Jassy–Kishinev Offensive

Last updated
Jassy–Kishinev Offensive
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Karte Operation Jassy-Kischinew 01.png
Soviet advance
Date20–29 August 1944 [1]
Location
Eastern and southern Romania
Result

Allied victory

  • Destruction of the German 6th Army
  • Romania undergoes a coup and defects to the Allies
  • Bulgaria enters the war against Nazi Germany [2]
Territorial
changes
  • German forces begin evacuating the Balkans
  • Soviet Union regains control of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina
Belligerents
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
(23–29 August)
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
(Air support only)
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
(20–23 August)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Rodion Malinovsky
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Fyodor Tolbukhin
Flag of Romania.svg Michael I
Flag of Romania.svg Constantin Sănătescu
Flag of Romania.svg Gheorghe Mihail
Flag of Romania.svg Nicolae Macici
Flag of Romania.svg Ion Antonescu
Flag of Romania.svg Ilie Șteflea
Flag of Romania.svg Petre Dumitrescu
Flag of Romania.svg Ioan Mihail Racoviță
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Adolf Hitler
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Johannes Friessner
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Otto Wöhler
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Maximilian Fretter-Pico
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Alfred Gerstenberg
Units involved
see below see below
Strength
Soviet Union:
1,314,200 [3]
16,000 guns
1,870 tanks
2,200 aircraft
Romania:
465,659 [4]
Romania:
1,163,347 [5]
(as of 15 August 1944)
800 aircraft
Germany:
250,000
(Army Group South Ukraine)
Casualties and losses

Soviet Union:
13,197 killed or missing
53,933 wounded or sick [3]
60+ tanks
111 aircraft [6]

Contents

Romania:
8,586 killed or wounded [4]
Romania:
8,305 killed
24,989 wounded
170,000 captured or missing [7]
25 aircraft [6]
Germany:
150,000 killed,
wounded or captured [8]

The Jassy–Kishinev Operation, [1] [9] [10] [11] [Notes 1] named after the two major cities, Iași and Chișinău, in the staging area, was a Soviet offensive against Axis forces, which took place in Eastern Romania from 20 to 29 August 1944 during World War II. The 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts of the Red Army engaged Army Group South Ukraine, which consisted of combined German and Romanian formations, in an operation to reclaim the Moldavian SSR and destroy the Axis forces in the region, opening the way into Romania and the Balkans.

The offensive resulted in the encirclement and destruction of the German forces, allowing the Soviet Army to resume its strategic advance further into Eastern Europe. It also forced Romania to switch allegiance from the Axis powers to the Allies.
For the Germans, this was a massive defeat, which can be compared to the defeat at Stalingrad.

Background

The Red Army had made an unsuccessful attack in the same sector, sometimes referred to as First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive,[ who? ] from 8 April to 6 June 1944. In 1944, the Wehrmacht had been pressed back along its entire front line in the East. By May 1944, the South Ukraine Army Group (Heeresgruppe Südukraine) was pushed back towards the prewar Romanian frontier, and managed to establish a line on the lower Dniester River, which was however breached in two places, with the Red Army holding bridgeheads. After June, calm returned to the sector, allowing the rebuilding of the German formations.

Heeresgruppe Südukraine had been, until June 1944, one of the most powerful German formations in terms of armour. However, during the summer most of its armoured units were transferred to the Northern and Central fronts to stem Red Army advances in the Baltic states, Belarus, northern Ukraine, and Poland. On the eve of the offensive, the only armoured formations left were the 1st Romanian Armoured Division (with the Tiger R1), [12] and the German 13th Panzer and 10th Panzergrenadier Divisions.

Failure of German intelligence

Soviet deception operations prior to the attack worked well. The German command staff believed that the movement of Soviet forces along the front line was a result of a troop transfer to the north. Exact positions of Soviet formations were also not known until the final hours before the operation. [13] By contrast, the Romanians were aware of the imminent Soviet offensive and anticipated a rerun of Stalingrad, with major attacks against the 3rd and 4th Armies and an encirclement of the German 6th Army. Such concerns were dismissed by the German command as "alarmist". [14] Antonescu suggested a withdrawal of Axis forces to the fortified Carpathian–FNB (FocşaniNămoloasaBrăila)–Danube line, but Friessner, the commander of Army Group South Ukraine, was unwilling to consider such a move, having already been dismissed by Hitler from Army Group North for requesting permission to retreat.

