German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

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German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Jan 2019 23:42

Hi all,

New poster here. I have recently got back into the OstHeer subject after a couple decades of absence (since ~high school) and then discovering the immense scholarship done this century (Stahel, later Glanz, Tooze, etc. - though I haven't read all of it yet).

I want to register a "take" that I haven't seen explicitly formulated yet and see what y'all think. My apologies if this take has been articluated here and/or elsewhere and if so, thanks in advance for pointing me to some discussion of it.

Here's the basic idea:
1. Everyone agreed (Hitler, OKW, OKH, marshalls/generals) on one thing re Barbarossa: that the Red Army should be largely destroyed by the initial attack short of the Dvina/Dneipr line.
2. Despite this agreement, the Ostheer attempted double-panzer-pincer envelopments on only one sector of the front: Heeresgruppe Mitte.
3. It seems obvious to me - but perhaps it wasn't to them? - that large-scale encirclements would occur only with double-panzer-pincer envelopments absent some geographic feature like the English Channel or, to a lesser extent, the Bialystock salient (and maybe the Western Ukraine salient created by using Romania's northern provinces as a launching plan a la the Marcks plan).
4. Given this dynamic, Barbarossa beat itself before the Russians did anything. The Ostheer wasn't positioned to trap/destroy the Red Army west of the D-D line except in one sector. In the Baltics and Ukraine, the Red Army largely escaped intact, allowing Stavka to devote practically the entire Second Echelon to HGM's sector. The secondary strategic goal of quick land grab - which everyone agreed was secondary - somehow trumped the operational execution of the primary goal of Red Army destruction.

Now, consider some (maybe?) plausible alternatives that might enable multiple Kesselschlachts in the opening weeks of the war.
Each of these scenarios center around Heeresgruppe Sud succeeding to a similar extent as did HGM - i.e. HGS executes a double envelopment of Southwest Front's main forces, preferably (though not necessarily) via a second pincer launched from northern Romania (and yes, I realize that Antonescu would need some convincing for a June attack from Romania, but I assume this is possible if he has the reassurance of massive German forces operating from Romania).

Scenario 1: Move PzGruppe 4 (Hoeppner) - plus maybe a few infantry divisions and/or divisions from France/Norway - to HGS, redistribute some HGS infantry divisions to support it, shift 11th Army north to support the southern/Romanian pincer as well.
Scenario 2: Germany has stretched itself just a bit more demographically and economically to raise and equip another ~20 divisions by June 22 including at least 10 mobile divisions. These constitute the HGS's southern/Romanian panzer-pincer arm.

Brief notes on these scenarios:
For Scenario 1, this represents basically a tradeoff of early conquest of the Baltics versus destroying Southwestern Front. Given the stated objectives of Barbarossa (destroy Red Army before the D-D line), this option should have taken priority over Lithuania and Latvia. Heeresgruppe Nord's infantry should be sufficient to cover HGM flanks; the Soviet Northern Front was fairly weak and would have had its hands full against Bock's infantry alone. Maybe the Soviets hold Lithuania into August but strategically/economically that means almost nothing and operationally/tactically it means more forces to destroy west of D-D line, potentially.

For Scenario 2, I have read (most of) Tooze's study of German war mobilization, which argues that Germany was running at full bore from the get go and could not, as many believe, have fielded better-armed and larger forces for Barbarossa than it did. While Tooze convincingly argues that Germany could not have reached '44 production levels, for example, by 1941, even he admits that Germany "mobilized additional factors of production" around 1942. It is simply a fact that Hitler/Speer were able to take many additional steps in '42 and thereafter, including terminating some 650,000 military deferments, instituting a longer work week, closing additional civilian industries, and putting additional pressure on occupied/allied Europe. For Germany to have had another 2,000 tanks and supporting vehicles by June 1941 seems eminently doable.

