The Russian Front

Introduction

''One hard kick on the door will bring the whole rotten structure crumbling down!'' were the very words Hitler told his Nazi supporters during the preparation for the Russian campaign. In the year 1941, after operation Sea Lion was a clear failure and operations in North Africa were being foiled, the Germans reverted to an invasion of Russia. Victory over the Soviet Union would open the world to the Nazi armies. In preparation the Nazi army divided itself into three different Army Groups, each one consisting of several Panzergruppen and many Infantry divisions. Army Group Centre was to push forward towards Moscow, Army Group North's objective was Leningrad and South had to take the frozen and desolate oil fields. Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany were to clash.

Kiev
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PPSH-41


The battle for Kiev was an astounding success for the Germans as each Army Group donated a minimum of one regiment to ensure victory. Kiev was all that stood between the Germans and marching straight into Russia! But the small town of Kiev was heavily defended with around four million Soviet troopers defending the Bastion. To get around this problem the efficient Nazi generals came up with a plan. Victory in Kiev was essential for the different Army Groups to even get close to achieving their objectives. Operation Barbarossa was to be initiated. To take Kiev the Germans would have to first form a reliable bridgehead. To complete this task the Nazis attacked the Russian defences, took them, and managed to hold them against ceaseless counter-attacks. Once this was achieved the going was easy as the Germans started to encircle. The Nazis could march for days, as morale was at an all time high. But the Soviets took their toll as by the time the pincer movement was almost complete Panzergruppen 2 was down to ten battle ready tanks. But by the 16th of September 1941, as the Nazi reconnassance parties met the greatest encirclement of military forces in the history of mankind was complete. The Germans decimated the Soviets in Kiev but ironically failed to storm Moscow as Army Group Centre ground to a halt and were forced to withdraw.

Leningrad


In 1941, Leningrad, ancient Tsarist capital and Army Group North's target, came under seige as the Germans prepared to draw the noose on the city. Army Group North led the assault and hemmed in the Red Army in with their backs against the wall, or water to be more accurate as Leningrad was a city positioned on the edge of Lake Lagoda. But just as the Nazi armies were about to walk straight into the city and conquer it the winter arrived and troops had no other choice but to sit and wait. The winter brought advantages as well as disadvantages for the Soviets. The main problem was that in the cold winter food supplies dwindled and civilians began to starve. But in a attempt to counter this problem the Soviets sent supplies over the frozen Lake Lagoda, but even so food was still scarce. But the Germans had the difficult debate about how to achieve their objectives. Many believed that the noose was not drawn tight around the city s
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Russian trooper
o they prepared for a major strike on the city in the early spring months. Trains with hundreds of troops and artillery pieces. So when the spring arrived the Germans were ready for the assault, but not for what happened next. In the spring the lake remained frozen so, as food stores were capable of sustaining themselves again, the Soviet High Command (SHC) ordered the transportation of troops to the front lines. As a result they launched a series of crippling counter-attacks, each of which used up stupendous amounts of Nazi resources and achieved a stalemate the Nazi generals could not come back from. So the siege of Leningrad was effectively over and German morale was shattered.

Stalingrad


As the encirclement of Army Group Centre lost momentum and the defending Soviet armies collapsed the German generals saw their advantage and struck, tearing straight through the defence like a knife through hot butter. But of course, yet again the weather, the one thing the Germans couldn't conquer, took its toll. As the Nazi armies were recovering from the winter rains and trying to re-secure territory, spring brought torrential rain and armour on both sides got bogged down and started a standstill. But, eventually, the Germans crept up into Russian positions and broke through, just as the rainwater cleared. They marched on to Stalingrad, but were faced by heavy resistance as civilians took up army and formed militia. The Germans forces struck deep into Stalingrad, but the organised and disciplined Nazi divisions were broken up and scattered among the derelict buildings and crumbling rubble. Factories were heavily contested and many traded hands several times during the battle. The fighting was fierce, but eventually the Soviet troops managed to overwhelm the German forces, encircling them. Unfortunately, for the Nazi soldiers, a break out was not possible, as the infantry was too slow as were many of the armoured columns, even the fastest ones had run out of fuel. The only troops capable of withdrawing were the Romanian cavalry, but in their hunger, they had eaten their horses! But within this chaos, the Russians managed to develop new armies for future battles.

