The Draft Operational Plan East of Major-General Marcks

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The Draft Operational Plan East of Major-General Marcks

Post by michael mills » 05 Jan 2003 06:24

In early August 1940, Major-General Erich Marcks prepared a plan for an invasion of Russia, called "Draft Operational Plan East".

One particular sentence in that plan is often quoted as proof that the German military leaders knew that the Soviet Union had no intention of launching an offensive against Germany. That sentence reads: "The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking".

It is useful to look at the context of that sentence, to see what Marcks really meant.

The introduction of the "Draft Operational Plan East" reads (Source: Barry Leach, "German Strategy Against Russia 1939-1941", Appendix I, pp. 250-254):

The purpose of the campaign is to strike the Russian Armed Forces and to make Russia incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future [my emphasis]. In order to protect Germany against Russian bombers Russia must be occupied to the line lower Don - central Volga - north Dnieper. The main centres of the Russian war economy lie in the food- and raw-material-producing areas of the Ukraine and Donets Basin and the armament industries of Moscow and Leningrad. The eastern industrial regions are not yet productive enough.

Of these areas Moscow constitutes the economic, political, and spiritual centre of the USSR. Its capture would destroy the coordination of the Russian state.


As is obvious, Marcks, reflecting the view of the German military leaders, regarded an invasion of the Soviet Union, as essentially a defensive act, to prevent the Soviet Union from attacking Germany at some time in the near future. His plan is a contingency plan, for implementation if circumstances require it, ie if the Soviet Union shows signs of entering the war as an opponent of Germany, ie attacking Germany.

Marcks goes on to describe the war zone. Then comes the crucial part:

Enemy:
The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking. We must expect that the Russian Army will remain on the defensive against us and that only the Air Force and the Navy, namely the submarine arm, will attack. Russia will wage war by means of a blockade. For this purpose a Russian breakthrough into Rumania seems probable, in order to deprive us of oil. At the very least, strong air attacks on the Rumanian airfields must be expected.

On the other hand, the Russians cannot avoid a decision as they did in 1812. Modern armed forces of 100 divisions cannot abandon their sources of supply. It is to be expected that the Russian Army will stand to do battle in a defensive position protecting greater Russia and in the eastern Ukraine. It will find a good defensive position on the line Dvina as far as the Plozk - Beresina - the Pripet Marsh - Zbrutsch - Pruth or Dniester. This line is already partly fortified. A withdrawal to the Dnieper is also possible. In front of this line the Russians will probably fight delaying actions only.


It is obvious that Marcks is here assessing the Red Army's reaction to a German invasion. Since the German strategic aim was to prevent a future military threat from the Soviet Union (a probability given Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe), the aim of any invasion was to engage the Soviet forces and destroy them at the outset. What might frustrate that aim would be a rapid withdrawal of the Red Army into the interior of the Soviet Union, out of German reach, where it would continue to constitute a threat. The aim of Marcks is to determine whether the Red Army will stand and fight, enabling the German Army to destroy it, or whether it will retreat, as the Russian Army did in 1812.

Marcks' conclusion is that the Red Army would try to avoid an engagement with the invading German forces, in order to preserve itself; that is what he means when he says "the Russians will not do us the favour of attacking". He concludes that while the land forces would try to avoid engaging the German invaders, the air force and submarine force would launch attacks. He sees the main Soviet reaction not as a counter-attack on the German invasion force, but as an invasion of Rumania to cut off Germany's oil supply.

However, he also concludes that the Red Army would not be able to retreat, because it would not be able to leave its sources of supply. Therefore it would stand and fight, implying that Germany would therefore be able to achieve its aim of destroying it.

The words used by Marcks do not mean that the German military leaders did not see the Soviet Union as posing a military threat, as German leftist historians falsely interpret them. In fact, his introduction to his study show explicitly that a Soviet attack on Germany was seen as a distinct possibility, one that might need to be prevented by a prior German attack on the Soviet Union to destroy it as a military threat.

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Re: The Draft Operational Plan East of Major-General Marcks

Post by savantu » 05 Jan 2003 11:18

michael mills wrote:In early August 1940, Major-General Erich Marcks prepared a plan for an invasion of Russia, called "Draft Operational Plan East".

One particular sentence in that plan is often quoted as proof that the German military leaders knew that the Soviet Union had no intention of launching an offensive against Germany. That sentence reads: "The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking".

It is useful to look at the context of that sentence, to see what Marcks really meant.

The introduction of the "Draft Operational Plan East" reads (Source: Barry Leach, "German Strategy Against Russia 1939-1941", Appendix I, pp. 250-254):

The purpose of the campaign is to strike the Russian Armed Forces and to make Russia incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future [my emphasis]. In order to protect Germany against Russian bombers Russia must be occupied to the line lower Don - central Volga - north Dnieper. The main centres of the Russian war economy lie in the food- and raw-material-producing areas of the Ukraine and Donets Basin and the armament industries of Moscow and Leningrad. The eastern industrial regions are not yet productive enough.

Of these areas Moscow constitutes the economic, political, and spiritual centre of the USSR. Its capture would destroy the coordination of the Russian state.


As is obvious, Marcks, reflecting the view of the German military leaders, regarded an invasion of the Soviet Union, as essentially a defensive act, to prevent the Soviet Union from attacking Germany at some time in the near future. His plan is a contingency plan, for implementation if circumstances require it, ie if the Soviet Union shows signs of entering the war as an opponent of Germany, ie attacking Germany.

Marcks goes on to describe the war zone. Then comes the crucial part:

Enemy:
The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking. We must expect that the Russian Army will remain on the defensive against us and that only the Air Force and the Navy, namely the submarine arm, will attack. Russia will wage war by means of a blockade. For this purpose a Russian breakthrough into Rumania seems probable, in order to deprive us of oil. At the very least, strong air attacks on the Rumanian airfields must be expected.

