Thursday, September 6, 2012

German disinformation operations - Case Kremlin 1942

In the summer of 1942 the German forces in the Eastern Front were able to achieve strategic surprise against the Soviet military leadership by concentrating their forces in the area of Army Group South in the Ukraine.

The Germans managed to advance deep inside Soviet territory, occupy Maykop and close towards Grozny. If the oil producing areas of the Soviet South fell into German hands the whole war would take a different turn.

How did the Germans achieve such a success? Obviously the performance of their units was superior to those of the Soviet Union, however that was not all.

The Soviets were tricked into expecting the main German effort to be directed against Moscow. Their belief was based on sound military principles but was definitely reinforced by a German disinformation operation.

Moscow was the administrative and political center of the Soviet Union, so it made sense for the Germans to stage a major attack against the city in 1942. However Hitler’s interest was in the oil producing areas of the Soviet South.

In order to hide his intentions from the Russians a disinformation operation called ‘Kremlin’ (Fall Kreml) was started.

On 29 May ’42 Army Group Center HQ issued a Top Secret directive saying: ‘The OKH has ordered the earliest possible resumption of the attack on Moscow’. In June sealed maps of the Moscow area were sent to AGC with instructions not to be opened until 10 June. On that day Army, Corps and Division staffs began holding planning conferences for operation ‘Kreml’.

At the same time the Luftwaffe increased its recon flights over and around Moscow, POW camps received questionnaires about Moscow’s defenses and spies were sent towards Moscow, Tula and Kalinin.

Obviously all this activity could not remain a secret from the Soviet authorities, as they were known to have spies in POW interrogation centers and their security agencies would capture the German spies sent to Moscow and the other cities.

This effort paid off as the Russians continued to believe that the German attack in the South was not the major operation of 1942. Even when the Germans captured Voronezh the Soviet Command feared that they would advance northwards towards Moscow.

Operation ‘Kreml’ was undeniably a factor in the great German victories of summer ’42.

Source: ‘Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East’ by Earl F. Ziemke


  1. It is unfortunatel for the Germans, that they did not make capture of Moscow and the areas to the east of Moscow their main offensive of the summer of 1942. The Germans clearly showed in the South that they could not be stopped. Had the Germans (i.e. Hitler) chosen to take Moscow instead, I am guessing the Russians would have suffered catastrophic losses, and the Germans would have captured Moscow and advanced further to the east of Moscow. Stalin would not have let Moscow go without a fight, so there would have been no fighting retreats conducted in front of Moscow.

    1. The Germans seemed unstoppable because they had already destroyed the Soviet tank forces in the Ukraine in May ’42 so they could advance without fear of mobile counterattack. In addition the Russians were not expecting the main attack to come on the South. Had they tried to attack Moscow they would be facing huge numbers of enemy troops operating from well defended areas. A recipe for disaster.

  2. hello, this case is also discussed in a "Parameters" article as well. Not sure if it provides more information or perhaps just more background information. But in case you are interested you can view at - - from markanote01 at