War experts: Red Army on spot, should fall back (6-29-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 29, 1941)

War experts say –
By Mack Johnson, United Press staff writer

Washington, June 28 –
A review of the world military situation by authoritative non-belligerent informants has been placed at the disposal of newsmen in Washington.

The source of the information cannot be revealed. The review included figures on the relative strength of the opposing German and Soviet Union armies and some views on the possible outcome of that phase of the war.

These are the essentials of the views presented:

The current German drive is from the Danube to the Amur, a reversal of the campaigns of Genghis Khan.

The Russians are believed to have some 165 divisions and 4,000 planes “on the line” as against 167 German divisions and 6,000 planes. In addition, there are an estimated 20 Romanian and 10 Finnish divisions. At an average of 15,000 men per division, that is 2,475,000 Russian troops against 2,505,000 German.

Russia is on the defensive with the Germans on an all-out offense. The Germans are highly trained, are directed by professional warriors, and follow safe, sound military principles. The German offensive will be aimed at destroying the enemy’s main field forces.

The main Russian forces are concentrated in the Moscow-Kiev area. The principal German offensive is directed toward that area in a thrust generally from Brest-Litovsk toward Moscow. Subsidiary drives, aimed at flanking movements, are in progress along the northern fringes of the Baltic. Little has been heard yet of the main operation.

The real Russian people and vital areas are to the west and south of the Volga. The Germans are aiming for this Volga area. The first few days and weeks may be slow.

The Russians are powerful fighters on the defense. They will take up fixed lines behind the rivers, which run north and south. But they are weak on the offense.

The Germans will try to outflank them, get behind the lines, and drive the Russians into concentrations that can be disorganized by bombing and mechanized attack.

For sometime, the Russians have been moving their vital industries back from their western frontier in anticipation of a possible attack. There is also oil available near the mouth of the Volga. Oil, industries and grain are undoubtedly subsidiary objectives of the Nazis now, but their main concern is to break the main Russian army.

If they take the oil fields now without crushing the Red Army, they could not hold them. If they destroy the army, they get the oil fields anyhow. The Urals are now the industrial area. After this comes Siberia with the 5,000-mile Trans-Siberian Railway. Anybody that can take and hold this railway has Siberia.

Both Germany and Russia are well equipped, but the Germans have the system and skill to maintain equipment. When equipment wears out or breaks, the balance of weapons will be in Germany’s favor.

The best Russian strategy in the west was to withdraw to a line running north and south through Moscow. They could have dropped back with their flanks to the mouth of the Volga River in the south and near the Arctic port of Arkhangelsk in the north.

If the Russians withdraw toward the Urals, they would give up two-thirds of the important part of their country and much of its population, but they would still have industrial facilities.

The Nazis probably have another 6,000 planes available in Germany, France and elsewhere. The Russian planes are as good in type as the German, but have not been kept up. The Russians are fine fliers, but they haven’t yet been tried for fighting ability.

The German claims of having probably eliminated a large part of Russian aviation are probably true.

Both Russians and Germans have large parachute forces. The Germans recently ordered 30,000 parachutes in France for delivery Aug. 1. They used 20,000 parachutes in Crete.

The flow of munitions from Russia to China will now cease because of Russia’s preoccupation at home. But a Russian-Japanese war is not likely now because of Japan’s commitments in China.

If the Germans defeat the main concentrated Russian army in Western Europe and drive on across Siberia, they would be within 30 miles of American Alaska outpost defenses. If this Siberian territory should go into German hands, they would have entree to the Bering Sea, and could protect themselves by a submarine line around the Aleutian area. It would be difficult for a fleet in the Pacific to dislodge them.