Di selatan Tentara Merah menyerang ke seberang [[Sungai Donets]] di [[Izyum]] dan mendorong masuk 100-km. Tujuannya adalah menjepit Gugus Pasukan Selatan ke [[Laut Azov]], tetapi ketika musim dingin mulai menyurut, pasukan-pasukan Jerman sanggup melakukan serangan balasan dan memotong pasukan-pasukan Soviet yang terlalu menyebar di [[Pertempuran Kharkov Kedua]].
=== Don, Volga, dan Kaukasus: Musim Panas 1942 ===
[[Image:Eastern_Front_1942-05_to_1942-11.png|thumb|300px|[[Operasi Biru]]: Jerman bergerak maju dari [[7 Mei]] [] hingga [[18 November]] []]]
''Artikel utama: [[Pertempuran Voronezh (1942)|Pertempuran Voronezh]], [[Pertempuran Kaukasus]], [[Pertempuran Stalingrad]]''
Although plans were made to attack Moscow again, on [[28 June]] [], the offensive re-opened in a different direction. Army Group South took the initiative, anchoring the front with the [[Battle of Voronezh (1942)|Battle of Voronezh]] and then following the [[Don River, Russia|Don river]] southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and [[Volga]] first and then drive into the Caucasus towards the oilfields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on [[24 July]] when 1st Panzer Army joined in, and then that group drove south towards [[Maykop|Maikop]]. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of [[Brandenburger commando]]s dressed up as Soviet [[NKVD]] troops to destabilise Maikop's defenses and allow the 1st Panzer Army to enter the oil town with little opposition.
[[Image:wehrmachttroopsinthecaucases.JPG|thumb|200px|right|German troops in the Caucasus]]
Meanwhile, 6th Army was driving towards [[Stalingrad]], for a long period unsupported by 4th Panzer Army who had been diverted to help 1st Panzer Army cross the Don. By the time 4th Panzer Army had rejoined the Stalingrad offensive, Soviet resistance (comprising the 62nd Army under [[Vasily Chuikov]]) had stiffened. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on [[23 August]] but for the next three months the [[Wehrmacht]] would be fighting the [[Battle of Stalingrad]] street-by-street.
Towards the south 1st Panzer Army had reached the Caucasian foothills and the [[Malka river]]. At the end of August Romanian mountain troops joined the Caucasian spearhead, while the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies were redeployed from their successful task of clearing the Azov [[littoral]]. They took up position either side of Stalingrad to free German troops for the proper fighting. Mindful of the continuing antagonism between Axis allies Romania and [[Hungary]] over [[Transylvania]], the Romanian army in the Don bend was separated from the Hungarian 2nd army by the Italian 8th Army. Thus all of Hitler's allies were in it — including a [[Slovakia]]n contingent with 1st Panzer Army and a [[Croatia]]n [[regiment]] attached to 6th Army.
The advance into the Caucasus bogged down, with the Germans unable to fight their way past [[Malgobek]] and to the main prize of [[Grozny]]. Instead they switched the direction of their advance to come at it from the south, crossing the Malka at the end of October and entering North [[Ossetia]]. In the first week of November, on the outskirts of [[Ordzhonikidze]], the 13th Panzer Division's spearhead was snipped off and the Panzer troops had to fall back. The offensive into Russia was over.
===Stalingrad: Winter 1942===
[[Image:Eastern_Front_1942-11_to_1943-03.png|thumb|300px|Operations [[Operation Uranus|Uranus]], [[Operation Saturn|Saturn]] and [[Operation Mars|Mars]]: Soviet advances on the Eastern Front, [[18 November]] [] to March []]]
''Main articles: [[Battle of Stalingrad]], [[Operation Saturn]], [[Second Rzhev-Sychevka offensive]], [[Third Battle of Kharkov]], [[Battle of Velikiye Luki]]''
While the German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army had been fighting their way into Stalingrad, Soviet armies had congregated on either side of the city, specifically into the Don bridgeheads that the Romanians had been unable to reduce, and it was from these that they struck on [[19 November]] []. In [[Operation Uranus]], two Soviet fronts punched through the Romanians and converged at [[Kalach]] on [[23 November]], trapping 300,000 Axis troops behind them. A simultaneous offensive on the Rzhev sector known as [[Operation Mars]] was supposed to advance to Smolensk, but was a failure, with German tactical flair winning the day.
