Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct strategic German Army Groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 25 January 1945, after it was encircled in the Königsberg pocket, Army Group Centre was renamed Army Group North, Army Group A became Army Group Centre; the latter formation retained its name until the end of the war in Europe. The commander in chief on the formation of the Army Group Centre was Fedor von Bock. Army Group HQ troops537th Signals Regiment 537th Signals Regiment Panzer Group 2 XXIV Panzer Corps 1st Cav. Div. 3rd Pz, 4th Pz. 10th Mot. Div. 267th IDXLVI Panzer Corps SS "Das Reich" Div. 10th Pz. Inf. Reg. "Gross Deutschland"XLVII Panzer Corps 17th Pz, 18th Pz, 29th Mot. Div. 167th IDXII Army Corps 31st ID, 34th ID, 45th ID 255th ID Panzer Group 3 V Army Corps 5th ID, 35th IDVI Army Corps 6th ID, 26th IDXXXIX Panzer Corps 7th Pz, 20th Pz, 14th Mot.
Div. 20th Mot. Div. LVII Panzer Corps 12th Pz, 18th Pz, 19th Pz4th Army VII Army Corps 7th ID, 23rd ID, 258th ID, 268th ID, 221st Sec. Div. IX Army Corps 137th ID, 263rd ID, 292nd IDXIII Army Corps 17th ID, 78th IDXLIII Army Corps 131st ID, 134th ID, 252nd ID 286th ID 9th Army VIII Army Corps 8th ID, 28th ID, 161st IDXX Army Corps 162nd ID, 256th IDXLII Army Corps 87th ID, 102nd ID, 129th ID 403rd Sec. Div. On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany and its Axis allies launched their surprise offensive into the Soviet Union, their armies, totaling over three million men, were to advance in three geographical directions. Army Group Centre's initial strategic goal was to defeat the Soviet armies in Belarus and occupy Smolensk. To accomplish this, the army group planned for a rapid advance using Blitzkrieg operational methods for which purpose it commanded two panzer groups rather than one. A quick and decisive victory over the Soviet Union was expected by mid-November; the Army Group's other operational missions were to support the army groups on its northern and southern flanks, the army group boundary for the being the Pripyat River.
July 1941 order of battle 3rd Panzer Group, 9th Army, 4th Army, 2nd Panzer Group, z. Vfg. 2nd ArmyAugust 1941 order of battle 3rd Panzer Group, 9th Army, 2nd Army, Army Group Guderian September 1941 order of battle 3rd Panzer Group, 9th Army, 4th Army, 2nd Panzer Group, 2nd ArmyBitter fighting in the Battle of Smolensk as well as the Lötzen decision delayed the German advance for two months. The advance of Army Group Centre was further delayed as Hitler ordered a postponement of the offensive against Moscow in order to conquer Ukraine first. October 1941 detailed order of battle2nd Army LIII Army Corps 56th ID, 31st ID, 167th IDLXIII Army Corps 52nd ID, 131st IDXIII Army Corps 260th ID, 17th ID Reserve: 112th ID2nd Panzer Army XXXIV Army Corps 45th ID, 134th IDXXXV Army Corps 95th ID, 296th ID, 262nd ID, 293rd IDXLVIII Panzer Corps 9th Pz, 16th Mot. Div. 25th Mot. Div. XXIV Panzer Corps 3rd Pz, 4th Pz, 10th Mot. Div. XLVII Panzer Corps 17th Pz, 18th Pz, 29th Mot. Div.4th Army VII Army Corps 197th ID, 7th ID, 23rd ID, 267th IDXX Army Corps 268th ID, 15th, 78th IDIX Army Corps 137th ID, 263rd ID, 183rd ID, 292nd IDPanzer Group 4, Subordinated to 4th ArmyXII Army Corps 34th ID, 98th IDXL Army Corps 10th Pz, 2nd Pz, 258th IDXLVI Panzer Corps 5th Bz, 11th Pz, 252nd ID LVII Panzer Corps 20th Pz, SS "Das Reich" Mot.
