History 31/12/19 Operation “Bagration”: why the Red Army suffered such heavy losses

the Belarusian offensive operation in 1944 under the code name “Bagration”, without a doubt one of the most famous battles of the great Patriotic war.

In scope is not only one of the largest battles in the history of mankind, but one of the most successful operations of the red Army in the Second World war. Soviet historians had nothing to hide in the operation “Bagration”, as he was resolved not only all the missions assigned to the troops of task, but the results even exceeded expectations. This becomes especially clear if we compare the offensive in Belorussia with action on other fronts. First in Ukraine, where, though attacked, but the German troops pulled out of the boilers, and again reduced the defense.

Not too great a price for victory?

the Only point to which I draw attention at any cost willing to criticize the successes of the red Army is the very high losses in the Belarusian offensive. From 23rd June to 29th August 1944, four front and the Dnieper flotilla, lost 178 of 507 people were killed. This was 7.6% of the fighting strength of the troops involved in the operation at the initial stage. Sanitary losses totaled 587 308 people, that is a total Soviet troops lost 765 815 people, over the 68 days of the offensive. Also in the 1st Polish army, were killed and 1533 wounded 3540.

of Course, the numbers are huge and can be compared only with the major defeats of 1941. For example, with the beginning of the German offensive near Moscow, when in the “pot” was lost about a million people.

But at least a major Berlin operation cost the red Army in 352 475 people, of which killed and 78 291 people.

However, the figures are worth nothing if they are not to compare with any other, not to estimate the loss ratio with the achieved results, the scale of the operation and, most importantly, the losses of the enemy.

For the operation “Bagration”, make it extremely not easy.

Why is it so difficult to count and match?

the Most difficult to fully assess the Belarusian offensive operation is its huge scale.

the Operation as a whole is divided into two stages, each of which includes five offensive operations of front scale. And all these component parts are themselves quite large, they involve a lot of effort and funds.

in addition, more than two months of fighting with the one on the other hand they introduced new forces. Simultaneously, the whole connection dropped out: or were routed, having suffered too big losses, were sent to the rear.

So, if in most battles, it is sufficient to give the composition of troops of both sides to start fighting, then the operation “Bagration” this will be enough.

for Example, the Soviet command during the offensive, were introduced management of the two armies, Panzer corps and 24th infantry divisions. But, according to the Handbook “the Combat composition of Soviet Army” in 1944, if on the 1st of July 1944, consisting of four fronts were 172 infantry division, on 1 August divisions was 166, and on the 1st of September, they already had 169. That is, the total number of connections did not change significantly.

the command of the Wehrmacht also threw additional power, derived from connection with the front filled up and again threw them into battle. For example, the 5th Panzer division, which had by the beginning of the Soviet offensive 59 Pz.Kpfw.IV additionally received a battalion of tanks “Panther” (76 units), and 21 of the latest tank fighter Jagdpanzer IV/48.

the Difficulty is that if the Soviet losses are the official data, the losses of the Wehrmacht is unknown.

According to the documents of the group of armies “Centre” it turns out that the total losses for the period of the Soviet offensive amounted to 399 102 people. Of which dead — 26 397 wounded — 109 776 missing — 262 929 people.

the Majority of historians, both Russian and Western believe that these figures are not complete. First, do not take into account the loss of the army groups “North” and “Northern Ukraine”. Secondly, taken into account only part of the battle, and on the territory of Belarus there were various logistical, support, collaborators, and other structures which the group of armies “Center” was not and combat forces are not represented. But the red Army, they were destroyed and they were taken prisoner. It is quite reasonable that the red army has taken them into account and they are in Wehrmacht casualty reports did not fall.

of Course, the Soviet information Bureau, which said about 381 000 killed and 158 of the 480 prisoners, 2735 destroyed tanks and assault guns, and 631 of the plane are greatly exaggerated. Most historians evaluates the casualties of the German troops in the 400-450 thousand people.

Correlation of forces

to assess the scale of the operation, it is necessary to know what forces were involved on both sides.

In the operation “Bagration” involved the troops of four fronts: the 1st Baltic and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Belorussian. Commanded, respectively, General of the army Bagramyan, General of the army K. K. Rokossovsky, Colonel General F. D. Zakharov and Colonel-General Ivan Chernyakhovsky. Coordinated fronts marshals Vasilevsky and Zhukov.

By the beginning of the operation was 17 combined arms, 1 tank and 5 air armies. Only 172 infantry and 12 cavalry divisions, 10 armored and 2 mechanized corps, 18 tank, mechanized and self-propelled artillery brigades, 74 separate tank and self-propelled artillery regiment. The operation was attended by over 2.5 million people in combat units (including 80,000 in the 1st Polish army), over 33 000 guns and mortars, with a calibre greater than 76 mm (without anti-aircraft), over 8,500 tanks, more than 7,500 combat aircraft.

Four Soviet fronts were opposed by four German army: 2nd, 4th and 9th field and the 3rd Panzer. Their composition was 38 and Aviapolis infantry, 3 armored and 3 motorized division, 2 body groups (approximately equal division of infantry), 1 cavalry brigade, 4 brigades of the assault guns and 1 tank battalion “Tigers”. There were also 6 security and 5 Hungarian divisions that were used to fight the guerrillas. Only combat units were 486 493 people, 9,500 guns and mortars, with a calibre greater than 75mm, 239 tanks (including 37 “Tigers”) and 432 assault guns (data from Handbook K. Shishkin, “the German Armed forces 1939-1945).

In the 6th air fleet supporting army group “Center” to the beginning of the Soviet offensive was 32 fighter ground attack and 106 of 312 bombers.

With all these data, we see what enormous forces were involved on the territory of Belarus. No wonder that in such a large battle and the losses of the red Army expressed a very high figure. But in percentage terms, these losses are not allocated among the other offensive operations and are not very high.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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