4th Ukrainian Front
The 4th Ukrainian Front was the name of two distinct Red Army strategic army groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The front was first formed on 20 October 1943, by renaming the Southern Front and was involved in the Lower Dnieper Strategic Offensive Operation, two battles of Kiev and the Crimean Strategic Offensive Operation. After the liberation of Crimea, the front was disbanded in May 1944. For the second time the 4th Ukrainian Front was created on 4. August 1944, by separating the left wing of the 1st Ukrainian Front; the front took part in the Carpathian Offensive with the Battle of the Dukla Pass and after that the front was involved in the battles in East-, North- and Central Slovakia, as well as in the Moravian-Ostrava Offensive Operation on the Polish-Moravian borders and in the Prague Offensive, the final battle of World War II in Europe. The 4th Ukrainian Front actions were important for the liberation of the Czechoslovakia; the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps served within the front since November 1944 until May 1945.
On 25 August 1945, the front was disbanded and its elements incorporated into the Carpathian Military District. Units subordinated to the Front:35th Tank-destroyer Artillery Brigade, 530th Tank-Destroyer Artillery Regiment, 4th Guards Mortar Brigade, 2nd, 4th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 67th Guards Mortar Regiments, 270th Guards AA Artillery Regiment, 1069th AA Artillery Regiment, 1485th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment 19th Tank Corps 6th Guards Tank Brigade, 52nd Motorcycle Regiment, 5th Separate Armored Car Battalion, 46th and 54th Separate Armored Train Battalions 7th Engineer-Sapper Brigade, 2nd Pontoon-Bridge Brigade, 3rd Guards, 65th, 240th Separate Engineer Battalions, 17th Guards Mine Battalion, 102nd Pontoon-Bridge Battalion 2nd Guards Army 13th Guards Rifle Corps 3rd Guards Rifle Division 24th Guards Rifle Division 87th Guards Rifle Division 54th Rifle Corps 126th Rifle Division 315th Rifle Division 387th Rifle Division 55th Rifle Corps 87th Rifle Division 347th Rifle Division 116th Fortified Region 2nd Guards Breakthrough Artillery Division Independent units: 1095th, 1101st Gun Artillery Regiments, 331st Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 315th and 317th Artillery Battalions of High Impact, 113th Guards, 14th 1250th Tank-Destroyer Artillery Regiments, 133rd Guards, 483rd Mortar Regiments, 76th AA Artillery Division, 591st, 1530th AA Artillery Regiments 1452nd SP Artillery Regiment, 512 Independent Tank Battalion 43rd Special Purpose Engineer Brigade, Independent 258th and 255th Engineer Battalions 51st Army: 1st Guards Rifle Corps, 10th Rifle Corps, 63rd Rifle Corps 77th Rifle Division 78th Fortified Region 26th Artillery Division Independent units: 6th Guards Gun Artillery Brigade, 105th High Impact Howitzer Artillery Brigade, 647th, 1105th Gun Artillery Regiments, 85th Guards, 1231st Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 207th Guards Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 5th Guards, 15th, 21st Tank-destroyer Artillery Brigades, 764th 1246th Tank-destroyer Artillery Regiment, 19th Mortar Brigade, 125th Mortar Regiment.
