Arctic naval operations of World War II
The Arctic Circle defining the midnight sun encompasses the Atlantic Ocean from the northern edge of Iceland to the Bering Strait. The area is considered part of the Battle of the Atlantic or the European Theatre of World War II. Pre-war navigation focused on fishing and the ore trade from Narvik. Soviet settlements along the coast and rivers of the Barents Sea, the Soviet Union extended the Northern Sea Route past the Taymyr Peninsula to the Bering Strait in 1935. The Winter War opened the northern flank of the front of World War II. Arctic naval presence was initially dominated by the Soviet Northern Fleet of a few destroyers with larger numbers of submarines, the success of the German invasion of Norway provided the Kriegsmarine with naval bases from which capital ships might challenge units of the Royal Navy Home Fleet. Soviet convoys hugged the coast to avoid ice while German convoys used fjords to evade Royal Navy patrols, both sides devoted continuing efforts to minelaying and minesweeping of these shallow, confined routes vulnerable to mine warfare and submarine ambushes.
German convoys were typically screened by minesweepers and submarine chasers while Soviet convoys were protected by minesweeping trawlers. A branch of the Pacific Route began carrying Lend-Lease goods through the Bering Strait to the Soviet Arctic coast in June,1942. The number of cargo ship voyages along this route was 23 in 1942,32 in 1943,34 in 1944. Total westbound tonnage through the Bering Strait was 452,393 in comparison to 3,964,231 tons of North American wartime goods sent across the Atlantic to Soviet Arctic ports. A large portion of the Arctic route tonnage was fuel for Siberian airfields on the Alaska-Siberia air route,6 September 1939, Bremen was the first of 18 German merchant ships to take refuge in Murmansk after avoiding British naval patrols in the Atlantic. 30 November 1939, The Winter War offensive against Petsamo was supported by Soviet Northern Fleet destroyers Kuibishev, Karl Liebknecht, April 1940, Operation Weserübung included an invasion of Narvik by troops embarked aboard ten Kriegsmarine destroyers.
4 May 1940, The Polish destroyer Grom was sunk off Narvik by a KG100 bomber,21 May 1940, HMS Effingham was scuttled after grounding on a shallow pinnacle off Narvik. 9 July 1940, Raider Komet sailed north from Bergen and waited near Novaya Zemlya until 13 August 1940 for ice conditions to allow passage through the Matochkin Strait into the Kara Sea. Komet proceeded east with the assistance of three Soviet icebreakers to enter the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait on 5 September 1940, Soviet submarine Shch-423 made a similar trip from Murmansk to Vladivostok from 5 August to 17 October. 25 July 1940, Admiral Hipper sailed for a two-week Arctic patrol,25 August 1940, HMS Norfolk and HMAS Australia sailed for a five-day patrol to Bear Island. 16 October 1940, HMS Furious launched an airstrike against the Tromsø seaplane base,4 March 1941, HMS Edinburgh and Nigeria covered the Operation Claymore raid on Lofoten
Siege of Leningrad
The siege started on 8 September 1941, when the last road to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, Leningrads capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North. By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output and it has been reported Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the citys Hotel Astoria. According to a sent to Army Group North on 29 September, After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. Following the citys encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot, in this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population.
Hitlers ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns, Army Group North under Feldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south, thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was merely defensive. The Germans planned on lack of food being their weapon against the citizens. On 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised First response groups of civilians, in the next days, Leningrads civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk, Pulkovo. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Kolpino, in the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrads northern suburbs since the 1930s, and was now returned to service.
Even the guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad, the 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August. The Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officers corpse, after the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepners 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army — despite some 350,000 men lagging behind — forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line. This had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, the Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga
Eastern Front (World War II)
The battles on the Eastern Front constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, exposure and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, of the estimated 70 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, 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 and it resulted in the destruction of the Third Reich, the partition of Germany for nearly half a century and the rise of the Soviet Union as a military and industrial superpower. The two principal belligerent powers were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in action in the Eastern Front, the United Kingdom. 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 may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.
