Thursday, May 14, 2015

Battles of Rzhev 1942-1943

Students in 9th grade history are learning about the rise of the dictators and World War II.

They will be studying the major battles of World War II. One of the great titanic group of battles occurred on the Eastern front.   This group of battles was called the Rzhev meat grinder.  It covered a large tract of land that was virtually destroyed by end of the conflict.

Only 150 civilian inhabitants were left in the area of the former population of 56,000 was left.  The death toll for the Soviets numbered in the hundreds of thousands--around 450,000 at best estimates.  On the Soviet side, many of the troops were young and inexperienced.  There were continual accounts of slaughter of young recruits.

The area was called the "meat grinder."   The assaults resulted in many changes of command as leaders were fired, replaced, or even rehired.    

The Rzhev battles were important:  they drew off vital forces from the Stalingrad conflict and the end result was the eventual retreat of Germany from Russian territory.  The losses of the Soviet Union surpass any other nation in the history of the world: conservative estimates are 25 million military and civilian deaths. 

The death toll led to the formation of the Cold War.Russia justified its occupation of Eastern Europe as just compensation for its losses in the war.