First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive

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First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive
Part of Eastern Front, World War II
Eastern Front 1943-08 to 1944-12.png
Advance of the Red Army, 1943–1944
Date8 April–6 June 1944
Location
Eastern Romania
Result Axis victory [1]
Belligerents
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Romania.svg Petre Dumitrescu
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Otto Wöhler
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Ivan Konev
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Rodion Malinovsky
Strength
300,000 [2] 830,000 [3]
Casualties and losses
45,000 casualties [2] 150,000 casualties [4]

The First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, named after the two major cities Iași (Jassy) and Chișinău (Kishinev) in the area, refers to a series of military engagements between 8 April and 6 June 1944 by the Soviets and Axis powers of World War II. According to David Glantz, the offensive was supposedly a coordinated invasion of Romania conducted by Red Army's 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts, in accordance with Joseph Stalin's strategy of projecting Soviet military power and political influence into the Balkans. [5]

Iași County Seat in Romania

Iași is the second largest city in Romania, and the seat of Iași County. Located in the historical region of Moldavia, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918.

Chișinău City in Moldova

Chișinău, also known as Kishinev, is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Moldova. The city is Moldova's main industrial and commercial center, and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bâc, a tributary of Dniester. According to the results of the 2014 census, the city proper had a population of 532,513, while the number of population in the Municipality of Chișinău was 662,836. Chișinău is the most economically prosperous locality in Moldova and its largest transportation hub.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

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.

Contents

According to the plans of the Main Command of the Soviet Military ( Stavka ), the two Soviet fronts would cut off vital Axis defensive lines in Northern Romania, facilitating a subsequent advance by the Red Army into the entire Balkan region. [6] The Soviet attack commenced with the First Battle of Târgu Frumos and the Battle of Podu Iloaiei, and culminated with the Second Battle of Târgu Frumos. Soviet forces failed to overcome German defenses in the region and the offensive operation ultimately failed, [7] mainly due to the poor combat performance of Soviet troops and the effectiveness of German defensive preparations.

The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, and to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase (STAVKA), which is incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location.

First Battle of Târgu Frumos

The First Battle of Târgu Frumos was part of the First Jassy-Kishinev Offensive of World War II, fought between Axis powers commanded by Otto Wöhler and Soviet forces led by Ivan Konev.

The Battle of Podu Iloaiei was part of the First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive of World War II fought between the Romanians along with their German allies and the Soviets. The battle was a reaction to the Soviet defeat at the First Battle of Târgu Frumos. It consisted mainly of a tank battle near Scobâlțeni where the First Romanian Armored Division held off the Soviet tanks for a single day. At the end of the battle, the Germans joined to drive the Soviets back to the positions they held before the battle.

This operation is part of a series of battles almost completely ignored by Soviet archival records and historiography. [8] According to military historian David Glantz, "During the almost 60 years since the end of World War II, Soviet and Russian military historians and theorists have carefully erased from the historical record any mention of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts' first Iasi–Kishinev offensive, during which the Red Army's two fronts attempted to invade Romania in April and May 1944. As is the case with so many other military operations the Red Army conducted during the war, they have done this deliberately, in the process relegating this offensive to a lengthy list of "forgotten battles" of the Soviet–German War." [8]

David M. Glantz is an American military historian known for his books on the Red Army during World War II, and the chief editor of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies.

Planning

On 5 March 1944, Marshal Ivan Konev—commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front—commenced the Uman–Botoşani Offensive operation in the Ukraine. This operation succeeded in separating Army Group South's 1st Panzer-Armee from 8th Army by 17 March. [9] by early April Soviet units approached the Romanian border. [10]

Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.

Ivan Konev Soviet military commander

Ivan Stepanovich Konev was a Soviet military commander who led Red Army forces on the Eastern Front during World War II, retook much of Eastern Europe from occupation by the Axis Powers, and helped in the capture of Germany's capital, Berlin.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

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.