Anti-Aircraft Artillery forces 2nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division 15th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division 18th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division 77th Guards Artillery Regiment 32nd Guards Tank Brigade, 22nd Guards Separate Tank Regiment, 30th and 33rd Separate Armored Train Battalions 12th Assault Engineer Brigade, 63rd Engineer-Sapper Brigade, 5th Guards, 1504 Separate Engineer Battalions, 275th Separate Sapper Battalion The front's first operations were the Lower Dnieper Strategic Offensive Operation and the Kiev Strategic Offensive and Kiev Strategic Defensive operations. In early 1944, after an amphibious landing against the German-held Crimea, begun the Crimean Strategic Offensive Operation in which 4UF, including 2nd Guards Army, 51st Army and the Separate Coastal Army destroyed the 17th Army, holding out there. 5th Shock Army and 28th Army were part of the Front at the time, but do not appear from U. S. military maps to have taken part in the battle. 1st Guards Army 18th Army 8th Air Army 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps, since November 1944 38th Army, since November 1944 60th Army, since March 1945 general Ivan Yefimovich Petrov general Andrey Ivanovich Yeryomenko
The Crimean Offensive, known in German sources as the Battle of the Crimea, was a series of offensives by the Red Army directed at the German-held Crimea. The Red Army's 4th Ukrainian Front engaged the German 17th Army of Army Group A, which consisted of Wehrmacht and Romanian formations; the battles ended with the evacuation of the Crimea by the Germans. German and Romanian forces suffered considerable losses during the evacuation. During late 1943 and early 1944, the Wehrmacht was pressed back along its entire front line in the east. In October 1943, the 17th Army withdrew from the Kuban bridgehead across the Kerch Strait into the Crimea. During the following months, the Red Army pushed back the Wehrmacht in southern Ukraine cutting off the land-based connection of 17th Army through the Perekop Isthmus in November 1943; the Wehrmacht was able to hold on to the Crimea after it had been cut off by land due to their ability to supply it via the Black Sea. Holding the Crimea was considered important as its loss would negatively affect the attitude of Turkey and put Romanian oilfields under risk of Soviet air attacks.
Aside from Soviet landings across the Kerch Strait and in the north-eastern sector near Sivash at the end of 1943, the Soviet Army ignored the Crimea for the next five months. Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist was removed from the command of Army Group A on March 30, 1944, he was succeeded by Ferdinand Schörner. An assault across the Perekop Isthmus was launched on 8 April by elements of the 4th Ukrainian Front's 2nd Guards and 51st Armies; the 17th Army was unable to stop the advance. Kerch was reached by the Separate Coastal Army on 11 April; the 17th Army was retreating toward Sevastopol by 16 April, with remaining Axis forces in the Crimea concentrating around the city by the end of the third week of April. The OKH intended to hold Sevastopol as a fortress, as the Red Army had done during the first Crimean campaign in 1941–42. However, the fortifications of the city had never been restored and Sevastopol was not the strong defensive position that it had been in 1941. Fighting broke out in the city outskirts towards the end of April and the city fell on 9 May, less than a month after the start of the offensive.
The Axis sea evacuation to Constanța was attacked by Soviet land-based bombers. The evacuation of the Crimea in April–May 1944 was the most complex and extensive operation of the Romanian Navy during the Second World War. From 15 April to 14 May, numerous German and Romanian warships escorted many convoys between Constanța and Sevastopol; the scale and importance of the operation can be attested by the usage in combat of all four Romanian destroyers, the largest Axis warships in the Black Sea. The last phase of the evacuation saw the fiercest combat, as Axis ships transported, under constant attacks from Soviet aircraft and shore artillery, over 30,000 troops. Of these, 18,000 were transported by Romanian ships. On 11 May, the German tanker Friederike was torpedoed and damaged by Soviet submarine L-4, preventing her participation. In total and German convoys evacuated over 113,000 Axis troops from the Crimea, most of them during the first phase of the evacuation. No Romanian Navy warships were lost during the evacuation, however the destroyer Regele Ferdinand came close to being sunk.
She was struck by a large aerial bomb, which failed to detonate. The bomb was extracted several days after the end of the operation. Two naval actions involving the Romanian Navy took place during the second phase of the evacuation, near Sevastopol. On 18 April, the Soviet Leninets-class submarine L-6 was twice attacked with depth charges and damaged by the Romanian gunboat Ghiculescu, numerous bubbles emerged from the depths after each attack, before being finished off by the German submarine hunter UJ-104. During the night of 27 April, a convoy escorted by the Romanian gunboat Ghiculescu, the German submarine hunter UJ-115, one R-boat, two KFK naval trawlers and 19 MFPs engaged the Soviet G-5-class motor torpedo boats TKA-332, TKA-343 and TKA-344, after the three attacked and damaged the German submarine hunter UJ-104. Ghiculescu opened fire with tracer rounds, enabling the entire escort group to locate the two Soviet MTBs and open fire. TKA-332 was sunk. Over 12 Soviet aircraft were shot down during the evacuation, including two by the minelaying destroyer escort Amiral Murgescu.
