Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East is the second to be completed in a projected three-volume history of the German-Soviet conflict in World War II. The first, Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East, covered the Soviet Army's liberation of its own territory and its drive across central and southeastern Europe. In the present volume, the German and Soviet forces initially confront each other on the approaches to Moscow, Leningrad, and Rostov in the late-1941 battles that produced the first major German setbacks of the war and gave the Soviet troops their first tastes of success. Later, the pendulum swings to the Germans' side, and their armies race across the Ukraine and into the Caucasus during the summer of 1942. In the course of a year, the Soviet Command goes from offensive to defensive and, finally, at Stalingrad, decisively to the offensive--meanwhile, frequently in desperate circumstances, building the strength and proficiency that will enable it to mount the relentless thrusts of the succeeding years.

In tracing the shifting Soviet and German fortunes, the author has had full access to the German military records, most of which fell into American and British hands. He has also made extensive use of the Soviet war histories, memoirs, and periodical literature. The result is both a panorama of battles, among them some of the greatest in the history of warfare, and an inquiry into the forces in war that shape and test the military power of nations.

Washington, D.C.
1 September 1985
Brigadier General, USA
Chief of Military History


The Authors

Earl F. Ziemke is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history. In World War II he served with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater. In 1951, he joined the staff of the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University. From 1955 to 1967 he was a historian and supervisory historian with the Office of the Chief of Military History (now the Center of Military History), and since 1967 he has been a research professor of history at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Ziemke is the author of The German Northern Theater of Operations, 1940-1945; Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East; and The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany, 1944-1946. He is a contributor to Command Decisions; A Concise History of World War II; Soviet Partisans in World War II; New Dimensions in Military History; U.S. Occupation in Europe After World War II; Strategic Military Deception; and Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan.

Magna E. Bauer was a member of the staff of the U.S. Army Center of Military History from 1947 until her retirement in 1970. Educated in Italy, Germany, and the United States, Mrs. Bauer was proficient in German, Italian, French, and English. During her tenure with the center, she did research studies and translations for several volumes in the center's World War II series. These included: Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command; Hugh M. Cole, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge; Albert N. Garland and Howard McGaw Smyth, Sicily and the Surrender of Italy; and Charles B. MacDonald, The Last Offensive. Mrs. Bauer also taught Italian and German at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School from 1943 to 1980. Mrs. Bauer died in December 1981.



During 1942, the Axis advance reached its high tide on all fronts and began to ebb. Nowhere was this more true than on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union. After receiving a disastrous setback on the approaches to Moscow in the winter of 1941-1942, the German armies recovered sufficiently to embark on a sweeping summer offensive that carried them to the Volga River at Stalingrad and deep into the Caucasus Mountains. The Soviet armies suffered severe defeats in the spring and summer of 1942 but recovered to stop the German advances in October and encircle and begin the destruction of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in November and December. This volume describes the course of events from the Soviet December 1941 counteroffensive at Moscow to the Stalingrad offensive in late 1942 with particular attention to the interval from January through October 1942, which has been regarded as a hiatus between the two major battles but which in actuality constituted the period in which the German fortunes slid into irreversible decline and the Soviet forces acquired the means and capabilities that eventually brought them victory. These were the months of decision in the East.

In the nearly two decades since Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East was published, much new information has become available. When Stalingrad to Berlin was written, the cloak of secrecy had barely been raised on the Soviet side of the war. Since then, Soviet war histories, memoirs, and articles have come in a flood; consequently, the author has treated the Soviet aspect of the war somewhat differently in Moscow to Stalingrad than in Stalingrad to Berlin. Where contradictions or discrepancies occur, the present volume can be assumed to be the more nearly correct. It would, in fact, have been easily possible to have written Moscow to Stalingrad predominantly from Soviet sources. The author elected not to do so for two reasons: the active impetus in the operations was German during most of the period and the German military records constitute a reasonably complete and reliable body of direct evidence while political doctrine and policy color and limit the Soviet depiction of the war. The Soviet war history has, moreover, undergone two general revisions, and there could still be others to come.

The reader may find a few explanatory remarks helpful. The order in which the volumes are appearing has necessitated a fairly comprehensive introduction. Military ranks above that of colonel are given in the Russian and the German forms because translation or conversion into U.S. equivalents would have engendered inconsistencies. Appendix A


provides a table of equivalent ranks--and demonstrates the problem. To keep them readily distinguishable from one another, German unit names are set in roman and Soviet in italic type. Diacritical marks to indicate hard and soft signs have been omitted in the transliterations from the Russian, which otherwise follow the U.S. Board on Geographic Names system. The maps are based on the 1:1,000,000 German Army High Command Lage Ost (Situation East) maps corrected, with respect to Soviet deployments, from the Soviet official histories.

The author is indebted to Professor Gerhard L. Weinberg, Dr. William J. Spahr, and Professor Bruce W. Menning, who took time from other pursuits to read and comment on the manuscript and who contributed insights from their extensive knowledge of German and Russian history. He is likewise grateful to his former colleagues at the Center of Military History, Dr. Maurice Matloff, Mr. George W. Garand, Mr. Charles V. P. von Luttichau, and Col. William F. Strobridge, for their advice on the manuscript and for their help and counsel over the years.

Members of the Editorial and Graphic Arts Branches in the Center of Military History carried the main burden of converting the manuscript into a book. Mrs. Sara J. Heynen was the substantive editor. Mr. Lenwood Y. Brown was the copy editor, and Mrs. Joycelyn M. Canery assisted in the copyediting. Mr. Roger D. Clinton and Mr. Arthur S. Hardyman prepared the maps and photographs, and Sp 6c. Marshall Williams designed and executed the cover for the paperback edition. The author hopes that his work may prove worthy of their efforts.

Possible errors and omissions can only be attributed to the author's failure to profit from the assistance available to him.

Athens, Georgia
1 September 1985


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