The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
POLITICAL and strategical designs are still subject to the fortunes of war. Strategical initiative may be paralyzed at any time by unforeseen and unpredictable factors. A totalitarian government may suddenly attack a country with which it is formally at peace, and thereby gain the advantages of the strategical initiative. A democratic government, even if it foresees armed conflict, must generally wait to take any military action until its people have learned from the failure of patient and prolonged negotiation that there is no alternative to war. This handicap on democracies at the outset of hostilities is of course well known. We may remember, however, that what are advantages and handicaps at the start may become the opposite in the course of a long war entailing grievous disappointments and heavy sacrifices.
Thus a nation which has limited military and economic resources for a long war may, by seizing the political and strategical initiative, secure an initial preponderance that holds the promise of real victory. The hopes based on this likelihood of victory constitute a great national asset -- so long as the likelihood lasts. But the reaction to even a delay in achieving victory can be much more violent and more dangerous in a nation which is under a dictatorship than in a democratic nation which has had slowly to overcome its initial military disadvantages and disillusionments. For example, the equilibrium of a nation like Germany, which knows that it can win a war only by keeping the strategic initiative, may easily become unstable. The older generation in particular, which only 25 years ago underwent experiences similar to those it is undergoing today, may be expected to be particularly sensitive to the sudden, almost instinctive, impression of having lost the strategical initiative even without having suffered any strategic reverse. This may be the reason why Hitler eventually decided to make out that the terribly hard winter was even more of a delaying factor in the war in Russia than actually was the case.
True, this winter in northeastern Europe was the coldest in more than 150 years. It set in, too, a week or a fortnight earlier than usual. The cold had not only a paralyzing effect on men and horses, but grave consequences for machines as well. It is for physicists to decide how serious are the effects of a temperature of 50 or 60 degrees below zero on synthetic rubber, gasoline and ersatz metals. That they were serious in Russia last winter the German reports openly admit. But the fact remains that the German advance in Russia reached the furthest point which it could safely attain about the second week of November. The reasons why this was so were given in a previous article in these pages, written before that date.[i] The results of the causes there described were in practice aggravated by the extremely severe weather; but the weather was not a main cause.
This view of the position of the German Army in Russia has to be maintained in face of the barrage of news and information released from all sides in the past six months. It is strongly and sufficiently supported by the official communiqués of the Russian and German General Headquarters. Anyone who takes the trouble to examine the text of these communiqués word by word, checking the names of towns and villages as they changed hands, and analyzing the figures given of losses in men and matériel, will need no "inside" information to come to a definite conclusion. Even to people of little military insight or experience, the disproportion between the numbers of Germans killed and the amounts of German matériel captured as given in the Russian reports must reveal the truth through the wartime fog.
In the darkest and most ominous hour of the war, Russian General Headquarters had to do everything possible to foster the morale of the Russian people. The Russian communiqués, then, were formulated with the utmost care in order to convey the impression of great victories to the Russian nation without becoming ridiculous in the eyes of military experts. Why, for example, should they not report the recapture of a "populated" place in a vast thinly-populated area even if it did consist only of a former great estate with a few peasant houses? Why not state that raiders 40 miles away from a given town were advancing "in the direction of" that town, if there was no habitation in between, only swamp and forest? Readers of these Russian communiqués, furthermore, should have realized that they could not reasonably add up German losses given for separate actions at different places and then combine them with the total German losses reported in later Russian accounts of long phases of the campaign over the whole front. Only if due allowance is made for the fact that it is impossible to count the dead except by burying them (as only the masters of the field of battle can do)[ii] are casualty figures indicative of the actual strategical position.
It is impossible to suppose that the German General Staff were unaware of the dangers lurking in the Russian winter and in the country's immense distances. The guarded tone used in the reports from German General Headquarters about the twin battles of Vyazma and Bryansk in the middle of October, and about General Rundstedt's advance toward the bend in the Donets River north of Taganrog, contrasted markedly with an announcement by Hitler's personal press chief, Dietrich. This announcement Goebbels himself immediately, if somewhat tentatively, debunked, very likely under pressure from the military authorities in Berlin. But it would be rash to conclude from this that Hitler had really made himself independent of the judgment of the General Staff. Perhaps the personal interview given by Hitler to Dietrich had a special aim. Perhaps it was meant to influence the makers of Japanese policy. This point must be examined as a possible clue to the whole mystery of the assault carried on against Moscow from November until just two days before Pearl Harbor, that is to say, until the Japanese fleet was already well on the way to strike its treacherous blow.
The statements of military spokesmen in Berlin from the beginning of November gradually prepared the public for the realization that climate and distance would set a limit to any further German advance. This was natural. Every German staff officer for a hundred years has had to study the book by General Clausewitz on the campaign of 1812. There can be no doubt that Tukhachevsky's general strategical conception of time and space
and his great scheme of fortifications were influenced by the same writer. Now it is true that, since Clausewitz's time, rail and motor transportation and, even more, the close tactical coöperation of air forces and mechanized ground forces, have produced revolutionary changes in both time and space as vital elements of strategy. But it must be repeated again and again that geography and human endurance limit the effects of these changes, as General Groener foresaw that they might do even in a comparatively small country like France.[iii] In a vast country like Russia, not even the unforeseen mistakes committed by the Russian General Staff in concentrating too great masses of troops on the western frontier far beyond the Stalin Line could prevent the limitless extent of the country from becoming the essential factor in the campaign.
In 1811 and 1812 Scharnhorst imbued Prussian officers like Gneisenau, Wolzogen, and Clausewitz, as well as the Russian Ambassador in Berlin, Count Lieven, with the paramount importance of the vastness of Russian distances in any campaign in that country.[iv] There was another Prussian officer who, like these, preferred to quit the Prussian service in the hope of fighting against Napoleon in Russia, General Phull. His strategical imagination was not equal to Scharnhorst's; but his personal influence over the Tsar might have permitted him to lead Russia to disaster if Clausewitz had not persuaded him at the last moment to resign. Perhaps, too, General Phull was not able to foresee, as Scharnhorst and Clausewitz did (though Gneisenau did not),[v] how stoically Russian soldiers would withstand the disappointments and hardships of constant retreat. There are no soldiers in Europe, except the British, who can be compared with the Russians in this characteristic.
