Air University Review, March-April 1985
Lieutenant Colonel Barry D. Watts
Dr. Williamson Murray
DR. BRYAN I. FUGATE'S Operation Barbarossa: Strategy and Tactics on the Eastern Front, 1941* boldly attempts to dispute the view, long "taken as an article of faith" by bourgeois historians in the West, that the 1941 German attack on the Soviet Union caught the
*Bryan I. Fugate, Operation Barbarossa: Strategy and Tactics on Eastern Front, 1941 (Novato, California: Presidio Press, 1984, $22.50),415 pages.
Soviets by surprise, without any realistic plan or operative concept for coping with the situation that confronted them. (p. xix) The truth, Fugate maintains, is otherwise. While the Soviet political leadership would have preferred to delay major war with Germany until 1942 (or even 1943), by the end of December 1940 "it is evident that Stalin was beginning to have serious second thoughts" about what Hitler was preparing to do in 1941. (pp. 38-39) Fugate further contends that as the upshot of study conference and war-gaming sessions held in Moscow during late December 1940 and early January 1941, General (later Marshal) Georgii K. Zhukov was able to refute the previously held conviction that the Red Army could stop the Wehrmacht on the Soviet frontier, thereby implying that a German attack "would have to be continually drained of energy by successive echelons of defense located deep within Russia. " (p. 642) Recognizing the correctness of this view, Stalin quickly secured Zhukov's appointment as Chief of the Soviet General Staff.1 Armed by late March 1941 with increasingly detailed and accurate intelligence on German preparations for the invasion of the Soviet Union, Zhukov and the Soviet High Command proceeded, according to Fugate to set in motion a "concrete and workable" plan for the defense in depth of the Soviet Union in three echelons (tactical, operational, and strategic).2 (p. 51, pp. 34-35) The result was a balanced, combined arms response to Barbarossa that "went beyond the simple, straightforward plans" of the Nazis and, with the help of many "egregious blunders" by Hitler and the German High Command, saved the Soviet state from extinction. (pp. 34, 35) Thus, Fugate concludes, "viewed from any standpoint, the USSR was as well-prepared for war in June 1941 as it possibly could have been, considering the late start the General Staff under Zhukov's direction had in implementing a strategic defense plan." (p. 58)
Fugate's revisionist reconstruction of Barbarossa's history is, to say the least, provocative. After all, if Fugate is correct, then we in the West have profoundly misjudged the strategic competence of a Soviet leadership whose successors pose the greatest and most enduring threat to Western security. At a minimum, Fugate's revelations, if true, would represent the penetration of a Soviet strategic deception that has been in effect since 1941. But if Fugate is wrong, then his book could well distort the perceptions of an entire generation of Western historians and military officers. Consequently, right or wrong, Fugate's lengthy and seemingly well-researched examination of the Germans'1941 invasion of the Soviet Union merits close scrutiny, especially by those professionally concerned with a potential future war involving U.S. and Soviet forces.
Is Fugate's thesis about heretofore unsuspected Soviet military genius supportable? Insofar as this question is to be decided on the basis of available evidence--as opposed to one man's "burning conviction" that the conventional wisdom about Barbarossa is mistaken--the answer appears to be an unequivocable no.3 To go right to the heart of the matter, not only does Fugate's version of Barbarossa's history fly in the face of such highly regarded Western accounts as Barton Whaley's Codeword Barbarossa and John Erickson's The Road to Stalingrad, but it is flatly at odds with Soviet accounts. Indeed, so widespread is Soviet testimony against Fugate's thesis that we suspect historians, military theorists, and professional officers in the Soviet Union may be even more surprised by his "revelations" than we were.
The problems of surprise and the beginning period of war have, especially since World War II, been a recurring preoccupation of Soviet military theorists. The definitive Soviet treatment of these problems currently known to Western observers is a volume titled Nachal'nyy period voyny (The Initial Period of War). Originally signed to press in June 1974, 50,000 copies of this book were printed by Voyenizdat, the publishing house of the Soviet Ministry of Defense.4 The senior author associated with the volume is General of the Army Semen Pavlovich Ivanov. General Ivanov's military credentials include graduation from the Frunze Military Academy in 1939, participation in the 1939-40 war against Finland, involvement in Soviet planning for the Stalingrad offensive as well as for the Kursk operation, and five years (1968-73) as Commandant of the Academy of the General Staff.5 Besides Ivanov, six other contributors are identified (N. I. Gutchenko, L. I. Ol'shtynskiy, N. G. Pavlenko, A. F. Sopil'nik, N. A. Fokin, and F. I. Shestering), making Nachal'nyy period voyny truly the product of an "authors' collective." Because no comparable Soviet work on the beginning period of war is known to have appeared since 1974, Nachat'nyy period voyny apparently remains the authoritative Soviet treatment of this important subject.6
What does Nachal'nyy period voyny have to say about Soviet planning prior to Barbarossa? As it turns out, the book, has quite a bit to say. To quote from it at length:
The concept of initial operations . . . envisaged that the [Soviet] Armed Forces would make a powerful retaliatory strike against the enemy with the aim of repelling the aggression and shifting combat to its territory. . . . The General Staff elaborated an operations plan, according to which our main forces were to be deployed in a zone from the coast of the Baltic Sea to the Poles'ye, that is, on the northwestern and western axes. When, in September 1940, this plan was reported to the Politburo of VKP( b) Central Committee, J. V. Stalin raised the thought that the probable enemy would endeavor to concentrate its basic efforts in the southwest. The General Staff reworked the initially compiled operations plan and outlined a new one which envisaged the concentration of our main efforts on the southwestern axis. Since carrying out of the missions designated by the plan was to be executed in the form of a retaliatory strike after the strategic deployment of the main forces of the Red Army, in the first stage of the initial strategic operations the covering armies deployed in the border zone should, by active defensive operations with the support of aviation and the tactical reserves, repel the enemy thrust and thereby provide for the concentration and deployment of all the forces designed for making the retaliatory strike. . . .
