|Upper Silesian Offensive|
|Part of Eastern Front of World War II|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|unknown||66,801 (including 15,876 irrecoverable)|
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 Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign 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 centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
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The front lines in Silesia had been established at the end of the Vistula-Oder Offensive in January, during which Konev's troops had forced the German Seventeenth Army of General Friedrich Schulz out of the industrial heartland of Upper Silesia around Kattowitz. The Lower Silesian Offensive Operation, taking place in February, had seen the northern wing of Konev's forces make further gains, closing up to the Neisse River. This had, however, left a long exposed flank to the south and east in the Sudeten Mountains, still held by Schulz's troops, which formed a potential threat to the proposed Soviet advance on Berlin.
The German Seventeenth Army was a World War II field army.
Friedrich Schulz was a German general during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.
Katowice is a city in southern Poland, with a city-proper population of 294,510 making it the eleventh-largest city in Poland and is the center of the Katowice metropolitan area, which has approximately 2 million people.
The commander of Army Group Centre, Field-Marshal Ferdinand Schörner, began to build up Schulz's forces during February for a counter-attack against the 3rd Guards Tank Army's spearheads, which had reached and taken Lauban during the Lower Silesian Offensive. The LVI Panzer Corps and XXXIX Panzer Corps were grouped under the command of General Nehring; a two-pronged attack began on 1 March, with the 17th Panzer and Führer Grenadier Divisions attacking in the north, and 8th Panzer Division to the south.
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct strategic German Army Groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 25 January 1945, after it was encircled in the Königsberg pocket, Army Group Centre was renamed Army Group North, and Army Group A became Army Group Centre. The latter formation retained its name until the end of the war in Europe.
Ferdinand Schörner was a German army officer and Nazi war criminal. He was a general and later Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several army groups and was the last Commander-in-chief of the German Army.
Lubań is a town in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship in southwest Poland. It is the administrative seat of Lubań County and also of the smaller Gmina Lubań.
The 3rd Guards Tank Army was initially taken by surprise, though by 3 March German forces found themselves threatened by Soviet counterattacks from Naumberg. As a result, Nehring decided on a more limited plan of encirclement. Rybalko's troops evacuated Lauban to avoid being cut off, and the town was retaken by the 6th Volksgrenadier Division. By 4 March, the encirclement was closed, though large numbers of Soviet troops were able to escape; within 4 days the trapped force had been destroyed (the fighting in Silesia has been characterised as "merciless", with German forces not taking prisoners).
Nowogrodziec is a town in Bolesławiec County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of the administrative district called Gmina Nowogrodziec. It lies on the east bank of the Kwisa river south of the Lower Silesian Wilderness, approximately 15 kilometres (9 mi) south-west of Bolesławiec, and 116 kilometres (72 mi) west of the regional capital Wrocław.
Despite the limited nature of the victory, the recapture of Lauban was presented as a great success by German propaganda, with Joseph Goebbels visiting the town on 9 March to give a speech on the battle. Schörner made preparations for a further attack to the south-east at Striegau, which was commenced on 9 March. Though there were not enough forces available for a double envelopment, the Germans were able to penetrate the Soviet lines and cut off elements of the 5th Guards Army on the night of 11–12 March; there was an outbreak of panic amongst the trapped troops, who were massacred by Schörner's men as they tried to escape.
Propaganda is information that is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest and most devoted associates, and was known for his skills in public speaking and his deeply virulent antisemitism, which was evident in his publicly voiced views. He advocated progressively harsher discrimination, including the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.
Strzegom is a town in Świdnica County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of the Gmina Strzegom administrative district (gmina). It lies approximately 15 kilometres (9 mi) north-west of Świdnica, and 52 kilometres (32 mi) west of the regional capital Wrocław.
Schörner began to organise a more ambitious offensive to the north to relieve the besieged city of Breslau, moving Nehring's divisions northwards from Lauban by rail, but Konev acted decisively to regain the initiative in Silesia. Shifting the 4th Tank Army from the northern flank of his Front, he redeployed it near Grottkau in order to spearhead a major attack into Upper Silesia, neutralising the threat to the left flank of his forces and taking the area around Ratibor.
Wrocław is a city in western Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe, roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi) from the Baltic Sea to the north and 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the Sudeten Mountains to the south. The population of Wrocław in 2018 was 640,648, making it the fourth-largest city in Poland and the main city of the Wrocław agglomeration.
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia, located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic.
Divisional assignments to Corps as of 31 Dec. 1944.Units tended to move between Corps depending on situation.
Also present: 8th, 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th Panzer Divisions. These tended to pass between Corps. Also Führer Begleit Division,18th SS Div., 20th SS GD, and Panzer Division Hermann Göring.
Konev launched his main attack on 15 March. The 4th Tank Army broke through the German lines west of Oppeln and drove directly southward, heading for Neustadt. A subsidiary attack by the 4th Guards Tank Corps fanned out to take Neisse. South-east of Oppeln, the 59th and 60th Armies also broke through, the former swinging westwards to link up with the 4th Tank Army. The First Panzer Army's XI Corps, holding the lines near Oppeln, was now threatened with encirclement.
