The BT tanks were a series of Soviet light tanks produced in large numbers between 1932 and 1941. They were lightly armoured, but reasonably well-armed for their time, the BT tanks were known by the nickname Betka from the acronym, or its diminutive Betushka. The successor of the BT tanks would be the famous T-34 medium tank, introduced in 1940, which would all of the Soviet fast tanks, infantry tanks. The BT tanks were convertible tanks and this was a feature designed by J. Walter Christie to reduce wear of the unreliable tank tracks of the 1930s. In about thirty minutes, the crew could remove the tracks and engage a chain drive to the rearmost road wheel on each side, in wheeled mode, the tank was steered by pivoting the front road wheels. Soviet tank forces soon found the option of little practical use, in a country with few paved roads, it consumed space and added needless complexity. The feature was dropped from Soviet designs, Christie, a race car mechanic and driver from New Jersey, had failed to convince the U. S.
Army Ordnance Bureau to adopt his Christie tank design. At least two of Christies M1931 tanks were purchased in the United States and sent to the Soviet Union under false documentation. Both tanks were delivered to the Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant, the original Christie tanks were designated fast tanks by the Soviets, abbreviated to BT. Based both on them and on other plans obtained earlier, three unarmed BT-2 prototypes were completed in October 1931 and mass production began in 1932. Most BT-2s were equipped with a 37 mm gun and a machine gun, the sloping front hull armor design of the Christie M1931 prototype was retained in Soviet tank hull designs, adopted for side armor as well. The BT-5 and models were equipped with a 45 mm gun, Soviet Union variants, BT-1, Christie prototype with no turret. BT-2 Model 1932, M-5-400 engine, three versions were produced, with single 37mm gun, 37mm gun and one DT machine gun, twin DP machine guns mount. In late 1932, modified to BT-3 but produced under the same designation, BT-3, same as BT-2, produced according to metric system.
In official documentation referred to as BT-2, bT-4, was a design with welded hull and minor changes in the suspension. 3 prototypes produced BT-5, larger turret, 45mm 20-K gun. BT-5 Model 1933, new turret with twin hatches and larger bustle, bT-5A, artillery support version with 76. 2mm howitzer. RBT-5, rocket launcher artillery version, equipped with two 420mm tank torpedoes, bT-5-IS, experimental model with heavily sloped front armor, it served as sloped armor testbed together with the BT-SW-2 experimental tank
Battle of Stalingrad
Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians by air raids, it is often regarded as one of the single largest and bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to replace their losses, the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the German 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble, the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting, and both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, the Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out, attempts were made to supply the army by air.
Heavy fighting continued for two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition, the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week, and three days, the war had been progressing well, the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been very successful and Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not particularly threatening, neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been particularly hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again, with the initial operations being very successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union. The initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the capacity of the city.
The river was a key route from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to central Russia and its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields when they captured Rostov on 23 July, the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler personally rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign, both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union. The expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germanys failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence, the Soviets realized that they were under tremendous constraints of time and resources and ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war, Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there
Feodosia, called Theodosia, is a port and resort, a town of regional significance in Crimea on the Black Sea coast. Feodosia serves as the center of Feodosia Municipality, one of the regions into which Crimea is divided. During much of its history the city was known as Caffa or Kaffa, the city was founded as Theodosia by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC. Noted for its agricultural lands, on which its trade depended. Theodosia remained a village for much of the next nine hundred years. It was at times part of the sphere of influence of the Khazars, like the rest of Crimea, this place fell under the domination of the Kipchaks and was conquered by the Mongols in the 1230s. Between 1204–1261 and again in 1296–1307, the city of Kaffa was ruled by Genoas chief rival, in the late 13th century, traders from the Republic of Genoa arrived and purchased the city from the ruling Golden Horde. It came to one of Europes biggest slave markets. From 1266 and on, Kaffa was governed by a Genoese consul, in early 1318 Pope John XXII established a Latin Church diocese of Kaffa, as a suffragan of Genoa.
