Operation Bagration

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Operation Bagration
Abandoned war material of the German 9th Army near Babrujsk (Belarus) at the end of June 1944
Abandoned war material of the German 9th Army near Babrujsk (Belarus) at the end of June 1944
date June 22, 1944 to August 20, 1944
place Belarus , Soviet Union , Poland , German Empire
output Victory of the Soviet Union
consequences Collapse of the German Army Group Center
Parties to the conflict

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire

Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union Soviet Union


German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) E. Busch W. Model G.-H. Reinhardt H. Jordan K. v. Tippelskirch W. Weiss
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)

Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union AI Antonov K. K. Rokossovsky H. Baghramjan I. D. Chernyachovsky G. F. Sakharov
Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union
Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union
Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union
Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union

Troop strength
850,000 soldiers
3,236 guns, mortars and rocket launchers
570 tanks and StuG
602 aircraft
1,400,000 soldiers
31,000 artillery pieces, mortars and rocket launchers
5,200 tanks and
5,300 StuG aircraft

399,102 men,
26,397 killed
109,776 wounded
262,929 prisoners
(according to Frieser)

765,815 men,
178,507 dead and missing
587,308 wounded
(according to Frieser)

Operation Bagration ( Russian Операция Багратион ; named after General Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration ) was the code name of a major offensive by the Red Army during World War II on the German-Soviet front . It began on June 22, 1944 with the attack from four Soviet fronts against the German Army Group Center with the initial aim of recapturing the Belarusian capital Minsk . However, it soon expanded into a comprehensive operational success for the Soviet troops, which was only temporarily stopped at the end of August 1944 on the Vistula , on the borders of East Prussia and near Riga. In terms of military history, this “Soviet Blitzkrieg ” is considered to be the successful implementation of the military strategy Deep Operation .

The successful Soviet offensive led to the complete collapse of Army Group Center and the loss of 28 divisions of the Wehrmacht . It is considered to be the worst and most costly defeat in German military history . The Wehrmacht could no longer compensate for the losses suffered during these battles. From then on, until the end of the war, the German eastern front was only able to stabilize temporarily and locally. "With the collapse of Army Group Center in the summer of 1944, the agony of the German warfare began in the East," said the military historian Hermann Gackenholz.

Operation Bagration not only made a decisive contribution to the German defeat in the war, it also had a lasting influence on political development. The German defeat was now finally inevitable; the Wehrmacht's hopes of at least being able to force the Red Army to negotiate peace were dashed. The Soviet victories led the Polish Armia Krajowa (Home Army) to an uprising with the aim of liberating Poland independently from German occupation and to forestall an occupation of the country by the Red Army. Furthermore, under the impression of the catastrophic setbacks at the front, the members of the German military resistance decided to risk a coup on July 20, 1944 . It is also important that during the Soviet offensive, German concentration and extermination camps were liberated on a large scale for the first time , which made extensive information about the existence of the Holocaust available to a broader international public .


The army groups of the German Wehrmacht fighting in the Soviet Union were permanently on the defensive until early summer 1944 after the large-scale enterprise citadel offensive was broken off in July 1943. The German troops had to evacuate large parts of the Soviet territory. In the south, by May 12, most of the Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula defended by Army Groups in Northern and Southern Ukraine had been lost (→ Dnepr-Carpathian Operation , Battle of Crimea ). The troops of the Red Army in Romania had left the territory of the Soviet Union for the first time since the beginning of the German-Soviet War . In the north, against the resistance of Army Group North , the Leningrad blockade was finally broken in January 1944 and the Soviet troops stood on the border of the former Baltic states (→ Leningrad-Novgorod operation ).

Location of Army Group Center in early summer 1944

Only Army Group Center managed to hold the territory of Belarus by and large until late spring 1944. As a result, in the early summer of 1944, however, this Army Group was the major German force deployed furthest east and was in a dangerously exposed position.

Plans of the Wehrmacht leadership

Since the defeat of Stalingrad  - but at the latest since the failure of the Citadel enterprise  - the Wehrmacht leadership no longer had a strategy aimed at a victory in the German-Soviet war, even if the Nazi propaganda spread otherwise. The aim of all efforts since the summer of 1943 was rather to avert at least a total defeat and thus the end of the Nazi regime by inflicting such heavy losses on the Red Army that Stalin would agree to end the war in a draw peace . At the German management level, however, there was disagreement about how this negotiated peace should be achieved.

Shortening the main battle line
Field Marshal Ernst Busch (left) together with commanders of Army Group Center (May – June 1944)

For the commanders of Army Group Center it was clear that the territory of Belarus could not be defended in the long term. The staff of the Army Group therefore worked out plans that included a step-by-step retreat to a front line that greatly shortened the approximately 1,000 kilometers long Belarusian front projection. This should enable a stronger occupation of the shortened main battle line (HKL), gain reserves and create better defensive options for enemy offensives. The implementation of this measure was requested by the Army Group Commander General Field Marshal Ernst Busch at the competing command posts of the High Command of the Army (OKH) and the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW).

"Fixed places" as a breakwater

However, these plans met with the resistance of Hitler , who had personally taken over the management of the OKH since December 1941. For political and ideological reasons, Hitler was not prepared to allow large-scale withdrawals. He had recognized that the Red Army had become much stronger than at the beginning of the war; However, with the concept of “ fixed places ”, which he developed himself as a breakwater , he mistakenly meant that he could hold the Soviet territories still under German control and that the Red Army's advantage of strength, which should “bleed out” here, could again be turned in his favor . In the area of ​​Army Group Center, the cities of Vitebsk , Orsha , Minsk , Mogilew and Bobruisk were defined by Hitler on March 8, 1944 as “permanent places”. According to his ideas, they should also serve as the starting point for a new German offensive towards the east at a later point in time, because Hitler still believed a victory over the Soviet Union to be possible.

Decision for the "fixed places"

At the decisive staff meeting on May 20, 1944, Hitler accused Field Marshal Busch of being one of those generals who “look backwards”. At that moment, Busch was not in a position to advocate what he considered to be the correct solution for retreat and gave in to Hitler. Despite violent protests on the part of the army commanders subordinate to Busch, the HKL was not shortened. Shortly after Hitler had got his way, the commander of the 4th Army, Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici, called in sick, because Heinrici's views on the future of the war were diametrically opposed to the action taken by the OKH. On June 4, General of the Infantry Kurt von Tippelskirch took over command.

With the exception of Vitebsk, a front division was assigned to defend the “permanent positions” and all resources were made available for the construction of additional defensive positions. The Vitebsk fixed place received three divisions as a particularly exposed place, although the commander of the 3rd Panzer Army , Colonel General Reinhardt , protested against it several times. For example, between 15,000 and 25,000 inhabitants were forcibly recruited from the 3rd Panzer Army to build the defenses. The fortification work continued permanently.

In addition, forced laborers for the German war economy were deported to the Reich on a large scale , and residents unable to work were deported to Soviet-controlled areas. (→ Osarichi death camp )

Assessment of the intentions of the Red Army

The OKH anticipated an offensive by the Red Army in the summer of 1944. The Foreign Armies East department under Major General Reinhard Gehlen expected the main thrust of this attack in the area of Army Group Northern Ukraine towards the Polish capital Warsaw to the mouth of the Vistula. The German generals feared that this attack would cut off supplies to Army Groups North and Center. This would have resulted in a collapse of the entire German eastern front. In particular, General Field Marshal Walter Model , as the commander of Army Group Northern Ukraine, vigorously defended this thesis.

According to the assessment of the military historian Robert Stephan, this German miscalculation of the opposing troop movements in the run-up to the Soviet offensive was the most serious mistake made by the Foreign Armies East Department during the German-Soviet War.

The Red Army took care of this error of the Foreign Armies East Department with massive secrecy and deception. The route slips of the freight wagons were labeled with destinations far away from the actual destinations, the actual destination was coded with dots due to apparently random soiling.

General condition of Army Group Center

Photo of a caricature made by a soldier in the 134th Infantry Division in late 1943 or early 1944. Text in the picture: The 134th Inf. Division on the Victory Parade 1950 in Berlin. "I think we should have replaced them sooner!" - Hitler, Goering and Goebbels can be seen on a pedestal. The picture symbolizes the overall condition of Army Group Center.

Until the summer of 1944, Army Group Center was the strongest major German unit in the Soviet Union. Due to the increasingly poor strategic overall situation of the German Reich since the Allied landings in Italy (July 1943, Operation Husky ) and in Normandy (June 1944, Operation Overlord ) in a multi-front war, the condition of this large unit also deteriorated increasingly. As a result of insufficient supplies, there was a shortage of operational soldiers, vehicles, aircraft, fuel and ammunition. In the words of the German military historian Karl-Heinz Frieser , Army Group Center was therefore a “house of cards before the collapse” in the early summer of 1944.

The morale and physical condition of the soldiers deployed in the Army Group were poor due to a general stagnation, bad news from other theaters of war and supply shortages. Some of the German soldiers hoped that the war would end soon after the Allied landings in Normandy.

The number of desertions increased, especially among the Wehrmacht volunteers from the Soviet Union , because the increasingly critical war situation in the Third Reich made its imminent defeat more and more probable. The propaganda of the National Committee Free Germany , which was set up and promoted by the Soviet Union, was intensified, but had relatively little effect on the mostly Nazi-indoctrinated German soldiers.

The German soldiers had been chronically malnourished in many cases since the winter of 1941/42, as the German Reich had scarcely any food reserves due to the long war and it was no longer possible to provide the prescribed food rates. The resulting permanent vitamin deficiency disorders, together with other deficiency symptoms, led to lower physical performance, if the field units were not able to supplement or cover their own food needs in the areas they occupied by looting or provisionally compulsory agriculture. Alcohol and stimulants, on the other hand, were often plentiful.

Gross violations of the regulations or rebellion against superiors were due to Nazi propaganda , the relentless maintenance of discipline by the German officer corps, as well as the dreaded reputation of the German military police ("chain dogs") and the increasingly harsher judgments of the military justice until the summer of 1944 the exception.

Partisan war in Belarus

Members of the Kaminski Brigade and German police officers during a meeting (March 1944)
Soviet partisans in Belarus (1943)
Belarusian youths from the Belarusian Youth Office march in Minsk in the direction of the train station, they are to be trained in Germany for military service (June 1944)

Large parts of the area occupied by Army Group Center were controlled by Soviet partisan units since 1942, which were coordinated and monitored by a special department of the NKVD under Lieutenant General Panteleimon Kondratjewitsch Ponomarenko . The densely wooded, little developed area (→ Wehrmachtsloch ) favored the operations of such groups significantly. These Soviet partisans, which many of the surviving Belarusian Jews had also joined, were often very well organized. In contrast to a myth coined in the times of the Soviet Union, their appearance towards the Belarusian rural population was mostly characterized by the brutal requisitioning of food and other goods.

In addition to these pro-Soviet groups, there were partisans of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK), especially in the Polish part of Belarus , who fought not only the German occupiers, but also the pro-Soviet partisans from autumn 1943. In the former Polish Voivodeship Volhynia , AK began to take control of entire areas from the same time. This enterprise failed because of German security groups, which pushed the AK fighters into the western Pripjet swamps until the beginning of June 1944.

The Belarusian civilian population had to deliver food and clothing to all groups and was in an increasingly critical situation due to the increasingly anarchic conditions. This led to more and more Belarusians collaborating with the German occupiers out of their need if they did not go to the pro-Soviet partisans. The Belarusians were hostile to the Poles because of the disadvantages they suffered during the period of Polish rule in the western part of the country. The Belarusian nationalists, who had been suppressed during the time of the Soviet and Polish occupation because of their striving for an independent state (→ Smizer Schylunowitsch ), mostly sided with the Germans. They had been organized in the Belarusian Home Guard since March 1944 and pursued the creation of an independent Belarusian state. These efforts were supported by the Germans, but also observed with suspicion.

Due to the rapidly growing number of partisan attacks since the autumn of 1942, large-scale Wehrmacht, SS and, from autumn 1943, the brigade of Russian collaborators led by Bronislaw Wladislawowitsch Kaminski , under the leadership of SS Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski , allegedly took place against the partisans held in this area. These retaliatory measures, carried out with inhuman severity, led to the murder of thousands of Belarusian civilians and the deportation of thousands of people for forced labor to Germany. The places where the supposed or actual partisans lived were completely destroyed. For example, in the course of “anti-partisan operations” in the Polotsk region during April and May 1944, a total of 7,011 people were murdered, 6,928 prisoners were taken and 11,233 people were deported to Germany as labor. The partisans operating in the vicinity of Polotsk were greatly weakened by this procedure. Soviet ground and air strikes carried out in support of the partisan units brought them no relief.

The mass murders and deportations by the German occupiers were only of local importance for the course of the war: there were still large, mainly forested areas in central Belarus and west of Minsk that were completely controlled by partisan associations such as the Bielski partisans could even be supplied by the Red Army via makeshift airfields. These areas provided a good basis for the Soviet military reconnaissance (→ Glawnoje Raswedywatelnoje Uprawlenije ), which operated a total of 61 listening posts in the rear of the Army Group and was able to smuggle agents into the German sphere of influence via the partisan bases.

Partisan disruptive action, third phase of Operation "Railway War"

The Soviet partisans were guided in their activities by officers of the NKVD so that they could work in coordination with the Red Army. After a sufficient network of connections had been created , sabotage operations directly from Moscow began , one of the most important of which was the "Operation Railway War", which began in the summer of 1943. Their main goal was to disrupt German supplies by blowing up the railway lines used for this purpose. This was a sensitive interference with the freedom of movement of the Germans, since the railway lines were the only transport routes that offered sufficient capacity for the rapid relocation of larger units of regimental or divisional strength.

The third phase of "Operation Railway War" took place shortly before the start of the Soviet attack. On the night of 19 to 20 June, the partisan units that were in Belarus began so that railway lines Pinsk - Luninets , Borisov -Orscha and Molodetschno -Polozk that the only leading in the area of the armies of Army Group Center rail links were to systematically blow up. The 10,500 explosive charges laid by 145,000 partisans completely interrupted the supply of the German troops for 48 hours, although around 3500 of the explosives could be defused. This action was the largest sabotage attack of the Second World War.

After the start of the Soviet offensive, Soviet partisan detachments began to support the Red Army's operations. For example, they tried specifically to bring localities under their control. This happened, for example, in the town of Dokschizy, which was razed to the ground due to a partisan attack and the subsequent German counter-attack.

Preparations for attack by the Red Army

On the Soviet side, after the end of the Kamenez-Podolski battle on April 15, offensive operations on the western front line were stopped by the headquarters of the command of the Supreme Commander (Stawka) until the beginning of June 1944 , in order to generate forces for large offensives to evict everyone Gathering occupation troops from the Soviet Union territory . Fighting with the German 17th Army took place on the Crimean peninsula until May , which ended with the capture of the port city of Sevastopol by Soviet troops and the extensive destruction of the 17th Army.

Planning the offensive in Belarus

After the units of Army Group South , which had borne the brunt of the fighting on the Eastern Front from summer 1943 to April 1944, had been significantly weakened and largely ousted from Soviet territory, Army Group Central was still a major obstacle for the Soviet troops As expected by the German generals, an advance in the area of ​​Army Group Northern Ukraine in the direction of Warsaw was the obvious choice. However, in April 1944, the Stawka decided to attack in Belarus instead.

