Army Group Courland
Army Group Courland was a German Army Group on the Eastern Front, created from remnants of the Army Group North, isolated in the Courland Peninsula by the advancing Soviet Army forces during the 1944 Baltic Offensive of the Second World War. The army group remained isolated until the end of World War II in Europe. All units of the Army Group were ordered to surrender by the capitulated Wehrmacht command on 8 May 1945. At the time agreed for all German armed forces to end hostilities, the Sixteenth and Eighteenth armies of Army Group Courland, commanded by General Carl Hilpert, ended hostilities at 23:00, on 8 May 1945, surrendering to Leonid Govorov, commander of the Leningrad Front. By the evening of 9 May 1945 189,000 German troops, including 42 officers in the rank of general, in the Courland Pocket had surrendered; the aggregation of troops that became named Army Group Courland was created when the Red Army reached the Baltic Sea near the Memel river on Tuesday, 10 October 1944. As a result, what was known as Army Group North was cut off in Latvia from the rest of the German Army, was to stay cut off for the remainder of the war.
200,000 German troops in 26 divisions were in what was to become known as the Courland Pocket. Army Group Courland remained in existence until the end of the war in Europe. Army Group Courland was created on 25 January 1945, when German dictator Adolf Hitler renamed Army Group North, Army Group Center, Army Group A. Hitler's name changes meant that Army Group North became Army Group Courland, Army Group Center became Army Group North and Army Group A became Army Group Center. Army Group Courland consisted of the German Sixteenth Army and the German Eighteenth Army; the two armies had been sent to Courland to protect training grounds for the remaining Nazi U-boat forces. Bypassed by the main Soviet thrusts, Army Group Courland remained intact. Towards the end of the war, the army was able to field between twenty-four to thirty-one divisions, with the exact number of divisions depending on how many of the associated or understrength divisions are counted. So, with its back to the Baltic Sea, it remained cut off from re-supply, was unable to break out or evacuate.
Army Group Courland fought six major battles in the Courland Pocket between 15 October 1944, 4 April 1945. The dates for the six battles were as follows: From 15 October 1944, to 22 October 1944 From 27 October 1944 to 25 November 1944 From 23 December 1944 to 31 December 1944 From 23 January 1945 to 3 February 1945 From 12 February 1945 to 19 February 1945 From 17 March 1945 to 4 April 1945 On 7 May 1945, German Head of State and President Karl Dönitz ordered Colonel-General Carl Hilpert, to surrender Army Group Courland. Hilpert was the army group's last commander-in-chief. Hilpert surrendered himself, his personal staff, three divisions of the XXXVIII Corps to Marshal of the Soviet Union Leonid Govorov. Hilpert sent the following message to his troops: "To all ranks! Marshal Govorod has agreed to a cease-fire beginning at 14:00 hours on 8 May. Troops to be informed immediately. White flags to be displayed. Commander expects loyal implemenation of order, on which the fate of all Courland troops depends."On 8 May, a General Rauser succeeded in obtaining better surrender terms from the Soviets.
On 9 May, the Soviet commission in Peilei started to interrogate the captive staff of Army Group Courland. The Soviets began a general round-up of all remaining German troops in the Courland Pocket. By end of the 11 May the troops of the Leningrad Front had secured the Courland peninsula, reaching the coast of the Riga Bay and the Baltic Sea. From 9 May to 12 May 140,408 men and non-commissioned officers, 5,083 officers and 28 generals in the Courland Pocket, surrendered; the equipment captured in the same period consisted of 75 aircraft. On 23 May, the Soviet round-up of the German troops in the Courland Pocket was completed. A total of about 180,000 German troops were taken into captivity. Captive German officers were turned over to the NKVD; the bulk of the captives were taken to camps in Valdai Hills. After the surrender, some elements of Army Group Courland attempted to reform itself as a Freikorps; this was an act reminiscent of similar actions taken at the end of World War I, but atypical for the end of World War II.
The formation of a Freikorps was prevented by the Soviets, who were unwilling to allow such an action by a beaten foe. In addition, the Soviets did not intend for Germans to remain settled in the Courland area after the war. A number of German, Estonian and, Latvian soldiers evaded Soviet capture. 4000 Latvian soldiers went to the forests and formed partisan organizations to continue their fight against the Soviets and to gain independence for the Soviet-occupied Latvia. General of Infantry Carl Hilpert, Commander of Army Group Courland.