[[Image:Stalingrad.jpg|thumb|300px|German soldiers at [[Battle of Stalingrad|Stalingrad]]]]
The Germans rushed to transfer troops to Russia for a desperate attempt to relieve Stalingrad, but the offensive could not get going till [[12 December]], by which time the 6th Army in Stalingrad was starving and too weak to break out towards it. [[Operation Winter Storm]], with three transferred Panzer divisions, got going briskly from [[Kotelnikovo]] towards the [[Aksai river]] but bogged down 65 km (40 miles) short of its goal. To divert the rescue attempt the Soviets decided to smash the Italians and come down behind the relief attempt if they could, that operation starting on [[16 December]]. What it did accomplish was to destroy many of the aircraft that had been transporting relief supplies to Stalingrad. The fairly limited scope of the Soviet offensive, although still eventually targeted on Rostov, also allowed Hitler time to see sense and pull Army Group A out of the Caucasus and back over the Don.
On [[31 January]] [], the 90,000 survivors of the 300,000-man 6th Army surrendered. By that time the Hungarian contingent had also been wiped out. The Soviets advanced from the Don 500 km (300 miles) to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk (taken [[8 February]] []) and Kharkov (taken [[16 February]] []). In order to save the position in the south, the decision was taken in February to abandon the Rzhev salient, freeing enough German troops to make a successful riposte in eastern Ukraine. [[Manstein]]'s counteroffensive, stiffened by a specially trained SS Panzer Corps equipped with [[Tiger tank]]s, opened on [[20 February]] [], and fought its way from [[Poltava]] [[Third Battle of Kharkov|back into Kharkov]] in the third week of March, upon which the spring thaw intervened. This had left a glaring bulge in the front centred on Kursk.
=== Kursk: Summer 1943 ===
[[Image:Eastern_Front_1943-02_to_1943-08.png|thumb|300px|German advances at [[Third Battle of Kharkov|Kharkov]] and [[Battle of Kursk|Kursk]], [[19 February]] [] to [[1 August]] []]]
''Main article: [[Battle of Kursk]]''
After the failure of the attempt to capture Stalingrad, Hitler had deferred planning authority for the upcoming campaign season to the [[German Army High Command]] and reinstated [[Guderian]] to a prominent role, this time as Inspector of Panzer Troops. Debate among the general staff was polarised, with even Hitler nervous about any attempt to pinch off the Kursk salient. He knew that in the intervening six months the Russian position at Kursk had been reinforced heavily with anti tank guns, [[tank trap]]s, [[landmine]]s, [[barbed wire]], [[trench warfare | trenches]], [[pillbox]]es, [[artillery]] and [[Mortar (cannon)|mortars]]. But if one last great [[blitzkrieg]] offensive could be mounted, just maybe the Soviets would ease off and attention could then be turned to the Allied threat to the Western Front. The advance would be executed from the Orel salient to the north of Kursk and from [[Belgorod]] to the south. Both wings would converge on [[Tim (Russia) | Tim]], and by that means restore the lines of Army Group South to the exact points that it held over the winter of 1941–1942.
Although the Germans knew that the Red Army's massive reserves of manpower had been bled dry in the summer of 1941 and 1942, the Soviets were still re-equipping, simply by drafting the men from the regions recaptured.
Under pressure from his generals, Hitler bit the bullet and agreed to the attack on Kursk, little realising that the [[Abwehr]]'s intelligence on the Soviet position there had been undermined by a concerted [[Stavka]] misinformation and [[counter-intelligence]] campaign mounted by the [[Lucy spy ring]] in [[Switzerland]]. When the Germans began the operation, it was after months of delays waiting for new tanks and equipment, by which time the Soviets had reinforced the Kursk salient with more anti-tank firepower than had ever been assembled in one place before or since.
In the north, the entire 9th Army had been redeployed from the Rzhev salient into the Orel salient and was to advance from Maloarkhangelsk to Kursk. But its forces could not even get past the first objective at [[Olkhovatka]], just 8 km (5 miles) into the advance. The 9th Army blunted its spearhead against the Soviet [[minefield]]s, frustratingly so considering that the high ground there was the only natural barrier between them and flat tank country all the way to Kursk. The direction of advance was then switched to [[Ponyri]], to the west of Olkhovatka, but the 9th Army could not break through here either and went over to the defensive. The Soviets simply soaked up the German punishment and then struck back. On [[12 July]] the Red Army ploughed through the demarcation line between the 211th and 293rd Divisions on the [[Zhizdra river]] and steamed towards [[Karachev]], right behind them and behind Orel.