The plan for defending the state frontier was worked out by the General Staff in the spring of 1941. On its basis, each of the border military districts was to elaborate its own specific combat plan. Such plans were drawn up, and from the 5th through the 20th of June  were submitred to the General Staff for approval.
Thus, according to the general strategy of the Soviet High Command, the immediate strategic aim . . . consisted in repelling the first strike of the enemy by using the troops of the first strategic echelon (the covering armies and the reserves of the border districts), in securing the concentration and deployment of the main forces of the lied Army, and in creating favorable conditions for making a retaliatory strike against the enemy.7
What does this account suggest? First, it explicitly states that in late 1940 the Soviet concept was to stop any Nazi attack at or near the western borders of the Soviet Union, thus creating the conditions in which the "second strategic echelon (the Dnepr was to be its deployment line)" could develop a retaliatory counterblow.8 Second, Nachal'nyy period voyny provides no clear evidence that this initial concept was ever revised in early 1941 along the lines that Fugate suggests. Instead, what the book states is that for a number of "objective and subjective reasons, " the most crucial being Stalin's misjudgment of the precise time of the German attack, by 22 June 1941 "the Soviet High Command had been unable to create the initial strategic grouping of the Red Army along the western frontiers in that form which the actually developing situation required."9 In short, if Ivanov and his coauthors are to be believed, the Soviet "system as a whole" was, as Barton Whaley argued in 1973, taken by surprise on the morning of 22 June 1941.10
Could the authors of Nachal'nyy period voyny be misinformed? Fugate does, after all, assert that because Zhukov and Stalin realized that "no force on earth" could have saved the Red Army units on the frontier "from being cut off and surrounded soon after the war began," they "decided that the deception would have to be good enough to deceive not only the Germans but also their own front-line forces." (pp. 45, 46) The difficulty with this explanation is that individuals such as Zhukov, who had to have been privy to what was really being planned, basically agree in their published memoirs with the account in Nachal'nyy Period voyny rather than Fugate's in Operation Barbarossa.
One of the more detailed firsthand accounts of Soviet General Staff planning prior to Barbarossa can be found in Marshal A. M. Vasilevsky's 1973 Delo vsey zhizni (A Lifelong Cause). In May 1940, Vasilevsky "was appointed first deputy chief of the General Staff Operations Department" and, under the general guidance of Marshal Shaposhnikov, he, along with N. F. Vatutin and G. K. Malandin, drew up the "considerations and the plan for strategic deployment of Red Army forces [that] were reported to Stalin in the presence of some Central Committee Politburo members in September 1940. "11 As in the Ivanov book, Vasilevsky reports that this meeting resulted in instructions to the General Staff to revise the plan in accordance with Stalin's opinion that the Germans' main effort would come not in the center toward Moscow but in the southwest toward Kiev and the Ukraine.12
To revise the original plan, a huge amount of work had to be completed by 15 December 1940. Although illness forced Vasilevsky to miss the study-conference and operational-strategic war games out of which Fugate makes so much, he does observe that the reason for the 15 December 1940 deadline was because on "1 January 1941 the command and staffs of the districts had to be able to begin work on their own plans."13 (pp. 37-43) He also notes that the amendments made to the plan before the December 1940 study-conference continued, after February 1941, to assume that the initial German thrust could "be contained by our rifle units and strongholds in the border military districts acting jointly with the borderguards," thus giving time for mechanized corps to counterattack, join with the infantry to smash "the enemywedges, and set the stage for a "decisive counteroffensive."14 Finally, Vasilevsky, in agreement with Nachat'nyy period voyny, explicitly states that as a result of Stalin's "gross error" after mid-May 1940 in refusing to make the political decision to go over to a full war footing, Soviet "troops were forced to accept battle with the aggressor under considerably worse conditions than they could have been otherwise."15
Offhand, it would seem a bit much to insist that a change in Soviet planning as dramatic as that alleged by Fugate could, or would, have been concealed from Vasilevsky--either in 1941 or, years later, when Vasilevsky dug through the Soviet archives to give his memoirs a "solid factual basis."16 Nevertheless, let us suppose, for the sake of giving Fugate's hypothesis every benefit of the doubt, that the First Deputy Chief of the General Staff's operations department was never let in on the secret. Even so, some high-ranking members of the Soviet military hierarchy had to have known; and Fugate, in the context of describing what the Soviets really knew about German planning in advance of the actual attack, names both Zhukov and Defense Commissar S. K. Timoshenko:
