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
It had 2.4 million men under its service during the Cold War. At the end of World War II the Red Army had over 500 rifle divisions and their experience of war gave the Soviets such faith in tank forces that the infantry force was cut by two-thirds. The Tank Corps of the war period were converted to tank divisions. MRDs had three motorized rifle regiments and a regiment, for a total of ten motor rifle battalions and six tank battalions. The Land Forces Chief Command was created for the first time in March 1946, four years it was disbanded, only to be formed again in 1955. In March 1964 the Chief Command was again disbanded but recreated in November 1967, the personnel strength of the Ground Forces was reduced from 9.8 million to 2.4 million. Elsewhere, they may have assisted the NKVD in suppressing resistance in Western Ukraine. Soviet troops, including the 39th Army, remained at Port Arthur, control was handed over to the new Chinese communist government. Soviet Army forces on USSR territory were apportioned among military districts, there were 32 of them in 1945.
Sixteen districts remained from the mid-1970s to the end of the USSR, the greatest Soviet Army concentration was in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, which suppressed the anti-Soviet Uprising of 1953 in East Germany. East European Groups of Forces were the Northern Group of Forces in Poland, and the Southern Group of Forces in Hungary, in 1958, Soviet troops were withdrawn from Romania. The Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia was established after Warsaw Pact intervention against the Prague Spring of 1968. In 1969, at the east end of the Soviet Union, the Sino-Soviet border conflict, prompted establishment of a 16th military district, in 1979, the Soviet Union entered Afghanistan, to support its Communist government, provoking a 10-year Afghan mujahideen guerrilla resistance. Throughout the Cold War, Western intelligence estimates calculated that the Soviet strength remained ca.2.8 million to ca.5.3 million men, by the middle of the 1980s the Ground Forces contained about 210 divisions.
About three-quarters were motor rifle divisions and the tank divisions. There were a number of artillery divisions, separate artillery brigades, engineer formations. However, only relatively few formations were fully war ready, three readiness categories, A, B, and V, after the first three letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, were in force. The Category A divisions were certified combat-ready and were fully equipped, B and V divisions were lower-readiness, 50–75% and 10–33% respectively
Minsk (Belarusian, Мінск pronounced, is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Nyamiha rivers. It is the centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States. As the national capital, Minsk has an administrative status in Belarus and is the administrative centre of Minsk Region. In 2013, it had a population of 2,002,600, the earliest historical references to Minsk date to the 11th century, when it was noted as a provincial city within the principality of Polotsk. The settlement developed on the rivers, in 1242, Minsk became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It received town privileges in 1499, from 1569, it was a capital of the Minsk Voivodeship in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was part of a region annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793, from 1919 to 1991, after the Russian Revolution, Minsk was the capital of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. Minsk will host the 2019 European Games, Minsk is located on the southeastern slope of the Minsk Hills, a region of rolling hills running from the southwest to the northeast – that is, to Lukomskaye Lake in northwestern Belarus.
The average altitude above sea level is 220 metres, the physical geography of Minsk was shaped over the two most recent ice ages. There are six smaller rivers within the city limits, all part of the Black Sea basin, Minsk is in the area of mixed forests typical of most of Belarus. Pinewood and mixed forests border the edge of the city, especially in the north, some of the forests were preserved as parks as the city grew. The city was built on the hills, which allowed for defensive fortifications. Minsk has a warm summer humid continental climate, owing to its location between the strong influence of the moist air of the Atlantic Ocean and the dry air of the Eurasian landmass. Its weather is unstable and tends to change often, the average January temperature is −4.5 °C, while the average July temperature is 18.5 °C. The lowest temperature was recorded on 17 January 1940, at −40 °C and the warmest on 29 July 1936 at 35 °C and this results in frequent fogs, common in the autumn and spring. Minsk receives annual precipitation of 690 millimetres, of one third falls during the cold period.
