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General Hermann Hoth's Panzer Group 3 Operations during the Invasion of Russia, June-October 1941

General Hoth led Germany's 3rd Panzer Group in Army Group Centre, in tandem with Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group, during the invasion of the Soviet Union June 1941. These two Generals encircled entire Russian armies at Minsk, Smolensk, and Vyazma, so very near to Moscow and ultimate victory. Hoth discusses his precise command decisions during Barbarossa to reveal new insights into how Germany could have succeeded in the campaign. The operational lessons from the war in the east would benefit a conventional clash of Titans in the 1960s. US Armed forces sequestered all after action reports from the OstFront in 1945 as they prepared to contain Soviet power. Map below shows the immense battlefield.

In July 1940 the operational plan for Barbarossa was devised envisaging Army Group North clearing the Baltic States of Soviet occupation forces and proceeding to envelop Leningrad with the assistance of the Finnish Army and then combining with Army Group Centre to attack and capture Moscow within the period of god weather and before the Ratsupista (period of mud) halted all military campaigns. Germany expected to destroy the Red Army and occupy European Russia within 10 weeks. The coup in Yugoslavia April 1941 delayed the invasion of Russia by 6 weeks.

The German Army was beset with problems in Russia, a poor road network, supply issues, a general lack of troops to first conquer and control Soviet territory. Soviet leadership was poor, but Soviet soldiers fought bravely, in particular, the fortress of Brest-Litovsk was defended to the last man for 14 days an intractable problem. Red Army soldiers believed dead, rose up and shot German soldiers in the back as they passed by. A platoon of German soldiers, missing one man, regularly disappeared in its entirety in the vastness of the Russian wilderness.

The superiority of the German people by virtue of their racial superiority and saving European culture from the encroachment of Asiatic barbarism ensured the immense battlefield was a zone of criminal barbarity where all Russians both civilian and military suffered cruelty under German occupation.

The effectiveness of armoured thrusts in effecting large scale encirclements and destroying the peacetime Red Army of 4.5 million soldiers did not account for the call up of 16 million potential recruits and the Red Army units released from the Far East to defend Moscow and forced the Germans to retreat 100km to Rshev, Vyasma and Orel where these railheads supplied the Germans with regular supplies in well protected winter quarters and the Siberians dissipated their attacks uselessly winter 1942.

See map August 20 1941.

General Hoth commanded 17th army of Army Group South; led the attempt to relieve the siege of Stalingrad and spearheaded the southern assault on the Kursk salient and surrendered to Us Armed Forces May 1945.

The inevitable German retreat from Russia ensuring fear of Russian captivity and revenge forced the German soldier to fight fiercely and in unified units to often defeat numerically superior Red Army units even until May 1945.

German arms prevented Western Europe from becoming communist, May 1945, the Cold War confirmed Russian intentions.

Source: Panzer Operations, Hermann Hoth, Casemate, 2015


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