Battle of Brody (1941)
It is known in Soviet historiography as a part of the border defensive battles. Although the Red Army formations inflicted heavy losses on the German forces, 1st Panzer Group, led by Generaloberst Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, was ordered to secure the Bug River crossings and advance to Rovno and Korosten with the strategic objective of Kiev. It deployed two Corps forward and advanced between Lviv and Rovno in an attempt to cut the Lviv–Kiev railway line, thus driving a wedge along junction point between the Soviet 5th and 6th Armies. The Southwestern Front, under the command of General Mikhail Kirponos, had received intelligence on the size. They were surprised when Stavka ordered a general counter-attack under the title of Directive No.3 on the authority of Chief of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, most of the headquarters staff were convinced that the strategy would be to remain in a defensive posture until the situation clarified. The general orders of Directive No, six Soviet mechanized corps, with over 2,500 tanks, were massed to take part in a concentric counter-attack through the flanks of Panzer Group 1.
To achieve this, the 8th Mechanized Corps was transferred from the command of the 26th Army, positioned to the south of the 6th Army and this essentially brought all the mobile assets of the Southwestern Front to bear against the base of von Kleists thrust toward Kiev. The primary German infantry formation operating on this sector of the front, at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, German armor was composed of a mix of Czech and German tanks, as well as small numbers of captured French and British tanks. Furthermore, nearly 50% of the tanks deployed by the Wehrmacht were the virtually obsolete Panzer I, of the 4000 armored vehicles available to the Wehrmacht, only 1400 were the new Panzer III and Panzer IV. In the first few hours of the invasion, German commanders were shocked to find that some Soviet tanks were immune to all anti tank weapons in use by the Wehrmacht, during pre-war exercises, Heinz Guderian noted that on their own, tanks were very vulnerable to infantry. While dispersing tanks among infantry formations solved many of the tanks weaknesses, at the beginning of June, the Red Army included over 19,000 tanks in their inventory, most of them light tanks such as the T-26 or BT-7.
The front armor of the T-26 was just 15mm thick, the poor design of Soviet shells meant that most rounds shattered on contact, rather than detonating. During the interwar years, far sighted military theorists such as Mikhail Tukhachevsky came to conclusions as Heinz Guderian regarding tanks in modern warfare. However, during the Great Purge Tukhachevsky was executed, Red Army tanks were dispersed widely throughout infantry divisions in the 1930s. Then came the shock of the Fall of France, however, by June 1941 this process was barely half complete, so many of the 10,000 tanks in the Red Army arsenal were still dispersed among infantry divisions on the eve of the invasion. This ensured that if the Red Army had a unified command. At full strength, a German Panzer Division was a formation with between 150 and 200 tanks, motorized infantry, motorized artillery, and motorized engineers. To support its logistical needs, each division included 2000 trucks
The result of the series of battles was the isolation and encirclement of the Army Group North in the Courland Pocket and Soviet re-occupation of the Baltic States. In 1944, the Wehrmacht was pressed back along its entire frontline in the east, in February 1944, it retreated from the approaches to Leningrad to the prepared section of the Panther Line at the border of Estonia. In June and July, Army Group Centre was thrown back from the Belorussian SSR into Poland by Operation Bagration and this created the opportunity for the Red Army to attack towards the Baltic Sea, thereby severing the land connection between the German Army Groups. By 5 July, the Šiauliai Offensive commenced, as a follow-on from Operation Bagration, the Soviet 43rd, 51st, and 2nd Guards Armies attacked towards Riga on the Baltic coast with 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps in the van. By 31 July, the coast on the Gulf of Riga had been reached, 6th Guards Army covered Riga, the German reaction was rapid, and initially successful.