[[Image:Totenkopf-Kursk-01.jpg|thumb|300px|Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers of the 3rd SS-Panzer-Division "Totenkopf" at the start of the [[Battle of Kursk]]]]
The southern offensive, spearheaded by 4th Panzer Army, made more headway. Advancing on either side of the upper Donets on a narrow corridor, the SS Panzer Corps and the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Divisions battled its way through minefields and over comparatively high ground towards [[Oboyan]]. Stiff resistance caused a change of direction from east to west of the front, but the Tigers and Panthers got 25 km (15 miles) before encountering the reserves of the Soviet 5th Tank Army outside [[Prokhorovka]]. Battle was joined on [[12 July]], with thousands of tanks doing battle. At the end of the day both sides had fought each other to a standstill. The Soviets could absorb the fearful losses of men and equipment that they did, but the Germans could not, and that was what won the day. Also worried by the Allies [[Operation Husky|landing in Sicily]] on [[10 July]], Hitler took fright and withdrew the SS Panzer Corps from the southern face of the Kursk salient, and that was the end of the Germans' final attack in Russia.
The [[Battle of Kursk]] represented a scaled-up version of the battles of [[World War I]] — infantry advancing under [[machine gun]] fire, and tanks advancing on batteries of anti-tank guns. Much of the German equipment was new and untested, with undertrained crews. The new tank hunter units, though sporting a highly effective 88mm [[cannon]], had no hull mounted machine gun to protect against infantry, and were quickly targeted by the Soviet anti tank guns, which were positioned in hemispherical concave bulges, forming semicircles of high velocity crossfire. Moreover, these positions were protected by small two-man [[foxhole]]s armed with [[Naval mine#Limpet mine |limpet]] tank mines, machine gun nests, and mortar fire, ensuring than the Wehrmacht infantry could not effectively defend the tanks. The Kursk offensive was the last on the scale of 1940 and 1941 the Wehrmacht was able to launch, and subsequent offensives would represent only a shadow of previous German offensive might. Following the defeat, Hitler would not trust his generals to the same extent again, and as his own mental condition deteriorated the quality of German strategic decision fell correspondingly.
=== Ukraine: Autumn and Winter 1943 ===
[[Image:Eastern_Front_1943-08_to_1944-12.png|thumb|300px|Soviet advances from [[1 August]] [] to [[31 December]] []]]
The Soviet juggernaut got rolling in earnest with the advance into the Germans' Orel salient. The diversion of Hitler's favourite [[Grossdeutschland Division]] from Belgorod to Karachev could not halt the tide, and a strategic decision was made to abandon Orel (taken by the Red Army on [[5 August]] []) and fall back to the Hagen line in front of [[Bryansk]]. To the south, the Soviets blasted through Army Group South's Belgorod positions and headed for Kharkov once again. Though intense battles of movement throughout late July and into August 1943 saw the [[Tiger I|Tiger]]s blunting Soviet tanks on one axis, they were soon outflanked on another line to the west as the Soviets advanced down the [[Psel]], and Kharkov had to be evacuated for the final time on [[22 August]].
The German forces on the [[Mius]], now constituting the 1st Panzer Army and a reconstituted 6th Army, were by August too weak to sustain a Soviet onslaught on their own front, and when the Soviets hit them they had to fall back all the way through the [[Donbass]] industrial region to the Dnieper, losing the industrial resources and half the farmland that Germany had invaded the Soviet Union to exploit. At this time Hitler agreed to a general withdrawal to the Dnieper line, along which was meant to be the Ostwall, a line of defence similar to the [[Westwall#Reactivation of the Siegfried Line, 1944|Westwall]] of fortifications along the West German frontier. Trouble was, it hadn't been built yet, and by the time Army Group South had evacuated eastern Ukraine and begun withdrawing across the Dnieper during September, the Soviets were hard behind them. Tenaciously, small units paddled their way across the 3-km (2-mile) wide river and established bridgeheads. A second attempt by the Soviets to gain land using parachutists, mounted at [[Kanev]] on [[24 September]], proved as luckless as at Dorogobuzh eighteen months previously, and the paratroopers were soon repelled — but not before still more Red Army troops had used the cover they provided to get themselves over the Dnieper and securely dug in. As September proceeded into October, the Germans found the Dnieper line impossible to hold as the Soviet bridgeheads grew and grew, and important Dnieper towns started to fall, with [[Zaporozhye]] the first to go, followed by [[Dnepropetrovsk]]. In January 1944 ten German divisions trapped near [[Korsun Pocket|Cherkassy]] managed to break out but with terrible losses. Then, in March, 20 German divisions of Generaloberst [[Hans-Valentin Hube]]'s [[1st Panzer Army]] were encircled in what was to be known as [[Hube's Pocket]] near Kamenets-Podolskiy. After two weeks hard fighting, the 1st Panzer managed to escape the pocket, suffering only light to moderate casualties.