On the other hand, the Russians cannot avoid a decision as they did in 1812. Modern armed forces of 100 divisions cannot abandon their sources of supply. It is to be expected that the Russian Army will stand to do battle in a defensive position protecting greater Russia and in the eastern Ukraine. It will find a good defensive position on the line Dvina as far as the Plozk - Beresina - the Pripet Marsh - Zbrutsch - Pruth or Dniester. This line is already partly fortified. A withdrawal to the Dnieper is also possible. In front of this line the Russians will probably fight delaying actions only.


It is obvious that Marcks is here assessing the Red Army's reaction to a German invasion. Since the German strategic aim was to prevent a future military threat from the Soviet Union (a probability given Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe), the aim of any invasion was to engage the Soviet forces and destroy them at the outset. What might frustrate that aim would be a rapid withdrawal of the Red Army into the interior of the Soviet Union, out of German reach, where it would continue to constitute a threat. The aim of Marcks is to determine whether the Red Army will stand and fight, enabling the German Army to destroy it, or whether it will retreat, as the Russian Army did in 1812.

Marcks' conclusion is that the Red Army would try to avoid an engagement with the invading German forces, in order to preserve itself; that is what he means when he says "the Russians will not do us the favour of attacking". He concludes that while the land forces would try to avoid engaging the German invaders, the air force and submarine force would launch attacks. He sees the main Soviet reaction not as a counter-attack on the German invasion force, but as an invasion of Rumania to cut off Germany's oil supply.

However, he also concludes that the Red Army would not be able to retreat, because it would not be able to leave its sources of supply. Therefore it would stand and fight, implying that Germany would therefore be able to achieve its aim of destroying it.

The words used by Marcks do not mean that the German military leaders did not see the Soviet Union as posing a military threat, as German leftist historians falsely interpret them. In fact, his introduction to his study show explicitly that a Soviet attack on Germany was seen as a distinct possibility, one that might need to be prevented by a prior German attack on the Soviet Union to destroy it as a military threat.


The VVS bombed Berlin in 1941 and the oil refineries at Ploiesti.The Ploiesti attack happened just days after the Barbarossa was launched.Hmmm...Interesting densive actions from the VVS. :roll:

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Re: The Draft Operational Plan East of Major-General Marcks

Post by Roberto » 06 Jan 2003 13:01

michael mills wrote:In early August 1940, Major-General Erich Marcks prepared a plan for an invasion of Russia, called "Draft Operational Plan East".

One particular sentence in that plan is often quoted as proof that the German military leaders knew that the Soviet Union had no intention of launching an offensive against Germany. That sentence reads: "The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking".


Who is it that "often" quotes this sentence in this sense?

It's the first time I see it - but then, I'm not so well-read.

michael mills wrote:It is useful to look at the context of that sentence, to see what Marcks really meant.

The introduction of the "Draft Operational Plan East" reads (Source: Barry Leach, "German Strategy Against Russia 1939-1941", Appendix I, pp. 250-254):

The purpose of the campaign is to strike the Russian Armed Forces and to make Russia incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future [my emphasis]. In order to protect Germany against Russian bombers Russia must be occupied to the line lower Don - central Volga - north Dnieper. The main centres of the Russian war economy lie in the food- and raw-material-producing areas of the Ukraine and Donets Basin and the armament industries of Moscow and Leningrad. The eastern industrial regions are not yet productive enough.

Of these areas Moscow constitutes the economic, political, and spiritual centre of the USSR. Its capture would destroy the coordination of the Russian state.


As is obvious, Marcks, reflecting the view of the German military leaders, regarded an invasion of the Soviet Union, as essentially a defensive act, to prevent the Soviet Union from attacking Germany at some time in the near future.


The view of what German military leaders?

The Gröfaz ("Grösster Feldherr aller Zeiten" = "Greatest Commander of All Times") doesn’t seem to have been one of them.

Hitler on 29 July 1940, according to Halder’s diary: (Max Domarus, Hitler Reden 1932-1945, Volume 3, page 1565):

