Documents from the Stalin's archive

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Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 08 Mar 2021 10:12

Below are documents from personal files of I.Stalin (now kept in the fund 558 of the RGASPI archive) published online at:
http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... cards/4451

As far as I remember, published versions are only available from Russian IPs.

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 08 Mar 2021 10:20

Stalin's handwritten comments on the thesis of presentation given by People's Commissar for Defense Marshal Timoshenko on the concluding session of the conference of Red Army's leadership (31 December 1940).
1.jpg
Red font= Stalin's handwritten comments and corrections
Blue font = original text removed and corrected

Comments on the first page:
To my archive. I. Stalin
1.) Nothing is said above supply organs
2.) Little is said about staffs


5. Operations against the fortified regions found their realization in the breakthrough of the Mannerheim Line and Maginot Line in the West?.
? The Maginot Line was not penetrated by the Germans – it was bypassed from the north.

When breaking through the Maginot Line? the Germans employed essentially the same technical means and the same methods of breakthrough of the fortified regions [as the Red Army]
There was no breakthrough!

8. Here are in brief the first extracts from experience of the recent wars.
The main conclusion from them:
a) Rapid tempo of the operation is the decisive condition for success.
b) Rapid tempo of the operation is secured by massed employment of the moto-mechanized formations used for the first strike and continuous development of the strike to the depth.
c) Decisive effect of the air force is achieved not in raids against far rear regions but in concerted action with troops on the battlefield within the area of the division, army.

A series of successful breakthroughs in the West during the war of 1939-40 created among some scholars an idea of the crisis of modern defense.
This conclusion is hardly not valid.
It cannot be derived from neither Polish nor on the French Front where the Germans didn’t meet resistance that could be offered with proper employment of defense means (mechanization of defense works, a versatile arsenal of engineer means, powerful anti-tank weapons).
The Weigand defense Line, for example, which was built hastily and not fully in a modern fashion, on top of everything else completely lacked a prepared depth. But still, despite their manifold superiority, the Germans spent several days more than a week fighting this obstacle.

3. The war experience demonstrates that the modern defense cannot be limited to a tactical zone of resistance alone, but against new deep breakthroughs the second and probably even the third defense echelon is needed.


All these conditions met the defense regains its strength and retains its viability in the present time in the future.

5. Defense is not a decisive method of action to defeat the enemy: the last can only be accomplished by offensive. One resorts to defense when there is no sufficient forces for offensive or when it is profitable in current situation in order to prepare for offensive.

Defense is especially profitable only when it is designed to be a means for organization of offensive but not as an end in itself.
...
8. The main enemy of the modern defense based on solid fortifications is the tank employed in masses artillery. It was once again demonstrated by experience of the breakthrough of the Mannerheim Line. The second enemy is the tank with good armor employed on a massive scale.

9. The second third enemy of the modern defense is a close range airplane – bomber, ground-attack, fighter.
10. As concerns employment of artillery against defense by the attacker despite massive employment of other attack means (tanks, airplanes) not only its scale is not diminishing compared with 1917-18 but demonstrates some trend of qualitative if not quantitative growth. Only combination and concentration of these three arms can secure breakthrough of the modern defense line similar to the Mannerheim and Maginot Line. The Soviet troops were the only ones who successfully carried out such a breakthrough in the Karelian Isthmus.
The German troops didn’t break through the Maginot Line but bypassed it from the north. Those who want to learn the art of breakthrough of the modern defense line should study our operations in the Karelian Isthmus.

According to German views, that found their application in the recent events in the West, the attack itself is thought as massed employment of aviation and parachute troops to paralyze of the operational depth of defense, as massed employment of artillery and aviation on the battlefield in order to neutralize the entire depth of tactical defense, as massed employment of mechanized formations opening the way, supported by aviation and artillery, to the main forces of infantry and developing success on their own.
But all that pertains to the breakthrough of such weak defense lines as the Weygand Line.
These attack methods used by the Germans enabled breakthrough of hastily built Weygand Line and development of success in higher tempo that it was in the First World War.
The defender was in critical situation in terms of his lack of ability to carry out a counter-maneuver against an impending breakthrough, in operations of the First World War he always managed to organize resistance in the depth owing to absence of reserves and maneuverable groups of resistance.

