Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Gerard, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

  2. AMVAS

    AMVAS Senior Member

    Hear, hear! And also counting all the 'non-shooting equipment' like petroleum products, food, spam (the good one), clothing and boots, railway equipment (rails, locomotives, wagons, etc), the Studebaker, raw materials, etc...

    ...wires, cable, radio trasmitters...

    And especially remember about raw materials.
    Having lost large territories the USSR got lack of nonferrous and rare-earth metals, which are necessary for making good armor.
    German armor couldn't stay this after getting similar problems in the last period of the war.
    Soviet experts noticed serious decreasing of the quality of German armor approximately since the year 1944...

  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    We had a discussion about lend-lease with someone called stalin, who wouldn't listen to anyone's views.
    The numbers amazed me.
    I'm having trouble with linking to it.
    It was called "lend-lease numbers from russian site" started by spidge in Russia's War section
  4. AMVAS

    AMVAS Senior Member

    We had a discussion about lend-lease with someone called stalin.
    The numbers amazed me.

    The link seems to be dead...

    I saw some figures for Lend-lease, but long ago... they are stored on my home comp somewhere.

    As for airplanes and tanks they were large assistance just that time, when soviet plants were redeployed to the east and couldn't supply the Red Army with necessary amount of arms.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Some more recollections from war diary.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Before the war Simonov was a poet and novelist but when Germany Invaded the Soviet Union he was sent to the frontline to join a Russian Army unit. His train’s progress was blocked so he set off with an artillery captain to join his unit at the front.
    German aircraft were circling the town. It was desperately hot and dusty. At the exit of the town, near the hospital, I saw the first corpses. Some were lying on stretchers, others without. I don’t know where they came from-they were probably bomb victims.

    Troops and vehicles were going along the road, some in one direction, some in the other. It was impossible to make sense of it all. Having discovered that the petrol filling point was 15 kilometres out of town, we went there, picking up a supplies officer and two or three soldiers along the way.

    Everything was quiet at the filling point, although we had been told en route that the Germans were there. While we were filling the tank with buckets of petrol, the captain went to the commander of the point to explain something. Following behind him I saw a strange site; the captain with whom I was travelling with and a colonel were pointing their pistols at two officers in sappers’ uniforms, who had been disarmed. One of them wore medal ribbons. It turned out they had been sent to discuss the possibility of demolishing the point, and either they had given the impression of already being on the point of destroying it, or there had been some kind of misunderstanding, but in any case, the captain and the colonel took them for diversionists and for five minutes held them at pistol point. When it was all cleared up, one of the sappers, an elderly major with two decorations, began to shout that nothing like this had ever happened to him before, that he had been wounded three times in the Finnish campaign, and that after this insult, the only thing left was to shoot himself. It was quite difficult to calm him down.

    Later that day Simonov found himself in a wood with some other officers. There were Russian soldiers all around confused by the sudden shock of the German invasion. The officers organised the men into battalions and companies.

    Half an hour after I arrived the Germans discovered our assembly from the air and begun to machine-gun the wood. Waves of aircraft flew, one after the other, at intervals of about twenty minutes. We lay down, pressing our heads against the gaunt trees. The trees were not very dense, so it was easy to shoot at us from the air. Nobody knew each other and with the best will in the world, it was difficult for people to give or take orders.

    Finally after three o’clock, a flight of IL-15’s flew over. We jumped up, elated because our own planes had turned up at last. But they gave us a good shower of lead and several men nearby were wounded – all of them in the foot. They had been lying in a line.

    We thought that this was an accident, a mistake, but the planes came back and went over the woods a second and a third time. The stars on their wings were clearly visible. When they went over for the third time, someone with a machine-gun managed to bring one of them down.

    Quite a few people ran to the outskirts of the wood, where the plane was burning. Those who had gone there described how they dragged the half-burned body of a German pilot from the cockpit.

    I do not know how this came about. Probably the Germans in the first day captured several planes somewhere and showed their pilots how to fly them. In any case it left a very depressing impression on us.

    I walked to the edge of the wood, where the forest road joined the Minsk highway. Suddenly, five paces away, a soldier with a rifle jumped out on the highway. His eyes seemed to be crawling out of their sockets, and had an insane look about them as he shouted out in a strangled, tearing voice: ‘Run! The Germans have surrounded us! We’re finished!’ one of the officers standing by me shouted, ‘Shoot him, shoot that panic monger’. He began to fire.

