Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan known as Hovhannes Khachaturi Baghramyan, was a Soviet military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union of Armenian origin. During World War II, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front, he was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high-ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war. Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany, he was given his first command of a unit in 1942, in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commander of the 1st Baltic Front. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics, he did not join the Communist Party after the consolidation of the October Revolution, becoming a member only in 1941, a move atypical for a Soviet military officer.
After the war, he served as a deputy of the Supreme Soviets of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendee of the Party Congresses. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, continues to hold such esteemed status among Armenians. Ivan Bagramyan was born to Armenian parents in the village of Çardaqlı, near Yelizavetpol a part of the Russian Empire. Çardaqlı was one of the largest Armenian settlements in the South Caucasus populated entirely by migrants from the village of Maghavuz in Nagorno Karabakh who continued keeping a connection with their ancestral land. Hamazasp Babadzhanian, a fellow Armenian, to become the chief marshal of the Soviet Armor corps, was born in the same village. While Bagramyan's father, went to work all day at the railway station in Yelizavetpol, his mother, stayed at home to take care of her seven children.
Because his parents could not afford to send him to the local gymnasium, they decided to enroll him at a opened two-year school in Yelizavetpol. Graduating in 1912, whom everyone affectionately called Vanya, followed his father and his brothers in a path in rail work, attending the three-year railway technical institute located in Tiflis, he graduated with honors and was slated to become a railway engineer within a few years when events in the First World War changed his life. Bagramyan was well aware of the military situation at the Caucasus front during the first months of the world war. In the winter of 1914–15, the Imperial Russian Army was able to withstand and repel the Ottoman Empire's offensive at Sarikamish, to take the fight to its territory. Bagramyan began reading harrowing reports in the Russian press of what was taking place against his fellow kinsmen across the border: the Ottomans had embarked on a campaign to commit genocide upon their Armenian subjects, he attempted to join the military effort but because he was only seventeen and a railway mechanic, he was not liable to be drafted.
This did not dissuade him from trying, as he remarked, "My place was at the front."His opportunity came on 16 September 1915, when he was accepted by the Russian Army as a volunteer. He was sent to Akhaltsikhe for basic training. With his training complete in December, he joined the 2nd Caucasus Frontier Regiment of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, sent to dislodge the Ottoman Turks in Persia. Bagramyan participated in several battles in Asadabad and Kermanshah, the Russian victories here sending Ottoman forces reeling toward Anatolia. Learning about the exploits of the men in the outfit, the chief of staff of the regiment, General Pavel Melik-Shahnazaryan, advised Bagramyan to return to Tiflis to enroll in the Praporshchik Military Academy, but in order to attend the school, Bagramyan needed to satisfy the academy's requirement of having completed school at a gymnasium. This did not deter him and, after preparing for the courses in Armavir, he passed his exams and began attending the academy on February 13, 1917.
He graduated in June 1917 and was assigned to the 3rd Armenian Infantry Regiment, stationed near Lake Urmia. But with the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government in the midst of the October Revolution of 1917, his unit was demobilized. However, with the creation of the newly established First Republic of Armenia in 1918, Bagramyan enlisted in the 3rd Armenian Regiment of that country's armed forces. From 1 April 1918, that is, after the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR, he was in the 1st Armenian Cavalry Regiment, which put a halt to the Ottoman 3rd Army, bent on conquering the remains of the republic, in Karaurgan and Kars, he most notably took part in the May 1918 Battle of Sardarapat, where the Armenian military scored a crucial victory against Turkish forces. He remained in the regiment until May 1920. Three years after the toppling of the Provisional Government by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the Red Army invaded the southern Caucasus republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In May 1920, upset with the country's social and political conditions, participated in a failed rebellion against the Dashnak-led government of Armenia. He was jailed a
Battle of Königsberg
The Battle of Königsberg known as the Königsberg Offensive, was one of the last operations of the East Prussian Offensive during World War II. In four days of violent urban warfare, Soviet forces of the 1st Baltic Front and the 3rd Belorussian Front captured the city of Königsberg – now Kaliningrad, Russia; the siege started in late January 1945 when the Soviets surrounded the city. There was heavy fighting for the overland connection between Königsberg and the port of Pillau, but by March 1945 Königsberg was hundreds of kilometres behind the main front line; the battle finished when the German garrison surrendered to the Soviets on 9 April after a three-day assault made their position untenable. The East Prussian Offensive was planned by the Soviet Stavka to prevent flank attacks on the armies rushing towards Berlin. Indeed, East Prussia held numerous troops. During initial Stavka planning, Joseph Stalin ordered Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky to annihilate the Wehrmacht forces trapped there.
