Eastern Front (World War II)

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Eastern Front (World War II)
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{{Redirect|Great Patriotic War|a discussion of the term itself|Great Patriotic War (term)|the episode of The Americans|The Great Patriotic War (The Americans)}}{{Distinguish|Patriotic War of 1812}}{{Use dmy dates|date=August 2019}}

)| place = Europe east of Germany: Central and Eastern Europe, in later stages Germany and AustriaCentral Europe>Central, Eastern Europe, Northeastern Europe>Northeastern and Southeastern Europe and establishes pro-Soviet Communist state Puppet state>puppet governments in countries including People's Republic of Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic>Czechoslovakia, Hungarian People's Republic, Polish People's Republic>Poland, Romanian People's Republic, and East Germany>Eastern Germany. Axis powers>Axis:{hide}plainlist|
  • {{flagcountry|Nazi Germany|1935{edih}Germany's allies, in total, provided a significant number of troops and material to the front. There were also numerous foreign units recruited by Germany, including the Spanish Blue Division and the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism.
  • {{flagcountry|Kingdom of Italy}} (until 1943)
  • {{flagcountry|Kingdom of Romania}} (until 1944)
  • {{flagcountry|Kingdom of Hungary (1920–46)}}Hungary had been independent through out the war until 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary due to suspicions of the Hungarians joining the Allies and reliance on its oil fields. From there Hungary became a German puppet state until the end of the war.
  • {{flagcountry|Slovak Republic (1939–1945)|name=Slovakia}}
  • {{flagcountry|Independent State of Croatia|name=Croatia}}
  • {{flag|Finland{edih} (until 1944)}}
Allies of World War II>Allies:{hide}plainlist|
  • {{flag|Soviet Union|1936{edih}
  • {{flagdeco|Poland|1928}} Poland
  • {{flagdeco|Czechoslovakia}} Czechoslovakia (from 1943)
  • {{flagdeco|Democratic Federal Yugoslavia}} Yugoslavia (from 1944)}}
Former Axis powers or co-belligerents:{hide}plainlist|
  • {{flagcountry|Kingdom of Romania{edih} (from 1944)
  • {{flagicon image|Flag of the Bulgarian Homeland Front.svg}} Bulgaria (from 1944)
  • {{flag|Finland}} (From 1944)}}
Aerial and Naval support:{hide}plainlist| }}
  • 19413,767,000 troops
  • 19423,720,000 troops
  • 19433,933,000 troops
  • 19443,370,000 troops
  • 19451,960,000 troops{edih}
  • 1941(Front) 2,680,000 troops
  • 1942(Front) 5,313,000 troops
  • 1943(Front) 6,724,000 troops
  • 19446,800,000 troops
  • 19456,410,000 troops{edih}
Eastern Front (World War II)#Casualties>below.Eastern Front (World War II)#Casualties>below.| notes = }}{{Campaignbox World War II}}{{Campaignbox Axis–Soviet War}}{{History of the Soviet Union}}The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (USSR), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War (,Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna) in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front (),WEB,weblink Die Ostfront 1941–1945,,weblink" title="">weblink 28 September 2007, dead, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.WEB, Glantz, David M., The Failures of Historiography: Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War (1941–1945),weblink Foreign Military Studies Office, 16 January 2017, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 16 December 2016, The battles on the Eastern Front of the Second World War constituted the largest military confrontation in history.WEB,weblink World War II: The Eastern Front, 18 September 2011, The Atlantic, 26 November 2014, They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, starvation, exposure, disease, and massacres. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and the majority of pogroms, was central to the Holocaust. Of the estimated 70–85 million deaths attributed to World War II around 30 million occurred on the Eastern Front. The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome in the European theatre of operations in World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis nations.{{Harvnb|Bellamy|2007|p=xix}}: "That conflict, which ended sixty years before this book’s completion, was a decisive component – arguably the single most decisive component – of the Second World War. It was on the eastern front, between 1941 and 1945, that the greater part of the land and associated air forces of Nazi Germany and its Axis partners were ultimately destroyed by the Soviet Union in what, from 1944, its people – and those of the fifteen successor states – called, and still call, the Great Patriotic War"W. Churchill: "Red Army decided the fate of German militarism". Source: Correspondence of the Council of Ministers of the USSR with the U.S. Presidents and Prime Ministers of Great Britain during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945., V. 2. M., 1976, pp. 204Norman Davies: "Since 75%–80% of all German losses were inflicted on the eastern front it follows that the efforts of the Western allies accounted for only 20%–25%". Source: Sunday Times, 5 November 2006.The two principal belligerent powers were Germany and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies. Though never engaged in military action in the Eastern Front, the United States and the United Kingdom both provided substantial material aid in the form of the Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union. The joint German–Finnish operations across the northernmost Finnish–Soviet border and in the Murmansk region are considered part of the Eastern Front. In addition, the Soviet–Finnish Continuation War may also be considered the northern flank of the Eastern Front.


{{See also|Anschluss|Munich Agreement|Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact}}Germany and the Soviet Union remained unsatisfied with the outcome of World War I (1914–1918). Soviet Russia had lost substantial territory in Eastern Europe as a result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), where the Bolsheviks in Petrograd conceded to German demands and ceded control of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and other areas, to the Central Powers. Subsequently, when Germany in its turn surrendered to the Allies (November 1918) and these territories were liberated under the terms of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 at Versailles, Soviet Russia was in the midst of a civil war and the Allies did not recognize the Bolshevik government, so no Soviet Russian representation attended.BOOK, Donald Hankey, The Supreme Control at the Paris Peace Conference 1919 (Routledge Revivals): A Commentary,weblink 3 June 2015, Routledge, 978-1-317-56756-1, 50, Adolf Hitler had declared his intention to invade the Soviet Union on 11 August 1939 to Carl Jacob Burckhardt, League of Nations Commissioner, by saying:Everything I undertake is directed against the Russians. If the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, then I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then after their defeat turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine so that they can't starve us out, as happened in the last war.BOOK, The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II, Nagorski, Andrew, Simon & Schuster, 2007, 978-0-7432-8111-9, Amazon, The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed in August 1939 was a non-aggression agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union. It contained a secret protocol aiming to return Central Europe to the pre–World War I status quo by dividing it between Germany and the Soviet Union. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would return to the Soviet control, while Poland and Romania would be divided.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}} The Eastern Front was also made possible by the German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement in which the Soviet Union gave Germany the resources necessary to launch military operations in Eastern Europe.BOOK, Ericson, Edward, Feeding the German Eagle: Soviet Military Aid to Nazi Germany, 1933–1941, Greenwood Publishing Group, 0-275-96337-3, 34–35, 1999, On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. On 17 September, the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland, and, as a result, Poland was partitioned among Germany, the Soviet Union and Lithuania. Soon after that, the Soviet Union demanded significant territorial concessions from Finland, and after Finland rejected Soviet demands, the Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939 in what became known as the Winter War – a bitter conflict that resulted in a peace treaty on 13 March 1940, with Finland maintaining its independence but losing its eastern parts in Karelia.In June 1940 the Soviet Union occupied and illegally annexed the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).BOOK, Mälksoo, Lauri, 2003, Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR, Leiden, Boston, Brill, 90-411-2177-3, The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact ostensibly provided security to the Soviets in the occupation both of the Baltics and of the north and northeastern regions of Romania (Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, June–July 1940), although Hitler, in announcing the invasion of the Soviet Union, cited the Soviet annexations of Baltic and Romanian territory as having violated Germany's understanding of the Pact. Moscow partitioned the annexed Romanian territory between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics.


German ideology

Adolf Hitler had argued in his autobiography Mein Kampf (1925) for the necessity of Lebensraum ("living space"): acquiring new territory for Germans in Eastern Europe, in particular in Russia."We National Socialists consciously draw a line under the direction of our foreign policy war. We begin where we ended six centuries ago. We stop the perpetual Germanic march towards the south and west of Europe, and have the view on the country in the east. We finally put the colonial and commercial policy of the pre-war and go over to the territorial policy of the future. But if we speak today in Europe of new land, we can primarily only to Russia and the border states subjects him think." Charles Long, 1965: The term 'habitat' in Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' (pdf, 12 Seiten; 695 kB) He envisaged settling Germans there, as according to Nazi ideology the Germanic people constituted the "master race", while exterminating or deporting most of the existing inhabitants to Siberia and using the remainder as slave labour.JOURNAL, Robert, Gellately, Reviewed work(s): Vom Generalplan Ost zum Generalsiedlungsplan by Czeslaw Madajczyk; Der "Generalplan Ost." Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Planungs- und Vernichtungspolitik by Mechtild Rössler and Sabine Schleiermacher, Central European History, 29, 2, 270–274, June 1996, 4546609, 10.1017/S0008938900013170, Hitler as early as 1917 had referred to the Russians as inferior, believing that the Bolshevik Revolution had put the Jews in power over the mass of Slavs, who were, in Hitler's opinion, incapable of ruling themselves but instead being ruled by Jewish masters.BOOK, Megargee, Geoffrey P., Geoffrey Megargee, War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941,weblink 2007, Rowman & Littlefield, 978-0-7425-4482-6, 4, The Nazi leadership, (including Heinrich Himmler)WEB
, Speech of the Reichsfuehrer-SS at the meeting of SS Major-Generals at Posen 4 October 1943
, Heinrich Himmler
, Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. IV. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp. 616–634
, Stuart Stein, University of the West of England.
, Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death … interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur ...
, dead
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2 March 2009
, dmy-all
, saw the war against the Soviet Union as a struggle between the ideologies of Nazism and Jewish Bolshevism, and ensuring territorial expansion for the Germanic Übermensch (superhumans), who according to Nazi ideology were the Aryan Herrenvolk ("master race"), at the expense of the Slavic Untermenschen (subhumans).JOURNAL, John, Connelly, Nazis and Slavs: From Racial Theory to Racist Practice, Central European History, 32, 1, 1–33, 1999, 4546842, 10.1017/S0008938900020628, Wehrmacht officers told their troops to target people who were described as "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood" and the "red beast".BOOK, Evans, Richard J., In Hitler's Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past,weblink 1989, Pantheon Books, 978-0-394-57686-2, 59–60, The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, seeing the Soviet enemy as sub-human.BOOK, Förster, Jürgen, Jürgen Förster, 2005, Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 127, Hitler referred to the war in radical terms, calling it a "war of annihilation" (Vernichtungskrieg) which was both an ideological and racial war. The Nazi vision for the future of Eastern Europe was codified most clearly in the Generalplan Ost. The populations of occupied Central Europe and the Soviet Union were to be partially deported to West Siberia, enslaved and eventually exterminated; the conquered territories were to be colonized by German or "Germanized" settlers.JOURNAL, Jonathan, Steinberg, The Third Reich Reflected: German Civil Administration in the Occupied Soviet Union, 1941–4, The English Historical Review, 110, 437, 620–651, June 1995, 578338, 10.1093/ehr/CX.437.620, In addition, the Nazis also sought to wipe out the large Jewish population of Central and Eastern EuropeWEB,weblink 5 January 2009, The Wannsee Protocol, Literature of the Holocaust, University of Pennsylvania, citing BOOK, John, Mendelsohn, The Wannsee Protocol and a 1944 Report on Auschwitz by the Office of Strategic Services, Volume 11, The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, New York, Garland, 1982, 18–32, as part of their program aiming to exterminate all European Jews.JOURNAL, Christian, Gerlach, Christian Gerlach, The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler's Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews, The Journal of Modern History, 70, 4, December 1998, 759–812, 10.1086/235167,weblink After Germany's initial success at the Battle of Kiev in 1941, Hitler saw the Soviet Union as militarily weak and ripe for immediate conquest. In a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast on 3 October, he announced, "We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down."{{Internet Archive film | youtube-KFiOi_UnX98 | Adolf Hitler's Speech on Operation Barbarossa }} Thus, Germany expected another short Blitzkrieg and made no serious preparations for prolonged warfare. However, following the decisive Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943 and the resulting dire German military situation, Nazi propaganda began to portray the war as a German defence of Western civilization against destruction by the vast "Bolshevik hordes" that were pouring into Europe.

Soviet situation

{{See also|Great Purge|Purge of the Red Army in 1941|Spanish Civil War|Battles of Khalkhin Gol}}File:Жуков и Тимошенко, 1940 год.jpg|thumb|left|Semyon Timoshenko and Georgy ZhukovGeorgy ZhukovThroughout the 1930s the Soviet Union underwent massive industrialization and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Stalin's central tenet, "Socialism in One Country", manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Plans from 1929 onwards. This represented an ideological shift in Soviet policy, away from its commitment to the international communist revolution, and eventually leading to the dissolution of the Comintern (Third International) organization in 1943. The Soviet Union started a process of militarization with the 1st Five-Year Plan that officially began in 1928, although it was only towards the end of the 2nd Five-Year Plan in the mid-1930s that military power became the primary focus of Soviet industrialization.BOOK, Hill, Alexander, 2016, The Red Army and the Second World War, UK, Cambridge University Press, 978-1107020795, 34–44, harv, In February 1936 the Spanish general election brought many communist leaders into the Popular Front government in the Second Spanish Republic, but in a matter of months a right-wing military coup initiated the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939. This conflict soon took on the characteristics of a proxy war involving the Soviet Union and left wing volunteers from different countries on the side of the predominantly socialist and communist-ledBOOK, Bolloten, Burnett, The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution,weblink 2015, University of North Carolina Press, 978-1-4696-2447-1, 483, 1991, Second Spanish Republic;BOOK, Jurado, Carlos Caballero, The Condor Legion: German Troops in the Spanish Civil War,weblink 2013, Bloomsbury Publishing, 978-1-4728-0716-8, 5–6, while Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Portuguese Republic took the side of Spanish Nationalists, the military rebel group led by General Francisco Franco.BOOK, Lind, Michael, Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict,weblink 2002, Simon and Schuster, 978-0-684-87027-4, 59, It served as a useful testing ground for both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to experiment with equipment and tactics that they would later employ on a wider scale in the Second World War.Germany, which was an anti-communist régime, formalized its ideological position on 25 November 1936 by signing the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan.BOOK, Weinberg, Gerhard L., Gerhard Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933–36,weblink 1970, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-391-03825-7, 346, Fascist Italy joined the Pact a year later.BOOK, Spector, Robert Melvin, World Without Civilization: Mass Murder and the Holocaust, History and Analysis,weblink 2005, University Press of America, 978-0-7618-2963-8, 257, The German Anschluss of Austria in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia (1938–1939) demonstrated the impossibility of establishing a collective security system in Europe,JOURNAL, Max, Beloff, Soviet Foreign Policy, 1929–41: Some Notes, Soviet Studies, 2, 2, 1950, 123–137, 10.1080/09668135008409773, a policy advocated by the Soviet ministry of foreign affairs under Maxim Litvinov.JOURNAL, Albert Resis, Albert, Resis, The Fall of Litvinov: Harbinger of the German–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, Europe-Asia Studies, 52, 1, 2000, 33–56, 10.1080/09668130098253, JOURNAL, Teddy J., Uldricks, Stalin and Nazi Germany, Slavic Review, 36, 4, 1977, 599–603, 10.2307/2495264, 2495264, This, as well as the reluctance of the British and French governments to sign a full-scale anti-German political and military alliance with the USSR,JOURNAL, Michael Jabara, Carley, End of the 'Low, Dishonest Decade': Failure of the Anglo–Franco–Soviet Alliance in 1939, Europe-Asia Studies, 45, 2, 1993, 303–341, 10.1080/09668139308412091, led to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany in late August 1939.JOURNAL, Derek, Watson, Molotov's Apprenticeship in Foreign Policy: The Triple Alliance Negotiations in 1939, Europe-Asia Studies, 52, 4, 2000, 695–722, 10.1080/713663077, The separate Tripartite Pact between what became the three prime Axis Powers would not be signed until some four years after the Anti-Comintern Pact.


