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Soviet victory

Soviet Union
Soviet Union
occupies Central, Eastern, Northeastern and Southeastern Europe and establishes pro-Soviet communist puppet governments in countries including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and East Germany. Establishment of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. Beginning of the Cold War
Cold War
and the creation of the Iron Curtain. The beginning of the Greek Civil War.

Territorial changes

Partition of Germany Borders of Poland
Poland
changed.

Belligerents

Axis powers

 Germany[1]   Romania
Romania
(until 1944)  Italy (until 1943)  Hungary  Bulgaria (from 5th until 9th September 1944)

Axis puppet states

 Slovakia  Croatia

Co-belligerents

  Finland
Finland
(until 1944)

Allies

 Soviet Union Poland Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
(from 1943) Yugoslavia (from 1944) Tuva (until 1944)[2]

Former Axis powers
Axis powers
or co-belligerents

  Romania
Romania
(from 1944) Bulgaria (from 1944)   Finland
Finland
(from 1944)

Aerial and naval only

United States United Kingdom Free France
Free France
(1943–45)

Commanders and leaders

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
(commander-in-chief) Walther von Brauchitsch Fedor von Bock Franz Halder Kurt Zeitzler Erich von Manstein Heinz Guderian Heinrich Himmler Gerd von Rundstedt Ion Antonescu Benito Mussolini Miklós Horthy Ferenc Szálasi Boris III Jozef Tiso Ante Pavelić Risto Ryti

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
(commander-in-chief) Georgy Zhukov Boris Shaposhnikov Aleksandr Vasilevsky Semyon Timoshenko Aleksei Antonov Ivan Konev Ivan Bagramyan Konstantin Rokossovsky Vasily Chuikov Nikita Khrushchev Josip Broz Tito Zygmunt Berling Ludvik Svoboda Michael I of Romania Nicolae Rădescu Kimon Georgiev C. G. E. Mannerheim

Strength

1941 3,767,000 troops 1943 3,933,000 troops 1945 1,960,000 troops

1941 2,680,000 troops 1943 6,724,000 troops 1945 6,410,000 troops

Casualties and losses

See below See below

v t e

Campaigns of World War II

Europe

Poland Phoney War Winter War Denmark & Norway France & Benelux Britain Balkans Eastern Front Finland Western Front (1944–45)

Pacific War

China Pacific Ocean South-East Asia South West Pacific Japan Manchuria
Manchuria
(1945)

Mediterranean and Middle East

North Africa Horn of Africa Mediterranean Sea Adriatic Malta Yugoslavia Iraq Syria–Lebanon Iran Italy Dodecanese Southern France

Other campaigns

Atlantic Arctic Strategic bombing America French West Africa Madagascar

Contemporaneous wars

Chinese Civil War USSR– Japan
Japan
Border Wars French–Thai Ecuadorian–Peruvian War Ili Rebellion

v t e

Eastern Front

Naval warfare

Baltic Sea Black Sea Arctic Ocean

1941

Barbarossa

Brest Białystok and Minsk Baltic Brody Bessarabia Smolensk Uman Odessa 1st Kiev Tallinn
Tallinn
disaster Leningrad Sea of Azov 1st Kharkov Sevastopol Rostov Gorky Moscow

Finland Kerch Chechnya

1942

Lyuban Barvenkovo and Lozovaya Rzhev Toropets and Kholm Demyansk Kholm 2nd Kharkov Case Blue Caucasus Rzhev, Summer 1942 Sinyavino Stalingrad Velikiye Luki Mars Little Saturn

1943

Iskra Ostrogozhsk–Rossosh Polar Star 3rd Kharkov Bombing of Gorky Kursk 1st Donbass Tidal Wave 2nd Donbass 2nd Smolensk Dnieper

1944

Dnieper–Carpathian Leningrad–Novgorod Narva Crimea 1st Jassy–Kishinev Karelia Bagration Lvov and Sandomierz Doppelkopf 2nd Jassy–Kishinev Dukla Pass Baltic Belgrade Debrecen Petsamo and Kirkenes Courland Gumbinnen Budapest

1945

Vistula and Oder East Prussia Silesia Solstice East Pomerania Lake Balaton Vienna Bratislava-Brno Berlin Prague German capitulation

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1982–1991 Leadership
Leadership
changes and collapse

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Singing Revolution

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Wall Velvet Revolution End of communist rule in Hungary Romanian Revolution German reunification)

Dissolution

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Soviet Union
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The Eastern Front of World War II
World War II
was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers
Axis powers
and co-belligerent Finland
Finland
against the Soviet Union, Poland
Poland
and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War (Russian: Великая Отечественная Война, Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna) in the former Soviet Union, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front (German: die Ostfront),[3] the Eastern Campaign (der Ostfeldzug), the Russian Campaign (der Rußlandfeldzug),[4][5] or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.[6] The battles on the Eastern Front constituted the largest military confrontation in history.[7] They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, starvation, exposure, disease, and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and the majority of pogroms, was central to the Holocaust. Of the estimated 70 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million,[8] many of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of the European portion of World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany.[9][10][11] The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in military action in the Eastern Front, the United States
United States
and the United Kingdom both provided substantial material aid in the form of the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
to the Soviet Union. The joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front. In addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War
Continuation War
may also be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.

Contents

1 Background 2 Ideologies

2.1 German ideology 2.2 Soviet situation

3 Forces 4 Conduct of operations

4.1 Operation Barbarossa: Summer 1941 4.2 Leningrad, Moscow
Moscow
and Rostov: Autumn 1941 4.3 Soviet counter-offensive: Winter 1941 4.4 Don, Volga, and Caucasus: Summer 1942 4.5 Stalingrad: Winter 1942 4.6 Kursk: Summer 1943 4.7 Autumn and Winter 1943–44 4.8 Summer 1944 4.9 Autumn 1944 4.10 January–March 1945 4.11 End of the War: April–May 1945 4.12 Soviet Far East: August 1945

5 Results 6 Leadership

6.1 Adolf Hitler 6.2 Joseph Stalin

7 Repression in occupied states 8 Industrial output 9 Casualties 10 See also 11 Notes 12 Further reading

12.1 Historiography

13 External links

13.1 Videos

Background[edit] See also: Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Despite their ideological antipathy, both Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union remained unsatisfied with the outcome of World War I (1914–1918). Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia
had lost substantial territory in Eastern Europe as a result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
(March 1918), where the Bolsheviks in Petrograd gave in to German demands and ceded control of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and other areas, to the Central Powers. Subsequently, when Germany in its turn surrendered to the Allies (November 1918) and these territories were liberated under the terms of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia
was in the midst of a civil war and the Allies did not recognize the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
government, so no Soviet Russian representation attended.[12] The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
signed in August 1939 was a non-aggression agreement between Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe
Central Europe
to the pre– World War I
World War I
status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would return to Russian (Soviet) control, while Poland
Poland
and Romania
Romania
would be divided.[citation needed] The Eastern Front was also made possible by the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement (1941)
German-Soviet Commercial Agreement (1941)
in which the Soviet Union gave Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
the resources necessary to launch military operations in Eastern Europe.[13] Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
had declared his intention to invade the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
on 11 August 1939 to Carl Jacob Burckhardt, League of Nations Commissioner, by saying:

Everything I undertake is directed against the Russians. If the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, then I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then after their defeat turn against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
with all my forces. I need the Ukraine
Ukraine
so that they can't starve us out, as happened in the last war.[14]

The two powers invaded Poland
Poland
in September 1939 and partitioned it. After Finland
Finland
refused the terms of a Soviet pact of mutual assistance, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
attacked Finland
Finland
on 30 November 1939 in what became known as the Winter War
Winter War
– a bitter conflict that resulted in a peace treaty on 13 March 1940, with Finland
Finland
maintaining its independence but losing its eastern parts in Karelia. In June 1940 the Soviet Union occupied and illegally annexed the three Baltic states
Baltic states
(Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) – an action in violation of the Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) and numerous bilateral conventions and treaties signed between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and the Baltic countries. Most Western states never recognized the annexations.[15] The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
ostensibly provided security to the Soviets in the occupation both of the Baltics and of the north and northeastern regions of Romania
Romania
(Northern Bukovina
Bukovina
and Bessarabia, June–July 1940), although Hitler, in announcing the invasion of the Soviet Union, cited the Soviet annexations of Baltic and Romanian territory as having violated Germany's understanding of the Pact. Moscow
Moscow
partitioned the annexed Romanian territory between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics. Ideologies[edit] Main article: Germany– Soviet Union
Soviet Union
relations before 1941 German ideology[edit] Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
(1925) for the necessity of Lebensraum
Lebensraum
("living space"): acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, in particular in Russia.[16] He envisaged settling Germans there, as according to Nazi ideology the Germanic people constituted the "master race", while exterminating or deporting most of the existing inhabitants to Siberia
Siberia
and using the remainder as slave labour.[17] Hitler as early as 1917 had referred to the Russians as inferior, believing that the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
Revolution had put the Jews in power over the mass of Slavs, who were, in Hitler's opinion, incapable of ruling themselves but instead being ruled by Jewish masters.[18] Hard-line Nazis in Berlin
Berlin
(like Heinrich Himmler)[19] saw the war against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
as a struggle between the ideologies of Nazism
Nazism
and Jewish Bolshevism, and ensuring territory supremacy for the Germanic Übermensch
Übermensch
(superhumans), who according to Nazi ideology were the Aryan Herrenvolk
Herrenvolk
("master race"), against the Slavic Untermenschen
Untermenschen
(subhumans).[20] Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
officers told their troops to target people who were described as "Jewish Bolshevik
Bolshevik
subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood" and the "red beast".[21] The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, seeing the Soviet enemy as sub-human.[22] Hitler referred to the war in unique terms, calling it a "war of annihilation" (Vernichtungskrieg) which was both an ideological and racial war. According to a plan called Generalplan Ost, the populations of occupied Central Europe
Central Europe
and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
were to be partially deported to West Siberia, partially enslaved and eventually exterminated; the conquered territories were to be colonized by German or "Germanized" settlers.[23] In addition, the Nazis also sought to wipe out the large Jewish population of Central and Eastern Europe[24] as part of their program aiming to exterminate all European Jews.[25] After Germany's initial success at the Battle of Kiev in 1941, Hitler saw the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
as militarily weak and ripe for immediate conquest. On 3 October 1941, he announced, "We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down."[26] Thus, Germany expected another short Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
and made no serious preparations for prolonged warfare. However, following the decisive Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
in 1943 and the resulting dire German military situation, Nazi propaganda began to portray the war as a German defence of Western civilization against destruction by the vast " Bolshevik
Bolshevik
hordes" that were pouring into Europe. Soviet situation[edit] See also: Great Purge
Great Purge
and Purge of the Red Army
Red Army
in 1941

Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Timoshenko
and Georgy Zhukov
Georgy Zhukov
in 1940

Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
underwent massive industrialization and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Stalin's central tenet, "Socialism in one country", manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Plans from 1929 onwards. This represented an ideological shift in Soviet policy, away from its commitment to the international communist revolution, and eventually leading to the dissolution of the Comintern
Comintern
(Third International) organization in 1943. In February 1936 the Spanish general election brought many communist leaders into the Popular Front government in the Second Spanish Republic, but in a matter of months a right-wing military coup initiated the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
of 1936–1939. This conflict soon took on the characteristics of a proxy war involving the Soviet Union and left wing volunteers from different countries on the side of the predominantly socialist and communist-led[27] Second Spanish Republic;[28] while Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Portuguese Republic took the side of Spanish Nationalists, the military rebel group led by General Francisco Franco.[29] It served as a useful testing ground for both the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
and the Red Army
Red Army
to experiment with equipment and tactics that they would later employ on a wider scale in the Second World War. Nazi Germany, which was an anti-communist régime, formalized its ideological position on 25 November 1936 by signing the Anti-Comintern Pact with the Empire of Japan.[30] Fascist Italy joined the Pact a year later.[28][31] The German Anschluss
Anschluss
of Austria
Austria
in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
(1938–1939) demonstrated the impossibility of establishing a collective security system in Europe,[32] a policy advocated by the Soviet ministry of foreign affairs under Maxim Litvinov.[33][34] This, as well as the reluctance of the British and French governments to sign a full-scale anti-German political and military alliance with the USSR,[35] led to the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact
Molotov–Ribbentrop pact
between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Germany in late August 1939.[36] The separate Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
between what became the three prime Axis Powers
Axis Powers
would not be signed until some four years after the Anti- Comintern
Comintern
pact. Forces[edit] See also: Aufbau Ost (1940) and Lossberg study

situation as of June 1941

The war was fought between Nazi Germany, its allies and Finland, against the Soviet Union. The conflict began on 22 June 1941 with the Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
offensive, when Axis forces crossed the borders described in the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact, thereby invading the Soviet Union. The war ended on 9 May 1945, when Germany's armed forces surrendered unconditionally following the Battle of Berlin (also known as the Berlin
Berlin
Offensive), a strategic operation executed by the Red Army. The states that provided forces and other resources for the German war effort included the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
– primarily Romania, Hungary, Italy, pro-Nazi Slovakia, and Croatia. Anti-Soviet Finland, which had fought the Winter War
Winter War
against the Soviet Union, also joined the offensive. The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
forces were also assisted by anti- Communist
Communist
partisans in places like Western Ukraine, and the Baltic states. Among the most prominent volunteer army formations was the Spanish Blue Division, sent by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to keep his ties to the Axis intact.[37] The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
offered support to the partisans in many Wehrmacht-occupied countries in Central Europe, notably those in Slovakia, Poland
Poland
and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In addition, the Polish Armed Forces in the East, particularly the First and Second Polish armies, were armed and trained, and would eventually fight alongside the Red Army. The Free French
Free French
forces also contributed to the Red Army
Red Army
by the formation of the GC3 (Groupe de Chasse 3 or 3rd Fighter Group) unit to fulfill the commitment of Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French, who thought that it was important for French servicemen to serve on all fronts. A strategic air offensive by the United States
United States
Army Air Force and Royal Air Force played a significant part in reducing German industry and tying up German air force and air defense resources, with some bombings, such as the bombing of the eastern German city of Dresden, being done to facilitate specific Soviet operational goals. In addition to Germany, hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped on their eastern allies of Romania
Romania
and Hungary, primarily in an attempt to cripple Romanian oil production. British and Commonwealth forces also contributed directly to the fighting on the Eastern Front through their service in the Arctic convoys and training Red Air Force pilots, as well as in the provision of early material and intelligence support. The later massive material support of the Lend-Lease agreement by the United States
United States
and Canada played a significant part particularly in the logistics of the war. Among other goods, Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
supplied:[38]

