Secret Intelligence Service
Soviet Military Intelligence
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Attention to the point of view
VII of XL
In the memoirs of marshals G.K. Zhukova, A.M. Vasilevsky, A.I. Yeremenko, as well as numerous historical studies devoted to the Battle of Stalingrad, rarely and sparingly indicate the role played by the military intelligence of the Red Army during the preparation of Operation Uranus – the operation to encircle, dismember, and destroy the large group of German forces between the Volga and Don in November 1942 – February 1943 For some of the secret military intelligence operations and their impact on the course and outcome of the battle of Stalingrad.
Some sixty years ago events occurred on the fronts of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ that radically changed the situation on the Soviet-German front and created real prerequisites for victory over Nazi Germany. Speech on the Battle of Stalingrad. Much has been written about the exploits of the infantrymen, artillerymen, tankmen, and military pilots during the battle for Stalingrad. Practically nothing is said about the participation of military intelligence officers in this battle. Meanwhile, 1942 – the year of the Stalingrad battle – was the most tragic and most successful in the military intelligence activities of the Red Army. Although for unknown reasons, military intelligence operations were not reflected even in the memoirs of Marshal A.M. Vasilevsky, who in the period of the Battle of Stalingrad was the chief of the General Staff.
The battle of Stalingrad, as is known, began in mid-July 1942. Hitler demanded that his generals defeat the Red Army. On the Moscow and Leningrad directions, large groups of German troops remained, which really threatened the security of the two capitals of the Russian state. Which of them had to fall first, then no one could say. Hitler was ready to destroy both Moscow and Leningrad at the same time.
After the defeat of the German troops near Moscow, the offensive capabilities of the Soviet troops dried up in the spring of 1942. For the Soviet High Command it is time to decide how to act during the summer period, to defend or continue the offensive? Chief of General Staff B.M. Shaposhnikov (from May 1942 – Deputy Commissar of Defence) understood that it was necessary to gain time to accumulate reserves. He believed that on all fronts it was necessary to move on to strategic defence.
Stalin and Zhukov agreed on the need to move to a strategic defence, but offered to conduct several offensive operations. Ultimately, strategic defence was adopted as the main type of action by the Red Army in the summer of 1942. However, the Stavka, taking into account Stalin’s opinion, also ordered private offensive operations.
The General Staff was well aware that there was an extremely acute shortage of trained reserves and material and technical means in the country. To plan offensive operations in such conditions was unpromising. However, no one argued with Stalin.
In the first quarter of 1942, the General Staff tried to determine where the German command would strike the main blow. Opinions were different, but everyone believed that the seizure of Moscow remained the main goal of the German troops.
Hitler had more extensive plans. Our military intelligence first found out about them in March forty-two.
At the end of January 1942, the brigade commissar I. Ilyichev, the military commissar of the Intelligence Directorate, analysed the actions of military intelligence during the initial period of the war. The work of the Red Army Intelligence Agency revealed serious shortcomings. Ilyichev prepared a memorandum to the members of the State Defence Committee. At the time, it was like a sentence to oneself. Memories of the five chiefs of military intelligence who were repressed on the eve of the attack by fascist Germany on the Soviet Union were still too fresh in their memory.
In a note, Ilyichev said that ‘the organisational structure of military intelligence was not brought in line with the conditions of war and is a brake on intelligence work.’ The General Staff was subjected to serious criticism, which practically did not direct the Intelligence Agency.
The report of Ilyicheva was without delay considered at the GKO meeting. February 16, 1942 I.V. Stalin signed the order, according to which the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army was reorganised into the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff. Ilyichev was pleased with what he managed to do in such a short time. Only sixteen days passed from the sending of a report to the State Defence Committee before the reorganisation of the Intelligence Agency by Stalin’s order On the surviving copy of the memo with the hand of Ilyichev it is written : ‘In the matter. All is decided.’
Major-General A.P. was appointed head of the GRU. Panfilov. Brigade Commissar I.I. was again approved by the military commissar of the intelligence agency. Ilyichev. In the Main Intelligence Directorate there was concentrated the leadership of all types of intelligence – foreign and military. In accordance with the decision of I.V. Stalin, Major General Panfilov, became Deputy Chief of the General Staff. This meant that the General Staff would certainly improve the work of the leadership of the GRU, which is what happened.
Military intelligence. 1942.
For the smooth and efficient operation of the General Staff, its officers constantly required information on a wide range of issues. The mechanism of acquiring, studying, evaluating and using intelligence was rather complicated. How did he act in 1942? Did the intelligence cope with the tasks assigned to it? What exactly was done by military intelligence to ensure the defeat of the German troops at Stalingrad?
These and many other questions still cause keen interest. It would have been easier to find answers to them if one of the heads of the GRU of the military period had left his memoirs. However, generals F. Golikov, A. Panfilov, I. Il’ichev and F. Kuznetsov did not share their memories and reflections with their descendants. The memorandum and the participant of the Great Patriotic War, the patriarch of military intelligence, General of the Army P.I. Ivashutin, who had led the work of the GRU for about a quarter of a century. One day, talking with Peter Ivanovich, I asked if he was going to write memoirs about his work in intelligence? The general responded briefly and firmly; ‘The chiefs of military intelligence do not write memoirs.’
During the war years intelligence sought information credibility. And in many cases, succeeded. But the results of her work did not always benefit. It is known that military intelligence officers Richard Sorge, Ilse Stebe, Sandor Rado, Lev Sergeyev, Gerhard Kegel, and others promptly warned the Soviet leadership of the impending German attack on the Soviet Union.
In February 1942, after the defeat of the Germans near Moscow, Stalin and the members of the State Defence Committee finally listened to the opinion of the management of the Red Army General Staff and took concrete measures to reorganise this secret service. The war demanded new organisational forms of intelligence, new methods and directions in its work. In 1942, in spite of everything, military intelligence with its foreign residencies, intelligence departments of the front headquarters, border intelligence posts and technical services had quite strong positions. Figuratively speaking, in 1942, the military intelligence of the Red Army was a special secret front of the General Staff. On this front, the line of which passed through the capitals of many foreign states, through Soviet cities and villages, temporarily occupied by the Nazis, the fighting did not stop for a minute. In those fierce battles many spies died. After all, they always went ahead of the army, helped it, constantly risking their lives.