The first bishop was Fra Gerolamo, who had already been consecrated seven years before as a missionary bishop ad partes Tartarorum, the diocese ended as a residential bishopric with the capture of the city by the Ottomans in 1475. Accordingly, Kaffa is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see and it is believed that the devastating pandemic the Black Death entered Europe for the first time via Kaffa in 1347, through the movements of the Golden Horde. Fleeing inhabitants may have carried the back to Italy, causing its spread across Europe. However, the plague appears to have spread in a stepwise fashion, there were a number of Crimean ports under Mongol control, so it is unlikely that Kaffa was the only source of plague-infested ships heading to Europe. In addition, there were overland caravan routes from the East that would have been carrying the disease into Europe as well, the thriving, culturally diverse city and its thronged slave market have been described by the Spanish traveler Pedro Tafur, who was there in the 1430s.
In 1462 Caffa placed itself under the protection of King Casimir IV of Poland, Poland did not offer help when real danger came. Following the fall of Constantinople and lastly Trebizond and he was at no loss for a pretext to extinguish this last Genoese colony on the Black sea. In 1473, the tudun of the Crimean Khanate died and a fight developed over the appointment of his successor, the Genoese involved themselves in the dispute, and the Tatar notables who favored the losing candidate finally asked Mehmed to settle the dispute. Mehmed dispatched a fleet under the Ottoman commander Gedik Ahmet Pasha and it anchored before the walls of the city on 1 June, started the bombardment the next day, and on 6 June the inhabitants capitulated
Order of the Red Banner
The Order of the Red Banner was the first Soviet military decoration. The order was established on 16 September 1918, during the Russian Civil War by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and it was the highest award of Soviet Russia, subsequently the Soviet Union, until the Order of Lenin was established in 1930. Recipients were recognised for extraordinary heroism and courage demonstrated on the battlefield, the order was awarded to individuals as well as to military units, ships and social organizations, and state enterprises. In years it was awarded on the twentieth and again on the thirtieth anniversary of military service without requiring participation in combat. The Russian Order of the Red Banner was established during the Russian Civil War by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of September 16,1918, the first recipient was Vasily Blyukher on September 28,1918. The second recipient was Iona Yakir, during the Civil War there existed similarly named orders and decorations established by the Soviet communist governments of several other constituent and nonconstituent republics.
The August 1,1924 decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee established the all-Soviet Order of the Red Banner for deserving personnel of the Red Army, from 1918 till the late 1930s there was a collective variant - the Revolutionary Red Banner of Honor. This was in the form of a military color awarded to distinguished Red Army, Soviet Air Force and it was more older than the order, having been established on August 3, a month and several weeks before. As a military decoration, The Order of the Red Banner recognised heroism in combat or otherwise extraordinary accomplishments of military valour during combat operations. Before the establishment of the Order of Lenin on April 5,1930, during World War II, under various titles, it was presented both to individuals and to units for acts of extreme military heroism. Nearly all well-known Soviet commanders became recipients of the Order of the Red Banner, the order was awarded to individuals as well as whole formations, which added the prefix Red Banner to their official designations.
Naval vessels flew a special ensign, the Order of the Red Banner was used as a long service award between 1944 and 1958 to mark twenty and thirty years of service in the military, state security, or police. This was surrounded by two golden panicles of wheat, at the bottom were the letters SSSR, additional awards of the Order bore a white enamelled shield with a silver sequence number at the bottom of the obverse. A recipient of three Orders of the Red Banner would wear a badge of the order followed by his second award bearing a number 2. The early variants of the Order were screw back badges to wear on clothing. Later variants hung from a standard Soviet pentagonal mount with a ring through the suspension loop, the mount was covered with an overlapping 24mm wide red silk moiré ribbon with 1. 5mm wide white edge stripes and a 7mm wide white central stripe. The Order of the Red Banner was worn on the side of the chest. If worn in the presence of Orders or medals of the Russian Federation, pavel Dybenko won 3 Orders of the Red Banner, his first in the 1921 bloody suppression of the naval rebellion in Kronstadt, his 2 others in 1922 in the suppression of peasants uprisings
The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used during many conflicts of the 1930s and in World War II. It was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and was one of the most successful designs of the 1930s until its light armour became vulnerable to newer anti-tank guns. It was produced in numbers than any other tank of the period. Twenty-three of these were series-produced, others were experimental models, the T-26 and BT were the main tanks of the Red Armys armoured forces during the interwar period. The T-26 was the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played a significant role during the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938, as well as in the Winter War in 1939–40. Though nearly obsolete by the beginning of World War II, the T-26 was the most numerous tank in the Red Armys armoured force during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Soviet T-26 light tanks last saw use in August 1945, during the defeat of the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria, the T-26 was exported and used extensively by Spain and Turkey.