{{See also|Aufbau Ost (1940)|Lossberg study}}File:Europe before Operation Barbarossa, 1941 (in German).png|thumb|upright=1.05|left|Situation in Europe by May/June 1941, immediately before Operation BarbarossaOperation BarbarossaThe war was fought between Nazi Germany, its allies and Finland, against the Soviet Union and its allies. The conflict began on 22 June 1941 with the Operation Barbarossa offensive, when Axis forces crossed the borders described in the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact, thereby invading the Soviet Union. The war ended on 9 May 1945, when Germany's armed forces surrendered unconditionally following the Battle of Berlin (also known as the Berlin Offensive), a strategic operation executed by the Red Army.The states that provided forces and other resources for the German war effort included the Axis Powers – primarily Romania, Hungary, Italy, pro-Nazi Slovakia, and Croatia. Anti-Soviet Finland, which had fought the Winter War against the Soviet Union, also joined the offensive. The Wehrmacht forces were also assisted by anti-Communist partisans in places like Western Ukraine, and the Baltic states. Among the most prominent volunteer army formations was the Spanish Blue Division, sent by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to keep his ties to the Axis intact.BOOK, Stanley G. Payne, The Franco Regime, 1936–1975,weblink 27 September 2011, University of Wisconsin Pres, 978-0-299-11073-4, 282, The Soviet Union offered support to the partisans in many Wehrmacht-occupied countries in Central Europe, notably those in Slovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia. In addition, the Polish Armed Forces in the East, particularly the First and Second Polish armies, were armed and trained, and would eventually fight alongside the Red Army. The Free French forces also contributed to the Red Army by the formation of the GC3 (Groupe de Chasse 3 or 3rd Fighter Group) unit to fulfil the commitment of Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French, who thought that it was important for French servicemen to serve on all fronts.{| class="wikitable"weblink second, Modern War Studies, 2015, University Press of Kansas, 978-0-7006-2121-7, 301–303, {{sfn|Glantz|1998|p=107}}{{sfn|Glantz|House|1995|p=68}}!style="width: 10%;"|Date!style="width: 45%;"|Axis forces!style="width: 45%;"|Soviet forces3,767,000 in the east (80% of the German Army) >| 2,680,000 active in Western Military Districts out of 5,500,000 (overall); 12,000,000 mobilizable reserves3,720,000 in the east (80% of the German Army)>| 5,313,000 (front); 383,000 (hospital)Total: 9,350,0003,933,000 in the east (63% of the German Army)>| 6,724,000 (front); 446,445 (hospital);Total: 10,300,0003,370,000 in the east (62% of the German Army)>| 6,425,0002,330,000 in the east (60% of the German Army) >| 6,532,000 (360,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)1,960,000 (66% of the German Army)>| 6,410,000 (450,000 Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Czechs)The above figures includes all personnel in the German Army, i.e. active-duty Heer, Waffen SS, Luftwaffe ground forces, personnel of the naval coastal artillery and security units.CONFERENCE, Glantz, David M., The Soviet-German War, 1941–1945: Myths and Realities, Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, Clemson University, 11 October 2001,weblink 2 September 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 8 April 2016, dead, WEB, Askey, Nigel, The Myth of German Superiority on the WW2 Eastern Front, 30 October 2017,,weblink For example, my own extensive study of German forces in 1941 (Volume IIA and IIB of 'Operation Barbarossa: the complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis') shows the entire German force on the Eastern Front (up to 4 July 1941) had around 3,359,000 men (page 74, Vol IIB). This includes around 87,600 in the Northern Norway command (Bef. Fin.), and 238,700 in OKH Reserve units (some of which had not yet arrived in the East). It includes all personnel in the German Army (including the security units), Waffen SS, Luftwaffe ground forces and even naval coastal artillery (in the East). This figure compares very well with the figure in the table (around 3,119,000) derived from Earl Ziemke’s book (which is used as the Axis source in the chart), In the spring of 1940, Germany had mobilized 5,500,000 men.BOOK, Frieser, Karl-Heinz, 1995, Blitzkrieg-Legende: Der Westfeldzug 1940, Operationen des Zweiten Weltkrieges, The Blitzkrieg Legend, German, München, R. Oldenbourg, 43, By the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht consisted of c, 3,800,000 men of the Heer, 1,680,000 of the Luftwaffe, 404,000 of the Kriegsmarine, 150,000 of the Waffen-SS, and 1,200,000 of the Replacement Army (contained 450,400 active reservists, 550,000 new recruits and 204,000 in administrative services, vigiles and or in convalescence). The Wehrmacht had a total strength of 7,234,000 men by 1941. For Operation Barbarossa, Germany mobilized 3,300,000 troops of the Heer, 150,000 of the Waffen-SSBOOK, Muller-Hillebrand, Burkhart, Das Heer 1933–1945: Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues. Die Blitzfeldzüge 1939–1941,weblink Volume 2, 1956, Mittler & Sohn, 102, and approximately 250,000 personnel of the Luftwaffe were actively earmarked.BOOK, Post, Walter, Unternehmen Barbarossa: deutsche und sowjetische Angriffspläne 1940/41,weblink 2001, E.S. Mittler, 978-3-8132-0772-9, 249, By July 1943, the Wehrmacht numbered 6,815,000 troops. Of these, 3,900,000 were deployed in eastern Europe, 180,000 in Finland, 315,000 in Norway, 110,000 in Denmark, 1,370,000 in western Europe, 330,000 in Italy, and 610,000 in the Balkans.Materialien zum Vortrag des Chefs des Wehrmachtführungsstabes vom 7.11.1943 "Die strategische Lage am Anfang des fünften Kriegsjahres", (referenced to KTB OKW, IV, S. 1534 ff.) According to a presentation by Alfred Jodl, the Wehrmacht was up to 7,849,000 personnel in April 1944. 3,878,000 were deployed in eastern Europe, 311,000 in Norway/Denmark, 1,873,000 in western Europe, 961,000 in Italy, and 826,000 in the Balkans."Strategische Lage im Frühjahr 1944", Jodl, Vortrag 5 May 1944. (referenced to BA-MA, N69/18.) About 15–20% of total German strength were foreign troops (from allied countries or conquered territories). The German high water mark was just before Battle of Kursk, in early July 1943: 3,403,000 German troops and 650,000 Finnish, Hungarian, Romanian and other countries troops.{{sfn|Glantz|1998|p=107}}{{sfn|Glantz|House|1995|p=68}}For nearly two years the border was quiet while Germany conquered Denmark, Norway, France, the Low Countries, and the Balkans. Hitler had always intended to renege on his pact with the Soviet Union, eventually making the decision to invade in the spring of 1941.Some historians say Stalin was fearful of war with Germany, or just did not expect Germany to start a two-front war, and was reluctant to do anything to provoke Hitler. Others say that Stalin was eager for Germany to be at war with capitalist countries. Another viewpoint is that Stalin expected war in 1942 (the time when all his preparations would be complete) and stubbornly refused to believe its early arrival.BOOK, Hardesty, Von, Red Phoenix: The Rise of Soviet Air Power, 1941–1945,weblink 1982, Smithsonian Institution Press, 978-0-87474-510-8, 16, (File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-219-0595-05, Russland-Mitte-Süd, Infanteristen.jpg|thumb|German infantry in Russia, June 1943)British historians Alan S. Milward and M. Medlicott show that Nazi Germany—unlike Imperial Germany—was prepared for only a short-term war (Blitzkrieg).JOURNAL, A. S., Milward, The End of the Blitzkrieg, The Economic History Review, 16, 3, 1964, 499–518, 10.1111/j.1468-0289.1964.tb01744.x, According to Edward Ericson, although Germany's own resources were sufficient for the victories in the West in 1940, massive Soviet shipments obtained during a short period of Nazi–Soviet economic collaboration were critical for Germany to launch Operation Barbarossa.JOURNAL, Edward E., III, Ericson, Karl Schnurre and the Evolution of Nazi–Soviet Relations, 1936–1941, German Studies Review, 21, 2, 1998, 263–283, 1432205, 10.2307/1432205, Germany had been assembling very large numbers of troops in eastern Poland and making repeated reconnaissance flights over the border; the Soviet Union responded by assembling its divisions on its western border, although the Soviet mobilization was slower than Germany's due to the country's less dense road network. As in the Sino-Soviet conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway or Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, Soviet troops on the western border received a directive, signed by Marshal Semyon Timoshenko and General of the Army Georgy Zhukov, that ordered (as demanded by Stalin): "do not answer to any provocations" and "do not undertake any (offensive) actions without specific orders" – which meant that Soviet troops could open fire only on their soil and forbade counter-attack on German soil. The German invasion therefore caught the Soviet military and civilian leadership largely by surprise.The extent of warnings received by Stalin about a German invasion is controversial, and the claim that there was a warning that "Germany will attack on 22 June without declaration of war" has been dismissed as a "popular myth". However, some sources quoted in the articles on Soviet spies Richard Sorge and Willi Lehmann, say they had sent warnings of an attack on 20 or 22 June, which were treated as "disinformation". The Lucy spy ring in Switzerland also sent warnings, possibly deriving from Ultra codebreaking in Britain.Soviet intelligence was fooled by German disinformation, so sent false alarms to Moscow about a German invasion in April, May and the beginning of June. Soviet intelligence reported that Germany would rather invade the USSR after the fall of the British EmpireSource: L. E. Reshin, "Year of 1941", vol. 1, p. 508. or after an unacceptable ultimatum demanding German occupation of Ukraine during the German invasion of Britain.Source: L. E. Reshin, "Year of 1941", vol. 2, p. 152.

Foreign support and measures

A strategic air offensive by the United States Army Air Force and Royal Air Force played a significant part in reducing German industry and tying up German air force and air defence resources, with some bombings, such as the bombing of the eastern German city of Dresden, being done to facilitate specific Soviet operational goals. In addition to Germany, hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped on their eastern allies of Romania and Hungary, primarily in an attempt to cripple Romanian oil production.British and Commonwealth forces also contributed directly to the fighting on the Eastern Front through their service in the Arctic convoys and training Red Air Force pilots, as well as in the provision of early material and intelligence support.{| class="wikitable floatright"|+Allied shipments to the Soviet UnionHans-Adolf Jacobsen: 1939–1945, Der Zweite Weltkrieg in Chronik und Dokumenten. Darmstadt 1961, p. 568. (German Language)class="hintergrundfarbe6"!Year!Amount(tons)!%class="hintergrundfarbe2"1941360,7782.1class="hintergrundfarbe2"19422,453,09714class="hintergrundfarbe2"19434,794,54527.4class="hintergrundfarbe2"19446,217,62235.5class="hintergrundfarbe2"19453,673,81921class="hintergrundfarbe2"Total17,499,861100

Soviet Union

Among other goods, Lend-Lease supplied:BOOK, Weeks, Albert L., Russia's Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II,weblink 2004, Lexington Books, 978-0-7391-6054-1, {{rp|8–9}}
  • 58% of the USSR's high octane aviation fuel
  • 33% of their motor vehicles
  • 53% of USSR domestic production of expended ordnance (artillery shells, mines, assorted explosives)
  • 30% of fighters and bombers
  • 93% of railway equipment (locomotives, freight cars, wide gauge rails, etc.)
  • 50–80% of rolled steel, cable, lead, and aluminium
  • 43% of garage facilities (building materials & blueprints)
  • 12% of tanks and SPGs
  • 50% of TNT (1942–1944) and 33% of ammunition powder (in 1944)"Interview with Historian Alexei Isaev" (in Russian). "In 1944, we received about one third of the ammunition powder from the Lend-lease. Almost half of TNT (the main explosive filler for most kinds of ammunition) or raw materials for its production came from abroad in 1942–44."
  • 16% of all explosives (from 1941–1945, the USSR produced 505,000 tons of explosives and received 105,000 tons of Lend-Lease imports)Ivan Ivanovich Vernidub, Boepripasy pobedy, 1998
Lend-Lease aid of military hardware, components and goods to the Soviet Union constituted to 20% percent of the assistance.{{rp|122}} Rest were foodstuff, nonferrous metals (e.g. copper, magnesium, nickel, zinc, lead, tin, aluminium), chemical substances, petroleum (high octane aviation gasoline) and factory machinery. The aid of production-line equipment and machinery were crucial and helped to maintain adequate levels of Soviet armament production during the entire war.{{rp|122}} In addition, the USSR received wartime innovations including penicillin, radar, rocket, precision-bombing technology, the long-range navigation system Loran, and many other innovations.{{rp|123}}Of the 800,000 tons of nonferrous metals shipped,{{rp|124}} about 350,000 tons were aluminium.{{rp|135}} The shipment of aluminium not only represented double the amount of metal that Germany possessed, but also composed the bulk of aluminum that was used in manufacture of Soviet aircraft, that had fallen in critically short supply.{{rp|135}} Soviet statistics show, that without these shipments of aluminium, aircraft production would have been less than one-half (or about 45,000 less) of the total 137,000 produced aircraft.{{rp|135}}Stalin noted in 1944, that two-thirds of Soviet heavy industry had been built with the help of the United States, and the remaining one-third, with the help from other Western nations such as Great Britain and Canada.{{rp|129}} The massive transfer of equipment and skilled personnel from occupied territories helped further to boost the economic base.{{rp|129}} Without Lend-Lease aid, Soviet Union's diminished post invasion economic base would not have produced adequate supplies of weaponry, other than focus on machine tool, foodstuff and consumer goods{{Clarify|date=June 2019}}.{{rp|129}}In the last year of war, lend-lease data show that about 5.1 million tons of foodstuff left the United States for the Soviet Union.{{rp|123}} It is estimated that all the food supplies sent to Russia could feed a 12,000,000-man strong army half pound of concentrated food per day, for the entire duration of the war.{{rp|122–3}}The total lend-lease aid during the second World War had been estimated between $42–50 billion.{{rp|128}} The Soviet Union received shipments in war materials, military equipment and other supplies worth of $12,5 billions, about a quarter of the U.S. lend-lease aid provided to other allied countries.{{rp|123}} However, post-war negotiations to settle all the debt were never concluded,{{rp|133}} and as of date, the debt issues is still on in future American-Russian summits and talks.{{rp|133–4}}Prof. Dr. Albert L. Weeks conclude: 'As to attempts to sum up the importance of those four-year-long shipments of Lend-Lease for the Russian victory on the Eastern Front in World War II, the jury is still out – that is, in any definitve sense of establishing exactly how crucial this aid was.'{{rp|123}}

