Note on Sources
When the Allied armies overran Germany in the spring of 1945, they uncovered tons of German official records. The military collections were brought to the United States and remained in military custody until their transfer to the National Archives in 1958. Shortly after completion of research for this volume, the majority of captured German records were returned to the Federal Republic of Germany. Microfilm copies of these records and guides containing descriptions are available from the National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, Washington, D. C. 20408.
In the continuing absence of significant Soviet documentary evidence the German military records remain the best source for the study of German and Soviet operations in World War II. Of the German collections the Armed Forces High Command (OKW), Army High Command (OKH), and field commands (army groups, armies, corps) are the most useful. Of the relatively few pertinent German Air Force records that have survived, the best general summary is Air Ministry (British) Pamphlet 248, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1948). The German Navy was not involved directly in the main operations on the Eastern Front; however, three items from the naval records are extremely valuable for the light they often shed on the functioning of the German Command at its highest level. They are the OKM, Weisungen OKW (Fuehrer), 1939-45, a unique collection of Fuehrer and other top-level German directives, published as Walter Hubatsch, ed., Hitlers Weisungen fuer die Kriegsfuehrung 1939-1945 (Frankfurt a. M.: Bernard and Graefe, 1962); the War Diary, German Naval Staff, Operations Division (Kriegstagebuch, SKL), a comprehensive chronological account of the war as seen from the Naval High Command; and the Fuehrer Conferences on Matters Dealing With the German Navy, 1939-45 (1947), summaries of Fuehrer conferences attended by the Commander in Chief, Navy, or his personal representatives.
In matters pertaining to the Eastern Front the OKW records have several limitations: the collection is incomplete, the Eastern Front was not an OKW theater and, particularly during the period covered in this volume, the OKW was deliberately excluded from influence on and often even from direct knowledge of events and decisions relating to the Eastern Front. Nevertheless, the OKW War Diary (OKW, Stellvertretende Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes, Kriegstagebuch), published as Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Wehrmachtfuehrungsstab), edited by Percy Ernst Schramm (Frankfurt a. M.: Bernard and Graefe, 1961-1965), is the most comprehensive and complete chronological high-level record of the entire war on the German side. Helmuth Greiner's Aufzeichnungen
ueber die Lagevortraege and Besprechungen im Fuehrerhauptquartier vom 12.August bis zum 17.Maerz 1943 (MS # C-065a) affords a valuable supplement to the OKW War Diary, as does Percy E. Schramm's The German Wehrmacht in the Last Days of the War, 1 January-7 May 1945 (MS # C-020). Both Greiner and Schramm worked from notes they had made as keepers of the OKW War Diary. In spite of some questionable details, Joachim Schultz, Die Letzte 30 Tage (Stuttgart: Steingruben-Verlag, 1951), is apparently what it purports to be, a rendering of the OKW War Diary for the last month of the war. The Tagebuch Generaloberst Jodl, Chef des Wehrmachtfuehrungsstabes des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Jodl Diary) sheds random but sometimes crucially important light on decisions and events from the source closest to the top of the German High Command.
The most voluminous and complete of the OKW records pertinent to the German-Soviet conflict are those dealing with the last days of the war and the capitulation. They include German strength and loss estimates for the final period of the war, materials concerning the change in government and the decision to capitulate, and a draft of a projected White Book setting forth the history of the establishment and policies of the Doenitz government. The file Befehle vor der Kapitulation und anlaesslich Kapitulation an die Truppe contains the Armed Forces Operations Staff orders issued after the OKH was dissolved.
The OKH was the central staff for the conduct of the war against the Soviet Union, and after September 1942 the Eastern Front was its exclusive and sole operational responsibility. The OKH records that have survived, though substantial in bulk, are fragmentary. No complete, consecutive account similar to the Halder Diary or the OKW War Diary is available for the later years of the war. The diary of the Operations Branch, OKH, is reasonably continuous only for the months January to April 1945. The most valuable of the OKH documents are the Lage Ost (Situation East) maps, printed daily by the Operations Branch, OKH, at a scale of 1:1,000,000 and showing both the German and Soviet dispositions. The set is virtually complete and is the source, with some corrections and additions to Soviet dispositions, for the maps which appear in this volume.