On 13 January 1945 1,500,000 troops supported by several thousand tanks and aircraft of the 3rd Belorussian Front entered East Prussia, transformed into a gigantic web of fortifications, defensive lines and minefields. At first, the offensive was a failure. Red Army troops only advanced 1.5 kilometers the first day, through only three defensive lines. In five days, taking heavy losses, Soviet troops advanced only 20 kilometers and were still unable to break through German lines into the open. After overcoming the initial difficulties, the Soviet advance gathered steam, on 24 January Soviet advance forces reached the shores of the Vistula Lagoon, cutting off the German forces in East Prussia from a direct connection with Germany, forcing the Germans to supply the surrounded forces by sea; this operation was accomplished by the 1st Baltic Front under the command of General Hovhannes Bagramyan known as Ivan Bagramyan. On 25 January 1945, in a tacit acknowledgement that German forces in East Prussia and the Courland Pocket were far behind the new front line, Hitler renamed three army groups.
Army Group North became Army Group Courland. Those forces, now redesignated as Army Group North, were compressed by further Soviet attacks into three pockets: one around Königsberg, one on the adjacent Sambia Peninsula, one on the coast of the Frisches Haff to the south-west. By late January 1945 the 3rd Belorussian Front had surrounded Königsberg on the landward side, severing the road down the Samland peninsula to the port of Pillau, trapping the 3rd Panzer Army and 200,000 civilians in the city; the civilian provisions were so meagre that civilians were faced with three bleak alternatives: Remain in the city and starve – rations were cut during the siege to 180 grams of bread a day Cross the front lines and leave themselves at the mercies of the Soviets Cross the ice of the Frisches Haff to Pillau in hope of finding a place on an evacuation ship Hundreds chose to cross the front line, but about 2,000 women and children a day chose to cross the ice on foot to Pillau. On his return from a visit to Berlin, Erich Koch the Gauleiter of East Prussia chose to stay in the relative safety of Pillau to organise the evacuation rather than return to Königsberg.
The first evacuation steamer from Pillau carrying 1,800 civilians and 1,200 casualties reached safety on the 29 January. Throughout February, there was desperate fighting as the Germans tried to maintain the narrow connection between Königsberg and Samland. For a time, Soviet troops were successful in severing that connection and cutting the city off completely. However, on 19 February the 3rd Panzer Army and the 4th Army attacked from the direction of Pillau, managing to force open a corridor from Königsberg to Pillau. Led by a captured Soviet T-34 tank, this attack was spearheaded by the 1st Infantry Division from Königsberg, intended to link with General Hans Gollnick's XXVIII Corps, which held parts of the Samland peninsula, including the vital port of Pillau. Capturing the town of Metgethen, the unit opened the way for the 5th Panzer Division to join with Gollnick's forces near the town of Gross Heydekrug the next day; this action solidified the German defense of the area until April, re-opening the land route from Königsberg to Pillau, through which supplies could be delivered by ship and the wounded and refugees could be evacuated.
This month-long battle is sometimes called the First Siege of Königsberg. In March the situation had stabilized – by now, the main front line had moved hundreds of kilometers to the west, capturing the city took a much lower priority for the Soviets. So, the garrison was intact and showed no signs of surrender; the Soviet command decided to capture the city by assault rather than a siege. Assaulting Königsberg was not to be an easy task. Garrisoned inside the city were five full-strength divisions, for a total of 130,000 troops, along with impressive defensive positions constructed in 1888 that included fifteen forts interconnected by tunnels with integrated accommodations for the troops, designed to withstand the bombardment of super-guns being designed in that era following the Siege of Paris; the Germans still held a narrow land connection to the adjacent German pocket on the Samland peninsula. The capture of the city required that this defended link be severed; the German troops on the peninsula, the so-called Samland Group, could be expected to stage counter-attacks to prevent this from happ
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military blockade undertaken from the south by the Army Group North of Nazi Germany against the Soviet city of Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until they had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city; the siege started on 8 September 1941. Although the Soviet forces managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, the siege was not lifted until 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began, it was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, the costliest in casualties suffered. Some historians classify it as genocide. Leningrad's capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North; the strategy was motivated by Leningrad's political status as the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.
By 1939, the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output. It has been reported that Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the city's Hotel Astoria. Although various theories have been put forward about Germany's plans for Leningrad, including renaming the city Adolfsburg and making it the capital of the new Ingermanland province of the Reich in Generalplan Ost, it is clear Hitler's intention was to utterly destroy the city and its population. According to a directive sent to Army Group North on 29 September, "After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban centre. Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our existence, we can have no interest in maintaining a part of this large urban population."Hitler's ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns.