Nazi Germany

File:Europe under Nazi domination.png|thumb|300px|EuropeEuropeGermany's economic, scientific, research and industrial capabilities were one of the most technically advanced in the world at the time. However, access to (and control of) the resources, raw materials and production capacity required to entertain long-term goals (such as European control, German territorial expansion and the destruction of the USSR) were limited. Political demands necessitated the expansion of Germany's control of natural and human resources, industrial capacity and farmland beyond its borders (conquered territories). Germany's military production was tied to resources outside its area of control, a dynamic not found amongst the Allies.During the war, as Germany acquired new territories (either by direct annexation or by installing puppet governments in defeated countries), these new territories were forced to sell raw materials and agricultural products to German buyers at extremely low prices. Two-thirds of all French trains in 1941 were used to carry goods to Germany. Norway lost 20% of its national income in 1940 and 40% in 1943.{{sfn|Braun|1990|p=121}} Axis allies such as Romania and Italy, Hungary, Finland, Croatia and Bulgaria benefited from Germany's net imports. Overall, France made the largest contribution to the German war effort. In 1943–44, French payments to Germany may have risen to as much as 55% of French GDP.The economics of the war with Nazi Germany Overall, Germany imported 20% of its food and 33% of its raw materials from conquered territories and Axis alliesweblink 27 May 1940, Germany signed the "Oil Pact" with Romania, by which Germany would trade arms for oil. Romania's oil production amounted to approximately 6,000,000 tons annually. This production represents 35% of the total fuel production of the Axis including the synthetic products and the substitutes and 70% of the total production of crude oil.A History of Romanian Oil, Vol. II, p. 245 In 1941, Germany only had 18% of the oil it had in peacetime. Romania supplied Germany and its allies with roughly 13 million barrels of oil (about 4 million per year) between 1941 and 1943. Germany's peak oil production in 1944 amounted to about 12 million barrels of oil per yearweblink Karlbom estimated that Swedish share of Germany's total consumption of iron may have amounted to 43% during the period of 1933–43. It may also likely that 'Swedish ore formed the raw material of four out of every ten German guns' during the Hitler era'.Swedish iron ore exports to Germany, 1933–44. Rolf Karlbom

Forced labour

The use of foreign forced labour and slavery in Nazi Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II took place on an unprecedented scale.Ulrich Herbert, Hitler's Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labour in Germany under the Third Reich (1997) It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. It also contributed to the mass extermination of populations in German-occupied Europe. The Nazi Germans abducted approximately 12 million foreign people from almost twenty European countries; about two-thirds came from Central Europe and Eastern Europe.BOOK, John C. Beyer, Stephen A. Schneider, Forced Labour under Third Reich, Nathan Associates, Part1 {{Webarchive|url= |date=24 August 2015 }} and Part 2 {{Webarchive|url= |date=3 April 2017 }}. Counting deaths and turnover, about 15 million men and women were forced labourers at one point during the war.Panikos Panayi, "Exploitation, Criminality, Resistance. The Everyday Life of Foreign Workers and Prisoners of War in the German Town of Osnabrück, 1939–49," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 40, No. 3 (Jul. 2005), pp. 483–502 in JSTOR For example, 1.5 million French soldiers were kept in POW camps in Germany as hostages and forced workers and, in 1943, 600,000 French civilians were forced to move to Germany to work in war plants.Ulrich Herbert, "Forced Laborers in the 'Third Reich'", International Labor and Working-Class History (1997) WEB,weblink Archived copy, 20 May 2008, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 April 2008, The defeat of Germany in 1945 freed approximately 11 million foreigners (categorized as "displaced persons"), most of whom were forced labourers and POWs. In wartime, the German forces had brought into the Reich 6.5 million civilians in addition to Soviet POWs for unfree labour in factories.{{r|BeyerSchneider}} In all, 5.2 million foreign workers and POWs were repatriated to the Soviet Union, 1.6 million to Poland, 1.5 million to France, and 900,000 to Italy, along with 300,000 to 400,000 each to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Belgium.William I. Hitchcock, The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Cost of Allied Victory in World War II Europe (2008), pp 250–56

Conduct of operations

File:22jun1941.jpg|thumb|A map of the South Western Front (Ukrainian) at 22 June 1941]]While German historians do not apply any specific periodisation to the conduct of operations on the Eastern Front, all Soviet and Russian historians divide the war against Germany and its allies into three periods, which are further subdivided into eight major campaigns of the Theatre of war:AV MEDIA, Glantz, David M., COL (Ret), David Glantz, The Soviet–German War, 1941–1945: Myths and Realities, United States Army War College, 25 March 2010, YouTube,weblink
  • First period () (22 June 1941 – 18 November 1942)
  • Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1941 () (22 June – 4 December 1941)
  • Winter Campaign of 1941–42 () (5 December 1941 – 30 April 1942)
  • Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1942 () (1 May – 18 November 1942)
  • Second period () (19 November 1942 – 31 December 1943)
  • Winter Campaign of 1942–43 () (19 November 1942 – 3 March 1943)
  • Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1943 () (1 July – 31 December 1943)
  • Third period () (1 January 1944 – 9 May 1945)
  • Winter–Spring Campaign () (1 January – 31 May 1944)
  • Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1944 () (1 June – 31 December 1944)
  • Campaign in Europe during 1945 () (1 January – 9 May 1945)
  • Operation Barbarossa: Summer 1941

    File:Eastern Front 1941-06 to 1941-12.png|thumb|Operation Barbarossa: the German invasion of the (Soviet Union]], 21 June 1941 to 5 December 1941:{{legend|#fff8d5|to 9 July 1941}}{{legend|#ffd2b9|to 1 September 1941}}{{legend|#ebd7ff|to 9 September 1941}}{{legend|#ccffcd|to 5 December 1941}})Operation Barbarossa began just before dawn on 22 June 1941. The Germans cut the wire network in all Soviet western military districts to undermine Red Army's communications.BOOK, Zhukov, Georgy, Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya, Agenstvo pechati Novosti, 1972, Moscow, Panicky transmissions from the Soviet front-line units to their command headquarters were picked up like this: "We are being fired upon. What shall we do?" The answer was just as confusing: "You must be insane. And why is your signal not in code?"BOOK, Regan, Geoffrey, Military Anecdotes,weblink 1992, Andre Deutsch, 978-0-233-05077-5, 210, At 03:15 on 22 June 1941, 99 of 190 German divisions, including fourteen panzer divisions and ten motorized, were deployed against the Soviet Union from the Baltic to the Black Sea. They were accompanied by ten Romanian divisions, three Italian divisions, two Slovakian divisions and nine Romanian and four Hungarian brigades.BOOK, Zhilin, P.A. (ed.), Velikaya Otechestvennaya voyna, Izdatelstvo politicheskoi literatury, 1973, Moscow, On the same day, the Baltic, Western and Kiev Special military districts were renamed the Northwestern, Western and Southwestern Fronts respectively.To establish air supremacy, the Luftwaffe began immediate attacks on Soviet airfields, destroying much of the forward-deployed Soviet Air Force airfield fleets consisting of largely obsolescent types before their pilots had a chance to leave the ground.Shirer (1990), p.852 For a month the offensive conducted on three axes was completely unstoppable as the panzer forces encircled hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops in huge pockets that were then reduced by slower-moving infantry armies while the panzers continued the offensive, following the Blitzkrieg doctrine.Army Group North's objective was Leningrad via the Baltic states. Comprising the 16th and 18th Armies and the 4th Panzer Group, this formation advanced through the Baltic states, and the Russian Pskov and Novgorod regions. Local insurgents seized the moment and controlled most of Lithuania, northern Latvia and southern Estonia prior to the arrival of the German forces.JOURNAL, Riho, Rõngelep, Michael Hesselholt, Clemmesen, Tartu in the 1941 Summer War, Baltic Defence Review, January 2003, 9, 1, BOOK, Peeter Kaasik, Mika Raudvassar, 2006, 495–517, Estonia from June to October, 1941: Forest Brothers and Summer War, Toomas Hiio, Meelis Maripuu, Indrek Paavle, Estonia 1940–1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, Tallinn, Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, File:Victims of Soviet NKVD in Lvov, June 1941.jpg|thumb|The corpses of victims of Stalin's NKVDNKVDArmy Group Centre's two panzer groups (the 2nd and 3rd), advanced to the north and south of Brest-Litovsk and converged east of Minsk, followed by the 2nd, 4th, and 9th Armies. The combined panzer force reached the Beresina River in just six days, {{convert|650|km|mi|abbr=on}} from their start lines. The next objective was to cross the Dnieper river, which was accomplished by 11 July. Their next target was Smolensk, which fell on 16 July, but the fierce Soviet resistance in the Smolensk area and slowing of the Wehrmacht advance by the North and South Army Groups forced Hitler to halt a central thrust at Moscow and to divert the 3rd Panzer Group north. Critically, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group was ordered to move south in a giant pincer maneuver with Army Group South which was advancing into Ukraine. Army Group Centre's infantry divisions were left relatively unsupported by armor to continue their slow advance to Moscow.JOURNAL, Alan F., Wilt, Hitler's Late Summer Pause in 1941, The Journal of Military History, Military Affairs, 45, 4, 187–191, December 1981, 1987464, 10.2307/1987464, This decision caused a severe leadership crisis. The German field commanders argued for an immediate offensive towards Moscow, but Hitler overruled them, citing the importance of Ukrainian agricultural, mining and industrial resources, as well as the massing of Soviet reserves in the Gomel area between Army Group Centre's southern flank and the bogged-down Army Group South's northern flank. This decision, Hitler's "summer pause", is believed to have had a severe impact on the Battle of Moscow's outcome, by slowing down the advance on Moscow in favor of encircling large numbers of Soviet troops around Kiev.JOURNAL, Russel H. S., Stolfi, Barbarossa Revisited: A Critical Reappraisal of the Opening Stages of the Russo-German Campaign (June–December 1941), The Journal of Modern History, 54, 1, 27–46, March 1982, 1906049, 10.1086/244076, Army Group South, with the 1st Panzer Group, the 6th, 11th and 17th Armies, was tasked with advancing through Galicia and into Ukraine. Their progress, however, was rather slow, and they took heavy casualties in a major tank battle. At the beginning of July, the Third and Fourth Romanian Armies, aided by elements of the German 11th Army, fought their way through Bessarabia towards Odessa. The 1st Panzer Group turned away from Kiev for the moment, advancing into the Dnieper bend (western Dnipropetrovsk Oblast). When it joined up with the southern elements of Army Group South at Uman, the Group captured about 100,000 Soviet prisoners in a huge encirclement. Advancing armored divisions of the Army Group South met with Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group near Lokhvytsa in mid September, cutting off large numbers of Red Army troops in the pocket east of Kiev. 400,000 Soviet prisoners were captured as Kiev was surrendered on 19 September.File:RIAN archive 137811 Children during air raid.jpg|thumb|Soviet children during a German air raid in the first days of the war, June 1941, by RIA NovostiRIA NovostiAs the Red Army withdrew behind the Dnieper and Dvina rivers, the Soviet Stavka (high command) turned its attention to evacuating as much of the western regions' industry as it could. Factories were dismantled and transported on flatcars away from the front line for re-establishment in more remote areas of the Ural Mountains, Caucasus, Central Asia and south-eastern Siberia. Most civilians were left to make their own way east, with only industry-related workers evacuated with the equipment; much of the population was left behind to the mercy of the invading forces.Stalin ordered the retreating Red Army to initiate a scorched-earth policy to deny the Germans and their allies basic supplies as they advanced eastward. To carry out that order, destruction battalions were formed in front-line areas, having the authority to summarily execute any suspicious person. The destruction battalions burned down villages, schools, and public buildings.BOOK, (:et:Indrek Paavle, Indrek Paavle), Peeter Kaasik, 2006, 469–493, Destruction battalions in Estonia in 1941, (:et:Toomas Hiio, Toomas Hiio), Meelis Maripuu, Indrek Paavle, Estonia 1940–1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, Tallinn, Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, As a part of this policy, the NKVD massacred thousands of anti-Soviet prisoners.BOOK, Gellately, Robert, Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe,weblink 2007, Alfred A. Knopf, 978-1-4000-4005-6, 391,

    Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov: Autumn 1941

    File:Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-149-34A, Russland, Herausziehen eines Autos.jpg|thumb|Wehrmacht soldiers pulling a car from the mud during the rasputitsarasputitsaHitler then decided to resume the advance on Moscow, re-designating the panzer groups as panzer armies for the occasion. Operation Typhoon, which was set in motion on 30 September, saw the 2nd Panzer Army rush along the paved road from Oryol (captured 5 October) to the Oka River at Plavsk, while the 4th Panzer Army (transferred from Army Group North to Centre) and 3rd Panzer armies surrounded the Soviet forces in two huge pockets at Vyazma and Bryansk.BOOK, Second World War, Gilbert, Martin, Martin Gilbert, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989, 0-297-79616-X, London, 242–3,weblink Army Group North positioned itself in front of Leningrad and attempted to cut the rail link at Mga to the east.BOOK, Total War, Calvocoressi, Peter, Wint, Guy, Penguin, 1972, Harmandsworth, England, 179, This began the 900-day Siege of Leningrad. North of the Arctic Circle, a German–Finnish force set out for Murmansk but could get no further than the Zapadnaya Litsa River, where they settled down.BOOK, Hitler's arctic war : the German campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940–1945, Chris., Mann, 2002, Allan, Jörgensen, Christer., 0711028990, Surrey, 58342844, 81–86, Army Group South pushed down from the Dnieper to the Sea of Azov coast, also advancing through Kharkov, Kursk, and Stalino. The combined German and Romanian forces moved into the Crimea and took control of all of the peninsula by autumn (except Sevastopol, which held out until 3 July 1942). On 21 November, the Wehrmacht took Rostov, the gateway to the Caucasus. However, the German lines were over-extended and the Soviet defenders counterattacked the 1st Panzer Army's spearhead from the north, forcing them to pull out of the city and behind the Mius River; the first significant German withdrawal of the war.BOOK, Stopped at Stalingrad, Hayward, Joel, University Press of Kansas, 1998, 0-7006-1146-0, Lawrence, Kansas, 10–11, BOOK, History of the Second World War, Liddell Hart, B. H., Cassell, 1970, 0-330-23770-5, London, 176, File:Romanian flags at Odessa.jpg|thumb|Two Romanian soldiers hoist national flags above OdessaOdessaThe onset of the winter freeze saw one last German lunge that opened on 15 November, when the Wehrmacht attempted to encircle Moscow. On 27 November, the 4th Panzer Army got to within {{convert|30|km|mi|abbr=on}} of the Kremlin when it reached the last tramstop of the Moscow line at Khimki. Meanwhile, the 2nd Panzer Army failed to take Tula, the last Soviet city that stood in its way to the capital. After a meeting held in Orsha between the head of the OKH (Army General Staff), General Franz Halder and the heads of three Army groups and armies, decided to push forward to Moscow since it was better, as argued by the head of Army Group Center, Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, for them to try their luck on the battlefield rather than just sit and wait while their opponent gathered more strength.BOOK, Barbarossa, Clark, Alan, Cassell, 1965, 0-304-35864-9, London, 172–180, However, by 6 December it became clear that the Wehrmacht did not have the strength to capture Moscow, and the attack was suspended. Marshal Shaposhnikov thus began his counter-attack, employing freshly mobilized reserves,JOURNAL, Louis, Rotundo, The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 Campaign, Military Affairs, 50, 1, 21–28, January 1986, 1988530, 10.2307/1988530, as well as some well-trained Far-Eastern divisions transferred from the east following intelligence that Japan would remain neutral.BOOK, Blood, Tears and Folly, Deighton, Len, Pimlico, 1993, 0-7126-6226-X, London, 479,

