1st Belorussian Front

1st Belorussian Front

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The 1st Belorussian Front (Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

: 1-й Белорусский фронт, alternative spellings are 1st Byelorussian
Byelorussian SSR
The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union. It was one of the four original founding members of the Soviet Union in 1922, together with the Ukrainian SSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic...

 Front
and 1st Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

ian Front
) was a Front
Front (Soviet Army)
A front was a major military organization in the Soviet Army during many wars. It was roughly equivalent to an army group in the militaries of most other countries except Germany...

 of the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 during World War II. As such it was a Soviet formation equivalent to a Western Army group
Army group
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area...

.

Creation and initial operations


Initially, the Belorussian Front was created on 20 October 1943 as the new designation of the existing Central Front
Soviet Central Front
The Central Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War.The Central Front describes either of two distinct organizations during the war...

. It was placed under the command of General Konstantin K. Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovskiy was a Polish-origin Soviet career officer who was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, as well as Marshal of Poland and Polish Defence Minister, who was famously known for his service in the Eastern Front, where he received high esteem for his outstanding military skill...

, who had been commanding the Central Front. It launched the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive in 1943 and then the Kalinkov-Mozyr Offensive in 1944.

Redesignation and 1944 operations


It was then renamed the 1st Belorussian Front (1BF) on 17 February 1944 following the Dnepr-Carpathian strategic offensive operation. A few days later, on 21 February, the Rogachev-Zhlobin Operation commenced, which continued until 26 February. The next operation was the Bobruysk Offensive
Bobruysk Offensive Operation
The Bobruysk Offensive was part of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in summer 1944, commonly known as Operation Bagration.-Operational goals:...

, part of Operation Bagration, and on 26 June the attacks of 1BF encircled Bobruisk, trapping 40,000 troops of the German 41st Panzer Corps (part of 9th Army). From 18 July-2 August the Front was part of the Lublin-Brest Offensive. From 2 August to 30 September the Front was engaged cleaning out Germans to the east of the Vistula (during which the Battle of Radzymin
Battle of Radzymin (1944)
The Battle of Radzymin was one of a series of engagements between the Red Army's 1st Byelorussian Front and the Wehrmacht Heer's XXXIXth Panzer Corps that occurred as part of the Lublin-Brest Offensive between August 1 and August 10, 1944 at the conclusion of the Belorussian strategic offensive...

 took place from 1–10 August). Its 8th Guards
Soviet 8th Guards Army
The Soviet 8th Guards Army was an army of the Soviet Union's Red Army/Soviet Army, disbanded in the early 1990s.Activated in October 1941 as the 7th Reserve Army, the Army was redesignated the 62nd Army at Stalingrad in July 1942...

, 28th, 47th, 65th, 69th, and 70th Armies were involved at Radzymin. Later during that same period, on 14 September, 1BF with the support of Polish forces captured Praga
Praga
Praga is a historical borough of Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It is located on the east bank of the river Vistula. First mentioned in 1432, until 1791 it formed a separate town with its own city charter.- History :...

, a suburb of Warsaw.

Operations in 1945


The next attack was the Warsaw-Poznań Operation, a part of the Vistula-Oder Offensive
Vistula-Oder Offensive
The Vistula–Oder Offensive was a successful Red Army operation on the Eastern Front in the European Theatre of World War II; it took place between 12 January and 2 February 1945...

. On 13 January, 1BF began an offensive toward Pillkallen (Schlossberg between 1938–1945) in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

, against which they meet stiff resistance from the 3rd Panzer Army.The 1st Belorussian Front opened its attack on the German Ninth Army from the Magnuszew
Magnuszew
Magnuszew is a village in Kozienice County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It is the seat of the gmina called Gmina Magnuszew. It lies approximately north-west of Kozienice and south-east of Warsaw....

 and Puławy bridgeheads at 08:30 on 14 January, again commencing with a heavy bombardment. The 33rd
33rd Army (Soviet Union)
The Red Army's 33rd Army was a Soviet field army during the Second World War. It was disbanded by being redesignated HQ Smolensk Military District in 1945.-Initial Operations:...

 and 69th Armies broke out of the Puławy bridgehead to a depth of 30 km, while the 5th Shock and 8th Guards Armies broke out of the Magnuszew bridgehead. The 2nd and 1st Guards Tank Armies were committed after them to exploit the breach. On 25 January, the Front cut off the fortress city of Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 which held 66,000 Germans, and continued its 80 km a day advance, leaving the 8th Guards Army to lay siege to the city
Battle of Poznan (1945)
The Battle of Poznań during World War II in 1945 was a massive assault by the Soviet Union's Red Army that had as its objective the elimination of the Nazi German garrison in the stronghold city of Poznań in occupied Poland...

