By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with stalkerzone.org
There is a false opinion that is popular in narrow circles of Rezun adherents that the "unfortunate peaceable" Fuhrer, having suddenly learned that the USSR concentrated too many troops in the Western Military Districts, scratched around, and with the incidental divisions found near at hand was forced to urgently attack the USSR in order to not be attacked himself.
In practice Hitler gave the order to prepare an attack on the USSR already on July 31st 1940 (France capitulated on June 22nd of the same year).
He motivated his position not at all by the fact that the USSR was preparing to attack him, but by saying that the disappearance of the last major (alternative to German) military force in Europe will deprive Great Britain of hope for a result of war that is positive for it, and London will agree to make peace on the terms of Berlin. I.e., Hitler planned to "heal" the war that was already launched by him via a new war only because his calculations on the tractability of England after the defeat of France failed.
Directive No. 21, which approved the "Barbarossa Option", appeared only on December 18th 1940. It became the development of the "Ost" plan elaborated by the General Erich Marcks, who was considered to be the best specialist of the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres) on Russia. Marcks presented his reasons in August, but they did not satisfy Hitler, and the "Ost" plan was improved on the basis of the instructions of the Fuhrer by the group under the leadership of the well-known in Russia - thanks to the Battle of Stalingrad - General Friedrich Paulus.
Here it is necessary to make the reservation of the rather personal qualities of General Paulus. All of his colleagues recognised him as a well educated officer who was brilliantly prepared for staff work. But at the same time they nevertheless noted his obedience. Paulus always unconditionally obeyed the person with a stronger character irrespective of whether the latter occupied in relation to him a leading position (like Hitler) or a subordinated position (like the chief of his headquarters in the 6th army Major General Arthur Schmidt). Paulus executed orders irrespective of whether he considered them to be correct or nhttp://thesaker.is/ending-a-cultural-revolution-can-only-be-counter-revolutionary-7-8/ot. Thanks to this quality of Paulus, the deployment of troops within the framework of the "Barbarossa Directive" happened as a part of three groups of armies, and not two, as General Marcks proposed.
The matter is that Erich Marcks, apparently, was not only a great expert on Russia, but also a sensible staff officer who perfectly acquired the principles of the adventurous strategy of blitzkrieg, which allowed Germany to win at the first stages of World War II. Blitzkrieg assumed a victory by the smaller forces of a stronger opponent due to a concentration of troops (including all mobile formations) in strategic directions unexpected for it. The created local superiority materialised into deep breaches. The mobile formations supported by aircraft destroyed the rear, provided a loss by the highest headquarters of the leadership of troops, after which the front units found themselves in numerous cauldrons, catastrophically losing their fighting capacity, the organised defence of the country collapsing, and the fighting was turning into an operation to clean up the area from the remains of troops of the opponent, already demoralised and incapable of resistance.
This approach justified itself in Poland, in France, and at the beginning (in 1941) in the USSR. In 1942 the success of German troops on the Eastern front was local and didn't have such a catastrophic character for the USSR. In general in 1942, despite large-scale defeats on the Southern flank, the Staff of the General Headquarters retained control over the situation.
The strategy of blitzkrieg was dictated by the general weakness of Germany in comparison with its opponents. Without going on adventures that were dangerous and fraught with instant defeat, Germany could not count on victories. But an adventure on the verge of catastrophic defeat, if it was successful, led to a just as catastrophic defeat of the opponent. This method is expressed in a proverb today: "He who takes no chances drinks no champagne".
In full compliance with the strategy of blitzkrieg, General Marcks made a plan that was extremely adventurous, but in the event it was triumphant it promised absolute success. The deployment of "Ost" was supposed to be carried out within the framework of two groups of armies operating to the North of the Polesia swamps. In the South, Romania and Hungary didn't have to enter the war, which provided the impossibility of an attack of Soviet troops through their territory. And in order to defend the Carpathian passes leading to Poland, there were rather enough small forces. The Polesia swamps, extending from the border to Bryansk, had to cover the open Southern flank of the attacking group. It was supposed to control them also by rather small forces.
Thus, the Soviet troops concentrated in Ukraine (40% of all potential and 50% of mobile formations) had to switch-off from active fighting until the attacking German army appeared on the outskirts of Moscow, in the deep rear of the Ukrainian group of Soviet troops. At the second stage (after capturing Moscow and Leningrad) it was supposed to drive the Soviet troops concentrated in the South towards the Black Sea and the Caucasian ridge and to destroy them with the assistance of the Turkish army, which had to strike them in the rear.
