Der Alte Fritz wrote: ↑
22 Jul 2023 18:15
I have been addressing Soviet interpretations of the operations in early accounts.
The earliest account that I have is Voenno-istoricheskiĭ otdel Generalʹnogo Shtaba. [Military History Department of the General Staff] Strategicheskiĭ Ocherk Velikoĭ Otechestvennoĭ 1941-1945 gg. [Strategic essay on the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945]. Moskva: Voenizdat, 1961. https://vk.com/wall-45188300_1921?yscli ... p701554975
which is the General Staff internal (Top Secret) account of the war.
The date is significant as it comes after the death of Stalin and the XX Party Conference with its Secret Speech that denounces the cult of personality. The General Staff historians, the Generals with their memoirs and the ‘people of the 1960s’ (shesticlesyatniki) made up of those younger historians and soldier/historians (frontoviki) who had returned from the war. This grouping wrested control of the historiography away from the Party and the Institute of Marxist Leninism and began a revisionist debate that radically re-wrote the account of the war during the 1960s.
This period of debate can be said to have ended in 1967 with the Nekrich Affair and saw many of the revisionist historians banished to obscure corners of academia and even a few to the camps. (See Nekrich, A. M. (Aleksandr Moiseevich), and Vladimir Petrov. ‘June 22, 1941’ : Soviet Historians and the German Invasion. Columbia SC: South Carolina Press, 1968. and Markwick, Roger D. Rewriting History in Soviet Russia: The Politics of Revisionist Historiography, 1956-1974 / Roger D. Markwick ; Foreword by Donald J. Raleigh. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001.)
So we can regard this account as free from dogma and Party manipulation and a true account of the General Staff thoughts.
So what do they say:
The Headquarters of the Supreme High Command planned to achieve these goals by delivering powerful successive strikes on various sectors of the front and defeating the enemy's main strategic groupings. On June 6, 1944, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief wrote to Churchill:
The general strategic tasks of the troops were as follows.
“The general offensive of the Soviet troops will be developed in stages by the successive introduction of armies into offensive operations. At the end of June and during July, offensive operations will turn into a general offensive of the Soviet troops.
1) The troops operating on the northern sector of the front were supposed to defeat the enemy in Karelia and the Arctic, ensuring the withdrawal of Finland from the war.
2) The troops operating in the northwestern direction were to defeat Army Group North and liberate the Baltic states.
3) In the western direction, our troops were given the task of crushing ¬Army Group Center and Northern Ukraine, liberating Belarus and Western Ukraine, and helping Poland and Czechoslovakia in liberation from fascism.
In the southwestern direction, our troops were to defeat the Southern Ukraine Army Group, ensure the withdrawal of Germany's allies in the Balkans and Southeastern Europe from the war, and help the peoples of the Balkan countries in liberation from fascist oppression.
4) The troops of the Transcaucasian Front were entrusted with the task of defending the Black Sea coast in the section of the river. Psou, Batumi and firmly cover the Soviet-Turkish and Iranian-Turkish border.
5) The task of the troops of the Far Eastern and Trans-Baikal fronts did not change.
The plan of action for the Soviet troops in the sector from the Karelian Isthmus to the Carpathians was worked out quite fully in the General Staff before the start of the summer-autumn campaign . In accordance with this plan, the specific tasks of the fronts for the initial operations, as well as the time and sequence of their transition to the offensive, were determined by the directives and instructions of the Headquarters, based on political and strategic considerations. The actions of the troops in subsequent operations were already planned in the course of the campaign.
Their framing of the offensives patterns is interesting
Table 142 shows the following division of the frontline:
From the Barsntsovy Sea to Lake Ladoga (1500 km) - Karelian Front
From Lake Ladoga to Nevolya (750 km) - Leningrad, 3rd and 2nd Baltic Fronts
From Nevelp to Krasna-Ilskl (1650 km) N) ¬Baltic, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Belorussian, 1st Ukrainian
From Krasna-Ilsk to the Black Sea (550 km) - 2nd, 3rd Ukrainian fronts
with 1 Ukrainian Front listed alongside the Western Strategic Direction forces.