A counterattack, code-named Operation Doppelkopf, was conducted on 16 August by XXXX, a follow-on attack, code-named Operation Cäsar, and launched on 16 September, failed in the same manner. After a brief period of respite, STAVKA issued orders for the Baltic Strategic Offensive, the Tallinn Offensive was carried out by the Leningrad Front to drive German forces from mainland Estonia. The Moonsund Landing Operation was the landing on the Estonian islands of Hiiumaa and Muhu. According to Soviet data Germany lost 7.000 dead soldiers and 700 captured, the Memel Offensive was an attack by the 1st Baltic Front aimed at severing the connection between the German Army Groups Centre and North. The Baltic Offensive operation resulted in the expulsion of German forces from Estonia and Lithuania, the Soviet fronts involved in the battle lost a total of ca.280,000 men to all causes. Communication lines between Army Group North and Army Group Centre were permanently severed, and the former was relegated to an occupied Baltic seashore area in Latvia.
On 25 January, Adolf Hitler renamed Army Group North to Army Group Courland implicitly recognising that there was no possibility of restoring a new land corridor between Courland and East Prussia. Operations by the Red Army against the Courland Pocket continued until the surrender of the Army Group Courland on 9 May 1945, the German command released thousands of native conscripts from military service. However the Soviet command began conscripting Baltic natives as areas were brought under Soviet control, while some ended up serving on both sides, many partisans hid in the woods to avoid conscription. 112 Hero of the Soviet Union awards were given out during the offensive, Soviet rule of the Baltic states was re-established by force, and sovietisation followed, which was mostly carried out in 1944–1950. The forced collectivisation of agriculture began in 1947, and was completed after the deportation of civilians in March 1949. All private farms were confiscated, and farmers were made to join the collective farms, an armed resistance movement of forest brothers was active until the mass deportations.
Tens of thousands participated or supported the movement, thousands were killed, the Soviet authorities fighting the forest brothers suffered hundreds of deaths
IS tank family
The IS Tank was a series of heavy tanks developed as a successor to the KV-series by the Soviet Union during World War II. The heavy tank was designed with thick armor to counter German 88 mm guns and it was mainly a breakthrough tank, firing a heavy high-explosive shell that was useful against entrenchments and bunkers. The IS-2 went into service in April 1944 and was used as a spearhead by the Red Army in the stage of the Battle of Berlin. The IS acronym is the initialism of Joseph Stalin. The KV-1 was criticized by its crews for its poor mobility and it was much more expensive than the T-34, without having greater combat performance. Moscow ordered some KV-1 assembly lines to shift to T-34 production, leading to fears that KV-1 production would be halted, in 1942, this problem was partially addressed by the KV-1S tank, which had thinner armor than the original, making it lighter and faster. It was competitive with the T-34 but at the cost of no longer having the heavier armor, production of the KV-1S was gradually replaced by the SU-152 and ended in April 1943.
The capture of a German Tiger tank in January 1943 led to a decision to develop a new heavy tank, before Object 237 had time to mature, intense tank fighting in the summer of 1943 demanded a response. The KV-85 was created by mounting an Object 237 turret on a KV-1S hull, to accommodate the Object 237 turret, the KV-1S hull was modified, increasing the diameter of the turret ring with fillets on the sides of the hull. The radio operator was replaced with a rack for the larger 85 mm ammunition. The hull MG was moved to the side of the driver. From September to October 1943, a total of 130 KV-85s were produced, like the KV-1S, the KV-85 served in dwindling numbers and was quickly overshadowed by the superior IS Stalin series. The Object 237 prototype, a version of the cancelled KV-13, was accepted for production as the IS-85 heavy tank, first deliveries were made in October 1943, and the tanks went immediately into service. Its designation was simplified to IS-1 after the introduction of the IS-122, by 1943 engineers had succeeded in mounting the 85 mm gun to the T-34 medium tank, making it as well-armed as the KV-85 heavy tank.