    Soviet counter-offensive: Winter 1941

    (File:Eastern Front 1941-12 to 1942-05.png|thumb|The Soviet winter counter-offensive, 5 December 1941 to 7 May 1942:{{legend|#ffd2b9|Soviet gains}} {{legend|#ccffcd|German gains}})The Soviet counter-offensive during the Battle of Moscow had removed the immediate German threat to the city. According to Zhukov, "the success of the December counter-offensive in the central strategic direction was considerable. Having suffered a major defeat the German striking forces of Army Group Centre were retreating." Stalin's objective in January 1942 was "to deny the Germans any breathing space, to drive them westward without let-up, to make them use up their reserves before spring comes..."BOOK, Zhukov, Georgy, Marshal of Victory, Volume II, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., 1974, 9781781592915, 52–53, The main blow was to be delivered by a double envelopment orchestrated by the Northwestern Front, the Kalinin Front and the Western Front. The overall objective according to Zhukov was the "subsequent encirclement and destruction of the enemy's main forces in the area of Rzhev, Vyazma and Smolensk. The Leningrad Front, the Volkhov Front and the right wing forces of the Northwestern Front were to rout the Army Group North." The Southwestern Front and Southern Front were to defeat the Army Group South. The Caucasian Front and Black Sea Fleet were to take back the Crimea.{{rp|53}}The 20th Army, part of the 1st Shock Army, the 22nd Tank Brigade and five ski battalions launched their attack on 10 January 1942. By 17 January, the Soviets had captured Lotoshino and Shakhovskaya. By 20 January, the 5th and 33rd armies had captured Ruza, Dorokhovo, Mozhaisk and Vereya, while the 43rd and 49th armies were at Domanovo.{{rp|58–59}}The Wehrmacht rallied, retaining a salient at Rzhev. A Soviet parachute drop by two battalions of the 201st Airborne Brigade and the 250th Airborne Regiment on 18 and 22 January was designed to "cut off enemy communications with the rear." Lt.-Gen. Mikhail Grigoryevich Yefremov's 33rd Army aided by Gen. Belov's 1st Cavalry Corps and Soviet Partisans attempted to seize Vyazma. This force was joined by additional paratroopers of the 8th Airborne Brigade at the end of January. However, in early February, the Germans managed to cut off this force, separating the Soviets from their main force in the rear of the Germans. They were supplied by air until April when they were given permission to regain the Soviet main lines. Only part of Belov's Cavalry Corps made it to safety however, while Yefremov's men fought "a losing battle."{{rp|59–62}}By April 1942, the Soviet Supreme Command agreed to assume the defensive so as to "consolidate the captured ground." According to Zhukov, "During the winter offensive, the forces of the Western Front had advanced from 70 to 100 km, which somewhat improved the overall operational and strategic situation on the Western sector."{{rp|64}}To the north, the Red Army surrounded a German garrison in Demyansk, which held out with air supply for four months, and established themselves in front of Kholm, Velizh, and Velikie Luki.Further north still, the Soviet Second Shock Army was unleashed on the Volkhov River. Initially this made some progress; however, it was unsupported, and by June a German counterattack cut off and destroyed the army. The Soviet commander, Lieutenant General Andrey Vlasov, later defected to Germany and formed the ROA or Russian Liberation Army.In the south the Red Army lunged over the Donets River at Izyum and drove a {{convert|100|km|mi|abbr=on}} deep salient. The intent was to pin Army Group South against the Sea of Azov, but as the winter eased the Wehrmacht counter-attacked and cut off the over-extended Soviet troops in the Second Battle of Kharkov.

    Don, Volga, and Caucasus: Summer 1942

    {{unreferenced section|date=March 2015}}File:Eastern Front 1942-05 to 1942-11.png|thumb|(Operation Blue]]: German advances from 7 May 1942 to 18 November 1942:{{legend|#fff8d5|to 7 July 1942}}{{legend|#ffd2b9|to 22 July 1942}}{{legend|#ebd7ff|to 1 August 1942}}{{legend|#ccffcd|to 18 November 1942}})Although plans were made to attack Moscow again, on 28 June 1942, the offensive re-opened in a different direction. Army Group South took the initiative, anchoring the front with the Battle of Voronezh and then following the Don river southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and Volga first and then drive into the Caucasus towards the oil fields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on 24 July when the 1st Panzer Army joined in, and then that group drove south towards Maikop. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of Brandenburger commandos dressed up as Soviet NKVD troops to destabilise Maikop's defences and allow the 1st Panzer Army to enter the oil town with little opposition.Meanwhile, the 6th Army was driving towards Stalingrad, for a long period unsupported by 4th Panzer Army, which had been diverted to help 1st Panzer Army cross the Don. By the time the 4th Panzer Army had rejoined the Stalingrad offensive Soviet resistance (comprising the 62nd Army under Vasily Chuikov) had stiffened. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on 23 August but for the next three months the Wehrmacht would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street.Towards the south, the 1st Panzer Army had reached the Caucasian foothills and the Malka River. At the end of August Romanian mountain troops joined the Caucasian spearhead, while the Romanian 3rd and 4th armies were redeployed from their successful task of clearing the Azov littoral. They took up position on either side of Stalingrad to free German troops for the main offensive. Mindful of the continuing antagonism between Axis allies Romania and Hungary over Transylvania, the Romanian army in the Don bend was separated from the Hungarian 2nd army by the Italian 8th Army. Thus, all of Hitler's allies were involved – including a Slovakian contingent with the 1st Panzer Army and a Croatian regiment attached to 6th Army.The advance into the Caucasus bogged down, with the Germans unable to fight their way past Malgobek and to the main prize of Grozny. Instead, they switched the direction of their advance to approach it from the south, crossing the Malka at the end of October and entering North Ossetia. In the first week of November, on the outskirts of Ordzhonikidze, the 13th Panzer Division's spearhead was snipped off and the panzer troops had to fall back. The offensive into Russia was over.

    Stalingrad: Winter 1942

    File:Eastern Front 1942-11 to 1943-03.png|thumb|Operations Uranus, Saturn and (Operation Mars|Mars]]: Soviet advances on the Eastern Front, 18 November 1942 to March 1943:{{legend|#fff8d5|to 12 December 1942}}{{legend|#ffd2b9|to 18 February 1943}}{{legend|#ccffcd|to March 1943 (Soviet gains only)}})While the German 6th and 4th Panzer Armies had been fighting their way into Stalingrad, Soviet armies had congregated on either side of the city, specifically into the Don bridgeheads, and it was from these that they struck in November 1942. In Operation Uranus started on 19 November, two Soviet fronts punched through the Romanian lines and converged at Kalach on 23 November, trapping 300,000 Axis troops behind them.Shirer (1990), p.925–926 A simultaneous offensive on the Rzhev sector known as Operation Mars was supposed to advance to Smolensk, but was a costly failure, with German tactical defences preventing any breakthrough.File:USSROfficerTT33.JPG|thumb|left|upright|A Soviet junior political officer (Politruk) urges Soviet troops forward against German positions (12 July 1942).]]File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B28822, Russland, Kampf um Stalingrad, Infanterie.jpg|thumb|German infantry and a supporting StuG III assault gun during the advance towards Stalingrad, September 1942]]The Germans rushed to transfer troops to the Soviet Union in a desperate attempt to relieve Stalingrad, but the offensive could not get going until 12 December, by which time the 6th Army in Stalingrad was starving and too weak to break out towards it. Operation Winter Storm, with three transferred panzer divisions, got going briskly from Kotelnikovo towards the Aksai river but became bogged down {{convert|65|km|mi|abbr=on}} short of its goal. To divert the rescue attempt, the Red Army decided to smash the Italians and come down behind the relief attempt if they could; that operation starting on 16 December. What it did accomplish was to destroy many of the aircraft that had been transporting relief supplies to Stalingrad. The fairly limited scope of the Soviet offensive, although still eventually targeted on Rostov, also allowed Hitler time to see sense and pull Army Group A out of the Caucasus and back over the Don.Shirer (1990), p.927–928On 31 January 1943, the 90,000 survivors of the 300,000-man 6th Army surrendered. By that time the Hungarian 2nd Army had also been wiped out. The Red Army advanced from the Don {{convert|500|km|mi|abbr=on}} to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk (retaken on 8 February 1943) and Kharkov (retaken 16 February 1943). In order to save the position in the south, the Germans decided to abandon the Rzhev salient in February, freeing enough troops to make a successful riposte in eastern Ukraine. Manstein's counteroffensive, strengthened by a specially trained SS Panzer Corps equipped with Tiger tanks, opened on 20 February 1943 and fought its way from Poltava back into Kharkov in the third week of March, when the spring thaw intervened.This left a glaring Soviet bulge (salient) in the front centered on Kursk.

    Kursk: Summer 1943

    {{unreferenced section|date=March 2015}}(File:RIAN archive 997 Soldiers and a gun on the road.jpg|left|upright|thumb|Soviet soldiers and 45mm gun on the road, 1 August 1943)File:Eastern Front 1943-02 to 1943-08.png|thumb|German advances at Kharkov and (Battle of Kursk|Kursk]], 19 February 1943 to 1 August 1943:{{legend|#ffd2b9|to 18 March 1943}}{{legend|#ccffcd|to 1 August 1943}})After the failure of the attempt to capture Stalingrad, Hitler had delegated planning authority for the upcoming campaign season to the German Army High Command and reinstated Heinz Guderian to a prominent role, this time as Inspector of Panzer Troops. Debate among the General Staff was polarised, with even Hitler nervous about any attempt to pinch off the Kursk salient. He knew that in the intervening six months the Soviet position at Kursk had been reinforced heavily with anti-tank guns, tank traps, landmines, barbed wire, trenches, pillboxes, artillery and mortars.JOURNAL
    , Mastny
    , Vojtech
    , Vojtech Mastny
    , Stalin and the Prospects of a Separate Peace in World War II
    , The American Historical Review
    , 77
    , 5
    , 1365–1388
    , December 1972
    , 1861311
    , 10.2307/1861311
    However, if one last great blitzkrieg offensive could be mounted, then attention could then be turned to the Allied threat to the Western Front. Certainly, the peace negotiations in April had gone nowhere. The advance would be executed from the Orel salient to the north of Kursk and from Belgorod to the south. Both wings would converge on the area east of Kursk, and by that means restore the lines of Army Group South to the exact points that it held over the winter of 1941–1942.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Merz-014-12A, Russland, Beginn Unternehmen Zitadelle, Panzer.jpg|thumb|The Battle of Prokhorovka was one of the largest tank battles ever fought. It was part of the wider alt=In the north, the entire German 9th Army had been redeployed from the Rzhev salient into the Orel salient and was to advance from Maloarkhangelsk to Kursk. But its forces could not even get past the first objective at Olkhovatka, just {{convert|8|km|mi|abbr=on}} into the advance. The 9th Army blunted its spearhead against the Soviet minefields, frustratingly so considering that the high ground there was the only natural barrier between them and flat tank country all the way to Kursk. The direction of advance was then switched to Ponyri, to the west of Olkhovatka, but the 9th Army could not break through here either and went over to the defensive. The Red Army then launched a counter-offensive, Operation Kutuzov.On 12 July the Red Army battled through the demarcation line between the 211th and 293rd divisions on the Zhizdra River and steamed towards Karachev, right behind them and behind Orel. The southern offensive, spearheaded by 4th Panzer Army, led by Gen. Col. Hoth, with three Tank Corps made more headway. Advancing on either side of the upper Donets on a narrow corridor, the II SS Panzer Corps and the Großdeutschland Panzergrenadier divisions battled their way through minefields and over comparatively high ground towards Oboyan. Stiff resistance caused a change of direction from east to west of the front, but the tanks got {{convert|25|km|mi|abbr=on}} before encountering the reserves of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army outside Prokhorovka. Battle was joined on 12 July, with about one thousand tanks being engaged.After the war, the battle near Prochorovka was idealized by Soviet historians as the largest tank battle of all time. The meeting engagement at Prochorovka was a Soviet defensive success, albeit at heavy cost. The Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army, with about 800 light and medium tanks, attacked elements of the II SS Panzer Corps. Tank losses on both sides have been the source of controversy ever since. Although the 5th Guards Tank Army did not attain its objectives, the German advance had been halted.At the end of the day both sides had fought each other to a standstill, but regardless of the German failure in the north Erich von Manstein proposed he continue the attack with the 4th Panzer Army. The Red Army started the strong offensive operation in the northern Orel salient and achieved a breakthrough on the flank of the German 9th Army. Also worried by the Allies' landing in Sicily on 10 July, Hitler made the decision to halt the offensive even as the German 9th Army was rapidly giving ground in the north. The Germans' final strategic offensive in the Soviet Union ended with their defence against a major Soviet counteroffensive that lasted into August.The Kursk offensive was the last on the scale of 1940 and 1941 that the Wehrmacht was able to launch; subsequent offensives would represent only a shadow of previous German offensive might.

