History 01/02/20 “East shaft”: how the Red Army broke through the line of defense of Hitler

Such exotic names as “the Line of Panther” in the materials about the great Patriotic war is not common. And, unfortunately, if you search it online, though Russian, though foreign, the majority of the information that will be able to detect will be false.

“the Eastern wall” or “Line of Panther”?

In most cases, these two names indicated as synonyms, that just causes confusion. The blame for this Soviet and Western historians, but first and foremost, Hitler and Goebbels, who in their speeches themselves are confusing, often using different names is not quite correct.

What is the “Eastern rampart” wrote a lot and even in Soviet time. It was noted that this line of fortifications created by the personal order of Hitler, which was supposed to be impregnable and to stop the advance of the red Army. In Soviet historical works were reported greater efforts to promote construction and a large quantity of different fortifications of the Eastern wall. And then described how the red Army in 1943, immediately overcame that supposedly impregnable “shaft”.

the First plans for creating a rear defence lines on the Eastern front was developed in the General staff of the Wehrmacht in spring 1943. At this time, the Red Army conducted active offensive on all fronts. But Hitler did not approve the proposal of the General staff, on the basis of considerations that the creation of such a line can trigger the retreat of the army. And since all offensive operations of the red army in the spring of 1943 was unsuccessful, the issue seems to be disappeared.

Only after the battle of Kursk, Hitler issued order No. 10, dated 12 August 1943, on the construction of fortified lines on the Eastern front from the Baltic to the Black sea.

To work, there were over 50 000 people on the construction of the arrived eGeneve to 100 trains of building materials. It was built over 6000 of field fortifications, of which more than 800 were concreted (Dots), the other was the tree-earth (Bunkers). Constructed about 180 km of wire entanglements and dug more than 30 km of anti-tank ditches. Was prepared for flooding large areas. Adjacent to the fortified lines of districts was expected to be a “scorched earth”, destroying all infrastructure and evict the population: about 900,000 people. To evict had about 250 000 people, mainly in Latvia and Lithuania.

the above figures are always cited as an indicator of the considerable power of the Eastern wall. But if they are not analyzed. And if you compare with the largest fortifications of the Stalin Line, then, for example, in Korosten Ur it was more than 400 Pillboxes, and defended it strip about 130 km Letichevsky fortified took roughly the same line of defense, and had more than 350 Bunkers.

moreover, these Bunkers of the Eastern wall did not go to any comparison even with relatively simple fortifications of the Stalin Line, not to mention the masterpieces of the fortifications of the “Maginot Line” or the Belgian border fortifications. It should be noted that the choice of position in the first place took into account natural boundaries such as rivers and lakes, which allowed them to organize the defense of combat troops.

the Name “Eastern rampart” was used more propagandistic. In official documents was called “the position of the Panther-Wotan” (Panther-Wotan-Stellung). In the Russian spelling instead of “position” usually write our traditional terminology, the word “line”. Although the term “position” is more accurately determined the essence, as it was more about the position, which should keep than about the fortified lines.

As you might guess from the title, “the Eastern wall” consisted of two parts. Line Wotan (Wotan or Odin — the Supreme God in Norse mythology) took place from the sea of Azov on the river Breast and then along the Dnieper. Line PAntera passed from Idritsa, on the Velikaya river, Pskov and lakes Peipsi and the Narva river. It was planned that they would meet in the common defensive line.

broke through “Panther”

About the Line of Pantera command of the red Army knew even was known plan of the retreat of army group “North” out of Leningrad this turn. For this case, a plan was developed “Neva-1”, which envisaged the prosecution of German troops, in order to give them a foothold on the Line of Pantera. Because Hitler did not agree on the retreat from Leningrad, was introduced plan “Neva-2”. Was subsequently developed by the Leningrad-Novgorod offensive operation. Forces of the Leningrad, Volkhov and 2nd Baltic fronts had planned to defeat the 18th, and then the 16th army of army group “North”, with the subsequent liberation of the Baltic States.

during the operation, troops of the Leningrad front, defeating the Germans on the outskirts of the city, launched an attack on the Luga direction. In the Meadow were advancing troops of the Volkhov front, which liberated Novgorod. The offensive was developing slower than planned. The course of events is well described in articles by Alexander Polishchuk “Shield and sword” against the First Stalin impact” and “Race to the line “the Panther” by Pat McTaggart. The German command managed to hold the Soviet offensive that let to shift reserves to the “Panther Line” and create a new line of defense.

on March 1, Soviet troops reached the line Idritsa-Ostrov-Pskov-Peipsi-Narva, that is on the Line Panthers. Despite the fact that attempts to continue the offensive was undertaken until mid-April, nothing but significant losses, they failed.

In April, troops of the Leningrad front was formed, the 3rd Baltic front. In a part of the front had four arms, drums, and air force, tank corps and artillery division. He was appointed commander Colonel-General I. I. Maslennikov.

the Front started to advance on Pskov and Ostrov on 17 July 1944. The originalcially the Germans managed to stop this attack, but on 21 July was taken Island, 23-th Pskov. 10 August, Soviet troops broke through the German defenses South of lake Peipus and moved on the territory of Estonia to võru, then to Tartu.

the Panthers Line was broken, German troops in Estonia under the threat of encirclement. The story of the Panther-Stellung ended.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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