Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky was a Soviet and Polish officer who became Marshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of Poland, served as Poland's Defence Minister from 1949 until his removal in 1956 during the Polish October. He was among the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II renowned for his planning and executing of Operation Bagration, one of the most decisive Red Army successes of the war. Rokossovsky was born in Warsaw part of Congress Poland under Russian rule, his family had moved to Warsaw following the appointment of his father as the inspector of the Warsaw Railways. The Rokossovsky family were members of the Polish nobility, over generations had produced many cavalry officers. However, Konstantin's father, Ksawery Wojciech Rokossowski, was a railway official in the Russian Empire and his Belarusian mother Antonina Ovsyannikova was a teacher. Orphaned at 14, Rokossovsky earned a living by working in a stocking factory. In 1911, he became an apprentice stonemason.
Much in his life, the government of People's Republic of Poland used this fact for propaganda, claiming that Rokossovsky had helped to build Warsaw's Poniatowski Bridge. Rokossovsky's patronymic Ksaverovich was Russified on his enlistment into the Russian Army at the start of the First World War to Konstantinovich, which would be easier to pronounce in the 5th Kargopol Dragoon Regiment where he volunteered to serve. On joining the Kargopolsky 5th Dragoon Regiment, Rokossovsky soon showed himself a talented soldier and leader, he was awarded the Cross of St George. In 1917, he joined the Bolshevik Party and soon thereafter, entered the ranks of the Red Army. During the Russian Civil War he commanded a cavalry squadron of the Kargopolsky Red Guards Cavalry Detachment in the campaigns against the White Guard armies of Aleksandr Kolchak in the Urals where, in November 1919, he was wounded in the shoulder by an opposing officer whom he killed when his cavalry overran an enemy headquarters. Rokossovsky received Soviet Russia's highest military decoration at the time, the Order of the Red Banner.
In 1921 he commanded the 35th Independent Cavalry Regiment stationed in Irkutsk and played an important role in bringing Damdin Sükhbaatar, the founder of the Mongolian People's Republic to power. Famed "White Russian" general and mystic Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, who believed he was the reincarnation of Genghis Khan, had driven the Chinese occupying forces out of Mongolia in 1920 and set himself up as dictator in Outer Mongolia; the next summer, when Ungern-Sternberg moved to capture the border town of Troitskosavsk threatening to move north and cut off the Soviet far east from the rest of the Soviet Union, Rokossovsky moved south from Irkutsk and met with the Sükhbaatar Mongol forces, defeating Urgern-Sternberg's army, which retreated in disarray after a two-day engagement. Rokossovsky was again wounded, this time in the leg; the combined Mongol and Soviet forces soon thereafter captured Ulaanbaatar. It was in Mongolia that he met his wife Julia Barminan, a high school teacher, fluent in four languages and who had studied Greek mythology, whom he married in 1923.
Their daughter Ariadna was born in 1925. In 1924 and 1925 he attended the Leningrad Higher Cavalry School, he returned to Mongolia. Soon after, while serving in the Special Red Banner Eastern Army under Vasily Blücher, he took part in the Russo-Chinese Eastern Railroad War of 1929–1930 when the Soviet Union intervened to return the Chinese Eastern Railway to joint Chinese and Soviet administration, after Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang of the Republic of China attempted to seize complete control of the railway, it was in the early 1930s that Rokossovsky's military career first became intertwined with Semyon Timoshenko and Georgy Zhukov, when Rokossovsky was the commander of the 7th Samara Cavalry Division, Zhukov as a brigade commander under him and Timoshenko his superior Corps commander. Both became principal actors in his life during World War II, where he served directly under both at different times. A sense of the nature of the beginning of Rokossovsky's famous World War II rivalry with Zhukov can be gathered from reading Rokossovsky's comments in an official report on Zhukov's character: Has a strong will.