Efforts to up-gun the IS-85 began in late 1943, two candidate weapons were the D-25122 mm tank gun, ballistic characteristics of which were identical to the A-19122 mm gun, and the D-10100 mm gun, based on a naval dual-purpose gun. The D-10 had been designed for fire and had better armor penetration than the A-19. Also, the D-10 was a new weapon in short supply, while there was excess production capacity for the A-19. Compared to the older F-3476.2 mm tank gun, after testing both guns on the IS-122 and IS-100 respectively, the former was selected as the main armament of the new tank
Soviet invasion of Manchuria
Soviet gains on the continent were Manchukuo and northern Korea. Since 1983, the operation has sometimes been called Operation August Storm, the invasion began on 9 August 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8. It has referred to as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. This was to be performed by the Transbaikal Front from the west and by the 1st Far Eastern Front from the east, the only Soviet equivalent of a theater command that operated during the war, Far East Command, consisted of three Red Army fronts. The Transbaikal Front was to form the western half of the Soviet pincer movement, attacking across the Inner Mongolian desert, the 36th Army was attacking from the west, but with the objective of meeting forces of the 2nd Far Eastern Front at Harbin and Tsitsihar. The 1st Far Eastern Front, under Marshal Kirill Meretskov, the 1st Far Eastern Front was to form the eastern half of the pincer movement. This attack involved the 1st Red Banner Army, the 5th Army, once that city was captured, this force was to advance towards the cities of Jilin and Harbin.
Its final objective was to link up with the forces of the Transbaikal Front at Changchun and this secondary objective was to be carried out by the 25th Army. Meanwhile, the 35th Army was tasked with capturing the cities of Boli, the 2nd Far Eastern Front, under General Maksim Purkayev, included, 2nd Red Banner Army 15th Army 16th Army 5th Separate Rifle Corps Chuguevsk Operational Group Amur Military Flotilla 10th Air Army. The 2nd Far Eastern Front was deployed in an attack role. Its objectives were the cities of Harbin and Tsitsihar, and to prevent an orderly withdrawal to the south by the Japanese forces. Once troops from the 1st Far Eastern Front and Transbaikal Front captured the city of Changchun, each front had front units attached directly to the front instead of an army. The forces totaled 89 divisions with 1.5 million men,3,704 tanks,1,852 self propelled guns,85,819 vehicles and 3,721 aircraft, approximately one-third of its strength was in combat support and services. The Soviet plan incorporated all the experience in warfare that they had acquired in fighting the Germans.
In addition, the Japanese were assisted by the forces of their states of Manchukuo. The former had an army of about 170,000 to 220,000 troops, while the latter had around 10,000, the next target for the Soviet Far East Command, was garrisoned by the Japanese Seventeenth Area Army. The Kwantung Army had over 700,000 men in twenty-five divisions and these contained over 1,215 armored vehicles,6,700 artillery pieces, and 1,800 aircraft. They were deployed against the Nationalist Chinese in Operation Ichigo, by 1945, the Kwantung Army contained a large number of raw recruits and conscripts, with generally obsolete, light, or otherwise limited equipment
Sir Antony James Beevor, FRSL is an English military historian. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War, Beevor was educated at two independent schools, at Abberley Hall School in Worcestershire, followed by Winchester College in Hampshire. Beevor has been a professor at the School of History and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. Kinta Beevor wrote A Tuscan Childhood, Antony Beevor is married to biographer Artemis Cooper, they have two children and Adam. His best-known works, the best-selling Stalingrad and Berlin - The Downfall 1945 and they have been praised for their vivid, compelling style, their treatment of the ordinary lives of combatants and civilians and the use of newly disclosed documents from Soviet archives. His 2012 book The Second World War is noted for its focus on the conditions and grief faced by civilians and women and he has appeared as an expert in documentaries related to World War II. Overall, his works have translated into over 30 languages with over 6 million copies sold.
Beevor responded by calling the banning a government trying to impose its own version of history like other attempts to dictate a truth such as the denial of the Holocaust, Beevor was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services in support of Armed Forces Professional Development. Beevor is a Chevalier de lOrdre des Arts et des Lettres, a member of Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana and he was awarded an Honorary D. Litt. From the University of Bath in 2010, and a doctorate from the University of Kent. His book Crete, The Battle and the Resistance for which he won the Runciman Prize, administered by the Anglo-Hellenic League for stimulating interest in Greek history, Beevor has been recognized with the 2014 Pritzker Military Museum & Librarys Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Tim OBrien, the 2013 recipient, made the announcement on behalf of the selection committee, the award carried a purse of $US100,000. In July 2016, he was awarded the Medlicott Medal for services to history by the UK based Historical Association, Beevor sits on the Council of the Society of Authors.