10. What does the defender have to answer to these conditions? What requirements should be laid in the basis of the modern defense?
b) Defense should be in the second place an anti-tank defense, meant to resist a massed tank attack, about 100-150 tank per kilometer of front in the decisive sectors.
c) Defense should be anti-aircraft defense, capable of resisting strong air attack of attacker. Here we mean not only active anti-aircraft artillery defense but first of all defense with maneuverable fighter aviation the entire sum of activities which includes special construction and equipment of defenses and their meticulous camouflage.
a) Defense should be first of all artillery-proof, meant to save personnel and weapons from losses inflicted by massed artillery fire, especially during the first fire strike which is meticulously prepared in advance.
d) Defense should be multi-echelon, multi-line, and deep with resistance increasing in depth.
Since with employment of modern attack methods any movements on the battlefield during the attack are excluded are problematic due to a speed of tank attack accompanied by a mass of airplanes and artillery barrage, the defense should provide in advance during the preparatory period for all measures securing its viability and resistance.

In 1940 in France during the Somme River operation the Germans deployed on the 350 km frontage (Abbeville-Montmedy) two army groups with 95-120 infantry divisions and 8-10 tank divisions, which meant more than two-fold superiority of Germans.

In a nutshell the attacker should have an approximately two-fold superiority.

Proceeding to the question of the role of air forces in modern operations one needs to say to stress that the struggle for superiority in air, when the massive size and operational radius of air forces are considered, is the notion going beyond the front operation when the massive size of air forces and concerted actions with infantry are considered, should be carried out within the framework of front and army operations.
Struggle for superiority in air should begin in the peacetime. Its success is the result of training of personnel, numbers and quality of equipment, availability of abundant airfield network. It is carried out by decisions and activity of the government and instructions of the supreme command it is organized based on instructions of the front and supreme command.

Decisive elements in modern army operations are: a) experienced and bold leadership, b) seasoned troops, c) roads, road construction and supply of materials.
An operation brilliant in its concept can turn into disaster when, for example, fuel is lacking, and vice versa: even an abundance of supplies and availability of excellent roads cannot save an operation from failure when leaders don’t meet requirement of proper leadership, and when command cadres are dominated by stupid and weak-willed people, dupes and chatterboxes.

A. Mobile formations: trends in development and employment.

Recently in connection with certain increase of independence and larger defense capabilities of tanks, there was an emergence of views of giving wider larger independence to tank forces, in particular a tendency to have infantry support tanks not bound by infantry advance tempo.
It would be more correct to hold to a point of view that independent mobile groups of fronts and armies, equipped with powerful tanks of large operational radius and well supplied with motorized infantry (transported by trucks and motorcycles), mobile artillery, aviation and other combat means will receive larger and larger independence on operational and even strategic scale, as far as they will deal with weak hostile defenses (and not with such fortified defense positions as the Mannerhiem and Maginot Line).

1. Experience of recent wars
1. Experience of recent wars in the West demonstrates exceptional success of rapid execution of large offensive operation.
These success results from:
a) Exceptionally elaborate long and early preparation of the operation, availability of good intelligence, availability of the fifth column;
b) Skillful employment of tanks and aviation in large masses in cooperation with motorized and airborne forces;
c) Precise organization of material and technical supply and continuous maintenance of the operation.
d) Large superiority of attacker’s forces (two-fold superiority).
e) Disorganization of defender’s leadership


CAVALRY
Cavalry occupies an important place in modern war among principle arms, although little was said about it during this conference. In our vast theatres of operations the cavalry will be widely employed for the most important tasks: development of success and pursuit after breakthrough of the front.

ARTILLERY.
1. Experience of recent wars confirms with all obviousness that artillery in modern combat still retains its role of the main assistant breakthrough and strike force of infantry.

Experience of breakthrough of modern strongly fortified Mannerheim Line demonstrates importance of massed artillery areal fire and accurate fire with skillful employment of special types of ammunition.

ARMORED FORCES.

The war demanded from mechanized troops an ability to carry out any some combat missions…

It should be added that after corrections and amendments made by Stalin the Timishenko's thesis was published and distributed among the Army's leadership, so as to serve a kind of doctrinal guidance.
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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 08 Mar 2021 10:32

Analysis demonstrates quite a consistent concept behind these comments:

1. The strength of modern defenses and permanent fortifications is constantly stressed. Blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939-49 are considered not fully representative as they didn't face defense organized fully in modern way.

2. On the other hand Soviet attack on the Mannerheim Line is repeatedly referred as the ideal pattern of operations in future wars.

3. Artillery is given a crown of the main strike arm.

4. Importance of tanks and operations of large armored formations are not denied altogether but considerably downplayed. Again, the success in the West in 1939-1940 is attributed to lack of strong defenses.

5. The role of air forces is limited to operations over the battlefield in concert with ground forces. Independent operations are mostly excluded.

