Stalin's ten blows

Stalin's ten blows

Stalin's ten blows, "Stalin's ten victories", or "ten victories of the Red Army" is a Soviet term for ten successful strategic offensives conducted by the Red Army in 1944. These offensives destroyed a large portion of Axis forces, and lead to the surrender of a number of Germany's more minor allies. The term is primarily used by Soviet historians and is less well known in Western histories.

History of the expression

The term was heard for the first time in November 1944 from Joseph Stalin in his speech "27th anniversary of the Great October socialist revolution" ( _ru. «27-я годовщина Великой Октябрьской социалистической революции») during the 1944 meeting of the Moscow's Soviet deputies. [ [] 27-я ГОДОВЩИНА ВЕЛИКОЙ ОКТЯБРЬСКОЙ СОЦИАЛИСТИЧЕСКОЙ РЕВОЛЮЦИИ Доклад Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны на торжественном заседании Московского Совета депутатов трудящихся с партийными и общественными организациями г. Москвы 6 ноября 1944 года] The term was coined more as a reflection of the "cult of personality" that prevailed in Soviet Union at the time. It did not reflect specific strategic planning of the Stavka, and at times had been called the "Year of twelve victories," based on the order issued by Stalin on the following day, authorising the firing of artillery salutes with 24 guns in twelve cities of the Soviet Union [ [ Приказ Верховного Главнокомандующего 7 ноября 1944 года] И. Сталин о Великой Отечественной войне Советского Союза. — М.: Госполитиздат, 1946] : Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Petrozavodsk, Tallin, Riga, Vilnus, Kinshinev, Tbilisi, Sevastopol, and Lvov. In the list of ten presented below, these are not included; they are considered part of the Jassy-Kishinev Strategic Offensive. This categorization is most commonly used.Willmott 1989, p. 368]

After the collapse of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, the Soviet counter-offensives and the Battle of Kursk later in 1943, it became apparent that the tide of war was turning against Germany. Soviet forces were, all along the front, approaching the pre-war border. Partly because of Furher Directive 51, which funnelled all new men and materials to the Western Front, to meet the expected Allied Invasion, issued on 3 November, 1943, Axis forces along the Eastern Front were severely inadequately equipped in comparison to their Soviet opponents, reinforcements were rare, and reserves were stretched thin. [Ziemke 1968, p. 216] Although in this directive Hitler implied that he might be willing to allow withdraws, trading space for time, this proved to be false. [Ziemke 1968, p. 217] This, combined with Hitler's insistence on holding onto captured territory at all costs, made Soviet victories in 1944 nearly inevitable.Wright 1989, p. 330]

The term was discontinued in use after Khrushchev's speech denouncing Stalin following his death.

