The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced in September 1942, and was developed simultaneously with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and these Axis armies lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. The situation was exacerbated by the German decision to relocate several mechanized divisions from the Soviet Union to Western Europe, units in the area were depleted after months of fighting, especially those which took part in the fighting in Stalingrad. In comparison, the Red Army deployed over one million personnel for the purpose of beginning the offensive in, Soviet troop movements were not without problems, due to the difficulties of concealing their build-up, and to Soviet units commonly arriving late due to logistical issues. Operation Uranus was first postponed from 8 to 17 November, to 19 November, at 07,20 Moscow time on 19 November, Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive, forces in the south began on 20 November.
By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, instead of attempting to break out of the encirclement, German dictator Adolf Hitler decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime and German commanders began to plan their next movements, on 28 June 1942, the Wehrmacht began its offensive against Soviet forces opposite of Army Group South, codenamed Case Blue. After breaking through Red Army forces by 13 July, German forces encircled and captured the city of Rostov. The responsibility to take Stalingrad was given to the Sixth Army, the following day, the Battle of Stalingrad began when vanguards of the Sixth Army penetrated the suburbs of the city. By November the Sixth Army had occupied most of Stalingrad, pushing the defending Red Army to the banks of the Volga River, the German command was intent upon finalizing its capture of Stalingrad. Ultimately, command of Soviet efforts to relieve Stalingrad was put under the leadership of General Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Operation Uranus involved the use of large Soviet mechanized and infantry forces to encircle German and other Axis forces directly around Stalingrad.
For example, in early July the Sixth Army was defending a 160-kilometer line, Army Group B had the 48th Panzer Corps, which had the strength of a weakened panzer division, and a single infantry division as reserves. For the most part the German flanks were held by arriving non-German Axis armies, while German forces were used to spearhead continued operations in Stalingrad, their 37-millimeter PaK anti-tank guns were antiquated and they were largely short of ammunition. Only after repeated requests did the Germans send the Romanian units 75-millimeter PaK guns, the Italians and Hungarians were positioned at the Don west of the Third Romanian Army, but the German commanders did not hold in high regard the capability of those units to fight. The Sixth Army had suffered casualties during the fighting in the city of Stalingrad proper. In some cases, such as that of the 22nd Panzer Division, German formations were overextended along large stretches of front, the XI Army Corps, for example, had to defend a front around 100 kilometers long.
The Red Army allocated an estimated 1,100,000 personnel,804 tanks,13,400 artillery pieces and over 1,000 aircraft for the upcoming offensive. Across the Third Romanian Army, the Soviets placed the redeployed 5th Tank Army, as well as the 21st and 65th Armies, in order to penetrate, in total, the Soviets had amassed 11 armies and various independent tank brigades and corps
Battle of Debrecen
The Battle of Debrecen, called by the Red Army the Debrecen Offensive Operation, was a battle taking place 6–29 October 1944 on the Eastern Front during World War II. The offensive was conducted by the 2nd Ukrainian Front under Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, on 23 August 1944, Germanys former ally, Romania had declared war on Germany and its ally Hungary. The subsequent drive of Soviet General Fedor Tolbukhins 3rd Ukrainian Front into Romania destroyed any semblance of a defensive line. On 8 September, another former German ally, declared war on Germany, by this time, aided by the 2nd Ukrainian Front under Malinovsky had destroyed thirteen Axis divisions, taking over 100,000 prisoners. Both Malinovsky and Tolbukhin were promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union for this on 10 and 12 September respectively and these developments had opened up a 650 kilometer gap in Friessners Army Group. On 24 September 1944, Friessners Army Group South Ukraine was redesignated Army Group South, General Fretter-Picos Sixth Army formed the nucleus of Friessners force, along with the Hungarian Second Army.
The German-Hungarian force was designated Armeegruppe Fretter-Pico, fearing encirclement, commander of Army Group South Ukraine Generaloberst Johannes Friessner requested Hitlers permission to withdraw. Hitler refused to authorize it but promised additional forces for Friessners army group, hitler ordered Friessner to start a new offensive with the goal of a destruction of two of Malinovskys Armies, the 27th Army and the 6th Guards Tank Army. In addition, he was ordered to retake two vital passes in the Southern Carpathians, on 14 September 1944, Malinovsky, in conjunction with the 3rd Ukrainian Front, launched the Belgrade Offensive. Friessner had been concentrating troops for his own planned offensive, by the end of September 1944, both Malinovsky and Friessner had received new orders. Malinovsky was now ordered to attack towards Budapest from the salient to the south around Arad and he was to use the 46th and 1st Romanian Armies with the Cavalry Mechanized Group Pliyev as the exploitation force in case of a successful breakthrough.
The remainder of Malinovskys forces, including the 6th Guards Tank Army, 53rd Army, the plan was for the two spearheads to link up and encircle the German forces. Meanwhile, Friessners orders included an attack from Oradea with Armeegruppe Fretter-Pico, the 2nd Ukrainian Front operation began on 6 October 1944, with Malinovskys southern pincer attacking near Arad, and slicing through the Hungarian Third Army. The spearhead of the southern 2nd Ukrainian Front pincer, followed by the Cavalry Mechanized Group Pliyev, had advanced almost sixty kilometres within the first 24 hours. The attack by the northern 2nd Ukrainian Front pincer ran into difficulty quickly, by the end of the day, the northern pincer had advanced only ten kilometres. Reacting quickly, Fretter-Pico ordered the 76th Infantry Division into the line near Oradea. This freed up the 23rd Panzer Division to move south to counter the breakthrough near Arad, the German Panzer Division Feldherrnhalle 1, refitting at Mezőkövesd, was moved into action to guard potential crossing points on the Tisza River against the advancing 2nd Ukrainian Front units.