Captured T-26s were used by the Finnish, German and Hungarian armies, the tank was reliable and simple to maintain, and its design was continually modernised between 1931 and 1941. No new models of the T-26 were developed after 1940, the T-26 was a Soviet development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank, which was designed by the Vickers-Armstrongs company in 1928–29. The simple and easy-to-maintain Vickers 6-Ton was intended for export to less technically advanced countries, the Soviet Union, Brazil, Japan, Thailand and many others. Vickers advertised the tank in military publications, and both the Soviet Union and Poland expressed interest in the Vickers design. In early 1930, the Soviet buying committee, under the direction of Semyon Ginzburg, arrived in Great Britain to select tanks, the Vickers 6-Ton was among four models of tanks selected by Soviet representatives during their visit to Vickers-Armstrongs. Several Soviet engineers participated in assembly of the tanks at the Vickers Factory in 1930, the first four Vickers 6-Ton tanks arrived in the USSR at the end of 1930.
The last tanks arrived in 1932, when production of the T-26 was already in progress. The British tanks were sent to Soviet factories for study in preparation for production and to military educational institutions. Later, some tanks were given to military depots and proving grounds. The Vickers-built 6-Ton tanks had the designator V-26 in the USSR, three British tanks were successfully tested for cross-country ability at the small proving ground near Moscow on Poklonnaya Hill in January 1931. Kliment Voroshilov ordered the creation of the Special Commission for the Red Army new tanks under the direction of S. Ginzburg to define the type suitable for the Red Army
The Battle of the Kamianets-Podilskyi pocket was a Soviet effort to surround and destroy the Wehrmachts 1st Panzer Army of Army Group South. The envelopment occurred in March 1944 on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, the Red Army successfully created the pocket, trapping some 200,000 German soldiers inside. Under the command of General Hans-Valentin Hube and with the direction of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein and this breakout is sometimes referred to as Hubes Pocket. In February 1944, the 1st Panzer Army—commanded by Generaloberst Hans-Valentin Hube—consisted of four Corps, together with attached Army units the 1st Panzer Army included over 200,000 troops and was the most powerful formation of Field Marshal Erich von Mansteins Army Group South. Zhukov planned a multi-Front offensive, involving his own 1st and Marshal Ivan Konevs 2nd Ukrainian Front, the operations were to take place on the extreme north and south of the Army Group Souths front. The Soviet offensives began in early March, with Zhukov taking personal command of Vatutins 1st Ukrainian front, the Red Armys massive concentration in troops and material forced Hube to withdraw his northern flank to south-west until it reached the Dniester river.
Despite constant Red Army attacks, this position held until late March, the force reached the Dniester and continued toward Chernivtsi. Behind them followed infantry and antitank units which began establishing defensive positions along the path of the advance behind the German positions, Manstein requested that the position be withdrawn to avoid encirclement, but Hitler refused, persisting with his no retreat orders. Hube ordered all non-combat personnel out of the salient along the last remaining open roadway, seeing this movement to the south Zhukov concluded that Hube was in full retreat. In a matter of days and Konevs forces had crossed the Dniester and were in position to complete the encirclement, on 25 March, the last line of communications corridor out of Hubes bridgehead located on the northern bank of the Dniester was severed at Khotyn. The entire 1st Panzer Army was now encircled in a centered around the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi. While the encircled forces had food and ammunition enough to them for over two weeks, the vehicles were extremely low on fuel.
