The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a union of national republics, but its government. The Soviet Union had its roots in the October Revolution of 1917 and this established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and started the Russian Civil War between the revolutionary Reds and the counter-revolutionary Whites. In 1922, the communists were victorious, forming the Soviet Union with the unification of the Russian, Ukrainian, following Lenins death in 1924, a collective leadership and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin suppressed all opposition to his rule, committed the state ideology to Marxism–Leninism. As a result, the country underwent a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization which laid the foundation for its victory in World War II and postwar dominance of Eastern Europe. Shortly before World War II, Stalin signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, in June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theater of war in history.
Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at battles such as Stalingrad. Soviet forces eventually captured Berlin in 1945, the territory overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War emerged by 1947 as the Soviet bloc confronted the Western states that united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. Following Stalins death in 1953, a period of political and economic liberalization, known as de-Stalinization and Khrushchevs Thaw, the country developed rapidly, as millions of peasants were moved into industrialized cities. The USSR took a lead in the Space Race with Sputnik 1, the first ever satellite, and Vostok 1. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, the war drained economic resources and was matched by an escalation of American military aid to Mujahideen fighters. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost.
The goal was to preserve the Communist Party while reversing the economic stagnation, the Cold War ended during his tenure, and in 1989 Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist regimes. This led to the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements inside the USSR as well, in August 1991, a coup détat was attempted by Communist Party hardliners. It failed, with Russian President Boris Yeltsin playing a role in facing down the coup. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the twelve constituent republics emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union as independent post-Soviet states
40th Army (Soviet Union)
The Army became the core for the Soviet occupational force in Afghanistan in 1980s, officially named as the limited contingent of Soviet forces in Afghanistan. By 25 August 1941 the 135th and 293rd Rifle Divisions, 2nd Airborne Corps, 10th Tank Division, and 5th Anti-Tank Brigade had been assembled to form the force. As part of the Southwestern Front, it took part in the Battle of Kiev, where the Army was badly shattered. By the time of the main German offensive against Moscow at the end of September, 40th Army began a slow and steady retreat to the east. By 3 November 40th Army had been driven from Kursk, the advance of 40th Army was less rapid. 40th Army retook Tim and advanced to within 30 kilometres of Kursk before being stopped by determined German resistance in mid-January, thereafter the frontline stabilised west of Tim through the rest of the winter and through the spring. On 3 April 40th Army and its sector of the frontline was assigned to the command of Bryansk Front, on 12 May 1942 Southwestern Front launched a major offensive to retake Kharkov by an encirclement from north and south.
At the same time Bryansk Front was preparing an offensive of its own to retake Orel, this hurriedly prepared offensive by 40th Army in the second half of May made little progress. In June 1942, Operation Blau saw Hoths Fourth Panzer Army thrust in full force against 40th Army, the 40th Army fell back from the Kastornoye area back to Voronezh, alongside the 4th, 17th, and 24th Tank Corps. In response, the STAVKA hastened to establish the new Voronezh Front, during July, 40th Army, subordinated to Voronezh Front, was assigned to defend the river Don along the Liski - Pavlovsk sector, positions that it held throughout the remainder of 1942. On 12 January 1943 40th Army began offensive operations against the flank of the Hungarian Second Army north of Liski. This offensive was coordinated with an attack by a Soviet tank army further south to surround Axis forces on the Liski - Novaya Kalitva sector of the Don front, by 18 January most of the Hungarian army and an Italian corps had been surrounded east of Alekseyevka.
