Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation
The Belgorod-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation, or Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation, was a Soviet strategic summer offensive that aimed to recapture Belgorod and Kharkov a, destroy the German forces of the 4th Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf. The operation was codenamed Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev, after the 18th-century Field Marshal Peter Rumyantsev and was conducted by the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts in the southern sector of the Kursk Bulge; the battle was referred to as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov by the Germans. The operation began in the early hours of 3 August 1943, with the objective of following up the successful Soviet defensive effort against the German Operation Citadel; the offensive was directed against the German Army Group South's northern flank. By 23 August, the troops of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts had seized Kharkov from German forces, it was the last time. The operation led to the retreat of the German forces in Ukraine behind the Dnieper River and set the stage for the Battle of Kiev in autumn 1943.
Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev had been planned by Stavka to be the major Soviet summer offensive in 1943. However, due to heavy losses sustained during the Battle of Kursk in July, time was needed for the Soviet formations to recover and regroup. Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev commenced on 3 August, with the aim of the defeating the 4th Panzer Army, Army Group Kempf, the southern wing of Army Group South, it was hoped that the German 1st Panzer Army and the newly reformed 6th Army would be trapped by an advance of the Red Army forces to the Azov Sea. The Soviet forces included the Voronezh Front and the Steppe Front, which deployed about 1,144,000 men with 2,418 tanks and 13,633 guns and rocket launchers for the attack. Against this the German army could field 237 tanks and assault guns. German Army Group South commander General Erich von Manstein had anticipated that the Soviets would launch an attack across the Dnieper and Mius Rivers in an attempt to reach the Black Sea, cutting off the German forces extended in the southern portion of Army Group South in a repeat of the Stalingrad disaster.
When the Soviet Southern Front and the Southwestern Front launched just such an attack on 17 July the Germans responded by moving the II SS Panzer Corps, XXIV Corps and XLVIII Panzer Corps southward to blunt the Soviet offensive. In fact these Soviet operations were intended to draw off German forces from the main thrust of the Soviet offensive, to dissipate the German reserve in anticipation for their main drive; the Soviet plan called for the 5th and 6th Guards Armies, the 53rd Army, to attack on a 30-kilometer wide sector, supported by a heavy artillery concentration, break through the five successive German defensive lines between Kursk and Kharkov. The former two armies had borne the brunt of the German attack in Operation Citadel. Supported by two additional mobile corps, the 1st Tank Army and the 5th Guards Tank Army, both reequipped after the end of Operation Citadel, would act as the front's mobile groups and develop the breakthrough by encircling Kharkov from the north and west. Mikhail Katukov's 1st Tank Army was to form the westward-facing outer encirclement line, while Pavel Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army would form the inner line, facing the city.
A secondary attack to the west of the main breakthrough was to be conducted by the 27th and 40th Armies with the support of four separate tank corps. Meanwhile, to the east and southeast, the 69th and 7th Guards Armies, followed by the Southwestern Front's 57th Army, were to join the attack. On 3 August the offensive was begun with a heavy artillery barrage directed against the German defensive positions. Though the German defenders fought tenaciously, the two tank armies committed to the battle could not be held back. By 5 August the Soviets had broken through the German defensive lines, moving into the rear areas and capturing Belgorod while advancing some 60 km. Delivering powerful sledgehammer blows from the north and east, the attackers overwhelmed the German defenders. German reserves were shifted from the Orel sector and north from the Donbas regions in an attempt to stem the tide and slow down the Soviet attacks. Success was limited to the "Grossdeutschland" division delaying the 40th Army by a day.
