The myth of the capture of the town for the holidays

This material is a condensed version of the chapter "Take Kiev for a holiday!" Written by Dmitry Makeev from the book "The Great War slander. We do not have to repent! "Edited by A. Dyukova.

Among the myths about the Great Patriotic War, prevailing in our society, the idea that Stalin ordered the city to take holidays, takes pride of place "well-known fact that does not require proof." Even people who are not interested in military history and have not read anything about the war, know that Kiev was ordered to take the 7th of November, and Berlin — to May 1. These views have become widespread in the Soviet era. Then they existed mainly in intellectual circles and served as an illustration of the absurd system. Now they are used for rewriting history and exemplify the crime of the Soviet regime, its cruelty and inhumanity.
The primary source of the legend of "holiday offensives" are the memories of veterans. Because of a tradition that has developed in our society, trust them far more than the official historical research. It is no secret that some of the scenes in the history of the Great Patriotic War, concealed or not received extensive coverage in the literature and the media. In the public mind such plots acquired an aura of forbidden, although in many cases this is not true. The information vacuum filled with stories of soldiers. Vibrant, exciting, equipped with sensational and sometimes shocking details they had a strong impact on the audience. Discrepancies of these sort of "evidence" and officialdom is not interpreted in favor of the latter. Any story, even outright bike, take on trust without reservation, the criticism is not only completely absent, but was considered immoral.

Stories about the endless attacks on unnamed high-rise, multi-day battle for human settlements, shelling and aerial bombardment, the death of friends and relatives are conducted, usually in the first person. Each narrator puts them in their understanding of the events, trying to adapt them to make a more clear and intelligible. He uses this well-known names, dates, place names, historical events. This is the basis for the emergence of the theme "holiday offensive." Every day and every fight can not remember, it’s easier to say, "On the eve of February 23 (or March 8) we were advancing on the town of N». Ordinary infantryman, artillery or tank crew does not know the overall situation does not represent the entire picture of the fighting. But he has to explain himself and the audience, for which "the whole week we attacked the damn town." Here starts the principle of "trench strategy." Reproduce the real connection between events, to establish what was the cause and what is effect, without an analysis of the documents is difficult. We have to operate on available facts, rely on their own memory, and where information is missing — think out "by analogy." Veteran recalls rallies on the eve of, speech commissioners, leaflets, newspapers, appeals and slogans — to obey the order of the Supreme Commander of the city to such a release date, etc. The commissioner or deputy political commissar for the ordinary soldier, too, the boss, his conversion — the same orders as the commander’s orders. Only the commander of his orders would not explain why, it just requires them to perform, and the commissioner is trying to "explain" to explain to the "meaning" of certain actions. Fighters these conversations are perceived as boring, signifying nothing obyazalovke, and as a basis for finding underlying reason for lack of a better event.
If the offensive coincides with the date of the holiday, then the explanation of the failure and the many victims is easy — take the time wanted to take the city for the holiday, the commanders wanted to become famous and drove the soldiers to slaughter. For the Soviet people, who knows what a "gift to the Congress", "festive watch", "early implementation of the plan", this interpretation seemed convincing. In fact, if in the time of peace is a "shock watch festive", why the war is not to be "festive offensive"?
The roots of the stories about the "holiday offensives" winter 1942, probably to be found in the Order of the People’s Commissar of Defense number 55 of 23 February 1942 of congratulation on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Red Army. This order summed up eight months of war, and his emphasis on the fact that the strength of the enemy broken, the Red Army took the initiative and successfully rout the enemy. This success was seen in including in the historic tradition of running from February 23, 1918, the date of creation of the Red Army. The order was given a list of cities that are exempt in the previous period: Kalinin, Klin, Sukhinichi, Andreapol, Toropets. From the context it should, as if they were released recently, that is, on the eve of the holiday. The order is remembered by many, primarily because it was, in fact, a positive first order since the beginning of the war, announced to all members of the Red Army and the Navy. Device used in it — transfer of a number of liberated cities in a festive float, KM Simonov realized in his novel ["The Living and the Dead"], but put the list in the summary of the Soviet Information Bureau. The fact that the Soviet Information Bureau reports remembered all, it is for people judged him on the progress of the war. In the novel, the writer slightly altered the reality of it in the right way, in this morning bulletin of 23 February 1942 no settlements were not mentioned. There was no need to mention the Red Army on all fronts repulsed counterattacks and did not move forward. Only in the evening bulletin of 23 February 1942 referred to the liberated city Dorogobuzh. But the Red Army for his release had nothing. Dorogobuzh more February 15 was occupied by partisans and held them until the summer. It is difficult to say when this landmark event became known in Moscow, situation reports of the General Staff of the information is not there. Could the release of Dorogobuzh claim to be a holiday gift or not, but of him found it necessary to mention in the solemn day.

