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Liveblogging World War II: August 10, 1942

Stephen Fritz:

H-Net Reviews: Since the Wehrmacht had been unable to assemble the necessary forces by the time Blue was to start, the Army High Command (OKH) designed a complicated, staggered operation in which each phase had a specific goal, thus setting the stage for the achievement of the next step in the plan. The initial phase aimed at seizing the city of Voronezh, just east of the Don, which would allow flank protection to the forces advancing to the east (it also, in the event, sparked furious Soviet counterattacks, since German forces could easily turn north toward Moscow, as anticipated by Stalin). In the next stage, German forces would move south along the Don to trap and annihilate the bulk of Soviet forces in the region. Having accomplished this, the Germans would then leap across the land bridge between the Don and Volga to neutralize (but not necessarily take) Stalingrad. The city itself was not only a major river port for lend-lease supplies, but also a key center of tank production. As German planners had noted, however, there was no particular reason that it had to be entered; indeed, Hitler himself had dismissed the idea, pointing out that the city could easily be destroyed from the air, while a German presence anywhere on the Volga would disrupt river traffic….

From early August, events took on a cast of inevitability. With insufficient resources, the German drive into the Caucasus petered out against stiffening Soviet resistance. Against a backdrop of mounting frustration and increasing awareness that he was losing a race against time, Hitler urged his generals in the Caucasus on, even as, now cognizant of the importance of neutralizing the Stalingrad region, he transferred units away from Army Group A to feed the growing monster on the Volga...