Within three years, Belarus has been under the yoke of the enemy. The invaders looted the area of the republic: the town were destroyed, burned more than a million buildings in the rural areas, drawn to the ruins of 7 thousand schools. The Nazis killed more than 2-million prisoners of war and civilian inhabitants. Almost in the Byelorussian SSR was not a family that would not be affected by the Nazis. Snow White Russia was one of the most affected areas of the Union. But people do not lose heart and resisted. Knowing that the East Reddish Army recognized the enemy head on Moscow, Stalingrad and the Caucasus, the Nazis smashed on the Kursk, releases of Ukrainian, Belarusian partisans were preparing to take decisive action. By the summer of 1944 on the areas of Belarus there were about 140 thousand guerrillas. Overall management of the guerrillas made clandestine organization Belorussian Communist Party led by Kondratievich Panteleimon Ponomarenko, who once was the head of the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement of the USSR. It should be noted that contemporaries noted his remarkable honesty, responsibility and deepest analysis capabilities. Stalin had a very high regard for Ponomarenko, some researchers believe that the leader wanted to make him his successor.
For a number of days before the start of the operation to liberate Belarus guerrillas launched a series of attacks on sensitive Germans. The guerrillas destroyed their transport infrastructure, communication bandwidth, virtually paralyzed the rear of the enemy at the crucial moment. During the operation, the guerrillas attacked the individual units of the enemy, attacked the rear structure of the Germans.
Preparation of the operation
Operational Plan for the Byelorussian operation began to develop as early as April. The overall plan of the General Staff was in crushing the flanks of the German armies «Center», surrounded by its main forces east of the capital of the Byelorussian SSR and the complete liberation of Belarus. It was a very principled and ambitious plan, one-stage crushing of the whole group of enemy armies planned during the second world war is very rare. It was one of the largest military operations in the entire history of the world’s population.
By the summer of 1944 Reddish Army have gained impressive success in Ukraine — the Wehrmacht suffered heavy losses, Russian forces conducted a number of successful offensive operations, freeing up a huge part of the area of the country. But the Belarusian direction things were worse: the front line came to the turn of Vitebsk — Orsha — Mogilev — Zhlobin, forming a large protrusion which was converted deep into the Soviet Union, so called. «Belarusian balcony.»
In July 1944, the German industry is headed for the highest point of its development in the war — for the first half of the Reich factory produced more than 16 thousand planes, 8.3 thousand tanks and assault guns. Berlin spent several mobilizations, and the number of its armed forces was 324 divisions and five brigades. Belarus defender’s Army Group «Center» had in its composition of 850-900 thousand people, 10 thousand guns and mortars, 900 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 1,350 aircraft. In addition, in the second step the Battle Army Group «Center» maintained connections right flank of Army Group «North» and the left — a group of armies «North Ukraine», also with the provisions of the Western Front and the different parts of the Eastern Front. In the Army Group «Center» included four Army: 2nd Field Army, she delayed the district of Pinsk and Pripyat (Commander Walter Weiss), 9th Field Army, she defended the area on both sides of the Berezina south-east of Bobruisk (Hans Jordan, after June 27 — Nikolaus von Foreman), 4th Field Army (Kurt von Tippelskirch, after June 30, the army commanded by Vincenz Muller) and 3rd Panzer Army (Georg Reinhardt), who occupied the Berezina and Dnieper rivers, as a springboard to the area from the north Bykhov -east of Orsha. In addition, the compounds of the 3rd Panzer Army occupied the district of Vitebsk. Commander of Army Group «Center» was Field Marshal Ernst Busch (June 28, Bush changed the Walter model). His chief of staff was Hans Krebs.