The 1940 plan for operations was revised under the supervision of Zhukov and Timoshenko in the spring of 1941, and they, no doubt, were well aware of what the Germans' intentions were, insofar as they had been set down in the Barbarossa directive of  December 1940. Zhukov says that the general staff intelligence chief, F. I. Golikov, "accurately summarized the evolution of the 'Barbarossa' plan by late March 1941." According to Guderian, "the plan for operation 'Barbarossa' was almost certainly known to the Russian command." Taking the directive itself at face value, the Soviet Supreme Command logically concluded that the Germans were more interested in reaching Leningrad and seizing the Ukraine before taking Moscow, and Stalin himself was convinced that this would be the most rational course to follow. (p. 51)
The disturbing thing in this passage is the statement attributed to Zhukov without a supporting citation.17 Fugate seems to intend the reader to infer that Zhukov's Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya (Recollections and Reflections) firmly supports his interpretation of events. The truth is, however, that Zhukov's memoirs categorically dispute Fugate's interpretation on virtually every essential point. Regarding the Soviets' operational-strategic concept in 1940 and 1941, Zhukov states:
In the operational plan of 1940, which after, refinement (utochenennyae) was in effect in 1941, the following was envisaged in the event of the threat of war:
Bring all armed forces to full combat readiness; quickly bring the nation to wartime mobilization;
to fill out forces to wartime strength in accordance with the mobilization plan;
to concentrate and deploy all mobilized forces in the regions of the western border in accordance with the plan of the border military districts and the military High Command.18
As for what the Soviets actually knew about the substance of Hitler's Barbarossa directive prior to 22 June 1941, Zhukov supports Fugate to the extent of citing Golikov's 20 March intelligence report containing a variant that reflected the essence of the German plan.19 But he immediately goes on to document that this and other vitally important intelligence was discounted by Golikov and others, including Stalin himself, as being false, if not deliberate misinformation.20 And beyond the failure of the Soviet political leadership to interpret correctly what later proved to be accurate intelligence on German plans for invading the Soviet Union in 1941, Zhukov further insists that this vital information was not given to the military:
Did the leadership of the Defense Commissariat and the General Staff know about information of this type that J. V. Stalin received? After the war Marshal S. K. Timoshenko assured me that he personally knew nothing. As chief of the General Staff, I also can attest that I was not informed about this.
From the first postwar years to the present time there have appeared here and there published accounts that say that on the eve of the war the plan "Barbarossa" was known to us, as were the direction of the main thrusts, the width of the front of deployed German forces, the number of Germans and how they were equipped. . . .
I can say with full responsibility that this is pure fiction.21
This passage directly contradicts against Fugate's account of what the Soviets knew in advance of Barbarossa.
To summarize the views expressed in Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya, the 1940 operational and mobilization plans were refined prior to 22 June 1941 in that the Soviets changed their estimate of the direction from which the main German blow would come. Still, Zhukov's memoirs give no indication that the concept of repelling the Germans on the frontier was abandoned. The intelligence data that Fugate claims informed Timoshenko and Zhukov's replanning for a theater-depth defense were not taken seriously by the Soviet political leadership. (Zhukov notes in Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya: "Comparing and analyzing all the conversations conducted by J. V. Stalin in my presence and in a circle of the people closest to him, I have come to a firm conviction: all his thoughts and actions were permeated by a single wish--to avoid war or to postpone its outbreak and that he was certain he would succeed in this endeavor."22 Nor, according to Zhukov, was this intelligence information made available to the military leadership. Lastly, the operational and mobilization plans that had been developed by the military and approved by the political leadership were not implemented "until the night of 22 June 1941, and even then not in full measure."23 Like Vasilevsky, Zhukov's published recollections identify Stalin's miscalculation of the time of the Nazi attack as the basic mistake from which so many others flowed.24
There is, then, something of a problem with Fugate's use of sources. To embrace Fugate's so-called revelation about Soviet military genius also logically necessitates embracing the proposition that the most authoritative sources regarding the substance of Soviet military planning in the late winter and spring of 1941 are rife with boldface lies. If Fugate is right, then Ivanov, Vasilevsky, Zhukov, and others are not only lying but also are all agreed on more or less the same lie. Even more fantastic, if Fugate is to be believed, since 1945 the Soviet authorities have evidently persisted in foisting this lie on each successive generation of Soviet officers as part of their professional military education!