Further to the north, Army Group Centre was pushed back from the Hagen line slowly, losing comparatively little territory, but losing Bryansk and more importantly, Smolensk, on [[25 September]]. The town was the keystone of the entire German defensive system, but the 4th and 9th Armies and 3rd Panzer Armies still held their own east of the upper Dnieper. On Army Group North's front, there was barely any fighting at all until January [] when [[Novgorod]] was recaptured; by February the Red Army had reached [[Estonia]].
In the south, they reached the [[Romania|Romanian]] border in March, captured [[Odessa]] in April, and [[Sevastopol]] in May.
===Belarus: Summer 1944===
''Main articles: [[Operation Bagration]], [[Lvov-Sandomir Offensive]],[[Slovak National Uprising]]''
On the central front, a massive Soviet attack, [[Operation Bagration]], starting on [[June 22]] [], led eventually to the destruction of the German [[Army Group Centre]]. The Germans had transferred units to France to meet the [[Battle of Normandy|invasion of Normandy]] two weeks before. Four Soviet army groups totaling over 120 divisions smashed into the thinly-held German line.
The Soviets achieved a ratio of ten to one in tanks and seven to one in aircraft over their enemy. At the points of attack, the numerical and quality advantages of the Soviets were overwhelming. More than 2.5 million Soviet troops went into action against the German Army Group Center, which could boast a strength of less than 800,000 men. The Germans crumbled. The capital of Belarus, [[Minsk]], was taken on [[July 3]], trapping 50,000 Germans. Ten days later the Red Army reached the prewar [[Poland|Polish]] border. The rapid progress cut off and isolated the German units of [[Army Group North]] fighting in [[Courland]]. Bagration was by any measure one of the largest single operations of the war. It cost the Red Army 765,815 dead, missing, wounded and sick, as well as 2,957 tanks and assault guns. The Germans lost approximately 400,000 casualties, a large part of whom were captured.
The neighbouring Lvov-Sandomierz operation was launched on [[17 July]] [], rapidly routing the German forces in the western Ukraine. The Soviet advance in the south continued into [[Romania]] and following a coup against Axis-allied government of Romania on [[August 23]], the Red army occupied [[Bucharest]] on [[August 31]]. In Moscow on [[September 12]], Romania and the Soviet Union signed an [[armistice]] on terms Moscow virtually dictated. The Romanian surrender tore a hole in the southern German Eastern Front causing the loss of the whole of the Balkans.
In [[Poland]], as the Red Army approached [[Warsaw]] in July, the [[Polish Home Army]] launched the [[Warsaw Uprising]]. However, the Soviet Army halted at the [[Vistula River]], unable or unwilling to come to the aid of the Polish resistance. An attempt by the newly-formed communist [[Polish People's Army]] to relieve the city was thrown back in September with heavy losses.
In [[Slovakia]], the [[Slovak National Uprising]] started as an armed struggle between German Wehrmacht forces and rebel Slovak troops in August to October 1944. It was centered at Banská Bystrica.
On 8 September 1944 the Red Army begun an attack on the [[Dukla Pass]] on the Slovak-Polish border. Two months later, the Russians win the battle and enter Slovakia. The toll was high: 85,000 Red Army soldiers, plus several thousand Germans and Slovaks and Czechs.