Order of battle

Soviet

Axis forces

Army Group South Ukraine [15] - Generaloberst Johannes Friessner

1st Romanian Armoured Division

The 1st Romanian Armored Division did not have all of its units immediately available for opposing the Soviet offensive. Some of its units were still in the interior as of 20 August. Therefore, an ad-hoc organization of the Division's units which were actually available for opposing the Soviet offensive lists the Division's 80 front line tanks as follows (not including the Division's 12 armored cars): [16]

NameTypeCountry of OriginQuantity
Panzer IV Medium tankFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 48
Sturmgeschütz III Assault gunFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 22
TACAM T-60 Tank destroyerFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 10

The Division also had a dedicated anti-tank battalion. Its main weapons were entirely of Romanian origin: 10 TACAM T-60 tank destroyers and 24 75 mm Reșița field/anti-tank guns. [16] The 24 guns were the first ones produced of this model. [17]

The 1st Romanian Armored Division had lost 34 armored fighting vehicles by 23 August, but claimed 60 Soviet tanks on 20 August alone. [18]

Soviet strategy

Soviet operations Angriff Bessarabien 02.png
Soviet operations

Stavka's plan for the operation was based on a double envelopment of German and Romanian armies by the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts. [1] [19]

The 2nd Ukrainian Front was to break through north of Iași, and then commit mobile formations to seize the Prut River crossings before withdrawing German units of the 6th Army could reach it. It was then to unleash the 6th Tank Army to seize the Siret River crossings and the Focșani Gap, a fortified line between the Siret River and the Danube.

The 3rd Ukrainian Front was to attack out of its bridgehead across the Dniester near Tiraspol, and then release mobile formations to head north and meet the mobile formations of the 2nd Ukrainian Front. This would lead to the encirclement of the German forces near Chișinău.

Following the successful encirclement, the 6th Tank Army and the 4th Guards Mechanised Corps were to advance towards Bucharest and the Ploiești oil fields.

Progress of the offensive

General

Both the 2nd and the 3rd Ukrainian Fronts undertook a major effort, leading to a double envelopment of the German Sixth Army and parts of the Eighth Army. The German–Romanian front line collapsed within two days of the start of the offensive, and 6th Guards Mechanized Corps was inserted as the main mobile group of the offensive. The initial breakthrough in the 6th Army's sector was 40 km (25 mi) deep, and destroyed rear-area supply installations by the evening of 21 August. By 23 August, the 13th Panzer Division was no longer a coherent fighting force, and the German 6th Army had been encircled to a depth of 100 km (62 mi). The Red Army mobile group managed to cut off the retreat of the German formations into Hungary. Isolated pockets of German units tried to fight their way through, but only small remnants managed to escape the encirclement.

Soviet Operations, 19 August-31 December 1944 RedArmy19Aug31Dec44.jpg
Soviet Operations, 19 August–31 December 1944

Detailed study of the Soviet breakthrough

The main effort of the front was in the sector of the 37th Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Sharokhin, by the 66th and 6th Guards Rifle Corps. The 37th Army had a 4 km (2.5 mi)-wide breakthrough frontage assigned to it. It was divided in two groupings, two corps in the first echelon, and one in reserve. According to the plan, it was to break through the German–Romanian defence lines in seven days, to a distance of 110–120 km (68–75 mi), with the goal of covering 15 km (9.3 mi) per day during the first four days.

The 66th Rifle Corps, under Major General Kupriyanov, consisted of the 61st Guards Rifle and 333rd Rifle Divisions in the first echelon and the 244th Rifle Division in reserve. Attached were the 46th Gun Artillery Brigade, 152nd Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 184th and 1245th Tank Destroyer Regiment, 10th Mortar Regiment, 26th Light Artillery Brigade, 87th Recoilless Mortar Regiment, 92nd and 52nd Tank Regiment, 398th Assault Gun Regiment, two pioneer assault battalions, and two light flamethrower companies.

Corps frontage: 4 km (2.5 mi)
Corps breakthrough frontage: 3.5 km (2.2 mi) (61st Rifle Division 1.5 km (0.93 mi), 333rd Rifle Division 2 km (1.2 mi))

A German Panther tank in Romania, August 1944 Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-244-2321-34, Ostfront-Sud, Panzer V (Panther).jpg
A German Panther tank in Romania, August 1944

Troop density per kilometer of frontage:

Superiority:

There is no manpower information on the divisions, but they probably had between 7,000–7,500 men each, with the 61st Guards Rifle Division perhaps mustering 8,000–9,000. The soldiers were prepared over the course of August by exercising in areas similar to those they were to attack, with emphasis on special tactics needed to overcome the enemy in their sector.

Troops density in the 61st Guards Rifle Division's sector per kilometer of frontage was:

Troops density in the 333rd Rifle Division's sector per kilometer of frontage was:

Initial attack

The 333rd Rifle Division put three regiments in the first echelon and had none in reserve. The 61st Guards Rifle Division attacked in a standard formation, with two regiments in the first echelon and one in reserve. This proved to be fortunate, because the right wing of the 188th Guards Rifle Regiment was unable to advance past the Plopschtubej strongpoint.[ clarification needed ] The 189th Guards Rifle Regiment on the left wing made good progress though, as did 333rd Rifle Division on its left. The commander of the 61st Guards Rifle Division therefore inserted his reserve (the 187th Guards Rifle Regiment) behind the 189th Guards Rifle Regiment to exploit the breakthrough. When darkness came, the 244th Rifle Division was assigned to break through the second line of defense. It lost its way, and only arrived at 23:00, by which time elements of the 13th Panzer Division were counterattacking.

