Why the Red Army lost the battle of Rzhev

History 10/03/20 Why the Red Army lost the battle of Rzhev

Rzhevskaya battle will forever go down in the history of the great Patriotic war as one of the most significant and tragic pages. Today we argue about the term “Rzhevskaya battle” because some historians believe that one should speak not about the battle of Rzhev, and on a series of successive 5 January 1942 to 21 March 1943 offensive operations of the Kalinin and Western front of the red army against German army group “Center”.

you Can discuss on the terms. You can review the expense of losses of the Soviet troops, because they are the authors of the mixing irrecoverable and total loss, increasing, thus up to half a million the number of dead Soviet soldiers and officers, at the time, as the victims were 155791 people. You can finally try to argue about the need of the battles for Rzhev, and that or had not had its capture decisive importance for military operations. But there is no doubt that Rzhevskaya battle became one of krovoprolitiya x battles in the history of warfare, no wonder came into use the expression “Rzhevskaya chopper”, and the second Rzhev-of Syczewska I offensive (25 November – 20 December 1942) is the only military defeat of Marshal Zhukov.

Why did this happen, what are the reasons for such huge losses?


Roperace “Mars” – so in the documents of the headquarters was called the Rzhev-Sychevka offensive e – and operation Uranus (Stalingrad battle) are two parts of a single plan. All actions Rzhev had the main objective – to distract the Wehrmacht from Stalingrad. The failure at Rzhev direction was compensated for the encirclement and defeat of the army of Paulus. Partly this view is confirmed by the memories of one of the top leaders of the Soviet intelligence in the 1930-ies – 1950-ies, General Lateran the state security P. A. Sudoplatov. It writes that during the radio games with the German command (operation “Monastery”) the Germans deliberately “leaked” information about impending attack in the area of Rzhev, thereby pulling the forces of the Wehrmacht from Stalingrad.

Rzhev and Stalingrad in the years of the war seemed to be the direct participants of events somewhat similar to each other. The unprecedented ferocity of the battles, bloody street fights, the desire of senior management to defend these points at any price – the resemblance really was. The only difference is that the Rzhev – it is like “Stalingrad on the contrary.” Rzhev was occupied by German troops, and they considered this city as the “gateway to Berlin”. Hitler became a matter of prestige to take Stalingrad and not to give Rzhev. Stalin was a matter of prestige believed to defend Stalingrad and to take Rzhev.

the failure behavior of the command of the German and the Soviet side was also similar: they refused to see the reality, wishful thinking. So, in November 1942, Hitler said in a speech on the radio: “I Wanted to seize Stalingrad… and there is nothing to be modest: he’s already taken…”. And this is before the beginning of the Soviet counterattack. Zhukov in December, 1942, gave the command of the 39th army nominal hours “For the capture of the city of Rostov-on-don”, although the village Olenino were released only on March 4, 1943.


a Number of historians, mostly of representatives of the local history of the Tver region, including O. Kondratiev and S. Gerasimov (incidentally, it was she who coined the term “Rzhevskaya battle”, which is disputed by the representatives of the Soviet military-historical science) believe that the reason of huge losses of the red army during the battles of Rzhev became obvious tactical mistakes of the Soviet command and poor training of the offensive.

the Red Army was advancing in the winter in a wooded area against a well trained and equipped, tied to local relief of the German defense. Rzhev was impossible covering a wide military maneuver that succeeded brilliantly in steps of Stalingrad. Frontal assault on a narrow space along the roads, in the snow and forests negated the numerical advantage of the red Army. A quick and decisive breakthrough did not happen.

Reflecting the onslaught of the Western front, the German command had made flank attacks in parts of the Kalinin front, which broke through, but failed to expand the area of breakthrough. Some Soviet units were surrounded.

In such conditions, the Soviet command showed examples often completely senseless fighting. Preserved the memories of the living members of these fights about how some German-occupied well-fortified village again and again thrown into battle a regiment of the red army, without any fire support. People go on the attack chain, they are shot almost in an emphasis, the attack bogged down, but after some time repeats again and again as long as remains in the ranks of 8 or 9 fighters. They are taken in defense regiment strengthen due in two or three days everything is repeated again: people are chained sweep through from all sides snow-covered field, and combat mission again remains unimplemented.

In General, most of those who write today about the Rzhev battle, agree that her story hasn’t been written yet. It is replete with mysteries and white spots, and still awaits its researchers.

Russian Seven

© Russian Seven

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