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
Battle of Kiev (1941)
The First Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. This encirclement is considered the largest encirclement in the history of warfare, the operation ran from 7 August to 26 September 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. In Soviet military history, it is referred to as the Kiev Strategic Defensive Operation, kirponos was trapped behind German lines and killed while trying to break out. The battle was a defeat for the Red Army, exceeding even the Battle of Białystok–Minsk of June–July 1941. The encirclement trapped 452,700 soldiers,2,642 guns and mortars and 64 tanks, the Southwestern Front suffered 700,544 casualties, including 616,304 killed, captured or missing during the battle. The 5th, 37th, 26th, 21st and the 38th armies, consisting of 43 divisions, were almost annihilated, like the Western Front before it, the Southwestern Front had to be recreated almost from scratch.
After the rapid progress of Army Group Centre through the sector of the Eastern front. A substantial Soviet force, nearly the entire Southwestern Front, positioned in, on 3 August, Hitler temporarily cancelled the drive on Moscow in favor of driving south and attacking Kiev in Ukraine. However, on 12 August 1941, Supplement to Directive No, the three Panzer Groups, under the control of Army Group Center, will lead the advance on Moscow. On 18 August, OKH submitted a survey to Hitler regarding the continuation of operations in the East. The paper made the case for the drive to Moscow, arguing again that Army Groups North and South were strong enough to accomplish their objectives without any assistance from Army Group Center. Pointing out that there was enough time left before winter to conduct a single decisive operation against Moscow. On 20 August, Hitler rejected the proposal based on the idea that the most important objective was to deprive the Soviets of their industrial areas, on 21 August Jodl of OKW issued a directive, which summarized Hitlers instructions, to Brauchitsch commander of the Army.
The paper reiterated that the capture of Moscow before the onset of winter was not a primary objective, Hitler referred to the Soviet forces in the salient collectively as the Russian 5th Army. Engel in his diary for 21 August 1941, simply summarized it as, Halder offered his own resignation and advised Brauchitsch to do the same. However, Brauchitsch declined, stating Hitler would not accept the gesture, Halder withdrew his offer of resignation. On 23 August, Halder convened with Bock and Guderian in Borisov, during a meeting between Guderian and Hitler, with neither Halder nor Brauchitsch present, Hitler allowed Guderian to make the case for driving on to Moscow, and rejected his argument. In point of fact Hitler had already issued the orders for the shift of Guderians panzer group to the south, Guderian returned to his panzer group and began the southern thrust in an effort to encircle the Soviet forces in the salient
A much larger pocket was simultaneously surrounded in Demyansk, about 100 km to the northeast. These were the results of German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow, at the small Kholm pocket,5,500 German soldiers held it for 105 days. The pocket was supplied by air, but was too small for planes to land, supplies had to be dropped in, among the airdropped supplies were 35 of the first 50 prototype MKb 42 rifles. The German units in the pocket were mainly part of, 218th Infantry Division Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65 Infanterie-Regiment 553 Parts of the 123rd Infantry Division Jagdkommando 8 III, bataillon of the Luftwaffenfeldregiment 1 German forces made three attempts to relieve the pocket, in January and May 1942. While the first two failed the third one was successful, with the German forces in the pocket reduced in number to 1,200 by then. In July 1942, the Cholm Shield was awarded to the German defenders of the pocket, upon the suggestion of Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, Scherer was personally awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler for the command of the defense of Kholm.
Kholm was eventually liberated by the Red Army on 21 February 1944, the unit was found to have taken part in a minimum of 5,000 executions and a large number of deportations to concentration camps. Among them was the hanging of a girl in Kholm during the siege. Germany at War,400 Years of Military History, the Second World War in the Air, The Story of Air Combat in Every Theatre of World War Two. Media related to Battle of Kholm at Wikimedia Commons
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
Second Battle of Kharkov
Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets or the Barvenkovo bulge which was one of the Soviet offensives staging areas. On 12 May 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counter-offensive, after initial promising signs, the offensive was stopped by German counterattacks. The operation caused almost 300,000 Soviet casualties compared to just 20,000 for the Germans, by late February 1942, the Soviet winter counter-offensive, had pushed German forces from Moscow on a broad front and ended in mutual exhaustion. Stalin was convinced that the Germans were finished and would collapse by the spring or summer 1942, Stalin decided to exploit this perceived weakness on the Eastern Front by launching a new offensive in the spring. Vasilevsky wrote Yes, we were hoping for, but the reality was more harsh than that, despite the caution urged by his generals, Stalin decided to try to keep the German forces off-balance through local offensives.
