Stalin's ten blows: Wikis

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Soviet gains, mid-1943 to end of 1944.

Stalin's ten blows (Also Stalin's ten victories, Ten victories of the Red Army) is a term for ten successful strategic offensives conducted by the Red Army in 1944. The Soviet offensives drove the Axis forces back from positions held near Leningrad, Belarus, and Ukraine to Poland and Central Europe.

Contents

History of the expression

The term was heard for the first time in November 1944 from Joseph Stalin in his speech "27th anniversary of the Great October socialist revolution" (Russian: «27-я годовщина Великой Октябрьской социалистической революции») during the 1944 meeting of the Moscow's Soviet deputies.[1] The term was coined as a reflection of the "cult of personality" that prevailed in Soviet Union at the time. It did not reflect specific strategic planning of the Stavka, and at times had been called the "Year of twelve victories," based on the order issued by Stalin on the following day, authorizing the firing of artillery salutes with 24 guns in twelve cities of the Soviet Union:[2] Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Petrozavodsk, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnus, Kishinev, Tbilisi, Sevastopol, and Lvov.[3]

The term was discontinued in use after Nikita Khrushchev's Secret speech denouncing Stalin and ending his "cult of personality" following his death.

Background

After the collapse of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, the Soviet counter-offensives and the Battle of Kursk later in 1943, it became apparent that the tide of war was turning against Germany. Soviet forces were, all along the front, approaching the pre-war border. Partly because of Fuhrer Directive 51, which funneled all new men and materials to the Western Front, to meet the expected Allied Invasion, issued on 3 November, 1943, Axis forces along the Eastern Front were severely inadequately equipped in comparison to their Soviet opponents, reinforcements were rare, and reserves were stretched thin.[4] Although in this directive Hitler implied that he might be willing to allow withdraws, trading space for time, this proved to be false.[5] This, combined with Hitler's insistence on holding onto captured territory at all costs, made Soviet victories in 1944 nearly inevitable.[6]

Comparison of German and Soviet forces, January 1944.
Soviet Axis
Personnel 6.5 million[6] 4.3 million[6]
Tanks 5600[6] 2300[6]
Field Guns 90000[6] 54000[6]
Aircraft 8800[6] 3000[6]

The offensives

  1. Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive (14 January - 1 March, 1944). This, the second chronologically of the offensives, fully relieved the siege of Leningrad, which had started on August 30, 1941. Although the Germans resisted fiercely at first, having had years to prepare defensive rings including pillboxes and minefields around Leningrad, once the initial defenses were broken Soviet forces easily reached the border of Estonia. In Stalin's speech he called it the Lifting of the Leningrad Blockade. It was conducted by the Leningrad Front and the Volkhov Front.[7][8]
  2. Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive (24 December 1943 - 17 April 1944). This offensive was launched on Christmas Eve, 1943, the first chronologically of the 1944 offensives, but the second mentioned in Stalin's speech. It involved the clearing of Axis forces from Ukraine. It also resulted in the isolation of the German-controlled Crimea. It was called the Liberation of the Right-Bank Ukraine in Stalin's speech, and involved the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts, and the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts.[9][10]
  3. Odessa Offensive (26 March 1944 - 14 April 1944) which begun the third blow, and the Crimean Offensive (8 April - 12 May, 1944) which completed it. Even though militarily the Odessa Offensive was included in the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, Stalin grouped it with the Crimean Offensive in his speech. This offensive cleared the Crimea of German and Romanian forces, and recaptured Sevastapol. Adolf Hitler had refused to allow Axis forces to evacuate, believing that retention of the Crimea was vital to maintaining Turkish neutrality. The Red Army attacked over the Perekop Isthmus, and quickly drove the German and Romanian forces back to Sevastopol, which surrendered on 8 May. Although Hitler had finally given permission for evacuation, the majority of soldiers were unable to escape in time and surrendered and went into captivity. Due to heavy casualties suffered by the Romanian forces, this battle was a major factor in the Romanian surrender later in 1944. Stalin called it the Liberation of Odessa and Liberation of the Crimea in his speech. It was conducted by the 4th Ukrainian Front.[11]
  4. Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive (9 June - 9 August, 1944). This offensive against Finland recaptured the Karelian Isthmus and Vyborg. Planned as a diversion to draw German forces and attention away from Army Group Center in the run-up to Operation Bagration[citation needed], the result was a stalemate: even though the Soviets captured East Karelia and took Vyborg (Viipuri), they did not achieve their objective of the Kymi River and the destruction of the Finnish army. Stalin dubbed it the Liberation of Karelia-Finland Soviet Republic. It was carried out by the Leningrad Front and the Karelian Front.[10][12]
  5. Operation Bagration (22 June - 29 August, 1944) Started exactly three years after the invasion of the Soviet Union, and named after Pyotr Bagration, a Georgian prince fighting for the Russian Empire during the Napoleonic Wars, this drove the last remaining German forces from Soviet territory, recapturing Belarus. It inflicted extremely heavy casualties upon the German Army Group Center, to the point of being called "The Destruction of Army Group Center," and was undoubtedly one of Germany's worst defeats of the war. Soviet forces advanced past the Bobruisk-Mogilev-Vitebsk line, and nearly reached Warsaw before stopping. Almost 30 German divisions were encircled near Minsk, and the prewar border of East Prussia was reached. Stalin called the operation the Belorussian Operation, and liberation of Lithuania and significant parts of allied Poland, and advance to the borders of Germany." It was conducted by the 1st Baltic Front, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Belorussian Fronts.[10][13]
  6. Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive (13 July - 29 August, 1944). This offensive to the south of and concurrent to Operation Bagration advanced through Poland and past the Bug River. Although it made little progress at first, eventually it became successful, capturing Brody, Lvov, and Sandomierz. Called the Liberation of western Ukraine and crossing of the Vistula, it was carried out by the 1st Ukrainian Front,[14] and, in conjunction with Operation Bagration, destroyed the German Army Group Centre[15]
  7. Jassy–Kishinev Offensive (19 August - 14 October, 1944). This offensive includes the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, from 20 to 29 August, and its follow-ups, which continued well into October. This offensive and its follow-ups were mainly conducted in the Balkans, and were targeted at German and Romanian formations in Army Group South Ukraine. About 15 or 16 German divisions were encircled with several Romanian divisions during the course of the Soviet advance. These operations directly caused the capitulation of Romania and Bulgaria[citation needed]. It decimated the formations of Army Group South Ukraine, and Soviet forces advanced deep into Romania. In Stalin's speech, he referred to it as the Forcing out of the war of Romania and Bulgaria, advancing to the borders of Hungary, and the possibility of offering assistance to allied Yugoslavia. It was carried out by the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts.[10][16]
  8. Baltic Offensive (14 September - 20 November, 1944). Recapturing the Baltic states, including most of Latvia and Estonia, this offensive isolated the Courland Pocket, where 30 divisions of Army Group North were cut off from Army Group Center till the end of the war in Europe. Stalin's speech called the offensive the Liberation of Estonia and Latvia, surrounding of Germans in Courland, and forced exit of Finland from the war. The Leningrad Front and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Baltic Fronts carried out this attack.[14]
  9. East Carpathian Offensive (8 September 1944 - 28 September 1944), Budapest Offensive (29 October, 1944 - 13 February 1945), and the Belgrade Offensive (14 September 1944 - 24 November 1944). These, the final of the 1944 offensives, resulted in the capture of Budapest on 13 February 1945. Budapest was surrounded by Soviet forces on 26 December, 1944, and was captured after months of brutal street fighting. The three offensives were regarded and planned as a single continuous strategic advance that was also imbued with great political significance due to the participation of the Yugoslav communist forces in its final phase. Stalin called it the crossing of the Carpathian mountains, liberation of Belgrade and offering of direct help to Czechoslovakia, destruction of the Budapest group of Axis forces, and Liberation of Belgrade. It was conducted by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts.[17]
  10. Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive (7 October - 29 October, 1944). This, the first and only large-scale Arctic military operation[18] started after German forces did not evacuate from Finnish territory by 15 September, as dictated in the terms of the Moscow Armistice. It involved Soviet forces chasing retreating Germans into Norway, and was very successful for the Soviet Union. It led to the occupation of the nickel mines in Pechenga, which had been producing metal vital for the German war effort. Stalin called it the Removal of the threat from German forces to the Soviet northern shipping port of Murmansk and entry into Norway. It was conducted primarily by the Karelian Front, with assistance from Soviet naval forces.[18]