The German–Romanian opposition was XXX. and XXIX. AK, with the 15th and 306th German Infantry Divisions, the 4th Romanian Mountain Division, and the 21st Romanian Infantry Division. The 13th Panzer Division was in reserve. At the end of the first day, the 4th Romanian Mountain (General de divizie, (Major General) Gheorghe Manoiliu), and 21st Romanian Divisions were almost completely destroyed, while the German 15th and 306th Infantry Divisions suffered heavy losses (according to a German source, the 306th Infantry lost 50% in the barrage, and was destroyed apart from local strong-points by evening). Almost no artillery survived the fire preparation.

The 13th Panzer Division counterattacked the 66th Rifle Corps on the first day, and tried to stop its progress the next day to no avail. A study on the division's history says 'The Russians [Soviets] dictated the course of events.' The 13th Panzer Division at the time was a materially underequiped, but high manpower unit, with a high proportion of recent reinforcements. It only had Panzer IVs, StuG IIIs and self-propelled anti-tank guns. By the end of the second day, the division was incapable of attacking or putting up meaningful resistance.

At the end of the second day, the 3rd Ukrainian Front stood deep in the rear of the German 6th Army. No more organised re-supply of forces would be forthcoming, and the 6th Army was doomed to be encircled and destroyed again. Franz-Josef Strauss, who was to become an important German politician after the war, served with the Panzer Regiment of the 13th Panzer Division. He comments that the division had ceased to exist as a tactical unit on the third day of the Soviet offensive: 'The enemy was everywhere.'

In Mazulenko, results of the operations of the 66th Rifle Corps were described: "Because of the reinforcement of the Corps and the deep battle arrangements of troops and units the enemy defenses were broken through at high speed."

German survivors of the initial attack stated "By the end of the barrage, Russian [Soviet] tanks were deep into our position." (Hoffman). A German battalion commander, Hauptmann Hans Diebisch, Commander II./IR579, 306.ID, commented "The fire assets of the German defense were literally destroyed by the Soviet fighter bombers attacking the main line of resistance and the rear positions. When the Russian infantry suddenly appeared inside the positions of the battalion and it tried to retreat, the Russian air force made this impossible. The battalion was dispersed and partly destroyed by air attacks and mortar and machine gun fire."

Alleged Romanian collapse

It is often alleged that the speed and totality of the German collapse were caused by Romanian betrayal. For example, Heinz Guderian wrote of Romanian betrayal in his book Panzer Leader. The study of the combat operations by Mazulenko indicates that this is probably not correct. Romanian formations did resist the Soviet attack in many cases, but were ill-equipped to defend themselves effectively against a modern army due to a lack of modern anti-tank, artillery, and anti-air weapons. In contrast to German claims, for instance, in the symposium notes published by David Glantz, or in the history of the Offensive published by Kissel, it appears that Romanian 1st Armoured Division did offer resistance against the Soviet breakthrough. However, Mark Axworthy states in his book that the battered 1st Armoured Division maintained cohesion, experiencing some local, costly successes before being forced to cross the River Moldova. [20] Axworthy claims that the postwar Communist government would have obviously used this act of betrayal for propaganda purposes. Also, there are no Soviet reports of collaboration before 24 August 1944. [21] The Soviet rates of progress imply an ineffective defense of the Romanian troops, rather than active collaboration and en-masse surrender. [22]

I. S. Dumitru was a Romanian tank commander in the battle of the Romanian 1st Armoured Division against Soviet tanks and he described the battle in his book. [23] According to Dumitru, fighting took place near the village of Scobâlţeni in the vicinity of a town called Podu Iloaiei on 20 August. The Romanian division destroyed 60 Soviet tanks and lost 30 tanks. At the end of the day, Romanians decided to retreat to the south after an analysis of the military results of the day.

The complete collapse of the German 6th Army and the Romanian 4th Army was more likely caused by the inability of the numerous horse-drawn infantry divisions to maintain cohesion while retreating and under attack of the Soviet mechanized troops. [24] This claim is reinforced by the fact that the only Romanian division which retained its cohesion under the Soviet attack was the 1st Armoured Division, which had the mobility and the anti-tank weapons needed to do so.

The surrender of Romania took place at a time when the Soviet Army had already moved deep inside Romania, and the German 6th Army had been cut off from the rest of the Wehrmacht in Romania. The opening of hostilities between the Wehrmacht and the Romanian Army commenced after a failed coup d'état by the German ambassador.

German–Romanian combat

Military operations, 23-31 August 1944: red = soviet Red army; yellow = Romanian troops; blue = axis forces, frontlines. CampanaRumana1944.svg
Military operations, 23–31 August 1944: red = soviet Red army; yellow = Romanian troops; blue = axis forces, frontlines.

