Operation Lichtschlag

thinning

This was a German unrealised plan for Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Küchler’s Heeresgruppe ‘Nord’ to improve the position of its extreme southern flank at the junction with Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge’s Heeresgruppe ‘Mitte’ in the area of Kholm on the Lovat river between Velikiye Luki and Lake Ilmen in the northern part of the German-occupied western USSR (October/November 1942).

In this area the Demyansk salient jutted into the Soviet front very deeply, and von Küchler planned for Generaloberst Ernst Busch’s 16th Army to straighten the front to the advantage of the Germans by evacuating the Demyansk salient to the line of the line of the Lovat river. At the same time von Kluge proposed to evacuate the similar but considerably larger Rzhev-Vyaz’ma salient.

Adolf Hitler absolutely forbade these operationally sensible shortenings of the German line on the grounds that they would free forces of General Polkovnik Pavel A. Kurochkin’s North-West Front and General Polkovnik Ivan S. Konev’s Kalinin Front for employment elsewhere on the Eastern Front. What Hitler totally ignored was the fact that the straightening of the German line would also free German forces for gainful use elsewhere, and also eliminate the dangerous position of the German forces to the immediate north-west of Moscow.