The Russia During the Second World War Part 2

Further south, the von Kleist armored group was heading decisively in the direction of Dubno and, bumping into the Soviet 12th Army, attempting to grip it; but the violent counterattacks directed with skill and promptness by general Šapošnikov in the direction of Przemyśl and Rava-Ruska, made the German maneuver fail and the 12th army, holding its own against the invader, slowly retreated towards the east; so that on the evening of July 8 the Germans had succeeded only in occupying Ostrog and Rovno, Tarnopol ‘and Chernovica; but here too there was no annihilation. On the far right wing, the German-Romanian armies under the orders of Marshal Antonescu limited themselves, in the meantime, to building a few bridgeheads on the Prut; which, however, were soon eliminated with vigorous counterattacks by the Soviets.

Meanwhile, according to, the Russian cover had been eliminated according to the plan. The consequences were serious, especially those determined by the battle for the annihilation of Bialystok; since the enormous breach opened in the center of the front revealed the capital: which required, for moral and military reasons, constituting Moscow the greatest center of Russian communications, the immediate use of all available reserves. On the other hand, the Germans had the possibility, having succeeded with this victory in circumventing the vast marshy region of Pripyat ′ of penetrating into White Russia and of competing validly in the action of the group of southern armies in its advance into Ukraine, threatening the enemy troops deployed in Galicia from the north.

The Breaking Battles. – Towards the middle of July the German armies, proceeding on the whole front, reached the Stalin fortified line: the “Russian Maginot”, as the Soviets described it; which from Narva, following the shore of Lake Peipus through the regions of Polock and Vitebsk, followed the bank of the Dnieper until a little north of Kiev and reached the Black Sea at Vicolaev, following the left of the Nistro. This line, however, was incomplete and not entirely made up of permanent works; some features were still defenseless; so it was not difficult for the German armies to overcome various sectors.

On July 15, while the Finno-German troops were stationed at the Murmansk-Kandalakša railway, the armies of General von Leeb operating in the Baltic countries advanced on Novgorod and Dvinsk; they overthrew the 6 Soviet divisions that faced them; they occupied the coast of the Gulf of Finland, Narva, Luga and made contact with the Stalin line between Pskov and Ostrov; they passed it in early August, pushing peaks into the region of Lake Il′men ′ and, further south, occupying the Velikie-Luki railway triangle.

In the center, the group of armies of the von Bock, preceded by an imposing mass of cart units, in which all the Panzergruppen had been gathered, placed under the orders of Marshal von Kluge – 12 wagon divisions – advanced astride the great Minsk highway. Moscow, on a front of 350 km. from Nevel to Rogačev on the Dnieper; it broke through the Stalin line in the Vitebsk-Orša stretch and between 16 and 21 July, after forcing this river at Mogilev, it radiated into the Smolensk region, pushing a bold tip on this last city and beyond towards the east, up to Vyazma, occupied on 8 August. Large pockets formed in the Smolensk-Vitebsk-Mogilev triangle, in which considerable Russian forces found themselves surrounded. Further south, the Guderian group, with skilful maneuvering, passed the high Dnieper to Gomel ′ and pushed quickly on Bryansk. Marshal Timošenko, who was covering Moscow, went on the counter-offensive: both to unblock the relevant Soviet forces still encircled W of Smolensk, and to definitively stop the German advance on the capital. He threw into the battle what he could draw from the reserves placed within his reach and the struggle lasted very violent; but the goal of freeing the encircled troops was only partially achieved. The German advance, however, was contained: indeed, in the sector of El′nja the German troops were forced to retreat. In the aforementioned pocket 9 Soviet divisions were annihilated; of these, only 30,000 men were taken prisoner. The Soviets consolidated the positions reached on the Valdai-Ržev-Vyazma-Bryansk front and the great battle for Moscow was fought on it (see in this Appendix).

The battle of Uman ′. – In the sector between Pripyat ‘and the Black Sea, the advance proceeded countered with the methodical Soviet maneuver in retreat. The 6th Army had advanced in mid-July to the Korosten′-Žitomir front and, proceeding towards the Dnieper, had stopped at the river, facing the Stalin line. The 17th had reached the Vinica region and a large deep salient had formed at Talnoe. Further south, the 11th Army and the Romanian armies had arrived at the Kamenec-Podol′sk-Corso del Dnestr front. The Soviet resistance, on this extreme wing of the front, showed itself very tenacious when it was a question of defending Ukraine and covering the great port of Odessa; so that while the 11th army had been able to reach the Bug in Gajvoron with its left wing, connecting there with the 17 “, the rest were still set back on the right bank of the Dniester. The armored body of the von Kleist, coming from Berdičev, headed for Lisjanka north of Uman ′. This situation was very favorable to develop a large maneuver of enveloping the Soviet forces massed between Dnestr and Bug and to open the way towards the Dnieper. The battle began on July 19 with the forcing of the Dnestr to Jampol ′, followed by a large conversion of the left wing between Bug and Dnieper, reaching this river in front of Kiev and downstream of this stronghold, without however being able to pass it date the strong resistance encountered and the violent Soviet counterattacks against Žitomir. Only it was possible to build a large bridgehead in Kremenčug and another smaller one in Dnepropetrovsk (10 August).

The Russia During the Second World War 2

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