    I also pulled out my pistol, which I had obtained an hour before, and begun to shoot at the fugitive. Now, later, I think that he was probably a man maddened, a psycho case, not having been able to stand the terrible events of that day.

    Evidently we did not hit him, as he ran off further. A captain jumped out in his path and, trying to hold him, grasped his rifle. It went off and, frightened still more by this shot, the fugitive, like a hunted animal, turned around with his bayonet, rushed at the captain. The latter took out his pistol and shot him. Three or four men silently dragged the body off the road.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Gavryushin was one of the many Russian troops surrounded and cut off by the speed of the German advance into the Soviet Union. His escape from captivity was to last an agonising three months on the run.
    Having fought for 14 days without a break, I was bruised, but stayed in action. I was later wounded in the arm and hand.

    On 24 July I was put in the Mogilev hospital. On 26 July, then town was captured by the fascists and the hospital was not evacuated because it was encircled.

    Another two days later I, and some soldiers from my battalion, fled from the hospital. We changed our clothes in someone’s home and set off in the direction of our troops.

    We went in the guise of civilian prisoners who had been working at the airport and had been wounded in the bombing. After five days, the fascists detained us at the front. We were held for three days, and then sent to one of the Smolensk hospitals.

    Having spent three days there, and having carried out an appropriate intelligence appreciation, we ran away from this hospital and after 15 days, caught up with the front line near Shmakov, where they again detained us.

    After five hungry days, they put us in a truck and sent us forwards. Catching up with a group of our prisoners of war, they put us out of the lorry, joined us on the column, and hurried us on. Hunger, and the pain of my wounds, stopped me keeping up with the fit ones, and I lagged behind, with the fascist escort all the time pushing me on with rifle-butt blows to my back. Having spent the night gathering our strength, we ran away in the morning. After several days, we reached the settlement of Stodolishche and bumped into our surgeon. We asked him to change our bandages. He uncovered our wounds and they were already gangrenous, with little worms crawling about.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Wagemann led a platoon during the advance into Russia and contrary to German belief the Russians were more formidable than anticipated.
    Returning to Regiment 67 in 1941, detailed to lead a platoon with 13 Company, I would frequently go and see my contemporary from my training period, Ekkehard Maurer, who was then adjutant to Captain Heinemann, Commander of III Batallion. He had gained a special respect from the members of the regiment because of his fearlessness, even towards party figures, his military prowess and soldierly bearing.

    Once the news began to spread of the proposed Russian campaign, he left us in no doubt as to what he thought of it. ‘This is the end for Germany’ – still, he remained a soldier and a commander, served his Fatherland and his comrades had no illusions about the prospects of this war. As a cadet schooled in Berlin in the Prussian tradition, he called it ‘something I just damn well have to do’. All his life he remained a model for us.

    We felt no sense of injustice towards the Soviet Union. We knew about the Party’s monopoly of power and Stalin’s terror. We were convinced we were superior to the Red Army, Which had been weakened by Stalin’s purges, and had hardly given a convincing account of itself in the war against Finland in 1940-41. But it was the great expanse of Russia we feared, in which even Napoleon had had to fight to the bitter end. We knew of the Russian soldier’s courage and stamina.

    The III Batallion had its first taste of this directly behind the frontier of Eastern Poland, which had been annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. The garrison in the newly-built bunkers of Sklody defended them down to the last man. During the advance march we were confronted with the horrific effects of modern weapons of war, as we passed alongside mile-long columns of Russian tanks, which had been destroyed by our Stukas.

    However, or Batallion was soon to see the other side of the Russian soldiers during the attack on Brunitschi and Mogilew – their courage and military skill.

    The attitude of the indigenous population towards us was one of cautious trepidation at first, but they became increasingly friendly. The people had clearly been fed horror stories about German soldiers.

    Particularly in White Russia, the old men, women and children welcomed us with bread and salt, and they would show us their crucifixes and icons, which they stashed away in ‘God’s holy corner’. As for provisions, there wasn’t much for us to take – initially a bit of poultry, sometimes, though rarely a calf or cow for the field kitchen, all of which we had to pay for, of course. So long as you continued to behave decently towards them, you could get along quite well with the Russian people.