If the command of the Red Army was well acquainted of the German group in the coming future, the command of Army Group «Center» and the headquarters of the Army of the Reich had quite wrong idea about the plans of Moscow in the summer campaign of 1944. Adolf Hitler and the High Command of the Wehrmacht believed that the coming of the great Russian troops should wait as before in the Ukraine, to the north or south of the Carpathians (probably north). It was believed that the area south of Kovel Russian troops would strike the side of the Baltic Sea, trying to cut off Army Group «Center» and «North» from Germany. To counter the probable dangers were highlighted in a huge force. In the group of armies «North Ukraine» had seven tanks, two Panzer Grenadier Division, and four battalion of heavy tanks «Tiger.» A group of armies «Center» had one tank, two Panzer Grenadier Division and one battalion of heavy tanks. In addition, the feared impact on Romania — at Ploesti oil fields. In April, Army Group «Center» presented higher management proposal to reduce the bandwidth of the front and the departure of the troops on the best position for the Berezina. But this plan is rejected, the Army Group «Center» issued an order to defend their former positions. Vitebsk, Orsha, Mogilev and Bobruisk declared a «fortress» and fastened with the expectation of a radial defense, likely struggle in the environment. For engineering works are widely used forced labor of local residents. Aviation, Signals Intelligence and the German agents were not able to open training Russian command of a major operation in Belarus. Army Group «Center» and «North» predicted «a calm summer», the situation does not inspire so many fears that Field Marshal Busch for the three day or prior to the operation of the Red Army went on vacation. However, it should be noted that the front in Belarus for a long time stood still, and the Germans had time to do an advanced defense system. It included the city of «fortress», numerous field fortifications, bunkers, dugouts, changeable positions for artillery and machine guns. Germans had withdrawn a huge role natural barriers — the forest and moorland, a great number of rivers and streams.
Reddish Army. Stalin made a final decision on the summer campaign, including the Belorussian operation, at the end of April. Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Antonov was ordered to organize the General Staff, the planning of operations. The plan for the liberation of Belarus received the code name — «Operation Bagration.» May 20, 1944 he graduated from the General Staff of the development of a plan of offensive operations. In the GHQ were caused by Vasilevsky, Antonov and Zhukov. May 22 at GHQ were taken front commanders Bagramyan, Chernyakhovsky, KKRokossovsky to listen to their judgments about the operation. Coordination of the fronts was assigned to Zhukov and Vasilevsky, they left the troops first of June.
Bid to anticipate the application of three massive strokes. 1st Baltic and 3rd Belorussian Front attacked in the general direction of Vilnius. Troops 2-fronts were to defeat the enemy grouping of Vitebsk, develop coming west to envelop the left flank and the grouping of the Borisov, the Minsk Group of the German forces. 1st Belorussian Front had to defeat the Germans Bobruisk group. Then develop in the direction of the coming of the Slutsky-Baranovichi and envelop the south and south-west of the Minsk Group of the German troops. 2nd Belarusian Front in collaboration with left-flank grouping 3rd Belorussian and the right flank of the 1st Belorussian Front had to move in the general direction of Minsk.
On the Russian side in the operation involved about 1 million 200 thousand people in the four fronts: the 1st Baltic Front (Army General Ivan Hristoforovich Akhurian) 3rd Belorussian Front (Colonel General Ivan Chernyakhovsky Kuchma), 2nd Byelorussian Front (Colonel General Jora F. Zakharov), 1st Belorussian Front (Army General Konstantin Rokossovsky). Coordinator of the action of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts were Jora Zhukov and coordinator of Action 3rd Belorussian and 1st Baltic fronts was the chief of staff Alexander Vasilevsky. Took part in the operation and the Dnieper Flotilla.
Preparation of the Byelorussian operation (left to right) Varennikov JS, GK Zhukov, Kazakov VI, KK Rokossovsky 1st Belorussian Front. 1944
«Operation Bagration» was to solve some basic problems:
— Absolutely clear of German troops metropolitan area, since the front edge of the «Belarusian projection» was about 80 kilometers from Smolensk. The configuration of the band in front of the Byelorussian SSR was a giant, elongated east arc area of almost 250 thousand square kilometers. The arc extends from the north of Vitebsk and Pinsk in the south to Smolensk and Gomel regions, hanging over the right wing of the 1st Ukrainian Front. The German High Command appropriated the tremendous value of this area — it protects the distant approaches to Poland and East Prussia. In addition, Hitler had cherished plans winning the war if it created a «wonder weapon», or there will be a huge geopolitical configuration. With a foothold in Belarus could again strike at Moscow.
— Complete liberation of all of the Belarusian countryside of Lithuania and Poland.
