Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A brilliantly researched and realized history, an essential addition to the literature of World War II.
The 1941 Battle of Moscow—unquestionably one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War—marked the first strategic defeat of the German armed forces in their seemingly unstoppable march across Europe. The Soviets lost many more people in that one battle than the British and Americans lost in the whole of the war. Now, with authority and narrative power, Rodric Braithwaite tells the story in large part through the individual experiences of ordinary Russian men and women.
Setting his narrative firmly against the background of Moscow and its people, Braithwaite begins in early 1941, when the Soviet Union was still untouched by the war raging to the west. We see how—despite abundant secret intelligence—the breaching of the border by the Wehrmacht in June took the country by surprise, and how, when the Germans pushed to Moscow in November, the Red Army and the capital’s inhabitants undertook to defend their city. Finally, in the winter of 1941–1942, they turned the Germans back on the very outskirts.
Braithwaite’s dramatic, richly illustrated narrative of the military action offers telling portraits of Stalin and his generals. By interweaving the personal remembrances of soldiers, politicians, writers, artists, workers, and schoolchildren, he gives us an unprecedented understanding of how the war affected the daily life of Moscow, and of the extraordinary bravery, endurance, and sacrifice—both voluntary and involuntary—that was required of its citizens.
of technical schoolboys in their uniforms. Numbers of people were resting on the snow by the wayside. Later on, in the small hours of the morning, we passed quantities of men and women being marched under some sort of guard. These may have been people evacuated from areas now occupied by the Germans or they may have been people under some sort of arrest, but whatever they were they were being marshalled along and some must have been in the last stages of fatigue, as we saw many fallen or falling
cities too: anyone who has attended a wake in today’s Moscow will have shared the feeling that the spirit of the departed is still present in a very real sense. Maggie Paxson deals at some length with the intimate relationship between the living and the dead in a modern Russian village (M. Paxson, Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village [Washington, D.C., 2005], pp. 196 et seq., 316 et seq.). See also M. Lewin, “Popular Religion in Twentieth-Century Russia,” in The Making of the
kindly supplied by Daniel Mitlyanski) The boys from School No 110: Grisha Rodin, Gabor Raab, Yuri Divilkovski and Yuri Shlykov (photographs kindly supplied by Irina Golyamina) Gorky Street—the End (photograph kindly supplied by Nikolai Khalip; photographer Ya Khalip) Gorky Street—The Beginning 22 June 1941. Listening to Molotov announcing the outbreak of war Moscow Before the Revolution—the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was built to celebrate the
administrative skill. In 1941 he was the First Secretary of the Moscow Party, a candidate member of the Politburo, Head of the Main Political Administration of the Armed Forces, and Head of the SovInformburo, the official agency for war news. Thus, he was by far the most powerful man in the Moscow administration at the time. He died on 9 May 1945, the day of Victory itself. With such a workload that was perhaps hardly surprising. LEFT: Mikhail Nemirovski was chairman of the Raion Council for
French and the British. So it would be with Hitler, whose armies had never until now met serious resistance on the continent of Europe. The Germans’ initial success in Russia was explicable. They were at the height of their readiness, while the Soviet forces were still redeploying towards the new frontiers. And they had gained surprise by treacherously breaking their Pact with the Soviet Union. The Soviet people must understand the full extent of the danger which threatened their country. A