Army Group North under Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Von Leeb's plan called for capturing the city on the move, but due to Hitler's recall of 4th Panzer Group, von Leeb had to lay the city under siege indefinitely after reaching the shores of Lake Ladoga, while trying to complete the encirclement and reaching the Finnish Army under Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim waiting at the Svir River, east of Leningrad. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south. Both German and Finnish forces had the goal of encircling Leningrad and maintaining the blockade perimeter, thus cutting off all communication with the city and preventing the defenders from receiving any supplies – although Finnish participation in the blockade consisted of recapture of lands lost in the Winter War. Thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was defensive; the Germans planned on lack of food being their chief weapon against the citizens.
On Friday, 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised "First response groups" of civilians. In the next days, Leningrad's civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the city's perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the fortified line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk and through the Neva River. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Pulkovo and Koltushy. In the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrad's northern suburbs since the 1930s, was now returned to service. A total of 306 km of timber barricades, 635 km of wire entanglements, 700 km of anti-tank ditches, 5,000 earth-and-timber emplacements and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements and 25,000 km of open trenches were constructed or excavated by civilians.
The guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad. The 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August; the Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officer's corpse. After the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army – despite some 350,000 men lagging behind – forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line; this had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, with the eventual aim of isolating Leningrad from all directions. The Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga.
Army Group North 18th Army (v
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove
Moscow Defence Zone
The Moscow Defence Zone was a front of the Red Army during World War II, to defend Moscow from the German advance. It was set up on 2 December 1941 to manage the troops of 24th and 60th Armies and part of the anti-aircraft defences; the Moscow Defence Zone was established on December 2, 1941. It controlled the armies earmarked for the defence of Moscow, the 24th and 60th Armies
Northern Front (Soviet Union)
The Northern Front was a front of the Red Army during the Second World War. The Northern Front was created on June 1941 from the Leningrad Military District, its primary goal was the defense of the Kola Peninsula and the northern shores of the Gulf of Finland. On August 23, 1941, the Front's forces were divided into the Leningrad Front. Lieutenant General Markian M. Popov commanded the Front for the three months of its existence; the Front's major force structure was based on the 7th Army, 14th Army, 23rd Armies and the Leningrad People's Opolcheniye Army. Other forces included four Rifle Corps, two Mechanized Corps, seventeen Rifle Divisions, four Tank Divisions, two Motor Rifle Divisions, eight artillery regiments of the Reserve of Highest Command, eight Aviation Divisions, seven Fortified Regions, one Fortified Position, thirteen machinegun battalions; the formations of the Northern Front included the following subunits: 14th Army with its commander, General Lieutenant Frolov Valerian Alexandrovich, responsible for the Defence Sector No.1 which extended from the coast of the Barents Sea to include the entire Kola Peninsula and in particular the Murmansk to Kandalaksha railway.
14th Rifle Division defending the Petsamo sector 42nd Rifle Corps 104th Rifle Division 122nd Rifle Division 52nd Rifle Division 1st Tank Division 104 Gun Artillery Regiment of the Reserve of Highest Command 23rd Murmansk Fortified Region 35th, 100th, 82nd, 72nd and 101st Border Guard Detachments 1st Mixed Air DivisionNorthern Fleet commanded by Admiral Arseniy Golovko and its coast defence and naval aviation units. Separate 7th Army with its commander Lieutenant General Filip D. Garelenko responsible for the Defence Sector No.2 covering the longest sector of the Front between the Kola Peninsula and Lake Ladoga, in particular having the responsibility at once for the gap between the Ladoga and Onega lakes, the possible land assault to cut off Arkhangelsk. In fact the Stavka had determined the Army had four sectors in its responsibility.54th Rifle Division 71st Rifle Division 168th Rifle Division 237th Rifle Division 541 Howitzer Artillery Regiment of the Reserve of Highest Command 26th Sortavala Fortified Region 1st, 73rd, 80th and 3rd Border Guard Detachments 55th Mixed Air Division 153rd Fighter Aviation Regiment 72nd Bomber Aviation Regiment 23rd Army named for the Kirovsky District 76th Latvian Separate Rifle regiment on the 14 September.