6. Large stress on quality and spirit of leadership.

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 14 Mar 2021 12:25

Telegram from the army commissar Ye.Shchadenko (sent from Gzhatsk/Reserve Front on 3 August 1941)
To Kremlin, Moscow, comrade Stalin
Comrade Malenkov
Comrade Beria
Copy to comrade Mekhlis

Yesterday late at night I returned from the area of Mutishche where I have spent three days helping the 106 Rifle Division to organize battle and further advance to Bolshaya Lipnya – Malaya Lipnya – Maltsevo – Yelnya.
First of all, regarding our people. Soldiers – despite absence of large caliber 152-mm ammunition for howitzers and guns and howitzers mod.1937 and complete absence of [our] air forces – are fighting steadfastly and endure hostile air, artillery and mortar strikes without panic or flight. And these excellent soldiers, mostly young people, who valiantly make bayonet charges, in combat actions and operations as a rule are thrown forward without leadership of commanders and commissars on the battlefield.
It is bitter to admit that commanders and commissars beginning from the battalion level and higher cowardly hide at command posts, in shelter and foxholes. Frequently during air, artillery and mortar strikes they behave dishonorably and cowardly before eyes of soldiers or even civilians. Examples:
1/ On 26.7 The staff of the 24 Army at Syomlevo was attacked by 4 bombers. Officers of the staff were having lunch at the Voentorg mess and dropping of bombs imbued such panic to “commanders” that they trampled women (medics, typists, mess personnel), overturned tables, smashed dishes, many were hiding under tables.
Worth to mention that the air strike despite 6 repeated attacks caused no immediate damage to the staff or the village, no one of panic-mongers was killed or wounded, but too much disgrace and bestial cowardice of officers was exposed, I was ashamed to observe shocked commanders chaotically running around. I literally grew savage while trying to stop mean behavior of the most panic-stricken officials, but that was, so to say, personnel of rear staffs and establishments. During the recent days I had an opportunity to observe behavior of frontline commanders and political officers, even more mean, dangerous and disgraceful that it was at Syomlevo. After a nightlong trip I had arrived to the division at about 5 a.m. on 30.7.41. I arrived to the divisional command post at about 6 a.m., so I could observe all the procedure of preparation (long and ponderous) and the battle itself or, it putting it more correctly, the start of attack, which missed all deadlines despite my attempts to expedite it. It started solemnly just like a liturgy with artillery, mortar, machine gun and other fire preparation without any movement forward, and when the artillery and other fire ceased and by a telephone signal soldiers went to attack, the enemy, who was hiding in shelters and foxholes during the preparation, manned his positions again and started to meet the attack with small arms and mortar fire. A renewed artillery preparation started with a two- or three-fold expenditure of ammunition without any effect, whereas an attack under cover of artillery fire would capture trenches of the enemy, intimidated by the Russian bayonet, much sooner and with all the hostile weapons which check out infantry in the unfavorable situation between our and hostile trenches. But for that we should have, as the military science experts say, a sufficient number of steadfast, selfless, always exemplary for soldiers commanders and political leaders.
Do we have them?
I insist that we have them and in sufficient numbers but right now we are not able to use them and make them lead the mass of Red Army soldier during the battle and operations.
On the morning of 30.7.41 according to an army’s order the 106 Division had to attack toward Yelnya and take it, if possible.
In the morning issuing orders, marches and deployment took more than 6 hours and when companies and battalions moved forward commanders and political officers stayed behind in foxholes and command bunkers in order to “observe the course of battle”, the right word is to observe instead of to lead, organize and inspire soldiers to heroic deeds in combat. And so these American [sic!] observers with authority of the system of military training of many years, not excluding the last years, cared the most about having their shelters and command bunkers reliably protected from artillery fire and air strikes.
They care so much about “precious” health and life of commissars and political officers that in eyes of bleeding and dying this “care” becomes a complete cowardice and betrayal of Red Army’s soldier masses.
Indeed, Red Amy soldiers in care about commanders and political officers build them solid and sometimes even comfortable shelters in the rear, which sometimes take much resources and most importantly time and materials.
Bound to telephones, commanders and commissars of battalions, regiments, and divisions sometimes don’t even see the battlefield, they don’t really command in battle in earnest, and very-very seldom they are in actual combat.
