Why the Red Army did not storm Berlin in February 1945

History 29/02/20 rbthПочему the Red Army did not storm Berlin in February 1945

12 January 1945 began the Vistula-Oder offensive operation of Soviet troops in Berlin. Within days, the German front collapsed for a long stretch. The Soviet army rushed into the capital city of Germany. According to the initial plan it was assumed that the person must be the turn of Danzig (Gdansk) – Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) – poznań – Breslau (Wroclaw). But pretty soon it became clear that in Berlin they can easily log for the specified line. On January 25, Soviet troops blockaded the town. The command has an opportunity with one blow to end the war.

on January 22, the commander of the 1st Byelorussian front, Marshal Zhukov in his order pointed the 1st and 2nd guards tank army in a preemptive seizure of the line of the Oder river – before it is retreating German troops. On 26 January, Zhukov was sent to the Rate proposals for the development of the offensive: “In the next six days of active actions to consolidate, tighten up all the stragglers, restock to two refills of fuel, up to two units of fire and rapid roll on February 15-16 to take Berlin.” The next day, a similar proposal was followed by the commander of the 1st Ukrainian front, Marshal I. S. Konev. He believed it possible, after a pause, caused by pulling up the rear, 5-6 February to resume the offensive front, and by the end of February to go to Elba, having a right wing promotion of the 1st Belarusian front in the mastery of Berlin. On the same day, Stalin approved both proposals.

February 1-3, troops of the 1st Byelorussian front reached the Oder river and seized a large bridgehead on its Western Bank. And then Stalin and Zhukov (who first is unknown) stopped the attack. The reasons for this stop order there are different opinions. Zhukov himself, speaking in late 1945 in the closed military researchthe first conference, responded to the accusations, why in February 1945, he stopped the attack on Berlin, bringing the war dragged on for another three months, and the capture of Berlin was accompanied by great losses: “of Course, Berlin had at this period a strong cover. On the West Bank of the Oder river of the enemy were only a few companies, battalions, separate tanks, therefore, this defense along the Oder has not been… be able to put a tank army Katukova Bogdanov and straight to Berlin, they might go to Berlin… But… the enemy could easily close the escape routes. The enemy is easily hit from the North, broke through our infantry, came to the crossing of the river Oder and would put our troops in a difficult position.”

the Soviet high command was alarmed by the growing gap between the 1st Belorussian front and its neighbors – the 1st Ukrainian and 2nd Belorussian fronts, particularly the latter. On the Northern flank of Zhukov recorded signs of concentration by the enemy of a powerful group. English historian Alan Taylor felt fully justified that “Stalin did not want to repeat the mistake Hitler in Stalingrad, or my own, made in February 1943, when the Germans recaptured Kharkov”. Another English historian, Basil Liddell HART, also regarded as stop the onset of an emergency: “the Law of the surge effort, as the result of excessive stretching of the communications, again came into action.”

In 1960-e years, the most authoritative critic of the solutions Zhukov in February 1945 by a former commander of the 8th guards army, hero of the defense of Stalingrad Marshal (at that time Colonel-General) V. I. Chuikov, whose troops took Berlin in April 1945. In his memoirs, published in the journal “October” in March 1964, he complained that Berlin could learn even in February 1945, thereby ending the war.

bugs, removed N. With. Khrushchev from all his posts in November 1957, addressed to the Secretary General with a secret complaint that Chuikov “black” and “discredits” it. In the end, the publication of memoirs Chuikov on orders from the top were suspended, and in June 1964, Khrushchev was involved in Chuikov abolished the post of commander of the land forces. But Zhukov felt unsatisfied after the removal of Khrushchev in October 1964 the post of General Secretary filed a complaint on Chuikova new Secretary-General of the CPSU Central Committee L. I. Brezhnev. At the same time Zhukov spoke in a “Military-historical journal” (No. 6, 1965) with a sharp objections to an opponent. Brezhnev asked the Chief political administration of the Armed Forces to judge the two debaters. The Office decided to arrange an open debate (17 January 1966), inviting them other commanders of the great Patriotic war and journalists. Zhukov at the debate did not come, and not because of fear of being wrong. On the contrary, he did not think it necessary to press his authority on the present, because already very many have attacked Chuikov. Dispute was not, it turned out the unanimous condemnation of the “troublemaker”. In closing remarks, Chuikov, however, stressed that it maintained its expressed opinion, though, and promised not to resume public criticism of Zhukov on the issue.

After the war it became known that the German command had in that period sufficient forces to deal a serious blow to Soviet troops in Berlin. This speaks in favor of the version of Chuikov. However, it is difficult to agree with his assertion that the capture of Berlin in 1945 would lead to the end of the war. As we know that in reality the surrender of Berlin and the complete surrender of Germany last week. In conditions when in the hands of the Nazis remained the greater part of Germany, including East Prussia, Austria, Czech Republic and Northern Italy, it is hardly possible to expect the surrender of the Wehrmacht.

So, from a military point of view, the right was Zhukov? Alan Taylor is inclined to think that a stop order in Berlin came from Stalin and had more of a political motivation. When the final defeat of Nazition of Germany seemed imminent, the priority for Stalin was not a quick capture of Berlin, and the adoption of the political influence of the USSR in Central Europe through the early lessons of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria. Who exactly and how soon to take Berlin – was not so important, because just at this time, 4 February 1945, at Yalta opened the conference “big three”. Already in front of her was agreed in advance that Berlin, as well as the whole of Germany, will be divided into four zones of occupation, and each power-the winner gets its own sector. That is most likely to accept the idea that Chuikov on the potential for Soviet forces to seize Berlin in February 1945, with the only caveat that immediately after the war that would not end, and also adding that his criticism was not addressed to Zhukov, and Stalin.

Yaroslav Butakov

© Russian Seven

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