The last Axis pockets in the Crimea were destroyed on 12 May. The last Axis warship to leave the peninsula was Amiral Murgescu, carrying on board 1,000 Axis troops, including the German General Walter Hartmann. In a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden, Jaenecke had insisted that Sevastopol should be evacuated and his cut off Army of 235,000 men withdrawn. After the loss of the Crimea, he was arrested in Romania and court-martialed. Only the intervention of Heinz Guderian saved his life, he was dismissed from the army on 31 January 1945. The German and Romanian formations suffered the loss of 57,000 men, many of whom drowned during the evacuation; the sinking of the Totila and Teja on 10 May alone caused up to 10,000 deaths. In total, the German losses at sea amounted to five cargo ships, one tanker, three tugs, three lighters, three motorboats and four submarine hunters, while the Romanians lost three cargo ships; the successful evacuation of Axis troops from the Crimea earned the commander of the Romanian Navy, Rear Admiral Horia Macellariu, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
The table below is based on information from Glantz/House When Titans Clashed.: 4th Uk
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society. The award was established on April 1934, by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union; the first recipients of the title received only the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award, along with a certificate describing the heroic deed from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Because the Order of Lenin could be awarded for deeds not qualifying for the title of hero, to distinguish heroes from other Order of Lenin holders, the Gold Star medal was introduced on August 1, 1939. Earlier heroes were retroactively eligible for these items. A hero could be awarded the title again for a subsequent heroic feat with an additional Gold Star medal and certificate. An additional Order of Lenin was not given until 1973; the practice of awarding the title multiple times was abolished by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1988 during perestroika.
Forty-four foreign citizens were awarded the title. The title was given posthumously, though without the actual Gold Star medal given; the title could be revoked only by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. As the Highest Honor of the Soviet Union. Individuals who received the award were entitled to special privileges; these include: A pension with survivor benefits in the event of the death of the title holder. First priority on the housing list with 50% rent reduction, tax exempt and an additional 45 square metres in living space. Annual round-trip first class airline ticket Free bus transportation Free annual visit to sanitarium or rest home Medical benefits Entertainment benefits In total, during the existence of the USSR, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 12,777 people, including twice – 154, three times – 3 and four – 2. Ninety-five women were awarded the title. Among the Heroes of the Soviet Union, 44 people are citizens of foreign states; the great majority of them received it during World War II.
Eighty-five people were awarded the title for actions related to the Soviet-Afghan War, which lasted from 1979 until 1989. The first recipients of the award were the pilots Anatoly Liapidevsky, Sigizmund Levanevsky, Vasily Molokov, Mavriky Slepnyov, Nikolai Kamanin, Ivan Doronin, Mikhail Vodopianov, who participated in the successful aerial search and rescue of the crew of the steamship Cheliuskin, which sank in Arctic waters, crushed by ice fields, on February 13, 1934. Valentina Grizodubova, a female pilot, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union for her international women's record for a straight-line distance flight. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Soviet partisan, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II, posthumously. In addition, 101 people received the award twice. A second Hero title, either Hero of the Soviet Union or Hero of Socialist Labour entitled the recipient to have a bronze bust of his or her likeness with a commemorative inscription erected in his or her hometown.