What kinds of intelligence were particularly effective during the preparation of the Stalingrad operation and during the defeat of the German troops in November 1942 – December 1943? This is, first, military intelligence. Officers of the intelligence departments of the Stalingrad, Don, South-Western and other fronts worked selflessly. They obtained intelligence information bit by bit on the front lines, behind enemy lines, during interrogations of captured German soldiers and officers. According to the position approved by the General Staff and the head of the GRU, the position of each front was to send to the Centre a new report by 20.00 of the current day, which was noticed behind the front line on the side of the enemy. By 3.00 the following day, the chief of the RO of the front headquarters prepared and sent to the GRU reconnaissance of enemy units and formations within the front line.
In addition, all the intelligence departments of the fronts were obliged to send the so-called ‘decadic intelligence reports’ to Moscow by 9.00 am 9, 19th and 29th of each month. Moreover, the head of the GRU demanded that all front staff headquarters intelligence agencies subordinate to him submit monthly reports on the work of the intelligence departments by the 10th day of the next month.
At the most approximate calculation, it turns out that during 1942, the intelligence department of the headquarters of each front sent about 780 reports and intelligence reports to the Centre. If one considers that in 1942 the Stavka formed 17 fronts, it turns out that from January 1 to December 31, 1942 more than 13 thousand various intelligence documents were worked out by the GRU forces! A significant part of these materials was prepared by the intelligence departments of the southern fronts of the Red Army.
Of course, the reports emanating from the structures of military intelligence were much more.
The second important area of activity of the GRU during the preparation of the encirclement of the German grouping and its destruction during the Battle of Stalingrad was occupied by radio and radio intelligence. At the end of November, when the ring of encirclement of the fascist troops in the Stalingrad area closed, radio intelligence found that the headquarters of the 6th Field Army, 4th, 8th and 51st Army Corps, the 11th Mechanised Corps, a tank corps, as well as six tank and mechanised divisions and thirteen enemy infantry divisions, that is, the group of the surrounded German troops was completely uncovered.
In 1942, the interpretation service was also part of the Red Army Intelligence Agency. The staff of this type of intelligence in 1942 also achieved significant results. The GRU decryption service uncovered 75 ciphers of German intelligence, read over 25 thousand German cipher telegrams.
The information obtained in this way about the enemy allowed the deployment of more than one hundred compound headquarters, the numbering of two hundred separate battalions, and other parts of the German army.
For many years, foreign researchers praised British intelligence, which was able to reveal the contents of intercepted German radiograms, encrypted with a special machine for encrypting texts, which was called ‘Enigma’ (‘Riddle’). Created by German inventor Dr. Arthur Sherbius, this machine was at that time a true miracle of encryption technology. The British were able to conquer the ‘Enigma’.
It was. But it has never been said anywhere that about the same success was achieved in 1942 by the employees of a special GRU decryption group. They revealed the possibility of deciphering German telegrams encrypted by the same Enigma, and began to design special mechanisms that accelerate this decryption.
In November 1942, at the height of the Battle of Stalingrad, the radio intelligence and interpretation services of the GRU were transferred to the General Headquarters of the Red Army and to the NKVD.
The third important direction of obtaining information about the enemy was aviation reconnaissance. The effectiveness of its work can be judged at least by such a fact. In the battles at Stalingrad, the deputy squadron commander of the 8th separate reconnaissance aviation regiment of the 8th air army of the Southern front, captain Vasily Balashov, made 45 combat sorties, photographed the territory on which the enemy troops were, with a total area of 14.5 thousand square kilometers. In total, during the war years, this officer made 210 sorties for reconnaissance of enemy troops and communications. In August 1943, Captain V. Balashov was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
All information regarding the enemy came to the Centre. On their basis, officers of the central office of the GRU prepared information for submission to higher authorities. There was a strict procedure for the preparation of these documents, which no one had the right to violate.
Daily in the GRU in the afternoon, intelligence reports were prepared on the situation on the fronts over the past 24 hours. Every day, these intelligence reports were presented to the Chairman of the State Defence Committee I.V. Stalin, the other members of the State Defence Committee, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of his Operational Directorate.
At least once a week, special reconnaissance maps of military intelligence were attached to the intelligence report, which reflected the grouping of the enemy forces.
By the 7th, 15th, 22nd and 30th of each month, the GRU was to submit to Stalin, all the members of the State Defence Committee, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Operational Directorate of the General Staff, a special document called the ‘Combat schedule of the enemy forces’. This ‘timetable’ indicated the enemy grouping on all fronts and lines up to the division, separate brigade, regiment and battalion.
In many cases, as information became particularly important, special reports were developed in the GRU, which were immediately sent by I.V. Stalin, G.K. Zhukova, B.M. Shaposhnikova, A.M. Vasilevsky. Often such special messages were addressed to L.P. Beria, V.M. Molotov, G.M. Malenkov and other statesmen.
Naturally, the value of the GRU reconnaissance was determined not by their quantity, but by their content. Information documents prepared by the GRU officers in 1942 were estimated at tens of thousands. But not this heap of intelligence is important for understanding the significance of the contribution of military intelligence to the defeat of the grouping of German troops at Stalingrad. The content of intelligence and the timeliness of their receipt are important.
If frontline intelligence, radio engineering and decryption services of the GRU and aviation intelligence mined information mainly about the state of the enemy troops along the Soviet-German front, the movement of troops and the concentration of manpower reserves and military equipment of the Germans in the operational depth of the front, information about the strategic designs of the Wehrmacht It was mainly the Soviet strategic intelligence agency, which was the fourth in a row, but most likely the first significant area in military intelligence activities. before and during the Battle of Stalingrad. Foreign military intelligence residency in 1942 operated in London, Geneva, Paris, Washington, Tokyo, Stockholm, Ankara and the capitals of some other states.