Div. 3rd Mot. Div. 9th Army XXVII Army Corps 255th ID, 162nd ID, 86th IDV Army Corps 5th ID, 35th ID, 106th ID, 129th IDVIII Army Corps 8th ID, 28th ID, 87th IDXXIII Army Corps 251st ID, 102nd ID, 256th ID, 206th ID 161st ID Panzer Group 3, Subordinated to 9th ArmyLVI Panzer Corps 6th Pz, 7th Pz, 14th Mot. Div. XLI Panzer Corps 1st Pz, 36th Mot. Div. VI Army Corps 110th ID, 26th ID, 6th IDNovember 1941 order of battle 2nd Panzer Army, 3rd Panzer Group, 2nd Army, 4th Army, 9th ArmyThe commander in chief as of 19 December 1941 was Günther von Kluge. 1942 opened for Army Group Centre with continuing attacks from Soviet forces around Rzhev. The German Ninth Army was able to repel these attacks and stabilise its front, despite continuing large-scale partisan activity in its rear areas. Meanwhile, the German strategic focus on the Eastern Front shifted to southwestern Russia, with the launching of Operation Blue in June; this operation, aimed at the oilfields in the southwestern Caucasus, involved Army Group South alone, with the other German army groups giving up troops and equipment for the offensive.
Despite the focus on the south, Army Group Centre continued to see fierce fighting throughout the year. While the Soviet attacks in early 1942 had not driven the Germans back, they had resulted in several Red Army units being trapped behind German lines. Eliminating the pockets took until July, the same month in which the Soviets made another attempt to break through the army group's front; the largest Soviet operation in the army group's sector that year, Operation Mars, took place in November. It was launched concurrently with Opera
Baltic Sea campaigns (1939–45)
The Baltic Sea Campaigns were conducted by Axis and Allied naval forces in the Baltic Sea, its coastal regions, the Gulf of Finland during World War II. After early fighting between Polish and German forces, the main combatants were Germany and Finland, opposed by the Soviet Union. Sweden's navy and merchant fleet played important roles, the British Royal Navy planned Operation Catherine for the control of the Baltic Sea and its exit choke point into the North Sea. While operations included surface and sub-surface combat, aerial combat, amphibious landings, support of large-scale ground fighting, the most significant feature of Baltic Sea operations was the scale and size of mine warfare in the Gulf of Finland; the warring parties laid over 60,000 naval mines and anti-sweep obstacles, making the shallow Gulf of Finland one of the most densely mined waters in the world. The Finnish Navy was a small professional force. Naval strength in 1941 consisted of: Two coastal defence ships Five submarines Four sloops Three minelayers 12 minesweepers Seven motor torpedo boatsThe Finnish Navy used several other vessels during the wars: Four sloops — used as escorts and minesweepers Six cutters — smaller vessels used as escorts and minesweepers 17 VMV-class patrol boats — used as small torpedo boats, gun boats, sub hunters and in other roles.
The German Reichsmarine—the Kriegsmarine's pre-war name—suffered from the limitations imposed by post-World War I treaty obligations. The name Kriegsmarine was adopted the same year. Though a large and professional force, it had to divide its assets between several theaters of war limiting the number and size of the ships it was able to deploy in the Baltic Sea. At the start of the Operation Barbarossa on 21 June 1941 German naval forces in the Baltic Sea consisted of 28 Schnellboote 5 submarines 10 minelayers 3 squadrons of M-class minesweepers 3 squadrons of requisitioned minesweepers 2 squadrons of R-boats 2 squadrons of patrol boats 3 Sperrbrecher 2 depot ships for minesweepers Various naval tugs and other auxiliariesIn September 1941 Germany formed the provisional Baltenflotte, which consisted of the battleship Tirpitz, cruisers Admiral Scheer, Emden, Köln, Leipzig and Nürnberg, destroyers Z25, Z26, Z27 and the 2nd torpedo boat squadron, it had been tasked with destroying the Soviet Baltic Fleet should it try to escape to neutral Sweden.
As this did not happen, aerial reconnaissance showed severe damage to the remaining ships of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, the Baltenflotte was disbanded before October 1941. The small Polish Navy suffered from lack of funds, but still managed to field, at the outbreak of war: Four large destroyers Five submarines One large minelayer Various smaller vessels The Soviet Baltic Fleet was the largest of the four fleets which made up the Soviet Navy during World War II, was commanded by Vladimir Tributs throughout the war. Though having bases only in the eastern corner of the Gulf of Finland, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was the largest naval power in the Baltic Sea; as World War II progressed, it was able to make use of naval bases in Estonia and Lithuania, first under the terms of agreements forced by the Soviet Union in autumn 1939 by direct access to the bases following the occupation of the Baltic states in spring, 1940. Gains from the peace treaty after the Winter War further helped the Baltic Fleet, as it acquired a base at Hanko, Finland, as well as the coast of the Karelian Isthmus.