[...]Englands Hoffunung ist Rußland und Amerika. Wenn Hoffnung auf Rußland wegfällt, fällt auch Amerika weg, weil Wegfall Rußlands eine Aufwertung Japans in Ostasien in ungeheurem Maß verfolgt. Rußland ostasiatischer Degen Englands und Amerikas gegen Japan. Hier für England unangenehmer Wind. Japaner haben ihr Programm wie Rußland, das vor Kriegsende noch erledigt werden soll.
Der russische Siegesfilm über russischen Krieg! Rußland Faktor, auf den England am meisten setzt. Irgend etwas ist in London geschehen! Die Engländer waren schon ganz down, nun sind sie wieder aufgerichtet. Abgehörte Gespräche. Rußland unangenehm berührt von schneller Entwicklung der westeuropäischen Lage.
Rußland braucht England nie mehr sagen, als daß es Deutschland nicht groß haben will, dann hofft Engländer wie ein Ertrinkender, daß in 6 -8 Monaten die Sache ganz anders sein wird. Ist aber Rußland zerschlagen, dann ist Englands letzte Hoffnung getilgt. Der Herr Europas und des Balkans ist dann Deutschland.
Entschluß: Im Zuge dieser Auseinandersetzung muß Rußland erledigt werden. Frühjahr 41. Je schneller wir Rußland zerschlagen, um so besser. Operation hat nur Sinn, wenn wir Staat in einem Zug schwer zerschlagen. Gewisser Raumgewinn allein genügt nicht. Stillstehen im Winter bedenklich. Daher besser warten, aber bestimmter Entschluß, Rußland zu erledigen. Notwendig auch wegen Lage an der Ostsee. 2. Großstaat an der Ostsee nicht brauchbar: Mai 41. 5 Monate Zeit zur Durchführung. Am liebsten noch in diesem Jahre. Geht aber nicht, um Operation einheitlich durchzuführen.
Ziel: Vernichtung der Lebenskraft Rußlands. Zerlegen in:
1. Stoß Kiew, Anlehnung an Dnjepr. Luftwaffe zerstört Übergänge Odessa.
2. Stoß Randstaaten mit Richtung Moskau.
Schließlich Zusammenfassung aus Norden und Süden. Später Teiloperation auf Ölgebiet Baku. Inwieweit man Finnland und Türkei interessiert, wird man sehen. Später: Ukraine, Weißrußland, Baltische Staaten an uns. Finnland bis ans Weiße Meer.
7 Div. Norwegen (autark machen!) Mun.
50 Div. Frankreich
3 Div. Holland, Belgien
__________________
60 Div
120 Div. für Osten
______________
180 Divisionen.
Mit je mehr Verbänden wir kommen, um so besser. Wir haben 120 plus 20 Urlaubsdiv. Aufstellung durch Herausziehen eines Btls. aus jeder Div. Nach wenigen Monaten wieder ein Btl. pp. in 3 Abschnitten aus den Divn. 1/3 herausziehen.
Tarnen: Spanien, Nordafrika, England, Neuaufstellung in luftgeschütz[ten] Räumen.
Neuaufstellungen: Im Ostraum 40 Divn. aus kampferprobten Mannschaften. Ausführungen über gedachte Regelung Balkan: Gedachte Regelung Ungarn/Rumänien. Dann Garantie Rumänien.[...]


My translation:

[...]England’s hope is Russia and America. If hope on Russia vanishes, America will vanish as well, because the removal of Russia will lead to an enormous strengthening of Japan’s position in the Far East. Russia is the East Asian dagger of England and America against Japan. Here a wind unpleasant for England is blowing. The Japanese have their program like Russia, which is to be finished before the end of the war. [translator’s note: it is not clear whether Hitler/Halder was referring to a Russian "program" or to Russia itself]
The Russian victory film about a Russian war! Russia is the factor that England is most strongly counting on. Something has happened in London! The English were already completely down, Now they are back on their feet. Intercepted conversations. Russia unpleasantly disturbed by the swift development in Western Europe.
Russia needs only to hint to England that she does not wish to see Germany too strong and the English, like a drowning man, will regain hope that the situation in six to eight months will have completely changed. But if Russia is smashed, Britain’s last hope will be shattered. Then Germany will be master of Europe and the Balkans.
Decision: In the course of this confrontation Russia must be finished off. Spring of 41. The faster Russia is beaten apart, the better.
[my emphasis] The operation only makes sense if we severely beat the state apart in one blow. A certain gain of territory is not sufficient. Standing still in the winter is not recommendable. Thus it is better to wait, but there is the firm decision to finish off Russia[my emphasis] This is necessary also due to the situation in the Baltic. A second huge power on the Baltic is of no use: May 1941. Five months’ time for carrying out. Preferably still in this year, but this is not possible if the operation is to be carried out uniformly.
Goal: Destruction of the Russia’s capacity to exist. To be divided into:
3. Thrust toward Kiev, advance along the Dnjepr. Air force destroys river crossings. Odessa.
4. Thrust through the periphery states in the direction of Moscow.
Finally joining forces from North and South. Later partial operation against the Baku oil region. To what extent Finland and Turkey are to be interested will be seen. Later: Ukraine, Belorussia, Baltic States for us. Finland up to the White Sea.
7 divisions Norway (make self-sufficient!) Mun.[?]
50 divisions France
3 divisions Holland, Belgium
__________________
60 divisions
120 divisions for the East
______________
180 divisions
The more units we come with, the better. We have 120 plus 20 leave divisions. Constitution by pulling one battalion out of each division. After a few months again a battalion will be pulled out in three sections from 1/3 of divisions.
Concealment: Spain, North Africa, England. [translator’s note: unclear what this means. Maybe reference to feigning that new divisions will be used in Spain, North Africa and for attack on England] Constitution of new units in areas air-protected areas. [i.e. presumably areas safe from aerial observation, translator's note]
Constitution of new units: In the eastern area 40 divisions of combat-experienced troops. Exposition about intended regulation for the Balkans: Intended regulation Hungary/Rumania. Then guarantee to Rumania.[...]


Not much here about the invasion of the Soviet Union being “essentially a defensive act”, as I see it.

And it neither sounds like a mere “contingency plan”.

Nothing either about a Soviet threat of any sort.

Why go looking for the considerations of one of the saints in a draft, when we have the final words of the Führer himself?

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Post by michael mills » 09 Jan 2003 07:01

Why go looking for the considerations of one of the saints in a draft, when we have the final words of the Führer himself?


Actually, they are not Hitler's words, but rather Halder's, summarising his interpretation of what Hitler said, and recorded in his "Kriegstagebuch" (war diary).

Here is what Leach says about Halder's war diary (p. 8):

These War Diaries also reveal the progress of the military strategic planning for the attack on Russia. However, it must be pointed out that General Halder's volumes were not written as diaries but were books of notes summarizing each day's work and recording matters requiring further attention. These entries are abbreviated, often tantalizingly vague, and occasionally misleading. Even when opinions of situations are recorded it is sometimes difficult to make out whether they are those of Halder or of someone else. Dr Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, the editor of the published version, has endeavoured, with General Halder's help, to clarify such entries. But his footnotes sometimes tend to give an interpretation more favourable to the reputation of the General Staff and its former chief than is justified by the entries themselves or by evidence from other sources.