Of the documents of the Organization Branch, OKH, those that are still in existence give information concerning German strengths, losses, replacements, manpower resources, and changes in the Army organizational structure. The most nearly continuous of the OKH files, though far from complete, are those of the Eastern Intelligence Branch (Fremde Heere Ost). The Eastern Intelligence Branch produced a vast number of intelligence estimates dealing with individual sectors and with the whole Eastern Front. It issued frequent short- and long-range summaries and from time to time made comparisons of German and Soviet strengths. Enough of these have survived to form a complete intelligence picture for the Eastern Front as it appeared to the Germans. The relatively small files of the Inspector General for Armor (Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen) contain significant documents relating to Guderian's incumbency and his
appointment as Acting Chief of Staff, OKH. A particularly valuable document for the light it sheds on Hitler's attitudes towards his generals and the Army General Staff in the period October 1942-October 1944 is the Taetigkeitsbericht des Chefs des Heerespersonalamts, the activity report of the OKH officer personnel section for the time during which it was directly under Hitler and his chief adjutant, Schmundt.
It is fortunate that both the OKW and the OKH records provide their best coverage for the last months of the war, the period for which relatively few field command records remain in existence.
One important set of high-level documents not properly belonging either to the OKH or the OKW collections is Fuehrer Conference Fragments (Fragmenten des Stenographischen Dienstes im F. H. Qu.), translated excerpts of which have been published in Felix Gilbert, ed., Hitler Directs His War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), and which have been published in full in Helmut Heiber, ed., Hitlers Lagebesprechungen, (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1962). The Fuehrer Conference Fragments are the remains (fifty in all for the months December 1942 to March 1945) of the transcripts of situation and other military conferences kept by the stenographic service in the Fuehrer headquarters.
For the history of the war against the Soviet Union the army group records are the prime sources. The army group commands were the direct link between the High Command (Hitler and the OKH ) and the front, and were, within the limits imposed by Hitler's method of command, themselves originating agencies for operational decisions. In accordance with German practice the field commands each kept an Ia (Operations) war diary in which were recorded the incoming and outgoing orders, summaries of reports and conferences, situation estimates, the progress of operations, weather, temperature, and other items of operational or historical significance. The orders, reports, and so forth, were filed separately in annexes (Anlagen) to the war diaries. Together, the Ia war diaries and their Anlagen were the central records of the field commands. At the army group level the war diaries were generally kept with a conscious eye to history, sometimes by trained historians; and frequently the commanding generals and chiefs of staff confided matters to the war diary that were not recorded elsewhere or transmitted outside the command. The army group records also provide operational plans, after action reports, transcripts of telephone and other conferences, message files, and files of Chefsachen--top secret documents that were not entered in the war diaries.
Of the army group Ia war diaries the following segments have survived: Army Group A (South Ukraine, South) 1 October 1942-31 March 1945, with Anlagen, October 1944-March 1945; Army Group Don (Anlagen only), 7 December 1942-28 February 1943; Army Group North, 1 October 1942-15 June 1944 with scattered Anlagen; Army Group Center, scattered Anlagen for the years 1943 and 1944 only (a photostat of the Ia war diary 22 August 1943-24 September 1944 was secured from the former keeper of the war diary, Prof. Herman Gackenholz); Army Group Vistula, Anlagen with longhand notes for the war diary 21 January-29 April 1945. Morning and evening reports
(portions of the September 1944-May 1945 war diaries of Army Group North and Courland) were available to the author of MS # P-114a, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion im Nordabschnitt der Ostfront, and are extensively quoted in the text and appendices.
The records of the armies are similar to those of the army groups in organization and content, but the armies usually did not have the top-level contact that the army groups had. In bulk the army records are far more voluminous than the army group records, partly because in most instances the war diaries and Anlagen are nearly complete to July 1944 and partly because the army records contain more after action reports, operational plans, and reports on antipartisan operations.
