Army Group North
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation, commanding a grouping of field armies during World War II. The German Army Group was subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres, the German army high command, coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics, including the Army Group North Rear Area; the Army Group North was created on the 2 September 1939 by reorganization of the 2nd Army Headquarters. Commander in Chief as of 27 August 1939 was Field Marshal Fedor von Bock; the first employment of Army Group North was in the invasion of Poland of 1939, where in September it controlled: 3rd Army 4th Army a reserve of four divisions 10th Panzer Division 73rd Infantry Division 206th Infantry Division 208th Infantry Division. The Army Group was commanded by Fedor von Bock for the operation. After the end of the campaign, it was transferred to the Western Theatre and on the 10 October 1939 was renamed as the Army Group B, consisted of: 6th Army 4th Army In preparation for Operation Barbarossa, Army Group North was reformed from Army Group C on 22 June 1941.
Army Group North staged in East Prussia. Its strategic goal was Leningrad, with operational objectives being the territories of the Baltic republics and securing the northern flank of Army Group Centre in Northern Russia between Western Dvina River and Daugavpils-Kholm Army Group boundary. On commencement of the Wehrmacht's Baltic offensive operation the army group deployed into Lithuania and northern Belorussia, it served in Baltic territories and north Russia until 1944. Commander in Chief 22 June 1941: Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, its subordinate armies were deployed with the following immediate objectives: 18th Army - from Koenigsberg to Ventspils - Jelgava 4th Panzer Group - Pskov 16th Army - Kaunas, Daugavpils Army Group troops Army-Group signals regiment 537 Army-Group signals regiment 639 All operational objectives such as Tallinn were achieved despite stubborn Red Army resistance and several unsuccessful counter-offensives such as the Battle of Raseiniai, the army group approached Leningrad, commencing the Siege of Leningrad.
However, while the Baltic states were overrun, the Siege of Leningrad continued until 1944, when it was lifted as a result of the Red Army Leningrad-Novgorod strategic offensive operation. In September 1941, the Spanish Blue Division was assigned to Army Group North. Composition: October 1941 16th Army 18th ArmyNevsky PyatachokOperation Nordlicht Commander in Chief 17 January 1942: GFM Georg von Küchler Composition: September 1942 11th Army 16th Army 18th ArmyDecember 1942 16th Army 18th ArmyDemyansk PocketKholm Pocket Soviet Toropets-Kholm OperationBattle of Velikiye LukiBattle of Krasny Bor Commander in Chief 9 January 1944: Field marshal Walter Model Commander in Chief 31 March 1944: Generaloberst Georg Lindemann Commander in Chief 4 July 1944: Generaloberst Johannes Frießner Commander in Chief 23 July 1944: GFM Ferdinand Schörner March 1944 Army detachment "Narwa" 16th Army 18th ArmyBattle of Narva, consisting of: Battle for Narva Bridgehead and Battle of Tannenberg LineCombat in South Estonia, 1944 Soviet Baltic OffensiveBattle of PorkuniBattle of Vilnius Battle of Memel After becoming trapped in the Courland Cauldron after 25 January 1945, the Army Group was renamed Army Group Courland.
On the same day, in East Prussia, a new Army Group North was created by renaming Army Group Center. On the 2 April 1945, the army group was dissolved, the staff formed the 12th Army headquarters. Army Group North, was driven into an smaller pocket around Königsberg in East Prussia. On April 9, 1945 Königsberg fell to the Red Army, although remnants of Army Group units continued to resist on the Heiligenbeil & Danzig beachheads until the end of the war in Europe. October 1944 16th Army Armee-Abteilung Grasser 18th ArmyNovember 1944 16th Army Armee-Abteilung Kleffel 18 ArmeeDecember 1944 16th Army 18th ArmySoviet East Prussian OffensiveBattle of KönigsbergHeiligenbeil pocket Commander in Chief 27 January 1945: Generaloberst Dr. Lothar Rendulic Commander in Chief 12 March 1945: Walter Weiss Composition: February 1945 Armee-Abteilung Samland 4th ArmySoviet East Pomeranian OffensiveBattle of KolbergCourland Pocket On the 25 January 1945 Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group North became Army Group Courland, more appropriate as it had been isolated from Army Group Centre and was trapped in Courland, Latvia.