— Get off at the Baltic Sea coast and to the borders of East Prussia, which allowed to cut the German front on the compounds of Army Group «Center» and «North» and the German isolate these groups from each other.
— Make profitable short-range conditions for the next offensive operations in the Baltic, in western Ukraine, at the Warsaw and East Prussia directions.
Among the milestones of operations
The operation was performed in two steps. In the first step (June 23-July 4, 1944) were carried out: Vitebsk-Orsha, Mogilev, Bobruisk, Polotsk and Vitebsk front-line offensive operations. In the second step of the operation «Bagration» (July 5-August 29, 1944) held: Vilnius, Siauliai, of Bialystok, Lublin-Brest, Kaunas and Osovetskaya front-line offensive operations.
The first step of the operation
Advent began the day June 23, 1944. Reddish near Vitebsk Army successfully broke through the German defenses on June 25 and has already surrounded the west of the town of five divisions of the enemy. Elimination of the Vitebsk «boiler» is over in the morning on June 27, the same day released Orsha. With the liquidation of Vitebsk group of Germans prime position on the left flank of the defense of the «Center» was captured. Northern flank of Army Group «Center» was virtually destroyed, killing more than 40 thousand Germans and taken prisoner 17 thousand people. Orsha direction after a German Russian Defense Command introduced in the scramble the 5th Guards Tank Army. Successfully crossed the Berezina River, tankers Rotmistrova cleared Borisov from the Nazis. Output forces of the 3rd Belorussian Front in the area Borisov has resulted in significant operational success: 3rd Panzer Army of Army Group «Center» was cut off from the 4th Field Army. Advancing at Mogilev direction of the joint of the 2nd Byelorussian Front and struck a strong defense in depth Germans, which the enemy had prepared on the rivers Pronya, Basia and the Dnieper. June 28 they released Mogilev. The departure 4th German army lost their organization, the enemy lost up to 33 thousand killed and captured.
Bobruisk offensive was to make the southern «claw» for a large environment, the hidden Russian General Headquarters. This operation is fully spent more powerful of fronts — 1st Belorussian under the command of Rokossovsky. Opposed the offensive of the Red Army’s 9th Army Wehrmacht. Had to tread on very difficult terrain — swamps. Dealt a blow June 24: from south-east to north-west, north uniformly rotating, moving the 65th Army baht (reinforced 1st Don Panzer Corps), from the east to the west came the third army Gorbatova with the 9th Panzer housing. For frisky breakthrough in the direction of Slutsky used the 28th Army Luchinskogo and 4th Guards Cavalry Corps Plieva. Army Dolishte and Luchinskogo rapidly broke through the defense surprised the enemy (Russian snuck in a few impassable swamp). But the 3rd Army Gorbatova had almost bite into orders Germans. The commander of the 9th Army Hans Jordan dropped against her own main reserve — the 20th Panzer Division. But soon he had to refocus its own reserve of the southern flank. 20th Panzer Division was not able to plug the breach. June 27th the main force of the 9th Army Field hit the «pot». Jordan was changed to General Foreman’s background, but the situation could not save it. Samples from inside and outside the blockade failed. Surrounded Bobruisk was panic, as the 27th began its assault. By the morning of June 29 Bobruisk was absolutely relieved. The Germans lost 74 killed and captured thousands of people. In the end, defeat the 9th Army both flanks of Army Group «Center» are open and free way to Minsk from the north-east and south-east.
June 29 followed by blow of the 1st Baltic Front to Polotsk. 6th Guards Army Chistyakov and 43rd Army Beloborodova bypassed the city from the south (the guards of the 6th Army has avoided Polotsk and the west), the 4th Shock Army Malyshev — from the north. 1st Tank Corps was freed Butkova Ushachi south of Polotsk and moved too far to the west. Then the surprise attack tankers seized a bridgehead on the west bank of the Dvina. But to take the Germans in the «ring» did not work — the commander of the garrison town of Carl Hilpert voluntarily left the «fortress», without waiting to be cut off the retreat of Russian troops. Polotsk was busy on July 4. As a result, the operation of Polotsk German command had lost the support of a strong and Fri railway hub. In addition, the threat has been eliminated flank the 1st Baltic Front, the positions of the German Army Group «North» have been set aside from the south and were under threat flank attack.