Beyond Soviet accounts of the history in question, the evidence that Fugate offers for his revisionist interpretation of Barbarossa falls largely into two categories: first, tantalizing fragments of information about Soviet deployments up through 22 June 1941 and, second, a list of supposedly unanswered questions about combat operations during the ensuing campaign. In the first category, Fugate highlights the positioning of the Soviet Twenty-first Army near Gomel on what, by mid-July 1941, was the southern flank of Field Marshal Fedor von Bock's Army Group Center. "The Twenty-first Army," Fugate states,
did not just magically appear, nor was it slapped together in a rush and thrown into battle. It was there in position before the invasion, waiting to perform its mission--which it did with some effectiveness. (p. xxii)
Here the mystery seems to be exactly who alleges, or has alleged, that this unit magically appeared or was thrown pell mell into battle. Erickson's The Road to Stalingrad, which Fugate cites in his chapter on prewar Soviet planning and strategy, first mentions the Twenty-first Army as one of four Stavka reserve armies that Timoshenko ordered on 25 June 1941 to take up defensive positions on a line running from Sushchevo through Mogilev, Gomel, and Chernigov.25 Later, in describing the fighting involving Army Group Center at the end of July 1941, Erickson identifies this formation as one of almost a dozen Soviet armies flung into "fiery mazes of attack and defence" stretching from Velikie Luki in the north to Gomel in the south.26
As for Soviet force deployments prior to 22 June 1941 in general, Vasilevsky mentions, among others: in May, the movement of up to twenty-eight divisions from the interior to the western-border military districts; in May and June, the transfer of various armies from the northern Caucasus, Volga, and Ural military districts to the Dvina-Dnepr line; and in early June, the call-up and movement to the western frontier of some 800,000 reservists.27 Again, however, Vasilevsky and Zhukov are equally clear that the Soviets failed to complete the organizational and mobilizational measures that had been planned.28 Indeed, right up to the last hours, so paralyzed was the Soviet system as a whole by Stalin's fantasy that overt Soviet preparations for war might prematurely provoke a German attack,29 that the "Center" in Moscow did not even react when, at a number of places along the western frontier, the Germans started dismantling their own wire entanglements and making paths through their own minefields.30
Regarding heretofore unexplained mysteries about why Barbarossa turned out as it did, Fugate states that the Red Army's survival in 1941 cannot be adequately explained, as "most knowledgeable generals and historians" in the West have assumed, by "the miraculous combination of an early, severe winter and some incredible blunders, mostly Hitler's, on the part of the Germans." (p. 33) Now Fugate is quite right in claiming that these particular explanations do not, in themselves, completely explain how the Soviet army managed to survive the initial German onslaught. But to insist that the historical literature in the West offers nothing more is surely misrepresentation, as even a cursory perusal of chapters 2 to 6 in Erickson's The Road to Stalingrad demonstrates.
Nor do doubts about Fugate's grasp of his material end here. In describing German planning for Barbarossa, Fugate devotes a number of pages to discussing a logistical war gaming of the proposed campaign conducted in December 1940 by General Friedrich von Paulus (later commander of the German Sixth Army encircled at Stalingrad). In this early chapter, Fugate is adamant in stressing that von Paulus's logistical gaming of the actual German plan (as of December 1940) not only was "amazingly accurate in foreshadowing the actual course of events after 22 June 1941 " but showed the proposed plan to be so logistically inadequate as "to bankrupt, devoid of any chance of success. " (p. 84)
Subsequently, in describing the campaign after 22 June 1941, Fugate inexplicably does not return to logistics. The subject is not even raised when he later gives reasons for the pause of Army Group Center at the end of August. Instead, he ascribes most of the blame for the difficulties that the Germans encountered at this stage to the tactical stupidity and "jealous, egotistical, contradictory, and ill-informed leadership" of the German generals--especially of the "panzer general" Heinz Guderian. (pp. 147, 165, 170-72, 191-92, 203) Yet in light of such works as Klaus Reinhardt's 1972 Die Wende vor Moskau (The Turning-Point Before Moscow) and Martin van Creveld's 1977 Supplying Way (which we could not find among Fugate's sources), this tacit reduction of the campaign to a purely operational event seems to be armchair generalship at its worst. As van Creveld says, Barbarossa failed "on grounds other than logistic, including a doubtful strategy, a rickety structure of command and an unwarranted dispersion of scarce resources."31 Still, the German invasion of the Soviet Union "was the largest military operation of all time; . . . the logistic problems involved of an order of magnitude that staggers the imagination"; and the means with which the Wehrmacht tried to tackle these problems were extremely modest.32 In other words, Fugate's own explanation of why Barbarossa failed is at least as incomplete as that of the unspecified generals and historians he so readily condemns.