That being said, Halder's notes of the meeting with Hitler on 29 July 1941, are probably a fairly accurate summation of Hitler's analysis of the strategic situation. It is wrong to say that the Soviet Union is not seen as a threat. It is obviously seen as a future ally of Britain against Germany, and as a force that is currently helping Britain to keep fightinh, in order to prevent Germany gaining a decisive victory.

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Post by Roberto » 09 Jan 2003 14:07

michael mills wrote:That being said, Halder's notes of the meeting with Hitler on 29 July 1941, are probably a fairly accurate summation of Hitler's analysis of the strategic situation. It is wrong to say that the Soviet Union is not seen as a threat.


The context of my statement should have made clear that I was referring to a threat in the sense of "attacking Germany at some time in the near future".

michael mills wrote:It is obviously seen as a future ally of Britain against Germany, and as a force that is currently helping Britain to keep fightinh, in order to prevent Germany gaining a decisive victory.


The presence of which is currently helping Britain to keep fighting, etc.:

[...]Russia needs only to hint to England that she does not wish to see Germany too strong and the English, like a drowning man, will regain hope that the situation in six to eight months will have completely changed.[...]

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Post by michael mills » 27 Jan 2003 02:04

In my original message on this thread, I wrote that the words of Major-General Marcks "the Russians will not do us the favour of attacking" are often used out of context by the German historiographical establishment, which today is heavily leftist, for the purpose of "proving" that the German Government had no fear of Soviet aggression, and that hence the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 was in no way a preventive war.

Here are two examples of such distortion, bot from the book "From Peace to War", edited by Bernd Wegner (a translation of the German original "Zwei Wege nach Moskau").

The first is from the essay by Juergen Foerster, "Hitler Turns East - German War Policy in 1940 and 1941". On page 121 of the book he writes:

This decisive meeting to discuss the war [Obersalzberg, 31 July 1939] is significant for three reasons. First, neither during the meeting nor afterwards were there 'profound objections to the fundamental decision and later the plan of operations as a whole' which could in any way be compared to events leading up to the war against France. This all the more astonishing since only the previous day Brauchitsch and Halder had been considering continuing Russo-German cooperation on a worldwide scale. Nonetheless, Hitler's desire to secure German hegemony in Europe by crushing the Soviet Union reflected similar considerations within the Army's Command. There was a general consensus on their perception of Soviet intentions. They ruled out an offensive against Germany by the formations of the Red Army that had been moved close to the border. On the contrary, Generalmajor Erich Marcks, who drafted the first plan of operations after Hitler's order of 21 July 1940, lamented the fact that the Russians would not do the Germans 'the favour of attacking'. Thus, it is clear that the extension by the Soviets of their strategic glacis to the west and south-west in the summer of 1940 - encouraged by the agreement signed the previous year with their ideological adversary - was not the impetus for German plans to attack the Soviet Union.


The other example is in the study by the late Andreas Hillgruber, "The German Military Leaders' View of Russia prior to the Attack on the Soviet Union". On page 173 he writes:

In his 'study', completed in five days, Marcks assumed that the 'Russians.....will not do us a favour by attacking us'. (Thus he not only, in July 1940, saw no military threat whatsoever to Germany from the East, but also regretted, for operational reasons, that the Soviets would not mount an offensive).


Thus, both Foerster and Hillgruber use the words of Marcks as support for the contention that Germany did not fear an offensive by the Soviet Union.

However, when we check Marcks' "Draft Operational Plan East", it becomes immediately obvious that both Foerster and Hillgruber have dishonestly omitted words by Marcks that prove the opposite of that contention.

At the very beginning of his plan, Marcks defined its purpose:

The purpose of the campaign is to strike the Russian Armed Forces and to make Russia incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future.


Accordingly, the purpose of an attack on the Soviet Union, prepared as a contingency, was definitely preventive; to prevent a future attack by the Soviet Union against Germany. That purpose shows that the German Government did fear the possibility of the Soviet Union entering the war against Germany at some time in the future, in which case the eastward movement of the Soviet Union in 1940 and the massing of the Red Army on the frontier would provide it with the springboard for an attack on Germany, even if not in 1940. That is contrary to the false conclusions drawn by Foerster and Hillgruber.

Secondly, immediately after his sentence "The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking", Marcks went on to write:

We must assume that the Russian Army will remain on the defensive against us and that only the Air Force and Navy, namely the submarine arm, will attack. Russia will wage war by means of a blockade. For this purpose a Russian breakthrough into Rumania seems probable, in order to deprive us of oil. At the very least, strong air attacks on the Rumanian fields must be expected.


It is obvious, therefore, that when Marcks' words are put in the context of the whole passage, they do not mean that the German Government did not fear an attack by the Soviet Union at all. Rather, Marcks was saying that the Soviet army, ie its land forces, would not attack Germany directly, into East Prussia and into the Generalgouvernment, where Germany had strong defensive forces, but would attack Rumania in order to cut Germany off from its oil supply and hence defeat it through depriving it of the means to wage war. That is, the Soviet Union would defeat Germany by blockade, the word expressly used by Marcks.

Thus, what Marcks wrote does not show that the German Government did not fear an offensive by the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it shows that the German Government did fear and expect such an offensive; not one directly into Germany, but one into Rumania, where German defences were weak and its strategic position was very vulnerable.

It is therefore clear that both Foerster and Hillgruber have dishonestly distorted the words of Marcks, obviously for a political purpose related to the necessity to present the National Socialist government of Germany as the absolute evil and the malicious and sole aggressor in all cases.

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Post by Roberto » 28 Jan 2003 17:24

michael mills wrote:Thus, what Marcks wrote does not show that the German Government did not fear an offensive by the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it shows that the German Government did fear and expect such an offensive; not one directly into Germany, but one into Rumania, where German defences were weak and its strategic position was very vulnerable.