Seven panzer and motorized divisions making up the III Panzer Corps, along with four infantry divisions were assembled to counterattack into the flank of the advancing Soviet forces but were checked. After nine days the 2nd SS "Das Reich" and 3rd SS "Totenkopf" divisions arrived and initiated a counterattack against the two Soviet Armies near Bogodukhov, 30 km northwest of Kharkov. In the following armoured battles of firepower and maneuver the SS divisions destroyed a great many Soviet tanks. To assist the 6th Guards Army and the 1st Tank Army, the 5th Guards Tank Army joined the battles. All three Soviet armies suffered and the tank armies lost more than 800 of their initial 1,112 tanks; these Soviet reinforcements stopped the German counterattack, but their further offensive plans were blunted. With the Soviet advance around Bogodukhov stopped, the Germans now began to attempt to close the gap between Akhtyrka and Krasnokutsk; the counterattack started on 18 August, on 20 August "Totenkopf" and "Großdeutschland" met behind the Soviet units.
Parts of two Soviet armies and two tank corps were trapped, but the trapped units outnumbered the German units. Many Soviet units were able to break out. After this setback the Soviet troops focused on Kharkov and captured it after heavy fighting on 23 August; the battle is referred to as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov b
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Case Blue was the German Armed Forces' name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942, during World War II. The operation was a continuation of the previous year's Operation Barbarossa, intended to knock the Soviet Union out of the war, it involved a two-pronged attack: one from the Axis right flank against the oil fields of Baku, known as Operation Edelweiss, one from the left flank in the direction of Stalingrad along the Volga River, known as Operation Fischreiher. Army Group South of the German Army was divided into Army Groups A and B. Army Group A was tasked with crossing the Caucasus mountains to reach the Baku oil fields, while Army Group B protected its flanks along the Volga. Supported by 2,035 Luftwaffe aircraft and 1,934 tanks and assault guns, the 1,370,287-man Army Group South attacked on 28 June, advancing 48 kilometers on the first day and brushing aside the 1,715,000 Red Army troops opposite, who falsely expected a German offensive on Moscow after Blau commenced.
The Soviet collapse in the south allowed the Germans to capture the western part of Voronezh on 6 July and reach and cross the Don river near Stalingrad on 26 July. Army Group B's approach toward Stalingrad slowed in late July and early August owing to constant counterattacks by newly deployed Red Army reserves and overstretched German supply lines; the Germans defeated the Soviets in the Battle of Kalach and the combat shifted to the city itself in late August. Nonstop Luftwaffe airstrikes, artillery fire and street-to-street combat destroyed the city and inflicted heavy casualties on the opposing forces. After three months of battle, the Germans controlled 90% of Stalingrad on 19 November. In the south, Army Group A captured Rostov on 23 July and swept south from the Don to the Caucasus, capturing the demolished oilfields at Maikop on 9 August and Elista on 13 August near the Caspian Sea coast. Heavy Soviet resistance and the long distances from Axis sources of supply reduced the Axis offensive to local advances only and prevented the Germans from completing their strategic objective of capturing the main Caucasus oilfield at Baku.
Luftwaffe bombers destroyed the oilfields at Grozny but attacks on Baku were prevented by the insufficient range of the German fighters. The possibility that the Germans would continue to the south and east, link up with Japanese forces in India, was of great concern to the Allies. However, the Red Army defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn; this defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus. Only the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops. On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht had launched Operation Barbarossa with the intention of defeating the Soviets in a Blitzkrieg lasting only months; the Axis offensive had met with initial success and the Red Army had suffered some major defeats before halting the Axis units just short of Moscow. Although the Germans had captured vast areas of land and important industrial centers, the Soviet Union remained in the war. In the winter of 1941–42 the Soviets struck back in a series of successful counteroffensives, pushing back the German threat to Moscow.
Despite these setbacks, Hitler wanted an offensive solution, for which he required the oil resources of the Caucasus. By February 1942 the German Army High Command had begun to develop plans for a follow-up campaign to the aborted Barbarossa offensive – with the Caucasus as its principal objective. On 5 April 1942, Hitler laid out the elements of the plan now known as "Case Blue" in Führer Directive No. 41. The directive stated the main goals of the 1942 summer campaign on Germany's Eastern Front: holding attacks for Army Group Centre, the capture of Leningrad and the link-up with Finland for AG North, the capture of the Caucasus region for Army Group South; the main focus was to be the capture of the Caucasus region. The Caucasus, a large, culturally diverse region traversed by its eponymous mountains, is bounded by the Black Sea to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east; the region north of the mountains was a production center for grain and heavy farm machinery, while its two main oilfields, at Maykop, near the Black Sea, Grozny, about halfway between the Black and the Caspian Seas, produced about 10 percent of all Soviet oil.
