The final date for the attack was determined on April 30, 1941.
Directive of the Wehrmacht High Command No. 21 on the Barbarossa plan was issued on December 18, 1940. And on February 3, 1941, Hitler approved a directive on the beginning of the strategic deployment of troops in order to implement this plan.
The result was the concentration at the western borders of the Soviet Union – from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea – a grouping unprecedented in the history of wars: three groups of German armies (“North”, “Center”, “South”), a separate German army (“Norway”), Finnish army, two Romanian armies and a Hungarian corps group.
This is about her – the invasion army – Hitler shamelessly lied to the “German people”, explaining on June 22, 1941 the motives for the attack on the USSR: “The German Wehrmacht and the German homeland know that a few weeks ago there was not a single German tank or motorized division “.
Not a single one … In a few weeks such an armada can neither be thrown nor concentrated. Back in July – October 1940, more than 30 divisions were transferred from the West and from Central Germany to the territory of Poland and East Prussia to prepare the Eastern theater of military operations. In winter – in the spring of next year, trains with military equipment and manpower stretched to the eastern border of the Reich in a continuous belt. The total number of the German Armed Forces was brought to 7.3 million people, the active army consisted of 208 divisions and six brigades.
In the first strategic echelon of the Wehrmacht, Hitler concentrated 80% of all forces, which provided a powerful initial strike. There were 153 divisions and 19 brigades, including 125 German divisions and two brigades. They were armed with over 4,000 tanks and assault guns, about 4,400 combat aircraft, and almost 39,000 guns and mortars. The total number of these groups, together with the German Air Force and Navy allocated for the war against the USSR, was 4.4 million people.
In addition, in the reserve of the main command of the Wehrmacht ground forces (OKH) there were about 500 thousand soldiers and officers, 8 thousand guns and mortars, 350 tanks.
The German command paid great attention to the qualitative improvement of the armed forces, increasing their combat skill, equipping with new weapons and equipment, retraining command personnel, and improving the organizational and staff structure of the troops.
By the time of the attack on the USSR, the Germans had at their disposal the economic resources of almost all of Europe. By June 1941, Germany’s capacity for metal production, electricity and coal mining was approximately 2-2.5 times higher than the capacity of the Soviet Union. In the occupied countries, the Third Reich seized huge reserves of metal, strategic raw materials, equipment, and most importantly, the entire arsenal of weapons.
In September 1940, a new program for the production of weapons and ammunition was adopted, with the aim of equipping troops for the “eastern campaign”. Under this program, the most important direction from the second half of 1940 was the production of armored vehicles. If for the entire 1940 year 1643 tanks were produced, then only in the first half of the next year – 1621. The production of wheeled and half-track armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers increased. Much attention was paid to the supply of artillery and small arms for the Wehrmacht, the stock of ammunition was significantly increased.
In order to improve the quality of the Wehrmacht, new mobile units were created – tank, motorized and light divisions and brigades. They were intended to create tank wedges that ensure the depth and speed of the advance of German troops across Soviet territory. By June 1941, the total number of tank formations in the Wehrmacht had increased from 10 to 22 in comparison with May 1940, and the number of motorized (including SS divisions and brigades) – from 9 to 18.
Particular importance was attached to the creation of large motorized formations, including tank, motorized and infantry divisions. To control them in the “eastern campaign”, the headquarters of four tank groups were organized, which were entrusted with the same tasks for the operational command of the troops as the headquarters of the armies. Tank groups were supposed, like wedges, to break open the defenses of the Red Army and, following in front of the armies, rush to the main targets of the operation. Unlike field armies, they were not assigned the task of capturing and holding territory. The absence of bulky rear convoys increased the mobility of tank groups. The material and technical support of these groups was entrusted to the field armies, in the zone of which they were to operate.
To ensure the high combat effectiveness of the newly formed formations, the command of the ground forces included units and subunits from divisions that already had solid combat experience in Western Europe. Their replenishment with personnel took place, first of all, at the expense of servicemen born in 1919 and 1920, who were trained in the reserve army.
In aviation, the main emphasis was placed on achieving a qualitative and quantitative superiority over Soviet aviation. Much attention was paid to the preparation of the Air Force for striking Soviet airfields, for which the capabilities of aerial reconnaissance were expanded. As early as the beginning of 1941, the air corps in the west were instructed to reduce operations against Britain to such an extent as to fully restore their combat capability by the start of Operation Barbarossa.
Numerous command and staff exercises were held. Their main task was to develop the officers’ operational thinking. By the beginning of the attack on the USSR, the Wehrmacht leadership was able to fully provide the troops with qualified command personnel and create the necessary officer reserve. The most qualified command cadres were sent to formations intended for operations in the main directions. In tank, motorized and mountain rifle divisions, career officers made up half of the entire officer corps.
Since the summer of 1940, the Wehrmacht command began to pay exclusive attention to the equipment of the future theater of military operations. The entire territory of East Prussia, Poland, and a little later Romania, Hungary and Slovakia was intensively preparing for the strategic deployment of ground forces and air forces. In order to concentrate a huge number of personnel and military equipment in areas bordering the USSR, to create the conditions necessary for the success of hostilities, a developed network of railways and highways, airfields, an extensive communications network, training grounds, barracks were built, an air defense system was being established, etc. etc.
By the time of the attack on the USSR, the armies of Nazi Germany and its allies had fully completed their strategic deployment near the borders of the Soviet Union. The final date for the attack – June 22 – was set by Hitler on April 30. On June 14, at a meeting with the Fuhrer, the last details were clarified. Groups of German armies, which were on full combat readiness, were waiting for a signal to throw deep into Soviet soil.
… In order, against the background of this large-scale, ahead of time preparation of Nazi Germany to invade the USSR, to assert, as falsifiers do, that Berlin was forced to respond to Moscow’s “aggressive” plans, one must be distinguished not only by blindness, no, but by boundless shamelessness and immorality.
Map: Plan of Barbarossa, onwar.com
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