Operation Bagration

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Gerard, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    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.
    Owen and stolpi like this.
  2. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Nice Post Gotthard, good information. I didn't know a huge amount about Operation Bagration so thanks for enlightening me.
  3. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    It will be interesting to see what David Glantz has to say about Bagration when he publishes the third volume of his "Colossus" trilogy, which will cover 1944-45.

    He did write about it in the 1990s in "When Titans Clashed" (with House), but I imagine he has done a lot more research since them.
  4. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    When is that book out Angie? I would be interested in picking that one up.

    As for the article, Gnomey, well I did think it was particularly enlightening especially when you consider that Bagration compeltely eclipsed Overlord in terms of well Everything and yet little is known about it. to say the Wehrmacht got hammered is somewhat of an understatement. It compeltely obliterated Army Group Center from the face of the earth and cut off Army Group North. No, there is no doubt that the Eastern Front was the graveyard of the Wehrmacht.
  5. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by Gotthard Heinrici@Oct 5 2005, 12:53 PM
    When is that book out Angie? I would be interested in picking that one up.
    [post=39764]Quoted post[/post]

    Could be a while. The second volume, "Colossus Reborn", covering 1941-43, was only published this year.
  6. laufer

    laufer Senior Member

  7. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Excellent Article Laufer An interesting read alright and very informative.
  8. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Very interesting article Laufer.
  9. JeremyScott

    JeremyScott Junior Member

    I guess it was Barbarossa in reverse.
  10. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Also check out "Hitler's Greatest Defeat," by Donald Adair.
  11. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I shall indeed Kiwi and thanks for that recommendation!
  12. mrya

    mrya Junior Member

    Yeah, yeah it was a disastrous defeat for the Wehrmacht and etc.

    But it didn't change the tide of war......

    IMHO, the tide of war changed much earlier than many historians claim...
  13. spidge


    Pleae don't keep us guessing!

    Share your thoughts!
  14. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Just came across this link to Bagration and noticed the picture. pretty miserable sods knowing the fate that was in store for them: OPERATION BAGRATION
  15. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    i agree with mrya,the course of ww2 had already changed.lee.
  16. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I would also concur with this. But I think Bagration brought it home to the Germans that they werent going to be able to hold the Russians in the East. any clear-thinking German knew that their homeland was going to be overrun and those in the know realised that there was going to be severe retribution for what had happened in Russia since 1941.
  17. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Just reading about the number of German Generals lost in Operation Bagration, here is a list as per "German Defeat in the East".

    3rd Panzer Army

    Lt Gen Floerke 14th Pnzer Div KIA
    Maj Gen Michaelis 95th Inf. Div KIA
    Maj Gen Gollwitzer LII Corps Captured
    Maj Gen Mueller- Buelow 246th Inf Div Captured
    Lt. Gen Pistorious 4th Luftwaffe Field Div KIA
    Lt Gen Peschel 6th Luftwaffe Field Div KIA
    Lt. Gen Hitter 206th Inf Div Captured
    Gen of Artillery Pfeiffer VI Corps KIA
    Col. Hahne 197th Infantry Div Missing in Action
    Maj Gen Von Juncke 299th Inf Division Missing in Action
    Maj Gen Wuestenhagen 256th Inf Division KIA

    4th Army

    Gen Artillery Martinek XXXIX Pnzer Corps KIA
    Lt Gen Von Kurowski 110 Inf Division Captured
    Lt Gen Schuenemann 337th Inf Division KIA
    Lt Gen Bamler 12th Infantry Div Captured
    Lt Gen Ochsner 31st Infantry Div Captured
    Lt Gen Mueller XII Corps Captured
    Lt Gen Zutavern 18th Pnzer Gren Div Suicide
    Lt Gen Drescher 267th Inf Div KIA
    Maj Gen Trowitz 57th Inf Div Captured
    Gen of Infantry Voelckers XXVII Corps Captured
    Lt Gen Traut 78th Assault Division Captured
    Maj Gen Klammt 260th Inf Div Captured

    9th Army

    Maj Gen Schmidt 9th Army Engineer Commander Captured
    Lt Gen Baron von Luetzow XXXV Corps Captured
    Lt Gen Phillipp 134 Inf Div Suicide
    Maj Gen Heyne 6th Infantry Div Captured
    Maj Gen Hamann 383 Inf Div KIA
    Maj Gen Engel 45th Inf Div Captured
    Lt Gen Hoffmeister XXXXI Corps Captured
    Maj Gen Conrady 36th Inf Div Captured

    2nd Army

    Colonel Baron Von Wolff 3rd Cav Brig KIA
    Lt Col Baron von Boeslager 3rd Cav Brig KIA


    Maj Gen Gihr 707th Inf Div Captured
    Maj Gen von Steinkeller 60th Pz Gdr Div Captured
    Lt Gen Scheller Brest -Litovsk Garrison KIA
    Col Baron von Monteton 3rd Panzer Army weapons school KIA

    Given that they were killed or captured it is highly unlikely that their staffs escaped either. That is some loss of Command structure.
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I think that after the defeat at Stalingrad, the writing was on the wall for the German War Machine.

    With such military manpower and machinery available it was inevitable who was going to win.

  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I'm always staggered by the likely figure of 963 German officers of General rank and above that died in wartime. We had a little chat about it here a while back and it seems that's a reasonable figure.
  20. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The series of photos of the mass column of POWs being marched through Moscow led by captured Generals is witness to the totality of the victory celebrated by the Soviet Union.
    It has been said that Stalingrad was the defeat which said that germany might lose the war in the east and the defeat at Kursk assured them that they would lose the war itself.

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