But General Phull had one good idea which is strikingly similar to certain elements in Tukhachevsky's plan of defense. This was the establishment of a strong defensive position on the River Drissa (a small tributary of the Dvina just east of Dvinsk) which was well adapted to preventing tactical coöperation between Napoleon's northern and central armies. In case Napoleon turned back from his advance into the vastness of Russia, this position would threaten his retreating armies with disaster. Tukhachevsky chose a much better location and a more grandiose and modern form for his stronghold; in this respect he benefited by Clausewitz's criticism of the Phull plan. But that Phull was right in principle has been shown by the whole present campaign. The German General Staff must have appreciated the vital importance of the Drissa position from the very beginning, as Leeb's and Bock's armies, acting in close coöperation, attacked it with strong forces. Once this fortified position was in their hands, they ran no risk, later on, in permitting the Russians to advance as far as Velikie Luki.
It is only now possible, in the spring of 1942, to appreciate fully the constructive imagination and the strategical genius of Tukhachevsky and his fellow officers of the General Staff, diluted or perverted as their plans have been in execution by the lack of equal imagination on the part of troopers like Marshal Budenny and other amateur commanders. In order to understand what has happened, and what may very likely happen this summer, it is worth while to try to get a picture of Tukhachevsky's strategical vision.
In an ordinary grouping of the Powers, a Russian chief of staff shares one advantage with the chiefs of staff of Great Britain, France, and almost every other great country of Europe except Poland and Germany: his country cannot be overrun in a few months, as Germany can be unless an initial German success compensates for the disadvantage of her unprotected natural frontiers. In the eyes of a great Russian chief of staff, the successful defense of the country resolves itself into one main problem: how prevent an invader from the west from threatening the direct communications between Kharkov and Moscow, which are the life-line of Russia, until mobilization throughout the vast Russian empire has been completed and the Russian Army has been concentrated west of this life-line?
Great swamps, lakes and rivers mark Russia's natural western frontier, running from Lake Peipus down through the Pripet Marshes to Korosten, and thence to the middle course of the Dniester and so to the Black Sea. This line requires strong fortification in the south, between Korosten and the Dniester; and in the north between Lake Peipus and the pivotal Drissa position. Although this line is, geographically, very long, the natural obstacles which it presents to an invader make it a comparatively short line to defend, provided the fortifications at critical points are sufficiently deep. If all the army corps which in time of peace are stationed west of the Moscow-Kharkov-Crimea line, and which draw their reserves from the local population, are brought into these fortifications promptly, the Russians have unique possibilities for waging a successful defense. West of the fortified line, only very weak forces should be left -- to delay the enemy, to maintain contact with him, and to observe his deployment. The Russians can "sell space for time." Time is what they need in order to concentrate all their forces for the defense of Moscow and the industrial area of the eastern Ukraine. When the bulk of the Russian Army has been concentrated in these two regions, with a large striking force of élite troops between Kiev and Kursk (to prevent a junction of the southern and central invading armies in case of breaks north and south of the Pripet Marshes in the fortified line), then the Russians can risk retreats of a hundred miles and more even behind the fortified line.
Lenin during his exile read Clausewitz and was fascinated by him. With his genius for simplification, he captured the essence of Clausewitz's vision. Tukhachevsky embodied it in a technical system of defense far ahead of any in existence at the time he conceived it. In his scheme Leningrad can have figured only as an isolated advanced fortification of no decisive importance. One may surmise that as long as Finland and Estonia were not in Russian hands Tukhachevsky did not care greatly for a strong Baltic fleet or the arsenals of Kronstadt -- that is, unless an offensive were ordered against Germany. General Rundstedt's difficulties in the Crimea and in his advance on Rostov, which were due to the domination of the Black Sea by the Russian fleet, proved conclusively that so long as Russia avoided a war of aggression every additional ship she kept in the Black Sea at the expense of her Baltic fleet could be of vital importance.
The armed camp of Moscow -- nearly 350 miles in circumference -- is protected by vast stretches of swamp and forest, not only to the northwest, but also to the north, the northeast, and the east down to the River Oka between Kolomna and Ryazan. In the ring of towns surrounding Moscow are located sufficient armament and other industries for a long war, provided coal, steel and oil can be brought in either from the east or from the Ukraine. When the German attack actually started, the possibilities of securing such supplies from the east had not yet been developed adequately. There remained the supply base of the Ukraine. This threatened to become the weak spot in the gigantic scheme of defense.
How to protect the Ukraine must therefore have been uppermost in Tukhachevsky's mind. In that region, once the Stalin Line had been broken, there were not the same natural advantages as could be utilized in the north. Except for the Dnieper, panzer divisions rapidly advancing in the south would encounter few and unimportant obstacles until they came to the densely populated Donets basin. For this reason the Stalin Line was made especially strong from the Pripet Marshes down to the River Dniester; and it was manned by Russian élite troops, who, when the time came, fought extremely well. As long as the Russians can hold the Kiev region, an invading army runs grave risks in advancing further toward Kharkov. Large forces would have to be detached to the south to prevent a Russian army from attacking from the Crimea, by nature an extremely strong position. Another threat would be from the Donets basin, where large masses of troops can easily be hidden; these could attack the southern invading army as it tried to cross the Dnieper immediately south of Kiev to join the northern invading army moving against Moscow from above the Pripet Marshes. Thus Kiev and its hinterland are vital, as a wedge between the main forces of the invaders, both to the defense of the region of Moscow and also to that of the Ukraine. In Tukhachevsky's grandiose scheme of defense Kiev was the pivotal point. To man the Stalin Line west of Kiev as strongly as possible was therefore right and necessary. But the placing of large forces far west of the Stalin Line itself, as was actually done, was a grave mistake. It spoiled Tukhachevsky's plan altogether.
A second mistake was to denude the Dnieper line immediately south of Kiev and to concentrate forces further south at Dniepro-petrovsk, the bridgehead to the Donets basin. This was responsible for Rundstedt's easy crossing of the Dnieper at Cherkasy. It enabled Bock and Rundstedt to join forces east of Kiev and annihilate the Russian forces covering the most vulnerable part of the entire system of defense -- the railways linking Moscow and the Ukraine. The whole strategy of the leaders of the Russian Army should have been directed to preventing that junction at any price. Even by withdrawing their forces towards the line Kaluga-Tula-Orel from around Smolensk immediately after the German capture of that city, instead of permitting the Germans to destroy the majority of their forces in the area that is strategically the most dangerous for Russian armies, they could have frustrated the whole German plan. That is what Clausewitz had advised the Russians to do in a similar danger, and what Tukhachevsky probably would have done. But they did not have either Clausewitz's or Tukhachevsky's understanding of grand strategy. The Russian armies employed to halt the invader after he had broken through the Stalin Line did not operate according to any integrated strategical plan. They never had the initiative and were defeated in separate units.
