On 18 August 1944, German intelligence received from a reliable source information that in Belarus, in the rear of the red Army is caught up in the environment part of the Wehrmacht up to 2.5 thousand people. Faithful to the oath and the Fuhrer, the soldiers intend to fight and make their way to the West. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel encircled Sherborn.
The command of the Wehrmacht was delighted to such gift of destiny and the beginning of the build plans for the use of such a large military compound in the rear of the Soviet troops. The Germans could not imagine that they have received information is the beginning of "operation Berezino, a Grand hoax, started by the 4th Department of the NKVD.
The essence of the operation
The concept of operations emerged in the spring of 1944. Its author was, according to one Colonel Maklerski, for others the idea of the operation suggested by Stalin himself. The aim of the operation was to force the Germans to believe in the presence in the rear of the Soviet troops large military unit and divert it to support the maximum possible amount of material resources of the enemy. Surrounded by a group was supposed to be (according to the Nazis) appropriate base for subversive groups, therefore, among others, the aim was to lure in its location as much as possible the number of parachutists-saboteurs, focused on the implementation of acts of sabotage in the Soviet rear and the organization of intelligence network.
The apotheosis of the operation was to be the "exit" encircled in the location of the German units in the course of which it was supposed to enter into the open by the Germans passage appropriately trained and equipped special forces of the red Army to break through the front. The implementation of the operation was assigned to the 4th Department of the NKVD. Oversaw the operation head of P. Sudoplatov, the direct organizer of all activities within the operation activities was appointed Deputy N sudoplatova. Eitingon. The operation was codenamed "Berezina". Not all the plans came to life. But what was done, is now taught in schools as the filigree work of specialists of the highest level.
In the first place was to find a suitable candidate for the position of "commander of group". Needed a real officer of sufficiently high rank, whose ability to rally people and lead them on the enemy's rear for a long time would not cause the Germans no doubt. At the same time, it was supposed to be the person consciously made the decision on cooperation with the Soviet secret services, and ready (but not least) able in the case of direct contact with emissaries from Berlin to play the role of the commander, heroically fighting behind enemy lines.
In search of a suitable officer staff sudoplatova left for the camps for German prisoners of war. Desired candidate found Shchors and I. M. Leonov in the suburban camp 27/1. It was Lieutenant-Colonel of the Wehrmacht, Sherborn. In early August he was taken to Moscow. Of supporting documents: Sherborn Henry Gerhardt, born in 1897 Lieutenant-Colonel. A professional military. The regimental commander of the rear guard. A member of the NSDAP since 1933. Taken prisoner near Minsk 9.07.1944. Is pessimistic. Convinced of the imminent defeat of Germany. Agree on cooperation. Has the nickname "Shubin".
Information from a trusted source
August 18, 1944 was abandoned the first "bait". "A reliable source" was agent "Max", who worked for the Abwehr in February 1942. The pride of the German intelligence actually was a member of the NKVD Alexander Demyanov has been successfully introduced into the ranks of the Abwehr. In the interests of "operation Berezino" communications officer of the General staff of the red army "seconded" to Minsk, where he participated in the interrogation of a captured German officer. During questioning, allegedly Demyanov and learned about fighting in the rear of the red Army, the group of the Lieutenant Colonel Scherhorn. Week Berlin kept silent, checking on the channels availability in the Wehrmacht Lieutenant-Colonel, and such his record. August 25, "max" came the response telegram, in which he was asked to establish a connection with the group and to report the position of discharge of the cargo and parachute group. The Germans swallowed the bait. The operation began.
The special operation in the Minsk region
To receive "guests" and cargo to the intended site of deployment "part of Sherborne" (D. Deaf Minsk region) went off formed a group under the command of major GB Borisov. The group was made up of 16 leading members of the 4th Control, 10 ethnic German antifascists have long been cooperating with Soviet intelligence and 20 machine gunners of Omsbon. That was part of the whole "army of Sherborne".
Together with a group in the area of operations flew Maklerski, Mordvinov, serebryanskiy, Fisher (Abel) – the entire color the then Soviet counterintelligence, head of the operation Eitingon himself Colonel Scherhorn, who was to meet "guests". On one of left Soviet guerrillas bases in the area of lake Sand was urgently equipped "headquarters" of Sherborne. Brought the Germans dressed in the form of soldiers of the Wehrmacht. The group was supplied with captured food and personal items. The arriving agents were as long as possible to remain in ignorance that this "lurking in the Belarusian part of the forest" is nothing more than a sham. The whole area of operations was surrounded by patrols, to prevent even the possibility of any accident. But all can not be foreseen.
As the operation had nearly failed before it began
The danger came from where it was not expected. Not German agents, and vigilant Soviet citizens had almost destroyed the operation Berezino" in the very beginning. The NKVD soon began to create in the deep woods "camp encircled", and on the Desk of the Commissar of the NKGB of Belarus Zenawi went to report about the appearance in the area of lake Sand to one of the guerrilla bases abandoned military formation consisting of soldiers of the Wehrmacht, collaborators of the Nazis and deserters of the red Army.