    Autumn and Winter 1943–44

    {{more citations needed section|date=March 2015}}File:BM 13 TBiU 7.jpg|thumb|upright|"Katyusha" – a notable Soviet rocket launcher]]The Soviet multi-stage summer offensive started with the advance into the Orel salient. The diversion of the well-equipped Großdeutschland Division from Belgorod to Karachev could not counteract it, and the Wehrmacht began a withdrawal from Orel (retaken by the Red Army on 5 August 1943), falling back to the Hagen line in front of Bryansk. To the south, the Red Army broke through Army Group South's Belgorod positions and headed for Kharkov once again. Although intense battles of movement throughout late July and into August 1943 saw the Tigers blunting Soviet tank attacks on one axis, they were soon outflanked on another line to the west as the Soviet forces advanced down the Psel, and Kharkov was abandoned for the final time on 22 August.The German forces on the Mius, now comprising the 1st Panzer Army and a reconstituted 6th Army, were by August too weak to repulse a Soviet attack on their own front, and when the Red Army hit them they retreated all the way through the Donbass industrial region to the Dnieper, losing half the farmland that Germany had invaded the Soviet Union to exploit. At this time Hitler agreed to a general withdrawal to the Dnieper line, along which was meant to be the Ostwall, a line of defence similar to the Westwall (Siegfried Line) of fortifications along the German frontier in the west.The main problem for the Wehrmacht was that these defences had not yet been built; by the time Army Group South had evacuated eastern Ukraine and begun withdrawing across the Dnieper during September, the Soviet forces were hard behind them. Tenaciously, small units paddled their way across the {{convert|3|km|mi|abbr=on}} wide river and established bridgeheads. A second attempt by the Red Army to gain land using parachutists, mounted at Kaniv on 24 September, proved as disappointing as at Dorogobuzh eighteen months previously. The paratroopers were soon repelled – but not until still more Red Army troops had used the cover they provided to get themselves over the Dnieper and securely dug in.File:Roza Shanina.jpg|thumb|upright|Soviet sniper Roza Shanina in 1944. About 800,000 women served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the war.BOOK, Henry Sakaida, 2003, Heroines of the Soviet Union 1941–45, OspreyOspreyAs September ended and October started, the Germans found the Dnieper line impossible to hold as the Soviet bridgeheads grew. Important Dnieper towns started to fall, with Zaporozhye the first to go, followed by Dnepropetrovsk. Finally, early in November the Red Army broke out of its bridgeheads on either side of Kiev and captured the Ukrainian capital, at that time the third largest city in the Soviet Union.Eighty miles west of Kiev, the 4th Panzer Army, still convinced that the Red Army was a spent force, was able to mount a successful riposte at Zhytomyr during the middle of November, weakening the Soviet bridgehead by a daring outflanking strike mounted by the SS Panzer Corps along the river Teterev. This battle also enabled Army Group South to recapture Korosten and gain some time to rest. However, on Christmas Eve the retreat began anew when the First Ukrainian Front (renamed from the Voronezh Front) struck them in the same place. The Soviet advance continued along the railway line until the 1939 Polish–Soviet border was reached on 3 January 1944.To the south, the Second Ukrainian Front (ex Steppe Front) had crossed the Dnieper at Kremenchug and continued westwards. In the second week of January 1944 they swung north, meeting Vatutin's tank forces which had swung south from their penetration into Poland and surrounding ten German divisions at Korsun–Shevchenkovsky, west of Cherkassy. Hitler's insistence on holding the Dnieper line, even when facing the prospect of catastrophic defeat, was compounded by his conviction that the Cherkassy pocket could break out and even advance to Kiev, but Manstein was more concerned about being able to advance to the edge of the pocket and then implore the surrounded forces to break out.By 16 February the first stage was complete, with panzers separated from the contracting Cherkassy pocket only by the swollen Gniloy Tikich river. Under shellfire and pursued by Soviet tanks, the surrounded German troops, among whom were the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, fought their way across the river to safety, although at the cost of half their number and all their equipment. They assumed the Red Army would not attack again, with the spring approaching, but on 3 March the Soviet Ukrainian Front went over to the offensive. Having already isolated the Crimea by severing the Perekop isthmus, Malinovsky's forces advanced across the mud to the Romanian border, not stopping on the river Prut.(File:Eastern Front 1943-08 to 1944-12.png|thumb|Soviet advances from 1 August 1943 to 31 December 1944: {{legend|#fff8d5|to 1 December 1943}} {{legend|#ffd2b9|to 30 April 1944}} {{legend|#ebd7ff|to 19 August 1944}} {{legend|#ccffcd|to 31 December 1944}})One final move in the south completed the 1943–44 campaigning season, which had wrapped up a Soviet advance of over 500 miles. In March, 20 German divisions of Generaloberst Hans-Valentin Hube's 1st Panzer Army were encircled in what was to be known as Hube's Pocket near Kamenets-Podolskiy. After two weeks' of heavy fighting, the 1st Panzer managed to escape the pocket, at the cost of losing almost the entire heavy equipment. At this point, Hitler sacked several prominent generals, Manstein included. In April, the Red Army took back Odessa, followed by 4th Ukrainian Front's campaign to restore control over the Crimea, which culminated in the capture of Sevastopol on 10 May.Along Army Group Centre's front, August 1943 saw this force pushed back from the Hagen line slowly, ceding comparatively little territory, but the loss of Bryansk, and more importantly Smolensk, on 25 September cost the Wehrmacht the keystone of the entire German defensive system. The 4th and 9th armies and 3rd Panzer Army still held their own east of the upper Dnieper, stifling Soviet attempts to reach Vitebsk. On Army Group North's front, there was barely any fighting at all until January 1944, when out of nowhere Volkhov and Second Baltic Fronts struck.In a lightning campaign, the Germans were pushed back from Leningrad and Novgorod was captured by Soviet forces. After a 75-mile advance in January and February, the Leningrad Front had reached the borders of Estonia. To Stalin, the Baltic Sea seemed the quickest way to take the battles to the German territory in East Prussia and seize control of Finland.BOOK, Glantz, David M., David Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad: 1941–1944,weblink 2002, University Press of Kansas, 978-0-7006-1208-6, The Leningrad Front's offensives towards Tallinn, a main Baltic port, were stopped in February 1944. The German army group "Narwa" included Estonian conscripts, defending the re-establishment of Estonian independence.BOOK, The Bulletin of International News,weblink 1944, Royal Institute of International Affairs. Information Department., 825, Estonia, WEB, The Otto Tief government and the fall of Tallinn, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 September 2006,weblink

    Summer 1944

    File:Red Army greeted in Bucharest.jpg|thumb|The Red Army is greeted in BucharestBucharestFile:19440712 soviet and ak soldiers vilnius.jpg|thumb|Soviet and Polish Armia Krajowa soldiers in Vilnius, July 1944]]Wehrmacht planners were convinced that the Red Army would attack again in the south, where the front was fifty miles from Lviv and offered the most direct route to Berlin. Accordingly, they stripped troops from Army Group Centre, whose front still protruded deep into the Soviet Union. The Germans had transferred some units to France to counter the invasion of Normandy two weeks before. The Belorussian Offensive (codenamed Operation Bagration), which was agreed upon by Allies at the Tehran Conference in December 1943 and launched on 22 June 1944, was a massive Soviet attack, consisting of four Soviet army groups totaling over 120 divisions that smashed into a thinly held German line.They focused their massive attacks on Army Group Centre, not Army Group North Ukraine as the Germans had originally expected. More than 2.3 million Soviet troops went into action against German Army Group Centre, which had a strength of fewer than 800,000 men. At the points of attack, the numerical and quality advantages of the Soviet forces were overwhelming. The Red Army achieved a ratio of ten to one in tanks and seven to one in aircraft over their enemy. The Germans crumbled. The capital of Belarus, Minsk, was taken on 3 July, trapping some 100,000 Germans. Ten days later the Red Army reached the prewar Polish border. Bagration was, by any measure, one of the largest single operations of the war.By the end of August 1944, it had cost the Germans ~400,000 dead, wounded, missing and sick, from whom 160,000 were captured, as well as 2,000 tanks and 57,000 other vehicles. In the operation, the Red Army lost ~180,000 dead and missing (765,815 in total, including wounded and sick plus 5,073 Poles),BOOK, Krivosheev, G. F., Grigori F. Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century,weblink 1997, Greenhill Books, 978-1-85367-280-4, as well as 2,957 tanks and assault guns. The offensive at Estonia claimed another 480,000 Soviet soldiers, 100,000 of them classed as dead.BOOK, Mart, Laar, Sinimäed 1944: II maailmasõja lahingud Kirde-Eestis, Sinimäed Hills 1944: Battles of World War II in Northeast Estonia, Varrak, Tallinn, 2006, Estonian, BOOK, Baxter, Ian, Battle in the Baltics, 1944–45: The Fighting for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia : a Photographic History,weblink 2009, Helion, 978-1-906033-33-0, The neighbouring Lvov–Sandomierz operation was launched on 17 July 1944, with the Red Army routing the German forces in Western Ukraine and retaking Lviv. The Soviet advance in the south continued into Romania and, following a coup against the Axis-allied government of Romania on 23 August, the Red Army occupied Bucharest on 31 August. Romania and the Soviet Union signed an armistice on 12 September.{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}File:19440816 soviet soldiers attack jelgava.jpg|thumb|Soviet soldiers advance through the streets of JelgavaJelgavaThe rapid progress of Operation Bagration threatened to cut off and isolate the German units of Army Group North bitterly resisting the Soviet advance towards Tallinn. Despite a ferocious attack at the Sinimäed Hills, Estonia, the Soviet Leningrad Front failed to break through the defence of the smaller, well-fortified army detachment "Narwa" in terrain not suitable for large-scale operations.BOOK, Estonian State Commission on Examination of Policies of Repression, Vello, Salo, The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes, 1940–1991, Estonian Encyclopedia Publishers, 2005, 9985-70-195-X, 19,weblink BOOK, Hiio, Toomas, Combat in Estonia in 1944, Toomas, Hiio, Meelis, Maripuu, Indrek, Paavle, Estonia, 1940–1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity,weblink 2006, Estonian Foundation for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, Tallinn, 978-9949-13-040-5, On the Karelian Isthmus, the Red Army launched a Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive against the Finnish lines on 9 June 1944, (coordinated with the Western Allied Invasion of Normandy). Three armies were pitted there against the Finns, among them several experienced guards rifle formations. The attack breached the Finnish front line of defence in Valkeasaari on 10 June and the Finnish forces retreated to their secondary defence line, the VT-line. The Soviet attack was supported by a heavy artillery barrage, air bombardments and armoured forces. The VT-line was breached on 14 June and after a failed counterattack in Kuuterselkä by the Finnish armoured division, the Finnish defence had to be pulled back to the VKT-line. After heavy fighting in the battles of Tali-Ihantala and Ilomantsi, Finnish troops finally managed to halt the Soviet attack.{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}In Poland, as the Red Army approached, the Polish Home Army (AK) launched Operation Tempest. During the Warsaw Uprising, the Red Army were ordered to halt at the Vistula River. Whether Stalin was unable or unwilling to come to the aid of the Polish resistance is disputed.JOURNAL, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, 31 July 1993, Białe plamy wokół Powstania, Gazeta Wyborcza, 177, 13,weblink 14 May 2007, pl, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, In Slovakia, the Slovak National Uprising started as an armed struggle between German Wehrmacht forces and rebel Slovak troops between August and October 1944. It was centered at Banská Bystrica.{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}

    Autumn 1944

    File:EasternFrontMedal.jpg|thumb|upright=.6|Over three million German and Axis personnel were awarded the (Eastern Front Medal]] for service during 15 November 1941 – 15 April 1942. It was nicknamed the Gefrierfleischorden – "frozen meat-medal".BOOK, Steinhoff, Johannes, Johannes Steinhoff, Pechel, Peter, Showalter, Dennis E., Dennis Showalter, Voices from the Third Reich: An Oral History,weblink 1994, Perseus Books Group, 978-0-306-80594-3, )On 8 September 1944 the Red Army began an attack on the Dukla Pass on the Slovak–Polish border. Two months later, the Soviet forces won the battle and entered Slovakia. The toll was high: 20,000 Red Army soldiers died, plus several thousand Germans, Slovaks and Czechs.Under the pressure of the Soviet Baltic Offensive, the German Army Group North were withdrawn to fight in the sieges of Saaremaa, Courland and Memel.

    January–March 1945

    (File:Eastern Front 1945-01 to 1945-05.png|thumb|left|Soviet advances from 1 January 1945 to 11 May 1945: {{legend|#ffd2b9|to 30 March 1945}} {{legend|#ccffcd|to 11 May 1945}})The Soviet Union finally entered Warsaw on 17 January 1945, after the city was destroyed and abandoned by the Germans. Over three days, on a broad front incorporating four army fronts, the Red Army launched the Vistula–Oder Offensive across the Narew River and from Warsaw. The Soviets outnumbered the Germans on average by 5–6:1 in troops, 6:1 in artillery, 6:1 in tanks and 4:1 in self-propelled artillery. After four days the Red Army broke out and started moving thirty to forty kilometres a day, taking the Baltic states, Danzig, East Prussia, Poznań, and drawing up on a line sixty kilometres east of Berlin along the River Oder. During the full course of the Vistula–Oder operation (23 days), the Red Army forces sustained 194,191 total casualties (killed, wounded and missing) and lost 1,267 tanks and assault guns.On 25 January 1945, Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group North became Army Group Courland; Army Group Centre became Army Group North and Army Group A became Army Group Centre. Army Group North (old Army Group Centre) was driven into an ever-smaller pocket around Königsberg in East Prussia.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-072-09, Ostpreußen, Flüchtlingtreck.jpg|thumb|German refugees from East PrussiaEast PrussiaA limited counter-attack (codenamed Operation Solstice) by the newly created Army Group Vistula, under the command of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, had failed by 24 February, and the Red Army drove on to Pomerania and cleared the right bank of the Oder River. In the south, the German attempts, in Operation Konrad, to relieve the encircled garrison at Budapest failed and the city fell on 13 February. On 6 March, the Germans launched what would be their final major offensive of the war, Operation Spring Awakening, which failed by 16 March. On 30 March the Red Army entered Austria and captured Vienna on 13 April.OKW claim German losses of 77,000 killed, 334,000 wounded and 292,000 missing, with a total of 703,000 men, on the Eastern Front during January and February 1945.BOOK, Hastings, Max, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944–45,weblink 2005, Vintage Books, 978-0-375-71422-1, On 9 April 1945, Königsberg in East Prussia finally fell to the Red Army, although the shattered remnants of Army Group Centre continued to resist on the Vistula Spit and Hel Peninsula until the end of the war in Europe. The East Prussian operation, though often overshadowed by the Vistula–Oder operation and the later battle for Berlin, was in fact one of the largest and costliest operations fought by the Red Army throughout the war. During the period it lasted (13 January – 25 April), it cost the Red Army 584,788 casualties, and 3,525 tanks and assault guns.The fall of Königsberg allowed Stavka to free up General Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front (2BF) to move west to the east bank of the Oder. During the first two weeks of April, the Red Army performed their fastest front redeployment of the war. General Georgy Zhukov concentrated his 1st Belorussian Front (1BF), which had been deployed along the Oder river from Frankfurt in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the Seelow Heights. The 2BF moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German 2nd Army, which had been bottled up in a pocket near Danzig, managed to escape across the Oder. To the south General Ivan Konev shifted the main weight of the 1st Ukrainian Front (1UF) out of Upper Silesia north-west to the Neisse River.Ziemke, Berlin, see References page 71 The three Soviet fronts had altogether some 2.5 million men (including 78,556 soldiers of the 1st Polish Army); 6,250 tanks; 7,500 aircraft; 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars; 3,255 truck-mounted Katyusha rocket launchers, (nicknamed "Stalin Organs"); and 95,383 motor vehicles, many of which were manufactured in the USA.

