Balaton Defensive Operation of 1945

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Balaton Defensive Operation of 1945

 

an operation involving the troops of the Third Ukrainian Front (under the command of Marshal of the Soviet Union F. I. Tol-bukhin) on March 6 to 15 in the region of Lake Balaton (Hungary) during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. Having completed the Budapest Operation of 1944–45, the troops of the Third Ukrainian Front began to prepare for the drive on Vienna. The troops of the front consisted of 37 rifle divisions, three cavalry divisions, six Bulgarian infantry divisions, and two tank and one mechanized corps (more than 400,000 men, around 7,000 guns and mortars, 400 tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces, and about 1,000 airplanes). In the middle of February, the Soviet command learned that large enemy forces were concentrating in the area of Lake Balaton for the purpose of carrying out the counteroffensive in preparation. The decision was made to have the forces of the Third Ukrainian Front temporarily assume the defensive and wear down and bleed the enemy, afterward assuming the offensive in the direction of Vienna. The fascist German command was hoping to defeat the troops of the Third Ukrainian Front, to restore the defensive front along the Danube River, and to stabilize the situation on the entire southern section of the Soviet-German front for the purpose of eliminating the threat posed to the southern regions of Germany and to the German troop groupings in Yugoslavia, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Along with the SS Sixth Tank Army, which had been shifted from the western front, the enemy moved some 31 divisions (including 11 tank divisions), five combat groups, and one motorized brigade (more than 430,000 men, over 5,600 guns and mortars, about 900 tanks and assault guns, and 850 aircraft) into the region of Lake Balaton. The German troop offensive started on the morning of March 6. The main attack was launched between Lakes Balaton and Velence. In concentrating 50–60 tanks per kilometer in certain areas of the front, the enemy endeavored to split the Soviet troops and reach the Danube. Aside from the main attack, the enemy made two secondary attacks: one from the area to the south of Lake Balaton in the direction of Kaposvár, and the other from the southern bank of the Drava River toward Pécs. The resistance of the Soviet units and forces, the broad maneuvering of artillery on the field of battle, and the high military skills of the Soviet soldiers and officers rendered all the enemy efforts fruitless. Having lost more than 40,000 men, around 500 tanks and assault guns, and 300 guns and mortars, the German troops were forced to halt the offensive on March 15.

Along with the defensive stage of the Kursk battle of 1943, the Balaton defensive operation of 1945, brief in duration but exceptionally dynamic and full of fiercely contested combat, is a model of effective organization and able execution of an operational defense by Soviet troops in the Great Patriotic War. The successful completion of the Balaton defensive operation made possible the commencement of the Vienna Operation of 1945.

REFERENCES

Istoriia Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soiuza: 1941–1945, vol. 5. Moscow, 1963.
Velikaia Otechestvennaia voina Sovetskogo Soiuza 1941–1945:Kratkaia istoriia. Moscow, 1965.
Minasian, M. Osvobozhdenie narodov lugo-Vostochnoi Evropy. Moscow, 1967.
Malakhov, M. M. Ot Balatona do Veny. Moscow, 1959.
Malakhov, M. M. Osvobozhdenie Vengrii i Vostochnoi Avstrii. Moscow, 1965.
Budapesht-Vena-Praga, 4 aprelia 1945 g., 13 aprelia 1945 g., 9 maia 1945 g. Moscow, 1965.

M. M. MALAKHOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.