The next point, which focuses the reader’s attention, it is the high loss of Soviet troops in the attack on the Rooks. The causes of these losses KM Simonov calls the lack of preparation and attack the wrong tactics, attack on the forehead. These facts did occur, but their absolute, as it makes the writer, not worth it. It happened in a different way. Known orders commander of the Western Front, GK Zhukov with the requirement not to attack head on enemy strongholds, and avoid them. There is no evidence to suggest that the subordinate commanders ignored these orders and acted on his own. Soviet troops in offensive near Moscow widely used detours, not just achieving this victory. Another thing that rounds themselves are not a panacea for the ills of those who experienced the Red Army in the first period of the war. And that is how they are represented in the novel. It is necessary to get around, and the adversary is gone. Leaving aside the question of where the enemy will go and whether or not to release it, it should be noted that these hopes were not always justified. Being left out and even surrounded by the Germans in no hurry to depart. They tried to hold up to the last position and, using the tactics of "corner posts" and "shverpunktov", tried to turn the situation to their advantage. Often, they succeeded. For example, they managed to keep the strong points at the base of a breakthrough, through which rushed to the army generals Viazma PA Belov and MG Ephraim, and then close it. The same thing happened after the breakout of the 2nd Shock Army under Luban. Surrounded by a Demyansk German garrison did not surrender, and long kept stocked with air
bridge. The main causes of these and other failures of the Red Army were poorly trained and ill-technical equipment. Stagnation commanders, who are used to follow the old patterns, played a secondary role.
If the stories of the "holiday offensives" on February 23 can detect echoes of real events, albeit altered beyond recognition, the legend of the capture of Kiev by November 7, has a completely artificial origin. The source of this legend was the motion picture YN Ozerov "Liberation", or more precisely, the film "Breakthrough", which tells about the events of autumn 1943. He was released in 1970, and it was first released, this version of liberation of Kiev.

The cinema has a great influence on the mass consciousness, directly affecting the feelings of the audience. Is no exception and the "Liberation" — a grand statement that tells about the events of the second half of the Great Patriotic War. Thanks to her, many of the plots previously hushed-up of the Soviet historiography and propaganda have become known to the general public. Was first shown to the general traitor AA Vlasov, talked about the fate of the eldest son, IV Stalin Jacob was reconsidered after Khrushchev’s revelations and the role of the Supreme Commander.
However, hand in a good cause, the authors were not able to perform it in good faith. The film is full of glaring errors in the guise of historical facts are often offered the viewer rumors and gossip, the interpretation of many events can not withstand scientific scrutiny. No wonder the "Liberation" is called an encyclopedia of myths about the war. It was he who formed the idea of war, many generations of our fellow citizens who were born after it. From there, in other movies, books, the pages of newspapers and magazines have migrated hordes of German machine gunners, he launched a nation invented the phrase "I am a soldier on the marshals do not change," and left his Russian and German tanks on a single type — the T-34 and the "tiger" .
The episode with the liberation of Kiev is also contrary to all known historical data. In the film, it looks like this. IV Stalin and 1st Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the AI Antonov discuss the situation, standing at the map.

Stalin: When do you plan to take Kiev?

Antonov: Not until the twentieth days of November, Comrade Stalin.

Stalin: Too late! You have to take the sixth of November, the anniversary of the October Revolution.