Rundstedt was thereupon free to turn his attention to the Crimea, the Donets basin, and Kharkov. Bock's troops, in combination with such of Leeb's forces as were available after they had destroyed the last Russian positions in the Baltic countries, were free to attack the Russian armies covering the approach to Moscow from the southwest. That is the only direction from which it is vulnerable from a military and supply point of view. Were the Russians hypnotized by the presence of General Hoth's panzer army which, after a single stupendous dash in early July, had arrived at Vyazma, only 120 miles west of Moscow? In spite of heavy losses, General Hoth's army seems to have fully accomplished its tactical function of distracting Russian attention from the more important area northeast of Kiev.
Such, in brief, was the way in which the natural and strategical advantages embodied in Tukhachevsky's great conception were discarded by people who probably never comprehended it. It is an old story -- a repetition of the unimaginative execution of the Schlieffen plan by the younger Moltke. Clausewitz, criticizing another Prussian General Staff officer in the Russian Army in 1812, wrote that his pedantry offset his other great qualities; and he added:
He who moves in the element of war must not burden himself with anything that he has found in writing. Only the training of his mind matters. If he comes with ready-made plans, not derived from the clash with reality, not formed from his own flesh and blood, events will overthrow the whole structure even before he is able to complete it.[vi]
These words by Clausewitz could be used as the epilogue of last year's campaign in Russia. They should be present to the mind of every commander, and especially so in a war in which the apparent preponderance of mechanized forces exercises such a power of fascination.
On October 16, after four months of war, Tukhachevsky's system was shattered, and the strength of Russia's first-line European army was broken. This was a vital gain for the German Army. Unquestionably it was achieved at enormous sacrifices. The front around Leningrad remained quiet. Leeb had not men enough to do more than eliminate the Russian threats in the Valdai Hills and to the north, on the River Volkov. In this way he protected the northern flank of Bock's Army Group, which needed time for regrouping before its assault on Moscow from the west and southwest.
Very difficult tasks faced Rundstedt, both in the Crimea and in pursuing the remnant of Budenny's army before it could reach the Donets basin. Rundstedt's line, stretched out as far north as Kursk, became thin. Under these conditions, any divisions which the Russians could bring up from Asia or the Caucasus must have seemed a serious threat to him. While the Crimea remained unconquered, Rundstedt -- who had nothing to match the Russian Black Sea fleet -- must have excluded from his mind all idea of an advance to the Caucasus. For him to have crossed the Don at Rostov and turned to the south, where there were only two passable roads, would have exposed his flank and rear. Attacks on them under those conditions might have been dangerous even if delivered by comparatively small forces. In addition, his advance (like Bock's) was hampered by a fortnight of torrential rain. He could no longer depend on any strong supporting tactical pressure from Bock's army in the north. In fact, the German line was now extended beyond the maximum of safety. If first-class Russian armies had still been available, they might have gained a great strategical victory in the Belgorod-Kursk area north of Kharkov.
All in all, considering the manpower which he had available, the conditions of supply, and the weather, Rundstedt had accomplished his task for the year in occupying the Donets basin and in taking all but one of the railways from there to Moscow.
The ideal winter line for the German Army would of course have been along the railway running northward from Rostov to Ryazan and Vladimir, with the bend of the Oka and its neighboring wide zone of swamps to protect the front for nearly two hundred miles to the east. In those circumstances the Russians would have been deprived of the chance of moving troops north and south. But this meant that Moscow would first have to be captured. And it would have to be captured under conditions in which the German lines had been extended to a maximum; under menace of cold, which occurs in Moscow, as Caulaincourt remarks in his memoirs, as suddenly as the explosion of a hidden bomb; and in face of the threatened arrival of Russian divisions from the Caucasus, from Asia, and even -- as actually occurred at the end of November -- from eastern Siberia. Furthermore, possibly over a third of Budenny's southern army had been brought back safely behind the Don, there (especially those evacuated from Odessa and Nikolaev by boat) to be regrouped. Once his advance had reached the densely populated industrial area of the Ukraine, Rundstedt had no further opportunity for great battles of encirclement. No "Cannae," in Count Schlieffen's sense, is possible in such terrain. Converging pressure must be exerted on one town after another, under conditions which are very unfavorable to air reconnaissance.
Once Moscow had been cut off from the oil of the Caucasus, the coal of the Donets basin, and the iron ore of the Ukraine, Rostov might have been considered an ideal advanced German station for a winter lull. In fact, although it would have provided excellent winter quarters for a large number of troops, it was not. But -- and this was the first clue to further movements -- Rostov was in fact occupied by rather weak forces. To judge from both the German and the Russian reports, there was hardly one full S.S. division in Rostov when the Russian attack was made. That was a division which had been in the vanguard of the advance from the mouth of the Dnieper to the Don, and must have suffered severe losses.
As early as the end of October, reports from German General Headquarters mentioned that snow and sleet were hampering operations. Yet a month later, after the German capture of Rostov, Goebbels wrote and spoke of an advance against Astrakhan and the Caucasus. Was this a conflict of views or a smoke-screen to prevent the rest of the world from perceiving the German plans? While Bock, after taking Kaluga during the battles of Vyazma and Bryansk, was reorganizing his armies rather slowly to move forward against Moscow, conflicting information about both weather and plans originated daily from official sources in Berlin and from unofficial sources in other European capitals. Was there real uncertainty as to what the final decision was to be? Or was there a conflict between Hitler's political purposes -- or his state of possible elation -- and the deliberate military judgment of the generals? Would not the generals have preferred to stop at the line Kursk-Orel-Bryansk-Vyazma-Valdai Hills?
