Russian WWII Offensive of 1941

It was devastatingly cold in the Russian winter of 1941,
during the peak of the German offensive against Moscow. Just as it
had Napoleon's armies in the century before, the Russian winter
conditions had stopped the advance on Moscow. Hitler had not planned
on a winter war, and thus had not properly equipped his troop
frostbite, and thousands of them died of exposure. Indeed, it was this
biting winter which had provided the Russians with an opportunity to
gather themselves, and prepare for one of the most heroic
counter-offensives of World War II - known to the Russian people as
"The Great Patriotic War."
It would be wrong to attribute the German failure at this time
solely to the harsh winter; the main failure was that of misjudgment
and mistiming. The offensive had been launched too late in the year,
at a season where the weather was due to break up. The Germans had
underestimated the effects of the harsh weather and terrain on their
motorized units, and had poorly rationed their resources - too much
had been asked of the German troops, and strengths had been allowed to
drop too low.
Despite a few more victories by German forces in November and
December, they would never again subeztially advance into the areas
surrounding Moscow. On October 28th, the German 3 Panzer group, under
the command of Field-Marshal Von Kluge, had again tried to penetrate
into the northern area of Kalinin, and failed. Hitler called in 9
Army to join the 3 Panzer, and moved them towards the northeast area
above Moscow. Russian resiezce had been uneven, but in the front of
Tula and on the Nara, where new formations were arriving, it had been
the most determined and tough. The Red Army had fallen back to within
forty miles of Moscow, but was sustained by massive Muscovite power, a
continuing flow of troops to the front line.
During the months of October and November, nine new Russian
armies had been trained, and were being deployed throughout the
fronts. Two complete armies and parts of another three were to reach
the Moscow area towards the end of November. Many of the divisions in
these armies were raised from newly inducted recruits, but some were
well trained and equipped and had been withdrawn from the military
districts in Central Russia, and Siberia.
In October and early November, a few German battalions still
fighting had brought all Red Army motor vehicles (except tanks) to a
stop, and the Russian Quarter-master-General Khrulev, was forced to
switch his troops to horses and carts. He was criticized by both his
own troops and Stalin, but was granted permission to form 76 horse
transport battalions. The problems caused by the transport shortage
and weather were recognized by the Soviet High Command, and fuel
refills were sent to the front lines. Defenses were restored and
thickened up, and Moscow awaited the second stage of the German
offensive, which is described in detail in the German Offensive
section of this report. By November however, German casualties had
reached 145,000 troops.
The German position in the South, between Tula and Voronezh
was both confusing and disquieting, as on October 26, German 2 Panzer
leader Guderian had suddenly been attacked by the renewed Russian
forces on the east flank, and was fighting to hold his ground. The 2
Panzer had been meant to surround Moscow, but was so weak in armor,
and with the addition of several infantry corps, its mobile strength
was greatly decreased.
As the German drive against Moscow slackened, the Soviet
commander on the Moscow front, General Georgy Koneztinovich Zhukov,
on December 6 inaugurated the first great counteroffensive with
strokes against Bock's right in the Elets (Yelets) and Tula sectors
south of Moscow and against his center in the Klin and Kalinin sectors
to the northwest. Levies of Siberian troops, who were extremely
effective fighters in cold weather, were used for these offensives.
There followed a blow at the German left, in the Velikie Luki sector;
and the counteroffensive, which was sustained throughout the winter of
1941-42, soon took the form of a triple convergence toward Smolensk.
Before the end of the year Kinzel (the head of the Foreign
Armies East intelligence), was to issue a rewrite of the German Army
handbook on the Soviet Armed forces which