Germany Invades Soviet Union Essay

1576 words - 7 pages

In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Catching the Red Army off guard, the Germans were able to advance as far as 50 miles into Russian territory on the first day. The Germans entered Stalingrad in September of 1942, and by October had captured the tractor factories, installations critical to the Russian defense. Later, Germans captured the workers’ settlement and numerous beachheads on the Volga, almost 80 percent of the city. Stalingrad was so critical to the Russian defense that the Red Army had sent all ten of its Reserve Armies to this one city. But the Soviets managed to halt the Germans here, and after months of bloody fighting drove the invaders from their city. ...view middle of the document...

The Soviet Union made major, important changes during the course of the war, and most of their reforms were in shifts in military strategy. The most important military technique was the Soviet Union’s implementation of its reserves. The Germans never employed reserves on the scale that the Russians did. Also, in 1942 the Red Army began rotating units for front line combat, and by Stalin’s Order #1457, Soviet units were to receive replacements only while in reserve. This reserve system allowed veterans of the rifle units to rest and recover from combat, while new soldiers in the unit had time to assimilate, improving the unit’s effectiveness. While the infantry would get rest, the division’s artillery would hold their positions, providing additional support to nearby divisions. Presumably, if two divisions were assigned to an area, the infantry of one was in the reserve and the other was in the front, while the artillery of both was engaging the enemy. This allowed for enormous volumes of fire without draining troop resources. One instance where the Russian reserve proved its strategic value was at one of the numerous battles near Mamayev Kurgan, in which the 38th Motorized Brigade, 92nd Infantry Brigade, and a division led by General Sarayev were supported by 3 regiments of heavy artillery, 3 anti-tank artillery regiments, and 3 katyusha rocket regiments. The Russians annihilated the German force—Chuikov later states that his 62nd Army was able to move their command-post and leave only an observation position on Mamayev Kurgan after this battle. This was an enormous amount of firepower supporting this operation, and it was evidently a determining factor in the Russian victory.
A second tactical shift that the Russians made was the way they trained their infantry to engage their enemies in combat. Early in the battle of Stalingrad, Marshall Chuikov observed the German attack pattern, and began to exploit it for his troops’ benefit. After the Germans struck Russian troops with airstrikes, their tanks and infantry would advance under cover of artillery and mortar fire. Chuikov determined that close battle would favor the Russians, because German airstrikes were not accurate and would not engage Russian positions without a wide space between the German positions and the Russians’. Russian production and training soon changed to reflect the needs of Russians in Stalingrad. In 1942, Russian infantry began to receive training in close combat, as well as combat in rough terrain and the use of camouflage and deception. Reflecting this, one of Chuikov’s orders was that his men should receive twice as many grenades as usual. Additionally, a so-called “rifle division” had only a regiments’ worth of riflemen but as the war progressed these riflemen had more and more support from automatic weaponry, such as submachine guns and light machineguns. This change in equipment correlates with Chuikov’s tactics and shows a Red...

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