Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

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Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 17 Mar 2008 01:42

Greetings everyone,

I’ve found these citations in a recent Hungarian paperback publication about Marshal Zhukov (it’s not listed on Amazon so I cannot provide a link). I want to ask whether

- these quotes actually exist
- if so, are they accurately cited
- and (of course) what is your opinion about them?

For his comrades and subordinates Zhukov was more of a demon than a human being. He was merciless to the point of inhumanity.’ Execution squads of the GPU followed him whenever he visited the front, shooting the disobetient, the half-hearted and the scared by the thousands (there were 13000 such executions duing the Battle of Stalingrad alone). He discharged any general who disagreed with him[…] He knew that the counterweight to the Wehrmacht is blood and therefore he kept pouring blood into one scale-pan until the pair of scales moved into the desired direction.


Douglas Orgill: T-34 Russian Armor. MacDonald, London, 1970, page 127

Immensely obstinate and pathologically ambitious. His boundless bragging is aggravated by severe alcoholism; he is lecherous on a daily basis; towards his subordinates he is ruthless. I suggest the higher Party agencies pay attention to comrade Zhukov. He is incapable of commanding people unless he changes his behavior.


Rokossovsky’s report on Zhukov, November 8th, 1930 (Rokossovsky commanded the 7th Cavalry Division in which Zhukov served as a brigadier at that time)


He is prone to immeasurable brutality.


Marshal Budyonny on Zhukov on October 31st, 1931


’Zhukov, that dwarfish tyrant, behaved with me inhumanely. He tramples everyone who stands in his way underfoot. I have served along him before, I know him well, he is dangerous and narrow-minded, a careerist.’


Colonel General Yeremenko in his diary in January 1943


Obtuse; an unscrupulous mercenary and thug.


From Marshal Konev’s article in the Pravda, November 3, 1957

Unsourced:

The working conditions in the Ministry of Defense became unbearable after comrade Zhukov had become its head. He only knows one method: merciless oppression.


Marshal Biriuzov
Obsessed with power, ambitious; he craves glory and respect; never tolerates dissent.

Marshal Novikov

On Operation Mars

This is from an essay entitled ’Not into battle, but into the slaughter!’ by Hodarinov and Vladimirov in the Russian military periodical Neshavisomoye Voyennoye Obosrenie(?), June 8th, 2001, on the battle manoeuvres of the 20th Army of the Western Front during November and December 1942, the ’Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive’ a.k.a. Operation Mars:

On November 20th, the troops were ordered not into battle but into the well-defended killing ground of the enemy, into slaughter. The 148th and 150th Rifle Brigades kept attacking the steep banks of the river Vazuza near the village of Klemen for four days. Both units were annihilated completely. The High Command, headed by Zhukov, demanded regular frontal attacks. The 20th Army was strengthened by the 5th Tank Corps and 4 rifle divisons for these attacks. The fields were littered with the burnt-out wrecks of T-34s. Among the 8 tank brigades, 6 had lost all its equipment and were thus withdrawn on December 6th. On the 13th the 6th Tank Corps had 46 tanks, the 5th - sent into battle 2 days earlier - had 38. These units were trying to conquer the villages of Maloya Kropotovo and Podoshinovka. After one week of fighting the 20th Army was completely exhausted. It had no fuel and ammuntion. Nearly all its armoured strengthy was lost. The soldiers were completely exhausted, having gone for days without food and rest. After 23 days of continuous fighting they advanced 10 km into enemy defences in an area 8 kms wide. The average advance was 400 metres a day. For each km of advance the 20th Army suffered 6000 dead and wounded. The other armies of the Western and Kalinin Fronts suffered the same fate. The two Fronts had losses of 215000 in dead and wounded.


All this units were expended fighting a grand total of ONE German army, the 9th, under the command of Model.

Wikipedia (citing David Glantz and the website The Russian Battlefield) gives total Soviet losses during Operation Mars as 335000 dead, wounded, lost and more than 1600 tanks. Soviet advances were minimal and the operation failed to reach its goal, the liquidation of the Rzhev salient:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mars

Other stuff from the same Hungarian publication:

A comparison of the amount of forces deployed in Operation Mars and Operation Uranus (which took place at the same period near Stalingrad)

Operation Mars: 23 rifle (=infantry) armies, 3 shock armies (= essentially motorised rifle units strengthened with tank brigades), one tank army, 2 air armies, 2 armies in reserve

Operation Uranus: 13 rifle armies, one tank army, 3 air armies

(It is ironic that Operation Mars was supposedly a diversionary operation to supplement Operation Uranus, although the latter started later and with much fewer units)


An interesting comparison of the battle effectiveness of the 20th Army under Zhukov and famous traitor General Vlasov

The 20th Army was practically annihilated in fruitless frontal human wave attacks against the Yelnya salient - which the Germans were to withdraw from anyway - under the command of Zhukov during September 1941.