Despite their ideological antipathy, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union shared a dislike for the outcome of World War I. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed in August 1939 was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe to the pre–World War I status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union, Estonia and Lithuania would return to Soviet control, while Poland and Romania would be divided. I need the Ukraine so that they cant starve us out, the two powers invaded and partitioned Poland in 1939. The annexations were never recognized by most Western states, the annexed Romanian territory was divided between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics. Adolf Hitler had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf for the necessity of Lebensraum, acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, Wehrmacht officers told their troops to target people who were described as Jewish Bolshevik subhumans, the Mongol hordes, the Asiatic flood and the red beast.
The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, Hitler referred to the war in unique terms, calling it a war of annihilation which was both an ideological and racial war. In addition, the Nazis sought to wipe out the large Jewish population of Central, after Germanys initial success at the Battle of Kiev in 1941, Hitler saw the Soviet Union as militarily weak and ripe for immediate conquest. On 3 October 1941, he announced, We have only to kick in the door, Germany expected another short Blitzkrieg and made no serious preparations for prolonged warfare. Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union underwent massive industrialization and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, Stalins central tenet, Socialism in one country, manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Plans from 1929 onwards. It served as a testing ground for both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to experiment with equipment and tactics that they would employ on a wider scale in the Second World War
Battles of Rzhev
The operations took place in the general area of Rzhev and Vyazma against German forces. As a result, a salient was formed along the front line in the direction of the capital and it was strategically important for the German Army Group Centre due to the threat it posed to Moscow, and was therefore heavily fortified and strongly defended. The intent was for the 22nd Army, 29th Army and 39th Armies supported by the 11th Cavalry Corps to attack West of Rzhev, and penetrate deep into the western flank of Army Group Centres 9th Army. This was achieved in January, and by the end of the month the cavalry corps found itself 110 km in the depth of the German flank. To eliminate this threat to the rear of the Army Group Centres 9th Army, the cutting of a major highway to Rzhev by the cavalry signalled the commencement of the Toropets–Kholm Offensive. The offensive was conducted in late 1942 and this offensive was conducted by the Western Front against the Wehrmachts 4th Panzer Army and the 4th Army.
A Soviet airborne operation, conducted by the 4th Airborne Corps in seven separate landing zones, five of them intended to cut major road, in the aftermath of the Soviet winter counteroffensive of 1941–42, substantial Soviet forces remained in the rear of the German Ninth Army. These forces maintained a hold on the forested swamp region between Rzhev and Bely. On July 2,1942, Ninth Army under General Model launched Operation Seydlitz to clear the Soviet forces out, the Germans first blocked the natural breakout route through the Obsha valley and split the Soviet forces into two isolated pockets. The battle lasted eleven days and ended with the elimination of the encircled Soviet forces, the next Rzhev-Sychyovka Offensive codenamed Operation Mars. An NKVD double agent known as Heine provided information about the offensive to the OKH as part of the plan to divert German forces from any relief of those trapped at Stalingrad. German forces in the salient were eventually withdrawn by Hitler during Operation Büffel to provide greater force for the German offensive operation at Kursk, fighting in the area remained mostly static for 14 months.
Losses and setbacks elsewhere along the front finally compelled the Germans to abandon the salient in order to free up reserves for the front as a whole, defending the salient required 29 divisions. Its abandonment freed up 22 of those divisions and created a reserve which allowed the Germans to stabilize the front. The retreat of the Germans in Operation Büffel was tactically and militarily successful, the Soviet Army paid a high price for their defeat at Rzhev, but with the Germans were forced to withdraw from an important bridgehead which enabled the Germans to threaten Moscow. Losses for the series of operations around the Rzhev salient from 1941 to 1943 are difficult to calculate. These operations cover a series of battles and defensive operations over a wide area involving many formations on both sides. For the whole series of Rzhev battles, the numbers are not clear yet, since the mobilized manpower of both sides were enormous and the fighting is violent, casualties should be very high
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
The Continuation War consisted of hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944. The Continuation War began shortly after the end of the Winter War, in the Soviet Union, the war was considered part of the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its war efforts on the Eastern Front. Acts of war between the Soviet Union and Finland recommenced on 22 June 1941, the day Germany launched its invasion of the Soviet Union, open warfare began with a Soviet air offensive on 25 June. Subsequent Finnish operations undid its post-Winter War concessions to the Soviet Union on the Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia, on the Karelian Isthmus, the Finns halted their offensive 30 km from Leningrad, at the pre-World War II border between the Soviet Union and Finland. Finnish forces did not participate in the siege of Leningrad directly, in 1944, Soviet air forces conducted air raids on Helsinki and other major Finnish cities. A ceasefire ended hostilities on 5 September and was followed by the Moscow Armistice on 19 September, the 1947 Paris peace treaty concluded the war formally.