===Eastern Europe: January–March 1945===
[[Image:Eastern_Front_1945-01_to_1945-05.png|thumb|300px|Soviet advances from [[1 January]] [] to [[7 May]] []]]
''Main article: [[Vistula-Oder Offensive]]''
The Soviet Union finally captured [[Warsaw]] in [[January]] []. Over three days, on a broad front incorporating four army [[Front (Soviet Army)|Front]]s, the Red Army began an offensive across the [[Narew]] River and from Warsaw. The Soviets outnumbered the Germans on average by nine to one in troops, ten to one in artillery, and ten to one in tanks and self-propelled artillery. After four days the Red Army broke out and started moving thirty to forty kilometres a day, taking the [[Baltic]] states, [[Danzig]], [[East Prussia]], [[Poznan]], and drawing up on a line sixty kilometres east of [[Berlin]] along the [[Oder]] River. During the full course of the Vistula-Oder operation (23 days), the Red Army forces sustained 194,000 casualties (dead, missing, wounded and sick) and lost 1,267 tanks and assault guns.
On [[25 January]] [], Hitler renamed three army groups. [[Army Group North]] became [[Army Group Courland]]; Army Group Centre became Army Group North and [[Army Group A]] became Army Group Centre. Army Group North (old Army Group Centre) was driven into an ever smaller pocket around [[Kaliningrad#Third Reich|Königsberg]] in [[East Prussia]].
A counterattack by the newly created [[Army Group Vistula]], under the command of [[Heinrich Himmler]], had failed by [[February 24]], and the Soviets drove on to [[Pomerania]] and cleared the right bank of the Oder River. In the south, three German attempts to relieve the encircled Budapest failed and the city fell on [[February 13]] to the Soviets. Again the Germans counterattacked, [[Hitler]] insisting on the impossible task of regaining the [[Danube]] River. By [[March 16]] the attack had failed and the Red Army counterattacked the same day. On [[March 30]] they entered [[Austria]] and captured [[Vienna]] on [[April 13]].
On [[April 9]], [], [[Königsberg]] finally fell to the Red Army, although the shattered remnants of Army Group North continued to resist on the [[Heiligenbeil]] and [[Danzig]] beachheads until the end of the war in Europe. The East Prussian operation, though often overshadowed by the Vistula-Oder operation and the later battle for Berlin, was in fact one of the largest and costliest operations fought by the Red army through the war. During the period it lasted (13 January - 25 April), it cost the Red Army 584,788 casualties, and 3,525 tanks and assault guns.
By early April, the Stavka freed up General [[Konstantin Rokossovsky]]'s [[2nd Belorussian Front]] (2BF) to move west to the east bank of the [[Oder]] river. During the first two weeks of April the Soviets performed their fastest front redeployment of the war. General [[Georgy Zhukov]] concentrated his [[1st Belorussian Front]] (1BF) which had been deployed along the Oder river from [[Frankfurt an der Oder|Frankfurt]] in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the [[Seelow Heights]]. The 2BF moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German 2nd Army which had been bottled up in a pocket near [[Danzig]] managed to escape across the Oder. To the south General [[Ivan Konev]] shifted the main weight of the [[1st Ukrainian Front]] (1UF) out of [[Upper Silesia]] north-west to the [[Neisse]] River. The three Soviet fronts had altogether 2.5 million men (including 78,556 soldiers of the [[1st Polish Army]]); 6,250 tanks; 7,500 aircraft; 41,600 [[artillery]] pieces and [[Mortar (cannon)|mortars]]; 3,255 [[truck]]-mounted [[Katyusha]]s [[rocket|rockets]], (nicknamed "[[Stalin Organ]]s"); and 95,383 motor vehicles, many manufactured in the USA.
===Berlin: April 1945===
''Main article: [[Battle of Berlin]]''
All that was left for the Soviets to do was to launch an offensive to capture what was to become [[East Germany]]. The Soviet offensive had two objectives. Because of [[Joseph Stalin|Stalin]]'s suspicions about the intentions of the Western Allies to hand over territory occupied by them in the post war Soviet zone of occupation, the offensive was to be on a broad front and was to move as rapidly as possible to the west, to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin. The two were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won quickly unless Berlin was taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and the [[History of nuclear weapons#World War II | German atomic bomb]] programme.
The offensive to capture East Germany and Berlin started on [[April 16]] with an assault on the [[Battle of Berlin#The battle of Oder-Neisse|German front lines on the Oder and Neisse rivers]]. After several days of heavy fighting the Soviet 1BF and 1UF had punched holes through the German front line and were fanning out across East Germany. By the [[April 24]] elements of the 1BF and 1UF had completed the encirclement of Berlin and the [[Battle of Berlin]] entered its final stages. On [[April 25]] the 2BF broke through the German 3rd Panzer Army's line south of [[Stettin]]. They were now free to move west towards the [[British 21st Army Group]] and north towards the Baltic port of [[Stralsund]]. The [[Soviet 58th Guards Division]] of the [[5th Guards Army]] made contact with the [[US 69th Infantry Division]] of the [[U.S. First Army|First Army]] near [[Torgau]], Germany on the [[Elbe]] river.