It was subsequently reorganised (taking on only the number since not much remained from the original 20th Army) and put under the command of major-general Vlasov. He led this army into a successful counterattack near the river Lama towards Volokolamsk in December 1941, thus contributing heavily to the Soviet victory in the Battle of Moscow.

In November 1942 it was annihilated in frontal attacks under the command of Zhukov for no gain. Zhukov expended other armies in a similar manner during the First Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive in July and August 1942.

It total Zhukov expended around 13-15 armies throughout the war due to dilettante commanding and insistence on regular human wave attacks without regard to enemy defences - admittedly, he sometimes won despite the heavy losses (Battle of Berlin for example, although his decisions during the attack on the Seelow Heights were nearly criminal.)

No wonder Zhukov was called 'Butcher' by his soldiers.
Last edited by Acolyte on 19 Mar 2008 03:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 17 Mar 2008 11:40

The real desription of Zhukov given by Rokossovsky on 8th November 1930 looked as followes (from "Uknown Zhukov" by B. Sokolov):
He has a strong will. Resolute. Possesses rich initiative and skilfully applies it in practice. Disciplined. Exacting and pressing in his requirements. Has a somewhat dryish and insufficiently sensitive character. Possesses a significant portion of obstinacy. Painfully ambitious. In the military sense he is well prepared. Has a large practical command experience. Likes military science and constantly perfects himself. Presence of abilities to the further growth is appreciable. Authoritative. During the summer period by skillful mangement of military training of his brigade he achieved great results in the realm of drill, tactics and firing skill and also achieved the grouth of the brigade as a whole in tactical and drilling sense. Has an interest in mobilizational work and knows it. He paid due attention to questions of preserving weapon and horses, having achieved positive results. Well prepared in poitical sense. He meets requirements for his position quite well. He can be used with profit for buseness on a position of aide of divisional commander or mechanized unit commander provided that he completes appropriate training courses. He shouldn't be appointed to a staff or educational work because he hates it organically.

I'll try to make addtiotional comments.

Operation "Mars" was discussed in a number of threads and I advice to continue discussion in one of them.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 18 Mar 2008 02:38

So is what we have here deliberate misquotation?

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 18 Mar 2008 11:49

Well, the real report (it acn be found in a number of sources apart from Sokolov) does contain such words as "ambitious" and "obstinate", but in other parts the version given by you seems to be "edited".
As concerns the other quotations:

Marshal Budyonny on Zhukov on October 31st, 1931 - the more correct version of tranastion is "excessive brutality",which sounds less harsh.

Colonel Yeremenko in his diary in January 1943 - Yeremenko was a colonel general, in other respects the quotation is genuine. To put it into context it should be said that Zhukov paid him with the same coin, the draft version of his memoir contains several attacks on Yeremenko.

Marshal Biriuzov - genuine but missing context. The phrase was said on the plenary session of the CPSU plenary session in October 1957, which removed Zhukv from the position of defense minister as a result of Khrushchov's fear of a "Soviet Bonapart". So there was some political agenda in emphasising Zhukov's flaw, though these flaws themselfs could be quit real.

Konev indeed wrote some article in "Pravda" during anti-Zhukov campaign, or at least his name was standing below this artice, but I couldn't find the full text. However, I doubt that there were such words as "thug" and others in the artice.

Marshal Novikov - genuine but missing context. Novikov made this statement being arrested by the MGB and evidently the people who arrested him wanted to find some stuff compromising Zhukov. It should be noted that a document with Novikov's statement was forwarded to Stalin on 30th April 1946, that is roughly two months before Zhukov fell into disgrace. The statement itself is rather interesting, after this introductory phrase Novikov wrote how Zhukov referred Stalin critically or without due respect, hold an independent line from him and even made some offensive remark about his son Vasiliy and in general his statement leaves an impression that Zhukov was trying to create an opposition to Stalin in military circles. Evidently, it was the very goal of the whole affair.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 19 Mar 2008 04:44

Art wrote:Colonel Yeremenko in his diary in January 1943 - Yeremenko was a colonel general


Thanks, I corrected the text (couldn't previously find the proper translation).

, in other respects the quotation is genuine. To put it into context it should be said that Zhukov paid him with the same coin, the draft version of his memoir contains several attacks on Yeremenko.

