Silver Medal of Military Valor
The Silver Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal for gallantry. Italian medals for valor were first instituted by Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia on 21 May 1793, with a gold medal, below it, a silver medal; these were intended for junior officers or common soldiers who had distinguished themselves in combat. These medals fell into disuse during the period of Napoleonic domination, they were reinstated on 1 April 1815, by Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia, however, abolished them only a few months on 4 August 1815, replacing them with the Military Order of Savoy, now known as the Military Order of Italy. However, in 1833, Charles Albert of Sardinia, recognizing that the Military Order was too exclusive in that it could only be awarded to persons of high rank, re-instituted the medals for valor as awards for noble acts performed by soldiers in both war and peace. According to royal decree no. 753 of 24 May 1915, the number of times one individual could receive a medal for valor was limited to three, after which a promotion was foreseen.
This limit was abolished with royal decree no. 975 of 15 June 1922. During World War I, the medal was awarded to military personnel, units above the level of company and civilians for exceptional valor in the face of the enemy. During World War I, the medal was given out some 38,614 times for individual acts of heroism. Thus, the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valor is equivalent in frequency and prestige to the British Military Cross, awarded some 40,253 times during World War I; the Silver Medal for Military Valor is still awarded by the Italian state, it, along with the Gold and Bronze medals for Military Valor as well as the "Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare" is established by the Royal Decree of 4 November 1932, in which the purpose of these medals is defined as "To distinguish and publicly honor the authors of heroic military acts ones performed in time of peace, provided that the exploit is connected with the purposes for which the Armed Forces are constituted, whatever may be the condition or quality of the author."
Italo Balbo William George Barker VC Alfred-Ingemar Berndt Carlo Emanuele Buscaglia Federico Cafiero Mark W. Clark Gino De Giorgi Ludovico De Filippi Arturo Ferrarin Alfred Gause Joachim Helbig Ernest Hemingway Sir William Holmes Hans Kroh Alfredo Madau Hans-Joachim Marseille Walther Nehring Erwin Rommel Hans-Ulrich Rudel Hippolyte De La Rue Emanuele Ruspoli Nazario Sauro Achille Starace Johannes Streich Attilio Teruzzi Edmond Thieffry Cervi Brothers Hans von Luck Guido Jung Vincenzo Maturo Medal of Military Valor Gold Medal of Military Valor Bronze Medal of Military Valor Italian medals 1860-today List of prizes and awards
Operation Koltso was the last part of the Battle of Stalingrad. It resulted in the capitulation of the remaining Axis forces encircled in the city; the operation was launched on 10 January 1943 with a mass artillery bombardment of the German positions outside the city by the seven encircling Soviet armies. In the first three days, the Soviets lost 26,000 men and over half their tanks; the western half of the Stalingrad pocket had been lost by 17 January. On the 10th, it became clear. "The 44th, 76th and 28th Infantry Divisions were badly hit." The 3rd Infantry Division, deployed on the southwestern corner of the cauldron since the end of Nov. 1942, was ordered to retreat to new defensive positions to avoid encirclement. The fighting paused for four days while the Soviet forces regrouped and redeployed for the next phase of the operation; the second phase of the offensive began on 20 January with a Soviet push toward the airfield at Gumrak. Two days the airfield was occupied by the Soviets, its capture meant an end to the evacuation of the German wounded and that any further air supply would have to be by parachute.
Paulus on 22 January sent a radio message to OKH: Russians in action in 6 km wide on both sides Voroponovo, some with flags unfurled to the east. No way to close the gap. Withdrawal to neighboring fronts who are without ammunition and not feasible. Supply with ammunition from other fronts no longer possible. Food at an end. More than 12,000 unprovided for wounded in the encirclement. What orders shall I give the troops who have no more ammunition and will be further attacked with heavy artillery and massed infantry? Fastest decision necessary because dissolution in some places started. Confidence in the leadership still exists; the Axis retreated back into the city itself. But resistance to the Soviet advance diminished due to the exhaustion of all supplies on the Axis side. On 25 January, LI Corps commander Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach told his divisional commanders to decide for themselves on the matter of surrender, he was relieved of his command by Paulus. Seydlitz-Kurzbach fled the German lines under German fire and surrendered to the Soviets.
