History 20/01/20 the Assault on East Prussia: why red Army had such big losses
the Victory over Germany in the great Patriotic war is most associated with the storming of Berlin. However, as we all know, with the capture of the German capital, the fighting has not stopped and the official date of the Victory — may 9, accounted for the capture of Prague. Until the 9th of may, the fighting continued in East Prussia, where he was defeated army group “Center”.
Victory is highly significant politically. If in the Berlin operation fallen capital of the Third Reich, East Prussia in the Soviet Union called the stronghold of Prussian militarism.
the Price of victory over the stronghold of Prussian militarism
According to the reference book “Russia and USSR in wars of XX century: losses of the armed forces” edited by G. F. Krivosheev, during the East Prussian offensive operation the red Army lost 126 464 people dead and missing and 458 314 people made sanitary losses. Over half a million people dropped out of the system. In an average day troops lost 5 677 people, which corresponds to the number of infantry division. And the operation lasted over one hundred days, and every day the red army took the smaller division.
Troops lost 3 525 tanks and self-propelled artillery, as tanks by the beginning of the Second World war was in France.
According to Soviet sources, the losses of the Wehrmacht amounted to 105 538 people were killed, 381 777 were wounded and more than 220 000 were taken prisoner. Although these figures are contested by historians, but in any case, the loss is huge. That is understandable, because in the operation of the group of armies “the Center” is not just defeated, it was completely destroyed.
as for the discrepancy of the data about the German losses, it is quite easy to explain. In addition to the Wehrmacht, East Prussia was defended by part of the Volkssturm, on the defensive works were involved a large number of gthe civil population. All they could add to the list of killed and captured.
In any case, to assess the level of losses is impossible, without a common understanding of the scale and the progress of the operation.
the Operation of large numbers
the East Prussian operation is one of the longest in World war II. It lasted 103 days, from 13 January to 25 April 1945. But the historian G. V. Kretinin, in his work “the question of the periodization of the battle for East Prussia in 1944-1945 G.” notes that fighting on the spit Frische Nehrung ended only on may 9, so we can assume that the operation lasted longer than officially assumed.
According to the official website of the Ministry of defense, the operation involved about 1 670 thousand persons, 25 426 tools and mortars, 859 3 tanks, 3 097 aircraft. Tanks and planes was more than used the Wehrmacht for the attack on the USSR in June 1941. And it is at the beginning of the operation. In the course of the fighting, in addition to reinforcement, was introduced by 19 infantry divisions.
At the site of the 3rd Belorussian front by the beginning of the offensive was formed a powerful artillery group, thereby creating a density of 160-220 guns and mortars per kilometer of front. Moreover, it involved the significant number of large artillery and special power.
two hours of artillery preparation was fired half of all artillery ammunition front, which is more than thousands of cars shells.
Marshal A. M. Vasilevsky writes: “the East Prussian operation in the consumption of ammunition had no equal among all operations in the history of warfare. Two front received 13.3 million shells and mines, 620 million cartridges, 2.2 million hand grenades”.
the army of the 3rd Belorussian front was supported by the 1st air army, which had 12 divisions and 5 independent regiments. But also was involved in aviation of the 1st Baltic front (3rd air army), and 18th army long-range Aircraft.
In the PERWY the day of the storming of Koenigsberg was discharged 1 615 tons of bombs, of which 560 tons dumped 516 long-range bombers. Of course, this is nothing compared to raids of the American “Flying fortresses”, but for the Eastern front — a lot.
all in All, to support the troops, storming of Koenigsberg was allocated the 1st, 3rd and 18th air army, aviation of the Baltic fleet, and even two bomber corps of the 4th and 15th air armies. 830 fighters, attack aircraft and 470 124 1 bomber.
equally impressive were the forces of the 2nd Belorussian front. In one of the areas of breakout were created density 468 guns and mortars per square kilometer, is the biggest of the war.
4-th air army of front aviation had 14 divisions and 4 separate shelf, just over 1 500 aircraft.
the Reasons for this concentration of effort and resources easy to understand. Had to overcome a well-prepared defense that was occupied by the troops, though not so numerous, but well-motivated — for many German soldiers East Prussia was the homeland.
had to literally gnaw through the defense
Some researchers blame the commander of the 3rd Belorussian front, army General I. D. Chernyakhovsky, that he without any “frills” breaks through the German defenses in the forehead.
But he didn’t have so many options. Almost all of East Prussia was turned into a defensive area, in any direction, Soviet troops waited prepared lines of defence to a depth of 10-15 km of several fortified lines. In the General system of defense consisted of half a dozen medieval fortresses, against the strong walls which were powerless the most modern guns. The area also is not conducive to maneuver. The presence of the Masurian lakes complicated movement of troops, in 1914, prevented the Russian troops to advance in the same place.
overall, the troops of the 3rd Belorussian front had to overcome 150-200 km of the enemy’s defense.
of Course, the Wehrmacht wasI on its last legs, all the reserves have been spent. 54 infantry divisions of the 3rd Belorussian front in a strip 170 km, the Germans had 15 battered divisions. On the direction of the main shock front, the ratio was even more in our favor. Although Soviet intelligence reported that the Germans hold the front of 24 divisions (including 7 armored) and 6 brigades of assault guns, for a maximum of 1000 900 tanks and assault guns, real tanks and self-propelled guns were 367. 20-kilometer stretch was defended by four infantry divisions, reinforced in every way possible, and the second echelon was Panzer division with fifty serviceable tanks. In this area the General Chernyakhovsky thrown to break three of the army: 28 infantry divisions, 3 armored and 3 engineering assault brigade, 11th independent tank and self-propelled artillery regiments.
However, no matter how impressive does not look advantage, the troops were set very modest goals in the offensive, about 15 km per day. Worked at best pass 2-4 km per day. And even that could be hard. Troops is really a “clawed” the German defenses, grinding positions with artillery, storming in the forehead by infantry and tanks.
And because so great were the losses. But the scale of the operation was huge, and the price offensive was a complete Victory.
© Russian Seven
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