The East Prussian Offensivewas a strategic offensive by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front (World War II). 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 Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.
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.
The East Prussian Offensive is known to German historians as the Second East Prussian Offensive. The First East Prussian Offensive (also known as the Gumbinnen Operation), took place from 16–27 October 1944, and was carried out by the 3rd Belorussian Front under General I.D. Chernyakhovsky as part of the Memel Offensive 30–60 km (19–37 mi) into east-northern part of Poland, and the offensive was postponed until greater reserves could be gathered.of the 1st Baltic Front. The Soviet forces took heavy casualties while penetrating
The Gumbinnen Operation, also known as the Goldap Operation, was a Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front late in 1944, in which forces of the 3rd Belorussian Front attempted to penetrate the borders of East Prussia.
The 3rd Belorussian Front was a Front of the Red Army during the Second World War.
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 38 while in command of the 3rd Belorussian Front.
The main thrust of the offensive was to be conducted by the 3rd Belorussian Front under Ivan Chernyakhovsky. His forces were tasked with driving westwards towards Königsberg, against the defensive positions of the 3rd Panzer Army and 4th Army, the northern armies of General Georg-Hans Reinhardt's Army Group Centre.
The 3rd Panzer Army was a German armoured formation during World War II, formed from the 3rd Panzer Group on 1 January 1942.
The 4th Army was a field army of the Wehrmacht during World War II.
Georg-Hans Reinhardt was a German general and war criminal during World War II. He commanded the 3rd Panzer Army from 1941 to 1944, and Army Group Centre in 1944 and 1945, reaching the rank of colonel general (Generaloberst).
From the north, on Chernyakhovsky's right flank, General Hovhannes Bagramyan's 1st Baltic Front would attack the positions of the 3rd Panzer Army on the Neman, as well as crushing its small bridgehead at Memel. Chernyakhovsky's left flank would be supported by the 2nd Belorussian Front of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, which was initially ordered to push north-west to the Vistula, through the lines of the 2nd Army, thereby sealing off the whole of East Prussia.
The First Baltic Front was a major formation of the Red Army during the Second World War. It was commanded by Army General Andrey Yeryomenko, succeeded by Army General Bagramyan. It was formed by renaming the Kalinin Front in October 12, 1943, and took part in several important military operations, most notably Bagration in the summer of 1944. The 1st Baltic Front also assisted in lifting the Siege of Leningrad on January 27, 1944, as well as in Operation Samland, at that time known as the Samland Group, captured Königsberg in April 1945.
The Neman, Nemunas, Nyoman, Niemen or Memel, is a major Eastern European river. It rises in Belarus and flows through Lithuania before draining into the Curonian Lagoon, and then into the Baltic Sea at Rusnė Island. It begins at the confluence of two smaller tributaries, about 15 kilometers (9 mi) southwest of the town of Uzda in central Belarus, and about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Minsk. In its lower reaches it forms the border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast. It also, very briefly, forms part of the Belarus–Lithuania border. The largest river in Lithuania, and the third-largest in Belarus, the Neman is navigable for most of its 900 km (560 mi) length.
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coast. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County.
The Soviet offensive began on 13 January with a heavy preparatory bombardment. At first, the Red Army made disappointing progress; the 3rd Belorussian Front gained just 1.5 km on the first day. Over the next five days, the Soviets managed to advance only a further 20 km, at the cost of very high casualties. Eventually, after almost two weeks of severe fighting, the Red Army began making steady progress, although again, this came at the price of high losses; the defenders having the advantage of substantial fortifications in the Insterburg Gap east of Königsberg, and around Heilsberg. Over the next few days, the 3rd Panzer Army of General Erhard Raus was largely destroyed or withdrew into Königsberg, while General Friedrich Hossbach′s 4th Army began to find itself outflanked.
Chernyakhovsk – known prior to 1946 by its German name of
Lidzbark Warmiński is a town in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the capital of Lidzbark County.
Erhard Raus was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded the 6th Panzer Division during the early years of the war on the Eastern Front before taking army and army group commands. Raus was one of three former Austrians who rose to the rank of Generaloberst within the German Wehrmacht. The other two were Alexander Löhr and Lothar Rendulic.
Against fierce resistance, Rokossovsky attacked across the Narew on 14 January; on 20 January, he received orders to swing the axis of his advance northward toward Elbing.This sudden change of direction caught Reinhardt and Hossbach by surprise; on Rokossovsky's right flank, the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps captured the major town of Allenstein on 22 January, threatening the rear of Hossbach's formation. On 24 January, Rokossovsky's leading tank units had reached the shore of the Vistula Lagoon, severing land communications with the rest of German armed forces for the entire 4th Army along with several divisions of the 2nd Army which were now trapped in a pocket centered on East Prussia. On the same day, Hossbach began to pull his units back from the fortified town of Lötzen—a center of the East Prussian defence system—and through a series of forced marches attempted to break out westward.
