5 December 2011, 15:33

Battle of Moscow: crumble of Nazi legend

Battle of Moscow: crumble of Nazi legend

The Battle of Moscow, which took place 70 years ago, on December 5th 1941, marked a special chapter in the history of the Great Patriotic War waged on the territory of Russia and the Second World War.

The Battle of Moscow, which took place 70 years ago, on December 5th 1941, marked a special chapter in the history of the Great Patriotic War waged on the territory of Russia and the Second World War. After easily marching through a string of European countries for two years, the Nazi army suffered a crushing defeat at the approaches to Moscow. The legend of the Wehrmacht’s invincibility crumbled in one day. The Voice of Russia’s Mikhail Aristov has more details.

The Battle of Moscow marked a turning point in the course of the Second World War. Mikhail Myagkov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, comments:

"The Nazi army sustained irreparable damage. Never had it suffered such losses before, in Western Europe or on the Eastern front. A number of top Nazi generals said after the Battle of Moscow that a defeat of the Soviet Union was beyond their means and the military conflict had to be settled through negotiations. Enraged Hitler sacked many of his generals following the battle, which put an end to a string of spectacular Nazi victories in Europe. The advance of the Nazis came to an abrupt halt and the Nazi army had to turn back."

During their counteroffensive on December 5th and 6th the Soviet troops commanded by General Georgy Zhukov liberated more than 11,000 towns and villages. The Nazis lost about 500,000 men, 1,300 tanks, 2,500 guns and over 15,000 vehicles and other pieces of military hardware. Nazi tribunals indicted about 62,000 soldiers and officers for deserting their positions and relieved 35 top officers of their duties.

The snow-covered fields in the Moscow Region were studded with crippled Nazi weapons and military equipment. Mikhail Myagkov says that this was an unforgettable sight:

"A film titled “The Defeat of Nazi troops near Moscow” came out in 1942. Later, it was slightly changed, supplied with a voiceover in English and won an Academy Award as the best documentary in 1942."

Moscow is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the battle by hosting veteran reunions, concerts and exhibitions, spokesman for the Moscow City Hall, Pavel Bolshunov, says:

"About 15,000 volunteers will take part in the so-called Decade of Good from December 5th to the 15th . They will groom wartime burials and accompany war veterans to festivities."

In accordance with Russian tradition, an Orthodox church will be built on the site of the battle near the village of Kryukovo. Every brick going into the church will be provided with a medallion bearing the name of a soldier killed during the Battle of Moscow.

Years after the war, Marshall Georgy Zhukov wrote: “When they ask me which of the military operations I’d single out, I say: the Battle of Moscow. I express my deep gratitude to those who survived the battle and I bow low in commemoration  of those who fought up to the last ditch to stop the enemy from getting to the heart of our Motherland, the Hero-City of Moscow. We are in irredeemable debt to the heroes who defended Moscow against the enemy”.

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