German order of battle for Operation Fall Weiss Police Regiment North Frieser, Karl-Heinz. Die Ostfront 1943/44 – Der Krieg im Osten und an den Nebenfronten. Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg. VIII. München: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. ISBN 978-3-421-06235-2
Kursk is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast, located at the confluence of the Kur and Seym rivers. The area around Kursk was the site of a turning point in the Soviet–German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history. Population: 415,159 . Archaeology indicates that the site of Kursk was settled in the 5th or 4th century BCE; the settlement was fortified and included Slavs at least as early as the 8th century CE. The first written record of Kursk is dated 1032, it was mentioned as one of Severian towns by Prince Igor in The Tale of Igor's Campaign: "Saddle, your swift steeds. As to mine, they are ready; the city was rebuilt no than 1283. It was ruled by Grand Duchy of Lithuania between 1360 and 1508. Kursk joined the centralized Russian state in 1508, it was an important center of the corn trade with Ukraine and hosted an important fair, which took place annually under the walls of the monastery of Our Lady of Kursk. However, a century the city re-emerged in a new place.
In 1596 a new fortress was built, in 1616. At the beginning of the 17th century Kursk was attacked by Polish-Lithuania, the Crimean Tatars, the Nogai horde, but Kursk fortress was never taken. Residents of Oryol and other southern Russian cities were resettled in Kursk; the city developed due to its advantageous geographical position on the shortest route from Moscow to the Crimea and from Kiev to the Crimea. It was raided by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Crimean Khanate until the late 17th century and was ruled by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth between 1611 and 1618, it was successively part of the Kiev Governorate, Belgorod Governorate, Kursk Viceroyalty. Town status was granted to Kursk in 1779, it became the administrative center of Kursk Governorate in 1797. After a fire in 1781 devastated Kursk, a new plan for the city was developed in which a market center would be at the heart of the city. In 1768 the Voskirsensko Ilinskaya Church was built. In 1778 both the Sergiev Cathedral Kazan Cathedral Baroque and Trinity Sergius Cathedral were completed.
The city opened its first school for the nobility in 1783. A men's gymnasium was opened in 1808 and a seminary in 1817. A women's gymnasium was opened in 1870. At the beginning of the 20th century Kursk played a dominant role in the food industry and in other industries as well. Organized several engineering enterprises. Working conditions in the factories of Kursk were harsh and resulted in strikes. Kursk workers participated in the general political strike during the 1905 Russian Revolution. On November 26 1917 the Soviets took power. Kornilovites came to Kursk in September 20, 1919. On September 20, 1919, troops under the command of General Denikin entered the city. On November 19, 1919, the Red Army took Kursk; the Soviet government valued Kursk for rich deposits of iron ore and developed it into one of the major railroad hubs in the Russian southwest. In 1932 in the Kursk was included Yamskaya Sloboda. In 1935 a tram system began operating in the city. In 193?, the territory of the city of Kursk was divided into Leninsky District, Dzerzhinsky District and Kirov District.
In 1937 Stalinsky District was formed in the southern outskirts of the city. During World War II, Kursk was occupied by Germany between November 4, 1941 and February 8, 1943. In July 1943, the Germans launched Operation Citadel in an attempt to recapture Kursk. During the resulting Battle of Kursk, the village of Prokhorovka near Kursk became the center of a major armoured engagement – the Battle of Prokhorovka – between Soviet and German forces, considered to have been one of the largest tank battles in history. Operation Citadel was the last major German offensive against the Soviet Union. Rebuilding efforts in the city began in February 1944; the cultural life recovered as well: on 19 February the cinema reopened and on February 27 the drama theatre. In 1953 the tram system began operating. By 1950 the urban economy had been restored. On August 17, 1956, Stalinsky District was renamed Promishlenost District, Dzerzhinsky District was abolished and its territory divided between Promishlenost and Leninsky Districts.