Liepāja and Tallinn were the main naval bases of the Baltic Fleet prior to Operation Barbarossa. The Swedish Navy was the third largest in the Baltic Sea. Though Sweden stayed neutral during the war, its naval vessels escorted and protected convoys inside Swedish territorial waters, at times attacking hostile submarines with depth charges. Estonia and Lithuania all had small naval forces before World War II. During the occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union in 1940 these were attached to the Soviet Baltic Fleet; the Polish Navy participated in the Battle of Gdańsk Bay and Battle of Hel in 1939. A few of its surface ships were evacuated to continue the war from Britain, but most vessels remained in Poland and were sunk by German forces. Polish submarines operated in the Baltic until either internment in Sweden or escape to Britain in the Autumn of 1939. German naval losses during the invasion amounted to a minesweeper; the Winter War and the occupation of the Baltic states had left the Red Banner Baltic fleet in a strong position.
It was the largest navy on the Baltic Sea with bases all along the Baltic coast as well as in Hanko. In particular, the long and vulnerable southern coast of Finland was now exposed to the Soviet navy for its full length; the Finnish Navy had two branches, the old but well-maintained coastal fortifications built by the Russians before World War I, the actual navy, consisting of two coastal defence ships, five submarines and a number of smaller craft. The Kriegsmarine could provide only a small part of its naval force, as it was tied up in the battle of the Atlantic. Germany's main concern in the Baltic sea was to protect the routes through the Archipelago Sea which supplied its war industry with vital iron ore imported from Sw
Siege of Sevastopol (1941–42)
The Siege of Sevastopol known as the Defence of Sevastopol or the Battle of Sevastopol was a military battle that took place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers of Germany and Italy against the Soviet Union for control of Sevastopol, a port in the Crimea on the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Axis land forces overran most of the area; the only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. Several attempts were made to secure the city in October and November 1941. A major attack was planned for late November, but heavy rains delayed it until 17 December 1941. Under the command of Erich von Manstein, Axis forces were unable to capture Sevastopol during this first operation. Soviet forces launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941 to relieve the siege and force the Axis to divert forces to defend their gains; the operation saved Sevastopol for the time being, but the bridgehead in the eastern Crimea was eliminated in May 1942.
After the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis opted to conduct siege warfare until the middle of 1942, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land and air. On 2 June 1942, the Axis began this operation, codenamed Störfang; the Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment. The German Air Force played a vital part in the siege, its 8th Air Corps bombing the besieged Soviet forces with impunity, flying 23,751 sorties and dropping 20,528 tons of bombs in June alone; the intensity of the German airstrikes was far beyond previous German bombing offensives against cities such as Warsaw, Rotterdam or London. At the end of the siege, there were only 11 undamaged buildings left in Sevastopol; the Luftwaffe deterred most Soviet attempts to evacuate their troops by sea. The German 11th Army suppressed and destroyed the defenders by firing 46,750 tons of artillery ammunition on them during Störfang. On 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Germans seized the port.
The Soviet Separate Coastal Army was annihilated, with 118,000 men killed, wounded or captured in the final assault and 200,481 casualties in the siege as a whole for both it and the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Axis losses in Störfang amounted to 35,866 men. With the Soviet forces neutralized, the Axis refocused their attention on the major summer campaign of that year, Case Blue and the advance to the Caucasus oilfields; the Soviet naval base at Sevastopol was one of the strongest fortifications in the world. Its site, on a eroded, bare limestone promontory at the southwestern tip of the Crimea made an approach by land forces exceedingly difficult; the high-level cliffs overlooking Severnaya Bay protected the anchorage, making an amphibious landing just as dangerous. The Soviet Navy had built upon these natural defenses by modernizing the port and installing heavy coastal batteries consisting of 188mm and 305mm re-purposed battleship guns which were capable of firing inland as well as out to sea.