Although Stavka believed that the Germans had been defeated before Moscow, most generals and front commanders believed that the principal effort would be a German offensive towards Moscow. Stalin had agreed to prepare the Red Army for a strategic defence but gave orders for the planning of seven local offensives. One area was Kharkov, where action was ordered for March. The forces of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko and Lieutenant General Kirill Moskalenko penetrated German positions along the northern Donets River, fighting continued into April, with Moskalenko crossing the river and establishing a tenuous bridgehead at Izium. In the south, the Soviet 6th Army had limited success defending against German forces, catching the attention of Stalin, it set the pace for the prelude to the eventual offensive intended to reach Pavlohrad and Sinelnikovo and eventually Kharkov and Poltava. By 15 March, Soviet commanders introduced preliminary plans for an offensive towards Kharkov, the build-up of Soviet forces in the region of Barvenkovo and Vovchansk continued well into the beginning of May.
By 11 May 1942, the Red Army was able to allocate six armies under two fronts, amongst other units, the Soviet Southwestern Front had the 21st Army, 28th Army, 38th Army and the 6th Army. By 11 May, the 21st Tank Corps had been moved into the region with the 23rd Tank Corps, there were three independent rifle divisions and a rifle regiment from the 270th Rifle Division, concentrated in the area, supported by the 2nd Cavalry Corps in Bogdanovka. The Soviet Southern Front had the 57th and 9th armies, along with thirty rifle divisions, a brigade and the 24th Tank Corps. At its height, the Southern Front could operate eleven guns or mortars per kilometer of front, forces regrouping in the sector ran into the rasputitsa, which turned much of the soil into mud. This caused severe delays in the preparations and made reinforcing the Southern and Southwestern Front take longer than expected, senior Soviet representatives criticized the front commanders for poor management of forces, an inability to stage offensives and for their armchair generalship.
Because the regrouping was done so haphazardly, the Germans received some warning of Soviet preparations, the commander of the 38th Army, placed the blame on the fact that the fronts did not plan in advance to regroup and showed a poor display of front management. The primary Soviet leader was Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, a veteran of World War I, Timoshenko had achieved some success at the Battle of Smolensk in 1941 but was eventually defeated
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
Turda is a city and Municipality in Cluj County, situated on the Arieş River. There is evidence of settlement in the area dating to the Middle Paleolithic. The Dacians established a town that Ptolemy in his Geography calls Patreuissa, which is probably a corruption of Patavissa or Potaissa, the latter being more common. It was conquered by the Romans, who kept the name Potaissa, the name Potaissa is first recorded on a Roman milliarium discovered in 1758 in the nearby Aiton commune. It indicates the distance of 10,000 feet to Potaissa and this is the first epigraphical attestation of the settlements of Potaissa and Napoca in Roman Dacia. The complete inscription is, Imp/ Caesar Nerva/ Traianus Aug/ Germ Dacicus/ pontif maxim/ pot XII cos V/ imp VI p p fecit/ per coh I Fl Vlp/ Hisp mil c R eq/ a Potaissa Napo/cam / m p X. It was recorded in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, vol. III and this milliarium is an attestation of the road known to be built by Cohors I Hispanorum miliaria. The castrum established was named Potaissa too and became a municipium, Potaissa was the basecamp of the Legio V Macedonica from 166 to 274.
The Potaissa salt mines were worked in the area since prehistoric times, after the Hungarian conquest, the Turda salt mines were first mentioned in 1075. They were closed in 1932 but have recently been reopened for tourism, saxons settled in the area in the 11th century. The town was destroyed during the Tartar invasion in 1241–1242, andrew III of Hungary gave royal privileges to the settlement. These privileges were confirmed by the Angevins of Hungary. The Hungarian Diet was held here in 1467, by Matthias Corvinus, later, in the 16th century, Turda was often the residence of the Transylvanian Diet, too. The 1558 Diet of Turda declared free practice of both the Catholic and Lutheran religions and this Edict of Turda is the first attempt at legislating general religious freedom in Christian Europe. In 1609 Gabriel Báthori granted new privileges to Turda and these were confirmed by Gabriel Bethlen. In the battle of Turda, Ahmed Pasha defeated George II Rákóczi in 1659, in 1918, Transylvania united with Romania, and Turda with it.
In 1944, the Battle of Turda took place here, between German and Hungarian forces on one side and Soviet and Romanian forces on the other and it was the largest battle fought in Transylvania during World War II. Turda has a climate, characterised by warm dry summers
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy which existed between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania. As such, it is distinct from the Romanian Old Kingdom. From 1859 to 1877, Romania evolved from a union of two vassal principalities under a single prince to a full-fledged independent kingdom with a Hohenzollern monarchy. During 1918-20, at the end of World War I, Eastern Moldavia, in 1947 King Michael was compelled to abdicate and a socialist republic ruled by the Romanian Communist Party replaced the monarchy. The 1859 ascendancy of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Wallachia under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire united an identifiably Romanian nation under a single ruler. On 5 February 1862 the two principalities were united to form the Principality of Romania, with Bucharest as its capital. On 23 February 1866 a so-called Monstrous coalition, composed of Conservatives and radical Liberals, the German prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as Prince of Romania, in a move to assure German backing to unity and future independence.