Simultaneously, a coup d'état led by King Michael of Romania on 23 August deposed the Romanian leader Ion Antonescu and withdrew Romania from the Axis. By this time, the bulk of the German and Romanian armies had either been destroyed or cut off by the Soviet offensive, with only residual and rear-echelon forces present in the Romanian interior. [25] Hitler immediately ordered special forces under the command of Otto Skorzeny and Arthur Phleps, stationed in nearby Yugoslavia, to intervene in support of the remaining German troops, which were mostly concentrated around Bucharest, Ploiești, Brașov and Giurgiu. General Gerstenberg, commander of the Luftwaffe defenses around the oilfields at Ploiești, had already ordered a column of motorized troops to attack Bucharest on the evening of 23 August. Open hostilities between German and Romanian forces began the following morning on the city's northern outskirts. After capturing the airfield at Otopeni, the attack stalled, and by 28 August Gerstenberg and the remaining German forces in the vicinity of Bucharest surrendered. The fighting here featured the only instance of cooperation between Romanian and Western Allied forces during the campaign, when Romanian ground troops requested a USAAF bombing raid on the Băneasa Forest. Poor coordination however led to friendly fire when American bombers accidentally hit a company of Romanian paratroopers. [26]

Meanwhile, Brandenburger special forces landed at Boteni and Țăndărei airfields on 24 August in an attempt to immobilize the Romanian aircraft there, but they were overpowered by Romanian paratroopers and security companies before they could achieve their objectives. [27] A proposed operation to rescue Antonescu, led by Skorzeny and inspired by the Gran Sasso raid which liberated Mussolini in 1943, could not materialize as Antonescu's whereabouts were unknown even to the Romanian government until 30 August, when he was handed over to the Soviets and shipped to Moscow. [28] Another group of Brandenburgers joined Gerstenberg's unsuccessful drive on Bucharest on 25 August and were captured three days later. Altogether, these events constituted one of the worst defeats suffered by the German special forces in the war. [27]

The German situation was further complicated by the loss of Brașov and the Predeal pass, both of which were secured by the Romanian 1st Mountain Division by 25 August, thus cutting off the most direct route of reinforcement or retreat for the remaining Wehrmacht formations to the south. The following day, the Romanian 2nd Territorial Corps captured Giurgiu and neutralized the German AA units there, taking 9,000 prisoners in the process. [29] The 25,000-strong German presence around Ploiești, consisting mostly of flak troops and their security companies, was at first locked in a stalemate with the Romanian 5th Territorial Corps, which had a similar numerical strength. Over the following days however, the Germans were gradually confined to the city's immediate surroundings and became heavily outnumbered as Romanian reinforcements began arriving from Bucharest and also from the east, together with lead elements of a Soviet motorized brigade. On 30 August, an attack by the 5th Territorial Corps, now numbering over 40,000 men, reduced the Germans to a pocket around the village of Păulești, roughly 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Ploiești. They surrendered the following day after a failed breakout attempt. About 2,000 Germans were able to escape to the Hungarian lines across the Carpathians. [30] Other major cities and industrial centers, such as Constanța, Reșița and Sibiu were secured by the Romanians with relative ease. By 31 August, all German resistance in Romania had been cleared. [31]

During the fighting between 23–31 August, the Romanian Army captured 56,000 German prisoners, who were later surrendered to the Soviet Army. [32] A further 5,000 Germans were killed in action, while Romanian casualties amounted to 8,600 killed and wounded. [31]

Romanian sources claim that internal factors played a decisive role in Romania's switch of allegiance, while external factors only gave support; this version is markedly different from the Soviet position on the events, which holds that the Offensive resulted in the Romanian coup and "liberated Romania with the help of local insurgents". [19] [33]

Aftermath

Romanian and Soviet soldiers shaking hands in Bucharest after the coup, 30 August EjercitoSovieticoEnBucarest1944.jpg
Romanian and Soviet soldiers shaking hands in Bucharest after the coup, 30 August

The German formations suffered significant irrecoverable losses, with over 115,000 prisoners taken, while Soviet casualties were unusually low for an operation of this size. The Red Army advanced into Yugoslavia and forced the rapid withdrawal of the German Army Groups E and F from Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia to avoid being cut off. Together with Yugoslav partisans and Bulgaria, they liberated the capital city of Belgrade on 20 October.

On the political level, the Soviet offensive triggered King Michael's coup d'état in Romania, and the switch of Romania from the Axis to the Allies. Almost immediately, border hostilities between Romania and Germany's forced ally Hungary erupted over territory that Romania had been forced to cede to Hungary in 1940 as a result of the Second Vienna Award. [34] Romania's defection meant the loss of a vital source of oil for Germany, leading to serious fuel shortages in the Wehrmacht by the end of 1944 and prompting Hitler's first admission that the war was lost. [35]

Following the success of the operation, Soviet control over Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, which had been occupied by the USSR in 1940, was re-established. Soviet forces proceeded to collect and expel the remaining Romanian troops. According to Anatol Petrencu, President of the Historians' Association of Moldova, over 170,000 Romanian soldiers were deported, 40,000 of which were incarcerated in a prisoner-of-war camp at Bălți, where many died of hunger, cold, disease, or execution. [36]

Legacy

Sergey Shoigu with Vadim Krasnoselsky laying flowers on 23 August. Shoigu in Transnistria 05.jpg
Sergey Shoigu with Vadim Krasnoselsky laying flowers on 23 August.
Members of the Honor Guard Company of the Moldovan National Army being inspected by Sergey Shoigu, Pavel Voicu and Victor Gaiciuc during the 24 August celebrations in 2019. Jassy-Kishinev Offensive anniversary 11.jpg
Members of the Honor Guard Company of the Moldovan National Army being inspected by Sergey Shoigu, Pavel Voicu and Victor Gaiciuc during the 24 August celebrations in 2019.