Preparing the Wehrmacht for decisive battles against the Red Army, Hitler on April 5, 1942, signed the secret directive No. 41, which had the code name Blau. This directive contained the strategic plan of the German command to conduct the war on the Eastern Front in 1942. In addition to the common tasks that were assigned to the command of the German troops, ‘to destroy, destroy, deprive, capture …’, she obliged, to concentrate all available forces for the main operation on the southern sector of the front in order to destroy the enemy west of the Don and subsequently seize oil areas Caucasus and passes through the Caucasus Mountains.
To achieve this goal, the German command planned to strike at the Stalingrad sector. The directive of Hitler says this; ‘Try to reach Stalingrad, or at least expose it to heavy weapons, so that it loses its importance as a centre of the military industry and communications centre.”
Hitler’s directive No. 41 of April 5, 1942 was, as always, of a secret nature. Did the Soviet military intelligence find out about her?
It is difficult to say exactly when the German General Staff began to develop this directive, but the first report on Hitler’s plans for the spring offensive on the Eastern Front came to Moscow from London sources of military intelligence of the Red Army on March 3. Agent ‘Gano’ reported on that day that Germany ‘plans to launch an offensive in the direction of the Caucasus in the spring of 1942. For these purposes, Berlin has reached an agreement on sending 16 new Romanian, 12 Italian, 10 Bulgarian, 2 Slovak and several Hungarian divisions of the whole to the Eastern Front.’
On the same day, March 3, 1942, another military intelligence agent, Dolly, also in London, reported to Moscow that :
(I) Germany will launch its new offensive against the USSR between April 15 and May 1.
(II) the offensive of the German troops will not have the character of a blitzkrieg. The Germans intend to act slowly, but successfully.
On March 15, Agent Dolly reported on the contents of the conversations of the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, which took place on February 18, 22 and 23. In these conversations Ribbentrop declared that the Eastern Front was stabilised. To the question of the Japanese ambassador when to expect the spring offensive on the Eastern Front, the German minister replied that ‘the plan for the summer campaign is being developed by the General Staff. So far, he cannot tell the exact date of the start of the offensive, but in general terms, the plan is the same that Hitler spoke to the Japanese ambassador in a personal conversation. In the operations of Germany against the USSR in 1942, the southern sector of the Eastern Front will be of paramount importance. It is there that the offensive will begin, and the battle will unfold to the north.’
Further, the agent reported that, according to the Japanese ambassador, in Berlin, the Germans plan to cut off the USSR from external assistance, to expand the offensive in the south, including the seizure of the entire Donbass and the Caucasus. If it fails, as Ribbentrop stated, to completely break the Soviet regime, then after the summer offensive of the USSR, it will lose all meaning and power.
In 1942, Dora, a military intelligence station in Switzerland, led by Sandor Rado, was active in Switzerland. She obtained information about the strategic plans of the German command to conduct the war on the Eastern Front. Valuable information came in this period from assistants Sandor Rado ‘Pakbo’, ‘Sisi’, ‘Lyutsi’, ‘Long’, ‘Salter’ and others.
On March 12, 1942, Rado sent an encrypted radiogram of this content to Moscow : ‘The main German forces will be directed against the southern wing of the Eastern Front with the task of reaching the line of the Volga and the Caucasus to cut off the army and population of the central part of Russia from the oil and grain regions.’
Evaluating this period in his life, Sandor Rado wrote after the war : ‘We can say that in the forty-first and forty-second years, our organisation justified its appointment, despite some mistakes. As for such a large action as the preparation of the German army for the summer offensive of forty-two, the information we transmitted was basically correct. Anyway, the enemy’s plans were promptly unraveled.’
On the basis of information received from sources from London, Geneva and the capitals of other states, in March 1942, a special communication was prepared to the Chief of the General Staff in the Central Intelligence Agency. The special report said : ‘The preparation of the spring offensive is confirmed by the transfer of German troops and materials. For the period from January 1 to March 10, 1942, up to 35 divisions were redeployed, and the human army was continuously replenished. Intensive work is being done to restore the railway network in the occupied territory of the USSR, and there is an intensified supply of combat and transport vehicles. The centre of gravity of the spring offensive will be shifted to the southern sector of the front with an auxiliary strike in the north while simultaneously demonstrating on the central front against Moscow. For the spring offensive, Germany, together with its allies, will deploy 65 new divisions. The most likely period of the spring offensive is mid-April or early May 1942.’
All the forces of the strategic undercover military intelligence were aimed at revealing the plans of the Hitlerite command and the nature of the operations it planned. The GRU analysts came to a firm and reasonable conviction about the main strategic goals of Germany in the war against the USSR in 1942. On the basis of information received from Switzerland, Great Britain, Turkey, the USA, Sweden and Japan, a special report of the GRU to the highest political and military leadership of the USSR was prepared. It said : ‘The Rostov direction will be the most likely direction of the Germans’ main attack on the Eastern Front. The purpose of the spring offensive is to seize the oil base of the USSR and subsequently, strike at Stalingrad, go to the r. Volga.
At the end of March, in April and May, the Intelligence Agency continued to receive clarifying information from the leaders of its foreign residencies about the plans of the Germans.
On March 31, agent Gano reported to Moscow : ‘According to a credible Berlin source, the plan of the German offensive on the Eastern Front provides for two directions :
(I) A blow to Leningrad to reinforce Finland and break ties and supplies to the USSR through the White Sea.
(II) The attack on the Caucasus, where the main effort is foreseen in the direction of Stalingrad and secondary – on Rostov and, moreover, after the capture of the Crimea – on Maikop. The main goal of the offensive is to capture the Volga all over it.
On the west bank, the Germans intend to put up strong fortifications.
There were disagreements regarding the actions on the central front in the German headquarters. Some people prefer to strike with a frontal blow, others – to liquidate Moscow through a detour.