Decisive and firm. Demonstrates initiative and skillfully applies it. Disciplined. Demanding and persistent in his demands. A somewhat ungracious and not sufficiently sympathetic person. Rather stubborn. Painfully proud. In professional terms well trained. Broadly experienced as a military leader... Cannot be used in staff or teaching jobs because constitutionally he hates them. Rokossovsky was among the first to realize the potential of armoured assault, he was an early supporter of the creation of a strong armoured corps for the Red Army, as championed by Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky in his theory of "deep operations". Rokossovsky held senior commands until August 1937 when he became caught up in Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and accused of being a spy, his association with the cutting edge methods of Marshal Tukhachevsky may have been the cause of his conflict with more traditional officers such as Semyon Budenny, who still favoured cavalry tactics over Tukhachevsky's mass armour theories, but few historians believe that the purge of the Red Army was a dispute over policy, most attribute the purges to political and military rivalries as well.
Some officers were mer
Pavel Ivanovich Batov was a senior Red Army general during the Second World War and afterwards, twice Hero of the Soviet Union. Batov fought in World War I. After being wounded in 1917, he joined the Bolsheviks, he fought in the Russian Civil War and became an adviser with the XII International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. During World War II, Batov commanded the 51st Army in the Crimea. In 1942, he became the commander of the 3rd Army and the 4th Tank Army, renamed the 65th Army. Postwar, Batov commanded the Carpathian Military District.. Batov is considered to be one of the most brilliant generals in Soviet army and some of his methods are still learnt today in military academies. Born at Filisovo in 1897, Batov began his military career during World War I. In 1915, he enlisted in a student command and served as a scout in the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Life Guards. During this service, he displayed considerable bravery and was awarded with two Crosses of St. George and two lesser medals.
After being wounded in action in 1917, he was assigned to an NCO school in Petrograd where political agitator A. Savkov brought him into the Bolshevik movement. Batov served for four years in the Red Army during the civil war as a machine gunner, as assistant military chief of the Rybinsk Military Committee, his first staff work, he was given command of a company in 1926, was chosen to attend the Vystrel Officer's School the same year, where he met many future senior officers of the wartime Red Army. He joined the Communist Party in 1929. In 1927, Batov was promoted to command a battalion of the prestigious 1st Moscow Proletarian Rifle Division, he would serve in this unit for the next nine years. His divisional commander in 1936 wrote: Comrade Batov has commanded a regiment for more than three years. In the course of that time, the regiment has occupied first place in the division in all categories of combat and political training. In tactical training, the regiment stands out as superb. Batov soon received the "Sign of Honour" medal, completed the Frunze Academy by correspondence course.
Batov was selected to "volunteer" for service in the Spanish Civil War, under the nom de guerre Fritz Pablo. He first served as military adviser to the Hungarian communist Máté Zalka, who commanded the XII International Brigade defending the approaches to Madrid, he fought on the Teruel Front and was wounded twice and won his first Orders of Lenin and of the Red Banner as a result. After recovering, he fought at Jarama, alongside A. I Rodimtsev, on the Aragon front, where he was wounded again. Returning to the Soviet Union in December 1937, Batov successively commanded the 10th Rifle Corps and 3rd Rifle Corps, the latter of which he led in the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland in September 1939; the corps transferred to the Finnish front, fought in the second phase of the Russian-Finnish War in the Karelian sector under 13th Army. For his services in Finland, Batov was awarded a second Order of Lenin, promoted to divisional commander and, in June, to lieutenant general, he was appointed deputy commander of the Transcaucasus Military District.