Army General Alexei Innokentyevich Antonov

The planning of the offensive was carried out by the Chief of Operations Staff of the Red Army Army General Alexei Innokentjewitsch Antonov . Antonov's plans were adopted by Marshals Vasilevsky and Zhukov and presented to Stalin and the other commanders involved on May 20, 1944. There was a dispute between the commander of the 1st Belarusian Front, Rokossovsky , and Stalin. Contrary to the original requirement, the general insisted on carrying out a pincer attack with two thrusts on the positions of the German 9th Army. Rokossowski finally prevailed and the plans were revised. Stalin then approved its execution on May 31 and named the offensive after the Georgian-Russian general Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration .

The date for the start should be coordinated with the planned Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, under the cover name Operation Overlord , in accordance with the arrangements made at the Tehran Conference . Some historians believe that the agreement was not honored because June 22, 1944 was, from the Soviet perspective, a far better date for an attack, which was clearly viewed as a revenge for the German invasion of the Soviet Union three years earlier and because between the Partners of the anti-Hitler coalition already had differences. Other sources cite logistical problems during the Soviet deployment as the reason for the delayed start. This is also plausible due to the excessive capacity of the Soviet railway network, which was badly damaged by the war and which had to be used to transport armies from other front and rear areas to Belarus in a very short time.

Deployment of the Red Army

The Wehrmacht had proven in recent months that it was capable of inflicting heavy losses on attackers. In line with the assessment that Army Group Center was the strongest German unit, a large number of Red Army units were therefore concentrated in Belarus in order to create a superior personnel and material power compared to Army Group Center that was considered necessary for success.

The Soviet armaments industry, which has now become very efficient, enabled the Red Army to amass a gigantic amount of war material. The number of available weapons rose to an order of magnitude not previously achieved. Due to the extensive recruitment measures since the beginning of the German-Soviet War, there were enough well-trained soldiers available. In addition, the Soviet Union now also received effective support from Allied arms deliveries, which were made available through the Persian Corridor as part of the implementation of the Lending and Lease Act . The Soviet troops were fully motorized with 12,000 trucks, while the German troops had been largely dependent on horse-drawn vehicles for transport tasks since the invasion. For example, the German 3rd Panzer Army used around 60,000 horses.

A fuel consumption of 25,000 tons per day was estimated for all vehicles of the Red Army, which could also be provided without any problems. In contrast, the German units suffered more and more often from a lack of fuel as a result of the increasingly precise US air strikes on oil fields and hydrogenation plants of the Axis powers.

General condition of the Soviet troops

The morale of the Soviet soldiers on the Belarusian section of the front was similar to that of the German troops until June 1944, which was due to the general tiredness of war and the lack of events on this section of the front. As with their German opponent, the supply of alcoholic beverages in the form of samogon and vodka was very good, in contrast to other supplies. A number of Soviet officers enriched themselves by looting aid supplies that were actually intended for the population of the areas liberated by the Red Army. Even when, as a result of various ordered preparations, it became clear that a major offensive was imminent, the mood of the soldiers did not improve significantly.

The Soviet leadership nevertheless used the several months break in combat to improve the soldiers' level of training. A coordinated approach of the attacking infantrymen was trained, to which little value had previously been placed. During the previous three years of the war, the Soviet soldiers had often simply rushed head-on towards the German positions and suffered exorbitant losses as a result. In the first year of the war in particular, they knew that the machine guns of so-called “Sperrabteilung” were behind them, which in the event of a panic would immediately shoot the remnants of a wave of attacks from their own soldiers who were fleeing backwards. (→ Order No. 227 ) In the course of the fighting in the summer of 1944, turning away from this inefficient tactic of "burning up" proved to be sensible and decisive in the battle.

Maskirowka - disguise the Soviet preparations

Survey results of the FHO for the Vitebsk sector (June 21, 1944)
Actual formation and intentions of the Red Army in the Vitebsk sector
Concealment of the Soviet attack plans:
The figure above shows the line-up and attack intentions of the Red Army in the Vitebsk sector on June 21, 1944, known to the German reconnaissance. Below you can see the actual line-up and the planned directions of attack. The 6th Guards Army and the 5th Guards Panzer Army, which remained undetected until the start of the Soviet offensive, are highlighted in purple.

In order to keep the OKW in the dark about the intended thrust of the attack, extensive Maskirowka measures (camouflage) were set in motion by Antonov and Zhukov and specifically started on May 29, 1944 for the planned offensive in Belarus. The aim of this military action was to simulate Soviet troop concentrations by means of dummies in front of the front section of Army Group South Ukraine through the 3rd Ukrainian Front and to cover up the actual deployment in Belarus. That was not easy with the massive troop movements that Operation Bagration required, but the Red Army succeeded. German reconnaissance planes operated unmolested over the apparent concentrations of Soviet troops in Ukraine, so that the dummies erected there were photographed and the images were passed on to the German General Staff. The real troop movements of the Red Army, however, took place at night. The Soviet side kept radio silence , so that the German telecommunications reconnaissance won no information.

During the reconnaissance of the Soviet forces in the area of Army Group Center , for whose evaluation and situation assessment and assessment the Foreign Armies East department under Gehlen was responsible, the 6th Guards Army and the 5th Guards Panzer Army remained from the beginning of 1944 until Beginning of the Soviet operation Bagration undetected.

The Soviet high command's deception was largely successful. The German OKW was not informed of its intended direction of attack until the actual start of the offensive, but, contrary to the suggestion of the Soviet Maskirowka, suspected it in the area of ​​the Army Group Northern Ukraine. Although the concentration of Soviet forces in the area of ​​Army Group Center was observed and reported at corps level and the management level of the Army Group had been aware since June 10 that an offensive would take place in their sector of the front, the Army High Command ( OKH) removed strong forces from Army Group Center in accordance with the instructions of OKW and strengthened Army Group Northern Ukraine.

After the Allies landed in France on June 6, 1944 , other German units that had previously been deployed in the area of ​​Army Group Center were withdrawn to reinforce the troops stationed in France. The front in Italy also received large quantities of ammunition, which in turn the units of Army Group Center lacked. These factors also weakened the Germans' ability to defend themselves.

Despite the massive deployment of Soviet troops, the German front lines were surprised by the extent of the attack. Due to the Red Army's deception maneuvers, the German OKW ignored the signs of an imminent attack and did not arrange for its own forces to be regrouped. According to General von Tippelskirch's later statements, the German army commanders and corps commanders also misjudged the actual balance of power and the defense capabilities of their units. Even when the Soviet troops removed obstacles on June 20 that were in the way of advancing to the German defense lines, there was still no reaction on the part of the German generals. The German soldiers deployed at the front of Army Group Center waited with full eyes for their downfall.

In contrast, thanks to their military intelligence, the Soviet leadership had a very precise overview of the position of the German forces. The Soviet generals were therefore certain that the Germans were not prepared for the offensive. When grouping their forces, the Soviet commanders paid special attention to the high concentration of troops at relatively narrow breakthrough points.


Overview map of the overall course of Operation Bagration from June 22, 1944 to August 29, 1944. The attack operations of the Red Army during the first phase are shown in red, the subsequent ones in orange. German counterattacks are in dark blue.

The Soviet plan of attack envisaged three sections of the front on which a breakthrough through the German lines should take place.

The first main objective was the elimination of the German 3rd Panzer Army and the capture of the permanent positions in Vitebsk and Orsha . This task was to be carried out by the 1st Baltic Front under the command of Army General Hovhannes Baghramjan in coordination with the neighboring 3rd Belarusian Front under Army General Ivan Danilowitsch Tschernjachowski .

The second focus of the Soviet offensive was an attack by the 2nd Belarusian Front under the command of General Georgi Fyodorowitsch Sakharov on the positions of the German 4th Army under the command of General der Infantry von Tippelskirch , which were in front of the city of Mogilew .

The third attack was aimed at the town of Bobruisk , where the headquarters of the German 9th Army under General of the Infantry Hans Jordan was established. This army faced the northern wing of the 1st Belarusian Front under the Marshal of the Soviet Union Konstantin Konstantinowitsch Rokossowski . The southern wing of Rokossovsky's troops was mainly in northwestern Ukraine in the front section in front of the city of Kovel and was initially supposed to remain inactive. In the gap between the two wings lay the inaccessible Pripjet swamps .

The three attacks were staggered in time. On June 22nd the fighting began near Vitebsk, the next day the German 4th Army was attacked for the first time and on June 24th the 1st Belarusian Front attacked in the sector of the German 9th Army.

The tactical goal of the offensive was the execution of a pincer movement by the forces attacking at Bobruisk and Vitebsk, which were to unite at Minsk and enclose large parts of Army Group Center in a huge pocket. The attack at Mogilev was intended to ensure that the German 4th Army could not be used to relieve the 3rd Panzer Army or the 9th Army. After the successful encirclement of the German armies, as large parts of the now uncovered Belarusian hinterland as possible were to be occupied. In Soviet and Russian military historiography, the course of the operation up to the complete securing of the tactical target Minsk is referred to as the first phase, the further course until its end on August 29, 1944 as the second phase.

Balance of power

There is a general consensus in historical literature that the Soviet troops were clearly superior in numbers and in terms of their combat effectiveness. However, when it comes to quantifying this difference in terms of numbers, there are significant differences between different sources.

According to official Soviet sources, before the start of the Soviet offensive, 1,400,000 soldiers of the Red Army with 31,000 artillery pieces, rocket launchers and mortars, 5,200 tanks and assault guns and 5,300 aircraft faced the 1,200,000 soldiers of Army Group Center with 9,500 artillery pieces, rocket launchers and mortars, 900 Tanks and assault guns as well as 1,350 aircraft opposite.

While the information for the Soviet troops was also taken from the American historian Glantz, the latter only reckoned with a maximum of 850,000 German soldiers, which corresponded to the approximate actual strength of Army Group Center on June 1, 1944.

The Russian military historian Krivosheyev puts the strength of all Soviet fronts involved in the offensive at 2,331,700 soldiers. This number is probably too high, especially since the credibility of Krivosheev is increasingly being questioned in the specialist literature.

According to the German historian Frieser, a total of 1,670,000 Red Army soldiers with 32,718 guns, rocket launchers and mortars, 5,818 tanks and assault guns and 7,799 aircraft were used in the offensive. Opposite them were nominally 849,000 soldiers of Army Group Center, of which only 486,493 were actually deployed at the front. The German troops were far inferior with 3,236 guns, rocket launchers and mortars, 570 tanks and assault guns and 602 aircraft. The numbers given by Frieser for the German troops were also adopted by the Russian military historian Alexei Issajew.

On June 1, 1944, the Red Army's strategic reserve comprised a tank army, 36 rifle and cavalry divisions, 16 tank and mechanized corps and 11 artillery divisions. The German Wehrmacht, on the other hand, had no strategic reserves worth mentioning at that time.

Air superiority of the Soviet air forces

Since the Battle of Kursk , the number of German fighter planes deployed on the Eastern Front had steadily decreased. The reason for this was that air force units had been relocated to these theaters of war to defend against the Allied landings in Italy and Normandy . Because of the Allied air superiority , the German air forces suffered high losses there. The replacement of these machines devoured the majority of the newly produced German aircraft. The German aircraft industry was no longer able to fully compensate for the Luftwaffe's increasing losses.

The imbalance between the German and Soviet air forces increased until Operation Bagration began. The German Luftflotte 6 under Ritter von Greim , which was intended to support Army Group Center, had only 61 operational fighter planes available in June 1944 due to losses and technical failures due to the inadequate supply of spare parts and fuel. The Soviet air force made available for the offensive, on the other hand, comprised four air armies with thousands of aircraft of all types. An air army was assigned to each Soviet attack front. The Soviet air force gained absolute air superiority from the start of the offensive and retained it for the remainder of the war.

Artillery support

Soviet battery of heavy howitzers type M1931 (B-4) (3rd Belarusian Front, summer 1944)

The attack by the Red Army began on the morning of June 22nd at 4:00 a.m. with the strongest artillery fire which by then had fallen on the positions of Army Group Center. This was made up of the following components:

  1. 15 minutes of fire on German defenses down to a depth of three kilometers;
  2. 90 minutes of fire at spotted targets and known positions of artillery and heavy weapons;
  3. 20 minutes of fire on the German main defense line and positions behind it;
  4. Fire strikes directed 24 hours on identified single targets if requested by an observer.

The Red Army had set up artillery pieces at a density of 178 units per kilometer in the planned breakthrough zones. The previously laboriously excavated German positions could not withstand this massive firepower.

The surviving German soldiers in the breakthrough corridors were then no longer able to offer effective resistance against the Soviet tank and infantry units, which were already numerically superior. The lack of ready-to-use heavy weapons made the situation of the German soldiers even more hopeless.

Vitebsk-Orsha operation

The attack, known as the Vitebsk-Orsha operation, was the strongest of the three initial Soviet advances, since a total of two fronts (army groups) of the Red Army were used to conquer the “fixed places” Vitebsk and Orsha.

Battle of the cauldron near Vitebsk

Course of the Battle of Vitebsk from June 22, 1944, 4:00 a.m. to June 26, 1944, 10:00 p.m.

After the end of the preparatory artillery bombardment, the 1st Baltic Front under Army General Baghramjan attacked the German front near Vitebsk with the 6th Guard Army and the 43rd Army from the north-west . In coordination with this, the 3rd Byelorussian Front under Lieutenant General Tschernjachowski attacked the German positions near the city of Vitebsk from the southeast with the 39th Army, 5th Army and 11th Guard Army.

Infantry units opened the attacks in order to create breakthroughs in the German front line. Initially, riflemen stormed the first and second German lines of defense on foot. Soldiers mounted on tanks in groups of 15 soldiers each led the advance on the third and last German defensive trench. Through the gaps that had arisen in the German front line, tank units advanced deep into the German-occupied hinterland. During the attack on Vitebsk, two regiments equipped with IS-2 tanks were used against the German troops.

By June 24, the Soviet troops managed to defeat the units of the German IX. To displace army corps up to 30 kilometers behind their original positions, as these were much worse developed there than in the vicinity of the city. Before June 22nd, the German reconnaissance division of the Fremde Heere Ost (FHO) under Reinhard Gehlen had overlooked the entire Soviet 6th Guard Army in the area of ​​the 1st Baltic Front, as a result of which the management level of Army Group Center did not consider this area to be endangered. Two divisions of the German VI. Army corps defending the section southeast of Vitebsk were almost completely wiped out. On the evening of June 24th the German front line to the north and south of Vitebsk collapsed. The LIII, which consists of three divisions . Army corps of the German 3rd Panzer Army, which comprised 30,000 soldiers and defended the well-fortified frontal projection around the "permanent place" Vitebsk, which was intended as a magnet, was already included on June 25th due to the rapid Soviet breakthrough. Local counter-attacks by the Germans, such as the advance against the Soviet 6th Guard Army carried out by parts of the 290th Infantry Division , had no effect.

Due to the great overwhelming power of the Soviet Union, it was the non-included German units of IX. Army Corps impossible to hold a front line west of the city; they were pushed further west or smashed over the next few days. The catastrophic situation for the Germans led to the fact that the SS police units, which had previously been deployed to fight partisans, were also brought into action against the attacking Red Army (→ Kampfgruppe von Gottberg ). Since this group did not have the combat strength to fight with regular Soviet units, this attempt to reinforce the battered front line of the German 3rd Panzer Army had no effect.