    End of the war: April–May 1945

    File:Za pobedu nad germaniej.jpg|thumb|left|upright=.6|14,933,000 Soviet and Soviet-allied personnel were awarded the Medal for Victory over Germany from 9 May 1945.]]File:Soviet Znamya Pobedy.svg|thumb|A flag of the Soviet 150th Rifle Division raised over the Reichstag (the Victory BannerVictory BannerThe Soviet offensive had two objectives. Because of Stalin's suspicions about the intentions of the Western Allies to hand over territory occupied by them in the post-war Soviet sphere of influence, the offensive was to be on a broad front and was to move as rapidly as possible to the west, to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin. The two were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won quickly unless Berlin was taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and part of the German atomic bomb program.Beevor, Berlin, see References Page 138The offensive to capture central Germany and Berlin started on 16 April with an assault on the German front lines on the Oder and Neisse rivers. After several days of heavy fighting the Soviet 1BF and 1UF punched holes through the German front line and were fanning out across central Germany. By 24 April, elements of the 1BF and 1UF had completed the encirclement of the German capital and the Battle of Berlin entered its final stages. On 25 April the 2BF broke through the German 3rd Panzer Army's line south of Stettin. They were now free to move west towards the British 21st Army Group and north towards the Baltic port of Stralsund. The 58th Guards Rifle Division of the 5th Guards Army made contact with the US 69th Infantry Division of the First Army near Torgau, Germany at the Elbe river.Beevor, Berlin, see References pp. 217–233Ziemke, Berlin, see References pp. 81–111(File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-E0406-0022-018, Berlin, Siegesfeier der Roten Armee.jpg|thumb|Soviet soldiers celebrating the surrender of the German forces in Berlin, 2 May 1945)On 29 and 30 April, as the Soviet forces fought their way into the centre of Berlin, Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun and then committed suicide by taking cyanide and shooting himself. Helmuth Weidling, defence commandant of Berlin, surrendered the city to the Soviet forces on 2 May.Beevor, Berlin, see References pp. 259–357, 380–381 Altogether, the Berlin operation (16 April – 2 May) cost the Red Army 361,367 casualties (dead, wounded, missing and sick) and 1,997 tanks and assault guns. German losses in this period of the war remain impossible to determine with any reliability.{{Harvnb|Krivosheev|1997|pp=219, 220}}.At 2:41 am on 7 May 1945, at SHAEF headquarters, German Chief-of-Staff General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies at Reims in France. It included the phrase All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945. The next day shortly before midnight, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel repeated the signing in Berlin at Zhukov's headquarters, now known as the German-Russian Museum. The war in Europe was over.Ziemke, occupation, References CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last paragraphIn the Soviet Union the end of the war is considered to be 9 May, when the surrender took effect Moscow time. This date is celebrated as a national holiday – Victory Day – in Russia (as part of a two-day 8–9 May holiday) and some other post-Soviet countries. The ceremonial Victory parade was held in Moscow on 24 June.The German Army Group Centre initially refused to surrender and continued to fight in Czechoslovakia until about 11 May.Ziemke, Berlin, References p. 134A small German garrison on the Danish island of Bornholm refused to surrender until they were bombed and invaded by the Soviets. The island was returned to the Danish government four months later.

    Soviet Far East: August 1945

    The Soviet invasion of Manchuria began on 8 August 1945, with an assault on the Japanese puppet states of Manchukuo and neighbouring Mengjiang; the greater offensive would eventually include northern Korea, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. Apart from the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, it marked the only military action of the Soviet Union against Imperial Japan; at the Yalta Conference, it had agreed to Allied pleas to terminate the neutrality pact with Japan and enter the Second World War's Pacific theatre within three months after the end of the war in Europe. While not a part of the Eastern Front operations, it is included here because the commanders and much of the forces used by the Red Army came from the European Theatre of operations and benefited from the experience gained there. In many ways this was a 'perfect' operation, delivered with the skill gained during the bitter fighting with the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe over four years.JOURNAL, Raymond L., Garthoff, The Soviet Manchurian Campaign, August 1945, Military Affairs, 33, 2, 312–336, October 1969, 1983926, 10.2307/1983926,


    The Eastern Front was the largest and bloodiest theatre of World War II. It is generally accepted as being the deadliest conflict in human history, with over 30 million killed as a result.According to G. I. Krivosheev. (Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 {{ISBN|1-85367-280-7}}), in the Eastern Front, Axis countries and German co-belligerents sustained 1,468,145 irrecoverable losses (668,163 KIA/MIA), Germany itself– 7,181,100 (3,604,800 KIA/MIA), and 579,900 PoWs died in Soviet captivity. So the Axis KIA/MIA amounted to 4.8 million in the East during the period of 1941–1945. This is more than a half of all Axis losses (including the Asia/Pacific theatre). The USSR sustained 10.5 million military losses (including PoWs who died in German captivity, according to Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. {{ISBN|5-93165-107-1}}), so the number of military deaths (the USSR and the Axis) amounted to 15 million, far greater than in all other World War II theatres. According to the same source, total Soviet civilian deaths within post-war borders amounted to 15.7 million. The numbers for other Central European and German civilian casualties are not included here. The German armed forces suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front.BOOK, Duiker, William J., Contemporary World History,weblink sixth, 2015, Cengage Learning, 978-1-285-44790-2, 138, The Crisis Deepens: The Outbreak of World War II, It involved more land combat than all other World War II theatres combined. The distinctly brutal nature of warfare on the Eastern Front was exemplified by an often willful disregard for human life by both sides. It was also reflected in the ideological premise for the war, which also saw a momentous clash between two directly opposed ideologies.Aside from the ideological conflict, the mindframe of the leaders of Germany and the Soviet Union, Hitler and Stalin respectively, contributed to the escalation of terror and murder on an unprecedented scale. Stalin and Hitler both disregarded human life in order to achieve their goal of victory. This included the terrorization of their own people, as well as mass deportations of entire populations. All these factors resulted in tremendous brutality both to combatants and civilians that found no parallel on the Western Front. According to Time magazine: "By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, the Eastern Front was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion."NEWS,weblink Time (magazine), Time, Remembering a Red Flag Day, 23 May 2008, Jordan, Bonfante, Conversely, General George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, calculated that without the Eastern Front, the United States would have had to double the number of its soldiers on the Western Front.BOOK,weblink Roosevelt in Retrospect, Harper & Brothers, Gunther, John, 1950, 356, Memorandum for the President's Special Assistant Harry Hopkins, Washington, D.C., 10 August 1943:}}File:RIAN archive 2153 After bombing.jpg|thumb|Citizens of Leningrad during the 872-day siege, in which about one million civilians died]]The war inflicted huge losses and suffering upon the civilian populations of the affected countries. Behind the front lines, (wikt:atrocity|atrocities) against civilians in German-occupied areas were routine, including those carried out as part of the Holocaust. German and German-allied forces treated civilian populations with exceptional brutality, massacring whole village populations and routinely killing civilian hostages (see German war crimes). Both sides practised widespread scorched earth tactics, but the loss of civilian lives in the case of Germany was incomparably smaller than that of the Soviet Union, in which at least 20 million were killed. According to British historian Geoffrey Hosking, "The full demographic loss to the Soviet peoples was even greater: since a high proportion of those killed were young men of child-begetting age, the postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million smaller than post-1939 projections would have led one to expect."BOOK, Hosking, Geoffrey A., Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union,weblink 2006, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-02178-5, 242, When the Red Army invaded Germany in 1944, many German civilians suffered from reprisals by Red Army soldiers (see Soviet war crimes). After the war, following the Yalta conference agreements between the Allies, the German populations of East Prussia and Silesia were displaced to the west of the Oder–Neisse line, in what became one of the largest forced migrations of people in world history.The Soviet Union came out of World War II militarily victorious but economically and structurally devastated. Much of the combat took place in or close to populated areas, and the actions of both sides contributed to massive loss of civilian life and tremendous material damage. According to a summary, presented by Lieutenant General Roman Rudenko at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, the property damage in the Soviet Union inflicted by the Axis invasion was estimated to a value of 679 billion rubles. The largest number of civilian deaths in a single city was 1.2 million citizens dead during the Siege of Leningrad.The New York Times, 9 February 1946, Volume 95, Number 32158.The combined damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850 industrial establishments, 40,000 miles of railroad, 4,100 railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public libraries; leaving 25 million homeless. Seven million horses, 17 million cattle, 20 million pigs, 27 million sheep were also slaughtered or driven off. Wild fauna were also affected. Wolves and foxes fleeing westward from the killing zone, as the Soviet army advanced between 1943 and 1945, were responsible for a rabies epidemic that spread slowly westwards, reaching the coast of the English Channel by 1968.{{Harvnb|Bellamy|2007|pp=1–2}}


    {{unreferenced section|date=March 2011}}The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both ideologically driven states (by Soviet communism and by Nazism respectively), in which the foremost political leaders had near-absolute power. The character of the war was thus determined by the political leaders and their ideology to a much greater extent than in any other theatre of World War II.{{citation needed|date=May 2018}}

    Adolf Hitler

    File:Adolf Hitler cropped restored.jpg|thumb|upright|Adolf HitlerAdolf HitlerAdolf Hitler exercised tight control over the German war-effort, spending much of his time in his command bunkers (most notably at Rastenburg in East Prussia, at Vinnitsa in Ukraine, and under the garden of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin). At crucial periods in the war he held daily situation-conferences at which he used his remarkable talent for public speaking to overwhelm opposition from his generals and from the OKW staff with rhetoric.In part because of the unexpected degree of German success in the Battle of France (despite the warnings of the professional military) Hitler believed himself a military genius, with a grasp of the total war-effort that eluded his generals. In August 1941, when Walther von Brauchitsch (commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht) and Fedor von Bock appealed for an attack on Moscow, Hitler instead ordered the encirclement and capture of Ukraine, in order to acquire the farmland, industry, and natural resources of that country. Some historians like Bevin Alexander in How Hitler Could Have Won regard this decision as a missed opportunity to win the war.In the winter of 1941–1942 Hitler believed that his obstinate refusal to allow the German armies to retreat had saved Army Group Centre from collapse. He later told Erhard Milch:File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B24543, Hauptquartier Heeresgruppe Süd, Lagebesprechung.jpg|thumb|Hitler with generals Friedrich Paulus, Adolf Heusinger and Fedor von BockFedor von BockI had to act ruthlessly. I had to send even my closest generals packing, two army generals, for example … I could only tell these gentlemen, "Get yourself back to Germany as rapidly as you can – but leave the army in my charge. And the army is staying at the front."The success of this hedgehog defence outside Moscow led Hitler to insist on the holding of territory when it made no military sense, and to sack generals who retreated without orders. Officers with initiative were replaced with yes-men or with fanatical Nazis. The disastrous encirclements later in the war – at Stalingrad, Korsun and many other places – resulted directly from Hitler's orders. This idea of holding territory led to another failed plan, dubbed{{by whom|date=May 2018}} "Heaven-bound Missions", which involved fortifying even the most unimportant or insignificant of cities and the holding of these "fortresses" at all costs. Many divisions became cut off in "fortress" cities, or wasted uselessly in secondary theatres, because Hitler would not sanction retreat or voluntarily abandon any of his conquests.Frustration at Hitler's leadership in the war was one of the factors in the attempted coup d'etat of 1944, but after the failure of the 20 July Plot Hitler considered the army and its officer corps suspect and came to rely on the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Nazi party members to prosecute the war.Hitler's direction of the war ultimately proved disastrous for the German Army, though the skill, loyalty, professionalism and endurance of officers and soldiers enabled him to keep Germany fighting to the end. F. W. Winterbotham wrote of Hitler's signal to Gerd von Rundstedt to continue the attack to the west during the Battle of the Bulge:

    Joseph Stalin

    File:CroppedStalin1943.jpg|thumb|Joseph StalinJoseph StalinJoseph Stalin bore the greatest responsibility for some of the disasters at the beginning of the war (for example, the Battle of Kiev (1941)), but equally deserves praise for the subsequent success of the Soviet Red Army, which depended on the unprecedentedly rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union, which Stalin's internal policy had made the first priority throughout the 1930s.Stalin's Great Purge of the Red Army in the late 1930s involved the legal prosecution of many of the senior command, many of whom the courts convicted and sentenced to death or to imprisonment.The executed included Mikhail Tukhachevsky, a proponent of armoured blitzkrieg. Stalin promoted some obscurantists like Grigory Kulik who opposed the mechanization of the army and the production of tanks, but on the other hand purged the older commanders who had held their positions since the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, and who had experience, but were deemed "politically unreliable". This opened up their places to the promotion of many younger officers that Stalin and the NKVD regarded as in line with Stalinist politics. Many{{quantify|date=May 2018}} of these newly promoted commanders proved terribly inexperienced, but some later became very successful. Soviet tank-output remained the largest in the world.From the foundation of the Red Army in 1918, political distrust of the military had led to a system of "dual command", with every commander paired with a political commissar, a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Larger units had military councils consisting of the commander, commissar and chief of staff – commissars ensured the loyalty of the commanding officers and implemented Party orders.Following the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland, of the Baltic states and of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in 1939–1940, Stalin insisted on the occupation of every fold of the newly Sovietized territories; this move westward positioned troops far from their depots, in salients that left them vulnerable to encirclement. As tension heightened in spring, 1941, Stalin desperately tried not to give Hitler any provocation that Berlin could use as an excuse for a German attack; Stalin refused to allow the military to go on the alert – even as German troops gathered on the borders and German reconnaissance planes overflew installations. This refusal to take necessary action was instrumental in the destruction of major portions of the Red Air Force, lined up on its airfields, in the first days of the German-Soviet war.At the crisis of the war, in the autumn of 1942, Stalin made many concessions to the army: the government restored unitary command by removing the Commissars from the chain of command. Order 25 of 15 January 1943 introduced shoulderboards for all ranks; this represented a significant symbolic step, since after the Russian Revolution of 1917 shoulderboards had connotations as a symbol of the old Tsarist régime. Beginning in autumn 1941, units that had proved themselves by superior performance in combat were given the traditional "Guards" title.{{Sfn | Glantz | 2005 | p = 181}}These concessions were combined with ruthless discipline: Order No. 227, issued on 28 July 1942, threatened commanders who retreated without orders with punishment by court-martial. Infractions by military and politruks were punished with transferral to penal battalions and to penal companies which carried out especially hazardous duties, such as serving as tramplers to clear Nazi minefields.{{Citation | last = Toppe | first = Alfred | title = Night Combat | publisher = Diane | year = 1998 | isbn = 978-0-7881-7080-5 | page = 28}} The order stipulated to capture or shoot "cowards" and fleeing panicked troops at the rear the blocking detachments in the first three months shot 1,000 penal troops and sent 24,993 to penal battalions.BOOK, Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953, Roberts, Geoffrey, Yale University Press, 2006, 0-300-11204-1, 132, By October 1942 the idea of regular blocking detachments was quietly dropped, By 29 October 1944 the units were officially disbanded.WEB,weblink ПРИКАЗ О РАСФОРМИРОВАНИИ ОТДЕЛЬНЫХ ЗАГРАДИТЕЛЬНЫХ ОТРЯДОВ,, 2019-03-07, BOOK, Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, Merridale, Catherine, New York : Metropolitan Books, 2006, 0-8050-7455-4, 158, 60671899,weblink As it became clear that the Soviet Union would win the war, Stalin ensured that propaganda always mentioned his leadership of the war; he sidelined the victorious generals and never allowed them to develop into political rivals. After the war the Soviets once again purged the Red Army (though not as brutally as in the 1930s) and demoted many successful officers (including Zhukov, Malinovsky and Koniev) to unimportant positions.{{Citation needed|date=August 2018}}