Why, I didn’t know General Marcks was “the German Government”. I thought the head of state was a certain Adolf Hitler, whose utterances on 31 July 1940, recorded by Halder and quoted in my post of Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:01 pm on this thread, don’t exactly betray any concern about a Soviet offensive move.

Just how and in which respect the Führer felt threatened also becomes apparent from his statements on 9 January 1941, one day before the signature of another trade agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. A rendering of Hitler’s statements on the afternoon of that day is transcribed as follows on page 1653 of volume 4 of Max Domarus’ collection Hitler Reden und Proklamationen 1932-1945:

[…]Was England aufrechterhalte, sei die Hoffnung auf die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika und auf Sowjetrußland, denn die Vernichtung des englischen Mutterlandes sei mit der Zeit unausbleiblich. England hoffe aber durchzuhalten, bis es einen großen kontinentalen Block gegen Deutschland zusammengebracht habe. Die diplomatischen Vorbereitungen hierzu seien klar zu erkennen.
Stalin, der Herr Rußlands, sei ein kluger Kopf; er werde nicht offen gegen Deutschland auftreten, man müsse aber damit rechnen, daß er in für Deutschland schwierigen Situationen in wachsendem Maße Schwierigkeiten machen werde. Er wolle das Erbe des verarmten Europas antreten, habe auch Erfolge nötig und sei von dem Drange nach Westen beseelt. Er sei sich auch völlig klar darüber, daß nach einem vollen Siege Deutschlands die Lage der Sowjetunion sehr schwierig sein würde.
Die Möglichkeit eines russischen Eingreifens in den Krieg halte die Engländer aufrecht. Sie würden das Rennen erst aufgeben, wenn diese letzte kontinentale Hoffnung zertrümmert sei. Er glaube nicht, daß die Engländer “sinnlos toll” seien; wenn sie keine Möglichkeit mehr sähen, den Krieg zu gewinnen, dann würden sie aufhören. Denn wenn sie den Krieg verlören, würden sie nicht mehr die Kraft haben, das Empire zusammenzuhalten. Wenn sie sich aber halten und 40 bis 50 Divisionen aufstellen können und die USA und Rußland ihnen helfen, dann würde für Deutschland eine sehr ernste Lage entstehen. Das dürfe nicht geschehen.
Bisher habe er nach dem Grundsatz gehandelt, immer die wichtigsten feindlichen Positionen zu zerschlagen, um einen Schritt weiterzukommen. Daher müsse nunmehr Rußland zerschlagen werden. Entweder gäben die Engländer dann nach oder Deutschland würde den Kampf gegen Großbritannien unter günstigsten Umständen weiterführen. Die Zertrümmerung Rußlands würde es auch Japan ermöglichen, sich mit allen Kräften gegen die USA zu wenden. Das würde die letzteren vom Kriegseintritt abhalten.[…]


My translation, in which for better understanding I don’t use the indirect speech formulations of the original:

[…]What keeps England upright is the hope for the United States of America and Soviet Russia, for the destruction of the English motherland will be unavoidable in time. England hopes to hold out, however, until it has put together a huge continental block against Germany. The diplomatic preparations for this are clearly to be seen.
Stalin, Russia’s master, is a clever fellow. He will not take an open stand against Germany, but it must be expected that in situations difficult for Germany he will increasingly make difficulties.[my emphasis] He wants to become the heir of an impoverished Europe, is also in need of success and inspired by a drive westward. He is also fully conscious that after a full German victory the situation of the Soviet Union will be very difficult.
The possibility of a Russian intervention in the war is what keeps the English upright. They will only give up the race when this last continental hope has been shattered. He [Hitler] does not think the English are “senselessly crazy”; if they no longer see a possibility of winning the war they will desist. For if they lose the war they will no longer have the strength to keep the Empire together. But if they hold out and can put together 40 to 50 divisions, and if the USA and Russia help them, a very difficult situation for Germany will come about. This must not happen.
Until now he has always acted after the principle of destroying the most important enemy positions in order to get one step further. Thus Russia must now be beaten apart. Either the English will give in thereafter, or Germany will continue the fight against Great Britain under the most favorable of conditions. The shattering of Russia will also enable Japan to turn all her forces against the USA. This will keep the latter from entering the war.[…]


How Hitler could have expected his “clever” counterpart to cause him difficulties in Romania without openly taking a stand against Germany is rather hard to understand in the face of the German guarantee of territorial integrity given to Rumania and German military buildup in that country for operations against first Greece and then the Soviet Union.

Alan Bullock (Hitler and Stalin. Parallel Lives., 1993 Fontana Press, London, page 770) wrote:[…]Between Germany and Greece lay four countries – Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia – whose compliance had to be secured before German armies could attack Greece. Hungary and Rumania were already German satellites and, during the winter of 1940-41, German troops, moving across Hungary, built up a task force in Rumania with a strength of 680,000 men[my emphasis].


michael mills wrote:It is therefore clear that both Foerster and Hillgruber have dishonestly distorted the words of Marcks, obviously for a political purpose related to the necessity to present the National Socialist government of Germany as the absolute evil and the malicious and sole aggressor in all cases.


Oh, those bad, bad "leftists".

Were they really as dishonest as Mills would like us to believe ?

General Marcks (courtesy of Michael Mills) wrote: The purpose of the campaign is to strike the Russian Armed Forces and to make Russia incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future [Mills’ emphasis – the context in which Russia was to be rendered "incapable of entering the war as an opponent of Germany in the foreseeable future", i.e. the perceived need to deprive Britain of its Russian “hope”, becomes apparent from Hitler’s quoted speeches of 31 July 1940 and 9 January 1941]. In order to protect Germany against Russian bombers Russia must be occupied to the line lower Don - central Volga - north Dnieper. The main centres of the Russian war economy lie in the food- and raw-material-producing areas of the Ukraine and Donets Basin and the armament industries of Moscow and Leningrad. The eastern industrial regions are not yet productive enough.