Masses are not led and not inspired by the commander and commissar during the battle and left to themselves usually suffer heavy losses and don’t know what to do in complex and changing situation.
That is what happened yesterday with attack of the 106 Division when at 13.00 its first regiment started an attack with its two battalions and in some cases didn’t suffer any losses during the advance. Why? Because the enemy wasn’t expecting that we start an attack in his lunch time and later after the lunch they started to envelope our flanks.
The first battalion was in the lead, neither the battalion commander nor the commissar were at their place and they couldn’t prevent the battalion from advancing to much forward, envelopment of its flanks, separation from the second battalion and encirclement. If the commander and the commissar were with this battalion (it was led by company commanders and political leaders) it is plainly obviously they won’t allow the battalion becoming encircled and in any case they would extract it from the pocket with smaller losses. Most importantly the soldiers’ faith in their commander and political leaders and in victory of their units and the Red Army is generally is shattered.
Battalions bleeding in view of passive observers suffered very heavy personnel losses, but worst of all they have lost the faith in themselves and their commander and political leaders who were looking cowardly from their shelters at betrayal of the personnel, while saving their own neck.
I was talking with wounded men after dressing, they spoke anonymously through tears that commanders abandoned them and nobody came to rescue in the critical moment, nobody led them.
Soldiers in grim mood refused from meal offered at the medical battalion. I felt myself like a criminal, since I also was at a 3 kilometers distance from these people, believing naively in telephone reports that “the attack gained ground”. Of course, I analyzed this case with the highest command and political leadership of the division and sharply demanded to change the tactics of command toward their subordinates, but I know that it is not the isolated case but a deeply rooted system which must be attacked, broken, uprooted from minds of leaders in its psychological and even ideological basis where mean selfishness and treacherous cowardice took their roots. We frequently hear talks that we lack officers and so they should be spared and saved from death by all means.
It is not the bolshevist way of dealing with the issue. Saving self-seekers or even good commanders we are risking to loose our Motherland, for the life and prosperity of which LENIN, SVERDLOV, FRUNZE, DZERSHINSKY, KIROV, SERGO, KUIBYSHEV gave their life and many thousands and millions of other excellent lives.
Now it is the question of life and death of our Soviet State, so should we really spare for its salvation some dwellers of command posts, foxholes and shelters? And these command bunkers themselves in my opinion are not the thing dictated by reason and bolshevist rationally, but rather by desire of men lacking smartness and courage to save own skin.
Veritable regimental commanders and commissars, as a rule, do not use these costly buildings but observe the battlefield from the point with the most vantage view on the battle from where they could offer assistance to fighting masses and prevent cowards from fleeing or hiding in holes.
If the regimental commander after issuing an order doesn’t check and doesn’t assist its realization, that means he is not interested in the order’s execution, that means he is a selfish double-dealer, red tape or political traitor. That is the only answer in the present war. No other answers are possible. Other answers to the question are not a contribution but a hindrance to out main goal – defeat of hostile hordes.
That is why in my opinion the People’s Commissar for Defense should issue a special order for commanders, political and other officers, which would sharply demand stringent responsibility of all officers for organization, security and conduct of battle.
We must stop that phenomenon when divisions, regiments, battalions and companies don’t know availability, losses and arrival of personnel. That happens because they do not take part and avoid preparation, organization, security and conduct of battle. That is the root of all our disasters, our instability and however much we execute soldiers fleeing from the battlefield, it won’t be solved, because we should execute also those who deviate from the battle and first of all - commanders and political leaders, those who do not count casualties, do not care about wounded, who leave soldiers without food for days.
I take all necessary measures to raise the combat value of the division, mercilessly punish self-seekers. Now I’m going to the 106 Divisions, where I am going to be until the end of the Yelnya operation.
The enemy is shattered, he lacks ammunition, his tanks are dug in for a lack of fuel.

