Second Front

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Second Front


in World War II (1939-45), a battlefront against fascist Germany, which was opened by the USA and Great Britain on June 6, 1944, with the incursion of their troops into northwestern France.

The problem of a second front existed from the time that fascist Germany attacked the USSR on June 22, 1941 (see WORLD WAR n, 1939-45). The opening of a second front in the west was necessary to distract significant numbers of fascist German troops from the main Soviet-German front and to achieve the fastest possible victory for the Allies of the antifascist coalition. However, in accordance with their policies, which were intended to wear out the USSR and Germany and establish world supremacy, the ruling circles in the USA and Great Britain delayed the opening of a second front. Instead, the British and American command landed troops in North Africa in November 1942, in Sicily in July 1943, and later in southern Italy. Essentially, these actions did not mean the opening of a second front, and they distracted an insignificant part of the enemy forces. Major vic-tories by Soviet troops over the fascist German troops during 1943-44 showed that the Soviet armed forces were capable of freeing the peoples of Europe from Hitler’s yoke by them-selves, and this finally induced the British and American command to open a second front by landing 43 divisions in northwestern France on June 6, 1944. This led to a serious weakening of the strategic position of fascist Germany, al-though the Soviet-German front continued to be the main, decisive one: in the beginning of July 1944, 235 German and allied divisions were active on that front, but on the western front there were only 65 active divisions. In July and August during the Falaise Operation of 1944, allied forces broke through the defenses of the fascist German troops and, having a considerable superiority in forces and means, they freed all of northwestern France and Paris within a month, with the active support of French partisans. On Aug. 15, 1944, American and French troops landed in southern France and, advancing quickly, freed southern and southwestern France by September 10. In September 1944, the Allies carried out the Holland Operation of 1944; however, they were unable to free the Netherlands and go around the Siegfried line. In early 1945 the Soviet-German front again diverted the main enemy forces: 195Vi fascist German divisions were active there on January 1; on the Western Front and in Italy, there were 107. In the second half of 1944, 59 fascist German divisions and 13 brigades were transferred to the Soviet-German front from the countries of Europe, while only 12 divisions and five brigades left the Soviet-German front for the Western Front. Taking advantage of their tremendous superiority in forces and means, allied troops carried out a number of successful operations in 1945, the most important of which were the Meuse-Rhine and Ruhr operations. By the beginning of May they reached the Elbe and the western regions of Austria and Czechoslovakia, where they met Soviet troops; the liberation of Italy was also completed. The second front played a definite role in the war, but far from the great role that bourgeois historiography tries to ascribe to it.


Perepiska Predsedatelia Soveta Ministrov SSSR s prezidentami SShA i prem’er-ministrami Velikobritanii vo vremia Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny 1941-1945, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1957.
Kulish, V. Vtoroi Front. Moscow, 1960.
Matloff, M., and E. Snell. Strategicheskoe planirovanie v koalitsionnoi voine 1941-1942. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Matloff, M. Ot Kasablanki do “Overlorda.” Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)


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