Of these areas Moscow constitutes the economic, political, and spiritual centre of the USSR. Its capture would destroy the coordination of the Russian state.

[…]

Enemy:
The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking. We must expect that the Russian Army will remain on the defensive against us and that only the Air Force and the Navy, namely the submarine arm, will attack.[my emphasis] Russia will wage war by means of a blockade. For this purpose a Russian breakthrough into Rumania seems probable, in order to deprive us of oil. At the very least, strong air attacks on the Rumanian airfields must be expected.

On the other hand, the Russians cannot avoid a decision as they did in 1812. Modern armed forces of 100 divisions cannot abandon their sources of supply. It is to be expected that the Russian Army will stand to do battle in a defensive position protecting greater Russia and in the eastern Ukraine.[my emphasis] It will find a good defensive position on the line Dvina as far as the Plozk - Beresina - the Pripet Marsh - Zbrutsch - Pruth or Dniester. This line is already partly fortified. A withdrawal to the Dnieper is also possible. In front of this line the Russians will probably fight delaying actions only.[…]


Did Marcks see the limited Soviet offensive moves he was referring to as reactions to a German attack or as resulting from Soviet initiative in the event of the Soviet Union “entering the war as an opponent of Germany” on the side of the British ?

The statement

We must expect that the Russian Army will remain on the defensive against us[my emphasis] and that only the Air Force and the Navy, namely the submarine arm, will attack.


clearly points to the former, as I see it. For what was the Russian Army supposed to “remain on the defensive against” while the Russian air force and navy attacked, other than a German attack ?

The statements in the last paragraph of the quoted passage, namely the one I highlighted, lend further weight to the interpretation that Marcks was referring to Russian reactions to a German attack - of which striking into Rumania and depriving the attackers of their fuel supplies would have been quite a logical one.

So it seems like Michael Mills is the one who is being disingenuous here, or at least that you have to be Michael Mills to accuse Hillgruber and Förster of having “dishonestly distorted the words of Marcks”.

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Post by Andreas » 03 Oct 2006 10:04

Does anyone know if the Marcks plan is available in its entirety online somewhere?

Thanks a lot.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Lkefct » 03 Oct 2006 15:12

Probably not what you are looking for, but the map view is here:
http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/eastfron ... ksplan.htm

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Post by Andreas » 04 Oct 2006 09:45

Thanks, I had seen that, but I would also like to see the whole plan if there is any possibility.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Delta Tank » 21 Dec 2006 19:36

To all,

A simple explanation maybe that since this was an Operational Plan Marcks had to include an assumptions paragraph.
The Russians will not do us the favour of attacking
This reads like an assumption.

In the US Army one of the differences between an OP PLAN and an OPORD (order) is the assumptions paragraph. The assumptions paragraph tell you what assumptions must be met in order to bring the OP PLAN into execution, namely it becomes an OPORD.

Just my thoughts on this, but I may be totally wrong, but everyone can now consider it. Any examples of other OP PLANS so we can compare styles/formats?

Mike

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Post by Bronsky » 02 Jan 2007 17:35

The extracts of the Marks plan quoted here - valuable information that it is - don't really constitute evidence about the Soviet military threat either way.

Marks is in no position to make grand strategic analyses or decisions, his brief is to come up with a plan to eliminate the Russian threat should it prove necessary.

So he first needs to examine what the threat consists of.

On the one hand, it was widely - and as it turned out accurately - believed that the Red Army was no match for the Wehrmacht, so he rules out the possibility of a Soviet attack against the Reich. Exit the "Icebreaker" scenario.

On the other hand, by 1941 Germany considers itself critically short of resources, particularly oil and foodstuffs, and only the "limitless resources available from Russia" can solve that predicament. Given that mindset, Marks is indulging in mirror-thinking and deciding that the Soviets will rely on blockade to win the war (which would indeed be an effective strategy), with active hostilities undertaken only by the Soviet submarines - there are a lot of them - and against Romania. The latter being both another example of mirror thinking (we are really afraid that the Soviets do it, so they're certainly planning to) and compatible with racial prejudices (Romanians are racially inferiors, therefore even the Soviets should be able to handle them). Plus of course the fact that Romania as the Achilles' heel of the German economy was well-known to military staffs worldwide.

The 1941 contest is that the Germans thought that they were on the brink of a serious economic crisis that only a fresh intake of resources would alleviate. They realize that trade with the Soviets couldn't go on forever, both because they didn't want to pay for what they got and because they realize that the Soviet Union was pursuing its own autarky / rearmament program which would eventually compete for resources with the German demands. Add a bit of racial theory to rationalize away figures indicating that Russian resources were not, in fact, limitless ("that's because the Jew-ridden subhumans are in charge, if we superior Germans run the place it will be far more productive") and you have an explosive cocktail.

There was little doubt in Germany that in the long term, the Soviet Union would (worst case) a threat to Germany or (best case) unwilling to play the role of economic colony of the Reich. As far as we know, there's no reason to doubt that German assessment.
Whether the Soviet Union was a short-term threat, however, we know was not true and the Germans couldn't know. Marks in particular couldn't have that information, but if told by his superiors that he must plan for a military solution he would naturally assume that they would have reasons to think that the Soviets did, indeed, have plans to initiate hostilities in the near future.

Therefore Marks' memorandum says nothing about the Soviet threat, except that the Germans didn't believe in the "Icebreaker" scenario of a conventional invasion.

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Post by michael mills » 03 Jan 2007 01:28

Correct.