Two famous Soviet fighter pilots, Aleksandr Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub were three times Heroes of the Soviet Union. A third award entitled the recipient to have his/her bronze bust erected on a columnar pedestal in Moscow, near the Palace of the Soviets, but the Palace was never built. After his release from serving a 20-year sentence in a Mexican prison for the assassination of Leon Trotsky, Ramon Mercader moved to the Soviet Union in 1961 and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal from KGB head Alexander Shelepin; the only individuals to receive the title four times were Leonid Brezhnev. The original statute of the Hero of the Soviet Union, did not provide for a fourth title. Both Zhukov and Brezhnev received their fourth titles under controversial circumstances contrary to the statute, which remained unchanged until the award was abolished in 1991. Zhukov was awarded a fourth time "for his large accomplishments" on the occasion of his 60th birthday on December 1, 1956. There is some speculation that Zhukov's fourth Hero medal was for his participation in the arrest of Beria in 1953, but this was not entered in the records.
Brezhnev's four awards further eroded the prestige of the award because they were all birthday gifts, on the occasions of his 60th, 70th, 72nd and 75th birthdays. Such practices halted in 1988 due to a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which formally ended it. By the 1970s, the award had been somewhat devalued. Important political and military persons had been awarded it on the occasions of their anniversaries rather than for any immediate heroic activity. All Soviet cosmonauts, starting from Yuri Gagarin, as well as foreign citizens who participated in the Soviet space program as cosmonauts, received Hero award for each flight. Apart from individuals, the title was awarded to twelve cities as well as the fortress of Brest for collective heroism during the War; the last recipient of the title "Hero of the Soviet Union" was a Soviet diver, Captain of the 3rd rank Leonid Mikhailovich Solodkov on December 24, 1991 for his leadership and participation in a series of unprecedented extreme depth diving experiments.
Following the collapse of the
The Dnieper is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills near Smolensk and flowing through Russia and Ukraine to the Black Sea. It is the fourth-longest river in Europe; the total length is 2,200 km with a drainage basin of 504,000 square kilometres. The river is noted for hydroelectric stations; the Dnieper is an important navigable waterway for the economy of Ukraine and is connected via the Dnieper–Bug Canal to other waterways in Europe. In antiquity, the river was part of the Amber Road; the name Dnieper may be derived either from Sarmatian Dānu apara "the river on the far side" or from Scythian Dānu apr "deep river." By way of contrast, the name Dniester either derives from "the close river" or from a combination of Scythian Dānu and Ister, the Thracian name for the Dniester. In the three countries through which it flows it has the same name, albeit pronounced differently: Russian: Днепр older Russian: Днѣпръ; the late Greek and Roman authors called it Δάναπρις - Danapris and Danaper Old East Slavic name used at the time of Kievan Rus' was Slavuta or Slavutych The Huns called it Var, Bulgars - Buri-Chai.
The name in Crimean Tatar: Özü, hence Ochakiv The river is mentioned both by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC as Borysthenes. The total length of the river is variously given as 2,145 kilometres or 2,201 km, of which 485 km are within Russia, 700 km are within Belarus, 1,095 km are within Ukraine, its basin covers 504,000 square kilometres, of which 289,000 km2 are within Ukraine, 118,360 km2 are within Belarus. The source of the Dnieper is the sedge bogs of the Valdai Hills in central Russia, at an elevation of 220 m. For 115 km of its length, it serves as the border between Ukraine, its estuary, or liman, used to be defended by the strong fortress of Ochakiv. On the Dnieper to the south of Komarin urban-type settlement, Braghin District, Gomel Region the southern extreme point of Belarus is situated; the Dnieper has many tributaries with 89 being rivers of 100+ km. The main ones are, from its source to its mouth: Many small direct tributaries exist, such as, in the Kiev area, the Syrets in the north of the city, the significant Lybid passing west of the centre, the Borshahivka to the south.
