Operation Elefanten-Bewegung

elephant movement

This was a German extemporised undertaking to boost the delivery of vital supplies to Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock’s Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ (December 1941/January 1942).

As a result of the total surprise it suffered when the Soviet forces unleashed their 'Moscow Strategic Defensive Operation' winter counter-offensive (30 September/5 December 1941) and then 'Moscow Strategic Offensive Operation' winter offensive (5 December1941/7 January 1942) to the west of Moscow, halting ‘Taifun’ (i) and driving the army group back from the suburbs of the Soviet capital, Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ started to suffer the effects of acute shortages of fuel and spare parts, as well as very cold weather conditions, resulting the abandonment of some 10,000 vehicles.

The railway system in western Russia could not cope with the demands placed on it, and the result was ‘Elefanten-Bewegung’. This created a vehicular transport organisation using untrained men to drive French vehicles (new and used) from Warsaw to the front. Even in Warsaw, where the undertaking was based, a large number of vehicles broke down, and further heavy losses were exacted on the 1,250-mile (2000-km) drive to the front over atrocious roads in very cold conditions.