It’s not true. And Kiev is not going to take at the end of November, the anniversary of the October Revolution and dragged out of place. It’s hard to say why this scene is set out in this form. A former consultant to the picture Shtemenko in his memoirs, published later, outlined the story quite adequately. Perhaps the authors of the script took into account the wishes of the chief ideologist of the CPSU, MA Suslov, who carried out a closer control over the footage. It seems that this fact gives the film the status of historically accurate. Kiev offensive confidently referred to as examples of "holiday offensive" not only journalists or people who are not burdened with sufficient knowledge, but decided to reflect on the war, but some pundits.
That is why the story of the liberation of Kiev is worth considering in more detail.

Selection of the Soviet command was small. Blow from the north in itself was not a surprise to the Germans. Intense fighting in this area were carried out almost all of October. Even after the official end of October of the first Soviet offensive on Lyutezhskogo bridgehead continued to reflect the enemy counter-attacks and counterattacks are constantly in order to improve their situation. The Germans were aware of the fact that in the future the Soviet troops will attack from that direction. A surprise for them could only be a strike force for the October fighting the enemy was convinced that the Soviet troops in this region have no significant superiority. In addition, the arm Soviet command could play speed regrouping of forces. No wonder the rate slashed the requested GK Zhukov and NF Vatutin ten days training operations to seven days.
And tight deadlines dictated by the overall strategic situation prevailing at that time in the southern sector of the Soviet-German front. Steppe Front (October 20 — 2nd Ukrainian), although later went to the Dnieper River Voronezh, but it worked successfully. Front’s forces seized a bridgehead on the right bank of the Dnieper River in the area of Kremenchug and the middle of October went on the offensive at the Krivoy Rog and Kirovograd directions. They have moved far ahead, and is located on a bend of the Dnieper 1st TA threatened environment. Manstein was forced to throw in this direction coming from Germany reserves (two armored and two infantry divisions) and 24 October struck a counterattack in the direction of the river north of Ingulets Krivoy Rog. Fierce fighting continued until 28 October, the Germans managed to temporarily stabilize the front and even dock the flanks of the 8th A and 1st TA. However, the break did not come. In late October, went on the offensive 4th Ukrainian Front (Army General Tolbuhin FI). He broke through the front of the German 6th A deeply moved by North Tavrii, blocked the Crimea and forced the Germans to leave the entire left bank of the Dnieper, with the exception of the Nikopol bridgehead. Above the 1st TA again under threat, this time from the south. Thus, for an attack on Kiev direction conditions were favorable. It was only necessary to seize the moment.
The general idea of a new plan of attack remains the same — a blow along the Dnieper River, with a gradual turn to the interior of the Right-Bank Ukraine. Changed direction only — from the north-west to south-west. Front shock group were 38th A and 3rd Guards. TA. They stabbed in the southern and south-western direction, avoided Kiev from the west and by the end of the fourth day of the operation went on line Fastow — White Church — Combs. The problem was solved by the forces of liberation of Kiev 38th A-60 and A gets in a south-westerly direction along the river Irpen and had the task of ensuring the right flank of the 38th A 40-th and 27-th army advancing from Bukrin springboard to pin down the enemy and give them the opportunity to throw a Kiev.
In the future, the Front’s troops were to develop the offensive to the west and south-west in the direction of Zhitomir and Berdichev and Vinnitsa. Term readiness of the troops was appointed on 1 November, the beginning of the offensive — on November 2. Later, due to the unwillingness of the troops, the start of the offensive was postponed to November 3. The pace of the planned strike group of 10-11 km for the infantry, and 10 to 40 km for mobile connections per day. Capture Kiev was ordered by the end of November 5.

