MarkN wrote: ↑
24 Mar 2019 21:25
Here is an excerpt from the OKH order detailing the reorganisation and relocation of formations OKH Gen St d H OpAbt (Ia) Nr.375/40 g.kdos
dated 26 June 1940:
Kuechler and Marcks had a face-2-face interview with Halder on, I think, 3 or 4 July to flesh out the Sonderanweisung
The meeting with Halder was on the morning of 4 July.
This from the Feldgrau website re. Eighteenth Army - “It was then involved in the occupation of southern France from 26 June 1940 through 20 July 1940. From 21 July 1940 through 21 June 1941 it was serving in the east along the northern Germany-Russian Frontier.”
So although the order for the transfer (above), the purpose of which was identified as being to secure ‘the German eastern border vis-à-vis Russia and Lithuania’, may have been issued on 26 June, it doesn’t seem to have been executed until the fourth week of July (though Marcks appears to have been established in Bromberg on 9 July).
MarkN wrote: ↑
24 Mar 2019 20:37
Dirks and Janssen, based upon captured documents found in the TsAMO, say that Halder asked for a study (contingency planning) of an attack on Russia in late May 1940. His staff produced a paper for him dated 19 June 1940. Apparently, it was based upon 80 divisions in the front line, 20 divisions in reserve. Nine weeks to complete mission to take Baltic States, Belorusija and Ukraine (possible Leningrad-Moscow-Kharkov too). Two groups: one north of the marshes, one south. Start date autumn 1940 possible. They claim this was the original Plan OTTO and thus predating Marcks' efforts. More info on this plan is in Die Zeit article of 1997.
It's almost the same info that was given to Hitler on 21 July 1940.
It would be interesting to read the TsAMO find. However I hope it is more substantial than the Die Zeit article, the key point of which is that Brauchitsch was able to present to Hitler at the Berghof conference on 21 July a pre-prepared plan for an attack on the SU involving a total of 100 divisions, and that this was only possible because Halder had been preparing such a plan for weeks.
The article suggests that towards the end of May 1940 (when he should have been fully occupied with the battles in Belgium and France) Halder began colluding with Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ernst von Weizsäcker to secretly prepare plans for an attack on the Soviet Union later that summer with 80 divisions and a 400,000 man reserve. (Odd because Weizsäcker was a diplomat and former naval officer, not an army officer, and was part of a pre-war anti-war faction in the German government.)
Halder was doing this without Hitler’s knowledge, he omitted most of the detail from his diary, and he even managed to keep his activities secret from post-war historians until the plot was unearthed in 1983 by Ernst Klink. There is little evidence presented to justify this claim of planning in May, most resting on an interpretation of subsequent events in June and July. On 16 June Halder arranged for 15 divisions to be transferred to their home districts in eastern areas of Germany once the fighting in the west was over and nine days later he persuaded Brauchitsch to issue the 26 June order (above) for the transfer of 15 divisions from the west to East Prussia and Poland to operate under the command of 18 Army as replacements for the eastern militia Landesschützen divisions that were to be disbanded. In all, the article states, 600,000 men were transferred to the east in a July without Hitler’s knowledge. Yet these actions don’t necessarily have sinister connotations. It was inevitable that once the fighting in France was over there would be a surplus of military personnel in the west. Disbanding the militia divisions guarding the eastern frontier once they could be replaced by regular divisions was sensible, as was the transfer of surplus divisions back to their home districts. As further evidence of Halder’s early offensive planning the article cites -
an order to pioneer troops on the border to undertake their construction works in such a way that the completed works could double as bridgeheads for offensive action, and
an assertion made in 1939 (and discovered in an archive of Moscow by Halder biographer, Hartmann, and his Russian colleague Sergei Slutsch) that, in essence attack is the best form of defence.
The article refers to Halder's meeting with Greiffenberg on 3 July, and cites it as an instruction to examine a ‘military strike against Russia' in order to demonstrate Germany's dominant role in Europe. It is not clear where this interpretation comes from because Halder in his diary only refers to a ‘military intervention’ that will compel Russia to recognize Germany's dominant position in Europe. The article suggests that key to Halder’s plan was a formation of two panzer corps under Guderian but subordinated to Eighteenth Army that would advance from a staging area west of Warsaw either to Bialystok or Lvov and, according to plans prepared by Guderian, to Kiev and Odessa. Oddly Guderian, not known for modesty, fails to mention any of this planning in his memoirs.
It is worth noting that on the evening before the 31 July Berghof conference Halder met with Brauchitsch and wrote in his diary - “The question whether, if a decision cannot be forced against Britain, we should in the face of a threatening British-Russian alliance and the resulting two-front war turn first against Russia, must be answered to the effect that we should keep on friendly terms with Russia. A visit to Stalin would be desirable. Russia's aspirations to the Straits and in direction of the Persian Gulf need not bother us. On the Balkans, which falls within our economic sphere of interest, we could keep out of each other’s way. Italy and Russia will not hurt each other in the Mediterranean. This being so, we could deliver the British a decisive blow in the Mediterranean, should deter them away from Asia, help the Italians in building their Mediterranean Empire, and, with the aid of Russia, consolidate the Reich which we have created in Western and Northern Europe. That much accomplished, we could confidently face war with Britain for years.”
That does not sound like a man itching for war with the SU and who has spent weeks devising a cunning plan.