Third Battle of Kharkov
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod; as the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider attacks against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943 when the Red Army launched Operation Star and Operation Gallop, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Kursk, as well as Voroshilovgrad and Izium; the Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves, though this was due to Manstein's strategy of controlled retreat towards the Dneiper. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center.
Months of continuous operations had taken a heavy toll on the Soviet forces and some divisions were reduced to 1,000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launched his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh II SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies. Manstein benefited from the massive air support of Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen's Luftflotte 4, whose 1,214 aircraft flew over 1,000 sorties per day from 20 February to 15 March to support the German Army, a level of airpower equal to that during the Case Blue strategic offensive a year earlier; the Wehrmacht flanked and defeated the Red Army's armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper on 7 March. Despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north, the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March; this led to four days of house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March.
The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk. The German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 90,000 casualties; the house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, which had suffered 4,300 men killed and wounded by the time operations ended in mid-March. At the start of 1943, the German Wehrmacht faced a crisis as Soviet forces encircled and reduced the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and expanded their Winter Campaign towards the Don River. On 2 February 1943 the Sixth Army's commanding officers surrendered, an estimated 90,000 men were captured by the Red Army. Total German losses at the Battle of Stalingrad, excluding prisoners, were between 120,000 and 150,000. Throughout 1942 German casualties totaled around 1.9 million personnel, by the start of 1943 the Wehrmacht was around 470,000 men below full strength on the Eastern Front. At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht was equipped with around 3,300 tanks.
As the forces of the Don Front were destroying the German forces in Stalingrad, the Red Army's command ordered the Soviet forces to conduct a new offensive, which encompassed the entire southern wing of the Soviet–German front from Voronezh to Rostov. On 2 February, the Red Army launched Operation Star, threatening to liberate the cities of Belgorod and Kursk. A Soviet drive, spearheaded by four tank corps organized under Lieutenant-General Markian Popov, pierced the German front by crossing the Donets River and pressing into the German rear. On 15 February, two fresh Soviet tank corps threatened the city of Zaporizhia on the Dnieper River, which controlled the last major road to Rostov and housed the headquarters of Army Group South and Luftflotte 4. Despite Hitler's orders to hold the city, Kharkov was abandoned by German forces and the city was recaptured by the Red Army on 16 February. Hitler flew to Manstein's headquarters at Zaporizhia. Manstein informed him that an immediate counterattack on Kharkov would be fruitless, but that he could attack the overextended Soviet flank with his five Panzer Corps, recapture the city later.
On 19 February Soviet armored units approached the city. In view of the worsening situation, Hitler gave Manstein operational freedom; when Hitler departed, the Soviet forces were only some 30 kilometers away from the airfield. In conjunction with Operation Star the Red Army launched Operation Gallop south of Star, pushing the Wehrmacht away from the Donets, taking Voroshilovgrad and Izium, worsening the German situation further. By this time Stavka believed it could decide the war in the southwest Russian SFSR and eastern Ukrainian SSR, expecting total victory; the surrender of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad freed six Soviet armies, under the command of Konstantin Rokossovsky, which were refitted and reinforced by the 2nd Tank Army and the 70th Army. These forces were repositioned between the junction of South. Known to the Soviet forces as the Kharkov and Donbas operations, the offensive sought to surround and destroy German forces in the Orel salient, cross the Desna River and surround and destroy German Army Group Center.
Planned to begin between 12–15 February, deployment problems forced Stavka to push the start date back to 25 February. Meanwhile, the Soviet 60th Army pushed the
Operation Little Saturn
Operation Saturn, revised as Operation Little Saturn, was a Red Army operation on the Eastern Front of World War II that led to battles in the North Caucasus and Donets Basin regions of the Soviet Union from December 1942 to February 1943. The success of Operation Uranus, launched on 19 November 1942, had trapped 250,000–300,000 troops of General Friedrich Paulus' German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army in Stalingrad. To exploit this victory, the Soviet general staff planned a winter campaign of continuous and ambitious offensive operations, codenamed "Saturn". Joseph Stalin reduced his ambitious plans to a small campaign codenamed "Operation Little Saturn"; the offensive succeeded in smashing Germany's Italian and Hungarian allies, applied pressure on the over stretched German forces in Eastern Ukraine and prevented further German advances to the relief of the entrapped forces at Stalingrad. Despite these victories, the Soviets themselves became over extended, setting up the stages for the German offensives of the Third Battle of Kharkov and the Battle of Kursk.
