Luga, Leningrad Oblast
Luga is a town and the administrative center of Luzhsky District in Leningrad Oblast, located on the Luga River 140 kilometers south of St. Petersburg. Population: 38,593 , it was founded on the banks of the river of that name by order of the Catherine the Great on August 3, 1777. The town developed in following stages: Initial construction Early growth to population of 3,000 Intense social and urban development Soviet development according to the typical plan for smaller towns Reconstruction of the historical town structure Transition to free market agro-industrial town Luga was founded as a town in Pskov Viceroyalty, but in March 3, 1782 it was transferred to St. Petersburg Governorate and became the seat of Luzhsky Uyezd. In 1918, important events of the Russian Civil War took place in the area, when the White Army unsuccessfully tried to conquer Petrograd. On August 1, 1927, the uyezds were abolished and Luzhsky District, with the administrative center in Luga, was established; the governorates were abolished and the district became a part of Luga Okrug of Leningrad Oblast.
On July 23, 1930, the okrugs were abolished as well and the districts were directly subordinated to the oblast. On September 19, 1939, Luga became a town of oblast significance and was thus no longer a part of the district; the World War II German advance on Leningrad was temporarily halted by seven regular and irregular divisions in the Luga area and this delayed the commencement of the Siege of Leningrad by over a month. In recognition of this feat, the town was awarded the title of "Hero City" and listed as one of the World War II Cities of Military Glory by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. German occupation of Luga lasted from August 24, 1941 to February 12, 1944. In 2010, the administrative structure of Leningrad Oblast was harmonized with its municipal structure and Luga became a town of district significance. Within the framework of administrative divisions, Luga serves as the administrative center of Luzhsky District; as an administrative division, it is, together with four rural localities, incorporated within Luzhsky District as Luzhskoye Settlement Municipal Formation.
As a municipal division, Luzhskoye Settlement Municipal Formation is incorporated within Luzhsky Municipal District as Luzhskoye Urban Settlement. There are enterprises of construction and food industries in Luga. Luga lies on the railway line connecting the Baltiysky railway station of St. Petersburg with Pskov. Another railway line to Batetsky and Veliky Novgorod branches off east. Both have suburban service; the M20 Highway, connecting St. Petersburg with Pskov and with Kiev, passes Luga. In Luga, two more roads branch eastwards: one running to Veliky Novgorod and another one to Lyuban and Mga following the border of Leningrad Oblast; the town has a university, three Institutes of Technical Education, six schools. Luga contains twenty-five objects classified as cultural and historical heritage of local significance; these include the main sights remaining from the 18th and the 19th century such as the St. Catherine Cathedral and the Resurrection Cathedral; the Luzhsky District Museum, the only state museum in the district, is located in Luga.
Luga is twinned with: Mikkeli, Finland Anton Zaltsa - general Walter Polakov - mechanical engineer Gratsian Botev - sprint canoer Nina Urgant - film and stage actress Boris Marshak - archeologist Gennadi Nilov - actor Lyudmila Besrukova - sprint canoer Georgi Zažitski - fencer Vladimir Bystrov - footballer Законодательное собрание Ленинградской области. Областной закон №32-оз от 15 июня 2010 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Ленинградской области и порядке его изменения», в ред. Областного закона №23-оз от 8 мая 2014 г. «Об объединении муниципальных образований "Приморское городское поселение" Выборгского района Ленинградской области и "Глебычевское сельское поселение" Выборгского района Ленинградской области и о внесении изменений в отдельные Областные законы». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Вести", №112, 23 июня 2010 г.. Законодательное собрание Ленинградской области. Областной закон №65-оз от 28 сентября 2004 г. «Об установлении границ и наделении соответствующим статусом муниципального образования Лужский муниципальный район и муниципальных образований в его составе», в ред.