To push this last point a step further, an even graver omission throughout Fugate's campaign history is any palpable awareness of the inescapable frictions that, as Carl von Clausewitz wrote a century and a half ago, distinguished real war from war on paper. In particular, Fugate seems to believe that if events are, after months of archival research, fairly transparent to the historian working decades later, then they must have been equally clear to the participants at the time. We simply can find no other explanation for a sentence as blind to the inexorable frictions of war as:
Guderian's constant downplaying of the danger of a Russian breakout in the Shchara-Zelvianka sector in order to facilitate the rapid eastward movement of his panzar group must, in retrospect, be viewed as an attempt by him to delude the commander of the Fourth Army, von Kluge, and to provide von Bock with a false excuse to ignore the obvious risk of weakening the encirclement front at Slonim. (p. 113)
As Clausewitz admonishes us: "If no one had the right to give his views on military operations except when he is frozen, or faint from heat and thirst, or depressed from privation and fatigue, objective and accurate views would be even rarer than they are. But they would at least be subjectively valid, for the speaker's experience would precisely determine his judgment."33
Where does all this discussion leave Fugate's thesis about heretofore unrevealed military brilliance on the part of the Soviets in 1941? On the evidence at least, his position seems logically indefensible, especially if one places any stock at all in Ockham's razor--the principle that "What can be done with fewer [assumptions] is done in vain with more."34 To salvage Fugate, you must be willing to assume: first, that the Soviet sources most likely to have known what really befell the Soviet Union's Armed Forces in the summer of 1941 have, ever since, gone out of their way to tell the same lies about Barbarossa;35 second, that, by some form of analysis never revealed to the reader (indeed, never mentioned), Fugate alone has been able to penetrate these lies where historians like John Erickson have failed; and third, that Fugate's neglect of logistics and his blissful ignorance of friction in no way undermine his case. We would suggest, however, following William of Ockham, that there is a vastly more plausible and economic explanation: that the thesis of Fugate's Operation Barbarossa is simply not so. Stalin and the Soviet High Command were surprised and largely unprepared on 22 June 1941. The chapter titles with which Erickson characterized Soviet defensive operations during the initial three and a half months of Barbarossa are exactly right: "Disaster on the Frontiers" and "Towards the Edge of Destruction." As Erickson wrote by way of summing up the Soviets' situation in early October 1941, "the tally of almost three million prisoners of war in German hands and of the Red Army's strength falling to its lowest point in the whole war was lamentable proof of a persistent and ignorant profligacy with these once enormous armies and an almost soulless indifference to their fate."36 To depict Soviet planning and combat operations to November 1941 as otherwise is, on the evidence, to invent history.
There is a terrible irony in what we have just concluded--the kind at which only a criminal of Stalin's magnitude would have been genuinely amused. It is that if Dr. Fugate's deeper motive was to use his undeniably extensive historical research to say something important about how ruthless and tough an adversary Lenin's successors were in 1941 (and hence may still be today), he need not have invented, a thing.37 One of the rudest shocks that the Wehrmacht experienced in July and August 1941 was the discovery that, in contrast to the behavior typical of Western armies, Soviet units continued to fight ferociously even when hopelessly cut off and surrounded.38 Or consider that even during the darkest days of Barbarossa, the remorseless intensification of political control appears to have been more important to Stalin than even the demands of the battlefield; the lives of millions counted for nothing compared to the life of the party.39 For those of us whose profession involves the concrete possibility of fighting Stalin's successors in a post-Hiroshima world, there is surely more than enough worthy of contemplation in these two aspects of Operation Barbarossa alone.
Ohio State University, Columbus
1. Soviet specialists Harriet Fast Scott and William F. Scott have noted that under the influence of the cult of personality of Stalin, the "difficult initial period of the Great Patriotic War was examined in light of a forced thesis of intentional enticing of the enemy deep into Soviet territory for the purpose of exhausting and defeating him by means of combining 'active defense' with counter attack." The Soviet Art of War, Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics, edited by Harriet Fast Scott and William F. Scott (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), pp. 96-97. In other words, at the core of Fugate's interpretation of Barbarossa is a thesis that is known to have been imposed on Soviet military thinking in the years immediately after World War II as part of the Stalinist "party line." See Raymond L. Garthoff, Soviet Military Doctrine (Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press, 1953), p. 161.