Starting with early April 1944, Stavka ordered the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts to mount a major offensive with strategic implications in western Romania. [11] Stavka's strategic intentions were to break German and Romanian strategic defenses in northern Romania, capture the key cities of Iași and Chișinău, and afterward project forces deep into Romanian territory, if possible as deep as Ploiești and Bucharest. [12] By 5 April, Konev's front had crossed the upper reaches of Dniester and Prut rivers, captured Khotyn and Dorohoi, and approached Târgu Frumos and Botoşani regions—30–60 mi (48–97 km) northwest of Iași—facing only light Romanian resistance. [13] On 8 April, Konev ordered the 27th and 40th Armies to conduct a coordinated offensive southward along the Târgu Frumos axis, in close cooperation with Semyon Bogdanov's 2nd Tank Army. [14] While Konev's shock group was advancing toward Târgu Frumos, Konstantin Koroteev's 52nd Army and elements of Andrei Gravchenko's 6th Tank Army [15] which were operating north of Iași—were conducting operations alongside the Iași axis in order to support Konev's main effort. [14]

3rd Ukrainian Front army unit

3rd Ukrainian Front was a Front of the Red Army during World War II.

Ploiești City in Prahova, Romania

Ploiești is a city and county seat in Prahova County, Romania.

Bucharest Capital of Romania

Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania, as well as its cultural, industrial, and financial centre. It is located in the southeast of the country, at 44°25′57″N26°06′14″E, on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 60 km (37.3 mi) north of the Danube River and the Bulgarian border.

Vehicles and Panther tanks of the Grossdeutschland division in Romania - April 1944 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J24359, Rumanien, Kolonne von Panzer V (Panther).2.jpg
Vehicles and Panther tanks of the Grossdeutschland division in Romania  – April 1944

As Konev's armies prepared to launch their offensive toward Târgu Frumos, Otto Wöhler's 8th Army was involved in the heavy fighting taking place in and around the village of Popricani, 9 mi (14 km) north of Iași, where two Soviet corps were fighting with armored Kampfgruppen , [16] distracting the Germans' attentions and forces away from the critical Târgu Frumos sector. [17] Exploiting the 52nd Army diversionary operations in the Iași region, the three armies of Konev's shock group began advancing southward early in the morning of 8 April. [18] The advance was quite slow due to mud-clogged roads during the rasputitsa (the twice yearly period of water-logged ground), as well as crossing to the west bank of the Prut River northwest of Iași. [18]

Otto Wöhler German general

Otto Wöhler was a German general in the Wehrmacht and a war criminal during World War II. He rose to a corps and army level commander.

Popricani Commune in Iași County, Romania

Popricani is a commune in Iași County, Romania, part of the Iași metropolitan area. It is composed of nine villages: Cârlig, Cotu Morii, Cuza Vodă, Moimești, Popricani, Rediu Mitropoliei, Țipilești, Vânători and Vulturi.

<i>Kampfgruppe</i> German combat formation

In military history, the German term Kampfgruppe can refer to a combat formation of any kind, but most usually to that employed by the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II and, to a lesser extent, of the German Empire in World War I.

Konev's armies' initial mission was to reach Târgu Frumos, Pașcani, and Târgu Neamț regions 30–60 mi (48–97 km) west of Iași—and capture the three towns from their Romanian defenders by surprise. [18] While three divisions of 51st Rifle Corps were ordered to press southward toward Pașcani, another two rifle divisions were protecting their advance in the region north and northwest of Târgu Neamţ. [18] Further to the east, seven rifle divisions assigned to 35th Guards and 33rd Rifle Corps of 27th Army would advance southeastward along the Prut starting on 7 April, forcing the Romanian 8th Infantry Division to retreat toward Hârlău, 17 mi (27 km) north of Târgu Frumos. [19] Meanwhile, another two divisions of 33rd Rifle Corps joined by two corps of the 2nd Tank Army would press the Romanian 7th Infantry Division back toward Târgu Frumos. [19]

See also

Notes

  1. Glantz, pp. 371–376.
  2. 1 2 Glantz, p. 381.
  3. Glantz, p. 380.
  4. Glantz, p. 379.
  5. Glantz, p. XIII.
  6. Glantz, p. 374.
  7. Glantz, p. 375.
  8. 1 2 Glantz, p. 371.
  9. Crofoot, p. 151.
  10. Glantz, p. 7.
  11. Glantz, p. 18.
  12. Glantz, p. 19.
  13. Glantz, p. 29.
  14. 1 2 Glantz, p. 52.
  15. Armstrong, p. 450.
  16. Glantz, p. 56.
  17. Glantz, p. 59.
  18. 1 2 3 4 Glantz, p. 60.
  19. 1 2 Glantz, p. 61.

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