On 17 May 1942, German Army Groups A and B launched a counteroffensive against advancing Soviet armies around the city of Kharkov, resulting in the Second Battle of Kharkov. By 6 July, General Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had taken the city of Voronezh, threatening to collapse the Red Army's resistance. By early August, General Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist's First Panzer Army had reached the oil center of Maykop, 500 kilometres south of the city of Rostov, taken by the Fourth Panzer Army on 23 July; the rapid German advance threatened to cut the Soviet Union off from its southern territories, while threatening to cut the lend-lease supply lines from Persia. However, the offensive began to peter out, as the offensive's supply train struggled to keep up with the advance and spearhead units began to run low on fuel and manpower. Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and Fourth Romanian armies, portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army.
The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942, was developed with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus; the Red Army took advantage of the fact that German forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched around Stalingrad, using weaker Romanian armies to guard their flanks. These Axis armies were deployed in open positions on the steppe and lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. Operation Winter Storm, undertaken between 12–23 December 1942, was the German Fourth Panzer Army's attempt to relieve encircled Axis forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, which resulted in the encirclement of 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.
As the Red Army continued to build strength, in an effort 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, the Luftwaffe had begun an attempt to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge. However, as the Luftwaffe proved incapable of carrying out its mission and it became more obvious that a successful breakout could only occur if it was launched as early as possible, Manstein decided to plan and launch a dedicated relief effort. After the defeat of the Romanian Army around Stalingrad and the successful encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Stalin started a counter-offensive nicknamed "Operation Little Saturn" in order to enlarge the area controlled by the Soviet Army in eastern Ukraine until Kharkov and Rostov. Zhukov states the South-Western Front was assigned a mission in which the 1st and 3rd Guard armies and the 5th Tank Army "were to strike out in the general direction of Morozovsk and destroy the enemy grouping in that sector."
They would be supported by the 6th Army of the Voronezh Front. The first stage — an attempt to cut off the German Army Group A in the Caucasus — had to be revised when General Erich von Manstein launched Operation Winter Storm on 12 December in an attempt to relieve the trapped armies at Stalingrad. While General Rodion Malinovsky's Soviet 2nd Guards Army blocked the German advance on Stalingrad, the modified plan Operation Little Saturn was launched on 16 December; this operation consisted of a pincer movement. General Fyodor Isidorovich Kuznetsov's 1st Guards Army and General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Italian 8th Army on the Don and advancing to Millerovo; the Italians resisted the Soviet attack for nearly two weeks, although outnumbered 9 to 1 in some sectors, but with huge losses. Manstein sent the 6th Panzer Division to the Italians' aid: of the 130,000 encircled troops, only 45,000 survived after bloody fighting to join the Panzers at Chertkovo on 17 January.
To the south the advance of General Gerasimenko's 28th Army threatened to encircle the 1st Panzer Army and General Trufanov's 51st Army attacked the relief column directly. In a dar
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
Battle of Uman
The Battle of Uman was the German offensive operation against the 6th and 12th Soviet Armies — under the command of Lieutenant General I. N. Muzychenko and Major General P. G. Ponedelin, respectively; the battle occurred during the Kiev defensive operation between the elements of the Red Army's Southwestern Front, retreating from the Lwow salient, German Army Group South commanded by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, as part of Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front during World War II. The Soviet forces were under overall command of the Southwestern Direction, commanded by Marshal Semyon Budyonny, which included the Southwestern Front commanded by Colonel General Mikhail Kirponos and Southern Front commanded by General Ivan Tyulenev; the battle finished by the encirclement and annihilation of 6th and 12th armies to the southeast of the Uman city. In the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Army Group South had advanced East, defeating several Soviet mechanized corps at the great tank Battle of Brody 23–30 June.
The armies of the Southwestern Front were ordered to retreat to the line of fortifications along the old Soviet-Polish border of 1939. III and XXXXVIII Motorized corps of the 1st Panzer Group wedged in between the 5th and 6th Soviet armies. On July 5, XXXXVIII Motorized Corps cracked a weak defense on the Stalin Line and began to move embracing the right flank of the 6th Army. A new Soviet counter-attack was attempted on July 9 in the direction of Berdychiv to prevent further advance of the 1st Panzer Group to the east; the fighting continued until July 16, the 11th Panzer Division lost 2,000 men, but Soviet troops failed and on July 16 the German offensive continued. Further to the north, the mobile units of the III Motorized Corps overcame the Stalin Line and reached the approaches to Kiev; the command of Army Group South intended to capture Kiev while Hitler and the High Command insisted on a strike in the southern direction, which guaranteed the encirclement of the Soviet troops in conjunction with the 11th Army.
