The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II

3.68 avg rating
( 372 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780743281119: The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sides -- those killed, taken prisoner or severely wounded -- were 2.5 million, of which nearly 2 million were on the Soviet side. But the Soviet capital narrowly survived, and for the first time the German Blitzkrieg ended in failure. This shattered Hitler's dream of a swift victory over the Soviet Union and radically changed the course of the war.

The full story of this epic battle has never been told because it undermines the sanitized Soviet accounts of the war, which portray Stalin as a military genius and his people as heroically united against the German invader. Stalin's blunders, incompetence and brutality made it possible for German troops to approach the outskirts of Moscow. This triggered panic in the city -- with looting, strikes and outbreaks of previously unimaginable violence. About half the city's population fled. But Hitler's blunders would soon loom even larger: sending his troops to attack the Soviet Union without winter uniforms, insisting on an immediate German reign of terror and refusing to heed his generals' pleas that he allow them to attack Moscow as quickly as possible. In the end, Hitler's mistakes trumped Stalin's mistakes.

Drawing on recently declassified documents from Soviet archives, including files of the dreaded NKVD; on accounts of survivors and of children of top Soviet military and government officials; and on reports of Western diplomats and correspondents, The Greatest Battle finally illuminates the full story of a clash between two systems based on sheer terror and relentless slaughter.

Even as Moscow's fate hung in the balance, the United States and Britain were discovering how wily a partner Stalin would turn out to be in the fight against Hitler -- and how eager he was to push his demands for a postwar empire in Eastern Europe. In addition to chronicling the bloodshed, Andrew Nagorski takes the reader behind the scenes of the early negotiations between Hitler and Stalin, and then between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.

This is a remarkable addition to the history of World War II.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

During a long career at Newsweek, award-winning journalist Andrew Nagorski served as the magazine’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. He is the author of several books and has written for countless publications. Visit his website: AndrewNagorski.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

In the fall of 1941, two gargantuan armies fiercely fought each other on the northern, southern, and western approaches to Moscow. On both sides it wasn't so much the generals who were calling the shots as the tyrants Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Those two leaders issued everyone their orders, never hesitating to send millions to their death whether in combat or in prisons and the camps. Both demonstrated ruthless resolve and, at times, brilliant tactics, but they were also prone to strategic shortsightedness on a colossal scale.

Hitler dispatched his armies deep into Russia without winter clothing, since he was convinced they would triumph long before the first frosts arrived. Stalin sent many of his troops into battle without guns, since he hadn't prepared the nation for the German onslaught. This doomed countless thousands of Germans to death by freezing in the first winter of the Russian campaign and countless thousands of Red Army soldiers to instant death because they did not survive long enough to pick up whatever weapon they could find among the dead and the dying.

The battle for Moscow, which officially lasted from September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, but in reality spanned more than those 203 days of unremitting mass murder, marked the first time that Hitler's armies failed to triumph with their Blitzkrieg tactics. When those armies had crushed Poland, France and much of the rest of Europe with breathtaking speed, they had looked unstoppable. "This defeat, however, was more than just another lost battle," Fabian von Schlabrendorff, one of the German officers who later joined the conspiracy against Hitler, recalled in his memoirs. "With it went the myth of the invincibility of the German soldier. It was the beginning of the end. The German army never completely recovered from that defeat." True enough, but the German forces would continue to fight with astonishing tenacity, and their ultimate defeat was still a long way off, which is why such judgments have been rendered only with the benefit of hindsight.

The battle for Moscow was arguably the most important battle of World War II and inarguably the largest battle between two armies of all time. Combining the totals for both sides, approximately seven million troops were involved in some portion of this battle. Of those seven million, 2.5 million were killed, taken prisoner, missing or wounded badly enough to require hospitalization -- with the losses far heavier on the Soviet than on the German side. According to Russian military records, 958,000 Soviet soldiers "perished," which included those killed, missing or taken prisoner. Given the treatment they received at the hands of their captors, most Soviet POWs were, in effect, condemned to death. Another 938,500 soldiers were hospitalized for their wounds, which brought overall Soviet losses to 1,896,500. The corresponding number for the German forces was 615,000.