The artillery emplacements were protected by reinforced concrete fortifications and 9.8 inch thick armored turrets. The port was a valuable target, its importance as a potential naval and air base would enable the Axis to conduct far-ranging sea and air operations against Soviet targets into and over the Caucasus ports and mountains. The Red Air Force had been using the Crimea as a base to attack targets in Romania since the Axis invasion in June 1941, proving its usefulness as an air base; the Wehrmacht had launched a bombing raid on the Sevastopol naval base at the start of the invasion. Since the beginning of Barbarossa, the offensive against the USSR had not addressed the Crimea as an objective. German planners assumed the area would be captured in mopping-up operations once the bulk of the Red Army was destroyed west of the Dnieper river, but in June, attacks by Soviet aircraft from the Crimea against Romania's oil refineries destroyed 12,000 tons of oil. Hitler described the area as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" and ordered the conquest of Ukraine and Crimea as vital targets in the Directive 33, dated 23 July 1941.
The Command of the Army issued orders that the Crimea was to be captured as soon as possible to prevent attacks on Romanian oil supplies, vital to the German military. Hitler, impatient with obstruction to his commands to advance in the south, repeated on 12 August his desire that the Crimea be taken immediately. Over a month during the capture of Kiev, Generaloberst Erich von Manstein was given command of the German 11th Army on 17 September. After only a week in command, he launched an assault upon the Crimea. After severe fighting, Manstein's forces defeated several Soviet counteroffensives and destroyed two Soviet armies. By 16 November, the Wehrmacht had cleared the region, capturing its capital Simferopol, on 1 November; the fall of Kerch on 16 November left only Sevastopol in Soviet hands. By the end of October 1941, Major-General Ivan Yefimovich Petrov's Independent Coastal Army, numbering 32,000 men, had arrived at Sevastopol by sea from Odessa further west, it having been evacuated after heavy fighting.
Petrov set about fortifying the inland approaches to Sevastopol. He aimed to halt the Axis drive on the port by creating three defence lines inland, the outermost arc being 16 km from the port itself. Soviet forces, including the Soviet 51st Army and elements of the Black Sea Fleet, were defeated in the Crimea in October and were evacuated in December, leavi
The Kholm Pocket was the name given for the encirclement of German troops by the Red Army around Kholm south of Leningrad, during World War II on the Eastern Front, from 23 January 1942 until 5 May 1942. A much larger pocket was surrounded in Demyansk, about 100 km to the northeast; these were the results of German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow. The air supply of Kholm and Demyansk, while successful, led to an overconfidence in the German High Command in regard to the Luftwaffe's ability to air supply encircled forces which would lead to disastrous consequences at the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943. At the small Kholm pocket, 5,500 German soldiers held it for 105 days; the pocket was too small for planes to land. Among the airdropped supplies were 35 of the first 50 prototype MKb 42 rifles; the German units in the pocket were part of: 218th Infantry Division Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65 Infanterie-Regiment 553 Parts of the 123rd Infantry Division Jagdkommando 8 III.
Bataillon of the Luftwaffenfeldregiment 1German forces made three attempts to relieve the pocket, in January and May 1942. While the first two failed the third one was successful, with the German forces in the pocket reduced in number to 1,200 by then. In July 1942, the Cholm Shield was awarded to the German defenders of the pocket, upon the suggestion of Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, similar to the Demyansk Shield. Scherer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler for the command of the defense of Kholm. Kholm was liberated by the Red Army on 21 February 1944. Members of the Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65, a police unit from Gelsenkirchen, were questioned after the war by the state prosecutor in Dortmund for their involvement in ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe; the unit was found to have taken part in a minimum of 5,000 executions and a large number of deportations to concentration camps. Among them was the hanging of a young girl in Kholm during the siege.
Zabecki, David. Germany at War: 400 Years of Military History. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1598849808. Bourne, Merfyn; the Second World War in the Air: The Story of Air Combat in Every Theatre of World War Two. United Kingdom: Troubador Publishing. ISBN 1780884419. Media related to Battle of Kholm at Wikimedia Commons
Soviet evacuation of Tallinn
The Soviet evacuation of Tallinn called Tallinn disaster or Russian Dunkirk, was a Soviet operation to evacuate the 190 ships of the Baltic Fleet, units of the Red Army, pro-Soviet civilians from the fleet's encircled main base of Tallinn in Soviet-occupied Estonia during August 1941. Soviet forces had occupied Estonia in June 1940. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union began on 22 June 1941, German forces advanced through the Soviet-occupied Baltic states, by the end of August the Estonian capital of Tallinn was surrounded by German forces, while a large part of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was bottled up in Tallinn harbour. In expectation of a Soviet breakout, the Kriegsmarine and the Finnish Navy had started on 8 August 1941 to lay minefields off Cape Juminda on the Lahemaa coast. While Soviet minesweepers tried to clear a path for convoys through the minefields, German coastal artillery installed a battery of 150 mm guns near Cape Juminda and the Finnish navy gathered their 2nd Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla with patrol boats VMV9, VMV10, VMV11 and VMV17.
