While many of us are familiar with decisive battles of World War 2, operations these battles have consisted of remain in the historical background. Ironically, it is often the fragmented nature of battles and separation of its parts which made them so successful in the first place. One of the most, if not the most victorious country in the last global war was Soviet Union. Maneuvers and strategic prowess of its famed Red Army are studied in military schools all over the world, and are generally considered to be the masterpieces of warfare. Yet, among dozen of legendary battles Soviets have fought, there are a couple of operations that stand out as extremely relevant on their own.
Described as the largest confrontation of the World War 2, Battle of Stalingrad was finalized with Operation Koltso, the last and deciding of three operations in this battle. Operation Ring, as some call Operation Koltso, resulted in encirclement of Axis forces and their capitulation in the city of Stalingrad. Led by famed Red Army strategist Konstantin Rokossovsky, the operation was launched on 10 January, 1943. Encircled by Soviet Army, Germans were heavily bombarded. After a few days of break, Soviets continued with the operation, this time strategically capturing the airfield at Gumrak, which meant Germans could no longer evacuate their wounded men. With minimal to no supplies, German moral started to fade, and eventually south part of Stalingrad, where Germans were under command of Friedrich Paulus gave up the resistance. However, northern part of the city was under command of General Stecker, and found itself under heavy attacks by the Soviets. On the morning of February 2nd, it was reported by a German radio that Stecker sent one of his Generals to negotiate surrender and thus end what was left of German resistance in the city.
Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation
Better known as Battle of Berlin, it may possibly be the most famous operation of World War 2. Signifying the final defeat of Germany, it was a battle during which Hitler and few other significant members of German leadership committed suicide or died in another manner. Even though there were more offensives and operations in the following period in Europe, Battle for Berlin was a final major one. Noticed some 60 kilometers away from Berlin, Red Army’s intentions became clear during the month of January, 1945. In an urgent need of a swift plan, March was a busy month for Germans, as they had to come up with a brilliant defense strategy in a bid to save what was left of their chances to keep on fighting. Continued in April, Soviet operation was planned as an attack from the east and south. However, Soviets managed to encircle Berlin even before any sort of battle began. Reaching the city by the 20th of April, Soviet forces were quickly advancing, taking the city over one street at a time. Eventually, the last of German forces in Berlin surrendered on May 2. Yet, there were still some German forces who were trying to reach the Western Allies, as they preferred to be captured by them than the Red Army. Finally, the surrender was finalized by all parts of German army on 8th May, which is today celebrated as Victory Day, except for countries east of Germany, such as Russia, where it was already 9th of May, and thus use this date today to mark their victory.
Named after legendary Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov, this operation was one of two parts of Kursk Strategic Offensive Operation. These two operations were created as a counterattack to German Operation Citadel. Pretending to be in a defensive position, Stalin allowed Germans to take the initiative, and exhaust and tire themselves in the process. But his true intention all along was to wait for them to grow weak and then launch a vicious attack. Held by German forces for almost two years prior to the operation, this region needed to be freed as soon as possible. An offensive plan meant to be done by three Soviet Fronts was named Operation Kutuzov. Finally, the offensive was launched on July 12th, with initial results not being very impressive for the Soviets. However, the second phase of the operation which was launched three days later was far more promising. By widening their offensive and with help of partisan soldiers, Soviets now posed a major threat to German forces. Hitler strictly said retreat or surrender were not an option, but as days went by Soviet forces advanced so much that Germans on the battlefield had very little options left. By the end of July, German troops left the Orel base and started their retreat. However, despite Soviet victory and initiative it provided for the upcoming Battle of Kursk, this operation caused many casualties and damage to the Red Army, which is why its execution was later criticized by some of the major Red Army officers.