Except for captured records, interrogations, and analyses which have filtered through the German wartime intelligence agencies, virtually no significant Soviet documents relating to military operations in World War II have been made available. During the war the Soviet Army's Directorate of Military History, under the former Chief of Staff, Boris M. Shaposhnikov, from late 1942 until his death in 1945, issued through its department for the Utilization of the War Experience several series of monographs dealing with selected operations. Of those the most thoroughgoing and candid, and therefore the most restricted in distribution (division commanders and above), were the so-called Sborniks (Collections [of Materials for the Study of the War Experience--Materialov po izucheniyu opyta Voyny]). The purpose of the Sborniks was not primarily historical; they were intended to coach the higher commanders in battle-tested tactics; but to do that they had within limits, that is to say, avoiding criticism which struck higher than the front headquarters, to be concrete and objective. For the latter part of the war the Sborniks dealing with Stalingrad and the 1942-43 winter offensive are the most useful.
In the postwar period up to and for several years after Stalin's death, the few Soviet histories of military operations in World War II that appeared read like anthologies of the wartime communiqués from Moscow, which, in fact, they for the most part were. Interpretation was restricted to panegyrics to Stalin and vituperrative blasts against former friends and enemies alike. The most substantial publication to appear was a collection of Stalin's orders of the day interlarded with some of his other public utterances on military subjects.
In the years following the Twentieth Party Congress (1955), at which Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev gave impetus to a new approach to the study of World War II and announced the forthcoming publication of a Soviet official history of the war, the Soviet writings on World War II rapidly grew to a flood. The volume of information, however, though large by comparison with that released earlier, was not proportionate to the number of new works that found their way into print. Several of these stand out as marking high-water points in the disclosure of concrete information. The first to appear was Vazneishie Operatsii Velikoy Otchestvennoy Voyny (Moscow: Voen. Izdat., 1956), edited by Col. Pavel A. Zhilin.
It was a collaborative work and a collection of battle studies rather than a complete narrative history. It was carefully doctored to present a homogenized impression of military infallibility, but it did deal with the early defeats--as defensive successes. Stalin's name virtually disappeared, and the glory and credit were redistributed to the Party, the Army, and the Soviet people. Scattered mention of mistakes and errors, none big enough or reaching high enough to roil the smooth surface, gave a touch of critical analysis. Nevertheless, the book's great virtue was that it came closer to being a factual narrative than any Soviet work on World War II published up to that time. In 1958 General S. P. Platonov published a complete, one-volume history of World War II, Vtoraya Mirovaya Voyna (Moscow: Voen. Izdat.) The Platonov volume carried somewhat further the trend toward limited objectivity begun in the Zhilin volume and broached aspects of the Soviet conduct of the war that Zhilin's fragmentary approach had side-stepped. Both Zhilin and Platonov were associated with the Soviet Army Directorate of Military History and both were members of the editorial board of the Soviet military historical journal Voyenno-istoricheskiy Zhurnal. After Platonov other comprehensive single-volume histories appeared, some, like K. S. Kolganov's Razvitye Taktiku Sovetskoy Armii v Gody Velikoy Otehestvennoy 1941-45 (Moscow: Voen. Izdat., 1959), dealing with specific aspects of the war. Platonov's history remains the best of the shorter works. B. S. Tel'pukhovskiy, Velikaya Otchestvennaya Voyna Sovetskogo Soyuza 1941-1945 (Moscow: Voen. Izdat., 1959), an inferior, blatantly theatrical piece of historical writing, deserves mention on two counts: the author named all the important commanders--not a universal practice in Soviet writing of military history--and, apparently because the book is a revision of an earlier work published in 1955, Marshal Zhukov figures more prominently than in other Soviet works.
The absolute high-water mark, at least for the time being, in the Soviet writing on World War II was reached with the publication, beginning in 1960, of the six-volume official Istoriya Velikoy Otchestvennoy Voyny Sovetskogo Soyuze 1941-1945 (Moscow: Voen. Izdat., 1960-63). The official history covers in substantial detail the whole military, political, and economic history of World War II, including its origins and its aftermath. The authorship is collective and includes prominently three of the writers mentioned above, Zhilin, Platonov, and Tel'pukhovskiy among some dozens of others. Certain of the sections dealing with Soviet military operations appear to follow, in places almost word for word, the Platonov history. On the whole, the accounts of military operations carry forward the trends observed in the Zhilin and Platonov works without achieving genuine frankness. Names, dates, units, tactical maneuvers, and operational plans are given more coherent treatment than in the earlier works. Soviet mistakes, defeats, and setbacks, with relatively few known exceptions, though not ignored, are often as not handled so obliquely as to escape all but the closest attention. Strengths, losses, and other statistics are given in detail for the German and other armies but not for the Soviet forces. For the first time a few Soviet strengths are given in concrete figures, but the Soviet casualties and losses continue to
be thoroughly ignored. The volumes are heavily documented with sources published outside the Soviet Union but only with meaningless file-number references to Soviet documents. The process of high-level decision making is left nebulous except for frequent citations of uniformly correct, timely, and presumably unanimous decisions and directives from the Stavka.