As is known, the directive
Number 41 Hitler approved on April 5th. The data of military intelligence agents ‘Dolly’, ‘Gano’ and Shandor Rado suggest that the main points of this secret document became known in Moscow much earlier. Such paradoxes are possible only in intelligence.
This achievement of military intelligence was noted by General S.M. Shtemenko, who in 1942 worked at the General Staff. In his memoirs, he stressed : ‘In the summer of 1942, the enemy’s plan to seize the Caucasus was also discovered fairly quickly. But this time, the Soviet command was not able to provide decisive actions to defeat the attacking enemy group in a short time.’
In the summer of 1942, our strategy to simultaneously ‘advance and defend’ failed and led to the defeat of the Soviet troops near Kharkov, Voronezh and Crimea. After such defeats, the Red Army on all fronts was forced to move to a strategic defence.
Intelligence on the plans of the enemy for the summer of 1942 were obtained by military intelligence in a timely manner, but the General Headquarters could not fully use it in the first half of 1942. Again, as in 1941 near Moscow, a situation critical for the Red Army developed in the Stalingrad area. August 27, 1942, Stalin signed a decree, in accordance with which Zhukov was appointed first deputy Commissar of Defense. CM. Budyonny was relieved of this position. G.K. Zhukov became the first deputy commander in chief.
Zhukov’s appointment as Stalin’s deputy was timely and symbolic at the same time. Timely because the situation on the Soviet-German front was critical. Symbolic because this appointment meant a change of generations in the military leadership of the country. The strategy of sabre attacks irrevocably faded into the past, giving way to the strategy of tank battles, close interaction of aviation, artillery and infantry, active use of all types of military intelligence to obtain information regarding the enemy.
Two days later, G.K. Zhukov was in the area of Kamyshin, where he was met by the chief of the General Staff, General A.M. Vasilevsky. After a brief report by General Vasilevsky, they headed for the command post of the 1st Guards Army, commanded by General K.S. Moskalenko. Commander of the Stalingrad Front, General V.N. Proud at the time was on the command post of the 1st Guards Army. G.K. Zhukov listened attentively to the reports of the generals on the deployment of the enemy forces on the Stalingrad Front and made sure that the headquarters of the Stalingrad Front was well aware of the situation in front of the front line, that its intelligence department had obtained sufficient information regarding the enemy.
But the intelligence of the front could not get information about where, when and by what forces the enemy could go on the general offensive. This information should have been obtained by foreign residencies of the Main Intelligence Directorate. They acted far from the Stalingrad front, but the information they mined was extremely important for the course and outcome of the Stalingrad battle.
About two weeks Zhukov was in the army of General Gordov, studied the situation, military intelligence, traveled all parts and formations. On September 10, Zhukov contacted Moscow and reported to Stalin his conclusions. They were disappointing.
On September 3, Zhukov received a telegram from Moscow signed by Stalin. It stated that; ‘the situation at Stalingrad has worsened. The enemy is located three versts from Stalingrad. Stalingrad can take today or tomorrow.’
Upon reviewing the telegram, Zhukov reported to Stalin that the troops of the Stalingrad Front would be able to engage the enemy only on the evening of September 4. In the event of the enemy’s transition to a general offensive, Stalin ordered the Germans to attack, without waiting for the final readiness of the troops.
Zhukov began to follow the instructions of Stalin, but could not succeed.
Fighting continued for several days. The forces of the Stalingrad Front were unable to break through the corridor and unite with the troops of the Southeast Front.
On September 10, Zhukov once again drove around the units and formations of the Stalingrad Front and finally came to the conclusion that it was impossible to achieve success with the available forces in the same grouping.
September 12 Zhukov flew to Moscow. So disappointingly ended his first trip to the Stalingrad front. However, the study of the situation on the ground, a thorough study of the reports of the intelligence departments of the headquarters of the three fronts and the aviation reconnaissance allowed Zhukov to see the contours of the future counter-offensive operation.
By chance, on September 12, 1942, the commander of the 6th German Army, General Paulus, also flew out of Stalingrad to Vinnytsia. Hitler, who at that time was there in his secret bunker, demanded a thorough report. During the discussion of the strategy of the battle on the Volga, Hitler ordered Paulus to take Stalingrad in a decisive assault.
Arriving in Moscow, Zhukov summoned the chief of the General Staff, General Vasilevsky, who was appointed to this position in June 1942. They discussed in detail the latest intelligence reports and special reports from the Chief Intelligence, appreciated the situation that has developed in the area of Stalingrad and the Caucasus. After that, Zhukov told Stalin on HF that they, together with Vasilevsky, were ready to report on the situation near Stalingrad.
Zhukov worked closely with the chief of the General Staff on analyzing the situation on all fronts. General Vasilevsky had a significant amount of information about the enemy, his plans, about the transfer of troops from the West to the East, the preparation of reserves, the production of new military equipment at German factories, Germany’s involvement of new military formations of Romania, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia. Accurate information about the fascist army uninterruptedly entered the General Staff from the Main Intelligence Directorate.
On the eve and during the Battle of Stalingrad, all military intelligence agencies worked according to a single plan. It was specified in the work plans for the third and fourth quarter of 1942. In particular, the ‘Work Plan of the 1st Division of the 1st Directorate of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army for the period October-December 1942’, which was prepared by Colonel Ivan Bolshakov, Head of the Department, spoke about the tasks of the department for obtaining the necessary data in Germany and European countries.
In Moscow, under the command of Colonel I. Bolshakov there were 12 officers: the regimental commissar L. Epstein, the military engineer of the 2nd rank K. Leontyev, the majors V. Konovalov, N. Trusov, the senior lieutenant V. Bochkarev and other spies. Among them was a woman – Captain Maria Polyakova. An experienced intelligence officer, Polyakova knew Germany well, worked in Berlin in an illegal situation.
In the fourth quarter of 1942, the Bolshakov department was supposed to, through the existing and newly created agent network, conduct reconnaissance of the German armed forces, obtain information about ‘detailed plans and intentions of the German command, continuously cover the groupings and movements of the German troops, identify enemy reserves and areas of their concentration’ .
