Operation Bagration - WW2 Timeline (June 22nd - August 19th, 1944)

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

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.

There are a total of (28) Operation Bagration - WW2 Timeline (June 22nd - August 19th, 1944) events in the SecondWorldWarHistory.com database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.

Day-by-Day Timeline of Events

Monday, May 1st - May 31st, 1944

Plans begin for a major Soviet offensive against the German Army in the East.

Saturday, May 20th, 1944

The Soviet offensive is detailed under the codename of "Operation Bagration".

Saturday, May 20th, 1944

The launch date for Operation Bagration is set for June 22nd.

Monday, June 19th, 1944

Soviet partisan groups spring into action along the German rear guard and wreak havoc for days. Targets include supply and communication lines. Tens of thousands of explosive acts of sabotage are noted.

Thursday, June 22nd, 1944

Operation Bagration is put into action with General Zhukov in command.

Thursday, June 22nd, 1944

Totaling over 1.2 million troops, the 1st Baltic Front - along with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Belorussian Fronts - are put into action along four fronts. Vitebsk is quickly taken and controlled. The 3rd Panzer Army suffers heavy losses.

Friday, June 23rd, 1944

By this date, the partisan actions along the German rear dwindle in preparation for the upcoming offensive.

Friday, June 23rd, 1944

The 1st and 3rd Belorussian Fronts advanced to northeast of Minsk, surrounding the German 4th Army.

Monday, June 26th, 1944

With the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts closing, Hitler okays the order for the 9th Army to retreat to more favorable ground.

Wednesday, June 28th, 1944

Hitler replaces Field Marshal Busch with General Model to help stem his losses.

Thursday, June 29th, 1944

The Soviets take Bobruysk.

Thursday, June 29th, 1944

The 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts close in and around the city of Minsk, attempting to join forces of the 3rd Belorussian Front.

Friday, June 30th, 1944

By this date, the German Army has recorded some 200,000 casualties from the aggressive Soviet offensive.

Tuesday, July 4th, 1944

Minsk falls to the Soviet offensive.

Tuesday, July 4th, 1944

By this date, the 160,000-strong German 4th Army alone reports losses of 130,000 troops.

Tuesday, July 4th, 1944

German losses total 400,000 personnel.

Wednesday, July 5th, 1944

Encircled, remnants of the German 4th Army are captured or killed trying to flee.

Tuesday, July 11th, 1944

The German 9th Army is obliterated under the might of the Red Army.

Thursday, July 13th, 1944

Vilnius, Lithuania is captured by Soviet ground troops.

Thursday, July 13th, 1944

A new Soviet land offensive is launched with elements of the Soviet 1st and 4th Ukranian Fronts. Their target is Germany Army Group North in the Ukraine on their way to southern Poland.

Monday, July 17th, 1944

White Russia is cleansed of all German invaders, leading celebrations in the Soviet capital of Moscow.

Monday, July 17th, 1944

Some 57,000 German captives are paraded through the streets of Moscow.

Monday, July 17th, 1944

German Army Group Center is completely annihilated from the German ranks.

Thursday, July 27th, 1944

Lvov is clamed by the Ukranian Fronts.

Friday, July 28th, 1944

Soviet forces lay claim to Brest-Litovsk.

Tuesday, August 1st, 1944

The move westward continues.

Tuesday, August 15th, 1944

Stretched and strained supply lines bring the Soviet war machine to a halt.

Wednesday, August 30th, 1944

The massive Soviet offensive ends with much of the German-held territories now in Russian hands. The Soviet Army has made it as far as the outskirts of Warsaw in Poland with a front running from Lithuania in the north, through Belorussia in the center and Poland/Ukraine in the south.

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