Now, under either scenario, consider the impact of encircling and destroying Southwestern Front in a "Battle of Ternopil" during June/July 1941, taking ~500,000 Red Army soldiers off the board:
1. Stavka would surely have reconstituted Southwestern Front to defend Kiev, which means far weaker armies opposing HGM during the Smolensk battle and therefore likely a quicker closing of that pocket and fewer counterattacks against HGM while mopping up and resting for its next push. This is true even under Scenario 1, though to a lesser extent (a weaker Heeresgruppe Nord doesn't make up for a missing Southwest Front).
2. HGS, with 2 Panzergruppe, would be able to encircle and destroy any reconstituted Southwest Front again, either before reaching Kiev ("Battle of Vinnitsa") or around Kiev itself. The Ukraine's open expanses are perfect for deep mobile operations and Stalin wasn't authorizing operational withdrawals at this point.
3. By August 1, the Red Army will have suffered 4 catastrophic encirclements - 2 each in north and south.
4. HGM is poised at the gates of Moscow and does not need to divert forces to Kiev or otherwise protect its southern flank. Under scenario 1, it might now have to dispatch a couple motorized corps to help HGN deal with the north. But then HGS could release one of its Panzergruppe to HGM, allowing a 3-panzer-pincer Operation Taifun to occur in mid-August while the HGS operates with Kleist's PzGr against a much-weaker-than-historically Red Army in Ukraine. Under Scenario 2, the Red Army is facing double envelopment north and south for a third time or a massively reinforced HGM moving against Moscow.
5. HGM succeeds at Taifun in August/September, takes Moscow in October/November.

At the end of November, the Red Army is down at least a million front troops versus historically, while the Germans have suffered significantly fewer casualties due to capturing field armies instead of fighting them for months before their destruction.

At least under Scenario 2, I can't imagine Russia being able to take back Moscow over the winter. They'd enter December with only about a million front line forces. Another ~5mil will join the front over the next 6 months but Stalin will fritter these away with counterattacks that incur ~4-1 casualties, never allowing the Red Army to achieve the critical mass it needs for operational success.

On June 1, 1942, as the next summer opens, I estimate that Russia will still have a numerical advantage of ~4.5mil against ~3.2mil (compared to ~5.8mil against ~2.7mil - Germans only). But this balance of power isn't sufficient to stop the German drive to Stalingrad/Baku, while the missing 1.3mil soldiers plus the extra ~.5mil Germans mean no Don counterattack. The Germans likely achieve Fall Blau's objectives, end the siege of Leningrad with hundreds of thousands more prisoners, and push to ~Gorkiy in HGM's sector.

There's more to say about the operational narrative but that's probably enough on the subject for now.

The 10,000-foot idea here is this:

Germany got lucky at first and caught Russia in the midst of a mobilization. This meant millions of Russians were up for the Ostheer's grabs, but there weren't sufficient millions of Russians to stop the Ostheer as in '43-45. Germany just might have been able to keep the Russian casualty rate ahead of its mobilization rate if it had - from the outset - actually carried through on the stated goal of destroying the Red Army everywhere it was deployed (or as much as was feasible to do so).

Maybe Scenario 1 doesn't work, but Scenario 2 (just one more panzer-pincer added to Barbarossa) seems compelling to me.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 16 Jan 2019 01:54, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2019 01:52

Another possible operational orientation - mentioned on this board some - would be to advance only in north of the Pripyat marshes.
This orientation would see HGS reduced to a ~25 division screening force absent armor.

I could see this orientation working better than historical Barbarossa because HG's Nord and Mitte could both execute double envelopments. Place Kleist on Hoth's left, for example, and have him link up with Hoeppner around Dvinsk, thereby trapping a good portion of Soviet North Front in a Kesselschlacht with ~200k prisoners.

In addition, Kleist covering Hoth's left flank would enable a better, faster, cheaper closing of the Minsk pocket. This dynamic could repeat in the Smolensk battle, resulting in quicker annihilation of 16/20A and a better posture against the Second Echelon's counterattacks. Alternatively, Kleist and Hoeppner could link up somewhere in Estonia/Latvia for another Kesselschlacht, though it's hard to see the open space for such a move in the Baltics.