Thank you for sharing! I think the discussion of "directions" vs the SVGK coordinators is an interesting avenue to pursue. Along with Zhukov managing 2nd Belorussian, 1st Belorussian, and 1st Ukrainian, Vasilevsky was placed in charge of 3rd Belorussian, 1st Baltic, and 2nd Baltic on 7/9 (he had previously managed the first two).
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4
There's an interesting directive from 7/29 giving SVGK coordinators the authority not just to coordinate but actively manage their subordinate Fronts:
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/4
There's some evolution in the nature of their role in the Summer '44 campaign, as well as how the directions are divvied up, from April-July.
According to Vasilevsky, the timing of operations on both wings of the offensive in Belarus wasn't resolved until 7/8-9:
On July 6, I again asked the Supreme Commander-in-Chief in a telephone conversation to speed up the start of active operations of the 2nd Baltic Front. The advance of the right wing of the 1st Baltic Front along the southern bank of the Western Dvina every day increased its already significant separation from the left wing, and even more so from the main forces of the 2nd Baltic Front. This made it necessary to attract additional forces to support the 1st Baltic Front from the north and at the same time did not remove the threat to the main part of its troops, which attacked in the Šiauliai and Kaunas directions, especially since the Germans were constantly reinforcing their grouping in the Dvinsk region, hanging from the north over the armies of the 1st Baltic Front, removing for this purpose the troops that stood against the 3rd and 2nd Baltic fronts. At that moment, the right-flank 6th Guards Army of the 1st Baltic Front was fighting hard in front of Druya. Local villages in this area have repeatedly passed from hand to hand. I also reported to Stalin that in order to strengthen the right flank of Bagramyan's troops, we were withdrawing the 22nd Rifle Corps to the Dvina direction by July 8 and would try to have time to put the 1st Tank Corps in order after difficult battles by the same date. We planned to start the next offensive on July 9th.
The Supreme Commander-in-Chief agreed with my arguments and promised to determine the terms for the transition of the 2nd Baltic Front to the offensive after negotiations with the commander of this front, A.I. Eremenko.
On the same days, the issue of connecting to the operation in the north the troops of not only the 2nd, but also the 3rd Baltic Fronts, and in the south - the 1st Ukrainian Front, was resolved.
In terms of planning in the "northwestern" direction, on 7/1-2 Stalin met with Eremenko from 2nd Baltic Front, on 7/4 he met with Maslennikov from 3rd Baltic Front, and on 7/11 he met with Govorov from Leningrad Front. Vasilevsky met with Stalin in his office on 7/9.
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... /13/zoom/4
To put it in a timeline:
6/19: Draft plan for southern variant of 1st Ukrainian Front's offensive
6/20-22: Rokossovsky (and Zhukov) plan Kovel offensive
6/20-22: Konev in Moscow, producing final plan
6/23-24: Bagration begins
6/24: 1st Ukrainian Front modified plan formally approved by General Staff
6/26: Offensive plan for 2nd Baltic Front submitted (according to memoirs of its commander, Eremenko)
6/26-27: Regrouping of 1st Ukrainian Front begins
6/28: Directives for "stage 2" of Bagration
7/1-2: Eremenko in Moscow
7/4: Directives for "stage 3" of Bagration
7/4: Maslennikov (3rd Baltic Front) in Moscow
7/5-8: German withdrawal from Kovel
7/7: 1st Ukrainian Front submits orders to its armies.
7/8: Zhukov called to Moscow from Baranovichi. Vasilevsky as well, to discuss the Baltic operation
7/9: Zhukov and Vasilevsky in Moscow. Kovel plan approved, details of offensives on the flanks of Belarus nailed down.
7/10: Zhukov to 1st Belorussian Front.
7/10: 1st Ukrainian Front plan approved, with criticisms.
7/11: Final Kovel plan submitted.
7/11: Zhukov meets with Konev.
7/11 Govorov (Leningrad Front) in Moscow.
So by 7/11, maybe 7/12, all of the fronts north of the Carpathians have nailed down their plans and the timing of their operations.