Hube had ordered all service units south of the Dniester to withdraw away from the main Red Army penetration which were taking place to the south on the 2nd Ukrainian Fronts 40th Army front, Zhukov believed Hube would attempt to breakout to the south. To prevent this, he stripped units from the encircling forces, Hube now ordered the pocket to be reduced in size, shortening the positions lines to increase defence density. As the 1st Ukrainian Front prepared to complete the encirclement Hube requested the authorization to use mobile defence tactics, once the encirclement was complete, the situation changed. Manstein had been arguing with Hitler for the trapped Army to be allowed to attempt a breakout, with the loss of the entire Panzer army in the balance, Hitler finally gave in and ordered Hube to attempt a breakout. Though supplies were still being brought in, they were insufficient to maintain the Armys fighting strength, Zhukov sent a terse ultimatum, Surrender, or every German soldier in the pocket would be shot.
Moving west would mean fighting through the Soviet armoured forces that created the breach, Hube preferred to head south, over the Dniester
Kerch is a city of regional significance on the Kerch Peninsula in the east of the Crimea. Founded 2,600 years ago as an ancient Greek colony, the city experienced rapid growth starting in the 1920s and was the site of a major battle during World War II. Today, it is one of the largest cities in Crimea and is among the republics most important industrial, archeological digs at Mayak village near the city ascertained that the area had already been inhabited in 17th–15th centuries BC. Kerch as a city starts its history in 7th century BC, Panticapaeum subdued nearby cities and by 480 BC became a capital of the Kingdom of Bosporus. Later, during the rule of Mithradates VI Eupator, Panticapaeum for a period of time became the capital of the much more powerful. The city was located at the intersection of routes between the steppe and Europe. This caused it to grow rapidly, the citys main exports were grain and salted fish, wine-making was common. According to extant documents the Melek-Chesme river was navigable in Bosporan times, a large portion of the citys population was ethnically Scythian, Sarmatian, as the large royal barrow at Kul-Oba testifies.
In the 1st century AD Panticapaeum and the Kingdom of Bosporus suffered from Ostrogoth raids, from the 6th century the city was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. By order of Emperor Justinian I, a citadel named Bospor was built there, Bospor was the centre of a bishopric, the diocese of Bosporus and developed under the influence of Greek Christianity. In 576, it withstood a siege by the Göktürks under Bokhan, aided by Anagai, in the 7th century, the Turkic Khazars took control of Bospor, and the city was named Karcha from Turkic karşı meaning opposite, facing. The main local government official during Khazar times was the tudun, Christianity was a major religion in Kerch during the period of Khazar rule. Kerchs Church of St. John the Baptist was founded in 717, the Church of the Apostles existed during the late 8th and early 9th centuries, according to the Life of the Apostle Andrew by Epiphanius of Salamis. Following the fall of Khazaria to Kievan Rus in the late 10th century and its ruler, Georgius Tzul, was deposed by a Byzantine-Rus expedition in 1016.
From the 10th century, the city was a Slavic settlement named Korchev, Kerch was a center of trade between Russia, Crimea and the Orient. In the 13th century, the Crimea including Korchev was invaded by Mongols, after Mongols, the city became the Genoese colony of Cerco in 1318 and served as a sea harbour, where townspeople worked at salt-works and fishery. In 1475, city was passed to the Ottoman Empire, during the Turkish rule Kerch fell into decay and served as a slave-market. It repeatedly suffered from raids of Zaporizhian Cossacks, in response to strengthening of Russian military forces in Azov area, the Turks built a fortress, named Yenikale, near Kerch on the shore of Kerch Strait
51st Army (Russia)
The 51st Army was a field army of the Red Army that saw action against the Germans in World War II on both the southern and northern sectors of the front. The army fought in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942–43, from late 1944 to the end of the war, the army fought in the final cutting-off of German forces in the Courland area next to the Baltic. Inactivated in 1945, the army was activated again in 1977 to secure Sakhalin, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the army continued in existence as a component of the Russian Ground Forces. The army was active during two periods from 1941 until 1997, the Army was ordered formed on 14 August 1941 in the Crimea based on the 9th Rifle Corps and other units as the 51st Independent Army under Colonel General F. I. Kuznetsov, with the task of guarding the Crimean Peninsula, pavel Batov was appointed as his deputy. Thus Kuznetsov was summoned, and after a discussion, he was sent south to take up his new command, the Stavka ordered that the army command be handed over to Batov.