The German troops trapped near Vitebsk were under massive pressure from the Soviet attackers. Lieutenant General Hitter and General of the Infantry Gollwitzer , as commander of the trapped troops, ordered the breakout of the "permanent place" against Hitler's instructions. This outbreak failed due to the resistance of the numerically far superior Soviet troops. The soldiers of the German LIII. Army corps surrendered to a large extent after a major Soviet attack on June 27, which had increased the distance between the pocket and the areas still controlled by the Germans to more than 80 km. A group of around 5,000 soldiers from the 4th Air Force Field Division attempted an escape on their own on June 26th. It was stopped the same day and rubbed out on June 27 in the woods near Ostrowno. As a result of the fighting near Vitebsk, a corridor about 100 kilometers wide was created between the German 16th Army of Army Group North and the German 4th Army, through which the Soviet troops of the 3rd Belarusian Front quickly advanced towards Minsk. The troops of the 1st Baltic Front began to attack the area around the city of Polotsk. One component of the pincer movement planned by the Stawka around the entire Army Group Center was successful.

Vitebsk was almost completely destroyed when the fighting ended. Of the 170,000 people who had inhabited the city in June 1941, only 118 remained in July 1944. The German 3rd Panzer Army had lost over half of its units. What was left of them retreated westwards, being pursued by the 1st Baltic Front. Since the Germans had achieved success in fighting the partisans in the spring of 1944, the route of retreat was not blocked for the remaining units of the 3rd Panzer Army. The north of Orscha deployed parts of the German VI. Army corps under the General of the Artillery Georg Pfeiffer were subordinated to the German 4th Army.

According to Soviet sources, around 18,000 German soldiers died in the Vitebsk pocket and 10,000 were taken prisoner.

Deliverance from Orsha

Sd.Kfz. 10 with Nebelwerfer 42 of Werfer Regiment 51 crossed a forest area during the retreat from Orsha (beginning of July 1944)

On the northern edge of the defense area of ​​the German 4th Army was the town of Orsha , through which several railway lines ran, as well as the main supply route of Army Group Center, which the Germans called the taxiway or motorway, which went in an easterly direction directly to Smolensk and Moscow and in a westerly direction directly after Minsk led (→ Europastraße 30 ). Since the transport network in the territory of Belarus was very underdeveloped in 1944 and there were few roads that were better paved than ordinary dirt roads, the recapture of Orsha for the attacking Soviet troops was an important military task that the southern wing of the 3rd Belarusian took on Front was entrusted. The German leadership was also aware of the importance of the place, which is why, like Vitebsk, it was declared a " permanent place " and strongly fortified.

The Germans initially repulsed the attack by the Soviet 11th Guard Army on June 23, the Soviet troops achieved only minor gains in territory. However, by advancing further north on Vitebsk, the Soviet units succeeded in bypassing the heavily fortified defensive areas in the following days. By June 25, the German defenders were so weakened that their positions were breached during the day. A German counterattack near the village of Orechowsk failed. On June 26, the German troops were forced to withdraw from the area around Orsha before the overwhelming force and the threat of encirclement, so that the village was liberated by Soviet troops on the evening of the same day. The German defense of the important road to Minsk had thus failed. Soviet tank formations of the 11th Guards Army advanced quickly on her in the direction of the Belarusian capital. The German units withdrew to the west together with the remaining 4th Army in the course of the following days. The marching speed of the German units dependent on horse-drawn vehicles was much slower than that of the motorized Soviet units.

Liberation of Mogilev (Mogilev Operation)

The attack of the 49th Soviet Army on the "permanent place" Mogilev, from June 23 to June 28, 1944

In the central sector of the area held by Army Group Center, the troops of the 2nd Belarusian Front, which was only newly formed in the spring of 1944, began their attacks against the positions of the German 4th Army on June 23. The attacking force of the Soviet troops was much lower than in the Vitebsk region, since their plan of operations envisaged the encirclement of the center of Army Group Center by the attacking heads advancing in the north and south. A premature retreat of the German 4th Army, which might have thwarted the inclusion of Army Group Center, was to be prevented at Mogilev.

The 49th Soviet Army had advanced 30 kilometers in the direction of Mogilev by the evening of June 26th. This army had previously been strengthened by shortening its front-line sector.

On the night of June 26-27, Soviet pioneers erected pontoon bridges across the Dnieper north of Mogilev, making it easy to cross the river. Adolf Hitler then gave the order that the 12th Infantry Division had to defend the city, which had been declared a fortress, to the last man in order to delay the advance of the Soviet 49th Army. All other parts of the German 4th Army withdrew further towards Minsk, so that this division was practically sacrificed. Soviet forces trapped Mogilev on June 27th. After bitter fighting, the "permanent place" was recaptured on June 28th. The commander of the 12th Infantry Division Lieutenant General Bamler and the town commander, Major General Gottfried von Erdmannsdorff , stopped the fight after the majority of the German soldiers had died defending the town. More than 2000 survivors were taken prisoner by the Soviets. Dispersed German soldiers resisted for several weeks and some of them fought their way back to their lines.

The retreat movement of the German 4th Army was slow, as the path led through a wide, inaccessible forest area, which was also largely controlled by partisan units. The only unpaved road, Mogilev-Berezino-Minsk, available for retreat, was clogged with vehicles of all kinds. Many civilians who had cooperated with the Germans fled together with the German soldiers for fear of lynching . The shortage of motor vehicles caused by the OKH in the German associations is now taking revenge. In addition, the columns were Soviet attack aircraft of the type Ilyushin Il-2 attack, which the three corps commanders on June 28 to a general chaos and death Georg Pfeiffer , Robert Martinek and Otto Schünemann led within hours. The massive use of Soviet attack aircraft was new to the German troops and led to the destruction of the artillery, which until then had been the last efficient means of defense against the attacks of the Red Army. In general, the German troops suffered high losses in this sector too. According to Kurt von Tippelskirch, the commander of the German 4th Army, only half of his soldiers managed to retreat across the Dnieper River.

Bobruisk Cauldron (Bobruisk Operation)

Sketch of the initial phase of the Bobruisk Kessel Battle from June 24, 1944, 4:00 a.m. to June 27, 1944, 9:00 p.m.

In the southern section of the front held by the German 9th Army, the attack of the 1st Belarusian Front under Marshal Rokossovsky began on June 24th. There, too, the attack was supported by heavy artillery fire and attack aircraft of the Soviet 16th Air Army. According to Rokossowski's plan, his troops attacked north of Rogachev and south of Parichi. In the evening of the day the attackers of the Soviet 65th Army under Lieutenant General Batow succeeded in the front of the German XXXV. Break through army corps at Parichi. The commander of the German 9th Army made the mistake of dividing the 20th Panzer Division , which was the only unit with a chance of defending against an attacking spearhead, between both centers. Because of this weakening of the defense, both attacks by the 1st Belarusian Front were successful. After the breakthrough, the fast Soviet motorized units in the south advanced in the direction of Bobruisk and from there to Osipowitschy. The slower infantry units turned to the north and began to enclose the bulk of the German 9th Army with the parts attacking from the direction of Rogachev. Due to two contradicting orders, on the one hand to hold the city of Bobruisk and on the other hand to withdraw from the city, there was great chaos on the German side. The commander of the 134th Infantry Division Lieutenant General Ernst Philipp committed suicide out of desperation.

The number of wounded in the German troops rose rapidly, so that ultimately there were no more blood products available. According to a report by a Soviet soldier, doctors in the German 36th Infantry Division used the blood of captured Belarusian children in the village of Paritschi, southeast of Bobruisk, to provide their wounded with blood transfusions . The pit with the buried children, some of whom were still alive, was opened a day later by Red Army soldiers.

In contrast to the units stationed in Vitebsk, the troops of the German 9th Army, with the exception of the 383rd Infantry Division, were finally allowed to withdraw to the northwest in the direction of Minsk. Large parts of the relatively immobile units had to take the route via Bobruisk. Due to the good motorization of the Soviet troops, they overtook the retreating German units and formed a cauldron around large parts of the German 9th Army on June 27 at 4:00 p.m. Around 70,000 soldiers were included, including many support workers. The troops in this pocket were shot down by Soviet artillery.

Destroyed Panzer IV of the 20th Panzer Division near Bobruisk (June 28 or 29, 1944)

Outside the Soviet containment ring, there were no German units nearby that could have broken the encirclement. The next day the cauldron was split into two parts, each on the western and eastern banks of the Beresina. The soldiers in the smaller cauldron on the east bank surrendered on June 28 at around 1 p.m.

The commander of the German XXXV. Army Corps, Lieutenant General von Lützow, authorized independent attempts to break out of the pocket on the western bank. With the remaining tanks of the 20th Panzer Division in the lead, about 15,000 to 30,000 German soldiers broke through the containment ring, shouting in chants “We want to go home!” And singing the song “Oh Germany in honor” together. They fought their way first in a northerly direction along the Beresina past the Osipowitschy, which had just been occupied by the Red Army, and later to the northwest towards the 12th Panzer Division coming from Marina Gorka , which was one of the first reinforcements in Army Group Center arrived after the start of the Soviet offensive.

The greater part of the German soldiers could not escape from the Bobruisk pocket. The fighting in the outbreak corridor led to high losses on the Soviet and German sides. Many infantrymen could not keep up with the pace of the attack peaks and were on their own. Panic broke out among the German soldiers, and many even tried swimming across the Berezina River to escape the Soviet units. The former Wehrmacht soldier Heinz Fiedler, who belonged to the 134th Infantry Division, reported:

“So we were locked in and those who were in front shouted“ Pak and Flak forward! […] ”And the one from behind:“ We have no fuel. We're out of ammunition. [...] “And so it went on forever. [...] It was all shit. "

- Documentation: Hitler's War in the East. Part 4: The Retribution. BBC and NDR 1996

The Soviet journalist Grossman described how catastrophic the German losses were :

“Men are walking over German corpses. Corpses, hundreds and thousands of them, pave the road, lie in ditches, under the pines, in the green barley. In some places, vehicles have to drive over the corpses, so densely they lie upon the ground […] A cauldron of death was boiling here, where the revenge was carried out ”

“The men run over the corpses of German soldiers. Corpses, hundreds and thousands, cover the street, lie in trenches, under the pines, on the grain fields that are still green. In some places vehicles have to drive over the body because they are so close to the ground. [...] A cauldron of death boiled in this place where revenge was taken [for the German attack on the Soviet Union]. "

The 383rd Infantry Division included in Bobruisk defended the "permanent place". The remnants of the division under the command of the commandant Lieutenant General Edmund Hoffmeister surrendered on June 29th. Thousands of German soldiers were either taken prisoner by the Soviets or were killed on the spot. This is the fate that befell many of the seriously wounded Germans who remained in Bobruisk:

“On the 29th, the Russians occupied the hospital and immediately felted us thoroughly. […] About an hour later Russians appeared again, this time in oil-smeared uniforms. They systematically went from bed to bed, pointing their machine guns at the wounded and emptying their magazines. [...] I lay with the dead in this hospital for three days, without any [...] supplies and food. [...] Suddenly a Russian civil doctor appeared [...] The doctor made sure that the survivors were driven out of the rooms [to a former Wehrmacht rest home]. "

- Unnamed member of IR 58 of the 6th Infantry Division

Especially soldiers of those units of the Wehrmacht that were made up of Soviet citizens such. B. the Russian Liberation Army , or volunteers (Hiwis for short) and civilians who could be shown to have collaborated with the Germans, had no mercy to expect from the soldiers of the Red Army; they were ill-treated and often killed after their capture.

According to the Soviet news agency RIA Novosti, 16,000 German soldiers were killed and 18,000 were taken prisoner in the Bobrujsk pocket. The dead German soldiers were buried anonymously in collective graves after the end of the fighting.

The city of Bobruisk was almost completely destroyed during the fighting. After the reconquest, there were hardly more than 28,000 people in the city, most of them were homeless. The majority of the refugees did not return until 1945.

After their success, the troops of the 1st Belarusian Front advanced through a wide corridor via Osipowitschy and Marina Gorka on Minsk and in a westerly direction parallel to the Pripyat River on Slutsk and Baranovichi . The Red Army began to close a ring around the still intact German 4th Army, which was defending itself further east against the 2nd Belarusian Front, and around the remnants of the German 9th Army, which were retreating north of Bobruisk.

Recapture of Minsk (Minsk Operation)

Course of the boiler battle near Minsk and the final phase of the boiler battle at Bobruisk from June 29, 1944, 10:00 p.m. to July 3, 1944, 10:00 p.m.

The successes achieved by the Red Army up to that point and the reports resulting from them made clear to the German OKW the extent of the defeat it had suffered so far, which only saw the situation in its full extent on June 26th. Immediately all available reserves, which had previously been moved in the direction of Army Group Northern Ukraine or were in the Reich territory for refreshment, were marched in the direction of Army Group Center. In addition to various infantry units, this included the aforementioned 12th Panzer Division, the 5th Panzer Division and the 4th Panzer Division . A total of eight tank divisions had been transferred to Army Group Center as reinforcements by August 29, 1944.

Personal consequences with regard to the filling of leadership positions in the Army Group followed. The commander-in-chief of the German 9th Army, General Jordan , was relieved of the reluctance of the 20th Panzer Division and replaced by General von Vormann . As Commander in Chief of Army Group Center, Busch was made solely responsible for the situation of the Army Group and was released on the evening of June 28th. His successor was General Field Marshal Model .

Like Busch, Model was unconditionally on the side of Adolf Hitler, but in contrast to his predecessor, he enjoyed a high reputation. Model also had the advantage that he retained command of Army Group Northern Ukraine and was therefore able to initiate the transfer of reinforcements without making requests. These regroupings did not initially solve the enormous problems with which Army Group Center was confronted. Their front had been breached over a width of about 300 kilometers in the evening of the day or given up due to the dramatic circumstances.

Field Marshal General Model wanted to defuse the threatening situation by establishing a new German front with the limited forces available. At the same time, he wanted to prevent the 4th and 9th Armies from being surrounded by the 1st Belarusian Front and 3rd Belarusian Front.

Formation of the Minsk Pocket

Panzer IV of the 5th Panzer Division (beginning of July 1944)
The Marshal of the Panzer Troops Rotmistrov giving instructions (Borissow, July 1, 1944)
Minsk Residents Rescue belongings from Burning Houses (July 3, 1944)

Already during the final phase of the battles of Vitebsk and Bobruisk, motorized and armored spikes of the participating Soviet fronts had advanced in a westerly direction towards the Belarusian capital Minsk. The northern wing of the Soviet attack was formed by the 5th Panzer Guard Army under the command of Marshal of the Armored Forces Pavel Alexejewitsch Rotmistrov , the southern wing by the 1st Armored Guard Corps of the 1st Belarusian Front.

Fight for Borisov

In order to stop the northern Soviet advance, mainly carried by the 5th Guards Panzer Army, the von Saucken combat group , which was formed ad hoc and reinforced the already badly battered von Gottberg combat group, was supposed to cross over with the German 5th Panzer Division secure the Berezina River near Borisov northeast of Minsk. The last parts of the division that arrived in Borisov on June 28 by rail transport were already fighting against broken Soviet tanks while they were being unloaded.