The subordinates of Bolshakov were faced with another, equally important task – to obtain information about the diplomatic combinations of the military-political leadership of fascist Germany, both in the countries occupied by the Germans and in countries that maintained normal relations with the USSR. Special attention was paid to obtaining accurate information about the attitude of Japan and Turkey to the events on the Eastern Front. Under unfavourable conditions for the USSR, these states could be on the side of Germany. In Moscow, it was known that the German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop convinced German generals that Japan in 1942 would certainly begin military operations against the USSR.
Colonel Bolshakov and his subordinates planned to organise the transfer of new residencies to Germany, as well as Poland and Czechoslovakia in order to create in these countries an extensive agent network capable of fully providing the Centre with intelligence about the enemy.
What kind of intelligence about the enemy interested the General Staff and the GRU? They are diverse. Military intelligence was supposed to establish :
(I) the quantitative and qualitative composition of the German troops in the southern direction and areas of concentration of reserves of the German army
(II) the plans of the German command for the winter of 1942-1943
(III) the use of allied forces (Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Italy) on the Eastern Front
(IV) the course of mobilisation in Germany and the attitude of the population towards it
(V) the results of the formation of new parts and compounds, especially tank and aviation.
(I) the exact grouping of enemy troops in Germany, which divisions and where they are stationed, their organisation, armament, commanding staff, political and moral status
(II) transfer of troops and military material from Germany to the East, routes and directions of their movement, numbering of the transferred parts, their numerical composition
(III) the number of newly formed armored and motorised divisions, their weapons and organisation. What new types of tanks are supposed to be used on the Eastern front, their tactical and technical data, the location of repair bases in the enemy rear
(IV) the deployment of training centers of armored troops.
Military intelligence was supposed to get other important information. The senior assistant to the head of the department, military engineer of rank 2 K. Leontyev, the assistants to the head of the department captain M. Polyakova, senior lieutenant V. Bochkarev, and other officers were responsible for these tasks.
One of the main tasks of the department was to restore communication with the residency in Berlin, which was led by the spy Ilze Stebe. In the Centre she was called Alta. But they did not manage to do this by the Bolshakov department.
On Saturday, September 12, 1942, Ilse Stebe was arrested by the Gestapo men and charged with collaborating with Soviet intelligence. Later, her chief source diplomat, an employee of the German Foreign Ministry, Baron Rudolf von Shelia was arrested. December 14, Ilse Shtebe was sentenced to death by the imperial military court.
Hitler closely followed the course of this court. On December 21, 1942, at the height of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Führer personally approved a decree by the verdict of the military field court against members of the groups A. Harnack – H. Schulze – Boyzen and I. Stebe – R. von Shelia. At Hitler’s disposal, it was stated : ‘I confirm the sentence of the imperial military court of December 14, 1942 against the former adviser of the embassy Rudolf von Shelia and editor Ilse Stebe, as well as the sentence of the imperial military court against senior lieutenant Harro Schulz-Boysen and others. I reject a petition for clemency. To carry out the sentences, namely : against Rudolf von Shelia, Harro Schulz-Boysen, Arvid Harnack, Kurt Schumacher and Johannes Graudenz – by hanging. The remaining death sentences are by cutting off the head’. On the night of December 23 to 24, 1942, Ilse Stebe was executed on the guillotine in Plötzensee prison.
In December 1942, the Gestapo defeated the Otto station in France. L. Trepper and G. Robinson were arrested. In Brussels, the Gestapo men captured the Soviet military intelligence officers A. Gurevich (Kent), M. Makarov (Chemnitz) and others. Their destinies were different. Most of them, like Ilze Stebe, were executed. L. Trepper and A. Gurevich managed to escape from the Gestapo.
However, other military intelligence residencies continued to be active. In Switzerland, the residency ‘Dora’, in London – ‘Brion’, ‘Edward’ and spy Ursula Kuczinski, known by the pseudonym ‘Sonya’ worked. There was a residency in Turkey, which was led by Nac intelligence officer, information from the Akasto resident was received from Sweden. Continued to receive information from Japan, the United States and France. Intelligence gained in these countries was valuable.
June 7 Major General I.A. Sklyarov, who was in charge of the Brion station in London, received information from the American military attache on the deployment and grouping of units and formations of the entire German army. But, apparently, the information that ‘Brion’ received from an American did not fully correspond to the real state of affairs in the Stalingrad sector. Therefore, on June 23, the head of military intelligence sent General I. Sklyarov the following order : ‘Dear Brion. I consider it necessary once again to focus your attention on shortcomings in work.’
The quantity and quality of materials on the condition and armament of the German army and the armies of the Axis countries, as well as the plans and intentions of the enemy command, are still completely insufficient. Information on these issues is limited mainly to the materials you receive officially from the British and Americans. The experience with Dolly proves that officially you are getting far from everything that we can give.’
This was not only a serious comment on the work of ‘Brion’, but also a warning that the Americans and the British were not transmitting to the Soviet intelligence all the data about the German armed forces, which they actually had.
The fact that the Allies didn’t transfer to Brion was obtained by the Red Army through other channels. In particular, from Sweden, Turkey or France. The military intelligence officer Akasto, operating in Stockholm, reported to Moscow on August 31 : ‘The Swedish General Staff believes that the main German offensive has begun in Ukraine. The German plan is a breakthrough of the Kursk-Kharkov line with the development of an offensive through the Don to Stalingrad on the Volga. Then – the establishment of a barrier in the north-east and the continuation of the offensive by fresh forces to the south through Rostov to the Caucasus.’
Taking into account the recommendations of the Centre, ‘Brion’ intensified work with the GRU superagent during the war years, which had the pseudonym ‘Dolly’. On October 3, Brion reported to the Centre : ‘Our source from the British military department reported that at the regular meeting of intelligence officers, which took place last Friday, the intelligence chief, Major General Davidson, reported on the state of affairs on the Eastern Front. According to him; ‘Russians win the war for the British. The Russians are doing much better than Davidson, who believed that the Germans were to capture Grozny by September 5, Stalingrad by September 7, and Baku by September 19.’