The German command, trying to rectify the situation, replaced the commander of Army Group «Center» Bush Field Marshal Walter Model’s. He was considered a master of defensive operations. In Belarus sent replacement parts, including the 4th, 5th and 12th Panzer Division.
4th German army in danger of imminent entourage retreated across the river Berezina. The situation was very complicated: the flanks were open, the retreating columns subjected to constant shocks Russian aircraft, attack the guerrillas. Pressure from the 2nd Belorussian Front, which is directly in front of the 4th Army was not strong, as the plans of the Russian command did not include the expulsion of German troops from the upcoming «boiler».
3rd Belorussian Front was advancing on two main fronts: on the south-west (towards Minsk) and west (on Vileika). 1st Belorussian Front stepped on Sluck, Shults and Minsk. Germans were feeble resistance, the main forces were defeated. June 30 was taken Sluck, and July 2, Shults, the Germans were cut escape routes in the south-west. By July 2 tank of the 1st Belorussian Front came to Minsk. Advancing units of the 3rd Belorussian Front had to withstand a fierce battle with the 5th Panzer Division (reinforced battalion of heavy tanks), which on June 26-28, arrived in the area of Borisov. This division was full-blooded, a few months did not participate in the fighting. In the course of several bloody battles took place last July 1-2, to the north-west of Minsk, Panzer Division lost almost all the tanks and has been abandoned. 3 July 2nd Armored Corps Burdeinogo rushed to Minsk from the north-west. At this time, from the south to the town came forward units Rokossovskogo. The German garrison was lean and stand for long, been to dinner Minsk released. As a result of the 4th Army and acceding units of other armies were in the encirclement. Reddish Army almost avenged «kettles» in 1941. Surrounded could not organize a long drag — the area surrounding exposed to fire through artillery fire, it is constantly bombarded, ammunition ended, there was no outside help. The Germans fought to the July 8-9, made several desperate attempts to break through, but all were defeated. July 8 and. about. Commander of the Army, Commander of the XII Army Corps Vincenz Muller signed the surrender. Prior to July 12 was a «clean-up», the Germans lost 72 thousand dead and more than 35 thousand were captured.
Poverty road network in Belarus and marshy woodland led to what many kilometers column of German troops huddled just 2-large highway — Zhlobin and Rogachevskoye where heavy attacks were Russian 16th Air Army. Some German units were virtually destroyed by the Zhlobin highway.
Photos of the destroyed German art from the area of the bridge across the Berezina.
The second step of the operation
The Germans tried to stabilize the situation. Army Chief of Staff Kurt Zeitzler proposed to transfer a group of armies «North» to the south, so that by means of its forces to build a new front. But this plan was cut off by Hitler for political judgments (cases with the Finns). In addition, opposed the naval command — leaving the Baltic aggravated messages with the same Finland and Sweden led to the loss of a number of naval bases and strong in the Baltic Fri. As a result, Zeitzler resigned and was replaced by Heinz Guderian. Model with own party tried to erect the latest defensive line that ran from Vilnius through Lida and Baranavičy to close the hole in the front width of about 400 km. But for that he was just an army of one — 2nd and residues from other armies. Therefore, the German High Command had to transfer to Belarus significant forces from other parts of the front and from the West. Prior to July 16 in Belarus was oriented 46 divisions, but these troops are not introduced into the battle immediately, parts, often «on wheels» and therefore they could not rapidly turn the tide.
From 5 to 20 July 1944 the forces of the 3rd Belorussian Front under the command of Ivan Chernyakhovsky Kuchma was held Vilnius operation. Solid defensive front the Germans at the Vilnius direction had not. July 7 of the 5th Guards Tank Army Rotmistrova and 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps Obukhov came to town and started his girth. An attempt to take the city on the move backfired. On the night of July 8 to Vilnius were moved up new German forces. July 8-9, the city was completely surrounded and began his assault. Samples Germans relieve the city from the west were repulsed. Last pockets of resistance were suppressed in Vilnius on July 13. Destroyed up to 8 million Germans captured five thousand people. 15 July of the front took several bridgeheads on the western bank of the Neman. Until the 20th day of the battle for the bridgeheads.