Областного закона №17-оз от 6 мая 2010 г «О внесении изменений в некоторые областные законы в связи с принятием федерального закона "О внесении изменений в отдельные законодательные акты Российской Федерации в связи с совершенствованием организации местного самоуправления"». Вступил в силу через 10 дней со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Вестник Правительства Ленинградской области", №31, 22 октября 2004 г. (Legislative Assembly of Leningrad Oblast. Oblast Law #65-oz of September 28, 2004 On Establishing the Borders of and Granting an Appropriate Status to the
Vitebsk, or Viciebsk, is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Viciebsk Region, it had 342,381 inhabitants in 2004, making it the country's fourth-largest city, it is served by Viciebsk Air Base. Viciebsk developed from a river harbor where the Vićba River flows into the larger Western Dvina, spanned in the city by the Kirov Bridge. Archaeological research indicates. In the 9th century, Slavic settlements of the tribal union of the Krivichs replaced them. According to the Chronicle of Michael Brigandine, Princess Olga of Kiev founded Viciebsk in 974. Other versions give 947 or 914. Academician Boris Rybakov and historian Leonid Alekseyev have come to the conclusion, based on the chronicles, that Princess Olga of Kiev could have established Viciebsk in 947. Leonid Alekseyev suggested that the chroniclers, when transferring the date from the account of the Byzantine era to a new era, obtained the year 947 mistakenly written in copying manuscripts as 974. An important place on trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, Viciebsk became by the end of the 12th century a center of trade and commerce, the center of an independent principality, following Polotsk, at times and Kiev princes.
The official year of the founding of Viciebsk is 974, based on an anachronistic legend of founding by Olga of Kiev, but the first mention in historical records dates from 1021, when Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev gave it to Bryachislav Izyaslavich, Prince of Polotsk. In the 12th and 13th centuries Viciebsk functioned as the capital of the Principality of Viciebsk, an appanage principality which thrived at the crossroads of the river routes between the Baltic and Black seas. In 1320 the city was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as dowry of the Princess Maria, the first wife of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas. By 1351 the city had erected a stone Upper and Lower Castle, the prince's palace. In 1410 Viciebsk participated in the Battle of Grunwald. In 1597 the townsfolk of Viciebsk were privileged with Magdeburg rights. However, the rights were taken away in 1623 after the citizens revolted against the imposed Union of Brest and killed Archbishop Josaphat Kuntsevych of Polotsk; the city was completely destroyed in 1708, during the Great Northern War.
In the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the Russian Empire annexed Viciebsk. Under the Russian Empire the historic centre of Viciebsk was rebuilt in the Neoclassical style. Before World War II Viciebsk had a significant Jewish population: according to Russian census of 1897, out of the total population of 65,900, Jews constituted 34,400; the most famous of its Jewish natives was the painter Marc Chagall. In 1919 Viciebsk was proclaimed to be part of the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, but was soon transferred to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and to the short-lived Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1924 it was returned to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During World War II the city came under Nazi German occupation. Much of the old city was destroyed in the ensuing battles between the Germans and Red Army soldiers. Most of the local Jews perished in the Viciebsk Ghetto massacre of October 1941. In the first postwar five-year period the city was rebuilt.
Its industrial complex covered machinery, light industry, machine tools. In 1959 a TV tower was started broadcasting the 1st Central Television program. In the same year, during excavations on Liberation Square, a birch-bark scroll was found dating from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, it read: From Stpana to Nezhilovi. If hast sold trousers, buy me rye for 6 hryvnia, and if some didst not sold, send to my person. And if thou hast sold, do good to buy rye for me In January 1991 Viciebsk celebrated the first Marc Chagall Festival. In June 1992, a monument to Chagall was erected on his native Pokrovskaja Street and a memorial inscription was placed on the wall of his house. Since 1992 Viciebsk has been hosting the annual Slavianski Bazaar in Viciebsk, an international art festival; the main participants are artists from Russia and Ukraine, with guests from many other countries, both Slavic and non-Slavic. In 1999 a free economic zone "Viciebsk" was established; the city built the Ice Sports Palace, there was a remarkable improvement and expansion in the city.
The central stadium was reconstructed and the Summer Amphitheatre for the international art festival, the Slavic Bazaar, the railway station and other historical sites and facilities were restored, a number of new churches and other public facilities were built, together with the construction of new residential areas. The city has one of the oldest buildings in the country: the Annunciation Church; this magnificent six-pillared building dates back to the period of Kievan Rus since the city at the time was pagan and didn't belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Russian Orthodox Church or the Kievan Rus state. It was constructed in the 1140s as a pagan church, rebuilt in the 14th and 17th centuries as Roman Catholic Church, repaired in 1883 and destroyed by the Communist administration in 1961; the church was in ruins until 1992. Churches from the Polish-Lithuanian period were destroyed, although the Resurrection Church has been rebuilt; the Orthodox cathedral
Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation
The Belgorod-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation, or Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation, was a Soviet strategic summer offensive that aimed to recapture Belgorod and Kharkov a, destroy the German forces of the 4th Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf. The operation was codenamed Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev, after the 18th-century Field Marshal Peter Rumyantsev and was conducted by the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts in the southern sector of the Kursk Bulge; the battle was referred to as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov by the Germans. The operation began in the early hours of 3 August 1943, with the objective of following up the successful Soviet defensive effort against the German Operation Citadel; the offensive was directed against the German Army Group South's northern flank. By 23 August, the troops of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts had seized Kharkov from German forces, it was the last time. The operation led to the retreat of the German forces in Ukraine behind the Dnieper River and set the stage for the Battle of Kiev in autumn 1943.
Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev had been planned by Stavka to be the major Soviet summer offensive in 1943. However, due to heavy losses sustained during the Battle of Kursk in July, time was needed for the Soviet formations to recover and regroup. Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev commenced on 3 August, with the aim of the defeating the 4th Panzer Army, Army Group Kempf, the southern wing of Army Group South, it was hoped that the German 1st Panzer Army and the newly reformed 6th Army would be trapped by an advance of the Red Army forces to the Azov Sea. The Soviet forces included the Voronezh Front and the Steppe Front, which deployed about 1,144,000 men with 2,418 tanks and 13,633 guns and rocket launchers for the attack. Against this the German army could field 237 tanks and assault guns. German Army Group South commander General Erich von Manstein had anticipated that the Soviets would launch an attack across the Dnieper and Mius Rivers in an attempt to reach the Black Sea, cutting off the German forces extended in the southern portion of Army Group South in a repeat of the Stalingrad disaster.
When the Soviet Southern Front and the Southwestern Front launched just such an attack on 17 July the Germans responded by moving the II SS Panzer Corps, XXIV Corps and XLVIII Panzer Corps southward to blunt the Soviet offensive. In fact these Soviet operations were intended to draw off German forces from the main thrust of the Soviet offensive, to dissipate the German reserve in anticipation for their main drive; the Soviet plan called for the 5th and 6th Guards Armies, the 53rd Army, to attack on a 30-kilometer wide sector, supported by a heavy artillery concentration, break through the five successive German defensive lines between Kursk and Kharkov. The former two armies had borne the brunt of the German attack in Operation Citadel. Supported by two additional mobile corps, the 1st Tank Army and the 5th Guards Tank Army, both reequipped after the end of Operation Citadel, would act as the front's mobile groups and develop the breakthrough by encircling Kharkov from the north and west. Mikhail Katukov's 1st Tank Army was to form the westward-facing outer encirclement line, while Pavel Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army would form the inner line, facing the city.
A secondary attack to the west of the main breakthrough was to be conducted by the 27th and 40th Armies with the support of four separate tank corps. Meanwhile, to the east and southeast, the 69th and 7th Guards Armies, followed by the Southwestern Front's 57th Army, were to join the attack. On 3 August the offensive was begun with a heavy artillery barrage directed against the German defensive positions. Though the German defenders fought tenaciously, the two tank armies committed to the battle could not be held back. By 5 August the Soviets had broken through the German defensive lines, moving into the rear areas and capturing Belgorod while advancing some 60 km. Delivering powerful sledgehammer blows from the north and east, the attackers overwhelmed the German defenders. German reserves were shifted from the Orel sector and north from the Donbas regions in an attempt to stem the tide and slow down the Soviet attacks. Success was limited to the "Grossdeutschland" division delaying the 40th Army by a day.
Seven panzer and motorized divisions making up the III Panzer Corps, along with four infantry divisions were assembled to counterattack into the flank of the advancing Soviet forces but were checked. After nine days the 2nd SS "Das Reich" and 3rd SS "Totenkopf" divisions arrived and initiated a counterattack against the two Soviet Armies near Bogodukhov, 30 km northwest of Kharkov. In the following armoured battles of firepower and maneuver the SS divisions destroyed a great many Soviet tanks. To assist the 6th Guards Army and the 1st Tank Army, the 5th Guards Tank Army joined the battles. All three Soviet armies suffered and the tank armies lost more than 800 of their initial 1,112 tanks; these Soviet reinforcements stopped the German counterattack, but their further offensive plans were blunted. With the Soviet advance around Bogodukhov stopped, the Germans now began to attempt to close the gap between Akhtyrka and Krasnokutsk; the counterattack started on 18 August, on 20 August "Totenkopf" and "Großdeutschland" met behind the Soviet units.