The outbreak of war with Germany would find him deep in the south of the USSR. In June 1941, Batov was in command of the 9th Separate Rifle Corps, which comprised the 106th and 156th Rifle Divisions and the 32nd Cavalry Division, with a total strength of about 35,000 men; this corps was the only major Red Army formation in the Crimea at the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa, Batov had arrived at its headquarters in Simferopol just two days earlier. In 1941, he was made deputy commander of the 51st Army, following the evacuation of that army from the Kerch Peninsula he rose again to full command. Although the Crimea had been lost, Batov was exonerated by Stalin. In January 1942, he joined the Bryansk Front as commander of the 3rd Army, as deputy commander for training of the Front, under Lt. Gen. K. K. Rokossovski. Rokossovski noted that Batov preferred active command to "sit in the headquarters", that his current role was "a burden" to him. Batov and Rokossovski formed a professional and personal bond that would last beyond the latter's death in 1968, Batov would continue to serve under Rokossovski's command until the end of the war.
On October 22, 1942, Batov was moved to command of the 4th Tank Army on the approaches to Stalingrad, replacing Mjr. Gen. V. D. Kryuchenkin; this army, soon renamed the 65th Army, formed part of Rokossovski's Don Front. Batov remained in command of 65th Army for the duration, he helped to plan the Soviet counteroffensive, Operation Uranus, providing key intelligence to Gen. Zhukov regarding the boundaries between German and Romanian forces, his army formed a key strike force in this offensive, the subsequent Operation Ring, which reduced and defeated the encircled Axis forces. Rokossovski wrote: displayed fine initiative with an improvised mobile task force... By striking at the enemy's flank and rear, the task force ensured the swift advance of the other units. Following this victory 65th Army was moved to the northwest, rejoining Rokossovski as part of his new Central Front. Exploiting success, the Front was pushing hard against the weak German Second Army west of Kursk, when it was brought to a halt by the spring rasputitsa and German successes around Kharkov, to the south.
In July 1943, Batov's army formed part of Rokossovski's Front during the giant Battle of Kursk, on a secondary sector, in the exploitation operat
16th Air Army
The 16th Red Banner Air Army was the most important formation of the Special Purpose Command. Formed during the Second World War as a part of the Soviet Air Force, it was from its 2002 reformation to its 2009 disbandment the tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District; the 16th Air Army took part in the Battle of Berlin with 28 Aviation divisions and 7 Separate aviation regiments, was located with the GSFG in East Germany until 1994. Withdrawn to Kubinka in that year, the army was disbanded and reformed as a corps in 1998; the army began forming on 8 August 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad and included the 220th Fighter Aviation Division and 228th Assault Aviation Division of the 8th Air Army, as well as two separate aviation regiments. Around the end of August and the beginning of September, the 283rd IAD and 291st Mixed Aviation Division arrived from the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. On 4 September, the army had 152 serviceable aircraft, composed of Yakovlev Yak-1 and Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 fighters, Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik ground attack aircraft, Petlyakov Pe-2 dive bombers.
It took part in Operation Uranus, the counteroffensive that cut off German troops in Stalingrad, as part of the Don Front during November and December 1942, under the command of Major General Sergei Rudenko. On 19 November, when the offensive began, the army had a total of 249 serviceable aircraft, it was involved in the Battle of Kursk, was part of the First Belorussian Front for the liberation of Belarus, the Lublin-Brest Offensive, the assault on Berlin. On 29 May 1945, Stavka directive No. 11095 was issued, by which order the 1st Belorussian Front became the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany. The order promulgated the new structure of 16th Air Army: 3rd Bomber Aviation Corps 183rd Bomber Aviation Division 241st Bomber Aviation Division 301st Bomber Aviation Division 6th Bomber Aviation Corps 113th Bomber Aviation Division 326th Bomber Aviation Division 334th Bomber Aviation Division 6th Assault Aviation Corps 197th Assault Aviation Division 198th Assault Aviation Division 2nd Guards Assault Aviation Division 9th Assault Aviation Corps 3rd Guards Assault Aviation Division 300th Assault Aviation Division 11th Guards Assault Aviation Division 1st Guards Fighter Aviation Corps 3rd Guards Fighter Aviation Division 4th Guards Fighter Aviation Division 240th Fighter Aviation Division 3rd Fighter Aviation Corps 265th Fighter Aviation Division 278th Fighter Aviation Division 286th Fighter Aviation Division 13th Fighter Aviation Corps 193rd Fighter Aviation Division 283rd Fighter Aviation Division 282nd Fighter Aviation Division 9th Guards Night-Bomber Aviation Division 16th independent Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment 93rd independent Artillery Correction Regiment 98th independent Artillery Correction Regiment 226th Separate mixed wing 62nd Guards Aviation Regiment GVF 919th independent Communications Aviation Squadron For a long period after the war, the army was stationed with the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, headquartered at Zossen-Wünsdorf.
