The Russia During the Second World War Part 7

Offensive of the summer – autumn 1944. – At the end of June, the summer campaign starts simultaneously in the northern and central sectors; in the southern sector there is a pause of about a month and only in August the operations begin with the lightning offensive in Romania, which opens with the encirclement of 12 German-Romanian divisions in the Kišinev region.

According to, the autumn campaign takes place in the northern and southern sectors, leaving the center almost inactive: fierce struggle in East Prussia; conquest of the extreme northern edge of Finland; advanced in Hungary, in Austria, in Bulgaria, in Yugoslavia with the participation of revolutionary troops of these nations and of the Romanian troops passed to the Soviet camp.

In June, the center of gravity of the struggle shifts to the north: the troops of the first pre-Baltic front, under the orders of General Govorov, begin the offensive against the Finnish positions in the Karelian isthmus and on the Svir river, between Ladoga and Onega.

The breaking through of the three lines, which made up the “Mannerheim” defensive system, took place with overwhelming speed between 9 and 18 June: on 20 Viipuri was occupied; even the Svir line does not resist and the Soviets arrive at the Murmansk railway. The war with Finland can be considered over.

Major operations take place in the central and southern sectors. In the first, the final objective is to reject the German armies beyond the Soviet border and to bring the war to German territory: the main route, the capital Berlin; in the second, to force Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria to abandon the struggle, attacking and expelling the German occupation troops from those territories. The struggle in the north is taking place in two distinct sectors: in the Baltic countries and on Polish territory; to the south, in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Yugoslavia. In these latter theaters the Soviets will have the collaboration of the irregular and partisan troops of the invaded countries, against the German occupation troops.

Baltic countries. – The German armies deployed from the Gulf of Finland to Vitebsk and Mogilev were attacked at the end of June. On the 26th Vitebsk is stormed and the Soviet troops, quickly pursuing the retreating enemy, reach the Dvina. On the same day the offensive was launched in the Pskov and Polock sectors; the latter city falls on 5 July and on 10 the Soviets cross the Lithuanian border, on the 19 the Latvian: Narva, Dvinsk and Wilno are occupied; further south, conquer Grodno and Baranowicze. The entire front, from Peipus to Pińsk 700 kilometers long, is in motion; everywhere the Soviet collision broke the German defenses and proceeded rapidly: Kaunas fell on 1 August. Large pockets are formed in various sectors and entire large enemy units are captured in them. In Latvia, the Germans, however, manage to temporarily stop the enemy offensive. On 11 August, after a brief pause, the offensive resumed in the Pskov sector; target the Baltic coast, to split the German deployment in two and cut off communications with East Prussia at the northern section of it. The Soviet maneuver is completed and about twenty German divisions remain surrounded.

The offensive of September-October assumes a clearly concentric form. To the north, from Narva, the armies of General Govorov’s pre-Baltic front point on one side on Tallin, and on the 22nd this city is captured; two days later the ports of Baltiski and Haapsalu were occupied; on the other, the Soviets bet on Tartu which they occupy on the 22nd; they continue south-west along the coast, enter Latvia and head for Riga, the last Baltic port of the Germans. The Third Pre-Baltic Front from the East marches on the same objective (General Maslenikov). The two sides united, advance on a front of 280 km. of extension for 100 km. deep, southwest of Siauliai in Lithuania; the first, with Memel and Liepajā as objective; the second, the northern frontier of East Prussia. Troops of the 1st front land in the island of Saaremaa (Oesel) and drive out the German troops. With the arrival of the Soviets in Memel and Kretinga another large pocket is formed in Courland in which considerable German forces remain closed.

On 13 October Riga falls; two days earlier the Soviets had occupied Tilsit and Surbarcas on the Niemen, after having crossed the Germanic border. Memel will resist for a long time, until January 30, 1945. But the operations in this sector can now be considered concluded; the fight moves to East Prussia and continues throughout the winter.

Central sector. – Operations begin at the end of June in the opening between Dvina and upper Dnepr, guarding which are the ramparts of Vitebsk, Orša and Mogilev; which, when attacked, capitulate in the first week of battle. The armies of the I, II and III White Russia fronts proceed rapidly westward: from Orša to Wilno, which is occupied on 8 July; from Mogilev to Minsk (July 3), Lida and Grodno (July 16) and to Bobrujsk; from Rogačev and Gomel ′ respectively on Baranowicze (8 July), Bialystok (27 July), Pińsk (14 July) and finally on Brest-Litovsk (occupied on 28 July).

Further north the Soviet troops of the III Baltic Front, advancing from Vitebsk on Polock, cross the Latvian border and occupy Dvinsk and Reczene on 27 July. On July 31st the avant-gardes settle at the Vistula, from Warsaw to the San and form a bridgehead south-east of Sandomierz. In the southern sector, the offensive begins on the Korosten′-Žitomir-Proskurov front, by the armies of Marshal Žukov; target the Galician gate. Łuck, Dubno and Lviv are occupied in the last days of July; Lublin was already so since 23 July. Also in this sector the Soviets had settled on the Vistula and on the 26th they had conquered the stronghold of Dęblin; immediate target: Krakow.

The Russia During the Second World War 7

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