There were disputes over competencies because SS-Gruppenführer Curt von Gottberg refused to place his police units under the command of the 5th Panzer Division. Nevertheless, it was mainly the advance detachments of the 5th Panzer Division that prevented the Soviet troops from taking Borissov quickly. Marshal Rotmistrow then let his tanks run ruthlessly against the Borisov bridgehead formed by the Germans, so that on June 30, hand-to-hand combat took place shortly before and in the city, which led to high Soviet losses. On the evening of June 30, the Germans withdrew from Borisov to the west bank of the Berezina. During the withdrawal, parts of the SS police units murdered civilians who wanted to flee west with the Germans.

The position at Borisov became untenable for the Germans when the remaining mass of the 5th Guards Panzer Army crossed the river north of the city on July 1 and advanced to the Molodechno traffic junction, which was already west of Minsk. The von Saucken combat group had to follow this movement in order to avoid overstretching its own front. This opened the direct route to Minsk for the Soviet troops and blocked the northern route of retreat for the 4th German Army. On July 1, the Soviet 2nd Guards Panzer Corps crossed the Berezina and advanced in a south-westerly direction towards Minsk.

Advance of the 1st Belarusian Front

In the southeastern section, the German 2nd Army, which had remained largely untouched, delayed the advance of the Red Army from Sluzk . The summoned as a reinforcement of the Army Group North Ukraine German 4th Panzer Division reached via railway transport up to Baranovichi . She was unloaded there on June 30th and July 1st and immediately deployed in separate departments. Their most important task was to restore the connection to the 12th Panzer Division, the Lindig Combat Group and the troops who had fled from the Bobruisk pocket near the village of Stoubzy ( Belarusian : Стоўбцы). Other parts supported the retreating German units from the direction of Slutsk.

In the southeast the 1st Belarusian Front reached Stoubzy on July 2nd, which was to be kept open by the German 4th Panzer Division and the 12th Panzer Division as a route of retreat. Fierce fighting broke out in and around the city between the German 4th Panzer Division and units of the Soviet 65th Army. The Germans kept part of the city and the surrounding area in their hands during the following days. Further northwest of the village was the Naliboki jungle , which was barely developed and occupied by partisans and was therefore not suitable as a retreat for the Germans.

The 12th Panzer Division made the connection to the 4th Panzer Division late, as the units coming from the east marched past Stoubzy due to the failure of radio communications. To make the encounter possible, Stoubzy's 4th Panzer Division gave up on July 4th. As a result, the only remaining route of retreat was blocked for the German 4th Army, which was just 100 km further east.

Capture of Minsk and enclosure of the German 4th Army

The military catastrophe of Army Group Center could no longer be stopped when the 2nd Soviet Guards Panzer Corps captured the 5th Guards Panzer Army on July 3, Minsk. The city, which was also declared a "permanent place", was hardly defended because there were large quantities of supplies in the village, but no significant troops were available. In fact, days before the Soviet reconquest, there were hardly any German soldiers left in the city, so the remaining inhabitants began to plunder food stores. Minsk was less badly damaged than other places in Belarus because the German troops were no longer able to set fire to or blow up a large part of the houses on schedule. Due to the low German resistance, the use of Soviet artillery was also limited.

The German 4th Army, which had been on the east bank of the Beresina until then, only ended the river crossing on the same day due to its slow marching speed and was then together with parts of the XXXXI. Panzer Corps of the German 9th Army enclosed in a pocket that was pressed and crushed by the troops of the 2nd Belarusian Front. The German troops thus suffered a fate similar to that of Napoleon's army almost 132 years earlier. (→ Battle of the Berezina )

After these failures, General Field Marshal Model concentrated his efforts entirely on the formation of a front line west of Minsk, as he did not have enough forces to help the trapped troops east of the city.

During the Soviet advance, many Belarusian civilians tried to flee to areas to the west. They often got involved in fighting between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht.

Destruction of the German 4th Army

On June 30th, General von Tippelskirch formed the "Müller Group" under the command of the Deputy Leader of the XII from a large part of the retreating troops of his army . Army Corps , Lieutenant General Vincenz Müller . The target given orally to Müller was: "[...] The next order for the 4th Army is to go back further in a general direction about 50 to 60 km south of Minsk." Müller should try to follow the example of an aircraft accident in April Colonel-General Hans-Valentin Hube, who had died, had to move the troops under his command, which would be included in the foreseeable future, in a wandering basin in the west past Minsk and re-establish the connection to the German positions.

Until July 3, when the German 4th Army was finally surrounded by the Red Army, the retreat was slow, but largely according to plan. Fire attacks were carried out by partisans who were in the forests to the west and south-west of Mogilev, and the intensity of these attacks increased over time. After the Soviet retake of Minsk, the pressure from the regular troops of the 2nd Belarusian Front, which was tasked with destroying the German army, increased. Lieutenant General Müller, who had made a name for himself in the German army as a “stayer”, was still of the opinion that breaking out of the clutches could be achieved: “It would be laughable if we didn't get these pigs through the sun, moon and would chase stars. ”It remains to be seen whether Müller was fully aware of the current overall German situation at this point in time.

The situation of the remnants of the German 4th Army dramatized almost every hour in the following days. The edges of the cauldron, which was in a confusing area with lots of wooded areas, became more and more frayed: German units seeking cover from attacking Soviet troops in wooded areas lost contact with the rest of the army and were suddenly left to fend for themselves. The attacking leaders of the Germans, who were supposed to pave a way to the west, made more and more difficult progress. An additional obstacle was the fact that no maps of the area around Minsk were available with which the Germans could orient themselves. The meager remnants of the German Air Force tried to at least rudimentarily supply the trapped troops with food and ammunition: The majority of these few parachute-dropped supplies, the amount of which would have been insufficient anyway, ended up with the enemy. On July 3, the "Combat Group Müller" and XXVII, which had also been cut off, united. Army corps under General of the Infantry Paul Völcker near Minsk. Both generals agreed to disband their associations and arrange the breakthrough on their own. On July 5th, the "Müller Group" had radio contact with the 4th Army High Command for the last time: Müller asked Tippelskirch to at least organize the dropping of precise maps over the boiler, but received no response. On the same day, the supply from the air also broke off, at Smilawitschy ( Belarusian Сьмілавічы) southeast of Minsk, the last supply packages were dropped. The German airfields were relocated further west due to the rapid Soviet advance.

On July 6, the 49th and 33rd Soviet armies blocked the Berezino-Minsk retreat route and cut off the 110th Infantry Division, which was at the head of the cut off sections of the German 4th Army, from the rest of the unit. The German units were running out of fuel and ammunition. The wounded could no longer receive medical care. Despite the desperate situation, the German soldiers fought on for fear of Soviet captivity.

Escape attempts and surrender

Lieutenant General Müller assessed the situation as hopeless and struck in the staff meeting of the XXVII taking place on July 6 or 7 south of Smolevichy . Army Corps to “put an end to” and stop the fight. His proposal was rejected by most of the commanders under his command, who went to their units and from then on tried on their own to break through to the west. Orders to break through in small groups were issued and all remaining heavy German weapons were blown up. The 57th Infantry Division , which had a strength of about 5,000 German soldiers, tried under the command of Lieutenant General Adolf Trowitz to blow up the Soviet containment ring near Michanowitschi, but failed. Similar attempts by smaller groups followed, but always had the same result. In the meantime, after discarding thoughts of suicide, Müller decided to go to the Soviet opponents on his own and to capitulate, since his staff had meanwhile been dispersed and there were no longer any means of communication.

On the morning of July 8th, Müller, accompanied by another officer and a bugler, went in the direction of the shooting Soviet artillery and allowed himself to be captured by the security of the associated staff. He was immediately taken to a Soviet colonel, to whom he explained that he wanted to give the order to end the fight, but that he no longer had the means to communicate it. He then dictated an order which, in addition to the request to cease fighting, also contained promises from the Soviet leadership regarding the correct treatment of the prisoners. The order was dropped in the following days in the form of leaflets with small aircraft over the area of ​​the Restkessel and announced over loudspeakers by propaganda units, which also included Lev Kopelev .

Since Lieutenant General Müller no longer had command over a large part of his armed forces and the leaflets by far did not reach all German soldiers, their desperate struggle continued on that day in a reasonably organized form until July 11th, until the last larger coherent formation was formed in battalion strength .

According to Soviet sources, around 70,000 German soldiers died in the Minsk pocket and around 35,000 were taken prisoner.

Capture of the German soldiers

A larger part of the encircled German soldiers went into captivity after the surrender became known, as can be seen from the memoirs of Lev Kopelev :

“[…] For a few days we wandered across streets and villages, stopped, turned our loudspeakers on the forest and asked the German soldiers to go into captivity. They came one by one or in small groups, and we sent them to the rear without guarding with a note "so and so many defectors on the way to the assembly point". We learned later that on the way, mostly others joined them; At the assembly point they corrected our slip, sometimes the number doubled. [...] "

These actions did not always go so smoothly; scattered German units of company or platoon strength tried to make their way to the west, continued to offer resistance and repeatedly attacked Kopelev's propaganda unit. The German soldiers acted because they simply had not yet been made aware of Müller's call to surrender or because they did not want to go into Soviet captivity. SS soldiers in particular resisted violently. In order to provide these German fighters back, the Red Army brought in former partisans on a large scale, as can be seen from the history of the Bielski partisans:

"[...] Accompanied by several staff officers, a Soviet general rode at the head of the assembly [of the partisans]. He stayed on his horse while he spoke. […] “The Soviet army has enclosed a large German force near Minsk,” he shouted, “We are sure that they will try to break out of our trap in small groups and make their way west to the forests. Our duty, comrades and fellow partisans, is to prevent the Germans from reaching the forests! I trust that you will fulfill this mission with ardor ”.

The partisans were divided into defense troops and posted along the eastern edge of the [Nalibocki Forest]. [...] A few days later, some Jewish fighters noticed the first German soldiers heading for the safe forests. The Jews immediately opened fire. [...] One of the German soldiers had had enough: “I don't want a war!” He shouted desperately and wanted to surrender. “I want to live!” But he was not allowed to surrender: His commanding officer raised his weapon and shot him. Then he judged himself. "

The remaining soldiers of the German troop were captured in the case described above. Such scenes were to be repeated frequently in the following final months of the war: Fanatical superiors often caused additional deaths among the German soldiers through their blind perseverance.

In the history of the Bielski partisans it is also mentioned that the German soldiers who fell into the hands of the partisans were mostly shot and possibly mistreated. In the case of the Bielski partisans, the surviving Jews belonging to this group now took revenge for the atrocities committed against them by the Germans over the past three years:

"[...] After a few days, thousands of corpses of German soldiers covered the edge of the [Nalibocki] forest."

The actions of the Belarusian partisans must be seen in the context of the forced abductions of workers carried out by the Germans, the scorched earth tactics they used and the Holocaust that was still taking place at the time. Regardless of the external circumstances, the shooting or mistreatment of prisoners of war is a war crime and a violation of the Hague Land Warfare Regulations . Lev Kopelev, from whose memoir is quoted here, later spent eight years in the Soviet Gulag after protesting against the atrocities committed by the Red Army in East Prussia a few months later.

Despite the persecution by partisans and the Red Army, a few soldiers of the German 4th Army managed to get through to the lines held by the Wehrmacht, which at that time were already near the East Prussian border.

Further Soviet advance

Location of the combat zones during the Polotsk operation, in the vicinity of the villages of Baranowitschi and Molodechno and around Vilnius

After the inclusion of the German 4th Army, the situation of the remaining parts of Army Group Center was as follows: The remainder of the 3rd Panzer Army was isolated on the northern edge of the area of ​​responsibility, that of Army Group North was about 60 km wide Gap was separated. Through this gap, parts of the Soviet 1st Baltic Front advanced further west. On the southern side, the German 2nd Army was busy rolling up its section of the front located in the Pripjet swamps to the west and taking on the defensive tasks of the badly battered German 9th Army. The remnants of these were placed under this army. In the middle section of the area of ​​responsibility of Army Group Center there was no longer any coherent front.

The 5th and 12th Panzer Divisions, originally intended to reinforce the German defense lines east of Minsk, took on the brunt of the German defense efforts in this area. In addition, the wooded and difficult to access area west of Minsk was favorable. The two main routes to the west ran through the villages of Molodetschno and Baranavichy , all other routes were unsuitable for motorized and armored units, as the combat area was very heavily forested. The German side concentrated on keeping these two villages as long as possible. In the remaining time, more and more units from other front sections were relocated to the area of ​​Army Group Center.

Field Marshal General Model could not consistently and rigidly defend the section assigned to him with the few remaining forces. Instead, the remaining armored divisions were used for local counter-attacks on the front-runners of the Red Army, so that their advance was delayed to such an extent that German troops at the rear could establish defensive positions. If the German troops had made a brief counter-attack, they soon broke away from the enemy in order to evade the expected counter-attacks of the Red Army with heavy artillery and attack aircraft. However, due to the multiple superiority of the Red Army, the Wehrmacht had no serious chance of stopping the Soviet advance. This could only have happened through the deployment of entire armies. In order to make forces of this magnitude available, the Chief of Staff Kurt Zeitzler had already proposed on June 30th to move Army Group North from its positions to the south and to build a new defensive position there. This plan was rejected by Hitler with reference to the allied Finland and Zeitzler immediately resigned from his post as chief of staff.

Structure of Army Group Center

The following breakdown gives an overview of the units available to Army Group Center, which on the German side bore the brunt of the fighting until the end of the Soviet offensive on August 29, 1944. Many units were formed "ad hoc" ( combat groups , blocking groups, division groups and corps departments ) or hastily formed Volksgrenadier divisions to replace the immense German losses from the first phase of the Soviet offensive.

Polotsk operation

Soldiers of the 1st Baltic Front march through Polotsk, on the right a propaganda poster celebrating the capture of the city by the Red Army (meaning: “Polotsk belongs to us again!”) And calls for the reconquest of the Baltic region (July 4th or 5th 1944)

The Soviet leadership had recognized the potential danger that the still intact Army Group North posed for the attacking Soviet troops. Shortly after the breakthrough at Vitebsk, the 1st Baltic Front began to swing parts to the north and attack the "permanent place" Polotsk . Favored by the wooded area, the German defenders initially had to withdraw only a little. The commander of Army Group North, Colonel General Georg Lindemann , pleaded, as anticipated by the Soviet commanders, for abandoning the city and withdrawing the Army Group to the Daugava.

But Hitler ordered Lindemann that the original situation should be restored by a counterattack. But there were only two poorly equipped divisions available to take action against the armies of the 1st Baltic Front. The German counterattack failed on July 2nd. Instead, the situation became more and more threatening for the defenders of the city, as the Soviet 4th Shock Army broke through the German front further north. Lindemann then ordered the withdrawal from Polotsk. After heavy fighting, the city was liberated on July 4th by the troops of the 1st Baltic Front. In contrast to the fortified places in the southern sections of the front, the almost enclosed German occupation under Lieutenant General Carl Hilpert managed to break out of the “permanent place”. On the same day, Georg Lindemann resigned from his post as commander of Army Group North and was replaced by General of the Infantry Johannes Frießner .

As a result, the German front north of the city was pushed in further and further west. It became clear that Army Group North would be cut off from the rest of the German-occupied territories if the withdrawal to the south did not take place immediately. However, Hitler still resisted the urgent proposals for retreat of the generals.

In the meantime, the Wehrmacht could not close the gap that existed in the German defense between the remnants of the 3rd Panzer Army and the 16th Army defending Polotsk due to a lack of available troops. Settlements were partially defended by scattered units, but they were clearly inferior to the Soviet superiority.