The water resources of the Dnieper basin compose around 80% out of all Ukraine. Dnieper Rapids were part of trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, first mentioned in the Kiev Chronicle; the route was established in the late eighth and early ninth centuries and gained significant importance from the tenth until the first third of the eleventh century. On the Dnieper the Varangians had to portage their ships round seven rapids, where they had to be on guard for Pecheneg nomads. Along this middle flow of the Dnieper, there were nine major rapids, obstructing the whole width of the river, about 30–40 smaller rapids, obstructing only part of the river, about 60 islands and islets. After Dnieper Hydroelectric Station was built in 1932, they were inundated by Dnieper Reservoir. There are a number of canals connected to the Dnieper: The Dnieper–Donbas Canal; the river is part of the Quagga mussel's native range. The mussel has been accidentally introduced around the world where it has become an invasive species.
From the mouth of the Prypiat River to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, there are six sets of dams and hydroelectric stations, which produce 10% of Ukraine's electricity. The first constructed was the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station near Zaporizhia, built in 1927–1932 with an output of 558 MW, it was destroyed during World War II, but was rebuilt in 1948 with an output of 750 MW. The Dnieper River in different regions Major cities, over 100,000 in population, are in bold script. Cities and towns located on the Dnieper are listed in order from the river's source to its mouth: Arheimar, a capital of the Goths, was located on the Dnieper, according to the Hervarar saga. 2,000 km of the river is navigational. The Dnieper is important for the transport and economy of Ukraine: its reservoirs have large ship locks, allowing vessels of up to 270 by 18 metres to access as far as the port of Kiev and thus create an important transport corridor; the river is used by passenger vessels as well. Inland cruises on the rivers Danube and Dnieper have been a growing market in recent decades.
Upstream from Kiev, the Dnieper receives the water of the Pripyat River. This navigable river connects to the link with the Bug River. A connection with the Western European waterways was possible, but a weir without a
1st Baltic Front
The First Baltic Front was a major formation of the Red Army during the Second World War. It was commanded by Army General Andrey Yeryomenko, succeeded by Army General Bagramyan, it was formed by renaming the Kalinin Front in October 12, 1943, took part in several important military operations, most notably Bagration in the summer of 1944. The 1st Baltic Front assisted in lifting the Siege of Leningrad on January 27, 1944, as well as in Operation Samland, at that time known as the Samland Group, captured Königsberg in April 1945; as of June 23, 1944, the First Baltic Front consisted of the following units and their commanders: Baltic Front, led by front commander Army General Hovhannes Bagramyan 4th Shock Army, led by General-Lieutenant P. F. Malyshev 83rd Rifle Corps6th Guards Army, led by General Lieutenant I. M. Chistyakov 2nd Guards Rifle Corps 22nd Guards Rifle Corps 23rd Guards Rifle Corps 103rd Guards Rifle Corps Army artillery43rd Army, led by General Lieutenant A. P. Belaborodov 1st Rifle Corps 60th Rifle Corps 92nd Rifle Corps 1st Tank Corps3rd Air Army, led by General Lieutenant N. F. Papivin 11th Fighter Aviation Corps Army General Andrey Yeremenko Army General Ivan Bagramyan Lieutenant General Dmitry Leonov Lieutenant General Mikhail Rudakov Colonel General Vladimir Kurasov Zaloga, Steven J. Bagration 1944 - The Destruction of Army Group Center.
New York: Osprey Publishing, 1996, p. 24 ISBN 1-85532-478-4
Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast
Sovetsk, before 1946 known as Tilsit in East Prussia, is a town in Kaliningrad Oblast, located on the south bank of the Neman River. Sovetsk lies at the confluence of the Tilse River with the Neman. Tilsit, which received civic rights from Albert, Duke of Prussia in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic Knights, known as the Schalauer Haus, founded in 1288; the Treaties of Tilsit were signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France on a raft moored in the Neman River. This treaty, which created the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Duchy of Warsaw, completed Napoleon's humiliation of the Kingdom of Prussia, when it was deprived of one half of its dominions; this short-lived peace-treaty is remarkable for quite another reason. Three days before its signing, Prussian queen Louise tried to persuade Napoleon in a private conversation to ease his hard conditions on Prussia. Though unsuccessful, Louise's effort endeared her to the Prussian people.