Only history will provide the conclusive answers to these questions. Even now, however, basing our judgment on the official military communiqués alone, we can venture an interpretation. A German military spokesman estimated the Russian armies around Moscow in the third week of October at 1,500,000 men, and those in the south under Marshal Timoshenko at 1,600,000 men. Adding the 400,000 men in the northern sector, this would mean that the Russians still had 3,500,000 in their western front line. That is probably many more than were available in the German front line. On October 21 a military spokesman in Berlin stated that out of 500 Russian divisions there remained 200, or 4,000,000 men, of whom perhaps 500,000 were east of the Ural Mountains. This meant that Russian losses were estimated at 6,000,000 men, more than half of them prisoners. Hitler had announced a "final blow" twelve days before. The military spokesman, however, without excluding the possibility of a drive against Moscow, minimized its importance.
One sure conclusion emerges. German General Headquarters did not underestimate the Russian military strength still available. The October 21 statement, in combination with a report on the same date about heavy snowstorms and freezing nights, left the impression that German General Headquarters were doubtful whether, in face of climatic conditions, the advance should be carried further. But in fact the cold was not at all like the bombshell of 1812.[vii] Clausewitz, describing Napoleon's campaign in that year, makes little of the sudden cold even then. As chief of staff in General Platen's Cavalry Corps, which harassed Napoleon's Army incessantly, he was in a better position than anybody else to appreciate its importance. He confines himself for the most part to very sober calculations of Napoleon's losses in each phase of the campaign. On the basis of these actual losses he concludes that there was nothing for Napoleon to do but to retreat in time over the road by which he had advanced. It was only on the way back that Napoleon's Army suffered from the cold.
In this connection Clausewitz makes certain conjectures, which we now know from Caulaincourt [viii] to be perfectly correct. Writing of Napoleon's attack on Kaluga on October 23, 1812, at the same time that the order to evacuate Moscow was issued, he calls such a thrust against Kutusov's armies the natural beginning of Napoleon's retreat, and adds that "it was most important for Bonaparte to begin his retreat by a sham offensive toward the south." The German generals in 1941 may have had this manœuvre in mind. If so, it would explain much that otherwise is obscure in the German as well as in the Russian reports.
But there must be an additional explanation for the fact that the northern wing of General Bock's Army, which moved a hundred miles north of Moscow from Kalinin through Klin and crossed the Moscow-Volga Canal due north of the center of Moscow, was strengthened to include four panzer and two motorized infantry divisions, and was supported on its southern flank by three more panzer divisions. The terrain between the Volga and the northern ring of fortifications around Moscow offers no chance for such a mass of tank and motorized divisions even to deploy fully. South of Moscow, on the other hand, the terrain, at least as far as the River Oka at Ryazan, is ideal for panzer divisions. But there, where opportunities for German progress were infinitely greater than in the north, only four panzer and three motorized divisions were present. Both the northern and the southern wings were very weak in infantry. In the north there were only four infantry divisions; and in the south, on an extremely extended "double-looping" front, twice as long as the rest of the entire front around Moscow, there were only seven infantry divisions. Twenty-two infantry divisions, supported by two tank divisions, were concentrated in the center. This disposition of forces is hard to explain except on the assumption that it made provision for a retreat even before the assault was begun. The massing of twenty-two infantry divisions in the center of the battle front, with only eleven infantry divisions in the attacking wings, and half of these apparently as much as 50 miles behind the panzer divisions in echelon,[ix] provided for the possibility of a quick withdrawal of the wings and of stubborn resistance in the center west of Moscow against a Russian counter-attack, but not for the complete encirclement of Moscow. The final encirclement of fortifications or of armies harassed by tanks can only be executed by infantry divisions.
Russian reports of the development of the battle lend further support to this view. In the first two weeks of November, however, the reports from Berlin and other European countries became more and more confusing. November 1 was the date of the Hitler interview which was censored in Berlin. On the same day the German radio broadcast very exact and distressing descriptions of the hardships undergone by German troops as a result of the intense cold. Three days later, while the German attack was progressing north and south of Moscow, there were rumors in Finland of a withdrawal. On November 12 there were rumors in Berlin of an imminent withdrawal from Moscow. From that time, the attacks made north of Moscow, in spite of the heavy tank forces concentrated there, were merely demonstrative; but south of the city further important progress was made, to Venev and Kashira on the middle Oka and to Skopin on the road to Ryazan. Russian reports unintentionally suggest that the 1st Panzer Division in the north had already withdrawn. On December 4 came reports of defensive Russian actions along the Moscow-Volga Canal, of flanking attacks against the German tank column farthest to the southeast (south of Skopin), and of claws of a German pincer movement only three or four miles apart north of Tula. The next day German General Headquarters reported heavy air attacks against Russian troop concentrations. On December 6 they reported nothing about the Moscow front. On December 7 occurred the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Promptly on the morning of December 8 Berlin issued a statement -- enlarged the following day -- to the effect that no strategical movements, but only local actions of purely tactical significance for the rectification of the line, were to be expected. The German report for that day, as quoted in London, contained these significant expressions: "In some places positions are being occupied which will make defense in the winter easier. Where far advanced units of certain attack wedges are in unfavorable positions for the winter, these positions are now being brought back to a certain line."
On the southern front, meanwhile, General Kleist's Army had suffered a setback north of Rostov on November 20. Kleist nevertheless took that city four days later, and on November 26 the Germans reported heavy fighting continuing there. Russian counter-attacks were repulsed, according to German reports, on November 27. The Russian reports of General Demidov's recapture of Rostov on November 29 stated significantly that "it was cavalrymen who first returned to the city, moving hard on the heels of retreating Germans"; and further, that street fighting continued for two days, and that thin ice on the river "slowed up" the "Russian advance." The Germans reported that "German troops of occupation at Rostov have evacuated the center of the town, in accordance with orders, so that the necessary measures of reprisal may be taken against the population, who have illegally taken part in the battle in the rear of the German Army." On November 30 the Russians reported an attack on Taganrog, further west; but of this there has been no further mention in official Russian sources.
On December 3, the day before the general withdrawal from Moscow began, Goebbels suddenly changed his tune. He said: "The Caucasus is not so important as Moscow." But he added, with typical cynicism: "German news policy is a first-class weapon. For instance, during the battle of Flanders the press was given information that was contrary to fact, and the enemy fell into the trap and paid dearly." These words at that precise hour are more significant than the other considerations which point to the same conclusion. There was no plan for, and no possibility of, an advance against Astrakhan or the Caucasus.
The best and shortest line for German defense in the southern arena through the winter was from Taganrog northwest through Slavyansk to Kharkov and Kursk. This left in German hands the coal production of the Donets basin, with the exception of two mines producing 1,400 tons a day, and the major part of the armament industry of the Ukraine. In addition, it provided ample winter quarters for the troops and left the Russians with only one north-and-south railway connection west of the Ural Mountains.