Meanwhile Korponets and his Southwest Front would probably be attacking Rundstedt and HGS. Given the defensive advantage in WW2 (~50% per Dupuy's studies, IIRC), I'd expect the casualty calculus for this southern battle to come out ~even with the historical.

A slower/static HGS would ease front-wide logistical burdens, probably allowing more daring maneuvers north of Pripyat by the Panzer spearheads, who could monopolize the Wehrmacht's logistical auto park.

At some point - IMO before a move on Moscow - the Ukraine would have to be dealt with. HGM could dispatch a two-panzer-pincer movement across its right flank, destroying the armies that would predictably concentrate there and threatening the rear of every southern Soviet force west of ~Kursk. Meanwhile HGN could execute a 2-panzer-pincer operation around Leningrad while the bulk of HGM's infantry defended Smolensk as historically (recall that in this scenario the Soviets have hundreds of thousands fewer soldiers due to HGN's encirclements early on). Southwest and South fronts would have to race back across the Dniepr or (more likely) hold a deep pocket of the Ukraine under commissar threat. Eventually, the Ostheer would reduce this grand pocket, but it would preclude a successful Moscow attack. Of note is that the western side of a Ukraine-wide encirclement would be operating from very close to its logistics support lines.

IMO this scenario is less attractive than adding a Ukraine border encirclement, but if that's not possible then it's still the case that two axes of Kesselschlacht are better than one. Keeping the Ostheer/Red Army kill/captured ratio high west of Dvina/Dneipr is far more important than capturing Kiev in, say, October instead of August.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Peter89 » 16 Jan 2019 08:36

The Soviets were mobilizing and arming themselves as well. Their AFV production highly exceeded that of the Germans. Any tanks / SPGs / PzJs they could produce between 1941 June - mid 1942 would be obsolate scrap by the time of the postponed invasion.

The far better chance would be a massive operation in the Mediterraneum and the Middle East, or an all-out attack on the British.

Barbarossa / Marcks Plan, etc. were fundamentally stupid as hell, as Georg Thomas, the chief military economist of the Reich pointed out. The conquering of the absolutely undeveloped land of the USSR will not help the war machine anyways, but it will create an enemy even with the best version achieved (reaching and holding the A-A line).

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 16 Jan 2019 09:00

TheMarcksPlan, everything you wrote was recently discussed. Von Bock was categorically against the "tweezers" west of Minsk. Hitler imposed an encirclement and this slowed down advance. According to plans of command of army group, the wedges were to be united in Smolensk. As in the plan of Marcks.

Image

In the northern sector, 56 Manstein’s tank corps traveled 300 km in 4 days and was ordered to stop for 6 days waiting for flank cover. Tactics of environments is also doubtful. After a breakthrough to a depth of 300 km, the Russians lost control and surrendered en masse.

In the "South" group, Hitler refused to use Romania as a springboard for striking the enemy to the rear. He feared that Russians would gather much strength east of the Pripyat swamps and attack the Germans. To prevent this, a plan of "pursuing" the enemy was invented.

viewtopic.php?p=2178046#p2178046

При этом оперативное пространство России, где развернутся боевые действия на первом этапе, разделено Припятскими болотами на две части, так что локтевая связь между группами войск, действующими севернее и южнее болот, может быть установлена только в ходе преследования [противника]».

At the same time, the operational space of Russia, where hostilities will unfold at the first stage, is divided into two parts by the Pripyat marshes, so that the ulnar communication between the groups of troops operating north and south of the marshes can only be established during the pursuit [of the enemy].

Image

Marcks plan for the South group differed from Barbarossa markedly. In the first version, the blow in the north of Ukraine was not planned, but Hitler was afraid of the Soviet counterstrokes.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 16 Jan 2019 09:07

Peter89 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 08:36
Barbarossa / Marcks Plan, etc. were fundamentally stupid as hell, as Georg Thomas, the chief military economist of the Reich pointed out. The conquering of the absolutely undeveloped land of the USSR will not help the war machine anyways, but it will create an enemy even with the best version achieved (reaching and holding the A-A line).
This is a dubious argument from the series: Russia is invincible. However, the occupation took place. For example, a map of the British Empire.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 16 Jan 2019 09:29

