"2 February 1943: Wehrmacht Defeat on the Eastern Front: The Battle of Stalingrad Ends" by Scott Lyons

The Battle of Stalingrad, fought between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union from August 1942 to February 1943, was a turning point for the war in the Eastern Front. The battle was marked by intense urban warfare and direct assaults on civilians in air raids. It was the bloodiest battle of the Second World War, with both sides suffering enormous casualties. Devastated by the Nazi invasion, the Soviet Union was determined to defend Stalingrad, a strategically important industrial and transport hub on the Volga River. Not only was control of Stalingrad vital for access to the oil fields of the Caucasus but also for control of the entire Volga. The Germans launched an offensive on 4 August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intense air raids by the Luftwaffe, which reduced much of the city to rubble. The battle degenerated into house-to-house fighting as both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November, the Germans had…

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"27 January 1944: 872 Days of Desperation and Starvation End: The Siege of Leningrad Ends" by Scott Lyons

The Siege and Battle for Leningrad during the Second World War were events of enormous significance, yet they are often overlooked in the history of the conflict. This was a microcosm of the War on the Eastern Front, an epic clash that had far-reaching implications for both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In September 1941, Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, with the primary objective of capturing Leningrad, which was situated in the north. Hitler's strategy was to clear his Baltic flank and link up with Finnish troops, downplaying the importance of Moscow despite the objections of his army commanders. Army Group North's goal was to encircle, blockade, starve and ultimately destroy and level the city. For the Soviet Union, the Battle for Leningrad was as much a victory for the Soviet People as it was for the Red Army. However, the reality of the situation was that the German Army's siege of Leningrad was not militarily decisive towards the war's outcome. However, the…

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"7 November 1917: Lenin's Red Army versus Kolchak's White Army: The Russian Civil War Begins" by Scott Lyons

The Russian Civil War of 1917 marked the beginning of a new era in Russian history. The overthrow of the social-democratic Provisional Government in the October Revolution led to a multi-party conflict, with different factions fighting for control over Russia's political future. The conflict gave rise to the formation of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which later transformed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, spanning most of its territory. This was a tumultuous three-year period, spanning from 1918 to 1921, marked by the emergence of opposition against the Bolsheviks after November 1917. This opposition took the form of a myriad of groups, including monarchists, militarists, and foreign nations, collectively known as the Whites, opposing the Bolsheviks, known as the Reds. The outbreak of the war was fomented by the Bolshevik's call for peace at any cost, which was illustrated by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk when the Germans imposed severe terms. By the…

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"30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940: A Failed Cold-Weather Gamble: The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union" by Scott Lyons

Top right: A Soviet T-26 model 1937 advancing on the eastern side of Kollaa River. This photograph is in the public domain in Finland, because either a period of 50 years has elapsed from the year of creation or the photograph was first published before 1966. The section 49a of the Finnish Copyright Act (404/1961, amended 607/2015) specifies that photographs not considered to be "works of art" become public domain 50 years after they were created.Source: Wikipedia. In the Public Domain. Click to enlarge. The Winter War of 1939 between Finland and the Soviet Union was a significant early event in the history of World War II and raised many questions for both combatants. It started when the Soviet Union invaded Finland on 30 November 1939, just three months after the outbreak of the war. The Soviet Union was seeking to expand its borders and establish a buffer zone for the city of Leningrad, which was under threat from the Finnish border. Despite the immense strength of the Soviet army…

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"30 September 1941: The Largest Battle Between Two Armies of All Time Begins: The Battle of Moscow" by Scott Lyons

BACKGROUND The discourse amongst historians has revolved around identifying the turning points of World War II, spanning from 1941-42 to the spring of 1943. Winston Churchill considered the Battle of Kursk in 1943 following Stalingrad as the decisive moment. Richard Overy, on the other hand, believes that the years between 1942 and 1944 had several turning points, and specifically, 1943 and the Battle of Stalingrad. In his subsequent work, Overy acknowledges the significance of the Battle of Kursk that took place in July 1943 as the turning point of the War. Alternatively, Klaus Reinhardt argues that it was the Siege of Moscow that led to the ultimate failure and collapse of the Wehrmacht. Notably, regardless of one's stance in this debate, the Battle for Moscow holds tremendous importance in World War II's historic narrative, given its epic scale and impact. (Stahel 2009, 24-25) The German invasion of Russia, known as Operation Barbarossa, began in June 1941. The Germans entered…

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"5 July 1943: The Battle of Kursk - History's Largest Tank Battle" by Scott Lyons

The Battle of Kursk, fought from 5 July to 23 August 1943, marked a pivotal turning point on the Eastern Front during World War II. It remains one of the largest battles in military history, especially notable for its massive scale, the huge numbers of men and armored vehicles involved, and its outcome which permanently shifted the strategic initiative to the Red Army. The battle marked the first time that the Germans had been defeated in a major offensive operation. The German offensive, codenamed Operation Citadel, aimed to encircle and destroy the Soviet forces in the Kursk salient - a large bulge in the front line around the city of Kursk, roughly 500 kilometers south of Moscow. Leading the German assault were some of their most skilled commanders and elite units. Army Group South, commanded by Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, included the II SS Panzer Corps led by Paul Hausser. Hausser's corps was made up of three Waffen-SS divisions – the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division…

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"17 July 1942: The Battle of Stalingrad: Turning point for the War in Europe" by Scott Lyons