But our agent in the British military was Dolly, who knew not only what was served for breakfast to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The agent Gano also worked actively and productively. On October 6, he gave Sklyarov information on the number and deployment of all the reserve units of the German army.
By the end of October, the overall plan for the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad was laid out. In order to develop a plan for the interaction of three fronts in the area of Stalingrad, the General Staff had to be based on specific logistical calculations. All information about the number, composition, weapons and reserves of the Red Army General Staff had at its disposal. Similar information about the German armed forces came from military intelligence sources.
Recalling this tense period of the Great Patriotic War, Marshal of the Soviet Union G.K. Zhukov wrote : ‘It is only natural that the General Headquarters and the General Staff thoroughly studied the intelligence data about the enemy coming from the fronts and troops, analysed them and made conclusions from the nature of the actions of the enemy and their troops.’
Main Intelligence Directorate, the main source of information about the enemy, the General Headquarters of the Red Army developed a plan for the Stalingrad operation. In developing this plan, military intelligence information was taken into account, thanks to which the disinformation measures of the headquarters of the German Army Group Centre, codenamed ‘The Kremlin’, were revealed. The purpose of Operation Kremlin was to convince the Soviet military command with all its might that the Germans would strike the main blow in the summer campaign in the direction of Moscow. In reality, in accordance with Directive No. 41, the tip of the main attack was directed to the Caucasus and Stalingrad.
In early October, Stalin gave an interview to British journalists about the need to open a second front and the reasons that restrain Britain and the United States from the start of hostilities against the Germans in Europe. On October 5, at a press briefing, a representative of the British Foreign Office refused to comment on Stalin’s statement. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons on October 8, also declined to answer the question about the possible timeframe for the Allies to open a second front. Winston Churchill did not suppose that Stalin found out about the real reasons for the cold attitude of the allies on June 3, 1942. It was then that Major General I.A. Sklyarov received detailed information on the results of the negotiations of the American General Marshall with the leadership of the British War Department, which took place in late April in London. According to an agent of the military intelligence of the Red Army, who had the pseudonym ‘Expert’, during the talks in London, the American general Marshall ‘agreed with the British government the following questions :
‘Until the spring of 1943, the second front in Europe will not be opened … ‘
Until mid-1944, the British and Americans acted as they agreed in London at the end of April 1942. The critical situation that developed on the Eastern Front did not bother anyone in the West. The Red Army continued to fight desperately, hoping only for its own strength and for its military intelligence. And she, the military intelligence of the General Staff, continued to obtain more and more valuable information.
On October 17, Agent Gano gave the Soviet military intelligence accurate information about the deployment of all Romanian units on the Eastern Front and their combat strength.
On November 5, an agent ‘Dolly’ handed over to our military intelligence officer, ‘Bilton,’ a summary of the evaluation of the USSR and the Red Army prepared by specialists from the general staffs of Germany and Hungary. It, in particular, made the following conclusion :
‘The Soviets cannot count on any effective assistance from the Allies and are forced to rely only on their own resources.’ This conclusion of analysts of the German military intelligence was not far from the truth. The following estimates were given in the summary :
The combat readiness of the Red Army is generally lower due to the lack of aircraft, tanks, guns and the poor quality of the training of the highest military command.
The Red Army cannot be completely defeated in 1942, but it is not capable of any major offensive in the winter and will not be a further threat to the Axis countries.
According to the estimates and forecasts of analysts of the German and Hungarian general staffs, the goals of the USSR until the end of 1942 remain : ‘the defecse of the Caucasus, the defense (liberation) of Stalingrad, the liberation of Leningrad.’ In conclusion, the conclusion was made : ‘The offensive of the Red Army on a large scale in 1942 is impossible.’
Such an assessment of the situation on the Eastern Front and the capabilities of the Red Army was most suited by the Soviet General Staff. The enemy in his calculations and strategic planning made a fatal mistake. It became known in Moscow.
Thanks to the efforts of military intelligence officers, before the beginning of the offensive operation of the Soviet troops near Stalingrad, the entire group of enemy troops of the first line, accurate to the battalion, the forces and defence system of many enemy units before the front of our troops was almost completely uncovered. Accurate information was obtained on the deployment of the main attack units of the Nazi troops – the 6th Field and 4th Tank Armies, the 3rd Romanian and 8th Italian Armies, and the tasks and strength of the 4th Air Force of the German Air Force.
Stalin, Zhukov and Vasilevsky in mid-September 1942, it was decided to prepare a Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad. The idea of this operation was to ensure that from the Serafimovich area and the defile of Tsapa and Barmantsak lakes in the general direction to Kalach, which lies west of Stalingrad, inflict powerful blows on the flanks of the grouping of enemy forces that were drawn into the prolonged fighting for the city of Stalingrad, and then surround and destroy units and formations of the 6th and 4th tank armies of the German armies.
Stalin introduced a regime of strict secrecy throughout the initial stage of the preparation of the operation, about which nothing was reported even to the members of the State Defence Committee. It was planned to launch an offensive on the South-Western and Don fronts on November 19-20, and on the Stalingrad one on November 20.
An important element in the preparation of a counter-offensive at Stalingrad was the conduct of a diverting operation on the Kalinin and Bryansk fronts. Responsible for this operation was appointed G.K. Zhukov.
Zhukov masterfully organised an enemy disinformation operation that the Soviet troops were preparing a major offensive on this sector of the Eastern Front. Everything was done in order to enter the intelligence of the enemy in error. But how and where was it possible to obtain evidence that the enemy’s disinformation measures had reached their goal, and thus the surprise of the Soviet counteroffensive in the Stalingrad area would be achieved? Without an answer to this question, the counterattack could not begin. His failure could, without exaggeration, lead the USSR to defeat in the war.
The General Staff carefully studied all the reports of military intelligence, which could indicate what the enemy knows about the situation in the area of Stalingrad and Rzhev.