The German Government did not believe in the "Icebreaker" scenario (ie an impending Soviet invasion of German-occupied Poland in the summer of 1941), but it did believe that if the Soviet Union did not definitively ally itself with Germany against Britain (as Hitler proposed to Stalin in December 1940) it would eventually ally itself with Britain against Germany. The scenario of a sudden invasion of Romania to cut off a vital part of Germany's oil supply, thereby blockading Germany into submission, is to be seen in the context of the Soviet Union joining Britain.

It was certainly Britain's intention to inveigle the Soviet Union into abandoning its position of neutrality and joining the war against Germany; that is what the mission of Sir Stafford Cripps to Moscow was all about. Stalin publicly rejected the British overtures, but in such a way as to leave open the option of joining the war against Germany at a later date, when the Soviet forces were fully prepared and Germany had grown weaker due to the British blockade.

The Soviet Union had been building up its military strength at a forced pace since 1939, with the aim of being superior to the German forces by the Spring of 1942. The success of that build-up is shown by the fact that by the summer of 1941 the Soviet Union already had more modern tanks than Germany did.

By the Spring of 1942, the Soviet armed forces would have had sufficient strength to successfully attack Germany, with thrusts into Romania and southern Poland. It is highly likely that at that time, Stalin would have abandoned neutrality and entered the war against Germany with precisely such an offensive. Some of the German historians who have been most active in countering the "icebreaker" thesis now accept that, in the absence of the German invasion in 1941, Stalin would eventually have exercised his option of joining Britain against Germany (but not in 1941). However, the sine qua non of such an action would have been Britain's remaining in the war, which would prevent Germany using all its forces against the Soviet Union.

The German Government was well aware of the overall strategic situation, even if it was not privy to the details of Stalin's planning, and knew that the only way it could avoid a future Soviet attack was to knock out the Soviet forces as soon as possible, before their build-up was completed, at which time a German attack would no longer be possible, and prospects for a successful defence against a Soviet ataack very low. The Marcks Plan is to be seen in that context; it was a contingency plan for a preventive strike against the Soviet Union to eliminate Stalin's option of entering the war against Germany at a date of his choosing, an option that Marcks clearly refers to in his preamble.

The German Government's preferred option was to bind the Soviet Union to it through the latter's joining the Tripartite Pact aimed against Britain. No doubt if the Soviet Union had done so, and Britain had given up its struggle against Germany as a result of the forces aligned against it (including Soviet occupation of Iran and the threat thereby posed to Britain's position in the Middle East and India), then Germany would have turned against the Soviet Union and imposed, with the threat of military invasion, a new Brest-Litovsk on it, forcing it to surrender the Baltic States, Belorussia, Ukraine and the Caucasus region with its oil reserves.

However, the option of a surprise attack, without prior negotiations and ultimata, which was being planned by Marcks and other members of the German military staff, would only be exercised if the Soviet Union resisted allying itself with Germany. And that is what in fact happened.

The historical fact is that in May 1941, Stalin ordered Zhukov and Timoshenko to prepare a pre-emptive strike against the German forces gathering in occupied Poland. However, that was a reaction to the German preparations for invasion, of which Stalin was well aware (although publicly he pretended not to be), and was not his original plan. The indications are that the planned pre-emptive strike was hastily abandoned when it was realised that the German attack was imminent and a pre-emptive strike could not possibly be mounted in time; at that point there was a belated attempt to go onto the defensive, including withdrawal from exposed forward positions such as Lithuania, where the Soviet withdrawal commenced one day before the German invasion.

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Post by Bronsky » 03 Jan 2007 08:52

michael mills wrote:The German Government did not believe in the "Icebreaker" scenario (ie an impending Soviet invasion of German-occupied Poland in the summer of 1941), but it did believe that if the Soviet Union did not definitively ally itself with Germany against Britain (as Hitler proposed to Stalin in December 1940) it would eventually ally itself with Britain against Germany.
1. By December 1940, Hitler had already decided to invade the Soviet Union, planning was underway, so mentioning an alliance as if it was a serious offer by that time is misleading.

2. The Soviet Union had to do more than "ally itself with Germany against Britain", it had to step up deliveries of whatever raw materials Germany wanted to the detriment of its own development, let alone rearmament effort. Anything else was considered as being in the way and would lead to invasion. As happened.

3. Nothing that has been posted so far indicates a fear that Stalin would ally with Britain - something that was very far from his mind - as opposed to simply playing his own game.
michael mills wrote:Stalin publicly rejected the British overtures, but in such a way as to leave open the option of joining the war against Germany at a later date, when the Soviet forces were fully prepared and Germany had grown weaker due to the British blockade.
Is that so? And what did "such a way" consist of, exactly?

As far as I can tell, Stalin flatly and unequivocally rejected the British overtures, and even let Germany know about what had been said. If that's being accomodating to the British, then I wonder what his being truly neutral would have consisted of.
michael mills wrote:The Soviet Union had been building up its military strength at a forced pace since 1939, with the aim of being superior to the German forces by the Spring of 1942. The success of that build-up is shown by the fact that by the summer of 1941 the Soviet Union already had more modern tanks than Germany did.
The Soviet Union, like the rest of Europe, observed an aggressive power embarking in fast-paced rearmament, correctly decided it was on the to hit list, and rearmed. Stalin would have rearmed anyway at some point, but the feverish pace of the Soviet rearmament was dictated by fears of a German invasion, not an agenda to invade Germany in the near future. This is well-documented.

