winter clothing for the troops.
3) Failure to treat locals better than the Communists did who initially welcomed the Wehrmacht as liberators.
Especially the Ukrainians, they would have joined the Nazis in fighting the Soviets. All Hitler had to do was to set up a puppet Ukrainian regime, along the lines of say, Slovakia.
And by taking Moscow, it probably would have lead to Stalin's removal, and perhaps a complete overthrow of the Bolshevik regime, by the Russians themselves.
There is not much news from the front lines during these first hours of the invasion. I was interested to learn, as I prepared subsequent posts, that the main stories about the eastern front will originate with Daniel T. Brigham in Berne, Switzerland. During the invasions of Poland, Norway and France and now in North Africa there were a few articles written with bylines like with the British Forces or even with the German Army. (Example: Look up Harold Denny in the index on my profile. That guy likes to show up where the action is.) During Barbarossa there may not be any stories filed by journalists embedded with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army. The Germans wont be eager for the outside world to learn about some of their policies related treatment of civilians in occupied territory and the Red Army is too busy trying to survive to accommodate foreign newspaper men. Thus, Berne. I guess neutral Switzerland serves as a sort of international clearing house for information from the Eastern Front. It will be interesting to see how accurate and/or timely the news is from that source.
Day 661 June 22, 1941
Operation Barbarossa. At 4.15 AM, Germany invades USSR, breaking their non-aggression agreement, in the largest military operation ever. 3.5 million German and Romanian troops (with 3,350 tanks, 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses) cross the border along an 1800 mile front from East Prussia on the Baltic Sea, Poland in the middle and Romania on the Black Sea. Soviet border troops have some warning of the attack but they are overwhelmed. Soviet response is weak due to poor communications and dispositions which hold the main Soviet forces back from the border. Using classic blitzkrieg tactics, Luftwaffe bombs supply dumps, railways and airfields. 2000 Soviet aircraft are destroyed neatly lined up on the ground for the loss of 35 Luftwaffe aircraft. Stalin is paralysed by the attack and, at 11 PM, Foreign Minister Molotov addresses the Soviet people.
At 3.29 AM 100 miles off the North coast of Ireland, U-141 sinks neutral Swedish SS Calabria (3 dead and 21 survivors escape in a lifeboat). At 10.36 PM 550 miles East of St. Johns, Newfoundland, U-77 sinks British SS Arakara being used as a weather ship (all 33 crew and 12 Royal Navy meteorologists lost).
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