Less than two weeks remained before the start of the counter-offensive at Stalingrad. And finally, on November 7, 1942, an urgent radiogram was received from the Dora in the GRU with the following content : ‘Lightning. OKV expects a large winter offensive of the Red Army in the area between the Great Onions and Rzhev. The OKW believes that the Soviet Main Command is preparing an offensive with relatively small but mobile armies, just like last winter. Dora’.
This short radiogram was immediately reported to the military intelligence chief. I. Ilyichev, who from August 1942 began to fulfill the post of the head of the GRU, was apparently among the few who were devoted to the plan for the organisation of the diverting operation of the Soviet troops. Only this can explain the nature of his resolution on the form of a radiogram. In large letters boldly, as if hurrying performers, General Il’ichev wrote :
‘T. To Stalin, comrade Zhukov, comrade Vasilevsky, comrade Onyanov.’
The message from Dora, which sent only reliable and important information on military and military-political issues to the Centre, indicated that the German General Staff believed the reports of German military intelligence that the Red Army was preparing an offensive on the central front. Thus, it was possible to conclude that the efforts to organise and conduct a distracting operation were not in vain. By the way, Zhukov in the process of this misinformational diversionary operation was one of the main signs of its seriousness and importance. German intelligence closely watched the movements on the fronts of G.K. Zhukov and believed that where he is, and you need to wait for the offensive from the Red Army.
On November 9, another urgent report was received from Dora. ‘Lightning. OKW believes that the Soviet armies in the central sector of the front will be much better equipped and prepared than in the winter of last year, and that at least half of the armies will be under the direction of those generals who distinguished themselves in the winter of last year, in particular Govorov, Belov, Rokossovsky, Lelyushenko. OKW believes that the Soviet army, heavily equipped with military equipment, is concentrated at Mozhaisk and the second, not inferior to it, at Volokolamsk, and that considerable forces are being prepared for offensive actions at Toropets and north-east of Toropets, as well as between Staritsa and Lake Seliger.’
This report from Dora was also urgently reported to Stalin, Zhukov and Vasilevsky.
The Dora station also received information that the German command believes that the concentration of Soviet troops in the semi-desert lands south-east of Stalingrad is unlikely and therefore there is no great danger that the flank of the German group in this area has no fortified line of defence sufficient fire protection. This important information was taken into account by the General Staff of the Red Army when choosing the starting line for the counter-offensive of the left wing of the Stalingrad Front, which began on November 19, 1942.
In the second half of 1942, the GRU residency mined information about the enemy, mainly guided by the numerous requests of the Center. Naturally, these tasks were developed at the General Staff, which was interested in obtaining accurate data on the German rear defense lines south-west of Stalingrad, on the reserves of the German command, on the plans of the Germans in connection with the advance of the Red Army, etc.
Military intelligence was actively extracting information about political intrigues that were woven by the leadership of fascist Germany. Of particular concern in Moscow was the fact that Germany actively tried to persuade Japan to launch a war against the USSR in the Far East. It was known that German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop was actively negotiating with the Japanese on this issue, convincing them of the need for Japan to enter the war against the USSR. Ribbentrop assured Hitler and the Wehrmacht command that Japan would start a war against the Soviet Union. Japan’s entry into the war on the German side was supposed to ensure the successful conduct of hostilities for the German armies to seize the Caucasus and access to the Volga throughout its length.
Ribbentrop made every effort to convince the Japanese ambassador in Berlin of the need to fulfill allied obligations, and not to wait for this auspicious moment.
Ribbentrop knew that the ambassador carefully recorded all his statements and sent them to Tokyo. The Foreign Minister of Germany would like to know, but did not know what comments the Ambassador was accompanying his messages. Ribbentrop also did not know that the content of his talks with the Japanese ambassador and his comments on the German proposals are becoming known to the British military intelligence. The German Foreign Minister could not have imagined that the content of his talks with the Japanese ambassador Oshima was also known to the Soviet military intelligence, who immediately reported them
I.V. Stalin, V.M. Molotov, often – G.К. Zhukov and the Chief of General Staff A.M. Vasilevsky.
There are several myths surrounding the success of British intelligence that revealed the secret of the Enigma encryption machine. One of them is that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who believed that the Russian General Staff allegedly had German spies, was afraid to pass on information to Stalin that the British interpretation service received. It was hard to say whether Churchill thought so or not. But the fact that, despite the allied obligations, he really did not convey to the Soviet leadership the important information obtained by British intelligence is not a myth, but the truth.
For over fifty years, Soviet military intelligence kept the facts secret, which add a few essential touches to the legends around the German Enigma. We have already spoken about one of them. At the end of 1942, the scientific group of the GRU decryption service revealed the possibility of decrypting German telegrams encrypted with the Enigma machine. That is what it says in the submission for awarding orders to a group of officers of the interpretive military intelligence service, which was signed by the GRU chief, General I. Ilyichev on November 29, 1942. 14 officers were presented for awards : Colonel Malyshev FP, Lieutenant Colonel Tyumenev A.A. and captain Yatsenko A.F. – to the Order of the Red Banner; Major II Ukhanov, Rank 3 military engineers, M.S. Odnorobov and Baranov A.I., as well as captain Shmelev A.I. – to the Order of the Red Star. Other officers were awarded.
The second fact, which significantly complements the history of the Enigma, is also associated with Soviet military intelligence. The fact is that during the years of the Second World War, the GRU had a valuable source in the British military department. He obtained access to the data of the decryption service and transmitted them to the Soviet intelligence officer. In Moscow, this agent had the operational pseudonym ‘Dolly’. In London, his work led the military intelligence officer ‘Bilton’.
In 1942, Dolly transmitted to Bilton 25 to 38 decoded German, Japanese and Turkish radiograms. By that time, British military intelligence was able to unravel the diplomatic and military codes not only of Germany, but of Japan and Turkey.
