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|Army Group Centre|
|Disbanded||25 January 1945|
|Fedor von Bock|
Army Group Centre (German : Heeresgruppe Mitte) was the name of two distinct strategic German Army Groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). On 25 January 1945, after it was encircled in the Königsberg pocket, Army Group Centre was renamed Army Group North (Heeresgruppe Nord), and Army Group A (Heeresgruppe A) became Army Group Centre. The latter formation retained its name until the end of the war in Europe.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
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 (U.S.S.R.), 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 in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The commander in chief on the formation of the Army Group Centre (22 June 1941) was Fedor von Bock.
Moritz Albrecht Franz Friedrich Fedor von Bock was a German field marshal who served in the German army during the Second World War. Bock served as the commander of Army Group North during the Invasion of Poland in 1939, commander of Army Group B during the Invasion of France in 1940, and later as the commander of Army Group Center during the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941; his final command was that of Army Group South in 1942.
On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany and its Axis allies launched their surprise offensive into the Soviet Union. Their armies, totaling over three million men, were to advance in three geographical directions. Army Group Centre's initial strategic goal was to defeat the Soviet armies in Belarus and occupy Smolensk. To accomplish this, the army group planned for a rapid advance using Blitzkrieg operational methods for which purpose it commanded two panzer groups rather than one. A quick and decisive victory over the Soviet Union was expected by mid-November. The Army Group's other operational missions were to support the army groups on its northern and southern flanks, the army group boundary for the later being the Pripyat River.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.
Blitzkrieg is a method of warfare whereby an attacking force, spearheaded by a dense concentration of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations with close air support, breaks through the opponent's line of defence by short, fast, powerful attacks and then dislocates the defenders, using speed and surprise to encircle them with the help of air superiority. Through the employment of combined arms in manoeuvre warfare, blitzkrieg attempts to unbalance the enemy by making it difficult for it to respond to the continuously changing front, then defeat it in a decisive Vernichtungsschlacht.
Bitter fighting in the Battle of Smolensk as well as the Lötzen decision delayed the German advance for two months. The advance of Army Group Centre was further delayed as Hitler ordered a postponement of the offensive against Moscow in order to conquer Ukraine first.
The First Battle of Smolensk was a battle during the second phase of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, in World War II. It was fought around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km (250 mi) west of Moscow. The Wehrmacht had advanced 500 km (310 mi) into the USSR in the 18 days after the invasion on 22 June 1941. The German army encountered unexpected resistance during the battle, leading to a two-month delay in their advance on Moscow.
Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.
The commander in chief as of 19 December 1941 was Günther von Kluge (for a short time before Christmas of 1941, this role was fulfilled by Günther Blumentritt).
Günther Adolf Ferdinand von Kluge, also known as Hans Günther von Kluge, was a German field marshal during World War II who held commands on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He commanded the 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Battle of France in 1940, earning a promotion to Generalfeldmarschall. Kluge went on to command the 4th Army in Operation Barbarossa and the Battle for Moscow in 1941.
Günther Blumentritt was an officer in World War I, who became a Staff Officer under the Weimar Republic and went on to serve as a general for Nazi Germany during World War II. He served throughout the war, mostly on the Western Front, and mostly as a Staff Officer, though he was eventually given his own Corps and made a General der Infanterie. Blumentritt was instrumental in planning the 1939 German invasion of Poland and the 1940 invasion of France, he participated in Operation Barbarossa, and afterward bore a large part of the responsibility for planning the defense of the Atlantic Wall and Normandy. After the war, Blumentritt gave an affidavit at the Nuremberg Trials, though he never testified in person, and then later helped in the rearmament of Germany during the Cold War and the development of the modern German army.
1942 opened for Army Group Centre with continuing attacks from Soviet forces around Rzhev. The German Ninth Army was able to repel these attacks and stabilise its front, despite continuing large-scale partisan activity in its rear areas. Meanwhile, the German strategic focus on the Eastern Front shifted to southwestern Russia, with the launching of Operation Blue in June. This operation, aimed at the oilfields in the southwestern Caucasus, involved Army Group South alone, with the other German army groups giving up troops and equipment for the offensive.
The 9th Army was a World War II field army. It was activated on 15 May 1940 with General Johannes Blaskowitz in command.