In 2009, for the first time in 90 years at the site of Theotokos of Kursk, the most revered icon in the Russian Orthodox Church, received the name Hodigitria Russian diaspora. Until 2010, Kursk had the status of historica
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society. The award was established on April 1934, by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union; the first recipients of the title received only the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award, along with a certificate describing the heroic deed from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Because the Order of Lenin could be awarded for deeds not qualifying for the title of hero, to distinguish heroes from other Order of Lenin holders, the Gold Star medal was introduced on August 1, 1939. Earlier heroes were retroactively eligible for these items. A hero could be awarded the title again for a subsequent heroic feat with an additional Gold Star medal and certificate. An additional Order of Lenin was not given until 1973; the practice of awarding the title multiple times was abolished by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1988 during perestroika.
Forty-four foreign citizens were awarded the title. The title was given posthumously, though without the actual Gold Star medal given; the title could be revoked only by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. As the Highest Honor of the Soviet Union. Individuals who received the award were entitled to special privileges; these include: A pension with survivor benefits in the event of the death of the title holder. First priority on the housing list with 50% rent reduction, tax exempt and an additional 45 square metres in living space. Annual round-trip first class airline ticket Free bus transportation Free annual visit to sanitarium or rest home Medical benefits Entertainment benefits In total, during the existence of the USSR, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 12,777 people, including twice – 154, three times – 3 and four – 2. Ninety-five women were awarded the title. Among the Heroes of the Soviet Union, 44 people are citizens of foreign states; the great majority of them received it during World War II.
Eighty-five people were awarded the title for actions related to the Soviet-Afghan War, which lasted from 1979 until 1989. The first recipients of the award were the pilots Anatoly Liapidevsky, Sigizmund Levanevsky, Vasily Molokov, Mavriky Slepnyov, Nikolai Kamanin, Ivan Doronin, Mikhail Vodopianov, who participated in the successful aerial search and rescue of the crew of the steamship Cheliuskin, which sank in Arctic waters, crushed by ice fields, on February 13, 1934. Valentina Grizodubova, a female pilot, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union for her international women's record for a straight-line distance flight. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Soviet partisan, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II, posthumously. In addition, 101 people received the award twice. A second Hero title, either Hero of the Soviet Union or Hero of Socialist Labour entitled the recipient to have a bronze bust of his or her likeness with a commemorative inscription erected in his or her hometown.
Two famous Soviet fighter pilots, Aleksandr Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub were three times Heroes of the Soviet Union. A third award entitled the recipient to have his/her bronze bust erected on a columnar pedestal in Moscow, near the Palace of the Soviets, but the Palace was never built. After his release from serving a 20-year sentence in a Mexican prison for the assassination of Leon Trotsky, Ramon Mercader moved to the Soviet Union in 1961 and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal from KGB head Alexander Shelepin; the only individuals to receive the title four times were Leonid Brezhnev. The original statute of the Hero of the Soviet Union, did not provide for a fourth title. Both Zhukov and Brezhnev received their fourth titles under controversial circumstances contrary to the statute, which remained unchanged until the award was abolished in 1991. Zhukov was awarded a fourth time "for his large accomplishments" on the occasion of his 60th birthday on December 1, 1956. There is some speculation that Zhukov's fourth Hero medal was for his participation in the arrest of Beria in 1953, but this was not entered in the records.
Brezhnev's four awards further eroded the prestige of the award because they were all birthday gifts, on the occasions of his 60th, 70th, 72nd and 75th birthdays. Such practices halted in 1988 due to a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which formally ended it. By the 1970s, the award had been somewhat devalued. Important political and military persons had been awarded it on the occasions of their anniversaries rather than for any immediate heroic activity. All Soviet cosmonauts, starting from Yuri Gagarin, as well as foreign citizens who participated in the Soviet space program as cosmonauts, received Hero award for each flight. Apart from individuals, the title was awarded to twelve cities as well as the fortress of Brest for collective heroism during the War; the last recipient of the title "Hero of the Soviet Union" was a Soviet diver, Captain of the 3rd rank Leonid Mikhailovich Solodkov on December 24, 1991 for his leadership and participation in a series of unprecedented extreme depth diving experiments.
