Saturday, April 17, 2004
As the Russian winter offensive petered out in the Spring of 1942, the Germans secretly repositioned most of their panzer arm in Army Group South's area of responsibilities, opposite a weakness in the Russian line. Stalin, focused as he was on Moscow, was caught completely unawares as the Wehrmacht roared out of the Ukraine and into a seemingly endless procession of wheatfields and rolling hill country. The Red Army was forced into pell mell retreat, much as it had been the previous summer. Case Blue had, as its ultimate aim, Russia's oil resources. Stalin had to find a way to make a stand and force Hitler to fight him on a ground of Stalin's choosing.
The Red Army staff chose to reinforce Stalingrad. Named as it was after the Big Cheese himself, the Russians put up a stout defense early on, forcing Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army to slug it out as they entered the city. Stalin had his battle, and more and more German resources were sucked into a positional battle for a city. Stalin had judged Hitler well. He knew that the City of Stalin was an irresistable propaganda target for Hitler. So the battle was fought.
Stalingrad comes back to me now as we ponder Fallujah, a medium sized town on the Euphrates River. But it does not bother me for the reasons that most on the Left might suppose. Rather, as a fragile ceasefire begins to come apart, I shall show you why the Iraqi insurgents and their jihadist allies have made a terrible blunder, much like Hitler had done so many years before.
In the next post, of course.