58% of the USSR's high octane aviation fuel 33% of their motor vehicles 53% of expended ordnance (artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives) 30% of military aircraft 93% of railway equipment (locomotives, freight cars, wide gauge rails, etc.) 50–80% of rolled steel, cable, lead, and aluminium 43% of garage facilities (building materials & blueprints) 12% of tanks and SPGs 50% of TNT (1942 onward)[39]

Comparative strengths of combat forces, Eastern Front, 1941-1945[40]

Date Axis forces Soviet forces

June 1941 3,050,000 Germans, 67,000 (northern Norway); 500,000 Finns, 150,000 Romanians, 62,000 Italians Total: 3,829,000 (80% of the German Army in the east) 2,680,000 (Western MDs), 5,500,000 (overall), 12,000,000 (mobilizable)

June 1942 2,600,000 Germans, 90,000 (northern Norway); 430,000 Finns, 600,000 Romanians, Hungarians, and Italians Total: 3,720,000 (80% of the German Army in the east) 5,313,000 (front); 383,000 (hospital) Total: 9,350,000

July 1943 3,403,000 Germans, 80,000 (northern Norway); 400,000 Finns, 150,000 Romanians and Hungarians Total: 3,933,000 (63% of the German Army in the east) 6,724,000 (front); 446,445 (hospital); Total: 10,300,000

June 1944 2,460,000 Germans, 60,000 (northern Norway); 300,000 Finns, 550,000 Romanians and Hungarians Total: 3,370,000 (62% of the German Army in the east) 6,425,000

Jan. 1945 2,230,000 Germans, 100,000 Hungarians Total: 2,330,000 (60% of the German Army in the east) 6,532,000 (360,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)

Apr 1945 1,960,000 6,410,000 (450,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)

The above figures only include the German Army, i.e. active-duty Heer and SS.[41] In the spring of 1940, Germany had mobilized 5,500,000 men.[42] At time of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht consisted of 3,800,000 men of the Heer, 1,680,000 of the Luftwaffe, 404,000 of the Kriegsmarine, 150,000 of the Waffen-SS, and 1,200,000 of the Replacement Army (contained 450,400 active reservists, 550,000 new recruits and 204,000 in administrative services, vigiles and or in convalescence). The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
had a total strength of 7,234,000 men by 1941. For Operation Barbarossa, Germany mobilized 3,300,000 troops of the Heer, 150,000 of the Waffen-SS[43] and approximately 250,000 personnel of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
were actively earmarked.[44] By July 1943, the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
numbered 6,815,000 troops. Of these, 3,900,000 were deployed in eastern Europe, 180,000 in Finland, 315,000 in Norway, 110,000 in Denmark, 1,370,000 in western Europe, 330,000 in Italy, and 610,000 in the Balkans.[45] According to a presentation by Alfred Jodl, the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
was up to 7,849,000 personnel in April 1944. 3,878,000 were deployed in eastern Europe, 311,000 in Norway/Denmark, 1,873,000 in western Europe, 961,000 in Italy, and 826,000 in the Balkans.[46] For nearly two years the border was quiet while Germany conquered Denmark, Norway, France, The Low Countries, and the Balkans. Hitler had always intended to renege on his pact with the Soviet Union, eventually making the decision to invade in the spring of 1941. Some historians say Stalin
Stalin
was fearful of war with Germany, or just did not expect Germany to start a two-front war, and was reluctant to do anything to provoke Hitler. Others say that Stalin
Stalin
was eager for Germany to be at war with capitalist countries. Another viewpoint is that Stalin
Stalin
expected war in 1942 (the time when all his preparations would be complete) and stubbornly refused to believe its early arrival.[47]

German infantry in June 1943

British historians Alan S. Milward and M. Medlicott show that Nazi Germany—unlike Imperial Germany—was prepared for only a short-term war (Blitzkrieg).[48] According to Edward Ericson, although Germany's own resources were sufficient for the victories in the West in 1940, massive Soviet shipments obtained during a short period of Nazi–Soviet economic collaboration were critical for Germany to launch Operation Barbarossa.[49] Germany had been assembling very large numbers of troops in eastern Poland
Poland
and making repeated reconnaissance flights over the border; the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
responded by assembling its divisions on its western border, although the Soviet mobilization was slower than Germany's due to the country's less dense road network. As in the Sino-Soviet conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway
or Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, Soviet troops on the western border received a directive, signed by Marshal
Marshal
Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Timoshenko
and General of the Army Georgy Zhukov, that ordered (as demanded by Stalin): "do not answer to any provocations" and "do not undertake any (offensive) actions without specific orders" – which meant that Soviet troops could open fire only on their soil and forbade counter-attack on German soil. The German invasion therefore caught the Soviet military and civilian leadership largely by surprise. The extent of warnings received by Stalin
Stalin
about a German invasion is controversial, and the claim that there was a warning that "Germany will attack on 22 June without declaration of war" has been dismissed as a "popular myth". However, some sources quoted in the articles on Soviet spies Richard Sorge
Richard Sorge
and Willi Lehmann, say they had sent warnings of an attack on 20 or 22 June, which were treated as "disinformation". The Lucy spy ring in Switzerland also sent warnings, possibly deriving from Ultra codebreaking in Britain. Soviet intelligence was fooled by German disinformation, so sent false alarms to Moscow
Moscow
about a German invasion in April, May and the beginning of June. Soviet intelligence reported that Germany would rather invade the USSR after the fall of the British Empire[50] or after an unacceptable ultimatum demanding German occupation of Ukraine during the German invasion of Britain.[51] Conduct of operations[edit] Main article: Strategic operations of the Red Army
Red Army
in World War II While German historians do not apply any specific periodisation to the conduct of operations on the Eastern Front, all Soviet and Russian historians divide the war against Germany and its allies into three periods, which are further subdivided into eight major Campaigns of the Theatre of war:[52]

First period of Great Patriotic war (Russian: Первый период Великой Отечественной войны) (22 June 1941 – 18 November 1942)

Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1941 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1941 г.) (22 June – 4 December 1941) Winter Campaign of 1941–42 (Russian: Зимняя кампания 1941/42 г.) (5 December 1941 – 30 April 1942) Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1942 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1942 г.) (1 May – 18 November 1942)

Second period of Great Patriotic war (Russian: Второй период Великой Отечественной войны) (19 November 1942 – 31 December 1943)

Winter Campaign of 1942–43 (Russian: Зимняя кампания 1942–1943 гг.) (19 November 1942 – 3 March 1943) Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1943 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1943 г.) (1 July – 31 December 1943)

Third period of Great Patriotic war (Russian: Третий период Великой Отечественной войны) (1 January 1944 – 9 May 1945)

Winter–Spring Campaign (Russian: Зимне-весенняя кампания 1944 г.) (1 January – 31 May 1944) Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1944 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1944 г.) (1 June – 31 December 1944) Campaign in Europe during 1945 (Russian: Кампания в Европе 1945 г.) (1 January – 9 May 1945)

Operation Barbarossa: Summer 1941[edit]

Operation Barbarossa: the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 21 June 1941 to 5 December 1941:   to 9 July 1941   to 1 September 1941   to 9 September 1941   to 5 December 1941

Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
began just before dawn on 22 June 1941. The Germans wrecked the wire network in all Soviet western military districts to undermine Soviet communications.[53] Panicky transmissions from Soviet front-line units to their command headquarters were picked up like this one:

"We are being fired upon. What shall we do?" The answer was just as confusing: "You must be insane. And why is your signal not in code?"[54]

Map of South Western Front (Ukrainian) at 22 June 1941

At 03:15 on 22 June 1941, 99 of 190 German divisions, including fourteen panzer divisions and ten motorized, were deployed against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
from the Baltic to the Black Sea. They were accompanied by ten Romanian divisions, and nine Romanian and four Hungarian brigades.[55] On the same day, the Baltic, Western and Kiev Special military districts were renamed the Northwestern, Western and Southwestern Fronts respectively.[53] To establish air supremacy, the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
began immediate attacks on Soviet airfields, destroying much of the forward-deployed Soviet Air Force airfield fleets consisting of largely obsolescent types before their pilots had a chance to leave the ground.[56] For a month the offensive conducted on three axes was completely unstoppable as the panzer forces encircled hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops in huge pockets that were then reduced by slower-moving infantry armies while the panzers continued the offensive, following the Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
doctrine. Army Group
Army Group
North's objective was Leningrad via the Baltic states. Comprising the 16th and 18th Armies and the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Group, this formation advanced through the Baltic states, and the Russian Pskov and Novgorod
Novgorod
regions. Local insurgents seized the moment and controlled most of Lithuania, northern Latvia and southern Estonia prior to the arrival of the German forces.[57][58]

The corpses of victims of Stalin's NKVD
NKVD
murdered in the last few days of June 1941, just after the outbreak of war

Army Group
Army Group
Centre's two panzer groups (the 2nd and 3rd), advanced to the north and south of Brest-Litovsk
Brest-Litovsk
and converged east of Minsk, followed by the 2nd, 4th, and 9th Armies. The combined panzer force reached the Beresina River in just six days, 650 km (400 mi) from their start lines. The next objective was to cross the Dnieper river, which was accomplished by 11 July. Their next target was Smolensk, which fell on 16 July, but the fierce Soviet resistance in the Smolensk
Smolensk
area and slowing of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
advance in North and South[clarification needed] forced Hitler to halt a central thrust at Moscow
Moscow
and to divert the 3rd Panzer
Panzer
Group north. Critically, Guderian's 2nd Panzer
Panzer
Group was ordered to move south in a giant pincer maneuver with Army Group South
Army Group South
which was advancing into Ukraine. Army Group
Army Group
Centre's infantry divisions were left relatively unsupported by armor to continue their slow advance to Moscow.[59] This decision caused a severe leadership crisis. The German field commanders argued for an immediate offensive towards Moscow, but Hitler overruled them, citing the importance of Ukrainian agricultural, mining and industrial resources, as well as the massing of Soviet reserves in the Gomel
Gomel
area between Army Group
Army Group
Centre's southern flank and the bogged-down Army Group
Army Group
South's northern flank. This decision, Hitler's "summer pause",[59] is believed to have had a severe impact on the Battle of Moscow's outcome, by slowing down the advance on Moscow
Moscow
in favor of encircling large numbers of Soviet troops around Kiev.[60] Army Group
Army Group
South, with the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Group, the 6th, 11th and 17th Armies, was tasked with advancing through Galicia and into Ukraine. Their progress, however, was rather slow, and they took heavy casualties in a major tank battle. At the beginning of July, the Third and Fourth Romanian Armies, aided by elements of the German 11th Army, fought their way through Bessarabia
Bessarabia
towards Odessa. The 1st Panzer Group turned away from Kiev for the moment, advancing into the Dnieper bend (western Dnipropetrovsk Oblast). When it joined up with the southern elements of Army Group South
Army Group South
at Uman, the Group captured about 100,000 Soviet prisoners in a huge encirclement. Advancing armored divisions of the Army Group South
Army Group South
met with Guderian's 2nd Panzer
Panzer
Group near Lokhvytsa in mid September, cutting off large numbers of Red Army
Red Army
troops in the pocket east of Kiev.[59] 400,000 Soviet prisoners were captured as Kiev was surrendered on 19 September.[59]

Soviet children during a German air raid in the first days of the war, June 1941, by RIA Novosti
RIA Novosti
archive

