East Pomeranian Offensive

Last updated
East Pomeranian Offensive
East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive Operation
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Soviet Red Army troops manning two M17 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC) self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles (half-tracks) in Danzig in March of 1945.
Date24 February – 4 April 1945
Result Soviet victory
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Poland
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Walter Weiß
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Dietrich von Saucken
(2nd Army)
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Konstantin Rokossovsky
(2nd Belorussian Front)
Unknown 996,100 [1]
Casualties and losses


  • 55,315 killed or missing
  • 179,045 wounded [1]

Materiel destroyed or captured

  • 1,027 tanks and self-propelled guns [2]
  • 1,005 guns and mortars [2]
  • 1,073 aircraft [2]

The East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive operation (Russian : Восточно-Померанская наступательная операция) was an offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. It took place in Pomerania and West Prussia from 10 February – 4 April 1945.


The operation happened in four phases:

Konitz-Köslin Offensive Operation 24 February – 6 March 1945
Danzig Offensive Operation 7–31 March 1945
Arnswalde-Kolberg Offensive Operation 1–18 March 1945
Altdamm Offensive Operation 18 March – 4 April 1945 (near Stettin)

It was the East Pomeranian Offensive that prevented Zhukov from reaching Berlin in February (the object of the massive Vistula–Oder Offensive), since it became a priority to clear German forces from Pomerania first.


Pomeranian and Silesian offensives Pomerania and Silesia.jpg
Pomeranian and Silesian offensives

The 2nd Belorussian Front—under Konstantin Rokossovsky—had initially been tasked with advancing westward north of the Vistula River toward Pomerania and the major port city of Danzig, with the primary aim of protecting the right flank of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front, which was pushing towards Berlin. During the East Prussian Offensive, however, Rokossovsky was ordered to wheel directly north toward Elbing. [3] This left substantial German forces intact in Pomerania, where they threatened the right flank of Zhukov's formations.

As a result, once the initial phase of the East Prussian Offensive was over, the 2nd Belorussian Front was redeployed with the intention of attacking westwards into Pomerania, eliminating the possibility of a German counter-offensive (similarly, the parallel Silesian Offensives of Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front in the south were in part designed to protect the 1st Belorussian Front's left flank). The need to secure the flanks delayed the Soviets' final push towards Berlin, which was originally planned for February, until April.

Joseph Stalin's decision to delay the push toward Berlin from February to April has been a subject of some controversy among both the Soviet generals and military historians, with one side arguing that the Soviets had a chance of securing Berlin much quicker and with much lower losses in February, and the other arguing that the danger of leaving large German formations on the flanks could have resulted in a successful German counter-attack and prolonged the war further: the Germans did in fact mount a surprise counter-attack in Pomerania in mid-February, Operation Solstice. The delay did, however, allow the Soviets to occupy significant parts of Austria in the Vienna Offensive.

German intelligence

As early as 13 February, German intelligence services had deduced that the Soviets would seek to clear Pomerania before advancing on Berlin. The 2nd Army—defending a large and exposed sector running through Pomerania eastward toward the edge of East Prussia at Elbing — sought permission to withdraw, but this was denied by Adolf Hitler. [4] Graudenz, on the Vistula, was surrounded on 18 February (the garrison, from the 83rd Infantry Division—finally surrendered the following month).



The corps of the Second Army were seriously understrength by this time, being composed largely of fragmentary or ad hoc units. The 3rd Panzer Army had been rebuilt using the korps of the recently formed 11th SS Panzer Army, the original formation having been largely destroyed in Lithuania and East Prussia, where its remnants were now defending Königsberg.

Red Army

The offensive


German infantrymen during street fighting in Wollin, March 1945 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H26409, Pommern, Wollin, Infanterie bei Strassenkampfen.jpg
German infantrymen during street fighting in Wollin, March 1945

Rokossovsky opened the offensive on 24 February using the fresh troops of Kozlov's 19th Army, but after an initial advance of some 20 km (12 mi) they were halted by intense German resistance. On 26 February, he inserted the 3rd Guards Tank Corps east of Neustettin, where they achieved a penetration of 40 km (25 mi), and relieved Kozlov of command. [5] The 3rd Guards Tank Corps broke through at Baldenburg, while Neustettin on the Front's left flank fell to the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps on 27 February.

Weiß had hurriedly assembled the VII Panzer Corps, including the remnants of the 7th Panzer Division, at Rummelsburg to threaten 19th Army's flank. However, after a Soviet breakthrough at Köslin on 2 March, the 2nd Army found itself completely cut off from the rest of its Army Group.

1st Belorussian Front joins the attack

Soviet IS-2 in Stargard, 19 March 1945 Radziecki czolg IS-2 na ul. Chrobrego, przy istniejacych do dzis zabudowaniach.jpg
Soviet IS-2 in Stargard, 19 March 1945

Zhukov's right wing—a grouping of the 3rd Shock Army and 1st and 2nd Guards Tank Armies—went over to the offensive on 1 March, striking northward with the main force concentrated at Reetz. The entire left wing of 3rd Panzer Army was cut off by their breakthrough, after Guderian refused Raus' request for withdrawal; the right flank withdrew towards Stettin. [6]

On 4 March, forward Soviet tank units reached the Baltic, and the German forces in Pomerania were trapped in a series of encirclements. The 2nd Army began to fall back on the Danzig fortified area, while the X SS Corps of the 3rd Panzer Army had been surrounded at Dramburg.

