Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany

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Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany


Vehicle marking of the GSSD. CA - Russian Советская Армия (Soviet Army)
active March 26, 1954 to August 31, 1994
Country Soviet UnionSoviet Union Soviet Union
Armed forces Soviet Army
Russian Armed Forces
Armed forces Land Forces Air Forces
structure See outline
headquarters Wünsdorf
Calls June 17, 1953
Prague Spring

Georgi Schukow
Iwan Konew
Iwan Jakubowski
Andrei Grechko
Matwei Sakharov
Viktor Kulikow

The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (short GSSD , Russian Группа советских войск в Германии Gruppa sowjetskich wojsk w Germanii ) were subdivisions of land and air forces of the Soviet Army , which from 1954 to 1991 in the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ), in the Democratic German Republic (GDR) and in the Federal Republic of Germany were stationed. From 1988, beyond the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, until the withdrawal of the then Russian troops in 1994, the official name was Western Group of Troops ( WGT for short , Russian Западная группа войск Sapadnaja gruppa wojsk ). In the Federal Republic they were also referred to as the Group of Soviet Troops in Germany (GSTD) .

The Soviet troops in the GDR represented the largest contingent of troops that an occupying power abroad had ever maintained for such a long period of time.


The military doctrine of the GSSD, whose combat strength was rated as high by the leadership of the Warsaw Pact , was designed to be offensive due to the high speed and high mobility of the fully motorized units, together with the air storm troops. The strongest massing was found in the area of ​​the 2nd Guards Panzer Army and 3rd Shock Army on the Hillersleben line in the Altmark via Neuruppin to Schwerin , and thus threatened the opposing NATO formations , especially from NORTHAG . In the event of an attack, a swift advance should break through NATO's defense and cut its supply lines. Tactical nuclear weapons systems deployed forward had to be overrun and counterattacks by the enemy to be crushed as early as possible. In the second phase, rooms were to be occupied in which Canadian, US or British reserves can be landed in order to prevent their intervention in the theater of war. Similar to NATO, the GSSD was able to implement the concept of combined arms combat in combat.


In 1982 the GSSD was equipped with modern weapon systems such as the T-72 , T-64 and BMP for highly mobile warfare. It had a total of between 5,000 and 7,000 main battle tanks and 2,350 armored personnel carriers . The Mot rifle regiments had had an armored artillery battalion with 18 122mm self-propelled howitzers since 1976 . In addition, there were eight ZSU-23/4 anti-aircraft tanks for each tank or motorized rifle regiment . The field and rocket artillery was modernized by the mid- 1970s . Including rocket launchers with a multiple of the firepower of the Katyushas . An artillery regiment consisted since 1977 from the regimental headquarters and 18 152mm M1955-Kanonenhaubitzen , howitzers M-43 and two battalions with 122mm-Kanonenhaubitzen M1963 . All GSSD divisions had had a missile battalion for long-range combat against targets up to 300 kilometers since 1978 .

The tactical air fleet had 120 reconnaissance aircraft, 680 fighters and fighter-bombers , 100 light bombers and 120 transporters and helicopters. The bulk of the fighter units consisted of all-weather fighters MiG-21 (Fishbed) , partly MiG-25 (Foxbat), Jak-28P (Brewer, Firebar or Maestro), and MiG-21 MF interceptors. The backbone of the fighter-bombers were the Su-7 BM (Fitter) and MiG-21 SMT (Fishbed). In addition, there were swivel-wing fighter-bombers such as the MiG-23 B (Flogger) and the long-range reconnaissance aircraft MiG-25 R. The front-line aircraft could use Mil Mi-24 combat helicopters (Hind) to support the ground troops .


The GSSD was formed on March 26, 1954 from the group of Soviet occupation troops in Germany ( GSBT or GSBTD ; Russian Группа советских оккупационных войск в Германии Gruppa sovjetskich Germaniichiichi okupazionny since 1945). After the end of the Second World War, the GSBT was composed of units from the First Belarusian Front , the Second Belarusian Front and the First Ukrainian Front of the Red Army . The seat of the high command was probably in Potsdam-Babelsberg until 1951/52 , before it was finally relocated to Wünsdorf .


