East Carpathian Operation of 1944

East Carpathian Operation of 1944

 

an offensive operation of the Soviet troops of the First Ukrainian Front (Marshal of the Soviet Union I. S. Konev) and the Fourth Ukrainian Front (General of the Army I. E. Petrov) in September and October 1944 during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. The successful offensive of the troops of the First Ukrainian Front and their seizure of the Sandomierz base of operations, along with the rapid advance of the troops of the Second and Third Ukrainian fronts toward the borders of Hungary and Bulgaria, created favorable conditions for the development of operations in the Carpathians and for the liberation of Czechoslovakia. On August 29 the Slovak National Uprising of 1944 began, and the Soviet government, faithful to its obligations as an ally and acting in accordance with the request of the Czechoslovakian government, decided to offer military aid to the Slovak people. In September, Soviet airplanes carried out the delivery of arms to the insurgents, and the urgent preparation of the offensive was begun.

Initially, the Thirty-eighth Army of the First Ukrainian Front (Colonel General K. S. Moskalenko), which included the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps (General L. Swoboda), and the First Guards Army (Colonel General A. A. Grechko) of the Fourth Ukrainian Front were enlisted in the operation. As the front of the offensive expanded, all the forces of the Fourth Ukrainian Front came to be included. The operation began on September 8-9 and developed amid the difficult conditions of the mountain-forest locality, the enemy’s powerful defensive system, and unfavorable weather. The offensive took the form of a slow “gnawing through” the enemy’s defenses. In the last third of September, Soviet troops moved toward the Central Carpathian Range; on September 20, the First Guards Army entered Czechoslovak territory in the vicinity of Kalinov. On October 6, the troops of the Thirty-eighth Army and the Czechoslovak Corps captured Dukla Pass. Subsequently the offensive in this direction slowed down; at the end of October, the troops of the Thirty-eighth Army and the First Guards Army passed to the defensive. The troops of the left wing of the Fourth Ukrainian Front (the Eighteenth Army and the XVII Guards Rifle Corps) continued the offensive, and after fierce fighting in September and early October took the Uzhok, Veretskii, Iablonitsa, and other passes, breaking through the enemy’s defenses on a front of about 300 km and advancing, by October 14, to a depth of 30 km. Strong frontal blows by Soviet forces, as well as the successful development of the Debrecen Operation of 1944 by the Second Ukrainian Front, forced the enemy to begin withdrawing the forces that faced the Fourth Ukrainian Front. The forces of the Eighteenth Army and the XVII Guards Rifle Corps began the pursuit of the enemy. The troops of the Fourth Ukrainian Front liberated Mukachevo on October 26, Uzhgorod on October 27, and Chop on October 29, joining the forces of the Second Ukrainian Front, which had completed the Debrecen Operation.

As a result of the East Carpathian Operation, Soviet forces succeeded in crossing the Carpathians and creating the conditions for the subsequent liberation of Czechoslovakia. The offensive in the Carpathians diverted a substantial number of German and Hungarian troops, thus assisting the Slovak up-rising and the operations of Soviet troops in Hungary. In the course of the fighting, defeats were inflicted on the German First Panzer Army and the Hungarian First Army.

REFERENCES

Za osvobozhdenie Chekhoslovakii. Moscow, 1965.
Proektor, D. M. Cherez Duklinskii pereval. Moscow, 1960.

A. D. KHARITONOV

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