Following the collapse of the
East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast; the bulk of the ancestral lands of the Baltic Old Prussians were enclosed within East Prussia. During the 13th century, the native Prussians were conquered by the crusading Teutonic Knights. After the conquest the indigenous Balts were converted to Christianity; because of Germanization and colonisation over the following centuries, Germans became the dominant ethnic group, while Masurians and Lithuanians formed minorities. From the 13th century, East Prussia was part of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. After the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 it became a fief of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1525, with the Prussian Homage, the province became the Duchy of Prussia; the Old Prussian language had become extinct by early 18th century. Because the duchy was outside of the core Holy Roman Empire, the prince-electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim themselves King beginning in 1701.
After the annexation of most of western Royal Prussia in the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, eastern Prussia was connected by land with the rest of the Prussian state and was reorganized as a province the following year. Between 1829 and 1878, the Province of East Prussia was joined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia; the Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. However, the Treaty of Versailles following World War I granted West Prussia to Poland and made East Prussia an exclave of Weimar Germany, while the Memel Territory was detached and annexed by Lithuania in 1923. Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Poland; the capital city Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was evacuated during the war or expelled shortly afterwards in the expulsion of Germans after World War II.
An estimated 300,000 died either in war time bombing raids, in the battles to defend the province, or through mistreatment by the Red Army. At the instigation of Duke Konrad I of Masovia, the Teutonic Knights took possession of Prussia in the 13th century and created a monastic state to administer the conquered Old Prussians. Local Old-Prussian and Polish toponyms were Germanised; the Knights' expansionist policies, including occupation of Polish Pomerania with Gdańsk/Danzig and western Lithuania, brought them into conflict with the Kingdom of Poland and embroiled them in several wars, culminating in the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, whereby the united armies of Poland and Lithuania, defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. Its defeat was formalised in the Second Treaty of Thorn in 1466 ending the Thirteen Years' War, leaving the former Polish region Pomerania/Pomerelia under Polish control. Together with Warmia it formed the province of Royal Prussia. Eastern Prussia as a fief of Poland.
1466 and 1525 arrangements by kings of Poland were not verified by the Holy Roman Empire as well as the previous gains of the Teutonic Knights were not verified. The Teutonic Order lost eastern Prussia when Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach converted to Lutheranism and secularized the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order in 1525. Albert established himself as the first duke of the Duchy of Prussia and a vassal of the Polish crown by the Prussian Homage. Walter von Cronberg, the next Grand Master, was enfeoffed with the title to Prussia after the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, but the Order never regained possession of the territory. In 1569 the Hohenzollern prince-electors of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became co-regents with Albert's son, the feeble-minded Albert Frederick; the Administrator of Prussia, the grandmaster of the Teutonic Order Maximilian III, son of emperor Maximilian II died in 1618. When Maximilian died, Albert's line died out, the Duchy of Prussia passed to the Electors of Brandenburg, forming Brandenburg-Prussia.
Taking advantage of the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655, instead of fulfilling his vassal's duties towards the Polish Kingdom, by joining forces with the Swedes and subsequent treaties of Wehlau and Oliva, Elector and Duke Frederick William succeeded in revoking the king of Poland's sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia in 1660. The absolutist elector subdued the noble estates of Prussia. Although Brandenburg was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Prussian lands were not within the Holy Roman Empire and were with the administration by the Teutonic Order grandmasters under jurisdiction of the Emperor. In return for supporting Emperor Leopold I in the War of the Spanish Succession, Elector Frederick III was allowed to crown himself "King in Prussia" in 1701; the new kingdom ruled by the Hohenzollern dynasty became known as the Kingdom of Prussia. The designation "Kingdom of Prussia" was applied to the
Baltic Military District
The Baltic Military District was a military district of the Soviet armed forces in the occupied Baltic states, formed before the German invasion during the World War II. After end of the war the Kaliningrad Oblast was added to the District's control in 1946, the territory of Estonia was transferred back to the Baltic Military District from the Leningrad Military District in 1956; the Baltic Military District was disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and reorganised into the North Western Group of Forces, which ended its existence after withdrawal of all Russian troops from Estonia and Lithuania on 1 September 1994. The Baltic Military District was first created by order of the USSR People's Commissar of Defence on 11 July 1940, under the command of Colonel General Alexander Loktionov, its headquarters was formed from the headquarters of the disbanded Kalinin Military District in Riga on 13 August. This was after the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States but before they were forcibly absorbed into the Soviet Union.