These troops had the task of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Potsdam Agreement . In addition to the western border, they also secured the dismantling of industrial plants and carried out police duties during the Berlin crisis in 1948/49 . Above all, however, they served to enforce the military and political interests of the Soviet Union.

The strength of the GSBT from originally around 1.5 million men was reduced to 350,000 by the end of 1947. From 1949/50 onwards, due to the East-West conflict intensified by the Berlin crisis and the Korean War, the troops were reinforced and upgraded; the strength of the Soviet occupation forces grew to between 500,000 and 600,000 soldiers. Until 1953, the GSBT staff was closely associated with the Soviet military administration in Germany (until 1949) and then with the Soviet Control Commission (SKK). With the dissolution of the SKK on May 28, 1953, the occupation forces and administration were separated from each other. The commander-in-chief of the Soviet armed forces in Germany and the Soviet ambassador were the highest Soviet representatives in the GDR.

During the uprising of June 17th, the Soviet military leadership declared a state of emergency (martial law). The GSBT deployed the 1st and 14th Mechanized Divisions and the 12th Panzer Division in East Berlin with a total of 600 T-34 tanks . In the other parts of the country, too, the GSBT deployed another 13 divisions for security purposes.

On March 25, 1954, the Soviet government declared that the GDR should receive full sovereignty. One day later the GSBT was renamed the Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany (GSSD), which signaled the end of the occupation. The formal declaration of sovereignty also paved the way for the GDR to be included in the Warsaw Pact , which led to the signing of a state treaty between the Soviet Union and the GDR on September 20, 1955.

The main task of the GSSD was to secure the GDR against NATO . Their strong personnel and material resources, including nuclear weapons from the mid / late 1950s, clearly indicated their offensive orientation in accordance with Soviet military doctrine, which was perceived as a threat in the West.

Deployment agreement

Army locations

On March 12, 1957, the governments of the Soviet Union and the GDR agreed in an agreement on the temporary stay of Soviet armed forces on the territory of the GDR that the numerical strength of Soviet troops, their stationing locations and training rooms would be coordinated with the state organs of the GDR. This agreement also stipulated that the Soviet armed forces would not interfere in the internal affairs of the GDR.

1956/57 withdrew an army staff of the 18th Army and two divisions with a total of around 33,000 soldiers. From April to September 1959, Soviet medium-range missiles of the type R-5M ( NATO code name SS-3 Shyster ) were also stationed in the GDR in Fürstenberg and in Vogelsang (southeast of this city) with the 72nd Engineer Brigade.

In 1963 the GSSD had 386,000 soldiers, 46,000 of whom belonged to the 16th Air Army. The equipment included 7,500 tanks , 100 tactical missiles, 484 fighters , 146 fighter-bombers , 101 reconnaissance aircraft , 122 bombers and 80 helicopters .

In 1968 the GSSD troops were involved in the suppression of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia . The 1st Armored Guard Army (headquarters: Dresden) with four divisions, the 20th Guard Army with three divisions (a total of around 2000 tanks) and parts of the 16th Air Army were deployed.

By decision of the government of the USSR in 1979/80 around 20,000 members of the army, 1,000 tanks and numerous facilities were withdrawn from the territory of the GDR.

From 1968 to 1990 the GSSD kept nuclear warheads in the special weapons camps in Himmelpfort and Stolzenhain , which were to be issued to units of the NVA in the event of war. At major military airfields such as B. Grossenhain and Altenburg, nuclear weapons were stored. These locations were always kept secret from the population of the GDR.

In the course of perestroika and the associated shift in Soviet policy under Gorbachev , the GSSD began to be reduced. Between 1989 and 1991, all short-range nuclear missiles (NATO designation: SS-12 , SS-23 ), three armored divisions, an air storm brigade and pioneer translators were withdrawn, and in 1991 the 3rd Guard Spetsnaz Brigade .

During the change in the GDR in 1989/90 , the Soviet troops stayed in their barracks and did not intervene, which was a basic requirement for the success of the peaceful revolution.