On 26 January, detachments of 21st Army met up with the 13th Guards Division to the north of the Mamaev Kurgan, which cut the Axis pocket in Stalingrad in two. Paulus and many of his senior German commanders were in the smaller southern pocket based in the city center of Stalingrad; the northern pocket was led by XI Corps commander General Strecker and centered in the area around the tractor factory. In bitter fighting, the Soviets cleared the city center. By 31 January, German resistance in the southern pocket was confined to individual buildings. Soviet forces reached Paulus's headquarters in the Univermag Department Store and the remaining German soldiers ceased their resistance. Soviet Staff officers entered the building and negotiated terms with General Schmidt. Paulus refused to participate directly. In Soviet captivity, Paulus denied claiming to have been taken by surprise, he refused to issue an order to the remaining Germans in the southern pocket to surrender. He denied having the authority to issue an order for the northern pocket to surrender.
The entire Soviet force at Stalingrad now concentrated on the northern pocket. Intense artillery fire was used to reduce resistance. Soviet forces followed up, destroying any remaining bunkers with direct fire at short range from tanks or artillery. General Strecker continued to resist based on the idea that tying down the Soviet armies at Stalingrad as long as possible would help the German situation elsewhere in the Soviet Union. By the early morning of 2 February, Strecker was informed that one of his officers had gone to negotiate surrender terms with the Soviets, he decided to put an end to the fighting. He sent a radio message to Germany, saying that his command had performed its duty to the last man and surrendered. Organized Axis resistance in the city ended
Operation Winter Storm
Operation Winter Storm was a German offensive in World War II in which the German 4th Panzer Army unsuccessfully attempted to break the Soviet encirclement of the German 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November 1942, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, encircling some 300,000 Axis personnel in and around the city of Stalingrad. German forces within the Stalingrad pocket and directly outside were reorganized under Army Group Don, under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. Meanwhile, the Red Army continued to allocate as many resources as possible to the eventual launch of the planned Operation Saturn, which aimed to isolate Army Group A from the rest of the German Army. To remedy the situation, the Luftwaffe attempted to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge; when the Luftwaffe proved incapable of carrying out its mission and it became obvious that a successful breakout could occur only if launched as early as possible, Manstein decided on a relief effort.
Manstein was promised four panzer divisions. Due to German reluctance to weaken certain sectors by redeploying German units, the task of opening a corridor to the German 6th Army fell to the 4th Panzer Army; the German force was pitted against several Soviet armies tasked with the destruction of the encircled German forces and their offensive around the lower Chir River. The German offensive made large gains on the first day; the spearhead forces were able to defeat counterattacks by Soviet troops. By 13 December, Soviet resistance slowed the German advance considerably. Although German forces took the area surrounding Verkhne-Kumskiy, the Red Army launched Operation Little Saturn on 16 December. Operation Little Saturn crushed the Italian 8th Army on Army Group Don's left flank, threatening the survival of Manstein's entire group of forces; as resistance and casualties increased, Manstein appealed to Hitler and to the commander of the German 6th Army, General Friedrich Paulus, to allow the 6th Army to break out of Stalingrad.
The 4th Panzer Army continued its attempt to open a corridor to the 6th Army on 18–19 December, but was unable to do so without the aid of forces inside the Stalingrad pocket. Manstein called off the assault on 23 December and by Christmas Eve the 4th Panzer Army began to withdraw to its starting position. Due to the failure of the 6th Army to break out from the Soviet encirclement, the Red Army was able to continue the strangulation of German forces in Stalingrad. On 23 November 1942, the Red Army closed its encirclement of Axis forces in Stalingrad. Nearly 300,000 German and Romanian soldiers, as well as Russian volunteers for the Wehrmacht, were trapped in and around the city of Stalingrad by 1.1 million Soviet personnel. Amidst the impending disaster, German chancellor Adolf Hitler appointed Field Marshal Erich von Manstein as commander of the newly created Army Group Don. Composed of the German 4th Panzer and 6th Armies, as well as the Third and Fourth Romanian Armies, Manstein's new army group was situated between German Army Groups A and B.
