When comparing the encirclement battle of Minsk during June-July 1941 and later battle of Vyzama-Bryansk in Oct 1941, German infantry used 10 days to clear up the both pockets but the latter one German captured more POW than in Minsk, ( 300,000 in Minsk and 600000 in Vyzama-Bryansk), if you said Russian resisted more fiercely in Oct 1941 than in June 1941 is unlikely as German infantry used 10 days to clear up pocket to get 300000 soldiers in July but also used 10 days to clean up pocket but captured double number of POW in Vyzama in Oct.bam wrote:I have wondered about this for 20+ yrs! I have recently had an insight concerning the Russian troops morale. When Barbarossa started, Russian troops surrendered in droves. The average Russian grunt was very badly treated by officers and especially commissars. Once the retreats began in July, the troops were very disorganised, lacking leaders, lacking ammo, and most of all lacking food. This made the decision to surrender much easier.
Luckily, the Germans were so completely arrogant in their belief of their intrinsic superiority over the subhuman Slavs, that they treated the Russian POWs awfully. The word awful doesn't do justice...they treated the POWs in a psychopathic manner. We westerners moan about the way the japs treated our POWs, but the treatment of the Russians was much much worse. Put simply, there was no German plan to deal with them. The POWs were just marched to the rear, without any food, water or medical care. Any who couldn't march were shot. They were kept outside in the open in fields surrounded by barbed wire. The guards would torment & kill them for fun! There were very few instances of humane treatment. In 1941, about 4 million Russian troops became POWs. About 3 million died by Jan 42.
Now, a few POWs managed to escape and get back to the Russian lines. Their reports, along with reports from civilians, of the starvation cages and savage treatment, completely changed the attitude of the Russians about surrender. By Oct 41, most Russians knew surrender was a virtual death sentence. The soviet propaganda exploited this too.
So by the time of the advance on Moscow, op. typhoon in Oct 41, the behaviour of the Russians changed. Their were 2 large groupings of Russians surrounded in Vyasma and Briansk by 7 Oct, but instead of surrendering quickly, as their comrades had done when surrounded in July / August, the cut off troops fought on , tried to break out east, and this forced the Germans to divert a lot of infantry to slowly clear the pockets. This took a couple of weeks, critical weeks, when there were virtually no Russian forces between Army Group Centre and Moscow. Stalin was on the verge of evacuating Moscow on 15/16 Oct. if the Germans had been able to continue their typhoon advance soon after the closure of the Vyasma pocket, they could have got to Moscow virtually unopposed before significant reinforcements from Siberia could arrive. The extra 10-14 day delay, caused by the surrounded troops fighting on, was what saved Moscow. Now whether the fall of Moscow in Oct 41 would have meant German victory, that's another debate. But virtually no country that has lost it's capital city in a war has gone on to win.
So my simple insight into how could the Germans have won is this: they could have if all they had done was provide food and shelter for the Russians. If the Germans had advanced with loud speakers announcing "russkis, come over here for a warm meal and we will release you as soon as the Bolsheviks are beaten", I think that might have caused the whole rotten soviet structure to collapse.
German was master of encirclement battles, this was their basic fighting techiques in war, In June 1941, original Bialystok-Minsk pocket caught 500,000 Russian in pocket but many of them escaped from the pocket and only 320,000 were captured. It was because active Russian troop had more skill in fighting and escaped the encirclement and if many Russian surrendered in mass, why German did not captured all of 500,000 troops. And in South and North, Southwestern Front and Northwestern Front also succeeded in escaping German encirclement. I don't see them surrendered in mass. And by July 31 1941, only 790,000 Russian were captured in 40 days but in Vyzama battle which lasted for less than 20 days, they captured 670,000 Russian.
And again, when German successfully annhilated a large number of Russian troops in encirclement battles such as Kiev and Vyzama-Bryansk because they had adequate panzer and motorzied troops, in Kiev, both Kleist and Guderian had 8 x Panzer and 7 x motorized infantry divisions plus 1 x motorized infantry regiment and in Vyzama-Bryansk pocket, Guderian, Hoth and Hoeppner had 14 x Panzer and 8 x motorized infantry divisions with 1 x motorized infantry regiment. With adequate panzer troop, they could seal the pocket completely and then let the infantry clean up the pocket. This was about the successful or failure of military strategy and tactics, it was nothing to do with Russian willing surrender in mass.