As the Red Army
Red Army
withdrew behind the Dnieper and Dvina rivers, the Soviet Stavka
Stavka
(high command) turned its attention to evacuating as much of the western regions' industry as it could. Factories were dismantled and transported on flatcars away from the front line for re-establishment in more remote areas of the Ural Mountains, Caucasus, Central Asia
Central Asia
and south-eastern Siberia. Most civilians were left to make their own way east, with only industry-related workers evacuated with the equipment; much of the population was left behind to the mercy of the invading forces. Stalin
Stalin
ordered the retreating Red Army
Red Army
to initiate a scorched-earth policy to deny the Germans and their allies basic supplies as they advanced eastward. To carry out that order, destruction battalions were formed in front-line areas, having the authority to summarily execute any suspicious person. The destruction battalions burned down villages, schools, and public buildings.[61] As a part of this policy, the NKVD
NKVD
massacred thousands of anti-Soviet prisoners.[62] Leningrad, Moscow
Moscow
and Rostov: Autumn 1941[edit] Main articles: Siege of Leningrad, Battle of Moscow, and Battle of Rostov (1941) Hitler then decided to resume the advance on Moscow, re-designating the panzer groups as panzer armies for the occasion. Operation Typhoon, which was set in motion on 30 September, saw the 2nd Panzer Army rush along the paved road from Oryol
Oryol
(captured 5 October) to the Oka River
Oka River
at Plavsk, while the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army (transferred from Army Group North to Centre) and 3rd Panzer
Panzer
armies surrounded the Soviet forces in two huge pockets at Vyazma
Vyazma
and Bryansk.[63] Army Group
Army Group
North positioned itself in front of Leningrad and attempted to cut the rail link at Mga
Mga
to the east.[64] This began the 900-day Siege of Leningrad. North of the Arctic Circle, a German–Finnish force set out for Murmansk but could get no further than the Zapadnaya Litsa River, where they settled down.[65]

Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
soldiers pulling a car from the mud during the rasputitsa period, November 1941

Army Group South
Army Group South
pushed down from the Dnieper to the Sea of Azov coast, also advancing through Kharkov, Kursk, and Stalino. The combined German and Romanian forces moved into the Crimea
Crimea
and took control of all of the peninsula by autumn (except Sevastopol, which held out until 3 July 1942). On 21 November, the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
took Rostov, the gateway to the Caucasus. However, the German lines were over-extended and the Soviet defenders counterattacked the 1st Panzer Army's spearhead from the north, forcing them to pull out of the city and behind the Mius
Mius
River; the first significant German withdrawal of the war.[66][67]

Soviet gun crew in action at Odessa
Odessa
in 1941

The onset of the winter freeze saw one last German lunge that opened on 15 November, when the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
attempted to encircle Moscow. On 27 November, the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army got to within 30 km (19 mi) of the Kremlin when it reached the last tramstop of the Moscow
Moscow
line at Khimki. Meanwhile, the 2nd Panzer
Panzer
Army failed to take Tula, the last Soviet city that stood in its way to the capital. After a meeting held in Orsha
Orsha
between the head of the OKH
OKH
(Army General Staff), General Franz Halder
Franz Halder
and the heads of three Army groups and armies, decided to push forward to Moscow
Moscow
since it was better, as argued by the head of Army Group
Army Group
Center, Field Marshal
Marshal
Fedor von Bock, for them to try their luck on the battlefield rather than just sit and wait while their opponent gathered more strength.[68] However, by 6 December it became clear that the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
did not have the strength to capture Moscow, and the attack was suspended. Marshal Shaposhnikov thus began his counter-attack, employing freshly mobilized reserves,[69] as well as some well-trained Far-Eastern divisions transferred from the east following intelligence that Japan would remain neutral.[70] Soviet counter-offensive: Winter 1941[edit] Main articles: Battle of Moscow, Second Battle of Kharkov, and Winter Campaign of 1941–1942

The Soviet winter counter-offensive, 5 December 1941 to 7 May 1942:   Soviet gains   German gains

The Soviet counter-offensive during the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
had removed the immediate German threat to the city. According to Zhukov, "the success of the December counter-offensive in the central strategic direction was considerable. Having suffered a major defeat the German striking forces of Army Group Centre were retreating." Stalin's objective in January 1942 was "to deny the Germans any breathing space, to drive them westward without let-up, to make them use up their reserves before spring comes..."[71] The main blow was to be delivered by a double envelopment orchestrated by the Northwestern Front, the Kalinin Front and the Western Front. The overall objective according to Zhukov
Zhukov
was the "subsequent encirclement and destruction of the enemy's main forces in the area of Rzhev, Vyazma
Vyazma
and Smolensk. The Leningrad Front, the Volkhov Front
Volkhov Front
and the right wing forces of the Northwestern Front were to rout the Army Group North." The Southwestern Front and Southern Front were to defeat the Army Group
Army Group
South. The Caucasian Front and Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
were to take back the Crimea.[71]:53 The 20th Army, part of the 1st Shock Army, the 22nd Tank Brigade
Brigade
and five ski battalions launched their attack on 10 January 1942. By 17 January, the Soviets had captured Lotoshino and Shakhovskaya. By 20 January, the 5th and 33rd armies had captured Ruza, Dorokhovo, Mozhaisk and Vereya, while the 43rd and 49th armies were at Domanovo.[71]:58–59 The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
rallied, retaining a salient at Rzhev. A Soviet parachute drop by two battalions of the 201st Airborne Brigade
Brigade
and the 250th Airborne Regiment
Regiment
on 18 and 22 January was designed to "cut off enemy communications with the rear." Lt.-Gen. Mikhail Grigoryevich Yefremov's 33rd Army aided by Gen. Belov's 1st Cavalry Corps and Soviet Partisans
Soviet Partisans
attempted to seize Vyazma. This force was joined by additional paratroopers of the 8th Airborne Brigade
Brigade
at the end of January. However, in early February, the Germans managed to cut off this force, separating the Soviets from their main force in the rear of the Germans. They were supplied by air until April when they were given permission to regain the Soviet main lines. Only part of Belov's Cavalry Corps made it to safety however, while Yefremov's men fought "a losing battle."[71]:59–62 By April 1942, the Soviet Supreme Command agreed to assume the defensive so as to "consolidate the captured ground." According to Zhukov, "During the winter offensive, the forces of the Western Front had advanced from 70 to 100 km, which somewhat improved the overall operational and strategic situation on the Western sector."[71]:64 To the north, the Red Army
Red Army
surrounded a German garrison in Demyansk, which held out with air supply for four months, and established themselves in front of Kholm, Velizh, and Velikie Luki. Further north still, the Soviet Second Shock Army was unleashed on the Volkhov River. Initially this made some progress; however, it was unsupported, and by June a German counterattack cut off and destroyed the army. The Soviet commander, Lieutenant General Andrey Vlasov, later defected to Germany and formed the ROA or Russian Liberation Army. In the south the Red Army
Red Army
lunged over the Donets River
Donets River
at Izyum
Izyum
and drove a 100 km (62 mi) deep salient. The intent was to pin Army Group South
Army Group South
against the Sea of Azov, but as the winter eased the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
counter-attacked and cut off the over-extended Soviet troops in the Second Battle of Kharkov. Don, Volga, and Caucasus: Summer 1942[edit] Main articles: Case Blue, Battle of Voronezh (1942), and Battle of Stalingrad

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Operation Blue: German advances from 7 May 1942 to 18 November 1942:   to 7 July 1942   to 22 July 1942   to 1 August 1942   to 18 November 1942

Although plans were made to attack Moscow
Moscow
again, on 28 June 1942, the offensive re-opened in a different direction. Army Group South
Army Group South
took the initiative, anchoring the front with the Battle of Voronezh and then following the Don river southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and Volga
Volga
first and then drive into the Caucasus towards the oil fields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on 24 July when the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army joined in, and then that group drove south towards Maikop. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of Brandenburger commandos dressed up as Soviet NKVD
NKVD
troops to destabilise Maikop's defenses and allow the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army to enter the oil town with little opposition. Meanwhile, the 6th Army was driving towards Stalingrad, for a long period unsupported by 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army, which had been diverted to help 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army cross the Don. By the time the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army had rejoined the Stalingrad
Stalingrad
offensive Soviet resistance (comprising the 62nd Army under Vasily Chuikov) had stiffened. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga
Volga
on 23 August but for the next three months the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street. Towards the south, the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army had reached the Caucasian foothills and the Malka River. At the end of August Romanian mountain troops joined the Caucasian spearhead, while the Romanian 3rd and 4th armies were redeployed from their successful task of clearing the Azov littoral. They took up position on either side of Stalingrad
Stalingrad
to free German troops for the main offensive. Mindful of the continuing antagonism between Axis allies Romania
Romania
and Hungary
Hungary
over Transylvania, the Romanian army in the Don bend was separated from the Hungarian 2nd army by the Italian 8th Army. Thus, all of Hitler's allies were involved – including a Slovakian contingent with the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army and a Croatian regiment attached to 6th Army. The advance into the Caucasus
Caucasus
bogged down, with the Germans unable to fight their way past Malgobek
Malgobek
and to the main prize of Grozny. Instead, they switched the direction of their advance to approach it from the south, crossing the Malka at the end of October and entering North Ossetia. In the first week of November, on the outskirts of Ordzhonikidze, the 13th Panzer
Panzer
Division's spearhead was snipped off and the panzer troops had to fall back. The offensive into Russia
Russia
was over. Stalingrad: Winter 1942[edit]

Operations Uranus, Saturn and Mars: Soviet advances on the Eastern Front, 18 November 1942 to March 1943:   to 12 December 1942   to 18 February 1943   to March 1943 (Soviet gains only)

Main articles: Battle of Stalingrad, Operation Little Saturn, Operation Mars, Third Battle of Kharkov, and Battle for Velikiye Luki (1943) While the German 6th and 4th Panzer
Panzer
Armies had been fighting their way into Stalingrad, Soviet armies had congregated on either side of the city, specifically into the Don bridgeheads, and it was from these that they struck in November 1942. In Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus
started on 19 November, two Soviet fronts punched through the Romanian lines and converged at Kalach on 23 November, trapping 300,000 Axis troops behind them.[72] A simultaneous offensive on the Rzhev sector known as Operation Mars
Operation Mars
was supposed to advance to Smolensk, but was a costly failure, with German tactical defenses preventing any breakthrough.

A Soviet junior political officer (Politruk) urges Soviet troops forward against German positions (12 July 1942)

German infantry and a supporting StuG III assault gun during the advance towards Stalingrad, September 1942

The Germans rushed to transfer troops to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
for a desperate attempt to relieve Stalingrad, but the offensive could not get going until 12 December, by which time the 6th Army in Stalingrad was starving and too weak to break out towards it. Operation Winter Storm, with three transferred panzer divisions, got going briskly from Kotelnikovo towards the Aksai river but became bogged down 65 km (40 mi) short of its goal. To divert the rescue attempt, the Red Army decided to smash the Italians and come down behind the relief attempt if they could; that operation starting on 16 December. What it did accomplish was to destroy many of the aircraft that had been transporting relief supplies to Stalingrad. The fairly limited scope of the Soviet offensive, although still eventually targeted on Rostov, also allowed Hitler time to see sense and pull Army Group
Army Group
A out of the Caucasus
Caucasus
and back over the Don.[73] On 31 January 1943, the 90,000 survivors of the 300,000-man 6th Army surrendered. By that time the Hungarian 2nd Army had also been wiped out. The Red Army
Red Army
advanced from the Don 500 km (310 mi) to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk
Kursk
(retaken on 8 February 1943) and Kharkov
Kharkov
(retaken 16 February 1943). In order to save the position in the south, the Germans decided to abandon the Rzhev salient in February, freeing enough troops to make a successful riposte in eastern Ukraine. Manstein's counteroffensive, strengthened by a specially trained SS Panzer
Panzer
Corps equipped with Tiger tanks, opened on 20 February 1943 and fought its way from Poltava
Poltava
back into Kharkov
Kharkov
in the third week of March, when the spring thaw intervened. This left a glaring Soviet bulge (salient) in the front centered on Kursk. Kursk: Summer 1943[edit] Main article: Battle of Kursk

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Soldiers of the 1st SS Panzer
Panzer
Division near Kharkov, February 1943

German advances at Kharkov
Kharkov
and Kursk, 19 February 1943 to 1 August 1943:   to 18 March 1943   to 1 August 1943

After the failure of the attempt to capture Stalingrad, Hitler had delegated planning authority for the upcoming campaign season to the German Army High Command
German Army High Command
and reinstated Heinz Guderian
Heinz Guderian
to a prominent role, this time as Inspector of Panzer
Panzer
Troops. Debate among the General Staff was polarised, with even Hitler nervous about any attempt to pinch off the Kursk
Kursk
salient. He knew that in the intervening six months the Soviet position at Kursk
Kursk
had been reinforced heavily with anti-tank guns, tank traps, landmines, barbed wire, trenches, pillboxes, artillery and mortars. However, if one last great blitzkrieg offensive could be mounted, then attention could then be turned to the Allied threat to the Western Front. Certainly, the peace negotiations in April had gone nowhere.[74] The advance would be executed from the Orel salient to the north of Kursk
Kursk
and from Belgorod to the south. Both wings would converge on the area east of Kursk, and by that means restore the lines of Army Group South
Army Group South
to the exact points that it held over the winter of 1941–1942.

The Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
was the largest tank battle ever fought.

