The results of the first period of the war, which revealed the beginning of the transition from the blitzkrieg tactics to the strategic confrontation, confirmed the Moscow battle that soon flared up (September 30 - April 20, 1942). The initial successes of the Wehrmacht, including the encirclement of the five armies in the Vyazma region, created the threat of a breakthrough to Moscow through Maloyaroslavets, and later in other places.
The defeat of the Soviet troops in the initial period of the Moscow battle was due to the superiority of the enemy forces, which concentrated here three tank groups, as well as the scattered actions of the Western (I. Konev), Reserve (S. Budyonny) and Bryanskogo (A. Eremenko) fronts. Tank wedges of the enemy opened the defenses of the Soviet fronts on September 30 at the Bryansk and October 2 at the Vyazma directions; at the same time, the Soviet units, while continuing to hold unattacked positions, soon found themselves in the ring. Attempts to retreat to the new positions were undertaken with the support of the building and, therefore, did not allow to stabilize the front, which was rapidly rolling back to the east.
On October 12, the Germans captured Kaluga, 14th Kalinin. Under these conditions, the front was reorganized by G. K. Zhukov, called from Leningrad. To improve troop control, the Western and Reserve Fronts were united on October 10 into the Western Front under the command of Zhukov, and on October 17, the Kalininsky Front, headed by Konev, was created on the basis of the troops of the right wing of the Western Front. Since October 20, Moscow has been under siege, in a matter of urgency, the existing reserves were transferred here. The German offensive, through Kalinin, on Moscow was halted, and the advance of Guderian’s tank group south of Moscow through Tula stalled at the approaches to this city. The main role in the suspension of the German offensive was played by the reserves of Stakes and units of the Moscow militia.
The stubborn resistance of the Soviet troops led to the regrouping of the German troops and the resumption of their offensive on Moscow only on November 15-18, 1941. Major generals I. V. Panfilova, A. P. Beloborodova, L. M. Dovator had stubborn resistance to the enemy. , Colonel M. Ye. Katukova. Up to December 1941, the Germans were slowly but steadily moving towards Moscow, at the same time having in front of them an increasing number of Soviet troops being deployed and carrying huge losses. During the second stage of the offensive from November 16 to December 5, 1941, the Germans lost over 155 thousand killed and wounded, about 800 tanks, 300 guns and mortars, 1.5 thousand aircraft.
On December 5, 1941, a successful counter-offensive of the Soviet troops began, ending the German plans to seize Moscow and marking the beginning of the transition of the war to a new phase of the parties' strategic confrontation. The first to launch the offensive part of the Kalinin Front, liberated Kalinin on December 16. On December 6, 1941, the forces of the Western Front, which had liberated Yelets (December 9) and Klin (December 15) during the weekly battles, launched an offensive. The South-Western Front opened the military actions on December 7th. In parallel, the Tikhvin offensive operation successfully developed on the Volkhov front (KA Meretskov) (November 10 - December 30, 1941). December 9 Tikhvin was released. Pereshli in the counteroffensive of the Red Army and on the Kerch direction. December 30, 1941 the city of Kerch became Soviet.
In an effort to reverse the situation, on December 8, Hitler gives Directive No. 39 on the transition to defense in all sectors of the front, and on December 19, he assumes command of the land forces of the Wehrmacht, Brauchitsch’s command. In December and January, 35 generals were dismissed, including Rundstedt, Bock, Leeb, Guderian, and other well-known commanders. For desertion, fascist military field courts sentenced 62,000 soldiers and officers to various types of punishments. Tough measures allowed to prevent the catastrophic development of events for the German army and to stabilize the front on the line Velikie Luki-Bryansk-Kirov-r by March 1941. Oka.
From the results of the 1941 campaign, the leaders of the opposing sides drew various conclusions. The Soviet command, and above all Stalin, based the results of the Moscow battle on the basis of the organization of the offensive of the Soviet troops along the entire front line Leningrad-Demyansk-Vyazma-Kharkov-Crimea (Directive April 8, 1942). At the same time, the active operations of the Wehrmacht were envisaged only in the direction of Moscow, which was a gross miscalculation, since the German forces concentrated in the southeast, and not in the central direction.