Throughout the year, most winds are westerly and northwesterly, bringing cool, similar climatic regimes are found in Stockholm, Sweden and in Halifax, Canada. The ecological situation is monitored by Republican Centre of Radioactive and Environmental Control, during 2003–2008 the overall weight of contaminants increased from 186,000 to 247,400 tons
The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tanks introduced just as the Second World War ended. The first T-54 prototype was completed at Nizhni Tagli by the end of 1945, the T-54 eventually became the main tank for armoured units of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others. T-54s and T-55s have been involved in many of the armed conflicts since the part of the 20th century. The T-54/55 series eventually became the tank in military history. Estimated production numbers for the range from 86,000 to 100,000. During the Cold War, Soviet tanks never directly faced their NATO adversaries in combat in Europe, the Soviet T-34 medium tank of the 1940s is considered to have the best balance of firepower and mobility for its cost of any tank of its time in the world. In 1943, the Morozov Design Bureau resurrected the pre-war T-34M development project, by the time the T-44 was ready for production, the T-34 had been modified to fit the same gun. The T-44 was produced in small numbers, around 2,000 being completed during the war.
Instead, the continued to use the design as the basis for further improved guns, experimenting with a 122 mm design. Efforts to fit the 100 mm gun to the T-44 demonstrated that changes to the design would greatly improve the combination. The main issue was a turret ring, which suggested slightly enlarging the hull. A prototype of the new design, about 40 centimetres longer and this model looked almost identical to the original T-44, albeit with a much larger gun. In testing, there were drawbacks that required correction and many alterations that had to be made to the vehicles design. It was decided to begin production of the new vehicle. It would go into production in Nizhni Tagil in 1947 and Kharkov in 1948, production of the initial series of T-54s began slowly as 1,490 modifications were made. The Red Army received a tank that was superior to World War II designs, the 100 mm gun fired BR-412 series full-calibre APHE ammunition, which had superior penetration capability when compared to the T-34 that it replaced.
The serial production version, designated T-54-1, differed from the second T-54 prototype, as production ramped up, quality problems emerged. Production was stopped and an improved T-54-2 version was designed, several changes were made and a new turret was fitted
5th Guards Motor Rifle Division
The 5th Guards Zimovnikovskaya order Kutuzov II degree Motor Rifle Division, named on the 60th anniversary of the USSR, was a military formation of the Soviet Ground Forces. It traces back to the 6th Mechanized Corps created in 1940 that was destroyed in 1941 in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the corps was reformed in November 1942 under the same name, but with a different organizational structure. In early 1943, the 6th Mechanized Corps was granted Guards status and it became the 5th Guards Mechanized Division in 1945, and subsequently the 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division in 1965. The 6th Mechanised Corps began to form on 15 July 1940 at Bialystok in the Western Special Military District and it was attached to the 10th Army in the Bialystok area and was under the command of Major General M. G. Khatskilevich when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941, the Corps initially comprised the 4th, 7th Tank Divisions and the 29th Mechanized Division, as well as smaller units. A report by Major General B. S.
Vasilevich, commander of 7th Tank Division, on 4 August 1941 said that the division had been at 98% enlisted strength, the division included 348 tanks, of which 51 were KVs and 150 T-34s. However, there was lack of supplies and it possessed only one to one and a half loads of 76mm ammunition when it entered battle, no armor-piercing ammunition for its tanks, three refills of gasoline, and a single fill of diesel fuel. The fuel ran out quickly, partially due to unclear orders, the division had to move to three new assembly areas within the first two days of the war. The division was soon immobilized south of Grodno, similar to the 4th Mechanized Corps, the 6th Mechanized Corps stood out of the remaining mechanized corps of the Red Army. On 22 June 1941 it was formed, and stationed no further than 100-150 kilometers from the border. The 6th Mechanized Corps was heavily involved in the first battles with Germans, at 23,40 on the day of German invasion, Pavlov ordered his Deputy Front Commander Lieutenant General Ivan Boldin to take command over what would be called Boldins group.