The German Army was exhausted and lacked fuel for its mechanized forces. It could not advance further. But its feats in the south as well as before Moscow had not merely used up its own resources; they had achieved a political purpose -- not as near the heart of the German General Staff, perhaps, as Hitler's -- the transfer of Russian reserves from the Far East. This permitted Japan to enter the war without being seriously hampered by fear of Russia. Having succeeded in this, Hitler may have been convinced that he had won the war. Following his "inner voice," he put himself definitely -- although only formally -- in the place of Brauchitsch, who may have been glad to be relieved of the responsibility for military operations dictated solely by tactical political considerations.
To achieve Hitler's political purposes, as here indicated, the German Army had to assume grave risks with regard to the weather and had to make heavy payment in losses. The Russian report of 130,000 German officers and men killed in the drive against Moscow, from the beginning until the Germans took up their final defensive positions, may not be much exaggerated. But it is strange that the Russians do not stress the number of German prisoners, but only the captured matériel. This confirms two assumptions. The drive against Moscow was a demonstration for political purposes. The withdrawal of large masses of troops began when tank divisions north and south of Moscow -- especially the latter -- were still pressing forward. Rear-guard actions were fought by comparatively small forces. The whole vast retreat, involving thirteen tank divisions and about a million men, probably began about the third week of November. Control over its schedule was never lost.
A close study of the official communiqués of the two armies reveals the tactics pursued by the Germans during their retreat and in their winter defensive operations, and corroborates to some extent the reasons assumed above for the assault on Moscow.
In the conditions prevailing, the task of withdrawing a million men and thirteen tank divisions a distance varying from 100 to 220 miles was truly formidable. The weather was most unfavorable and there were very few roads. In such circumstances, the effort to move tanks and heavy guns on tractors must have been costly; the troops, who were not clothed for a winter campaign, must have suffered severely; and the strain on the general staff and other officers must have been terrific. No wonder the health of many of the high commanders broke down. The fact is that the whole attack on Moscow was a dangerous political gamble, hardly to the taste of military experts. Probably it would never have been attempted if the Russian forces in and around Moscow, though numerically stronger than their attackers, had not been known to be poorly equipped and to be able to muster little striking force outside the capital's own fortifications.
All this adds to the plausibility of the thesis that while the German wings were still advancing many divisions already had begun marching in the other direction. If the retreat was to be executed safely, as planned, any pursuit by the fairly strong Russian forces north of Moscow would have to be checked long enough to enable the most advanced German southern wing to get back at least in line with the most advanced German central position. The comparatively strong mechanized German army northwest of Moscow, already mentioned, protected the withdrawal of the very strong northern wing, which had advanced as far as the Moscow-Volga Canal; it also covered the line of the German center until the two wings had withdrawn sufficiently far. Therefore it was only this northwestern mechanized army which was reported as still attacking on December 6 -- smashing at the pivot of the Russian front -- when the mass of the German Army already was in retreat.
The withdrawal of German divisions from a small wedge which had cut the Moscow-Tula railway was first reported by the Russians on December 8. Four days later the Russians occupied Yakhroma, the furthest point reached by the German northern wing. A fortnight later the tank groups furthest south were still at Volovo, southeast of Tula. Petrovsk, a small place east of Volokolamsk, was taken at the same time -- the first indication of any rearward movement in the German center. On December 23 the German line ran fairly straight, north-and-south, not more than five or ten miles behind the most advanced positions in the German center of a fortnight earlier. Two days later the evacuation of Volokolamsk was reported. This indicated that the Russian advance in the center had totalled 35 miles in 20 days. Six days later the Germans abandoned their positions west of Volokolamsk. Only Rzhev was left as a strong point to guard the northern wing; while the whole German central army had already arrived west of Smolensk. A day later, on January 7, the Russians reported the capture of Nelidovo, on the railway west of Rzhev. Between Velikie Luki and Moscow no German troops now remained. In fact, the bulk of Bock's Army had withdrawn in four weeks to winter quarters either in the Baltic countries, not far from where they had started their offensive in June, or in White Russia west of Bryansk.
A small number of divisions were left to hold certain strong points -- Staraya Russa, Kholm and Velikie Luki, all on the Lovat River, which runs north into Lake Peipus, and Velizh (northwest of Smolensk), all of these protected on the flank and rear by swamps; Bely (north of Smolensk), Rzhev, Gjatsk (east of Vyazma), Bolkhov (northwest of Orel), Mtsensk (northeast of Orel), and Kursk (at the junction with the army in the Ukraine). The only strong point evacuated, after nearly ten weeks of siege, was Mozhaisk. North of a line slightly south of the railway from Rzhev to Velikie Luki and west of a line from that point to Staraya Russa no German troops were left. They had retreated to the Leningrad railway, leaving as an insuperable obstacle to the Russians an enormous area of swamp and forest and lakes, protected by the strong points mentioned.[x] All these strong points were railway and road junctions. Only one vital junction, Sukhinichi, where the railway from Moscow to Bryansk crosses that from Smolensk to the east, seems to have been left unprotected. Whether this was with certain future operations in view, or whether it simply was evacuated too soon, cannot be determined from the published reports.
Behind these strong points some divisions were left in reserve to prevent the infiltration of Russian forces in too great numbers. Most of the troops so stationed, like the divisions left in strong points, had not participated in the battles of the summer and fall, and had mostly belonged to armies of occupation in other European countries. In fact, of the 51 German divisions specifically mentioned in Russian reports as participating in the assault on Moscow, only seven have been mentioned in later engagements.
Several important conclusions can be drawn from these facts and figures. The Russians were too weak to disturb the German withdrawal to any significant degree. They followed the retreating Germans but did not pursue them. Undoubtedly they were able to force those German troops which were not far away in winter quarters to undergo great hardships; and they also captured a certain amount of heavy matériel. But they were not able to conquer any strong point that the Germans chose to keep. The German General Staff must have been convinced that their opponents no longer were in a position to advance or to attack in force during the winter. Their own troops of course held the vital points; and they knew that the Russians would not find it any easier than they would themselves to solve the problem of supply in the midst of the Russian winter. The Russians, in fact, were unable to bring supplies or support up by rail to their most advanced positions, beyond the German strong points, either in the north or in the Ukraine. There was one exception to this general situation: the open gap between Vyazma and Bryansk permitted the Russians to use the Moscow-Bryansk railway to Sukhinichi and the railway thence to Smolensk.