In 1949, it was renamed the 24th Air Army, but was reformed as the 16th in 1968. The 16th Air Army ceremonially said farewell to Germany at the Sperenburg Open Day on 27 May 1994. On that day the Air Army Headquarters was moved to Kubinka in the Moscow Military District; however the last aircraft from the 226th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment did not leave Sperenberg Airfield until 6 September 1994. A visiting Il-76MD was the last aircraft movement three days later. In 1989 it consisted of subordinate units and formations as follows: Headquarters, Zossen-Wünsdorf6th Guards Fighter Aviation Division 296th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment 31st Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment 85th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment 968th Fighter Aviation Regiment 139th Aviation Technical Regiment 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division 33rd Fighter Aviation Regiment 773rd Fighter Aviation Regiment 787th Fighter Aviation Regiment 126th Fighter Aviation Division 35th Fighter Aviation Regiment 833rd Fighter Aviation Regiment 125th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division 19th Guards Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment 20th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment 105th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division 296th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment 559th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment 911th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment Separate units, directly subordinated to the 16th Air Army 11th Independent Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment 226th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment (Sperenberg relocated to Kubi
Alexey Rodin (general)
Alexey Grigoryevich Rodin was a Soviet Army colonel general and Hero of the Soviet Union. Born in 1902 to a peasant family, Rodin was drafted into the Red Army in 1920. After fighting in the Russian Civil War, he became an officer and rose to command 50th Rifle Corps Armored and Mechanized forces during the Winter War. After the end of the war, Rodin became deputy commander of the 24th Tank Division and fought in the Baltic Operation and Leningrad Strategic Defensive. Given command of the 124th Tank Brigade in September 1941, he led the unit during battles around Leningrad and in the Lyuban Offensive Operation. From June 1942, Rodin led the unit during Operation Uranus. For its actions, the corps became the 1st Guards Tank Corps and Rodin received the title Hero of the Soviet Union. After Stalingrad, he was promoted to command the 2nd Tank Army and led it during Operation Kutuzov and the Battle of the Dnieper, but was dismissed due to lack of progress and heavy losses incurred in the army's advance.
In September 1943, Rodin became commander of the Western Front Armored and Mechanized Forces, participating in Operation Suvorov, Operation Bagration and the East Prussian Offensive. Postwar, he became head of the Directorate of Combat Training of the Armored and Mechanized Forces before retirement in 1954. Rodin was born on 17 February 1902 in Zuyevo village in Tver Governorate to a peasant family. In April 1920, he was drafted into the Red Army. Rodin fought in the Russian Civil War in the Caucasus, he served with a separate cavalry division in the 9th Army. In December 1920, the division was reorganized into the 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the 31st Rifle Division, where Rodin served as a senior clerk; the division took part in the suppression of partisan groups in the Caucasus. In February 1921, Rodin became adjutant of the escort unit of the 9th Army's Revolutionary Military Council. After the end of the fighting in August 1922, Rodin became a cadet at the Vladikavkaz Combat Arms Courses. In January 1923 he was enrolled in the Krasnodar Red Army Courses and the Moscow Artillery School in August.