When do not know about the mistakes of Hitler, logic prompts the Russians won because the Germans had no chance. But with Hitler at the head, the Germans allowed themselves to inflict heavy losses by artillery and tanks. Everyone can fire from a cannon.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 16 Jan 2019 11:22

The Germans were able to reach Stalingrad and the Caucasus, but could not take Leningrad and Moscow. And this is doubtful. Any logic for such is unacceptable.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2019 20:03

Peter89 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 08:36
The Soviets were mobilizing and arming themselves as well. Their AFV production highly exceeded that of the Germans. Any tanks / SPGs / PzJs they could produce between 1941 June - mid 1942 would be obsolate scrap by the time of the postponed invasion.

Barbarossa / Marcks Plan, etc. were fundamentally stupid as hell, as Georg Thomas, the chief military economist of the Reich pointed out. The conquering of the absolutely undeveloped land of the USSR will not help the war machine anyways, but it will create an enemy even with the best version achieved (reaching and holding the A-A line).
I acknowledge that the Soviets were arming as well - it's the central point of my thesis. To repeat, (1) Germany got lucky and caught Russia in the midst of mobilization in 1941, (2) they could possibly have won had they destroyed Russian armies at approximately their mobilization rate, (3) the operational plan of Barbarossa did not attempt to do this, despite the strategic plan recognizing Red Army destruction as the foremost strategic goal.

Re invading at all, this was always central to Hitler's plan. To argue the Nazis could have won had they not fought Russia is to argue they could have won had they not been Nazis. Plus it ignores the very real danger - IMO likelihood - that Stalin invades if Germany focuses on Britain/US.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2019 20:08

jesk wrote:
16 Jan 2019 09:00
TheMarcksPlan, everything you wrote was recently discussed. Von Bock was categorically against the "tweezers" west of Minsk. Hitler imposed an encirclement and this slowed down advance. According to plans of command of army group, the wedges were to be united in Smolensk. As in the plan of Marcks.
I haven't seen discussion of the idea that Germany failed on its own terms by not attempting to encircle 2/3 of the Red Army west of the D-D line. Or am I missing something in your point?

Your point about Bock and Minsk only goes to the depth of encirclement on HGM's front, not whether other double envelopments should have been attempted. And, relatedly, whether the entire operational plan should have been changed to enable multiple double envelopments even if that meant foregoing a strategic thrust on one of the Army Group fronts.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Jan 2019 20:12

By the way:

Despite my username, I'm not saying that the Marcks plan encapsulates my ideas or would have worked. That plan appears to lack multiple double envelopments as part of the border battle, focusing instead on straight drives through Ukraine via Romania.

I only chose the name "Marcksplan" because it was available and it at least hints at substantially different operational planning for Barbarossa.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Peter89 » 16 Jan 2019 22:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2019 20:03
Peter89 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 08:36
The Soviets were mobilizing and arming themselves as well. Their AFV production highly exceeded that of the Germans. Any tanks / SPGs / PzJs they could produce between 1941 June - mid 1942 would be obsolate scrap by the time of the postponed invasion.

Barbarossa / Marcks Plan, etc. were fundamentally stupid as hell, as Georg Thomas, the chief military economist of the Reich pointed out. The conquering of the absolutely undeveloped land of the USSR will not help the war machine anyways, but it will create an enemy even with the best version achieved (reaching and holding the A-A line).
I acknowledge that the Soviets were arming as well - it's the central point of my thesis. To repeat, (1) Germany got lucky and caught Russia in the midst of mobilization in 1941, (2) they could possibly have won had they destroyed Russian armies at approximately their mobilization rate, (3) the operational plan of Barbarossa did not attempt to do this, despite the strategic plan recognizing Red Army destruction as the foremost strategic goal.