Until 1945, a marble tablet marked the house in which King Frederick William III of Prussia and Queen Louise resided. In the former Schenkendorf Platz was a monument to the poet Max von Schenkendorf a native of Tilsit. During the 19th century when the Lithuanian language in Latin characters was banned within the Russian Empire, Tilsit was an important centre for printing Lithuanian books which were smuggled by Knygnešiai to the Russian-controlled part of Lithuania. In general, Tilsit was an important Prussian town. By 1900 it had 34,500 inhabitants, it was occupied by Russian troops between 26 August 1914 and 12 September 1914 during World War I. The Act of Tilsit was signed here by leaders of the Lietuvininks in 1918. According to German data in 1890 35% of the Tilsit district population was composed of Prussian Lithuanians. Hitler visited the town just before World War II, a photo was taken of him on the famous bridge over the Memel River. Tilsit was occupied by the Red Army on January 20, 1945, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945.
The remaining Germans who had not evacuated were subsequently forcibly expelled and replaced with Soviet citizens. The town was renamed Sovetsk in honor of Soviet rule. Modern Sovetsk has sought to take advantage of Tilsit's rich traditions of cheese production, but the new name has not inherited its predecessor's reputation. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been some discussion about the possibility of restoring the town's original name, given its significance in Russian history. In 2010, the Kaliningrad Oblast's then-governor Georgy Boos of the ruling United Russia Party proposed restoring the original name and combining the town with the Nemen and Slavsk Districts to form a new Tilsit District. Boos emphasized that this move would stimulate development and economic growth, but that it could happen only through a referendum; the idea was opposed by the Communist Party of Russia. In particular, Igor Revin, the Kaliningrad Secretary of the Communist Party, accused Boos and United Russia of Germanophilia.
In April 2007, government restrictions on visits to border areas have been tightened, for foreigners, Russians living outside the border zone, travel to the Sovetsk and Bagrationovsk areas required advance permission from the Border Guard Service. It was alleged that this procedure slowed the development of these thriving border towns. In June 2012, these restrictions were lifted, which gave a boost to international tourism. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is incorporated as the town of oblast significance of Sovetsk—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts; as a municipal division, the town of oblast significance of Sovetsk is incorporated as Sovetsky Urban Okrug. Many of the town's buildings were destroyed during World War II. However, the old town centre still includes several German buildings, including those of Jugendstil design; the Queen Louise Bridge, now connecting the town to Panemunė/Übermemel in Lithuania, retains an arch – all, left of a more complex pre-war bridge structure.
Ethnic composition in 2010: Russians: 86.7% Ukrainians: 3.5% Lithuanians: 3.3% Belarusians: 2.7% Sovetsk is twinned with: Dr. Kurt Siehr, Professor of Law at the University of Zurich, Research Associate at the Max-Planck-Institute of Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg. Daniel Klein, Lithuanian pastor and grammarian Johann Christian Jacobi, German oboist Max von Schenkendorf, German poet and author Franz Meyen, German botanist Hans Victor von Unruh, German politician and technician Wilhelm Voigt, the inspiration for The Captain of Köpenick Gustaf Kossinna or Kossina, archaeologist Johanna Wolff, German author Max Scherwinsky German-born architect working in Riga, Latvia Emil Wiechert, German geophysicist Raphael Friedeberg, German physician and politician Max Gülstorff, German actor Carl Brinkmann, German sociologist and economist Franz Scheidies general in the Wehrmacht during WWII Walter Weiß, German general during WWII. Friedrich Schröder Sonnenstern, Illustrator Dick Shikat German professional wrestler
East Prussian Offensive
The East Prussian Offensive was a strategic offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. It lasted from 13 January to 25 April 1945; the Battle of Königsberg was a major part of the offensive. The East Prussian Offensive is known to German historians as the Second East Prussian Offensive; the First East Prussian Offensive, took place from 16–27 October 1944, was carried out by the 3rd Belorussian Front under General I. D. Chernyakhovsky as part of the Memel Offensive of the 1st Baltic Front; the Soviet forces took heavy casualties while penetrating 30–60 km into east-northern part of Poland, the offensive was postponed until greater reserves could be gathered. The main thrust of the offensive was to be conducted by the 3rd Belorussian Front under Ivan Chernyakhovsky, his forces were tasked with driving westwards towards Königsberg, against the defensive positions of the 3rd Panzer Army and 4th Army, the northern armies of General Georg-Hans Reinhardt's Army Group Centre.