Instead of attempting an immediate breakout, German high command decided that the trapped forces would remain in Stalingrad in a bid to hold out. The encircled German forces were to be resupplied by air, requiring 680 t of supplies per day. However, the assembled fleet of 500 transport aircraft were insufficient for the task. Many of the aircraft were hardly serviceable in the rough Soviet winter; the German 6th Army, for example, was getting less than 20% of its daily needs. Furthermore, the Germans were still threatened by Soviet forces which still held portions of the Volga River's west bank in Stalingrad. Given the unexpected size of German forces closed off in Stalingrad, on 23 November Stavka decided to strengthen the outer encirclement preparing to destroy Axis forces in and around the city. On 24 November, several Soviet formations began to entrench themselves to defend against possible German incursions originating from the West; the Soviets reinforced the encircling forces in order to prevent a successful breakout operation by the German 6th Army and other Axis units.
However, this tied down over ½ of the Red Army's strength in the area. Planning for Operation Saturn began on 25 November, aiming for the destruction of the Italian 8th Army and the severing of communications between German forces west of the Don River and those operating in the Caucasus. Meanwhile, planning began for Operation Koltso, which aimed at reducing German forces in the Stalingrad pocket; as Operation Uranus concluded, German forces inside the encirclement were too weak to attempt a breakout on their own. Half of their remaining armor, for example, had been lost during the defensive fighting, there was a severe lack of fuel and ammunition for the surviving vehicles, given that the Luftwaffe was not able to provide adequate aerial resupply. Manstein proposed a counterstrike to break the Soviet encirclement of Stalingrad, codenamed Operation Winter Storm. Manstein believed that—due to the inability of the Luftwaffe to supply the Stalingrad pocket—it was becoming more important to relieve them "at the earliest possible date".
On 28 November, Manstein sent Hitler a detailed report on Army Group Don's situation, including the strength of the German 6th Army and an assessment on the available ammunition for German artillery inside the city. The dire strategic situation made Manstein doubtful on whether or not the relief operation could afford to wait to receive all units earmarked for the offensive. Stavka
Battle of Voronezh (1942)
The Battle of Voronezh, or First Battle of Voronezh, was a battle on the Eastern Front of World War II, fought in and around the strategically important city of Voronezh on the Don river, 450 km south of Moscow, from 28 June-24 July 1942, as opening move of the German summer offensive in 1942. The German attack had two objectives. One was to seed confusion about the ultimate goals of the overall campaign. There was widespread feeling by all observers Soviet high command, that the Germans would reopen their attack on Moscow that summer. By attacking toward Voronezh, near the site of the German's deepest penetration the year before, it would hide the nature of the real action taking place far to the south. Soviet forces sent to the area to shore up the defenses would not be able to move with the same speed as the Germans, who would turn south and leave them behind; the other purpose was to provide an defended front line along the river, providing a strong left flank that could be protected with light forces.
The plan involved forces of Army Group South, at this time far north of their ultimate area of responsibility. The attack would be spearheaded by the 4th Panzer Army under the command of General Hermann Hoth. Hoth's mobile forces would move eastward to Voronezh and turn southeast to follow the Don to Stalingrad; as the 4th moved out of the city, the slower infantry forces of the Second Army following behind them would take up defensive positions along the river. The plan called for the 2nd to arrive just as the 4th had cleared the city, Hoth was under orders to avoid any street-to-street fighting that might bog down their progress; the city was defended by the troops of the 40th Army as part of the Valuiki-Rossosh Defensive Operation of General of Army Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin's Southwestern Front. Hoth's powerful armored forces moved forward with little delay and the only natural barrier before the city was the Devitsa River, an arm of the Don running through Semiluki, a short distance to the west.
