With the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941, a state of threat existed in Moscow. The Soviet Army began building 12 divisions for the defense of the city. Twenty-five battalions of militia patrolled the outskirts of the city against the chance of parachute troop assaults. Firefighting units were established. Citizens camouflaged the Bolshoi Theater to look like small houses. Larger buildings were made to appear like parks from the air.
German night air raids on the city began on the night of 21-22 July. Thirty-six took place during the period from July through September.
The citizens of Moscow built the Vyazma Defense Line and, on 16 July work on the Mozhaysk Defense Line began. One hundred thousand citizens of the city, 2/3rds women and children, built three lines of defenses around the city. These were known as the Ring Road, the Sadovoye Ring, and the Boulevard Ring. Six hundred eighty kilometers of anti-tank ditches, 447 kilometers of breastworks, 383 kilometers of anti-tank barriers, 30,000 firing points, 1,306 kilometers of barbed wire, and 1,537 kilometers of wooden obstructions in wooded areas were built.
Obstacles including metal spikes, barbed wire entanglements, and minefields were placed in the streets.
In the factories of Moscow workers repaired 263 guns, 1,700 mortars, 15,000 rifles and 2,000 lorries.
Partisan groups were organized and armed with rifles, grenades, warm uniforms, and food. Forty detachments formed in Moscow with another 30 in Tula.
On 8 October heavy rain slowed the movement of the German forces. IV Army reached the area east of Kaluga, their left on the Borovsk – Mozhaysk Line. IX Army reached the Volga at Kalinin and Rzhev. General Guderian’s forces established positions on either side of the Bryansk Pocket but the weather and fuel and supply shortages hindered his operations.
Marshal Zhukov, hero of the battle at Kalkin Gol in Mongolia, took command of the Western Front. General Konev commanded the Kalinin Front.
Fighting around Vyazma ended on 14 October. The Germans liquidated the Bryansk Pocket on 20 October. Field Marshal von Bock, in his report of 19 October, claimed the destruction of eight Soviet armies, but he worried about his southern flank where a gap between Army Group South opened near Belgorod due to the slow advance of II Army.
OKH issued new orders on 14 October. II Panzer Army was to move on Moscow from the south and east while IV Army and IV Panzer Gruppe were to close in from the north and west. II Army was released from Bryansk. II Panzer Army received orders to move on the Orel – Kursk – Yelets line to protect Army Group Center’s southern flank.
The season of mud began in the second half of October. The only paved road in Byelorussia connected Smolensk and Moscow. This road, torn up by traffic and Soviet bombing forced the Germans to form road crews to fill the craters. Traffic bogged down. Horses died from overwork and starvation. Communications were cut and air support was unavailable.
Sources: “Battle for Moscow: The Soviet View,” Colonel D. Proektor, History of the Second World War Magazine, 1970s
“Battle for Moscow: The German View,” Generalmajor (AD) Alfred Phillippi, History of the Second World War Magazine, 1970s
I really enjoyed this! Looking forward to part 2!
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