On [[April 30]], as the Soviet forces fought their way into the centre of Berlin, Adolf Hitler married [[Eva Braun]] and then committed suicide by taking [[cyanide]] and shooting himself. [[Helmuth Weidling]], defence commandant of Berlin, surrendered the city to the Soviets on [[May 2]]. Altogether
, the Berlin operation (16 April - 8 May) cost the Red Army 361,367 casualties (dead, missing, wounded and sick) and and 1,997 tanks and assault guns. German losses in this period of the war remain impossible to determine with any reliability.
At 02:41 on the morning of [[May 7]], [], at the [[SHAEF]] headquarters, German Chief-of-Staff General [[Alfred Jodl]] signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. It included the phrase ''All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on [[8 May]] []''. The next day shortly before midnight, Jodl repeated the signing in Berlin at Zhukov's headquarters. [[The end of World War II in Europe|The war in Europe was over]].
In the Soviet Union the end of war is considered to be [[9 May]], when the surrender took effect [[Moscow]] time. This date is celebrated as national holiday, [[Victory Day]], or День Победы in the [[Russian Federation]] and some other post-Soviet countries.
Some German armies initially refused to surrender and continued to [[Prague Offensive|fight in Czechoslovakia]] until about [[11 May]].
The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were ideologically driven [[totalitarian]] states in which the leader had near-absolute power. The character of the war was thus determined by the leaders and their ideology to a much greater extent than in any other theatre of World War II.
[[Image:Adolf Hitler.jpg|frame|right|150px|[[Adolf Hitler]] led the armed forces of Germany during World War II]]
[[Adolf Hitler]] exercised a tight control over the war, spending much of his time in his command bunkers (most notably at [[Rastenburg]] in [[East Prussia]], at [[Vinnitsa]] in [[Ukraine]], and under the garden of the [[Reich Chancellery]] in [[Berlin]]). At crucial periods in the war he held daily situation conferences, at which he used his remarkable talent for public speaking to overwhelm opposition from his generals and the OKW staff with rhetoric.
He believed himself a military genius, with a grasp of the total war effort that eluded his generals. In August 1941 when [[Walther von Brauchitsch]] (commander-in-chief of the [[Wehrmacht]]) and [[Fedor von Bock]] were appealing for an attack on Moscow, Hitler instead ordered the encirclement and capture of Ukraine, in order to acquire the farmland, industry, and natural resources of that country. Some historians believe that this decision was a missed opportunity to win the war.
In the winter of 1941–1942 Hitler believed that his obstinate refusal to allow the German armies to retreat had saved [[Army Group Centre]] from collapse. He later told [[Erhard Milch]],
:I had to act ruthlessly. I had to send even my closest generals packing, two army generals, for example … I could only tell these gentlemen, "Get yourself back to Germany as rapidly as you can — but leave the army in my charge. And the army is staying at the front."
The success of this [[hedgehog defence]] outside Moscow led Hitler to insist on the holding of territory when it made no military sense, and to sack generals who retreated without orders. Officers with initiative were replaced with yes-men or fanatical Nazis. The disastrous encirclements later in the war — at [[Battle of Stalingrad|Stalingrad]], [[Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket|Korsun]] and many other places — were the direct result of Hitler's orders. Many divisions became cut off in "fortress" cities, or wasted uselessly in secondary theatres, because Hitler would not sanction retreat or abandon voluntarily any of his conquests.
Frustration at Hitler's leadership of the war was one of the factors in the attempted [[coup d'etat]] of [], but after the failure of the [[July 20 Plot]] Hitler considered the army and its officer corps suspect and came to rely on the [[Schutzstaffel]] and Nazi party members to prosecute the war. His many disastrous appointments included that of [[Heinrich Himmler]] to command [[Army Group Vistula]] in the defence of Berlin in 1945 — Himmler suffered a mental breakdown under the stress of the command and was quickly replaced by [[Gotthard Heinrici]].