South of the mountains lay Transcaucasia, comprising Georgia and Armenia. This industrialized and densely populated area contained some of the largest oilfields in the world. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was one of the richest, producing 80 percent of the Soviet Union's oil—about 24 million tons in 1942 alone; the Caucasus possessed plentiful coal and peat, as well as nonferrous and rare metals. Manganese deposits at Chiaturi, in Transcaucasia, formed the richest single source in the world, yielding 1.5 million tons of manganese ore annually, half of the Soviet Union's total production. The Kuban region of the Caucasus produced large amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds, sugar beets, all essential in the production of food; these resources were of immense importance to the German war effort. Of the three million tons of oil Germany consumed per year, 85 percent was imported from the United States and Iran; when war broke out in September 1939, the British naval blockade cut Germany off from the Americas and the Middle East, leaving the country reliant on oil-rich European countries such as Romania to supply the resource.
An indication of German reliance on Romania is evident from its oil consumption.
Rudolf von Bünau (father)
Rudolf von Bünau was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II who commanded several corps. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany, his son named Rudolf von Bünau, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 8 August 1943. His other son, Günther von Bünau was killed in action in 1943. According to documents released by the Bundesnachrichtendienst in 2014, Rudolf von Bünau, led a "group staff" of the Schnez-Truppe, a German secret paramilitary force established by Nazi veterans in 1949. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class German Cross in Gold on 23 January 1943 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 73. Infanterie-Division Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves Knight's Cross on 15 August 1940 as Oberst and commander of Infanterie-Regiment 133 766th Oak Leaves on 5 March 1945 as General der Infanterie and commander of XI. Armeekorps
Battle of the Dnieper
The Battle of the Dnieper was a military campaign that took place in 1943 on the Eastern Front of World War II. It was one of the largest operations in World War II, involving 4,000,000 troops at a time stretched on a 1,400 kilometres long front. During its four-month duration, the eastern bank of the Dnieper was recovered from German forces by five of the Red Army's fronts, which conducted several assault river crossings to establish several lodgements on the western bank. Subsequently, Kiev was liberated in the Battle of Kiev. 2,438 Red Army soldiers were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, more than had been awarded since the award's establishment and never again was there such a large number of laureates. Following the Battle of Kursk, the Wehrmacht's Heer and supporting Luftwaffe forces in the southern Soviet Union were on the defensive in the southern Ukraine. By mid-August, Adolf Hitler understood that the forthcoming Soviet offensive could not be contained on the open steppe and ordered construction of a series of fortifications along the line of the Dnieper river.
On the Soviet side, Joseph Stalin was determined to launch a major offensive in Ukraine. The main thrust of the offensive was in a southwesterly direction; the operation began on 26 August 1943. Divisions started to move on a 1,400-kilometer front that stretched between Smolensk and the Sea of Azov. Overall, the operation would be executed by four Tank and five Air Armies. 2,650,000 personnel were brought into the ranks for this massive operation. The operation would use 2,400 tanks and 2,850 planes; the Dnieper is the third largest river in Europe, behind the Danube. In its lower part, its width can reach three kilometres, being dammed in several places made it larger. Moreover, its western shore—the one still to be retaken—was much higher and steeper than the eastern, complicating the offensive further. In addition, the opposite shore was transformed into a vast complex of defenses and fortifications held by the Wehrmacht. Faced with such a situation, the Soviet commanders had two options; the first would be to give themselves time to regroup their forces, find a weak point or two to exploit, stage a breakthrough and encircle the German defenders far in the rear, rendering the defence line unsupplied and next to useless.