In the north Leeb had evacuated his most advanced positions east of the River Volkov early in January. He seems to have held Novgorod, on the Volkov, and Staraya Russa, further south, in spite of very heavy pressure and complete encirclement for twelve weeks by the Russians. These could exert pressure there because of good rail and road connections with Moscow. Sensational unofficial reports of the "capture" of a whole German army in this neighborhood quickly evaporated.
The method of defense used by the Germans through the winter must have surprised many military experts. It was indeed audacious to retire the bulk of the army so far, leaving only weak forces at a few strong points, sometimes as far as 200 miles beyond the winter quarters. The method would of course have been impracticable in central or western Europe, which lack the immense forests and swamps of Russia, which have dense networks of railways and roads, and where the climate is milder. It would have been less successful in Russia if the Russians had not been exhausted and in need of time to reorganize the remainder of their forces. When the Germans boasted of Russian losses in this winter fighting, the Russians angrily but correctly retorted that in the raids of the past four months relatively weak forces had been employed. Anything else would have been suicidal. Their task for the winter was to build up, with the help of equipment coming from their allies, a new army with striking power.
The system of defense used by the Germans, first in their retreat and then in the maintenance of widely separated strong points, was based on experiences in the latter part of the First World War. The Russian report of the defense of Klin, on the railway from Moscow to Kalinin, must have indicated to many combatants of that war, and to anyone who had happened to read German publications of that time, that the highly successful tactic of using special machine gun squadrons for the defense of isolated vital points had been revived. When the German reports became more expansive, making references to the "hedgehog system" and to the feats of "sharpshooters" in the Crimea in face of heavy Russian tank attacks, it was evident that there had been a further development of the same method of resistance which had prevented catastrophic German defeats in Flanders and at Cambrai in 1917 as well as on many occasions during the retreat in the summer of 1918.
Unfortunately, histories of these machine-gun squadrons, which were special General Headquarters formations, either are poorly written or are not available in this country. As far as can be gathered, they were tentatively established in small detachments y General von Falkenhayn. As soon as Ludendorff came to the Western Front he organized 60 so-called Machine-Gun Sharpshooter Squadrons, each consisting of three companies. They were composed of élite officers and men, and they had authority to reject anyone who in battle failed to maintain their own high standards. They were loaned to whatever armies were under greatest pressure, for rapid placement wherever break-throughs threatened or had already occurred. In the last phase of the war they usually were transported by motor trucks and were supplied with additional armament of anti-tank rifles. They were especially trained to combat tanks and low-flying planes which machine-gunned or dropped light bombs on light artillery and infantry -- the "dive bombers" of that date. Normally they were not used in the first line but in depth defense from 400 to 6,000 yards behind the first line. They covered the retreat into the Hindenburg Line in January 1917. They were the only German troops allowed complete fluidity, and could change their positions indefinitely within specified areas without permission from divisional or brigade commanders. This revolutionary departure from tradition seems to have caused such commanders to look on them with suspicion. But the young General Staff officers of that time -- the same men who now command the German Army -- doubtless observed with interest that these formations developed, on their own, a new tactic of defense. These officers now have employed that tactic on a large scale and scientifically in the winter in Russia.
It was not due to any special circumstances that in the last war a single one of these squadrons of 300 men, with one or two light cannon, sometimes held a village against the repeated attacks of several divisions, accompanied by tanks, for days after it had been entirely surrounded. In October 1917, in spite of having no infantry or artillery, and with no reserves behind them, they stopped Haig's big assault between Poelcappelle and Pashendaele. In this hour of the greatest danger, Ludendorff, much against his will, decided to sacrifice them. They were ordered to stand to the last man -- even after the infantry had retreated and artillery had been abandoned -- like islands breaking the waves of the mass attacks. To Ludendorff's surprise, they succeeded without too great losses. So in August 1918 they were sent, without any initial support, into the areas of break-through where no other German troops remained. They would be ordered to form a "hedgehog" around a village and defend it until they received a written order by the army corps commander to withdraw. They were extremely successful. Due solely to their skill and bravery, the German army commanders were able after each breakthrough to reform their lines some miles behind the isolated points of resistance.
It is of the utmost importance fully to appreciate this whole evolution in defense tactics. Where climatic and topographic conditions do not permit great strategical break-throughs and pincer movements, defense may again become superior to attack by mechanized weapons. The tactics of defense may undergo great changes, with important consequences for the final outcome of the war. This has been a revelation of the winter campaign in Russia.[xi]
The weakness of this German tactic of defense in the last war lay in the difficulty of supplying troops in isolated strong points. Supply from the air has now overcome this difficulty, not simply for small forces, but even for whole divisions or army corps; and the latter -- as at Rzhev and Staraya Russa -- have thus been enabled to adopt the same tactic. It can be surmised that the strong points in Russia were fortified weeks in advance and supplied with food and ammunition for months ahead. They may very well have been supplied with a new type of anti-tank gun as well.[xii] The strategical success of the German system of withdrawal and use of strong points has been that it enabled the Germans to maintain contact with the Russians. They lured the Russians far from their supply bases, while themselves remaining as near as possible to their own. It would be much easier for the German Army to crush Russian resistance definitely once the remaining Russian armies advanced against the strong points and into the open mouse-traps between. This is true not only in the north, but especially in the Ukraine. Runstedt's army chose its winter positions with this in view. It would be difficult to open a spring offensive from Rostov and the bend of the Don. But having retreated to the line Taganrog-Slavyansk, the Germans had every chance to make pincer movements to the north and east in the spring. It will also be interesting to watch what happens further north, at the Sukhinichi gap. But the element of surprise can no longer be as effective in this spring's German offensive as it was in May 1940 or June 1941. An able Chief of Staff such as the Russians now have, a former Tsarist officer, should be able from close contact with the Germans to guess their possible lines of attack and to prepare counter-thrusts.