Antony Beevor has edited books, including, A Writer at War, Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941–1945 by Vasily Grossman
World War II
World War II, known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the worlds countries—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the bombing of industrial and population centres. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history, from late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and European colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific.
The Axis advance halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway, near Hawaii, in 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy, thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies. World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world, the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The victorious great powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers waned, while the decolonisation of Asia, most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery.
Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities, the start of the war in Europe is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland and France declared war on Germany two days later. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or even the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred simultaneously and this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935. The British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the forces of Mongolia and the Soviet Union from May to September 1939, the exact date of the wars end is not universally agreed upon.
It was generally accepted at the time that the war ended with the armistice of 14 August 1945, rather than the formal surrender of Japan
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk was a Second World War engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk in the Soviet Union during July and August 1943. The German offensive was code-named Operation Citadel and led to one of the largest armoured clashes in history, the German offensive was countered by two Soviet counter-offensives, Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev and Operation Kutuzov. For the Germans, the battle was the strategic offensive that they were able to launch on the Eastern Front. Their extensive loss of men and tanks ensured that the victorious Soviet Red Army enjoyed the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war. The Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off a number of forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salient. The Kursk salient or bulge was 250 kilometres long north to south and 160 kilometres from east to west. The plan envisioned an envelopment by a pair of breaking through the northern and southern flanks of the salient.
Adolf Hitler believed that a victory here would reassert German strength and improve his prestige with his allies and it was hoped that large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be captured to be used as slave labour in the German armaments industry. The Soviet government had foreknowledge of the German intentions, provided in part by the British intelligence service, aware months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets built a defence in depth designed to wear down the German armoured spearhead. The Germans delayed the offensive while they tried to build up their forces and waited for new weapons, mainly the new Panther tank and this gave the Red Army time to construct a series of deep defensive belts. The defensive preparations included minefields, artillery fire zones and anti-tank strong points, Soviet mobile formations were moved out of the salient and a large reserve force was formed for strategic counter-offensives. The Battle of Kursk was the first time in the Second World War that a German strategic offensive was halted before it could break through enemy defences, the maximum depth of the German advance was 8–12 kilometres in the north and 35 kilometres in the south.
Though the Red Army had succeeded in winter offensives previously, their counter-offensives following the German attack at Kursk were their first successful strategic summer offensives of the war. As the Battle of Stalingrad slowly ground to its conclusion the Red Army moved to an offensive in the south. Army Group Center came under significant pressure as well, Kursk fell to the Soviets on 8 February 1943, and Rostov on 14 February. The Soviet Bryansk and newly created Central Fronts prepared for an offensive which envisioned the encirclement of Army Group Center between Bryansk and Smolensk, by February 1943 the southern sector of the German front was in strategic crisis. Since December 1942 Field Marshal Erich von Manstein had been strongly requesting unrestricted operational freedom to him to use his forces in a fluid manner. On 6 February 1943, Manstein met with Hitler at the headquarters in Rasternburg to discuss the proposals he had previously sent and he received an approval from Hitler for a counteroffensive against the Soviet forces advancing in the Donbass region
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Nazi Germanys invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, which was launched on Sunday 22 June 1941. In the two leading up to the invasion, the two countries signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940, over the course of the operation, about four million Axis personnel invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2, 900-kilometer front, the largest invasion force in the history of warfare. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht employed some 600,000 motor vehicles, the offensive marked an escalation of the war, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition. Despite their successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow and was pushed back by the Soviet winter counteroffensive. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmachts strongest blows and forced the unprepared Germans into a war of attrition, the Wehrmacht would never again mount a simultaneous offensive along the entire strategic Soviet–Axis front.
The failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue. The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most importantly, the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Soviet prisoners of war who were not granted protections stipulated in the Geneva Conventions, a majority of them never returned alive. The Nazis deliberately starved 3.1 million of the prisoners to death as part of a Hunger Plan that aimed to reduce the population of Eastern Europe, over a million Soviet Jews were murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and gassing as part of the Holocaust. On 10 February 1939, Hitler told his commanders that the next war would be purely a war of Weltanschauungen. Totally a peoples war, a racial war, on 23 November, once World War II had already started, Hitler declared that racial war has broken out and this war shall determine who shall govern Europe, and with it, the world.
The racial policy of Nazi Germany viewed the Soviet Union as populated by non-Aryan Untermenschen, Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Germanys destiny was to turn to the East as it did six hundred years ago. Accordingly, it was stated Nazi policy to kill, deport, or enslave the majority of Russian and other Slavic populations and repopulate the land with Germanic peoples, under the Generalplan Ost. Likening the Soviets to the forces of Genghis Khan, Hitler told Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the Mongolian race threatened Europe. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as Jewish Bolshevik subhumans, the Mongol hordes, the Asiatic flood, German army commanders cast the Jews as the major cause behind the partisan struggle. The main guideline policy for German troops was Where theres a partisan, theres a Jew, many German troops viewed the war in Nazi terms and regarded their Soviet enemies as sub-human
Battle of Uman
The Battle of Uman was the German and allied encirclement of the 6th and 12th Soviet Armies—under the command of Lieutenant General I. N. Muzyrchenko and Major General P. G. The Soviet forces were under command of the Southwestern Direction, commanded by Marshal Semyon Budyonny. This was among the large Axis encirclements that were executed against the Red Army, in mid July the Soviet 22nd and 15th Mechanized Corps engaged the German 3rd Motorized Corps near Kiev, and was decimated. The 1st Panzerarmee bypassed much of the forces, leaving the German 6th Armys 297th Infantry Division to defeat the remnants with anti-tank. On June 26th, the Soviets launched a second counter-attack on the 1st Panzerarmee from the north and south, the attack comprised elements of the Red 8th, 9th and 19th Mechanized Corps, altogether fielding about 1600 tanks. An intense battle took place four days, ending in a Soviet defeat. All action by Soviet forces failed as advance guard elements of the German 17th Field Army were reinforced by the 16th Panzer Division, in mid-July German troops cut the rail road at Talnoye and captured bridges over the Gorniy Tikich, and Sinucha rivers.
As the Axis victory at Uman was secured, 1st Panzerarmee turned north to assist the 2nd Panzerarmee in operations at Kiev in September, Budyonny had 1.5 million troops under his command in two strategic sectors of the front to defend, at Kiev, and Vinnytsia-Uman. General Karl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel’s 17th Field Army advanced to the South of Uman, Budyonny was under strict orders from Joseph Stalin, who micromanaged the war early on, not to retreat under any circumstances. On 28 July, an order was given to the Southwestern and Southern Fronts to stop the Germans from crossing the Dnieper, as a result, an opportunity to avoid the danger of encirclement by retreating in the Southeastern direction was lost. The effect of the closing Axis forces was to force the concentration of the two Soviet Armies in an ever reduced area, with the combined HQs of the armies located in the town of Podvisokoye. On 2 August, the encirclement was closed by the meeting of Panzer Group 1 and this encirclement was reinforced the next day by a second joining formed when the German 16th Panzer Division met with the Hungarian Mechanized Corps.
By 8 August, the Soviet resistance had generally stopped, remnants of 20 divisions from the 6th Army and the 12th Army were trapped. German sources after the war reported about 103,000 troops were taken prisoner, included among officers taken prisoner were commanders of both the 6th and 12th armies, four corps commanders, and 11 division commanders. As the pocket was eliminated, the tanks of 1st Panzerarmee turned north, the Crimean objective was for a time left to the field armies, the first of many times when Hitler would change his mind about strategic objectives of the Army Groups