The compromise solution proposed the capture of Belaya Tserkov and after that a strike in the south-west direction towards the 11th Army. Such a decision left the possibility, instead of a strike to the southwest, to continue the offensive from Kiev farther east, beyond the Dnieper, but Kiev was secured by a separate fortified area, the rear communications of the III Motorized Corps were under attack from the 5th Army. So, in the opening days of Battle of Uman the task of encircling the 6th and 12th armies from the north and the east was to be done by divisions of the XXXXVIII Motorized Corps only. To help them, the third unit of the 1st Panzer Group, the XIV Motorized Corps, was transferred from the south and committed to action between the III and XXXXVIII Motorized corps in the direction to the Belaya Tserkov. Infantry units of the German 6th Field Army on the north hastened to replace the advanced tank units, the 17th Field Army on the west continued to pursue retreating forces of the Soviet 6th and 12th armies.
The advance of the 11th Field Army from the Soviet-Romanian border was suspended by Soviet counterblows, its attack from the south towards Vinnytsia was postponed. Most of the Soviet forces were depleted, having withdrawn under heavy assaults from the Luftwaffe from the Polish border, the mechanised units were reduced to a single "Corps" after the Brody counter-offensive, its mechanised infantry now fighting as ordinary rifle troops; the Axis forces were divided into those of 1st Panzer Group that had suffered significant losses in matériel, but retained combat effectiveness, the large infantry formations of the German and Romanian armies that attempted to advance from the West to meet the armored troops north of Crimea, the initial strategic objective of Army Group South. Since July 15, the XXXXVIII Motorized Corps of Wehrmacht repulsed the counter-attacks of the Soviet "Berdichev Group" and resumed the offensive; the 16th Panzer Division seized the city of Kazatin. On the left, the 11th Panzer division was in the gap between Soviet armies, so by July 16 it made a deep breakthrough to the South-East.
By July 18, the division advanced another 50 km, crossed the Ros' River and captured the settlement of Stavishche. The 16th Panzer Division, forced to repel counterattacks of the Soviet 6th Army, advanced slower, but by July 17 its forward detachment seized the Ros' station, where was an important Soviet base of rear services support. July 18, units of the 6th army managed to recapture the station. Further to the North, the XIV Motorized Corps advanced to Belaya Tserkov, but met counterattacks by the 26th Army; this army had no time to prepare the offensive, its divisions didn't have time to concentrate. They couldn't beat out the 9th Panzer Division from Belaya Tserkov, they for a short time captured Fastov. The advance of the 26th Army soon stopped, but its attacks contained the mobile units of the 1st Panzer Group. A similar situation was with the Panzer divisions of the III Motorized Corps. Halder, the chief of OKH, irritably wrote on July 18 that "the operation of the Army Group «South» is losing its shape", that "enveloping flank of the 1st Panzer Group is still hang about in the area of Berdichev and Belaya Tserkov".
At the same time the 17th Field Army from the West was approaching too and Halder feared that the future "cauldron" will not trap significant enemy forces. Meanwhile, the 17th Field Army tried to implement a shortcut version of the original plan, according to which the Soviet troops were to be surrounded to the
Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan known as Hovhannes Khachaturi Baghramyan, was a Soviet military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union of Armenian origin. During World War II, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front, he was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high-ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war. Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany, he was given his first command of a unit in 1942, in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commander of the 1st Baltic Front. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics, he did not join the Communist Party after the consolidation of the October Revolution, becoming a member only in 1941, a move atypical for a Soviet military officer.
After the war, he served as a deputy of the Supreme Soviets of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendee of the Party Congresses. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, continues to hold such esteemed status among Armenians. Ivan Bagramyan was born to Armenian parents in the village of Çardaqlı, near Yelizavetpol a part of the Russian Empire. Çardaqlı was one of the largest Armenian settlements in the South Caucasus populated entirely by migrants from the village of Maghavuz in Nagorno Karabakh who continued keeping a connection with their ancestral land. Hamazasp Babadzhanian, a fellow Armenian, to become the chief marshal of the Soviet Armor corps, was born in the same village. While Bagramyan's father, went to work all day at the railway station in Yelizavetpol, his mother, stayed at home to take care of her seven children.