By June 29, 1991 at the latest, no more Soviet nuclear weapons should have been stationed in Germany (not even the apparently last ones in Altengrabow ). In any case , this is what the last chief of the GSSD, Burlakow , said to the German army inspector at the time, Jörg Schönbohm .

As part of the two-plus-four treaty , which paved the way for German reunification , the withdrawal of Soviet troops by December 31, 1994 was agreed.


Withdrawal of Soviet weapons and equipment via the port in Rostock in 1991.

The withdrawal was the largest peace-time troop transfer in military history. In follow-up negotiations, the date was brought forward to August 31, 1994. In return, Germany, the Soviet Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States undertook to pay around 15 billion German marks to cover the costs of repatriation, retraining measures for soldiers and the construction of apartments. Despite the difficulties that arose from the dissolution of the Soviet Union during the same period, the withdrawal was completed on schedule and on schedule by the end of August 1994. Six Russian armies and other troop units were withdrawn. The return transport of the troops and the material took place mainly by sea via the port of Rostock and the ferry port of Sassnitz as well as by rail through Poland .

The Russian army said goodbye on June 25, 1994 with a military parade of the 6th Guards Mot in Wuhlheide. Rifle Brigade of Berlin. The farewell celebrations in Wünsdorf on June 11, 1994 and in Treptower Park in Berlin on August 31, 1994 marked the end of the Soviet military presence on German soil. The Russian President Boris Yeltsin and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl adopted the Western Group of Forces in an official ceremony in Berlin's Schauspielhaus am Gendarmenmarkt. On September 1, 1994, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Colonel General Matvej Burlakow, flew back to Moscow from the Sperenberg military airport . Finally, on September 9, the last soldiers from Schönefeld left German soil with the post-command and the Chief of Staff Colonel-General Terentjew .


Soviet sentry in Wittenberg , 1991
Abandoned site of the former Soviet armed forces near Stendal , 1991

GSBT associations 1945/1946

1. Belarusian Front
2nd Shock Army ( Headquarters (HQ) in Schwerin ), 1946 Relocation of the Army HQ to the reorganization of the Arkhangelsk Military District
3rd Shock Army ( Stendal )
5th Shock Army ( Olympic Village near Nauen ) (only until the end of 1945)
8. Guard Army ( Nohra )
47th Army ( Halle (Saale) ) (only until the end of 1945)
1st Armored Guard Army ( Radebeul near Dresden)
2nd Guard Armored Army ( Fürstenberg / Havel )
1st Guards Panzer Corps
11th Panzer Corps
2nd Guards Cavalry Corps
16th Air Army ( Woltersdorf )
Dnepr flotilla (only until the end of 1945)

GSSD 1971 (incomplete)

1st Guard Panzer Army
  • Independent 23rd Panzer Regiment / Army
  • 108th Panzer Regiment / 9th Armored Division
8th Guard Army
  • 20th Guards Panzer Division with T-54 battle tanks and T-10 heavy tanks
  • 20th Guard Mot. Rifle Division
  • 39th Guard Mot. Rifle Division
  • 57th Guard Mot. Rifle Division
  • 43rd Guards Artillery Brigade
  • Troop aviation units in
  • Air Warning Battalion
  • Night Reconnaissance Battalion
  • Anti-aircraft missile regiments with SA-4 Ganef mobile anti-aircraft missiles

GSSD 1982

In 1982 the GSSD was the strongest mass of Soviet troops in Central and Southeastern Europe with five armies with a total strength of 370,000 men and 1,020 aircraft of the 16th Tactical Air Fleet.

The five armies and twenty divisions were divided as follows:

2nd Guard Panzer Army (headquarters in Neubrandenburg )
3rd Shock Army (headquarters in Magdeburg )
8th Guards Panzer Army (headquarters in Weimar )
1st Guard Panzer Army ( Dresden headquarters )
20th Guards Panzer Army ( Eberswalde headquarters )
16. (Tactical) Front Air Army (headquarters in Wünsdorf near Zossen )

In the years 1979 / 1980 following Soviet troops in Central and Eastern Europe were deployed:

  • 31 divisions, including 20 (10 armored divisions) in the GDR and the 16th tactical air army
  • two armored divisions in Poland and the 37th Tactical Air Army
  • four (two armored divisions) in Hungary
  • five (two armored divisions) in the CSSR

A Soviet Mot rifle division had an average strength of about 11,000 men.