    However, the partisan warfare, which was just then starting up, had been prepared and orchestrated, as it were, at arms’ length, by the Red Army and the party. I had taken over 9 Company from the wounded 1st Lieutenant Petersen by the Desna. Following the battle of Wjasma, I had been ordered to ‘clean out’ an area of woodland with this company, after shots had been fired from there at our vehicles. As we got into the wood itself, we could see that the area was one large partisan camp, extended and occupied in peace-time. The paths had been covered over with camouflage netting – underground passageways linked bunkers and fighting positions, which were dug into and magnificently camouflaged in the overgrown forest floor. It was possible to mount an all-round defence of the area from the combat positions – the underground passages followed a path with various corners.

    At first sight the wood looked deserted – however, as the first volunteer stepped on to a ramp, he was shot in the stomach.

    The operation had to be called off – Stukas were called for.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    At the age of 28 Hirsh was a NCO with 3 Panzer Division that was advancing deep into Russia during the summer of 1941. He had fundamental disagreements with Nazi tenets, and eventually became a ‘Verfassungsrichter’ in Germany – one of the most senior constitutional judges.
    I was brought up in a actively democratic and republican family, and the schools I attended were run along the same principles, so that I was completely immune to the ideas of National Socilism. As a student I marched through the streets chanting, ‘If you elect Hitler, you elect war. Smash the fascists wherever you find them’. Unfortunately, we were proved right, but it wasn’t us that smashed the fascists – they were smashed by others, in the war, that is.

    When I was first called up, I was passed unfit for military service on grounds of health, but when the war came along, the circumstances were not so favourable, and this time I was passed fit.

    I was with 3 Panzer Division ‘Brandenburg’, which was mobilised for operation ‘Barbarossa’. My first recollection is of crossing the Bug in the direction of Brest-Litovsk – we were standing around waiting for orders, and there were, at that time, various rumours going round, quite absurd now, looking back on them. Rumours like, there would be no war in the east as such, instead the British would go in with us to encircle the Russians and liberate the world from Communism. This was obviously rubbish, but that was the kind of rumour that was usual then.

    The first heavy barrage from the Russians that I experienced was during the advance on Brest-Litovsk. We had crossed the Bug and camped down. On the advance into Brest-Litovsk I got my first taste of the horror to come. There was a huge field full of corpses and wounded Russian soldiers. These had, I think, been hit by the advance bombing of the Luftwaffe. One Russian soldier was bleeding heavily and I tried to bind his wounds, when suddenly a soldier from another unit, whom I didn’t know, came over to me: ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked. I told him I was bandaging a soldier. He told me it was not my job to look after these ‘Untermenschen’ – he did actually use this word –but I remembered from my training that our instructions were that a wounded enemy soldier was no longer an enemy, and it was our duty to help.

    He told me he would report me, but I never heard anything more from him. He struck me as quite a callous Nazi, and I was pleased that I never caught sight of him again.

    The war went on, and my memory of the individual experiences is not very clear. My major preoccupation throughout the whole Russian campaign was to ensure that I would not be promoted to an officer.

    There were others, who felt like me, but we were a minority, and any actual meaningful resistance in such a theatre of war was impossible. Had I been on the Western Front, I’d have tried to go over to the other side.

    What I remember of the daily routine of the early part of the war is mainly the sheer tedium of it all.

    I remember sleeping in bed clothes thick with dust, dirt, cockroaches and lice which plagued the motorised units – I was then with the artillery – for whom, it was said, conditions were relatively good.

    My worst experience during the initial advance was in August of ’41. The unit was based in a village – I remember which, and we were hit by heavy bombing from the Russians. We were in our quarters, and some of the men were sitting around a table. We could hear whistling of the bombs which seemed to be quite a distance away. Then the noise was more high-pitched . . . the bombs were dropping closer. I dived under the table. All the people who had been sitting at the table were killed in this attack; one had his head ripped to pieces. I don’t know how I came through.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Vanags was a teenager in Latvia when Germany invaded his country. He recalls the delight of the people when the Germans freed them from the oppressive Communist regime and their subsequent disillusionment.
    I was living in Riga, the capital of Latvia, with my mother when the Soviets invaded. We woke up one morning – June 17 1940. And the tanks were in the streets. I was thirteen years old and very intrigued. I looked at the tanks and the soldiers – they were scruffy, their uniforms didn’t look nice and they were all armed.

    At the beginning, they said nothing would change – but it did.

    I remember very clearly reading in a Soviet paper in April 1941, a little, insignificant notice about German troops going through Finland. They were passing through Finland to Norway. I was good at geography and wondered to myself . . . .

    People were hoping the Germans would come. They are our historical enemies. They arrived with the bible and the sword in the 12/13th century and subdued our people, forcing Christianity with them. They ruled us until World War I, but even the Germans would be better than the Russians.