This option was supported by Marshal Zhukov and Deputy Chief of Staff A. I. Antonov, who considered the substantial losses after the fierce battle of Kursk; the second option would be to stage a massive assault without waiting, force the Dnieper on a broad front. This option left no additional time for the German defenders, but would lead to much larger casualties than would a successful deep operation breakthrough; this second option was backed by Stalin due to the concern that the German "scorched earth" policy might devastate this region if the Red Army did not advance fast enough. Stavka chose the second option. Instead of deep penetration and encirclement, the Soviet intended to make full use of partisan activities to intervene and disrupt Germany's supply route so that the Germans could not send reinforcements or take away Soviet industrial facilities in the region. Stavka paid high attention to the possible scorched earth activities of German forces with a view to preventing them by a rapid advance.
The assault was staged on a 300-kilometer front simultaneously. All available means of transport were to be used to transport the attackers to the opposite shore, including small fishing boats and improvised rafts of barrels and trees; the preparation of the crossing equipment was further complicated by the German scorched earth strategy with the total destruction of all boats and raft building material in the area. The crucial issue would be heavy equipment. Without it, the bridgeheads would not stand for long. Central Front, commanded by Konstantin Rokossovsky and accounted for 579,600 soldiers 2nd Tank Army, led by Aleksei Rodin / Semyon Bogdanov 9th Tank Corps, led by Hryhoriy Rudchenko, Boris Bakharov 60th Army, led by Ivan Chernyakhovsky 13th Army, led by Nikolay Pukhov 65th Army, led by Pavel Batov 61st Army, led by Pavel Belov 48th Army, led by Prokofy Romanenko 70th Army, led by Ivan Galanin / Vladimir Sharapov / Aleksei Grechkin 16th Air Army, led by Sergei Rudenko Voronezh Front, commanded by Nikolai Vatutin and accounted for 665,500 soldiers 3rd Guards Tank Army, led by Pavel Rybalko 1st Tank Army, led by Mikhail Katukov 4th Guards Tank Corps, led by Pavel Poluboyarov 1st Guard Cavalry Corps, led by Viktor Baranov 5th Guards Army, led by Aleksei Zhadov 4th Guards Army, led by Grigory Kulik / Aleksei Zygin / Ivan Galanin 6th Guards Army, led by Ivan Chistyakov 38th Army, led by Nikandr Chibisov / Kirill Moskalenko 47th Army, led by Pavel Korzun / Filipp Zhmachenko / Vitaliy Polenov 27th Army, led by Sergei Trofimenko 52nd Army, led by Konstantin Koroteev 2nd Air Army, led by Stepan Krasovsky Steppe Front, commanded by Ivan Konev Southwestern Front, commanded by Rodion Malinovsky Southern Front, commanded by Fyodor To
Siege of Warsaw (1939)
The Siege of Warsaw in 1939 was fought between the Polish Warsaw Army garrisoned and entrenched in Warsaw and the invading German Army. It began with huge aerial bombardments initiated by the Luftwaffe starting on September 1, 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland. Land fighting started on September 8, when the first German armored units reached the Wola district and south-western suburbs of the city. Despite German radio broadcasts claiming to have captured Warsaw, the initial enemy attack was repelled and soon afterwards Warsaw was placed under siege; the siege lasted until September 28, when the Polish garrison, commanded under General Walerian Czuma capitulated. The following day 140,000 Polish troops left the city and were taken as prisoners of war. On October 1 the Wehrmacht entered Warsaw, which started a period of German occupation that lasted until the devastating Warsaw Uprising and until January 17, 1945, when the city was liberated by Soviet forces. During the siege around 18,000 civilians of Warsaw perished.
