Numerous source allege that the Germans would have crippled the Russian war effort if they had captured "Moscow" because 30% of Russia's industrial capacity was in that area.

Given this, there are a couple reasons why I want to know how that 30% was distributed "in and around" Moscow. (I know some Russian history but am weaker on geography).

  1. The Germans actually came within 20 miles or so of the Kremlin from a northwesterly direction. Presumably, they captured part of that "30%" of the industrial capacity, but that did not stop the Russian war effort. Was the greater part east of the city (or had been moved even further east)?

  2. Moscow is (today) something like 1000 square miles in area, about three times the size of Stalingrad Suppose the Germans captured part, say, 300 square miles of Moscow (as they did at Stalingrad), but not all of it. It would greatly matter which 300 square miles they captured, right?

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    What are these sources? Apr 22, 2022 at 1:24
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    BTW, German troops never entered Moscow itself, so whatever the industry your sources refer to, it was not captured/destroyed by the advancing German troops. Also, Moscow today is much larger than it was in 1941, so the estimates your are giving are irrelevant. Apr 22, 2022 at 4:38
  • @MoisheKohan: John Dallman largely answered the question by asserting in the last paragraph of his answer that there was no "in and around" Moscow, only "in." Although the absolute sizes of Moscow and (Volgograd) are larger today than in 1941, the relative sizes were probably still 3 to 1. The Germans actually captured 90% of Stalingrad which would translate to 30% of Moscow Then the question would be, was the industrial capacity distributed "uniformly" in Moscow. so capturing x% of Moscow means capturing X% of industrial capacity? Or are some X%s more important than others?
    – Tom Au
    Apr 22, 2022 at 17:46
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    Anecdotal ; I toured steel mills near Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk in the 90's and was told the mills were moved from eastern Russia or substantially expanded after Germany invaded Russia. Apr 23, 2022 at 20:37
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    It's also worth considering the relocation of industry towards Urals - whatever % of industry was in Moscow before the war, much of it wasn't there when the Germans arrived. IIRC from Moscow alone 498 factories were relocated eastward; for example, "The Soviet economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945" by Walter S Dunn states that something like 75% of lathes (an indicator of heavy industry capacity) were moved away from Moscow.
    – Peteris
    Apr 29, 2022 at 3:37

2 Answers 2


It is funny, but the areas to the West of Moscow really were presumably used as recreational areas and basins with clear water for the city. (Such as Klyazminskoye basin). The industrial centers as ElecroStal, Noginsk Podolsk, Dolgoprudny, Kaliningrad, Mytishi were to the North, East and South form the city. There WERE some important factories to the West of the center, but they were not farther than 10 miles from it.

An economical map of 1961. enter image description here The emptiness of the western side of the Moscow area is seen nicely. The only town important for the defense industry is Solnechnogorsk there.

So, the occupation of the West side of the close area around Moscow did not influence the industry noticeably, and factories continued to work.

[Edit] The eastern part was the most important. Notice, that later, when the targets for the nuclear strikes were chosen by USA and USSR, the Electrostal/Noginsk double city was chosen as the target number 5 in the USSR, staying in line among much greater cities. At least, at our defense lectures, we were informed so.

On the other hand, the air there was... MUCH worse than in the center of Moscow, that was stinky, too. After visiting Electrostal once in my life with a friend of mine, after 5 hours we both started to feel ourselves awfully (but differently) and returning to Moscow we felt as if we arrived into the pine forest :-). The year 1982 it was.

  • @njuffa 1. Thank you so much for your correction! 2. The size of towns is nicely visible on that map. It is not here for the density, but because of the visible town sizes.
    – Gangnus
    Apr 25, 2022 at 22:24
  • As a supplementary material, here (etomesto.com/map-moscow_atlas-1933_promrayon) is a 1933 map of industry near Moscow. Factories are denoted by squares, with larger squares corresponding to factories with more workers.
    – Budenn
    Apr 25, 2022 at 22:49
  • Alas, it is too close surrounding. The post asks about the whole Moscow area, not 30km surroundings. So, to use that map would be a proof fallacy from my side. But thank you anyway.
    – Gangnus
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:26
  • I had found a more suitable map. Look at the edition. And thank you for the advice, again.
    – Gangnus
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:41
  • Based on your map, the Germans would have done relatively little damage by seizing the western third of Moscow, somewhat more damage by seizing the eastern third, and the most damage by seizing the middle third. Accepted on that basis.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 28, 2022 at 19:24

It's a mistake to think of the "Battle of Moscow" as being fought between two armies in close contact, forming continuous fronts.

The kind of mobile warfare that was being fought involves the attacking side probing with reconnaissance units to locate concentrations of defenders, then bringing up sufficient force to at least pin the defenders in place, or preferably, surround them and force a surrender. If the defenders know they're in danger of being surrounded, they'll retreat unless ordered otherwise.

The closest the Germans came to Moscow seems to be disputed. It's agreed that they took the village of Krasnaya Polyana, which is now part of the town of Lobnya, but it is not quite clear if any of their reconnaissance troops reached Khimki which at the time was 5 miles from the edge of Moscow.

It is clear that they never entered the Moscow urban area. At the time, the industries of Moscow would all be within the urban area. "Out-of-town factories" only flourish in societies where commuting significant distances, usually by automobile, is practical for factory workers. That definitely wasn't the case for Moscow industrial workers in 1941.

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