Here and there was a topic close anniversary of the October Revolution. Dates of the onset and pace were not tied to a specific date, they determined the overall strategic situation and readiness of troops, statutory requirements and the practice of previous attacks. However, the political organs of the 1st Ukrainian Front could not take advantage of such a coincidence. Party-political work in the army was oriented to the study of Appeals for the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) to the 26th anniversary of the October Revolution, published on the eve of the Kiev operation. Front Military Council has contributed to the adaptation of the slogans of the Communist Party of the date hereof, putting forward the call to "Free Kiev to the 26th anniversary of the Great October Revolution!". Under this slogan in the parts of meetings and rallies were held, issued leaflets, this cap is printed on the front and army papers on this subject were held political studies and discussions. Of course, all those involved in this people understand that the coincidenc
e of the dates in this case — a pure accident. But this time it was necessary to work out, since many soldiers and officers of the communist ideology was not an empty phrase, they sincerely believed in socialism and were ready to fight for his ideals. The personnel of the front forces had a strong spiritual uplift caused by the successes of Soviet troops, and the desire to keep up with the general offensive. In addition, from positions in the Lyutezhskogo bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper were observed fires and explosions in Kiev. The Germans began the destruction of strategic targets in the city, removal of equipment and property companies. This led to the fact that the soldiers and officers sought as soon as possible to free Kyiv, to save it from destruction.
However, it should be noted that a much greater impact on people rendered patriotic propaganda. Topics of Kiev as the "mother of Russian cities" and the cradle of the Fatherland, fighting Russian and Ukrainian people for freedom and independence, the lighting of heroism and the brightest pages in the history and culture of Russia and Ukraine, the stories of the atrocities committed by the Germans and their collaborators in the occupied territory, calls for early release and defeat the enemy occupied a lot more time and volume than the ideas of the party. In this vein has been sustained treatment of the Military Council of the 1st Ukrainian Front, directed to the troops before the attack.
Special difficulties in the regrouping of troops withdrawal represented a springboard Bukrin 3rd Guards. TA, 7th Artillery Corps breakthrough and 23rd sa 47th A transmitted in the 38th A and ferry them across the two rivers — the Dnieper and Desna. Totally hide it from German intelligence, which dramatically increased its activity was not possible. He hoped for quick action, and these hopes, fortunately, were justified. The Germans opened the fact of moving 3 Guards. TA only in the beginning of November, when to take any serious action was too late.
In preparation for the attack took place, and organizational change. Colonel-General KS Moskalenko was appointed commander of the 38th A. Instead, the command of the 40th A was Lieutenant-General FF Zhmachenko.
The first Kiev began operation troops of the 40th and 27th armies that morning of November 1 launched an offensive on Bukrin bridgehead. The fierce battle was all day, the troops had little promotion, capturing the advanced trenches of the enemy. November 2, the attack was continued, but this time there was no progress at all. Enemy forces counter-attacked vigorously to a battalion of tanks. The main outcome of the two-day battle was a confirmation of the fact that the Germans did not withdraw troops from the area. Especially encouraging was the presence on the old site of German tanks. This facilitated the conduct offensive north of Kiev. In the period from 3 to 6 November, Soviet forces continued to attack Bukrin beachhead, but much less effort and in some areas. The main purpose of these attacks was to create impressions of the enemy regrouping of forces. The morning of November 3, after a 40-minute artillery preparation started attacking troops of the 60th and 38th armies Lyutezhskogo bridgehead. The enemy’s defenses were breached, and the troops advanced to 5-12 km. 38th A major blow inflicted inner flanks of the 50th and 51st Infantry Corps on six-kilometer area, supported by tanks of the 5th Guards. maybe, in order to break through the enemy defenses north of Kiev. In the future, the task capturing Kiev, was assigned to the 51th sc. Despite the strong firing support the first objective of the day was still not completed. The troops of the 60th and 38th armies were forced to reflect constant counterattacks and moved more slowly than planned. Evening of November 3 Supreme Command sent NF Vatutin directive number 30236, which required hasten, as the enemy, taking advantage of good roads, time to concentrate reserves to their breakthrough, and the task was not later than November 5th to cut the railroad Kiev Korosten and not later than November 5-6, capture Kiev. To solve this problem, offered sacrifices, understanding that these victims are many times less than those which would have to incur in the event of a tightening operation. It was understood that the 1st Ukrainian Front during a six fights and has not managed to establish a major foothold operational value. His troops were crammed together on a small patch, maneuver them was almost impossible.
The lack of bridges hampered supply of ammunition. In case of arrival of large reserves of the enemy, as you would expect, the front threatened heavy defeat.
Commander of the front, in turn, explained the problem coming armies. In the morning had to start moving the 3rd Guards. TA. Of its composition was seized 6th Guards. mk, and was directed to support the 38th A. NF Vatutin found it possible to whip his subordinates, referring directly to the corps commanders and ordered to capture Kiev by the morning on November 5.
The morning of 4 November, Soviet troops resumed their offensive. Reflecting counterattacks, they slowly moved forward. 60 And I advanced to 2-6 km, 38th A overcame 5 km and in the evening went to the suburbs of Kiev Priorke. In the afternoon began to move 3 Guards. TA. It has overtaken the infantry and the evening went on the highway Kiev — Zhitomir, starting thus bypassing the west of Kiev. The fighting on the highway and in the suburbs of Kiev lasted all night. They were particularly persistent in Svyatoshino where the Germans equipped with a strong foothold. In order to demoralize the enemy tanks of the 7th Guards. TC went on the attack with its lights and sirens. In another time and in another place it is likely the decision would lead to huge losses. However, the command of the 3rd Guards. TA correctly assessed the situation. Attack was a complete success.