WGT 1991

The Soviet troops occupied 777 barracks in 276 locations on the territory of the GDR . This included 47 airfields and 116 military training areas . The practice areas that were cleared in Germany covered an area the size of the Saarland . They are the last large reserves of land in densely populated, industrial Europe. According to its own information, the WGT counted 337,800 soldiers in 24 divisions in January 1991 , divided into five land armies and one air army. There were also 208,400 family members of officers and civilian employees, including around 90,000 children.

Most of the sites were in what is now the state of Brandenburg . The high command of the GSSD / WGT was in Wünsdorf .

In 1991 the WGT were structured as follows:

Directly subordinated to units and units
  • 35th Guard Air Storm Brigade (Cottbus)
  • 3rd Guard Special Reconnaissance Brigade ( Neuthymen )
  • 82nd Osnaz Brigade (Merseburg) Electronic reconnaissance
  • 34th Artillery Division (Potsdam)
    • 286th Heavy Guard Howitzer Brigade (Potsdam)
    • 288th Heavy Howitzer Brigade (Chemnitz)
    • 303rd Guards Artillery Brigade (Altengrabow)
    • 307th Breakthrough Artillery Brigade (Chemnitz)
  • 164th Missile Brigade (Drachhausen)
  • 175th Missile Brigade (Oschatz)
1st Guard Panzer Army (Dresden)
2nd Guard Panzer Army (Fürstenberg / Havel)
3rd Army (Magdeburg)
8th Guard Army (Nohra near Weimar)
20th Guard Army
16th Air Army (Wünsdorf)

Other Information

Main battle tank of the type T-80BW

In 1991, the equipment on weapons and equipment still included:

  • 4,200 main battle tanks
  • 8,200 armored vehicles
  • 3,600 guns
  • 106,000 other motor vehicles
  • 690 aircraft
  • 680 helicopters
  • 180 missile systems
  • 95,500 motor vehicles
  • 677,000 tons of ammunition

As well as numerous air defense, engineer and other combat and combat support brigades and units.

A tank regiment of the WGT usually had 94 main battle tanks ( T-64 or T-80 ) a 3 battalions of 31 battle tanks, 43 armored personnel carriers ( BMP-2 ) a 1 battalion, four anti-aircraft missile systems 9K35 Strela-10 a 1 battery and 18 Self-propelled guns 2S1 a 1 battalion with 3 batteries.

A combat helicopter regiment had 26-42 Mi-24s , 9-20 Mi-8s and 3-4 Mi-9s . The 239th helicopter regiment in Oranienburg , the 113th helicopter squadron in Sperenberg and the 292nd helicopter squadron in Cochstedt were directly subordinate to the staff of the WGT .

Commander in chief

The following list contains the commanders in chief of the Soviet occupation forces in Germany , the group of Soviet troops in Germany and the western group of troops in chronological order.

The first three commanders-in-chief were in personal union chiefs of the SMAD .




Military Council of the WGT

The following generals belonged to the military council of the WGT in June 1993:

  • WGT Commander in Chief - Colonel General MP Burlakow
  • First Deputy of the Commander-in-Chief of the WGT - Colonel General AN Mityukhin
  • Deputy Commander in Chief of the WGT for the withdrawal of troops - Lieutenant General SV Chernilevskyi
  • Chief of Staff of the WGT - Lieutenant General AW Terentjew
  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the WGT for Rear Services - Lieutenant General VI Isakov
  • Deputy Commander in Chief of the WGT for Armaments - Major General VN Shulikov
  • Commander of the 16th Air Army - Lieutenant General AF Tarasenko
Chief of Staff
  • MS Malinin - 1945-1948
  • SP Ivanov - 1948-1952
  • SM Shtemenko - 1952-1953
  • AP Tarasov - 1953-1956
  • Sidelnikov NP - 1956-1959
  • GF Vorontsov - 1959–1961
  • GI Ariko - 1961-1966
  • WW Turantiev - 1966-1970
  • WS Jakuschin - 1970–1974
  • DA Grinkevich - 1974 -?