In the north, the entire German 9th Army had been redeployed from the Rzhev salient into the Orel salient and was to advance from Maloarkhangelsk to Kursk. But its forces could not even get past the first objective at Olkhovatka, just 8 km (5.0 mi) into the advance. The 9th Army blunted its spearhead against the Soviet minefields, frustratingly so considering that the high ground there was the only natural barrier between them and flat tank country all the way to Kursk. The direction of advance was then switched to Ponyri, to the west of Olkhovatka, but the 9th Army could not break through here either and went over to the defensive. The Red Army
Red Army
then launched a counter-offensive, Operation Kutuzov. On 12 July the Red Army battled through the demarcation line between the 211th and 293rd divisions on the Zhizdra River and steamed towards Karachev, right behind them and behind Orel. The southern offensive, spearheaded by 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army, led by Gen. Col. Hoth, with three Tank Corps made more headway. Advancing on either side of the upper Donets on a narrow corridor, the II SS Panzer
Panzer
Corps and the Großdeutschland Panzergrenadier divisions battled their way through minefields and over comparatively high ground towards Oboyan. Stiff resistance caused a change of direction from east to west of the front, but the tanks got 25 km (16 mi) before encountering the reserves of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army
Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army
outside Prokhorovka. Battle was joined on 12 July, with about one thousand tanks being engaged. After the war, the battle near Prochorovka was idealized by Soviet historians as the largest tank battle of all time. The meeting engagement at Prochorovka was a Soviet defensive success, albeit at heavy cost. The Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army, with about 800 light and medium tanks, attacked elements of the II SS Panzer
Panzer
Corps. Tank losses on both sides have been the source of controversy ever since. Although the 5th Guards Tank Army did not attain its objectives, the German advance had been halted. At the end of the day both sides had fought each other to a standstill, but regardless of the German failure in the north Erich von Manstein proposed he continue the attack with the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army. The Red Army
Red Army
started the strong offensive operation in the northern Orel salient and achieved a breakthrough on the flank of the German 9th Army. Also worried by the Allies' landing in Sicily on 10 July, Hitler made the decision to halt the offensive even as the German 9th Army was rapidly giving ground in the north. The Germans' final strategic offensive in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
ended with their defense against a major Soviet counteroffensive that lasted into August. The Kursk
Kursk
offensive was the last on the scale of 1940 and 1941 that the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
was able to launch; subsequent offensives would represent only a shadow of previous German offensive might. Autumn and Winter 1943–44[edit] Main articles: Korsun–Shevchenkovsky Offensive, Battle of Smolensk (1943), Lower Dnieper Offensive, Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive, Leningrad– Novgorod
Novgorod
Offensive, and Battle of Narva (1944)

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"Katyusha" – a notable Soviet rocket launcher

The Soviet multi-stage summer offensive started with the advance into the Orel salient. The diversion of the well-equipped Großdeutschland Division from Belgorod
Belgorod
to Karachev
Karachev
could not counteract it, and the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
began a withdrawal from Orel (retaken by the Red Army
Red Army
on 5 August 1943), falling back to the Hagen line in front of Bryansk. To the south, the Red Army
Red Army
broke through Army Group
Army Group
South's Belgorod positions and headed for Kharkov
Kharkov
once again. Although intense battles of movement throughout late July and into August 1943 saw the Tigers blunting Soviet tank attacks on one axis, they were soon outflanked on another line to the west as the Soviet forces advanced down the Psel, and Kharkov
Kharkov
was abandoned for the final time on 22 August. The German forces on the Mius, now comprising the 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army and a reconstituted 6th Army, were by August too weak to repulse a Soviet attack on their own front, and when the Red Army
Red Army
hit them they retreated all the way through the Donbass
Donbass
industrial region to the Dnieper, losing half the farmland that Germany had invaded the Soviet Union to exploit. At this time Hitler agreed to a general withdrawal to the Dnieper line, along which was meant to be the Ostwall, a line of defence similar to the Westwall (Siegfried Line) of fortifications along the German frontier in the west. The main problem for the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
was that these defences had not yet been built; by the time Army Group South
Army Group South
had evacuated eastern Ukraine
Ukraine
and begun withdrawing across the Dnieper during September, the Soviet forces were hard behind them. Tenaciously, small units paddled their way across the 3 km (1.9 mi) wide river and established bridgeheads. A second attempt by the Red Army
Red Army
to gain land using parachutists, mounted at Kanev on 24 September, proved as disappointing as at Dorogobuzh eighteen months previously. The paratroopers were soon repelled – but not until still more Red Army
Red Army
troops had used the cover they provided to get themselves over the Dnieper and securely dug in. As September ended and October started, the Germans found the Dnieper line impossible to hold as the Soviet bridgeheads grew, and important Dnieper towns started to fall, with Zaporozhye
Zaporozhye
the first to go, followed by Dnepropetrovsk. Finally, early in November the Red Army broke out of its bridgeheads on either side of Kiev and captured the Ukrainian capital, at that time the third largest city in the Soviet Union.

Soviet sniper Roza Shanina
Roza Shanina
in 1944. About 400,000 Soviet women served in front-line duty units, mostly as medics.[75][76]

Eighty miles west of Kiev, the 4th Panzer
Panzer
Army, still convinced that the Red Army
Red Army
was a spent force, was able to mount a successful riposte at Zhytomyr
Zhytomyr
during the middle of November, weakening the Soviet bridgehead by a daring outflanking strike mounted by the SS Panzer Corps along the river Teterev. This battle also enabled Army Group South to recapture Korosten and gain some time to rest; however, on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
the retreat began anew when the First Ukrainian Front (renamed from the Voronezh Front) struck them in the same place. The Soviet advance continued along the railway line until the 1939 Polish–Soviet border was reached on 3 January 1944. To the south, the Second Ukrainian Front (ex Steppe Front) had crossed the Dnieper at Kremenchug
Kremenchug
and continued westwards. In the second week of January 1944 they swung north, meeting Vatutin's tank forces which had swung south from their penetration into Poland
Poland
and surrounding ten German divisions at Korsun–Shevchenkovsky, west of Cherkassy. Hitler's insistence on holding the Dnieper line, even when facing the prospect of catastrophic defeat, was compounded by his conviction that the Cherkassy pocket could break out and even advance to Kiev, but Manstein was more concerned about being able to advance to the edge of the pocket and then implore the surrounded forces to break out. By 16 February the first stage was complete, with panzers separated from the contracting Cherkassy pocket only by the swollen Gniloy Tikich river. Under shellfire and pursued by Soviet tanks, the surrounded German troops, among whom were the 5th SS Panzer
Panzer
Division Wiking, fought their way across the river to safety, although at the cost of half their number and all their equipment. They assumed the Red Army
Red Army
would not attack again, with the spring approaching, but on 3 March the Soviet Ukrainian Front went over to the offensive. Having already isolated the Crimea
Crimea
by severing the Perekop isthmus, Malinovsky's forces advanced across the mud to the Romanian border, not stopping on the river Prut.

Soviet advances from 1 August 1943 to 31 December 1944:   to 1 December 1943   to 30 April 1944   to 19 August 1944   to 31 December 1944

One final move in the south completed the 1943–44 campaigning season, which had wrapped up a Soviet advance of over 500 miles. In March, 20 German divisions of Generaloberst
Generaloberst
Hans-Valentin Hube's 1st Panzer
Panzer
Army were encircled in what was to be known as Hube's Pocket near Kamenets-Podolskiy. After two weeks' of heavy fighting, the 1st Panzer
Panzer
managed to escape the pocket, suffering only light to moderate casualties. At this point, Hitler sacked several prominent generals, Manstein included. In April, the Red Army
Red Army
took back Odessa, followed by 4th Ukrainian Front's campaign to restore control over the Crimea, which culminated in the capture of Sevastopol
Sevastopol
on 10 May. Along Army Group
Army Group
Centre's front, August 1943 saw this force pushed back from the Hagen line slowly, ceding comparatively little territory, but the loss of Bryansk, and more importantly Smolensk, on 25 September cost the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
the keystone of the entire German defensive system. The 4th and 9th armies and 3rd Panzer
Panzer
Army still held their own east of the upper Dnieper, stifling Soviet attempts to reach Vitebsk. On Army Group
Army Group
North's front, there was barely any fighting at all until January 1944, when out of nowhere Volkhov and Second Baltic Fronts struck. In a lightning campaign, the Germans were pushed back from Leningrad and Novgorod
Novgorod
was captured by Soviet forces. After a 75-mile advance in January and February, the Leningrad Front had reached the borders of Estonia. To Stalin, the Baltic Sea seemed the quickest way to take the battles to the German territory in East Prussia and seize control of Finland.[77] The Leningrad Front's offensives towards Tallinn, a main Baltic port, were stopped in February 1944. The German army group "Narwa" included Estonian conscripts, defending the re-establishment of Estonian independence.[78][79] Summer 1944[edit] Main articles: Crimean Offensive
Crimean Offensive
(1944), Operation Bagration, Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive, Battle of Tannenberg Line, Warsaw Uprising, Slovak National Uprising, Battle of Romania
Romania
(1944), Battle of Debrecen, and Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive

The Red Army
Red Army
is greeted in Bucharest, August 1944

Soviet and Polish Armia Krajowa
Armia Krajowa
soldiers in Vilnius, July 1944

Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
planners were convinced that the Red Army
Red Army
would attack again in the south, where the front was fifty miles from Lviv
Lviv
and offered the most direct route to Berlin. Accordingly, they stripped troops from Army Group
Army Group
Centre, whose front still protruded deep into the Soviet Union. The Germans had transferred some units to France to counter the invasion of Normandy
Normandy
two weeks before. The Belorussian Offensive (codenamed Operation Bagration), which was agreed upon by Allies at the Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
in December 1943 and launched on 22 June 1944, was a massive Soviet attack, consisting of four Soviet army groups totaling over 120 divisions that smashed into a thinly held German line. They focused their massive attacks on Army Group
Army Group
Centre, not Army Group North Ukraine
Ukraine
as the Germans had originally expected. More than 2.3 million Soviet troops went into action against German Army Group
Army Group
Centre, which boasted a strength of fewer than 800,000 men. At the points of attack, the numerical and quality advantages of the Soviet forces were overwhelming: the Red Army
Red Army
achieved a ratio of ten to one in tanks and seven to one in aircraft over their enemy. The Germans crumbled. The capital of Belarus, Minsk, was taken on 3 July, trapping some 100,000 Germans. Ten days later the Red Army
Red Army
reached the prewar Polish border. Bagration was, by any measure, one of the largest single operations of the war. By the end of August 1944, it had cost the Germans ~400,000 dead, wounded, missing and sick, from whom 160,000 were captured, as well as 2,000 tanks and 57,000 other vehicles. In the operation, the Red Army
Red Army
lost ~180,000 dead and missing (765,815 in total, including wounded and sick plus 5,073 Poles),[80] as well as 2,957 tanks and assault guns. The offensive at Estonia claimed another 480,000 Soviet soldiers, 100,000 of them classed as dead.[81][82] The neighbouring Lvov–Sandomierz operation was launched on 17 July 1944, with the Red Army
Red Army
routing the German forces in Western Ukraine and retaking Lviv. The Soviet advance in the south continued into Romania
Romania
and, following a coup against the Axis-allied government of Romania
Romania
on 23 August, the Red Army
Red Army
occupied Bucharest
Bucharest
on 31 August. Romania
Romania
and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
signed an armistice on 12 September.[citation needed]

Soviet soldiers advance through the streets of Jelgava; summer 1944

The rapid progress of Operation Bagration
Operation Bagration
threatened to cut off and isolate the German units of Army Group North bitterly resisting the Soviet advance towards Tallinn. In a ferocious attack at the Sinimäed Hills, Estonia, the Soviet Leningrad Front
Leningrad Front
failed to break through the defence of the smaller, well-fortified army detachment "Narwa" in terrain not suitable for large-scale operations.[83][84] On the Karelian Isthmus, the Red Army
Red Army
launched a Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive against the Finnish lines on 9 June 1944, (coordinated with the Allied Invasion of Normandy). Three armies were pitted there against the Finns, among them several experienced guards rifle formations. The attack breached the Finnish front line of defence in Valkeasaari on 10 June and the Finnish forces retreated to their secondary defence line, the VT-line. The Soviet attack was supported by a heavy artillery barrage, air bombardments and armoured forces. The VT-line
VT-line
was breached on 14 June and after a failed counterattack in Kuuterselkä by the Finnish armoured division, the Finnish defense had to be pulled back to the VKT-line. After heavy fighting in the battles of Tali-Ihantala and Ilomantsi, Finnish troops finally managed to halt the Soviet attack.[citation needed] In Poland, as the Red Army
Red Army
approached, the Polish Home Army
Polish Home Army
(AK) launched Operation Tempest. During the Warsaw
Warsaw
Uprising, the Soviet Army halted at the Vistula River, unable or unwilling to come to the aid of the Polish resistance.[citation needed] In Slovakia, the Slovak National Uprising
Slovak National Uprising
started as an armed struggle between German Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
forces and rebel Slovak troops between August and October 1944. It was centered at Banská Bystrica.[citation needed] Autumn 1944[edit]

