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The Soviet-German War. 1941 – 1945 By Krieger. "Business Partners". August 23 1939, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ensures non-aggression between Hitler and Stalin Secret condition dictates division of territory including Poland, Finland and Baltic States

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The soviet german war l.jpg

The Soviet-German War

1941 – 1945

By Krieger

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"Business Partners"

  • August 23 1939, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ensures non-aggression between Hitler and Stalin

    • Secret condition dictates division of territory including Poland, Finland and Baltic States

  • Shortly after pact is signed, Nazi Germany invades Poland, prompting France and Great Britain to declare war

    • Soviet Union invades Poland on Sept. 17, 1939

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Misplaced Trust?

  • Following the conquest of mainland Europe, Hitler starts to look East

  • Despite reports from Soviet spies and captured German soldiers announcing the date of the invasion, Stalin refuses to believe reports of any German threat

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Operation Barbarossa

  • June 22nd, 1941 – Over three million soldiers of the Wehrmacht invade the Soviet Union

    • Divided into Army Groups North, Center, and South

  • Soviet soldiers caught off guard are either killed, captured or found deserting

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Initial Success

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Faltering Blitzkrieg

  • Stavka (Soviet High Command) makes plans to move Soviet factories towards the Ural Mountains in the east

    • Lack of long-range bomber puts targets out of Luftwaffe’s reach

  • Fighting in areas such as Smolensk and Sevastopol slow German advance even more

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The Gates of Moscow

  • After freeing up route to Moscow, Army Group Center dashes to the capital in late 1941

    • advance halts 30 km outside of the city

  • Soviet counter-attack commanded by Georgy Zhukov pushes Germans back

    • Counter-attacks continue through January 1942

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  • Beginning in Sept. 1941, Army Group North besieges the city of Leningrad

  • Siege lasts over 900 days, lifted by the Soviets in Jan. 1944

    • Over 1 million Soviet citizens perished from bombardment or starvation

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A New Objective

  • After failing to capture Moscow, Hitler orders the Wehrmacht to strike south with aims to reach the oilfields in the Caucasus Mountains

  • Wehrmacht appears revitalized, pushing the Red Army to the Volga River by August 1942

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War of the Rats

  • In August 1942, the Wehrmacht begins attack on Stalingrad starting with massive bombardment

    • The ruined city plays to Soviets’ advantage, supplying many areas to hide

  • Bitter street fighting ensues, leaving the Germans virtually stranded in the city through the Russian winter

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War of the Rats cont.

  • In November 1942, Soviets counter-attacked in Operation Uranus

    • Trapped the German 6th Army

    • By Jan. 1943 they were forced into surrender

  • Battle of Stalingrad proved to be the turning point in the war

    • Costliest battle in history; up to 2 million casualties overall

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  • In July 1943, Wehrmacht attempted encircling 3 Soviet armies in salient near city of Kursk

    • The Soviets, well aware of the plan for some time, built up elaborate lines of defense

  • The resulting clash would end up as largest armored engagement in history

    • Also included most costly day in aerial combat history

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The Gates of Hell

  • In January 1944, 56,000 elite German soldiers are encircled at Korsun-Cherkassy

    • The original rescue plan was altered by Hitler to attempt to outflank the attacking Soviets

    • About 35,000 of the soldiers were able to escape

  • Though mostly a success, the incident served as an example of the increasing Soviet threat in both size and skill

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Retaking the Motherland

  • Throughout 1944, the Soviet Union starts to regain the last of the territory lost since the war started in 1941

  • Local resistances in German-occupied countries inadvertently help the Soviets retake territory

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Operation Bagration

  • June 22nd, 1944 (3 years after Barbarossa), the Soviets launch a secret massive attack against Army Group Center

    • The Germans expected an attack on the weakened Army Group South

  • This offensive combined with another operation brought the Soviets within reach of Warsaw by the end of July

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Beginning of the End

  • Vistula-Oder Offensive, Soviets take Baltic States, East Prussia, etc.

    • 60 mi. east of Berlin by end of offensive

  • Enter Austria on March 30, 1945

    • Capture Vienna by April 13

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Der Untergang

  • April 20, 1945 (Hitler’s birthday) – Soviets begin shelling center of Berlin

    • Don’t cease until city surrendered

    • Hitler commits suicide 10 days later

  • German High Command surrenders unconditionally May 8, 1945

    • V-E Day celebrated globally the next day

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  • Post-War Germany divided into four zones

    • Eastern half occupied by Soviets for 4 decades

  • Axis forces deaths more than 4 million

    • Soviet military/civilian deaths over 20 million

  • War covered more land than all other WWII fronts combined

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  • Books

    • Glantz, David and Jonathan House. When Titans Clashed. University Press of Kansas: Lawrence, Kansas 1995.

    • Bonn, Keith E. Slaughterhouse: Handbook of the Eastern Front. The Aberjona Press: Bedford, PA 2005.

    • Pleshakov, Constantine. Stalin’s Folly. Hougthton Mifflin Company: New York, NY 2005.

  • Website