It is unknown whether they would have succeeded to implement this plan, but specific battles of 1941 show that, despite all its adventurousness, it could've been realised in the condition of strict fulfilment. During this period of war the Soviet troops proved to be good in passive defence, but no so good at deep and difficult offensive operations, and the command was catastrophically late to react to the actions of the enemy. That's why the isolation of the large group of Soviet troops in Ukraine in the specific conditions of 1941 is not something unreal.
However, Hitler, who was always much more careful than his Generals, stated that he cannot fight without Ukrainian bread, coal, and metal, etc. He demanded the development of an operation taking into account the need to occupy Ukraine. Conscientious Paulus developed the "Barbarossa" plan, within the framework of which over 30% of German military power as a part of the "South" army groups had to operate to the South of the Polesia swamps (in Ukraine). At the same time, expeditious collaboration between the "Centre" and "South" army groups would be achieved only after arriving at the Smolensk-Chernigov line. This would reduce (although it didn't completely remove) the general operational risk, but would also sharply reduce the chances of success.
The specific peripeteias of fighting in the Great Patriotic War were repeatedly parsed. The critical, on the verge of a Soviet defeat, situation of 1941 came to an end with the victorious battle of Moscow, after which it was a question only of what year, with what forces, and with what losses will the USSR crush Germany. But for us the transformation of the "Ost" plan into the "Barbarossa" plan is important due to the fact that if it wasn't for the German occupation of Ukraine, we would not face such a phenomenon as civil war during the Great Patriotic War.
Traitors and collaborators were everywhere (in Western and Eastern Europe, in different regions of the USSR). On Russian territories there was a "Lokot republic" of Kaminsky, and besides Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army, the 15th SS Cossack Cavalry Corps of Lieutenant General Helmuth von Pannwitz worked in the structure of the German army, and there was also the Baltic and Caucasian "SS legions", even in Belarus there were its own homegrown henchmen, although the most part had to be sent from Ukraine and from the Baltics. However, in any region, including the Baltics, the amount of the local population that was at war as a part of the Red Army exceeded (some by orders of magnitude, and some by percentage, but all the same exceeded) the number of those who went to serve the enemy.
In Ukraine there was a cardinally different situation. In its central and its Southeast regions the picture was approximately the same as the average for the Union. But the Western regions, generally Galicia, were on the side of the enemy almost in full strength. It's not a coincidence that after war the USSR couldn't cope with banderism for a long time. UPA enjoyed the support of the local population. Even Banderist terror would be impracticable if it wasn't for the support of the local population.
During the war about 1,200,000 Soviet citizens served in different military and auxiliary formations of the Wehrmacht, the SS, and police. From them, according to the data of the German command, 400,000 were Russians and 250,000 were Ukrainians. However, according to the same data, over half a million (nearly a half) from all collaborators lived on the territory of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic before the war. The Germans simply considered as Ukrainians mainly Galicia residents or those people who officially adopted the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism.
Moreover, as was said above, collaborators from Ukraine and from the Baltics alone (three small republics gave in total 230,000 collaborators) were used to maintain order in other regions (in the regions of Belarus, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and Eastern Ukraine, where their own collaborators were lacking in numbers). There was one essential difference between the Ukrainian and Baltic collaborators. A considerable part of the latter indeed fought at the front. The former mainly committed atrocities in the rear. The actions of Baltic police battalions outside the actual territory of the Baltics aren't as known (there are several cases in Belarus). But the Ukrainian (Galician) punishers "glorified themselves" for both Khatyn and atrocities committed while interrogating members of the Young Guard in Krasnodon. Henchmen from Galicia were brought to Kiev, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, and Donbass, as well as to the regions of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic bordering with Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Rostov, Belgorod), and also to Belarus.
I draw your attention to the fact that in the area of actions of Galician collaborators, 2/3rds of spaces are occupied by the Southeast and central regions of Ukraine, where their own collaborators were lacking in numbers. It is precisely this that grants us the right to say that during the Great Patriotic War the occupied territory of Ukraine became the arena of civil war between the Russian population of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (which became partisans) and the Galician collaborators. Banderism, suppressed after war, only went underground. In new conditions, with the collapse of the USSR, this civil war resumed, and rather quickly went through a cold stage and since 2014 has acquired open character.
However, there is also an even more important detail. During the Great Patriotic War the Ukrainian collaborators, performing punitive functions on the territories of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, already tried to transfer civil war beyond the border of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic - to set fire to all the USSR. Now, by talking about their "war" with Russia and about their readiness to carry out saboteur work against it, trying to establish ties with Russian marginal opposition and to create a terrorist underground on its foundations, modern Banderists again try to solve a problem that was not solved by their predecessors - to transfer civil war from the territory of Ukraine to Russia and to destroy the Russian State.
The defeat of Germany in war became a condition for a victory over banderism after the Great Patriotic War. The condition of a victory over modern banderism is a victory in the hybrid war launched by the US against Russia and now also China.