By David M. Glantz,
and historians know about the course and outcome of the Soviet Stalingrad
counteroffensive, code-named Operation "Uranus." Most know about the
subsequent planning for and conducting of Operations "Saturn" and
"Little Saturn" against German and Italian forces along the middle
factors differentiated operation "Uranus" from operation
"Mars." First, at Stalingrad Soviet armies chose Rumanian sectors in
which to conduct their initial penetration operations, and they penetrated
Rumanian defenses rather easily. At Rzhev, however,
experienced German divisions (like the 102d) were dug into well-prepared
defenses. Unlike the case at
At Rzhev, however, German Ninth Army had four mobile divisions in their immediate operational reserve (1st and 9th Panzer, and Grossdeutschland and 14th Panzer Grenadier) and three other panzer divisions (9th, 19th, and 20th) within striking distance in a matter of days. This spelled doom for the Soviet offensive.
One other marked characteristic differentiates Operations "Uranus" and "Saturn" from Operations "Mars" and "Jupiter." The former were fully recorded by historians; the latter were not!
Operation "Mars": The Rzhev-Sychevka operation (25 November-December 1942)
The Russian attack was lead by General G.K. Zhukov.
G. K. Zhukov
notes the existence of operation "Mars' in his memoirs, and he apparently
played a major role in its planning and conduct, along with the two
participating front commanders, I. S. Konev, and M. A. Purkaev.
Konev's memoirs, which begin in January 1943, ignore this operation and others
he participated in before 1943. Zhukov reveals the general parameters of the
plan, which called for the destruction of German forces in the Rzhev salient. Then, after returning to his description of
the Stalingrad victory, he briefly mentions the failure at Rzhev
and dismisses the operation as simply a diversion, although it began on 25
November (five days after the commencement of the
These sources, taken alone, indicate that a modest operation occurred, perhaps diversionary in nature and that at least three armies (22d, 41st, and one Western Front army), supported by up to four mobile corps (1st and 2d Mechanized, 2d Guards Cavalry, and 6th Tank Corps), and took part in the operation. These forces were of significant, but not overwhelming size.
German archival intelligence and operational reports, however, cast the operation in a vastly different light. German Ninth Army records affirm that the Kalinin Front's 22d, and 41st Armies, supported by 1st and 3d Mechanized Corps, participated in the operation. But according to these records, so also did the front's 39th Army, and subordinate to 41st Army was the elite Stalin 6th Rifle Corps.. Moreover, three other Western Front armies (20th, 31st, and 30th) also took part, supported at various times by 5th, 6th, and 8th Tank Corps, and 2d Guards Cavalry Corps. At the same time, immediately to the west, 3d Shock Army struck at German forces at Velikie Luki and achieved success (which Soviet historians have reported on in detail). Further, 2d Mechanized Corps was available to support either 41st Army operations against Belyi or 3d Shock Army (which it ultimately supported). Detailed German order of battle reports indicate that the Soviet mobile forces were at or well above establishment armored strength and that offensive preparations had been thorough
photo: Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov
Website about Zhukov: http://web.mitsi.com/zhukov/
Stalingrad, the Soviets committed six armies (5th Tank, 21st, 65th, 24th, 57th,
and 51st), containing or supported by nine mobile corps (1st, 26th, 4th, 16th,
and 13th Tank; 4th Mechanized, and 8th, 3d Guards, and 4th Cavalry Corps),
against German Sixth and part of Fourth Panzer Army and Rumanian Third and
Fourth Armies of Army Group B, while 62d and 64th Armies defended in the city.
In the Rzhev-Sychevka operation, Zhukov committed six
armies (41st, 22d, 39th, 30th 31st, and 20th), supported by up to seven mobile
corps (1st, 2d, and 3d Mechanized, 5th, 6th, and 8th Tank, and 2d Guards
Cavalry Corps), against two thirds of German Ninth Army, while 3d Shock Army
struck simultaneously at German Ninth Army elements at Velikie
Luki, and three more Soviet armies (4th Shock, 43d,
and 29th) protected the flanks. While armies are admittedly of varying size,
Soviet forces at Rzhev were stronger than Soviet
To understand the position of the German army during the Karl Lessig story, in short we will tell you the prehistory.
On June 22
1941 the German army invades
axes Hitler tried to conquer
weeks the attack was going very well because of the well trained German forces and
the German tactic. The eventual targets (
At the beginning of December the German advance was really at its and. On December 6th a great number of Russian attacks begun. Within a month the German forces where struck back about 200-250 km.
As we can see on Map A the frontline was a very long capricious line sometimes with a length of 3000 to 4000 km. During 1942 around the city Rzhev a salient originated defended by the German 4th and 9th Army. Because of the heavy defense of the area around Rzhev the Russian forces did not succeed in penetrating the salient.
The Rzhev salient, a legacy of the chaotic fighting of winter
1941-42, which measured 150 x150 kilometers and which contained
General Walter Model's German Ninth Army had erected strong defenses around the salient and had fortified all cities and towns along the salient's periphery, including the key cities of Rzhev, Belyi, and Sychevka. The Germans had fortified the rivers flanking the salient and had cleared timber from the main north-south and east-west roads and rail lines which traversed the salient. Zhukov and Model both understood that whoever controlled the roads would control the salient. Although heavy forests and swamps dominated the terrain in the salient's western and central regions, the Germans had cleared sufficient terrain to permit both firm defense and the maneuver of mobile tactical and operational reserves within it. In addition, by late October, the dirt roads and many rivers criss-crossing the salient should be frozen or close to frozen.
For the complete description of the execution of Operation Mars read this complete website: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/countrpt/countrpt.htm