At the same time the German 3. Schnellbootflottille with E-boats S-26, S-27, S-39, S-40 and S-101 was concentrated at Suomenlinna outside Helsinki. German Junkers Ju 88 bombers from Kampfgruppe 806 based on airfields in Estonia were put on alert. On 19 August the final German assault on Tallinn began. During the night of 27/28 August 1941 the Soviet 10th Rifle Corps disengaged from the enemy and boarded transports in Tallinn; the embarkation was protected by smoke screens, the mine-sweeping in the days before the evacuation began was ineffective due to bad weather, there were no Soviet aircraft available for protecting the embarkation. This, together with heavy German shelling and aerial bombardment killed at least 1,000 of the evacuees in the harbour. Twenty large transports, eight auxiliary ships, nine small transports, a tanker, a tug, a tender were organized into four convoys, protected by the Soviet cruiser Kirov, with Admiral Vladimir Tributs on board, two flotilla leaders, nine destroyers, three torpedo boats, twelve submarines, ten modern and fifteen obsolete minehunters, 22 minesweepers, 21 submarine chasers, three gun boats, a minelayer, thirteen patrol vessels and eleven torpedo boats.
On 28 August KG 77 and KGr 806 sank the 2,026 grt steamer Vironia, the 2,317 grt Lucerne, the 1,423 grt Atis Kronvalds and the 2,250 grt ice breaker Krisjanis Valdemars. The rest of the Soviet fleet were forced to change course; this took them through a mined area. As a result, 21 Soviet warships, including five destroyers, sank. On 29 August, the Luftwaffe, now reinforced with KG 76, KG 4 and KG 1, accounted for the transport ships Vtoraya Pyatiletka and Leningradsovet sunk. In addition, the ships Ivan Papanin, Saule and the Serp i Molot were damaged by I./KG 4, which sank three more. Some 5,000 Soviet soldiers died; that evening the armada was attacked by Finnish and German torpedo boats, the chaotic situation made organized mine sweeping impossible. Darkness fell at 22:00 and the Soviet armada stopped and anchored at midnight in the mined water. Early on 29 August Ju 88 bombers attacked the remains of the convoys off Suursaari, sinking two transports. Meanwhile, the undamaged ships made best speed to reach the safety of the Kronstadt batteries.
The damaged merchant ship Kazakhstan disembarked 2300 men of the 5000 on board before steaming on to Kronstadt. In the following days ships operating from Suursaari rescued 12,160 survivors; the Soviet evacuation of Tallinn succeeded in evacuating 165 ships, 28,000 passengers and 66,000 tons of equipment. At least 12,400 are thought to have drowned in circumstances little known outside the former Soviet Union; the event was long. The evacuation may have been the bloodiest naval disaster since the battle of Lepanto. On 25 August 2001, a memorial was unveiled at Juminda. Latvian Icebreaker Krišjānis Valdemārs Soviet Submarine S 5 - 28 August 1941, Gulf of Finland Soviet Submarine S 6 Soviet Submarine Shch 301 - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Soviet Destroyer Yakov Sverdlov - 28 August 1941, off Mohni island Soviet Destroyer Kalinin - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Soviet Destroyer Artem - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Soviet Destroyer Volodarski - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Soviet Destroyer Skoryi - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Patrol vessel Sneg - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Patrol vessel Tsiklon- 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Gunboat I-8 - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Gunboat Amgun Minesweeper No. 71 - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Minesweeper No. 42 - 28 August 1941, off Cape Juminda Minesweeper T-214, off Cape Juminda Minesweeper T-216, off Cape Juminda Minelayer TTS-56 Minelayer TTS-71 Minelayer TTS-42 Netlayer Vyatka Netlayer Onega Guard ship Saturn Submarine chaser MO 202 Motor torpedo boat TK 103 25 large and 9 smaller merchantmen, including: Estonian transport SS Eestirand - 24 August 1941, off Prangli Island VT -511/ALEV VT-512/TOBOL VT-547/JARVAMAA EVERITA VT-518/LUGA VT-512/KUMARI BALKHASH JANA VT -584/NAISSAAR VT -537/ERGONAUTIS VT -530/ELLA AUSMA Tanker TN-12.
