Liberation, Soviet Style, 1944-45

John Erickson assesses the massive Soviet assault into Germany in the final year of the war and the price of liberation.

Towards the end of June 1944, with Anglo-American armies firmly emplaced on the mainland of Europe after their successful cross-channel assault and with the Red Army pouring a veritable hurricane of fire in a devastating surprise attack on the German Army Group Centre in Belorussia, Hitler's neatly worked strategic design was coming dangerously adrift. As the longest day gave way memorably to the longest month, Anglo-American troops were not dislodged from the Normandy beachhead, the German Army was forced on to the defensive as the great cleaving counter-stroke never materialised, while on the Russian front what had been forecast as a relatively untroubled summer for Army Group Centre, still holding one last great slab of Soviet territory turned into a nightmare of death and destruction, engulfed one German division after another. To east and west Europe was well and truly aflame.

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