Operation Bagration

What was the most important military operation of June 1944? Not Operation Overlord (D-Day), but Operation Bagration, says Mike Davis. The operation began on 19 June 2004, when

…a Soviet guerrilla army emerged from the forests and bogs of Belorussia to launch a bold surprise attack on the mighty Wehrmacht’s rear.

The partisan brigades, including many Jewish fighters and concentration-camp escapees, planted 40,000 demolition charges. They devastated the vital rail lines linking German Army Group Centre to its bases in Poland and Eastern Prussia.

Three days later, on June 22 1944, the third anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Marshal Zhukov gave the order for the main assault on German front lines. Twenty-six thousand heavy guns pulverised German forward positions. The screams of the Katyusha rockets were followed by the roar of 4,000 tanks and the battle cries (in more than 40 languages) of 1.6 million Soviet soldiers. Thus began Operation Bagration, an assault over a 500-mile-long front.

Wikipedia has more.

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13 Responses

  1. gary says:

    “The operation began on 19 June 2004…”

    Better late than never, I guess. 🙂

  2. gary says:

    I just can’t get that hepped up about a ‘bold surprise attack on the Wehrmacht’s rear’ that consisted of blowing up rail lines. To do that, I’d have to heroify Iraqis blowing holes in oil lines.

    And given that the USSR might have conducted the entire war as Hitler’s ally had not Hitler abrogated the treaty between them, my sense of comradeship is tempered with cynicism.

  3. Joel says:

    Somehow I like the idea of the “mighty Wehrmacht’s rear” lasting until 2004 in the bogs of Belorussia. That beats even the longest lasting Japanese soldiers (with much scrawnier rears) hiding in Pacific Island jungles.

  4. Andy says:

    Gary – check out the rest of the article. Blown up rail lines was the least of the problems that Germany faced in the East. They suffered far greater casualties on the Eastern Front than in the West.

    It’s also worth noting that, whatever we may think of guerrilla operations in general, they were an accepted part of war then – by all sides. The D-Day landings, for example, made extensive use of french guerrilla forces to sabotage rail links.

  5. Alexei says:

    ‘Better late than never’ is what most Russians would say of D-Day.

    No doubt Moscow, Washington and London had agreed in advance on the timing of D-Day and Bagration so the latter would take some German troops off the Western front. The two should be seen as part of a joint strategy.

    Davis overstates the “revolutionary elan”. Let’s keep it simple: no one likes to be occupied by a foreign power, especially one that is big on its racial superiority.

    Also, guerilla troops weren’t particularly effective in the East for most of WWII, but they’ve always been heavily romanticized.

    Too bad Davis sounds like a diehard socialist because his message is right if pompously delivered: without the millions of Russian casualties, Americans would not have kept theirs at a minimum.

  6. Tim Newman says:

    Bagration? He was one of the Generals who fought against Napolean in 1812 I believe, and features heavily in War and Peace.

  7. Faranji says:

    The Russians killed over 3 million Germans – the British and American troops managed about 200,000….but to be fair, the Americans in the main, and the ‘forgotten’ British army in Burma, also accounted for large numbers of Japanese.

    I have always wondered how it was that Americans eventually strongly supported the war in Europe, while battling their own major enemy, Japan.

    It is perhaps not unreasonable to think that the Allies knew that if they didn’t liberate as much as they could, the iron curtain would have come down across the Channel.

  8. Faranji says:

    The Russians killed over 3 million Germans – the British and American troops managed about 200,000….but to be fair, the Americans in the main, and the ‘forgotten’ British army in Burma, also accounted for large numbers of Japanese.

    I have always wondered how it was that Americans eventually strongly supported the war in Europe, while battling their own major enemy, Japan.

    It is perhaps not unreasonable to think that the Allies knew that if they didn’t liberate as much as they could, the iron curtain would have come down across the Channel.

  9. Willraven says:

    The Operation: Bagration (also known as the Battle of Byelorussia and The Destruction of the Army Group Centre) is one of the Germany’s greatest defeat since the battles in Stalingrad and Kursk.

    Unlike Germany’s Operation: Barbarossa the Soviet’s Operation: Bagration is a success sealing the german dreams to became a great empire, thanks to Zhukov, Rokossovsky and Chernyakovsky who where the man to beat the Hitler’s finest commanders.

    Althrough this war is not famous as “Barbarossa”, “Bagration” is the turning point of the destruction of the Third Reich and also the rise of the Soviet Union to became a Superpower

  10. gordon stanley says:

    bagration used immense quantities of USA supplied
    material trucks tanks planes you name it. The reds were on the ropes until USA came forward with the largesse.

  11. laport says:

    “bagration used immense quantities of USA supplied”

    is this true? if it is, is it a good excuse for believing that Hitler was defeated by USA instead of by Russia, as it really was. Is USA in denial, why? what for?

  12. Chris says:

    Bagration and Overloard are hammer and anvil of the same strategy. While it’s true the US and UK supplied large quantaties of trucks and parts through Murmansk and Iran-don’t compare that to the blood shed by the Red Army. June 1944 is perhaps the greatest month of WWII. Normandy and Bargration were a one two blow to Nazi Reich. It was, finally, the beginning of the end. It’s a shame this was the zenith of Allied unity.

  1. June 16, 2004

    Reds

    Here is an interesting piece at the Guardian. Despite being insanely slanted, it does have some useful information. “But what American has ever heard of Operation Bagration? June 1944 signifies Omaha Beach, not the crossing of the Dvina River. Yet…