, which they finally took on 23 February.

Capture of Berlin


Along with the 1st Ukrainian Front
1st Ukrainian Front
The 1st Ukrainian Front was a front—a force the size of a Western Army group—of the Soviet Union's Red Army during the Second World War.-Wartime:...

, 1BF then stormed Berlin in the climatic Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov
Georgy Zhukov
Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov , was a Russian career officer in the Red Army who, in the course of World War II, played a pivotal role in leading the Red Army through much of Eastern Europe to liberate the Soviet Union and other nations from the Axis Powers' occupation...

 was appointed commander of the 1BF, in November 1944, for its last two great offensives of World War II. After the capture of Poland and East Prussia (its capture was finished on April 25 with capture of Pillau
Baltiysk
Baltiysk , prior to 1945 known by its German name Pillau , is a seaport town and the administrative center of Baltiysky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, located on the northern part of the Vistula Spit, on the shore of the Strait of Baltiysk separating the Vistula Bay from the Gdańsk Bay. Baltiysk...

) from January–March 1945, the Soviets redeployed their forces during the first two weeks of April. Marshal Georgy Zhukov concentrated 1BF, which had been deployed along the Oder river from Frankfurt
Frankfurt (Oder)
Frankfurt is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the town of Słubice which was a part of Frankfurt until 1945. At the end of the 1980s it reached a population peak with more than 87,000 inhabitants...

 in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the Seelow Heights
Seelow Heights
The Seelow Heights are situated around the town Seelow, about 90 kilometres east of Berlin and overlook the Oderbruch, the western flood plain of the River Oder which is a further 20 km to the east....

. The 2nd Belorussian Front moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German II Army which had been bottled up in a pocket near Danzig managed to escape across the Oder.

In the early hours of 16 April the Berlin Offensive Operation started with the objectives of capturing Berlin
Battle in Berlin
The Battle in Berlin was an end phase of the Battle of Berlin. While the Battle of Berlin encompassed the attack by three Soviet Army Groups to capture not only Berlin but the territory of Germany east of the River Elbe still under German control, the Battle in Berlin details the fighting, and...

 and linking up with Western Allied forces on the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

. The operation started with an assault on the Seelow Heights
Battle of the Seelow Heights
The Battle of the Seelow Heights , was a part of the Seelow-Berlin Offensive Operation ; one of the last assaults on large entrenched defensive positions of World War II. It was fought over three days, from 16–19 April 1945...

 by 1BF and by Marshal Konev
Ivan Konev
Ivan Stepanovich Konev , was a Soviet military commander, who led Red Army forces on the Eastern Front during World War II, retook much of Eastern Europe from occupation by the Axis Powers, and helped in the capture of Germany's capital, Berlin....

's 1st Ukrainian Front
1st Ukrainian Front
The 1st Ukrainian Front was a front—a force the size of a Western Army group—of the Soviet Union's Red Army during the Second World War.-Wartime:...

 (1UF) to the south. Initially the 1BF had great difficulty smashing through the German lines of defence, but after three days they had broken through and were approaching the outskirts of Berlin. By 22 April 1BF had penetrated the northern and eastern suburbs of Berlin. They finished the encirclement of Berlin on 25 April when units of the 1BF and 1UF meet at Kietzen west of Berlin. After heavy street by street and house to house fighting, General Weidling
Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was an officer in the German Army before and during World War II...

, the commander of Berlin's garrison, met with General Chuikov and surrendered Berlin unconditionally at 15:00 hours local time on 2 May.

Post-war


On 8 May, after a signing ceremony in Berlin, the German armed forces surrendered to the Allies unconditionally and the war in Europe was over. Following the war, the Front headquarters formed the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany , also known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany and the Western Group of Forces were the troops of the Soviet Army in East Germany....

.

Commanders


The Front's Commissars included
  • Lt. General Konstantin F. Telegin
    Konstantin Telegin
    -Early life:Telegin joined the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Russian Civil War, becoming a member of the Russian Communist Party in 1919. He served as a Regimental Commissar assistant. In 1931 he graduated from the Lenin Military-Political Academy. At first he was a political officer in the...

