Black October of 1941: truth and falsehood about the Moscow Panic

The events that took place in our capital in the very middle of autumn of the first year of the Great Patriotic War were always one of the least favorite subjects for official Soviet historiography. And, of course, starting from the bad “perestroika” years, they turned into the favorite topic of the domestic liberal “party”, who adored with the same sadomasochistic pleasure to paint all the most negative moments of that war, while mercilessly turning over them, exaggerating and raising them to an excellent degree any horror and vileness, passing them off as the main essence of the distant fateful days. Well, all the more it is necessary to recall the “black October” of Moscow, objectively and frankly conducting a conversation, including about far from heroic moments - so that there is less room for liars and vilifiers.

Under the blow of the Typhoon

It cannot be said that the tragic days that the capital survived on October 15-19, 1941 (namely, this period is commonly called the “Moscow Panic”) were so secret behind seven seals. They, for example, are quite frankly, albeit briefly, reflected in Konstantin Simonov’s novel, Living and Dead, which I personally consider to be one of the best and most truthful books about the Great Patriotic War. Another thing is that the absolute majority of real eyewitnesses and participants simply avoided talking about them. So normal people try to bypass memories that bring not just pain, but also shame ... The most terrible, by all accounts, was October 16, the brief moment when Moscow and Muscovites really flinched, succumbed to a skillfully provoked panic, when some simply chickened out, while others fell into real madness. However, before speaking about this date, we certainly need to restore the terrible events that preceded it, which became the reason for what happened subsequently. First of all, the situation at the front, inexorably approaching the very heart of our country. The situation at the forefront at that time was not only serious and unfavorable for our troops, but, perhaps, catastrophic. To many, she seemed completely hopeless. Alas, there were certain grounds for such assessments ...

In the last days of September, the Wehrmacht launched the Typhoon on the Red Army - an operation began, the purpose of which was to capture Moscow and completely defeat our troops on the central section of the Soviet-German front. 78 divisions, numbering a total of about 2 million people, among them - three tank groups, three armored fists aimed at the "blitzkrieg" ... All this power was opposed by the extremely exhausted, largely disorganized and demoralized heavy summer battles of the Red Army. The fall of the Eagle, the Vyazemsky and Bryansk "cauldrons", the death and capture of hundreds of thousands of people - it seemed that nothing could stop the rink of Hitler’s armada rushing towards the capital. And yet, albeit at the cost of tremendous, absolutely exorbitant losses, our heroic grandfathers and great-grandfathers, detaining the “supermen” where for a day, for two, and where for only an hour, still allowed other units and formations to gain a foothold in new borders, in order to stop the invaders rushing forward with the same last effort. Alas, the Mozhaisk defensive line, in spite of the completely inhuman efforts exerted by the people who were tearing at its construction, was ready, at most, by half. And the troops standing on it were extremely small and were already at the limit of their strength ... In the battle, often literally “off the wheels”, all reserves were thrown: divisions of the People’s Militia, cadets of military schools, spare parts. The advancing Germans cut the railway lines and highways one by one. On October 12, the Nazis took Kaluga, 14 - Kalinin and Borovsk. To Moscow they had only a few tens of kilometers. It was terrifying October 15th ...

The blackest day

To say how some “researchers” persistently do that everything that was happening for the country's leadership was “thunder from a clear sky”, which plunged it into a “stupor” and almost into a panic, it would be at least incorrect. The evacuation of metropolitan enterprises (primarily defense) was launched on October 10. Two days later, a decision is made to create the Moscow defense line. The flight of the leaders of the party, government and army from Belokamennaya? He was not there either. Yes, on October 15, GKO Decree No. 801 "On the Evacuation of the Capital of the USSR of Moscow" was adopted. Employees of foreign diplomatic missions, members of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, leaders and employees of most government bodies went from the capital to the East. Yes, many objects in the capital (including the metro) were preparing for an explosion. Underground sabotage groups were hastily created throughout the city and the region, hiding places with weapons and equipment for them were being prepared. Yes, the Kremlin considered any options for the further development of events. Well, shouldn't have been ?! Everything was too menacing in those days, too vaguely. However, certain errors were made. The first of them, in my opinion, was that the decision mentioned above was secret, that is, it was not announced, and, most importantly, it was not explained to the huge number of people in the city. However, in terms of the scale of actions that were immediately taken to execute it, it simply could not go unnoticed.