    Repression in occupied states

    {{See also|Generalplan Ost|Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs|German war crimes against Soviet civilians|Commissar Order|Hunger Plan|Soviet war crimes}}{{more citations needed section|date=March 2015}}File:Massacre of Jews in Lietūkis garage.jpeg|thumb|Kaunas pogrom in German-occupied LithuaniaLithuaniaThe enormous territorial gains of 1941 presented Germany with vast areas to pacify and administer. For the majority of people of the Soviet Union, the Nazi invasion was viewed as a brutal act of unprovoked aggression. While it is important to note that not all parts of Soviet society viewed the German advance in this way, the majority of the Soviet population viewed German forces as occupiers. In areas such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (which had been annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940) the Wehrmacht was tolerated by a relatively more significant part of the native population.This was particularly true for the territories of Western Ukraine, recently rejoined to the Soviet Union, where the anti-Polish and anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalist underground hoped in vain to establish the "independent state", relying on German armed force. However, Soviet society as a whole was hostile to the invading Nazis from the very start. The nascent national liberation movements among Ukrainians and Cossacks, and others were viewed by Hitler with suspicion; some, especially those from the Baltic States, were co-opted into the Axis armies and others brutally suppressed. None of the conquered territories gained any measure of self-rule.Instead, the Nazi ideologues saw the future of the East as one of settlement by German colonists, with the natives killed, expelled, or reduced to slave labour. The cruel and brutally inhumane treatment of Soviet civilians, women, children and elderly, the daily bombings of civilian cities and towns, Nazi pillaging of Soviet villages and hamlets and unprecedented harsh punishment and treatment of civilians in general were some of the primary reasons for Soviet resistance to Nazi Germany's invasion. Indeed, the Soviets viewed Germany's invasion as an act of aggression and an attempt to conquer and enslave the local population.File:Einsatzgruppen murder Jews in Ivanhorod, Ukraine, 1942.jpg|link=Ivanhorod Einsatzgruppen photograph, 1942|thumb|Einsatzgruppen murdering Jews in IvanhorodIvanhorodRegions closer to the front were managed by military powers of the region, in other areas such as the Baltic states annexed by the USSR in 1940, Reichscommissariats were established. As a rule, the maximum in loot was extracted. In September 1941, Erich Koch was appointed to the Ukrainian Commissariat. His opening speech was clear about German policy: "I am known as a brutal dog ... Our job is to suck from Ukraine all the goods we can get hold of ... I am expecting from you the utmost severity towards the native population."Atrocities against the Jewish population in the conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of Einsatzgruppen (task groups) to round up Jews and shoot them.Marking 70 Years to Operation Barbarossa {{webarchive|url= |date=16 September 2012 }} on the Yad Vashem websiteThe massacres of Jews and other ethnic minorities were only a part of the deaths from the Nazi occupation. Many hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians were executed, and millions more died from starvation as the Germans requisitioned food for their armies and fodder for their draft horses. As they retreated from Ukraine and Belarus in 1943–44, the German occupiers systematically applied a scorched earth policy, burning towns and cities, destroying infrastructure, and leaving civilians to starve or die of exposure.On 7 September 1943, Himmler sent orders to HSSPF "Ukraine" Hans-Adolf Prützmann that "not a human being, not a single head of cattle, not a hundredweight of cereals and not a railway line remain behind; that not a house remains standing, not a mine is available which is not destroyed for years to come, that there is not a well which is not poisoned. The enemy must really find completely burned and destroyed land". He ordered cooperation with Infantry general Staff, also someone named Stampf, and sent copies to the Chief of Regular Police, Chief of Security Police & SS, SS-Obergruppenführer Berger, and the chief of the partisan combating units. See Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Supplement A pg 1270. In many towns, the battles were fought within towns and cities with trapped civilians caught in the middle. Estimates of total civilian dead in the Soviet Union in the war range from seven million (Encyclopædia Britannica) to seventeen million (Richard Overy).File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-031-2436-03A, Russland, Hinrichtung von Partisanen.jpg|thumb|Soviet partisansSoviet partisansThe Nazi ideology and the maltreatment of the local population and Soviet POWs encouraged partisans fighting behind the front; it motivated even anti-communists or non-Russian nationalists to ally with the Soviets and greatly delayed the formation of German-allied divisions consisting of Soviet POWs (see Vlasov army). These results and missed opportunities contributed to the defeat of the Wehrmacht.Vadim Erlikman has detailed Soviet losses totaling 26.5 million war related deaths. Military losses of 10.6 million include six million killed or missing in action and 3.6 million POW dead, plus 400,000 paramilitary and Soviet partisan losses. Civilian deaths totalled 15.9 million, which included 1.5 million from military actions; 7.1 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals; 1.8 million deported to Germany for forced labour; and 5.5 million famine and disease deaths. Additional famine deaths, which totalled one million during 1946–47, are not included here. These losses are for the entire territory of the USSR including territories annexed in 1939–40.{{citation needed|date=November 2013}}File:Lost children russia about 1942.jpg|thumb|upright|HomelessHomelessBelarus lost a quarter of its pre-war population, including practically all its intellectual elite. Following bloody encirclement battles, all of the present-day Belarus territory was occupied by the Germans by the end of August 1941. The Nazis imposed a brutal regime, deporting some 380,000 young people for slave labour, and killing hundreds of thousands (civilians) more.WEB,weblink The Nazi struggle against Soviet partisans, Holocaust Controversies, More than 600 villages like Khatyn were burned with their entire population.WEB,weblink Khatyn WWI Memorial in Belarus,, More than 209 cities and towns (out of 270 total) and 9,000 villages were destroyed. Himmler pronounced a plan according to which {{frac|3|4}} of the Belarusian population was designated for "eradication" and {{frac|1|4}} of the racially 'cleaner' population (blue eyes, light hair) would be allowed to serve Germans as slaves.Some recent reports raise the number of Belarusians who perished in the war to "3 million 650 thousand people, unlike the former 2.2 million. That is to say not every fourth inhabitant but almost 40% of the pre-war Belarusian population perished (considering the present-day borders of Belarus)."Partisan Resistance in Belarus during World War II belarusguide.comFile:Soviet soldiers mass grave, German war prisoners concentration camp in Deblin, German-occupied Poland.jpg|thumb|left|Mass grave of Soviet POWs, killed by Germans in a prisoner-of-war camp in DęblinDęblinSixty percent of Soviet POWs died during the war. By its end, large numbers of Soviet POWs, forced labourers and Nazi collaborators (including those who were forcefully repatriated by the Western Allies) went to special NKVD "filtration" camps. By 1946, 80 per cent of civilians and 20 per cent of POWs were freed, others were re-drafted, or sent to labour battalions. Two per cent of civilians and 14 per cent of the POWs were sent to the Gulag.("Военно-исторический журнал" ("Military-Historical Magazine"), 1997, №5. page 32)Земское В.Н. К вопросу о репатриации советских граждан. 1944–1951 годы // История СССР. 1990. № 4 (Zemskov V.N. On repatriation of Soviet citizens. Istoriya SSSR., 1990, No.4)The official Polish government report of war losses prepared in 1947 reported 6,028,000 victims out of a population of 27,007,000 ethnic Poles and Jews; this report excluded ethnic Ukrainian and Belarusian losses.Although the Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention (1929), it is generally accepted that it considered itself bound by the provisions of the Hague convention.JOURNAL, Jacob, Robinson, Transfer of Property in Enemy Occupied Territory, American Journal of International Law, 39, 2, 216–230, April 1945, 2192342, 10.2307/2192342, A month after the German invasion in 1941, an offer was made for a reciprocal adherence to Hague convention. This 'note' was left unanswered by Third Reich officials.Beevor, Stalingrad. Penguin 2001 {{ISBN|0-14-100131-3}} p 60Soviet repressions also contributed into the Eastern Front's death toll. Mass repression occurred in the occupied portions of Poland as well as in the Baltic states and Bessarabia. Immediately after the start of the German invasion, the NKVD massacred large numbers of inmates in most of their prisons in Western Belarus and Western Ukraine, while the remainder was to be evacuated in death marches.Robert Gellately. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. Knopf, 2007 {{ISBN|1-4000-4005-1}} p. 391

    Industrial output

    The Soviet victory owed a great deal to the ability of its war industry to outperform the German economy, despite the enormous loss of population and land. Stalin's five-year plans of the 1930s had resulted in the industrialization of the Urals and central Asia. In 1941, thousands of trains evacuated critical factories and workers from Belarus and Ukraine to safe areas far from the front lines. Once these facilities were reassembled east of the Urals, production could be resumed without fear of German bombing.As the Soviet Union's manpower reserves ran low from 1943 onwards, the great Soviet offensives had to depend more on equipment and less on the expenditure of lives.{{Citation needed|date=November 2014}} The increases in production of materiel were achieved at the expense of civilian living standards – the most thorough application of the principle of total war – and with the help of Lend-Lease supplies from the United Kingdom and the United States. The Germans, on the other hand, could rely on a large slave workforce from the conquered countries and Soviet POWs. American exports and technical expertise also enabled the Soviets to produce goods that they wouldn't have been able to on their own. For example, while the USSR was able to produce fuel of octane numbers from 70 to 74, Soviet industry only met 4% of demand for fuel of octane numbers from 90+; all aircraft produced after 1939 required fuel of the latter category. To fulfill demands, the USSR depended on American assistance, both in finished products and TEL.Alexander Matveichuk. A High Octane Weapon of Victory. Oil of Russia. Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. 2 November 2011.Germany had far greater resources than did the USSR, and dwarfed its production in every matrix except for oil, having over five times the USSR's coal production, over three times its iron production, three times its steel production, twice its electricity production, and about 2/3 of its oil production.Walter Dunn, "The Soviet Economy and the Red Army", Praeger (30 August 1995), page 50. Citing K.F. Skorobogatkin, et al, "50 Let Voorezhennyk sil SSR" (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1968), p. 457.German production of explosives from 1940–1944 was 1.595 million tons, along with 829,970 tons of powder. Consumption on all fronts during the same period was 1.493 million tons of explosives and 626,887 tons of powder.US Strategic Bombing Survey "Appendix D. Strategic Air Attack on the Powder and Explosives Industries", Table D7: German Monthly Production of Powders and Exploders (Including Extenders) and Consumption by German Armed Forces From 1941–1945, the USSR produced only 505,000 tons of explosives and received 105,000 tons of Lend-Lease imports. Germany outproduced the Soviet Union 3.16 to 1 in explosives tonnage.Soviet armored fighting vehicle production was greater than the Germans (in 1943, the Soviet Union manufactured 24,089 tanks and self-propelled guns to Germany's 19,800). The Soviets incrementally upgraded existing designs, and simplified and refined manufacturing processes to increase production, and were helped by a mass infusion of harder to produce goods such as aviation fuel, machine tools, trucks, and high-explosives from Lend-Lease, allowing them to concentrate on a few key industries. Meanwhile, Germany had been cut off from foreign trade for years by the time it invaded the USSR, was in the middle of two extended and costly theaters at air and sea that further limited production (Battle of the Atlantic and Defence of the Reich), and was forced to devote a large segment of its expenditures to goods the Soviets could cut back on (such as trucks) or which would never even be used against the Soviets (such as ships). Naval vessels alone constituted 10–15% of Germany's war expenditures from 1940 to 1944 depending on the year, while armored vehicles by comparison were only 5–8%.Military Analysis Division, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey- European War, Volume 3, page 144. Washington, 1947.{| class="wikitable"|+ Summary of German and Soviet raw material production during the warRichard Overy, Russia's War, p. 155 and Campaigns of World War II Day By Day, by Chris Bishop and Chris McNab, pp. 244–52.!rowspan="2"|Year!colspan="2"|Coal(million tonnes, Germany includes lignite and bituminous types)!colspan="2"|Steel(million tonnes)!colspan="2"|Aluminium(thousand tonnes)!colspan="6"|Oil(million tonnes)! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|Italian! style="background:#fff;"|Hungarian! style="background:#fff;"|Romanian! style="background:#fff;"|Japanese!1941483.4151.431.817.9233.6–5.733.–!1942513.175.532.18.1264.051.76.622.!1943521.493.134.68.5250.062.37.618.!1944509.8121.528.510.9245.382.75.518.2–13.51!1945Soviet numbers for 1945 are for the whole of 1945, including after the war was over.–149.3–12.3–86.31.319.4–––0.1{| class="wikitable"|+ Summary of Axis and Soviet tank and self-propelled gun production during the war!rowspan="2"|Year!colspan="6"|Tanks and self-propelled guns! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Italian! style="background:#fff;"|Hungarian! style="background:#fff;"|Romanian! style="background:#fff;"|Japanese!19416,5905,200German figures for 1941 and 1942 include tanks only.595––595!194224,4469,3001,252500–557!194324,08919,800336105558!194428,96327,300–353!194515,400––––137{| class="wikitable"|+ Summary of Axis and Soviet aircraft production during the war!rowspan="2"|Year!colspan="6"|Aircraft! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Italian! style="background:#fff;"|Hungarian! style="background:#fff;"|Romanian! style="background:#fff;"|Japanese!194115,73511,7763,503–1,0005,088!194225,43615,5562,81868,861!194334,84525,52796726716,693!194440,24639,807–77328,180!194520,0527,544––8,263{| class="wikitable"|+ Summary of German and Soviet industrial labour (including those classified as handworkers), and summary of foreign, voluntary, coerced and POW labourThe Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia by Richard Overy p. 498.!rowspan="2"|Year!colspan="2"|Industrial labour!colspan="2"|Foreign lLabour!colspan="2"|Total labour! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|German! style="background:#fff;"|Total Soviet! style="background:#fff;"|Total German!194111,000,00012,900,000–3,500,00011,000,00016,400,000!19427,200,00011,600,00050,0004,600,0007,250,00016,200,000!19437,500,00011,100,000200,0005,700,0007,700,00016,800,000!19448,200,00010,400,000800,0007,600,0009,000,00018,000,000!19459,500,000–2,900,000–12,400,000–Soviet production and upkeep was assisted by the Lend-Lease program from the United States and the United Kingdom. In the course of the war the US supplied $11 billion of materiel through Lend-Lease. This included 400,000 trucks, 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks), 11,400 aircraft and 1.75 million tons of food.World War II The War Against Germany And Italy, US Army Center of Military History, page 158. The British supplied aircraft including 3,000 Hurricanes and 4,000 other aircraft during the war. Five thousand tanks were provided by the British and Canada. Total British supplies were about four million tons.WEB,weblink Telegraph, The Telegraph, Germany on the other hand had the resources of conquered Europe at its disposal; those numbers are however not included into the tables above, such as production in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, and so on.After the defeat at Stalingrad, Germany geared completely towards a war economy, as expounded in a speech given by Joseph Goebbels, (the Nazi propaganda minister), in the Berlin Sportpalast, increasing production in subsequent years under Albert Speer's (the Reich armaments minister) direction, despite the intensifying Allied bombing campaign.


