Rzhev-Viazma Operation of 1943
Rzhev-Viaz’ma Operation of 1943
an offensive operation of the forces of the Kalinin and Western fronts from March 2 to 31 in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45).
After the defeat of the fascist German troops around Moscow, the enemy’s Rzhev-Viaz’ma grouping held the salient of the front closest to the capital of the USSR, and great importance was attached to retaining the salient. Throughout 1942 about two-thirds of all the forces of Army Group Center operated on this sector of the front. In the spring of 1943 the situation on the southern wing of the Soviet-German front greatly deteriorated for the fascist German troops, and the enemy was forced to transfer the forces of the Rzhev-Viaz’ma grouping to the region south of Orel in order to stop the offensive of the Soviet troops on the Briansk and Central fronts.
In view of the enemy’s retreat, the Western Front, commanded by Colonel General V. D. Sokolovskii, and the Kalinin Front, commanded by Colonel General M. A. Purkaev, were ordered to take up the pursuit, liquidate the Rzhev-Viaz’ma base of operations, and develop the offensive along the Smolensk axis. In the first few days the rate of pursuit of the enemy was only 6–7 km a day. This was due to the spring thaw, as well as the enemy’s wide use of obstacles and defensive positions prepared in advance. By March 22 the troops of both fronts approached the strongly fortified Ribshevo-Safonovo-Miliatino line, where they were forced to pass to the defensive.
In the Rzhev-Viaz’ma Operation, the Soviet troops pushed the front line 100–120 km farther away from Moscow; liberated the cities of Rzhev, Gzhatsk, Sychevka, Belyi, and Viaz’ma; and inflicted great losses on the enemy. The liquidation of the Rzhev-Viaz’ma base of operations enabled the Soviet Supreme Command to place two armies and one corps in the reserve.
REFERENCESIstoriia Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soiuza 1941–1945, vol. 3. Moscow, 1964.
Operatsii Sovetskikh Vooruzhennykh Sil v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine, 1941–1945, vol. 2. Moscow, 1958.
D. Z. MURIEV