To all those who fervently believe that Operation Overlord was the only thing happening in Europe in June 1944 :P IMHO ,this was THE most decisive battle of WWII, in terms of the blows it dealt to the German War Machine, the casualties and the gains it made. Here is an article describing it. I would be interested to here your views on this battle. The following relates to the Greatest Defeat the Wehrmacht Suffered and is sometimes overlooked by historians. Article Published in Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily on June 29, 2003 June 22 is the date on which two major World War II anniversaries are marked: one is broadly known as the day when the nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. Another is more of a notion for historians and military strategists — the anniversary of the commencement of one of the greatest battles of World War II — the Operation Bagration, a.k.a. the Belarusian Strategic Offensive Operation. The operation was named, by the Soviets, after Russian Gen. Petr Bagration, who died in the Battle of Borodino in September 1812, fighting against Napoleon’s forces. In German military history, Operation Bagration in 1944 was to be recorded as the “Defeat of the Army Group Center”, which reflects the essence of what happened. On June 22, 1944, the third anniversary of the German invasion of the Soviet Union (for Soviet peoples, that date marked the beginning of the Great Patriotic War), Marshal Georgy Zhukov ordered a large-scale offensive on the 700km Soviet-German front against the adversary’s Army Group Center, thus commencing Operation Bagration. Four Soviet Army fronts participated in the offensive – 1st, 2nd, 3rd Belarusian as well as 1st Baltic – numbering all in all 2.6-million troops, 26,000 artillery pieces, 5,200 tanks. The Soviet Air Force brought to bear some 153,000 combat sorties on the enemy which amounted to an air campaign unprecedented throughout the previous course of war. It was not a rare occasion when Lend-Lease equipment provided by the Allies was successfully employed in action: Stewart and Valentine tanks from Great Britain, Dodge trucks and Thompson submachineguns from the United States, and the like. To disrupt German lines of communication, the Soviet High Command ordered partisan formations into action. Three days before the general offensive, partisans deployed in large numbers laying minefields, destroying railways, ambushing convoys and harassing rear area units in order to prevent German reserves and supplies from arriving at their destination. When the operation got underway, the advancing Soviet units, within the first days of the offensive, were able to bypass, encircle and destroy large German troop concentrations. Some 30,000 German troops were surrounded at Vitebsk on June 25, 1944. Another considerable encirclement came about at Bobruisk on June 27 when up to 40,000 personnel constituting the bulk of the German 9th Army found themselves in the pincer of Soviet tank units. Among other meaningful episodes of the Belarusian Strategic Offensive were the capture of Mogilev, a German stronghold which was supposed to be abandoned at Hitler’s personal orders only, and the Grodno-Byalostok and Brest-Lublin operations, among others. On July 3, 1944, the 4th German Army was caught in a huge pocket to the East of Minsk by the 3rd and 1st Belarusian fronts. Some 105,000 German troops were killed, dispersed or captured by July 11, marking the liberation of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. To commemorate this event and as a sign of recognition and gratitude to “the Great Generation”, the people of Belarus have made July 3 their national holiday: the Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus. The Operation Bagration irreversibly turned the tide of World War II, and the speed and ferocity with which the Germans once embarked upon implementation of their Barbarossa project, meant to subjugate and partially eradicate the “Slavic hordes” inhabiting vast expanses of the Soviet Union, turned against them. The military-political and strategic importance of the Belarusian Operation cannot be possibly overstated. In fact, it became a decisive battle of World War II. Whatever hopes for survival which the Third Reich leaders harbored evaporated, leaving no doubt as to the fate of nazi Germany. The Wehrmacht’s Army Group Center – a reliable strategic foundation which supported the German military domination of Eastern Europe as well as western and central parts of the Soviet Union over the previous three years – ceased to exist. German losses, all in all, amounted to 350,000 killed, wounded or captured. From among 97 divisions and 13 separate brigades which had seen action throughout the operation, 17 divisions and three brigades were destroyed completely, another 50 divisions lost between 60 and 70 per cent of their manpower. By mid-August 1944, the Soviet Army arrived at Vistula and seized near approaches to East Prussia thus liberating the whole of today’s Belarus territory, major parts of Lithuania as well as considerable areas in Eastern Poland. In a number of respects, Bagration shaped the overall success of the Allied landing (Operation Overlord) and subsequent battles fought by the Americans and British in Normandy. Pressed to stem the Soviet military tide in the East, Hitler was compelled to divert his strategic reserves (most élite tank divisions) from Western Europe, forces which otherwise could have largely complicated the eastward Allied advance from the Atlantic coast and Italy. As to the overall combat manpower and equipment employed in both offensives as well as damage caused to the enemy, Bagration by far surpassed Operation Overlord. By the time the Western front came about in 1944, Hitler “honored” the Allies by deploying some 53 armored and infantry divisions against them. To cope with the Soviets in the East, the German High Command had to muster 180 divisions. 70 per cent of nearly five-million German soldiers KIA during World War II perished at the Eastern front. Over the course of the Great Patriotic War, some 27-million Soviet troops and civilians lost their lives. Every one in four out of 10-million of Belarus’ population perished in that fight against fascism in Europe.