No.322
SHCHADENKO
Translated from RGASPI f. 588, op. 11, d. 449, ll.112-121

It is obvious that this telegram gave the main impetus to the known Order No.270 issued several days later. Curiously, it mostly stayed under the radar for many years.

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 23 Mar 2021 07:48

Art wrote:
08 Mar 2021 10:12
Below are documents from personal files of I.Stalin (now kept in the fund 558 of the RGASPI archive) published online at:
http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... cards/4451

As far as I remember, published versions are only available from Russian IPs.
That used to be the case, however now it seems that I get little pop up images when I click on a document like RGASPI. F. 558. Op. 11. D. 499: Delo (Box): 499. The Red Army Infantry Fighting Charter. Part II

Yale Univeristy site https://www.stalindigitalarchive.com is a little easier to use to find specfic documents or themes but it is still pretty hard going. Is there an index somewhere?

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by AbollonPolweder » 14 May 2021 17:47

Art wrote:
08 Mar 2021 10:32
Analysis demonstrates quite a consistent concept behind these comments:
...
Do you have complete data to find this (original) document?
(Stalin's handwritten comments on the thesis of presentation given by People's Commissar for Defense Marshal Timoshenko on the concluding session of the conference of Red Army's leadership (31 December 1940)
https://sites.google.com/site/krieg1941undnarod/
Better to lose with a clever than with a fool to find

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 15 May 2021 12:26

RGASPI f.588, op.11, d.437 pages 25 and then
http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... 964/images

It should be added that the Timoshenko's thesis was printed and distributed among Red Army's top officer in 1941. The printed version included editions made by Stalin.

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by AbollonPolweder » 15 May 2021 17:30

Art wrote:
15 May 2021 12:26
RGASPI f.588, op.11, d.437 pages 25 and then
http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... 964/images
...
Thank you sir!
https://sites.google.com/site/krieg1941undnarod/
Better to lose with a clever than with a fool to find

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 22 May 2021 19:39

To Comrade Stalin

Commander of the 5 Army CHEREVICHENKO, having three rifle divisions, two rifle brigades, one tank brigade, two ski battalions and six reinforcing artillery regiments, not counting divisional artillery, launched offensive in the Gzhatsk sector pursuant to the front’s order on 22.2.43.
Incentive for the operation was the information about very weak hostile defense in this sector and withdrawal prepared by the enemy.
According to CHEREVICHENKO’s data, which was supported by a personal check-up made by KONEV on the spot, the enemy had two companies in the sector of the planned breakthrough.
The breakthrough was planned in the sector of 6 kilometers width.

As a result of the operation on 22, 23, 24, and 25 February the Army lost 5800 men of infantry (killed – 1700, wounded – 3700, missing – 400), one tank brigade was defeated (33 tanks).
No gains were achieved.
The operation was halted on 25.2

The reasons for this outcome lie in complete ignorance of CHEREVICHENKO.
CHEREVICHENKO demonstrated complete ignorance in artillery questions, which was the main reason for a criminal massacre of infantry.
CHEREVICHENKO proved to be incapable for even such a small operation. He has no idea what is the breakthrough and how to make it.
KONEV proved himself the same.

After penetration in hostile defenses to a depth of 1.5-2 kilometers and 2 kilometers along the front CHEREVICHENKO and KONEV were shouting about breakthrough, about a need to commit ski battalion and tanks for a “deep strike”. KONEV ordered to move a tank brigade to a ‘depth”.
When I said that it shouldn’t be done, KONEV stepped back and said literally “You should calm down – the brigade is not battle ready and it is not going anywhere, and, generally speaking, you (Bulganin) have a wrong assessment of the enemy. There are no reasons to fear the enemy now.”

KONEV personally visited CHEREVICHENKO before the operation in order to check readiness an to assist him and when he came back he reported that he paid special attention to artillery. He checked the fire plan and fire system, made correction and approved them all.
But when the things went bad at CHEREVICHENKO and we checked deployment of artillery on firing positions – it turned out that reinforcing artillery stands at a distance of 10 kilometers from the battlefield.
Light “USV” regiments – 8 kilometers from the battlefield.
At such a distance the artillery was employed without effect and just wasted ammunition.
Such were things with artillery.

To the depth of “breakthrough” CHEREVICHENKO with approval and by order of Konev on the night of 23.2 committed a ski battalion /350 men/. On the evening of 24.2 the battalion was cut off by the enemy and its fate is still unclear.
In the area of our penetration, which was 1.5-2 kilometers deep and 2 kilometers wide, very large infantry forces were operating: a regiment of the 29 Guards Rifle Division, the entire 49 Rifle Brigade, two ski battalion of the 144 and 29 Guards Rifle Divisions. The sector was oversaturated with infantry.
Such oversaturation of the battlefield with infantry only resulted in losses.
The enemy saw and took into account that very well. However, KONEV ordered to commit another rifle brigade (153 Rifle Brigade) in this sector. CHEREVICHENKO objected.
KONEV left CHEREVICHENKO to make decision himself on the spot, but recommended to commit the 153 Brigade.
The brigade was drawn into battle with one battalion. The infantry suffered heavy losses to hostile fire on 24 and 25.2.

I find it necessary and useful to remove CHEREVICHENKO from his post after this operation. It would be very useful for other army commanders.
Regarding KONEV. After watching him at Rzhev, Sychevka and watching him now, I consider him incapable of commanding such a large and important front.
He is of two high opinion about himself. Unfortunately, he sees himself as an outstanding military leader, and hence his flaw – he doesn’t want to hear either criticism or advice.