The second phase

Rokossovsky opened the second phase of his offensive on March 6. The 2nd Shock Army threatened to cut off the defending forces in the fortress of Marienburg, which was evacuated two days later, while in the east Elbing finally fell on 10 March. The defence of Marienburg was conducted by a Kampfgruppe under the nominal control of the staff of the 7th Infantry Division, including marine, SS and other units. Weiß, having warned that the Elbing pocket could not be held, was relieved of command on 9 March and replaced by Dietrich von Saucken. The troops of the German 2nd Army withdrew in disarray into Danzig and Gdingen, where the 2nd Belorussian Front besieged them. Zhukov's forces meanwhile, cleared the remainder of 3rd Panzer Army from the east bank of the lower Oder, driving the Germans from their last positions in a bridgehead at Altdamm.

Siege of Kolberg

Many civilian refugees from Pomerania had fled into the coastal town of Kolberg, which was surrounded by 4 March. Nevertheless, the town was successfully defended until 18 March, by which time evacuation was almost complete.

Siege of Danzig

The Danzig-Gotenhafen (Gdingen) Fortified Area—also the main port for refugees from East Prussia escaping to the west—was ordered to be defended for as long as possible by von Saucken in order to keep the evacuation routes open.

Rokossovsky opened his final offensive on 15 March 1945; the main thrust, toward the coast at Zoppot between Gdingen and Danzig, being undertaken by the 70th and 49th Army advancing in parallel. [7] The fighting was savage, but by 19 March 1945 the Soviet spearheads had reached the heights over Zoppot, while the 4th Panzer Division had been pushed back to the outskirts of Danzig itself. By 22 March 1945, the 70th Army reached the sea, splitting the German defence. Gdingen was taken on 26 March 1945, its defenders and many civilians retreating to the headland at Oxhöft, from where they were evacuated to the Hel Peninsula.

Danzig finally fell on 30 March 1945, after which the remnants of the 2nd Army withdrew to the Vistula delta southeast of the city. Evacuation of civilians and military personnel from there and from the Hel Peninsula continued until 10 May 1945. The Soviets declared the East Pomeranian Offensive complete a week after the fall of Danzig.

According to Soviet claims, in the Battle of Danzig the Germans lost 39,000 soldiers dead and 10,000 captured. [8]

See also


  1. 1 2 Glantz (1995), p. 300
  2. 1 2 3 Liedtke 2008, p. 585.
  3. Duffy, p.170
  4. Duffy, pp.186–7
  5. Duffy, p.187
  6. Duffy, p.188
  7. Duffy, p.223
  8. http://9may.ru/30.03.1945/inform/m4219

Related Research Articles

Battle of Berlin 1945 last major offensive of the European theatre of World War II

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.

Operation Bagration Large Soviet military offensive in WW2

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. It was the fifth deadliest campaign on the European war scene, killing around 450,000 soldiers.

Ivan Chernyakhovsky Soviet military commander (1907-1945)

Ivan Danilovich Chernyakhovsky was the youngest ever Soviet general of the army. For his leadership during World War II he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union twice. He died from wounds received outside Königsberg at age 37 while in command of the 3rd Belorussian Front.

Konstantin Rokossovsky Soviet and Polish military commander

Konstantin Konstantinovich (Xaverevich) Rokossovsky was a Soviet and Polish officer who became Marshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of Poland, and served as Poland's Defence Minister from 1949 until his removal in 1956 during the Polish October. He was among the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II.

2nd Belorussian Front front

The 1st Belorussian Front was a military formation, of Army group size, of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. Soviet army groups were known as Fronts.

1st Belorussian Front

The 1st Belorussian Front was a major formation of the Soviet Army during World War II, being equivalent to a Western army group.

Vistula–Oder Offensive conflict

The Vistula–Oder Offensive was a Red Army operation on the Eastern Front in the European theatre of World War II in January 1945. The army made a major advance into German-held territory, capturing Kraków, Warsaw and Poznań. The Red Army had built up their strength around a number of key bridgeheads, with two fronts commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Marshal Ivan Konev. Against them, the German Army Group A, led by Colonel-General Josef Harpe, was outnumbered 5:1. Within days, German commandants evacuated the concentration camps, sending the prisoners on their death marches to the west, where ethnic Germans also started fleeing. In a little over two weeks, the Red Army had advanced 300 miles (483 km) from the Vistula to the Oder, only 43 miles (69 km) from Berlin, which was undefended. However, Zhukov called a halt, owing to continued German resistance on his northern flank (Pomerania), and the advance on Berlin had to be delayed until April.