To provide the Army with a comprehensive record of the German military experience in World War II, the Foreign Military Studies Program of the Historical Division, United States Army, Europe, produced by the time it was terminated in 1961 some 2,400 manuscripts. The authors were, for the most part, former high-ranking German officers. At first they wrote mainly from memory about events in which they had personally played key roles. Beginning in 1948 more comprehensive projects were initiated. These were assigned to teams who then made use of records in the custody of the United States Army, records secured through private sources, interviews, and their own experience. The over-all supervision and direction was in the hands of the Control Group, headed throughout its existence by Generaloberst a. D. Franz Halder. In 1954 the Historical Division, United States Army, Europe, published a complete list of the manuscripts then completed or projected in the Guide to Foreign Military Studies 1945-54. A full set of the manuscripts is on deposit in the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. A second set has been furnished to the historical office of the German Bundeswehr.
In the Foreign Military Studies Series the war against the Soviet Union is covered at the strategic level by MS # T-9, Generaloberst a. D. Gotthard Heinrici, Der Feldzug in Russland ein operativer Ueberblick; and at the army group level by MS # P-114a, Generalleutnant a. D. Friedrich Sixt, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion im Nordabschnitt der Ost front, by MS # P-114b, General der Infanterie a. D. Rudolf Hofmann, Der Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion im Mittelabschnitt der Ostfront, and by MS # P-114c, General der Artillerie a. D. Friedrich Wilhelm Hauck, Die Operationen der deutschen Heeresgruppen an der Ostfront 1941 bis 1945 suedliches Gebiet. The events of 1944 and 1945 in the Southeastern Theater are covered in MS # P-114c Supplement, Generalmajor a. D. Erich Schmidt-Richberg and Generalmajor a. D. Curt Ritter von Geitner, Die Kriegsereignisse auf dem Balkan im Rahmen der deutschen Operationen an der Ost front, 1944-1945. Army, corps, and division operations are treated selectively in separate studies.
Particular aspects of the war in the East are dealt with in, among others, MSS # P-060 a-0, Generalmajor a. D. Hellmuth Reinhardt and others, Small Unit Actions (condensed version published as Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-269, July 1953, Small Unit Actions During the German Campaign in Russia) and MS # T-12, Generalmajor a. D. Oldwig von Natzmer and others, Das Zurueckkaempfen eingekesselter Verbaende zur eigenen Front (published as Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-234, January 1952, Operations of Encircled Forces). Incidents and events of particular historical interest are
treated in such accounts as MS # B-606, Oberst a. D. Guenther Reichheim, The Last Rally, Battles Fought by the German Twelfth Army in the Heart of Germany, and MS # B-220, General der Panzertruppen a. D. Maximilian Freiherr von Edelsheim, Die Kapitulationsverhandlungen der 12. (deutschen) mit der 9. (amerikanischen) Armee am 4 Mai 1945 in Stendal.
The Foreign Military Studies Program also produced important primary source materials for the study of the war in the Soviet Union. In addition to the Schramm and Greiner works already mentioned, those pertinent to the last years of the war are MS # C-073, General der Infanterie a. D. Waldemar Erfurth, Finnlands Letzte Krieg (published as Der finnische Krieg (Wiesbaden: Limes Verlag, 1950)); MS # D-406, Generaloberst a. D. Kurt Zeitzler, Das Ringen um die grossen Entscheidungen im zweiten Weltkrieg; MS # D-408, Oberst i. G. a. D. Hans Georg Eismann, Aufzeichnungen Oberst i. G. Eismann als Ia der Heeresgruppe Weichsel; MS # C-099 c, d, i, l, m, and o, General der Artillerie a. D. Walter Warlimont, Commentaries on the OKW War Diary (text in German); MS # P-049, Warlimont, Die Strategie der deutschen obersten Fuehrung im Zweiten Vierteljahr 1943; MS # P-215, Warlimont, Interpretation and Commentary on the Jodl Diaries, 1937-1945 (text in German including a transcription of the diaries by General Warlimont); and (no MS number) Generalfeldmarschall Maximilian Freiherr von Weichs, Auszuege aus dem Tagebuch des Feldmarschalls Freiherr von Weichs aus den Jahren 1943 und 1944, aus den Original-Notizen in Gabelsberger Stenographie uebertragen durch Generalmajor a. D. Curt Ritter von Geitner.