Over three million German and axis personnel were awarded the Eastern Front Medal for service during 15 November 1941 – 15 April 1942. It was nicknamed the Gefrierfleischorden – "frozen meat-medal".[85]

Main articles: Baltic Offensive
Baltic Offensive
(1944), Belgrade Offensive, and Budapest
Budapest
Offensive On 8 September 1944 the Red Army
Red Army
began an attack on the Dukla Pass on the Slovak–Polish border. Two months later, the Soviet forces won the battle and entered Slovakia. The toll was high: 20,000 Red Army soldiers died, plus several thousand Germans, Slovaks and Czechs. Under the pressure of the Soviet Baltic Offensive, the German Army Group North were withdrawn to fight in the sieges of Saaremaa, Courland and Memel. January–March 1945[edit]

Soviet advances from 1 January 1945 to 11 May 1945:   to 30 March 1945   to 11 May 1945

Main article: Vistula–Oder Offensive (January–February) with the follow-up East Pomeranian Offensive
East Pomeranian Offensive
and Silesian Offensives (February–April), East Prussian Offensive
East Prussian Offensive
(January–April), Vienna Offensive (March–April)]] The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
finally entered Warsaw
Warsaw
on 17 January 1945, after the city was destroyed and abandoned by the Germans. Over three days, on a broad front incorporating four army fronts, the Red Army
Red Army
launched Vistula–Oder Offensive across the Narew River and from Warsaw. The Soviets outnumbered the Germans on average by 5-6:1 in troops, 6:1 in artillery, 6:1 in tanks and 4:1 in self-propelled artillery. After four days the Red Army
Red Army
broke out and started moving thirty to forty kilometres a day, taking the Baltic states, Danzig, East Prussia, Poznań, and drawing up on a line sixty kilometres east of Berlin along the River Oder. During the full course of the Vistula–Oder operation (23 days), the Red Army
Red Army
forces sustained 194,191 total casualties (killed, wounded and missing) and lost 1,267 tanks and assault guns. On 25 January 1945, Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group
Army Group
North became Army Group
Army Group
Courland; Army Group Centre became Army Group
Army Group
North and Army Group
Army Group
A became Army Group
Army Group
Centre. Army Group North (old Army Group Centre) was driven into an ever-smaller pocket around Königsberg
Königsberg
in East Prussia.

German refugees from East Prussia, February 1945

A limited counter-attack (codenamed Operation Solstice) by the newly created Army Group
Army Group
Vistula, under the command of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, had failed by 24 February, and the Red Army
Red Army
drove on to Pomerania
Pomerania
and cleared the right bank of the Oder
Oder
River. In the south, the German attempts, in Operation Konrad, to relieve the encircled garrison at Budapest
Budapest
failed and the city fell on 13 February. On 6 March, the Germans launched what would be their final major offensive of the war, Operation Spring Awakening, which failed by 16 March. On 30 March the Red Army
Red Army
entered Austria
Austria
and captured Vienna
Vienna
on 13 April. OKW claim German losses of 77,000 killed, 334,000 wounded and 292,000 missing, with a total of 703,000 men, on the Eastern Front during January and February 1945.[86] On 9 April 1945, Königsberg
Königsberg
in East Prussia
East Prussia
finally fell to the Red Army, although the shattered remnants of Army Group Centre continued to resist on the Vistula Spit
Vistula Spit
and Hel Peninsula
Peninsula
until the end of the war in Europe. The East Prussian operation, though often overshadowed by the Vistula– Oder
Oder
operation and the later battle for Berlin, was in fact one of the largest and costliest operations fought by the Red Army throughout the war. During the period it lasted (13 January – 25 April), it cost the Red Army
Red Army
584,788 casualties, and 3,525 tanks and assault guns. The fall of Königsberg
Königsberg
allowed Stavka
Stavka
to free up General Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front
2nd Belorussian Front
(2BF) to move west to the east bank of the Oder. During the first two weeks of April, the Red Army performed their fastest front redeployment of the war. General Georgy Zhukov
Zhukov
concentrated his 1st Belorussian Front (1BF), which had been deployed along the Oder
Oder
river from Frankfurt in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the Seelow Heights. The 2BF moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German 2nd Army, which had been bottled up in a pocket near Danzig, managed to escape across the Oder. To the south General Ivan Konev
Ivan Konev
shifted the main weight of the 1st Ukrainian Front (1UF) out of Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
north-west to the Neisse
Neisse
River.[87] The three Soviet fronts had altogether some 2.5 million men (including 78,556 soldiers of the 1st Polish Army); 6,250 tanks; 7,500 aircraft; 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars; 3,255 truck-mounted Katyusha rocket launchers, (nicknamed " Stalin
Stalin
Organs"); and 95,383 motor vehicles, many of which were manufactured in the USA.[87] End of the War: April–May 1945[edit] Main articles: Battle of Berlin, Battle of Halbe, and Prague Offensive

14,933,000 Soviet and Soviet-allied personnel were awarded the Medal for Victory over Germany from 9 May 1945

A flag of the Soviet 150th Rifle Division raised over the Reichstag (the Victory Banner)

The Soviet offensive had two objectives. Because of Stalin's suspicions about the intentions of the Western Allies to hand over territory occupied by them in the post-war Soviet sphere of influence, the offensive was to be on a broad front and was to move as rapidly as possible to the west, to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin. The two were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won quickly unless Berlin
Berlin
was taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
and part of the German atomic bomb program.[88] The offensive to capture central Germany and Berlin
Berlin
started on 16 April with an assault on the German front lines on the Oder
Oder
and Neisse rivers. After several days of heavy fighting the Soviet 1BF and 1UF punched holes through the German front line and were fanning out across central Germany. By 24 April, elements of the 1BF and 1UF had completed the encirclement of the German capital and the Battle of Berlin
Berlin
entered its final stages. On 25 April the 2BF broke through the German 3rd Panzer
Panzer
Army's line south of Stettin. They were now free to move west towards the British 21st Army Group
Army Group
and north towards the Baltic port of Stralsund. The 58th Guards Rifle Division of the 5th Guards Army made contact with the US 69th Infantry
Infantry
Division of the First Army near Torgau, Germany at the Elbe
Elbe
river.[89][90]

Soviet soldiers celebrating the surrender of the German forces in Berlin, 2 May 1945

On 29 and 30 April, as the Soviet forces fought their way into the centre of Berlin, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
married Eva Braun
Eva Braun
and then committed suicide by taking cyanide and shooting himself. Helmuth Weidling, defence commandant of Berlin, surrendered the city to the Soviet forces on 2 May.[91] Altogether, the Berlin
Berlin
operation (16 April – 2 May) cost the Red Army
Red Army
361,367 casualties (dead, wounded, missing and sick) and 1,997 tanks and assault guns. German losses in this period of the war remain impossible to determine with any reliability.[92] At 2:41 am on 7 May 1945, at SHAEF
SHAEF
headquarters, German Chief-of-Staff General Alfred Jodl
Alfred Jodl
signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies at Reims
Reims
in France. It included the phrase All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945. The next day shortly before midnight, Field Marshal
Marshal
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
repeated the signing in Berlin
Berlin
at Zhukov's headquarters, now known as the German-Russian Museum. The war in Europe was over.[93] In the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
the end of the war is considered to be 9 May, when the surrender took effect Moscow
Moscow
time. This date is celebrated as a national holiday – Victory Day – in Russia
Russia
(as part of a two-day 8–9 May holiday) and some other post-Soviet countries. The ceremonial Victory parade was held in Moscow
Moscow
on 24 June. The German Army Group Centre initially refused to surrender and continued to fight in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
until about 11 May.[94] A small German garrison on the Danish island of Bornholm refused to surrender until after being bombed and invaded by the Soviets. The island was returned to the Danish government four months later. Soviet Far East: August 1945[edit] Main article: Soviet invasion of Manchuria The Soviet invasion of Manchuria
Soviet invasion of Manchuria
began on 8 August 1945, with an assault on the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo
Manchukuo
and neighbouring Mengjiang; the greater offensive would eventually include northern Korea, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. Apart from the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, it marked the initial and only military action of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
against the Empire of Japan; at the Yalta Conference, it had agreed to Allied pleas to terminate the neutrality pact with Japan
Japan
and enter the Second World War's Pacific theatre within three months after the end of the war in Europe. While not a part of the Eastern Front operations, it is included here because the commanders and much of the forces used by the Red Army, came from the European Theatre of operations and benefited from the experience gained there. In many ways this was a 'perfect' operation, delivered with the skill gained during the bitter fighting with the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
over four years.[95] Results[edit] The Eastern Front was the largest and bloodiest theatre of World War II. It is generally accepted as being the deadliest conflict in human history, with over 30 million killed as a result.[8] The German armed forces suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front.[96] It involved more land combat than all other World War II
World War II
theatres combined. The distinctly brutal nature of warfare on the Eastern Front was exemplified by an often willful disregard for human life by both sides. It was also reflected in the ideological premise for the war, which also saw a momentous clash between two directly opposed ideologies.

Citizens of Leningrad during the 872-day siege, in which about one million civilians died

Aside from the ideological conflict, the mindframe of the leaders of Germany and the Soviet Union, Hitler and Stalin
Stalin
respectively, contributed to the escalation of terror and murder on an unprecedented scale. Stalin
Stalin
and Hitler both disregarded human life in order to achieve their goal of victory. This included the terrorization of their own people, as well as mass deportations of entire populations. All these factors resulted in tremendous brutality both to combatants and civilians that found no parallel on the Western Front. According to Time magazine: "By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, the Eastern Front was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion."[97] Conversely, General George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, calculated that without the Eastern Front, the United States would have had to double the number of its soldiers on the Western Front.[98] The war inflicted huge losses and suffering upon the civilian populations of the affected countries. Behind the front lines, atrocities against civilians in German-occupied areas were routine, including the Holocaust. German and German-allied forces treated civilian populations with exceptional brutality, massacring whole village populations and routinely killing civilian hostages. Both sides practiced widespread scorched earth tactics, but the loss of civilian lives in the case of Germany was incomparably smaller than that of the Soviet Union, in which at least 20 million civilians were killed. According to Geoffrey A. Hosking, "The full demographic loss to the Soviet peoples was even greater: since a high proportion of those killed were young men of child-begetting age, the postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million smaller than post-1939 projections would have led one to expect."[99] When the Red Army
Red Army
invaded Germany in 1944, many German civilians suffered from reprisals by Red Army soldiers (see Soviet war crimes). After the war, following the Yalta conference agreements between the Allies, the German populations of East Prussia
East Prussia
and Silesia
Silesia
were displaced to the west of the Oder– Neisse
Neisse
line, in what became one of the largest forced migrations of people in world history. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
came out of World War II
World War II
militarily victorious but economically and structurally devastated. Much of the combat took place in or close by populated areas, the actions of both sides contributed to massive loss of civilian life and tremendous material damage. According to a summary, presented by Lieutenant General Roman Rudenko at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, the property damage in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
inflicted by the Axis invasion was estimated to a value of 679 billion rubles. The largest number of civilian deaths in a single city was 1.2 million citizens dead during the Siege of Leningrad. The combined damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850 industrial establishments, 40,000 miles of railroad, 4,100 railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public libraries; leaving 25 million homeless. Seven million horses, 17 million cattle, 20 million pigs, 27 million sheep were also slaughtered or driven off.[100] Wild fauna were also affected. Wolves and foxes fleeing westward from the killing zone, as the Soviet army advanced 1943–45, were responsible for a rabies epidemic which spread slowly westwards, reaching the coast of the English Channel
English Channel
by 1968.[101] Leadership[edit]

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The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
were both ideologically driven states ( Soviet communism
Soviet communism
and Nazism
Nazism
respectively), in which the leader had near-absolute power. The character of the war was thus determined by the leaders and their ideology to a much greater extent than in any other theatre of World War II. Adolf Hitler[edit] Main article: Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
led Germany during World War II

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
exercised a tight control over the German war-effort, spending much of his time in his command bunkers (most notably at Rastenburg
Rastenburg
in East Prussia, at Vinnitsa
Vinnitsa
in Ukraine, and under the garden of the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
in Berlin). At crucial periods in the war he held daily situation conferences at which he used his remarkable talent for public speaking to overwhelm opposition from his generals and the OKW staff with rhetoric. In part because of the unexpected success of the Battle of France (despite the warnings of the professional military) Hitler believed himself a military genius, with a grasp of the total war-effort that eluded his generals. In August 1941 when Walther von Brauchitsch (commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht) and Fedor von Bock
Fedor von Bock
were appealing for an attack on Moscow, Hitler instead ordered the encirclement and capture of Ukraine, in order to acquire the farmland, industry, and natural resources of that country. Some historians like Bevin Alexander in How Hitler Could Have Won regard this decision as a missed opportunity to win the war. In the winter of 1941–1942 Hitler believed that his obstinate refusal to allow the German armies to retreat had saved Army Group Centre from collapse. He later told Erhard Milch:

Hitler with generals Friedrich Paulus
Friedrich Paulus
and Fedor von Bock
Fedor von Bock
in Poltawa, German-occupied Ukraine, June 1942

I had to act ruthlessly. I had to send even my closest generals packing, two army generals, for example … I could only tell these gentlemen, 'Get yourself back to Germany as rapidly as you can – but leave the army in my charge. And the army is staying at the front.'

