- Gebundene Ausgabe: 542 Seiten
- Verlag: Helion & Company (15. November 2012)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1908916508
- ISBN-13: 978-1908916501
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 3,8 x 23,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 453.730 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Viaz'ma Catastrophe, 1941: The Red Army's Disastrous Stand Against Operation Typhoon (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. November 2012
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Lev Nikolaevich Lopukhovsky graduated from the prestigious Frunze Military Academy in 1962 and spent the next ten years serving in the Soviet Union's Strategic Rocket forces, rising to the rank of colonel and a regiment commander, before transferring to a
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This very sentiment was first expressed nearly two years ago when describing "Demolishing the Myth" by Valeriy Zamulin but it also exactly describes "The Viazma Catastrophe, 1941" for the two books and authors have many comparable attributes: both authors spent many years researching, verifying material and writing their books; both researchers had access to material not readily available to the public; both authors have a firm grasp of tactics and can express battlefield operations succinctly as well as analyze the results of those battlefield actions. Both authors can also empathize with the key commanders and can describe accurately the thoughts and motives of those commanders as they prosecute the battle; they also have the ability to hunt down and assemble material from different sources describing the same event or happenstance, allowing the reader to have a more well rounded experience. Both books were also translated by the same person, Stuart Britton, and he did a marvelous job of converting a complex Russian text into an enjoyable, understandable English narrative.
The book begins not in October but on June 22nd with the invasion of the Soviet Union. This brief overview describes the strategic advantages the Germans had at the beginning and garnered over the first few days of the invasion. It also covers the unpreparedness of the Red army and its front line defenses as well as the inability to cope with the scale and voracity of the attack all along the line, even if they were better prepared. Coverage then jumps to August where the Soviets begin to slow the Germans along the Dukhovshchina-Elina line with a number of fanatical counter-attacks, culminating in reducing the Elnia salient.
With the stage set, Chapter three begins the actual coverage of Operation Typhoon when Guderian's 2nd PzG launches in the last days of September in the general northeast direction between Briansk and Orel against the tired Bryansk Front commanded by General Eremenko. In the opening pages of this chapter, the disposition of enemy forces are disclosed with intended objectives enumerated. Colonel Lopukhovsky, using primary records of both sides then recreates the move by move process by which German armored spearheads smash through Soviet lines, foiling every major attempt of Eremenko in stopping the blitzkrieg. An explanation is provided for practically every decision and order covered. This format is seen throughout the entire book. The coverage is so good, so personal that you get a true feeling how desperate Eremenko felt when he had to deliver a situation report to Stalin, lying to save himself from execution.
Interjecting excerpts from war and personal diaries, orders, communiques and phone conversations the author supports his commentary as well as making the story more interesting. This empathy lasts throughout the remaining nearly 350 pages of the campaign as the pockets at Viazma and Briansk are erected and the trapped men fight fanatically for their survival. It was in a Viazma pocket that the author lost his dad and was the primary motive for researching this campaign; this campaign was very personal to the author and it shows.
In the closing pages of the book a discussion is made of the human costs of the initial weeks of this campaign to the Soviets. The calculations are dizzying and the results an not 100% conclusive but latest estimates are that even with as many as 200,000 soldiers avoiding entrapment that approximately 900,000 Soviets were killed, wounded or imprisoned. German casualties are then discussed; while the numbers are much less, they're still considerable. The author then extends his thinking on how these huge losses impacted the fighting closer to Moscow in November and how the Soviets were able to go on the offensive in early December.
In addition to the excellent narrative, the author provides an excellent map set that includes 19 well chosen tactical color maps that are chronologically displayed. The first maps include the difficult fighting along the Smolensk line of August and the counter-attack of the Elnia salient. The remaining maps cover the key attack sectors of Operation Typhoon through mid October. The maps support the text well and add considerably to the overall value of the book. The author includes map pointers to allow the reader to quickly find the right map though this feature could have been more liberally used. I personally would have liked to have seen one additional map. It would be a topographical map that was heavily populated with towns and villages; this map would aid the reader in following the battle action better when the combatants were fighting through small towns. There were a few instances where the capture of small towns were discussed but couldn't be followed easily because they were missing from the maps. I admit my obsession to this mapping feature; it shouldn't be a major problem for most readers.