Marshal Novikov - genuine but missing context. Novikov made this statement being arrested by the MGB and evidently the people who arrested him wanted to find some stuff compromising Zhukov. It should be noted that a document with Novikov's statement was forwarded to Stalin on 30th April 1946, that is roughly two months before Zhukov fell into disgrace. The statement itself is rather interesting, after this introductory phrase Novikov wrote how Zhukov referred Stalin critically or without due respect, hold an independent line from him and even made some offensive remark about his son Vasiliy and in general his statement leaves an impression that Zhukov was trying to create an opposition to Stalin in military circles. Evidently, it was the very goal of the whole affair.


AFAIK Zhukov was universally despised amongst Red Army officers (in fact, one of his greatest enemies was Konev, probably due to Zhukov's gross mismanagement of the Cherkassy operation in early 1944), mainly because of his a) leadership style and b) habit of taking credit for victories in which he played no credible part (Kursk, for example). I don't think there was ever a remote possibilty of him forming an alliance with other marshals for any purpose.

I think Stalin was genuinely dissatisified with Zhukov at that point. His behaviour in Soviet-occupied Germany was becoming more and more scandalous - amassing obscene amounts of art treasures, gold, jewellery etc. - and he was, as I've noted, prone to self-aggrandizement. Maybe Stalin believed that Zhukov and his old pal, NKVD officer Ivan Serov, formed an unpredictable and potentially dangerous power base. Still, Zhukov suffered no persecution. He was sent to the Odessa military district in 1946 for sure but that hardly counts as a 'fall from grace'. Many Soviet marshals suffered a worse fate under Stalin and tons of officers were relegated to lower ranks or discharged after the war as most of the Red/Soviet Army was demobilised after the war. Supposedly Zhukov even had a lavish castle constructed for himself on the coast of the Black Sea while heading the Odessa district. In any case he proved to be a master of political survival anyway, forming an alliance with his old pals, Serov and Khrushchev after Stalin's death to get rid of their enemies inside the Party (although Khrushchev eventually stripped him of all his power as well).

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 26 Mar 2008 16:42

Acolyte wrote: An interesting comparison of the battle effectiveness of the 20th Army under Zhukov and famous traitor General Vlasov

In August-September 1941 the 20th Army was the part of the West Front (commanded by Timoshenko/Konev) and had little to do with Zhukov. As concerns the comparison given above its methodological basis seems to be unclear. Namely when the army achieved succes it's attributted solely to the army commander and the Front commander (Zhukov) plays the role of a side observer, when it suffers defeat it has nothing common with either general Vashkevich (the army commander) or general Konev (front commander), but Zhukov is the one to blame. The question appears why this principle is chosen and not the opposite (good Zhukova/bad Vlasov) as they are equally justified. As concerns the role of Zhukov in operation "Mars" that is too unclear issue to give a strait answer, but It should be noted that in late 1942 Zhukov was, to put it in a poetic way, a bee flying flitting from one flower to another and it would be a mistake to think that he had some permanent responsibility of any sector of the front. The statement that Zhukov commanded Soviet forces in "Mars" is strained too, because before July 1944 he played the role of supervisor controlling execution of Stavka's orders and informing Stavka of local situation. In July 1944 Stavka issued a directive giving Zhukov and Vasilevsky full command power but it was long after the events discussed.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 28 Mar 2008 08:51

Art wrote: it has nothing common with either general Vashkevich (the army commander)

Sorry, it was general Kiryukhin

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 29 Mar 2008 01:49

I see. And what about that Russian essay from 2001? Can the claims be corroborated?

BTW who were the army commanders in Operation Mars?
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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 29 Mar 2008 14:19

Acolyte wrote:I see. And what about that Russian essay from 2001? Can the claims be corroborated?

What exactly?
BTW who were the army commanders in Operation Mars?

West Front
20th Army - major-general Kiryukhin
29th Army - leutenant-general Zhuravlyov
30th Army - major-general Kolpakchy
31st Army - major-general Polenov
Apart from this the 5th Army (colonel-general Cherevichenko) and the 33rd Army (leutenant-general Gordov) were planned to be used in operation but were not actually commited to actions.
Kalinin Front
22nd Army - leutenant-general Yushkevich
39th Army - major-general Zygin
41st Army - maor-general Tarasov

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 29 Mar 2008 15:21

Art wrote:
Acolyte wrote:I see. And what about that Russian essay from 2001? Can the claims be corroborated?

What exactly?


