The Third Reich's last week is often described as a lightly contested race between the Allied and Soviet armies to see who could secure the most territory. The reality was anything but so simple. What many Americans don't appreciate is that the vicious fighting characterizing the Nazi-Soviet conflict continued well past the official end of the war. As we approach the 70 year anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe's let's remember why many of the combatants at that time hardly felt like celebrating once the Nazi's finally surrendered.
Early in December 1941 German led Axis forces had driven to the gates of Moscow. However, the Red Army counter-attacked their overextended enemy. Soviet armies drove the Wehrmacht and its Axis allies back across the entirety of the front, and put the nail in Operation Barbarossa's coffin. Nevertheless, by early in January 1942 most of the initial Soviet counterstrokes had fizzled to a halt, and for good reason.
In just over six months of warfare the Soviet Union had lost control over 40 percent of its population, a third of its heavy industry, and staggering military losses reaching nearly 5
As we approach the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising I thought it would be appropriate to set the stage for the brave but doomed efforts of the Polish Resistance to free their city from Nazi occupation. Late in July of 1944 and as the Red Army approached Warsaw's outskirts it must have seemed as if the Soviet war machine was unstoppable. Alas, this would prove not to be true.
Even though much of the blame for the failure of the Polish Resistance to overcome their Nazi overlords must be placed at Stalin's feet (with his decision to not raise a finger to help the courageous resistance
On March 4th Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front, including the 3rd Guards Tank Army and 4th Tank Army, attacked German Army Group South's left wing and forged numerous penetrations in German defensive lines already heavily weakened following the battle for the Korsun pocket.
Throughout the winter of 1943-1944 Stavka maintained a relentless pace, consistently ordering up sequential offensives that never allowed the Germans to effectively regroup and build up reserves. In the late winter and early spring of 1944 the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ukrainian Fronts, in opposition to German forces situated in the Western Ukraine, launched a massive series of offensives that would run along the breadth of the German defensive line south of the Pripet Marshes all the way to the Black Sea.
The 1941-45 war fought between Germany and Russia ranks as the bloodiest war fought in human history. Yet, in spite of this historically significant and horrific distinction, modern descriptions of the war often remain grounded in myth or distortion.