2. Although Fugate posits a Soviet defense plan, the Red Army's 1936 Field Regulations (Vremennyi polevoi ustaz,) unequivocably accorded primacy to the offensive, stating that "only a decisive offensive in the main direction (italics in the original), concluding with persistent pursuit, leads to a complete annihilation of the forces and means of the enemy." Garthoff, p. 67. Garthoff, writing in 1953, noted that not until 1942 was defense explicitly admitted to be "a normal form of combat" in Soviet troop regulations, and that retreat was not added to the Red Army's Field Regulations until 1944. Ibid., pp. 67, 159. Thus, the Soviets' prewar commitment to the primacy of the offense was only grudgingly caveated during World War II, and since then Soviet writers have reiterated that, "this postulate [concerning the subordinate role of defense in relation to attack] remains in effect to this day." S. M. Shtemenko, Soviet General Staff at War, 1941-1915, translated by Robert Daglish (Moscow: Progress Publisher, 1970), p. 27.
3. The dust jacket of Fugate's Operation Barbarossa states that the book resulted from the author's studies and the "burning conviction that the history of the war on the Eastern front needed to be corrected. "
4. William F. Scott and Harriet Fast Scott, "Soviet Bibliographies and Their Use as Research Aids," Report DNA 6175T submitted under Defense Nuclear Agency contract DNA 001-79-C-0319, 31 December 1981, p. 25.
5. Biographical data by Harriet Fast Scott in Selected Readings from Military Thought 1963-1973: Studies in Communist Affairs, edited by Joseph D. Douglas, Jr., and Amoretta M. Hoeber (Washington, D.C.: GPO), Vol. 5, Part II, p. 31.
6. Ivanov's Nachal'nyy period voyny is the pivotal Soviet military-theoretical work drawn upon in Peter H. Vigor's well-received Soviet Blitzkrieg Theory (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983). As of January 1985, Nachal'nyy period voyny was scheduled to appear as the twentieth volume in the U.S. Air Force's "Soviet Military Thought" series.
7. S. P. Ivanov, Nachal'nyy period voyny (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1972). pp. 204-05. Emphasis added. The cited English translation is that kindly provided by members of the Directorate of Soviet Affairs (AFIS/INCF) at Boiling AFB (pp. 279-82 of the AFIS/INCF typescript). The Russian original identifies N. A. Fokin as the author of the portion of chapter 8 from which this passage was taken, The concept for initial and subsequent operations attributed to Soviet planners in 1940-41 by the Ivanov book is quite similar in overall pattern to the scenario frequently played in Warsaw Pact exercises to this day. For information on two recent exercises, see Frank Steinert, "Exercise BROTHERHOOD IN ARMS--1980," Review of the Soviet Ground Forces, Defense Intelligence Agency, DDB1100-307-81, June 1981, p. 9; and James Brusstar and Frank Steinert, "Exercise SHIELD-82," Review of the Soviet Ground Forces, DDB-1 100-412-83, May 1983, pp. 1. 2.
8. Ivanov, p. 282 (AFIS/INCF draft translation); p. 206 in the Russian original.
9. Ivanov, pp. 296, 294. (AFIS/INCF draft translation.) Regarding the situation that the German attack initially imposed upon the Soviets, Marshal V. D. Sokolovskiy has stated that the summer of 1941 was one of only two instances in the Great Patriotic War when the Soviets were forced--in this case by "the surprise attack of the enemy and . . . the unsuccessful outcome of the initial phase of the war"--to resort to strategic defense. As a result, Soviet troops on the frontiers suffered "unjustifiably heavy losses," and "the offensive intentions of the Soviet Command, which it attempted to put into operation [during the initial days of Barbarossa], were negated by the entire course of events." V. D. Sokolovskiy, Military Strategy, translated by Harriet Fast Scott (New York: Crane, Russak and Company, 1968), pp. 152, 428-29. By way of background, in the spring of 1941 then-Lieutenant General Sokolovskiy was reassigned to the Soviet General Staff G. K, Zhukov, The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (London: Jonathan Cape, 1971), p. 209. Also, in 1969 the third (1968) edition of Sokolovskiy's Military Strategy (Voennaya strategiya) was one of only five works nominated for the coveted "Frunze Prize," which is awarded annually for the best Soviet work on military theory or history. As Harriet Scott has noted, this nomination in itself "indicated official approval for the views presented and the esteem in which the book is held" by the Soviet authorities. Sokolovskiy, p. xvii. Emphasis added.
10. Barton Whaley, Codeword BARBAROSSA (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. 1973), p. 7. The basic question of Whaley's book is: "How did Hitler inflict surprise--on Stalin as well as on almost all the world's national leaders and intelligence analysts?" Ibid., p. 8. His answer is essentially that what Hitler did was not merely to make Stalin uncertain and therefore indecisive. Rather, Hitler's "ultimatum" stratagem "served to eliminate ambiguity, making Stalin quite certain, very decisive, and wrong. Stalin was misled into expecting an ultimatum before any attack, thereby giving him the option of conceding or prompting. Stalin's false expectation was the direct effect of Hitler's campaign to manipulate his victim's information, preconceptions, conclusions, and decisions. By the judicious transmission of disinformation he masked not only the time and direction of his attack, but also his very intention to attack." Ibid., p. 242.