The Caucasus or Caucasia is an area situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Despite the focus on the south, Army Group Centre continued to see fierce fighting throughout the year. While the Soviet attacks in early 1942 had not driven the Germans back, they had resulted in several Red Army units being trapped behind German lines. Eliminating the pockets took until July, the same month in which the Soviets made another attempt to break through the army group's front; the attempt failed, but the front line was pushed back closer to Rzhev. The largest Soviet operation in the army group's sector that year, Operation Mars, took place in November. It was launched concurrently with Operation Uranus, the counteroffensive against the German assault on Stalingrad. The operation was repulsed with very heavy Soviet losses, although it did have the effect of pinning down German units that could have been sent to the fighting around Stalingrad.
Following the disaster of Stalingrad and poor results of the Voronezh defensive operations, the army high command expected another attack on Army Group Centre in early 1943. However, Hitler had decided to strike first. Before this strike could be launched, Operation Büffel was launched to forestall any possible Soviet spring offensives, by evacuating the Rzhev Salient to shorten the frontline.
The commander in chief as of 12 October 1943 was Ernst Busch.
The following major anti-partisan operations were conducted in the rear of Army Group Centre, alongside many smaller operations:
Increasing coordination of the partisan activity resulted in the conducting of Operation Concert against the German forces.
In the spring of 1944, Stavka started concentrating forces along the front line in central Russia for a summer offensive against Army Group Centre. The Red Army also carried out a masterful deception campaign (Maskirovka) to convince the Wehrmacht that the main Soviet summer offensive would be launched further south, against Army Group North Ukraine. The German High Command was fooled and armored units were moved south out of Army Group Centre.
The offensive, code-named Operation Bagration, was launched on 22 June 1944. 185 Red Army divisions comprising 2.3 million soldiers and 4,000 tanks and assault guns smashed into the German positions on a front of 200 km. The 800,000-strong Army Group Centre was crushed. It is estimated that 300,000 - 550,000 Germans became casualties, including 100,000 - 150,000 captured. The Soviet forces raced forward, liberating Minsk on 3 July, the rest of Belorussia by mid-July, and reaching the Vistula and the Baltic States by early August. In terms of casualties this was the greatest German defeat of the entire war.
The commander in chief of Army Group Centre as of 28 June 1944 was Walter Model.
The commander in chief as of 16 August 1944 was Georg Hans Reinhardt.
Discussion of the army group's situation in January 1945 should note that the army groups in the east changed names later that month. The force known as "Army Group Centre" at the start of the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive on 12 January 1945 was renamed "Army Group North" less than two weeks after the offensive commenced. At the start of the Vistula-Oder Offensive, the Soviet forces facing Army Group Centre outnumbered the Germans on average by 2:1 in troops, 3:1 in artillery, and 5.5:1 in tanks and self-propelled artillery.The Soviet superiority in troop strength grows to almost 3:1 if 200,000 Volkssturm militia are not included in German personnel strength totals.
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 Centre fought in the defence of Slovakia and Bohemia-Moravia as well as sections of the German heartland.
The last Soviet campaign of the war in the European theater, which led to the fall of Berlin and the end of the war in Europe with the surrender of all German forces to the Allies. The three Soviet Fronts involved in the campaign had altogether 2.5 million men, 6,250 tanks, 7,500 aircraft, 41,600 artillery pieces and mortars, 3,255 truck-mounted Katyusha rocket launchers (nicknamed "Stalin Organs" by the Germans), and 95,383 motor vehicles. The campaign started with the battle of Oder-Neisse. Army Group Centre commanded by Ferdinand Schörner (the commander in chief as of 17 January 1945) had a front that included the river Neisse. Before dawn on the morning of 16 April 1945 the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of General Konev started the attack over the river Neisse with a short but massive bombardment by tens of thousands of artillery pieces.
Some of the Army Group Centre continued to resist until 11 May 1945, by which time the overwhelming force of the Soviet Armies sent to liberate Czechoslovakia in the Prague Offensive gave them no option but to surrender or be killed.
By 7 May 1945, the day that German Chief-of-Staff General Alfred Jodl was negotiating surrender of all German forces at SHAEF, the German Armed Forces High Command (AFHC) had not heard from Schörner since 2 May 1945. He had reported that he intended to fight his way west and surrender his army group to the Americans. On 8 May 1945, a colonel from the Allied Forces High Command was escorted through the American lines to see Schörner. The colonel reported that Schörner had ordered the men under his operational command to observe the surrender but that he could not guarantee that he would be obeyed everywhere. Later that day, Schörner deserted his command and flew to Austria where on 18 May 1945 he was arrested by the Americans.
|№||Commander||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
Fedor von Bock
|22 June 1941||19 December 1941||180 days|
Günther von Kluge
|19 December 1941||12 October 1943||1 year, 297 days|
|29 October 1943||28 June 1944||243 days|
|28 June 1944||16 August 1944||49 days|
|16 August 1944||17 January 1945||154 days|
|17 January 1945||25 January 1945||8 days|
Operation Bagration was the codename for the Soviet 1944 Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation, a military campaign fought between 23 June and 19 August 1944 in Soviet Byelorussia in the Eastern Front of World War II. The Soviet Union inflicted the biggest defeat in German military history by destroying 28 out of 34 divisions of Army Group Centre and completely shattered the German front line.
