Vienna Operation Of 1945

Vienna Operation Of 1945

 

an offensive operation of the troops of the Second and Third Ukrainian fronts, commanded, respectively, by Marshals of the Soviet Union R. Ia. Malinovskii and F. I. Tolbukhin, from March 16 to April 15 during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. The Soviet troops launched the Vienna Operation immediately after the successful completion of the Balaton Defensive Operation of 1945. For the operation the Soviet command brought in the troops of the Third Ukrainian Front (six armies, one tank army, one air army, and two tank, one mechanized, and one cavalry corps), the 46th Army of the Second Ukrainian Front, and the Danube Military Flotilla. According to the Soviet command’s plan, the main attack was delivered in the general direction of Papa, Sop ron, and Vienna. From the north, the actions were secured by the offensive of the Seventh Guards Army on Bratislava. The Soviet troops were opposed south of the Danube by the troops of the German Army Group South (commanded by General of the infantry O. Wöhler), composed of the Hungarian Third Army, the German Sixth Army, the Sixth and Second Panzer armies, and part of the forces of Army Group F. The German command attached great importance to the defense along the Vienna axis of operations, counting on halting the Soviet troops and holding its ground in the mountain and forest regions of Austria in the hope of concluding a separate peace with Great Britain and the USA. However, the Soviet troops broke through the enemy’s defense between March 16 and April 4, defeated Army Group South, and reached the approaches to Vienna. Between April 5 and April 13, through simultaneous blows by the Fourth Guards Army from the southeast, the Ninth Guards Army from the southwest, and the Sixth Guards Tank Army from the west, the enemy’s Vienna grouping (eight tank divisions, one infantry division, and up to 15 separate battalions) was routed, and on April 13, Vienna was completely cleared of the enemy. Pressing the pursuit of the defeated enemy units, the Soviet troops on April 15 reached the line of Stockerau, Sankt Polten, Maribor, and farther along the northern bank of the Drava River.

During the period of the battles for Vienna and the pursuit of the enemy alone, the Soviet troops took 130,000 prisoners and captured or destroyed 1,345 tanks and assault guns and more than 2,250 guns and infantry mortars; more than 11 German divisions were completely smashed, including the entire SS Sixth Panzer Army. During the combat for Vienna the Soviet government published a declaration in which it stated that the USSR did not claim any part of Austrian territory and did not desire any changes in the social structure of Austria. The successful completion of the Vienna Operation created the conditions for the liberation of Czechoslovakia and speeded up the liberation of Yugoslavia, where Army Group E found itself completely isolated from Germany. The failure of the attempt of the fascist German leadership to organize a prolonged defense of the so-called Alpine fortress brought closer the moment of the final rout of Hitler’s Germany. In memory of the battles for Vienna, the Soviet government instituted the medal “For the Capture of Vienna.”

REFERENCES

Budapesht-Vena-Praga (4 apr. 1945 g., 13 apr. 1945 g., 9 maia 1945 g.). Moscow, 1965.
Minasian, M. M. Osvobozhdenie narodov Iugo-Vostochnoi Evropy. Moscow, 1967.
Malakhov, M. M. Osvobozhdenie Vengrii i Vostochnoi Avstrii (oktiabr’ 1944-apreV 1945). Moscow, 1965.

M. M. MALAKHOV

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