In November the army was evacuated from the Taman Peninsula and it joined the Transcaucasian Front, the army participated in the Kerch-Feodosiya landing operation in December 1941 – January 1942 alongside the 44th Army. The 44th and 51st Armies formed the Crimean Front under General Dmitri T. Kozlov, formally established on 28 January 1942, a German offensive was launched against the Front on 8 May 1942. Army commander Lieutenant General Vladimir Nikolayevich Lvov was killed by bomb fragments on 11 May while changing his command post, three armies,21 divisions,176,000 men,347 tanks, and nearly 3,500 guns were lost. The remains of the force were evacuated, after the evacuation 51st Army joined the North Caucasian Front at Kuban. On 22 July, army commander Major general Nikolai Trufanov was relieved of command, as part of the Stalingrad Front, briefly with the Southeast Front, and back with the Stalingrad Front it took part in the Battle of Stalingrad. On 31 July when it came under Stalingrad Front control it was so worn down by its previous rough handling that it was only 3,000 men strong and it was attacked on the same day by the 4th Panzer Army, which was able to break through.
During Operation Uranus, the counterattack from Stalingrad, the 4th Mechanized Corps began its attack from the 51st Armys sector, in early December, 51st Army was deployed to cover the Kotelnikovo approaches against German relief attempts by the LVII. On 24–25 December 1942, the commander of 51st Army, Major-General N. I, on 30 January 1943, the Luftwaffes Kampfgeschwader 51 destroyed the 51st Armys Headquarters, near Salsk. Up to 20 buildings and personnel billets were destroyed, casualties among personnel were very high. On 1 April 1944, 51st Army included the 1st Guards Rifle Corps, 10th Rifle Corps, 63rd Rifle Corps, the 77th Rifle Division, during these operations, the 51st Armys attacks trapped the German XXIX. Armeekorps against the Sea of Azov, the army was withdrawn to the Reserve of the Supreme High Command on 20 May and relocated to the area of Polotsk and Vitebsk in Belarus. As part of the 1st Baltic Front it participated in operations clearing Latvia and Lithuania – the Baltic Offensive
46th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
The 46th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the German Army active from 1938 to 1945. It saw active service during the Second World War, mainly on the Eastern Front, the 46th Infantry Division was formed in 1938 under the command of Generalmajor Paul von Hase. It fought in the invasion of Poland in 1939, and the year was engaged in fighting in France. It remained there into 1941 and participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia in April, during the invasion of the Soviet Union, it was attached to Army Group South and marched through the Ukraine and into the Crimea. In December 1941 it was engaged in fighting in the Kerch Peninsula in December when two Soviet Armies attacked its positions. Despite being instructed to hold its ground, the XXXXII Corps commander, General von Sponeck and this order was countermanded by the 11th Army commander, Erich von Manstein, but since von Sponeck had already disassembled his wireless set, the order to hold ground was not received. The division avoided encirclement and eventually helped stem the tide of the Red Army landings at Feodosiya, the withdrawal of the division infuriated the commander of Army Group South, Feldmarschall Walther von Reichenau, and on Hitlers orders von Sponeck was dismissed.
The divisions commander, Generalleutnant Kurt Himer, was relieved of his command. After the death of von Reichenau two weeks later, his successor Fedor von Bock restored Himer to command along with the divisions honours and it participated in the Siege of Sevastopol and in the fighting in the Caucasus in the winter of 1942–43. As the tide of the war turned against the Germans, the division was forced to retreat through the Ukraine. In March 1945, the division was designated a Volksgrenadier formation, with its numbers depleted, the division surrendered to the Soviets in May 1945. Mitcham, Jr. German Order of Battle, volume One, 1st – 290th Infantry Divisions in WWII. PA, United States of America, Stackpole Books
Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine and the seventh largest city in the country overall, is one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine. Named in honor of the Leo, the eldest son of Rus King Daniel of Galicia. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia from 1272 to 1349, from 1434, it was the regional capital of the Ruthenian Voivodeship in the Kingdom of Poland and was known as Lwów. In 1772, after the First partition of Poland, the city became the capital of the Habsburg Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and was renamed to Lemberg, in 1918 in a short time was the capital of the West Ukrainian Peoples Republic. Between the wars, the city was again as Lwów and was the centre of the Lwów Voivodeship in the Second Polish Republic. After World War II, it part of the Soviet Union. Administratively, Lviv serves as the center of Lviv Oblast and has the status of city of oblast significance. Lviv was the centre of the region of Galicia. The historical heart of the city, with its old buildings and cobblestone streets, survived Soviet, the city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as Lviv University and Lviv Polytechnic.
