Monday, December 10, 2018

September 10, 1941: Guderian Busts Loose

Wednesday 10 September 1941

German soldiers in Norway 10 September 1941
German soldiers at Brårudåsen Fort in Horten, Norway (on the coast south of Oslo) on 10 September 1941. This is now a historical landmark. Notice how they put the biggest guy in the unit right behind the officers, he seems kind of amused by it. Norway is a backwater area suitable for training purposes by the Wehrmacht throughout World War II. However, there are some labor troubles there that require the imposition of martial law on 10 September 1941.
Eastern Front: General Guderian's Panzer Group 2 has been diverted from the road to Moscow in order to encircle Kyiv. However, as of 10 September 1941, for the past week or so the panzers have been stalled on the Desna River while beating off furious Soviet attacks on its eastern flank. This has led to a furious Hitler row and the Fuehrer's meddling in Guderian's troop dispositions, which Hitler believed too far to the east.

Today, Guderian's armor shakes off the Russian attacks and breaks loose to the southeast again. His forces take Konotop, cutting the main road from Kyiv to the east. Even further south, General Walter Model's 3rd Panzer Division of XXIV Army Corps (motorized) takes Romny. The grand plan is starting to come together

Central Theater in Passaic, New Jersey, 10 September 1941
The Central Theater opens in Passaic, New Jersey on 10 September 1941. This becomes a favorite venue for top performers such as Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, the Andrews Sisters, Jerry Lewis, the Three Stooges, and Sammy Kaye, among countless others. This was where Glenn Miller gave his farewell performances on 24-27 September 1942. Notice the pronounced art deco influence. The Central Theater was torn down in 1978 and replaced by a McDonald's, which still stands there.
OKH Chief of Staff General Franz Halder notes this sudden success with puzzlement in his war diary:
Curiously, there are no attacks against [Guderian's] east flank. Perhaps this has something to do with the extensive railroad demolitions by our air efforts. On the defensive front, the danger zones west of Bryansk and east of Smolensk stand out as never before, but temporarily at least there is a lull in the attacks Nevertheless, resumption of the attacks must be imminent in view of the railroad movements from Moscow or Tula to Bryansk, and of the very heavy motorized movement toward Smolensk.
Today is usually marked as the end of the battle of Smolensk. Operation Barbarossa was supposed to go like this all along, so Halder's skepticism is a sign of how different the reality has been.

This sudden fortuitous change in events seems to confirm Hitler's recent interference in Guderian's dispositions, which adds to his growing confidence in his own military judgment. These affirmations of Hitler's amateurish interference have long-term consequences.

Not only is Guderian suddenly breaking out, but there are good signs for the Wehrmacht elsewhere as well. A couple of hundred miles to the south, General Ewald von Kleist's Panzer Group 1 also breaks out from its bridgehead across the Dneipr at Kremenchuk. Soviet 38th Army counterattacks Kleist's panzers ineffectively.

A quick glance at the map shows the extreme peril of the massive Soviet troop concentration holding Kyiv that is led by Marshal Budyenny. Hard-pressed by German Sixth Army's frontal assault, the Soviets holding the city now face encirclement a hundred miles to the east. This area of Ukraine is an excellent tank area for tank movements, with flat plains and relatively few waterways. While Kleist's and Guderian's panzers are far apart on the map, they theoretically could meet within only a few days. The noose around Kyiv is tightening, and all of the military professionals on both sides can see it.

Junkers Ju-88 downed in the Suez Canal 10 September 1941
"RAF officers inspect the wreckage of a Junkers Ju 88 lying in the waters of the Suez Canal after being shot down by an RAF night fighter near Kantara on the night of 9/10 September 1941." (© IWM (CM 1309)).
Soviet Colonel-General Mikhail Petrovich Kirponos, in command of the Southwestern Front at Kyiv, urges the Stavka to take precautions as diplomatically as he can. Instead of asking for himself, he simply "relays the concerns of others," a standard tactic when one knows the request is likely to be denied:
The enemy tank group has penetrated to Romny and Gaivoron. The 21st and 40th Armies are not able to liquidate this group. They request that forces be immediately transferred from the Kiev Fortified Region to the path of the enemy advance and a general withdrawal of front forces.
Kirponos has a good grasp of the situation and is a competent commander. Among other things, he took the prospects of a German invasion seriously on the eve of Operation Barbarossa and managed to keep his forces in better shape than other frontier commanders. However, in Moscow, Kirponos, despite his proven success, is seen as a bit of a weak figure, someone without the true offensive spirit. That Kirponos urges a tactical focus on the defensive again is seen as just another sign of his lack of intestinal fortitude. The Stavka ignores him.

Soviet soldiers in the Ukraine 1941
Soviet troops under artillery fire in western Ukraine, 1941.
In any event, overall Southwestern Direction Commander Marshal Budyenny already has requested permission to withdraw from Kyiv, and that request has been denied. Stalin has told Budyenny to keep his forces where they are no matter what happens. This defies tactical logic but at this point in the war, Stalin is simply playing for time. Stalin needs to prolong the situation in the south at all costs because, otherwise, the situation in the north will deteriorate faster. He is awaiting lend-lease shipments, and the weather won't stay nice forever. Stalin's forces have to continue to hold out for weeks for his delaying tactics to work, but the Germans will decide if that happens more than Stalin will.

Norway: The German occupation government declares martial law in Oslo today due to a labor strike by shipyard workers. The workers were upset that their milk rations were ended. This was the famous "Milk Strike." The authorities arrest five labor activists and shoot two of them, lawyer and Communist Viggo Hansteen and labor activist Rolf Wickstrom. There is a monumental joint tombstone and memorial to them in Oslo.

SS Winterswijk, torpedoed and sunk by U-432 on 10 September 1941
Dutch 3205-ton freighter SS Winterswijk was torpedoed and sunk off southern Greenland on 10 September 1941 by U 432 under the command of Kptlt. Heinz-Otto Schultze. The Winterswijk had served briefly as USS Winterswijk for the US Navy in 1918.

September 1941

September 1, 1941: Two Years In
September 2, 1941: Germans Pushed Back at Yelnya
September 3, 1941: FDR Refuses to Meet with Japanese
September 4, 1941: Hitler Furious at Guderian
September 5, 1941: Germans Evacuate Yelnya
September 6, 1941: Japan Prepares for War
September 7, 1941: Hitler Orders Drive on Moscow
September 8, 1941: Leningrad Cut Off
September 9, 1941: Germans Attack Leningrad
September 10, 1941: Guderian Busts Loose
September 11, 1941: Convoy SC-42 Destruction
September 12, 1941: Starve Leningrad!
September 13, 1941: Zhukov at Leningrad
September 14, 1941: Germany's Growing Casualties
September 15, 1941: Sorge Warns Stalin Again
September 16, 1941: Soviets Encircled at Kiev
September 17, 1941: Iran Conquest Completed
September 18, 1941: Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in Action
September 19, 1941: Germans Take Kiev
September 20, 1941: Death at Kiev
September 21, 1941: Raging Soviet Paranoia
September 22, 1941: Defense of Nickel Mines
September 23, 1941: Air Attacks on Leningrad
September 24, 1941: Japanese Spying Intensifies
September 25, 1941: Manstein at the Crimea
September 26, 1941: Kiev Pocket Eliminated
September 27, 1941: Massacre at Eišiškės
September 28, 1941: Ted Williams Hits .400
September 29, 1941: Babi Yar Massacre
September 30, 1941: Operation Typhoon Begins


No comments:

Post a Comment