Having barely completed this operation, on 2 February 40th Army was launched into an offensive on the Kharkov axis to the southwest and it took Novy Oskol on 5 February and reached Belgorod four days later. These defensive positions, which were to part of the southern face of the Kursk Salient, remained largely unchanged through April, May. In March 1943 6th Pontoon Bridge Brigade joined the army, on 5 July 1943 Germanys last strategic offensive on the Eastern Front opened with attacks on the northern and southern shoulders of the Kursk Salient. The objective was to envelop and destroy the defending Central and Voronezh Fronts north and south of Kursk, 40th Army transferred a tank brigade to 38th Army at the same time. After the battle, it was involved in the crossing of the Dnepr in September 1943 in conjunction with airborne operations and it fought in the Battle of Debrecen, at which, due to its low priority, it only had five divisions assigned. 40th Army was disbanded in July 1945, the Army was re-created on December 16,1979 in the Turkestan Military District on the directive of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces
Case Blue, renamed Operation Braunschweig, was the German Armed Forces name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942. Initially, the offensive saw gains, with an advance into the Caucasus capturing large areas of land, the Red Army defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn. This defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus, only the city of Kursk and the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops. On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht had launched Operation Barbarossa with the intention of defeating the Soviets in a Blitzkrieg lasting only months, the Axis offensive had met with initial success and the Red Army had suffered some major defeats before halting the Axis units at Moscow. Although the Germans had captured vast areas of land and important industrial centers, in the winter of 1941–42 the Soviets struck back in a series of successful counteroffensives, pushing back the German threat to Moscow.
Despite these setbacks, Hitler wanted a solution, for which he required the oil resources of the Caucasus. By February 1942 the German Army High Command had begun to develop plans for a campaign to the aborted Barbarossa offensive – with the Caucasus as its principal objective. On 5 April 1942, Hitler laid out the elements of the now known as Case Blue in Führer Directive No.41. The main focus was to be at the capture of Caucasus region, the Caucasus, a large, culturally diverse region traversed by its eponymous mountains, is bounded by the Black Sea to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east. South of the lay the densely populated region of Transcaucasia, comprising Georgia, Azerbaijan. This heavily industrialized and densely populated area contained some of the largest oilfields in the world, the capital of Azerbaijan, was one of the richest, producing 80 percent of the Soviet Unions oil—about 24 million tons in 1942 alone. The Caucasus possessed plentiful coal and peat, as well as nonferrous, manganese deposits at Chiaturi, in Transcaucasia, formed the richest single source in the world, yielding 1.5 million tons of manganese ore annually, half of the Soviet Unions total production.
The Kuban region of the Caucasus produced large amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds and these resources were of immense importance to Hitler and the German war effort. Of the three tons of oil Germany consumed per year,85 percent was imported, mainly from the United States, Venezuela. An indication of German reliance on Romania is evident from its oil consumption, in 1938, in late 1941, the Romanians warned Hitler that their stocks were exhausted and they were unable to meet German demands. Whereas in 1941 most units fought on the central front supporting Army Group Centre,1,610 aircraft, initially commanded by Löhr, on 20 July 1942, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen took command of Luftflotte 4. Blau II, Sixth Army, commanded by Friedrich Paulus, would attack from Kharkiv and move in parallel with Fourth Panzer Army, to reach the Volga at Stalingrad. Blau III, First Panzer Army would strike south towards the lower Don River, with Seventeenth Army on the western flank, the strategic objectives of the operation were the oilfields at Maykop and Baku
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
Nazi Germany is the common English name for the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Under Hitlers rule, Germany was transformed into a fascist state in which the Nazi Party took totalitarian control over all aspects of life. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943, the period is known under the names the Third Reich and the National Socialist Period. The Nazi regime came to an end after the Allied Powers defeated Germany in May 1945, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933. The Nazi Party began to eliminate all opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the powers and offices of the Chancellery, a national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitlers person, and his word became above all laws, the government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitlers favour.