Fortunately, the people's Commissar did not hurry, did not give the instruction to eliminate the "guerrillas" and reported on this report to Moscow, proposing to use discovered the group for operational purposes. From Moscow he received an unexpected answer that in the area o Sand carried out a special operation. Also Tsanava was required to render conducting the operation staff with the necessary assistance. But Eitington sudoplatova received from a severe scolding and instructed to strengthen the protection of the area of operation.
The first "guests"
In the night from 15 to 16.09. 44 in the "max" area landed 3 parachutist. Arrived met and taken to "headquarters". Senior group Kurt Kibert told Sergino, what about the brave soldiers of the Wehrmacht fighting in the rear of the Soviet troops, it was reported to the Fuhrer, and he demanded to do everything possible to save his loyal soldiers. After a cordial meeting "guests from Berlin" came out of the dugouts where the soldiers, already in the Soviet form, has opened their eyes to the true state of Affairs. The next day in Berlin left a radio message reporting that the group arrived safely at the place, confirms the presence of a detachment of Sherborne, and that one of the skydivers was seriously injured in the drop and is unconscious (refused cooperation).
Convinced in the real existence of parts of Sherborne, the German command began vigorously to provide it with weapons, ammunition, medicines and food. For its supply Goering has allocated 4 transport aircraft. During the first month to profit Sherborne 16 agents, some of them were recruited by the NKVD and joined the "game". The operation is beginning to gain momentum.
How I missed the "freischütz."
In Germany the fate of Sherborne and his soldiers watched personally by the commander of army group "Center", Colonel-General Reinhardt, and the chief, "Abverkomandy 103" (call "Saturn") Barfield. But the main protagonist on the German side was SS obersturmbannführer "saboteur Reich number 1" Otto Skorzeny. Skorzeny was not a simpleton. During the operation of "Magic arrows" (complex of measures for the supply of a group of Sherborne) they were abandoned 8 agents, which Sherborne was not reported. Agents of the task was to secretly sneak into the area and to check whether a group of Sherborne exist. All 8 agents were caught, some recruited and became part of the operation "Berezina".
In his book Secret operations of the RSHA" Skorzeny describes in detail how to organize an air bridge with the "encircled", as, all with great difficulty, knocked resources for "soldier of Sherborne". (As the Germans retreated to the West, dwindling stocks of weapons and food inside the Reich) If "a specialist in sabotage knew" that the content is so hard to collect them "parcels" is the supply of the red Army, he would have torn from his books those pages!
"Heroic RAID" group of Sherborne
While Skorzeny had its "sending", "soldiers of Sherborne" made its way to the West. In a way, they repeatedly engaged in battle with the rear units of the red army, carried out acts of sabotage, took the captives, gathered "invaluable intelligence information. All this required enormous work on the preparation of indirectly confirming the data legend. It notes in the Newspapers "about the elimination of gangs in the rear," and orders in the rear part of the escort on the strengthening of vigilance, and reports from local agents.
In December 1944 overgrown "group of Sherborne" divided into 3 columns, and the Nazis had to take care of already 3 groups. German radio operators were constantly detected the meetings between themselves and their tearful pleas for help (and sweat worked as radio operators in the Lubyanka). "Scherhorn" continued to take cargo and agents. In December at the location of the emissions 4 the agent - ethnic Belarusians trained in "Abverkomande 103" with information about the local agencies. With the release of "Sherborne" to the borders of Poland began to arrive, the agents of the poles. Most agents successfully infiltrated", launched the "supply information" and carry out sabotage.
The command of the Wehrmacht appreciated the courage of the soldiers Sherborne". In one of the containers, the KGB discovered the Iron cross with blank premium sheets. He Scherhorn by order of the Fuehrer of 16 March 1945 was promoted to Colonel, and on March 23 he was awarded a Knight's cross.
The end of the operation Berezino"
On 5 may 1945, the radio operator at the Lubyanka hosted its final radio message for the "group of Sherborne", in which the command thanked the Colonel and all his soldiers for their courage and devotion to duty, and unfortunately I put them on notice about the termination of further support. Thus ended operation "Berezina" - a big bluff, never opened German intelligence. 8 months, weapons, ammunition, food, warm clothing, medicines, so important to the Nazis at the front, went to support the "group of Sherborne". Trained agents from among the "Sergina adopted" "passed" local agents and become channels for disinformation of the enemy.
If not the end of the war, is still unknown how long the Soviet KGB "who would take over the nose of the German secret service. So, read the memoirs of the venerable executives and employees of the Abwehr and "Zeppelin" (DM), be careful. You should not take for granted their stories about the creation of the ramified intelligence network in the Soviet Union, to conduct major sabotage operations in the rear of the red Army. Very often, the objects exploded only on paper, and "successfully implemented the agents wrote their reports under the dictation of KGB. Than we have every right to be proud of.
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