South of Kiev composite detachment of parts of the 71st Rifle Division, two detachments and training battalion of the 38th A crossed the Dnieper and seized a beachhead in the Pirogov and Vita Lithuania, cutting the road that goes to Kiev along the Dnieper River. Marshal GK Zhukov offered to get unexpected success, immediately removing from bridgehead Bukrin two divisions and directing them to the new base. Divisions had been allocated, but take part in the liberation of Kiev did not have time.
The morning of November 5 the Germans began withdrawing from Kiev rears and auxiliary parts, at the same time throwing back with a springboard Bukrin 20th Motorized and so on SS "Das Reich". 60 And I made this day a major success, advancing by 20 km and reliably providing the right flank of the 38th A-38 and A right wing went around Kiev from the south-west, and the left erupted in the central districts and street battles waged there. 3rd Guards. TA passed highway Kiev — Zhitomir and moved to the south, bypassing the city from the west. Evening of November 5 the commander of the 38 th A KS Moskalenko called NF Vatutin and urged him, taking advantage of this time the authority of the Supreme Commander. He said that he was called to the CP IV Stalin thanked for their achievements and asked for more free Kyiv. It’s hard to say what caused this request. You can, of course, assume that, as a devout communist, IV Stalin certainly wanted to liberate Kiev for the anniversary of the October Revolution. But the Soviet troops were already in street battles, the outcome of the fight was a foregone conclusion and a few hours have not changed anything. Rather, the Supreme Commander bothered about the transfer of German troops from Bukrin bridgehead and the appearance of German armored reserves in Berdichev and the White Church (25 th, etc.). In case of delay, the Soviet troops trying to surround the city, could be trapped, 3rd Guards. TA has not yet been released to the operating room, could also be in a difficult position.
in Kiev continued all night from 5 to 6 November. By 4 o’clock the German resistance was broken, they began a hasty retreat to the south. Part A of the 38th moved to the pursuit of the enemy, fully liberated the city and advanced 20 km. 3rd Guards. TA began pursuit of the enemy, advanced to 30-40 km, and came to a cornflower and Fastow. Continued to attack the 60th A.
Is the Kiev offensive signs "festive offensive" that have been identified above? The task of the liberation of Kiev was staged in late September, at the same time was scheduled liberation of Kiev — by about the fourth day after the operation. This term was defined on the basis of the statutory requirements and practices of previous attacks. Typically, the rate of advance was planned at 14-15 km per day. The Kiev offensive it was lower than 10-11 km per day, given the degree of readiness of the troops and the state of defense, and the actual movement of troops was 4-5 km per day. The question of the anniversary of the October Revolution, at this time, for obvious reasons, did not stand. Because of the failure of the October attacks term capturing Kiev shifted closer to the beginning of November, but the basic principle remains the same. The headquarters focused on the rate of advance, not on a specific date.
Certainly, the fact that the liberation of Kiev, even irrespective of the date, had great political significance. Approaching the Tehran conference of the USSR, the USA and the UK, and a major success, of course, added to the weight of the Soviet position in the negotiations. However, planning the operation, Supreme Command accounted for primarily strategic importance of culture as a major transportation hub and industrial center, its geographical position, the possibility of applying to the Kiev springboard attacks in several directions. Beat on Kiev allowed to break through the front of Army Group "Center" and "South" in the most vulnerable spot on their flanks. The mastery of Kiev did not give the Germans the opportunity to create a strong defense along the Dnieper and delay the advance of Soviet troops there and catch lost the initiative in the summer of 1943.