The skill, endurance and heroism of both the German troops in the strong points and the Russian troops who infiltrated between them and lived for weeks in the severest cold in half ruined huts or hastily built block-houses were extraordinary and admirable. Such tactics on either side would have been impossible, of course, without airplanes for supply and the radio for communication. It is beyond our imagination to picture what they meant in the frozen swamps around Staraya Russa, on the edges of impenetrable forests, or on the tundra-like open spaces, where hardly a noise was to be heard except the light whisper of falling snow, the cracking of trees under the cold, or the whipping by of the wind. Officers and men constantly had to struggle against the temptation to fall asleep outdoors under the combined effects of cold, snow and fatigue. If attacks were made, they were possible only over frozen snow or on skis. A wounded man could hardly ever be saved. On neither side did the soldiers know when they would be in contact again with their main armies.
There are two explanations for the fact that the success of the Russian pursuit fell short of expectations raised by the press. First of all, modern technical invention permitted the Germans to enlarge to an unprecedented scale the normal form of protection for stationary divisions evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They extended this protection more than 200 miles in depth, whereas even in Russia during the last war advanced guards were hardly ever posted more than five or ten miles from their main forces. Thus one can call the forces scattered at isolated strong points over a distance of 2,000 miles, perhaps amounting altogether to 40 divisions, the "pickets" of the main German Army, which had retired safely to winter quarters.
The second explanation is that the possibilities of pursuit are commonly exaggerated. General Wavell has given an evaluation of the difficulties of pursuit in his book on Allenby. A few sentences from it may be quoted here:
To the uninitiated pursuit seems the easiest possible form of war. To chase a flying, presumably demoralized enemy must be a simple matter, promising much gain at the expense of some exertion and hardship, but little danger. Yet the successful or sustained pursuits of history have been few, the escapes from a lost battle many.[xiii]
These are the words of a man equal to Clausewitz in courage and modesty, akin to him in genius, and superior in style.
What has been the cost to both sides in the campaigns so far? Any forecast of the war's future progress is contingent on the size of the losses and the possibilities of replacement. Close study of the day-to-day reports of the Russian and German Headquarters makes clear that the number of officers and men killed cannot possibly equal the figures published by credulous reporters and writers in the past few months.
Comparisons between losses in this war and in the last can easily be misleading. One unofficial German estimate arrives at a figure for the number of Russians killed this time by adopting the ratio between the numbers killed and taken prisoner in the whole period of the last war. That is obviously inexact. Comparisons could in any case be made only between offensive or defensive phases of the last war and similar phases of this. On the average, there are fewer casualties in defensive than in offensive actions. Even so, comparisons are more or less worthless. The tactics of modern mechanized warfare are too different from those of the last war (at least up till August 1918). One fact, however, seems incontestable. The number of Russians taken prisoner must be extremely high, and that of Germans taken prisoner must be extremely low. None of the reports from Russian Headquarters has made any attempt to deny this. Whether the German figures of the number of Russians taken prisoner are correct or not, nobody, of course, can prove. But the likelihood is that the total must be well above 3,000,000, including, of course, prisoners wounded.
The strategy of break-through and encirclement by large tank and motorized divisions follows a now familiar pattern. The weak spot in the enemy's line is felt out; the mass of tanks is concentrated at that spot; they break through; and finally they fan out behind the line, destroying rear communications and pushing the enemy forces closer and closer together in a small area. When a large army is encircled in this way, it is only a question of days until it runs short of food and ammunition. Also, enemy bombers will now be enabled to attack from all sides, destroying airdromes and making reconnaissance utterly impossible. Up to this point, unless they have been called upon to take strongly fortified positions, the attacking tank and motorized divisions cannot have suffered heavy losses.[xiv] There ensues a second phase. The encircled enemy divisions must be sawn through by new tank attacks, which destroy their communications, make it impossible for individual commanders to carry out orders, and break morale. Infantry divisions meanwhile close up, narrowing the ring around the encircled mass.
One must have all this in mind when one compares casualties in this war and in the last. At Verdun and in Flanders, of course, the tactics were very different. There frontal attacks were made along a front of 25 miles or more. Each division held only a small section of the front line, sometimes as little as 800 or 1,200 yards. Strong consideration was given to defense in depth. Dents were made in the enemy front line in close fighting. The artillery knew the exact range for each successive position, and inflicted heavy losses; and the fire of the machine guns at close range was also very deadly. In consequence of all this, the number of killed and wounded was very high and the number of prisoners relatively low. That is the difference between the results of a tactical break-through and of a big strategical break-through. Except in the latter half of 1918, the strategy of break-through and encirclement always failed on the Western Front. In consequence, the ratio of those killed to those taken prisoner was entirely different from what it must be in the present war.
This reduces any estimate of the losses in the war in Russia to a mere guess. According to unofficial German reports, as mentioned above, Russian losses in killed, wounded and prisoners would have reached 6,000,000 by the time the assault on Moscow started. On December 1 the Germans reported a total of 3,800,000 Russian prisoners. It can be assumed that the Russians saved the majority of their wounded in the far north and in Leningrad during the period of siege, though not, of course, in the big battles of encirclement. They also may have been able to evacuate their wounded from Kiev, Odessa, Nikolaev and the Donets basin, as well as most of those in the Crimea. We can go so far as to estimate the wounded saved by the Russians, and not included among the Russians taken prisoner, at 400,000. If we accepted the German figure of total Russian losses of 6,000,000 we should have to conclude that by the beginning of December 1,800,000 Russians had been killed.
In every war the number of Russian soldiers killed has been extremely high in proportion to the losses of their enemies. But the discrepancy between the figure of 1,800,000 Russian dead and that of 162,000 German dead up to December 1 is so great that both figures must be dismissed as unreliable. When we have made every allowance for the Russian tradition to fight on stubbornly long after orders no longer are clear, and for the devastating attacks by low-flying German airplanes on the chaotic mass of an encircled army, we still cannot accept such a disproportion. Either the number of German killed must have been higher or the number of Russian killed must have been lower. German losses in killed during the withdrawal from Moscow will certainly have been higher than the Russian. Since that time, in spite of the boasting of both sides, the numbers killed must have been relatively low, though the likelihood is that Russian losses have exceeded the German.
The losses among trained officers on both sides, and the losses in both air fleets, must have been enormous. Since such losses are difficult to replace they will have a deteriorating effect in both armies. We can deduce that Russian losses in tanks, airplanes and other equipment were several times as high as the German from the fact that large Russian armies were encircled and annihilated. German losses in equipment may have been made good in the meanwhile. A recent article in the London Times mentions that the number of German tank divisions in Russia had increased to twenty-one.