11. Alexander M. Vasilevsky, A Lifelong Cause, translated and abridged by Jim Riordan (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981), pp. 73, 74. Marshal Vasilevsky's memoirs, Dyelo vsyey zhizni, were originally published in Russian by Politizdat, the political affairs publishing house, in 1973.
12. Vasilevsky, A Lifelong Cause, p. 75.
13. Ibid., pp. 75, 79.
14. Vasilevsky, p. 80. As Vasilevsky notes, even in the spring of 1941 several individuals "among the leadership of the Peoples' Defense Commissariat (especially G. I. Kulik L. Z. Mekhlis and Ye. A. Shchadenko)" were captured by the illusion of "easy victory," meaning the "incorrect view" that any German attack "would be quickly repulsed and that the war . . . would be carried to the enemy's territory." Vasilevsky, p. 77 in the Progress Publisher's translation of Delo vsey zhizni and p. 95 in the Politizdat edition. (The literal translation of Vasilevsky's words used here was provided by Lieutenant Colonel John Hines.)
15. Vasilevsky, pp. 84, 83, Emphasis added.
16. Vasilevsky, p. 6.
17. While Fugate does not give a citation for the words in quotation marks attributed to, Zhukov on page 51 of Operation Barbarossa, his notes and bibliography indicate that he relied on the 1971 Novosti translation of Zhukov's memoirs rather than the Russian original. The undocumented quotation in question can be found on page 228 of The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (London: Jonathan Cape, 1971).
18. G. K. Zhukov, Vospominaniya i razmyshieniya (Moscow: lzdatelstvo Agentstva pechati Novosti, 1974), Volume 1, p. 286. Emphasis added. The 1974 volume cited is an expansion of the original 1969 version. All translations from the second edition of Zhukov's memoirs were done by Lieutenant Colonel John Hines. It is likely that a great deal of Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya was written by a faculty member of one of the Soviet military academies.
19. Zhukov, p. 295. Golikov's 20 March 1941 report is one of several documents from the Soviet military archives quoted in Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya to show exactly what information the Soviets possessed on Barbarossa prior to the German attack. Ibid.
20. Zhukov, pp. 295-96. Although "Variant No, 3" in Golikov's 20 March 1941 report "in effect reflected the essence" of Barbarossa as it was actually executed, Golikov dismissed all the variants discussed as "disinformation coming out of British, or even, Perhaps German intelligence [Zhukov's italics]." Ibid.
21. Zhukov, pp. 296-97. The three cited paragraphs, which categorically contradicts key link in Fugate's reasoning, do not appear in the Novosti translation of Zhukov's memoirs on which he relied (compare page 229 in The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov with pages 296-97 in Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya). Harriet Fast Scott confirms that these paragraphs are not present in the original (1969) Russian version of Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya but only appear in the second (1974 edition). It may well be that Zhukov was moved to add these comments to the 1974 expansion of his memoirs precisely to close the door to revisionist theses about Barbarossa of the sort advanced by Fugate.
22. Zhukov, p. 287. Emphasis added.
23. Zhukov, p. 286. Zhukov stresses that the operational and mobilization plans could be implemented only by the special permission of the political leaders of the Soviet government and that this permission was not given until the early hours of 22 June 1941. Ibid.
24. Zhukov, p. 286.
25. John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin's War with Germany (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), Volume I, p. 140. Zhukov states that the General Staff had directed three of the four armies named by Erickson to begin moving forward from interior military districts on 13 May 1941; the Twenty-first Army's destination is identified as Gomel, Zhukov, p. 282.
26. Erickson, p. 182.
27. Vasilevsky, p. 81.
28. Vasilevsky, p. 82; Zhukov, p. 286. Moreover, Vospominaniya I razmyshleniya plainly suggests that the rationale for the force movements begun in mid-May 1941 was the General Staff's calculation that the troops in the western frontier districts would not be able to repulse the initial German onslaught without additional armies. Zhukov, p. 280.
29. Erickson, pp. 77, 91-92, 108, 109-10, 117, and 125.
30. Vasilevsky, p. 82.
31. Martin van Creveld, Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), p. 180.
32. Ibid., p. 175. That Barbarossa "came so close to its goal ... was due less to the excellence of the preparations than to the determination of troops and commanders to give their all, to bear the most appalling hardships, and to make do with whatever means were given to, or found by, them." Ibid.
33. Carl von Clauwwitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 115.
34. Ernest A. Moody, "William of Ockham," The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Paul Edwards (New York: Macmillan, 1967), Volume 8, p. 307.