    {{Further|World War II casualties|World War II casualties of the Soviet Union|German casualties in World War II}}(File:Russians bury their fallen. Kollaanjoki 15.-16.7. 1944. Kollaanjoki 15 to 16.7. 1944..jpg|thumb|upright|Soviets bury their fallen, July 1944)(File:World-War-II-military-deaths-in-Europe-by-theater-year.png|thumb|World War II military deaths in Europe by theater, year)The fighting involved millions of Axis and Soviet troops along the broadest land front in military history. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of the European portion of World War II with up to 10 million military deaths on the Soviet side (although, depending on the criteria used, casualties in the Far East theatre may have been similar in number).Krivosheev, G.F., ed. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. {{ISBN|1-85367-280-7}}. page 85WEB,weblink Nazi Persecution of Soviet Prisoners of War, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, 15 June 2011, Richard Overy, The Dictators Axis military deaths were 5 million of which around 4,000,000 were German deaths.WEB,weblink German military deaths to all causes EF, 10 July 2018, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2 May 2013, German losses according to: Rüdiger Overmans, Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. {{ISBN|3-486-56531-1}}, pp. 265, 272Included in this figure of German losses is the majority of the 2 million German military personnel listed as missing or unaccounted for after the war. Rüdiger Overmans states that it seems entirely plausible, while not provable, that one half of these men were killed in action and the other half died in Soviet custody.Rüdiger Overmans. Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. {{ISBN|3-486-56531-1}} p. 289 Official OKW Casualty Figures list 65% of Heer killed/missing/captured as being lost on the Eastern Front from 1 September 1939, to 1 January 1945 (four months and a week before the conclusion of the war), with front not specified for losses of the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe.WEB,weblink Die deutschen Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Percy E. Schramm, Göttingen, 21 November 2012, Die Zeit, Estimated civilian deaths range from about 14 to 17 million. Over 11.4 million Soviet civilians within pre-1939 Soviet borders were killed, and another estimated 3.5 million civilians were killed in the annexed territories.Krivosheev, G. I. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 {{ISBN|1-85367-280-7}} The Nazis exterminated one to two million Soviet Jews (including the annexed territories) as part of the Holocaust.Martin Gilbert. Atlas of the Holocaust 1988 {{ISBN|0-688-12364-3}} Soviet and Russian historiography often uses the term "irretrievable casualties". According to the Narkomat of Defence order (No. 023, 4 February 1944), the irretrievable casualties include killed, missing, those who died due to war-time or subsequent wounds, maladies and chilblains and those who were captured.The huge death toll was attributed to several factors, including brutal mistreatment of POWs and captured partisans, the large deficiency of food and medical supplies in Soviet territories, and atrocities committed mostly by the Germans against the civilian population. The multiple battles and the use of scorched earth tactics destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food.{| class="wikitable"Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Oldenbourg 2000. {{ISBN>3-486-56531-1}}, WEB,weblink German military deaths to all causes EF, 10 July 2018, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2 May 2013, , Richard Overy The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004), {{ISBN|0-7139-9309-X}}, Italy: Ufficio Storico dello Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. Commissariato generale C.G.V. . Ministero della Difesa – Edizioni 1986, Romania: G. I. Krivosheev (2001). Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie. OLMA-Press. pp. Tables 200–203. {{ISBN|5-224-01515-4}}, Hungary: G. I. Krivosheev (2001). Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie. OLMA-Press. pp. Tables 200–203. {{ISBN|5-224-01515-4}}. Hungarian wounded: Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015, 4th ed. Micheal Clodfelter. {{ISBN|078647470X}}, 9780786474707. p. 527. Soviet volunteer deaths: Percy Schramm Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht: 1940–1945: 8 Bde. ({{ISBN|9783881990738}} ) Pages 1508 to 1511. German prisoners: G. I. Krivosheev Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka: Poteri vooruzhennykh sil; statisticheskoe issledovanie OLMA-Press, 2001 {{ISBN|5-224-01515-4}} Table 198!colspan="6"|Forces fighting with the Axis!! style="background:#fff;"|Total Dead! style="background:#fff;"|KIA/DOW/MIA! style="background:#fff;"|Prisoners taken by the Soviets! style="background:#fff;"|Prisoners who died in Captivity! style="background:#fff;"|WIA (not including DOW)!Greater Germanyest 4,137,000est 3,637,0002,733,739–3,000,060500,000Rüdiger Overmans, Soldaten hinter Stacheldraht. Deutsche Kriegsgefangene des Zweiten Weltkriege. Ullstein., 2000 Page 246 {{ISBN|3-549-07121-3}}Unknown!Soviet residents who joined German army215,000215,000400,000+Unknown118,127!Romania281,000226,000500,00055,000!Hungary300,000245,000500,00055,00089,313!Italy82,00055,00070,00027,000!FinlandKurenmaa, Pekka; Lentilä, Riitta (2005). "Sodan tappiot". In Leskinen, Jari; Juutilainen, Antti. Jatkosodan pikkujättiläinen (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 1150–1162. {{ISBN|951-0-28690-7}}.63,20462,7313,500473158,000!Totalest 5,078,000est 4,437,4004,264,497–4,530,818est 637,000Unknown{| class="wikitable"Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke: spravochnik. Moscow 2004. {{ISBN>5-93165-107-1}};Mark Axworthy, Third Axis Fourth Ally. Arms and Armour 1995, p. 216. {{ISBN|1-85409-267-7}}!colspan="6"|Forces fighting with the Soviet Union!! style="background:#fff;"|Total Dead! style="background:#fff;"|KIA/DOW/MIA! style="background:#fff;"|Prisoners taken by the Axis! style="background:#fff;"|Prisoners who died in captivity! style="background:#fff;"|WIA (not including DOW)!Soviet8,668,400–10,000,0006,829,6004,059,000 (military personnel only)–5,700,0002,250,000–3,300,000HTTP://WW2STATS.COM/POW_GER_DEAD_NON.HTML >TITLE=ARCHIVED COPY URL-STATUS=DEADARCHIVEDATE=22 APRIL 2013, HTTP://WWW.USHMM.ORG/WLC/MEDIA_CM.PHP?LANG=EN&MODULEID=10005454&MEDIAID=133 >TITLE=GROSS-ROSEN TIMELINE 1940–1945 DATE=15 JANUARY 2009 PUBLISHER=UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM, WASHINGTON, D.C. URL-STATUS=DEAD ARCHIVEDATE=15 JANUARY 2009, of which 1,283,200 confirmedKrivosheev, G.F. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. {{ISBN|9781853672804}}.13,581,483G. I.> LAST=KRIVOSHEEV PUBLISHER=GREENHILL ISBN=1-85367-280-7, 89, !Poland24,00024,000UnknownUnknown!Romania17,00017,00080,000Unknown!Bulgaria10,00010,000UnknownUnknown!TotalUp to ~8,719,000 – 10,000,0006,880,6004,139,000–5,780,0002,250,000–3,300,00013,581,483File:Cemetery of German soldiers in Toila 24.jpg|thumb|upright|A German war cemetery in EstoniaEstoniaBased on Soviet sources Krivosheev put German losses on the Eastern Front from 1941–1945 at 6,923,700 men: including killed in action, died of wounds or disease and reported missing and presumed dead{{snd}}4,137,100, taken prisoner 2,571,600 and 215,000 dead among Russian volunteers in the Wehrmacht. Deaths of POW were 450,600 including 356,700 in NKVD camps and 93,900 in transit.G. I. Krivosheev. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses. Greenhill 1997 {{ISBN|1-85367-280-7}} Pages 276–278According to a report prepared by the General Staff of the Army issued in December 1944, materiel losses in the East from the period of 22 June 1941 until November 1944 stood at 33,324 armored vehicles of all types (tanks, assault guns, tank destroyers, self-propelled guns and others). Paul Winter, Defeating Hitler, states "these figures are undoubtedly too low".Paul Winter, Defeating Hitler, p. 234 According to Soviet claims, the Germans lost 42,700 tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled guns and assault guns on the Eastern front.Micheal Clodfelte, Warfare and Armed Conflicts, p. 449 Overall, Nazi Germany produced 3,024 reconnaissance vehicles,{{Unreliable source?|date=January 2019}} 2,450 other armoured vehicles, 21,880 armoured personnel carriers, 36,703 semi-tracked tractors and 87,329 semi-tracked trucksweblink estimated 2/3 were lost on the Eastern front.{{Citation needed|date=January 2019}}The Soviets lost 96,500 tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled guns and assault guns, as well as 37,600 other armored vehicles (such as armored cars and semi-tracked trucks) for a total of 134,100 armored vehicles lost.BOOK, G. I., Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses, Greenhill, 1997, 1-85367-280-7, 253–258, The Soviets also lost 102,600 aircraft (combat and non-combat causes), including 46,100 in combat.BOOK, G. I., Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses, Greenhill, 1997, 1-85367-280-7, 359–360, According to Soviet claims, the Germans lost 75,700 aircraft on the Eastern front.Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492–2015, 4th ed. Micheal Clodfelter. {{ISBN|078647470X}}, 9780786474707. P. 449Polish Armed Forces in the East, initially consisting of Poles from Eastern Poland or otherwise in the Soviet Union in 1939–1941, began fighting alongside the Red Army in 1943, and grew steadily as more Polish territory was liberated from the Nazis in 1944–1945.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-004-3633-30A, Russland, Cholm, gefallene Rotarmisten.jpg|thumb|Dead Soviet soldiers in Kholm, January 1942]]When the Axis countries of Central Europe were occupied by the Soviets, they changed sides and declared war on Germany (see Allied Commissions).Some Soviet citizens would side with the Germans and join Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. Most of those who joined were Russian POWs. These men were primarily used in the Eastern Front but some were assigned to guard the beaches of Normandy.BOOK, D-Day: the Battle for the Normandy Beaches, Ambrose, Stephen, Simon & Schuster, 1997, 0-7434-4974-6, London, 34, The other main group of men joining the German army were citizens of the Baltic countries annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 or from Western Ukraine. They fought in their own Waffen-SS units.NEWS,weblink Nazi Foreign Legions – History Learning Site, History Learning Site, 2018-02-02, en-GB, Hitler's notorious Commissar Order called for Soviet political commissars, who were responsible for ensuring that Red Army units remained politically reliable, to be summarily shot when identified amongst captured troops. Axis troops who captured Red Army soldiers frequently shot them in the field or shipped them to concentration camps to be used as forced laborers or killed.Richard Overy The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004), {{ISBN|0-7139-9309-X}} Additionally, millions of Soviet civilians were captured as POWs and treated in the same manner. It is estimated that between 2.25 and 3.3 million Soviet POWs died in Nazi custody, out of 5.25–5.7 million. This figure represents a total of 45–57% of all Soviet POWs and may be contrasted with 8,300 out of 231,000 British and U.S. prisoners, or 3.6%.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 9 July 2018, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 22 April 2013, WEB,weblink Gross-Rosen Timeline 1940–1945, 15 January 2009, Internet Wayback Machine, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., 5 April 2014, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 January 2009, About 5% of the Soviet prisoners who died were of Jewish ethnicity.[5]

    See also



    Further reading

    • BOOK

    , Bellamy
    , Chris
    , Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War
    , Macmillan
    , 2007
    , 978-0-375-41086-4
    , harv
    • Anderson, Dunkan, et al. The Eastern Front: Barbarossa, Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin (Campaigns of World War II). London: Amber Books Ltd., 2001. {{ISBN|0-7603-0923-X}}.
    • Beevor, Antony. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942–1943. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. {{ISBN|0-14-028458-3}}.
    • Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. New York: Penguin Books, 2002, {{ISBN|0-670-88695-5}}
    • Erickson, John. The Road to Stalingrad. Stalin's War against Germany. New York: Orion Publishing Group, 2007. {{ISBN|0-304-36541-6}}.
    • Erickson, John. The Road to Berlin. Stalin's War against Germany. New York: Orion Publishing Group, Ltd., 2007. {{ISBN|978-0-304-36540-1}}.
    • Erickson, John, and David Dilks. Barbarossa, the Axis and the Allies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995. {{ISBN|0-7486-0504-5}}.
    • Glantz, David, and Jonathan M. House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army stopped Hitler. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, Reprint edition, 1998. {{ISBN|0-7006-0899-0}}.
    • Glantz, David, weblink" title="">The Soviet‐German War 1941–45: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay.
    • Guderian, Heinz. Panzer Leader, Da Capo Press Reissue edition. New York: Da Capo Press, 2001. {{ISBN|0-306-81101-4}}.
    • Hastings, Max. Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944–1945. Vintage Books USA, 2005. {{ISBN|0-375-71422-7}}
    • BOOK, Hill, Alexander, 2016, The Red Army and the Second World War, UK, Cambridge University Press, 978-1107020795, harv,
    • International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, Germany. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Supplement A, USGPO, 1947.
    • BOOK

    , Krivosheev
    , Grigoriy
    , Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century
    , Greenhill Books
    , 1997
    , 1-85367-280-7
    , harv
    • Liddell Hart, B.H. History of the Second World War. United States of America: Da Capo Press, 1999. {{ISBN|0-306-80912-5}}.
    • Lubbeck, William and David B. Hurt. At Leningrad's Gates: The Story of a Soldier with Army Group North, Philadelphia: Casemate, 2006. {{ISBN|1-932033-55-6}}.
    • Mawdsley, Evan Thunder in the East: the Nazi–Soviet War, 1941–1945. London 2005. {{ISBN|0-340-80808-X}}.
    • Müller, Rolf-Dieter and Gerd R. Ueberschär. Hitler's War in the East 1941−1945|Hitler's War in the East, 1941–1945]: A Critical Assessment]. Berghahn Books, 1997. {{ISBN|1-57181-068-4}}.
    • Overy, Richard. Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941–1945, New Edition. New York: Penguin Books Ltd., 1998. {{ISBN|0-14-027169-4}}.
    • Schofield, Carey, ed. Russian at War, 1941–1945. Text by Georgii Drozdov and Evgenii Ryabko, [with] introd. by Vladimir Karpov [and] pref. by Harrison E. Salisbury, ed. by Carey Schofield. New York: Vendome Press, 1987. 256 p., copiously ill. with b&2 photos and occasional maps. N.B.: This is mostly a photo-history, with connecting texts. {{ISBN|0-88029-084-6}}
    • Seaton, Albert. The Russo-German War, 1941–1945, Reprint edition. Presidio Press, 1993. {{ISBN|0-89141-491-6}}.
    • Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany New York: Simon & Schuster.
    • Winterbotham, F.W. The Ultra Secret, New Edition. Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 2000. {{ISBN|0-7528-3751-6}}.
    • Ziemke, Earl F. Battle For Berlin: End of the Third Reich, NY:Ballantine Books, London:Macdomald & Co, 1969.
    • Ziemke, Earl F. The U.S. Army in the occupation of Germany 1944–1946, USGPO, 1975


    • Lak, Martijn. "Contemporary Historiography on the Eastern Front in World War II." Journal of Slavic Military Studies 28.3 (2015): 567–587. {{doi|10.1080/13518046.2015.1061828}}

    External links

    {{Wikisource|Adolf Hitler's Letter to Benito Mussolini Explaining the Invasion of the Soviet Union}}{{Wikisource|The Führer to the German People: 22 June 1941}}{{Wikisource|Adolf Hitler's Order of the Day to the German Troops on the Eastern Front (2 October 1941)}}{{Wikisource|Adolf Hitler Explains His Reasons for Invading the Soviet Union}}{{Wikisource|Adolf Hitler's Proclamation to the German Army on His Assumption of Direct Command}}{{Wikisource|Adolf Hitler's Speech at the Berlin Sportpalast (30 January 1942)}}


    • "Operation Typhoon": {{YouTube|e4XEbJOqTCo}}, lecture by David Stahel, author of Operation Typhoon. Hitler's March on Moscow (2013) and The Battle for Moscow (2015); via the official channel of USS Silversides Museum.
    • "Fighting a Lost War: The German Army in 1943": {{YouTube|1SdO-btKuds}}, lecture by Robert Citino, via the official channel of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.
    • "Kursk, The Epic Armored Engagement": {{YouTube|N6xLMUifbxQ}}, via the official channel of The National WWII Museum; session by the Robert Citino and Jonathan Parshall at the 2013 International Conference on World War II.
    • "Mindset of WWII German Soldiers": {{YouTube|4eIn0IBsnBE}}—interview with the historian Sönke Neitzel discussing his book Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing and Dying, via the official channel of The Agenda, a programme of TVOntario, a Canadian public television station.
    • "How the Red Army Defeated Germany: The Three Alibis": {{YouTube|zinPbUZUHDE}}—lecture by Jonathan M. House of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, via the official channel of Dole Institute of Politics.
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