The offensives

#Lifting of the Leningrad blockade (14 January - 1 March, 1944). This, the second chronologically of the offensives, fully relieved the siege of Leningrad, which had started on August 30, 1941. Although the Germans resisted fiercely at first, having had years to prepare defensive rings including pillboxes and minefields around Leningrad, once the initial defenses were broken Soviet forces easily reached Estonia. It was conducted by the Leningrad Front and the Volkhov Front. [Willmott 1989, p. 369 - 371] [Werth 1964, p. 764]
#Liberation of the right-bank Ukraine (24 January 1944 - 17 February 1944) by the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts as part of the Dnepr-Carpathian Strategic Offensive (24 December, 1943 - 17 April, 1944). This offensive was launched on Christmas Eve, 1943, the first chronologically of the 1944 offensives. It involved the clearing of Axis forces from Ukraine. It also resulted in the isolation of the German-controlled Crimea. It involved the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts, and the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts. [Willmott 1989, p. 372 - 374] Werth 1964, p. 775]
#Liberation of Odessa (26 March 1944 - 14 April 1944) which begun the third blow, and the Liberation of Crimea (8 April - 12 May, 1944) which completed it. The third offensive cleared the Crimea of German and Romanian forces, and recaptured Sevastapol. After Adolf Hitler refused to allow Axis forces to evacuate, believing that retention of the Crimea was vital to maintaining Turkish neutrality. Once the Red Army attacked over the Perekop Isthmus, it quickly drove the German and Romanian forces back to Sevastopol, which surrendered on 8 May. Although Hitler had finally given permission for evacuation, the majority of soldiers surrendered and went into captivity. Due to heavy casualties suffered by the Romanian forces, this battle was a major factor in their surrender. It was conducted by the 4th Ukrainian Front. [Wright 1989 , p. 334]
#Liberation of Karelia-Finland Soviet Republic (9 June - 9 August, 1944). This offensive against Finland recaptured the Karelian Isthmus and Vyborg. After having reached the 1940 border,Dubious|date=October 2008 the Soviet forces stopped voluntarily.Dubious|date=October 2008 [It is interesting to note, that according the Soviet and Finnish military sources (Platonov"Bitva za Leningrad" and Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu:"Jatkosodan historia 4-5") Soviet forces managed to advance only 10km after the capture of Vyborg, and never reached the border of 1940 on the Karelian Isthmus. The only place where Soviet forces managed to reach the border of 1940, was at Ilomantsi, where two Soviet rifle divisions crossed the border but were forced to withdraw with heavy casualties after a Finnish counter-attack. Also, according the Soviet archival sources, the Leningrad Front was under orders to advance to Lappeenranta and to prepare offensive to River Kymijoki, but as Platonov writes: "...were unable to fulfill their orders." thus making the voluntary stopping very questionable.] It was successful in territorial gains, but due to Finnish fortificationsFact|date=October 2008, and German reinforcements was not as great a success as hoped by the Stavka. However, it was an cause of the eventual Finnish surrender on 19 September. It was carried out by the Leningrad Front and the Karelian Front. [Wright 1989, p. 343]
#Belorussian operation (22 June - 29 August, 1944), liberation of Lithuanian SSR and significant parts of allied Poland, and advance to the borders of Germany. [The wartime codename of the operation, Operation Bagration, was not used in the speech] Started exactly three years after the invasion of the Soviet Union, and named after Pyotr Bagration, a Russian general during the Napoleonic Wars, this drove the last remaining German forces from Soviet lands, recapturing all of Belarus. It resulted in the almost complete destruction of the German Army Group Center, and was undoubtedly one of Germany's worst defeats of the war. It is sometimes known as "The destruction of Army Group Center." Soviet forces advanced past the Bobruisk-Mogilev-Vitebsk line, and nearly reached Warsaw before stopping. Almost 30 German divisions were encircled near Minsk, and the prewar border of East Prussia was reached. The Lublin–Brest Offensive is considered part of this operation. It was conducted by the 1st Baltic Front, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Belorussian Fronts. [Wright 1989, p. 336]
#Liberation of western Ukraine and crossing of Visla (13 July - 29 August, 1944). This offensive to the south of and concurrent to Operation Bagration advanced through Poland and past the Bug River. Although it made little progress at first, eventually it became successful, capturing Brody, Lvov, and Sandomierz. It was carried out by the 1st Ukrainian Front. Wright 1989, p. 338]
#Forcing out of the war of Romania and Bulgaria (19 August - 14 October, 1944), advancing to the borders of Hungary, and the possibility of offering assistance to allied Yugoslavia. These began with the Jassi-Kishinev Offensive from 20 August to 29 August, and included the abortive East Carpathian Strategic Offensive Operation. These offensives, in the Balkans, was targeted at German and Romanian formations in Army Group South Ukraine. About 15 or 16 German divisions were encircled with several Romanian divisions.These operations, which continued into October, directly caused the capitulation of Romania and Bulgaria. It decimated the formations of Army Group South Ukraine, and continued the advance deep into Romania. It was carried out by the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts. [Wright 1989, p. 341]
#Liberation of Estonia and Latvia, surrounding of Germans in Courland, and exit of Finland from the war (14 September - 20 November, 1944). Recapturing the Baltic, including most of Latvia and Estonia, this offensive isolated the Courland Pocket, where 30 divisions of Army Group North were cut off from Army Group Center till the end of the war in Europe. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Baltic Fronts, along with the Leningrad Front carried out this attack.
#The crossing of Carpathian mountains, liberation of Belgrade and offering of direct help to Czechoslovakia (8 September 1944 - 28 September 1944)and destruction of the Budapest group of Axis forces (20 October, 1944 - 13 February 1945), and the Liberation of Belgrade (14 September 1944 - 24 November 1944). These, the final of the successful 1944 offensives, resulted in the capture of Budapest, on 13 February 1945. Budapest was surrounded by Soviet forces on 26 December, 1944, and, after brutal street fighting, fell. It was conducted by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Fronts. [Willmott, p. 391] The three offensives were regarded, and planned as a single continuous strategic advance that was also imbued with great political significance due to the participation of the Yugoslav communist forces in its final phase.
#Removal of threat from German forces to Soviet northern shipping port of Murmansk and entry into Norway (7 October - 29 October, 1944). This, the first and only large-scale Arctic military operationWillmott 1989, p. 387] started after German forces did not evacuate from Finnish territory by 15 September, as dictated in the terms of the Moscow Armistice. It involved Soviet forces chasing retreating Germans into Norway, and was very successful for the Soviet Union. It led to the occupation of the nickel mines in Pechenga, which had been producing metal vital for the German war effort. It was conducted primarily by the Karelian Front, with assistance from Soviet naval forces.



*cite book | author= Willmott, H.P. |title= The Great Crusade: A New Complete History of the Second World War |publisher= The Free Press |location= New York|year= 1989|isbn= 0-02-934715-7
*cite book | author = Ziemke, Earl|title= Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East| publisher= The U.S. Army Center of Military History|location= Washington, DC|year=1968|isbn=1410204146

Recommended reading

* Beshanov, V., Stalin's ten blows, Minsk, Harvest, 2004 (Бешанов В. Десять сталинских ударов. — Мн.: Харвест, 2004.)
* Yemelyanov, Yu., Stalin's ten blows: triumph of the generalissimo, Moscow, Eksmo, 2006 (Емельянов Ю. Десять сталинских ударов. Триумф генералиссимуса — М.: Эксмо, 2006. ISBN 5-699-18353-1)

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