The success of this hedgehog defence outside Moscow
Moscow
led Hitler to insist on the holding of territory when it made no military sense, and to sack generals who retreated without orders. Officers with initiative were replaced with yes-men or fanatical Nazis. The disastrous encirclements later in the war – at Stalingrad, Korsun and many other places – were the direct result of Hitler's orders. This idea of holding territory led to another failed plan, dubbed "Heaven-bound Missions", which involved fortifying even the most unimportant or insignificant of cities and the holding of these "fortresses" at all costs. Many divisions became cut off in "fortress" cities, or wasted uselessly in secondary theatres, because Hitler would not sanction retreat or voluntarily abandon any of his conquests. Frustration at Hitler's leadership of the war was one of the factors in the attempted coup d'etat of 1944, but after the failure of the 20 July Plot Hitler considered the army and its officer corps suspect and came to rely on the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
(SS) and Nazi party members to prosecute the war. Hitler's direction of the war was disastrous for the German Army, though the skill, loyalty, professionalism and endurance of officers and soldiers enabled him to keep Germany fighting to the end. F. W. Winterbotham wrote of Hitler's signal to Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt
to continue the attack to the west during the Battle of the Bulge:

From experience we had learned that when Hitler started refusing to do what the generals recommended, things started to go wrong, and this was to be no exception.

Joseph Stalin[edit] Main article: Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
led the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
during World War II

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
bore the greatest responsibility for some of the disasters at the beginning of the war (for example, the Battle of Kiev (1941)), but equally deserves praise for the subsequent success of the Soviet Army, which depended on the unprecedentedly rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union, which Stalin's internal policy had made the first priority throughout the 1930s. Stalin's Great Purge of the Red Army
Red Army
in the late 1930s involved the legal prosecution of many of the senior command, many of whom the courts convicted and sentenced to death or to imprisonment. The executed included Mikhail Tukhachevsky, a proponent of armoured blitzkrieg. Stalin
Stalin
promoted some obscurantists like Grigory Kulik who opposed the mechanization of the army and the production of tanks, but on the other hand purged the older commanders who had held their positions since the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, and who had experience, but were deemed "politically unreliable". This opened up their places to the promotion of many younger officers that Stalin
Stalin
and the NKVD
NKVD
regarded as in line with Stalinist politics. Many of these newly promoted commanders proved terribly inexperienced, but some later became very successful. Soviet tank output remained the largest in the world. Since the foundation of the Red Army
Red Army
in 1918, political distrust of the military had led to a system of "dual command", with every commander paired with a political commissar, a member of the Communist
Communist
Party of the Soviet Union. Larger units had military councils consisting of the commander, commissar and chief of staff, who ensured the loyalty of the commanding officer and implemented Party orders. Following the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland, of the Baltic states and of Bessarabia
Bessarabia
and Northern Bukovina
Bukovina
in 1939–1940, Stalin insisted on the occupation of every fold of the newly Sovietized territories; this move westward positioned troops far from their depots, in salients that left them vulnerable to encirclement. As tension heightened in spring 1941, Stalin
Stalin
desperately tried not to give Hitler any provocation that Berlin
Berlin
could use as an excuse for a German attack; this caused him to refuse to allow the military to go on the alert – even as German troops gathered on the borders and German reconnaissance planes overflew installations. This refusal to take the necessary action was instrumental in the destruction of major portions of the Red Air Force, lined up on its airfields, in the first days of the German-Soviet war. At the crisis of the war, in the autumn of 1942, Stalin
Stalin
made many concessions to the army: the government restored unitary command by removing the Commissars from the chain of command. Under order 25 of 15 January 1943, shoulderboards were introduced for all ranks; this represented a significant symbolic step, since shoulderboards had connotations as a symbol of the old régime after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Beginning in autumn 1941, units that had proved themselves by superior performance in combat were given the traditional "Guards" title.[102] But these concessions were combined with ruthless discipline: Order No. 227, issued on 28 July 1942, threatened commanders who retreated without orders with punishment by court-martial. Infractions by military and politruks were punished with transferral to penal battalions and penal companies which were used for especially hazardous duties, such as tramplers to clear Nazi minefields.[103] The NKVD's barrier troops would shoot soldiers who fled. As it became clear that the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
would win the war, Stalin ensured that propaganda always mentioned his leadership of the war; he sidelined the victorious generals and never allowed them to develop into political rivals. After the war the Soviets once again purged the Red Army
Red Army
(though not as brutally as in the 1930s): many successful officers were demoted to unimportant positions (including Zhukov, Malinovsky and Koniev). Repression in occupied states[edit] See also: Generalplan Ost, Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs, German war crimes against Soviet civilians, Commissar Order, and Hunger Plan

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The enormous territorial gains of 1941 presented Germany with vast areas to pacify and administer. For the majority of people of the Soviet Union, the Nazi invasion was viewed as a brutal act of unprovoked aggression. While it is important to note that not all parts of Soviet society viewed the German advance in this way, the majority of the Soviet population viewed German forces as occupiers. In areas such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (which had been annexed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1940) the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
was tolerated by a relatively more significant part of the native population. This was particularly true for the territories of Western Ukraine, recently rejoined to the Soviet Union, where the anti-Polish and anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalist underground falsely hoped to establish the "independent state", relying on German armed force. However, Soviet society as a whole was hostile to the invading Nazis from the very start. The nascent national liberation movements among Ukrainians and Cossacks, and others were viewed by Hitler with suspicion; some, especially those from the Baltic States, were co-opted into the Axis armies and others brutally suppressed. None of the conquered territories gained any measure of self-rule. Instead, the Nazi ideologues saw the future of the East as one of settlement by German colonists, with the natives killed, expelled, or reduced to slave labour. The cruel and brutally inhumane treatment of Soviet civilians, women, children and elderly, the daily bombings of civilian cities and towns, Nazi pillaging of Soviet villages and hamlets and unprecedented harsh punishment and treatment of civilians in general were some of the primary reasons for Soviet resistance to Nazi Germany's invasion. Indeed, the Soviets viewed Germany's invasion as an act of aggression and an attempt to conquer and enslave the local population.

Killing of Jews
Jews
at Ivangorod, Ukraine, 1942

Regions closer to the front were managed by military powers of the region, in other areas such as the Baltic states
Baltic states
annexed by the USSR in 1940, Reichscommissariats were established. As a rule, the maximum in loot was extracted. In September 1941, Erich Koch
Erich Koch
was appointed to the Ukrainian Commissariat. His opening speech was clear about German policy: "I am known as a brutal dog ... Our job is to suck from Ukraine
Ukraine
all the goods we can get hold of ... I am expecting from you the utmost severity towards the native population." Atrocities against the Jewish population in the conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
(task groups) to round up Jews
Jews
and shoot them.[104] The massacres of Jews
Jews
and other ethnic minorities were only a part of the deaths from the Nazi occupation. Many hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians were executed, and millions more died from starvation as the Germans requisitioned food for their armies and fodder for their draft horses. As they retreated from Ukraine
Ukraine
and Belarus
Belarus
in 1943–44, the German occupiers systematically applied a scorched earth policy, burning towns and cities, destroying infrastructure, and leaving civilians to starve or die of exposure.[105] In many towns, the battles were fought within towns and cities with trapped civilians caught in the middle. Estimates of total civilian dead in the Soviet Union in the war range from seven million (Encyclopædia Britannica) to seventeen million (Richard Overy).

Soviet partisans
Soviet partisans
hanged by German forces in January 1943

The Nazi ideology and the maltreatment of the local population and Soviet POWs encouraged partisans fighting behind the front; it motivated even anti-communists or non-Russian nationalists to ally with the Soviets and greatly delayed the formation of German-allied divisions consisting of Soviet POWs (see Vlasov army). These results and missed opportunities contributed to the defeat of the Wehrmacht. Vadim Erlikman has detailed Soviet losses totaling 26.5 million war related deaths. Military losses of 10.6 million include six million killed or missing in action and 3.6 million POW dead, plus 400,000 paramilitary and Soviet partisan losses. Civilian deaths totalled 15.9 million, which included 1.5 million from military actions; 7.1 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals; 1.8 million deported to Germany for forced labour; and 5.5 million famine and disease deaths. Additional famine deaths, which totalled one million during 1946–47, are not included here. Soviet repressions seems also to be not included. These losses are for the entire territory of the USSR including territories annexed in 1939–40.[citation needed]

Homeless
Homeless
Russian children in occupied territory (about 1942)

Belarus
Belarus
lost a quarter of its pre-war population, including practically all its intellectual elite. Following bloody encirclement battles, all of the present-day Belarus
Belarus
territory was occupied by the Germans by the end of August 1941. The Nazis imposed a brutal regime, deporting some 380,000 young people for slave labour, and killing hundreds of thousands (civilians) more.[106] More than 600 villages like Khatyn
Khatyn
were burned with their entire population.[107] More than 209 cities and towns (out of 270 total) and 9,000 villages were destroyed. Himmler pronounced a plan according to which ​3⁄4 of the Belarusian population was designated for "eradication" and ​1⁄4 of the racially 'cleaner' population (blue eyes, light hair) would be allowed to serve Germans as slaves. Some recent reports raise the number of Belarusians who perished in the war to "3 million 650 thousand people, unlike the former 2.2 million. That is to say not every fourth inhabitant but almost 40% of the pre-war Belarusian population perished (considering the present-day borders of Belarus)."[108]

Mass grave of Soviet POWs, killed by Germans in a prisoner-of-war camp in Dęblin, German-occupied Poland

Sixty percent of Soviet POWs died during the war. By its end, large numbers of Soviet POWs, forced labourers and Nazi collaborators (including those who were forcefully repatriated by the Western Allies) went to special NKVD
NKVD
"filtration" camps. By 1946, 80 per cent of civilians and 20 per cent of POWs were freed, others were re-drafted, or sent to labour battalions. Two per cent of civilians and 15 per cent of the POWs were sent to the Gulag.[109][110] The official Polish government report of war losses prepared in 1947 reported 6,028,000 victims out of a population of 27,007,000 ethnic Poles and Jews; this report excluded ethnic Ukrainian and Belarusian losses. Although the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
had not signed the Geneva Convention (1929), it is generally accepted that it considered itself bound by the provisions of the Hague convention.[111] A month after the German invasion in 1941, an offer was made for a reciprocal adherence to Hague convention. This 'note' was left unanswered by Third Reich officials.[112] Soviet repressions also contributed into the Eastern Front's death toll. Mass repression occurred in the occupied portions of Poland
Poland
as well as in the Baltic states
Baltic states
and Bessarabia. Immediately after the start of the German invasion, the NKVD
NKVD
massacred large numbers of inmates in most of their prisons in Western Belarus
Belarus
and Western Ukraine, while the remainder was to be evacuated in death marches.[113] Industrial output[edit] The Soviet victory owed a great deal to the ability of its war industry to outperform the German economy, despite the enormous loss of population and land. Stalin's five-year plans of the 1930s had resulted in the industrialization of the Urals and central Asia. In 1941, thousands of trains evacuated critical factories and workers from Belarus
Belarus
and Ukraine
Ukraine
to safe areas far from the front lines. Once these facilities were reassembled east of the Urals, production could be resumed without fear of German bombing. As the Soviet Union's manpower reserves ran low from 1943 onwards, the great Soviet offensives had to depend more on equipment and less on the expenditure of lives.[citation needed] The increases in production of materiel were achieved at the expense of civilian living standards – the most thorough application of the principle of total war – and with the help of Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
supplies from the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the United States. The Germans, on the other hand, could rely on a large slave workforce from the conquered countries and Soviet POWs. Germany had far greater resources than did the USSR, and dwarfed its production in every matrix except for oil, having over five times the USSR's coal production, over three times its iron production, three times its steel production, twice its electricity production, and about 2/3 of its oil production.[114] However, it did not equal the Soviets in the quantity of military production for various reasons (in 1943, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
manufactured 24,089 tanks to Germany's 19,800). The Soviets incrementally upgraded existing designs, and simplified and refined manufacturing processes to increase production, and were helped by a mass infusion of harder to produce goods such as aviation fuel, machine tools, trucks, and high-explosives from Lend-Lease, allowing them to concentrate on a few key industries. Meanwhile, Germany had been cut off from foreign trade for years by the time it invaded the USSR, was in the middle of two extended and costly theaters at air and sea that further limited production (Battle of the Atlantic and Defence of the Reich), and was forced to devote a large segment of its expenditures to goods the Soviets could cut back on (such as trucks) or which would never even be used against the Soviets (such as ships). Naval vessels alone constituted 10-15% of Germany's war expenditures from 1940 to 1944 depending on the year, while armored vehicles by comparison were only 5-8%.[115]

Summary of German and Soviet raw material production during the war[116][117]

Year Coal (million tonnes, Germany includes lignite and bituminous types) Steel (million tonnes) Aluminium (thousand tonnes) Oil (million tonnes)

German Soviet German Soviet German Soviet German Soviet Italian Hungarian Romanian Japanese