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending, extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen. The return to economic stability boosted the regimes popularity, especially antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime. The Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the purest branch of the Aryan race, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were murdered in the Holocaust. Opposition to Hitlers rule was ruthlessly suppressed, members of the liberal and communist opposition were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. The Christian churches were oppressed, with many leaders imprisoned, education focused on racial biology, population policy, and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased the Third Reich on the international stage.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. Beginning in the late 1930s, Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive territorial demands and it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Hitler made a pact with Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September 1939. In alliance with Italy and smaller Axis powers, Germany conquered most of Europe by 1940, reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas, and a German administration was established in what was left of Poland. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the tide gradually turned against the Nazis, who suffered major military defeats in 1943
Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin was a Soviet military commander during World War II. He was ambushed and mortally wounded in February 1944 by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Vatutin was born in Chepuhino village in Voronezh Governorate, into a peasant family of Russian ethnicity. Commissioned in 1920 to the Red Army, he fought against the Ukrainian peasant partisans of Nestor Makhno, the following year, he became a member of the Communist party, and served diligently in junior command positions. Starting in 1926, he spent the decade alternating service with studies in the elite Frunze Military Academy. The 1937–1938 purge of Red Army commanders opened the road to promotion – in 1938, he received the rank of Komdiv, throughout this period, Vatutin combined military service with intensive Party activities. In 1939, Vatutin planned operations for the Soviet invasion of Poland with Germany, in 1940, under the command of Georgy Zhukov, this group seized Bessarabia from Romania. Vatutin was, not up to his new appointment, while innovative and hard-working, he lacked any experience and his knowledge of operational art.
Still, his peasant roots, relative youthful age, and party zeal made him one of Stalins few favorites in the Soviet military, together with the rest of the Red Army high command, failed to prepare the army for the German attack of 22 June 1941. On 30 June 1941, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the North-Western Front, in this role Vatutin did not try to claim success for himself in battles, but made a point of identifying and promoting talented subordinates. He was notable for his audacity, at that stage of the war, most of the Soviet generals, shattered by defeats, were reluctant to carry out offensive operations, but Vatutin thrived on attack. The Northwestern Front was defending Leningrad against approaches by the German Army Group North, Vatutin took command of the Soviet forces near Novgorod and rallied them for offense, attempting to encircle a large German force. He surprised Manstein, put him on the defensive, and forced the entire German Army Group North to regroup its troops to halt the Soviet offensive.
The Wehrmacht lost the precious summer season needed for an attack on Leningrad. Due to this, the Germans failed in their best shot to capture Leningrad, Vatutins immediate operational results were far less impressive. Vatutin overestimated the capacities of his troops and created overly ambitious objectives, while his coordination of his forces, additionally, he did not take into account the difficult terrain which benefited German defenses and slowed his attack. Vatutins casualty figures were staggering, in one army nearly reaching 60%, the ineptitude of his subordinate commanders exacerbated Vatutins own shortcomings. One striking exception to this pattern of deficiency was the brilliance of Ivan Chernyakhovsky, the men had much in common, most prominently their penchant for unorthodox approaches to military art, they soon became close friends. The German and Soviet armies were equal in size, during the battle, Vatutin employed innovative tactics and actions, while the Germans responded more conventionally
Battle of Nikolayevka
The Battle of Nikolayevka refers to the breakout of the Italian forces in January 1943, as a small part of the larger Battle of Stalingrad. The breakout involved a corps of the Italian 8th Armys near the village of Nikolayevka, on December 16,1942, Soviet forces launched Operation Little Saturn aimed at the Italian 8th Army. The Soviet plan was to force the River Don and destroy the Italian 8th Army along the Don, push towards Rostov-on-Don, the Soviet armored columns now rapidly advanced south towards the Black Sea. On January 13,1943, the Red Army launched the stage of Operation Saturn. On the evening of January 17, the officer of the corps General Gabriele Nasci ordered a full retreat. At this point only the Tridentina division was capable of conducting effective combat operations. On the morning of January 26, the spearheads of the Tridentina reached the hamlet of Nikolayevka, occupied by a Soviet division, General Luigi Reverberi, commander of the Tridentina division, led the final assault.