In April-October 1942, the Soviet troops suffered a series of serious defeats. During the Luban operation, the 2nd attack army of the Volkhov front, commanded by A. A. Vlasov, who, after his capture on July 13, 1942, began to cooperate with the Germans, was surrounded and destroyed under the Leningra-house. In total, around 60 thousand people died and went missing in the area of Myasniy Bor. The Red Army suffered a major defeat during the Rzhev-Vyazma insurgent operation (January 8 - April 20). It was not possible to surround the German units under Vyazma; moreover, the 33rd Army of General Efremov, the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps of Belarus and the airborne units abandoned to the rear of the enemy were surrounded. Soviet losses amounted to 272 thousand people. The spring offensive in the Crimea and near Kharkov turned out to be unsuccessful. Large formations, up to 200 thousand fighters, were surrounded in the Kharkiv region due to the unsuccessfully conducted offensive operation. On July 4, 1942, after eight months of resistance, Sevasto-pol fell (during the occupation, 27 thousand people were killed in the city, and 42 thousand were taken to Germany). Two days earlier, on July 2, 1942, Soviet defense was broken through at the junction of the Bryansk and Southwestern fronts, and on July 24, Soviet troops left Rostov-on-Don (casualties among the peaceful population were about 40 thousand inhabitants). 53 thousand people were hijacked).
Under these conditions, on July 28, 1942, the State Defense Committee issued Order No. 227 "Not one step back!", Aimed at restoring military discipline, primarily with punitive measures. Soviet troops moved to a fierce defense in the Caucasus and the Stalingrad sector. The concentration of parts of the Red Army and the reserves mainly in one Stalingrad sector and scattering the efforts of the German forces created the prerequisites for changing the course of the war. This was facilitated by the militarization of the Soviet economy that ended by the end of 1942, including the introduction of new and evacuated factories in the east of the country. A significant role was also played by the unfolding popular partisan movement, which chained up to 10% of the Wehrmacht troops to itself.
The battle of Stalingrad that began (July 17 - November 18 - defensive, November 19, 1942 - February 2, 1943 - an offensive operation) revealed a temporary military parity of the parties, and as military action was delayed, a gradual increase in the superiority of the Soviet troops fights for the city. On July 17, 1942, German troops of General Paulus faced serious resistance from the 62nd Soviet Army in the bend of the Don. It was one of three armies taken from the reserves of the High Command and aimed at strengthening the Stalingrad sector. The advancing German troops here were opposed by the forces of the Stalin-Grad Front, created on July 12 (Commander S. K. Tymoshenko, from July 23 - V. N. Gordov). Army Group Yug, which had launched an offensive in two divergent directions since July 7, was forced on July 31 to return from the Caucasus the 4th Tank Army of Goth transferred there earlier. In August 1942, the 4th Panzer Army of the Anti-Tivnik attempted to capture the city from the south-west. For the defense of this direction, on August 7, 1942, the South-Eastern Front (A.I. Eremenko) was separated from the Stalingrad Front. By August 17, the offensive of the German units in this direction was suspended, but on August 23, the enemy managed to break through the front and reach the Volga on the Stalingrad Front. On the same day, fascist aviation subjected Stalingrad to barbaric bombardment and massive shelling, as a result of which about 200 thousand civilians were killed and maimed, without taking into account the victims among the refugees. 120 “vultures” were shot down in the air, but their death did not compensate for the bitterness of the losses.
In late August, the enemy managed to advance close to the city. On August 29, Zhukov arrived in Stalingrad to coordinate the defensive operations of the Soviet fronts. Meanwhile, on September 12, the Germans managed to break through to the southern outskirts of the city; the most fierce battles were fought already in the line of Stalingrad. Part of the 62nd (V.I. Chuikov) and 64th (M.S. Shu-milov) armies led to direct defense in the city. On September 13, 14, 15, fierce battles were fought for every meter in the city. The Soviet command literally from the wheels threw into battle the 13th Guards Division of General A.I. Rodimtsev, who left the following description of the battles for Mamayev Kurgan and other key points: "The flames rose several hundred meters in the heat. Not only the earth, but the sky also trembled from tears. Clouds of smoke and dust hurt the eyes. Buildings collapsed, walls fell, iron was jarred. It seemed that all living things were dying here, but people were going to battle. " On October 15, the Germans went to the Volga from the south in the area of the tractor plant, on November 11, the last attempt was made to capture the positions of the Soviet troops, after which units of the 6th Army went over to defense. The total losses of the German troops during the four-month battles amounted to 700 thousand killed and wounded, more than 2 thousand guns and mortars, more than 1 thousand tanks and assault guns and about 1.4 thousand aircraft.
Even in the midst of fierce city battles, the Soviet command was not limited to defense plans. Already on September 12, the General Staff began to develop an offensive operation at Stalingrad ("Uranus"). The reorganization of command and control was carried out. On September 28, the Stalingrad front was renamed Donskoy (K. K. Rokossovsky), and the Southeast — Stalin-grad (A.I. Eremenko). The reserve armies were concentrated at Stalingrad, while the 6th Army of Paulus tried to control the right bank of the Volga.