Vilnius cauldron and beginning of the Polish uprising (Vilnius Operation)

Patrol of soldiers of the Armia Krajowa and the Red Army on the Great Street in Vilnius. (July 13, 1944)

The catastrophic situation of the Germans and the rapid advance of the Red Army called a third party to the conflict on the scene at the beginning of July, which until then had remained in the background: The commanders of the Polish Home Army ( Armia Krajowa , AK for short) feared that the In the worst case scenario, the Soviet invasion of Poland would end with the complete annexation of Polish territory or at least lead to the installation of a pro-Soviet government. Therefore, they hastily initiated the Burza (“thunderstorm”) campaign, the aim of which was the independent liberation of Polish territory by the AK and the establishment of an independent Polish government. The Polish uprising began on July 1st and had its first climax during the battle for what is now the Lithuanian capital Vilnius .

After heavy fighting, the Red Army captured the Molodechno and Baranovichi bottlenecks on July 8th. The Soviet 5th and 11th Guards Army advanced into Lithuanian territory and towards Vilnius. Vilnius had previously been declared a "permanent place" by Hitler. In the city, which was enclosed in the following days by the Soviet troops under General Tschernjachowski, there were 4,000 German soldiers under the command of Major General Rainer Stahel , including two paratroop regiments that had only flown in the evening of the previous day. About 15 kilometers west of the city there was an ad hoc combat group under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Theodor Tolsdorff , which was supposed to reinforce the occupation of Vilnius.

On July 3 or 4, armia Krajowa negotiators tried to persuade the city commandant of Vilnius to surrender the city and in return offered that the Polish underground army would defend the city against the Red Army. The Germans did not accept the offer.

On July 7th, the Armia Krajowa began Operation Ostra Brama (German “Gate of Dawn” named after a chapel of the same name in Vilnius) under the command of Aleksander Krzyżanowski , which aimed to liberate the city. The surrounding Polish forces with a strength of about 6,000 to 10,000 fighters occupied a large part of the city center of Vilnius. In the eastern parts of the city, the AK units cooperated with Soviet reconnaissance units. The Polish uprising thwarted German efforts to fortify Vilnius. The AK units stopped the advance of Kampfgruppe Tolsdorff, but suffered heavy losses in the process, until Soviet units intervened. The Tolsdorff battle group then set up in a cauldron for defense.

The German soldiers in Vilnius, who were mostly holed up in the western parts of the city, were only allowed to break out on July 11th after the new Chief of Staff Adolf Heusinger convinced Hitler that things would be easier with a hopeless one Let the attempted escape die than in a hopeless defense. About 3000 of the 4000 Wehrmacht soldiers trapped in Vilnius broke through the Neris river valley to the Tolsdorff combat group from late evening on July 12th . At the same time, from the direction of the city of Kaunas, parts of the German 6th Panzer Division and the Greater Germany Division launched a counterattack under the personal direction of Colonel General Georg-Hans Reinhardt. At noon on July 13th, its tips hit the pocket of Kampfgruppe Tolsdorff. After taking in the survivors, the Germans withdrew towards Kaunas.

The last German soldiers left Vilnius on July 14th. The AK members were disarmed on July 15 by NKVD troops under the orders of Ivan Serov and their officers, including Commander Krzyżanowski, were arrested. AK units that resisted the disarmament order were crushed by Soviet troops, killing many AK members. In the parts of Lithuanian territory still under German control, Lithuanians collaborating with the Germans (protective team battalions under Lithuanian and German command) were deployed to combat the Armia Krajowa. Despite the massive persecution, some AK members managed to retreat to the forests around Vilnius and reorganize.

After the end of the Battle of Vilnius, the combat strength of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army had shrunk to 50 operational tanks due to heavy losses. On July 16, 1944, the commander, Marshal Rotmistrow, was released from his command at the front.

Contradictory historiography

The historiography of the course of the Battle of Vilnius is particularly contradictory. In contrast to the description given here, Soviet sources claim that the Red Army reached Vilnius on July 7th and recaptured it independently together with Soviet partisans. 10,000 Germans are said to have been captured. The contribution of Armia Krajowa is completely concealed. In Polish historiography, the point in time at which Vilnius was reached by the Soviet troops is set much later on July 12, 1944, and the combat performance of the AK units is emphasized. Polish historians also say that the greater part of the German occupation was captured or killed.

Białystoker operation

A German military vehicle crosses a bridge in Grodno (July 10-15, 1944)
Establishment of the Soviet city command in Grodno (July 17, 1944)

After the complete enclosure of the German 4th Army near Minsk, the 2nd Belarusian Front was given the task on July 5, 1944, to advance westward from Minsk and to take the small towns of Wolkowysk , Grodno and finally Białystok . In this operation mainly the Soviet 50th Army and parts of the 49th Army were used. The 3rd Army, which was assigned to the 1st Belarusian Front, was also called in for support.

The remains of the German 4th Army with the blocking group Weidling and the LV. Army Corps of the 2nd Army initially only delayed the Soviet advance. On July 16, 1944, the Soviet troops captured Grodno and Wolkowysk. After reinforcements arrived in the form of the 19th Panzer Division, the Germans tried on July 23rd to stop the Soviet advance in front of the Augustów Forest. The 19th Panzer Division under Lieutenant General Hans Källner managed to surprise the Soviet troops and inflict heavy losses on Soviet tank units near Grodno. The village of Lipsk was briefly recaptured. The initial success of the German counter-attack showed that the Soviet troops were exhausted and had supply problems.

Due to the lack of further reserves, the German counterattack failed and the Soviet troops continued the offensive towards Białystok after reinforcement by the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps. Against the resistance of the German LV. Army Corps, the Soviet 3rd Army, recaptured the city on July 27, 1944 after heavy street fighting.

Expansion of Soviet attacks to neighboring sectors of the front

The advance of the Red Army resulting from the weakening of Army Group Center made it clear to the Soviet leadership that the German Reich had reached the end of its strength. Therefore, the Stawka decided to extend the offensive to the adjacent sections of the front.

Lviv-Sandomierz operation

On July 13, 1944, the Soviet offensive began on the section of the front held by Army Group Northern Ukraine. This attack, conducted with far superior forces against the now thinned German defense, also achieved rapid successes which led to the encirclement of German units at Brody .

In the Tarnopol and Lemberg Voivodeships , units of the Polish Armia Krajowa (Home Army) began their actions against the German occupiers on July 16. The eastern Polish city of Lemberg was conquered by the AK fighters during Operation Burza from July 22nd to July 27th. After the Red Army had reached and secured the city, the A. members were disarmed, as before in Vilnius, and many of them were imprisoned by forces of the Soviet NKVD.

Pleskau-Ostrower Operation

Against the flank threat to the 1st Baltic Front from the still intact Army Group North, the 2nd and 3rd Baltic Fronts also began an offensive on July 17, 1944, which led to the advance of Soviet troops into Latvian territory. The German 16th and 18th Armies got into a critical position and withdrew further west. Ostrow and Pleskau were the last Russian cities still in German hands to be recaptured by the Red Army on July 21 and 23, 1944, respectively.

Last Soviet offensive operations and the end of the offensive

From mid-July 1944 onwards, the attack force of the Soviet troops in the area of ​​Army Group Center slackened due to overstretched supply routes. As a result, it was unable to compensate for the losses in armored vehicles that the Red Army had suffered in the previous phases of the offensive. Therefore, the Soviet side mainly used infantry units in the following attacks.

Schaulener Operation and Company Doppelkopf

Soldiers of the 1st Baltic Front in an attack in Mitau (August 16, 1944)

After the conquest of the city of Polotsk, the 1st Baltic Front received the order to advance with parts in a western direction with the aim of taking the Lithuanian city of Schaulen . Schaulen was an important railway junction between Königsberg and the Latvian Riga. The Soviet advance, which began on July 5, 1944, was favored by the fact that there was a gap of 60 to 100 kilometers in the German front between the remains of the German 3rd Panzer Army and the 16th Army of Army Group North Lack of troops was not initially closed. In order to forestall an expected counterattack by Army Group North, Army General Baghramjan assigned the Soviet 2nd Guard Army and the 51st Army from the Stawka Reserve on July 14th.

The direct advance on Schaulen began on July 20th. On July 22nd, the Soviet troops reached the town of Ponewiesch , which was portrayed in Soviet literature as an important communication center for Army Group North. On July 27th, the Latvian town of Daugavpils was conquered together with units of the 2nd Baltic Front. Schaulen was defended by an ad hoc unit under the command of Colonel Hellmuth Mäder for two days until the troops of the 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps of the Soviet 51st Army took the city on July 28th. Three days later the 3rd Mechanized Guard Corps reached the Bay of Riga at Tuckum . At the same time, the city of Mitau was half occupied by the Soviet troops. This development cut off the German Army Group North from all land connections to the south.

With the line via Tukums and Schaulen, a temporary end to the Soviet advance in the Baltic States was reached, since the German 3rd Panzer Army was able to build up a closed front to the west at this time. The German side then launched a series of counter-attacks aimed at retaking Schaulen and Mitau and restoring the land connection with Army Group North. On August 8th, plans for this offensive called “ Operation Doppelkopf ” were ready, after which two improvised tank corps of Army Groups North and Center were relocated to the south to restore a land connection. The German counterattack began on August 16, 1944. However, due to a lack of air support, fuel and infantry units to secure the flank, the German advance halted on August 19 at Schagarren and in front of Schaulen, without any of the objectives being achieved. Only through an attack by an ad hoc tank unit under the command of Major General Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz (von Strachwitz group), which was not foreseen by the Soviet leadership , the Germans were able to open a land connection to Army Group North on August 20, 1944, known as the "Kemern Corridor “Was designated. The reconquest of Mitau and Schaulen, which were defended by the Soviet 16th Rifle Division, which was mainly composed of Lithuanians, failed.

Kaunas operation

Lieutenant General Hasso von Manteuffel with officers of the Panzergrenadier Division "Greater Germany" during the fighting near the Lithuanian village Wilkowischken (lit .: Vilkaviškis) (beginning of August 1944)

After the end of the Battle of Vilnius, the German 3rd Panzer Army stabilized the front sector in Lithuania from July 15, 1944 and initially repulsed the attacks of the 3rd Belarusian Front. The Germans benefited from the fortifications of Kaunas that were still built by the Lithuanians . After receiving reinforcements in the previous days, on July 28, 1944, the troops of the 3rd Belarusian Front began again concentrated attacks on the German defense lines. On the evening of July 29th, the Soviet soldiers had advanced five to 17 kilometers to the west. The following day the German resistance collapsed at the entrances to the Memel River . In the sector of the Soviet 33rd Army, the 2nd Guard Panzer Corps advanced as far as Wilkowischken , which was a few kilometers from the East Prussian border. This put the German troops in Kaunas in danger of being trapped again. They then gave up the city on August 1, 1944. On the line from Wilkowischken to Raseinen , which is up to 50 kilometers to the west , the Germans set up new defensive positions that they held against further Soviet attacks. In Schirwindt Soviet soldiers reached the first time the East Prussian border. Until the offensive was finally broken off on August 29, 1944, the Soviet troops in Lithuania failed to make any further significant advance westward.

The advance of the Red Army caused panic among the German population in East Prussia . Despite a strict ban imposed by Erich Koch , the Gauleiter of the NSDAP in East Prussia, the first refugee routes headed west.

Lublin-Brest operation and tank battle in front of Warsaw

Panthers of the SS division "Totenkopf" in Siedlce (July 25-29, 1944)
Fight for the beachhead at Magnuszew

On July 18, the southern wing of the 1st Belarusian Front, which had remained passive until then, began to attack in the Polish section of the front near the city of Kovel . Since the German troops had best secured this section of the front, the Red Army deployed a particularly large number of artillery pieces. The artillery bombardment therefore exceeded the intensity of the attacks in Belarus. Field Marshal Model had already had the German troops withdrawn from the untenable promontory near Kovel to more advantageous positions west of the city by July 8, but due to the massive superiority of the Red Army they had no way of stopping the Soviet attack. The Soviet 47th Army and the 8th Guards Army penetrated deeper into the former Polish territory and reached the western Bug on July 21st. Lublin was captured by the Red Army on July 24th.

At the same time, the northern wing of the 1st Belarusian Front attacked the German 2nd Army head-on, which was mainly located in an advanced front arc in the Pripjet swamps in front of the city of Brest-Litovsk , and pushed them back to the city that had been declared a "permanent place". The Soviet 70th Army advanced from the south on the place. On July 25, two German divisions were enclosed in Brest-Litovsk and, according to an order from Adolf Hitler, were supposed to defend the place “until the occupation was destroyed”.

In order to enable the 2nd Army to withdraw in an orderly manner, the German side launched two counter attacks. The German 4th Panzer Division and the 5th SS Panzer Division "Wiking" stopped an attack by Soviet tank units near the town of Kleszcele . At Siedlce a Soviet advance was repulsed by the 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" . In the high command of the Wehrmacht, General Field Marshal Model Hitler persuaded him to authorize the trapped German forces to break out of Brest-Litovsk. By July 29, the German units withdrew from Brest-Litovsk, with considerable losses.

The loss of the city was symbolic: the place was the first to be attacked at the beginning of the German-Soviet War. All the territorial gains achieved by the German troops were lost after they were retaken by the Red Army.

The Soviet troops first reached the east bank of the Vistula on July 25th. The 69th Army crossed the river and on July 29 built a bridgehead at Puławy . On July 27, 1944, the Soviet 2nd Panzer Army began to advance to the Polish capital Warsaw with around 800 armored vehicles from the Puławy area. She was supported in this by the 8th Guard Army under Vasily Iwanowitsch Tschuikow and the 1st Polish Army established by the Soviet Union under the command of General Zygmunt Berling , which was not part of the Armia Krajowa . The Soviet troops intended to take the Warsaw suburb of Praga out of the movement and to secure the Narew bridges of Zegrze and Serock further north . On August 1, 1944, the 8th Guards Army formed a second bridgehead over the Vistula in the village of Magnuszew . At the same time, the Soviet 3rd Panzer Corps advanced to the vicinity of the town of Radzymin .

Independently of the Soviet operations, the Armia Krajowa started the Warsaw Uprising on the same day . Analogous to the previous smaller surveys near Vilnius, Lemberg and Lublin, control of the Polish capital was to be obtained before the Red Army. The Polish fighters took large parts of the city into their hands, but they were not connected. Strategically important positions remained in German hands.

By deploying parts of the hastily brought up Parachute Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring together with the 73rd Infantry Division , the German troops defended Praga on July 28th and 29th. The 19th Panzer Division and the SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" carried out a pincer attack on the Polish town of Okuniew on the evening of August 1st and enclosed the Soviet 3rd Panzer Corps. After the arrival of the German 4th Panzer Division, Radzymin was retaken. By August 4th, the Soviet 3rd Panzer Corps was wiped out by German troops. A German defensive front had thus arisen again north of Warsaw. The attack off Warsaw was the last successful major operation by German tank units during the German-Soviet War. The successful defense prevented a Soviet advance towards the Baltic Sea until January 1945. Because of the German counterattack in the first days of August, the Soviet troops were unable to come to the aid of the Polish rebels in Warsaw.