Finland ceded Pechengsky District to the Soviets, leased Porkkala peninsula to them, shortly afterward, Germany invaded Poland and as a result the United Kingdom and France declared war against Germany. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on 17 September, Moscow demanded that the Baltic states allow the establishment of Soviet military bases and the stationing of troops on their soil. The Baltic governments accepted these ultimatums, signing corresponding agreements in September and October 1939, the Finnish government refused, and the Red Army attacked Finland on 30 November 1939. Condemnation of the Soviets by the League of Nations and by all over the world had no effect on Soviet policy. International help for Finland was planned, but very little actual help materialized, the Moscow Peace Treaty, which was signed on 12 March 1940, ended the Winter War. By the terms of the treaty, Finland lost one eleventh of its national territory, Finland had avoided having the Soviet Union annex the whole country.
Finlands foreign policy had been based on multilateral guarantees for support from the League of Nations, Finnish public opinion favored the reconquest of Finnish Karelia. Finlands government declared the countrys defense to be its first priority, Finland purchased and received donations of war material during and immediately after the Winter War. On Finlands southern frontier the Soviet Union had acquired a base in Hanko near the capital Helsinki. Finland had to resettle some 420,000 evacuees from the lost territories, to ensure the supply of food, it was necessary to clear new land for the evacuees to cultivate. This was facilitated by the Rapid Settlement Act, the Finnish leadership wanted to preserve the spirit of unanimity that was commonly felt throughout the country during the Winter War
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942, the Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitlers attack on Moscow, capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the largest Soviet city. Moscow was one of the military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion plan, called for the capture of Moscow within four months, the German Army Group North moved towards Leningrad, Army Group South took control of Ukraine, and Army Group Center advanced towards Moscow. By July 1941, Army Group Center crossed the Dnieper River, in August 1941, German forces captured Smolensk, an important stronghold on the road to Moscow. At this stage, although Moscow was vulnerable, an offensive against the city would have exposed the German flanks. In part to address these risks, in part to attempt to secure Ukraines food and mineral resources, Hitler ordered the attack to turn north and south and eliminate Soviet forces at Leningrad and this delayed the German advance on Moscow.
When that advance resumed on 2 October 1941, German forces had been weakened, for Hitler, the Soviet capital was secondary, and he believed the only way to bring the Soviet Union to its knees was to defeat it economically. He felt this could be accomplished by seizing the economic resources of Ukraine east of Kiev, when Walther von Brauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, supported a direct thrust to Moscow, he was told that only ossified brains could think of such an idea. Franz Halder, head of the Army General Staff, was convinced that a drive to seize Moscow would be victorious after the German Army inflicted enough damage on the Soviet forces. This view was shared by most within the German high command, but Hitler overruled his generals in favor of pocketing the Soviet forces around Kiev in the south, followed by the seizure of Ukraine. The move was successful, resulting in the loss of 660,000 Red Army personnel by 26 September, with the end of summer, Hitler redirected his attention to Moscow and assigned Army Group Center to this task.