Ferdinand Schörner was a general and later Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several army groups and was the last Commander-in-chief of the German Army.
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation, commanding a grouping of field armies during World War II. The German Army Group was subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), the German army high command, and coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics, including the Army Group North Rear Area.
The Prague Offensive was the last major military operation of World War II in Europe. The offensive was fought on the Eastern Front from 6 May to 11 May 1945. Fought concurrently with the Prague uprising, the offensive was one of the last engagements of World War II in Europe and continued after Nazi Germany's unconditional capitulation on 8 May.
The 4th Panzer Division was an armored division in the German Army, the Wehrmacht, during World War II, established in 1938.
The Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive or Lvov-Sandomierz Strategic Offensive Operation was a major Red Army operation to force the German troops from Ukraine and Eastern Poland. Launched in mid-July 1944, the Red Army achieved its set objectives by the end of August.
The XXXIX Panzer Corps was a German panzer corps which saw action on the Western and Eastern Fronts during World War II.
The 7th Panzer Division was an armored formation of the German Army in World War II. It participated in the Battle of France, the invasion of the Soviet Union, the occupation of Vichy France, and on the Eastern Front until the end of the war. The 7th Panzer Division is sometimes known by its nickname, Ghost Division.
The Second Battle of Târgu Frumos, part of the First Jassy-Kishinev Offensive, was a military engagement primarily between the Wehrmacht and Red Army forces in May 1944, near Iași, Romania.
The Baltic Offensive, also known as the Baltic Strategic Offensive, denotes the campaign between the northern Fronts of the Red Army and the German Army Group North in the Baltic States during the autumn of 1944. The result of the series of battles was the isolation and encirclement of the Army Group North in the Courland Pocket and Soviet re-occupation of the Baltic States.
The 17th Panzer Division was a formation of the Wehrmacht in World War II. It was formed in November 1940 from the 27th Infantry Division. It took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and in the winter of 1941–42 participated in the Battle of Moscow. In November 1942, the division was sent to the southern sector of the Eastern Front where it participated in Operation Winter Storm, the failed attempt to relieve the surrounded troops at Stalingrad. The division was held in reserve during the Battle of Kursk in 1943, and thereafter retreated through Ukraine and Poland, before ending the war in Czechoslovakia.
The 3rd Panzer Army was a German armoured formation during World War II, formed from the 3rd Panzer Group on 1 January 1942.
XXXXI Panzer Corps was a Panzer (armoured) corps in the German Army during World War II.
The Upper Silesian Offensive was a strategically significant Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front of World War II in 1945. It was aimed at capturing the considerable industrial and natural resources located in Upper Silesia and involved forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev. Due to the importance of the region to the Germans, considerable forces were provided to Army Group Centre for its defence and the Germans were only slowly pushed back to the Czech border. Fighting for the region lasted from mid January right until the last day of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945.
XLVII Panzer Corps was a panzer corps of the German Army in World War II that was formerly designated as XLVII Corps. Various formations of the corps fought in the French campaign of 1940, in the invasion of Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944, and on the Western Front from June 1944 until April 1945.
The 25th Panzergrenadier Division fought in the central sector of the Eastern front from June 1943 to July 1944. It was destroyed in the encirclement east of Minsk and reformed in October 1944. It then fought in Western Europe between October 1944 and January 1945 and in eastern Germany January to May 1945. Most of the survivors of the division surrendered to the western Allies.
This is the Juno Beach order of battle on D-Day.
The Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive was an offensive by the Red Army's 3rd Ukrainian Front and elements of the 4th Ukrainian Front against the German 6th Army in the area of Nikopol and Krivoi Rog in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in central Ukraine between 30 January and 29 February 1944. It took place on the Eastern Front of World War II and was part of the wider Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, a Soviet attack against Army Group South to retake the rest of Ukraine that fell to Germany in 1941.
The 16th Guards Tank Division was a tank division of the Soviet Army and later the Russian Ground Forces.
The XXIV Army Corps was a unit of the German Army during World War II. The unit was re-designated several times; originally being Generalkommando der Grenztruppen Saarpfalz, later Generalkommando XXIV. Armeekorps, then XXIV. Armeekorps (mot.) and finally XXIV. Panzerkorps.