Bulganin [*]
26 February 1943
Notes on the first page:
27.II.43
To my archive. I. Stalin

From RGSPI f.558, op.11, d.441, ll.87-91

* member of the military council of the West Front

On the next day (27.2.43) general Konev was relieved of command of the West Front and general Cherevichenko – of the 5 Army/West Front.

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 05 Jun 2021 21:50

RGSPI f.558, op.11, d.494 to 499
Дело 494. Проект Полевого устава Красной Армии
1942 Red Army Field Manual and Infantry Manual
http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... ards/12021

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Der Alte Fritz » 06 Jun 2021 02:37

NKO Order 0353s 13 September 1941:
Shtat 10/78 Tank Regiment Tank Brigade
Shtat 10/87 Tank Regiment

http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/p ... 990/images

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 09 Jul 2023 22:04

A handwritten letter from marshal Timoshenko to Stalin from 7 June 1942:
Comrade Stalin!

To a report that we are submitting to your name, I would like to add a few words written with my own hand. First of all, the ever-increasing nervousness of comrade Khrushchev began to have a strong impact on work. We argue so much with each other that it cannot be described. Com. Khrushchev now believes in nothing, doubts everything and evades decisions in every possible way. Other members of the Military Council are also alert and stand aside. Everyone is pondering the question: what is the main reason for our failures? It is difficult for us to discuss this grave topic, all the more bad, since Comrade Khrushchev is very sick. If tomorrow comes an improvement in the health of comrade. Khrushchev then we will discuss the report he has delayed and send it by courier. All circumstances we described in detail, but did not say exactly who is to blame for failures and to what extent. Com. Khrushchev leans towards putting all the blame on me, but that would be wrong. I had every reason to believe in my own strength, knowing the troops, the commanders of divisions and armies, with whom I worked so hard and achieved objectives with much smaller forces. In addition, I had ascertained good preparation of the operation and everybody was sure of its successful outcome.

But, despite the experience of the armies and relatively good cadres, the following things came to light:

1. Our troops are still strongly sensitive to the fear of encirclement.

2. The experience of this operation shows the presence of low discipline and low authority of commanders of all degrees, especially medium-rank commanders. Otherwise it cannot be explained how well-organized armies in one moment got out of control of their commanders and turned into a disobedient crowd.

3. Experience shows the inadequacy of political work among the troops. Our political workers became bureaucrats. They got big offices, administration, and they don't speak with people. They do not explain tasks to people, they do not inspire people and they do not lead people.

4. Our political workers completely stopped caring about people. People are starving
for five days without getting any food, and we do not receive a signal from political workers.

5. Guidance of the units’ commissars of units by the political department of the front and political departments of the armies is below all criticism.

A good push is needed to get out of this swamp.

Your Timoshenko

7.6.42
Valuyki
From RGASPI f. 558, op.11, d.818, ll.7-8. Also published in "V shtabakh pobedy", 2020:

http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/5

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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 16 Jul 2023 21:14

A handwritten letter from marshal Timoshenko to Stalin of 22 June 1942
Special importance
Comrade Stalin!

Documents captured by us [1] and experience of the ongoing hostile offensive operations in general define the plans of the German command. As can be seen the plan which is put in the basis is essentially to draw and pin down our forces in the north, north-west, and west with sufficient forces by offensives to improve positions after the winter campaign and solid defense for a case of our counteroffensive. The main attention of the German command is aimed at capturing the North Caucasus and Transcaucasus with their oil regions. The attack on Rostov (by all appearance) is planned by encircling maneuver from the north and north-east with main forces reaching the Don River line. As seen from experience of the ongoing operations, the German command doesn’t aim their armies at deep invasion and doesn’t move away moto-mechanized troops to a large distance from the main forces of the army. By sequential, well thought operations with material supply calculated in time the enemy strives to encircle and destroy our forces by parts, enveloping single armies from both flanks, and launch the offensive on a broad front – 300 kilometers. It becomes clear that the enemy strives in the nearest future to defeat our trained and experienced armies with a smaller expenditure of forces and means. Simultaneously he wishes to create a base for securing a further deep invasion by moto-mechanized troops and tanks on our communications in the general direction Stalingrad-Saratov-Tambov. It is already apparent that the enemy possesses a reserve of tanks and airplanes and quickly replenishes losses. Besides, it is apparent that he made do thus far with young pilots and saved good cadres of pilots. By the present time appearance of well trained pilots in the air on the hostile side has become an obvious fact. It seems to me that we should take into account and thoroughly think over …[2]