Kursk


The battle of Kursk was an epic failure for the Nazi forces as Hitler himself said: ''The Nazi tide will not be stopped at Kursk, we are too powerful, us alone will conquer the world''. He had a good reason to believe this as elite Wehrmacht regiments and crack SS divisions were preparing to assault the position with the support of well supplied armoured columns to boost the pincer movement through the Soviet defences, as the German armies held the flanks to the north and south of a heavily fortified salient. But once again the weather postponed the attack. The task at hand for the Nazi troops was very ambitious as defensive positions were set up, manned by over a million Soviet soldiers and secretly positioned mines covering the flanks. So when the attack finally started the Germans were astounded as the ground exploded before them and their tanks decimated! Entire Panzergruppens were destroyed by the mines and the pincer movement was a immediate failure. The Soviets saw their advantage and launched devastating counter-attacks. Thousands of troops poured into the breach, annihilating all resistance standing in their path, even the finest of the Wehrmacht couldn't stop the relentless tide as the Russians launched a multi front assault, levelling the front and decimated the flanking encampments destroying German troops and morale.
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T-34 Tank

Berlin


One goal was completely overlooked in the liberation of Europe, the capture of Berlin, the German capital and the beating heart of the Fascist empire, would effectively end the raging war in Europe. Most thought the race for Berlin was on but it wasn't like that, because just as both armies, the Allies coming from Operation Overlord ( Click Here or Here for more infomation ) and the Soviets coming from the East, were drawing around the city the Americans agreed with the Soviet Union that the Soviets could take the city while the Allies were to halt their armies, despite the fact that all that stood between them and Berlin were a few scattered and disorganised Luftwaffe ground personnel. Stalin arranged this for two reasons, primarily so they could get their glorious vengeance and the other reason so that his fearsome Red Army could take as much of SE Europe as possible. But eventually they had to strike the city so they produced a battle plan. Three fronts, each consisting of a single Battle Group, were to push forward towards the city. The first Battle Group, the first Belorussian under command of astounding general Zhukov, were to push forward to Berlin, the second Battle Group, the second Belorussian under command of veteran general Rokossovski, were to take as much of South East Europe as possible and the third Battle Group, the first Ukrainian under command of famous general Koniev, were to cut in
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Nazi soldier
through the east and cut off Nazi Battle Group Vistula on the river of that name. But yet again the advance was halted to attack the German forces entrenched in Pomeria. But before the Russian forces could assault Berlin one final bastion had to be overun, the bastion of Seelow Heights. It was quickly destroyed as the first Ukrainian decimated the Nazi Battle Group Vistula. The first strike was made by the Third Shock Army, the Second and the Forty-seventh Guards Tanks Divisions, tearing straight into Pankow in the north of Berlin. Next a devastating artillery bombardment shattered the apparent impenetrable defences but even so it wasn't over. The fact about Berlin is that despite the Soviets outnumbered the Germans, as the Soviets had two and a half million men against only one million Nazi supporters, the battle would have to be strategically mastered as Berlin had a complex metro system capable of mass troop transportation but the city was mainly defended by words instead of actaul force. So it was, as Soviet onslaught raged on, that Hitler committed suicide, abandoning his cause. Consequently within a week the Soviet flag wavered in the wind at the top of the Reichstag, signalling to all Berlin that the bloodied heart of the fascist empire had been destroyed, but at the cost of three hundred thousand Russian lives.

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Soviet flag on the Reichstag

Conclusion


Throughout the whole of the Russian conflict the Soviet Union had lost over twenty million men from Kiev to Berlin but managed to secure large amounts of territory in southeast Europe. But soon the Soviets turned against the Allies and went on to start the Cold War!