- East Prussian Offensive
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=East Prussian Offensive
East Prussian Strategic Offensive Operation
caption=Soldiers of the
German Fourth Armyman positions on the East Prussian border immediately prior to the offensive
partof=the Eastern Front of
World War II
January 13, 1945– May 9, 1945
Army Group Centre) Friedrich Hossbach, Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller
Third Panzer Army) Walter Weiss, Dietrich von Saucken
2nd Belorussian Front) Ivan Chernyakhovsky, Aleksandr Vasilevsky
3rd Belorussian Front) Hovhannes Bagramyan
1st Baltic Front)
strength2=1,669,100See [http://www.soldat.ru/doc/casualties/book/chapter5_10_1.html Soldat.ru] - note that this covers "all" personnel of the 3rd and 2nd Belorussian Fronts, and the elements of 1st Baltic Front involved.]
casualties1=151,757 inc. 63,774 irrecoverable (German est., to 10 Feb only)Report from OKH for 3rd Panzer, 4th and 2nd Armies for 1 Jan - 10 Feb only; likely incomplete.]
casualties2=584,778 inc. 126,646 irrecoverable (Soviet est., for whole offensive)See Glantz, "When Titans Clashed". Figure for the whole period of the offensive.] |
The East Prussian Offensive, known officially to the Soviets as the East Prussian Strategic Offensive Operation, ( _ru. Восточно-Прусская стратегическая наступательная операция) was an offensive by the
Red Armyagainst the German " Wehrmacht" on the Eastern Front (World War II). It lasted from 13 January 1945to 25 April1945, though some German units did not surrender until 9 May. The Battle of Königsbergwas a major part of the offensive, which ended with a total victory for the Red Army.
The East Prussian operation is known to German historians as the "Second" East Prussian Offensive. The "First" East Prussian operation, known also as the Goldap-Gumbinnen Operation, took place from 16-27 October 1944, and was carried out by the
3rd Belorussian Frontunder General I.D. Chernyakhovsky as part of the Memel Offensive Operation( _ru. Мемельская операция) of the 1st Baltic Front. The Soviet forces took heavy casualties while penetrating 30-60km into East Prussia and Poland, and the offensive was postponed until greater reserves could be gathered.
The East Prussian Offensive
The main thrust of the offensive was to be conducted by the 3rd Belorussian Front under Chernyakhovsky. His forces were tasked with driving westwards towards Königsberg, against the defensive positions of
Third Panzer Armyand Fourth Army, the northern armies of General Georg-Hans Reinhardt's Army Group Centre. [Beevor, pp.29]
From the north, on Chernyakhovksy's right flank, General
Hovhannes Bagramyan's 1st Baltic Frontwould attack the positions of Third Panzer Army on the Neman, as well as crushing its small bridgehead at Memel. Chernyakhovsky's left flank would be supported by the 2nd Belorussian Frontof Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, which was initially ordered to push north-west to the Vistula, through the lines of the German Second Army, thereby sealing off the whole of East Prussia. [Beevor, pp.27]
Opening of the offensive
The Soviet offensive began on
13 Januarywith a heavy preparatory bombardment. The Red Army made steady progress, though at the cost of very high casualties, the defenders having the advantage of substantial fortifications in the InsterburgGap east of Königsberg, and around Heilsberg. Over the next few days the Third Panzer Army of General Erhard Rauswas largely destroyed or withdrew into Königsberg, while General Friedrich Hossbach's Fourth Army began to find itself outflanked.
Rokossovsky attacked across the
Narewon 14 January; on 20 Januaryhe received orders to swing the axis of his advance northwards towards Elbing.Duffy, p.170] This sudden change of direction caught Reinhardt and Hossbach by surprise; on Rokossovsky's right flank, the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps captured the major town of Allensteinon 22 January, threatening the rear of Hossbach's formation.Duffy, p.171] By 24 January, Rokossovsky's leading tank units had reached the shore of the Vistula Lagoon, severing land communications with the rest of German armed forces for the entire Fourth Army along with several divisions of Second Army which were now trapped in a pocket centred on East Prussia. On the same day, Hossbach began to pull his units back from the fortified town of Lotzen- a centre of the East Prussian defence system - and through a series of forced marches attempted to break out westwards.Duffy, p.172]
In the meantime, Chernyakhovsky had succeeded in rolling up the defences from the East, pushing the remnants of Third Panzer Army into Königsberg and
Samland. On 28 January, Bagramyan's forces captured Memel; the remnants of the three divisions defending the town were evacuated and redeployed in Samland to reinforce the defence there.