The informational “vacuum” inevitably had to generate rumors, confusion, disbelief, panic. All this hit the city. Here, without a doubt, another mistake made itself known. Rather, a flaw. As with the huge number of refugees that had accumulated by that time in Moscow, and in other ways, a significant number of enemy agents penetrated there, from professionals in inciting mass riots to outright saboteurs. According to the recollections of many eyewitnesses, the vast majority of pogroms, robberies, and similar things broke out not spontaneously, but as if under someone else's "sensitive guidance". Surely, that is exactly how it was. There was, however, another thing - “responsible workers” and executives who threw the enterprises and organizations entrusted to them and ran in the seized office vehicles where they look (and it’s good if they don’t “gut” the treasury box beforehand), maddened crowds carrying shops and warehouses, long columns of people leaving the city with their uncomplicated belongings, not even clearly understanding where and why they were wandering ... According to many, one of the “triggers” that engulfed the bedlam city was that October 16, for the first time in the memory of Moscow ichi, the metro station doors did not open. However, the stop of the rest of public transport, the closed doors of shops, canteens, a post office and telegraph, the complete silence of the city leadership, did not add calm to Muscovites. The panic widened and gained momentum.

End of chaos

Order began to recover just the next day. According to the memoirs of trustworthy participants in those events, the same Alexei Shakhurin, who was then the People’s Commissar of the aviation industry, Stalin personally ordered the 16th to immediately resume transport in Moscow, the work of trade and public catering enterprises, as well as medical institutions. When he was openly informed of what was happening in the city, Joseph Vissarionovich said:

Well, nothing ... I thought it would be worse.

On October 17, metro trains started again (escalators disassembled at some stations were restored at an accelerated pace), shops opened, and finally the police began to clean up the streets. On the same day, the first secretary of the Moscow regional party committee Alexander Shcherbakov and the head of the executive committee of the Moscow Soviet Vasily Pronin spoke on the radio, reassuring the townspeople with the main words:

The capital will not be surrendered to the enemy under any circumstances! We will defend the city to the last!

These were exactly the words that everyone was waiting for. The most ridiculous rumors instantly subsided, such as that "the Germans were already seen on Poklonnaya Gora", "the Red Army was being withdrawn from the city", or that "Stalin had long been in Kuibyshev." In parallel, enterprises began to open, which suddenly closed on the 16th, naturally, without any explanation of the reasons for ordinary workers. City life began to enter the familiar, normal track.

And yet, nothing has yet ended. The Wehrmacht was still eager for Moscow and the forces of its bleeding defenders were still melting. On October 18, the Nazis captured Mozhaysk and Maloyaroslavets. Enemy raids did not stop either night or day. However, there was no question of any evacuation and departure from the capital! The State Defense Committee adopts a new resolution: on the introduction of a state of siege in Moscow. The city is divided into three lines of defense and begins to prepare for street battles: "grow" barricades, concrete gouges, anti-tank "hedgehogs." A curfew is being introduced. Violators of order awaits the trial of a military tribunal, and spies, provocateurs and "other enemy agents" are now ordered to simply be shot on the spot, generally without any trial or investigation ... Dragon measures? Cruelty? In another way, the capital simply could not be held. Surely, if GKO were the first to accept this document, there would have been no “rainy day" on October 16th. In any case, this decision did not cause any panic; on the contrary, it rallied the Muscovites even more and strengthened their determination to stand their own city for death. And the NKVD made it possible to instantly clean up the city both from Nazi agents and from unbelievable criminals who had made a considerable “contribution” to the unrest and atrocities that took place on the streets for several days. However, in the opinion of many historians (including those who do not have a trace of sympathy for Joseph Vissarionovich), one of the main psychological factors that prevented the “brainwave” was that Stalin remained in Moscow.

