Through archives and doctrinal publications, was there any bias towards attacking NATO through the North German Plain, the Fulda Gap, or something else?


3 Answers 3


Two declassified Warsaw Pact documents give insight into their plans. The Warsaw Pact "Plan of Actions of the Czechoslovak People’s Army for War Period" from 1964 which outlined the plan for Czechoslovakia in the event of a NATO attack and Seven Days To The Rhine which is a response to a NATO nuclear first strike to cut off Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union.

The plans make several things clear: The Warsaw Pact expected NATO to strike first with a tactical nuclear strike, and they saw a limited nuclear war as feasible. This is the opposite of NATO's own planning which assumed the Warsaw Pact would strike first, planned to avoid nuclear weapons if possible, and planned to respond to nuclear weapons with a disproportionate response.

The Czech plan has them attacking through southern Germany. The Czech's were to be prepared...

To be ready to start advancing toward Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Munich with part of forces immediately after the nuclear strike. Nuclear strike against the troops of the enemy should be targeted to the depth up to the line Würzburg, Erlangen, Regensburg, Landshut.

Yes, they expected troops to march through territory they had just nuked. The Soviets tested this with 45,000 troops in 1954.

The immediate task is to defeat the main forces of the Central Group of the German Army in the southern part of the FRG, in cooperation with the [Soviet] 8th Guards Army of the 1st Western Front; by the end of the first day – reach the line Bayreuth, Regensburg, Passau; and by the end of the second day – move to the line Höchstadt, Schwabach, Ingolstadt, Mühldorf, and by the fourth day of the attack – reach the line Mosbach, Nürtingen, Memmingen, Kaufbeuren.

In the future, building upon the advance in the direction of Strasbourg, Epinal, Dijon, to finalize the defeat of the enemy in the territory of the FRG, to force a crossing of the river Rhine, and on the seventh or eighth day of the operation to take hold of the line Langres, Besançon.

Afterward develop the advance toward Lyon.

This has the Czechs tearing through southern Germany in a week then sweeping south through France along the Swiss border.

Seven Days To The Rhine assumes NATO has cut off Eastern Europe with a tactical nuclear strike at key crossings of the Vistula River. Pact forces already in Eastern Europe would counter-attack West Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Denmark necessitating several lines of attack, not just central Germany.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a copy of the plan.

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    You link is dead. I have no idea what this supposed document says, but if you think it in any way describes Soviet strategy that would extremely naive. What would make you think some unclassified Czech document would have any relationship to Soviet doctrine? Oct 18, 2015 at 6:43
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    @TylerDurden It works for me, is this the link you're trying? As for the Soviet connection, this was part of the Soviet plan. Czechoslovakia was a member of the Warsaw Pact and in the event of war would be expected to act in conjunction with other members, including the Soviets. The Soviets puppetted the WP, so the Czech plan was the Soviet plan. Finally, it's an interesting original document showing the WP/Soviet view rather than NATO assumptions.
    – Schwern
    Oct 18, 2015 at 6:57
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    Thanks for this, this is awesome! BTW given that both sides assume the other will use nukes first, and that NATO's response will be disproportionate, do you think that a conventional war will be unlikely? Oct 18, 2015 at 14:01
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    @EvilWashingMachine Will be unlikely? Cold War's over, a conventional war is pretty unlikely. ;) But seriously, I think conventional war in Europe was unlikely. One of the biggest things learned after the Cold War was how each side was wrong about the other's motivations. Neither wanted to take over the world. Both sides were afraid of the other. The Domino Theory was false, the Soviets wanted an enormous buffer zone around their country and already had it. NATO was more interested in containing communism and defeating it politically and economically.
    – Schwern
    Oct 18, 2015 at 20:45
  • Try e.g. this link zpravy.idnes.cz/… - The article from 2011 was titled "Czechs were supposed to bleed in a war, cities expected a nuclear massacre" - there are some maps of the planned invasion of Southwestern Germany- some 1/3 of West Germany, ambitious enough - by the Czechoslovak People's Army. East Germany was supposed to similarly capture the North of Western Germany etc. Most contemporary Czech experts claim that by this plan, the Czech army would be totally destroyed. Nov 3, 2015 at 17:07

The best book that I have seen written on the subject by a writer who should know is: The Third World War, August 1985 by General Sir John Hackett. Hacket is a retired British Army general who published this fictional account in 1979. See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425101924?keywords=The%20war%20in%201985%20Hackett&qid=1445134086&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

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    It's a great book. However, this is written from the British/NATO perspective and without the benefit of declassified Warsaw Pact documents. It's a great book about how we expected the Warsaw Pact to behave, but less about how the Warsaw Pact planned to behave.
    – Schwern
    Oct 18, 2015 at 2:43
  • A reader of this book (like me, many years back) should keep in mind the context it was written in: With it, Hacket lobbied for more robust NATO policy and increased military spending. It's neither a scientific work nor a novel, but something in between. Also, I'd hesitate to call it a "good" book, much less "the best". Many critics agree.
    – DevSolar
    Sep 3, 2019 at 8:37

I am sure those plans would be quite secret and you would not be able to trust any offhand account of them because there would be no telling whether the informant had correct information or was reporting some kind of disinformation.

In general, all countries make elaborate military plans and strategies of diverse kinds for all different situations and contingencies, so there is no one plan. Of course, when an attack is actually made a plan is chosen, but before then no one specific plan will exist, but there will be many different plans.

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    How do you then explain that none of the Great Powers had such variant plans in 1914? All of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Austria had only one mobilization plan. While true that competent general staff colleges will war-game many variant plans, the purpose of doing od is in order to select a best plan for actual use. Oct 18, 2015 at 14:58
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    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. Oct 18, 2015 at 14:58
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    @PieterGeerkens When there is no answer to a question, then an explanation of why there is no answer, is the answer. Oct 18, 2015 at 15:22
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    @TylerDurden Your first paragraph is demonstrably false, here's a whole collection of Warsaw Pact documents and interviews with high ranking officials along with that elusive Seven Days To The Rhine document I wish I could get my hands on. Your second paragraph, true or false, doesn't apply; the question is about biases toward certain routes within the plan(s).
    – Schwern
    Oct 18, 2015 at 20:58
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    @Schwern I realize you are not a soldier so you can hardly be expected to evaluate military information. Though these documents may appear like "war plans" to you, they are not documents that either Czech forces or the Soviets would have used in any miltary capacity. I did not attempt to analyze these "plans" to determine what bizarre origin that may have had or for what purpose, but I can assure you they bear absolutely no resemblance to what actual Soviet operational plans look like. Oct 19, 2015 at 0:26

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