A-A line

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Arkhangelsk and Astrakhan, with Moscow, Stalingrad, Gorky and Leningrad (strategic cities at the limits of Germany's actual advance) also shown.

The Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, [nb 1] or A-A line for short, was the military goal of Operation Barbarossa. It is also known as the Volga-Arkhangelsk line, [1] as well as (more rarely) the Volga-Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line. [nb 2] [2] It was first mentioned on 18 December 1940 in Führer Directive 21 (Fall Barbarossa) which enunciated the set goals and conditions of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, describing the attainment of the "general line Volga-Archangelsk" as its overall military objective. [3]

Operation Barbarossa 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War

Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave-labour force for the Axis war effort, and to seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.

Adolf Hitler made many hundreds of directives, orders and decrees while Führer of Nazi Germany, many of them related to military policy, and the treatment of civilians in occupied countries. Many of them are direct evidence of the commission of war crimes such as the notorious Commando Order. Other orders provide evidence of crimes against humanity, such as the Hitler order establishing forced euthanasia of disabled people in 1939 under Action T4, and the Nacht und Nebel order for eliminating civilian resisters in occupied countries.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.



The line had its origins in an earlier military study carried out by Erich Marcks called the Operation Draft East. [4] This report advocated the occupation of 'Russia' (as it insisted on calling the Soviet Union) up to the line "Arkhangelsk-Gorky-Rostov" in order to prevent it from being a threat to Germany in the future and "protect it against enemy bombers". Marcks envisioned that the campaign, including the capture of Moscow and beyond, would require between nine and seventeen weeks to complete. [4]

Erich Marcks German general

Erich Marcks was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He authored the first draft of the operational plan, Operation Draft East, for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, advocating what was later known as A-A line as the goal for the Wehrmacht to achieve, within nine to seventeen weeks.

Nizhny Novgorod City in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia

Nizhny Novgorod, colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is a city in Russia and the administrative center (capital) of Volga Federal District and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. From 1932 to 1990, it was known as Gorky, after the writer Maxim Gorky, who was born there.

Rostov-on-Don City in Rostov Oblast, Russia

Rostov-on-Don is a port city and the administrative center of Rostov Oblast and the Southern Federal District of Russia. It lies in the southeastern part of the East European Plain on the Don River, 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the Sea of Azov. The southwestern suburbs of the city abut the Don River delta. The population is over one million people (1,125,000).

The hypothetical A-A line was to stretch from the port city of Arkhangelsk on the White Sea in northern Russia along the confluence of the Volga river to the port city of Astrakhan at the mouth of the Volga on the Caspian Sea. Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union failed to secure any of these objectives.

Arkhangelsk City in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia

Arkhangelsk, also known in English as Archangel and Archangelsk, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, in the north of European Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea. The city spreads for over 40 kilometers (25 mi) along the banks of the river and numerous islands of its delta. Arkhangelsk was the chief seaport of medieval and early modern Russia until 1703. A 1,133-kilometer-long (704 mi) railway runs from Arkhangelsk to Moscow via Vologda and Yaroslavl, and air travel is served by the Talagi Airport and a smaller Vaskovo Airport. As of the 2010 Census, the city's population was 348,783, down from 356,051 recorded in the 2002 Census, and further down from 415,921 recorded in the 1989 Census.

White Sea A southern inlet of the Barents Sea in northwest Russia

The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of the internal waters of Russia. Administratively, it is divided between Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Oblasts and the Republic of Karelia.

Astrakhan City in Astrakhan Oblast, Russia

Astrakhan is a city in southern Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast. The city lies on two banks of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of 28 meters (92 ft) below sea level. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 520,339; up from 504,501 recorded in the 2002 Census and 509,210 recorded in the 1989 Census.


The plan was for the Red Army to the west of the line to be defeated in a quick military campaign in 1941 before the onset of winter. [5] The German Wehrmacht assumed that the majority of the Soviet military supplies and the main part of the food and population potential of the Soviet Union existed in the lands that lay to the west of the proposed A-A line. [5] If the line were reached, the Soviet Union would also be deprived of around 86% of its petroleum assets (oil territories in the Caucasus).

Red Army 1917–1946 ground and air warfare branch of the Soviet Unions military

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.

<i>Blitzkrieg</i> anglicised term describing a method of warfare. also known as lightning war

Blitzkrieg is a method of warfare whereby an attacking force, spearheaded by a dense concentration of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations with close air support, breaks through the opponent's line of defence by short, fast, powerful attacks and then dislocates the defenders, using speed and surprise to encircle them with the help of air superiority. Through the employment of combined arms in manoeuvre warfare, blitzkrieg attempts to unbalance the enemy by making it difficult for it to respond to the continuously changing front, then defeat it in a decisive Vernichtungsschlacht.

Wehrmacht unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945

The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.

The A-A line as the end-goal of military hostilities was chosen because an occupation of the entire Soviet Union in a single military campaign was considered impossible in view of its geographic dimensions. The remaining Soviet industrial centers further eastward were planned to be destroyed by aerial bombardment, for which an entire Luftflotte ("air fleet"; equivalent in status to an army group) was to be assigned. [5]

Ural bomber

The Ural bomber was the initial aircraft design program/competition to develop a long-range bomber for the Luftwaffe, created and led by General Walther Wever in the early 1930s. Wever died in an air crash on June 3, 1936, and the program ended almost immediately. Albert Kesselring took over his position in the Luftwaffe, abandoning most of his designs and turning others into tactical bombers.

See also

The Ural Mountains played a prominent role in Nazi planning. Adolf Hitler and the rest of the Nazi German leadership made many references to them as a strategic objective of the Third Reich to follow a decisive victory on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union.


  1. Arkhangelsk is often rendered in English as Archangel, its literal translation.
  2. This may in fact be its full name; German copies of Führerweisung Nr. 21 show this portion of the document as "(...) der algemeinen Linie Wolga-Archangelsk-A [unreadable word] (...)".

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  1. Boog, Horst (1996). Germany and the Second World War: The attack on the Soviet Union, p. 278. Oxford University Press Inc., New York.
  2. Boog, p. 803.
  3. Wikisource-logo.svg Works related to Führer Directive 21 at Wikisource.
  4. 1 2 Kay, Alex J. (2006). Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder: Political and Economic Planning for German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940-1941", p. 31. Berghahn Books.
  5. 1 2 3 Rich, Norman (1973). Hitler's War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion, pp. 210-212. W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New York.