On August 8, the Parachute Panzer Division and the 19th Panzer Division began counterattacks to eliminate the Soviet bridgeheads on the Vistula south of Warsaw. The German troops succeeded neither at Puławy nor at Magnuszew, where particularly fierce fighting took place near the village of Studzianki. The Soviet troops had built additional pontoon bridges over the river, protected them against air attacks with flak and brought sufficient supplies into the bridgeheads. On August 16, the German troops broke off their attack attempts and went over to the defense. The Soviet forces also expanded their positions in the period that followed and did not carry out any further attack operations south of Warsaw. One and a half months after the start of the Soviet offensive, the German front in the area of ​​Army Group Center and North was stabilized again.

Ossovets operation and the Warsaw Uprising controversy

Fort 2 of the Osowiec fortifications . The old fortifications were included in the German defensive position on the Narew in August 1944.
Soldiers of the Dirlewanger Brigade during the Warsaw Uprising (early August 1944)

In the meantime the German 2nd Army had taken up new positions along the Narew. These positions also included the old fortress Osowiec (Russian: Ossowez ), which came from the time of the Russian Empire. The offensive launched by the 49th Soviet Army on August 6, 1944, aimed at conquering these positions and opening up further approaches towards East Prussia. The attack made only slow progress against the well-protected German positions. It was only after a violent air raid that the Soviet troops succeeded in capturing the southern parts of the Ossovets fortress on August 14, 1944 . Further Soviet attacks carried out up to August 29, 1944 also achieved small gains in terrain due to the German resistance and the Soviet troops suffered heavy losses. The commander of the Soviet 343rd Rifle Division, Major General Yakimovich, was killed. The Soviet attacks continued as an independent operation until October 30, 1944.

At the same time fighting took place in Warsaw between the German occupation under the command of Rainer Stahel, who had escaped from Vilnius, and the Polish insurgents. Many German SS units that had been deployed to "fight gangs" in Belarus a few weeks earlier were relocated to Warsaw. Among them were notorious associations such as the Kaminski Brigade and the SS Dirlewanger special unit . The units under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinefarth , which also included a battalion from the special association Bergmann , committed a massacre in the first days of the uprising , killing between 20,000 and 50,000 Polish civilians. Despite some interventions, the brutal German approach continued into the rest of August. The Polish rebels, who had counted on the help of the Allies, were on their own.

After the fighting in front of Warsaw subsided, the Soviet troops began to bring in further reinforcements, but without starting further offensives in the area of ​​the embattled Polish capital. Unauthorized attempts by the 1st Polish Army, under Soviet command, to support the rebels on September 16, 1944, were quickly stopped by the Stawka. To this day there is controversy over the question of whether the Red Army consciously accepted the suppression of the uprising by the Germans. In conclusion, this can only be answered by inspecting the Stawka files, which are currently still under lock and key. This thesis is supported by the behavior of the Soviet troops after the capture of Vilnius and that the Red Army would have been able to use the forces tied up in the moderately successful Ossovets operation for an attack on Warsaw. One counter-argument is the poor supply situation in which the Soviet troops found themselves after the front had shifted 500 kilometers to the west within a month and a half. In addition, the front arc removed by the Ossowezer operation offered a good starting position for a new German counterattack as at Radzymin, so that Soviet forces advancing on Warsaw might have been included again. Marshal Rokossovsky (whose sister lived in Warsaw) denied in his memoir that he had the means to support the Warsaw Uprising.


Members of the RAD set up positions near the East Prussian border (August 11, 1944). In the summer of 1944 the eastern front reached the border of the German Reich.

Operation Bagration was carried out on a front width of 1100 kilometers, the advance reached a depth of up to 600 kilometers. It opened the way for the Red Army to the Bay of Riga , East Prussia, the central Vistula and Warsaw.

The Army Group North , a third of the Eastern Army, was cut off by the breakdown of the Soviet units to the Baltic temporarily from all land connections. The Wehrmacht was only able to reestablish a connection with the Kemern corridor with a lot of luck. Due to Hitler's refusal to completely withdraw Army Group North from the Baltic States, this large formation was later finally pushed back to the Kurland peninsula (→ Aster Company , Baltic Operation , Kurland Kessel ).

Due to the catastrophic losses, the Wehrmacht completely lost its operational ability to act on the Eastern Front and was only able to resist the Red Army in the following period. It was only a matter of time before the Red Army would invade the German Reich.

After the Soviet advance near Warsaw came to a temporary standstill at the end of August 1944, the Soviet high command shifted the focus of its attacks to the south. On August 20, the Red Army began another offensive on the territory of the Romanian-German front, known on the Soviet side as Operation Jassy-Kishinev . The collapse of Army Group South Ukraine enabled the Red Army to advance into southeastern Europe.

The overall strategic situation of the Second World War changed in such a way that the previously existing material superiority of the Soviet Union and the Allies over the German Reich continued to grow. That is why Operation Bagration does not represent a military turning point like the battles near Moscow , Stalingrad or Kursk , but rather, together with Operation Overlord , marked the beginning of the final phase of the Third Reich , because the total military defeat had become inevitable and a draw peace became unattainable.

The result of the Soviet offensive was only logical because of the serious strategic and political mistakes of the highest German political and military leadership. Militarily, the weak forces of Army Group Center had no chance in June 1944 of stopping the attack by the Red Army. Desperate countermeasures such as the attempt to assassinate Stalin (→ Company Zeppelin ) did nothing to change this situation.

Loss numbers

Serious articles about the losses of both major warring parties were not published until long after the fighting ended in the 1990s and 2000s. While the German side did not have any scientific papers on the major Soviet offensive available until the 1990s, Soviet historians exaggerated the strength of Army Group Center and the extent of the German losses. This only changed after the end of the Cold War. The work of the historians Kriwoschejew and Frieser are decisive for the current state of research.

According to Krivoschejew, the total losses of the Red Army amounted to 765,815 soldiers. 178,507 of them were killed and missing. 587,308 Red Army soldiers were reported wounded.

According to the research of the historian Frieser, the losses of the Wehrmacht through Operation Bagration totaled 399,102 soldiers. Of these, 26,397 reported dead, 262,929 prisoners and missing persons and 109,776 wounded in the summer of 1944. The actual number of soldiers killed on the German side can no longer be precisely determined. Since, according to Frieser, the number of so-called return fighters can be estimated at around 9,000 and that of prisoners of war at around 150,000, the number of German soldiers who fell during the fighting can be estimated at around 131,000.

According to the military historian Rolf-Dieter Müller, the total German losses "according to the latest figures" are estimated at 250,000 dead, wounded and missing, the Soviet - by the end of July - at 440,879. Müller's information represents a lower limit of possible loss figures for both sides.

According to Soviet information, which was made in the course of the compilation of the historical work История второй мировой войны 1939–1945 гг. (History of the Second World War 1939–1945) were created in the late 1970s in the Soviet Union, from June 22 to July 22, 1944, 381,000 German soldiers died and 158,480 were taken prisoner; 2,735 tanks, 631 aircraft, 8,702 artillery pieces and 57,152 motor vehicles were destroyed or captured. The resulting total of 539,480 soldiers, however, exceeds the number of soldiers deployed in Army Group Center, which on June 20, 1944 was only 486,493. The number of 2,735 allegedly destroyed German tanks is even 4.7 times higher than the number of 570 tanks actually in existence.

No precise information can be given about the losses suffered by the fighters of the Polish Armia Krajowa. Likewise, little is known about the casualties in the Belarusian, Lithuanian and Polish civilian populations directly caused by the fighting in Operation Bagration. In the three years of the German occupation, around 1.4 million people, i.e. a quarter of the Belarusian civilian population, lost their lives.

End of the Holocaust on the territory of the Soviet Union

Even before the Soviet summer offensive, a large part of the Jewish population in Belarus, Lithuania and Eastern Poland had been systematically murdered by German task forces , the von Gottberg combat group or in extermination camps. The ghettos in the Belarusian cities were liquidated. For example, the last 2,000 inhabitants of the Minsk Ghetto were killed by SS police units on October 21, 1943 in the Maly Trostinez extermination camp . The Jews, who were still alive in 1944, either offered resistance as partisans in the woods or were exploited as workers in various Wehrmacht and SS camps.

Dissolution of the German concentration camps on Soviet soil

The advance of the Red Army ended the destruction of the Jewish population by the Germans. For the Jews who were still trapped in the camps, however, it usually meant death or deportation to the western Reich area, as the camps were hastily destroyed by the withdrawing guards and special units of the SS before the arrival of the Soviet soldiers. In some cases, the camps were mistakenly attacked by the Soviet troops, which led to further victims. For example, the Maly Trostinez camp was shelled by Soviet attack planes on June 28, 1944.

Due to the thoroughness of the SS, the Red Army soldiers had no chance of reaching the camps in time and liberating their inmates. Usually, as in Maly Trostinez, the soldiers of the Red Army only found burned buildings and the charred corpses of the last prisoners. Camp inmates were only able to save themselves if they managed to hide from the Germans in hiding or to escape at the last minute. In this way and with the help of the German major Karl Plagge, a significant number of prisoners survived in the camp of the Heereskraftfahrpark (HKP) 562 Ost in Vilnius.

Fate of the surviving Jews

The liberation by the Red Army meant that the traumatized survivors could move about freely for the first time since the summer of 1941. The Jewish partisans returned from the woods to their hometowns. There were cases of vigilante justice against former neighbors who collaborated with the Germans and had relatives or acquaintances handed over to the SS. Many of the former partisans volunteered for service in the Red Army or were drafted a little later. In some cases, Jewish prisoners were treated as collaborators by the Soviet soldiers and imprisoned again. This happened, for example, with a group of about 20 prisoners who had managed to escape from Maly Trostinez on June 28, 1944 and who were discovered on July 4 by soldiers of the Red Army. They were deported to camps in Siberia and only released from there in 1946.

Beginning of coming to terms with the Holocaust

Soviet soldiers at the incinerators in the Majdanek extermination camp . Undated photo of Abraham Pisarek .

The full extent of National Socialist atrocities came to the light of the world for the first time as a result of Operation Bagration, as areas were liberated in which mainly German concentration and extermination camps were located. Because of the accumulation of reports on the execution sites, the Soviet Union set up special commissions to investigate German crimes. Despite the efforts of the SS to cover up the existence of the camps, the commissions active in August and September 1944 succeeded in locating places that had already been made unrecognizable, such as the Sobibor extermination camp , based on the statements of survivors . Soviet journalists like Wassili Grossman reported for the first time in the Soviet media about the former German camps. The news and results of the investigation were also passed on to the Western allies. As a result, at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 , the Allies agreed not only on demilitarization but also on continuous “ denazification ” of Germany for the period after their victory.

As a result of the announcement of the German atrocities in the Soviet Union, the anger of the Soviet soldiers at everything German continued to grow. In combination with the Soviet hate propaganda, this led to the war crimes committed by the Red Army on German territory from January 1945.

Public display of captured German soldiers in Moscow

German prisoners of war in Moscow on July 17, 1944

In order to present the extent of the Soviet victory in Belarus to the world public, Stalin ordered that the German soldiers captured during the annihilation of the German 4th Army should be parade through Moscow. The reason for this was to induce the governments of Finland, Romania and Hungary, which were still allied with the German Reich, to change sides and to show the allied British and Americans the strength of the Red Army. The parade ordered by Stalin took place on July 17, 1944. 57,000 captured German soldiers were driven through Moscow in two separate columns. At the head of the larger column, the captured commanders of Army Group Center marched together with other officers and NCOs. The prisoners were verbally abused and some objects were thrown at them. The Soviet soldiers assigned to guard, however, had strict orders not to allow any encroachments by the angry crowd. Since the prisoners, who had often not been cared for for days, were given plenty of kasha and bread spread with lard on the evening of July 16, many of them suffered from diarrhea during the march. Accordingly, the streets were cleaned with cleaning machines after the prisoners' train had passed the city.

Large parts of the Germans were sent from Moscow to labor camps near Karaganda , Kuibyshev , Stalingrad , in the Ukraine and near Cherepovets . (→ List of Soviet POW camps from World War II ) The German generals were separated from the rest of the prisoners after the march through the city and taken to Moscow's Butyrka prison.

Of the approximately 150,000 German soldiers captured, an estimated 20 to 25 percent died while being transported to the Soviet prison camps. Compared to other operations in the German-Soviet War, this is a particularly high figure. These losses are caused by a general lack of food, extreme climatic conditions and exhausting long walks. There are no indications in the Soviet files accessible today that these losses were intentionally caused by the Soviet side.

Operation Bagration and the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt

The rapid advance of the Red Army and the increasingly unfavorable situation of the German troops in Normandy were shocking for the members of the resistance group around Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg . The first lieutenant of the reserve Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort , on behalf of Stauffenbergs, asked Henning von Tresckow whether a military change had any practical purpose at all. Von Tresckow, who as Chief of Staff of the 2nd German Army knew better than any other resistance member about the actual situation on the German Eastern Front, replied:

“The assassination must take place, coûte que coûte. If it doesn't work, you still have to act in Berlin. Because it is not only a question of the practical purpose, but also that the German resistance movement dared to make the decisive throw before the world and before history. Everything else is irrelevant. "

Von Tresckow planned to open the German western front to Allied troops immediately after the coup was successful . The German units that were freed as a result were then to be relocated to the Eastern Front immediately in order to prevent further Soviet advance to the west and thus a Soviet occupation of Germany. At the same time, negotiations on a ceasefire should also begin with the Soviet Union. After the catastrophic defeat in Belarus, however, the German Reich no longer had any room for negotiation with the Soviet Union if the measures proposed by Tresckow did not take effect.

Not all of the resistance members shared Tresckow's opinion. Field Marshal Günther von Kluge had already given up as Commander in Chief West and no longer supported Tresckow's and Georg Boeselager's efforts to start negotiations with the Allies.

The majority of the officers of the military resistance continued their efforts and preparations for an assassination attempt on Hitler reached a final climax. On July 18, 1944, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager began relocating six squadrons of the 31st Cavalry Regiment from the German front in the eastern part of Poland towards Berlin on the instructions of his brother Georg . The six squadrons reached Brest-Litovsk , which had just been declared a "fixed place", and crossed the city without a break. They rode on through the night and after a distance of over 200 kilometers they reached the Polish village of Lachówka ( Powiat Siemiatycki ). There the squadron chiefs received a reference to "a possible deployment in the Reich in a situation similar to a civil war". The unit was to be flown to Berlin-Tempelhof . From there she was to immediately advance to the Reich Security Main Office and the Propaganda Ministry in order to arrest and liquidate Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels .

The squadrons were preparing to be loaded onto trucks and then transported by air when the news of the failure of the assassination attempt on Hitler came on the radio in the late afternoon. Georg von Boeselager and his brother immediately relocated the squadrons back to the German Eastern Front. No one noticed these movements, however, so that all those involved in the 31st Cavalry Regiment were spared an investigation and arrest by the Secret State Police .

Henning von Tresckow himself committed suicide on the morning of July 21 at the front near Brest on the morning of July 21, after he had learned of the failure of the assassination attempt on Hitler .

In contrast to the few directly involved, the majority of the soldiers in Army Group Center who were still fighting felt the assassination attempt on Hitler as treason, as the timing was considered extremely unfavorable due to the extremely critical situation at the front. So remarked Peter Butler , at the time of the attack liaison officer for the 14th Panzer Division in the General Staff, in a given later interview as follows: "[...] My first reaction was:" For heaven's sake, now in this situation a mess cause, that doesn't work ”.” The attack was viewed as a “stab in the back of the fighting soldiers” and in no way led to a rebellion of the Germans against their superiors. The commanders of the Wehrmacht began to expect that there would be fighting with units of the Waffen-SS , until finally news of the final failure of the coup attempt arrived.