     [continuing from Central Front] (October 1943-May 1944; November 1944-June 1945)
  • Colonel General Nikolai A. Bulganin
    Nikolai Bulganin
    Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin was a prominent Soviet politician, who served as Minister of Defense and Premier of the Soviet Union . The Bulganin beard is named after him.-Early career:...

     (May 1944-November 1944)

1945 time line

  • 24 January: 1BF and 2nd Belorussian Fronts attack Pomerania. German II Army is cut off.
  • 31 January: 1BF reaches the river Oder
    Oder
    The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

     to the North of Küstrin
    Küstrin
    Before 1945 Küstrin was a town in the former Prussian province of Brandenburg in Germany, situated on both sides of the Oder river...

     and establishes a bridgehead on the western side less than 60 km from Berlin.
  • 1 February: 1BF surrounds the fortress town of Küstrin.
  • 2 February: 1BF reaches the Oder to the south of Frankfurt (Oder)
    Frankfurt (Oder)
    Frankfurt is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the town of Słubice which was a part of Frankfurt until 1945. At the end of the 1980s it reached a population peak with more than 87,000 inhabitants...

  • 6 February: 1BF fans out along the east bank of the Oder between Frankfurt and Küstrin.
  • 4 March: 1BF breaks through the German lines at Stargard and drives towards Stettin. It also establishes a new bridgehead across the Oder to the south of Frankfurt.
  • 27 March: 1BF is involved in heavy street fighting in Danzig
  • 28 March: 1BF captures Gotenhafen north of Danzig.
  • 29 March: The fortress town of Küstrin falls to the 1BF after a siege lasting almost a month.
  • 30 March: Soviet troops finally capture Danzig
  • 16 April: 1BF and the 1st Ukrainian Front start the final offensive on Berlin from along the Oder-Neisse line
    Oder-Neisse line
    The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

    .
  • 17 April: The 1BF assault against Berlin is stalled by tenacious German resistance on the Seelow Heights, 3 km west of the Oder, with great losses of troops and tanks for the Soviets.
  • 18 April: 1BF continues to batter the German position across the Seelow Heights in a battle of attrition.
  • 19 April: 1BF breaks through the German defences on the Seelow Heights and moves rapidly towards Berlin.
  • 22 April: 1BF penetrates the northern and eastern suburbs of Berlin.
  • 25 April: Units of the 1BF and 1st Ukrainian Fronts meet at Kietzen west of Berlin. Berlin is now completely encircled by eight Russian armies.
  • 30 April: Zhukov refuses to grant the defenders of Berlin an armistice and demands an unconditional surrender
  • 2 May: General Weidling
    Helmuth Weidling
    Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was an officer in the German Army before and during World War II...

    , the commander of Berlin's Garrison meets with General Chuikov and accepts his terms of unconditional surrender of Berlin. The garrison in Berlin surrenders at 3pm local time.
  • 8 May: In deference to the Soviets, the surrender ceremony to the Western Allies at Rheims on the previous day is repeated before Marshal Zhukov and other Soviet generals at Karlshorst, a suburb of Berlin.
  • 10 June: Front disbanded; its command transformed into the command of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
    Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
    The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany , also known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany and the Western Group of Forces were the troops of the Soviet Army in East Germany....

    .

Component armies


The armies that were part of the 1st Belorussian Front included:
  • 61st Army
  • 1st Polish Army
    First Polish Army (1944-1945)
    The Polish First Army was a Polish Army unit formed in the Soviet Union in 1944, from the previously existing Polish I Corps as part of the People's Army of Poland . The First Army fought westward, subordinated to the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front, during the offensive against Germany that led to...

  • 47th Army
  • 3rd Shock Army
    3rd Shock Army (Soviet Union)
    The 3rd Shock Army was a field army of the Red Army formed during the Second World War. The 'Shock' armies were created with the specific structure to engage and destroy significant enemy forces, and were reinforced with more armoured and artillery assets than other combined arms armies...

  • 5th Shock Army
  • 8th Guards Army
  • 69th Army
  • 33rd Army
    33rd Army (Soviet Union)
    The Red Army's 33rd Army was a Soviet field army during the Second World War. It was disbanded by being redesignated HQ Smolensk Military District in 1945.-Initial Operations:...

  • 16th Air Army
    Special Purpose Command
    The Special Purpose Command was a formation of the Russian Air Force, the strongest among the tactical aviation and anti-aircraft groupings. Its zone of responsibility amounted to 1.3 million km², taking in 40 million people, as well as the country's capital, Moscow...

  • 18th Air Army
  • 1st Guards Tank Army
  • 2nd Guards Tank Army
  • 3rd Army