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Soviet Offensive - the Battle for Russia Timeline

Hitler makes the ultimately disastrous tactical decision to invade the Soviet Union.

Authored By Staff Writer

"You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down."


Those words were Hitler's opinion of tackling the Soviet nation in war. Where at one time, these two nations signed a non-aggression pact to not go to war with one another and divided and conquered the spoils that was Poland, Hitler went on to make perhaps his greatest ego-induced tactical blunder of the war (and there were many).


Early progress was good for the Russians really did not know what had hit them. Germany pushed up to Smolensk but the questionable order to relocate this unstoppable army's resources to battle Soviet elements near Kiev bypassed a critical chance for the Germans to march on Moscow. The move allowed for Soviet forces to regroup in other parts of the country and for the Red War Machine to get in gear.


A massive Soviet offensive in the winter of 1941 would force the Germans to retreat along many parts of the front. The only thing that would stop the Russians, it seems, would be their fatigue of having been fighting for weeks on end. Supply issues would also begin to take their toll on the Red Army. By the end of April 1942, over 1 million German soldiers would be killed in action during Hitler's brazen invasion codenamed "Operation Barbarossa".

Total Soviet Offensive Events: 11

1941
Friday
December 5th

The Soviets launch a full-scale counter-attack along a 500-mile front encompassing 19 Russian armies against Field Marshal von Bock's German Army Group Centre near Moscow.

1941
Saturday
December 6th

No fewer than 17 German motorized divisions retreat from the Soviet advance.

1941
Saturday
December 6th

The Soviet 31st Army cuts 12 miles into the German lines.

1941
Tuesday
December 9th - December 13th

General Guderian's Panzergruppe 2 is cut off from General Kluge's 4th Army.

1941
Tuesday
December 16th

Amid the mounting pressures and expectations of his superiors back in Germany, Field Marshal von Bock requests reassignment away from Army Group Centre.

1941
Wednesday
December 17th

Field Marshal von Kluge is tapped to replace Field Marshal von Bock as leader of Army Group Centre.

1942
Wednesday
January 7th

With progress over the Germans being made on several fronts, Soviet forces launch another offensive to try and encircle Army Group Centre.

1942
Sunday
January 25th

The Soviet movement begins losing steam after consecutive weeks of fighting. Man and machine are beginning to show their limitations.

1942
Thursday
April 30th

Spring over Russia brings about seasonal rains turning once solid and dependable ground into a muddy nightmare for both armies. As such, offensives are limited or stalled altogether.

1942
Thursday
April 30th

German Army forces partially regroup and recover from the constant barrage of Soviet offensives.

1942
Thursday
April 30th

By this time, over 1 million German soldiers have been killed in action since the start of Operation Barbarossa.
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