Germans Surrender Near Moscow

Four Germans, led by a man with a safe-conduct pass, surrender to Soviet Red Army soldiers outside Moscow in November 1942. The Soviets have Mosin-Nagant rifles, a PPsH submachine gun, and RGD-33 Stick Grenades. Note the Germans lack winter camouflage. While "Passierschein" (Pass or Permit) were so widely encountered on the Western Front that the Germans decided to make their own parody, quarter was rarely asked for or given on the Eastern Front. Both the Germans and the Soviets would interrogate captives and then shoot them, if they were taken at all. This photo, taken just before or during Operation Mars, shows the harsh winter conditions both sides had to operate under. Marshal Georgy K. Zhukov (December 1, 1896 - June 18, 1974) committed 688,000 men and 2000 tanks to push the Germans back from Rzhev, an occupied village that formed a salient allowing the Germans to threaten Moscow. Zhukov planned the assault to begin at the same time Operation Uranus took place; that operation planned to encircle the German 6th Army at Stalingrad and relieve the Soviet 62nd Army. Zhukov hoped with the Germans committed in both theatres, he could push the Germans aside and run deep into Army Group Center's rear area. However, the Germans were entrenched, and Operation Mars turned into a series of human wave assaults. Some 100,000 Soviets were killed by the time Operation Mars was called off in January 1943. However, the loss of Stalingrad forced the Germans to pull back, and Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge (October 30, 1882 - August 19, 1944) convinced Reichsklanzler (Reichchancellor) Adolf Hitler to abandon the Rzhev salient in March 1943 because of the need to withdraw to ordered battle lines. This withdrawal relieved Moscow of the concern that the city would be occupied during the war. Zhukov, who had successfully managed so many campaigns for Premier Josef Stalin, had this campaign expunged from the record. Instead of an equal offensive with Operation Uranus, it became a minor footnote, a supporting operation, until post-war researchers like David M. Glantz uncovered Zhukov's original battle plan.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, November 1, 1942
Tver Oblast
Soviet Union