Operation Typhoon: Hitler’s March on Moscow, October 1941 by David Stahel

Here are excerpts from this book:

* …Germany found it extremely difficult to operate new agents in the Soviet Union. The training programme for agents had in fact been rapidly expanded in 1941, and attempts were made to use agents from Romania, China and Japan. Soviet counterintelligence, however, proved extremely effective in eliminating such men. This was due in part to the NKVD’s rigorous security procedures, but was also the result of faulty German documentation, which often contained minor errors on identification papers…

* Foreign Armies East also failed to accurately assess how the climate and topography of the Soviet Union would affect the operation of aircraft, motor vehicles and tanks.

* In spite of the large gaps in German intelligence, the army’s confidence in the success of Operation Barbarossa remained unshaken because all that was not known about the Soviet Union was offset by Nazi precepts about Slavs and the general staff’s traditional, and largely disparaging, view of Russia. Such unfavourable views were used to gloss over more positive and even worrying depictions of the Red Army, which were by no means absent from the planning process. The Walther memorandum from the German embassy in Moscow (October 1940) foresaw no chance of an internal Soviet collapse and argued that Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states would probably be more of a burden than a benefit to Germany’s economic situation.

* In spite of such well-reasoned objections the German general staff operated in reverse order, planning its operations first and then using intelligence to assess the enemy’s most damaging reaction instead of having intelligence shape the operational concept from the beginning.

* While the Germans struggled to conduct and repel intelligence operations into and out of the Soviet Union, their failings extended well beyond the eastern front because British cryptologists working on the Ultra project at Bletchley Park had decrypted the German Enigma codes. Acting on such intelligence without betraying their knowledge of it was a dilemma that would occupy the British for the rest of the war, yet this did not stop them from passing highly sensitive information to the Soviets.

* Given the gulf in the effectiveness of intelligence gathering between the Allied powers and Nazi Germany it is small wonder that in October 1941 Hitler and his high command did not appear to know just how imperilled their war effort really was.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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