How serious was the situation on the Eastern Front in 1942?

A telegram from the Japanese government to its officials in embassies around the world August 1942

Catalogue ref: HW 1/827

Extract a

Date: 11th August, 1942.
(A) The latest European situation is as follows:

1. The German-Soviet war entered upon July with considerable successes. The German army while carrying out diversion attacks in the LENINGRAD and MOSCOW areas, concentrated its main strength from VORONEZH southwards, and bringing to bear its full weight with new methods of attack and new weapons, its advance is to be expected. GERMANY naturally, in view of last year’s failure, made the most careful and well planned preparations for this year and in putting forth the nation’ s full strength, may be said to have staked all on this campaign to give the SOVIET a knockout blow before winter begins. It is accordingly estimated that GERMANY is making haste to execute her plan of coming to a military decision in the course of this year, by depriving RUSSIA of the CAUCASUS oil-fields, and by cutting off the SOVIET from communication with the outside world. She will thus be enabled to hold this front with a minimum of troops and thus to realise the so-called “situation of non-defeat”.

Extract b

Taking a general survey of both armies this year, although the Soviet Army has still a considerable quantity of aeroplanes and tanks, the command of the air on the battlefield is on the whole in German hands. The Germans are therefore able to fill up all their losses completely [? which gives them a preponderance of offensive power at any given point] and a Soviet defeat will not be surprising. However the Red Army appear to be assembling reserve armies in reinforcement in the STALINGRAD area and in the lower reaches of the VOLGA. It is expected that a desperate stand will be made on this line. The issue of the German-Soviet war may therefore be said to depend on the battle-power of the Red Army’s reserve army.

Extract c


The Question of a Second Front
It appears that the Soviet in their critical situation due to the German Army’s advance are appealing to GREAT BRITAIN and the UNITED STATES through their Ambassadors MAISKY and LITVINOV to establish a second front against GERMANY without delay. GREAT BRITAIN and the UNITED STATES however, owing to the extreme effectiveness of the German submarine warfare, are not only greatly put to it for shipping, but GERMANY having strengthened her coastal defences against ENGLAND can dispose of considerable forces under the command of General RUNDSTEDT, so that the

Extract d

execution of an effective landing on the continent is a matter of extreme difficulty.
As GREAT BRITAIN has concentrated on Air Force in EGYPT, she seems to feel considerable difficulty in even taking on a Second Front by continuous bombing of GERMANY by mass formations of planes. The establishment of the so-called Second Front against GERMANY, therefore, appears to be difficult, no matter how much it is backed up by American support.