Soon the Soviet units had an advantage in numbers and armament. On November 19, 1942 the counterattack of the troops of the South-Western and Don fronts north of Stalingrad began. The front was broken through at the site of the 3rd Romanian army, while the 27,000th enemy grouping was destroyed in the small ring. November 20 began the offensive units of the Stalingrad Front. Five days later, the attackers closed the ring in the town of Kalach, surrounding the 330,000th enemy grouping. On January 10, 1943, Soviet troops under the command of K. K. Rokossovsky set about eliminating the enemy blocked in the Stalingrad area (Operation Ring), and on February 2, the remnants of the 6th Army of Paulus. surrendered. Soviet soldiers and pilots during the Battle of Stalingrad showed massive heroism. 14 pilots sent their burning aircraft to enemy echelons, 29 - made an air ram, 11 people repeated the feat of A. Matrosov, covering their enemy embrasures with their bodies.
The victory of the Soviet troops escalated into an offensive across the front from Leningrad to the Caucasus. The troops of the Leningrad (L. A. Govorov) and Volkhov fronts (K. A. Meretskov) as a result of the offensive battles in the Shlisselburg-Sinyavinsky protrusion on January 18, 1943 broke through the blockade, uniting in the area of the workers' settlements No. 5 and No. 1. To the south of Lake Ladoga, a corridor 8-11 km wide was formed, connecting Leningrad and the mainland.
The offensive also developed successfully in the southern sector of the Soviet-German front, where the North Caucasus was liberated, and also in the central, where Soviet troops liberated Rzhev in March 1943.
The results of the Battle of Stalingrad and the winter offensive were consolidated during the Battle of Kursk (July 5 - August 23), the victory in which marked the final transition of the strategic initiative to the Red Army.
Planning the operation "Citadel", the German command expected to solve the problem of the lack of reserves by reducing the front line as a result of the liquidation of the Kursk salient. The liberated units could be used either in a strategic offensive against Moscow, or in strategic defense against Anglo-American forces in a Mediterranean theater of operations. The encirclement and destruction of the Central (K. K. Rokossovsky) and Voronezh (N. F. Vatutin) fronts could, in the opinion of the German command, allow them to intercept a strategic initiative, to take revenge for Stalingrad.
The German command concentrated on a narrow sector of 50 divisions (including 16 tank-outs), which accounted for 20% of its infantry, 30% of motorized and 70% of tank forces on the Eastern Front. Several times the offensive was postponed only because of the need to accumulate additional modern equipment: Tiger, Panther tanks, Ferdinand assault guns, Focke-Wulf 190A aircraft and other weapons. On July 5, 1943, the Wehrmacht struck a blow at the Soviet units that had attacked the Kursk salient.
Having the opportunity to prepare for repelling the German offensive, the Soviet command in the summer of 1943 organized a deep-echeloned defense with large reserves of troops, in which the attacking units of the Wehrmacht were bogged down. A week later, on July 12, the troops of Rokossovsky launched a counterattack, and after fierce tank battles near Prokhorovka on August 3 and part of Vatutin. On August 5, the Eagle and Belgorod were taken; on August 23, Kharkov was liberated. Wehrmacht troops lost more than 500 thousand people, 1.5 thousand tanks, 3.7 thousand planes killed and wounded. Soviet troops launched an offensive on all fronts, especially successful in Ukraine, where Kiev was liberated on November 6. Attempts by the Wehrmacht to return the capital of Ukraine at the end of 1943 ended in failure.
The successes of the Red Army and the Soviet people as a whole contributed to a change in the Stalinist regime. Steps addressed to the historical past of Russia were taken: the Comintern was dissolved on May 15, 1943, and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was elected on September 8, 1943. The victories of 1943 created, along with the increased economic potential, the rallying of the people and allies, the prerequisites for successful actions in the subsequent period.
As the territories of the Caucasus were liberated in 1943, the Soviet leadership deported a number of peoples accused of mass collaborationism. In October 1943, about 70 thousand Karachays were deported, more than 90 thousand Kalmyks in December, up to 500 thousand Chechens and Ingush in February 1944, and about 38 thousand Balkars in March. The deportations of the population continued in the next period: Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Kurds, Hemshins, Meskhetian Turks were among the displaced peoples.
Thus, changes in the nature of the Stalinist regime were largely superficial and did not affect the punitive-repressive system, whose powers increased. The GKO decree of April 14, 1943 in the NPO system of the USSR established the Main Directorate of Counterintelligence SMERSH (Death to Spies), which, in addition to fighting spies, was engaged in identifying those dissatisfied with the Stalinist regime in the army and in the liberated territories.