Parts of two Soviet armies and two tank corps were trapped, but the trapped units outnumbered the German units. Many Soviet units were able to break out. After this setback the Soviet troops focused on Kharkov and captured it after heavy fighting on 23 August; the battle is referred to as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov b
Russian Ground Forces
The Ground Forces of the Russian Federation are the land forces of the Russian Armed Forces, formed from parts of the collapsing Soviet Army in 1992. The formation of these forces posed economic challenges after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, required reforms to professionalize the Ground Forces during the transition. Since 1992, the Ground Forces have withdrawn thousands of troops from former Soviet garrisons abroad, while remaining extensively committed to the Chechen Wars and other operations in the Soviet successor states; the primary responsibilities of the Ground Forces are the protection of the state borders, combat on land, the security of occupied territories, the defeat of enemy troops. The Ground Forces must be able to achieve these goals both in nuclear war and non-nuclear war without the use of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, they must be capable of protecting the national interests of Russia within the framework of its international obligations; the Main Command of the Ground Forces is tasked with the following objectives: The training of troops for combat, on the basis of tasks determined by the Armed Forces' General Staff.
The improvement of troops' structure and composition, the optimization of their numbers, including for special troops. The development of military theory and practice; the development and introduction of training field manuals and methodology. The improvement of operational and combat training of the Ground Forces; as the Soviet Union dissolved, efforts were made to keep the Soviet Armed Forces as a single military structure for the new Commonwealth of Independent States. The last Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union, Marshal Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, was appointed supreme commander of the CIS Armed Forces in December 1991. Among the numerous treaties signed by the former republics, in order to direct the transition period, was a temporary agreement on general purpose forces, signed in Minsk on 14 February 1992. However, once it became clear that Ukraine was determined to undermine the concept of joint general purpose forces and form their own armed forces, the new Russian government moved to form its own armed forces.
Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a decree forming the Russian Ministry of Defence on 7 May 1992, establishing the Russian Ground Forces along with the other branches of the military. At the same time, the General Staff was in the process of withdrawing tens of thousands of personnel from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, the Northern Group of Forces in Poland, the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia, the Southern Group of Forces in Hungary, from Mongolia. Thirty-seven divisions had to be withdrawn from the four groups of forces and the Baltic States, four military districts—totalling 57 divisions—were handed over to Belarus and Ukraine; some idea of the scale of the withdrawal can be gained from the division list. For the dissolving Soviet Ground Forces, the withdrawal from the former Warsaw Pact states and the Baltic states was an demanding and debilitating process; as the military districts that remained in Russia after the collapse of the Union consisted of the mobile cadre formations, the Ground Forces were, to a large extent, created by relocating the full-strength formations from Eastern Europe to under-resourced districts.
However, the facilities in those districts were inadequate to house the flood of personnel and equipment returning from abroad, many units "were unloaded from the rail wagons into empty fields." The need for destruction and transfer of large amounts of weaponry under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe necessitated great adjustments. The Ministry of Defence newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda published a reform plan on 21 July 1992. One commentator said it was "hastily" put together by the General Staff "to satisfy the public demand for radical changes." The General Staff, from that point, became a bastion of conservatism, causing a build-up of troubles that became critical. The reform plan advocated a change from an Army-Division-Regiment structure to a Corps-Brigade arrangement; the new structures were to be more capable in a situation with no front line, more capable of independent action at all levels. Cutting out a level of command, omitting two out of three higher echelons between the theatre headquarters and the fighting battalions, would produce economies, increase flexibility, simplify command-and-control arrangements.
The expected changeover to the new structure proved to be rare and sometimes reversed. The new brigades that appeared were divisions that had broken down until they happened to be at the proposed brigade strengths. New divisions—such as the new 3rd Motor Rifle Division in the Moscow Military District, formed on the basis of disbanding tank formations—were formed, rather than new brigades. Few of the reforms planned in the early 1990s eventuated, for three reasons: Firstly, there was an absence of firm civilian political guidance, with President Yeltsin interested in ensuring that the Armed Forces were controllable and loyal, rather than reformed. Secondly, declining funding worsened the progress. There was no firm consensus within the military about what reforms should be implemented. General Pavel Grachev, the first Russian Minister of Defence, broadly advertised reforms, yet wished to preserve the old Soviet-style Army, with large numbers of low-strength formations and continued mass conscription.
