The sheer scope of the battle of Moscow was exceptional. Both sides committedmore than a million men to the battle; the Red Army also lost nearly a millionmen, but still the German forces were halted. This indicates the resources, andthe importance, assigned to the battle by the two dictators. We hope the readerwill enjoy our description and analysis of this important chapter in the history.
In the evening of September 26, 1941 it dawned upon German army surgeonHermann Türk that the day had been remarkable. He had not heard a single shotfired in anger, nor a single bursting shell or bomb. While he had of courseexperienced many such days previously in his life, they had been all too raresince June 22, when the 3rd Panzer Division had crossed the border betweenGermany and the Soviet Union.1As an army surgeon, Türk was not expected to participate in combat, but he wasassigned to one of the division’s four motorized infantry battalions. This meantthat he was seldom far from the action and quite often found himself in the frontline assisting with the evacuation of wounded soldiers. During the past threemonths, the division had suffered 4,375 casualties, of which around three-quarters were wounded. The vast majority of these casualties had been incurredby the four infantry battalions and Türk had had to patch up many soldiers sothey could be evacuated west to medical facilities.2As the 3rd Panzer Division had been one of the spearheads in Panzer Group 2,which was commanded by Colonel General Heinz Guderian, Türk had travelledmany kilometers on Soviet roads. After crossing the border south of Brest-Litovsk, the division had dashed east. Bobruisk had fallen to the 3rd PanzerDivision on June 28, after an advance of more than 400km. The fluid Germanoperations continued and the 3rd Panzer Division crossed the Dnepr after hardfighting. Later, Türk and his comrades participated in the large encirclementoperation near Kiev. This time, Türk’s division was one of the spearheads of thenorthern pincer.The Kiev battle resulted in the encirclement of a huge Soviet force in Septemberand eventually more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers marched into German captivity.However, with every passing day, the autumn drew nearer. The encirclementoperation was hardly over when the 3rd Panzer Division began to regroup in anortheasterly direction. On September 25, Türk reached the area where thedivision would rest and refit. He was assigned suitable quarters in a village but hehad to evacuate them after a few hours, as partisans were believed to be activethere. Under cover of darkness, his unit moved to another village and spent mostof September 26 on maintenance. To the great delight of many soldiers, amailbag arrived from Germany and letters from parents, fiancées, and other