As to having more "modern tanks", please define "modern". The Soviets definitely had more tanks than Germany, they lacked transport, communications, training, ammunition etc.
michael mills wrote:By the Spring of 1942, the Soviet armed forces would have had sufficient strength to successfully attack Germany, with thrusts into Romania and southern Poland.
Says who?
The Soviet rearmament program was well behind schedule and running into serious problems, lack of trained personnel being one of them.
michael mills wrote:The German Government was well aware of the overall strategic situation, even if it was not privy to the details of Stalin's planning, and knew that the only way it could avoid a future Soviet attack was to knock out the Soviet forces as soon as possible, before their build-up was completed, at which time a German attack would no longer be possible, and prospects for a successful defence against a Soviet ataack very low. The Marcks Plan is to be seen in that context; it was a contingency plan for a preventive strike against the Soviet Union to eliminate Stalin's option of entering the war against Germany at a date of his choosing, an option that Marcks clearly refers to in his preamble.
1. Marcks doesn't say anything about the Soviet options, he is addressing capabilities. His plan aims at making the Soviets incapable of ever attacking Germany. Please note that under this conception of "national defense" the U.S. should immediately wipe out all countries with a capability to inflict crippling damage. Russia, Britain, France and China would be a good start.

2. A Soviet attack could also be deterred, by adequate defenses. It had worked well enough until 1939, and it worked after 1945.
michael mills wrote:The German Government's preferred option was to bind the Soviet Union to it through the latter's joining the Tripartite Pact aimed against Britain.
Except that the German head of state had ordered planning for a 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union to start even before there had been a Tripartite Pact in the first place, leaving aside the question of Soviet membership.
michael mills wrote:No doubt if the Soviet Union had done so, and Britain had given up its struggle against Germany as a result of the forces aligned against it (including Soviet occupation of Iran and the threat thereby posed to Britain's position in the Middle East and India), then Germany would have turned against the Soviet Union and imposed, with the threat of military invasion, a new Brest-Litovsk on it, forcing it to surrender the Baltic States, Belorussia, Ukraine and the Caucasus region with its oil reserves.
1. The logistics of a Russian invasion of Iran are poor. Russia has historically run into a lot of trouble projecting power in that area. The Nazis were doubtless unaware of that, but the Russians wouldn't be.

2. There was little point in the Soviet Union entering a new pact with Germany at a time when the existing agreements were being violated by the Germans: military presence in, and guarantee of, Finland, Romania and Bulgaria from the military point of view, large arrears in German payments from the economic point of view.

3. If you believe Germany was going to invade the Soviet Union anyway, why do you claim that Barbarossa was an essentially defensive operation as opposed to a "let's get it over with, the sooner the better" one?
michael mills wrote:However, the option of a surprise attack, without prior negotiations and ultimata, which was being planned by Marcks and other members of the German military staff, would only be exercised if the Soviet Union resisted allying itself with Germany. And that is what in fact happened.
I can't agree with either proposition. Planning for a surprise attack was started at a time when the Soviet Union was allyed with Germany, and the Soviets didn't resist allying themselves as opposed to calling for the implementation of the existing agreements before other could be entered into.
michael mills wrote:The historical fact is that in May 1941, Stalin ordered Zhukov and Timoshenko to prepare a pre-emptive strike against the German forces gathering in occupied Poland.
As far as I'm aware, the historical fact is that Zhukov asked Stalin for authorization to conduct such a pre-emptive strike to disrupt German preparations for invasion, not the other way around. Stalin would have none of it.
michael mills wrote:The indications are that the planned pre-emptive strike was hastily abandoned when it was realised that the German attack was imminent and a pre-emptive strike could not possibly be mounted in time; at that point there was a belated attempt to go onto the defensive, including withdrawal from exposed forward positions such as Lithuania, where the Soviet withdrawal commenced one day before the German invasion.
I'd be interested in more details regarding what "the indications" consist of, exactly. Also what makes you so certain that there was a "planned pre-emptive strike".

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Post by michael mills » 03 Jan 2007 11:16

3. If you believe Germany was going to invade the Soviet Union anyway, why do you claim that Barbarossa was an essentially defensive operation as opposed to a "let's get it over with, the sooner the better" one?
I do not believe that Germany would have invaded the Soviet Union anyway.

Germany's offer to the Soviet Union was conditional on the latter's ceasing its attempts at further expansion to the West (ie, establishing military control over Bulgaria, compelling Turkey to give it control over the straits and allow it to station troops there, invading Finland for the second time), and instead expanding into Iran and towards Indai, which would have brought the Soviet Union into the war on the side of Germany against Britain.

After the Molotov visit to Berlin, Ribbentrop made a formal offer to the Soviet Government on the above basis. Stalin actually replied in writing, offering to join the Tripartite pact, but only on the basis that Soviet Union be permitted to continue its westward expansion, control over Bulgaria and Turkish territory adjoining the straits, invasion of Finland. Those were terms that Germany could not possibly accept, so it is obvious that Stalin's reply was really a way of saying no without actually saying no. That was the event that caused Hitler to reach a definitive decision to invade the Soviet Union, and turn the contingency planning into actual planning.

My belief is that if the Soviet Union had joined the Tripartite Pact on German terms, thereby bringing Britain into conflict with both Germany and the Soviet Union (something that Britain had tried desperately to avoid, hence its ignoring of the Soviet invasions of Poland, Finland and Romania, as opposed to hotheads in France who wanted to attack the Soviet Union for those aggressions), and as a result Britain had given up the fight and agreed to make peace, then Germany would have made demands on the Soviet Union to surrender all the territory it had gained since 1939 (ie the Baltic States, East Poland, Bukovyna and Bessarabia, and probably additional territory such as Belorussia, Ukraine and the Caucasus region (ie regions which Germany and its ally the Ottoman Empire had occupied in 1918).

If the Soviet Union had refused those demands, then Germany would probably have invaded (how successfully, we cannot know). However, if the Soviet Union had acceded to German demands and surrendered those territories, then there would have been no need for a German invasion. The relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union might then have been similar to what it had been in the few months after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, with Germany the dominant partner.

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