By the evening of 7 October 1944, the 2nd Ukrainian Front southern pincer had advanced further towards the Tisza River, the northern pincer was still stalled near Oradea
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
Siege of Budapest
The Siege of Budapest or the Battle of Budapest was the 50-day-long encirclement of the Hungarian capital of Budapest by Soviet forces near the end of World War II. Part of the broader Budapest Offensive, the siege began when Budapest, defended by Hungarian and German troops, was first encircled on 26 December 1944 by the Red Army, during the siege, about 38,000 civilians died from starvation and military action. The city unconditionally surrendered on 13 February 1945 and it was a strategic victory for the Allies in their push towards Berlin. Suffering from nearly 200,000 deaths in three years fighting the Soviet Union, and with the front lines approaching its own cities, as political forces within Hungary pushed for an end to the fighting, Germany preemptively launched Operation Margarethe 19 March 1944, and entered Hungary. Upon hearing of Horthys efforts, Hitler launched Operation Panzerfaust to keep Hungary on the Axis side and his government were replaced by Hungarist Ferenc Szálasi, led by the far-right National Socialist Arrow Cross Party.
The besieging Soviet forces were part of Rodion Malinovskys 2nd Ukrainian Front, arrayed against the Soviets was a collection of German Army, Waffen-SS, and Hungarian Army forces. The Siege of Budapest was one of the bloodiest sieges of World War II, the Red Army started its offensive against the city on 29 October 1944. More than 1,000,000 men, split into two operating maneuver groups, the plan was to isolate Budapest from the rest of the German and Hungarian forces. On 7 November 1944, Soviet and Romanian troops entered the suburbs,20 kilometers from the old town. The Red Army, after a pause in hostilities, resumed its offensive 19 December. On 26 December, a road linking Budapest to Vienna was seized by Soviet troops, the nazi Leader of the Nation, Ferenc Szálasi, had already fled 9 December. As a result of the Soviet link-up, nearly 33,000 German and 37,000 Hungarian soldiers, as well as over 800,000 civilians, became trapped within the city. Refusing to authorize a withdrawal, Adolf Hitler had declared Budapest a fortress city, Waffen SS General Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, the commander of the IX Waffen SS Alpine Corps, was put in charge of the citys defenses.
Budapest was a target for Joseph Stalin. The Yalta Conference was approaching and Stalin wanted to display his strength to Churchill. He therefore ordered General Rodion Malinovsky to seize the city without delay, during the night of 28 December 1944, the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Front contacted the besieged Germans by radios and loudspeakers and told them about a negotiation for the citys capitulation. The Soviets promised to provide humane conditions and not to mistreat the German and Hungarian prisoners. They promised that the groups would not bring weapons
Battle of the Kerch Peninsula
It was launched on 8 May 1942 and concluded around 18 May 1942 with the near complete destruction of the Soviet defending forces. The Red Army lost over 170,000 men killed or taken prisoner, the operation was one of the battles immediately preceding the German summer offensive, and its successful conclusion enabled the Axis to end the siege of Sevastopol in the following months. Some groups of Soviet survivors refused to surrender and fought on for many months, many of these soldiers were occupying the caves along with many civilians, who had fled the city of Kerch. On 26 December 1941, the Soviets landed on Kerch, and on 30 December executed another landing near Feodosiya with the 44th, the operation was to drive to Sevastopol and relieve the garrison, now encircled by the German 11th Army. The 46th Infantry Division, under Generalleutnant Kurt Himer, was the division in a position to be able to block the Soviet advance. Manstein believed it could contain the landing, but the Soviets consolidated their bridgeheads, Manstein diverted the XXX Corps to support XLII Corps, forming a new front at Feodosiya.
They succeeded in sealing off the Soviet armies in the Kerch peninsula, the Soviet landings had saved Sevastopol and seized the initiative. The Germans lost 8,595 between 17 and 31 December, the Soviets lost 7,000 killed and another 20,000 as prisoners of war. To slow the Soviet build-up, Alexander Löhrs Luftflotte 4 was sent to the region to interdict shipping, the 7,500 long tons transport Emba was severely damaged on 29 January. Still, the Luftwaffe failed to prevent the transport of 100,000 men, at Sevastopol,764 short tons of fuel,1,700 short tons of supplies were sent to the port. On 13 February, the cruiser Komintern and destroyer Shaumyan brought in 1,034 soldiers and 200 tons of supplies, the cruiser Krasny Krym and destroyer Dzerzhinskiy brought in a further 1,075 men on 14 February. The next day, the minesweeper T410 brought in 650 and evacuated 152, on 17 February, the transport Belostok brought in 871 men. The Black Sea Fleet regularly shelled German positions on the coast, the Luftwaffe increased its pressure, dispatching KG27, KG55, and KG100 to bomb the ports at Anapa and Novorossiysk on the Caucasian Black Sea coast.
On 20 February, the 1,900 long tons transport Kommunist was sunk by KG100, Manstein was unwilling to surrender the initiative, and ordered counterattacks which recaptured Feodosiya in January 1942. The German 11th Army lacked the strength to destroy the 44th and 51st Army in the Kerch Peninsula, the Stavka created the Crimean Front under Lieutenant General Dimitri Kozlov on 28 January to coordinate operations. Kozlov began a series of offensives in February and April, petrovs Coastal Army supported the operations on 26 February, inflicting 1,200 casualties while losing 2,500 in return. The spring thaw arrived in early May, and both sides prepared for the battle that would decide the campaign, the Luftwaffe had flown in the specialist torpedo bomber unit KG26. On 1/2 March 1942, it damaged the 2,434 long tons steamer Fabritsius which was damaged, the 4,629 long tons oil tanker Kuybyshev was damaged on 3 March south of Kerch, which deprived the defenders of much fuel
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