The Siege of Königsberg and the Heiligenbeil pocket
With the remnants of Army Group Centre effectively contained, Soviet forces could concentrate on reducing the German forces in Pomerania and eliminating any possible threat to the northern flank of their eventual advance on
Berlin. Reinhardt and Hossbach, who had attempted to break out of East Prussia and save their troops, were relieved of command, and the Army Group (redesignated Army Group North) was placed under the command of General Lothar Rendulic. Reinhardt gave up his command with the words "There is nothing more to say".Duffy, p.173] Raus and the staff of the destroyed Third Panzer Army were assigned to a new formation.The defending forces, in the meantime, were besieged in three pockets by Chernyakhovsky's armies:
*Some fifteen divisions of Fourth Army had become encircled on the shore of the
Vistula Lagoonin what became known as the Heiligenbeil pocket. After bitter fighting, these units were finally overcome on March 29. [Beevor, pp.49]
*The remnants of Third Panzer Army, placed under Fourth Army's command, became isolated in the Siege of Königsberg. The city was finally taken by the Soviets, after massive casualties on both sides, on
April 9. After this point the remaining German forces around the Bight of Danzigwere reorganised into " Armee Ostpreußen" under the overall command of Dietrich von Saucken.
*The third group of German forces, the XXVIII Corps or "Armeeabteilung Samland" under General
Hans Gollnick, occupied the Samland peninsula, where the port of Pillauwas retained as the last effective evacuation point for the area. The last elements were cleared from Pillau on April 25in the Zemland offensive operation.
Even after this time German forces continued to resist on the
Frische Nehrung, the long sandbar enclosing the Vistula Lagoon, until the end of the war.
Evacuation of East Prussia
Battle of Königsberg
Operation Hannibal, the evacuation effort by the " Kriegsmarine"
East Pomeranian Offensive, the parallel Soviet offensives in Pomerania
Strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II
*Duffy, Christopher. "Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany, 1945", Routledge, 1991, ISBN 0-415-22829-8
*Beevor, Antony. "Berlin: The Downfall 1945", Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5
David M. Glantz
** [http://www.strom.clemson.edu/publications/sg-war41-45.pdf The Soviet‐German War 1941–45] : Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay
**"When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler", Kansas University Press, 1995
* [http://www.onwar.com/maps/wwii/eastfront2/eprussia45.htm Map of the Soviet Advance into East Prussia & Siege of Königsberg January 13 - May 9, 1945]
Otto Lasch, the commander of "Festung Königsberg", wrote a book covering the siege, "So fiel Königsberg" ( _en. Thus fell Königsberg)(Motorbuch Verlag, 2002, ISBN 978-3613022072); originally published in 1958
* Russian authors
Aleksandr Solzhenitsynand Lev Kopelevwrote of their experiences in East Prussia during the offensive; the former in " Prussian Nights", the latter in his book "To Be Preserved Forever" (Lang-ru|Хранить вечно) (English translation by A. Austin, Lippincott, 1977, ISBN 978-0397011407)
Alexander Vasilevskycovers his role in the offensive in his memoirs, translated as "A Lifelong Cause" (translation by J. Riordan, Progress, 1981)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
East Pomeranian Offensive — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=East Pomeranian Offensive East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive Operation caption=Soviet troops and vehicles in Danzig, March 1945 partof=the Eastern Front of World War II place=Pomerania date=February 24, 1945… … Wikipedia
East Prussia — is sometimes used to refer to the Duchy of Prussia (1525–1618) The Province of East Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1871 … Wikipedia
Prussian Army — The Prussian Army ( de. Preußische Armee) was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the… … Wikipedia
Prussian Nights — ( de. Ostpreussische Nächte) is a long poem by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a captain in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. Prussian Nights describes the Red Army s march across East Prussia, and focuses on the traumatic acts of rape and … Wikipedia
Prussian Crusade — Baltic tribes and Prussian clans ca. 1200. The Prussian Crusade was a series of 13th century campaigns of Roman Catholic crusaders, primarily led by the Teutonic Knights, to Christianize the pagan Old Prussians. Invited after earlier unsuccessful … Wikipedia
Evacuation of East Prussia — Part of World War II … Wikipedia
Vistula–Oder Offensive — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Vistula Oder Offensive partof=the Eastern Front of World War II caption=Soviet troops enter Łódź date=12 January – 2 February 1945 place=Central Poland and eastern Germany casus= territory= result=Soviet victory … Wikipedia
Zemland Offensive — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Zemland Offensive caption= partof=Eastern Front of World War II place=East Prussia date=April 13, 1945 ndash; April 25, 1945 result=Soviet Victory combatant1= combatant2=flagicon|USSR Soviet Union commander1=)… … Wikipedia
Franco-Prussian War — Infobox Military Conflict caption=Pierre Georges Jeanniot s La ligne de feu (1886), depicting the Battle of Mars La Tour partof=the wars of German unification conflict=Franco Prussian War date=19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871 place=France and Prussia… … Wikipedia
Osovets Offensive — Part of Operation Bagration / Eastern Front Date August 6, 1944 – August 14, 1944 Location Poland … Wikipedia