ABOVE: “Soviet soldiers attack”. Soviet soldiers on the attack, Stalingrad. Source: Wikipedia. Attribution: Russian International News Agency (RIA) Novosti archive, image #44732 / Zelma / CC-BY-SA 3.0. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in World War II, pitting the armies of Nazi Germany and its allies against the Soviet Union. It has become one of the most studied and remembered battles in history due to its significance in deciding the war in Europe. It began on 17 July 1942 and lasted until 2 February 1943 and caused an estimated 1.8 million casualties on both sides. 80% of all German casualties during World War II occurred on the Eastern Front, marking Soviet victory on the Eastern Front pivotal in defeating Nazi Germany in Europe. To put the Soviet contribution towards allied victory in modern perspective, historian and author Iain MacGregor writes in The Lighthouse of Stalingrad: The Hidden Truth at the Heart of the Greatest Battle of World War II, that: "Across the…

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"22 June 1941: An Invasion Begins: The Catastrophic Miscalculation of Operation Barbarossa" by Scott Lyons

Operation Barbarossa stands as one of the most monumental military endeavors and a seminal turning point in the history of World War II. Launched on June 22, 1941, this invasion by Nazi Germany into the heartland of the Soviet Union, was not only the largest land offensive in human history, involving around 10 million combatants, but also a catastrophic error in strategic judgment by Adolf Hitler. Spearheaded by German forces and supported by Axis allies, the operation, named after the medieval Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, sought to decimate communism and forcibly seize territory for German repopulation. In its wake, Operation Barbarossa hoped to commandeer economic resources, including the oil reserves of the Caucasus, and the fertile grounds of Ukraine and Byelorussia. Despite the initial timetable setting mid-May as the commencement for the invasion, the operation's onset was significantly delayed due to Germany’s engagement in the Balkans, particularly the invasion of…

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13 March 1940: The Moscow Peace Treaty ends the Winter War

Above: A Finnish Maxim M/32-33 machine gun nest 100 metres from Soviet forces during the Winter War, located approximately 5 kilometres north of Lemetti (area of the modern Pitkyarantsky District, Russia). Source: Public Domain. Above: 1 January 1940: Soviet T-26 Model 1937 advancing aggressively on the eastern side of Kollaa River during the battle of Kollaa. Source: Public Domain. Click to expand. The Winter War. A conflict started by the Soviet Union with its invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939. The battle lasted a little more than 90 days but resulted in the deaths of more than 25,000 Finns and 150,000 Soviet Red Army fighters--ground, armor and air for both sides. So where does this early battle of World War II fit today as we look back at this key history? There are three points to consider. The Winter War ended with the Moscow Peace Treaty signed on 13 March 1940. As a result of the Treaty, the Soviet Union was given approximately 9% of eastern areas of Finland. The League…

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7 January 1942: The pivotal Eastern Front Battle of Moscow ends

Soviet Red Army troops during the Battle of Moscow. Photograph licensed to War History Network. Click to enlarge. Left: KUBINKA, MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA. 17 May 2021: Damaged Nazi Panzer IV tank in the military-historical reconstruction zone "Field of Victory" at the Patriot Park. Photograph licensed to War History Network. Click to enlarge. The drive towards the Soviet capital and Battle of Moscow was an enormous undertaking by Hitler in his central campaign against the Soviet Union. In an offensive that was meant for quick German victory before winter set in, the campaign and Soviet victory lasted from 2 October 1941 to 7 January 1942. Weather, stretched supply lines, lack of winter clothing, and attrition took an enormous toll on both sides but more so for the German invaders. Temperatures were reported by both sides to have reached as low as minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit. Towards late October, it was announced to the citizens of Moscow that Stalin had stayed in the city, to defend…

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Eastern Front battles

1941

  • Operation Barbarossa
  • Battle of the Baltic
  • Battle of Bialystok-Minsk
  • Battle of Brody
  • Battle of Smolensk
  • Battle of Uman
  • Battle of Kiev
  • Siege of Leningrad begins
  • Battle of Roslavl
  • Operation Typhoon
  • Battle of Rostov
  • Battle of Vyazma-Bryansk
  • Battle of Vyazma
  • Battle of Bryansk
  • Battle of Moscow
  • First Battle of Kharkov
  • Siege of Sevastopol


1942

  • Demyansk Pocket
  • Second Battle of Kharkov
  • Battle of Voronezh
  • Operation Blue
  • First Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive
  • Battle of the Caucasus
  • Battle of Stalingrad
  • Operation Uranus launched
  • Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive
  • Operation Winter Storm
  • Operation Saturn


1943

  • March Rzhev-Vyazma Offensive
  • Third Battle of Kharkov
  • Battle of Kursk
  • Battle of the Mius
  • Battle of Belgorod
  • Fourth Battle of Kharkov
  • Battle of Smolensk
  • September–November: Battle of the Dnieper
  • October Battle of Lenino
  • November Battle of Kiev
  • Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive


1944

  • January–Korsun Pocket
  • Siege of Leningrad ended
  • Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive
  • Battle of the Crimea
  • February–July: Battle of Narva
  • June–August: Operation Bagration
  • July–August: Lvov-Sandomir Offensive
  • July–Soviet Narva Operation
  • Battle of Tannenberg Line
  • Operation Iassy-Kishinev
  • August–September: Warsaw Uprising
  • Slovak National Uprising
  • Battle of the Baltic
  • Battle of Debrecen
  • Gumbinnen Operation
  • Battle of Belgrade
  • Battle of Budapest


1945

  • Vistula-Oder Offensive
  • Second East Prussian Offensive
  • Lower Silesian offensive
  • Siege of Breslau
  • Lake Balaton Offensive
  • Upper Silesian offensive
  • Vienna Offensive
  • Battle of the Seelow Heights
  • Battle of Berlin
  • Battle of Halbe