In September 1926, Rodin graduated from the Moscow Artillery School. He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in that year, he was sent to the Ural Military District, where he became chief of intelligence and communications for the 9th Horse Artillery Division. In October 1927, he was transferred to the 45th Artillery Regiment of the 45th Rifle Division and became an assistant battery commander. Subsequently, Rodin became commander of a battery. In June 1931, he became commander of the 45th Rifle Division motorized detachment. In February 1932, Rodin became a battalion commander in the 45th Artillery Regiment. In January 1933, he was sent to the Military Academy of Motorization, he received the rank of Major in 1936. In 1937, he graduated from the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization and transferred to the tank troops. From December 1937, he was the chief of staff of the 9th Mechanized Brigade. In 1938, he was promoted to colonel. From 1939, he was head of the Mechanized Troops of the 50th Rifle Corps.
He fought in the Winter War with the corps. On 23 January, Rodin prevented a panic in the rear area of the 138th Rifle Division and organized the repulsion of a Finnish counterattack. In July 1940, he was given command of the 5th Tank Regiment of the 3rd Tank Division. In December 1940, he transferred to command the 2nd Light Tank Brigade in the Leningrad Military District. In March 1941, he became deputy commander of the 24th Tank Division; the division fought in the Baltic Operation and the Leningrad Strategic Defensive. Rodin's division defended the Luga defensive line for one month. In September 1941, he became commander of the 124th Tank Brigade. In February 1942, the brigade transferred to the 54th Army at Volkhov and fought in the unsuccessful Lyuban Offensive Operation. From May, Rodin was the deputy commander of the 54th Army Mechanized Troops. On 3 May, he was promoted to major general. In June 1942, he became commander of the 26th Tank Corps; the corps captured Kalach on 9 November. The corps became the 1st Guards Tank Corps and received the honorific "Don" for its actions.
On 7 February 1943, Rodin was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin for his leadership of the corps. After the end of the Battle of Stalingrad in February, Rodin became commander of the 2nd Tank Army, he received a promotion to lieutenant general on 4 February. During February and March, the army fought in the unsuccessful offensive to capture Sevsk and Smolensk. In July, the army fought in Operation Kutuzov; the army fought in the Chernigov-Pripyat Offensive during the Battle of the Dnieper during August and September. On 2 August due to the lack of progress and heavy losses Rodin was dismissed as commander of the 2nd Tank Amy and was replaced by Lieutenant General Semen Bogdanov, he was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class on 27 August. On 9 September, Rodin became commander of the mechanized forces of the Western Front, he participated in Operation Suvorov. In April 1944, the Western Front became the 3rd Belorussian Front. During the summer of 1944 he fought in Operation Bagration.
Rodin was awarded the Order of Kutuzov 1st class on 3 July. On 15 July 1944, he was promoted to colonel general. In the spring of 1945, Rodin participated in the East Prussian Offensive. After the end of the war, Rodin continued to serve in the army; until July 1945, he led the mechanized forces of the Baranovichi Military District. In March 1947, Rodin became the command
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk was a Second World War engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk in the Soviet Union, during July and August 1943. The battle began with the launch of the German offensive, Operation Citadel, on 5 July, which had the objective of pinching off the Kursk salient with attacks on the base of the salient from north and south simultaneously. After the German offensive stalled on the northern side of the salient, on 12 July the Soviets commenced their Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation with the launch of Operation Kutuzov against the rear of the German forces in the northern side. On the southern side, the Soviets launched powerful counterattacks the same day, one of which led to a large armoured clash, the Battle of Prokhorovka. On 3 August, the Soviets began the second phase of the Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation with the launch of Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev against the German forces in the southern side of the Kursk salient; the battle was the final strategic offensive that the Germans were able to launch on the Eastern Front.