By comparison, the losses for other epic battles, while horrific, never reached those kinds of figures. In the popular imagination, the battle for Stalingrad, from July 1942 to early February 1943, is generally considered the bloodiest of those struggles. It was huge but never approached the size of the battle for Moscow. About half the number of troops -- 3.6 million -- were involved, and the combined losses of the two sides were 912,000 troops, as compared to the 2.5 million in the Moscow battle.

None of the other major battles of the two world wars come much closer to Moscow's tallies. In the battle of Gallipoli in 1915, for example, the combined losses of the Turkish and Allied troops were roughly 500,000; for the battle of the Somme, from July to October 1916, German, British and French losses totaled about 1.1 million. And just in terms of the numbers of troops involved in the fighting, many other legendary battles of World War II weren't even in the same league as the battle for Moscow. At the pivotal battle of El Alamein during the North African campaign, for example, the opposing armies totaled 310,000.

This was also a battle that was played out in front of a global audience, with the United States, Britain, Japan and others making key decisions based on their assessments of its likely outcome. There's no doubt that if the Germans hadn't been stopped at the outskirts of Moscow, the repercussions would have been felt around the world.

And yet the battle for Moscow is now largely forgotten. Historians have paid far more attention both to the battles of Stalingrad and the Kursk salient, which represented clear-cut victories over Hitler's forces, and to the searing human drama of the siege of Leningrad. By contrast, the battle for Moscow was marred by too many errors and miscalculations by Stalin and raised too many unsettling questions to be subject to the same level of attention. As a result, it was often hastily dealt with in the history books and has never attained the mythological status of the later victories. But it's precisely because of its crucial role in the early period of World War II and what it reveals about the nature of the totalitarian giants who faced off against each other that the real story of the battle for Moscow has to be told, elevating this battle to its proper place in the history of the war.

History always looks inevitable in retrospect, but the plain fact is that there's usually nothing inevitable about the cataclysmic events that shape our world. To the Soviet leadership in 1941, there was nothing inevitable about the outcome of the German assault on their country, despite the official rhetoric. In the confrontation between the two monstrous leaders of all time, Hitler and Stalin, it was the German who initially caught his Soviet counterpart off guard. Stalin had ignored a rising flood of intelligence warning him that the Germans were about to attack and expressly forbidden his generals to take the measures that would have given their armies a better chance of withstanding the invaders.

The result was that the Soviet forces were thrown into total disarray during the early months of the war, and the Germans pushed deeper and deeper into the Soviet heartland, with Moscow clearly in their sights. On August 12, 1941, Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler's Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces, outlined the main target of the German offensive. "The object of operations must then be to deprive the enemy, before the coming of winter, of his government, armament, and traffic center around Moscow, and thus prevent the rebuilding of his defeated forces and the orderly working of government control," he wrote in Directive 34a. In other words, Hitler's goal of a swift victory in the east, so he could then turn his attention back to the war against Britain, depended on his ability to surround and then seize the Soviet capital.

Soon enough, that looked like a very real possibility. While some Soviet troops fought heroically against overwhelming odds, others -- and they numbered in the hundreds of thousands -- surrendered as quickly as they could. Stalin, for his part, suffered a near psychological collapse as his country looked as though it might implode. Buoyed by their early swift progress, German soldiers put up signposts proclaiming "To Moscow." As Hitler prepared for Operation Typhoon in September 1941, which was supposed to culminate in the collapse of the Soviet capital, he told his subordinates, "In a few weeks we shall be in Moscow." Then, he added, "I will raze that damned city and in its place construct an artificial lake with central lighting. The name of Moscow will disappear for ever." Whether or not he meant the last part literally or was carried away by the emotion of the moment, his boasts accurately reflected the growing sense that the Soviet capital wouldn't be able to mount an effective defense against the forces preparing to launch a massive assault.

