Operation Bagration

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  • Why was Operation Bagration so successful?
    • Deception
      • “Means of securing combat operations and daily activities of forces; complex measures to mislead the enemy regarding the presence and disposition of forces, military objectives, combat readiness and plans.”
        • “Surprise has a stunning effect on the enemy. For this reason all troop operations must be carried out with the greatest concealment and speed.”
          • Mask advancement
            • Those troops in the rear echelon when advancing to the front in Belorussia would conduct their own maskirovka before advancing (1 week before the Operation)
              • He was to see only what we wanted him to see … In many places we built fake crossings and roads. Guns were concentrated on secondary lines, from which they launched artillery attacks and were then removed to the rear: dummies being left there on the firing positions.
      • It became second nature to the Soviets due to intense operational planning.
      • Fool them into think it was Ukraine.
        • Soviet air activity in Ukraine was increased, but the occasional German reconnaissance flight was allowed to pass over the lines and photograph the ‘armies’ that were gathering there.
          • The redeployment of 5th Guards Tank Army and 1st Tank Army to the north was to be covered up, and an entirely new force concentration was staged, consisting of nine rifle divisions, two artillery divisions, and a tank corps
            • Soviets encountered  German  troops across the River Prut on the Romanian border, and were repulsed, but it was enough to convince the Germans they had scored a major success against the main Soviet offensive.
        • staging the false units required ten percent of the equipment and weaponry for every formation represented.
          • Plan was to divert attention away from the actual reinforcements in Belorussia and instead focus them on the false reserves that were ‘entering’ Ukraine.
          • Mock up tents, guns, tanks, kitchens etc. The soviets understood that the troops in Belorussia weren't invisible but the main plane was to divert attention away.
        • Second phase of deception.
          • Two weeks after the initial attack began, the 1st Ukrainian Front launched its own assault exactly where OKH had predicted the initial one.
            • Almost a double bluff/double surprise.
    • German Mistakes
      • Failure of German intelligence to determine the actual target of the expected summer offensive.
        • Even the most basic assumptions made by Fremde Heere Ost (FHO)—as to the morale of the Soviet troops proved wildly off the mark.
          • “patriotic wave of the summer and autumn is receding,” and anticipated that the Soviets might refuse to fight once they reached their own pre-war border.
      • High Command of the German Army (OKH), who consistently underestimated and misjudged their Soviet counterparts.
    • Once under way.
      • The encirclement of Minsk was blindingly fast, surpassing even Stavka expectations by 12 days. It had taken only eleven days to advance 400 kilometers.

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