First of all like never before we should calculate our forces and resources. Put a correct assessment of cooperation between fronts in the basis. Prevent encirclement of the armies in the period of large well prepared operations started by the enemy. Reform preparation of reserves. It should be said bluntly that people in charge of this matter are ignorant and don’t train men – they send them to the front completely untrained. Cease manufacture by factories of armament which is not needed by the army, such as 50-mm mortars, carbines etc. Reform security of the rear, because the existing system didn’t prove its worth. All responsibility for security of the fronts’ and armies’ rear should be given to military councils of fronts and armies. Rear of the armies and fronts should be secured by usual army units and formation. It is expedient to take all existing splendid divisions hanging around in the rear without business which are meant for security of the rear [3] and create from them shock reserve armies of the main command. I think it would be expedient to convene in the near future a conference of the front commanders to discuss assessment of the enemy and arrangement for conduct of operation and their mutual relation. All the principal work, I believe, should be prepared by the General Staff and presented for discussion - I’m sure it will be useful.

22.6.42 Your Timoshenko
[1] Obviously documents carried by major Reichel and captured by Soviet troops
[2] Several words obscured by a watermark.
[3] Meaning apparently NKVD divisions.

From RGASPI f.588, op.11, d.818, ll.10-11 (published online)

Art
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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 30 Jul 2023 19:06

A handwritten letter from marshal Timoshenko to Stalin of 22 June 1942:
Comrade Stalin!

Reorganization of the VVS as air armies undoubtedly enabled us to maneuver with air forces and deliver strong blows to the enemy. But from the experience of my sufferings [sic!] I must report to you that our aviation is not ready for that. Even such commanders as Vorozheikin and Khryukin do not understand the modern battle and tackle problems in a primitive way. They don’t take into account situation on the ground and for this reason make large mistakes. What makes things even worse is the fact that our air commanders understood the last reorganization as a form of independent actions of the air forces. Hence they made an erroneous conclusion that now they should operate by masses without regard of the situation. And in the very first moment we suffered very grave losses of aircraft. One should say bluntly that after arrival of comrade Vorozheikin a defeat of out air forces occurred whereas conditions where favorable and opportunity for successful actions from out side existed.

First of all, why are we losing many fighter aircraft? We started to escort IL-2 and bomber airplanes with large parties of fighters. At low altitude our fighters are decimated by hostile anti-aircraft fire and, secondly, they have to enter combat with hostile fighters as a rule in unfavorable situation. The enemy acts in a different way: he escorts his bombers by a small number of fighters, but obviously specially picked, who skillfully play their role in air combat.

As a rule the enemy calls his bombers to the battlefield from reconnaissance airplanes, which constantly hover in the air by single planes and transmit their observations by radio. Large groups of hostile fighters mostly cover their own troops. They carry out two missions very neatly: a) intercept our airplanes, b) reinforce their fighter groups escorting bombers in cases when large group of fighters appear from our side. It is apparent that radio plays a large role on the hostile side. Even in air combat what strikes the eye is a direction of combat from hostile side and a complete lack of direction from our side. By the way – I personally observe and gladly notice daring actions of our fighters, especially on Yak airplanes; they attack the enemy without regard of their own lives, but the absence of direction exerts the adverse effect – they quickly become messed up, chase each other and twice in front of my own eyes a “Yak” shot down a “Lagg” and another “Yak” shot down a “Hurricane”. It should be assumed that such cases are not singular and they don’t tell us about this because they don’t know themselves. It occurs to me that the problem lies in the fact that aviation commanders do not watch actions of air forces, they don’t study the tactics and methods of their adversary, for these reasons they don’t improve their tactics only tell repeatedly about superior numbers of aircraft on the hostile side and … [1] discourage our forces.

And the last point. We, having a hostile tank grouping in front of us, throw all forces of our aviation against it, but don’t deliver strikes at all against hostile aviation on airfields, while at this stage the aviation plays a primary role. It should be added that the hostile air forces have become insolent and concentrated it entire mass in a rather crowded manner on airfields of the forward line. It seems to me that we should strike hostile aviation on airfields at day and at night and that would make fighting hostile tanks easier for us, since with strong aviation on the hostile side it is difficult (frankly speaking) for us to fight tanks.

Today I was at the 38 Army, I also wanted to visit the 9th, but the situation in the sector of the 21st Army became difficult, and I hurried to return to the headquarters.