The claims about the losses:

After one week of fighting the 20th Army was completely exhausted. It had no fuel and ammuntion. Nearly all its armoured strengthy was lost. The soldiers were completely exhausted, having gone for days without food and rest. After 23 days of continuous fighting they advanced 10 km into enemy defences in an area 8 kms wide. The average advance was 400 metres a day. For each km of advance the 20th Army suffered 6000 dead and wounded. The other armies of the Western and Kalinin Fronts suffered the same fate. The two Fronts had losses of 215000 in dead and wounded.


See my first post.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 31 Mar 2008 14:58

60 000 men lost by the 20th Army (or 6 thousands per each of 10 kilometers of advace) came from the after-action report of the army, the excerpts were published in "Zhukov's greatest defeat" by Glantz, the full text in the Russian edition of the same book. According to this source the army lost 13 929 killed in action, 41 999 wounded and 1 596 missing between 25 November and 12 December.
The total losses in operation "Mars" (215 thousands) are from Krivosheev's book on Soviet military losses. As far as I understand Krivosheev's team had copied them (as well as all other losses in operations) from the classified book edited by Shtemenko written in 1968.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Art » 12 Apr 2008 15:26

Acolyte wrote:A comparison of the amount of forces deployed in Operation Mars and Operation Uranus (which took place at the same period near Stalingrad)

Operation Mars: 23 rifle (=infantry) armies, 3 shock armies (= essentially motorised rifle units strengthened with tank brigades), one tank army, 2 air armies, 2 armies in reserve

Operation Uranus: 13 rifle armies, one tank army, 3 air armies


I think it's worth to comment this statement, probably it's late but it's better than never.
A quick search has shown that the source of this forces estimate is “The shadow of victory” by the known British publicist V. Suvorov. In particular Suvorov says:

Operation “Mars” wasn’t secondary and diversionary because more forces were used in it than in the Stalingrad offensive. Zhukov had 15 combined-arms, 2 shock, 1 tank and 2 air armies in the Kalinin and West fronts. Furthermore, this “diversionary” offensive was assisted by the forces of the North-West and Bryansk fronts. That is additional 7 combined-arms, 1 shock and 2 air armies. Apart from this, there was one combined-arms (68th) and two reserve armies (2nd and 3rd) behind this group. Total Zhukov had 23 combined-arms, 3 shock, 1 tank, 4 air and 2 reserve armies.
And Vasilevsky had 10 combined-arms, 1 tank and 3 air armies at Stalingrad.


This paragraph contains several serious errors. First of all neither the North-West nor the Bryanks front ever assisted operation “Mars”, as their armies were situated hundreds of kilometers from the Rzhev salient were this operation took place. The composition of the West and the Kalinin fronts is for the most part correct, except the non-existent tank army. The last mistake is somewhat excusable as it comes from the Glantz’s book, I’ll comment it further. The thing overlooked by Suvorov is that only a part of the forces of the two fronts was earmarked for operation “Mars”. Of 6 armies of the Kalinin front (except the air army), 2 (3rd and 4th Shock) were engaged in independent operation in the Velikiye Luki region, one (43rd) held a passive sector of the front north of Smolensk, the remaining three (22nd, 39th and 41st) were engaged in operation “Mars”. Of 11 armies of the West Front 6 (5th, 20th, 29th, 30th, 31st, and 33rd) were earmarked for operation, the remaining 5 defended a passive sector on the left wing in the areas of Spassk-Demensk, Kirov, Zhizdra, Bolkhov. So correct calculation gives us 9 armies earmarked for “Mars”. The inclusion of the reserve armies seems to be a dubious trick too, the played the role of general strategic reserve rather than supported “Mars”, moreover neither of the units they had in November-December was transferred to the central sector of the front. It should be noted, than calculating the forces at Stalingrad, Suvorov suddenly forgets about reserve forces, despite the fact that unlike “Mars” they were really used to support the offensive. The mention of the 68th Army is an outright error; this army was formed in February 1943, so it could be by no means used in operation “Mars”. To make a conclusion Suvorov simply tries to pull an owl on a globe, trying to find as more forces as possible for “Mars” and as little as possible for “Uranus”.