Hitler's direction of the war was disastrous for the German army, though the skill, loyalty, professionalism and endurance of officers and soldiers enabled him to keep Germany fighting to the end. However, the Allied commanders who read the decrypted German command signals were always happier when Hitler was in charge. F. W. Winterbotham wrote of Hitler's signal to [[Gerd von Rundstedt]] to continue the attack to the west during the [[Battle of the Bulge]]:
:From experience we had learned that when Hitler started refusing to do what the generals recommended, things started to go wrong, and this was to be no exception.
[[Image:Stalin1.jpg|thumb|right|150px|[[Joseph Stalin]] led the Soviet Union during World War II]]
[[Joseph Stalin]] bore the greatest responsibility for the disasters of the first two years of the war.
The [[Great Purge]] of the [[Red Army]] in the [[1930s]] on Stalin's orders had killed or imprisoned the majority of the senior command, including [[Mikhail Tukhachevsky]], the brilliant proponent of armoured [[blitzkrieg]]. Stalin promoted obscurantists like [[Grigory Kulik]], who opposed the mechanization of the army and the production of [[tank]]s. Distrust of the military led to a system of "dual command", in which every high-ranking officer was paired with a [[political commissar]], a member of the [[Communist Party of the Soviet Union]] who ensured that the officer was loyal and implemented Party orders.
Following the Soviet occupation of eastern [[Poland]], the [[Baltic states]] and [[Bessarabia]] in 1939–1940, Stalin insisted that every fold of the new territories should be occupied: this move westward left troops far from their depots in salients that left them vulnerable to encirclement. There was an assumption that the coming war would be fought outside the borders of the Soviet Union and few plans were made for defence. As tension heightened in Spring 1941, Stalin was desperate not to give Hitler any provocation that could be used as an excuse for an attack; this caused him to refuse to allow the military to go onto the alert even as German troops gathered on the borders and German reconnaissance planes overflew installations. This refusal to take the necessary action was instrumental in the destruction of the Soviet air force, lined up on its airfields, in the first days of the war.
Stalin's insistence on repeated counterattacks without preparation led to the loss of almost the whole of the Red Army's tank corps in 1941 — many tanks simply ran out of fuel on their way to the battlefield through faulty planning or ignorance of the location of fuel dumps.
[[Image:Georgy_Zhukov.jpg|thumb|140px|[[Georgy Zhukov]], considered by many as one of the most successful field commanders]]
Unlike Hitler, Stalin was able to learn lessons and improve his conduct of the war. He gradually came to realise the dangers of inadequate preparation and built up a competent command and control organization — the [[Stavka]] — under [[Semyon Timoshenko]], [[Georgy Zhukov]] and [[Kliment Voroshilov]].
At the crisis of the war, in autumn 1942, Stalin made many concessions to the army: unitary command was restored, as were insignia such as shoulderboards — stripped from tsarist officers after the [[Russian Revolution of 1917]]. Elite divisions were given the traditional "Guards" title. But these concessions were combined with ruthless discipline: [[Order No. 227]], issued on [[28 July]] [], threatened commanders who retreated without orders with punishment by [[court-martial]]. Infractions by military and ''[[politruk]]s'' were punished with transferal to [[penal battalion]]s and penal [[company (military unit)|companies]], and the [[NKVD]]'s [[barrage troops]] would shoot soldiers who fled.
As it became clear that the Soviet Union would win the war Stalin ensured that propaganda always mentioned his leadership of the war; the victorious generals were sidelined and never allowed to develop into political rivals. After the war the Red Army was once again purged: many successful officers were demoted to unimportant positions (including [[Georgy Zhukov|Zhukov]], [[Rodion Malinovsky|Malinovsky]] and [[Ivan Koniev|Koniev]]); a few were tortured into confessions of treason and sent to the [[Gulag]]. No-one was allowed to detract from Stalin's [[cult of personality]].
==Occupation and repression==
[[Image:Einsatzgruppen Killing.jpg|right|thumb|200px|A member of ''Einsatzgruppe D'' executes a Jew kneeling before a filled mass grave in Vinnitsa, [[Ukraine]], in 1942.]]
The enormous territorial gains of 1941 presented Germany with vast areas to pacify and administer. Some Soviet citizens, especially in the non-Russian republics, greeted their conquerors as liberators from Stalinist repression. But they were soon to learn that their new masters were every bit as repressive and brutal as the old. Nascent national liberation movements among [[Belarusians]], [[Ukrainians]], [[Cossack]]s, and other were viewed by Hitler with suspicion; some were co-opted into the Axis armies and others brutally suppressed. None of the conquered territories gained any measure of self-rule. Instead, the [[racism|racist]] [[Nazism|Nazi ideologues]] saw the future of the East as one of [[Generalplan Ost|settlement by German colonists]], with the natives killed, expelled, or reduced to slave labour.