The data from Dolly was received in such quantity that they forced the resident military intelligence in London, Brion, to contact the Centre with such an unusual request : ‘I ask you to evaluate the Dolly reports. Allow them to be sent by regular mail, so as not to download the radio. Your plans for information these materials are not provided. I ask to give an instruction on the tasks of ‘Dolly’. ‘Brion.’
A day later, the resident ‘Brion’ received the following instructions from the Centre : ‘The data ‘Dolly’ is very valuable. They must be sent in full. Let ‘Dolly’ give more of this material. Strengthen security measures and conspiracy during meetings with Dolly. Director.’
Why did the head of the GRU react to the ‘materials’ of ‘Dolly’?
First, because this agent conveyed to the Soviet military intelligence the contents of all the important negotiations that Ribbentrop held with the Axis ambassadors. Thus, the political intentions of the German leadership became the property of not only Churchill, but also of Stalin. The data received from Dolly was taken into account when conducting foreign policy actions in the USSR.
Secondly, ‘Dolly’ transmitted the content of many orders that the Hitlerite command from Berlin sent to its generals operating at Stalingrad and in the Caucasus direction. Reports of ‘Dolly’ came to Moscow and to the German headquarters on the Eastern Front, one might say, at the same time.
On November 16, ‘Dolly’ met with ‘Bilton’ and reported that ‘the reports intercepted by the British from Berlin indicate that, perhaps,
The 11th Army of Manstein will not be used on the central sector of the Eastern Front, where it is currently located, but in its southern sector.’
On November 30, ‘Dolly’ conveyed the content of Goering’s order, according to which ‘all air forces in the Stalingrad region will be thrown into the arc of the Don River to bombard the concentration of Soviet troops near Pavlovsk, especially in the area of the 8th Hungarian and 9th Italian armies.’ In the same report, it was said that ‘Field Marshal Manstein took command of the Don group of armies on November 27.’
These and other reports of Dolly, which pointed to the specific situation of the German troops surrounded at Stalingrad, warned the Soviet command about possible actions of German aviation and were undoubtedly very useful and valuable.
With the Allies USSR on the anti-Hitler coalition in London and Washington gambling dice, and in Moscow, preferred chess. Stalin had to convince both London and Washington of the need for the speedy opening of a second front. But this long-awaited front was opened by the allies of the USSR in the anti-Hitler coalition only in mid-1944. This battle, of course, had nothing to do with the Battle of Stalingrad and other victories of the Red Army. ‘Dolly’, ‘Gano’, ‘Expert’ and other disinterested assistants of military intelligence of the Red Army are related to the Battle of Stalingrad. They were not clear secret diplomatic battles that were fought at the time. They sincerely wanted to help Russia in its struggle against German fascism. They wanted and helped.
Since 1942, the Main Intelligence Directorate guided the actions of military intelligence. It was planned to create 158 reconnaissance groups with a total of 780 scouts in the enemy’s rear, throw 68 sabotage groups (325 people) into the Soviet-occupied territory of the USSR in April-May 1942, 53 small sabotage groups in each of them to be by 3-5 people. It was planned to send at least 5 terrorist groups to the rear of the Germans for the elimination in large cities of representatives of the power of invaders and traitors to the Motherland.
Not all of these plans have been fulfilled. During the period from February 20 to July 31, 1942, the GRU threw 54 subversive groups of 260 people into the rear of the Germans. Most of these groups (32) were composed of radio operators, which significantly improved the quality of control over their actions in the German rear.
GRU officers were sent to most of the intelligence departments of the fronts and armies of the north-western and southern sectors with the aim of assisting in organising enemy intelligence and intelligence work.
In 1942, practically all large partisan formations and detachments were sent by experienced military intelligence officers from the central military intelligence apparatus. As a rule, they became deputy commanders of partisan reconnaissance detachments, had radio contact with Moscow, and followed the instructions of the Centre to disrupt military transportation from Germany, Hungary and other countries to the Eastern Front. Many of the military intelligence officers operating as part of partisan units became Heroes of the Soviet Union. One of them was Fyodor Kravchenko, the legendary intelligence officer who became the commander of the partisan Bohun squad.
In the period of the Battle of Stalingrad, military intelligence did not weaken activity on other sectors of the Eastern Front. Its employees worked hard in the Karelian and Leningrad directions, in Transcaucasia and in the Far East. Everywhere, where there was a real threat to the security of our country, military intelligence officers were dozens and sometimes hundreds of kilometers ahead of the troops of the active army, their hard and dangerous work ensuring success in battles with an insidious and still strong opponent.
___________________________ missing __________________________
In October 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, the GRU General Staff was subjected to another reorganisation. The main intelligence service was separated from the General Staff and directly subordinated to I.V. Stalin – People’s Commissar of Defense. The main tasks of the Main Intelligence Agency in 1943 and the subsequent war years were in the organisation and maintenance of agent intelligence abroad and in the Soviet territories temporarily occupied by the Germans.
1942 was the most tragic and most successful period in the history of Soviet military intelligence. In a fierce confrontation with German counterintelligence, which resulted in the arrest and execution of several military intelligence officers and anti-fascists who helped them, our military intelligence was able to timely obtain information about the strategic plans of the German command to conduct war on the Eastern Front, determined the direction of the main attack of the enemy, revealed the composition and the means of the German groups and their allies, and thus contributed to the defeat of a large group of German troops near Stalingrad.
Sixty years have passed since fierce battles were fought in the bend of the Volga and the Don. It has long been destroyed by the fascist regime in Germany. There is no longer a USSR, a country whose army, at the cost of incredible efforts, drove the invaders from our land and helped the peoples of Europe to free themselves from the fascist yoke. But the exploits of Soviet soldiers, including military intelligence officers and their dedicated assistants, did not disappear in the depths of time. New facts about the activities of domestic military intelligence convince us that on the secret front of the General Staff of the Red Army, including in a particularly difficult, crucial 1942, our intelligence surpassed the German special services, won an unconditional victory over them. Its contribution to the common victory over the enemy is great and priceless.
Secret Intelligence Service
Red Star. Soviet Military Intelligence
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Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum