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> 37. Operation "Blue"
Posted: March 31, 2004 03:55 pm
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by Nicolae Ciobanu

The first great defeat of the Wehrmacht in the front of Moscow, in 1941, has driven the German Command to the conclusion that the "Blitzkrieg" had come to a failure and that they must prepare for a long war against the Soviet Union so, in the summer of 1942, Hitler decided to direct the military effort to the conquest of the oil region of the Soviet State - the Caucasus - thus assuring the needful oil supplies for his troops, with the view to carry a long-term war.

If in 1941 the German forces had directed their efforts to Warsaw-Moscow, in the summer of 1942, the German Command's campaign plan purposed an ample offensive in the Caucasus, for taking the oil zones (Groznyi and Baku).

With the view to fulfil this objective, the Armies Groups "A" and "B" started their movement. The Army Group "A" (41 divisions and 900 tanks, backed by a powerful air fleet, which had about 1,400 aircrafts at their disposal) directed the main effort towards Rostov-Groznyi-Baku. The Army Group "B" (30 divisions, with roughly 800 tanks, 3,500 artillery weapons, supported by the 4th Air Fleet - which had at their disposal about 1,200 fighters) planned the offensive on the main direction Kursk-Stalingrad (today's Volgograd), with the view to conquer the big city on the move; after that, its forces were to carry on the offensive along the Volga river towards Astrahan, for paralysing the inland navigation on the big river and to cut the communications lines of the Soviet forces. The left flank of the Army Group "B" was "covered" with the defensive positions organized on the south-western bank of the Don river. The 6th German Army started its offensive towards Stalingrad with the main spearhead on the direction Harkov-Stalingrad.

As the analyses of the disposition of the troops shows, one can clearly observe that the main effort, within the framework of the "summer offensive" in 1942, was to be sustained by the Army Group "A". To the direction Stalingrad (which was considered as secondary) acted, initially, a single army (the 6th German Army). On the way, the situation changed so much that this direction became - as the German ofensive was developing more and more - the main one. This fact has determined, during the 1942's summer, the shifting of new important forces on the mentioned direction, among them the 4th Armoured Army (of the Army Group "A"), then the 3rd and the 4th Romanian Armies and other special units and big units.

At the same time with the efforts carried on the southern flank of the German-Soviet front, the German Command didn't give up the offensive for conquering Leningrad (today's St.Petersburg) in the summer of 1942, when their forces joined hands with the "Finnish Army".

The Soviet Command did not perceived, initially, what were the plans and the intentions of the German Command for the summer of 1942, considering that the German forces will again direct their efforts towards Moscow. That's why in the area of Moscow a great deal of forces and means were disposed. Only later, on July 17, 1942, when the Army Group "B" started the "Blue Operation" (this was the code name of the operation for the conquest of Stalingrad), the Supreme Soviet Command put up strong military measures for defending the big city on the Volga river.

This way, the "Stalingrad Operation" became one of the greatest military operations of the World War II. It was performed between July 17, 1942 - February 2, 1943 and it comprised two distinct phases: the first (July 17 - November 18) - the offensive operation of the German troops, together with their allies (the "Blue Operations"); the second (November 19 - February 2, 1943) - which had the code name "Uran" consisted in the Soviet counteroffensive, that was to become after, an ample offensive on the entire line of the front, in the centre and in the southern area of German-Soviet disposition, thus having important consequences for the course of the events in the World War II.

The Romanian troops took part in the military actions in the second half of 1942 and in the first part of 1943. In the area of Stalingrad were disposed the 3rd Romanian Army (commander: General Petre Dumitrescu), formed of 11 divisions (8 infantry divisions, 2 cavalry divisions and 1 armoured division), in a large strip of action, disposed on the left side of the 6th German Army, in the zone of Don River's Bend, and the 4th Romanian Army (commander: General Constantin Constantinescu-Claps), totalizing 7 divisions (5 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry divisions) that acted on the right flank of the 4th German Armoured Army, in the Kalmuk Steppe.

In the area of Kuban and in Caucasus there were also 4 infantry division and 2 cavalry divisions; in Crimea there were in action other 2 mountain divisions. Totally, the Romanian Army took part with 26 divisions in these great battles.

The action of the Romanian troops were carried out in accordance with German Command's general conception. They fought in extremely diffcult conditions, mainly because of certain shortcomings (the lack of antitank cannons, of heavy artillery, of ammunition).

The general development of the "Stalingrad Operation", that has as a result a heavy defeat of the German troops and of their allies, was to be a very important event, which has affected the following course of the military operations on the German-Soviet front, in the general framework of the World War II. The results of this operation, together with the successes achieved by the United Nations Coalition's forces (the Anglo-American ones) in the Midway Battle and in the E1-Alamein Battle, during the summer of the same year, have marked the beginning of the "turning point" in the history of the World War II.
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