Eastern Pomeranian Operation of 1945

Eastern Pomeranian Operation of 1945

 

an offensive operation by the troops of the Second Byelorussian Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union K. K. Rokossovskii) and of the First Byelorussian Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov) carried out between February 10 and April 4 during the Great Patriotic War. As a result of the successful completion of the Vistula-Oder Operation of 1945, the Soviet troops reached the Oder at the end of January. The troops of the First Byelorussian Front, having forced the river near Küstrin, were 60 km from Berlin. The fascist German command began deploying in eastern Pomerania part of the forces of Army Group Vistula (three armies comprising about 26 divisions, including four panzer divisions; commanded by H. Himmler) in order to strike a blow at the right wing of the First Byelorussian Front, gain its rear, and rout its troops that had reached Küstrin, thereby disrupting preparations for the offensive on Berlin. The Soviet Supreme Command, having ascertained the concentration of large enemy forces in eastern Pomerania, on February 8 ordered the Second Byelorus-sian Front (four combined arms armies, one air force, and two tank, one mechanized, and one cavalry corps) to rout the eastern Pomeranian enemy grouping, to capture the region of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Gdynia, and to mop up the enemy along the shore of the Baltic Sea from the Vistula to the Oder.

On February 10 the troops of the Second Byelorussian Front, without a pause after the first phase of the East Prussian Operation of 1945, passed to the offensive. The break-through of the enemy’s defense took on a protracted character. In ten days of fierce and sustained combat, the troops of the front could advance only 40-60 km and were compelled to halt the offensive. Meanwhile, by the middle of February, the enemy had concentrated about 40 divisions in eastern Pomerania and on February 17 struck a heavy blow at the troops of the right wing of the First Byelorussian Front and pressed them 8-12 km near Stargard. It became clear to the Soviet command that the forces of the Second Byelorussian Front were insufficient to rout the eastern Pomeranian grouping and that, before striking a blow at Berlin, the threat from eastern Pomerania had to be liquidated. Therefore, General Headquarters brought in the troops of the right wing of the First Byelorussian Front into the operation, postponing the beginning of the front’s offensive on Berlin. On February 24 the troops of the Second Byelorussian Front, reinforced by the 19th Army and a tank corps from the General Headquarters reserve, struck a blow at Köslin. On March 1 the First Byelorussian Front (six armies including two tank armies), which had struck a blow at Kolberg (Kolobrzeg), passed to the offensive. By March 5 the Soviet troops had split the eastern Pomeranian grouping and reached the shore of the Baltic Sea. After that, the troops of the First Byelorussian Front opened an offensive toward the lower reaches of the Oder River, which they reached by March 20. Simultaneously, the troops of the Second Byelorussian Front turned northeast and captured Gdynia on March 28 and Danzig on March 30. The Soviet troops captured about 100,000 prisoners, more than 850 tanks, 430 aircraft, and more than 5,500 guns and infantry mortars. The rout of the eastern Pomeranian grouping ensured the further successful execution of the Berlin Operation of 1945 and the destruction of the enemy troops encircled in the Baltic area and in East Prussia.

REFERENCE

Zav’ialov, A. S., and T. E. Kaliadin. Vostochno-Pomeranskaia nastupatel’naia operatsiia sovetskikh voisk. Moscow, 1960.

A. N. SHIMANSKII

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