Troops of the 38 Army have been brought to order. Almost all divisions have been gathered. One division suffered large losses, the others were quickly replenished. The data that we reported to you on 26.6 have been completely refuted. There are losses of artillery (mostly destroyed in battle), as far as the personnel concerned the situation is completely different – men have been gathered and more and more arrive every day. We are reporting this and an after-action report will be additionally submitted. According to preliminary data the enemy suffered large losses in personnel and equipment, especially tanks.

Your Timoshenko
30.6.42

[1] Several words obscured by a water mark.
From RGASPI f. 588, op.11, d. 818, ll.12-14

Art
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Re: Documents from the Stalin's archive

Post by Art » 31 Aug 2023 18:35

A handwritten letter from Georgy Malenkov to Stalin, 24 September 1942
Comrade Stalin!

In a week of Gordov’s [1] work in the Northern Group [of the Stalingrad Front], based on numerous facts, I became quite sure that he is a weak commander. At first Gordov makes an impression of a demanding commander, but then, when you know him closer by his deeds, it turns out that he is a mediocre worker lacking initiative. He poorly assigns tasks to subordinates and doesn’t check execution of his orders. He is unable to line up people around him. He admires such worthless workers as Nikishev [2]. The front is absolutely beyond Gordov’s capabilities.

The staff of the Stanligrad Front comprises many workers who are accustomed to propose retreats to rear lines. These workers went through a grievous school of retreat through Ukraine; they cannot compose plans of offensive operations, not to speak of actively conducting them, and they don’t trust in success of offensive operations. Unfortunately, Kovalenko [3] happened to be a poor chief of staff. He is a weak-willed man and very inexact in work. Gordov doesn’t bring fresh air, rather, it can be said that he himself belongs to those commanders who are used to retreat. The staff of the Stalingrad Front should be refreshed with new workers from other fronts. (By the way, regarding Timoshenko, since the rotten staff is a heritage of him [4] – having examined his work in detail, I can say that Timoshenko appears to be a slacker, indifferent to the fate of the Soviet power and the fate of our motherland).

Such command and staff of the Stalingrad Front happened to be unable to knock the front together and make armies, corps, and divisions of the front well controllable. That became especially apparent in organization and conduct of the last operations. When we arrived to the Northern Group we found that our troops were not situated on the lines reported by the front but were much (6-8 kilometers) further to the north. There was no continuous front, the units had no contact with each other and didn’t even know where the neighbor units were. The command and staff of the front didn’t know the true situation and were complacent, believing that everything is alright. Such criminal attitude to work is apparently deeply entrenched in the minds of local military workers. Comrades Zhukov, Vasilevksy and I had to work a lot directly in troops in order to find out the true state of affairs, organize the front and establish control of the armies, corps and divisions in short time. Applying harsh measures without hesitation, all that time we worked with army, corps and division commanders, explaining to them mistakes and shortcomings of the past actions, raising their feeling of responsibility for the cause entrusted to them and, taking advantage of comrade Zhukov's experience, taught them organization of combat, especially the offensive combat, which Timoshenko and then Gordov didn’t teach at al.

Shortcomings of the past education of local commanders, including Kozlov [5], Malinovsky [6] and Moskalenko [7], who were also retreating all they time during the war, still exert their effect in conduct of offensive. Me and comrade Zhukov, of course, take necessary measures, interfere in every detail, do not hesitate to apply harsh measures, but it doesn’t suffice. It would be very useful to send here as soon as possible a good front commander (for example Rokossovsky or Meretskov), a good chief of staff and replace Kozlov, Moskalenko and Danilov [8] with strong commanders, who have distinguished themselves in offensive, and assign Moskalenko, Kozlov and Danilov and Gordov to less important sectors of other fronts. The front should also be given about six of the best divisional commanders so that other commanders of divisions can be taught by their example.

All these measures would enable us to eliminate in short time defeatist and rotten traditions of the South-West Front and build a real strong front capable of defeating the Germans and preventing by all means further advance of the enemy.

24/IX-42 Malenkov
1. Commander of the Stalingrad Front
2. Chief of staff of the Stalingrad Front until 10.9.42
3. Chief of staff of the Stalingrad Front after 10.9.42
4. HQ of the Stalingrad Front was built based on HQ of the former South-West Front, commanded by Marshal Timoshenko
5. Commander of the 24 Army/Stalingrad Front
6. Commander of the 66 Army/Stalingrad Front
7. Commander of the 1 Guards Army/Stalingrad Front
8. Commander of the 21 Army/Stalingrad Front


From RGASPI f. 588, op.11, d.762. ll.6-8

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