Besides the maps a photo gallery of nearly 60 photos shows key officers as well as some battle scenes.
Another useful feature in addition to the seven tables running throughout the narrative is a 20 part Appendix that includes comparative strengths of different categories, various losses sustained as well as key documents and orders pertinent to this campaign. There is also a German Unit Organization description but no Order of Battle.
The book closes with a competent Notes Section, Bibliography and Index.
For anybody who likes to read a detailed operational study on the order of a Glantz or Zamulin presentation then this book should definitely be considered. In fact this book would be the perfect extension to David Glantz's two volume set, "Barbarossa Derailed" for it takes up where Barbarossa ends. Its a great read, highly detailed and highly recommended.
But it is the author’s exploration of human dimension of combat and his long-lasting search for his father’s fate that truly distinguishes this book. He offers expert perspective on strategy and tactics at different levels and re-creates every aspect of this dramatic struggle. This study provides comprehensive coverage of the operational events before, during Typhoon, and even a little bit after the last moments of this operation. Besides land operations, even the air situation is adequately covered almost in all chapters.
Once again, as in the case of Mrs. Gherasimova’s book (“Rzhev slaughterhouse”), the author included critical analysis of his personal struggle with official historians about revealing the true extent of Russian losses during this battle and the results of some inept decisions. Necessarily the tome extends beyond the limits of the book’s subject and the author mentioned the serious obstacles that accompanied his 40-plus years of research.
Obviously, Mr. Lopukhovsky is a good and meticulously researcher. But I would remiss if, in praising this book, I also do not point out a few minor shortcomings. The first observations refer to comparative tables between Soviet tank and German panzer Division (useless in my opinion since both sides fought with depleted units most of the war) and available tanks in the Panzer groups of AGC for Operation Typhoon (which shows the operational tanks on September 9, 1941!), thus long before the initiation of Typhoon (and even before the completion of Kiev battle).
I doubt the part with German strength – over 1,9 million, since it included many irrelevant personnel and the figures for tanks (over 1700, the highest estimate that I found in all books) and aircraft. Between 1-20 October 1941, the Germans suffered minor casualties (57.000 troops but for the whole operation they lost 145.000 troops) and therefore could have little impact on subsequent combat actions if such figure was correct. This subject is intriguing and raised controversial questions at least in the last books dedicated to this operation (Zetterling/Anders, Stahel). On the other hand, the book doesn’t say very much about the Soviet reinforcements during the battle - estimated at over 250.000 troops in some books, plus tanks.
These shortcomings aside, due to its enormous coverage, this work has set the standard for information about Operation Typhoon at least for the Russian side.
Finally, in the conclusion chapter (part 7:“The dimensions of the defeat”), the author accuses the USSR leadership of the catastrophe at Viazma and Briansk; moreover, they are also responsible for his father’s death. Not spared for criticism are also those tasked with archives and history officials responsible with editing some controversial books (among them G.F. Krivosheev) and “political orders”. Moreover, in this chapter, full of casualty figures, the author detailed and provide a complete synthesis of recent revelations about Soviet losses in this operation and others.
Besides an extensive text (8 chapters, averaging 50-60 pages apiece), the book’s strength is its 19 color maps (some from D. Glantz’s Atlas) that provide a remarkably detailed guide to the combat operations, complemented by 66 nice photos, 20 appendices, 7 tables and the usual notes and index section.
Carefully researched, detailed and vividly illustrated (plus again the fine translation of S. Britton) this book is a groundbreaking survey which is likely to set a new standard for future studies of operational combat on Eastern Front. I am sure anyone who read this book will enjoy doing so. Highly recommended!
The author also provides insight into why some Soviet military records should be reviewed with caution, even today. For instance, he offers a detailed critique of the Krivosheev loss numbers for the Soviet military, explaining why they are too low, and the reasons for it.