The Narew, in western Belarus and north-eastern Poland, is a right tributary of the Vistula River. The Narew is one of Europe's few braided rivers, the term relating to the twisted channels resembling braided hair.
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland on the eastern edge of the Żuławy region with 120,142 inhabitants. It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Previously it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998) and a county seat within Gdańsk Voivodeship (1945–1975).
Olsztyn is a city on the Łyna River in northeastern Poland. Olsztyn is the capital of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, and is a city with county rights. The population of the city was estimated at 172,362 residents in 2018.
In the meantime, Chernyakhovsky had succeeded in rolling up the defences from the East, pushing the remnants of the 3rd Panzer Army into Königsberg and Samland. On 28 January, Bagramyan's forces captured Memel; the remnants of the three divisions defending the town were evacuated and redeployed in Samland to reinforce the defence there.
With the remnants of Army Group Centre effectively contained, Soviet forces could concentrate on reducing the German forces in Pomerania and eliminating any possible threat to the northern flank of their eventual advance on Berlin. Reinhardt and Hossbach—who had attempted to break out of East Prussia and save their troops—were relieved of command, and the Army Group (redesignated Army Group North) was placed under the command of General Lothar Rendulic. Reinhardt gave up his command with the words "There is nothing more to say".Raus and the staff of the destroyed 3rd Panzer Army were assigned to a new formation. The defending forces, in the meantime, were besieged in three pockets by Chernyakhovsky's armies:
Even after this time, German forces continued to resist on the Vistula Spit, the long sandbar enclosing the Vistula Lagoon, until the end of the war.
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 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.
The Vistula–Oder Offensive was a successful Red Army operation on the Eastern Front in the European Theatre of World War II in January 1945. It saw the liberation of Kraków, Warsaw and Poznań.
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:
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 Battle of Königsberg, also known as the Königsberg Offensive, was one of the last operations of the East Prussian Offensive during World War II. In four days of violent urban warfare, Soviet forces of the 1st Baltic Front and the 3rd Belorussian Front captured the city of Königsberg – now Kaliningrad, Russia. The siege started in late January 1945 when the Soviets initially surrounded the city. There was heavy fighting for the overland connection between Königsberg and the port of Pillau, but by March 1945 Königsberg was hundreds of kilometres behind the main front line. The battle finished when the German garrison surrendered to the Soviets on 9 April after a three-day assault made their position untenable.
The Battle of Memel or the Siege of Memel was a battle which took place on the Eastern Front during World War II. The battle began when the Red Army launched its Memel Offensive Operation in late 1944. The offensive drove remaining German forces in the area that is now Lithuania and Latvia into a small bridgehead in Klaipėda (Memel) and its port, leading to a three-month siege of that position.
The Vilnius Offensive occurred as part of the third phase of Operation Bagration, the great summer offensive by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht in June and July, 1944. It lasted from 5 July to 13 July 1944, and ended with a Soviet victory.
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.
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.
The East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive operation 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 Belostok Offensive was part of the third and final phase of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in summer 1944, commonly known as Operation Bagration. The Belostok Offensive was part of the third, or 'pursuit' phase of Operation Bagration, and was commenced after the completion of the encirclement and destruction of much of Army Group Centre in the Minsk Offensive. Belostok is the Russian name of the Polish city of Białystok.
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 Kaunas Offensive was part of the third phase of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in summer 1944, commonly known as Operation Bagration. The Kaunas offensive was executed by the 3rd Belorussian Front on July 28 – August 28, 1944, with the aim of destroying the German concentration on the western bank of the Neman river, the liberation of Kaunas, and reaching the boundaries of East Prussia.
The Samland Offensive was a Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front in the final stages of World War II. It took place in Sambia ;.
The 43rd Army was a Red Army field army of World War II that served on the Eastern Front. Formed in late July 1941, the army fought in the Battle of Smolensk (1941). It was forced to retreat after German troops broke through in October 1941 and subsequently fought in the Battle of Moscow. The army then fought in the Rzhev-Vyazma Offensive. After the end of the offensive, the army held its positions and transferred to the Demidov area in late 1942. It fought in the Battle of Smolensk (1943). During the summer of 1944 the army fought in Operation Bagration. In the fall the army advanced into the Baltic region and fought in the Riga Offensive (1944) and the Battle of Memel. In 1945 the army fought in the East Prussian Offensive before being placed in reserve near the end of April. The 43rd Army was disbanded postwar in July 1946.