And what would the seizure of Moscow signify for the entire war effort? When foreign invaders had seized the city twice before -- the Poles in the early seventeenth century and Napoleon in 1812 -- those victories had proven to be short-lived. In Napoleon's case, the breakthrough to Moscow only set the stage for the catastrophic defeat and retreat of his Grande Armée. But Moscow in those earlier times wasn't nearly the prize it was in 1941. By then, it was not only the political but also the strategic and industrial center of the country and its transportation hub. Its seizure would have been a devastating blow for the Soviet Union -- and for all those seeking to thwart Hitler's war aims.

Boris Nevzorov, a Russian military historian who has spent his life studying the battle for Moscow, argues that the Germans' failure there was the key event that determined the outcome of the war. "If they had taken Moscow, the war would have ended with a German victory," he maintains. Other historians and some of the surviving participants dispute that claim, insisting that the Soviet Union would have eventually rebounded even from the loss of its capital. Neither side can prove its case, of course; history doesn't provide definitive answers to "what if" questions. But Nevzorov is on indisputably firm ground when he characterizes the battle for Moscow as "our first great victory and the first great loss for Nazi Germany."

Soviet accounts of the battle solemnly mention the danger the country faced as German troops closed in on the capital in the fall of 1941. "It was the lowest point reached throughout the war," notes the five-volume official History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, which was published in the early 1960s. But those accounts don't dwell on the significance of the German failure to complete the push to take the city. This is no accident, nye sluchaino, as the Russians say. The early Soviet histories of the period had plenty of reasons to dispose of the battle for Moscow quickly.

First of all, the disastrous series of events associated with the battle raised all sorts of questions about Stalin and his incessant use of terror as a weap...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 17.00
US$ 5.99

Convert Currency

Shipping: US$ 6.00
From Canada to U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780743281102: The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0743281101 ISBN 13:  9780743281102
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2007
Hardcover

9781615609444: The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II

Simon ..., 2007
Hardcover

9781845133597: The Greatest Battle: The Battle for Moscow, 1941-2

AURUM ..., 2008
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Nagorski, Andrew
Published by Simon and Schuster 2008-11-04 (2008)
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BookOutlet
(Thorold, ON, Canada)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster 2008-11-04, 2008. Softcover. Condition: New. Softcover. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Seller Inventory # 9780743281119B

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 5.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 6.00
From Canada to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Nagorski, Andrew
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 074328111X

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.60
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Nagorski, Andrew
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2008. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # VS-9780743281119

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.54
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Nagorski, Andrew
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 074328111X *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Seller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI769805

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.72
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Nagorski, Andrew
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2008. PAP. Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IB-9780743281119

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.36
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Andrew Nagorski
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2008)
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sides -- those killed, taken prisoner or severely wounded -- were 2.5 million, of which nearly 2 million were on the Soviet side. But the Soviet capital narrowly survived, and for the first time the German Blitzkrieg ended in failure. This shattered Hitler s dream of a swift victory over the Soviet Union and radically changed the course of the war. The full story of this epic battle has never been told because it undermines the sanitized Soviet accounts of the war, which portray Stalin as a military genius and his people as heroically united against the German invader. Stalin s blunders, incompetence and brutality made it possible for German troops to approach the outskirts of Moscow. This triggered panic in the city -- with looting, strikes and outbreaks of previously unimaginable violence. About half the city s population fled. But Hitler s blunders would soon loom even larger: sending his troops to attack the Soviet Union without winter uniforms, insisting on an immediate German reign of terror and refusing to heed his generals pleas that he allow them to attack Moscow as quickly as possible. In the end, Hitler s mistakes trumped Stalin s mistakes. Drawing on recently declassified documents from Soviet archives, including files of the dreaded NKVD; on accounts of survivors and of children of top Soviet military and government officials; and on reports of Western diplomats and correspondents, The Greatest Battle finally illuminates the full story of a clash between two systems based on sheer terror and relentless slaughter. Even as Moscow s fate hung in the balance, the United States and Britain were discovering how wily a partner Stalin would turn out to be in the fight against Hitler -- and how eager he was to push his demands for a postwar empire in Eastern Europe. In addition to chronicling the bloodshed, Andrew Nagorski takes the reader behind the scenes of the early negotiations between Hitler and Stalin, and then between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. This is a remarkable addition to the history of World War II. Seller Inventory # BZV9780743281119