    Early in 1941, the Soviets suddenly started increasing the number of troops in Latvia. Artillery moved through at night, the horses hoofs wrapped in rags. We couldn’t hear them but we could see them.

    In spring 1941 the Russians suddenly wanted to build 80 or 90 airfields in Latvia. Most of them were bomber airfields – and you don’t build bomber airfields for defence – they were planning something.

    In June 1941, whispers started going around that the Soviets would deport people. These people were described by the Soviets as ‘Socially Dangerous Elements’. One night over 35,000 people out of a population of about 1,600,000 were deported. Quite a number were shot as well. You can imagine the shock of going to visit my uncle next morning to find the whole house empty.

    A number of people, including my mother, took to the woods to stay with a family who lived near a farm. There were about 30 or 40 people living there with us in the woods.

    About a week later the war began. Suddenly, early one morning, the German aircraft arrived over Riga. We were up on the roof, binoculars in hand, watching the dive-bombers and anti-aircraft guns firing. The Germans didn’t bomb the town – they bombed gas tanks, oil tanks.

    Within two days, the Red Army was retreating. Single German aircraft would fly over in the evening dusk and fire on the road. You could see the tracers. Once I saw a Soviet Fighter take off, trying to catch a German plane. His aircraft was shot and exploded in the woods.

    We returned to Riga a couple of days after the Germans arrived. A home guard and scout groups were organised. I was a scout. There was still some hard fighting to do – there was a lot of street fighting in Riga old town with the remaining Soviet troops or local communist militia.

    There were burnt out tanks with skeletons inside which had sunk into the pavements and we couldn’t move them. They remained for a long, long, time. There were lots of things for kids to do – aircraft and tanks to look at. I remember going to a Soviet airfield with fighters lined up there. The Germans didn’t want the aircraft and there were boys there with screwdrivers, taking everything apart. You could find ammunition, machine-guns, rifles – I had a whole arsenal.

    At first everything was very patriotic – it was a feeling of relief. We all, even us kids, thought ‘we’re free now’. The Latvian flag was everywhere. The honeymoon lasted for two or three months, before the German Party people came and that was it.

    The national front was forbidden, national patriotic songs were forbidden, our anthem was forbidden. We were an occupied country again.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  12. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Some good close ups of the germ,an uniform system of the day inteesting and odd to see a guy securing his "Y" strap with "d" rings alone and not the standard K-98 ammo pouches.

    The second photo of the russian soldier is one seem quite often the others are certainly new to me.
    4 & 5 from the one town / scene the soliders resting at the side of the street - the rifle men to support the MG team - the boxes of ammo and supporting gear an exhausting load in the height of the Russian / Polish Summer.

    The NCO with the stick grenade in his hand is well loaded down , batonneted rifle , map case , gas mask tin , 6x30's plus his standard breadbag and water bottle.

    You have to wonder if any of the POW's or soldiers shown survived the war , surviving POW's were judged by Stalin to have been traitors -in 45 they exchanged one prison camp for another , many still being prisoners until after the death of "Uncle Joe".

    Good photos Andy :)
  13. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    What Barbarossa ended in - 4 years later.










    The faces and state of the uniforms say it all - this is total role reversal from the photos Andy posted , the boot is well and truely on the other foot.
    Dirty , exhausted, afraid and rightly fearing the worst they are a contrast to the Soviets who took their surrender.

    The half tracks and SPG's are worth a look , I don't know the date or location but assume its possibly out side of Berlin or in the Baltic region but these are only pot shots.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  14. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Thats a very interesting contrast James, and given all that had happened in the preceding 4 years to the Soviet Union by the Third Reich its really not surprising seeing the reactions in the photos. They knew they were in for a hard time.
  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Sow the winds... In photos 1 & 4 the officers still have their sidearms.

    If I'm not asking too much, where did you get these photos, James?? :)
  16. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Za Rodinu ,certainly not asking too much :)

    A friend from Australia sent them to me this morning - unfortunately I don't have the source of them - they are watermarked.

    I think they might have come from here but can't be 100%, will ask and get back.
    Military photos . net
  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Ah, yes,, thanks :)
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Superb photos, thanks for sharing.

  19. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Za Rodinu
    Ah, yes,, thanks

    Yes , think that's the one , I have savd it to favorites somewhere.....if I could find it.:)
  20. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    As Za has already said they have reaped what they have sown. I wonder how many of those Germans were part of the army that swept into the Soviet Union on 22nd June???

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