A comment on the "tank army". Most probably came from D. Glantz who assumes in his book that the 3rd Tank Army was earmarked for the follow-up of "Mars" (he calls this follow-up operation "Jupiter"). Glantz gives the following arguments to support his assumption:
Documents show that Rybalko's 3d Tank Army was resubordinated to Western
Front by mid-October for participation in Zhukov's operation. For example, see
"Prikazanie shtaba zapadnogo fronta No. 02213 ot 20.10.1942g. po organizatsii sviazi
vzaimosdeistviia" [Western Front Order No. 02213, dated 20.10.1942, concerning
the organization of cooperative communications], in Sbornik boevykh dokumentov
Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny, vypusk 19 [Collection of combat documents of the
Great Patriotic War, issue 19] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1953), 71. This collection was
assembled and prepared for publication by the Military-Scientific Directorate of the
Soviet Army General Staff, and was classified sekretno (secret).

Then he gives the following map for dislocation of the Soviet forces on the eve of "Mars":
Image
The map is rather misleading in some respects especially the date (26th September) seems to be very dubious.

The document mentioned by Glantz was indeed published in SBD #19, however it doesn't give the real dislocation of the Army by the end of November 1942. It's enough to open the history of the army by Zvartzev published in 1982 to know that in late October the Army was transferred to the south to the region of Plavsk (north-east of Orel) and remained there until it was transferred further to the south in late December. See also the scheme from the Soviet Military Encyclopedia, it gives more correct idea of Soviet forces dislocation than the sheme from Glantz (the 3 Tank Army is designated as 3 TA):
Image
So when the "Mars" started the army was rather far from the battle area and there are no reasons to believe than it was somehow earmarked for it.

Now let’s try to make a more valid calculation of forces earmarked for operations “Mars” and “Uranus”. The combat strength of the “Mars” armies was given in another thread. The totals are 702 924 men and 1 718 tanks, this figures don’t include units subordinated directly to the front. The strength of the combat units of the “Uranus” armies was as follows:
The South-West Front:
1st Guards Army 142 869 men, 199 tanks;
5th Tank Army 90 600 men, 359 tanks;
21st Army 92 056 men, 199 tanks;
The Don Front:
65th Army 63 187 men, 49 tanks;
24th Army 56 409 men, 48 tanks;
66th Army 39 457 men, 5 tanks;
The Stalingrad Front:
62nd Army 41 667 men, 23 tanks;
64th Army 40 490 men, 40 tanks;
57th Army 56 026 men, 225 tanks;
51st Army 44 720 men, 207 tanks;
28th Army 47 891 men, 80 tanks.
All the armies were employed in operation “Uranus” except the 28th, which only staged a diversionary attack on Khulkhuta west of Astrakhan on 20th November. So making the same sum as for “Mars” we obtain 667 481 men and 1 318 tanks. The 1st Guards Army’s figure evidently includes some units that were in the process of transfer and were committed to action only during operation “Saturn”, but it's a secondary factor. If one includes units subordinated directly to the fronts then the total strength of the three fronts was 782 458 men and 1650 tanks, if one includes non-combat units – 1 042 218 men. I tried to use the same method of calculations both for "Mars" and "Uranus" so I took only the strength of combat units of the armies, it would be incorrect to compare the full strength of the fronts for only a part of the West and Kalinin fronts' forces participated or were planned to participate in "Mars" operation. The conclusion is that roughly equal numbers of men were earmarked for “Mars” and “Uranus”, but the first one was considerably more tank-heavy.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Michate » 13 Apr 2008 12:49

Very nice comparison, however, it should be mentioned several armies of Don and Stalingrad fronts did not really attack but just held their static sectors as well, so their inclusion into the forces balance as compared to armies participating in Mars is somewhat arbitrary. Generally such a comparion should always be either "all forces actually in the attack sectors" or "all forces in the larger operational area".

There is also the question that armies that might have been participating in later stages of the operation had its beginning been successful were not used, because it failed before the time of their participation was to begin.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 14 Apr 2008 09:51

I thought it might relevant to this thread - the flowing quote is form The Secret History of WW II
Personal and Secret Message from Premier Stalin to President Roosevelt

Thank you for your message which reached me on November 27. I am glad to hear of your successes in the Solomons area and of the strong build-up of your forces in the Southern Pacific.
Feeling certain of the speedy expulsion of Germans from North Africa, I trust that this will help in launching Allied offensive operations in Europe. The intensive air raids planned for Italy will no doubt be very useful
We have achieved sоme success in the Stalingrad operation, largely facilitated by snowfall and fog which prevented the German from making full use of their aircraft.
We have decided to launch operations on the Central Front too, to keep the enemy from moving his forces south.
I sent you warm regards and best wishes to the U.S. Armed Forces.
November 28, 1942

Emphasis is mine.

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Re: Quotes on Zhukov and Operation Mars

Post by Acolyte » 14 Apr 2008 17:32

Thanks for all the replies! What about that Russian military periodical?

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