German soldiers about the Soviet. 1941 through the eyes of the Germans
What was a Soviet soldier in the eyes of his enemy – a German soldier? What did the beginning of the war look like from the trenches of the Germans? Very eloquent answers to these questions can be found in the book, the author of which cannot be blamed for distorting the facts.
This is “1941 through the eyes of the Germans. Birch crosses instead of iron ”by the English historian Robert Kershaw, which was recently published in Russia. The book consists almost entirely of the memoirs of German soldiers and officers, their letters home and entries in personal diaries.
Gunner of anti-tank guns
During the attack we stumbled upon a light Russian tank T-26, we immediately destroyed it directly from the 37-mm gun. When we began to approach, a Russian leaned out of the hatch of the tower to the waist and opened fire on us with a pistol. It soon became clear that he was without legs, they were torn off when the tank was hit. And despite this, he fired at us with a pistol!
Hank Becker, 12th Panzer Division Enlisted
On the Eastern Front, I met people who can be called a special race. Already the first attack turned into a battle not for life, but for death.
Tankmen Army Group Center
We almost did not take prisoners, because the Russians always fought to the last soldier. They did not give up. Their hardening cannot be compared with ours …
Major General Hoffmann von Waldau
The quality level of Soviet pilots is much higher than expected … Fierce resistance, its mass character do not correspond to our initial assumptions.
The army of the USSR is surrounded
The most successful actions of the Wehrmacht troops were the operation to encircle and defeat Soviet divisions in the “boilers” of 1941. In the largest of them – Kiev, Minsk, Vyazemsky – Soviet troops lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers and officers. But what price did the Wehrmacht pay for this?
General Gunther Blumentritt, Chief of Staff of the 4th Army: “The behavior of the Russians, even in the first battle, was strikingly different from the behavior of the Poles and allies who were defeated on the Western Front. Even being in the circle of encirclement, the Russians stubbornly defended themselves. ”
The author of the book writes: “The experience of the Polish and Western campaigns suggested that the success of the blitzkrieg strategy was to gain advantages by more skillful maneuvering. Even if you leave the resources outside the brackets, morale and the will to resist the enemy will inevitably be broken under the pressure of enormous and meaningless losses. From here logically follows the mass surrender of those who were surrounded by demoralized soldiers. In Russia, these “elementary” truths were turned upside down by a desperate, sometimes reaching fanaticism, Russian resistance in seemingly hopeless situations. That is why half of the Germans’ offensive potential did not go to advance towards the set goal, but to consolidate the existing successes. ”
The commander of the Army Group Center, Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, during an operation to destroy Soviet troops in the Smolensk “cauldron” wrote about their attempts to break out of the encirclement: “Very significant success for the enemy who received such a crushing blow!” The ring of encirclement was not continuous. Two days later, von Bock lamented: “So far, it has not been possible to close the gap in the eastern section of the Smolensk boiler.” That night, approximately 5 Soviet divisions managed to get out of the encirclement. Three more divisions broke through the next day.
Winter of the 41st
The proverb “Better three French campaigns than one Russian” was quickly adopted by German troops. “Here we lacked comfortable French beds and were struck by the monotony of the area.” “The prospect of being in Leningrad turned into an endless sitting in numbered trenches.”
The high losses of the Wehrmacht, the lack of winter uniforms and the unpreparedness of German equipment for military operations in the conditions of the Russian winter gradually allowed the Soviet troops to seize the initiative. Over the three-week period from November 15 to December 5, 1941, the Russian Air Force made 15,840 sorties, while the Luftwaffe only 3,500, which further demoralized the enemy.
Corporal Fritz Siegel wrote in his letter home on December 6:
“My God, what did these Russians plan to do with us? It would be nice if up there at least they listened to us, otherwise we all will have to die here. “
“Немецкие солдаты о советских” Translation into English by Apolon