As a result of the air bombardments 10% of the city's buildings were destroyed and further 40% were damaged. Under the international rules regarding aerial warfare in 1939 Warsaw was considered a legitimate military target as the city was on the front line during the fighting and it was defended by the Polish army. From the first hours of World War II, the capital of Poland, was a target of an unrestricted aerial bombardment campaign initiated by the German Luftwaffe, controlled by Hermann Göring. Apart from the military facilities such as infantry barracks and the Okęcie airport and aircraft factory, the German pilots targeted civilian facilities such as water works, market places and schools, which resulted in heavy human casualties that led to the early surrender by lowering of morale of the Polish army defending the city; the anti-aircraft defence of the capital was divided into passive parts. The former was composed of units of the Pursuit Brigade under Colonel Stefan Pawlikowski, anti-aircraft artillery and anti-aircraft machine guns detachments under Colonel Kazimierz Baran.
The Pursuit Brigade was equipped with 54 fighter aircraft the obsolete PZL P.7 and PZL P.11 types. The AA artillery had 86 pieces of anti-aircraft artillery, as well as an unknown number of other anti-aircraft machine guns; the latter was composed of fire-fighter brigades and volunteers and was supervised by Colonel Tadeusz Bogdanowicz and Julian Kulski, the deputy president of Warsaw. The air defence of Warsaw was successful and by September 6, 1939, the Pursuit Brigade had shot down 43 enemy aircraft, while anti-aircraft artillery had shot down a similar number of enemy bombers. There were 9 unconfirmed victories and 20 damaged enemy planes. However, the brigade suffered heavy losses, by September 7 it had lost over 38 pieces of equipment, or 70% of its initial strength, which contributed to an early surrender; the AA defence started to crumble when on September 5 by order of the military authorities 11 AA batteries were withdrawn from Warsaw towards the eastern cities of Lublin, Brześć and Lwów.
Furthermore, as the war progressed, the German high command redirected more bombers to attack the city the historical old town, the Warsaw Royal Castle and other iconic monuments, significant to the Polish nation and its capital. At the peak of the initial bombing campaign on September 10, there were more than 70 German bombers above Warsaw. During that day, nicknamed "Bloody Sunday", there were 17 consecutive bombing raids. On September 3, the forces of German 4th Panzer Division under Major General Georg-Hans Reinhardt managed to break through positions of the Polish Łódź Army near Częstochowa and started their march towards the river Vistula and Warsaw; the same day Polish Commander in Chief, Marshal of Poland Edward Rydz-Śmigły ordered the creation of an improvised Command of the Defence of Warsaw. General Walerian Czuma, the head of the Border Guard, became its commander and Colonel Tadeusz Tomaszewski its Chief of Staff; the forces under the command of General Czuma were limited. Most of the city authorities withdrew together with a large part of the police forces, fire fighters and the military garrison.
Warsaw was left with one battery of artillery. The spokesman of the garrison of Warsaw issued a communique in which he ordered all young men to leave Warsaw. To coordinate civilian efforts and counter the panic that started in Warsaw, Czuma appointed the president of Warsaw Stefan Starzyński as the Civilian Commissar of Warsaw. Starzyński started to organize the Civil Guard to replace the evacuated police forces and the fire fighters, he ordered all members of the city's administration to return to their posts. In his daily radio releases he asked all civilians to construct barricades and anti-tank barriers on the streets and at the outskirts of Warsaw. On September 7 the 40th Infantry Regiment "Children of Lwów" – transiting through Warsaw towards assigned positions with the Army Pomorze – was stopped and joined the defense of Warsaw; the field fortifications were constructed to the west of the city limits. The forces of General Walerian Czuma were reinforced with volunteers composed of civilians, including women and children, as well as rearguard troops and units withdrawing from the front.
On the morning of September 8, the suburbs of Grójec, Nadarzyn and Piaseczno were captured by forces of German XVI Panzer Corps. At 5pm the forc
Battle of the Dukla Pass
The Battle of the Dukla Pass known as the Dukla / Carpatho-Dukla / Rzeszów-Dukla / Dukla-Prešov Offensive was the battle for control over the Dukla Pass on the border between Poland and Slovakia on the Eastern Front of World War II between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in September–October 1944. It was part of the Soviet East Carpathian Strategic Offensive that included the Carpathian-Uzhgorod Offensive; the operation's primary goal, to provide support for the Slovakian rebellion, was not achieved, but it concluded the full liberation of the Ukraine in its modern borders by the occupation of the Subcarpathian region as a territory of the former Carpatho-Ukraine. The German resistance in the eastern Carpathian region was much harder than expected; the battle which began on 8 September would not see the Soviet forces on the other side of the pass until 6 October, German forces would stop their heavy resistance in the region only around 10 October. Five days to Prešov turned into fifty days to Svidník alone with over 70,000 casualties on both sides.