Some captured regions, like the Baltic states, were incorporated into Greater Germany; in others Commissariats were established to extract the maximum in loot. In September 1941, [[Erich Koch]] was appointed to the Ukrainian Commissariat. His opening speech was clear about German policy: "I am known as a brutal dog … Our job is to suck from Ukraine all the goods we can get hold of … I am expecting from you the utmost severity towards the native population."
Atrocities against the Jewish population in the conquered areas began almost immediately, with the dispatch of [[Einsatzgruppen]] (task groups) to round up Jews and shoot them. Local [[anti-semite]]s were encouraged to carry out their own [[pogrom]]s. In July 1941 [[Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski]]'s SS unit began to carry out more systematic killings, including the massacre of 30,000 at [[Babi Yar]]. By the end of 1941 there were more than 50,000 troops devoted to rounding up and killing Jews. The gradual industrialization of killing led to adoption of the [[Final Solution]] and the establishment of the [[Operation Reinhard]] extermination camps: the machinery of the [[Holocaust]]. In three years of occupation, between one and two million Soviet Jews were killed. Other ethnic groups were targeted for extermination, including the [[Roma people|Roma]] and [[Sinti]]; see [[Porajmos]].
The massacres of Jews and other ethnic minorities were only a part of the deaths from the Nazi occupation. Many thousands of Soviet civilians were executed, but millions died from starvation as the Germans requisitioned food for their armies and fodder for their draft horses. As they retreated from Ukraine and Belarus in 1943–1944, the German occupiers systematically applied a [[scorched earth]] policy, burning towns and cities, destroying infrastructure, and leaving civilians to starve or die of exposure. Estimates of total civilian dead in the Soviet Union in the war range from seven million ([[Encyclopedia Britannica]]) to seventeen million (Overy).
The Nazi ideology and the maltreatment of the local population and Soviet POWs encouraged partisan fighting behind the front, motivated even anti-communinists or non-Russian nationalists to ally with the Soviets, and greatly delayed the formation of German allied divisions consisting of Soviet POWs (see [[Vlasov army]]). These results and missed opportunities contributed to the defeat of the Wehrmacht.
[[Image:T34 kursk.jpg|thumb|300px|A Soviet [[T-34]] tank towing a damaged armoured vehicle at the [[Battle of Kursk]] in July 1943. The Soviet Union manufactured 40,000 T-34s during the war.]]
The Soviet victory owed a great deal to the ability of her war industry to outperform the German economy, despite the enormous loss of population and land. The Stalinist [[five year plan]]s of the 1930s had resulted in the industrialization of the Urals and central Asia. In 1941, the trains that shipped troops to the front were used to evacuate thousands of factories from Belarus and Ukraine to safe areas far from the front lines.
As the Soviet Union's manpower reserves ran low from 1943 onwards, the great Soviet offensives had to depend more on equipment and less on the expenditure of lives. The increases in production of war materiel were achieved at the expense of civilian living standards — the most thorough application of the principle of [[total war]] — and with the help of [[Lend-Lease]] supplies from the [[United Kingdom]] and the [[United States]].
Germany could not compete with Soviets on quantity of military production (in 1943, the [[Soviet armored fighting vehicle production during World War II|Soviet Union manufactured 24,000 tanks]] to [[German armored fighting vehicle production during World War II|Germany's 13,000]]). At the same time, German industry produced a number of advanced designs such as the [[Tiger I|Tiger tank]], and the anti-tank [[panzerfaust]].
== Korban ==
The Eastern Front was unparalleled for its high intensity, ferocity, and brutality. The fighting involved millions of German and Soviet troops along a broad front. It was by far the deadliest single front in World War II, with over 3 million German battle deaths, Soviet battle deaths that range from 7 milllion to 11 million, and civilian death that ranged from 7 million to as much as 20 million. The genocidal death toll was attributed to several factors, including brutal mistreatment of POW's and captured partisans by both sides, multiple atrocities by the Germans against the civilian population, and the wholesale use of weaponry on the battlefield. The multiple battles, and most of all, the use of [[scorched earth]] tactics employed first by the Soviets and afterwards by Germans destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food.
== Lihat pula ==