The groups core was the 6th Mechanized Corps and the 6th Cavalry Corps and it is considered part of the larger Battle of Białystok–Minsk. Without adequate ammunition and with tanks in a state of disrepair and sent to several different locations without fuel reserves. A Western Front report on 27 June noted that 6th Mechanized Corps had lost 20–26% of its strength in its 4th and 7th tank Divisions. Solonin stated that the battle that 6th Mechanized Corps saw was an attack of 24 June. The corps dissipated soon without any combat, with negligible losses to aircraft. The corps scattered on 27 June near Krynki, with the personnel retreating east in small groups, communication with the headquarters of Boldin was lost and Major General Khatskilevich died on 25 June 1941. Hoths panzers had reached Vilnius on the 23rd of June, Grodno, by 25 June 1941 Guderians 2nd Panzergruppe reached Slonim and Vawkavysk and cut off the retreat of the greater part of the 10th and 3rd Armies at Białystok encirclement
Guards or Guards units were elite military units of Imperial Russia prior to 1917-18. The designation of Guards was subsequently adopted as a distinction for various units and formations of the Soviet Union, the tradition goes back to the a chieftains druzhina of medieval Kievan Rus and the Marksman Troops, the Muscovite harquebusiers formed by Ivan the Terrible by 1550. The exact meaning of the term Guards varied over time, in the Russian Empire, Imperial Russian Guard units, derived from German Leibgarde, were intended to ensure the security of the sovereign, that of Peter the Great in the 1690s. These were based on the Prussian Royal Life Guards, during the 19th century the Imperial Russian Guard regiments were not exclusively composed of Russian troops, but included Lithuanian and Ukrainian units. During the Brusilov Offensive the 1st and 2nd Guards numbers were supplemented with line army corp, in February–March 1917 the defection of reserve battalions of the Imperial Guard based in Petrograd was a major factor in the overthrow of the Tsarist government.
The service units of the Guard at the front disintegrated along with the remainder of the Imperial Army, the Red Guards were armed groups of workers formed during the Russian Revolution of 1917, although the designation and concept dates back to Moscow during the Revolution of 1905. In 1917 the volunteers of the Red Guard and their leaders formed the main strike force of the Bolsheviks. In October 1917 the Red Guards of Petrograd played a role in the capture of the Winter Palace. When the Soviet Red Army was formed in 1918, the Red Guards became the Army Reserve, the Guards badge was not introduced until 21 May 1943. Zhukov states the first period of the war gave birth to the Soviet Guards, for mass heroism and success in the battles of 1941-1942 the Guards title was awarded to 789 groups, separate units, and fighting ships of the Soviet Armed Forces. List of guards units of Ukraine
East Prussia was a province of Prussia from 1773–1829 and from 1878–1945. East Prussia was the part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast. East Prussia enclosed the bulk of the lands of the Baltic Old Prussians. During the 13th century, the native Prussians were conquered by the crusading Teutonic Knights, the indigenous Balts who survived the conquest were gradually converted to Christianity. Because of Germanization and colonisation over the centuries, Germans became the dominant ethnic group, while Poles. From the 13th century, East Prussia was part of the state of the Teutonic Knights. After the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 it became a fief of the Kingdom of Poland, in 1525, with the Prussian Homage, the province became the Duchy of Prussia. The Old Prussian language had become extinct by the 17th or early 18th century, because the duchy was outside of the core Holy Roman Empire, the prince-electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim themselves King of Prussia beginning in 1701.
Between 1829 and 1878, the Province of East Prussia was joined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. Following Nazi Germanys defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalins insistence between the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of Poland, the capital city Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was evacuated during the war or expelled shortly thereafter in the expulsion of Germans after World War II. An estimated 300,000 died either in war time bombings raids or in the battles to defend the province. Upon the invitation of Duke Konrad I of Masovia, the Teutonic Knights took possession of Prussia in the 13th century, local Old-Prussian and Polish toponyms were gradually Germanised. Its defeat was formalised in the Second Treaty of Thorn in 1466 ending the Thirteen Years War, together with Warmia it formed the province of Royal Prussia.