35. Even in the case of Leon Trotsky, Soviet propensities to rewrite history as necessary to accord with the prevailing party line have not sustained a fabrication as elaborate and detailed as that demanded by Fugate's interpretation of Barbarossa. For example, the main historical distortion regarding Trotsky in the Progress Publisher's translation of A. A. Grechko's The Armed Forces of the Soviet Union (Moscow, 1977) does not lie in such things as the transparent denunciations of the Trotskyites' "'subjectivism, spontaneity and anarchism" or their alleged opposition to the principle of one-man command. (pp. 36, 41) The biggest distortion lies, instead, in the failure to mention at all the near genius displayed by Trotsky from late 1917 to November 1920 in transforming the Red Guards from "a motley crew into a multimillion man, disciplined, military force" which, under Trotsky's able leadership, defeated the White Russians led by such capable military professionals as A. V. Kolchak, A. I. Denikin, and N. N. Yudenich. Harriet Fast Scott and William F. Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, second edition (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1981), pp. 7-8. Moreover, in the case of Barbarossa, Western sources basically confirm the Soviets' overall account rather than contradicting it as they do in the case of Soviet depictions Trotsky's role in creating the Red Army.
36. Erickson, p. 222. As Garthoff concluded in 1953, "despite the theoretical awareness of the desirability of retreat under unfavorable conditions, the Red Army in 1941 was totally unprepared for withdrawal and defense in depth. The Soviets succeeded in accomplishing the exceedingly difficult task of stopping the German advance primarily because the Germans had overestimated their own capabilities, not because the Soviets had correctly estimated theirs." Garthoff, pp. 160-61. The magnitude of the disaster suffered by the Soviets during the beginning period of the Great Patriotic War is evident in the following statistics. During the initial three months of Barbarossa, the Soviets lost roughly two million men (most of whom were taken prisoner by the Germans), 8000 planes (more than three-quarters of the Red Air Force's strength on 22 June 1941), and 17,500 ranks (from an initial inventory of about 24,000). Garthoff, pp. 428-31.
37. Fugate's seeming belief that German military commanders who fought on the eastern front during the Second World War have universally denigrated the competence of the Soviet High Command ever since 1945 is, at best, curious. For instance, Fugate's note 71 on pages 357-58 of Operation Barbarossa discusses at length a map from a U.S. Army pamphlet titled Russian Combat Methods in World War II (Department of the Army Pamphlet DA PAM 20-230, Washington, D.C., 1 November 1950), which was prepared by a committee of former German officers at the EUCOM Historical Division Interrogation Enclosure, Neustadt, Germany, in late 1947 and early 1948. Contrary to what Fugate seems to believe, however, this document concludes that the Soviet "high command was good and in its hands the troops, purely as a human mass, were a useful instrument." Russian Combat Methods in World War II, p. 115. Indeed, the pamphlet goes so far as to state that the "higher echelons of Russian command proved capable from the very beginning of the war and learned a great deal more during its course. They were flexible, full of initiative, and energetic." Ibid., p. 8.
38. Van Creveld, p. 169; Garthoff, pp. 428-29. To cite one firsthand account of the ferocity with which Soviet units often resisted, even when cutoff: "During the winter campaign of 1941, a Russian regiment was surrounded in the woods along the Volkhov and, because of German weakness, had to be starved out. After one week, reconnaissance patrols met with the same resistance as on the first day; after another week only a few prisoners were taken, the majority having fought their way through to their own troops in spite of close encirclement. According to the prisoners, the Russians subsisted during those weeks on a few pieces of frozen bread, leaves and pine needles which they chewed, and some cigarettes. It never occurred to anyone to throw in the sponge because of hunger, and the cold (-30° F.) had not affected them." Russian Combat Methods in World War II, p. 6.
39. Erickson, pp. 142, 175-76,180, 213, and 222.
. . . the conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it--perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts. It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely; this is the trial heat which innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race. It is good that the old should resist the young, and that the young should prod the old; out of this tension, as out of the strife of the sexes and the classes, comes a creative tensile strength, a stimulated development, a secret and basic unity and movement of the whole.
|Will and Ariel Durant
Lessons of History, p. 36
Williamson Murray (B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Yale University) is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Military History and Strategic Studies Program at Ohio State University. He served as a Research Associate for the Airpower Research Institute, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and as a maintenance officer while in the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1969. Two of his books are Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1933-1944 (Air University Press, 1983) and European Balance of Power, 1938-1939: The Path to Ruin (Princeton University Press, 1984). Dr. Murrary is a previous contributor to the Review.
Lieutenant Colonel Barry D. Watts (USAFA; M.A., University of Pittsburgh) is a military assistant to the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Previously he has served as Red Team Chief for Project Checkmate at Hq USAF; Air Officer Commanding, 30th Cadet Squadron, USAFA; and a U.S. Air Force Academy instructor. Prior to that, he flew F-4s, including a combat tour at Ubon, Thailand. Colonel Watts is the author of The Foundations of U.S. Air Doctrine, which will be published by Air University Press this spring. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including the Review.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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