Poland's Daughter


Stalin's General (continued)

Leading the assault across a 1,000-mile front were 152 German divisions, supported by 14 Finnish divisions in the north and 14 Romanian divisions in the south. Later, the 3.5-million-strong invasion force would be joined by armies from Hungary and Italy, by the Spanish Blue Division, by contingents from Croatia and Slovakia, and by volunteer units recruited from every country in Nazi-occupied Europe. (loc 1925)

the Germans planned a Vernichtungskrieg in Russia-a war of destruction, of extermination. Not only the Red Army but also the entire Soviet communist regime was to be destroyed. According to the Nazis' anti-Semitic ideology the Soviet Union was a Judeo-Bolshevik state-a communist regime under Jewish control and influence. Nazi racist ideology also defined the Slavic peoples of Russia as an inferior race of Untermenschen or subhumans. Unlike the Jews the Slavs were not slated by the Nazis for extermination or expulsion, but they were destined for servitude and slavery. (loc 1942)

the Southwestern Front's attempted counteroffensive floundered, although the counterattack did delay the German advance into Ukraine for a short time. This was not surprising given that the German attack on Ukraine was relatively light and the Southwestern Front was the strongest on the USSR's western borders (loc 1985)

the third directive, which required [Z] to send his second-echelon forces deep into the Bialystok salient that jutted into central Poland. This exposed his forces to a massive German double-encirclement maneuver that closed its pincers just east of Minsk-an operation that trapped thirty Red Army divisions and resulted in the capture of 400,000 prisoners. (loc 1992)

September 17 Stavka finally authorized a withdrawal from Kiev to the eastern bank of the Dnepr. But it was too little too late; the pincers of the German encirclement east of Kiev had already closed. Four Soviet armies, forty-three divisions in all, were encircled. (loc 2113)

The Southwestern Front suffered some 750,000 casualties including more than 600,000 killed, captured, or missing during the battle of Kiev. (loc 2116)

The Red Army did not fight a defensive battle at Smolensk; its strategy was offensive and took the form of numerous counterstrokes, counterattacks, and counteroffensives like the one at Yel'nya. The Germans were held up at Smolensk for two months but the cost was very high. The Red Army's total losses approached half a million troops dead or missing with another quarter of a million wounded. (loc 2129)

the Red Army neglected training for defense, especially at the operational-strategic level, and was unprepared for the defensive war it was forced to fight in 1941-1942-a "serious mistake," says Zhukov, that led to high casualties. (loc 2204)

"It is crystal clear," wrote Zhukov, "that our forces could not have contained the powerful blows inflicted by the enemy during the first days of the war, that we did not have the capacity to oppose such powerful enemy blows, that the strategic initiative was in the hands of the enemy during the early days of the war." (loc 2212)

Kiev fell in mid-September and the Germans marched on toward the Crimea and Rostov-on-Don-gateway to the Caucasus and the Soviet oilfields at Baku. (loc 2405)

During the [Leningrad] siege 640,000 civilians died of starvation while another 400,000 perished or disappeared during the course of forced evacuations, many into the icy waters of Lake Ladoga during the winter of 1941-1942. More than a million Soviet soldiers lost their lives fighting in the Leningrad region. (loc 2416)

The Viazma and Briansk encirclements of early October had been even more disastrous than those at Minsk and Kiev in the summer. The Briansk, Western, and Reserve Fronts lost a total of sixty-four rifle divisions, eleven tank brigades, and fifty artillery regiments, leaving Zhukov with only 900,000 troops to defend the Soviet capital. (loc 2472)

by the end of October the German offensive was running out of steam. In addition, the Germans became increasingly bogged down in the autumn mud of that part of the world-what the Russians called the Rasputitsa (the season of bad roads). (loc 2503)

By March 1942 German forces had suffered 1.1 million dead, wounded, missing, or captured-some 35 percent of their strength on the Eastern Front. (loc 2733)

[plus] 40,000 trucks, 40,000 motorbikes, and nearly 30,000 cars, not to mention thousands of tanks. (loc 2734)

horses and other draft animals for transport, and their losses numbered 180,000 with only 20,000 replaced. (loc 2736)

Sebastopol fell in early July (loc 2763)

During July and August the Germans took 625,000 prisoners and captured or destroyed 7,000 tanks, 6,000 artillery pieces, and more than 400 aircraft. (loc 2778)

July 28, 1942, Stalin issued his renowned Order No. 227-Ni Shagu Nazad! (Not a Step Back!). (loc 2818)

officers were issued new uniforms, complete with epaulettes and gold braid (especially imported from Britain). (loc 2847)

Seven Soviet armies commanded by Rokossovsky attacked on January 10, 1943. By the end of the month the unequal battle was won and only 90,000 Germans remained alive to surrender. Among them was Paulus, one of twenty-four German generals at Stalingrad who went into Soviet captivity. (loc 3011)

Stalin had just returned from the Tehran summit with Churchill and Roosevelt at which they had promised Stalin that western Allied forces would, at long last, invade northern France in summer 1944. It was also agreed to coordinate the strategic operations of the USSR and its Western allies and Stalin pledged to support the Allied invasion of France by launching a major offensive on the Soviet-German (loc 3351)