Because the Allied invasion of Sicily had begun, Adolf Hitler was forced to have troops training in France diverted to meet the Allied threat in the Mediterranean, rather than use them as a strategic reserve for the Eastern Front. Hitler canceled the offensive at Kursk in part to divert forces to Italy. Germany's extensive losses of men and tanks ensured that the victorious Soviet Red Army enjoyed the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war; the Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off the forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salient. The Kursk salient or bulge was 250 kilometres long from north to south and 160 kilometres from east to west; the plan envisioned an envelopment by a pair of pincers breaking through the northern and southern flanks of the salient. Hitler believed that a victory here would reassert German strength and improve his prestige with his allies, who were considering withdrawing from the war, it was hoped that large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be captured to be used as slave labour in the German armaments industry.
The Soviet government had foreknowledge of the German intentions, provided in part by the British intelligence service and Tunny intercepts. Aware months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets built a defence in depth designed to wear down the German armoured spearhead; the Germans delayed the offensive while they tried to build up their forces and waited for new weapons the new Panther tank but larger numbers of the Tiger heavy tank. This gave the Red Army time to construct a series of deep defensive belts; the defensive preparations included minefields, artillery fire zones and anti-tank strong points, which extended 300 km in depth. Soviet mobile formations were moved out of the salient and a large reserve force was formed for strategic counter-offensives; the Battle of Kursk was the first time in the Second World War that a German strategic offensive was halted before it could break through enemy defences and penetrate to its strategic depths.
The maximum depth of the German advance was 8–12 kilometres in the north and 35 kilometres in the south. Though the Red Army had succeeded in winter offensives their counter-offensives following the German attack at Kursk were their first successful strategic summer offensives of the war; as the Battle of Stalingrad ground to its conclusion, the Red Army moved to a general offensive in the south, in Operation Little Saturn. By January 1943, a 160 to 300 km wide gap had opened between Army Group B and Army Group Don, the advancing Soviet armies threatened to cut off all German forces south of the Don River, including Army Group A operating in the Caucasus. Army Group Center came under significant pressure as well. Kursk fell to the Soviets on 8 February 1943, Rostov fell on 14 February; the Soviet Bryansk and newly created Central Fronts prepared for an offensive which envisioned the encirclement of Army Group Center between Bryansk and Smolensk. By February 1943 the southern sector of the German front was in strategic crisis.
Since December 1942 Field Marshal Erich von Manstein had been requesting "unrestricted operational freedom" to allow him to use his forces in a fluid manner. On 6 February 1943, Manstein met with Hitler at the headquarters in Rastenburg to discuss the proposals he had sent, he received an approval from Hitler for a counteroffensive against the Soviet forces advancing in the Donbass region. On 12 February 1943, the remaining German forces were reorganised. To the south, Army Group Don was placed under Manstein's command. Directly to the north, Army Group B was dissolved, with its forces and areas of responsibility divided between Army Group South and Army Group Center. Manstein inherited responsibility for the massive breach in the German lines. On 18 February, Hitler arrived at Army Group South headquarters at Zaporizhia just hours before the Soviets liberated Kharkov, had to be hastily evacuated on the 19th. Once given freedom of action, Manstein intended to utilise his forces to make a series of counterstrokes into the flanks of the Soviet armoured formations, with the goal of destroying them while retaking Kharkov and Kursk.
The II SS Panzer Corps had arrived from France in January 1943, refitted and up to near full strength. Armoured units from the 1st Panzer Army of Army Group A had pulled out of the Caucasus and further strengthen
4th Army (Soviet Union)
The 4th Army was a Soviet field army of World War II that served on the Eastern front of World War II and in the Caucasus during the Cold War. It was disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union, with its divisions being withdrawn to Russia and disbanded; the Fourth Army was created in August 1939 in the Belorussian Special Military District from the Bobruisk Army Group as an independent army. In September 1939, the Fourth Army took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland commanded by the future Marshal of Soviet Union V. I. Chuykov, the defender of Stalingrad, its order of battle in that operation is listed here. Elements of the army 4th Battalion, 29th Light Tank Brigade, took part in the German–Soviet military parade in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939; when the German invasion of the Soviet Union commenced on 22 June 1941, the Army was part of the Western Front and had the 28th Rifle Corps, 14th Mechanised Corps, 49th and 75th Rifle Divisions, as well as the 62nd Fortified Region. General Colonel Pavlov, Commander of the Western Front, had decided to redeploy some of 4th Army’s troops early in 1941, John Erickson wrote that 12th Rifle Division was accordingly moved into Brest, HQ 14th Mechanised Corps to Kobrin, which in Erickson’s words, ‘deprived 4th Army of its reserve and its second echelon.’It should be understood that John Erickson was writing in the pre-1990 period when formation designations could be unclear, sometimes to the point of deliberate deception.
