Barbarossa Campaign in 1941 Hungarian perspective

barba  zd2

The Axis forces were divided into three Army Groups; each Group had its territorial objectives, however, the main aim was to trap and annihilate the Red Army, preferably within 400-500 kilometers of the border, in the European part of the Soviet Union. The planning staff wanted to avoid that the Soviets might fall back deep into the interior of the country to perform a battle of attrition on the edge of Asia, in Siberia.
From our topic of interest is the Army Group South, and then commanded by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt. His Army Group aim was to destroy the Soviet forces in Galicia and Western Ukraine by a swift strike from the area of Lublin to Kiev, crossing the River Dnieper, and then advancing rapidly southeast along the River, in a single envelopment, preventing the escape of the units of the Red Army.
The Army Group South consisted of three armies along the Soviet-Polish border north and west of Lvov. The Armoured Group 1, led by General Ewald von Kleist, supported by the 6th Army, commanded by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau would strike east of Kiev. The 17th Army, under General Carl Heinrich von Stülpnagel, attacked southeast past Lvov toward Vinnitsa. The 11th Army, commanded by General Eugen Ritter von Schobert attacked out of Romanian territory to the northeast accompanied by Romanian forces. It aimed to meet the units of the 17th Army around the area of Vinnitsa.
Between the 17th and 11th German Armies laid a gap running along the mountainous terrain of the Carpathian Mountain that belonged to the then neutral Hungarian Kingdom.
The Army Group South manpower had the highest number added non-German Forces; 325000 Romanian troops, later on, augmented with 96000 Hungarian, 62000 Italian, and 45000 Slovakian soldiers.
The opposing Soviet forces were better prepared than the other Red Army units along the border. On the one hand, the Soviet planners expected in case of a German attack, the main weight of the enemy offensive south of the Pripet Marshes. So the Soviets allocated strong forces in this area. On the other hand, the local Soviet commander risked Stalin’s displeasure by ordering some defensive preparation, following the deteriorating situation in the weeks before the war started.
The Kiev Military District, under the leadership of Colonel-General Kirponos, was responsible for manning the 940km long line of defense. The Soviet troops were deployed in four armies, from north to south the 5th, 6th, 26th, and 12th Armies. The 12th Soviet Army was located on the Soviet-Hungarian border, from Borislav to Kamenyec-Podolszk. The Soviet Southwest Front had 907.000 men in arms. The armored fist of the Soviet forces consisted of eight mechanized corps.
The German attacks meet stiff resistance on the River Bug and in front of Lvov(Lemberg). The southern flank of the Armoured Group 1 was subject to series of Soviet counter-attacks, which temporarily halted its advance.

 barba  zd3

As far as the terrain was concerned, there were significant River obstacles, especially the River Bug on the Polish border, the river Dniester facing Romania, and the River Dnieper. The impassable Pripet Marshes also constituted a sort of hazard on the northern flank of the Army Group South, where it joined to the right flank of Army Group Centre. The land was largely flat, except the starting operational area of the Hungarian forces, which laid in the Carpathian Mountains. The road networks in the Carpathian Mountains were limited to only a few passable roads and railways going through valleys and passes. Otherwise, the terrain was ideal for conducting mobile warfare in case of dry weather, a mix of trees and bushes in the northern areas giving way to treeless plains and agricultural fields in the south. However, in the case of rainy weather in spring and autumn, the soil produced particularly nasty mud, which evaporated slowly. As the temperature rose and fell the so-called roads alternately turned into impassable quagmires or frozen solid rocks. Although the road network existed since the Habsburg Empire on the former Polish territories, in a big picture, by European standards roads not existed; the highways were few and at best had a sort of stone surface with huge potholes. The railway gauges were different from the European standard, much wider, so the supply must reload on the border of the Soviet Union, which complicated the supply chain during the whole war.

Hungary in 1941