1941 483.4 151.4 31.8 17.9 233.6 – 5.7 33.0 0.12 0.4 5.5 –

1942 513.1 75.5 32.1 8.1 264.0 51.7 6.6 22.0 0.01 0.7 5.7 1.8

1943 521.4 93.1 34.6 8.5 250.0 62.3 7.6 18.0 0.01 0.8 5.3 2.3

1944 509.8 121.5 28.5 10.9 245.3 82.7 5.5 18.2 – 1 3.5 1

1945[118] – 149.3 – 12.3 – 86.3 1.3 19.4 – – – 0.1

Summary of Axis and Soviet tank and self- propelled gun production during the war[116]

Year Tanks and self- propelled guns

Soviet German Italian Hungarian Romanian Japanese

1941 6,590 5,200[119] 595 – – 595

1942 24,446 9,300[119] 1,252 500 – 557

1943 24,089 19,800 336 105 558

1944 28,963 27,300 – 353

1945[118] 15,400 – – – – 137

Summary of Axis and Soviet aircraft production during the war[116]

Year Aircraft

Soviet German Italian Hungarian Romanian Japanese

1941 15,735 11,776 3,503 – 1,000 5,088

1942 25,436 15,556 2,818 6 8,861

1943 34,845 25,527 967 267 16,693

1944 40,246 39,807 – 773 28,180

1945[118] 20,052 7,544 – – 8,263

Summary of German and Soviet industrial labour (including those classified as handworkers), and summary of foreign, voluntary, coerced and POW labour[120]

Year Industrial Labour Foreign Labour Total Labour

Soviet German Soviet German Total Soviet Total German

1941 11,000,000 12,900,000 – 3,500,000 11,000,000 16,400,000

1942 7,200,000 11,600,000 50,000 4,600,000 7,250,000 16,200,000

1943 7,500,000 11,100,000 200,000 5,700,000 7,700,000 16,800,000

1944 8,200,000 10,400,000 800,000 7,600,000 9,000,000 18,000,000

1945[118] 9,500,000 – 2,900,000 – 12,400,000 –

Two-thirds of Germany's iron ore, much needed for its military production, came from Sweden.[citation needed] Soviet production and upkeep was assisted by the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
program from the United States and the United Kingdom. In the course of the war the US supplied $11 billion of materiel through Lend-Lease. This included 400,000 trucks, 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks), 11,400 aircraft and 1.75 million tons of food.[121] The British supplied aircraft including 3,000 Hurricanes and 4,000 other aircraft during the war. Five thousand tanks were provided by the British and Canada. Total British supplies were about four million tons.[122] Germany on the other hand had the resources of conquered Europe at its disposal; those numbers are however not included into the tables above, such as production in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, and so on. After the defeat at Stalingrad, Germany geared completely towards a war economy, as expounded in a speech given by Joseph Goebbels, (the Nazi propaganda minister), in the Berlin
Berlin
Sportpalast, increasing production in subsequent years under Albert Speer's (the Reich armaments minister) direction, despite the intensifying Allied bombing campaign. Casualties[edit] Further information: World War II
World War II
casualties, World War II
World War II
casualties of the Soviet Union, and German casualties in World War II The fighting involved millions of Axis and Soviet troops along the broadest land front in military history. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of the European portion of World War II, with estimates of 8.7 to over 10 million military deaths on the Soviet side, out of which between 1.3 and 3.6 million died in German captivity, although, depending on the criteria used, casualties in the Far East theatre may have been similar in number.[123][124][125] Axis military deaths were over 5.5 million. [126] Included in this figure of Axis losses is the majority of the 2 million German military personnel listed as missing or unaccounted for after the war. Rüdiger Overmans states that it seems entirely plausible, while not provable, that one half of these men were killed in action and the other half died in Soviet custody.[127] Official OKW Casualty Figures list 65% of Heer killed/missing/captured as being lost on the Eastern Front from Sept. 1 1939 to January 1, 1945 (four months and a week before the conclusion of the war), with front not specified for losses of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
and Luftwaffe.[128] Estimated civilian deaths range from about 14 to 17 million. Over 11.4 million Soviet civilians within pre-1939 Soviet borders were killed, and another estimated 3.5 million civilians were killed in the annexed territories.[129] The Nazis exterminated one to two million Soviet Jews
Jews
(including the annexed territories) as part of the Holocaust.[130] Soviet and Russian historiography often uses the term "irretrievable casualties". According to the Narkomat
Narkomat
of Defence order (№ 023, 4 February 1944), the irretrievable casualties include killed, missing, those who died due to war-time or subsequent wounds, maladies and chilblains and those who were captured. The huge death toll was attributed to several factors, including brutal mistreatment of POWs and captured partisans, the large deficiency of food and medical supplies in Soviet territories, and atrocities committed mostly by the Germans against the civilian population. The multiple battles and the use of scorched earth tactics destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food.

Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[131]

Forces fighting with the Axis

Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Soviets Prisoners who died in Captivity

Greater Germany 4,500,000 4,000,000 3,300,000 500,000[132]

Soviet residents who joined German army 215,000+ 215,000 1,000,000 Unknown

Romania 281,000 81,000 500,000 55,000

Hungary 300,000 100,000 500,000 55,000

Italy 82,000 32,000 70,000 27,000

Finland[133] 63,204 54,188 3,500 473

Total 5,500,000 4,482,000 5,453,500 1,100,000 - 1,300,000

Soviets bury their fallen, July 1944

Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[134]

Forces Fighting with the Soviet Union

Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Axis Prisoners who died in captivity

Soviet ~8,300,000 - 10,000,000 ~7,000,000 4,059,000 (military personnel only)-5,700,000 3,300,000 [135] of which 1,283,200 confirmed [136]

Poland 24,000 24,000 Unknown Unknown

Romania 17,000 17,000 80,000 Unknown

Bulgaria 10,000 10,000 Unknown Unknown

Total 8,851,000 - 10,000,000+ 7,051,000 5,280,000 1,300,000-3,300,000

In terms of materiel losses, the Germans lost about 33,324 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns in the east from 22/6/1941 until November 1944 (nearly 2/3 of tank/assault gun losses for the whole war).[137][138] Totally, the Germans lost 42,700 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns on the Eastern front,[139] while the Soviets lost 96,500 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns.[140] The Soviets also lost 102,600 aircraft (combat and non-combat causes), including 46,100 in combat,[141] while the Germans lost ~16,000 aircraft in combat (11,140 from 1941 to 1944, compared to 39,000 Soviet combat losses in the same period), with an unknown amount lost to mechanical failure, accidents, destroyed on the ground, or being captured by the Soviets.[142] Totally, the Germans lost 75,700 aircraft on the Eastern front.[139] Polish Armed Forces in the East, initially consisting of Poles from Eastern Poland
Poland
or otherwise in Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1939–1941, began fighting alongside the Red Army
Red Army
in 1943, and grew steadily as more Polish territory was liberated from the Nazis in 1944–1945.

Dead Soviet soldiers in Cholm, January 1942

When the Axis countries of Central Europe
Central Europe
were occupied by the Soviets, they were forced to change sides and declare war on Germany. (see Allied Commissions). Some Soviet citizens would side with the Germans and join Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. Most of those who joined were Russian POWs. These men were primarily used in the Eastern Front but some were assigned to guard the beaches of Normandy.[143] The other main group of men joining the German army were citizens of the Baltic countries annexed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1940 or from Western Ukraine. They fought in their own Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
units.[144] Hitler's notorious Commissar Order
Commissar Order
called for Soviet political commissars, who were responsible for ensuring that Red Army
Red Army
units remained politically reliable, to be summarily shot when identified amongst captured troops. Axis troops who captured Red Army
Red Army
soldiers frequently shot them in the field or shipped them to concentration camps to be used as forced laborers or killed.[145] Additionally, millions of soviet civilians were captured as POWs and treated in the same manner. It is estimated that at least 3.3 million Soviet POWs died in Nazi custody, out of 5.7 million. This figure represents a total of 57% of all Soviet POWs and may be contrasted with 8,300 out of 231,000 British and U.S. prisoners, or 3.6%. About 5% of the Soviet prisoners who died were of Jewish ethnicity.[5] See also[edit]

Timeline of the Eastern Front of World War II Historiography of World War II Captured German equipment in Soviet use on the Eastern front Horses in World War II Italian war in Soviet Union, 1941–1943

The Italian Alpini infantry corps in Russia

List of military operations on the Eastern Front of World War II

Operation Silberfuchs
Operation Silberfuchs
– Axis attack on the Soviet Arctic

Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation
Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation
– the Soviet campaign against Japan
Japan
in Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Korea, Sakhalin
Sakhalin
and the Kurile Islands Kantokuen
Kantokuen
- planned Japanese invasion of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1941 Occupation of Belarus
Belarus
by Nazi Germany Belgium in World War II Bulgaria during World War II Estonia in World War II Finland
Finland
during World War II France in World War II Hungary
Hungary
during World War II Romania
Romania
during World War II

Romanian Navy during World War II

Severity Order The Battle of Russia
Russia
– film from the Why We Fight
Why We Fight
propaganda film series Victory Day and Ribbon of Saint George Western Front (World War II) Women in the Russian and Soviet military

Notes[edit]