For reasons that are unclear, the bridge over the Devitsa was not destroyed, Hoth's forces were able to sweep aside the defensive forces placed there and reach the outskirts of Voronezh on 7 July. Soviet forces mounted a successful counterattack that tied up Hoth's forces. At this point they should have been relieved by the infantry forces, but they were still far from the city. Intense house-to-house fighting broke out, Hoth continued to push forward while he waited. At one point the 3rd Motorized Division turned back; the Soviet command poured reserves into the city and a situation not unlike what would be seen at Stalingrad a few months broke out, with the German troops clearing the city street by street with flamethrowers while tanks gave fire support. The 2nd did not arrive for another two days, by which time the 4th was engaged and took some time to remove from the line; the 2nd continued the battle until 24 July, when the final Soviet forces west of the Don were defeated and the fighting ended.
Adolf Hitler came to believe that these two days, when combined with other avoidable delays on the drive south, allowed Marshal Semyon Timoshenko to reinforce the forces in Stalingrad before the 4th Panzer Army could arrive to allow taking of Stalingrad. The Soviet forces recaptured the city in the Battle of Voronezh of 1943. SourcesGlantz, David M. & House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0899-0
The Don is one of the major Eurasian rivers of Russia and the fifth-longest river in Europe. The Don basin is between the Dnieper basin to the west, the Volga basin to the east, the Oka basin to the north; the Don rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast of Tula, flows for a distance of about 1,870 kilometres to the Sea of Azov. From its source, the river first flows southeast to Voronezh southwest to its mouth; the main city on the river is Rostov on Don. Its main tributary is the Seversky Donets. According to the Kurgan hypothesis, the Volga-Don river region was the homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans c. 4000BC. The Don river functioned as a fertile cradle of civilization where the Neolithic farmer culture of the Near East fused with the hunter-gatherer culture of Siberian groups, resulting in the nomadic pastoralism of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. In antiquity, the river was viewed as the border between Europe and Asia by some ancient Greek geographers. In the Book of Jubilees, it is mentioned as being part of the border, beginning with its easternmost point up to its mouth, between the allotments of sons of Noah, that of Japheth to the north and that of Shem to the south.
During the times of the old Scythians it was known in Greek as the Tanaïs and has been a major trading route since. Tanais appears in ancient Greek sources as both the name of the river and of a city on it, situated in the Maeotian marshes. Pliny gives the Scythian name of the Tanais as Silys. According to Plutarch, the Don River was home to the legendary Amazons of Greek mythology; the area around the estuary is speculated to be the source of the Black Death. While the lower Don was well known to ancient geographers, its middle and upper reaches were not mapped with any accuracy before the gradual conquest of the area by Muscovy in the 16th century; the Don Cossacks, who settled the fertile valley of the river in the 16th and 17th centuries, were named after the river. The fort of Donkov was founded by the princes of Ryazan in the late 14th century; the fort stood on the left bank of the Don, about 34 kilometers from the modern town of Dankov, until 1568, when it was destroyed by the Crimean Tatars, but soon restored at a better fortified location.
It is shown as Donko in Mercator's Atlas, Donkov was again relocated in 1618, appearing as Donkagorod in Joan Blaeu's map of 1645. Both Blaeu and Mercator follow the 16th-century cartographic tradition of letting the Don originate in a great lake, labelled Resanskoy ozera by Blaeu. Mercator still follows Giacomo Gastaldo in showing a waterway connecting this lake to Ryazan and the Oka River. Mercator shows Mtsensk as a great city on this waterway, suggesting a system of canals connecting the Don with the Zusha and Upa centered on a settlement Odoium, reported as Odoium lacum in the map made by Baron Augustin von Mayerberg, leader of an embassy to Muscovy in 1661. In modern literature, the Don region was featured in the work And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, a Nobel-prize winning writer from the stanitsa of Veshenskaya. At its easternmost point, the Don comes near the Volga, the Volga-Don Canal, connecting the two rivers, is a major waterway; the water level of the Don in this area is raised by the Tsimlyansk Dam, forming the Tsimlyansk Reservoir.