Mines damaged destroyer Minsk, destroyers Gordy and Slavnyi, minesweeper T-205 and other ships. List of shipwrecks in August 1941 Bergstrom, Christer. Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July–December 1941. London: Chevron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2. Mati Õun: Juminda miinilahing 1941 – maailmasündmus meie koduvetes (Juminda sea battle
Georg-Hans Reinhardt was a German general and war criminal during World War II. He commanded the 3rd Panzer Army from 1941 to 1944, Army Group Centre in 1944 and 1945, reaching the rank of colonel general. Following the war, Reinhardt was tried in the High Command Trial, as part of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, he was sentenced to 15 years. He was released in 1952. Born in 1887, Reinhardt fought during World War I, he commanded the 4th Panzer Division during the Invasion of Poland in September 1939. In the 1940 Battle of France, Reinhardt commanded the XXXXI Panzer Corps. In 1941, Reinhardt and XLI Panzer Corps were deployed on the Eastern Front for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in June, his force led the advance of Army Group North to the outskirts of Leningrad in October. As all German corps on the Eastern Front, Reinhardt's corps implemented the criminal Commissar Order. According to reports from subordinate units, the order was carried out on a widespread basis. On October 5 Reinhardt was given command of the 3rd Panzer Army in Army Group Centre and took part in Operation Typhoon, the advance towards Moscow.
After the German defeat in the Battle of Moscow, his army was driven back by Soviet counter-attack during the winter of 1941−42. Troops under Reinhardt's command implemented the OKH policy of "liquidating" mentally infirm. From early 1942 until June 1944, the 3rd Panzer Army operated around Smolensk. In the course of rear-security operations in the area, troops under Reinhardt command destroyed entire communities. A report of February 1943 stated: In order to keep bands from resettling in this territory, the population of villages and farms in this area were killed without exception to the last baby. All homes were burned down; the army engaged in deportations of civilians to concentration camps. Between September and December 1943, nearly 4,000 civilians were deported from Vitebsk and surrounding areas, because they were suspected of helping "bands"; the action was conducted in cooperation with units of the SD. In June 1944, during Operation Bagration, the Third Panzer and the rest of Army Group Centre were shattered by the Red Army and driven back into Poland and East Prussia.
On 16 August 1944, Reinhardt was given command of Army Group Centre. In December, renewed Soviet attacks drove Army Group Centre out of Poland into northern Prussia. Reinhardt was retired from active duty in January 1945. In June 1945, Reinhardt was arrested by the United States Army. In 1948, he was tried as part of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials. Reinhardt was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder and mis-treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, of murder and hostage-taking of civilians in occupied countries, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, served time in the Landsberg Prison. His sentence was reviewed with no changes. Reinhardt was released in 1952 on compassionate grounds. From 1954. Reinhardt served as president of the Gesellschaft für Wehrkunde, present-day Gesellschaft für Sicherheitspolitik, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1962. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords Knight's Cross on 27 October 1939 as Generalleutnant and commander of 4.
Panzer-Division Oak Leaves on 17 February 1942 as General der Panzertruppe and commander of 3. Panzergruppe Swords on 26 May 1944 as Generaloberst and commander of 3. Panzer-Armee Great Cross of Merit US Military Tribunal Nuremberg. "High Command Trial, Judgment of 27 October 1948". Retrieved 30 May 2016
Battle of Białystok–Minsk
The Battle of Białystok–Minsk was a German strategic operation conducted by the Wehrmacht's Army Group Centre under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock during the penetration of the Soviet border region in the opening stage of Operation Barbarossa, lasting from 22 June to 9 July 1941. The Army Group's 2nd Panzer Group under Colonel General Heinz Guderian and the 3rd Panzer Group under Colonel General Hermann Hoth decimated the Soviet frontier defenses, defeated all Soviet counter-attacks and encircled four Soviet Armies of the Red Army's Western Front near Bialystok and Minsk by 30 June; the majority of the Western Front was enclosed within, the pockets were liquidated by 9 July. The Red Army lost 417,729 men against Wehrmacht casualties of somewhat over 12,157; the Germans destroyed the Soviet Western Front in 18 days and advanced 460 kilometers into the Soviet Union, causing many to believe that the Germans had won the war against Soviet Union. Commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, Army Group Centre was tasked with attacking from Poland through the Białystok – Minsk – Smolensk axis towards Moscow.