In Moldova and the partially recognized Dniester Republic, August 24 is a public holiday, and is known officially as Liberation Day . It was also celebrated in neighboring Romania as Liberation from Fascist Occupation Day until 1990. In 1970, a street in Botanica was named in honor of Aleksei Belsky, a Hero of the Soviet Union and a participant in the Jassy-Kishinev operation. After the collapse of the USSR, the street was renamed to honor Alexandru Ioan Cuza, although in recent years, many who live on the street have petitioned to return the street to its former name. The village of Malinovskoye, Ryshkansky District, named in honor of the Marshal Rodion Malinovsky was dedicated to the anniversary of the end of the operation.

Monuments

On 23 August 1969, during the 25th anniversary of the offensive, a Liberation Monument at the Academy of Sciences of Moldova was opened. It has been renovated three times, in 1975, 2014 and 2019. [37] The Monument to the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive in the village of Chițcani was opened on 9 May 1972 and is currently the site of the monument is a mass grave, in which 1,495 soldiers who died during the operation are buried. [38] The Capul de pod Șerpeni Memorial Complex was opened on Liberation Day in 2004. [39] Two years later, the Eternity Memorial Complex in Chișinău waas opened, acting as the Soviet war memorial in Moldova.

Events

In early 2019, President Igor Dodon dedicated the year to the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Moldova, and ordered that a National Coordination Committee plan national events and celebrations throughout the country in honor of the anniversary. [40] On the actual anniversary, celebrations of which was attended by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu at the request of Moldovan Defence Minister Pavel Voicu, celebrations led by Dodon were held at the national level. [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] A ceremony with Dodon, Shoigu and Voicu in attendance at the Capul de pod Șerpeni Memorial Complex was held, in which Shoigu ceremonially handed Voicu the military flags of two Moldovan regiments who participated in the offensive, which until then, were kept at the Central Armed Forces Museum. [47] A separate ceremony at the Transnistria based Operational Group of Russian Forces was also held. [48]

Related Research Articles

Battle of Debrecen 1944 battle of the Eastern Front of World War II

The Battle of Debrecen, called by the Red Army the Debrecen Offensive Operation, was a battle taking place 6–29 October 1944 on the Eastern Front during World War II.

Second Battle of Târgu Frumos

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.

3rd Ukrainian Front army unit

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

Belgrade Offensive 1944 Second World War battle

The Belgrade Offensive or the Belgrade Strategic Offensive Operation was a military operation during World War II in Yugoslavia in which Belgrade was liberated from the German Wehrmacht through the joint efforts of the Soviet Red Army, Yugoslav Partisans, and the Bulgarian Army. Soviet forces and local militias launched separate but loosely cooperative operations that undermined German control of Belgrade and ultimately forced a retreat. Martial planning was coordinated evenly among command leaders, and the operation was largely enabled through tactical cooperation between Josip Broz Tito and Joseph Stalin that began in September 1944. These martial provisions allowed Bulgarian forces to engage in operations throughout Yugoslav territory, which furthered tactical success while increasing diplomatic friction.

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.

First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive military offensive

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.

The 4th Guards Rifle Division was reformed as an elite infantry division on September 18, 1941, from the 1st formation of the 161st Rifle Division as one of the original Guards formations of the Red Army, in recognition of that division's participation in the successful counter-offensive that drove German forces out of their positions at Yelnya. The division then moved northwards to serve in the defense of Leningrad, as well as the early attempts to break that city's siege, but later was redeployed to the southern sector of the front as the crisis around Stalingrad developed. The 4th Guards took part in Operation Uranus which surrounded the German 6th Army in and around that city and then in the pursuit operations that drove the remaining German forces from the Caucasus steppes and the city of Rostov. The division remained in this sector for the duration of the war, fighting through the south of Ukraine through the summer of 1943 and winning the Order of the Red Banner in the process; it was further distinguished with the award of a battle honor in February, 1944. During April and May its advance was halted during the battles along the Dniestr River, but resumed in the August offensive that carried it and its 31st Guards Rifle Corps into the Balkans. It served extensively in the fighting through Hungary and in the outer encirclement during the siege of Budapest in the winter of 1944/45 and in mid-April was awarded a second battle honor for its part in the capture of Vienna. Despite this distinguished service the division was disbanded in 1946.

The 81st Guards Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army and the Soviet Army. It was formed after the Battle of Stalingrad from the 422nd Rifle Division in recognition of that division's actions during the battle, specifically the encirclement and the siege of the German forces in the city. The 81st Guards continued a record of distinguished service through the rest of the Great Patriotic War, and continued to serve postwar, as a rifle division and later a motor rifle division, until being reorganized as the 57th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade in 2009 in the Russian Ground Forces. Most of its postwar service was in the Soviet (Russian) far east, where it was originally formed as the 422nd.