The body of general literature dealing with the German-Soviet conflict is large and growing. Very little of it, however, has been written in English or found its way into the language through translation. Comprehensive bibliographies, periodically brought up to date, are to be found in the Revue d'Histoire de la Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale and the Buecherschau der Weltkriegsbuecherei. Both list books and articles in all languages and carry bibliographical articles and reviews of significant works. Hillgruber and Jacobsen's lengthy introduction to Boris S. Tel'puchowski, Die Sowjetische Geschichte des Grossen Vaterlaendischen Krieges, 1941-1945 (Frankfurt a.M.: Bernard und Graefe, 1961) provides a useful analytical bibliography and a study of the Western and Soviet approaches to the history of the war.
The works thus far available in English deal with certain selected aspects of the war. Gerhard L. Weinberg, Germany and the Soviet Union, 1939-1941 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1954) covers the period of the Nazi-Soviet pact and Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union. Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-261a, The German Campaign in Russia--Planning and Operations (1940-1942) (Washington, 1955), provides the background for the present volume pending publication of the projected first and second volumes in the OCMH series on the Soviet-German war. Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1957), provides a comprehensive history of
the German occupation, and the War Documentation Project, Project "Alexander" Studies (Washington: Air Research and Development Command, 1953-55), condensed in John A. Armstrong, ed., The Soviet Partisans in World War II (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964), furnish a similarly comprehensive account of the Soviet partisan movement. Alexander Werth, Russia at War (New York: Dutton, 1964) covers the whole war from the Soviet side in considerable detail but not systematically. T. Dodson Stamps and Vincent J. Esposito, eds., A Military History of World War II With Atlas (West Point: United States Military Academy, 1953) contains a summary of military operations 1941-1945 and excellent maps. The best short account of German operations, Kurt von Tippelskirch, Geschichte des Zweiten Weltkrieges (Bonn: Athenaeum, 1956), has not been translated. The author was both a trained historian and a corps and army commander on the Eastern Front. The two most substantial German works translated to date are Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader (New York: Dutton, 1952) and Erich von Manstein, Lost Victories (Chicago: H. Regnery, 1958). Both are memoirs and to some extent display the deficiencies of that genre. On the Soviet side the memoir literature is increasing, but the individual works are very narrowly focused. The best example available in English is Vasili I. Chuikov, The Battle for Stalingrad (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964)
The Soviet operations were for the most part carried out independently of its role as a member of the World War II coalition against the Axis Powers, the chief reasons being the relative isolation of the front in the Soviet Union, the static Soviet strategic position, and the reservations which the Soviet Union attached to its membership in the Big Three. The Soviet part in the whole war against Germany has been described in, among others, Herbert Feis, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin (Princeton, N. J.; Princeton University Press, 1957); Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1962); Maurice Matloff and Edward M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942 (Washington, 1953); Maurice M. Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-1944 (Washington, 1959); and John Ehrman, Grand Strategy (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1956), Volumes V and VI. The Soviet version of that aspect of the war is given in Istoriya Velikoy Otechestvennoy Voyny Sovetskogo Soyuza, 1941-1945 and in G. A. Deborin, Vtoraya Mirovaya Voyna (Moscow: Voen, Izdat., 1958).
Finally, the massive Allied aid shipments to the Soviet Union through the Arctic ports and the Persian Gulf have been treated in T. H. Vail Motter, The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia (Washington, 1952); Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943 (Washington, 1955); S. W. Roskill, The War at Sea (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1954- ); Samuel Eliot Morison, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II," The Battle of the Atlantic, September 1939-May 1943 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1951) and Samuel Eliot Morison, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II," The Battle of the Atlantic Won, May 1943-May 1945 (Boston Little, Brown, 1956).
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