Vistula-Oder Operation of 1945
Vistula-Oder Operation of 1945
a strategic offensive operation carried out by the troops of the First Byelorussian Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov) and the First Ukrainian Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union I. S. Konev) from January 12 to February 3 during the Great Patriotic War of 1941—45. It was an organic part of the overall strategic offensive of the USSR armed forces from the Baltic to the Danube.
The offensive operations of Soviet troops in the autumn of 1944 in Eastern Prussia and Hungary had forced the enemy to send to that region part of the troops making up Army Group A from the Warsaw-Berlin axis. By January 1945 the two Soviet fronts were resisted by three armies (28 divisions and two brigades) of Army Group A (called Army Group Center after January 26) totaling about 400,000 men, 4,103 guns and infantry mortars, 1,136 tanks and assault guns, and 270 air-craft. The Soviet command established significant superiority in forces and weapons—the 16 combined-arms armies, four tank armies, two air armies, and numerous large units of both Soviet fronts numbered 1.5 million men (in combat units), 37,033 guns and infantry mortars, 7,042 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 5,047 aircraft. Owing to the skillful camouflaging by the Soviet command, the fascist German command did not expect an offensive by Soviet troops in.the central sector of the front before the end of January. At the request of the allies, the Soviet Supreme Command moved up the time for the start of the offensive from January 20 to January 12 in order to divert the fascist German forces away from the West.
The troops of the First Ukrainian Front passed to the offensive on January 12, delivering the main attack from the Sandomierz base of operations. The troops of the First Byelorussian Front passed to the offensive on January 14 from the Magnuszew and Pulawy bases of operations. By January 18 the main forces of Army Group A had been destroyed and the enemy’s defense was broken through to a depth of 100-150 km along a 500-km front. Warsaw was liberated on January 17. The immediate objective of the operation was carried out twice as fast as planned, which made it possible to develop the attacks on Poznari and Breslau (Wroclaw). The fascist German command hurriedly began transferring forces from the reserves, the Western Front, and other sectors (up to a total of 40 divisions), but was unable to restore the broken-through front. On January 23 the Soviet troops surrounded a 62,000-man enemy garrison in Poznan. Troops of the First Ukrainian Front reached the Oder and forced it in several sectors while the left flank armies of the front, in coordinated action with the Thirty-eighth Army of the Fourth Ukrainian Front, liberated Kraków on January 19 and engaged the enemy in battle for the Silesian industrial region. Between January 26 and February 3 the troops of the First Byelorussian Front broke through the enemy’s fortifications on the former German-Polish border, reached the Oder, and captured bases of operations in the vicinity of Kustrin (Kostrzyn). By this time the troops of the First Ukrainian Front had completed the liberation of the Silesian industrial region and consolidated at the bases of operations on the western bank of the Oder. As a result of the Vistula-Oder operation, 35 divisions were completely destroyed and 25 had lost between 50 and 70 percent of their personnel; about 150,000 prisoners were taken. The operation was characterized by a swift advance (25-30 km a day for 20 days) as a result of the powerful initial blow, the great penetrating power and high mobility of the Soviet troops, wide maneuvering, and the close coordinated action of the troops. The destruction of the fascist German troops in the Vistula-Oder operation created the conditions for the successful execution of the Berlin and East Pomeranian operations. During the operation almost all of Poland and a significant part of Czechoslovakia were liberated.
REFERENCESIstoriia Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soiuza 1941-1945, vol. 5. Moscow, 1964.
Konev, I. S. Sorok piatyi. Moscow, 1966.
Zhukov, G. K. Vospominaniia i razmyshleniia. Moscow, 1969.