What did Stalin think and what did Beria do?

All the talk that the Supreme, allegedly "was going to flee Moscow" or at least allowed the opportunity to leave her, is clearly either deliberate slander, or simply nonsense. Yes, he was persuaded, but he stubbornly stood his ground. They tried to drive up to him with the question of when to load the Kremlin regiment of security into the echelon, and he sent away and said that if necessary he would personally lead this regiment into battle. It seems to me very plausible that Stalin’s answer to the question: “What if the Germans still break through?” “Take shovels and dig graves for yourself ...” - this he could give out. However, most of all that are in circulation, either tales or genuine stories on this topic, I like the other. The one according to which Khrushchev burst into the office of the Supreme, literally in saliva and snot, yelling:

The Germans will be in Moscow in an hour!

The unflappable Stalin, silently pointing him to a chair, continued to dismantle the rubble of urgent papers on his own table. Ten minutes ... Twenty ... When exactly an hour passed, Joseph Vissarionovich called back somewhere and, after listening to a brief report, began to naturally yell at the alarmist:

Well, where are your Germans, Nikita? Where are your Germans ?!

Incidentally, in one of the options, he also beat with a telephone receiver on his bald head. Oh, what a sight! Just look at it with one eye! Was the loss of Moscow considered in principle? Here the question, of course, is more complicated. Stalin simply had to reflect on such an option. In the end, he was the head of the GKO, and not the Lord God, and could not create divisions and tank regiments from anywhere. There is no doubt about one thing - in the most terrible course of events, Stalin would have left the ruins of the capital, together with the last part that goes to the East. If I survived.

The question regarding Lavrenty Pavlovich and his department in this context is far from idle. According to many researchers who were not affected by the liberal virus, it was the NKVD units that played one of the decisive roles in the defense of the capital. Without a doubt, it was the fighters in the cornflower-blue caps that were destined to become the last shield of Moscow, lie down with bones on its streets, but stop the enemy. However, this does not mean that they "sat out" in the reserve. According to the recollections of “Soviet saboteur No. 1,” Pavel Sudoplatov, who at that time had no equal in training level of the NKVD special forces, the Separate Motorized Rifle Special Forces Brigade (OMSBON), formed in the fall of 1941 in Moscow, was transferred to the army in accordance with the decision of the Supreme High Command Headquarters. . Yes, according to the same Sudoplatov, since September Beria has forbidden him to massly throw subversive groups behind enemy lines. However, as this seasoned war ace admits, behind the front line "this decision was undoubtedly correct." Holding his special forces to the last reserve, the People's Commissar hit them at a crucial moment. OMSBON sowed horror and chaos in the orders of the advancing Nazis, not only ruthlessly destroying them, but, most importantly, disrupting the attack on the capital. The best evidence of the weight of the contribution of the Sudoplatov’s eagles to the fact that the Typhoon was exhausted and choked is the confession of Field Marshal von Bock, who wrote in his diaries that the Russians had violated the transport supply so much that “the front was deprived the most important thing for life and struggle ... "

