Panzer Operations: Germany's Panzer Group 3 during the Invasion of Russia, 1941, Hermann Hoth

Panzer Operations: Germany's Panzer Group 3 during the Invasion of Russia, 1941, Hermann Hoth

Hermann Hoth commanded the 3rd Panzer Group during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. In that role he played a major part in the German victories of 1941. This book provides his view of the period between the invasion of the Soviet Union and October 1941, but ends just before the start of the attack on Moscow. 

Hoth produced a more balanced view of the fighting that some of his contemporaries. The standard line taken by many German generals was that Hitler's decisions were almost always wrong, and if he had only left the direction of the war to them, then the result would have been different. Hoth, at least in the mid 1950s when this book was written, was more willing to admit that sometimes Hitler had a valid point, and some of his orders produced significant German victories.

There has also been a tendency to portray the fighting of 1941 as fairly straightforward for the Germans, but Hoth doesn't support that view. He records hard fighting and a series of crises for the Germans, interspersed with dramatic victories. He also gives us an insight into the lack of an overall plan once the campaign was under way, something that is supported by other sources. If anything, Hoth perhaps overstates the problems faced by the Germans in the earlier part of the campaign, given the impressive advances made by them during the year.

Ironically the one chapter that is of little use now is the one examining warfare in the mid 1950s and the potential influence of tactical nuclear weapons, which at the same time overestimates the willingness of combatants to resort to nuclear weapons, and dramatically underestimates their impact (going as far as suggesting that infantry could avoid the effects of a nearby nuclear blast by sheltering in a fox hole!)

This is a useful primary source for the first part of the campaign of 1941, although one does have to be aware of Hoth's biases, and it’s a shame that he stops before the attack on Moscow, as his views on a period of German failure would have been interesting. 

1 - Introduction
2 - Background
3 - Destruction of the Enemy in the Border Areas, 22 June-1 July
4 - At Hitler's Headquarters, 26-30 June 1941
5 - From Minsk to the Western Dvina, 1-7 July 1941
6 - The Battle of Smolensk, 8-16 July
7 - Closing the Smolensk Pocket, 16 July-18 August
8 - Moscow, Kiev, or Leningrad
9 - The Operations of the Battle of Vyazma
Epilogue: Hermann Hoth's Career after the Battle of Vyazma

Author: Hermann Hoth
Translator: Linden Lyons
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2015

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