|INSTAHLGEWITTERN-IN THE STORM OF STEEL||
The photographs in this sequence depict events that took place during the first and second weeks of July 1941 in the area of Army Group Center. In particular, they illustrate the advance of 2nd Panzer Group (also known as Panzer Group Guderian) from the area of Minsk to Kopys, where it crossed the Dnieper River on July 10-11, 1941. See, Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., n.d.), Sketch Map 9, Developments 28.6-2.7.1941, p. 163.
On July 7, 1941, Generaloberst Guderian visited the headquarters of XLVII.Panzer Corps near Natscha (or "Natsha"), where he met with the Corps commander, General Lemelsen, to discuss the Generaloberst's plans for crossing the Dnieper River. (Panzer Leader, p.168).
Guderian went from Natscha to the headquarters of General Nehring's 18.Panzer Division at Tolotschin (or as Guderian calls it, "Tolochino"), where the division had just finished an engagement with Soviet armored troops. There the Panzer Group commander gave instructions to General Nehring for the role of his unit in the river crossing. Panzer Leader, p. 168.
GT-64 and 64A show Generaloberst Guderian meeting with officers under his command, probably during his conference with General Nehring at the headquarters of 18.Panzer Division. In GT-64A can be seen, standing behind Generaloberst Guderian, a Waffen SS officer. The officer in question cannot be easily identified, because his face is obscured, at least in part, by the peaked cap of the officer directly in front of Guderian. However, it seems likely that the Waffen-SS officer is SS Gruppenfuehrer und Generalleutnant der Waffen SS Paul Hausser, commander of SS Division (mot.) Reich. The officer in question is wearing glasses, and there are a number of photographs showing Hausser doing so as, for example, in Mark C. Yerger, Waffen SS Commanders. The Army, Corps and Divisional Leaders of a Legend. Augsberger to Kreutz (Atglen: Schiffer Military History, 1997), pp. 248, 254, 259-260. The strain of two weeks of continuous movement and combat can be seen on the faces of both Guderian and the much younger officer shown near the right edge of the photograph.
On July 8, 1941, Generaloberst Guderian visited the headquarters of XLVI.Panzer Corps, which was also part of 2nd Panzer Group. Then and there he issued to General der Panzertruppe Heinrich von Vietinghoff, gennant Scheel, officer commanding XLVI.Panzer Corps, the same instructions he had given General Lemelsen the previous day regarding the impending crossing of the Dnieper River. Panzer Leader, p. 168. On the following day, Generaloberst Guderian met with Generalfeldmarschall Guenther von Kluge, the officer commanding, Army Group Center. This was the occasion on which the Field Marshal, alarmed by Guderian's aggressiveness and apparent disregard for the fact that his motorized troops were advancing, and planning to execute a river crossing under enemy fire, without adequate support, and ordered the latter to desist from his planned river crossing until such time as sufficient supporting infantry units should arrive on the scene to protect the Panzer Group's open flanks. To this direct order Guderian declined to accede, telling his superior that the Panzer Group's preparations for the crossing were too far advanced to be cancelled, that to call the crossing off would expose his forces to the unwanted attentions of the Red Air Force, and that he (Guderian) was "convinced that the attack would succeed and...would decide the Russian campaign in this very year". The Field Marshal "unwillingly gave his approval" to Guderian's plan and uttered his famous comment that "Your (Guderian's) operations always hang by a thread". Panzer Leader, pp. 168-169.