July 28 the troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front went to the new coming — they have aimed at Kaunas and Suwalki. July 30 was broken German defenses along the Neman, August 1, the Germans left Kaunas, so as not to get into the environment. Then the Germans received reinforcements and went to the counter-attack — battles were fought with varying success until the end of August. The front did not reach several kilometers to the border of East Prussia.
1st Baltic Front Baghramian puzzle got out to the sea to cut off the group «North». At the direction of the Dvina initially the Germans were able to keep coming, because the front created regrouping and expected reserves. Dvinsk was cleared with the assistance of the troops advancing to the right of the 2nd Baltic Front only on July 27. On the same day took Siauliai. By July 30 the front managed to separate the two groups of enemy armies apart — advanced parts of the Red Army cut the last metal road between East Prussia and the Baltic States in the area of Tukumsa. July 31 was captured Jelgava. 1st Baltic Front came out to the sea. The Germans were trying to get the connection back to the Army Group «North». Battles were fought with varying success, and in late August, a lull in the battle.
2nd Belarusian Front advancing to the West — to Nowogrodek and then Grodno and Bialystok. 49th Army Grishin and 50th Army Boldin involved in winding up the Minsk «boiler», because in the coming July 5 went only one army — 33rd. 33rd Army was advancing without meeting special resistance, going for 5 days 120-125 km. July 8 was released Nowogrodek, 9th Army reached the river Neman. July 10 in the coming joined the 50th Army and the troops crossed the Niemen. July 16 was released Grodno, the Germans had put up fierce resistance, was repulsed by a series of counterattacks. The German command tried to stop Russian troops, but it was not strong enough. July 27 was recaptured Bialystok. Russian warriors came to the border of the pre-war Russian Union. The front is not able to conduct meaningful environments, since it does not have in its composition of large mobile connections (tank, mechanized cavalry corps). August 14 was a busy Osovets and springboard for the Narew.
1st Belorussian Front advancing in the direction of Baranovichi-Brest. Almost immediately faced with the coming of the German reserves: went 4th Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division Hungary, 28th Light Infantry Division and other compounds. July 5-6, was a fierce battle. Evenly German forces were ground, they were inferior in number. In addition, Russian Front Air Force supported the massive compound, which has a significant effect on the Germans. July 6 was released Kovel. July 8 after a fierce battle had taken Baranovichi. July 14 took Pinsk, 20th Kobrin. July 20 Rokossovskogo of the run crossed the Bug. The Germans did not have time to do it on the defensive line. July 25 was made «pot» near Brest, but the 28th surrounded by the remains of the German group broke out of it (the Germans lost 7 thousand people killed). It should be noted that the fighting differ bitterness, no prisoners enough, but very many dead Germans.
22 July of the 2nd Panzer Army (front has been given during the second phase of the operation) came to Lublin. July 23 stormed the town, but because of the lack of infantry, he was delayed, the city really took to the morning of the 25th. In late July — early August, the front Rokossovskogo grabbed two huge springboard for the Vistula.
Results of operations
— As a result, the coming two months the Red Army was one hundred percent free of Nazis Snow White Rus, available part of the Baltic and eastern Poland. In general, in front of 1,100 km was achieved promotion troops to a depth of 600 km.
— It was the greatest defeat the Wehrmacht. There is even a perception that it was naikrupneyshee defeat the German armed forces during the second world war. Was defeated Army Group «Center», a group of armies «North» called into danger. Kinked powerful line of defense in Belarus, protected natural bottlenecking (swamps, rivers). German reserves were depleted, which had to be thrown into the battle to close the «hole.»
— Created a good foundation for the future coming to Poland and then to Germany. Thus, the 1st Belorussian Front took two huge springboard for the Vistula south of the capital of Poland (Magnushevsky and Pulavsky). In addition, in the Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive 1st Ukrainian Front took a foothold in Sandomierz.
— «Operation Bagration» was the triumph of Russian military art. Reddish Army «said» for «boiler» in 1941.
— Russian army lost to 178.5 thousand dead, missing and prisoners, as 587.3 thousand wounded and unhealthy. General loss of Germans — about 400 million people (according to other sources of more than 500 thousand).
Highway near Vitebsk.
IL-2 storms German column.
The column captured Germans.