Because his parents could not afford to send him to the local gymnasium, they decided to enroll him at a opened two-year school in Yelizavetpol. Graduating in 1912, whom everyone affectionately called Vanya, followed his father and his brothers in a path in rail work, attending the three-year railway technical institute located in Tiflis, he graduated with honors and was slated to become a railway engineer within a few years when events in the First World War changed his life. Bagramyan was well aware of the military situation at the Caucasus front during the first months of the world war. In the winter of 1914–15, the Imperial Russian Army was able to withstand and repel the Ottoman Empire's offensive at Sarikamish, to take the fight to its territory. Bagramyan began reading harrowing reports in the Russian press of what was taking place against his fellow kinsmen across the border: the Ottomans had embarked on a campaign to commit genocide upon their Armenian subjects, he attempted to join the military effort but because he was only seventeen and a railway mechanic, he was not liable to be drafted.
This did not dissuade him from trying, as he remarked, "My place was at the front."His opportunity came on 16 September 1915, when he was accepted by the Russian Army as a volunteer. He was sent to Akhaltsikhe for basic training. With his training complete in December, he joined the 2nd Caucasus Frontier Regiment of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, sent to dislodge the Ottoman Turks in Persia. Bagramyan participated in several battles in Asadabad and Kermanshah, the Russian victories here sending Ottoman forces reeling toward Anatolia. Learning about the exploits of the men in the outfit, the chief of staff of the regiment, General Pavel Melik-Shahnazaryan, advised Bagramyan to return to Tiflis to enroll in the Praporshchik Military Academy, but in order to attend the school, Bagramyan needed to satisfy the academy's requirement of having completed school at a gymnasium. This did not deter him and, after preparing for the courses in Armavir, he passed his exams and began attending the academy on February 13, 1917.
He graduated in June 1917 and was assigned to the 3rd Armenian Infantry Regiment, stationed near Lake Urmia. But with the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government in the midst of the October Revolution of 1917, his unit was demobilized. However, with the creation of the newly established First Republic of Armenia in 1918, Bagramyan enlisted in the 3rd Armenian Regiment of that country's armed forces. From 1 April 1918, that is, after the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR, he was in the 1st Armenian Cavalry Regiment, which put a halt to the Ottoman 3rd Army, bent on conquering the remains of the republic, in Karaurgan and Kars, he most notably took part in the May 1918 Battle of Sardarapat, where the Armenian military scored a crucial victory against Turkish forces. He remained in the regiment until May 1920. Three years after the toppling of the Provisional Government by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the Red Army invaded the southern Caucasus republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In May 1920, upset with the country's social and political conditions, participated in a failed rebellion against the Dashnak-led government of Armenia. He was jailed a
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military blockade undertaken from the south by the Army Group North of Nazi Germany against the Soviet city of Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until they had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city; the siege started on 8 September 1941. Although the Soviet forces managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, the siege was not lifted until 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began, it was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, the costliest in casualties suffered. Some historians classify it as genocide. Leningrad's capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North; the strategy was motivated by Leningrad's political status as the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.
By 1939, the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output. It has been reported that Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the city's Hotel Astoria. Although various theories have been put forward about Germany's plans for Leningrad, including renaming the city Adolfsburg and making it the capital of the new Ingermanland province of the Reich in Generalplan Ost, it is clear Hitler's intention was to utterly destroy the city and its population. According to a directive sent to Army Group North on 29 September, "After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban centre. Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our existence, we can have no interest in maintaining a part of this large urban population."Hitler's ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns.
Army Group North under Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Von Leeb's plan called for capturing the city on the move, but due to Hitler's recall of 4th Panzer Group, von Leeb had to lay the city under siege indefinitely after reaching the shores of Lake Ladoga, while trying to complete the encirclement and reaching the Finnish Army under Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim waiting at the Svir River, east of Leningrad. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south. Both German and Finnish forces had the goal of encircling Leningrad and maintaining the blockade perimeter, thus cutting off all communication with the city and preventing the defenders from receiving any supplies – although Finnish participation in the blockade consisted of recapture of lands lost in the Winter War. Thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was defensive; the Germans planned on lack of food being their chief weapon against the citizens.
On Friday, 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised "First response groups" of civilians. In the next days, Leningrad's civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the city's perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the fortified line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk and through the Neva River. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Pulkovo and Koltushy. In the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrad's northern suburbs since the 1930s, was now returned to service. A total of 306 km of timber barricades, 635 km of wire entanglements, 700 km of anti-tank ditches, 5,000 earth-and-timber emplacements and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements and 25,000 km of open trenches were constructed or excavated by civilians.
The guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad. The 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August; the Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officer's corpse. After the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army – despite some 350,000 men lagging behind – forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line; this had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, with the eventual aim of isolating Leningrad from all directions. The Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga.
Army Group North 18th Army (v