What to add to the above? Only one thing. The events of October 16, 1941 are periodically covered by various authors. And it is right. Objectivity makes us remember even the darkest moments of our history. However, the difference lies in the approach with which this is done and what the emphasis is on. Some people today would like to expose those distant, and, of course, tragic events, as evidence that confusion, fear, panic reigned in besieged Moscow, and many of its inhabitants almost expected the speedy arrival of the Nazis. To show by the example of literally one or two days that neither the party, nor the Soviet government, nor their leaders "controlled the situation" and were ready to "leave Moscow and Muscovites to their fate." Excuse me, but this is the most complete lie! The insufficiently prepared and sometimes unsuccessful evacuation measures (and the evacuation itself, as such) is not at all a “stampede”. Moreover, it’s not “neglecting the fate of the capital and the country,” as some are trying to call it. Separate alarmists, jerkers and cowards, subsequently, by the way, for the most part, who suffered the most severe punishment for their actions - this is not the whole of Soviet power. They were convicted of their deserts, and to judge and condemn ordinary citizens who showed a minute weakness, certainly not for us, living in a calm, peaceful and well-fed time. In the absolute majority, they were persistent and courageous, selfless and fearless. If this were not so, then we would not have taken Berlin in 1945, but the Germans in Moscow in 1941 ... One can hardly object to this argument at least.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 19 October 2019 10: 00
    Life is given to a person once! Everyone knows and understands this. But in war, even among the most courageous and ideological, there are times when "their legs give way" from fear and imminent death. And here everything depends on upbringing and understanding for what. And here is a whole city. And the main merit of STALIN is that he managed to educate the country in love for the USSR and faith in the correct policy of the country's leadership. The people understood what they had to die for. They believed Stalin! And the fact that there was panic - the one who does nothing is not mistaken! Conclusion - if the EBN center was built, then STALIN definitely deserves more!
  2. Yuri Nemov Offline Yuri Nemov
    Yuri Nemov (Yuri Nemov) 20 October 2019 22: 23
    How he fenced off Stalin. All around are cowards and traitors, one "leader" is holy and infallible, there is nothing to criticize for. Before the war, the "wise helmsman", at the cost of the incredible tension of the Soviet people, was intensively preparing the country for war, and when the war began, the entire regular army was defeated in a few months, the Germans captured almost four million Red Army prisoners of war and almost paraded to Moscow. It was then that Koba yelled, they say, the war began suddenly! We didn’t expect war! ... The question arises, didn’t the leader prepare the country for war? What kind of surprise, then, if you were preparing for war? Or did you not prepare?
    1. Vitali r Offline Vitali r
      Vitali r (Vitali R) 21 October 2019 06: 44
      Paris fell in a week, Poland in a month - that's what a blitzkrieg is.
    2. Bakht Offline Bakht
      Bakht (Bakhtiyar) 22 October 2019 09: 51
      "... with a ceremonial step" ?????
      November 1941 2TA Report:

      ... the number of infantry companies fell to 70 people (with a staff of almost 200 people). Units lost their combat effectiveness.

      Halder's diary of the outbreak of war (July 1941):

      In the West, we could allow ourselves deviations from the charters. Now this is unacceptable.

      Halder's diary for January 1941:

      ... losses in the East exceeded 1 million people (30% of the outbreak of hostilities).
    3. Bitter Offline Bitter
      Bitter (Gleb) 13 January 2020 22: 50
      Before the war, the "wise helmsman", at the cost of the incredible tension of the Soviet people, was intensively preparing the country for war

      Someone built and created, and someone wrote denunciations (criticized). But in most countries, the country was rebuilding, building and developing. In Europe and the Americas at that time, too, far from everywhere porcelain toilets stood.

      What suddenness, if preparing for war?

      The army was focused on something else, as it is fashionable to say now - on the so-called "preventive defense", well, all sorts of pacts there confused cards, so it's no wonder that

      the war began suddenly! We did not expect war!

      the leader is "holy and infallible, there is nothing to criticize for.

      Even a donkey can kick a dead lion. (C)
  3. Nikolay Malyugin (Nikolai Malyugin) 13 December 2019 06: 58
    Find me a political system that could not only survive, but also win this terrible war.
  4. Kuzma Flint Offline Kuzma Flint
    Kuzma Flint (Kuzma Flint) 7 October 2020 11: 54
    A good article, only the story with Khrushchev is unlikely, of course - Iosif Vissarionovich never yelled at anyone, and even more so, did not hit the pipe on the head.