The 254th Motor Rifle Division was a motorized infantry division of the Soviet Army during the Cold War and later the Ukrainian Army. It was formed in June 1941 from NKVD Border Troops and reservists as part of the Northwestern Front and fought against the German invasion of Russia. In 1944 the division was the first Soviet unit to enter Romanian territory and in 1945 fought in the Battle of Bautzen. The division, briefly renumbered as the 27th Mechanized Division, was part of the Soviet forces that put down the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and was afterwards stationed in Hungary. The unit participated in the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, after which it returned to Hungary. The unit was withdrawn to Ukraine in 1990 and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union was transferred to Ukraine. The unit was downsized to form the 52nd Separate Mechanized Brigade and was disbanded in October 2004.

The 16th Guards Tank Division was a tank division of the Soviet Army and later the Russian Ground Forces.

The 333rd Rifle Division began forming in the North Caucasus Military District in August, 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, as part of the massive mobilization of reserve forces very shortly after the German invasion. In 1942 it served in the late winter and early spring fighting near Kharkov, taking a beating both then and during the opening stages of the German summer offensive. Withdrawn into the reserves, the division was rebuilt in time to take part in the Soviet counteroffensive at Stalingrad in November, and played an important role in driving the German forces out of the Caucasus region during the winter. In the autumn of 1943 the division shared credit with the 25th Guards Rifle Division for the liberation of Sinelnikovo in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, receiving that place name as an honorific. After battling through Ukraine and into the Balkan states, the 333rd completed its combat path on a relatively quiet note doing garrison duties in the Balkans.

The 337th Rifle Division was first formed in August 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Astrakhan. Like the 335th Rifle Division, this formation was assigned to the southern sector of the Soviet-German front during the winter counteroffensive, but was encircled and destroyed during the German spring offensive that formed the Izium Pocket. The division was formed again from July until August 13, 1942, serving in the Caucasus and along the coast of the Black Sea before being moved to the central part of the front to take part in the Soviet counteroffensive following the Battle of Kursk. As the front advanced towards the Dniepr River the 337th was recognized for its role in the liberation of the Ukrainian city of Lubny and was granted its name as an honorific. As the division continued to advance through northern and western Ukraine and into Hungary, it earned further honors before ending its combat path in western Austria.

The 4th Guards Motor Rifle Division was a motorized infantry division of the Soviet Army during the Cold War.

The 373rd Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August 1941 in the Urals Military District. It was moved to the front northwest of Moscow while still trying to complete its training and went straight into action in mid-December during the winter counteroffensive. Until May 1943, it was involved in the bloody fighting around the Rzhev salient. After a period in reserve for rebuilding, the division's combat path shifted southward when it was assigned to 52nd Army, where it remained for the duration of the war. It won a battle honor in eastern Ukraine, then fought across the Dniepr River late that year, and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for its successes. Following this it advanced through western Ukraine in the spring of 1944, then into Romania in the summer, where it played a major role in the second encirclement and destruction of the German 6th Army. After again moving to the reserves the division shifted northwards with its Army to join 1st Ukrainian Front, fighting through Poland, eastern Germany and into Czechoslovakia. By then the 373rd had compiled an enviable record, and went on to serve briefly into the postwar era.

The 375th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Urals Military District. It reached the fighting front in December, coming under command of the 29th Army in the vicinity of the Rzhev salient and it took part in the bloody and tragic battles for this heavily-fortified position until March, 1943, mostly as part of 30th Army. Following the German evacuation of the salient the 375th got a brief spell in reserve before being reassigned to Voronezh Front in the buildup to the Battle of Kursk. When the offensive began it held a crucial sector on the extreme left flank of 6th Guards Army where the II SS Panzer Corps attempted to break through south of the salient. Following the German defeat the division joined in the counteroffensive towards Kharkov in August and won its first battle honor. It continued to advance through Ukraine and into Romania over the next eight months, being brought to a halt east of Iași in the spring of 1944. In late August the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts crushed the defending German and Romanian forces, and on the last day of the month the 375th played a leading role in the capture of the Romanian capital, Bucharest; it won its second battle honor and two of its rifle regiments were awarded decorations. For the duration of the war the division fought its way through Romania and Hungary, finally advancing into Austria with 7th Guards Army. Its record of admirable service was capped with the award of the Order of the Red Banner soon following the German surrender, but it was nevertheless disbanded shortly thereafter.