He immediately adopted the Romanian spelling of his name, Carol, on 15 March 1881, as an assertion of full sovereignty, the Romanian parliament raised the country to the status of a kingdom, and Carol was crowned as king on 10 May. Abstaining from the Initial Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Romania entered the Second Balkan War in June 1913 against the Tsardom of Bulgaria,330,000 Romanian troops moved across the Danube and into Bulgaria. One army occupied Southern Dobrudja and another moved into northern Bulgaria to threaten Sofia, Romania thus acquired the ethnically-mixed territory of Southern Dobrudja, which it had desired for years. In 1916 Romania entered World War I on the Entente side, the term came into use after World War I, when the Old Kingdom was opposed to Greater Romania, which included Transylvania, Banat and Bukovina. Nowadays, the term mainly has a historical relevance, and is used as a common term for all regions in Romania included in both the Old Kingdom and present-day borders.
Romania delayed in entering World War I, but ultimately declared war on the Central Powers in 1916, War with the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 resulted in the occupation of Budapest by Romanian troops and the end of Béla Kuns Bolshevik regime. At the Paris Peace Conference, Romania received territories of Transylvania, part of Banat, thus, Romania in 1920 was more than twice the size it had been in 1914. Although the country was satisfied and had no territorial claims, it aroused the enmity of Bulgaria, and especially Hungary. Greater Romania now encompassed a significant minority population, especially of Hungarians, by contrast, the prewar Romanian state had only one real minority, but nonetheless anti-Semitism was widespread. Transylvania had significant Hungarian and German population, and with a contemptuous attitude towards Romanians. Both groups were excluded from politics as the postwar Romanian regime passed an edict stating that all personnel employed by the state had to speak Romanian
Battle of Smolensk (1941)
The First Battle of Smolensk was a battle during the opening stage of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, in World War II. It took place around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km west of Moscow, the Wehrmacht had advanced 500 km into the USSR in the 18 days after the invasion on 22 June 1941. During the battle the German army encountered unexpected resistance, leading to a delay in their advance on Moscow. Three Soviet armies were encircled and destroyed just to the south of Smolensk, on 22 June 1941, the Axis nations invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. At first, the met with spectacular success, as the surprised Soviet troops were not able to offer coordinated resistance. After three weeks of fighting, the Germans had reached the Dvina and Dnieper rivers and planned for a resumption of the offensive, the main attack aimed at Moscow, was carried out by Army Group Centre. Its next target on the way to the Soviet capital was the town of Smolensk, the German plan called for the 2nd Panzer Group to cross the Dnieper, closing on Smolensk from the south, while the 3rd Panzer Group was to encircle the town from the north.
After their initial defeats, the Red Army began to recover and took measures to ensure a more determined resistance, Stalin placed Field Marshal Semyon Timoshenko in command and transferred five armies out of the strategic reserve to Timoshenko. These armies had to conduct counter-offensives to blunt the German drive, the German high command was not aware of the Soviet build-up until they encountered them on the battlefield. Facing the Germans along the Dnieper and Dvina rivers were stretches of the Stalin Line fortifications, the defenders were the 13th Army of the Western Front and the 20th Army, 21st Army and the 22nd Army of the Soviet Supreme Command Reserve. The 19th Army, was forming up at Vitebsk, while the 16th Army was arriving at Smolensk, the result was a disaster, as the offensive ran directly into the anti-tank defenses of the German 7th Panzer Division and the two Soviet mechanized corps were virtually wiped out. On 10 July, Guderians 2nd Panzer Group began an attack over the Dnieper, his forces overran the weak 13th Army and by 13 July, Guderian had passed Mogilev.
His spearhead unit, the 29th Motorised Division, was already within 18 km of Smolensk, the 3rd Panzer Group had attacked, with the 20th Panzer Division establishing a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dvina river, threatening Vitebsk. As both German panzer groups drove east, the 16th, 19th and 20th armies faced the prospect of encirclement around Smolensk, from 11 July, the Soviets tried a series of concerted counter-attacks. The Soviet 19th Army and 20th Army struck at Vitebsk, while the 21st, several other Soviet armies attempted to counter-attack in the sectors of the German Army Group North and Army Group South. This effort was part of an attempt to implement the Soviet prewar general defense plan. The Soviet attacks managed to slow the Germans but the results were so marginal that the Germans barely noticed them as a large coordinated defensive effort, Hoths 3rd Panzer Group drove north and east, parallel to Guderians forces, taking Polotsk and Vitebsk. The 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Division reached the area east of Smolensk at Yartsevo on July 15 and this advanced bridgehead became the center of the Yelnya Offensive, one of the first big coordinated Soviet counter-offensives of the war