Operation Kremlin

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Operation Kremlin (Fall Kreml in German) was a successful German deception operation against Soviet forces in May-June 1942.

After German troops captured the city of Kharkov in October 1941, the German High Command planned an offensive to destroy the Soviet forces toward the southern sector of the Eastern Front. To divert the attention of the Soviets from that thrust (which would lead to the Battle of Stalingrad), on May 29, 1942, the High Command ordered "the earliest possible resumption of the attack on Moscow" by Army Group Centre.

Two factors made Operation Kremlin plausible to the Soviet High Command (the Stavka): first, it coincided with Soviet thinking — which the Germans did not know; second, its premise — to simulate a repeat of the late 1941 drive to Moscow — had a firm foundation. In fact, it arguably made more strategic sense than the actual offensive (Operation Blau), which was directed at the oil fields in southern Russia. The directive given to the Army Group, which assigned two panzer divisions the identical missions that they had received in the previous autumn, could have been taken for the real thing, even those German officers who were in the know, and most of them were kept in the dark, which even made it more believable.

As part of Operation Kremlin, the Luftwaffe increased reconnaissance flights over and around Moscow, officers in charge of prisoner-of-war interrogations were given lists of questions to ask regarding Moscow's defenses, and sealed packets of Moscow maps were distributed down to regimental level. A readiness date of August 1 was planned.

Although postwar Soviet accounts insisted Operation Kremlin had failed, the Soviet High Command and the General Staff were in fact misled by the deception; Joseph Stalin and top Soviet generals had no doubt that the Germans would launch another offensive on Moscow in mid-1942. On June 28, Operation Blau began.

References[edit]

Ziemke, Earl F. and Magna E. Bauer. Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987.