The 409th Rifle Division was formed as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served in that role for the duration of the Great Patriotic War. It was officially considered an Armenian National division, and initially almost all its personnel were of that nationality. After forming it remained in service along the border with Turkey until nearly the end of 1942, when it was redeployed to the 44th Army in Transcaucasus Front, assisting in driving the German 17th Army into the Kuban peninsula. Following this the division was moved to the 46th Army in Southwestern Front and took part in the summer offensive through the Donbass and eastern Ukraine. In October it was moved again, now to the 57th Army in 2nd Ukrainian Front; it would remain in that Front for the duration of the war, moving to the 7th Guards Army in December. After crossing the Dniepr the 409th won a battle honor in January, 1944, then spent the spring and summer in the battles around Jassy and Kishenev in Moldova. After the defeat of Romania the division advanced into Hungary as part of the 27th Guards Rifle Corps. In October it rejoined the 7th Guards Army, where it remained for the duration, mostly in the 25th Guards Rifle Corps. After the fall of Budapest the division joined the final advances on Vienna and Prague in the spring of 1945, and was disbanded shortly thereafter.

The 36th Guards Rifle Division was a Guards infantry division of the Red Army during World War II. It was formed from the 9th Airborne Corps in August 1942 as a result of the Soviet need for troops to fight in the Battle of Stalingrad. The division was awarded the honorific Verkhnedneprovsk for its crossing of the Dnieper in September 1943 near that town, later receiving the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class, for its actions in the Uman–Botoșani Offensive in March 1944. It fought in the Siege of Budapest during late 1944 and early 1945, receiving the Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class, for its actions. In late 1945, it was converted into the 24th Guards Mechanized Division. Stationed in Romania, it was disbanded in early 1947.

The 14th Guards Rifle Division was reformed as an elite infantry division of the Red Army in January, 1942, based on the 1st formation of the 96th Rifle Division, which was officially a mountain unit at the time, and served in that role until after the end of the Great Patriotic War. It was in Southern Front when it was redesignated and was soon assigned to the 57th Army. It was encircled during the German counterattack in the Second Battle of Kharkov in May and its first commander was made a prisoner of war, later dying in German captivity. A cadre of the division managed to escape and was sent to the Reserve of the Supreme High Command for rebuilding. In July it joined the 63rd Army and took part in the attacks against the Italian 8th Army that created the bridgehead south of the Don River near Serafimovich during August. In October, now in 21st Army of Don Front, it was active in two probing attacks against the Romanian forces now containing the bridgehead which inflicted severe casualties in advance of the Soviet winter counteroffensive. At the start of that offensive the division was in 5th Tank Army, but was soon transferred to 1st Guards Army and then to the 3rd Guards Army when that was formed. It was under this Army as it advanced into the Donbass in late winter before returning to 57th Army during most of 1943, fighting through east Ukraine and across the lower Dniepr by the end of the year. After being briefly assigned to 53rd Army in December it was moved to 5th Guards Army in February, 1944 where it remained for the duration, mostly in the 33rd Guards Rifle Corps. It saw action in the Uman–Botoșani Offensive and won its first decoration, the Order of the Red Banner, as it advanced, before being involved in the frustrating battles along the Dniestr River on the Romanian border. In late spring, 1944 the division was redeployed north becoming part of 1st Ukrainian Front and taking part in the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive into Poland. The 14th Guards made a spectacular advance across Poland during the Vistula-Oder Offensive and was awarded the Order of Lenin for its part in the liberation of Sandomierz. On January 22, 1945 its commander suffered mortal wounds in the fighting for a bridgehead over the Oder River. In the drive on Berlin in April the division and its regiments won further honors and decorations but despite these distinctions it was disbanded in August, 1946.

The 41st Guards Rifle Division was formed as an elite infantry division of the Red Army in August, 1942, based on the 1st formation of the 10th Airborne Corps, and served in that role until after the end of the Great Patriotic War. It was the last of a series of ten Guards rifle divisions formed from airborne corps during the spring and summer of 1942. It was briefly assigned to the 1st Guards Army in Stalingrad Front, then to the 24th Army in Don Front, and suffered heavy casualties north of Stalingrad before being withdrawn to the Reserve of the Supreme High Command for a substantial rebuilding. Returning to 1st Guards Army in Southwestern Front in November it took part in Operation Little Saturn as part of 4th Guards Rifle Corps and then advanced into the Donbass where it was caught up in the German counteroffensive in the spring of 1943. During the summer and fall the division fought its way through eastern Ukraine as part of the 6th, and later the 57th Army under several corps commands. It would remain in the southern part of the front for the duration of the war. By February, 1944 it was in the 7th Guards Army and took part in the battle for the Korsun Pocket, winning its first battle honor in the process. Shortly after it was transferred to the 4th Guards Army, where it would remain for the duration, still moving through several corps headquarters. The 41st Guards saw limited service in the first Jassy-Kishinev offensive in the spring, but considerably more in August's second offensive and several of its subunits received battle honors or decorations. The division itself won a second honorific during the offensive into Hungary in January, 1945 and was later decorated for its role in the capture of Budapest. After the fall of Vienna in April it did garrison duty in the city for a short time before being directed west into lower Austria where it linked up with U.S. forces in the last days of the war. In October, while still in Austria, it was converted to the 18th Guards Mechanized Division.