The Army Group included the 4th Armies. Its armored forces were Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group; the two infantry Armies fielded 33 divisions and the Panzer Armies fielded nine armored divisions, six motorized divisions and a cavalry division. Army Group Center could call upon Luftflotte 2 for air support. Facing Army Group Center was the Red Army's Western Front commanded by General of the Army Dmitry Pavlov, it included the 3rd, 4th, 10th Armies along the frontier. The 13th Army was held as part of the Stavka High Command Reserve and existed as a headquarters unit only, with no assigned forces. All together, the Soviet Western Front had 25 rifle and cavalry divisions, 13 tank and 7 motorized divisions; the Red Army disposition in Belarus was based on the idea of avoiding a war of attrition by engaging in an aggressive counterattack to any invasion, carrying the war into German-occupied Poland. The plan suffered from weakness along the flanks, created by circumstances such as the line of demarcation placement following the division of Poland in 1939.
The forward placement of both German and Soviet forces in a double-bulge position enabled both sides to try the double envelopment. However, it was the OKH that undertook it thanks to preempting hostilities, destroying much of the Red Air Force in the airfields while severing most of the Soviet Western Front's land forces from lines of communication with other Soviet fronts, they fell to a double envelopment, centred on Novogrudok. While the engagement was known as "The Battle of Białystok–Minsk", this is a slight misnomer. Western Front – Commander Army General Dmitry Pavlov, Chief of Staff General Vladimir Klimovskikh, Operations Officer General Ivan Boldin 3rd Army – Vasily Kuznetsov 4th Rifle Corps 11th Mechanized Corps 4th Army – Lieutenant General Alexander Korobkov 28th Rifle Corps 14th Mechanized Corps 10th Army – Konstantin Golubev 1st Rifle Corps 5th Rifle Corps 6th Cavalry Corps 6th Mechanized Corps 13th Mechanized Corps Second echelon 13th Army – Lieutenant General Pyotr Filatov 17th Mechanized Corps 20th Mechanized Corps 4th Airborne Corps Army Group Centre - Commander Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock 3rd Panzer Group – Generaloberst Hermann Hoth XXXIX Army Corps – Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt LVII Army Corps – General der Panzertruppen Adolf Kuntzen VI Army Corps – General der Pioniere Otto-Wilhelm Förster 9th Army – Generaloberst Adolf Strauss V Army Corps – Generaloberst Richard Ruoff VIII Army Corps – Generaloberst Walter Heitz XX Army Corps- General der Infanterie Friedrich Materna 4th Army – Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge VII Army Corps – General der Artillerie Wilhelm Fahrmbacher IX Army Corps – General der Infanterie Hermann Geyer XII Army Corps – General der Infanterie Walther Schroth XIII Army Corps – General der Infanterie Hans Felber XLIII Corps – Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici 2nd Panzer Group – Generaloberst Heinz Guderian XXIV Panzer Corps – General der Panzertruppen Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg XLVI Panzer Corps – General Heinrich von Viettinghoff-Scheel XLVII Panzer Corps- General der Panzertruppen Joachim Lemelsen 10th Infantry Division – Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm von Loeper 1st Cavalry Division – Generalleutnant Kurt Feldt Reserve: 2nd Army – Generaloberst Maximilian von Weichs XXXV Corps – General der Infanterie Rudolf Kaempfe XLII Corps – General der Pioniere Walter Kuntze LIII Army Corps – General der Infanterie Karl Weisenberger 286th Security Division – Generalleutnant Kurt Müller On 22 June 1941, the balance of tanks over the entire area of the Soviet Western Front was as follows.
The Red Army moved into Białystok. Beyond Białystok, Minsk was a key strategic railway junction and a defensive position of the main road and rail communications with Moscow. Caught in the German operation was part of the 11th Army of the Northwestern Front. In the north, 3rd Panzer Group attacked, cutting off the 11th Army from Western Front, crossed the Neman River; the 2nd Panzer Group crossed the Bug River and by 23 June, it had penetrated 60 km into Soviet territory. The Panzer Groups' objectives were to meet east of Minsk and prevent any Red Army withdrawal from the encirclement. Operating with the Panzer Groups to encircle the Soviet forces, the 9th Army and 4th Army cut into the salient, beginning to encircle Soviet Armies around Białystok. On 23 June, the Soviet 10th Army attempted a counter-attack in accordance with pre-war planning, but failed to achieve its goals. On 24 June, General Pavlov ordered his operations officer, General Boldin, to take charge of the 6th and 1