Eastern Prussia remained under the Knights, but as a fief of Poland,1466 and 1525 arrangements by kings of Poland were not verified by the Holy Roman Empire as well as the previous gains of the Teutonic Knights were not verified. The Teutonic Order lost eastern Prussia when Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach converted to Lutheranism, Albert established himself as the first duke of the Duchy of Prussia and a vassal of the Polish crown by the Prussian Homage. Walter von Cronberg, the next Grand Master, was enfeoffed with the title to Prussia after the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, in 1569 the Hohenzollern prince-electors of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became co-regents with Alberts son, the feeble-minded Albert Frederick. The Administrator of Prussia, the grandmaster of the Teutonic Order Maximilian III, when Maximilian died, Alberts line died out, and the Duchy of Prussia passed to the Electors of Brandenburg, forming Brandenburg-Prussia
A corps is a military unit usually consisting of several divisions. Some military service branches are called corps, such as the Military Police Corps, Royal Logistic Corps, Quartermaster Corps, a few civilian organizations use the name corps to imply a similar service level, such as the Peace Corps. In many armies, a corps is a formation composed of two or more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the scale of combat. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is indicated in Roman numerals. II Corps was formed, with Militia units, to defend south-eastern Australia, sub-corps formations controlled Allied land forces in the remainder of Australia. I Corps headquarters was assigned control of the New Guinea campaign. In early 1945, when I Corps was assigned the task of re-taking Borneo, the Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was organized into corps and divisions.
Early in the Second World War, Canadas contribution to the British-French forces fighting the Germans was limited to a single division, after the fall of France in June 1940, a second division moved to England, coming under command of a Canadian corps headquarters. This corps was renamed I Canadian Corps as a corps headquarters was established in the UK. I Canadian Corps eventually fought in Italy, II Canadian Corps in NW Europe, after the formations were disbanded after VE Day, Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps headquarters. The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division. The French Army under Napoleon used corps-sized formations as the first formal combined-arms groupings of divisions with reasonably stable manning, Napoleon first used the Corps dArmée in 1805. The use of the Corps dArmée was an innovation that provided Napoleon with a significant battlefield advantage in the early phases of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Corps was designed to be an independent military group containing cavalry and infantry and this allowed Napoleon to mass the bulk of his forces to effect a penetration into a weak section of enemy lines without risking his own communications or flank. This innovation stimulated other European powers to adopt similar military structures, the Corps has remained an echelon of French Army organization to the modern day. As fixed military formation already in peace-time it was used almost in all European armies after Battle of Ulm in 1805, in Prussia it was introduced by Order of His Majesty from November 5,1816, in order to strengthen the readiness to war
The Workers and Peasants Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and after 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution, the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. The Red Army is credited as being the land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II. During operations on the Eastern Front, it fought 75%–80% of the German land forces deployed in the war, inflicting the vast majority of all German losses and ultimately capturing the German capital. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote, There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, at the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters,1.8 million dead,5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners and he estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million.
Therefore, the Council of Peoples Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918 and they envisioned a body formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes. All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible, in the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary. Because the Red Army was composed mainly of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations, some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army, along with some women, flooded the recruitment centres. If they were turned away they would collect scrap metal and prepare care-packages, in some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy, Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for war, Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as peoples commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars, at a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked, We have no army.
The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies and we have no power to stay the enemy, only an immediate signing of the peace treaty will save us from destruction. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledins Volunteer Army in the River Don region, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics. The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, a series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, and the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. The Whites defeated the Red Army on each front, Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked, the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchaks army in June, and the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-November the White armies were all almost completely exhausted, in January 1920, Budennys First Cavalry Army entered Rostov-on-Don. 1919 to 1923 At the wars start, the Red Army consisted of 299 infantry regiments, Civil war intensified after Lenin dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly and the Soviet government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, removing Russia from the Great War
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