The 50th Guards Rifle Division was an elite infantry division of the Red Army during World War II that continued as part of the Soviet Army during the early period of the Cold War. Converted into the 50th Guards Motor Rifle Division in the late 1950s, the division was based in Brest, Belarus. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the division became part of the Belarusian Ground Forces and was reduced to a brigade and then a storage base before being disbanded in 2006.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Military planning in the twentieth century", U.S. Air Force History Office
  2. United Center for Research and Training in History, Bulgarian historical review , p.7
  3. 1 2 Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, ISBN   1-85367-280-7, Greenhill Books, 1997; (chapter on the Jassy–Kishinev operation in Russian)
  4. 1 2 V. Anescu et. al., România în războiul antihitlerist, Editura Militară, 1966, pp. 696-697
  5. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 145
  6. 1 2 Worldwar2.ro: "The home defense campaign – 1944"
  7. (in German) Siebenbürgische Zeitung: "Ein schwarzer Tag für die Deutschen", 22 August 2004
  8. Frieser 2007, p. 812.
  9. John Erickson, The Road to Berlin: Continuing the History of Stalin's War with Germany, pp. 345, 350, 374
  10. Major R. McMichael, The Battle of Jassy–Kishinev, (1944), Military Review, July 1985, pp. 52–65
  11. Dmitriy Loza, James F. Gebhardt, Commanding the Red Army's Sherman Tanks , chapter "A cocktail for the Shermans", p.43
  12. Victor Nitu. The Tanks
  13. Friessner H. "Verratene schlachten." – Hamburg: Holsten Verlag, 1956.
  14. Axworthy, page 167
  15. Friessner H. Verratene schlachten. Appendix 1. – Hamburg: Holsten Verlag, 1956.
  16. 1 2 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 164
  17. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 237
  18. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 173
  19. 1 2 (in Russian) "The Jassy–Kishinev offensive operation, 1944" Archived 2012-11-11 at the Wayback Machine – an article by Oleg Beginin based on several Soviet history books.
  20. Axworthy, page 173
  21. Axworthy, page 180
  22. Axworthy, page 181
  23. Dumitru I. S. (1999) (in Romanian)."Tancuri în flăcări. Amintiri din cel de-al doilea război mondial." (Tanks in flames. Memories of the Second World War). Bucharest: Nemira. p. 464
  24. Axworthy, page 183
  25. Axworthy, p.188
  26. Axworthy, p.190
  27. 1 2 Axworthy, p. 187
  28. Axworthy, p. 188
  29. Axworthy, p. 189
  30. Axworthy, p. 192
  31. 1 2 Axworthy, p. 193
  32. (in Romanian) Florin Mihai, "Sărbătoarea Armatei Române" Archived 2013-06-16 at the Wayback Machine , Jurnalul Național , October 25, 2007
  33. George Ciorănescu and Patrick Moore, "Romania's 35th Anniversary of 23 August 1944" Archived 28 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine , Radio Free Europe, RAD Background Report/205, September 25, 1973
  34. Andrei Miroiu, "Balancing versus bandwagoning in the Romanian decisions concerning the initiation of military conflict" Archived 2008-02-28 at the Wayback Machine , NATO Studies Center, Bucharest, 2003, pp. 22–23. ISBN   973-86287-7-6
  35. Axworthy, page 20
  36. (in Romanian) "60 de ani de la 'operațiunea Iași – Chișinău'", BBC News , August 24, 2004
  37. Igor Dodon a participat la ceremonia de inaugurare a Monumentului eroilor eliberatori ai capitalei, renovat — Președinția Republicii Moldova
  38. "На Кицканском плацдарме". tourizmik.ru. Archived from the original on 2016-10-30. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  39. Шерпенский плацдарм
  40. Igor Dodon: Celebration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Moldova from the Nazi invaders will begin this year » Accent TV
  41. Russian Defense Chief Flies To Moldova For Liberation Celebrations On Saturday - UrduPoint
  42. Министр обороны Российской Федерации прибыл в Кишинев : Министерство обороны Российской Федерации
  43. Россия предлагает начать утилизацию боеприпасов на территории Молдовы — Президентура Республики Молдова
  44. "Moldovan defense minister says expects Russian counterpart's visit - Interfax". www.interfax.com. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  45. "Moldova is not ready for Shoigu's visit - NEWS.ru". news.ru. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  46. "Russian defense minister invited to celebrate Moldova's liberation from Nazis". tass.com. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  47. Șeful statului a participat la ceremonia comemorativă de la Complexul Memorial „Capul de Pod Șerpeni” — Președinția Republicii Moldova
  48. În cadrul „vizitei private” în Moldova, Ministrul rus al Apărării Șoigu a inspectat trupele de ocupație rusești din Transnistria și a distribuit medalii militarilor ruși | Act...

Notes

  1. Russian: Ясско-кишинёвская стратегическая наступательная операция – Jassy–Kishinev Strategic Offensive Operation. A number of less common transliteration variants of the operation's name exists in various historical sources. Among them are Yassy–Kishinev Operation (Chris Bellamy, 1986), Iassi–Kishinev Operation (David Glantz, 1997), Second Iasi–Kishinev Operation (David Glantz, 2007) etc.

Sources