By the end of 1943 half of all Soviet territory occupied by the Germans had been liberated. Since Stalingrad the Germans had lost 56 divisions and suffered devastating damage to 162 others. While the Wehrmacht no longer had the capacity to wage large-scale offensive warfare, it could sustain an active defense: Germany and its allies still had an army five million strong with 54,500 guns and mortars, 5,400 tanks and assault guns, and more than 3,000 planes. Despite cumulative losses that far exceeded those of the German, the Soviet armed forces had 30 percent more manpower, 70 percent more artillery, and 230 percent more aircraft. (It also had the advantage of greatly increased supplies from the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and other allies.) (loc 3360)

Operation Bagration, June 1944.) Between them the four main Fronts had 2.4 million troops, 5,200 tanks, 36,000 artillery pieces, and 5,300 military aircraft, giving the Soviets a two-to-one superiority over the Germans in personnel, six times as many tanks, and four times as many planes and artillery. (loc 3418)

The Soviets were informed of the approximate date of D-Day in early April and on April 18 Stalin cabled Roosevelt and Churchill that "as agreed in Tehran, the Red Army will launch a new offensive at the same time so as to give maximum support to the Anglo-American operation." (loc 3422)

On June 19-20 the partisans launched attacks on German communications, staff headquarters, and airfields. The partisans also acted as forward observers for massive bombing attacks on the Germans on June 21-22. The main ground attack began on June 23 and was a stunning success. (loc 3457)

Lvov fell to the Red Army on July 27. (loc 3470)

Between June 22 and July 4, Army Group Center lost twenty-five divisions and well over 300,000 troops; another 100,000 troops were lost in the weeks that followed. By the end of July it had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force. The destruction of Army Group Center did not come cheap. The four main Fronts involved in Operation Bagration suffered 750,000 casualties during the course of the campaign to liberate Belorussia. (loc 3475)

On July 27, 1st Belorussian was ordered to attack the Warsaw suburb of Praga, on the eastern side of the Vistula, and to establish bridgeheads on the river's western banks to the north and south of the Polish capital. These tasks were to be accomplished by August 5-8. Pride of place in the coming capture of Warsaw was allocated to the Soviet-organized 1st Polish Army. Recruited from among Polish citizens deported to the USSR following the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland in September 1939, the 1st Polish had begun forming up in July 1943. Its leadership was pro-communist and many of its officers Russian. By July 1944 it was about 20,000 strong and formed part of Rokossovsky's 1st Belorussian Front. Rokossovsky was himself part Polish, (loc 3492)

the Germans quickly rebuilt Army Group Center by transferring divisions from other sectors of the Eastern Front and from Western Europe. (loc 3500)

early October the Soviet attack on Warsaw had petered out and its bridgeheads west of the Vistula were precarious at best. On November 12 the right wing of the 1st Belorussian Front was ordered to go over to the defensive and the Red Army did not resume offensive operations in the Warsaw area until January 1945. (loc 3515)

The course of military events shows that the Soviets did indeed want to capture Warsaw and expected to do so quickly. When their first efforts failed, they tried again. (loc 3518)

By the time the uprising failed in early October the AK had incurred about 20,000 fatalities and many thousands more wounded, while the civilian population, caught in the crossfire, suffered somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 dead. (loc 3555)

During the assault on Berlin the Red Army suffered 300,000 casualties, including nearly 80,000 dead. (loc 3598)

Tsar Alexander I had been when the Russian army occupied Paris in 1814. Indeed, when the American ambassador, Averell Harriman, later congratulated Stalin on the capture of Berlin, the dictator told him "Alexander got to Paris." (loc 3631)

The pro-communist 1st Polish Army was tasked to enter Warsaw first and it did so on January 17, 1945. (loc 3647)

Speed was the characteristic feature of the Vistula-Oder operation. During the first twenty days of the operation Soviet troops advanced at the rate of fifteen to twenty miles a day, with some tank units going twice as fast. (loc 3657)

Between 1940 and 1945 the British RAF dropped more than 60,000 tons of bombs on Berlin, killing 200,000 people and destroying up to 75 percent of buildings in the center of the city. A great number of the city's inhabitants were homeless. (loc 3791)

A million German troops supported by 1,500 tanks and assault guns and nearly 10,000 mortars and artillery pieces defended the city and its approaches. (loc 3800)

Soviet casualties during the Berlin operation exceeded 350,000 while the Germans lost half a million with another half a million taken prisoner by the Soviets. Among the casualties were the 125,000 German civilians who died, including 4,000 who committed suicide in April 1945 alone. (loc 3870)

Zhukov's first big chance to shine in the post-Stalin era came with his role in the arrest of security chief Lavrenty Beria. [June 26, 1953] ... Beria was found guilty of terrorism and counterrevolutionary activities, sentenced to death, and shot. Sometime later, when he was asked what was the most important thing he had done in his life, Zhukov replied: "the arrest of Beria." (loc 4307)

One of Khrushchev's more unsavory career episodes was his role in the infamous Katyn Massacre of March-April 1940.... It was Khrushchev, together with Stalin's later disgraced security chief, Lavrenty Beria, who had proposed the further security measure of deporting the POWs' families to Kazakhstan for ten years-an operation completed by mid-April 1940. (loc 4365) [ G. Roberts, "Stalin and the Katyn Massacre," in G. Roberts (ed.), Stalin: His Times and Ours (Dublin: IAREES, 2005)]

In May 1955 the Soviet-western occupation of Austria was ended by the Austrian State Treaty. (loc 4624)

Kaganovich became manager of a potash factory in the Urals. (loc 4745)