The Russia During the Second World War Part 9

The final offensive. – The maneuver of the final offensive takes place in a large quadrilateral: to the north, the Baltic coast; Oder-Neisse to the west; the Beskids to the south; Masuri-Narew-Vistula-San lakes to the east. The Soviet armies have the following north-south deployment. On the right wing on the Niemen: the First Army Group of White Russia, led by General Godorov; on the eastern frontier of East Prussia the III group of armies of White Russia, of Marshal Tchernjakovskij; in the center and to the left of this, on the Narew, Marshal Rokosovskij’s Second Army Group of White Russia; on the Vistula the 1st group of armies of the White Russia of Marshal Žukov. On the left wing, from north to south: in Galicia the 1st group of armies of Ukraine, led by Marshal Konev; on the Western Carpathians the IV Petrov group,

The right wing, which in the autumn campaign tried to break through the defensive system of East Prussia, is deployed on the Niemen and on the Wilkoaviškis-Kalvaria-Suwałki-Augustów line; in November it suffered a setback at Goldap. The left wing pushed the Germans over the Hungarian-Austrian border and encircled Budapest; the center, which was not seriously engaged throughout the summer and autumn, holds the Vistula-San front. The offensive is launched simultaneously in all sectors.

East Prussia. – On January 19, Marshal Chernyakovsky begins the offensive. Group III, having overcome the defenses of the eastern front, rapidly advances on a front of 60 kilometers, penetrating the enemy array for 45.

According to, Insterburg is occupied on the 26th; Darkehmen and Nordenburg on the 28th. Govorov, having passed Tilsit, occupies Lablau. At the same time, the II group of Rokosovskij’s armies attacks on the Narew, on the 19th occupies Mlava and with rapid advance penetrates from the south into East Prussia with its right wing, occupying 21 Tannenberg, 23 Deutsch-Eylau, 23 Osterode, 25 Allenstein ; with the left wing, obliquing to the NW, it points to the coast of Frisches Haff and occupies 28 Mülhausen and Marienburg. This movement cuts off from the rest of Germany all the forces defending East Prussia (20-25 divisions about 250,000 men). Without further arrests, the fight goes on furious, especially on the front of the III group of armies between Friedland and Wormditt. The Germans, who are fighting with extreme fury, are forced to retreat: Kreutzburg is occupied on February 10, Königsberg is surrounded. The troops of the Govorov army group I pursue the retreating German forces to the north of the square and lock them up in the Samland peninsula; on the Baltic, Elbing surrenders on the 13th to Rokosovskij. East Prussia is clear, even Königsberg surrenders on 9 April. The II group of armies turns west and hits Danzig with the right wing, which is occupied on 30 March; with the rest also Graudenz, which falls on 6 March.

Polish sector. – Operations in the central sector were conducted by the White Russia (I) army group, under whose command the best of the Soviet commanders was called by the Ukrainian group: the Žukov; the Ukrainian front under the orders of Konev, together with the Žukov front, constituted the center of the Soviet deployment. On January 19, both began that lightning-fast, overwhelming offensive from the Vistula upstream of Warsaw which, aiming at the two decisive objectives of the war (Berlin and Breslau), in 17 days only crossed Poland and crossed the border with Germany (February 2, 1945), leaving behind him the rocks of desperate German resistance: Gdańsk, Toruń, Poznań, Bydgoszcz. While the Žukov group occupied the entrances to the powerful strongholds of the Oder defensive line, Küstrin and Frankfurt, entrusted to the energetic conduct of H. Guderian, the right wing of the III group of armies invaded Pomerania on February 15, aiming at Stargard and Szczecin. Konev, on the left, on 8 February stood in the upper Oder, investing Breslau and occupying Brig, Oppeln and Gleiwitz. Three great battles of rupture were ignited on the Oder line: one in the north between Stargard and Kolberg, with the epicenter at Grafenberg; one in the center, between Küstrin and Frankfurt; one to the south, around Wroclaw. The first ended with the occupation of Kolberg, the Baltic and the Oder estuary (7 March); the central one, with the encirclement of Küstrin and the establishment of a large bridgehead south of the stronghold, so the Soviets were found only 72 km away. from Berlin; the third, with the forcing of Oder north of Wroclaw, Brig and Oppeln and with the rapid advance of the Konev troops to the Neisse in Görlitz (mid-February). Žukov’s left, favored by Konev’s successes, also advanced in the direction of Kottbus and occupied Sommerfield on 17 February. As a result of this movement, in the general deployment the left wing carried out that alignment with the center and the right, from which the final overhang on the capital of the Reich will have to begin with the united forces. If the great battle slows down, it does not stop. Especially in the north it resumes with extreme violence towards the middle of March, around Szczecin, which the Germans defend to the bitter end, given its great strategic importance.

Southern sector. – The fight focuses on two objectives: Budapest and Vienna; the latter, attacked by Slovakia and western Hungary, with the epicenter between Balaton and Danube. The resistance of Budapest is truly heroic: the Soviets are forced to conquer it house by house and, for the whole of January, there is fighting in the interior of the city, which only surrenders on February 13 (110,000 prisoners). Rejected between the Balaton and the Danube the German counterattacks in the third decade of January, the Soviets resume the advance towards the west strongly opposed by the German-Hungarians, for which it proceeds slowly and with pauses; only at the end of March did they reach the Austrian border, passing between Kaszeg and Lake Neusiedel, aiming for Wiener-Neustadt, which they occupy on April 3. On this date the battle for Vienna begins; which falls on the 14th,

The battle for Berlin. – On 8 March Žukov launches three armies on a front of 200 km. and advances on the German capital; but is stopped at 60 km. about from it. Küstrin resisted and capitulated only on 2 April. Žukov resumes the fight in early April, while Konev passes the Neisse, occupies Muskau and focuses on Dresden. Thus begins the last phase of the battle of Berlin (see in this second App., I, p. 389) which on May 4, at 3 pm, surrenders with 70,000 prisoners. While fighting in the streets of Berlin, Szczecin falls (28), Brno in Moravia (April 28); Konev reaches the Elbe in the NW. of Dresden, occupies Torgau and Wittenberg, and Rokososvkij, on May 5, meets with the British in Wismar. On the same day, at 4 pm, the 58th Soviet Guards Division of the Konev met in Torgau with the 69th American Division.

The Russia During the Second World War 9

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