2nd Division of People's Opolcheniye named for the Moskovsky District battalion of the Military-Political Border Guard School named for Voroshilov 519th Corps Artillery Regiment of Reserve of Highest Command Tank battalion of the Armoured Course for Enhancement of Command Staff 3rd Division of People's Opolcheniye named for the Frunzensky District (commander 1st Guards Division of People's Opolcheniye formed in the Kuybishev District 2nd Guards Division of People's Opolcheniye formed in the Sverdlovsk District tank battalion of the Leningrad garrison 4th Light Division of People's Opolcheniye named for the Dzerzhinsky District Separate battalion of Special Purpose 3rd Guards Division of People's Opolcheniye formed in the Petrograd District 4th Guards Division of People's Opolcheniye (Russi
Operation Bagration was the codename for the Soviet 1944 Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation, a military campaign fought between 23 June and 19 August 1944 in Soviet Byelorussia in the Eastern Front of World War II. The Soviet Union inflicted the biggest defeat in German military history by destroying 28 out of 34 divisions of Army Group Centre and shattered the German front line. On 23 June 1944, the Red Army attacked Army Group Centre in Byelorussia, with the objective of encircling and destroying its main component armies. By 28 June, the German Fourth Army had been destroyed, along with most of the Third Panzer and Ninth Armies; the Red Army exploited the collapse of the German front line to encircle German formations in the vicinity of Minsk in the Minsk Offensive and destroy them, with Minsk liberated on 4 July. With the end of effective German resistance in Byelorussia, the Soviet offensive continued further to Lithuania and Romania over the course of July and August; the Red Army used the Soviet deep battle and maskirovka strategies for the first time to a full extent, albeit with continuing heavy losses.
Operation Bagration diverted German mobile reserves to the central sectors, removing them from the Lublin-Brest and Lvov–Sandomierz areas, enabling the Soviets to undertake the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive and Lublin–Brest Offensive. This allowed the Red Army to reach the Vistula river and Warsaw, which in turn put Soviet forces within striking distance of Berlin, conforming to the concept of Soviet deep operations—striking deep into the enemy's strategic depths. Germany's Army Group Centre had proved tough to counter as the Soviet defeat in Operation Mars had shown, but by June 1944, despite shortening its front line, it had been exposed following the defeats of Army Group South in the battles that followed the Battle of Kursk, the Battle of Kiev, the Crimean Offensive in the late summer and winter of 1943–44. In the north, Army Group North was pushed back, leaving Army Group Center's lines protruding towards the east and at risk of losing contact with neighbouring army groups; the German High Command expected the next Soviet offensive to fall against Army Group North Ukraine, while it lacked intelligence capabilities to divine the Soviet intentions.
The Wehrmacht had redeployed one-third of Army Group Centre's artillery, half of its tank destroyers, 88 per cent of tanks to the south. The entire operational reserve on the Eastern front was deployed to Model's sector. Army Group Centre only had a total of 580 tanks, tank destroyers, assault guns, they were opposed by over self-propelled guns. German lines were thinly held. Operation Bagration, in combination with the neighbouring Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive, launched a few weeks in Ukraine, allowed the Soviet Union to recapture Belorussia and Ukraine within its 1941 borders, advance into German East Prussia, but more the Lvov-Sandomierz operation allowed the Red Army to reach the outskirts of Warsaw after gaining control of Poland east of the Vistula river; the campaign enabled the next operation, the Vistula–Oder Offensive, to come within sight of the German capital. The Soviets were surprised at the success of the Belorussian operation which had nearly reached Warsaw; the Soviet advance encouraged the Warsaw uprising against the German occupation forces.
The battle has been described as the triumph of the Soviet theory of the "operational art" because of the complete coordination of all the strategic front movements and signals traffic to fool the enemy about the target of the offensive. The military tactical operations of the Red Army avoided the mobile reserves of the Wehrmacht and continually "wrong-footed" the German forces. Despite the massive forces involved, Soviet front commanders left their adversaries confused about the main axis of attack until it was too late; the Russian word maskirovka is equivalent to the English word camouflage, but it has broader application in military use. During World War II the term was used by Soviet commanders to describe measures to create deception with the goal of inflicting surprise on the Wehrmacht forces; the Oberkommando des Heeres expected the Soviets to launch a major Eastern Front offensive in the summer of 1944. The Stavka considered a number of options; the timetable of operations between June and August had been decided on by 28 April 1944.
The Stavka rejected an offensive in either the L'vov sector or the Yassy-Kishinev sectors owing to the presence of powerful enemy mobile forces equal in strength to the Soviet strategic fronts. Instead they suggested four options: an offensive into Romania and through the Carpathian Mountains, an offensive into the western Ukrainian SSR aimed at the Baltic coast, an attack into the Baltic, an offensive in the Belorussian SSR; the first two options were rejected as being too open to flank attack. The third option was rejected on the grounds; the only safe option was an offensive into Belorussia which would enable subsequent offensives from Ukraine into Poland and Romania. The Soviet and German High Commands recognised western Ukraine as a staging area for an offensive into Poland; the Soviets, aware that the enemy would anticipate this, engaged in a maskirovka campaign to catch the German armoured forces off guard by creating a crisis in Belorussia that would force the