It controlled troops on the territory of the Latvian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics as well as the western part of Kalinin Oblast. On 17 August 1940 it became the Baltic Special Military District, changing its boundaries to control troops on the territory of Estonian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics; the western part of Kalinin Oblast was transferred to control of the Moscow Military District. The district was created in order to strengthen the defense of the northwestern borders of the Soviet Union and to protect the approaches to Moscow and Leningrad from German-controlled East Prussia; the district troops cooperated with the Baltic Fleet. In August, the district included the 8th and 11th Armies, soon augmented in September by the transformation of the Estonian and Lithuanian armies into the Red Army's 22nd, 24th Territorial, 29th Territorial Rifle Corps respectively; however they were notoriously unreliable and defected in large numbers to the Germans after June 1941. In 1940 and 1941 the district formed new units, including two mechanized corps, as well as local and republic military commissariats.
Loktionov was replaced by Lieutenant General Fyodor Kuznetsov in December 1940. In May 1941, the headquarters of the 27th Army was formed by the district. At the same time, the district headquarters developed a plan for responding to a German invasion, ordered that troops be brought to combat readiness on 18 June. However, by 22 June, when Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the district's newly formed units were not manned; when the war broke out, it included six rifle corps in the 8th, 11th, 27th Armies, the 5th Airborne Corps, the 3rd and 12th Mechanized Corps, six fortified regions. According to the district's plan, the 8th, 11th, 27th Armies were to cooperate with the Baltic Fleet in defending the coast from Haapsalu to Palanga, focusing on the defense of the 300-kilometer border with East Prussia. On 22 June 1941 the District consisted of the: 8th Army 11th Army 27th Army 5th Airborne Corps and other smaller formations and units.3rd Mechanised Corps was located within the district at Vilnius.
On 22 June, after the outbreak of the war, the district headquarters was used to form the headquarters of the Northwestern Front. Parts of the former district headquarters remained in Riga, led by the deputy district commander, evacuating to Valga on 1 July and to Novgorod, where they were disbanded; the Baltic Military District was formed for a second time in accordance with a directive of the General Staff of the Red Army on 30 October 1943, although its assigned territory was at that time still under German occupation. Its headquarters was formed in Vyshny Volochyok from that of the 58th Army, under the command of Major General Nikolay Biyazi; the district was disbanded on 23 March 1944, was used to form the headquarters of the Odessa Military District. Postwar, the district was formed for a third time on 9 July 1945 at Riga on the basis of Samland Group of Forces formed from the former 1st Baltic Front, under the command of Army General Ivan Bagramyan, who would lead it until 1954, it included only the Latvian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics.
Following the disbandment on 27 February 1946 of the Special Military District, administering Kaliningrad Oblast, the oblast was transferred to district control on 1 March. The Special Military District headquarters was reorganized into the 11th Guards Army headquarters. In January 1956 the territory of the Estonian SSR was transferred from the Leningrad Military District. Circa 1944 a headquarters for Internal Troops in the area was created, which became HQ Internal Troops NKVD-MVD-MGB Baltic MD; this headquarters supervised several Internal Troops divisions, including the 14th Railway Facilities Protection Division NKVD from 1944 to 1951. Other divisions deployed included the 4th, 5th, 63rd Rifle Divisions NKVD. On 30 April 1948 10th Guards Army became 4th Guards Rifle Corps; the main combat formation within the District was the 11th Guards Army in the Kaliningrad Oblast, following the disbandment of 10th Guards Army. In the 1950s it comprised the 1st TD and all the remaining Guards formations - 2nd Rifle Corps, 16th Koenigsberg Red Banner Rifle Corps and 36th Nemanskiy Red Banner Rifle Corps.
In 1955 the district's forces comprised the 11th Guards Army, the 2nd Guards Rifle Corps, the 4th Guards Rifle Corps, the 1st Guards Rifle Division, the 5th, the 16th
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge