November 01, 2001

Moscow Knights

German General Headquarters had worked out their plan for the final offensive on Moscow during their successful battle near Kiev, in late September 1941. Dubbed “Typhoon,” the operation was to include 77 army divisions, including 8 motorized and 14 tank divisions, which would sweep through Soviet defenses like a typhoon, the seemingly unstoppable German forces taking Moscow before winter set in. To prepare the offensive against the Russian capital, the Germans unfolded their forces from Kursk in the South to Kalinin in the North. They faced the defense of the Western, Reserve and Bryansk fronts under the respective commanders Ivan Konev, Semyon Budyonny and Alexander Yeremenko.

A month earlier, during the hubris of the early successes of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler had told Goebels that Moscow will be “erased from the face of the earth as the center of Bolshevik resistance.” Special equipment was being prepared to inundate the city and create a gigantic lake on its site. From among the 4th German Army a “special team” within the Einzatsgruppen SS “B” was to become the police force of Moscow and take control of a fallen Moscow. Several German units had already been distributed special uniforms for a future parade in the Russian capital (notably, however, just one-third of German forces had clothing for winter, as the high command expected the war to be over by then and two-thirds of the German army to be returned to the rear).

German intelligence on Russian capabilities was virtually non-existent prior to the war. And Hitler, overconfident from his easy victory in France, brooked no doubts about German invincibility. When Croatian Defense Minister Kvaternik asserted that the USSR could create new divisions behind the Urals, the Führer just laughed.

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