Soviet military tribunals

At least formally, the Soviet military tribunals (SMT) were subordinate to the GSSD and the WGT. They could take convicts to their own detention centers .

Contact with life in the GDR

Autographs of Soviet soldiers in the forest near Jena

The Soviet troops were stationed in many locations across the GDR. Although they were largely isolated, they also came into contact with GDR citizens in some cases, even if they were often traffic accidents or crime . Officially, this happened on the basis of a request for help from government agencies when natural disasters or technical accidents occurred . For example, soldiers of the Soviet Army used heavy equipment to help with salvage and clearance work during floods , bad weather such as snowdrifts and accidents in large industrial combinations .

Another incident that occurred almost regularly was the help of soldiers in bringing in the grain and root crop on the fields of the LPG or the VEG (nationally owned goods). There were also organized social encounters and talks, especially between schoolchildren and adolescents with the military. Sometimes addresses were exchanged or small friendship gifts were given. There were also friendly contacts with units of the National People's Army .

Contact often came about when the stationed troops used local companies for handicraft services or the like.

The presence of uniformed Soviet citizens in the country, which, however, was mostly restricted to life in the strictly shielded barracks, has, in addition to the mentioned souvenirs and memorabilia, occasionally left its mark on the public, as shown by autographs on the bark of the trees originated during walks.

The structural remains of the GSSD were partially removed after 1994, when the troops were withdrawn from East Germany.

See also


  • Hans-Albert Hoffmann, Siegfried Stoof: The Soviet troops in Germany - your headquarters in Wünsdorf . Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-00-023449-1 .
  • Silke Satjukow : Occupiers - "The Russians" in Germany 1945–1994. Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36380-5 .
  • Klaus Froh, Rüdiger Wenzke : The Generals and Admirals of the NVA - A biographical manual. 4th edition. Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-86153-209-3 .
  • Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk , Stefan Wolle : Red Star over Germany. Soviet troops in the GDR. 2nd edition, Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-584-3 .
  • Matvej P. Burlakov : Sovetskie vojska v Germanii - 1945–1994 / Pamjatnyj aĺbom [Soviet troops in Germany]. Molodaja Gwardija, Moscow 1994, ISBN 5-235-02221-1 .
  • Matvej P. Burlakov: We say goodbye as friends - The withdrawal / notes of the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Group of the Soviet Armed Forces: Bonn [u. a.] 1994, ISBN 3-906501-08-6 .
  • Bernhard Mroß: They left as friends - The withdrawal of the western group of Soviet-Russian troops / 10. Anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet-Russian troops from Germany (1994-2004) / Interpreter recordings in snapshots: Harrislee 2005.
  • Frank Gaudlitz, Thomas Kumlehn: The Russians go - The withdrawal of an army / Frank Gaudlitz, Fotogr .; Thomas Kumlehn, minutes of the meeting. With a chronicle by Lothar Engelhardt . Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-86163-057-5 .
  • Thilo Gehrke: The legacy of the Soviet Army in Germany, a picture and text documentation, contributions for peace research and security policy, Vol. 29 , Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-89574-684-0 .
  • Joachim Liebe, Rolf Schneider: The red star dies quietly - the Russians leave Germany / Photo: Joachim Liebe, essay: Rolf Schneider. Dietz, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-320-01866-3 .
  • Gerhard Kaiser: Sperrgebiet - The secret command centers in Wünsdorf since 1871. With photographs by Christian Thiel, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-86153-059-7 .
  • Karl-Heinz Lezim: Shoulder to Shoulder - A picture documentation about the class and brotherhood in arms of the citizens of the GDR and the members of the National People's Army with members of the Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany (GSSD). Published by the Political Headquarters of the NVA, Military Publishing House of the GDR , Berlin 1984.
  • Jörg Morré, Stefan Büttner: Soviet legacies in Berlin and Brandenburg . Ch. Links, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86153-802-8 .
  • Michail Boltunov: ZGV - Gor'kaja doroga domoj. Saint-Petersburg 1995, ISBN 5-900740-10-2 .
  • Horst Lohmann: GSSD - The group of the Soviet armed forces in Germany. A historical summary. Publishing house p + v Dr. Erwin Meißler, November 2010, ISBN 978-3-932566-81-3 .
  • Nobody goes quite . In: Die Zeit , No. 14/2014.
  • Museum Berlin-Karlshorst: The trigger. The last years of the Russian troops in Germany. A photographic documentation by Detlev Steinberg. Ch.links, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86153-814-1 .
  • Carlos Gomes: Lenin is alive. His monuments in Germany, Berlin 2020, pp. 45–75 "Monuments of the GSSD" About the monument landscape on the military facilities of the GSSD