The forces committed to Operation Typhoon included three infantry armies supported by three Panzer Groups and by the Luftwaffes Luftflotte 2, up to two million German troops were committed to the operation, along with 1,000 tanks and 14,000 guns. German aerial strength, had severely reduced over the summers campaign. Luftflotte 2 had only 549 serviceable machines, including 158 medium and dive-bombers and 172 fighters, the attack relied on standard blitzkrieg tactics, using Panzer groups rushing deep into Soviet formations and executing double-pincer movements, pocketing Red Army divisions and destroying them. Facing the Wehrmacht were three Soviet fronts forming a line between the cities of Vyazma and Bryansk, which barred the way to Moscow. The armies comprising these fronts had involved in heavy fighting. Still, it was a formidable concentration consisting of 1,250,000 men,1,000 tanks and 7,600 guns, the Soviet Air Force had suffered appalling losses of some 7,500 or 21,200 aircraft
The Baltic states cooperate on a regional level in several intergovernmental organizations. While the native populations of Latvia and Lithuania are known as Baltic people, another Baltic identity, Baltic German, began to develop during the Middle Ages after the Livonian Crusade. After the collapse of Livonia, parts of Latvia and Estonia came under influence of the Commonwealth and this lasted until the 18th century, when the lands of all three modern countries were gradually absorbed into the Russian Empire. The Baltic states gained independence after World War I, but were occupied by the Soviet Union during World War II, all three countries are members of the European Union, NATO and the Eurozone. They are classified as high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain high Human Development Index and Latvia are members of the OECD, while Lithuania is a prospective candidate. The term Baltic stems from the name of the Baltic Sea – a hydronym dating back to the 11th century, although there are several theories about its origin, most ultimately trace it to Indo-European root *bhel meaning white, fair.
This meaning is retained in modern Baltic languages, where baltas, however the modern names of the region and the sea, that originate from this root, were not used in either of the two languages prior to the 19th century. In English Ost is East, and in fact, the Baltic Sea mostly lies to the east of Germany, Norway, in the 13th century pagan Baltic and Finnic peoples in the region became a target of the Northern Crusades. In the aftermath of the Livonian crusade, a crusader state officially named Terra Mariana and it was divided into four autonomous bishoprics and lands of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. After the Brothers of the Sword suffered defeat at the Battle of Saule, Northern Estonia initially became a Danish dominion, but it was purchased by the Teutonic Order in the mid-14th century. The Lithuanians were targeted by the crusaders, however they were able to resist and it allied with the Kingdom of Poland. After the Union of Krewo in 1385 created a union between the two countries, they became ever more closely integrated and finally merged into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.
After victory in the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War, the Polish–Lithuanian union became a political power in the region. In 1558 Livonia was attacked by the Tsardom of Russia and the Livonian war broke out, the rulers of different regions within Livonia sought to ally with foreign powers, which resulted in Polish–Lithuanian and Danish involvement. In the aftermath of conflicts of the 17th century, much of the Duchy of Livonia. These newly acquired Swedish territories, as well as Ingria and Kexholm, at the beginning of the 18th century the Swedish Empire was attacked by a coalition of several European powers in the Great Northern War. Among these powers was Russia, seeking to restore its access to the Baltic Sea, during the course of the war it conquered all of the Swedish provinces on the Eastern Baltic coast. This acquisition was legalized by the Treaty of Nystad in which the Baltic Dominions were ceded to Russia, under Russian rule these territories came to be known as Ostsee Governorates
Defense of Brest Fortress
The defence of Brest Fortress took place 22–29 June 1941. The Brest Fortress, defended by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht, held out longer than expected and, after the Second World War had finished, in 1965 the fortress received the title of Hero Fortress for the 1941 defense. The area around the nineteenth-century Brest Fortress was the site of the 1939 Battle of Brześć Litewski, according to the terms of the 1939 German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact the territory around Brest as well as 52% of the Poland was assigned to the Soviet Union. Thus, in the summer of 1941, the Germans had to capture the fortress yet again - this time from the Soviets, the Germans planned to seize Brest and the Brest Fortress which was located in the path of Army Group Centre during the first day of Operation Barbarossa. The fortress and the city controlled the crossings over the Bug River, the garrison in the fortress comprised approximately 9,000 Soviet soldiers, including regular soldiers, border guards and NKVD operatives.