In the south, the 38th Army attacked German troops of the LIX Corps defending with their backs to the highlands of Moravia. By means of a limited tactical withdrawal on 10 March, Heinrici was able to minimise the damage inflicted by the preparatory bombardment, and the front in this sector remained firm.
The LVI Panzer Corps positioned near Oppeln also started to pull back, but the 20th Grenadier (Estonian) Division of the SS and 168th Infantry Division found themselves trapped by the advance of the 4th Tank Army and 59th Army which linked up near Neustadt. By the 22nd, Soviet forces of the 59th and 21st Armies succeeded in reducing the Oppeln 'cauldron' (German : Kessel), claiming to have killed 15,000 and captured a further 15,000 of the German troops trapped there.
Konev launched further attacks on 24 March, and by 31 March, when Ratibor and Katscher were taken, was able to declare the offensive phase of operations over.
The Upper Silesian Offensive succeeded in stabilising Konev's left flank in preparation for the advance on Berlin, and removed the threat of any German counter-attacks from Army Group Centre. The lines in Silesia remained largely unchanged until the end of the war, when Schoerner's force surrendered.
The Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive led to the Battle of the Korsun–Cherkasy Pocket which took place from 24 January to 16 February 1944. The offensive was part of the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive. In it, the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts, commanded, respectively, by Nikolai Vatutin and Ivan Konev, encircled German forces of Army Group South in a pocket near the Dnieper River. During weeks of fighting, the two Red Army Fronts tried to eradicate the pocket. The encircled German units attempted a breakout in coordination with a relief attempt by other German forces, resulting in heavy casualties, estimates of which vary.
The Prague Offensive was the last major military operation of World War II in Europe. The offensive was fought on the Eastern Front from 6 May to 11 May 1945. Fought concurrently with the Prague uprising, the offensive was one of the last engagements of World War II in Europe and continued after Nazi Germany's unconditional capitulation on 8 May.
The Western Front was a front of the Red Army, one of the Red Army Fronts during World War II.
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 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.
Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz was a German Army officer. Strachwitz saw action in World War I, but rose to fame for his command of armoured forces in World War II. For these services he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
The Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive or Lvov-Sandomierz Strategic Offensive Operation was a major Red Army operation to force the German troops from Ukraine and Eastern Poland. Launched in mid-July 1944, the Red Army achieved its set objectives by the end of August.
The 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 Siege of Breslau, also known as the Battle of Breslau, was a three-month-long siege of the city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, Germany, lasting to the end of World War II in Europe. From 13 February 1945 to 6 May 1945, German troops in Breslau were besieged by the Soviet forces which encircled the city as part of the Lower Silesian Offensive Operation. The German garrison's surrender on 6 May was followed by the surrender of all German forces two days after the battle.
The Battle of Bautzen was one of the last battles of the Eastern Front during World War II. It was fought on the extreme southern flank of the Spremberg-Torgau Offensive, seeing days of pitched street fighting between forces of the Communist Polish Second Army under elements of the Soviet 52nd Army and 5th Guards Army on one side and elements of German Army Group Center in the form of the remnants of the 4th Panzer and 17th armies on the other.
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.
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 Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, also known in Soviet historical sources as the liberation of right-bank Ukraine, was a strategic offensive executed by the Soviet 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts, along with the 2nd Belorussian Front, against the German Army Group South, and fought from 24 December 1943 – 17 April 1944. The goal of this offensive was to split Wehrmacht's Army Group South and to clear the German-Romanian-Hungarian forces from most of the Ukrainian and Moldovian territories, which were occupied by Axis forces. It was one of the biggest offensives of World War 2, stretching on over 1,000 km front and involving almost 3,500,000 troops from both sides.
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 Uman–Botoşani Offensive or Uman-Botoshany Offensive was a part of the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, carried out by the Red Army in western Ukrainian SSR against the German 8th Army of Army Group South. Led by Marshal Ivan Konev, this Soviet operation became one of the most successful Red Army operations of the whole war.
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 Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive was an offensive by the Red Army's 3rd Ukrainian Front and elements of the 4th Ukrainian Front against the German 6th Army in the area of Nikopol and Krivoi Rog in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in central Ukraine between 30 January and 29 February 1944. It took place on the Eastern Front of World War II and was part of the wider Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, a Soviet attack against Army Group South to retake the rest of Ukraine that fell to Germany in 1941.
The Battle of Rzhev in the Summer of 1942 was part of a series of battles that lasted 15 months in the center of the Eastern Front. It is known in Soviet history of World War II as the First Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation, which was defined as spanning from 30 July to 23 August 1942. However, it is widely documented that the fighting continued undiminished into September and did not finally cease until the beginning of October 1942. The Red Army suffered massive casualties for little gain during the fighting, giving the battle a notoriety reflected in its sobriquet: "The Rzhev Meat Grinder".
The 16th Guards Tank Division was a tank division of the Soviet Army and later the Russian Ground Forces.