Web links

Commons : Group of the Soviet Armed Forces in Germany  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dr. Ulrrich Rühmland: The group of the Soviet armed forces in Germany. ASMZ No. 7. 1982
  2. z. B. Using an Operational Maneuver Group (OMG)
  3. ↑ In the rear fighting area there is space for a mounted Mot rifle group of ten men
  4. according to Adelbert Weinstein : The concept for the use of the Soviet troops in Germany. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. March 21, 1979. Other sources put 10,500 medium to heavy tanks or 5,000 to 6,000 main battle tanks
  5. three batteries of six self-propelled howitzers each
  6. ^ The Soviet High Command in Potsdam-Babelsberg . In: Berlins Taiga - Your companion for excursions into Soviet history . July 14, 2017 ( [accessed July 14, 2017]).
  7. Military History Research Office. Structure and deployment (the GSSD / WGT). Retrieved January 21, 2019 .
  8. ^ Märkische Allgemeine , April 19, 2012, page 3.
  9. Horst Beutler: Landscape in a new definition - Russian military training areas . Findling Verlag, 2000, ISBN 978-3-93360-311-1 .
  10. Do swidanja with a song in German . In: Berliner Zeitung , June 21, 1994.
  11. The President also has a sauna in his hotel suite . In: Berliner Zeitung , August 31, 1994.
  12. Russian troop withdrawal: Farewell, second class ., August 31, 1994; Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  13. ^ Stefan Büttner: 20 years of troop withdrawal. Russians leave Germany. In: Fliegerrevue , No. 09/2014, p. 51.
  14. According to the GDR manual (published by the Federal Ministry for Inner-German Issues, under the scientific direction of Peter Christian Ludz and Johannes Kuppe, Cologne. 1979) even 425,000 men
  15. Structure of the Soviet air armies into air corps, air division, squadron, squadron, chain and pair
  16. Squadron (regiment) - four squadrons of 12 aircraft each, one squadron with three chains of four aircraft each and a chain of two pairs
  17. according to Military Balance. Boarding school Institute f. Strategic Studies, London, published in the Bernard & Gräfe current series. Volume 13. Ed. Working Group for Defense Research, Munich 1980
  18. ^ Soviet troops in Germany 1945 to 1994, memorial album, edition Moscow, published by "Jang Guard", 1994; ISBN 5-235-02221-1 , pages 15-22.
  19. Russian Troops Bid 'Wiedersehen' to Germany : New York Times article from September 1, 1994 (accessed February 10, 2017)
  20. ^ Lutz Freundt: Soviet Air Force Germany 1945-1994. Airfields (part 2) and units. Volume 2. Edition Freundt Eigenverlag, Diepholz, 1998, ISBN 3-00-002665-7 , p. 37.
  21. ^ Soviet troops in Germany 1945 to 1994, memorial album, Moscow edition, «Junge Garde» publishing house, 1994; ISBN 5-235-02221-1 , pages 74 and 75 - Commander-in-Chief….
  22. ^ Members of the WGT Wünsdorf military council, June 1993; Moscow, «Junge-Garde-Verlag», 1994; Soviet troops in Germany 1945–1994: memorial album… page 113; ISBN 5-235-02221-1 .