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
Johann Schlemmer was a German general during World War II who commanded the LXXV Army Corps. He was a recipient of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Schlemmer surrendered to Allied troops in Italy in 1945. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class German Cross in Gold on 23 January 1942 as Oberst in the 134. Infanterie-Division Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves Knights Cross on 21 April 1942 as Generalmajor, infanterie-Division 369th Oak Leaves on 18 January 1944 as Generalleutnant and commander of 134
Battle of France
The Battle of France, known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940 during the Second World War. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and attempted an invasion of France, the German plan for the invasion of France consisted of two main operations. After the withdrawal of the BEF, the German forces began Fall Rot on 5 June, the sixty remaining French divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility. German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, German forces occupied Paris unopposed on 14 June after a chaotic period of flight of the French government that led to a collapse of the French army. German commanders met with French officials on 18 June with the goal of forcing the new French government to accept an armistice that amounted to surrender and this led to the end of the French Third Republic. France was not liberated until the summer of 1944, in 1939, Britain and France offered military support to Poland in the likely case of a German invasion.
In the dawn of 1 September 1939, the German Invasion of Poland began and the United Kingdom declared war on 3 September, after an ultimatum for German forces to immediately withdraw their forces from Poland was met without reply. Following this, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, on 7 September, in accordance with their alliance with Poland, France began the Saar Offensive with an advance from the Maginot Line 5 km into the Saar. France had mobilised 98 divisions and 2,500 tanks against a German force consisting of 43 divisions, the French advanced until they met the thin and undermanned Siegfried Line. On 17 September, the French supreme commander, Maurice Gamelin gave the order to withdraw French troops to their starting positions, following the Saar Offensive, a period of inaction called the Phoney War set in between the belligerents. Adolf Hitler had hoped that France and Britain would acquiesce in the conquest of Poland, on 6 October, he made a peace offer to both Western powers. On 9 October, Hitler issued a new Führer-Directive Number 6, the plan was based on the seemingly more realistic assumption that German military strength would have to be built up for several years.
For the moment only limited objectives could be envisaged and were aimed at improving Germanys ability to survive a long war in the west. Hitler ordered a conquest of the Low Countries to be executed at the shortest possible notice to forestall the French and it would provide the basis for a long-term air and sea campaign against Britain. On 10 October 1939, Britain refused Hitlers offer of peace and on 12 October, colonel-General Franz Halder, presented the first plan for Fall Gelb on 19 October. This was the codename of plans for a campaign in the Low Countries. Halders plan has been compared to the Schlieffen Plan, the given to the German strategy of 1914 in the First World War. It was similar in both plans entailed an advance through the middle of Belgium
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
Lower Silesian Offensive
The Lower Silesian Offensive was a Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front of World War II in 1945, involving forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev. It cleared German troops from much of Lower Silesia and besieged a large German force in the provincial capital, the offensive directly succeeded the Vistula–Oder Offensive, in which Konevs troops had driven the German Army Group A from Poland, liberating Kraków and taking bridgeheads over the Oder River. He preceded the attack with a fifty-minute artillery bombardment, his troops crossing the start lines at 06,00. By the end of the day the Fronts spearheads had penetrated some 60 km, another 35,000 troops and 80,000 civilians had been blockaded in Breslau. The resulting Siege of Breslau lasted until the end of the war. The 4th Tank Army, in the meantime, had pushed far ahead towards the Neisse River, on February 14, two German corps mounted a sudden counter-attack that left Lelyushenkos force in a desperate fight to avoid encirclement.
On February 24, faced with heavy German reinforcement, Konev closed the offensive phase of operations and this effectively defined the start lines in that sector for the Battle of Berlin, or Berlin Offensive, two months later. Schoerner attempted to win back some territory during March with successful counter-attacks at Lauban, an offensive to relieve Breslau was however disrupted by an offensive on the 1st Ukrainian Fronts right flank to the south-east, the Upper Silesian Offensive Operation. Dolata, Wyzwolenie Dolnego Śląska w 1945, ossolineum,1970 Photos from the times of World War II in Lower Silesia
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
World War I
World War I, known as the First World War, the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history and it was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. The war drew in all the worlds great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances, the Allies versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war, Japan, the trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia. Within weeks, the powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.
On 25 July Russia began mobilisation and on 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia, Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, after the German march on Paris was halted, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army was successful against the Austro-Hungarians, in November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai. In 1915, Italy joined the Allies and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, Romania joined the Allies in 1916, after a stunning German offensive along the Western Front in the spring of 1918, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in a series of successful offensives. By the end of the war or soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, national borders were redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created, and Germanys colonies were parceled out among the victors.
During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four imposed their terms in a series of treaties, the League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict. This effort failed, and economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation eventually contributed to World War II. From the time of its start until the approach of World War II, at the time, it was sometimes called the war to end war or the war to end all wars due to its then-unparalleled scale and devastation. In Canada, Macleans magazine in October 1914 wrote, Some wars name themselves, during the interwar period, the war was most often called the World War and the Great War in English-speaking countries. Will become the first world war in the sense of the word. These began in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia and Austria, when Germany was united in 1871, Prussia became part of the new German nation. Soon after, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors between the monarchs of Austria-Hungary and Germany
A corps is a military unit usually consisting of several divisions. Some military service branches are called corps, such as the Military Police Corps, Royal Logistic Corps, Quartermaster Corps, a few civilian organizations use the name corps to imply a similar service level, such as the Peace Corps. In many armies, a corps is a formation composed of two or more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the scale of combat. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is indicated in Roman numerals. II Corps was formed, with Militia units, to defend south-eastern Australia, sub-corps formations controlled Allied land forces in the remainder of Australia. I Corps headquarters was assigned control of the New Guinea campaign. In early 1945, when I Corps was assigned the task of re-taking Borneo, the Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was organized into corps and divisions.
Early in the Second World War, Canadas contribution to the British-French forces fighting the Germans was limited to a single division, after the fall of France in June 1940, a second division moved to England, coming under command of a Canadian corps headquarters. This corps was renamed I Canadian Corps as a corps headquarters was established in the UK. I Canadian Corps eventually fought in Italy, II Canadian Corps in NW Europe, after the formations were disbanded after VE Day, Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps headquarters. The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division. The French Army under Napoleon used corps-sized formations as the first formal combined-arms groupings of divisions with reasonably stable manning, Napoleon first used the Corps dArmée in 1805. The use of the Corps dArmée was an innovation that provided Napoleon with a significant battlefield advantage in the early phases of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Corps was designed to be an independent military group containing cavalry and infantry and this allowed Napoleon to mass the bulk of his forces to effect a penetration into a weak section of enemy lines without risking his own communications or flank. This innovation stimulated other European powers to adopt similar military structures, the Corps has remained an echelon of French Army organization to the modern day. As fixed military formation already in peace-time it was used almost in all European armies after Battle of Ulm in 1805, in Prussia it was introduced by Order of His Majesty from November 5,1816, in order to strengthen the readiness to war