The Stalin and Molotov Lines: Soviet Western Defences 1928-41

ISBN: 978-184603-192-2
Review Date:

During the inter-war years, Soviet forces built a series of fortified zones along its western frontier that were later nicknamed as the Stalin Line. After the Soviet Union and Germany jointly conquered Poland, additional defenses were built, forming the later nicknamed Molotov Line. Although from a larger sense the German advanced through the defensive positions of these lines without experiencing significant difficulties, largely due to surprise, many German field commanders would report some positions being stubborn, causing delays in their timetable. In The Stalin and Molotov Lines, author Neil Short dove into the positioning, construction, and arming of the fortifications. Detailed text and visuals, in the form of both photographs and illustrations, provided great insight on each type of structure. I felt that the only shortcoming of this title came in the operational history section of the book. It seemed like the author was providing a general history of Operation Barbarossa, with cursory mentions of the structures of the Stalin and Molotov Lines; I had expected, perhaps, a couple of in-depth tactical analysis of German assaults on these positions. Short spent the final pages describing how the reader could visit surviving sites, providing helpful hints on transportation, lodging, the perculiarities of photographing these former military installations, and even the use of cash versus credit cards; while definitely an aside, I found these trivia rather interesting. Though admitting my limited knowledge in this area of study, I must note that I had previously found very few titles on the topic of Soviet defenses; The Stalin and Molotov Lines was for sure one of the better ones that I had come across, and I would be interested in reading this title again, side by side with a similar title on German fortifications in western Europe, to see whether the experience of assaulting these positions provided the German military with any lasting lessons.

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