At the onset of training was given enough time to ten days, and in case of unavailability of troops launched an offensive repeatedly postponed to a later date. Reducing the time of preparation November surgery was associated with the need to take time by the forelock, arising in connection with the attack on the southern Dnieper and sending back the German reserves. However, the degree of readiness of the troops was not affected. During the offensive with Bukrin and Lyutezhskogo bridgeheads for some time was a lack of ammunition. His cause was not rushing, and the transportation difficulties on the destroyed roads and lack of bridges across the Dnieper. Supreme Command took steps to eliminate this deficit by early restoration of roads and providing engineering front crossing equipment. For the 60th A was organized delivery of ammunition by road directly from Moscow, bypassing the front-line authority.
IV Stalin repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the troops. But he did not mention in this connection, the anniversary of the October Revolution. He emphasized the error Representative GK Bets Zhukov and the front commander NF Vatutina, pointing them to lost opportunities and hasten their demands motivated the possibility of the emergence of large German reserves.
In some cases, seeing the futility of the offensive, IV Stalin abolished it objectively thereby saving soldiers, and sometimes require sacrifices, referring to a small sacrifice for the greater. Of course, while he was thinking strategic categories and hardly remembered about the individual soldier’s lives. The main purpose for it remained early defeat of Germany.
The coincidence of the timing of the operation and the Kiev anniversary of the October Revolution took advantage of the army political organs. To boost morale, the manifestations of enthusiasm was the slogan "Free Kiev to the 26th anniversary of the Great October Revolution!". However, this slogan was just one in a series of others, which was conducted under the party-political work in the army. Emphasis was placed on the patriotic propaganda.
Finally, we should consider the most painful and emotional subject, sounding for all the stories of "holiday" offensives, — the theme of large losses, higher than in the days of conventional warfare. Kiev offensive lasted from 3 to 13 November 1943. The troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front had lost during that time 30,569 people. Irrecoverable losses, ie killed, taken prisoner and missing amounted to 6491 people., or about 1% of the population on November 3. Sanitary losses — 24,078 people. The average daily loss — 2,779 people., Including 590 people. dead and missing. During the "race to the Dnieper" loss of the troops were almost two times more. From August 23 to September 30 was lost 177,504 people., Including irrecoverable losses — 46,293 (almost 7% of the composition at the beginning of the operation), sanitary — 131 211, average daily — 4930, including 1,286 killed or missing. During the October attack with Bukrin springboard from 12 to 24 October the total losses amounted to 27,938 people., Including discards — 6498, sanitary — 21,440, the average daily — 2,149, including 500 dead and missing. When trying to attack with Lyutezhskogo th springboard from October 1 to November 2, lost 85,064 people., Including discards — 24442, sanitary — 60,642, the average daily — 2,578, including 741 dead and missing. Thus, the attack on the eve of November 7 cost even less (or equal to) victims than fighting in the preceding period.
The apparent coincidence of fierce fighting and the date of the liberation of Kiev from the anniversary of the October Revolution did Kiev offensive impersonation and the only example of "holiday offensives." But the real details of the operation do not correspond to the pattern that has emerged in the public consciousness. This allows you to define "public offensive" as a legend based on exaggerated perceptions and incorrect generalization of individual moments of front-line reality.

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