Re invading at all, this was always central to Hitler's plan. To argue the Nazis could have won had they not fought Russia is to argue they could have won had they not been Nazis. Plus it ignores the very real danger - IMO likelihood - that Stalin invades if Germany focuses on Britain/US.
Seriously I doubt that Stalin would have ever attacked Germany. Their connection was quite complicated, both parties valued each other as an outstanding trade partner. Stalin and the Soviets in general always attacked considerably weaker opponents. The Soviet system was not able to cope with the power of the West, and they were unlikely to defeat the Axis without considerable support. Furthermore, an attack on Europe could unite the nations of the continent, even those which opposed the Nazis. SU was always easier to defend from a military perspective, and the political system was more prone to solidify in defense than in offense.

Yeah Hitler was wrong. His generals and advisors should have held him back. SU and Russia is regurarly defeated with peacetime means, even tough the Russian Empire was defeated in WW1, it was the civil war that ruined the country.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 00:12

@Peter89

You say, "The Soviet system was not able to cope with the power of the West, and they were unlikely to defeat the Axis without considerable support."

First, your condition of "considerable support" is already met via the U.S. and UK being at war with Germany by 1942. By that time Stalin could have launched 6m men at Germany. This is the kind of numerical superiority that enabled the victories of '43-'45 and without the damage taken during Barbarossa the Soviet steamroller would have started sooner and farther west.

Second, it's not clear to me that Stalin even needs western support to beat Hitler if Hitler gives him time to amass the requisite numerical superiority. A Soviet invasion in 1942 would still mean tremendous losses for Red Army, yes, but not the kind of defensive encirclements actually seen.
Even more important, USSR would have retained resources of its Western Provinces that were lost in Barbarossa. For all that the USSR produced in WW2, they did so with only about half of their pre-war resource base for much of the war.

Re uniting the West against Russia... Unless UK and USA make peace with Germany to fight Russia (which would never have happened and didn't happen), you're talking about who from the West? Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden?

The UK was already pushing Russia to enter the war against Hitler pre-Barbarossa, a 1942 push by Stalin would have been welcomed, encouraged, and funded by US/UK so therefore totally incapable of sparking a Western anti-Stalin coalition - as history showed.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by Peter89 » 17 Jan 2019 07:10

First, my condition of considerable support was not met regarding the Heer. Most divisions in the occupied territories were designated as stationary and the DAK fielded only a few divisions. Furthermore, a huge part of the Luftwaffe which were uncompetitive against the air defense of Britain, would not be deployed there anyways.

Whether the Soviets would attack in Asia or in Europe, well, I don't know. Whether the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbour with an ongoing Soviet invasion - I don't know. If the Japanese didn't attack Pearl Harbour, the US joins later. A postponed Barbarossa could have serious effect in international politics, and I think most of them are in favor of Germany.

Second, you are right about the effect of the German invasion on the industrial output of the SU. But don't forget that they were mass producing obsolate equipment, and that the command and coordination of the troops were inadequate.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 17 Jan 2019 08:54

Considerable support need not be directly against the Heer. The allied aerial campaign puts a huge drain on Germany's resources, more through forcing it to build fighters and Flak than from blowing things up - but also from blowing things up. The sea campaign as well - Germany could have built thousands of Tiger II's for what it spent on submarines alone.

It is obvious to me the Soviets would attack in Europe rather than Asia. Stalin was too worried about Hitler attacking him to consider diverting serious forces east. Plus there's just so much more to gain in Europe, and so much more to which Stalin felt Russia was entitled.

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Re: German Operational Failure during Battle of the Frontiers June 1941

Post by jesk » 17 Jan 2019 09:12

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Jan 2019 20:08
jesk wrote:
16 Jan 2019 09:00
TheMarcksPlan, everything you wrote was recently discussed. Von Bock was categorically against the "tweezers" west of Minsk. Hitler imposed an encirclement and this slowed down advance. According to plans of command of army group, the wedges were to be united in Smolensk. As in the plan of Marcks.
I haven't seen discussion of the idea that Germany failed on its own terms by not attempting to encircle 2/3 of the Red Army west of the D-D line. Or am I missing something in your point?

Your point about Bock and Minsk only goes to the depth of encirclement on HGM's front, not whether other double envelopments should have been attempted. And, relatedly, whether the entire operational plan should have been changed to enable multiple double envelopments even if that meant foregoing a strategic thrust on one of the Army Group fronts.

