Stalin and Red Army Chiefs of Staff Meeting , 5 January 1942

On late evening of 5 January 1942 , a sizable group of generals and high ranking officxials arrived for the meeting in Stalin’s office at Kremlin. Red Army Chief of General Staff Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov , sketched out an astonishing planthat concocted against his better judgement. Five large scale offensives would be launched simulteniously from Leningrad , two twin attacks on either side of Moscow axis , an offensive to recapture Donets basin in Ukraine and another one to get Crimea back along Black Sea coast. These blows supposedly would put Germans flight out of Soviet Union.

When Shaposhnikov had finished his presentation Stalin , spoke to dispel any doubts about his position was “The Germans are in disarray as a result of their defeat at Moscow” he stated. “They are poorly fitted out for the winter. This is the most favorable time for the transition to a general offensive”

When Stalin asked his opnion , General Georgi Zhukov replied that he was in favor of continuing his attacks on Moscow front if sufficient troops and tanks could be supplied but he pronounced other offensive operatiıons were much too ambitious with men and materiel on hand. “Without artillery support” he asserted “they will be ground down and suffer heavy losses” (not to say unjustifiable waste of lives) Despite support of Chairman of State Planning and Soviet War Production Nikolai Voznesessky in favor of Zhukov , Stalin already made his decision. "We must grind Germans down with all possible speed so they can not attack in the spring" concluded Soviet dictator , a view heavly endorsed by Georgy Malenkov the top political commissar (and later sucessor of Stalin) and Lavrenti Beria , head of NKVD. Stalin asked any further comments , there were none “This ends the discussion” said Stalin and the meeting broke up.

When after the meeting Zhukov said to Marshal Shaposhnikov that there was actual no discussion , Shaposhnikov agreed but added “It was foolish to argue. The Boss already had decided. The directives were already sent to all fronts and the offensives will start soon”

“Well then why Stalin asked me to give my opinion ?” growled Zhukov.

“I just do not know old fellow” Shaposhnikov replied. “I just do not know”