From the north, on Chernyakhovsky's right flank, General Hovhannes Bagramyan's 1st Baltic Front would attack the positions of the 3rd Panzer Army on the Neman, as well as crushing its small bridgehead at Memel. Chernyakhovsky's left flank would be supported by the 2nd Belorussian Front of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, ordered to push north-west to the Vistula, through the lines of the 2nd Army, thereby sealing off the whole of East Prussia; the Soviet offensive began on 13 January with a heavy preparatory bombardment. At first, the Red Army made disappointing progress. Over the next five days, the Soviets managed to advance only a further 20 km, at the cost of high casualties. After two weeks of severe fighting, the Red Army began making steady progress, although again, this came at the price of high losses. Over the next few days, the 3rd Panzer Army of General Erhard Raus was destroyed or withdrew into Königsberg, while General Friedrich Hossbach′s 4th Army began to find itself outflanked.
Against fierce resistance, Rokossovsky attacked across the Narew on 14 January. This sudden change of direction caught Hossbach by surprise. On 24 January, Rokossovsky's leading tank units had reached the shore of the Vistula Lagoon, severing land communications with the rest of German armed forces for the entire 4th Army along with several divisions of the 2nd Army which were now trapped in a pocket centered on East Prussia. On the same day, Hossbach began to pull his units back from the fortified town of Lötzen—a center of the East Prussian defence system—and through a series of forced marches attempted to break out westward. In the meantime, Chernyakhovsky had succeeded in rolling up the defences from the East, pushing the remnants of the 3rd Panzer Army into Königsberg and Samland. On 28 January, Bagramyan's forces captured Memel. With the remnants of Army Group Centre contained, Soviet forces could concentrate on reducing the German forces in Pomerania and eliminating any possible threat to the northern flank of their eventual advance on Berlin.
Reinhardt and Hossbach—who had attempted to break out of East Prussia and save their troops—were relieved of command, the Army Group was placed under the command of General Lothar Rendulic. Reinhardt gave up his command with the words "There is nothing more to say". Raus and the staff of the destroyed 3rd Panzer Army were assigned to a new formation; the defending forces, in the meantime, were besieged in three pockets by Chernyakhovsky's armies: Some 15 divisions of the 4th Army had become encircled on the shore of the Vistula Lagoon in what became known as the Heiligenbeil Pocket. After bitter fighting, these units were overcome on 29 March; the remnants of 3rd Panzer Army—placed under 4th Army's command—became isolated in the Siege of Königsberg. The city was taken by the Soviets—after massive casualties on both sides—on 9 April. After this point the remaining German forces around the Bight of Danzig were reorganised into Armee Ostpreußen under the overall command of Dietrich von Saucken; the third group of German forces—the XXVIII Army Corps or Armeeabteilung Samland under General Hans Gollnick—occupied the Samland Peninsula, where the port of Pillau was retained as the last effective evacuation point for the area.
The last elements were cleared from Pillau on 25 April in the Samland Offensive. After this time, German forces continued to resist on the Vistula Spit, the long sandbar enclosing the Vistula Lagoon, until the end of the war. Evacuation of East Prussia Battle of Königsberg Prussian Nights Vistula–Oder Offensive Operation Hannibal, the evacuation effort by the Kriegsmarine East Pomeranian Offensive, the parallel Soviet offensives in Pomerania Strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II Beevor, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-670-88695-5 Duffy, Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-22829-8 Glantz, David M..