By the way:

Despite my username, I'm not saying that the Marcks plan encapsulates my ideas or would have worked. That plan appears to lack multiple double envelopments as part of the border battle, focusing instead on straight drives through Ukraine via Romania.

I only chose the name "Marcksplan" because it was available and it at least hints at substantially different operational planning for Barbarossa.
The double coverage von Bock explained including the terrible condition of the roads. Nowhere else has such coverage been planned. A deep breakthrough in a narrow sector deprives the enemy of control and supply. In the strip of the army group "North" without environments hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers were captured.

http://militera.lib.ru/db/bock_f/06.html

23/6/41

Глубокое проникновение танковой группы Гота ставит на повестку дня весьма актуальный вопрос: должен ли Гот продвигаться в направлении севернее Минска, как было приказано ранее Верховным командованием сухопутных сил, или ему следует нанести мощный удар по линии Витебск — Полоцк. Я склоняюсь ко второму варианту, так как сомневаюсь, что наше намерение закрыть «котел» в районе Минска приведет к решающему успеху. Я опасаюсь, что противник в самое ближайшее время выведет свои войска из этого района. Повернув танковые войска в направлении Минска, мы только потеряем время, которое противник может использовать для создания новой оборонительной [49] линии за Двиной и Днепром. Поскольку Грейффенберг и Гальдер помочь мне советом так и не смогли, я позвонил Браухичу, чтобы разрешить этот давно уже вызывающий трения вопрос раз и навсегда! Браухич сказал мне, что противник, находящийся перед фронтом группы армий «Север», отходит за Двину и что там сосредоточены значительные танковые силы русских. При таких условиях он считает опасным бросать недостаточно мощную бронетанковую группу Гота в наступление на районы, лежащие перед Двиной и за ней, в одиночестве. По этой причине она должна соединиться с танковой группой Гудериана в районе Минска согласно первоначальному приказу, после чего они обе могут продолжать наступление через линию Днепр — Двина. В этой связи я указал, что после того, как 3-я танковая группа двинется на Минск, ужасные дороги в секторе Днепр — Двина заставят ее снова повернуть на северо-восток. Более того, поворачивая к Минску, Гот подставит свой фланг и тылы под удар упомянутых русских танковых сил, и ему все равно придется посылать сильный заслон в направлении Витебск — Полоцк. Браухич подтвердил, что посылать заслон придется, но изменить ранее отданные приказы отказался.

The deep penetration of the tank group of Goth puts on the agenda a very topical question: should Goth advance in the direction north of Minsk, as was previously ordered by the Ground Forces High Command, or should he deliver a powerful blow on the Vitebsk - Polotsk line. I am inclined to the second option, because I doubt that our intention to close the "pot" in the Minsk region will lead to decisive success. I fear that the enemy will withdraw his troops from this area in the very near future. Turning tank troops in the direction of Minsk, we only lose the time that the enemy can use to create a new defensive [49] line beyond the Dvina and the Dnieper. Since Greyfenberg and Halder couldn’t help me with advice, I called Brauchitsch to resolve this friction-causing question long and forever! Brauchitsch told me that the enemy, who was in front of Army Group North, was moving beyond Dvina, and that considerable Russian tank forces were concentrated there. Under such conditions, he considers it dangerous to throw an insufficiently powerful Goth armored group into an attack on the areas lying in front of and behind the Dvina, alone. For this reason, it must connect with the Guderian tank group in the Minsk region according to the original order, after which they can both continue the offensive through the Dnieper-Dvina line. In this regard, I pointed out that after the 3rd tank group will move to Minsk, the terrible roads in the Dnieper-Dvina sector will force it to turn to the northeast again. Moreover, turning to Minsk, Got will substitute his flank and rear for the blow of the mentioned Russian tank forces, and he will still have to send a strong barrier in the direction of Vitebsk - Polotsk. Brauchitsch confirmed that he would have to send a barrier, but refused to change the previously given orders.

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