^ Germany's allies, in total, provided a significant number of troops and material to the front. There were also numerous foreign units recruited by Germany, notably the Spanish Blue Division
Blue Division
and the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism. ^ Toomas Alatalu. Tuva: A State Reawakens. Soviet Studies, Vol. 44, No. 5 (1992), pp. 881–895. ^ russlandfeldzug.de ^ "Der Rußlandfeldzug" (in German). Balsi.de.  ^ torweihe.de ^ Glantz, David M. "The Failures of Historiography: Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War (1941-1945)". Foreign Military Studies Office. Archived from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2017.  ^ "World War II: The Eastern Front". The Atlantic. September 18, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2014.  ^ a b According to G. I. Krivosheev. (Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 ISBN 1-85367-280-7), in the Eastern Front, Axis countries and German co-belligerents sustained 1,468,145 irrecoverable losses (668,163 KIA/MIA), Germany itself– 7,181,100 (3,604,800 KIA/MIA), and 579,900 PoWs died in Soviet captivity. So the Axis KIA/MIA amounted to 4.8 million in the East during the period of 1941–1945. This is more than a half of all Axis losses (including the Asia/Pacific theatre). The USSR sustained 10.5 million military losses (including PoWs who died in German captivity, according to Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow
Moscow
2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1), so the number of military deaths (the USSR and the Axis) amounted to 15 million, far greater than in all other World War II
World War II
theatres. According to the same source, total Soviet civilian deaths within post-war borders amounted to 15.7 million. The numbers for other Central European and German civilian casualties are not included here ^ Bellamy 2007, p. xix: "That conflict, which ended sixty years before this book’s completion, was a decisive component — arguably the single most decisive component — of the Second World War. It was on the eastern front, between 1941 and 1945, that the greater part of the land and associated air forces of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
and its allies were ultimately destroyed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in what, from 1944, its people — and those of the fifteen successor states — called, and still call, the Great Patriotic War" ^ W. Churchill: " Red Army
Red Army
decided the fate of German militarism". Source: Correspondence of the Council of Ministers of the USSR with the U.S. Presidents and Prime Ministers of Great Britain during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945., V. 2. M., 1976, pp. 204 ^ Norman Davies: "Since 75%–80% of all German losses were inflicted on the eastern front it follows that the efforts of the Western allies accounted for only 20%–25%". Source: Sunday Times, 05/11/2006. ^ Donald Hankey (3 June 2015). The Supreme Control at the Paris Peace Conference 1919 (Routledge Revivals): A Commentary. Routledge. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-317-56756-1.  ^ Ericson, Edward. Feeding the German Eagle: Soviet Military Aid to Nazi Germany, 1933-1941. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-275-96337-3.  ^ Nagorski, Andrew (2007). The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow
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That Changed the Course of World War II. Amazon: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-8111-9.  ^ Mälksoo, Lauri (2003). Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR. Leiden, Boston: Brill. ISBN 90-411-2177-3.  ^ "We National Socialists consciously draw a line under the direction of our foreign policy war. We begin where we ended six centuries ago. We stop the perpetual Germanic march towards the south and west of Europe, and have the view on the country in the east. We finally put the colonial and commercial policy of the pre-war and go over to the territorial policy of the future. But if we speak today in Europe of new land, we can primarily only to Russia
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and the border states subjects him think." Charles Long, 1965: The term 'habitat' in Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' (pdf, 12 Seiten; 695 kB) ^ Gellately, Robert (June 1996). "Reviewed work(s): Vom Generalplan Ost zum Generalsiedlungsplan by Czeslaw Madajczyk; Der "Generalplan Ost." Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Planungs- und Vernichtungspolitik by Mechtild Rössler and Sabine Schleiermacher". Central European History. 29 (2): 270–274. doi:10.1017/S0008938900013170. JSTOR 4546609.  ^ Megargee, Geoffrey P. (2007). War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide
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in Northeast Estonia] (in Estonian). Tallinn: Varrak.  ^ Baxter, Ian (2009). Battle in the Baltics, 1944-45: The Fighting for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia : a Photographic History. Helion. ISBN 978-1-906033-33-0.  ^ Estonian State Commission on Examination of Policies of Repression (2005). Salo, Vello, ed. The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes, 1940–1991 (PDF). Estonian Encyclopedia Publishers. p. 19. ISBN 9985-70-195-X.  ^ Hiio, Toomas (2006). "Combat in Estonia in 1944". In Hiio, Toomas; Maripuu, Meelis; Paavle, Indrek. Estonia, 1940-1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. Tallinn: Estonian Foundation for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. ISBN 978-9949-13-040-5.  ^ Steinhoff, Johannes; Pechel, Peter; Showalter, Dennis E. (1994). Voices from the Third Reich: An Oral History. Perseus Books Group. ISBN 978-0-306-80594-3.  ^ Hastings, Max (2005). Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-45. Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-375-71422-1.  ^ a b Ziemke, Berlin, see References page 71 ^ Beevor, Berlin, see References Page 138 ^ Beevor, Berlin, see References pp. 217–233 ^ Ziemke, Berlin, see References pp. 81–111 ^ Beevor, Berlin, see References pp. 259–357, 380–381 ^ Krivosheev 1997, pp. 219, 220. ^ Ziemke, occupation, References CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last paragraph ^ Ziemke, Berlin, References p. 134 ^ Garthoff, Raymond L. (October 1969). "The Soviet Manchurian Campaign, August 1945". Military Affairs. 33 (2): 312–336. doi:10.2307/1983926. JSTOR 1983926.  ^ Duiker, William J. (2015). "The Crisis Deepens: The Outbreak of World War II". Contemporary World History (sixth ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-285-44790-2.  ^ Bonfante, Jordan (23 May 2008). "Remembering a Red Flag Day". Time.  ^ Gunther, John (1950). Roosevelt in Retrospect. Harper & Brothers. p. 356.  ^ Hosking, Geoffrey A. (2006). Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union. Harvard University Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-674-02178-5.  ^ The New York Times, 9 February 1946, Volume 95, Number 32158. ^ Bellamy 2007, pp. 1–2 ^ Glantz 2005, p. 181. ^ Toppe, Alfred (1998), Night Combat, Diane, p. 28, ISBN 978-0-7881-7080-5  ^ Marking 70 Years to Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Archived 16 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. on the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
website ^ On 7 Sep 1943, Himmler sent orders to HSSPF
HSSPF
"Ukraine" Hans-Adolf Prützmann that "not a human being, not a single head of cattle, not a hundredweight of cereals and not a railway line remain behind; that not a house remains standing, not a mine is available which is not destroyed for years to come, that there is not a well which is not poisoned. The enemy must really find completely burned and destroyed land". He ordered cooperation with Infantry
Infantry
general Staff, also someone named Stampf, and sent copies to the Chief of Regular Police, Chief of Security Police & SS, SS-Obergruppenführer
SS-Obergruppenführer
Berger, and the chief of the partisan combating units. See Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Supplement A pg 1270. ^ [1] ^ [2] ^ Partisan Resistance in Belarus
Belarus
during World War II
World War II
belarusguide.com ^ ("Военно-исторический журнал" ("Military-Historical Magazine"), 1997, №5. page 32) ^ Земское В.Н. К вопросу о репатриации советских граждан. 1944–1951 годы // История СССР. 1990. № 4 (Zemskov V.N. On repatriation of Soviet citizens. Istoriya SSSR., 1990, No.4) ^ Robinson, Jacob (April 1945). "Transfer of Property in Enemy Occupied Territory". American Journal of International Law. 39 (2): 216–230. doi:10.2307/2192342. JSTOR 2192342.  ^ Beevor, Stalingrad. Penguin 2001 ISBN 0-14-100131-3 p 60 ^ Robert Gellately. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. Knopf, 2007 ISBN 1-4000-4005-1 p. 391 ^ Walter Dunn, "The Soviet Economy and the Red Army", Praeger (August 30, 1995), page 50. Citing K.F. Skorobogatkin, et al, "50 Let Voorezhennyk sil SSR" (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1968), p. 457. ^ Military Analysis Division, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey- European War, Volume 3, page 144. Washington, 1947. ^ a b c Richard Overy, Russia's War, p. 155 and Campaigns of World War II Day By Day, by Chris Bishop and Chris McNab, pp. 244–52. ^ Axis History Factbook ^ a b c d Soviet numbers for 1945 are for the whole of 1945, including after the war was over. ^ a b German figures for 1941 and 1942 include tanks only. ^ The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia
Russia
by Richard Overy
Richard Overy
p. 498. ^ World War II
World War II
The War Against Germany And Italy, US Army Center Of Military History, page 158. ^ "When Britain aided the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in World War Two" ^ Krivosheev, G.F., ed. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-280-7. page 85 ^ "Nazi Persecution of Soviet Prisoners of War". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States
United States
Holocaust
Holocaust
Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2011-06-15.  ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators ^ German losses according to: Rüdiger Overmans, Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. ISBN 3-486-56531-1, pp. 265, 272 ^ Rüdiger Overmans. Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. ISBN 3-486-56531-1 p. 289 ^ Die Zeit 27 October 1949 ^ Krivosheev, G. I. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 ISBN 1-85367-280-7 ^ Martin Gilbert. Atlas of the Holocaust
Holocaust
1988 ISBN 0-688-12364-3 ^ Rüdiger Overmans, Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. ISBN 3-486-56531-1, Richard Overy
Richard Overy
The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia
Russia
(2004), ISBN 0-7139-9309-X, Italy: Ufficio Storico dello Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. Commissariato generale C.G.V. . Ministero della Difesa – Edizioni 1986, Romania: G. I. Krivosheev (2001). Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie. OLMA-Press. pp. Tables 200–203. ISBN 5-224-01515-4, Hungary: G. I. Krivosheev (2001). Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie. OLMA-Press. pp. Tables 200–203. ISBN 5-224-01515-4. ^ Rüdiger Overmans, Soldaten hinter Stacheldraht. Deutsche Kriegsgefangene des Zweiten Weltkriege. Ullstein., 2000 Page 246 ISBN 3-549-07121-3 ^ Kurenmaa, Pekka; Lentilä, Riitta (2005). "Sodan tappiot". In Leskinen, Jari; Juutilainen, Antti. Jatkosodan pikkujättiläinen (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 1150–1162. ISBN 951-0-28690-7. ^ Vadim Erlikman, Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke: spravochnik. Moscow
Moscow
2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1; Mark Axworthy, Third Axis Fourth Ally. Arms and Armour 1995, p. 216. ISBN 1-85409-267-7 ^ "Gross-Rosen Timeline 1940-1945". Internet Wayback Machine. United States Holocaust
Holocaust
Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. 15 January 2009. Archived from the original on January 15, 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2014.  ^ Krivosheev, G.F. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 9781853672804. ^ Paul Winter. "Defeating Hitler: Whitehall's Secret Report on Why Hitler Lost the War". October 13, 2012 ^ P. Chamberlain, H Doyle, T Jentz, Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1978, appendix VII, pp. 261-262. ^ a b Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492-2015, 4th ed. Micheal Clodfelter. ISBN 078647470X, 9780786474707. P. 449 ^ Krivosheev, G. I. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill. p. 253. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.  ^ Krivosheev, G. I. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill. pp. 359–360. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.  ^ Estimate given by historian Richard Anderson, former researcher of the Dupuy Institute. 14 March 2007. ^ Ambrose, Stephen (1997). D-Day: the Battle for the Normandy
Normandy
Beaches. London: Simon & Schuster. p. 34. ISBN 0-7434-4974-6.  ^ "Nazi Foreign Legions - History Learning Site". History Learning Site. Retrieved 2018-02-02.  ^ Richard Overy
Richard Overy
The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004), ISBN 0-7139-9309-X

Further reading[edit]

Bellamy, Chris (2007). Absolute War: Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia
in the Second World War. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-375-41086-4.  Anderson, Dunkan, et al. The Eastern Front: Barbarossa, Stalingrad, Kursk
Kursk
and Berlin
Berlin
(Campaigns of World War II). London: Amber Books Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-7603-0923-X. Beevor, Antony. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942–1943. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. ISBN 0-14-028458-3. Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. New York: Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5 Erickson, John. The Road to Stalingrad. Stalin's War against Germany. New York: Orion Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 0-304-36541-6. Erickson, John. The Road to Berlin. Stalin's War against Germany. New York: Orion Publishing Group, Ltd., 2007. ISBN 978-0-304-36540-1. Erickson, John, and David Dilks. Barbarossa, the Axis and the Allies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-7486-0504-5. Glantz, David, and Jonathan M. House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army stopped Hitler. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, Reprint edition, 1998. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0. Glantz, David, The Soviet‐German War 1941–45: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay. Guderian, Heinz. Panzer
Panzer
Leader, Da Capo Press Reissue edition. New York: Da Capo Press, 2001. ISBN 0-306-81101-4. Hastings, Max. Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944–1945. Vintage Books USA, 2005. ISBN 0-375-71422-7 International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, Germany. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Supplement A, USGPO, 1947. Krivosheev, Grigoriy (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.  Liddell Hart, B.H. History of the Second World War. United States
United States
of America: Da Capo Press, 1999. ISBN 0-306-80912-5. Lubbeck, William and David B. Hurt. At Leningrad's Gates: The Story of a Soldier with Army Group
Army Group
North, Philadelphia: Casemate, 2006. ISBN 1-932033-55-6. Mawdsley, Evan Thunder in the East: the Nazi–Soviet War, 1941–1945. London 2005. ISBN 0-340-80808-X. Müller, Rolf-Dieter and Gerd R. Ueberschär. Hitler's War in the East, 1941–1945: A Critical Assessment. Berghahn Books, 1997. ISBN 1-57181-068-4. Overy, Richard. Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941–1945, New Edition. New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 1998. ISBN 0-14-027169-4. Schofield, Carey, ed. Russian at War, 1941–1945. Text by Georgii Drozdov and Evgenii Ryabko, [with] introd. by Vladimir Karpov [and] pref. by Harrison E. Salisbury, ed. by Carey Schofield. New York: Vendome Press, 1987. 256 p., copiously ill. with b&2 photos and occasional maps. N.B.: This is mostly a photo-history, with connecting texts. ISBN 0-88029-084-6 Seaton, Albert. The Russo-German War, 1941–1945, Reprint edition. Presidio Press, 1993. ISBN 0-89141-491-6. Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
New York: Simon & Schuster. Winterbotham, F.W. The Ultra Secret, New Edition. Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 2000. ISBN 0-7528-3751-6. Ziemke, Earl F. Battle For Berlin: End Of The Third Reich, NY:Ballantine Books, London:Macdomald & Co, 1969. Ziemke, Earl F. The U.S. Army in the occupation of Germany 1944–1946, USGPO, 1975

Historiography[edit]

Lak, Martijn. "Contemporary Historiography on the Eastern Front in World War II." Journal of Slavic Military Studies 28.3 (2015): 567-587. doi:10.1080/13518046.2015.1061828

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Adolf Hitler's Letter to Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Explaining the Invasion of the Soviet Union

Wikisource
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has original text related to this article: The Führer to the German People: 22 June 1941

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has original text related to this article: Adolf Hitler's Order of the Day to the German Troops on the Eastern Front (2 October 1941)

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Explains His Reasons for Invading the Soviet Union

Wikisource
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Wikisource
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has original text related to this article: Adolf Hitler's Speech at the Berlin
Berlin
Sportpalast (30 January 1942)

Marking 70 Years to Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
on the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
website Prof Richard Overy
Richard Overy
writes a summary about the eastern front for the BBC World War II: The Eastern Front by Alan Taylor, The Atlantic Rarities of the USSR photochronicles. Great Patriotic War 1941–1945 Borodulin Collection. Excellent set of war photos Pobediteli: Eastern Front flash animation (photos, video, interviews, memorials. Written from a Russian perspective) RKKA in World War II Armchair General maps, year by year World War II
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Eastern Front Order Of Battle Don't forget how the Soviet Union
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saved the world from Hitler. The Washington Post, May 8, 2015. Images depicting conditions in the camps for Soviet POW from Yad Vashem

Videos[edit]

"Operation Typhoon": Video on YouTube, lecture by David Stahel, author of Operation Typhoon. Hitler's March on Moscow
Moscow
(2013) and The Battle for Moscow
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(2015); via the official channel of USS Silversides Museum. "Fighting a Lost War: The German Army in 1943": Video on YouTube, lecture by Robert Citino, via the official channel of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. "Kursk, The Epic Armored Engagement": Video on YouTube, via the official channel of The National WWII Museum; session by the Robert Citino and Jonathan Parshall at the 2013 International Conference on World War II. "Mindset of WWII German Soldiers": Video on YouTube—interview with the historian Sönke Neitzel
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discussing his book Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing and Dying, via the official channel of The Agenda, a programme of TVOntario, a Canadian public television station. "How the Red Army
Red Army
Defeated Germany: The Three Alibis": Video on YouTube—lecture by Jonathan M. House of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, via the official channel of Dole Institute of Politics.

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Nagorno-Karabakh War Transnistria War Georgian Civil War Tajikistani Civil War Russo-Georgian War Intervention in Ukraine

Annexation of Crimea War in Donbass

Intervention in Syria

Military history of Russia Russian Winter Russian Revolution Cold War S

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