The news of the coup attempt also sparked new activities by the NKFD and the BdO . 17 German generals of Army Group Center captured by the Red Army, under the leadership of Vincenz Müller, who was embittered by the events in the Minsk Kessel, appealed to every “German general and officer”, which was later signed by Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus . This appeal called for the NSDAP regime to be overthrown by force. In fact, this appeal was viewed by the German officer corps as an opportunistic attempt by the generals involved to save their own skin. For this reason, the effect of this and subsequent calls was extremely small.

Long-term consequences

The destruction in Belarus and the Baltic States caused by the scorched earth tactics used by the Germans and Soviet artillery fire was enormous. In nearly all of the cities contested during Operation Bagration, over 70 percent of the houses were uninhabitable or razed to the ground. Sometimes cities had to be completely rebuilt. This was particularly true of Babrujsk , Mahiljou , Wizebsk , Minsk , Brest-Litovsk , Šiauliai and Jelgava . An exception to this is the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, whose old town remained largely intact due to the Polish uprising on July 7, 1944.

During the reconstruction work of the first post-war years, cities in Belarus were given preferential treatment. This meant that some of the Belarusian rural population lived in makeshift dwellings that were built during the war until the 1950s.

The former eastern Polish territories were permanently incorporated into the territory of Belarus after the Soviet victory. The entire Polish population was later to be deported westwards to formerly German areas. However, part of the Polish population remained in Belarus. Ethnic tensions between Belarusians and the Polish minority in western Belarus have not yet been resolved and are currently (February 2010) leading to a tense relationship between Belarus and Poland, along with other political factors.

Due to the massive use of landmines by the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, Belarus is still burdened with the clearing of undocumented minefields from the time of the Second World War to this day (2007). Especially in the regions around Minsk, Vitebsk and Gomel, which were a frontline area for a long time, there is still a mine risk today. Between 1944 and February 2006, 6171 mine accidents were documented. 2665 people lost their lives.


The operation was named by the Soviet High Command Stavka after the name of General Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration , who fell against Napoleonic troops in the Battle of Borodino in 1812.

The period that encompasses Operation Bagration is omitted from the version of the war diary of the Wehrmacht Command Staff edited by Percy Ernst Schramm on the grounds that the warfare on this scene was under the sole responsibility of Adolf Hitler and the General Staff of the Army. With a few exceptions, the OKH's documents are said to have been lost.


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  • Documentary series Hitler's War in the East (original title The War of the Century ), Part 4: Die Vergeltung , production by BBC and NDR , 1996
  • Episode 1944 - Marshal Rokossovsky of the documentary series Historical Chronicles by Nikolai Svanidze, production of the TV channel Rossiya 1 , 2006, main page of the documentaries (Russian)

Web links

Commons : Operation Bagration  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

Text passages that are difficult to find (for example from Solzhenitsyn's extensive work The Gulag Archipelago ) have been reproduced in full to save the reader the search for them.

  1. ^ Military Encyclopedic Dictionary. P. 60.
  2. ^ A b Dunn: Soviet Blitzkrieg: The Battle for White Russia, 1944. S. ???
  3. ^ Hermann Gackenholz: The collapse of the Army Group in mid-1944. In: Hans-Adolf Jacobsen / Jürgen Rohwer (eds.): Decisive battles of the Second World War. Bernard & Graefe publishing house, Frankfurt / Main 1960, p. 474.
  4. a b c d von Tippelskirch: History of the Second World War. P. 462.
  5. ^ Gackenholz: The collapse of the Army Group in mid-1944 . P. 451.
  6. Crimes of the Wehrmacht - Dimensions of the War of Extermination. (Catalog of the Wehrmacht exhibition), p. 398.
  7. ^ Race: human material. Pp. 370, 386-402.
  8. Е. Морозов (Ed.): Преступления немецко-фашистских оккупантов в Белоруссии. 1941-1944. Pp. 142-161.
  9. ^ Exhibition catalog Crimes of the Wehrmacht - Dimensions of the War of Extermination 1941–1944. Pp. 397-428.
  10. a b Stephan: Stalin's Secret War. P. 148.
  11. a b Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, pp. 424-431.
  12. a b c von Tippelskirch: History of the Second World War. P. 460.
  13. ^ Ziemke: From Stalingrad to Berlin.
  14. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. P. 527.
  15. Willy Peter Reese , Stefan Schmitz (eds.): "Mir sich seltsam stremd" - the inhumanity of war, Russia 1941–1944. Claasen-Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-546-00345-4 :
    a) see p. 248.
  16. ^ Letter from a master tailor from Opole dated November 21, 1945: "[...] The last time I was on vacation [in March 1944], I knew where I was going. [...] Milek Hans, the one with the amputated arm, was the only one to whom I told that I would go to the partisans, because otherwise I would have to join the military and I have and I will never fight for a Hitler. I went to Kalus and said goodbye to my comrades. I also told my colleagues in Opole my concern. I was supposed to go to Lojevze on a pitch black night and took this opportunity to escape. I went to my Russian comrade Kulitzki, everything was already prepared and after a few days we and 5 men went to the partisans. Here I was celebrated very big. Here I tried to save German comrades from death for the insane Hitler, but my action failed because of the stupidity of the soldiers. "
  17. ^ Race: human material. Pp. 307-330.
  18. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, p. 354, 355: Entry from May 27, 1944: “[…] For the first time, loudspeaker propaganda is being carried out in the division of the division by the notorious“ National Committee Free Germany ”. It has no effect, and the division describes the mood and attitude of the troops, which are doing everything possible to relax and support them, as very gratifying. From 5.5. a front cinema is in operation. The units build bath bunkers and saunas. Occasionally even the music plays. "
  19. ^ Hans-Georg Gerhardt: Food situation of the German army in the 2nd World War. Inaugural Diss. Univ. Greifswald 1969.
  20. ^ Race: human material. Pp. 354-358.
  21. Andreas Ulrich: The Nazi Death Machine: Hitler's Drugged Soldiers. Spiegel Online from June 5, 2005
  22. ^ Race: human material. P. 169 ff., P. 276 ff.
  23. to Lannoy: La Ruée de l'Armée Rouge. P. 60 ff.
  24. Pohl: The rule of the armed forces. P. 294.
  25. ^ Schneider: Tigers in Combat I. P. 46.
  26. Williamson, Bujeiro: German Army Elite Units 1939-45. P. 40.
  27. Alexander Brakel: Under Red Star and Swastika. Baranowicze 1939 to 1944. Western Belarus under Soviet and German occupation Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2009, p. 153.
  28. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers.
  29. ^ Musial: Soviet partisans in Belarus. P. 151.
  30. ^ Musial: Soviet partisans in Belarus. P. 151 ff.
  31. ^ Musial: Soviet partisans in Belarus. P. 221 ff.
  32. Borodziej: The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. pp. 50-53.
  33. ^ Musial: Soviet partisans in Belarus. P. 155.
  34. Ragula: Against the Current. Pp. 73-95.
  35. ^ A b John A. Armstrong (Ed.): "Soviet Partisans in World War II". Pp. 543-546.
  36. ^ Exhibition catalog Crimes of the Wehrmacht - Dimensions of the War of Extermination 1941–1944. Pp. 429-460.
  37. PzAOK 3, Ic / AO: Development of the gang situation in the area of ​​the 3rd Pz Army during the month of May 1944. May 27, 1944, p. 1 (GMDS, PzAOK 3, 62587/12)
  38. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers. P. 255 ff.
  39. Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. Map pp. 182-183.
  40. ^ Glantz: The role of intelligence in soviet Military Strategy in World War II. P. ???
  41. Musial: Soviet Partisans. Pp. 227-230.
  42. a b c v.Plato: History of the 5th Panzer Division. P. 339.
  43. Pawel Anatoljewitsch Sudoplatow : Special operations: Lubyanka and Kremlin 1930 to 1950. Moscow 1997, ISBN 5-94849-202-8 , Chapter 6: Enlightenment in the years of the Great Patriotic War; “Operations carried out by the partisan combat groups sometimes gained strategic importance and played an important preparatory role through the disorganization of connections to the rear [of the German Wehrmacht], for example at the beginning of our offensive in Belarus. These operations have come to be known as 'Railway War' or 'Concert'. On the eve of the attack on Belarus, we stepped forward and interrupted the German army's railway lines, which were mainly used to get their supplies. "; orig. Text: "Операции, проведенные боевыми группами партизан, порой приобретали стратегическое значение и сыграли важную роль в дезорганизации тыловых коммуникаций , когда в 1944 году развернулось наше наступление в Белоруссии. Эти операции известны как ‹Рельсовая война›, или ‹Концерт›. В канун нашего наступления в Белоруссии мы вывели из строя основные железнодорожный лимя лимя линие снабжне. Online version
  44. ^ Piekałkiewicz: The Second World War. S. ???
  45. Musial: Soviet Partisans. P. 313.
  46. a b Ragula: Against the Current. P. 96.
  47. a b c François de Lannoy: La ruée de l'Armée Rouge. Heimdal-Verlag Bayeux 2002, ISBN 2-84048-155-3 :
    a) see pp. 2–3.
    c) The figures are taken from this book.
  48. ^ Gackenholz: The collapse of Army Group Center. P. 445.
  49. ^ Werth: Russia at War 1941–1945. S. ???
  50. ^ [1] Operation Bagration , article in the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta on the 60th anniversary of the Soviet offensive of July 23, 2004 (accessed on December 23, 2009, in Russian)
  51. Falin: Second Front: The Conflicts of Interest of the Anti-Hitler Coalition. S. ???
  52. ^ Churchill: The Second World War. Vol. ??, p. ???
  53. a b Merridale: Ivan's War. P. 264.
  54. a b Glantz: Soviet Military Deception. P. 362.
  55. Wassilewski: thing of the whole life. P. 402.
  56. Konarew: Railway workers in the Great Patriotic War 1941–45. Chapter 9, p. ??? (The document was only available as a chm file without a page number)
  57. a b c Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 532.
  58. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, p. 354, p. 362.
  59. Merridale: Ivan's War. P. 267.
  60. Merridale: Ivan's War. P. 191, p. 237, p. 271.
  61. Merridale: Ivan's War. Pp. 272-273.
  62. Merridale: Ivan's War. P. 275.
  63. AA Maslow: How were the Soviet blocking detachments used? English translation by David M. Glantz ( online )
  64. ^ Glantz: Soviet Military Deception. Pp. 372-375.
  65. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 517.
  66. Glantz, Orenstein: Belorussia 1944. p. 29.
  67. ^ Glantz: Soviet Military Deception. Pp. 364, 366.
  68. Tschuikow: The end of the Third Reich. P. 15.
  69. ^ Erickson: The Road to Berlin. S. ???
  70. a b of Saucken, Neumann: 4th Armored Division. Division history. Vol. 2, p. 363.
  71. ^ Rolf Hinze: The collapse of Army Group Center. in the war year 1944 - on a large and small scale. Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH Stuttgart.
  72. v.Plato: history of the 5th Panzer Division. P. 338: The poem Wetterwende. by Hptm. v. Speeches of June 20, 1944.
  73. Kruptschenko: textbook military history. P. 237.
  74. victory.mil.ru ( Memento from July 18, 2012 in the web archive archive.today )
  75. ^ Glantz: Soviet Military Deception. Pp. 360-379.
  76. ^ Baxter: Operation Bagration. P. 119 ff.
  77. a b Я.М. Ляховецкий: 28 ОГМД в Смоленской, Белорусской, Восточно-Прусской операциях. 2009 Archive link ( Memento from June 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (Ja.M. Lyachowezki: The 28th Guards Mechanized Division during the Smolensk, Belarusian and East Prussian Operation. Accessed on January 31, 2010)
  78. Берестов Пётр Филиппович December 21, 1898 - November 26, 1961
  79. ОПЕРАЦИЯ «БАГРАТИОН» ОСВОБОЖДЕНИЕ БЕЛОРУССИИ. Москва ОЛМА-ПРЕСС, 2004, accessed January 25, 2015 ( ISBN 5-224-04603-3 ).
  80. ^ Mehner: The secret daily reports of the German Wehrmacht leadership in World War II. Vol. 10, pp. 284 ff.
  81. Kruptschenko et al .: Textbook military history. P. 236.
  82. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. P. 529.
  83. ^ Kriwoschejew: Soviet Casualities and Combat Losses. P. 145.
  84. Interview of the Russian military historian Alexei Issajew on the 65th anniversary of the offensive on Radio Echo Moscow on August 17, 2009 Цена Победы (Russian)
  85. WO Daines, et al .: History of Russian Military Strategy. P. 340.
  86. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 533.
  87. Groehler: History of the Air War 1910 to 1980. P. 435.
  88. ^ Samuel J. Lewis: German Counterartillery Measures on the Eastern Front in 1944–45: Operation Bagration online ( Memento from January 1, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  89. Kruptschenko: textbook military history. Pp. 237-238.
  90. ^ Zaloga: IS-2 Heavy Tank, 1944-73. P. 10.
  91. ^ Glantz: Soviet Military Deception. Maps p. 372, 373.
  92. a b von Tippelskirch: History of the Second World War. P. 463.
  93. ^ Mehner: The secret daily reports of the German Wehrmacht leadership in World War II. Vol. 10, p. 295.
  94. ^ Mehner: The secret daily reports of the German Wehrmacht leadership in World War II. Vol. 10, p. 300.
  95. Glantz, Orenstein: Belorussia 1944 - The Soviet General Staff Study. P. 85.
  96. see Vladimir Karpov: Russia in War 1941–1945. Weltbild, ISBN 3-8289-0578-1 .
  97. История 2-й мировой войны 1939–1945. (History of the Second World War 1939–1945), Volume 9, p. 62.
  98. Glantz, Orenstein: Belorussia 1944. P. 97.
  99. Lannoy: La Ruée de l'Armée Rouge. P. 97.
  100. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 547.
  101. ^ Wright: The World at Arms. P. 337.
  102. Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. Pp. 420-423.
  103. Christian Zentner: The Second World War. S. ???
  104. ^ Janusz Piekałkiewicz: The Second World War. S. ???
  105. a b Pütz: War and National Socialism in the Bergisches Land. P. 158.
  106. a b Pütz: War and National Socialism in the Bergisches Land. P. 156.
  107. Glantz; Belorussia 1944 - the Soviet General Staff Study. Pp. 104-105.
  108. ^ Beevor, Vinogradova (ed.): A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army. S. ???
  109. Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. Pp. 418, 419.
  110. Alexander Solzhenitsyn : The GuLAG archipelago. ISBN 3-499-14196-5 :
    Vol. I, chap. 6., pp. 239–240: “I am ashamed when I remember how I was back then, during the development (read plundering) of the Bobruisk basin, when I was between the shot and overturned German cars, the abandoned German truckers and strolled through the looted luxury scattered around, suddenly heard someone shout: “Captain! Herr Hauptmann! "And in a lowland where German supply wagons and cars got stuck and what was just captured was set on fire, saw the man pleading with me in pure Russian for help, a man in German uniform trousers, but bare-chested, Blood all over him, on his face, on his chest, on his shoulders, on his back - and the sergeant from the special service up to his horse, who drove him with lashes and the croup of his horse. He let the knout fall on the victim's naked body so that it would not look around, not call for help; he drove the man forward and beat him, pounding new bloody marks into his skin.
    It wasn't the Punic , not the Greco-Persian War ! Any officer with authority in any army should have stopped the wanton ill-treatment. Anyone - yes, just ours too? ... With the ruthlessness and absoluteness of our two-pole classification system ? (Anyone who is not with us, therefore against us, is subject to contempt and destruction.) In short: I was TOO FIG to defend the Vlasov man from the special servant, I HAVE NOT SAID AND DONE NOTHING, I WENT PASSED AS IF I HADN'T HEARD - so that the universally tolerated plague doesn't spread to me (what if the man is a super villain ? What if the sergeant thinks I am ...? What if ...?). Yes, even easier: Anyone who knows the atmosphere in our army at that time - would the special duty officer have taken orders from a simple captain?
    And so a defenseless person was driven on like a head of cattle, and the man from the special service never stopped whipping him, his face contorted with anger.
    This picture has stayed with me forever. Because it is almost a symbol of the archipelago and would fit perfectly on the book cover. "
  111. ^ Kopelew: Keeping for all time. P. 44: “I had seen the first student assistants in the summer of 1944 in Byelorussia. Our soldiers sometimes settled accounts with them on their own right at the point of their capture: “Aaah, compatriots, traitors, the hell with you, damned Vlasov gangs, dogs!” They were still lucky if they were shot or hung up immediately. It also happened that they were tormented for a long time and finally trampled to death. "
  112. http://9may.ru/29.06.1944/inform/m1001
  113. Gotzes: War and Destruction. P. 110.
  114. Glantz, Orenstein: Belorussia 1944. pp. 180-181.
  115. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, p. 366.
  116. see Fight to Fall ( Memento from January 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  117. ^ Gackenholz: collapse of Army Group Center. P. 467: “[...] The change in command was associated with a change not only in the“ style ”of the conduct of operations, but also in relation to the top command. The reputation that the new Commander-in-Chief possessed with Hitler immediately asserted itself, [...] which was noticed with a certain astonishment in the command staff of the Army Group. "
  118. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 552.
  119. v. Plato: History of the 5th Panzer Division. P. 342.
  120. v. Plato: History of the 5th Panzer Division. P. 343.
  121. ^ Corpses of murdered civilians in Borissow, (July 6, 1944, photo archive of the Yadvashem memorial, call number 3150/121, photographer: F. Kislow)
  122. v. Plato: History of the 5th Panzer Division. Pp. 343-348.
  123. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, p. 378.
  124. Gotzes: War and Destruction. P. 108.
  125. ^ Lapp: General with Hitler and Ulbricht. Vincenz Müller - A German Career. P. 138.
  126. ^ Report on the development of the situation in the 4th Army during the Russian summer offensive in 1944 and the events of the detached units , NARA T-312 R-244, pp. 79–95.
  127. a b von Tippelskirch: History of the Second World War. P. 468.
  128. a b Lapp: General with Hitler and Ulbricht. Vincenz Müller - A German Career. P. 139.
  129. ^ Gackenholz: The collapse of the Army Group in mid-1944 . P. 471.
  130. a b Merz: The 260th Infantry Division. P. 128.
  131. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, map between pp. 556 and 557.
  132. ^ Lapp: General with Hitler and Ulbricht. Vincenz Müller - A German Career. P. 140.
  133. Glantz, Orenstein: Belorussia 1944. P. 145.
  134. История 2-й мировой войны 1939–1945. (History of the Second World War 1939–1945) Volume 9, p. 54.
  135. ^ Kopelew: Keeping for all time. P. 66.
  136. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers. P. 267.
  137. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers. P. 268.
  138. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, pp. 363-375.
  139. Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. P. 31.
  140. v.Plato: history of the 5th Panzer Division. P. 353.
  141. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, pp. 560-561.
  142. after Hinze: Ostfrontdrama. P. 434 ff.
  143. ^ Ullrich: Like a Cliff in the Ocean , p. 239.
  144. ^ Morosow: Atlas of the BSSR. P. 46.
  145. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, pp. 626-630.
  146. Michail Trofimowitsch Tschwenjawskij, Naratsch , former partisan - in Hinrich Herbert Rüßmeyer - search for traces (PDF; 2.3 MB): “On July 4th [1944] the Soviet army came to Mjadel ( Belarusian : Мядзел). The soldiers of the Wehrmacht wanted to defend Mjadel in a ring. They fought until the Red Army came, but then had to surrender. After the surrender, the soldiers of the Wehrmacht and the Ordnungspolizei each had to stand in a row. The soldiers were handed over to the Red Army as prisoners of war, the police officers to the partisans. [The police officers were shot.] "
  147. Николай Жуков: В тот день Москва салютовала Вильнюсу. Lithuanian Courier №29 (751) of July 16, 2010, (accessed August 16, 2010).
  148. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 563.
  149. ^ Williamson: German Special Forces of World War II. P. 42.
  150. a b Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. P. 92.
  151. a b c Borodziej: The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. P. 56.
  152. Heusinger: Orders in conflict. Pp. 348-349.
  153. ^ Borodziej: The Warsaw Uprising of 1944. P. 57.
  154. ^ The Doomed Soldiers: Polish Underground Soldiers 1944–1963 - The Untold Story , accessed May 20, 2010.
  155. a b Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 567.
  156. a b Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 587.
  157. ^ Stančikas: 16th Lithuanian Rifle Division. P. 247.
  158. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 565.
  159. ^ Short story by Schirwindt ( Memento from May 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  160. Reinoss (ed.): Last days in East Prussia. Pp. 28-29, 50, 237-238.
  161. von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, pp. 408-430.
  162. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 569.
  163. Borodziej: Der Warsaw Uprising 1944. (German edition Fischer, 2001, ISBN 3-10-007806-3 ), p. 114 f.
  164. Hinze: Ostfrontdrama 1944. p. 400.
  165. Tschuikow: The end of the Third Reich. P. 39.
  166. ^ RIA Novosti Archive, reports from August 14, 1944 ( memento of July 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on August 21, 2010).
  167. a b c Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 648.
  168. Maslow: Fallen Soviet Generals. P. 155.
  169. Davies: Rising '44. P. 253.
  170. ^ Zaloga, Hook: The Polish Army 1939–45. P. 23.
  171. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 585.
  172. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 586.
  173. Рокоссовский: Солдатский долг. Pp. 274–283 ( online )
  174. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. P. 590.
  175. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. P. 535.
  176. ^ Kriwoschejew: Soviet Casualities and Combat Losses. P. 144.
  177. ^ Baxter: Operation Bagration. P. 107, data from the Soviet news agency RIA Novosti amounted to 158,480 prisoners (Lannoy: La ruée de l'Armée Rouge. P. 158.)
  178. Frieser: The German Empire and the Second War. Vol. 8, pp. 593-594: 399,102 minus 109,776 minus 9,000 minus 150,000 = 130,326.
  179. Müller: The last German war. 1939-1945. P. 280.
  180. http://9may.ru/28.07.1944/inform/m1026
  181. Sahm: The Second World War as a founding myth. P. 43.
  182. a b Benz, Distel (ed.): The Place of Terror - History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Vol. 8, pp. 68, 202-203, 227-228, 231.
  183. Морозов (Ed.): Преступления немецко-фашистских оккупантов в Белоруссии. 1941-1944. Pp. 208-211.
  184. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers. P. 274.
  185. Duffy: The Bielski Brothers. Pp. 273, 278, 279.
  186. ^ Dean: Collaboration in the Holocaust. P. 154.
  187. http://www.deathcamps.org/occupation/maly%20trostinec_de.html
  188. Василий Семенович Гроссман: Треблинский ад. September 1944, ( online )
  189. Kopelew: And yet hope: Texts from the German years. Pp. 112-114.
  190. ^ Frieser: The German Empire and the Second World War. Vol. 8, p. 557.
  191. ^ Erickson: The Road to Berlin. P. 229.
  192. ^ Proskouriakow: The social awareness and the perception of the war of the German and Russian soldiers. Appendix V: Lavrenti Beria’s report to Stalin on July 17, 1944
  193. Werth: Russia at War. P. 574.
  194. Sergei Lipatow, Valery Jaremenko: The march through Moscow. In: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 16, 2004.
  195. ^ Böhme: The German prisoners of war in Soviet hands - a balance sheet. Pp. 27-29.
  196. ^ Lapp: General with Hitler and Ulbricht. Vincenz Müller - A German Career. P. 143.
  197. Bet, Ueberschär: War crimes in the 20th century. P. 186.
  198. ^ Böhme: The German prisoners of war in Soviet hands - a balance sheet. P. 55 f.
  199. ^ Hilger: German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union 1941-1956. P.56.
  200. Achmann: Life pictures from the military resistance. P. 92.
  201. a b Lisa Erdmann: Hitler assassination attempt on July 20, 1944: The last of the conspirators. In: Spiegel Online . December 14, 2004, accessed May 14, 2020 . Philipp von Boeselager said: "It was an incredible effort, people slept in the saddle."
  202. Achmann: Life pictures from the military resistance. P. 94.
  203. a b Hinze: Eastern Front Drama. P. 16.
  204. a b Der Spiegel from November 12, 2007 p. 180: Malte Herwig, Philipp Oehmke: I would have lacked the courage .
  205. Bodo Scheurig: Traitors or Patriots. The National Committee “Free Germany” and the Association of German Officers in the Soviet Union 1943–1945. 1965 and 1993, pp. 155-157.
  206. Heim-Statt Tschernobyl eV, search for traces and survey of contemporary witnesses 2004 (PDF; 2.3 MB)
  207. http://www.tagesschau.de:80/ausland/weissrussland112.html ( Memento from February 21, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  208. a b http://archives.the-monitor.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2006/belarus.html
  209. http://archives.the-monitor.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/1999/belarus.html
  210. Schramm: War Diary of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. Vol. IVa, p. 856.


