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Operation Bagration Timeline

Authored By Dan Alex | Last Updated: 7/23/2014

Throughout 1943, the Soviet war machine was gearing up in strength and numbers for its largest offensive to come in Operation Bagration of 1944.

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One of Adolph Hitler's grandest mistakes of World War 2 was turning on his former Ally - the Soviet Union - in the 1941 offensive known under the codename of Operation Barbarossa. It was only within time that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin mobilized his army to return the favor by having his generals devise Operation Bagration.


On June 22nd, 1944, the Soviet Army opened up with all its Red might, sending man and machine against the heart of the German war machine along the Eastern Front. No longer would there be running or retreating on the part of the Soviets. They had been beaten far back but their spirit remained intact. The war-producing elements of the Soviet Empire were in high gear and guns, tanks, bullets and bombs were all leaving industrial sectors to make it into the hands of the young Soviet soldiers. The Soviet war machine was producing some 1,000 tanks a month. The T-34 medium tank alone would account for 68% of total Russian tank production and alone top 35,000 examples. Alongside the T-34, the IS-2 heavy tank was also fielded with armor too thick for most of the German anti-tank weapons of the time.


Days prior to the offensive, the Soviet Army relied heavily on Soviet partisan forces operating behind the German rear. Their job was simple - to cause as much disruption along the German logistical lines as possible. This was accomplished through scores of sabotage missions (numbering some 40,000 total incidents) that targeted lines of communications and supplies. By the start of the offensive, their damage upon the German rearguard had been effectively completed.


As was typical of Soviet offensives, the drive began with an amazing an deafening artillery barrage against known German positions. the Red Army was spread out on four major fronts and comprised of fifteen individual armies all bend on the destruction of the German Army Group Center. The volleys were followed by movements of tanks, support vehicles and infantry covered overhead by aircraft from four air armies. In front of them lay over 1 million German soldiers with 1,400 aircraft of various types and some 1,000 tanks under the command of German Field Marshal Ernst Busch. The German Army was made up of German and Finnish forces in the north and German, Hungarian and Romanian forces to the south.


Concentrated firepower and tactical maneuvering placed the Red Army in front. Within weeks, they captured key defensive positions once belonging to the Germans. Vitebsk fell to the Soviets in the north. Several large German forces were completely encircled, cut-off and destroyed or captured including the fabled Panzer corps and their mighty tanks. Ilyushin IL-2 strike aircraft played a decisive role in engaging and obliterating tanks out in the open. Flexible land forces, sometimes moving at night, skillfully managed marshes and rivers to take German forces by surprise. Thousands of Germans fell to their guns or were taken prisoner, their fates for the moment left unknown.


Soviet momentum continued at a lightning pace, leaving small bands of encircled German forces in the wake. The Germans were forced into a flat-out retreat on all fronts, taken wholly by surprise at the speed, tenacity and force of the revived Red Army. As can be expected, little to no mercy was shown on any German captured. Some German fronts did attempt counterattacks but the Red Army proved too much. With more territory gained by the Russians, some 100,000 German soldiers found themselves cutoff from rescue. By the end of June, Army Group Center "...has now ceased to exist" - Chief of General Staff, Colonel General Heinz Guderian.


The strongest portion of the German defense lay with the Army Group North Ukraine. Their position was such that it was situated where the Germans believed any Soviet offensive would take place. Soviet Marshal Koniev relied on an additional two armies to help his forces push these German defenders back. More and more German-held cities ultimately fell into Soviet hands from there, and bridgeheads and defensive perimeters were soon set up to help counter any German attacks.


By the end of it all, the advance covered 450 miles in as little as two months. The offensive winded down by the end of August due to a stretched Soviet supply line. The front of the Soviet forces had captured territory in Lithuania to the north, held the border to East Prussia in the Northwest, covered most of Belorussia in the center, crossed into Poland and reached the outskirts of Warsaw to the West and took some land in the Ukraine.


The end of Operation Bagration yielded impressive results for the Red Army, though at the cost of many Soviet lives - military and civilian. Nevertheless, the Germans were on the defensive and in all-out retreat and the Red Army had kept up the momentum when it was needed most. Additional forces flooded to hold the captured ground while German soldiers were handed over to authorities in the East. Captured foes were subsequently paraded through the streets of Moscow, resulting in the formal celebrations of the removal of enemy forces from "White Russia".