Controversy

According to the European Court of Human Rights,[19] , the United Nations Human Rights Council [20], the governments of the Baltic countries,[21][22] the United States,[23] and the European Union,[24] the three Baltic states were occupied by the Soviet Union. The Russian government and state officials, however, maintain that the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states was legitimate because the countries were liberated from the German occupation.[25]
Also, there have been extensive allegations of war crimes committed by advancing Soviet forces, including abuse of prisoners[26], rape, looting, murder, and arson.[27]

Notes

  1. ^ [1]27-я ГОДОВЩИНА ВЕЛИКОЙ ОКТЯБРЬСКОЙ СОЦИАЛИСТИЧЕСКОЙ РЕВОЛЮЦИИ Доклад Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны на торжественном заседании Московского Совета депутатов трудящихся с партийными и общественными организациями г. Москвы 6 ноября 1944 года
  2. ^ Приказ Верховного Главнокомандующего 7 ноября 1944 года И. Сталин о Великой Отечественной войне Советского Союза. — М.: Госполитиздат, 1946
  3. ^ Willmott, p. 368
  4. ^ Ziemke, p. 216
  5. ^ Ziemke, p. 217
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pimlott, p. 330
  7. ^ Willmott, p. 369 - 371
  8. ^ Werth 1964, p. 764
  9. ^ Willmott, p. 372 - 374
  10. ^ a b c d Werth, p. 775
  11. ^ Pimlott, p. 334
  12. ^ Pimlott, p. 343
  13. ^ Pimlott, p. 336
  14. ^ a b Pimlott, p. 338
  15. ^ McCarthy, Peter. pp. 232
  16. ^ Pimlott, p. 341
  17. ^ Willmott, p. 391
  18. ^ a b Willmott, p. 387
  19. ^ European Court of Human Rights cases on Occupation of Baltic States
  20. ^ UNITED NATIONS Human Rights Council Report
  21. ^ The Occupation of Latvia at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia
  22. ^ Estonia says Soviet occupation justifies it staying away from Moscow celebrations - Pravda.Ru
  23. ^ U.S.-Baltic Relations: Celebrating 85 Years of Friendship at state.gov
  24. ^ Motion for a resolution on the Situation in Estonia by EU
  25. ^ Russia denies Baltic 'occupation' by BBC News
  26. ^ Pimlott, p. 332
  27. ^ Pimlott, p. 337

References

Further reading

  • Beshanov, V., Stalin's ten blows, Minsk, Harvest, 2004 (Бешанов В. Десять сталинских ударов. — Мн.: Харвест, 2004.)
  • Yemelyanov, Yu., Stalin's ten blows: triumph of the generalissimo, Moscow, Eksmo, 2006 (Емельянов Ю. Десять сталинских ударов. Триумф генералиссимуса — М.: Эксмо, 2006. ISBN 5-699-18353-1)
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