At the moment of crisis in 1941 on the Eastern front, with the forces of Hitler massing on the outskirts of Moscow, the miraculous occurred: Moscow was saved. Yet this turning point was followed by a long retreat, in which Russian forces, inspired by old beliefs in the sacred motherland, pushed back German forces steeled by the vision of the ubermensch, the iron-willed fighter. Many of Russia's 27 million military and civilian deaths occurred in this desperate struggle.
In THE RETREAT, Michael Jones, acclaimed author of LENINGRAD, draws upon a mass of new eye-witness testimony from both sides of the conflict to tell, with matchless vividness and comprehensiveness, of the crucial turning point of the Second World War - the moment when the armies of Hitler could go no further - and of the titanic and cruel struggle of two mighty empires.
Jones's earlier Leningrad and Stalingrad established this British military historian's skill in conveying the human dimensions of the Russo-German War. His new narrative addresses the German sweep through Russia in the summer of 1941, its defeat at the gates of Moscow by a rejuvenated Red Army, and the massive Soviet counterattack that pushed the Wehrmacht to the edge of destruction. Jones makes a convincing case that the Fuehrer's "stand fast" order in December 1941 entailed unnecessary losses. Retreat, he argues, did not inevitably mean collapse. The point remains debatable. But there is no question of Jones's success presenting, in their own words, the growing conviction of the Germans doing the fighting that Barbarossa had been a compound mistake. "Does no one realize what it is like here?" asked one bewildered corps commander. Across the battle line, six months of atrocities demonstrated to the Russian people that whatever was wrong with the U.S.S.R., the Germans were not the solution. "I vowed to kill as many of them as possible," wrote one Soviet junior officer. His words are an epigram for an apocalyptic war, perceptively evoked here. 8 pages of b&w photos; 3 maps.