5 December: The Day of the Beginning of the Counteroffensive by the Soviet Forces in the Battle of Moscow
On this day in Russia, 5 December, we mark a “Day of Military Glory of Russia”; the counterattack by Soviet troops at the Battle of Moscow began on this day. The counterattack, the second phase of the battle of Moscow, started on 5-6 December 1941, with the Kalinin Front hitting Yeltsa. The fighting immediately became bitter and furious. In the early days of the offensive, despite a lack of superiority in manpower and equipment, and despite below-zero temperatures and deep snow cover, the troops on the left-wing and right-wing of the Western Front smashed the fascist defences south of Kalinin, cut highway and rail links to Kalinin, and liberated many towns from the enemy. Simultaneously, troops of the Southwestern Front attacked northwest of Moscow. The Red Army hit the flanks of the fascist Army Group Centre grouped around Moscow, forcing the enemy to regroup and to take measures to save its troops from a débâcle.
On 8 December, Hitler signed a directive to transition to the defence all along the Soviet-German front. Army Group Centre received orders “to retain strategically important areas at any cost”. On 9 December, the Soviet troops liberated Rogachevo, Venev, and Yelets. On 11 December, they freed Stalinogorsk, on 12 December, they cleared Solnechnogorsk, on 13 December, they liberated Yefremov, on 15 December, they entered Klin, on 16 December, they took Kalinin, and 20 December, they occupied Volokolamsk. On 25 December, on a broad front, Soviet troops advanced to Oka. On 28 December, they liberated Kozelsk, on 30 December, they took Kaluga, and in early January 1942, they freed Meshchovsk and Mosalsk.
By the beginning of January 1942, the armies of the right-wing of the Western Front reached the banks of the Lama and Ruza Rivers. By that time, the troops of the Kalinin Front reached Pavlikovo and Staritsa. The troops of the Western Front, in the centre, liberated Naro-Fominsk on 26 December, they freed Maloyaroslavets on 2 January, and entered Borovsk on 4 January. There were also successful counterattacks on the left-wing of the Western Front and by the Bryansk Front (re-established on 18 December 1941, with the 3, 13 and 61 Armies; commanded by General Ya T Cherevichenko, A F Kolobyakov as head commissar, and Major General V Ya Kolpakchy as Chief of Staff). By early January 1942, the Bryansk Front, cooperating with the forces of the left-wing of the Western Front, reached Belev, Mtsensk, and Verkhovye. All this has created a serious situation for the fascist Army Group Centre; it removed the threat looming over Moscow.
The victory of the Soviet troops near Moscow and the beginning of the counteroffensive not only had great military significance, it also had political and international Importance. For the first time in World War II, someone stopped the hitherto-invincible Wehrmacht and defeated it. Today, the date of 5 December is another reason to remember the heroes of that war…
5 December 2016