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May 4, 2021
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War: Moscow 1941-1945

The Battle of Moscow is rightfully considered a turning point in the Great Patriotic War. The army of fascist Germany, which was continuously advancing before this, was for the first time thrown back and went on the defensive.

Moscow made a decisive contribution to the struggle of the USSR against fascist Germany and its satellites. It is no coincidence that a number of historians are convinced that the defeat of fascism began precisely with the victory of Soviet troops near the capital, which took place from September 1941 to April 1942.

Awards

On May 1, 1944, by the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Armed Forces, the medal “For the Defense of Moscow” was established. As of January 1, 1995, over a million people have been awarded this medal. For outstanding services to the Motherland, heroism, courage and perseverance shown by the residents of the city in the fight against the Nazi invaders, on September 6, 1947, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the city, Moscow was awarded the Order of Lenin. And on September 13 of the same year, in the St. George Hall of the Kremlin Palace, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR N.M.Shvernik attached the order to the banner of the capital. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Victory, on May 8, 1965, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, he awarded Moscow the highest degree of distinction among the cities of the Soviet Union, famous for their defense during the war years, and awarded it the honorary title of “Hero City”. Together with the honorary title, the capital was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal.

Panorama of Moscow. 1941

MAMM / MDF

Workers of the Hammer and Sickle plant listen to the announcement of the beginning of the war on the radio

MAMM / MDF

The first days of the war, mobilization in the Red Army. Moscow. 1941

Union of Photo Artists of Russia

Defenders of Moscow. October 1941

MAMM / MDF

Population

At the time of the German attack on the USSR, the population of Moscow was just over 4 million people. However, by the beginning of 1942, the number of residents of the capital had decreased by about half. This was due to several factors. First, some of the residents were evacuated to safer regions of the USSR. Secondly, many Muscovites were drafted into the army and the militia. In total, about 900 thousand residents of the capital went to the front, and 850 thousand people returned back. The return of residents to the city from the evacuation gained scale only in 1944. By Victory Day on May 9, 1945, the number of Moscow residents was already about 80% of the pre-war level and exceeded 3.3 million people. During the years of the Great Patriotic War, 146 Muscovites were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

General meeting. At a halt, political leader I. Kuvshinov reads the latest messages from the Soviet Information Bureau to the people’s militias. 1941

MAMM / MDF

A significant part of the inhabitants of Moscow took part in the defense of the city as part of the people’s militia. Its main part was formed even before the approach of German military formations to the city. It included volunteers of pre-conscription age – young men from 17 years old and even younger, as well as persons who were found unfit for military service in the ranks of the Red Army.

By the fall of 1941, 12 divisions of the people’s militia had been created in Moscow, although it was originally planned to create 25 – one for each district of the city at that time. By September of the same year, these units were included in the Red Army and, in terms of staffing, were supposed to consist of 10,843 servicemen each. Most of the militia took part in the Vyazemsk defensive operation of the Red Army, where significant losses in personnel were suffered, as a result of which five of the 12 divisions were subsequently officially disbanded.

Draft to the Red Army

MAMM / MDF

Economy

The entire economy of Moscow was reoriented to the needs of the army and navy on the second day of the war. So, on June 23, the capital’s factories received new assignments for the production of products for the front. Moreover, this affected not only heavy, but also light industry and even food enterprises, such as the confectionery factory “Red October”. However, soon the work of the enterprises had to be suspended. German troops came close to the capital. For this reason, it was decided to evacuate a number of enterprises to the east – the threat of the seizure of Moscow by the Nazis did not allow maintaining production capacity in the city.

Ammunition manufacturing

MAMM / MDF

At the plant named after Vladimir Ilyich. Moscow. 1941

MAMM / MDF

Nevertheless, not all factories were evacuated, and over time, new production was deployed on the site of the evacuated. As a result, the Krasny Proletary plant during the war years produced special machines, bombs, mines and other ammunition. “Compressor” launched the production of rocket-propelled mortars, the “Borets” plant manufactured mortars, shells for “Katyusha” and large-caliber mines. The Parizhskaya Kommuna factory switched to the production of army footwear, the Trekhgornaya Manufaktura factory – to the production of fabrics for uniforms, greatcoat cloth and parachute silk. During the war years, the Mikoyan meat processing plant carried out the production of medicines based on endocrine raw materials, which were obtained during the slaughter of cattle. According to social scientist Vladimir Sukhodeev, every seventh aircraft built in the country, every fourth shell, third mortar and every second machine gun fired in the Soviet Union, were made in Moscow.

Sending tanks to the front near Moscow

MAMM / MDF

Key battles

The battle for Moscow from September 1941 to April 1942 ended with the complete collapse of the Barbarossa plan, according to which the USSR was planned to be captured in 12 weeks. In total, about three million soldiers from both sides took part in the battle for the capital of the Soviet Union. The date of the beginning of the battle is September 30, 1941 – on that day, the second tank group of the Wehrmacht went to attack the city’s defenses.

Parade on Red Square on November 7, 1941

MAMM / MDF

Parade on Red Square on November 7, 1941

MAMM / MDF

Red Army soldiers near Moscow. October – December 1941

MAMM / MDF

At that time, the Nazis threw their main forces on Moscow. The superiority of the Germans was in everything: in the number of soldiers, equipment, ammunition and supplies. Moreover, in some aspects, the enemy’s numerical dominance was inconceivable. Most historians agree that the Wehrmacht sent 78 divisions of more than 1.9 million people to Moscow. From Moscow, they were opposed by about 1.2 million Soviet troops. In addition to the one and a half times superiority in manpower, the Nazis had at least a two-fold superiority in tanks and aircraft, as well as a disproportionately better provision of food and ammunition.

Artillerymen are firing at German tanks in the area of ​​the Minsk-Moscow highway. 1941

MAMM / MDF

However, these tactical methods did not succeed in stopping the advance of the Germans. In November, fascist troops captured Klin and Solnechnogorsk near Moscow and began to cross the Moscow-Volga canal. The Germans were only 25 kilometers away from Moscow. The Germans made an attempt to break through to the capital in the Aprelevka area and in Khimki, but they could not realize their plans. The counterattacks of the Soviet forces managed to turn the outcome of the battle, and the reinforcements arrived in time to determine the outcome of the battle for Moscow – on December 5, the first, defensive part of the battle ended with the success of the USSR. As a result of the unfolding counteroffensive by April 1942, the fascist troops were thrown back 100-250 kilometers. Victory in the Battle of Moscow was achieved thanks to the selfless feat of Soviet soldiers, lives were brought to its altar, according to various estimates, from 470 to 580 thousand soldiers.

Georgy Balakov



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