The Soviet advance proved so swift, cold and decisive that 12 million West Germans and East Prussians headed west to avoid the Red Army presence, creating a major refugee situation for the German government.


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There are a total of 31 Operation Bagration Timeline Events. Entries are listed below by date of occurrence.

1945
Monday
April 16th

The Soviet Army begins its Berlin campaign with spectacular display of artillery, exploding targets throughout Berlin and its surrounding areas. The bombardment signals the beginning of the offensive to take the German capital.

1945
Monday
April 20th

Soviet Army groups advance against German defenses at the Oder River.

1945
Monday
April 20th

Adolph Hitler celebrates his final (56th) birthday, seemingly unaware of the fate to befall him and his Germany.

1945
Tuesday
April 21st

General Zhukov and his 1st Belorussian army break into the Berlin suburbs.

1945
Wednesday
April 22nd

Soviet leader Stalin sends his final assault orders to generals Zhukov and Koniev.

1945
Thursday
April 23rd

The Berlin suburbs gradually fall under Soviet control as fighting rages on everywhere.

1945
Friday
April 24th

German General Wenck of the 12th Army launches a futile counter-offensive against the Soviet onslaught.

1945
Friday
April 24th

The British Royal Air Force slow down the 12th Army offensive through intense bombing.

1945
Saturday
April 25th

The 1st Belorussian Front meets up with the st Ukranian Front, formally encircling Berlin.

1945
Saturday
April 25th

All access points west of the German capital are cutt off by Soviet forces.

1945
Saturday
April 25th

Over 2 million Berlin civilians hunker down for the violent fighting ahead.

1945
Saturday
April 25th

Some 30,000 German soldiers ready themselves for the bloody business of the day.

1945
Saturday
April 25th

Elements of the 5th Guards Army reach the Elbe River at Torgau and celebrate with the arriving US 1st Army.

1945
Sunday
April 26th

Twin Soviet offensives break the final defensive fronts of the Germans.

1945
Sunday
April 26th

Soviet forces advance across the Spree River.

1945
Sunday
April 26th

Soviet forces advance towards Unter den Linden.

1945
Monday
April 27th

General Wenck's 12th Army is halted by the Soviet Army.

1945
Monday
April 27th

The Soviet Army remains just 15 miles from the center of Berlin.

1945
Monday
April 27th

German soldiers set up defensive areas across a small 10 mile long front for their ultimate "last stand".

1945
Monday
April 30th

The Soviets capture the Reichstag.

1945
Monday
April 30th

German leader Adolph Hitler weds his mistress, Eva Braun, in his underground bunker under Berlin. After giving a final speech to his remaining supporters, he poisons his dog, then Braun and ultimately takes his own life. In his will, he leaves his authority to Admiral Doenitz.

1945
Monday
April 30th

The bodies of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun are taken to the Chancellery Gardens and incinerated under previous orders from Hitler, this to avoid capture and ultimate humiliation at the hands of the progressing Soviet Army.

1945
Tuesday
May 1st

Soviet artillery opens up once again, this time in a massive barrage against the Chancellery and surrounding areas.

1945
Tuesday
May 1st

German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels murders his wife and six children before taking his own life.

1945
Tuesday
May 1st

General Chuikov makes his way into the center of Berlin.

1945
Tuesday
May 1st

German Generaloberst Hans Krebs approaches Chuikov with the formal German surrender.

1945
Tuesday
May 1st

Berlin formally and unconditionally surrenders to the Soviet legions and Western Allies. General Jodl signs for the defeated Germans and Generals Bedell Smith and Suslaparov for the Allies.

1945
Wednesday
May 2nd

German forces across Berlin begin surrendering.

1945
Wednesday
May 2nd

The Fall of Berlin is complete - Soviet forces occupy all major sections of the German capital.

1945
Wednesday
May 2nd

The war in Europe officially comes to a close.

1945
Tuesday
May 8th

This day is formally announced as "VE Day" and celebrations break out across the world, though fighting in the Pacific against the Japanese Empire is ongoing.