Battle of the Seelow Heights WWII German-Soviet military engagement

The Battle of the Seelow Heights was part of the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation. A pitched battle, it was one of the last assaults on large entrenched defensive positions of the Second World War. It was fought over three days, from 16–19 April 1945. Close to 1,000,000 Soviet soldiers of the 1st Belorussian Front, commanded by Marshal Georgi Zhukov, attacked the position known as the "Gates of Berlin". They were opposed by about 110,000 soldiers of the German 9th Army, commanded by General Theodor Busse, as part of the Army Group Vistula.

Battle of the Oder–Neisse

The Battle of the Oder–Neisse is the German name for the initial (operational) phase of one of the last two strategic offensives conducted by the Red Army in the Campaign in Central Europe during World War II. Its initial breakthrough phase was fought over four days, from 16 April until 19 April 1945, within the larger context of the Battle of Berlin. The Soviet military planners divide the frontal and pincer phases of the operation, named Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation into:

Army Group Vistula was an Army Group of the Wehrmacht, formed on 24 January 1945. It lasted for 105 days, having been put together from elements of Army Group A, Army Group Centre, and a variety of new or ad hoc formations. It was formed to protect Berlin from the Soviet armies advancing from the Vistula River.

East Prussian Offensive Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front in World War II

The East Prussian Offensive was a strategic offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. It lasted from 13 January to 25 April 1945, though some German units did not surrender until 9 May. The Battle of Königsberg was a major part of the offensive, which ended in victory for the Red Army.

The defense of the Schwedt bridgehead was a German 3rd Panzer Army operation on the Eastern Front during the final months of World War II. German forces, commanded by Otto Skorzeny, were ordered to prepare to conduct a counter-offensive. However they were forced to hold a bridgehead against expected numerically superior forces of the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front for 31 days. Their position was largely ignored during the Red Army's Cottbus-Potsdam Offensive Operation which breached German defenses at Gartz to the north of Schwedt. This was unexpected because it required the Red Army to cross the Randowbruch Swamp that lay between the Oder and Randow rivers.

Lublin–Brest Offensive

The Lublin–Brest Offensive was a part of the Operation Bagration strategic offensive by the Soviet Red Army to clear the Nazi German forces from the Eastern Poland and Western Belarus. The offensive was executed by the left (southern) wing of the 1st Belorussian Front and took place during July 1944; it was opposed by the German Army Group North Ukraine and Army Group Centre.

Heiligenbeil Pocket

The Heiligenbeil Pocket or Heiligenbeil Cauldron was the site of a major encirclement battle on the Eastern Front during the closing weeks of World War II, in which the Wehrmacht's 4th Army was almost entirely destroyed during the Soviet Braunsberg Offensive Operation. The pocket was located near Heiligenbeil in East Prussia in eastern Germany, and the battle, part of a broader Soviet offensive into the region of East Prussia, lasted from 26 January until 29 March 1945.

Operation Solstice, also known as Unternehmen Husarenritt or the Stargard tank battle, was one of the last German armoured offensive operations on the Eastern Front in World War II.

The Lower Silesian Offensive was a Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front of World War II in 1945, involving forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front under Marshal Ivan Konev. It cleared German troops from much of Lower Silesia and besieged a large German force in the provincial capital, Breslau. The offensive began on February 8 and continued until February 24, when the Soviets ceased their offensive having captured a small bridgehead across the Neisse River near Forst. The offensive directly succeeded the Vistula–Oder Offensive, in which Konev's troops had driven the German Army Group A from Poland, liberating Kraków and taking bridgeheads over the Oder River.

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.

The 70th Army was a Soviet field army during World War II. It was the highest-numbered combined arms army to be formed by the Stavka during the war. It was active at the Battle of Kursk, the Lublin–Brest Offensive, and the Berlin Strategic Offensive, among other actions.

The 137th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army in World War II. Raised in 1939 as a standard Red Army rifle division, it served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. The division fought in the central part of the Soviet-German front. It shared credit with other formations for the liberation of Bobruisk during Operation Bagration, and ended the war in the conquest of East Prussia.

The 12th Guards Rifle Division was reformed as an elite infantry division of the Red Army in January, 1942, based on the 1st formation of the 258th Rifle Division and served in that role until after the end of the Great Patriotic War. It was in 50th Army when it was redesignated but was soon assigned to the 49th Army, then to the 10th Army and finally to the 16th Army near the end of that month. In June it was assigned to the 9th Guards Rifle Corps of 61st Army where it remained almost continually for the duration of the war, serving under several Front commands but always on the central sector of the front. During the summer offensive in 1943 it fought through western Russia and into Belarus during the winter campaigns there. Along with the rest of 61st Army it took part in the second stage of Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944, advancing into the Pripyat marshes region, winning a battle honor and shortly thereafter the Order of the Red Banner. After a short time in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command it was moved to the 3rd Baltic and later the 1st Baltic Front driving into Latvia and Lithuania, being decorated with the Order of Suvorov for its part in the liberation of Riga. In December it was returned to the 1st Belorussian Front and took part in the offensives that propelled the Red Army into Poland and eastern Germany. After the fall of Berlin the division advanced to the Elbe River where it linked up with the US 84th Infantry Division. Following the German surrender it was disbanded in July, 1946.