For the next 130 kilometres below the Tsimlyansk Dam, the sufficient water depth in the Don River is maintained by the sequence of three dam-and-ship-lock complexes: the Nikolayevsky Ship Lock, Konstantinovsk Ship Lock, the best known of the three, the Kochetovsky Ship Lock. The Kochetovsky Lock, built in 1914–1919 and doubled in 2004–2008, is 7.5 kilometres below the fall of the Seversky Donets into the Don, 131 kilometres upstream of Rostov-on-Don, the Kochetovsky Ship Lock is located. This facility, with its dam, maintains sufficient water level both in its section of the Don and in the lowermost stretch of the Seversky Donets; this is presently the last lock on the Don. In order to improve shipping conditions in the lower reaches of the Don, the waterway authorities support the proposals for the construction of one or two more low dams with locks, in Bagayevsky District and also in Aksaysky District. Main tributaries from source to mouth: Krasivaya Mecha Bystraya Sosna Veduga Voronezh Tikhaya Sosna Bityug Black Kalitva Khopyor – 1,010 kilometres Medveditsa Ilovlya Chir Seversky Donets – 1,053 kilometres Aidar – 264 kilometres Sal Manych Aksay Temernik Don goat And Quiet Flows The Don Rostov railway drawbridge Don at GEOnet Names Server
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
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe, Southeast Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties; the battles on the Eastern Front of the Second World War constituted the largest military confrontation in history. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, immense loss of life due to combat, exposure and massacres; the Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches and the majority of pogroms, was central to the Holocaust. Of the estimated 70-85 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, the majority of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front.
The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome in the European theatre of operations in World War II serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis nations. The two principal belligerent powers were Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in military action in the Eastern Front, the United States and the United Kingdom both provided substantial material aid in the form of the Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union; the joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front. In addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War may be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front. Germany and the Soviet Union remained unsatisfied with the outcome of World War I. Soviet Russia had lost substantial territory in Eastern Europe as a result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, where the Bolsheviks in Petrograd conceded to German demands and ceded control of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and other areas, to the Central Powers.
Subsequently, when Germany in its turn surrendered to the Allies and these territories were liberated under the terms of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 at Versailles, Soviet Russia was in the midst of a civil war and the Allies did not recognize the Bolshevik government, so no Soviet Russian representation attended. Adolf Hitler had declared his intention to invade the Soviet Union on 11 August 1939 to Carl Jacob Burckhardt, League of Nations Commissioner, by saying: Everything I undertake is directed against the Russians. If the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and after their defeat turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine as happened in the last war; the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed in August 1939 was a non-aggression agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe to the pre–World War I status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Finland, Estonia and Lithuania would return to the Soviet control, while Poland and Romania would be divided. The Eastern Front was made possible by the German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement in which the Soviet Union gave Germany the resources necessary to launch military operations in Eastern Europe. On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. On 17 September, the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland, and, as a result, Poland was partitioned among Germany, the Soviet Union and Lithuania. Soon after that, the Soviet Union demanded significant territorial concessions from Finland, after Finland rejected Soviet demands, the Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939 in what became known as the Winter War – a bitter conflict that resulted in a peace treaty on 13 March 1940, with Finland maintaining its independence but losing its eastern parts in Karelia. In June 1940 the Soviet Union illegally annexed the three Baltic states; the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact ostensibly provided security to the Soviets in the occupation both of the Baltics and of the north and northeastern regions of Romania, although Hitler, in announcing the invasion of the Soviet Union, cited the Soviet annexations of Baltic and Romanian territory as having violated Germany's understanding of the Pact.
Moscow partitioned the annexed Romanian territory between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics. Adolf Hitler had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf for the necessity of Lebensraum: acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, in particular in Russia, he envisaged settling Germans there, as according to Nazi ideology the Germanic people constituted the "master race", while exterminating or deporting most of the existing inhabitants to Siberia and using the remainder as slave labour. Hitler as early as 1917 had referred to the Russians as inferior, believing that the Bolshevik Revolution had put the Jews in power over the mass of Slavs, who were, in Hitler's opinion, incapable of ruling themselves but instead being ruled by Jewish masters; the Nazi leadership, saw the war against the Soviet Union as a struggle between the ideologies of Nazism and Jewish Bolshevism, ensuring territorial expansion for the Germanic Übermensch, who according to Nazi ideology were the Aryan Herrenvolk, at the expense of