  1. In the course of the entire Bagration operation, Red Army troops carried out eleven partial offensives, which are described in Russian military historiography Vitebsk-Orsha Operation, Mogilev Operation, Bobruisk Operation, Polotsker Operation, Minsk Operation, Vilnius Operation, Schaulener Operation, Bialystoker Operation, Lublin-Brester Operation, Kaunasser Operation and Ossowezer Operation. The classification is helpful in order not to lose the central theme in several parallel storylines and is therefore retained.
  2. There is no precise information or sources available about the reasons for this decision.
  3. The number of weapons is not necessarily to be equated with the effective military power, since in 1944 the automation of the weapon systems was not possible as it is today. In addition, the weapons must also be state-of-the-art and well maintained. At the beginning of the German-Soviet War, the Red Army had a total of around 20,000 tanks at its disposal, most of which were already out of date. The military power of this huge number of tanks was therefore limited.
  4. This fact was denied by Soviet historians a little later after the beginning of the Cold War . Allegedly, the goods delivered to the Soviet Union by the Allies represented only 4 percent of Soviet industrial production. (Yeremenko: Unmasked as a forger. P. 102) In fact, from the time of Operation Bagration, very many photos of Soviet infantrymen can be found on Matilda and Sherman tanks of British and American production.
  5. The Russian pseudonym 'Samogon' means something like 'home-made schnapps'.
  6. Maskirowka is the Russian word for the German term camouflage . In contrast to other armies of the time, the camouflage methods in the Red Army were continuously perfected due to the negative experiences of the war years 1941 and 1942, when the German intelligence was mostly very well informed about the Soviet troop movements. Camouflage was now viewed as a separate operational process. In order to mislead the German Enlightenment, independent pioneer departments were set up that could simulate a Soviet troop deployment or hide the traces of large troop movements. (see Glantz: Soviet Military Deception )
  7. von Tippelskirch: “At the front of Army Group Center, the veil that lay over the future intentions of the Russian leadership began to lift around June 10th. […] “What is meant is an agent report from this date, in which there is talk of a major offensive in the Vitebsk and Orsha area in the direction of Minsk. This is mentioned in Erickson.
  8. Only the northern wing of the 1st Belarusian Front is included in the structure. The 1st Belarusian Front comprised considerably more armies than the other fronts, because it was responsible for the entire front arc from southeast Belarus over the Pripet Marshes to the northwest Ukrainian Kovel. The battle line to be defended from the front had a total length of over 600 kilometers. The southern wing of the 1st Belarusian Front was only used during the Lublin-Brester operation from July 18, 1944.
  9. The first attacks took place on June 21 in the area of ​​the 299th Infantry Division and were a test of the German resilience by the Red Army.
  10. Tippelskirch as well as Gackenholz assume that this staggering was carried out in order to allow a maximum number of air raids in the respective attacked section.
  11. Other sources give even smaller numbers. In v.Plato, History of the 5th Panzer Division. On p. 338 it is said that large parts of Air Fleet 6 including all reconnaissance aircraft had been relocated to France and that only 40 operational fighter planes were available.
  12. After the Second World War the officers of the 4th Panzer Division were reproached by General Gerd Niepold - the then Ia of the German 12th Panzer Division - that it had been wrong to unload the 4th Panzer Division at Baranowitschi . It would have been better to transport them to Stoubzy, because this might have kept the passage at Stoubzy open for the retreating 4th Army. (von Saucken, Neumann: 4th Panzer Division. Division history. Vol. 2, pp. 378, 379.)
  13. In Tippelskirch's book there is no description of the following events, although he must have become aware of them at the latest when he began to write and research his book in the early 1950s. He does not even go into Vincenz Müller.
  14. The presentation is based on the version given by Peter Joachim Lapp in Vincenz Müller's biography. After the portrayal of Karl-Heinz Frieser in The German Empire and the Second World War. Volume 8, p. 554, footnote 100, which is based on the content of the reports of retaliated soldiers from the 4th Army, Müller separated on July 5, 1944 “with his staff from the army with the intention of getting by on his own. He is thereby laying down the command of the corps. ”Another version of the story is given by Glantz, Orenstein in Belorussia 1944. p. 145. According to these authors, Müller and a group of 3,000 soldiers tried to advance south-west of Jershinsk to the west. After a brief battle, he was captured by soldiers of the Soviet 121st Rifle Corps.
  15. ^ The Baltic states of Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania had been independent until the summer of 1940. In the course of the secret agreements between the German Reich and the Soviet Union, the Baltic States were added to the Soviet sphere of influence and the Baltic states were annexed by the Soviet Union. According to the Soviet understanding, the Baltic States were part of the Soviet Union in 1944.
  16. Other sources such as the English Wikipedia article on Operation Ostra Brama from May 24, 2008 name 30,000 German soldiers.
  17. It was about the Fallschirmjäger Regiment 16 under Gerhart Schirmer and the Parachute Pioneer Regiment 21.
  18. The SS Paratrooper Battalion 500 , which had already been greatly decimated after the Rösselsprung operation , was also integrated into the combat group .
  19. Field Marshal Günther von Kluge did not hinder these efforts. He just simply stopped participating.
  20. The term squadron refers to a unit in company strength. So units of the approximate size of a battalion with a strength of 1200 men were taken from the front.
  21. Based on the report reproduced in Achmann by the then Rittmeister and later Major General Alexander Frevert-Niedermein , which was recorded during a conversation between H. Bühl and Frevert-Niedermein in June 1989 in Buschhoven.
  22. It is the revised version of the exhibition after the elimination of the historical errors described in the article Wehrmacht exhibition .
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on October 20, 2010 in this version .