As the 4,000 Alpini advanced, all remaining soldiers of the fell in. The Corps Chief of Staff General Giulio Martinat was killed at the head of his troops on 26 January, the retreat of the Alpini was no longer contested by Soviet forces and on February 1 the remnants of the Corps reached Axis lines. The Italians suffered heavy losses in the breakout, the Cuneense division had destroyed, one tenth of the Division Julia survived. The battle has become a point of reference for the Alpini. The Alpini Association supports programs in the city. Italian Army in Russia Italian participation in the Eastern Front Hamilton, H
A flamethrower is a mechanical incendiary device designed to project a long, controllable stream of fire. They were first used by the Greeks in the 1st Century AD, in modern times, they were used during World War I, and more widely in World War II. Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid, some project a long gas flame, most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and natural gas, which is considered safer. They are used by the military and by people needing controlled burning capacity and they can be designed to be either carried by the operator or mounted on a vehicle. Modern flamethrowers were first used during the trench warfare conditions of World War I and they can be vehicle mounted, as on a tank, or man-portable. The man-portable flamethrower consists of two elements, a backpack and the gun, the backpack element usually consists of two or three cylinders. In a two-cylinder system, one cylinder holds compressed, inert propellant gas, a three-cylinder system often has two outer cylinders of flammable liquid and a central cylinder of propellant gas to maintain the balance of the soldier carrying it.
The gas propels the liquid out of the cylinder through a flexible pipe. The igniter can be one of several systems, A simple type is an electrically-heated wire coil, another used a small pilot flame. The flamethrower is a potent weapon with great impact upon unprepared soldiers. This has led to calls for the weapon to be banned. It is primarily used against battlefield fortifications and other protected emplacements, popular visual media depict the flamethrower as short-ranged and only effective for a few meters. Flamethrowers pose many risks to the operator, the first disadvantage was the weapons weight, which impairs the soldiers mobility. The weapon is limited to only a few seconds of time since it uses fuel very quickly, requiring the operator to be precise. The weapon was very visible on the battlefield, which caused operators to become immediately singled out as prominent targets, Flamethrower operators were rarely taken prisoner, especially when their target survived an attack by the weapon, captured flamethrower users were in some cases summarily executed.
Finally, the effective range was short in comparison with that of other battlefield weapons of similar size. To be effective, flamethrower soldiers must approach their target, risking exposure to enemy fire, vehicular flamethrowers have this problem, they may have considerably greater range than a man-portable flamethrower, but their range is still short compared with that of other infantry weapons. The risk of an operator being caught in the explosion of his weapon due to enemy hits on the tanks is exaggerated in Hollywood films
Army Group South
Army Group South was the name of two German Army Groups during World War II. It was first used in the 1939 September Campaign, along with Army Group North to invade Poland, in the invasion of Poland Army Group South was led by Gerd von Rundstedt and his chief of staff Erich von Manstein. Two years later, Army Group South became one of three groups into which Germany organised their forces for Operation Barbarossa. Army Group Souths principal objective was to capture Soviet Ukraine and its capital Kiev, Ukraine was a major center of Soviet industry and mining and had the good farmland required for Hitlers plans for the Lebensraum. To carry out these initial tasks its battle order included the First Panzer Group and the German Sixth and Eleventh Armies, Luftlotte 1, the German Sixth Army, which fought in the destructive Battle of Stalingrad, was re-constituted and made part of Army Group South. In preparation for Operation Blue, the 1942 campaign in southern Russia, in February 1943, Army Group Don and the existing Army Group B were combined and re-designated Army Group South.
A new Army Group B became a major formation elsewhere, on 4 April 1944, Army Group South was re-designated Army Group North Ukraine. Army Group North Ukraine existed from 4 April to 28 September, in September 1944, Army Group South Ukraine was again re-designated Army Group South. At the end of World War II in Europe, Army Group South was again renamed, as Army Group Ostmark, Army Group Ostmark was one of the last major German military formations to surrender to the Allies