Posts Tagged ‘operation barbarossa’

Title: Брестская Крепость (The Brest Fortress)
Director: Alexander Kott

The Red Army’s defense of the Brest Fortress against the Nazis in June-July 1941 is one of the most resonant episodes of the Great Patriotic War. The legend about the feat of the defenders of the fortress—the Citadel on the Bug, as it is often called—emerged during the Khrushchev Thaw. The myth about the fearless warriors, who fought Hitler’s army deep in the enemy’s rear for almost a month was formed in the mid 1960s, after the publication of a book by the Moscow journalist Sergei Smirnov (the father & grandfather respectively of filmmaker Andrei Smirnov & Dunia Smirnova). In the 1970s, at the suggestion of the First Secretary of the Belarus Communist Party, Peter Masherov, the Brest Fortress became the ideological & tourist brand for Belarus, as well as an occasion for the propaganda of Soviet internationalism: the garrison at the Fortress had included a dozen nationalities of the USSR. For the authorities of modern Belarus, the history of the Brest Fortress & its defenders is, above all, an example of the “fraternal attitudes” to allied Russia. It is no wonder that this well-known plot was chosen for the first film project of the Television & Radio Organization (TRO) of the Union state.

The film project was preceded by a documentary film of the same title, made by TRO a year before the beginning of the feature film. According to scriptwriter Konstantin Vorob’ev, it was the success of the television screenings of the documentary that pushed the management of TRO into the direction of a live-action film for the silver screen. The film-project The Brest Fortress was financed from the budget of the Allied State of Russia & Belarus at a ratio of 60 & 40 percent respectively, with an overall budget of approximately $7 million. The ideological inspiration for the film came from the former television comedian & now head of TRO, Igor’ Ugol’nikov, who emphasized from the very beginning the public importance of the project. The Brest Fortress should tell the young generation of Russians & Belorusians “the truth about the war”, which has been deformed in recent narratives. In particular, young men should know that the main contribution to the victory over Nazism came from the USSR.

Film review written by Anton Sidorenko


The War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, is a BBC documentary film series that examines Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the “no holds barred” war on both sides. It not only examines the war but also the terror inside the Soviet Union at the time due to the paranoia of Joseph Stalin – the revenge atrocities, the purge of the armed forces, the near-lunacy orders, & the paranoia of being upstaged by others, especially Marshal Zhukov. The historical adviser is Prof. Ian Kershaw.

Hitler’s decision to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941 has generated considerable historical controversy. Among the most controversial “What ifs” concerns the timing of the German Attack.

What if the Germans had delayed Barbarossa until after dealing with Great Britain (in 1942 or 1943)?

A German delay of up to two years in launching Operation Barbarossa could have had a significant effect on immediate conditions surrounding the attack & on the initial course of operations. It is not likely, however, that such a delay would have altered the outcome of the war. German postponement of Operation Barbarossa until 1942 or 1943 presumes that Germany would have been able to defeat or neutralize Great Britain. Although a direct German invasion of the British Isles was thwarted in 1940 & would probably have been unlikely in 1941, a broad German thrust through the Balkans into the Middle East (an expanded Mediterranean strategy) in time could have brought Britain to its knees. Such an outcome would have cleared Germany’s southern flank & rear & permitted German military planners to adhere to their schedule for an invasion of the Soviet Union in May of 1942 or 1943, thus avoiding the delay which they experienced in 1941.

On the other hand, one must recognize that expanded German military operations in the Middle East & Mediterranean basis could conceivably have tied down large German forces, or done damage to German units, which would have required repair by the time Barbarossa actually began: recall German casualties in the Crete operation.

Assuming the Germans succeeded in clearing their southern flank, neutralizing Britain & assembling an imposing military host to conduct Barbarossa, the delay of one or two years would have posed other problems for the Germans. First, it is unlikely that the Germans could have achieved in 1942 or 1943 the degree of surprise they achieved in 1941, in particular since they would not have benefited from the deceptive effect which the Balkan operation had on the Soviet government in spring 1941.

Second & even more important, by 1942 the Soviet military reorganization & re-equipment program, which had begun in 1940, would have been close to completion, if not fully complete. The Soviet armored force of 29 mechanized corps, so woefully deficient in requisite tanks in June 1941, & so poorly trained & equipped with the 1,443 model T-34 & KV tanks in 1941, surprised the Germans & locally slowed the German attack. By 1942 most of the ten Soviet mechanized corps in the border military districts, & the six which ultimately reinforced them, would have possessed a sizeable compliment of the new tanks, enough to disrupt seriously German operations.

The restructuring & re-equipment program began in 1940 after the end of the Soviet-Finnish War, during which the Soviets did so poorly. It involved the streamlining of rifle forces (divisions), creation of mechanized corps, airborne corps, & a host of other measures. Soviet analysis of German operations in Western Europe spurred the efforts on. According to Soviet sources the program was to be completed by the summer of 1942.

By June 1941, T-34 & KV-1 & 2 strength was just short of 1,500, most in the border military districts. By summer, 1942, this figure should have risen to over 16,000. Realistically, the figure should not have exceeded 5,000, but that number would have had a sizable impact on operations. Regarding surprise, 6th Panzer Division’s harrowing experiences with several battalions of Russian T-34 & KV-1 tanks was indicative of what an even larger & better prepared Russian force would have achieved.

Had German intelligence detected the existence of the new models, & had Hitler sought to delay the attack until comparable German tanks were available, further delay was a technological race the Germans could not have won.

Given greater Soviet military capabilities, it is also more likely that Stalin wold have considered some sort of preemptive action against Germany. If preemption did not occur, Soviet forces would have been better prepared than they were in 1941 to meet & defeat the actual German invasion.