Lviv is the home of many cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the center of the city in September 2006. Lviv is located on the edge of the Roztochia Upland, approximately 70 kilometers from the Polish border and 160 kilometers from the eastern Carpathian Mountains, the average altitude of Lviv is 296 meters above sea level. Its highest point is the Vysokyi Zamok,409 meters above sea level and this castle has a commanding view of the historic city centre with its distinctive green-domed churches and intricate architecture. The old walled city was at the foothills of the High Castle on the banks of the River Poltva, in the 13th century, the river was used to transport goods. Lvivs climate is continental with cold winters and mild summers. The average temperatures are −3.1 °C in January and 18.3 °C in July, the average annual rainfall is 745 mm with the maximum being in summer.
Lviv approximately receives 1,804 hours of sunshine annually, archaeologists have demonstrated that the Lviv area was settled by the 5th century. The area between the Castle Hill and the river Poltva was continuously settled since the 9th century, in 1977 it was discovered that the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas had been built on a previously functioning cemetery
Opole is a city located in southern Poland on the Oder River. With a population of approximately 127,792, it is the capital of the Opole Voivodeship and, with it long history dating back to the 9th century, Opole is considered to be one of the oldest towns in Poland. The origins of the first settlement are connected with the town being granted Magdeburg Rights in 1217 by Casimir I of Opole, the rapid development of the town was caused by the establishment of a seat of regency in Opole in 1816. During its existence Opole belonged to Poland, Prussia, prior to World War II it was located in eastern Germany and was one of the largest centres of Polish minority in the entire country. In 1945, according to Yalta and Potsdam Agreements, the region was assigned to Poland, many German Upper Silesians and Poles of German ancestry still live in the Opole region, in the city itself, ethnic Germans make up less than 3% of the population. It was the capital of the region of Upper Silesia. The National Festival of Polish Song has been held annually since 1963 and each year new regular events, shows.
Opole is sometimes referred to as Polish Venice, because of its picturesque Old Town and several canals, the name Opole likely originated from the medieval Slavic term for a group of settlements. Opoles history begins in the 8th century, at this time, according to the archeological excavations, the first Slavic settlement was founded on the Ostrówek - the northern part of the Pasieka Island in the middle of the Oder river. In the early 10th century it developed one of the main gróds of the Slavic Opolanie. At the end of the century Silesia became part of Poland and was ruled by the Piast dynasty, from the 11th-12th centuries it was a castellany. After the death of Duke Władysław II the Exile, Silesia was divided in 1163 between two Piast lines- the Wrocławska line in Lower Silesia and the Opolsko-Raciborska of Upper Silesia. Opole would become a duchy in 1172 and would share much in common with the Duchy of Racibórz, in 1281 Upper Silesia was divided further between the heirs of the dukes. The Duchy of Opole was temporarily reestablished in 1290, in the early 13th century, Duke Casimir I of Opole decided to move the settlement from the Pasieka Island into the right shore of the Oder river.
All of the inhabitants had to be moved in order to place for the castle that was eventually built in the place of the old city. Former inhabitants of Ostrówek together with German merchants that immigrated here from the West, Opole received German town law in 1254, which was expanded with Neumarkt law in 1327. Opole developed during the rule of duke Bolko I of Opole, in this time the castle was finally completed and new buildings, including the city walls and the Holy Cross Church, were constructed. Along with most of Silesia, in 1327 the Duchy of Opole came under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Bohemia, in 1521 the Duchy of Racibórz was inherited by the Duchy of Opole, by also known by its German equivalent - Oppeln