The German armies of occupation in Russia can be replaced by other Axis troops. One should not exaggerate the number of troops so required, since the Russian armies carried most of the civilian population with them in their retreat. On the other hand, Germany must keep a relatively large number of divisions in France, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway to meet the possible threat of an attempted invasion. In addition, an increasing number of semi-military guards are needed in Germany to control prisoners' camps and the masses of imported foreign workmen. One recent report makes it appear that even the S.A. have in large part been pressed into the military and semi-military forces.
Germany has been taking extraordinary measures to concentrate more and more of her armament production in large plants possessing the most modern techniques of mass production and to close down the smaller firms. Also, all the women available are being used in factories. Together, these two steps will probably permit Germany not only to make up quantitatively for the German Army's losses in manpower in Russia, heavy as they may have been, but also to improve its equipment to some extent. But the quantitative optimum, as regards men and machinery, will be reached at the end of this year. And qualitatively, especially as regards trained officers, there already must be a rather serious deterioration.
Russia, on the other hand, has unlimited reserves of manpower, but she will suffer much more seriously from the inability to replace losses in trained officers and aviators and in equipment. Having lost the major part of her armament industry, and of her coal and iron production, she will be in dire difficulties even with the assistance of her allies, who simultaneously have to arm themselves and who suffer from the disadvantage of very extended supply lines. From this standpoint the occupation of the Ukraine represents an enormous German success. It means that the food supply of unoccupied Russia will diminish seriously in the fall, while that of Germany and her allies will improve. But Germany's armament production can hardly be maintained at its present level in 1943, while in that year American production will reach its peak. Nor will Germany be able to replace this year's losses in manpower if they are as serious as last year's.
In mechanized warfare everything depends on the synchronization of strategical action and maximum production. It would be very difficult for the United Nations to make good the loss of valuable months if the two factors got out of gear. For Germany and Italy it would be almost impossible. The development of the technique of mechanized warfare accordingly leads to the constant narrowing of the influence of even great strategical imagination. The arithmetic of the production schedule gains at the expense of military genius. That is why ten years ago, when there was still a chance that the preparations for total technical warfare might be stopped, generals of many nations struggled in vain against the military technicians. In the present phase of the war, when the whole world has been geared to produce arms, there is little possibility that a suitable balance in the military situation will lead, as in former wars, to peace negotiations. The very momentum of the industrial war effort, when it reaches its peak, drives nations either to struggle for total victory or to sustain a long war of attrition. It is for this reason that every nation is exerting its utmost effort in this fateful year.
Month by month the German generals must take the threat of an attempt at the invasion of the European Continent increasingly into account, even if the attempt does not amount to more than sporadic actions aimed at exciting riots in the occupied countries. They therefore must deal a decisive blow this year to the positions of their foes either in Russia and the Near East or in the British Isles. The success of a large invasion by sea is always uncertain if the defenders are fully prepared. Even a slight hitch or setback in it can lead to immediate and permanent reverses. This is equally true for all the present belligerents. The statement stands in spite of the Japanese successes, for these were secured by means of surprise attacks which temporarily upset prearranged schedules of defense in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The Germans cannot stay where they are in Russia indefinitely, whether or not they have to reckon with a serious British attempt to open a second front on the European Continent. If they cannot negotiate a separate peace they must face the same eternal problem of space in Russia that beset Napoleon. They must either retire to the shortest line from the Baltic to the Dniester, or they must advance so far into Russia that it becomes impossible for her to recover. But it is their fate that not even such an ultimate success in Russia would in itself be sufficient. If they decide to strike to the east, they must take the Caucasus and threaten the Allied position in the Near East this year. Whether their first main attack is concentrated on Moscow and the Caucasus or on Leningrad and the Caucasus may be clear by the time these words appear in print. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: in order to meet the adverse factors threatening them next year, including the menace of increasing damage from air attack, they must before then deal a blow to the British position either in the Near East or in the British Isles themselves. Otherwise they will lose the strategical initiative, and it is this initiative which has been largely responsible for their successes so far.
[i] "Russia and Germany: Political and Military Reflections," by X, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, January 1942.
[ii] The Stockholm correspondent of the London Times, April 4, 1942, commenting on a detailed German claim of Russian losses, writes: "Such exactitude immediately after a battle of such magnitude would be remarkable at any time; in present conditions, with bodies sunk in mud, ditches, pools, streams, and still unmelted snow, it is most astonishing."
[iii] Cf. "German Strategy: 1914 and 1940," by X, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, April 1941.
[iv] Clausewitz, "La Campagne de 1812 en Russie," edited by M. Bégouën, Capitaine Commandant Brevete d'Etat-Major, Paris, 1900, p. 22.
[v] This is possibly why Gneisenau, with his lifelong craving for offensive action, left Russia in order to fight against Napoleon with the British. Clausewitz generously stresses the importance of other reasons for Gneisenau's departure.
[vi] "La Campagne de 1812 en Russie," p. 32.
[vii] "Memoirs du General de Caulaincourt." Paris: Librairie Plon, 1936, v. II, p. 66 (American edition, "No Peace with Napoleon." New York: Morrow, 1936).
[viii] Ibid., p. 86-87.
[ix] These divisions, far in the rear of the advancing tank armies, had been taken in part from Serbia and Poland. Possibly they were those destined later in the winter to defend chosen strong points. The Ninth Army Corps, at least, which the Russians reported west of Moscow opposite their center, was afterwards allotted the defense of Mozhaisk and Gjatsk.
[x] The Germans were able to take this great risk because they held the Drissa position, the importance of which has already been described.
[xi] One can imagine with what pride German General Headquarters reported on April 10 that two corporals had put 11 Russian tanks out of action with anti-tank guns at close range in a single encounter, and in March that in 11 days one isolated division had destroyed 162 Russian tanks.
[xii] In the London Times of April 6, 1942, the author of a very interesting study about the Libyan campaign, in which the same method has been employed by the Germans, reaches the conclusion that most of the losses in tanks on both sides were due to ground anti-tank guns, especially the new German 105 millimeter gun with a tapered barrel.
[xiii] "Allenby: A Study in Greatness," London, 1940, p. 217. See also p. 133.
[xiv] Of course, tank attacks against strong permanent fortifications like those opposite Kiev, around Moscow, and, especially, in the bunker area of Leningrad, must entail heavy losses for the attackers.