The General Staff and the armed services tried to preserve Soviet era doctrines, weapon
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
Army Group A
Army Group A was the name of several German Army Groups during World War II. During the Battle of France, the army group named Army Group A was composed of 45½ divisions, including 7 armored panzer divisions, it was responsible for breaking through the heavily-forested Ardennes region. The operation, part of Fall Gelb, was resoundingly successful for the Germans, as the army group outflanked the best troops of France and its allies leading to France's surrender. In 1942, Army Group South on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union was split into Army Group A and Army Group B, Army Group A was responsible for the invasion into the Caucasus. In 1945, months before the fall of Nazi Germany, Army Group A was renamed Army Group Centre. During the German invasion of the Low Countries and France Army Group A was under the command of Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt and was responsible for the break-out through the Ardennes, it was composed of 45½ divisions, including the 7 panzer divisions of Panzer Group Kleist.
Order of Battle 4th Army Generaloberst Günther von Kluge Panzer Group Kleist V Army Corps General Infantry Richard Ruoff 251st Infantry Division GenLt Hans Kratzert VIII Army Corps General Infantry Ernst Busch 8th Infantry Division GenLt Rudolf Koch-Erpach 28th Infantry Division GenMaj Johann Sinnhuber II Army Corps General Infantry Adolf Strauss 12th Infantry Division GenLt Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach 32nd Infantry Division GenLt Franz Böhme XV Army Corps General Infantry Hermann Hoth 5th Panzer Division GenLt Joachim Lemelsen 7th Panzer Division GenMaj Erwin Rommel 62nd Infantry Division GenMaj Walter Keiner Reserve 4th Infantry Division GenLt Erick-Oskar Hansen 87th Infantry Division GenLt Bogislav von Studnitz 211th Infantry Division GenLt Kurt Renner 263rd Infantry Division GenLt Franz Karl 267th Infantry Division GenLt Ernst Fessmann 16th Army General Infantry Ernst Busch XXIII Army Corps GenLt Albrecht Schubert 12th Army Generaloberst Wilhelm List In 1942, Army Group South was in southern Russia on the Eastern Front.
For Case Blue, the summer offensive of the German Armed Forces, Army Group South was split into Army Group A and Army Group B. Army Group A was ordered south to capture the oil fields in the Caucasus. Army Group A included the following armies: German 1st Panzer Army German 11th Army German 17th Army Romanian 3rd Army On January 16, 1945 Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin, the Chief of the Operational Branch of the Army General Staff gave Heeresgruppe A permission to retreat during the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive, rejecting a direct order from Adolf Hitler for them to hold fast. Although Heeresgruppe A escaped encirclement and regrouped, von Bonin was arrested by the Gestapo on January 19, 1945, imprisoned first at Flossenbürg concentration camp and Dachau concentration camp, he was liberated along with other prisoners in South Tyrol by the US Army in May 1945. On 25 January 1945 Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group North became Army Group Courland.
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; the designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the used term Reichswehr, was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors; this required the reinstatement of conscription, massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry. The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg, its campaigns in France, the Soviet Union, North Africa are regarded as acts of boldness.
At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy and logistics apparent. Cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht; the majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare. During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces had lost 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes. The German term "Wehrmacht" stems from the compound word of German: wehren, "to defend" and Macht, "power, force", it has been used to describes any nation's armed forces. The Frankfurt Constitution of 1849 designated all German military forces as the "German Wehrmacht", consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that: "The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the Reich". From 1919, Germany's national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name, dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the armed forces were dubbed Friedensheer. In March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420,000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, in June, Germany signed the treaty that, among other terms, imposed severe constraints on the size of Germany's armed forces.
The army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers. Submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921. General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty; the Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, retained only the most capable officers. The American historians Alan Millet and Williamson Murray wrote "In reducing the officers corps, Seeckt chose the new leadership from the best men of the general staff with ruthless disregard for other constituencies, such as war heroes and the nobility". Seeckt's determination that the Reichswehr be an elite cadre force that would serve as the nucleus of an expanded military when the chance for restoring conscription came led to the creation of a new army, based upon, but different from, the army that existed in World War I.
In the 1920s, Seeckt and his officers developed new doctrines that emphasized speed, combined arms and initiative on the part of lower officers to take advantage of momentary opportunities. Though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air force by the Versailles treaty; these officers saw the role of an air force as winning air superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations; the leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, a close protégé of Alfred von Tirpitz, was dedicated to the idea of reviving Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet. Officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922