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.06
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Andrew Nagorski
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2008)
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sides -- those killed, taken prisoner or severely wounded -- were 2.5 million, of which nearly 2 million were on the Soviet side. But the Soviet capital narrowly survived, and for the first time the German Blitzkrieg ended in failure. This shattered Hitler s dream of a swift victory over the Soviet Union and radically changed the course of the war. The full story of this epic battle has never been told because it undermines the sanitized Soviet accounts of the war, which portray Stalin as a military genius and his people as heroically united against the German invader. Stalin s blunders, incompetence and brutality made it possible for German troops to approach the outskirts of Moscow. This triggered panic in the city -- with looting, strikes and outbreaks of previously unimaginable violence. About half the city s population fled. But Hitler s blunders would soon loom even larger: sending his troops to attack the Soviet Union without winter uniforms, insisting on an immediate German reign of terror and refusing to heed his generals pleas that he allow them to attack Moscow as quickly as possible. In the end, Hitler s mistakes trumped Stalin s mistakes. Drawing on recently declassified documents from Soviet archives, including files of the dreaded NKVD; on accounts of survivors and of children of top Soviet military and government officials; and on reports of Western diplomats and correspondents, The Greatest Battle finally illuminates the full story of a clash between two systems based on sheer terror and relentless slaughter. Even as Moscow s fate hung in the balance, the United States and Britain were discovering how wily a partner Stalin would turn out to be in the fight against Hitler -- and how eager he was to push his demands for a postwar empire in Eastern Europe. In addition to chronicling the bloodshed, Andrew Nagorski takes the reader behind the scenes of the early negotiations between Hitler and Stalin, and then between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. This is a remarkable addition to the history of World War II. Seller Inventory # BZV9780743281119

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Andrew Nagorski
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2008)
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sides -- those killed, taken prisoner or severely wounded -- were 2.5 million, of which nearly 2 million were on the Soviet side. But the Soviet capital narrowly survived, and for the first time the German Blitzkrieg ended in failure. This shattered Hitler s dream of a swift victory over the Soviet Union and radically changed the course of the war. The full story of this epic battle has never been told because it undermines the sanitized Soviet accounts of the war, which portray Stalin as a military genius and his people as heroically united against the German invader. Stalin s blunders, incompetence and brutality made it possible for German troops to approach the outskirts of Moscow. This triggered panic in the city -- with looting, strikes and outbreaks of previously unimaginable violence. About half the city s population fled. But Hitler s blunders would soon loom even larger: sending his troops to attack the Soviet Union without winter uniforms, insisting on an immediate German reign of terror and refusing to heed his generals pleas that he allow them to attack Moscow as quickly as possible. In the end, Hitler s mistakes trumped Stalin s mistakes. Drawing on recently declassified documents from Soviet archives, including files of the dreaded NKVD; on accounts of survivors and of children of top Soviet military and government officials; and on reports of Western diplomats and correspondents, The Greatest Battle finally illuminates the full story of a clash between two systems based on sheer terror and relentless slaughter. Even as Moscow s fate hung in the balance, the United States and Britain were discovering how wily a partner Stalin would turn out to be in the fight against Hitler -- and how eager he was to push his demands for a postwar empire in Eastern Europe. In addition to chronicling the bloodshed, Andrew Nagorski takes the reader behind the scenes of the early negotiations between Hitler and Stalin, and then between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. This is a remarkable addition to the history of World War II. Seller Inventory # AAC9780743281119

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.58
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Nagorski, Andrew
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 074328111X. Seller Inventory # Z074328111XZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.70
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Andrew Nagorski
ISBN 10: 074328111X ISBN 13: 9780743281119
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Seller Inventory # 97807432811190000000

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 17.62
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book