Prešov, to be reached in six days remained beyond the Czechoslovaks' grasp for four months. The battle would be counted among one of the most bloody in the entire Eastern Front and in the history of Slovakia. In summer 1944, Slovaks rebelled against the Nazis and the Czechoslovak government appealed to Soviets for help. On 31 August, Soviet marshal Ivan Konev was ordered to prepare plans for an offensive to destroy Nazi forces in Slovakia; the plan was to push through the old Slovak-Polish border in the Carpathian Mountains via the Dukla Pass near Svidník to penetrate into Slovakia proper. In the meantime, the Germans had fortified the region, forming the Karpatenfestung or Árpád Line; the Soviet operation plan called for the Soviet forces to cross the pass and capture the town of Prešov within five days. The operation started on 8 September, it took the Soviets three days to take Krosno. One of the biggest battles in the pass took place on and around Hill 534 in the northwest from the town of Dukla.
The town of Dukla was seized on 21 September. The area of the former Czechoslovak state border—heavily fortified by the Germans—was captured on 6 October; the Dukla operation did not end. The combat zone shifted to Eastern Slovakia, with Soviet forces trying to outflank and push back the German forces, still strong and having many fortified positions. South of the pass and directly west of the village of Dobroslava lies an area which has come to be known as the "Valley of Death". Here Soviet and German armor clashed in a miniature reenactment of the great tank battle of Kursk. Soviet and Czechoslovak forces would enter Svidník on 28 October. A major German fortified position near the pass, Hill 532 "Obšár", would be secured as late as on 25 November 1944; the Slovak National Uprising was crushed by the time Soviet units secured Slovak territories. Another factor was that the Slovak insurgent forces failed to secure the other side of the pass, as planned by the Slovak and Soviet commanders during early preparations.
In 1949, the Czechoslovak government erected a memorial and cemetery southeast of the Dukla border crossing, in Vyšný Komárnik, the first liberated village on the territory of Czechoslovakia. It contains the graves of several hundred Soviet and Czechoslovak soldiers. Several other memorials and cemeteries have been erected in the region. In 1956, the football club ATK Praha changed their name to Dukla Praha in honour of those who had fallen in the battle. Elements of 1st Ukrainian Front, Marshal Ivan Konev commanding 38th Army Czechoslovak 1st Army Corps Elements of 4th Ukrainian Front: Soviet 1st Guards Army Army Group Heinrici 1st Panzer Army Elements of Hungarian First Army Andrusikiewicz J. Boje o Przełęcz Dukielską "Wierchy" t. 37, Kraków 1968 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. Grzywacz-Świtalski Ł. Z walk na Podkarpaciu, Warszawa 1971 Luboński P. Operacja dukielsko-preszowska Magury’ 83, Warszawa 1983 Michalak J. Dukla i okolice, Krosno 1996 Post-Dukla 1944 Soviet Offensive Operations in Eastern Slovakia Maps of operations in Carpathian Mountains including battle of the Dukla Pass: http://rkkaww2.armchairgeneral.com/maps/1944SW/1UF/CZ/s17_Carpatians_Sep_Nov44_eng.jpg, http://www.rkka.ru/maps/dukl.gif, https://web.archive.org/web/20080529154931/http://rkkaww2.armchairgeneral.com/maps/1944SW/1UF/CZ/38A_Dukla_s04_Sept27_Nov8_44.gif Diorama painting and Google Earth view of the pass Description of PL-SK border crossing events by units of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps during operation