Sunday, December 9, 2018

September 9, 1941: Germans Attack Leningrad

Tuesday 9 September 1941

Look magazine 9 September 1941
The September 9, 1941 Look magazine features an article entitled, "Why we will fight Japan - soon" by Hallett Abend.
Eastern Front: After weeks of gradually closing the vise on Leningrad, on 9 September 1941 the Germans begin their assault on the second city of Russia. Two Soviet battleships, "October Revolution" and "Marat," open fire on the Wehrmacht with their main guns. The ships are immobile because their non-gunnery crews have been drafted for the ground defense of the city. The German panzers are still about ten miles outside of the city proper, but they have cut off all land escape routes and the only way in or out for the defenders is by air or over Lake Ladoga.

The Luftwaffe mounts a major raid to soften the city up, a typical tactic for the Germans which they will follow again almost exactly a year from now at Stalingrad. Junkers Ju-87 Stukas of StG 2, accompanied by Bf 109 fighters of elite squadron JG 54, concentrate on the Soviet Baltic fleet parked at Kronstadt and Leningrad Harbor. Things go badly quickly for the Luftwaffe, as 43-ace Oblt. Hubert Mütherich, Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 54, perishes when his badly damaged Bf 109 somersaults upon landing. The Red Air Force is not much of a problem, but Soviet anti-aircraft fire over cities is deadly.

KV-1 tank burning on Finnish front, 9 September 1941
A Finnish soldier watches a Soviet KV-1E burn at Jessoila (Essoila or D´essoilu), Ladogan Karelia. This particular KV-1 had been terrorizing this portion of the front for a week. It finally hit two mines and was stopped - the Soviet crew abandoned it and set it on fire. When the Finns went to push it off the road with a bulldozer the bulldozer hit a mine, too. The KV-1 was the fiercest tank on the battlefield in 1941, its main drawbacks being that it was slow and had few close-arms defenses. September 9, 1941 (colorized, SA-Kuva).
The vise on Leningrad is closing to the north of the city, too. Finnish troops reach of outermost ring defenses of Leningrad and stop according to their orders from Marshal Mannerheim. The Germans desperately want the Finns to put pressure on the Soviets from the north, but Mannerheim refuses. He views the Continuation War as one of recovery of lost territories, not conquest. The Finns dig trenches and at most let loose a few perfunctory artillery salvos to satisfy their German co-belligerents.

The Finns also advance far to the north, above Lake Ladoga. This is a far less critical sector for the Soviets, so they do not waste many units in this area. While the Finns form a very fierce and effective fighting force, the men are very leery of antagonizing the Soviet Union even at its time of greatest distress. The men in this sector grudgingly cross the old border in this area by rationalizing that a line further east would be shorter and be more defensible. The only question here is where to stop, everyone knows that Finnish troops are not heading to Moscow.

Camp Chaffee 9 September 1941
On September 9, 1941, construction started on Camp Chaffee in western Arkansas. The first soldiers arrive on 7 December 1941 - a fateful day - and it becomes a POW camp for German prisoners from 1943-1946.
This is a moment of great peril for the Soviet Union. Leningrad is now at hazard, and far to the south Marshal Budyenny also makes his first request to evacuate Kyiv today. Quick German capture of Kyiv would allow General Guderian to take his Panzer Group 2, now on the way south toward Kyiv, back toward Moscow. This would enable the Wehrmacht to assault Moscow according to the timetable that he set out in his Fuehrer Directive issued just yesterday. It is not inconceivable that successes now would enable the Germans to bag all three major Soviet cities - Moscow, Leningrad, and Kyiv - and force some kind of adverse settlement on the Soviets.

So, a collapse of Red Army morale right now would be fatal. However, Marshal Budyenny's sole qualification as a general is that he does exactly what Stalin wants. Since Stalin wants him to stay in Kyiv, Budyenny stays in Kyiv regardless of the hopelessness of defending it against the German 6th Army. For his part, Stalin, whether consciously or not, is following the dictate of Czar Alexander I during the Napoleonic Wars of trading space for time. The bottom line is that everyone keeps fighting, the Germans are stopped, and men on both sides keep dying.

Evening Star 9 September 1941
The Washington, D.C. September 9, 1941 edition of the Evening Star claims that the Soviets are pursuing the Germans, which is true in the Army Group Center but far from the truth everywhere else. The front page shows a caricature of Hitler looking at a picture of smoking ruins and exclaiming, "According to plan." 

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


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