According to Sharp the 12th Rifle Division was identified by the Germans on the Western Front, but the unit was assigned to the Far East for the entire war. The formation that appears to have been moved into Brest Fortress was 42nd Rifle Division. Facing the 4th Army across the Bug River was deployed the German Fourth Army, with twelve infantry divisions and a cavalry division, as well as Panzer Group 2; some units faced several difficulties. A. Khorobkov, the army commander, saw his officers on 10 June, General Major Stepan Oborin, 14th Mechanised Corps commander, emphasized that more than half his soldiers were untrained recruits, that his artillery had received guns for which there was no ammunition, that he only had enough lorries to make a quarter of the corps mobile – the rest would have to march. On the eve of the attack, 4th Army suffered, as did many Soviet formations, from German communication sabotage. Units lost telephone connections, electrical power, the Brest Fortress lost its water supply.
From about 5 am on 22 June fierce fighting began around the Brest fortress, but the seven battalions around the fortress, from 28th Rifle Corps, were undermanned and slow off the mark to man the defences. Despite these deficiencies the final German reduction of the fortress took some time in the face of determined Soviet resistance. By 1600 hours on 22 June, 4th Army HQ was back at Zapruda, whereupon Front HQ ordered that 14th Mechanised Corps be launched in an attack to clear Brest and reach the frontier line; however the Army staff felt the plan had no chance of success, so it proved. Three days Western Front ordered a general withdrawal to try to keep the frontier armies out of threatened German encirclement. Further instructions came through from Pavlov after a chance meeting the same day; however the Slutsk fortified district, as the district commander reminded Khorobkov, had long ago been instructed to dispatch all its weapons to the Brest fortress. The planned defence was thus non-existent, Slutsk fell on 27 June.
The Army took part in the defenses of the area around Babruysk. At the end of July 1941, the Fourth Army began to dissolve; the Fourth Army's staff members were absorbed into the general staff of the Central Front, the troops were absorbed into other armies. Source:Commander Lieutenant General Alexander A. Korobkov 28th Rifle Corps - Major General V. S. Popov 6th Rifle Division - Col. M. A. Popsiu-Shapko 42nd Rifle Division - Maj. Gen. I. S. Lazarenko 49th Rifle Division - Col. C. F. Vasil’ev 75th Rifle Division - Col. Nedwigin 14th Mechanized Corps - Major General S. I. Oborin 22nd Tank Division - Mj. Gen. V. P. Puganov 30th Tank Division - Col. Semen Bogdanov 205th Motor Rifle Division - Col. F. F. KudjurovOrder of Battle for Operation Barbarossa At the end of September 1941, the Fourth Army was formed for the second time, retaining its Independent status until December while remaining in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command; the field staffs of the 52nd and 54th Armies were used to fill the command contingent of the Army.
The new formation was made up of the 285th, 292nd, 311th Rifle Divisions along with the 27th Cavalry Division, a Tank brigade, the 2nd Reserve aviation group, other artillery and support units. The Fourth Army participated in the defense and attack of Tikhvin from October to December 1941. On December 17, 1941, the Fourth Army was allocated to the Volkhov Front. From January 1942 to November 1943, the Fourth Army fought on the front in Volkhov and Leningrad while doing many rear-area duties. Unlike in other parts of the Eastern Front, the Red Army was not making significant gains in