There were 300 families of the servicemen inside the fortress as well, the 45th Infantry Division had the task to take the fortress during the first day. For the first five minutes of the shelling it was supported by parts of the artillery of the 31st, the fortress had no warning when the Axis invaded on 22 June 1941, and became the site of the first major fighting between Soviet forces and the Wehrmacht. The attack started with a 29-minute shelling with artillery and Nebelwerfers by the German Wehrmacht, the initial artillery fire took the unprepared fortress by surprise, inflicting heavy material and personnel casualties. Some managed to escape the fortress, most were trapped inside by the encircling German forces, heavy fighting continued two more days. In the evening of June 24,1941, some 368 Germans were dead, on June 25 and June 26,1941, local fighting continued mainly in the citadel. Till the evening of June 26,1941, most of the northern Kobrin fortification, the Germans deployed various powerful guns, rocket mortars 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 and resorted to flame throwers.
The civilians inside the fortress tended the wounded, reloaded the machine-gun discs and belts with cartridges, children brought ammunition and food supplies from half-destroyed supply depots, scavenged weapons and watched enemy movements. On 26 June small Soviet forces tried to break out from the siege but were unsuccessful, the same day Zubachyov and Fomin were captured. Zubachyov was sent to a POW camp in Hammelburg where he died along with about 3.2 million of his countrymen, Yefim Fomin was executed on spot for being a commissar and a Jew. R. Gschöpf wrote, The total German losses in the battle for the Brest fortress were about 629 killed, the Soviet losses numbered about 6,800 POWs and about 2,000 dead. The magnitude of losses can be weighed by the fact that total German losses on the Eastern Front up to 30 June 1941 amounted to 8,886 killed. The fighting at Brest therefore accounted for over 5 percent of all German fatalities, after eight days of fierce fighting the Germans had captured the whole fortress.
Because of the high German losses the German High Command demanded General Fritz Schlieper to present a report regarding combat at Brest 22–29 June 1941
Battle of the Dnieper
The Battle of the Dnieper was a military campaign that took place in 1943 on the Eastern Front of World War II. It was one of the largest operations in World War II, Kiev was liberated in the Battle of Kiev. Following the Battle of Kursk, the Wehrmachts Heer and supporting Luftwaffe forces in the southern Soviet Union were on the defensive in the southern Ukraine, on the Soviet side, Joseph Stalin was determined to launch a major offensive in Ukraine. The main thrust of the offensive was in a direction, the northern flank being largely stabilized. The operation begun on 26 August 1943, divisions started to move on a 1, 400-kilometer front that stretched between Smolensk and the Sea of Azov. Overall, the operation would be executed by 36 Combined Arms, four Tank,2,650,000 personnel were brought into the ranks for this massive operation. The operation would use 51,000 guns,2,400 tanks and 2,850 planes, the Dnieper is the third largest river in Europe, second only to the Volga and the Danube. In its lower part, its width can reach three kilometres, and being dammed in several places made it even larger.
Moreover, its western shore —the one still to be retaken— was much higher and steeper than the eastern, in addition, the opposite shore was transformed into a vast complex of defenses and fortifications held by the Wehrmacht. Faced with such a situation, the Soviet commanders had two options and this option were supported by Marshal Zhukov and Deputy Chief of Staff A. I. Antonov, who considered the substantial losses after the battle of Kursk. The second option would be to stage an assault without waiting. This option left no time for the German defenders. This second option was backed by I. V, Stalin due to the concern that the German scorched earth policy might devastate this region if the Red Army did not advance fast enough. STAVKA paid attention to the possible scorched earth activities of German forces with a view to preventing them by a rapid advance. The assault was staged on a 300-kilometer front almost simultaneously, all available means of transport were to be used to transport the attackers to the opposite shore, including small fishing boats and improvised rafts of barrels and trees.
The preparation of the equipment was further complicated by the German scorched earth strategy with the total destruction of all boats. The crucial issue would obviously be heavy equipment, without it, the bridgeheads would not stand for long